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Punk godfathers — Social Distortion — return to The Palace Theatre

| Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018, 12:03 a.m.

California punk icons Social Distortion’s own long, strange trip still has some miles to go assures frontman Mike Ness.

Even after almost four decades, he implies, don’t discount the possibility that the best is still yet to be.

“I’m anxious to do a new album and share with fans what I have learned, experienced and lived. I am going to write the record of my career,” says Ness, as he prepares to lead what some consider these punk godfathers back to The Palace Theatre, Greensburg.

They sold out the venue in their last visit in 2007 and are well on their way to repeat that feat Oct. 14.

“In an age of hip-hop and EDM our hopes are to keep rock’n’roll alive. It is a rich part of American history that will not die,” he says.

New faces at concerts

Ness sees many new faces coming to the party.

“Yes. If you look into our crowd you will see (pre-teens) and adults as old as 70. I like the diversity of our fanbase seeing it passed down to generations,” he says.

The band’s most recent release, “Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes,” marked the group’s highest chart position, entering the Billboard 200 charts at No. 4.

When people tell him his music, a mix of punk, bluesy rock n’ roll and outlaw country, has gotten them through tough times, he responds, “Me too.”

“But I also think people appreciate its honesty and vulnerability,” he adds.

The Boss is a friend

Bruce Springsteen certainly does. “Developing a friendship with Bruce Springsteen and having him perform with us is a freeze-frame moment in our career,” Ness says. Most recently, The Boss came on stage at a festival to do a surprise three-song set with Social Distortion, including two of the band’s original tunes. Springsteen has performed several times in the past with Ness. And Social Distortion has toured with Neil Young.

Playing it live

There is much that Ness enjoys about the live experience.

“The stage is my living room. It is where I feel at home. It is where I feel comfortable,” he explains. Writing new songs keeps being involved in music for so long still fresh and interesting for him, he says, as does “trying new stuff at sound check, new grooves, new guitar parts, new topics.”

When it gets right down to it, music still carries significant weight for Ness.

“It’s freedom of expression, individuality, fire, passion, style, swagger, energy, love, youth and growing up,” he says. “It’s authenticity.”

Documenting a career

He hopes a documentary also is in Social Distortion’s future.

If young bands just coming into the music business might learn something from the group’s career, Ness offers, “That it is hard work and an often discouraging road. Don’t give up and believe in yourself.”

“I am very grateful to be doing what I love for almost 40 years,” he adds. “It’s still fun, still exciting.”

Rex Rutkoski is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.

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