As anyone worth their weight in Punk Rock salt knows, Dave Stimson was the other half of the (cough...cough...splutter) editorial staff of Touch & Go Magazine with Tesco Vee and a major league record collector/wheeler dealer. He was a real pleasure to talk to and right now we're just gonna go through some of the early 80's happenings that revolved around the mag and its' evolution. Dig...
NAILING DOWN THIS ‘HARDCORE’ THING…
Well, I have to say that obviously the first hardcore record I ever bought was Black Flag’s Nervous Breakdown. That was a record you couldn’t buy in a store, I had to send away for that. I know I bought a few records before I met Bob (AKA Tesco Vee) that were similar like The Misfits and The Middle Class ‘Out of Vogue’ single, which I’d call one of the first hardcore records.
When I heard ‘Land Speed Record’ by Husker Du, I was like, ‘These guys must’ve been there when The Fix went through Minnesota’; it sounded just like them! Not as good obviously, but they must’ve heard them and got the idea, ’Hey! We can do that!’ I’m not sure if The Fix ever made it out to the Northwest but I’m sure every member of Poison Idea got the same idea because when you hear that “Pick Your King” EP, it’s The Fix all over again! But again, not as good. If you saw The Fix live back then, especially when they came back from their first U.S. tour…they killed! All those bands that tried to play that kind of style, whether it be Discharge or any of those groups, they were never as good. If they could ever be on the same stage, The Fix would’ve just blown them off. Look, I saw Discharge when they first came over to America, and they were ok, but they were not in the same league as The Fix.
FIX/NECROS AND THE FIRST TOUCH & GO RELEASES
The Fix and Necros sort of evolved together, and played some shows together, like at Club Doo Bee opening for Black Flag. There was certainly…I don’t want to say a riff, but maybe a competiveness between those two bands. I thought both were really good in their own way, but I think The Fix first record (‘Vengeance’ b/w ‘In This Town’) is more professionally done and I think had a greater impact, although how much impact you are going to have when there’s so few records out there, I don’t know. The Necros and The Fix handled the actual releasing of the record, and I handled the sleeves. I was taking this graphics class at Lansing Community College, and I was able to do the covers during the class for free. Since we’re only doing a 100 or so of each, I could do them all in one night. The Necros printed up that elaborate insert with the photos and stuff, I had nothing to do with that. There was no insert for the Fix record. Putting out records seemed like the natural next step to us. The magazine had done a number of issues so far and we had some cache to our name, so why not? So we went about pressing up these singles without really knowing what we were doing. Who prints up only 100 of a record? That’s ridiculous! It seemed like a lot to us though at the time. We were sitting around thinking ‘How are we gonna get rid of them?'
TOUCH & GO – THE FANZINE
For me, it was just something to do. If people read it outside of the Midwest, hey that was fine. If they didn’t, then that was fine too. For me, it was just fun to do. I guess if we printed up a hundred or so issues, then that was a lot for us. Fifty was the minimum. So,we were probably trying to print up 100, maybe 200 on an average. I don’t know how many Bob ended up printing up at the end, since I had already moved on from doing the magazine by then. When the first issue of Forced Exposure came out, I could see we had some influence on people, because it was a carbon copy of Touch and Go, especially if you look at the early ones. Toward the end, it really came into its own and it became way more professionally done than any issue of Touch & Go.
FORMING THE SCENE
The Fix and the Necros sparked interest in others starting bands. Obviously, the guys in Negative Approach were going to see the Necros. Bored Youth had that one great recording that showed up in that Lost & Found boxset in the 90s’. It’s a shame we never got around to doing a record with them. Then you had Larissa’s band L-Seven, which was different. They weren’t hardcore, but they were still part of the family. And then you had the Kalamazoo kids. Kalamazoo had some bands earlier, like this band The Brain Police, who I never saw, but they had one good record. I saw a lot of the earlier Detroit bands, back when it was just sort of punk groups like Cynicide and Cult Heroes. Those guys were all pre-hardcore and they never became a part of the hardcore scene when it took off in 81-82. Those guys kinda disappeared. At the time, if it wasn’t in that particular niche that we were listening to at that time, then we didn’t want to know about it. In retrospect, that Cult Heroes ‘Berlin Wall’ single was actually pretty good. You know, when you got thirty years to reflect on a record, it doesn’t suck as much as you thought it did! If it wasn’t played at 100 miles an hour, we basically weren’t interested.
THE MIDWEST/D.C. CONNECTION
They sent us the Teen Idles single and the first one they sent came in pieces. Bob picked it up at the post office and I guess they just didn’t pack it well or something. They must have gotten a copy of the magazine in some store in D.C and sent us a record when it came out. We immediately wrote them back with cash in the envelope asking for another one because it looked so great and that started a line of correspondence between us. The Necros, me and Bob, and maybe a couple others, drove to New York and saw the Circle Jerks at Irving Plaza, and the D.C kids came up as well, and that’s when I met Henry and Ian for the first time. I was very impressed with Ian. He seemed very down to earth, very unpretentious, and very approachable. The D.C. scene had gotten some sorta rep even by then, and they obviously had a particular look. The Midwest kids were more rat pack looking and were less concerned with how they looked. The D.C. kids were way more into a particular look, and then the Boston kids kinda took that same look and made it worse. They became a little more dogmatic about the attitude and look I thought. The biggest difference obviously was me and Bob had no problem getting drunk, where that was sort of taboo, as highlighted in the Meatmen cartoons in Touch and Go.