It seems you're using an old browser. In order to view this site correctly, we advise you to upgrade your browser, or try the free Mozilla Firefox.

Print Email

Love & sex

Where the hell are they now?

Lipstick tracing 25 years of Detroit music

MT Photo: Jen Jeffrey.
The Atomic Numbers: '90s power pop.
MT Photo: Jen Jeffrey
Sans dicks: Inside Out in the '90s.
Delicious vinyl: Inside Out's Karen Neal, version 2005.
Photo courtesy: M. Snot, msigarmy.com
Bloody disgusting: Boom & the Legion of Doom's Toxic Matt belts it out at the Warehouse, Chicago, March 1987.
Out of rotation: Rotator, date unknown.
Nice doorknockers: Smiley in 1989.
Let it blow: The Walter White/Rick Margitza Quintet at Baker'sKeyboard Lounge.
Mug shot: Itchy from Shock Therapy.
Photo: Doug Coombe
Tim McHugh: Rioteers days.
photo: Sandra Wolff-Aller
Shock Therapy in Germany, 1991 (from left): Dustin Aller, Joe Santori II, Itchy, Cliff Hill and Keith Jackson.
Angry Red Planet in Chicago, circa 1985. Photo/Corey Rusk.
MT photo: Doug Coombe
John Speck of the Fags.
MT photo: Jennifer Jeffery
From l: Graham and Paluzzi back in the Hoarse days.
Forced Anger: Performing at the Vanity Ballroom in 1987. Pictured are Scott Koskinen, Jim Hasler and Nate Buker.
MT photo: Jennifer Jeffery
Majesty Crush
Made in the shade: The Look in 1981. Dave Edwards is second from left.
Soulful moanin': Dale
SEE ALSO
More Love & sex Stories

Getting cuckold feet (10/6/2010)
Jealous lovers, screaming partners and a noble online project

Awkward threesomes (9/29/2010)
Is he a third wheel? Or in the throes of a cuckold fetish?

Hope for the future (9/22/2010)
Another gay teenager in another small town has killed himself

More from Metro Times music staff

Spun (10/6/2010)
Sufjan Stevens, Download of the Week, Fright from the Bins, Schoolyard Verse and more

Motor City Five (10/6/2010)
The five worst gigs ever of the Two Man Gentleman Band

Spun (9/29/2010)
No Age, Tracy Kash Thomas, downloads, horrible LP covers and more!

 

Published 10/19/2005

For this 25th anniversary issue, we decided to glance backward and uncover just few of many artists-bands who are, or likely will be, forgotten in Detroit’s ever-deepening well of musical history; those who were, in some way, integral to shaping local music’s future, beginning in 1980. We focused on the 25 years that Metro Times has been publishing, and dug through our archives to find most of their stories.

A few of these people were hard to hunt down; others, we simply couldn’t find. We wrote about one DJ (Rotator), who appears to have vanished, even after we learned that he’s alive and well in Detroit.

We also learned one not-so-obvious absolute: The artists here — some whose music might not have aged as well as others — had at least some odd, Detroit-specific purity in their craft, whose phrases and images construct their own time and place but with the eerie timelessness and unchanging scent of factory exhale, scorched motor oil and blue collar fret.

Boom and the Legion of Doom

Smoking pig heads, Mexican wrestler thrash, and postindustrial-strength animal-tossing

Who: Boom, vocals, drums; Toxic Matt, vocals; Tony Fish Only, guitar; Smelly, bass; J.D., guitar; Safety, drums. The band refused to use their given names, which they called “slave names.”

What: Battle Creek- and Lansing-area punks attracted to the postindustrial grit of Detroit, playing punk rock thrash influenced by everything from horror movies and hunting to wrestling, with some literally gutsy antics — namely tossing animal parts into the audience. Pig and goat heads were fair game.

Where: Graystone Hall, the Hungry Brain, Falcon Lounge and house parties in Lansing, Battle Creek and Muskegon, with jaunts into Indiana, Illinois and Ohio, before moving to California in 1988-89 and playing there.

