Rancid Vat Discography

 

The Philly years: 1994-2002.

 
Thee final word (by THEE WHISKEY REBEL). Thankyou Marla, for your version of our band's history. May I help sum up??(sure, go ahead You and I know the Rancid Vat "attitude" hasn't really changed an iota since day one...Cosmo plays a Theramin onstage today...18 years ago we used a Sound Gizmo. Other than that, its just G+B+D. Cosmo and Perfect are great bandmates who watch our backs. They don't realize though like Marla and I do how similar our band is today to back in 1981..they are both great hater's, but the HATE has always been there.

Today Cosmo heckles audiences that are jaded and think they've seen it all. ..Steve used to heckle audiences that thought we were from Mars!! We were more shocking back in 1981..today people are shocked to see a band that doesn't suck up to labels and scene kingpins. Playing punk rock used to be a way to get your ass kicked...nowdays its 98% nostalgia..and a viable career option. We were sloppier back in the early days and unfairly received an "art-fag" stigma that is totally unfounded...we were cave poeple..not artists trying to sound primitive..As one reviewer said..we were "torture artists, not tortured artists"..AMEN.

We use more wrestling schtick these days with me swinging a Kendo stick and breaking stuff. But basically we have watched trends change and an entire generation of bands come and go while playing the same garagey racket with brutally honest, antisocial lyrics. We like to think of ourselves today as a band you can turn to when you've given up on all other bands...we understand. We've given up on them all too with few exceptions. 1998

Part II: The Traitors are everywhere ('85 to '98)
By Marla Vee

Phil and I have written 100% of the music over the years.. which is why even though we change band members, there is a common thread. Moving for us is a way to get a new look at things by meeting new talented people with the same likes and dislikes. We don't move to get away from the worthless leeches that hang around. But once we are away from them we are glad.

Living in a small city, like Portland had it's limitations, the main problem was that people would rather talk about doing things than do them. Our singer Steve Wilson talked and talked for years about getting the hell out of Portland. We'd want to work on new songs, he'd be more intent upon gossiping, which was very distracting.Seattle's rents were a lot higher than we were paying in Portland, we had to settle for Everett, 30 miles north. The only cool thing was the address: "Flintstone Terrace" on "Bedrock Drive".

With an album and an ep's worth of material ready to be released, we started right away on putting out the ep. Phil's new boss, a swingin' kinda guy always wanted to be involved in the music biz, so he offered to put up a chunk of the money to get the 7" pressed. We paid him back with interest in six months.We were still in touch with Greg Sage who had produced the material. Being the big wrestling fan that he was, he really supported the idea of a wrestling tribute. Phil came up with the "RuleBreakers Rule" title and had a stack of wrestling magazines to glean photos from. Once he had chosen the pix he wanted. I did the layout, using Whiteout to write the lettering on the front. (I did it right on the cut out picture, luckily it came out the way I wanted because there was no second chance).

I had always played in other bands at the same time as Rancid Vat, mainly because I missed playing guitar. I played bass because we couldn't find anyone else to.Shortly after arriving in Seattle, I placed an ad in the Rocket a free music zine. (At that time there was not even a half a page of people looking for bands, by the end of the 80's, during the  Nirvana craze, there were several pages.)

I stated in my ad that I was a female guitar player, not to exploit the fact, (at that time it was not hip to have chics in your band) but as a warning. Needless to say I got a shit load of wacky calls.One guy called, waking me up at 8:30 am. I got right to the point and and asked him what kind of music he was into, and he responds in a cheery voice: "I'm into goodtimes music, like "Huey Lewis and the News"... that was all I needed to hear... my response to him was: "I'm into to badtimes music !" and hung up.

After screening countless losers, creeps and people that didn't even know what punk rock was, I finally got a call from Liz. She was 19 into the Runaways, and had just gotten into punk. After a few conversations we decided to meet at her house for a jam session with her friend, Jennifer, who had just started playing drums.

After meeting Liz in person, I guessed she was a lesbian, she had only posters of girl rockers on her bedroom wall. She could have won first place in a Joan Jett look a like contest. Her personality was like the Doberman dog she owned...very hyper.We set up in a family room to play, she lived with her mom in the country, so we didn't have to worry about disturbing the neighbors. It didn't take long to figure out that the drummer was years away from being good enough to play in a band. Liz on the other hand had a great bass style. Very solid rhythm and not too many notes.

I invited Liz over to our house to meet Phil. She was a fun person to hang out with. We didn't know anyone at all. (I had my entire family there, but wasn't very close to them. I had no friends from when I grew up). Phil treated her like a guy... they got along great. She even babysat Elvis for us. Like other members of Rancid Vat we treated her like a member of the family. (..Manson family???)

We decided to ask Liz to play bass for Rancid Vat. She was up for it. She had never been in a band that made it out of the basement. Let alone one that had records out. We needed another member because Phil and Larsen had a spat at work and he was out of the band.

May of '85: RuleBreakers was released. We sent out promo copies as usual and even sent one to the hip Seattle AM radio station KJET. One of the DJ's put it on his top ten list. Shortly after that the radio station shut down...the Rancid Vat curse strikes again.The mailbag was full of letters from people, that today run record labels or appear with their bands on MTV, who were writing to us from their high school bedrooms.

August  '85 we played the first of two shows with Liz, in Portland. Pat was still in the band and living in Portland, she had talked about coming up with Steve to Everett to practice. Steve made it up once, she never did. So we had one practice the afternoon before we played. For the first time in the band's history we were three-fiths female.

The last time we played, with this line-up was December 26, 1985, again in Portland with the Mentors.They were fucked up as usual, especially El Duce. and went on late, Phil likes to gloat how we blew them off the stage. I was the designated driver, sober and tired I was hallucinating most of the way, it was pure luck we made it back home in one piece.People ask us all the time about playing Seattle back then, we never did, the club scene wasn't very good for a band like ours..we didn't play "fast enough" to please most hardcore fans.

Phil had been promoted to manager and it had him working between 60-70 hours a week. No time for practice. We were working out the idea for sleeve art. Greg and Brad had wanted the album title to be "Rock n Roll Party Patrol" and to use an image based on that. I liked that idea too. Phil and Steve had other notions.Being the World War II buff that he was. Phil came up with "Burger Belsen" (a spoof on Bergen Belsen, the Nazi death camp). We had been writing for a while to Dennis Worden, he had sent us some comics he did. We liked his work, and asked him to draw the cover to "Burger Belsen". We knew it was right when we saw the rough draft. When Pat,Greg, and Brad heard about the cover, they stopped talking to us.

Brad admitted later that they thought we turned the whole project into a joke.Thanks to that cover we were branded "Fascists". We also got a lot of recognition from it. Some record stores wouldn't carry it because of the sleeve. You know you got something good when that happens!The funny thing is the drawing was a look into the future. The theme fusing "McDonald's" with a Nazi death camp, was absolutely horrifying to so many people(Dennis says he drew it as a stab at meat eaters)...but guess what just opened across the street(Summer of '97) from a popular tourist attraction/Nazi concentration camp... McDonalds!!

We lasted one year in the boredom of Suburbia. March of '86 we moved into the city limits of Seattle, near the yuppified Greenlake district. We were both making good money, so we could afford the move.About that time. Phil found out he was eligible to be transferred to anywhere in the west, at the company's expense. He put in a request for LA. Shortly after we unpacked, Phil was offered an office there.. He was glad to get the hell out of Seattle, I had mixed feelings at first, but by the end of a wet and cold spring(it rained for a solid month, 40 degrees in May...) I was ready to go.

We found a small bungalow in North Hollywood, within blocks of Burbank and Studio City. Limousines, movie stars...Our friends in Smegma came down to visit family in South Pasadena. Through them we met several members of the "LA Free Music Society" (LAFMS), one being Ace Farron Ford, the singer from the Child Molesters. We had a low volume jam session in the living room in his duplex, Elvis was 2 years old, but we gave him some kind of drum to play along on, so this was his first jam session. Ace had heard our records and was anxious to play bass with us, and had no problem with Wilson as the singer, he also knew of a drummer.

July '86: Phil's job gave us the money to put out "Burger Belsen". We Pressed a 1000, and sold most of them to Dutch East Indie. RuleBreakers Rule and Profiles in Pain had paved the way. The golden era of hardcore was winding down and lots of bands were writing sick humor songs, medium tempo like we had been doing for years already.Sometimes its more important instead of rehearsing or playing live shows, to go out and get a job just so you can put out your own fucking record!

We found out about some kid in Pomona(a college town east of LA that had a great radio station, they played several songs off Burger Belsen on a regular basis) who built a Rancid Vat shrine. Phil invited him over for a beer. He just sat in the chair in a daze, he had about two sips out of a Foster's. We thankfully never heard from him again.We got a letter from Chuck Eddy asking permission to quote the lyrics to "It might be nice" in his book (Stairway to Helll: Top 500 Heavy Metal Albums of all time), we of course said yes.

Ace and Anne were the best rhythm section Rancid Vat had up to that point. Both were dedicated to learning the songs we had written to go on the next album(we had been playing them in Portland) had good equipment, phones, and basically pulled their own weight.For the first time in the band we had no "dead wood". Basements don't seem to exist in LA, so we had to rent a rehearsal space. We sounded so much better, we were again reminded how glad we were to be away from the losers we had hung around with in Portland.

July '87: City of Thorns lp comp released on Mystic(Rancid Vat did "Under My Wheels" live )--Phil had to go out and buy a copy though..dirty ripoff bastards.Steve flew down for a visit, we showed him the exiting world of Hollywood, we did one rehearsal and then played a show at the legendary Club 88(everybody from Peewee Herman to Black Flag had played there). People we knew in LA hated Steve. Probably because no matter how nice they were to him all he did was whine.

I loved living there. Summer year 'round, Rancid Vat was getting a fair amount of air play from two different college stations and press around the city. We were offered good shows. Steve was always hungry for this kind of attention and when it came and sat on his lap, he got up and walked away... back to sulk in Portland forever.We rehearsed for most of a year before going into a 24-track studio in Hollywood to record some instrumental tracks. It was the most heavily alcohol/drug induced session we had ever done. The songs were more complex than any we had ever played, we were also much tighter than we'd ever been.

Since hardcore had fizzled we cranked up the tempo of our songs!! We never play any of the songs off that album now, Phil says they're too much work.August '87: While we were recording, Adam Ant was filming a video next door. His producer wanted to come into the studio and hear us, but a crony that Ace dragged to the session, sent him away so as not to "disturb us."One of Ace's LAFMS buddy/former band mate, Reverend Toadeater, was producing our session. (His claim to fame was to have been Captain Beefheart's last guitar player). Unfortunately, he and Phil were butting heads. Seems the Rev was a lot more anal about tuning than Phil was. He also made the mistake of trying to tell Phil what to do. Despite the friction, the songs came out great, and Toadeater played an epic lead on "Destroy Nature".  Ace had a friend starting out a record label and wanted our new record to be the first release. Itwas a done deal until the guy ended up back in drug rehab. We gave up on him. When he got out he started Epitaph (Greenday's label) records.

Phil was very depressed because we weren't writing any new material., for the first time ever, he had writers block. Every time he'd try to introduce an idea to Ace and Anne, they'd show no interest, only wanting to learn old songs. Other things were bothering us too.LA has a lot of great things going for it but it is a rat race. Just about everyone we knew was working at least two jobs, just to survive. Phil had quit the management job, where he had worked an average of 70 hours a week, and now was working two 30 hr. a week jobs. I was working nearly full time plus taking care of a toddler. We had no insurance. Daycare was taking half my paycheck. Everyday there would be stories in the paper about some family being lured to LA with the promise of a great job, only to have a mishap and they all end up in Tent City, living off of hot dogs and pancakes, Phil thought that could be us.

