Born the youngest of 6, in 1955 in Springfield Illinois when Rock n Roll was an infant. Our family drifted west with a pit stop in Phoenix on the way to California, where I grew up.I listened to AM Radio in the mid sixties, bought my first vinyl LPs in the late 60's-early 70's when Creedence, Hendrix, Sabbath ruled my turntable. Spent most of my high school years in the desert nowhere of tiny, isolated 29 Palms, where the only cheap thrills were watching the local Marine jar-heads get in fights with the transient hippies at the A&W root beer stand and weekends camping in the desert. After leaving this wasteland behind, my first real job at 16 was dishwashing at a convalescent hospital and was introduced to smoking weed by a co-worker who had a '58 Chevy low rider equipped with an 8 track player. On breaks, we would listen to Savoy Brown and Hendrix bootlegs in his car. After graduating from Baldwin Park H.S. I left home for Spokane, Washington where I saw my first live music, such as bands like ZZ Top, Steve Miller Band, Grand Funk, Blue Oyster Cult, Focus, Brownsville Station, Edgar Winters, Foghat and Kiss (who were 3rd on a bill headlined by Manfred Mann!!) among others at the local nondescript concrete arena.
Further dabbling in recreational drugs would lead me to getting fired from my job managing a burger joint at the 1974 Worlds Fair and doing a short stint in the local jail followed by probation, during which I was on an experimental work release program where I spent 8 hours washing steak and lobster platters at Black Angus and the rest of my time locked up. In 1976, moved back to So. Calif, lived in a polyester catacomb (trailer park) while working at El Monte Car Wash when my daughter was born. After 6 short months, her mother would disappear with her without advising me her whereabouts. I struggled unsuccessfully to regain custody for several years to no avail. The courts decided she was better off with her adoptive parents, and after a failed summer attempt to be closer to her in Oregon, I would reluctantly agree with their verdict. I wouldn't see her again until she turned 19. I drifted around Orange County for several years, with various odd jobs to support myself, eventually driving a ice cream truck in the poorer 'hoods of Anaheim and Fullerton for another company, then my first DIY venture began when I bought my first truck (basically a used utility van) and Captain Frosty was conceived! In between peddling cold confections and sugar water, I had picked up a renewed interest in the Yippie Party, founded by Abbie Hoffman and Ed Sanders in the '60's, which by 1978 consisted of a group of outcasts and freaks loosely organized in New York City. Encouraged by Aaron Kay, the infamous "pie man", I would distribute their national newspaper, the Yipster Times to record stores and head shops along my ice cream route and in Pomona where I lived with my brother for a time. A summer (4 days cross country on a Greyhound bus) visit to Washington DC for their annual smoke-in at the White House would also bring me to New York City's Lower East Side Yippie house on Bleecker just across the street from CBGBs. Although I had just missed my chance to pay a visit the sacred halls of this punk venue, this trip was an eye opener for me. It wasn't long after that I discovered records by the Sex Pistols, Blondie, Devo and the Ramones. I even had an 8 track of Devo's first album blasting from the ice cream truck instead of the usual nursery rhymes, which got many confused looks from the kids and low rider types. After a couple of fun and successful seasons, my truck broke down for good and I took a job at a Pomona smoke shop that was carrying the Yipster Times. It was a fellow yippie, (Steve Morris of Benedict Arnold & the Traitors) who invited me to my very first punk rock show in LA, at the Hong Kong Cafe. It was headlined by D.O.A., with openers the Bags and Catholic Discipline. The first of many shows in 1979 and 1980 that changed my life. X, Dez-era Black Flag, Germs, Middle Class, Adolescents, Stranglers, Sham 69, Dead Kennedys, Wall of Voodoo, Nervous Gender, Slits, Plasmatics, Gang of 4, Plugz, Cramps, Public Image, and Fear were some of the many highlights.
I persuaded the head shop owners to let me open a tiny record shop in their back room, so I could try my hand selling some punk records and merchandise, which mostly consisted of the Deadbeats "Kill the Hippies" Dangerhouse single , Ray Pettibon's "Captive Chains" comic book, studded leather wristbands and a few buttons. After that venture failed to generate any profit margin for the owners, I was back to selling rolling papers up front. I later on managed to opened my own record store, just down the road. Toxic Shock Records was born sometime in the summer of 1980 on a fairly nondescript street in suburban Pomona and in a tiny corner shop wedged between a realty office and a car repair shop, across from a Der Weinersnitzel hot dog stand. Pomona was mostly known for the annual L.A. County fair and because of that for decades it was the butt of jokes from the likes of William Holden and Jack Benny. It was this "hick" town that was the honeymoon destination choice for Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, who knows why. Maybe they ran out of gas on the way to Palm Springs? I knew I couldn't compete with the bigger, trendier record stores in glitzy Hollywood out here in drab Pomona, with its ugly suburban sprawl and a decaying historic district, but I was hoping by refusing to carry major labels,and being forced to stay within the limits of my tiny start-up budget I could find a niche catering to the local malcontents. I instead of carrying the obvious punk superstars, the Clash and Sex Pistols I tried to offer a meager selection of lesser known, underground Southern California independent labels like Dangerhouse, SST, Upsetter, Slash, Frontier, Posh Boy, plus some other west coast labels like Subterranean, distributor Systematic from San Francisco and Friends Records from Vancouver B.C., plus a few things from New York. I also stocked a few UK imports on Industrial Records, Rough Trade, 4AD, Malicious Damage, Crass,and Stiff, all on vinyl, naturally. I rounded it out with a smattering of punk/new wave related punk merchandise.
