Bad Breath To Your Ears

11 Jun

OK so yeah I do have a somewhat guilty but tender affection for pretty much ANYTHING remotely tagable as early 80’s SoCal hardcore. I know, I know – alot of it just wasn’t all that together, musically speaking, and it’s no secret how freakin’ rigid the whole thing quickly became, but hey: as a kid, this stuff blew my mind in 100 different cool ways, the kinds of ways that’ve helped me navigate life (alive no less!) into my 38th year. I owe it one.


(Me, age 15, imitating Darby Crash)

It was when the South Bay suburbs exploded in 1981 (thank you very much BLACK FLAG) that I remember first hearing the word punk in reference to rock. And then – overnight! – hardcore became an irrefutable fact of teen (er, pre-teen) life. I’d start seeing it’s graffiti on the sides of buildings, I’d catch a few of it’s songs on Rodney B.’s Sunday night show, and invariably I’d spot it’s adherents sulking/smoking out in front of local 7-11 chain stores. And you either avoided it like the plague, or you were drawn to it like a moth to fire. Me, I love flames.

Yes: hardcore did attract all manner of idiot toughguys & fascistic meatheads. Skinnyass me, I once got chased halfway down Melrose Ave. by a bunch of skinheads (L.A.D.S. perhaps?) who were older, bigger, and waaaaaay drunker, slurring: “kid – what you asposed to be, a s-s-s-suicidal or something?” But no lie: HC was Thee Giving Tree from which all things remotely exciting, interesting, and inspiring fell in the suburbs during those dark days. And since suburbs constitute like, 95% of Southern California . . . well basically we all had to shut up and eat it, since bitchen subcultural options for the underage set remained mighty limited for years to come.

As a parallel-universe record collecting geek, I spent a lot of time sifting through all manner of punk and early hardcore detritus in the mid-80’s, and then . . . got bored with it all and moved on. But then the 90’s came along, and with em those early, Nuggets-like archival punk/HC comps (thank you Johan Kugelberg). Not long after, punker CD reissues began coming down fast and hard. By the mid 90’s, a manical freak named Brian “GTA” Sheklian began mining forgotten, second-tier HC types on his BOMP RECORDS distributed GRAND THEFT AUDIO label. He eventually released nearly 60 titles, and fully 1/3 of these focus on lost bands from LA and environs (which is where this post ought to’ve begun.)

Now, because I exhibit what might have once been called blatant localism, I’ve only ever bothered to check out those GTA releases by Southern California bands. And truth be told, none are what your average non-punker listener would call amazing; many are only semi-competent approximations of what others – BLACK FLAG, ADOLESCENTS – were carving out in more powerful/meaningful ways at the time. Yet all are totally fascinating to me, as they stand as rich time capsules snatched from a few of those narrow-world, cropped-haircut punk microcosms that flourished all around SoCal then. If you’re so inclined, they might just spin your aging ass too, like they did mine. Here’s a rundown of a few:

1. SIN 34Die Listening 1981-1984 (GTA 003-R #020) – This is most fun you’re gonna have in the HC set. SIN 34 were a West LA band notable for ushering drummer/amateur filmmaker Dave Markey (Desperate Teenage Lovedolls, The Year Punk Broke, etc.) into the scene. His presence in a band meant he got his camera close to lots of underground music dwellers at a time and place absolutely nobody else gave 2 flying fucks about documenting. SIN 34 were also one of the few to have a girl singer (Julie Lanfeld), and a rad one at that. She had guts, a sense of humor, and a one of those perpetually-stoned SoCal drawls that covered up for the fact she couldn’t actually sing – but then, what self-respecting HC singer could? Julie’s best bratty couplet: “Now BLACK FLAG is uncool, but you used to write it all over your school!” This CD collects everything NOT actually released on any of their records proper. That’s 36 cuts of demos/live/comp. material that’ll drive your parents up the freakin’ wall.

On a personal note, I used to date someone who was routinely mistaken for ex-SIN 34 singer Julie around the South Bay. Naturally, we both took this as a totally righteous compliment.

2. FUNERALHave You Seen My Leather Jacket? (GTA #037) – Forgotten Long Beach punkers who were dragged back into the jaundiced light via the inclusion of their “Waiting For the Bomb Blast to Arrive” cut on the Bloodstains Across California comp. from the early 90s. They plied a sound aligned with SOCIAL DISTORTION (moody, melodic punk) and they did it surprisingly well. Although Long Beach had its fair share of worthy HC punk bands in the early 80s (THE CREWD, SECRET HATE, etc.) it was a scene that was sadly overshadowed by the whole Huntington Beach/Edison High School thing a few miles down the coast. Which is a shame, cause these guys and their town clearly deserved more. Few articulated that baleful, apocalyptic suburban worldview better. Singer/gtrist Mike Martt went on to drunk-rock infamy playing with the likes of TEX & THE HORSEHEADS, THELONIOUS MONSTER, and THE LOW & SWEET ORCHESTRA, and still roams the backstreets of Signal Hill to this day.

