Archive for May, 2009

Best Defense (and the Greensburg Garden Civic Center gig)

Friday, May 29th, 2009

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Above: Best Defense 1987

In an attempt to make this blog more inclusive, and not just a Direct Action (and related bands) website, I thought I would do a post on another band that was playing back in the day, Best Defense. Forgive me if up to this point I have only posted items related to the bands I was in, but these are the items I have immediate access to so I hope you all understand. I would love to do future posts on Deep Six, Rug-Burn, Potholder, The Murr, The Fuse, etc. so if you are reading this and you have items for me to post on the blog, PLEASE send them to me!

Okay, so I mentioned in a previous post that the White Eagle show was Direct Action’s first show, but I really can’t remember if that was our first show or if our show with Best Defense at the Greensburg Garden Civic Center in Greensburg PA was the first. I do know that both shows were close together time-wise. Probably in the same year of 1987. Anyway, both of these shows had Direct Action and Best Defense on the bill.

Best Defense was a band that started around the same time as DA. Greg Olson, the singer of BD, was Tom Jagger’s next door neighbor and they both got into punk at the same time. Greg and I had many art classes together at Hempfield High school. He was a grade ahead of me and it was very cool for a wimpy skate-rat kid like me to be friends with a former football player who could crush someone’s skull with this one tattooed arm (Greg was the very first guy that I knew who had a tattoo in high school. I think it was an Eagle with the words “American Skin”). We would both talk about music in class and he mentioned that he and our friend Dave Baier (who player guitar) wanted to start a band but they needed a bass player and drummer. I think I was the one who mentioned that he should call Tom Wakinsha and Jim “Pojab” Rogers because I knew that they played guitar and drums (In fact, I jammed with them once in my parent’s basement prior to joining Direct Action). So Greg called Tom and they started writing songs. They then ask Shawn Moyer to play bass and Best Defense was born.

Shawn was a guy that lived in my neighborhood and I got a lot of my first tapes of great punk rock from him. I also went to my first show with Shawn and Greg. It was Government Issue, Half Life (Under the Knife line-up…My favorite era of the band) and the first incarnation of the Heretics at City Limits (which was an old roller rink in a strip mall. We went on to see many other shows there including the infamous Slayer, Motorhead show!).

Both the White Eagles and Garden Civic Center shows were completely organized by us. We rented the halls, got the pa, made flyers, collected the money at the door, etc. This blows my mind now because I can not believe that these two halls (The Greensburg Garden Civic Center was an especially “fancy” place) would allow a bunch of high school aged punks and skins to rent a hall and invite all their friends to hear loud punk rock music (The powers that be eventually caught on and would not allow us to book any more shows at either hall).

As I mentioned in an earlier post, Best Defense was Greensburg’s one and only (at least to my knowledge) Oi band. And even though I never agreed with their politics, I thought they were rockin’. Greg’s vocals were especially good and took a less “screamy” approch. He had more of a Glen Danzig style of singing.

BD went on to do a four track demo and then a studio album call Six Gun Justice. You can download the album from several websites doing a simple Google search.

Here are two of my favorite songs from BD. I have not spoken to the guys in BD in years but I don’t think they will mind if I post them. So if any of the guys in BD are reading this and don’t want me to post these songs, please drop me a line and I will remove them.

  1. We’ll Smash You
  2. American Skin

Below are some photos of Best Defense from the Greensburg Garden Civic Center show with Direct Action in 1987:

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So I think Greg O created a flyer for this show but I do not have a copy of it. If anyone has one please e-mail me a scan or digital pic of it so I can post it.

Here are a ton of Direct Action photos from the same gig:

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To the right, Mr. John Doran

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Rob in his Jesus and Marychain pose

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Rocky Speno to the left

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Kind of how we did the backup vocals on the first DV demo

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Right to Left: Dave Roman, Joe, and Tom W.

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I think Rob blew out his knee here

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The pit!

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Dave Baier of Best Defense to the left

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The first Direct Action demo tape

Friday, May 29th, 2009

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So in the fall of 1987, after playing several shows and practicing a set list of about 15 songs, Direct Action recorded their first demo tape.

I have fond memories of recording this demo.

I think Tom Jagger (guitarist in Direct Action) borrowed a four track recorder and around three mics from a friend at college (IUP). We had no idea what we were doing (and it is probably reflected in this recording. No matter, I love this recording! I think it really captures our songs in all their tape hiss, guitar fuzzed, one mic on the drums glory).

We recorded most of the songs in Tom’s basement with a couple of the songs being recorded in my parent’s living room. I think we had one mic hanging from the ceiling above Derek’s drums with two other mics on the guitar and bass amps. At the time, I still did not have a bass amp so I played my bass through Dave Baier’s guitar amp (guitarist for Best Defense). Rob did his vocals after the guitar, bass, and drum track were recorded. I remember the “backing vocals” taking awhile because we could not stop laughing at Rob screaming into a mic without us actually hearing the song from his headphones (If you listen to the song Riot, you can hear Tom say “Riot…take 984,” and Rob saying “finally” at the end of the song. This was because we had to do a ton of takes after laughing in the middle of the recording). We could not think of a better way to record the backing vocals since there was only one mic and set of headphones for vocals and not another track available to record to. So Rob would hand off the mic to a bunch of us (the band and some friends) like he would live, but like I said, we could not hear the song to sing along to the music, so we were kinda of winging it. Pretty pathetic huh?

Anyway, here are all the songs, in order, as they were on the demo. The only song that is not here to download is “Our Time is Near.” That is because we stopped playing the song shortly after this demo was recorded, since we all hated it (and still do).

The song “Pressure” (one of my favorite songs from this era of DA) was not on the original demo but I think it was on a later version (“second pressing?”), or I think we recorded it for some Pittsburgh compilation tape… I can’t remember. Anyway, we recorded “Pressure” with Derek’s brother in what would become the band’s main practice space… Tom’s Aunt Betty and Grandma’s basement.

  1. New Generation
  2. Stand Up and Fight
  3. Riot
  4. No Hope
  5. Systems of Decay
  6. Derelict
  7. Blown Away
  8. Bah
  9. Should I Stay or Should I Go (Clash cover)
  10. Our Time is Near
  11. In Love with Your Friend
  12. Pressure (Extra track. Not on original demo)

Here is the demo tape insert (closed):

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Here is the insert opened with misspellings and all (i.e. “defence” and “ultamate”)

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