John

When I was a young tween/teen, I thought punk rock sucked. I saw the Ramones on Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert when I was 13 and thought all the songs sounded the same, plus the guitarist obviously couldn’t play a solo to save his life. I was interested to see the Sex Pistols on Saturday Night Live, when I was 14, to see what all the fuss was about, but they canceled and Elvis Costello played, instead. It was kinda cool that he changed songs during the broadcast, but I didn’t feel motivated to buy his record. I was mostly a metal head, at that age, with my favorites being Black Sabbath, Starz, Thin Lizzy, and UFO, and Costello was distinctly not metallic. 

Fast Forward to 12th grade (’80/’81 school year). I saw the Dead Kennedys “Kill the Poor” single at the record store near our house. My dark sense of humor compelled me to buy it, and it split my mind right-the-fuck open! Punk rock didn’t suck after all! I immediately bought their album, plus the other two singles they had out, at the time. My local store had The Damned’s “The Black Album” and “Music for Pleasure,” too, so I bought both, in that order. They blew me away, as well. 

The spring of that school year, Dead Kennedys came to a tiny club in our area. The show was all ages, so my friends Katherine and Kris and I went. I’d mostly gone to arena shows, save for two club shows my dad got underage me into (Nektar and Horslips). This was totally different! The club was a hole-in-the-wall affair, the kids up front were slam dancing, and Jello kept diving from the stage into the crowd. It was CHAOS and I LOVED IT! 

When I got to college, another guy and I got a show on our school station playing hardcore records and tapes for two hours every Saturday night. I started writing lyrics that year, ’cause I wanted to be in a band. I couldn’t play any instruments, so I figured I would be a singer. I didn’t know anyone to play with, save a high school girl I’d met, who helped out with the radio show, sometimes, when her mother let her. She allegedly played bass, but nothing came of it, and I ghosted her the next year, when she started getting on my nerves/telling me how to live my life. I later learned she had been strongly implying to her friends that we were an item, so I have no regrets. I did get some song ideas from her, though, for a band I was in a couple of years later. 

My third year of college, a transfer student came by the station who also wanted to do a hardcore show. My co-DJ had quit, so he became my new co-DJ. He played bass, wanted to start a band, and knew a guitarist. I told him I would sing for them. My first year roommate was a drummer, so I called him, even though I doubted he would be interested. Before I could even ask, he told me a kid pledging his frat played drums and wanted to be in a band. His only requirement was the band play fast. The other guys went to meet him, they hit it off, and we had our first practice not long after. 

We recorded a couple of albums that got pretty good reviews, but we were never really able to tour. We played CBGB a couple of times, plus lots of shows in our hometown and nearby cities. We’re all still friends, 30+ years later.

My first punk show was the Dead Kennedys, in April of 1981. I eventually worked at the store where I bought my first punk records for the Christmas season every year for six years. I also worked at a small store where I went to college for a year, when the owner wanted to take off weekends to go to the horse races. I released seven records (two LPs, four 7″ EPs, and a 12″ compilation of two of the EPs, when they went out of print). It was a lot of fun, but I didn’t really know what I was doing. I have worked on a couple of fanzines. Neither printed a ton of issues, but I’m proud of what we did. I promoted gigs for a few months, but I was not good at it. I did help a friend who was very, very good at it, though. I helped with designing fliers and plastering them around town. I was in a few punk movies. You can see me in the crowd in,  “American Hardcore,” “Punk’s Not Dead,” and “Salad Days.” My pseudonym got voted 3rd best punk rock name one year in Flipside. These days I’m a software engineer living in the southeastern U.S. with my husband and our animals (1 dog, 1 turkey, around 20 chickens, and some canaries and sparrows). On an odd and completely unintentional note, I’ve lived within a couple miles of the same road in two states and three different cities since 1978. Currently, it is 0.9 miles from our house. Lastly, it was neat discovering that boys at punk concerts were significantly cuter, in general, than boys at metal shows. Why? I have absolutely no idea. Do I care why? Nope!

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