Sunday, December 30, 2012

"Help Me, I'm Trapped in a Ford Festiva" - Compilation - Tape - 1997

    I grew up in a tiny town in the middle of Alabama and discovered punk when I was in 6th grade through a tape of the MINUTEMEN's "Double Nickels on the Dime." Over the years, I tried to start bands with people who either really didn't want to be in a punk band or just had drastically different ideas of what a punk band was. The day after I graduated high school, I moved 108 miles away to a different small town called Huntsville. I lived in my car for those first couple of months and came to discover a whole new world of punk where people were actually playing the loud, fucked up, vibrant music that I wanted to be playing at that time in my life. It was perfect for me. I met people who put out their own records and set up their own shows in houses, parking lots and thrift stores. It was inspiring, to say the least. Within just a few months, I was playing in my own band and going on tour all over the southeast, making friends that I still have to this day. At the time, I wanted to make a compilation tape to show what was going on in my town (and where it had come from) so that other people would know how awesome it was, but honestly, I don't know if this tape ever reached people outside of Alabama.
   The comp starts off with RICE HARVESTER and THE CACA WOMEN FROM URANUS. I've already written about them, so you can click those links above if you're curious. Next up is THE REFILLS, who were a short lived band from the area that consisted of Neil (from JOEY TAMPON AND THE TOXIC SHOCKS and 565 BURNOUTS), Ben (from RICE HARVESTER, SUCKERPUNCH and now in PINE HILL HAINTS) and Bill Conflict (who did and still plays in RANDOM CONFLICT). They played fucking tough, straight ahead punk that was informed by THE FREEZE and D.O.A. I loved them when they were around and their song "Bleed" on this tape still holds up today.
RICE HARVESTER on the 4th of July, 1998. San Pedro, CA.

   Next on the tape is AOA, which was originally a home recording project by my friends Blair and Ramesh. They would get together and record hours of MEN'S RECOVERY PROJECT (and FAT DAY) inspired noise and weirdness at their houses. After a while, they would come over and kind of force me to play anything in their band, like a drum on a bed or some cans. They had tapes and tapes of this stuff (one of which got stuck in my car stereo for months so that it was the only thing I could ever listen to. When I finally removed it, it destroyed the tape and the stereo...a week or so later, the brakes failed at 3 am and I almost totaled a cop car, but that's a different story altogether.) On this recording, we sorta became a kinda normal punk band for a second. I think I played drums, but I also think I played guitar sometimes. Ramesh played bass and sang. Blair sang and played the keyboard maybe. I think a guy named Pube switched up instruments with me. It was a weird time, but I still like "Black Flag is Boring" and the theme song.
AOA in my room. 1996.

   SHITHEAD JONES is a fukkin punk band and you can read all about their saga here. After that is THE GRUMPIES, who weren't technically an Alabama band, but they played there so often that  one might think that they lived there. All of their songs on here (minus one) were later re-recorded for their LP on Recess Records. These early versions are pretty great and it also includes a ripping cover of "Kiss Me Deadly" by Lita Ford.  You can find their demo and other stuff here.
THE GRUMPIES playing in a storefront in Florence, AL.

  GARY COLEMAN BAND were just Blair and Ramesh from AOA playing really minimal stuff. This song was recorded in a porn shop in N Huntsville and is honestly one of my favorite things ever put on tape. The side ends with THE SMEGMAGICIANS, which is my high school punk band that I restarted just to finish out this side of the tape. It sucks. The first song is an AOA cover. I played guitar and sang while my friend Harry played drums. I wouldn't let him hear the song or practice it before recording. The second song is just me playing guitar and drums...and actually it's not too bad.
  Side 2 kicks off with a live set from SHITBOY FROM OUTERSPACE, a band I have already covered here (it's the same set too). They are followed up by the always great 565 BURNOUTS, who have their own entry right here.
A later incarnation of 565 BURNOUTS playing at American Beat Records in Birmingham, AL.

   JOEY TAMPON AND THE TOXIC SHOCKS are up next, playing three songs that I'm pretty sure never appeared on other recordings. Well, two of the songs were definitely on a record, but not these recordings. The first song was never released on anything and it's not that good (but I'm biased...I was in the band). I have no clue where or why we recorded these songs. It could have been recorded in my bedroom or in a "real" studio. No idea. You can find more by the band here.
JOEY TAMPON AND THE TOXIC SHOCKS playing an 8 year old's birthday party in St Mary's, GA. Note that Neil is smoking.