When: 1983-1993.

What Happened: Boom did a zine called Anti Social in Lansing, and met his bandmates at punk shows. As for the animal parts thrown out at shows, Boom says, “We had a cooler in the van for our beer and we’d put road kill in there. The smellier, grosser stuff was the stuff that got thrown out. We had classic pig heads; you’d put a cigarette in its mouth and throw it out.

“I’d come onstage sometimes wearing a fawn skin. I can remember Kevin Seconds [of 7Seconds] and Youth of Today getting really bummed about that. I thought I was punk rock! But we didn’t understand the whole straight-edge scene or any of that crap.

“When we got to California, we went for more of a Mexican wrestler look. We didn’t have money to buy punk gear, and a lot of people thought we were skinheads, but we weren’t — we were rednecks into hunting and fishing.”

Where they are now:Safety and Fish Only (who’s a pro fisherman) live in Battle Creek. Smelly sells real estate in Hawaii, and Matt’s locked down in Mississippi. “He’s in prison for domestic assault,” Boom says. “He had a marriage gone bad.” J.D. is MIA. “The last time I saw J.D. was in San Francisco. He was barefoot, wearing camo pants and his old Boom & the Legion of Doom leather jacket. He looked pretty torn up.” The band’s old manager, Cary Safarian, who also managed the Graystone, is “in jail for life.”

Boom lives in San Francisco, has a band called the Jaded Fucks, and DJs at college station KUSF, where he’s on a show called Rampage Radio (rampageradio.com). “It’s like Howard Stern meets metal; five guys, four of them from Michigan,” Boom says. For money, Boom works in clubs. “For the last 10 years I’ve been a sound guy. I work five nights a week at the Cherry Bar, where Bob Madigan from Slaughterhouse works. He’s on the radio show too.”

 

Dale

How a partner’s double-murder rap killed a crooner’s stab at the charts.

Who: Delbert Michael Greer, better known as the singer Dale.

What: A smooth voice falls between D’Angelo, and Walter Scott and Wallace “Scotty” Scotty of the Whispers, and his penchant for the debonair (suits and Detroit-classic Dobb’s hats) worked to panty-tossing perfection. But one might call Dale either a “made man” or the unluckiest soul singer on the planet, just on the strength of his “Soulful Moaning.” That single cracked Detroit and Midwestern soul radio at a time when there was absolutely no cracking Detroit or Midwestern radio unless you had lots of coin. The side sold 20,000 copies, a huge number for an indie label, and the air was filled with promise. Until a double murder charge reared.

Where: Detroit

When: 1995-96

What Happened: Before Dale, there was the duo Sean & Dale, who did the “Soulful Moaning” single. But Sean got popped and convicted on a double-murder rap just as “Moaning” was set to blow nationwide. Dale soldiered on solo, only to be pursued by his ex-partner’s kin, who were keen on getting the “Soulful” royalties. Because things were, for many reasons, getting ugly all around, Dale — who never saw a royalty himself — had his label kill the record. The single died on the vine. Dale got a fresh start. Or did he?

Where they are now: The 38-year-old recorded the Dr. Feel Good album in 1998, and Cadillac Dale in 2001, both noteworthy but poorly distributed releases that tanked. Now he’s considering combining songs from both records, and rereleasing them as one package. In the meantime, the Detroiter makes money as a property manager, and is the voice on rap group Black Lagoon’s 2004 club hit, “Star.” He’s also got an eye on the land of love. “I’m currently working on taking my show to France. Matter of fact, I’m not opposed to moving there.”

 

Shock Therapy

Take-no-prisoners techno pioneers rewrote the drug, death and jail song

Who: Original lineup: Gregory “Itchy” McCormick, screamer, co-founder; Keith Jackson, guitar; Bill Shepherd, drums; Thomas Buckley, keyboards.

