Let’s go back to those glory years, yeah, you got it—-I’m talking about the 80’s people!
The hair was out to there, the cowboy boots up to here, and we didn’t have to worry about drunken cell phone pictures showing up on goddamned Facebook every Monday morning!
It’s been well documented that yer ol pals here at the CH3 stables went through a familiar…… metamorphosis way back when.
You see, the late eighties were a dismal time for hardcore punk. Show after show was plagued by riots and violence, the touring venues got smaller and sadder.
The choice seemed clear: either continue playing at VFW halls with Youth Brigade for a knot of bald fifteen year old boys, or sell our souls and hit the Sunset Strip.
There, the skanks hanging at the The Rainbow had fake leather skirts, real apartments in Venice, breasts like Baked Alaskas, ……..and money!
Hmmmmm….what to do, what to do?
Nice doing business with ya, Satan! Now hand us our fringe leather jackets and aviators, will ya, ’cause we’re fuckin outta here!
Oh, other punk acts found their own way to evolve in those nutty times, but we managed to find a quite unique middle ground: too rock and roll for the punk rockers, and too raw and scruffy for the metal fans.
In other words, we had concocted the chemical equation to alienate any and all fans! Perfect!
Sure, we put out a couple releases on the upstart Enigma label. But we’ll get to those gems at a later date, when the therapy has done its job.
Today let’s go beyond those heady times and see what the fellas did after their desperate grasp at stardom!
See, people always assume we spent those wild years in the Aqua Net wilderness as another heavy metal poof act on the strip.
No, not really.
Oh sure, maybe we started to look a little…different:
Dropped from Enigma and jobless, we spent countless afternoons watching Cocksucker Blues and The Last Waltz back to back. And although we also watched MV3 in hopes of catching the odd WASP video, I could tell we were intrigued by a slower tempo, a simpler tone.
Jay had been a battle-weary veteran of the early punk years, the Sunset Glam years, back into the hardcore fray with us, and then through the hellish Label Showcase wringer.
He’d been around, and I believe he’d had enough of hearing a Les Paul plugged into a cranked Marshall half stack to last 3 lifetimes.
So it was with this mindset, an almost–dare I say it!– punk attitude toward doing just what we wanted, we went back into the studio for a new round of demos. The guitars more thoughtful, the screaming less angry….had we grown up?
Nah. Bored, maybe. Alienated, definitely.
These tapes sat around for several years, and honestly, I hadn’t heard them untill the wags over at Punk Not Profit posted up the Rejected album online.
Wot say? Rejected? And you friggin vinyl nerds thought your mylar-entombed CH3 collection was intact, didn’t ya??
Heh, oh no…. there was another one!
Rejected was an album that came out on the gutsy little Lone Wolf label out of Canada, where head maniac Jill Heath decided it weould be a good idea to let these odd demo tracks see the light of day. Yeah, that’s right, these tracks were recorded on spec, with not a record label in sight—-demos, rejected demos!! Har—do ya get it?? Rejected?…..Oh, never mind.
Anyway, after downloading these songs, probably along with a half dozen pesky Russian viruses, I took a sentimental listen.
And while I’ll spare you the sample, this record contains perhaps my crowning achievenment as a lyricist. I refer, of course, to the somber College of Love, where our protagonist spews thus:
The broken heart is a common flower
Like herpes at a Red Onion happy hour.
Thank you, thank you. No, really, it was nothing.
Maybe because I am currently obsessed with the PBS reality series Circus, one song that I find a strange gem is Carnival Life.
It features a loping bass line, and a pleading harmonica riff.
We were going for, I believe, a vibe similar to the Clash’s Train in Vain.
What we end up with here sounds like a bastardized cross between Johnny Cougar and Dexy’s Midnight Runners—enjoy!
Carnival Life (Lansford/Magrann)
Well it’s sundown in this small town
12 miles out of Champaign
Seen the same sun set from a thousand towns
But you know it’s never quite the same
The lights come on, generators hum
And sawdust swims the air
Well I’ve been all over the whole damn world
But I never seem to get nowhere
It’s been so long since I’ve seen my Mom
I’m drinking far too much every night
I guess that’s what you’ve gotta expect
From this Carnival Life
I remember one September
This outfit pulled through town
I was a restless kid with no Summer left
So I helped them pull the stakes from the ground
Yeah, but I’m feeling so damn old
My trailer’s so damn cold
What have I missed for a life on the road?
Suburban life, kids and a wife-
Movies on a Saturday night?
Well it’s showtime, see this long line
Have your tickets out please
Guess I always wanted to be a Star
But I never learned to act or to sing
But it’s time now for the next town
Besides what else what would I do?
Ain’t it true you gotta love what you are, in the end?
Even a carny with some ugly tattoos
We’re driving though the night, we’re headin for the Light
There’s a Stuckey’s up ahead to the right
I guess I am just a happy man
Because I love this Carnival Life
So what ya think?
Oh C’mon now—it’s catchy, right?
You tell me we couldn’t sell this baby to Tim McGraw and live like Persian exchange students for the rest of our lives!!
But if there’s one tune that really sums it all up, our mindset at the time, it’s gotta be album closer Far From Home.
Basic as any thrash song in 3 chord simplicity, we unabashedly glom the Stonsey vibe and tell the tale of the road. Weary vocals, every goddamn Richards riff Jay could think of, and more than 6 wooos!, this baby was obviously never meant to see the light o day—but I like it! Sounds like a roadtrip, yeah?
Oh yes, we were still touring at these later days, and we went from town to town extinguishing every last drop of Punk Rock goodwill and credibility we had ever earned.
Let me tell you, when I pulled the ol’ harmonica out onstage, more than one mohawked crusty would burst into tears and go running out the club’s backdoor, never to be seen again!
So listen now to this hardy tale of travel, and allow the boys to ride into the sunset as the music fades out at 3:15…..but what tha?
Oh ho, yeah, we got ya, the song fades back in again!! Clever, clever!….and then we fade out again, only to come crashing back for that last terrible, confused coda.
Those final notes.
As if we knew our time on stage was up, and even as we are dragged off stage-left, we claw desperately at the scenery.
Clinging to a final and precious moment in the spotlight.
Far From Home (Lansford/Magrann)
Got a half of tank of gas, some Camels on the dash
And we’re singing with George Jones
Driving though the night and headin for the Light
Of a Stuckey’s down that road
Well God, I love this country in the dark
Where every city looks the same from inside of a bar
Far From Home
And no one knows your name or asks you for some change
For the jukebox on that road
Well, it’s funny how it seems the girls don’t act so mean
Like the ones we know back home
I never I thought I’d see
The sun rising from the Sea
So come and have a drink
With the boys of Channel Three