Must Take All
Interview by Tommie Frazier and Gabe the Saint
50mm Staff Writers
Los Angeles today is saturated with hundreds of people that are attempting to make their Mark well known. It takes great effort, skill, and dedication to stand out from the pack. We sat down with a crew that after much adversity is definitely going above and beyond in the Graffiti scene. Their Graff can be spotted from Los Angeles across the country and even internationallyâ€¦
1. T.F: State your names and the crews you rep.
Sufer: MTA, CA, ICP
K9er: MTA, CA, SCRA
Apear: MTA, EI
Gas: Super Unleaded Gasoline: MTA, DTLA, West Coast (Wca) , JOR
2. T.F: Want to start with a question about the early days. What is some early history of the Metro Crew? I heard the it was originally a bus mobbing crew. Can you people elaborate on that?
K9er: I got into MTA in 1996, so Gas can probably answer that question.
GAS: I want to answer this with as much accuracy as possible.
Sufer: Tell me if this is accurate. When Skate thought of MTA it was because he saw the MTA signs right before they were changing over from RTD.
GAS: It was a crew that was not only a bus mobbing crew, but it was also created to serve all the functions of graffiti. Skate started it 1990 or 1991. Basically it was him and a bunch of the old CBS members. Many of the people that pioneered MTA were from both crews and are still around.
3. TF: This leads me next question. Who were the founding members?
Gas: Skate, Blosm, AZ, and Angerâ€¦That is who I think were the founding members.
4. This is directed towards Apear; who runs the crew?
Apear: We actually function like a whole unit.
Sufer: We function like a corporation. No one is the main head. When we hold meetings, we take what everyone has to say into consideration. Everybody speaks and if someone has an issue than we resolve it.
Apear: You actually earn rank. The more work you put in the more rank you earn.
Sufer: The more active writer that you are then you have a little more pull.
5. T.F: For the size of the crew and the fact that you people are very spread out, how do you keep the fire burning and how do you get in to the crew?
K9: We are like a family and handle our business. We are tight and everything is secondary to that.
Gas: Honestly, this is a family. This not a corporation. I do not work for any of these guys. They are all my homies and I have mad love for theses guys. I would not take a bullet for my boss. You know what I am sayingâ€¦that is real talk. They are my family and they are spread out, but they are like cousins and you go visit them and tag by his house and he has friends and they have friends. Itâ€™s networking man; I donâ€™t want to be condensed in one area.
Apear: Not everyone can get into MTA. You can put in mad work and you cannot just come up to us and ask to get in. We have to know you, embrace you, and like you as an individual to get in.
Gas: People come up and say, â€œYour Gas, can I get into MTA?â€ I did not get into MTA that way. I had to put in work such as kill busses, and come around. I had to earn my way in the crew. You just cannot meet someone and try to get into his or her crew. You have to know someone for who they are. If something goes down and I do not really know you, you might not be there. My crew is real people, they are family, I trust them because I have been in situations and they have been there.
6. TF: some crews tend to focus on or specialize in one or two areas such as piecing, Legals, bombingâ€¦etc. What would you say the crewsâ€™ strengths are?
Sufer: Bombing is definitely our strength.
7. GTS: What is fair game to you? Back when I started their were rules, but those are not too clear any longer.
Sufer: As far as how MTA represents itself, even for the new school cats like myself, we still carry the old school traditions as far as who you can go over or side bust and all the simple rules like throw ups over pieces and pieces over throw ups. No toy shit is going to go down if you are fucking with us.
8. GTS: What about bombing on murals?
Sufer: I first did it when I moved down here, but to each his own in Los Angeles. In Los Angeles, we are so against the buff that if you hit the murals and you are actively bombing hard and you are sick of seeing your shit being buffed consistently, then you are going to hit a mural because it runs much longer.
9. GTS: Do you see it as disrespect towards the artist that painted the vandalized mural?
Sufer: I actually met a muralist at the Home Depot. It is disrespectful and after I spoke to that person, I do not do it anymore. To each his own. The way a lot of people view it is that if you are bombing in L.A., you have to have some murals on lock if you are trying to get some place in this game. Maybe not, but that is sure how it seems to be.
