March 30, 2020 By Rachael Contreras

In our ongoing series on what we’re all doing while on Lockdown, we’ve asked our writer’s, musician friends, and others in the entertainment world what they’re doing to keep themselves busy. We asked if there are any movies, NetFlix series, Bands, albums they like to listen to that they could recommend. We also asked if they would be interested in something a little more personal. Like telling us what life was like in high school, and what their top 10 songs were back in the day.
We posed this question to Rachael Contreras. Rachael is a SoCal native and seasoned journalist. She said was all in on this assignment. This is her response…
Going to high school in the OC in the mid 90’s was like being in the epicenter of the best upcoming music.  So many bands like No Doubt, Offspring, Sublime, Save Ferris, Reel Big Fish, Ignite, The Vandals and The Aquabats. These icons had either already made a name for themselves, or were starting to catch the radar of the rest of the country. 
Most alternative-music-loving-teens (like myself) wore Dickies pants, skateboarding shoes or Doc Martins, and a band shirt or a shirt they bought at a thrift store. And for some reason muscle cars made a huge comeback for teens during the 90’s.  Manic Panic and Punky Color were used to dye hair bright pink, blue, green or purple if you didn’t just leave your hair bleached blonde with dark roots like Bradley Nowell. I personally dyed my hair purple or maroon my entire sophomore and junior years and never figured out how to get the dye out of the jar and onto my hair without also getting all over the bathroom.

When alternative kids like me weren’t wrecking the bathroom tile grout with rainbow colors that would never return to their natural state, or calling mom and dad to come get them because their crappy old car broke down on the side of the road; we were at shows.  Shows then would usually have as many bands as possible playing.  It was normal for a typical bill to have 5 bands with the headliner playing second to last and a ‘burner’ band on last.  Why you ask? Because bands were everywhere and everyone wanted to be in a band…  I mean E V E R Y O N E. 

If someone wasn’t learning to play an instrument in high school, they wanted to sing.  Not many of these high school bands saw the light of day other than playing in the drummer’s garage for a group of parents, but those that did… had a lot of competition.  With competition also came influence.  So many of the most amazing bands started before my high school years and continue to gather new fans today! 

Below is a list of my 10 favorite songs (in order) that were released while I was in high school that I blasted on the speakers of my ’78 postal jeep (until it caught fire in my garage and almost burned my house down.  But that story is for another time).

10. VooDoo Glow Skulls | Shoot the Moon

Is it punk? Is it ska?  Who cares, it’s fucking amazing!  No one could ever fully sing along because you need to have a whole different level of tongue dexterity to get that many words out that quickly.  The lyrics, the horns, the tempo are all so well pieced together it’s impossible to not be awe-stuck.  The current line-up may have changed a little but they are still as outstanding as they were 20+ years ago!

9. Deftones | 7 Words

It’s true; Deftones is one of my favorite bands so narrowing it down was nearly impossible for me.  7 Words put Deftones on the map.  In live performances, it was during this song that lead singer, Chino Moreno would jump off the tallest PA system into the crowd.  I was lucky enough to witness one of these jumps in 1998, during the 4th annual Van’s Warped Tour. 

8. Rancid | Time Bomb

This is one of the “happiest” songs I have ever heard.  It’s fun to sing, it’s fun to skank to, it’s just all around great for any age at any time of day!

7. H2O | 5 Yr. Plan

To a grumpy teen that just wanted to hang out with friends while trying to figure out life, this song just spoke to me.  I’ve been hooked ever since.

6. (Hed) Pe | Firsty

When I first heard the line, “You must be confused if you think I give a fuck.  Save your breath for someone that really does give a flying fuck” put to a punk sound with turntables and a DJ, with a light peppering of rap, made my head explode (in the best way).  Think Limp Bizkit but 100 times better.
5. Pavement: Cut Your Hair | Smoking Popes: Need You Around


This was a tough one.  I noticed my list was filling with punk songs and I was starting to look like a one-trick pony.  Not the case; I have a deep seeded love for many different types of music but high school was a different story for us all.  Pavements, “Crooked Rain/Crooked Rain” album is so good and easy to listen to but “Cut You Hair” is by far my favorite Pavement song (and their first single off this album). 
Being a huge Morrissey fan, I was immediately drawn to Smoking Popes’ “Need You Around”.  When I first heard this song, I thought Morrissey had put out a rock fusion song with lyrics that made sense!  I had never heard such beautiful singing with such an awesome rock melody.  Therefore, #5 is a tie.

4. NOFX | Don’t Call Me White

Punk in Drublic is a staple in punk rock.  With songs like, “Linoleum”, “The Brews” and “Lori Meyers”, all you can do is enjoy the entire album.  “Don’t Call Me White” is my favorite song off this album (with “Linoleum” a close 2nd) because for the first time, I heard someone really separate ethnicities (and made it sound cool) and as a teenager in the 90’s, it wasn’t an ordinary practice.  As a half Mexican and half “white” person myself, this meant something to me.

3. Tripping Daisy | Piranha

The entire, “I am an Elastic Firecracker” album is pure musical genius but by far this is my favorite song on this album.  The drum sequence and the way Tim DeLaughter’s voice is mixed makes it sound like it was recorded backwards.  Absolutely fascinating!

2. No Use for a Name | Feeding the Fire

Most songs start slow and build up.  Not “Feeding the Fire”.  Tony Sly opens the song with belting out a high-pitched line with fast music playing behind him that immediately demands your attention and makes you physically excited to hear more.  I do not recommend listening to this song while sitting in traffic.  The urge to scream this song while speeding down the road, feeling the wind in your hair is irresistible.

1. Pennywise | Unknown Road

Picture and album opening with the sound of an earie, muffled piano playing in the distance when a guitar slide hits and throws you into one of the most intense and primal songs punk has ever heard.  It’s fast without being too fast.  It’s deep without being profound.  It’s melodic without being sing-songy.  You feel chills when you listen to this song.  If you weren’t a Pennywise fan before this, this song will make one.

Stay tuned for more stories from our Writers!

It’s like you never had wings
And you feel so alive
| Deftones

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