So I saw on TMZ.com today that old school punker Casey Royer was arrested last week in Orange County after he OD’d on heroin in front of his 12-year-old son. Apparently he was babysitting his son when he OD’d.
Dumb ass. I feel sorry for the kid.
A few years ago I was lucky enough to interview Royer for Blogcritics.org. No, we did not share needles….
It’s actually kind of sad as he stated in the interview I did with him that he “wised up” when I asked about drug addiction. Read on if you would like, I really enjoyed interviewing this guy. He has a ton to say and held nothing back. I hope he gets out of his funk.
Remember when punk was not glorified and when the scene was almost forbidden?
I know it may come to you as quite a surprise, but punk has come a long way over the past 20 years. A lot of bands today credit the founders of the genre many feared when first created. D.I. was there when punk was growing. You may have never heard of them but I can tell you this, they are punk.
I had the opportunity to chat with Casey Royer, the founder of the punk band D.I. and also the only remaining member of the twenty something year old band. He was also once of the original members of Social Distortion, bet you did not know that. (If you did, props to you.)
Here lead vocalist Casey Royer takes some time to give me some excellent answers to some questions I have been pondering since I first put D.I.’s latest release On The Western Front into my CD player.
Where have you guys been? And what have you been doing to keep occupied throughout the years?
We haven’t toured internationally since the mid ’90s so, never breaking up, we’ve been playing west coast shows solely. All the members, past and present of D.I. are still based in Orange County [California]. To keep occupied, I surf, play music, and try to set a good example in this confused world.
We also did a Monster Garage episode with the awesome Jessie James; whose favorite band is D.I. We played the Song “O.C. Life” while Jessie Built a Flying Car. As well as [featuring a song in] Tony Hawks Skate Video 2.
You’re one of the pioneers of the 80’s punk rock movement, what obstacles got in your way throughout the years?
Early on, our parents and teachers thought we were freaks, a dangerous sub-culture that was consuming the children, us. Then, the police battling punk by arresting as many people as they could for any violation they could think of. Then the pop-punk movement that ignored the old school punk style with punk looks but soft musical context.
I know Mike Ness [Social Distortion] suffered with a drug addiction that almost
ended his career; did you incur any experiences like this?
When Mike and I made up Social Distortion in 1976/77, in my bedroom at my parent’s house, pretty much all of us were experimenting with drugs. Luckily, I didn’t hit rock bottom before I wised up. My advice… hard drugs will ruin you and your music, unless you live in Amsterdam. Then you will write good music, but die young.
What brought you to disband Social Distortion? Was it really because of original guitarist Dennis Danell’s inability to play?
Mike and I were jamming for a couple years with bass player, Mark Garrett (RIP), with Rikk Agnew on guitar, and Tom Corvin singing. With a couple personnel changes, Mike wanted Dennis to play guitar. Dennis didn’t know how to play guitar, Rikk and I played well and were ready to play gigs, so we joined the Adolescents when Tony Adolescent asked.
So did you leave Social Distortion to pursue the Adolescents?
You have to understand, no one really was famous or trying to achieve rock and roll fame, so the decisions we made were pretty off the wall. A total disconnected new world that we ruled. Mike and I split up and I became the singer of S.D. for about a year with some early D.I. guys in 78. Even though Mike and I were the first S.D. I did make up the name so I went with it. I broke up S.D. and formed the Adolescents with Rikk Agnew. A new S.D. with Dennis Dannel (RIP), Brent Lyles RIP, (replaced by John Mauer) came about in 79; Social Distortion II… A whole new chapter.
What was it like growing up in the OC [Orange County, California] when punk rock was just starting to rise?
I was a junior in high school and it was the coolest movement you could ever imagine. A bunch of creative, upper-middle class, wasted youth terrorizing southern California. All of our parents had good jobs, living the American Dream, a perfect medium to facilitate a bunch of wild kids to do their thing. Hiding behind the middle-class facade with our parents in denial.
How was D.I. conceived?
A friend of mine, Steve Roberts and I jammed the first D.I. music at a place called Brea Beach in 1980. It didn’t re-surface for a few years after, when we practiced behind the pawn shop.
Have you worked with any other bands over the years?
Yea, I played in Agent Orange for a summer at the Hong Kong Café in Chinatown, Los Angeles. Also, Slayer covered a couple songs I wrote, “Richard Hung Himself” and “Spiritual Law”.
What kind of music are you most into?
Classic punk and a little classic rock.
How did you hook up with Suburban Noize records?
I’ve known Brad X and Lou-Dogg since the late 70’s when they were in a punk band called Doggeystyle. We have run into each other periodically throughout the years. When Daddy X heard that we had a new CD available, he immediately came to us with a deal. Knowing Brad personally, like a brother, I felt that it was our duty to join the ranks of Suburban Noize. I feel, even though we have different styles of music, we both
have the same beliefs and convey the same concepts.
You’ve done a couple of songs with the Kottonmouth Kings in the past, any plans on collaborating with KMK again?
We did some tracks on their recent release, Cloud Nine. The future… ? Who knows the sky’s the limit
Any plans for a tour in support for the new release?
Yes, of course. We plan to tour the US, Europe, or anywhere else they’d let us play. We’ve toured Europe a few times before, and have always received great response.
What’s it like being in the scene for over 20 years? How do you feel about the punk scene today?
It’s kind of weird, punk used to be fresh, dangerous, and violent, then it turned trendy and fashionable with watered down music and lyrics. The true old-school hard core still lingered underground in a non-popular, powerful way only to re-surface 20 years later. Weird.
In the 80’s punk movie Suburbia, you played “Richard Hung Himself” an Adolescent cover. Who’s idea was it for you guys to cover that song?
First of all, “Richard Hung Himself” is and always will be a D.I. song. I wrote the song while I was playing drums for the Adolescents. We never played it live and it wasn’t released on vinyl until 2006. Let me put it this way, in the Adolescents, we played the song for 20 minutes, twice. D.I. has played it for 20 years.
What was it like being behind the camera? Was it more improv or a live show? Was there a lot of takes of your performance during filming?
It was easy being behind camera because they told us all to just be ourselves. There was a script for all the parts in the movie, but all actors and band members fell victim to improv. They shot our performance about 2 or 3 times during filming.
What’s it like to play the movie at home and see yourself on screen as a young punker?
The same as it was when I saw it for the first time. I feel I have never had the chance to grow up and look at myself as old. Being a punk rock singer has locked me into a 20-25 year age bracket, and I can’t get out.
On you latest release On The Western Front, is the song “Punk Rock Suicide” about anyone in particular?
The song is about all the musicians who have given their lives to their musical scene with no regard to their social stature or political persecution. When we lost the Ramones, Joe Strummer, Sid Vicious, Dennis Danell, Brent Lyles, and so many other great artists of the underground, it makes one realize that we don’t seem to appreciate true dedication.
They will be missed but never forgotten.
How long did it take you and crew to record On The Western
About a year. We hop-scotched all over Los Angeles and Orange County, drum tracks in one studio, guitar tracks in a different studio, vocals, mixing, I’ve gone cross-eyed.
Will D.I. continue to put out new material?
Yes and a lot of it. We already working on the next CDand we’re having the best times of our lives. With Clinton Calton, guitar; Eddie Tatar, bass; Joe Tatar, drums; and Chicken on guitar, I feel we have the potential to go further than any punk band has gone before. And with Suburban Noize behind us, nothing can stop us. Check it out… www.diunderground.com.
Ok, now this is just kick ass…