Jack Grisham represents what punk-rock was supposed to be about.... being socially and politically aware, independent, and governed by what is right. If you listen to the lyrics of most of the bands from that genre, punk rock wasn't about society's rules or how much money you could make. But for so many bands, that's what it became. All too often you'd have bands fighting with each other, fans being destructive, or independent record labels projecting themselves as anti-establishment yet stealing royalties and getting sued by artists who just wanted their music back. Grisham never seemed to be about the money or the attention. What it boiled down to was that he was a kid from Long Beach who had something to say, and punk rock was the perfect forum in which to say it.
In an interview with Grisham when he was probably in his mid-twenties, he said that TSOL would be performing as many free shows as they could. The interviewer asked why he was doing it for free, and Jack just smiled and said, "We don't need no money. I mean, like, we don't have any bills to pay right now." This statement captures Grisham's generous nature. Regardless of what mistakes he has made in the past (see interview below), this is why it's so easy to forgive him and embrace who he is. It's people like Jack, who have learned from their mistakes and use their experience to help others... not for profit... but because it's what they believe in... who are the truly wealthy ones. What they give is priceless.
It has always pissed me off that Grisham's bid for governor of California was not taken as seriously as it should have been. I admire almost everything he stands for. But in a way, Grisham is too honest to be in politics. And he has a conscience, something that politicians tend to lack.
Ok enough ranting... on to the clips...
Here is Jack in a scene from "Rage: 20 Years of Punk Rock West Coast Style":
Here is the coolest scene from the pre-"Wayne's World" Penelope Spheeris film "Suburbia": Jack performing onstage with TSOL:
TSOL performing "Sounds of Laughter" in 1981:
Jack Grisham was the lead singer for the popular west coast punk band TSOL. Known for their dark and often political lyrics, TSOL gained fans worldwide. They often played with punk heavy-hitters such as Black Flag, Social Distortion, and Descendents.
Grisham left TSOL and went on to form another widely popular band, "The Joykiller" with members from the bands "Gun Club" and "Weirdos".
After recovering from his addictions he had picked up on the way, Jack got his act together and ran for governor of California after Gray Davis was recalled, running on a social democrat platform against people like Ariana Huffington, Gary Coleman, porn star Mary Carey, and the winner of the election, Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Eventually, the original band TSOL reformed, minus deceased drummer Todd Barnes.
Currently, Jack plays with his band "Jack Grisham and the West Coast Dukes". He is a husband and a proud parent of two girls. As an outspoken activist, he often donates his time towards social and environmental efforts.
What makes him ZZZlist material?
Ro Hurley: So, now in the beginning you guys formed in 1978. Who came up with the name TSOL?
Jack Grisham: It was stolen from a church show. And there's actually still a church band, but the band still plays. It was like, there's a church band called "The Sounds of Liberty"... and the guys were sitting around watching T.V. - I wasn't in the band at the time, I was still gone. But they were all sitting around watching T.V. and somebody said "Oh f' that we are the true Sounds of Liberty." And so that’s where it came from it came from a church band. And it still is and you can look up "The Sounds of Liberty" and it's a Christian church band.
Well that’s hilarious because when you guys adopted it, it kind of fit into the whole anarchy theme.
Yeah well that’s where they came up with (pauses)... that’s where the “True Sounds of Liberty” came from.
So does this church group have any idea what they started?
I don’t they care one way or another, you know what I mean? (laughs) They never contacted us. There was even a later band “TSOL: The Sounds of Our Lives”.
Yeah so I don’t think yeah, you know... yeah. They never said anything I don’t think they even know. There’s no way they would know unless they’re listening to us, which I highly doubt.
Yeah it's not like you hang in the same circles.
No we’re not, I bet of the couple hundred people who listen to us, I doubt the church guys are one of them.
So you guys started out around 1978 and you really made a name for yourselves in the west coast punk scene. But then all of a sudden two of you left and TSOL morphed into this hair-metal band. What happened there?
Well, three of us left. We were just kinda screwing around. I mean for me, you know, I’ll take a lot of blame for that and some of the responsibility of that happening. Cause for me, at the time I was never into music. You know? I mean, I listened to music but it wasn’t like I was really into music. I was just into causing problems. That’s what I liked to do. I liked to cause trouble and music was just like a backdrop for that. But then the more I started getting into the band and listening and getting turned on to more stuff, then we started experimenting more. And if you look at all of the TSOL records, they started like... they were different. For each one we were experimenting and trying different stuff. Because I was hearing stuff I really... I guess I never listened to before or paid any attention to. You know; like trying to learn how to sing. That was one like, you know, I mean I was never very successful at it but trying I started listening to Roxy music listening to early Bowie, and that got me listening to soul records and you know we just started experimenting and experimenting more and more with the sound. And a couple of the guys in the band they didn’t like it so much. Do you know what I mean? Like, it was like it wasn’t exactly what they wanted to do and so it kinda caused a little rift in the band. And then I said we should just change our name completely and start over as a brand new band and that caused a bigger rift. That was more problems. So anyways, we left and they even asked me they said “Hey do you mind if we use the name?” and I said, “What do I care?”. Cause I never ever even thought... I didn’t think about it, like it didn’t mean anything to me, do you know what I mean? Well, so what? Its just a band name. Who gives a shit?
