in the general vicinity of 1994, my sister ran into a punk at Berkeley
who tested her on what was REAL punk rock. She passed the test in
one band flat by stating, "Channel
3". The kid was very impressed that a scholarly tall blonde
with glasses could list off one of SoCal's most influential hardcore
bands from the early 1980s. Ha! It is all my fault! Ha! When my
sister was a wee lass of 6, she was treated to "Manzanar," "I've
Got a Gun," and "Double Standard," among many others, coming out
of my little phonograph at full blast. Well, as much as any little,
plastic, cheap record player could blast out anything. The year
was 1982, I was 14, Peer Records had CH3's "Fear of Life" poster
in the window and I was transfixed.
My mom surfed and I roller skated. Purple and black roller skates,
mind you. Thus, I went past Peer Records many times, staring at
the window displays. Transfixed. Black, white and purple. A gun
pointing in. "Fear of Life" LP. I went in and bothered the clerk
behind the counter to play the record for me, and he did. I bought
it, and that was history. In fall of 1982, I went to high school
and met some nice punks with a car. I was set. Lots of concerts
were in my present and future. An addiction to live music was born.
A passion for punk was born.
few years have come and a few years have gone. I still love black
and purple. And I still love turning CH3's
"Manzanar" up REAL loud on the car stereo. Mom still surfs, and
knows what is being released by what posters are in the window of
Peer Records*, and I run a music
ezine. Over the years, I have had the opportunity to run into
Kimm Gardener (guitar, vocals) and Mike Magrann (vocals, lyrics,
guitar) of Channel 3 and get the updates on what is going on musically
in their lives. We set up a time to get together in Seal Beach this
last November for drinks and appetizers a week or two before their
show with the Adolescents at the Galaxy on 11/23/01. Mike and Kimm
were kind enough to update me and in turn you, on CH3, life, the
upcoming cd, and various other subjects. Of which some of those
subjects started with what the band's current line up is, and how
new bassist Anthony Thompson (ex-US Crush) is now playing with Channel
Mike Magrann - " I don't know... we found him off the internet."
(Beware: Mr. Magrann has a very dry and wry sense of humor)
MM - "We put in an ad in the Recycler - "Old school punk band -
bass player wanted - influences Clash, Ramones, Channel 3."
MM - "Anthony writes back and says that he got his first CH3 record
when he was ten."
Kimm Gardener - " We had people from Denver responding. You know
it is trouble when people say they will move."
The conversation moves on to our choice of meeting up in Seal Beach
for the interview.
KG - "No one thinks Seal Beach is the place to hang out. TSOL comes
MM - "The Editor for the Sun (local SB paper) is Brian from JFA
(another old school SoCal punk band) You should read the editorials,
he actually writes about being in JFA.
KG - " Oh, oh. Will Seal Beach now be the new low profile punk place
to hang out?"
Channel 3 released three LPs on Posh Boy in the early and mid-eighties,
as well as several 7" singles, and an LP on Enigma. Since the
departure of bassist, Jan Lansford for a well-lived life in Germany,
CH3 played out once a year at Linda Jemison's Doll Hut Christmas
Benefit's in the 1990s. With the turn of the 2000s, the band has
had renewed energy to play a variety of shows and work
on new songs for a soon to be released original cd. Mike Magrann
has always been the band's lyricist and songwriter, when asked what
one writes about now, he put the whole table into heaves of laughter
with the following reply.
MM - "It is very different now when you are 40 years old. When you
were young it was really easy to spout off about stuff you were
insincere about. Now you spout off about back pain, the light on
PCH that takes 4.5 minutes to change, who uses all the fucking toilet
paper, getting your daughter up for school."
All jokes aside....
MM - " I am writing all the lyrics. We finished the first half
of the new record as a demo and sent it to Jay in Germany. Giagantor,
Jay's band, has already covered 2 of the songs. Musically we can
do more of what we want (now). We are less limited, we can make
the sounds we want. When you are older, the rage is less directed
and is more diffused."
Does punk have to be about rage?
MM - "Not at all. It has to be about passion, but rage is the easiest
to write about."
