It's probably at the age of 22 when most casual weekend punks hang up the bullet belts for good, slowly shifting toward less cohesive music—Coldplay, mostly. That is also the number of years that have passed since Final Warning, one of Portland's most respected and under-appreciated punk acts, called it quits before they ever released a proper full-length. Thankfully that changed when well-respected metal label Southern Lord compiled PDX, a perfectly documented anthology from a band that extinguished far too quickly. Long before punk and metal slid into bed together, Final Warning were assembling a massive wall of noise that hinged punk's fury alongside the snarling noise of gritty metal. This week marks the iconic band's first local appearance since disappearing into the night 22 years back, and drummer Dan Cunneen talks about the reunion and why there are more important things than singing about girls and cars.
MERCURY: It's been 22 years since your last show. Any particular reason for getting back together right now?
CUNNEEN: The primary motive was PDX, the Southern Lord retrospective and the re-issue of the Final Warning EP on Blackwater Records. We all collaborated on both of the releases, so we just decided to take the next step and book a couple shows. We played a great warm-up gig in Seattle a couple weeks ago and now we're ready for the real deal in our hometown. We're stoked to play Satyricon again, even though it isn't the same place it was when we played there back in the day. There have been some great punk shows there recently and we really wanted to play to an all-ages crowd.
Your run as a band was so brief. Do you feel that Final Warning faded out too soon?
I think we all wish we had gotten our shit together and made a full-length record, but there's no remorse. Right now, we're just focused on the Portland show. We're excited to see some old faces and also turn some kids on to our music.
One of the first things that drew me to the band was the mixture of hardcore and metal in your sound. At that time, was combining those two genres a common thing?
It wasn't too common back then, I guess we were one of the earlier bands to mix our punk with metal. We were listening to bands like Motörhead and Metallica as well as hardcore like Discharge and the Germs back then, so it seemed natural to fuse them together. We didn't give it a lot of thought or consider it groundbreaking—it was just what we liked.
When it came to metal, the influence stopped at the music, though. We may have liked girls, drugs, and cars, but we never sang about that stuff. We were always very political. Most of our lyrics stuck to anti-violence, anti-war, and anti-idiot themes. We loved the idea of combining grinding, heavy music with lyrics about how pathetic and ignorant Nazi punks are, as opposed to songs about girls who keep their motor clean.
Final Warning performs at Satyricon on Saturday, September 20.