A brief new release announcement for any interested parties: White Denim has just released M Ax Noi Mach’s debut album, In the Shadows.
M Ax Noi Mach is Philadelphia-based artist, poet and musician Rob Francisco. As M Ax Noi Mach, Francisco channels his most personal experiences, desires and paranoia into a foreboding world of night, chasing the listener into a maze of back alleys and city tunnels. Harsh club beats mingle with power-electronic squall, convulsing like a Baltimore club deep within the seventh ring of Hell. Combined with Francisco’s menacing vocals, it’s a singular statement within the world of noise. Through these nine tracks, I am reminded of artists as varied as Intrinsic Action, Atari Teenage Riot, DJ Assault, Mammal, German Shepherds, Schleimer K, Brainbombs, and Macronympha, but M Ax Noi Mach is its own beast entirely. Check out the album-opening anthem “Creeper” via free download here: M Ax Noi Mach “Creeper”
If you’re interested in purchasing a copy, it’s available for $12.00 postage-paid in the US and $19.00 postage-paid elsewhere, and it can be ordered directly from the White Denim website via PayPal. For wholesale inquiries or other questions, shoot an email to whitedenim AT gmail DOT com.
Freshman year of high school, I bought a copy of Not So Quiet on the Western Front from a
classmate. Slightly crumpled from stashing it in his locker, he inexplicably brought it to school after
receiving it as a gift from his uncle (if only I could’ve seen the rest of his collection!), and decided he’d
rather have my $5 than a record he couldn’t play. Later that evening, this double LP compilation of
West Coast hardcore blew my young mind, from the raging hardcore punk of Fifth Column and Crucifix
to the weirder rumblings of Church Police and Maniax. The record begins fittingly, with Intensified Chaos’s
“Intensified Chaos”, an unruly and primitive minute of punk rock that left me with an indelible image
of how rock music was meant to be played. Intensified Chaos never really made it past this track,
only recording a demo before calling it quits, but when you’ve got a theme song as perfect as theirs, why
push it? With the same sort of random chance that dropped Not So Quiet in my lap, I had a
chance to talk to Chris Ritter, Intensified Chaos’s drummer. and he had some cool things to say.
How did you get involved in punk and hardcore? Had you learned to play drums before
getting into punk, or did that come about after?
I began collecting records when I was ten, in Berkeley 1975. My first couple of serious records were
Sabbath, The Who, Pink Floyd, Sgt. Pepper, Creedence, Van Halen, Kiss, classic stuff, as long
as it rocked… keep in mind disco was coming to an end, so there was some of that too – I liked the
BeeGees, okay? My first punk style record was the Sex Pistols, still mid tempo rock really, but with an
attitude. It was profane and the band was stylish, different, interesting, and it led to bands like X,
Misfits, Black Flag, and a little later Clash, Police, B-52s, Talking Heads, you know, “new wave”, ’82-83
or so. I loved the attitude, sound and the fashion. I skated and biked a lot and that sort of music was
popping up in skate circles, parks, lots of DEVO. I got a lot of crap for dressing in ripped jeans and shirts
and a leather jacket, flat top crew cut, Converse high tops, sorta like the Ramones or something ’cause
I went to more affluent public schools in The Valley where it was mostly a jock vibe, feathered hair and
Izod shirts, so I stood out for sure. Snooty popular cheerleader types where into me, I was different and
interesting, and reasons like that drove me further to explore alternatives to the standard dress and
attitude that was the norm socially. I stopped getting my records from Tower and started hanging out
at the underground music stores, especially Universal Records in Berkeley. There I found stuff like Gang
of Four, Blondie, Chrome, TSOL, MDC, Berlin, Killing Joke, and just loved the fast aggressive
simplicity of punk style music melding with experimental psychedelic synthesizers / noise and meeting
other like minded kids, social misfits, trashy outspoken trouble maker types that liked to draw, write,
cause trouble, build stuff and get wild. My dad built pianos, so I grew up with music in the house:
classical chamber music, harpsicords, violins, cellos. He would trio with all his doctor friends, which was
the first live “jams’” I ever saw. Mozart, Bach, Shubert, very serious high-brow stuff but very cool to be
I always wanted to be in a band and not just listen to records but to jam and interact with other kids
that where taking guitar lessons or writing lyrics and poetry in their notebooks instead of paying
attention in class. I was kicked out of high school in the Valley and ended up at Berkeley High School
where I met other creative, outspoken, fashionable kids and it really took off, not just there but everywhere.
