Mike Ness knows it’s been eight years since his garage-rocking Orange County outfit Social Distortion released a new studio album, 2011’s “Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes.” But fans’ patience will be rewarded soon. He’s cut roughly two dozen new anthems, some dealing bluntly with his personal bete noire, Donald Trump. (One of his Sacramento supporters accused the singer of punching him in the face in concert last year over the president’s relative villainy, a case he can’t discuss.) Ness also has been writing his autobiography, temporarily shelved because he wasn’t happy with the first few chapters. Later this year, the band will play special shows celebrating its 40th anniversary. A double-record set, maybe two thematically-separate records, may be in the works.
So how are you feeling, four decades on?
I’m doing pretty good. I’m fortunate. I’m exercising a lot, and I’m still boxing a lot. And it’s funny; I’ve spent half my life searching for something, like drugs. But then I realized it was here all along. In my brain. I just needed to figure out how to trip it, you know? I just feel so good after boxing. It releases all the dopamine and I’m ready for the day. And if someone cuts me off in traffic, I’m like, “Oh, well.” I’m totally calm and I really don’t care. My family’s doing fine, too. My youngest son is out here on the road, working with me, doing tour production, and my oldest is playing guitar with Jade Jackson. So its all turned out pretty good. I’m a really happy dad.
But you’ve also been visiting your 104-year-old great aunt in Nova Scotia?
Yeah. I go back several times a year to visit her, and she’s sharp as a tack. It’s pretty inspiring. I got clean when I was 23, and I learned to really enjoy life. Now I want to live to be 100. I’ve got some friends who say, “Not me — I’m good.” But I’d like to be around for another 45 years.
Had you always known about your great aunt?
It started when I began doing research for my book, and I realized that I had no clue about my lineage or anything. So I started going back there, even though I hadn’t seen her in 30 years. And I began interviewing her. She taught school for 40 years, and right across from her house is a cemetery, with some of my great, great grandfathers in it. One of them was even shanghaied in England, but he jumped ship in Maine and escaped. And I never would have discovered any of this if it weren’t for her.
IF YOU GO
Social Distortion, Flogging Molly
Where: Greek Theatre, 2001 Gayley Road, Berkeley
When: 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 26