Rancid on theRoad
An Interviewwith Matt Freeman
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Where are you now? Florida, and it's sougly. Yeah, I hate lookingat how it's gotten ruined?when you fly over it, it's so flat.It's tree clump, mall, mall, highway and a little patch of trees. Theytotally fuckin' ruined it. That's so true. It's fucked up nothaving any mountains or anything, I lived in Florida for a while. You in the Bay Area now? Yeah? I do familystuff, got a family now. This place used to be a sort of squat. Yeah? Where? On Larkin St., next toPolk. Yeah, I flew into that area...Used to be able to take the S bus over, but I don't even know if that runsanymore. It's still a fuckin' hassle from the East Bay. San Francisco'sso fucked man, when I came here it was? It's kind of like this bighomeless punk scene? There were a lot of places you could crack a squat,but now they ran everyone out. Yeah, I read about thatin the paper? Golden Gate Park by the Haight? They closed that partof the park where all the kids camped out. It's a trip, too, 'cause,like, I've noticed the population?there's so many fuckin yuppiesin the city now. Renting a studio islike $900 or $1000 or so, and 100 people show up wanting the place. We don'tknow what we'd do if we got kicked out of this place. Probably have to move overto Oakland like everybody else did (laughs). So when you go home doyou go to Oakland? Oakland. I've livedin the city of Berkeley for about six years now, but before that I lived inOakland, Emeryville, Richmond. I grew up in Albany. About the only city I haven'tlived in over there is El Cerrito. Emeryville used to be so fuckin' coollike in the late 80s, lot of people lived there, then they put this mall inand things just blew up. It's like that inmusic too. I mean the fucked thing about punk bands, you're fine if nobodyknows about you, but once you get popular people get all pissed off. What aboutthe gutter punks and the homeless punks who want to come to see you and theycan't afford it? You think that since you're big that it's harderto get in touch with those folks? Do you know what I mean? Yeah, I know what you'resaying? I mean, I don't seem to have any trouble staying in touch.I guess it's a little harder playing in bigger places, but I mean a lotof times we hang out at shows, we're sort of out there? I'vehelped people get into shows before? I make it a point to do that? Honestly, in a way, it's weird? Sometimes you want to hang out withpeople and stuff, when people are cool and like normal people, "Hi, how are you." Then you get some people who are, like, get so fuckin' weird.I guess they're intimidated or like you a lot or something? I reallydon't know why? I feel like when I used to go when X was in town andI'd want to talk to them, I'd be fuckin' scared to death of thosepeople and act like an idiot, you know, stupid? I used to be sort of meanto those people?like, "What are you staring at me for? What'syour problem?" Then I thought about it and I thought, You're beingsort of a dick. Do you like still consideryourself a punk? Yeah, I mean, I do?I still feel like an outsider, you know, I do? Obviously I'm not afreak center punk. For me punk is really an attitude. It's all what youdid with it. It's a real like, what am I looking for? Rancid, we just wantedto be a band and play shows, so we made that happen. That was the cool thingabout Gilman Street way back, '87 or '88, you had all these bands.And we just make shit happen, like our first band, Operation Ivy, we went ontour and we didn't know what the fuck we were doing. We had this '69Chrysler Newport, fuckin four-door with a box on the top. We looked like theBeverly Hillbillies out there... But we always just worked hard and we'vealways done what we wanted and we've always been honest about what we do. You know the underbellyof how fucked kids' lives can be. Do you ever have the feeling you wantto reach out to those kids or give back, you know what I mean? There are several partsto that question. We've never really tried to be a preaching kind of band.But at the same time the one thing we always try to do is we've made thispoint of trying to encourage self-reliance and going out and doing your ownfucking thing. You just gotta go out and make it on your own. I mean, that'scool, that's the whole thing about punk rock and sort of got me into it,was all these people are sorta creeps, like me, did not fuckin' fit in,fuckin' high school, fuckin' whatever, football, cheerleader bullshitor the college set, you know what I mean. I think a lot of us growing up justsucked. I think we'll always gotta appeal to the disenfranchised, and say,"Look, people may think you're fucked up, but you're really not fucked up, you're really cooler than they are." It seems like if you'rea band like Veruca Salt, folks don't have fat integrity expectations. Whenyou're a punk there's a kind of expectation that you have a conscience?likethere's more of a connection to the real people. The reason why is that it'smore of a community. I can only speak for shit that happens in the Bay Area.It was always a community. You had bands helping each other out and bands givingpeople shows and a whole network, you know kids putting on shows in grain hallsacross America, putting people up or taking them to where they have a squat.I think it's more of a community?where [now] you have some of thesebigger bands who go right from the clubs to a record deal? I mean a recorddeal was not even a fuckin' rage back then. Maybe you'll put out yourown 7-inch, or maybe Larry Livermore will start and put your Operation Ivy ona 7-inch. How did you like thatshow you played on that pier here in San Francisco? That was pretty cool, sortof a weird place for a show, but... That was the Warped Tour. That was a reallyfun tour, really cool, really low-key. That was one of the hardest tours I'veever been on. You wouldn't think so, but it was six days on, one day offand on the day off you were always driving 1000 miles someplace. Monday wasalways the day off. It was really weird, it was fuckin' hot. Low-key. Butit was really really fun. 