Monday, June 16, 2008

Rev. Hank Straight Edge Peirce - Part II

Here's the second part of an ongoing interview with Slapshot roadie and 1980's HC fixture, Rev. Hank Straight Edge Peirce. To read the first part, click here:

Straight Edge in your face!

-Gordo DCXX

Who was your favorite band from Boston? Do any shows from Boston back then stand far above the rest?

Who was my favorite Boston band? Well I gotta say Jerry's Kids, the kids had the speed of Gang Green, the power of SSD, they come close to having the song writing ability of the Straw Dogs and they were/are some of the smartest and most twisted guys out there.

OK they aren't Kilslug who really are the most twisted of Boston bands. As I write that I start to think of folks like 2 Million BC who were this metal band, the way Thor is a metal band. They only ever put out a tape but had a minor hit with "Stampede" about running cows through Boston and killing everyone. They were sort of a joke band and yet you would see them around town in fuzzy Ugg boots and spandex doing their laundry.

The other crazy guy was of course GG Allen who everybody in Slap Shot thought was great. I know it sounds totally ridiculous but it's true. When GG wasn't on stage he was a very laid back guy. I remember once Choke ran into him outside of our practice space and them having a long talk about music. Choke would force us to listen to GG's 12 Days of Christmas on the road. Slappy roadie Pat would often disappear during our sound checks and emerge out of the bathroom dressed (or undressed) as GG and jump on stage and start singing "Drink, fuck and fight!" We even have film of Pat doing this at some outdoor concert in Germany totally confusing all the Germans. Allow me to also say that all of GG's early music is great old fashion punk.

OK back to Jerry's Kids. Man I think those guys were the best band and always put on a great show from day one. The famous show at the Paradise where Springa got up on stage and said "we started hardcore in this town and now we are going to end it" was supposedly their last show. That was in '87, but of course it wasn't their last, and they still even play out now. They are one of those bands that when I hear them play I go a little mental, like when the Bad Brains play their fast stuff, something clicks in your head.

Other great bands...I'll make a list. Siege, man those guys were mighty, I remember seeing them play at The Underground near city hall and the drummer played so fast and so hard that the seat and the drumset all just fell apart and he's laying there kicking and flailing at anything trying to keep the beat.

The FUs / Straw Dogs, one of the few bands that I can listen to at any time, great lyrics, song writing and Sox's vocals can't be beat. Like so many songs from back in the day, you listen to what they were singing about 20 years ago and you realize how prophetic they were, songs like "Young Fast Iranians and Warlords," it's amazing to hear what they were singing about then.

Slappy; what can I say about the boys, so much of my formative years were spent with these guys. Of all the groups that I toured with these guys were the most fun, we were and are still friends. The shows in Boston were always an event. I think Steve, Choke, Mike Gitter (XXX Fanzine) and Curtis (Taang) were very calculating in how to market the band. There was lots of press before they even played their first show in Providence opening for the Circle Jerks.
Then for the first year lots of shows in and around town and then twice a year which guaranteed huge turn outs at the biggest clubs in town. They were fun shows even when we got hit with Choke's hockey stick, and we all got hit with it. He would do his angry speed skater dance and throw the stick on the ground and BAM it would bounce up and hit you in the jaw.

Who else, the Freeze and Gang Green were bands that were bigger outside of town than in at least later on. The Proletariat never made it as big as was expected after Boston Not LA came out, but I thought they were great.
Other bands that I loved: Void and Negative Approach, COC both as a band and as guys, Reed Mullin is still one of my best friends. Iggy Pop, the Dictators, Jonathan Richman, Billy Bragg and the Damned. A couple of years ago I was backstage at the Warp Tour with Steve Risteen (Slap Shot) watching the Damned play and I looked around and there was Brian Baker (Minor Threat/ Bad Religion), Greg Hetson (Circle Jerks/ Bad Religion), Colin Sears and Roger Marbury (Dag Nasty) and other folks whom I can't remember and I was amazed at the realization that we have the greatest of American punk there and we were all doing more than just paying homage to the Damned but really enjoying the show.

Ah so many fun shows like making fun of Fugazi in their first show in Boston after Ian did his "I'm the king of punk and I will make rules." I started heckling them saying "let mono-brow sing more!" Guy then starts to give it back but not to me but to someone else who in fact has as pronounced a mono-brow as Guy, they almost came to blows.

