Your next brush with great-Ness!
I think you can place most bands in three categories: good, bad and important. I think Mike Ness and Social Distortion comfortably fits into the good and important category. Coming this Saturday night to the Rave and presented us FM 102/1 with almost thirty years behind it’s name Social Distortion will take the stage in Milwaukee again.
Although Mike Ness is the only original member left it doesn’t lessen the band, it’s sound, where it’s been and where it’s going. As far as it’s sound, Social Distortion has as much street cred in the punk community as it does a straight up rock band (look to Mike Ness’ 1999 solo album Cheating At Solitaire for a guest appearance on the song “Misery Loves Company” by Bruce Springsteen, a fan and friend of Ness’). As to where Social Distortion has been, as the bands album title states “Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell” is pretty accurate. For proof of this check out the 2004 DVD Another State of Mind which follows a very young Social Distortion along with Youth Brigade and Minor Threat (two very influential bands in the early hardcore punk movement the latter lead by Ian MacKaye later turned into Fugazi) on their 1982 tour and gives you some insight into the early hardcore movement as well as a 20 year old Mike Ness in what can only be described as his troubled times as far as drugs go (he was hospitalized numerous times for addiction to heroin which he kicked in the late 80’s).
As to the future of SD, besides adding two weeks on to their existing tour, they are going to return to the studio after the tour and according to reviews they are trying out some new songs (http://www.socialdistortion.com/tours/reviews/).
If you’ve never heard Social Distortion (where have you been), you actually may have and not even known it. The song “Story of My Life” has been used in the films Reality Bites (’94), Orange County (’00), Life or Something Like It (’02) and most recently the Vince Vaughn/Jennifer Aniston movie The Break Up. But if ever a band was able to take someone else’s song and make it their own it is Social Distortion. From Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” (a version Cash himself was said to be very fond of ), The Clash’s “Death or Glory”, The Rolling Stone’s “Under My Thumb” or any of the Hank Williams Sr. songs they visit. Categorically speaking though, SD is at their best when they’re seemingly feeling their worst. Songs like “Bad Luck”, “Prison Bound”, “I Was Wrong” are a necessity for any mixed tape….uhh, CD….wait, iTunes Playlist (as previously stated they’ve been around for almost three decades, that’s a lot of different media to get through!).
Ultimately, the glue that holds Social Distortion together is it’s lead singer Mike Ness. I will sound fanboyish here but honestly, they don’t come any tougher than him. Besides being an incredible singer and guitarist (including two solo albums on top of the 6 Social Distortion studio albums) he also boxes in his spare time and raises two kids with his wife yet will probably will not ever make the cover of Men’s Journal. However, the cover of Car and Driver is a possibility. His side project is building hot rods (both vintage cars and motorcycles, to see more check out his site: www.blackkatkustoms.com). Ness has an appreciation for all things vintage in vehicles, instruments and style. Last 4th of July Social Distortion played the FM 102/1, US Cellular, Leinenkugels stage at Summerfest and through much begging, some forcing and sneaking around I got to bring them on stage. So sitting backstage watching Mike Ness pace back and forth I decided to interrupt his pacing and thank him for coming and get his take on Milwaukee. He said “Milwaukee has my two favorite things: Harley Davidson and Allen Edmond shoes.”. Now Harleys would seem like a logical choice for a guys whose spare time is spent cutting and welding cars and choppers but I guess when Kramp and I interview a lot of bands the answer is usually “Harleys and Miller!”. Realizing Ness no longer drinks I guess the shoe thing just caught me off guard. What it did do is give me one great idea, that being the Mike Ness/Milwaukee Economic Stimulus…Advertising…..plan (in my head it was much clearer, and sensible).
Think of the Allen Edmond’s Mike Ness collection of shoes!!! Opening a local product to a whole new (and younger) demographic nationally! Michael Jordan hasn’t played in years and his shoes are still flying off the shelf, think about it?! Also, if Eddie Bauer can have it’s own line of Ford Explorers why can’t Social Distortion have a line of Harleys (imaging that Social D skeleton on a tank, I’m already working on the gas cap!).
Social Distortion great for music, great for Milwaukee! See you at the show.