Redd Kross


Tue Jul 02 2024 at 08:30 pm


2501 Kettner Blvd San Diego CA 92101 | San Diego, CA

REDD KROSS – REDD KROSS (In The Red Records)
In 1979, two school-kids all hopped-up on punk-rock started their own group in their hometown of
Hawthorne, Los Angeles (birthplace of the Beach Boys) and soon found themselves opening shows
for notorious scene pioneers Black Flag. Jeff McDonald was 15, his brother Steven only 11. But that
didn’t stop their group from becoming one of the most remarkable, enduring and unique outfits punk-
rock ever belched up.
2024, then, marks Redd Kross’s 45th birthday – an important anniversary for any group whose heart
pulses at 45RPM – and the brothers are celebrating the event with a veritable multimedia
extravaganza. There’s a memoir, Now You’re One Of Us, due in November, author Dan Epstein telling
the group’s story in the McDonalds’ unmistakable (and occasionally contrary) voices. A brilliant
rockumentary, Born Innocent, directed by Andrew Reich, will premiere later in the year. Most
exciting of all, a new album – an eponymous double-album, no less, packed with 18 of their sharpest,
most addictive songs yet – will hit the racks, courtesy of In The Red Records. These years of joyful
service to rock’n’roll have seen Redd Kross evolve into a killer pop-rock concern, dealing in dayglo
power-chords, choruses as tall as skyscrapers and a lyric sheet thick with acid couplets and arch pop-
cultural references their loyal following will gobble up like quaaludes.
Tell the McDonald brothers they’ve cut their best record 45 years deep into their career, and they grin
with the confidence of dudes who know they’re on a hot streak. “We grew up with industry
gatekeepers telling us you’re only allowed to do what we do up to a certain age, that if you haven’t
attained some certain status of success it’s time to hang up the dream,” says Steven. “But I’m still
hungry and ambitious, trying to figure out what I want to say and how to say it. I give the correct
amount of fucks. I’m ready to start our third act, and for it to be magnificent.”
The roots of the new album lay in their previous full-length, 2019’s Beyond The Door – or, more
accurately, the pandemic’s ethering of a planned Redd Kross world tour in support of that record. “We
were bummed Beyond The Door had to die with the advent of Covid,” nods Jeff. But, as you might
expect from such pop-culture mavens, for the brothers McDonald there was one silver-lining to the
gloom of the pandemic era: Peter Jackson’s documentary, The Beatles: Get Back. Like all of us, the
duo pored over every frame of the limited series: every bum note and moment of brilliance, every
tetchy squabble and pregnant silence. “I got very inspired by this bird’s eye-view upon their process,”
says Steven. “Get Back demystified it: ‘Oh, when they’re writing a song, they sound a bit crappy too,
just slugging away.’”
Suitably inspired, Steven wrote a batch of new songs in isolation and sent them over to Jeff, who was
honing a clutch of his own tunes. “It was a fit of inspiration,” says Steven. “I put the fire under Jeff’s
ass. He realized if he didn’t step up, I’d write the whole album myself.” Indeed, as soon as they were
allowed, the brothers began convening in the bijou studio at Steven’s house and began writing a bunch
more songs to join the solo tunes they’d already penned. They worked hard, yes, but the emphasis was
on fun: they’d spend most of the sessions jamming on favorites by their heroes, or watching
YouTube clips of historic moments of musical brilliance (and also copious documentaries about cults),
then suddenly dash out another sublime power-pop nugget in the last 20 minutes before Jeff set off for
dinner with his family. Don’t knock the process: the results speak for themselves.
Tunes written, the brothers were itching to record, but Dale Crover, the legendary Melvins sticksman
who drummed on Beyond The Door, had recently undergone spinal surgery and couldn’t step up.
Instead, Steven reached out to his friend Josh Klinghoffer, perhaps best-known for his years as
guitarist with Red Hot Chili Peppers and as a touring member of Pearl Jam and Jane’s Addiction, but
hereafter to be most-famed as the drummer and producer of Redd Kross. The pair first met two
decades ago, as members of Beck’s backing band, and later played together with the inimitable
Sparks. “Josh is 13 years younger than me, and he’s like the younger brother I never had,” says
Steven. “He’s a super-talented musician who’s really good at being supportive, and he’s really in-tune
with a band’s internal dynamics. And he had us on our best behaviour, not wanting to disappoint Josh!
