Every time I climbed on stage with those guys (meaning the original lineup of our band), I did so being absolutely convinced that our mission was guided by God. You may have smugly thought that we were the villains that every good story needs but we were actually the good guys -- the only people willing to go all out for the Holy Vow. Over and over, when we found ourselves in a position to make some real money and turn music into a real job (shudder!) -- we found a way to alienate or infuriate the people signing the checks. It's not that we were idealistic -- far from it. We knew how the whole game worked. We also knew that it was rotten to the core and beyond saving but still it was there -- a teetering Tower of Babel that absolutely called out to be knocked down. The situation required that a truly stupid and futile gesture be done on somebody's part -- and we were just the guys to do it.
Our band may have started in 1988, but it didn't matter a bit -- we were a 1990s band dealing with the newly-conceived 1990s mind set of Total Assimilation. I saw the writing on the wall from the very earliest days. Music was going to become "just music" or the ridiculous sub-categories would gain strength and destroy us. It was kill or be killed and like the Confederate Army, we started off strong. However, in four short years we were stomped flat by a pop-culture fascist state that chanted "Conform. Conform." and there is a pretty good chance that you didn't really help matters. You probably thought that there were Metal bands, Punk bands, Hardcore bands, Grunge bands...you probably had the whole musical landscape mapped out so you could easily travel over the teenage hill and dale but then we came along and just made you confused. We didn't know what kind of music we played -- we didn't care. Kevin had long hair and we couldn't get him to cut it. Mike wore the same pants for six months at a time and we couldn't get him to change them. Mark wore that blue fishing hat every day and the more we complained about it, the more he adored it. I would pick my nose on MTV and talk about household chores when the radio stations would call the Hepburn apartment to interview me. All of our girlfriends hated each other -- hell, most of the time we openly hated each other. But again, none of this mattered. What mattered was knowing that there was plenty of time to straighten up and fly right LATER. You could always go back to college and get a real job LATER. What mattered was finding anything "cool" and attacking it. What mattered was killing every buzz you encountered. What mattered was NOT giving the people what they wanted. In other words, we were being Punk while you were being a total pussy.
The early shows in 1988/89 but well received and I'm thankful for the support. It was really strange that both incarnations of our band were revealed in Southern Indiana -- from my vantage point, both were disasters for very different reasons. After our first set (the Fugazi/Lead Pennies/Kinghorse show), I was so overheated that I couldn't figure out how to open my apartment door!! I very nearly killed myself while attempting to break in. After climbing out the fire escape, I scaled the roof of my gigantic Cherokee Rd. apartment house and contemplated dropping onto the opposite drop roof (to get into a window). I remember straddling the tip-top of the huge Victorian home like it was a massive wooden hobby horse and thinking (between bouts of throwing up Hawaiian Punch) "I'm gonna fall of this house and get killed, just like Dad". Somehow, I figured out how to operate my key and I got back in. As far as the second debut with Jerry, that was payback from God for taking the stage without Mike B. That is no slag against Jerry (who played amazingly well every show he did with the Horse) -- on that day, I just didn't feel "right" without Mike up there with me. Nobody seemed to realize that it was the first time that I had done a show without him since Ned Oldham quit Maurice in 1984!! Anyway, I'm getting ahead of myself. We were in 1988, our Freshman year and we were unstoppable -- just like the rebs at the Battle of Manassas.
