There’s some allure for me in music attached to a geography that I also am attached to. Last week I watched a documentary called “It’s Gonna Blow: San Diego’s Music Underground 1986-1996“. It was pretty good. I’ve gathered some “dots” of information about the San Diego music scene past, but this helped me connect them and make a little more sense of it.
Hearing about some of this stuff in a chronological context reminded me a lot of some things that I saw and heard about in Lafayette. In my formative years (1998-ish) there, I ran a local music website, and at one point around 2001, my friend Pat was kind enough to write me a fairly comprehensive history of the Lafayette music scene from his vantage point. It coincides with the timespan covered in the aforementioned movie quite well, and I’d guess that similar other stories across the country match too. Kind of a Dischord Records to post-Seattle era. I can’t tell if this was a particularly good window of time for music, or if I’m just partial because it’s when I was young and into music.
Anyway, here’s Pat’s history of Lafayette music:
The History of Lafayette Music according to Pat McClimans
When I was fourteen years old, I met a guy named Dave Mason. I met him on the day that I bought my first skateboard that didn’t come from Hill’s. It really isn’t the same now, because in those days, if you rode a skateboard… you liked punk rock. It was our way of following the “not following the herd” herd. Quickly after this, I heard about a magical place where punk-rockers could take refuge from the cool dudes (this is something else that changed… in those days, having a messed up haircut, or wearing punk-type attire was pretty likely to get you into a fight. I can’t tell you how many times I got my ass kicked for nothing).
Anyway, this great place was known as ‘Spud Zero’. Dave and I started attending Spud Zero as often as possible- he usually got to go more than me because he is a gypsy. I noticed a whole group of people that were of kindred spirit. I was at home. This is when I noticed that there was a whole ‘scene’ of individuals unbeknownst to me. I was really at home. At this time bands like Rattail Grenadier (see: Squirtgun), Gadfly (see: Outriders), and Slaughterhouse five ruled the scene. Spud Zero would have live music, d.i.y. style, every single weekend. Bands like Operation Ivy and Dag Nasty played there. This would have been around 1987. Garcia’s was the cool place to hang out. Spud Zero’s proprietor, Mass Giorgini (who is also responsible for a compilation of punk bands in Indiana, containing Rattail Grenadier, Gadfly, and Union Groove [see: Strawberry Larry] known as ‘Children of the Corn‘, on Sonic Iguana records… if you own this, you are way old!), was just another punk rock kid who had a vision an a very supportive family to help this dream come true. However, ticket sales declined, forcing the Greatest d.i.y. club Lafayette has ever known to close. It was an end of an era.
People still hung out at Garcia’s and played the double dragon machine. At this time Gadfly was dropping out of the limelight as one of Lafayette’s great underground powers. They were so popular that just the mention of them playing a party would send 150 people there…. for a normal house party. Everyone would come out of the woodwork for a mere rumor. I don’t even think that this example fully makes known how big a deal Gadfly was. If you are ever at a friends house, and you see a Gadfly record…. You will not hear bad words in regard to the fly! Every listener was a devout fan. They were Lafayette’s greatest band! At this time another local band was rising up. It was TFH. If you know what that means… you’re old, or had a punk rock sister or brother. TFH was made up of some slightly younger dudes, one of which would become the music director of 95.7 the Rocket, Steve Clark. Dave Mason of MT Rhoades was on drums. TFH gave em hell for a couple years while Gadfly struggled with whatever made it difficult for them to play very often, and Rattail Grenadier was undergoing some lineup changes (the best 2 TFH shows ever were in Crawfordsville, and in Lafayette @ the party house for some neighborhood in the east end. Gadfly headlined, Scourgin’ Zombies, and 2hype3 played their first and last show). After some difficult decisions, TFH split up and formed Lafayette’s very first straightedge band, Advance. This is about….. oh….. 1990.
It is about this time that one of Lafayette’s kingpins of hardcore, Brad Carlson, arrived. Immediately, Brad hit the ground running with some great acts, like…. well, I am not trying to start trouble. Anyway, Advance went over like a breakfast burrito, but this band introduced Pat McClimans, Dave Mason (both of MT Rhoades)and Zach Coles(Outrider)… who would later form Tramlaw (…and it also created a lifelong dispute between Lafayette and Split Lip(Chamberlain) due to a show @ the Tahoe swim club). After Advance realized that they had no reason to go on torturing crowds, and a brief side project known as Holding Out, but the guys called it quits and played their last, depressing show at a friends birthday party. Great. A little side project to come out of this group would be known as The He-man womanhaters club (the very early stages of Scab). This is about 1992.
