Malibu Kens History Chapter 1

The following text represents my opinion and my best recollection of the events that happened 20 years ago. If you were there you may have a different recollection of these events and a different opinion. Scott Juskiw, January 2001.

I. On Our Own [January 1980 - May 1980]

The band came into existence rather accidentally. There were several groups of misfits in our school that had come together to form an underground newspaper called The S.T. The paper was a very juvenile endeavour and not worth mentioning further, but all the people involved with it had a common interest in punk rock or new wave music. This made us a visible minority to which we were often subjected to repeated taunts of "punk sucks" by the jocks, dorks, and general arseholes that made up the majority of the school population.

Through Dennis' connections to the Student's union, we gained access to room 266 1/2, a storage room in the NW corner of the school, where we could get together to plan upcoming issues of The S.T. and get away from the idiots that populated our school. For unknown reasons, there was an upright piano in 266 1/2, along with hundreds of odd objects of indeterminate origin. The song Money by the Flying Lizards had recently come out and we thought, not unlike most people on the planet, "Hey, we can do this too". So off we went to 266 1/2 where somebody (probably me) played Money on the piano while the others created a percussion ensemble by banging together the odd objects of indeterminate origin. Everybody sang and it was the first musical event by a new band, although we didn't know it at the time.

Mike (or Anthony Fulmes) had brought a cassette recorder to school in order to do some "Help, I'm stuck in the locker, let me out", pranks. I recall sitting down in 266 1/2 one day in January 1980 to read some articles that somebody had written for The S.T. Terry Venutti began playing something on the piano (I believe it was Swelling, Itching Brain by Devo). Almost spontaneously, everyone else grabbed an object to bang in rhythm to the music. Anthony and I were eating lunch and reading The S.T. so all we could do was caterwaul ala PIL. Somebody put the tape recorder into record mode and this event became our first song, I Wanna Rape the Queen, although of dubious nature and quality. It was never performed again. This led to a rash of other improvised and singular performance songs including The Peasants are Revolting and The Tree.

The Tree marked the first instance of a song with real lyrics and music that was almost entirely original. Mike and Dennis had been writing lyrics for several years and kept their compositions in binders. These binders would become priceless sources of song writing material for years to come. All I had to do was write some music, pick some lyrics from the binder, and suddenly we had the start of a song. By this point we realized that we were some sort of a band, and that we needed a name. We had no trouble creating a list with hundreds of joke names. Things like "Billy Binder and the Looseleafs", "Bigsby Boeing and the 747s", and "Joey Dead and The Necrophiliacs". Somehow I misunderstood the last one as Mike said it to me in the hallway. I thought he said "Joey Did" (as in the question and response "Who did this?" "Joey did this.") and proceeded to tell everyone that the name of our band was "Joey Did & The Necrophiliacs".

There really was a Joey Did. Mike made a paper cutout which looked similar to one of those murder-scene-chalk-line-on-the-pavement-outlines and scrawled "Joey Did" on it. He had it taped to the inside of his locker at school. Somehow I wound up with it and I still have it.

It was in March of 1980 that things really started to come together. Dennis had been banging around with a borrowed guitar at home and wrote Comic Relief. It was his idea that we get together with some "real instruments" and write some "normal" songs. So it's all his fault. There were numerous people in The S.T. that could play instruments. Some played guitar, I played bass, but nobody had any drums. Ed wasn't a part of The S.T. but Mike knew him and asked him if he wanted to be in our band. With Ed's blessing we arranged to all meet at his place one Saturday for a jam session. Everybody would bring whatever gear they had. I recall Ed calling me the night before to ask what he should do to prepare for the upcoming session. I said, "Just listen to the Sex Pistols album." He phoned me back an hour later and said "OK, I've learned those songs, what else should I do?" I was certainly impressed.

I recall the first practice session quite well as much of it was recorded. We had borrowed some microphones but didn't have any kind of a PA system, let alone a spare guitar amp, to use for the vocals. Instead we plugged the microphones into Ed's tape deck (in record mode) and used that as a microphone preamp. Then we used Ed's stereo amplifier and speakers as the PA system. It wasn't a great setup but it worked well enough for us to hear the vocals. Plus it allowed us to easily record our practice sessions just by popping a tape into the tape deck. These tapes would serve as endless amusement for years to come.

