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Free Beer interview: w/ Tony Guerrero-Guitar
long have you guys been together? Well, it seems like about a hundred years!
Seriously, by the time Free Beer got together it was already our 3rd punk band,
first was Jerrys Kids (SF) with world renown skate photographer Bryce BK
Kanights (on bass) and then we formed Revenge and Tommy moved to bass and we got another
now skate industry legend Steve Shrewgy Ruge on lead vocals. I was
on drums at that time in both of those bands and didnt move to guitar until Free
Beer was formed in 1981. By then we had already been experimenting with all kind of things
musically. Mostly, we used to poke fun at stuff and just have a good time. We
learned a lot of TV songs cause we used to all play guitar and try and learn all the
jingles and commercials too, like Leave it to Beaver, The Munsters theme song, Tumbling
Tumble Weeds, and The Adams Family and even did some of them at our shows. TV influenced
us a lot I guess. and The lines up have changed? Actually, it was the same line-up
all the way through till our end and even the reformation for our reunion gigs and release
of the full length skate rock album was pretty much all the original members. Mike Cassidy
on Lead Vocals (Always a character) Dan Magee on guitar, Tommy Guerrero on bass, Steve
Tatum on drums, and me (Tony Guerrero) on guitar. When Free Beer broke up in around
1983-ish, and we reformed for the EMP Skate punk show in August 2001 when they asked us to
come up there and play (Experience Music Project-in Seattle) I got my buddy Louie Senor
(Vain and MCM and the Monster) to play drums with us. We didnt have enough old
material for the skate punk album project and Tatum wasnt up to play drums (as he
hasnt played in years), so Louie sat in with us on about 5 tracks (and all the gigs)
that were original old songs that we never recorded so that we had enough material for the
album. (Hes still pissed off at me for not giving him enough credits on the record,
so Im doing what I can to make up for it here and elsewhere) Louie is a really solid
drummer and a fucking character! Louie was on tour not to long ago with The Swarm which is
the new band formed from the old SF metal band Death Angel. That tour was with Jerry
What is the musical influences of you guys? Well at that time, it was a lot of different shit. Like I said, we were kind of a parody band to a certain extent and just like to make fun of stuff that happened during those times, and we liked to have a good time. Our main influence was beer, and drinking as much of it as we could. ; ) By the time Free Beer formed, we were all into different stuff by then, but before that we didnt listen to anything that didnt stray too far from punk. During and before, bands like Adolescents, Black Flag (Mugger the road manager was our bro-Ill never forget when Henry Rollins was at my house watching TV and talking to my mom about god knows what!), Social D. Sex Pistols, Rush, Iron Maiden, The Clash, Specials, Madness, Motorhead, Los Olvidados, Drunk Injuns, Bad Religion, Devo, Ramones, Dead Boys, DOA, Avengers, No Alternative, and a ton of others. We listened to all that stuff and grew up on the scene playing with most of these punk bands at one time or another among to listening a lot of other stuff.
did you come up with your name? You know, I dont really remember. I have this
old cassette tape recorded in 1980 from a live show that we did at the
you knew first, skateboard or punk music?
Skateboarding for sure. I was skating around 1974 just about the time of urethane wheels
(I was on clay wheels on my first board-and didnt know there was better stuff out
there yet-but even so, I couldnt afford them-I made most of my boards), so that was
pretty much before punk hit the USA. I think we (Tommy and I) started getting into punk
from our old skate team guys (who were a few years older) from the Alotaflex team
(Berkeley) in the mid 70s. (Nor
Tell us about the influence of the skateboard in your music and your life. Well, I think the music side came from my dads side of he family for sure. My grandfather and grandmother and all his brothers were musicians. Although we didnt grow up around that side, somehow it was just hereditary I guess. Skating kept us out of trouble; I mean at least we werent bored kids with nothing to do. My mom totally supported our skating and even music. We used to drive her and my aunt and uncle crazy rehearsing in the garage, and building crazy ramp contraptions in the back yard, or even in the front of the house on the street. Skating kept us out of trouble for the most part. Still, wed go out to all the gigs and raise hell at night. We used to brawl from time to time but you know this was before guns were prevalent! Ive had my fair share of getting into shit with people. But we were young and so whats a few bloody noses, bumps n bruises you know? When you are young, you re invincible and do stupid shit, but thats part of growing up. Hopefully, you know the boundaries. Music and skating will always be a part of my life.
What bands you usually touring back in the 80s? Who did you liked to play with?
Oh man, Social Distortion, Black Flag, Bad Brains (Man those guys used to get us stoned-They had the biggest joints!!) Adolescents, The Stains, LAs Wasted Youth, Dead Kennedys, DOA, Bad Religion, Circle Jerks. Minor Threat, Fear, Suicidal Tendencies, Angry Samoans, and the Misfits to name a few. There are just too many to name. I think we played with all of the cool old bands at least one time or another. I think we had more fun playing with our bros than any one band really. We just felt privileged to be able to play period. We were a mess. Skating and chaos ruled our world.
