By Sarah Bennett
By Adam Lovinus
By Jena Ardell
By Nate Jackson
By Gustavo Arellano
By Nick Keppler
By Nate Jackson
By Alex Distefano
This is the story of how Joey Josh made his momma cry. Well, more like run shrieking out of the club where Joey Josh's band, It's Time to Rock, was playing, after Joey Josh revved-up the night by re-enacting his mother's pregnancy midsong, which involved a lot of nudity and a lot more honey. ("You know, for the juices!" gushes drummer Aaron Flora, who says you can chart the artistic development of the band by cataloging the stains on his drum set, from honey to paint to mustard to shampoo and beer and probably scraps of Joey Josh's underwear.)
See, Josh had dedicated the performance piece to her—though maybe the phrase he actually used was "warned her." And his dad was having a great time just enjoying the show, Josh says. But when Joey Josh got home that night at about 1 a.m., slathered in honey and probably smelling like a beer brawl at the bumblebee farm, both his parents were sitting up waiting for him. It was time for a talk. The we-need-to-get-you-the-help-you-need talk. The kind of talk Suicidal Tendencies got a whole hit single out of with "Institutionalized." So naturally Joey Josh ran away from home that night—presumably after showering—and spent the night in a park rather than risk commitment at the James Osterberg Center for the Rehabilitation of Troubled Youth. And you know, if It's Time to Rock could only somehow get that kind of adventure to translate to their albums, they would be beyond famous by now.
"I wish I could put the live stuff on CD," sighs Josh, who got his stage name after a contretemps with a stripper at age 12—ask him about it sometime! "I mean, I just try to perform."
And perform he does, in the same way that Iggy Pop was performing when he'd rub ground glass over his nipples, and to such an enthusiastically self-debasing extreme that the band name It's Time to Rock actually—for a few naked, honey-smeared moments—sheds any embarrassing ironic baggage and becomes awesomely accurate.
"Our name's easy to burn on," agrees bassist Chris Lisk. "We've talked about this, and we decided there's only been three really good band names: the Dead Kennedys, Born Against, and . . . well, I can't think of the other one."
"It's a dumb name," adds guitarist Jake Sahagen, who—we're sorry, but it must be said—looks exactly like Jesus. "But all of a sudden, it's become us."
And in a way, it has: their first self-titled CD on Balboa label Prime Directive was a flashy but sort-of-self-conscious riff on rock & roll not too far removed from the straightedge hardcore bands they used to play with: ask Josh about the time he climbed onstage with some big straightedge band—totally shitfaced, of course—to help them sing a chorus that went, "Straightedge till the day I die!" Oh, the irony!
But their upcoming CD is rock without any irony at all—and not rock like you'd hear in a dive bar clogged with hipsters, but rock like you'd hear in your older brother's panel van back in 1976. Rock like Queen, like Floyd, like anything you would most definitely not expect a bunch of twentysomething OC kids to be playing. Or at least not playing like they mean it—but they really, really do. Jake taught himself to play piano by studying Queen albums (they added keyboardist Ty Sanders just recently), and Josh watches lots of VH1 specials—the Doors, the Stooges, the Stones—so you know when they say rock, they mean it in the most straight-faced and intense way possible. It's quite an evolution.
Most tellingly, Josh's mom doesn't want to put him in a mental institution anymore, even if he is working on a new politically charged performance piece involving bikini underwear, motor oil and an American flag.
"Now my mom's like, 'You playing tonight? Don't get naked!'" says Josh. "And I'm like, 'Um, okay, see ya!'"It's Time to Rock performs with the Line, Arkham and The Rosebud Foundation at the Liquid Den, 5061 Warner Ave., Huntington Beach, (714) 377-7964. Fri., 8 p.m. $5. 21+.