3. RED SCARE1982-1988 As Promised (GTA 007-R #056) – You had to be fucking tough to survive as a woman on these kinda stages, what with all that testosterone a-flowing free back then. There’s a couple of live tracks on this thing that’ll give you an idea of the kinda BULLSHIT a woman-led band had to put up with on stage. But Bobbi Brat, the singer here, was most definitely up to the task. Her best lyric: “Can’t you see, little boy? I’ll only hurt you; because to me you’re a toy, I play around and desert you.” Although I can’t say this is classic hard stuff (it’s got that weird stiffness that comes with a drummer playing faster than he can reasonably rock) I have spun it alot, esp. when I used to drive deep into OC to meet psychotic Mexican-American vets as part of my last job ever in the States. So, I’m keeping this one. For what it’s worth, there’s a memoir of Hollywood streetlife floating around out there called Coloring Outside the Lines by Aimee Cooper that incorporates some old memories of Ms. Brat.

4. ANTIThe Hardcore Years 1980-84 (GTA #028) – Fairly rote HC with that polka-beat we all came to dread by the mid-80’s. A couple songs of this so-called peace-punk is all I’ll ever need (though I admit the bonus “anti parent” radio broadcast they’ve tagged on here is pretty hilarious). I wish they’d’ve expanded their sound a bit – but they didn’t, and so people promptly forgot about em. I do like the smudgey, howling singer though – it’s the voice of someone who dug smoking pot, which was a rarity in HC circles then. Their bassist Danny Phillips went on to be in a lame bottomwrung major-label, U2-ish act called EASTER in the late 80’s – please, please don’t post here about how great they were. Danny could be found working at Recycled Records in Hermosa Beach back then, always your best bet for scoring cheap copies of ANTI records at the time.

5. ABANDONEDLos Angeles, Motherfucker! (GTA #020) – Tony Adolescent was the main culprit here. And yeah, the spirit of the early ADOLESCENTS does shine through this thing, but in a nasty-ass, dark-alley TALES OF TERROR sorta way. Tony was clearly not enjoying his time in La Habra or wherever the fuck he was eeking out his existence at this point. This is not at all bad – but it’s grim, in that way only low-rent suburban LA life could be in the early/mid 80’s. I like this one, but it does make me fucking wince. Anybody ever see these guys play? Betcha they were simultaneously hot and a cheap, swift punch to the kidney.

———

More to come. I just gotta do the circle dance one time, ok?

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11 Responses to “Bad Breath To Your Ears”

  1. mark June 12, 2008 at 12:23 am #

    Psychotic Mexican-American Vietnam Vets in Orange County? Wow. Rough. I worked with a VietVet at a warehouse in Hayward. Bad days for him were………..scary. Real scary.

  2. Jay H June 12, 2008 at 8:44 pm #

    Excellent post. Sin 34’s the only one I really cottoned to out of your big 5, but hmm…what about a post on Modern Warfare? Circle One? The LMP’s (La Mirada Punks)? You own this beat, man! Thanks for this!

  3. mrowster June 12, 2008 at 8:46 pm #

    Jay: Circle One’s coming. Just you wait.

  4. Steve June 12, 2008 at 11:52 pm #

    The one you NEED is the Colours Out of Time one – early 80s post-punk from Lancashire (!) which is fantastic, especially the early stuff.

  5. mrowster June 13, 2008 at 4:56 pm #

    Steve: Lancashire . . . is that in the San Fernando Valley someplace?

  6. nazz nomad June 15, 2008 at 4:17 pm #

    nice post. really enjoyed it.
    i remember getting the “not so quiet on the western front” comp back in the day. we had a “found” telephone credit card that we used to call up a bunch of the bands that had their phone numbers in the liner notes (a booklet was enclosed with the records).

    what a shock to our New York ears to hear that a bunch of these guys were out surfin or other so-cal activities when we called their houses!

    california might as well have been antartica for all we had in common… except for the suburban angst of course!

  7. Steve June 24, 2008 at 8:37 pm #

    Haha – Lancashire spawned THE FALL. Nothing more needs to be said!

  8. Kathy Brontsema December 28, 2008 at 4:19 am #

    Bobbi Brats Sister. So glad she is still being appreciated!

  9. Danny Dean August 28, 2013 at 5:16 am #

    4. ANTI – The Hardcore Years 1980-84 (GTA #028)

    Thanks for the mention, I stumbled across your blog looking for old/new reviews on my stuff. I archiving new items as well as putting out my archives from all of the below. Demo’s to unheard recordings, photos and live footage.

    ANTI’s original singer was Steve Acosta (whom did not make it on the recordings who left ANTI to later became one of the Airforces most praised Jet Tech), myself and Burt split the singing on the recordings. ANTI started in the late 70’s, the drummer Steve Lind was 12 and myself only 14 it was a band started by preteen age kids far younger then the other Punks. Doug C. played drums (who later went on to the Descendants, Doggy Rock, Circle Jerks ect.)

