Thursday, November 29, 2007

Bad Religion

Bad Religion's 1988 album "Suffer" is credited by many to be the album that resurrected the California punk rock scene. While I don't know about that, I do know it had a profound effect on my life. It's one of those records that completely blew me away from the lyrics to the energy of the music. "Suffer" was packed with tight crunchy hardcore punk songs, fantastic melodies and backup vocals, insightful ideas, and pissed off spirit that still gave listeners hope. For me it was a kick in the pants at a time when I needed motivation. Listening to Bad Religion not only made we want to destroy things, but it made want to rebuild them, better and stronger than they were before. "Suffer" surely marked Bad Religion's comeback from their glory in the early '80s, the followed it up with "No Control" in 1989 and "Against the Grain" in 1990, both great albums, then I think to some extent they fell into a rut by releasing too many albums in quick succession that sounded too much alike, it watered down their impact. But in the tail end of the '80s and early '90s, I absolutely loved this band!

This flyer was from a fairly weird show Bad Religion played on the "Against the Grain" tour, most likely in January of 1991. I think it was the only show ever held in this venue in downtown Seattle, which had a huge gymnasium type room with hard wood floors and a 4 foot stage. My friend Charlie and I got a ride to the show with this guy Dan Brougher we used to know and we hung all out during the first band in his car gulping down 40s to gear up for the show. We were big Coffin Break fans, we we went in for them. Then Skin Yard played. Now, I liked Skin Yard a lot, but they were not a straight up punk band. They played more what I'd call heavy psychedelic punk... which seemed odd to sandwich between Coffin Break and Bad Religion, but somehow it worked that night, I think they turn their ups to eleven and played faster and louder than usual. Then Bad Religion played and they totally destroyed. My god. They played so many songs off their early albums in rapid succession it was amazing. Seeing as most of their songs clocked in under two minutes, I got to hear most of my favorite songs of "Suffer" and "How Could Hell Be Any Worse?" (their first LP). I wouldn't be surprised if their was over 30 songs. It was a fantastic show I remember to this day, some 16 years later.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Recordbreakers

The Recordbreakers live at Pho Bang!

Kathleen Hanna of Bikini Kill in a pussy cat sweater

This is a photo of Bikini Kill live in the mid-'90s, I think at Seattle's Velvet Elvis Theater. I remember the show because of Kathleen Hanna's scary cat Christmas-type sweater. She made comments about pussy power that were pretty funny in relation to the sweater, then eventually said she was going to take it off, but apologized to the crowd ahead of time that she was wearing a sports bra instead of something sexier. Ha!


IMIJ was a Seattle band around in the early '90s that took their name from Jimi Hendrix, spelling his first name backwards. The singer's name was Shannon and they had sort of a punk, funk, rock hybrid going on... they'd play with similar bands like Sweaty Nipples occasionally, but mostly with Rathouse bands like The Gits and Hammerbox. I'm not sure if they ever put an album out (I could find one mention of "In Gods You Lust" in a profile of the drummer online, but no other confirmation of it, I'm gonna do some digging with ex-band members). They did have a song entitled "Friday" on the compilation LP/CD "Power Flush: San Francisco, Seattle & You." I probably saw the band live probably half a dozen times and remember partying with the singer outside of a punk show or two, she was even louder than me. These photos were from when the band played live in June of 1992 at the University District Street Fair.

Band members: Shannon on vocals, Cris Omowale on guitar, Lonnie King on guitar, Cedric Ross on bass and Davee C on drums


Zeke, live in I think Tom's backyard in the late-'90s. Nothing like punk rock, skateboarding, beers and a bbq all happening at once!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Reptilian Civilian

After catching Reptilian Civilian live at The Monkey Pub, I wanted to slap myself for missing their set a few months before at an earlier show. It was an honest mistake, really. Between bands at a show at The Lobo, all my friends wanted to go down to Mars Bar for a drink. The drink lasted too long, by the time we got back Reptilian Civilian had played and the Rock'n'Roll Adventure Kids were setting up. At the time it meant nothing to me, I'd missed a band I'd never heard of, although Owen said they were great. So a few months later I checked them out at The Monkey Pub. Within 30 seconds I thought, "Holy fuck, these guys are awesome! How could I have skipped their set?" Reptilian Civilian lurk halfway between the rawness and speed of The Motards, the slower rocked-out garage punk of The Valentine Killers, and they even throw in some indie pop. Their live act is bolstered by drunkenness and a singer who jumps, rolls and wallows with complete abandon--EXACTLY HOW A SINGER IS SUPPOSED TO. When I saw them at The Monkey, the whole band joined in and pig-piled the singer on the floor on their final song. Hell yes! They're from Portland and they play Seattle often, so go see them. They have a few songs up here too.

The Heels

The Heels put the garage back in all-girl groups! Comprised of Kirsten and Heidi from The Hot Rollers, Shelly from The Gloryholes, and a bleach blond named Paula up front, The Heels play catchy and funny garage rock'n'roll. They've only played a handful of shows in Seattle so far, but they've already recorded and proved to have their shit together both times I've seen them live. Hear them right here or catch them live December 15th at Funhouse, January 5th at the Monkey Pub or January 25th at The Rendezvous.

