Thursday, May 29, 2014

The final days of Idiots Revenge.

This post is a continuation from Part 1 and Part 2
With Big John fronting Idiots Revenge we were starting to play out more regularly thanks to his fine-tuned networking skills. John had the charm and charisma people naturally gravitated plus the mindset that would always be scheming some sort of new plot to push the envelope. He would think up an absurd idea and go for it. We would jokingly call him a band slut and he proudly embraced the title. By the time he joined Idiots Revenge he had already been in handful of bands, most notably Uberfall. By the summer of 1985 he was simultaneously playing in several groups: Idiots Revenge, Basic Black, Horrorshow, and his noise project, Control Corp.

Denver has always had a love affair with industrial music and experimenting with sounds as a form of art. Back in the early to mid 80’s it was common for people in the scene to play both in a punk rock band and with a group that explored and challenged the conventions of music. I remember in the early 80’s hearing about the Festival of Pain-an evening of experimental art/music. Denver was becoming notorious for its’ underground art and experimental music scene that featured the likes of: Human Head Transplant, KIA, and Control Corp.

Basic Black was the more palatable twin of Idiots Revenge. Big John and Spike were the shared members. Spike was content playing drums in both bands, but Big John admittedly always had a hankering to sing. Toledo Pat was Denver’s new kid on the block hailing from Ohio. He initially came to spend a couple of weeks on his brother’s couch during the summer, but stayed about six months. Pat was a lefty and played a right-handed guitar upside down restrung. When he plugged it in, he got it to wail haunting and eerie feedback that shook the walls of our practice space. Perhaps his musical inclinations were born from the womb of the darkest cornfield tucked away somewhere in the Midwest. Bart went under the moniker Jet as in jet-black and assumed vocal duties. In mentioning Jet, what I really mean to imply is, Jet and Holly. The pair, for all intent and purposes, was Denver’s lite version of Sid and Nancy. At the time, the two were sewn at the hip.

A nice Toledo Pat flier. 

Pat’s brother rented a house near Denver University and was kind enough to let us tour the property. We rehearsed in the basement, living room, and finally a converted shed. I guess his brother’s roommates had enough of the bands taking over the house and voted us off the island and into a space several steps out the back door. 
At one point during the summer Basic Black and Idiots Revenge weren’t the only bands to lay residence at Pat’s brother’s house. Big John’s other aspiring goth/rock/punk band, Horrorshow claimed the dining room. I thought this was sort of amazing since no one in the band had any connections to Pat’s brother. Horrorshow was the type of group that performed a sound check before rehearsals. The rest of us thought this was odd considering no one touched the equipment, was a sound check really necessary? We were certain that when the band showed up for practice, they were dressed-up like they were ready to play a show. Their discipline paid off as they were tight and produced a tuneful polished brand of goth punk: make-up, torn clothing and all.
Denver's cutest couple: Mark and Robbin from Horrowshow.
When John joined Idiots Revenge he convinced us to ditch most of our songs and write a whole new crop of tunes that had a bite. He coined the term Idiot Rock and wrote lyrics with the intent of being an equal opportunity offender. John was a vegetarian, yet sang about eating 10-cent dogs from the local supermarket, King Soopers that indeed sold hot dogs for ten cents. He even threw in the line “Just imagine porky pig in a bun-not even hungry just eating for fun. Free mustard and ketchup on boiled weenies I don’t care if Kevin calls me a meanie” referring to Kevin Vulture (O’Day) from Dead Silence. The song even started off mocking Institutionalized by Suicidal Tendencies “…all I wanted was a hotdog and she wouldn’t give it to me!” and ended with the sincerity of Ian MacKay: “I got a dollar I’m going to buy ten, if I get hungry I’ll just go back again. If I find a dime you’ll know where I’ll be, just munching on that hotdog that I got for free. All full of protein they gotta be good. Makes-me so happy to eat the things I should.”

