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Lars Talks Rancid, Warped

To Lars Frederiksen, his band Rancid, his label-mates on Epitaph and Hell-Cat Records, and his favorite bands are all about being part of a family – a punk rock family.

Fresh off a tour playing with tour with two, high-powered Hell-Cat bands, Lars Frederiksen and the Bastards and the Dropkick Murphys, Frederiksen is set for Rancid’s stint on this summer’s Vans Warped Tour and readying a new, high-tech Rancid release. There’s no time to rest for this tattooed, mohawk-sporting, family man.

Rancid will join the roving punk festival on June 22nd in Phoenix along with Epitaph label-mates Pennywise, the Bouncing Souls, Me First and the Gimme Gimmes and H20. Also on the first leg of the tour will be 311, New Found Glory, Alien Ant Farm and Good Charlotte.

“One of the reasons we love doing these is because you’re out there with all your friends for the whole summer,” Frederiksen says. “It’s going to be awesome. This is going to be one of the punkest tours ever.” The forty-two-date outing will be first full Rancid tour in two and a half years. Like their performances on the 1998 Warped Tour, the foursome will likely go a decade deep into their catalogue. “When we went out on Warped last time, we learned every one of our songs,” he says. “Now, basically, on every show of the tour, we don’t have to do the same songs. It’s exciting.”

Though the set length for the Warped shows is only thirty minutes per night, Rancid will have plenty of time to fit in the short, raw, old-school punk songs off their self-titled fifth release, their latest. Rancid played only a twelve city, mini-tour in support the fall release, which consisted primarily of one to two minute tracks and was a departure from the more pop-friendly releases… And Out Come the Wolves and Life Won’t Wait.

“No one comes back on their fifth record and makes a harder record than their first. But, this time out, we made our hardest, most pissed record ever,” he says. Frederiksen recently wrapped a busy spring. He finished a seven-week tour with his side project, Lars Frederiksen and the Bastards, which started on March 9th. Frederiksen had to begin pulling double-duty ten days into the trek when tour-mates and fellow Hell-Cat Records cohorts the Dropkick Murphys lost guitarist James Lynch to a wrist injury for the remainder of the tour, which ended April 28th.

“Of course I’m going to be there for them, helping some brothers out,” says Frederiksen, who actually produced the Irish folk-punk band’s first two albums. “It’s all about Hell-Cat. It’s all about the family. I’ll always do stuff to help out the family.” The Bastards side-project was actually the idea of Rancid frontman and Hell-Cat founder Tim Armstrong, who co-wrote, produced, and performed on the band’s debut. The self-titled release includes ten originals based on Frederiksen’s caustic youth in Campbell, Calif., like the biting, yet catchy, “Dead American” as well as covers of Billy Bragg’s “To Have and Have Not” and the Yardbirds’ classic “Leaving Here.”

“I would always tell these stories about where I’m from, and one day Tim was like, ‘Man, I really love your stories; we should put them down on wax.’ It’s gotten to the point where he knows some of the stories better than I do,” says Frederiksen. “It was a pleasure for me to work with Tim on the side project because I think he’s the greatest American songwriter there is today.”

Frederiksen enjoyed the project but is most excited about getting back to work with Armstrong, Brett Reed, and Matt Freeman. Following the Warped Tour, Rancid will head to Europe and Japan for a series of festival shows before returning home to record their sixth album. The band has already started compiling live footage, interviews and behind-the-scenes material for their most high-tech release to date, Rancid’s first DVD, which should hit the shelves by year’s end. “There’s going to be some cool, classic shit on there. It’s going to be the whole shebang,” he says.

Frederiksen life hasn’t been free of turbulence, however. In recent months he has had to deal with the deaths of his brother, and several friends including his idol and mentor, Joey Ramone. “He was Elvis, James Brown and Aretha Franklin rolled into one,” he says of Ramone, with whom he toured as part of Lollapalooza 1996. “He was the greatest rock & roll singer that ever was or will be. If there wasn’t a Ramones, there would’ve never been a Rancid. They’re the true meaning of rock & roll. It ain’t fucking Jimmy Hendrix. It ain’t the Doors.”

As for Rancid’s future, Frederiksen dispelled any lingering rumors that the band was planning to break up after this year’s touring schedule. “I say this from the stage every night; Rancid will be making records in eighty years,” Frederiksen says. “Families don’t break up, not this one anyway. That’s what we are first and foremost, a musical fucking family. My kids and Tim’s kids will be growing on the jungle gym together, getting tattooed at the age of five.”

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