Right and you didn’t think of any, there weren’t any commercial monetary ties.
No, never and there still aren’t. There never was, you know, its punk rock. Its like you didn’t, I just didn’t care I guess I’m a fool because I believed what all the guys I liked were telling me. I mean all my idols in music telling me... you know... The Clash and all these guys saying, "ignore heroes", "no government"... all this stuff. And I bought in, and I’m like, "yeah, that sounds perfect to me, I’m all for it". But then I found out that later on that a lot of those bands didn’t really practice what they preached.
Right and it was all about the money and the image they projected that came back to their income. You know... like Metallica and the whole Napster situation.
You know... right. If you dig in a little deeper well they’re not really what they say. And a lot of them are preaching all this crap and then you find out they’re not what they preach. They’re talking shit behind people’s backs...there’s no unification. They’re talking about how unified they all are and they’re just shit talking assholes is what I found out. They treat their own bands bad. You find later on while all these guys are getting sued and stuff later on: here he’s dancing and preaching about anti-corporate this this this and then later on down the line the guys of the band are suing the other members because they’ve all been screwing each other the whole time.
Are you talking about the Dead Kennedys?
Well I’m talking whoever, it doesn’t matter who I’m talking about. I’m not naming any names. I mean there’s all sorts, there’s lawsuits and stuff that you don’t even hear about. I mean it goes on with this stuff and you just find out that the guys weren’t telling the truth.
And it was all a big farce.
It was a farce and for me, it was like I took a lot of it seriously. I mean, I got in trouble for holding true to that crap. You know, not paying taxes. One time the IRS came to me for taxes and I took an orange crayon and I drew on the tax forum a big happy face and wrote “I don’t understand” in the middle of the tax form. They ended up seizing everything I owned. I took it seriously, and it’s like, "hey, this is what we’re really supposed to be doing. You know, there’s supposed to be unity here, we’re supposed to be together, we’re supposed to be looking out for each other", and it wasn’t the case at all. So I still hold grudges, not grudges... I don’t really hold a grudge. I’m not angry with anyone but with sometimes when this topic comes up with some people, I get upset because I still hear people now speaking highly of guys I knew were scumbags. And I just want to, and I don’t say anything, but I want to say hey, if you knew these people, if you knew. I mean you talk about sexism, racism, all that shit.
I actually completely agree with that first hand that you see a lot of that. That people hold people in such high regard and their basically their shit doesn’t stink and this person, you know people are so gullible they believe these people are what they say they are. Its just, they fall in victim basically to like a cult leader or something, you know?
Right and a lot of that goes on, then a lot of it all is press. A lot of it, you gotta think... a lot of it the people that liked the bands back then at that time, a lot of them were kids. They were kids they weren’t even aware of what’s going on. So what they read is what they believed. It’s crazy its like the whole 1984 thing, he who controls the past controls the future. You get guys writing about stuff that, you know, really isn’t true. I actually hear a guy wrote about something that happened to me like he was there when there was only three guys that were there at the time and two of them are dead. So there’s no way this guy could have been there and he’s now adopted it as his story, which is just crazy to me. Its like I haven’t got a chance to confront him but its unbelievable.
Yeah that’s actually happened to me too on occasion and like you’ll read about it in the press. Its like you really have a story and then the person likes it so much and thinks it will do so much for them and for their image that they adopt your persona basically.
And there’s people that this happens a lot with. You know where guys are actually writing books with other guys’ stories. I mean I don’t know how we got sucked into all this but you know, whatever.
Yeah I know your right and actually I did have a question that I wrote down the road that I was going to ask you if the punk rock because I know a lot of your songs were anti-government and anarchistic and such. So my question was did the punk rock make the anarchist or did the anarchist follow or become a punk basically. It kinda seems like you were rooted already in the chaos and the kinda libertarian socialist attitude and such before you got into the music.
Well yeah I was raised with a sister and a brother that were both hippies. So a lot of that, you know I was reading how to be involved in a riot when I was six years old and how to stand in a middle of a crowd and throw bottles.
Right the anarchist kids book or something.
