Austin Punk

Austin Surf Pop Punk: Alien Beach Party on Live Wire Records (1979)

The Delinquents debuted their 1960s garage/psych/fuzz rock inspired Alien Beach Party 7″ EP in 1979. The band formed out of the Austin music scene that, unlike the Houston underground, was recognized internationally during the 1970s for its cosmic cowboy, outlaw country, and psychedelic/acid rock influences. As part of the emerging punk and new wave scene, the band performed at Raul’s rock club, Austin’s counterpart to the Island in Houston.

Lester Bangs, “America’s greatest rock critic” and famed writer for Detroit-based CREEM magazine, lived in Austin for a brief stint and recorded his lone studio effort with the band at Earth & Sky Studios in 1981. Both albums were released on band members Brian and Melinda Curley’s label, Live Wire Records.

The surf pop punk, new wave sounds of Alien Beach Party (Side B1: Do You Have A Job For A Girl Like Me?/Side B2: Motivation Complex) were created by the band’s initial lineup (there were several iterations): Layna Pogue (vocalist), Andy Fuertsch (guitar), Tim Loughran (engineer and drums), Mindy Curley (keyboards), and Brian Curley (bassist and producer).

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(Media courtesy of Wild Dog Archives.)

Austin’s The Dicks on New Wavoid Rejection, Radical Messages (1981)

“I think The Dicks were one of the earliest poster bands…When I returned from San Francisco, several friends said, ‘It’s too bad all of us want to be singers and none of us can play anything.’ I said, ‘Why don’t we just lie? Let’s make up a band, and call it The Dicks.'” – Gary Floyd (Vocals)

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(Original galley courtesy of Wild Dog Archives.)

Houston’s Wild Dog Dancing to Austin’s Big Boys at the Island (1980)

Formed in 1979, The Big Boys led the vanguard of Austin’s emerging hardcore punk scene alongside fellow agent provocateurs The Stains (later named MDC) and The Dicks.

Ben DeSoto, an award-winning local photographer, activist, and chronicler of early punk imagery in Houston, captured these two photos of Henry “Wild Dog” Weissborn in the crowd at a Big Boys show held at the Island, Houston’s Main St. punk venue, in 1980.

This is Henry Wild Dog in his element, heavily politicized from the beginning.

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(A Wild Dog stare from the middle of a Big Boys crowd at the Island, 1980. Photo by DeSoto; Source: The Island – Punk Rock Houston)

George Henry Weissborn, Jr., who is completely unknown to many outside of Houston, was born in New Orleans in 1955. His family moved to Houston shortly after and he was raised in southwest Houston. At the age of 14, Henry’s adolescence was informed by the thriving countercultural scene happening in Houston in the late 1960s. In an article dated November 14, 1978, published in the University of Houston’s Daily Cougar, Henry cited his reading of SPACE CITY! in 1969 as the catalyst for his involvement in the Yippie! movement. While most of the evidence shows that the Youth International Party (YIP) had waned drastically from its late 1960s roots, Henry Weissborn proudly carried the flag in Houston as a student activist.

An avid collector, writer, and archivist, Henry amassed one of the largest personal collections of grassroots literature in the city. He joined the Socialist Revolutionary Anarchist Federation and the YIP, and he led a three-member Direct Action Committee on the UH campus through the mid- to late-70s. He collected pamphlets, literature, and handwritten letters from a number of similar groups throughout the country. In all, Weissborn documented the latter phase of the counterculture as it moved from the hopeful days of the late 1960s through to the Watergate era of distrust and the crushing blow of Reagan-inspired conservatism throughout much of the early 1980s. Among his archives are the street view of Houston’s underground with runs of SPACE CITY!, ABRAXAS, and MOCKINGBIRD–three renditions of alternative press in Houston that focused primarily on continued psychedelic awakening, civil rights activism, and an end to police brutality.

Henry Wild Dog also channeled that anger through his pen. In 1976, he was a junior studying Sociology at the University of Houston. At 21, he was connected internationally to a wide network of anarchists, socialists, and activists. His archives show that he avidly wrote letters, sent self-addressed stamped envelopes, and requested copies of virtually every newsletter, quarterly, and mail order catalog he could get his hands on that would provide him a means to expand his garage rock and punk collection of albums and ephemera and introduce him to new noise in the most obscure regions, not just the East and West Coasts. Weissborn was experienced on both an academic and esoteric level.

By most accounts, Weissborn was a card carrying member of any social justice cause he joined. His activist publication, ULTRA, evolved into WILD DOG zine after he helped organize a Yippie outdoor concert turned punk rock debut at the Paradise Island. Communication and political action remained common drivers throughout Henry Wild Dog’s life.

