The Specials @ Nokia Theater, Los Angeles, March 18, 2013

By Jon Pebsworth

The night after St. Patrick’s Day is a tuff night for a show. Add in the fact that it’s a Monday makes it even harder. But, if there is one band that can get me out on a night like that its The Specials. I have been a fan since I was in Sixth grade. Seems like it was yesterday when I would wear button down shirts like them and dress like them and act like them running around the house driving everyone crazy!

There was an older kid in my neighborhood that rode a Vespa and wore a trench coat with patches on it. He wore cuffed jeans and penny loafers, plaid Fred Perry shirts and Pork Pie hats. He was the coolest guy I ever saw. I think his name was Jeff. I wonder if he knows that his influence on me has lasted a lifetime. I remember the patches on his jacket were the Mod symbol, The English Beat, The Jam and The Specials. He also had an impressive collection of buttons which I never got to see since I never got close enough to him. I never even talked to him. He was the cool older kid and was too busy being rad to talk to Sixth graders.

Anyway, I decided that he was onto something and I wanted in on that shit! I started off my mission to be like Jeff by going to the Wherehouse Record store at the Eagle Rock Plaza and asking for The Specials album. They showed me an album by 38 Special and I thought, no way would Jeff listen to this. I tried explaining to the clerk about Jeff with the buttons and patches and stuff. He finally understood and pulled out an album by Madness. It was the “One Step Beyond” album with the guys on the cover doing the synchronized ska dance that was mimicked in Breakfast Club. My immediate reaction was YES! THAT’S IT! Those dudes look just like him. That was the best moment of my life, the turning point that lead to what I would be and do now and forever! I didn’t know that at the time. I just wanted my mom to pay for it and get me home to the record player! That album led me to all the other great Two-Tone era stuff and eventually to traditional ska and reggae. I got into punk rock later. But, when it came to ska, The Specials were and are still my favorite.

So with the remains of green beer and whiskey still lingering in my body we set out for Nokia just about two weeks ago now. We got there just in time for the first song! It was an immediate rush of energy for me! There was Terry Hall in the flesh! They had the drummer that was in Special AKA and the original bass player Horace Panter (who wrote that book Ska’d for Life), both original guitarists, Lynval and Roddy, and of course Terry Hall. Unfortunately Neville Staples wasn’t there. I heard he was sick and couldn’t do the tour. Lynval sang all his parts and sounded great, although I missed Neville’s stage presence. The rest of the band was great too. Great keyboard player and horn players did their parts well and looked cool.

My view from the Balcony!
My view from the Balcony!

The banner in the background was the classic logo in black and white. Perfect! That’s the only frill they needed. The songs are what make The Specials a truly timeless and untouched band that will go down in history as one of the greatest! Nite Club, Ghost town, It’s Up To You, Concrete Jungle, Too Hot, Do The Dog and of course Toots classic Monkey Man (which I got to see Toots play a week later at House of Blues Hollywood).

Lynval said from stage the night of the Nokia show that this was only their second time in L.A. in the past 30 years. Assuming he was referring to the show at The Palace in ’96 as the first, I was there too! Now the Palace is called the Avalon.

In 1996 The Specials did a reunion tour in the states. This tour didn’t include Terry Hall or Jerry Dammers but it was still billed as The Specials and included the other founding members. I had a front row seat to 3 weeks of this tour since my band; Buck-O-Nine was asked to be the supporting act starting in Minneapolis. The Suicide Machines were support for the other half of the tour.

Being a fan of The Specials is still as important to me as it was in Sixth grade. I will listen to those albums in whatever format the future brings and will always give the vinyl versions their fair amount of play. I still have both albums in mint condition along with all the others I bought back then from the dude at The Wherehouse. Wait, where? At the Wherehouse! Hahaha! Too Much Too Young!

Kevin Seconds Interview 3/19/13

Kevin Seconds Interview 3/19/13:
By Jon Pebsworth

Jon: I’ve been fortunate enough to have met you and seen you play many times over the years. One of my first punk shows was 7Seconds at Fenders Ballroom in Long Beach around 1987. It was an epic night for me… Do recall those days? It was many years after 7Seconds started but still fairly early in your long career; do you by any chance remember that show? Or do you remember the days of Fenders and Goldenvoice?