The lowly shop with the melting red and black Toxic Shock sign painted on the glass window would attract people mainly by word of mouth, and the curiosity seekers would root around the record bins, read magazines on the couch and help me fill up the ashtray with cigarette butts. Since I lived in the back of the store, the business hours were never set in stone and the door would be open until late at night. People would just hang out and listen to whatever was on my turntable at the time, which could be the Fall, Blurt, D.O.A., Bauhaus, Flipper, Magazine, Minimal Man, Cabaret Voltaire, the Residents, Throbbing Gristle, the Plasmatics or Saccharine Trust, depending on my mood. at the time, None of it was radio friendly, but the suburbs had a few people who were hungry for more than was being offered at the big chain record mega stores. One of these people would be my future wife, Julianna who would bring her sister over with a bottle of wine, so they could escape the stifling confines of their mothers authority for awhile.
Pomona was a bit isolated from the whole Hollywood scene, being a good 60 minute ride on the freeway from Los Angeles itself and another 45 minutes north of Orange County, where droves of teen suburbanite punks were now growing in numbers, creating lots of violence and destruction not only in hip Hollywood venues like the Whiskey and the Starwood, but also beach haunts like the Cuckoos Nest and the Fleetwood. Out in the eastern outskirts of L.A. County, Pomona, had a few bands started up in the area, such as the Dull, and Modern Industry from just over the hill in Covina to our west, Kent State and the Stepmothers hailed from Ontario to our immediate east and Manson Youth who came from the real boonies, Chino, to our north. They had cows grazing out there in Chino. Pomona itself, had only a metal/punk band called Bondage, who were a bunch of macho coke-heads, Although we had nothing like the beach gang violence that followed bands like T.S.O.L.and Black Flag, there was some petty rivalry between the towns, like fistfights at backyard parties.
The closest thing we had to a live music venue in Pomona was Arts Building, run by a mild-mannered arts enthusiast named appropriately enough, Art. Just about any artist in the area could get an art showing there and a band could get a gig there just by giving Art a phone call. The space was so tiny that a crowd of a dozen music fans could be considered a sell out show. This led me to thinking some bigger shows could be brought to Pomona, if only there was a cheap to rent building somewhere. In early 1981 that somewhere turned out to be the P.A.L. Boxing Gym, a huge dilapidated old building where the boxing platform would be disassembled and converted to a space for a stage. After renting a PA system and selling tickets at Toxic Shock, soon bands like China White, Adolescents, Middle Class and Social Distortion would come up from O.C. and other bands like the Cheifs, the Gears, Rik L Rik, Bad Religion and and even true out-of-towners like the Red Rockers from New Orleans and the Subhumans from Canada would also headline shows there. I remember when all the members of Black Flag came to see their friends the Subhumans,from Vancouver before Flag shared a bill with them later that week at a rented hall in LA. After 4 well-attended shows organized at the boxing gym, we finally got ourselves banned from the Gym due to some overly rambunctious "music fans" tearing all the plumbing from the bathroom walls.
After that venture, I tried to concentrate more on the shop, and placed a couple classified ads in rock magazines Trouser Press and Rolling Stone for a mail-order catalog and I got flooded with requests, which kept me busier at the shop, once some catalogs finally got mailed off..
George Belanger, Jay and James McGearty would also be among the hangers on at the shop and they would tell me of this new band they were starting with Roger, (who had by now changed his name to Rozz Williams. Despite his claims that it originated from a gravestone, I figured years later he most likely stole his new moniker from Ricky Williams of the Sleepers, a great little obscure San Francisco band) and it was going to be called Christian Death. One of George and James catch phrases went something like "that's Spa, dude!" , a reference to anything they considered gay or stupid, so I was a little surprised to hear of their association with Rozz, who was known to sometimes frequent the restrooms at a public park along with Ron Athey as male prostitutes for drug money. I know they used to get their kicks stealing flowers from the local cemetery and supposedly they stole some gravestones as well, which is hard to believe considering how physically frail Rozz was. Maybe George was talked into being the actual culprit, as he was a strong drummer and a fairly big guy. George was a cool kid though, finding out he was a fan of Keith Moon, we got along just fine. James and Jay were a bit more secretive, aloof and coy. They all seemed to have high hopes that their new band was going to go places, at the very least get them out of Pomona on weekends.
There was another character who would frequent the shop, who we called Crazy Ray, a native American dude who was seemingly filled with anger and rage constantly, He had a humorous side to him as well, as he took great joy in antagonizing people and pushing their buttons. Although he claimed to be anti-social, it seemed he was also intrigued by the shop and the "customers", who he would loudly berate to test their responses. Being a "anything goes as long as nobody get hurt" brand of anarchist myself, I accepted Ray as another of Pomona's harmless eccentrics. One time, he got in George Belanger's face and was giving him a bunch of shit over god knows what. Next thing I knew, George had put his fist through the glass door entrance to the store. His friends rushed him off to get medical attention for his hand and I had a bloody mess and glass repair to deal with. The next day, Rozz and gal pal Mary came to the shop pleading with me to let them have the now blood stained poster that once hung on the door, the one with the severed hand caught in barbed wire, from the "Your Country Needs You" subtitle, that came with the Crass "Feeding of the 5000" album. Evidently, the raven-haired duo needed a souvenir to add to their collection of morbid relics. At some point, Ron Athey made the shop's couch a regular pit stop where he could listen to the latest Throbbing Gristle 12" , between his rounds of hustling Holt Ave for dope money. Again, being the naive anarchist at heart, with no particular homophobic hang ups and finding out both of us were TG fans, I saw no harm in him hanging around. I would joke with him when I thought certain bands were too dramatic or cheesy, and tag them as having too much "Bowie damage". A highlight for me that year was seeing Throbbing Gristle live in Culver City, the day before their last performance in San Francisco. Chuck Dukowski (of Black Flag) opened the show with his concept troupe, SWA and Vox Pop also played that night.
