Interview: Kimm Gardener - Channel 3

Formed in Cerritos, California in 1980, CHANNEL 3 caught the attention of Posh Boy Records and became part of the USHC movement. Through changing styles and members, the band's core of Kimm Gardener and Mike Magrann has remained virtually constant. TKO Records recently released a superb DVD/CD package entitled, 'One More For All My True Friends'. It's an hour-long documentary and includes a live performance from November 2006. Even though the documentary answered nearly all of my original questions, I got in touch with the band and this is what guitarist Kimm Gardener had to say.

..What inspired the filming of the recent CHANNEL 3 documentary, ‘One More For All My True Friends’? Was it something you had been thinking of for a while?
Mike and I had been thinking that our story - best buddies since grade school - may find a common connection with quite a few people, and decided to do it. We had met Eric Carreon when he filmed the British Invasion 2004 Festival, he had interviewed us and we struck up a friendship and a common vision. Once we hooked up, it still took over two years to complete!

..There’s a question in the DVD booklet where you ask yourselves, "So why would these guys deserve a film?" You don’t strictly answer that.
We really don’t deserve a film!! We felt that doing this short version, but done with style, would be more interesting then some of the other Punk docos that we had seen out there. All of us in this ADD world need info quickly, and besides, no one has died in our camp yet!

..You mention above how you hooked up with the doco’s Director, Erik Carreon. How much control did he have over where the doco went when compared with yourselves - or did you bounce ideas off each other and take the best options?
Eric has worked on a number of doco and live DVDs for TKO, our label (including friends the SMUT PEDDLERS), and some for SOS Records. We agreed all the way to the end, although I think Mike and I were pushing for a shorter version. We had a showing at the Long Beach Art Theatre that holds like 400, and the thing was about 90 minutes long, but then we trimmed down another 15-20 minutes before it was finished for the DVD.

..How did you find the experience of actually filming and making of the doco? Was it a process you enjoyed and what did you learn from it? I guess you in particular, Kimm, with your PR kinda job, must be pretty used to this surrounding.
Hey - what are you saying? Nah… Really, it took awhile to talk about stuff knowing that the camera was rolling, but overall, Mike and I both feel that we should have had a good interview after a few hours at the pub… I am sure we could have come up with small spicy stores that now will never see the light of day…Things missing from the DVD, but that may be ok!

..Both you, Kimm, and Mike, come across as very relaxed, down to earth, humble and sincere people - genuinely nice guys. Given the era and genre that you guys were involved in, how do you think you kept your sanity? So many have ended up dead, addicted to something or are slightly mentally unhinged!
Well, I can say that there is not much that has not gone unchecked from our camp over the years, but we both were good students, and did not get arrested too many times overall… Lots of friends got lost along the way, to be sure, whether from drink or drugs, or jail time. We both graduated college together the same year and have worked for the most part, since then.
I think you need to realize where you fit in the food chain, so to speak… We are just happy that we still get to play, and that there are people out there that will still come out for our shenanigans!

..I also thought it commendable that you did not shy away from stating you attended shows by the likes of Zeppelin, Skynyrd, Aerosmith etc. All too often we read of the ‘Year Zero’ when Punk hit and any previous musical preferences are erased from memory.
Come on now! In these IPOD days that we now live in, I find it hard for anyone to claim that you didn’t somehow listen to cheesy rock or even bad 70s tunes and dig em!

..Exactly my point…
Seeing rock in the 70s was unbelievable for me especially… I have always been a rock and roll fan… I saw the STONES in 1975 when I was 11 and looked at how fuckin' cool Keith was, and said, "I gotta do this!" The key is that all those bands made it look easy, until you had to sit and practice every day for eight hours… We never had time for all that, but when the RAMONES came, we saw that they looked great, sounded great and just were the shit!
We were lucky to see early KISS, CHEAP TRICK, Zeppelin, Skynyrd as well as great stuff like The RUNAWAYS and early Van Halen. I can close my eyes and see some of those nights… Great stuff!

..I have to admit, I am envious of the RUNAWAYS, early KISS and especially the STONES from that era. The observation in the DVD about the lack of house party shows today and how bands were able to tour the country using this method was interesting also. Why do you think such parties are now so redundant?
The parties now are done with a bunch of people at their own homes going back and forth with each other… I preferred it when people actually got out and got to know each other in person.