Well yeah and all those hardcore ideals that were going on back then in the 60’s so you figure ‘67 and ‘68 when that was going on I was six, seven years old. Well some of the ones I was writing about , well some of the ones I was reading were all about protest. Like what to do at the protest, what to do when the police get involved, how to handle yourself, what to do, you know. It’s like I’m listening to Frank Zappa and the Mothers and The Stones when I was a little kid. So a lot of that came from this.
Were you raised in southern California?
Where were your parents?
I had a father that was a military dad. But being like a socialist, he demeans being a socialist, that’s not a bad word at all. I’m all for it.
So that segues into your politics because you ran for governor of California. I think that your platform was more serious than most...universal healthcare and volunteerism. And I even read that you were all for giving Hispanics amnesty in California.
Yeah I was really popular. They enjoyed that, I’ll tell you.
So when Gray Davis left office, your platform was universal healthcare. Schwarzenegger got elected and the first thing he did was cut education and welfare programs to resolve that 38 billion dollar deficit or something. If you had been elected, how would you how would you have resolved that deficit?
Which is almost going to sound real crazy, I would have brought in a lot of corporate sponsorship into the schools. I wouldn’t have even cared if they put Pepsi history presented by Pepsi. Who gives a shit.
That’s actually a good idea.
Yeah it’s like who gives a shit? They’ve got the money give it back. You know, give it back, put it back where it is. A school program, school books, any kind of that stuff. And just really bring this money back to where it belongs. There’s a lot of stuff but even like with my views, the way they are, I’m a big fan of prayer in school or at least teaching some sort of religious tolerance. Its unbelievable that the society that we live on, what is it, it’s something like 90 percent believe in a power greater than themselves or a higher power or whatever. You got the Muslims, Hindus, Christians, Buddhists, Jews, and yet we teach no religious tolerance in our schools.
Right, but you think that’s probably because the religion with the most funding would win? You know like the Catholics would come in.
No, I think if you step back and teach a well rounded based curriculum in this you know, not controlled by the church in any way. You can still maintain a separation between church and state without.. and learn about the opposition if you will. To me, I’m also a big supporter of, well, I’m kind of at a loss of words. Like, I’m for the military. There’s a Chinese philosopher that said ‘It’s better to have choice not to use a weapon than not have a choice to.’ I mean if you look at it it’s a little crazy.
It’s kinda like that Charlton Heston theory. It’s like he has the right to bear arms but doesn’t necessarily. It’s people that kill not the guns kind of theory.
Right and I’m a pacifist and still believes in it. I mean we have to protect the country we have to protect the law. So anyway, I mean it’s not something you can just discuss over some crazy guy. I go on some of these shows and they say ‘Well how are you going to do this?’ and its like, "come on! What, do you honestly think I can explain that to you in three minutes or even 15 minutes?" It’s ridiculous. I mean, I got a real nice honest , I think it was the guy from, its one of the Fox guys....
...When you did the Fox interview?
Yeah, I can’t remember the name, he was really nice. You know it wasn’t one of the guys, it wasn’t Crossfire but it was a show like that and the guy was really nice. He goes ‘You know what Mr.Grisham you sound like the only guy out there even talking about the issues‘ which I thought that was pretty funny. And then the other cool thing about that is that I think the best part of that whole deal was I was able, I went to a lot of schools. And I went some high schools and on my way to primary schools and just talked to the kids about getting involved. Like what to do, to stand up for each other, to take pride in their school, to take pride in themselves, and to really let them know that they counted and that they were important to me.
So that leads to your volunteerism support. I was reading that you believed that people should give more to their community more than they take. And so that’s in support of that then.
And that actually that’s basically a spiritual theory. A lot of people think that the spirit has, it’s all about God or prayer or whatever. But to be healthy spiritually means we reach outside ourselves, we ignore self, and reach outside ourselves to be helpful in any way. That’s a spiritual action. Prayer is not necessarily spiritual action because it’s intellectual and it’s not all inclusive because we don’t all have the same intellectual capabilities. However, any of us can reach out and hand and give someone a hand up, you know, stick a hand out and help. Any of that and to open ourselves spiritually. Not necessarily towards God but towards each other.
Now do you still believe, you were an outspoken anarchist when you were younger, so do you still believe in anarchy or have you morphed into something else?
What I realized about anarchy is that we are not responsible enough to be anarchist. There’s no way possible. We’re not responsible enough to be that. That’s a heavy concept.
I think anarchism was more successful short term, like during the Civil War or the French Revolution. But then you’re right. People were irresponsible with it and it turned into something that turned out to be very bad. So what are beliefs now? How do you think, if you were to look at the Bush Administration and really the guy is a freakin’ moron and he’s making a shit load of money, and the whole situation in Iraq is the biggest cash grab that anyone has ever seen, with Cheney and his KBR and Halliburton and his contracts and such. What would your ideal government be?