Many local musicians passed through Shock Therapy ranks, including, but not limited to, Cliff Hill, Richard “Tex” Newman and Bill McNeil (Almighty Lumberjacks of Death and/or Country Bob and the Blood Farmers), Chris Connolly (Pub Life), Dean Hamlin (Betty Fords) and ex-Plasmatic Wes Beech. Other notables include Dustin Aller, Eric Hoskins (RIP), Ted Meeks (RIP) and Joe Santori II.

What: Frontline vendor of industrial and techno-punk that began as a reaction against much of Detroit’s early ’80s rock scene, particularly, Jackson says, mainstream bands “like Figures on a Beach and Rhythm Corps.” Largely ignored at home, and fueled by Itchy’s bizarre conduct, the band’s initial attitude was more fuck-you punk than it was German urbanity, but they became iconic in Germany. “Insane” and “genius” are descriptors ex-members often use in the same breath to describe the singer.

Where: Shock Therapy debuted in 1982 at Bookies. They opened many shows at St. Andrew’s Hall for mid-’80s heavyweights — including Gang of Four and Jesus & Mary Chain — and played often at the Free Style Lounge, the Red Carpet, Bookies, Todd’s and others. They headlined theater tours in Germany (“in a haze of drugs and booze,” Jackson says) before frenzied fans.

When: 1982-2001. Jackson and Itchy, two disenfranchised suburban kids from Farmington Hills, formed the Gerbils in 1981. Informed by technology, the band ditched the punk formula, adding keyboards and sequencers. They became DaDa, then Shock Therapy. By 1984, Shock Therapy’s industrial faceblast had blossomed.

What Happened: Group signed to local Metro America, which Jackson says was a “coke-funded label nightmare,” and recorded their debut in Nashville with programming-whiz producer Jimmy Hotz (Fleetwood Mac). The label bankrupted, and the band signed to Chicago’s Fundamental (and later, Berlin-based Dossier Records), who reissued the debut in Europe, where the band took off.

But Itchy’s stunts were legendary, and frustrated members often quit. Jackson says, “Itchy would tape acid and coke inside the synthesizers to get it through customs.”

Their tale is littered with nervous breakdowns, rampant alcoholism, coke-induced heart attacks and near-death experiences. “There’s sooooo many of those stories,” says Cliff Hill, Shock Therapy’s drummer from 1990 to 1995.

One late-’80s episode in Germany saw a spun-out Itchy nearly cash it in. The singer was balanced atop the steep roof of a youth hostel dressed only in his underwear. He was screaming bloody murder. Then he slipped from his perch and headed for the concrete five stories below. But by some fluke, he managed to catch the building’s exterior eave gutter just as he started to freefall. He hung on with one hand, still screaming with legs kicking and free arm waving. Band members formed a human chain down from an open window, one grabbed Hill by the ankles and he was yanked up to safety.

Where they are now: Itchy’s doing six to 20 for arson in Michigan’s Parr Highway Correctional Facility. He was sentenced in early 2001. German fans launched a “Take Action for Itchy” campaign (shock-therapy.de.ki) to get him out of jail. Jackson lives in Phoenix, and manages a pub and plays in two bands, the Glass Heroes and the Busted Hearts. Buckley lives in Austin and works a successful corporate gig. Shepherd died, reportedly from natural causes. The band’s “Hate is a 4-Letter Word” is a cult classic and club favorite in Germany.

 

Majesty Crush

Did “faggy dream pop” kill the majestic shoegaze?

Who: Dave Stroughter, vocals, guitar; Michael Segal, guitar; Hobey Echlin, bass (1990-1994); Craig Thornton, bass (1994-1995); Odell Nails, drums.

What: Detroit-area band that sounded unapologetically British. Poppy and spacey were not mutually exclusive in the hands of Majesty Crush. Frontman Stroughter refused to take a backseat to atmosphere; Nails’ and Echlin’s rhythmic sense skillfully supported Segal’s “shimmering” guitar work. See also 4AD, Creation and “shoegaze” before that term became pejorative.

Where: Downtown scene — St. Andrew’s Hall, 89X parties at the State Theatre, supporting such national touring shows as Mazzy Star, Julian Cope and Jesus Jones.

