I interviewed Steve Miller twice. The first time was with Mike Achtenberg present as well, but something went wrong with the tape recorder, leaving me with seventy minutes of 60hz hum. I set up another interview, just with Steve, and for the most part that's what you're getting here--I was taking notes first time 'round (force of habit) so wherever appropriate I've spliced some of the stuff from take one into the narrative.
OBIK: Okay, so shall we try take two?
OBIK: Now, Lansing in the late seventies, you described it as a kind of a dull college town, not a lot happening.
STEVE: Yeah there wasn't a whole lot happening. The economy was decent because of the auto industry but that was tanking too. There was really nothing...culturally it was nothing. It was a college town, so at least you had that. There was a joint here where Iggy and the Stooges came and played in '74, and it progressed from there. There was stuff going on, after all it was Michigan, so you were never far from something, but no, Lansing was kind of a little behind the times, I think.
OBIK: And then punk rock came along in '76 and '77. When did you get into that?
STEVE: Well, I'd been into it as a kid growing up, the Stooges and the MC5. It was just very natural--you'd start reading in Rock Scene and Creem magazine, which was really our bible, that there was something else going on. So it was just natural to pick up on that. We were really lucky because we did have a couple of really good record stores here and they'd get the imports, the JEM imports, like the first Damned album and stuff like that.
OBIK: What kind of punk bands were there in Lansing?
STEVE: Um, the first punk band in Lansing was a band called Toolbox, which really just did covers, oddly enough, but it was really terrific. It was terrific because we could go see these guys play and they'd do pretty faithful renditions of Anarchy in the UK and stuff like that. That was the fall of '77, so that was really the first.
It was kinda interesting. That kinda hatched, at least for Mike and I, the idea of playing this great music.
And then in '78 the Stranglers came and played at a little place, then a couple weeks later the Ramones came.
OBIK: Yeah, you mentioned that, April of '78.
STEVE: Yeah, April of '78. I think it was the 23rd the Ramones played, and the Stranglers a couple weeks before that.
OBIK: Did any of the Detroit bands like Destroy All Monsters and Sonic's Rendezvous come up and play?
STEVE: Yeah, they were coming too, in fact that's a good point. At the same time, maybe a little after that, that stuff started going on. I think Destroy All Monsters were together, but we didn't know much about them. And honestly they weren't very good. Sonic's Rendezvous Band had done the City Slang single and somehow we all ended up with it. So this stuff was coming through pretty quickly, but yeah, Sonic's Rendezvous Band and the shows at that place, Dooley's, which was a little college bar, opened the door to other places saying, "Hey look, kids are gonna come in here and pay money, why not start booking stuff like that?"
OBIK: When did Club Doobee start up, speaking of clubs?
STEVE: I think spring of 1980, maybe early summer of '80.
OBIK: So it was about the same time the Fix were starting up.
STEVE: Yeah, about the same time, it was really close, though I don't remember when we first played there at all. We played in the summer of '80, but I can't remember when.
OBIK: Was the name the Fix a drug reference?
STEVE: Well, we did drugs...Craig came up with the name.
OBIK: And when the Fix were starting up, what were the bands like in Lansing?
STEVE: Um, there were a lot of--they were all new wave bands, kinda fancy like...I don't know, they had the new wave getups, with the ties and...they were very timid, whereas our aim was to make sure everything was really really loud--the idea that if you could drown everything else out, it would be better.
OBIK: What was the response to you?
STEVE: It was pretty good, I thought, right from the start.
There were a couple where nobody would get it, but right from the start we made sure we were entertaining and stuff like that. We were just...it was a nascent sound, we were still developing so I think we were a lot more...I don't know...it was easier for people to like us when we started, before we were developing and absorbing more influences and it just got a little bit more...bordering on out of control musically. I think we had a bit more melody when we were starting out.
OBIK: Now was there really a kinda cohesive musical community in Lansing--
OBIK: --or was it these timid little new wave bands and then YOU.
STEVE: It was pretty much these rather lame bands that would try to get each other on their bills and then there was us and they didn't want us on their bills, for numerous reasons, but mainly because we were abrasive--I mean we were--still are--abrasive as hell, no matter what. As personalities and as music.
OBIK: When was your first gig and where was it?
STEVE: I'm gonna say a basement in East Lansing. Oh man, spring of 1980 maybe?
OBIK: So right after you formed.
STEVE: Yeah. Maybe it was April or May. No, no April, it had to April, because we played at that and then we played at an outdoor thing in East Lansing too with several other bands. At some apartment complex--we'd take anything, we'd play anywhere. A lotta houses.
OBIK: Real party scene?
STEVE: Yeah, that's always been the way... It's funny, that's continued for quite a while, the parties. The police, the cops didn't show up at those and you could do really well at a house party, tear the place apart.
OBIK: And then Dave Stimson saw you.
STEVE: Yeah, at the time, one of the few jobs I had as a kid, I worked at the Census Bureau as a clerk and Dave Stimson was doing the same thing, and coincidentally Elliott Rachman was there, the drummer from VA--Violent Apathy or what would later become Violent Apathy--worked there and so I palled up with Dave Stimson and I said, "Hey, I've got this little combo, you should come see us," and he did. I think it was at a party in fact.
OBIK: Were you aware of Touch and Go magazine?
STEVE: Yeah, yeah, I was. I always thought it was really really good and really funny, so yeah.
OBIK: When did you first start reading Touch and Go?
STEVE: I think that was probably late '79.
OBIK: So it was way at the beginning of Touch and Go.
STEVE: Yeah, I think it was probably right off the bat.
OBIK: Did you know Tesco at all?
STEVE: No, in fact DS, Dave Stimson, is the one who told Tesco about us.
OBIK: Yeah, I've got that blurb up on the website.
STEVE: Yeah, it was pretty cool because it was good magazine and I liked the magazine. I respected what they did. These are guys, they'd go down to Ann Arbor and pick up anything they could find and review it. It didn't even matter if they had a big name, they just put it out there. I thought it was really an invaluable tool for us to learn about music, because that's really all you did. In my life that's all I did, you;d read the reviews in Stereo Review or in Creem and that would help form your buying habits--if so-and-so thought it was good, maybe I should check it out. You could be sure if Lester Bangs liked it that you should get it.