KG - "We are going to record more songs in December. We have a new
booking agency and they are hot to go. We are playing San Diego
(first weekend of December 2001, and they played San Francisco)."
MM - " The last time we played San Diego was with the Crowd after
graduation (1984, grad from CSULB) [an off the record story proceeds]
KG - "That was when Jay was in the band."
chat as to why I missed that show, as I was at the one the night
before. This leads into stories about the Van. Now the Van is a
fabled automobile. Not any van mind you. But THE VAN. I got my driver's
license in April of 1984, and was immediately taught how to pump
gas and check oil by Jan Lansford, and then spent the whole summer
as the "Designated Driver." THE VAN had stories that dated pre-1984,
fables that included many tours across the nation and back. Forget
that bus in "Another State of Mind," but Channel 3's blue and white
chevy saw many, many punk rock adventures, including seats being
floated down the Colorado River one Memorial Day for a lack of other
KG - "Sense of humor has always been a key component to this band."
The guys believe that THE VAN is having a nice retirement in Mexico.
Now, it is 2002, and many books have been written on the subject
of punk rock, on the subject of American Hardcore, on the subject
of LA punk, but somehow CH3 always seems to fall through the cracks
of these tomes, even though the band was more know at the time within
and without the movement than any other bands with the exception
of Bad Religion and Black Flag.
KG - "No one mentions us. We are right on the border. Drinking in
Seal Beach and laughing."
MM - " I think we have one good record in us that we have wanted
to make for a while. We purposefully kept a low profile. Just doing
the Doll Hut Christmas Benefit shows for years. We are in a different
position than a lot of other bands, we have careers and families,
we don't want to do the tour bus."
KG - "The fact is that we never broke up, we just kept a low profile.
We are grateful that people still want to see us, the kids."
Completing the circle. Given that many are now squawking about or
plain fatigued by the insincere pop sensibilities or the strident
political message of many "New School" punk bands, it is refreshing
to have CH3 continue to keep playing to crowds of old fans and new
kids. In recent months, I have seen the band get complaisant fifteen
year olds all riled up and circling around the pit. Mike and Kimm
have been best friends since early grade school in Cerritos, CA.
Over a period of 20 years, Channel 3 as a band has always been the
kernel of Kimm and Mike with a bassist and drummer. Now that the
band is prepping a new cd and playing out with more frequency, we
wanted to know if it was a completing of a circle for them.
KG - "To some extent we have had a lot of band members but it brings
us back to the where we started."
MM - "After all this time we have never matched the first five song
EP that was recorded in four hours."
MM - "We are going to franchise the band - four kids in the southwest,
east, and midwest. Kimm and I will sit at a desk and fax them the
about "Manzanar"? Will the new cd have such a cutting edge political
song on it? Or will the new songs be more personal?
MM - "It would be tough, as that was a political song that came
from the personal. It was something in my family. You have to be
young and naive to write that. You pull off a lot of shit when you
have fresh knowledge. In college you want everyone to know."
Alf Slvia, has been the longest lasting drummer in Channel 3's history,
he came on in 1993. Alf had remained fairly quiet through most of
the interview, but when asked why he joined up with Mike and Kimm,
AS - "From the start, I was in it for the cocaine and the chicks
and I am still waiting. I am hoping with the new record...."
MM - "The kids..."
AS - "I grew up on punk rock. I grew up with these guys. I am 36."
MM - "He was one of those kids at the backyard parties that we made
carry the gear."
Ok, now comes the hard question, really, how many drummers has
Channel 3 had?
MM - "Alf has been here longer than any of the drummers."
KG - "Alf is the 11th or 12th drummer. And there have been 7 bass
Is Anthony the 8th bass player?
They count on their fingers. No conclusion was reached, but the
nachos, potato skins, and Guinesses were done. Thank you Gentlemen!
* Mom - last night at dinner - "Oh, does Bad Religion have a new
album coming out?"
Me - "How did you know?"
Mom - "Oh, there is a poster in the window at Peer, it is orange
and yellow, I saw it last week when I was parking my car to go surfing."
p.s. Don't ask Mom her opinion about Duane Peter's teeth, she thinks
Epitaph should foot the bill for their repair....