No Control, Sidekick, No Advisory, Symbol Six, Killroy, Guttermouth – LIVE


Symbol Six

Symbol Six

No Control, Sidekick, No Advisory, Symbol Six, Killroy, Guttermouth
Weber’s, Reseda, CA
Sunday, December 19, 2011
Admission $12.00
Time: 8:30 PM

I was hanging out with record label owner a while back and said label owner was telling me about this quirk that Tim Armstrong, of Rancid, is said to have about going to shows. He (rumor has it) doesn’t like to be out in public. He’ll be invited to shows, he’ll decline, but if he’s harassed into going, he’ll show up, say “Hi” to everyone, excuse himself to go to the bathroom, or get a drink, and no one will see him for the rest of the night. When the label owner was done with the story I didn’t see anything wrong with that. I’m pretty much the same way. I’m not agoraphobic; I don’t like being thrown into crowds of people I don’t know. All through my 20’s I’d show up at a party, then say “Hi.” And I’d be gone before someone could finish ½ a beer.

In a nutshell, that’s me. I dig the music, I like the people, but I just don’t dig going out. But this was the wrap-up show for the three-day Golden Voice Anniversary shows. And Eric Leach (Symbol Six) had called me; I think he could feel I was going to flake, so he broke it down:

“How many Sunday shows have you ever gone to?”


“So, you can make it to one.”


“You were starting to be a pussy.”

Now, if this was a movie, I would’ve hung-up in tears, only to be consoled by my wife, Salma Hayek (I can cast my movie however I like). Then we would launch into a scene that wouldn’t make it to the theaters with an NC-17 rating. But this is real life, so I hung and told the wife “I’m going to see Symbol Six on Sunday.” With not even a PG scene to follow.

No Control

No Control

The first band up was No Control. I compare this type of punk rock to the way the UFC has evolved. I know what you’re thinking: “Mike how in the hell are you going to connect punk rock to the MMA?” Well, here it goes . . . At the beginning of the UFC, everybody had different skills. The Gracies wrestled, and people like Tank Abbott punched, then after a decade or so, everybody had the same skills. Modern L.A. punk is much like this. Most bands sound like the best of Social Distortion and Bad Religion. I’m not knocking them, it’s a decent sound. But it’s a far cry from when I’d go to a show and see Black Flag, Nig Heist, Christian Death, and 45 Grave on the same bill.



Sidekick came on next and sounded, somewhat like Bad Religion.

No Advisory was next and sounded, somewhat like Social Distortion.

In between bands I sold two more copies of my book, LAST ONE TO DIE, to Symbol Six drummer Phil George and buddy Kathy Fox.

Finally, around 10:30 or 11:00 Symbol Six hits the stage. This the first time I’ve seen Symbol Six with the addition of new guitarist Tony (from The Bell-Rays and The Black Widows).

Symbol Six

Symbol Six

Here’s the thing, the band is amped, I’m amped to see them, but the shit gets a bit fucked from here. Eric Leach is wailing on the vocals, but his mike is turned down so low on the board it sounds like he’s underwater. And as the band struck its first chords the house DJ left his music playing. So, Symbol Six is playing, but the ass-hat leaves Devo’s Mongoloid playing for another minute and a half or so.

Symbol Six

Symbol Six

So, this is not frustrating enough, then the cabinet of lead guitarist Taz Rudd’s amp starts shorting out. He’s playing his leads, and then there is nothing but a major humming sound throughout the place.

Symbol Six

Symbol Six

One of the band’s friends is running back and forth trying to figure it out and it gets better, then worse, then better.

Symbol Six

Symbol Six

Leach was trying to motion to the guy at the control board to turn up the vocals, (mind you, the three bands that went on first sounded fine), but the guy does nothing. I guess he was waiting to turn Devo back on.

I went and saw Rikk Agnew and Pretty Mess here in January. Hudley Flipside promoted the show, and everything is perfect. Whoever promoted this, really fucked over Symbol Six. I’m not one for conspiracies, but damn the band wasn’t even offered Vaseline first.

After their set, I left. All things considered, Symbol Six played the songs off of their EP, and some new stuff, but it was difficult to hear it all. But what was audible was kick-ass.