Kev: I remember those Fender’s shows like they happened last week. We played there many times and despite some of the crazy violent shit that took place there and back then, i’ll always have a warm spot in my heart for that place and those gigs. up until playing those Goldenvoice shows, we had never played for more than 200-300 people when all of a sudden, there we were in L.A. playing in front 3,500, 4,500 kids. It was nuts but it rules.

Jon: I met you officially during my years at SideOneDummy. We worked together on the artwork and release of “Take It Back, Take It On, Take It Over.” I love that album. I remember really enjoying talking to you on the phone and working on this record with you. What are your memories of this era of your band? I would consider this your “Warped Tour” era. I remember you guys playing Warped Tour in the 90’s and starting with SideOne around that time. How was that experience for you and the guys?

Kev: It was a sort of re-birth for us, to be honest. We had still been playing and touring a lot but we hadn’t done a record in a few years and we had no idea whether people would still care or not. We had been with a few labels but didn’t really have a label home by 1997, 98 and no one seemed particularly interested in us. We thought about starting up our own label which I STILL think would have ben a good idea but there was a lot of apprehension based on all the craziness surrounding my old label Positive Force so when Joe and Bill approached us about doing something on Side One Dummy, the timing was perfect. We had known Joe for years and liked him a lot and at the time, the label was just small enough but definitely on the rise, to make sense for us.

As for the Warped Tour, we had a blast. We got to play every day with some of or favorite bands (Bouncing Souls, H2O, Lunachicks), had some great shows sharing the stage with the likes of Avail and Agnostic Front, and we loved the community aspect of the tour itself. That said, by the time the tour ended, we were beyond thrilled to be jumping back into our van and playing clubs again.

Jon: I have recently seen you play solo a few times. I saw you in Fullerton at the Slide Bar where your wife sang some amazing backups and Kepi played drums. I love the solo stuff you have done on Asian Man Records and listened to the CD you gave me close to 50 times now with my girlfriend, who loves you. I remember thinking during your set that night about the 7Seconds lyric, “I’m gonna stay young until the day I die” and thinking what an awesome moment this is… Kevin is the real deal and he was for real when he sang that lyric both then and now! It was and is very inspiring to me. Can you tell me a little about your motivation now and what inspired you to continue on with music?

Kev: In all honesty, and as cliche as it may sound, without music running through me, I have no idea who I’d be or where I’d be in my life. It’s that one thing that I have always felt I was decent at and it has filled so many holes and voids in my 50-plus years on this planet and I’m always deep in it. I want to be. I HAVE to be. But as I get older, it has become harder and harder for 7Seconds to get out and tour like we used to and yet, I STILL LOVE TOURING! hahaha. It’s been a part of me for 30-some years. What the hell else am I going to do at this point that brings me this much happiness?

Jon: Can you tell me about how your solo records came to be and how they came to be on Asian Man? I am friends with Mike Park and have mad respect for him as I’m sure you do. Did he approach you about doing these records or did you goto him? What is the recording process for a Kevin Seconds solo album?

Kev: I’ve known Mike for probably 20 years now and have always loved and respected him as a person. Back in the late 90’s, 7Seconds went out on the road with Skankin’ Pickle and we had the time of our lives. We just REALLY hit it off with those guys. From then on, Mike and I stayed in touch, mostly on the Internet, and sometime in 2001, he played at the True Love, Allyson and I’s old coffeehouse and Matt Skiba came up from the Bay Area with him. That was the first time I had met Matt and I guess on the ride back to the bay that night, the two of them discussed the idea of Matt and I doing a split album together. I loved the idea. I wasn’t super familiar with Alkaline Trio at that time but I had heard some demos or saw some live videos of Matt playing solo and I loved what he did. Mike released the record on Asian Man and as far as I know, it has done really well. Shortly after that, I asked Mike if he would be interested in releasing a solo album of mine and he he was down. But I have to say, it’s been nothing but pure joy working with Mike and making records for Asian Man. I’ve had some shitty experiences with other labels, especially regarding my solo output, and Mike has always been wonderful to work with. As you know Jon, he’s the real deal. I love the guy!

Jon: Can you tell me really quick about the first solo record and what it took for you as a musician to get into that mode?

Kev: I started playing solo shows, just me and an acoustic guitar in 1989 or so. I was living on and off with my ex-girlfriend in NYC and she bought me an acoustic guitar and somehow, I got the balls to busk on a few street corners and even in the subways there for a couple of week. I didn’t do it as often as I would have liked and I never really got a feel for the system or etiquette of busking down there but it did allow me to grow some confidence, playing on an acoustic guitar in front of people and I ended up making about 70 bucks total…hahaha. Randy Now at City Gardens in Trenton, New Jersey offered me a solo slot, opening for Dramarama, and I just went for it. It was pretty bad but it got the ball rolling for me. A few weeks later, he asked me to open for Ween there and it just has never really stopped since.

