Punk & Hardcore

Social Distortion's Jonny Two Bags: "I Don't Know What Else I Would Be Doing If I Wasn't Playing Music."

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Against all odds, Social Distortion has been going strong for over three decades. What has kept the band going?

That's a good question. It's hard to say. I think that we're just the kind of band . . . What else are we going to do? I don't know what else I would be doing if I wasn't playing music. It's always been so important to me, I really haven't been interested in doing anything else with my time other than being involved with music -- playing, touring, recording, writing.

I think that we just got really lucky in that we've been able to do that and it still is relevant. We're really fortunate because it's true, a lot of bands don't get that opportunity. It's not like we sit down and plan out how to make that happen, it just sort of worked out that way.

How has the music scene has changed since you first started playing in bands?

The Internet and technology has everything to do with the changes in music in the past decade or 15 years, or whatever. Everything from the ability to share music online, which affects record sales, to the ability for somebody to make a record in their living room and get a ProTools rig and set it up in their living room and record the record and go out and press some CDs or upload it, and just get it out there that way.

On one hand, I think that's really great, that gives everybody the opportunity to be creative and express themselves and hopefully it gives everybody a fair chance to be heard. At the same time, that also creates the opportunity to do something to where there's such a huge influx of stuff happening. How are you even going to make a dent when there's so much happening?

As far as record sales and everything, it makes it to where nobody's really making money from selling their records anymore, so you've got to get out in order to make a living. You've got to stay on the road.

Do you see the same kind of passion in fans nowadays that you witnessed in the '80s Southern California heyday?

Oh, absolutely. It's so great that the live show doesn't seem to have lost any power. I was actually kind of concerned with that at one point. I love to look at YouTube just like everybody else. It's all available to see, like, old Mississippi Fred McDowell footage and stuff that you would have never have been able to find. Every one of our concerts is pretty much thrown up on YouTube the next couple of days after. I thought, 'Wow, is this going to kill it for people?' Are they just going to be, like, 'Well, whatever, man. I'll just go on YouTube and watch it,' but it's definitely not the same experience, and I see it in the faces of the people at the shows. I think that people get the same from the shows as they always have.

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Melissa Fossum
Contact: Melissa Fossum