Pete “The Ox” – drums (Professionally sponsored skater, gas meter repairman)
Jason – guitar, vocals (Journalist specializing in environmental issues)
Tim – guitar, vocals (Maximum Rock’n’roll contributor, video editor)
Dougie – bass (Maximum Rock’n’roll contributor, house painter)
This isn’t usually how great punk bands form. It’s too late in busy lives. All the guys in the Young Offenders are closer to forty than thirty. The cushions of security are in place. There’s too much to lose.
San Francisco. 2005. Tim and Jason walked into a bar to meet a mutual friend visiting. Pints were emptied. The two knew each other solely by sight. They talked, struck up a conversation. Tim told Jason that he and his friend Dougie were practicing and invited Jason to join in. Just for fun. No strings attached. Tipsy, Jason agreed, but had no real intention of following through. Weeks later, Jason, guitar in tow, plugged in and started strumming along with the band in their basement and practice space. Pete “The Ox” was behind the drum kit, Dougie was on bass. The four played. It gelled. They learned that they were all music veterans from different San Francisco theaters of operation: hardcore (Stockholm Syndrome), indie pop (Dolores Haze), and punk’n’roll (Loudmouths). They learned that they all shared the common denominators of curiosity, of reading history like sponges, of obsessive record collecting, and of loving music.
The Young Offenders’ story continued along the opposite trajectory of the familiar narrative of young punks in their teens and twenties jumping in the van and touring the country for months at a time, living on a shoestring with duct-taped hopes, eating ramen, and sleeping on endless floors. Theirs is the life of long-term, loving relationships, of mortgages, of more-than-just-temporary jobs, of not being shitbag dads or uncles, of insurances paid; that constant line of obligations to meet. It’s a heavy yoke under which many dreams fade, where ideals often ferment into bitter cynicism. It’s often when guitars gather dust and instrument cases fail to re-open for years at a time. Having never given up on that spark that only music can provide, The Young Offenders developed the legs of long distance runners. These four longtime veterans continued practicing in the name of fun. They needed the release. They needed the music in their lives. They needed it to be close by. Five years have passed—the same lineup the entire span. Regular Wednesday night practices. A steady stream of vinyl records was released. They play occasional live shows that are designed to be events, all in an effort to contain that special sanity that comes from loud, melodic creativity of playing live music.
It’s the antithesis of why most people start and stay in bands. And it’s a big part of the formula that keeps the Young Offenders going so strong.
Reviews of LEADER OF THE FOLLOWERS
MRR #328 - This much-anticipated first full album from Bay Area heart-throbs and poster boys for the “Bald Is Beautiful” movement does very, very little to disappoint. My one and only complaint is that at eight tracks it’s a little skimpy. However, this does leave me greed for good sounds eargerly piqued adn wanting more. The little diamond is packed as snug as Linford Christie’s “lunch box” with jaunty guitars reminiscent of HOT SNAKES’ frenetic energy and the acute melody of MISSION OF BURMA, played in rhythmical styles similar to that done by the MARKED MEN, FRANCE HAS THE BOMB and DEFEKTORS. The vocals are strong, gutsy and tuneful yet punk as fuck, with back-ups that , at times, remind me of ADAM AND THE ANTS. All this is under pinned with BIG BOYS-like bass-lines as tight as a virgin schoolgirl’s teasing knickers. How can a combination of any of these factors be bad? It can’t. Buy this record.
SUBURBAN VOICE - The band’s first 12” release—well, they were on a split 12” with Giant Haystacks if you want to be technical about it. An abundance of jittery energy and big hooks, underpinned by adept playing and strong harmonies. It sounds as though the Offenders have ingested some of the “Black Coffee” they sing about on the song with that name. Still, their approach is much more pop-oriented than the mutant dance inclinations you’d usually associate with this musical territory. Continuing to crank out the quality music and I hope they can somehow find their way to the east coast, ‘cause they were great at Chaos in Tejas.