Friday, December 11, 2015

Acid Pigs and Short Fuse tour diary 1988

During the summer of 1988, I went on my first ever rock-n-roll tour with a band. Below is the tale of wide-eyed teens and musical instruments crammed into two vehicles traveling through the midwest and east coast. Still available: Denvoid and the Cowtown Punks: A Collection of Stories From the '80s Denver Punk Scene Click on the link to order a copy.  

The Acid Pigs/Short Fuse split EP was released in the spring of 1988. Maximum RocknRoll gave the record a favorable review, plus Kaleidoscope and Caroline-two East Coast companies were distributing it. Since I had established a few East Coast connections, I thought it would be ideal for both bands to hit the road together. I brought up the idea of a Midwest/East Coast tour with Arnold, who played guitar in both bands. He was into it. After we convinced all the members of both bands to suspend their normal lives for the month of July, I devoted the remainder of late spring to booking our tour by calling and sending out promo kits to prospective clubs and promoters. The method behind my madness would be to cram eight people plus instruments into a Ford Bronco and an old VW van.

The Acid Pigs/Short Fuse Summer of 88 East Coast tour started with a hiccup; Short Fuse’s vocalist Todd was scheduled to fly into Denver’s Stapleton International Airport at 6:30 on the eve of our first show. Once he arrived, the plan was to pull an all-nighter and drive to Lawrence, Kansas. After waiting around for a bit, an announcement over the intercom informed us his flight would be delayed an hour. By the time 8:00 rolled around, the gate agent announced the flight had been diverted to Colorado Spring and was scheduled to land around 9:00. The agent assured us the passengers would be bussed to Denver.
Acid Pigs/Short Fuse Record Release show. Collection of Author.

The coach bus finally pulled into the airport parking lot a little after 11:00. Todd, with his meager carry-on bag, was ready to hit the road. We got into the Bronco and headed east on the stormy I-70 for the next nine hours. We were both wired from dining on Gatorade and sugary snacks from gas station gourmet isles. The drive was quiet with an occasional stretch of rain showers and lightning storms on the distant and flat horizon. We played padiddle, the road game that involves looking for trucks and cars with one headlight then punching your opponent in the arm to curb our boredom.  

Daylight broke just as we pulled into the sleepy college town of Lawrence. The air was thick, and the ground was still wet from the previous night's rain. We were both beat, and all we wanted to do was stretch out and catch a little sleep. After crawling through downtown, Todd spotted a park with a gazebo. I commented that we had just stepped into an episode of The Andy Griffith Show. We parked, found our pillows, and slept under the shade and safety of the gazebo until later that morning.

In the early afternoon, we headed over to The Outhouse, the club we would be playing at later that night. We were scheduled to open for the seminal SoCal punk band, The Vandals. The Outhouse is an infamous, tiny, one-room structure converted into a club a few miles outside of town in the middle of a cornfield. The Acid Pigs had already arrived by the time we showed up. They told Todd and me they had found young pot plants in the back of the club. A couple of Acid Pigs drove to the convenience store down the road to nuke the plants in a microwave to dry the leaves to smoke them. It was a long and hot summer day with little else to do. The excitement didn't get underway until The Vandals arrived in their posh Winnebago. They introduced themselves and handed us a brick of bottle rockets to fire them off at each other in the parking lot.

After loading in, Short Fuse set up on stage last because we were the opening band. Our soundcheck was horrible. I walked out of the club around dusk, and there were a couple of skinheads acting as sentries, standing on the wooden posts waving American flags at the entrance to the club. 

By the time we hit the stage, it was dark and 80 degrees with punishing humidity. The heat made us insane; we played like demons writhing on the ground drenched with sweat. The Acid Pigs played a rocking set. After the show, we met some people who were having a party at their house, and they offered to let us stay there. Everyone in the bands slept well, and we woke up to a hearty breakfast prepared by our host.

The following afternoon, we loaded up our vehicles and said our goodbyes. The Acid Pigs needed gas and pulled into a nearby station. After filling up then waiting to cross the intersection to catch up with us, a motorcycle behind them impatiently tried to pass. Unfortunately, their VW bus sideswiped the bike. The doomed motorcyclist lay on the ground unconscious, bleeding from the head wound; Jack of The Acid Pigs took off his shirt and wrapped it around the guy. The police and the ambulance finally arrived and rushed the cyclist to the hospital. The roadie/driver roadie was issued a ticket. This incident set the tone for the remainder of the tour.
Mini tour stickers posted on gas pumps and in payphones booths across America.  
Collection of Author.

