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Where the Kids Play

Nathan Willett

Photo by Cara Robbins

Nathan Willett, lead singer of the Cold War Kids, has been out on the road for six months and he’s having problems accessing the memory banks. “Sorry, man,” he demurs through his cellphone when asked about his favorite Silver Lake bars. “We’re in the middle of Athens, Georgia, and my LA brain is just not functioning.”

Some memories are deeply embedded enough to recall. Willett and the other Cold War Kids grew up in Long Beach, so they started going to punk shows at places like the Showplace Theater in Corona or The Ice House in Fullerton. “We saw The Vandals at The Ice House,” he says. “I think it was the last show they had there. A kid got stabbed. It was crazy.”

And, says Willett, just getting there was a battle, “because it was a long drive in any direction.”

These O.C. guys now all live near each other in LA’s Silver Lake neighborhood. And their band has blown up, going on to fill bigger venues—Willett says it’s a tie between The Fonda Theatre and The Wiltern as their favorite theater to play—but they still drop in to catch the scene at The Echo, The Satellite or The Silverlake Lounge. And most of their work gets done in home studios or at late-night places such as The Village Tavern in Atwater or the Bright Spot. “Oh, yeah,”—he’s remembering now—“Taco Zone! The taco truck on Alvarado.”

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