Remember the Punks

We hit the ground San Antonio and try to remember the last time through this nutty town 82? 83? Never?

Kimm and I talk about crazy nights in Texas and correct each other:  em, no that was El Paso, had to be….no, no-  It was Austin, the girl with one leg…

We continue talking as if we have been here before, but our gray matter has been rinsed and squeezed one too many times to recall.

Punk bands in the “Veteran Class”--ahem, they tend to hold a few key items as badges of honor.
How many years since the first record released, how many shows still per year.
And most important, how many original members ya got?

That’s a tough one, as very few bands are able to count off on more than an index finger and thumb, some even less.

In our own case it’s always been me and Kimm sure, but we’ve been through an army of good lads who have contributed to past campaigns.
But that’s the very nature of this thing, isn’t it?

You almost dare each other, how many days are you willing to take off work, how many vacation days will you give to a sketchy tour in lieu of a trip-finally!– to see her folks back in Des Moines.

And so every year we ask each other if we are ready to map out yet another year out there, the triumphs and humiliations, the hours of boredom interrupted by the jewel-like minutes of sheer joy, playing your music on a stage with friends.


Lazy tourists
And so it was a kick to the gut a couple years ago, when our dear Alfie decided to sit out the upcoming year. There were grandkids to think of now, a new interest in hoppy craft beers, Halloween decorations that took four months of planning.

We said our reluctant farewells and set off to find new drummers as we had done a dozen times before, but this felt much different.   Alf had been longer than any other chap in the CH3 trenches.

He had seen us from the garage dicks of the 90’s, just cranking the amps and drinking the beer for our own amusement, to bringing it all back to a touring act once again.  The wild memories we shared, the inside jokes that could bring tears to our eyes with a single word.

But Alf needed some time off and we wished him well.

And so it was a real treat to have a weekend out in San Antonio with the Spider crew who have somehow persuaded Alf to get back up on the stage once again.

We  check into rooms that we have the ridiculous luxury of being in 2 nights in a row!

Can’t remember the last time we were not chased out at noon by the cleaning ladies, and set about making the room into a home:



Playoff baseball on the road
Then its over to Korova for the Remember the Punks  pre-party Friday night,.

A few last minute venue changes have the bands confused and wary, and we wonder if this is going to be one of those weekends, a disastrous failure we’ve become all too familiar with over the years.

But promoter Angel handles it all in stride, getting us settled and directing traffic.  He never seems fazed all weekend, god bless him, as I can see his phone constantly vibrating like a pocketful of angry wasps.  The booking agents demanding to know what the deal is, the bands asking for their pay up front.

He and his crew handle it all with unflappable charm, and the weekend turns out a success.

We are there in plenty of time to see Spider play, and they do indeed rock it all out, Alf’s familiar ferocious drumming a perfect complement to the guys, Hector’s wild man front man gymnastics out front.


.….you’ll break yer leg, kid!
It’s our turn to get up there and do the stuff, and the set goes over well, some gray heads in the crowd nodding to the songs of their youth, some liberty spikes bouncing along as well.


Feel free to crop this yourself
It’s not long before Alf and Anthony are hanging off each other and arm punching like the 2 knuckleheads they are, and KImm and I are sure this will either turn to fisticuffs or homoerotic wrestling as it has so many times in the past.

Luckily, its been a long day for the Spider crew as they are in the midst of a week out on the road and they retire to bed.

We are left to scour the deserted San Antonio streets for melted cheese, and-finally-sleep.


On the advice of the locals we report to Pete’s Tako House for their flour tortilla masterpieces.


We get back to the fest  in time for our late afternoon set, and play to a moist club.  It feels just right, playing these songs, many over three decades old, to a crowd packed into a sauna mid day.

It’s like we are back on that first swing through TX, what? 1982?!

Sweat pours onto guitar necks, salt blinds our vision, and we wouldn’t rather be anywhere else.



Then it’s catch up time yet again, chattting the day into night with the lads from JFA and DayGlo Abortions, the sparkling Adicts crew and Starving Wolves.



With Khepi Ghoulie


These festivals have become such a nice convention of familiar faces, and we prod each other with stories of decades past, gigs in weird places, funny stories of terrible people we’ve all known.


We have a bit of time to kill before sundown, so we grab the crew and do that most touristy of San Antonio things and hit the Riverwalk!

