Ever since the Adicts formed in England in 1975, they’ve been an enigma within the punk-rock world.
Frontman Keith “Monkey” Warren wears face paint during live performances similar to that of The Joker in Batman. Shows include streamers, confetti, toy instruments, bubbles and other various surprises.
In other words, the group is truly unique. See for yourself when the Adicts perform at the Hood Bar and Pizza on Monday, June 20.
“I don’t know if we’re that original,” said guitarist Pete “Pete Dee” Davison during a recent interview. “We took a lot of things from everything. We took things from cabaret; we took things rock ’n’ roll bands that influenced us; we took it from cartoons; we took it from Batman—you name it.
“When we started, we didn’t know what we were fucking doing. We were just a bunch of kids, ruffians sitting around drinking beer, throwing ideas out. (We) were kind of at the end of the glam-rock thing. We had been through it and enjoyed that era. It just happened. We sat in a pub one night, and I drew the face and showed it to everybody. Monkey said, ‘No, I’m not doing that!’ I think it was about five days later when he called me up and said, ‘OK, I’ll do it!’”
Davison said Monkey is quite different onstage and off.
“It’s amazing what it did to transform (Monkey) as an entertainer. He’s a very introverted person,” Davison said. “He’s a very quiet guy. Put a mask on him, and he became a bit of a monster. I’ve heard the same thing about David Bowie: He created a monster with Ziggy Stardust. We sort of became Ziggy’s bastard sons, and we’re stuck with it.
“We tried to take the makeup off, given Monkey got tired of wearing it, but it didn’t work.”
The Adicts did not have an easy time when the group started out.
“We got everything thrown at us in the old days. Even the old music press didn’t know what to think of us. The punk-rockers didn’t take kindly to us,” Davison said. “You either got it, or you don’t, and I think the same thing applies now. I don’t really care about who likes us and doesn’t like us; it’s what we do, and what we do is what we do. We attract a really diverse audience.”
Anericans didn’t fully catch on to the Adicts for years; the band’s albums didn’t even get formally released domestically until the early 1990s.
“We don’t have money behind us, and you can’t really get our records anywhere, really,” Davison said. “So many different record labels, so many shit deals. It’s very hard to find our records anyway. America is so vast and big. You can advertise it all you want, and you’ll get lost. Twenty four hours later, and they’ve forgotten all about you. We’ve toured America more than most bands have. … It’s a very, very hard place to tour and there’s a lot of traveling involved, as well as a lot of different cultures and I really love that.”
The Adicts have found fans through the skateboarding culture in America. In fact, when pro-skater Kevin Staab appeared at the El Gato Classic in Palm Springs in 2015, he skated the vert ramp in a purple Adicts shirt.
“None of us can skateboard, which is amazing. None of us can surf, which is amazing. Yet for some reason, we’ve got along with all of these people,” Davison said. “I don’t understand it, but maybe it’s good music to skateboard to; I don’t really know.
“We just did a private show for Kevin Staab for his birthday. Everybody was there from Tony Hawk to Steve Caballero. You name it—they were all there, having a good time, and singing all the words.”
The Adicts have gone through several periods of inactivity over the years. Davison said there are good reasons for that.
“I’ve had health problems and operations; I’ve been out of action for some time and spent over a year in bed,” he said. “We have private lives, and we like taking rests after touring too much. You have to take a break from it. We’ve been doing this for a very long time.”
Davison revealed that he’s not a fan of the Adicts’ most recent album, 2012’s All the Young Droogs. However, he promised the next album will be nothing short of spectacular.
“We’re actually working on it right now. We’re about 80 percent of the way through it. We’re just trying to get people together to get it finished,” he said. “It’s a good album, let me tell you. Personally, I think it’s going to be our best one. A couple of the tracks right now are shit, but that’s normal, and we’ll make them damn good. We jammed as we did it, which was nice, and we recorded everything within three takes. We have a real album instead of rehearsing it and rehearsing it and having a producer suck the life out of it.
“The last album we did, I can’t listen to it, unfortunately. But this one will be very lively, very loud and very eclectic. If someone wants to criticize the album because they only like one song, tough shit. I like how it’s coming along, and I’m really enjoying what I’ve heard up to now.”
Davison now living in the United States.
“I live here, so I enjoy it full-stop,” he said. “I love living in California. I like the diversity of it all—meeting people with different mindsets or meeting people who are very uneducated in some places. It’s weird when you get to the Midwest, and there are a lot of people who know nothing about the rest of the world. Then there’s the food, the mixed cultures, the different political views, and the Christian belt—it’s all fascinating, really. Then you have the East Coast and you have the West Coast, which are very similar in their mindsets.”
Davison, like many, is not thrilled with the presidential race thus far.
“I think it’s a bit of an embarrassment to see what’s been going on over the past few months,” he said. “This reality-TV guy is taking all the headlines, and he’s a fruitcake, as far as I’m concerned—a sandwich short of a picnic. It’s what it is. He’s stirred up a lot of bad shit, and I don’t like it at all.”
The Adicts will be kicking off a U.S. tour at The Hood Bar and Pizza before moving on to two other dates in California, plus some shows in Canada and on the East Coast.
“We just finished a few gigs in Mexico, and we’re rocking,” he said. “We’re really playing great. It’s hard work, and we’ve been all over the world, and we’re exhausted by the time we play the next gig. It’s going to be the same for this tour: The boys will fly in from England the day before; they’ll be jet-lagged; we might make a lot of mistakes onstage, but who cares? We’ll have a good time, and it’ll be a nice little starter as a small show. We like to do that: We like to do a smaller gig just as a warm up, and you’ll never know what you’ll get.”
The Adicts will perform with Bridger, Facelift and the Sweat Act at 9 p.m., Monday, June 20, at The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, in Palm Desert. Tickets are $20. For more information on the show or to purchase tickets, visit the event’s Facebook page.