Sometime in the summer of 1981, I noticed a "for rent" sign at a much bigger building just 2 stores down from us, that used to be an appliance store that came complete with an air conditioning showroom, separate back rooms with a kitchen area and real bathroom with a shower. It was, naturally more rent,but I took a gamble with business seemingly improving. Small labels were putting out records that were selling like crazy. For awhile, we were selling a box of 50 Circle Jerks albums a week , with Adolescents debut LP, Black Flags "Jealous Again" 12 " EP, Angry Samoans "Inside My Brain" 12" and Rodney on the Roq compilations were hot on their heels flying out the door. As punk rock was getting more and more accessible to the masses thanks in part to more radio exposure, the release of Decline of Western Civilization in the theaters and fanzines like Flipside.There was no Internet, it was word of mouth and flyers picked up at shows and record shops like ours, Zed's in Long Beach and Poobah in Pasadena. Ron Athey helped persuade me that the move was a good idea when he said he would pitch in by renting out one of the rooms with the help of Rozz, as well as help take care of customers. So we walked our stuff over in boxes down the sidewalk and into our new digs.
I recall when Rozz and Ron invited all their creepy little friends from Hollywood over for a party at the store and how alienated I felt by their presence as the night dragged on. The building filled with strange faces and amplifying chatter and cackles of laughter. I spent most of the night on the roof waiting for daylight to arrive. It probably didn't help matters that I was high on LSD at the time.
Other drugs and decadence would regularly occupy Ron and Rozz' room, as they often had their personal plaything, a kid from Ontario, hanging from a rope while they took turns whipping him between heating their spoons with candles. The smell of melting wax was omnipresent. I myself, had a pretty low opinion of heroin, as I considered it, along with speed, a death drug. One day at our kitchen table, while he was working on the artwork for "Theatre of Pain", Rozz was admiring an album cover (T.S.O.L.'s "Dance with Me") he had gotten from Frontier. He told me he liked the artwork better than the music. For me, it was the exact opposite.
Living with the 2 R's got weirder still, when Ron found a dead cat hit by a car and stored it in our freezer, because he wanted to use it for an upcoming "performance art" thing he was planning with Rozz at Arts Building. I had seen Christian Death's debut show in Ontario the previous December, where the big "sensation" was Rozz appearing onstage in a white wedding dress. Other than George's powerhouse drumming, the band seemed lackluster. I was underwhelmed at best on that night, and skipped their show supporting 45 Grave at Art's Bldg in January,but I was a little curious as to what would transpire at this other "Premature Ejaculation" event. Can't say I was glad I went, because by the time they pulled the defrosted cat out of the bag and Ron proceeded to tear the carcass apart with his hands and teeth, the smell in the room was disgusting, and I for one failed to see what the artistic statement was in this exhibition of depravity. I also remembered how gleefully Ron relayed a story to me when he bragged that he got the local coke dealer (the singer in the band Bondage) so high, that he was able to flip him over and rape him in the ass without him being aware of what was going on. I was beginning to realize I really didn't want these two as roommates any longer. Especially as a few months had gone by and the promised help with rent had failed to materialize. I also started noticing our store inventory was shrinking and money wasn't being accounted for the sales made whenever I wasn't behind the counter.
By this time, Julianna had also moved in and was trying to help me keep our mail-order business organized and afloat as our walk-in traffic was dwindling, In spite of our efforts, we were falling behind on rent payments and utility bills. My generosity was quickly turning to animosity, fueled by finding a huge chunk of my personal record collection in Rozz and Ron's room, when they were out scoring drugs. We decided something had to be done and quickly, so after being left empty handed once again when we asked for help on our delinquent rent, the next time the pair went out gallivanting, we took all their belongings out of their room and put them outside the rear entrance and locked the door. A few days went by peacefully enough, until a loud, crashing sound awoke us one late morning. Our neighbors were able to I.D. both Rozz and gal pal Mary jumping out of their car and smashing our storefront windows before they jumped back in and dashed away. We had no money to repair the glass, so we boarded it up and went back to trying to regain our customers that we lost over the previous months and doing our best to keep our utilities from being shut off. With a few phone calls, we organized a benefit show Oct 22 1981 at a club out in Riverside. Eddie and the Subtitles, the Abandoned, Social Distortion, Manson Youth and Red Brigade played to help raise money to keep Toxic Shock from closing down.
We had also started a band, with myself on vocals, Julianna on guitar, our friend Scott on bass and we borrowed the drummer of Manson Youth. We had worked out a short set of songs that included a couple Flesheaters cover songs and some original material, including "Horror Snores" and came up with a band name, Moslem Birth. With white pancake make-up, black wigs, eyeliner, plastic jack-o-lanterns and a couple styrofoam tombstones, we were soon ready to play our debut show at Art's Building! The few people who showed up were treated to a messy set of seethingly sarcastic "goth/punk". It would be our one and only live performance. A couple years later, "Horror Snores" would be resurrected on vinyl.
