The Philly years: 1994-2002.
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.
You can add HTML directly into this element to render on the page.
Just edit this element to add your own HTML.
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 Biography
"Inspired by enemies"