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Some Kind of Nightmare tours while Social Spit stays home

The difference between young and old punk rockers

Social Spit: keening for a cat.
Social Spit: keening for a cat.

“I’m 64 years old with one leg. I don’t need any help falling down,” Social Spit frontman Cliff Cunningham tells me. He’s not spewing random trivia; he’s responding to my question about whether he’s drunk yet. “I slowed way down on that stuff, it catches up after a while.” In Cunningham and his band’s case, “a while” is 40-plus years spent staying close to home to play shows. Cunningham is a retired postal worker, and the romance of the road has dimmed with the risk and reality. Social Spit did venture out on the road “a couple times,” according to Cunningham, who calls each show a “disaster,” with sub-par attendance. “We played one time in Las Vegas at the Double Down Saloon, I think there were about six people there. Enough said.” Today, the average band member age is 59. “Two of the guys had full-time jobs, so touring was out.” Besides, he says, “Driving 150 miles to play one show just isn’t appealing. The cost of travel today versus getting eight drink tickets and no guarantee of any cash?”

Some Kind of Nightmare: the road is a trip.

In contrast, Some Kind of Nightmare, a band composed of mid-thirties players who often share a stage with Social Spit, tours so often that they have no fixed address, though they consider San Diego their home base. “We had gone from San Diego to New York City and back to San Diego,” according to guitarist/singer State Chy and bassist/singer Molly Mess. “That tour completely changed our outlook on life. We didn’t want to come back to our jobs and rent. We just wanted to keep going. The tour felt like home more than stationary living. We talked to our friends from the band Clepto, who were living on the road. They gave us advice on how to make the transition, and we dove in. The benefits are the riches in experience. It’s something new every day. Playing shows is therapy within itself, then adding meeting new like-minded people who become family. They are our people. Then there’s the traveling aspect. We get to be a part of all of the scenes across the country, explore different cities, and make music along the way. Yes, there’s struggle, but it’s so worth it. Releasing creativity and art is healing.”

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The two bands may differ in their musical approach to punk rock and their travel habits, but both draw from experience and anger. While Some Kind of Nightmare rages against every aspect of the system (particularly the health care system, which had a direct effect on Molly’s treatment and recovery from breast cancer) and represents the underdogs in the war of the classes, Cunningham is still angry about his cats being killed at a party — and he sings about it on “Shitist.” He explains, “No one is sure what happened, probably this fucking psycho that was hanging out at my house. I don’t know if he stepped on the cats on purpose or kicked them or what, but I threw everyone out. The only consolation, if you want to call it that, is that it they were kittens, and I didn’t have them long enough to get really attached. I was just getting ready to know them.” After a pause, Cunningham says, “I’m still pissed.” To cheer him up, his bandmates purchased him a novelty stuffed animal, marketed as “Dead Cat” in the ‘80s, that came complete with a death certificate. The singer serenades the toy when they play the song live.

Both bands shared the Tower Bar stage in City Heights on the first Friday of January, along with Texas troubadour, Some Kind Of Nightmare tourmate Marc-Alan Prince, and local ska-core trio Midnight Track. Each band was different, and Cunningham liked it that way: “This was great. I used to think all the same types of bands should play together, but the definition of what punk is has expanded and this show proved that different styles are exciting together.”

As Cunningham headed back to his home in Ramona, Some Kind of Nightmare prepared for the road. “The downsides to tour life are the risks that come with it,” granted Chy. “The absence of everyday creature comforts. Not having your own bed to sleep in. Your own kitchen to cook in. Or your own living room to lounge in. But you find routines to follow out of the unfamiliar, and every challenge becomes a learning experience to grow from. Shows may fall through and vans may break down, but you have to keep going.”

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Social Spit: keening for a cat.
Social Spit: keening for a cat.

“I’m 64 years old with one leg. I don’t need any help falling down,” Social Spit frontman Cliff Cunningham tells me. He’s not spewing random trivia; he’s responding to my question about whether he’s drunk yet. “I slowed way down on that stuff, it catches up after a while.” In Cunningham and his band’s case, “a while” is 40-plus years spent staying close to home to play shows. Cunningham is a retired postal worker, and the romance of the road has dimmed with the risk and reality. Social Spit did venture out on the road “a couple times,” according to Cunningham, who calls each show a “disaster,” with sub-par attendance. “We played one time in Las Vegas at the Double Down Saloon, I think there were about six people there. Enough said.” Today, the average band member age is 59. “Two of the guys had full-time jobs, so touring was out.” Besides, he says, “Driving 150 miles to play one show just isn’t appealing. The cost of travel today versus getting eight drink tickets and no guarantee of any cash?”

Some Kind of Nightmare: the road is a trip.

In contrast, Some Kind of Nightmare, a band composed of mid-thirties players who often share a stage with Social Spit, tours so often that they have no fixed address, though they consider San Diego their home base. “We had gone from San Diego to New York City and back to San Diego,” according to guitarist/singer State Chy and bassist/singer Molly Mess. “That tour completely changed our outlook on life. We didn’t want to come back to our jobs and rent. We just wanted to keep going. The tour felt like home more than stationary living. We talked to our friends from the band Clepto, who were living on the road. They gave us advice on how to make the transition, and we dove in. The benefits are the riches in experience. It’s something new every day. Playing shows is therapy within itself, then adding meeting new like-minded people who become family. They are our people. Then there’s the traveling aspect. We get to be a part of all of the scenes across the country, explore different cities, and make music along the way. Yes, there’s struggle, but it’s so worth it. Releasing creativity and art is healing.”

Sponsored
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The two bands may differ in their musical approach to punk rock and their travel habits, but both draw from experience and anger. While Some Kind of Nightmare rages against every aspect of the system (particularly the health care system, which had a direct effect on Molly’s treatment and recovery from breast cancer) and represents the underdogs in the war of the classes, Cunningham is still angry about his cats being killed at a party — and he sings about it on “Shitist.” He explains, “No one is sure what happened, probably this fucking psycho that was hanging out at my house. I don’t know if he stepped on the cats on purpose or kicked them or what, but I threw everyone out. The only consolation, if you want to call it that, is that it they were kittens, and I didn’t have them long enough to get really attached. I was just getting ready to know them.” After a pause, Cunningham says, “I’m still pissed.” To cheer him up, his bandmates purchased him a novelty stuffed animal, marketed as “Dead Cat” in the ‘80s, that came complete with a death certificate. The singer serenades the toy when they play the song live.

Both bands shared the Tower Bar stage in City Heights on the first Friday of January, along with Texas troubadour, Some Kind Of Nightmare tourmate Marc-Alan Prince, and local ska-core trio Midnight Track. Each band was different, and Cunningham liked it that way: “This was great. I used to think all the same types of bands should play together, but the definition of what punk is has expanded and this show proved that different styles are exciting together.”

As Cunningham headed back to his home in Ramona, Some Kind of Nightmare prepared for the road. “The downsides to tour life are the risks that come with it,” granted Chy. “The absence of everyday creature comforts. Not having your own bed to sleep in. Your own kitchen to cook in. Or your own living room to lounge in. But you find routines to follow out of the unfamiliar, and every challenge becomes a learning experience to grow from. Shows may fall through and vans may break down, but you have to keep going.”

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