When Elvis Presley first shocked the world with his curling lip and gyrating hips, he inspired everyone from the Beatles and Bob Dylan to the biggest music stars of today.
And when bands like the Sex Pistols exploded onto the UK and worldwide stage, they changed the music world forever. With there almost dangerous mixture of pogo anarchy, screaming vocals, guitars and spit, everyone took notice.
Here then is the story of a man who understands both these phenomena better than most. His name is Thomas Lopez, better known in the UK as Tommy Blank, founder of punk band the Blankz.
The five-piece punk and new wave outfit were formed when Tommy approached musician Jaime Blank (Jaime Paul Lamb) about collaborating on some new material. Their first song was “White Baby,” Tommy’s autobiographical account of growing up in Arizona in the 1970s and 1980s as a white child, adopted by a Mexican-American family—a match that was a real rarity at the time.
Thomas Lopez was born on June 12, 1969 in Phoenix, Arizona, as Thomas Victor Lopez and he’s a man of many talents. A singer, songwriter, record producer and entrepreneur, but perhaps best known as the founder of record label Slope Records.
The label was originally formed to bring attention to Arizona's diverse and under-appreciated music scene. It re-released several forgotten classics by local legends, as well as new releases from Feederz, The Dickies, and T.S.O.L. Slope Records has now grown into an important force in the music business and boasts an expanding list of new artists, as well as a large collection of punk re-issues.
Tommy is clear where his record label is heading: “We deeply love the roots of punk rock, especially in our hometown of Phoenix, Arizona, but understand the need to spread the word about the good music happening today, as well. We know where we’ve been and celebrated the past, but the future is where we are going. We believe the record industry doesn’t have to suck, nor does it need to be the enemy of creativity, passion, or straight up, balls to the wall musicality.”
Most recently, Tommy was the tour manager for the notorious English hardcore punk band ‘Anti-Nowhere League’. They were formed in 1979 by lead singer Animal (Nick Culmer), guitarist Magoo (Chris Exall), Bones (Tony Shaw) on drums and Chris Elvy on bass.
Tommy described the U.S Tour as simply unforgettable. “One of the many highlights was a stadium show at Banc of California Stadium in LA with Misfits, Rise Against, The Distillers, Cro-Mags. We arrived at the stadium and our whole universe shifted from small club shows, to big production punk rock. As the day progressed we were setting up gear for Cro-Mags too and helping them get ready to open the show.
As the night went on we were seeing people like Billy Idol and Juliette Lewis amongst other celebrity types. The Misfits reunion shows drew huge crowds and all types of well-known artists showed up as well.”
In closing, Tommy added: “Here at Slope Records, we’re never going to sit around and just wait for the next big thing. We’re going to be right in the middle of the action, making noise and above all having fun.”
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