Performing @ The Hood Bar and Pizza, Friday, December 5th – 9pm
Bby Lisa Morgan
Sean Wheeler and Zander Schloss both fell on the troubadour’s sword long ago. For them, there is no other product or service they are built to deliver other than music. Both of these musicians forged their own separate, noteworthy sonic footprints for almost a decade before Wheeler’s band, Throw Rag, and Schloss’ Circle Jerks, shared the same venue. Mutually fluid in the lifestyle and legend of the punk rock genre, something special and unexpected happened when they found themselves sharing a stage together, sans any other band members.
Zander Schloss: Multi-instrumentalist, Zander Schloss, is a musician, actor and composer. Bass player for The Circle Jerks and The Weirdos, he is also well known for his contributions to a number of independent, cult status feature films such as “Kevin the Nerd”, a number of Alex Cox films, as well as significant musical contributions to Sid and Nancy (1986), Straight to Hell (1987), Walker (1987), El Patrullero (1991) and The Winner (1996).
Schloss joined the Circle Jerks in ’84 after a two year stint with funk band “The Juicy Bananas”. He left the Jerks after two albums to join up with former Clash front man Joe Strummer in London as musical director and multi-instrumentalist on several tours, solo albums and sound tracks. Schloss re-joined the Circle Jerks for their 1990 U.S. tour and their final studio album, Oddities, Abnormalities and Curiosities on their major label debut with Mercury Records. He continued to tour and record with Circle Jerks until 2010.
Schloss also found time to work with Scott Weiland of Stone Temple Pilots and Velvet Revolver in The Magnificent Bastards, The Weirdos, Too Free Stooges and Thelonious Monster. He was called to tour with Red Hot Chili Peppers after guitarist John Frusciante left, but decided not to join. He worked on Latin projects El Patrullero in 1991 as composer and recorded with Robi Draco Rosa on his album Frio in 1994. He formed the group Low and Sweet Orchestra with Thelonious Monster friend, Mike Martt, The Pogues accordionist James Fearnley, and brothers Dermot and Kieran Mulroney. In 1996, they released their debut record, Goodbye to All That on Interscope Records. In late 2007, Schloss appeared with his 14-piece band, The Wilderness Years, at The Key Club in tribute to friend and collaborator Joe Strummer.
Schloss also currently works as a studio session player and composer on various film and commercial projects. In 2010, Schloss released the Gus Seyffert produced album, Walk Thee Invisible with musical partner and collaborator Sean Wheeler.
Wheeler, or Captain Sean Doe, co-founded Throw Rag in ’93 with Roger “Chino” Smith (drums), and Dan “Scorcho” Lapham (rhythm guitar). Bassist Danny “Talmadge” Black and guitarist Michael “The Outlaw” McCartney rounded out the original lineup. Throw Rag played regularly at Rhythm and Brews, operated by renowned desert musician Mario Lalli. Other members were Scott “Barfly” Brooks (bass) and Tom “Colonel Riptide Tenmen” Lynn (banjo and vibes), Francis “Franco” Cronin (bass fiddle), Patrick “Dino” Bostrom (lead guitar), Craig “Jacko” Jackman “Lord of Scum”, John Summers aka “Johnny Bloodstreak” (washboard and vocals), Louis Bluefeather (harmonica and didgeridoo), and Dr. Brittle Bones (tambourine and “onstage medical assistance”).
In 1999, their debut album, Tee-Tot, was released on Hellnote Records. Sean Doe, donning a signature captain’s hat and 70s double-knit suit, and Jacko in a wife beater and double knit pants, were known to strip down on stage. Their music and antics, and growing reputation, led them to open for bands like Supersuckers, Green Day, Wesley Willis and Willie Nelson. In 2001, the band released a CD split with Supersuckers which featured a song that would later appear on a Warped Tour 2002 Tour Compilation and their follow up album. That follow up album, Desert Shores, was released in ’03 on BYO Records, and was compared by critics to The Damned. “Throw Rag’s approach to punk rock is refreshing and yet still time-honored. “Space Hump Me” has a lot of early-’70s punk in it, particularly with the sneering vocals and simple arrangement such as the Damned.” – Billboard
13 Feet and Rising released in ’05 featured guest vocals by Keith Morris and Jello Biafra. A cover of Merle Haggard’s “Tonight the Bottle Let Me Down” featured guest vocalist Lemmy. Their fourth full length album, 2nd Place, was released in ’08, and was produced by Cameron Webb (Social Distortion, Motorhead).
