Despite being a major label band since the get-go (not unlike The Ramones or The Sex Pistols ), Southern California ska freaks Goldfinger really do understand punk rock. Singer/guitarist John Feldmann, drummer Darrin Pfeiffer, bassist Kelly Lemieux and guitarist Brian Arthur have been around the block. And even though their latest album Disconnection Notice takes a decidedly poppier turn this time, they’re sick of being alienated from their colleagues.
In fact, that’s part of the reason for the album title. They don’t want to be “disconnected” anymore, hoping that fans will find solace in the band’s understanding of feeling disenfranchised from something they love so dearly.
“Our fans are young and feeling alienated,” grunts Feldmann. “Even though times are a lot different now that you can – like Social Distortion’s Mike Ness said – ‘Buy punk at the mall,’ they still feel isolated. We know what that’s like. (We) have bands like Lagwagon or Guttermouth wondering what we’re doing in ‘their’ scene. We just want to play music, y’know?”
Frustrated with the current state of punk rock, Feldmann tears it apart; deconstructs it, proving that today’s punks are no different than every other “rock star” and that despite claiming street cred, most bands are not that different from Goldfinger – they want an audience too.
“I remember the first time I saw a picture of The Casualties with the egg whites in the hair… what gutter punks really looked like. Do you know how long it takes to do hair like that?” he asks. “You think of punks being dirty, but it takes a lot to look like that. I saw [Rancid’s] Tim Armstrong before we left on tour and he has this leather jacket with spikes, but they’re so meticulously placed. To look at it in general you go, ‘Wow, that’s a dirty, cool street look,’ but it’s pretty meticulous. I don’t know if punk’s gone back to the underground. We made a decision when we started that we were gonna be . We want people to hear our music. What musician doesn’t?”
True: you can’t be a band if no one is listening. But given Fedmann’s tirade, naturally, one must ask: what exactly is punk rock? His answer is heated and honest, but he fiercely defends it as being nothing more than personal opinion.
“To me the first punk rock band was The Sex Pistols. It’s about the attitude, the politics, the look AND the music. It’s the whole package, but to a lot of people it’s just the music or the attitude. The Pistols was the first band to have it all and say, ‘Fuck you’ to society. They had the blazers, the ripped clothes, the pierced stuff and hair. I know how people feel about The Ramones and they helped carve out punk, but leather jackets and long hair isn’t punk rock… to me.
“I can’t stand Iggy Pop or The New York Dolls,” he continues, eyes glazing over in anger. “Fuck you, they weren’t punk rock. They’re people who don’t know how to play music and want to be on stage and have people look at ‘em. No fuckin’ way is that punk rock to me.”