Anyone who knows me knows I was a member of the very first punk band from my home town of Belleville, Illinois back in the late 70's (before Uncle Tupelo, for one). The whole punk thing got cooking on either coasts (NY first, like everything else) before it hit the midwest, and St. Louis was no exception. As a regional hub (like Lambert International Airport) St. Louis spawned an entire punk/new wave scene that lasted from roughly 1977-1984. After that, music was sufficiently watered down to be almost superfluous as it regarded genres and subdivisions. Every style known to man had been developed and subsequently played out by then.
In 1978 I joined what was then a pretty new band that was considerably different than the run-of-the-mill bands of the time. Max Load grew out of the fertile mind of one Terry Jones, also known as Terry X of 3-D Monster fame. We were toying with pseudonyms at the time, and I was known as Mike Y (the first initial of my last name, and next alphabetically, convenient, eh?). I first joined Max Load as drummer (I was brave enough to replace their drummer never having played before, despite his having years of playing experience to show for his percussive abilities). I knew I could inject a certain energy that would propel the group to bigger and better things. We had our day in the sun locally but despite a few close calls, never really broke out in a big way. We were featured in an international rock mag originating from New York (Rock Scene), in July of 1980, and were featured prominently in a local rag called Jet Lag (thank you, Steve Pick and John Korst), but by the late 80's I was living in LA and trying the whole thing from a similar angle out there. We were collectively known as the Fun 100, our own thriving little punk scene.
Back to Max Load...We played a lot in Belleville to start, branched out to shows in St. Louis proper, and in fact (no surprise), struggled against the non-punk forces that constantly conspired against a flegeling band. We were hated by some in Belleville (we taunted them from onstage relentlessly!) but loved by the hipsters in STL, where we would play to hundreds at shows. We had a 45 vinyl record out at the time, and that was the one thing that set a band apart from the also rans of the time, because it gave us promotional material that was more noticeable and accessible than a tape. We recorded much more material thn we could afford to release at the time, and for over 30 years those tapes languished in our personal collections, never to be released.
Enter Jason Rerun of BDR Records, out of St. Louis. His idea has been to release LP's from bands from that period that made an impact on the local scene, and he approached me a couple years ago about an album project concerning Max Load, knowing that since we were pretty well-known locally at the time, and I subsequently had gone on to play in other St. Louis bands at the time, that we'd be a worthy subject for archival release by his label. His goal is to put out vinyl on every band that was noteworthy and had recordings from the original punk/new wave era in St. Louis. So far, bands featured on his label include The Retros, The Welders, and an LP by the ultra-obscure raymilland. BDR plans a reissue of the compilation record that started it all, Test Patterns, originally released by Jet Lag magazine back in the day.
It's cool to rehash the stories, remember the personalities, and relive a slice of my own personal musical past in this way. It won't change my life when it comes out, but to have a slab of vinyl was our main goal then, and will be a nice reward for our past efforts even now. It reunited Terry and I, and I was also responsible for introducing Terry to Jason , getting the ball rolling originally.
Tomorrow we fight the heat with cool once again (seems like a lot of that going on lately, both the heat and the fighting it with the cool!), so keep your tubes hot and your antenna up. See you then!