We finally escaped Lawrence during rush hour and headed into the darkness of I-70. Hours later, outside of St. Louis on the opposite westbound lanes, Todd and I spotted the burning cab of a semi-truck with the silhouette of the trapped driver inside among the flames. It was a terrible sight. We coined our tour as “The Tour of Death.” We pulled into town and met up with the other van. It was time to put this day behind us.

None of us had ever been to St. Louis, so we thought we should visit the Gateway Arch and check out record stores. I wanted to get a pulse on what people did at night for fun. One record store employee told me he and his friends watch the folks in East St. Louis use the wood from boarded-up buildings to burn the city down. I waited for the punch line; he never flinched or offered a half-crooked smile. When we left later that evening, we drove east towards the glow of a fire on the horizon. Another wooden building gone, I thought. The record store clerk wasn’t bullshitting after all.  

It was onwards through Illinois, Indiana, and up north to Toledo where "Toledo" Pat was anxiously waiting for our arrival. He and longtime scenester John Stain had booked a show for us, but the venue had fallen through. So Pat scrambled and spent all day trying to find a hall and pleading with people to throw a house party. He eventually convinced a friend, Sinbad, to let us play in his basement.

Toledo flyer. Collection of Author.
The house show was in full swing, minus the brief glitch when the boys in blue stopped by. It was the place to be that Friday night. Pat did a superb job getting the word out and passing out copies of our music. Several people knew our songs, and we played a solid set that night. This would be the best show on the tour.

Unfortunately, The Tour of Death continued in Toledo when we crawled past, rubbernecking like the other cars in front of us, yet another accident. This time the injuries and fatalities were within arms’ reach. It should have been an indication to turn back; the perpetual gloom and carnage were beginning to weigh in. This was coupled with several shows starting to fall through.  

The following night was Detroit. The show came about because we had help from Joe “Hardcore” Picolli, a longtime Detroit scenester, and his brother of Jerome, the original vocalist of The Acid Pigs. The club was called Blondie’s - primarily a heavy metal club on the edge of what seemed like a war zone.

Detroit is a rough town. While I was out picking up a bottle of Gatorade at one of the convenience stores near the club, I experienced my first opportunity to place money into a revolving drawer at a counter completely enclosed by two-inch-thick Plexiglas. A couple of other places we wandered past barred the entrance into the store altogether; you had to ask and point for what you wanted, hand the cashier money through a slot, and then you’d receive your item(s) through a cage-like structure. It could have been a scene from a post-apocalyptic film.  

Short Fuse opened the show, followed by The Acid Pigs, Dave of the Pigs was stoked to be playing on the same stage that some of his favorite heavy metal bands had played on. After our set, I was outside in the driver’s seat of the Bronco, going over paperwork when a huge black guy with a deep gash in his forehead and blood running down the sides of his face put his head on the hood. He looked at me, shouted a couple of words, then stumbled off into the darkness. I cautiously walked back into the club to catch a couple of songs from the headlining band Ugly But Proud. Accompanying them on stage was a vagrant submissively seated in a chair while the band played its loud and aggressive metal-influenced punk. The band kept the man supplied with a brown paper bag of tallboy-sized beers as payment for his mascot services. When he finished one can, a band member would hand him another.

We returned to Toledo for a couple of days before heading towards Philadelphia. Todd's parents lived on the outskirts near Doylestown. The Acid Pigs' van was typically somewhere behind us and somewhat in the vicinity. They were a little more adventuresome and would disappear for days at a time until it was time to meet up for a show. Although we were on tour together, they existed as a separate entity. Our drummer, Warren, was like a kid with two parents who shared joint custody. He would spend half the time with us if he thought he could squeeze a bed and shower out of the deal, but he would tag along with The Acid Pigs for the party component. He was probably the smartest guy between both groups. 

Acid Pigs setlist. Collection of author.

Since we were within throwing distance of Trenton, New Jersey, Todd, Warren, and I drove over to meet up with concert promoter/booking agent Randy Now. Randy was hosting a radio show on the Princeton campus. He invited us to the station for an interview and spun our record. We asked about jumping on a bill at City Gardens. Unfortunately, we were a week late. He could have put us on the D.O.A., ALL, Government Issue show if I had called him earlier.