It is like the Jungle Cruise at Disney,  but the wild animals are in the boat, and the guns are real–ammIright, people?   yee haw!

It’s back on dry land for the headliners now, and Adicts and Fear do a perfect job of capping the day.



It’s been hot as hell, confusing and loud, but ain’t that what it’s supposed to be?

We sneak to the lounge next door to see the fading hopes of a LA-NY World Series drift away, and are soon joined by the rest of the Spider crew, come to rest their weary feet.

After the Yankees finally surrender their post season to Houston I catch up to Alfie again, and he grabs me around the neck and smooches me a good one on the cheek.

“Ya know,” he shouts into my ear hole, “I love ya guys, love ya!

It’s just grand to see Alf out on the road again, and though we have the bittersweet perspective of having to watch each other from the audience now, it’s worth it just to be out here in America with the nut one more time.



“Love ya,” he says yet again, as he has been drinking since their noon set.
“Ya know, I was a fan before I joined the band , and I’m a fan again.”

And I take that back with me, through the night and all the way home, one of those  little moments in time that keep us going.

The Model Citizen

All day long we hear him cry, he says that he was framed….





When we start a new project it’s like staring at a blank wall, paintbrush in hand.

You can’t quite believe you are going to end up-some time, somewhere-with a fully painted upstairs.  But you gotta start somewhere.

Jay had been on me for  five years at least.  Sending tapes in the mail, actual cassettes recorded in his home in Hanover, Germany.    Then reluctant concessions to the binary technologies, emailed wav files of song snippets.

C’mon man, he would message in the middle of the night.  You guys need a new record—you hear anything here?

Kimm would show up to practice with a riff or two.  I kept the usual journal full of lyrics and song titles, scribbled down in those odd moments of inspiration that strike in traffic jams or upon awaking from feverish dreams.

But somehow, it just never seemed like the right time to lay down a new album.
Truthfully, you  ask yourself, why?

If our most notable achievement has been to just continue playing, well, you can’t really blame the people who come to see us for wanting to hear those songs.

Oh, you know.  That first EP,  Fear of Life, that’s the stuff we are known for.

And you have to be goddamn grateful that you can travel around and have a handful of people know some songs you wrote alone in your bedroom, a whole lifetime removed from the creaky old guy who’s onstage tonight.
The set list inevitably reflects that:  We hit em 1-2-3!, Fear of Life, Catholic Boy, Manzanar–boom.

You see a 50-year-old man in the crowd come alive, see this former 16-year-old kid somehow awaken by the gleam in his eye.   He hands his beer to his frowning wife and pulls up his pants by the belt loops before jumping headlong into the pit.  He shows the kids how to open this goddamned thing up! and he’s singing along with the lyrics I have honestly forgotten and mumble, winging it.  The song ends and he raises his arms triumphantly, lets out a whoo! towards the ceiling.  He looks expectantly to the stage for the next song:

Got a Gun?  Maybe fuckin’ Separate Peace! Love that one!

Now, this one here, here comes a new one, I’ll say,  just recorded last year……,and the light goes out.

He tucks his shirt back in and grabs his beer, swallows it down and guides the wife outside for a smoke.

You’ve lost the momentum started by 35-year-old songs and the people catch their breath, make their way to the bar for a refill.  Or – worst of all-peer down, faces illuminated by the tell-tale glow of cellular phone and check their Facebook messages while you stumble through a new one.

Yeah, every veteran band knows this routine.   Do you stick to the safety of the crowd favorites, or feed the creative soul and throw out some new stuff?

Some artists refuse to play the songs the crowd loves *cough* Paul Weller *cough*  for fear of living in that past, no matter how glorious.

In Bob Mould’s awesome The Descent:

I didn’t want to play the song
That gave people so much hope
I turned my back and turned away
Here’s the rope that made me choke

But earlier this year, finally, it was back to work.

We had an unusually rainy winter, perfect for getting together on the weekends and woodshedding some ideas.    And then you have fuckin Mike Love as Commander -in -Chief  now, so some of that teen indignation is resurrected, embers from yesterday’s campfire brought back to glowing red by the breeze.

Jay set a hard date-Superbowl Sunday!- to come out and start pre-production, so we started working backwards.  Set a recording date,  brought out all the tapes and notes.

And began.