Punk music was becoming seriously popular, around 1980 now. We all seemed to gravitate towards each
other and art was the central class. I noticed a lot of cute girls were punked out and hot, so that was a
motivating factor in getting more involved with actually making music and performing, not just music
but all the art and creative stuff that went with it.
My cousin was a jazz drummer in Kansas and gave up the drums to go to college. My dad knew I really
wanted to play music, so he brought my cousin’s drums back from Kansas in road case and gave them
to me (against his better judgement I suspect). A vintage, glitter silver Ludwig 5 piece trap set with real
nice Zildjian cymbals, Ludwig snare, that classic Speed King pedal. I played it in the basement every
afternoon after school, I’d wear headphones and play to easy stuff like “ABACAB” by Genesis, straight-forward
rock beats, and would flail around trying to play real fast, as fast as I could, and put the styles together.
I still play the same way now, never really learned a lot of chops or theory, I would just play hard. I had
friends that were great musicians for their age and they would come jam with me, like Jeff Fogerty, his
dad and uncle were in Creedence Clearwater and he showed me beats and guitar licks. We’d play “Rock
Candy” by Montrose, Van Halen songs. I’d go to shows, sneak in or help out whoever was playing that
night to get in, like Dead Kennedys, Flipper, the Fuck Ups, Sick Pleasure, Code of Honor, or Verbal Abuse.
Some friends had bands like Crucifix, the Uptones or Laaz Rockit so we’d all go to those shows, hang out,
meet chicks, drink, pass out. Good times. I was particularly interested in Flipper; the simple, loud, sloppy,
driving, lackadaisical sound was inspiring. This band was popular, humorous, had a great underground
vibe, and suprisingly sold records; kids would turn out in droves at their shows. The music spoke to me,
it said “you don’t have to be all that great of a player to get out there and do it.” Skill level was not
important, solid guitar riffs not important. Singing? not really.. Flipper demonstrated that anybody with
a bass, guitar or a drum kit could put together a fun crazy cool band and people would listen and come
to shows. My band current Crash covers a few early Flipper songs in tribute, almost thirty years later.
So how did you get involved playing in your first punk band?
I had been flailing around, bashing the drums in the basement for about six months, playing to Who
records with headphones. I loved Keith Moon and played mostly “all fills all the time” type of shit, no
beat, just a spastic seizure-like style, arms in the air, spinning sticks, theatrical stylish showmanship
approach to the drums. I read the book Full Moon about Keith Moon and was convinced that
that was the way to go, even foolishly upturning my drum kit after playing and putting the floor tom
on my head and walking around. I memorized the drum solo from Led Zep’s “Coda” using loop tapes
while I slept. I would throw the snare drum at the wall, severly denting it. (Years later I loaned that snare
drum to my friend Tom Hunting from Exodus. I had toured with them in the ’90s as drum tech on their
Bonded by Blood tour (with Venom and Slayer) to New York and back. He said the snare had an
interesting sound because of the slightly oval shape it had. I think in reality he just didnt have a snare
drum at the time.