Our only hope was to win the lottery.We decided to move back to Portland, to rest up, where rent is cheap. We wanted to provide our son with a home, not some crappy apartment, we'd had it with loony, invasive landlords.Ace's reaction to us moving away appears on the Traitor List on Justice's liner notes: "The real traitors know who they are"....his cryptic message to us. It was no secret that Ace was into conjuring spells. He tried as hard as he could to keep us in L.A.. But we conjured up one ourselves...A massive earthquake hit L.A. just seven hours after we left.

Oct. '87: Once we got back into Portland, Wilson was very coy about playing with us, like a spoiled child, punishing us for leaving him. He had a band formed with a couple of do nothings, except for the bass player, Charlie Nimms ( aka Myrtle Tickner of Poison Idea ) called "Human Headcheese. They never recorded, and didn't last very long, when I saw them they didn't even seem like a band.We got tired of waiting around and started Alcoholics Unanimous(We took alcohol names, Phil the Whiskey Rebel, me Intoxia) Now he was interested in getting back together.

Winter '87: Justice is finally finished.We went into the studio Poison Idea was using. Slayer Hippie was producing the overdubs and he did the final mix. Which he fucked up so bad the first time we thought there was something wrong with the equipment, Now I know better, it was him. It had to be remixed under my watchful eye. He has a lot of people buffaloed into thinking he is a great producer.I sent a copy of the very different sounding mix to Ace and Anne and they didn't like it. We added Marshall powered rhythm guitar tracks, to beef it up. They preferred the clean Fender sound originally recorded in Hollywood. We didn't hear much from them after that.

May '88: We found out about a guy named Dana who had a small record store, but decent mail order biz, in Washington state, who had been selling our records at collectors prices and doing very well. He came to our house in Portland to persuade us to let him put our next album out. He wanted to package the record in a unique way. Sounded good to us. We liked what he had done with a previous 7". He's also the one responsible for introducing us, in a round about way, to Antiseen. He gave us a handful of their records. Phil felt the kindred spirit between our bands and fired off a lengthy letter to Antiseen's Joe Young. They corresponded back and for few months, phone conversations followed, then Phil made a week long trip to Charlotte.

Fall'88:"No Royalties No Loyalties" Al Records. Released by Eric Larsen and his brother Al(from "SOME VELVET SIDEWALK"). Three songs taken from live shows in '83.We finally got a rehearsal together, using the drummer from Alcoholics Unanimous, Dean. Phil and Larsen were working together again and had patched things up so he was back too. I was back playing bass and not very happy about it. I realized what I needed was a better bass, so I bought a Gibson EB3 at Fred and Toody Cole's(Dead Moon) music store. Bass was fun again, plus I didn't have to think!

Our first practice: Phil had a riff in his head and just started playing it to warm up.. the drummer joined in, as did Larsen and I, Steve had some lyrics, it all just came together as "It's my Fate..TO BE GREAT"in the first 3 minutes of the practice. Larsen described it as a throwaway song.(The first of many nails in his coffin).After playing with a good drummer like Anne, we didn't want to go back to Pat's plain uninspiring style. I was on friendly terms, but she was involved with Gus VanZant's band (this was when he was still an underground film producer), a wimpy folk project, and really didn't want anything to do with Rancid Vat. In fact when a detailed press sheet bio was passed around about their band, under her name, the fact that she was on two releases with Rancid Vat, and had played with us for three years wasn't even mentioned. Traitor.

Jan. '89: "Justice: This is What We do to Traitors" released. Dana sold almost a thousand copies in two days, it was listed in the Rocket's top 20 list of top selling Northwest artist at number 9, we tied with Kenny G. Most of the releases on this list were on major labels. Dana wanted to use clear vinyl and have the label be part of the sleeve, and the whole thing would be in a clear plastic jacket, so the record would look like a picture disk. He hand typeset the foldout poster/liner notes. We each included a list of traitor's with the reason why. He put together a hundred "Boxed " editions, which were going for a much higher price than the standard edition.Phil and I had a falling out with the only club owner in town(the bouncer gave the underaged guys in A.U. shit at gig we were supposed to play and didn't)

Recently we turned down a show with the Lazy Cowgirls, because we refuse to set foot in that outhouse! There was no place else to play. We turned our energies into recording.We liked Dean Meenach's drumming a lot. He was great for jams, as well as the structured stuff. He improved our sound, we recorded: H.H.H.H., It's my Fate, Slow ride, Cop, Drink to Forget But Don't Forget to Drink, Breaking Bones, Hatred is Sacred, Hitler and Stalin, and the Bowiecide EP, with him.

Fall '90: I kicked Larsen out of the band. We had finally played a show in Seattle with the Kings of Rock(they became Gas Huffer) at the ReBar. We played last and drove most of the audience out. The promoter, the brains behind the Regal Select label, recorded the show on a 4-track reel to reel. We heard the tape and Larsen's guitar was very pronounced on it. He stunk, what he was doing was not what we were doing, he might as well have been in another room...but that wasn't the only reason why I gave him the heave ho.During our last recording session, he cast such a bad vibe/wet blanket over the whole thing, we felt like he ruined it. In fact we talked about it and decided in general he was a wet blanket about everything. Any ideas anybody had he'd immediately try to shoot down, but of course he never had any ideas of his own. His forced sobriety (court ordered, he beat his girlfriend up) had turned him into a dullard.Phil couldn't kick him out because he worked with the guy, Steve couldn't kick him out because he lived with him, Dean didn't know him that well and was too nice...so it was up to me. I've kicked so many people out of our bands that Phil and Steve started calling me "Frauline Torture".

I told Larsen he was being ousted because he was a "wet blanket". He didn't even argue, I have a feeling he didn't really want to be in it anymore but didn't have the balls to quit.We knew we did the right thing, because the following week we had another session and things went a lot better. We stayed a four piece for the most part except in '91 for a brief time when we had "Playboy BuddyJack the Bouncer"(singer from Alcoholics Unanimous) play rhythm. He didn't get what we were trying to do, didn't really add anything, especially not enough to put up with his shenanigans.

Jan '90: We get a visit from Todd Cody of Rave records out of Philadelphia. He was interested in putting out a Rancid Vat album, and came out to discuss details. He stayed with us for a couple of days while we tried to figure out what he wanted from us. It wasn't until he was scheduled to fly out that he finally approached us with a deal. He wanted to set up a six week tour in Europe to start with, and then we'd have to play three shows a month out of town, for a year. We knew there was no way in hell we could get Steve to commit to any of that, he could barely decide what to eat for dinner! Just playing in Seattle was a major ordeal. We had to turn him down.

He did agree to put out a split single with us and Antiseen though. H.H.H.H./Kill The Business).I was really pissed. I'd never been to Europe and blamed Steve for the fact that I wouldn't be going. It was at that point Phil and I felt that Steve was holding us back. Things were never the same between us.It was getting harder to get Steve to record. We'd record the instrumental tracks for a batch of songs and then I'd have to coerce and coddle him to set a recording date. When he got to the studio he wasn't prepared, didn't know the lyrics and was constantly rewriting them. He wasn't happy with them and wanted to redo them over and over, with each take sounding no better than the previous.

Dec. 31, 1991: 10 year anniversary show at new all ages club "X-RAY Cafe". Lost album recorded.November '91: "It's My Fate" b/w "Slow Ride" released on the new label T/K (eventually called Tim/Kerr records).Dec. 31,'92: Played at the X-RAY( part of show available on DVD  Self Service SlaughterHouse) with Poison Idea. Jerry A breaks his leg, fucks up their European tour.

Many 7"'s released: Puget Power III (Regal Select) 4 band ep. Our cut "Breakin Bones", Seattle bands Mudhoney and the Nightkings.Cop/Portland Bloodbath (Sympathy for the Record Industry)We contacted Sympathy to put out Cop/ Portland Bloodbath, and to have Dennis Worden draw the cover. Long Gone John liked Justice and Burger Belsen and thought he'd want to do it. After several phone calls we worked out the details.

Hatred is Sacred R.Vat/Date Rape Antiseen (Horton Reflex) is partially released. Each band was given a share of the pressing, as the rest was to come out with a magazine "Pure Hate Digest". Phil wrote several articles for it. It never did come out. After reading Answer Me! I called Dana(Horton Reflex) and told him someone already beat him to the ultimate "hate zine", and he might as well just release the record. He insisted on releasing it as a package, but it still hasn't seen the light of day. The worst thing was I had several printer friends who would have done it for practically nothing, but he dragged his feet, and those oppotunites passed. ( We've totally lost touch with him, anybody know where we can find him?) [update: he emailed us about a year ago, and he still talks about releasing the hate zine with the single!]

Dean gave us notice that he wanted to leave the band. He wanted to concentrate on his own bands. He's not the only member to leave us on decent terms...but there haven't been many. We went to the studio to record the songs we had worked up with him. Possibly some of our greatest songs ever. Released on our own label as: Ugly Duckling is available on cd).

Thor(Tim/Kerr) being the Johnny Thunders fan that he is, decided to do a tribute ep. Steve, also a fan, insisted that we be on it. The deal is that we'd have to record it at a studio way out in the sticks, and the engineer would also produce it. He had nice gear and really knew how to make the drums sound good.Things were going smoothly, until the engineer started questioning Phil about the guitar part(on his custom 6 'g' string..his secret weapon) he was laying down. He even asked me to interfere, and "straighten him out". I explained that Phil was a musical genius and had the abiltiy to hear many parts in his head and knew exactly what effect he was going for.

Usually we are present and have a lot to say about how things are mixed. This time, the producer assured us that everything would sound great and he would mix ours and the other three band's songs at the same time. Ok, no problem, the guy got a great sound for us, and we figured we could trust him.When we got the final mix a week later, we were horrified. He left out an entire lead(Phil did three, I did one fill lead), plus the sound of the guitars were really thin. We called immediately and explained the problem, ok he would remix it.The second mix had some problems corrected but it still wasn't right. We raised hell, and after a rediculous amount of aggrevation, it was decided that the genius' apprentise would engineer and Phil and I would be involved with the production. A lot of the reviews said we had the best cut. Funny thing is that the other bands think of themselves as being able to play circles around us, and many people would agree, but we have the heart!! The style. The class. Things that can't be taught in guitar lessons!

We played a triumphant show in Eugene Oregon, where we had been number one on the indy station there for a month.While we played we kept hearing breaking glass, afterwards, when the lights came on all the club employees had brooms and snow shovels, the entire floor was covered in glass. Phil did his famous bar walk and cracked the vintage bar, according to the whiny bartender. The amazing thing is they didn't even charge us for any of the broken shit.

May '92: We had no idea this would be the last show we would do with Steve. Antiseen was on tour and on the West coast leg, they wanted us to play with them, but we could only do one night in the picture book town of Ashland in southern Oregon.We were banned from the club in Portland Antiseen played at the night before. Phil joined them on the stage for a version of "Mill Workin' Man" and Jeff Clayton made sure all the band members were wearing "Rancid Vat Justice" t-shirts.

Antiseen had been having van troubles and we had to keep stopping, the 300 mile trip took twice as long. As soon as we pulled up to the Armory, we had to go on. Phil had thrown his guitar across the stage the night before in a drunken rocknroll moment. He forgot all about that, so couldn't figure our what happened to his guitar. ..he'd pluck a string and it would go "thud".Anybody who's seen us play knows that Phil has no patience at all for technical difficulties. He started screaming. I was having problems with my amp, plus feeling rattled from the drive, started screaming. So both of us are screaming across the large stage at each other, the audience thought it was part of the show!

We played like shit, our new drummer didn't have the rhythms down at all, luckily the kids in the audience thought we were deliberately playing noise..also luckily this wasn't recorded. The best part about the trip was of course partying with the Antiseen boys. (I had talked to Clayton over the phone, but this was the first time meeting him in person).

Spring '93: We assembled the tracks for "Iconoclastic Icons" cd. A collection from lp's, ep's. comps and cassettes. Was soon to be subtitled "The West Coast Years". It was slated to come out on the Tim/Kerr label, but the person we were supposed to contact to process our artwork would never return my calls, so we pulled the project from them. If I couldn't work with someone while living in the same town, how could I living 3000 miles away!

