Perfect Sound Forever


Michael Martzke interview by Clinton Orman

You're likely asking "What am I doing here? Why am I reading this?" In fact, I'm asking you the same thing! Lil' Mike is my name, and my story starts a long time ago playing Galaxian in a Pizza Inn in an "unincorporated area" far far away...

A teen in the 80's, I played in bands you probably never heard of and transitioned into other nooks and crannies of "indie rock," working at Subterranean Records, the label that brought the world Flipper, Factrix and Helios Creed. I spent time booking bands like A Subtle Plague, Rich Kids on LSD and Sublime and worked behind the scenes helping and hindering at SF hot spots like The Chameleon, Komotion, Kennel Club and many others.

And no one ever cared enough to write much about it... until now! Witnessing the recent documentation of the more hyper-conceptual, avant-garde, quasi-musical Andy Kaufman-esque side of the -80's and -90's San Francisco music scene (Sounds of the Adult Bookstores...?), which certainly deserved it, this guy Clinton felt compelled to document a slightly different side of that scene, one that was in no way anti-rock, and embodied San Francisco's unique sense of danger and decadence as well as its ennui's, neuroses and abject horrors. These were bar bands, warehouse bands and garage bands, playing for one another and the other locals, losers, transients and general rabble. Basically neighborhood bands, it's just that the neighborhoods of San Francisco can be pretty weird and beautiful places (Clinton wrote this part).

I assured him there was no demand in the universe for such a project, even among many of the participants being documented, and this only seemed to encourage him.

So twist my arm! Do you like outsider shit? or the 90's? Want to look at some flyers and photos and hear some funny stories? Read on!

NOTE: This interview references Clinton's interview with Jay Crawford of the band Bomb, also here on Perfect Sound Forever. Michael Dean of Bomb also has an interview and an essay here.

Photos from Lil' Mike Martzke's personal collection unless otherwise noted.


MM: My initial exposure to what we might call "alternative music" was probably reading Trouser Press magazine, which seemed ten times more interesting and mysterious than the Hit Parader, Circus and Teen Beat music mags at the grocery store. I could only wonder what bands like The Dead Kennedys and Angry Samoans sounded like, when not even college radio in the early eighties was willing to play those groups, what we now call American Hardcore. Sure you could hear Romeo Void, Nash The Slash, Personal Effects or 10,000 Maniacs on the left of the dial, but there really wasn't a place for Flipper or Necros on the airwaves back then. We lived in upstate New York in a rust belt region, but as I was hitting high school, my dad got a job as Sports Editor at USA Today, when it was first starting up, and we moved to the beltway of Washington DC. My dad picked our house because it was the only suburb that was consistently wired for cable TV which he had to watch because he was a self-designated "TV Sports" columnist, and had to have his 24-hour ESPN Sports Center. In the last place we lived, my dad buddied up to the local cable company General Manager and convinced him to run a wire for cable out to our house, but none of our neighbors were included in this. That guy eventually ended up spending his last days as a security guard in a second-tier Las Vegas casino after losing his gig for breaking that, and a few more FCC rules.

Reston, VA, US Geological Survey public domain

So we moved to this cable-ready place that wasn't even a town at all, it was a corporate-owned development called Reston. It was owned by Gulf and Mobil Oil whose brochure and visitor center literally called it "a place called Reston." It was named after one of the publishers of the New York Times. Robert E. Simon. R.E.S. town... RESton. It was all controlled by these corporate "covenants." You could only have a muted brown door, no doughboy pools, shit like that.

PSF: Was it like that movie Over The Edge?

MM: Yes! That was my favorite! Although that was dusty Arizona or something and this was Northern Virginia woodland, border of Maryland, 20 miles from DC, just 5 minutes from an airport named after the CIA director who got fired for plotting the Bay of Pigs. I'm just coming into my teenage rebellion years and I land in this weird fuckin' "place." It was custom built to house GS 13 level civil servants, low level lobbyists, government contractors, the so-called "intelligence community." You'd go to the neighborhood Christmas party and nobody could tell you what they did for a living. Conversation would be like...

"You're my next door neighbor, what do you do, Bill?"
"Oh I work for the government."
"Doing what?"
"I can't tell you."

After meeting some older guys with cars, I finally started going to all-ages shows and being around at the start of Mark Anderson's "Positive Force" organization. I got to meet the kids starting their own labels like Dischord, Simple Machines and WGNS which stood for We Gots No Station.

