Social Distortion

Social Distortion

Infobox musical artist |
Name = Social Distortion

Img_capt =
Background = group_or_band
Alias = Social D
Origin = Fullerton, CA, U.S.
Instrument =
Genre = Punk rock
Hardcore punk
Alternative rock [ [ Social Distortion at Allmusic] ] |Years_active = 1978–1985
Label = 13th Floor Records
Posh Boy Records
Restless Records (1988–1989)
Epic Records (1989–1997)
Time Bomb Recordings (1997–present)
Associated_acts = The Adolescents
Agent Orange
Operation Ivy
The Lewd
URL = [ Official Website]
Current_members = Mike Ness
Jonny "2 Bags" Wickersham
Brent Harding
Charlie Quintana
Past_members = Dennis Danell (deceased)
Rikk Agnew
Frank Agnew
Tim Maag
Brent Liles (deceased)
John Maurer
Matt Freeman
Casey Royer
Bob Stubbs
Chris Reece
Randy Carr (deceased)
Deen Castronovo
Chuck Biscuits
Derek O'Brien

Social Distortion (sometimes referred to simply as Social D) is an American punk rock band formed in 1978 in Fullerton, Orange County, California. The band currently consists of Mike Ness (vocals, guitars), Jonny Wickersham (guitars), Brent Harding (bass) and Charlie Quintana (drums). They are often credited as one of the leading bands of the 1980s hardcore punk explosion.

The group briefly disbanded in 1985, due to frontman Ness' drug addiction, but reformed around 1986 and have continued being active today, even after the death of longtime guitarist Dennis Danell, who succumbed to a brain aneurysm in 2000. Since their inception the band lineup has been a virtual revolving-door of talent, with many members coming and going – Ness has been the only constant member. The band's classic line-up is Ness on guitar and vocals, Danell on guitar, John Maurer on bass and Chris Reece on drums.

Among mainstream audiences, Social Distortion are best known for their hit singles "Ball and Chain", "Story of My Life", "I Was Wrong" and "Reach for the Sky" as well as a cover of Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire".

To date, Social Distortion has released six full-length studio albums, two compilations, one live album and two DVDs. Their most recent studio album, "Sex, Love and Rock 'n' Roll", came out on September 28, 2004. They also released their first "Greatest Hits" compilation on June 26, 2007. Recently, there has been a rumor that the band has returned to the studio working their seventh album, which is reportedly due for release sometime in 2009.


Early years (1978-1982)

Social Distortion was formed in late 1978 by frontman Mike Ness out of Orange County, California. The original lineup consisted of Ness on lead guitar, Rikk and Frank Agnew on guitars, and Casey Royer on drums. Ness met Dennis Danell, who was a year older, in high school and insisted he join the band on bass guitar even though Danell had never played an instrument before. When Danell was brought in, Frank, Rikk and Casey left to form their own band. Mike and Dennis remained the only constant members for the next two decades, with bass and drums changing hands every few years.

The music was initially inspired equally by early punk bands like the Sex Pistols and Ramones, [ [ The Official Social Distortion Website] ] and classic acts such as The Rolling Stones and Johnny Cash. They began playing with fellow Orange County, California bands such as The Adolescents, China White, and Shattered Faith as part of the nascent hardcore movement. Their music was fast, angry and energetic.

Their first single, "Mainliner/Playpen", was released in 1981 on Posh Boy, the label responsible for releasing the first singles and albums of many of the local O.C. punk bands. A disc jockey by the name of Rodney Bingenheimer of KROQ-FM was responsible for much of the radio play in O.C. that punk received in the early 80's, and took a liking to Social Distortion, releasing the single "1945" on his 1981 compilation album, "Rodney on the ROQ", "Blood On The ROQ" in 1983, and "The Best Of Rodney On The ROQ" in 1989.

In 1982, the band—now consisting of Ness, Danell (who now played rhythm guitar), Brent Liles on bass, and Derek O'Brien on drums—embarked on their first national tour with fellow punk band Youth Brigade, a trip chronicled in the punk rockumentary "Another State of Mind".