'Cause you had all those bands there, part ofwhy we did it was just because we wanted to hang out with our friends like NOFX.When you're in a band you never really see any of the guys in the otherbands that much; you're on the road all the time. I wanted to go. I hadtickets, but I couldn't resist selling 'em. Was it sold out? I don't know, butI used to trick and one of my old customers happens to work at Atlantic Records? No way! Way. Whenever I wantanything from any of the Atlantic bands, he hooks me up. I lived in L.A. andI tricked there, so there's a lot of guys in different bands. He messengeredme up tickets. But we had a baby group to go to that day. It's a differentlife than it used to be for me. Having kids and stuff likethat. I have a boyfriend, andhe and my best friend had sex, and that's how we had Thor. And we all livetogether. Well, that works out. It's like the BradyBunch... Are folks who interview you sometimes harsh? Yeah, sometimes people tryto be. I got a couple rules. On the Warped Tour we did pretty much solely fanzineinterviews, just kids showing up with fanzines. People that do the fanzine thingI have respect for, 'cause it's such a bitch. They're workingit. They're trying to hustle interviews, they're at Kinko's at3 a.m. putting together this book. So if they try to ask me hard questions,I'll answer them politely, and if they get too mean, I'll deal with them, you know what I mean. But I'll take it from them a little bit becauseI got respect for them. Who I won't take itfrom is sometimes you get these college reporters whom I consider sort of likerich kids? These kids that work for some college paper, man, call you asellout, "Blah blah blah, don't you think being on MTV is being asellout?" You know what I think, living on Mommy and Daddy's moneyis a sellout. They're really craftyhow they get after you. Gotta be careful to be honest.I respect a person a lot more if they know what they're talking about.Sometimes you get these guys, the only exposure with punk rock they'vehad was they got Combat Rock, maybe London Calling, but you runinto all kinds doing this, so I try to be nice and mellow and not take theirquestions seriously. Do you guys have a lotof girls trying to be groupies? I guess. I really don'tknow. I don't really look for that kind of thing. I'm pretty bad atspotting it. Tim and Lars are married, you know, and I got a girlfriend... I'venever been into that kind of thing. I'm pretty oblivious. I think theygive up after about 10 minutes. If some girl comes up to me and starts talkingabout something really dumb, I'll be like, okay, really nice?and thenexcuse myself. Do you have any storiesabout when you went down South or in the Midwest? We had this Ford van andwe were driving from Little Rock to Pensacola, and there was like no directroute and we had to take like these access B-roads, state highway things. Wewere crossing Mississippi, we crossed over to Vicksburg, and a cop pulled usover. He comes to the side, says, "Can I search the van?" and Richardgoes, "No." And I go, "This is Mississippi and they're goingto search it anyway," and of course they did. They brought out the drugdog and search us all, and they tell us, "If you have any drugs, boy, you'dbetter tell us now, or else." So I'm kinda scared, because this isthe South. I don't know what the hell they're goin' to do, sowe're just, "Yes, sir," and "No, sir," trying to getthe fuck out of there. So Lars [Frederiksen, guitarist] has this GBH dischargehair, you know? And he had this totally charged-up hair. So they searched the vanand they didn't find anything, 'cause we didn't have anything.And they're relaxing a little. They're like, "So what do you boys do?" "We're in a band." "So what are you, like,punk rock?" "Yeah, we're punk rock." He's like thechief of police in Vicksburg and he goes to Lars and is like, "What lightsocket did you stick your finger into?" And Lars goes, "It wasn'tmy finger, sir." (Laughing) If you couldhave like taken a picture of every one of our faces?except for Lars, he'sjust up there sayin' it, you know, and all four of us were like? Imean, I thought I was going to end up on a chain gang or something. Like, okay,that's it. They plant something and all of a sudden we're buildinghighways for the state of Mississippi. But they actually laughed about it. Ittook them a second to get it. They thought it was the funniest thing in theworld. Then three hours later we're driving down the same highway in Mississippiand we get pulled over again. What's your vanlook like? It's a fucked-up redvan with graffiti on the side. We kept it fucked-up because we had this theoryat the time, which actually was pretty smart. We had this fucked-up windowlessred van with graffiti on the side, which looked like some fucked-up windowlessred van with graffiti on the side, not a band van, so they're not likegoing to steal equipment, right? We were pulled over threehours later, and these two big troopers get out and say they want to searchour van for drugs, and by this time were late and I'm like pissed off."Look, we got pulled over at Vicksburg, can't you like call them?"You know? "Call the Vicksburg police department, they'll tell youwe're good guys." "No, we're going to search." So ofcourse it's out of the van again. So they go through the van, and theyfind Lars' bullet belt. You know what a bullet belt is, obviously. They're like machinegun bullets, right? That's actually whatthey are. They're like those things in the war movies, those strips thatgo into the machine guns with bullets. He picks this thing up and goes, "What'sthis?" And I'm like, "Jewelry." He's like, "What?"I'm like, "Jewelry, a costume. What d'ya think we got some 30caliber machine gun we mount on the top of the fuckin' van to take carof state troopers?" Come on. And this dude's partnerstarts bustin' up and he gets all red and says, "Okay, get out ofhere!" You really find out,when you get inland, how different it is. Yeah, we've had somepretty? When we stop at truck stops, like in Arkansas or Alabama, we geta lot of stares and comments, but I don't know, after a while they justleave you alone. Truckers can be reallycool or really bad. Exactly. As long as youdon't start anything, we just go in there. We just eat food and leave;they leave us alone. Usually they leave us alone. Sometimes they try to startshit, but you know? We don't give them anything to get going.