Photo courtesy of Rancid
After a trip to juvenile hall caused many of his eleven-year-old classmates to be forbidden from hanging out with him, a young Lars Frederiksen retreated into watching pro wrestling on TV. Other than the punk music his old brother was exposing him to, Lars considers this influence on his formative years to be one of the strongest in his life. Now, at forty-three, the Rancid and The Old Firm Casuals guitarist is a self-described “wrestling super nerd" who can rattle off a list of his favorite Oi! albums just as easily as his favorite matches from the Japanese independent wrestling circuit.
When asked about which wrestling promotions he’s a fan of, Lars only asks for clarification: which era of each are we talking about? No, he can’t pick his favorite promotion; it depends on his mood. Sometimes he's spending time catching up on 90s WWF stuff he missed while out on the road, other times he’s trading tapes from an alphabet soup of indie promotions to stay current. Lars has the same look of enthusiasm posing for pictures with Arn Anderson of his favorite wrestling stable The Four Horseman that young punk kids have posing for pictures with the guitarist of Rancid.
There's a feeling-out process that occurs when wrestling fans talk: they check to see how deep each others' knowledge of the squared circle really goes. I usually lose people with my knowledge of Ring Of Honor DVDs and references to The Embassy, but compared to Lars, I’m just a filthy casual. Hell, standing next to him, I might as well be wearing a fucking John Cena wrist band.
If he isn’t out touring and a wrestling event comes to the Bay Area, there’s a fair chance you’ll spot Lars in attendance. With that in mind, Noisey spoke to him about the link between wrestling and punk, PCP, and his friend CM Punk joining the UFC.
Noisey: A couple of years ago, you and I were talking about how cool it was that Dan Hardy came out to Cock Sparrer, and how he was kind of the punk scene’s ambassador to the MMA world. Now, your friend CM Punk has decided to leave wrestling and take over that role. What do you think of his choice?
Lars Frederiksen: Well, we’ll see! I know he comes from that MMA and kickboxing background, and that’s why he infused that style into his wrestling. It’ll be interesting to see. I mean, we saw what happened to Brock, although I didn’t follow the Brock thing too much after he made that change.
With Punk it seems like his decisions aren’t at all fueled by money. It’s more about passion. The way I’ve always known the guy is that he’s always trying to challenge himself in some new way, shape, or form. I watched him become vegan for six months, just to see if he could do it. I’ve never seen so much self-control in a human being. He came over to the house with Kofi Kingston one time when my mother-in-law was in town. She made some chocolate chip cookies for my son Wolfgang right after Thor had been born, so there’s a big plate of chocolate chip cookies out there—and Punk can eat, man. He didn’t touch one of them, though, and I was like, “Don’t you want just one?” and he’s like, "Nah, I’m off the sugar.” Meanwhile, Kofi scarfs down three or four of them. It’s just amazing to see a guy with that much self-discipline.
So, what do I think about his decision? You know, it’s like this, man: a lot of my friends make decisions that maybe I don’t necessarily agree with, but I back their play. If this is what he wants to do, then I back him. I know more than anybody that if he wants to do something, then no one is going to get in his way.
What intro music do you think he’ll come out to?
He better come out to Rancid, otherwise we’re going to box!
Are you watching the WWE event 'Tables Ladders and Chairs' tonight?
Nah, I’ll probably catch it later. To be honest, the only product I watch of theirs is NXT, because I think a lot of what’s going on there totally sucks. Punk was the last guy to really excite me. I mean, I love the whole Stardust thing, but it looks like they’ll probably end up feuding. I’m really surprised they haven’t made a Stardust and Gold Dust doll set yet, because I will be getting that. Cody is an amazing talent, and Dustin is so technically sound—he’s always been that way. There’s just something about the Rhodes blood line, they’re all great performers and wrestlers.
What have you been watching?
Actually, a lot of the stuff I’ve been going back to is the mid 90s stuff; I missed it a lot of it because I was out on the road so much, so I go back to it periodically.
Like the WWF stuff?
