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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.”

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“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.”

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(Original zine images courtesy of Wild Dog Archives.)

 

Peel Talks Texas Punk, Spins Mydolls’ ‘In Technicolor’ on BBC Radio (1982)

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TRANSCRIPT

In January 1982, MYDOLLS took a holiday in London and were interviewed on the JOHN PEEL RADIO PROGRAM on BBC-1. Peel’s show came about in the mid-seventies and has since given first chances to now-renowned musicians. “Peely” spun IN TECHNICOLOR and expressed a great interest in the Texas music scene.

The fall of 1983 heralded further intimations of success: the band appears in a scene of Wim Wenders’ film PARIS, TEXAS, starring Nastassja Kinski, which won the coveted Palme d’Or at Cannes in 1984. Shot on location in Port Arthur, Texas, the film has MYDOLLS performing A WORLD OF HER OWN off their recent 12″ 45 EP SPEAK SOFTLY AND CARRY A BIG STICK

(Ephemera courtesy of Wild Dog Archives.)

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.)

‘PROTO-PUNX’ INFLUENCES & THE PSYCHEDELIC-PUNK CONTINUUM (1986)

Punx No. 2 (1986)

Henry “Wild Dog” Weissborn published the final issue (Vol. III, No. 1) of Houston’s first punk fanzine, WILD DOG, in August 1981. Published by Khosrow Amirazodi, PUNX magazine emerged from its parent ‘zine STUDIO X as one of several Houston underground publications filling the void as the underground music scene evolved from garage and experimental noise to hardcore.

Although this article in PUNX No. 2 appears less polished than previous writings, Weissborn contributed this editorial, “Proto-Punx…And Other Bizarre Facts About Animals,” as part of a series of important historical musings chronicling Houston’s early music and alternative press movements.

“Mus[i]cologists concede that Texas was an extremely fertile spawning ground for punk rock in the 60’s,” Weissborn wrote in 1986. “In particular, the 13th Floor Elevators loom large in the punk rock hall of fame.” A seminal punk and Texas underground influence, Roky Erickson and Elevators Tommy Hall and Stacy Sutherland set off the wave of acid rock that eventually peaked in the middle 1960s in San Francisco, “where the wave finally broke and rolled back,” leaving its high-water mark of a generation.

In addition to their contemporaries the 13th Floor Elevators, Houston’s own psychedelic rockers, the Red Crayola (later Red Krayola), also made a comeback in the New Wave, according to Weissborn. Red Krayola was formed in 1966 by a band of art students led by musician and visual artist Mayo Thompson from the University of St. Thomas.

In his “Proto-Punx” essay connecting the psychedelic and punk scenes, Houston’s Wild Dog had this insight to offer about urging on the underground momentum:

“Punk rock has always been ephemeral. This is its beauty. Here today, gone tomorrow. Anyone can do it. Bands come and go, but their legacy lives on forever on record. The challenge beckons.”

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(Original zine courtesy of Wild Dog Archives.)

NYC Underground Icon: ‘Hiya Kids, Blondie Fans Are the Best’ (1978-82)

In a pre-digital era, fan clubs were a means of community building and disseminating information, from new record releases, bios, and tour schedules to exclusive band merchandise. Beyond the promotional aspect of building artist identity, fan club ephemera were a means of establishing a personal connection with fans and followers.

Wild Dog Archives includes a number of press kits and promotional items from now defunct fan clubs as well as handwritten letters. Henry Wild Dog was a superfan of female-fronted bands such as the Helen Wheels Band and Blondie.

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“My life is like a late night rerun.” – Debbie Harry

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 (Official Blondie Fan Club ephemera and PUNK zine No. 10 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.)

Detroit’s NECROS on Wild Dog, Texas Punk, and Obscurity Out West (1981)

Henry “Wild Dog” Weissborn’s punk record collection was legendary. After his untimely passing, these artifacts were among the first to go — some dispersed among local collectors whose record shops displayed scarce and signed copies “from the personal collection of,” and others purchased by online auction enthusiasts.

Wild Dog Archives recently spoke to a record store owner in town about his high-dollar sale of the Necros four-song EP Sex Drive — the band’s 1981 debut and the first Touch and Go Records release — a choice pick from Henry’s collection proving its weight in the collector’s market. While this scarce record is no longer among the artifacts that comprise Wild Dog Archives, original letters from band members, including Necros vocalist Barry Henssler, leave an indelible mark about Henry Wild Dog’s status as both ally and unofficial ambassador of Houston’s early scene.

In September 1981, Henssler sent Wild Dog several Necros flyers, including one with a hand scrawled letter on the back discussing his view on MDC/Stains and The Dicks (before garnering fame outside of Austin), The Hates, keeping shows close to home or touring the West Coast (though he says the band was not widely known there), his own zine, SMEGMA JOURNAL (out of hometown Maumee, Ohio), and sending a copy of the new Necros EP.

“We send in the tape tomorrow,” Henssler wrote. “Don’t worry you’ll get one.”

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(Original Flyer courtesy of Wild Dog Archives.)