"I always heard things that were wilder than I ever saw. At the first Dead Boys show at the Hot Club, people were throwing beer bottles at the stage. The lead singer, Stiv Bators, used to hang himself onstage using microphone wire. His face would get real red, but somehow he'd get out of it. He'd masturbate a beer bottle between his legs--all of which seems pretty trivial now. And shows with the Cramps were really unpredictable. There was always a sense of danger."
"The night the B-52's played the Hot Club, we opened for them. The place was packed--wall-to-wall people. I remember things I probably shouldn't tell you. One night the cops came--like they used to raid the place, I guess, for underage drinking or whatever--but they came in one night, I guess we were onstage when the cops shut it down. Somebody put on a song called 'Fuck You.' It was like, 'FUUUUUUCK YOU! FUUUUUCK YOU!' The cops were running around, chasing us. It was great. We were just having a ball."
"I remember having to cover my expensive Nikon camera from the flying beer. I remember taking it apart and finding beer in it."
"I lived in West Philly all my life, and at the time, there was this weird Irish Catholic/black interface--this was before the stupid Irish Catholics fled the city. But at the time, you couldn't live in Philadelphia without hearing both kinds of music. Most of the white music was soft and squishy and useless to listen to. Everyone in punk listened to edgier stuff, right? So a lot of us were trying to find an edge by listening to black music."
"The first local bands that seemed to make a really big impact were Stick Men and Pure Hell in 1979. Pure Hell kind of started before punk rock. They were all-black--huge guys. They sounded like the Sex Pistols meets Motorhead meets Jimi Hendrix. They were really good. They put out a 7-inch and they actually toured England with the UK Subs. It was a cover of Nancy Sinatra's 'These Boots Are Made For Walking.'"
"Pure Hell called themselves the world's first black punk band. They had these incredible muscular builds. This guy would jump onto a speaker cabinet six feet behind him, almost hurl himself onto it and then do this incredibly muscular move. And then he'd cross his legs three times to show that he was fey--while at the same time very tough. The most we could manage was one attitude at a time. We couldn't be both gay and tough at the same time."
"I saw the Stick Men at the TLA. It had a pretty big impact on me 'cause the Stick Men were just completely crazy, I hadn't heard anything like it."
"We didn't figure it out until about 10 years later, but the Stick Men might have been punk funk. We played chokey little tight sounds. Whereas most punk was expansive--like, BLOOOSH!--we were dinka-dinka-dink."
"Once, I got stopped on the street by this punk girl and she's like, 'You're in the Stick Men aren't you?' And I'm like, yeah, and she's like, 'I hate your frickin' band.' And I felt, like, good. You knew you were doing something if people were at least giving you the finger."
"What we were doing at the Hot Club to the typical Philadelphian was pretty radical. Guys walking around with green hair, safety pins in their ears and nose one night, black jazz musicians the next night--nobody could figure out what we were doing."
PW's 2014 College Issue
PW's Music Issue 2014