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There's no obvious impostor on the 2001 Warped Tour lineup to rival Limp Bizkit in 1998 or Papa Roach last year, but groups such as Fenix TX and Good Charlotte represent a questionable breed of punk band -- "underground" acts that started with real hope of becoming commercially successful. "That's the biggest thing to look for when signing a new band," Escalante says. "'What kind of punk band is this?' The Goldfingers of the world -- total opportunists -- there's many of those now. The last real punk band to break into this world is [Warped Tour-mate] Sum 41. They've been around, they've got the right attitude, they're very good at what they do, and they're getting mainstream success. I think that's the last one. There will be no more."
Certainly, though, as the talent scout for Kung Fu, Escalante hopes this prediction proves false. In bands such as mi6, groups bold enough to play a style of music that differs from the region's most popular sound and goofy enough to title an album Alcoholiday, he sees a reflection of his early Vandals. The climate has certainly become more punk-friendly since the era depicted in Suburbia -- see Hot Topic, the Warped Tour, the co-opting of punk slang and fashion by countless corporate campaigns -- but the music remains, as Escalante once dubbed it, "fast music written by guys with short hair." The stakes are just higher now, with platinum success a remote but real possibility. Escalante considers The Offspring and Green Day, acts that spent years recording for indie labels and playing tiny clubs, to be real punks who beat lottery-style odds. He's resigned to the fact that The Vandals aren't going to hit the jackpot, but with mi6 and its Kung Fu ilk, Escalante can still dream.