The first Direct Action demo tape


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):


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


20 Responses to “The first Direct Action demo tape”

  1. rob says:

    aaaahhhh!!!the demo!!!i concur fully with you.i still think it sounds great, even with all the technical errors and horrifying sound.its punk as hell, and that’s the whole point, right?!?i can remember recording it in the living room of yr old house, with michelle bird/the skate betties?/amber derek sittin’ ’round on the steps while i did vocals.we also practiced in yr basement for awhile as well.please,plase post a photo of the “thanks/no thanks” hillarity!!!might have photos of our first danceland other memoriabilia.i let you know!!!
    keep it up!!,

  2. DKaspare says:

    Thanks / No Thanks list? What do you mean?

    I think Blown Away is now my fav on this demo :)

  3. rob says:

    there was a thanks list we all wrote at derek’s parents house one night.the “thanks” part was really long and silly, as was the infamous, “no thanks list”.equally entertaining….was in copies of the 1st demo.there was also a 1st, 1st demo, that was recorded in tom’s parent’s gameroom with george’s new boombox.4 songs, systems of decay makes its first appearance here,sent it to marc in boston where he put it on his weekly top ten list in his zine.ah memories….
    blown away still sounds like a uk 82 “destroy” side song(think early exploited/one way system/vice squad,ect).still love systems of decay and pressure rules!!!was recorded for an aborted comp from new england.

  4. DKaspare says:

    I thought Pressure went on that cassette comp put out by the guy in HAND OF DOOM

  5. DKaspare says:

    I don’t have a copy of the thanks/no thanks list! Need it.

  6. lisa e. says:

    i had this casette! i prolly still do…somewhere…

  7. Matt Falenski says:

    I still have a copy of this tape somewhere, I remember seeing it not too long ago. No tape player though…

  8. DKaspare says:

    hey matt,
    Now you can down the songs to Itunes :)

  9. John Dzubak says:

    Some how i ended up with a copy i think i stole it from Sean Wolfe

  10. JohnP says:

    I finally have a copy of the demo, thanks to the magic of these internets! When I think of my favorite punk songs Class War by the Dils is the A-number1, but Derelict is probably number 2. Not even sure what it is about that song
    I was always bummed that I missed direct action’s “eary period,” but feel I was incredibly lucky to get in on things and play some of these great songs.

    I’ll have to dig out my old pics and see if I have anything you can use, Dave. Are you going to post any video? I’d love to see the one of you guys practicing in (I think) Tom’s garage. The one with the kid out on the street playing air guitar!

  11. Burn Unit says:

    Lisa Kozad in those Greensburg Civic Center photos? Can’t believe I remember her name…..GCC show was first, White Eagles was second. There was a third White Eagles show (the last one they ever had there, I believe) which was Upper Hand’s first show on March 3, 1988. I know Direct Action played it, but I don’t think Best Defense did.

  12. Burn Unit says:

    Please post photos of the naked man in Denny’s.

  13. Burn Unit says:

    The recording session of this demo was the first time I ever met Derek, Rob, and Tom. I think this was done in October or early November 87. I remember showing up with Dave at Tom’s basement wearing an NOTA shirt I had mail-ordered and Rob was freaking out. I think they crammed Rob into the bathroom with the mic and no one could keep a straight face hearing him screaming in there. The “NYRP Punks” were “New Youth Resistance Positive Punks” It was a term that I think Dave came up with whenever me and him and Doug Evancho and Aaron Tlumack used to make requests on Randy Fox’s punk radio show on Friday nights at California University of Pennsylvania.

  14. DKaspare says:

    I have that NOTA shirt! I traded you for the Jerry’s Kids LP :) I wear it now and then.

    Yes the NYRP Punks. I did come up with that. I was really into 7 Seconds at the time and they seemed to use terminology like that.

    Its Lisa Kosack (sp?) not Kozad. Are you sure the W.E. show was first? I thought the GGC show was first.

  15. JohnP says:

    Since “Burn Unit” brought up the Cal U punk show: I used to record that show so I could listen back to the bands whose records I couldn’t find. When I told I friend I was joining direct action he said he’d heard them on that show. I listened back to my tapes and sure enough there was Blown Away!

  16. Greg says:

    Great job on the pics and details, wow what fun! Of all the music that came out of our geographic area, DA and all its later incarnations, name changes and members had the most musical merit. Dave, you have cassette covers, ep’s, old flyiers, even pics that you can scan, these things only exist in cyberspace today, kids of the future will only be able to look at their broken ipod. If there is anything like an indie music scene in western PA. today, I doubt they could ever get away with what we did (renting venues); without liability insurance, onsite security, city permits! The “Punk” slogan at the time (or more like a mod/ska slogan) was “its the dawning of a new era”, in actuallity, it was the end of a kinder, simpler era. At the time, we thought it “the underground music scene” was so edgy, but now our antics seem tame and wholesome by todays standards! ARRRGGHHHH, I think I’ve become a crusty old man!

  17. Jaggernaut says:

    This kicks ass! It is great to see these old pictures… I agree with Greg, as what we were doing then is radio fodder these days, but it feels good to be part of everything that happened in that scene. What a great group of people… those photos really put things in perspective.
    I wish I had a wardrobe consultant back then… not that I’m any better now.

  18. dave roman says:

    dave thanks for bringing back old memories..from the famous lisa k party in july of 87 to the last show i did nofx in 89. i had so much fun doing and hanging out at those three favorite direcy action shows of all time are 1 the civic centr show in dec of 87 2 nofx show in aug. of 89 3 the first show at danceland in aug of 87. to dave k.rob, tom,derek,greg o thank you for the great times. if you need any more pictuers of direct action shows contact eric bauer i think he still lives in greensburgh. i;m alive and well living in loyalhanna pa between latrobe and derry. rip bill slam respect due to brian smetak.eric bauer,eric harden.jef king. harry latzino.and everybody who was in the scence.rock on.

  19. sean says:

    Dzubak you skate rat, give me back my tape!

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