Impulse Control (homework #101)
Punk. It is not as impatient as has been supposed. Screaming Urge. Archetypal American Punk Rock. Emerge now as the best underground music you never heard created in their own NOWHERE, their own nu-topic derangement fantasized and realized in the midwestern police city-state of Columbus, Ohio.
Screaming Urge came into being in 1978 with the self-creation of Michael Ravage. Myke Rock came into being in 1979. Dave Manic came into being in 1980. They began touring the United States extensively in a black Chevy van spray painted in white on the sides the same graffiti found around the police city state: Screaming Urge. They played and in playing helped create the underground venues that sustained the new life of the new forms of consciousness -a punk national/international cultural matrix of resistance.
Many nights on tour they were so broke they slept in the van. The sweat would condense on the roof and drip down on their faces. They stole beer from the bars. And they never felt guilty. For a New York tour, they invited their fans, and fifteen people drove to New York in the Chevy van and slept together, one on top of the other. The punk ethos said the audience and the stage were one and became one during the show. The band invited the fans on stage to sing. The fans started bands. The bands played together. DIY culture accepts all, is all-forgiving, is all-embracing. Screaming Urge shows featured the self-appointed muse, Lynn, who danced free-style to every song. In the middle of the stage. On the side of the stage. On the floor. It was a hard-core group of three and a community. It was the inspiration for a community of musicians to wonder at and follow.
In 1978, no club in the city police state permitted musicians to play original music, to write and say original words. One was required to play the intellectually propertized, corporatized, has nothing-to-do-with-anything-in-your-life bloated music of the 70s: to perpetuate the authoritarian think-not-for-yourself consciousness required for the smooth operation of capitalism. It is hard to imagine now just how shocking it was to want to play your own music live. It is harder to imagine now just how reviled and despised punk was by mainstream culture, especially in a midwestern city.
Screaming Urge changed that. In 1978, Ravage initiated the DIY venue of NOWHERE, first held at a church!!! (the Methodists, go figure it out). The shows were publicized through word-of-mouth and flyers. Imagine a pinhead picking his nose and thoughtfully imagining a hippie telling him to hold his nose up. Such pinhead was the NOWHERE flyer. A new type of flyer for the new consciousness emerging. Chaos and many-demoned fun. NOWHERE reproduced itself over the span of the next eighteen years eventually committing suicide (club owners decided to take advantage of it and turn it into their private Idaho get-off money-making scheme) to remerge as the spectre that still waits a little while at your door. NOWHERE flyers their own art form, morphing with each show. In 1984, Reagan's head appeared on the body of Venus. In 1995, the Supreme Court invited everyone to "waste your time with us."
In 1979, Screaming Urge rented out the burlesque/porno/mud-wrestling hall known as the Garden Theatre, a large brick building with a flashing pink neon sign in the splendidly seedy neighborhood known as Flytown, bringing with them Mister Unique and the Leisure Suits from Detroit, Screaming Urge's favorite band (Mr. Unique dressed in a business suit and stood motionless in the middle of the stage throughout the set. At the end of the set, the band would come to Mr. Unique on their knees and beg him for the answer as they held the microphone to his mouth. "Mr. Unique, Mr. Unique, WHAT'S THE ANSWER?" Expressionless, Mr. Unique would reply, "I don't know." Kinda like "All Questions" as performance art.) One song in the Screaming Urge repertoire at this time was the Beaver-turn-bad song "Eddie, Beaver, Wally, and Ward," with a chorus that went, "You can't leave it to Beaver anymore." Jerry Mathers and Tony Dow were in Columbus at the time doing a play at a dinner theatre. Myke Rock took it upon himself to call the dinner theatre and invite the Beav to the show. The Beav showed up, the Beav sang on stage to his song of Beaver corruption at the hands of Eddie, and the Beav attended the punk/stripper afterparty. To this day, the Beaver remains a hard-core fan of Screaming Urge.
Guerilla concerts. Set up quick in the middle of the police city-state's main drag. Plugged into (via the at least one radical working) a pizza shop not too far away. Hey, mind if we plug in here to play outside? Sure! Crowds would gather (good for pizza business) and stop traffic. Then, as soon as the police would come, Screaming Urge, out of deference to authority, would launch into the crowd-pleaser, "Killa Poe Leese." As the police arrested people. Before the band was unplugged. They played on the streets. They played in the basement of Magnolia Thunderpussy, a record store. They played at the Cowboy House and the Dyke House. And, after creating their own culture through NOWHERE, they played the hell out of the clubs, clubs they helped create by insisting on the new forms of consciousness that will not repressed, will not be choked, will not be quieted. They supported the formation of Rock Against Racism, which legend has started in Columbus, Ohio (ranks with LA in police brutality), through the Youth International Party (YIPPIES). At the first RAR benefit they played, they shared the stage with Bobby Seale.
On this disc is only a small sample of the music created by the band. The playlist in 1980-81 alone was 120 original songs. "Hitler's in Brazil" is not just a song. It is a collective memory of the totalitarianism that was supposed to be without but that was always lurking within the fabric of our culture then and now. Hitler is everywhere (or is he?) as Screaming Urge will tell you to a pulsing, hypnotic beat. Bringing to consciousness in these songs through melody (or not) and words (or screams) what is latent and needs to be screamed, as in "War (Is Not O.K.)." The 1980 Blue Album was recorded through the enthusiasm of the engineers at the Recording Workshop in Columbus and Chillicothe, Ohio. They took the unprecedented step of recording the entire album for free for the band. Steve Garner was in no-way the producer of that album the band didn't even meet him until after it was recorded. He plunked down the cash for the pressing of the album and threw his name and picture on the back. Plenty of Malcolm McLarens always around trying to claim credit. The 1981 Black and White album was recorded live, but due to the time constraints on vinyl, the clapping cheering rowdiness was removed. A glimpse of this audience can be caught on the track entitled "Hemophilia/Noise." The only overdubs on this recording are extra guitars on "You Make It Hard," "Skitzo Brain," "Hell Yes" and "Lovesick."
Screaming Urge toured the United States and Canada, sometimes three and four months at a time. They played clubs like the Rat in Boston, CBGB's many times, Rock Island in Houston, Max's Kansas City (NYC), Raul's in Austin. The state that loathed the Sex Pistols embraced Screaming Urge. It was large. In 1980, they were hot on the heels of the Go-Gos. Every venue they played the Gos-Gos had been the night before. They opened for the Ramones, Echo and the Bunnymen, and the Fleshtones, to name a few. They were signed to Stiff records in 1980 only to have the deal blown by a manager who claimed to own the songs. Well, the beat goes on. In 1981, they toured again and then some more. Relentlessly. Screaming Urge. Even once punk was allowed in the clubs, Screaming Urge met with resistance playing down south when they walked into a club and the owner saw Myke Rock. Some clubs in the south flatly refused to let the band play.
This bio is only a glimpse into the life and times of Screaming Urge, who are currently booking a tour of the United States and Europe. Making new music, making trouble, and having fun. You can reach them on their website www.screamingurge.com. Thank you, goodnight.
Do not bow down. Go scream.
Written by Baby Lindy, Fan-actic, Kidnapped by the DrugMothers, Born Again Punk, Saved by Screaming Urge, the Ultimate Truth
Contact Screaming Urge: firstname.lastname@example.org