We told some friends that we planned on moving to Philadelphia. At first they didn't believe we really would, mainly because so many people in Portland talk about moving somewhere and never do. But as we started selling off possessions, arranged for transfers with our jobs and put our house on the market, they finally believed it. Then they started treating us like we were already gone. Except for one friend who took me to breakfast and railed at me for two hours about what a big mistake we were making (see Phil's Hostile City or Bust book about the move).

Philadelphia is "full of hook-nosed-jews", and we'd be sending our kid to school over run with "niggerz".... The jokes on you old friend, half of our band is jewish, and our kid goes to one of the top rated schools in the country, and it is not all white. If I wanted "white bread and mayonnaise", I'd be living back in the suburbs where I grew-up, insane with boredom.The months preceding our move, were spent finishing up several recording projects.

The biggest chore was getting Steve to finish his vocals. It was like dealing with the government...getting to the studio, getting him to do the parts and then to be satisfied with what he put down. I had to hold his hand during the whole process. Phil by this time had totally lost patience with him and his self-centered-insanity, and refused to even be at the vocal sessions. Phil had spent countless hours counseling Steve on various personal problems, and just couldn't do it anymore.Thor from Tim/Kerr records had asked us to be on a Christmas comp with a lot of well known Seattle bands( Nirvana) and it looked like a good opportunity to show our stuff to the world, especially since we'd be the only ones with an original Xmas song. We had the music written, but trying to get Steve to come over and work in his lyrics just wasn't happening. After all the patience stretching I had gone through to get him to do the vocals on stuff we had recorded, we realized there was no way in hell this Christmas thing was going to materialize. Again something to help the band gets torpedoed because of Wilson.

April '94, Phil went on an expedition to the East Coast, flying in and out of Charlotte, and driving to Philly to see about finding a place to live for us. While in Clarlotte, he played 5 songs on guitar with ANTISEEN on stage at a club called the MILESTONE. One of the songs can be found on a Japanese EP.The club was closing down. So any damage didn't matter. Antiseen headlined, with the Cosmic Commander of Wrestling officiating. That's were he and Phil met. A video was shot, and it was a melee, to say the least.When Cosmo and Phil met, they clicked right away. Phil was impressed with the fact that Cosmo was an actual wrestling manager, and the way he could piss off the crowd(he intro'd Antiseen and enraged the audience).

Cosmo was a Rancid Vat fan, because of the Rulebreakers Rule ep.They soon found out that each other were planning on moving to Philly(we had also contemplated moving to Charlotte). Cosmo hadn't been in a band since "Fat Howards Army" 8 years prior(Larry Kay played bass), because he like managing wrestlers more, and hadn't found the right people. The more he and Phil talked they more they realized they had a lot in common and agreed he should join what ever band we put togther.Cosmo although a native of Philly, had spent the last 8 years in San Francisco. Where he hosted a cable access show.and managed wrestlers. He had spent a few years spending everything he had and could scam on dope. He felt like his life was nothing, he had nothing and he needed to get back to Philly and get clean(he still is, if he wasn't we wouldn't have anything to do with him).

Phil drove up to Philly to scout out potential neighborhoods, I had no idea where we were going to live, I had spent exactly two days in my soon to be home. While visiting he attended a big party full of a lot people we had been in touch with(via mail/phone) over the years and a lot of who knew of us because of our records. We sold a lot of Rancid Vat and A.U. stuff in the Philly/ Nj/ NYC/ area.Phil was introduced to a fan who was also a drummer, he was told Barney was really good. Barney convinced Phil to keep Rancid Vat going, we had planned on starting another band because we felt no one could replace Wilson. But Barney argued that it would be a waste to spend 14 years building something up and just throw it away.
When Phil told me he had a singer and a drummer already lined up for us, I couldn't believe it was that easy. It didn't take much convincing from Phil that we should continue on and sign up Cosmo and Barney. I agreed to play bass just to keep things simple and make the transition that much easier.J

une '94: We finally get the hell out of Portland. Loaded up a U-haul trailer with all our earthly belongings(mostly records(about 2500 lbs) and band equipment). It took 10 days to drive across the country. Phil almost had a stroke(I seriously thought he was going to die ) driving our van and u-haul trailer.The gas pedal was floored, and we were only going 7 miles per hour.up the "pigtail" to Mt.Rushmore. We could see the speedometer droping, we were in site of the top of our climb. When we got out of the van in the parking lot, Phil couldn't even walk, he was paper white, and was mumbling, the attendants thought he was drunk. You see, We had thought we were going to stall and be stuck on the side of the mountain pointed at the sharpest angle you can imagine a road could be paved. He said on the spot that the only thing that kept him going was thinking about the pleasure his enemies would get if he died.("Inspired by Enemies" is more than a just a catchy phrase...it's been our motto since the start).

June 22 we arrived in Philadelphia(Phil was so happy to get here he literally kissed the filthy sidewalk) and were met at the U-haul storage space by our new drummer Barney. We celebrated with Cheesesteaks and hoagies. We sat on Barney's roof(the same roof the photo on "Hostile City USA"was taken) devouring them, plotting the new Rancid Vat.Our next stop in our new home, was to meet Cosmo at the tattoo shop he was working , just off South street(the trendy district of Philly).

My advise to anyone moving far away, have some sort of contacts, people that can at least point you in the right direction, introduce you to places you want to drink. In a big city like Philly, its really important to have someone hook you up. Cosmo had a friend offer us his basement to rehearse in, we took him up on it.Cosmo moved to Philly one month before we did. He told us we needed to live in the neighborhood in South Philly he was living in. As soon as we were moved in we started right away rehearsing. with the new drummer, gave Cosmo a tape and once things died down at the tattoo shop in Sept. he started rehersing with us.There was something very invigorating about moving there. We both went into a writing frenzy. Writing most all the songs for 31 Flavors of Hostility in about two months. Cosmo came over to our apartment and he and Phil worked on lyrics.
Phil used the accoustic guitar to play the skeleton parts while Cosmo sang along.

July '94: Hitler and Stalin the Dream Team, 7" (Tear it up Germany) Bowiecide ep (Jettison)releasedNovember '94: Our first gig was at a birthday party for Bill the(best ever) bartender. Great drinks, music selections, stories. He was a huge Rancid Vat fan, so we couldn't turn him down. They usually had accoustic bands there, and didn't even really have a P.A. But it was a lot of fun, even the owner was happy, we made him a lot of money that night because of the liquor sales.

We had enough of the tiny basement, not only was it like a sauna, but it was too small. We found a larger space that was also an eight track recording studio. It sounded so much better. A great practice space can really take a band to the next level.This was where we recorded 31 Flavors. John Boyko's claim to fame was that he recorded Helios Creed(one of my favorite guitar players) so that was all we needed to hear. He got a great sound for us even though he tried our patience by moving at glacier speed.

Halloween '94: The Confederacy of Scum Supershow in Charlotte NC. Cocknoose played first, got the crowd worked up, Cosmo came out dressed in his "Hasidic Hillbilly" gimmick. (overalls, hillbilly hat, jewish beard) And kept saying "oy vay y'all". The crowd loved him, he couldn't piss 'em off, so he started on the club owner, a native of Lebanon. He gave the guy so much shit that he called a sheriff's deputy to go on stage and shut us down. I was terrified.I had a bag o'weed in my purse.Cosmo went into his suave routine and talked the deputy into letting him get out of his costume before going to jail. The cop let him, when he came back out with his normal clothes, I don't think the club owner or the deputy recognized him, so they just left him alone.

Jan '95: Barney's other band set up a show for us at a club in Philly called the MiddleEast. It was owned by a politician with mob connections, and run by Arabs. The promoter was some suburban bitch named Clarice. We were already anticipating trouble because of what happened in Charlotte. On the way to the club, Phil said to me "I know what will shut us down, I give 'em the line: "you can tell you're getting close to the club because you can smell the women"...I told him..yeh that'll do it.The opening bands played way too long, we didn't go on till 2:00(which is when they stop selling booze here). Most of the crowd was there to see us though, and was still there. We played about three songs when Cosmo made the crack about " a cheap Arab club"..and Phil piped in with his line. Clarice walked up to the front of the stage and told me to make them stop, I just laughed and shrugged her off. About a minute later they cut the P.A. and there were a half dozen bouncers lined up across the stage. They thought we were going to tear the place up. All we wanted to do was to get our shit outta there. Even though we brought in the crowd, they refused to give us any money. We had to get it from the band that set the show up.

Spring of '95 was spent finishing up the album. We had Long Gone John of Sympathy for the Record Industry interested in putting it out. But when he found out we had a new singer and there were wrestling songs on it, he changed his mind. He was worried our fans wouldn't go for it. So our own label. "Brilliancy Prize" split the cost with "Baloney Schrapnel" Jeff from BS had done a good job on "Icon's".

May '95: Barney got too looney, lied one too many times, we were fed up with his time wasting... Frauline Torture struck again. Cosmo recommended Eric Perfect for the job. He fit right in.

June '95 "Hostile City/Testify" 7" first release by the Philly line-up. The most"Hostile City" in America was what Philadelphia was dubbed a month before we moved out here. Phil and I thought that was hilarious. Phil and Cosmo had to write a very cynical but sincere(and catchy!)song touting Philly.
Hostile City is where I come from
Hostile City the dirt and the scum
Hostile City slime in the street
Hostile City can't be beat!

We wanted to get something out as soon as possible, to let people know we hadn't died....someone chopped off the monster's head and it grew two more. The new sound was heavier, tougher and kicked more ass.The reviews were favorable. Jeff Clayton drew the cover, of Ben Franklin with a dagger through his head, based on a children's book. I came up with the idea, thinking of something that would piss on Philly, which is what the locals do, but they'll defend the city to their death(and get really offended if you suggest if they don't like it here why don't they move).

Jan '96: "31 Flavors of Hostility" cd released. Cover art by artist living here but world famous, Judith Schaechter. I saw a showing of her stuff at a gallery that was mind blowing, Phil and Cosmo agreed. She turned out to be a cool person and was more than happy to let us use a painting she had hanging in her living room. Also A split single with Swiss band "DESIGNER" came out in Switzerland...our song was "Old People".


March '96 A Riot at an all-ages show!! This was the first time we had ever played a suburban show. Another band rented an Elk's lodge. Things were going pretty normal until Cosmo jumped on a banquet table and broke it in half, we had just begun the repetitive part of "Rock n Roll Fraud". A few kids started throwing things around the room, and suddenly the entire crowd just snapped. A whole wall of mirrors was smashed to bits, I was wondering when they were going to turn on us,the Elk's trophy case was looted, soon the cops showed up, ready to arrest us. Cosmo and Perfect talked to them in a calm and adult manor, we had our kid Elvis with us(age 12) and convinced them we didn't do anything to provoke the destruction and luckily got outta there. The guy who rented the hall is still being sued for several thousand dollars...ROCK AND ROLL!!!

Sept. '96 Rulebreakers Rule: Cosmo put together a show with hardcore wrestling and evil rock n roll the same night in the same building. Antiseen headlined, Murder Junkies played and of course us too. We played an entire set of nothing but wrestling songs just to show we could. A local band had begged Cosmo to let them open up the show and thanked him by almost ruining the show by setting off a bunch of fireworks. The hall owners were ready to shut things down for a while. Attendance was good..Cosmo lost a few bucks but only because he generously let all his friends in for free. Soon after this, several other wrestling/rocknroll shows pop up nationwide. Rancid Vat leads the way once more!

Nov.'96: Radio Rampage recorded on WFMU radio. Broadcast into all five burroughs of New York City, Connecticut, NJ, Pa, etc...they claim to have 50,000 listeners for their station at times. The DJ(Pat Duncan) who set the whole thing up was the first one to give us airplay way back in 1982. We couldn't believe it, we still have letters he sent to us from back then.

