The Boneless Ones, featuring Max Fox (vocals), Troy Takaki (bass), Chris Kontos (drums), and Craig Locicero (guitars), returned from a 35-year absence to bring skate rock (or crossover, if you like) back to the masses. While the group had popularity via Thrasher Magazine in the ’80s, with “Skate for the Devil” (from the album of the same name) labeled as “one of the greatest skate rock songs of all time,” it’s their recent resurgence that’s caught skate rats, circle-pit maniacs, and punks/metalheads off guard. The Boneless Ones’ sophomore album, Back to the Grind, picks right up where their 1986 debut left off. There’s wild leads, courtesy of ace Locicero, crazy drum runs thanks to Kontos, and Fox and Takaki’s trademark twofers of Easy Bay spittin’, deck splitting, and homie rallying.
Now, The Boneless Ones aim for Europe, specifically a once-in-a-lifetime set at the legendary Dynamo Festival in Eindhoven, Netherlands. Decibel caught up with Fox as he and team prep for their first-ever bombing raid (and subsequent bonelesses, of course) of Europe.
Craig [Locicero] and Chris [Kontos] have history with Dynamo in their past lives in Forbidden and Machine Head, respectively. Tell me about The Boneless Ones’ journey to Dynamo.
Max Fox: You know what really rings true for when I think of Dynamo? It’s Paul Baloff and Exodus. When came back in the band, he was all haggard, but that at that show, he’s just incredible. In a way, it’s full circle for me—and The Boneless ones. Like Exodus, we get to represent Berkeley, the East Bay. We were a Berkeley band growing up with Exodus. We’re like brothers. It’s a huge shot in the arm to be able to play at Dynamo. It’s all about skateboarding, punk rock—in a festival setting—which is incredible. I couldn’t be prouder to represent all that. We’re going to be fully representing our new album, Back to the Grind. I mean, we have a 22-foot banner of our green logo, plus stage skrims of the album cover, which will be across the amps. They’ll be juxtaposed against one another. We’re definitely looking forward to promoting The Boneless Ones in Europe.
How long did the Dynamo deal take to materialize? Back to the Grind has been out a year now.
Max Fox: Craig, as you’ve probably realized already, has a long relationship with Dynamo. They go back a long way. Plus, the Dynamo team were really big on the Bay Area—Berkeley, Oakland, and San Francisco—thrash movement that was going on when we were all kids. They were into the Ruthie’s Inn scene. So, yeah, Craig pulled us in. He’s the one who proposed for us to come over and play. I mean, he’s obviously our guitarist, as well as the main guy in Forbidden. But prior to that, Dynamo had Craig’s other band, Dress the Dead, play last year. So, it’s all been building up. We’re not a thrash band, though. We’re what’s referred to as “crossover,” which I think everybody knows. We toured with The Circle Jerks and D.R.I. back in the day. Naturally, we pull from both punk and metal genres. We did it in the ‘80s and we’re doing it now. We play right before Sepultura. I can’t wait.
Are you only doing Dynamo?
Max Fox: I’m so glad you asked that. No, it just happens that there is a big punk rock tour that’s going on at the same time with the skateboard band Stalag 13. And then another one of our brother bands, Fang, from the ‘80s—we were on Boner Records, which was run by Fang’s Tom Flynn—is also on that tour. So, we’re gonna play a show with Stalag 13 and Fang two days before Dynamo. It’s an enormous place—kinda of an industrial complex. That’s gonna be in front of 2,000 people. That’s our warm-up show. Forbidden, who are also with the same management company, will do something similar, a warm-up show in Europe right before Dynamo. We couldn’t be happier.
Max Fox: That’s correct. We never went in the ‘80s.
What’s the setlist going to look like?
Max Fox: You know, our setlist is always a mix of old and new. I mean, yes, we’re representing the new album—we’re playing all of the more popular songs off of it like “Bones for Rock” and “Back to the Grind.” I’m really, really looking forward to showcasing them. We’re playing a couple of the old songs off Skate for the Devil, too. I mean, that’s kind of iconic not just to our history but to the whole skate-punk movement. Skate for the Devil mostly rings true to our affiliation with Thrasher Magazine in the ‘80s. Mofo [aka Mörizen Föche], the photo editor, was a huge supporter of The Boneless Ones. He’s the one who coined the term “skate rock.” So, yeah, we’re gonna play older songs. We can’t wait to let 20,000 people scream “Keg Kept A Flowin’”. We’re gonna drop away and let the crowd participate, which is how it should be.
Matt Winegar (Primus) mixed Back to the Grind. Will he be Front of House (FOH) at Dynamo?
Max Fox: Oh, no. Dynamo will be doing that. Matt’s a big shot, who recently won a Grammy with Fantastic Negrito. He’s down in Austin anyway.
OK, will you be bringing any of your crazy merch—wheels, decks, and stuff—to Europe?
Max Fox: No, we’re having merch manufactured, working with Dynamo, in Europe. I look forward to seeing what it’s all gonna look like. I own a merchandising company though. I’m gonna bring some “gifts.” [Laughs] I think that these shows are a response to us getting back together. We stopped playing for 35 years. Now, we’re back, Troy, Craig, Chris, and me. We’re playing for the people.
Max Fox: We’re gonna put our game face on. [Laughs] We’ve had some recent shows with The Accüsed and the Mendo-Lake metalfest—with Hirax, Blind Illusion to name a few—to give us some practice. Sure, Troy will be on the floor, throwing faces like he always does. He’ll throw his bass around. That kinda Cinderella thing. [Laughs] So, it’ll be goofy, but we’re there to play some serious skate rock.
Are you working on the follow-up to Back to the Grind?
Max Fox: We are, but it’s kind of yes and no. There’s a lot of stuff going on inside and outside of the band. We’re all just super-busy. What I’d like to do—and I think the other guys think I’m crazy—is a 7-inch. They’re like, “Do they even make 7-inchs anymore?” I know they do, but it’ll probably be digital-only, two songs. That would be next year. Before then, we’ll do Punk in the Park and Punk in Drublic, which Fat Mike from NOFX puts on. We’re then going to focus on more metal-oriented shows. There’s some cool shows coming up in Southern California that we’re looking forward to.
Do you plan to get out to the East Coast?
Max Fox: We have talked about it. So, do we have plans to do it? We don’t have plans. We’re open to do it. It would be another one of these two-day gig things, where we’d fly in on Saturday and do a gig, or fly in on Friday, do a gig Friday and do a gig Saturday. It doesn’t look too possible to do touring right now with how busy everybody is. You got some guys in our 50s. A couple of us have day-to-day jobs. So, I don’t think we can get in a van with dirty socks and go drive around at this point. [Laughs]