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POP BEAT

Ex-adolescent Now 'Grandpa' Of The Tribe

October 16, 1987|RANDY LEWIS | Times Staff Writer

A dolescent Grows Up .

That's probably not what Frank Agnew, former guitarist for the seminal Orange County punk band the Adolescents, would call his autobiography, if or when he writes it. But it paints a pretty good picture of his outlook on life at the grand old age of 23.

The younger brother of Adolescents founder and lead singer Rikk Agnew, Frank speaks of his new band--the Tribe--in terms of its greater "maturity."

He was barely of driving age when the Adolescents joined the Southern California punk scene and were playing such clubs as the Cuckoo's Nest in Costa Mesa in the late '70s and early '80s.

But now he refers to himself as "the grandpa" of the Tribe, which features yet another Agnew sibling--Alfie, 18--on guitar, as well as John Knight, 20, on drums and Tom Hughes, 19, on bass. The group will play Saturday at Big John's in Anaheim on a bill with Texorcist, the new band formed by Texacala Jones, formerly of Tex & the Horseheads.

"Some people have come to our shows kind of expecting (the Tribe) to be like the Adolescents, and it's not. So a couple people don't look too happy, but who cares," Frank said. "We've still got the same energy--it's not like we're going limp.

"Our music still has a lot of push, but it's more melodic and has more maturity. I guess that's the main thing."

He has plenty of reason to speak of the maturation of his music, which parallels changes in his own life that have come with a wife and son--Frank Jr.--and a return to college studies. Fans of the Adolescents' explosive music might have difficulty picturing Rikk Agnew, one of the most flamboyant performers to come out of the local punk movement, fulfilling his role as "Uncle Rikk" to Frank Jr., but Frank said: "He's the best uncle a kid could have. You should see him."

The Adolescents disbanded in 1981 because of personality clashes, which resurfaced during a short-lived 1982 reunion. The group reunited more successfully in 1986, with all three Agnew brothers taking part.

But Frank and Alfie dropped out and formed the Tribe earlier this year (though not before Alfie played guitar for the Adolescents' "Brats in Battalions" album); Rikk Agnew and the other Adolescents continue performing (and the Ads, as the band is nicknamed, is also showing a new perspective of age, suggesting that "Ads" could now be short for either "Adolescents" or "Adults").

After leaving the Adolescents, Frank said, "I was in hibernation for a long time, not doing anything." He did, however, re-enroll in school and is pursuing a liberal arts degree at Fullerton College because, he said, "I didn't want to be a high school dropout any more."

Given the relatively lackluster state of the Orange County club scene, Agnew admitted the difficulty in trying to start a new band now.

"I don't think this is a great time to do it, because there's not much of anything happening," he said. "People don't go to shows as much as they used to. Only if something cool is happening. Or they might go to Big John's, because it's the place to go in Orange County right now. (The scene) isn't as up as it used to be. Maybe it will pick up again, but I've been getting worried for a while because things ain't picking up."

Then again, the popular success and career potential of the Tribe appear to be of secondary importance to Agnew.

"I'm just doing it because I was tired of sitting around. I was having (musical) withdrawal. I'm putting a lot of effort into this, and it seems to be coming together.

"For the first time in four years, I really feel good about a band. What happens with a lot of bands is that the members treat it just like ahobby--they don't take it as far as they can go, so they limit themselves. That's the hardest part: finding other musicians who want to take advantage of it and do something even if it means sacrificing a part-time job to go back East and play."

But, Agnew added, "Even if this one doesn't work, I'll keep trying. I'll never give up."

ORANGE AID: A dozen Orange County bands will perform a benefit to raise food and money for 10 needy families in the county. The show at the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano Dec. 20 will feature El Grupo Sexo, Children's Day, the Bell Jar, Nick Pyzow, 3D Picnic, Swamp Zombies, Lexington Devils, Electric Kool Aid, Luke & the Locomotives, Clockwork, National Peoples Gang and Black Daphne.

LIVE ACTION: Comedian Robin Williams has been added to the lineup for the Oct. 27 "Cowboys for Indians" benefit at the Pacific Amphitheatre with Willie Nelson, Joni Mitchell, Kris Kristofferson and the Graffiti Band. . . . David Lindley will do a solo show at the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano on Nov. 1 with Harry Dean Stanton opening. Steve Earle & the Dukes and Rosie Flores will play the Coach House on Nov. 12, followed on Nov. 13 by Stan Ridgway. . . . Ex-Sex Pistols guitarist Steve Jones will perform at Night Moves in Huntington Beach on Oct. 30. . . . Dumptruck will play Big John's in Anaheim on Oct. 24.

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