30 SoCal Punk Songs

My Greg Salem punk rock PI series revolves around a fictional SoCal band called BAD CITIZEN CORPORATION, but the music and musicians that inspired these books are very real.

The playlist includes songs from the 70s to the 2000s, ranging from Black Flag, The Runaways, Lagwagon and Minutemen to The Gun Club, Pennywise, The Bags and Face To Face. There are thousands of other songs I could have included, but 30 seems right for now.

I’m loosely defining SoCal as the region between San Diego and Santa Barbara. Likewise, the definition of “punk” is also pretty loose because it’s one of those words that means something different to everybody.

So…save your aggression for the pit, bro. As Descendents would say—Enjoy!

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S.W. Lauden is the author of the Greg Salem punk rock P.I. series includes BAD CITIZEN CORPORATIONGRIZZLY SEASON and HANG TIME (Rare Bird Books). Steve lives in LA.

Writer Types Podcast—Episode 17

The May episode has arrived!

This time around we interview Kellye Garrett, Alex Segura and Naomi Hirahara.

Bill Fitzhugh, Ellen Byron, Mike McCrary and Andrew Shaffer tell us their secrets for writing funny crime fiction.

And May author, Marietta Miles, helps us debut an occasional new segment called “Between The Lines.”

But, wait—there’s more!

Kate Malmon reviews Blackout by Alex Segura, and Dan Malmon reviews The Oracle Year by Charles Soule.

If you like what you hear, please leave a review on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, Soundcloud—or wherever you listen to podcasts. And please tell your friends about Writer Types on social media, at your favorite bookstore, and in the alley behind the car wash.

S.W. Lauden is the author of the Greg Salem punk rock P.I. series includes BAD CITIZEN CORPORATIONGRIZZLY SEASON and HANG TIME (Rare Bird Books). He is also the co-host of the Writer Types podcast. Steve lives in LA.

Short Story in a Song— “She Doesn’t Exist”

Ever make a wrong turn in a foreign city and find yourself on an unexpected adventure? That’s how it felt to discover Robyn Hitchcock’s music in my teens. I’d travelled the well-worn boulevards of heavy metal, stomped down the back alleys of punk (finding the The Soft Boys along the way), and traveled the twisting paths of college rock—but hearing Hitchcock’s solo records was like finding a secret passage into a dark and magical world. Those feelings of wonder remain today, making it almost impossible to pick a single track. So I chose “She Doesn’t Exist,” an all-time favorite from the 1991 Egyptians album “Perspex Island.” This song would make a great short story.

Our narrator is obsessed with his ex. He’s attempted every trick in the book—from calling over and over to voodoo rituals—but nothing brings her back. So he tries to sooth his fragile ego by convincing himself that she doesn’t exist. He recognizes his mistakes and wants to do better, but knows it isn’t possible within the dynamics of their relationship. Soon it’s only singing to himself that briefly drowns out the persistent thoughts of his lost love. Hopefully his obsession doesn’t compel him to act and try to make her disappear for real.

Read the full lyrics for Robyn Hitchcock’s “She Doesn’t Exist” right HERE.

More Short Story in a Song posts:

S.W. Lauden is the author of the Greg Salem punk rock P.I. series includes BAD CITIZEN CORPORATIONGRIZZLY SEASON and HANG TIME (Rare Bird Books). He is also the co-host of the Writer Types podcast. Steve lives in LA.

 

Short Story in a Song— “Weird Boy Next Door”

The Muffs is a rock phoenix that emerged from the ashes of legendary LA band, The Pandoras. Founded by Kim Shattuck and Melanie Vammen in the early 90s, The Muffs went through a few configurations before landing on the solid trio of Shattuck (guitar + vocals), Ronnie Barnett (bass) and Roy McDonald (drums). “Weird Boy Next Door” is the first song from their excellent 2014 album, Whoop Dee Doo.

It’s clear our narrator doesn’t like the neighbor’s kid. In a playful mashup of Tom Waits “What’s He Building In There” and Alfred Hitchcock’s “Rear Window,” our protagonist has a lot of justified rage about this wasted weirdo. It’s annoying enough that he still lives at home, but all his yelling and petty aggressions are too much to bear. Although our protagonist fantasizes about getting rid of him, there is no easy solution. She’s instead forced to rant to anybody who will listen, warning them to keep away. But how long will it be before her patience wears thin and she’s forced to act?

Read the full lyrics for The Muffs’ “Weird Boy Next Door” right HERE.

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Short Story in a Song— “Mr. Spock”

Yesterday I wrote about The Mr. T Experience song “Sorry For Freaking Out On The Phone Last Night.” Since MTX is playing shows with Nerf Herder soon, I decided to tackle one of my favorite songs by this Santa Barbara pop punk outfit fronted by mad musical genius, Parry Gripp. I’ve watched over the years as Nerf Herder has created an impressive catalog of music that effortlessly waffles (see what I did there?) from tongue-in-cheek to heart-on-your-sleeve without missing a beat. “Mr. Spock” is a solid song with great hooks, setting the stage for the band’s transformation into nerd rock superheroes.

