Finding radio stations that play hardcore and punk are few and far between. But they’ve been around. I think back to listening to WNYU’s Crucial Chaos show, and other college radio stations infiltrated by our people. There’s something exciting and invigorating about hearing hardcore over the radio.
Out in California, Dillon Grove is keeping that vibe alive and well with his Your Life in America radio show. His show is available over the airwaves in Cali, but it’s also available in podcast format to listeners all over the world. He’s done great and selfless work promoting bands and giving bands exposure they otherwise would never have been able to get.
I know we all say things like that about people in our underground, but it’s worth noting how open Dillon is to helping bands. He’s always down to interview, no matter what. That matters. He and I talked recently about the show, his own life, and California hardcore.
How did you get involved with radio to begin with?
I’ve always been a huge sports fan, and in 2017 I started a blog on WordPress where I was writing about current sports topics just for fun. A friend hit me up about co-hosting a community sports radio show with him at a local station.
So, I went through all of the training and learned everything about being a radio programmer and we started the sports show on Monday nights from 9-11pm. It turned into a high school football show, which was cool, but it was a lot of work and after a while I wasn’t having much fun doing it. But through that I learned everything I needed to know about doing radio.
What was the thought process and connections that brought Your Life in America together?
While I was doing the sports show I started writing about different topics on the Word Press blog, more about experiences I had been through in my life before I got sober, kind of like telling stories.
I decided to name the blog 'Your Life In America' after the Ceremony song because I was listening to 'The L-Shaped Man' a lot at that time and Ross Farrar has always been a huge inspiration to me for many different reasons. Like him as a writer, a college graduate, a lyricist, performer and just creativity overall Ross Farrar was really inspirational to me at that time.
Eventually in 2018, I got burned out with the sports radio show and I wanted to do my own thing. People were reading the blog and I was writing about all kinds of different things, so I decided to make Your Life In America into a radio show. I already had the connection at the station and I knew how to do everything, so the station manager gave me the green light to do my own show.
For about two years I just played hardcore on the air and had my Aunt join me as my co-host and we just talked about random stuff, kind of like Seinfeld in a radio show. Those episodes are deep in the YLIA streaming library they’re actually pretty funny.
I had covered some local bands and had a few local bands on the show, but I hadn’t really reached out further to do interviews or anything because the show wasn’t a hardcore show yet. During the pandemic I started reaching out to bands for interviews just because I was interested in or liked what they were doing. Jeremy from Fury, One Step Closer and Anxious were some of the first interviews I did which is really cool looking back on now because I was just sending DMs from the YLIA IG with like 100 followers, but people loved the idea of being on the radio.
Since then it’s just been meeting people from all over the country, different scenes and stuff, and then meeting them when they come out and play California. But more so thanks to people like you, Davin from Marked for Life, Steve Myers (Heroes & Martyrs Records) and others who have put me in touch with people and bands.
Also, doing a show every week no matter what, I have close to 200 episodes now, just being consistent with doing a show almost every week and continually highlighting bands from all over the place. It’s not a podcast where it’s three hours of me giving my opinions or takes about hardcore, it’s one hour on the radio with a new band or guest every week and it’s about them not me.
You’ve been really active with putting on shows and helping out at shows in your area of Cali as well. What’s that experience been like?
It’s been really awesome. I grew up near the Showcase Theatre in Corona, California so we had a dope local scene when I was in high school and getting into punk and hardcore. But I got into drugs and started getting locked up and missed out on all my friends who went on to be in bands and get further into hardcore. I feel like I’ve been able to have that experience in our local scene over the past few years and had so much fun helping with shows, going to shows and watching all my friend’s bands grow, tour and put out music.
My friend Cameron (In Time, VCHC shows) has really taken the initiative since the pandemic ended to book shows in the 805. It’s cool though because we have a big group of friends who all help out, it’s like a collective effort. Vince Amador from Dead Heat does sound at all the shows, he records local bands, backlines all the local shows. My friend Nick from In Time put on a fest with Rapid Skateshop last month that was really epic. I was able to do the YLIA Fest last summer at Casa De La Raza with Downpresser and bunch of bands that have supported YLIA since it started, which was really sick.
It’s been really cool to learn how all that stuff works and do it, because now it’s like I know what needs to be done and how to do it, if we want to have a band play or set up a show. It’s been cool to see bands like Drain, Turnstile and Knocked Loose make Oxnard a stop on their tours. There’re tons of young kids coming out to every local show and moshing and young kids starting bands, it’s dope.
What’s been your most interesting/favorite radio interview so far?
Man, that’s a tough one to answer. Being on Zoom on the air with Danny Trejo and interviewing him about his record label was crazy, he was super cool and humble. I did a series called Your Life In Prison which turned out to be 11 episodes and two of them were live from inside Avenal State Prison, so it was like a real time interview both times having someone call from prison and being live on the radio with them. I had this 11-year-old kid Gabe on last month and that was so sick, he does a YouTube show called Kids in the Pit.
Any time I can talk sports with someone it’s my favorite, so Andrew from Combust and Dan from King Nine were both really sick because we talked a lot of sports. Young Guv, Johnny Hummus, and Grill Guy were three of my favorite interviews.
What’s one band you’d love to get to interview on YLIA?
Lee from Trash Talk or Hatebreed.
You’ve been pretty open about some of your addiction struggles on social media. How has music played a role in your sobriety?
Over the last few years I’ve definitely been more open about it, which has been cool because people have hit me up who are also in recovery or I’ve met people at shows that are in recovery. It’s interesting because it’s not straight edge, it’s much different, so meeting other people in recovery within hardcore is really cool.
What moved me from street punk into hardcore as a kid was the lyrics. My family was pretty dysfunctional, addiction and mental illness, and listening to the Casualties was cool for drinking 40s, but when I found hardcore I was like damn this is exactly how I feel. “I’ve got problems I’m a fucked up kid, I find problems I’m alone again” from Ceremony. Or “Please tell me the end is in my sight, I can’t take these worthless fucking nights” form Trash Talk.
I had this really strong connection to the emotional side of hardcore, all the Rivalry bands and angrier stuff like Outbreak, Internal Affairs and Lights Out. Never Ending Game, Death Threat, Hatebreed, Terror, like I listen to those bands and I never want to give up on life [laughs].
I haven’t retired from moshing, diving or pile ups yet so I still have so much fun at shows. Showing up to the gig early to help set up, staying late, going out to eat, talking shit, going out of town for shows, making friends. All that stuff revolves around music, and for someone who lived under a bridge or in a cell for some years, all that stuff means the world to me and makes my life better, positive and enjoyable.
Who are some newer/young hardcore bands from California that people should be listening to?
Ceramik, In Time, Torena, Greyhound, Bare Minimum, Detach, Outwest, Swingback, Firestarter, Major Pain, Abstain, Bent Blue, Saviour Complex, Sanctify, Clique, and Repo Man.
Most underrated California punk/hardcore band ever? You can pick from any era.
Your Life in America can be heard Thursdays 4:00 PM - 5:30 PM on KZAA LP 96.5 FM Santa Barbara, CA. The interviews are also archived across most streaming outlets.