The new album Put ‘Em Up
They didn’t win, but they have not lost.
We pack into a proper UK cab, 5 of us and gear, and I wait for the driver to kick us out as the TX4 bottoms out its suspension. But he just nods at the jump seats in the back and smiles. “Are ya in lads? Looks intimate but it ain’t too long , the […]Read
I knock on the aluminum fuselage as I step onto VS024. Nonstop LAX to Heathrow, that hollow bok-bok serves as my ritualistic surrender of all free will as I step from free land onto the totalitarian nation of Modern Air Travel. The flight attendant’s smile fades as she sees the guitar case in my hand, […]Read
I missed the Steve Soto memorials this past weekend, instead riding my motorcycle across the fire-warmed trails of the Mendocino Forest. Incredibly, the winds shifted in the morning, and there was no sign of smoke. Just clear blue skies as we leaned deep into the corners of Highway 20, into the Alpine setting surrounding Clear […]Read
The night that Joe Strummer died and I was hanging around backstage at House of Blues Anaheim. This is when Social Distortion would do a run of 10-12 shows right around the holidays, a sort of OC punk advent calendar that everyone seemed to bitch about, yet it sold out every night. I had cleaned […]Read
New Years Eve 1982, and we’re standing together in the upstairs loge of Irving Plaza. We got to play and then the plug was pulled; the promoter has bailed out. Those lumberjacks of DOA are wandering the venue, trying to find someone to beat for this shit. As with so many stacked shows in those […]Read
Once a thriving dairy community, Cerritos was a constantly changing environment. It was a place where you could drunkenly ride a cow through an abandoned dairy at midnight, only to find the field covered with yet another 7-11 the following week. The heavy smell of hot asphalt, ever devouring the landscape, clashed with the bitter perfume of cowshit; the asphalt always won. Here was a perfect place for punk rock to take hold, the endless tracts supplying a new house to be destroyed every weekend, the frantic rhythms providing a natural soundtrack for boredom and outrageous alcohol abuse. Friends since the third grade, Mike Magrann and Kimm Gardener soon found the inevitable guitars in their hands, though with no real idea of what to do with them. However, with their shared appreciation of a wide range of music (along with their endless quest for free beer), it wasn’t long before an early version of CH3 was blasting out Blitzkrieg Bop at a kegger. They were soon playing Clash and 999 covers on the Cerritos party circuit, covering more suburban backyards than a team of Salvadoran landscapers.
After learning how to write a song (and perfecting the sublime art of kicking out drummers), Kimm and Mike finally settled on the original recording lineup of CH3, with Larry Kelley on Bass and Mike Burton on Drums. The first Demo recording found its circuitous way to Robbie Fields, founder of the legendary Posh Boy Label, and a deal was hastily made. This was before the band had played a single club. The CH3 EP was released early Summer, 1981. The record received good critical notices, but the band’s limited exposure kept it a modest success. This began a campaign to play every show possible, in any location that would have the band. Interest began growing, the band got better, and by the time Fear of Life was released Summer 1982, the band was ready for its first extensive U.S. tour.
At the time, touring the punk club circuit was a shaky proposition at best. There were lots of cancellations, lots of fights, and wherever exists a squatter’s living room with an American Flag nailed to the wall, chances are CH3 slept under it! The band’s constant travel probably contributed to its healthy turnover rate, and the 1983 tour in support of After the Lights Go Out saw Posh Boy Veteran Jay Lansford joining the band. Jay, a former member of the Simpletones and Stepmothers (as well as in-house producer of many Posh hits), brought to the band a new professionalism, not to mention many new hair care products. The band was at the peak of its popularity, playing to large crowds, and enjoying chart success in Europe with the I Got A Gun UK release.
By the mid eighties, the band was spending more time in the rehearsal studio, experimenting with a five man lineup and stretching out creatively. Airborne , the first release on Enigma records, was a stylistic departure for CH3. Many fans refer to this as the definitive dawn of the “You guys Suck!” phase in the band’s history. That record’s emphasis on song over speed (and the outrageous use of the much feared harmonica!) alienated some fans, but allowed the band to begin playing more high profile shows, supporting acts such as X, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Midnight Oil. Empowered by a new sense of artistic freedom (or maybe it was the superior backstage deli trays), CH3 then delivered Last Time I Drank in 1985, a record that many hardcore punk fans found not only a shocking display of musicianship, but also a blatant display of disrespect of all things bald, broke, and smelling of clove cigarettes. This one even had a saxophone on it for God’s sake! Never fond of the strict conformity of Punk Rock’s non-conformist manifesto, the band continued to explore musically. The final release of the 1980’s was the aptly named Rejected, a curious mix of studio projects that sounds like a weary Amen! after a long and desperate prayer…
The band kept a low profile through the 90’s. Besides the annual Doll Hut benefit show and the rare late night television appearance, the band had all but vanished. Oddly, the band emerged in Europe for a brief tour in 1994, with the live release How Do You Open the Damn Thing serving as a reminder of the band’s powerful live performance.
But the band was not done; CH3 had simply retreated to the basement lab, plotting for the inevitable return with a maniacal laugh!
Early 2000’s, CH3 found itself back on the road, curiously playing to bigger crowds than ever. With the addition of Anthony Thompson on Bass, and the long suffering Fredo Silva pounding the skins (not to mention drumming) the band was back to the classic 4 man assault. With a new self titled Channel 3 release on Dr Strange Records, the band was back on track recording and playing live home and abroad.
2013 saw the release of Land of the Free on Hostage Records, a 7″ single with a full album worth of downloads included. This was followed by the eventual 12″ album, Home for the Homeless, which gathered all of the singles, compilation tracks and one-off oddities collected in the past years. Regular touring of the US and Europe kept the lads busy through these years.
2017 brought yet another shake up to the band, with the addition of Nick Manning on drums and a new album in the can. The band gathered in early 2017 at the Racket Room in Santa Ana CA to record a new album of songs with original Posh Boy producer and CH3 member Jay Lansford as producer. Writing and recording in the fearful post-Trump apocalyptic era, the band responded with the blistering Put ‘Em Up on the relaunched TKO records flagship. The album is a fitting statement on these confusing times, with themes of political oppression and romantic bewilderment intertwining to finally make the CH3 thesis whole: We don’t understand it either, but perhaps these guitars will help us explain.
Gentlemen rockers in the twilight, perhaps a shade of grey now colors the head but the crimson fire still visible, burning in core.