Tag Archives: nostalgia

First Time with The Boys

nipsOn Friday, May 16, first-wave U.K. punkmeisters The Boys will be headlining day two of HoZac Records‘ three-day Blackout festival in Chicago. Crazily, this will mark their fourth U.S. performance since the 1977 release of their glorious first single “I Don’t Care,” and I’m slightly devastated I won’t be there. Sure, I’ve seen them beforetwice, even, thanks to the Holidays in the Sun festivals (now the Rebellion Festivals)—but that was over a decade ago, both times in echoey, cavernous venues, quite unlike the intimate Empty Bottle in which they’ll be playing in the next 60 hours.

Had I continued to make my zine, perhaps I would possess better recollections than I do now. As it stands, I remember my first time with The Boys a bit more clearly than the second. It was in 2000 at the three-day Holidays in the Sun fest in Bergara, a Spanish Basque town numbering 11,000 or so citizens that, amazingly, had a dedicated rock venue called Sala Jam. (Coincidentally, it was festooned with posters promoting a show with NYC legends The Dictators, who are also playing this year’s Blackout.) I loved the historic quarter and the friendly locals, who got a kick out of a red-haired Asian girl chirping Basque phrases at them. They were pretty chill with all the punks and skinheads that mobbed their otherwise sleepy streets, too. Judging by the broken toilet tank covers after the first day, I’m sure little sleep was had by festgoers that weekend. The Boys’ performance itself was a singalong pogo party.

Perhaps my memories from that encounter are sharper since my senses were heightened after a would-be mugging incident in Bilbao a day earlier (luckily, the purple grip marks on my arm that I received while fending off my traveling companion’s attacker faded a week later). It helps that I have terrible photos (some taken with my tetraptych-producing Nickelodeon PhotoBlaster) and a fuzzy recording of a brief interview I nabbed with Matt Dangerfield and Honest John Plain. Among the hard-hitting topics tackled: their first time, and the accompanying soundtrack (if any).

Matt: “It was done in complete silence, I think. Well, not complete silence, but there was no music playing. For me it was a drunken fumble.”
Honest John: “Beatles, Stones, Bob Dylan.”
Matt: “What? You were listening to three albums when you were doing it for the first time?”
Honest John: “Well, I took a long time….No, I think my mum! My mother downstairs saying, ‘What are you doing up there, John? Whaddya want from the fish shop?’ I’m afraid that was it. I didn’t have music on at the time.”

It pains me that I won’t be seeing them again, so I hope you go and report back!

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The Boys, Bergara, Spanish Basque Country | September 2000

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The Boys, Bergara, Spanish Basque Country | September 2000

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Bergara bathroom wall (note giant spider and web) | September 2000

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Bergara, taken with Nickelodeon PhotoBlaster | September 2000

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How Jawbreaker Spent a Week with Nirvana & Lost All Their Punk Rock Credibility

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My Letter to the World #8, with Blake Schwarzenbach’s floppy disk

In February 1993, Lookout Record darlings Green Day caused an uproar among punk circles when they confirmed that they’d be signing to a major label. For some, the 1994 release of Dookie on Reprise Records meant the beginning of the end of punk rock, and likely helped groups like the Offspring and Rancid find mainstream success despite their indie status at the time.

The same year that Green Day contended with accusations of selling out, San Francisco band Jawbreaker agreed to join Nirvana for six shows during their In Utero tour. Twenty years later, it seems like no big deal, but this embittered a huge clutch of their fans. As I mentioned in a post I wrote last year, I asked singer/guitarist Blake Schwarzenbach to keep a tour diary and let me publish it in my zine My Letter to the World. He handed it over to me on a floppy disk (remember those?) a few weeks after Jawbreaker returned and that issue came out on December 16, 1993. Less than four months later, Kurt Cobain was found dead in his Seattle home.

My world was microscopic in the 1990s so I actually remember where I was when Kurt’s death (and Joey Ramone’s on April 15, 2001, for that matter) was officially announced in the media: at KALX. I had finished up the 9:30am-12pm slot (playlist below) and was putting away my records when a listener called in with the news. (This was before the ubiquity of the World Wide Web, and still a time when breaking news was attained only via TV or radio.) DJ Mickey took the call and informed the KALX listeners.

It’s always sad when someone passes away, especially when it’s believed to be by his own hand. However, I can’t say I was devastated by his death, even though both Bleach and Nevermind were integral parts of my mid-to-late teenhood. Hearing songs from either album still reminds me of the bleakest, most miserable points of my life to date (which I realize is absolutely fitting and the reason to this day I can’t bear to listen to Nirvana), so perhaps I appreciate the relief he achieved through death.

