Interview: Shane West

By JIM SULLIVAN  |  August 19, 2008

How do you see his fatal attraction to heroin?
I think that it was a legitimate reason to feel numb. He had a very rough life, with suicide rampant in his family. As an adolescent, he ran away from home, started a band in high school, and took acid. It was not a good mixture for the future. And he had his future well planned. [He decided the Germs would last five years, appropriating the concept from David Bowie’s “Five Years.”] If the Germs had blown up in popularity, or had what happened to the Sex Pistols, I think maybe he would’ve lasted six years, but I don’t think it would have lasted very long. His mind had gone, and his voice was leaving him as well.

Of all the Los Angeles punk bands of that era, the Germs were the noisiest, most chaotic.
I don’t think I was a huge fan when I first listened to the Germs. The voice put me off a little bit, and I think I might have been a tad more interested in X and Black Flag. Then, with revisionism and focusing on this film, there’s not a Germs song I dislike.

They weren’t much for melody.
I think you find the melody once you get more immersed in the band. There’s well-constructed pop songs in there, believe it or not — “Richie Dagger’s Crime,” “ Lion’s Share.” Pat had that sensibility, and so did Darby. One of my favorites now is “No God,” and it’s the most fun to perform. I’m attached to that group until they want me to stop.

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