When it comes to pioneers of the local punk scene, only a few still manage to engage, some 30-plus years later. For my money, the city’s most evergreen purveyors have been the Injections, the Zeros, the Penetrators, and Cardiac Kidz. However, the singer/bassist from that latter band, Jim Ryan, is quick to argue whether they were ever really a punk band. “It’s like old-school punk, but with a college degree. New-age punk. It’s high-energy, melodic rock, with enough of an edge to pull it away from the alternative label.”
Formed in the late ’70s, Cardiac Kidz were mainstream enough to appear on the local morning show Sun Up San Diego, hosted by one-time Svengoolie Jerry Bishop. “1979 was the year that music as a lifestyle was kicking in for me,” recalls Ryan. “During that year, we performed at all the happening San Diego venues, appeared on television, put out two vinyls, and received a fair amount of media ink. It was before raising a family and growing up into responsibilities, and it was the beginning of the end of my youth.”
...by Cardiac Kidz
The band split after only a few years and a handful of recordings. It was only after the former Kidz noticed old records with their music — especially bootlegs — going for huge sums on eBay and elsewhere, and after Rave Up Records began reissuing their stuff in 2009, that Ryan warmed up to the notion of rekindling his adolescent aspirations.
The Madison High grad (class of ’75) has since overseen several Cardiac reunions, most often with collaborator Jerry Flack. Post-reunion releases by the band include Rarities 1979 to 1981: Get Out, on local Blindspot Records, and a concert album, Meet With Me: Live at Lestat’s West.
WHAT’S IN YOUR MUSIC PLAYER?
“The Last Internationale, Choose Your Killer. We played a lot of shows with this garage-rock blues group when they hit the West Coast on part of their North American tour. I love these kids, they have heart and talent.”
HOW ABOUT SOMETHING EMBARRASSING IN YOUR PLAYER?
“Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV series, the musical episode soundtrack. No comment, no excuses.”
BEATLES OR STONES?
“I have quite a Beatles catalog. The Beatles were a very big influence, as was David Bowie and Pink Floyd. I grew up on these bands as I was developing as an artist. Years later, the Ramones, the Clash, and Gang of Four were the bands the helped in my emergence into the punk-rock scene.”
EVER FALLEN OFF A STAGE?
“I actually fell ‘up’ onstage one time, at the Ramona Mainstage. I use a wireless set up with my bass guitar, so that I can get off the stage and interact with the crowd. When I was running back up onto the stage, while playing the bass, I slipped on the steps, flailed on the stage a bit, and got back up. I suffered a mild ankle strain, complete with a dark bruise.”
BEST FREE HANGOUT?
“I still find Lestat’s a great place to hang out and get together with friends, and they’re always good for free music with open-mic nights. Hiking and riding the Mission Trails is a good day, if it’s not raining.”
YOUR TASTIEST DISH (AND WHAT’S YOUR SECRET)?
“Baked macaroni and cheese. I add the real Mexican cheese mix to the box: now that’s cheesy! I’ll slice up some Hillshire sausage for final flavoring.”
“The Clash at Golden Hall, I believe in 1980. I jumped out of the mosh pit and climbed up onto the stage and sang ‘I Fought the Law’ with Joe Strummer. I only got to the second line when I had to jump back into the pit, the bouncers were on their way across the stage. By the time I reached outside of the mosh circle, I found that my jacket was literally ripped to shreds. It was a great show!”
LAST BOOK READ?
“It Makes you Want To Spit by Sean O’Neill. Sean does a great job of documenting the punk-rock history of Ulster, Ireland, with band photos and bios to boot. He establishes the state of culture circa late ’70s, and it’s there you can witness one of the birthing places of punk rock.”
WHAT REMAINS ON YOUR BUCKET LIST?
“Fly a jet plane, visit the seven wonders of the world, and find a cure for cancer.”
WHAT SCARES YOU?
“Loneliness is the fear of love.”
WHO SHOULD PLAY YOU IN A MOVIE?
“Norm McDonald. I get a lot of ‘you look like him’ from acquaintances.”
SOMETHING WE DON’T KNOW ABOUT YOU?
“I wrote a book in 2005, The Revelation Handbook: Surviving the Great Tribulation.”