The Distillers – Coral Fang


The Distillers
Coral Fang
Sire Records
October 14, 2003
Producer: Gil Norton

1. Drain the Blood
2. Dismantle Me
3. Die on a Rope
4. The Gallow Is God
5. Coral Fang
6. The Hunger
7. Hall of Mirrors
8. Beat Your Heart Out
9. Love Is Paranoid
10. For Tonight You’re Only Here to Know
11. Death Sex

The Distillers first came together in late 1998 when Australian-born guitarist Brody Dalle met bassist Kim Chi and the two bonded over their love for playing punk. They proceeded to recruit Detroit guitarist Rose Mazzola and drummer Matt Young.

Signed to Epitaph Records, the band issued their self-titled debut in April 2000. Sing Sing Death House appeared the same year, but was re-released in early 2002 thanks to the sudden popularity of “Seneca Falls.” By now, Kim Chi had left the group to join Exene Cervenka in her band, the Original Sinners. Ryan Sinn stepped in to replace her; Matt departed to join Chi while Mazzola left during the height of “Seneca Falls”. By summer 2002, The Distillers were composed of Dalle, Sinn, and new drummer Andy Granelli; joint American dates with No Doubt and Garbage were planned for later that fall. Guitarist/vocalist Tony Bradley joined The Distillers in time for the recording of their third album and major-label debut, Coral Fang, which was released in 2003 by Sire.

Granelli left the band in early 2005, moving on to play with Darker My Love, and by summer, Sinn had exited as well, later joining up with Angels and Airwaves. Despite rumors, The Distillers, now just Dalle and Bradley, denied that they were breaking up, instead simply going on hiatus. In 2006, the two remaining members formally announced the band’s disbandment and went on to form Spinnerette together.

Coral Fang was the third and final album by The Distillers. Released on Sire Records in 2003, this record marked their major label debut. It peaked at #97 in the US and #46 in the UK.

Rating: ** * two out of three stars.

On to the story . . .

Back in either July or August of 1997, I met an older guy who went by the name of Harley. He was an old biker. He looked like the mountain man from The Oak Ridge Boys. Long gray beard, long salt and pepper hair, it was hard to make out his age, late fifties, early sixties, who knows.

Anyhow, I met Harley within a week or so of getting to Pitchess Detention Center – East Facility in Castaic, California. He was the second in charge of the “white car.” The head guy was a dude named Red. Red was a shoeshine, so he was never around. He was always buffing the officer’s black boots.

In Red’s absence, Harley oversaw all the day-to-day drama amongst the whites, or as we were called the “Woods.”

Harley was originally sentenced to nine months at Pitchess, but told the judge he wouldn’t be attending any meetings when he was released nor would he pay any fines. So, they gave him an additional nine months, then asked if he cared to reconsider? He told them to fuck off. He did the entire eighteen months.

Harley never wore anything, but the issued pair of orange pants, maybe some socks. At some point over the prior couple of decades ole Harl was involved in a serious knife fight that left a massive scar from his belt line up to the center of his chest. Looking at his stomach it made you think of a mountainscape in an old painting, all the lumps and crevices.

Harley took a liking to me, for whatever reason. I think he liked that I would read. A bulk of the whites that came through there were pretty sucked-up guys that were on meth. Then they would dry out, eat and then turn racist.

I didn’t care for the whole race trip.

Anyway, Harley had one book he was proud of, the M edition of the encyclopedia. That was his pride. He told me after a week or so that I could read it when I wanted to, and every day, he would come by with some tidbit from the newspaper, one day there was an article about Phil Tayor from Iron Butterfly. Turns out Taylor disappeared in 1995, and one afternoon while Harley and I were locked away Taylor’s body was found at the bottom of Decker Canyon. Harley spent a good forty-five minutes telling me he was murdered for his ability to time travel. I listened, walked away and tried to forget the conversation.

A month or so later, and the bulky white guy in the next dorm was upset about the amount of time I spent around black people. I was a barber, so I was forced to work with one Hispanic guy and one black guy. Then we were forced to bunk side by side. Anyway, this guy Tommy thought I should have requested a transfer to get away from people of color.

Talked to Harley about it, and he said he would help me move bunks, I said I didn’t want to move. He seemed puzzled, I said these other barbers were cool to me, and Tommy was an asshole.

Harley withdrew his encyclopedia offer, and we rarely talked after that. Harley was deep in the race thing.




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Symbol Six, Rikk Agnew, Barrio Tiger, A Pretty Mess – LIVE!


Symbol Six, Rikk Agnew, Barrio Tiger, A Pretty Mess
5 Star Bar, Los Angeles, CA
Saturday, June 7, 2013

I was lucky enough to be invited to the Symbol Six record release show last night and had the privilege to share a table with Edward Colver. Sold a bunch of books and met some great people, but as I do this I’m still observing the room, making mental notes and taking pictures because by the end of the week the show will be reviewed for Strange Reaction.

Over the years I’ve weirded out more than a few bands, I’ll be sitting in the corner, backstage watching band members fight over drink tickets. When they ask why I’m sitting there, I tell them, “This is where the action is.”