The band have plans to record a new album and touring around? Nope. Thats it. No more. We arent going to re-hash this outfit. We just wanted to put out some old music that we had lying around. We thought that it was cool and good to do for nostalgia sake. We dont want to be like some other bands that reform and rehash their youth. We have all moved on to other things, either professionally, or musically. We thought that we were going to put together a skate punk tour called the Trilogy Tour after the release of Skate punk 1,2 & 3 with Los Olvidados and Drunk Injuns just to support the records, but that never happened-Too many conflicting schedules I guess. Maybe one day, when we are really old we will!! : ) Im just stoked that Jello Biafra and Uli of Alternative Tentacles Records thought it would be cool to do this series. You know they just added JFA as vol. 4 to the series? Way cool. I wonder who will be number 5?
What bands do you like of the new punk rock scene? Well, I think the term punk is used loosely now a days and also there are so many different styles/variations now that a lot of bands sort of morph the punk attitude into what they are doing even if its not straight forward punk. Im still stuck in the old school world of punk (Bands mentioned above) but Im very specific and biased to what I like to listen to. As long as it isnt the bubblegum produced shit you hear on the radio, then Im probably OK with it. (They give punk a bad name). Just give some kid a guitar, learn how to make a barre chord, add some hair die and a few tattoos and youve got insta-punk! LOL. Anyhow, I like a lot of the rock bands that incorporate the punk attitude though. Supersuckers, Hellacopters, Turbo Negro, Backyard Babies to name a few. Bands I like are ones that can really play guitar.
a band from the 80s, how you compare that scene comparing with today?
There are too many of them and hard to differentiate whos who. Even though you play
punk, you still have to develop your own sound. You know of some of the reviews I have
read about Free Beer, It was kinda cool to hear what people had to say about Mikes
vocals and that it wasnt a stereotypical vocal for punk. I totally like that. I
think that you have to be unique and create your own sound. I think the most important
element is the vocalist. They have to be unique to stand out in todays mish-mosh of
punk bands. Sometimes it can all sound the same. Maybe Im just getting older, but
there was something special back in the old days, since I remember going to school and
being the only person (or one of 2 people) that was into punk rock. I was truly an outcast
by the time I hit high school. Today its all mainstream. Back then you had to search
the music out and listened to anything that was remotely punk or different, cause the
choices were pretty limited. You couldnt even get Docs or Creepers back then! Your
buddies who were fortunate enough to be able go to
Cal and So.
closet! : ) Man, that guy got me in all kinds of fucking trouble. I dont even think he remembers most of the shit that went down in SF! : ) Steve Olson was around quite a bit too. Hes another fucking character. That guy always makes me laugh. I think the first time I saw any variation of slam dancing it was from Mike Marine X-Head (He was in the movie Decline ) I saw him doing the HB Strut. I think this is where slam dancing came from. I forget what gig we were at, but when the lame ass people were still pogo-ing, these guys were strutting and that was something new. Thats definitely where slam dancing came from. It was violent for those times. No one picked you up when you fell!
knows about the important relationship between skateboard and music. All the guys in the
band have skating? YES! How we all met was through skateboarding at the skate parks.
Actually, Tommy and I were born and raised in
How you define the term Skate-Rock? Well, if I were to quote the Godfather of Skate Rock Mofo, I think he told me it was just a buncha skaters that also happen to play music. When he found out that there was this common thread and found out how many skaters had bands, thats when he put the Thrasher Skate Rock action plan together. No one can ever say anything about skate rock without mentioning Mofo who is in my opinion the Godfather of the category. If anyone out there doesnt know who Mofo is, I suggest you open your Skate History 101 and find out! Skate Rock definition to me is just that. A band that skates. It doesnt necessarily have to be punk. Just listen to the first 3 Thrasher Skate rock tapes & records and see how diverse it really was.
brother, Tommy Guerrero, a famous pro skateboarder from Bones Brigade era, had influents a
generation at that time, and played at the band. Now, how you and Tommy has feeling the
nowadays skateboard scene?
Pretty stoked. Tommy still skates (as do I) and works in the industry with Real/Spitfire
etc. (Deluxe Distribution) Skating is soooo insane now and Im glad that its
finally getting the notoriety it deserves, but on the other hand its so popular now
that its also kind of a drag. Skateboarding is something that we as skaters that
were the die-hards/pioneers of the sport now see every Tom, Dick and Harry with an Indy
t-shirt on just blows me away. Before you would be able to identify with someone when they
had a skate t-shirt on, but nowadays theres so many armchair skaters and
wannabes, that it just sort of loses the mystique that skateboarding was. Its good
for the growth of the industry and businesses and the sport altogether I guess, but like
anything that you are into that you thought you sort of took ownership of, when it becomes
too popular, it loses that special something. When we skated, there were very few of us
and it was special. I think we knew every skater in
Send a message for the readers.
hot girls that want to come to the
Actually, anyone is free to email me if they like. (Im just encouraging hot girls to apply! : )
And check out my new band The Loyals 77-82 coming soon.
Tony & Free Fuckin Beer