In his instantly recognizable and seemingly trademark bleached blonde hair, faded black jeans, and black v-neck sweater combo, Brad Logan’s grating vocals and power chords cut through the sold out Observatory crowd like a fucking chainsaw. Bodies flew through the air thick with pot smoke, sweat, and spit, while a pit the size of a swimming pool quickly engulfed the entire floor. Nearly every face in the crowd screamed along to “One Dead Cop,” “Gay Rude Boys Unite” and “Crack City Rockers,” songs that channel the angst and fear so many of us felt growing up under the same political climate that inspired Leftover Crack’s critical post 9/11 anthems. Leftover Crack frontman Stza routinely announces LÖC as a band from New York City, but among the East Coast crustie politicos on stage is a man from a place known less for squat houses and protests and more for flip houses, corporations, and conservatism – Orange County, CA.
Brad Logan has been an unsung hero and working class radical stronghold in the Orange County punk scene since the ‘80s. In addition to being immortalized by Rancid in a song for Chef Aid: The South Park Album aptly titled “Brad Logan,” he has been a member of Leftöver Crack, played in dozens of local acts, and co-fronted the criminally underrated hardcore band F-Minus that screamed in scathing opposition to corporate greed and punk apathy. After 30 years in the scene, Logan isn’t letting up. With new releases from both Leftöver Crack and his new Huntington Beach based feminist hardcore band Rats in the Wall, national and international tours, and a book in the works, 2016 is shaping up to be a year of revival for an Orange County legend many have yet to get acquainted with.
Before becoming a politically charged guitarist and frontman, Logan was an H.B. boy who idolized Elton John with a fierce love for music. “My mom would bring me home records that she would get at the swap meet for a quarter,” says Logan remembering some of the original pressing Alice Cooper, KISS, and Black Sabbath gems she scored as well as attending shows with his dad at Anaheim Stadium. “My parents bought me a guitar when I was little, and enrolled me in lessons where I learned how to play “Jambalaya” and “Michael Row the Boat Ashore,” and from there I got an electric guitar for Christmas,” he says. The six string gift would change Logan’s life. Shortly after, Logan made his public debut, plucking his way through Cheap Trick covers at a school talent show.
As a teen, Logan was influenced by bands that pushed the boundaries of underground music, embracing local hardcore bands as well as acts like Nick Cave, X-Ray Spex, and Wire. He became an active guitarist in the ‘80s SoCal punk scene starting out in a band fronted by Tony Alva’s little brother, Mark, who coincidentally was the first to give Logan a punk haircut. From there, Logan got his first taste of traveling musicianship playing guitar in the proto-peace punk band Hari Kari from San Pedro, scoring short Southwest stints with The Misfits and Husker Du. “Bands that I was in didn’t really break up, they just sort of dissolved. Not because there was a problem, but because there were no expectations to become anything in music, bands were just something you did cause you couldn’t get a fucking job.”
In hopes of keeping himself surrounded by music, Logan began working “as a shitworker” in the music industry at record labels and as a stagehand for Goldenvoice during the ‘90s, which eventually landed him a gig as Rancid’s guitar tech for their Out Come the Wolves Tour. “I had never been a guitar tech or been on a big tour,” remembered Logan. “They were blowing up, playing in Europe and on SNL, and I had no idea what I was doing.” At his first show Logan failed miserably. “I knew how to change strings and I knew how to play guitar and that’s it. Fortunately for me the guys in Rancid came from the same background that I did, and instead of firing me they kept me on and humored me.”
The guitar tech job went from a temporary gig into a five-year career and close friendship. Tim Armstrong even wrote a song about Logan, inspired by morning tour conversations and brainstorms over coffee. “I would tell him my stories of what it was like to be a punk kid from Orange County and one day he told me he put a song together based on all the stories I would tell him,” an honor considering Armstrong is a hero of Logan’s. “That song is about growing up a punk in Orange County and being fucking tortured by it. To me the fact that he would even do it was a gift in itself, it didn’t even matter that it made it on a soundtrack or a record.”
F-Minus was started out of a similar brainstorming session between Armstrong and Logan. “At that time there wasn’t really anyone doing crude old style hardcore with no concern for melody, let alone any women doing it,” Logan says, “there were lots of guys doing “bro-wear lifestyle” punk “y’know, wearing board shorts and partying it up at Warped tour.” The members of F-Minus didn’t feel like that. “We didn’t see any fucking party, we were writing about social injustice and government tyranny.”
