Don't mistake AGENT 51 as just another punk act! These four amped-up ass kickers - and Best Punk Band trophy winners at the San Diego Music Awards - come with a clear vision and focus that slashes genre borders and sharpens punk's creative edge. To put their purpose plain, these young shredders have vowed to put the "rock" back in "punk rock."
The group's third album, The Red and the Black (first for Surfdog Records), best demonstrates their artistic vitality by infusing the riff-powered drive of rock's golden age with an attitude-surging punk punch. Recorded with producer Jim Wirt (Incubus, Hoobastank), The Red and the Black reinvents '70s rock glory in a hyperactive pop-punk format where the guitars are fast, catchy, and loud. E-Rock remarks, "We take aspects of punk rock energy and emotion and mix it with good rock grooves and good time feelings. We blend classic influences with today's punk rock angst."
On their new album, AGENT 51 actually acknowledges this vision with "American Rock N Roll," a tribute to the classic rock bands that influenced their unique stylistic twist. The intensely catchy "Raised By Wolves" offers a universal take on lives that never catch a lucky break, while the more reflective "Disappear" paints a stark musical portrait of crushing emotional moments. The darkly-themed "Kiss of Death," which flowed from the group in a mere fifteen minutes, portrays the group at their inspired best. More rambunctious numbers like "Loaded" and "Hellbent Whiskey Suicide" also demonstrate the group's notion of being young and ready to party!
Of the album's standouts, "She's My Heroine" shines brightest with its over-the-top chorus, huge vocal hooks, and controversial lyrics. "The song is about being in an addictive relationship," says E-Rock. "The chorus is also a play on words, referring to the girl both as a drug and as a female hero."
Flipping back the yearbooks, AGENT 51 came together in early 1996 with three high school classmates and a bassist they imported from another popular group. Though its members grew up listening to NOFX, Rancid, and Green Day, AGENT 51 strove to distinguish themselves from their punk peers by looking to a time when groups like Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, and Thin Lizzy lit up the crowds with killer riffs and unrestrained energy. Incorporating this era into their music, AGENT 51 developed a style that gave their songs a fresh, inspired jolt that would soon crash the retail racks. San Diego indie Alphabet Records released the group's debut, Red Alert, in late 1996.
AGENT 51 decided to record and self-release their follow-up, Just Keep Running, in 1999, though the album was picked up and re-released the following year by Green Day's label Adeline Records. Buzz quickly shook the underground as AGENT 51 started sharing stages with Green Day, Lagwagon, Mighty Mighty BossTones, Misfits, Ataris, Less Than Jake, Sugarcult, Mest, Guttermouth, and the Swingin' Utters, among others. The group even played with Green Day at Berkeley's legendary Gillman Street, which marked Green Day's first Gillman return in nine years.
Around this same time, AGENT 51 competed in the Warped Tour's Ernie Ball Competition, where the group placed first in the entire nation. This victory led to Warped Tour dates in 2000 and 2001 and inclusion on the Warped Tour compilation. Furthermore, their riff-ripe punk tunes started popping up at radio, especially in San Diego where all three rock stations - KIOZ, 91X, and 94.9 KBZT - have given spins.
With band hype continuing to grow, AGENT 51 signed with San Diego's own Surfdog Records. Needing a new CD the group put together a batch of songs that truly realizes their artistic goals in pure punk rock fashion. Regarding their artistic success, Chris remarks, "We wanted the new album to be more musically and lyrically honest and transparent. In the end, we made an album that doesn't conform to the expectation of a certain sound but instead captures what we wanted to create musically and represents who we really are as people."
With their newest singles album, AGENT 51 has shown that not even time can keep the band from writing the classics!