The Formative Years - Rich Kids on LSD
When I first got a hold of Burkhard Jaerisch’s Flex US Hardcore Discography long before the advent of the internet, I not only devoured it but set out to get my paws on all records that were deemed worthy of a 10 / 10 rating.
While I did not necessarily agree with Burkhard’s assessments all the time, it served as a compass to get exposed to great records independent from stylistic confines with the genre of what was considered hardcore punk.
One of the records that deserved the 10 / 10 was Rich Kids on LSD’s “Rock’n Roll Nightmare”, which I got a hold of in 1991 and which has not left an iota of significance as it remains an insanely great full length.
RKL was founded in 1982 and emerged out of the Nardcore / Mystic Records conglomerate with their initial musical focus on rudimentary early West Coast hardcore, as their first 7” “It’s a beautiful feeling” attests to.
It was followed by their first full length “Keep laughing” in 1985.
While essentially still playing raw skate core, the full length already shows the potential and how quickly the band evolved musically. However, the following album “Lifestyles of the Rich Kids on LSD - A Rock N Roll Nightmare” released on Alchemy Records in 1987 was a veritable game changer.
Rock and metal influences were weaved into rhythm and blues based licks, all of which was played mind-blowingly fast and tight in a manner unheard of from punk rock bands.
When I first listened to it, I felt like lightning was caught in a bottle and I could not believe the musicianship, attitude and how perfect their delivery and overall presentation was.
Needless to say, Europe went gung ho for RKL and their first tour of the old world was documented with the live album put out by Berlin’s Destiny Records – the very same label that then re-released the Mystic Records era releases.
What has always contributed to Rich Kids on LSD as a band was not only their sonic output, but the craziness of their antics, which was fuelled by constant drug abuse and partying, eventually leading to the first breakup in 1989.
Years later and after having watched a myriad of VHS tapes of their incredible live performances – it must have been in 1994 – I finally got to see RKL live, which was a disappointment par excellence.
Unbeknownst to me, the “Reactivate” album from 1993 on Epitaph Records were originally recordings from the band Slang, which was founded after the breakup and perpetrated by the ex-members.
While not being a bad records per se, if you like funk and straight-lined rock that is, it was a drastic departure from the DNA of what made RKL great and the tour was a disasters up until the point when original singer Jason Sears was flown in to continue the remaining dates to focus on their pre-Reactivate oeuvre.
Unfortunately, I only got to see them at the beginning of the tour. Following that experience and given my teenage stoic outlook on things and juvenile righteousness, I stopped listening to RKL stante pede, even though word around the campfire has that they returned victoriously many times since before unfortunately the lifestyles of the band members caught up with them and took the ultimate toll.
With the niche RKL carved out for themselves, their talent and their compositions, the influence of Rich Kids on LSD on progressive punk rock at large and specifically melodic hardcore cannot be overstated as they created the blueprint that a myriad of bands on Fat Wreck Chords and Epitaph based their first attempts on.
Enjoy the landmark album that is “Rock’n Roll Nightmare”: