Produced by guitarist Warren Fitzgerald, the album features the band’s current lineup, including Fitzgerald, singer Dave Quackenbush, renowned studio drummer Josh Freese, and bassist Joe Escalante, who remains the longest-running member of the group. Despite the band’s tongue-in-cheek humor, nonsensical lyrics, and downright silliness, The Vandals’ musicianship is no joke. The four-piece is in top form on Live Fast, Diarrhea – from Freese’s rapid-fire drumming and Escalante’s tight bass lines to Fitzgerald’s relentless, hard-driving guitar lines, and Quackenbush’s nimble vocals.
Highlights off the 15-track album include a cover of The Simpletons’ love song, “I Have a Date” (which also spawned the band’s second-ever music video), an unexpected punk-rock rendition of “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,” and “Let the Bad Times Roll,” which, according to its lyrics, is a “celebration of failure and losing.” Another standout tune is “Ape Shall Never Kill Ape," which pays homage to the film Planet of the Apes, while “Get in Line” chronicles the wait for rides at a certain famous Southern California theme park.
When it came to their album title, the band put their own twist on the punk-rock maxim, “Live Fast, Die Young,” while Live Fast, Diarrhea’s cover image also does not disappoint. The jacket features a drawing by Warren Fitzgerald, with a “No Photo Available” stamp across it. Now the stuff of punk-rock lore, the guitarist’s rendering of a man shooting an airplane was apparently intended to be a concept for the album art, complete with the misspelled “Diarrea.” An internal memo, printed in the album’s liner notes, stated that the band was forbidden from using such a photo.
In 1995, under the wing of the recently established Nitro Records (founded by Dexter Holland and Greg K. of The Offspring) the band was in solid company ahead of their debut with the indie, joining labelmates like AFI, Guttermouth, T.S.O.L., and, of course, The Offspring. By the mid-’90s, the world was primed for bands like The Vandals, thanks to the mainstream rise of acts on the So-Cal punk scene, like Pennywise, Sublime, and Rancid. Following the release of Live Fast, Diarrhea, The Vandals set off on extensive tours of North America and Europe and earned a coveted spot opening for fellow Orange County natives, No Doubt.
“Revisiting Live Fast, Diarrhea 25 years later is surreal in the fact that it reflects a time when we just didn’t care,” says Escalante. “For the first time, we decided to make a record ourselves – with no outside money, interference, or agenda.” He recalls, “Warren produced the tracks and we all marinated in it for a month or so in a friend’s basement, recording our rawest creation ever. It seems like a band’s first record to us. Does it sound amazing? Does anybody’s first record sound amazing? Maybe not, but the songs are the kind of honest nonsense that has defined our band and we are very proud of it.”
Since forming in 1980, The Vandals have released a total of 10 studio albums, including their 1984 full-length debut, When in Rome Do as the Vandals, their best-selling 1998 LP, Hitler Bad, Vandals Good, and 2000’s Look What I Almost Stepped In…. Throughout the years, the group has reconvened to entertain multiple generations of fans on tour (while a long list of notable guest artists have also joined in for dates, including Avenged Sevenfold’s Brooks Wackerman, Alkaline Trio’s Derek Grant, and even Keanu Reeves, who filled in on bass for a 1993 show). In the late ’90s, meanwhile, the band made their first of many appearances at the Vans Warped Tour. They would become a sought-after mainstay at the touring festival for over a decade.
Click here to stream or pre-order the Live Fast, Diarrhea on limited-edition vinyl today. Special bundles are available exclusively at the Nitro Records store.
- Let The Bad Times Roll
- Take It Back
- And Now We Dance
- I Have A Date
- Power Mustache
- Ape Shall Never Kill Ape
- Live Fast Diarrhea
- Happy Birthday To Me
- Change My Pants (I Don’t Wanna)
- Get In Line
- Johnny Twobags
- Kick Me
- Soup Of The Day