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Know new punk

Brandon Cruz and Dr. Know return to Hell’s Kitchen to courtship you.

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As I’ve proven time and time again here at the Weekly Volcano, I’m not above a cheap but entertaining angle. I have no qualms about reporting on something of debatable merit if I think it’ll make for humorous copy. It’s one of my patented moves, and probably one of the things some people truly despise about me.

This week, as Dr. Know prepares to play two shows at Hell’s Kitchen on Saturday night, I didn’t need to look far for an angle of debatable merit. Brandon Cruz, Dr. Know’s frontman, was the childhood actor who played Bill Bixby’s freckle faced son, Eddie Corbett, on the ’70s television series The Courtship of Eddie’s Father. Cruz also appeared in the 1976 movie Bad News Bears starring Walter Matthau.

Brandon Cruz and his childhood acting credentials provide more far fetched, irrelevant angles than a journalist not afraid of taking shortcuts should ever have at one time. The possibilities for ridiculousness are literally endless for this column.

But, in a show of unusual restraint, I’m not going to go there this week — in fairness to Cruz and his band. Dr. Know’s place in the annals of punk rock are secure, having emerged from the legendary Oxnard, Calif., “nardcore” scene in the early ’80s and gone on to influence a whole generation of punk. The nardcore scene and the bands that made it famous, like Stalag 13, Ill Repute, Agression, False Confession and RKL, continue to reverberate today — as evident in Tacoma’s excitement about this Friday’s shows.

For this reason, I’ve decided to abandon the easy road this week and focus on Dr. Know as a band instead of Brandon Cruz the former childhood actor. If nothing else, it should make for a much more relevant column about a band doing their damndest to remain relevant themselves, nearly 30 years after they began. (Before patting me on the back, you should know I already wrote a Brandon Cruz former childhood star piece in 2003 for the Tacoma Reporter. Doing it again would have been complacent at best.)

“We knew we were on to something,” says Cruz about his band Dr. Know and the early days of the nardcore scene.

“It was a reaction to everything being generically labeled hardcore. We knew we were separating ourselves. We learned to be different because we didn’t want to be lumped in. As a scene we were quite unique, but a lot of the first Nardcore bands weren’t groundbreaking musically.

“I’m 45 now, and I can look back on it. Nobody from the early nardcore scene really did anything that amazing, but the fact that all of us came out of such a small scene is unique and incredible. Nardcore was family and friends, not a sound.”

Like most old school punk bands still tearing up the freeways in stale smelling tour vans, Dr. Know has gone through a number of incarnations since their birth in the early Reagan years. By Cruz’s count, this is Dr. Know’s third stint as a band — and it’s a good one. Dr. Know officially got back together 10 years ago and have been going strong since. The lineup set to hit the Kitchen this week includes original members Cruz and Ismael Hernandez.

But don’t expect this to be a greatest hits tour. Far from it. With the release of Killing For God, the band’s latest full length, scheduled for release this year on Unrest Records, 2008’s Dr. Know is hitting the road like a band trying to distance themselves from the past and create a legacy larger than what they did when they were 20.

“We’re probably even angrier than we were back then. We see no reason to stop,” offers Cruz.

“Stop? Because we’re a certain age? That’s never had anything to do with punk rock. This version of Dr. Know is very serious about doing something not connected with the past. We have more to us than that.”

And, of course, it’s about the music.

“Door deals, contracts, agreements — f*** all that s***,” says Cruz.

“I’m not a businessman, I’m a punk rocker.”

Dr. Know will hit Hell’s Kitchen this Saturday for two shows. Joined by Poser Disposer for both shows, and the equally important Accused for the 21+ gig, true fans of punk will have no trouble figuring out where to be this Saturday.

[Hell’s Kitchen, Dr. Know, Poser Disposer, CLR, The Extinct,Saturday, Feb. 16, 5 p.m., all ages, $10; Dr. Know, Accused, Poser Disposer, I Defy, 9 p.m., 21+, $8, 3829 Sixth Ave., Tacoma, 253/759.6003]

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