President Reagan can shove it! is the final knife into the governments back in the legendary song Superficial Love, written in 1980 by TSOL. That, of course, was an era when punk bands often wrote vitriolic, anti-government anthems and questioning authority was the norm, instead of the exception. Punk is more about fashion than function now, says Grisham, the central figure of this seminal band known as much for its political fervor as being at the forefront of the punk/goth movement.
Nowadays, with a President who is arguably more ripe for punk revolt, most punk bands are playing it safe, preferring to impress the buyers at Hot Topic and the programmers at Clear Channel and Viacom. The song See You Tomorrow from the bands fourth full-length album, Divided We Stand, proves they havent missed a step: Policies of death begin/your children suffer for your sins/ignorance and open hate/we reap the seed that we create. Throughout the album, Grisham expresses his rage, his doubts, his love and certainly his lust. Its quite evident he still finds the music rewarding, and the fans, who continue to come out in droves, clearly still find them relevant.
Its been a long and winding road for TSOL… the drugs, the fights, the prison time, the underage marriages, heavy drinking, the sobriety, the deaths theyve each lived more than a few lifetimes. And though much has changed in these mens lives, their central belief is the same. “Our emotions have not wavered… I mean, what am I doing this for? It sure as fuck isnt the money”, reminds Grisham.
From Fuck You Tough Guy, where Grisham stands up to the macho jocks that punk used to be a revolt against, but now sadly represents, to Electric, aptly titled as the song vibrates and races along with excitement, this group of punk rock elders (who influenced so many bands, including AFI, The Offspring and Pennywise) are still in a league of their own.
While many bands become passé after a few years, others stand the test of time and continue to write great songs and stay relevant. That is the epitome of TSOL, still crazy, still witty and still angry after all these years.