Wow guys – No Future records was home to some of my favorite bands back in the day , Blitz, Channel 3 , The Partisans, Red Alert the list goes on and on. Check this great interview with Chris Berry on the history of the label and how him and Richard Jones started with a Thousand Pound bank loan. This is must see TV if you loved any of the UK 82 style punk bands
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.
Flipside was a LA punk fanzine that was published from 1977 to 2000 – although I did not find out about it until I think 1981 or ’82 . You see “back in my day” there was no fancy internet and blogs to keep us updated on music events across the world minutes after they happen.
I grew up in Perth Western Australia – which is the most remote capital city in the entire world. Luckily for us – we had very close ties to Britain , I am not sure of the percentages at the time but our city and the City of Adelaide back in the late ’70s probably had the most British ex -pats of any Aussie cities. Back then Sydney was the most American City and Melbourne was the most European. At the time many of our Television shows, a good 30% (if not more) where British made- we had shows like “London Weekend Update” which most of my friends parents would watch (as did mine) to keep them up to speed on what was going on in the Motherland – I recall as early as 1976 seeing TV specials on Punk Rock and I distinctly remember a class elementary school trip to our local High school in 1977 and seeing my first punk rockers. We had 2 great import record shops and again by the time we read in the British Music press on the latest UK punk bands we could find the records in either one of these stores.
I was also a vert skateboarder and probably had a subscription to the best Skateboard magazine at the time “Skateboarder”. By 1978 or so, the Dogtown boys were already starting to get into punk rock and unlike the rest of my mates, I was somewhat aware that punk rock existed in LA (and America). You see the general consensus at that time was outside of the Ramones Americans didn’t do punk rock. (WTF!)
Its funny as you get older – you definitely have a tendency to forget certain things in your life and what memories you can look back and remember clear as day, sometimes don’t make sense. Well i remember the first time I saw an issue of Flipside and the first issue I bought.It was at Black Plague books in Northbridge – alright I am somewhat spacing on the name of the street (on I haven’t been home in 22 years) but I want to say it was on Aberdeen street – yes it did move to a second location on King Street in 1984. Marina (RIP) the chick that ran Black Plague books – which was basically a punk rock store – had taken a chance and imported a few issues of Flipside and the one I bought had a red cover with interviews with Red Kross in it (anyone know what issue that was?) and the big talking point in the letters pages was the Misfits show which had just been through California and the fact that Jerry Only had clobbered some sap with his bass guitar – some kids said the kid totally asked for it and other kids said Jerry got the wrong guy? Who were the Misfits – I just had to hear them ! I don’t remember too much else about that issue – but c’mon its been well over 30 years since I picked it up – with the amount of beers I have drunk since then you guys are lucky I remember anything !
Flipside opened my eyes up to the enormity of the burgeoning LA punk scene and I read every word of every issue from then on – unlike MRR which was very very political Flipside was always about the scene and kept politics out (Thanks guys!!!) Some where along the way I ended up writing some articles for Flipside (I want to say on my local scene or local bands – again I forget) and when they published my home address I was swamped with letters from kids all over America – that started my experiences with tape trading (it was very pricey to mail 7″ records to people besides you never knew if they would make it all the way there in one piece). At one point I was probably writing to 50 kids a week and to this day I am still in touch with some of those people I was pen friends with at the time (Hi Erik , Hi Adriana)
Some key memories I have from Flipside is mailing away to Joey Shithead from DOA for the “Hardcore 81” record and I “think” that I also ordered Black Flags “Damaged” from him too, hearing about the Exploited’s LA show were all the riot cops came in and cracked skulls, having Shawn Stern from Youth Brigade mailing me the first few BYO releases (Looking for Aussie Distribution) and the 100s of American friends I made a long the way. Writing to Mike from Channel 3 and having him write back was pretty great too.
I moved to England in 1989 and found myself visiting NYC pretty regularly from 1991 onwards – however I never made it to LA until 2000. Of course my first trip there I was name checking every place that was still around that I had recalled reading about in LA back in the early 80s.
I would not go as far as to say if it wasn’t for Flipside I would not be here living in America but I will say that Flipside definitely helped shape my world view of the punk scene and music scene in general. So, thanks guys for all the good times – its been greatly appreciated!
I first remembering hearing Channel 3’s “I’ve got a gun” on one of the punk and disorderly compilation records and been blown away by the energy and speed of that song.. you see at the time even though the punk motto was louder faster many bands especially the British bands of the day played fairly mid paced. I think amongst me and my mates there was some debate on whether Channel 3 were British or American since up until that point pretty much every band on the P+D comps had been British. Well, they were American, Southern Californian to be exact. I think from memory (so don’t get upset if I am wrong) Posh Boy records released the Punk And Disorderly compilations in the USA and I am assuming that in exchange they wanted Channel 3 included on one of the releases – if so smart move by Posh Boy. Anyways I became a fan after that and bought their Ep and their First Lp Fear of Life soon after.
I recall writing to Mike (singer/guitarist) and him writing back and sending me a few stickers – which is a big deal when you are a kid, there was probably a long contemplation on whether to stick them on my skateboard (where they may get ruined) or to save them – i think i had a desk drawer full of stickers back in the day – haha
At some point soon after that I am guessing 1983 (its all a blur after 30 years and 1-2 beer that I have drunk since then ok well maybe 3 or 4 ….) a pen friend in the USA sent me a cassette of his radio show which featured “Trust and Truth” from the “After the lights go out album” …so different from the first single and LP I even questioned if this was the same band!! In hindsight of course it was so far from a radical departure but hey when you are a snot nosed 17 year what do you really know – eh?. I finally picked up the album ATLGO and you know what ..it took me some time but I did get into it and to this day I still listen to it every now and then..I know the band took a lot of flack for trying to “diversify” their sound and years later (2002?) they came out with a new record that was a return to form. I was lucky enough to catch the band playing at CGBS – I wanna say mid 2000s 2005? 2006 and despite being old dudes they still delivered the goods.
Too many favorite songs to list but here’s a few :
I’ve got a Gun