Rock 'n' roll icons Social Distortion have officially announced the release of their long awaited, highly anticipated new studio album, Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes, which is set for January 17. A follow-up to their acclaimed album Sex, Love and Rock 'n' Roll, Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes is the band's seventh studio album and first release in over six years. Fans are invited to download the first single, "Machine Gun Blues," via iTunes on November 8.
Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes builds on singer Mike Ness' twin footings, one in the haunted American landscapes of Hank Williams and the other in the raw swagger of Exile-era Rolling Stones. While these twin pillars have always been behind Social Distortion's anthemic songs, on Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes they come roaring to the fore, in one of the hardest rocking, most soulful, albums of Ness' career.
After years of working with various producers in the studio, Mike Ness took on the duty for the first time with their new album. The band entered a Burbank studio in early 2010 where they recorded for the next several months in between spring and summer tour dates which included Lollapalooza and Outside Lands. In early October the band wrapped up recording before heading out for their fall US tour.
"It's something I've always wanted to do," Ness explains. "I love being on that side of the board. Even though I've co-produced all of our records, I always was there for everything. It just came to a point where I was like 'I think I want to try this, I want to do this ourselves.' By being at the helm this time allowed so much more focus for me to the fine details of every aspect of it, whether it was performances, or tones, or arrangements, backing vocals..everything."
Self-produced and teamed with legendary punk rock label Epitaph Records, Social Distortion maintain the rebellious credibility that made them a household-name decades ago with the release of their latest album Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes.
Social Distortion gets straight to business on Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes with the grooving instrumental intro "Road Zombie," setting the album's tone before segueing into what's possibly one of the band's finest written songs to date, "California (Hustle and Flow)," which gives nod to the Stones with backing gospel singers, greasy solos and enough attitude to redline a '40 Merc.
"California (Hustle and Flow) was an early idea last year," says Ness. "It started out as pretty much a roots rocker, ended up morphing into kind of a tribute to the Stones. Also if you listen to the opening line it's third person, and it's talking about some kid with an attitude and dyed jet black hair and motorcycle boots and running around like he don't care. It basically chronicles my career in music. Just how it started out, how rock n roll has been good to me.And I'd like to think I've been good to rock 'n' roll ya know."
Fans will find familiarity in tracks like "Gimme the Sweet and Lowdown" and "Diamond In The Rough," which combine the band's inimitable vintage sound with their contemporary vision.
"("Diamond In The Rough") that one is pretty autobiographical..so many faults, yet so little time. What are you gonna do?. Better write a song."
Without warning Social Distortion kicks the album into overdrive with their first single, "Machine Gun Blues," a sneering modern day Bonnie & Clyde outlaw anthem which encompasses the album's rebellious attitude. The band only takes a few moments on the album to slow things down and like Sex, Love and Rock 'n' Roll's "Footprints on My Ceiling" the band momentarily dial it back for the gentile biker bar dance number "Bakersfield," which flows gracefully into the modern rocker "Far Side of Nowhere." Ness pays tribute to his idol Hank Williams with a dark rockin cover of "Alone and Forsaken," which gives him a chance to slow things down again for what's sure to be a fan favorite live song "Writing on the Wall." Closing out the album, Social Distortion cranks it all the way to 11 with "Can't Take It With You" and "Still Alive."
Bruce Springsteen has "been a fan of Social Distortion for a long long time," Guitar World has ranked Mike Ness as one of the coolest guitarists of all time and now with the release of Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes, Social Distortion has further cemented themselves as one of the great rock bands of all time.