I remember that that asswipe David Ellenberger booked the first few shows. I hated that fucker and I hated his doting and ever-present Mother even more. She looked like something from a C.S.Lewis nightmare -- I especially loathed her white bobbed hair. Goddamn, I get totally pissed off just thinking about those two people. I heard that the Ellenbergers own that ridiculous Karaoke bar, "Aikikos". I don't know if that is true but if it is, and you frequent the place knowing that it's true, you are a Traitor to Louisville Punk. Hell, for that matter, if you frequent the building that used to be Tewligan's Tavern, you are a traitorous dog. "Cahoots" is what it's called now. If that building does not showcase live music by Louisville freaks and geeks -- I ain't goin' in. No fucking way. I met Britt there! I met Mooch there! I met Chili Rigot there! I saw Your Food there!!! Cahoots? The whole idea fills me with disgust. Anyway, dealing with Ellenberger was hell on Earth to be sure. There were some good bands playing around in the months before the Kinghorse/Endpoint/Oblong Box era started . I liked Hellride and Deathwatch quite a bit but I really wasn't too into bands like Indignant Few or Bush League. I mean, I really liked the guys from Bush League but their band was just horrible. I remember going to a show with Dheby and the Indignant Few were playing. The only line of lyric I could make out was "...fuck every faggot in this room". I thought that was pretty funny actually. Dheby didn't think so for obvious reasons. We also couldn't understand why we didn't know a single person at the gig. I guess that was the same time that good bands like Covered in Mud were playing out but we were still too young to get in a bar. I had a real job at the time -- my brother and I were spending sixty hours a week cutting stainless steel for the scrap heaps at my step-father's erecting company. When I wasn't at work, I was to be found in the company of Todd Osbourne, Stan Baker or Greg Maddux. 1987 was ever-after called the "summer of bummer". However, 1988 was a different story. We thought Hardcore was finally dead and that maybe we could build on what Fading Out had started -- real American Rock music that was as much Black Flag as Black Oak Arkansas. Who would have known that so may people would deny their redneck roots? When we started there were three distinct camps -- Big Black fans, Youth of Today fans and Metallica fans. We fucking HATED all of these people.
Of course, the world was crawling with these cretins. They wandered around like plague-stricken peasants. The first camp convinced of their urbaneness, world-weary rich brats who were turned on by the detachment of a drum machine. They had the short hair. The second, dressed in the strict SXE uniform of the hooded sweat shirt, thought of nothing but girls and skateboarding (a way to meet girls). They had no hair. The third batch of dumbasses were the until-recently-Ozzy-obsessed Thrash Metal fans. These people had the long hair. We hated these people the most because, on top of being without taste, they were generally just burned out losers. That doesn't mean that we didn't have friends who liked Metallica or Slayer -- far from it. Kent Jackson and his crew were big Slayer fans and we loved those guys. There were a lot of South End punks who liked that kind of music that we were happy to play for, but it was the masses of unwashed metal devotees who didn't know or care about Punk, Jazz or Blues or anything else that we couldn't stand. We assumed that the East End art-fag contingent wanted to be as far from those people as they could get but we had other plans. We were going to create a goddamn Utopia, we were going to force these people to hang out together and LIKE it. The only way was to find bands from each little tribe and make them play shows with us. If this didn't happen, nobody was going to make any damn money and we would all have to continue to sell plasma to procure funds to make decent stickers. It was a frank Socialist experiment and for a while it worked...but like the Kennedy's Camelot, it was filled with too many double agents, star-fucking actresses and angry, double-crossed mobsters. It was doomed but this much I know, there were some great Rock shows from 1988-1992.
Of course, there were small groups of kids who were into truly different stuff. The Danny Maron/Drew Daniel/Jamie Miller Triumvirate were definitely marching to the sound of a different Tin Drum -- they didn't make any sense and there was no convenient slot to place them in. I adored those kids -- this was back before we all became stereotypes. I guess that you have to be easily identifiable to attract a mate from the proper Genus. Goddamn, nobody has the tenacity to be that weird for more than a few years at a time but wow, those dudes held out for a LONG time. It was great seeing dudes who would not abandon their interests in the face of complete failure in the social arena. I thought it was inspiring. Of course, back then I didn't know that only Youth can fuel such militant devotion to being Unique. I guess that one of the reasons that the kids today are so unapologetically devoted to conformity is that, like the Hippies, our social experiment FAILED. Can you blame them? They saw musicians who claimed to be upstanding celibate virgins scam on every 15-year-old chick in sight. Every generation is the same -- they declare their goals and Ideals and then they have bills to pay and itches to scratch. Gosh, that is a very depressing realization but hey, some of us were born weird and we stay weird until we give up the ghost.