LIKE CANADIAN GEESE and feral cats, old punks are experiencing a population explosion. The growth is staggering and exponential. How will we deal with punks in wheelchairs, punks in bifocals, and punks on Social Security? It's something to think about.
Until the day when old punks flood nursing homes and slow express lanes, it's best the aging renegades stay occupied. Maybe, like Portland's MDC, they go unplugged. Maybe, like Jello Biafra, they get the idea that three-disc spoken-word albums can change the world. Or maybe, like Only Crime, they do what old punks do best—write angry, slightly updated, punk rock.
"When we started the band, we looked at it as an opportunity to take our collective experience, and put it toward something new," offered Russ Rankin, Only Crimes' singer, who fellow aging punks will remember from Good Riddance. If you know of Rankin, you're probably familiar with guitarist Aaron Dalbec (Bane, Converge, Velocity Engine), bassist Donivan Blair (Hagfish, Armstrong), guitarist Zach Blair (Hagfish, GWAR), and most of all drummer Bill Stevenson (Descendents, All, Black Flag). These are the parts that make Only Crime tick.
On January 23, Only Crime released their second full-length album, titled Virulence. Sparing a longwinded definition, in laymen's terms, virulence is the ability of a microorganism to cause disease. More generally, the word has to do with hostility and rage. It's an apt title. "Shotgun" and "This is Wretched" exemplify the anger these veterans still foster. Compared to the band's 2004 debut, To the Nines, on Virulence Only Crime sounds more like an organic band, and less like a group of guys famous for past success.
"To the Nines was more derivative than each of us would like of our previous bands. Some songs sound like Good Riddance, some sound like Black Flag, and so on. Virulence doesn't sound as much like our former bands. At least that's what we hope."