Before too long, with our phone disconnected, our electricity shut off and no inventory left to attract any customers, we were finally forced to close down Toxic Shock. We spent the next year running the mail-order business out of a spare bedroom and working at the local smoke shop. The owners decided they wanted to sell off their shop and since we easily could make weekly payments until it was paid off, we were soon owners of a truly profitable business. There were some legal hassles though, with undercover cops always trying to bust us for selling drug paraphernalia. They finally succeeded, but not before we were able to set aside enough money to re-open Toxic Shock Records in a new location, in the "Antique Mall" in downtown Pomona. Thanks to the money made serving the needs of thousands of potheads and coke fiends, this time our inventory at the record store was much expanded. Inspired by the work ethic and tenacity of the people behind SST and Subterranean, this time I knew it was going to work. My dealings with all the indie labels of the time had grown immensely and not only was our international mail-order business booming, but we also became a full fledged wholesale distributor ourselves, selling to other record shops around the country! One of the few records we refused to stock was "Theatre of Pain". We simply ignored Christian Death and had no interest in promoting any Rozz related project.
We were itching however to start our own record label, which we also called Toxic Shock and for our first release we put together a 7" EP, titled "Noise from Nowhere", a compilation featuring 4 area bands, Kent State, Modern Industry, Manson Youth and Moslem Birth. I always liked the 4 bands on one 7" record concept that Subterreanean had done with the SF Underground series. Although Moslem Birth wasn't an active band, it did quickly morph into Peace Corpse, but not before documenting "Horror Snores" in the studio. This time Julianna played guitar, I "sang" and Tracy Garcia (of East L.A. pre-Goth band Thee Undertakers played the drums, his girlfriend Angie on bass. "Noise from Nowhere" was graced by the infamous "exploding penis" artwork provided by my pen pal, Brian "Pushead" Schroeder from Boise, who would later also design the sleeve for the Peace Corpse "Quincy" 7" EP.
Looking back, I wouldn't say I was all that impressed with the early L.A. goth scene. Outside of 45 Grave, who were far more entertaining because they at least were campy and had a sense of humor, most of these bands seem contrived outside of a Halloween night costume party. Far more interesting bands with a goth edge would surface later in Arizona with Mighty Sphincter and in San Francisco with the Toiling Midgets, not to overlook Scratch Acid in Austin. But, just like the "bat-cave" movement in the U.K., goth/punk in LA came off as just plain silly. Some people like Roz and Patrick Mata of Kommunity Fk couldn't turn their Bowie damaged art into a pot o' gold where the likes of a Perry Ferrell of Psi-Com/Janes's Addiction and Valor Kand of Christian Death (phase two) certainly could. Seeing the tiny insular "Goth" scene evolve over the decades to become this huge fashion and music industry never fails to amaze me, as evidenced by the glut of goth drek as cranked out by the likes of Projekt.
When I think of all the legal troubles and frustration Rozz had to contend with over the years regarding the rights to the name of Christian Death and to see other people making money off his creation, I could only think to myself, "couldn't happen to a nicer guy".
Moving on with the record label, also called Toxic Shock became our priority.
Although it wasn't until 1987 when the "Vicious Circle" LP was reissued by Toxic Shock, the ZERO BOYS serves as proof that trailblazing American punk wasn't exclusive to the big cities on the east and west coasts.Hailing from Indianapolis, the ZERO BOYS with their melodic hooks and sheer energy were recognized by Maximum Rock'n'Roll among others as one of the most important bands to emerge from the hardcore punk explosion happening in the early '80's. Their singer, Paul Mahern was to become quite influential to the label over the years, as was an artist in Boise who called himself Pushead also contributed a great deal to the early years of Toxic Shock with his creative support and grisly artwork which graced the sleeve of our very first release, Noise from Nowhere, a 7" compilation of 4 Pomona-area bands.Brian Schroeder's band SEPTIC DEATH came from Boise, Idaho and are captured in their vinyl debut with a live track on the Barricaded Suspects compilation LP. Pushead also designed the album cover, along with the PEACE CORPSE EP and the early Toxic Shock logo. The DULL were an atypical southern California punk band with their musical minimalism and the Nietzsche philosophy of their singer, Sirdar Dizaye who is a descendant of Kurdish rebels. The DULL were an incredible live band and later spent no less than 100 hours with producer Geza X , recording their "She's a Nuclear Bomb" single.
What can I say about my own band PEACE CORPSE? We had fun poking fun at the absurdities of the time including the media's stereotypes of punk culture. Our early history is documented with our 6 song "Quincy" 7"EP. The later Peace Corpse years are somewhat embarrassing when we began to take ourselves too seriously (the "Terror of History" 12") but the Neil Young cover from the ill -fated Budget Ranch box set (delayed for at least a year with only 350 made of the intended 1000) is worth looking for.
DECRY were another band from L.A.'s suburbs brought to my attention by an enigmatic character named "O" who some of you will recognize as the guitarist for Olivelawn and Fluf. In 1984, DECRY's album "Falling" was hailed by Flipside magazine as a hardcore classic. Unfortunately, they later regressed into a glam rock outfit, but in their prime they were incendiary.
RED TIDE were a Canadian trio from Victoria B.C. Toxic Shock released their "Kelp and Salal" 7" EP. Red Tide's drummer, Ken Jensen is later spent time pounding the skins for another Canadian trio, D.O.A. before tragically he was killed in a fire at his basement home.
