by Dan Emmons
LA-based pop-punk band Cold Forty Three is a group forged from one of the finest states in the country for everything punk. Their skate and surf community fostered a scene that founding members Joshua Cruz, Moises Cruz and Ricky James Acosta were able to learn and grow from. CFT has toured the country, gone through member changes, been the subject of a reality TV show about pot and has managed to do the one thing that most bands in the genre fail to capitalize on, evolved.
Growing up in LA, Cold Forty Three were exposed to the skate/surf scene early. The culture of sun, waves and pop-punk music scene enthralled the three in the mid-2000’s.“Believe it or not, we are one of the few pop punk bands in L.A. that started in 2006-07 that’s still active, as far as I know,” says vocalist and bass guitarist Joshua Cruz.
Drawing from inspiration of bands like Audio Karate, Finch, and Rufio, the group built a following playing the same music that they grew up with. They saw a lot of support locally, playing famous venues along the Sunset Strip and began spreading out to new scenes on the national punk/metal tour Warped Tour.
Warped Tour, the only tour I was able to save up enough money every summer to go see, is basically the proving ground for up and coming bands. Not only do they get their touring chops but bands play with some big names. Cold Forty Three embraced the challenge and the party that is Warped. “You dont sleep very much, and sometimes we drink way too much, but, it’s something that anybody, any band, should be a part of,” Cruz says. “If you get a chance to be backstage after the show, you’ll pretty much see the wildest party you’ve ever been to in your life!”
The rigorous schedule, long hours and heat are something to test a band, but the guys focused on the cool new people they got to meet and cities to travel to. They became close friends with a pop-punk all-star team of bands like New Found Glory, Taking Back Sunday, Bayside, Title Fight, Man Overboard, Four Year Strong and many more.
CFT records show growth and maturity, both in songwriting and sounding cohesive and tight. “A band like us definitely has to evolve. Our first album to our second, our sound did change. We experimented with a few things and we were open to trying a few electronic sounds.”
Aside from the story-telling lyrics, which were a constant for the band, they ventured into even a screaming edge to their newer tracks. “Well, that’s just the music evolving. We enjoy being aggressive and that song was just a summer release, and our third album may not really have screaming, but it could,” Cruz says.
With new sounds come new fans and audiences. One audience they did not intend to attract was the following of Rock Bottom, the reality TV show that followed around former drummer Rene Haro and his marijuana addiction. “That particular show was a joke for us. Looking back, we shouldn’t have done it”.
They determined that the excitement of having cameras around in 2008 was cool to them but knew something was up when the producers would never let them be their normal joyous selves. The show didn’t portray what was really going on with the drummer. “That show didn’t really show you what was really going on with him- dude was a disaster.”
These days, Cold Forty Three is listening to a lot of 90s music on their cruises and in their headphones. Gin Blossoms, Bad Religion, NOFX, Rancid, Blink 182, Emarosa, Death Cab for Cutie and more accompany them as they are still writing for their next album. Telling jokes and writing music in LA sounds pretty cool, but the band assured me they are trying to get out to the East Coast and specifically Philly really soon. In the words of Cruz, “West Coast out!”