White Punks on Warner Bros. 

The not-so-covert mainstreaming of Rancid.

Page 5 of 7

In any event, any suggestion that Rancid was a hyper-indie outfit up to this point is pushing it. Epitaph isn't exactly run out of someone's garage, and the band itself jumped into the mainstream when the '90s punk boom blew up, with mainstream radio play, a Saturday Night Live appearance, and countless magazine spreads. The band's latest endeavors feel like a natural progression. The MTV2-rotated "Fall Back Down" video features Armstrong and Frederiksen hanging out with Kelly Osbourne and the Good Charlotte twins -- hardly classmates of the Gilman school of punk rock. Armstrong also enjoyed massive success with last year's side project the Transplants, whose piano-driven radio hit "Diamonds and Guns" currently provides the background for a shampoo TV commercial. Rancid has hardly remained underground. As such, it's worth noting that the Bay Area punk underground signed off on Rancid years ago.

"Do they have any importance or do they matter at all to the Bay Area punk scene?" MAXIMUMROCKNROLL's Thorn asks. "No. They abandoned the punk scene a long time ago. They don't support the underground. They're not involved. They don't go to punk shows. They don't go to Gilman. They don't go to warehouse shows. They went off to the land of trying to be on MTV. They kissed ass and sucked up to the mainstream media."

When it comes to indie or mainstream, you truly can't have it both ways, says Martin Sorrondeguy, frontman for the vastly influential Spanish-speaking hardcore band Los Crudos and head of the Santa Ana indie label Lengua Armada. "You can't come from the outside as a big band and penetrate this whole DIY world," he says. "When you leave, you're done, you've closed the door. There's this thing about trust. You break a lot of that, so people aren't open to it."

Sorrondeguy doesn't use contracts when he works with bands because, he says, his relationships are based on trust, which along with transparency is the key to Gilman-style punk's path of independence. That independence, Thorn insists, is lost to Rancid forever.

"The opportunity was handed to them to be on MTV and do all this sort of stuff, and they kind of got caught up in the mainstream music industry," Thorn explains. "They took it. They've been gone for a while, from having any real significance in the Bay Area underground music scene.

"In all honesty, it bums me out to see this progression. From being in Operation Ivy and being a band that was very, very uneasy about the aspects of getting famous, which was the reason why they broke up because they couldn't deal with their popularity, to a band that would totally go for broke and absolutely embraces every aspect of rock star-ism."

Dan Sinker raises another good question: why now? As Punk Planet editor, the major/independent question still matters to him: Like 924 Gilman, the publication ascribes to a "no major" policy, refusing to interview or review major-label bands.

At Rancid's mid-'90s peak, a major label deal might've pushed the band even higher, but a strong push from Warner Bros. -- which doesn't seem to be happening yet, given Indestructible's relatively slight promotion -- could hardly guarantee additional success now. "To be honest, I don't think it's as important now as it would have been when Rancid almost signed after Let's Go came out," Sinker says. "I don't really think anyone expects Rancid to blow up the way that they would have during their heyday. Now I see a major signing a band like Rancid not to turn out a big hit, but as a name to add to their 'legacy' roster of acts that younger bands look up to. It's an investment for the label in their future because it sweetens the pot to sign some young and eager punk band that wants to be on the same label as Rancid. They don't expect the return to come from Rancid, but from the bands that will look at the label differently because Rancid is on it."

As for the Gilman punk ideal, that'll live on without Rancid, Thorn says: "In reality, shows are still going to happen at Gilman. People are still going to do shows in warehouses. Bands are still going to book their own tours."

Maybe this jump to a major doesn't matter, but that's only because to the scene that birthed the band in the first place, Rancid hasn't mattered for a long time. In sacrificing its Gilman roots, Rancid may have gotten wider exposure, but whether the band truly thinks it made a good deal is anyone's guess.


Rancid fans duke it out online.

We all know where the true punk rockers live: on the Internet. News of Rancid's Warner Bros. deal absolutely lit up PunkNews.org, inspiring nearly a thousand posts in angry -- and elated, and confused, and profane, and disoriented -- reply. So what do the kids really think? Here are a few typical reactions.


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