Hey all! Welcome to the third installment of PUNK ROCK IS YOUR FRIEND and today we chat with DANGER FRIENDS, Kung Fu Records latest addition to the label! DANGER FRIENDS is a second-wave synth-punk band from Simi Valley, CA, the suburban home of the infamous Rocketdyne nuclear disaster. The band formed in 2009 from the remains of various punk and synth-pop bands; taking influences from groups like DEVO, Murder City Devils, The Cure, and The Screamers to craft their own raw, synthesizer and bass driven punk rock, without the aid of guitar! Punknews.org describes them as, “… the perfect kind of punk band in that they give two shits about what punk is “supposed” to be or what it has become….The Screamers, Gary Numan, and The Normal would all be proud. Highly recommended.”
We sat down with them as they prepare for the upcoming 20th Annual Christmas Formal with THE VANDALS and TSUNAMI BOMB at the Anaheim House of Blues on Saturday, December 19th! Here is what they had to say:
Starting with the classic questions, how was the band started?
Brian and Jay kept up talking about making a band even though Jay had moved up to San Francisco. Jay eventually got too cold and moved back home and we started jamming and writing. We then convinced James to come to one practice and he was super skeptical that wouldn’t be punk enough for him (go figure, the guy who brings keys to punk band was the skeptic). Turns out, Brian yelled enough for James and he was in. The only problem was we couldn’t convince a guitar player (numerous try-outs) to stick around.
Has the lack of guitars been limiting or liberating?
It wasn’t for lack of trying. Originally, we figured guitar was the way to go. After a while we realized we really didn’t want or need a guitar because James and Jay were able to fill the gap in a way that we preferred. Also, imagine a band without the ego of a lead guitarist, and all you have to deal with is the super ego of a vocalist and keyboardist who thinks he knows things, but doesn’t. We think its both limiting and liberating. Jay gets to pretend he is playing guitar when he really isn’t able to handle that many strings.
Where did the band name come from?
We took it from our friend Billy’s Xbox Live name. There was a moment where we toyed with being Danger Friends USA ( 5 years), but after numerous friend requests from foreigners looking for American friends, we decided it was time to drop the USA. Ironically, there has been a drop of friend requests on face book.
What music do you draw from that has influenced the band?
Screamers, Murder City Devils, Devo, The Cure, Gary Numan, the Buzzcocks. They are all great!
Do you consider Danger Friends to be punk rock? What is punk rock to you?
Ya, we think so. There is always something inherently lame about saying, ‘ ya, im punk,’ but….. ya know? We all come from a pretty solid punk background and we figured that just showed through the music (there is a whole lot of nasally screaming going on if you didn’t notice). Punk to us? Harder music without the limitation of having to be good at what you’re doing. Also, it turns out we did something kinda different? I don’t know, what’s it to you (this is us being angry and defensive punks)?
What three adjectives describe your music and band?
aggressively self-defeating optimists
How did you come to be on Kung Fu Records?
Well this is the thing. We had been a band for five years and we were going to put a record out on our own but Jay had too much to drink and thought it would be a good idea to ask Kung Fu if they would do it. As an aside, the great part of this was one of Jay’s punk idols were the Vandals (the band that got Jay into punk and Brian’s second concert) so in drunk desperation Jay emailed his hero and got an EP for us. So kids, follow your dreams.
Any other Kung Fu Records releases you like? Any you would recommend to people? Any bands you would like to play or tour with (past or present)?
Ozma was a keyboard band before keyboard bands were cool. We are huge fans of Tsunami Bombs and Hitler bad, Vandals good is a classic record but you don’t need us telling you that. Murder City Devils would be great! Vandals and Tsunami Bomb (two down, one to go!)
How would you describe your live show?
Its generally a wall of noise, abrasive and barely controlled chaos.
Any great tour stories?
We once played too loud at a venue in North Hollywood and the sound guy had a meter that he kept pointing at during the show to tell us to be more quiet. The thing is we saw him alter the meters readings to make it even more quiet than he originally said we needed to be because he didn’t like our music. He ended up cutting vocals and kicking us off stage. It was pretty rad.
We recently played Punk Rock Bowling and were opening for the Weirdos, Dickies, and the Rezillos (pretty great lineup, right?) We were the opener and we were incredibly excited to play this gig. The one thing that we could not and would not do was to mess this up. First song, Marc’s kick pedal chain snaps. The replacement comes slowly and us goons are trying not to have the crowd turn on this ‘daydream Jonny’ opening band. The replacement kick in, we start song two…. and the replacement kick breaks too (we were told not to bring ours and were dumb enough to listen). Finally, after another 5 minute lull, we fixed it and finished the set to the best of our ability. Suffice it to say, people left that show saying Danger Friends were AWESOME!
How did the music video for “Zeros” come about?
Brian had a cool idea, we didn’t have any money, but we did have a garage and plentiful amount of confetti and legs and arms. So… With that, we pretty much did the only video that we could do. Then we edited it ourselves and released it!
If someone was reading has never heard the band, what song would you recommend they start with?
Jay, James, and Brian also assumed it was Zeros but now we aren’t so sure. We just switched drummers and picked up our old friend Jim (Dead Yeller, Henchmen 21, Punk Is Dead). Before this, Jim is our self proclaimed ‘number one fan’ and he claims that you should listen to I Feel Sorry. So, there you go!
Are you excited about the upcoming Christmas Formal? What should people expect from you guys?
Yes, absolutely excited about this!!!!!! We are currently participating in a ‘festive think tank’ to decide on how to best represent the holiday season with our performance. It’ll probably be weird… and …. well, probably just weird.
What’s the plans for the future? What’s next for Danger Friends?
We need shows, We want shows, We will play shows, and we’re working on new material!
Anything you would like to add?
Come to the show on December 19th! We promise to do our best!!! We hope not to have technical difficulties!!
Hear the brand new EP “ZEROS” on KUNG FU RECORDS:
Get tickets to the Saturday, December 19th Christmas Formal with THE VANDALS, TSUNAMI BOMB, and DANGER FRIENDS at the ANAHEIM HOUSE OF BLUES LIVE NATION SITE
You can see our previous episodes of PUNK ROCK IS YOUR FRIEND here:
PUNK ROCK IS YOUR FRIEND 2: Tommi of BIFFERS
PUNK ROCK IS YOUR FRIEND 1: René van der Zee of COOPER