Noise: Ok, tell us a little about the band.
John: Paul, 21, plays bass; Oil, 21, guitar; Stev, 21, drums; John (that's me), vocals. Stev and I have been friends for many years. We both got into punk at the same time, 77-78, and we were inspired enough to try to form a band. In 78 I got kicked out of college (couldn't stand it anyway), and tried to learn guitar which turned out to be a joke. We struggled on anyway until early 80 when I met Paul at this bar called Neo. He and I were the only ones to wear leather jackets into this place which was filled with poseurs and suburbanite geeks. He bugged me every week about starting a band, so finally we got together with him and this other guy, Norman, who was going to sing. Norman had a lot of money, a lot of punk clothes and a lot of punk records. He tried to sing like J. Rotten and had insipid, cliched lyrics that he insisted we use. Paul, Stev, and I left him after months of agonizingly fruitless practice. By this time we were Oz regulars, and since Dem, the Oz manager, knew we needed a guitarist, he introduced us to Oil, who had just wandered into town from NY State. About two months later we had a set. We played our 1st gig at Oz about ten months ago.
Noise: Tell us about the new EP and single.
John: Our forthcoming EP is a five-track, 12" 45 called "Haunted Town". The idea behind the choice of cuts was to assemble the record so as to give it a thematic beginning, middle and end. As the first song on side one, "Below the Drop" was chosen to deliver the opening statement. The song simply says that we refuse to adopt any sort of dogma and refuse to bow down to any. "Strongbox" is about paranoia. "Mob Clash" was written about a Nazi demonstration here last year, which attracted all kinds of counter-demonstrating groups. "Haunted Town" is about working and living in Chicago. "We'll be here tomorrow" sums up our feelings towards the future and was consequently chosen to end the record. We didn't like the first few mixes so it's taken us a long time to get this one done. A single with "Body Bag" and "Security" will be released probably within a month after the EP is out. The EP was financed by the band and we managed to get a backer for the single. The fact that it's paid for and that everybody was happy with both the "Body Bag" mix and the dub mix of "Security" should speed up production.
Noise: What's the scene like in Chicago?
John: The first generation of Chicago punk revolved around a bar called La Mere Vipere, which was eventually burned down; many people think by the police. The crowd consisted mainly of art students, poseurs, trendies, i.e. the type of assholes calling themselves "blitz kids" now. What's important to note about these people is that unlike the first hollywood punks, whose scene centered around bands, these people were passive participants. They had no intention of starting bands, fanzines, or anything. There were a few thin-tie bands (BB Spin, Bohemia, Immune System) that formed at about this time, but none of the music could actually be called punk. Unfortunately, these bands are still around and have large followings. They've been the only scene in Chicago for four years. As you know, the 21 drinking age hasn't helped any. The new bands that are coming out are starting to change things a bit, but it's going to take time to reach everybody.
Noise: Are there any really good hardcore bands in Chicago besides you guys and Strike Under?
John: I don't like any other Chicago bands except for Da, Naked Raygun and Strike Under. A group called DV8 have a 45 out, "Guns on the Right", and it's ok. What's ironic about this group is that they are leftwingers, and most of their support comes from the 77 Nazi bunch. Both bands Epicycle, and Clash clones, the Front Lines, play wimpy pop and try (with hilarious consequences) to be politically controversial. The Corrosives, our old singer Norman's band, is just a second rate heavy metal band and will probably disband soon... Hopefully there's new bands to come.
Noise: What's happening with Oz now?
John: Oz started as a gay bar by day, punk bar by night. The dozen or so punk regulars were swastika clad fools who only listened to 77 punk. Usually the bar was pretty empty, and due to non-stop police harassment the bar was forced to move. We started hanging around there requesting the Subs, Upstarts etc. We played our first gig there. Dem, the manager, was (and remains) dedicated to the small scene which was forming, and refused to card minors. The bar had to move again though, due to the police and pressure from other places. Finally, it ended up on Broadway. It was losing money because nobody was showing up, (the reasons are that they didn't want to advertise and the dance room wasn't half as good as the one at the second Oz). The police finally closed the bar the night the Subhumans were going to play, claiming there was a gun on the premises (yuk yuk). The bar has since reopened as "F-Beat", a gay new wave disco. Dem hates the music, but it's the only way he's going to recuperate his losses from Oz. Most of the crowd that formed at the second and third Oz now hangs out at O'Banions.
Noise: What are your fave bands?
John: I personally don't like most bands for more then a few records since that's when they usually start changing for the worst. What I do like is...all Ruts (pre-DC), ATV, all Black Flag, some Germs, early PIL, Upstarts, some Subs, misc. early California stuff (Dils, Negative Trend, Zeros, etc...), some Wire etc. I hate heavy metal, it's for retards!!
Oil listens to Discharge and the Subs a lot.
Paul likes the Stranglers, Subs, Killing Joke, Upstarts and Black Flag.
Stev likes most of the stuff already mentioned plus a lot of reggae.
Noise: Did you get to see Minor Threat, Youth Brigade and the Necros when they were in town?
John: Those bands unfortunately got stuck with a Monday night, which meant that many people, including myself, had to work the next day. I did manage to see the first band, Youth Brigade, and thought they were pretty good.
Noise: I saw you played at Crazy Al's. How was that town? (Indianapolis)
John: The bar was pretty shitty. We got paid $100 to go down there and we had to pay full price for all drinks and food. The Zero Boys and their manager were pretty cool, but the crowd just sat there and stared when we played. They didn't boo us and they didn't dance. It was hard to tell what they thought of us.
Added band statement:
A lot of people, especially the younger ones, seem to have a fixation with hardcore and thrash. That's ok, but I think it's pretty limited musically. There are a lot of bands that don't play thrash yet are equally as intense either lyrically, musically, or both. There are also some stupid thrash bands. Just remember that a little thought and a little integrity will go a long way.
We plan to do a tour of both coasts as soon as we get some decent transportation.
--John J. Curlington III