His studio is like the most incredible vintage guitar shop – he would take great delight in pulling out
some rare instrument or effects box to inspire us.”
In Klinghoffer’s company, the brothers tore through their new batch of songs. And what songs… “I’m
usually the one who says our albums have to be ‘ten songs, no more’,” nods Jeff. “But we had all
these great songs, and we wanted to let them all breathe. So the album had to be 18 songs.” But if the
prospect of these unabashed Beatles-heads delivering an eponymous double-album with a sleeve of a
single colour has you expecting a meandering, eclectic set like the Fabs’ ‘White Album’, Redd Kross
is all-killer, no-filler, more akin to their Exile On Main Street, their Double Nickels On The Dime,
their Zen Arcade: 58 minutes of solid-gold power-pop, driven by melody and dynamic, with a lyric-
sheet that’ll reward all your perusing.
‘Candy Colored Catastrophe’ opens proceedings with the perfect vibe: an itchy, unforgettable acid-
pop nugget taking impish swings at what Steven describes as “the fine arts career of a well-known
pop star who we love-love-love, and also love to make fun of”. “Our message is, ‘What is art?’,” adds
Jeff. “Who gets to decide? And maybe these rock-stars who suddenly decide they’re fine artists and
Hollywood actors who decide they’re punk-rock singers should, you know, stay in their lane.” From
there, this revivified Redd Kross tear into the heaviest rock banger of the set, ‘Stunt Queen’, which
Jeff says is “the closest we come to a ‘political song’. It’s about these total fame-whores in politics
who’ll do anything to be on TV – people like Lindsay Graham, who doesn’t care how humiliated he
gets, as long as he’s on TV. It’s like some weird kink.” Then there’s the “unbearable man” in ‘Terrible
Band’, inspired by Jeff and Josh’s obsession with documentaries about cults, and the number of
musicians they know who behave like cult-leaders. There’s ‘The Witches Stand’, a downbeat
psychedelic power-ballad stringing together a narrative involving Brian Jones, and Jean Harlow, and
DeeDee Detroit of early LA punks UXA, “who disappeared off the face of the earth, though I see her
at the grocery sometimes,” grins Jeff. “Fame – and surviving it – is the joining thread of that song.”
The album boasts some absolutely killer couplets, like ‘Cancion Enojada’’s snarling “I revoke your
pass / You’re such an ass”, or “She dumped the leader of Kiss / Because he was not fine”, from
‘Emmanuel Insane’, inspired in equal parts by the Rolling Thunder Tour documentary on Netflix,
David Bowie’s glam-era and the later Emanuelle sequels. Prime Redd Kross, in other words. But there
are deeper themes here, too – the cosmic ‘The Main Attraction’ derives its power from the brothers’
dual vocals and Beatles-y harmonies, and its tracing the motivation for the ever-expanding universe’s
kinks and twists to love. And sometimes they just boil everything down to a perfect pop song, as in
‘I’ll Take Your Word For It’, a perfect blast of 60s-shaded harmony and guitar tangle. But perhaps the
finest song on Redd Kross is the song that closes Redd Kross – that is, in no small part, the ballad of
Redd Kross, or at least their early days. ‘Born Innocent’ retells the early days of the group, the first
thrill of punk-rock, their nascent explorations of that wide-world they’d later become synonymous
with. “It’s like the Cliff Notes version of our formation,” laughs Jeff. “It was the first song we wrote
for the album, and actually we wrote it for the documentary, Born Innocent.”
“We’d been doing the interviews for the movie, and for our memoir,” adds Steven. “We were in a
reflective mood, perhaps.” But Redd Kross is not the sound of legends resting on their laurels – rather,
it’s Redd Kross spreading their wings and grasping their true potential, after 45 years in the game. The
best record in the Redd Kross discography – or should we say, their best record, until the next one.
“We’re on a schedule,” nods Steven. “It’s our 45th anniversary, but we’re still defining who we are.
We put our noses to the grindstone for this album, and we did it! And it feels like the beginning of
something. It’s so exciting to us that there’s still more to discover. We’re publishing the memoir, the
movie’s coming out, we’re releasing this new album – and getting the machine started up again makes
me nervous, and that’s thrilling. Our third act is going to be badass.

Where is it happening?

2501 Kettner Blvd San Diego CA 92101, 2501 Kettner Blvd, San Diego, CA 92101-1217, United States,San Diego, California

Event Location & Nearby Stays:

Dale Crover

Host or Publisher Dale Crover

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