When: 1990-95

What Happened: Formed in singer Stroughter’s Indian Village basement after jamming on New Order’s “Ceremony” one night, Majesty Crush was an anomaly on the rock-centric Detroit scene of the time.

“The term, I believe back then, was ‘The Post-Nirvana Signing Frenzy,’” Segal says now. At the time, Majesty Crush was certainly the least “Detroit”-sounding band among local headlining peers that included ska band Gangster Fun, token grunge band Big Chief, and goofball country pranksters Goober & the Peas.

“Grunge was happening,” Segal says. “Faggy dream pop was not.”

MC developed a loyal and growing local following, played out of town shows and fests like CMJ in New York. It inked a deal with Elektra subsidiary Dali Records for its debut, Love Fifteen. The band was poised and ready for its shot. A couple of months later, the label folded.

After releasing the promising EP, Sans Muscles, and the single, “If JFA Were Still Together,” the band folded as a result of what Segal describes as a “dysfunctional, volatile inner-band dynamic.”

Where they are now: Michael Segal is a graphic and fine artist in Detroit; Odell Nails is a lawyer in New York City; Dave Stroughter is an Los Anegeles musician performing as PS I Love You; Hobey Echlin is an Los Angeles-based freelance writer (and occasional Metro Times contributor) and yoga instructor.

 

The Look

Keyboards slay early MTV power-pop faves

Who: Dave Edwards, vocals; Sam Warren, guitar; Randy Volin, guitar; Rich Cochran, bass; John Sarkisian, drums.

What: Motor City hard rock cloaked in pop, mining a Pretty Things, Cheap Trick, Detective and Sonic’s Rendezvous Band mother lode.

The Look was the first Detroit band on MTV with its “We’re Gonna Rock” clip in 1981. MTV rotated the band’s 1982 follow-up video of the single, “You Can’t Sit Down,” a cover of the Dovells R&B-dance hit. The song made American Bandstand’s “rate-a-record” that year, netting a better-than-respectable score of 94. The Look got much FM love in days when Detroit radio wasn’t so afraid of local music. All this for a band on a tiny Detroit indie. (In Canada, it had a major Canadian record deal with A&M.) “We were getting massive airplay, but you couldn’t find our records,” says band songwriter Dave Edwards.

In 1983, The Look signed with Fantasy Records (and Fantasy/A&M in Europe), the house that Creedence Clearwater Revival built.

Where: The Roostertail, Harpo’s, Center Stage, the Music Box, and Cobo Hall with the Romantics, Rhythm Corps, Adrenaline, Toby Red, Strut, Bittersweet Alley (“a huge girl band,” Edwards says) and others. It did a five-night stand supporting the J. Geils Band at Pine Knob, and extensively toured the United States and Canada.

When: Officially began in 1977, when four-sets-a-night, five-nights-a-week cover bands roamed the suburbs. Hit a stride in 1980 and split in 1985.

What Happened: With the MTV exposure, Fantasy Records bet on The Look to be the new Creedence. But the in-house producer, Phil Kaffel, diluted the band’s “Detroit guitar rock” with silly keyboards, and fans and radio stayed away. The record was the band’s death knell. “That and inexperienced management,” Edwards says. We toured behind the LP, but the original drummer quit in 1984. Fantasy wouldn’t do videos and dropped the band.”

Where They Are Now: The original members all live in metro Detroit. Sarkisian is a mortgage broker, Warren is a computer programmer, and Cochran is retired with a medical disability. Volin does solo records and showcases as Randy Volin and the Sonic Blues. Edwards continues to lead a version of The Look, with a pair of albums recorded in recent years. His first solo album, Take Another Look, came out last year on the local Scorpion/Hanzie label.

 

Forced Anger

Protest punk that died before it got old

Who: Original lineup: Nate Buker, vocals, guitar; Scott Koskinen, guitar; Darren Katamay, bass; Jim Hasler, drums. The band saw a succession of lineup changes.

