One of the first punk bands that I ever saw was THE CRAMPS, but one of the first totally DIY punk bands that I saw was THE VOMIT SPOTS. They started around 1986 in Mobile,AL and were sorta skate/thrash, sorta crossover punk. They kinda remind me of a more tame DRI or COC. They put out a 5 song 7" in 1987 (coming to this blog one day soon) and then put out this tape in 1989. I played this tape numerous times throughout my middle school and junior high school years. It's totally the kind of thing that would appeal to a teenager growing up in Alabama in the late 80's/early 90's.: dumb lyrics, partying in Hell, thrashy shit, guitar solos and more. The best song, obviously, is "I Want to Bowl" which is catchy, fun and has a crazy drumbeat carrying the song that still confounds me to this day. THE VOMIT SPOTS brand of humorous, infantile punk is such a product of the 80's dumb thrash scene...so what I really find the most confounding about this whole thing is that they are still playing shows 2-3 times a year!! No shit! Take a trip down to Pensacola, Florida or south Alabama if you want to hear these songs live and in person by the actual human beings who wrote them.
In the early '90's, Birmingham had a huge contingent of racist skinheads who generally sat around in the forest shooting guns, recruiting impressionable kids and talking to each other about their stupid racist bullshit. They didn't really go to punk shows too much. For some reason, in 1993 HBO took notice of their leader Bill Riccio and decided to make a documentary about him and his followers called "Skinhead USA: Soldiers of the Race War". Throughout the documentary, some of the kids mentioned punk or listened to it, so HBO decided that they should film these bald wastes of flesh at a punk show. At the same time, I decided that I should go see THE VOMIT SPOTS at the all ages space, Frankie's Down Under on the south side of Birmingham. Guess who was there?! Lots of skinheads! HBO film crews! I think HBO paid THE VOMIT SPOTS for appearing in the documentary with a huge bag of french fries (side note: my 14 year old self took one of the fries and said "I'll cherish this moment forever" a'la Riff Randall from Rock N Roll High School, but no one really got it and no one gave me that classic look that Dee Dee gives her in the movie. I had that french fry until 3 years ago.) Now, THE VOMIT SPOTS are many things: childish, sort of sexist, and insensitive, but they are neither racists nor nazi sympathizers. They protested the filming at their show and insisted that they be filmed denouncing the beliefs of the white power boneheads in attendance. HBO agreed but the band's tyrade was left on the cutting room floor. The SPOTS reputation was tarnished and they were kicked off of shows and labeled as racist sympathizers for years to come. It's not an easy thing to shake off when you're born and raised in Alabama, since people outside of the south already assume that you're a racist just because you grew up there. I should know. Whenever I tell people that I grew up there, it's usually followed by the other person saying "Oh....weird...." and then they either change the subject or ask me if it was really racist (and in extreme circumstances, they ask if we had paved roads there...seriously.).
(Go to 4:50 to see the clip from the show. I'm somewhere in there getting bashed around by some huge fuckhead with an SS tattoo.)
Unfortunately, that documentary wasn't the VOMIT SPOTS only stumble. Not long after the movie, they released a cd that showed them going in a more (gasp) funk-rock direction, but listening to "Plain White Wrapper" on this tape let you know that this was in the future for them anyway. Just listen to this tape and act like the 90's never happened.
THE VOMIT SPOTS during happier times on cable access television, when they had an extra percussionist.
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