The funny thing about Weber’s is it’s less than a half a block away from where my dad used to live. So we spent many years skateboarding on the street where Weber’s is located. Brings back all kinds of memories, like the place I had my first “legal” drink.

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 wonky, clear view of the bands, and I had fun.



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TSOL – Thoughts of Yesterday




Thoughts of Yesterday
November 10, 1992

Mike Roche – bass
Ron Emory – guitar
Jack Grisham – vocals
Todd Barnes – drums

1. Peace thru Power
2. Property Is Theft
3. Word Is
4. Abolish Government/Silent Majority
5. Weathered Statues
6. Thoughts of Yesterday
7. Superficial Love
8. Man and Machine
9. No Way Out
10. World War III
11. The Apartment
12. Talk about Living
13. Tender Fury: Big E’s Night-Move
14. Tender Fury: Statutory Story
15. Tender Fury: Kill Cindy
16. Tender Fury: What We Got
17. Tender Fury: Running Around Again
18. Tender Fury: Let It Go
19. Tender Fury: Mercy Ride
20. Tender Fury: Look Back In Anger

Thoughts of Yesterday 1981-1982 is a 1987 compilation release from True Sounds of Liberty originally issued by Posh Boy this is the 1992 CD reissue by Rhino, which includes bonus tracks from Tender Fury featuring Jack Grisham on vocals.

Formed in 1978 in Long Beach, California, T.S.O.L. originated as a hardcore band, developing from earlier bands Johnny Koathanger and the Abortions, and SS Cult. Later on, Vicious Circle would form and T.S.O.L. would take a brief hiatus.

Featuring the lineup of vocalist Jack Grisham (who has been credited as Jack Greggors, Alex Morgan, Jack Ladoga, Jim Woo and James DeLauge), guitarist Ron Emory, bassist Mike Roche, and drummer Todd Barnes, the band’s first release was a harshly political eponymous EP featuring tracks such as “Superficial Love,” “World War III” and “Abolish Government.”

After their debut 5 song T.S.O.L. EP in 1979 and 1980 they released Dance with Me. They later signed to independent label Alternative Tentacles, for which they released the Weathered Statues EP and the Beneath the Shadows album, which featured, for the first time, keyboard player Greg Kuehn.

Amid personnel turmoil, Grisham, Barnes, and Kuehn all left the band in 1983, with Joe Wood and Mitch Dean joining on vocals and drums respectively. This new line-up released three albums on Enigma Records, touring globally to support each album, and united a world audience with Change Today? in 1984, this continued the post-punk direction and ended this era with Revenge in 1986 and Hit and Run in 1987. All three albums featured a more polished production, keeping punk and hardcore tunes.

If you don’t own it, go and pick it up.

Rating: ** * two out of three stars

On to the story . . .

This is my metaphor for the current punk scene. By now everybody knows how if you pop up into the “scene,” no matter how talented you are, there will be people who will say (behind your back), “He wasn’t around in the beginning, “or “No one has ever heard of him,” etc.

And all the old (most of them anyway) punks, get bent out of shape at the newer bands, “Rancid is just the Clash recycled.”

This is what it’s like: remember in junior high, if you were a bit of an outcast when you hung out in a little click. You had your little section of the lawn to sit at and complain about the popular kids? Then one day a new girl comes over. She’s shy and wants to sit with you. You’re delighted to have someone to complain to about the “popular kids.”

Then one day you see her in class talking to a popular kid. In between classes you ask her to come and hang out in your basement and play Dungeons and Dragons. She can’t, she’s going to the mall with a few of the popular girls from school.

Guess what? She’s the scene.



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Bad Religion – EP


Bad Religion

Bad Religion

Bad Religion – EP
Released: November 30, 1981
Label: Epitaph Records

Greg Graffin – Vocals
Brett Gurewitz – Guitar
Jay Bentley – Bass
Jay Zisktrout – Drums

01-Bad Religion
03-Sensory Overload
05-Drastic Actions
06-World War III

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, and 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 the 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.

A day or two later I went to visit my Uncle at work. My Uncle, Rick White, was extremely famous in the early hardcore punk scene. He managed the Fallbrook Mann movie theater at the old Fallbrook Mall. He was known as the guy who wore a toupee to hide his Mohawk. Anyways, I show up and start to tell him of my new discovery, only to have him burst my bubble. It turns out he had been friends with a couple of the guys from school, Jay Ziskrout, and I believe Jay Bentley. A short while later he hung out with the guys from L.A.D.S (Los Angeles Death Squad) who seemed to be Bad Religions biggest followers.

