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Social Distortion to appear on 'Conan' on Tuesday night

January 18, 2011 |  4:52 pm

Mike Ness 2010 Gary Friedman

Social Distortion’s new album, “Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes,” officially surfaces Tuesday, and longtime followers of the veteran O.C. punk rock band probably have noticed the group’s profile surfacing in ways they might never had expected.

For one, there’s the massive billboard along the southbound Santa Ana Freeway in La Mirada, something that would have seemed impossible to imagine when the band was starting out three decades ago.  The group’s label, Epitaph Records, has erected another atop the Amoeba Music store in Hollywood, and a third across from the Hollywood Palladium noting the band’s three sold-out shows there Jan. 27-29.

A collaboration between the band’s website and Amazon.com has offered visitors the ability to stream the album for free, and for every 100,000 streams, Amazon.com drops its sale price on the album by $1. As of Tuesday afternoon, the album had been streamed more than 400,000 times, bringing Amazon’s price to $8.99 from the $12.99 starting point.

Last month the group made its first national TV appearance ever when it performed on “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” and on Tuesday night, Social D returns to the late-night TV talk show arena for a performance on “Conan.”

On a recent stop at a Barnes & Noble bookstore, I even found a pile of complimentary Social Distortion bookmarks. Does the flurry of promotional and marketing efforts take away some of the band’s long-cultivated mystique?

“We always wanted to remain a little bit underground and unattainable,” singer and chief songwriter Mike Ness told me recently. “But at some point, you realize that the mystery is solved now. We’re just an O.C. rock 'n’ roll band that’s trying to get more fans, basically.”

As for the decision to stop declining requests for TV appearances, Ness said, “we’ve been asked before, and it was always one of those things where some of us wanted to do it and some of us didn’t. … Honestly, I feel now that there are thousands of people out there who just don’t know they’re Social D fans yet.  Besides, TV is cool now. Once we did it [for Kimmel], it was like, ‘Why didn’t we do this a long time ago?’ ”

-- Randy Lewis

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