Strung Out's New Album Pushes Them Forward Without Looking Back

Categories: Bands We Like

StrungOutnew.jpg
Rick Kosick
Nostalgia is something many punk bands have been embracing, especially during the past year or so, as everyone from the Offspring to Taking Back Sunday have reissued their biggest records. But if someone told Strung Out's Jason Cruz his band was veering that direction, that person would likely incur his wrath. "I don't like looking back, and I really don't care too much to listen to old stuff," the singer says as he hangs out at a dog park near his home in Ventura County. "It's like hanging out with an old girlfriend; it's just hard to do."

That said, Cruz and his band mates have spent the better part of the past six years celebrating their ferocious early material, releasing a greatest-hits package and a box set, as well as going out on a couple of album tours under terms even Cruz begrudgingly accepted.
"It made me appreciate where we came from," he says, "and I need that every once in a while."


More »

Riding Along With Dengue Fever's Chhom Nimol in Long Beach's Cambodia Town

chhom-nimol-dengue-fever-by-taylor-hamby.jpg
Taylor Hamby/OC Weekly
Nimol demonstrates krama scarves
Before she became the lead singer of the internationally known rock band Dengue Fever, Chhom Nimol lived in a gritty neighborhood most people in Long Beach (not to mention the rest of Southern California) might not realize even exists. It's called Cambodia Town and it boasts the largest population of Cambodians outside Southeast Asia and France. The neighborhood is easy to miss, stretching along the north side of Anaheim Street between Atlantic and Junipero Aves.

With the recent release of the band's fifth album, the wonderfully moody and psychedelic The Deepest Lake--which finds the band at the height of their songwriting and performing prowess--we figured it'd be a great time to check out Nimol's old haunts.

More »

Social Distortion's Mike Ness Hit Rock Bottom Before Reaching the Top

Categories: Bands We Like

SDpromophoto1byDannyClinch-thumb-550x826.jpg
Danny Clinch
Social Distortion--See Wednesday
Mark C. Horn
In the song "California (Hustle & Flow)" from Social Distortion's Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes, singer Mike Ness professes, "Life gets hard and then it gets good / like I always knew it would."

Ness, the one-time Fullerton, California, street punk and lone surviving member of the legendary So Cal punk band Social Distortion, is as recognizable for living the life he portrays in verse, both the bad and good, as he is by the shades, tattoos, classic punk snarl vocals and cautionary tales.

In short, he has gone from survival mode, having been kicked out of his childhood home at 15, to living life on his terms as a the band's leader, owner of Black Kat Kustoms (est. 2003) clothing line and car and bike parts, and having a solid marriage, two sons, a ranch, and most of all, happiness.


More »

Jeff Shuman Is the Keeper of the Observatory

Categories: Bands We Like

Jeffrey-Schulman_5394.jpg
Photo by John Gilhooley
Lives in the coolest trailer in OC

Jeff Shuman lives, eats, breathes and sleeps talent-buying at the Observatory. That isn't a figure of speech--when he isn't working there, he actually sleeps there. His commute home after an all-night show is a 50-yard schlep out the rear side exit to an old, white RV in the back of the Observatory parking lot. Once inside, he flops down on his bed and prepares to do it all again the next day.


More »

Wetwood Smokes Unmask Their New EP, Organ Donor

Categories: Bands We Like

WWsmokes.jpeg
Allison Bird
For Wetwood Smokes, starting a band meant more than writing songs and carving out time to jam; it meant moving in together and finding a way to dodge neighborhood noise complaints. While the tale may sound familiar, vocalist/guitarist Josh Bowman, drummer Steven Howard, and bassist Chrystian Cano are determined to beat the odds and make their story a successful one. Judging by their sophomore EP, Organ Donor, they're on their way. The title track is peppered with sweet harmonies and swells with Bowman's raspy, soaring vocals, and "Stark" is an emotionally raw call to arms.

Bowman and Howard are stepbrothers who grew up playing together, but it wasn't until Cano entered the picture that Wetwood Smokes came to fruition. The group caught a break last year after playing a string of sold out shows in Los Angeles opening for The Brobecks (whose front man is Dallon Weekes of Panic! At The Disco), and they're looking to build on that notoriety with the release of Organ Donor. The group is set to play The Wayfarer in Costa Mesa on March 19 to celebrate the release, with support from opening acts Bird and The War, and The Lucky Lonely. The Weekly caught up with Cano to hear how the group landed OC Music Award-winning producer Jon O'Brien, why their sound is changing, and what's up with those masks.


