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Joyride were one of those much-cherished bands that came up right before the dawn of the Offspring/No Doubt era, a band people liked to point to as yet another stellar example of OC's rock & roll richness, but one that always went tragically ignored outside the county. They split up in 1996, victims of endless bleary-eyed hours spent touring in crappy vans; poor record distribution; random, pent-up frustrations; and—in the case of drummer Sandy Hansen and lead guitarist Mike McKnight—a yearning for a stable family life. Too much ride, it seemed, and not enough joy.
Guitarist Steve Soto and bassist Greg Antista, the band's other half, went off into post-Joyride projects of their own. Antista formed Foxy with Lisa Parker of 4Gazm and Social Distortion's John Maurer. Soto joined 22 Jacks with former Wax-man Joe Sib, which has proved to be one of the more lucrative bands he's been involved with (if nothing else, the touring vans have gotten spiffier), the latest link in a career chain stretching back to his days in Agent Orange and the Adolescents.
Last August, Joyride regrouped for the first time in three years and played a one-off gig at the request of Doll Hut owner Linda Jemison to help celebrate the beloved room's 10-year anniversary as a live music club.
"Linda asked us to do it," says Antista, "and I said sure, not thinking it would be anything. But when I pulled up, the place was full, and everyone seemed really excited. I was surprised how many people were there. Lots of people remembered all the words, too. It was great fun."
Yes, it was, a slamming, painfully loud set of speed-pop and monster riffs, culled from the band's only two albums, 1993's Johnny Bravo and 1995's Another Month of Mondays, plus dumb '80s covers like "Don't You Want Me?" Promoters have been begging the band for another show ever since, which they'll be able to accommodate only this Friday.
Joyride were a great band, a wicked combo of punk ferocity smooshed with melodies long thought missing from music this rough—think about the early '80s Minneapolis that produced the Replacements and Hüsker Dü. If they were coming up now, you'd like to think their industry buzz would be mega. Blame Joyride's short life on bad timing as much as anything else.
Soto and Antista say it's just as well. "Back then," says Soto, "if any major label would have walked in, we would have signed because we didn't know any better, and we would have gotten screwed. It's a dirty, dirty business."
In a way, Antista is actually happy that Joyride ended when it did. "I think a lot of bands are good to maybe separate after six years—I don't know if you need to be together for 20 years. It's great that we have two records, that it's always gonna be two records, and maybe we'll get back together again another 10 years down the road if someone wants to hear us."
Joyride recorded a third album, Promises and Lies, which by several accounts was the band's best. But it remains unreleased, since Joyride's label, Dr. Dream, folded soon after it was completed.
"It was a good record," says Soto. "I guess we could find someone to put it out, but it seems kind of pointless now—we're not gonna tour for it or anything." The title track lives on in a re-recorded version on Foxy's debut CD, released earlier this year, a version Greg says isn't too different from the Joyride take.
Don't expect to hear anything off the third album at the Tiki Bar show, though, or any new Joyride songs. "Mike says he has new songs, but we don't want to do new songs," Antista makes clear. "I hate when bands come back and make you sit through their new record to get to all the stuff you wanna hear. We made three records, the third one never came out, so we're not gonna play anything off it. We'll give the people what they know.
"And we never thought that all these people would still want Joyride to play," Antista continues. "It's really nice. We're almost like a cover band now—everybody knows the songs we're gonna do. There's no creative process now, it's just us doing the old records. I think that's when it's the most fun, though, when you can cut loose. Everyone who tells me something about Joyride back then, they always say that we looked like we were having fun. I hope people come down to have some fun because that's why we're doing it. There'll be much less hair this time—I know that."
JOYRIDE perform WITH THE ORANGEMEN, ROCKET AIR AND BIG HIPPIE PARTy AT THE TIKI BAR, 1700 PLACENTIA AVE., COSTA MESA, (949) 548-3533. FRI., 8 P.M. Call for cover. 21+.