By Neelam Mehta
For anyone who craves the screaming vocals, airtight beats and reckless energy of genuine punk, The Casualties have got your fix--they've even got it in Spanish and on DVD.
The band's seventh full-length CD was recorded in English (On the Front Line) and Spanish (En la Linea del Frente). The Casualties' bassist Rick Lopez gives one simple reason for their lyrical venture into bilingualism.
"It was something to do--an experiment," Rick says. "We're gifted with being bilingual and tried to get [the record] down into South America and Mexico. The only problem with those countries is they don't have record stores, per se. It's on a bootleg system. We don't care that they bootleg it, though."
Even so, there is a scene in the band's first tour documentary, Can't Stop Us, where a young punk is pulled up on stage at a show and accuses The Casualties of being capitalist sellouts. Remarks like these are all too common in the punk scene (Rancid, anyone?), but Rick isn't phased by any of it.
"There's a lot of phonies out there," he says. "They're not [at our show] because they like the music--they want to come in and run their mouths." Rick adds, "People like to go overboard and get self-righteous, like, 'I don't go to the store so I'm more of a punk than you,'" Rick says. "Well I do, so fuck you."
To get back to the music, On the Front Line is not a far stretch from what we've come to know and love about The Casualties.
"I don't want to say [On the Front Line] is the same," Rick says, "but our sound is our sound. We don't want to have that retarded attitude that 'Oh, we're just drunk all the time.' I mean, we are, but we still want to have intelligent music and have our music be important."
So, what do The Casualties find important these days?
"We'd like to make the scene more conscious of what's going on around us," Rick says. "The politics right now are fucked up and it's affecting us so we're touching on those subjects. The more we play and write, the more we're going to perpetuate music in general."
In the past couple of decades, punk has done a hell of a job edging into mainstream, something Rick is somewhat torn over.
"I think it's cool that this music is becoming popular because I'm in a band and I like to play to a lot of people," he says. "But what I fell in love with when I was younger was an underground thing. I like being able to reach out to those kids in the middle of nowhere. There should be ways to communicate amongst our scene, but not in Rolling Stone."
You're never going to see The Casualties in Rolling Stone, so go see them at the Sunshine Theater on March 27 with Anti-Flag, The Unseen, Smoke or Fire, and The AKAs. All-ages; get your $13 (over-21) and $15 (under-21) tickets at Ticketmaster or Natural Sound (plus service fee). Doors open at 7 p.m.
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