Malibu Kens History Chapter 3

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.

III. A Serious Joke [September 1980 - December 1980]

When we went back to school in September 1980 we were at the start of a three week long split. Some spat had caused Mike to quit and he created The Tory Dinks with Jerry Slag, Bob Drysdale, and Rich Young. I don't think they amounted to much. Ed, Dennis, and I continued to jam with Dennis taking over the vocals. We never amounted to much either. Eventually we got over whatever spat had caused Mike to quit and asked him to come back. This scenario would happen a few more times over the next few years. Once Mike was back in the band we continued to write songs, practice, and play the occasional hall party. Nothing significant would happen until the end of the year.

From my observations, there seemed to be two classes of bands. I'll refer to them as "the upper class" and "the working class". There were few upper class bands. They were often skilled musicians, well respected, and were usually paid to play as the headlining band. The more common working class bands, on the other hand, were at the opposite end of the socio-musical spectrum. It reminds me of the class structure in some countries where there are a handful of wealthy people who own everything, while there are millions of poor people who have nothing.

We weren't good enough to be a headlining band; we were always the opening act. This in itself wasn't a problem. When we started out we were just playing for fun. House parties and most hall gigs were done on spec. There wasn't much money to be made from such events and so the thought of compensation was never an issue. However, there were some instances where an upper class band would be hired to play a gig at Dinwoodie or the SUB Theatre and be paid a respectable amount for one night's performance (e.g. $1500). It was common practice for such a band to hire a working class band to play the first set and not pay them anything. This happened to us a number of times and I resented it greatly. Granted we were nowhere as good as the headlining band, but if we were playing one out of the three sets that evening, I figured they could at least give us $100 just to cover our expenses. But it never worked that way. I wanted to turn down such gigs, but Mike would always accept them. If we did ask for money, the headlining band would just say "forget it" and ask a different band to open for them. So we had to choose between playing for free and getting some exposure, or not playing at all. This situation created numerous rifts between me and Mike and further strengthened my hatred towards playing live.

In December 1980 we heard about a gig being organized by Blank Generation called the New Music Festival. There were about 10 bands already signed up to play a day long event and we managed to get on the bill as well. The show was very well advertised and hundreds of people showed up including the music critics from the local newspapers. The Modern Minds were the headlining band but most of the other bands we had never heard of before. They must have all been high school or basement bands that had never played a live gig before. And we never heard from any of them after this show either. Because we were the last band to get on the bill, we were assigned the last slot at 1:00 am. Naturally, everything went behind schedule and we didn't get on stage until after 2:30 am. We were amazed that so many people stuck around to see us. For this gig I was still using my horrible Univox amplifier which had developed a habit of blowing fuses over the past few months. We played about five songs and then somebody told us it was getting too late and we could only play one more song. We tried to continue playing but my amp started to blow fuses. I kept replacing them and tried to finish the song, but eventually I ran out of fuses and we gave up. This had been a grueling 12 hour gig and I can understand why the people working there wanted us to stop so they could go home. The next day there was a review of the show in the newspapers. We were given absolutely scathing reviews, described as a "high energy lark" and "the worst noise I've ever heard". Surprisingly, the only picture from the show printed in the newspaper was one of us. So it was worth it.

Although we were always recording ourselves in practice, we had only one recording of us playing live. I was always curious as to what we sounded like live and managed to get the sound man to record our performance at the New Music Festival. The resulting tape horrified us all, it was a shocking boot to the head. We couldn't believe how bad we played and how correct the reviews of us were. We used this tape as a lesson and began a serious quest to concentrate more on our playing and less on jumping around like idiots. A high energy lark, indeed.

But weren't we just doing this for fun? Wasn't that the sole reason for us being a band in the first place? It may have begun that way, but by the end of 1980 we had made the transition from being a joke band to being a serious band. Striking a balance between having fun and concentrated performance would end up being difficult for us, if not impossible. We would find out all too often that our aspirations exceeded our abilities.

I sensed during the fall of 1980 that Dennis was dissatisfied with the state of the band. I recall some practices where Dennis was becoming increasingly annoyed with the rest of us as we joked around and made noise. There were numerous times when I fully expected him to quit. Dennis may have been the motivating factor in our changeover from joke band to serious band. In addition to the emphasis on musicianship, we also began the quest for a name change. We all agreed that we had to change our name if we wanted to be treated better than a joke band. As we had done in the beginning, we compiled a list with hundreds of names. I remember that it was difficult to be serious and we came up with a lot of joke names like "Scientific Americans", "Spasmodic Convulsions", and "Royal Visits". I believe it was Mike that came up with the "Malibu Kens". It was not too serious a name, but it was not too silly either. We sat on it for a while and couldn't come up with anything that we liked better. By the end of 1980 we decided that it was time to shed the Joey Did & The Necrophiliacs moniker. Although in January of 1981 we officially changed our name to the Malibu Kens, I still consider the band consisting of Dennis, Mike, Ed, and myself as being Joey Did. The real Malibu Kens would not emerge until July 1981 when Jungle Jim joined the band.

Dennis was also responsible for us making the plunge into vinyl. Once again, it was all his fault. The Modern Minds had released an EP, and the Rock 'n' Roll Bitches were about to release their EP. Dennis wanted to be the next band to release something on vinyl and managed to convince the rest of us. It would take several more months for us to make the plunge, but we began to work out the details regarding which songs to record, how much it would cost, and how we were going to pay for it.

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Last updated: October 14, 2017