But I didn’t get the courage up to release a true solo record until around 1997 when I did the Stoudamire album on Cargo Records. I went in and recorded a lot of the instruments myself. I had Allyson sing on some songs and my friends Brent Spain and Chris Carnahan play drums and bass, respectively, and I just made a fun little acoustic-based folk-pop record that very few people bought…hahaha.

Jon: When 7Seconds first started, what was the punk scene like? I have an early 7” of yours on blue vinyl and you looked so cool with the war paint under your eyes and me and my friends were so into the whole “California” punk sound with melodies and such. You were there and were a major part of what became such a memorable sound to this day. How do you look back on those days and did you have any idea you would come to influence so many bands that came after you? Even bands on the east coast like H2O have acknowledged your band as being a major influence.

Kev: I’ve loved every single second of being in 7Seconds. Even when band members left, or when all the stupid violent shit was going on at our shows, it has all made a lasting impact on my life and has shaped me into the human that I am today, good and bad. It’s an honor to still be asked to play shows, especially when bands we love ask us to play with them. How can you not love that? But the old days, as tough and harrowing as they often were, were amazing. I wasn’t even sure I was going to survive them, to be honest. I just rolled with it and tried staying true to what was important to me, to us.

Jon: Clearly you are a lifelong hero in punk rock and also have a genuine love for the music and lyrics you write weather they are you and an acoustic guitar or with 7Seconds. Do you feel satisfied and proud of your accomplishments? What do you have in store for the future? Can we hope to see another 7Seconds album? Will there be more solo stuff? Do you have any other projects in the works?

Kev: I suppose that pride is what I feel when I think back on all the records and tours and shows and friends we’ve managed to make over the past 33 years. I just love that, for the most part, I’ve gotten to do so many of the things that I always wanted to do as a kid and have managed to even make a living doing it. I’ve met amazing people and have seen places I would have never seen had I not been in this band. I never forget that. I can’t and I don’t want to. I can’t really think of any true regrets I have regarding my time with 7Seconds. Maybe I would have had us record albums a little differently. Maybe I wouldn’t have had us take such long breaks in between records and tours like we have. Maybe I wouldn’t have slept with strange punk rock girls in cities here and there…hahaha. But seriously, it’s been an amazing run.

As for future stuff, yes, there are many plans in the works for both me and for 7Seconds. The band has an album’s worth of new songs that we’ve been working on and fine-tuning and hoping to get released sometime in 2013. It has to happen. It’s driving us crazy and we’d like to hit the road with new material to play for people. I don’t even care that there’s a REALLY great chance that zero percent of people out there want to hear a new 7Seconds record. We’re going to do one, anyway.

I’m always writing and working on new solo tunes and touring like a madman. I have a shitload of brand new songs I wrote and have recorded in my trusty green Ford Econoline van and would like to see that come out by summer of this year. I’ve also got a handful of 7 inch vinyl projects I’m working, for a couple of different smaller labels. I’m very excited about that.

Jon: Lastly, where can we see you next? I know you do a lot of touring still. You play tours where you play in peoples’ living rooms! How is that going and can you play at my place in North Hollywood on the next trip?

Kev: I’ve got a few things coming up in the next couple of months, West Coast stuff mostly. I’m even doing a few shows on the acoustic stage at this year’s Warped Tour.

7Seconds has a club show at Punk Rock Bowling in May and then we go to Europe in July for a couple of weeks. Our main goal though is NEW FUCKING ALBUM. Once we get that finished, we’ll do as much touring as 3 40 year olds and 1 50 year old can do.

For more info and tour dates’ goto:
www.kevinseconds.com

Black Flag & Flag reunions!

By Jon Pebsworth

This is a tuff one! I’m not sure how to feel or what to think!?! I guess the good news is there will be some great shows coming soon by some classic punk rockers!

My first exposure to Black Flag was watching “The Decline of the Western Civilization” documentary. I first saw it in about 1987 on a VHS tape that one of my friends recorded from somewhere. I must’ve watched that movie along with another VHS tape of “Another State of Mind” probably 200 times at my first apartment in San Diego. I knew at the time, the now classic documentary was done much earlier than when I saw it but, that’s when I saw it.



