MLK Jr. Day. An infamous day here in the old AZ. During the years of my first band, Religious Skid, there was a governor named Evan Meacham who was opposed to Arizona celebrating MLK. We had a song called “Evan Meacham For President” that was a tongue in cheek jab at Meacham, Arizona, and Republicans in general. Somewhere I have the lyrics, I’m sure, but it was sort of a rap-type thing (did I mention we were way ahead of our time?) and a part of me is glad we never recorded it.
Maybe a boom box recording exists. There are a few of those out there and I have a cassette somewhere of Religious Skid. There is also a videotape (VHS) of us playing where there is no sound. I have fleeting memories of being onstage (or playing a party) with the Skid. I was usually pretty inebriated when we played as my courage was not what it is now after I don’t know how many shows I have played.
The band was made up of myself, Tom S., and a revolving cast of other dudes. Of all the bands I’ve done, Religious Skid probably had the most members during my time with the band. In fact, I sort of just inserted myself into Tom’s garage project with his friends Troy and Steve B. I don’t know if they even had a name yet when I started fooling around with them in the summer of 1987.
I was slated to go into the US Army on September 15th of that year so I think they humored me as a possible singer knowing that they could just find someone else when I was gone. I think I mentioned in a previous blog about how we were supposed to play for my going away party, but it didn’t end up happening. When the Army thing didn’t work out, I came home and wanted to do the band again. Luckily, they were cool with having me back and we started working on our songs.
Over that time, Steve B morphed into Steve A. Steve A was a much better drummer than Steve B, so it seemed like the band was going in the right direction. We got a set together and played our first party in early 1988 at a friend of Tom’s house off Stanford and 36th street (roughly).
I remember the night pretty well, mostly because of the video that has no audio that I watched many times in the years that followed. The main thing is that we had fun and being the second time we performed in front of people (remember, we were dicks and jumped on the other dude’s equipment on NYE that preceding year), we weren’t nearly as nervous as we should have been. Considering we weren’t that great of band; the show was half decent and people enjoyed it.
For whatever reason, my girlfriend at the time, Suzi Q (her last name really did end in Q), ended up leaving before I did so I got a ride home from another girl. I learned a little bit about how some women like the idea of seeing a guy perform music although I didn’t do anything to be ashamed of or that Suzi would have been too upset about had she known. I’m sure she is smiling about it now, actually. Wherever she is. Suzi died in the early 2000s, sadly, but she was a big supporter of Religious Skid while we were still together.
Later that year we played at a party in the backyard of the notorious Templetons. It was an interesting party, for sure. It was probably the start of my personal tradition of traveling to a show by myself whenever possible. It has always helped me mentally prepare to go on my own or to have some time to myself before I perform. I’ve found the experience to be very calming and allows me to focus more.
I remember getting ready at the apartment I shared with my mom for a few months before I moved into the polka dot pad. I put on my black Anti-Nowhere League t-shirt and my bondage pants and walking from 23rd street and Campbell to 21st and a block or two shy of Osborn. Not a long walk, for sure, but long enough for me to get my thoughts in order and get ready to play what was our best performance yet.
Our songs were really starting to improve. We had some new ones, by then, and some that I was really into singing. “Skinhead” and “Heartbreaker” were pretty decent songs. The former was about my flirtations with being a skinhead and the bullshit I had to put up with for knowing some of the more aggressive and wrong-thinking dudes. Hindsight, of course, has shown me that none of those guys were really Nazis, but they were definitely angry and seemed to embrace that crap.
The highlight of the evening was when a bunch of those boneheads showed up, led by my friend, Brian F, who was still living that lifestyle. We played “Skinhead” and they loved it, but mostly, I’m guessing, because they couldn’t understand the words (thank goodness for a bad PA, at times). I didn’t have the balls to tell them it was basically saying they were idiots, but whatever. No need to get people beaten up over a song.
As I alluded to earlier, there were a lot of band members in the Skid over the few years we existed. Steve A was the second drummer of the band and the first one to leave that first lineup that gigged in front of people. I have to take credit for him leaving for being a total dick after an appearance at the Mason Jar went south.
We were supposed to play an open mic night at the Jar, which was a big deal for me on several levels. I had been to many shows at the Jar, so getting to play that stage seemed like a major thing to 18-year-old me. Second, it would have been our first appearance at a bar and that seemed big, too.
We got to the door to go in and sign up and all seemed great until Franco, the Jar’s illustrious owner, asked Steve for his ID. I had a terrible, but good enough fake ID for the Jar, but Steve did not and if I remember correctly, he was 19 or 20 at the time. Franco said we couldn’t play, at first, but Tom and Troy, our guitar player, talked him into letting us play if Steve only came in for the set.
Steve balked at this, and I lost my mind.
Many of you who are reading this will remember that I have a terrible temper. I’ve gotten better about dealing with it since the 80s, but in those days, it could be ugly. I don’t remember exactly what I said, but I’m pretty sure it was not nice, and I may have threatened to beat Steve’s ass. Who knows? Either way, the result of this was that Steve and eventually Troy left the band. Steve A and Troy were bros, you know, and Troy and I never really got along that great. Probably because Troy’s girlfriend was too nice to me, but whatever.
Tom S and I were without a band, at least temporarily.
See you tomorrow.
This was probably 1989.