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Thursday, April 22, 2010

DANFORTH!!! DANFORTH!!! DANFORTH!!!DANFORTH!!! In this weeks' blog installment, Detroit skate lord and WBSTYN cover star Bill Danforth talks some shit and drinks some brews...

I got introduced to Punk Rock when I saw it on ‘Good Morning America‘. The Sex Pistols were causing all kinds of havoc across England and it was just this short little thing I saw on there in sixth or seventh grade. I saw it before going to school one morning and it was the first time in my life I ever thought music could be cool. Music at that point was just something that played in the background.

The one major thing that drew us all together was the Endless Summer Skate Park out in Rosedale. That skate park was our grade school, our middle school, and our high school. Skateboarding was the thing that drew us all together, and that’s what drew the entire Punk Rock community to the point where we were so tight, we didn’t need to find any other friends, we had friends amongst ourselves. We were the ones that didn’t fit into - what at that time - was the normal high school attitude. We weren’t listening to Led Zeppelin; we didn’t give a shit when John Bonham died. The guys who listened to Led Zep in our school were the burn outs and the stoners and the losers. The Punk thing showed the creative minded people that we could create our own thing, and that’s what skateboarding was at that time. We always got this shit like, ‘Hey! You’ve got a skateboard and not a football helmet! Well, you’re not going to make anything of yourself that way!”
The whole early Black Flag scene got put in skate magazines first, so that’s how most of us found out at first. Then you’d see the guys from the Necros coming to the skate park, and they’d ride, we’d all hang out, and it was like, “Oh yeah, our bands playing tonight.” So it was a brotherhood but it was all skateboard related; one hundred percent it was skateboard related. The big thing is we were turning up the radio at the skate park and we were putting in all these demo tapes, which were really harshly recorded stuff. People were bumming on it because it wasn’t J.Giles; this was original music. You could always pop a Devo tape in at the time, and everybody was into it, but this stuff really divided people. The Necros would show up to the skate park and there were backyard parties where bands were starting to form, and sometimes it was really horrible but it was back yard Punk Pock; it wasn’t what you heard on the radio and that‘s all that mattered. It’s not like bands did covers, they were writing original songs. Before Youth Patrol and before Negative Approach, Chris Moore (second Negative Approach drummer) was in a band called the Dead Reagans. They played in backyards close to the skate park, after contests or before contests. One of their hit songs was ‘E.S Boys’, which stood for “Endless Summer Boys.” There was a rival skate park out there called Skateboard USA, and the song went “E.S…ES Boys/Kills all those U.S.A Gay Boys.” But that was the beginning of it, before those Nunzio shows.
We went to a lot of the shows but could never get in, until I was fifteen and I got a fake id. But August 21st, 1981, there was a Necros show at Nunzios and I actually got in. There was no such thing as an all ages show in Detroit, that didn’t come until way later. My whole Detroit Hardcore scene was from ‘80 to ‘84, I moved to California in ’84 when I went to college. But ‘80 to ‘84 was the best period ever here in Detroit because it was just so fucking raw, real and dirty. This was the days of the Freezer Theatre, and after the Freezer it went to places like the Clubhouse and Cobb’s Corner. The Greystone was going but that was always for bigger shows. There are big name bands that sleep in the Raddison these days that slept on the floor of the Clubhouse. Social Distortion was one of them. The Misfits were horrible when they played The Freezer; they were just a wall of absolute crap. They slept on that dirty floor that never got mopped. I’m really glad some of these bands slept in my spit and piss. When you can’t afford to have running water in the place, how the fuck are you going to mop the floor?

We were good kids but we were just fucking skate punks. We weren’t out there trying to start riots but we’d fight to save our life. We were out there passing out flyers on the street for the shows, trying to encourage people to come in. We got a lot of suburban kids into the scene and a lot of bands started from that, which was fantastic. The only reason we had those ghetto clubs is because it was so cheap for us to keep those places. There was also the hint of danger going to the ghetto. What’s more punk rock than that? Are your windows going to get broken out?” There was also the ghetto Burger King down there that had a special called ‘The Burger Thang’ where you get three hamburgers for a buck and a quarter. 3 burgers for a dollar and a quarter…how the fuck can you not eat that?
We never tried to one up any other scene, we tried to be original and we tried to be our own. Corey and Tesco already had the Touch & Go label going, and the D.C scene set the precedent, but I think we grew a little faster than they did and touched a few more people. To me, it didn’t seem like the D.C scene touched the skateboarders the way we did. I think we contacted a lot more skateboarders, and I think we had more connections because we had more sponsored skateboarders in our scene. I was sponsored by ‘81, and so I had been contacting the west coast all the time. I was already exchanging flyers with the skaters out west. They’d be like, “Man, we want some Necros stuff,” so I’d get a couple of records from them and then I’d send them to the west coast before they could probably even get distribution over there. You’d write a letter on the back of a flyer that would be for a show with the Necros and The Damned and someone in California would be like, “These guys played with The Damned?” and that really fucking bolstered it and grabbed some skaters attention.

What was Detroit’s perception of California bands? We didn’t like them! Those bands just sounded like power pop to us. Social Distortion and Youth Brigade weren’t well received in Detroit. For TSOL, we printed out a lot of fliers that said ‘LOST‘…T.S.O.L spelled backwards. We were just very protective of our scene. When some band would drive up in a 1982 brand new van and ask “Do you know where to find a cheap motel to stay in?” we didn’t like it. The cool bands would sleep on the floor of the fucking Clubhouse! You’re in your brand new van asking, “Where’s a good restaurant around here?” Well, the fucking Burger Thang is down the street you son of a bitch! We were dicks to bands that came in from out of town. I mean, we took care of them, they came in and out through the clubs, but we weren’t going to go overboard for any of them. Basically, if you approached us with an attitude, we were going to tell you what neighborhood to go to and have fun in to make sure you never came back to Detroit. Trust me, they would have done the same thing to us out in California and I know it for a fact. When I moved out there in ’84, I thought I had the hook-up out there but the Punk Rock brotherhood didn’t transfer fucking west of the Mississippi. “Oh yeah, the best burrito in the world can be eaten in Watts! Why don’t you go down there and eat it you white, bald boy”.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. no one can tell it Bill....
    The park (Endless Summer) was home, skating the brotherhood, music our fuel. We gave our sweat and blood for our beliefs at the park and in the streets. We took no shit and gave lil grief. For the select few this was the way we lived.
    Skating/music was not a "life style" it was LIFE!!!

  3. sorry...should have said.....
    no one can tell it LIKE Bill.....

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