(Video removed 3-7-2009 - sorry! Read the story anyway if ya want....)
Here’s one last self-referential post, only because I’ve lately been hooking up my beat-up old VCR to a computer to see what transpires. What transpired recently was me getting some old tapes up onto YouTube, like the UMBILICAL CHORDS MOVIE we shared with you a couple weeks ago. Continuing that theme, I’d like to present you with the poor-quality, 1989, one and only 4-song performance of WE GOT POWER, a faux hardcore punk band that I happened to be the frontman for. The band itself consisted of SD (bass), Grady Runyan (guitar) and Rubin Fiberglass (drums), all then and later of MONOSHOCK. Those nine minutes were pretty much the highlight of my brief and uneventful musical career. See, there was this thing that used to happen every spring in Isla Vista, CA, the incestuous little Potemkin village next to UC-Santa Barbara. It was called “The Battle of The Bad”.
The goal was to be the lamest band in Isla Vista, and if not that, at least the most audacious or most funny or whatever. I was proud to compete in it three years in a row, but WE GOT POWER was by far the best entry I had any hand in. "Battle of The Bad" competitors over the years included a Jewish Supremacy band; a hideous improvisational Devo cover band called STEVE GARVEY’S HAIR; a band who did a rock opera out of John Milton’s “Paradise Lost”; a new wave cover band long before “new wave” irony had hit the public consciousness; a band called the BR’S that had members whose real names were Brian, Brett, Bruce, Brig and Bryn, and who did songs with titles like “Brrrrrr!”; a party band who lasted well beyond the competition called THE MYSTIC SULTANS OF BEN-WA and whose signature song had the chorus, “Bounce me, trounce me, 40-ounce me / I’m on fire and nude!”; etc. That sort of thing. It was into this atmosphere that WE GOT POWER stepped, and made its one and only appearance.
The inspiration, of course, comes from the 1983, forty-song hardcore compilation “We Got Power” on Mystic Records, which was inspired by Jordan Schwartz’s fanzine of the same name. I have always teetered between loving this comp and laughing at this comp. Certainly the yuks are a-plenty if you listen to the entirety of this snapshot of lowest-common-denominator punk, though excellent bands like Red Cross, Tar Babies, Nip Drivers, Mecht Mensch and others do make fine appearances. When the 4 of us decided to enter a band into “Battle of The Bad” competition in 1989, the goal was to do all 40 songs in quick succession, and to affect the most ludicrous, over-the-top “punk” personas we could conjure up. A lot of that idea was stolen from the ANARCHY 6, who were a short-lived Redd Kross spinoff and who had a great cameo in the “Lovedoll Superstar” film. We naturally couldn’t learn 40 songs, so we chose a mere 4, and decided to lead with the worst material on the album – though, other than “New Wave Homos” by CRANKSHAFT, I actually still kind of dig the other three songs. We additionally decided that we’d blend some classic onstage hardcore personas into our own magical blend: the homophobic FEAR from “The Decline of Western Civilization”; the late-80s hardcore/speedmetal bands who’d introduce their songs with a big, “Okaaaaaaaaay!” and unintentionally say as many ridiculous things as possible in the course of explaining “this next song”; and of course the extreme hatred of hippies. We even had a hippie “plant” within the crowd who deliberately harassed us after the third song, WILLFUL NEGLECT’s “E.M.S.& D.”, and though the camera misses the actual stagedive I did onto his shoulders, you do see a great fake punks vs. hippies melee take place on the warm spring grass.
I do want to emphasize to my son, any current or future employers, and any would-be guardians of propriety that this was a complete and total joke. As lame as we were, we did not even win, place nor show in the ’89 Battle of The Bad. That’s why this needs to be seen again, and that’s why my inner fire for this magical day still rages.
1. “I Hate Cops” – The Authorities
2. “Count The Odds” – Ill Repute
3. “E.M.S. & D.” – Willful Neglect
4. “New Wave Homos” - Crankshaft
Endnotes & Explanations of Stage Patter
1. “OK, we’re fucking We Got Power, we’re from fucking Oxnard” – Oxnard, California was the home of the mid-80s “Nardcore” phenomenon. Nardcore was essentially a grouping of retread, semi-metal-influenced hardcore punk bands from the Oxnard area. Prime examples were Ill Repute, Aggression, Dr. Know, and The Grim. Because Oxnard was only 45 minutes from Isla Vista, and because so much bad punk came from there, we decided to make that our faux home.
2. “This is 1989, man. Can’t you afford to get a fucking haircut?” – ca. FEAR, from “The Decline of Western Civilization”
3. “This next song’s for the I.V.F.P” – Isla Vista foot patrol, local streetwalking cops on the beat.
4. “We got arrested the other night at Club Iguana for playing ‘punk rock music’, or being nuisance in publics or something. Anyway, this one’s for them” – ca. BLACK FLAG, from “The Decline of Western Civilization”, with our local “Club Iguana” replacing “Blackie’s”.
5. “Okaaaaay! This next song’s about Reagan” – Reagan was no longer president, but his contribution to hardcore punk will always live.
6. “We’re dedicating this to our buddies in Threatened Hope” – some lame Isla Vista hardcore band from that time, who were most definitely not our friends. I wouldn’t have even remembered them had I not just watched this again.