For decades, Orange County has been a source of great music and a launching pad for bands to explode. We’ve been fortunate to see the Righteous Brothers, Social Distortion, Lit, The Offspring, Reel Big Fish and a few others become household names. Then there’s CodeName: Rocky, one of the classiest bands to call Orange County home.
CodeName formed in 1998. They initially gathered themselves from the ashes of several notable OC Ska bands of the time–Low Pressure, Channel 6 and Grovers. Like the Ramones and all aspiring artists, CNR took its first breath in a garage; this one was in Pico Rivera. It was a side project of lead vocalist (guitarist) Daniel Torres and Ivan Ibarra (sax). With the addition of Matt Fitzgerald (Bass), Rich Iwason and Bill Adams (trumpets); and a temp drummer named Scott, the team was ready to play shows.
With infectious smiles and a wicked sense of humor, all they needed was a name. Iwason had luck with a race horse at Santa Anita called “CodeName: Rocky” and boom–a legend was born. Their music was inspired, and different than most ska-punk bands. They were loud and in-your-face, with a good touch of Two-Tone with their third wave boom. It was as if the Beasties tried a ska-punk mash-up of “Sabotage” and “Cookie Puss.”
It didn’t take long for CNR to catch the ear of locals and industry types. Their sound drew crowds, then the crowds got larger and their fanbase just kept growing. Shortly before they recorded their debut album No Time to Waste, CNR rounded out their line-up with Drew Baker (drums), and Mikey Hamada (bass trombone). With their lineup locked-in, they hit the music scene hard. They even won Grand Prize on Game Show Network’s The Gong Show.
The band played clubs with cartoon-crazy fans at each show. The tours got bigger, and included some of the most influential bands in the scene. Not only are they Warped Tour Vets, but they’ve played with local icons like Voodoo Glow Skulls and shared the stage with legends: the Specials, Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Reel Big Fish, Less Than Jake, The Aquabats!, Toasters,Save Ferris, Buck-O-Nine, Fishbone, Selecter, Mustard Plug and Big D & the Kids Table. When they’re not playing one-offs, they’ve played festivals like The Ska Summit, Viva Ska Vegas and the Brew Ha Ha Ska festival here in OC.
In early 2002, CNR released their much-anticipated follow up EP Infinity. Then just two years later, they went on hiatus.
But like fashion, things that fall out of style can come back. Inspired by a reunion show with their friends nine years later, CNR picked up where they left off. They released “Mile Markers,” their first new song since 2002. They spent the next two years working on their third album, titled re:boot. Sadly, six months later the band announced that Torres would step away from the spotlight in order to focus on family obligations.
Fans took the news hard, largely because CNR has always been good and faithful to them. CNR supports the right events, and most importantly, they support up-and-coming local bands. They give newer bands a high-level platform stage to play on. That’s what stands out about CNR–they care about what happens here.
As the Music Gods would have it, the band had two shows to put on after Torres’s departure. They enlisted the help from long-time friend Justin Picon, the front-man for the OC punk band Eve Of Destruction. They also brought in Matthew Montoya, guitarist of The Owl In Daylight. The two shows were insanely good, and their fans approved of the additions. Shortly thereafter, Picon and Montoya became members of the CNR family.
Today, the band is ready to celebrate the 20th anniversary of No Time To Waste. This show will be a special treat for their fans. It’ll be at Chain Reaction, a venue that was part of the band’s early stomping grounds. CodeName: Rocky will play with openers Happy Drunk Cartel & The Re-Adjusters. Also on the bill are Half Past Two and Be Like Max.
CodeName: Rocky at Chain Reaction, 1652 W. Lincoln Ave., Anaheim, (714) 635-6067; allages.com. 7 p.m. $12. All ages.