So these guys were performing the same service.
OBIK: What was your first meeting with Tesco Vee?
STEVE: I think...I think he came to a show that we played at a little place in Lansing, it was like a back room of a restaurant and it seems to me there was some kind of trouble there. I don't remember if there was a fight or what... It seemed the more we started playing out the more weird stuff would start happening. I think at this one somebody set off the fire extinguisher and something else happened.
I think that was the first time Tesco saw us, and it was an abbreviated fifteen minute set--our sets were always about 20, 25 minutes, but we cut it to 15 and had to leave. Then I think a few weeks after that him and Dave came over to the house me and Mike were living in and they brought some records and we sat around and drank beer.
OBIK: And was that when they approached you about doing a record on Touch and Go?
STEVE: No, no. I think that was later in the fall.
OBIK: Did you do the recording before they approached you?
STEVE: No, I think we specifically went to Chillicothe, Ohio to record this for them.
OBIK: Any idea how to spell that?
MIKE: O-h-i-o. (laughs)
STEVE: (laughing) Yeah, I think that's right.
OBIK: And a friend of Craig's produced it?
STEVE: A friend of Jeff's. When you talk to Jeff, if you ever get a hold of him, ask him who that friend was. I'd be really interested.
OBIK: Well, one of his friends contacted me.
STEVE: He did?
OBIK: Yeah, about Jan's Rooms.
STEVE: What did he want?
OBIK: He wanted to know how much it was worth.
STEVE: (laughs) He had a copy and wanted to peddle the fucking thing. (laughs) What was the insert?
OBIK: He didn't tell me, but I told him that the value depended on it.
STEVE: That's interesting, I wonder if it's the same friend.
OBIK: Do you remember his name?
STEVE: No, not for the life of me.
OBIK: What was it like recording Vengeance? It was your first time in the studio, right?
STEVE: No, no, we had gone and recorded at a place called Mixed Modes, and did some demos. They came out okay, I'd love to know where they are. That summer, of '80, I think we did two separate demos, it was the same place where the Process of Elimination EP was recorded.
But anyway we did some songs there but then we went down to this studio in Chillicothe and it was pretty good. The first night we were there Craig got really really drunk. We were drinking whiskey and beer he'd stacked up all these amps--he had a real wall of sound going, it was harder back then to get that wall of sound, and we thought you just had to stack all the amps up and just wail, so he'd cobbled together everything that he could--and then he fell backwards into it, and those guys were really worried, they were asking Jeff, "Are these guys gonna be okay?"
I recorded the vocals in a booth which was really cool, and I remember I turned out all the lights. I wanted to be in there pitch black, just my headphones, me, and twelve beers--I'd lined 'em up inside the booth after every take.
Anyway it was great--we just did what we had to do.
OBIK: What was the set list at that point?
STEVE: Well, those four songs.
OBIK: Vengeance, In This Town, Candy Store, and Famous.
STEVE: Yeah, and we had a few others. I can't remember the names at all--I think Euthanasia was one... We'd have some covers, like the Letter (Box Tops), I'm a Believer (Neil Diamond/Monkees)...uh...I can't remember what else. I wish I had a setlist.
Vengeance was an early song, that was one of the first songs Craig wrote, but I can't really remember anything else. We'd play like twenty, twenty-five minutes and we'd have a fairly quick set, but we'd jam a lot of songs into it.
I think they said do you wanna do a record and we said yeah, so we went down there to record it and that's how it worked.
OBIK: Was the Necros thing already in the pipeline?
STEVE: You'd have to ask Tesco, but I think the Necros thing was already recorded.
OBIK: What was the financing for that record? Did you guys put up half the money for the pressing like the Necros did with theirs?
STEVE: No, I don't think we did. We didn't have any money, none of us.
OBIK: The response to record was pretty good, right?
STEVE: Yeah. Let me find that ledger, go to the ledger. Um, lemme see, yeah, I think the response was pretty good. It says released March 1981 and we sold a bunch in Chicago, for some reason we were big in Chicago. We went down there to play shortly before it was released and we did pretty well, so we kept coming back. We went in April to play...
OBIK: And you trekked down there in December of '80 to see Black Flag.
STEVE: Yeah, yeah. That was, in fact I think that was either shortly before or shortly after we recorded. We went down there to see Black Flag because first of all they were great and second of all we wanted to find out how they were doing all this touring. We didn't quite understand how anyone doing this music could get gigs.
OBIK: Well the Chicago date on that tour was half way through the tour and it was the last show they did--everything else was canceled.
STEVE: (laughs) So anyway, yeah I wanted to find out a little more about what they were, just to find out what they were doing and how they were getting this all together.
OBIK: You got to hang out with them and talk with them?
STEVE: Yeah, we went backstage and stuff, I don't remember how that happened, but we went backstage between sets and I met Chuck, he was kinda the brains of the outfit and so I talked to him, exchanged numbers, and that was that.
OBIK: And then the next time you went up to Chicago you played at Oz.
STEVE: February, two nights, I think.
OBIK: And is that when you met Jon Babbin?
STEVE: Yeah, in fact we stayed at the Effigies' apartment. Jon Babbin shared an apartment with John Kezdy and we acted up that night too. Me and Craig were out in an alley throwing bottles up against a wall. I remember it was freezing, six in the morning, and we'd played at two and four and for some reason we got back to Evanston, freezing cold, and...
OBIK: Was that when Jon Babbin decided he wanted to work with you?
STEVE: Yeah, I think that was. Somehow we just kept in touch, and of course we were like, "yeah if you wanna do some managing, have at it," and then we came back there in April and sealed the deal I think.
STEVE: Have you talked to Babbin?
OBIK: No. Well, yeah, but not about the Fix.
OBIK: March 22, at Club Doobee, you opened for Black Flag.