He passed away unexpectedly in 2008.

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(Henry Wild Dog (in white shirt), 1980. Photo by DeSoto. Source: The Island – Punk Rock Houston)

Lester Bangs, Austin Surf Punk and Jook Savages on the Brazos (1980)

“Austin’s surf punkers The Delinquents are joined on stage at Club Foot by professional rock critic Lester Bangs. Bangs, who is swinging the microphone stand in the [below] picture, is also featured as guest vocalist on an upcoming elpee [sic] by the Delinquents.” – 1980 photo caption, WILD DOG zine

That LP was Jook Savages on the Brazos, which Lester Bangs and The Delinquents recorded on the band’s label, Live Wire Records, in 1980. According to Let It Blurt: The Life and Times of Lester Bangs, America’s Greatest Rock Critic by Jim Derogatis, the famed music journalist briefly transplanted in Austin in an earnest attempt to front a band in the local music scene widely recognized for its outlaw country and psychedelic influences.

Most notably, Lester Bangs and The Delinquents opened for NYC experimental rock new wavers the Talking Heads at the Armadillo World Headquarters Nov. 21, 1980, before Bangs would record his lone studio effort with the band. After packing the house on the eve of its final closure, the Armadillo (formerly the legendary psych venue Vulcan Gas Company), shuttered on New Year’s Day 1981.

Formed in the late 1970s in Austin, The Delinquents debuted their 1960s garage/psych/fuzz rock inspired EP Alien Beach Party in 1979. Its self-titled album was independently released the following year via Live Wire Records.

Lester Bangs, the writer whose poison pen and harsh criticism of MC5’s Kick Out the Jams first landed him a gig with Rolling Stone in 1969, died from an accidental overdose on April 30, 1982.

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(Photo by Michelle Levinas; original galley courtesy of Wild Dog Archives.)

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(Original Delinquents shirt courtesy of Wild Dog Archives.)

Wild Dog Zine: The Stains, Austin Punk and Drone Reality (1981)

“Punk rock is wanting to indulge in one’s own kicks unmolested in a society that doesn’t allow it, and in the meantime having to live with the fact that man can destroy himself and is on the verge of it daily. It’s a way of letting everybody know, hey, this is fucked up and that we want to change it and that the plastic bullshit that’s happening everyday just isn’t it.” – Ron Posner, Stains guitarist (From a 1981 interview with WILD DOG zine)

By Wild Dog’s standards, The Dicks and The Stains were Austin’s leading punk bands during the scene’s formative years in Texas in the early 1980s. Along with Big Boys, The Dicks and The Stains frequently gigged together in Austin before both bands relocated to San Francisco, after which The Stains became Millions of Dead Cops (M.D.C./MDC).

Original Stains songs “John Wayne was a Nazi,” “Born to Die,” and “Dick for Brains” were later included on the Millions of Dead Cops LP (1982). The band went on to record music with Jello Biafra through his Alternative Tentacles label.

WILD DOG zine sat down with The Stains in 1981 to discuss revolutionary ideals, what constitutes a good band (influences include the Sex Pistols and Black Flag among others), and the band’s personal definition of punk rock.

NOTE: The Stains had released their own zine, The Austin American Stainsman, at the time of publication.

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(Photos by Amy Mann and Michelle Levinas; original galley courtesy of Wild Dog Archives.)

Wild Dog Zine: Legionaire’s Disease, SLUGGO! and Austin’s 1206 Club (1979)

“Punk to us was: Do what you want, whatever the fuck it is, as long as your heart is in it.” –  Jerry Anomie, Legionaire’s Disease

The Houston and Austin punk scenes manifested simultaneously yet from different soil. Both cities began experimenting with shows in 1978. Houston had Paradise Island and Austin’s stomping ground was a near-campus Tejano Bar called Raul’s, which hosted early punk performances from The Violators, The Skunks, and The Huns.

Judging by this letter to WILD DOG from SLUGGO! – Austin’s original punk fanzine – the banter seemed friendly enough on the surface between the competing scenes. While Wild Dog is lauded for its coverage in “Smogville,” there were menacing threats toward what Henry described as “the most notorious, original Houston punk band,” Legionaire’s Disease.

The “Diseased ones” formed during the earliest days of Houston’s embryonic punk scene. Discussing the band’s early shows, frontman Jerry Anomie told Wild Dog Archives, “Some bands were busy rehearsing, and they wouldn’t play for an audience until they got good.” In the DIY spirit of the times, Legionaire’s Disease followed a different tactic. “Man, we just started doin’ shows, you know.”