Clap your hands for... The Hands

I've caught The Hands like three times this year and each show has been better than the last. Amy hated them the first time we saw them, but I think they've even grown on her. The deal is they aren't punk rock at all, they don't even pretend to have that image, sound or attitude. They could just as easily play a frat party as a rock club, they have that broad of an appeal. Hell, the lead singer even somewhat reminds me of Randy Newman... but in a good way. And what they have going for them is smart and catchy rock songs, backed with soul and energy that turns out to be way more than you bargained for at first glance. The Hands are the band you want to play your party. Turn those speakers up and have a listen.

The Whore Moans

One might get the impression, given the majority of this blog's content, that I'm stuck in some kinda punk/underground rock record skip, with the album kicking off around 1986 and skipping back to the beginning when it hits 1996. Not so, I tell you! While their may be some truth to me having a fondness for my glory years, so to speak, my plan all along has been to spend the first year or so of this blog scanning in tons of my old band photos and writing stories and discographies for gone, but not forgotten, bands and venues. I still go to a fair amount of live shows and have taken an awfully large number of live photos since switching to digital photography about six years ago. Eventually newer photos and bands will start showing up more often here. And in that spirit, I want to talk about a few bands that currently make me currently want to guzzle my beer, scream, dance and shout "Hell yeah!"

First and foremost is The Whore Moans, who have a brilliant pun of a name. Local yokels may have heard of the band because inexplicably two traditionally not very supportive of punk band resources--The Stranger and KEXP--seem to love these guys. But it's not really inexplicable, because they fucking destroy live. Seriously, they are rowdy, loud, catchy, move around a ton and you have no choice but to start moving at their shows, it's a p-rock dance party. You need to check out this band live if you live near Seattle. They put out their own debut CD, Watch Out For This Thing, which I picked up when they played The High Dive back April and have been rockin' out to ever since. To get a taste of what they sound like, hop on over here.

Rick Motherfucking Sims!

"Excuse me, Captain Ahab, how did you get me so stoned?" -opening line of from the second song on The Didjits' "Hornet Pinata" album

I had picked up a few Didjits records in the '80s (their excellent "Hey Judester" LP and a few singles), but it wasn't until their 1990 album "Hornet Pinata" on Touch & Go when I was properly blown away. Blown away isn't even the right description, because that record is balls-to-the-wall amped up rock from when you drop the needle until it ends. 17 years later I'm still in love with this album. When I first brought it home, I played it... then I got stoned and played it 5 more times in a row! I don't know how many other Didjits fanatics are out there, but obviously the band had an effect on others seeing how the reviews of this album are fantastic on Amazon, The Offspring later covered the opening song "Killboy Powerhead," and The Supersuckers later recruited frontman Rick Sims to play guitar for them.

The Didjits formed in the mid-'80s in the unlikely rock'n'roll town of Mattoon, Illinois. While fairly mild-mannered offstage, Rick Sims took on the persona of Rick Didjit, a feather boa, sunglasses and suit wearing over the top frontman. He was backed up by Doug Evans on bass and his brother Brad Sims on drums (later Rey Washam from Scratch Acid drummed, as did Todd Cole). But the band was totally the Rick Sims show, he was obnoxious towards the crowd and really got things riled up live, the rockstar persona he took on was fun to watch and totally hilarious if you were in on the joke. I remember eating dinner with and interviewing the band at the Off Ramp before a show and being surprised how mellow and fairly down to earth Rick Sims was. He said it all changes when he puts on his sunglasses and boa. Ha!

The Didjits broke up in 1994 after a string of tours and releases, including 6 albums and a Sub Pop Singles Club 7". In 1995 Sims replaced Ron Heathman as the guitarist for The Supersuckers while he took "a leave of absence" from the band. He played guitar on "The Sacrilicious Sounds of the Supersuckers," toured with the band, and even sang one or two songs live. After leaving the Supersuckers, Sims started The Gaza Strippers in 1996 with Darren Hooper on bass and Todd Marino on drums. The Gaza Strippers have released 3 albums, the latest in 2002.

The Didjits original members reformed the band and played live September 9, 2006 for the Touch and Go 25th Anniversary party in Chicago. They played a second show the next weekend in Champaign. This photo of Rick Sims is from when the band played The OffRamp in Seattle in the early '90s.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


So many drinks, fights, great nights, crazy drunkeness, cool people and kick ass bands... every once in a while I think about Gibson's and just get a big grin on my face.


Named after the acronym for the assault offense of Grievous Bodily Harm, GBH formed in 1979. Their sound is often described as UK82 (not then, but now) as they were part of the next wave of UK punk bands that got big after the '70s punk era. Many of the UK82 bands were featured in the 1983 movie "UK/DK," which is definitely worth watching for the live footage, as well as to see how stupid some of the bands you liked growing up really were. Especially The Exploited, although I don't think that would surprise anyone given their lyrics. The movie has been released a few times, I think most recently on DVD by Cherry Red with added footage from 1996's Holiday in the Sun festival. I have the original on VHS and a BYO Records re-issue of it from 1995, who the hell knows why I've kept both. Other bands that fall under the UK82 label include Discharge, Disorder, The Exploited, Chaos UK, Amebix, The Varukers and a few more that embodied punk fashion (spiked hair and clothing), political and socially conscious lyrics, a fuck you attitude and played pretty straight-up punk.

