|From left, Rik Collins, Bryan Migdol, Farrell Holtz and Mike Vallejo. (Courtesy of Bryan Migdol)
When Bryan Migdol pounded the skins for Panic -- later doused with more gasoline and lit up as Black Flag -- he may have spent a bit of time in the practice room. Um, 8-10 hours at a time, in fact, when he and his bandmates hammered out the tunes that would later spawn a million four-barred tattoos.
In the sweaty and vociferous Hermosa Beach, CA practice pad, life lessons were being carved into musicians' hands and vocal cords.
"It instilled in my morals to work hard," Migdol, 58, said this month. "If you're gonna write good songs and you're gonna have a good band -- a tight band -- you've gotta rehearse."
During those early days, he also mastered the promotional side of music, whether it was getting the band's name onto the scene or working for Don Kirshner's Rock Concert by giving away tickets to shows on The Strand in Hermosa and Redondo on sunny days. Migdol moved his way up the ladder at Kirshner and saw bands like Black Sabbath, Rush, T Rex and more record live segments for the TV show. He pestered show execs to book the Ramones, and two years later, they pinned the pinheads into a session.
That work ethic keeps Migdol rolling these days and he's got a new project on tap: American Waste. With an album "My High School Rebellion" in the works, the band features Migdol behind the kit, Mike Vallejo (Circle One) on guitar, Rik Collins (The Woolly Bandits) on bass ... and a host of Los Angeles punk singers getting some mic time and belting out classic songs by the Damned, Saints, Black Flag, the Undertones, Buzzcocks, X-Ray Spex and more.
They've been working on the project since March at RMC Studios (owned by the founder of The Monkees) in North Hollywood and Migdol wants to keep a lot of the details mum, but he does note that Farrell Holtz from Decry and Axxel G. Reese from the Gears have recorded with the trio. We'll just have to wait for the rest of the project's bits and pieces to be revealed when it all comes to fruition, OK? Rodney Bingenheimer has mentioned American Waste on his Sirius radio show when playing The Woolly Bandits, so that's a plus.
|G. Reese with the Gears in Seattle. (There's Something Hard in There photo)
Migdol hopes to have the compilation in people's stockings by Christmas.
"It's really weird, it's like a package that you open and then there's another box and another box and another box...it just kept getting sweeter and sweeter with the different people that we have," said Migdol, who added that he's still waiting for some singers to commit to the project, and there are also some well-known guitarists on board.
"I'm trying to get the old scene doing songs we grew up on, 'My High School Rebellion,' so it all kind of bleeds together," said Migdol, noting that a famous artist may be solidified to do the front cover, while the back of the album may feature old photos of the singers to tie in the high school yearbook theme.
What started as an American Waste rehearsal with the band playing their own numbers turned into a cover-song session that the engineer recorded.
"We listened to the playback on the five songs we did. Mike and Rik were like, 'This is fucking cool, dude.' And so, we went a step further, and started talking about maybe doing a compilation..."
In short, he wants to have a blast with his bandmates and give some veterans of the LA punk scene their due (there may be some famous non-LA folks in the mix as well... once again, stay tuned).
As for the band name, obviously it's a Black Flag song title, but Migdol said he simply likes the moniker. Fomer Black Flaggers Dez Cadena and Ron Reyes used the name North American Waste for some gigs in New York and New Jersey last December (when they played Black Flag songs), and Migdol said that Cadena gave him the nod to use it.
Migdol said he's had to turn singers down who wanted to participate on the project because he's got a full plate.
He's stoked to have people grasping onto the American Waste concept. When he tells friends what tunes are involved and plays some snippets for them, "That puts a big smile on my face, because that means people think the same way I'm thinking."
|Migdol recording the "Nervous Breakdown" EP. (Courtesy of Bryan Migdol)
As for the Black Flag song on the comp, Migdol notes that it's one that he played on during his tenure with the band. It's one of the four on the "Nervous Breakdown" EP, so you've got a 25 percent chance of nailing it down.
Initially, he refrained from including the song on the LP, because he didn't want to taint his performance on the EP. He likened the scenario to a solid movie that produced a sequel that blows. But after hearing the band and vocalist's killer performance on the playback, he got amped and decided to feature it on the album.
"I smash the shit out of it, so you'll like it," he said of the drumming.
After many years of distancing himself from Black Flag -- which didn't use that moniker until he left the band, Migdol said -- the drummer embraced his past over time. He played in some metal and country bands after Panic, but his drum sticks haven't touched those other forms of music for ages.
"I never thought that 40 years later, it was still gonna be around and turned into what it turned into," he said. "That's crazy when you think about it."
He adds about his days with Keith Morris and Greg Ginn (Chuck Dukowski wasn't yet on board when Migdol was in the band, he said, and added his bass tracks to the recordings later): "I just remember being young and having a good time. It was a lot of work and we went in the studio and we recorded it and pretty much I left the band and then history took over after that."
Migdol felt cheated out of his work by not being credited with drumming on the EP for years, but that was corrected on later pressings of the EP and on internet band information pages.
These days, it's all about American Waste for Migdol, who is glad to still be unleashing his rapid rock drumming -- with nods to his early influences like John Bonham and Ian Paice -- alongside Vallejo, Collins and whatever singer steps into the studio to help bring "My High School Rebellion" to life.