Rancid Tim Armstrong (vocals, guitar), Matt Freeman (bass, vocals), Lars Frederiksen (vocals, guitar), Branden Steineckert (drums) as a band have always been imbued with a sense of place: the blue collar neighborhoods where they grew up, their place as individuals within their band, their band as part of a movement and their evolving sense of place in relation to the world at large.
Born in the midst of the post-Reagan economic downturn in the San Francisco Bay Area, the East Bay region specifically, Rancid came to light as Armstrong and Freeman were moving forward after the first band they founded, Operation Ivy, reached a friendly demise. Arguably the most influential band from the Bay Area, the West Coast, the late 1980s or ever, depending on who you talk to, Operation Ivy has been cited by everyone from Green Days Billie Joe Armstrong to Fat Mike of NOFX as the group that most affected the sound of their own bands. But just as those fledgling punk rock superstars careers were getting started, Armstrong and Freeman were starting over.
Enter Brett Gurewitz, no stranger himself to blossoming from a rabid local following in this case Los Angeles — to worldwide influence. Gurewitz was first known to Armstrong and Freeman as the guitar player and songwriter in legendary Los Angeles hardcore band Bad Religion, but by the early 1990s, Gurewitz was splitting his time between being a touring musician, record producer and the head of a swiftly growing independent label, Epitaph. A big fan of Operation Ivy, Gurewitz had once told Armstrong that whenever he started a new band, Epitaph would sign them, sight unseen. A few years later, he had his wish.
Rancids self-titled first full-length and Epitaph debut came out May 10th, 1993 and was filled with the ferocity of three guys (Armstrong and Freeman, along with original drummer Brett Reed) still living in squats, getting around on bikes or in old beaters and viewing the world with all the hostility of the very young and opinionated. Rancid had seen the American dream dwindle and fade in their country and in their community, saw its end trickle down into their families, and their early songs, like ‘Whirlwind’ were filled with vivid descriptions of the aftermath.
Though free from any of Operation Ivys signature ska/punk sound, Rancid took up the torch of social commentary and the examination of the local scene and instantly inflamed the newly revived punk community, setting the stage for what was to come.
Rancids ‘Lets Go’ came out in June of 1994, just before Green Days ‘Dookie’ and the Offsprings ‘Smash’. Together, these records, along with Rancids next release ‘
And Out Come the Wolves’ a mere 14 months later, would provide the soundtrack for youth in the US — and beyond — in the mid 90s, as punk leapt from relatively isolated local scenes onto the worldwide stage. Hailed by many critics as the next original phase of authentic American music, this catchy style of punk rock captured a moment in time and forever changed the face of popular, mainstream music. For better or worse, Tim Armstrongs mohawk was no longer a badge that would subject its wearer to suspicion and hostility on the street. Rather, in all its glory, it was emblazoned across the cover of Alternative Press magazine, followed closely by Spin, Details and others. Young kids rushed to copy it. Punk had officially arrived, dragging Rancid along with it.
Further albums and magnified fame and recognition followed. A six year gap between 2003’s ‘Indestructible’ and the band’s next album ‘Let The Dominoes Fall’ saw the member’s of Rancid pursuing other projects. ‘Let the Dominoes Fall’ is filled with songs that examine military service — timely in the midst of the USs protracted war in Afghanistan and Iraq, but also written for Armstrongs brother who served in Iraq.