By Lee Zimmerman
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"I don't believe in the Mayan apocalypse," says Devin Peralta, bassist and lead vocalist for anthemic pop-punk trio Cobra Skulls. "Although," he adds, "I do fear the legitimacy of the Mayan calendar."
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While many around the world will mark the transition from 2011 to 2012 by feeding into global paranoia that the third year of the second decade of the new millennium will signal the end of the world as we know it, Peralta will be raging onstage at Propaganda with labelmates and best buds Dead to Me.
As indicated by his New Year's Eve plans, the frontman doesn't think the occasion calls for a fallout shelter or stockpiled peas.
"I don't believe any catastrophes are going to happen," he clarifies. Though, with a humanist's penchant for dialogic balance, he adds, "It is a scientific calendar. There's nothing bullshit about it. It's scientific. It's based on the solar system."
Regardless of what Peralta believes the significance of the Mayan calendar to truly be, it feels like Cobra Skulls, Dead to Me, and, really, the whole Fat Wreck pop-punk apparatus, would be spared entirely.
In the late '80s and early '90s, Epitaph Records was the leading force behind the formal codification of West Coast punk's increasingly poppy tendencies. Long separated from the original primordial hooks of the Ramones, or even the more classically musical accessibility of the Clash, the hardcore byproduct deemed "skate punk" was fast, tight as hell due to its players' formal training, and featured suburbia-influenced globs and globs of epic and/or sentimental melody.
Fast forward two decades: Much like the deflated balloon that is ska-core, the West Coast pop-punk bubble has popped thunderously. Aside from Epitaph, the genre's two cultural pillars chug along: the annual Warped Tour and Fat Wreck Chords, the music imprint headed by pop-punk godfather "Fat" Mike Burkett of NOFX.
Peralta locates his band firmly within this lineage, noting, "We're all from California. Being from the West Coast, I've always been a big fan of NOFX, Lagwagon, Swingin' Udders, Good Riddance..."
And so forth. He continues to list the benchmarks of the genre, and throws in a more recent addition to the fold, Against Me!. Upon reviewing his named influences — many of them still around today and, in fact, occasional tour mates of the Cobra Skulls — the spectrum is strikingly insular.
While the dominant trending paradigms have long shifted away from the long-shorts and wallet chains of postgrunge suburbia circa 1995, the microgenre continues to hold attention. Enough, at least, to sustain productivity.
"[Fat gives us] a little more monetary support," Peralta says, singing the label's praises in comparison to other operations. The band released its first album (and third overall) for Fat Wreck, Agitations, in September. "We're not paying out of pocket to record. Mike has his own studio, which gives us more time to record. They let us do what we want to do. There are no demands or anything like that."
And while many fear 2012 will be the end, Cobra Skulls, Dead to Me, and the rest of the Fat Wreck empire will continue to rip pages from the calendar like time doesn't exist. "I wanna be with friends, really. And we're good friends with Dead to Me. It was a 'We're not gonna do it if you don't do it' situation."
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