Social Distortion faces its first lineup change in more than 10 years with the recent departure of drummer Chris Reece.
"It was my decision pretty much," Reece said last week on the phone from his home in Long Beach. "But there were a lot of issues that led up to it. In the past we had pretty much seen eye to eye on how things were going but (recently) we just weren't seeing eye to eye on drum parts. We've just grown different ways musically, and it was time for us to go our separate ways. Both parties felt it was the best thing to do."
Reece joined Social Distortion in 1984 when the highly regarded punk band from Fullerton was at an ebb, its previous drummer and bassist having quit in disgust over leader Mike Ness' drug problems. Reece had played with a punk band in San Francisco, the Lewd, before moving to Los Angeles. By 1987, Ness' recovery had returned the band to stability and productivity, and Reece provided the beat for the three strong albums that ensued, "Prison Bound" (1988), "Social Distortion" (1990) and "Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell" (1992).
Reece, 33, emphasized that no bitterness attends his split with singer-guitarist Ness, rhythm guitarist Dennis Danell and bassist John Maurer. "It's not like we got in a big fight. Those guys are my best buddies. I still hang out with them, and I still think Mike's one of the best songwriters and guitar players around."
Ness in a separate interview said simply that Reece "wanted to explore different avenues. We've overcome many obstacles in the past. This is just another one."
Ness said that Social Distortion, which records for Epic, is still working on material for the fifth album of its 15-year career. He said Randy Carr, a drummer from Fullerton, has filled in for rehearsals and demo recordings since Reece left about four weeks ago. Ness said auditions for a full-time drummer probably won't take place for a while.
"That's not our priority right now. The priority is to get the writing finished. Right now we're writing like crazy. I've written about 30 songs in the last year. I really want to dig deep. I don't want this to be just another Social D. record--I want it to be the Social D. record."
Reece remains on the local rock scene as manager of Joyride, a fine punk band that, he said, is scheduled to record its third album for the Doctor Dream label by year's end. Reece also has been playing informally with a young, otherwise all-female band from East L.A. called Montezuma's Revenge.
"They sound like Social Distortion but they sing mostly in Spanish. It's just something to keep me busy. We'll see how it develops."