Dave Smalley is about to roll through San Diego with the same line-up of Down by Law that played on 1994’s Punkrockacademyfightsong. The band has gone through its fair share of membership fluctuations over the past 23 years, but the stars aligned to bring back this line-up for a West Coast tour. Smalley and longtime Down by Law guitarist Sam Williams felt that bringing back a vintage crew would make for a special run.
...by Down by Law
“We started talking with different variations,” Smalley explains. “For a while we were gonna have the All Scratched Up  line-up and then the drumming situation changed to include Hunter Oswalt — our drummer on Punkrockacademyfightsong. It was a series of fortunate events. So what we’ve got is what some people would say is thee line-up.”
Besides playing in Down by Law, Smalley also spent time lending his vocal prowess to the likes of Boston legends DYS, Washington DC’s Dag Nasty, and Descendents off-shoot ALL. By the time he started Down by Law, he was an elder statesman in the punk-rock scene.
“I’m not gonna lie about it — it was a great era, and I’m glad to have been a part of that,” says Smalley. “One of the things that is really different now from back then is that each city and each label was really distinct. Obviously, I cut my musical teeth in Boston with DYS and the Boston crew and the Boston scene — there’s never been anything like it. Going down the line to California in the early ’90s, you’re talking about Down by Law, the Offspring, Bad Religion, and Pennywise. These bands were just part of that early Epitaph sound and wave. It wasn’t like anybody was trying to be like anybody else, but the karma and the energy...there’s something that does blend them all together. It’s not the sound because if you listen to Down by Law and then you listen to Pennywise, they’re brothers, but they’re not, like, identical twins.”
- Sunday, February 5, 2017, 8 p.m.
3615 El Cajon Boulevard,
Like many 1990s Epitaph bands, it wasn’t uncommon to find Down by Law songs on skate videos. Smalley always felt a strong connection with the activity and waxed nostalgic about a vintage San Diego concert.
“It was Sublime, us, and Tony Hawk was skating while we played, which was so cool. And that was before he was ‘capital-T’ ‘capital-H’ Tony Hawk.”
These days, though, Smalley is a baseball fanatic who “bleeds Red Sox red and blue.” As for football, the time that he spent in Boston seems to have steered that ship as well.
“I have to be honest about it. It’s almost fashionable to hate the Patriots, which makes me — as a punk-rock guy — like them even more because nobody else does,” Smalley says.
As if 2017 wasn’t already weird enough, the Patriots winning Super Bowl 51 could be the most punk-rock thing ever.