Photo by Bev Davies

Anyway, my favorite part of that movie was the Black Flag part. At that time it was Greg Ginn on guitar, Chuck Dukowski on bass, Ron Reyes singing and (I think) Robo playing drums. Been awhile since I saw it. My memory was that Ron Reyes was fuckin awesome and was the perfect frontman! Also, Greg Ginn’s see thru guitar was killer and Chuck gave some trippy interviews talking about LSD trips and dissecting rats.

I was just getting into punk rock at that time thru my friend’s older brother. He made us cassette tapes with bands like Dead Kennedys, G.B.H., Descendents, D.I., Sex Pistols, 7Seconds and Agent Orange. Given, this was years after the real hay day of this stuff but long before Green Day.

I have seen Black Flag reunions before. The first was at the Hollywood Palladium awhile back (maybe around 2004?). I went with a friend and remember it being a benefit for cats. I thought that was really weird but, whatever works. It was Black Flag and the place was packed. Everyone I knew in Hollywood was there! It was Greg Ginn and Dez for the most part. Pretty cool but, not what I had hoped for. The singer/skater Mike Vallely sang most of the show. He did a killer job and he is one of my favorite skaters and his band is really good. People in town were saying that Keith Morris was gonna sing and some people said Rollins was gonna sing. It’s funny that most people think of Rollins as the one and only singer of Black Flag. Although I thought Henry was a rad singer in Black Flag but he wasn’t my favorite.

I was also at the 30 year anniversary of Goldenvoice and got to the see the three song set from Black Flag. It was pretty cool. Keith Morris was singing, Bill Stevenson was on drums, Chuck was playing bass and Stephen from Descendents was playing guitar. It was a “secret” appearance but, all my friends knew about it. It was at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, which is where I saw a lot of shows in High School. I still think it could’ve been better. I heard they only had time to practice at sound check.

The latest incarnation of the band comes in two parts. One is called “Black Flag” featuring Greg Ginn and Ron Reyes. The other is called “Flag” and features Keith Morris, Bill Stevenson, Chuck Dukowski and Stephen (Descendents). Both are pretty cool considering Black Flag’s history.
But for me, like most bands, the first incarnation you hear, is the best! With that said, my favorite Black Flag is Ron, Ginn, Chuck and (I think) Robo. I can still see and hear the three songs they did on Decline…

So, I don’t know about these reunions. I guess I’ll see both since my favorite line up is split. I wish they would combine efforts and do it together. No idea of what happened or why they are at odds. Not my business. Either way, all these guys are legends and rock! I Love Circle Jerks, Descendents and even Crash Band, Crunch Pop (Remember them?) and I actually still listen to the Decline soundtrack. It has awesome tunes from FEAR, Circle Jerks, Germs, X and (whatever happened to) Catholic Discipline?

“Ok, this next song is for the LAPD, we got arrested the other night at Blackies for playing ‘punk rock music’. They called us ‘nuisance in public’ or something like that. Anyway, they put us in jail and this song’s called ‘Revenge’ and it’s for them..!”

“ATTENTION: (SHUT UP) Please be advised that by entry upon these premises, that you are consenting to being photographed (which means they’re gonna take photos of your ugly faces right?), and having your (ugly) likeness used in a motion pictures, and for other purposes… (and at the bottom it says) Thank you! (and you can tell them to FUCK OFF!) It’s Black Flag!!!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W0NEaoC19us&list=PL8D21811260FB852D

P.S. Jealous Again Rules!

BAD RELIGION “TRUE NORTH” ALBUM REVIEW

BAD RELIGION
“TRUE NORTH”
By Jon Pebsworth

Well slap me silly, the new BAD RELIGION is fucking awesome! I have it on endless loop! I have been a fan for most of my life but gotta say this new one is one of their best! BR always puts out good records but the bar they set for themselves with SUFFER, NO CONTROL & AGAINST THE GRAIN is the only way to gauge anything after. Bad Religion’s worst album would be a dream come true for most punk bands out there. It’s not even fair to use the word “worst.” I don’t even know which album that would be.

I first heard TRUE NORTH on a drive down to San Diego with my buddy Andy. He was talking it up and comparing it to SUFFER etc. Next thing I know, BAM! Every song is on point. TRUE NORTH has it all… Great songs and lyrics, the drum beats they pretty much started and killer guitar riffs and solos. TRUE NORTH is ALSO the best use of Brian Baker since he has been in the band. Great guitar player. The backing vocals are in classic form too. I love that there is a song called, “FUCK YOU.”