Apear: I think that if a mural is fresh then I am not touching it. If it has been damaged then I am just another one tossing over it, but if it is fresh, I am not touching it. I respect all art and art forms.
Gas: How Apear said, I wonâ€™t be the first but I sure as hell will join in when someone else is doing it you know. I wonâ€™t start throwing rocks but I might be the one to break the window.
10. T.F: This one is geared more towards Gaso and K9er. Do you consider the early to mid 1990â€™s to be the best years of L.A. Graff? You guys were there in the frontlines especially in downtown. Any war stories?
Gas: To tell you the truth that is a tough one. Downtown is a grimy-ass- area. I have lit rats on fire, wiped my ass with my socks. I remember falling asleep on bus stops and being woken up by the police at 3:00 a.m. and spray paint falling on the floor. The cops were like, â€œHey kid what are you doing? You do not even realize that your spray paint is falling all over the floor. We can jack you up right now.â€ Most of my adventures happened when I was young and I really think that I should have been home in my bed. There is really no reason why a 16 or 17-year-old kid should be running around downtown watching fools shooting dope next to me in empty buildings. I have been hurt out there tagging. It is not all fun and games and it just a bad place to be at. You can just imagine what can happen in the worst part of any major city to a juvenile, and even as a man there are many crazy people there and crazy shit can happen to you. I have been electrocuted on a roof, I have been chased by dogs, cut by razor wire, fallen off roofs and broken limbs, fights with bums, fools trying to shank my homies. I have been caught up with many writers in many weird places. I have had the privilege painting with many writers that have passed It goes on and this honestly can go on forever. I cannot pick out one that sticks out in my mind and I just cannot really answer that question.
K9: One day I was hitting up a freeway sign on Aliso and Main Street. The homie Budg was looking out for me and I as I was climbing up the sign and began writing on it. Suddenly I heard someone screaming and it was this homeless dude. He was telling me to stop writing and he would not be quiet. I told that fool to shut the fuck up but he would not, so I finished what I was doing. I was heated when I climbed down so Budg and I gathered a bunch of rocks and began throwing them at that fool.
11. T.F: There has been a lot of drama, hate, and rumors about MTA on the web and on 50mm as well. What do you guys have to say to set the record straight?
Apear: Personally, the crew or I does not affiliate with any of the comments that are made about us on 50mm or any other site; I can vouch for that. We let it be, we leave it for the streets. We let the hype be.
Sufer: we walk the walk.
Gas: If they are not hating then we are not doing something right.
12. T.F: I know that you lost a few crew members. I met Ohjae a few times R.I.P. How are you guys making sure that they are still being represented?
Gas: Honestly, I push everyone in the crew to hit them up.
Sufer: Usually I hit him up where ever I go. I donâ€™t hit up much in L.A. but I travel a lot, so you might see an Ohjae throw up somewhere out there.
Apear: I want to say that Ohjae was a person that was killed through violence. Our crew will never forget him. He is a representation of our crew and he makes our crew stronger. Iâ€™d like to say rest in peace Ohjae. He will live amongst us at all times and I will hit him up at all times because he is with me at all times.
K9: Ohjae was a good friend of mine and I will always keep him in my heart. With that said, I will always hit him up.
13. T.F: MTA has always been a crew that has got up, but you guys have taken things to another level. I have seen MTA works in the Northern California and out of state. What areas have you guys killed recently and what gives you the extra motivation to go beyond?
Sufer: Well for me I try to push myself as much as possible. My personal opinion is that you have to be more than â€œall cityâ€ and away from where you are from these days. You have to go bigger and better than what everyone has done in the past. You have to travel and you have to be up in many cities and beyond. Even foreign lands have to be conquered if you are trying to be famous, and if you really want to see some real Graff. We have MTA bombs running in Argentina, Puerto Vallarta, Detroit, New York (big ups to Nomas for that). We have Bombs in Atlanta, Arizona, Alabama, Friscoâ€¦
14. T.F: MTA has been affiliated with other crew in the past such as RTL and CBS. Where does that stand now?
Apear: As a peer, I was not around them and they are not around me. I have homies from CBS, much respect to CBS.