"Mommy's Little Monster" and first hiatus (1983-1985)

Upon their return from the "Another State of Mind" tour in 1982, they recorded their debut album, "Mommy's Little Monster". The album was released in early 1983 on their own label, 13th Floor Records. "Mommy's Little Monster" includes the title track as well as the song for which the previous tour was named, "Another State of Mind". This was the album that "gained the band a national name in punk circles." [ "A Brief History of Social Distortion"] . Retrieved on February 20, 2007.] .

Ness mentions in his DVD commentary that he really had nowhere to stay when he got back to California after the tour ended, so he would crash on the couch of whoever would have him. He details how he plunged headfirst into serious drug addiction and ended up being strung out on heroin for weeks at a time. In 1983, Liles and O'Brien left the band in the middle of a show on New Year's Eve, and were replaced soon thereafter by John Maurer, who knew Ness from school in Fullerton, CA, and Christopher Reece on drums. Ness's drug habit continued throughout 1984 and 1985 as the band continued to gain success with "Another State of Mind" appearing as one of the punk rarities on MTV, and touring in California and Arizona. As a result of Ness's escalating drug habit and troubles with the law, Social Distortion briefly went on hiatus in 1985. During this time, Ness was in and out of rehabilitation centers as well as serving short stints in various jails.

First comeback and "Prison Bound" (1986-1988)

The band reformed in or around 1986, once Ness finished his drug rehabilitation program. They released their second album, "Prison Bound", two years later in 1988—over five years after their debut. The album included then-newcomers John Maurer on bass and Christopher Reece on drums. Although "Prison Bound" never charted on Billboard, the title track found airplay on the Los Angeles, California radio station, KROQ.

A notable style change takes place in "Prison Bound". While "Mommy's Little Monster" falls under the general category of punk rock or hardcore punk, "Prison Bound" takes on a definite country/western flavor and marks the start of the band's entrance into a style called "cowpunk." Country legend Johnny Cash and the Rolling Stones' honky tonk style became more prominent influences on Social Distortion's music at this time. There are references to Cash and the Stones in the songs "Prison Bound" and "On My Nerves," and they also cover a Stones song titled "Backstreet Girl," which has a major key sound that foreshadows the more focused cowpunk sound of the later albums.

Although five years had passed since releasing their debut, it did not hurt the band at all. Their success was just beginning and, in fact, taking time between albums became a pattern for Social Distortion. Ness acknowledges in a 2003 interview that it "is" a little backward, marketing-wise, to play songs for the fans for a few years before recording them—but it has always worked well for them. "We know which songs are going to be fan favorites on the record before we even record them." [Steininger, Alex. "Mike Ness on politics, new album, and touring, " [ In Music We Trust] . Issue 63, November-December 2003. Accessed June 19, 2006.]

Mainstream success (1989-1996)

After the release of "Prison Bound", Social Distortion left Restless Records and signed with Epic. The band then returned to the studio around the summer/fall of 1989, with producer Dave Jerden, to begin recording their third album, titled simply "Social Distortion", which was released in 1990. It was Social Distortion's first album that was not financed by the band. The album includes the singles "Ball and Chain" and "Story of My Life" as well as a cover of Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire". The self-titled album fared better than both "Mommy's Little Monster" and "Prison Bound," and is often credited as Social Distortion's best known work, with sales continuing eighteen years after its release. It is also sometimes cited as among the best rock albums of 1990—the album is said to "split the difference between rockabilly and Ramones-style punk" [ [,,991908,00.html "Social Distortion (import bonus tracks) - Album reviews"] . Retrieved on February 24, 2007.] .