I was a latch-key kid, so my parents were never around. My parents’ house was the hang-out spot,
everybody would come over and we’d play records and draw, talk about skating, work on bikes and
skateboards, drink, smoke, entertain chicks, make clothes and shit like that. I’d say about 10th grade,
while hanging out at Universal Records on Telegraph Avenue, I answered a “drummer wanted” ad that
was scribbled on a napkin. I stuck it in my pocket and called the number from home; Tom Flynn answered
and wanted to put together a two-piece band called Fang. He said he had just moved from Wyoming or
somewhere and was looking to start a band and a record label. I was interested because I actually owned
a Fang 45 entitled Enjoy the View; just 2 songs, weird, easy, pretty cool. The cover of the single
was a friend of his that was missing all of his teeth except one, hence the name Fang. They worked at
McDonalds together. Tom stood out, sometimes lying on the ground in a trench coat, crazy mad-scientist
hair and sunglasses with his Gibson SG case. We played in my basement and he taught me some early
Fang songs, just weird songs, “Fun with Acid” and “Libiyan Hit squad” among others. It sounded like crap,
I sucked on the drums and I always thought the twp person approach was lacking in fullness but we kept
at it. The Keith Moon shit was out, and rock steady non-flashy style was now preferred. I could do it…
You mentioned the song “Libyan Hit Squad”… I thought that was a Tongue Avulsion tune?
Yes, it’s a Tounge Avulsion tune, too… those guys were San Jose hardcore, but early 2-3 piece Fang had
a song with the same title. Material was/is commonly topical, much like General Mainzer plugging his
ears on the album cover, the Libyan hit squad was in the news at the time. In 1981, a ridiculous story
was floated by the Reagan administration that this “hit squad” were tanned Euro-trash dudes in running
suits, carrying Mac10s in their Adidas bags, out to kill Reagan and other top officials; there were even
phony composite sketches in the news. Perfect fodder for a fun punk tune. Fang’s song of the same title
was more mid-tempo and mentioned that they wore Jordache jeans. I cant remember the all the lyrics,
but yeah, both bands had a song about the Libyan hit squad.
Getting back to Fang…
Tom “Fuzz Box” Flynn had his own style, rhythmic and noisy, distorted out-of-key leads all in one,
very unique. Our first live show was at KALX, a college radio station that had punk themed blocks; The
Violent Femmes also played. We played a few shows, Mabuhay Gardens, Valencia Tool & Die, Sound of
Music, places like that. My high school friend, Todd Crew, who just got his drivers license, would drive
us around in his beat up station wagon. Todd would later join glammers Jett Boy as bassist; he died
tragically a few years after that. Fang wasn’t going over well – very subdued, low key, low energy
presentation. We decided to get a bassist: I knew Chris Wilson from several bands he was in, Stark Hotel,
Nocturnal Emission and some others. He was older, but he seemed to know everyone from warehouse
artist music scenes and what not. Chris was able to facilitate great shows for Fang and more songs came,
like “Suck & Fuck” and “Your Cracked”, now with driving hooky bass lines. We played around as a three
piece for six months or so, The Berkeley Square, Barrington Hall, Mabuhay Gardens, The Rock On Broadway,
The Ashkanaz… looking back, we played with other great bands just up-and-coming for the time: the
original Black Flag, The Dead Kennedys, The Lewd, DOA, Battalion of Saints, SVT, Social Distortion, bands
like that. We recorded a little four-song demo at some home studio in Emeryville. At the time I thought it
was great, but that’s probably because it was my first miked drum recording that wasnt a live boombox
recording of a crappy jam session. It was a little weird too, because these guys were older, maybe in their
early 20s, and I was like 17 or something. The group dynamic was a little off. I had homework to do, and
lived with my parents, you know? After a show with X at Barrington Hall, Fang kicked me out. They thought
the same thing, I was too young and not seasoned or skilled enough. I was replaced by Joel Fox, an older
scene punker. He had been in bands like Sick Pleasure, Quasi Art, and was a better fit. My dad came and
picked me up from the show and we loaded up the Ludwig kit in the trunk of his Mercedes. I remember
him saying, “Fuck these guys, they will never last, ha ha, lets go home”. I knew he didn’t dig the questionable
older guys in the house, leaving liquor bottles and roaches around. They were mostly mine, but I never
copped to it. I was kinda upset but not really, I had spray painted “Fang” all over Berkeley with huge stencils
I made, even some police cars at one point, all that for nothing. Fang was a lot of work, and interfered with
school and family shit. Shortly after that, Fang asked Sam “Slammytown” McBride to join as frontman, and
they became a full band, a viable hard-rocking punk act with a humorous twist. Fang took off after that.
