Facebook just keeps giving and giving, doesn’t it? Here’s a Butthole Surfers gig at Cabaret Metro in Chicago in 1985 – the band played Metro three times that year, but I’m going to say it was the March 1, 1985 show, with Killdozer and Rifle Sport. You can only see my back, at the very right, encased in the Necros / Samhain leather jacket. Thanks to Brian St. Clair for the photo.
I hated photo sessions, and there were so many of them – or, I started to hate them after the first few, when the only thing going through my head was I’m in the band! I’m in the band!
Is hate too strong a word? I’ve never been the sort of person who likes seeing themselves in a photo, or on film, but I got used to it. And I got pretty good at it, I guess. You’d show up at somebody’s loft ( a lot of those photographers lived and worked in real-deal lofts, carved out of old factories and warehouses ) and just get on with it. Posing for pictures was a lot like working a job that you don’t love – if you don’t watch the clock, the time goes by faster and you can go home.
Things are certainly different now, where your friend with the Canon 5D can flutter around your band for 2 minutes, take hundreds of photos, edit on their laptop and give you a few good shots, pretty much instantly.
Back then, in the 1990s, the photographer, after much puttering and adjusting of lights, would shoot a couple of Polaroids to get an idea what was going on. Then, they’d drop those Polaroids on the floor, where they’d lay until getting swept up at the end of the day. I always made a point of grabbing and putting them into my pocket, and I have a tidy little stack now.
It’s been a year already since I was in Cambodia. On that trip, I upped the number of countries I’ve been to to 40, which is a little better than a fifth of all the countries in the world.
I found this in a little album of snapshots, given to me by a fan, most likely. I’m putting this in 1993, based on various clues – cheap boots from the army/navy, my blue Jackson with the gold hardware ( never should have sold it ), my hair, art on the bass drum. We were still using our own lights, power strips all over the stage. Still in a van, for sure.
Usually the gratuitous photos are from some distant era, so here’s a recent one. My hair’s longer now, about the length it was when it started to dread up, back in 1990. I guess I’ll let it grow. I’m not sure why. Because I can, I guess. I have a lot of hair.
I keep seeing people with these 1942-Luftwaffe-pilot-shaved-around-the-sides haircuts, and while I can imagine how comfortable that would be, in Summer, my main reaction is ” gosh, that’s so 2013 “. Which is what happens, I suppose, when you’ve seen a lot of come and a lot of go. I don’t have a haircut, so you can’t pin a time on me.
I like my beard. It causes people to relate to me as an adult male, instead of as a perpetual adolescent. Which is a big difference. Hippies assume I’m on their team, which bugs me ( did you not notice that I am not wearing sandals, or bright colors, or a t-shirt with a mushroom on it? – or that when you started with your no, really, the Grateful Dead actually do have some cool songs thing, I tuned you out ? ), until I think about my general viewpoint. I am, for the most part, on that team. Just please quit it with the Bob Marley shirts, and that dancing. Jesus.
I see these dudes with beards, 20-somethings, trying too hard – you know, expensive reissue boots, riding a vintage motorcycle, or a super tall bicycle, or rocking the little hat and the tweed vest while serving coffee – and the beards are, like, bursting off of their faces, like, I can’t see your mouth, dude, and there’s a bear attached to it. I do not want that, I think to myself, and cut inches off, trim my moustache, and then, well, that’s wimpy, I think to myself, and I let it grow again. Always in flux.
Me, A. on drums. Cubby Bear, Chicago — I’m saying 1982, as I’ve still got quite short hair ( kind of a Naked Raygun ‘do ) and the white SG got entirely sticker-encrusted later, but there’s no way to know exactly when this was or who we were playing with. Diane took this.
April 29, 1983 : 16 years old, opening for Minor Threat. A. posted this a couple of weeks ago and blew my mind, because I didn’t know there were any photos from this show, let alone one with me in it. Well, that’s not quite true. A kid from my high school took pictures ( I have one 8X10 print, a blurry shot of Ian Mackaye, who you can barely see because there are so many people on stage ), but said kid died later, and nobody I know knows anything more about it. MCI shot this one.