MASSACRE GUYS emerged fro the Mormon stronghold of Salt Lake City and the "Behind the 8 Ball" 7" EP from 1984 was another early Toxic Shock 7". Karl Alvarez and Steve O'Reilly later moved to L.A. to join the Descendents which shortly evolved into the band ALL.
I first saw Italy's RAW POWER at the Olympic Auditorium during a international punk festival headlined by the Dead Kennedys, during the Olympics held in L.A. in 1984. Suffice to say I was totally blown away! I later found out that they had recorded an LP at Paul Mahern's Hit City Midwest studio while on their first U.S. tour. After "Screams from the Gutter" was released they returned to the states for another 3 tours playing more cities in the U.S. and Canada than most American bands at the time. Their second LP "After Your Brain" came out in 1986. They continued releasing albums for other labels and survive to this day with tours throughout Europe and the USA.
No anthology of the Toxic Shock years would be complete without the ZIMBO CHIMPS, another release on our subsidiary label, Budget Ranch. Featuring ex-members of Peace Corpse and Savage Republic. Although the band played only one disastrous live show, they almost changed forever the face of music as we know it. I guess you had to be there.
th'INBRED came highly recommended to me by Jello Biafra and when the band sent a demo tape my way, I was hooked. A band from West Virginia, they dared to fuse progressive rock with hardcore and took a cynical stab at the then just emerging straight-edge movement with "the Positive Song" on their debut "A Family Affair". By the time the posthumous LP "Kissin Cousins" was released it was clear that they , like myself, had become disillusioned with the limitations of the hardcore punk genre. Their drummer and songwriter, Billy Atwell later went on to release a solo LP "Ferret in a China Shop" on another Toxic Shock subsidiary, bobok ltd.
I first caught wind of Austin, Texas legends the HICKOIDS when Toxic Shock obtained some copies of "We're in it for the Corn" LP on Matako Mazuri. They were undisputed masters of beer-fueled country-punk mayhem long before the Hollywood imitation cow-punk scene began. I met the band when I was in New Orleans in1986 during our ill-fated Toxic Shock expansion into the French Quarter and agreed to reissue their then out of print "Corn" LP and subsequently the "Hard Corn" EP. After bringing their brand of lunacy on the road they converted befuddled masses to their music. "Animal Husbandry" showcases the talents of guitarist Jukebox. After his departure, the band regrouped in 1988 with the "Waltz Across-Dress Texas" LP. The anthem to their lifestyle, "Brand new Way" comes from that LP.
I used to hear "Systematic Shutdown" on a Pomona-area college station KSPC and couldn't get it out of my mind. I finally tracked down JESUS CHRYSLER in Oak Ridge, Tennessee (the birthplace of the A-Bomb) and asked if they wanted to record an LP. After Toxic Shock made the move to Tucson in 1988, the album "This Years Savior", loaded with their infectious songwriting, was released and the band did quite a bit of touring, some with the Hickoids before breaking up.
Billy Atwell used to rave about this Seattle band called SKIN YARD. Their self-titled LP didn't exactly bowl me over, but when they sent a demo tape, I was impressed enough to release the "Stranger" single and it's follow-up full-length "Hallowed Ground" at a time (pre-grunge) when the "Seattle sound" had yet to become household words. Skin Yard's guitarist, Jack Endino had recorded just about every band that the burgeoning Sub Pop label was signing at his Reciprocal Studio and between sessions had himself amassed a batch of home recordings. Those songs were more distinctive to me than the next Skin Yard LP to be subsequently released by Cruz and I opted to release his solo "Angle of Attack" LP on bobok.
Another demo tape that arrived at my P.O. Box in 1988 immediately caught our attention. The band was HOUSE OF LARGE SIZES, a power trio from Cedar Falls, Iowa and they had a powerful and engaging sound that was irresistible. Their debut album"One Big Cake" was on Toxic Shock. One of the hardest touring bands on the label since Raw Power, their follow-up "Heat Miser" came out in 1990 and The H.O.L.S. are the first Toxic Shock band to actually make it to the major leagues with their "My Ass Kickin Life" LP on Columbia in '94. We couldn't be prouder if we had given birth to a two-headed calf. These days, Today, Dave and Barb run a cool shop in Cedar Falls called "Mohair Pear".
Another Indianapolis band, SLOPPY SECONDS managed to blend '70's pop/junk culture with catchy songs that should have brought punk rock to the Top 40 in a perfect world. Their Mahern-produced Toxic Shock LP, "Destroyed" that has since been reissued on Metal Blade Records and a few others, while the band put out later albums on Taang! with a 1998 release on Nitro Records.
Paul Mahern emerged once again in 1989 with his new band the DATURA SEEDS who demonstrated a sharp pop sensibility. Unfortunately the stigma of Toxic Shock's hardcore reputation probably prevented many from discovering a great band. "S&P'69" comes from their now out of print "Who Do You Want it To Be" LP, one of our releases that never made it to the CD format, along with Jesus Chrysler.
Julianna Towns merged her personal vision with an otherworldly cabaret sound to create SKINNERBOX. Over the course of 3 years she recorded three LPs for bobok. Her second album "The Playhouse" and should serve as a good introduction to her work.
Yet another unsolicited demo tape was to catch me off-guard. The fact that the band hailed from the tame college-rock capital of Boston was a surprise. HULLABALOO's gritty, blustering and unrestrained approach to music seemed vitally needed and I set my sights on convincing the world of their importance. "Beat Until Stiff" is the title track from the first of 2-LPs recorded for Toxic Shock.
