Social Distortion is fundamental to the generation of American punk rock that exploded in the early 80's. For the past two decades, the band has unleashed its brand of punk rock on the world. Live At The Roxy captures the energy and passion that has sustained the band's entire career.
Each of the 17 tracks on Live At The Roxy has a special place in Social D's history. Looking back over 17 years, Mike Ness talks about the songs included on the album...
Story of My Life, from Social Distortion (1990)
"I wrote this song in 1989. It really touches on my high school years. I was one of five punk rockers in the school, in the minority. The song also reflects on what it was like growing up where I did. There are a lot of good memories but the worst part of my life was spent there. Seeing the house I grew up in for sale, the park I played in, the city jail, the methadone clinic - it's not a bad thing, just very haunting."
Bad Luck, from Somewhere Between Heaven & Hell (1992)
"I wrote this song for Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell. Don't you know someone who always seems to have bad luck? Someone who thinks everything is always bad. Really without some sort of calamity they don't know what to do. They seem to attract negativity - it just gravitates to them."
Under My Thumb, from Mainliner (1995) also White Light, White Heat, White
"This song is chauvinistic and about control. But from an ego standpoint, if there can be any victory out of a heartbreak, then why not control? Nobody wants to be the loser... No really, Under My Thumb is one of those songs that you wish you wrote. My musical background is the Stones, David Bowie, and the glitter music of the 70's, all before I heard the Sex Pistols. Throughout the years, Social Distortion has tried to defy certain stereotypes of punk music and we've brought elements of roots rock and roll to punk. Punk music is class music like blues or country; it's music that exposes the soul."
Prison Bound, from Prison Bound (1988)
"Prison Bound was written hand in hand with No Pain No Gain. It wonders what if things had been different. I had tested fate and had been lucky in the judicial system. Most of my friends either ended up in jail or dead - anyone of them could have been me. I imagined myself on the bus to jail, going to the state facility, telling everyone I'll be back."
Mommy's Little Monster, from Mommy's Little Monster (1983)
"As a song writer, I am a reactionary. Everything I write about is in reaction to life around me. This song is the result of growing up the way that I wanted to, not the way I was told I had to. Back in 1982 when I wrote the song, the media was calling us a menace to society, us punk rockers. They were telling us we couldn't play this kind of music and that we couldn't look the way that we did and that the movement was going to die. We told them over our dead bodies. This song represents a dissatisfaction about the way things were. And you know what? We're still not satisfied."
Mass Hysteria, from Mainliner (1995)
"This an old one, written back in 1982. It's similar in theme to 1945. It's written from the perspective of a disgruntled worker, or any disconnented person in general. It's the sniper on the roof, making a headline news story. When you see something like that in the news you realize that it could be you. At certain times, we've all felt like being the sniper."
The Creeps, from Mommy's Little Monster (1983)
"Dennis and I wrote this song in 1981. It's about the two of us roaming the streets of Orange County and encountering a less than receptive community. It was their attitude that fueled our anti-socialism. We were like if this bothers you...wait till you see us tomorrow."
Another State Of Mind, from Mommy's Little Monster (1983)
"I think this was our first love song. I wrote it on our first tour while they were filming the movie. Basically it's about the way that you feel out on the road being away from home, friends, and family. On that tour we had no money and we were really road doggin' it. It's romantic, a love song to someone at home who stood by you."
Let It Be Me, from Social Distortion (1990)
"I'm a hopeless romantic and Let It Be Me is also a love song. It's about risk taking and let the walls down and trying at a relationship with someone. I wrote it around the time of Ball and Chain."
No Pain No Gain, from Prison Bound (1988)
"I wrote this song in 1988. It was soon after I had cleaned up and I was beginning to realize that now I was going to have to experience feelings for the first time in my life. I found out that pain is good and extreme pain is extremely good. If the best lessons in life are painful, then pain is inevitable."
Cold Feelings, from Somewhere Between Heaven & Hell (1992)
"Music was my first drug of choice. The reason why I gravitated towards music was so I could run from my feelings. It allowed me to escape the pain of a heartbreak or loved one dying. Eventually, I learned music could be the perfect outlet. Music is now a true form of self-expression for me."
Telling Them, from Mommy's Little Monster (1983)
"This song has the same theme as Mommy's Little Monster, "us against them." Back then if you weren't willing to fight for what you wanted, then it wasn't going to happen. Society's reaction to punk rock was volatile and 70% of the time we were reacting to society's actions. All we were trying to do was make music, art, and style...we weren't out to invade their homes or molest their daughters. Somehow we were a threat to mainstream ideals. We threatened masculinity, morals, values, and standards. This song was to tell them that we weren't going anywhere."
I Was Wrong, from White Light, White Heat, White Trash (1996)
"I wrote this song back in 1995 during some time I spent in New York. Looking back at my life I've found that while I fought hard to keep certain ideals intact, others ended up being false. Later in life, I found out a lot of things were just fucking false promises. But what I also realized is that blaming society isn't always the right answer. This song is about looking at where I was wrong. There are times in my life when I have been an asshole and this song owns up to that. A lot of times you don't just destroy your own life, you destroy everything around you, going through other people's lives like a tornado."
1945, from Rodney on The Roq, Vol. 2 (1981) and Mainliner (1995)
"I wrote this one in History class at continuation school in 1980, just before I dropped out. I wanted to write a song from a soldiers perspective. We are taught to protect our country but we know so little of what is really going on, like dropping the bomb. It seems odd to me that at the same time that we were stopping the Germans from wiping out a whole race, we were trying to obliterate the Japanese."
Don't Drag Me Down, from White Light, White Heat, White Trash (1996)
"This is a song about ignorance and racism and the astounding fact that it still exists. This song is also about the government cover-ups and lies. When I hear the truth about our forefathers, I'm ashamed. They don't mention in school that our forefathers exterminated a whole Native American race. I experience discrimination all the time. I know what it's like be discriminated against - being seated in the back of a restaurant because of my tattoos. Its cruel but people still judge you by the way that you look and I am reminded daily that commercial and mainstream ideals are quite different from my own."
Ball & Chain, from Social Distortion, self-titled (1990)
"Ball & Chain is a folk prayer. When you've gotten to a point so far beyond what you thought you were capable of and you can't take it anymore, you have to surrender. It's asking God to take me out of this hell and point me in a new way. I wrote this song in 1988, three years after I cleaned up. Everything that had happened to me, facing a prison term, nearly dying twice a week, and the unbearable loneliness were all still fresh in my mind. But it is a song for the listener. Everyone has their own ball & chain - it's completely individual."
Ring of Fire, from Social Distortion, self-titled (1990)
"Ring of Fire is another one of those songs that you wish you had written...but you didn't. When I choose a song to cover, it usually starts with me singing the song in my dining room for a few months and it's usually one that I love. I try to make it mine. This is a strong love song. Love is so powerful. It can be a burning light or just like burning hell."
"We just tried to pick some of our favorite songs that cover the entire spectrum of our career...and we're very sorry that we forgot Sick Boy." - Mike Ness
MIKE NESS (GUITAR, VOCALS)
JOHN MAURER (BASS)
CHUCK BISCUITS (DRUMS)
Album: Mommy's Little Monster
Album: Prison Bound
Album: Lost Tracks Vol. 2
Album: Mainliner (Wreckage Of The Past)
Album: Sex, Love and Rock 'n' Roll
Album: Social Distortion
Album: Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell
Album: White Light, White Heat, White Trash
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