History (part 4)

Things I Hate To Admit, Devon quits, Europe

After returning from the hell tour we took a few months off. We barely spoke to each other for a while.

I went back to college and studied recording, video production, photography and writing. Really I was just trying to find stuff that would be helpful to my music.One good thing about this period was that I found myself really inspired to write and was really finding my voice as a writer.Larry moved into a place on 3rd Street in Santa Rosa which soon became our hang out and subsequently our practice pad. When we did start rehearsing again we quickly had a lot of material to work with. Touring and playing so much together had really bonded us as a unit. We began playing a few shows again and recruited Eric Strand (whom Larry and I had jammed with prior to swiping Devon) to play some percussion and Joe Stanley to play saxaphone. We started playing with some different sounds and textures doing a lot of semi-jazz flavored stuff which would suddenly shift gears into thrash. These tunes became the bulk of what would become the “Things I Hate to Admit” LP. It seemed that everyone we knew was working at the Lotus Bakery, Eric and I were drivers,Larry was a baker and was working with a metalhead from Petaluma named Tim Solyan who had a thrash band called Accolades. Tim had seen us play years before and hated us, but had become a huge fan of Devon and in short order became our roadie. He moved into the 3rd St. house and would watch us practice during this time. We recorded “Things I Hate To Admit” at Prairie Sun in Cotati with Dino Alden engineering.He got the nickname “Delicious” Dino because everytime we’d finish a take we’d ask him how it sounded and he’d come back over the talkback saying “delicious” in his sexiest whisper.The tone of the band, particularly the guitar, had changed quite a bit owing mostly to having had our gear ripped off on the previous tour. I was playing a Tele through this weirdo Acoustic half stack which made the guitar considerable thinner but did allow a chimier sound which sort of lent itself to the direction we were headed in. I think I was still pretty inexperience with vocals in the studio and still had a lot of hang ups about wondering if my lyrics were good so my vocals weren’t all they could be but all in all “Things…” is, to me, some of the most creative music Victims Family has ever made. The album was released in the summer of 1988 and we played some shows with the larger band regionally but didn’t really tour. About this time Devon was kind of breaking up with his then girlfriend when she suddenly discovered she was pregnant. He decided to quit the band and go to work full time.

In retrospect, I’m sure he was sick of it, he wasn’t really into all the punk shit, and dealing with me in those years was kind of a handfull as anyone who knew me then could attest.I was something of a control freak and sort of an unpredictable stressed out drunk. Not violent or anything, just crabby.We played our last show with Devon in September of that year which left Larry and I wondering what to do next. We started to play with Eric Strand which kind of made sense since he’d almost been our first drummer anyway. Right around this time I started getting calls from Hetty at De Konkurrent in Amsterdam. They had put out our first two records in Europe and she wanted to know if we like to come over for a tour. We set it up for the following spring and began to rehearse with Eric. We had also been interested in jamming with Tim but he was way too nervous about filling Devon’s shoes. We rehearsed through the winter and started playing some shows in the spring. I was still in school and doing pretty good. The tour was set to begin the last week of May but I had a little problem with finals, I was going to miss them. I worked on all of my instructors and all but one let me take the final early. It was my recording teacher who absolutely refused to let me take it early. The final was at 8 o’clock in the morning and our flight left SFO at 12:35. I had no choice but to go to the final and do just enough to know I would pass then I left, picked up the rest of the band and the gear and headed to the airport. Twelve hours later I was in Europe. I’ve never been back to college since.

We were completely floored by Europe. People knew our music and we were stunned by the crowds reaction. We were forced to play encore after encore. I tried to walk off the stage after three encores and almost got hit in the head by a bottle someone threw. I guess that was their way of saying come back and play some more. Musically we weren’t quite right though. Eric, though a great drummer, was just the complete opposite of Devon. Devon was a minimalist who played a four piece kit and only had hi-hats for cymbals. he didn’t need anything else. He could make a hi-hat sound like just about any cymbal.

Eric had been playing percussion so I think he felt pressure to do both the percussion and drum parts to the songs. As a result is kit was huge, all kinds of cymbals, crashes,chinas,woodbloocks and all kinds of stuff. He also had some songs he just wouldn’t play because he couldn’t figure them out.

Larry and Eric had also brought their girlfriends along so it kind of paired off as the two couple and then Tim and I. We had an English roadie/driver named Gigs. This was in the days before the all the borders in Europe were open and so we had to deal with all kinds of visas and work permits and stop at every border and present a list of equipment. I had a german amp at the time so every border guard wanted to see it to make sure I wasn’t illegaly importing something. Plus they were on us about drugs at every border. We were strip searched at the Norwegian border. When we got to the gig we saw that there was a naked guy on the flier for the “family victims” show.Oh, the irony.The show in Oslo was a trip, people lying drunk all over the street, the bar, the stage. Being summer the sun only went down for about 5 minutes around 11pm.

As the tour progressed it became obvious to Larry and I that it wasn’t working with Eric.Tim started jumping in playing drums on some songs that Eric wouldn’t do. He’d studied Devon relentlessly so he was much more in the pocket with us.