Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Punk Rock nicknames and the continuing saga of Idiots Revenge

What was your Punk nickname? Post yours in the comment section below. 

(Special Thanks to Jill Razer for the nickname research) 
I’m not quite sure where the concept came from that punk rockers needed some sort of nickname. Sometimes people choose their own, but more often than not, they were bestowed upon you. There were the obvious ones like “Spike” of Idiots Revenge because of his spiky hair. Denver’s show promoters had them too: “Headbanger” was an alias Tom used for his fanzine Rocky Mountain Fuse and the name just sort of stuck when people found out. Jill “Razer” said she got hers at a Ramones or Pretenders concert at the Rainbow Music Hall “from this dude and his lesbian friend. They gave me two nicknames: ‘Bertha Earth’ because I lived in Berthoud and ‘Razer Face.’ Fuck if I know why. I thought Bertha Earth was too new wave and Razer Face I didn’t care for, but I liked the Razer part so I adopted it.”  Mike “Brew” basically shortened Brewer.
I was eventually given one in ninth grade, Bob Rob. Mine came about as a necessity for differentiation.  Things tended to get confusing between Rob Wallach and myself.  Two Robs at the same school in the same grade playing in the same band simply could not go on any further. In our circle of friends this all came to a point of contention in the school’s library one afternoon. Rob and I were sitting at a table with an older punker, Mike Lee from Uberfall, and he had come up with a couple of names for me to choose from: Rhino Clit or Bob Rob. I opted for the latter even though the first was a bit edgier. Besides, I didn’t think many people were going to call me Rhino Clit. So Bob Rob it was and the rest of Idiots Revenge thought it would be appropriate to have a song immortalizing my new moniker:
Bob Rob (lyrics: Mark Putt and Ken Neubert)
Bob Rob is a real nice guy
He’ll cut your throat but he won’t cry.
He'll beat you until you're black and blue
But those aren't things he'd like to do.

Bob is bad, Bob is good
He’ll be your friend if you want him to
Bob Rob is a real nice guy
He has no friends we can’t say why.
Bob is big and Bob is bad
And Bob is really awfully mean
Bob is always in control but
Touch him off he will blow

Bob Rob-could care less-of who-you are.
Bob Rob-just wants-his bass-guitar.
With Jimmy off to Alabama, Mark, Spike, and I started to wonder if he was going to come back. It felt sort of strange that someone I talked with on a daily basis for nearly three years was suddenly gone though we were officially on restriction from one another after the kitchen spice-smoking incident. His dad did allow him to make an official call or two from the deep South, that and a couple of letters were our few times communicating. I got most of his updates from his girlfriend Nixon (Michelle) who I talked with on occasion.  Because of her fucked-up home situation, she stayed over at my parents house now and then while things cooled down at her house. This naturally made Jimmy feel a little awkward, though nothing ever happened between Nixon and I, other than lending an ear and safe place to stay for a friend in need. Through all of this my parents were very understanding, because they had in the past temporarily adopted family members who needed some extra help getting back on their feet.

One of the lamest fliers ever made, thanks Brew!

Jimmy returned several months later and decided that Idiots Revenge should move on without him. The band turned into a three piece with Mark and I taking over singing duties. We continued writing new material and landed a couple of shows thanks to Brew who was booking shows at the Grove: an over 18 gothic venue that served 3.2 beer. Colorado was one of the only states where eighteen year-olds could legally buy beer with 3.2% alcohol.  Think of it as a transitional period, baby-steps to the future world of full-service bars. Our first show as a threesome was opening for Ante Bellum and Brother Rat. While Mark and Spike were of age, I wasn’t. There was a strict state policy where I had to obtain a work permit to play such a venue through my school. This meant I had to walk into the school office during summer hours to get the sheet of paper, have an official at school sign it, then ask my parents to do the same all in the name of punk rock. It worked. I showed up to the club, handed over the paper, and with a stamp on my hand, I was good to go. One of the conditions of the permit was that once we finished our set I was to load out and couldn’t come back in. The way around such nonsense was to move the equipment offstage and pack out at a snail’s pace. At least I got to catch most of Brother Rat’s set but missed Ante Bellum entirely. Brew liked us enough to put us on another bill, this time with the disco band, Solid Motion! We never quite figured that one out. I remember him being disappointed with the low turnout. Brew occasionally had a strange habit of matching weird bills including gothic with metal bands with punk bands. That was how we rolled in Denver; no one blinked an eye billing an industrial band like Human Head Transplant and a street punk oi band like Uberfall.  
Made with a "borrowed" pen from school.

Mark and I decided that neither of us wanted to sing fulltime and embarked on finding a fourth member. We tried out a couple of vocalists, including a guy named Tom Vanderbeak from way out in Littleton. It took him about two hours to get to practice on public transportation since he didn’t own a car. He had a shaved head with the tiniest spiked patch of hair that closely resembled a golf tee. He stayed for dinner one evening and my dad asked him if he liked to play golf. One of Tom’s hobbies included dropping acid, which was apparent after having a short conversation with him.  
My brother Tom left this illustration at the house when he was on leave. I felt the need to reappropriate it. 

Prior to our Grove shows in the summer of ‘85, Spike joined another band, Basic Black made-up of Big John who had recently left Uberfall, the newly arrived Toledo Pat who had a brother in Denver and wanted to escape the Midwest summer heat of Ohio, and Jet Black (Bart). This meant that we would have to change practice spaces again to Pat’s brother’s house. We basically toured the property, starting in the dining room, then moving to the basement and finally the shed. Spike would usually endure back-to-back band rehearsals. Big John often stuck around and perhaps out of sympathy to our plight as a struggling band, offered to become our new front man on the condition that we adopt a stylistic change in our brand of music. His idea was that we should expand on our tongue-and-cheek approach, something that would be less of an inside joke in exchange for songs that were lyrically more biting and universally offensive to bum out all elements of the scene. We all felt that punk was taking itself too seriously and bands that mocked serious issues were few and far between. He wanted to pick up where his former band, The Strap-On Dicks from California left off, which included rewriting some of their material to make it ours. Thus our brand of Idiot Rock was born.  To be continued.
"ok, we're going to take one of the Uberfall songs I wrote 'oi Uberfall' play it backwards real slow and pretty. We're going to call it 'Little Girls' and people will like it. 

To hear an Idiots Revenge practice from the summer of 1985, click here.
Special thanks to Ana Medina and Monica Zarazua for editing 

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