Their fourth album, "Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell", was released in 1992. The album included two hit singles—"Bad Luck", and "When She Begins". "Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell" surpassed all their previous albums in popularity, and received some general radio play with the single, "Bad Luck". [,,495103,00.html#bio "Social Distortion Bio"] Retrieved on February 24, 2007.] The album has a similar sound to the previous, eponymous, album, said to be a blend of "punk, blues, country and rockabilly". After the release of this album, drummer Christopher Reece left Social Distortion in 1994 and was replaced by Randy Carr. Carr toured with the band and played drums on live performances until he left in 1995.

The band took another hiatus after the release of "Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell", and did not return to the studio until 1995. During the break Social Distortion released a compilation album, "" (1995), featuring pre-"Mommy's Little Monster" cuts. It contains two versions of "1945" and "Playpen" from their two indie labels, 13th Floor, and Posh Boy, and also a cover of The Rolling Stones' "Under My Thumb".

In June 1994, the band began demoing songs for their fifth album, [ "Lost Tracks II: The June 1994 Demos"] Retrieved on February 24, 2007.] then returned to the studio in 1995 to record "White Light, White Heat, White Trash", which was released in 1996. The album is said to have taken on a harder sound than those preceding it, [ "Review: White Light, White Heat, White Trash"] Retrieved on February 24, 2007.] and to not focus as much on their previous blues and rockabilly sound. The single "I Was Wrong" received wide radio play and is said to resemble "the classic sound more than any other track on the album". The album also features the singles "When the Angels Sing," which is said to be a tribute to Ness's grandmother, who was an avid supporter of the band, and "Don't Drag Me Down". The album also included a re-recorded version of "Under My Thumb", a cover of The Rolling Stones, as a hidden track. Former Danzig drummer Chuck Biscuits joined the band between the recording and release of the album, and is credited in the liner notes although this album actually features session drummer Deen Castronovo. [ "Social Distortion: White Light White Heat White Trash"] Retrieved on February 24, 2007] "White Light, White Heat, White Trash" was the final Social Distortion album recorded with Dennis Danell before his death.

econd hiatus, aftermath of Danell's death and "Sex, Love and Rock 'n' Roll" (1997-2004)

In 1997, Social Distortion left Epic and returned to Time Bomb Recordings for the first time in eight years. They released their first (and only) live album, "Live at the Roxy" in 1998. Social Distortion went on hiatus again as Ness went solo, releasing two albums, "Cheating at Solitaire" and "Under the Influences," featuring song covers, in 1999.

Dennis Danell died on February 29, 2000 in his Newport Beach home after apparently suffering a brain aneurysm, leaving Ness as the only remaining original member of the band. There have been some rumors claiming that the band broke up again, following his death. He was replaced by former U.S. Bombs and L.A.'s Youth Brigade guitarist Jonny Wickersham, who had previously been Danell's guitar technician. Biscuits also left during that time, and was replaced by Charlie Quintana. After Danell's death, the band continued touring semi-frequently, playing sold-out shows in the Los Angeles, California area around the New Year for three straight years.

Social Distortion started work on their follow-up to "White Light, White Heat, White Trash" in 2000, which was originally to be released in the fall of that year [ News] [] . Retrieved on February 26, 2007.] , but it was not completed. Since 2001, due to the band's ongoing tour schedule, the album's release was put on hold several times. In the fall of 2003, after completing demos, Social Distortion returned to the studio with producer Cameron Webb to complete the album. [ News] [] . Retrieved on February 26, 2007.] "Sex, Love and Rock 'n' Roll", released on September 28, 2004, would be the band's first release with Wickersham and Quintana. Just a month before the release of the album, longtime bassist John Maurer left the band to stay with his family, and was replaced by Rancid's Matt Freeman. He stayed until late 2004, and was replaced by current bassist Brent Harding.

Recent activities and next album (2005-present)

Social Distortion continued touring on and off between 2005 and 2007. They were scheduled to headline the Soundwave Festival in Australia in February-March 2008, along with Incubus and The Offspring, but this was cancelled, just as they had done for the very same festival the previous year. [ [ Social Distortion News] ] They played with various bands, including Versus the World, Tsar, Shooter Jennings, I Hate Kate, Flogging Molly, Nine Black Alps, The Supersuckers, Blackpool Lights, The Lost City Angels, The Street Dogs, The Backyard Babies, The Hangmen, The Eyeliners, Cooper, Mest, Bullets and Octane, and The Dead 60's.