More »

The Expendables Pray For an End to Bad Action Film Franchise of the Same Name

Categories: Bands We Like

theexpendables.jpg
For the past 18 years, The Expendables have been as reliable as a Sylvester Stallone movie - at least the ones that were released in the '80s. The Santa Cruz-based outfit have been a fixture in the West Coast reggae rock scene, spending most of their time on the road. However, the past five years have been a departure from what their fervent fan base has been accustomed to.

Though the group released an all-acoustic album in 2012, Gone Soft, it was composed of previously recorded tracks. Singer Geoff Weers called it experimental, but not for the reasons fans may have expected. That album he says was a trial run - not to see whether or not acoustic songs would be their next stage - but instead to test out the studio they were in the process of building for themselves in Santa Cruz.


More »

The Return and Farewell of Killer Pussy

Categories: Bands We Like

killerpussy.jpg
Glen Benson
Lucy LaMode of Killer Pussy
By: Rich Kane
"I don't really want to be singing these songs when I'm 60," says Lucy LaMode, who's just seven years shy of that mile-marking age. "I'm not the Rolling Stones, and it's not the way I make a living. But I'm still pretty slim. I figure I better play some shows before things change."

Back in 1980, LaMode, then a teenager slamming her way through the Phoenix punk scene, would have laughed at the thought of being a 53-year-old mother of two boys and still fronting a band named Killer Pussy, singing about herpes and dildos and masturbation and--perhaps on the menu at a hipster food truck near you--pepperoni ice cream. And yet, she is in the midst of one last road trip before retiring Killer Pussy forever, stopping Sunday in Santa Ana, part of the band's first California shows since the '80s.


More »

Restorations Enjoy an Unexpected Second Shot at a Music Career

Categories: Bands We Like

Restorations.jpg
Mitchell Wojcik
Playing in a touring band was never in the cards for Restorations. After post-hardcore outfit Jena Berlin split up, Jon Loudon and Dave Klyman were content to release music independently, without any expectations. Though they played a handful of shows that were marked by bodies flying and arms flailing, goaded by the energy emanating from the stage, Restorations were meant to be a project in which the five members--guitarist/vocalist Loudon, guitarist Klyman, keyboardist/guitarist Ben Pierce, bassist Dan Zimmerman and percussionist Carlin Brown--would come up with songs, record them at their leisure and be done. As a new band with members in their 30s, they preferred to stay close to home to foster their relationships and the rigors of their day jobs instead of worrying about the rigors of the road.

Yet after the release of their debut album, LP1, in 2011, which was lyrically mature and sonically ambitious, the band's profile started to grow beyond what they expected, and they inked a deal with Los Angeles' SideOneDummy Records in 2012.


More »

Future User: Rage Against the Machine Bassist Tim Commerford's Futuristic New Band!

Categories: Bands We Like

tim_commerford.jpg
Dana Klein
Jordan Tarlow and Tim Commerford
A masked man began appearing in politically charged music videos nearly half-a-year ago. The band he fronted called itself Future User. Its music mixed prog rock sounds with EDM providing a backdrop for visual critiques of police brutality, torture at Guantanamo Bay, NSA spying and GMO foods. But who was this mysterious propagandist? A fourth video, "Mountain Lion" came roaring last month when, suddenly, Rage Against the Machine bassist Tim Commerford appeared...and lit himself on fire!

More »

Cursive Dig Up Forgotten Bits of The Ugly Organ

Categories: Bands We Like

Cursivepic.jpg
Daniel Muller
The members of Cursive weren't even sure the band would survive long enough to make a fourth album. While their first three had won them fans and sold moderately well, they were hardly a juggernaut by early 2003. During recording sessions at that time, singer Tim Kasher's lung collapsed, and his band mates were concerned he'd no longer be able to sing. Kasher survived the scare and went back into the studio, the results of which were released as The Ugly Organ, Cursive's defining album.

"We were pretty sure that the record wasn't going to work," bassist Matt Maginn recalls. "The Ugly Organ may not have happened if we were worried about how it would be received. It was so weird and a bit of a departure from the other Cursive stuff. If we were concerned, it would have stifled the creativity, production and everything that happened with that album."

More »
Loading...