They recorded Landshark on Tom’s new label Boner Records, named after the street Tom lived on,
I went back to playing drums in the basement. The more you play, the better you get, so I played for
hours, day after day. My drum room was also the main heating unit for the entire house, so everybody
heard it through the ducts, including college students that rented rooms in the house, trying to study
or something, and hippie new-agers trying to meditate and shit. They hated me but I persisted. Fuck
them! Those trying to suppress my art were to be disinfranchised, or at least considered an obstacle…
except my parents, ’cause it was their house. Sometimes kids would leave their gear in the space, and I
would pick up a little bass and guitar along the way. Just in case the drums didnt work out, ya know?
Rob was a friend from 6th grade. He used to wear a three-piece powder blue “angel flight” suit to
school. We sang “Beth” by KISS in choir back in 6th grade. He came to school dressed as Gene Simmons
for Halloween: platform boots, bat wing cape, psycho cod piece, makeup and blood. He stood out as a
real character, obnoxious, talented, funny, outspoken and controversial. We got along great; not a lot of
punk stuff going on in the Valley, mostly jocks and backwoods stoners. I had math class with Rob, who
was now sporting safety pins through his ears, Sid Vicious hair style, lock and chain around his neck,
leather, denim and jack boots, frequently speaking loudly in an awful British accent. He added Noxious
to his name, now Rob Noxious, (not to be confused with Bob Noxious from The Fuck Ups).
Rob announced that he was writing songs and learning to play guitar. He wanted to put together a
punk act inspired by the Sex Pistols, GBH, and Discharge. Why was one of our favorite records:
fast, loud, screamy and intense. Intensified Chaos was then born. Adam Gates joined, who in his own
right was a great bass player, doing his own thing at the time called Monkey Rhythm. He loved Primal
(later Primus) and Peter Gabriel. We recorded five songs at Xandor in Orinda, except now Rob’s guitar
teacher Bill Collins volunteered to play guitar and give it polish with crazy slick solos and shit.
Interestingly enough, Bill would later join Fang after getting a taste of the scene, I guess.
Intensified Chaos was really an emulation of all the punk clichés: the accent, the Pistols look, the
lyrics included lines like, “no future”, “oi oi oi”, and even “die die die”. Very visual, fashionable,
generic-sounding punk band, but it was working. A childhood friend Turner (RIP) now played guitar,
because Bill didn’t want to perform out with kids. We played around, an artist from CCAC offered to
design our shirts, and a very scene savy chick from Universal Records, Alissa, offered to “manage” us.
(She was sexy and I loved her!) We were opening for Bad Religion and Killing Joke, playing Punk
Globe parties and really starting to break out. We popped up in local ‘zines like Punk Globe
and Maximum Rock N’ Roll, and my friend Aaron wrote about us and drew cartoons of us. Years
later he started up his own ‘zine called Cometbus.
Jello Biafra dug our 42 second “anthem”, which featured Rob’s little sister singing “punks not dead” at the beginning, and he used it as the opening track on Not So Quiet on the Western Front. We were
excited to be among other bands like The Dead Kennedys, 7 Seconds, JFA, Flipper, Social Unrest, Code
of Honor, Verbal Abuse and even Fang. We all got a free record when it dropped. I knew many members
of various bands on the record, and we would sign each other’s magazine like it was a year book. I promptly
Our friends Crucifix had just released their first EP on Universal Records. It had its own display rack,
very cool record. We were hoping to release our own EP on the label, but it never came about. The good
news, though, was that I got tons of play from awesome short-haired leathered-up punker babes
because of the Western Front compilation. I was now 18, and my original plan to play in a band
and rule the scene had become a reality in roughly two to three years. Not bad for a skinny kid that could
barely play the drums, not bad at all…
Not So Quiet on the Western Front has a pretty long and diverse list of bands, but I always
got a sense of unity amongst everyone, maybe just from the great live shots on the back and booklet.
