Despite royalty rights issues, skate-punk trio Agent Orange keeps on rollin’. Catch them at Brick by Brick this Saturday.
- Saturday, June 6, 2015, 8 p.m.
Brick by Brick,
1130 Buenos Avenue,
$12 - $15
“I think he just scammed me.” Agent Orange founder Mike Palm was talking about the New Mexico highway patrolman who pulled him over on Interstate 10 in the middle of our phone interview. “He said I was going 75 in a 65. The highway speed limit is 75 throughout New Mexico.”
His punk band had just left a gig in Dallas as part of a 38-city tour. “We dodged a bullet in Austin. They’re now under nine feet of water.” They were headed to Tucson before playing the Whiskey on Friday and Brick by Brick Saturday.
"The ultimate skate rock video," featuring Agent Orange
Guitarist Palm is the only original member of the Orange County band that started mixing surf guitar and thrash in 1979. Bassist Perry Gx has been onboard for nine years, drummer Dave Klein for seven. Is this the longest time with the same lineup? “It seems like it,” Palm tells the Reader. “But if you think about that stuff too much you start to lose it.”
Palm has lived in North County for 15 years. “I guess I’m almost a local.” Both kids are involved in drama and choir at Carlsbad High. His oldest graduates next week.
Off of Agent Orange's 1981 debut Living in Darkness
Palm says he doesn’t lean on his kids to perform. “I don’t want to be overbearing. I’ll let them find their own path.”
What bugs him, says Palm, are the skate dads who ruin the experience at local skate parks. “I spend a lot of time skating at these new parks in Carlsbad, Oceanside, and Cardiff. These dads act like coaches. They ruin the experience...”
Palm’s shredding Dick Dale–style licks became the soundtrack for the early ’80s skate scene after Agent Orange tracks were featured in 1984’s Skatevisions skate video.
That tie-in led to a new line of rock merch when Agent Orange skateboard decks hit the market in 1985. “They became collector’s items. I saw one listed on eBay for $1900.”
Old-school and new A.O. decks
Palm says he just started making Agent Orange skate decks again. They sell well, but T-shirts are easier.
“We sold out this first run but you have to come up with a lot of capital up front. And they are pretty heavy. They need their own trailer.”
The story is different for his record royalties. Palm says Posh Boy, Ryko Disc, and Enigma labels stiffed him for songwriter and other royalties.
“I haven’t seen any statements or payments for 12 years. They have completely ignored my request for accounting, even when the owner of Posh Boy writes me and says ‘I clearly owe you.’ At this point I think I’ll find another [attorney]. This was not what I had in mind when I picked up a guitar.”