Good Riddance formed sometime in the 1990’s, depending on who you ask. Four scrappy punk kids in Santa Cruz who could hardly contain their love for Bad Religion, as can clearly be heard on their debut, 1995’s For God And Country. But things moved forward fast for GR and they became one of the most important bands among the punk/melodic hardcore scene for the next decade. They boast massive album sales that number in the six figures, and they managed to accomplish that while staying true to the underground and remaining on an independent record label. They toured harder than any band in the scene, but by 2007 they had disbanded. They burned bright and they burned out.
But they’re back. Back with their core lineup and their first album in eight years, Peace In Our Time.
“We didn’t want to be a band who overstayed our welcome,” said frontman Russ Rankin about their decision to dissolve all those years ago. He adds, “Everyone was becoming increasingly busy with other, non-music careers, families, etc.” The curse of the punk rocker, right? Well, not so fast. One thing that you need to know about Good Riddance is that these guys are lifers. Rankin put it simply, “We missed playing the songs.” They had no choice but to return to the music because it was part of their DNA.
And their resume is worth noting. The band has been very humble about their activism, almost to the point of being bashful about their contributions towards the community. Russ won’t even discuss his vegan lifestyle or his compassion towards animals, but he’s been committed to that for decades now. There’s also the fact that the band has been donating proceeds from their album sales to various charities: Food Not Bombs, Santa Cruz AIDS Project, the Cabrillo College Music Department, Santa Cruz Homeless Shelter, and more. By now you’ve probably guessed that Good Riddance has a leftist message to go along with their urgent music. True, but they also back up their words with actions and money to the causes they believe in.
Let’s talk about them in today’s terms and in regards to this new full length. Good Riddance is, as we say in the biz, “a critic’s band”. As in, they have the respect of their peers and those in the know. They’re students of the genre who draw from real punk rock influences and their songs come from a very sincere place. It all culminates for the band with Peace In Our Time: on the album opener, “Disputatio”, you can hear dark and thrashy hardcore reminiscent of their contemporaries Paint It Black; then maybe some aggressive melodic punk à la Bad Religion on “No Greater Fight”; Black Flag’s hefty, discordant HC on “Dry Season”; and definitely some of The Descendents on “Washed Away”. But make no mistake, Good Riddance has cultivated their own sound from this diverse set of influences and that’s probably why their old-school fans have stuck with them. If die-hards need a reference point for Peace In Our Time, think about their high water mark efforts like Comprehensive Guide… or the hardcore staple, Operation Phoenix.
This new album is essentially the very best of GR distilled down to one LP, and it will no doubt get the attention from a lot of old fans, HC devotees, and punk enthusiasts alike. They’re already booked to play Europe’s Groezrock, one of the biggest punk festivals in the world. There will also be an obvious hometown record release show in Santa Cruz, where they have been selling out countless shows over the years. Good Riddance will be ramping up some activity, and with hardcore music seeming neutered and confused in 2015, Peace In Our Time will mark a triumphant return for a band that the underground scene needs more than ever.