Well, first I’d toss it off. Wasn’t it Jefferson that said we’d have a revolution every hundred years? (laughs) I mean basically start from scratch would be the best possible thing.
And what would you build towards?
I think some that have a little more responsibility. I mean we can look back now and we can look at the problems in the country right now and we can look back at Malcolm X when he said “I see the chickens have come home to roost.” And that is exactly what happens. You see the trouble is that we act; that our whole country is basically founded, at least what it is right now, on a completely selfish principle. We care nothing for what we do to anyone else. And yes we give to people but we give with expectations attached. If we give aid, social aid, we expect result for that aid. We expect the government to support us or to be democrats or whatever it is. We never give freely. People talk about how much the United States gives and yes we give a large amount but not necessarily freely. Not without strings attached so its still selfish giving. All our actions that we’ve made in the past we never have really taken responsibility for and we continue to do the same thing now. So, I think maybe having a government, you know I think maybe we take some time for awhile and be isolationists for a short period of time to start looking back inside. To look at the damage we’ve done, look what we’ve caused, look what we’re involved in. To really step back and look at ourselves. You know, and beg forgiveness.
Yeah, we’re going to need a lot of it at this point I think.
It’s unbelievable especially for me know. Like, I’m a Christian now but I’m not a scary Christian, you know what I’m saying? I don’t have an opinion on outside issues. I don’t believe God has a candidate. We have a president that is supposedly a Christian, a God bearing president that kills children. I mean it’s unbelievable, it’s like to kill at all. It’s like for maybe a Christian we are taught to love our enemies, we’re taught to turn the other cheek, the concept of forgiveness, the concept of caring for others. I mean, this is the country that does none of that. You know and yet they have the nerve to discuss God during the election.
Exactly. And they can still sleep at night you know with all the thousands of young kids who are fighting in the military. That definitely makes me sick. These guys are going to come out of office and be so freakin’ rich. You know it just doesn’t seem right and with the oil costs and with the oil companies making billions of dollars in record profits.
I can tell you I can say something funny. My mom calls me every day and says that she’s going to kill Cheney. She’s 80. I go, “Mom you can’t go out telling people that!” She says “I’ll kill them. I’ll kill them both if I get the chance, I’ll kill them both.” I go “You can’t do that!” Ah, my little mother. "I just wanted to let you know I’m going to kill Cheney", that’s what she told me. She called as serious as can be, "I wanna let you know, I’m going to kill Cheney."
Well that’s funny because is that where you get your fire?
Well I don’t know. I think my mom was also a Castro supporter. She grew up in Havana.
Oh really, your mother lived in Cuba?
Yeah, she met Castro. That’s her claim; she met Castro when he was a young rebel. My mom grew up in Havana. She lived there for a long time.
Do you have any theory – this is always something that I’m curious about – as to why the U.S. still has sanctions against Cuba?
It just seems more like an ego thing.
Yeah I mean that just really what it comes down to.
So now when you lived your punk rock life – I’m going to go back to band talk for just a second – and then you left your band and they went all crazy hair metal and did this whole Guns N’ Roses tour and you know –
I made my share of bad music also. I mean the bass player Mike – Mike the TSOL bass player- he got into me one time... “Well look at all this shit you did.”. I go, “Yeah, but I didn’t do it under our name.”
Yeah there you go. Now how did you recover from that? How did you first of all, get the name back?
Well okay... we went to were there was no original TSOL members in the band at all. So there was no original members left at all. So then someone offered us a lot of money to do a reunion show. And so that was in 1989 so that was six years after we broke up. And we did a reunion show and then later on after that all the guys in the band got clean. Cause there was like a lot of drug problems you know, just full craziness going on.
So in 89’ you weren’t sober yet either were you?
I was, yeah. Yeah I actually got clean on the first week of 1989. But the rest of the guys, no.
And they’re clean now?
Yes, clean or dead.
That’s right your drummer passed away. Now what was your poison?
I mean for me it was just booze, pills, cocaine, weed, hash, mushrooms. You know just basic high school.
So whatever party you were at you’d indulge.
Yeah, I was a nut. I used to think I didn’t have a problem because I didn’t shoot up and I didn’t take acid. So my whiffing inhalants, taking pills, doing coke, smoking hash, drinking... I could hold a crazy amount of booze. You know I used to have a trick I used to do. I would take a bottle and clench it in my teeth, and then tilt my head back and pour it down like a Sparkletts bottle.
Yeah, it was bad news but because I didn’t shoot up or take acid I didn’t think I had a problem.
Now when did you realize that you did have a problem and how did you overcome that?
When somebody suggested it to me, like somebody brought it up. They said “Hey, why don’t you go down to this place. You know, you got a problem.” I was actually insulted a little bit. It’s been brought up before to me but I was kinda insulted by it. You know its like hey look at him he’s got the problem not me. Even though my life at the time was complete insanity.
