Dying Scene caught up with psychobilly band The Dead End in their hometown of Pueblo, Colorado. The Dead End showed us some of the cool places to visit in town, including Solar Roast Coffee, Analogue, posed for photos, and sat down for an interview at the CR23 Bombshelter.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Dying Scene: Tell me about yourselves. Who’s in the band?
Carlos Gomez: My name is Carlos. I play guitar and vocals.
Pickle: I’m Pickle. I play drums.
Lucien Barela: My name’s LJ. I play upright bass, a little guitar, and backing vocals.
DS: Where are you guys from? When did you guys form? And how did you come up with your band name?
CG: Alright, that’s a lot. Let me simplify this. I’m just joking. Really. The Dead End, this band right here, has been together since 2017. We were previously, or I was previously, Dead End Stompers. Pickle, temporarily, was a Dead End Stomper as well. That band was established in 2012. With the departure of the bass player, I dropped the Stompers part of the name and continued as the Dead End. I asked LJ to play, he said, “Yeah,” and pretty much as soon as he hopped in, me and Pickle just finished recording our first EP. And things just started rolling from there pretty much. So, really we are a Pueblo-based band. Granted. Pickle is from Texas. I think Pickle lived here for a good six months before we started playing music together.
DS: So, I understand you guys have connections with other local bands. Tell me about the familial and personal connections between the Dead End, Diskount Vodka, and Last Reel Hero.
CG: So, I also play in Last Reel Hero. That’s my second band. I play guitar and do main vocals in that band as well. My little brother, Cauthli, is the bass player in Diskount Vodka and he also shares the same drummer as us in the Dead End, Pickle, who’s in Diskount Vodka with his wife Ellie. We’re just one big punk rock family.
LJ: I don’t have any other band other than the Dead End but Carlos and I are cousins. So, we grew up together and started jamming. I was originally a guitar player. I had to learn how to play upright bass when Carlos had asked me to join the band. So, it was a different kind of animal. But when we were young, 13 or 14 being in the basement, just kind of jamming around, playing guitar, you know, we had a band way back in the day. It was almost like a hardcore type of metal or nu-metal. Yeah, it was nu-metal band called Rapture at Dawn in the early 2000s, something like that. It was a long time ago.
CG: We were around in early 2000s. Me and LJ probably started jamming together when we were like 13 or 14, but that band probably started when we were a little bit older like 16 or 17. That’s how we got into the music scene, playing around, getting to meet other people. I met Jeff from Last Reel Hero playing with his band, the Fanatics, when we were Rapture at Dawn. And I never knew 15 years or 20 years later that I’d be in a band with him being Last Reel Hero. So, being in the music scene, I mean, it all comes full circle, really….a lot of friends are in bands with other friends and it’s kind of cool how everyone’s interchangeable. Yeah, it’s a good local scene and I am sure there’s way more other bands and connections and things that we can really deep dive into, but really that’s the meat and potatoes of it.
DS: Wow, that’s pretty cool. It is definitely a small world.
P: Even more crazy is the fact that me and Raymond Burton Estes (…And We All Die) played in The Coffin Boys together and we played a show with Fanatics in Dallas when I was 17 or 18 years old. And now, here I am in the city where Fanatics was born. Their bass player used to be a guy named Randy, he’s passed away now, but he was a Fanatic…and it was crazy reuniting with the Jim, Randy, and the band tons of years later.
CG: One time Pickle had some health issues and he was in the hospital and my little brother who plays bass in Diskount Vodka actually played with me and LJ. We played the show probably about five years ago to the day…I just got the Facebook memories. We didn’t have a drummer, so we did it acoustic. It was just the upright bass, me on acoustic, and my brother played the washboard. Yeah, so it’s kind of weird how it all intertwines. My little brother plays in the band sometimes. When we play bigger shows, I’m like, just play the washboard, just come on stage and play the washboard.
LJ: It sounds really cool.
CG: But we’re all, like I said, a big punk family. It’s kind of interesting how it all is. We all share the same practice space and stuff. So, a lot goes on in that garage, which is weird. It’s the same garage we started off in 20 years ago playing music. And my dad is a musician. So, his band with my uncle, Steel City Band, also uses this garage. So, that little practice area has had a lot of music in it for a long time. It’s kind of crazy to see it branch out into the tree.
LJ: It’s almost generational.
CG: It’s awesome.
DS: Talking about connections with places and people, what is the music scene like in Pueblo?
