Thursday, May 15, 2008

Joe Nelson recalls BL'AST!

[BL'AST! at Staches, Columbus, Ohio 8/20/1986 Photo: Jay Brown]

Expect much more BL'AST! material in the future, but for now we have some memories of the legend that is BL'AST! brought to you by none other than Joe Nelson.


I didn't know those dudes at all. They were from up North, and older then me and my friends. Clifford was a scary motherfucker though. That whole band was intense. I had a run in with them at a Corrosion of Conformity/SNFU show which is a pretty funny story; Wishingwell Records, asked me to go down to Fenders and sell BL'AST shirts for the band one night. I think Courtney's line to me was "Dude the band will probably ask for some shirts, so give them a dozen or something." Anyway, I get there and set up, and am chilling at the merch table. I'm thinking to myself, "wow I'm the BL'AST merch guy. I'm with the BL'AST crew now." Of course I was too dumb, or young, or a combo of both to actually go find the band first before setting up THEIR merch. Pretty soon Clifford walks up and goes "What the fuck do you think you're doing?" Me: "Selling shirts." Him, very irate: "Yeah I can see that mother fucker...who gave you permission to sell OUR SHIRTS?" Me: "The Dubars, they also said to give you a dozen shirts if you wanted." Clifford then reaches across the table and pulls me over it with one hand. He basically threatens my life, which would not have been hard to take at the time since I was 16 and weighed about 120 lbs soaking wet. He shook me around for a little bit, and then let me go. I think Big Daryl and Big Frank actually came to my rescue, thank GOD. Of course, he took not only the dozen shirts I was supposed to give the band, but all of the shirts, effectively ending my 20 minute reign as the BL'AST merch guy.

Were they really straight edge? I don't think they ever claimed to be straight edge. As far as I know they were stoners, who surfed, and skated. They definitely were not aligned with Straight Edge bands though. All of the Straight Edge kids loved them though. I played "Power of Expression" over and over when it came out. I remember thinking it was amazing how Clifford obviously wrote the words to the songs before there was music. All the songs read like one long run on sentence. That is pretty punk if you ask me.

Best show...I saw them just KILL it with The Exploited and Excel. It was just brutal, pissed aggression, but it always was with them. They were like taking a jack hammer straight to the face for 30 minutes. Their pits were pretty violent too. Skinheads, and other thugs loved slamming to that band. Black Flag was the end all be all for goon driven Southern California hardcore. I love Black Flag, but by 1984 when I first saw them, their audience was straight up thugs. I'm pretty sure Rollins and Ginn were so over their local fan base that they did stuff like "Process of Weeding Out" to basically do just that. Anyway, when Black Flag broke up in 1986, there had been a thirst for that style of skate thrash hardcore for sometime. It was a perfect void for BL'AST to fill. They were more Black Flag than Black Flag had been in years.

Did the fan base change when It's In My Blood came out? It's hard for me to say. It was definitely mellowing out more in So Cal anyway, so the response of "It's In My Blood" probably was more to do with the scene changing then the actual material itself. When BL'AST came around the scene was still at its apex. The shows were huge, violent, and always filled with a mixed bag of bands. When It's In My Blood dropped there was a segregation occurring. You had the straight edge scene, a thrash metal scene happening, and then the weird thing with "Dag Nasty, 7Seconds, and (Youth) Brigade was trying to pull off. I don't think BL'AST fit in with any of that stuff. They never really fit in on any of those bills. How could you listen to BL'AST and then throw on something like Dag Nasty's "Trouble Is"? Today... minus a handful of dudes my age nobody in O.C. probably knows who BL'AST even is. I remember going to their reunion shows not too long ago in L.A.,and the place was empty. Their time was 1986 - 1989 I guess, but what a time it was for them.

Twelve year old kids skating in that part of California today would not have a clue about BL'AST!


Igby said...


I was at the RKL, Bl'ast!, Excel show too. That was one of the best shows I ever went to. Yours truly also took his first stage dive that night during Bl'ast!

I got caught up with Clifford and thought he was going to kill me. Luckily, he pushed me out of the way and there I went into the crowd. What a night.


200lbu said...

I was under the impression Bl'ast was sXe because of that song 'I Don't Need It' on TPOE but when I saw them in the summer of '86, they were happily pounding Rolling Rock cans while they chatted to me and my brother after the show. I certainly wasn't bummed, just confused. I also remember one of the git players sporting a U.C. 'Use your Head' shirt. It was just around the time 'Screaming..' came out and seeing one of those shirts for the 1st time with my very own peepers was quite an experience.

Ben Edge said...

for the record, I introduced Graham Clise to the band Bl'ast!, and he was so stoked on them, he formed the band Annihilation Time.

SFader said...

The story about Clifford reminds me about how I felt at my first 5 or so shows. A Fender's riot show (the one MDC was headlining, but the show never made it past Insted and Don't No) being one of them. When you're 13, and there's dudes around named Big Frank, Big Daryl, Joel Bull, etc, pretty soon everyone is "Big this guy" or "Big that guy" or LADS or whatever. You just think the whole time you're gonna get killed.

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