STEVE: That's the date. What had happened was I'd been talking to Chuck off and on--how they were doing things and stuff, and they had that date, I think it was after Boston, I think they'd played Boston a night or two before.
OBIK: Lemme check my Black Flag tour schedule.
STEVE: Is that on your website?
OBIK: Yeah, I've got a huge Black Flag section up there now. Yup, the 21st, Boston, MA.
STEVE: Jesus, that's amazing that they came that far. They didn't get a sound check I know that. That as amazing, and they were great. That's what happened, you see, I was kind of...I don't know I just kinda coordinated that with them through talking with 'em all the time and then...I guess I musta turned the Club Doobee people onto it. But I can't remember.
OBIK: Now Tesco was always railing on about the Club Doobee because they were a shitty club that never booked punk rock.
STEVE: Well, in the rear-view mirror it's a lot different. It was easy to do at the time--we were a bunch of malcontents and if you weren't railing about what was going you weren't very sincere, but no, the fact is it was a really really terrific for Lansing music: you had Lydia Lunch, you had Oingo Boingo, DOA, it was just great. It was a huge deal in this little town that never had much of anything. And this music scene was popping up and the midwest wasn't going to ignored. It was a great place because you could stop there on your way to and from Chicago and a Sunday night is just about right. You're not gonna make a lotta money.
OBIK: April 2nd you had the Vengeance release party...
STEVE: VA played at our record release party. Last night I was talking to Ken, the singer for violent Apathy, and I said to him, "I wonder why the Fix didn't play that one..." And he had no idea.
OBIK: I actually have down Gratient as playing that one.
STEVE: Yeah, that was them, that was them, they just later became VA.
OBIK: I was gonna ask why you didn't play.
STEVE: Yeah, it was funny that we pondered that last night.
OBIK: Do you remember anything about a May Day '81 festival?
STEVE: Yeah, I do. We were supposed to play in park and again I think it was in East Lansing, and it never went on, it was just a bunch of bored looking people. It was poorly organized, I don't even know who set it up.
OBIK: Corey Rusk.
STEVE: We showed up and said, "Hey, we'll play" and we even rented out a PA.
OBIK: I think five bands were supposed to play...
STEVE: Yeah, L7 were supposed to play.
OBIK: Yeah, L7 and the Necros and DOA.
STEVE: DOA weren't even in town. I don't know why they were on it, since I don't think they even know about it. Like I said it was poorly organized, and I remember we loaned out our--I remember it was a cold day, nice but cold and I think everybody just sat around drank. I don't think the Necros were even there.
OBIK: And after that your tried to get some east coast dates, Boston, DC...
STEVE: I think we sent some stuff out there, unsuccessfully, I think.
OBIK: No response?
STEVE: No, I don't think there was any response at all. To this day I think--(laughs), sorry, you're out there, I was gonna say, "To this day I think it's a lousy place."
OBIK: Well, Howard Wuelfing really liked your single.
STEVE: Right, well to be honest we probably could have gone about it--we really didn't know what we were doing--we probably could have gone about it in a more professional, or more organized fashion, but again we didn't really know what was going on. I guess, you're right, tapping him, tapping Howard Wuelfing and asking him, "Hey, where can we play out here?" woulda been a smart way to do it. But, we were young, and the learning curve was pretty big.
OBIK: And the next show I have for you is June 20, Grand Rapids...
STEVE: Yeah, that woulda been just before...what's the date of the Chicago show?
OBIK: June 24.
STEVE: Okay, I think June 20 might have been a Saturday night...
STEVE: Yeah, we played there, um, let's see...Grand Rapids was at a hall, I can't remember quite where, and that was a good show. It was interesting because right at the start of the show there some guy tried to grab me, some drunk, a goofy guy with a leather jacket grabbed me and so I punched him, then the guy took off running, Craig dropped his guitar and we both took off after the guy and we smashed him against the wall and smashed him up pretty good. The show was pretty good too.
Another good story about that, our roadie, we had a pretty good road crew, and one of our guys, he had a truck and he'd taken some acid that night... He was in control, but he was kind of a mess, so he backs the truck up and helps load all the equipment. We're sitting out there by the truck, about five minutes pass, and he goes, "So, you guys think we should load the equipment into the truck?" (laughs) and we all looked at each other going, "You're not driving the truck back," (laughs), so somebody else had to drive back. I think we played with Trainable that night. Did we?
OBIK: I have no idea.
STEVE: Okay, we played with a band called Trainable that night and I think one of the dudes in Trainable ended up driving the truck back.
OBIK: Was that Gary Levins?
STEVE: You mean the roadie?
STEVE: That was a guy named Glen Borst. He'd be a good guy for you to talk to--he's a lawyer now.
OBIK: He'll know how to tell the story...delicately.
STEVE: (laughs) Probably. You'd probably be able to track him down through Martindale, the Michigan Bar, I don't know.
OBIK: Then four days after you went on tour.
STEVE: Yeah, about four days.
OBIK: Who all went with you? Jon Babbin...
STEVE: Jon Babbin and then our road guy was Gary Levins. Have you found him?
OBIK: No, not yet, I have some numbers. Let me just read off some of these tour dates and see what you remember.
STEVE: Oh, hang on, let me get my ledger out. This'll give you a good idea of what we were making...and actually we weren't making bad money. Okay, Chicago.
OBIK: June 24 at O'Bannions.
STEVE: I remember Jeff Pezzati, Naked Raygun, ran the...it was his PA and we made that night it says we were paid $81, and we paid Pezzati $25 for the PA--so we started out on a pretty grand note. We actually ended up staying at Naked Raygun's that night.
OBIK: At the Coach House?
STEVE: I don't remember...it was just some apartment. A couple guys lived there, and we thought it was really funny because in the bathroom they had all this hair gel and stuff like that, and hey, that's funny. We thought "What are they doing with hair gel?" and then they had all their records in plastic and they were all alphabetized, which also freaked us out, and they had a Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robot game, and of course, we all played it and woke someone up and pissed them off...I guess we weren't the greatest house guests--we made fun of their hair gel and we played their Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robot game. (laughs)
OBIK: Did you put their records away out of order too?
