Tattoos, music and family saved Cycotic Youth singer’s life
Jason Brown’s life has been a rollercoaster. He kicked off his career weaseling into Sunset Strip clubs and in his forties, he turned his life around after a near-fatal motorcycle crash.
Tattoos, family and music ultimately saved Brown’s life.
“I got into a dark period after the crash,” Brown said. “I was depressed and had to make a change in life. I’m sober. I don’t drink or do drugs. I had to look at it positively.”
Brown’s career is looking up with the comeback of his band Cycotic Youth and its forthcoming album, “Cyco Up!”
Cycotic Youth is led by Brown, a third-generation Z Boy and owner of Venice’s S.T. Tattoo, which he launched with Mike Muir of Suicidal Tendencies.
In the ’80s, Cycotic Youth was a force in the SoCal punk/thrash scene and marks its comeback with “Cyco Up,” produced by Nick Jett of Terror. The title track and “Cycofied” led up to the collection’s release.
Cycotic Youth was founded in the mid-1980s and broke up in 1987 when his brother, drummer Jimmy Brown, went away to college. It was at a time when punk music wasn’t “allowed” on the Sunset Strip. The clubs were reserved for hair metal acts.
“We really wanted to play the Roxy,” Brown said. “I was 15 years old. So, we went to the studio, and we recorded a very hair metal-ish song and gave them our demo. They let us play.
“The first song we opened with was a Sex Pistols cover. The crowd started slam dancing and they pulled the plug on us. The police came and they wanted to arrest me because, well, everybody was against the government. I thank the Sex Pistols for that. We just wanted people to hear us.
“I was the 15-year-old singer. The cops said I was the ‘leader.’ My mom tried to talk them out of arresting me. It was hilarious.”
Five years ago, a promoter asked Jason to reunite the band for a show. Fans responded with such fervor that Cycotic Youth forged ahead with new music and musicians.
“We started off doing a recording with Greg Hetson, who played with Bad Religion and the Circle Jerks,” he said. “We weren’t happy with the way it was coming out. We scrapped the project and decided to go with Nick Jett. It’s heavier now.
“People have grown up and learned how to play their instruments,” he added with a laugh. “It didn’t work out with Greg, but we’re still friends.”
In the studio, Jett pushed Brown’s vocals beyond the comfort zone.
“No one has ever done that, and I’ve been recording since I was 15,” he said. “It really worked out well.”
In Cycotic Youth, he is joined by bassist Mikey Beato, drummer Bill “Stillwill” Greenwood,” and guitarists Nick Garcia and “Big” Rob Mikhail.
“We’re really happy with the way the album sounds,” he said.
This fall, S.T. Tattoo celebrates its 25th anniversary. The trade has allowed Brown to travel the world. He’s headed to Japan in late September to tattoo there.
Brown is proud of his career, which nearly ended when a woman made a left turn in front of his motorcycle in 2017. As a result, his left leg was amputated.
Once again, his mom was his rock.
“I had to make a change in my life,” he said. “I was going down a dark hole. I wanted to be there for the kids.”
When he decided to return to work, he headed to Cal Center for the Arts for a show.
The organization turned a room into a makeshift shop. Muir is no longer a partner in the tattoo business, but the shop still pushes punk rock, cars and music.
“The show was my first tattoo in six months,” he said. “I was still learning how to walk on my prothesis. It was very eye opening, but it’s just like riding a bike. I still had it. I had fractured my wrist in the accident. In the hospital, I told them to forget my leg, fix the wrist. That’s my moneymaker.”