For any early punk/hardcore fan, the word ‘Gilman’ is what ‘Bethlehem’ must mean to a Catholic – a holy place, sacred ground, the birthplace of some of the most infamous bands of all time. For Jughead’s Revenge, it was the start of their career – a journey that has seen the band through 17 years, an 8 year hiatus and six studio albums. We spoke with long-serving frontman Joe Doherty about the Gilman legacy, touring with Bad Religion and heading to Australia for Hits & Pits Festival.
By Meghan Player
The band was originally formed in 1988 – how much has the punk “scene” changed since then? Is it a good or bad change?
Lots of changes, trends that came and went. I think change is good when it comes naturally for a band. Not because it was “the thing everyone else is doing”. When change is natural it keeps things interesting.
Jughead’s Revenge is part of the iconic Gilman Street legacy – do you think today’s underground punk culture is lacking a venue like Gilman that embraces the core of the scene?
There are a lot of promoters in California (Thee Static Age/The Slumber Party’s Over/Numbskull) and venues around that put everything they have into shows and treat bands and their scenes with the same amount of respect. You just don’t hear about them as much though.
I read that the band started on the idea of doing punk covers – Black Flag, The Circle Jerks etc – is it rad to think after 20+ years, you’ll be sharing the stage with Black Flag in Australia?
Yes it is true. When we started we were jamming in a rehearsal space – playing songs we all liked and mutually knew. Then over the years we would end up playing with most of those bands. I really can’t complain.
Interestingly, the ‘surf’ style of music forged a large part of the bands sound over the years – what inspired that particular sound? Was it inspired by your different tastes in music?
We have always liked and been into different kinds of music. That has inspired us as much as any punk band. We started playing surf songs in rehearsal and figured why not play it live? We eventually started recording them. Surf music for us is just as much a part of our formula as punk and hardcore has been.
The band has seen it’s fair share of lineup changes over the years – but the core ethos of the band has managed to not only stay intact, but move boldly into the future – was it important to find band members that embraced the original sound but bought their own influences etc to the table?
Most bands that have been around for over 20 years have line up changes. Luckily members we added down the road had already been into the band and were on the same page as us.
When the band called an ‘undetermined hiatus’ – were you burnt out from constant touring?
Not so much burnt out as it was just time to hang back and see what happens. Around 2000 it was clear that bands in our scene were either really going for it commercially, or breaking up. We didn’t want to do either. So when the time was right, we started playing again.
You’ve been playing a few shows in the US – supporting Bad Religion as well as playing anniversary shows for your debut album – now you’re heading to Australia in November to tour here – is it the right time for the band to come together again?
Bad Religion gave us some of our first shows – opening for them when we first started out. We owe Jay Bentley everything. When they were doing their 30th anniversary shows, they asked if we would come play with them again. Lots of fun. So we went with it and now we’re heading to Australia in November. We are absolutely thrilled.
Will this be the start of a new chapter for the band?
That too is undetermined.
Do you have any plans to release any new material? I read that a 7″ could be in the works?
We have been knocking a few ideas around. Only time will tell.
What I love and respect about the band is your choice to do away with charging for your past albums – as means of cutting out the bullshit that comes with waiting on royalties etc – what inspired this bold move?
We have never been big fans of record companies. They are what you need the most, and trust the least. At least back then. We haven’t been paid by any of the labels we were on in over a decade. The way we see it is that we’d rather give the store away and post everything on the bands website for free download, than continuing to line their pockets.
What are you looking forward to most about heading to Australia?
Everything. I honestly have no idea what to expect out of this, and I love it.
What can Australian audiences expect from your live shows?
They can expect no bullshit. We aren’t an arena rock band or someone that’s going to blow smoke up your ass. We play these songs with honesty and everything we got, and that’s what you’ll get.
Many thanks to Joe for taking the time to chat to us. Jughead’s Revenge will be hitting Australian shores in November as part of the Hits & Pits Festival. More information can be found at: https://www.facebook.com/HitsandPits