Nearly six years after releasing its last album, 2004’s ‘Sex, Love and Rock ‘n’ Roll,’ Southern California punk institution Social Distortion is “deep into” recording a follow-up, frontman Mike Ness said.
“We’ve just tracked 12 songs this week, and we’re going to probably track another five in the next couple of days,” Ness says, calling from a payphone on the day before Valentine’s Day. According to Ness, the record will be a full-band, full-volume affair, not the stripped-down acoustic album he was rumored to have been making.
“We’d always intended to do a regular album first,” he says. “The acoustic thing is just a future project, which I think will be significant and equally important. But as far as the priority goes, it’s more important now to get a studio record out that is a regular record.”
The album will be Social Distortion’s seventh in a career that has spanned more than 30 years. Joining Ness for the sessions are guitarist Jonny “2 Bags” Wickersham and bassist Brent Harding, members since 2000 and 2004, respectively, as well as newly instated drummer Adam “Atom” Willard. So far, the quartet has only laid down instrumental tracks, and it remains for Ness to sit down and put pen to paper.
“I have a lot of writing [to do], as far as lyrics go,” Ness says. “But we’re really happy with the direction that this record is taking, the sound of it. We’re recording it really old-school. We went back to tape, old compressors and old microphones, just really trying to fight modern technology as much as possible.”
He says the self-produced, still-untitled album, which he hopes to release before the end of the year, will feature the classic Social Distortion sound — a combination of punk, rockabilly and country, presumably.
“It’s funny — the record reminds me very much of [1992’s] ‘Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell,’ but also I’m bringing elements of early New York ’70s punk, influences that maybe haven’t come out as prominently in my writing in the past,” Ness says. “It’s a little more Johnny Thunders. Some of the early first wave of punk was very blues-based rock ‘n’ roll, but it had this urban snottiness to it.”
“So, the record, to me, is almost like the Dead Boys meets the Black Crowes or something,” Ness adds.