RUSS RANKIN, lead singer of the punk band Good Riddance, seems the least likely guy to make a difference. He's a strict vegan who says he's "not that smart," but he does pay attention to relationships and political events. Naturally, his observations show up in his songwriting, which local listeners can get a taste of tonight and tomorrow as the band makes its Honolulu debut at Club 478.
Band seeks music
By Charlene Anne Rico
"(The lyrics) are introspective and are my opinions on what's going on in the world," the self-professed leftist said. Lyrics from "Undefeated," from the band's latest EP "The Phenomenon of Craving," are proof of Rankin's sensitivity -- "I've been at odds with a restless soul/I've felt the pain when I lost control/I said the words but could not explain/The hurt fades but the scars remain."
Rankin and his band also have tried to make a difference in more concrete ways, donating a portion of album sales to nonprofit organizations. Proceeds from "Phenomenon" -- the title of which comes from a medical term used to describe a chemical dependency or addiction -- were donated to the Homeless Garden Project in the band's hometown of Santa Cruz, Calif. The shelter helps the homeless find jobs and provides clothing and food.
In concert: 7 p.m. today and tomorrow
Place: Club 478, 478 Ena Road
Cost: $9 advance, $11 at the door
Also: 2face4, Extra Stout and Bay of Pigs will play tonight; Potluck, Prom King and the Knumbskulls, tomorrow
"We want to draw attention to different causes and organizations," Rankin said. "The PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) label was on one of our albums. ... It brought a lot of attention to a lot of kids. If we can make a positive impact, I think it's awesome and it makes it all worthwhile."
Rankin's motivation for starting Good Riddance was to "be involved in making music that was some sort of alternative to what people my age were supposed to be listening to."
In 1986, he said, "there was no punk on the radio or MTV. It wasn't cool, and I remember in high school there were, like, three of us. We started playing music because we were angry, and we wanted to make a difference."
Current band members Luke Pabich (guitar), Chuck Platt (bass) and Dave Wagenschultz (drums) had all played in numerous bands. Good Riddance was signed to punk indie Fat Wreck Chords in 1993.
Rankin said the band doesn't want the kind of people who fight at its concerts, "and we don't want people there who are racist, sexist or homophobic. Anybody who wants to be exposed to ideals and good music is welcome."
An album due out later this year will be titled "Symptoms of a Leveling Spirit," a quote from President James Madison on what would happen if people formed a true democracy.
Rankin said: "I love playing music. I love the guys I play with. It's important to give back to the music and to the cause. If any kid can get anything positive out of our music, then that makes my day -- because that kid was me."
Click for online
calendars and events.