UPDATE: Now with photos by John Gilhooley! According to John, the turnout was twice the capacity of the venue.
The Adicts played under the name the "Clockwork Boys" at Slidebar last night
Yesterday, I watched the Adicts practice one of their best known songs, "Joker in the Pack," on the small stage at the Slidebar in Fullerton. It was in anticipation of that evening's secret show (they played under the name "The Clockwork Boys" to keep it a secret), and one oddity stood out: The band's usual bassist, Shahen, was nowhere to be found.
In his stead was a cherubic young greenhorn named Cody Farwell, bopping his head and chewing gum with the aplomb of a disaffected teenager. As I soon learned, this was the first time the young bloke straight out of the fine city of Glendale had played with the venerable punkers of England.
According to guitarist Pete Dee, their regular bassist is stuck in Spain with visa issues. Farwell, a friend of Adict's violinist Dan Graziani, will fill the gap for all 21 dates on the band's North American tour.
I got to spend some time on the Slidebar's smoking patio yesterday with Pete Dee, drummer Kid Dee, guitarist Scruff Dee, violinist Dan Graziani and Farwell, their new recruit. A good portion of this time was spent ribbing the red-cheeked youngster, who was wearing a cub scout hat and repeatedly referred to as a 12-year-old by the rest of the band.
"We had a lot of bass players to choose from," explained Pete Dee, "but we went with Cody because he's very virginal." Explaining what the tour holds in store for him, he quipped, "He'll get laid a lot."
For the most part, Farwell kept quiet, looking to Pete Dee for guidance before answering questions about his new gig. While nervous about the upcoming tour, he quickly added, "But I'm just more excited at this point."
(After all, serving as a gun-for-hire in one of punk rock's longest-running almost all-original-member acts is pure gravy.) While the upcoming tour seems short, Dee says the relative brevity is in the interest of the mental health of those who have been at it for half a lifetime. "You start getting itchy. You start getting under peoples' skins. After three weeks, I'm told, you start thinking about taking drugs."
Dee mentioned both he and lead singer Monkey were at the doctor yesterday for epidurals--Dee for pain associated with a recently broken neck and cancer (which he doesn't like to discuss) and Monkey for a herniated disk.
Does extreme pain and the specter of death drain any of the passion out of performing live? Dee shoots back incredulously, "Have you seen us play?"
Indeed, the band who's released eight studio albums and toured the world for more than three decades continues to put on a high-energy live show replete with salvos of confetti, glitter and massive beach balls. The band has been rewarded with a devoted international cult following.
"What I see from the stage, there's nothing on this planet to say how humble we are to receive such feedback from our fans," says Dee.
Later on, while the rest of the band sets up their gear, singer Keith "Monkey" Warren quietly sits at one of the Slidebar's tables filling up boxes with the aforementioned glitter and confetti to be used at that night's show. Nearby sit a bolo hat and an amplifier draped in the Adict's trademark logo, a British flag emblazoned with the image of Monkey smiling maniacally, his face covered in pain å
la Alex in the Stanley Kubrick film about British sociopaths, A Clockwork Orange. The image is distincltly at odds with the voxman's soft-spoken demeanor, and his grizzled mug was almost unrecognizable without greasepaint smeared all over it.
When asked if he has any concerns about starting a tour with a newbie bassist who's never played with the band, he offers a pragmatic response. "We're used to going into these situations where we don't rehearse anyway. Obviously it's easier for us with 30 years of sense memory to fall back on ... but that's part of the point of doing (tonight's) show."
Judging by the afternoon's practice, the band has little to worry about. Though there were moments when Farwell looked slightly uncertain and cast wary glances around the stage while playing, it may have had more to do with first-day jitters. Otherwise, he played each song with confidence after a quick glance at the set list taped to the stage in front of him.
As for the rest of the group, old-school punks though they may be, nothing about their performance was sloppy. Their practice set, performed to a small concrete room sparsely populated with roadies and Slidebar employees, was tight and rousing. Each chorus featured the anthemic howl of four voices mixed perfectly with a blend of crunchy guitars and see- sawing electric violin fills.
As they played such classics as "Who Spilt My Beer," "Angel," and "Viva La Revolucion" the few people in the room sang along. A group of teenagers gathered outside on Commonwealth--some bearing guitars, which band members gladly autographed during the smoke break. Cody soon eased into the set.
It looked like the kid passed this first test, and I told the band so. Guitarist Scruff smiled and said, "He played all the right notes. Just in the wrong order."