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The Adolescents' Tony Cadena on punk band's early years, new album and Kelly Thomas case

Tony Cadena, far left, singer for the Adolescents says he was drawn to punk music in the late 1970s because it was
Tony Cadena, far left, singer for the Adolescents says he was drawn to punk music in the late 1970s because it was "timeless music" with a lack of boundaries.
Photo by Matze and courtesy of the Adolescents

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Back in 1979, a 16-year-old kid named Tony Cadena formed a band in Fullerton, California with a buddy of his, calling it the Adolescents. Decades later, the legendary punk band has continued its tradition of taking on social issues – from the killing of Kelly Thomas to the Fukushima nuclear disaster – on its latest album, La Vandetta...é un piatto che va servito freddo.

Tony Cadena, aka Tony Reflex, stopped by the studio to speak with Take Two's Alex Cohen. Highlights from the interview:

On exploring music and sounds as a child:

We had one of these organs in the house, it was an  electronic organ and it had these floppy records that you would put in. We made quite a racket, my brother and I. We did a lot of experimenting with noise and sound and finding music in the world. It was really quite fun, actually.

On why he was first drawn to punk music:

For me there was the lack of boundaries, it was timeless music. You could experiment with things and it was OK to do that. We were making our own music. There were plenty of bands that were playing music from other people, but from the outset we had determined that, hey, this wasn't that hard. The idea of creating something was more appealing than taking something that someone had already done and recycling it.

On why the band took on the case of Kelly Thomas and the issue of homelessness and mental illness in its song "A Dish Best Served Cold":

The idea is to open up a dialogue. The difficulty for the police is they know they're being watched. They're in a very, very awkward and difficult position. I don't bait people and I'm not a naysayer, but there's some things in the way that policing is done that need to change...the responses that we're finding to outbursts for the mentally ill, especially, and for the homeless have been severe and that's what this song is really addressing.