STEVE: Oh god, (laughing) we should have. I'm sure we would have...I don't think we even touched them, It was all very quiet, kinda anal-retentive, one of those places you stay at and think, "Why are we here?"
OBIK: Next date, June 25 in New Orleans, a place called Jed's?
STEVE: No, no, we didn't play Jed's until...I think the next tour we played there.
OBIK: Okay, June 26 at the Island in Houston.
STEVE: Yeah, the Rock Island. Let's see, we made a hundred bucks.
OBIK: Did Black Flag turn you onto that place?
STEVE: Yes, definitely.
OBIK: What was the reception there?
STEVE: It was great, it was awesome, it was really really good. We played with the Stains and...uh...let's see...
OBIK: Big Boys?
STEVE: No, just the Stains I think. It was terrific, it was just a great place--obviously it was just kind of a legendary punk rock palace anyway. And then afterward we went to a party at the Mydolls place and I think everybody got laid and everybody was really happy. It was a great start to the tour, that was the official start.
OBIK: And the next date is the 27th in Austin, at Duke's.
STEVE: Yeah, we made $183 there--that was also really really good. We played with the Dicks.
OBIK: The 28th, in Fort Worth at Zero's?
STEVE: Fucked. We got set up by some ex-stripper named Sharice--who's dead now--and we...let me take a look here, I think I have some kind of...yeah, she lived in Dallas, she set it up. She was nice, really nice, but she just couldn't...she wasn't...she was just kind of a hanger-on. And that just sucked.
I remember that show because they had a little tiny PA and Craig and I got in a fight--a spat--about the PA and I can't remember what it was at all. But I remember that I just walked away to cool off, just walked outside thinking, "This is not a great area" because it was full of rednecks and cowboys. I walked down the block and I said this is not right and I walked back and we ironed it out of course, but it was just a lousy show. Nobody was there. I don't think we played for shit.
OBIK: Then two days later, July 1, at Tumbleweeds in Tucson?
STEVE: No, between that, was, I believe on the 30th, Oklahoma City.
OBIK: You remember the venue?
STEVE: Just a minute, I don't think it's in here...it's not...I think the Embarrassment were from there?
OBIK: Norman, or something like that, Norman, Oklahoma? [Note: They were from Wichita, KS.]
STEVE: I think they were there and we played with them for some reason. Hardly anybody there--huge storm, huge massive storm--but...and by the way Sharice came with us, she wanted to go to LA so we gave her a ride with us. We made $125 though, so that was pretty good.
OBIK: And then there was Tumbleweeds?
STEVE: No, we played no Tucson on that tour, we played Phoenix, I think on the 2nd--
OBIK: Yeah, I have that one down
STEVE: --with Jody Foster's Army. We rolled into town and in the middle of the night and Lucy LaMode from Killer Pussy was our host there. She was cool. She took us over to this place to stay--it was junkie crash pad, there was no air conditioning, it was 110 degrees and we were midwestern kids, we'd never experienced anything like that before, so we were like how are we gonna sleep and this is gonna suck. We had a bunch of beer me and Craig split, we had a bunch of Quaaludes, and me and Craig took those and we eventually got to sleep. That was a really interesting place.
The next day we played over at a church. We played at with JFA and it was just these bratty, shitty kids, although JFA turned out to be really cool guys. We played and in the dressing room it was like people shooting up and stuff--it was a big junkie town.
OBIK: Next day, July 4, San Diego?
STEVE: July 4, Fresno. We made a hundred bucks and we played with the Dead Kennedys and 7 Seconds. First time we ran into slam dancers--kids jumping up on stage and off during the show. It was a great show--lots of fights, and I remember the cops had to come. The Dead Kennedys played, we met Jello.
OBIK: Was that the first time you hooked up with the Reno kids?
STEVE: Yeah, it was. In fact, that led to a show in Reno... I have the fifth, but I don't think it was...
OBIK: I have Club 88, Los Angeles.
STEVE: No, no, the only thing we did in Los Angeles on that trip was to record, I think. We had a show canceled at the Apollo and...I can't remember everything, I thought we had a show canceled at the Apollo and I thought we met these girls and they had a place in Pacific Palisades--one of their dads owned this house and he was out of town and it was really cool because I think...I may be getting out of sequence here, so let me know...I'm just gonna stream of consciousness...they took us to their house and it was really nice, plenty of room and I thought for some reason we were recording our EP, the Jan's Rooms stuff, and during the day we would go out there and hang out at this house, smoke dope and play monopoly, and then at night we'd go down the studio, middle of the night, because that's when Spot could get in.
OBIK: Yeah, they had a deal with the company that owned the studio and they could only use it when no-one else was there.
STEVE: That makes sense. And we rehearsed to, out at this house. And their friends came over too--that was really fun, it was a nice little break off the tour.
OBIK: About how many days was that?
STEVE: I think three days...it seemed a lot longer, but I think it was three days. But we stayed in Fresno first, I think we stayed in Fresno, went over to Reno and played and then came back to Fresno, because the people from Capitol Punishment were there and we made friends with them too...Ralph, I think...he wasn't the singer at the time, but I think he was later on.
OBIK: Back to the fifth, what did you think of Reno?
STEVE: It was great, great. It was the first time we'd really been in a 24 hour town...you could get beer any time. They were really friendly, really nice people.
OBIK: Next show I have is July 7 in Santa Cruz.
STEVE: No, no.
OBIK: How about the 9th at the Mab?
STEVE: I think that's it...could be, I can't remember...that could be.
OBIK: And then I have the 19th at the Mab.
STEVE: Yeah, we did play that, we made $57.37.
OBIK: Then in between then I have you guys playing at the Starwood.
STEVE: No, I don't think so, but I think we played that when we went to LA.
When was the Eastern Front?
OBIK: The 25th and 26th.