Well, last night as I’m manning the table I had two funny incidents worth mentioning, first, I had a guitarist come up to the table and pick up one of the Last One To Die postcards that I had left over from 2011 and says “Oh my god, you know Mike Essington?”

I said, “Yeah.”

He said, “A couple of years ago on a tour, Rikk Agnew said this was the greatest book.”

I said, “Yeah, he’s probably right.”

He said, “I want to buy one, is he around to sign this.”

I said, “Yeah, I’m here.” He shook his head and tried not to be so enthused.

The second incident was with a young twenty-something-year-old, who was three sheets to the wind. He wanted to buy something, either he was short on funds or didn’t want to attempt to count, so he decided to buy a copy of a magazine one of my books was reviewed in. I brought three different magazines. Instead of just picking one up, he did this “Eenie Meenie Mine Moe” thing that lasted about five minutes. I watched the whole time as he pointed to one magazine, then the next and then the next. It was entertaining. For all his effort I gave him two magazines for the price of one.

The show itself was an insane line-up put on by Symbol Six to celebrate their new release, Dirtyland on Jailhouse Records. The show was a combination of record release party and book signing party.

Based what I saw on Saturday night and previous experiences, Christian Death fans are a group unto themselves.

About four years ago I was doing flyers and event pages for Rikk Agnew and one of his fans from his Christian Death work texts me and asks if he could bring Rozz. I didn’t immediately get what he was talking about, so I said, “Yeah, bring whoever you want,” because I didn’t really care who he brought.

Then he texts back, “I bring Rozz everywhere with me in spirit, but only special events do I bring his physical being.”

Now I’m getting weirded out, “What the hell are we talking about?”

“I own Rozz’ ashes.”

“OK, why?”

“Doesn’t everyone want to own them?”

“Um, yeah, sure. Bring the ashes.”

“Want to know how I got them?”


Then on Saturday, June 7, 2014, (the day of the show) as I was sharing a signing table with Edward Colver (previously mentioned) he was approached by three Christian Death fans that were eager to have him sign a few copies of their Record Store Day copies of the Christian Death single. They place their clear plastic purse on top of my books, then spilled beer on my flyers and spent about a half an hour interrupting as he was signing for other people. Once he signed their singles they sat at the bar and batted their eyes at me for the next forty-five minutes.

Being the “Mr. Happy-Go-Lucky” that I am, I smiled and said to myself, “Please leave.”

The first band of the night was A Pretty Mess. There are so many bands nowadays that want to bring back the early 80’s punk vibe, and in all honesty, almost none of them deliver. A Pretty Mess is one of the few that has that raw danger to them. They aren’t a retro 80’s punk band, but they have that edge to them that the early L.A. punk bands did. Dee Skusting is the ultimate front person, whether she’s belting out vocals that could make paint peel and coffee nervous, she controls the stage. At one point the brought Mr. Rikk Agnew onstage to play with them. Awesome set.

The second band of the night was Barrio Tiger. Somehow over the years I’ve always missed these guys. Well, they were worth the wait. Really good band. I look forward to seeing them again

The third band of the night was the always great Rikk Agnew Band. Rikk has always had this amazing ability to drop in on a band, and sprinkle his magic guitar dust on them and allow them to make the one great album of their career, and then he’s off to the next project that grabs his interest. Adolescents, Christian Death, and D.I., did any of them put out anything great after Rikk? I didn’t think so.

Rikk does his regular set with songs like No Way and Your 2 Late, and then they pause and bring out singer Gitane Demone. (Former singer of Christian Death) and perform I Can’t Change The World.

Watching Rikk play is awesome in itself, he has this style of fingering the fret board that’s really cool. He’ll be holding the strings, then he will flip his hand over the top, as if to finger-tap, but he doesn’t. He’s merely holding the strings, and playing the chords a different way. It’s so fast, and effortless, good stuff.

Now, the last band of the night, the band that has stripped James Brown of the title of “Hardest Working Man (Men) in Show Business,” Symbol Six. They are one of the very few bands that played back in the eighties that seem to have more young fans than the older throwback crowd.

Symbol Six with some kind of eerie musical introduction that made Edward Colver turn to me and say, “This doesn’t sound like Symbol Six.”

And then faster that you can turn from the Spice channel to Desperate Housewives when your wife walks in the room, Symbol Six steamrolls into their modern off of Dirtyland. And again everybody is singing along, and pumping their fists, but this time, it’s everybody who is about ten years younger than me (that is if I was 35, it’s my story . . . I could be 35).

Much like all Symbol Six shows, as soon as they hit the stage the front row fills up with photographers, and people with video cameras.

If you have a chance to see any of these bands, go. You won’t have a chance to sit down, nor will you want to. All in all, a great show. The PA was good, clear view of the bands, and I had fun. My overall assessment, this one is for the record books!




Misconceptions of Hell is available now:

The Sold and Bones, The Vigils & Eric Leach – LIVE!


