Greg Hetson

Greg Hetson

GREG HETSON
INTERVIEW & INTRO BY STEVE OLSON
PHOTOS by JON TAMKIN / BUREAU OF INDUSTRIAL IMAGING

Pick it up because of inspiration… Continue it throughout life… Making ends meet through sounds. Doesn’t sound so bad at all… Lucky, yes… Into what one does, yes… Going at it through life, yes… Greg Hetson is that…. and pretty funny too. Deal …. With it …. Now.

Hello, Greg. Thanks so much. This was great. This tape will self-destruct in ten seconds.
[Laughs] Great.

How are you doing?
I’m hanging in there. I’ve just been battling a month-long cold. Honestly, I’m pretty good. I feel strong.

Stand strong. Tell me where you grew up.
I grew up in Hawthorne, California, home of the Beach Boys.

Do you recall when we first met?
No, not exactly.

I’ll tell you because it’s really quite funny. I met you in Westwood in 1978. I was up at Poseur up on Sunset and there was some little note on the bulletin board looking for a singer or a bassist and I had just picked up a bass. I went and met you and some other guy at a house in Westwood.
I wonder if that was with my friend, Chris Trent, because I was hanging out with him back then.

It was Chris, because I remember his name, but nothing happened.
That is so funny. It is a small world isn’t it? That is great. My parents had just gotten divorced and my dad moved to Westwood, so I was living in an apartment up there with my dad.

It was totally random. I think I was 17. I found that humorous. So you grew up in Hawthorne. When did you get interested in music?
My dad was an audiophile vinyl junkie. He was into folk music and classical music and opera mostly. He would always take me to record stores, so I grew up with music playing in the house. I enjoyed most of the stuff and I picked up on the early FM freeform, super liberal, anti-war, protest stuff. That was the stuff that caught my attention as a kid.

That was the early ‘70s?
It was late ‘60s and early ‘70s.

Did the MC5 come up? They had a stance against that kind of stuff.
No. It was more like folk music that was being played. The lyrical content was really heavy and anti-war or subversive, but it was more watered down stuff. The lyrics were heavy, but the music was folksy. My dad wasn’t into rock n’ roll music too much.

Did you pick up the guitar through that and listening?
Yeah. When I was 11, my parents were like, “It’s time for you to learn an instrument. Everyone should learn an instrument,” even though neither one of them played anything. I was listening to the radio, and I asked my dad, “What’s that sound there? That’s the sound I like.” It was the intro of the song, “Up Around The Bend” by Creedence. He said, “That’s the guitar.” I said, “I’d like to try that thing out.” I took some lessons and didn’t stick with it. I kind of got bored and decided I was going to be a baseball player and I played little league instead of music. I think I got two hits in three years or something like that. [Laughs] I put the guitar under the bed and it kind of sat there until I was 15 or 16 when I picked it up again when all my friends in high school started jamming and forming bands and playing in garages.

Did you know that Tony Alva was a baseball player? I was told that he was a really good baseball player when he was younger.
No. I didn’t know that. I know he played hockey. I didn’t know he played baseball too. It makes sense that he would excel in any sport though.

I found that interesting. So were you guys doing covers or were you jamming and learning how to play?
I was learning how to play. We were jamming in people’s living rooms and garages and we’d try to play songs all the way through and never really made it. Then the neighbors would complain after an hour or so and we’d get the brush off. We never really got it together. My senior year, I was in photo shop and there was this kid in photo shop with me and he had a flyer for The Bags and some other punk bands on his folder. I was like, “Hey, are you into punk rock?” He looked at me like, “Oh my god, is this guy going to kick my ass or what?” It definitely wasn’t cool to be punk rock back then. He was like, “Yeah.” I said, “Me too. It’s cool.” That ended up being Jeff McDonald. He said, “Me and my brother are trying to form a band. He plays bass and I play guitar and we know a drummer.” So we started practicing in Jeff and Steve’s mom’s house. They didn’t care if we played as long as we quit at a reasonable hour. This was in 1979.