I was soon in my own band called Toolin' for Bovines. We played the battle of the bands at the local community center and I'd brought a bike chain. I wielded it and thrashed the portable stage and got banned from the "venue." I was soon banned from being onstage at my high school for another incident. There was a lip synch contest, and me and a pal had put on these "Wild and Crazy Guys" outfits, bell bottoms, polyester shirts and used hair spray to glue black cat hair onto our exposed chests and made this whole skit. These girls we knew came out in babushkas and their babies popped out, it was all in bad taste, we thought it was hilarious. The Principal was like, you are banned from our school stage, you're a terrible person! Then I started taking acid and formed this band Jesus Freak. A few months later, another school talent show was coming up, so I had my drummer sign up under his name. The school didn't know I was in this band. As we're plugging in, behind the curtain, someone notices me.

"You can't go on. Specifically you. The other guys can go on." I said that my free speech rights were being violated!

Then this lady comes out onto the stage, she was head of the drama department or something and she's like [shrieking] "I call upon the senior class to come up and deal with this problem!"

And so every jock in school who wanted to kick my ass was invited to run up on stage and tackle, or detain or eject me or whatever. Dads in their 40's were coming up onstage chasing me. I'm sixteen years old, five feet tall. I was suddenly struggling with big dudes chasing me. I ran and hid in the woods. The cops were called and I was expelled. We never even played a song. Oh well... rabble rouser. So I had to go to this Baptist Christian boarding school, in the hills of Appalachia. I graduated high school, barely, and then I made the mistake of going back down there to bust a guitarist classmate out so we could start a band. That didn't go over well. I was 18, and he was a minor, so now I'm a "pedo" or something for trying to kidnap a high school kid. I was hiding out delivering pizzas in a college town called Blacksburg and the cops got involved, my car was surrounded as I drove up to work one day. There's a Tom T. Hall song called "A Week In A Country Jail" and I lived it.

So I had to get out of Virginia and decided my only option was a Greyhound bus for 100 bucks to San Francisco.

PSF: So when you got on the bus to San Francisco what was your relationship to your family like?

MM: Terrible! I was wearing nail polish, shaving my hair in chemo cuts or growing my hair long. If it had been today, maybe I'd have transitioned at 14, gone "non-binary" the whole bit (laughs).

My parents were just appalled. I didn't even tell them- I left, I just split. Had a couple of girlfriends drive me down and drop me off at the greyhound station at midnight and I went off the grid. My folks didn't know where I was for at least a few months. My Mom was bummed. Where was I? But we patched it up eventually. She even sent me some of my old records.

My brother was the good son. He was younger, into sports. I had no athletic prospects. I literally struck out at T ball. [laughs] So I got into writing and music. From Kiss to The Clash... it's a slippery slope from Aerosmith to Angry Samoans!


MM: When I first got to SF in January 1987, I stayed with Caroleen Beatty on her floor. She and her boyfriend Greg were also from Reston. We formed the Bedlam Rovers from a core of five of us that were refugees from Reston. Caroleen, (she was later in Waycross and EnOrchestra, both with Doug Hilsinger of Bomb), and Jeremy and his brother Andrew. The brothers were first generation Irish immigrants and had definite political insights from that. Greg and Jeremy had done a recent motorbike tour of England and gotten hip to this kind of late -80's folk punk scene that was happening over there... Not so much here in the States. There were these radical folk bands in the UK like We Free Kings, Blyth Power, the Levellers, the Waterboys... of course The Pogues. I'm sure I'm forgetting some.

PSF: It seems like over there punk turned to reggae and dub pretty quickly.

MM: It just splinters. Hardcore gets boring. So folk punk was a natural progression for some. Back to the roots. Like Chumbawamba did. Even PiL was playing it up with John Lydon's Irish roots. "May the road, rise with you..." There was kind of an Afro-Celtic thing going on with that mix.

Bedlam Rovers initially were kind of doing our version of what Flogging Molly did later, and the Pogues of course were a huge influence. Their records were fairly obscure import LP's over here at the time, but are now considered timeless classics. It was this freeing, new sound with flying fiddle and shredding on the mandolin. So we were the San Francisco branch of this spreading Irishy ivy. We did a repertoire of Celtic chestnuts like "The Parting Glass," "the Wild Rover" and "Star of The County Down," infused with a lot of reels, but also an AC/DC cover of "You Shook Me All Night Long" and "Wild Thing." We called our mandolin player Eddie Van Mandolin because he would play through all these effects pedals. We had a folk rhythm guitar player named Marco and we were very leftist, playing lots of benefits for organizations like Food Not Bombs and anti-nuclear causes. Some of these guys had gone down to Guatemala to work construction with the NGO's involved in indigenous communities struggling under dictators. They were involved with CISPES and the causes in Nicaragua.

