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DS Exclusive: Derek Zanetti (Homeless Gospel Choir) on new album, the importance of punk rock and working with Frank Turner

Derek Zanetti, aka The Homeless Gospel Choir embodies everything that makes punk great. He is a punk musician to the core who embodies a D.I.Y punk aesthetic where every song drips with authenticity and truth. He is that rare artist who can deliver a more affecting, relatable message in one single line than most bands manage on an entire album. His vulnerable lyrics and almost painful honesty often deal with his own mental health issues yet he can also be almost cruelly self-deprecating and uproariously funny. Similarly, his music is overtly political, following a proud tradition of folk-punk musicians such as Billy Bragg, Frank Turner, Davey Dynamite etc who use their voice to address the injustices, inequalities and general intolerance that sadly infects modern society.

Since releasing his 2010 debut album “Some People Never Go Anywhere”, Zanetti has built a dedicated following both in his native Pittsburgh and further afield. 2014’s “I Used To Be So Young” garnered him a degree of critical acclaim as well as some famous fans in the shape of Frank Turner and former My Chemical Romance guitarist Frank Iero. New album, “Normal” features the same poignant, soul-stirring lyrical nous you would expect but also showcases a greater mastery of song craft as songs move from folk-punk to Americana to anthemic pop punk in the form of “Crazy”, “1983” and the defining and triumphant “Normal”. A beautifully succinct statement to the world about what it means to suddenly find yourself part of the all encompassing, life-changing scene that is punk rock.

Before Zanetti embarks on a huge tour with Beach Slang and Frank Iero and the Patience, Dying Scene had the chance to talk with the always gracious and engaging Zanetti about the “Normal” album, the influence of folk-punk great Frank Turner, working with Frank Iero as well as why the very ideals that punk embodies still coarse through his veins.

Check out the interview below.



Bad Religion working on new album

Bad Religion bassist Jay Bentley stated in a recent interview with Krone that they have started working on a new album but haven’t booked studio time yet. He explains (thanks to Ultimate-Guitar.com for the translation):

“We have not even talked about when we go to the studio. We are still on the starting line. We do not have a plan to go where the trip is, but we want to go on the journey. Every single Bad Religion album was created exactly like this. It was never about having to do something, but to do it. I can not be forced into anything else in life.”

We’ll keep you posted as more details on the new Bad Religion album come to light. It will be their first full-length studio album since 2013’s True North as well as their first with Mike Dimkich (replacing Greg Hetson) on guitar and Jamie Miller (replacing Brooks Wackerman) on drums.



Jack Terricloth Really Wants to Hear From Sly Stone, Talks New World/Inferno Record, and How He Met Stza Crack Through Their Dealer

Photo by Jeff Schaer-Moses Photograpjy
Jack Terricloth of World/Inferno Friendship Society at Hallowmas 2016.

The World/Inferno Friendship Society is more like a punk circus than it is a band, and Jack Terricloth has been the unquestioned ringleader for more than twenty years. It’s hard to believe that a sound so bizarre has endured for more than two decades, especially among the New York punk scene which has very little tolerance for nuance. But WIFS has carved out their niche in the Big Apple with a mix of otherworldly talent and theatrical pageantry unmatched by any of their contemporaries.

The group has truly graduated some greats, like Brian Viglione of the Dresden Dolls, Yula Beeri, and Franz Nicolay (to name just a few). But no matter who they have to replace, they continue to bring the same level of tenacity, talent, and showmanship, due in large part to their diabolical leader Mr. Terricloth.

WIFS has an imminent big-time show at one of Brooklyn’s up-and-coming punk venues, Brooklyn Bazaar, and they are working tirelessly on their new record. But preparatory to unleashing their 13-piece carnival of horrors onto New York, Jack Terricloth sat down with Dying Scene to talk about the new record, how he hopes to one day reunite with Sly Stone, and meeting the members of Leftover Crack through their mutual drug dealer.

Read the full interview below.