Yeah, that and WCW, plus you know I gotta catch the USWA stuff they’ve been replaying on TV. It’s amazing to see a young Booker T. I also love and always follow the Japanese stuff. I’m looking forward to the New Japan dome show card that they announced with a lot of TNA guys. That looks pretty exciting.
Speaking of Japan, you told me that WrestleMania is finally coming to town, and you’re going to miss it.
Yeah because I’m going to be in Japan on a Rancid tour! But you know, I don’t know how I feel about going to another wrestling event right now. I still love it, and Wolfgang is getting into it now so I’d love to take him. I would love to take him and see some friends, like Corey Graves. That’s who I went to see when I saw you down there at the WrestleMania pre-party, when you interviewed The Hulk!
Yeah! You we’re hanging out with him too. What did you talk to him about?
Nothing really, it was Corey. He was like, “Hey man, can I take a picture of you, me and Hogan? Because Hogan was why I got into wrestling and your bands are the reason I got into punk rock. So it’d be full circle for me.” So I was like, “Fuck yeah, dude!” So I just said, “Hi, nice to meet you,” to The Hulk, and we took a picture.
Photo via Corey Graves' Instagram
Why do you think so many punks are also wrestling fans? What’s the link?
It’s probably because it we all know who the other misfits are. I think it’s the excitement. For me, I discovered it because, when I was punk and everyone was making fun of me, wrestling was where I could go to escape. I could watch nine hours of wrestling on a Saturday, you know? You could get the fucking WWF at 10AM, then what was next? AWA at noon, then you’d get the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling from 1-3PM, then you’d get Georgia Championship Wrestling on TBS, and then, maybe if you’re lucky, you’d get a Saturday Night’s Main Event. Then, at 11PM, you’d get a Mid-South thing. So, I would just sit at home on a Saturday and absorb everything; that’s where I saw The Freebirds, and Ric Flair, and all those guys. I just loved it. I think you’re absolutely right that there’s strong correlation between punks and wrestling fans, but I don’t know what exactly it is. Most punk rockers I know love wrestling.
It’s like weird nerd stuff that other people don’t dig and you get made fun of for? Like, once you like punk you might as well like wrestling, right?
Exactly. Maybe because it’s like an outcast thing? It has that element to it.
So we know Rancid interferes with your wrestling watching plans, but how often do Rancid and The Old Firm Casuals plans overlap?
Luckily for me, not so often. Matt, Tim, and Branden all have other bands too. Rancid doesn’t tour nine months out of the year anymore, which is great because none of us really want to do that anymore. You just burn out. I don’t ever want to get up on a stage and just go through the motions. It’s not that I’ve ever felt that way, but you could almost feel that coming on. Plus, with kids, you want to make time for them. Luckily, the guys in Rancid are really gracious about it. I’ll just find out what Rancid is doing, and then plan around that.
Can you tell me the story of your first tattoo?
Oh shit, I was evelen years old hanging out at this punk rock house, and this sixteen-year-old skinhead kid, Josh, did it for me. He used two of those old slot car racer tracks. They used to make tattoo machines out of the motors and a guitar string. It kind of looked like a ballpoint pen, but was a little fatter. He had gotten a hold of some color ink, and that’s how it happened. It says, “Oi!” [laughs] That was a long time ago, man.
Now you’re a part owner of NYHC Tat. When and how did that happen?
It happened about four or five years ago. Agnostic Front's Vinnie Stigma and Murphy's Law's Jimmy Gestapo are my brothers, and they wanted to take a step back from the shop but still wanted to keep it. So, they asked me and a few of the other brothers to help it stay afloat while they took some time out, because they opened it in 1999. So Mike Valente, Tragedy, and I helped them out with it. It was like a “keep it in the family” trip. It’s a real old-style Bowery tattoo shop. Back in the late 90s, all the tattoo shops in New York City were made illegal after a hepatitis outbreak, so NYHC Tattoo was actually one of the first legal tattoo shops in NYC. It’s historic for that reason but also because of its connections to the hardcore and punk scene. It’s kind of like a museum in there, because they’ve got Raybeez’s boots and a lot of other things that are hardcore- or punk-related. So, if you’re into hardcore, punk, or skinhead music, then NYHC Tattoo is the tattoo shop you want to go to, because all the people that work there are our people. It’s like we have our own little place so you don’t have to go into one of those tattoo shops that look like fucking Walgreens. I won’t go into those shops. I like the shops that remind me of where a drunken sailor would go.