..How much violence did you guys experience in the early days? I was watching an interview with Mike Ness of SOCIAL DISTORTION and he continually spoke of the violence he endured - in fact, he said similar things to me when I interviewed him. CH3 didn’t actually make a big deal of it. Is it something that, compared with others, didn’t happen to CH3 or did you just not want to sensationalise what was an all too depressing sideshow of those early So. Cal HC/ Punk days?
SOCIAL DISTORTION and folks like TSOL came from Huntington Beach, which was a more brutal police area, when compared with Cerritos. We were involved in shows for a couple of years before they all got too out of control… Seems like 1982-83 was when the larger crowds and shows led to show after show turning into a riot.
Fun times as I remember, but a lot of people got hurt along the way. The Huntington Park Riot in ’83 was pretty bad, and we were chased down a street by cops with clubs swinging… Cars were smashed, and when we finally got someone to talk and not hit us, they said "Your equipment is gone---Leave"

..You mention you did a show with the EXPLOITED - bad luck!! You have any tales to tell of that bunch of morons and their banality? C’mon - don’t be too nice!!!
We like Wattie.

Really now, the Huntington Park show was with them, and we really only met them once, after that show around a keg at a post party. We met Wattie again in 2005 in UK. I have read about some of the stories about them, but not quite sure what to make of it!

..You also mention playing stadiums once you signed to Enigma and playing with the likes of X, Red Hot Chilli Peppers and even Midnight Oil!! How did you find the transition from small clubs and house parties to stadiums? GREEN ON RED was mentioned also - a great band - how were the shows with them?
Playing at the Hollywood Palldium with Midnight Oil was fun… Big stage and legendary room. Playing Irvine Meadows to 10,000 with X and Red Hot Chilli Peppers was amazing, since it was hometown, you know?
We chuckle these days about the shows… Some nights we play to a large house…1000-1200 (just played last month with RANCID at Ventura Theatre to this kinda crowd) and then some nights we are playing to a few drunks in a small club. I like it either way! GREEN ON RED… Most of those shows were played under the name STRAIGHT EDGE FEMINISTS since we wanted to play but at the time, playing as CH3 just drew out the riot police!!

..Did you ever have any aspirations to sign to a major label? I’m guessing when Jay Lansford joined and took you in a decidedly rock direction, the possibility of a major label knocking became a serious proposition?
It was really something that was due to several reasons… Jay did want to push us to look to bigger things, but by then I had worked to get with Steve Rennie from Avalon Attractions, the key LA Concert firm at the time. Steve was connected, and a good guy, but always pushed us to keep writing, keep getting new material to play out there. Steve parted with us in 1987 when Dramarama came out of the gate with a KROQ smash song (and he currently manages Incubus).
Mike and I were open to move to a new label once our agreement with Robbie Fields was over, and Enigma Records was interested and seemed the right place to go. At the time, they were becoming home to TSOL (post-Jack years), Poison, Stryper, GREEN ON RED, Tex and The Horseheads and many more… Was a fun time to be there, with the LA scene shattering into so many directions.

..Something I thought was very noticeable was the discussion around your ‘departure’ from the band, Kimm. It’s a measure of you both that there is no bitterness, but it seems that you still hold a sense of bitterness - or maybe betrayal - over the situation. What are your thoughts on those observations?
I have to agree with you! Jay came aboard when the business of the band was taking most all of my time, and really playing my guitar was not always on the forefront of things to do each day.
I have always felt that I am a bit of a slave to my ambition, so to speak, and once Mike and I started throwing ideas out for things to do, I was usually ready to stand up and say "Let’s do it!"
When that involved tours or other undertakings, well, you can get my drift…..
Jay and I have come to grips with this… He laughs about being the bad guy… He really is not a bad guy at all… After all, we did great things together!

..I’m guessing there must be lots of footage that is not included on the DVD/ final version. That correct? Are we likely to see ‘The Director’s Cut’ or even ‘Waiting In The Wings: The Out takes of All My True Friends’!!??
Maybe a director's cut since Eric liked the 90 minute version better, but not sure how many people out there need an extra 3 hours of outtakes!

..I'm willing to be the guinea pig - send it on over!! Haha!!! I was disappointed that the Dr. Strange released album was given very little discussion - especially given that it was such a strong album. Any reason behind this? How did you hook up with the label? Dr. Bill is one of the most sincere and genuine people I have dealt with in this Punk Rock society - did you find the same??
Bill is a great guy and very dedicated to the Punk Rock scene, much like our old friend Jack Rabid was when we first met in New York in ’81. That record is actually pretty good, a test to get us back in the studio as a foursome and a lot of strong tracks, if you give it a spin.

..I do often...
We released that in 2002 and came to realize that the new tracks are good, but in reality the kids and older fans want to hear all the old songs, no matter how you slice it. We always play a few of these songs in the set, since we like them so much and to break up the set a bit!

..The ‘Rejected’ album got even less of a mention - it was ignored.
That is really an out-takes LP. Only a couple of those songs are completed for release and while I like most of those tracks, when I listen to it, it brings back memories of tough times for us. We were trying some new styles there and not all of them came across well. That record is a ‘reaching’ record that shows some growth, but in the end never got fully cooked….

