In October of 1991, Bukake Culkin formed in Phoenix, Arizona. The band was comprised of five high school friends. Two of which, Curtis “Chimi” Frasier (drums) and Peter “Petey” Smythe (guitar), who went to Brophy Prep in central Phoenix, Nancy “Gatorhate” (or just ‘Gator’) Randall (guitar) from Xavier College Prep, John (no nickname) Preston (vocals) from Camelback High School, and the bass player, Fernando “Ferdie” Prince from Sunnyslope High. Initially, the band jammed in Randall’s garage at her family’s home in central Phoenix on west Rose Lane before eventually moving to a dedicated practice room at the Van Buren location of Francisco Studios.
During the band’s somewhat fiery career, Bukake Culkin made a name for themselves both visually and sonically. Smythe said in an interview that ran in Razorcake, “We started off as a joke, became a band, told a lot of jokes, became a better band, and are having a hell of a lot of fun. People don’t always understand us, but that’s okay.”
Like most bands, Bukake Culkin started off playing at parties around the Phoenix area. The first of which was in the backyard of Randall’s classmate, Rebecca “Beck” Cisneros who lived just off 7th Street and Hayward in February of 1992. Cisneros would become a kind of sixth member of Bukake Culkin after coming up with an incredible flyer for her party. The flyer featured the iconic picture of actor Macaulay Culkin from the Home Alone film and had the band’s name across the top in a font Cisneros created. This font would stay with the band throughout their career. You can still find stickers and patches with the logo at record stores, venues, and hardcore shows around the world.
At that first party, Bukake Culkin only had six original songs. These songs were:
“Hand Full of Culkin” (Randall/Preston)
“There’s No Crying on Indian School” (Randall/Prince/Preston)
“Junius Wilson” (Smythe/Frasier)
“Rough Kitchen Sex” (Frasier/Preston/Randall)
“Song For Jesus” (Randall/Smythe)
“Signal To The Enemy” (Bukake Culkin)
Each of these songs would appear on the Bukake Culkin’s debut album, I Quit My Job, which would come out at the end of 1992 on the Phoenix-based label, Hunt’s Tomb Records.
In addition to the six originals, the band played four cover songs. One of these was “Dr. Cutthroat’s Revenge” by local Phoenix favorites, Junior Achievement. Randall’s older brother had turned her on to Junior Achievement a few years earlier. The band also covered another Phoenix band, Religious Skid, when they did their song, “Latter Day Saints on LSD.” Preston’s older brother, Mike, had played drums in Religious Skid just two years before the birth of Bukake Culkin after meeting the band’s guitar player, Dave, in rehab. The other two covers were a sped-up version of the Violent Femmes “Blister In The Sun” which they never played again and a song that became a staple in their set, Born Against’s “By The Throat.”
A proper show, this time at the notorious Mason Jar, in Phoenix came next. Preston called the owner, Franco, and begged for an opening slot on a show featuring New York City hardcore band, Blister. Preston, Prince, and Randall had seen Blister play in San Diego during the summer of 1991 and fallen in love with the band’s manic stage energy and mix of New York noise and hardcore sound. Unknown to Preston, Franco had been looking for a band to open the show, so Bukake Culkin was soon on the bill.
When the Mason Jar ad in Phoenix New Times came out on Thursday, April 9, Bukake Culkin was listed as B. Culkin. This became a running joke with the band. Over the years the band was active, members would often use B. Culkin when they would give their name for food orders, restaurant tables, etc. Prince even started an account with Mountain Bell, who was the Phoenix phone company at the time, when he, Randall, and Preston got an apartment together in 1993.
The show with Blister, who was on tour with Snapcase, was a success. The band now had eight originals, including newer songs “No Such Thing As A Hate House” and “Birdy” to the mix, and rounded out their set with the Junior Achievement and Born Against covers they had done previously. The small crowd included a few of band’s friends and family who either had a fake ID or were over 21, but the response was overwhelmingly positive. A few people the band didn’t know even asked about buying a record or t-shirt. At school the next day, Randall shared this with Cisneros and wheels began to turn.