Was there really a feeling that this was some sort of movement at the time, or was it more just a bunch
of assorted groups playing together?
A little of both. I haven’t looked at the record cover or read any of the ‘zine in quite a while. I only have
the reissue CD, and the little magazine is almost too small to read, even with a magnifiying glass, but
looking at it, many of the bands were young teenagers. Four or five particular bands, or at least various
members, came out of Berkeley High school at the same time: Ghost Dance, Juvinal Justice, Crucifix,
Intensified Chaos, Fang, and Deadly Reign. So from my perspective, there was definitely a sort of scene
unity from that alone. Many of us were artists and colorful creative types, many others were local bands
that came about from hanging around older kids. Impatient Youth was notable, featuring Chris Fisher
from the Alotaflex team playing drums. Those guys were well-respected skaters in Berkeley area. Free
Beer also featured Tom Guerrero, a kick-ass pool rider. Skateboarding was really becoming more and
more popular, shops and parks popping up, with kids skating everywhere to punk music. That shit was
definitely a defined movement, skate-punk to be sure.
Sorta hidden in-between the local teenage bands were the older kids, the heavy hitters that we all
looked up too for inspiration: MDC, Flipper, The Dead Kennedys, Code of Honor and the like. I remember
the buzz while bands were being asked to submit recordings and artwork, at BHS or around the Telegraph
Avenue area where a lot of punks hung out at the record-, clothing- and coffee shops. Tim Yohannan,
who died a few years back, from MRR on KPFA, really put the record together. He asked bands he thought
would be a good fit to represent the time and region. Jeff Bale also compiled the record, and wrote a really
cool forward in the ‘zine insert. He wrote in a follow-up essay for the reissue of the record that he feared
the original essay, predicting social change and the future of punk style music, may be dated, but it
turned out not to be the case. It holds strong and true still today.
Strange that at the time some were claiming that “punk is dead”, and it was only 1982. Some of the
older punkers where saying punk as an artform really hit its peak around 1977. Not So Quiet on the
Western Front seemed to contradict this: there was a new sound, a young, high energy sound, a new
generation that was picking up where ’77 left off.
You mentioned the photos on the back of the record: mosh pits and kids flying through the air (out of love,
not violence). Some of those photos were taken by Tim Tanooka and Erich Baker, young scene guys that
where always documenting shows, big and small, around the Bay Area. I’m pretty sure the pics on the back
of the record were taken at The Elite Club, which was originally The Fillmore Auditorium in San Francisco,
famous for the Bill Graham shows held there in the ’60s: Hendrix, Airplane, The Doors, The Grateful Dead,
etc… Wes Robinson’s AAA productions put on huge punk shows there; Wes was instrumental in the local
scene, supporting bands, aquiring venues, putting on legendary shows. It was five to six bands every
weekend, everybody played, everybody went, and it went on for about a year or so, if I remember
correctly. There was a lot of band and punk scene comradery back then, exciting shows and events all
over all the time. Wes died a few years back, but his dedication to the whole movement will never be
forgotten. I remember an early Misfits show there in particular – they came out all crazy-looking and
loud, and just blew me away, it was awesome.
Keep in mind, there was no internet, cell phones, desktop recording, CDs, iPods, Photoshop, Hot Topic
and all that shit. Everything was done by hand, using xerox machines, pay phones and typewriters, and
flyers were posted physically. Graffiti and stencils were big. If you needed band members or shows or
whatever, you networked at shows and bulletin boards at record stores. Shit sure has changed. It’s just
You’re painting a pretty positive picture, one that seems to kind of go against the grain of
a lot of early hardcore documentation, wherein shows were riddled with violence, Nazis and police
brutality. Was that a problem for you, or just happening elsewhere?
My memories of the time were mostly positive. There where a few haters around, but they had their own
circle and people mostly ignored them.