This photo is from when GBH played the OffRamp in the early '90s. There was a big brawl with Nazi skins at this show when Colin the singer called them out. The crowd ended up at blows with them and pushed and punched them out of the club, then the show continued. Although for many of us GBH peaked in the mid '80s, the band is still around today releasing music and touring like mad.

Band members: Colin Abrahall on vocals, Jock Blyth on guitar, Ross Lomas on bass and Scott Preece on drums (currently, he's the 4th drummer).

Discography: Go here!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Remember Monsula?

In the later half of the '80s and early '90s there were a lot of good bands coming out of the San Francisco East Bay area. One of the main things that facilitated the growth of the East Bay Scene was 924 Gilman Street, an all ages, punk run venue that became a hub of activity for the area after their first show New Years Eve of 1986. Lots of bands that played the Gilman scene got big, including Green Day, Tilt, AFI, Mr. T Experience and Samiam... but many others that were big back 10-15 years ago aren't as well remembered, like Monsula.

Monsula formed in 1988. They played what I would have called at the time "East Bay Pop Punk" which was really a mix of poppy melodic west coat punk rock and early DC emo bands. Their songs could be really pop, but always were rough enough around the edges to suck me in. Lookout Records put out a lot their material, they played Gilman and toured a lot, and seemed pretty hot nationally around the time their second album "Sanitized" was out in 1992. These photos are from when the band played the Off Ramp on tour supporting that album in either '92 or '93. But the band had a falling out with their guitar player and had a couple friends stand in, then eventually broke up by 1994.

It's sad they are kind of forgotten, they put out great melodic, rich punk, their "Sanitized" album is definitely worth seeking out.

Band members: Paul Lee on vocals, Chuck Goshert on guitar, Bill Schnieder on bass and Jeff Stofanon drums

(Additional band members for some tours and shows included Mike Goshert of 15 on drums, Skot Pelkey of Uranium 9-Volt on drums, Paul Curran of Crimpshrine on bass, Mike Talbot and Todd Sweatfield on bass, Lance Hahn of J-Church and Cringer on guitar, and Jason White of Pinhead Gunpowder and Chino Horde on guitar).

1990 - Song "New Government" on "If You Can See Through It, It Ain't Coffee 7" comp (Very Small Records)
1990 - Song "Concrete America" on "Absolutely Zippo" comp tape
1991 - "Nickel" 7" (Lookout! Records)
1991 - "Structure" LP (Lookout! Records)
1991 - Song "Cottleston Pie" on Brouhaha 7" comp (Piggly-Wiggly Records)
1992 - "Sanitized" LP (Lookout! Records)
1992 - Song "Ocean Walked" and "We Need" on "Life is Change Volume 3" LP comp (Beri-Beri Records )
1992 - Song "Wither" on "The Big One" LP comp (Flipside Records)
1993 - Songs "Have Fun" and "Mike's Punk Rock Song" on "Live at Gilman Street 1989" tape compilation (Take a Day Records)
1999 - Song "Concrete American" on "Later That Same Year" CD comp (S.P.A.M.)

Friday, November 16, 2007

That's Sick & Wrong!

These photos of Sick & Wrong are from when the band played live at the Fantagraphics Warehouse September 20th, 1992. I have to admit, the first time we listened to Sick & Wrong's debut single "Wesson Oil" in the 10 Things office (AKA my old apartment on The Ave), I didn't get it and gave it a bad review. Then I saw the band live and holy shit... costumes, dildos, nudity, and the songs were actually really funny. We actually re-reviewed the single in the next issue to give it the praise it deserved! "Wesson Oil" became mandatory on the playlist at every party, we'd have a room full of drunk people singing along (although this was not really an uncommon occurrence, but "Wesson Oil" is a GREAT party song).

The band formed in 1990 and seemed to have a somewhat rotating cast of musicians (Adam, Johnny Abortion, Muddy, Static and Jim Anderson among them), but always up front were Farrah and Mr. Wendy (with her trademark strap on dildo). Two brushes with the media help propel Sick & Wrong's popularity. The first came one night at The Storeroom Tavern when a BBC camera crew, in town to get some footage on "Seattle's Grunge Scene" caught the band live and were blown away. When they were later filming at Sub Pop Records, they asked owners Bruce Pavitt and Jonathan Poneman why Sick & Wrong weren't on their label. It must have seemed like a good question, because a few months later Sub Pop put out their debut "Wesson Oil" single. The band's second brush with the press was when Sick & Wrong became the inspiration for the band featured in Peter Bagge's comic "Hate," published by Fantagraphics. "Hate" centered around a lazy grunge kid named Buddy who lived in Seattle in the '90s. Buddy managed a band very much like Sick & Wrong. Bagge ended up doing the cover art for their first album when it came out on Vagrant Records.

The Sub Pop and Fantagraphics connections, along with the outlandish live show, helped Sick & Wrong have a pretty good run for probably six years of releases and live shows. Mr. Wendy and Johnny Abortion went on to be in the band Rot13 for many years, and today Mr. Wendy can be found skating as "Elle Incarnate" for Rat City Rollergirls 2007 champions Grave Danger.