Regarding our impeding suburban Philly show put together by Todd’s friend Jeff. Jeff was the frontman for the straight edge band Multiple Choice. The venue was Jeff’s family’s barn a couple of townships away from where we were staying. The barn also doubled as sleeping quarters for The Acid Pigs.

The show was booked for a Sunday afternoon. Unfortunately, Arnold hit the bottle early, so he could barely stand by the time we attempted to play. We took a stab at running through a couple of songs, but the frustration quickly escalated into fisticuffs. Arnold threw his guitar down and swung in my direction while yelling at me. His rage was the collective anger and irritation from how the tour was unraveling. Shows kept falling through; everyone was running out of money and patience. In retrospect, I did a shoddy job with the booking, and in the end, let down those who had relied on me.

Suburban Philly farmhouse flyer. Collection of the author.

We left the farm and drove to New York City, exploring Manhattan through the car windows for a couple of hours. Warren had a friend outside the city in Peekskill willing to put us up for the night. When we arrived, there was something odd about the kid; he seemed distant and lifeless. We gathered around the kitchen table with his friend’s father, and they started talking about the numerous car accidents his son had been in. Warren’s friend showed us his scars. It turned out the accidents involved drugs. The father just sat there with a look of disappointment and detachment. He interacted with his son like he had given up on him.  

We went out later that night to meet up with the kid’s friends. It was what you might expect from a gathering of bored and disenchanted suburban youth: lots of drinking and rampant drug use with reckless abandonment. We were parked on the cliff overlooking train tracks going into the city. A couple of the kids were carelessly swinging off the dead electrical and telephone wires hanging over the cliff. Everyone continued drinking and getting high while Todd and I watched in disbelief. Then, out of the darkness, I heard someone call out “Bob Rob” and when I turned around, it was a former high school classmate. We talked maybe five minutes before calling it a night. 

Todd and I were ready to bail on this depressing, life-sucking shithole. When we returned to Warren’s friend’s house, we were told how Stephen King based the book Cujo on the kid’s dogs and warned us about the rats in the basement. When Warren went upstairs to stay in his friend’s room, Todd and I half-joked about which one of us was going to sleep outside in the Bronco. Neither of us wanted to sleep in the basement. It was pitch black with no outside light seeping in. We lay flat on the couches with our eyes wide open, taking in all the strange sounds.

The following day was no better. We spent the first part of the afternoon meeting up with a few more of the kid’s friends. We drove to a nearby park so they could score and smoke crack. Afterward they took us for a drive on the winding roads. All I could think about was the accidents the boy’s father had mentioned the evening before. We ended up at a party, but Todd and I just hung out in the car listening to tapes. Warren was throwing a fit because we were acting antisocial. We went off on him and made it clear we were leaving that night. We drove to a payphone, and I called my friend Mark, the drummer for the band Slapshot to see if we could crash at his place in Boston. He made a few calls and put me in touch with Hank, the band’s roadie.

The initial hope for traveling to Boston was for a tentative show, followed by what would perhaps be our biggest gig at the Anthrax in New Haven, Connecticut, opening for DC’s Ignition. Todd, Warren, and I arrived in Boston late in the evening. Hank got us settled before going out. The three of us were beat; we decided to call it a night. We slept on the floor in the living room and the kitchen.

In the middle of the night, Hank's roommate staggered into the kitchen, stepped over me, and bumped into the wall. I sprung up to see a large, drunk, naked man holding his dick in his hand, hovering over me. He gave me a half-cocked glance and, with excitement in his voice, shouted, "Billy Milano! It's fuckin' Billy Milano!" Billy Milano was the singer in the then popular speed metal band Stormtroopers of Death. I was on the verge of shitting myself and frantically shouted, "I'M NOT BILLY! I'M NOT BILLY!" With disappointment in his voice and a limp dick still in hand, he apologized and walked over to the kitchen's back door to urinate off the balcony. On his way back through, he said pitifully, "Sorry, I thought you were Billy."

