From the Archives

Wild Dog Zine: Phil Hicks’ ‘Cage’ and No Wave Pop at the Island (1981)

“The overall concept of the band is two girls and alot [sic] of machinery…there is a discordant…there is a quirky element to it. It’s highly personal music, you know?…This is Mod-Art. Get up and dance.” – Mechanical Servants (From a May 1981 interview at the Island)

Releasing only one EP in 1980, New York’s Mechanical Servants consisted of two female vocalists with an arsenal of musical apparatus – Pamela Kifer on guitar, organ, and synthesizer and Victoria Harper on bass, typewriter, and synthesizer. According to Kifer’s Tumblr, where there are photos from a past gig at the Island and pool party with the Bongos in Houston, the tech no-wave duo self-recorded their four-song EP (and only known surviving record), Min X Match, on the Mystery Toast label.

A long-time fan of female fronted groups, Henry “Wild Dog” Weissborn attended the Mechanical Servants’ show Sunday, May 17, 1981, at the Island, after which the band joked about bruises from their performance, which featured male go-go dancers (what must have seemed an odd number at the mostly punk rock dive), and Island manager Phil Hicks’ bondage themed props. “Servants 1 and 2” also discussed plans to release a second independent effort, Zombies Go Home, a nod to NYC’s 3 a.m. crowd.

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(Original galley courtesy of Wild Dog Archives.)

Mydolls: Punk Idealism and Missing Teeth at the Island (1980)

Houston’s female fronted Mydolls was formed in 1978 by guitarist and vocalist Trish Herrera and bassist Dianna Ray. Linda (Bond) Younger, guitar and vocals, and drummer George Reyes complete the original lineup, which continues to perform today, nearly four decades later.

Inspired by protopunk legends from the early New York scene, Mydolls recorded their first single, Nova Grows Up/Therapist, in 1980. Their second 45 release, Exorcist/Imposter (1982), and 12″ album Speak Softly and Carry a Big Stick (1983), also were produced on Houston independent label CIA Records, which was founded by Houston punk progenitors (and friends of the band) Really Red.

In 1986, the year Mydolls originally disbanded, PUNX magazine out of Houston published a three-part series on the “History of Houston Punk.” Part 3 focused on the year 1980, featuring short narratives from the city’s founding punks and first wavers, including Mydolls.

‘My Personal Anarchy’ (below) was contributed by Trish Herrera, recounting the female punk experience in Houston.

I was a rebellious back-up singer from Kinky Friedman and the Texas Jewboys. Having been strip-searched and arrested for not putting on my blinkers when changing lanes, I was fairly oblivious to limitation.

“Mydolls’ friendship developed into 5 and a half years of expressing repressed emotions about our fucked up system. Being new and inexperienced became beneficial…we were oblivious of breaking rules. We didn’t care if we were viewed as fashion risks until one day Dianna’s teeth were knocked out by some Island tourist jock who shoved her, face first from the back of the dance floor, claiming she was a ‘fucking waver.’ This incident gave new perspective on the punk idealism, originally being ‘acceptance of any human being’…overlooking the problem that not many of us know how to behave as human beings.

“We always wore black as a memorial to the symbolism in Dianna’s missing teeth, and it stuck.”  

NOTE: According to an interview in Maximum RockNRoll #356 published in January 2013, Dianna Ray lost her two front teeth watching the Butthole Surfers perform at the Island in 1982.

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(Media courtesy of Wild Dog Archives.)

Wild Dog Zine: Island Owner Phil ‘Hix’ on Stolen Mics and Broken Glass (1979)

“There will be some regulations, rules, standards, or something of the sort – I hate to use the words ‘rules and regulations’ – about who helps clean up. We used to have popcorn in here. Instead of eating it, they threw it.” – Phil Hicks (From a 1979 interview in WILD DOG zine)

Paradise Island (Parasite Island), Rock Island, and later just the Island was Houston’s first designated punk rock venue, an exile’s dive on Main Street converted from a former Mexican restaurant. The club was run from 1978 to 1983, debuting many local first wave acts such as Christian Oppression (later the Hates, Houston’s longest running punk band) and AK-47 while also hosting nationally famous bands, including X, Black Flag, and Dead Kennedys.

