So the might Cock Sparrer were playing the East Coast this year and I was determined to go. The minute the show was announced it sold out, a second show was added and that sold out too . Their booking agent Ron said the band were not playing NYC this time (scheduling conflicts at another show in NYC – I believe) but if I could find my way down to Philly he would sort guest passes out for me and a couple of buddies. So of course we had to go! Free tickets to ‘Sparrer? Fuck yes!
So we thought about risking our lives on the China town bus but figured it was probably not the smart thing to do. I got quotes from the hire car company and after CW dropped out it was looking at $90 (for car rental, tolls and gas) A lil steep but hell its Cock Sparrer!! We have to do this
2 days before the how my buddy thorns texts me offering me and Milo a lift if we want to car pool with him and a few friends. Ok so $25 each sounds like a far better deal that $90 each right?
So we meet up with Thorns and his friends Sarah and Wills, the car is small and Will is a big boy so we decide it makes sense for him to take the front seat (Sarah was driving) as we squeeze in the back together. As any New Yorker knows getting out of NYC is never good – but even worse on a Friday evening (haha) Amazingly we make it to Philly in good time – in fact enough time for them to get Vegan food at the Blackbird cafe and for us to get Philly’s famous Cheese Steaks (nom nom)
So we eat and make it to the venue (which happened to be on the other side of Philly – thank the gods for GPS eh?) For those who have never been to Union Transfer before – I hadn’t!! Its a fairly newish, great venue – good sightlines no matter where you stand and more importantly it has 3 bars! We get in – catch up with some old friends have some drinks watch John Joseph and the Cro-mags tear up the place and wait for Cock Sparrer to start. Its been a few years since I have last seen the band and I wondered how good they would be – this was the 2nd night of a 3 gig east Coast tour (they played 2 months before on the West Coast with Rancid)
Well no need to worry, not only did the old geezers bring it (2012 is officially their 40th year as a band …wait…what????) they kicked off with Riot Squad – one of my favorite CS songs ever! From memory another of my all time favorite Sparrer songs “Working” was played 3rd – from what I know of people who went the first night they played a lot of songs on the Friday night that they didn’t play Thursday which is great for those that went both nights.
The crowd was a great mix of old timers and young kids and the atmosphere was electric with pretty much the entire audience singing along to every word of every song – this gig will go done as legendary, one for the history books! (Make sure you watch the entire video below)
Rumor has it they will be back next year – more than likely Portland and Seattle on the West Coast and Washington Dc and NYC on the East Coast until then enjoy the video!
I have been a huge Channel 3 fan ever since I heard their song “I’ve got a gun” back in the early 80s in my book they have the perfect balance of melody and aggression. I wanted to catch up with Mike and update everyone on what they have been up to recently.
Thanks to Mike for the great Interview!
So it’s been 32 years now – most bands do not last 5 years – what’s the secret of you and Kimm staying together for so long?
I guess because we’re friends first and finally! Even when the band wasn’t touring in the 90’s, we’d still talk every day and hang out the weekends. Same thing with our crew now, Alfie on drums and Anthony on bass—those guys have been in CH3 longer than any other lineup, so we’re just a tight family. Makes a real difference on going through the rough or boring times, ya know? You could probably put up with any asshole if you were pulling down 10 grand a night, but to tough it out in the clubs for drink tickets and gas money, ya gotta know your mates.
You guys got your start playing House parties in So-Cal in 1980 back then what were the loftiest goals you had for the band? When did you reach them?
The first house party probably was the first and biggest goal; don’t know if we’ve ever achieved anything as exciting since! As with any band, you just try to move forward and set another goal ahead of you: Write your own song, make a demo, make a record, do some touring. We’ve been pretty fortunate to do these things pretty early and ever since.
I grew up in Australia and due to Skateboarder magazine I was lucky enough to be exposed to Southern Californian punk rock from the get go – but many people really did not hear of you guys until the punk and disorderly comps which were primarily British based bands – apart from being completely awesome how did you guys manage to get on to those compilations?
That was all Robbie Fields, Posh Boy. He’s always had pretty lofty visions for his bands, and these cross-licensing type deals, like with No Future or SST, just helped to spread the word. It was funny, we didn’t really know about the No Future release until we saw some LPs with the different artwork, then we were suddenly getting nice reviews and letters from the UK. Funny, even now a lot of people still think we’re an English band.
