"White Punks on Warner Bros.," Feature, 11/5
Up the punx
I read the Rancid article and wanted to throw my two cents in. I've been a huge Rancid fan since I was about eleven years old. The entire time I've been a Rancid fan, people have dissed them, called them sellouts, or talked whatever kinda nonsense bullshit they wanted about Rancid, and I've backed them, whether or not I agreed with the moves they made that generated these comments.
Your article seems like a pretty deliberate slag against Rancid. You make it seem as though Mike Thorn (MAXIMUM ROCKNROLL) is some kinda spokesman for the Bay Area underground music scene, when in actuality he's just a spokesman for MAXIMUMROCKNROLL, which has always been nothing more than a forum for elitist know-it-all scenesters (like the ones you'd find if you actually WENT to a show at Gilman) to slag successful acts and often print deliberate lies about them, like calling the Misfits, the Exploited, and Agnostic Front Nazis in the '80s. How have Rancid abandoned the underground??? By pulling as many of their friends' bands into the spotlight with them as possible? And when did they stop going to shows? I've seen the members (mainly Lars) at several shows they weren't playing at, and he's never taken a rock-star tone toward me in a conversation.
I will admit, Rancid's done a lot of things that confused me. Signing to Warner Bros. would be no exception, seeing as how they did make such a big deal about staying indie. I can recall Lars' speech before they played the Warped Tour in SF in 2001 -- "You ready for some punk rock? Some independent label punk rock? ... We never signed to a major label, we don't have a manager or none of that. FUCK THAT CORPORATE ROCK SHIT!" But I always thought the emphasis on record labels was annoying and irrelevant anyway. It's like "Shut up and play the fucking song!!!" Who cares how the music gets out there as long as it's good? I would appreciate an explanation as a loyal Rancid fan of almost ten years, but I doubt I'll get one and I don't care. As long as they're still good live and don't act like dicks toward me when I approach them in public, fuck it.
Up the punx.
Eric Charles, Newark
Punk journalism? Now there's a concept
Last Thursday, for the first time, I picked up a copy of the Express. I saw the picture of Lars, Tim, and Matt and the article "White Punks on Warner Bros.," which got my interest immediately. I was expecting to read either a pop mainstream article praising a newly found talent, or an overtly antiestablishment rant for the sake of ranting, or an insecure feeling of abandonment. Instead, I was blown away by the extremely well-informed, comprehensive, and fair synopsis of Rancid's recent industry strata shift.
Rancid's afflicting manner and streamline of thought and message have inspired me, and George Sanchez' article is laudable at least. He expressed/developed a few opinions that could have come from someone who had been a part of the band since Op Ivy. So many times I hear, read, or gather opinions of those bearing the ironically conformed "Punk School of Thought" that bears so much pretension -- it's caustic.
You guys should increase George Sanchez' salary before Rolling Stone gets him. But, then again, that would be too corporate.
I am now a reader of the Express.
Mark Conolly, Berkeley
Free Gina Arnold!
Rancid, whether they're on Epitaph, Hellcat, or Warner, are still Rancid. They do what they do, they do it well, and best of luck to them. The label thing? A mountain out of a molehill -- Tim and Matt have put in their time, and Lars has a debilitating spinal disease; why shouldn't they embrace the comfort of a major label? They're not getting any younger, and I doubt there's a pension plan for aged punk rockers. Someone tell that to the scenesters at Gilman Street before they start pointing their fingers -- the place gets older, but it just doesn't grow up.
As for the piece's author: Gina Arnold, whether she's writing as George B. Sanchez or George B. Chavez, is still Gina Arnold. Hypocrisy indeed! A better story would be why the Express is printing her under a byline. I have mixed feelings about Gina. Her style is crisp, and smart, but her facts are always half-assed -- her articles are well-constructed trainwrecks. Is Kelly Osbourne really in the "Fall Back Down" video? I doubt it -- I didn't see it. Classic Gina, name-dropping to fill in a blank. Did Tim Armstrong really have a heroin habit? I don't think he's publicly stated so. He's always used the term "addicted," and I think his biggest problem was with alcohol. Furthermore, half of this article sounds familiar -- as though it were rehashed from a previous article on Rancid, one in which she got Op Ivy drummer Dave Mello's name wrong. Check out how she names the four members of Operation Ivy and then calls the band a quintet. Another blown factoid: Tim and Matt graduated high school in 1984, so Tim would've been 23 when Op Ivy disbanded. Dyslexia and poor grades had shit to do with his decline. Who made that one up?
Sheckie Buzzkill, Berkeley (no, not my real name, but everyone else has something to hide, so why shouldn't I do it, too!)
GEORGE B. SANCHEZ RESPONDS
That the East Bay Express erred by printing a common Spanish surname instead of my own and did not apologize to readers or myself is disappointing. That I could stir up the anger and resentment once reserved for Ms. Arnold is a compliment. That a Loyola kid from back in the day read the story is dope.