Was this pre-Redd Kross?
Yeah. We were the Tourists at first. Then we found out there was a band already using that name the Tourists, so we changed it to Red Cross and later it changed to Redd Kross.

So you were one of the first forming members of Redd Kross?
Yeah. I was a forming member. We would listen to all the early Dangerhouse records and the early L.A. punk labels. Then the Black Flag single came out and we noticed that their P.O. Box was in Lawndale, which was the suburb next to us. We decided we needed to go stalk that P.O. Box at the post office and meet those guys. That never happened even though we did that a few times. Then we found out where they practiced at this church down in Hermosa Beach, which was where a lot of bands from that area played at the time, like the Last Descendants and Saint Vitus. We went there and we were like, “Hey, we’re these young kids and we need a gig. Can you help us out?” They were totally welcoming. That was the first time we had anybody encouraging us. They were like, “Yeah. That’d be great. We play parties here all the time. Come play with us.”

Oh really? That’s great.
Yeah. They got us our first gig, which was at this Sunday Picnic in the Park at Polliwog Park in Manhattan Beach. I think they had lied and told the city they were a Fleetwood Mac cover band. They pulled the wool over the eyes of the Parks and Rec Department. We opened up and it was Eddie and the Subtitles and Black Flag. We played and people were like, “Okay, there are these little kids up there on the stage.” When we first started, Steve was 11, Jeff was 15, I was 17 and our original drummer was 15. We played to some polite applause and then some new wave band called Big Wow played. Then Black Flag went on and all hell broke loose. People were throwing chicken and cans of soda and beer and bottles were breaking and a mini riot broke out. That might have been our first gig. We were like, “This is cool!”

Oh nice. Punk rock back then was totally unaccepted too.
Punk rock was very unaccepted and it was feared. Everyone was just getting used to long hair and then everyone cut their hair short. People were doing spiky hair, which was called the ‘pineapple.’

That is funny. Why did you stop playing with Redd Kross?
Well, we changed our name from the Tourists to Redd Kross and our drummer quit. His parents made him quit. He couldn’t get out enough to play shows and parties that we were being asked to play, so we got Ron Reyes who was living at the church at the time in a closet. You can see that footage of him in his closet in the Decline of Western Civilization movie. Anyway, he had a drum set and he didn’t even know how to play it very well. He said that he just bought it to drive people out when it was time to kick everybody out of the party spot, but he played well enough that we got him in the band. He played a few shows and we did an EP for Posh Boy. He got pissed off because Jeff went on stage one day with mascara, so he quit the band.

That was the reason he ran out?
Yeah. That was not punk, according to Ron, so he quit the band.

Wait. You were on the Redd Kross Posh Boy record?
Yeah. I was on the first EP.

I didn’t know that. What was your reason for departing Redd Kross?
Well, I had a friend and he said, “My brother is coming down. He just graduated from college in Santa Cruz. He’s coming back to L.A. and he’s a killer drummer. It happened to be Lucky [Lehrer], who ended up in the Circle Jerks.” I let him try out and, in total reverse, they pulled a Ron move on Lucky and said he wasn’t punk enough because he was wearing a Devo button and had on some wraparound sunglasses right out of a new wave type store in Beverly Hills. I was like, “So what he wears a mirror Devo pin and he’s got stupid sunglasses? He’s a great drummer.”

That’s mind blowing.
Yeah. They didn’t know how to tell me they just didn’t want to play with the guy. They kept making excuses on why they couldn’t practice, so I got fed up and quit. It was right around the same time Keith had quit Black Flag and he approached me and said, “Let’s start our own band.” That’s how the Circle Jerks were born.

How did you guys come up with the name, Circle Jerks?
We were at Ray Pettibon’s house to get some flyer art from him and he had this old Dictionary of American Slang from the ‘60s. One of the terms in there that we saw was ‘Circle Jerk.’ We thought it was the most ridiculous thing we’d heard, so we had to name our band after that.

[Laughs] Yes. Who was the bass player in the original Circle Jerks?
Roger Rogerson.

