My So-Called Punk by: Matt Diehl


My So-Called Punk
Written by: Matt Diehl
April 2007
St. Martin’s Griffin

I have this terrible habit, well terrible isn’t the right word. The right word is compulsion; I have a compulsion to hit up the Goodwill store every weekend. I’m convinced the weekend I don’t go, someone is going to drop off every old punk album, fanzine, and comic book I ever wanted. So, like a fiend I go, and I find some cool DVD’s, some good books, and my son finds the same. A few weeks back I came across this book for 99¢, down quite a bit from the $17.99 cover price.

It’s kind of like most Bukowski books in the sense that you can leave it in the bathroom, and read a chapter, and put it down, and you don’t have to worry if you won’t be able to follow the storyline.

Here’s the thing that bothered me about the book: there is a definite animosity towards Rancid throughout this book. From the opening pages where the writer makes a remark about the spikes and outfit that Lars wears, to the constant remarks about Tim Armstrong’s marriage, and divorce, to the sober lifestyle he tries to maintain. The writer definitely is on the Brody Dalle fan train. Many chapters are devoted to her, her and Tim, her and Josh Homme, her and well . . . everything.

I’m not going to debate her talent or the personal lives of these musicians. What does bother me about this stuff is the one-sided journalism here. I’ve had run-in’s with musicians myself, singers who want websites created then don’t pay, and other singers who want to be taken out to dinner, and wines, and dined in exchange for an interview. But I don’t let their egos affect the way I review their music. They may be assholes, but they may have made a few masterpieces, so, I sweep that aside, and review.

I think what I expected was a balanced account of modern punk rock. Instead I got a poor Brody, and fuck Rancid kind of book.

Well written, and well researched, just a bit biased.

Here’s a little overview of the book:
When it began, punk was an underground revolution that raged against the mainstream; now punk is the mainstream. Tracing the origins of Grammy-winning icons Green Day and the triumphant resurgence of neo-punk legends Bad Religion through MTV’s embrace of pop-punk bands like Yellowcard, music journalist Matt Diehl explores the history of new punk, exposing how this once cult sound became a blockbuster commercial phenomenon. Diehl follows the history and controversy behind neo-punk—from the Offspring’s move from a respected indie label to a major, to multi-platinum bands Good Charlotte and Simple Plan’s unrepentant commercial success, through the survival of genre iconoclasts the Distillers and the rise of “emo” superstars like Fall Out Boy.

My So-Called Punk picks up where bestselling authors Legs McNeil and Jon Savage left off, conveying how punk went from the Sex Pistol’s “Anarchy in the U.K.” to anarchy in the O.C. via the Warped Tour. Defining the sound of today’s punk, telling the stories behind the bands that have brought it to the masses and discussing the volatile tension between the culture’s old and new factions, My So-Called Punk is the go-to book for a new generation of punk rock fans.

Here’s a link to the first chapter:

Here’s a little bio on the Author:
Matt Diehl is a music journalist. His work has appeared in Rolling Stone, The New York Times, The Washington Post, GQ, VIBE, Spin, Blender and many other publications. He served as the music columnist for Elle for four years and now serves as a contributing music editor at Interview. He has appeared as a music expert on MTV and was co-producer of the acclaimed five-part television series on VH1, The ‘70’s. His books include No-Fall Snowboarding and Notorious C.O.P..

If you don’t have it, go check it out at your local library, or visit your local thrift shop.

Rating: ** * two out of three stars



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Polygraph, The Reckoning, Your Arsenal, Silver Snakes, Therapy Session – LIVE


Polygraph, The Reckoning, Your Arsenal, Silver Snakes, Therapy Session
Mr. T’s Bowl, Highland Park, CA
Friday, February 11, 2011
Admission $5.00
Time: 8:00 PM

Like every show I go to, it seems like all the real drama seems to happen outside of the club. From the moment we got off the freeway, on some dark little side street, next to a 7-11, the neighborhood starts going downhill. We make a right on Figueroa, and as we drive further, and further down Figueroa, the city turns into a ghost town. All the stores look boarded up, the people all, but disappear.

Once we get into the parking lot of Mr. T’s, the people that are there, seem to be band members that are performing that night, and they are all smiles. There is no overpowering smell of weed or the sight of band members staggering around like Otis of Mayberry. No offense intended to any town drunks.

