The Wayward Blog recently conducted an interview with Social Distortion vocalist and guitarist Mike Ness. An excerpt from the chat follows below.
The Wayward Blog: Tell us about the new album.
Mike Ness: Well, we haven't really started recording it yet. We'll start in the studio in January, but we have been playing some of the new songs live in the set. You know, it's been five years since our last studio record so we're really excited.
How's the tour going?
Very good. We've been working all summer. We did Europe for five weeks, Canada for three, now we're hitting up the States.
How are midwestern audiences different here then, say, New York, Europe or L.A.?
I really can't decipher, you know, I've tried and I really can't. There's really more stuff in common then there are differences. More similarities than differences. You know what I mean? You would think there would be differences for different reasons. Like maybe in Spain they're a little more vocal than Germany, but really our fans are pretty consistent across the Gourd.
How does it feel to be in one band for the past 30 years? 30 years, wow. It feels great. We never really thought it would last this long, ya know. I mean, geez, the average lifespan for a band these days is something like three years.
30 years is a long time for anything.
Yeah, exactly. I question all the time how do you do something for 30 years? Ya know, I think you gotta be stubborn and really love what you're doing. It's a combination of the two.
What made you want to start a band?
Because I love music so much, and I didn't just want to listen to it - I wanted to play it too.
There is an obvious vein of country and rockabilly running through your music. Why such a connection to roots music?
After I got tired of all the British stuff - it was good in the late '70s, early '80s, but by the mid-'80s, there wasn't really much happening, so I felt a real need to grab ahold of my American roots. You know, I saw a connection between early Americana music - whether it be jazz or blues or folk music, rockabilly, primitive rock and roll, bluegrass - I saw a connection from that directly to punk. It was working-class music, talking about working-class issues, the honesty of it and just the raw simplicity of it. Talk about rebellious music. I mean, please!
You have a new drummer in the band, Atom Willard, formerly of Rocket from the Crypt. What does he bring that's different?
Well, he's a little younger, so he brings a new energy to it, and I like him because he's not so much a technical drummer as he is a hard hitter. He's less controlled, which I like. I had drummers that had the finesse, and I love that ,but I also like a good cross between the two. A little bit of finesse and a little bit of caveman. That's what drums are made for, they're made to be beat on.
What do your kids think of your music?
My boys love it. They've grown up with it, they've grown up with reggae, they've grown up with all kinds of music. You know, they like gangster rap, they like punk rock, reggae. I turned my older son on to Johnny Thunders' L.A.M.F. the other day, and now that's his new favorite record.
What bands that are out now do you think carry on the spirit of punk rock?
I think there's several, you just have to look. Sometimes you have to look hard. I always lean more to the bands that are breaking new ground other than the ones that are following suit. I love the White Stripes, the Hives. Hell, I even like the Killers. I think that there is good stuff out there, you just have to look for it, ya know?
What's your favorite album that you've worked on?
Usually the one I haven't done yet. I went up to L.A. to look at the studio that the Foo Fighters own, and I just started to get really psyched up for the new record. It's been a long time - five years. I'm really going into this record with a new outlook. I really want this record to be unique but also hold the signature Social D. element. It's gonna be a good record. I can feel it.
How much of your past struggles have made there way into you music?
Well, my past is my most valuable asset for songwriting, of course, but I like to write fictionally and non-fictionally. Like the song "1945" is a song about wondering what it felt like to be in the shoes of the guy that dropped the bomb on Hiroshima, ya know. Obviously like in "99 to Life" I didn't really kill my girlfriend. [chuckles] But you know, I do write autobiographically, primarily, and about the struggles I went through as a kid, as a young adult and that I continue to go through.
I mean, I don't have it licked yet, life is still a challenge and presents itself with new challenges once you get past other ones, so there's always plenty to write about.
Read the the rest of the interview from The Wayward Blog.