One of the things I always loved about you guys is that you had the energy and aggression but were also very melodic – was that intentional or just the way you guys wrote music/songs?
That all comes from the stuff Kimm and I always listened to—heavy metal, power pop, anything really. I’ve always loved the aggression and speed of hardcore, but the straight shouting gets pretty old pretty quick unless you really know how to deliver, ya know? We always thought to put a little more melody, actually see how much of the sweet stuff we could get away with before the punks started hating us!! Also, the PoshBoy production style seemed to really work with our writing style so there ya go!
Another thing I loved about you guys were the clever lyrics – from songs like “You make me feel cheap” where it’s a role reversal and the girl is using the guy to “Manzanar” about the Japanese Internment camps – again was the a conscious decision to take a new spin of punk rock clichés or did it just come naturally?
I just wrote what interested me that day, but I was an English Major as a pretentious youth, so I’m sure I had to try and be extra clever and wordy for the folks! I laugh at a lot of those inflated lyrics now. But that was a beauty about Punk—you could make the lyrics serious, political, comedy, horror, it all worked under the flag.
Following on from the question above – was it your grandparents or one of your parents who were interned and did you get much feedback from people on that song (most punk bands I know only ever touched upon the European internment camps lyric wise) My Mother, who was actually born here in LA was sent to a camp with her 2 brothers and my grandparents. They weren’t sent to Manzanar, though. Worse, it was to a camp down in Louisiana of all places! Just seemed like a subject that was glossed over in school back in those days, and I was pretty outraged at the thought of my Mom, as a teenager, being forced from home.
What do you miss the most from the early 80s Punk scene?
I guess really the unpredictability of it all! Back then, you never knew if it was gonna be a shutdown, a riot, if the promoter was gonna pull a gun on you or if you might get laid! Nowadays, you have the agent collect half up front, there’s your backstage rider for RedBulls and towels, gotta set up merch, etc….It’s good, though, to be able to play and get paid, everything nice and organized. But back when the gigs were like a traveling Gypsy camp, it really made for some tight bonds and friendships.
I just stepped into a Payless shoe store yesterday – half the shoes were based on skate styles and they had some in-house brand that had the punk rock ransom note style writing as their logo – it seems to me that while 30 years ago we were the outsiders of society and that anyone with spiked hair or a shaven head was a pariah and everyone wanted to fight us now it seems that that is the mainstream – did you ever foresee Punk Rock getting so accepted into Society?
I would’ve never thought it would happen, and truthfully, I was probably of the thought that punk was pretty much dead when it hit the 90’s. The music is what survived though, and all the people that had that music in their heads, those people now are designing shoes and making car advertisements—and they know just the right song from their youth to sell this thing! It’s a great thing, that something that was first seen as so dangerous and destructive is really such a positive force in so many people’s live. It’s easy to be cynical about how punk has lost its meaning and is too accessible now, but it really comes down to the music, and long may it live!
Like I said above I loved “I’ve got a gun’ the second I heard it – when I heard Fear of Life I immediately heard it – but I have to say when I got “After the lights go out” it took me some serious time to “get into the record” do you think your playing style changed then simply cuz you guys got better at song writing and playing or was there another reason?
It took me a while to get into that record as well! I think the sound and vibe of that record is different—very distant and cold stuff on first listen, pretty dark lyrics too. But yeah, we were trying to expand the sound, not just us but Robbie and Jay Lansford on the production side. We have the backup singers, saxophone, and marimbas in there too! I guess like they say, you have forever to write the first record, 12 months to write the next. After the Lights…was pretty much written in one chunk of time, for better or worse, so it came out some sort of strange concept record. Some good songs on there, though we pushed a lot of the tempos I think…I’ll have to give it another chance!
Somewhere in the mid 80s you guys kind of went “hair metal” as did many bands at the time – was that an attempt to chase the “Guns and Roses” market? From memory didn’t you guys score some high profile tours at the time? IF so what was your most rock n roll moment?
