Thirty years in, Social Distortion are as vital and voracious as ever. Their shows continue to sell out, and their material still speaks to people. Their latest, Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes was one of the best releases by a California band in 2011.
Tonight at GV30 -- the weekend series of shows celebrating Goldenvoice's 30th anniversary -- Social Distortion is playing alongside fellow punk innovators X, Bad Religion, The Adolescents, and The Vandals at the Santa Monica Civic Center. We spoke with the act's front man Mike Ness about Goldenvoice's impact, the L.A. and O.C. punk scenes, the secrets to longevity, and the DIY spirit that continues to drive him.
Tell me about your relationship with Goldenvoice and its importance to local music.
They were kind of like the beginning, ya know. They were back in that period of time when you had a handful of nightclubs in Hollywood and a few in the O.C. Very few promoters had this vision. They were instrumental in helping launch Social Distortion in that they were providing venues and facilitating the scene. Even when I wasn't performing I was attending their shows, and a good time was had by all.
Obviously, we're friends and have a working relationship still. More than that, it's acknowledging the significance of Goldenvoice. I mean, they may as well be another band like us, the way they started back in the day. They were do-it-yourself promoters. They didn't like the way things were, and they changed it. They were an integral part of this revolution I would say.
What about the bands sharing the bill with you at GV30?
X is a band I grew up with. They were one of the first bands who mixed Americana with punk rock. There was a handful of bands who did that like X: The Gears and The Blasters. The Gears all had pompadors and they had this rockabilly feel, but it was punk rock too. X were one of the first bands that I saw integrating Amerciana and folk music with punk rock. The Adolescents will make it feel like a hometown night... Fullerton bands coming together again.
Speaking of Fullerton, and O.C. bands vs. L.A. bands: What are the differences/simularites you've noticed over the years?
There was always kind of regional separation, but I didn't let that bother me. The only difference I saw was suburbia versus a more urban setting. I fit in with both and so did my friends. I was always looking more for simularities than differences.