Getting back to Jawbreaker, Blake stated in his piece, “It has been my official platform since last year (when major labels began expressing an interest in usoh, those foolish magnates!) to never sign to a major label. I stand firmer in this belief today than ever….” As it turns out, they’d sign to DGC Records in 1995 and release Dear You before breaking up in 1996. Here’s the tour diary in its entirety (click images for a larger view) as well as my playlist from that fateful day in April.

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How Jawbreaker Spent a Week with Nirvana & Lost All Their Punk Rock Credibility (part 1 of 3) | My Letter to the World #8

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How Jawbreaker Spent a Week with Nirvana & Lost All Their Punk Rock Credibility (part 2 of 3) | My Letter to the World #8

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How Jawbreaker Spent a Week with Nirvana & Lost All Their Punk Rock Credibility (part 3 of 3) | My Letter to the World #8

* = feature play
$ = request

4/8/94: FRIDAY 9:30am-noon

THE WHO – Pictures of Lily
* LUNA – Tiger Lily
JOHNNY COPELAND – Rock ‘n’ Roll Lily
*$ WANKIN’ TEENS – Salt Lake City Airport
ANGRY SAMOANS – Inside My Brain
EX – Jake’s Cake

*$ TOTAL CHAOS – Systems Downfall
COCKPIT – I Wanna a Man in a Skirt
3-D INVISIBLES – Wolfman on Your Tail
* GOLDENTONES – Miserlou

MEAT WHIPLASH – Losing Your Grip
JESUS & MARY CHAIN – Boyfriend’s Dead
* NILS – Scratches & Needles
ABRASIVE WHEELS – Danger Danger
TELEVISION PERSONALITIES – Brian’s Magic Car

* THE JAM – Heatwave
THE DICKS – Rich Daddy
ZANTEES – Please Give Me Something
TATTOOED CORPSES – Jack Zombie
* YOUTH BRIGADE – Punk Rock Mom

ORDER OF DECAY – Confused
SHANGRI-LAS – Leader of the Pack
TOY DOLLS – I’ll Get Even with Steven
* THE TRASHWOMEN – Space Needle

ANNISTEEN ALLEN – Fujiyama Mama
NAKED RAYGUN – Backlash Jack
THE HELLBILLYS – Bucket of Blood
BILLY NAYER SHOW – Bouncy Bouncy
D.I. – Richard Hung Himself

THE LUNACHICKS – Jan Brady
ADAM & THE ANTS – Jolly Roger
RUTH BROWN – This Little Girl’s Gone Rockin’
THE REVILLOS – Do the Mutilation
LAVERNE BAKER – Hey Memphis

* CHARLES BROWN SUPERSTAR – Slut Rock
THE CRESTONES – She’s a Bad Motorcycle
THE FASTBACKS – You Can’t Be Happy
TOMMY MARTIN & THE XLs – Hoochie Coochie
* WEDDING PRESENT – Happy Birthday

THE RAMONES – Danny Says
BLITZ – Nation on Fire
INFA RIOT – Riot Riot
THE BUSINESS – Suburban Rebels

DEAD MILKMEN – Watching Scotty Die
THE 4-SKINS – Sorry
AFI – High School Football Hero
* JOHNNY PEEBUCKS & THE SWINGIN’ UTTERS – Here We Are Nowhere
MAD SOCIETY – Napalm

* AGRESSION – Rat Race
RIOT SQUAD – Friday Night Hero

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Davey Havok’s Troubles with Women

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AFI (924 Gilman Street; August 7, 1994) with Chaos U.K., M.D.C., Swingin’ Utters & Toxic Narcotic

It seems like just yesterday I was standing outside 924 Gilman Street with AFI/Blaqk Audio’s Davey Havok as he swooned over a blue-haired girl who had smiled at him, grabbing my arm to contain his excitement. Yet it also feels like several lifetimes ago. I suppose it’s hard to believe nowadays that he’d be nervous in the presence of beautiful women but, as he wrote here and here, they liked to give him grief and his apprehension was understandable.

Not long after that episode, we were in his tiny studio apartment, giggling about one of the many racy fan letters AFI received after MRR ran their first interview (issue 137). We didn’t foresee AFI’s endurance and its evergrowing legion of devoted fans. Heck, after our lives diverged sometime in the late ’90s, I had no idea they had outgrown small punk rock shows until I saw them perform again in 2003 during their Sing the Sorrows tour.