K9: MTA, CBS, and RTL were once affiliated and we were just having fun. Then politics came in and we had to go separate ways. We are still cool with each other. There are no hard feelings, especially with CBS.
Gas: I spoke with the RTL crew and they are no longer my crew. Time has passed the problems we had were based on people and situations that were occurring in that part of life and life moves on, so I am cool with them. As far as CBS, I am cool with all of them, honestly. I still have love for them, I go to CBS shows. I have a lot of respect for Anger, Axis, and a lot of the older heads in that crew. They are good friends of mine. We departed, I guess not on the best terms and it never is, but I can see them today and genuinely say whatâ€™s up. Big ups to Anger and the CBS Family.
15. T.F: Everyone has seen the roller that MTA painted in the Los Angeles River, and many people I talk to about it have the same reaction that I didâ€¦How did they do that and damn that spot is hot. Historically, that has to be the biggest roller ever. What is the story on that and why Downtown Los Angeles?
Sufer: Our story is that we were at a meeting and I told the crew that we need to do a bridge-to-bridge in the L.A. River and that is how it was conceived. That night Apear, Toro, and I sketched the letters out using spray paint; it took us 2 days to sketch them out. The only reason that it is just shy of a bridge- to- bridge is because we started from the â€œAâ€ and worked backwards and that is why there is a little bit of space and it is not an end-to-end, but it is still big enough. After the outline it was strictly military operations-no bullshit. We emphasized to the crew that everyone needed to be dedicated and show up from start to finish. I thought that we could finish in one night but that is just my ambitious thinking. Once we realized the kind of project we had taken up, we knew that it was going to take the rest of the week. It took us 5 days from the start to finish nonstop. We would start at 10:30 at night and we would leave the river at about 4:30 or 5:00 in the morning.
16. GTS: How many gallons of paint were used for the roller?
Sufer: 300 gallons of white and about 150 gallons of blackâ€¦Oh no, scratch that. It was 400 gallons of white and exactly 100 gallons of black.
Apear: The first night we showed up with 75 gallons of white thinking that it was enough paint. Then as we started, we realized that we only had enough paint to fill up half of the â€œM.â€ The next night we went on our missions and we did what we had to in order get the paint to finish the project. The majority of the crew was there and we had shifts that worked through out the night. It was really hotâ€¦I am not going to lie about that. Honestly, I took it like a job. I put in my 8-hour shift and rotated with someone else the next day.
Sufer: Thinking about it now, the river was the right spot for that roller because nobody had ever done something like that. When it was done we I looked at it and thought to myself, â€œâ€ Damn, we just made history.â€â€ That is when I got hyped up because it was the shit and that is what we wanted.
Apear: Talking about it was easy, but when we went to actually do it, we realized it was a burn out. Getting the right proportions was difficult but the last night when we had to do the black I began saying to myself, â€œâ€ They know and they are about to come and get us. They seen this big white thing on the walls of the L.A. River and they know what it is.â€â€ All 3 nights that we started to do the fill-in, we had an audience sitting across the river watching us the whole time. We did not really know who they were, and at that point, we did not really care because all we wanted was to finish our project. It is just another MTA project.
17. T.F: Most writers have other writers that they looked up to when they were coming up. Can you give us the names of these early influences?
Gas: The writers that came out of the North East area, especially the SH Crew. CBS and UTI were big on me too. Cisk and Bash when I was really young were important. Cisk told me something that to this day I will never forget, and it is something that I keep in mind and I pass on to the kids now. He told me that it is not how many bombs you get up, but it is where you place them that count. Yeah, you can put up a million bombs, but look at that spot and tell me if it is worth going to jail for? If you get out of jail the next day and the spot is buffed, you are going to feel stupid.
Sufer: When I was younger, I looked up at fools from the area that I was from. The fool Sober LFC from Seattle, This fool Menes from Olympia ,and in San Francisco I was influenced by all those people that were bombing in the mid to late 1990â€™s.
K9: When I was young, my main influence was Hex TGO and it was not only because of his Graffiti skills. I used to go to his shop and I would talk to him and see how humble he was; I never met a humble Graffiti writer before. From 1992 to 1997, the busses influenced meâ€™ especially Harm that had the busses on lock and Oiler too.
