Social Distortion

Social Distortion

Here's how you know you've made it in the music business: You've stayed strong for three decades on your own terms, on your own time, by your own rules, and over that time your influence has only grown. Each of your albums has been stronger than your last. You've been brought onstage by Bruce Springsteen, because he wanted to play one of your songs. You've seen high times and low ones, good days and tragic days, but every night you give 100%, and every morning you wake up still swinging.
This is the short version of the Social Distortion bio — the long version could be a 10-part mini-series. But over the past 30 years, the punk godfathers in the band have all but trademarked their sound, a brand of hard rockabilly/punk that's cut with the melodic, road-tested lyrics of frontman Mike Ness. Their searing guitars and a locomotive rhythm section sound as alive today as they did in '82, as do Ness' hard-luck tales of love, loss and lessons learned. "The most common thing I hear is, 'Man, your music got me through some hard times,'" Ness says. "And I just say, 'Me too.'"
Hard Times And Nursery Rhymes (produced, for the first time, by Ness himself) is the band's first record since 2004, but the break hasn't changed them much. It maintains Social Distortion's key components — an all-but-perfected mix of punk, bluesy rock n' roll and outlaw country — but it also finds them stretching the boundaries of their signature sound. "I didn't want any one style of writing," Ness says. "I didn't want it to be all heavy, like "White Light, White Heat, White Trash." I wanted some heavy and some light. I wanted some fiction and some nonfiction. I wanted versatility."
That's evident right away. The record's first vocal track, "California (Hustle and Flow)," finds Ness and the band not roaring out of the gate so much as swaggering behind a chunky Stones-style locomotive groove. "This record has a lot of my influences," Ness says, "But how far you go with those influences is up to you. With this record I wanted to go a little farther. I wanted people to hear that second track and realize, 'Wow, this is not just another Social Distortion record.'" (For good measure the track has hints of "Ball and Chain" and the Stones' "All Down The Line" and, for the first time, female backing vocals. "I've been listening to records for years with (backing vocals), and I was like, "Hey, why don't I do that?" Ness laughs.)
Not that the band's punk foundations have eroded; the first single "Machine Gun Blues," a piece of gangland fiction set in 1934, could hail from "Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell." But the record is evidence of the band's ability to evolve. "Bakersfield," a setlist staple in recent years, is a waking-on-the-railroad-tracks story of wrecked love, forgiveness and Buck Owens; it closes with a spoken-word verse to make Merle Haggard smile. "Can't Take It With You" sports a Jerry Lee-style piano solo that scorches paint. And set closer "Still Alive" is a soaring carpe diem with an added emotional weight that can't be described or duplicated.
"The album is reminiscent to me of "Somewhere," but it also has some of the darkness that "White Light" had. It has some of the flavor of "Mommy's Little Monster," Ness said. "I think it's very signature. We've never been afraid to evolve and show people what we can do."
Now in their fourth decade, Ness and Social Distortion have officially done one of the most non-punk things possible: They've failed to burn out.
Mixing Springsteen's factory-overalls ethic with Southern California punk energy and black leather, Social Distortion formed with Ness and high school buddy, the late Dennis Danell, in the late 1970s; the group broke in 1983 with the thrashing plate of punk and displeasure "Mommy's Little Monster." Their 1988 follow-up, "Prison Bound," hinted at a sonic change to come, and by the band's self-titled 1990 record and 1992's "Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell," their sound had solidified into the instantly recognizable brand of rock n' roll that's defined them since.
For Hard Times, Social Distortion consists of Ness and longtime guitarist Jonny Wickersham, along with bassist Brent Harding and drummer David Hidalgo, Jr.
These days the band is rarely off the road for long, and continues to grip fans who have been around since "Mommy's Little Monster" while drawing new ones who discover the band through hand-shot YouTube clips. "I see people bringing their kids to shows," Ness says. "And I see kids bringing their parents."
Social Distortion is a mix of potent power, appeal across all age brackets and a genuine satisfaction at reaching as many people as they have. "I write songs for myself, and I hope that other people will like them too," Ness says. "I think every record you make is showing people what you've learned over the past few years. It's showing people, 'This is what I know.'"

Harkening back to punk rock's glory days of the 70s, Oklahoma outfit Broncho captures the aggression, DIY authenticity and youthful exhilaration of a bygone era and then drags it by the hair into the Here and Now, creating a fresh sound that's unlike anything being played today. With echoes of The Replacements, Iggy and the Stooges and The Ramones, Broncho's exuberant ten song debut Can't Get Past the Lips is a blisteringly cathartic 20 minute flash of gritty, crunching guitar work supported by an assaultive rhythm section and made whole by songwriter Ryan Lindsey's aggressive, yelping vocal work.

Lindsey's vocals and guitar are supported by Johnathon Ford (bass), Ben King (guitar) and Nathan Price (drums). The project began as an off-the-cuff recording session for Lindsey (who also plays keys for Starlight Mints, in addition to performing as a solo artist). He quickly laid down early versions "Pick a Fight" and "Losers" with the assistance of King (Cheyenne) and Price (Native Lights), and then sent them to Ford (Unwed Sailor), asking for feedback. Ford loved the songs so much that he suggested they begin playing shows as a band.

"The next thing I knew, Johnathon had a show booked in Tulsa," Lindsey says.
That first show, a manic, ultra-lean showcase of six songs that clocked in at less than 15 minutes, occurred in February of 2010, since then the band has toured across the U.S. and released their debut album Can't Get Past The Lips to international acclaim.

The collective talent and cumulative experience of all involved with Broncho has resulted in an album that, for all its dirty-dishwater punk roots, is a masterwork of garage/pop simplicity. Speaking of the band's reference points, Lindsey says "We all love the way those records sound so we naturally went in that direction, as far as fidelity goes. But more than anything, it's the attitude of an era that I wasn't around for, but feel a connection with. We didn't set out to recreate a record from that era, we just took on that message and made it our own."

Or, as Ford puts it: "It's not nostalgia, it's natural."

Adv $30, DoS $35, Mezz $40

Tickets

Show :: 8:30pm (times subject to change) / Oklahoma Joe's BBQ will be serving their full menu until 9:45pm!

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Cain's Ballroom

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Social Distortion with Broncho

Saturday, June 1 · 7:30 PM at Cain's Ballroom