So you guys just started gigging?
Yeah. We got together and put together a 14-minute set and started playing gigs around town in early 1980.

I saw an early show of you guys and I was like, “That is the guy that I met in Westwood from the post on the bulletin board at Poseur.” I thought, “This is such a small weird little community.” Who wrote all the songs? Was it the whole band or was it you and Keith?
Everybody. It was like, “I’ve got a part.” “I’ve got another part.” “I’ve got some lyrics.” No matter who brought the song in, we always thought of it as a collaboration of the band. Even strumming a few chords on an acoustic or an electric guitar or a bass riff, it always morphed into something completely different when everyone got ahold of it.

Do you remember the first guitar you got?
Yeah. The first electric guitar that I got was when I was 11 and it was a Harmony electric. When I got into high school and got serious and took lessons for a minute and stuck with it, I had a Gibson S-1. That was my first real guitar that was playable and sounded good.

So you’re an SG guy?
Yeah. I had the S-1 and it was kind of funky. I saw this Firebird with some P-90s in a music store in Hermosa Beach around the corner from the church, so I got that. I was playing that in the early days of the Circle Jerks, but the thing wouldn’t stay in tune, so I was ordered by the band to get a guitar that stayed in tune. They didn’t really know how to tune it and they didn’t have an electric guitar tuner. They were very expensive back then. [Laughs] I bought my first SG from Jeffrey Lee Pierce. He was like, “I’ve got a guitar that I’m selling. It’s got good tuning pegs. I changed them.” I was like, “What? You can change tuning pegs?” I didn’t know anything about that. I was like, ‘Cool, yeah!” So I got this ’71 SG from Jeffrey Pierce. I was like, “Oh, wow, this looks cool.” I liked the tailpiece and it stayed in tune.

Can you imagine when you bought guitars back then knowing the value they would have later?
Oh yeah. If I had all the guitars and amps that I’ve had over the years, I’d be retired by now.

Exactly. With the Circle Jerks, it seemed like it fired up pretty quickly for you guys.
Yeah. Keith and Black Flag were pretty well established in this area and the West Coast in general. It was like, here’s the former singer from Black Flag and a guy from Redd Kross. We had a little bit of success around town, so people kind of latched on to us fast. We wanted to play as fast as we could while being able to tell what the music was and what the lyrics possibly said. We wanted it to be short and sweet. First chorus, first chorus, first chorus and out. It was really quick. It was complete songs but really fast. It had the same amount of parts as most songs, but it was super fast. We didn’t dick around with self-indulgence too much.

What about guitar leads? There weren’t many guitar leads back then.
No. I wasn’t very proficient with the guitar, so it was short and sweet. Get in and out and do some Chuck Berry riffs. You can never go wrong with that. We went and recorded a demo that turned into the record, Group Sex. We were like, “Let’s see what happens with this?” We recorded a whole set, which was 14 songs, and finished that up.

Where did you record?
We did part of it at a place called Byrdcliffe Studios in Culver City. It was on the Desilu Studios lot. Back then the studios ran 24 hours, so you went in at 2am and you could get pretty cheap studio time. There was another studio out in the valley. I forget what it was called. Lucky had a friend that was a recording engineer, so we were able to get some good rates. We went in at ten at night until six in the morning for a couple of weeks. We’d be sitting at home waiting by the phone and we’d get the call, “Come down now. We’ve got studio time.” There might have been some weed traded for studio time. I can’t confirm or deny that.

For Wild in the Streets, who did the artwork for that cover of the little skanker?
That was an artist named Shawn Kerri from San Diego. She used to come up a lot. She was like, “I have this cool drawing that I made for you guys. Do you like it? Do you want to use it?” We were like, “Cool. Yeah!” Back then she was writing for that magazine, Cartoons. She did cartoons for Hustler as well. That’s how we got the artwork.

Did Ed Colver shoot the album cover?
Ed Colver did the Group Sex cover and Wild in the Streets cover. The Group Sex album cover was shot at a party that we played at Marina Skatepark in the bowl.