Right, you were too high to really grasp that.
Well it wasn’t even the fact that I was too high. It was that I was so completely self absorbed that I had no concept of what was going on. Basically, whatever I’m going to do is the right thing to do. If you’re against me you’re wrong. If I can beat you, I’m going to. "Fuck you"... I mean there were people that used to joke “Hey if you haven’t been beaten up by Jack you’ve never been in a band with him”.
And that was because you were out of control basically.
I was completely out of control. See, here’s what people don’t really understand about the drug abuse and the alcohol abuse: there’s a big difference between people being addicted to a substance and actually needing the substance to basically cope and that’s the trouble. With like a real alcoholic or you know, an addict it’s like they need it. A lot of the times it’s what saves their lives. Which is crazy but its like hey, either your going to kill yourself or you going to get some relief, you know, from whatever it is. And the bottom line was I got so self absorbed, so self-centered, so egoed out, that I was constantly fighting for stuff to go my way. It wasn’t going my way you know, I got warrants out for my arrest, I’ve got people trying to kill me. It was just, you know, it was insanity and I needed to like calm down, take a couple of pills, relax, have some drinks, smoke a little hash, you know whatever it was to feel better. But then I was doing it so much that it had gotten a hold of me. But when I quit doing it, it was worse. So it’s like I got worse when I stopped instead of getting better.
And you did you get past that?
Like, a lot of work.
And did you go to an actual rehab facility or was it a meeting?
No, I didn’t have any money, I mean they were trying to put me in a mental hospital. But I didn’t have any money and I ran away the night they went to the hospital to go get me. It was actually pretty funny because I punched some windows out in the house. They had me on the table and they were stitching me up. They sent my brother over because my parents, my mom, at the time, had had enough. I was still living with her, and it was like they just wanted to put me in a hospital because they sent my brother to help me. The police were coming to take me over to the mental hospital, and they sent my brother to help out. And I told them that it wasn’t my brother even though I knew it was.
That’s quick thinking.
Yeah it was (laughs). I was laying on the table just stitched, when he came in. He doesn’t really look like me. So I said... they go, “Hey, your brother is coming here to help you out,” you know, blah blah blah. And I’m laying on the table and I go “Hey that’s great, that’s great.” All the while I’m thinking how I’m going to get out of this cause they’re stitching me up at the time. When my brother walked in I looked at him and said “Who’s that guy?” And they go “That’s your brother.” I go “Hey, look, you’re right I need to rest and I want to go rest. I agree with you guys, but that’s not my brother.” I go, “You know people are out to kill me that’s not my brother.” I go “Look at him he doesn’t even look like me, come on man! Please don’t send me with him.” And they looked at him, and he didn’t look like me. So they asked him if he had ID, and he had no ID on him. So it was pretty funny. So they’re looking suspicious at him and he goes out to the car to get his drivers license and when he went out to the car and all the attention was averted. I got up off that table and I ran.
And they didn’t catch you?
No, they didn’t catch me.
So how did they finally get you help? Or did you do it yourself?
I did it myself.
Oh okay. So you just got tired of running and fighting it -
Actually, I married an underage girl. I wanted her to get clean. I said I would support her. I was like, "Hey, I’ll support you so you can get help. I’ll go to the meetings too". Then she ended up leaving and I ended up staying.
Now is she still clean too?
No. I heard from her I guess she’s been drinking a little bit. I mean the problem is that’s probably going to lead her back to the heroin so, you know.
Oh that’s not your current wife.
No, not at all, no.
Oh okay so
how underage was the first one?
And she was that hardcore huh?
Yeah, well I think I married her when she was like 15 maybe or 16.
Wow, and how old were you?
25 or 26.
Yeah that’s pretty much... that’s quite a gap when they’re that age.
That’s a pretty big gap.
So you ended up staying in the meetings and she left? Then did you get clean and decide that if she can’t stick with it then you would have to move on?
No, I just for some reason, I believed them when they said “Hey, you don’t understand that your really sick.” For some reason I believed them. You know and they were totally right. I mean cause really the problem is when you get down, when you learn a little more about the disease and everything, once you get past the phase of addiction like when you get clean, like when you get all the symptoms cleaned out of you everything. Not the symptoms, you know the…
The physical dependency?
Yeah, yeah, when you get past that. When all the – what’s the word – all the stuff that’s inside of you.
I can’t even know what I’m – anyways, but once you get that out of you, you start dealing with the real problem of why you stuck it in you the first place. See what people don’t understand a lot of times, like a lot of the 12 step programs, is that they think that those stop you from getting high but they don’t have anything to do with that. Even if you look at some of the books, they don’t even tell you how to stop. If you really like look at the Alcoholic’s Anonymous book it doesn’t tell you how to stop drinking in there.
