Channel 3 will be performing October 26 at El Corazon
A lot went into writing your favorite song, but how much do you really know


CH3's Mike Magrann Talks '80s Punk And Sappy Lyrics On "I Didn't Know"

Channel 3 will be performing October 26 at El Corazon
A lot went into writing your favorite song, but how much do you really know about it? This week Mike Magrann, vocalist of punk band Channel 3, delves into writing songs as a college kid, writing songs at his mom's house and a long overdue paycheck from ESPN.

Song: "I Didn't Know"

Album: After the Lights Go Out

Release Date: June 1983

When it was written: I'm guessing around January 1983. We'd gotten back from our first East Coast tour for the Fear of Life album. We got the call to gear up to record the next album for Posh Boy Records, so we started gathering the songs ideas we'd been cooking up. We wanted to stretch out a bit with this record.

Where it was written: In my bedroom upstairs at my Mom's house, banging away on a crappy Suzuki acoustic guitar, yelling into a portable cassette recorder. That's how it used to be done before Macbooks and Garageband, kids! Jay Lansford (Simpletones, Stepmothers and inevitable CH3 member) came out to the garage and did pre-production work with us, and he always encouraged us to go beyond the thrash boundaries and let our pop flag fly.

Favorite line in the song: "I can hold a bottle, but I can't touch love"

Which part was the hardest to come up with: The hardest part was a little power struggle in the famed Gold Star Recording Studios where we recorded the album in a few days. Robbie Fields (Posh Boy himself) saw it as a pure pop song and brought in professional background singers to add the background "oohs" and "ahhs." We fought against it, being the bratty little punkers we were, but eventually came to a truce and left a few of them in the recorded version. Love that production polish now, of course, but what do you expect? I'm a 51-year-old man!

If you could go back and change anything, what would it be: Would've made it shorter by a verse on the recorded version, as we have on the live version. Hard to tell a young band that shorter is better though, you know? You always have so much to show 'em when you're a kid. Better to just shut up sometimes ... always.

Odd fact about song: Someone told me they heard it used as background music on ESPN. Still waiting on the check.

What was your inspiration for writing the song: Musically, we wanted some kinda of GenX type danceable song that would let the chicks break up the pit.

When was your favorite time performing it live: It's always a favorite song to play. For years we wouldn't play it since it would break down the momentum of a set. But we almost always play it nowadays, and even the crustiest old punks get a tear in the eye and sing along.

What is the meaning behind the song: Pretty sappy lyrics, the kind that can only be written by an obnoxiously sincere college student that wears his heart (and his cock) on his sleeve. I mean, to try to tackle the existential aspects of love, religion and life within a 4 minute song - yow. But the lyrics did reach out to people throughout the years, something that's always been sincerely heartening to us. You feel a lot when you're young, and are confused by the very nature of the day you need to survive. And hate to tell you, but that confusion never goes away!

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