Social Distortion’s Mike Ness talks new album, studio plans

In a recent interview, Social Distortion frontman Mike Ness stated that, in the next six-to-nine months, the band will begin pre-production and the recording process of their long-awaited new album, due for release sometime next year. He explains:

“Once this tour ends, we’ll spend six to nine months in pre-production. Then we’ll record the album. I’ll do some reference recordings at our studio, but they’ll be pretty crude. For arrangements and experimenting with stuff, the recordings don’t need to be high-quality.”

Mike also explained why the band takes a long time to make records, “Journalists will say, ‘It’s been seven years since your last record.’ But it didn’t take seven years to write the record. It probably took seven years to wind down from five years of touring. And I have a family, I have responsibilities. Sometimes I need five years to live life, so I have stuff to write about. Sometimes I don’t pick up a guitar for six months, but when I do pick it up, the past six months pour out of me.”

He was also asked if it’s too early to offer a preview of the new record, and his response was, “There are things about Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes I want to keep, but the next album may have more of a garage feel to it. I want it to have a little bit more high energy. And for this new record, unfortunately, I feel like I have to write the album of my career. There’s going to be a lot of thought put into it.”

Social Distortion’s recent album, Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes, was released in 2011. That was the band’s first release on Epitaph Records, and their first studio album since 2004’s Sex, Love and Rock ‘n’ Roll.



DS Interview: 88 Fingers Louie’s Denis Buckley discusses new album Thank You For Being A Friend

88 Fingers Louie formed in 1993 in Chicago. Now, as in earlier incarnations, 88 Fingers Louie is an often intensely personal, politically astute band. Also, the kind of band that could somehow take those two things and make them fun. When they dissolved in 1999, they were one of a handful of bands from that time period I always felt had at least another great album left in them. Thank You for Being a Friend, released by Bird Attack Records in June, proved that to be the truth. I had a chance to speak with vocalist Denis Buckley as the band was gearing up for their European tour.

Check out the interview below



DS Exclusive: Chris Cresswell on “Inviting Light,” leaving Fat Wreck Chords and more

Following on the heels of the widely-accepted shitstorm that was 2016, you most certainly don’t need a punk rock news website to break to you the fact that 2017 has been a bit of a weird year. In many ways, both nationally and globally, there seem to be a lot of previously uncharted waters being navigated socially, politically, environmentally, and on and on and on. Yet just because waters are uncharted doesn’t mean that they have to be inherently bad. Enter The Flatliners. Weird though it might be, the calendar turning to 2017 kicked off a series of fairly important milestones in the history of the long-running Canadian punk rock quartet. All four members turn thirty this year. The band itself turns fifteen, and their highly-regarded Fat Wreck Chords debut, The Great Awake, turns ten.

2017 also marked the release of the band’s fifth full-length album, Inviting Light, which as you’re probably well-enough aware by now, marks a bit of a departure for a couple noteworthy reasons: while it still contains its fair share of snarling, aggressive moments, is easily the most anthemic “rock-and-roll” album in the band’s catalog. IT also marks their first album on a new label, Rise Records, after a decade on pioneering punk rock label Fat Wreck Chords.

Dying Scene chatted over the phone with Flatliners frontman Chris Cresswell just before the band left for their current eastern US tour with new SideOneDummy signee Pkew Pkew Pkew and Red City Radio‘s Garrett Dale. Cresswell is honest and engaging, even over the telephone; his frequently digressing rapid fire delivery could fool one into believing he comes from Boston Irish stock (were it not for the fact that he’s charming and humble and self-aware and so obviously Canadian). Cresswell and his Flatliners brothers are very aware that this is a big year for them, and they’re very aware of what some of the grumblings on the message boards and comment sections of the internet might opine about their band’s recent direction. They also come across as okay with all of it. “I’m always curious what people think when we put something new out, for sure, and sometimes that’s difficult,” says Cresswell. He’s also well aware that, while paying attention to some of the critics is okay, there has to be a bit of a balance. “You can’t get caught up in what other people think, because if that were the case, bands would make the same record over and over again. Filmmakers would make the same movie over and over again. The arts would suffer if you always listened to your critics. It’s not a great idea to shut them out either, because it is nice to have that push to always be better no matter what you’re doing in life.”