Yeah I think it tells you basically that one day at a time principal right? Where you just don’t even think of a plan to do it the day after tomorrow?
No that’s not in it either. Like they encourage you to think. See a lot of misconceptions about these programs are from what people that don’t really know what’s going on. Guys you know who have abused it or changed it. I mean its basically about not going back to get loaded. That’s what the program is about.
So how long have you been sober?
A little over 19 years.
And you’re pretty passionate too about going to your meetings and helping others get through it. Do you think what you think keeps you in line is your passion and dedication to that cause?
I mean, yeah, because it keeps it in my face. You know what I’m saying? I mean, I see it all the time. I’m constantly surrounded with it. But even if you look, yeah, it goes back even further. You know we talk about helping others... it’s the same thing that applies to us. You know, reaching out and helping each other...volunteerism. It’s the same philosophy I brought into politics that came from that. You know, it’s the same thing. If you look at the makeup of any human being of mind, body, and spirit any of that is just how we are made up. So basically, a healthy individual. Whether or not you’re an alcoholic or an addict no matter what you are, you have to be doing some sort of healthy activity in each one of those areas. Like what are you doing for your body? Are you just cramming it full of cigarettes, are you cramming it full of sugar and caffeine? Are you taking care of yourself, are you getting rest, are you healthy, are you getting exercise? Basic, basic, basic. Same thing with your mind, what are you doing with your mind? You know, are you thinking, are you reading, are you putting your mind to use? It’s like you hear that over and over and over again. They talk about that elderly. Hey stay involved, take activity, do something to think. So then on the spiritual side it’s not just prayer it’s getting out, it’s sticking a hand out, it’s helping people. So any human should be operated in all three of those fields at all times.
I feel that you would be a good person to know. You’d be a guy that I could probably pick up the phone at three a.m. if I was in a crisis and you’d talk me down from it.
That’s what I do.
I think you would have made an excellent governor of California. I really do for that reason, you know? I think that you have a true passion in caring nature that you do that. So do your friends do that? Do your friends call you?
All the time.
Really, so you’re the go-to guy?
Yeah I take 3,000 calls a month.
No you don’t. Do you really?
Yeah I do. In my phone bill anywhere from a monthly 2,500 to 3,000 calls a month.
And now who’s calling you?
Well, it’s in and out... it’s also in and out because I’m making call. It just depends. I mean, I go out a lot. I talk to a lot of people, go out and give lectures on this business. You know what I’m saying? So it’s a lot of people anywhere. I mean I constantly throw it out.... "Hey if you need anything, call me."
Right and your sincere about it though. I get that total vibe from you. I mean because some people just say that but I think you really mean that and that’s amazing about you. And I think if people had seen that and if Schwarzenegger didn’t steal that election basically I honestly think that –
I’ve had teachers that said that to me. You know, I had people that said I actually got jobs offered after the election. You know, from people calling up and saying hey would you be interested in working for this Assembly Men you know, "representative 'so and so' would you be willing to work for them?" So these people were talking to me about getting involved and doing that. I had a lot of teachers when I went and spoke at these schools that said, Hey look, please don’t walk away from this."
So they saw that in you, you know?
Right, but I don’t necessarily know if that’s the right way for me to go though.
Why? Because it would be for profit?
Well, no. I mean, you have to be able to feed your family. I wish I was a little more profited. Same with my wife. My wife wished that also. You know, I actually just took a job along that field where its very profitable doing the same type of thing. I was actually working with this guy, you know, with a crazy amount of money. And they sent me with him as almost like a coach. Like a live-in kind of counselor deal. And it was just intense. I just had to be totally honest with the guy and say, "Look... I don’t want anything you got. Your plane, your house, nothing". I explained to him, "You know, you fire me and guess what? I’m on a plane and home tomorrow. I’m going to have little 8-year-old’s arms wrapped around my neck, and I’m going to be getting kisses, and I’m going to be surrounded by people that I love, and who love me. I go, and you're going to just be sitting here miserable". And that’s just the way it is. But I also told him, "I’ll tell you also... right now you could fire me this minute. You could fire me, send me home, and you could call me tomorrow and say you need help. And I’d say come on down and sleep on my couch." So a lot of people they don’t understand that.
Do you feel that that straight talk helped him? Because he was probably someone who was used to people saying yes and doing what he wanted but do you feel that made a difference?
I don’t know if it does or not. I mean people are going to hear what they’re going to hear when they’re ready to hear it. I hate it. I mean, I know that sounds like such a load of shit to say something like that, but it really is the truth... you know? There’s some stuff that I’ve learned that’s great. It’s like not holding resentment to people that are doing things, that are acting out, because they’re just not awake. They’re not aware that other people matter besides themselves, and you can’t get mad at people for what they do in their sleep.
