Redd Kross Have a New Record After 15 Years
See also: Still a Malcontent: A midlife crisis spawns Keith Morris' new band Off!
The McDonald Brothers, the driving force behind punk legends Redd Kross, stand well over six feet tall and have awkward gaits. Ahead of their new album -- Researching the Blues, out today -- they're sitting together in a Hollywood diner. Steven, who plays with hardcore punk supergroup Off! in addition to Redd Kross, spoons cheesy eggs onto a bagel. Jeff, the older, taller of the pair sports sunglasses indoors and picks at a blueberry muffin. "PJ Soles was really the Parker Posey of her time," he says absentmindedly, referring to the star of the Ramonesploitation flick Rock And Roll High School.
A torrent of obscure, D-grade pop cultural references follow. The McDonald Brothers' faces slowly light up as they realize a fellow trash art aficionado has been sent to interrogate them. We talk of Russ Meyer, Roger Corman and Britney Spears. The conversation quickly turns to Spirit of '76, a campy film the brothers starred in beside David Cassidy in the 1990s.
"We'd always ask him about deep cuts from Partridge Family tracks," says Steven, the more gregarious of the two. "He'd just look at us and ask 'Are you fucking with me?'"
The same question could be asked of Redd Kross themselves. Formed when the brothers were in middle school, their first show was opening for Black Flag. Since then, the group have transformed from teenage punk thrashers to power pop craftsmen to garage pop veterans, with the McDonald brothers the only constant. Researching the Blues sounds like it was recorded circa 1980 in the Hawthorne, CA garage the band started in.
The record follows a 15-year absence. In the interim, Steven dubbed bass tracks on White Blood Cells. Jeff made a solo album, Performs The Outrageous Incantations Of Beatrice Winters, released by tiny Hollywood indie label, Records Ad Nauseum. The latter, an experimental collection of tracks influenced by Metal Machine Music, Boyd Rice's Black Album, The Beatles edgier stuff and musique concrete, was "a cleanse," Jeff says.
Keeping current is always a challenge, and doubly so when your band has a self-consciously "retro" aesthetic. "People think keeping fresh is having a Roland keyboard no one else is using," says Steven.
Jeff provides a more direct explanation of how the band rolls with the changes after 30 years: