Malibu Kens History Chapter 9

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.

IX. Mocking Oblivion [January 1983 - June 1983]

Kim Upright had stayed in contact with us throughout our career from the time we recorded Be My Barbie in 1981. He sat in on some of our practices and gave us constructive criticism which we greatly appreciated. He also secured a number of gigs for us over the years. We were becoming dissatisfied with our current manager and noted that Kim was finding more gigs for us than Ian was. I don't recall the exact date, but early in 1983 we asked Kim to be our new manager. Ian wasn't very happy about that; he believed he was doing everything he could to find us gigs. Fact was, Joey Did had played more gigs than the Malibu Kens had. Of course it was all our fault, we weren't very good and everyone hated us. Nothing that our manager could fix.

In January of 1983 we embarked on our most ambitious recording project to date. Inspired by the success of the Joey Did project from 1982 I came up with a plan to record all of the Malibu Kens songs and release them on cassette. Entitled Mock Chicken, it was to be our third (and final) demo tape. Mock Chicken took months to record and was never completed, nor could it be, since it was a running document of all of our original work. Rather than being simply an archive of finished songs, Mock Chicken was an opportunity for us to develop our rough ideas into completed songs. We had many songs in development that we didn't know how to complete. By recording them to tape we were able to work out different vocal melodies, lyrics, guitar leads, background vocals, and instrumentation. The drum and bass tracks for several dozen songs were all recorded in one day with Ed playing all the drums and Jim playing most of the bass tracks (there were a couple of new songs where I played bass). Some songs, e.g. I'm Shaken, never got past the drum and bass stage because the rhythm or arrangement was incorrect and unsalvageable. Mike and I then spent the next few months painstakingly developing these drum and bass tracks into completed songs. We recorded almost every weekend at my house trying out different instrumentation, lyrics, and melodies. Some songs were easy to record, some were very difficult, and some we just couldn't figure out what to do with and they were never completed.

All of our previous recordings were done with either two or four tracks. I found this very limiting and for Mock Chicken I devised an insane scheme to manually synchronize two tape machines to give us eight effective tracks. This scheme required pre-mixing drums, bass, and rhythm guitar on 4-track down to stereo (on cassette) and then reusing the 4-track for vocals and further instrumentation. Since the songs were still under development, I had to guess at how to premix the drums, bass, and rhythm guitar. In most cases, the guesses were wrong which resulted in there being no bass on many of the songs, much to Jim's dismay. But the most difficult part was manually synchronizing the two tape machines while doing the final mix. The machines would drift apart and I had to constantly adjust the playback speed of the 4-track to follow the cassette while doing the mix. Each song took hours to mix down. By the time I could hear that the machines were out of sync, it was too late to adjust the playback speed and so I'd have to start over again. Every song on Mock Chicken suffers from this timing anomaly, through it's less noticeable on the shorter songs. I will never again resort to manual synchronization.

Completed songs from Mock Chicken trickled out at the rate of one or two a week and despite the technical gaffes, we were quite pleased with the results. CJSR were always eager to play music by local bands, especially after the CRTC came up with the Canadian content regulations. I noticed that the life span of any local music they played was about two or three weeks. So every three weeks I would make a trip to CJSR to put a song from Mock Chicken onto a cart for air play. I continued to do this throughout 1983, even after the Malibu Kens had broken up. Almost every song from Mock Chicken was played on CJSR at some time during 1983; we had more air play than any other local band.

Sometime during the spring of 1983 we recorded another radio interview. I wasn't present and I don't know which radio station it was for, but the host was Dave Schulze and it featured small clips of songs from Mock Chicken along with Physical Poison from the upcoming West Watch album.

On April 7, 1983 we began three nights (Thursday - Saturday) at RATT. We had tried numerous times to get into RATT after getting fired from there almost two years earlier but the management were adamant in not letting us return. Kim Upright managed to convince them to give us another chance, assuring them that we had improved considerably over those two years. The theme of the gig was Hawaiian beach party. Kim Upright designed some great posters for the gig. I borrowed a large assortment of Hawaiian decorations (fake palm trees and bamboo huts with thatched roofs) from a Safeway store where I had a part time job. We set up these decorations around our equipment in the NW corner of RATT. It was very silly but provided an interesting ambience. The gig itself went not too badly. The crowd was sparse on Thursday but, and this is the point, we didn't get fired! The place was packed on Friday and we put on a good show that evening. However, on Saturday the crowd was sparse again because OMD were playing in Dinwoodie that night. Once again, I have no recall of actually being on stage and playing anything. What I remember most about this gig was that we stayed up for three days straight without getting any sleep. Each night after we played we found something to do, we never went home to rest, we just kept being the inseparable Malibu Kens 24 hours a day.

After the Thursday show at RATT, we were hanging out at CJSR and we ran into Anthony Chau who was a phenomenal supporter of local bands (he was one of the few people who gave us good reviews). He had a video camera with him and suggested we make a video for our current song on CJSR, She Talks in Rhyme. We weren't doing anything else that evening so we made up a bunch of silly scenes with Mike wandering around campus lip syncing the song while the rest of us jumped into the scene like a heavenly choir during the chorus. We were up until 3 or 4 am that night. We never saw the finished product, if there ever was one, but we had fun doing it.

