Social Distortion hits TV at last on 'Jimmy Kimmel Live'
It’s hard to believe that with everything Social Distortion has been through during the veteran O.C. punk band’s 30-plus year career, a national TV appearance never happened before Monday night’s performance on “Jimmy Kimmel Live.”
Social D singer-songwriter-guitarist Mike Ness led his bandmates through “Machine Gun Blues” (above) from the forthcoming album “Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes” that’s slated for release Jan. 18, the band’s first new collection since 2004's "Sex, Love and Rock 'n' Roll."
I spoke with Ness over the summer on a day when he was working on that track, which is something of a history lesson akin to “1945,” Social D’s look at the dropping of an atomic bomb on Hiroshima at the end of World War II. Ness recalls scribbling the words to "1945" out one day in school when he felt bored out of his mind in class.
The new song takes the perspective of an old-school gangster during the Depression and Prohibition.
“I wrote ‘Machine Gun Blues’ the same way I wrote ‘1945,’ ” he said during a break in sessions at the Burbank studio where he was mixing the album. “I obviously wasn’t there in 1934. It’s a gangster’s couple-day trip, and what his life might have been like. Instead of glorifying it, he’s not digging what’s going on, even though he’s in a nice suit. He knows it’s short-lived, it’s going to be over soon and it’s going to be ugly.”
Ness and Social D have often touched on the theme of living fast, but three decades in, they’ve demonstrated they’re not interested in the dying young half of that adage.
In several of the new songs, he said, “I’ve tried to stay away from pure autobiographical hard times. It’s less personal, and if it is, I try to twist it, like ‘Story of My Life,’ which was a good example of being autobiographical, but it was a little more lighthearted and more universal.”
He and the band also played “Story of My Life” on the Kimmel show. I’ll have more of our conversation in Calendar closer to when the “Hard Times” album will be released. Meanwhile, here's the video of the performance of "Story of My Life":
-- Randy Lewis