The Sold and Bones, The Vigils & Eric Leach
Maui Sugar Mill Saloon, Tarzana, CA
Saturday, July 2, 2016
Time: 9:00 PM

Eric Leach performed his set, at around 9:00. I stayed for the whole set and let me tell you I was very impressed. He was a natural up there with his guitar, just making small talk and jamming. Start-up tune-up/first number was Knocking On Heaven’s Door. It was more faithful to Dylan’s version than the more current Gun ‘N Roses version. It went over well. The only downside of this show was that the guitarist from the headlining band was sitting behind my table and talked through Leach’s set and The Vigils set, and god-forbid anyone acknowledged him he would start drumming on his table, spilling drinks and overall being an embarrassment. I understand the mind-set, you get a chance to work with a legend, so you automatically think you are, then your ego gets confused. It happens.

Leach’s album is pretty damn good, in case you haven’t heard it. Now, imagine how surprised I was when I heard he was going to do some solo shows and they would be fifteen minutes from my house. I had to go.

The Vigils had a nice clean sound. They were worth seeing.

Unfortunately, after my table, and the three around me, turning around to ask the “headlining guitarist” to pipe down, I, like many of us, walked out as he was tuning-up. I support Billy Bones, but not all the musicians he surrounds himself with.




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Punk Rock Swap Meet


Rikk Agnew, The Boxheads, Navanax, Liquor Locos, Fatal Error, For Sale & With Liberty
Plus authors Michael Essington & Chris D.
Knights of Columbus Council 3601, Canoga Park, CA
Saturday, July 16, 2016
Time: 4:00 PM to 10:00 PM

Punk Swap Meet in Canoga Park featuring Rikk Agnew playing Adolescents songs, The Boxheads, NaVaNaX, Liquor Locos, Fatal Error, For Sale and With Liberty. All Ages, Full Bar with ID, Door Prizes, Raffle, Food. Buy, Sell or Slam!




Misconceptions of Hell is available now:

Punk History – The Early Years Vol. 1


Punk History – The Early Years Vol. 1
Liberula Barriguda
February 2007
Producer Various

1. The Stooges – Search and Destroy – 3:29
2. New York Dolls – Personality Crisis – 3:43
3. The Heartbreakers – Born To Lose – 3:02
4. Patti Smith – Rock N Roll Nigger – 3:26
5. Ramones – Blitzkrieg Bop – 2:12
6. The Dictators – Two Tub Man – 3:33
7. Rhino 39 – Take Your Medicine – 2:47
8. The Sex Pistols – Anarchy in the UK – 3:31
9. Blondie – Hanging On the Telephone – 2:21
10. Eddie & the Hot Rods – Teenage Depression – 2:58
11. The Runaways – Cherry Bomb – 2:19
12. The Clash – White Riot – 1:59
13. Richard Hell & The Voidoids – Blank Generation – 2:44
14. The Damned – Neat Neat Neat – 2:42
15. Vibrators – Judy Says – 2:13
16. Wire – 1 2 X U – 1:57
17. The Stranglers – Get a Grip On Yourself – 4:03
18. Boomtown Rats – Lookin’ After No. 1 – 3:10
19. The Jam – In The City – 2:19
20. The Saints – I’m Stranded – 3:33
21. Talking Heads – Psycho Killer – 4:21
22. The Boys – First Time – 2:22
23. The Motors – Dancing The Night Away – 3:14
24. Alternative TV – Action Time Vision – 2:31
25. Sham 69 – Borstal Breakout – 2:06
26. Penetration – Don’t Dictate – 2:55
27. The Adverts – Gary Gilmore’s Eyes – 2:14

As I write this it’s the thirtieth anniversary (a little over) of the Never Mind the Bullocks album; they performed a show at the Roxy here in Los Angeles, but ticket prices shot up to $250.00 or more through the agencies. Needless to say, I didn’t go.

I dig the Clash and, of course, the Sex Pistols tracks. I can do without having to ever hear the Damned’s Neat Neat Neat ever again.

With White Riot, Joe Strummer, and Mick Jones found a way to write about racism without actually saying a thing. They sort of dance around it and stayed vague.

If you don’t own it, go and pick it up – buy a used copy. It’s a good time capsule of the first wave of British and New York punk.

Rating: ** * two out of three stars.

On to the story . . .

At the beginning of 2007, I bought the DVD of American Hardcore, and as I watched it, I was surprised at how funny Jack from TSOL was, he stole the movie. Then I started to remember all the crazy Jack stories I was told back in the ‘80’s. One of my friends back in high school was a girl named Steph C., and Steph was always able to attend many more shows than I was. I don’t know if it was cash or transportation, but I didn’t attend as many shows as I wanted to. Anyway, Steph relayed two crazy Jack stories to me, the first one was at Godzilla’s, a club in Sun Valley, CA, Jack was walking around with a slight limp (the limp was faked), and when Steph asked him what was wrong, he said he got his “privates” caught in his zipper and almost had them cut off, but he was able to get them stitched back on. Then said “would you like to see?” To which Steph replied “no thank you,” or so she says.

The second Jack story, Steph told me was of Jack walking around a club one night arm-in-arm with Rozz Williams of Christian Death, telling everyone that Rozz was going to get a sex change and they were going to get married soon afterward. The guy always had a wacky wit, and half the time people were stuck – never sure whether or not to believe him. He’s still a charismatic dude.




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