Malibu Kens History Chapter 8

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.

VIII. We're Not a Band, We're a Machine [July 1982 - December 1982]

I don't recall too many gigs during the last half of 1982, but there were a number of other significant events. QCTV had a plan to videotape several local bands from the Krieg nightclub and present them on television. The tapings were done without an audience. We were scheduled to be taped one Sunday afternoon along with several other bands. Naturally, we were the last band for the day and the whole event was running way behind schedule. The band that were on before us, Backstreet, kept screwing up their songs and starting them over. They took forever to play their set. By the time they finished there was only a half hour left for us to play our set; we were supposed to have had about two hours. We had to zip through our set very quickly; no breaks, no reshoots. Unfortunately, we were having an off day and we played poorly, perhaps we were just angry about the whole situation. The video that was shot of us was also very poor. Our manager Ian watched it and complained profusely about how badly it was shot. We were very unimpressed with our performance and asked Ian to destroy the evidence; none of us wanted that video to be shown on TV. There weren't any other opportunities to reshoot another video of us at the Krieg. So we got QCTV to videotape Mike making Kraft Dinner instead. Mike's performance was shown in short segments throughout the show that was supposed to have featured the Malibu Kens along with various other bands. Although we didn't get any coverage of the band playing, at least we got some air time attributed to us. I recall someone describing it as "cute".

Another event that occurred at the Krieg was the West Watch fund raiser, during October and November 1982. Steve Honeyman was the manager for Office and had the idea of creating a compilation album featuring Edmonton bands. Compilation albums were not a new idea, but none had yet come from Edmonton. The album was to be entitled "West Watch" and we were selected to be on it along with about a dozen other bands. Each band was required to submit a professionally recorded song of theirs no longer than 3:30 in length and play at one of several fund raising events to raise the capital to press the album. Playing the fund raiser on October 24, 1982 was no problem for us, in fact, we put on a good show. The media even showed up and after the gig we were surprised to read good reviews of us in the newspaper. I still recall our previous review from the Ambassador Hotel in 1981, "No praise for the Malibu Kens. Hopeless." It was nice not having to see that again.

Coming up with a professionally recorded song for West Watch would prove to be a bit more difficult. Some bands, like Troc 59, had ample resources to create recordings because their manager owned Homestead Recorders. Steve Honeyman suggested that everyone go to Mo Marshall's studio near Devon to record their song. Mo had a 16 track studio in his house and offered decent rates, so we booked an evening to record Physical Poison. I'm not sure how we decided on which song to record. We had played Physical Poison for a while and thought it had the potential to be a hit. The song was only 2:30 long so we padded it out to our maximum allotment of 3:30 by adding an extended ending with lots of latin percussion. It was a goofy idea, but we wanted to try something different. I don't recall the exact day of the recording session. I do recall that it was very wintery and we had to drive out near Devon with our gear and our own tapes to record on. We set up in Mo's house around 4 pm and didn't finish until about 1 am. The session went alright; it was a simple song and we played it without any problems, although it took me a long time to get the background vocals correct. Ian was supposed to have come out there that evening with money so we could pay Mo once we finished the mix down. But he didn't show up. Eventually we phoned him and he said he was having problems getting his car started. So I had to drive back to Edmonton to get the money, then drive back to Devon to pay Mo, then drive all the other guys and our gear back to Edmonton. I didn't get home until about 4 or 5 am. That was a very long day, and I had to go back to university the next morning. The worst part of it was that, once again, I was unsatisfied with the recording. This always seemed to happen whenever I wasn't in total control of the recording and mixing process. As a result, I never kept a copy of that session. I didn't believe I needed to because I would be able to listen to it when it came out on vinyl in a few months. Boy, was I wrong.

Incidentally, the West Watch project was responsible for the first studio recording of SNFU. I played bass for them on Life of a Baglady/This is the End. We recorded that at CJSR studios and you can hear me laughing at the end. The recording was rejected by Steve Honeyman because he felt the quality was too poor compared to the recordings made at Mo Marshall's studio. He returned the tape to SNFU and many years later they released it as the B-side of a single. They gave me a copy of that single but they didn't credit me as the bass player.

The recording of Physical Poison at Mo's cost us about $700 in studio time and tape. We didn't have that much money and had to borrow some to pay for it. We were suddenly in desperate need to get a paying gig, and those were quite rare for us. We were getting desperate and considered the unthinkable: returning to The Calgarian. Somehow, we managed to get booked into The Calgarian for another solid week of hell from December 27 through January 1. We never wanted to go back there, but it was the only way we could come up with the money. We felt like we were volunteering to go back to prison. We had to keep saying to ourselves, "We have to do it, we need the money." Unlike the previous year, the weather was quite mild and we didn't freeze to death, nor were we stranded without a vehicle. However, the sound man, Tim, who had worked at The Calgarian on our two previous engagements, wasn't there anymore nor was there a proper PA system. Instead they had a much smaller PA that was more suited towards a practice space; it was for vocals only, no instruments could be miked. We were shocked. We had to keep repeating our mantra, "We have to do it, we need the money." I know that we stayed the whole week and did our usual four sets an evening for six evenings but I have no recall whatsoever about actually playing anything. I must have just shut my brain off for the whole week. The one thing I do remember is that we all had to crowd into one room. They gave us two rooms but one of them had a broken radiator which caused the carpet to become soaked and it smelled so awful you couldn't breathe. We tried to move the beds into the non-stinky room but when we picked up a mattress we found roaches in the bed so we left it alone. We checked the other room and we didn't find any roaches in there so we all just stayed in that room, spreading the mattresses out on the floor so that everyone had something to sleep on.

The only other thing I remember from that week was that Al McDonald (The Sturgeons) and Warren Kinsella (Hot Nasties) came over to visit us. Al was friends with Mike, Ed, and Jim and Warren was in town visiting his parents for the holidays. They made up a band (with two other guys from the Hot Nasties, Pierre Schenk and Tom Edwards I believe) and played a bunch of cover tunes one evening, acting as our opening band. They were hilarious. Too bad we didn't bring anything to record with that week.

During the next few months The Calgarian would stop having alternative bands and opt for country music instead. One of the last bands to play there was Shit From Hell which consisted of Al McDonald, Jim, and Ed. I believe they were the only group that ever got banned from The Calgarian. I heard a recording of their show and it was very funny. By the summer of 1983, a section of The Calgarian would collapse on itself after a fire. Eventually the whole building would be deemed unsafe and torn down. Thank gawd.

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Last updated: October 14, 2017