Since the early ’90s, Valley punks Glass Heroes have opened plenty of local shows for touring bands, but none was bigger than the September 2003 slot the band scored with the Sex Pistols at Tempe's Marquee Theatre on what was the punk legends’ very last show ever.
“We had spent a couple of hours backstage with the group,” grins Glass Heroes singer/guitarist Keith Jackson. “And as we were walking out of the dressing room to play, John Lydon (Pistols singer Johnny Rotten), who was very kind, said to Steve Shelton, our guitar player, ‘Have a horrible show — I know we will.’ It was priceless!”
That night the Glass Heroes ignited the crowd, many of whom were seeing the locals for the first time, with their classic-sounding punk, as Jackson snarled at the mic and the tall, rangy Shelton stalked the stage with a sneer.
The Sex Pistols gig was the biggest show the band had played up to that point, and since then the Glass Heroes have toured the country, received plenty of label attention, earned local spins on Jonathan L.'s “The Lopsided World of L” on KUPD (97.9 FM) and repeated national airplay on Marky Ramone's Sirius radio show and Sex Pistols guitarist Steve Jones’ radio show in L.A. Now, they've just released their self-titled disc on renowned punk label Malt Soda.
Jackson grew up on the first wave of punk rock in 1970s Detroit and met Shelton and drummer Steve Davis outside Tempe's Sun Club in 1991. They've been playing together as Glass Heroes ever since, writing tunes that are true to the original punk ethos.
So what does an old-school punk such as Jackson think of today's punk rock scene? Is it full of radio-friendly corporate poseurs with funny haircuts and lame tattoos?
“Let me start off by addressing the ‘poseur’ thing,” Jackson says. “It would be unfair for me to judge anyone on their musical taste, but it's hard to look back at my life experience and the feeling that ‘punk music’ had for me in the late ’70s and early ’80s in Detroit, and to see what has happened to the pure influence (of early punk) without being a little jaded.
“Punk now seems about as dangerous as a garden hose,” Jackson laughs. “Unfortunately now, all the cliques and the corporate, over-blown Vans-Tour, Warped Fest-thingy — whatever they call it — has taken all the feeling of camaraderie and belonging to something special and just stomped the (expletive) outta the spirit and soul of what the scene was really about and put it in the (expletive) malls!”
>> Glass Heroes perform 8 p.m. Friday, July 21, at The Brickhouse Theatre, 1 E. Jackson St., Phoenix. $8. (602) 258-7880).