STEVE: Oh, okay, I don't know what the hell we were doing then. I think we played some shows in San Francisco, we played three or four times when we were there. San Francisco was really happening because they weren't having cop trouble--in LA they were still having big cop troubles, whereas in San Francisco they weren't. And the Mab was well-established there too.
And also we stayed--we split up there for a while there in San Francisco, made a lot of friends, those guys, I think I told you, those guys stayed over at Target Video and those guys...
OBIK: Yeah, they...
STEVE: Spray painted...I think I told you the story, I don't know if you got it recorded or not.
OBIK: No, I didn't get anything.
STEVE: Babbin knew a couple of girls in town so me and him went over and stayed there so we could get away--everybody just had more room. The other guys were staying over at Target and so one day we go over to meet them and go out and meet so me and Babbin grab a bus and go over to meet them and they're all standing there on the curb with all the equipment and I said, "Hey, what are you guys doing with the gear? We don't have to leave yet," because we weren't going anywhere, and they go, "Yeah, yeah, we got kicked out," so we went in to see what happened. We went inside and the Target screening room was all graffitied "THE FIX RULE!" and shit like that, black spray paint on their nice white screening room...we were like, wow, that's pretty astounding.
OBIK: (laughs) You think they figured out who did it?
STEVE: Yeah, I think maybe fingerprints were taken from the scene... (laughs) It took some pretty hard-boiled detective work, but they came to the conclusion that the Fix did it. Those guys did it, that was their handiwork--I mean, we were all maniacs with the spray paint cans anyway.
OBIK: Did you get that from Black Flag or was it your own thing?
STEVE: It was our own thing, because we were fucking shit up before we ever met Black Flag. I think it was just some sort of retarded adolescence...we thought we had a license to keep acting like that...
OBIK: And then were was the Eastern Front...
STEVE: Which was really great. Didn't you say there was some video taken of that?
OBIK: Yeah, it was shot by Lynn Lust, one of the Reno kids, and it was professionally audio taped.
STEVE: I'd love to see that and here that. The funny thing about the Eastern Front was that...there's a flyer for the Eastern Front...
OBIK: There was also a program.
STEVE: Whoa, do you have that?
OBIK: I have one coming to me.
STEVE: That's pretty good, how much you pay?
OBIK: $9.99 plus shipping.
STEVE: That's it!?
STEVE: (laughs) That's beautiful. But there's...Oh, yeah, I forget, you're in Washington--go to the Hard Rock Cafe in the District, go inside, and right inside the door you'll see a flyer, a framed flyer for the Eastern Front show with the Fix.
OBIK: That flyer's worth a fortune now.
STEVE: Well, it's in the DC Hard Rock Cafe--I have no idea why.
OBIK: And what are the dates you have for the rest of the tour from the Fix ledger?
STEVE: Um, Vancouver, the 28th.
OBIK: July 28?
STEVE: Yeah. And there was one in Seattle which was probably the best Fix show--one of the best Fix shows ever, I have no idea why.
OBIK: At the Gorilla Room, right?
STEVE: The Gorilla Room, yeah. We stayed at Peter Davis' place and we were dead broke--we went to the--it was a really fun stay actually, Peter was really cool and his roommate was cool and it was great. They had a nice stereo and we could freak out and listen to Joy Division and shit. We went to a soup kitchen to eat because we had no money. Babbin had dropped out and stayed behind with somebody in California...I can't really remember, maybe it was something with Toxic Reasons.
Anyway, we went to the soup kitchen to eat, we walked around--Seattle's not really much of a town--and then we played and it all...it...that night we just gelled. It was fun because they had free pints of beer, we had all these intoxicated punk rockers there, and it was just the right combination of everything... We just destroyed the place--it was great. Some kid spray painted his shaved head...that was pretty awesome.
OBIK: Any other dates?
STEVE: I think that was it, I think we just drove home.
OBIK: Then you had about two weeks of downtime...
STEVE: Did we?
When was Rick's?
OBIK: Ricks was August 13.
STEVE: Okay, then we probably came back and did what we needed to do, kept on rehearsing. I think Jeff might've gone up north to his family for a little while, but no, we kept on practicing.
OBIK: And when you came back there was this whole new scene that had sprouted up.
STEVE: Yeah, yeah, it was all these kids, like the Necros had kind of like wedged themselves in there and formed this thing with these young kids, kids that were still in high school. All the kids in those hardcore bands were throwing out their Aerosmith records--we were never like that. We had no interest in that. We were just pulling in anything we could.
The Necros were just always terrible, I don't think I ever saw a good show with them...oh no, yes I did, when they got...Andy, that Andy guy playing guitar...but yeah there were these other kids like the Bored Youth people...NA were in there too--John was a Fix fan--and they were just terrific.
OBIK: Did you see John in his previous band, Static?
STEVE: Oh boy...maybe, I really don't know.
OBIK: They were kind of a glam rock thing from what I hear.
STEVE: Cool...I woulda recognized that--I wish I had though. That woulda been great--I'm sure he was really good with that.
OBIK: Next show I have is September 5th.
STEVE: At the Coronation Tavern?
OBIK: No, at Bookie's with the Alleycats.
STEVE: No, we didn't play that. That's interesting, and I saw that flyer, they booked us at Bookie's, Craig got us that show, and we'd been wanting to get in at Bookie's, this guy though, only offered us $50. Meanwhile a show had been organized at the Coronation Tavern for the same date and the Coronation was gonna give us$150 and it didn't take us long to decide, Bookie's was like, who the fuck do they think they are? $50? Fuck that. So we drove right by the exit for Bookie's, right across the bridge into Windsor.
We played the Coronation and we did really well there. We did really well the three or four times we played there.
OBIK: Was the crowd at the Coronation Detroit kids or Windsor--Canadians, or what?
STEVE: Canadians, college, with some professional drinkers thrown in. They were fairly...I don't remember the crowd as well, but I do remember that we did well there. We weren't pulling Detroit kids at all, that was never our scene.
OBIK: The next firm date I have for you guys is October 10 and 11, when you did the recording for the Process EP.
