The Island

ISLAND DOES AVANT GARDE, CLUB MOD, & DADA AS PROTOPUNK ‘MOVEMENT’ (1980)

Selected local happenings from 1980 as chronicled in the "History of Houston Punk" series — part recollection, part oral history –published by PUNX in 1986.

TRANSCRIPT

“The Punk/Avant Garde connection is highlighted by a show at Rock Island…reportedly the best acoustic production ever held at the Island. The bands include the Ruse, Spermwhale, and Polyphony.”

"In April is the premiere of a new venue, the ‘ultimate hole in the wall’: Club Mod. The Tix host the Throb Prom at this dingy warehouse on Milam St…which has a single light hanging precariously from the ceiling. This party highlights the difference between sixties and eighties psychedelia: black and white nihilist clones in urban cage, but human nonetheless. Other bands to play here later are the Huns, Killerwatts, and Vast Majority."

"September 19 is a show of the Big Boys with Really Red at the Island. The Big Boys also play the Parade and Spit, and at the Spit, the management apparently does not like Biscuit’s brand of weirdness and pulls the plug."

"On 10-15 there is a Post feature, 'Punks, Wavers, and Posers': interviews with W. Wolff, Christian Arnheiter, David Bean, Margaret Moser, Dick Long, Henry Weissborn, etc."

"October's issue of XLR8 features the first of two parts: 'After the New Wave,' which is a fascinating and intellectual look at punk and new wave. It explores the protopunk movements of Dada, juvenile delinquency, and the street fighters of the sixties. It concludes with a positive encouragement for us to face the political and aesthetic challenge before us with integrity and individuality."

"On Halloween an art-space at 3221 Milam plays host to Culturcide and Really Red."

"On December 15, WILD DOG #4 is published and the Derailers make their club debut at the Parade…the club cuts them off early. This is the last punk show at Parade."

ORIGINAL ZINE IMAGES COURTESY OF   WILD DOG ARCHIVES  .

ORIGINAL ZINE IMAGES COURTESY OF WILD DOG ARCHIVES.

ALIENS INVADE THE ISLAND (1981)

“Roky Erickson, singer for the late and much-lamented Thirteenth Floor Elevators, the best psychedelic band to emerge from the Southwest, knows a good hallucination when he shrieks one.” – Rolling Stone (from a flyer promoting Roky Erickson’s appearance at the Island)

After being diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia in 1968, famed 13th Floor Elevators frontman Roky Erickson was committed to Rusk State Hospital in East Texas. Shortly after his release in 1974, he formed Roky Erickson & The Aliens. The band’s first full length album, I Think of Demons, debuted in 1980, followed by The Evil One in 1981.

“Two Headed Dog,” “I Walked With a Zombie,” and “Creature With an Atom Brain” are just a few of the hard-driving, horror-infused songs Roky Erickson penned that separated him from the Elevators’ psych rock sound. The early 1980s proved to be a prolific time for the artist as he produced new music and toured consistently throughout the U.S. and Europe.

In the summer of 1981, Roky Erickson & The Aliens returned to Houston for a gig at the Island, the city’s premier punk rock venue.

FLYER COURTESY OF   WILD DOG ARCHIVES  .

FLYER COURTESY OF WILD DOG ARCHIVES.

WILD DOG ZINE: THE HATES ON DESTRUCTION AT THE ISLAND (1981)

“In the past there have been a lot of situations where people were up and pogoing, but there has never been fist fighting and destruction as went on at my last two shows. There were things being thrown at us, and I liked it.” — Christian Kidd on performing at the Island, WILD DOG #5 (1981)

Christian Kidd (Arnheiter) formed Guyana Boys Choir with bassist Robert Kainer and drummer Mike McWilliams in 1978. The band’s first live performance took place December that same year as an opening act for legendary Zydeco performer Clifton Chenier, at the downtown Masonic Temple.

Guyana Boys Choir was short lived, and Kidd regrouped as Christian Oppression with drummer Glenn Sorvisto and bassist Ed Felch. The band was renamed The Hates after Kainer rejoined Kidd. The Hates’ first two EPs were recorded at Wells Sound in Houston in 1979 on the band’s private label, Faceless Records.

Christian Oppression, the second iteration of Hates frontman Christian Arnheiter’s band, perform at Houston’s   Paradise Island   club in 1979.    PHOTO BY   GLEN BROOKS  ; CONTRIBUTED BY   CHRISTIAN KIDD  .

Christian Oppression, the second iteration of Hates frontman Christian Arnheiter’s band, perform at Houston’s Paradise Island club in 1979.

PHOTO BY GLEN BROOKS; CONTRIBUTED BY CHRISTIAN KIDD.

“The punk scene in Houston is systematically suppressed,” Christian Kidd said in WILD DOG #1 (April 1979). Kidd noted in this 1981 interview with WILD DOG that punk shows were becoming more violent at the Island — and that he enjoyed the audience response.

“There’s a punk crowd in Houston, and this is part of that hardcore crowd,” he said. “It’s building up; before you just had a few people going crazy in the crowd. There seems to be different factions, too…they really didn’t get along, and I thought it was great.”

ORIGINAL GALLEY COURTESY OF WILD DOG ARCHIVES.

CAUGHT ON TAPE: LEGIONAIRE’S DISEASE, RUSE AND CHRISTIAN OPPRESSION (1979)

Legionaire’s Disease, Ruse, and Christian Oppression at Rock Island and Old Plantation — two of Houston’s earliest punk venues — in April and September 1979. This tape is from Dale Brooks (pictured) of Houston’s Video Boyz.

PHOTO CAPTION: “I’D THROW UP IF I KNEW WHICH WAY WAS UP.”

MEDIA COURTESY OF   WILD DOG ARCHIVES  .

MEDIA COURTESY OF WILD DOG ARCHIVES.

PUNK POLITICS AND PROTEST ANTHEMS: AK-47 LIVE AT THE ISLAND (1981)

“The man who killed Joe Torres / Never went to jail / The sniper who picked off Carl Hampton / Never paid any bail / The killers of Milton Glover / They might be pulling you over tonight / And if you happen to get shot / Well I guess you started the fight.”   — The Badge Means You Suck, AK-47 (1980)

“The Badge Means You Suck” is arguably one of the best protest punk songs against police brutality, and it originated in Houston.

AK-47 were an integral part of the musico-political affront taking place during Houston’s first wave. Formed the same year it debuted at the Rock Against Racism show at Paradise Island in 1979, the band released its polemic debut single The Badge Means You Suck/Kiss My Machine in 1980, which condemned the Houston Police Department (HPD) as racist and trigger-happy in spite of an antithetical department slogan at the time — The Badge Means You Care.

The Badge holds its own among other punk protest anthems such as Black Flag’s “Police Story” and “Hate the Police?” by Austin’s The Dicks. While AK-47 is considered a seminal punk band in late ’70s Houston, a hard driving sound influenced by Hawkwind and the previous era’s prog rock, long hair, and visual art showed some continuity between first wave punk and the psychedelic movement that preceded it. The iconic cover art by Jimmy Bryan is representative of this earlier generation.

The single’s front sleeve lists nine victims slain by HPD around the time, memorializing their names so they would not be lost to time. In the image’s background police wear full riot gear, and the HPD crest is displayed. The flipside cover for “Kiss my Machine” is a collage, which Jimmy coined “Machine Mandala.”

“I was the only hippie in the band,” he told Wild Dog Archives. “The point with my artwork was to inject the same imagery that fed much of the protest during the Sixties.” At several AK-47 performances, Jimmy — the band’s “art director” — would appear on stage wearing his own gas mask. Swaying to the rhythm, he controlled a “light show” of sorts that featured black and white transparencies (which he developed) displaying similar stark images.

“I wanted punks to understand that this movement, this music, was connected to the ’50s/’60s counterculture. Punk was not dissimilar; it was a continuum,” he said.

Whether you consider them hippies or punks, AK-47 had an impact on the early Houston punk scene, and “The Badge Means You Suck” lives on in protest of police brutality.

The Badge was written by Tim “Phlegm,” a journalist covering the Houston crime beat at the time.

PHOTO BY CHAN RAMOS; COURTESY OF THE   WILD DOG ARCHIVES.

PHOTO BY CHAN RAMOS; COURTESY OF THE WILD DOG ARCHIVES.