"Guilt Regret Embarrassment" was an appropriate title for TREEPEOPLE's Toxic Shock release and summarized the relationship between the band and the label. I was guilty in delaying its release due to financial constraints, the band may have regretted signing the recording contract with us, and Daniel House is probably embarrassed to admit we showed an interest in the band long before he did. Regardless, "G.R.E." stands the test of time as the band's best albums.
It seemed appropriate to round out or 1994 sampler "Decade of Disaster" with one of Tucson's best punk bands. FEAST UPON CACTUS THORNS were featured on the very last edition (#10) of Noise from Nowhere, a 7" compilation series which started the whole mess and which was revived in '89 after a six year hiatus. F.U.C.T.'s guitarist, John Husok continues the legacy in a sense by playing the same Fender Mustang from the Peace Corpse days.
This brings Toxic Shock, the label full circle back to it's origins as a regional label. Noise from Nowhere #10 is the last release to bear the Toxic Shock label imprint. After ten years, I came to the realization that it was time for a change. The name Toxic Shock had become associated in most people's minds are a hardcore label due to the success of our early releases, but no longer seemed appropiate in 1993. Besides, the name was overused by bad speed metal bands and others. To me, it was becoming hackneyed and outdated. With a new focus in local bands, we decided to change the labels moniker to Westworld.
The days of running a record label were to end in 1994, with the exception of Raw Power's "Reptile House" CD in 1998.
Meanwhile, we concentrated our eforts on running the retail shop. The record stores' name changed with our move to Tucson to Toxic Ranch, maintaining some of our history, but with a regional twist. We hope you've enjoyed this trek down our memory lane and hope we can continue exposing great music to more ears via our shop Toxic Ranch in downtown Tucson.
Thanks for paying attention! Bill Sassenberger
WESTWORLD/TOXIC SHOCK DISCOGRAPHY
bobok-3 ATWELL, Billy "Ferret In a China Shop" solo from th'INBRED drummer and songwiter. Complex and progressive rock. LP only
TXLP-16 DATURA SEEDS "Who Do You Want it to be?" Indianapolis hard-pop circa 1989 w.ex-ZERO BOY Paul Mahern. LP/cass
TOX-17 DATURA SEEDS "S&P '69/D.A. Pop" MTV rejected the video for the A-side, naturally. Comes with non-LP B-side 7"45
BRR-1 the DULL, "She's A Nuclear Bomb" Geza X produced minimalist punk from So Calif 1985 on Budget Ranch Records. 7"45
bobok-4 ENDINO, Jack "Angle of Attack" Reknowned Sub Pop studio wizard (who produced Nirvana "Bleach" among several others),and SKIN YARD guitarist. Strange experimental rock influenced by the Groundhogs. CD includes 2 bonus songs LP/cass/CD
PS-3 FEAST UPON CACTUS THORNS "Beer Soaked/Third Fued" Tucson hardcore captured live in the studio for Peyote Stomp #3 radio session. B-side has a deconstructed Hendrix cover. wild! 7" 45
WW-12 FEAST UPON CACTUS THORNS s/t (untitled) Tucson's "precision" hardcore punks. Incredible musicianship with nods to Poison Idea, NoMeansNo and the Ventures.Sadly, long overlooked although a favorite Arizona band with sun-baked punk fanatics. Toured with Raw Power in '94 CD only
WW-8 the FELLS "Amped" 11 song Tucson fuzz/punk/garage debut. Now signed to Estrus Records, but this release captures their less regimented lo-fi swagger. Fans of their Estrus release and various 7"s should definately check out the Fells in their prime. CD only
WW-6 FUZZ "Mass Indentity/Demigod" Tucson hardcore which should appeal to Quicksand/Helmet/Fugazi fans. Demigod was a huge hit in Tucson circa '93. 7"45
TXC-12 HICKOIDS "We're In It For the Corn" The first release from these crazy Austin Texas cow-punks. Features the legendary Jukebox on guitar. Proof that country/punk fusion doesnt have to be cheesy but it sure is a hell of a lot of fun. LP/cass
TXC-19 HICKOIDS "Waltz-a-Cross-Dress-Texas" Totally insane! Features the songs "Queen of the BBQ", "Brand New Way" and "Toothpick Man" Unfortunately this was to be these crazy Texas Hillbillys last release. a classic from 1989 LP/cass
WW-4 HICKOIDS "Hickoid Heaven" Almost complete (except for their out-of-print X-mas single) anthology of coolest cow-punk band ever. Includes the "Corn" and "Waltz" LPs along with the "Hard Corn" EP. 28 songs in all. CD only (look for auctions on E-Bay)
BRR-3 HICKOIDS "Hard Corn" blue-corn wax, on Budget Ranch Records feature the truckstop anthem "Driftwood 40-23". The last 4 songs to feature guitarist Jukebox. 7" EP
TXLP-21 HOUSE OF LARGE SIZES " Heat Miser" 2nd album from this great Iowa power-trio. Features "Big Bag of Dope" LP/cass
TXC-16 HOUSE OF LARGE SIZES "One Big Cake" Giant Power Rock debut from Iowa. Succinct dada approach to contemporary power trio dynamics. LP/cass
