“We only had a couple of records, but [the songs] were turning up everywhere and everybody was cashing in except us,” says singer-bassist James Ryan of ’70s punkers the Cardiac Kidz, whose recent reunion was essentially prompted by bootleggers. The original Cardiac Kidz single “Get Out”/“Find Yourself a Way,” released in February 1979, was followed by four-song EP Playground, recorded live at the Spirit Club. Only a thousand were pressed, and copies on eBay sold for $400 and up.
Newer reissues overseen by the band haven’t greatly affected collector prices, and recent releases such as Meet with Me: Live at Lestat’s West, Rarities 1979 to 1981, and Get Out are reportedly doing well for local Blindspot Records. The reunited trio of Ryan (bass/vocals), Jerry Flack (guitar/vocals), and Jerry Nelson (drums) is now augmented by former Wallflowers frontman David Rinck on second guitar. A new EP recorded at Earthling Studios, Playing for Change, is planned for release in June, followed by a new full-length around Thanksgiving.
“The reunion will continue. We’re making lots of plans. We’ll hit New York and team up with [NY band] the Last Internationale in June, and then we have a European tour. My friends in Ireland said that they’ll help us plan out a Belfast Dash, too.”
Though only extant for a few years in the late ’70s, Ryan says they were playing every week at long-gone venues such as the Spirit, the Skeleton Club, the North Park Lions’ Club, the Roxy Theater in P.B., and SDSU’s Backdoor.
“Our first concert at the Backdoor was probably our best gig ever because of the excitement of playing for over 300 people. Up to then, we were only doing bars like the Padre Inn and Dick’s at the Beach, which brought in the traditional 30 to 75 [people]. The Backdoor gave us a chance to step up the game. We gave away our single and photo postcards all night, and it was the very first time that someone asked me to sign an autograph for them. It was like A Star Is Born.”
As a member of one of San Diego’s two oldest recently reunited punk bands (the other being the Zeros), what does Ryan think of the city’s current musical crop? “I like Mike Stax’s group the Loons, and the Last Years are really good, too. They’re kids who call their music ‘the sound of ’77.’ We were ’77, so they’re like our grandkids.”