May '97: Radio Rampage cd released. WFMU had recorded the show on a DAT. We mastered it , complete with all the put downs, feedback, bullshit, one-liners,etc.., nothing edited out. I designed the artwork using computer programs for the first time.Summer: We start recording the next album, which is titled "Darkest Souls in Rock and Roll". Did a recording of an Antiseen song (Hippie Punk)for the tribute for their 15th year anniversary. We recorded an Alice Cooper song for his cousin Mike Cooper's tribute ("Dead Babies" [we finally gave up on Mike, and released this on The Darkest Souls in Rock'n'Roll])

In the works is a Split with German band "Born Bavarian" we submited Hank Williams "Why Don't you Love Me" and an original about Jessco White "Dancin' Outlaw". Live at WKDU. We played live again on the radio with very different results. We had gotten along well with the professionals at WFMU and it was a let down to play a college station run by crusty punks who smelled bad. We tried to get through our set without cursing. Perfect was the first to "slip" and then the floodgates opened..a tidal wave of profanity. It wound up with the plug being pulled after about 12 minutes, but not before Cosmo threatened over the air to "mentally and physically rape" the station manager who had called in and insisted on kicking us off the air.

Labor Day weekend '97: Confederacy of Scum Supershow in Lawrence KS. A great weekend and a lot has been written about it. Phil wrote an article in Stain Fanzine. May 1998. After almost 18 years RANCID VAT still isn't known very well, but we get letters occasionally from people who live 3,000 miles away we've never met who say we are their favorite band. Go figure.

Rancid Vat 1981 Portland OR. Right to left: Steve Wilson, Marla Vee, Phil Irwin, Eric Larsen.
Rancid Vat observed its 25th anniversary in January of 2006, and now the thirty-fifth anniversary is looming on the horizon. Whereas Rancid Vat performances have become rare occurances, you the listener are lucky that the band has recorded a huge amount of music during its existance. See discography.

For almost 30 years, Rancid Vat has confused many reviewers and narrowminded listeners by offering up a broad range of sounds. You can't listen to one Vat cd and accurately pigeonhole the band. The "Stampeding cattle" album for instance is a 1981 noise-fest favored by fans of the band who despise 3 chord punk rock as being boneheaded. On the other hand "The Darkest Souls in Rock and Roll" cd is almost a normal punk rock cd, that a fan of other C.O.S. bands would be likely to appreciate. "31 Flavors of Hostility" straddles both Rancid Vat extremes of rock & roll/ racket.

Rancid Vat Vs The Rest of the World double cd covers the band's first 25 years.No matter what style Rancid Vat selects, you can always count on a refreshing anti-humanity attitude. The band has always risen above childish politically oriented songs and love songs. On every album you find hate anthems, salutes to the bands hero's, wrestling songs and expressions of general disgust and cynicism.

RANCID VAT has been a cancer within the music scene since the band formed in Portland Oregon over a Ouija board New Years Eve 1980. For the last 29 years, RANCID VAT has watched trends come and go.They have never wanted any part of: New Wave, Break Dancing, generic Hardcore or the many other genres they have outlasted. The purpose of the band...instead of getting signed and achieving mass popularity is to condemn all the weakling trendy bands that dominate the media, while paying tribute to what the members of RANCID VAT consider the finer things in life: mass murder, smut, professional wrestling, hatred and true greatness on the part of individuals ranging from Long John Holmes to Bruiser Brody.

RANCID VAT began the 80's as one of the West Coast's most hated and irritating noise bands. The band has gravitated over the years towards a blending of New York rock (Dolls, Dictators) with tin pan alley melodic lines that evaporate into eight minute jams. Founding members Whiskey Rebel and Marla Vee have written the lion's share of the music and many of the lyrics the band has spewed out over the last 33 years.

RANCID VAT was taken to a new level when these two relocated to Philly in 1994 and hooked up with an obnoxious wrestling manager known as the Cosmic commander of Wrestling, and drummer Eric Perfect. About a year later the band expanded to a 5-piece line-up adding rock god Jimmy Satan on guitar. The band then proceeded to wreak havoc on East Coast stages leaving clubs awash in blood, spit, broken glass and laughter all at the same time. The Vat is a very versatile and surprising band... employing 3 chord punk ditties one moment, and then switching over to hellacious racket armed with oddball instruments such as a Theramin, a Clavinet, tenor saxophone, Kendo stick and more. The band believes its egotistic, masochistic and sometimes sadistic sets are what the music scene really needs...that audiences NEED an honest kick in the ass from a band that refuses to pull punches.

Summer 2001: Eric Perfect left the band to join Limecell. Dick Flawless was recruited to play drums. He played with the band at the Austin Confederacy of Scum Supershow. The last show with this line-up was in Columbia S.C. at a Halloween gig with Antiseen.A full length cd celebrating the "Cheesesteak Years" was released summer of 2002 on Steel Cage records. A mixture of unrealeased, or previously only released on vinyl and a couple of signature songs.

In Dec. of 2001, The Whiskey Rebel and Marla Vee relocated to the Austin Tx area, to start a third(1.West Coast, 2.Philly line-up)version of the band. May 30 2002: The Texas version of the band is bigger--of course "everything is bigger in Texas"!!! The debut was in the fine city of San Antonio at Sam's Burger Joint on June 28, 2002 with guest vocalist Elvis Rotten.

The clavinet was sold in preparation of moving, the Theramin stayed with Cosmo in Philly. The sound was bigger and meaner. Marla Vee guitar, Whiskey Rebel bass, Mark Von Diehl guitar, and Bobo on drums.Enter the Texas Stud on vocals. Some may know him at Beer from his other bands Shit, Pill Crusher and Hod. The Texas Stud debuted on the 22nd anniversary of the band, Jan 1st, 2003 at Sin 13 in San Antonio.

Elvis Rotten was focusing on his own band the Cats from Mars. They recorded their first cd. One song "I Hate Censureship" was released on a Carbon 14 comp. Summer of 2003 issue.Steel Cage release "The Cheesesteak Years"a collection of greatest songs from the time the band was based in Philly. Also includes last five songs recorded with Jimmy Satan on scorching lead guitar. Many glowing reviews abound!

The recording sessions with Elvis Rotten have been parcelled out into several singles. The first of which was released on an Italian label. Original song "Crybaby" b/w Sonics tribute "Strychnine." Available thru Whiskey Reb's eBay store (or just email him).Sept 24,2004. Mark VonDiehl had been in the band for one year. He brought his kick ass guitar playing to the band from "Dual Exhaust." A band he co-founded about 10 years ago in Northern Illinois. After visiting San Marcos one time and seeing all its fine charms he had to move here.

Many comments from folks at the 2004 Supershow that this was the best line up ever! This date also is significant because of the first full length cd of the Texas line-up was officially released: "We Hate You all the way from Texas!"

Fall 2011: Mark has left the band (on good terms!). The Bacardi Kid recruited from Alcoholics Unanimous on drums. Marilyn El Merciful, the legendary metal bass player from San Antonio has joined the band.  Phil has gone back to guitar. 
Spring of 2013: Phil and Marla leave San Marcos and move to San Antonio.

Fall 2013: The band releases "Jesus Was a Zombie" backed with a Sonic's tribute: "He's Waitin'" on vinyl seven inch, on 11-12-13 (for real!) Available through the Whiskey Rebel's eBay store or directly from the band. 

March 2014: The latest project a full length CD is mixed and very close to being release. Features six new songs with current line-up, along with the two songs from the single, and two re-recorded classics: The Darkest Souls in Rock n Roll and Deeds of the Damned. Currently the working title is "We're Still Better than You."

Rancid Vat Biography
"Inspired by enemies"

“You sir are an ASSHOLE!”
By Phil Irwin

Here is Phil's version starting when we were booked to play the On Broadway in San Francisco. This was published 2006 in Carbon 14. RANCID VAT STORY III.

Gather around children. It's time for yet another chapter in the lengthy 25+ year history of Rancid Vat. If you want to dig up the appropriate back issues of this fine mag for a refresher of what I've related so far in our epic journey, feel free. When I left off in issue #27 we had just completed recording our first LP “Stampeding cattle” and had played our song “Renting a Room in a Mental Hospital” at an actual mental hospital.

One of the founding members of our band Joe Hornoff had strayed off to Berkeley to college. We thought it might be a nice idea to play a few shows in the bay area. We asked Joe to help us. This was Spring of 1982 or so. Joe really came through for us. He got a tape somehow into the hands of well known bay area promoter Dirk Dirksen who evidently had gotten a chuckle out of the bestiality references in our song “The Ballad of Brigham Young”. He booked at the On Broadway for a record release show for the Toiling Midgets and another band whose name escapes me. A couple other gigs were nailed down at other San Francisco venues.

These were to be the first out of State shows we ever played. Steve, Marla, Eric and I all made the ride down to California in a fairly new van that Marla and I had managed to buy during the prosperous times before we had the poor sense to start up a band. It was a Dodge with a 3/4 ton engine. We had fitted out the interior with carpeting, a sort of raised up slab area for someone to sleep on and red vinyl plastic wall panels. We didn't have a lot of money to work with, about enough. Since none of us knew anybody in the bay area quite yet except for Joe who lived in a dorm, we planned to rent a really cheap hotel room and share it 4 ways.

Eric was always pretty good at getting by on little or no money. I think he actually enjoyed the challenge. He was so poor he brought along some sort of ugly looking powder he had been given to mix up with water to subsist off of. Shit. Of course he had his priorities straight like the rest of us and had enough money to get loaded for the whole week. Food always runs a distant second to what's really important. We were supposed to borrow a few drums and a bass cabinet from somebody Joe knew; of course those sort of arrangements rarely work out, at least for us.

Nowadays with 25+ years under my belt I’d no sooner expect to borrow skivvies or a brief case full of cocaine. To expect to borrow equipment you've either got to be either very popular or very friendly or at least willing to pass out sexual favors...we've never counted on getting by using any of those qualities. Well, that is except for this instance before we knew what we were doing. The bass cabinet materialized. It was leant courtesy of a guy whom I understand wound up playing for “Faith no more”. The only problem was it was the size of a fucking refrigerator. It barely fit into the back of our van.

Good thing there weren't any drums to be found I guess. Once we had pulled into San Francisco we had walked and driven for hours looking for a cheap hotel room that was good enough to have locks on the doors but still affordable. We wound up in a real dump paying I think $108 or so for a week. That was the price with an “extra” TV added in for us. It was a cramped dump of a room with 2 beat to shit cramped beds with lots of cigarette burns adorning the linen, lots of roaches and a TV that didn’t work worth a shit. When Steve complained at the desk about the TV the innkeeper replied in an angry voice: “What! you got TV...you want TV that work...must pay $10 more!!”

Well, it wasn't much but we had a place to flop for a week. After a brief rest we headed to the On Broadway. We were told at the club that we had to take our equipment including the 1,000 pound bass cabinet up a rickety set of metallic fire stairs that pulled down for load in. While Marla, Eric and I worked to haul our crap up the shaky stairs Steve ventured into the club to greet club management and inquire about borrowing a drum kit perhaps from one of the other bands. You see, we were laboring under the illusion that because we were playing a “punk rock” sort of show that there would be some sort of communal, cooperative spirit in the air.

We had already grown to the point that we didn't trust club owners and bookers, but we still gave them the benefit of the doubt. The arrogant, infamous Mr. Dirksen was holding court with several bandmember suckups around him. He coldly accepted Steve's attempt at a warm handshake....and then sneered at him “YOU SIR, ARE AN ASSHOLE!” Steve managed a slight grin, turned and walked away. Dirk's brown nosing sycophants all burst out laughing as if on cue.

Steve had no idea why Dirk had blown him off in this manner. Can you blame him and the rest of us in the band who came around to LOATHING club owners? We later surmised that Dirksen had been asked on our behalf about a drum kit earlier by Joe and he wasn't too happy about it. Oh well..”welcome to San Francisco”. Somehow we had managed by the time we took the stage to turn up a floor tom, snare and a cymbal...our usual set-up still at this point for a few more months. We were all a bit nervous setting up behind a big heavy curtain.