Due in part to the landmark nature of this particular year within the band, Cresswell and company (the band’s lineup of Scott Brigham on lead guitar, Jon Darbey on bass and Paul Ramirez on drums remains unchanged for the duration) figured it was as good a time as any to mix things up. “You do the same thing for fifteen years as a band, and ten years with the same label, even if it’s all good, there’s a part of you that wonders if there’s something else you could try,” says Cresswell. He’s more than aware of how the move from Fat to Rise Records might look, particularly as Inviting Light has a bit of a different sound. None of those rumblings are true. This is 2017; it’s not about money, it’s not about their old label declining to put it out or their new label influencing their sound. It’s really just about branching out as a band. “When you grow up on fucking Fat Wreck Chords bands and then you become one and you are one for ten years and you reach a level of personal success and fulfillment that you never dreamed to be a reachable or realistic at all, it kind of inspires you to be like “this is cool…what do we do now?” and that kind of thing.

The band had fun — a lot of it — recording Inviting Light, and in spite of the extended space between albums (their last full length, Dead Language, was released four years ago) they actually recorded it fairly quickly, albeit in two separate chunks a year apart. Where Dead Language was recorded live in studio using only the band’s road gear, the Inviting Light sessions saw the band change things up in that avenue too. Drums and bass were still recorded live because, well, because that’s how Jon and Paul seem to groove the best. They initially “played everything live but we just kept the bass and drums, and when Paul and Jon lock up, it’s insane. It’s incredible. In the two sessions we did which were essentially a year apart, they did twenty songs in like four days!” When it came time to record guitars and vocals, however Cresswell and Brigham holed up in a new studio with new producers Peter Pablo and Derek Hoffman and got experimental, playing with tones and textures until dialing working sounds in and ripping through final takes.

The result, as you know by now, is different; more major chords, more melodic, more straight-forward, a little more dare-we-say optimistic, especially when compared to Dead Language. As you might imagine, there’s a reason for that. Says Cresswell: “Before this record, I was in a pretty shit place. If you listened to or read any of the lyrics to Dead Language, it’s pretty fucking bleak, and that’s why that record is so angry and has such heavy elements to it. I was going through a heavy time on a personal level. Nothing dangerous, but I was having a really hard time being away all the time.

Lyrically speaking, Cresswell has tended to paint a bit of an admittedly bleak picture. Even as a native of the Toronto area, living as a socially-aware human in the wake of last year’s US Presidential election has been bleak in-and-of itself. “There’s a lot of evil in the world, especially with what’s happened over the last couple years on a global scale.” We’ve all seen the think-pieces on how the age of Trump will at least inspire some good, angry punk rock, and we’ve already started to see aggressive, confrontational “punk” rock albums come out and tackle those issues head on. Though this may be counter-intuitive to a stereotypical punk rock ethic, maybe there are ways to attack the issue that are less in-your-face. Cresswell offers that maybe his band’s way of trying to focus on the light at the end of the tunnel — hence Inviting Light — can help some people through a bullshit time, though he acknowledges with a self-deprecating laugh how “super fucking noble” that concept sounds. “If you can be, even to a small population of people, somebody who can help them through a tough time, that’s sick! That’s what music did for me when I was a kid and it still does it for me today!

Reflecting on being away for weeks or months at a time has been an ongoing thing as Cresswell and the Flatliners round the corner on 30 years old, particularly when you’re as inward thinking as the frontman is. Any potential ego trips are balanced — and probably eliminated — by what Cresswell calls a “rabbit hole of a self-imposed guilt trip that’s usually at play in a lot of folks who tour a lot because it is a pretty self-serving thing that we do!” The older the band gets, the older their respective family members and close friendships get, meaning additional priorities and perspectives become factored into the increasingly difficult equation. Still, especially in the punk world, the pull of the road doesn’t go away just because you’re no longer in your twenties. “There’s this insatiable desire in us to just hit the road. For instance, if you play Chicago and no one fucking comes, you’re going to go back like three months later and play there again. Punk bands are the only bands that will keep going back and playing even if no one fucking comes out, because it’s just about the experiences of the road, and being away, and the story and just fucking living in a van for real!

