Peace Thru Vandalism
Produced: Thom Wilson
Steven Ronald “Stevo” Jensen – Vocals
Jan Nils Ackermann – guitar
Steve “Human” Pfauter – bass
Joe Escalante – Drums
1. Wanna Be Manor
2. Urban Struggle
3. The Legend of Pat Brown
4. Pirate’s Life
5. H.B. Hotel
6. Anarchy Burger (Hold the Government)
Great EP, nowadays it ranks as one of the early hardcore classics. I always felt this EP is what the Adolescents would’ve sounded like if they chose to be funny, instead of the serious band they were. Funny, but not stupid . . . sorry Angry Samoans.
Urban Struggle depicts the constant fighting that would occur between the punks at Costa Mesa’s Cuckoo’s Nest, and the cowboys who gathered next door at Zuby’s. The song received radio airplay on KROQ’s Rodney on the ROQ regularly. The Legend of Pat Brown is about a friend of the band who was a notorious drunk known for causing mayhem. While Pirate’s Life tells of riding the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland while taking LSD. H.B. Hotel is a cover of the Elvis’ Heartbreak Hotel with “new” lyrics. Perhaps the most well known song from the EP is Anarchy Burger, which became something of an anthem for the band, and was played at their shows well into the late ‘90’s.
Rating: ** * two out of three stars
The standout cuts are: The Legend of Pat Brown, and Anarchy Burger.
If you find it, give it a listen.
On to the story . . .
Back in 1992 or 1993, I had a couple of friends that wanted to be rappers. But couldn’t write rhymes, or create music (with turntables or otherwise). So, one of the guys, Todd, approached me about writing lyrics, and putting a rap group together for him. He said he knew I had a few friends that could put together the music, and I could coordinate the rest.
I don’t know why, but it sounded interesting to me. I wrote about ten songs, with the melodies. Then I met up with an old coworker of mine from the 1980’s named Jeff. Jeff was the least ambitious person on God’s earth. In 1988 he became manager at a Miller’s Outpost in Tarzana because everyone else quit.
Anyway, still living at home, and not working in the 1990’s, I called him and asked if he wanted to create some music. He told me to come over to his “crib.” I show up a couple hours later, beer bottles lay all over the room, cigarette ash, and overflowing ashtrays gently scent the room.
Jeff was a Black guy I knew. He was originally from Tennessee, but was raised in the San Fernando Valley, and he could be diagnosed as a sociopath. He never harmed anyone, but also didn’t give a shit about a thing. But he did have some musical talent.
So, I bring him some lyrics, he focuses on one song I titled South of Heaven. It’s a somewhat moody song about, I guess, redemption. Realizing you’re a screw-up, and trying to change before you go to hell, hence the title South of Heaven.
Before Jeff writes the music, he asks me to rap it. Now, for those of you who know me, or read this column know I can’t sing for shit. I sang in a punk band, and that experience fooled me into thinking I had a voice. I auditioned for a local L.A. Glam-Metal band called Voyeur in 1986, and blew-out my throat trying to force notes, while failing to be considered for the band.
Anyway, Jeff asks me to rap the song. I don’t know how to attempt it. So, rather just try and find my own voice, I ended up trying to do an imitation of Melle Mel. After a couple of rounds of this Jeff stops, and asks what the hell am I doing. Slightly pissed, I say trying to rap!
By the second day, he’s got the music written, and recorded on a four-track. The guys, Todd, and Scott, like the track so much that they decide the band’s name should be S.O.H after the song title South of Heaven.
The music is slow, and somewhat grinding. It fit the lyrics perfectly. At one point they wanted this guy Anthony to be in the band, but after he smashed up some party, he was out. So, a few weeks later they booked a party, where they would perform South of Heaven to the tape, and then do some freestyle. The party was somewhere in the hills of Pacoima. The song was written for three guys, with lyrical exchange like the old Run DMC stuff. I get to the party with the tape (Jeff wanted it back Monday morning), and lyric sheets. I was under the impression they had a new guy, and he didn’t know the lyrics.
I look outside, and Todd and Scott are smoking, and drinking, and polishing their overall thug images. I’m stressing because I don’t see the “third” dude. Todd tells me that since I know the musical cues, and lyrics, that I should be in the group.
I debated running out of the party, but instead said no way. They tried to bribe me, “we’ll give you $20.00, and beer.” Nope. Then they try guilt-tripping me. “Thanks for nothing. We won’t get to perform.” Etc, etc, etc.
Finally I say fine, come find me when it’s time to perform. They were hi-fiving, and generally happier than a hooker with a bagful of dicks.
Some three hundred pound vato named Tiny hands me a Mickey’s 22 ounce, and says, “Are these white rappers any good?” I didn’t know what to say . . . so, I uttered, “You’ll be surprised.”
I hear somebody over a microphone say, “Are you ready for SOH?” So I rush over to the guy with the PA, hand him the cassette. The slow hook comes on, and the entire (mostly Hispanic) crowd starts swaying to Jeff’s music. Since neither guy has the lyrics or music memorized, I gave them lyric sheets, and I nod to them whenever it’s their turn to come in. I, myself, unfortunately, knew the song inside, and out by this point. So, I could walk around without wondering what to do. I did my best not to do a rip-off of anybody’s voice. So, I ended up just talking fast.
Once the song was over, I was relieved, and everybody was stoked. Great reaction. The DJ put on a slow drum track, and that was the cue to start free styling. For about 5 seconds these guys looked stumped, and then they looked at me. I was trying to leave the party, and they say something like “Let’s here it for Mike E.” Oh shit. I couldn’t think of any rap, or anything to say. Then this old Prince lyric, I think from the 1999 album. So, I grabbed the mike, and said: “If you think that I’m crazy, you’re probably tight, but I’m gonna have fun every motherfuckin’ night. You’re a double-drag fool, I’m goin’ to another life how about you?” I tossed the mike into the air and left.
As I got into my car I could hear Scott and Todd trading every bit of rap, r and b, and rock lyric they know. The crowd was digging it.
As I was backing out, Tiny came over, and said: “Hey, you were the best one up there tonight.” I said thanks. Headed down San Fernando Road, and thought about Tiny’s hearing impairment.
LIFE WON’T WAIT will be out August 2013, reserve a copy today: http://tiny.cc/rutyvw