Apear: When I was young in Graffiti, I was really slow in realizing who was who and who was putting in the most work and so on. All I knew was that shit was going on and that I wanted to be part of it and make things happen too. I cannot really say a particular person influenced me. I pretty much learned on my own.
18. T.F: Today it seems that everybody wants to write. As individuals, all of you bring something different to the table. What makes you and your crew stand out from the rest of the crowd?
Apear: Standing out from the crowd is one of our focuses. Anyone can pick up a can and catch a tag or go up to a wall and do a fill in. Yet, how many people like that are out in Los Angeles County? You have to stand out by going bigger and better.
19. T.F: What makes Apear stand out?
Apear: What makes me stand out is that I do not target my Graffiti strictly to writers. I target my graffiti at everybody. I want all people to read my Graffiti. I want some 9 to 5 worker in the gas building on the 24th floor of some building or someone on the freeway. I want you to be able to read what I am trying to say because I want to influence everyone I can. Plain letters that are big really stand out and that is how I do it.
K9: I do my graffiti so all people can appreciate it. Whether if it is a tag, piece or throw up I want people to get a happy expression on their faces. I want them to see something else than corporate billboards everywhere.
Sufer: It is just my heart and dedication for Graffiti. My goal is to be the best and not necessarily, the most up which naturally falls into place. I want to master all aspects of Graf. I am still a toy because I donâ€™t have ill characters or all aspects on lock yet and that is what motivates me to keep going out there everyday.
Gas: Being well rounded and longevity. I am able to attack at all angles, whether it is busses , freeways, the river, freights, roof tops, piecing, and characters, which I am not the best at but I try to be. I am not saying that I am the best, but I have been around and I feel that I am well rounded. I bring energy to the crew, we all bring energy and motivation to the crew. I have been here for a while and I plan to be here for a while.
20. T.F: What advice can you give the youngsters?
Sufer: Learn your styles, history, rules, and donâ€™t do drugs.
K9: If you are going to start doing Graffiti, then do it for fun. As soon as the fun stops then you are done.
Apear: Donâ€™t start and then stop. Make a commitment and do not be part of a fad.
Gas: Honestly, I would not encourage my kids or any other kids to do Graffiti in this day and age. Looking at the bigger picture, I would not do it again. Good luck and donâ€™t get caught. Try to net work and do not jump into the same crew that comes along. Be cool with everyone because the toy that you are sitting with in class can be the same dude that you might be painting with when you are 24 years old at a yard; the worlds takes funny turns. Respect everyone in the game because like a basketball game, you do not want to be pushed around on the court, nor do you want to be pushing othersâ€¦you just want to play the game.
21. GTS: With that being said, how do you guys think that beef should be handled? What advice do you give the kids? What is fair and what is reality?
K9er: Do what ever you have to do to avoid beef. Beef could be resolved by talking or just a simple fight.
Apear: If you start beefing with somebody then you should sit down and think hard about it. Try to talk it out first and if that doesnâ€™t work keep it old school and go one-on-one. Sometimes it has to be about simply throwing them chunks up.
Gas: Beef sucks and I say avoid beef. In retrospect, 9 out of the 10 beefs that I got into I could have probably avoided.
22. T.F: The los Angeles streets are sayingâ€¦
Sufer: MTA is the best.
Apear: If they are saying some shit, it will be good. Apear represents L.A. although he was born and raised in the Valley.
K9: We want more MTA Graff.
Gas: The streets are saying, â€œThere are a million writers out there and many of them are dope. Stand out without your crew and get up. Come get some but do not come out with some half-ass bullshit. Donâ€™t be in the game 2 years and fall off. Come get some.â€
23. T.F: Lastly, any Shout outs, disses, or words of wisdom?
Sufer: Free Nomas who put in a lot of work and is doing a little stint right now. Shout outs to the CA, ICP crews and all of the people that I have bombed with throughout my career. Props to all of you.
Apear: Shout out to all of the homies from the crews. Nomas, Tank, and all of the homies that I paint with and respects me.