Bands were springing up everywhere. The biggest shows were the ones in the Von’s parking lot. These were huge deals! Like, hundreds of people would be there! After these shows were not happening any longer, a place on N. 18th street became available…. the Hannah community center. This is when St. Catherine’s wheel, Casket (see: Shortbus), Suburbia (Brian Bush…. ever heard of him), Cutlass, and Kenny’s first band in Lafayette to play out, Crunge Machine, and some new band called Scab were on the scene. Parties held at the Matterns were a highlight of the year, because everyone would play. A little unknown band called Snapcase played there once. Bands from out of town, like Endpoint (see: By the Grace of God), Split Lip (see: Chamberlain), and Iceburn were known to have played our little town.
It was at this time , around 1993-4, that Scab started to play larger shows at places like the Morton Center, and The Wesley Foundation (not Java Roaster) with bands like Into Another, Die 116, and Metroschifter. After Scabs’ members- who would go on to form bands like Bedford Falls and Tramlaw- ego’s became too inflated, it was time to say goodbye. Many have told me that they cut their scene teeth at this show, what a pivotal moment in local music. After this show, the Lafayette music leaders became Walker, a no nonsense punk band that had been paying their dues for the last couple of years.Walker was formed via Kenny’s imagination and a four track in his bedroom. They also launched Matt Coles (Zach’s brother) into the Lafayette underground eye. This band soon picked up hardcore hero Brad Carlson, and a winning combination was formed.
Other bands who were making quite an impression at this time were, Tractor( an early Finger, w/ Cody Herr on bass), Creamy Linguini (a funk band featuring Chad Snyder on bass), Strawberry Larry, and Squirtgun( a form of Rattail Grenadier, also known as Belt).
In the shadows, Pat and Dave were looking to begin something new. We remembered our old Advance bass player Zach Coles, who was now in the mighty Cutlass. Cutlass was not really a constant thing anymore, and Dave and I were free so we started playing, and Tramlaw was born. Cody Herr, after a brief stint with Tractor, went on to form Bedford Falls with Tony Smith (see: Summerfield).
At this time Tramlaw were practicing in an old warehouse down on Sycamore street, owned by Midwest rentals. One evening, on the way back into town from a Louisville show, Myself, Dave Mason, Jay Buck, and Josh Fields decided to begin booking regular shows into the two warehouses that sat side by side (Sonic Iguana studios was housed here for a winter just before then), connected by a large door in between. This was the birth of door #3. It was named by Dave Mason. We couldn’t come up with anything interesting, so that is what he called it, enabling us to make flyers. Door #3 was created to bring back Spud Zero in spirit. In its prime it was a real monster. There were Friday and Saturday shows every weekend with different bands every time and shows were turning out 250-300 on average. Pretty impressive. Josh Fields had pretty much taken over the business end, and the rest of us were just there to help keep it running smooth. I think that my favorite show there was when a metal band, My Insanity played. They brought their own stage, lights, wireless systems, PA system…. the works. They also brought about 100 of their friends, on top of the usual 250-300. The place was insanely packed (fire codes?)!Also for the record, Scab performed four songs as an extension of a Tramlaw set one time. This was their only performance at door #3.
At some point, a letter ended up at Midwest rentals saying some things about alleged goings on at door #3. This is when the regular shows ceased, somewhere in 1996. At this point, the connecting door went back up and Tramlaw took over door #4 and left #3 open to whoever would take it (Michael Oxenrider and Chris Russell have shared it w/ Brian Bush… who still does shows today). Another figurehead of Lafayette local music, Michael Oxenrider, took up with a young guitar player named Chris Russell. These guys practice longer, harder, and more often than anyone I know, and they have since they first started in door #3. Hush would almost rise from this effort, but not quite. Hush lacked a certain oomph in the rhythm end of their sound. I think it is because no one was good at showing up to practice except Michael and Chris, maybe that’s just me though! When Michael Hamrick and Tony Smith joined, it all worked just right! Bedford Falls left town, and Tramlaw’s members split.
Now, Zach Coles went on to play with Outrider, where he remains today. Pat and Dave merged with Kenny (see:Walker) and Jeff Clark to create rock and roll. Tony Smith returned from So. Cal to help create Michael Oxenrider and Chris Russell’s dream group, Summerfield (finally, 5 years of work pays off!). With Kenny joining The Lonesome Woods band, Walker was put aside, enter BoyNamedSue.
I am old and jaded, so I can’t really be too clear about much after this. I know this… Shortbus, Cast out, Vice dolls and Sacrafice are on the scene right now, as well as MT Rhoades, Summerfield, Outrider, Sutek conspiracy, Ninnies, etc. The list is endless and I am old, so I will not continue. This is Lafayette local music history according to Pat McClimans.