Redd Kross Shares 'Born Innocent' Single From Upcoming Double Album

“Born Innocent” appears in the closing credits of the documentary of the same name that centers on the band.

By: May. 22, 2024
Redd Kross Shares 'Born Innocent' Single From Upcoming Double Album
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Redd Kross has shared the rousing new single “Born Innocent,” the second song made available from the highly anticipated 18-track eponymous double-album, due for release June 28, 2024 courtesy of In the Red Records.

Not to be confused with the debut studio album of the same name from 1982, the new track “Born Innocent” closes out Redd Kross, and is something of a theme song for the band, detailing Redd Kross’s 1979 inception, when Jeff McDonald (then 15) and his brother Steven (then only 11), two school-kids all hopped-up on punk-rock, started their own group in their hometown of Hawthorne, Los Angeles (birthplace of the Beach Boys) and soon found themselves opening shows for notorious scene pioneers Black Flag. 2024 marks Redd Kross’s 45th birthday – an important anniversary for any group whose heart pulses at 45RPM – and the brothers are celebrating the event with a veritable multimedia extravaganza.

“Born Innocent” appears in the closing credits of the brilliant documentary Born Innocent: The Redd Kross Story, directed by Andrew Reich, who has also directed the video that accompanies the single’s release, which features footage from the must-see documentary. There’s also a memoir, Now You’re One Of Us, due in October, author Dan Epstein telling the group’s story in the McDonalds’ unmistakable (and occasionally contrary) voices. 

 

Born Innocent: The Redd Kross Story, which has been making the festival rounds, will have its L.A. premiere this week, kicking-off this year’s Don’t Knock the Rock film festival (programmed by filmmaker Allison Anders and her daughter, music supervisor Tiffany Anders) Check HERE for more information on upcoming screenings.

“Born Innocent” follows the April announcement of Redd Kross which was accompanied by the rip-roaring lead single “Candy Coloured Catastrophe” complemented by a splatter-painted video directed by Gilbert Trejo, starring the McDonald brothers, along with Dale Crover (Steven’s bandmate in Melvins) and Astrid McDonald (who fronts Side Eyes and happens to be Jeff’s daughter). “Candy Coloured Catastrophe” opens Redd Kross with the perfect vibe: an itchy, unforgettable acid-pop nugget, taking impish swings at what Steven describes as “the fine arts career of a well-known pop star who we love-love-love, and also love to make fun of.” “Our message is, ‘What is art?’,” adds Jeff. “Who gets to decide? And maybe these rock-stars who suddenly decide they’re fine artists and Hollywood actors who decide they’re punk-rock singers should, you know, stay in their lane.” “Candy Coloured Catastrophe” caught the attention of Brooklyn Vegan, Consequence, Exclaim!, Punknews, Stereogum and many others upon its release.

Redd Kross is also set to play their first shows since before the pandemic, starting with an appearance at Punk Rock Bowling in Las Vegas this coming weekend, followed by a set at Azkena Rock Festival in Spain, before a summer tour that starts in early July just after the album’s release, with support from Dale Crover who is wearing many hats, playing drums with Redd Kross for these dates, and opening with solo acoustic + DJ sets. (SEE ALL DATES BELOW).

These years of joyful service to rock’n’roll have seen Redd Kross evolve into a killer pop-rock concern, dealing in dayglo power-chords, choruses as tall as skyscrapers and a lyric sheet thick with acid couplets and arch pop- cultural references their loyal following will gobble up like quaaludes.

Tell the McDonald brothers they’ve cut their best record 45 years deep into their career, and they grin with the confidence of dudes who know they’re on a hot streak. “We grew up with industry gatekeepers telling us you’re only allowed to do what we do up to a certain age, that if you haven’t attained some certain status of success it’s time to hang up the dream,” says Steven. “But I’m still hungry and ambitious, trying to figure out what I want to say and how to say it. I give the correct amount of fs. I’m ready to start our third act, and for it to be magnificent.”

