Punk Goes Metal

By By Trevor Hale

By Trevor Hale

“It’s like ‘Grand Theft Auto’ down here,” yelled American Steel bassist John Peck as he raced among cars during rush-hour traffic in San Diego. Just as he reached the other side, the clanging bell of an approaching train stopped him in his tracks and forced another location change.

“Hold on,” he said. “I’m trying to find somewhere I can actually hear.”

When he finally found refuge behind a nearby building, he let out a quick sigh and caught his breath. You get the feeling that it’s the first time he’s had a chance to settle down since American Steel reformed six months ago.

In 2002, American Steel, which originally formed in 1995, decided to take a break and pursue other interests, with three members forming indie-rock band Communiqué. After a few years releasing material for Lookout! Records and touring with Communiqué, Peck, Rory Henderson and Ryan Massey found themselves without a keyboard player or drummer and on involuntary hiatus.

“We were getting antsy and wanted to play music again,” Peck said. “Rory, Ryan and I had always been the core members, and the stuff we were writing at the time just sounded more like American Steel songs than anything.”

With that drive, the trio recruited original drummer Scott Healy and decided to give American Steel another shot. The group played a surprise house show in May, showcasing a few new songs, and things have been non-stop ever since as the band rapidly signed to Fat Wreck Chords, prepared a new album and prepped for tour.

“Lookout! had basically gone belly-up and wasn’t able to put out records anymore,” Peck said. “Being from San Francisco, we had known Mike (owner of Fat Wreck and infamous NOFX frontman) and he had always said he was a fan of Communiqué, but that band just wouldn’t have worked on that label. As soon as he found out we were back as American Steel, he made the offer and we took it.”

The band immediately went into recording mode, logging time at the studio owned by guitarist Massey.

“We were really able to stretch our time there,” Peck said. “It’s not like we got to do everything for free, but Ryan knows everything in that place like the back of his hand. It just made things a lot easier.”

The new album Destroy Their Future was released Oct. 2, and the band has been on tour with eclectic punk compatriots the Lawrence Arms since.

“It’s like our first tour all over again,” Peck said. “But luckily we’ve known these guys for years, so we don’t mind being crammed in a bus with them.”

Things seem to go smoothest for American Steel when it’s not trying too hard, so that’s exactly what the band is going to continue doing.

“The record came out a little over a month ago, so we’re just going to tour to let it be out there,” Peck said. “Right now, there’s no grand plan. We’re just going to see what comes and go from there.”

With that, an airplane roared by less than 100 feet above Peck. He laughed to himself and headed back into the fray.

American Steel will play at Burt’s Tiki Lounge on Tuesday with the Lawrence Arms.

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