Lars and Vinny Stigma; photo by Jimmy Fontaine
You went to juvie when you were eleven?
Yeah, me and this guy Mike Newman, who’s dead now. He died a few years after this happened. He and a few of my other friends got hit by a drunk driver in Santa Cruz. So Mike Newman and I had these girls whose parents were out of town and basically said, “Come on over. We’ll be at school, but after school we’ll hang out.” So we go over there and the door wasn’t open, so we broke in. We literally drank all the booze in the house and had PCP. We smoked dust, and this dog was barking at me. I had this pack of chewing gum, so I wrapped it around the dog and it turned out to be this show-winning dog. Basically, long story short, Mike and I get into a fight, and I took this rubbery racing track that you put your matchbox cars on and was beating the shit out of him with it. He was beating the shit out of me too—he was a bigger guy than me. I ended up taking out his eyeball, but he popped it back in. It was fucking wild man, it was so crazy. I detached his retina or something. It was fucking gnarly. I don’t know what the fuck we were doing. So, even though he got busted at the same time, I got busted for breaking and entering, mayhem, cruelty to animals and a few other things.
Well, luckily, “mayhem” is pretty much the most punk charge you can get, right?
Yeah, fair enough. But I also got severe bodily harm because I took his eyeball out.
So when did you get out of juvie?
I got out and put on 24-hour house arrest. I had stolen some money from the house and bought the second Oi! record, Strength thru Oi!, with it. Then I got busted again because I filled a condom with water and threw it in the girl’s bathroom. A girl ratted me out and they put me back in because I violated my probation. It was about two weeks after I got out. I was a dumb kid.
You think maybe all that house arrest helped you to memorize all the different time slots wrestling was on TV?
Probably! I mean, it was one of those experiences where I’m glad I went through it because you figure out what it’s like to get your freedom taken away, but the only thing I really took away from it was to never get caught again. I still did fucked up shit that I would later have to make amends for in some instances. It was a really shitty feeling to realize your freedom is gone. That’s why I still go into a stall if I have a choice. I had to take a shit in front of dudes more times than I ever wanted to. I always think about that. Like, when I go down to see a Sharks game, I wait for a stall. I don’t want to take a shit or a piss in front of another human being as long as I live, even my kids. I did it enough.
A while ago we went to go get late night burritos in the mission after a The Old Firm Casuals show with Pressure Point. When we were in line you started to tell me a story about how Maximum Rock n’ Roll wrote some article about you ruining Rancid. What’s the story behind that?
Yeah! I actually still have the issue. They basically said my dumb skinhead ideology that I was bringing from the South Bay had ruined Rancid—and I had long blond spikey hair at the time! I guess maybe they knew that I got banned from Gilman, because that club was MRR’s whole thing. I got banned from there for fighting at some point in the 80’s. That’s why I’ve only been there like three times in my whole life.
Tim Yohannan, like most people, would write shit about me but no one would ever say anything to my face. It’s kind of like, “Should I waste a breath on them?” I have more respect for you if you come up and say something to me, but hippies and Internet warriors never do that. And most those people either don’t know the person they’re talking about or the whole story, or they're just doing it to score brownie points.
But I’m too old to give a fuck anymore. I’ve been involved in this music for over thirty years. I got into this when I was eleven years old. I’ve given my life to it and I love it. I’m not going anywhere. The skinhead thing was how I got started, but to me, skinhead and punk rock was always the same fucking thing. At least it was in our little scene. Some people have different opinions about that, and that’s fine. But being a skinhead isn’t about caring what other people say to you. It’s about being an individual. I’m not here to please anybody. I don’t need to be accepted or feel loved. I don’t care if you hate me. It doesn’t matter. It’s not going to change the fact that I’m still here. I’m still making music. I’m going to do whatever I want to do and follow my heart.
“Last one to die?”
Last one to die.
Matt Saincome is waxing philosophical about CM Punk on Twitter.