Wait, hold that thought. As we were getting out of the car, we saw a Hispanic man come into the parking lot, riding on an old ten-speed. He was staring/closely watching us, and then just as he passed us, he parked, sort of crashed into the back wall of the lot, to do a combination of piss, and finish off a forty-ouncer of beer. We watched him for a bit, and then as we headed towards the door of the club, we looked back, and he vanished. I didn’t hear him pedal off, and we didn’t see him leave either. So, if anyone reading this lost an alcoholic family member within the last few weeks due to alien abduction, feel free to contact me.

Anyway, I saw Your Arsenal back in July of 2010, and I was blown away on how mellow the crowd was. I’m not saying this in a bad way. I mean no fights, no angry drunks. Just a bunch of people enjoying the music, and the energy. I picked up their demo at the July show, and passed along a copy to my Brother. He dug it, and wanted to see them next time they came to town. So, here we are in a building that was erected back in 1929(ish) as a parking garage, then converted in the 1940’s as a bowling alley, and those bowling lanes are still there . . . just hidden behind some large Wizard of Oz-type curtains.

The first band up was a band called Therapy Session. Therapy Session was good, not my cup of tea, but good. They were a definite KROQ type of band. Some of the same kind of emotional Cure-type stylings.

In between bands I got to hang out briefly with some of the guys from The Reckoning, and Your Arsenal. The guitarist from The Reckoning was explaining how they have a few bibles for sale on their merchandise table, and how they play churches. Being a skeptic I had to ask if this was a Stryper kind of gimmick. He said it wasn’t at all. He explained how kids and teenagers respond to the music, and sometimes ask for prayers afterwards. This was a fairly new concept to me. Sounded very sincere.

The second band to the stage was Silver Snakes. The standout piece of this band was the drummer, he really good. Otherwise, they came off like a beefed-up garage band. Their sound was . . . like if Rush, and The Cure (here I go with another Cure comparison) had a kid . . . that kid would sound like Silver Snakes.

In between the second and third bands, Chad Sengstock, the bassist from Your Arsenal, slips me a copy of their just recorded EP. Six tracks of soon to be classic tunes. I promised not to leak it.

The third band of the night is Your Arsenal. If you haven’t seen these guys before, go. Every single song is worthy of being a single. They have a free three-song demo that can be downloaded from either their Facebook, or My Space ( pages. The only thing negative to say about the set was the sound got a bit wonky, one minute everything was great, then the next you could only hear guitarist, Shaun Hale’s instrument, and then it would be back to normal again, and the lack of stage space. For whatever reason the first three bands weren’t allowed to use the drum riser, so the drum was placed on the stage, leaving each band member, about, eighteen inches of moving space. Otherwise the Arsenal was great!

As I’ve said before, somebody needs to sign these guys quick!

The fourth band of the night was The Reckoning. These guys impressed the hell out of me. The bassist, Tommy “Gun” Hilmes, played stand-up bass through half of the set, then he switched over to electric bass, and he sounded great on both. The vocalist, Josh, sings, plays guitar, and then on one song picks up an electric mandolin, sounded great doing it.

The killer piece of the set was when the vocalist says to the crowd, “This is a song for fans of 80’s rock.” And they launch into a punk rock version of Twisted Sister’s We’re Not Gonna Take It. Even if you’re not a fan of the song, the lyrics worked perfectly for a punk song. A bunch of talented guys.

The fifth band of the night was Polygraph, but by this time it was around 12:30, and I’m getting old so, we left after The Reckoning, sorry Polygraph, maybe next time.



Life Won’t Wait is out now, grab a copy today:

Top 10 Punk Albums


Top 10 Punk Albums

Number 10
Symbol Six – EP
Label: Posh Boy
Producer: Robbie Fields, Jay Lansford
Released: 1981

Here is a a great EP, back in a time when everybody wanted to be hardcore skinheads, these guys had longer hairs, and weren’t afraid to play ripping guitar riffs, fast and melodic. Classic punk.

Rating: *** three out of three stars.

Number 9
Black Flag – The First Four Years
Label: SST Records
Producer: Black Flag, Geza X and Spot
Released: 1983

This is one of the best collections of any band ever compiled! Comes with the classics by Keith, Ron and Dez that put the Mighty Flag on the map! You just can’t go wrong with the quick yet catchy songs that just stay in your head all day long.