Today, Sean Wheeler will be the first to tell you that he couldn’t have done anything without overcoming his addiction to drugs and alcohol. In ’89, he sought treatment at The Ranch Recovery Center in Desert Hot Springs, and now celebrates 17 years in recovery. “I couldn’t do anything until I quit running in circles and got clean and sober,” he shared. “As kids growing up here in the desert in the 80s, we were always drinking. We were smoking weed in 5th grade, doing acid in junior high, and shooting up speed and heroine in high school. Some of us came out ok, others didn’t. I think for me, the voices in my head were so loud. Alcohol and drugs were the only ways I knew to quiet them, but they just came back even louder. It got to the point for me, where what I was doing wasn’t taking away the pain as much as it was creating it, and probably for a lot longer than I even realize. I went through a time where I’d tell myself I could have one beer. But all it took was one beer, and I was right back into all of it. It was the 12 Steps and the rooms (of Alcohol Anonymous) that got me through it. I’m one of the lucky ones. I have people I know out there suffering…just hopeless and lost. If they only knew how good their life could be.”
Sean Wheeler and Zander Schloss: Considering their deep rock-ous foundation in the music, life and styles of the 80’s cow-punk scene, one might assume that the joining of these two forces of musical nature would result in more of the same cacophonous, clamorous, raw rock rebellion. Somehow without losing a single bit of their edge and authenticity, these two artists bring their incredibly developed sense of musicianship to their well-crafted lyrics. Leaning a bit heavier on the roots of rockabilly than its progression, the two create a jambalaya of folk rock that plays out in an electrocuted combination of ragtime, bluegrass, blues and jazz, depending on what song you’re listening to. Like a seductive traveling medicine man, Wheeler preaches his sermon in his crusty, signature style, atop a virtual choir of string and wood that Schloss produces singlehandedly. The only thing missing from the “old days” of Throw Rag and Circle Jerks is a whole lot of angst, some signature loud production and recklessness. But it’s by no means, any less passionate.
“Zander still practices his instruments every day,” Wheeler shared. “When I first met him, he told me, ‘If you want to be great, if you want to make it, you have to practice.’ I love that about him. Sometimes, when I get asked advice on the music business, it seems like people want to know a short cut, but that’s the real answer – you have to practice your craft.”
The two have been working together for years now, touring rigorously and sharing tight quarters as they travel. They have opened for The Pogues, Mark Lanegan, Masters of Reality, Flogging Molly, Mariachi El Bronx and X (American band). They have a steady three months booked in Europe, playing everywhere from Belgium, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Ireland and more, followed by a trip to Miami to join Flogging Molly on a cruise. “It’s very much like a marriage. You can let the little things get to you, especially when you’re tired or hungry. I just always look at the big picture…what we’re able to accomplish together is pretty great.”
Their newest album, And Other Desert Cities is reflective and soulful. Every single song seems to take you on a train ride through thought and geography. It brings you everything from a little bit of Zydeco to Texas Swing to Latin folk to pure heart-grabbing Americana. It is pretty stunning the amount of music that pours out of just two men. In an industry that is leaning hard on production techniques and AutoTune to basically photoshop shallow songs, Other Desert Cities, and pretty much all the music coming from this duo of authenticity, is like water on a parched soul.
Don’t miss these two at The Hood Bar & Pizza this Friday night, December 4th. It could very possibly be summer before you will have another opportunity.