WW-1 HOUSE OF LARGE SIZES "I'm My Own Grandpa/2 Liter Man" pioneer from SST Joe Carducci produced this killer single. 5 songs on the CDEP version. Mandatory for any fan of true rock! 7" 45/CD5
TXLP-18 HULLABALOO "Beat Until Stiff" Hailing from the tame college rock town of Boston this debut "rolls like a big old tank truck fulla beer and piss taking a fast turn on the Alice Cooper Memorial Turnpike" Spin. The cassette has an exclusive bonus of AC/DC's "Whole Lotta Rosie". LP/cass
TXLP-22 HULLABALOO "Dead Serious" If you think nudity shouldn't be outlawed, you may reconsider after seeing the cover of this album on German imported vinyl, scary stuff 12" EP/cass
TXCD-22/18 HULLABALOO "Dead Serious" CD combines "Beat Until Stiff" and "Dead Serious" for a seriously brain-damaged ride through the minds and body fluids of one twisted rock band. Incudes a cover of Deep Purple's "Highway Star" CD only
TXC-13/7 INBRED (th'INBRED) "Family Pack" Both LPs "A Family Affair" and "Kissin Cousins" on one handy cassette! Mutant WV jazzcore dudes. "Cross Capitol Punishment with Victims Family, Beefeater and Crucifucks and you'll see what this now defunct band was up to. Jazzy,snazzy, stop-on-a-dime delivery with matching intelligence" said MaximumRocknRoll's Tim Yohannon Cassette Only
TXLP-13 INBRED (th'INBRED) "Kissin Cousins" Paul Mahern of Zero Boys produced this their last effort. Thought to be out of print, but we found a box in our loft recently! Solid musicianship, lyrics with brains and cool sleeve artwork. What more could you ask for? LP
bobok-3 INSULIN REACTION "Whats the Point?" gothic LA duo, for fans of the Cure. Features two ex-Peace Corpse members. LP only
TXLP-14 JESUS CHRYSLER "This Year's Saviour" Hardcore-pop hailing from the home of the A-bomb, Oak Ridge Tennessee. Clever, sarcastic lyrics, crafty songwriting. No wonder they were a hit with BBC's John Peel. LP/cass
WW-5 JODIE COSMO/BLACK SAND OF LOVE "Staying Power/Real Cool Time" Black Sun Ensemble's Jesus Acedo is Tucson's answer to Daniel Johnston or Wesley Willis, except his can actually play a mean acid-drenched guitar. Stooges cover on B-side! 7"45
TOX-7 MAD PARADE "Right is Right +2" SoCal pop/punk from the 80's. only a few remain of this Paul Mahern produced record. Includes a cover of "Paint it Black". 7" EP (see auctions on E-Bay)
TOX-2 MODERN INDUSTRY "Man in Black" very early Toxic Shock EP, (the second release ever) CAL punk with Damned influences. Very few left! 7" EP
WW-9 MONDO GUANO "Deadwood/Theme from Return to the Fatherland" Weird Tucson absurdist-rock. Think Pussy Galore, Royal Trux. Features Bob Log before his started the spin-off duo, DOO RAG! 7" 45
WW-3 RAW POWER "Screams from Gutter After Your Brain" Coming back in print July '98. Italian classic Hardcore/thrash/crossover legends. Combines their first 2 (and undoubtable best) LPs on one compact disc! CD
WW-13 RHYTHM PIGS "El Paso" West Texas legends who toured US/Europe exhaustively in the '80's and opened the doors in the process to American bands access to German beer! They released two classic LPs on the fledgling Mordam label in the mid '80's. This, their fourth album is a must-have for early Meat Puppets fans. CD only
TXCD-15 SKIN YARD "Hallowed Ground" Seattle psycho-rock from 1989. fans of Soundgarden should check this powerful band out. (different) bonus cuts on each format cass/CD
T0X-9 SKIN YARD "Stranger/Lonely Place" great 1988 Toxic Shock debut single by Seattle Rock Gods! 7" 45
bobok-4 SKINNER box "the Playhouse" Orchestral, flamboyent, dreamy and nightmarish from sometime Black Tape for a Blue Girl member Julianna Towns. Think Coil with female vocals. LP/cass/CD
bobok-5 SKINNER box "the Imaginary Heart of" More ethereo-camp, not for the squeamish. Limited purple wax on vinyl edition. LP/cass
bobok-1 SKINNERBOX s/t delirious debut from 1986 with Julianna Towns (ex-Peace Corpse) and Mark Erskine of SAVAGE REPUBLIC on some vocals LP/cassette
TXC-23 TREEPEOPLE "Guilt Regret Embarassment" Seattle via Boise hardcore/rock legends captured in their pre- C/Z prime. LP/CD/cass
WW-10 Various Artists V/A DECADE OF DISASTER "the Toxic Shock Years '83-93" anthology of ten years! 26 songs in 74 minutes. A good sampling of the labels with tracks by Decry, Peace Corpse, Red Tide, Massacre Guys, Sloppy Seconds, Raw Power and more! CD only
TOX-22 v/a "Noise from Nowhere #10 "The Last Roundup" Tucson punk/hardcore 1993 compilation and the very last Toxic Shock release. Earl's Family Bombers, ZeroToleranceTaskForce, FeastUponCactusThorns, and Opinion Zero. 7"EP
TOX-12 v/a "Noise from Nowhere #3" Cattle/What Went Wrong Tucson split headache with Al Perry's cowpunk band and the neurotic What Went Wrong. 7"EP
TOX-16 v/a "Noise from Nowhere #5 Green Magnet School/God's Acre" Boston's GMS (check out their Sub Pop LP) meets Chicago's Mudhoney influenced God's Acre, who's LP on Wax Trax is the sole non-techno release on that label.. Very reminescent of 1990. 7"EP
