May 1996

Influence of Mechanics Runs Deep in Punk World

(Original interview here) »

Some of the pioneers of Orange County punk still have vivid memories of being thrilled and influenced by the Mechanics back in the now-obscure band's late-'70s heyday.

"I was blown away. Completely," says Agent Orange's leader, Mike Palm, remembering his first Mechanics show. The band's trademarks were the grease-stained gas-station attendants' outfits all five members wore, and its penchant for decking out stages with oil cans, brake drums and the like.

"Scott [Hoogland], the singer, was smashing himself in the head with oil cans and throwing himself all over the stage," Palm recalled.

"I remember Dennis [Catron] doing a slide solo, using a big wrench," Palm said. "Tim Racca had such great attention to tone and played jackhammer rhythms. They were like a cross between AC/DC and Generation X, with a little Iggy Pop thrown in."

Fullerton's punk youth flocked to Mechanics' rehearsals as well as gigs, and the band's studio behind a pawnshop in downtown Fullerton became a combination party zone and classroom for the likes of Social Distortion's Mike Ness and Dennis Danell, and the Adolescents' guitar duo of Rikk and Frank Agnew.

"I learned from watching Tim Racca play," Ness said. "It was amazing what they used to do with two guitars. It would sound like you were hearing four."

"Tim Racca, whether he realizes it or not, is the man who taught me how to write songs," said Rikk Agnew, author of such punk classics as "Kids of the Black Hole" and "O.C. Life."

Frank Agnew says that the Adolescents' trademark soaring, massed-guitar sound--later appropriated by the Offspring, Guttermouth and many others--"was a Tim Racca trip that we borrowed and made huge, and everyone's done it since."

A grateful Racca says he had no idea during the Mechanics' 1977-81 run that the band, which released just one self-financed single, would have a legacy, thanks to the younger punks it influenced.

"If it wasn't for these guys," he said, "nobody would know what I did."