Social Distortion's Jonny Two Bags: "I Don't Know What Else I Would Be Doing If I Wasn't Playing Music."
There have been some big gaps between Social Distortion album releases. Why have you avoided the new-album-every-two-years routine?
It's not something we've ever done intentionally, but we just do a record when we feel it's time to do a record. Of course, we always start talking about it long before we do, but it just happens that way. I don't know if we're going to get a record out early next year or not, that's kind of what we're talking about. We probably would like to not put five years in between these two records, but we'll see what happens. Like I said, it's not intentional, and it's weird because I think that that's kind of worked out in a good way for us because the bands that do put a record out every couple of years . . . after a while, there's so many records. I would have to say that for some of my favorite artists of all, there's four, five, or six records that I really like. Maybe eight. Elvis Costello's got a bunch of great records.
Yet he has so many overall.
You know what I'm saying. I don't know that it's necessary to do that, really.
How's your new album coming along?
It's good. It's got some new stuff and some kind of new-old stuff that we've been playing live. A couple of tracks that Mike [Ness] had from years back that we've been doing in our set recently that may or may not make it on to the next record.
It's kind of the usual thing for us, where we'll get some ideas and we'll just throw them in the set and see how it goes. Social D's always been known for playing songs live before they're recorded. That hasn't changed. We've been kind of doing the same thing. We do that, and then when it comes time to really get in the studio, that's when we go through and focus in on what is going to make the record or not. [We] do demos and see what stuff is turning out better in the studio or not. It's been my experience a lot of times that songs which seemed to be really cool live didn't work out so great recorded [laughs].
I'm guessing the song The Vandals wrote about you was all in good fun since Josh Freese drummed on your last album.
That just goes back so long ago. When I was in my late teens/early 20s, it was weird. There were some of us that went in the direction of roots music. Social D/Cadillac Tramps, bands like that [played] blues/country/Americana stuff. We started integrating that into our sound, and then there were other people from our scene that didn't. The Vandals didn't go in that direction, obviously, and at the time, they were kind of goofing around with hip-hop stuff.
Dave Quackenbush would always try to clown me about, "You can't be a bluesman, you're a punk rock dude from Orange County." You know, whatever. It was basically kind of an inside/long-running joke between us. When they recorded that, I was living in Long Beach with my girlfriend, and our roommate Andrea worked at Nitro Records. I didn't even know that song existed until it was on the record. She came home one day from work and she had the advance record. She said, "Check this out," and I was completely surprised, but I wasn't the only one.
There's a song on there about Randy Bradbury, the bass player from Pennywise, there's a song on there on that same record about our old friend Chris [Lagerborg, drummer] who passed away. He played in the Vandals for awhile, he was the first Cadillac Tramps drummer. He played with Jack Grisham and Joykiller, he just played in a bunch of bands. He was a really great drummer and one of our oldest friends. That record featured songs about a bunch of our friends.
At least it was nicer than something like "Aging Orange."
Oh, God, yeah [laughs].
Were you guys friends before it came out?
Yeah, we were totally friends. We hung out all the time.
So, I'm sure you got a kick out of it more than being offended.
Oh, yeah, I was never offended. I was definitely shocked when I heard it because I didn't see it coming at all. It fucking blindsided me, but I wasn't mad about it or anything.
What does this year have in store for Social Distortion?
After we're finished with this run of shows, we're going to take some time off because we've been on the road for about two years straight. We're just going to take some time off, and everybody's probably going to go live their lives for a while [laughs]. Maybe do different music stuff. Just get away from the SD thing for a while.