As a 14-year-old Atascadero High School student, Hayley Thomas sported an oversize leather jacket and subsisted on a steady diet of The Clash and The Ramones.
“What stuck with me the most — more than the music itself, which is fun and exciting and empowering — is that (punk) allows you to pursue things in your own life your own way,” recalled Thomas, who fully embraced “that message of doing it yourself and having respect for yourself and believing in yourself.”
The same indomitable spirit defines the Central Coast punk quintet Magazine Dirty.
Magazine Dirty marks the release of its eponymous album Saturday with a concert at SLO Brewing Co. in San Luis Obispo. The playbill includes two other local acts, alt-country combo American Dirt and garage-rock band King Walrus & the Magicians.
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Also in store for Magazine Dirty is a more intimate concert July 27 at The Sanitarium in San Luis Obispo.
According to Thomas, who plays lead guitar in Magazine Dirty, the band taps into the roots of punk rock.
“We all share this desire to bring a very ’70s glammy punk sort of feel with the aggressive and frenetic energy of ahardcore ’80s punk style,” Thomas explained . “Our style has definitely evolved to be kind of unique.”
Country and punk
Created in 2011, Magazine Dirty is the brainchild of guitarist Reid Cain, better known locally as the frontman of country band Red Eye Junction.
Cain discovered punk music as a seventh-grader when a friend handed him a cassette tape of Crass’s 1978 album, “The Feeding of the Five Thousand.”
“It was the gateway drug,” he recalled.
Although he found a home in country music, Cain longed to return to his punk roots.
At Camozzi’s Saloon in Atascadero, he ran into bassist Greg Cherry, who also expressed interest.
“I said, ‘Cool, let’s start a punk band.’ It was as simple as (that),” said Cain, who quickly recruited “Dirty” Curtis Campbell as lead singer and Chad Nichol as drummer.
Thomas, Cain’s fiancé and Red Eye Junction bandmate, took a little more convincing.
“I didn’t just want to be ‘a girl in the band,’ ” she explained, although she eventually realized the importance having a female member. “You bring this whole energy that changes the band from just being a sausage fest. It’s more accessible.”
All five band members have strong ties to the Central Coast business and music communities.
Cain is the owner of Dr. Cain’s Comics and Games in San Luis Obispo, while Cherry co-owns 3INK Screenprinting in Morro Bay. Campbell is a stylist at Faces & Ala Mode Salon & Spa in San Luis Obispo. Nichol is a registered nurse at Atascadero State Hospital, and Thomas, a freelance writer, is the editor-in-chief of North County Life and Swap! Zine.
Onstage, however, their alter-egos come out to play.
“Curtis is the explosive heartthrob,” Thomas explained, while Cain channels the manic energy of Rancid frontman Tim Armstrong, Cherry maintains a stoic Zen-like calm and Nichol provides a steady beat.
Her own alternate persona, “Manstomper,” is a fierce femme fatale whose domineering presence belies her slight height.
Thomas, who shares writing duties with Cain, Campbell and Cherry, said each member brings something different to the table.
Whereas her songs have an intellectual bent and Campbell’s match his onstage swagger, “Greg is very poetic,” she said, capable of a high-energy party anthem (“Teenage Lobotomy”) or a grim social commentary (“Punks and Pushers”).
Cain prefers songs that are subtly political yet approachable.
“When I write songs, I talk about things we can all relate too,” he said, such as watching one’s heroes grow old. In his song “Faded,” he muses that “All the best are dead/ All the good are faded/Glory days are at an end and they won’t be back again.”
As for Nichol? “I just play the drums,” he said.
“It’s been great. It’s been fun,” Nichol said. “That’s what I’m all about — having a good time on stage and making sure everybody has a good time out in the audience.”
Fans of all ages
According to Thomas, Magazine Dirty enjoys a wide-ranging fan base — from gray-haired grandparents to “our biggest fan in the world,” a 15-year San Miguel resident with a homemade “Magazine Dirty” patch and a red Mohawk styled by Campbell himself.
“That’s what’s so cool about Magazine Dirty: It’s all-inclusive,” she said. “And if you want to get involved, we want to have you.”
The band earned at least one more fan in April when it opened for Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine at SLO Brewing Co.
“That was probably one of our shining moments. We were so excited,” recalled Thomas, who was especially thrilled to meet one of Biafra’s roadies, an older man with a British accent.
“When he shook my hand, I was like, ‘Holy (crap), it’s Pete the Roadie,’” Thomas said. “He’s been chronicled in punk rock lore and legend since the late ’70s.”
Although Pete the Roadie apparently suffered an upset stomach earlier that night, he told Thomas after the show that “Magazine Dirty had restored him back to health and made him human again. He had the biggest smile on his face.”
“My 16-year-old self and my 26-year-old self were just freaking out,” she said with a laugh.