In February 2006, Ness was injured and broke his wrist in a skateboarding accident. He had his good friend, TSOL guitarist Ron Emory fill his place on guitar for the tour while he continued to sing for the band with his arm in a cast and sling. As of July 2006, Emory was no longer filling for Ness. The Hangmen's Bryan Small also filled for Ness.

Original member Brent Liles, who played bass on "Mommy's Little Monster", died on January 18, 2007 after being hit by a semi truck while riding a dirt bike in Placentia, California. [ "Early Social Distortion bassist ID'd in wreck"] . January 21, 2007. Retrieved on February 24, 2007.]

Social Distortion released their first "Greatest Hits" compilation on June 26, 2007. It includes their hit singles from "Mommy's Little Monster" to "Sex, Love and Rock 'n' Roll", yet lacks any song from "". Along with a new studio recording of the song, "Far Behind", new studio recordings of 6 of their classic songs are included as well. Rerecording these songs allowed the band to own rights to them again, instead of Epic (their former label) owning them. Through iTunes in the U.S., as a download only, the Greatest Hits also includes a new Social Distortion cover version of the Chuck Berry classic "Maybellene".

Ness stated in a recent interview that this 'Greatest hits' "technically means what was good with radio.” [ [ Sign On San Diego] ] Ness also stated in the same interview that “we may follow this up with something that is more essential Social D. – songs that are the band's favorites.”

In December 2006, it was announced that Social Distortion was back in the studio working their as-yet-untitled seventh album. [ [ Social Distortion Work On New Album] . Accessed July 19, 2007.] According to a July 2008 interview with Ness, the album is expected to surface sometime in 2009. [ [ Mike Ness talks about new Social D album, future projects] . Accessed July 28, 2008.] Other new songs that the band has played live in recent years that may make it on to the new album include "I Won't Run No More", "A Diamond in the Rough", "Road Zombie", "Private Hell", "Bakersfield" and "Can't Take it With You". The new album will also mark the first Social Distortion release recorded without longtime bassist John Maurer since their first album, 1983's "Mommy's Little Monster".

In April 2008, Ness told Spinner that Social Distortion are planning an acoustic album to be released in 2009, stating "I think it could be really, really neat. It's almost like a Bob Dylan/Bruce Springsteen/Johnny Cash kind of feel with a punk edge ... but acoustic. Sometimes [the songs] are more powerful stripped down than with full volume." Ness also revealed plans for his next solo album, but he's not sure if it will be released before or after the follow-up to "Sex, Love and Rock 'n' Roll" or the acoustic album. [ [ Social Distortion Unplug on New Album] . Accessed April 9, 2008.]


The band has consistently used a skeleton logo during their career, nickname "Skellie" by fans. It has been been used during live performances and on album covers.

Musical style and influences

Social Distortion's musical style began as decidedly punk rock or hardcore punk when the band formed in the late 1970s. They are thought to be one of the pioneering bands of the original Southern California punk rock movement out of Orange County, California, and their style closely associated with the The Dickies, The Germs, and other bands from that place and time. In the mid-80's there was a notable change in their style of music – taking more from their country music and classic rock and roll roots. Mike Ness admits in the DVD commentary from "Another State of Mind" that he may have even tried "too" hard on the "Prison Bound" album. They did eventually find their niche, and the majority of their albums from the mid-80's on to the early 90's are considered to be cowpunk or rockabilly – a melodic punk sound that is distinctly – and distinctively – their own.

Most of Social Distortion's songs are written and sung by Mike Ness. There is a common theme in most of his lyrics about "impulsiveness, its consequences and the hard struggle for maturity". Other band members who have co-written Social Distortion songs are Dennis Danell ("The Creeps", ["Live at the Roxy" booklet] "Indulgence", "Like an Outlaw (For You)", "On My Nerves", and "I Want What I Want"); Jonny Wickersham ("Nickels and Dimes", "Faithless", and "Angel's Wings"); and John Maurer ("Let It Be Me").