Brother Buzz

This is a photo of Brother Buzz practicing in their basement back in 1992. Brother Buzz was a short-lived Seattle band in the early '90s playing melodic punk, they released one single on Empty entitled "Dynamite" before disbanding. Drummer Tyler and bassist Adam, both pictured, went on to start the Kent 3 with Mike Pitts on vocals the following year. Oddly enough, the Kent 3 today, while a great band, features none of the original members.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Washington Hall Today

I got to thinking more about Washington Hall after my last entry and realized I had no idea what it looked like today. So on my lunch break, I grabbed my camera and took a drive up. I forgot it was right next to the Juvie prison, awesome. The front actually looks pretty nice, they've painted it in the last decade to give it the illusion of being a sound building.

From the sides and rear the building looks a lot worse for wear. I remember hanging out in this doorway trying to keep dry in the rain drinking beers between bands. As I walked around the hall today I saw a few broken windows and screens, beer cans, worn out steps and doors, and a whole lot of moss growing on it, although it all looked pretty cosmetic, the brick and foundation still looked great, it's definitely savable.

I'll be damned if that ain't the same sign about renting the hall from the '80s that's still up above the front entrance!

Washington Hall - Seattle Venue For 100 Years

"We played the Washington Hall that night with the Dils, the Dishrags, China Comidas, and Blow Up. It was a good show, and it started a good thing between D.O.A. and Seattle, a great city." -Joey Shithead from DOA, recalling his band's first Seattle show in 1979 in his book "I, Shithead"

Washington Hall opened in Seattle Central District 1908 on the corner of 14th and Fir. It was built by the Danish Brotherhood Society who operated it until they sold it to The Sons of Haiti, a Masonic group, in 1965. Currently the building is in disrepair and for sale by the Masons. In all likelihood it will be torn down and condos will be erected in it's place with all the other gentrification and rebuilding that's been going on in the CD. But there is hope, although there have been developer offers, The Stranger has reported The Annex Theater is looking at it as a possible new home and King County has apparently made an offer on the building. I really hope Washington Hall is saved, not only is it a beautiful old building, but it's history is forever entwined with Seattle's music scene.

While in it's early years the only type of concerts Washington Hall hosted were Danish musicians and dance groups, the Danish Brotherhood Society began renting out it's concert space to the local black community for events, which included over the years musicians like Billie Holiday, Chuck Berry, Little Richard and Big Mama Thornton, as well as speakers like Martin Luther King Jr. In the 1960's Jimi Hendrix played his first show at the hall.

In 1978 the theater group On The Boards leased Washington Hall from the current owners The Sons of Haiti, and to make ends meet, they occasionally rented out the space for early punk shows featuring bands like The Dead Kennedys, Black Flag, Subhumans, Dils, Vains, and DOA. Apparently there was a riot at a 1980 Black flag show that Paul Solger booked. On the Boards theater director Robert McGinley recalled in Seattle Times article from 06/11/2007, "We'd be up until the wee hours of the morning cleaning after the shows... people were urinating, swinging from the (stage) curtain." Ha ha ha!

My first show at Washington Hall was when I was still in highschool, I think it was Agent Orange in 1985. I remember being totally wowed by the number of kids hanging outside, although I don't really recall much of the show beyond hanging out, drinking and talking to people a lot. From 1986 to 1990 I remember going to punk, underground rock and grunge shows there fairly often. Seeing bands like Cat Butt, The Gits, Green River, Christ on a Crutch, Gas Huffer, Subvert, Seaweed, The Jesters of Chaos, My Eye, Resolution and plenty of others. The shows were usually run by kids that started their own production groups like The Milkbone Collective and Dirthead. It was a great venue for all-ages shows because it was located within the city, cheap to rent, had a good sized space that could fit at least 200 kids, and was in a neighborhood that was tolerant of rock shows. I probably saw 20-25 great shows there that I fondly remember.

Photos of Washington Hall today are here.

Beat Happening

I have to admit, I never really liked Beat Happening. I always felt like they were missing something. Whether they were too pop for me, their lack of exciting or energetic songs, Calvin Johnson's off-key vocals and pretentious attitude, or the whole package, something seemed off. But I give Johnson major props for doing a silly, stripped down, off-key pop band his own way for so many years not really caring what the critics thought. It hasn't garnered him near the attention his record label K Records has, but he kept the band going for nearly twenty years and tons of releases and that's a hell of an accomplishment.

Beat Happening was formed by Johnson, Heather Lewis and Bret Lunsford back in 1982 in Olympia at The Evergreen State College. Around this time, the college that was previously thought of as "The Hippy College" was starting to attract a few punk rockers and DIY types that would eventually start an independent music movement. Most of Beat Happening's releases came out on Calvin's label or Sub Pop, their latest being 2003's "Music to Climb the Apple Tree By" CD, which was their second release in a row compiling old material. While the band never officially announced a brake up, they haven't recorded or played live this decade and their last two release quite some time ago compiled about everything they had previously released--if that's not a sign of being done, I don't know what is.

This photo of Calvin is from when the band played a live show with Sick and Wrong at the old Fantagraphics comic warehouse in Greenwood on September 20th, 1992 (at the same time, Pearl Jam was playing a free show at Warren Magnusen Park, go figure) . I think it was shortly before Fantagraphics moved out and the warehouse was torn down (Fantagraphics now operates out of an old house close to the Roosevelt Safeway). Weird show, but they let us bring beer in, I think it was free, and a good 100 people came. Live video footage of this show is out there, some of it is featured on the "Hooked on Comix Volume 1" DVD with a bunch of great Fantagraphics artist interviews.