What: Angry 4/4-time hardcore, where protest punk met Black Label-and-flannel sensibilities. Buker says, “We were the only mid-’80s punks in that scene who dealt in politics. It was a reaction to Reagan-era jingoism, which turned us off. We became known as a commie, flag-burning band even before the stunt actually occurred to us.”

Where: Fueled primitive slam pits at the Hungry Brain, Graystone Hall and Blondie’s, with outstate gigs in Muskegon or at Flint’s Capitol Theatre, with brief forays into Ontario.

When: Koskinen and Buker started playing together back home in Big Rapids before they moved to Detroit in 1984. The band split in 1991.

What Happened: Buker says, “When we got to Detroit, we kind of hooked up with this southwest-side crew, people like Hardcore Joe, Bob Madigan from Slaughterhouse and that whole world of people starting alternatives to hair metal. Lacey, from Son of Sam, founded .44 Caliber Records, and we wound up on their compilation, Maniacs from the Motor City. About that same time, I moved into this house on Hollywood Street in Detroit, and the landlord told me there was a band that practiced in the basement and I said I didn’t care.” The band was the Gories. “I couldn’t believe it,” Buker says. “I saw the Gories. I also saw somebody I thought I’d never see again, Mick Collins, my high school classmate back in Big Rapids. That basement housed the Gories, Forced Anger and Cum Dumpster.

“We started recording about 1989 with Mike E. Clark [Insane Clown Posse]. We were very hard on ourselves in the studio, and Mike worked a lot with us, but we never released that stuff. It’s pretty obscure even for people who were into our band. We broke up in 1991. Jim was losing interest, and was already in Cum Dumpster.

“I thought I’d gone as far as I needed to with it, and I gave up on it. The band kind of fell apart after that. We felt like we had something to express, and I felt I had done it the way I wanted to, and I walked away. I’d feel dishonest if I went and did it again. We weren’t trying to be popular. It just felt like we were at war with society at the time. Now I’m just as radical, but it’s not warlike anymore. I’m 20 years older, my outlook is a little more sophisticated, and I’ve learned to deal with my anger in different ways.”

Where they are now: Katamay is a cabdriver in Washington State. Hasler lives in Germany and plays in a band called Stau. Koskinen was in the Detroit band Mt. Tai, and has been politically active. As for Buker: “I’ve been in Cum Dumpster, Barbed Wire Play Pen, The Dorks. I live in Hamtramck. People can often find me running sound at the Old Miami.”

 

Inside Out

Total rock minus the dicks

Who: Karen Neal, vocals, bass; Lynda Mandolyn, guitar, vocals; Cathy Carrell, drums.

What: A comely trio more interested in getting audiences off their asses than into their beds. They played unapologetically hard, fast and tight rock ’n’ roll.

Where: Paycheck’s, the Shelter.

When: 1985-1992

What happened: After high school, Neal hooked up with guitarist Mandolyn and kicked Inside Out into gear. “We immediately had a connection,” Neal says. “She’s still one of my closest friends.” They picked up Carrell along the way, overcame inner doubts and wrote heart-exploding, bass-driven songs with such teste-ready titles as “Killin’,” “God’s Shitlist” and “Dead Children.” So, no, they weren’t playing rock ’n’ roll for pussies. Neal says, “We’d get into fucking bar fights — I pulled a knife on a skinhead once.”

Inside Out is best remembered as one of Detroit’s only all-chick, punk, hard rock bands who earned their rep the DIY way. “We seriously did everything ourselves. We didn’t have any resources.”

The band did a couple tours, put out a handful of records and, as Neal puts it, “just ran their course.” But what was left in their wake was an ahead-of-its-time rock-chick ethos so rousing that up-and-coming female musicians still cite them as a major influence.

Where are they now: Manodlyn is a San Fransico-based musician. Carrell earned a liberal arts degree from the University of Michigan, played in the Civilians and the Gore Gore Girls, and is currently caring for her mother, who suffers from Alzheimer’s. Neal went on to form Thrall with Mike Hard (whose introduction came via Dead Kennedy Jello Biafra), the Dirt Eaters with Warn Defever (she also worked with Defever’s His Name is Alive), the handsomely monikered Lickety Clit, Queen Bee and Brain Saw. Suffice it to say, Neal is still a sex-positive stunner who rocks harder than ever.

