Social Distortion Road-Testing New Songs On Tour

Julien Bourgeois
Social Distortion Photo (L to R): Brent Harding, Atom Willard, Mike Ness, Jonny “2Bags” Wickersham

Five years after the release of Social Distortion's last studio effort, "Sex, Love and Rock 'n' Roll," guitarist Jonny "2Bags" Wickersham tells the veteran punk band has new material ready for a tentative 2010 street date.

"Hopefully we're going to get busy when we get home from this current tour," Wickersham says. "Yeah, we've been road testing like four songs into the set and working on songs at sound checks and stuff, which we do pretty regularly. There's one that we've been doing for quite a while called 'Can't Take it With You.' It's a cool rocker.

"And we just recently put 'Bakersfield' back in the set, which isn't a new song but it's looking like it's probably going to get recorded. We've been doing it off and on for a couple of years. That's kind of like a country song in a way. It's different, not a straight-up country tune."

Wickersham said Social Distortion's current month-long tour, which includes a show tonight (Oct. 2) in Austintown, Ohio, has been offering fans a look back with a few songs from the group's definitive 1983 debut effort, "Mommy's Little Monster," as well as material from the Mike Ness-led outfit's more recent albums.

"We may not put a record out every year like a lot of bands but we work really hard on our show," Wickersham says. "We practice hard and we just focus on the songs we're playing. What we don't do is just go out there and bash out the old hits and call it a night. We'll be working on songs that are 20 years old. And if it hasn't been sounding right, like at the shows, Mike will want to work on that and find out what the problem is. Just try to get that magic back to play that song the way it needs to be played."

As for where the band may be headed stylistically speaking on what will be its seventh studio album, Wickersham looks to "Sex, Love and Rock 'n' Roll" as a point of reference.

"Some of the songs were more old school punk rock based, but lyrically the thing that people seemed to really grasp was the somewhat optimistic nature of the songs and the lyrics," Wickersham says. "Not quite so angry as most of the past stuff."

So is the band feeling angry now?

"Um, well, there are always things you can get angry about, but it would be a different sort of an anger, a more mature level of anger," Wickersham says. "We're not 22-year-old kids. We have to write from where we're at. We can't pretend we're teenage punk rockers running the streets still, because we're not. That would be ridiculous."