    A little more history on me exists then just a teenager working at a record store. In 1978 I started a Surf-abilly band SKINNY MEMPHIS with Christopher Damerst. Late 1979 left to form hardcore punk band ANTI, also played in band MOOD OF DEFIANCE 1981-83, and Rockabilly band The DRIFTCATS 1981-82, and a band called THE KULT 1982-1983, when The Cult was called the Death Cult. The YOGURT KINGS featuring myself with members of (Redd Kross, SIN 34). During the early 1980’s I was Co-Founder with Gary Kail of Indie label NEW UNDERGROUND RECORDS. I also wrote for the legendary punk magazine FLIPSIDE.

    Easter did consist of some amazing musicians, Mike Ness and Brent Liles of Social Distortion and Agent Orange, Chad Carrier (off Big Mess), and Korky Ollerton (of the Detonators, LA X) as well as ANTI’s latest with John McCarthy (the Alley Cats), Jack DeBaun (CH 3), Mitch McNally (CH 3, Tazers one of the early OC punk bands) Sandy Handcock (of DI, and another early OC punk band)

    Mood of Defiance (members featured: Hatha (vocals), Gary Kail (guitar/bass/drums/keyboard), Danny Phillips (bass/guitar), & Thaddeus (drums) and consisted of many ANTI songs.

    1980 to 1987 Vinyl record releases, tape cassettes.
    —————————————————————————
    ANTI – I don’t want to die in your war. 12′ vinyl LP red and white cover 1st pressing.
    ANTI – I don’t want to die in your war. 12′ vinyl LP red, white, and black cover 2nd pressing.
    ANTI – Defy the System. 12′ vinyl LP – Joe Strummer of the CLASH was at the recording session making Coffee for everyone.
    ANTI – God can’t Bounce. 12′ vinyl LP
    MOOD OF DEFIANCE – Now – 12′ vinyl LP. Guitar player of THE DOORS was at this session.
    Life is Ugly so why not kill yourself – comp -12′ vinyl LP
    Life is Beautiful so why not eat health foods – comp -12′ vinyl LP
    Life is Boring so why not steel this record – comp – 12′ vinyl LP
    Louie Louie Comp – 100 bands radio station release – Lp and casette
    ARTISTIC DECLINE – Random Violence – 12′ vinyl LP – Guest guitar player
    Earwigs – late 80’s – Guitar

    Lately I have had the honor of working with allot of great musicians such as… Rockabillys Greatest Front man and Legend LEVI DEXTOR, WHEN IN ROME with original singers Clive Farrington and Andrew Mann, Deon Estus of (Wham, Elton John, Marvin Gay). John Hatton and Bernie Dresel of (Brain Setzer), Mad Max and the Wild Ones, The BIG MESS, Ray Campi, The STAINS, the MEN OF MYSTERY, the IMPOSTERS, White Boy James, Bob Crail of (Bobby and the Blackouts), Dino Guerrero of (MIKE NESS band, the Hangmen), Roddy Radiation and Neville Staple of ( THE SPECIALS), the SHILLALY BROTHERS, Robbin Canada of (EXUDE) Rob Juarez of (ENGLISH BEAT, OMD, WIR UK), John McCarthey of (the ALLEY CATS), Sandy Hancock of ( the Adolescents, 22 Jacks, Mama Hagglin), Buzz Campbell of (Hot Rod Lincoln, and LEE ROCKER), JONNY BOWLER of (Guana Batz, Slim Jim Phantom Trio, Wanda Jackson, 13 Cats, Nick 13), STINKY of ( Bo Diddley, Jewel, Lee Rocker, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins), Wyatt Maxwell of (Mad Max and the WildOnes, Wayne Hancock, and Lance Lipinsky), Mitch McNally of (Channel 3, Tazzers), Jack Debaun of (Channel 3, Danny Dean) and PISS N BLOOD, Dave Schulz of (the GOO GOO DOLLS, Berlin, General Public, and Stevie Wonder), I have also since then played guitar for Legend blues man JOE HOUSTON. In 2000 was ask to form a touring band for a US version of ORCHESTRA MANOEUVRES IN THE DARK / O.M.D. featuring Paul Humphreys.

    I have been blessed to be around so many great and talented people for so many years…. and more to come.

    Thank you for keeping it alive. If you come across anything else good or bad send it my way.

    RIP to my fallen band mates and friends; Mad Max (of Mad Max and the Maxwells), Laura Edwards (Feline Productions), Brent Liles and Gary Kail may you rock the after life.

  10. Reid March 28, 2016 at 1:40 am #

    The bass player for Tony Adolescent band, Abandoned releases that album and other old school stuff from the 80’s and 90s plus new stuff most of it free or dirt cheap at angusmacmannus@bandcamp.com

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Bad Breath To Your Ears, Pt. II « Pig State Recon - June 21, 2008

    […] all them SoCal-area Grand Theft Audio CD releases, so you don’t have to. Read the first post here, place your bets, and take a seat . . […]

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