 

Walter White/Rick Margitza Quintet

Jazz combo soured on Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s lemon

Who: Walter White, trumpet; Rick Margitza, sax; Gary Schunk, piano; Ken Kellett, bass; Danny Spencer, drums.

What: Came together as a local outfit in the Young Lions mold, playing brisk bop-based jazz with an edge. The two horn player-leaders had met at the University of Miami, and back home in the Detroit area hooked up with a rhythm section of guys who’d been in and out of groups together for years; drummer Spencer’s roots went back to the legendary Strata Gallery and the Contemporary Jazz Quintet of the 1960s. They submitted an audition tape to the Hennessey Cognac Jazz Search. Out of 400 entries, they were among four-or-so finalists who made it to compete live in Hollywood. They won studio time and the prospect of a record deal.

Where: Played the Montreux-Detroit Jazz Festival, Baker’s Keyboard Lounge (often), Depot Town in Ypsilanti, Interlochen, Rusty’s in Toledo.

When: One night in 1986, as bassist Kellet remembers, White and Margitza dropped by Baker’s to sit in with guitarist Joe LoDuca’s band. The chemistry between band members Kellett and Schunk and the two visitors was clear, and a band was born.

What Happened: “The best thing about all of this is being treated like a star for playing bebop,” bassist Kellett told Metro Times in 1987 after the band’s contest victory. Disappointment followed. They got $3,000 for studio time and a hookup with a label — soon to go defunct — headed by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. White wrote in an e-mail: “Jabbar’s so-called record label, Cranberry Records, was more lemon then cranberry, just a battery of lawyers who had the first-right-of-refusal option. They refused. Nothing ever came of the tapes.” The band ended a year later when White and Margitza moved to New York, White to work with Maynard Ferguson, Margitza to a solo deal with Blue Note.

Where they are now: Margitza, who toured and recorded with Miles Davis and as a leader on several labels, now lives in Paris. He works with the Paris-based Moutin Reunion Band, and recently blew through the Detroit area on tour with them. He’ll have another disc out as a leader soon. White, who returned to Detroit for a spell after the New York excursion, moved to Ithaca, N.Y., in 2000. He works live and in the studio with artists (including the Mingus Big Band and Detroit hip-hop vocalist Curtis Mann), markets practice CDs for musicians, and is developing a commercial music-writing business. Spencer moved to the San Francisco area in 1993, where he plays and teaches. Kellett works sporadically in music and makes his living through computer-generated 3-D art and animation. Schunk, the only full-time musician still here, says he’s down to just seven or eight gigs a month, including a couple of nights playing for diners at Seldom Blues. “I thought it was me; maybe I’ve been around so long that people forget about you. But I hear this from all my friends — the activity has dwindled.”

 

The Atomic Numbers

Giant hooks, maxed credit cards and pie-in-the-sky record deals

Who: Tim McHugh, vocals, keyboards, guitar; Zach Shipps, guitar; Jeff Hupp, bass; Matt Aljian, drums.

What: It might have been because they spent their rock ’n’ roll matriculation cohabitating in the same Hamtramck rental, but the Atomic Numbers put out some of the most polished power pop a gee-rage-adoring Detroit has seen — ever. It lived somewhere near Elvis Costello’s tone and Raspberries’ sing-song

Where: The Double Door in Chicago, the Magic Bag, the Magic Stick. They killed at SXSW and nailed support spots for bands like Super Furry Animals, the B-52s and New Pornographers.

When: 1995-2001

What Happened: Billboard Magazine called them “nearly unbearably clever” and Metro Times readers voted them “Best New Band to Make It Big” in 2001. “We rehearsed like maniacs — 10 hours at a time, on holidays, all the time,” McHugh says. “I guess at some point we thought were going to make it big.” It must’ve been when the major labels started calling.