..How did the deal to release the DVD with TKO come about? Did you approach any other labels? Was Dr. Strange a consideration?
Eric Carreon had already worked with Mark at TKO, and had some interest in having this go to TKO before we really spoke with anyone about putting it out. Once we met Mark, we found we had a lot in common and felt that with his DVD releases, it may be a good avenue. As for Dr Strange, Bill and I had spoken, but he is not really doing any new releases due to the sad state of the record labels at this time, and also he really only was into releasing CD’s…

..I read an interview with you regarding British Punk label No Future where you stated they wouldn’t put your photo on the record sleeve because you "weren’t skinheads or sported mohawks." Haha - the Punk Rock Fashion Police existed even then! It seemed apparent to me, back then, that the British bands were very ‘image’ orientated while the USHC scene was virtually anti-image - what are you thoughts on that??
I think the economic landscape in the UK was so different then from all of us in Southern California, for the most part… When you see what times were like in 1980, there was much more poverty and hard times across the pond. In the US, our Punk was about personal freedoms, and the fact that really living here is not perfect, as it may seem.

..Did you have much direct contact with No Future - or did Robbie Fields deal with it all?
The No Future deal was, and has always been, a license through Poshboy Records. No matter what people say about Robbie, we have always said that he was on point at a time in LA Punk that was on the forefront of the revolution. To be part of his ‘machine’ when he was cranking out singles, EPs and LPs by the likes of SIMPLETONES, KLAN, CROWD, AGENT ORANGE, TSOL, SOCIAL DISTORTION, SHATTERED FAITH and the like, was pretty amazing!

..You've gotta new President - Barack Obama. What are you thoughts on this result? What did you think of Sarah Palin’s performance in support of McCain? How do you feel - as people who have lived through several tenures - about how Bush is gonna compare with Clinton, Bush Snr, Carter, Nixon et al and, most specifically, Reagan?
Speaking for myself, I could not be happier to get Bush out of office… He has been there eight years too long, and frankly, it has been one downslide over an eight year period to the crisis that now is global… What an idiot! McCain seemed to have a brilliant idea in picking Palin when first announced, especially when Hillary Clinton was not going to be the Democratic choice. The sad part was, in reality, the more Palin spoke, the more that she showed the American public that she indeed was the wrong choice… Wrong person, wrong time!

..It’s clear you are both proud parents - how did becoming a parent change you as people? How did it alter your priorities - whatever they may have been before? What affect did parenthood have on CH3?
Mike became a parent three years before I did, and the change was amazing to see… Kids really make you see things differently… Your goals, your work, your life. They have helped us to see the world in a more compassionate way, since we will leave all of our misgivings and our successes for them to live with through their years…
They say that you don’t understand until you have your own kids, and honestly, if/when you become that parent, you will understand!

..A fun question... You have the opportunity to be special guest stars in a one-off episode of CSI - Miami. What role would you want to take in the programme.
If it had to be one CSI, I would want to be on CSI Las Vegas… I hate CSI Miami, as that David Caruso is the worst actor!

CSI Vegas… Hmmm, bet Mike and I would be good cheesy bar flies that played in some old time bar/lounge on the strip, that of course had killed a rival lounge owner!

..Which aspect of your life - and on a lesser degree the band - would you change if you had the opportunity to repeat it all again?
There is not really a lot that I would change. All of the things that have happened have been learning experiences, paths that have taken us to where we are today. People have asked if we are sad that the band never really ‘made it’, but I don’t look at it this way… I feel that we did make a mark, although not as big as some, but there are people that think of Southern California Punk and we come as a member of that community. We have had much more longevity then say one of these one hit wonders that seem to populate the music landscape these days, eh?

..Totally - for me CH3 has achieved a great deal that you fellas should be intensely proud of. Looking back on your tenure as C3, what is the single most special moment - and the worst!
CH3 has always been about friendship, long term friends… Not just Mike and I but with many of the guys that have played with us… This is the bright spot…
The worst spot... Maybe the hangovers?

..Haha!! Now there's something I can relate to!! So, what is the goal at this point? What’s next in for CH3?
2009 is starting off to be stronger then 2008 for us… We are working towards a vinyl release on TKO of the early DEMOs - the songs that made up the early Poshboy releases.

..Sounds pretty essential listening...
We are also playing the Punk Rock Bowling Tournament in Las Vegas in January 2009 as well as heading back to Seattle and Portland for shows. We are also working towards dates in Europe in Summer 2009 that will culminate with playing the Rebellion Fest in the UK... More to follow once we get into 2009!

..Anything you want to add?
Stop by and drop us a line sometime.


TKO Records
Dr. Strange Records
Poshboy Records