It’s like, “Where are you guys playing tonight?” “Oh, the skatepark.”
We’re playing at the skatepark. “Who’s playing?” I don’t know. Black Flag, Circle Jerks, the Germs, probably. Nothing big. “How much?” A few bucks.

You guys were also featured in the Decline of Western Civilization movie too, right?
Yeah. We went to a lot of gigs where they were filming and we just went up to Penelope Spheeris’ office and said, “Hey, we really need to be in your movie. You’d be doing a disservice if you don’t include us. Can you please put us in your movie?” We begged to be in the movie and for them to film us. They were like, “Well, we’re filming Fear and the Alice Bag Band, so if we like what we see, we’ll give you a shot, kid.” It was that kind of thing, and then boom. That’s how that came about.

I love that. Did you guys tour a lot around the country? Did you do Europe with the Circle Jerks back then?
No. We didn’t make it to Europe until 1985. We toured extensively in the U.S. and Canada. We did our first full U.S. tour in ’82. In ’81, we did an East Coast tour. It was quite an experience going across country with everything trapped in a short-bodied Dodge panel van with seven people in it pulling a trailer with no air conditioning and no seats, just some carpet on the floor. Good times. We rented a U-Haul trailer and barnstormed it across country.

It seemed like the Circle Jerks got really popular, no?
Yeah. We got popular pretty quick, not long after the Group Sex album came out. The Decline of Western Civilization and the Posh Boy Rodney on the ROQ compilation came out within a few months and then it seemed like everyone knew who we were.

Did you ever think that would happen when you guys sat down and decided to make a band?
No. We just wanted to play. When we first started, it was like, “We’ll play anywhere. We’ll play your party. We’ll play a gig. We don’t care if we have to open. We don’t care if we think we’re better than this other band. It’s not sports. It’s not a competition.” We wanted to go out and have fun and have a party and see the country. We had no preconceived notions about what we were doing. We had no clue what we were doing. We booked most of those first shows ourselves. We finally got a more professional booking agent in 1982. Still, at some of the venues, we’d show up and there would be no club there at all. We showed up in New Orleans once at the address for the gig and we were like, “Why are there a bunch of guys playing basketball and looking at us like they’re going to kick our ass?” There were no cell phones then, so you could look through the Yellow Pages and find the local indie record store. We’d go there and say, “Hey, we’re the Circle Jerks and we don’t know where we’re playing tonight.” That kind of thing happened all the time. We always made it somehow.

Then what happened with you guys?
We made five albums or so and did extensive touring in the U.S. and Europe. We got asked to be in the Repo Man movie doing a parody of ourselves in the future. We were a punk band that turned into a lounge band. It was quite funny. At that point, we had this so-called big-time manager and he said, “No. It’s a bad move. You’re not getting paid enough.” We didn’t care. We read the script and thought it was funny and wanted to be part of it. They were going to have some cool bands on the soundtrack, so we did it. It was really a good move because it was fun to do and it exposed us to a whole new group of people.

What was the demise of the Circle Jerks?
After making four or five records, we had writer’s block and it was like, “What do we do now?” The whole punk thing went from everything is all about punk rock to when the whole glam thing started coming out and nobody cared about punk rock anymore. Everyone grew their hair long and started playing rock music. They put on the spandex and fluffed their hair up with Aqua Net. We grew our hair out, but we didn’t go the Aqua Net route. It was kind of like we didn’t know what to do. We went as far as we thought we could and then some people got disillusioned. We saw a lot of our friends getting big record deals and making money. We were like, “Well, we’re doing okay.” We were making a living. Nobody had to work anymore. I think it was more writer’s block and we had no guidance, so that kind of fell apart in 1990 after ten years. That was the first time we broke up in 1990.

It was a good ten years though, no?
It was a great ten years.

