“Brother Dan and I go back a LOOONG time; he’s family to me and was around a lot in the early L.A. punk scene. He’s always been such a good and loyal friend. Every time my bands would play in L.A., he’d prepare this rich Mexican food feast. The man is a walking music library; he knows a LOT of music stuff and came up with this great line that I’ve since added to my repertoire, but Dan deserves the credit for it: ROCKNROLL IS BELOW THE BELT!” (Tony Slug – Amsterdam 2022)
The early Los Angeles punk scene has received countless documentation over the years, with the figures involved whose work is responsible for shaping the music, graphics, and literature that defined the cultural movement. Names like Alice Bag, Claude Bessy, Edward Colver, Raymond Pettibon, and Exene Cervenka are only a handful of the notable names tied into this period, with plenty of obscure names who contributed to the influential scene. Dan Vargas is one of these names.
A native of Los Angeles, Vargas cut his teeth in the scene’s early period as a producer/manager working with Legal Weapon, Odd Squad, Sludge, The Brat, Cambridge Apostles (feat. Members of the Bags and Middle Class), Las Tres (feat. Alice Bag, Teresa Brat, and Angela Odd Squad)). His later work includes collaborating with Matador Records alumni Barbara Manning and fronting the punk group Four Way Hit (once having Tony Slug of Nitwitz/BGK/The Hydromatics as a guest member).
His group, Music on Fire, is Vargas’s latest venture and will release its new self-titled LP in May 2023. New Noise is premiering the album’s first single with “Work On Time,” a song whose cold-steel production is heavily reminiscent of early Killing Joke.
Music on Fire is comprised of Dan Vargas, Tony “Tony Fingers” Naranjo (lead guitars), Bunny Vargas (bass/backing vox), and Ken “Long Beach” Huntington (harmonica) with engineering helmed by Vargas himself at Safe at Home Studios in Long Beach, CA. Alongside his production credits, Vargas is an author whose book Hecho in Aztlan documents his first-hand experience and participation in the early punk rock scene around Los Angeles and Hollywood in the late 1970s. His East L.A. punk-focused No Cover follow-up was published in 2012 through Aztlan: A Journal for Chicano Studies.
Music on Fire will be available on vinyl and digitally on May 2023, with orders available via Bandcamp. Stay updated with the latest news from Music on Fire via their website.