The roots of the new album lay in their previous full-length, 2019’s Beyond The Door – or, more accurately, the pandemic’s ethering of a planned Redd Kross world tour in support of that record. “We were bummed Beyond The Door had to die with the advent of Covid,” nods Jeff. But, as you might expect from such pop-culture mavens, for the brothers McDonald there was one silver-lining to the gloom of the pandemic era: Peter Jackson’s documentary, The Beatles: Get Back. Like all of us, the duo pored over every frame of the limited series: every bum note and moment of brilliance, every tetchy squabble and pregnant silence. “I got very inspired by this bird’s eye-view upon their process,” says Steven. “Get Back demystified it: ‘Oh, when they’re writing a song, they sound a bit crappy too, just slugging away.’”

Suitably inspired, Steven wrote a batch of new songs in isolation and sent them over to Jeff, who was honing a clutch of his own tunes. “It was a fit of inspiration,” says Steven. “I put the fire under Jeff’s ass. He realized if he didn’t step up, I’d write the whole album myself.” Indeed, as soon as they were allowed, the brothers began convening in the bijou studio at Steven’s house and began writing a bunch more songs to join the solo tunes they’d already penned. They worked hard, yes, but the emphasis was on fun: they’d spend most of the sessions jamming on favorites by their heroes, or watching YouTube clips of historic moments of musical brilliance (and also copious documentaries about cults), then suddenly dash out another sublime power-pop nugget in the last 20 minutes before Jeff set off for dinner with his family. Don’t knock the process: the results speak for themselves.

Tunes written, the brothers were itching to record, but Dale Crover, the legendary Melvins sticksman who drummed on Beyond The Door, had recently undergone spinal surgery and couldn’t step up. Instead, Steven reached out to his friend Josh Klinghoffer, perhaps best-known for his years as guitarist with Red Hot Chili Peppers and as a touring member of Pearl Jam and Jane’s Addiction, but hereafter to be most-famed as the drummer and producer of Redd Kross. The pair first met two decades ago, as members of Beck’s backing band, and later played together with the inimitable Sparks. “Josh is 13 years younger than me, and he’s like the younger brother I never had,” says Steven. “He’s a super-talented musician who’s really good at being supportive, and he’s really in-tune with a band’s internal dynamics. And he had us on our best behavior, not wanting to disappoint Josh! His studio is like the most incredible vintage guitar shop – he would take great delight in pulling out some rare instrument or effects box to inspire us.”

In Klinghoffer’s company, the brothers tore through their new batch of songs. And what songs... “I’m usually the one who says our albums have to be ‘ten songs, no more’,” nods Jeff. “But we had all these great songs, and we wanted to let them all breathe. So the album had to be 18 songs.” But if the prospect of these unabashed Beatles-heads delivering an eponymous double-album with a sleeve of a single colour has you expecting a meandering, eclectic set like the Fabs’ ‘White Album’, Redd Kross is all-killer, no-filler, more akin to their Exile On Main Street, their Double Nickels On The Dime, their Zen Arcade: 58 minutes of solid-gold power-pop, driven by melody and dynamic, with a lyric- sheet that’ll reward all your perusing.

Redd Kross opens with lead single “Candy Coloured Catastrophe” and from there tears into the heaviest rock banger of the set, “Stunt Queen,” which Jeff says is “the closest we come to a ‘political song’. It’s about these total fame-whores in politics who’ll do anything to be on TV – people like Lindsay Graham, who doesn’t care how humiliated he gets, as long as he’s on TV. It’s like some weird kink.” Then there’s the “unbearable man” in “Terrible Band,” inspired by Jeff and Josh’s obsession with documentaries about cults, and the number of musicians they know who behave like cult-leaders. There’s “The Witches’ Stand,” a downbeat psychedelic power-ballad stringing together a narrative involving Brian Jones, and Jean Harlow, and De De Troit of early LA punks UXA, “who disappeared off the face of the earth, though I see her at the grocery sometimes,” grins Jeff. “Fame – and surviving it – is the joining thread of that song.”