Not too many people showed up to the first practice. I brought my bass and a Univox guitar amplifier that I used as a bass amp. Ed used his brother's drums. Dennis showed up with an Epiphone guitar and Vox amplifier, both of which were borrowed. Anthony brought his guitar and amplifier. Several other people came by during the day, but they didn't bring any gear, they just came by to have a look. The first order of business was to figure out who was going to be playing what. Ed was such a good drummer that there was no advantage to putting him on any other instrument. I had been playing bass for several years and could easily manage any punk rock songs. Anthony and Dennis, on the other hand, were barely able to play anything on guitar. I knew how to play a few bar chords on the guitar and I believed we could even things out a bit if Dennis learned to play the bass while I took over on guitar. This seemed to work and we were now both equally inept on our instruments. Poor Ed, having to listen to us hacks, it must have driven him crazy. But we still didn't have a singer. I believe Mike had indicated that he wanted to be the singer but I don't recall him showing up to the first practice (his voice isn't on any of the surviving recordings). The first practice went on for 12 hours, we were having such a blast. We played as many Sex Pistols songs as we could, along with Comic Relief, and The Time Warp (from The Rocky Horror Picture Show), over and over and over again. Everybody took turns singing. I doubt we ever played one song correctly. But that didn't matter because we were just doing it for fun.

Band practice quickly became our favourite after school activity. Most of the time we practiced at Ed's house but on three or four occasions we practiced at my house. Mike showed up to the third practice and by the second week he was firmly in the role of lead singer. We recorded our practices and I would sift through the tapes afterwards and archive whatever tidbits I thought were worth keeping. Whether it was something that I thought we had played fairly well, or something that was particularly amusing, I kept it. I often brought these band practice tapes to school and played them, loudly, in the hallways on a hand-made ghetto blaster that was sprawled with graffiti. We were still using borrowed drums, microphones, guitars and amps. We learned cover tunes, we wrote our own songs, and we made a lot of other noise just for fun. I don't know how Ed's parents could put up with that horrible racket for so long. The guitar I was using wouldn't stay in tune for a whole song. We were awful, absolutely dreadful to listen to.

So whatever happened to Anthony? The rest of the band didn't believe he had anything to offer. He didn't write any songs, he didn't sing, he couldn't play. So after the first practice Ed politely told him he wasn't in the band anymore. I suppose there's no good way to fire anybody. Anthony continued to show up to some of our practices, not as a player, mostly to work on articles for The S.T.

After a few weeks we had a repertoire of perhaps ten songs that we could play reasonably well and were itching to try out on a real audience. In April 1980 the Student's union sponsored a Rock Week spectacle which allowed school-based bands to play a set in the gymnasium during lunch time. The only condition was that at least one of the band members had to be a student from our school; we figured we were a shoe-in and told them we wanted to play. The faculty had known about us punk-rockers/trouble-makers for a while and were skeptical at the thought of us playing in the school. They sent a teacher over to Ed's house one day to check us out. We played a couple of songs and I recall him smiling the whole time, probably in surprise that we could actually play reasonably well. Yes, we passed the audition. Knowing that our biggest flaw was our cheap equipment, we set out to borrow some better gear for our first gig. Ed used his brother's drums, Dennis played my bass, I used my Univox guitar amp, we borrowed a bass amp from Ron Fedeshko, and I borrowed a Les Paul from my brother Frank. In a bizarre example of foreshadowing, Mike would end up buying that very same guitar from my brother several years later while playing with Junior Gone Wild. For a PA system we borrowed a powered mixer with two speakers from the school. It was hardly adequate but we had no money to rent anything better. I realized that we needed monitors and we also managed to borrow some very old and rarely used speakers from the school. Naturally, I arranged to record the gig by bringing a tape deck with two microphones and setting it up backstage.