While the runs might get a little shorter or more spread out, hitting the road is still very much what this whole thing is about for Cresswell and The Flatliners. So far, 2017 has seen the band already complete tours of Canada with bands like The Dirty Nil and, of course, Weezer, and Europe with their longtime buds in The Menzingers. The aforementioned tour with Pkew Pkew Pkew and Garrett Dale showcases just how varied the bands that fall under the umbrella of punk rock have become, in an inspiring way. Changes in the music industry landscape have equated to differing changes, and like many of us, Cresswell knows that when it comes to one band’s sound or one person’s musical interests, “your brain musically doesn’t have to stay in one lane. You can be into whatever you want to be into. I know today there’s a lot of pressure and social anxiety is through the roof and there’s a reason for it. Day to day, it can be a tough world to live in for a lot of people, you know? But where you should be able to find solitude is in the music you’re into if you’re a music fan. You shouldn’t have to worry about what other people think.”

Check out our full conversation below. There’s a lot of other ground covered, particularly surrounding the band’s decision to leave Fat Wreck Chords – and the yearlong process of actually leaving: “It felt like a break-up, man. It was so sad… I’m just happy that we were able to go about it in a way that everybody is still friends. There’s no bad blood fucking whatsoever.” Check out all of the Flatliners upcoming tour dates here.



Mark Hoppus says next Blink-182 album will be “a little more experimental”

Blink-182 members Mark Hoppus and Matt Skiba were recently interviewed by NME, where they talked about their next album and hope to begin writing early next year. On the album’s musical direction, Hoppus stated:

“I think this album took Blink back to its roots and what it’s all about, and I think on the next record, we want to push that boundary again. We’ll keep the core of Blink 182 but we’ll get a little more experimental. Kind of like what we did on the untitled record, which we’re all really proud of. It still sounded like Blink and had that Blink feeling, but it was different and a little more thought out.”

Blink-182 just released a deluxe edition of their latest album California. We’ll keep you posted as more details on the band’s next record come to light.



DS Interview: Booze & Glory discuss their new album “Chapter IV”

One of the less covered genre’s in the punk world is Oi! Whether it be because of stigma or misinformation oi! punk remains one of the truest forms of punk rock expression. London’s Booze and Glory are fresh off their latest masterpiece released in March on Burning Heart Records, “Chapter IV” is the most complete Booze and Glory album yet. “Chapter IV” is packed with fast paced old school punk rock anthems and ageless wisdom. With the recent release of “Chapter IV” we had a chance to catch up with the legends of oi!

Check out the full interview below.



Dave Lombardo hopes there will be another Suicidal Tendencies album

Over a year ago, Suicidal Tendencies frontman Mike Muir stated that their latest album World Gone Mad could be their last one. In a recent interview, however, former Slayer and current Suicidal drummer Dave Lombardo expressed hope that the band will make another album:

“I hope. I really hope. I feel like that guy has a lot more creativity in him and a lot more energy than to throw in the towel. I feel Mike is on top of his game, and he’s got a great band and great history with this band and I think that we should keep going, and I hope he does. And I’m not gonna stop asking him to record. I’m going to make sure that I keep bugging him: ‘Man, we’ve gotta record. Let’s do some recording. C’mon, let’s record another album. Why not?’ I try to motivate the musicians I’m with because there’s no reason to stop. You’ve gotta keep recording, you’ve gotta keep creating. It’s what we do for a living.”

You can listen to the interview in its entirety below.

World Gone Mad was released last September, and is their first album since 2013’s 13. It’s also the band’s first with the new lineup of Mike Muir, Dean Pleasants, Jeff Pogan, Ra Diaz and Dave Lombardo.



