INTERVIEW BY FLORIAN BRAUN
INTRODUCTION BY FLORIAN BRAUN
PHOTOS BY FLORIAN BRAUN
If you don’t know the Angry Samoans, then you’ve never listened to punk rock or hardcore music, or you’ve been living in a galaxy far, far beyond… If you talk about the roots of punk/hardcore in California and those who invented and spearheaded it, you definitely have to mention the Angry Samoans. They formed in the late ’70s and delivered all-time classic albums like “Back from Samoa” and “Inside My Brain”, which are frequently cited in all-time punk/hardcore top ten lists. Bands like Mudhoney, the Mighty Mighty Bosstones and even the Foo Fighters have covered their songs. No other band could write such rude and catchy songs, with the trademark cynical lyrics of bandleader Metal Mike Saunders. They belong right next to the Bad Brains, Black Flag and Fear. Listen to the words of “Metal” Mike and original drummer Billy Vockeroth of the Angry Samoans, because they’re fucking legendary. This is punk rock history.
“WE’RE A PUNK ROCK BAND. THINGS DON’T GET DONE. WE’RE NOT A CORPORATION. I DO THE MERCHANDISING AT THE GIGS, T-SHIRTS, STICKERS AND CDS, BUT ONLY AT GIGS. WE SELL SHIRTS FOR $5 AT SHOWS. I KEEP ALL THE MONEY AND GO TO SECOND-HAND STORES AND BUY SHIRTS FOR A DOLLAR THAT HAVE DESIGNS ON THEM FROM TV SHOWS OR SOCCER TEAMS AND PUT OUR NAME ON IT.”
How are you?
Bill: We’re doing great.
So who’s left from the original band members?
Mike: Bill and I are still playing, and the other guys joined the band around 1998. Jon already played guitar on a couple of my solo projects, “Burn the Flag” and some other records. Their characters are different than ours.
How did you get started?
Bill: Mike and I were in the band since we formed the Angry Samoans in late summer of 1978.
Mike: Everyone in the Angry Samoans had different ideas and visions about playing music. We really had no master plan. We just met at the rehearsals, jammed around and saw what happened, but we really worked hard. I guess that’s the main reason why all the records we did became quite good.
Bill: I wanted to become a second Ted Nugent at that time.
Mike: And we covered every song of the Dictators.
That’s why all of your records are quite different.
Bill: We tried to be like the Beatles. Nah, it was all Mike’s idea; I’m just the drummer.
Mike: About the time of Suicidal Tendencies, big bands like Circle Jerks or Black Flag were playing huge places and the core scene got more violent. We quit playing those kinds of gigs intentionally in late ’84. There was this famous gig on New Years Eve in ’83 when Social Distortion broke up. They broke up because of all those idiot punks and violence in the California hardcore/punk rock scene. Instead of having fun, the morons ran around and knocked over the bands’ fucking equipment, so they couldn’t play. LA punk was really fucked up at that time.
How about your lyrics? I would think with songs like “Homosexual” or “Poshboy’s Cock”, you would have made yourselves a lot of enemies?
Mike: Not really. It was a brotherhood with bands like Black Flag or the Dickies. But we made many enemies without trying. How crazy is that? If we tried harder, we would’ve made more enemies. [Laughs]
Any influences when you started the band?
Mike: For the music, there were too many to count. It was ’60s garage punk, hard rock, and many heavy metal influences like Black Sabbath and Iggy and the Stooges. For the lyrics, there was only one influence: if you wanted to write songs of this type, the Dictators record “Go Girl Crazy” was the Holy Bible. I just thought: Oh, my God, this is so stupid and so funny and so cool. Our way wasn’t that funny, but stupid and mean. We wrote about living in LA – hell on earth. About frustration, the smog, etc. It was very ill tempered. We didn’t want to make anyone laugh. The lyrics to “Lights Out” were written when we were riding in a truck from a gig in San Francisco back to LA before there was any music. I was writing it to make Bill laugh. I was just writing stupid stuff to make the other guys laugh. It’s a good example to show how easy and funny a good rock and roll song could be.