Ever want to be the lead singer in a punk rock band? Well, here’s your chance to put all those hours of singing in the shower to use and take the stage front and center. At Punk Rock Karaoke, you can belt out your favorite jams as a live band with some guys who know a thing or two about punk rock. On guitar is Greg Hetson (Bad Religion, Circle Jerks) and Eric Melvin (NOFX), Steve Soto (Adolescents) and Eddie Tatar (Dickies) on bass and Darrin Pfeiffer (Goldfinger, Sum 41) on drums.
“It’s the original punk rock concept. There’s no rock stars…Everybody’s in it together. Everybody’s capable of getting up and doing it and having a good time. If you’re great, cool. That’s great. If you fall on your face and you mess it up, who cares? Even better,” Hetson tells the Weekly.
Punk Rock Karaoke started off as a one-time party event on New Year’s Eve at a restaurant called Vida out in Los Angeles. The idea was brought to light through Hetson’s friend. While Hetson was under the impression they would have to acquire a machine, his friend suggested he and a few others play the songs live. Thus, Punk Rock Karaoke was born.
Hetson called some of his closest pals that he knew would be down to partake in the occasion, to which would result in an ongoing event. The original members aside from Hetson and Melvin were Stan Lee (The Dickies), Jennifer Finch (L7), Derek O’Brien (Social Distortion) and Bob Mothersbaugh (Devo). With such prominent punk rock musicians giving karaoke a completely different meaning, PRK has become a legendary phenomenon. Not only can you can take a break from hearing the same shitty top 40 songs over and over again, but you can also enjoy hearing actual live music.
Since '96, Punk Rock Karaoke has surpassed the group's expectations and has allowed them to tour, play in front of people, travel the world and play other band's songs without a singer. Hetson considers it "pretty crazy" that people are still coming out even 20 years later. The plan is to "just have fun and roll with it."
When you think punk, you think Iggy Pop rolling around in shards of glass and vomiting on stage. Well, some participants at PRK have the same sort of idea.
“Some kid came up to sing, and he was doing his thing and puked…the guy was just wasted and it’s the excitement of being that wasted. We’ve had people get into it and break bottles on their heads...That doesn't happen too often though,” says Hetson.
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You don’t have to be a hardcore punk fan though to come up and sing your lungs out on karaoke nights. There is an extensive list of about 60 songs ranging from artists including Iggy Pop, The Runaways, The Go-Go’s, and just about every punk rock band you’d find on a greatest hits compilation. The group considers their set-list to be like a box of chocolates - you never know what you're gonna get. And that's what makes it fun for not only the participants, but the band too.
Want to release your inner Henry Rollins? All you have to do is write your name on the sign-up sheet and pick your song. Once your song is called, strut your stuff to the stage and raise your voice!
"You’re going to have a great time, you're going to hear some great songs. Usually, we don’t mess them up. It's like any great karaoke night, but with the bonus of having a live band and people that have been in other bands that people might have heard of...or not," says Hetson.
Punk Rock Karaoke will take place at The Karman Bar on Sat. Oct. 15, 8 p.m. $10, +21.