Dexter Holland hopes to focus on new Offspring music soon

The Offspring frontman Dexter Holland was recently interviewed by the Break It Down Show, where he gave an update on the band’s long-awaited new album, stating that he hopes to focus on recording or finishing it soonHere’s what he had to say (as transcribed by Ultimate-Guitar.com):

“We’re finishing up what I would call “song number four” right now. We’ve been kinda coming in more sporadically before we kinda spent a whole year here working on a record, and now especially because…Well, I was kinda busy, so we were splitting it up and stuff, so that’s kinda where we’re at now, but…I think I’ve got a little more time now to focus on the music, and that’s what I want to do, get back to that. Hopefully soon.”

The new Offspring album will be the band’s first since 2012’s Days Go By. No word on a release date yet, but we’ll keep you posted as more details come to light.



Greg Graffin says Bad Religion are gearing up for new album

Bad Religion frontman Greg Graffin recently offered Las Vegas Weekly an update on the band’s long-awaited new album. Although he didn’t give much information, Greg stated that the band is “definitely gearing up for a new album”, and added, with a laugh, “Our fans are getting itchy.”

We’ll keep you posted as more details on the new Bad Religion album come to light. It will be their first full-length studio album since 2013’s True North as well as their first with Mike Dimkich (replacing Greg Hetson) on guitar and Jamie Miller (replacing Brooks Wackerman) on drums.



The Offspring complete four new songs for new album, expected to hit the studio later this year

Ned-Rock 108 recently conducted an interview with The Offspring frontman Dexter Holland, who revealed that they have four songs completed for their long-awaited new album, which they expect to finish later this year. Here’s what he had to say (as transcribed by Ultimate-Guitar.com):

“Well, I’ve been busy doing homework. But now that’s done, so we’re…now we’ve been working in the studio a bunch, it’s kinda weird now because you don’t really do an album the way you used to. ‘Cause people kinda…they look at your album and you go, “OK, what’s next?”. So you’re almost like better off releasing songs here and there kind of. So we put out “Coming For You”. It was just last year, I think? Something like that. And we’ve got like three songs done, and a fourth song almost done, so we’re just gonna get back in the studio as soon as we can. So how will it take us to do eight more songs? I don’t know. We should be able to do that this year.”

You can watch the rest of the interview below.

The new Offspring album will be the band’s first since 2012’s Days Go By. No word on a release date yet, but we’ll keep you posted as more details come to light.



DS Interview: Ryan Patterson on the end of Coliseum and the birth of his new Fotocrime solo vehicle

All Break ups can hurt. Band break ups can really hurt. Some breakups can be met with a shrug, some can hit you hard and some can hit you completely out of the blue. On 19th April 2017, progressive punks Coliseum quietly released a statement on their Facebook page announcing their split after a 12 year career which saw the band play over a 1,000 shows and release 5 albums ranging from the bruising hardcore of their debut through to their most realized final 2 albums, the almighty Sister Faith and the post-punk influenced Anxiety’s Kiss. For those who have followed the band over the years it came as a complete shock. Nevertheless, to soften the blow, the aforementioned statement also announced the arrival of frontman Ryan Patterson’s new solo vehicle, Fotocrime. Dying Scene spoke to Ryan about the split, why the time was right to try something new and about the challenges of creating music as a solo artist.

Despite the continued romanticism, making a success of a band relies on a mixture of good will, good fortune and ceaseless endeavor. 3 principles that undoubtedly defined the career of Coliseum, as Patterson explains,“With a band like Coliseum, that was a band that worked really really hard for a really long time and accomplished an unbelievable amount of stuff but a lot of it was through sheer force of will. That and the support of people like record labels who believed in us and invested a lot of money where we weren’t going to be their most popular band.”

With so much effort and resolve required it becomes easier to understand the band’s reasons for calling it quits. In the end it was a sober realization of where they found themselves as a band at the end of the touring cycle for Anxiety’s Kiss, as Patterson explains, “It was pragmatic. It was a pragmatic decision that we made after a lot of thought and I think it was bouncing around in the back of my head for a little bit and once we all started talking about it it just seemed like the best route for all of us and for the band.”

