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Good Riddance - Interview

  by Alex Halls

published: 22 / 3 / 2008

Good Riddance - Interview


Alex Halls speaks to Russ Rankin from Californian punk band Good Riddance, back for a second and last interview with us, about his group's recent decision to break up after twelve years together, and its farewell live CD, ' Remain in Memory : The Final Show'

On 27th May 2007, in their hometown of Santa Cruz, California, Good Riddance played out for the very last time. Spanning the band’s 12 years of dedication to punk, this final gig marked an emotional end to a successful career. Less than a year later that gig resurfaces, recorded, fully mastered and magnificently titled: 'Remain in Memory: The Final Show'. As one of the bands at the forefront of the Fat Wreck label’s success, the music alone could have made Good Riddance good. It’s in the politico-socio references that the band distinguished themselves. For that reason, 'Operation Phoenix' is the defining Good Riddance album; it is brutal; it is full of conviction; it conveys its themes majestically. My path from purchasing the album through to its very first audition are still clearly marked in my mind, therefore there’s an excitement at rediscovering tracks from that album as well as older favourites such as 'Weight of the World' and 'Salt'. Citing punk’s shift from ‘community’ to ‘style’ as one of the reasons for ending the band, it’s clear in much of the tripe now brought to our ears by labels that used to have standards that things have moved for the worse. Granted, tastes do shift, but it’s in listening to unpretentious, solid punk that real issues are laid bare and real freedom is discovered. 'Remain in Memory' allows one last glimpse of the positive attributes of Good Riddance, even if, sadly, the curtain has finally been drawn. I spoke to Good Riddance's unmistakable lead singer Russ Rankin for Pennyblackmusic about 'Remain in Memory' and wondered what his view of the reaction to news of the band’s end has been: “Lots of people were sad, some didn't understand our decision. I'm sure there were several people who never thought much of us in the first place who said "about time!" Russ also shed some light on the direction each of the members had taken since the gig: “Luke [Pabich] is working at a winery, is a new father to a baby daughter and is playing in his band Outlie. Chuck [Platt] is working for Bell Sports, has two kids and is playing in I Want Out. Sean [Sellars] has a son and plays in the Real McKenzies and Luke's band Outlie. I'm still working as the CA/U.S. scout for the Kootenay Ice Hockey Club of the WHL. I also play in Only Crime.” Abandoning music was clearly not a consideration for most. Asking Russ whether he felt Good Riddance had ended in the right way, Russ confirmed what 'Remain in Memory' tells the listener: “We walked away on our own terms with our dignity intact and we gave our fans a ‘last chance’ to see us play. It was exhausting but tremendously satisfying. We couldn't have asked for a better farewell and the people who were there made it that much better.” For those fans this side of the Atlantic, Russ had this to say: “Thanks for all of your incredible support over the years. We always had amazing shows in the UK!!” Good Riddance albums never really flowed from one track to another and that made them work; failing to put you at ease, you were attentive to the introduced themes. 'Remain in Memory' only breaks from this where Russ interjects momentarily, catching his breath somewhat. Opening with a range of statements from politicians, many of which figured on past releases, the band aptly blast into 'Heresy, Hypocrisy and Revenge', a quite powerful track from both a musical and lyrical perspective. On the musical front, there’s the momentous 'Flies First Class', with its absorbing intro, as well as cracking tracks from the recent 'My Republic' album ('Out of Mind and Darkest Days'). Alongside the fiercer tracks like 'Shit Talking Capitalists', '30 Day Wonder' and 'Without Anger' are the sing-a-long 'Think of Me' and 'Yesterday’s Headlines', which allow for the crowd’s participation on a more vocal front. It’s the presence of these tracks live that draw out the emotion, where the previously recorded albums could only go so far. Later, 'United Cigar' and 'Libertine' ensure the crowd are always included. Half way through the record, Russ’ declaration to the audience is met with fervour: “we’ve a special treat for you tonight: we’re recording a live album”. Knowing how important the fans have been to the band and vice-versa, this final gig will undoubtedly go down as one of the band’s most memorable moments, which Russ will also add to: “playing in other countries, travelling and meeting so many amazing people and incredible bands [that] have served to reaffirm my faith in humanity.” Good Riddance have always challenged the political and social views of people and attempted to open people’s eyes.' The Final Show' encapsulates this; leaving one last reminder of our duty as citizens to not be taken in by political rhetoric but becoming empowered to make the right decision. A four track encore of 'Pisces/Almost Home', 'Winning the Hearts and Minds' and 'Mother Superior', before ending the final chapter on the indomitable 'Waste', with a longer, more drawn out outro. Whilst not excluding a future “best-of” album, Russ sees the whole best-of thing as “subjective” and that “even though we crammed 31 songs into one show we’ll have missed somebody's favourite song. I think we did a good job of representing all the various stages of our career and also including some extremely rare songs.” Any Good Riddance fan will see exactly that in this release. 'The Final Show' captures a raw atmosphere and moments that will always remain etched in the crowd’s memory, whilst still delivering in audio quality. 30 tracks from the band’s seven albums, as well as an intro make this a significant release, within which one is easily immersed. It is an exemplary example of why we should still challenge social and political norms. It reaffirms what Good Riddance have been trying to tell us over more than a decade: that we should speak up at injustice, prejudice and capitalist ill-judgement. And that’s where Russ hopes Good Riddance left off: “Hopefully we got people to think, to re-examine their place in life and to question the dominant paradigms of the late 20th century” but also “that we were a lot of fun; that we captured the spirit of possibilities for personal, social and political change. We had no idea how far Good Riddance would go when we started. We were fortunate to have been presented with tremendous opportunities and having the character to meet these challenges.” Good Riddance: Remain in Memory; for the music; for the opinions.

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Good Riddance - Interview

Good Riddance - Interview

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Interview (2004)
Good Riddance - Interview
Good Riddance were one of the big names on the punk circuit a few years ago, but have more recently a far adopted lower profile. Ana Grabov, talking to lead singer Russ Rankin , finds that they haven't broken up. Only their circumstances have changed


My Republic (2006)
Fantastic and as usual uncompromising new album from California-based socially-conscious hardcore punks Good Riddance

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