So Larry and I continued to conspire to steal Devon away from Fire Mission when all of a sudden they broke up.
Our first rehersal was at Avatar recording studios in Santa Rosa in October of 1984and had a few songs one of which became known as” Devon Drool” because Devon , being a huge Rockabilly fan, seemed to like my feeble attempt to sound like Chet Atkins. For some reason I was really hung up on Chet Atkins at that time. Chet Atkins and Black Flag.
The name Victims Family was chosen based on a piece by the cartoonist B. Kliban, the guy famous for doing the Cat books. Maybe you don’t know which ones I’m talking about. We soon moved rehersals into my studio apartment on Davis St. We rehersed there for a while. The place was a total shithole, falling apart, with like absolutely no insulation. Freezing in Winter, boiling in Summer and zero soundproofing.They gave ballet classes across the street at the Lincoln Arts Center but we only ever had one complaint. We played our first show there also, in November of 1984, I played elctric and 12 string acoustic. I sold the 12 string to my next door neighbor to cover my rent not long after that and the acoustic bit went totally by the wayside.When I eventually moved out of that place I walked by a couple of weeks later and the house had been torn down and replaced by a flower bed
Anyway we also rehersed in Devon’s Dad’s living room for a while. I remember ” Lock of Interest” being written there a total collaboration based almost entirely on Devons tom-tom patterns. Everyone sorta went off in a different direction, Larry and I in different keys and it sounded cool. Larry wrote some good lyrics and off we went.
We played our first real show in Petaluma at the community center and soon seemed like we were playing some weird kegger or crazy punk gig every weekend or so.Early on we opened for Suicidal Tendencies in Petaluma, a show attended by Tim Solyan then metalhead and our future drummer who, by the way, hated our band.
I also became interested in the touring network that was growing up alongside of the whole HC/punk thing. We recorded a couple of demos, a 4 track with aging scenester and all around wise-ass Cliff Lang and also an eight track that never really got used, which was done at record west. We duped off a bunch of tapes and I started sending them around the country to strangers. Devon bought this Dodge van conversion with a desert scene on the side. We booked a tour for the summer of ’85 and went out for a couple of weeks playing a few shows with no merch, no record and no clue. In Albuquerque we were looking for a house party we were supposed to be playing and when we couldn’t find it we literally found a kid digging through a garbage can and asked hime where the punks were. He lead us to a house with a bunch of skinheads laying around on a porch. We thought it might be trouble. I went up to the porch and asked who Joey was and some guy said that was him. I introduced myself and asked about the show, of course, there was no show, but he said we were welcome to crash at their pad. The next morning we asked if we could practice in the living room and he said yeah sure so we set up and he totally flipped out. He began dragging us around to every club in town, sports bars, reggae clubs, telling the owners that they had to let us play. We ended up playing a party there and coming back at the end of the tour playing with some dudes known as NOFX.
So we’d toured half of the US without ever playing a show in San Francisco. Our first show in SF was at the Sound of Music in front of a few drag queens. It was an education for the boys from up north to say the least. Soon, however we were playing a lot of shows in SF, opening for the Butthole Surfers at the Mabuhay Gardens. We also opened for the Dead Kennedys and the Descendants at the Novato Theatre.
We also played a lot at The Farm which was the scene of many huge shows. We played a show there with BGK from Holland and Cheetah Chrome Motherfuckers from Italy and it was around this time that I met Ruth Schwartz who quickly became interested in putting out a record for us on her then fledgling Mordam records label. In short order we were spirited off to Hyde Street Studios to record what became “Voltage and Violets”. I remember being sort of intimidated by the whole studio environment, most of my recording experience to that point had been really small 4 or 8 track demos. I felt that somehow what I was doing wasn’t translating into the recorded environment but now I pretty much realise it was just my own inexperience. Despite what I thought “Voltage…” sounded great and is an excellent document of our early material. We had a great big record release party at Club Foot which had become our most regular gig in SF. It sold well and we thought we probably should tour again. That was our first mistake……
Next: The 1987 Tour To Hell