As far as Nazi bands or whatever, I cant recall even one. For me and the circles I ran in, it was fun and
innovative. You heard terms like “The LA Welcome”, which was a jack boot to the head or whatever, but
I was never into the violent, trashing stuff kinda shit. I guess I should mention I really wasnt into a lot of
hardcore, per se; I sought out the arty, stylish, fasionable, creative, colorful stuff. Also, being sixteen, it
was more innocent, ’till later when addictions, social stigma, jail and dysfunctional behaviors came about
when kids got into their mid ’20s and the lifestyle was more detrimental than it was constructive. I’m in
my mid ’40s now, and a lot of these people I remember are dead or dying from a lifetime of living the
“alternative lifestyle”: never really working, bad relationships, trashing their bodies and their families with
nothing left to fall back on. Nothing sadder than a burned out 40 year-old punk, still out there in the
streets, still clinging to their glory days.
I see myself as a survivor. I’ve cleaned up long ago; others haven’t and they’ve paid the ultimate price.
I still play the music, but my scene days are long gone. I kind of look at it like it’s more a young person’s
game, a right of passage, even a long phase. I miss it but I don’t, ya know? I see the kids out there with
their bands, no worries, the whole future ahead of them, enjoying themselves, doing their thing, the
rebellious anti-establishment message, but the time comes when you have to decide, “what now?”
What were some of the most memorable shows you saw? Any bands that just completely
blew you away live?
In 1982, Bad Brains were touring from DC and ended up staying in Berkeley for a while. I saw them
several times, very high energy, well rehearsed, flashy, kinetic band, fast and crazed. You’d get caught
up in their show, and then they’d mellow it out with some reggae, the air filled with weed, and they’d
come back all explosive and shit, just wild.
The Dead Kennedys played a new year’s show at the Fillmore with TSOL dressed as flowerchildren
- intense! Biafra sceaming and flailing about, playing all their hits, “Police Truck”, “Holiday in Cambodia”,
the sound was perfect. Biafra stripped naked and just swandove into the pit, crowd surfing, being
passed around the whole top of the pit, just screaming like he’s on fire or something, truly a great
The Misfits at the Fillmore, too: they came out all muscled up with football pads and the crazy look,
flying the huge fiend banner, huge stacks, loud, fast as fuck, just a great presentation. They only
played two songs before a riot broke out – someone threw a full beer at someone’s head, a kid was
smashed over the head with a guitar, sparks and blood flew, the whole thing culmunating into a gigantic
dog pile of equipment and a hundred pissed off, beer soaked kids. The show was shut down, shit was
destroyed, and people hated The Misfits after that; records weere smashed in protest, good times.
Saw Black Flag a few times at the Mabuhay Gardens, and now with this version of Black Flag, there was
buzz around their new singer Henry Rollins from SOA. On the small stage, he ripped off his shirt,
blew snot on everybody and they went into “TV Party” and “Six Pack”, just crazy. I guess for me, shows
were really more satisfying if you listened to the records, so the bands and the whole experience would
just come together.
I realize I’m sorta talking about mainstream punk bands a lot, the better known bands, but that shit was
inspirational and popular at the time… kids loved the shit! I still do. Even The Misfits. I’ve seen a lot of
shows, Gang of Four, New Order, Art of Noise, Killing Joke, Romeo Void, Slayer, JFA, The Descedents,
China White, Minor Threat, SSDl, The FUs, Jerry’s Kids, Discharge, GG Allin, Scream, all great great shows…
You’ve mentioned Flipper before… were the artier or weirder bands significant for you at the time?
