Dance Hall Crashers Set The Record Straight

Don't want to be a footnote in the history of Rancid.

The Dance Hall Crashers have a new album, Honey, I'm Homely. But before they talk about it, and other things going on in the present for the punk-ska combo, they want to get a couple of things straight about their past.

To put it bluntly, they're not happy about being best known, along with Operation Ivy, as one of the bands that birthed Rancid. They'd prefer people to focus on their music.

The problem, you see, is that for about a minute, two now-famous '90s punk rockers -- guitarist Lint, now known as Rancid's Tim Armstrong and Rancid bassist Matt Freeman -- were in the group. In fact, the first version of the Dance Hall Crashers was started by the Rancid boys when they were still in Operation Ivy, so that they could play more ska-heavy sounds.

"Basically, Tim and Matt started the band in late 1988 as a side project," explained current Dance Hall Crashers vocalist Karina Denike. "They wanted something more ska, so they started it. But then they quit basically right after and never played any shows or recorded anything. I don't even think they had a name. It was just like they started it and they left."

"It's become a big part of our history which is kind of funny because they started it with a male singer," Denike said. "It was just completely different."

The current Berkeley-based group -- with Elyse Rogers and Denike sharing lead vocals, Jason

Hammon on guitars, and Mikey Weiss and Gavin Hammon (Jason's younger

brother), on bass and drums, respectively -- have just seen the release of their new album, Honey, I'm Homely.

With ska-inspired tunes such as the first single, "Lost Again," mixed in with

pop-punk songs such as "Mr. Blue," Honey, I'm Homely is a solid introduction to the band. Their two vocal attack is the Dance Hall Crashers trump card, with the vocal harmonies

Rogers and Denike weave distinguishing the band from the numerous other late-'90s punk-ska

bands. "There are kids that are being exposed to ska that never were 'cause it was

an underground scene for such a long time, but I totally like the kids that

are coming!" Denike said. "We weren't super ska -- we were sort of the black

sheep of the ska family and the black sheep of the punk family, 'cause we

weren't really headed in either direction you know. These are the people that like our music and that's really nice, as opposed to super-ska heads or super-punk heads who didn't like us 'cause we're sort of in the middle."

The core group of Jason Hammon,

Denike and Rogers have seen the band through two previous albums --

Dance Hall Crashers, released in 1990 on Moon Records and Lockjaw, released in 1995 on (510)/MCA Records -- as well as Honey, I'm Homely.

Now in their mid-20s, the band members are busy graduating from

college, making music and reflecting on the changes that have taken place

in music over the past decade. "People get a little too worked up I think," mused Denike. "People gave Green Day way too much shit [after they became popular] 'cause they're a great band and if you liked the band seven years ago you should like them now 'cause they're still a great band.

"And it's like, just because jocks like them and jocks weren't in the scene... It's just completely pointless to think of it that way," Denike added. "If your music is affecting people in a positive way, then that's all a good thing, there's nothing bad about that." [Fri., Sept. 26, 1997, 9 a.m. PDT]