Guitarist & Bassist for the Heathen Apostles, The Cramps, Nick Curran & the Lowlifes


One of the last men standing from the notorious Los Angeles punk rock scene of the late 1970’s, Chopper Franklin plays guitar and mandolin for the Gothic Americana band Heathen Apostles and has played guitar and bass for The Cramps, the Mau Maus, Charley Horse, Nick Curran & the Lowlifes among others. He has produced several albums, mostly for his record label Ratchet Blade Records, which specializes in dark roots music. Chopper also writes and produces soundtrack scores and has directed several music videos. He is also being recognized as one of the driving forces behind the emerging Gothic Americana genre.

In 1979 at the age of 15 Scott ‘Chopper’ Franklin started living at the infamous Church, the punk rock mecca (and offices for SST Records) in Hermosa Beach, Ca. Home to Black Flag, Red Cross and the Minutemen (along with other bands and local punk rockers), he was soon roadying for Black Flag, learning guitar and bass and jamming with anybody that he could.

Chopper Before The Cramps

The Mau Maus 1982

After the authorities broke up the nefarious goings-on at The Church, Chopper relocated to Hollywood, where he crossed paths with the infamous Rick Wilder, and began playing bass for the notorious punk rock outfit the Mau Maus. After four years, many riotous shows and a six song recording (with Robbie Krieger of the Doors producing, more on it later), he left to join the  trash rock outlaws the Joneses.

The influential album “Keeping Up With The Joneses” was recorded, a deal with Elektra Records came and went, and when Chopper relocated in New York City, he reconnected with Rick Wilder for some recordings. While there, Chopper founded and recorded the aggro-industrial outfit Murder In Exile.

Taking the new found technology of loops and samples, scorching rockabilly and country guitar, next up was Charley Horse, created in 1993 with vocalist Sean Wheeler (Throwrag) and producer Mickey Petralia (Beck, Rage Against the Machine). The record that would become “Unholy Roller” was recorded during this time, and a 7″ single of Back Down & We All Fall Down was released on Hellnote Records.

Chopper w/ The Cramps

Chopper w/ The Cramps

While performing at a Mr. Badwrench show (whose “Up Jumped the Devil” cd is available now on Chopper’s Ratchet Blade Records), Chopper met Lux Interior and Poison Ivy of the Cramps, eventually joining the band in 2002. He did several tours and recorded the final Cramps studio album “Fiends of Dope Island”.

Charley Horse got back together 2004, the US and Europe were toured, an album was recorded and a video for “Bad Ass Dad” was shot. In the end the band emerged with 10 more terrorizing titles that became 2009’s “Professional Sinners” (Ratchet Blade Records #716).

The Doghouse Lords were formed in 2008, Chopper joining with John Bazz (Blasters) and Javier ‘Jake’ Matos (Blue Shadows) on vocals, harmonica and guitar and the rockin’ blues cd “Diggin’ at the Doghouse” was released on Ratchet Blade Records. He followed this by producing the hellbilly/doom country band the Phantom of the Black Hill’s album “Born to Gun” in 2010 (he also produced the POTBH follow-ups, 2012’s ENEMY!, 2013’s Black Hearted Killer, 2014’s Moonshine Bright and 2016’s Scalped).

Chopper After The Cramps

Chopper w/ Nick Curran

In 2011 Chopper joined the frantic rock n roll band Nick Curran & the Lowlifes, and began recording a new record in April of 2012. Chopper also released the first Mau Maus album “Scorched Earth Policies: Then & Now” on Ratchet Blade (RBR #717) in 2012; the album was comprised of both old and new recordings of their classic set.

Chopper formed a new project called the Heathen Apostles and released their debut album Boot Hill Hymnal (along with 2 videos) in 2013, and 2014 brought forward new releases and live dates from the Heathen Apostles (Without A Trace) and Phantom of the Black Hills (Moonshine Bright).

Heathen Apostles - Gothic Ameicana

Heathen Apostles

2015 brought forward new Heathen Apostles singles and videos for Death’s Head, Fist City and Fool’s Gold, as well as their second album Fire to the Fuse. The third Heathen Apostles album Requiem For A Remix (featuring remixes by Chopper Franklin, Almighty Watching and the Phantom of the Black Hills, as well as corresponding videos), the Misery and Gin EP (a tribute to the late, great Merle Haggard) and the single and video for Albatross came out in a busy 2016. 2017 brought out the Heathen Apostles’ Strange Flowers EP and Bloodgrass Vol. I, which is the first of a series of EPs in which the band plans to showcase their musical roots.

In 2017 Chopper’s Ratchet Blade Media launched (soon followed by and, known as the ultimate collective for the Gothic Western lifestyle. 2018 saw the release of the Bloodgrass Vol. II EP (accompanied by the highly regarded Paint the Stars video), followed closely by the fourth Heathen Apostles album Bloodgrass Vol. I & II (a vinyl and CD combination of the first two Bloodgrass EPs). A wildly successful European tour supported the album, and music videos for the infamous Death Came a Ridin’ and Deadly Nightshade brought the band back into familiar Gothic Noir territory. 

2019 brought release of the fifth Heathen Apostles album Dust To Dust, as well a second tour of Europe in support of it. A music video for Deadly Nightshade, the second single from the Bloodgrass Vol. I & II album was launched, with effects artist Jorge Jaramillo again at the helm. Born By Lightning, a blues-based EP by the Heathen Apostles, also came out in that year.

Chopper has produced the new Phantom of the Black Hills album That Witch out in July 2021, and the Heathen Apostles will be releasing Bloodgrass Vol. 3 & 4 and touring Europe in September 2021.