I had arrived in London with my new travel buddy Domo-Kun to conduct research for the novel I was working on at the time. It involved a walking tour that encompassed London’s historic punk and rock’n’roll venues, listening to John Peel’s show on the radio (what a thrill!), a bus tour of England’s mystical sights (Stonehenge, Glastonbury, King Arthuer’s grave, Avebury), and a walk-through of the London Astoria. One day I thumbed through Time Out and learned that not only were Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds and Nick Lowe playing separate sold-out shows the next evening, so was AFI.

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AFI crowd outside London Forum (June 6, 2003) | Fujifilm FinePix A101

On a whim, I headed over to the Forum the next afternoon in hopes of catching the guys once they were done with soundcheck. To my surprise, despite doors opening at 7pm, at 4:30pm there was already a long line of people waiting to get in. In addition, dozens of kids were hanging out by the side of the venue, which was apparently where the band’s dressing room overlooked.

Though I thought there was little chance the band would venture into this mob scene, I joined them and met fans from London, elsewhere in England, and even Europe. They were quite competitive with each other, detailing how long they’d been listening to the band, how many times they’d seen and met them, etc. Several times they’d rally together and chant one of the guy’s names, hoping for a response. Occasionally Dave, Jade, Adam, or Hunter would stick his head out the window and the kids would cheer. It was quite exciting, actually, and all that unbridled enthusiasm swept me back to my very first concert (Lollapalooza #1, with Siouxsie & the Banshees, NIN, Henry Rollins, Ice T, and Jane’s Addiction). At one point Dave affixed a small basket to a rope, filled it with vegan cookies, and then lowered it into the crowd, much to everyone’s delight.

Hunter, the new member of AFI at the time, came out and was immediately mobbed by autograph and photo seekers. I’d never met him before but managed to fight through the crowd and ask him to tell the others that I was in town. He obliged and eventually Dave hung out the window (cue an explosion of cheers) to look for me.

Their show turned out to be a bonafide concert, complete with an enormous stage, dazzling light show, and 2100 screaming, pulsing fans. I was awestruck, both by the audience’s fervor and the band’s performance. Their stage presence had always been energetic and spirited but it seemed to have multiplied tenfold since I last saw them a good five years prior. I recall getting goosebumps and a touch misty-eyed as I watched them work the stage and the crowd. The entire venue shook underfoot for the duration of the show. It’s times like this that I regret not being a better photojournalist, but c’est la vie.

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My Letter to the World #8; London Astoria (May 2003) | Fujifilm FinePix A101

Here’s another installment of Dave’s troubles with women, which appeared in My Letter to the World #8, published December 16, 1993 (click for a larger view). For more literary endeavors by Dave, you might want to check out his debut novel Pop Kids, which comes out today.

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“Troubles with Women” by Davey Havok, My Letter to the World #8

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Davey Havok Was a Pinner Kid with a Round Hostess Twinkie belly

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Tiger Lily & Davey Havok at Rancid, Total Chaos, Hellbillies, Parasites, and A.F.I. show (924 Gilman St., 5/14/94); photographer unknown

AFI/Blaqk Audio frontman Davey Havok is set to release his debut novel Pop Kids on April 2. According to the website, it’s about a 17-year-old guy who’s a “pop-culture-obsessed, pseudo-vegetarian, atheist pyromaniac trapped within a rural northern Californian town.” Although I haven’t paid close attention to his various projects since the late 1990s, I’m pretty intrigued by this one.

I first met Dave shortly after the start of UC Berkeley’s fall 1993 semester. I’m not completely certain, but it may have been at a 924 Gilman St. show. He had a baby mohawk, a skateboard, and a crisp black leather jacket with the blue Germs circle neatly painted on the back of it. I was hyper, pushy, and in-your-face (not much has changed!); he was super-friendly with a ready smile. Somehow we became friends, yet I never called him Davey.

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Davey Havok & Tiger Lily circa 1994; photographer unknown

Unfortunately, my memory’s pretty spotty and we weren’t the type to get into trouble so I don’t have any scandalous stories to share. We were just good kids in the East Bay punk scene. At that time, I lived on the top floor of a three-story house. Since cell phones hadn’t become commonplace yet, Dave would either have to yell up or throw rocks at my window if he wanted to visit. I’d help him put up and hand out flyers for AFI shows (his personable nature no doubt helped boost his fledgling band’s fanbase). I’d play his band’s singles fairly frequently on my KALX radio show (starting with this one). He’d school me on slang from his hometown, none of which I remember. He got his first tattoo (Gogo the Dodo, of all things) shortly after I got mine (topless Winnie the Pooh, no better). Ditto with the lip piercing.