This was a major hall in a significant city. All the legendary punk acts of the day whose records we had in our little racks at home by our stereos had played on that stage. We were only from Portland. These days it's considered fashionable to be from the trendy Rose City; back then it was recognized as the dumpy, isolated burg it still is in reality. We started playing on cue as the curtain magically rose with a dramatic flourish.

The 1st song was “go to work” with Marla caterwauling, Steve banging on an annoying set of bells and me trying to coax feedback from my amp. The hall was filled with chairs, once comfortable I suppose. A couple hundred or so music lovers sat and stood looking mostly displeased and in many cases smug. We went through a few songs, trying our best to please the audience. Steve used the microphone to crack deliberately stupid jokes and comments about how great it was to be there.

About 25 minutes into our set, during “renting a room in a mental hospital” I felt tiny objects bouncing off the stage and whizzing past my noggin. Suddenly...WHAP! a projectile that looked like a coin snapped a string on my Rickenbacker guitar. We were being showered with anything people could find to casually lob at us. I got PISSED immediately. I started waving my arms at my bandmates to stop in the middle of the song. Rather than give up and slink away back to Portland and obscurity, I called an audible play from our pre-arranged book: “DEATH TRAIN”..our most annoying song yet..perhaps ever. It's got spoken words about riding a train from one point of infamous death to another, from Hiroshima to Treblinka to Auschwitz to Pompeii. Hovering behind that was a feedback engorged racket that throbbed in a way that sounded somewhat like a train rolling down the tracks. 

The shower of projectiles stopped. I looked occasionally at the audience as I chugged beers down and ran my special “aqua-velva” bottleneck up and down the guitar neck. People were just standing and staring now. That Rickenbacker wasn't meant to do anything but screech when swung like a baseball bat back and forth in front of a powerful amp. It howled like a siren with a wavering tone, but angry...like Jimi Hendrix having nails driven into his balls. Eric and Marla pounded away with the abstract train rhythm.

Believe it or not, as we left the stage we were actually applauded from all over the room. Not heavily, but decently. We had turned that audience around from fucking with us to granting us a grudging sort of respect. There's a lesson to be gleaned here. If you want to be a heel band and survive you've got to take control of your stage, if they push you...PUSH BACK HARDER. If they want to act snotty, give 'em two nostrils full back in the face. That's what made us different from many if not most of the artsy bands who made noise with some sort of artistic concept in mind.

Tell me that most of 'em wouldn't have been terrified when the shrapnel started flying from the audience. We weren't a bunch of badasses...we were people in our early to mid 20’s with crappy jobs. We just naturally were't inclined to cry like wussies when confronted by people in the audience. All these years later I can say with pride that we've rarely had timid pussies in the band. They simply didn't last long. We weren't making a conscious artistic "statement" on the stage back in the early 80's. We had ( according to a lecture I enjoyed in the fine arts college class I've just completed as of this writing ) "deconstructed" music, broken the rules laid down centuries ago many of which rock and roll performers had still followed closely since it's inception.

The feedback I played on my guitar didn't conform to the notes of any scale. Steve bellowed off key rather than sing. We “deconstructed” music not with lofty, intellectual avant garde notions in our heads, we did it partly to PISS PEOPLE OFF and also because we had chosen to play unfamiliar instruments. Even a mere year after this show in San Francisco we had learned to play our instruments better and were consciously following more musical rules. What choice did we have? To pretend to play shittier than we could? I heard quite a few "noise" bands in which there were competent musicians posing as hacks. It didn't sit well with me.

We gradually accepted the fact that unfortunately we could't help but play technically better and looked for other ways to piss people off. For many years now everybody in the band has known how to play their main instrument. We've written most of our songs sticking to the rock and roll chord progression mold. It's funny how even though we play 90% organized songs we can't completely shake the old “noise band” stigma”.

Anyway, we hung around the club and watched the other bands play. The Toiling Midgets were pretty good. They played dark songs with simple chords. I forget the name of the other band we warmed up for. I’d bet not many folks do. They were a bit too "new wave" for my liking. All the other band members and most of the audience pretty much ignored us at the show.

Eric, being the only really sociable sort in our band buddied up to a few people but Steve, Marla and I just sort of stood in corners. As we loaded out of the club at the end of the night Steve happened to find himself in front of the club caught between a couple large black men who were staring each other down 15-20 feet apart. One of them said “I'm packin...!”. The other guy patted his pocket his chest and unbuttoned his jacket wild west style. Steve was terrified. He managed to slink over to our van. Welcome to the big city, Steve.

A couple nights later we were booked to play at "The Sound of Music" which would have been more aptly named "the Smell of Urine". It was a real dump in the Tenderloin district. We didn’t expect much and made the most of it gleefully pissing on 6 inch roaches in the urinals. Our set was unique by our standards; we had no drums so we programmed a crude 80's drum machine between songs. There were only 20 people or so there. The owner was a nice guy who seemed to take everything in stride.

At one point in the delightful evening ( I can't even remember who else played...they weren't big names) a band who looked like they had listened to too much Journey rolled their amps in the door; they took the place in for about a minute and rolled ‘em right back out again. It was the last we saw of them. We went back to our starving artists hotel room each night and flopped on the tiny, cramped beds. We all appreciated the plethora of liquor stores that were on every corner open until 2:00 a.m.

It was a big improvement on prudish Oregon. We drank all sorts of cheap shit preparing for our final show. Occasionally we took exploratory walks looking for cheap food and action. I remember we wound up in a gay bar near Van Ness that was packed to the rafters with guys decked out in all sorts of campy macho apparel like the Village People. We wound up visiting Club Generic on the Friday night before our Sunday matinee show. It was packed. There was a huge party going on with people clambering up and down a sort of ships hold ramp that lead further down into the depths of the place. Joe and his friend Bill were there with us. They introduced us to a few folks they knew. It seemed like a promising show was in the works.

The next night Joe managed to get a local radio station ( KSFU?) to play a couple songs of ours. They even gave away a couple free "tickets" to our matinee show. Wow. We felt impressed...until we got to the club. The place was empty. The clubowner was a guy who lived in the place. He was nice but didn’t seem too surprised when nobody showed up. I mean NOBODY...there were no employees and their girlfriends, nobody trying to get in free. NOBODY. Well, there were eventually two people.....a quiet couple who had won the free "tickets". They felt sorry for us and stayed to listen to our whole set which we dutifully performed. They actually went out and got us a huge case of beer to suck down to prepare ourselves for our journey home.

We hadn't exactly conquered California, but we had done what we could. It’s not like we had huge aspirations. The free case of beer seemed to be a great reward at the time. When we got home I went on a tear of writing music for songs. Steve and I began collaborating on a large share of these duties. Eric never wrote a thing. Marla came up with one now and then whenever she felt like it. I made a point of course of NOT listening to bands close to our way of doing things so as not to inadvertently wind up copying them. I still listened to the bands we played with of course and to records at friends houses.

Inspired by the great song "prime mover" by Leather Nun and the boneheaded simplicity of the Toiling Midgets I strove to come up with a couple very, very simple songs to use the primitive barre chord skills I was learning. So many of our songs had been incredibly complicated; what the fuck were we thinking? Why not strip it down? I was very happy with a pair of dirge like slow tunes that eventually Steve wrote words to.

They were "Anti-social Disease" a bitter, vicious rant stemming from one of his attempts at romance gone sour and "Spilled Brains" which opened with the memorable couplet: "Brains spilling out my ear...confirm my worst fears"...lovely. Within weeks of writing those two, which are amongst the slowest we've ever done I wrote certainly the fastest song musically in our 80's songbook "Deuteronomy on Drugs". Steve came up with some sacrilegious lyrics including references to some of the preachers of the day. I thought it would be funny to have a fast song ready for one of the scores of times some hardcore fan in the audience bored with our stuff would yell the old "play something fast!" cliché.

Eric's brother Al ( of Some Velvet Sidewalk infamy ) gave him a tape of a band he was friends with up in Federal Way Washington. The band was The Limp Richerds; this lead to our next recording release..a very strange one. It’s significant enough to have been discussed in an 8/20/93 issue of record collector journal Gold Mine ( the article is about Pearl Jam’s roots). The Limp Richerd’s are considered in retrospect to have been in the running for the title of Seattle's "worst" band from the early to mid 80’s. Stories have circulated over the years connecting different members of huge commercial bands like Pearl Jam and Soundgarden to the Limps though.

Given what you can read in the Gold Mine article ( easily accessed on the Internet ) members of those bands were indeed pals of the guys who actually were in the band which actually included bona fide members Mark Arm and Steve Turner of Mudhoney. I talked to Mark Arm about the Limps at a show in the late 90's. He saw his role as being insignificant in the band compared to guys like Dave Middleton ( a uniquely spazzy vocalist who played clarinet ) and guitarist Scott Schickler to name just two guys who put a lot of effort into the project. It's not for me to sort out who played what in their band or when.

Suffice it to say that after playing a fun live show with them in Portland at the Northwest Artists Workshop we wound up agreeing to release a split cassette with them ( they were common and respectable enough back then to be sold to distributors ). They recorded some stuff including "Dad forgot his rubber ( and I was the result )" and "I've only got a nickel" ( a twisted tale of Junior High school bathroom nerd torture ) and sent it to Marla and I with a note saying they had broken up ( again...not for long I think ) and couldn't send their share of the money to issue the split. Well, it took several months of effort but finally we came up with 100 copies of a tape with 20 minutes or so by each band titled “War Between The States” ( an unrelated comp came out of the South within the year with the same title ).

Steve drew a cover which showed the States of Washington and Oregon arm wrestling if you can imagine that. My brilliant idea was to package the cassette so it could be stocked in stores with 7” records. To accomplish this we collated the 100 copies of the tape we had made each with a random, often scratchy record from the cheap, bulk shopping cart loads of 45’s I purchased often in those days. Marla shrink-wrapped some of them shut with a candle.

As it happened, Marla and I had our house partly incinerated by an arsonist in May of 1983 after we had sold a handful. Few people are around who can claim to have one of these historical treasures, but they should take note of whether they have a copy with sleeve smoke damage or not. Obviously, even though I’m known for hoarding copies of our releases to sell for more $$$ when they become collectable ( which they all have ) I don’t have extras of “War between the States”. We do however have the master tapes of both bands in our vaults.

I’ve communicated with Schickler over the years a time or two and I think Dave Middleton too a few years further back. I think it’s time for me to throw down a challenge here and now for the Limp Richerds to reunite and issue a follow up: a 25th anniversary Volume II “War” in May of 2008. Whaddya think? Should we issue it in cassette form again..with a bogus cd insert? Our songs on the split were the aforementioned “Anti-social disease” “Spilled Brains” and a basement recording of “Deuteronomy on Drugs” plus a wacko, over the top hypnotic live cover of “Joy to the World” by Three Dog Night that simulated a record skip.

The song had appeared if you recall from an earlier chunk of this history on the vinyl “Flies Like Holidays” lp. That had been a well produced, short version. When we performed “Joy To The World” we always beat it to death for about 8 minutes. This version of “Joy” appeared on an e.p. later in the early 90’s “No Royalties No Loyalties”. One of the gimmicks of the band that we’ve almost always stuck to live ( even though we play normal rock and roll songs now for the most part ) is to include at the end of our set a song that has a wild, repetitive, hopefully hypnotic ending.