K9: I want to give a shout out to Nomas, Clips, Sentor, Chad, Sufer, Apear, Gas, Blosm, Ohjae, Skate, Skesk, Regret, and Vital. Same (r.i.p.), who was like a brother to me and was my bombing partner that influenced me heavily.
Gas: First and foremostâ€¦My kids and my girl. And then Sufer, K9er, Blosm, Yeps, Renu, Klips, Resek, Berry, Strone, Wes, Phab, Some, Apear, Begin, Stesek, Twelve, Mutual, Ranse, Craka, Siez, Aviso, Nomas, Unique, Blisk, Phixer, Swan, Yoshi, Gogo, Jets, Toro, Hilo, 7dee, Skeme, Otherwise, Moe, Alas, Uzi, Fuel, Hear, Upset, Cyrus, Eder, Cream, Cache, Modok, Serch, Spuna, Zeser, Pysa, Chunk, Saber, Boo Boo, Miker, Aith, Care, Punk, Planet, Plug, Rayo, Chat, Crime2, Atick, Alecks, Malakai, Crae, Zuco, Budge, Harm, Teflok, Acme, Bash, Size, Cisk, Amoe, Escape, Anger, Axis, Tren, Tyer, AZ, Epic, Vox, Atlas, Circus, Mear, Vyal, Man , Duce, Gin, Petal, Sherm, Alter, Kofie, Chee, Pistol 45, Dove, Fear, 125er, Aone, Army, Befor, Belok, Bane, Beko, Nots, Bonks, Augor, Broke, Ceaze, Cloud, Macho, Kraft, Sloe, Copy, Devil, Dips, Doobie, Fishe, Jrock, Brail, Shower, Prell, Problem, Ohnoe, Cuens, Glue, Duel, Seltic, Skill, Skerp, Wesm, Psoel, Sever, Ounce, Dreye, Dtect, Ectoe, Eagl, Envy, Kween, Moz, Kwite, Sight, Tahoe, Ghost, Snap, Smurf, Flash, Dash, Never, Nevar, Base, Giar, Haste, Heck, Izm, Cisco, Jenga, Kel, Knux, Kudles, Merge, Opyem, Jwel, Rors, Phib, Pryer, Fuss, Prods, Branded, Smear, Dred, Plocke, Boost, Secret, Cre8, Chuck, Demer, Sed, Sentor, Skit, Snag, Sahl, Stag, Arco, Spurn, Solar, 2late, Trixter, Vader, Vaoe, Waste, Reups, Bogus14 ( and for real thereâ€™s lots more) , Asylm, Swank, Natoe, Bago, Jaka, Ohgie, Jungle, Duke, Nuke, Baser, Sheak, Pale, Poise, Unit, Aprocks, 2tsie, Acme, Akua, Aloy, Amok, Acuse, Animal, Disco, Aura, Ares, Ash, C92, Tempt, Cab, Caine2, Kasl, Chalk, Trigz, Craola, Czer, Dahm, Dios, Tofue, Destroyer, Dotie, Meex, Drast, Xtend, Zeus, Jems, Jabs, Mers, Ideas, Drew, Dye, Enjoy, Galo, Tuner, Giar, Goul, Drool, Gloze, Poe, Poet, Grotesk, Jerm, Jigz, Jimer, Just 195, Klean, Kub, Else, Evak, Tuna, Ewok, Rime, Lexo, Exist, Luxer, Maedae, Zwik, Midzt, Tar, Miner, Wisk, Clae, Niles, Ware, Nicnak, Puzl, Ralos, Omega, Ouch, Dox, Perl, Perk, Stem, Epso, Cops, Bhold, Phever, Plek, Relic, Suem, Res, Retna, Sacred, Sen, Jbiz, Dips, Silver, Versuz, Paka, Sonik, Sick, Yano, Slur, Bale, Put, Slick, Sleez and Thanx.
Free: Este, Booker, Sight, Dism, Nomas, 125er, Design 9.
Rest In Peace: Val, Jason, Ayer, Verse, Geso, Gyroe, Mean, Prin, Rasta, Regret, Rival, Vital, Dj Rob One, Skesk, Ohjae, Tolse.
(To see rolller in the Los Angeles Times follow the link)