News & Politics

DC Band White Ford Bronco Weighs In on O.J. Simpson’s Death

"He’s a very complex person."

Photograph by Alexa Jae Photography.

There’s not much of a local angle on the death of O.J. Simpson, but there is one DC institution with clear ties to him: the beloved local cover band White Ford Bronco, a five-piece rock ensemble that’s been regaling DC with ’90s hits since 2008. 

The band’s name, of course, is a reference to that infamous police chase—the one from the summer of 1994 when O.J. , about to be charged with a double homicide, hopped into a big white Bronco while his friend drove him (at notably slow speed) down an LA freeway. To discuss this police chase and commemorate the departure of O.J. Simpson, we called Diego Valencia, who has been singing and playing guitar in White Ford Bronco since its very first show.

What was it like in the White Ford Bronco group text when the news broke that O.J. had died?

A buddy of mine told me and I was like, “Wait, what?” I went to groundtruth it at the exact same time that our other singer, Gretchen, sent a group text. It was very much like, “Oh, dang.” We were actually playing a private event last night and we were half joking, like, “Let’s cancel it, we can’t.”

So do you think O.J. did it?

Oh, that’s a tough—um, well, I think he was acquitted of murder in the criminal sense, but he was also found guilty in the civil trial. The verdict is very polarizing. I think we can all make jokes like, “Only drink milk because O.J. will kill you”—but I don’t know. I mean, common sense dictates that he’s probably the most likely candidate. And writing an If I Did It book is kind of silly. So, I mean, did he do it? Most likely, I don’t know. 

So White Ford Bronco has no official position on the guilt of O.J. Simpson.

I think White Ford Bronco would much rather focus on the fact that we’re celebrating the chase—that cultural moment in June of 1994—and not wanting to rehash or profit off of the death of two individuals.

Noted. You’re not an O.J. fan band.

Exactly. From time to time, there have been people who get upset, like, “How dare you name your band after a guy who murdered two people?” And it’s like, well, we named the band after an event that everybody can relate to, which was that slow-speed chase. The other things that happened in the news that particular day got completely eclipsed. Every single channel was watching this white Ford Bronco go very slowly down the LA streets.

But how do you feel about O.J.?

He’s a very complex person. I mean, I’d be very curious to see if there were any CTE issues he had, especially later in life. I think he’s an example of what celebrity and fame can do, positively and negatively.

How did you all land on the name White Ford Bronco?

I’d been in bands in Arizona, but I moved to DC in ’05. At the time, I was having writers’ block for my own stuff, and I thought, let me start a cover band so we can learn new things. I thought a ’90s band would be ideal. This was in 2007 or 2008—and I remember the first two people I suggested it to were like, “Yo, is this too soon?” I was like, “I don’t know.” 

But anyway, I was chatting with a co-worker and I said “I’m starting a ’90s cover band” and we were throwing names back and forth. Ultimately, he said “White Ford Bronco.” I said, “Damn, that’s it.” Because all the other pop culture references that we were making were not as broad as that. You know, we could make references to Seinfeld or Saved by the Bell, but you can’t guarantee that everybody saw that. You could reference grunge, flannels, Doc Martens—but if you want to look at grunge music, or alternative rock music, then you’re losing any number of folks who didn’t pay attention to that. But we were all watching that car chase—it was hundreds of millions of people watching at the same moment. If anything else could be more ’90s, I don’t know what it would be. 

What were the runner-up names?

Um, the Peach Pit After Dark, or maybe just the Peach Pit. That’s a reference to 90210. The Zack Morris Complex, or something to that effect, was one. That’s about Saved By the Bell.

Last question: Have you seen any good O.J. memes in the last 24 hours?

My favorite memes have been highlighting the comedian Norm Macdonald, because Norm Macdonald famously got fired from SNL, presumably for all of the jokes he kept on making about O.J. Simpson. A funny meme was Norm Macdonald sitting at the table for Weekend Update—he’s got that Norm Macdonald smirk on his face—and [the text below it] says “Well, O.J. Simpson can now rest easy knowing that the killer of his wife is dead.” 

Sylvie McNamara
Staff Writer