The Adolescents are at it again. The iconic punk band formed in Fullerton decades ago is still angry about the Kelly Thomas beating death by city police in 2011. With a new album scheduled for release this summer, they're letting you know with a provocative album cover. The devil-horned piñata head of ex-Fullerton cop Manuel Ramos, shaded in a piggish hue of pink, dangles as a homeless man wielding a stick readies a whack to the delight of other homeless in the background. HA!
In addition to the artwork, there's a new song off the album that inspired it all. Lead singer Tony Cadena penned "A Dish Best Served Cold" about the Thomas killing. Slated to take a direct cue from the song, the album's working title was Revenge is a Dish Best Served Cold before settling on La Vendetta…, a hat tip to the original Sicily saying.
"After [Cadena] wrote the song, he came to me and says, 'Hey, this is my idea for the cover,'" says bassist Steve Soto. The Adolescents turned to Mario Rivera next, a Madrid-based artist whose done the album art for the band's last three releases. His talent brought their vision to fruition.
The song and the cover convey the anger still felt by the killing, especially after the murder trial ended in acquittal for Ramos and Jay Cicinneli, his partner that night. "Right before the verdict came in, I really thought this was going to be the time that things were going to change," Soto says. "It ended up being just one more bitter pill with a lot of bitter pills in life to swallow."
With the Weekly getting an exclusive sneak peek, "A Dish Best Served Cold" is righteous punk rock at its best. "We'll never forgive / The story will be told / With this pen, I'm gonna to fuck you up!" Cadena sings. The last line, of course, alludes to the infamous words Ramos said to Thomas while putting on latex gloves during the encounter.
"One of the ideas is to maybe pre-release that song as a digital download," Soto says. "It's not for commercial reasons as much as for people knowing what's going on."
The Thomas family responded positively to the album artwork. Cadena and Ron Thomas remain friends as the Adolescents headlined the one-year anniversary memorial concert in Fullerton for his bludgeoned son. The singer gave an early preview of the image to his approval. The band turned La Vendetta… into their label just a few weeks ago. The 16-song album is due out July 11 before the start of a European tour.
It's also coincidentally a day after the three-year anniversary of Kelly Thomas' death when taken off life support.
Follow Gabriel San Román on Twitter @dpalabraz