After, all this information I went that weekend to Moby Disc and picked up the 6-song 7 inch EP (thanks to my Mom). I remembered the title track, as I had just heard it a few nights before . . . it was great, but the opening of Politics blew me away. The lyrics stayed in my head for years:

“Economy, technology, does it really work?
The guy running the government’s another jerk.
Try to teach some values and they all erode away.
You’re lucky if they listen to a single word you say.”

Granted, they may not seem as deep now, but in 1981, the Regan era, it was. A 16-year-old, talking (yelling) to another 16-year-old, it was what I was looking for.

Tracks 4 and 6 were also powerful for me, but track 5 nailed it for me. The tempo changes (fast and slow) and the lyrics were completely relevant to us young punks at the time, though I lucked out and came from a stable home, a lot of my friends were victims violent homes and/or drug and alcohol dependency so Drastic Actions was heavy for me:

“Heard a word, suicide,
Not from one, but from thousands that tried.
The lawyer’s wife and the teenage brat,
One thing in common, they all wanted out.
And it’s plain to see.
It goes for you, and it goes for me,
And all the screwed up little girls and boys,
All thrown in without a choice.
But I heard him say,
“I want out,
No complaints and no doubts,
Just a chance to go on.
I heard a word, suicide,
And not from one, but from thousands that died.
Want some attention and a little less regret,
A teenage fluff, little threat.
And there are those, there are those who think
That drastic actions will make them unique.
It’s really all the same,
That no one’s happy and nobody’s to blame.
And the moral to this story is old.
It’s quite taboo, seldom told.
The seed is reaped before it’s sown,
A bad choice was never resolved.”

This 7″ EP available through their online store, and can be found in its entirety on the Bad Religion re-release of How Could Hell Be Any Worse?” Crude and urgent, this is the sound that emanated from the garages of Southern California in the early ’80s. An additional note, I was always blown away by Jay Zisktrout’s drumming. If you listen to this, it’s equal parts drum and cymbal playing, crazy.

I apologize for any mistakes with my dates or names I may have mixed up; 30+ years ago . . . some things slip away. Another footnote, my Uncle Rick passed away eight to ten years back. He was in his early 40’s. Some may remember him for his scene in the Randy Newman video “I Love LA.” He and some other punks were jumping up, and down in front of Vinyl Fetish.



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Swingin’ Utters – Dead Flowers, Bottles, Bluegrass, and Bones


Swingin' Utters

Swingin’ Utters

Swingin’ Utters
Dead Flowers, Bottles, Bluegrass, and Bones
Fat Wreck Chords
Released: February 25, 2003
Producer: The Greedy Bros.

Johnny Bonnel (vocals)
Darius Koski (guitar, vocals, accordion, piano, organ, violin, viola)
Greg McEntee (drums)
Spike Slawson (bass, vocals)

1. No Pariah – 1:30
2. Glad – 2:09
3. Hopeless Vows – 1:48
4. Dead Flowers, Bottles, Bluegrass, and Bones (Bonnel, Koski) – 2:05
5. All That I Can Give – 2:24
6. Sign in a Window – 1:54
7. Don’t Ask Why – 2:12
8. Lampshade – 2:56
9. Letters to Yourself – 2:35
10. Heaven at Seventeen – 1:43
11. Leaves of Fate (Bonnel, Koski) – 1:57
12. If You Want Me To (Koski, Slawson) – 2:46
13. Elation (Goddard, Koski) – 1:40
14. Poor Me (Aust Koski, Koski) – 1:44
15. My Closed Mind – 1:23
16. Looking for Something to Follow – 2:57
17. Shadows and Lies – 1:57

Swingin’ Utters are a band that I heard about a long time ago, but never bothered to check out. No one I knew ever talked about them and with that name I thought they were another wise-ass band like the Angry Samoans. So, I never bothered. Turns out I was wrong (I know I was shocked too). I picked up a compilation album back in February called Loud, Fast, and Furious. And it was the first time I ever gave Swingin’ Utters a listen. The track was Sign in a Window, and I was impressed.