Indicative of our streak of bad luck, the Boston show didn't materialize, plus The Anthrax show was a couple of days away, and we still hadn't heard from Arnold and the other van. We were worried, considering the numerous accidents we had witnessed. I finally attempted to call Arnold's mom, but without success. The day before the show, I started calling every couple of hours. Finally, well into the evening, eventually, someone answered; it was Arnold on the other end. After a short moment of silence on my end, Arnold matter-of-factly said that he and The Pigs were done touring and had decided to return home. I hung up in disbelief. I walked around Kenmore Square, looking for Todd and Warren to tell them the news
Post-tour: Short Fuse did get back together to give it another shot. Because of the lack of practices Arnold and Todd didn't show put his show. It was the official end of the group. Collection of the author. 
From the time we arrived in Boston, we had befriended a guy and hung out with him. We told him our sob story about the tour falling apart. He jumped at the opportunity to get on board with us and offered to play guitar for our Anthrax show. We drove over to his practice space and played him our record. We unsuccessfully attempted to belt out a couple of tunes. It wasn't the same without Arnold, so we decided it was pointless to force the matter. I called the promoter of the Anthrax and left a message that we were canceling the show and the rest of the tour. I also phoned other promoters to relay the same story.

Todd phoned home the same evening and asked his dad, a TWA pilot, to hook him up with a one-way flight back to Philly. The following afternoon, Warren and I drove Todd to Logan International. Now it was only the two of us left with a Bronco packed full of band equipment. Warren and I decided to leave for Denver the following morning. Practically broke, we killed the afternoon bumming around.

The plan was to meet up with "Slapshot" Mark after work and stay at his house. However, that plan was hijacked when I tried to start the Bronco to the sound of a faint buzz. We ruled out the battery since it had been replaced the week before. Luckily Mark came to our rescue with jumper cables. While following him back to his place, the Bronco started to lose power, and by the time we entered a tunnel, the car died completely. Mark continued driving, never to be seen again.

Warren and I jumped out and pushed the Bronco onto what little shoulder there was. There was no way in hell we were sticking around a dead vehicle in a tunnel on a Friday night, so we got the fuck out of there as fast as we could. A tow truck pulled up, the driver told us what the deal was, a non-negotiable situation. The police also came by and wanted to issue me a citation for blocking traffic. The cop and the tow truck driver had a little chat, and it was decided if I gave the tow truck driver $100 in cash, I wouldn't get a ticket. I lost it, mentally checked out, had an out-of-body experience. From what Warren said, I had a total breakdown and blacked out. The only part I remember was shaking and babbling when the tow truck brought us to a garage in Watertown, near where we stayed with Hank. Hank was our savior once again.

Another version of the flyer. Collection of Author.
In the morning, the car mechanic asked a bunch of questions about the equipment in the back of the Bronco. He wanted to know if we were in a famous band and what sort of music we played. We didn’t dare say punk. He asked if we sounded like Aerosmith or The J. Giles Band, two of Boston’s finest, right? The diagnosis was that the electrical system in the Bronco was fried, and it would take him a couple of days to replace it. He and his buddy both laughed at and taunted us for driving a Ford and suggested we buy a Chevy next time.

We were stranded. I began selling off a couple of rare records I had picked up along the way just to feed Warren and me. We were emotionally spent and didn’t leave Hank’s house. My dad wired me $500 for the repairs. When the car was finished on the following afternoon, Warren and I didn't waste any time; we were westbound on I-90 towards Toledo. We arrived in the middle of the night, and I called “Toledo” Pat who had set us up to stay with Dirk from the band Majority Of One.

The following morning, Warren and I made a pact to drive straight back to Denver, no matter what. The only downside was that Warren didn’t drive. We only stopped for fuel and Gatorade. By the time we were in the middle of Nebraska, my eyes couldn’t take looking down the stretch of the interstate any longer. I was losing my mind and seeing double. We pulled into a rest stop so I could regain a bit of sanity with a few hours of sleep on a picnic table. Warren’s allergies didn’t allow him any rest. He shook me in a panic, telling me that he couldn’t breathe. We hit the road without A/C and the windows rolled up because of his allergies.

We arrived at the outskirts of Denver just in time to be punished by stop-and-go rush hour traffic. But, in all fairness, Warren wanted to be dropped off across town in West Denver. So, like an excited child, Warren jumped out of the car and raced into his grandma's house. And just like that, I was alone for the first time in weeks; with an empty nest and cooperative traffic, I merged into the ebb and flow of cars, thinking about the bed waiting for me on the other side of town.  

