GOOD RIDDANCE gehören zu den Bands die mich schon seit meinem sechzehnten Lebensjahr begeistern und bewegen, so dass ich äußerst gespannt war mich am 23. März in der Münsteraner Sputnikhalle mit Sänger Russ Rankin zu unterhalten, der sich als nicht sehr einfacher, jedoch als überaus interessanter Gesprächspartner entpuppte. Russ schien sehr lange über seine Antworten nachzudenken und sie somit häufig auf ein Minimum zu reduzieren. Im Gegensatz zu Interviewpartnern die auf ein Stichwort hin gleich ihre Lebensgeschichte herunterbeten gab sich der GOOD RIDDANCE Sänger eher etwas wortkarg. Letztendlich war mir ein Punk Rocker jedoch ohnehin lieber als ein Presseprofi und wer sich mit den Texten von GOOD RIDDANCE beschäftigt weiß auch, dass dieser Mann eine ganze Menge zu sagen hat und im Prinzip die Musik durchaus für sich selber sprechen lassen kann. Es hat eine Menge Spaß gemacht das Interview zu führen und nach den beiden Standardfragen zu Anfang etwas mehr über Russ und dessen Ansichten zu erfahren.
Münster is the last stop of this tour. How was it?
Awesome. Really good! We went to Budapest, where weve never been before. That was cool. We did a lot more Eastern European countries, we did not go to England, we usually go to England. We played Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovania...awesome.
Youre going to release a new album in Summer. What do we have to expect from that?
In June. Fourteen songs, a good progression from the last two, I think. It sounds like old California punk rock to me, like T.S.O.L., ADOLESCENTS, kind of like that. Melodic but its not happy. Its good, were really stoked on it.
Speaking of bands like T.S.O.L or the ADOLESCENTS, I am really interested in how people get involved with punk rock and how you got involved with punk rock. I mean theres probably one generation between us...
Right, right... Somebody played me the Dead Kennedys and then I was all over into that.
And that was probably like more than twenty years ago?
So what do you think of punk rock today? Is it still a subculture or is it totally co-opted by the industry?
I think it is a little bit of both.
So what do you think about the co-opted side? Is it destroying what you thought punk rock would be?
Yeah, I think so. But at the same time what I think really doesnt matter. I mean what happens is going to happen. Theres nothing I could do about it. I feel bad that something that meant so much to me is a commodity and is now used in...like Taco Bell commercials. But, yeah, theres nothing I could do about it.
How do you feel about your shows? When I went to my first punk rock show that was probably a completely different experience from when you went to your first punk rock show. I had the impression that it was just a bunch of highschool kids who got their moms car to get to the venue and check out a band...
So what was the differnce for you? I mean there was hardly any chance of a riot at my first show...
Yeah, it was a lot different when I started going to shows. I mean the clubs all were in the bad part of town, you didnt tell your parents you were going, you snuck out, there was all sorts of characters, and possibilities of violance and police. Now its different. In some ways that is good. I mean its safe...no ones probably gonna be stabbed tonight and thats good...
I have read that you still listen to bands like BLACK FLAG or the ADOLESCENTS...
I do. Theres nothing better for me.
I got into that kind of music at a later point in time but i still really appreciate to listen to these bands...
I think that is important. One of my biggest complaints about the culture industry co-opting punk rock is that it has limited punk rock to a very narrow margin of bands at a moment in time. Where before, when the industry was telling us that like WHITE SNAKE or BON JOVI were the good bands, and in meantime we were listening to MINOR THREAT, like that was cool because you got a whole history of music and it wasnt just a band that was shoved down your throat that day, it was a whole history of music you could listen to, and each band was as cool as the next. I think thats one of the things thats lost, and I would encourage anybody who is interested in this kind of music today - even if theyre very young and they only know about todays bands - to listen to THE GERMS, to X, to BLACK FLAG, to the ADOLESCENTS...big boys, you know. All those bands...because one of my favorite things about punk rock is its history and how it developed and how it grew...kind of like jazz. And to think that, just because Alternative Press came out or just because now theres punk bands on MTV, to think that means that punk only started like two years ago...I think its wrong! I think its fine to like who you like. If people like bands that are popular right now thats fine but I would hate to see that history gets lost.
Can you be popular and still credible?
You totally can! But its gonna vary. People are always gonna have their opinion. No matter what you do, its never gonna be good enough for somebody. I mean we, our band, we stayed on an independent label, we donate money to organizations that we feel strongly about, we play benefit concerts, but still...like, our T-shirts cost too much or the show costs too much to get in...somebodys gonna find something to say, Youre not good enough. Weve given up trying to please everybody. I feel good about our band, I feel good about our legacy, I dont have any complaints, I think its hard or I would imagine it to be hard to be on a major label and at the same time promoting anti-established theories...I think it would be difficult. But since Im not on a major label, I dont know. But I think that RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE for instance, they have great lyrics. But I thought that the impact of their lyrics and the message it could have had was marginalized to a great extent by the fact that they were on a major label. Thats what I think. Thats my opinion.
Speaking of RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE, I just read that their former lead singer was asked to join the BAD BRAINS for some kind of reunion or so... What do you think about that? What do you think about reunion shows?
I dont really like them. There should always be bands that you never get to see. Each generation has those bands. I mean, it seems to me that the East Coast bands always get back together and the West Coast bands never do but, you know, every band has got to do what it has go to do and Im not gonna ever judge somebody. A lot of bands like LIFETIME or KID DYNAMITE, both got together initially only to play benefits concerts for good causes, but now LIFETIME, they might actually write new records...but something good might come out of it, even better than getting together for a benefit.
You talked about the legacy of your band. What would you think or what would you hope this might be?
That we had honest music and were able to touch peoples lives in a hopefully positive way. If a person listens to our songs, feels better about themselves or the world or feels empowered or is compelled to become active socially or politically or change their lives in a positive way. Basically, if any of the things that bands have done to me, if we could do that to somebody else then I think thats awesome.
After so many years, what does the name GOOD RIDDANCE stand for in your opinion? What was the original thought behind it?
Oh, we just thought it sounded likea good punk rock name.
I read the name before GOOD RIDDANCE was BUNCH OF SKATE PUNKS or something like that...?
Well, the guys I first started yamming with, that was what they were called before. But there is a lot of misinformation out there about GOOD RIDDANCE. Id say that GOOD RIDDANCE started about 1991 or 92. Luke joined the band and he and I decided that we wanted to be serious. Before that I was playing with guys who were not really serious, everybody was in everybody elses band. So 1991, 1992...early nineties, Luke and I started. We wanted to write our own material; we wanted to play out of town, be like a working band. We started looking for bass players.
Growing up in a town like Santa Cruz, California, what do you think...what kind of impact did that environment have on you and your music?
Growing up in California is like all mixed together. Surfing, skateboarding and punk rock...like Thrasher Magazine, I grew up reading Thrasher Magazine and Skateboarder and there was always sections about bands. Lots of times, if you had subscribed to Thrasher theyd send you free records of other bands. Wed go skating in a skatepark and one of the kids would bring a boombox and punk rock tapes. That was the first time I heard FLIPPER and a bunch of other bands...yeah, its all sort of intertwined in California: surfing, skateboarding and punk rock.
Ok, thank you very much. Do you have anything else to say? Any last words?
I just want to thank anyone who supported our band over the years.
By the way, is the new album connected with a donation to PETA again?
There is no donation, but the new album is gonna be an enhanced CD. Its gonna have live footage on it, also a full length feature called Meet your Meat by PETA, narrated by Alec Baldwin...thats whats gonna be on the new album.
Ok, thank you very much!