Bands like the Stooges and the MC5 used this sort of song regularly to name a couple greats. The two best shows I’ve ever seen in my life ended in wild hypnotic melee’s. This was sets by Fats Domino in which the band went ape..half of them walked into the audience still playing...and a Jayne County show in which she ended the set with a revival meeting rock up. WHAT THE FUCK; classy Wrestlers use well chosen finishing moves...we can aspire to have finishing songs can’t we? We’ve used songs like the “Nature Boy” and our Bruiser Brody tribute for this purpose along with “Eyebank account” , “Slow Ride” by Foghat “Rock and Roll all night” by Kiss ( which we gave up because it was getting us over too much attention for the wrong reasons ) and a proto “stoner rock” style 1984 ditty titled “Amphetamine oblivion,Quaalude Interlude”(2014 update: this song has been re recorded and will be appearing on "We're Still Better than You" CD).

In 1983 we added Pat Baum a good solid drummer with a full drumkit to the fold. She was the 2nd of 3 ( so far ) female drummers we’ve had. Marla picked up the bass chores. Eric Larsen and I were both improving as guitar players and we were a very different band than you heard on “Stampeding Cattle” already. We played some shows including a debacle at the Northwest Artists Workshop a few weeks after our housefire in which another arsonist tried to set the building ablaze while we were on stage! Phew.

The police hauled his juvenile ass away. The prick had the audacity years later to give me a hardtime for ratting him out although he didn’t deny what he had done. A better gig was an opening slot on a bill with Lydia Lunch held at an ancient church (?!) I once saw bluegrass King Bill Monroe perform at. During our final song my guitar began to cut out. I couldn’t understand just why ( it turned out to be a distortion unit battery ) and I smashed to pieces on stage a guitar for the first time. Unfortunately it was the only guitar I could play songs like “Puke On My Face” with. It was a cheap $30 instrument, but I had to have the remains bolted on to pieces of another one Marla found for me ( I owned 3 of them at one point ) which eventually was fashioned into my pet weapon...a 5 “G” string guitar I still bring to the studio now and then to give songs an extra bit of oomph.

Armed with a sack of cassettes, Eric Larsen and a drunk named Bill Johnson and I traveled to the bay area in the late Spring of ‘83 to set up another batch of shows. Hardcore had taken the local clubs by the throat. Even though most of our songs were “up tempo” with a few exceptions we often didn’t pass muster to some bookers ears since we weren’t “hardcore”. We didn’t ape the fashions, have a cliché three letter bandname or even consider ourselves “punk rockers” much less “hardcore”.

We were getting a reasonable amount of mail from loners and kooks from around the country, but we weren’t part of any frigging “scene” of bands. This worked against us in the monkey see-monkey do hardcore-by-the-numbers era. Ironically, this is the “golden age” that a lot of aging musicians in their 30’s and 40’s look back upon. It was a 3 year bump in the road for us; another trend to outlast. I’ve got to admit, we did play a good number of shows with hardcore bands and plenty of them were good and sounded unique. We all wound up with plenty of friends who played in hardcore bands. We weren’t at war with them.

The musicians themselves were mostly fine to deal with, it was some of their fans who stunk. You know what I mean, in cities everywhere hundreds of newbie morons coming out to shows caving innocent peoples heads in, in mosh pits. I know plenty of people to whom skanking is a religion of sorts. It was a high point in the young lives of a helluva lot of people I respect. I know plenty of guys in their 30’s and beyond who battle it out in the pit at shows to this day. That’s fine, that’s the reality of the matter. That’s the way things have transpired. Believe me, I appreciate watching the whole physical spectacle from the stage.

I’m into violence and physical banging of heads. The influx of idiots I’m referring to were clowns who likely went on to be sadistic P.E. coaches or prudish blue collar types who never really were into the music and send their kids to Catholic schools. There were huge numbers of them for a few years at shows. They drove off a great number of people who couldn’t tolerate violence. This was a blessing in many individual cases, but a lot of good bands flicked it in too. Hey, I’ve got a prominent lump over one eye permanently pounded on my skull from an elbow I caught at a Black Flag show in the early 80’s.

I got up close my share of times and didn’t run off crying. I’m a damned musician though. I enter through the back door. Whether you the fans bust each others skulls open or dance the frigging mambo or the macarena or have an all out war in the pit between gangs it’s not my call. No, the nostalgic hardcore “golden age” was not the good old days for us. If it was for you, bully on ya. We didn’t pussy out. We’re still here and see tons of violence at shows we play.We’re not nostalgic about the 80’s though. When we made our way down to Cali in the Summer of 1983 things were way the hell different from a year earlier.

Hardcore was King in the clubs we were booked at. I’ve related elsewhere over the years about how this tour got fucked up. If you’ve read it before, well enjoy it again or SUCK MY ASSHOLE. This is vital history. An hour before we left our driveway we were booked to play 2 shows a week apart at the fab Mabuhay Gardens, once with Flipper and once with Social Distortion. We were supposed to travel to Sacramento for a warehouse gig with the F.U.’s from Boston and some other big bands. Then, believe it or not we were supposed to play with 7 Seconds in Reno again with Social Distortion. Clash of styles? Who cares. We drove in a drunken, drug induced haze to San Francisco. I remember taking the helm 3 sheets to the wind driving about 85 MPH. We made it to where we were bunking at a nice big house our pal Joe was living in on Steiner Street.

We made it to the club in one peace, the Mab that is. There we noticed our name wasn’t on the bill of bands. The guy who had booked both our shows at that club had slept with some broad the night before and given her band our spot. They agreed to let us play during a free spaghetti feed. We played and comported ourselves well enough...hey, I have a tape of it. Later the funny White Flag and a Flipper side project the Pillage People played along with others. At the end of the night we were presented a pay envelope of $6.34 by a huge biker with a menacing scowl. I think that’s all the other bands got except for the Flipper spin-off. One more time, WELCOME TO SAN FRANCISCO!

Oh well, we surmised. We still have Sacramento and Reno, right? WRONG. Overnight the clubs and the backup basement venues ( you needed them back in those days) had been busted and closed. We had made all that effort to play those shows and they all went to shit. Well, when the going got tough...what do you think we did? Start crying? HHmm? Well, yeah.

Crying and drinking and consuming LSD ( I almost drove our van down a boat ramp into the bay under the influence ) and weed. This is the sort of test that most bands eventually taste; most fold. How many of you have played in bands that quit in a situation like that? We persevered and managed to turn our frowns upside down. In a nutshell we borrowed equipment and recorded and first 7” e.p. “Profiles in Pain” since we were there and had a couple people ( Pat and Marla ) competent enough to help our buddy Joe with the technical work building an 8 track studio in a basement in a matter of days.

We recorded “When the Roll Is Called Down Under” which features some great “Train kept a rollin’” 2 “E” string rockabilly guitar work by myself, “Most Likely To” an epic slap at high school popularity and “Screwed and Tattooed” a funny nightmare song with a strange twist. When we first released the e.p. ( which also included our first version of “The Frozen dead” recorded live at KBOO in Portland bit later ) we couldn’t give ‘em away. It’s been a collectors item in recent years though. I haven’t sold one for less than $50 since the early 90’s. Fortune smiles on the brave.

Yes we cried and pissed and moaned and got high, but then we buckled down and took the band to the next level. I think I want to back out on that happy note. Just remember, there are survivors who can tough it out for a couple decades and more and there are mollycoddles and pinks who don’t have what it takes. HAAAA HAAAA!! See you next time...DISMISSED. Thee WHISKEY REBEL
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Here is an in-depth Vat bio of the early years: "Puke Spit and Guts" by Marla Vee, which appeared in Carbon 14 issue #12 (Winter '98)Traitors are Everywhere appeared in #13. Phil wrote three columns for Carbon 14 which were his version of the Rancid Vat story. Below is the third column: You Sir are an Asshole which covers events in 1983.
Puke Spit and Guts-The Rancid Vat Story pt 1
By Marla Vee
 
The three early nucleus members of Rancid Vat were all at the same Bowie Concert Feb. 4, 1976, at the Portland Oregon Coliseum. None of us knew each other or had any inkling we would be involved in a cult band that would last (to date) nearly two decades. Phil and I met June of '76, working as door-to-door encyclopedia sales people. We would meet Steve Wilson the fall of '80.

I had wanted to play guitar in a band since I was seven. Despite my parents discouraging words, I bought myself a $20 folk guitar( to them "a toy") when I was 14. My younger brother and I had jam sessions before then with made up instruments. While a freshman in college, I attempted to form a band with some girls also into Bowie. None of them could play very well and we sucked at our first and only practice. My first "performance" was at a college talent show, I played "Stairway to Heaven" with a flute backing me up.

Summer'76: While on the road selling encyclopedias, Phil and I got to know each other, we didn't like each other at all. We each had Bowie albums the other didn't have, so we were nice to each other just to trade. We realized soon enough we had a lot of musical taste in common, and music was very important to both of us.Summer '77: We got married, listened to British punk on our honeymoon, Sex Pistols, Buzzcocks, etc. Got back home to our respectable jobs, and doing the usual young married routine. After three months of it, I felt suicidal.

I knew what would make me happy was an electric guitar. I could hook it up to my stereo until I could afford an amp.I practiced every free moment I had. Fall'78: We traded in Phil's alto sax for a set of drums, and I shelled out $300 for an Ampeg cabinet and a Sunn head. We were ready to rock! Since I had always learned songs by reading sheet music, I had a really hard time figuring things out by ear it was easier to make up riffs.

Fall '79: We moved to a house without a basement, the neighbors were friendly towards us until we started having our marijuana/mushroom induced jam sessions. After three months we moved again, this time to an apartment, to save on heating bills. But we had no practice space. Luckily while going to school part time at Portland State U, Phil met a guitar player who was looking for a band. I bought a cheap bass through the Sears catalog, and figured I'd have a better chance of getting into a band on bass than guitar.

Steve Schram was into Jimi Hendrix and tried to emulate him. We both liked Hendrix a lot too, although we really wanted to play punk. Steve ran the band, he named it after some blues song: "Cloud Particles" we didn't like the name, but who were we to say, he had more experience than us, he also had a practice space in his attic, which was the locale for our first gig.Steve invited a bunch of college friends to the party, they were expecting to hear familiar rock songs. We did "Wild Thing" and one other cover, the rest were originals, one called "Who Really Cares" became a Rancid Vat song "Loser Leave Town".We took a trip to California with Steve, playing our favorite punk tapes, at one point , while the Cramps "Gravest Hits" was on, he was holding his hands over his ears, and claiming that " this music will give him nightmares", we knew from that point, we didn't want to be in a band with him any more.

Spring '80: I drew a cartoon of us playing bass and drums, and stated that we were into "noisy obnoxious music" and looking for a guitar player. Phil hung it up on the student bullentin board at P.S.U. Mike Schuppe called us and we arranged to meet him at a bar near the campus. We liked him and it sounded like we musically had a lot in common. (Most people who called off the ad, didn't have a clue about punk rock, or if they did know about it, didn't consider it real music).We jammed several times with him, but he was technically way too good, and liked stuff more polished than we did, so we decided a band wouldn't work out. We've remained friends since and he played brilliant guitar in Conqueror Worm(with Phil and Jeff Clayton) and with Phil on the Jim Goad project "Big Red Goad"(all truckin' songs).

Fall '79: The first punk show we ever attended, was in Sept. of '79. It was a two night event featuring all Portland punk bands. A young Jerry A was playing bass in a thrown together band that also included the future bass player for Poison Idea, not really a punk band, more of a noise thing. An all girl band called the Neo-Boys(the drummer would eventually drum for Rancid Vat) made me realize that I could play guitar as well as them, and they were one of the tighter bands.I had always been intimidated by guitar gods and even though I had been playing for about seven years, I still didn't feel like I was any good. Another notable band played, The Rats, a three piece featuring the husband and wife team of Fred and Tutti Cole( now "Dead Moon") who owned a music store, and were responsible for helping us and just about every punk band in town buy equipment on credit.

