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T.S.O.L.

In the early years of Los Angeles punk, one of the premiere hardcore bands was T.S.O.L., which stood for True Sounds of Liberty. Offering poppier music than many of their contemporaries and featuring an image that appealed to punks who wanted to dive deeper into the gothic subgenre already being offered by many British punk bands, T.S.O.L. became hugely popular on the local scene but never translated that success to national exposure because of their ever-shifting lineup and sound.

Formed in 1978 by four pasty-faced youths with a passion for the emerging hardcore scene, T.S.O.L. was originally based in Huntington Beach, CA. Featuring the lineup of vocalist Jack Grisham, guitarist Ron Emory, bassist Mike Roche, and drummer Todd Barnes, the band burst onto the local club scene with an image that included white face paint and dark, energetic anthems about alienation and troubled youth. A few members had already tried their luck with a band called Vicious Circle, so gigs in the South Bay and Orange County were easy to get despite many of those shows ending with riots that would ban them from the very same clubs. A politically fueled eponymous EP would be the band's first official release, and its emotional sound and vicious attitude were enough to ensure their standing as a major force in the scene.

Playing around California with contemporaries like the Damned and the Dead Kennedys, they managed to write enough material to finally release a full-length record. A brief visit to the studio resulted in Dance with Me, a phenomenal gothic punk record that paved the way for bands like the Misfits and the Lords of the New Church to make similar music. Finding their niche, the band began headlining major shows with young bands like Bad Religion, Suicidal Tendencies, and Social Distortion often opening. The self-described "Orange County Invasion" had begun, and they were the first band to reap the benefits of the new sound. The group moved to Jello Biafra's fledgling Alternative Tentacles label, which promptly released the Weathered Statues EP at the end of the year. Despite its melodic leanings, no one could have predicted the next step.

Beneath the Shadows was released in 1982 and blew away all the preconceived notions about the group's sound. T.S.O.L. had put out a record that equaled Meat Loaf when it came to sheer sonic pomposity but still retained their gothic punk leanings. Fans were mildly confused, but the band garnered rave reviews and was featured in director Penelope Spheeris' Suburbia documentary as a result. But internal troubles were brewing, and their ever growing popularity was tempered by the loss of both Grisham and Barnes. Pausing only briefly, T.S.O.L. trudged on with new singer Joe Wood (Grisham's brother-in-law) and drummer Mitch Dean.

The Dead Kennedys lent the band their van to tour with, and they began traveling around the U.S. with their new members. Finding that their new material reflected the growth of the British goth genre they had admired, 1984's Change Today? came out on Enigma Records with a different flair than the group had in the past. The guitars were gloomier and more focused, while Wood's melodramatic croon sharpened the whole affair into a unique L.A. goth sound. Becoming quite big in Southern California, their increased exposure began to influence the tone of the band. By the time of 1986's Revenge, a general poppiness began to creep into their sound that was more along the lines of the hard rock scene that was growing around them.

Still, excellent tracks such as "Nothing for You" (which was featured in the punk rock horror classic Return of the Living Dead) still displayed an edgy obsession with dark sounds and moods. But 1987's Hit and Run was a sudden departure for the group, seeing them adopt a persona that was in tune with bands such as Poison and Faster Pussycat. This was not only evident in the forced and awkward pictures adorning the album, but more unfortunately in their sound as well. Alienating their audience in vast numbers, Emory and Roche were clearly uncomfortable with this new direction and their contributions began to suffer because of it. Tours with the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Guns N' Roses only emphasized the dual personalities the band had developed during this period. A live album practically documented the sound of the two sides of the band splitting, and Emory was gone before they stepped up to record their next record.

They first attempted to plug in his spot with San Diego guitarist Scotty Phillips, but he quit before they could record with him, and they eventually ended up hiring L.A. guitarist Marshall Rohner. By then a hair metal band in every way, the superficial Strange Love was met with indifferent sales and a shrinking audience in 1990, a poor fate for the ailing band. Roche was the next to go; his growing discomfort with the direction of his band sent him packing and he was the last original member to leave. To show how vastly out of the loop the band had become, a greatest-hits album was issued in 1992 with an emphasis on their late-'80s material. Proudly boasting the "evolution" of the group, the inside liner notes were a detailed description of what had gone wrong with the band but written with the exact opposite intentions. The resurgence of underground music into the mainstream would have made a collection of their early-'80s material a more sensible way to promote the band, but the lack of original members clouded any insight T.S.O.L. had into their own history.

Meanwhile, the original members had started playing shows under the less-than flattering moniker T.S.O.L.: The Original Members since Wood and Dean owned the rights. They released a solid live album under this name but stopped playing together soon after. Drugs kept them from maintaining any sort of regular music gigs, while the new version of T.S.O.L. was dropped from their label and relegated to performing clubs. By 1996, T.S.O.L. fans Slayer did the band an enormous favor and covered a few early songs for an all-covers album. As the original members began to sober up, they realized that they still had a passion for their music and there was still an audience for their brand of hardcore. Pulling together in 1999, they fought a rough battle with Wood for rights to the name until they finally wrestled it from him and hit the road with the annual Warped Tour. Barnes had passed away in the time away from the band, but the remaining members recruited drummer Jay O'Brian and released the hardcore "Anticop" single to announce their re-formation.