  • 1984 - "Beat Happening" self-titled cassette (K Records)
  • 1984 - "Three Tea Breakfast" cassette tape (K Records)
  • 1984 - "Our Secret" 7" (K Records)
  • 1984 - Song on "Pursuit of Happiness compilation (Sound of Pig Music)
  • 1985 - "Beat Happening" self-titled LP (K Records)
  • 1985 - Song on "Let's Kiss" compilation (K Records)
  • 1985 - Song on "Distant Violins" compilation (Distant Violins)
  • 1986 - Song on "Let's Sea" compilation (K Records)
  • 1987 - "Look Around" 7" (K Records)
  • 1988 - Crushing Through 12" (53nd & 3rd Records)
  • 1988 - Beat Happening/Screaming Trees split 12" (K Records/Homestead)
  • 1988 - "Jamboree" LP (K Records/Rough Trade)
  • 1988 - "Honey Pot" 7" (53nd & 3rd Records)
  • 1988 - Song on "Display Items for Supermarkets" compilation (Toytown)
  • 1988 - Song on "Good Feeling" compilation (53nd & 3rd Records)
  • 1988 - Song on "Sub Pop 200" box set compilation (Sub Pop)
  • 1989 - "Black Candy" LP (K Records/Rough Trade)
  • 1989 - "Froggy Eyes" 7" (Chemical Imbalance)
  • 1990 - "Nancy Sin" 7" (K Records)
  • 1990 - "Red Head Walking" 7" (Sub Pop)
  • 1991 - "1983-1985" LP (K/Feel Good All Over)
  • 1991 - Dreamy LP (K Records/Sub Pop)
  • 1991 - Split cassette with The Vaselines (K Records)
  • 1991 - "Sea Hunt" 7" (K Records/Bi-Joopiter)
  • 1991 - Song on "Pluralism-D" compilation (Bi-Joopiter)
  • 1991 - Song on "The Grunge Years" compilation (SubPop)
  • 1991 - Song on "International Pop Convention" compilation (K Records)
  • 1992 - You Turn Me On LP (K Records/Sub Pop)
  • 1992 - "Not a Care in the World" 7" (SubPop)
  • 1992 - Song on "Pop Com Convention Sampler" compilation (SubPop)
  • 1992 - Song on "Soluble Fish" compilation (Homestead)
  • 1992 - Song on "fternoon Delight compilation (SubPop)
  • 1992 - Song on "An Empty Threat" compilation (Atom Records)
  • 1993 - Song on "International Hip Swing" compilation (K Records)
  • 1993 - Song on "Revolution Come and Gone" compilation (SubPop)
  • 1993 - Song on "Say Hello to the Far East" compilation (Sony Japan)
  • 1993 - Song on an untitled compilation with The Cannanes & The Ex (Kommotion)
  • 1995 - Song on "Screaming Life" compilation (SubPop)
  • 1999 - "Angel Gone" 7" (International Pop Underground)
  • 2002 - Crashing Through box set of all past releases (K Records)
  • 2003 - Music to Climb the Apple Tree box set of b-sides and rarites (K Records)

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Bombshelter Videos

Naked Raygun will be playing Seattle in a few weeks, the first time since they reunited. Getting hyped for the show I was listening to an old CD and their song "Bombshelter" came on and a flood of memories came back about Bombshelter Videos, a Northwest TV show that used the Naked Raygun song as their theme song.

This photo is of Bombshelter host Bill Bored (in real life Frank Harlan) from a show he MC'ed at the Off Ramp back in the early '90s. Bombshelter Videos ran for a year on Channel 11 (KSTW) for a year starting in November of 1987, then it moved to Channel 22 (KTZZ) for a 3 year run. The show had pretty humble beginnings, Bill Bored would pretend to climb down a ladder into a bombshelter covered with band posters and play low-budget punk and alternative videos. Or as Bill Bored said it, he played the latest videos of "UndergroundGarageBandArtThrashNoiseMusic." Some of the bands were well-known underground artists like Bad Brains, Black Flag, Sonic Youth, Mojo Nixon and The Dead Milkmen, or metal bands like Voivod and Death Angel, but there was always room for local bands and bizarre stuff you had never heard before--like a song about a vacuum attachment called "Crevice Tool" or a transvestite dressed as a housewife singing "Open up my lovin' oven!"

I watched the show fairly religiously, often setting up the VCR to tape episodes if I was out at a show or party. To this day, while I've gotten rid of almost all of my old VHS tapes, I've hung on to my shitty copies of Bombshelter Videos (and another local show, Almost Live). What made the show so great, besides the punk rock and local videos, was Harlan's goofy demeanor and dumb jokes, which post-Bombshelter (and Northwest Rock, another video show he did later with just local videos) he turned into a career as entertainer and facilitator.

Frank has put a few clips and videos from the show up on YouTube. He also has a website for Bombshelter Videos with some of the episode guides and more info for anyone on a nostalgia kick.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Derelicts

This photo series of The Derelicts is from a reunion show the band played at the concert hall under St. Joseph's church on Capitol Hill around 1994.

