The documentary details the ambitious journey of an early Social Distortion and Youth Brigade and a small road crew as they tour across the U.S. and Canada.
The story begins with a hopeful Shawn Stern relating his big ideas about the tour and what he wants to accomplish, stating that the bus should hold up as the group gets to work fixing up the bus in anticipation of the trip to come. In fact, much of the plot revolves around the bus breaking down in three or four states. The road crew manager, Monk, is the only one who seems to know how to fix the bus so he becomes instrumental in keeping the tour alive.
As the tour begins, the bands head north up through San Francisco, Oregon, and Seattle. The film includes live footage of Social Distortion doing a then written but not yet recorded, "Mommy's Little Monster," as well as the creativity of Mike Ness writing the song, "Another State Of Mind," for which the film was named. One memorable clip shows Mike Ness getting ready for a show, giving his explanation of his "look" – why he does his hair the way he does and why he wears eye makeup when most guys don't. From Seattle they continue on up through Canada from where the Stern brothers have citizenship. The last leg of the trip includes big US cities like Detroit, Chicago, Washington, D.C. andNew York.
At the time this film was made, there was much misinformation and discrimination regarding punks, so a lot of the film is aimed at explaining this counter-culture by interviewing local kids at each tour destination as well as a few So-Calpunks whose commentary appears periodically during the documentary. At one point during the trip, the group arrives at a venue where they had a show booked and go out of their way to avoid discrimination by climbing up a fire escape and going in the back door in order to avoid the huge biker-looking men in the front of the club. They describe what probably would happen if they went in the front door - they would be intimidated, yelled at and maybe beaten up as they walked through the door and through the club so they find it easier to avoid the whole scene.
On another occasion, the starving group heads to a cafe in Montreal after a show to get something to eat and find the waitress will hardly look at them, let alone serve them. She is apparently frightened or annoyed by them based purely on their appearance. The woman calls the police to have them removed from the restaurant with no provocation (save for maybe Derek O'Brien's insistent banging of a coffee cup on the counter to get her attention).
As the tour proceeds, there is much discussion about the issues young adults face such as being misunderstood, the push and pull of parents, rules, drugs, violence and alcohol. One of the more interesting facets of this film is the fact that no matter where the group goes across the country and Canada, the locals seem to be dealing with the same issues. The punk movement was revolutionary and a bit scary to the older generations at that time who had never really seen anything like them before.
Somewhere around the second or third bus break-down, between Canada and Chicago, the reality of their trip begins to sink in. 11 or 12 guys on a small, now reeking, constantly breaking down bus is not as much fun as they had first anticipated. Their per diem has been slashed from $10 a day to $5 as a result of money having to be spent on fixing the old bus and they seem to keep getting ripped off by the club owners. One classic moment from the film comes when Mark Stern holds up some rolls of pennies he was paid with by one cheap San Francisco club owner (Dirk Dirksen of Mabuhay productions.)
Nearing the end of the trip, some of the road crew leave the trip early, leaving the band members to set up and fend for themselves. Everyone starts to get on each other's nerves out of hunger, frustration and cabin fever and begin to act out in different ways. Roadie, Mike Brinson, is shown constantly dyeing his hair different colors based on his mood which begins with a happy pink, turns green and eventually a dismal black. Mike Ness, usually placated by the pictures of old people which they somehow always found the money for, lets out a little frustration one night at a small impromptu show, breaking out in a frenzied, seizure-looking rendition of the worm during his performance.
A final bus break-down in D.C. causes the group to split up. Brinson, Liles and Danell abandon the group to stay with friends of Brinson's, where they voice their exhaustion with the tour and the rest of the group. Out of desperation, the others go to the local Kmart to shop for tarps with the members of Minor Threat. An interview allows Ian Mackaye to detail a bit of his convalescent home philosophy, which the So-Cal group doesn't really buy into but seems to admire.
This final break-down becomes the proverbial straw that broke the tours' back. Mike Ness ends up being stranded when the rest of Social Distortion heads back toOC where they feel they have a better chance of making money rather than staying on the difficult tour. Ness has really no choice but to grab a flight back to LA himself and try to regroup. With the headliner off the tour, Youth Brigade decides to throw in the towel as well. They all climb into the film crew's equipment truck and head back to California.
The film closes with an interview of Shawn Stern reflecting back on the tour. When asked if he thought it was worth it, he responds, "Yeah, I'd say it was worth it."