For Patterson, the band had achieved everything that they wanted to do, “We had done more than we could ever hoped to and my only goal in Coliseum was, when I started, was to tour a lot and to craft some legacy and we absolutely did both of those things. We played over 1,000 shows in 4 continents. We put out a lot of music. Most of which I am extremely proud of. Some of which I think is absolutely great for us.” states Patterson emphatically before continuing:

“Certainly we felt with Sister Faith and Anxiety’s Kiss we accomplished what, I think, the band was always leading up to and absolutely what I wanted to do with that band. We just thought ‘where do we go from here?’” We’ve kind of done all of this. We accomplished goals. Sister Faith and Anxiety’s Kiss were really on top of each other in terms of how quickly we wrote and recorded them. I think that’s it, we’re all happy with each other and we’re all happy creatively; let’s not push it to a point where we are not happy creatively and don’t like each other.”

Coupled with the collective acknowledgement of their accomplishments was the recognition that the band weren’t overly eager to work on new music, “For one thing, we didn’t all have a burning desire to work on new material at the time and that kind of seemed to become evident.” Rather than take a break Patterson realized that the most natural thing to do was to call a halt to the band that had become the dominant force in his life for such a long time, as he explains, “We probably could have taken a few years off but with Coliseum I was never really able to slow down. I was always wanting to move forward and I needed time away to clear my head and manage some things in my perception of music and in life. In 12 years I had never had a time in my life when something was not scheduled in terms of a tour or travel or writing or recording and it was kind of time to have a break from that and it was always a kind of uphill struggle.We never kind of broke through so there was a lot of work.”

Naturally, the question asked by fans of the band is whether there is any chance of the band getting back together. While it isn’t something that is going to happen anytime soon, Patterson is keen not to rule it out completely, “The door is shut but it’s not locked. We’re all still close. We’re all still in touch and proud of what we did and I kind of see Coliseum as a living breathing thing that was a part of my life and it still is. It’s still there and there are things that will still happen with it. There’s music that we haven’t released that I’m sure will come out one day. There’s just nothing new happening although there might be one day.”

All told it was not an easy decision to reach but ultimately Patterson is confident that it is the right one for him in the long run, “I never thought I’d say this but it is nice to put an end to something. To close a book. I thought it would be what I would do forever. That Coliseum was always me and my mind. It was difficult to let that go but it’s nice to have it be a thing that ended in a good way.”

While one door closes, another opens and Patterson has announced his intentions with the release of the phenomenal Fotocrime EP featuring the darkly warped, post-punk epic “Always Hell”. A song that acts as the perfect bridge between the sound of Anxiety’s Kiss and Patterson’s new material under the Fotocrime moniker, “The more post-punk vibe kind of continued because that is what I am most into and feels right. When we were done with everything I felt that that song (“Always Hell”) in particular was a good transition from Coliseum to Fotocrime. I don’t think it is wholly indicative of every sound Fotocrime has made. I don’t think it is exactly what the album material I have finished sounds like but it does kind of set the tone and it’s more of a guitar rock song so ties in with Coliseum so it works well in that way. I think it was a good step.”

While that song might sound like a natural progression, it took a long time for Patterson to achieve what he wanted with the new material, “This is not exactly the sound I started off trying to make. When I started, I was trying to make this music that would become Fotocrime and it just wasn’t working. It was pleasing to the ear and the songs were cool but my voice wasn’t where I wanted it to be,” Patterson reveals, “I threw out a bunch of material I wrote immediately after Coliseum did our last tour. Even before we made the decision to stop I started writing things with the idea that it would be my own thing. It just didn’t work.” Naturally, his approach to writing differed tremendously from working with a band mainly due to the absence of one particular instrument, “The nature of having a drum machine and programmed drums is so different from playing with a real drummer and that alone creates a completely different vibe and sound.”