Their story is rock ’n’ roll 101: They played every Midwestern rock shithole, chicks creamed, and college radio loved ’em. But their full-length, Electro-Motive, was the Atomic Numbers’ fourth-quarter Hail Mary. “We spent every last dime we made from playing shows (and what was left of Matt’s credit card) to put out that record,” McHugh says.

With the help of Verve Pipe’s Brian Vander Ark, the record saw the light of day. Prognosticating journos dubbed songs like “In You Power” and “Superexcitable” sure things. But when an almost-done record deal with RCA fell through, the band fizzled.

Where they are now: McHugh went on to form the Rioteers, and Hupp moved to the burbs, got married and started a family. Shipps went on to tour with Brendan Benson and the Well-fed Boys, and now is an Aquarius Void and plays “The Colonel” in Electric Six. Aljian keeps time for Benson all over the world. McHugh recently moved to Colorado, saying he’s had it with Detroit. He still writes music and sells guitars to pay bills.

 

Smiley

No sobbing for fetching female rapper-cum-airwave queen

Who: Smiley, Detroit’s First Lady of Rap.

What: Smiley is the first female rap artist from the D to go national; her single and video for “Smiley, But I’m Not Friendly” got mad love, and she appeared on Yo! MTV Raps and BET’s Rap City. The single sold hundreds of thousands of copies. She even had her own dance team. Her first album, The Smile Gets Wild, made her a Queen Latifah-type pioneer in Detroit before Latifah. She even preceded the country’s first female gangsta rapper from Detroit, Boss. In those days, Detroit rap was a disconnected and barren landscape; Smiley came before Stanley’s Rhythm Kitchen, before the storied Hip Hop Shop.

When: 1990.

Where: Detroit and Atlanta were Smiley’s top markets. Alabama and North Carolina also got friendly. She was a frequent performer at the fabled “Soul Night” events at the State Theatre, which was also a stomping ground of rapper Trick Trick’s Goon Squad. And you could catch her at the long-defunct Dancery, and at the Music Hall.

What Happened: No sob stories here, really; only transitions. After recording three albums, Smiley gave good face to a few modeling agencies and quit rapping. Chrysler Corporation picked her up and put her on the road with the North American International Auto Show as a spokes-model for five years. Then there was a two-year stint with the Ebony Fashion Fair as a commentator-coordinator.

After seven years on the road, she returned to Detroit and launched The Smiley Show, a music-video program that airs on Comcast Channel 6, Saturdays, noon to 1 p.m. The program helps upcoming Detroit hip-hop and rap artists gain exposure.

Where they are now: That gig led to her current post, as a radio personality and promotions director for HOT 102.7 (WHTD). The Motor City’s first lady of rap can be heard each Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. And she can still make grown men shiver.

 

Angry Red Planet

Backbone piece of the alt-rock “movement.” Who knew?

Who: Tim Pak (aka Pakledinaz), vocals, guitar; Tracy Fogle, guitar; John Pak, bass; Dave Pentescu, bass; Vince Delisi, drums; Ewolf, drums; Bill Blank, drums; Sally Barclay, saxophone.

What: Angry Red was a vital link in the network of bands that formed the underground touring circuit in the mid- to late 1980s. And it was part of the alt-rock movement’s backbone with the Minutemen, Big Black and other folks chronicled in books like Michael Azzerad’s Our Band Could Be Your Life.

Melodic hardcore before words like “emo” ruined it, plus a sense of humor and play that kept the testosterone of the hardcore crowd off-balance until words like “alternative” were invented and embraced by college kids.

Where: Do-it-yourself scene-making joints like the Falcon Lanes/Mystery Lounge, the Graystone, the Hungry Brain, Paycheck’s, and Traxx.

When: 1982-1988

What Happened: The brothers Pakledinaz (Pak) and Delisi kick-started Angry Red Planet’s excitement about the early ’80s punk and hardcore scene — even though the band was initially excluded from it, Tim Pak says — and decided to do something about it by playing “pretty much any place that would have us. The scene was pretty lively back then, lots of bands both locally and nationally coming through and playing one after the other.