TOX-18 v/a "Noise from Nowhere #6" Treepeople/House of Large Sizes Seattle quartet meets Iowa trio. 7"EP (see auctions on E-Bay)
TOX-19 v/a "Noise from Nowhere #7" Bhang Revival/Hullabaloo hard rockin' gals from Chicago meet those insane guys from Boston in a fight to the finish 7"EP
TOX-20 v/a "Noise from Nowhere #8" Rancid Hell Spawn/the Fells London's one-man nightmare-pop meets Tucson's garage/surf/fuzz lo-fi kingpins. 7"EP
TOX-21 v/a Noise from Nowhere #9 Mondo Guano/Slo Deluxe 2 of Tucson's oddest noise purveyors. Mondo Guano captured live at Toxic Ranch while Slo-Deluxe reinterpret a Hank Williams song with a heavy handed SWANS approach. 7"EP
WW-2 v/a "Yeah, But It's a Dry Heat" a thick slice of Tucson AZ punk/experimental music scene circa 1993. Fells,FUCT,Al Perry,Earl's Family Bombers, Bloodspasm, Mondo Guano,Fuzz, Skinnerbox and many more. What do we got? We've got cactus! LP/CD
WW-2 JR v/a "Yeah, But It's a Dry Heat (jr.)" Back in print for DOO RAG completists who missed out purchasing the CD. with DOO RAG's "Hog Tied", plus HeadCheese, Skolliwoll, and Barely BiPedal 7" EP
TXC-11 ZERO BOYS "Vicious Circle" classic speed/punk from 80's Indianapolis. As Tim Yohannon of MRR said "Originally released in '82, the singing and playing still outdoes most anything that's happened since"
BRR-1 ZIMBO CHIMPS "In A Cave/Inca Vacation" fun tribal rap and travelogue with Mark Erskine of Savage Republic and ex-members of Peace Corpse. 7" 45
WW-7 DOO RAG "Hussy Bowler/Grease and All" Stripped down Tucson blues duo. Bob Log's band after Mondo Guano and prior to his solo career. 7" 45
WW-8 RAW POWER "Reptile House/Live DVD" their 1998 album plus a 2 hour documentary DVD with rare live footage from 1982 to 2000!
Gimme Indie Rock Given the boot at KXCI
Monday morning July 9th, I was advised by the new General Manager of KXCI, Tony Ford, that he was making some adjustments to the programming schedule and that the spot I fill would be replaced. I asked where he was planning to move my show and was told there weren't any other open slots during the week, hence the Gimme Indie Rock show would simply cease to exist. I just celebrated the 8th anniversary this month and now it's conveniently been eradicated in one day. I found out I wasn't the only casualty to Tony's programming surgery, but that's little consolation to me. Looks like in his attempt to improve the stations Arbitron ratings, several shows were dropped and he rambled on to the effect about "wanting to try a new concept by putting a Women's program up against Monday Night Football to see what happens" and to follow this with another reggae show (in addition to the 5 hour reggae show that already followed my hour!). He then told me he wanted to be courteous enough to make sure I had one last show and he invited me to check back with him in the future if I had any ideas. It always seemed to me that KXCI has had a barely hidden distain for underground rock n roll for years and by this new move I think it's confirmed. I've seen Gimme Indie Rock cut from 3 hours to only one (we brought the syndicated Maximum RocknRoll show before they called it quits).I'd like to thank all the listeners who tuned in, plus the independent labels who supplied the show with great music and the various people who've co-hosted the show with me over the years, especially Jim Waters and Ken Kastenhuber. Despite various political aspects at the station, it's been a fun 8 years.If you'd like to congratulate Tony Ford on his programming decisions or send him your opinions , he can be reached during business hours at (520) 623-1000 extension 11. Or you can e-mail him at kxcigm@a...GIMME INDIE ROCK "Last Show" July 10th(outside the station I was greeted upon arrival by several people who were holding a wake for "The Ragged Edge" when I arrived, with candles and all! I was also greated at the door by my new friend Tony Ford who stayed hovering around the booth the whole hour , warning me not to get on a soapbox with threats of "technical difficulties" if I did)
the Last radio show:
PEDESTRIANS "12XU" and "Windy City" An Evening at Pearls Hurricane
CREEPS ON CANDY " Trial/Arena" Wonder of Giardia
LOCUST (2 songs off their Flight of the Locust 7" EP)
HIVES "Hate To Say I Told You So"
HIM "Rock Against Ass" (at this point Tony interrupted the show with muzak and got in my face about playing the F -word, you shoulda been there) from the Turbonegro trubute, Alpha Moherfuckers
HEROINE SHEIKS "Okkk?" Rape on the Installment Plan
WHITE STRIPES "aluminum" White Blood Cells
WEIRD LOVE MAKERS "Getting Meaner" Back 40
EASY ACTION "What's the Deal?"
BUSINESS "You Wont Change Me"
PROPAGANDHI "Natural Disaster"
HOT WATER MUSIC "A Flight and a Crash"
DEAD MOON " The Way it Is"
PLEASURE FOREVER " You and I were Meant to Drown"
KLEENEX " Die Matrosen"
SOFT BOYS "Tonight"
WHITE STRIPES "I Think I Smell a Rat"
Thanks for listening!
the Jolly Rancher