Totally! You had your slick “wall of guitar” type bands, but that sound was kinda generic. The arty stuff,
the psychedelic spoken-word industrial stuff was underated, some so arty and experimental that it was
almost hard to listen to, like SPK, or Einstürzende Neubauten or even early “acid punkers” Chrome for
example – I loved them! Lots of loop tapes, AM radios, synth noise, samples, moaning, droning
lyrics/vocals, real heavy on the noise FX, phase shifting, flanged-out delays and tone. I always loved to
experiment with effects and mechanical music-making, contraptions, devices I made out of old phone
machines, TVs or souped-up and re-wired amplifiers, motorized wah pedals, spinning magnets and
coils, long piano strings on weird homemade frameworks and homebuilt hand wound pick ups, amplified
vacuum cleaner motors timed up to create rhythms… Soundwise, my little niche for a while was like
Tesla coils and high voltage spark gaps I made; I called it making music with lightning! Butthole Surfers,
Kraftwerk, Godflesh, MC5, great shit.
So how long did Intensified Chaos last? What led to the breakup?
Almost 2 years, ’81-83, something like that. I’m a little fuzzy on the break-up details… it wasn’t like a
huge dramatic blow up or something. Keep in mind, Intensified Chaos was initially a studio thing, then
we found a chick bassist, Kris, and Brad after her, and a guitarist, Turner (aka Torrance Tang), and Steve
after him. The band had some cred and good word of mouth, so kids were around and willing to join
and play live. I can’t recall the last show, I think It was with The Hollywood Undead at the Berkeley Square,
and they went as just “The Undead” at the time (Sid Terror added the “Hollywood” later). Rob got into
poetry and sensitive electronic music and dropped the whole pseudo-Sid Vicious thing all together. We
remained friends for a while. Turner passed away about five years ago; we were childhood friends since
4th grade, so I want to remember him here.
After Intensified Chaos, I joined a band called DFA (Death From Above) with my friend Greg (Fishhead)
who currently plays in FUKM and fills in for Fang and Verbal Abuse from time to time. I eventually formed
my own sorta speed metal / punk project called Dual (’cause it was mostly two people) with bassist Robbie
McKillop, who was also in EXODUS at the time. Tom from skate-punkers The Boneless Ones played guitar,
and we played live twice, never recorded. I sang and played drums, so visually it wasnt a great act. You
really need a charismatic frontman to pull off a great show, and I wasn’t it.
Things really took a turn when Metallica released Kill ‘Em All in 1983; that changed everything.
The thrash metal shit just took off and really spoke to people; it was a new, fresh sound, and I was into it,
had the cassette demo and everything. Exodus released their first record Bonded by Blood in 1989,
and my homeboy Rick Hunolt asked if I would go on their tour, settin’ up drums and whatnot, with Venom
and Slayer, so that was fun.
Did metal really have that profound of an effect on the punk scene at that time, like 1983 or so?
More like the other way around: punk influenced metal. There were the glam and hair bands, playing poppy,
chick-centric rock, when suddenly some metal bands started incorporating the thrash element. Still metal,
but now kind of a speed metal. The new thrash metal was profound and more produced than punk; still
heavy, hard, angry and fast, but a little more evolved than the traditionally lo-fi screaming punk stuff out
there. The themes changed from anti-establishment and anti-war ideas to more personalized,
conceptualized, even darker lyrics.
Any obscurities from back in the day that you’d recommend I search out? Any bands that really
stood out back then that have been unfairly forgotten?
For sure, mostly arty experimental stuff, but great bands nontheless: Sharkbait, Negative Trend,
If you could go back to 1982 and rescue one record, piece of clothing, ‘zine or photo that you
owned back in the day but have since lost, what would you grab?
Just one? Ha ha ha. I had a leather jacket I loved… it was thrashed and way too big when I got it, so I
had it tailor fit by this Hungarian couple at their shop on University Ave in Berkeley. They really hooked
it up, they tore out the old fucked up liner and put in a red satin silk liner. It was gorgeous – the whole
piece just popped. I rode the bus to Industrial South SF and picked up a bunch of studs and spikes from
this weird martial arts equipment manufacturer, and did the jacket up. I loved the jacket, chicks at school
always wanted to wear it, ha ha ha… A few years later, I left it in my ’67 LeMans GT37, parked at The
Tenderloin and someone jacked it. So sad, I would love to have it today for sentimental reasons. A perfect
symbolic garment to represent the era.