I began my music career as a drummer in the vibrant punk scene of Washington, DC. My first official band was the notorious 9353 which I joined in 1983 at age 16. We were together off and on for a tumultuous two-and-a half years that included a lot of gigs in DC, especially at the 9:30 Club and DC Space, some limited touring around the east coast, and two album releases (To Whom it May Consume and We Are Absolutely Sure There is no God plus a track on the Bouncing Babies compilation). Some memorable moments included a one-week residency at DC Space, opening slots for PiL, Jesus and Mary Chain, Sisters of Mercy, Alien Sex Fiend, and shared bills with Butthole Surfers, Scream, Specimen Fred, Marginal Man, Gray Matter and many others. While 9353 was a tremendous band that had a lot of local success and national airplay, personal problems led to our early demise. Throughout the subsequent decades, the band’s lead singer has periodically revived 9353 with various lineups.
At some point in 1984, during a 9353 hiatus, I joined the neo-psychedelic leaning Crippled Pilgrims. During a roughly one-year period we recorded two records for the Fountain of Youth label (Head Down, Hand Out, and Under Water, both subsequently compiled for a Parasol Records CD anthology) and played numerous gigs paired with bands such as Gun Club, Velvet Monkeys, Rain Parade and others.
During that time I was also involved in numerous short-lived side projects such as Black Nixon with Crippled Pilgrims members Jay Moglia and Mitch Parker; Great Cake (aka Morgue One) with Jared Hendrickson (aka Louche), Colin Sears and Don Fleming; Deep Six (aka High Fives, Four Letter Words, Two-Timers and One-Night Stands) with Brian Tate (Brickhouse Burning), Scott Wingo (Crippled Pilgrims) and Charles Steck (Velvet Monkeys); and the one-offs Yellow Safari and Baby LaMaybe with Claudia DePaul (aka Joseph), Caroline Ely (Broken Siren) and others.
At some point in 1985 I also took up the electric guitar more seriously and formed Troubled Gardens, a post-punk instrumental trio with Eric Anderson and Colin Sears. Colin would eventually leave the band and drummer Don Zinzell joined. Troubled Gardens played roughly a dozen gigs with bands such Rude Buddah, Glorious Din and Grey March and eventually recorded an EP, Eden Revisited, also for Fountain of Youth. Like many of the records I was part of in those days, Troubled Gardens made the mistake of over-producing in the studio and the record is a poor imitation of our live sound which was much grittier, noisy and potent.
Other sometimes collaborators, in live and/or studio projects included the Psychotics, Joey Aronstamn of Grand Mal and Holy Rollers, Geoff Turner of Gray Matter, Lida Husik, Mike Fellows, Rogelio Maxwell and others.
DC in the 80s was a great place to be in a band and I had the time of my life for about four years. Some of the scene at that time is documented in the two books BANNED IN DC and DANCE OF DAYS, and the film Salad Days.