These mysterious muskegon, Michigan Hardcore Punks Were G.G. Allin’s Backing Band from 1989-1991… but were they the notorious rocker’s best backing band?
To many people, the Midwest region consists of a smattering of flyover states that are filled with endless stretches of corn fields, smell of livestock manure, and are home to dangerous right-wing militias. While these things are true, the Midwest is also home to some of the most obscure and underrated punk rock ever recorded.
One such obscure and underrated punk band are Disappointments, from Muskegon, Michigan, who are a great example of how hardcore punk evolved in the latter half of the 1980’s to incorporate elements of Grindcore and Thrash Metal. It’s not a huge stretch to classify this recoding as Powerviolence, either. Same musical pie, just sliced a little differently.
The Disappointments consisted of Elvis Roy on vocals, Bob Pringle on guitar, T-Ricky Insult on bass, and Mark Spaniola on drums.
The lyrical theme on this E.P. is clear, and reinforced with clever samples of the Boss Elf from the 1964 TV movie, Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer interspersed throughout: Disappointments don’t want to work a crummy job for some jerk-off boss for the rest of their lives. They’re putting off finding a job; they’re drinking their sorrows away; they’re all out of weed and can’t find any. Sounds like they’re living the American Dream®, courtesy of the Reagan/Bush era, doesn’t it?
Disappointments, live at the Ice Pick (Muskegon, Michigan) in 1987
This is Midwest hardcore punk that is as grimy and dirty as the Rust Belt that spawned it. It has a machine-tooled quality to it, and to me it just sounds like it’s from Michigan, almost as if it could only have come from the particular place and time of its birth: an industrial, working-class town on the shores of Lake Michigan.
Even if you don’t like this kind of music or this particular recording, you have to acknowledge the technical proficiency on display here. That drummer is pounding out a solid slab of grade A technical percussion. The songs are fast, furious, and short, and the band seems comfortable incorporating the kind of odd time signature flourishes and precise stops & starts that you’d expect to hear from professional studio players, not from a bunch of young punks bashing away on pawn shop-grade musical gear.
The drummer for the band, Mark Spaniola, owned and operated a punk venue in Muskegon, Michigan called The Ice Pick, which was one of the longest-running (and most notorious) punk rock dives in the entire region. Quite a few well known punk bands played there, including Agnostic Front, D.O.A., and SNFU, among others. The Ice Pick was also a stomping ground for homegrown Michigan punk and metal bands like Premature Babys, and Jim Jones & the Kool-Aid Kids (J2K2), among others.
In fact, the Ice Pick is notable enough in the history of Michigan punk that a documentary featuring it is in the works. You can find out some details on its Facebook page.
Disappointments & G.G. Allin
Of course, one can’t talk about Disappointments without mentioning their ties to the infamous G.G. Allin. Disappointments were his backing band from 1989 to 1991, serving as one of his longest-running backup bands as he transitioned from his ragged, long-haired biker scumbag persona from the 1980’s into a the shaven-headed goat teed “I’ll be dead soon” 90’s look that he’s most known for.
Disappointments also toured with G.G. Allin, and though I’m unable to find a list that specifies which shows they backed him on, it’s probably safe to assume that most if not all of the shows between 1989 and 1991 on this list are backed by Disappointments.
G.G. Allin was known to have lived at the Ice Pick for awhile (and almost burned it down, according to legend), and he played several shows there with Disappointments as his backing band.
Blogged & Quartered also covered this release way back in 2013, and the comments contain some interesting tidbits about the band and their history that are worth reading, including a link to a pretty hilarious interview from 1989 with G.G. and the band in which G.G. discusses his assault charges, arrests, and suicide plans, and the band erroneously claim that they’re from Detroit.
The most interesting bit of history about this band (to me, at least) is that John Peel absolutely loved them, and played songs from this E.P. (or the entire thing) 14 times on his BBC radio show. It blows my mind that a totally obscure hardcore punk band from Michigan was ever played on the legendary DJ’s show at all, let alone that much.
On a personal note, I wonder if there was something about the prevalence of Scum Punk in West Michigan around that time. Was it more popular in Michigan than other places? Was it was a reaction to all of the conservative Dutch evangelical christians? It makes me think about how I got exposed to G.G. Allin, The Mentors, The Dwarves, The Meatmen, and similar button pushers at a pretty early age by “borrowing” mix tapes from my older brother, and why it seemed pretty normal to me that punk bands were supposed to exhibit a complete lack of morals and personal hygiene. I mean… aren’t they?
Anyhow, enough of my yapping. Listen to the entire recording on the West Michigan Punk bandcamp (better sound quality) or watch the Youtube video below:
Disappointments – Better You Than Me
Label: An Ice Pick Production – ER‧001
Format: Vinyl, 7″, EP, 33 ⅓ RPM, White vinyl
Genres: Hardcore, Punk
Full Track List:
- Better You Than Me
- Scar Yourself
- Drink It Away
- Find A Job
- The Woe
- Trash Fever
- Big Fat Boss Man
- No Pot
- Putting It Off
- Credit Due
- Wishing Well
- Did It Wrong
- Next To Impossible
- Hint To Move
- Mama Done Told Me
G.G. Allin & Disappointments: Recordings & Bootlegs
Untangling the mess of low-quality home recordings, demos, practice tapes, live VHS recordings, and bootlegs of G.G. Allin that have been released over the years is a daunting task. It’s clear that Disappointments never had an official studio release as G.G.’s backing band that had the same kind of focused effort behind it that some of his more well-known bands like The Jabbers or Scumfucs did.
However, we’ve managed to find a handful of releases and videos featuring Disappointments backing G.G. during the tumultuous period between 1989 and 1991.
GG Allin & Disappointments: Outside Inside 7″
According to Discogs, this partial gig of G.G. Allin & Disappointments was recorded live at Stache’s in Columbus, Ohio on June 16 1989 and later released as a 7″ on translucent red vinyl.
Titled Outside Inside, the record is notable in part because of its rarity (like many of the best G.G. Allin releases), and also because it literally plays from the “inside out”, meaning that the stylus goes from the inner groove & moves outward as the record plays.
Looking at the art included with the record, and considering the timing of its release, it seems reasonable to suggest that Outside Inside is also a reference to Allin’s arrest on assault charges in 1989, and subsequent jail time in Washtenaw, Michigan and prison time in both Adrian and Jackson, Michigan between September 1989 and March 1991.
The entire show at Stache’s can also be found as a cassette release.
G.G. Allin & Disappointments 2001 VHS / 2004 DVD
Some of the footage from the release has been uploaded to Youtube, and you can find them at the links below.
It may be the case that the appearance at Blondie’s in Detroit was the first time Disappointments backed G.G. Allin, possibly after another of his bands quit on him (The Toilet Rockers?) the night of the show.
- GG Allin & Disappointments: Live at Blondie’s, Detroit, MI (2/2/1989)
- G.G. Allin & Disappointments: Live in Toledo, OH (4/14/1989)
- G.G. Allin & Disappointments: Live at Populas Pudding, Willamantic, CT (4/25/1989)
- G.G. Allin & Disappointments: Live in Tampa, FL (6/17/1989)
GG Allin and The Disappointments LIVE ICE PICK Muskegon, MI 1989
An audio recording of a complete show at The Ice Pick in Muskegon, Michigan in 1989 with Disappointments opening (Elvis Roy on vocals, of course) followed by G.G. Allin & Disappointments.