We've been keeping a fairly light show schedule this year, which I'll explain below. Meanwhile here's a rundown of the recent gigs:
SPARTANBURG - March 17
Back at Ground Zero again. I've come to enjoy playing here, the vibe is always great. We got paired on a bill with South Carolina punk rock stalwarts the Independents. They've been around for years, fronted by Evil Presley and anchored by guitarist Willy B. They're a mix of Misfits style pop-punk fused with a heavy ska influence. I'm surprised to see my old pal Jamie Jones working merch for them. She once played bass in the Beatdowns long ago. Now her boyfriend is the bassist for the Independents. I think she was only 17 when I first met her. It's cool to see she never really "grew out of it", unlike so many other kids from her era.
The opening band is from Tampa, Florida. They are called the Scurvy and are led by Brandon Ferguson. Brandon also roadies for older punk groups like Sham 69 and the Murder Junkies. Apparently they had a few shows strung together including this one, but they were all cancelled. So they simply drove all the way up from Tampa for this one show. I think it was worth their while; they get a positive response from the crowd.
A lot of old friends and familiar faces have turned up. A fan from Pittsburgh named Herb Gailey altered his vacation plans to come to the show. I'm always impressed when fans of the band come from great distances or make special arrangements to catch a show. Darron Hanby is here, too. He's been making all our area shows here lately, from Spartanburg to Charlotte to Hickory. It's cool to have such a dedicated following.
We play before the Independents. My son Cody has come along on this one again. He helps me set up. The club PA has changed somewhat. The monitors have been hung from the ceiling, an unusual but practical approach. We do a quick line check and gather to the side. Jeff has made the club play a Cher song before we go onstage.We haven't played in several months so I can't help but feel a bit rusty. I'm glad we are on "home turf", so to speak. I put the set together. It is mostly comprised of new material from"WE'RE # ONE" and "OBSTINATE". I wasn't too sure how playing mostly new stuff would go over, but it all works. Pretty soon we are powering thru the encore.
After the set we take some group photos and I catch some of the Independents set. We talk a little with Brandon from The Scurvy about maybe trying to put together something for a Florida run somewhere down the line. We'll see. It would be cool trip. After that we load up and hit the highway home. Always a good time at Ground Zero!
WILMINGTON - April 7
We rode down to Wilmington in a cold rain. Hard to believe it's spring. I slept a good bit of the way. I wake up amid a discussion of how divisive the climate of social media has become. Although politically we disagree even among ourselves, we all agree the vitriol and contempt people hurl from the safety of their Facebook accounts is overwrought. The self-sanctimonious virtue signaling is as equally annoying and hypocritical. We aren't perfect nor do we pretend to be. Ultimately all of the chaos serves as grist for the mill. With this band anything and everything is fair game. And more often than not, our satire gets taken at face value and our seriousness gets dismissed as a joke. Of course, we ain't gonna spell it our for anyone. Let 'em wonder. Its all just static to me.
We arrive in town late in the afternoon. Despite the gloomy weather John 'The Baptist' Bridges has invited us to his place for grub. John is the man behind Mystery School Records. The tiny label is responsible for a voluminous amount of releases representing a wide array of music from the fringe. He's been responsible for issuing our last few releases in CD form. He and his wife always show us incredible hospitality when we visit, opening their home for us to eat, kick back and relax. He's proven to be one of the best friends this band has, and we are fortunate to have quite a few.
The club is called Reggie's. This is our third or fourth time here. We are headlining an all day event put together by a local fanzine called Gray Matterz. There are artists and comedians in addition to a large number of bands representing a wide variety of styles. My initial thought is that it will be a clumsily thrown together DIY affair. No matter how well the intentions, these events are usually clusterfucks. However Im very pleasantly surprised to find this one is pretty well organized. Other than the unavoidable rain and mud of the parking lot, everything runs smoothly and according to schedule. The Gray Matterz folks have done great work with a monster job.
We take the stage right at our scheduled time. We open the set with "Fight Like Apes", only the second time we've played it live. The first time we tried it was about two years ago. We didn't feel very good about it then, figuring we would revisit it later. It was only recently we decided to try it out again. It came together much better than previously and when we launched our set with it this time, it clicked. The rest of the set was a little more varied than the one in Spartanburg, crosshatching familiar older tunes with the newer stuff we've been playing. We crush it pretty handily before returning for an encore of "Death Train Coming" and "Fuck All Y'all".
We make it out of Wilmigton in good time. Usually we hit a police checkpoint on the way out, but this time the road is free and clear. We encounter sleet and snow along the way but it doesn't slow us down.
Few things can...
Ok so... whats been happening? Seems like things have been awful quiet as of late, doesn't it? Why the light schedule? Well, we've actually been pretty busy. We are neck-deep in some recording projects including the early stages of writing the next full length album. Also, as I write this Mystery School records is shipping "WE'RE # ONE" on CD. It includes some singles tracks as a bonus. We've also got a deluxe 12" reissue of EP ROYALTY that will feature some unreleased outtakes from the HONOUR AMONG THIEVES album as well.
We do have a few more shows on the horizon, including Durham NC on June 16 and a return to Philadelphia on June 30. And of course the big 35th Anniversary Show in the fall... and after that.... we shall see.
But it might be pretty big news...