   Joey and Neil from the TOXIC SHOCKS were also in CHEESE ASS CHRIST. They weren't from Alabama. They were from Georgia. You can find possibly everything you ever wanted to know about them here
   One of Alabama's first hardcore bands (possibly the very first) was THE KNOCKABOUTS, who come up next on this tape. Their songs on here come from their demo tape-turned -EP from 1982. (well, the demo is from '82. The EP is from '95). You can find more info about them here. The only thing I want to add is that I talked to Ken (owner of Prank Records who released their EP) about them and he said that he might release an LP collection in the future. I guess there's a lot more songs laying around. He's obviously not in a big hurry, but I would be excited if that project ever saw the light of day, Fun fact: The title of this comp ("Help Me, I'm Trapped in a Ford Festiva") comes from THE KNOCKABOUTS. My band (JT and the TOXIC SHOCKS) used to go on tour in my Ford Festiva (with all of our equipment, yes), which is one of the tiniest cars you could possibly own in the 90's. We listened to THE KNOCKABOUTS a lot. When we would listen to their song "Fast Pulse" (included here), we would sing that line instead of the KNOCKABOUTS-penned line of "Help me, I'm trapped in a human body!!"
   MENACE (not really sure if they ever realized there was a classic punk band called MENACE) was a band of teenage punk kids from the burbs who could barely hold it together, but held it together just enough to belt out this rough recording on a boom box. I think I only saw them once and that was only because I drove out to one of their mom's houses in south Huntsville for a band practice. I could be wrong though because I think I have a flyer for them somewhere. One weird thing about this band is that my friend Ramesh sang for them and did not play an instrument, which is ridiculous because he was already becoming a good bass player at that point. Still, you can listen to their song "AUO994" and realize why they got him to sing. 
   THE MACK was somewhat the black sheep of the Huntsville punk family. I believe 50% of that was self-imposed and the other 50 was just punk kids not wanting to admit that they liked pop-punk at some point in their lives. Either way, THE MACK played undeniably tuneful and upbeat pop-punk that was not very popular among the local scene, but I'll bet that they would have been a hit if they had ever managed to go on a tour or two in the mid-90's. Now, you can download this and relive your secret (or not-so-secret) pop-punk past. I will admit now that these songs are good. (Fun facts: THE MACK was the only local band of this era to have an online presence at the time. They are also the only band I've ever "auditioned" for as a drummer...for which I was denied for not being good enough.)
  I'm not talking about the next band. Fuck it. They were from Florida. I was the only one who knew who they were. The first song made me want to learn to play drums. The second song sucks ass.
   15E was an insane sounding punk band that worked as a precursor to THE SLACKERS, SHITBOY FROM OUTERSPACE and most of the crop of 90's punk from Huntsville. The members were Jason (SHITBOY and later XPIA), Joey (JOEY TAMPON, THE SLACKERS, RADIOACTIVES, 3D's, many more and later a born again Baptist preacher), and Mike (SEWER PUNKS and others that flew off my radar). They named the band after the apartment number of the place they shared. This recording comes from a live set at the Tip Top in north Huntsville where the band constantly harangues the audience for being shitty people. Punk. This is all I know about them. They were before my time in that town. If anyone has their demo tape, I will gladly take it.
   The tape ends with local greats THE SLACKERS and THE JAWAS. Everything you might ever want to know about both of those bands can be found here and here. The closing sample is possibly one of the best samples ever committed to tape, in my opinion.

Re-uploaded 2013

P.S. There's 65 tracks total in this download.
This one's for Ramesh, who was always a fan and supporter of Alabama punk bands.

Now, here's some flyers from that era.
I think this is one of the first punk flyers I ever made, with help from Jason Shitboy. We used to have illegal shows at the Jaycee's Fairgrounds, which was just a gazebo in a parking lot. Sometimes, we paid $100 to use the space. Other times, we just went in and had the show without permission. I think this was one of the illegal times. THE DUMBSHITZ was my old band from Birmingham that I had quit by this point. They didn't show up for this show. Here's a video of them playing in Birmingham after I quit.
This was my birthday show, also at the fairgrounds. PROPERTY was a mainstay of the Huntsville punk scene and I'm confused as to why they're not on the tape. THEE AUTOBOTS was a later band spearheaded by Jack THE MACK that incorporated sax into the pop-punk world.
Great show for $3. Gorin's was an ice cream shop downtown that was dumb enough to let us have punk shows. 
All local bands at Gorin's Flyer by Blair Menace. BLOODY HOLLY was mostly improv-violence. Blair, Jay Kaos and I wore bloody dress shirts and glasses while assaulting people, sonically. I can't even begin to explain the CATATONICS to you. If I can ever dig up their tape (doubtful), it will have its own thing on here.
Another local show at Gorin's. THE SHIZNICS never recorded and I don't remember much about them. THE PANIC BUTTONS should have been on the comp but never got any music to me. They will be featured on the blog one day. Those guys went on to play in THOMAS FUNCTION.
RICE HARVESTER's 1st show. One of the TOXIC SHOCKS' last. PINK COLLAR JOBS were one of the best bands from the southeast in the 90's.
Local times, minus THE GRUMPIES, who might as well have been local. Art by Marsh. Flyer by me.


Dk said...

Greg, mediafire is starting to block your files from being downloaded. Try heading to It's still free and no problems heard of thus far. Also, Happy New Year to you.

Dead Rock n Roller said...

Hey, I am putting together a compilation LP of a history of punk in Alabama. I believe we've talked before, but can't find your email address.

I would love to talk about things and hopefully get permission to use a couple tracks from this tape. My email is bagofcliches AT gmail DOT com.