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Interview:
Social Distortion revisits classic album for 25th anniversary celebration
 

By GARY GRAFF
Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

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Social Distortion co-founder and frontman Mike Ness is neither nostalgic nor sentimental by nature. But he full bought into the opportunity to celebrated the 25th anniversary of the California rock group's critically lauded self-titled third album this year, playing the set in its entirety during concerts.

"It's definitely a chance to reflect, for us and the fans," Ness, 53, notes by phone from a tour stop in Indianapolis. "For me, revisiting these songs reminded me that that record was about taking risks. I was writing songs that weren't stereotypically punk rock, like "Story of My Life" and "Ball and Chain." They were just songs, and, honestly, I didn't know if other people were going to like 'em as much as I did.

"So it was really just putting my feet in the mud and saying, 'This is the direction I want to go, and I hope you guys come with me.' And people did."

And they continue to do so; Ness notes with a laugh that, "There's some kids coming to these shows that weren't born yet when that album came out and are seeing us fro the first time, which is pretty cool."

Besides its critical acclaim, "Social Distortion" was also the group's most successful album -- its first to hit the Billboard 200 chart and later certified gold for sales of more than 500,000 copies. It's well worth celebrating, although Ness acknowledges there's a bit of sadness that he's the last man standing from the Social D lineup that made the album.

"The hardest thing is Dennis (Danell), of course, because he started the band with me and it was obviously a pivotal point in both our lives when that record came out. We got to quit our days jobs and just devote our lives to touring." Danell, who played bass and guitar, passed away in 2000. "Just before his death I remember he was really tired of touring and wanted to raise a family," Ness notes. "I admired that about him."

While he's immersed in the past this summer, Ness is looking forward to working on Social Distortion's future. He has some ideas for a follow-up to 2011's "Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes," but Ness says it will require him to get off the road and hunker down on material before any significant process is made.

"At the end of this tour we really have to just pull the plug so I can get 100 percent into writing mode," he says. "I like to just lock myself into isolation and immerse myself in work; sometimes I sleep at the studio after working on stuff, then wake up to the stuff right there. There's something really cool about that.

"But it's been neat to be out there playing this ('Social Distortion') record because it's really an integral, instructional part of us. It would be impossible not to have it impact on me when I get back in that writing mode after playing these songs almost every night for eight weeks. That's got to have some sort of effect."

Social Distortion, Drag the River and Nikki Lane

Saturday, Aug. 15. Doors open at 7 p.m.

Royal Oak Music Theatre, 318 W. Fourth St.

Tickets are sold out.

Call 248-399-2980 or visit www.royaloakmusictheatre.com.




Web Site: www.royaloakmusictheatre.com

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