Dave also wrote a series of personal essays for my zine My Letter to the World. All of them were about his troubles with girls—but not in the way you’d think. The first appeared in issue 7, published on October 29, 1993 (click for a larger view):

My Letter to the World #7

My Letter to the World #7

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“Tongue-Tied” by Davey Havok, My Letter to the World #7

I’m sure Dave no longer writes with the voice of an almost-18-year-old, but it’d be a spectacular feat if he managed to channel it for Pop Kids, considering the protagonist is soon-to-be 18. I guess I’ll just have to pick up a copy and see if I catch a glimpse of that weak pinner kid with a round Hostess Twinkie belly. [2/28/13: I posted another of his essays here. 4/2/13: And another one.]

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Alls I Got Is R-N-R, or November 1993 playlists

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The Reatards, San Francisco, 10.29.05 | Canon Powershot A80, 7.8mm, 2.5 sec, f8

How is it November already? These past few months have been a bit of a mental marathon for me, what with weddings, honeymoons, and funerals to tackle in addition to life in general. It continues today as I cram five decades of music into three hours (9am-noon PST, to be exact) on KALX to make up for my lack of participation in its 50th anniversary this year. Although I allotted 30 minutes per decade, I have a feeling the show’s going to sound not much different from what I usually do.

From my personal archives I dug up live performances of the Reatards (11/10/99) and the Mind Controls (05/06), as well as interviews with Jo Callis of the Rezillos (6/22/02) and a never-before-aired one with Matt Dangerfield and Honest John Plain of the Boys (9/23/00). I couldn’t find the recordings of my interviews with the Buzzcocks or Heavenly in 1994, but “spastic” comes to mind so that’s probably just as well.

Speaking of spastic, C and I will have a photo exhibit at the Rite Spot in San Francisco beginning this Sunday, with a reception from 5-8pm. Proceeds from all photo sales will go towards the hospital bills of our dear friend Reggie Destin, who was struck by a drunk driver while skateboarding in a Chicago bike lane; he died from his injuries a week later. We miss his warm smile, big laugh, and huge heart but will strive to live life as fully and selflessly as he did.

messin' around: a photo exhibit

* = feature play
$ = request

11/03/93: WEDNESDAY 12-3:30am

* LINCOLN – Stop Means Stop
UNIVERSAL ORDER OF ARMAGEDDON – City
* SLEEPING BODY – Logo Gram
CANDLE – Silver

HEROIN – Head Cold
ZERO BOYS – Amphetamine Addiction
BLATZ – Homemade Speed
* SONIC YOUTH/CYPRESS HILL – I Love You Mary Jane
FANG – Puff the Magic Dragon

PETER, PAUL & MARY – Lemon Tree
* ENGINE KID – Mountain High
$ HAWKWIND – Be Yourself
$ THE SPECIALS – Blank Expression
* EVERREADY – Leavin’ on a Jet Plane

CRIMPSHRINE – My Friend
OPERATION IVY – Healthy Body
BOW WOW WOW – What’s the Time (Hey Buddy)?
THE SLITS – I Heard It through the Grapevine
* HEAVENLY – P.U.N.K. Girl
$ TIGER TRAP – Words & Smiles

THE FASTBACKS – I Won’t Regret
FLOWER DRUM SONG soundtrack – I Enjoy Being a Girl
GAY PUREE soundtrack – Mewsette
MARLENE DIETRICH – Lili Marlene
Peter Gunn

$ THE UNDERTONES – More Songs about Chocolate and Girls
* NEERDOWELLS/JUDY & THE LOADIES – We’re Hot Looking
* SWINGIN’ NECKBREAKERS – Lil’ Pink Medicine
JOHNNY PEEBUCKS & THE SWINGIN’ UTTERS – L.O.V.E. I Hate You
* THE HELLBILLIES – Surf Zombies

$ NEW BOMB TURKS – Born Toulouse-Lautrec
THE MISFITS – Teenagers from Mars
NAKED RAYGUN – I Don’t Know
$ ECONOCHRIST – Comabox
* BIKINI KILL – Rebel Girl

STAN GETZ – Girl from Ipanema
ETHEL MERMAN – I Get a Kick out of You
* RAOOUL – Anna Joy
OLD SKULL – Hot Dog Hell
ROLLING SCABS – We’re the Scabs

EATER – You
GRIMPLE – All Grown Up
STIFF LITTLE FINGERS – Can’t Say Crap on the Radio
* BOYRACER – I’ve Got It & It’s Not Worth Having
WIZARD OF OZ soundtrack – We’re off to See the Wizard
MUSIC MAN soundtrack – Gary, Indiana
TOY DOLLS – She Goes to Finos