Yeah, we went the old cliché’ big hair route a lot of the other bands went through then. A big difference, we had a blast during those times and aren’t really ashamed of that fact! Back then hardcore just seemed to hit a brick wall went it came to the gigs, touring, and the crowd. It was just natural to expand a little, especially now that we’d been holding these goddamn guitars in our hands for a few years and finally knew how to play them a bit! We did have some pretty high powered management, and did some gigs and touring with X, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Jane’s Addiction, etc. There was a night backstage at the Palladium in Hollywood, when we opened for Midnight Oil, and I’m standing between Peter Garrett and Lee Majors, the Six Million Dollar Man!
To me the CH3 record was a return to form – what was the inspiration for coming back as you guys did?
Well, we never really stopped getting together and practicing, writing a song here and there. So when the great Old School Punk resurgence of 2000 came around, it was natural to get back in the studio. We really knew that we wanted to come back to the style of songwriting that got us attention in the first place, let the guitars blast and sing a melody on top. We got a lot of nice feedback from that record, a relief as you really don’t know if people really want to hear from you again.
Do you think that the re-issuing of all the old 7”s and Lps on cd had anything to do with a renewed interest in both Channel 3 and early 80s punk rock with the record buying public?
Well, the cd reissues definitely kept the flame alive, especially at a time when a lot of the punks of my generation (the ones who hadn’t od’d or gone to prison anyway) were growing up. But I always thought it was the Internet that really fueled the great surge we had here in So Ca. It was a way to get the community back together, make the music really accessible.
Any plans for a new record and when are we going to see you guys on the East Coast again? Last time I saw you guys live was at CBGBS with MDC.
Actually, we have a 6 song ep in the can, just figuring out what to do with it! We’re thinking of just doing a short run of vinyl and downloads. And to celebrate 30 years since our first tour, we’re taking off in May to hit those same stops through Texas out to New Orleans. We always have the East Coast in mind; we’ll surely get back there before the year is up.
Where can fans buy your music and merchandise?
Just hit up the site http://www.chthree.com/ for all things CH3, be sure to check in on our regular blog @ # to see what we’re up to as well—
* How did the Tattooed Mother Fuckers come about? To me personally it seemed that in your previous band and side project records were every couple of years and once you formed TMF you have been very prolific in your output of albums and solo projects.
If I said it was actually a total joke at the beginning and never meant to be a serious band, would you believe me? We actually started to like the sound and attitude of a band that just didn’t give a flying fuck. The joke grew into a band; the band grew into a recording project and eventually a real live band. It was pointed out to me that it has been 10 years since this all began, so we ain’t recorded too much really, but there’s more to come for sure. A 10 year collector’s item is coming, I can feel it.
* How has the recording process changed from when you first started going into the studio to make music?
Anyone who has been knocking around in bands for say 20 years plus will know how long winded it used to be in the studio, live takes, all the fuck ups and starting again. Technology has made life so simple these days, cut and paste and build songs as you go along, it’s fucking great. Some say it ain’t real, but when you can record songs and albums with musicians in other countries, I say this is the way. Being stuck in a stinking studio for days with friends is not recommended, you can soon lose friends.
* Can you tell us how the song writing process works in TMF. Do you write the lyrics and someone else comes up with the riffs or do you hear that first and write a song around the music?
The TMF process is simple and the songs are proof that it works. Basically all the ideas are recorded at home by the guitarist ‘DERANGED’ and they have found their way to me with snail mail post on tape and eventually CD. I listen to the ideas for days until I feel comfortable matching up a few words that I’ve scribbled down through time and a song is born. We eventually get together and format a song with a start, verse, chorus, bridge and end. The studio time is booked and the rest is history. Fuck all that practicing a song to death, so much so that you start to hate it before you hit the studio. Everything is fresh and new this way.
* How does it work dividing up songs for Disturbed Motherfucker & TMF?
That’s easy because they are basically 2 different recording projects. The TMF guitarist has no input on any of my other projects and the lyrics I write are normally divided to where I think they are best suited. I have so many ideas waiting for the right kind of music to come along.
* So the TMF guitarist has no input for you solo stuff – do you come up with those songs yourself or you have another guitarist that writes with you?