In the later half of the 1980's and early 1990's the punk scene was pretty lackluster nationally. The energy of the movement had been watered down, people had died or moved on, the remaining people were often jaded and fucked up. The scene was fairly small. It was before Nirvana hit big, before you could buy blue hair color at the mall, before body piercings were available locally, when there was only one or two tattoo parlors in Seattle, before Hot Topic, before Green Day... basically an era when you still would get jumped walking down the street with colored hair. Grunge hadn't made looking weird acceptable on the streets of Seattle yet and you could only read about current punk bands in underground fanzines, they didn't make it into the mainstream press very often unless there was a riot or stabbing at a show. Locally a handful of bands kept things going strong like The Jesters of Chaos, The Accused, Portland's Poison Idea, Brotherhood, Christ on a Crutch, Subvert, Resolution, Aspirin Feast... and The Derelicts. Their fast, drunken, catchy tunes were backed up by a great live show and an always fun sing along to "My Dad's a Fucking Alcoholic."

Band Members: Duane Bodenheimer on vocals, Neil Rogers on guitar, Ian Dunsmore on bass and Rick Bilotti on drums.

  • Bullet for Fifi 7" (1989, Penultimate Records)
  • Time to Fuck Up 7" (1990, Empty Records US)
  • Misery Maker 7" (1990, Sub Pop & Glitterhouse)
  • Love Machine LP (1990, Penultimate Records)
  • Beir, Beir, Beir LP (1990, Musical Tragedies)
  • Derelicts/ Zipgun split 7" (1991, Broken Rekids, re-released in 1992 by Empty Records US)
  • Don't Wanna Live 2 x 7"/CD5 (1991, Sub Pop)
  • Song "Somebody's Gonna Get Their Head Kicked In" on Puget Power Act 2 x 7" compilation (1991, Regal Select)
  • Song "Lost Cause" on The Estrus Half-Rack 3 x 7"/CD compilation (1991, Estrus)
  • Song "Dirty Rotten Life" on Bobbing For Pavement compilation LP (1991, Rathouse Records, re-released on CD in 1995 by Broken Rekids)
  • Song "Born to Kill" on Another Damned Seattle Compilation LP/CD (1992, Dashboard Hula Girl/Musical Tragedies)
  • Going Out of Style 1986-1990 CD (1994, Empty Records US)
  • Songs "I Wanna Get Out" and "Life of Strife" on Empty Sampler 2 CD (1997, Empty Records US)
Neil and Ian went on to play in Zipgun, who recently played a reunion gig at Geezerfest.

Empty Records

This photo is of Blake Wright and Meghan Smith of Empty Records from back in the late-'90s when the label operated out of the attic of Blake's Ballard house. It's funny, when most people think of Seattle record labels, Sub Pop is the first that comes to mind. And while I think in the first half of the '90s Sub Pop was clearly the most important Seattle music label, by halfway through that decade Empty Records took over. Sub Pop kick started the grunge movement by releasing so many local records and grabbing international headlines. Nirvana, Soundgarden, Mudhoney, Tad, the who's who of Seattle's grunge scene were all on Sub Pop. But by 1993, their biggest bands had all left for major labels, their popular Single's Club had petered out, and the label dropped their Northwest focus and were signing more out-of-state bands than locals. In 1995 they signed away 49% of company to Warner Bros and the following year co-founder Bruce Pavitt left the label.

Enter Empty Records. Blake and two of his friends had been running the label since the '80s. Since Blake was the only one located in Seattle, he began putting out local bands. His early releases on the label included The Accused, The Fartz, The Derelicts, The Fumes and TFL. By the '90s things began to take off with a slew of Northwest singles and LPs from bands like like The Gits, Sicko, Gas Huffer, The Catheters, The Sinister Six, Zipgun, The Supersuckers, Cracker Bash, Steel Wool, Girl Trouble, The Putters, The Statics, Satan's Pilgrims, Dead Moon, Murder City Devils, and The Fireballs of Freedom. Bands that later signed to majors, Sub Pop or C/Z Records often had their first releases and promotion through Empty Records (The Gits, Murder City Devils and Catheters, for example). The Empty sound wasn't as definable as Sub Pop's, but the bulk of music coming out of the label by the mid to late '90s was either energetic garage punk or pop punk, and most of the label's fans loved both! During it's hey day from 1992-1994, Empty had an office, a couple staff members (Tammy Watson of Kill Sybil, Annee, and I also remember Ean from Sicko packing records when I'd stop by the Empty office), and was putting out a new release almost every month. Not bad for a totally independent local record label.

In the later '90s as interest in Seattle's music scene winded down and some of his biggest bands had broken up of left for bigger labels, Blake went back to work full time and ran the label on a slightly slower gear out of his attic, with lots of help from his friend Meghan Smith. He branched out to releasing bands he loved from outside the Northwest, like The Motards, Reatards, Drags and Scared of Chaka - all fantastic bands. He eventually faced a lawsuit from is ex-label partner Joe Raimond in Germany over the name of the label, which resulted in a slight name change to Empty Records USA. Blake relocated to Portland a few years ago and still is releasing records, in past few years he's put out albums by King Louie & the Loose Diamonds, Snitches Get Stitches, Bamboo Kids, Pure Country Gold, Lover!, Dark Skies, The New York Rifles, Dark Skies, Tokyo Electron and more, check out for more details.

