Photograph by Dave Lepori
Forgotten but not gone: The longtime San Jose punks led by Gordy Carbone (second from right) are rehearsing a new album.
Punk's Not Dead
One of San Jose's most important punk bands, the Forgotten, return on the eve of their 10th anniversary
By Steve Palopoli
WHEN the Forgotten played their San Jose comeback shows in April, they didn't live up to their name. Instead, their gigs at Johnny V's—with shows every Wednesday for the entire month—were packed with fans who remembered them. Other musicians representing the heart of the local scene showed up to share the stage with them for a song or two or 12.
All this for a band that hadn't put out a record since 2003, and had virtually dissolved in 2004, with frontman Gordy Carbone rejoining the Rancid side project Lars Fredericksen and the Bastards, and then taking time off to marry his girlfriend of 18 years.
"I could not tell you why people are still interested," says Carbone with a laugh. But even before their homecoming, he had sensed that the Forgotten weren't finished. What he didn't count on was how much of an audience still existed for the band's unique ability to pull the values and sound of old-school punk kicking and screaming into the 21st century.
In 2007, the band plans to celebrate its 10th year with a new record. This year, they appeared in Susan Dynner's documentary Punk's Not Dead, sharing cinematic space with the likes of the Ramones, Bad Religion, the Exploited, Dead Kennedys and Carbone's heroes in GBH.
It's been a wild ride since he first discovered punk rock as a teenager growing up in Campbell (he still proudly calls himself a 95008er). That's also how far back he goes with Rancid's Fredrickssen, who was best man at his wedding.
"Lars and I were in our first band together," says Carbone. "We were 16 years old. We thought we were going to bring Oi to the States."
That band was the Knowhere Men, and while he shakes his head now and smiles when he looks back at their naiveté, Corbone has developed over the years into one of the most knowledgeable and respected punk statesmen to come out of this area. He can wax poetic on the importance of the landmark 1982 compilation Punk and Disorderly (even breaking into an impromptu rendition of Blitz's "Someone's Gonna Die"), talk about the significance of suburbia in the American punk movement or discuss Sept. 11 conspiracy theories. And his faith in the power of punk rock is unshakable.
"You see a lot of musicians who decided to play punk. We're punk rockers who decided to play music," he says of his band. "It's the color of my skin. It's my ethnicity. I am an American punk rocker."
In 1997, the Forgotten put together a six-song demo tape and signed to TKO Records in San Francisco. They released a couple of albums, including 1998's Veni Vidi Vici, which included the song that has become their anthem, "Fists Up." They did their first tour in 1998, supporting Peter and the Test Tube Babies. In 2001, Corbone rejoined Fredericksen for an album with the Bastards.
After that, the Forgotten really took off. They went to Europe for a third time, toured Japan and the United States. Many in the local scene considered them the most popular live band in San Jose.
But then Corbone rejoined the Bastards for a second record and tour, also pulling away the band's guitarist, Craig, who would later wind up in a Blink 182 spin-off.
"At the time I though it was going to be a big boon and help the Forgotten," he says of his second Bastards stint. "But it was only good for me. As a band decision, it was poor."
By the end of it, there was another problem—Corbone was burnt. But over the last year, he's rediscovered his passion for the band. They're working on the new album for BYO Records, and the April gigs were an important step.
"When we saw that love that came out, it reaffirmed the fact that we're not irrelevant," says Corbone.
He's not too surprised, though—San Jose fans have always had his back, and he theirs.
"Here in San Jose, I've bought just as many drinks for my fans as they've bought for me," he says. "I think San Jose is just so close-knit we all support each other. We get each other. San Jose is very, very different from all of California. We don't let anything go—it's very East Coast. We're not a town to back down."
The Forgotten play with Vice Squad Oct. 21 at the 418 Project, 418 Front St., Santa Cruz. Tickets are $10 advance, $12 at the door.
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