LJ: I don’t know if it’s anything specific. The way I see it is that it almost created its own community. Especially, here at the CR23 Bomb Shelter. You get a lot of these younger kids, but they’re definitely like a lot of regulars over here with these younger kids. And it was a good place for them to have that outlet, I think because there wasn’t really, not lately anyway, there wasn’t really any other places for a lot of people to go, especially the younger kids in the younger bands that were kind of coming up. A while back, there was Phil’s Radiator and that was the place. But since Cody Rheuff has built this thing, I almost think of it is not necessarily as a scene down here, like it’s the punk scene in Pueblo or it’s the metal scene in Pueblo. It really is kind of just one big community. It seems like that now because you see a lot of these guys support each other, which is really cool, even if they’re not the same genre.
P: There’s a bunch of metal bands here, but we’re the only psychobilly band. Diskount Vodka is the only punk rock band. And then Last Reel Hero is the only ska band in Pueblo, I believe.
CG: There’s quite a few metal bands but I think the way we are with our genres, they are with theirs. One’s like, well, we’re doom and the other one’s like we’re metalcore or whatever. So, I think every band is very diverse and that’s what makes it special because you don’t come to these shows and see just the same band over and over again. This place diverse and it is a community. It’s a community where everyone comes together no matter what. They don’t know what’s in store. Once again, we’re a psychobilly band. So, I like our local scene here. There is no specific genre of scene like LJ said. And, I mean, we’re not that small of a town. I dunno how to say this, but we’re also not that big. So, it’s a weird scene that we have because everyone does support each other and it’s not all likewise music or the same shit.
DS: That’s a perfect segue to my next question. How would you describe your music to someone who hasn’t heard of you? Rockabilly?
CG: That’s an awesome question because I have to answer this a billion times a day. No, honestly, to a person who has never heard the subgenre psychobilly or the genre rockabilly, I have to say it’s really stripped-down 1950s rock and roll, primarily blues-based or even hillbilly-based, hence the billy part. But when you get to psychobilly… The 50’s was almost a hundred years ago. Things evolve. Things change. And from my understanding, in the 80s you had neo-rockabilly bands, like The Stray Cats, who were coming out. Well, in England you had P. Paul Fenech from The Meteors who liked the Stray Cats. Yeah, that’s cool. But to him it was hokey. It wasn’t as rebellious as the 50s could be. And he’s like, okay, let’s put some balls behind this rock and roll music. It’s like, I like the upright bass, I like the guitar picking but there could be a little more oomph, a little more angst behind it. And so when I describe our music, I say it’s almost like 50s rock and roll, but with a punk rock twist. Definitely there’s a lot of punk rock attitude in our music. A lot of punk rock influence. I mean, a lot of the first bands that I’ve heard that were punk rock bands actually reminded me of 50s rock and roll bands, like the Misfits and the Ramones. So, it all goes hand in hand and it’s kind of silly. I kind of manipulated that answer depending on who I’m talking to. If I’m talking to an older person, I’m going to really reference the rockabilly part but if I’m talking to a younger person, I’m really going to be like, it’s really punk rock or whatever. But that’s what I like about our style of music. It can up appeal to a wide audience. I can listen to my music with my grandma and not feel ashamed of it because it reminds her of her time and it has those elements and it’s very Americana. I can also show it to my little nephew who’s into punk rock and he loves it just as much because he can still jump around to it and it gives him that good feeling. So, I try to keep it as a loose term, but I throw out some names to try to get people narrowed into what we try to represent.
P: That sounded good to me.
DS: Thank you. So, you mentioned the Misfits. Who are your biggest influences and inspirations?
CG: The Misfits. No, I’m just joking. No, geez, that’s once again…a little bit of everything. I had mentioned the Stray Cats. I was a kid. I was born in 1987. I kind of caught the tail end of some of that neo-rockabilly stuff that was in the mainstream at that time. La Bamba was a big movie and that had a big influence on my life. Who would’ve thought? But, with that being said, that movie particularly got me into The Big Bopper and Buddy Holly are my all-time favorite rockabilly rock and roll musicians. Fuck dude, Chuck Berry, Willie Dixon. As far as upright bass players go, Willie Dixon really put the standup bass and slap on the map. Part of Chess Records who wrote stuff for Etta James and Chuck Berry and everyone under that catalog…Muddy Waters, Little Walter. So, not only do I like Willie Dixon, who wrote all this stuff, I love all the artists that are underneath that umbrella…50’s doo-wop, but then you get into the 60s and 70s. We do a Tommy James and The Shondells covers because I love 60s power pop. I love The Doors. Then you can move on to the 70s. Shit. You start getting into, I don’t know, you do have the Misfits…you do have Talking Heads. I mean it just goes on and on and on. I can’t say there’s one thing that inspires me because I will go up there and no matter what I play, I’m pulling from all my favorite artists. It’s not just 50s guys or punk rock guys. It is from Ziggy Stardust, it’s from Puff Daddy. It is just whatever moves me will definitely impact who I am as a performer and what influences me. And I don’t segregate anything. I mean if it moves me, then there’s power behind it and I’m going to definitely learn from it. I think you learn the best from your influences.
