LARS FREDERIKSEN & THE BASTARDS with dropkick murphys, SWINGIN' UTTERS and REACH THE SKY at the Phoenix (410 Sherbourne), Sunday (March 11), 5 pm doors. $16. 416-323-1251.
lars frederiksen can always be counted on to speak his mind.
The motormouth guitarist with fiercely DIY Cali punk squad Rancid has no problem telling you straight up that major labels are colluding with Satan, that what passes for R&B today makes him want to puke and that Rancid leader Tim Armstrong is the best motherfucking songwriter on the planet.
Musicians don't come much funnier or more forthright than this.
With the March 20 release of Frederiksen's more or less solo debut with combo the Bastards -- and the ensuing tour that places him opposite Dropkick Murphys and Swingin' Utters, two bands he's produced -- he's barking down the line with all the bluster of a guy tough enough to endure a near-total body inking.
Lars Frederiksen & the Bastards, the record, is pretty much what you'd expect from a member of Rancid, especially one who drafted Armstrong to co-write and produce.
Fast, frantic and no-frills, the disc reveals Frederiksen as a passable singer/screamer with social conscience intact, hence songs like Dead American, presumably inspired by the Viet Nam War. Cutting-edge? No, but given the mean age of hardcore Rancid fans, quite possibly a revelation.
Recorded in five days, the disc has a palpable spit-polish vibe, which, as Frederiksen explains prior to the gig he's playing at the Phoenix Sunday, was exactly the plan.
"Most of those songs are one or two takes. I'd teach the band the songs and we'd record. Completely spur of the moment," he howls. "Just like George Michael, man. We had to have faith.
"This record was Tim's idea. He always used to say he loved my stories about Campbell, which is the town where I grew up in California. So he said, "Let's make a Lars record.'
"That made it so special for me, knowing what a talented songwriter he is. We wrote all the songs for this record together, and Tim produced it and released it through Hellcat," Armstrong's own imprint and part of the Epitaph group of labels.
While it's hardly uncommon for artists to branch out with solo discs only to return to the fold later, as Frederiksen pledges to do with Rancid (see sidebar), seldom do they invite members of their day-job bands along for the ride. But as Frederiksen points out, Rancid is family -- ergo, "The Bastards are really just an extension of Rancid.
"Making this record was such a pleasure. I got to hang out with my best friend.
"We've done three shows so far, and kids have been coming up to me afterward saying, "Man, your songs are so easy to sing along to.' I try to help them out. When I was going to see punk rock shows, it was always interactive. The band would introduce the song and point out the chorus, and it would work.
"Kind of the modern version of the bouncing ball, except you're in the slam pit and you're trying to make sense of what some fucker is saying through a $50 P.A."
Still, nothing gets Frederiksen sounding off quite like talk of major labels. He isn't just railing against the big boys -- he's out to stop them.
"The most gratifying thing that's ever happened to me and all of us in the band is when I'm at a show or walking to the supermarket and some kid comes up to me and says, "You guys are fucking great, and we're never going to sign some major-label fucking deal because you guys proved you don't have to in order to succeed.'"
So the plan is to shut the majors down one band at a time? "Fuckin' A, man. Fuckin' A."