Punk dreams come true

Punk Rock Karaoke's Greg Hetson talks about his human jukebox

Punk Rock Karaoke’s Greg Hetson (second from left) says he likes the gig because “we get to be in the Sex Pistols...and Ramones.”
  • Punk Rock Karaoke’s Greg Hetson (second from left) says he likes the gig because “we get to be in the Sex Pistols...and Ramones.”

Greg Hetson cut his punk-rock teeth playing in Redd Kross and the Circle Jerks before embarking on a nearly 30-year run with Bad Religion. Hetson recalls shows at the local Jackie Robinson YMCA as being “just crazy.”

“The stage was falling apart and you’re trying to keep playing and all hell’s breaking loose, and somehow it all ends up okay in the end,” Hetson says.

Black Flag's "Nervous Breakdown"

...performed by Punk Rock Karaoke in Hermosa Beach (2016)

...performed by Punk Rock Karaoke in Hermosa Beach (2016)

These days Hetson plays guitar in Punk Rock Karaoke, where he gets to be in several different punk bands.

“That’s the fun thing about Punk Rock Karaoke, even if you’re in a band like we are, we get to be in the Sex Pistols for three minutes and then the Ramones for another two. It’s a win-win for the people who play it and for the crowd...everybody’s dreams are coming true!” Hetson explains with a laugh.

Punk Rock Karaoke started in 1996 when a restaurateur friend of Hetson’s was looking to stage a party for the first anniversary of his establishment, Vida. He called Hetson and said that he wanted to do a punk-themed karaoke. Hetson thought it was a great idea since there were no punk karaoke machines available at the time.

According to Hetson, the owner corrected him and said, “No, I’m talking about a live band. You think you can put together a live band and we could have people come up and sing?”

Presto, Punk Rock Karaoke was born. The line-up has been a revolving door of musicians since its inception, due to the fact that most of the players are drafted from long-standing (and often still-touring) bands. In the past, Mike Watt (Minutemen), Eric Melvin (NOFX), and Derek O’Brien (Social Distortion) have all played with the outfit. The line-up for the group’s September 3 appearance at the Casbah will be Hetson, two Dickies on bass and guitar (Eddie Tatar and Stan Lee, respectively), and Darren Pfeiffer (Goldfinger) on drums.

Past Event

Punk Rock Karaoke

  • Saturday, September 3, 2016, 8 p.m.
  • Casbah, 2501 Kettner Boulevard, San Diego
  • 21+

A cursory look at the band’s song list from their Facebook page reveals 64 selections by the likes of the Sex Pistols, Ramones, Green Day, Rancid, Dead Kennedys, and Wire.

“We try to get a nice overview of the different eras of punk and hopefully there is something for everybody,” says Hetson.

Punk Rock Karaoke song sign-up is first come, first serve, so get there when the doors open if you want the best odds at snagging your fave Good Charlotte song.

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