Rancid Biography

Lars Frederiksen (guitar), Brett Reed (drums), Matt Freeman (bass) and Tim Armstrong (25 November 1966, Oakland, California, USA; vocals/guitar) provide street-level punk with their ideas informed and inspired by a youth of blue-collar poverty in Albany, California, USA. Armstrong and Freeman (often under the alias Matt McCall) had formed their first band, Operation Ivy, in 1987 with Dave Mello (drums) and Jesse Michaels (vocals). When that band split up in 1989, Freeman, Armstrong and Reed became Rancid. They made their debut in 1992 with a five-track 7-inch single, ‘I’m Not The Only One’. After flirting with the idea of using Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong as a second guitarist, Rancid were contacted by Brett Gurewitz’s Epitaph Records, with a view to recording their debut album. During these sessions Reed met Frederiksen (guitar, ex-Slip, UK Subs), and invited him to join the band. He did so, and Rancid’s self-titled debut was released in April 1993, featuring more variety and composure than their debut single. In September, they began their first national tour, followed by an extended European trek in November. Frederiksen made his debut at the beginning of the following year on the ‘Radio’ single, co-written with Green Day’s Armstrong and released on Fat Wreck Chords, the label run by Fat Mike of No FX. February saw sessions begin on their next album, Let’s Go. Comprising 23 songs, including the single ‘Salvation’, it saw the band, and Armstrong in particular, compared favourably with the early Clash sound, albeit taken at a more frenetic pace. The album quickly achieved gold then platinum status, alerting the major labels to Rancid’s presence. An offer was made by Madonna’s Maverick Records, allegedly accompanied by a nude picture of the singer, but was declined. More tempting was a one and a half million dollar advance contract from Epic Records (the Clash’s US label) but this too was turned down in favour of staying ‘with friends’ at Epitaph.

Rancid were now a very bankable attraction for a band whose visual image had never strayed from bondage trousers and mohawks. They returned to the studio after touring in March 1995, with ... And Out Come The Wolves the result. Returning to a punk/ska sound reminiscent of Operation Ivy at their peak and the Clash by their third album, as ever, the lyrics were written from earthy personal experience. Once again, it was a major seller, featuring the two radio hits, ‘Time Bomb’ and ‘Ruby Soho’. The ska theme continued on 1998’s Life Won’t Wait, with two tracks recorded in Jamaica. The album featured a collaboration with Mighty Mighty Bosstones vocalist Dicky Barrett on ‘Cash, Culture And Violence’.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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