Backyards and bathtubs

“Fuzzy, surfy, punkish” Ventura County-based trio Wonton Soup will play just about anywhere — libraries, backyards, even a bathroom if asked. The plucky group, formed in 2013 and in its current iteration of guitarist Tyger Hernandez, bassist Michael Williams and drummer Eric Williams (no relation) since 2014, just wants to show people a good time. “We play everywhere — we like to play any place we can,” says Hernandez of Camarillo. “We don’t care, as long as there’s people.” Case in point: Their next show is April 22 in a backyard in the Inland Empire. In Ventura County, the E.P. Foster Library’s Topping Room is one of their favorite spots to play, Hernandez says. “We had a show there two months ago and everyone was stoked; we had a good time!” The band often travels to places like Los Angeles and San Bernardino Counties to play, but Hernandez says he wishes Ventura County had more all-ages venues. “Kids say to me all the time that they want to see us play, but the places we have to play here are 21 and up. So that hurts me.”

Untitled So Far

Wonton Soup has been perfecting its craft, practicing in Eric’s mom’s garage for years, but he just moved to San Diego, so they’ll likely need to find a new spot. Thankfully, Hernandez says they know the songs off their upcoming album — which doesn’t yet have a title — so well that they don’t need to practice much anymore. The 10-song record is guitar-driven punky rock ’n’ roll with surfy undertones and wistful, almost nostalgic vocal underpinnings. “It’s only guitar, drums, bass — just full-fronted rock and roll,” Hernandez says. The band is currently looking for a label and is hoping to release the album in late summer, in addition to booking a summer tour, but it will present a do-it-yourself release if a label doesn’t materialize.

American Idiot

Hernandez and Williams first bonded over a shared love of bands like Black Flag, Descendents, JEFF the Brotherhood and nardcore acts such as Ill Repute and Stalag 13. But long before they met at a party during sophomore year of high school, Hernandez had a thing for a different kind of punk band. A bit more on the poppy side, he fell hard for Green Day’s American Idiot album as a preteen. “They were one of my all-time favorite bands,” he says. “It would be a dream to play with them.” His mom bought him the album when he first started taking guitar lessons, and he says he would exclusively listen to it every day while learning all the songs backward and forward. “If I’m feeling nostalgic, that’s some tear-fuel right there,” he says with a laugh. He first decided to go to guitar lessons when playing the video game Tony Hawk’s Underground 2. There was a bouncy Rancid song called “Fall Back Down.” He says he remembers playing the game and bopping to the song on repeat. After hearing it so many times, he realized he wanted to play guitar.

In name only

Despite the implications, wonton soup isn’t a favorite meal of the band; Hernandez says he prefers Kao Ramen by Mama on Main Street in Ventura. He’s also not the biggest fan of sushi these days, having been let go from his job at a sushi restaurant, also on Main, when he had to miss a shift for a show. The real story behind the name is more mundane: Band members just decided on it while jamming one day, but it now has an interesting caveat, thanks to a tall tale. “We used to tell people that we met at a noodle shop. But then people started finding out we didn’t,” he laughs. The name makes it hard to Google the band, but it does lead to one song Hernandez doesn’t mind being associated with: “It’ll link you to the rapper Lil B. He has a song called ‘Wonton Soup.’ We are not related to Lil B whatsoever, but we are all Lil B fans.”

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