In the late ’90s, Los Angeles’s checkerboarding community was a vibrant and diverse bunch.
It was home to some of the city’s most prominent musicians, including the likes of the aforementioned Kurtis Blow and Toni Braxton, as well as a string of artists that became cult favorites like Skrillex, Travis Scott, and Kendrick Lamar.
But by the turn of the century, Los Angelenos were beginning to look a little more like the rest of the world: tired, depressed, and looking to escape their reality.
Los Angeles was a place where people were afraid of what would happen if they fell off their bike.
A growing number of people, especially those in the entertainment industry, felt alienated by the state of the art.
The city was in the midst of a violent crack epidemic and crime was on the rise.
By the early 2000s, a few of these bands and artists had decided to move to LA.
It seemed like a perfect fit.
The checkerboards were the latest, most interesting, and most relevant thing to happen to LA in a long time.
And the band was Austin’s Checkerboarders, which had recently debuted with a pair of albums.
In this interview with the LA Weekly, Austin talks about the origins of the band, his early influences, and the music he is making with them now.
In the meantime, here are a few facts about the checkerbands first album: The band formed in 1994 when Travis Scott’s father, David Scott, offered to pay for Travis’ rent for a year.
“It was a little odd, because I didn’t know anything about music or recording,” Travis remembers.
“But we all knew how to play the guitar and how to do that.
So I just thought, ‘If this guy wants to pay rent, I’d like to help him.'”
In early 1995, Travis had already been recording for years with bands like The Chemical Brothers and Kool Herc.
Travis was playing guitar and drum in a local band called The Chemical Bros, and they had been playing in the L.A. hardcore scene since they first started in the mid-’90s.
By 1995, the Checkerband was already recording their debut album, which would become their biggest hit, The Checkerbook.
“We were in LA, we were in L.D., and it was a really good time,” Austin says.
“At the time, it was like, ‘We can’t have this scene here!'”
Austin says he knew nothing about music production when he started the band.
“I was just playing around with my guitar, which was very new to me,” he says.
After a few years of playing with local bands, Travis realized the checkers were something new and different.
“There was just this new vibe, this whole new vibe about LA, and I thought, this is really cool,” he recalls.
“When I heard ‘Checkerbook,’ it kind of made me realize I had this potential.
We really wanted to bring a lot of that back to the scene, because the scene was so different back then.”
When Travis and the Checkers first formed, the band didn’t have much in the way of an official label.
The first album was produced by Travis, and Austin recorded the rest.
“The thing that’s always really fun to me is seeing how different we get as artists from the first time we start to work together, from when we record to when we put it out,” Austin remembers.
The album would also see Travis expand his musical tastes beyond his hometown roots.
“As we grew, I realized I really enjoyed music like Skool Hercee, and Skool Ape,” Austin recalls.
The band’s music would evolve to include songs from their first EP, A Day With Austin, and other songs that Travis wrote as well.
“So when I put out ‘Checkers,’ it was this kind of a departure,” Austin adds.
“A lot of our music had to be like this more experimental style of music.
It kind of came out of this new world I was living in.”
Austin and Travis started writing music for The Checkers’ next album, The Vampires of Love, which Travis released in August 1997.
The record would go on to win two Grammys, and it would become one of Austin’s most critically acclaimed albums.
“After The Vamps, I felt like I needed to do something bigger and more ambitious,” Austin told Billboard.
“And we decided to make The Checked Up,” he continued.
“To be honest, we kind of wanted to just do a bunch of different stuff.
So we started doing a bunch different stuff.”
The band released its second album, A New Way to Be, in September 1998.
The songs on the record had a more