Social Distortion guitarist Jonny Two Bags steps out on his own for his unexpectedly strong debut album, Salvation Town, which is due April 1st. In advance of his offering, the man born Jonny Wickersham serves up a welcome stylistic turn with “One Foot in the Gutter,” an irresistible slab of pub rock that recalls the heyday of artists like Graham Parker and Nick Lowe.
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“This is the first track we started working on for this record,” Wickersham tells Rolling Stone. “We had tried a couple of different approaches that weren’t working so well. Then Pete Thomas [Elvis Costello’s drummer] started playing this very signature feel of his and the song just finished itself. It’s about the constant struggle to make the right choices in life. . . To succumb to some kind of temptation or to fight your way into the light. I think we all find ourselves at these crossroads many times over.”
Produced by multi-instrumentalist David Kalish (Rickie Lee Jones), the potent, roots-based Salvation Town counts a vocal collaboration with Jackson Browne (“Then You Stand Alone”), plus guest guitar work from David Lindley and sideman Greg Leisz (Lucinda Williams, Eric Clapton). Thomas played on the entire album, with bassist Zander Schloss (Weirdos, Circle Jerks, Thelonious Monster) and Wickersham’s Social Distortion mates Brent Harding and Danny McGough helping out on bass and Keyboards respectively.
As Johnny Two Bags, the Southern California-based punk veteran co-founded Cadillac Tramps and played in Youth Brigade and U.S. Bombs before joining Social Distortion in 2000 following the passing of Dennis Danell. Leading up to his own album, Wickersham co-penned several songs with Distortion frontman Mike Ness for the group’s 2004 album Sex, Love and Rock ‘ n‘ Roll and it’s follow up, 2011’s Nursery Rhymes.