Understandably, the process of creating music alone rather than as part of a band wasn’t an easy transition, “It was a challenge, for sure to make it feel like something that sounded right and fit the bill while still having the vibe that I wanted.” Notably, synthesizers feature more prominently in the Fotocrime material, and despite becoming more a part of Coliseum’s sound on Anxiety’s Kiss, as Patterson points out, understanding how to get the best from them proved to be the biggest test, “The synthesizer stuff was slowly entering Coliseum songs here and there but to do it a lot more was a challenge and certainly synthesizers are entirely their own thing and you’re kind of learning how they work. You have to learn how to work mechanically before you can make them work musically and that’s a challenge” explains Patterson, “Sometimes you get something and I’m so overwhelmed by it that I don’t know how to make music out of it and you have to learn the basics of getting that machine to make musical sounds. So it’s really exciting and it’s challenging and it’s fun in a way that is unique in a different way to the guitar.”

With the EP acting as the perfect appetizer for more material, when exactly listeners can enjoy the main dish is a little more uncertain, “We are trying to take things as it comes. After the release of the EP we are going to start approaching labels. It could be later this year, it could be next year.  We might release it ourselves. It’s kind of entirely unknown at this moment. Getting the EP out first was the goal.” That said, Patterson reveals that the album is in the can and good to go, “It’s done. It’s completely finished and I’m very proud of it and excited about it. I think that inherently it’s the strongest stuff that I’ve done. It is exciting to have new sounds and to share Fotocrime with the world.” With that in mind, it’s clear that some break ups can be for the best after all.



DS Exclusive: Phil Marcade (The Senders) on The Ramones, Nancy Spungen and the cast of characters on “Punk Avenue”

 

If we were running down a list of the most famous, and infamous, figures from the epicenter of the fledgling punk rock scene in New York City’s Lower East Side in the mid-1970’s, we’d have to scroll pretty deep into the annals to find the name Phillipe Marcade. Marcade fronted the high-energy blues punk band The Senders that were staples at such legendary venues as CBGBs and Max’s Kansas City for the bulk of the late 1970s and early 1980s, and yet neither the man nor the band really got the credit that they deserved outside a twelve-block radius.

Yet Marcade was every bit as entrenched in the 1970s Lower East Side as any of the Ramones or Debbie Harry or Johnny Thunders or Legs McNeil or any of the others whose names come more easily to mind. In fact, to hear one-and-only McNeil tell it in the Foreward to Marcade’s brand-new book, Punk Avenue: Inside The New York City Underground 1972 – 1982, Marcade, “while not a household name, was friends with everyone at CBGB and Max’s Kansas City, and a bona fide member, in good-standing of the New York Punk Rock Scene.”

We caught up with Marcade over the phone from his home in Italy to discuss Punk Avenue and the early NYC punk scene in more detail. Still the purveyor of a heavy Parisian accent, Marcade is equal parts humble and engaging. That he ended up with this particular story to tell is the result of a series of profoundly fascinating circumstances. A native of France, Marcade took a trip to Amsterdam as a teenager that led to a chance encounter with a American traveler named Bruce, which, in turn, eventually resulted in Marcade spending several decades in the Lower East Side, but not before stopovers in Boston, a longer stay in Amsterdam, a hog farm in New Mexico, and…his eighteenth birthday “party” in a Federal Penitentiary in Florence, Arizona. It seems that even in the 1970s, the feds frowned on shipping large quantities of straight hash across state lines…

Marcade might have ended up in the gritty, tough-as-nails Lower East Side in the early 1970s by happy accident, and yet that’s not an entirely bad way to describe the foundation of the scene itself. Given the transient, underground nature of the close-knit, artistic community that found itself magnetically pulled to that neighborhood at that time, it’s not a stretch to say that punk music as we came to know and love it would not — could not — have started anywhere else and come out the same. The thing about living and thriving in the geographical center of a once-in-a-generation social and cultural and artistic movement is that you don’t realize you’re there until you’re gone and the moment has passed. That’s especially true when you’re viewing said geographic center from the wide eyes of an outsider. “I thought it was so magical and exciting,” says Marcade, quickly adding on that he “thought that was probably because I was new in New York, and to everybody else I thought it had always been like that. Only years later did I realize that no, that was a true revolution going on at the time!