Over the summer of 1992, the band continued to write songs and play shows around the Phoenix area. All the members of Bukake Culkin were part of the graduating class of 1992, so there was nothing holding the band back from continuing to work on their music. Preston had decided to take the year off school and work full-time in the restaurant his family owned (and often fed the members of Bukake Culkin). Randall and Prince had enrolled for the fall semester at Phoenix College, and Smythe and Frasier would be going to Arizona State University in Tempe.
Because of the small but growing crowd the band was creating, by the fall of 1992, Bukake Culkin was making a name for themselves and, in addition to the parties and underground shows they would play for people in their age group, they were also getting regular gigs at the Mason Jar, the Art Cage, Boston’s, and Hollywood Alley. In those days, clubs would often let underage bands play their set, but they would have to leave or stay in a designated area.
An affable group of young people, Bukake Culkin quickly made friends with their peers in the Phoenix scene, as well as making an impression on band’s they supported as an opening act. Things were looking up when Todd Swenson of Hunt’s Tomb Records saw them play in a warehouse on Madison and 13th street in mid-September 1992.
In an interview published in the Phoenix New Times in December of 1992, Hunt’s Tomb Records founder Todd Swenson talked about seeing the band play live for the first time:
“I was intrigued by the name, as I think we all were, so I when I saw they were playing with Fork and The Unthinkables at Rancho de los Muertos, I had to go. They blew my mind, to be honest. I wasn’t expecting to see such a young band look so comfortable on stage. The interplay between Gator (Nancy Randall) and Ferdie (Fernando Prince) was amazing and John (Preston) ruled the stage. I was in, and from that moment, I wanted to record them,” said Swenson.
At first, Bukake Culkin thought Swenson was pulling their leg. The label was fairly new and had only released a few things up to that point, but Swenson was respected in the scene for having been in the popular Phoenix band, TCW (Truffles, Cunts, and Whores). Cisneros and Swenson exchanged numbers and within two weeks, everyone shook hands and agreed to record the now 11 songs Bukake Culkin had written. If nothing changed, the running time of their debut record would be just over 19 minutes.
The band was excited to go into Blue Sky Studios in Mesa and work with Swenson and his engineer, JC (short for Joseph Campbell) Birnbaum in mid-October. They spent three days tracking, a day mixing, and then sent their recording to local Phoenix legend, Dave Shirk, for mastering. By the end of October, Cisneros and the band had created their album art and the music and art were off to a pressing plant in Mexico for a short run of vinyl. Swenson worked with the folks at Scorched Earth in Tempe to do CDs.
One of the first difficult conversations the members of Bukake Culkin had was how to order the songs on the record. Prince and Smythe, for example, thought they should go in the order they were written, but Randall rightfully argued that while this made sense, it really didn’t flow as well as she thought it could. The band had just played a show at the Art Cage opening for Trance Syndicate’s band, Johnboy, and their set had really flowed. Randall thought the album should follow the set list. After what became a slightly tense conversation, the band agreed that the Johnboy setlist was a good song order and that was that. Here it is:
“There’s No Crying on Indian School”
“I Quit My Job”
“No Such Thing As A Hate House”
“Crystal Is A Method Actor” (new song)
“Plunging The Clogged Neckline” (new song)
“Song For Jesus”
“Hand Full Of Culkin”
“Rough Kitchen Sex”
“Magic Powers” (new song)
Cisneros called a band meeting to talk about the need for a press release and a bio of the band. In just a little over a year, Bukake Culkin had gone from being a high school band practicing in a garage to needing a press kit. They had a hard time taking it all seriously.
