Thirty years before the space at 1301 N. Manhattan Ave. in Hermosa Beach became Abigaile, it was known as “The Church,” a combined living and rehearsal space for several of the most influential punk/hardcore bands in music history. As seen during an interview in the seminal documentary The Decline of Western Civilization, members of Black Flag were paying about $16 a month to rent out a closet in the abandoned Baptist church, rehearsing where they slept and trying to make enough money to buy some food (although the Colt 45 seemed to be flowing like water).
As mentioned in the clip, Black Flag shared the space with several other bands and rotating cast members of the South Bay Hardcore scene like Descendents, Red Cross (later to become Redd Kross due to legal issues), Circle Jerks, and The Last. The label that put out most of the records from these bands, SST Records, was founded by Black Flag’s Greg Ginn and, for a time, was run out of a large rented room at the back of the Church. Scene legends like Keith Morris, Mike Watt, Chuck Dukowski, Henry Rollins and Steven McDonald were all connected to the Church at one point or another. The influence of these bands and musicians in Hermosa Beach and the South Bay would reverberate for years to come, including in one of Hermosa’s most famous punk rock exports, Pennywise.
Fletcher Dragge, one of the founding members of Pennywise, attended Mira Costa High School during the heyday of the South Bay Hardcore scene (1981-1984) and has seen first-hand how the scene has grown. He’s also had a hand in helping to foster and grow that community with Pennywise.
With Abigaile, our goal with the interior was to pay homage to the history of our location and its role in one of rock’s most influential movements. To that end, Fletcher and his crew of tattoo artists from 3rd St. Tattoo were given carte blanche over the blank canvases of Abigaile’s walls to create the feeling that this space was a gathering place and home base for an entire scene. They studied the portion of The Decline of Western Civilization that was shot inside the Church and have recreated some of the graffiti that can be seen on the walls behind Ginn and Ron Reyes, Black Flag’s lead singer at the time, during their interview. They also added their own touches including reproduced flyers from some of the hardcore shows in and around the South Bay and LA during those years up.
The video above captures Fletcher, Andrea, Charles and Jeremy, all of 3rd St. Tattoo, on the first night they took to the walls of Abigaile. Check it out.
Photos from the graffiti session below.