Jodie Foster’s Army (JFA) is a skate punk band formed in 1981. They are pioneers in the Southern California and Arizona skateboard punk culture.
JFA has released several studio albums, played hundreds of shows, and went through numerous lineup changes in their 41 years. Brian Brannon and Don Pendleton have remained the two consistent members of JFA. They signed with DC-Jam Records (www.dcjamrecords.com) in 2008 and are set to release a new album in mid 2023.
IYE: Will this album cover feature more incredible art?
Brian: The album cover was shot by Edward Colver (https://edwardcolver.com). He shot a lot of bands in the ’80s and ’90s. The Circle Jerks, TSOL, Social Distortion, and Black Flag. It is such an honor to be pbotogeaphed by Ed. We asked him if he wanted to shoot this one and he said sure. Last weekend we went to Signal Hill (for the photoshoot), it’s a notorious skateboard racing hill. Red Bull did a pretty good documentary on those races. Some people got pretty beat up, it was a wild west of downhill skateboarding. Some people ate shit pretty good too. You are not going to be able to run it out and my experience anytime you go over 35 you cannot run it out. We took a downhill board, a street board, a bank board, and another board. We had four boards each for a band of four skaters so we have 16 boards in a full size 1964 Harvester. We cruised around, we bombed some pretty hairy hills back then. The reason I’m still here to talk is when you’re going super fast like that you have a magical turning ability. I don’t know why or how, but I was able to get out of some pretty crazy situations. The Signal Hill races are where downhill skateboarding began. The races stopped after serious injuries took place.
IYE: Do they have any type of memorial?
Brian: They have Townhomes.
IYE: Are you going to tour after the album is released?
Brian: We’ll see, you know everyone’s working. We got family and dogs, we might play this one area for a week then play this area for a week you know what I mean.
IYE: Did you take piano lessons as a child?
Brian: I was trained in classical music, yeah a little Mozart, a little Bach but then I got into the Blues. Punk Rock, Psychedelic music with the organ and stuff so I do a little bit of that here. I wrote a Bo Diddley influenced tune about this guy who is the most frightening skater. It’s an ode to him and how fast he went.
IYE: Your song topics are fun!
Brian: We write songs about stuff that we know about. True stories like this one, “Don’t Get in My Way Because I Don’t Want to Get Your Blood on My Board.”
IYE: You surf too?
Brian: Yeah, the surf’s got to be really big for it to break in Arizona! I still skate too.
IYE: Where did you record the album?
Brian: We went to this guy Dave Irish’s place and he’s super good, he’s recorded pretty much all the Orange County punk bands. He’s a drummer so he makes sure the drums sound good.
IYE: How long did it take you guys to record it?
Brian: It took us two sessions, 2 days. We had it all figured out before we went into the studio.
IYE: Has your sound changed much in the 41 years you’ve been together?
Brian: Of course it’s changed but it always changes from our first album to our first EP you can hear a change to our second album it wasn’t because of us. We all just have really diverse interests and when we started we were the fastest band in the West. We all like different kinds of music.
IYE: What decade was the funnest to play music in?
Brian: They were all fun, everyday is a good old day. I enjoy what I do. I love what I do. I love the people I’m around and if it sucks I don’t want to do it. If you’re a jerk I don’t want to hang out with you. I am still skateboarding and still surfing.
IYE: Who or what inspired you to be a punk rocker?
Brian: There were some kids who lived down the street from me. These brothers, Sean and Eric. Their parents were Jehovah’s Witnesses so they hated punk rock. They outlawed it, they had The Clash, The Pistols, Devo. We listened to music and skated.
IYE: How did JFA form?
Brian: I was skating this ramp in Scottsdale and met this guy Michael Cornelius who was a bass player. I was about 13 or 14 and these punk rock girls snuck me out of my house and took us to the Hayden house in Phoenix. I ran into Michael and he said “we’re starting a skate band, we need a singer, you want to do it, can you scream?” and I get right up to him and went “rawwwwwwr” as loud as I could and that’s how I got in the band!