SOMEWHERE BETWEEN HEAVEN & HELL
A veritable punk rock legend, Mike Ness recently celebrated thirty years of SOCIAL DISTORTION by hitting the UK on tour for the first time in four years. We caught up with the man himself to talk past, present and future…
“WE WERE JUST KIDS of seventeen starting a band. I mean, we didn’t really think we would live this long. The best thing that I remember about the music scene back then, on a Tuesday night we would go down to the Star Way in Hollywood and see Fear and The Blasters. Two completely different bands, but they were from the same scene. You could see Levi and Rocketts and the Go-Gos. It wasn’t so labelled; it was all kind of one scene. I like that because you could be in your leather jacket, and this guy could be wearing a sharkskin suit. We were all friends, stereotypes hadn’t come in yet.
“We weren’t even old enough to drink and we would sneak backstage when The Clash would come and we would help ourselves to their beers, and they would come and be like, ‘Who are you guys?’ ‘Just your fans’.
“My favourite period is still the first wave, where you had Johnny Thunders, even the British bands like Generation X, even the Pistols… They’re all blues based rock ‘n’ roll music. They were very musical and it was years before hardcore. The problem I saw with hardcore was it got violent with punks fighting punks, I didn’t understand that. And, all of sudden the quarterback of the football team shaved his head and was singing in a band, it got too easy.” |
“Well I’d already grown up with The Beatles and The Stones. That was imbedded me, and I was already into Ziggy Stardust and T-Rex before I ever heard the Pistols. So it was a natural evolution. All of us wanted a little bit more guitar, just a bit little more guitar, then I heard the Pistols and the Ramones, oh there it is. Also, the Pistols sounded how I felt inside. Coming from a broken home by the time I was seventeen I had all this repressed stuff and it all came out.”
“You’ll see the show tonight and we’re obviously better than we were thirty years ago. We’re better musicians, healthier, smarter, and you know, we’ve got some wisdom behind us, so you know, it’s been an interesting evolution because most bands peak out on the first five years and in ten years they’re doing reunions.”
“I obviously brought American roots with punk rock into Social D but I always thought I could never cross that line, like I could never bring in a fiddle player. I always felt a little boxed in. It was something I always wanted to do, it was very liberating, it showed people another side of me, and this year we got tour it in the States for the first time in eight years. It was mainly to let people know we’re still serious about it.”
“It’s just finding the time. We’re going to be in the studio in December recording for Social D. I don’t know if either [Social D/Mike Ness material] will be full LPs though. We’re kind of thinking now in these days it would cool to go back old school, back to the EP, so then people don’t have to wait a year for twelve finished songs. You can release seven, then release four more, put together a video, whatever. This way it allows our fans to not have to wait, we don’t have to wait.
“It would be nice to come back to the UK maybe next summer. I don’t want to promise, but we’re here now to break the trend of not coming. We were here four years ago and I still feel four years is too long, but it was better than ten, and now I want to skinny it down to one or two. I would like to come once a year if I had my way.”
‘Sex, Love And Rock ‘N’ Roll’ is out now on Epitaph