Edited by Rory Eubank.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Donut Crew Records-After School Special

We’re just a Donut Crew

Releasing the Colorado Krew 7” EP was an exercise to test the waters, to explore the viability of starting and maintaining a record label that documented what my friends and I were doing music wise. The 7” format for putting out music was a relatively inexpensive undertaking with minimal financial risks. 500 copies of the Colorado Krew including mastering, covers, and inserts, ended up costing a little over $500.

My friends and I had been anticipating the box of records arriving. Rich would call every evening to get an update, asking the collective question, “Have they arrived yet?” My response always resulted in disappointment on both ends of the line. Rich reminded me he had his troops ready to send over for a folding party.

Finally, the day came when UPS left a big box at my front door. With one phone call and no hesitation, later that evening Rich and company were spread out on my bedroom floor folding covers and inserts. Holding a finished product in hand made it feel like we had accomplished something. We felt like our music was legitimized from that moment forward, and the records was the documentation to prove it. I don’t think there was a person on the record over 19 years old, with the youngest being 14 or 15. The big question was: How were we going to get rid of 500 records?  

It should be noted that during the late 80s and early 90s, releasing a 7” record was almost as common as waking up in the morning and walking to the toilet. Practically anyone who played in a band had a record out. While putting out music helped give bands exposure, record collectors scooped up vinyl from unknown groups, hoping to discover what might be the next underground sensation and/or the next collectable. Distributors were privy to the hype collectors were carving out in the punk scene; they hoped to get in on the action.  Several distributors called and sent me letters asking to carry my catalog long before records were reviewed or in many instances, released. It was like punk rockers were infected with a fever to grab ahold of everything new coming out.

Donut Crew was one of the labels mixed in with a bunch other newbies at the onset of the 7” craze. We were a very minor dot on the map of the record label business. From 1988-90, I was only able to release seven titles. By comparison, more established labels like Dischord and Touch and Go were constantly releasing sought-after new titles. Big or small, anyone running an independent label wanted to make his mark. Similar to publishing a fanzine, making records put you in the company of like-minded people in a global arena committed to the DIY punk ethos.

Two significant labels from the class of 1988 were Revelation Records out of New York, and Nemesis in Long Beach. Like Donut Crew, the pair was regional in promoting their local music scene, much like Amphetamine Reptile in the Midwest and Sub Pop in Seattle embarked upon a couple of years earlier in 1986.

In response to the blooming 7” craze, in late 1988, Sub Pop seized the opportunity and started a singles of the month club.  Meanwhile, titles on Revelation Records were going out of print and becoming collectable as soon as they were released. Revelation had exemplified the art of making represses equally as collectable with slight variations to the cover and color vinyl pressings.

With Donut Crew, my main ambition was to give exposure to Denver bands while hoping to recoup my costs so I could release the next record. Fortunately, a couple of titles went into a second pressing, only delaying the inevitable. I always felt like a salesman banging and scratching at people’s virtual doors carrying around a vintage 45 box filled with vinyl. I would go to shows, malls, coffee houses, and any hangout spots punk kids gathered hoping to pawn off a couple of records. Shops like Wax Trax, Trade-A-Tape, and Albums On the Hill were always kind enough to take my releases and pay cash. On the other hand, dealing with distributors became one perpetual game of chasing down checks before they could bounce. Though most companies eventually made good on their word, a couple simply skipped out, conveniently lost paperwork, and seldom returned phone calls and/or letters. The primary reason Donut Crew folded was rooted in the losses incurred by distributors gone bankrupt-morally or financially.   

In the post-Donut Crew era of the early to mid 90s, the 7” record market was flooded, and many titles fell by the wayside, ending up in bargain bins for pennies on the dollar. I recall rescuing a couple of the titles I put out for less than what they cost me to make. It made me feel slightly sad to see them tucked amongst other once hopeful, but forgotten records. If anything, running the label was a testament and a snap shot of a moment during our youth.