“Dharma and the Bomb” is one of my favorites. Its classic BR mixed with a new flavor. The guitar riff is awesome. This is the song that made me think about how rad Brian Baker is. I also love the way Greg sings this one. His vocals on “Hello Cruel World” are really unique. It feels like he raised his own bar on this album. After 30 years a lot of guys lose their original vibe that made them great and stop inventing new sounds with their voices. Great work here Greg! This reminds me why I loved and still love BAD RELIGION.

“Robin Hood in Reverse” is great too! I love the Sham 69 lyric nod and referencing them by say “there is a brand new Sham today.” Pretty cool. I couldn’t be happier to have this album in my collection. It’s really inspiring to have a band from my youth still cranking out quality shit. I also love that the core original band is still there. Hetson, Jay, Brett, Graffin and add Brian Baker from Minor Threat! Not to mention Brooks is the best BR drummer! Great work guys, see you at the next show!

Hi, my name is Jon Pebsworth, my friends call me Pebs…

HALF DREAMS/CLASSIC PUNK HELLO!
By Jon Pebsworth

I woke up this morning still half way in a dream. It was really cool. I do that a lot. I will be awake and thinking about the dream I just had and still asleep enough to finish the dream. I guess dreams really are an extension of your imagination. I can see in that moment where I think the dream should go and take it there as I head back to sleep. Good thing I don’t have a day job at the moment or I’d have to get up and not be able to finish this one.

It was somewhere around the time I was in High School or maybe the first year or two after. I was freaking out over the fact my friend was telling me all this stuff that had happened and what I had missed when I was in the hospital. I didn’t even know I was in the hospital until he said that. I thought I was just sick and hungover and forgot some stuff. Nope. He says I was in the hospital for 10 months. That’s when I woke up.

I thought this dream rules and I want to finish it with something cool. So, me and the dude from that paramedic show in the Seventies went to the Warped Tour and hung out in the beer garden watching all the old punk bands on the “Old School” stage. I think it was FEAR playing but Stan Lee from the Dickies was playing guitar and Steve Soto from Adolescents was playing bass. Lee Ving’s voice was so good that day! It’s always good though so I wasn’t surprised. Then Angelo Moore came out and starting doing the sax part on New York’s alright (if you like saxaphones). I think we were in San Diego.

I decided to get up when I remembered my friend Jonas asked me to write some stuff for his new website, Classic Punk. This is something we have been talking about for awhile and it’s finally time to do it! I grew up in L.A. in the 70’s and 80’s and moved to San Diego the day after graduating High School to goto junior college and be roommates with my friend Pat who going to San Diego state. In those teenage years and early 20’s I was into one thing, Punk Rock music. It is my favorite thing. Not just my favorite type of music but my favorite thing.

Going to shows was and is the best thing in life. Everything revolved around that. There was a record store we went to after school called Neil’s Records in Glendale. It was within walking distance of our High School. I bought a lot of my record collection there. We also had a band that played shows and recorded demo tapes. It was all punk rock all the time. Shows, record stores, band practice and writing lyrics in school was the life of Pebs. Still is in a lot of ways. Just saw Ill Repute a couple weeks ago!

Classic Punk is a great idea and I’m looking forward to being a part of it. I also get to work with one of my best friends talking about one of my favorite things. Look for my contributions to this site in the weeks and months to come! I will be doing album reviews, show reviews, interviews and writing about half dreams and classic Punk stuff from my little man cave in North Hollywood.

How does that sound right about now?? Ahhhhaahheee!

China White Guitarist Seeks Funds For Emergency Liver Transplant

This is the second time in two months that a legend of hardcore punk has reached out to the community for help. Sadly, we just learned that China White Guitarist Frank Ruffino is seeking donations for an emergency liver transplant. We just donated to the cause via Frank’s FundRazr.com account which can be found here:

Help save Frank’s life and get a liver transplant!

If you have a few bucks to spare, it would greatly help Frank’s family.

If you recall, last month there was a benefit show for Mike Atta, guitarist for what some consider the first-ever hardcore band, The Middle Class. While the benefit was successful in helping fund some of Mike’s treatment, you can still help him out here:

Help Mike Atta battle cancer!

Here is the post where we first learned of Mike’s situation

China White:

Middle Class