The album boasts some absolutely killer couplets, like “Canción Enojada”’s snarling “I revoke your pass / You’re such an ass,” or “She dumped the leader of Kiss / Because he was not fine”, from “Emmanuel Insane,” inspired in equal parts by the Rolling Thunder Tour documentary on Netflix, David Bowie’s glam-era and the later Emanuelle sequels. Prime Redd Kross, in other words. But there are deeper themes here, too – the cosmic “The Main Attraction” derives its power from the brothers’ dual vocals and Beatles-y harmonies, and its tracing the motivation for the ever-expanding universe’s kinks and twists to love. And sometimes they just boil everything down to a perfect pop song, as in “I’ll Take Your Word For It,” a perfect blast of ‘60s-shaded harmony and guitar tangle. But perhaps the finest song on Redd Kross is the song that closes Redd Kross – that is, in no small part, the ballad of Redd Kross, or at least their early days. “Born Innocent” retells the early days of the group, the first thrill of punk-rock, their nascent explorations of that wide-world they’d later become synonymous with. “It’s like the Cliff Notes version of our formation,” laughs Jeff. “It was the first song we wrote for the album, and actually we wrote it for the documentary, Born Innocent.”

“We’d been doing the interviews for the movie, and for our memoir,” adds Steven. “We were in a reflective mood, perhaps.” But Redd Kross is not the sound of legends resting on their laurels – rather, it’s Redd Kross spreading their wings and grasping their true potential, after 45 years in the game. The best record in the Redd Kross discography – or should we say, their best record, until the next one. “We’re on a schedule,” nods Steven. “It’s our 45th anniversary, but we’re still defining who we are. We put our noses to the grindstone for this album, and we did it! And it feels like the beginning of something. It’s so exciting to us that there’s still more to discover. We’re publishing the memoir, the movie’s coming out, we’re releasing this new album – and getting the machine started up again makes me nervous, and that’s thrilling. Our third act is going to be badass.”

Redd Kross - 2024 Tour Dates

w/ support from Dale Crover (Solo Acoustic + DJ set) * aside from festival appearances

Fri May 24 Las Vegas, NV Punk Rock Bowling Festival*

Fri June 21 Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain Azkena Rock Festival*

Tue July 02 San Diego, CA Casbah

Wed July 03 Pioneertown, CA Pappy + Harriet's

Fri July 05 Long Beach, CA Alex's Bar

Sat July 06 Oakland, CA Mosswood Meltdown Festival*

Mon July 08 Seattle, WA Tractor Tavern

Tue July 09 Vancouver, BC Biltmore Cabaret

Wed July 10 Portland, OR Aladdin Theater

Fri July 12 Salt Lake City, UT Metro Music Hall

Sat July 13 Denver, CO Marquis Theatre

Mon July 15 Saint Paul, MN Turf Club

Tue July 16 Chicago, IL Lincoln Hall

Wed July 17 Cleveland, OH Beachland Ballroom & Tavern

Fri July 19 Columbus, OH Ace of Cups

Sat July 20 Pittsburgh, PA Spirit Hall

Mon July 22 Washington, DC The Atlantis

Wed July 24 Carrboro, NC Merge 35th Anniversary Festival @ Cat’s Cradle*

Thu July 25 Jersey City, NJ White Eagle Hall

Fri July 26 Brooklyn, NY Music Hall of Williamsburg

Sat July 27 Allston, MA Brighton Music Hall

Mon July 29 Toronto, ON Lee's Palace

Tue July 30 Detroit, MI El Club

Wed July 31 Louisville, KY Zanzabar

Fri Aug 02 Nashville, TN The Blue Room - Third Man Records

Sat Aug 03 Birmingham, AL Saturn

Sun Aug 04 Atlanta, GA The Earl Restaurant & Lounge

Tue Aug 06 Houston, TX White Oak Music Hall - Upstairs

Wed Aug 07 Austin, TX Parish

Thu Aug 08 Dallas, TX House of Blues - Cambridge Room

Sat Aug 10 Albuquerque, NM Launchpad

Sun Aug 11 Phoenix, AZ Valley Bar

Tue Aug 13 Los Angeles, CA Lodge Room Highland Park

 

Tracklisting

01.Candy Coloured Catastrophe

02.Stunt Queen

03.The Main Attraction

04.Canción Enojada

05.Good Times Propaganda Band

06.What’s In It For You?

07.I’ll Take Your Word For It

08.Terrible Band

09.Stuff

10.Back Of The Cave

11.Too Good To Be True

12.Way Too Happy

13.Simple Magic

14.The Witches’ Stand

15.Lay Down And Die

16.The Shaman’s Disappearing Robe

17.Emanuelle Insane

18. Born Innocent

Photo credit: Wanda Martin



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