Rating: *** three out of three stars.

Number 8
Rancid – . . . . And Out Come The Wolves
Label: Epitaph Records
Producer: Jerry Finn, Rancid
Released: 1995

What can be said about this album, it’s damn near a perfect album, raw, but catchy. Melodic, but harsh.

Rating: *** three out of three stars.

Number 7
Sex Pistols – Never Mind The Bullocks
Label: Warner Bros Records
Producer: Chris Thomas
Released: 1977

What can I possibly say about this album that everyone in the world hasn’t already? While a bunch of us knew it was an incredible album, the rest of the world still hated it. That’s how we knew it was ours.

Rating: *** three out of three stars.

Number 6
Misfits – Walk Among Us
Label: Slash Records
Producer: Misfits
Released: 1982

My Brother and I have bumped into Glenn Danzig a couple of times over the years. Real intense dude, still muscle bound, but I was surprised on how short he was, from the videos and pictures I always thought he was just a massive guy, plus he had that East Coast attitude going as well, that adds a foot or two.

Walk Among Us features the best material to come from the Misfits, and it’s also one of the best punk albums of all time. If you are looking to get into the Misfits you can’t go wrong with this album.

Rating: *** three out of three stars.

Number 5
Adolescents (Blue Album)
Label: Frontier Records
Producer: Mike Patton & Thom Wilson
Released: 1981

All thirteen songs are great. The stand-out cuts are Wrecking Crew, Kids of the Black Hole, Rip It Up, and of course Amoeba. All the instruments are played flawlessly, and on L.A. Girl, and I Hate Children you can hear Tony doing a bit of a Darby Crash snarl; it’s not a rip-off, more of a tribute.

Rating: *** three out of three stars.

Number 4
TSOL – Dance With Me
Label: Frontier Records
Producer: Thom Wilson
Released: 1981

If I were to create a list of my desert island top ten punk albums, ala Tower Records Desert Island Discs, TSOL’s Dance With Me would sit at the top of this list.

Rating: *** three out of three stars.

Number 3
Bad Religion
Label: Epitaph Records
Producer: Bad Religion
Released: 1981

I first heard Bad Religion played on Rodney on The ROQ in early December 1981. It was the title track Bad Religion. I was 15, three months from turning 16. Their sound was incredible to me. It had the power of Black Flag, but more polished a tinge of TSOL. The vocals, handled by Greg Graffin, were raw but sounded more under control than early Black Flag (prior to Henry). The guitarist Brett Gurewitz was on fire. I was really impressed with lyrics, prior to Bad Religion I always felt lyrically, L.A. was a little bit behind British punk in its messages and statements (I say this after just listening to Black Flag’s Six Pack EP with my Brother for the first time in about 25 years). But Graffin, himself, only being 16 seemed to have a message and/or a point to make.

Rating: *** three out of three stars.

Number 2
Everybody Out! – Struggle & Strife EP
Label: White Light
Released: March 2008

The bastard sons of the Bosstones meet the Sex Pistols. What can I say about these guys? I love ‘em.

Sweeney, and Bart bring us the Struggle & Strife EP. A 6 song EP featuring A Battle Song from the Red Sox Documentary “Rooters: Birth Of Red Sox Nation.” The EP includes 3 songs from the sold out first EP, along with 3 new bad boys to boot!

With an album like this you can’t help, but smile through it. It’s a good upbeat album.

Rating: *** three out of three stars.

Number 1
Clash On Broadway
Label: CBS/Epic
Producer: Various
Released: 1991

There are so many great Clash albums I couldn’t quite choose just one, I was leaning towards London Calling, but I needed to include Bankrobber, Crush On You, and Police On My Back, so . . . here’s my pick.

Rating: *** three out of three stars.

These are my choices, I’m sticking to them, feel free to post your top 10.



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Ron Reyes – Interview


By now most of you know the reunited Black Flag is without Ron Reyes. Not much to say, other than Ron has been a class act through the whole thing. And only the fans are left wondering what the hell happened?

The punk rock community is very tight-knit. They will talk shit about a band, but they will also be the first in line when that band reunites. Punks wanted Black Flag to be successful. But in all honesty, Greg Ginn is conflicted between being one of the originators of L.A. Hardcore and his need to be a guitar-god.

While he has been busy worrying about Flag and what they’re up to, it seems, his audience walked away.