What did you do after you guys broke up?
Well, a couple of years before that I had joined Bad Religion, just playing some gigs here and there. They weren’t recording or doing much. It was kind of a hobby band for everybody in that band. Right around 1988, a year before the Circle Jerks blew up, the Bad Religion Suffer record came out, and people were starting to get into that band. I got lucky. My one band was going down and the other was moving upwards. At the time, it was all about speed metal and glam and, of course, Nirvana and that grunge thing. There was nobody putting out punk records. There were no punk labels anymore really. It was like starting all over again.

When did you start to feel comfortable on the guitar? You were touring extensively and you became pretty tight.
I probably wasn’t even that comfortable into my mid-40s. I’ve never felt like I was good or good enough. I’m one of those artists that think that everything they make is shit and I’m fooling everybody. I was one of those guys for the longest time. I could mask it by jumping around on stage. At first, I would just stand there and people were staring at me and I was like, “Oh no, they’re watching my fingers and they’re going to know that I can’t play so I should move around.” That’s how I developed my stage antics, so people wouldn’t be looking and I wouldn’t have to make eye contact.

[Laughs] So you don’t think you really figured it out until later on, where you were confident with yourself as a player.
That was probably in the mid-80s when I thought, “I’m a little better than I think I am.”

What drew you to the SG? Was it just the tone and the growl?
It was the tone and the growl and I really like the way the tailpiece looked. It would shine off the lights. I could mess with people when the lights hit it and shine the light back at them. Also there was the weight. If you’re going to jump around and you have a Les Paul, or anything like that, forget it, dude. I’d be bruised. I’d be dead. I’m a little guy. I needed something light.

Right. Bad Religion was just doing their thing and then everything started to explode again in the mid ‘90s.
Around ’91 and ’92, we made three albums and, all of a sudden, the band blew up in Germany and everybody was all about Bad Religion. We’d go on tour in America and draw 200 people to a gig. We’d go to Europe and there would be thousands of people at the shows. They were buying everything on import. It wasn’t even released over there. It was entering the charts in Germany as an import.

Europe was your world to play?
Yeah. We were a part-time band until 1994. When the band reformed in 1987 to 1994, we would tour maybe a month a year, in the summer, when our singer, Greg, was not in college. Everyone had jobs. We’d primarily do tours in Europe because that’s where people wanted us.

How about Japan?
We didn’t make it to Japan until we got signed to a major label. It was probably ’93 or ’94 when we went over there for the first time.

How was that?
It was totally cool. Our first out of the U.S. tour was to Argentina in ’91 and that was insane. We had 300 kids at the airport waiting for us and people camped out in front of our hotel. We were like maybe the second “big” punk band to make it down there. The Ramones were gods when they went down there and then we came down there and so we were demi-gods. All of a sudden, the Ramones were gone and we were the next new coming, the saving of punk rock. It was really weird. Then it really took off when we went to Brazil.

When you first heard your music on the radio with the Circle Jerks, how was that for a dude that had just picked up a guitar? All of a sudden, you hear the compression of how the music sounds on the radio.
We were all gathered around the radio because we knew they were going to play it and when we it came on, we were like, “Okay, that’s it. We made it. We can die now.” We got played on Sunday at 1AM on Rodney on the ROQ and that was cool. What freaked me out though was walking into a record store randomly and seeing a whole wall of our record covers on display at Moby Disc on Ventura Boulevard in the valley. I had never been to this record store and I had heard that it was cool. There was this huge display of Circle Jerks records and I was like, “Whoa.” I had no clue.

That is so amazing. With Bad Religion, it seemed like there was a rebirth of punk rock through that and other bands all over the place.
Yeah. With Bad Religion, Brett had Epitaph Records and he was in the band too and he started putting out punk records again. Nobody else was doing it. He put out Rancid and Pennywise and NOFX and, all of a sudden, the flame was sparked again and people were like, “This is what we were missing.” They had the Offspring too and that kind of sparked a renewal of punk rock again.

