David Rinck’s local ties date back to 1981, when the singer/guitarist/sax player cofounded the original Wallflowers. Somewhat punk, a little mod, and always rockin’, the band wrote songs about dangerous San Diego locales of the time, such as “Funland” (about a long-gone downtown game arcade frequented by hookers and sailors) and “Paradise on 4th Avenue” (mainly chronicling that street’s early punk hangout, Studio 517).
“To be honest, I feel sort of comfortable with places where there isn’t a lot of law and order, possibly as a result of growing up with a less-than-great relationship with authority,” said Rinck.
Long after he departed San Diego, Rinck continued to perform and record with local players, including the Ramblers (with Music Power producer Eric Camillo), the Blues Gangsters, founded in 2008 with Dave Ellison (Rockin’ Dogs), Dave Fleminger (the Answers), Kristi Maddocks (Everybody Violet), and fellow former-Wallflower Matt Johnson. Until just a few weeks ago, he was also playing with the reunited Cardiac Kidz, one of the city’s earliest punk bands.
“Over the course of all these years, a sort of musical canon has evolved. I love tunes like ‘Rubber Room’ from the Wallflowers, ‘Candy Rock’ by the Rockin’ Dogs, ‘Find Yourself a Way’ by the Cardiac Kidz, and ‘Tigershark Blues’ by the Blues Gangsters. Some of these songs I’ve played on several continents, with multiple bands.”
Rinck is currently living in northern Africa. “Tunisia is a great place to be right now, because of the political opening, which is also producing all sorts of new freedoms for them in culture as well. They’ve been tied to France for many years, so there’s a huge thirst for American music these days. San Diego bands that feel like coming out would find a great reception.”
WHAT’S IN YOUR MUSIC PLAYER?
1) Stan Getz, João Gilberto, and Antonio Carlos Jobim, Getz/Gilberto. “I’m still primarily a saxophonist, and this is exactly how I wish I could play.”
2) Faudel, Khaled and Rachid Taha, 1 2 3 Soleils. “Algerian punk rock that comes from the brothels of Oran. Really profane stuff. These guys were basically gunned down in the streets for their music during the civil war in Algeria.”
3) Cesaria Evora, Café Atlantico. “She has such a great voice. This CD takes me to a smoky piano bar in Cape Verde.”
4) Chet Baker, Chet Baker Sings. “I love to hear what a great musician does when he puts his talents into interpreting classic numbers like this.”
5) Jimmy Reed, Just Jimmy Reed. “He’s my favorite guitarist, after Scotty Moore from Elvis’s band.”
WHERE IN SAN DIEGO DO YOU HANG OUT?
“Lestat’s West. I like the coffee and the easygoing ambiance. It’s my office when I’m in San Diego. And it’s open 24/7. I love staying out all night.”
“Johnny Thunders & the Heartbreakers at the Whisky a Go Go, about 1980. He was the king on a good night, one of the greatest bluesmen ever. The Muddy Waters of punk rock. They brought the house down that night.”
IF YOU COULD TIME TRAVEL, WHEN/WHERE WOULD YOU VACATION?
“I’d go back to 1977 London and go see all the punk-rock bands, just to see what it was really like. I bet it was fun as can be, in the halcyon days.”
BEST DISH THAT YOU COOK?
“Peri-peri chicken. Or shrimp, when I can get good ones. I make the peri-peri sauce from oil, whiskey, and chili peppers, and let it sit in a jar for a year.”
READ ANY GOOD BOOKS LATELY?
“I just went back and read The Plague, by Albert Camus, again. He was, of course, a Pied-Noir [French citizen in Algeria] who grew up in a poor neighborhood in Algiers called Belcourt. A lot of the French existentialists and post-modernists — like Jacques Derrida and Michel Foucault — grew up in French North Africa, so I wanted to figure out why this region gave us so many countercultural figures.”
LEAST FAVORITE MOVIE?
“Eat Pray Love was so bad that I would have walked out, but I was on a plane.”
EVER BEEN A CRIME VICTIM?
“I used to live in Nairobi, and I was driving through this traffic-circle about 7 p.m. with my window down, and this kid came up and stole my cell phone out of my hand. His partner tried to stab me in the eye, so the first one got the phone while I was distracted, trying not to have my eye gouged out. I didn’t really care about my phone. He could have just showed me the knife and asked for it, and I would’ve given it to him.”
PHRASE YOU NEVER WANT TO HEAR AGAIN?
“You have a message on Facebook.”
THREE THINGS WE DON’T KNOW ABOUT YOU?
1) “I studied economics in Beijing, China, in 1988 and 1989. I was in Tiananmen Square during the whole uprising. Basically, my whole class died when the tanks rolled in.”
2) “I have an African cat named Aysho that’s like family to me. He’s fought falcons and stuff. He got bit by a venomous snake once in Kenya, and we had to give him anti-venom, but he lived.”
3) “I like Culture Club.” ■