Things started going wrong with the ten o'clock announcements. We were the first band to play Rock Week and the Student's union wanted to let everyone know what was going on. They proclaimed over the intercom, "Come on down to the gymnasium at noon and listen to the punk rock sounds of Joey Did". Considering that we were continually told that "punk sucks" by the jocks, dorks, and general arseholes that made up the majority of the school population, this was not a good endorsement. We had hoped to surprise everyone but instead the populace were given ample warning about us and made placards and signs proclaiming "punk rock sucks" and armed themselves with things to throw. When noon rolled around, there were four of us standing on stage in the gymnasium, with about 10 other people backstage helping out as roadies, looking down on an anti-punk rock protest rally complete with goofs waving signs, chanting slogans, and hurling their lunches and other objects at us. Just when we thought things couldn't get worse, I broke a guitar string mere seconds before we were about to start playing. I didn't have any extra strings but luckily I had brought the Epiphone guitar as a backup. I didn't want to play the Epiphone because it went out of tune so quickly so I removed a string from it to replace the broken one on the Les Paul. That string replacement ordeal left us standing around on stage like targets at a shooting gallery for ten minutes. The people that we borrowed equipment from were getting nervous about their gear getting damaged, and rightly so. By 12:10 we finally started playing. We started off with God Save the Queen and I remember how the speakers we borrowed for monitors burned out as Mike belted out the second line of the song.

For the next 40 minutes things went quite smoothly. We whipped through our set which consisted of the cover songs: God Save the Queen, Jet Bodies, Anarchy in the UK, Let's Dance, Time Warp and the original songs: Comic Relief, Crude City, Faggot Killer, Modern Western World, and Taxing My System. Many people left once we started playing and the food throwing slowed down as they ran out of things to hurl at us. By the end we had accumulated enough food onstage to start our own food bank. Our last song was Anarchy in the UK which we ended in an appropriate manner. I put my guitar down against the front of the amp and walked off. The amp was still on so it just roared with feedback. Ed did a Keith Moon style drum demolition solo and Dennis pummeled his bass into submission. Anthony joined us onstage and started smashing chairs and other things. Overall I thought it was a success: we played our first gig in front of an audience, there were no casualties on our end, and we couldn't be intimidated to back down. Suddenly, we were on a roll.

A few weeks later we briefly tinkered with the idea of creating a video of the band. Myron Nebozuk borrowed a video camera and recorder from the school and brought it over to my house one day in order to get some scenes of us playing live. This wasn't VHS or anything like that, this was very primitive technology, it wasn't even in colour. The camera didn't have a wide angle lens and wasn't able to capture us very well in the cramped interior of the house. We moved our equipment into the back yard and played a couple of songs while Myron video recorded us from the deck. But we were unable to figure out how to get the sound recorded; we had the picture, but there was no sound. We gave up and the video project was shelved. My mom took a couple of (out of focus) pictures of us. Those are the only pictures I have of the band.

After our first gig we realized the importance of having good equipment. Having had that opportunity to play a Les Paul, I realized that I needed something better than the Epiphone. I bought something that looked like a Les Paul, it wasn't a great guitar but at least it stayed in tune, and used that for several months before getting a real Les Paul (the silver one that I kept for the remainder of Joey Did and The Malibu Kens). I hassled Dennis enough about using my bass (a no name copy of a Rickenbacker) that he eventually relented to buying it from me. Dennis used his artistic skills to graft a "Diefenbaker" logo in the same style as the "Rickenbacker" logo onto the head of the bass. It was so well done that at first glance you were sure it was a Rickenbacker, until you read it more closely. We were having trouble borrowing microphones and I convinced Mike to buy a couple of them. Ed's brother was buying a new set of drums and Ed bought his old set. Using our new gear we continued to practice and write songs while we searched for that elusive second gig.

Dennis was the only one of us that had seen other local punk bands like the Modern Minds and Rock 'n' Roll Bitches. At one hall party he mentioned to the organizers that he was in a band and that we were eager to play. They suggested we give them a demo tape as an audition for a future hall party. We loaded up all our gear and headed to my house to spend a weekend recording our first demo tape. We took it very seriously and played everything to the best of our abilities. The results weren't spectacular but they were good enough to get us accepted as the opening band for a gig with the Modern Minds and Modernettes at Riverdale Hall. Although this would be a turning point for us, it would in fact turn out to be our third gig.

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Last updated: October 14, 2017