Killer Clowns

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Posted July 1, 2010 in Music

Alright, kids, summertime is here and for the clusters of mohawked miscreants in Southern California that can only mean one thing: tons of great punk shows coming to the region. For IE fans, the Vans Warped Tour hits Pomona in August, but for those eager to get their mosh on right now, the Fox Theater will be more than happy to oblige with an offering of grizzled, old school delights that’ll have you reaching for your Subhumans black T.

 

Dubbed “Punk in the Fox,” this all-day punk rock juggernaut will be headlined by legendary English punk band The Adicts. These Clockwork Orange themed pioneers will be ripping up the stage alongside worthy opening acts such as The Briggs, skate-punk hooligans Angry Samoans (You remember the classic ditty “They Saved Hitler’s Cock,” right?), OC mainstays Agent Orange and, arguably, one of the very first punk bands to spawn from the L.A./ San Fernando Valley/Hollywood area, The Dickies.

 

The Weekly got a chance to speak with Dickies’ founding guitar player Stan Lee after the band had wrapped up the Ventura date of the Warped Tour this past Sunday. This show featured the Old School Punk Stage and showcased the veteran talents (aside from The Dickies) The Adolescents, GBH, The Casualties, Swingin‘ Utters and Fear. 

 

“The Dickies basically formed after our bass player went to England and brought back some records,” Lee says over the phone from Ventura. “It was the summer of  ’77 and I got some records by The Clash and The Damned. Then we started up a band in a little garage in Van Nuys. After I heard The Ramones and Weirdoes—that was it. I was in for life.”

 

And while there were tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of punks active during the scene’s heyday, there were only about 100 or so people that actually made up underground punk’s inner circle, according to Lee.

 

“We played all over Hollywood, The Masque, lots of places that are now closed,” he says. “But we also did an occasional show in Long Beach, South Bay OC or even sometimes Riverside or Pomona. [editor’s note: Even sometimes Riverside or Pomona? Where’s the love, Stan?] The real punks who started the scene out here were The Germs, the Weirdoes and the Dills, along with us and other bands.”

 

The Dickies were the clown princes of punks, offering up a campy, comedy inclined repertoire—which has included hyper-velocity covers of songs like the Moody Blues’ “Nights in White Satin” and writing and performing the theme music to 1988 cult-classic Killer Klowns From Outer Space.

 

When it comes to the band’s current live shows, Lee says he’s always pleasantly surprised that hundreds of younger fans know the lyrics to Dickies songs.

 

“I don’t know how that works; I guess it’s the Internet?” Lee declares, jokingly. “But the shows were great. We had a blast at each show, especially [at the Home Depot Center] in Carson on the first day [of the Warped Tour], when we were late and they let us play last!

 

And, sure, you can dwell on the past—they were the first L.A. area punk band to score a major-label deal in 1978 and allegedly the first to make a network television appearance—but Lee says that there’s something to be said about the scene nowadays.

 

“It’s more fun to play now, but the only difference between playing now and playing in the ’80s was about 20 pounds,” he says. “Plus, it’s cool to see a lot of kids show up and know our tunes now. It’s not just the old school guys from back in the day.”

 

The band will have ample opportunity to showcase said old-school chops for the “Punk at the Fox” event.

 

“That’s going to be such a fun show,” says Lee. “We’ve played with all those bands. The Adicts are great, fun guys to hang out with, and we know Agent Orange and just played with Angry Samoans—we can’t wait!” 

 

And while Green Day and the like sell millions of albums and sell out arenas, The Dickies’ pioneering legacy continues to resonate. And still being able to play live and make a living doing shows, well, that’s not too shabby either.

 

“I also want people to know that we’re still doing it having fun—and it sure beats flipping burgers for a living,” Lee says.

Punk in the Fox” w/The Dickies, The Adicts, The Briggs and more at Fox Pomona Theater, 301 S. Garey Ave., Pomona; www.foxpomona.com, www.thedickies.com. Sat, July 3. Doors open 4PM. $25. All ages.


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