While perhaps unaware of the importance of the movement that he was a direct witness to at the time, Marcade did, at least, recognize sheer talent when he saw it. “I think that the first very important band of the movement, without being in the movement really, was Dr. Feelgood in England. They really changed things around.” Once the music moved toward this side of the pond, the cream quickly rose to the top. Says Marcade: “The Ramones and the Heartbreakers and The Cramps were just amazing groups. I’m so glad I got to see them.” And see them, he did. Especially The Ramones, whom he estimates he saw roughly “a hundred times.” When asked of his insider’s perspective on whether or not Ramones were, indeed, worthy of what’s become iconic, almost mythological status, Marcade answers an emphatic yes. “They were just amazing! They were so good. I never went to a Ramones show and left thinking “eh, that wasn’t that great.” They never ceased to amaze me!”

On the other hand, perhaps not as worthy of her iconic, mythologized status was Nancy Spungen. Marcade knew knew Spungen prior to, and in fact had a hand in encouraging, her fateful 1976 move to London. “I always thought Nancy was kind of a sad soul, a lonely girl,” says Marcade with a hint of sadness present in his voice for the first time in our conversation. “Everybody was so fucking mean to her,” a fact that led to her leaving her heroin-addicted cat (“Oh, that fucking cat!”) with Marcade and heading to London, where she’d eventually, infamously, cross stars with the Sex Pistols’ Sid Vicious. “I think a lot of people misjudged her because of the way she carried herself, and because of the whole heroin thing. But knowing her before, she was a sweet girl. She was as much a victim as Sid. She was not that “evil woman” that turned poor Sid Vicious on to drugs… I don’t subscribe to that theory!”

There are no shortage of memorable characters and stories and moments peppered throughout Punk Avenue. Truth be told, the four-page glossary of supporting characters is almost overwhelming (and would probably better serve the reader if it appeared as a reference index to refer back to). That Marcade can recall such a large volume of names and faces and coincidences is no small feat in and of itself. “It’s funny,” says Marcade, “because I seem to have a very, very good visual memory, and when I think back to an anecdote like that, I can really remember it well.” As the project neared completion, he fact-checked and cross-referenced some of the stories and their corresponding dates with some of his surviving companions, though most stories required only little tweaks.

Yet the real noteworthy feat is not simply remembering stories, but weaving them together in a way that is fun and funny and sad and personal and gripping, whether you’re a fan of early the early NYC punk scene or not. Marcade not only does exactly that in expert fashion with Punk Avenue, but he does it in a language that’s not his first. It is perhaps that wide-eyed outsider’s perspective that keeps everything fresh and exciting and new and real to the reader, especially when the stories involve such Herculean figures. Aside, maybe, from Please Kill Me, it’s hands-down the best read about the Who, What, When, Where, Why and, especially, the How of the origins of the punk rock scene as we know it. Punk Avenue is out now, and you can pick it up at Amazon or Barnes & Noble or Target but hopefully at an independent bookseller near you!

Head below to read the text of our full half-hour conversation with Marcade. Aside from what’s touched on above, we cover a lot of ground, including the changes (read as: gentrification) in the Lower East Side in the forty years since the dawn of punk civilization, which bands from the scene got unfortunately overlooked, and which more recent bands have carried the torch most surprisingly. The results may surprise you!



The Offspring’s Noodles hopes new album will be released this year

It’s been approximately five years since The Offspring released their last album Days Go By, but in a recent interview, guitarist Noodles expressed hope that their long-awaited follow-up to that album will be released this year, and revealed that they have tracked down four new songs.

He said, “We’re hoping to get it out this year, yeah! We’ve been working on it. It’s going real slow. [laughs] We’ve been in and out of the studio for a few years now. We want to get some songs out before we did the whole record. Like, “Coming for You,” whenever that was released.”

Noodles was also asked if the new album has a title yet, and his response was, “No, not until we have a bunch of songs that are kind of cohesive. We’re not really far enough along to figure out a vibe or concept. We have about four songs that are done. Not even at the halfway point yet.”