Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Why Be Something That You're Not

For those of you who've been living under a rock, allow me to enlighten you... There's a new book coming out soon documenting Detroit hardcore punk from '79-'85. Revelation Records will be pressing it and it should hit the shelves this summer. Tony Rettamn is the man behind the project and he's supplied us w/ a great excerpt from Chapter 21 of the book, "Why Be Something That You're Not - Detroit Hardcore '79-'85." (read below)

More info can be found via the following links:

But that's not the only Detroit area hardcore book coming out this summer. Tesco Vee is also releasing his own book entitled, "Touch and Go Fanzine - The Book." It's a compilation of all 22 fanzines from '79-'83 with forewords by the likes of Rollins, Morris and Mackaye.

We caught up with Tesco at a show last Friday and we're going to follow up with some content for the blog. One thing is for sure, you're not going to want to miss the release shows in Detroit and Chicago. July 31st, don't sleep...


As the DIY gigs continued on into the summer at the Clubhouse, gigs at Clutch Cargos (now known as the City Club) went on. July saw San Francisco’s Dead Kennedys finally make it to Detroit with the Necros, Negative Approach and the Cruicfucks as the openers. Also on the bill were Blight, the latest post-Fix project of Mike Achtenberg, Steve Miller and roadie Pat Clark. Mike stuck to bass while Miller tried his hand at guitar and Clark played drums. Rounding out their line-up was none other than Tesco Vee on lead vocals and electric trumpet. Blight’s sound was a disturbing merger of the art damaged plod of Northern California’s Flipper and the abrasive, abstract industrial sounds of U.K. troublemakers like Throbbing Gristle or Whitehouse. As expected, the new breed of Detroit hardcore punkers were slightly confused by the sets of Blight and Crucifucks while they gleefully beat the tar out of one another during the Necros, Negative Approach and Dead Kennedys.

Steve Miller – Mike and I were living in a house in Sterling when we formed Blight. Pat had a guitar and an amp, so we’re like, “Let’s drink beer and get in the basement,” and that was it; we started playing twice a week. I remember the practices being very spirited and alcohol fueled; just get as drunk as you could and carry on. I stole the song "Blight" from the theme song to “Guiding Light.” Tesco was coming to hang out once in awhile and he started to join in. It was such a pleasant music experience. There wasn’t pressure, we were just playing music for ourselves. The next thing I know it was "Hey, you want to play a gig with the Dead Kennedys?” and were recording demos on a four track. As far as that gig went, I remember Jello [Biafra, vocalist for the Dead Kennedys] was a real pretentious dude. He gave The Fix its due, I will say that, but he was more about himself – always played the star, not showing up for sound check, etc. The band seemed to dislike him. That night, Darren Peligro [drummer for Dead Kennedys] and I drank all the backstage beer, which miffed Jello in a priceless way. This was when the Detroit punk contingent was still under the straight edge spell, which made it all the more of a pleasure to indulge.

Tim King - I worked the stage for that Dead Kennedys show. They had this jerk-off manager who made us have a band meeting behind the stage before they started. He was like a drill sergeant, saying shit like ‘No one touches Jello. If anything happens, let Jello take care of it. If Jello drops the microphone, no one touches it but me. I was like ‘Fuck you dude, you’re in Detroit!’ I made a point that when Jello dropped his fucking microphone to run out in the middle of the stage and pick it up and look at the manager like ‘Look! I’m touching Jello’s microphone!’

Steve Shelley – Through either Timmy Yohannon [editor of Northern Californian fanzine Maximum Rock ‘N’ Roll] or the M.D.C. guys, Jello heard that tape we did in Corey’s basement. He invited us to play with them at the City Club that summer. I think Jello saw something of himself in Doc and wanted to take us under his wing. He invited us to do a northwest tour with them and asked if we wanted to do a record on [Jello's label] Alternative Tentacles. To all those Detroit punkers, the Dead Kennedys were already something that was totally passé. Being involved with them was not cool at all, but they provided us with opportunities that didn’t exist for us in Michigan.

Blight did not last for long as a live band as Tesco’s interest in the Midwest was waning. When the grade school he was working for kindly asked him not to come back the next year, he took that as an opportunity to head out of Michigan and start anew in Washington D.C. Tesco’s co-conspirator in Touch & Go magazine D.S. had already moved there a year ago and it seemed like a decent idea. Vee decided to leave the record company entity of the Touch & Go empire to Corey Rusk and went D.C. bound in the late summer. Tesco would continue on for another year producing Touch & Go fanzine by himself while forming a new version of the Meatmen with former members of Minor Threat that continued on until 1987.

Tesco Vee – The last day of school of 1982 literally became the last day of school for me! I told my girlfriend “We’re getting married and moving to D.C.” I always thought we were somewhat insulated in the Midwest. When I got there in September of ’82 in D.C. there was still lots of shows and I made a lot of friends and lost some friends as well.

Steve Miller – Blight continued on for a little while without Tesco. We released a cassette with some drunk guy singing on it. We were all pretty drunk around that time.


dhr said...

Great post. I don't know if it was clear, but Steve Shelley was talking about The Crucifucks and not Blight. Steve went on to play in Sonic Youth.

For my money, Blight released one of the best Michigan Punk 7"s. The discography CD, "The Dream Is Dead", on Touch & Go is probably still easy to track down.

geeheeb said...

I grew up a few blocks from that house on Stirling. But I was three years old so despite being punk as fuck I don't remember.