Reyes did a good job, but maybe he should go jam with Flag instead.

I wanted to find out a bit more about what Ron went through without being too TMZ about it. So, I asked a few things without going for the jugular. Turned out to be a nice “fair” piece. Thanks Ron!

1. First off, I want to thank you for agreeing to do this interview. What was it like to work with Steve McDonald, Jeff McDonald and Greg Hetson (of The Circle Jerks, Bad Religion and GFP) on the first Red Cross EP?

Well I don’t remember any “work” except when we were recording the first EP. I wasn’t much of a drummer so the producer started taking bits n pieces of my drum set away. I don’t think I had a hi-hat for some of the songs he was all yikes you shan’t be needing that bit of noise making gear…those guys were great fun and I was the old fart at 18 years old.

2. A lot has been made of recording for Posh Boy, and Robbie Fields himself. How was/is your experience with Robbie Fields?

I tend to only remember the good things I guess. Hey we were a young band. Someone liked us and paid for our record to be made. What’s not to like. Try doing that these days.

3. How did you end up recording your first EP with Posh Boy?

Right time right place I guess. I don’t recall any drama or significant bargaining. Ya wanna do a record? OK.

4. I hope this isn’t too far out, here’s a bit of self-analysis. You’ve been in the music world for over thirty years as a vocalist, and writer, so the question is what does Ron Reyes bring to a band?

Most of those years I was silently raising a family. Focusing on that. Now that the kids are big I can play again. But I can’t say I bring anything unique that hasn’t been done before. I hold back quite a bit in Piggy because I just love the process of it all. If I was the tyrant I was trained to be I would not have a band. And that would suck.

5. Who were/ are your influences, musically, and personally?

I was a child of the 70′s so you know all the usual suspects. I’m not too eclectic. As for punk my experience with that was fully and completely wild and wholly fun fun fun with all those diverse first gen bands that had flair and style and color. I hate the black and white drone of hardcore that came later.

6. Other than being in the band you were in, give us some of your greatest memories of being the punk scene back in the 1980’s.

I am so lucky to have seen The Germs, The Screamers, Weirdos, Avengers, X, Fear, F-Word, on and on and many of the first gen English and East Coast bands on their early tours. All that was life changing for sure.

7. Tell a little bit about The Decline of Western Civilization experience. How was the experience working with Penelope Spheeris?

Well again what was not to like. We just did our thing and the camera ate it up. I’m not sure any of those guys really knew what they had in their hands. None of us did I guess. I am really glad that some of that got on film because you know we all did not run around with iPhones and tube everything. So it makes what little evidence of those days that more precious.

8. I wanted to ask you about your experience recording the Jealous Again EP and the tracks that made their way to the Everything Went Black album for Black Flag. I know there are many stories of you quitting one or two times during the sessions and Greg Ginn in turn crediting your vocals to “Chavo Pederast.”

I did not like the studio at all. Still don’t really. I prefer recording demos in my home studio that no one will ever hear. So that was no fun. But the only time and reason I ever quit had nothing to do with the band but with what I saw emerging from the new scene that was emerging. I loved being in black flag at the time. But the scene had lost its magic for me so I walked off stage into the grant white North of Vancouver BC and that’s where I’ve been ever since.



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Misfits -Various Compilations


12/20/1978: Max’s Kansas City;
New York, NY (2nd Show)
Label: ?
Released: 1978

02-Where Eagles Dare
03-Who Killed Marilyn?
04-Horror Business
05-Static Age
06-TV Casualty
07-Hollywood Babylon
08-Teenagers from Mars
09-Children in Heat
11-Blue Christmas
12-We Are 138

This album is a fair recording (bootleg) of a very early Misfits show. If you are a fanatic, get it – otherwise skip it. There is much better quality Misfits stuff out there. This recording of Attitude was released on several Flipside compilations. The complete recording has not been distributed.

