PUNKERS TO PLAY FOR GOP GROUP
The lineup for tonight’s benefit concert at Cypress College includes such punk and quasi-punk bands as the Circle Jerks, the Dickies, the Vandals, D.I. and Plain Wrap.
But don’t expect to hear shouts of “anarchy!” from band members during this show or see anyone on stage wearing “Reagan Hates Me” T-shirts that are popular with many punk rockers. Such left-wing posturing might not sit well with the campus group that is the show’s beneficiary--the Cypress College Republicans .
The thought of punks coming together to aid young Republicans might seem strange to some, but not to the participants.
“I’ve always been a fairly conservative person myself,” said Keith Morris, lead singer of the Circle Jerks, one of Los Angeles’ most popular punk groups. “Growing up, I was self-employed and my dad was in a small business. To me, the Republicans were for business in general, although lately they’ve swung to big business. But basically the Republican party always stood for the employer and the Democrats stood for the employee. And being in a band is a business.”
This is the same man who sang the punk anthem “Wild in the Streets”?
“I’m not really a political person myself,” Morris added. “Our main reason for doing the show is because of all the bands that are playing. We’d still do it if it was for the Democrats on campus. If it was for Young Communists, Young Socialists or Young Fascists, we would have backed out.
“I think it’s just going to be a fun bill. Whoever comes out should come out to see the bands and not worry about the Republicans,” he said with a laugh.
The Dickies’ Stan Lee also said that the lineup was a bigger attraction to his band than the cause. “To tell you the truth, I didn’t know what it was for. It’s just a job as far as I’m concerned,” Lee said. “Half of the band voted for Reagan, but we’re not politically minded at all. Our message has always been that you don’t have to scream political jargon like the Clash. That’s always seemed kind of silly. The music is what’s important with us.”
While some of the musicians downplayed their interest in politics, John Knight, of Fullerton’s D.I., expressed no qualms about the show’s political overtones. “I like the Republicans. I think they are better, more open, more in tune with what is going on today.” Knight, however, prefaced his comments by saying that they were not representative of the band’s other members, which includes ex-Adolescents Rikk Agnew and Casey Royer. “Rikk and Casey might shoot me if they heard that,” Knight said with a chuckle.
Although the performance is a benefit, all of the bands are being paid. Funds left after expenses will go to the college Republicans club to finance additional concerts on campus, said Ed Christensen, the Orange County booking agent who organized the show.
A turnout of between 2,000 and 2,500 is expected for the five-hour show, which will begin at 8 p.m. in the college’s Gym II building.
While the headlining bands have played dozens of shows to raise funds for various causes, this will be the first benefit for the members of Huntington Beach-based Plain Wrap.
“This one just happened to be a political benefit,” said lead singer Don Wrap, “but we decided to do it anyway. Actually, I’m a Democrat myself.”
Even so, Wrap said he’s not worried that the show might cause some fans to lump his band in with the pro-Republican groups. “I think people will identify us with being supportive of good music and good shows. Let the music speak for itself. If the Cypress College Republicans are good enough to take a chance on doing this show, we’ll be good enough to play for them.”
Because the concert benefits a club that supports conservative politicians who are generally anti-punk, even Morris admits that the teaming of punk with right-wing politics is somewhat incongruous.
“It is ironic in the fact that a lot of these bands have difficulty playing in Orange County, or have shows canceled,” Morris said. (In just the last three weeks, Placentia officials canceled a proposed Circle Jerks’ show in that city, while the Anaheim City Council voted not to renew the entertainment license for the Flashdance punk and new wave club.)
For the Cypress College Republicans, a club formed last fall, the concert will serve two purposes. In addition to raising funds to support campus concerts and other activities, club chairman Steve Sheldon said, “We want to educate people that punk is not that bad. They can have a good time and not be destructive.
“This is Orange County, a predominantly conservative area, and a lot of punks come from conservative families,” Sheldon said. “A lot of them think Orange County is good.”
LIVE ACTION: Leon Russell returns to the Crazy Horse Steak House in Santa Ana on March 25. . . . Patti Page will perform at Kono Hawaii in Santa Ana March 30. . . . Free Flight will be in concert March 16 at Saddleback College’s Mission Viejo campus. . . . Animotion will play the Golden Bear in Huntington Beach March 15-16.