Right, and then they have what’s called I guess the moment of clarity where they kind of astro-project and look at themselves or they don’t and they die right?
Yeah, sure! Yeah... with anything, too I mean it’s not just, you know, I mean addicts and alcoholics don’t have the market corned on spiritual linking. You know what I’m saying I mean, you hear it all the time. Guys sitting there and they look back and they take look at themselves, they’re not happy with what they see, they’re not happy with they way they act, what they’re doing, boom. They make a total shift. Shift in thinking, shift in action, I mean you see it happen all the time. But the trouble is that I think that it’s stressed so much with addicts or alcoholics that we’re incapable of making that shift until we get the chemicals out of our body.
Now you’re very opinionated, I mean you appear to very educated. I don’t know what your education is but you’re very insightful and such. Have you ever thought about writing about your life or biography or anything of that nature to help people?
Yeah it seems a little presumptuous. That’s right, check me out I can help you. I mean it’s a little, you know, but yeah I’m working on a project with a guy right now. So we’ve been just kinda like, doing some work on it and we’ll see what happens.
I think you have some good thoughts you know, and it can go in all different directions. I mean you can talk about politics or you could talk about addictions or I mean you could even have a little mini -series, I think, of different topics you could touch on.
Yeah it’s trouble that they have, yeah that’s also a problem with some people they have with me because they can’t put it together. You know... look it here’s some guy who’s doing underage marriages but he’s running for governor, blah blah blah, you know what I mean? It’s a mess.
But your also one who seems to be able to reflect and have self-reflection and learn from your mistakes so I guess that’s one argument.
And the trouble also too is the difference between theory and practical applications. You know, a lot of it’s like I’m a genius at theory and I’m a moron at practical.
Now do you think when you ran for governor do you kind of think the whole circus atmosphere with Gary Colman and Larry Flint and Mary Carey and Gallagher and everyone else who threw their hat into the arena. Do you think that took away from your ability to get out there and tell people what your about?
Also lack of funds. That had a huge part of it. I mean... you just don’t have the money. I mean, first of all, to be completely realistic you’ve got to look at my past. If I got even at the point to being dangerous to them...drug use, underage marriages, you know all sorts of sexual antics just all over the place... just trouble. So even if I got close to being remotely dangerous I’d be attacked on all fronts. That’s just, you know, right away but not having the money to even put myself in the position to sit down on a basis, to get over to talk to people. So I mean, the guy that was helping me with the campaign...we won a lot of converts over. But there were a lot of people saying “Hey Jack I’m fully for you, please keep going. Why don’t you run for assemblymen, representative, you know something?"
And will you? Do you have any future aspirations to do anything like that?
I don’t know. And that’s another thing... my education came from books. I don’t have a degree. I didn’t graduate college I just, you know, studying, studying, and studying. And that was something else I told the kids. It was like, "Hey, you can be sitting around on the internet jerking to porn or whatever the hell you’re doing. Hey, go do whatever you do then spend the next couple of hours researching, reading, going through stuff" you know? It’s unbelievable the amount of information we have right there at our fingertips and I use it constantly. Reading, studying, reading, studying, all over the place.
Now did you get a chance to actually debate anybody when you ran for governor?
You didn’t. So was it that you weren’t taken as seriously because of the whole circus atmosphere?
Yeah of course it was. But I mean, you gotta look at it what’s the first thing they say “Oh punk rock guy is running for governor.” So, I don’t know. I don’t know what’s going to happen. I might end up on a State Assembly. I’m not sure... we’ll see what happens.
Well I hope you do. Now what are your future plans or aspirations with your band or with your counseling or any newfound career or anything? What projects are you going to work on?
Well I have a side band that I do called the “West Coast Dukes” and it’s really mellow. It’s like orchestra music. You can look it up on Myspace. It’s "Jack Grisham and the West Coast Dukes".
Oh okay yeah I saw that and didn’t you change you’re name for that like Jack Lloyd Jones or something?
Well I always use that little name but yeah. I just put it on there as a joke.
I figured a lot of that was you kidding around.
Yeah I do that because the one thing I’ve always had a side that’s laid back and I just want like really pretty, I love pretty music. It’s like I’m a sucker for pop I can’t help it. So I get in bands and they’ll be playing all hard music and I’ll be like, "I don’t want to do that anymore I want to play something soft" you know, blah blah blah. Quit that and do something else. So but now I do TSOL and as a side project I do this “West Coast Duke” thing. So I do them both at the same time.
Oh okay so your getting in touch with your feminine masculine side I guess.
