Channel 3 – I’ve Got a Gun/Lights Out

07 May

Channel 3
I’ve Got a Gun/Lights Out
Anagram Records

Mike Magrann – guitar, vocals
Kimm Gardener – guitar
Larry Kelley – bass
Mike Burton – drums

1. Fear Of Life
2. Out Of Control
3. I’ve Got A Gun
4. Wetspots
5. Accident
6. You Make Me Feel Cheap
7. You Lie
8. Catholic Boy
9. Waiting In The Wings
10. Strength In Numbers
11. Double Standard Boys
12. Life Goes On
13. What About Me?
14. Stupid Girl
15. Separate Peace
16. No Love
17. After The Lights Go Out
18. Truth & Trust
19. I’ll Take My Chance
20. All My Dreams
21. Can’t Afford It
22. I Didn’t Know
23. Manzanar (Bonus Track)
24. Mannequin (Bonus Track)
25. Indian Summer (Bonus Track)

In 1994, I’ve Got a Gun/Lights Out was released on one compact disc, which contained two complete albums — I’ve Got a Gun (1982), originally released on No Future, and Lights Out — by Channel 3. This collection has also been released under the title The Skinhead Years.

Channel 3 centers around the friendship of Mike Magrann (vocals, guitar) and Kimm Gardner (guitar), which dates back to the second grade. Forming in 1980, the foursome included Larry Kelley (bass) and Mike Burton (drums, later replaced by Jack DeBaun). They released an EP, Channel 3, on Posh Boy Records in the summer of 1981 and began playing shows in the Los Angeles area. In the summer of 1982, their first album Fear of Life was released, and the band began their first US tour.

After 1983 the band experimented with other styles, alienating some fans. Eventually it returned to its roots, touring Europe in the 1990s and releasing a more punk-oriented CD in 2002.

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

Rating: ** * two out of three stars

On to the story . . .

Back in 1995, I was dating a girl, which I thought was the last girl I would ever date. And one day we started talking about buying a car together and eventually getting an apartment together.

It just so happened that my dad was selling a small black SUV. I asked him if we could buy it from him, and he was his usual direct self and said, “No, I don’t sell to people I know. It creates too many problems.” In all actuality I don’t think that was the case. I think he saw cracks in the relationship before I did. Well, we weren’t deterred, we continued our car search. We went from one end of Van Nuys Blvd to the other. My credit was fair and hers was non-existent. So, the financing wasn’t happening, which later turned out to be a good thing.

Well one day we were at a small dealership a block down from the Van Nuys police department. My, then, girlfriend was going to test drive this big SUV, the owner of the lot asks her for her license. She says she left it in the car, I give him mine.

She takes the SUV out, I sit in the passenger seat. We get five blocks out and the thing dies, just completely dead in the street.

We get out, walk back to the dealership, I get my license. The owner gets an attitude and says, “Where the fuck is my car?” I give him the address of where we left the SUV and we left. We get to the car we came in and we realize that my former girlfriend had thrown the keys under the seat of the now broke down/busted SUV. Fucking great.

So we head back to the office and I tell the guy that I need a ride back to the SUV, and he gets a crazy attitude, “This isn’t a fuckin’ taxi service!”

So as nicely as I can put it I say, “Listen you old fuck, it’s your fault we’re in this mess. If you weren’t trying to sell piece of shit cars, the keys wouldn’t be six blocks away.”

He waves two big Hispanic guys over, and says in broken Spanish, “Go get the car.”

I follow them to a big white pick-up truck. I start to get inside, but one of the guys says, “There’s no room, get in back.”

Needless to say I was suspicious. I hop in back and hold on, and just as I thought, the driver guns it. He peels out of the driveway at about 75 or 80 miles an hour. They took every corner at around 65 miles per hour. I was trying to act nonchalant while calling them goat-fuckers and anything else that popped into my head while holding on for dear life.

As soon as we pulled up to the stalled SUV I jumped out and charged the driver, but the passenger was already in front of me with a length of chain, approximately six feet long, in his left hand, and with his right, he was swinging the excess. I imagine two things here, one – they’ve done this before and two – the chain may or may not have been intended to be used to tow the SUV back. Either way I stepped back from beating the crap out of the driver. But there is no way in hell it was over.

I opened the SUV and grabbed my senile girlfriend’s keys and proceeded to walk back to the lot. I wasn’t about to hop in the back of the truck again.

As I approached the lot I saw a construction site, I walked over and picked up two cinder blocks. Then met up with the girlfriend on the corner, next to the dealership.

My girlfriend gave me the look over and said, “What are you doing with those blocks?” At this point I was in no mood to talk, I just said, as I handed her the keys, “Let’s go.”

As we walked past the auto dealership I saw the owner hug and start whispering stuff into Damian Chapa’s ear. Remember Damian Chapa? The white guy from Blood In, Blood Out, the movie that was on Showtime every fifteen minutes during the 1990’s.

My first thought was, “What the fuck is the head of the Mexican Mafia doing here?”

We get in the car and as we round the corner, I lean out the window and fire off the first cinder block I nail the stalled SUV, the block bounces off the hood and it shatters the window. Then we drive six to ten feet, I fire the second cinder block into the group of people standing in front of the dealership, the owner, Chapa and the two assholes from the truck. Chapa and the two douche-bags duck, the block flies past them and nails the owner right in the knee. He falls and everybody starts chasing the car. My girlfriend is screaming. “What the hell did you do?” I say, “Nothing, drive.” She peels out.

Needless to say, we never bought a car together and we split, I think, five to six months after that.

I still wonder what the hell was Chapa doing there?!



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

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8 Responses to “Channel 3 – I’ve Got a Gun/Lights Out”

  1. 1
    Eddie Cook Says:

    Mike~ love these albums and the story is fucken great! ~eddie

  2. 2
    Mike Essington Says:


    Thanks I’m glad you like the story. I’ve been meaning to write it for years.

    Mike Essington

  3. 3
    james Says:

    this story is f*cking classic! i am in england and i have just ordered both your books through amazon (i hate them, but their postage is cheap – otherwise international postage costs are prohibitively high).

    P.S. you should interview Sammytown from Fang one day. he is doing some interesting stuff nowadays, Trying to make the world a better place, for one.

  4. 4
    Mike Essington Says:


    Thanks for the support, I appreciate you buying the books. Amazon is the only way to buy the books at the moment, I don’t have any shop connections over there at the moment.

    Mike Essington

  5. 5
    james Says:

    that’s cool, Mike. i have always enjoyed your stories and writing style since I stumbled upon it several years back on the www. somehow I lost touch with the website until a few days ago, so i have been reading up on what i missed. hadn’t heard about the books – I am really looking forward to them. I like your ‘under-stated’ writing style. no fancy tricks, but always thoughtful content, and good writing. keep ‘em coming. thanks!

  6. 6
    Mike Essington Says:


    I also have an author page on Facebook ( there are video readings and daily stories. If you’re on Facebook check it out.

    Mike Essington

  7. 7
    Justin Says:

    Wasn’t into CH3 back in the day, don’t remember why, might have to give them a spin again.

    Mike, why the hell did we not meet when I was living in LA circa ’85, hahahaha? You were like a crazy shit magnet, but still managed to remain so down to earth. Someday I’ll make it back to LA and we can shoot the shit over a cup of coffee.

  8. 8
    Mike Essington Says:


    I look forward to meeting up with you. It’s funny how many people I’ve met through this column that lived within five miles of me while growing up that for whatever reason we never crossed paths.

    Mike Essington

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