STEVE: You missed one, I think...check and see if September 26 was a Saturday. I think Nolan Ryan pitched a no-hitter that day...
OBIK: September 26, Saturday.
STEVE: Yeah we played at Don Neal's in Kalamazoo, and there's a video of that show. It was the Necros, the Fix, Violent Apathy, and maybe a couple other bands, maybe some Kalamazoo bands. Kalamazoo always had better bands than Detroit, so we always played Kalamazoo. It was Kenny that set that one up, he was a great organizer...
OBIK: And he did Etch magazine too.
STEVE: Yeah, he did, he did.
OBIK: I actually have a review of that show, without a date, from Etch.
STEVE: I'm almost positive that we played there. I think I remember watching the no-hitter that day. It was a really nice day and we weren't gonna do the show because for some reason we had not been rehearsing...I guess we just needed some time off, and it came down to should we play it should we play it and finally we decided to do it...I didn't want to do it and I think Craig did, so finally I just said sure...He said something right, talked me into it.
OBIK: Then the Process recording. I heard that was done in some Hippie's living room.
MIKE: Now that I remember.
STEVE: Yeah. One band went in, did their thing, and then the next band went on. Corey Rusk set that up, and I have to say he ran that session like a professional. All those kid bands were running around though, but Corey had it all together.
Corey did a great job on that. That song is just...the guitar sound, the vocals, it all works on that song.
OBIK: I have to say No Idols is my personal fave of the Fix songs.
STEVE: Yeah, it was good. That was at Mixed Mode, the same place where a year earlier we'd done our demos, and...I'm trying to think...there was a show, I think at something called the PRT Club, is that what you've got?
OBIK: No, I don't have anything for that venue.
STEVE: Well, I don't remember where that show was, but several of the bands played. There was some kind of extravaganza, I think the Necros played, and Toxic Reasons were in town, and they were just terrific--that's when we first met them--they were just great guys and we got along real well with them.
OBIK: Was Babbin working with them at that point?
STEVE: Babbin? No, no...wait, maybe he was...if Jon was with them...I can't remember, but they stayed at our house, I do remember that, and none of the Detroit kids liked them, so I figured they had to be okay (laughs).
OBIK: Their loss.
STEVE: Yeah, I know, I know. Pioneering fucking punk rock band and these kids from Detroit were so stupid...because they didn't have the right hairdos, because they drank beer, I guess they just weren't punk enough. Toxic Reasons were real pioneers--they were doing it before we were on the road, and they were just sharp. They really lived it.
OBIK: And then there's, I don't know if it's December 10 or December 12, but the Process release party at the Freezer.
STEVE: What was the first date of the winter tour...
OBIK: The twelfth.
STEVE: I remember we had to play and then leave right away to get home, then leave the next night for Fayetteville.
OBIK: Not for Chicago?
STEVE: No, we didn't play Chicago that tour.
OBIK: Okay, I have December 12 as Chicago.
STEVE: Umm, was the 11 a Friday?
OBIK: December 11 was a Friday.
STEVE: I think we played at the Freezer that night, I think. I don't remember much....I can't remember exactly...I remember the Freezer was on Cass, a lousy area.
OBIK: And then on the 13th you played the University of Arkansas.
STEVE: Yeah, we played a theater actually, it was a theater. We got there and the guy couldn't come through with the money and we were really steamed. He'd bought a keg, and we were so pissed off we threw the keg down a flight of stairs, got in our truck, and took off, all drunk as shit. I think we ended up sleeping it off by the side of the road.
OBIK: So did you not play that show?
STEVE: We played it. He told us afterwards that he didn't have the money.
Later, when I was in Strange Fruit we played in Tulsa and that same guy was at the show and he paid me.
OBIK: For the Fix?
STEVE: Yeah. It was a Strange Fruit show and that guy from Fayetteville, who'd screwed us outta the money finally coughed up, I forget how much, maybe $100.
OBIK: Better late than never...
STEVE: I guess, but if you think about it it was really only two years later.
OBIK: Next show I have is the 15th at the Beat Exchange in New Orleans.
STEVE: Yeah, that as really good. The girl that booked it was named Barbara. I think...I can't remember if the Sluts played with us or not, but I think we got there a day early and it was really nice weather and Barbara let us, she was really nice, a little older, she let us in the club and we played records and she opened up the bar so we all got smashed. Then she got us a hotel...she was rich, I don't know what her deal was, and she got us a hotel and then we had to haul ass to get to...
STEVE: No, those shows fell through, and our next show was in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and we almost made it...I mean a straight shot, we just drove from New Orleans to Santa Fe...we were headed north outta Albuquerque and we ran outta gas. Missed the show.
OBIK: Did you make the next one in Tucson?
STEVE: At the Backstage?
STEVE: That was lousy. Terrible, terrible booking. They'd booked us with a new wave band and they played like B52s between bands so we knew it was no good.
OBIK: The Backstage made great soundboard tapes.
OBIK: Yeah, there's one of Husker Du that's just fantastic.
STEVE: Everybody played there...I don't know...Joanne Tamez was her name...I may even have her card. In my housecleaning I have...she worked at a place called the Record Room, but I don't. I thought it was Tamez, I don't have that card any more. I had it pasted right in here, I wonder happened.
OBIK: The next night was Phoenix.
STEVE: Phoenix we played at Madison Square Gardens...it was a Tony Victor show so it was gonna be really really good, let's see...
OBIK: Now that place used to be like a boxing ring, didn't it?
STEVE: Yeah, yeah... Wrestling. It was a terrific show. Great lineup--we were reunited with our pals Toxic Reasons, and we played with JFA. Great show. We stayed at Frank Discussion's and it was really nice.
OBIK: Next dates I have are the 22nd and 23rd in San Francisco at the Mute Club.
STEVE: I can't remember if we played at the Mute Club...I thought we played at...god...I know we played at the Mab at one of those, and we played at Valencia Tool and Die, and we played at...another place...there's another show during the summer jaunt--the Sound of Music, we played. And I think we may have played the Sound of Music this time. We liked that because the Mitchell Brothers' Theater wasn't far from there.