I don’t know actually the “West Coast Dukes” project is a lot more masculine than I am in TSOL. Because part of it, I joke around cause a majority of those guys are like hardcore tough guys. So I like to just slap on the kind of flaming on and screw with them. Yeah, well, what was funny was a guy tried to attack me one time it was really funny. So he’s up in the front he’s yelling at me he’s yelling. I’m wearing a dress he’s screaming at me calling “Hey faggot!” he’s yelling, I mean he’s going nuts. So anyways he kept going on and on and on so in between song I look at him and I say “Hey man what’s going on?” so he goes “Fag!” and I go “You know what, I got a lot of gay friends. They spend a lot of time, I don’t want to generalize or anything but my buddies spend a lot of time at the gym taking care of their bodies and getting in great shape.” I go “And you know what? You look like you’ve been working out punk.” He jumped over the barricade. It took like five bouncers to pull him down like cause he just wanted to kill me.
You know you’re a big guy I can’t imagine anyone lunging at you like that.
They didn’t lunge, they come up.
Wow, so were they stupid or just drunk?
I don’t know.
That’s funny so –
I did get beaten up once.
But it was a bunch of guys.
Yeah okay, I mean your so huge I just can’t picture it. I mean your not fat huge I mean your tall and you know you’re very muscular.
I’m not angry in any way. Well I can’t say that, that’s not necessarily true. I mean like I don’t try to act like that.
So what are your songs about in “West Coast Dukes”? I know what your TSOL songs are about you know a lot of government, political and you know and then in your song “Code Blue” is about Necrophilia.
They’re actually really hopeful. A lot of are basically built kind of around the same things I’ve been talking to you about. You know, just like not necessarily saving people but helping them save themselves.
Oh okay now do you have an album out?
No well we just started doing it we haven’t released it yet but there’s a whole. Yeah I’ll send you a thing if you want I’ll send them to you.
Yeah I’d love to here it and I’ll write about it on my site too.
Yeah but a lot of it is like, it’s very positive. There’s some negative stuff, you know, but the majority of it is very positive. I mean it’s sad but it’s very positive.
Right, it’s like you’re putting forth some more of a message and it might come from a dark place but the end results is a learning experience maybe. Like a storytelling kind of thing or something.
Yeah but a little bit yeah.
Okay that’s neat now where do you guys play? Are you touring?
We just started putting the band together right now. Greg Kuehn, the piano player from TSOL... it’s he and I that in the band. So we just started putting the band together so we basically did the record, he and I did the whole record by ourselves. And now we’re just putting the band together and we’re just getting ready to start playing.
Oh okay now do you think you’ll play outside of southern California?
I doubt it.
Really? So just more local –
I just don’t know who would like it. You know like a lot of people now will put up with us because I’ve been around for so long. So they’re more willing to come out and listen to something like that. The trouble having the TSOL name involved with any of that a lot of people that would attract wouldn’t enjoy it.
Now I don’t know because do you remember when X first came out and they were so hardcore and John Doe was really country. And I think people were pretty respectful to his change, you know to his change to his switching gears in the middle.
I don’t know to a lot of these people country is considered cooler.
Even lounge music?
Are you kidding? Jack Jones was totally cool I loved him.
Well yeah you see that’s funny that’s where I took the Jones from.
Oh did you really? You know I went I saw him once in Redondo Beach at that little club they used to have out there. I forget what it was called but I don’t know if he died or what but I went and saw him in the 90’s. It was probably the best concert I’ve ever been to.
Ah, that’s great. You see and some of this stuff is real loungey but it’s like serious loungey. It’s not like we’re fucking around.
Do you ever lay on the piano?
No, that’s what I’m saying it’s more, you know, it’s more kinda like rocksey a little bit or Bowie during the “Young Americans” spirit. I mean we actually had been working on covering “Can You Hear Me” off “Young Americans”. But if you go on Jack Grisham and the West Coast Dukes if you look through two exact sites with the same name so if you look some of the songs are up there.
So now my final question for you is what of all the things you’ve done in your lifetime, in your career, what would you like your legacy to be? What do you want to leave behind?
I don’t know. Well, I don’t think has anything to do with the music or any of that crap.
Right, do you think it’s more of a message than anything?
I mean I would hope so. I mean the one thing you know, some of the guys, some of the men and women that I’ve been able to help them find their way back, I think just seeing that is the best. Because you know their kid’s aren’t going to suffer this you know some bit of healing. I did a lot of damage so you know what I’m saying? I’ve got a lot of payback to do. And there’s just you know there was a lot of damage that I’ve done. So I think you know, there’s a thing in the book of James in the Bible that and it says that even bringing one person back towards God covers a multitude of sins. Now if you just look instead of looking at the word “God” as an entity if you look at the word “God” as caring kindly for others you know, thinking of other people you know basically not doing damage. So if I can continue on that path and to bring people back to that and to look and to be aware and to care more for others and to not continue to damage and to heal the family then that’s I think what I would probably would like about.