Nitro Records reissued the albums featuring the original lineup, and by 2001 Disappear marked the first full-length album with Grisham behind the microphone in almost 20 years. Then during a November 2002 show at West Hollywood's House of Blues with the Adolescents, two people were shot backstage and subsequently sued both the venue and band over their injuries. T.S.O.L. was later cleared of any blame surrounding the incident, but high legal fees (over $13,000 worth) kept the guys from doing any kind of extensive touring over the few years it took to settle the case. They did, however, use the time to record what would become their final record, September 2003's Divided We Stand. After two final shows at Long Beach's the Vault in the fall of 2006, T.S.O.L. officially called it quits. ~ Bradley Torreano, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

except if it's digital
well, bobonnit, even a broken clock is right twice a day.
bobonnit, exactly. No vocal talent what so ever. Just a bunch of high pitch squealing, which they can't even do well.
georgemclane j r , learn to spell. This band sucks. They are a group who thinks leather cladding and permed hair can make up for talent.
Bobonit sucls
I don't like bands that go by initials. I always get them mixed up and they usually suck anyway
alexandrabel t r a n 1 5
Yeah yeah !!
they played with the RED DEVIL SQUADRON a few moths ago and are still great
jesus,what the f**k happened in 87' f**kin a
Used to hang in the garage in long beach with jack
TSOL are sissies -Tesco Vee
Whoever wrote that bio needs to correct it. T.S.O.L. Is still playing gigs and releasing albums. Jack Grisham fronted TSOL is great then and now. It was unfortunate that Joe Wood led them into that garbage like Hit and Run and Revenge.
my old band CANCEROUS GROWTH opened for these guys way back in like 1985 or 86.... I like their earlier recordings better than this rerecorded stuff !!...I am 53 and still frekin crazy!!
this 41 y/o earned his place at any show even i dont look punk, the values will never go away ha!!!!
Biggest sell out band into thrash metal ever. These guys blow.
They have not called it quits. In fact they are playing this Saturday (2/26) in San Clemente, CA at Coconuts.
+1 On what jake said.... dancewith me needs to be on here. jack grisham was a favorite of mine.
I am so amazing just one look from me can send your girlfriend into complete ecstasy.
their early stuff was way better...
bobbiejean3
WHERES REVENGE? ITS THEIR BEST ALBUM!!!!
Why are they missing the first album?
TSOL are offically the greatest punk band ever...they turned me on to necrophilia at such a young age...
"officialy called it quits in 2006"?????
They sure rocked in 2007 touring with DI.
And they sure rocked Saturday nite.

All Jack Grisham... not into Woods.
I thought Disappear was just as good as Revenge...al t h o u g h more polished and refined...Pa n d o r a could drop Hit and Run from the lineup considering it never plays through any of my stations...t o much metal for my threads...
You guys crack me up. You are not only missing the 1st album (1986's Revenge), but quite arguably their best.

Wake up! That is an instant classic
Rock.. almost.. as.. good.. ?
It's time to update the bio. I just saw them last night on the Warped Tour and they kicked a s s!!!
I definately see a little Dude Ranch in Beneath the Shadows...
@ The Captain: Did you really just catch yourself comparing T.S.O.L to H.I.M and Bink 182? Holy Hell man. You need a remedial course in music.
these guys rock almost as good as H.I.M. and Blink-182... v e r y sweet...
definatly still fuckkin hardcore, theese motherfuckke r s know the get off!!!!!!
They have not called it quits. Saw them in Albuquerque this month. Still rockin.
Not one of my favorites of all time, but important nonetheless. If you listen to some of their material, the singer is very artsy fartsy Jim Morrison-esq u e . You may disagree and that's fine.
pjkinzer
This band is good enough to justify all the horrid bands that they inspired. Dark & melodic. Like Poe-inspired punk.
Thank You TSOL if not for you we would never have slayer
dan7547
way to much like the replacements
mauriliop
I really like the album 'Hit and Run'... what the hell were they thinking with those other albums? P.U.!
Revenge is one of the best albums of all time
I'm not a huge fan of the new material, but Revenge (1986) is a great blend of Blues and Punk. Melody, insightful, meaningful and Angry (all rolled in a tight wand we could all enjoy). I really thought that album was ground breaking. Then as some of you have elluted to, they started hanging around Glam Metal bands and the down hill trip began. Hit and Run the Next album 1988 (was still showing hints of their former brilliance). The album after that (which's title eludes me was some Alternati
Old school True Sounds of Liberty is f**king awesome, but then they started touring with GUNS AND F**KING ROSES?!?!?!? ! ? ! ? ! ? ! ! ? ! ? ! ? ? ! What the s**t happened there?!?! I don't think that you can call the new TSOL punk, they have been tainted by craptastic glam metal, which should have died long ago. A hardcore band like Black Flag should have just curbstomped Axle Rose when they got the chance and now look at where Henry Rollins is now, him and Axle have switched places. RIP TSOL.
let_no_tyran t s _ r e a p
*pshshshshsh s * breaker breaker we got a code blue, some guy's humping a corpse on Huntington and 5th, please advise, over *pshshshshsh s h s h s *
ytsurw
TSOL was and still is one of my favorite punk bands. I've still got hand bills from their shows in Houston. Unlike most fans, I like the old and the new "versions" of this band.
almost forgot about these guys....
TSOL ROCKS!

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