I was totally excited that it was coming back again.
Yeah. Punk rock got such a bad name in the late ‘80s that it was hard to find venues to book punk rock gigs because it was so violent. A bad element got into it. People weren’t well behaved and weren’t policing themselves and that kind of destroyed it from within. It got as far as it could because of the fear it instilled of how bad punk rock was and the evils of it. By the time the ‘90s came around, everyone had gone through it once, and people’s older brothers and sisters played the records for their younger brothers and sisters and were probably like, “Don’t mess it up this time around.” Also, at that time, there was that explosion of Metallica and Nirvana. People kind of knew that the punk rock ethos was being touted by mainstream music. People were told it was okay to like punk rock more than mainstream.

With Bad Religion, did you guys get to tour all over and have big shows?
Yeah. In the mid ‘90s, we got to go to Europe and Germany again. The U.S. was pretty decent. By then, we were pretty popular. In Germany, it was crazy. We’d go over there and be in the Top Ten. It would be us, Green Day, Offspring and Rancid. We were in the Top Ten in the record charts in Sweden and Germany. It was pretty crazy shit.

That is crazy, but great.
It was great, 15 years later. Better late than never. It was a very gradual incline, the transition from a hobby to making a living at it.

You guys made an okay living at it though.
Yeah. We made an okay living and we were able to have families and houses and stuff like that.

I find that amazing and I’m so hyped on it. You were doing something you truly loved and were into.
We were totally lucky. It was great. It was something you never expected coming from the garage.

That’s fantastic. Then what happens with Bad Religion? Are you guys still playing?
They’re still playing. We had our ups and downs. Brett left the band right after our big major label debut. He quit the band and his label was blowing up. There were some personality conflicts and also his label was taking off. He knew he couldn’t keep up being a touring musician and running Epitaph Records with how huge, Rancid, Offspring and NOFX and all these other bands were doing, so he quit. Then we had some dark years. He rejoined the band after a few years and there was a little bit of life pumped back into it. Around our 30th anniversary, everything came full circle. We went back to Epitaph and he rejoined the band and we had some mild success again.

What major did you guys get signed to back then?
We were on Atlantic in North America and Sony for the rest of the world. We had a split deal, so it was kind of nice getting two record advances, which were for records that we were expected to make and spend stupid amounts of money to record in a good studio.

Was it all a pleasant experience? It definitely had its ups and downs?
It had its ups and downs, but it was definitely a pleasant experience doing what you love to do and making a living at it. It’s tough when you’re in a van or a tour bus. It’s like being in a submarine with five or six other guys in tight quarters. Not killing each other becomes a chore at times.

What did your parents think of all of this?
They were surprised. They were like, “You need something to fall back on.” I said, “That’s what my ass is for.” I tried college and I just wasn’t disciplined enough. I dropped out like four times.

What were you trying to take in college?
I had no direction. I took classes in history, photography, political science and business law. I dropped out so many times that I only completed one course in college.

How were the 2000’s for Bad Religion?
In the 2000’s, we had some lean years. We had some mild success with radio airplay. New markets opened up like South America, Asia, Indonesia, the Balkans and Eastern Europe, and they were starved for music, so we toured there. We didn’t sell any records, but people wanted to come see us play. It was something to do to keep us busy.

You’ve traveled the world with your guitar. That’s dope. What is going on with you now?
I’m playing with GFP with Tony Alva, Crazy Tom and Joey Castillo. We’re just a fun little punk rock band. We’re kind of DIY. We don’t have an agent or management. We’re like a bunch of chickens with our heads cut off having fun and letting shit happen organically. I’m also doing this Punk Rock Karaoke thing with Eric Melvin from NOFX, Steve Soto from the Adolescents, Derek O’Brien of Agent Orange and Stan Lee from the Dickies. We have a rotating line-up depending on who is on tour. We play shows and give people the lyrics and they get to come up and be the singer in the band. I’m doing that and working on some other shit with Loomis Fall, a friend of mine, who was in a band called Wax. He’s a Jackass TV show dude. We just finished up a record early Sunday morning at 7AM, so that wiped me out. I’m still recovering from the marathon mixing sessions.

Do you still have the same energy when you go into a mixing session or a recording session?
Yeah. I definitely have always enjoyed it.

