Now what punk band is made up of a lead singer who is a rapper in the hip-hop, punk rock group known as the Kottonmouth Kings, former Descendent's ex-guitarist Doug Carrion, former Pennywise bassist Jason Thirsk (R.I.P.), a drummer's whose drum set rests on a BMX bike, and even a cameo by the horror-core rappers the Insane Clown Posse?
Only Orange County's Humble Gods.
To my knowledge I doubt many have heard of this short lived band. They were only together for this album that was released in 1996 and then went their separate ways after the death of Jason Thirsk. If it wasn't for my interest in a little bit of rap music, the Kottonmouth Kings, I would never have discovered this Punk Rock Diamond in the Rough. I've never heard their name mentioned anywhere outside of the Kottonmouth Kings music so I'm unaware as to whom else may know about this group.
Upon my first listen almost two years ago, I immediately heard early Rancid in the sound of this album as well as obvious influences of Pennywise as well as other similar style Punk bands from the Southern California area. A lot of the chants and easy sing-a-longs could be described as closely related to those by the Dropkick Murphy's or even Face to Face. As I listen to it now, it still has that similar tone that is often labeled as the "Epitaph" or "Fat" sound.
Produced by Julian Raymond and Phil Kaffel, No Heroes starts out w/ a bar room chant for their guitarist, Ricky Vodka (who oddly enough was a pen-pal of serial killer John Gacy, which is displayed in the song "Animal"), to, well…drink. The song then explodes w/ a drum roll that reminds of something off of Civ's "Set Your Goals", as the first track "Fucked Up," plows through your ear drums, a song about all the downsides of drinking a little too much. The song features powerful guitars melodies from Punk legend Doug Carrion and Ricky Vodka, strong drumming from Lou Gaez's custom low-rider bicycle drum set, excellent bass lines from that can only expected form J.M.T., chants, and authoritative scratchy vocals from current rapper and record label owner, Brad Xavier. The record keeps up this similar fast pace as it churns out the rest of its tracks. "Lied & Cheated" a song about a friendship gone stale. "American Dream" which describes our dream of being cheated, lied to, twisted facts, and stolen from. "Running Out of Time" describes just that, only it expects it all to end in 1999, oops! "No Heroes" depicts the way how some of America's war veterans are treated nowadays. Even a cover of Tom Petty's American Girl! As well as eight other influential songs that are sure to have you bobbing your head.
Before I listened to the album I assumed it to be the same juvenile lyrics about marijuana and life in the suburbs that the Kottonmouth Kings displayed in their music. Talk about a shocker as a read through the CD insert filled which has incredible artwork contains lyrics, photos of the band, thank you's, and all that other good stuff bands throw in their CDs. The lyrics mostly written by Brad Xavier, are as Punk Rock as they come; ranging from drinking to girls to a pretty heavy political vibe (even though it's on a major: Hollywood), as well as everything in between. There's not too much beating around the bush with the lyrics, they're pretty straight forward.
The album isn't groundbreaking in away that it will change the way you'll view music forever. It's simply what it is, Punk Rock. Nowadays bands our trying to be diverse as possible in order to create that next big sound. When this album was released bands were playing straight up Punk Rock and that's what No Heroes does with its 15 tracks of mayhem. Plus a remix of their own song "Running Out of Time" done by the Insane Clown Posse, who would eventually become banned from Hollywood Records, who would also drop the Humble Gods shortly after the release of No Heroes.
The last I heard there are plans for the Humble Gods to record another album in the future. However, anything that goes on time-wise with Suburban Noize Records should not be taken seriously. The music though will never be the same as this marks the last recording of bassist and former Pennywise member Jason Matthew Thirsk. The album also pays dedication to a dear friend and world champion sky surfer Rob Harris who had died while filming a commercial in Canada. If you're looking for material outside of No Heroes by the Humble Gods, you can check out the songs "Spies," "Dying Daze," "Bi-Polar," and "Peace not Greed," (which also features Jack Grisham of TSOL fame) by the Kottonmouth Kings which features the Humble Gods playing their instruments mixed with the talents of DJ Bobby B.