Summer'80: We put up a sign listing our favorite punk bands and this time looking for a bass player. Brad Davidson called us, he was about to turn 17, we were 23, but figured that would be all right. He liked the same bands we did, and had the same experience as us: none. The Spaztics were born. Shortly after we hooked up with him, he moved in with us. I had quit my Sears job, to help Phil with the "boycrew" biz(they sold newspaper subscriptions door to door--he writes about this in Jobjumper).We had moved again, this time to a house in a questionable neighborhood, but with a basement. We had loads of time on our hands and spent several hours a day practicing. We had been together for barely a month when we played our first show. All originals, (snappy Brit punk style) written and sung by the three of us. I think there were about six people there.

Fall '80: One day Phil was in a record store when Steve Wilson came up to him and told him how much he dug our band and couldn't get one song out of his head: "Life is Fun in the Soviet Union", after talking for a while Phil invited him over to our house for some beers. We liked the same music and Phil and Steve wound up spending hours playing war board games. Steve had a band with some friends, but they hadn't made it out of the basement, after meeting his friends, it was pretty obvious they never would, they were total losers.

FALL'80: The room was great, but due to petty jealousies in "the scene" most people were boycotting The Urban Noize , which was run by a couple, Fred and Ronnie. Phil and I got to be good friends with them, they liked our band, and gave us lots of great shows, we opened for: Black Flag, D.O.A., Really Red, and loads of other legendary punk bands. Most of the Portland punk bands hated us. We broke up on stage after three months, Brad went onto play with Greg Sage and the Wipers shortly after that.(The Wipers were a cut above the other Portland bands, had more records out, and Greg had been playing in bands before punk rock. He played on the wrestler Beautiful Beauregard's album( we covered "Testify" on RulebreakersRule and 31 Flavors of Hostility).

Phil played drums in a short lived band with Joe Hornoff. We really liked Joe, he was incredibly smart, a little on the square side though, Phil gave him his first beer.(Years later Joe thanked us for "saving" him). After their band broke up, the three of us formed an instrumental surf band. Joe was only 17 but an accomplished guitar player, so I played bass. We recorded a few songs in our living room which was released about 10 years later as "Rumpus Room". We had a set worked up, but decided we really didn't want to go out and be a people friendly band(wrestling speak: fan favorites).

WINTER '81: New years Eve '81, Steve was ringing in the new year with us, he and Phil had been playing war games, after tiring of them, broke out the Ouija board. We had been talking about names for a band, so they started by asking for one, it spelled out " A Rancid Vat", I was writing everything down. Then they asked for some song titles, it quickly spelled out ten( most of which eventually were recorded, somewhere we have this list). Then they started asking questions about who was giving us this information, and it spelled out "Sue" and after a few more questions, it was determined that "Sue" had died in a car crash.

New Years Day is always really boring to us, so we had Steve over for a jam session. Just for the hell of it, we each played instruments we couldn't play.well). I played drums(a floor Tom and a cymbal), Phil guitar and Steve bass. We came up with "Go to work", a song inspired by me working at the torture chamber known as UPS. We taped the whole thing, it's lost somewhere in our archives. Even though Steve had jammed with us, and we had a lot of fun, we weren't sure if we wanted to do a band with him. He couldn't play any instruments, and I hated his singing voice.A month previous he had come over and tried singing a new song Phil had written called "Ballad of Brigham Young". I thought he was awful. It took me two years of being in a band with him before I grew to respect his vocals.

For what ever reason, Fred and Ronnie moved the club to another location. I guess it was bigger and cheaper rent. But they were having money troubles and decided to throw a benefit to pay the rent. Ronnie asked me if the band(played one time) we did with Mike Schuppe called "The Leper Colony" would play, I told her we were broken up, but we had a new band called "A Rancid Vat" and we would do it.We hadn't even rehearsed, after I committed us to play it we decided who would be in the band with us. The day of the show, the bass player from Phil and Joe's band, said he couldn't do it, he was sick or something, so we had Joe come over for a 45 minute rehearsal. We would play two songs that would last for a total of 25 minutes. I played drums, and Phil guitar, we had each played these instruments for about a month. Joe was a competent bass player.I vocalized ala Yoko Ono on the first song, "Go To Work".

Phil and I switched instruments, he leaned the guitar against the amp so it would feed back, during which, we heard shouts from the crowd "hang 'em", a formerly packed club, was now pretty empty. We didn't care, we launched into the jam song "Rancid Vat" with us both making up lyrics as we went.After playing that show I had the feeling of being "cleansed." It felt so much better to piss people off than try to please them. We knew this was it. People either hated us or loved us, nobody was indifferent. We had a couple people from other bands come up to us and tell us how much they liked it. Nobody in Portland was doing anything like this. None of us really like "singing" and Phil suggested that we get Steve Wilson to join. He had to really convince me, but I eventually gave in.

Steve had a notebook full of lyrics. I admired his writing skills, he could really crank out the songs. Phil and I could really crank out the music, it didn't take long at all to have the ten songs the Ouija board gave us written. The first show we did with Steve was in March of '81 at the Alternative Artist Association' club: Clockwork Joe's.These were the pretentious assholes that had been boycotting the Urban Noize , that whole thing had blown over by this point, especially since the Noize had closed down for good. I was mostly on drums, but we still switched instruments, it was loud, noisy and the tape we have from it even Phil and I can't listen to it. After that show, the general consensus by the ruling Portland bands was that we were a joke and not even really a band.

Funny thing is that NONE of those bands are still around, having broken up many years ago.The next show about a month later, went a lot better, we were more together, I had gone back to the simplistic drum kit of a floor tom, and a cymbal. We played at a bar that featured New Wave and occasional punk bands. The audience was actually into us, we booked another show there. The club changed owners before we were to play. Phil and Steve went to talk to them about whether they still wanted us.They were a little surprised to walk into a gay S&M bar, with guys french kissing on the pool table. But not so shocked that they didn't want to play there, after all punk rock was about being open minded about things that shocked mainstream America. The manager asked them what kind of music we played, they told him it was "danceable".

The only people there to see us, were friends Eric Larsen and Mike Schuppe. The club manager was nice enough at first, and then we started playing...he asked if we knew any Janis Joplin songs, we didn't, he started getting irate with us. He asked us to turn the amps down, "crank it down" he repeated, we soon realized that the amps were almost off and we were still "too loud" . We had played for about 10 minutes, and he threatened that if we weren't out of there in five minutes there'd be 40 leather clad men with flashlights to take care of us. We could take a hint, and were out the door in record breaking time.Ironically, this incident made fans for us. An acquaintance, who wrote for a free weekly, reported the whole thing with the slant that the gay club was not cool, and should have been more tolerant, since they expect that from the straight world.

Spring '81: With all the punk clubs shut down, a huge rock club, Euphoria Tavern, owner decided there was enough interest in punk that he would have Mondays as open mike night, which was pretty funny because he would book all types of bands on the same night. One time we were sandwiched with suburban metal bands, they all had 20 piece drum kits, and did Judist Priest covers, we got up there with our three piece drum kit. They laughed at us as much as we laughed at them.We actually got along with the owner, so we played there several times. Most of the songs were at the average length of about 8 minutes going from one song to the next. By this point we had also added Eric Larsen as "Utility Man", he had all sorts of electronic musical toys (Stylusphone, Sound Gizmo, and a small Casio keyboard)hooked up to an amp.

Phil didn't know (and didn't care ) how to play traditional chords, so he made up his own, he used feedback instead of musical notes. He'd lean the guitar against the amp, letting it feedback, while he'd guzzle large quantities of beer out of the pitcher. After he was done with the pitcher, he'd throw it out into the audience.Steve was getting good at trading barbs with the audience. One time, the place was full of cowboys and their girlfriends, and a woman ran up to the front of the stage, her face contorted with rage, she was screaming at us: "You can't play, get off the stage, you can't fucking play!!" Steve responded: "Fuck you, you can't play either!"

We loved pissing people off, it gave us a great feeling to see the place clear out, we knew we had ruined many people's evenings. Imagine these "rock heads" coming out to see some Journey type band and seeing a total noise band like A Rancid Vat. They thought we were from Mars, we hated those people.We were playing noise on traditional rock instruments.We were too punk rock for the art crowd and too arty for the punk crowd. They were both jealous of how we could stir up an audience. We were slowly building our own fans most of them in bands themselves. We recorded just about every show we ever did there, and still have the tapes.

Winter of 81: We had gotten to be good friends with the people in Smegma, they had been around since the mid seventies, starting out in South Pasadena, CA.. and hadn't caved into commercialism, we respected them. They appreciated the fact that we didn't really fit in either.

Stampeding Cattle LP : We were itching to record and they offered the studio in their basement to us for $50(not wanting to be labeled as capitalist) to buy heating oil. Not only that, they offered to have it come out on their label "Pigface Records". It was a 4-track reel-to-reel deck and a small mixing board, in a sound booth they had built. Mike Lastra was the engineer (who has had his own studio since the mid 80's and recorded many of our releases. By the early 90's he was recording respectable bands, some who went on to the charts -- Everclear comes to mind) He and his helper told us what to do.

We had already figured out that we would have to trim the songs from 8 minutes to about 4, if we were to fit all of the ones we wanted onto the LP.Many were the titles given to us by the Ouija board, such as "Hot Cages in Vietnam Rattle" one of the best lyrics Steve ever wrote. Another inspired by an incident in Mike Schuppe's party days: "(I woke up this morning with)Puke on My Face". It was highly suggested that we change the title of "Why Didn't Hitler Win" to "Renting a Room in a Mental Hospital."Another Ouija board title: "Cranium Casserole", a song about writing a song, which I wrote, sang, and played a disco bass riff. I didn't have the lyric sheet so had to do the song by memory and forgot two of the verses. When we mixed it, we screwed up then ending so I suggested we make it sound like a record was being spun around by hand, which was accomplished by doing that to the tape.

All of us were really sick, many of us with high fevers. Just about everything was recorded on the first take. The only song we still perform from that album is "Ballad of Brigham Young". The album title came from a line in the song Lack of Inspiration (a reworked Spaztics song): "take a guarded gassy whiff of our raunchy rancid riff, it'll make your limbs go stiff, stampede cattle over cliffs." While typing out the credit sheet, "inspired by enemies" popped into my head. More than a catchy phrase it was(and still is) reality for the band.

Summer'82: Stampeding Cattle was finally released. We didn't have any money to promote it though. We were able to send out a handful of copies which got good reviews. The guy who wrote the "Sub-Pop" column for the Seattle zine "The Rocket"(Bruce Pavitt)said we were a cult band...another reviewer described us as being "Torture artists instead of Tortured artists" we loved that one.We used the Smegma house as the address and found out years later that a jealous member of Smegma kept our mail.

Somehow we scraped up enough gas money to tour, we sent out demo tapes to all the clubs in San Francisco. Through Joe, who was going to school in Berkeley now, helped us get three shows, one being at the infamous On Broadway , located in S.F's red light district.When we got to the club, the owner: Dirk Dirkson, goes up to Steve and says: "you sir, are an asshole" . Evidently the fact that we needed to borrow drums had caused him aggravation. He booked us because he like the "bestiality song"(Brigham Young). We played to a huge audience who's reception was icy, they were too cool to like a band from Portland.

Someone threw a penny at Phil and snapped a guitar string, Phil turned around to signal us to launch into the ultra noise fest "Death Train". We were pissed at these Frisco cocksuckers, and declared war on them. That was the turning point in the show, then they really liked what we were doing.

We opened for S.F. band the "Toiling Midgets", although I liked their sound, they thought they were too cool, and never spoke a word to us. Portland bands were looked down upon in California as being hicks.The next show was at The Sound of Music in the Tenderloin District. The alley we loaded in through reeked of of piss. One of the other bands on the bill, a Journey look-a-like , took one look at the club, without even loading in and went back to their suburban haven in Marin County. This show was attended by just a handful of people. We couldn't even borrow any drums, only a cheesy drum machine.We were staying in a roach infested hotel in the heart of S.F., so we were at least able to walk around and enjoy the city. We still had one show left, at the Club Generic, Joe took us to a party there the night before we were to play. It was packed with trendies. We thought the show would have a good turn out. A local college radio station gave tickets away, good thing they did, because the couple that won them and Joe, were the only ones there. They felt sorry for us and bought us beer.