Then there was the time that GWAR opened for Slap Shot in DC. A friend says "yea I hear that they're sort of theatrical." I was just glad that we were playing with a band of adults as we so often got pared with a bunch of 13 year olds. Well I'm in the hall selling T-shirts when Mark Mckay comes running up and says "YOU HAVE GOT TO SEE THESE GUYS!" His eyes as big as saucers. I said "I'm selling t-shirts," and Mark says something like "fuck the shirts come right now!" It was amazing and I am not sure how Slappy went on after that, but the folks from Boston who were there soon got GWAR a gig up here at this tiny club. Through word of mouth we packed that club with everybody we knew, it was just great to see the faces of these folks as Beefcake came out through the smoke. I'm still friends with those guys and send them Christmas cards.

It is hard to sit here and think of the stories from so many tours and shows. There were so many bad shows when no one showed up, times we had to choose gas over food. The storms that we had to drive through, the riots in and fights that occurred because of or in spite of whatever band. I remember watching some Circle One guys fight some Suicidal guys at Fenders in LA and Jordan (Slap Shot) turning to me and saying, "why is there no sense of danger in the air at all, isn't that strange?"

A couple of years later when Slappy was in Sarajevo a huge bar room brawl broke out because I refused to sell our shirts to some nazi skins. We kicked some ass, but had to high-tale it out before the cops came, didn't want to end up in some Yugoslavian jail.

Not a lot of girls, nope straight edge bands did not attract chicks.


What was your role as a Slapshot roadie? When was the last time you served as such? That band undoubtedly stirred up a lot of emotion in the late 80s. Why do you think this is so, and how much involved you? What was your take on some of the brief beefs that developed?

Let me say that I was not a guitar tech, I was the last person you wanted tuning your guitar. But I loved going on the road, driving all night, selling merch, dealing with a crazy crowd. I think part of it was that I have always been a junior cultural anthropologist and I have always been interested in how kids dressed and what kids were listening to in other scenes, and why. Was the Texas scene as bizarre because they were reacting to ultra-conservatism, or was it just Texas sized punk, or was it cheap Meth?

The first national tour I ever went on was with the Straw Dogs, they had just changed their name from the FUs and their record label (Enigma) thought that it was better to not tell folks of their past. It was a tour where we starved, I remember at one point we had $40 to drive from Montana to Chicago. OK, it wasn't like the COC guys who had to sell their blood on one tour in order to get to the next city.

There were so many times that you would show up at some club and the kids would look at them and wonder why they were doing all these FUs covers.

We played some place down south and no one showed up and while the band was all bummed out at the bar, Kevin Hall the other roadie and I grab some brooms and while the jukebox played some Van Halen tune we start to do some air guitar. Well I can be pretty clumsy and I trip over some wires on the stage and slam into the wall. The whole wall, 16 by 8 feet, pops out and the next thing I know I'm laying in the back yard of this club and Kevin is almost pissing himself laughing. We later found out that the wall was built to come out, but I thought I would be washing lots of dishes.

That tour with them was pretty bad, I remember in Roanoke, VA the promoter didn't have the money to pay us so he gave the Straw Dogs the difference in acid, I spent the next two days babysitting those guys. That is when I started only working with SE bands after that.

I also went on the road with COC and Uniform Choice and assorted smaller bands, and the last gig I worked at was for Slappy in '91 in Philadelphia. It was at the Liberty Bell club and maybe 150 kids and I thought "I missing Nelson Mandela speaking in Boston for this?"

Later in Slap Shot, well Choke and Mark kicked Steve out of the band because he wasn't the guitar player that they thought Slappy needed. They forgot that we were just a shitty little punk rock band, I stopped doing all work with them and everybody else and went back to school, and eventually to theological school.

Ahh, but it is all water under the bridge, not that I've seen them play since Philly, but we all get together now and have our yearly Slap Shot family BBQ.



Ur Trommler said...

fucking great stories as usual from a man who was there for it all!
thanks hank!

Grandnagus69 said...

I have to tell you...Mark McKay LOVED Gwar. I used hang out with the Combat Stance guys (who in turn loved Slapshot) and one night Gwar was on the tour where they had the giant robot. I was on the guest list somehow but wasn't into it at all. I walked outside the club and lo and behold Mark is outside. Mind you this is NYC not Boston. He drove down specifically to see Gwar. Crazy...Dave K.

小貓咪 said...