Nineteen years ago, Death By Stereo brought together their glorious mish-mash of old-school punk-rock fury, raw energy and brutal metal musicianship. Manic tours, a few arguments and six albums later, the band went on hiatus, but late last year, a new EP surfaced, Just Like You'd Leave Us, We've Left You for Dead.
According to front man Efrem Schulz, rather than making a conscious decision to take a break, the members of Death By Stereo simply drifted into other projects for a while. "Everybody was just so busy with other things," Schulz says. "I think if we didn't have that break, we could have made more music, for sure. We had the songs for a while, and getting the chance to finally record them was great."
During that time apart, Schulz, the only original member of Death By Stereo left, became a prominent face in the OC music scene, thanks to his work with local bands as co-owner of Programme Skate & Sound in Fullerton. "Everybody is in multiple bands," Schulz adds. "Our drummer [Mike Cambra] is in the Adolescents, one of our guitar players [Dan Palmer] is in Zebrahead, and until recently, I played in a band called Manic Hispanic. Everybody was busy traveling and doing other projects. We're finally back and focused on this."
With all the band members in the same place for the first time in a long while, they returned to the studio and are now embarking on a tour. Schulz says he can't wait to get out and play these new songs live.
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They've certainly reunited at an interesting time, and the singer admits that the new song "I Think About Killing You Everyday" is about our divisive new president. While the band have built their career on being angry, Schulz is happy people are picking up the gauntlet and speaking out in the face of injustice. "I've always said, this is the only country where people don't take direct action on anything," he says. "We just watch TV shows and get fat. Right now, this is a big awakening for the country. Now, even the people who voted for Trump are starting to say, 'Whoops—he's not our buddy.'"
Schulz believes this is a healthy time for OC punk, with young bands performing at Programme regularly. Though some of them might blend traditional punk and hardcore with other genres, such as grunge, he thinks the creativity is all good. "The '90s is really big right now for kids," Schulz says.
While there have been numerous lineup changes within Death By Stereo, the band have been stable since 2010 (perhaps, in part, because of the hiatus). Original guitarist Jim Miner has been guesting with the band, though, and Friday's gig should be one such show. "We're gonna show up to the Karman Bar and get drunk with a bunch of our friends," Schulz says. "Get crazy. One of my Manic Hispanic band mates, Mo Grease, lives right by that bar, so he's gonna show up with a bunch of knuckleheads, and we're gonna lose our minds."
Death By Stereo perform with Dead Friends 46, Modern Enemy, All Time Losers and Spider at the Karman Bar, 26022 Cape Dr., Laguna Niguel, (949) 582-5909; www.thekarmanbar.com. Fri., 8 p.m. $15. 21+.