Jun 02, 2009, 10:53AM

Rancid: All Grown Up

What happens when a bunch of metal dudes get wives and kids and mortgages.

» EXPRESS: Rancid really comes off more like a tight-knit gang than a band, and you sing about that connection quite a bit.
» ARMSTRONG: Making records is something that we do. I'm the godfather of Matt Freeman's son, Otto. When his son was born, Matt was playing bass with Social Distortion and I was hanging out with him in Los Angeles. His wife called and Matt said, "I got to go you guys." So, Matt and I get in his car, Social D hadn't even hit the stage yet [with the fill-in], and we're already on I-5 going back to the Bay. And I'm his sidekick and we're riding up there. It's my birthday at midnight, and there we are driving in because he's going to have his first son. There ain't no band; it's just my best friend, someone I've known since first grade. That's what it comes down to with us. That's why we can wait six years — Matt has two boys now and Lars has a little boy — and we can go and live a life. I can make solo records, or go to Spain, but we always come back to Rancid. Always. It's our homebase, our mothership. Everything comes from Rancid. I love that we don't force it, and that the creative process is real natural.

» FREDERIKSEN: Like Tim was saying, we don't need a Rancid record as an excuse to hang out. We're together all the time, whether it's hanging out or doing whatever. We were on tour for almost a year in 2006 and then again recently, and we just like playing music in a band together.
» ARMSTRONG: We spent three weeks in Utah, when it was all said and done, and we all lived at the Skywalker Ranch for three weeks [to record it], like we did in the old days. ... We used to write together a lot, because we were always together. And the great thing about this record is we really got to spend a lot of time together, and I think that comes across with the way the songs came out.
» FREDERIKSEN: Back in 1994, 1995, Tim lived in this apartment, and we used to go in this stairwell at 11 o'clock at night — because it had good acoustics — with our acoustic guitars and just sit there and hash out and write songs.

» EXPRESS: You guys recorded 29 songs for "Dominoes" and 19 made the CD. Will those 10 other songs surface at some point?
» ARMSTRONG: Always.
» FREDERIKSEN: We put out a collection of "B Sides and C Sides," and there will probably be a "D Sides and E Sides" coming out. They will see the light of day.
» ARMSTRONG: Someway, somehow.

» EXPRESS: How much input does Epitaph boss Brett Gurewitz have when he produces Rancid?
» ARMSTRONG: This is how good Brett Gurewitz is as a producer. He heard "Civilian Ways" [a song inspired by Armstrong's soldier brother returning from Iraq] and it was maybe going to be a track on the acoustic record, and he said, "No, man that should be on the real record." So, we don't really know what's going to happen; we just bang out these tracks and where they land, they land. And Brett Gurewitz has a huge role in that. he sequenced "Life Won't Wait," he recorded all the vocals for "Out Come the Wolves" and he didn't get any credit. He's a huge player in developing these records.

» EXPRESS: Isn't it strange but also comforting to know that this music and scene that inspired you so much as a teenager can still be so motivational and creative in your 40s?
» ARMSTRONG: Yeah, I see what you mean. We fell in love with the sound. Going way back to when I was a kid, all I ever wanted to do was play music. I would spend my last $3 on flyers for Operation Ivy to put up on [telephone poles]. I just wanted to be in a band and have my friends come out and see us. ... And I fell in love with the Ramones in the '70s when my brother bought those records. I was a little guy — 13 or 14, worshiping that sound. And all bands will always be compared to the Ramones to me. That bar is set really high. I don't think any band will be as great as the Ramones. ... But I love seeing kids now interpret punk rock,. Punk will never die because there will always be kids interpreting and bringing their own perspective to it, no matter what neighbor hood you come from, whether poor or rich.
» FREDERIKSEN: The thing I loved about punk rock, it didn't have any barriers. .. The music i was listening to was all about unity.. ... It didn't matter where you came from, or who your parents were, or what color your skin was, or what your sexual preference was, if you're male or female. If you're coming to punk rock, and punk rock is choosing you, you're an outcast in the first place. ... We love a lot of new bands, too. The good thing about punk rock is that you can listen to a band from 30 years ago and they sound like yesterday. But bands like Society's Parasites, Streets Dogs, all sorts of bands.
» ARMSTRONG: I got friends who are my age — I'm 43 — who say punk rock is dead. Really? Why don't you come to some of these house parties and backyards, get on the mic, stop the shop, make an announcement: "Excuse me, everybody, punk rock is dead" — to a bunch of 17- and 18-year-olds in a backyard somewhere.


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