Things I can tell you about this picture / the gig:
1. I still know quite a few people who were there, and they tend to get misty when the subject comes up. I can’t remember a show that was more highly anticipated, or exciting, or fun. Actually, by just a hair, the most fun I’ve ever had was at a show which was also at The Hall ( Centro-American Social Club ), by a band from Texas called the Big Boys. But that’s another story.
2. In the photo, standing in front of me in the white shirt, is my old friend Chris. Chris has shown up here a few times before, in Guitars 1,2, & 3 / The Story Of The WZ Guitar / Chris’ Room and also in Trenchmouth.
3. I’m wearing a Negative Approach jacket, painted by Ken ( someone else who was there, who I still know ). I loved that band to death, and later, when I had recently joined White Zombie and was literally starving, I sold my copy of their 1982 EP. I’ve regretted it ever since.
4. I’m playing my white SG, the first ‘real’ guitar I ever had. In 1989, right after I joined WZ, I sold it to a guy in New Jersey so I could get the money together to buy a Marshall head. I don’t know what happened to the guy or where the guitar is now. I still have the Marshall head, the stock JCM800 I used all the way from my first show with WZ to the recording of La Sexorcisto to the shows leading up to the release of the album.
Click for large.
5. The flyer says End Result Vs. The Audience, and that’s exactly how it went down. My friends and I were solid pals with End Result ( I am solid pals with Steve S. to this very day ), but there were other kids there who didn’t know / understand. For more on that, take a look at You Weren’t There. I don’t remember AOF’s set at all, but they were always great, and the atmosphere was electric, so I’m sure they were fantastic ( I asked A. if he remembered anything, and he said, ” there was also the Nerf football game during AOF’s set. I have a vivid memory of Ian’s face as he turned and gave it a toss “. MDC were great. Someone from MDC did some graffiti in the bathroom, and they got yelled at by everyone. Also, Ron from MDC let me use his input-jumped Marshall full-stack for our set, and I think the look on my face is sheer awe at how good my guitar sounded.
Another thing about MDC : this was the first time I ever met and interacted with straight-up ( radical, militant ) gay people who were around my age. Several of my fellow Chicago teen hardcore punk scenester friends would eventually figure out where they were at as far as all that, but at this point, no.
6. Minor Threat : this was the five-piece Out Of Step lineup. I don’t remember talking to Lyle or Steve – the only thing I remember about Steve is that there was something wrong with his bass and he had to borrow Franco from MDC’s Jazz Bass, which was a little funny because it had a spiky punk wristband wrapped around the headstock, which was very much not what Minor Threat was about. I don’t remember anything about Jeff, except that he sat in a corner reading a paperback during all the opening bands.
7. I talked to Brian Baker extensively. He was very friendly and answered all my questions about the DC scene, guitars, etc. I remember specifically that he told me that I really should save up and get a Marshall, because then I wouldn’t need a distortion box ( it would be another six years before I finally owned one, see #4 ). I remember that he was delighted when I told him that Teenager In A Box by Government Issue ( he played guitar on the recording ) was one of my favorite DC hardcore songs. I remember questioning him extensively about the Faith/Void split, which was a record we were all very into. He told me that he had no idea how Void were able to make such a cohesive recording, since their sound in concert was generally chaotic to the point of sheer confusion. He also told me that, on the other hand, Faith were the best live band in DC, but that they couldn’t seem to make a recording which reflected that.
8. Ian stood right in the middle of the crowd and watched our whole set, smiling. He sold A. and I copies of the Double-O EP, ( which I actually still have, and which I transferred and posted and discussed here ), and possibly other records. I have the entire early Dischord discography, and it’s hard to remember which ones came from where.
A. keeps on freaking me out by posting photos of me that I never knew existed. This is Flipper, playing at Club C.O.D. in Chicago, April 1982. I loved Flipper, and two years after this, I actually got to open for them. The kid in the striped shirt is A., and the kid next to him, with the leather jacket with the pins on it, right underneath Will Shatter’s bass, that’s me. MCI took this.
Chicago, March 1983. MCI took it, A. posted it. That’s Barry, and Steve, and me on the right, doing a 360 or whatever.
Cambodia. In a Cham Muslim village on the red-dust road between Kampot and Kep.