A newer Orange County punk band is making waves, playing with legendary groups from the scene and sharing the stage with other known outfits at the upcoming It's Not Dead festival.
Toxic Energy formed in mid-2016 after the reconciliation of a band, Middle Class Rejects, that vocalist Greg Dickson and guitarist John Darrow performed in.
"Greg and I decided to play some shows together after about a two-year hiatus from the band," Darrow explained, adding that the group’s reunion didn't go as well as they had hoped. "After that, Greg, Chris (McBride, drums) and I decided we should start our own new thing and leave Middle Class Rejects in the past. Thus, we started jamming new music, which is what we're playing now in Toxic Energy."
Since then, Toxic Energy — which released its first four-track EP "Never Look Back" on Aug. 8 and offers a dynamic sound that crowds can dance or slam to — has opened for the likes of bands like D.I., Agent Orange and The Dickies.
Bassist Mikey Woodside, who performed in other punk and hardcore groups before joining Toxic Energy, said his favorite memory with the band so far has been shredding up the Doll Hut in Anaheim, opening for D.I. and Bear Fight.
"It was a blast, and the crowd was really into us," he recalled. "We had people getting on stage and everything."
Dickson said his seasoned history as a musician has allowed him to become skilled at booking shows and handling the business portion of the band.
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"We have been in this a long time, and if we are not going to the next level, you have to ask yourself if this is worth it," he said. "People like Kevin Lyman have been extremely rad to me and the band with opportunities."
Lyman, who booked Middle Class Rejects in the past and has spearheaded festivals like The Vans Warped Tour, signed Toxic Energy onto the bill for the second annual It's Not Dead — taking place Aug. 26 at San Bernardino's Glen Helen Amphitheater — alongside groups like Rancid, Dropkick Murphys, Buzzcocks, Off, The Adicts and more.
Darrow said he believes this success shows that punk rock can still be relevant in a time where pop and hip-hop dominate the airwaves and streaming services "with all the auto-tuned nonsense."
McBride described the group's live shows as "controlled chaos."
"When we're up there, we are so full of energy and emotion," he said. "I like to think that we're having a chance to share our art with other people, and that is truly an honor. When I'm up on stage, I try to give it my all and try to make a connection with the people watching us."
Toxic Energy performs at IT's Not Dead Fest on Aug. 26. For more info, click here.