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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Rancid's Bay Area Roots: 5 Things You May Not Know...

Posted By on Wed, Oct 1, 2014 at 2:45 PM

click image RACHEL TEJADA
  • Rachel Tejada

Punk rockers the world over got excited yesterday when Rancid released a sneaky preview of their eighth album, ...Honor Is All We Know. The new tracks, "Collision Course", "Honor Is All We Know," and "Evil's My Friend" are the first new material we've heard from the band since 2009's Let The Dominoes Fall. To mark this exciting occasion, we wanted to look back the band's Bay Area roots (guitarist/vocalist Lars Frederiksen is the only member still living here). Here are five things you may not know about Rancid's earliest days.

1. Everyone knows by now what an important place Berkeley's 924 Gilman St. was in the formation of most of Bay Area punk rock's biggest acts (Green Day, AFI, NOFX, etc.), but few people know that back when Rancid used Gilman as a rehearsal space every Sunday in the early '90s, they were only permitted to do so on the understanding that they would clean the (legendarily grimy) venue toilets. Bassist Matt Freeman, in his Operation Ivy days, had also acted as Gilman's garbageman every Monday morning, in exchange for free gig entry at the warehouse. 

2. In 1993, when the decision was made to add a second guitarist to Rancid's lineup, Lars Frederiksen wasn't the first man who tried out for the job — Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong was. Armstrong played one show with the band at Gilman before Frederiksen was chosen as a permanent member.

3. After Green Day and Offspring blew up and changed the face of MTV in 1994, major labels were falling over themselves to sign the next big punk band. Rancid was approached by a variety of big-hitters, but the most surprising offer came from Madonna, who approached the quartet at a New York show and offered them a deal on her Maverick label. Guitarist/vocalist Tim Armstrong told old friend Larry Livermore in 2009: “Ultimately, we decided it would be dumb not to stay with [Epitaph owner and president] Brett Gurewitz, a real record guy, a punk rock record guy. Madonna’s cool, but she’s an international superstar. She’s not a punk rock record guy. That’s what we need.”

4. Shortly after Lars Frederiksen joined the band, it became apparent that he had a pretty major drinking problem. Matt Freeman wanted to kick him out of Rancid, but newly-sober Tim Armstrong — who'd struggled with booze in his Operation Ivy days — insisted they give the new guy a chance. An ultimatum was given to Frederiksen: Sober up or get out. He went with the former and quickly became such a trusted member and friend, he was cut in on the royalties to Rancid's self-titled debut full-length — a record he didn't even play on. 

5. Rancid's third album, 1995's ...And Out Come The Wolves, sold more than a million copies despite being released by a then-relatively-small independent label, Epitaph. It was only the second punk album to manage this, after Offspring's Smash — another Epitaph release.  

...Honor Is All We Know will be released Oct. 27.
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