"If it wasn't for music programs. I mean I was lucky I had really good teachers in El Paso, TX and I'd wasn't a smarty pants but I had a couple of teachers who would let me turn in my stuff and then let me go to the band room and get into one of those little booths with the drums and just bash away. The music teacher Mr. Cobb and my other teacher Mr. Kapshaw were both really supportive. They'd give me the nod and I'd go in and play. They helped keep me out of so much trouble. You know it's really a shame to see the importance of that stuff diminished."At the age of 16, Charlie blazed a trail to Los Angeles, CA for his first professional stint as a drummer in the band, The Plugz that eventually turned into Los Cruzados.
"I moved to Los Angeles in 1977 and the deal with The Plugz was to rehearse for a month, do a show at the end of the month at the Whiskey and if I wanted to go they would send me back home and if I wanted to stay I would be welcome to stay and of course I stayed. I wasn't a runaway but I had my parents support which I find incredible because I have a 14 year old daughter now and there's now way I would let her go, you know, but it's a different world now."Charlie was at the epicenter of the Los Angeles punk movement during the golden years where not only cops would assault a kid for the way he or she dressed but civilians also took their turn to harass the "Punks." Yet for a kid from El Paso it was like being given the keys to the candy store. The Plugz even had a track ("El Clavo Y La Cruz") on the Repo Man soundtrack, that strange film with Emilio Estevez from 1984 that featured the Circle Jerks as the background band in several scenes. Not only is Charlie's early history fascinating, its what he did from there that really astonishes.
"I Started with The Plugz and that was when I was like 16 when I first moved to L.A. and that turned into the Cruzados and we had two albums out on Arista. We had two little hits that were great, one on each album and from there I started my own band called The Havalinas and we were signed to Electra and did one album. Then I played with Dylan for a little bit (that's Bob Dylan, Charlie toured with him and was featured in the video, "Sweetheart Like You.") Then I played with Izzy Stradlin and the Ju Ju Hounds. From there I went to Cracker and did the Golden Age/Low tour and the Golden Age record. And I played with Joan Osborne who did really well; she had like seven Grammy nominations and all that kind of stuff. I played briefly with Soul Asylum but we just didn't connect. Then I did Mike's (Ness) solo album tour. At the very end of that tour it was just him and me alone in the bus and he said, 'look man do you think you'd be interested in coming aboard with Social D?' And I was like, 'hell yes.' 'I'm coming' around full circle.' I started playing punk and did all this other stuff and then ended up in one of the best punk bands around."From that point on the relationship between Mike and Charlie blossomed into a great friendship.
"I worked with Mike and the first year it was just me and him in the studio and we jammed and jammed and jammed and I'd see a lot of those songs that we just got done recording quite a few of those."What was to come out of that yearlong brainstorm and jam session would eventually be the catalyst to begin tracking for the new Social Distortion record.
"You know, you get two guys in one room for a year you get to know a lot about each other personally and musically and those two things bond into one until you're just on the same page."Charlie just got done tracking for the new Social Distortion record the as of yet unnamed and highly anticipated follow up to 1996's White Light, White Heat, White Trash.
"We haven't even thought about it ya know? It was just like record the record first and then its up to the highest bidder. We haven't decided on a title yet, it's a little too soon for that we're just going to see how everything shapes up with the content of all the songs and stuff. I'm glad I don't have to do it, naming albums is almost as bad as naming a band."Road life understandably losses it's luster after twenty years, yet Charlie still loves playing live.
"I love doing the shows but I hate all the rest of it. I mean you gotta do it and its fun to play but I hate being away from my family. I've been doing it for over 20 years so I haven't seen anything different from when I first started."Charlie's main concern for new artist's and drummers starting out is:
"First and foremost man, don't poison your mind and body with drugs and alcohol. That just leads nowhere and I know it seems typical to say but I think it's an issue that can't be brought to attention enough. If you keep yourself healthy, you'll play better and you feel better about your playing. I'm sure everyone says that but I can't stress it enough. Have fun, express yourself, and listen to as many different types of music that you can and practice and keep yourself open to everything."(Source: Shane Roeschlein / www.themusicedge.com)
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