P: Well, I’m a punk rock drummer at best. I like all these old-school punk rock bands but the psychobilly bands have influenced me here recently in my life. The PeaBrains really fucking good. The Brains have been really good. Rene from The Brains has been real cool to us when we were on Batcave Records there for a little while. Let’s see. Who else? The Meteors are pretty good, too.
P: As far as punk rock goes, all that stuff. Yeah.
LJ: I came into it a little bit different. I really didn’t know a whole lot about the genre until I started talking with these guys. I never was necessarily like a punk guy. I didn’t really know much about the rockabilly/psychobilly scene until “Los” showed me some stuff, which it kind of opened my eyes to it. So, as far as that scene goes, the Brains, like Pickle said, I really, really, really got connected to those guys. Mad Sin is good. I like The Quakes now who I’d never heard of before and these guys are really fucking good. But as far as me just getting into music, I was a metal to metalcore stuff guy growing up and I still like it now. So, playing guitar when I was younger, it was kind of like the usual stuff, the old Metallica, Megadeth, Iron Maiden, Pantera, Black Sabbath, stuff like that. And then as I got into my high school years, it was stuff like All That Remains, Bullet for My Valentine – I’m wearing their shirt now – As I Lay Dying, shit like that. And that’s what kind of got me into it and something that I still kind of gravitate to a little bit. I mean, like I said, I got opened up to this type of music and it kind of broadened my horizons a little bit and very cool stuff and very interesting stuff and I love the hell out of it. But as far as getting into it goes, those were kind of like my roots. That’s where I came from.
DS: That’s pretty cool. So, are you guys working with a record label? If so, who?
CG: At this point we are completely independent. We previously worked with record label but it was best for us to maintain being independent. I mean we put in all the footwork already, so might as well get the prize if you’re going to do that much work. The previous experience we had with the record label was genuinely good but I just figure at this point, If we’re working this hard, why not just receive the full benefits of it. I mean we live in a society where it’s all digital. If there was a major record label, if the right offer is there, and if we are totally into it, yes. At this point it seems like indie artists have more control over things and that’s how it really should be.
LJ: I agree.
DS: So, tell me about your current releases. When should we expect to hear some new music from you guys?
LJ: It’s actually in the process right now, would you say?
CG: We’re definitely in the process of recording some stuff. Honestly, by the first of the year we should not only be seeing three new singles but potentially a music video. So, that’s kind of the goal. Now we did some recording about a year ago at this point. That’s why everyone laughs about it. But we’ve been so busy, I mean especially with me and Pickle between our other two bands playing shows just constantly. We haven’t had time to go finish what we needed to do. So, this time right now is to not only go in there and plug in what we need to plug in, but just fine-tune everything and make it the best product that we can. So, when it comes out, people really do enjoy it. There’s plenty more songs out there that we are ready to record and we’re starting to work on. We play ’em live and people want to hear ’em and can’t. So we got to get ’em out to the people. And hopefully with all the work that we’re putting into these recordings, it’s going to help us do bigger shows. We just finished out a couple tours in the last six months with a bigger psychobilly band from Los Angeles called Three Bad Jacks. It’s fun and cool going on tour with your idol, but I’d rather it be our band headlining. So, that’s the goal. As far as releases go, this whole next year, you could expect at least if not a dozen songs, more.
DS: You’ve been performing locally and touring regionally for several years now. Where have you been performing lately? What is the biggest show you’ve performed or played at? What is the best show you’ve played? Tell me about the most memorable show you’ve played.
LJ: Oh wow. There’s been a lot of New Mexico lately, which is fun. I mean, I like it down there. There’s a bunch of cool bands down there that we played with.
LJ: As far as memorable ones go, it kind of sucks because we haven’t been back there since, but it’s called the Hot Rod Rock & Rumble here in Colorado. And it’s just a kind of a huge three-day car show event. They have swapping stuff over there. They have a ton of bands. It’s like three or four different stages at this thing and it’s a fun, fun event. They have a drag strip down there and we got to, it was like an opening ceremonies for the entire festival thing.
P: Thousands of people.
LJ: It was really cool. So we went up there and the stage was outside right below the drag strips. As soon as we start playing, the cars start going.
CG: We played like three hours.
LJ: Yeah, there’s a shit ton of people on the side and in the sun. Another band that we were playing with caught some footage of it. It was a Thirsty Crows. Unfortunately, they’re no longer together. They’re all really cool guys. One of ’em got some video recording of us playing and I don’t think I’ll ever forget that moment.
