Friday, 9 December 2016

Column: Punk Rock Dinner Party


Recently Emma and I were talking about ideas for potential columns. Emma, being a fan of that holiday I'm forced to celebrate every year, suggested "Punk Rock Christmas." I had a think but couldn't really think of anything Christmassy about punk rock. Asides from posting punk rock covers of Christmas songs, I had nothing to say on the matter. Then I thought some more and remembered a game I've heard of where everyone picks a group of people that would be their dream dinner party guests. I thought it might be fun to do this with punk rock celebrities. I'm sure this game has an actual name but I'm too lazy to Google it to find out.

I'm also too lazy to find out if there is any actual rules to the game so I've set my own: Number 1 - I can only pick five people - there are so many people I would like to invite but don't have a big enough table so five it is. Number 2 - I'm only allowed to pick one person who is no longer with us. Number 3 - my reason for picking them has to be better than because I'm a massive fan boy of said person. That's enough rules - this is supposed to be punk after all. (This links into Christmas because people sit around the table and eat dinner at Christmas).

Joey Ramone
Picking just one deceased person was easy but also quite difficult at the same time. Of course there was Joe Strummer from The Clash but there was also Joey Ramone's band mates Johnny, Dee Dee and Tommy who all would be welcome round my dinner table, if there weren't any rules. I went for Joey above all the other legends for one reason - I've read a lot about Joey Ramone over the years and he seems like just the sweetest guy. Being a poster boy for this new thing named punk rock back in the 70s, Joey won over the hearts of angry youths all over the world with his, at the time, unorthodox approach to singing. It is not commonly known that Joey Ramone suffered with quite severe OCD. I'm intrigued to know how hard that made touring in a band, especially someone who was rumoured to be a strict drill sergeant in band mate Johnny Ramone and if it caused a strain in the relationships in the band.

Ryan Greene
Think about your favourite punk rock album from the 1990s, chances are that it was produced by Ryan Greene at his legendary Motor Studios. He must have some amazing stories from hanging out in the studio with bands such as NOFX, Lagwagon, Nerf Herder, No Use For A Name, Me First & The Gimme Gimmes, Good Riddance, Pulley, Propaghandhi, Strung Out, The Dickies and many, many more! I'd love to know what it was like to be the man behind the scenes for some of the biggest and best punk bands ever during a massive explosion in the world of punk rock. What was it like to work with these bands? Were any particularly difficult to work with? Who were the best musicians? Has he ever been completely wrong about a band? Favourite album he has ever produced? So many questions to ask someone who doesn't get anywhere near enough credit for the role he played in the development of punk rock.

Bill Stevenson
John William Stevenson, better known to the world as Bill Stevenson, has got to be one of the most important and influential figures in punk rock music in history. Starting his musical career with the Descendents in the late 70s, Bill was the main songwriter and drummer for the band until 1987 when Milo left. The rest of the Descendents decided to form the band ALL who went on to have a successful and storied career themselves. He has also played drums for a little known band named Black Flag. That's a very impressive looking resume right there but Bill has spent a lot of time over the past decade working as a producer at his Blasting Room Studios in Colorado. There he has worked with a who's who of bands including The Bouncing Souls, NOFX, Rise Against, The Suicide Machines, Alkaline Trio, Mustard Plug and Frenzal Rhomb to name but a few. What a life he has lead, Bill has a tale to tell.

Mikey Erg
Sometimes I feel like that if you were too mention any band it would seem like Mikey Erg has played in it. Obviously most famous for playing in The Ergs where he was the lead singer and drummer, he has also played with The Unlovables, Star Fucking Hipsters, The Dopamines, Pale Angels, For Science, Dirt Bike Annie, The Steinways, House Boat and Worriers - plus he has also worked as a solo artist. What a workload and a hectic schedule the man must have. He must be constantly either on tour or in a recording studio. Where does one man get such a work ethic from? Does he ever want to stop all the travelling and settle down? Did he always plan on living a life on the road? What's the hardest thing about it? Has he ever turned any bands down and are there any he'd love to be a part of?

James Bowman
Against Me! guitarist and back-up singer, James Bowman, is one of the most underrated musicians in punk rock. Not only is he a fantastic guitarist but he has a great singing voice. Being a long time member of one of the most talked about bands of our time, you have to imagine that Bowman has some stories to tell. I'm most intrigued to know about his reaction to Laura Jane Grace's coming out - his initial thoughts and did he ever consider quitting the band? The differences in his life now compared to before the coming out. Has he ever thought of starting a solo project or a new band where he's the lead? I've always felt like James Bowman deserves a lot of credit for sticking by his friend during what must have been a very difficult time in her life as well as Bowman's.

Who would you invite to your punk rock dinner party?