Recollections and notes about each release:

DCR 001 V/A Colorado Krew 7” EP
500 copies (red, white, and blue covers) 

Track list:
Side A:
1. Acid Pigs-Survive
2. Keep In Mind-Multiple Choice Test
3. Stomp-River

Side B:
1. Atomic Dilemma-TV Addict
2. End of Story-Telling Me How to Die
3. Short Fuse-Sharp

DCR 001 Colorado Krew 7" EP. The blue cover. 
The original artwork for the insert.  
The original artwork for the insert. 
Notes: The front cover photograph was taken by and borrowed from Neal Wallace, my former high school art teacher. While I was preparing the front and back covers to bring to the local print shop, I realized I didn’t have a suitable front cover image. What was the solution to the problem? Easy, pay a visit my former high school and score artwork. I stopped by Mr. Wallace’s room and asked if he had any pictures laying around that I could use? (He acted somewhat surprised that I was attempting to do something productive after graduation.) He pulled out a photograph of downtown Denver, and perhaps out of desperation, it felt like the right image. The plan for the back cover was to invite all the bands on the record to meet on the steps of the Denver State Capitol Building for a group shot. End of Story endured a three-hour drive from Glenwood Springs to be included. One of their band members asked why we didn’t have a show since everyone had come down. Good fucking question!

Matrix/Runout (Side 1): R-11493  DCR-001-A  Piss Club (Side 2): R-11494  DCR-001-B  Bob Rob The Donut God

DCR 002 Acid Pigs/Short Fuse split 7” EP

500 copies (There were 70 or so variations of the Short Fuse cover featuring a passage from Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching.)  

Track list:

Acid Pigs side:
1. Salvation Or Sin
2. Crowley
3. Beer’s Gone
4. Bullshit King

Short Fuse Side:
1. Hidden Inside
2. Learn
3. Doubt

DCR 002 Acid Pigs/Short Fuse split 7" EP cover.  
Alternant cover for Short Fuse-the original artwork. Approx. 70 printed. 

Acid Pigs and Short Fuse insert. 

Notes: The Short Fuse cover was designed by Mark Putt, the guitarist of my former band Idiots Revenge. It was supposed to be our t-shirt design, but it never materialized. I thought it was a great drawing and had worried it would go to waste.

The Acid Pigs had recently kicked out “Jet” Bart so Arnold assumed vocal duties. All the tracks on the record were recorded by Arnold using his 4-track tape deck in the basement of his mom’s house. Beer’s Gone was actually a serious problem since members of both bands heavily consumed large quantities of the beverage. As for Short Fuse, the band was Arnold’s alter ego for writing tuneful melodic songs, songs that didn’t fit Acid Pigs’ gritty repertoire. Warren was the drumless drummer of Short Fuse who lucked out one evening by spotting a badly beaten set laying next to a dumpster. The two bands toured the East Coast in a VW Van and Ford Bronco in the summer of 1988. 

Matrix/Runout (Side 1): DCR-002-A  Bernie McCall Lives!  (Side 2): DCR-002-B  Never* buy* a Short Fuse   -  [drawing of Hardcorey] SORRY JET - REFER TO OTHER SIDE [drawing of Slammy]

DCR 003 Again!/Keep In Mind Split 7” EP

500 copies (There were slight variations of the Keep In Mind cover)

Again! side:

1. But You’re Not
2. Look Both Ways
3. Hiding

Keep In Mind side:
1. Not Sure
2. Dealing With Your Pride
3. Out Of Reach
4. What I Have Found

DCR 003 Again!/Keep In Mind split 7" EP cover
Alternant Keep In Mind covers. 
Original artwork for the Again! Lyric sheet insert. 
Original artwork for the Keep In Mind insert. 

Notes: Donut Crew aspired to be something along the lines of Dischord Records. With that in mind, Dave Clifford from Again! designed a Donut Crew logo to replicate Dischord’s. We considered it tongue-in-cheek at the time, but like many of our concepts, we were basically biting off of bands and people we respected. In retrospect, I felt like Donut Crew lacked originality design wise… and maybe the best input I had in developing an aesthetic for the label was my terrible ability to spell words correctly. I knew my spelling was a running joke with the bands I worked with. I think someone mentioned that each Donut Crew release came with a built in game of searching for misspelled words. I couldn’t disagree with the criticism; it was the truth. The permanent Donut Crew logo came by way of Chris Johnson. Chris was a sailor in the US Navy who had mail-ordered a couple of the releases. While he was out at sea, he made a handful of drawings and sent them to me with a letter stating that I could use what I wanted. In trade, I sent him a shirt and anything featuring his artwork.    