The guitarist with TMF is strictly the TMF music machine only and without him there will be no more TMF. We are actually at a cross roads right now because he is basically a hairy ass biker and committed to a club, so we are hoping to be able to keep hold of him.
As for any other projects or solo stuff, that is written by other musicians and my lyrics written to this. I actually work a lot with ‘HAMMERED’ who is the bass player with TMF, he’s another all-round musical genius, surprising for a West Ham supporter and Londoner.
* What made you get Local Loon Sick Boy Hendrix into to do back up vocals on Ken? Also what prompted the song?
The song was actually inspired by sick boy himself, a crazy and funny man to be around indeed. I have a habit of writing snippets for songs everywhere I go and the song ‘Ken’ took shape because of Hendrix and then any other Ken’s that I could think of. It is not about Ken Mclellan, but I will say here that Ken is a friend and has actually penned a few songs for TMF.
A little side note for people also, I quit the RAC / 28 world some years back for reasons I won’t go into as I find it boring explaining, but I still have some friends in that world that I love and respect as people and hopefully our friendships will always remain. Friends don’t make you the person you are, their politics don’t make you the person you are, bands don’t make you the person you are – you do!
* If the band is based all over the country – how do rehearsals work before live shows?
We are not just based in separate parts of the country these days, I actually live in The Netherlands, so practices are a pain in the ass, especially for me. We try to arrange a practice each month to keep on top of our set and try new songs out, then we normally try to get a practice together a week before a gig, sometimes the day before or even the morning before. It is an expensive band to be in, so that is why we ask promoters that want us to play, ‘if you make – we make’, and a fair deal in our eyes.
* What has been the best gig you have done to date and why?
I personally have enjoyed most for one reason or another and I actually feel more at home doing gigs for up to 200 people in smaller venues. These gigs are more personal than the 1000 plus people gigs, but really have enjoyed playing in Sweden at the Kuggnas festival. We are back there again this year by the way.
* How would you compare the music scene today compared to growing up? – looking back the early 80s were nuts, you had The Exploited, Sham etc on Top of the pops, magazines like Punk Lives at the local newsagents, seemed like every town or village had a skinhead and punk scene going on.
Those days still hold some great memories, the days when music meant a whole lot more than politics ever could. The scene changed and punk went off in 2 extreme forms to the left and the right and things never were the same. We all hold our hands up and we’re guilty as charged in some form or another, but the music and attitude continues thank god, it’s just a shame that the political leaches are still trying to capture control.
* Are there any Political Punk bands that people would be surprised to hear you like?
Believe it or not, I listen to whatever I like and I always have. I don’t think you should be blinkered because you are a part of any one scene and told what you can and can’t listen to. I actually still listen to bands from the early 80’s a lot, Oi! / Punk. Nowadays I like a lot more hardcore influenced music but there’s no one band that would surprise people I don’t think. I was actually listening to ‘Pennywise’ this morning, ‘Drongos for Europe’ also.
* What advice would you give the Jonesy of the early 80s if you could travel back in time?
I wouldn’t offer any as the fucking idiot wouldn’t listen anyway. I chose a path back in them days, right or wrong I chose it, I lived it and I’m still here today. We all grow up in different countries, different surroundings and have different reasons for becoming skinheads, punks or whatever. No 2 people are the same, so why try to order or command people to be, live life and fuck it. If people think that the Jonesy of today is still the same Jonesy from 10, 20 or even 30 years ago………think again!
* What places has TMF not played that you would like to play?
I hope all the promoters out there are reading this because we really need to get a few more gigs sorted and here are some places we want to play: JAPAN, USA, CANADA, AUSTRALIA, NEW ZEALAND, and SCOTLAND. Saying that; we would play anywhere except for England as we crossed it off our list until all the pathetic shit there clears up.
* I knew you guys haven’t played the US yet – but when you do are there any cheesy touristy you are looking forward to doing?
I wanna see New York and Boston and see what they look like in real life, maybe catch a few bands also while I’m there. The sad thing is that I have a criminal history that hinders my entry, but I am looking into getting a travel visa this year. A lot of people have shown interest in bringing TMF out there to play and we hope we can make this happen.
* On life is so serious – you have a song “growing old disgraceful” what’s the worst part about getting old?
