Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Interview with Greg Hetson

Sports and music go hand in hand. I haven't been to an arena or stadium in the country that doesn't blare some music - usually rock music - during breaks in the action. So, it's not surprising that hidden among the 18,000 faithful that fill Staples Center most nights the Kings play is a true punk rock legend. In the last 25 years this man has toured the world over several times with multiple bands. He is a member of two of the most important and influential punk bands of all time, the Circle Jerks and Bad Religion.

And he's a Kings fan!

MayorsManor had a chance to chat with guitarist Greg Hetson recently; not just about music, but his other passion too - Kings hockey.

MM:  You were born in NY, but have lived in LA practically your whole life. So, how did you get into hockey?

GH:  I was pretty much hooked from the first time I saw it. I grew up in Hawthorne, so we went to the local ice skating rink - I think it was called Olympic Ice Arena or something like that over in Harbor City. We were just there for public skating but we couldn't skate because the ice was being used for hockey. I thought it was cool and just got into it from that moment. That was around 1971. Soon after I found out about the Kings and started going to games.

Being a fan for that long you've seen a lot of different players come through Los Angeles. Do you have one all time favorite?

Marcel Dionne. The guy was so talented. He was like Mario Lemieux, just about a foot shorter. Every time he was on the ice you just knew something great was about to happen. I loved watching him play. Actually, just recently I had the chance to meet him and he is a super cool guy. I played in Luc's celebrity game with him up in Park City. That was a lot of fun.

Sounds like it. What position did you play and did you score at all?

I was a winger. Unfortunately, I didn't get any goals. I did have about 7 shots on goal though. Just never put one in.

If you were a player on the current team, who would you be?

I'd have to be a forecheck guy. I'd be a pest. Not dirty, just a pest. Like maybe Esa Tikkanen back in the day. On the current team I'd probably be Wayne Simmonds.

Coming to games since the 70's means you've seen a lot of memorable games. Is there any one game that stands out in your mind?

Well, the '93 Finals. Of course, it was heartbreaking!  But it was good too. Good to actually see the Stanley Cup Finals in LA. There have been some double or triple overtime games in the playoffs that were pretty cool too. There was a game against Calgary back at the Forum with a disputed goal (the famous 1990 playoff game, where later Mike Krushelnyski scored to beat Vernon and win the game). I don't remember it being a goal, but they gave it the Kings.

And then there was the playoff game versus Detroit a few years ago at Staples. It went into several overtimes and my daughter had fallen asleep in my arms in the third period. I didn't want to move her. So, the longer the game went on the more numb my hand got. My pinky still has some slight nerve damage left over from that night. So, I took one for the team. (he laughs)

Athletes have lots of crazy stories from being on the road so much. What about you - anything significant stand out from all the touring you've done?

Probably the craziest thing I ever saw was a show Bad Religion did in San Sebastian, Spain. About 20 seconds into the first song the floor collapsed and all the fans fell through to the level below us. It was scary seeing all of these people in what looked like a giant sink hole. They were just looking up at us scared, not knowing what to do. Some of them had broken bones and stuff. The place was like 1,000 people over capacity. It was nuts.

Sounds scary. When you're in other countries that have hockey, like places in Europe, do ever get a chance to catch a game?

We did go see a Swedish game in Stockholm once. It was good quality, just not as intense as an NHL game. There wasn't as much hitting. I've also seen some Jr. games in Canada.

How about the Kings - do you ever squeeze in a road game while touring in North America?

Of yea, I've had the chance to see lots of road games - New York, Boston, Chicago, Toronto. We actually went to a lot of those cities and saw the old buildings before they tore them down - like old Chicago Stadium, Boston Gardens and Toronto. I've seen a few of the newer buildings too.

Any memories from those games that stand out?

Well, I loved old Boston Garden. It was so cool. I even wore my Kings shirt and the fans there were giving me shit when the Kings scored. It was a great time.

You've played with lots of other musicians in super groups or whatever you want to call them...the Kings have several other musicians as fans. If there was a super group put together of just Kings fans who else would be in the band with you?

Rob Zombie, of course, he is a huge Kings fan. Jay and Greg (from Bad Religion) are fans too. They come to games with me sometimes. The guys in the Briggs are fans. Darrin from Goldfinger. And on the last Warped Tour I was talking with one of the guys from Bayside - he was a hockey fan too. Oh yea, and we can't forget Melvin (from NOFX).

Recently you've been DJing. That's quite different from playing guitar in a punk band. How did you get into that?

A friend of mine is the manager of a bar and just said he needed somebody and asked me if I was interested. He said he liked my taste in music. Its fun. I try to play some stuff that people probably don't hear otherwise.

Is that something you plan on doing more often in the future?

I don't know. I'll probably do it occasionally.

You've obviously been to tons of Kings games, have any players returned the favor and come see you perform?

The only one I know of was Felix Potvin. We actually met him back when he was in Toronto and he likes punk music, so he came to some shows. So that was pretty cool to have him there being that I'm such a hockey groupie. But, he's the only Kings player that I know has come to one of our shows.

I see a lot similarities between being on a hockey team and being in a band. Like, the travel, everybody needing to know their role, etc. Do you see any comparisons between the two?

For sure. First off, your paid to perform. The need for good chemistry. Communication. They're a lot alike.

Actually, both need a little dysfunction to be successful too. You need that grit to sometimes light a fire under the ass of some guys. In both professions you need that team captain to sometimes come into the room and get after the other guys. It's important.

You're getting ready to tour Australia soon. What's the story with that and any plans when you get back?

Well, we (Bad Religion) leave this weekend for a tour of Australia and New Zealand. We'll be playing with NOFX.

Then in October we have a couple of shows with Pearl Jam in Philadelphia. In fact, we're playing at the Spectrum and I heard it will be the last set of shows there before they blow the place up. So, as a hockey fan that's pretty special. The Flyers made that place famous.

When all of that is finished it'll probably be time to start working on a new Bad Religion record.

Finally, if Bad religion was going to play one last show, who would you pick to open up for you?

Oh, that's a tough one. I guess I'd have to go with NOFX.

Thanks for your time. Travel safe.

Thank you. Can't wait to get back to Staples for some more Kings games once I'm home.


Big thanks to Greg for taking some time out of his busy schedule. It's always great to talk hockey with Kings fans, especially those as passionate as he is.

Someday when the Kings finally win the Stanley Cup, I hope it's Wild in the Streets all throughout downtown LA.

The Mayor


Interview with Joey from The Briggs - they sing the Kings anthem 'This is LA'

Interview with Luc Robitaille - Kings legend, member of Hockey Hall of Fame

Interview with Marcel Dionne - Kings legend, member of Hockey Hall of Fame

Old flyer photo courtesy of  *  Hetson photo courtesy of Denis Farley



  1. awesome interview... ive seen him around at Staples once or twice... hes a cool guy

  2. agree, another awesome interview ;)