Joe came home for summer break, and played with us a couple of times, one was at a gay all ages club, The Met. We recorded a show there that was later released as a cassette "War Between the States"(split with "The Limp Richerds" of Seattle, a pre- Mudhoney band) only had enough money to have a 100 made.The other notable show he did with us, was at Dammasch State Mental Hospital( where One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest was filmed), we played with Smegma, who had played there before. They went on first, and lasted about 15 minutes before being driven off. Then it was our turn, we also lasted only about 10-15 minutes, as while we were playing, a patient was systematically picking up folding chairs and smashing each one against the wall where they had been lined up, he did this to about a half dozen before the interns stopped him then us.

After the show, one guy told Steve we made his head hurt and that because of us they were late for their Thorazine doses, as we were loading out, they were lining up.We talked Pat(who's band the Neo- Boys had just broken up) into drumming for us. At first she brought a lot to the band, she gave us credibility, had worked as a live sound technician, had a cassette duplicating business and a lot of friends who could help us out. When she joined the band, she was the best musician, when we parted ways, she was a weak link, and eventually turned traitor.

Winter 82: With a permanent drummer, I went to playing bass full time,and Eric to rhythm guitar. We also changed our song writing approach. Songs were shorter, and much more structured, using only 3 or 4 chords. The rhythm section built a solid foundation, using simple melodic bass lines and a mid-tempo back beat.Phil was learning barre chords and was coming up with leads based on surf, rock-a-billy and R&B, he had more control over using feedback. This style we created was later popularized by Seattle grunge and alternative bands in the late 80's, but when we were doing it the hard-core audiences were shouting for us to "play something fast!".

The Hardcore days were the Great Depression for us.A typical Vat show started out doing few familiar short songs, then we'd hit a preplanned chaotic song and let things go wild, and always end up in ways we didn't expect. That's the way we do shows to this day. It's The Rancid Vat way!

We were in a song writing frenzie, I had heard about famous artists who claimed they did their best work while starving. It's true. We were definitely starving, our "bank account" was in the bottle deposits we'd get back from the beer bottles piled in our living room, I'd get a dollar and change and buy a sack of potatoes or refried beans and tortillas, when we had no money, living on Mars candy bars,(sometimes 12 a day!) I got coupons for free ones from left over sample newspapers. (It never crossed our minds to get food stamps).

Lack of money put all of us in a depressed state, Steve had been laid off from his job too,(he lived on Hostess fruit pies) the economy in Portland was really bad during the early to mid '80's. But we had a lot of fun anyway. Punk bands never even thought of getting signed and making a lot of money, it was a masochistic proposition to play punk rock back then, now it's a viable career option.We spent every night drinking,(if it came to drinking, eating or paying the electric bill, drinking would always win out) either bringing our 40's (40 ounce bottles of beer, the most economical way to drink)to each other's house, or going to our favorite watering hole "Charlie Brown's", where they served very strong drinks at cheap prices. "Potter's and Water" for a $1.10, I could get smashed for five bucks. We were in there so much that the bar maid was worried we were turning into Alkie's, she warned us about "D.T.'s" and really tried to discourage us from coming in there so often.

It was during these drinking sessions that a lot of our song ideas and band philosophy came together. This was when we wrote so many songs, that there were several that never even made it to the studio, although we have some as live recorded versions. Phil came up with a lot of song titles for Steve to write lyrics to. Steve always carried his spiral note pad around, and would show us his latest ideas, we'd help by adding and rephrasing lines.The Profiles in Pain title and sleeve concept was thought up by Phil, he was the best for figuring out the big picture. He couldn't draw, but he gave Steve the idea for the comic on the back of Profiles in Pain. He came up with the titles and concepts for Burger Belsen and RuleBreakers Rule.The songs on Profiles started out as bass riffs that Phil heard me playing, and helped me put them together, then he'd have a guitar riff to add to it, and Steve would throw out some lyrical ideas to us and we'd say whether we thought they'd fit or not. In the early days he was really wordy, and his phrasing was kind of awkward. By the time Profiles in Pain was recorded that had improved.

Spring '83: We finally got to play some great shows, one that stands out was opening for Lydia Lunch. We were all pretty wasted when we went on, during the first song I didn't even know where I was. At the end of the show, the battery died in Phil's distortion peddle which pissed him off and he smashed the only guitar he's ever been able to play "Puke on My Face" on.

May '83, an arsonist set our house on fire, we lost a couple of amps. We had just picked up the box of "War Between the States" cassettes which were luckily packaged with 7" plastics, and escape water damage, on the sleeves you can still see a little bit of soot.Two weeks after our house fire, there's a fire at a party we're at. A week after that someone tries to set a hall we're playing at on fire. Within the same month, there's a small fire at a gas station mini-mart we were at, and then a house in the new neighborhood we had to move to catches fire.On top of all the fires, we were scheduled to play a lunch show at Portland State U. with a band we considered our friends, The Miracle Workers, we would be paid $80 which was exactly what we owed Pat for the cassettes. They told us they didn't want to play with us, because we'd "taint their name".

Phil and Eric went to see them play, and Phil spit a huge mouth full of M&M's in the singer's face. To make things worse, we thought we had money coming back from the IRS, and instead we owed them money. With all this going on my therapy was to write music that eventually became, "Force Fed" on "Rancid Vat Justice", and "Premature Ejaculator" on "Burger Belsen".SUMMER '83 " Phil and Eric went on a expedition to Northern Cal. and Reno to see about booking shows for us. When they came back, I followed up with many long distance phone calls, finalizing a tour for the first week of August. Right before we left, I called every place that had booked us and everything was set.

The first place was in San Francisco at the legendary Mabuhay Gardens aka "Fab Mab" , we got to the club only to see our name wasn't on the bill. Evidently the booker got laid the night before and had given our spot away to another band. Finally Phil and Steve persuaded him to let us play and had to write our name themselves on the poster hanging on the door. We were only allowed 20 minutes. Things went pretty well and the crowd that was there was into it. There were a couple of other out of town bands, including White Flag , but the band that made all the money was a thrown together band with Flipper's drummer, the Pillage People. I think we got $11, they got $800.We were staying in San Francisco with Joe in an apartment that was as big as a lot of houses, it even had a basement.

The next day we were getting ready to hit the road, I made my calls. The clubs in Sacramento and Reno had been closed down by the Fire Marshall. The only show we had left was in one week at the Fab Mab.The guys were sitting around Joe's house staring at the walls and feeling very depressed. Pat and I made the best of being in S.F. and walked to Chinatown. Joe had mentioned something about us using the 8-track Fostex in the basement, he could get us microphones and a mixing board too. Pat had worked in recording studios so she could do the technical side. On our walk we talked about how we should do whatever it took to put together a studio. The only problem recording there, it wasn't soundproofed.

When we got back, we scrounged around the basement and found old carpet and pieces of plywood, within a couple hours we had the place sound proofed. The next day we got the mixing board and she hooked everything up. Phil, Steve and Eric couldn't believe that we got the studio up and running so fast. As soon as we started recording everybody's mood changed.

The three songs we did there ended up on "Profiles in Pain", our most collectible and critically acclaimed 7". Total recording cost: approximately $10... the cost of the tape. We didn't play the Mab again, didn't even call the bastards. We didn't need their piece of shit club, which is now long gone.

Winter '83: We opened for the little known "Butthole Surfers" , they were very energetic, something they definitely were not when I saw them in '88. Before they went on we were all hanging out with them in the dressing room, watching Gibby get clothes pins put in his hair, the gimmick was as soon as they started playing he was swinging his head back and forth to make them fly out. It was the best show I ever saw them do.

We played a live radio show on KBOO in Portland, trying to raise money for the station. We got a great live recording out of it. We used "The Frozen Dead" to fill out the 'B' side for "Profiles in Pain" . We 've had some labels talk about putting out the whole radio show, but it hasn't happened yet. Several songs from that never made it to vinyl. I found out I was pregnant.

SPRING / SUMMER '84: We found the picture for the Profiles in Pain sleeve in an old crime book, I spent a week at Kinko's enlarging and adjusting the contrast to get the right look. Steve drew the comic strip on the back, we borrowed a stamper and numbered each one of the 500 pressed. It's significant too that we weren't playing fast, herky jerk hardcore--we were unique in our mid-tempo approach.The rest of the world to this day has failed to credit us properly--all the bands (alternative/grunge)eventually sounded like us!! We didn't come around to the rest of the world's way, they came around to us. Phil's "look" in 1984 became popular in the '90's. He had a goatee, rockabilly hair and black frame glasses back then. There's been so many bands and music styles we liked and then they got popular and they were ruined for us.

May '84:"Profiles in Pain" released. Last record released under the Pigface label. We do a show with Smegma and Minimal Man, Lastra video tapes it, I'm five months pregnant(a few of these songs are on the video spanning '84-'92 we later released called "Self-Service Slaughterhouse") Out of vanity and the fact I don't like being around people drinking and getting high when I'm on the straight and narrow, I decide this is my last show until the baby's born in September. I spend a lot of time sending promo copies and filling mail orders for "Profiles".

The band doesn't waste anytime replacing me.Phil and Steve call up Brad Davidson, and have him fill in. While I'm on maternity leave, Phil and Steve are the total brains of the band, everyone else was struggling to keep up. They were writing really great songs at this point, for the upcoming lp that would eventually be named "Burger Belsen". The song Deeds of the Damned has since been covered by two bands out of North Carolina( Antiseen and Seducer). One song that was a favorite that Phil pretty much wrote, "Rock n Roll Party Patrol" was for a while the working title because there was so many sleeve art possibilities.The Wipers weren't touring so Brad and Greg come over to our apartment on a regular basis to watch WWF on USA.

Phil's interest in wrestling intensifies( he had been into wrestling since he was a kid). We had been doing Beauregard's "Testify" and Phil's wrestling song "Low Blow" live for about a year. They start rehearsing Fred Blassie's "Pencil Neck Geek". Greg was excited about the Vat doing wrestling songs. The friendship develops to a point that Greg wants to produce an album for the band.They play the "Op Festival" in Olympia WA. with Eugene Chadborn, Beat Happening and Mykel Board. The biggest show for them was when the band was all male, (as Pat was away in New York for the summer) opening for the Dead Kennedy's, and the Authorities.

"Under My Wheels" was recorded at that show and used on a comp of Portland bands called "City of Thorns". Most of the bands on there really suck, Mystic never even gave us a copy of the record, Phil had to go buy one.FALL 84. September: Elvis was born. Phil had been hanging out at Pig Champion's house for the past year, watching every Elvis Presley movie, reading bios, etc..So at Pig's urging, Phil insisted we name our son Elvis Aron. Pig considered himself Elvis's godfather.

An eight track studio was set up at Pat's house. Greg is producing, I hadn't played with the band in months, so they go with Brad on bass. I played guitar on two songs.They had to do 20 takes on some songs because Pat kept fucking up. Enough material was recorded for the Burger Belsen LP and RuleBreakers Rule EP. Greg played accoustic guitar on the Freddie Blassie classic "Pencil Neck Geek", guitar on "Testify"(since he didn't get to play on Beauregard's version) and at Phil's urging, he and Pig Champion do a guitar battle on Presley tribute "Trouble".I was back in the band, barely recovered, luckily Brad is still playing bass, we have three guitars, I was so weak, there were times during our show I thought I was going to faint. The show was loud and wild.

The job situation in Portland still sucked, we decide to move to prosperous Seattle, Phil had a job offer with the inventory company he had been working for . We tried to convince Steve to move also, he talks about how much he hates Portland. We vow to keep the band going, but focus more getting the records we just recorded out.

Current line up of Rancid Vat w/ BOW's Cowboy James Claxton March 2014. Right to left: Vladibeer Reebs, Cowboy, Bacardi Kid, The Whiskey Rebel, Marilyn El Merciful and Marla Vee.

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