OBIK: Ahhhh. The smut.
STEVE: The smut. That was kinda cool--we knew where the history was. Fuck this punk rock shit--where's the Mitchell Brothers'? We were terrible punk rockers because we were really just...we weren't down with all these little scenes and shit, which were really just little witches dens, we were just more into...we had our own things going on.
OBIK: Christmas Eve was Duncan's Pub in Reno.
STEVE: No that was canceled, I think. They were having cop trouble in Reno pretty bad, actually.
We stayed in San Francisco, we were staying at that point with a guy named Mike Barbo, he was, him and his wife had a nice place, not far from Kezar Stadium and Mike Barbo, god, I think he's in prison now, but it was like a drug house...maybe I shouldn't put that out there...nah, it was true--it was really party time.
OBIK: Christmas you played at the Mab?
STEVE: I thought Christmas...yeah, it was the Mab.
OBIK: What was your relationship like with Dirk Dirksen?
STEVE: No relationship whatsoever.
OBIK: No relationship?
STEVE: Zero. He was a nasty, unhappy human being who, well, took advantage of all the bands--just nasty.
OBIK: Dirk seems to be one of those people that you either love or hate.
STEVE: Is that right?
STEVE: For me, as a midwestern kid, there was nothing to love about that. He was just miserable and unhappy, that's his problem.
OBIK: December 31 was supposed to be Salt Lake, but that was canceled.
STEVE: That was canceled and instead we got on a bill with the Effigies, Dead Kennedys, Flipper, Fix.
OBIK: At the Factory.
STEVE: Yeah, that was a big warehouse. I remember that because of Flipper. We'd had a big party the night before at Ruth Schwartz's and boy, everybody just got loaded and it was a really, really good party. I remember the Flipper guys were there...Flipper--Ted Falconi would always go see the Fix, no matter what, he was a big fan, and it was like a big party. All the Dead Kennedys were there, Darren Peligro, Ted, and then the Effigies rolled in and Earl was flipping out, it was his first tour, Earl was kinda getting unhinged, you could tell.
OBIK: Man, they hadn't even been on the road for a month.
STEVE: No. (laughs) He was a nice guy and a terrific guitar player, and he just kinda wigged a little bit. But anyway, the night before was a really terrific party. Flipper blew everybody off the stage, and I think Anti Pasti was on that bill.
That would be the last Fix show, by the way.
OBIK: Not January 2 at Crazy Al's in Indy?
STEVE: No, no.
OBIK: Was the Indianapolis show set up by the Zero Boys?
STEVE: For some reason I think Marvin Goldstein, and he was the Zero Boys guy, so probably. Marvin Goldstein was the big booker there.
OBIK: And after that New Years' Eve show did you just head straight back to the midwest or did you hang out?
STEVE: No, we definitely got in the car the next day and drove back.
OBIK: Was there any awareness that this was the end of the Fix?
STEVE: No, not at all. We'd planned on doing--we had a couple new songs we were working on, and no, we had no idea.
Now the one thing that happened, and you'll wanna ask Jeff this, but his dad had come down and seen us at Don Neal's in Kalamazoo that previous September and my guess is that daddy was not happy that his son was hanging out with us and I think he decided, "My son's gonna graduate college and he's gonna do something with his life, not hang out with these losers." His dad was a golf-shirt-wearing country club guy and I think that's it.
OBIK: Speaking of songs, do you have any Fix lyrics? Cuz I don't have lyrics to like, In This Town, Candy Store, and the last half of Signal.
STEVE: You know, I don't think I do...I could check...I have no idea who would have those . I don't even remember how I learned the lyrics.
OBIK: Okay, after Jeff left you auditioned a few drummers.
STEVE: Yeah, but it became quickly apparent that nobody--nobody--could play that material.
OBIK: And it was a mutual decision to split?
STEVE: Yeah, it was, it was. Craig began drifting over...he was doing more traditional music anyway--he was such an accomplished musician that who blames him, anyway? Really, it was not like it was a huge deal. I don't remember ever feeling great remorse over it. At the same time it was kinda shitty because that scene had been hijacked by a bunch of clowns and they were sullying it pretty well--the sounds turned generic and it became like a social club, while what attracted me in the first place was a musical thing.
OBIK: What did you think of the Flying Tigers?
OBIK: (laughs) Okay.
STEVE: Well, they were a tight band, what were they Mike, blues?
MIKE: Yeah. They were real smooth.
OBIK: Did you know about the John Sinclair connection?
STEVE: Yeah, I used to see him sometimes.
OBIK: Was he as bitter then as he is now?
STEVE: I don't really know...Mike?
MIKE: I never really...
STEVE: Yeah, you never really met him. He just seemed like a regular guy to me.
OBIK: And then post-Fix you were in Blight.
STEVE: Yeah, our sound guy, Pat Clarke, I guess he taught himself to play drums, and we had a basement, a really nice basement where Mike and I were living, and we rehearsed there.
OBIK: Was Pat Clarke the prime mover behind Blight?
STEVE: No, not really. I think Mike and I were just goofing around, and Tesco was hanging out anyway. So, that would be that. It was just a natural kind of thing and we played...we played with...
OBIK: The Meatmen and the Dead Kennedys.
STEVE: Yeah, and I think our first show was opening for the Bad Brains at this little place in East Lansing.
The Bad Brains stayed at our house for a week, I think...
OBIK: And made long distance calls and ate your food?
STEVE: No, they were great house guests--the cooked for us, they cleaned, they played ping pong with us--we had a great table downstairs, and every night we'd play ping pong, and they were just terrific guests.
OBIK: Hmm. Their behavior was kinda inconsistent on their first tour.
STEVE: Yeah...they had just come from the Texas thing. It's one of those things you find out about it and it's just...yeah, okay, now what? And by the way, I would continue to run into them over the years and they were always terrific, always remembered me, they were just great. It's funny, I must be one of the few that's had nothing but great experiences with them.
OBIK: And after Tesco left Blight you got Scott Bennett...