Meghan Smith is now a kick-ass Rat City Rollergirls competitor for The Derby Liberation Front and does a cool yardsale blog you can find a link to over on the right.

The thing that has always made Empty Records a great label, although not a financial success, is Blake takes the time to get to know and befriend every band he releases. He's a stand up guy with lots of loyal fans and friends and his mark on Northwest music during the '90s was enormous.

Thursday, November 8, 2007


This photo of Fat Mike of NOFX is from 1995, when the band played at Seattle's King Cat Theater with Face to Face. I had lined up an interview with NOFX ahead of time through their tour promoter, so went down early to the venue. It's never the same when you go to do a band interview. Bigger bands may have a roadie or tour manager with them that handle everything, but usually you have to talk your way into the venue or find someone from the band out back smoking or loading shit in and approach them yourselves. The front doors of the theater were locked and I saw no one, so I walked around and found a side door propped open. I walked in and walked out on the stage where NOFX was sound checking and playing a few songs. No one paid attention to me at all, so I jumped off the stage and sat in the theater seats and watched the band's mini-set with a bunch of dudes with colored hair who turned out to be Face to Face. The Face to Face guys were cool and talkative, they asked about why I was there and eventually flagged Fat Mike down for me to say I was there. Mike had injured his leg and it was in a cast, so he was gimping around. He said lets take a walk and we went outside and did an interview sitting in a doorway. The best part of the interview was when a young punk kid came up and tried to sell Mike a ticket to the show, not realizing who he was. "Come on man, you should buy it, NOFX are really good," the kid said. Mike replied, "No way man, I heard those guys suck!" I was completely losing it laughing, then Fat Mike busted out laughing, but the kid never caught on who he was talking to. Ha ha ha!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Fitz of Depression

Olympia's Fitz of Depression began back in 1988 and have been plugging along on and off in some incarnation or another ever since. Over two decades they've amassed a large number of releases, a laundry list of famous bands they've played with, a large number of tours and past live shows, and quite a few ex-band members. Two things that have remained constant is their blend of heavy rock and catchy punk and frontman Mike Dees. I've always loved how the band can transition from a pounding Melvins-esque tune to a perfect melodic punk song and back again and make it work. I can't think of any time I've seen them live (and I must have seen them two dozen times) that they put on a bad show, Mike always brings his A game. Check out their website for more info and to hear some tunes. This photo is from about 12 years ago. I took it on the streets of Olympia under some weird sign with cool lighting after interviewing the band.


Fight for Change

This was an old Washington straightedge hardcore band called Fight for Change, playing live at a house party in Olympia in the mid-'90s. I love the seriousness of the singer screaming juxtaposed with the goofy cat picture on the wall that makes the cat look like it's peering over the shoulder of the drummer.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

The Central Tavern used to be Punk Rock

When I was under 21 and Seattle's Teen Dance Hall Ordinance was in full-effect, I, like many other underage kids would road trek to Tacoma, Bremerton, Olympia and other nearby cities to catch punk shows. We'd also be completely disappointed when we'd see flyers like this one for bands we were dying to see that would play at bars we couldn't get into. The Central Tavern in Seattle's Pioneer Square seemed to host a ton of great punk shows when I was in my late teens, from Black Flag to DOA, I collected the flyers of telephone poles, even though I couldn't attend the shows.

Many of the early Sub Pop shows took place at The Central. In Everett True's Nirvana book, photographer Charles Peterson describes the scene:

What were the audiences like at the early Seattle Sub Pop shows?
"Small," replies Peterson. "No more than a hundred people. The Central Tavern held 250 at most."
How did the audience dress?
"Terribly," laughs the photographer. "Dress was not a big concern in Seattle. It still isn't. There's a picture of an early audience in '83 that I call the 'stray dogs from every village'. There is no uniform sense of style at all. There's a little big of hippie, some glam, there's the trench coat, the flannel coat. One boy's got the leather jacket with the Sid Vicious pin on it, a little bit of punk. We just liked thrift store clothes. It was an amalgamation of stuff.

Oddly enough, by the time I was old enough to go to bar shows, there were really no longer any punk or grunge shows at the Central. It had switched over to being part of Pioneer Square's "Joint Cover Night" and featured mostly standard bar rock bands and roving groups of young frat boys and the bridge and tunnel crowd. Pretty much exactly as it is today.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Blanks '77

The Blanks '77 formed in 1990. They made some noise with a few singles, went through a few line-up changes and played out a bunch, but it wasn't until their album "Killer Blanks" was released in 1996 on Radical Records that the band got a significant following and toured the States. As their name implies, the band had a '70s punk sound, and I think they nailed it quite well on their first two albums. Mike's vocals were particularly snotty, which I tend to love. This photo is from when the band played live at Seattle's Rkcndy in August of 1997, also on the bill were The Catheters, The Retards and The Anti-Heroes. Kinda weird line-up and show.