Our narrator knows he’ll never be enough for his girlfriend. From money to personality to style, she’s always looking for Mr. Right. So our hero does the complicated calculus, concluding that what she wants is highly illogical. With his fanboy feet firmly planted beneath him, our protagonist goes deeper into Star Trek references to make his point as the song chugs along. In the end, his frustration is so palpable that it’s hard to know if it’s him or her wearing the red shirt.

Read the full lyrics for Nerf Herder’s “Mr. Spock” right HERE.

Like Santa Barbara punk? Here I am talking books with musicians:

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Short Story in a Song— “Sorry For Freaking Out…”

I saw that The Mr. T Experience is playing a few shows with my pals in Nerf Herder soon, including a stop at The Troubadour in LA. It got me thinking about this perfect piece of jangly pop confection. It’s like Stephin Merritt is fronting a country band that plays Grant Hart songs at an English pub in the 60s. The chorus is hooky and the punk psychedelia of the bridge is a brief refuge from the bouncy melody. But it’s the unique lyrics that bring it all together.

Our narrator is in a never-ending loop of overreaction and regret. The title seems tongue-in-cheek, but it encapsulates the petty spats that can potentially topple uncertain relationships. Couples get into ruts and we hurt the ones we love, so we’re left to apologize and try to figure out why we’re so quick to anger. Given all the things that can undermine something so fragile, there’s no better advice than this: “Let’s keep the freaking out to a minimum.”

Read the full lyrics for “Sorry For Freaking Out…” by MTX right HERE.

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Defending Your Influences

We recently had award-winning author Michael Kardos as a guest on the Writer Types crime and mystery podcast. We started out by asking Michael—who is also a drummer—about his musical influences instead of his writing influences. Michael was a good sport about it, admitting that Billy Joel and his long-time drummer, Liberty DeVitto, were two of his heroes growing up.

My co-host and I both come from mostly punk/Indie rock backgrounds, so his response gave us a (hopefully) funny bit that ran throughout our discussion. At some point we even got around to Michael’s excellent books, including BLUFF, BEFORE HE FINDS HER, and THE THREE-DAY AFFAIR.

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Writer Types Podcast—Episode 16


The April episode dropped late, but it’s definitely worth the wait!

This time around we have interviews with Gillian Flynn, Michael Kardos, John Shepphird and Robert Hartley.

We also talk about what makes for a great crime fiction short story with Rusty Barnes from Tough, Scotch Rutherford from Switchblade Magazine, and Alec Cizak from Pulp Modern.

And we have a special report featuring several crime and mystery authors from the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books.

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“Dü You Remember?” Podcast Review

I was stoked when I heard about The Current’s Husker Dü documentary podcast—and then totally forgot about it. Ironic considering the title of the series. Although, it might be more accurate to say that I wasn’t ready to listen.

“Dü You Remember?” includes 5 episodes that originally coincided with the release of the excellent Savage Young Dü box set from Numero Group. Unfortunately, it also served as a heart-felt farewell to talented songwriter/drummer/artist Grant Hart who died in September of last year—a month before the release. So as excited as I was about listening to the podcast, I just couldn’t get myself to dive in. That all changed when the algorithm gods gave me a much-needed kick in the ass last week. The timing was perfect.

I recently played on two songs for a friend’s new album, the first recordings I’ve done in a few years. It got me thinking about my long relationship with drumming and the people who inspired me along the way. The long list includes everybody from John Bonham, Charlie Watts and Keith Moon to Bun E. Carlos, D.J. Bonebrake and Alan Myers. And, of course, Grant Hart. I’ve long found it hard to describe Hart’s drumming, but I’ve never heard another drummer play with the same combination of intensity, style and outright musicality. He was also one of the most gifted songwriters of his generation, right up there with his bandmate Bob Mould.

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Dusting Off My Drums

I started playing drums in my early teens and pretty much didn’t stop for twenty-five years. Picking up that first pair of sticks radically changed the course of my life. Not only did I make great friends, but I got to record and tour a little along the way.

Once drumming took a back seat, I was fortunate to find another passion in writing crime and mystery fiction. It’s been a real thrill getting to know that community as well, which—as luck would have it—includes several musicians. A few of us even tried to launch an ill-fated band featuring five crime authors. That project, like countless bands before it, was sunk by infighting over REO Speedwagon.

These days I still get the occasional chance to play. Most recently it’s with my good friend and former band mate, Jeff Whalen, who just announced his first solo record, 10 More Rock Super Hits. I was stoked to play drums for two songs on this stellar collection (pen name, S.W. Lauden; drum name, Steve Coulter). Having made two albums and a couple E.P.’s with him in the rock group Tsar, I can honestly say that the songs on 10 More Rock Super Hits are among Jeff’s best—but don’t take my word for it:

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