WEB EXCLUSIVE: Social Distortion never gets warped

Tiffany Strong


Social Distortion

Where? House of Blues in Cleveland

When? Today, 7 p.m.

How Much? $25 – $35


Not many bands can say they have been playing together for almost 30 years, and in the process, shaped an entire punk era.

Not many bands can say they have withstood after replacing six band members, losing the lead singer to drug rehab or watch one of their best friends and original bandmates die suddenly of natural causes.

Not many bands can go on hiatus for nearly five years and reappear to headline their own tour.

Social Distortion can.

In the late ’70s while most people think of dancing hippies with flowers in their hair, there was a new era sneaking up that was filled with rebellion and violence that shook the American dreams of California. Mike Ness, along with some high school classmates, embraced the Orange County punk scene and formed the original Social Distortion.

Although Jonny “2Bags” Wickersham has only been a guitarist for Social Distortion since 2000, he has a lot to say about the punk era, the band and its coming of age, and yet, nothing to say about exactly why they call him “2Bags.”

Wickersham got his break and joined Social Distortion to take the place of the late Dennis Dannell after he died suddenly.

“I knew these were pretty big shoes to fill, but I was up for the challenge. He is greatly missed by everyone,” Wickersham said.

While punk music and hard metal are often viewed as violent and angry music, Wickersham feels it is just people expressing themselves.

“Yeah, I agree that violence was a huge part of punk rock; it got tore apart through gangs in the ’70s,” Wickersham said. “But at the same time, people are just trying to be who they are. It’s a way of expression.”

Social Distortion is just trying to demonstrate personal experiences and feelings.

“If our music can help people find perspective in their own lives, it’s all worth it.”

Social Distortion has gotten the chance to share its messages so far through eight CDs, two DVDs and is currently rocking out on its third tour.

Punk has changed since the raging ’70s and has new meaning, along with new bands, but Social Distortion has stuck around through the transformations.

“SD has a distinct sound, like many bands do, but you know it when you hear it. Mike’s (the lead singer) voice is unique and everyone knows his guitar. We definitely had to change though. There are more optimistic sounds through the latest albums. You got to play what you feel.”

Playing what the band feels to screaming fans is exactly what Social Distortion is up to these days. The 51-stop tour is hitting Cleveland today.

“The set covers all the periods of SD records. Yes, there are lights, sound, action and cameras, but most importantly, there’s a level of intimacy,”Wickersham said. “We don’t play big arenas, so we take this chance to get close to our crowd because they have supported us and are so cool.”

At the pace that the members of Social Distortion have set for themselves, they will probably be around for at least three more decades. Their punk-rock music has set the stage for many younger groups to follow, but Social Distortion wants to rock right along with them.

“Keep the desire, record honest music, play good shows and love what you do. Those are the keys to success in a band.”

Contact ALL correspondent Tiffany Strong at [email protected].