Matrix/Runout (Side 1): DCR-003-A Stand Up, Not Hard-Rich J (Side 2): DCR-003-B Boulder County Geek Core lives 1988 BxRx

DCR: 3.5/SER 001 Atomic Dilemma-Take This Kids 7” EP
500 Copies (350 in circulation and 150 where damaged)

Side 1:
1. Funny Weed
2. Rollercoaster Life
3. Help Him Up
4. Take This Kids

Side 2:
1. Scars
2. Romper Room Mosh
3. Intimidation Game

DCR 003.5/SER 001 Atomic Dilemma-Take This Kids 7" EP cover.
Atomic Dilemma insert.

Notes: This was more Rich’s project. He was publishing his fanzine, Skate Edge and wanted to release records. I agreed to pitch in financially to help Rich get his band’s record out. What really put Skate Edge on the map was releasing Brotherhood’s No Tolerance For Ignorance EP. Rich was always an independent spirit and had his own way of perceiving the world and making his art and music happen on his own terms. 

Matrix/Runout (Side 1) SER-001-A Ken belongs to the spanglorian society. Eat Pop Tarts and read Skate Edge. (Side 2): SER-001-B The most important things in life can't be bought - with exception to this record.

DCR 004 V/A Colorado Krew II-The Kids Will Have Their Donuts 7” EP
800 copies (First pressing: 500 copies, blue cover and black vinyl. Second pressing: 300 copies, black cover and red vinyl. There were 20 copies with a quickly made photocopied cover.)  

Side 1:
1. Again!-Seen Not Heard
2. Warlock Pinchers-Jolt Is…
3. Dead Silence-1/4 World

Side 2:
1. Keep In Mind-Overwhelmed
2. Expatriate-Sometimes Love Is…
3. Aberant-Scar Strangled Banner 
Colordao Krew II-The Kids Will Have Their Donuts 7" EP cover for first pressing.
Colordao Krew II-The Kids Will Have Their Donuts 7" EP cover for second pressing. Red vinyl.
Second pressing.

Colordao Krew II-The Kids Will Have Their Donuts 7" EP cover (aka the bad decision-20 made).
Original artwork for the insert.
Original artwork for the insert.

Notes: Some of the blue covers stated: “Root beer-colored vinyl.” It was a double meaning: color vinyl was all the rage, so we being cheeky about the craze. Secondly, the color of the vinyl was a translucent brown when held up to the light. In fact, it looked like a glass of root beer.

The story about the quickly made photocopied cover was the result of a delay with the real covers being printed. I needed to get the records in the bins at Wax Trax, so I put together something haphazard. In retrospect, it was an impulsive and shortsighted decision; I cringe each time I’m reminded of it.

The final cover for the EP is an image of kids storming the steps of the state capitol. It was a blatant rip off of Society System Decontrol’s The Kids Will Have Their Say 12” EP, but ours had a donut theme, so to say, a donut edge! By no means were we dissing SSD; we meant it more as a nod to their greatness. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right?  

After finishing our front cover photo shoot, someone in the group spotted the then Colorado governor, Roy Romer, leaving the capitol and heading towards his car. I immediately thought we needed a picture with him. We eagerly charged in his direction, cutting him off before he reached his car door. Based on our excitement, Romer granted our request for a group shot. That WAS be the crowning image to grace the back cover.

The rationale for selecting the groups for this release was that I wanted to reach out and include a wider variety of bands and styles that represented the current punk scene. Dead Silence was overtly political; Expatriate had metal edge; Warlock Pinchers mixed rap, metal, and punk with Andy Warhol’s Pop Art sensibilities; Aberant misspelled aberrant and sounded punk as fuck. Finally, the Donut Crew franchise bands, Again! and Keep in Mind. I loved watching those two evolve into their own sound. 


DCR 005 Again!-Trainwreck 7” EP
700 copies (First pressing: 500 black vinyl and black cover. Second pressing: 200 copies, red cover and yellow vinyl.)  

Side 1:
1. Trainwreck

Side 2:
1. Wait the Turn
2. Watchful

DCR 005 Again!-Trainwreck 7" EP. Black cover first pressing.
DCR 005 Again!-Trainwreck 7" EP. Red cover second pressing.
Second pressing.

