Mr. Soul: Social Distortion’s Mike Ness Talks Neil Young
In a recent interview with RollingStone.com, Social Distortion frontman Mike Ness recalled the group’s early ’90s tours with rock legend Neil Young. Social D first opened for Young in 1991, after the release of their classic self-titled album. The group hit the road again with the guitar great in 1993 in support of their Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell CD.
“It was a great experience,” Ness said. “It was also a dues paying experience, because back then, even if we did have 500 fans there, which would have been large for that period of time, they were scattered because of this prearranged seating thing that our fans were not used to. Second of all, we were going on at eight, where most people were just finishing their dinner and figuring which off-ramp to get off at.”
Still, Ness says that he learned a lot on those tours:
“I know we got some converts from that, but the main thing that I got out of that was that was the main period of time where I was going back and forth searching for my guitar tone, amps and all that. I really learned a lot from those guys — from Neil's guitar tech – as far as Fender amps, Gibson P-90 pickups and Les Paul Deluxes. And the other thing was, it was right when I was becoming very ‘groove aware,’ realizing that if a song doesn't have a groove, you're just bashing through chords. I would watch Crazy Horse basically turn their back on 10-to-15,000 people, face the drummer, get this groove and then come back out.”
Social Distortion will head out on tour later this month in support of their new album, Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes. The tour kicks off in Albuquerque, New Mexico on April 26 at the Sunshine Theater. The U.S. portion of the tour ends on May 20 at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville before the group heads to Europe for a June/July jaunt.