The Brat was an influential Chicano punk band from East Los Angeles, California, formed in the late 1970s by singer Teresa Covarrubias and guitarist brothers Rudy and Sid Medina.
The Brat, a hardworking and politically-conscious band, nurtured the Do-It-Yourself punk scene of East L.A., which was defined by unofficial venues and backyard shows because the wealthier West L.A. circuit controlled the popular market. By the time the famous Club Vex was founded in 1980 - by Los Illegals frontman Willie Herron, who desired an official venue to host East L.A.’s numerous underrated bands, who were mostly Chicano - The Brat had become one of the biggest acts in the area.
Covarrubias, The Brat's well-loved front woman, grew up in the Boyle Heights section of East L.A. and listened to the music of her elder siblings and her Mexican American parents who had determined that their children would only speak English in order to protect them from anti-Mexican discrimination that pervaded Los Angeles. Benny Goodman, Bob Dylan and the Rolling Stones ruled the household.
While Covarrubias describes herself as introverted, the D-I-Y attitude of punk yanked her out of her shell. Pouring over the "Punk zines" her traveling sister sent her from Germany, Covarrubias instantly was drawn to the low tech D-I-Y sensibility of these fan-published music magazines. Punk's initial rejection of musical or artistic virtuosity appealed and beckoned to her.
She might have been withdrawn, but she possessed a daringly tenacious spirit. Watching her perform sporting her short black hair and what she describes as a "punk chola thrift-store" look, audiences never knew the obstacles she conquered to get on stage. Though her father doubted her singing ability, fans loved it. And though her band members tried to minimize her musical input, without her melodic soprano voice and lyrics, it would have been difficult for the band to receive as much critical acclaim as they did from reviewers and producers. Covarrubias remembers that sometimes audiences were surprised by her off-beat yet alluring stage presence and didn't expect much from someone so petite, brown and seemingly timid.
Covarrubias transformed punk with a decidedly East L.A. Chicana attitude. Long before Sinead O'Conner's shorn tresses protested the imposition of the "pop-babe' image her record company desired, she purposefully shaved her head when her management insisted she sing the Chicana classic "Angel Baby" and become the next Debra Harry. Covarrubias had very different plans. She placed artistic control of her music and visual aesthetics over the band's desire to make it at any cost.
In late 1980 The Brat was signed as the flagship band of the upstart label of another local punk group, The Plugz’ Fatima Records. This collaboration resulted in The Brat’s only recorded album, the EP Attitudes, a five-song collection of some of their popular originals featuring Covarrubias’ aggressive, yet melodic, punk vocals critiquing social inequality and Rudy Medina’s - who was called Rudy Brat - urgent guitar hooks over drums with a reggae feel. The Brat never found breakthrough success and remained an underground East L.A. Chicano act until breaking up in the late ‘80s.
Covarrubias went on to form other bands, including the Chicana feminist group Las Tres, and is still an important East L.A. performer. Although mainstream audiences failed to appreciate The Brat, largely due to the segregated L.A. music scene, they are now recognized as an integral part of the early East L.A. punk scene and an enduring influence on the Chicano rock and Chicano punk genres. Attitudes, their lone EP, is a lasting testament to the high quality Chicano punk music of L.A.’s Eastside at a time when only the city’s Westside bands were considered viable.