Notes: I had hoped Again! would be one of the bands to break out, perhaps breakaway and give Donut Crew a little recognition. They had a crossover sound that appealed to listeners beyond the punk community. The band’s brand of songs was easily digestible with Boulder’s college rock crowd. Had Dag Nasty desired an opener on their Field Day tour, Again! would have been the ideal match. Perhaps if Trainwreck had been released in another city and on a label with a farther reach, the band might have gained a little more mileage. The group’s lack of touring and the fact they were immersed in their studies didn’t help matters, either.   

Matrix/Runout (Side 1): DCR-005 BRADIN' FULL ON! Matrix/Runout (Side 2): DCR-005 I FUCKED UP ON THE BRIDGE: SO BUY US A VAN! -MEGGIT IS A SISSY-

DCR 006 Keep In Mind-Downstairs 7” EP
700 copies (First pressing: 500 copies, green cover and red vinyl. Second pressing: 200 copies, black cover and vinyl.)

Side 1:
1. So Stained
2. More

Side 2:
1. Out Of Convenience
2. Yours

DCR 006 Keep In Mind-Downstair 7" EP. Pressing pressing green cover and red vinyl. 
Second pressing.

DCR 006 Keep In Mind-Downstair 7" EP. Second pressing black cover and vinyl. 
Keep In Mind insert.
Notes: Musically, Keep In Mind clicked on this recording session. The group had smoothed out all of the rough edges from their previous attempts. The songs were solid, especially So Stained which remains one of my favorite tracks. High school graduation eventually brought an end to the group. I’ve always imagined what another year and a batch of new songs would have sounded like. At the band’s last show, opening for Fugazi, Keep In Mind threw out giant inflatable Gumbys to the audience and were returned back to the band stabbed. What else would you expect to happen at the Aztlan? 


DCR 007/008 Colorado Krew III-Is This My Donut?
1500 copies (First pressing: 1000 Burgundy cover. Second pressing: 500 Black covers) 

Record 1 DCR 007
Side 1:
1. Keep In Mind-Yours
2. Dogbite-Verge of Nothing

Side 2:
1. Again!-Bradin Full On
2. Jux County-Pick Your Brain

Record 2 DCR 008
Side 1:
1. Fluid-Don’t Wanna Play
2. Hobbledehoy-Turn Back the Clock

Side 2:
1. Acid Pigs-White Lie
2. Warlock Pinchers-Confrontation Yeah! Yeah!

DCR 007/008 Colorado Krew III-Is This My Donut? This Is My Donut. First pressing 
DCR 007/008 Colorado Krew III-Is This My Donut? This Is My Donut. Second pressing.
Colorado Krew III insert. 

Notes: This was the release that broke the camel’s back. Going into it, I knew one of two things would happen: the label would continue or close up shop. By the time the record entered its second pressing, it looked like I might squeeze a couple more years out of Donut Crew. Then reality hit when a couple of my distributors went belly-up still owing me large sums of cash. Knowing the funds to keep the label afloat had vanished overnight was a surefire sign that I needed to move on and devote my energies elsewhere.  Between booking shows, playing in bands, putting records out, and transferring to a university, I was burned out.

I’m glad Donut Crew ended on this release. It represented the best cross section of Denver’s underground scene. The record brought together members of bands from the early 80’s hardcore scene with kids who were barely finishing high school. While the styles of music were a little uneven at times, it was the most honest documentation of Denver’s eclectic underground music scene coming into the 90s.


It should be noted that along with Rich Jacobs and Dave Clifford and their bands getting Donut Crew on its feet, other people who helped along the way were Keith “Meekster” Smith, who was my short-term financial partner, and Matt Keleher who had always been a reliable friend, helping in any and every capacity. Bern from Lost and Found Records in Germany helped get hundreds of Donut Crew releases into Europe. There were kids in Australia and Japan who brought Donut Crew to their part of the world.   

Odds and ends:

Donut Crew ad for MRR. 
Donut Crew catalog summer of 1989.  

In Maximum Rocknroll I had placed an ad as a gimmick to generate interest in the label. Send a stamp and get a donut seed. This required me going out and buying a box of Cheerios and tiny zip-lock bags. It didn’t occur to me at the time that when the “donut seeds” went through the automated machines at the post office they would be pulverized into a pile of Cheerios dust. 
Photograph with governor Roy Romer.
Original artwork for label. Designed by Dave Clifford.
Editing by Rory Eubank.