Ne’er Do Wells


The Ne’er Do Wells are a band I hold very dear to my heart. I first started listening to them in the prime of my teenage years in 1992. At the time they were the first white boy band that I listened to that wasn’t punk rock or modern rock related. They played fifties style mod rock, no guitar distortion et la Chuck Barry. Not that there is anything wrong with distortion but there is a world of fine music out there that doesn’t use it. So the Ne’er Do wells became a gateway band for me. Before I knew it I was under my grandmothers turntable scouring over her collection of vinyl “hit singles” from the fifties. Simply put they were the first band that got me listening to rock music outside of my age group and I cannot thank them enough.

The Ne’er Do Wells were formed by some bored college kids in Arcata, California. The year was 1992 and the lineup was Chris Imlay, John Denery, Jesse Hilliard and Al Sobrante. Most of these guys were from substantial bands prior with Al Sobrante having the most notoriety having just left Green Day, a very popular punk rock band from San Francisco. All in all the band only lasted a couple years before it broke up on the departure of Al Sobrante. In that time they managed to put out a single split compact disc and a 7″ inch with various splits and appearances on many compilations. Oddly enough the Ne’er Do Wells were on a record label by the name of Lookout. Lookout was was mostly a punk rock label and they stood out like a sore thumb on the roster, honestly that’s how I was initially attracted to them, I knew they had to be special to be so different and be signed to Lookout.

What I find so unique about the Ne’er Do Wells is their sound. They didn’t reinvent the wheel but they did present some past genres of music in a very pure form, much of it was in homage to earn mod. I’m using the term mod really loosely in this aspect. Most mod acts I’m familiar with appear relatively tightly wound that’s not the case with the Ne’er Do wells. Their vocals are spazzy and unrefined, you get the feeling that the songs were recorded live even though there is no indication as such. Everything sounds off the cusp and “wild”, which was no doubt their intent. So if you get a chance, check these guys out. Their compact disc is easy enough to find since the small label they were on, Lookout, was bought by Sony and hence gained access to Sony’s massive distribution venues.

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