“Our crowd was a bit more diverse than the regular [hardcore] group; not as many guys [more girls], not nearly as violent as some of the other shows were.”

ARP self-released its debut 7-inch and eventually turned weekend jaunts into longer East Coast tours. Guitarist Fogle joined for the band’s second record on fledgling indie Touch & Go before John Pak and Delisi left, to be replaced by bassist Pentescu and drummer Ewolf. This lineup crisscrossed the country, stopping in Madison, Wisconsin, to record half an album with future Nirvana knob-twiddler and Garbage mastermind Butch Vig.

The band released a full-length — the eclectic and hyper “Little Pigs” — and toured Europe for six weeks (the lone contractual stipulation for releasing the record on the Continent).

“Before we went over, it was decided, pretty much by myself,” notes Pak, “that this would be the last hurrah for ARP. And it was.”

Where they are now: Pak runs Woodshed Studio and performs in the Salt Miners. His brother John is raising a family in suburban Chicago. Ewolf played drums in a number of bands, and has become a well-known photographer. Bill Blank is a playwright and teacher. Delisi lives in Tennessee with his wife and daughter, and Fogle now lives in Oakland, Calif. Pentescu, Pak says, “has been spotted around town.” There’s no info on Barclay, the band’s occasional saxist.

 

Rotator

Rotating in the Booty electric

Who: Rotator

What: Rotator is the missing link between the radio-cum-club DJ stars of the 1980s (such as Jeff “The Wizard” Mills) and current booty all-stars like Godfather and Assault. His razzle-dazzle showmanship was the blueprint for a Detroit ghetto style that continues to jiggle asses the world over. In certain circles, he’s become a mythological figure. He’s a turntable virtuoso who mixed Phillip Glass with jungle, beat-matched tracks played forward and backward, and set fire to shitty records before hurling the flaming discs into the dancing crowd. As Ectomorph’s Brendan Gillen says, “Playing with Rotator is like performing with a great jazz player, a turntablist who knows music on a really deep level. He uses the cross fader like Hendrix did the guitar.”

Where: Played East Side club, the Dancery, where bullets sometimes competed with the bass; rocked Filipino karaoke bars in Oak Park. Toured Europe with Ectomorph.

When: 1980s-1990s.

What Happened: Crack happened. Then he cleaned up. Now we understand that he’s a family man.

Where they are now: Reportedly, he’s a Detroit auto mechanic as nimble with engines as he is with a needle and a groove.

 

Hoarse

All but one are Fags

Who: John Speck, lead vocals, guitar; Robby Graham, bass; Jimmy Paluzzi, drums, vocals.

What: They busted in as poppy punks and left angry.

Where: Downtown scene — St. Andrew’s; and the East Side — the Foundry, the Impound.

When: 1993-97

What happened: After leaving Thunderchief in 1993, Speck formed Hoarse to showcase his songs. The final lineup was an all-star cast of sorts; Graham from the Almighty Lumberjacks of Death, and Paluzzi, who had bailed on Sponge.

Their single, “Diamond,” quickly caught the attention of program directors at 96.3-FM (the Planet, at the time), and within days the unsigned band was sharing radio time with Beck and U2. 89X and Z-Rock quickly added Hoarse, and RCA swooped in and signed them. The band’s focus became fuzzy and they collapsed amid tales of melees with A&R folk and Jim Beam abuse. Their last show was New Year’s Eve, 1997.

“I was young and just didn’t get it,” Speck says. “But I don’t regret a single thing because I wouldn’t be where I am today.”

Where they are now: Graham is married with kid, but still whoops it up with Red Wings and assorted pro-athlete types. Speck and Paluzzi are now in the Fags, whose Sire Records debut is due in early 2006

 

See Also:

Tracing the tracks

Writing and research: Brian Smith, Khary Kimani Turner, Michael Jackman, W.K. Heron, Chris Handyside, Walter Wasacz and Eve Doster. Send comments to bsmith@metrotimes.com.

blog comments powered by Disqus

> PLACE CLASSIFIED AD