CG: That’s probably the biggest show that we ever played, just for the fact that it was this car show with hundreds of people, if not over a thousand people. We played our three-hour set was being played over the monitor system for the whole car show. So, it was a little nerve-wracking. I usually don’t get nervous but it dawned on me that people way over there could hear us. I was like, hey…
LJ: It was insane.
DS: That sounds very cool. So, what are you guys currently working on? What are you up to?
LJ: It’s just these new songs, like Carlos said. We have about, I think it was like 12 to 15 new ones that were lined up at one point and three of them pretty much wrapped up now. The first of the year is pretty much the target to get these things going out. We have a little bit of downtime and we’ve kind of came off the hill with the shows. and all this other stuff that we had going on and it was really like the music video stuff now, photo shoot stuff. Trying to get our new stuff out. We have the new stuff, it’s time to get it out there now and that was the biggest thing at this point. The content. It is cool to put up the show flyers on the page, but it would be cool to have another video out and all that stuff.
DS: That leads me to my next question. Have you achieved what you sought out to do as a band?
P: We’ve hit certain points. Yeah, we just need to keep going.
CG: Hell no, I want Everest and we’re down here. No, just joking.
LJ: I don’t know if I would ever really want to put a cap on something like that. You know what I mean? I think if something could be continuously just outside of reach, then I think that helps you kind of fight for it more. Makes you hungry. As far as achievements go, I think a lot has been achieved. I mean, I’ve been playing with some of the bands, I’m like, damn, these guys are good. Then to play a show with some of these bands that you’ve listened to and that they’ve shown me, I’m like…you almost got a little starstruck. You’re like, oh my God, playing with these guys now…
P: Direct support for ’em. It’s pretty wild.
LJ: It’s crazy.
LJ: Yeah. So, I think that’s a good achievement.
CG: I have to say so. I had aspirations a long time ago for what I wanted to do on so many different levels and one of the first ones really was to get an EP out. We got the EP out, no problem. Then I was like, well let’s just do another three songs. Got those out. But like they said with the shows, it was climbing that ladder of playing with bands. At one point you’re calling promoters and venues trying to get on shows. Now our favorite bands are directly messaging us saying, “Hey, what are you doing for this amount of time?” It’s really rewarding because you’re like, wow, these people are actually listening to what we’re doing at this point. It’s like they know what we’re about, what we’re doing. And a couple of those people have even reached out continuously and it’s like, whoa, hold on here. This person that I listened to as an inspiration for this long, thinks I’m worth a shit. So, like LJ said it’s like it’s good to have things out of grasp because it keeps you hungry. But I feel like thus far we’ve achieved quite a bit and I hope if the momentum maintains this way, we can get to Everest.
DS: So what goals do you have for 2024?
P: Just put out new music and just keep playing more shows.
LJ: Getting some new stuff out I think is probably a big one for us. When we did Hellbound, it was so much fun. I had a blast recording and promoting it. It was exciting. I like the recording process, the creativeness of it. So, I would say just getting every piece of that new stuff that we can out there and definitely trying to get another video.
DS: Very cool. This is a fun question. What bands are you guys listening to this week?
LJ: I’ve been on a Bullet for My Valentine kick.
P: I just got it mixed up so it plays a little bit of everything. It might play a little bit of like what he was saying earlier, it might be a little bit of punk rock or some psychobilly or it could be some hip hop, it could be anything at this point. It could be a little bit of everything. Might be some Poison, too.
CG: Just today, I was listening to Frankie Valli and Revolting Cocks, but as of lately, a constant go-to that I’ve been going to is this band called The Paladins. Neo-rockabilly, late eighties, early nineties, actually very Stevie Ray Vaughan influenced. But I cannot get enough of blues guitar and just these hot licks. I just want to just become way more proficient in just being an awesome lead player. A lot of that kind of stuff lately, a lot of Stevie Ray Vaughn, too. I would say Jimi Hendrix is my guy, but lately Stevie’s been more on my record player.
DS: Do you guys have anything else for Dying Scene’s readers?
P: And we have lots of videos on YouTube…ones we’ve made our own and live footage. We have all kinds of stuff out. So, check it out.
LJ: And if anybody’s ever in this town to check out a show, definitely come by here CR23 Bombshelter, too.
P: Yeah, this is a hot spot.
LJ: Yeah, it is. Cody’s done an amazing job with it. Even letting us come and hang out and take pictures and do this interview. It’s been awesome. Thanks Cody.
CG: Thanks, Cody. Thanks, Dying Scene.
LJ: Yeah, thank you, Dying Scene, for coming out.
The Dead End Photo Gallery.