7th July 2014
Considered somewhat of an enigma by some, Symbol Six had their flash in the pan moment in Los Angeles back in the early eighties when the members were just 15 years old. Their high energy punk rock got them into the studio to produce a self-titled four-song EP (Posh Boy Records, 1982) which gained regular play on the LA radio station KROQ.
Shows with TSOL, Social Distortion, Bad Religion and other Californian punk bands followed, however the band self-combusted soon after due to musical differences whilst the members went on to study or play with fellow LA musicians such as Izzy Stradlin. However, the story of Symbol Six was not over yet, as the band reformed with all original members in 2010, and released their first long player 'Monsters 11'.
A line-up change soon took place, with Donny Brooks and Mark Conway departing, and Evan Shanks and Tony Fate taking their places respectively. Eric Leach, Taz Rudd and Phil George remained from the original line-up.
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Re-entering the live circuit once again, Symbol Six played gigs with Jello Biafra and The Adicts before going back in the studio in the summer of 2012 to record 'Dirtyland'. Despite playing 100+ shows in 2012/13, the burning question remained: was 'Dirtyland' going to be a bunch of old has-beens trying to reignite their youth once again?
The title track opener sets the tone... and the party is on! With its mid-tempo rock'n'roll, big riffs and a shouty chorus, Symbol Six sound like an angrier (read: better) Social Distortion. 'Generation Damnation' hears Eric Leach rasp its opening line of 'Distortion is my only sound' like he means it.
'Viva' ramps things up a few gears with an almost psychobilly-esque flavour and with its big chorus will quite possibly be a big hit at their live shows. Being the longest track on the album clocking in at 3mins,45secs, 'Madness', whilst being a sleazy rocker, has fantastic, soulful female backing vocals taking the track to another level.
The production on the album is slick and big; there's no Ryvita-in-the-ear moments here as was common with the DIY punk seven inches of old. 'Creepin'' was already released with a video in late 2012 but oddly is one of the weaker tracks on this otherwise thrilling release.
Leach gives the middle finger with the rebellious line of "I won't break down, I won't quit, I don't care if it don't fit" on 'Outta My Way'. Although evoking images of a bunch of Sunset Strip walking dudes overdosed on hairspray at the start of 'Psychosix', Eric Leach's whisky and cigarettes vocals and the mean bass break catapults it to another sphere, transforming it into a furious punk track but never compromising on melody.
Although Symbol Six had their baptism in straight-down punk, the band have matured in more than age and there is so much rock'n'roll squeezed all over 'Dirtyland' that folk into the likes of Turbonegro, Backyard Babies and even some eighties LA rock will love this album.
The record is awash with sing-along choruses and catchy melodies entrenched in raw, dirty punk rock'n'roll, and with a tour planned for this year old fans and the curious will be in for a treat. Although definitely not singing about rainbows and fluffy ducklings, 'Dirtyland' is an unadulterated feel-good rock'n'roll record dripping with attitude. Symbol Six, welcome back.
'Dirtyland' was released on Jailhouse Records on 7th July 2014.