Dead Flowers, Bottles, Bluegrass, and Bones is the Swingin’ Utters’ sixth album. Alongside the band’s usual punk style of music, there is a strong presence of Pogues-influenced Irish folk on this album, perhaps even more heavily than on the band’s previous album.

If you don’t own it, you may be in the garage mixing radiator coolant, and Sudafed, (or free-basing aspirin, yes, I’ve seen it done).

Rating: ** * two out of three stars

The standout cut is Sign in a Window.

If you can find it, buy it.

On to the story . . .

I’ve been thinking a lot about being a parent lately. I don’t know why. Maybe it has something to do with my Daughter turning 22, and my Son is about a month away from turning 12.

It takes a long time before you can see if you’ve done a good job or not. I think that’s what concerns me the most.

I remember, years ago, I had an ex (she was Puerto Rican) that every time she was mad at me, she would start saying how she had the best Mom in the world, and how my family hated me. Usually, I was pretty numb to this, and didn’t say much, but one day I had had enough, and I said “How do you figure you have the best Mom in the world? Both your parents were addicted to heroin; all three of you kids dropped out of school, were on drugs, and did jail time before you were 18. How in the hell do you call that good parenting?” She gave me a nasty look, and said, “At least she loved us.” But I didn’t stop, I said: “Sure, she did that’s why she threw all of you out of the house before you hit 18, so she could have more alone time with her heroin and her many boyfriends.” That was pretty much the end between my ex, and me.

Back in 1998, I was living in Canoga Park, and I took a stroll down to the corner to get my hair cut. I got to talking to the Hispanic barber about kids (at this point I only had my four-year-old daughter), and he says that he has a Son, and a Daughter and that Daughters are the best. I agree, what else am I going to say? Then he explains why, he says, “You have a Son, he grows up, gets strung out on drugs, joins a gang, and gets shot, and dies, but with a Daughter, she grows up, gets strung out on drugs, joins a gang, and gets knocked up, moves back home, gets off of drugs, and raises her kid.” I just sat there stunned, this is why Daughters are better because their ability to get knocked up by gangbangers? I don’t think I let my four-year-old daughter out of my sight for the rest of the weekend.

About four years prior to this I was talking (and drinking) with a friend of mine named Jeff, Jeff is African American, and has many anti-Black views. Jeff and I were throwing back a couple of bottles of St. Ides (hey, it was in 1994, and Tupac said it was a good beer), and my Daughter was a few months away from being born, and in his drunken state Jeff was telling me that I had to step up, and be a good Dad, and be pleased with every decision she makes, then he said raise her the opposite way that Black people raise their kids. I asked, “How is that?” He said, “Black people are like a bucket of crabs?” I said, “What?” He replied, “Yeah, watch crabs, sometimes, if one starts to get away, they all pull him back down. That’s Black people, man. As soon as one of us starts to do well, or leave the neighborhood, everybody pulls us back down. They suck man.”

OK, it’s OK to do heroin, and throw my kids out as long as I love them, no gangbanger activity for my kids, and keep them away from crabs, check.

There used to be an entertainment magazine called Icon (not the gay magazine), and for a short time in 1998, until early 1999, it was one of my favorite magazines. It covered music, comics, movies — you name it. One issue they had a small interview with Black porn (male) star Sean Michaels. Now, not normally a subject I would be interested in, but I read everything. If I’m in a doctor’s office, and all they have is Good Housekeeping, well, I’ll read the whole thing cover to cover. Then offer great decorating tips afterward. Anyway, Sean Michaels starts talking about his twelve-year-old Son that he doesn’t see. Then he says, “I’m not the father I want to be because I’m not the man I want to be.”

What? This damn quote has been stuck in my head for about twelve years. I never thought that was a reasonable excuse. I can’t be a good Dad because I’m not rich enough, or I haven’t accomplished enough. WTF? There isn’t a parent in the world that makes enough or has accomplished enough.

Another interview I read about five years back was with Mike Ness. Mike explains how he didn’t meet his Son until the boy was five years old. Now, in Mike’s case, he was in all kinds of legal trouble, and he was pretty heavily addicted to drugs. Now me personally, I can’t imagine not being around my kids when they were born, or all those early years. Mike was smart to stay away until he cleaned up, and got on the straight and narrow. Nothing worse than subjecting your kids to your downfall.