STEVE: Actually what happened is we recorded that EP down in Maumee and that came out I think two years later...
OBIK: Yeah, it was supposed to be an LP first...then a cassette, then a 12" EP, and finally a 7" EP.
STEVE: Yeah, and that came out and at the time I was in Kalamazoo and I knew this guy named Scott Bennett and Mike was around, Pat was in Kalamazoo too, so it just kinda...we said, hey the EP's out, let's just do some shows!
OBIK: So it wasn't a serious thing?
STEVE: No, no.
OBIK: But you did tour, play the west coast.
STEVE: Yeah, it was easy by that time--anyone could tour. It wasn't like...everything had been done.
OBIK: Any other last minute memories, last shows...
STEVE: Lemme think....
OBIK: Oh, whoa, here's another show. May 30, 1980 at the Lansing Civic Players hall.
STEVE: Oh wait, I got two more to throw in then. Civic Players...I thought that was June for some fucking reason.
OBIK: With Trainable.
STEVE: Yeah, I remember the show. Okay. And then also we played a church in East Lansing...I can't remember when, but it was a concrete room and it was...I don't think anyone showed up. That was spring '81, May probably,but Tesco was there for sure and we were really good that night. And also...we also had a show in Mt Pleasant at one point in February--81--and we got up there, went up the club, Craig plugged in his guitar, the guy said it was too loud, and we packed up our stuff and left. We ended up in a frat party and Jeff got too drunk to play--
OBIK: Is that the one where he fell off his drum stool?
OBIK: Did you carry on sans drummer?
STEVE: No, we were all pretty much in the bag by then, it was like "thank you for falling off the drum stool, we can go home now." There are probably some more--oh, I know--November....that mighta been just for friends. November '81, before the Freezer show we were rehearsing in a church in Lansing and we played a show there, but it wasn't really a show, just for friends, but somehow the Detroit kids ended up there--John Brannon, I believe was there.
OBIK: Was it an abandoned church, a squat?
STEVE: No, it was active, we had somehow, I think Jeff knew someone who ran the place and we could keep our equipment there and that's where we rehearsed between the summer and winter tours.
OBIK: Not a typical punk rock venue.
STEVE: No, not at all, and that suited us. We could see how the punk rock kids were acting and we'd do anything to stay away from that shit. They were too serious.
OBIK: Dour, humorless.
STEVE: Yeah, so humorless it was unpleasant. They were so obsessed with being cool...liking the right music and wearing the right punk gear it was ridiculous.
OBIK: Any memories of those demos you did before Vengeance?
STEVE: No, and I think they probably came out alright--I'd love to hear them. I really don't recall what happened...I'd love to see them...it's one of those things where you really don't know what's happened to it, but you'd really like to...
That whole hardcore thing, Black Flag really did it, they started it, they paved the way. You've gotta remember that--of course the Ramones had played out, even though they had major label backing they were breaking some ground too. I don't really know the extent to which DOA did, they did their own tours, did some groundbreaking stuff too.
OBIK: The way I look at it there are really four bands that broke the touring circuit wide open: the Ramones, Black Flag, DOA, and the Dils.
STEVE: Did the Dils tour a lot? I know they went to Texas.
OBIK: The Dils went to Texas, the Dils went to Chicago, the Dils went to Toronto, the Dils went to New York. First independent west coast punk band to do that.
STEVE: How did they do that? Were they flown out?
OBIK: They toured across Canada.
STEVE: Okay, then they were doing it. Bands like the Circle Jerks would get flown to New York and stuff, and the Dead Kennedys, but that's not really doing. I didn't know the Dils did.
OBIK: Nobody does, and it's a real shame.
STEVE: You're right, it is. Toxic Reasons really did it too.
Okay, that's about it. I'll be interested to see how it comes out. I'll keep my eye on the site...you'll probably put together something real comprehensive...
OBIK: Yeah, I'd definitely like to do a comprehensive tour chronology for you guys.
STEVE: Okay, the exact dates are gonna be a bitch, but the more flyers that show up the better.
OBIK: Flyers are a real bitch--I've only seen four or five Fix ones.
STEVE: Hang on a minute, I think I've got one for a November Club Doobee show...we played there September of 1980, I remember that...
OBIK: Oh yeah--you played a Fuck New Wave gig in a basement in Lansing in September...
STEVE: Really? When was that?
OBIK: September of '80, with the Necros.
STEVE: With the Necros in a basement?
STEVE: That I don't recall at all.
OBIK: The flyer was reprinted in the book American Hardcore.
STEVE: Piece of shit book.
OBIK: What did you think of it?
STEVE: It was terrible. That guy...who was that guy, he had no clue, he was from fucking No Trend, which had nothing to do with anything. He was terrible.
OBIK: And he said something about you guys...what was it, that you had a Germs ripoff phase and Discharge ripoff phase and your record captured neither.
STEVE: That was not him, that was Barry and he...that's his thing.
OBIK: What's the deal with Barry, anyway?
STEVE: I have no idea, you'd really have to talk to him about that.
OBIK: I will, eventually.
OBIK: Did Steven Blush talk to you at all ?
STEVE: No, of course not! He's not a journalist, he's just some hack guy who was looking in and wishing he was a part of it.
Here's a flyer: Fix live at Club Doobee, November 21. $2.
OBIK: Any support acts?
STEVE: A band called Not The.
Have you got the old Touch and Go magazines?
OBIK: I've got a bunch of them.
STEVE: They should also give you a good idea.
OBIK: Well, there's a big hole in my collection right around when you guys started playing out, so not really.
STEVE: Oh, I see, okay. I don't see anything more, but that was one... I may think of some more and if I do, I'll email you.
These histories are kinda fun.
OBIK: They're a lot of fun, hell.
STEVE: (laughs) Yeah, you're doing pretty good at it, you're talking to a whole lot of people and that makes a big difference--rounds out the story. So you really give the reader and idea...
OBIK: Well that's pretty much it for take two.
STEVE: Well, we got it done, didn't we.