A week after playing RATT Jim managed to get us a gig playing a year end party for NAIT students. Despite a shaky start it would turn out to be one of our best gigs of our career. The party was held in a community hall on a Friday night. Since it was a paid gig, we were able to hire someone to do the sound for us. We set up our gear in the afternoon and were expecting to do a sound check between 4 and 5 pm. We waited, and waited, and waited some more. Eventually, we began to get nervous as the clock ticked past 6 pm. We gave him a call and he said he was having problems getting his truck started and would be there soon. We figured he thought the gig was on Saturday, rather than Friday, good thing we caught him before he went out for the evening. He got there around 8 pm just as people were starting to show up for the hall party. We had to set up the PA very quickly and didn't get much chance to do a proper sound check before beginning our first set. We played four half hour long sets that evening, as we had done at The Calgarian. The gig was easy for us to play because by that time we must have had 100 songs in our repertoire and we were used to playing an entire evening by ourselves. The students had arranged to have an air-guitar competition that evening and invited people from the newspapers and radio stations to come down and be the judges. That gave us a tiny bit of media exposure and we did get a good review in the newspaper the next day. What I remember most about the gig was how well we were received by the crowd. They didn't clap much, but the dance floor was packed the entire evening, from the very first song to the very last. We had never played a gig like that before. Previously we were viewed as the annoying opening band, or the annoying bar band. We had never been the life of the party before. Little did we know at the time that we were playing our last gig.

By the end of Spring 1983 we were all wondering what happened to the West Watch album. Eventually we found out that Steve Honeyman had shelved the project after failing to raise enough money to get the album printed. We were very disappointed to hear this. Especially after what we had to go through to be on the album. Playing a benefit gig at the Krieg was not difficult, even the recording of Physical Poison at Mo Marshall's was not too odious. But having to spend another week of our lives in the roach infested hellhole of The Calgarian to pay for the recording was sickening. I never kept a cassette dub of the West Watch version of Physical Poison and to this day it remains "the lost recording".

Around the same time that West Watch vapourized, Barry Peters came to the rescue with his own concept of an Edmonton compilation album. Unlike the fiasco that was West Watch, Barry's It Came From Inner Space album was pure manna from heaven. Barry rented a warehouse, a 4-track, and some other basic recording equipment and invited several local bands to come down and record a couple of their songs. The bands didn't have to pay for anything, they just had to play their songs. Barry paid for everything. We were invited to be on the album and recorded Party's Over and 421-1111 in May 1983. Barry was also kind enough to let me handle all the production of our songs. Naturally, I was very pleased with the end result and I believe it is still the best recording that the Malibu Kens ever made. We only had four tracks to work with, but since we had already worked out the arrangements for these songs on Mock Chicken, we had no problems producing them for Barry's album. These recordings also mark the first time that Mike played guitar on a recording; I had played guitar on all other Malibu Kens recordings. The album was released several months later and we received good reviews. A Vancouver review noted that the highlights of the album were Facecrime and the Malibu Kens, and that we had improved substantially since the release of Be My Barbie two years earlier. Unfortunately, the Malibu Kens wouldn't be around to enjoy the praise.

It was during the final production of It Came From Inner Space in June 1983 that the Malibu Kens split up for the last time. Mike and I had gotten into yet another fight and he quit the band again. This split didn't seem any different than all the other times that someone had quit, we naturally assumed that we'd get back together again after a few days, weeks, or even months. But it didn't work out that way. The split came at an awkward time because Barry did not want to have any bands on his record that were broken up. In order to remain on the record we assured Barry that the Malibu Kens were still a band and that we were actively looking for another singer. We edited two photos of us that were to be included on the album by snipping out Mike. In the liner notes we made no mention of Mike other than describing ourselves as "Three conniving money grubbing tune smiths and one grade A, card carrying, government inspected hog." When the record was released everyone was horrified at how we had cut Mike out of the pictures and liner notes. They all thought we were very mean. But Mike wasn't surprised at all by what we did, he fully expected us to do that. By the end of June 1983 the Malibu Kens had ceased to be. Although I expected us to eventually get back together again, it never happened. We were never a success nor would we ever become one, and I think we all knew that. It was time for us all to move on to other things and get on with our lives. Breaking up the Malibu Kens was the best thing that ever happened to Mike, who went on to a successful career with numerous incarnations of Junior Gone Wild. Over the years Ed would wind up playing in almost every band on the planet while earning the epithet "the most hated man in show business." Jim created a psychedelic band, the Electric Shadows, and later moved to Montreal where he played with the Asexuals. Ed, Jim, and Mike all played in Jerry Jerry at one time or another. Apart from helping Jim record a song with the Electric Shadows, I never played in another band again. And for that, I am grateful.

The last thing Joey ever Did was to practice for a possible reunion gig. I don't recall exactly when this happened, sometime in the mid 1980s. At the time, Ed and Mike were playing in Junior Gone Wild. I met them, along with Dennis, in a warehouse where Junior Gone Wild practiced. The idea was for Joey Did to open for SNFU at an upcoming show. SNFU were quite popular at that time and they were expecting a large crowd for this show. We cobbled together a possible set list using songs from the Snot Rock tape and played them through once or twice. I don't recall anything happening after that; we never played the gig. Joey Did has never been seen since.

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Last updated: October 14, 2017