So, how do you know if you did a good job or not? Hopefully, every once in a while, they will just plop down in your lap for no reason at all, and smile at you. And hopefully, this won’t be followed by “You know what I’d really like to get?”



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Rancid – Let’s Go


Rancid - Let's Go

Rancid – Let’s Go

Let’s Go
Epitaph Records

Tim Armstrong – vocals, guitar,
Lars Frederiksen – guitar, vocals
Matt Freeman – bass, vocals
Brett Reed – drums

1. Nihilism
2. Radio
3. Side Kick
4. Salvation
5. Tenderloin
6. Let’s Go
7. As One
8. Burn
9. The Ballad of Jimmy & Johnny
10. Gunshot
11. I Am the One
12. Gave It Away
13. Ghetto Box
14. Harry Bridges
15. Black & Blue
16. St. Mary
17. Dope Sick Girl
18. International Cover-Up
19. Solidarity
20. Midnight
21. Motorcycle Ride
22. Name
23. 7 Years Down

After Rancid hired a second guitarist, Lars Frederiksen, they returned to the studio in October 1993, with producer Brett Gurewitz to begin work on its second studio album. It took the band just six days to record the twenty-three songs selected for the album.

Stephen Thomas Erlewine of Allmusic described the album as “sheer energy”. He praised the music as a “less-serious, party-ready version of The Clash”. The album received a rating of four and a half out of five stars while “Salvation” earned Rancid its first moderate success. In November 2011, Let’s Go was ranked number eight on Guitar World magazine’s top ten list of guitar albums of 1994. In April 2014, Rolling Stone placed the album at No. 24 on its “1994: The 40 Best Records From Mainstream Alternative’s Greatest Year” list

While Rancid was writing for the Let’s Go album, Billie Joe Armstrong joined them to co-write the song “Radio,” which resulted in Armstrong playing a live performance with Rancid. Tim had previously asked Lars Frederiksen to be Rancid’s second guitarist, but he turned down the request initially as he was playing with the UK Subs at the time. After Billie Joe turned down the request, Frederiksen changed his mind and joined Rancid.

Frederiksen played with the band on Let’s Go. That year, its then-label-mates, The Offspring, experienced huge success with its album Smash. Rancid supported The Offspring’s 1994 tour, which helped Let’s Go reach number 97 on Billboard’s Heatseekers and the Billboard 200 charts, respectively. The album also provided its first widespread exposure when MTV broadcast the video for the single “Salvation.” Let’s Go was certified gold on July 7, 2000, and with the success of the album, the band was pursued by a number of major record labels, including Madonna’s label Maverick Records. Many rumors circulated during this time period. Some of the rumors were Epitaph employees were not allowed to discuss matters with the press, Rancid convinced an A&R man from Epic to shave a blue Mohawk, and Madonna sent the band nude pictures of herself
If you don’t own it, go and pick it up.

Rating: ** * two out of three stars

On to the story . . .

Back in late 1975, my mom, who was a member of the Columbia House Record Club, received her monthly catalog. The deal was every month Columbia House would send a catalog and you would have to pick an album or they would just randomly send you one.

Well, the December 1975 catalog had a picture of the Kiss Destroyer album as its cover. My brother and I saw this picture and we were hooked. We didn’t know if this was a comic book, and record or just a very cool Frazetta rip-off. I think we both begged to own that little 5 by 7 booklet.

Eventually, we got that album into our house. Our grandparents sent us some money and dad took us to some record shop to get whatever we wanted. My brother grabbed a copy of Destroyer on 8-track, I ran to get a copy on cassette — but my dad stopped me by saying that it was stupid to get two copies of the same album. We should share. Shit.

So, I was forced to buy a copy of Alive on cassette. Turns out I dug the album, but Destroyer had a better cover and that’s what counts right?

Once we got back to my dad’s place my brother put on his tape and the opening sounds of the investigator talking at the car crash scene and sounds of broken glass and the car door shutting, and then starting. It was like those old-school Power Records on 45 we used to have. We were hooked.

I don’t listen to Kiss anymore, but when I see the Destroyer cover it takes me back to March of 1976 when I first heard the opening chords of Detroit Rock City. Superheroes came to life that day.



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