They had decided, as a band, to put very little personal information on the record. While each song was credited to the members who wrote it, or in a few cases, just to B. Culkin if they felt like it was really everyone involved, their names were not mentioned anywhere else. Hunt’s Tomb Records was working with a limited budget, so there was no insert for the vinyl and the inside of the CD jewel case just showed a copy of the first flyer featuring actor Macauley Culkin.
It seems the band was hoping that they would get sued for the use of this picture and eventually they would get a cease-and-desist letter from both Hughes Entertainment and 20th Century Fox. These letters were eventually framed and stayed on Cisneros’ living room wall for years. A point of pride, really, for any punk rock band, the cease-and-desist letters were enough to convince Swenson to put black bars over the eyes of Macauley Culkin in subsequent releases of I Quit My Job over the years. If you have the first release or the vinyl, you’ve got something that is worth some dough to the right people.
After several hours of discussion, it was agreed that Preston and Cisneros would work on the press release and bio with the others getting to make any changes they wanted to make. Here is what they came up with:
First draft: Press Release
I Quit My Job is a punk rock record by Bukake Culkin. It’s loud, fast, and like the band’s name, will cum on your face. It’s on Hunt’s Tomb Records and you can buy it in December. If you want to review it, prepare to get wet and sticky.
PS. Fuck Merle Haggard.
PPS. Interviews will be denied upon request unless you are Merle Haggard.
First draft: Bio
There are five members of Bukake Culkin. They are, in order of importance, Fuck You on guitar, Fuck You on vocals, Fuck You on bass, Fuck You on drums, and Screw You on guitar. Screw You does not condone unnecessary profanity and is a good Catholic. Screw You will, though, let you cum on their face. Have a nice day.
PS. Fuck Merle Haggard with Johnny Cash’s dick.
When Cisneros and Preston presented their first drafts to the band, they were written in purple crayon on large sheets of white paper used in the Preston family restaurant to line cookie sheets. It took exactly two minutes for the band to decide, unanimously to ratify these statements as law with the only hang up being the question of who would recreate them, in crayon, and what would it cost to send these out.
“There is no way Hunt’s Tomb is going to pay for this,” said Prince, and he was right.
Before we can go forward, it is best to go back because a band name like Bukake Culkin probably needs, at very least, a brief explanation. During “Gator” Randall’s junior year in high school, she was at a party at her friend Miranda’s house. It was a rather large party, attended by students from Randall’s school, as well as Frasier and Smythe’s school, and Randall walked into the bedroom of Miranda’s brother, Tim, who was showing a pornographic video on the television.
The video showed a Japanese woman who was bound to what looked like a dentist’s chair. There were a number of men standing around her masturbating. Hardened by years of seeing her older siblings’ warped sense of humor, Randall was not so much shocked by this but humored. As she would tell an interviewer a few years later in the zine, Jigsaw, Randall said:
“It was funny as hell, really. These old Japanese dudes with tiny dicks (laughs). They were pumping them furiously while the girl sat there with this look on her face like the kid from Home Alone. I turned to Chimi and said, ‘Bukakke Culkin’* and we laughed our heads off. I couldn’t get the name out of my head.”
For Randall, who had started playing guitar while she was in junior high, she now had a band name and more than anything, she wanted to play in a band. She and Frasier, who lived three houses down, had briefly dated during freshman year (they held hands while watching Heathers at the Camelview theaters in Scottsdale while Frasier’s mom did some shopping), but really bonded by playing music together in Randall’s garage.
During the summer of 1989, Randall had thought about doing a two-piece band with Frasier fashioned after one of Randall’s favorite bands, The Cramps, but Frasier, who got his first drum kit when he was eight years old, kept playing way too fast for the songs to sound anything like Cramps’ songs.
Worse than that, Frasier’s other best friend and future member of BC, Smythe, was always coming along and trying to talk them into making the budding act into a three-piece. Unfortunately, Smythe didn’t really play guitar. He liked the idea of playing but didn’t really play. He’d rather mess around on his computer than learn any songs and that didn’t sit well with Randall.
