The Black Diamond Riders: Soulful Punks

So the band’s lineup goes like this: front man Steve Soto from the Adolescents, guitarist Jonny “2 Bags” Wickersham from Social Distortion, bassist Warren Renfro from Cadillac Tramps and Manic Hispanic, drummer Jamie Reidling from U.S. Bombs and Die Hunns, saxophonist Vince Hizon, trumpet player Joseph Badaczewski and keyboardist Greg Kuehn from TSOL. And starting with their inaugural gig in March, they’ve been playing . . . soul and R&B covers? Including classics by Eddie Floyd, Rufus Thomas and Solomon Burke? These guys have some ’splaining to do. . . .

OC Weekly: The Black Diamond Riders are a major departure from your other work. What inspired the ‘60s-soul-music direction?

Jamie Reidling: My dad turned me onto this three-piece jazz trio at my house after school. He read his books, smoked weed and played the piano. He opened me up to Ray Charles, and I just kept listening to it.

Warren Renfro: This is what I listened to growing up in a Mexican neighborhood in Fullerton, a.k.a Toker’s Town—it’s what everyone listened to. As stupid as this may sound, when I’m playing this music, it reminds me of summer afternoons. Everyone was kicking back on the front lawns—like good Mexicans do—drinking beers and listening to these songs.

You have all known each other a long time. What made you come together for this particular project?

Reidling: My dad said to me, “If you can do something playing music, enjoy it and make money . . . why the fuck would you not do it?” Then, I saw a quote on Steve’s Facebook wall saying, “I don’t want no preacher preaching to me about heaven and hell.” I felt the same way.

You’ve played two shows so far, and you are covering great music. Are you interested in writing your own material?

Reidling: We’re a cover band, so we are trying to keep it as traditional as possible. There are billions of songs out there that we can play. We haven’t really discussed writing our own songs yet. I don’t know if we really would—would we?

Steve Soto: It’s never even crossed my mind.

Renfro: Just doing the covers now, we’re just scratching the surface of what’s there. Doing something original? Who knows. It’s not about what you’re playing; it’s how you’re playing it.

Soto: It’s a lot like those swing bands such as the Royal Crown Revue or Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. Most of the stuff they did were standards. They peppered their sound with songs they wrote, but it was mostly what other people wrote. But down the line, that might be something we want to get into.

Reidling: Right now, we want to put on a fun, live show. Someone can hear these songs, shake their ass and have a good time.

Are you guys going to tour at all?

Soto: It’s not like we have any career plan for it. This is more about friends getting together and playing music.

Renfro: Pretty much for the past decade, we’ve all been trying to make a living playing music. This band is the one thing I like to do. I want to make it big, make it great.

Soto: And when you mean big, you mean big-sounding? Not like, ‘Let’s make it big. . . . Let’s be the Beatles.’

Renfro: [Laughs] Let’s make it bitchen. I don’t want anyone burning albums thinking we think we are bigger than Jesus!

Reidling: I want people to hear us and say, “Fuck, that was awesome!” I’m forty-fucking- two. Hell, I’ll play with Britney Spears if I get paid to do it.

How do you feel your first show at the Tiki Bar went?

Reidling: We were doing a song, and I looked at all my friends onstage with me, and I got goose bumps.

Soto: We could have totally choked, but it was awesome.



The Black Diamond Riders perform at Tiki Bar, 1700 Placentia Ave., Costa Mesa, (949) 270-6262; Thurs., April 29, 8 p.m. $5. 21+.


Hey, Orange County/Long Beach musicians and bands! Mail your music, contact info, high-res photos and impending show dates for possible review to: Locals Only, OC Weekly, 2975 Red Hill Ave., Ste 150, Costa Mesa, CA 92626. Or e-mail your link to:

This column appeared in print as “Punk’s Got Soul.”



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