Mike Ness of Social Distortion, the inimitable SoCal punk collective formed in the late 70’s, is continuing to tour decades later. They’re scheduled to perform about 30 dates across the country with co-headliners Flogging Molly. The tour is planned to kick off in Houston this week. Though Social D doesn’t usually partake in coheadlining gigs, the band is eager to start recording their new album, so they want to show their fans that something good is on the way. “Because we’re getting ready to go into the studio and record an album, we’re wanting to keep out there, letting people know that we’ve got something coming, so it’s just a good opportunity to kind of combine and try something we haven’t done in a long time,” Ness said. “We just felt it was a good fit.”
Ness admits that because he was in pre-production recording Social D’s newest unnamed album for three months, and meeting at the studio four to five times a week, he had to switch to a different mindset when shifting focus from recording to touring. The band hasn’t released an album in over eight years, since Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes. Although Ness has been practicing keeping the pressures to a minimum by telling himself that he didn’t have to write a record for anyone else, he does say, “every record I just want to try and outdo the last one.”
Songs such as ‘Story of My Life,’ and ‘Sick Boy’ became pivotal works in the history and reputation of Social Distortion. However, during the time of recording, Mike Ness wasn’t as confident with how fans would react to the sound, but he thought the risk was worth it so long as he was happy with his progress. “I was really happy, but honestly I didn’t know if people were going to like it,” he said. “But I had to put a record out that I was happy with; so, it was huge risk-taking.” A risk that paid off in the end.
Coming from an alcoholic home, it’s no surprise that Ness’s song lyrics often reflect on the emotional ups-and-downs human are faced with. Determination is also a prominent theme found in his words, which seems fitting compared to the trauma he has experienced in his personal life. Ness started using drugs and alcohol while other kids were still in middle school. His path led heroin addiction until he decided to get sober about 30 years ago when he 23 years old. Ness learned from a young age to use his music as a coping mechanism. When most are still partying and not even considering a sober life, Ness made a life-or-death decision because he knew he needed and wanted a better life for himself; we here at Face the Music Foundation are certainly glad he did.