Anomie was the undisputed wild man of the Houston punk scene. “Anything could happen at our shows, and it usually did,” Anomie says. Brawls, fist fights, and full-fledged riots have been attributed to many Disease gigs.

Legionaire’s Disease was still a cover band in early 1979 with its roster of songs by the Dead Boys, Iggy Pop, Richard Hell, and the Sex Pistols. “What we had going for us was that we put on wild ass shows,” Anomie says. Released from prison in 1973, Anomie literally had no fear and there were few limits to his brazen stage antics when he was in high gear. “Our shows were wild as a motherfucker.”

The Huns from Austin were introduced to the Disease at a show at the Island. “We never did really connect with any Austin bands,” Anomie notes. “They were mostly college guys, and we considered most Austin bands as arty farty with the exception of The Dicks, Big Boys, The Huns, and a few others.” After hearing about the chaos of a Disease performance, The Huns invited the band to play in Austin.

Legionaire’s Disease accepted the offer and made the trip to Austin in mid-April 1979 shortly after their Rock Against Racism performance.

(continued below…)

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(Original galley courtesy of Wild Dog Archives.)

Stabbing at Austin’s 1206 Club

The 1206 Club was a dive bar in Austin. “It was an old hippie bar in a black section of town,” Anomie recalls. Historically, the building was once the famed “Charlie’s Playhouse,” which opened in 1958 as a blues and jazz club. It was a known hot spot throughout the 1960s and shuttered in 1970. At the time of the Huns/Legionaire’s Disease gig, the 1206 Club had recently reopened in December 1978, and punk bands performed there as a side stage to Raul’s.

“The place was packed, and the old hippie that ran it made a lot of money off the bar,” Anomie says. “He asked us that night if we would come back and play in two weeks, and we said ‘Hell yes.’”

What the Disease didn’t know was that the core of Austin’s punk scene had come out against the band just after that first performance. SLUGGO! had published a scathing review of Legionaire’s Disease, and the band came back to a near empty house. Says Anomie, “They just didn’t like us; they thought we should have more artistic ability.”

There are two ways to look at small crowds, according to Anomie. “Some bands would get discouraged if they didn’t have a turnout. For us, the fewer people we had at a show the harder we would play.” He adds that the Disease’s second show in Austin was “one wild ass show!”

After the band’s set, Anomie approached the club owner for a cold drink. “I ain’t got nuthin’ for you!” was the reply. “I thought to myself, ‘we’d better get outta here. This is about to turn nasty,’” Anomie remembers.

He and the band started to load up, but before they could leave, Anomie’s nephew, drunk from the show, turned over a table inside the club. “When he did that, this guy punched him,” Anomie says. “Next thing I know, Norman’s got this guy jacked up and he’s trying to push him through the window, and then the fight spilled into the street.”

Within minutes, a crowd had gathered from the surrounding neighborhood. “Franky Frazier, who was known around the Houston scene as a bad motherfucker, had a baseball bat and we were all in full swing.” Anomie then witnessed an unknown assailant stab bassist Norman Cooper in the back, which ultimately punctured his lung and landed him in the hospital overnight. He snuck out of the hospital the next day.

The fight after this gig proved to be the end of Austin’s 1206 Club. And what appears to be a tongue-in-cheek insult from SLUGGO! is referencing a brutal assault that took place only weeks before the letter was written. Although the “junk rot” reference may sound harsh, Anomie explains the band “didn’t get good until I finally got David Tolbert and Craig Haynes on guitar and drums.”

Once the band acquired the rehearsal space behind the Old Plantation, its sound improved and by the end of 1979, Legionaire’s Disease had released its first single Rather See You Dead/Downtown, introducing Houston punk in the New York, L.A., and San Francisco scenes.

Flipside Video Fanzine No. 1 (1984)

Established in August 1977, FLIPSIDE fanzine covered the early L.A. punk scene. The first issue featured an interview with Eulogy and performance reviews for The Quick and Devo.

One of the more successful publications to emerge from the first wave in the U.S., FLIPSIDE evolved from a small-run, photocopied zine to a glossy newsprint with worldwide distribution. After a 23-year run, the publication folded in 2000.

Since debuting his zine in April 1979, Henry “Wild Dog” Weissborn exchanged news about the Houston and L.A. scenes with founding editor Al “Flipside” Kowalewski.

In 1984, FLIPSIDE began releasing video fanzines featuring live punk performances and interviews with both local and touring bands. The first of the series featured live shows and recordings from Social Distortion, the Vandals, Black Flag, and the Circle Jerks and an interview with M.D.C., an original Austin punk band that relocated to San Francisco.

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(Media courtesy of Wild Dog Archives.)