LP Discography:
  • Killer Blanks LP (1996, Radical Records)
  • Tanked and Pogoed LP (1996, Radical Records)
  • C.B.H. (1988, Radical Records)
Singles, splits and comps:
  • "Destroy your Generation" 7" (Headache Records)
  • "Unite and Pogo" 7" (Vandal Children)
  • "Live in Chicago 7/7/94" 7" (1996, V.M.L.)
  • "Punks and Skins" 7" picture disc & black vinyl (Headache)
  • "I Wanna be a Punk " red vinyl (Radical)
  • Blanks 77/Forklift split 7" (Vandal Children)
  • Blanks 77/Quincy Punx split 7" (Turkey Baster)
  • Blanks 77/Fuckin Faces split 7" red vinyl (Hohnie)
  • Blanks 77/Showcase Showdown "Drunk at the Karaoke Bar" split 7" (Tario)
  • Blanks 77/Submachine split 7"
  • Song "Jehovah's Witness" on Panx Vinyl Zine 11 7" compilation (Panx)
  • Song "We're the Ones" on Heavenly Tunes compilation (OX Records)

Friday, November 2, 2007

Gas Huffer

I'm having a tough time remembering all the details of the show this photo was shot at. It was at Volunteer Park in 1989 or 1990 and it was some sort of anarchy-themed show with a bunch of political punk bands. Gas Huffer seemed sort of like an odd band on the bill, but were probably the biggest name. Oh, and there was a flag burning at this show, I still have a star from the flag on my leather jacket held on by cone spikes, ha ha ha.

Right around this time flag burning was a big deal both in Seattle and on the national scene, where they were trying to pass some sort of anti-flag desecration act. The punk community got involved when a local punk/skin kid named Darius Strong pissed on and later burned a flag and was one of four people that were arrested and were in one of the flag desecration trials. Here's an eye witness account of the night he was arrested:

"A skinhead climbed the pole to the roof of the building. He produced another flag. The crowd, mistakenly assuming he was a NAZI skinhead, began chanting "Fuck the NAZIs," etc. He screamed back at them, taunted them, then demonstrated his solidarity by throwing the flag down and pissing on it. This was met with applause. The skinhead (Darius Strong) then climbed down and walked away. People milled around for awhile, then wandered off."

Ha ha ha. Strong made it his thing, the pissing on and burning of flags became a regular deal from him, I remember him doing it outside punk shows at Washington Hall and at parties (he ended up dating a friend of a friend). It was kind of cool at the time to see a guy you'd see at parties and shows on the local and national news all decked out in punk gear and talking about flag burning and freedom, although it was kind ridiculous too. Eventually the charges against Strong and the other three Seattle people were dismissed.

And what's this have to do with Gas Huffer? Very little, although that Darius Strong guy helped burn a flag on stage at this show and ironically enough, Gas Huffer's first single was called "Firebug" and was all about someone that like to burn things. This is probably my earliest photo of Gas Huffer before I had even started doing 10 Things zine, I'm pretty sure this picture ran with a Seattle scene report I wrote for Maximum Rock'n'Roll.

The Makers

This photo I shot of Mike Maker preaching the bible during a Makers show at a record store on The Ave (Seattle's University Way). He was standing on the CD rack walking across the merchandise at the time, that's why he's up by the ceiling.

Thursday, November 1, 2007


You may have read or listened to my Courtney Love story already, but I haven't actually talked too much about her band Hole. And let's face it, her band has always been completely overshadowed by the living disaster/marvel that is Courtney Love. It was Courtney that latched onto male band leaders, threw drunken tantrums, pushed herself to extremes, and clawed her way into getting famous, while the remaining members of Hole always seemed to sit quietly in the background, coming along for the ride... or dying along the way. Most of the early Hole shows I saw were a complete disaster. At two shows at Seattle's Off Ramp Courtney was so drunk she could barely perform. Oddly enough at one of these, after the rest of the band got disgusted and walked off stage and someone had to get her a stool to sit on so she didn't fall over, she sat down and did a couple beautiful versions of her songs solo.

This photo is from a bigger show at The Moore after "Live Through This" had been released by Geffen and the band was playing a lot more sober, motivated to put on a good show to promote their new album and burgeoning stardom. For me, by this time the band no longer mattered, they were cleaned up, re-packaged and sold to the mainstream. Courtney was now the prom queen gone wrong, the princess with the tarnished tiara, fully copying the slip wearing style of Babes in Toyland frontwoman Kat Bjelland. She was living with a millionaire rock star and was far removed from her earlier harsh life as slutty, drunk runaway. It was earlier in Hole's career, when they were still a bunch of fuck-ups and drug addicts with no hints of fame or fortune, where Love and her cohort's brilliance shown the brightest. If you go back to 1990's "Retard Girl" 7" (produced by Falling James), their 1991 Sub Pop single "Dicknail," their bootleg Peel Sessions 7", and even their debut LP "Pretty on the Inside" on Caroline, that's where their music was a dirty and grimy and evoked feelings of finding power and strength when surrounded by darkness. That's when their music was real. That all got lost as they polished up their music and cleaned up their act for more widespread attention and fame... a story we've seen played out a thousand other times and surely will a thousand times again.

More live Unwound photos!

These were all shot live at a show at The Velvet Elvis. I can't believe in the final picture that there is a kid standing up front plugging his ear with his eyes closed... right in front of the band! It's a punk show, not a jazz concert, dumbass!