The worst part of growing old is waking up and actually realizing you are old. The older you get, the harder the hangovers and the harder it is to get back into a routine life after a full on weekend.
* I recently quit drinking after 30 years of boozing – you still drinking? If not what made you stop?
I was going to mention that I stopped drinking some 2 and half years ago in the above answer and that was when the realization of getting old kicked in ha-ha! I basically stopped because I am a bad drunk, angry, aggressive and not nice to be around. That and I would have probably ended up being kicked to death one day and not even realizing it. Drink is a major part of the scene and the working class life style. I don’t want to sound like a recovering alcoholic or anything, but I miss it most days but I look at my son and soldier on.
* Any classic drinking stories you want to share with us?
I’m saving them all for the book and no names will be changed to save any embarrassment ha-ha!
* How can fans living in America buy TMF cds and merchandise?
There are a few outlets that deal with us but a few also shun us, which is a shame. Check out people like HOSTILE CLASS, DIEHARD RECORDS and even INTER PUNK but whatever you do, don’t give your money to the thief at MICECRAP RECORDS.
* What can we expect next from you musically?
From me you will get nothing. I have the musical abilities of a 1 legged blind dog with the DT’s, but watch out for more TMF this year. Also there’s more DMF stuff lined up and also a more personal side project called OUTCLASS if me and the guitarist are ever ready?
* Not sure if Outclass is the same side project I have had heard some guitar tracks (with JK?) but again how do you lyrically separate the identity of TMF, DMF and other projects?
The ‘Outclass’ project is something I recorded in Bulgaria with an old friend I met while he was living in London. Anyway, we recorded 4 songs some years back and released them as a mini CD called ‘Second to None’. We have been writing an album, but it’s a slow process, but I can promise it will be a killer when it finally gets released on the world.
The songs meant for release with JK never materialized due to my slowness in getting into the studio and I do believe they were eventually recorded with a different singer and released as an album.
When I think of LA Punk I think of the Adolescents. If I could only pick one song to capture the Early 80s So-cal Punk scene I would pick “Kids of the Black Hole” by the Adolescents. Yup I said it. That one song alone captures the whole vibe and feel of the early 80s in LA.
It is no surprise that their debut album on Frontier records (The Blue Album) is one only second to the Dead Kennedy’s “Fresh Fruit For Rotting vegetables” as the best selling California Punk album of all time.
Formed in 1980 with members of Agent Orange and Social Distortion, the Adolescents got their first break like many bands of the time played on Rodney Bingenheimer’s show “Rodney on the Roq”
I have no proof of this but I am convinced that the best Indie record shops on the West Coast Amoeba (in LA, San Francisco and Berkley) got their name from the early 7″ “Amoeba” . Anyone care to back me up on this?
Loud fast and snotty these guys sure know how to right catchy songs – some of my favorites are of course “Kids of the Blackhole”, I Hate Children” “Amoeba” and “Wrecking Crew” I can just see huge pits kicking off whenever Wrecking Crew would play.
To this day I have never seen the band live – they have split up and gone throw numerous line up changes, i recall to this day sometime around 2004-2005 staying at the Standard Hotel in Hollywood and flying back to NYC ….THE VERY SAME DAY the band were due to play the House of Blues right up the street – of course it being a business trip I could not get my ticket changed and stay an extra day. Oh well I am sure I will get the chance to see them one day in NYC.
The second track from this classic EP, released in 1992 on the Steve Priest Fan Club label (later known as Vulture Rock Records). The third song on this EP was “Pride” by Ouka, which I don’t have, but would have uploaded if I did.
Released in 1992, the cover was foil stamped (the red sun) and made for a cool looking cover. To clear up any confusion: the songs “Low Life” and “Pride” was originally released on this record (along with “Patriot” from Sledge Hammer). Online downloads always have three other songs attributed to this split EP. I owned this record personally and can attest to the the fact that the above three songs were on this record. I was frustrated, trying to get these songs again, only to find different songs in their place.
Continuing on from yesterdays Malaysian Oi post today I want to introduce you to one of the most well known Oi bands in Japan – Cobra. They were one of the first Japanese bands to incorporate the Oi sound to their music – starting in 1982 they are still going today!