These days it seems like one minute a band can be riding high on the top of the charts and the next they’re gone, but for the past 31 years, Social Distortion have stood their ground in rock music’s mainstream conscience. Straight out of Orange County, California, the band was founded by punk legend Mike Ness in 1979.
Starting as a group of teenage boys based out of Ness’s apartment, within two years they scored their first country-wide tour with left-of-the-dial legends Youth Brigade and Minor Threat. They traveled the country in a rundown school bus, capturing the tour in the documentary Another State of Mind, released in 1984.
Three decades later it is easy to say Social Distortion has come into their own. This year marks the 20th anniversary of Social Distortion’s first Gold record and their first release on a major label. After having gone through almost twenty different members, Mike Ness remains the only original member left, however, one of the most crucial. The band’s new album, Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes, will be released on January 18th, 2011, but fans don’t have to wait so long to hear their new songs.
Their first single on the album, “Machine Gun Blues”, will be released on iTunes November 16th. Social Distortion has also been on tour since early October and continues to announce new tour dates through the end of February 2011. On Saturday at 8pm, Social Distortion is coming to Miami for a show at the Fillmore Miami Beach at 1700 Washington Ave. Fans have been raving about the band’s energy and set-list, which includes some of their greatest song from the past 30 years. Their legitimate impact on rock music and strong fan base is evident through the mere fact that they have already sold out dozens of shows on this current tour and will continue to do so as they add more dates to their tour.
Now back in the studio with Social Distortion after six years, what direction did the band want to take with this new album being released in January?
Mike Ness: It seems like I’ve figured out how to get inspiration from the positive things in life now, too, not just…uh I think it was pretty punk-rock back than to just write about the negative stuff. I want to write light songs, as well as heavy songs and I think that this record has a great balance of both.
What were your main influences when crafting Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes?
MN: Well, I mean, I’m always trying to elaborate on my music library at home. Every couple of years I just go to a record store and drop a couple hundred bucks and when I’m there I’ll grab everything from Duke Ellington to Sheryl Crow, just a wide spectrum. It’s a lot of the same influences, but I definitely pushed it in some extremes. I experimented around with some new grooves on this record. Went back to the late 70s, first wave of punk, even new wave, just some great drum grooves that I felt were like, “Oh I’d forgotten all about this kind of stuff.”
What current bands inspire you?
MN: I, last year, got turned onto Frank Turner, a singer/songwriter from England, who I really think is very talented, you know, Ryan Bingham. There are a handful of guys who I’ve watched who are up and coming. People need to pay attention to these guys. If I can get a chance to bring them with us, which we are and which we have, we continue to do that, we continue to try and find bands and artists that we feel have something to offer our crowd and that we can turn our fans onto.