The upside, though, was that Smythe was learning a new program called Sound Tools (later Pro Tools) and made some very rudimentary recordings of Randall and Frasier’s practices that summer after bringing his Macintosh IIx and a few microphones to the Randall’s garage. When these recordings were complete, Randall was able to view Smythe in a new light and their friendship began to grow as well. Randall, though, had never really noticed that Smythe was often quite tongue-tied in her presence. His crush on her began when he first saw her several years earlier when he was at Frasier’s for a sleepover.
Tall, blonde, and somewhat of a tomboy during junior high school, Randall didn’t really consider herself attractive. She liked big clunky glasses (she was blind as a bat) and preferred to dress a bit like a skater boy when she was not wearing her parochial school uniform. If it weren’t for the nuns at her school, she would have dyed her hair red like her hero, Poison Ivy Rorschach (of the Cramps), but that was not allowed. Either way, Smythe thought she was perfect when he first noticed her and wondered if she actually skated or just dressed the part (she did, but not particularly well).
Smythe had heard Frasier talk about his friend and neighbor named “Nancy” for several years while they went to Madison Meadows elementary school in Phoenix but didn’t see her until they were in 7th grade. During their first few meetings, Smythe didn’t say a whole lot. He could be really shy at times, especially around girls, and was often unsure of how to act or what to say. She was also a lot taller than him, which was intimidating. Smythe spoke of this in an interview about the band in LA Weekly in 1994:
“Gator (Randall) scared the fuck out of me at first. She was a way better guitar player than I am, still is, and she looked like Christina Applegate if she was a skate punk. I fell in love with her, but then I got to know her…(laughs). She’s the one who named us, though, so she gets all the money.”
In the beginning, Randall just thought Smythe was stuck on himself and decided he was worthy of being ignored. Although, she thought to herself in her then 13-year-old brain, he seemed like he might be kind of smart. She liked smart people.
Smythe also had a bit of a chip on his shoulder. He spent a lot of time at his grandparents’ home, which was also the address he used that allowed him to go to school in the Madison district. They doted on him, made sure he had everything he needed (such as a $3000 computer set up that was the envy of many of his more well-off classmates in junior high), but he lived with his mother in an apartment in Sunnyslope. He was also small and not particularly noticeable, especially to most girls. He looked a bit like the character “Fred” (portrayed by Cameron Dye) from the movie Valley Girl who was the best friend of “Randy” (portrayed by Nicolas Cage).
Frasier, on the other hand, was pretty darn lanky to be a drummer. During an early practice, singer John Preston told band manager Beck Cisneros that he looked like a spastic crane while he played the drums, but he already had a nickname. When he was eight or nine, Frasier was dubbed “Chimi” by his father, Ben, because he always ordered a chimichanga when they visited their favorite Mexican restaurant, Jordan’s, on 7th Street. He always finished it, too, which is probably why the nickname stuck. Music writers and fans often asked if Frasier and Randall were brother and sister because they did somewhat resemble each other, but they would usually just say, “We can neither confirm nor deny our familial ties.”
*The band decided to drop one of the K’s in Bukakke because they didn’t want to be associated with the KKK. This also caused much laughter when they considered the notion that they could be linked to such an organization.
Bass players are often the last people in a band to get mentioned and, in this case, it is only slightly different. Fernando “Ferdie” Prince did not live in the same neighborhood as Frasier, Randall, and Smythe, but he knew who they were. Prior to the first band practice, Prince would see the trio at the occasional show around town, as well as at the Zia Records on 7th avenue in the Melrose District of Phoenix. Very few people actually called it that back then, but it didn’t matter. It was a place for young and old music fans to find cheap music.