Scot and Skitz birthday bash near the Happy Church. Chris Clayton made the flier and gave us the happy face at the bottom like a footnote. He handed it to me laughing. Basic Black didn't play because Toledo Pat packed his bags and took a bus back to Ohio. There was a show review in an issue of NADA fanzine (RIP Roxanne) and we weren't mentioned. Idiots Revenge sort of went under the radar to kindly put it. I wrote NADA a letter and was published in the next issue. I mentioned that in order to review a show you first have to go see it. 
The mockery didn’t end there. No X On My Hand went after the straightedge phenomenon. John serenated and professed his love to a waist-high plastic doll with Little Girls, which was really an Uberfall song played backwards, pretty and slow. John even dedicated Not My Fault, “Stop your bitchin’ get back into the kitchen…” to our feminist friends in ASF and Anarchy Annie who published the fanzine Archy-Type Morality. In one of her last issue she wrote: “Idiots Revenge rules Denver.” The rest of our set was made up of songs ranging from serial killer Ed Gein to Archie Bunker to local furniture gurus Jake Jabs and Gary Levine. We were serious about our joking.

8 Flights Up were a last minute last minute addition to a show we played at Norman's. The members (Jon, Steph, Perry, and Todd) were a super cool positive group on individuals recent transplants from the east coast. The reciprocated the favor by adding us to their show a couple of weeks later.  
By May of 1986, the band had ran its’ course, it was time to call it quits before the jokes got stale. Our last gig was opening for the UK Subs at Norman’s. The show highlighted the fact that we never got to open for a national touring band in our three plus years. And to play our final show with the granddaddy of punk rock, literally, vocalist Charlie Harper was well into his fifties that evening. It was a nice way to politely bow out. There was no catalyst for us to end; we just stopped playing. Spike eventually left Denver and became a tattoo artist in the Seattle area. Mark is still in Denver and does a music-comedy routine: The Mark Putt Explosion, you should check him out. Big John continues creating new monikers and touts himself something former Soviet sounding on his Facebook page. He’s a printmaker and teaches outside of Portland. Yours truly is typing this out in Ethiopia with a day gig teaching art.
Our final show with the UK Subs. After our set, I had to drive my friend Wednesday home, missing Horroshow 
Early Bob Rob compter art. In Art class at school we had the opportunity to spend a period in the computer lab. I made a skull with liberty spikes.  
Our set list from the UK Subs show. We played two new songs Autopsy and At The River plus a cover of the Rolling Stones' As Tears Go By. 

Random memories of being in Idiots Revenge:

• To set the record straight, Flye’s brother Nate wrote the lyrics for 10-Cent Dogs, someone should seriously cover it.

• In 2006, Toledo Pat flew out to San Diego to spend a week with me. We enlisted a couple of people I was playing music with and had a not so true Idiots Revenge/Basic Black reunion show. Pat and I figured our action would be an ironic comment since many old punk bands were reforming at the time with only half original members. We took it a step further in that we’d played to an audience and in a city that had no context or connection to the music. Call it our postmodern art statement.

• After the Wild West Show on KGNU fizzled out, a guy named Vanzetti (Tom) took over the time slot with his program, Smash It Up. One Saturday night he showcased Colorado bands. I sent him a tape of three live songs recorded from a ghetto blaster to play on the air. The vocals were faint and he jokingly made the comment that we didn’t have a singer and were looking for one. He announced my phone number over the air and within a few minutes I got a call from a 14 –year old girl who went by the name of Wednesday Divine. We talked for a couple of hours that night and spent a great deal of energy trying to convince me that she was going to be our new vocalist. The pestering followed the week after. We eventually became friends and she convinced me to date best friend Morticia. Julie aka Wednesday Divine is still a dear friend to this day.

• At a show in Boulder, my amp finally died mid-set. While we were borrowing another band’s amp, Big John asked if there was anyone in the audience with a harmonica. One guy stepped forward and they jammed on an improvised quasi Bob Dylan type of song. Dear reader, this occurred more than once, you’d be surprised how many people would bring a harmonica to a punk show.

• While we were rehearsing in my garage one afternoon, one of the neighborhood boys from across the street decided to use us as target practice with his BB Gun successfully shooting Mark in the arm.
• Confession time, Idiots Revenge had about $125 in our band fund until my car got towed one night. I never paid it back and eventually spent the rest. I suppose I owe Spike, Mark, and Big John $31.25 each. 

Click on the following title to hear the song. Little GirlsTen Cent Dogs, and Not My Fault

Special thanks to Ana Medina and Monica Zarazua for editing 

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