Upon returning from tour Logan curated his ideal line up by hitting up locals he respected. “Jen Johnson was the first, a local girl at all the shows that I always got along with, then Amery Smith from Suicidal Tendencies was the original drummer, and actually the band was named by our first guitar player Sara Lee, Aaron Barret of Reel Big Fish’s sister, and she is just an amazing talented artist and awesome guitarist and individual just filled with hate, I loved her.” After Lee left, Erica Daking took her place and the newly solidified quartet quickly signed to Armstrong’s Hellcat Records and hit the road.
Their songs were thirty second explosions of grinding co-ed punk in the vein of Discharge and Negative Approach, dealing with politics as well as the trappings of “growing up in Orange County during its conservative Christian hay-day.” The band’s primary mission was to make a statement and interject brutal, meaningful, female inclusive music back into the scene.
“We scared the shit out of your average Epitaph punk fan, jocks would [heckle us],” Logan remembered, “Guys would yell ‘show us your tits!’ And we wouldn’t have it…we gave them zero reaction – the girls would stonewall those motherfuckers. Mostly they just didn’t know what to make of [us],and it was great.”
Despite label backing and powerful music, the band didn’t catch on like other Epitaph groups did, and disbanded in 2006. “We didn’t give a fuck, we had no agenda or master-plan and were completely ignorant to the business side of the music industry. I’m not sure Gueriwitz liked us, but Tim loved us.” Looking back, Logan attests that there could never be a reunion because of the special circumstances that made F-Minus possible. “There isn’t that sense of urgency, I know I will never ever do anything as pure as that again.”
Another politically urgent band Logan is associated with is the aforementioned Leftöver Crack, a ska-hardcore powerhouse known for their hard hitting, often-satirical songs, criticizing the military industrial complex, police violence, and homophobia. Logan helped record LÖC frontman Stza’s former band Choking Victim in a NYC squat-turned-studio in 1999 and connected them with Hellcat records. After the self proclaimed “Satanic Crack Rock Steady” crew disbanded, Stza approached Logan to play guitar for his new group, and sent him demo tapes of that would become the first Leftöver Crack 7” and Mediocre Generica.
After multiple releases, a hiatus, and over a decade of touring, Leftöver Crack have become a punk staple and Fat Wreck Chords is releasing Constructs of the State, LÖC’s first official full length since Mediocre Generica and their first new release in over 7 years. “The new record is my favorite so far,” Logan says with the genuine excitement of a teenager. Recorded and designed over a span of six months, Constructs of the State features guest appearances and collaborations with legends like Operation Ivy’s Jesse Michaels and Crass’s Penny Rimbaud, as well as appearances by members of Intro5pect, Bouncing Souls, Blackbird Raum, and visual art by Shannon Knox, Fly, and Logan’s wife Kristen Ferrell.
“We always love to involve people because at the end of the day we’re just fans of music and artwork so it gives us an excuse to bring all these people together.” LÖC are doing it big this time around, and even released an official music video for the single “System Fucked” filmed on a rainy day at Bridgetown DIY in La Puente, starring and directed by Jesse Michaels. The “good Leftöver Crizzack” will be supporting their new record via a west coast tour with Anti Flag in February and March, with solo dates to follow in Canada, Europe, Australia, and Japan.
When Logan isn’t busy with Leftöver Crack and family, he’s working on projects such as his own music and his label Blacknoise Records which he originally started to release Morning Glory and Nausea records that no one would release. Now Logan jokes, “it’s like my Bluurg or Crass records” because he mostly uses it to put out his own projects like his newest band Rats in the Wall. Co-fronted by Logan and former Gather frontwoman Eva Genie, Rats in the Wall’s feminism fueled hardcore has been picking up steam since releasing their debut full length on Blacknoise in 2013. “We wanted to strip everything down without being just pure noise.” The group just released a split with East Bay punks Heartless Folk titled Skeletal Twins, and has plans to play locally and internationally in 2016. Additionally, Logan and company are in the beginning stages of a book of memoirs about Leftöver Crack. “Its like a Shakespearean tragic comedy.”
Although he never foresaw a career as a musician an attainable reality, Brad Logan has managed to eek out a life split between being Orange County’s most friendly anarchist next door and an international agent of political ska and hardcore for the better part of three decades.
“I play music just for the love of doing it,” he says. “Hearing yourself play and playing with other people is cathartic. It’s a great way of communicating, in a way that you can’t voice with words or anything else.” Brad Logan isn’t going anywhere. If anything, his dedication to radical music and widening the perceptions of what can be done in punk has become reinvigorated, his purpose defined and his focus sharpened.
“People have this attitude that punk is something that you have to grow out of, that when you grow up you have to do sophisticated music, but I don’t see any problem with continuing to work within punk, pushing the boundaries without being cookie cutter and lowest common denominator, because punk and hardcore doesn’t need to go out like that. If you ever see me with an acoustic guitar, fucking shoot me.”