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Exclusive: Social Distortion premieres new song, 'California (Hustle and Flow)'

This winter marks the long-gestating return of O.C. punk stalwarts Social Distortion, which begins 2011 with a string of shows around the Southwest and Southern California that will culminate in a three-night stint at the Palladium in Hollywood on Jan. 27-29. The shows come alongside the band's first studio album in six years, "Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes," its debut full-length for equally sturdy punk label Epitaph.

Times music writer Randy Lewis spent time with Distortion founder Mike Ness and the band while they were making the new record, and Ness spoke openly about the challenges of harnessing hardened emotions to create new sounds.  

“Changing the old anger is the challenge for me,” he said. “When I was 17, it was perfect, because I needed it. I needed it to defend myself against the attacking world, and I had plenty of it. Even in my 20s, it was great. Anger’s great for writing. Like everything, some of these things that were survival skills turn into a double-edged sword in your adult life -- they can affect your marriage, affect your relationship with your children, affect your relationships period. …

“It’s been a little turbulent,” he said, adding with a twisted smile: “It’s an interesting -- and stressful -- period in life, and that always does create a good record.”

Ness also spoke with Lewis about his feelings on stepping into the Epitaph Records family. The label, launched in the early 1980s by Bad Religion’s Brett Gurewitz, has, over the last three decades, built a sizable stable of punk, alternative, rock and even country acts.

“I have a feeling it’s the beginning of a very long relationship,” Ness said.

The full story of Social Distortion's return will go online later in the week, and appear in Sunday's print edition. For now, here's an exclusive track from the new album. The song is called "California (Hustle and Flow)," something that Ness and company know something about.

-- Randall Roberts

Photo: Mike Ness, center, performs with Social Distortion during KROQ's Almost Acoustic Christmas on Dec. 12 at the Gibson Amphitheatre. Credit: Luis Cinco / Los Angeles Times.

Comments () | Archives (51)

i really love this band!!!
keep on rocking!!!

Funny, this song could have easily been written and recorded by Cracker. Kind of a departure from Social D's traditional sound.

where do you find the rest of the interview? is it online?

Not feeling this song, everything else I've heard on this album is badass as usual... S.D. !!

Awesome track! It's got Exile on Main Street vibe to it. Nice use of back up singers as well!!!

Sounds like the Rolling Stones or Black Crowes.

Social D was my first ever concert. I was 17 and saw them at the Ball and Chain tour in 1990 with the Vandals at the Country Club in Reseda.
I got my ticket for both the HOB Anaheim show and the Palladium show. Lets do this! :o)

Thank you for posting this cool song!!! Social D. has to be the best punk bands who can still pound out the hits. Mike Ness is a King!

sounds like epitaph has given new inspiration for Ness...this is a great start. This is a song that, like Machine Gun Blues, defines this band

I Love Social D ! In my mind the best band ever !Mike Ness is trying new sounds . That what makes him so great . This is a very diffrent sound for the band . I love it ! The boys are doing what they do best writing great tunes . ROCK ON Social D ! Mike Ness is a MUSIC GOD !!!

"whats life without a little pain" best band ever

la banda mas grande!
desde ARGENTINA!!!!!

social distortion por siempre!

Not to shabby Mike and the boys, keep rocking, and I'll keep buying your art, looking forward to the new album!! Thanks again

This song is garbage. Good thing I decided to stop going to their shows way back!

reminiscent of The Stones.

you gotta love the backin vocals!

I love Social distortion, the best punk rock band in the world

Congratulation for the new song.

I love this band, but this song - way too "clean" what happened to the real "distortion". If i want background singers I listen to coheed & cambria

I love Cinderella. I haven't heard Gypsy Road in a while. Thanks Randall for posting it.

Not feeling this song! too much of a departure.. its ok to try diff things but it just didn't come together on this one. Its to be expected, they can't all be effing awesome. "Still Alive" on this new record should have been the 1st single its by far the best song on the new record! It fresh rock with that classic SxDx feel. its like taking the first drink of your favorite ice cold beer! love it! SxDx Rules!!

To the haters of this song . . . its natural progression. Its a different side and perhaps a more mature side of the band or what the band is feeling right now. You can't expect a band to crank out 20 some years of the same stuff without getting bored. While I still enjoy all the stuff I used to listen too, it aint changing. I like hearing new stuff too. I also like when bands morph but stay true to their roots and this tune captures that. Listen to any great bands music from first record to material recorded 20 years later. The more it changes, the more it kind of stays the same.

I seriously think this is the worst Social D song I've heard so far.... The guitar riff sucks and well, I guest I just don't get it... I seriously miss the ''white light, white heat'' sound...Aurevoir

Hell yeah!!!! Amazing song!!!!

Thanks from Brazil!!!

Different, very produced stones tune. However I agree "Still Alive" would have been a great tune as a first single. But I can't fault social d, As an old school punk rocker I've been with them since Prisonbound, to be honest I never thought they would last this long (or Ness would keep on keeping on). I look forward to the album because even a bad social d album is better than 95 percent of the crap coming out these days. The person who made the comment about Gypsy Road and Cinderella, hands down that made me laugh, I gotta give ya credit, I busted out laughing. Long Live Social Distortion and whatever musical direction they go, I will follow.......even down gypsy roads.....hehehehe

Wow........ What can I say...... I guess punk rock is dead. Ness and company personally burried it. I guess thats what happens when your way of rebelling against the system is going to a vegan whole foods store.

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