You’re a veteran now.
The thing I did with Loomis, we don’t have a name for the group yet, but I’m finally able to not be afraid to do something outside of punk rock. It’s got the same attitude, but it’s a little bit different stylistically with sarcastic dark lyrics in a slightly different package.

How is GFP? How do you guys approach the whole strategy of the band and getting together to make it happen?
It’s cool. It’s a bunch of friends getting together in a garage. It’s that kind of atmosphere. It’s very much like when we first started Circle Jerks or Redd Kross. It’s just a bunch of friends that are able to play music together. The stars aligned and we get to go and play really fast punk rock music in the style that we grew up loving and listening to. We also make it sound current too. We’re trying to stand out and not sound the same. You’ll hear some punk influences and some metal influences.

What about new bands? Do you go out and see new bands still to see what’s happening and what’s current?
I have been. I’ve been trying to, but I haven’t been too much lately. I try to make it out at least once a month to check something out.

Have you ever gotten into the role of producer or any of that type of thing?
Yeah. I’ve produced a few bands here and there. I’ve done some stuff. I’m trying to get into that. I got to work on some music for the L.A. Kings and that was pretty cool. A friend of mine, Fred Coury, the drummer for Cinderella, does all the music for the Kings and I’m a huge hockey fan and he said, “I want to collaborate. We need to come up with something different for the Kings.” I was like, “Okay. Cool.” I went over there and worked with him and that was fun.

How many records have you recorded?
I really don’t know. I have no idea.

Over ten?
Yes.

Over 20?
Yeah.

That’s a lot of recording, buddy.
Yeah. That’s a lot of recording. That’s a lot of stuff to remember and a lot of stuff to forget. [Laughs]

That is a lot of studio time. Do you prefer to record at night or during the day or does it matter?
I prefer banker’s hours now for recording. Not too early, but getting a full eight hours is good. You don’t want to blow your ears out. I like producing and hanging out with younger musicians and helping them out and getting potential out of them.

Are there any ones that you’ve produced that you’re really hyped on?
The last thing I did was a band called Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead. They’re kind of an Irish punk band. I mixed them. I didn’t record it. They live in Austin. They’re cool. There’s a band called The Uprising that’s good. They’re out of Orange County and I did a couple of things with them.

Are there any memorable gigs with any of the bands?
There was a crazy Bad Religion gig where we were in San Sebastian, Spain and the place was over-packed and on the first or second chord of the first song, the floor collapsed and half the crowd fell into the basement. That was gnarly.

[Laughs] Whoa.
It was like, “What just happened?” It was totally silent. I didn’t hear anything falling. I was looking down and there was dust coming up and there are these faces looking up at you from this hole. It was really creepy. Luckily, nobody got killed or seriously injured. There were a few broken bones and some cuts, but they over-packed the place. They put 3,000 people in a 1,500 capacity club.

That is gnarly. So now what?
It’s GFP and all the other stuff. I’m producing bands and I might be working with some other people. I’m taking meetings and I have some other projects that I’m working on. I have the screenplay that I work on at Starbuck’s every day. No. I’m kidding. I’m just going free flow. Life is pretty good. I’m a little bored not having a steady band to tour with but I’m finding inner peace. I’m getting Zen.

What about recording with GFP?
We had a split EP come out with a band from Germany called Scheisse Minnelli. It’s available on iTunes and vinyl. The vinyl is very cool. We’re back to vinyl.

How do you feel about the technology of iTunes and the internet?
It sounds like shit, but it’s convenient. It’s like the cassette was convenient, but it didn’t sound as good as records. Then the CD came out and it was really convenient, but it sounds worse than a cassette. Hopefully, something will come out next that sounds better.

Do you miss the warmth of an 8-track?
Oh yeah. [Laughs] Those things were horrible. You’d have to use a matchbook to stick them in so they would actually play.

 

FOR THE REST OF THE STORY, ORDER ISSUE #73 AT THE JUICE SHOP…

Greg Hetson

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