Prince was very interested in playing bass guitar after seeing a band called Fishbone play at a venue called The Metro in 1986 when he was in 7th grade. They had this guy, Norwood Fisher, who just caught Prince’s eye from the minute Fishbone started playing. His sister, Tanya, had taken him to the show because she was in charge of him that night and she really wanted to see the band. Little did she realize that she was changing the trajectory of her brother’s life that night.
Ferdie started asking Tanya to take him to any and all shows after that. He was hooked. What once had been an obsession for basketball and Nintendo games became a full-blown love affair with music. Like most of his future bandmates, Prince also enjoyed skateboarding, but to him, it was mostly a way of getting around that was a lot more fun than walking. He would skate to the bus stop off 7th Avenue and Dunlap, hop a number 8 bus, and head down to Zia to see what he could find for $2.99. There was always some sucker selling something good to make a few dollars for weed.
On one of these missions towards the end of 1990, Prince, who looked a bit like the actor Emilio Estevez with longer, curlier hair, noticed Randall and Smythe looking through the S records. He nodded to Bob, who worked at the store. Bob played in a cool band called Mondo Guano and drove a motorcycle. They had become friends, kind of, during Prince’s frequent visits to the store and Bob never steered him wrong on his suggestions. He would also occasionally slip Prince a nice, pre-loaded credit slip if Prince would let him borrow his one hitter while he was shopping.
Prince did enjoy a little marijuana from time to time (another gift from his sister). He rarely smoked it before school, though, as he sort of got caught one day his freshman year and that was close enough. It made the long skates around his neighborhood a bit more fun, and his sister’s friends always had decent weed.
On this day, though, Prince’s one hitter was empty, and he was looking for Public Image Limited’s first record, First Edition. A friend of his from Sunnyslope High where he went to school had loaned him a mix tape of different things and he particularly loved the bass line on the song, “Religion II.” Prince wanted to check out the whole thing and add it to his collection. As he walked down the aisle, towards the P section, he locked eyes with Smythe and they gave each other the “hey, man” nod.
That day, the three of them ended up talking and Smythe shared with the location of the milk bowl, a westside pool that was going on then, with Prince. They agreed, too, to meet up at a show featuring local band, the Plug Uglies, the next weekend, and a new friendship was beginning to forge. It was at that show, which was at a house near Metrocenter, a mall on the northwest side of Phoenix that had been featured in the movie, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. It was at this party that Prince was formally introduced to Frasier, as well, and the two took an instant liking to each other.
Rhythm sections really should like each other and one of the major strengths of Bukake Culkin was the almost Vulcan mind meld of Frasier and Prince.
A few months later, in early 1991, John Preston met “Petey” Smythe at Hisco Banks in Tempe. These banks were a notorious bust, but they were a heck of a lot of fun. Preston was there with some older dudes that had graduated from Camelback High School the year before that were friends with his cousin, Buzz, and Smythe was there on his own after taking a tour of the Arizona State campus where he hoped to study computer science the following year.
The guys from Camelback were friendly enough and invited Smythe to hang out. They had a boom box, which was pretty dumb to be listening to at Hisco, but Preston assured Smythe the cops had already been by before he got there and just kept on driving. You never knew what you were going to get with Tempe cops. Smythe was digging on the Subhumans’ music coming out of the boombox and got to talking with Preston about the band.
The first thing Smythe noticed about Preston was that he skated really well for such a tall guy. The second thing he noticed was that Preston, who looked like actor Matt Dillon, had no discernable fashion sense. He was wearing a plain maroon colored t-shirt and some black shorts that looked like they probably came from Target or Kmart. They weren’t ugly or anything. It was more like they were functional. The only thing remotely punk or skater-ish about Preston were the Vans shoes he was wearing. They were plain and black, Keds-style vans, that you could get for cheap at Sidewalk Surfer.
Preston was friendly, though, and that’s what mattered. By the end of the session, Preston and Smythe exchanged numbers and agreed to go skating again soon, especially if Smythe was willing to drive. Preston knew of some ramps and Smythe was all in.