Social Distortion's principal influences are of roots rock derivation, as well as hardcore punk, psychedelic rock, blues, hard rock, modern rock, and cowpunk. They have never considered themselves a hardcore punk band in any way. Artists that have influenced Social Distortion are: Johnny Cash,Buck Owens,Bakersfield sound, The Clash, Eddie Cochran, Dead Boys, Elvis Presley, Led Zeppelin, John Lennon, New York Dolls, David Bowie, Ramones, The Rolling Stones, Sex Pistols, X, and Neil Young.

Social Distortion have influenced various contemporary artists, such as Alkaline Trio, [ Matt Skiba profile] . Retrieved on February 27, 2007.] Dropkick Murphys, [ Dropkick Murphys profile] . Retrieved on February 27, 2007.] Goldfinger, [ John Feldmann - Biography] . Retrieved on February 24, 2007.] Good Charlotte, [ Punk icons visit Victoria] . Retrieved on April 16, 2007.] MxPx, [ Band Profile: MxPx] . Retrieved on February 27, 2007.] Pearl Jam, Rise Against, The Suicide Machines, and Sum 41, as well as many notable California punk bands such as ALL, Big Drill Car, blink-182, [ Band Profile: blink-182] . Retrieved on February 27, 2007.] Bullets and Octane, [ Bullets and Octane profile] . Retrieved on February 27, 2007.] Chemical People, [ Chemical People profile] . Retrieved on February 27, 2007.] Face to Face, [ face to face] . Retrieved on February 27, 2007.] Jawbreaker, [ Band Profile: Jawbreaker] . Retrieved on February 27, 2007.] No Use for a Name, [ No Use for a Name profile] . Retrieved on February 27, 2007.] The Offspring, [ Band Profile: The Offspring] . Retrieved on February 27, 2007.] Pennywise, Rancid, [ Band Profile: Rancid] . Retrieved on February 27, 2007.] and Thrice.

In 2005, Reel Big Fish covered "Story of My Life" on their album We're Not Happy 'Til You're Not Happy. A line in the song "Riot Girl" by Good Charlotte reads: "She likes Minor Threat, She likes Social Distortion." MxPx also covered the song "Sick Boy" on their 1998 B-sides compilation "Let It Happen". Goldfinger singer/guitarist John Feldmann has mentioned that he started playing music when he was 13 after listening to Social Distortion's first album "Mommy's Little Monster." [ John Feldmann - Biography] . Retrieved on February 24, 2007.] He also pays tribute to the band twice. Once in the song "Chris Clayton" with the lyrics "When we were kids playing Social D". And again in the song "If Only" with the lyrics "If I had Mike Ness' hairline then you'd want to be with me" (from Goldfinger's 1997 album "Hang-Ups")


:"For past members, see List of Social Distortion band members."

Current Line-Up

*Mike Ness – vocals, guitar
*Jonny "2 Bags" Wickersham – guitar
*Brent Hardingbass
*Charlie Quintanadrums


*"Mommy's Little Monster" (1983)
*"Prison Bound" (1988)
*"Social Distortion" (1990)
*"Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell" (1992)
*"White Light, White Heat, White Trash" (1996)
*"Sex, Love and Rock 'n' Roll" (2004)
*TBA (2009)


External links

* [ Official Website]
* [ Social Distortion cover feature (Distorted magazine, August, 2007)]
* [ Interview with Mike Ness (2007)]
* [ Live Pictures In Edmonton (2007)]
* [ Musicpix Interview with Mike Ness - Live Concert Photos]
* [ Unofficial Website]
* [ - archived bootleg trades site]
* [ Social Distortion at (German)]
* [ Standard Time Concert review of Social Distortion]
* [ Unofficial Social D's forum] (in Spanish)
*|social+distortion|Social Distortion

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