SOCIAL DISTORTION

VLR catches up with Social D’s legendary frontman Mike Ness!

NEW RYHMES
I chose to produce the new album cos I wasn’t that happy with the last production. The songs could have come across a little better if they’d been produced by someone in the band. It’s something I wanted to get into anyways in the future working with young bands. Helping develop them and pulling stuff out of them that they didn’t know they had. I figured it would be as good a start as any to start with my own band and if I fuck up then there’s no one to blame!
In the video for Machine Gun Blues we were just like ten year old boys again, playing dress up and playing with guns.


ORANGE COUNTY DAYS

When I was 5 I would go into my babysitter’s, she was this old lady and I’d go into her guestroom or whatever it was, and turn on the radio. Whatever was going on I don’t really remember, I know things weren’t hunky dory at home, so that allowed me this incredible escape of like a fantasy. I just knew at that age that that was what I wanted to do. I didn’t know if I had any talent or not. And then the influence started coming from music around the house which would be like polar opposites with my parent’s. Mum’s was like The Rolling Stones, some folk music and rock ‘n’ roll. My father’s was more like blues, Johnny Cash and stuff like that. That’s when I first go exposed to stuff like that. I remember the first time hearing The Carter Family, something about the tone in that, it just had this like heartfelt desperation you know that just really touched something in me. And then I had uncles who were young giving me Creedence and Stones records when I was in 3rd grade. By 7th grade everything was David Bowie, T-Rex, Lou Reed and it progressed into the glam stuff so it was only natural that the punk stuff was next. But having that foundation was great of music of the 60s and 70s, whether it was Bad Company or David Bowie it was very blues based rock and roll.
It really built the foundation so when I did finally hit punk you know…that was why we were never, even though we were sometimes labelled a hardcore band I never understood that. Cos we were always like…we were listening to the bands of the first wave of punk which were I feel were very kind of traditional rock just speeded up.
The Sex Pistols are laced with like Chuck Berry you know…

YOUNG PUNKS, GO FOR IT.
It’s funny too cos you know when you’re 17, 18 you know you kinda like…I mean, I couldn’t make it through a 5 minute blues song for a while. It was just like ‘It’s Wednesday night and we were going out, put on Sham 69 start drinking these beers and we’re gonna go on out and make some noise’. It’s funny cos where I’m staying, my hotel is right on the border of Chelsea and Fulham and one of my favourite bands was The Lurkers. And I was like, ah yeah! This is where they’re from, this is rad man!

DRUGS AND UNDER THE INFLUENCE.

I can’t imagine what it would have been like to keep going (on drugs). Cos I mean it was fun when I started, and I started you know 12, 13. You know, thought it was just a harmless gateway. But it was you know, just my personality.For me it went down quick which was good because by the time I was 23 I was done with that part of my life and ready to start channelling that energy into the band.
It’s kind of when we started to really develop a work ethic and realise that you know if I wanted to do this professionally that I would have to start acting like a pro.

FAST CARS AND HOT PURSUITS.
I do surfing, I do yoga, I do boxing. I do a little bit of everything. I’m trying to stay fit cos at my age my body’s not gonna take care of itself unfortunately.
On stage you get in the situation where there’s no oxygen and you better hope you’ve got a little bit of stamina!
I collect 30s, 40s and 50s cars and customize them. Got some old Ford coupes and stuff. To me it’s another way of expressing myself, like the way you dress it emotes this attitude. It’s just another form of self expression.

THE FUTURE IS UNWRITTEN.
Right now Social Distortion, we’re having a good time.
This album hit some places on the charts that we’ve never been before and that’s great you know. Because you know I mean…we don’t really know what we’re doing you know, you know I’m just a musician. I still write songs to make myself happy and I hope that when I’m done with the record that other people will like it too. To get the reception that we’ve got at this stage of the game is great.
With the ‘Machine Gun’ video, I just like the fact that we made a short film. I wanted even less performance than it is, cos if people wanna see what we look like with a guitar in our hand then they can come and see us live, so let’s just make a short film that shows the not so glamorous side of that life. It was just really what the song’s about.
My youngest son is in it, and is a natural actor, he doesn’t know it but…you know I’m really proud to have him in there.

GANGSTERS AND HOLLYWOOD
My 3 favourite gangster movies are The Godfather, Goodfellas and Bonnie and Clyde. I started crying when I was a boy when that came out. Cos Hollywood made them so loveable.
Goodfellas’ just had really believable acting. Amazing, just really very convincing. That guy Joe Pesci was just brilliant…

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