Since 1982, punk band Decry, led by ‘tude-heavy, charismatic singer Farrell Holtz, have been blurring the lines between snotty rock & roll and pummeling hardcore. In the 36 years since, the lineup has shifted extensively (Taz Rudd of Izzy Stradlin’s Stahlin and Todd Muscat of Junkyard were previously members), and the sound has altered course once or twice, but the overall objective — to deliver hard-hitting punk rock on their terms — remains the same.
In 2018, Decry is completed by drummer Justino Polimeni, bassist Keith Ludwig and guitarist Sean Romin. Holtz says that this lineup has been together for a decade and, in that time, has cemented a family feel.
“It’s better than it’s ever been,” Holtz says. “We’re having more fun, and there’s not a lot of pressure. We’ve done some road trips, and some tours, been doing mostly to promote the 30th anniversary of our Falling album, which we put out in 1984. And we finally got around to writing some new stuff.”
Decry is a solid L.A. punk band with a few moments of gnarly brilliance in their spotty catalog, but their ceiling of success was fairly low. Punk historians and a loyal few know who they are, but the reverence is limited. So what the hell keeps Holtz, who works full-time as a carpenter and recently celebrated his 16th year of sobriety, going at it? The answer couldn’t be more simple.
“I just really love playing music,” he says. “It’s part of who I am. I’ve gone through a lot of changes and a lot of life experiences. I’m 53 years old and I’ve been doing this since I was 17 years old. I’ve done other things and came back to it because I couldn’t stay away from it. It’s something that makes me happy.”
Most fans agree that 1984’s Falling album is Decry’s best, and Holtz is happy that the most recent direction the band has been taken steers them back to that sort of sound.
“The Falling album was our freshman and it came together really well,” he says. “Then we went back into the studio for the Japanese album that we over-produced. People thought it was too rock & roll. Live, the songs sounded great but in the studio we took too much time. It didn’t sound that great. As a matter of fact, we really don’t play those songs anymore. We pretty much stick to the formula we had in ‘82-’84.”
When Holtz looks around now at the current crop of punk bands, particularly in L.A., he can’t help but think that modern musicians have it much easier, thanks to the internet, than the old schoolers who were forced to hand out flyers to get word out about their next gig. Still, he’s happy that there is a legitimate scene happening, thanks in part to clubs like Cafe Nela. Decry plays that room on Friday, and Holtz says we can expect a few new tunes among the old favorites.
“We’ll start off with a bunch of old songs, throw in some new ones in the middle of the set. We also do a cover of the Dead Boys’ ‘Sonic Reducer’,” he says. “We recorded that in ‘84. One time, someone told me, ‘Oh man, I heard Pearl Jam covered your song ‘Sonic Reducer’.’ I’m like, 'It’s not an original, really.' Sometimes we play ‘Neat, Neat, Neat’ by The Damned too.”
It’s not all nostalgia though, and Holtz has been getting fired up by current events; he’s not a fan of the commander in chief.
“I have a song called ‘American Pimp,’ and that’s about our current president,” he says. “I didn’t vote for him. I don’t like the stuff that he’s doing. I think it’s ridiculous.”
That it is, sir. That it is.
Decry plays with RF7, Circle One, Dissension and Shattered Teath at 8:30 p.m. on Friday, March 23 at Cafe Nela.