11/19/93: FRIDAY 9am-12pm

SAM COOKE – Stop Means Stop
THE PLATTERS – Smoke Gets in Your Eyes
STAN GETZ – The Girl from Ipanema
GRIMPLE – All Grown Up
ROLLING SCABS – We’re the Scabs

OLD SKULL – Skate or Die
EATER – Outside View
* RAOOUL – Summer Nights
MADBALL – It’s My Life
THE DAMNED – Neat Neat Neat
THE BUZZCOCKS – Nostalgia

COCK SPARRER – Take ’em All
STIFF LITTLE FINGERS – No More of That
$ SID VICIOUS – I Wanna Be Your Dog
* THE SMEARS – Kicked My Butt
VICE SQUAD – Stand Strong Stand Proud

THE SLITS – Vindictive
THE AVENGERS – Corpus Christi
BLATZ – Cockroach Cafe/I Don’t Care
DOROTHY LAMOUR – Panamania
KISS ME KATE soundtrack – I Hate Men
FRED ASTAIRE – Cheek to Cheek

* LINCOLN – Seed
* GODHEAD SILO – Friendship Village
JON SPENCER BLUES EXPLOSION – Soul Typecast
$ JOHNNY THUNDERS – Born to Lose

CURRENT – Could I
CANDLE – Again
* HEAVENLY – P.U.N.K. Girl
* BOYRACER – Beautiful Lines
BACHELOR PAD – Do It for Fun

* YE OLDE ENGLISH – Christmas
SELECTER – Carry Go Bring Come
*$ CHUMBAWUMBA – Day the Nazi Died
JOHNNY PEEBUCKS & THE SWINGIN’ UTTERS – L.O.V.E. I Hate You
THE JAM – Strange Town
THE ADVERTS – Gary Gilmore’s Eyes

THE REZILLOS – Thunderbirds Are Go
THE RAMONES – Go Lil’ Camaro Go
THE HARD-ONS – Bye Bye Girl
* SCREECHING WEASEL – Thrift Store Girl
SHOP ASSISTANTS – All Day Long
* EVERREADY – Leavin’ on a Jet Plane

$ JOLT – Let It Go
UNDERSIDE – Known
DISNEY soundtrack – Winnie the Pooh
TOMMY ROT – Not One of Mine
BLITZ – Someone’s Gonna Die


11/22/93: MONDAY 1-3:30am

$ MEL TORME – When the Sun Comes Out
GAY PUREE soundtrack – Little Drops of Rain
JUDY GARLAND- Somewhere Over the Rainbow
DISNEY soundtrack – Winnie the Pooh
CRINGER – Cottleston Pie

CRIMPSHRINE – Summertime
* EVERREADY – Leavin’ on a Jet Plane
* JOLT – Heaven’s Child
$ SOFT BOYS – When I Was a Kid
ROBYN HITCHCOCK – Unsettled

ZERO BOYS – High Time
GRIMPLE – All Grown Up
* GLOO GIRLS – Ex-con
JOHNNY PEEBUCKS & THE SWINGIN’ UTTERS – All Laced Up
$ THE FALL – Mr. Pharmacist

* KEPONE – Prisoners
JAWBREAKER – With or Without U-2
THE MISFITS – I Turned into a Martian
JUDY & THE LOADIES – Soap Soap Soap
THE DELMONAS – Jealousy
* THE SMEARS – Old & Lonely

THE AVENGERS – We Are the One
$ THE PLASMATICS – I Want You Baby
TALULAH GOSH – Break Your Face
KISS ME KATE soundtrack – I Hate Men

SPITBOY – Ultimate Violator
NENA – 99 Luftballoons
* LOIS – Trouble with Me
DELIGHTFUL LIL’ NOTHINGS – Over Us
* HEAVENLY – Hearts & Crosses

HARRY CONNICK JR. – It Had to Be You
DOROTHY LAMOUR – Panamania
JOHNNY MATHIS – It’s Not for Me to Say
THE HOLLIES – Carrie Anne
SAM COOKE – You Send Me

COCK SPARRER – Take ’em All
THE REVILLOS – Where’s the Boy for Me?
* THE FLATMATES – I Could Be in Heaven
THE BUZZCOCKS – Ever Fallen in Love
$ SHAM 69 – I’m a Man, I’m a Boy
STIFF LITTLE FINGERS –  Fly the Flag
* SCREECHING WEASEL – Peter Brady
MR. T EXPERIENCE – Somebody Wants to Love You

* THE BOLLWEEVILS – 999-Stoney
$ LITTLE MY – Ohio
CHICKENHEAD – Chickenhead Won the War
THEE MIGHTY CAESARS – Now I Know

EATER – Room for One
THE JAM – I’ve Changed My Address

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