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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Above photo -- Barry at CBGB's showing off the ancient Finnish secret of soaping hair and stamps. Photo by Greg Licht

At the time, Detroit had this sorta dorky/funny hat goofy punk thing that was a big masquerade; that was always the vibe of all these bad bands. All these bands like Coldcock had this jokey/schticky vibe that didn’t resonate with me at all. That Coldcock record (‘I Wanna Be Rich’/’You’re A Mess’) could have been ‘Six and Change’ by The Pagans and I still would’ve hated it. For some reason, they gave a bunch of those records to Touch and Go for promotion and I remember Tesco had a drum set and we used to replace the cymbals with Coldcock records, and just smash these Coldcock records so they couldn’t be given away. Clearly we never had any respect for the old guys of Detroit. We didn’t pay a lot of attention to stuff that was going on and we’d almost see these bands by accident. Like I remember going to see Bored Youth for the first time at Nunzios and they were opening for this band whose name I forget but they seemed to be thousands of years older than us, even though they were probably like twenty years old. We were radically different from these people and a lot younger, which clearly pissed these people off. It was always this thing of ‘…You little kids...’ I really resented that. So were there any really good bands in Detroit back then? I guess my answer would be no.

There was definitely no respect given back and forth between ourselves and this old guard of Detroit. These guys just played Detroit over and over again and had one little single out. As soon as we got contacts like the D.C. people or the Circle Jerks and knew we could play out of town, we didn’t even care about Detroit. Once the Necros started going on tour, we ended up playing Detroit twice a year, and that’s from ’83 and up. Negative Approach would play all the time locally; they were clearly the Detroit favorites. It wasn’t cockiness that drove us to play out of town, it was sheer naivety. We were like, ‘Well why not? Let’s try it’ and it went from there.

The Germs and Black Flag had this mythical thing going back then for us when we were in Maumee. I remember reading that review in Slash about that Pollywog Park show Black Flag did and being like "Woah, I gotta check this band out" and I mail ordered it, because that was something you definitely weren’t going to find in a store out here.

We were also real into The Misfits, obviously. When we opened up for them at Bookies that first time, we really didn’t know what to expect. There was nothing heavier than the mystique of The Misfits. Those records had such a presence to them; we wouldn’t be surprised if they were nine feet tall. We hung out with them and they were super cool and they kinda took us under their wing and made us a real band. Glenn had this amazing attitude towards self promotion that was really inspiring. Once we started to grow up and started seeing people like Glenn as peers and not mentors, that’s when things got weird.

Tesco and Dave had made like a hundred bucks or something like that from subscriptions and then we matched that with seventy-five dollars of our money and we did the ‘Sex Drive’ single. It’s really weird to look at all this stuff in retrospect and where it’s fallen into place. At the time we decided to do that first single, it was almost a joke. As a band, we could barely keep it together, so the idea of doing an actual record was sort of funny to us. We sent the record to Ken R’s music, which was a jingles studio and they advertised in the back of the Toledo Blade ‘Make a Record!’ So Todd took it down there.

It was gone so fast. I think Schoolkids’ had five copies that sat there forever. It got sent to Flipside and whoever wrote to Touch & Go or Smegma Journal. It’s weird to think about people handwriting letters and sending records through the mail and communicating that way seems so archaic with the internet. Talking about it now, I feel like I’m saying ‘We walked ten miles uphill in a snowstorm to put out a record’.

I’ve got a buddy of mine who runs a label in Seattle is always asking me these questions about the ‘Sex Drive’ single. ‘Are the plates around?’ ‘Were there any test pressings?’ and I’m like ‘Man, Todd took the tape down to that studio and a month later UPS delivered a box of records to my house. There were no test pressings, no acetates, nothing’. We were pretty naive. We just saw that ad that said ‘Make a Record!’ and we were like ‘O.K!’

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