Formed in Orange County, California in 1979, Agent Orange has been known for its compilations of punk rock with surf music, segueing the styles of bands such as Sublime, Reel Big Fish and Guttermouth. The invention of the formula known for Orange County punk sound made Agent Orange influential to fellow musicians and the action sports world. As a result, their music has provided soundtracks to major motion pictures, video games, surf and skate films, television and live sports events.
“Growing up in Southern California, I was exposed to surf culture at a very young age,” said frontman Mike Palm. “My older brother’s hand-me-down record collection had a major impact on my early musical influence. Most of the bands who recorded those records were very young and inexperienced, and as a result, their performances were primal and exciting. I can’t think of another era in music when technical ability was less important than going for a specific sound and playing with absolute conviction.”
Palm explained how when punk rock happened, the parallels between the first wave surf music phenomena and the punk scene were amazingly similar. At that point it wasn’t necessary to be an accomplished player because “anyone could jump up there and pound it out.”
Blazing the punk trail
Powered by a loyal following built up through years of live performances, the band has toured all over the world.
“I guess timing is everything because we didn’t realize that we were blazing trails until much later on,” Palm said. “What people don’t remember is that there was virtually no music scene at all when we first started out. There were almost no live music venues in Orange County at the time and no chance of unknown bands being booked in the established L.A. clubs ... I think that the fact that we had to create our own scene by playing backyard parties was sort of a blessing in disguise. We built our own scene from the ground up with hard work and dedication. It wasn’t easy, but I am proud of what we accomplished.”
Published in 2004, Tony Hawk’s “Pro Skater 4” is the fourth video game in Hawk’s series, and it features Agent Orange’s song “Bloodstains,” which was released on the band’s debut EP in 1979.
“Being an avid surfer and skateboarder during the formative years of the action sports world was an exciting time,” Palm said. “Both surfing and skateboarding (as well as skiing), were advancing at a rapid pace, and we needed some decent music to fuel our sessions. I don’t think I need to explain how perfectly punk rock fit the bill when it came along. Having our music featured in action sports video games is the direct result of that collaboration and it’s awesome to benefit from the exposure to a whole new generation of rippers.”
Back in action
After some time off the road, Palm said Agent Orange is glad to be back on tour and performing at a new venue. The band has never played at Agave before, and Palm said they are looking forward to a fresh crowd, as well as seeing old friends.
“It’s been so rad over the years working our way from only playing Denver to so many other places in Colorado,” Palm said. “No doubt, Colorado is our favorite state to play in any season.”
This Thursday, Palm said Agave audiences should expect music that is both high-energy and melodic.
“I think we send out a much more positive vibe than most other punk bands,” he said. “Our main objective is having fun and the same can be said for our following. Surely there will be some crazy action going on in the pit (it’s Colorado after all!), but everyone is super cool and it’s usually more like a big party. We like to hang out and meet everyone. We mix it up with a couple of newer tunes, some rad cover songs ripped up Agent Orange-style and all the old favorites. A good time is guaranteed for all.”