In a 1979 interview by John Peters for WILD DOG #3, Island owner Phil Hicks spoke candidly about whether his club would survive overhead and damage costs from unruly punk crowds or sell out to disco investors, Austin versus Houston, Legionaire’s Disease’s notorious performances, and whether to leave broken glass on the floor in the spirit of its destructive shows.

“If rock’n’roll doesn’t pay the bills then I will be satisfied that I have experimented at all levels,” he said. “I don’t think it’s fair for me to support a building and not to at least be able to experiment and try different things. I have never put popular rock’n’roll bands in here, not because of the budget, but because I started out with a game plan of having a place so that unexposed talent or bands could come in here, so they would have a place to play in front of people and could get a start. Momentumwise [sic], emotionally – so they could get out of their practice room.”

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(Original galley; first page out of six courtesy of Wild Dog Archives.)

Search & Destroy: Iggy Pop at San Francisco’s Old Waldorf (1977)

“We thought LUST FOR LIFE would come out and knock the world backward; we were wrong. It was kind of like working on FUN HOUSE. That was a great album…people hated it.”Iggy Pop (From a 1977 interview with Search & Destroy’s Lynn X.)

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(Search & Destroy No. 4, 1977; photo by Richard Peterson; image courtesy of Wild Dog Archives.)

CLE Magazine: Issue 2, North Coast Punk and the Electric Eels (1978)

“The [Electric] Eels were an extremely loud, controversial assault on their audience. They were also very entertaining. The Eels are gone for now but there are some excellent tapes floating around. It would be great to have some of them released.”Michael Weldon, contributing editor, CLE

Issue 2 of Cleveland, Ohio’s underground punk periodical CLE was released in the fall of 1978, a year after its debut in winter 1977. Covering the local first wave scene, CLE was founded by then 18-year-old Jim Ellis, who served as editor and publisher for the full five-issue run until the publication folded with Issue 3B in spring 1981.

Henry “Wild Dog” Weissborn reached out to emerging scenes from coast to coast. This scarce publication from his archives remains an imprint of early North Coast punk.

“Watch CLE for more on the Eels, Mirrors, Tin Huey, Rocket from the Tombs, Milk, Devo, Styrene/Money Band, Pere Ubu, the Wolves, Friction, Cinderella Backstreet, Bizzaros, Teenage Jesus and the Jerks…” – Footnote to “Electric Eels: Attendance Required,” Issue 2

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(Original zine courtesy of Wild Dog Archives.)

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.)

Imagery of Revolt: AK-47’s The Badge and the Machine Mandala (1980)

One of the most iconic records to come out of the first wave Houston punk scene, AK-47’s The Badge Means You Suck (/Kiss My Machine, 1980) was a protest anthem against Houston’s Police Department (HPD), which had a documented history of racism and extreme violence during the 1970s. Nine victims are named on the cover of Badge, among them 23-year-old veteran Joe Campos Torres and 21-year-old activist Carl Hampton. The HPD tried unsuccessfully to sue the band after the flipside’s release in 1980.

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(Original artwork by Jimmy Bryan; original signed lyric sheet courtesy of Wild Dog Archives.)

Wild Dog Zine: Joan Jett & the Blackhearts at the Agora (1981)

“It’s hard for me to even think about being a feminist. When people say, ‘You are a girl, you can’t do this,’ I can’t even conceive of that.” Joan Jett in WILD DOG zine 

According to Joan Jett, founding member of The Runaways, Texas had always been good for the band. The Runaways played an early punk show with The Ramones in Houston in 1977, before Houston’s first wave emerged. After disbanding in 1979, Jett headed to England to record alongside Paul Cook and Steve Jones, original members of the Sex Pistols. In 1980, Jett released a self-titled album on Ariola (U.K. import); the domestic LP was released by Jett and bandmate Kenny Laguna on their independent label Blackheart Records.

Joan Jett & the Blackhearts sat down with WILD DOG in 1981 following a performance at the Agora Ballroom to discuss Jett as feminist icon, Wyoming’s Accelerators, British glitter influences and living in N.Y.C.

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(Photos by Reta and Judy Hill; Original galley courtesy of Wild Dog Archives.)