Rating: * ** one out of three stars

Misfits – Covers & Rare Tracks
Label: ?
Released: 2006 (unsure of release)

01 – 2 Minutos – Me Convertí en un marciano
02 – 88 Fingers Louie – Night of the Living Dead
03 – Aerial M – Last Caress
04 – AFI – Halloween
05 – AFI – Last Caress
06 – Badass – Astro Zombies (Live)
07 – Bratmobile – Where Eagles Dare
08 – Buck O’Nine – Teenagers from Mars
09 – Cradle of Filth – Death Comes Ripping
10 – Dead Milkmen – Astro Zombies (Live 1990)
11 – Deadguy – Horror Business
12 – Ed Gein’s Car – Last Caress
13 – Entombed – Hollywood Babylon
14 – Eye Q – Last Caress
15 – Guns ‘N Roses – Attitude
16 – Hellacopters – Bullet
17 – Jawbreaker – Astro Zombies (& Others)
18 – Lemonheads – Skulls
19 – Metallica – Die, Die My Darling
20 – Metallica – Last Caress (Acoustic)
21 – Metallica – Last Caress/Green Hell
22 – Misfits – Mephisto Waltz
23 – Misfits – Rise Above (Black Flag Cover)
24 – Misfits – Runaway
25 – Misfits & Balzac – Day the Earth Caught Fire
26 – Misfits & Henry Rollins – Bullet (Live @ the Whiskey ’82)
27 – Necromantik Sunshine – London Dungeon
28 – No Use for a Name – Hybrid Moments
29 – Refused – Bullet
30 – Rocket from the Crypt – I Turned Into a Martian (Live)
31 – War Called Peace – Skulls

Over the past few years the record conventions, and web have been overwhelmed with stuff like this. Glenn Danzig in the Misfits was bad-ass, without Danzig they are a few old guys playing dress up. People are so hyped to get these bootlegs that they’ll combine a recording of Glenn clearing his throat to a drum beat. Again, if you are a fanatic, get it – otherwise skip it. The Lemonheads version of Skulls is interesting.

Rating: ** * two out of three stars

Beware: The Complete Singles
Label: Destroy Fascism Records
Released: 1994

01-Cough/Cool [06/1977 Rainbow Studio]
02-She [06/1977 Rainbow Studio]
03-Bullet [01/1978 C.I. Recording]
04-We Are 138 [01/1978 C.I. Recording]
05-Attitude [01/1978 C.I. Recording]
06-Hollywood Babylon [01/1978 C.I. Recording]
07-Horror Business [01/1979 C.I. Recording]
08-Teenagers from Mars [01/1979 C.I. Recording]
09-Night of the Living Dead [01/1979 C.I. Recording]
10-Where Eagles Dare [06/1979 the Song Shop]
11-Rat Fink [06/1979 the Song Shop]
12-London Dungeon [06/1979 the Song Shop]
13-Horror Hotel [08/1980 Master Sound]
14-Ghouls Night Out [08/1980 Master Sound]
15-Halloween [08/1980 Master Sound]
16-Halloween II [1981 Mix-O-Lydian]
17-20 Eyes [1981 Mix-O-Lydian]
18-Night of the Living Dead [12/17/1981: The Ritz; New York, NY]
19-Astro Zombies [12/17/1981: The Ritz; New York, NY]
20-Horror Business [12/17/1981: The Ritz; New York, NY]
21-London Dungeon [12/17/1981: The Ritz; New York, NY]
22-All Hell Breaks Loose [12/17/1981: The Ritz; New York, NY]
23-We Are 138 Live:[11/20/1981: On Broadway; San Francisco, CA)
24-Return of The Fly Live:[11/20/1981: On Broadway; San Francisco, CA Henry Rollins: additional vocals)
25-Last Caress [01/1978 C.I. Recording]

Nice retrospective. Collectors will love it.

Rating: *** three out of three stars

Violent World – A Tribute to the Misfits
Label: Caroline
Released: 1997

1. Snapcase – She
2. Pennywise – Astro Zombies
3. Shades Apart – 20 Eyes
4. Tanner – TV Casualty
5. Therapy? – Where Eagles Dare
6. Prong – London Dungeon
7. 108 – Death Comes Ripping
8. Bouncing Souls – Mommy, Can I Go Out and Kill Tonight
9. Goldfinger – Ghouls Night Out
10. Deadguy – Horror Business
11. Sick of It All – All Hell Breaks Loose
12. NOFX – Last Caress
13. Earth Crisis – Earth A.D.
14. Farside – Return Of the Fly

This compilation presents fourteen bands doing fourteen different Misfits songs. It includes Snapcase, Pennywise, Prong, Goldfinger, NOFX, and Farside to name a few. Some bands decide to retain the original sound, while others mix it up a little.

Rating: ** * two out of three stars



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