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When the Paladins named their latest record Million Mile Club (4AD), there was not an ounce of bullshit involved. Averaging 200 live dates and 75,000 miles per year on the road, San Diego's premiere roots band passed the million-mile marker years ago. Which only made them hungry for more. Lucky for us.

Paladins guitarist Dave Gonzales started the band with high school pal Thomas Yearsley, Paladins bassist until last year, nearly two decades ago, bent on passing the music of past generations--namely Gonzales' penchant for Link Wray, and a vast sampling of country and blues--to the next. Round about five years ago, with thousands of shows and a handful of brilliant, pure rockabilly albums under their collective belt, the Paladins became a biyearly Dingo Bar mainstay, pulling into town and pulling out all the stops at the now defunct club. "We're playing at a new place, because, unfortunately, the Dingo Bar isn't around anymore," said Gonzales from his San Diego home. "Miguel (Corrigan), who is a great guy, had us there many times and was a great friend to the band, hung in there as long as he could. But (current Paladins drummer and former Sultans member) Brian (Fahey) told us about this great new place called the Launchpad, so that's where we're at this time around."

Fahey, who had been in an earlier incarnation of the Paladins--the one that recorded Let's Buzz for Alligator Records--rejoined the group following the departure of Jeff Donovan after a recent European tour. Shortly thereafter, Yearsley bowed out, making room for young bassist Joey Jazdzewski, a veteran of the James Harman Band. "It's a new line-up," said Gonzales. "Brian made what's probably our most popular record to date and toured with us for about three years before moving out to the 'Q.' Jeff was with us for about five years. Right before he left, I had just seen Brian, because we were playing the Dingo one night and the Sultans were playing across the alley (at Brewster's Pub). So I went over on my break to check them out, and Brian came over on his to hear us and wound up sitting in. Afterwards, he said, 'You know if you ever need me, I'm ready,' so I called him up after Jeff left, he came out to California, and we started working out the sound."

With their membership in a state of flux recently, Gonzales says he's more thankful than ever that the Paladins are still playing. "It changes, you know," he said. "You can play the same songs with new guys, and it sounds a little different. But Brian's a way-back-in-the-pocket drummer and Joey's a way-back-in-the-pocket bass player, and we just all clicked."

"It's taken about a year for Brian and I to really get locked in, but it's really starting to feel good. A number of record labels are interested in making the new record, so we've just got a couple of weekends before it's rehearsal time and demo time. Hopefully, by the end of the year we'll have a new disc recorded," he continued.

The Paladins' sound, according to the Guild-slinging Gonzales, is rockabilly in its purest form. "We stay pretty rootsy about the songwriting thing. We're not big political or ballad writers. We're honky-tonk, rockabilly with a little blues in there," he said. "We really like the vintage trip. That's what the Paladins have always been about--Link Wray, Elvis Presley, the Beatles, the Stones--that early sound."

Gonzales credits his mother for sparking his interest in music, an interest that has yet to pass. "She was hip, you know. She bought all the cool records when they came out and supported our garage bands. I'm lucky that I got turned on to that music and never shied away from it. I've always just really liked early rock 'n' roll, rockabilly and blues."

And with the recent rockabilly revival still on the upswing, Gonzales is more excited about the Paladins than ever. "It's great, man. It's coming around again, and a lot of young people are coming out to our shows to hear rockabilly," he said. "When we were starting out in the early '80s, people didn't know what rockabilly was."

By Michael Henningsen, Weekly Wire

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