Our first show was the ninth anniversary of Jonestown. So I decided to bring a big bucket of Kool Aid onstage. I didn't realize how horribly hurtful that might seem in San Francisco, where it had actually happened to people, real people's families. Young and insensitive! We played our first gig at this place on Market St. called The SF Music Works, later became Lucky 13.

So at our first show, a talent scout for Michael Bailey at the Fillmore was looking for somebody to open up for the Pogues. We were playing that night with Penelope Houston at Music Works, who would have been the logical headliner on that bill that night of our first show. She'd famously opened for the Sex Pistols final gig in '78 with the Avengers, but she had decided to do a "Hollywood Headliner." That's where you play early and let the less well-known band bat clean up. They decided we were the logical choice to open for The Pogues, and when the gig comes a few weeks later, Penelope's told she can play early, and do an acoustic set in the small upstairs dining room of the Fillmore. So she was playing her acoustic autoharp doing "Wild Mountain Thyme" or whatever and the Pogues' manager, this big, loud, burly, mean heavy metal manager, Frank Murray, who had previously managed Thin Lizzy... he just yells "Enough! The Pogues are eating! Keep it down!"

Meanwhile, we were downstairs doing our first big-time sound check, marveling at the Pogues road cases full of booze and ice for their personal onstage bartender, and we're like, "What...? They yelled at Penelope?"

I got the feeling Penelope was kinda pissed about that for years.

The Rovers started gigging Nov. 18, 1987, anniversary of Jonestown , and I was in it through mid-1989 and by that time, we did probably a couple hundred shows in a short span when "creative differences" or whatever reared their ugly head. I wasn't a particularly talented vocalist, but I had the fever and fire, and I think the more "mature" members of the band wanted to distance themselves from a redneck Shane MacGowan wannabe with delusions of rock star grandeur. Personally, I felt like the band suffered after I left because, first off, they lost their most persistent promoter who booked -em two hundred gigs in only 2 and a half years! But I'm sure their band meetings got slightly less contentious once they settled on one consistent songwriter and they didn't have to come up with a million reasons to turn down all the gigs I was constantly booking. It wasn't unusual for me to have to persuade 6 other people that 2 gigs booked on the same day is good, sometimes in different cities! "Hey guys, we're playing with Primus at 2pm in Cotati and then we're doing Starry Plough in Berkeley at 8pm..." or "yeah, so we'll also be doing the Whole Earth Festival Saturday in Davis," and I'd get an "uh, why?"

They got roasted by their former label head for the time he'd scored them a slot on a Rock The Vote tour of college towns sponsored by Rolling Stone & MTV...and the band turned it down, because they simply didn't believe in voting.

Bedlam Rovers ran it their way, reformulated and changed lineups over years. In general, they gradually de-Irished, got more serious, slowed tempos, sorta softened the overall sound, and they continued releasing albums and touring into the mid--90s. They swapped out violin players and drummers at least 3 times, and out of the original seven of us, I think only two, Greg and Caroleen, were still consistently in it at the very end. The drawback of a band being built around a couple is when their musical "marriage" kind of broke up on the road, that sort of sealed the fate of the group.

But even after I was uninvited to continue with the Bedlam Rovers as vocalist, I stayed in proximity. I was always around promoting gigs. I always had friend's bands to promote, so I would place bills at our Klub Komotion collective space mainly, partly because that had $1 beers and also had built-in recording facilities and that was a big attraction for some bands.


PSF: So when you chose San Francisco as your destination, what did that mean to you?

MM: I just wanted to get the Hell out of Virginia. The original plan was to go to Richmond, Virginia. It was the only bohemian town in Virginia. It was cheap to live, but just wasn't far enough away from my warrants.

GWAR was doing stuff in Richmond, they were called Death Piggy then. There were other great bands like Honor Role which Jeremy of the Bedlam Rovers had previously been a bassist in.

Shortly after arriving in San Francisco in early -87, I ran into Michael Dean in front of a liquor store while he was flyering for his new band Bomb. I first met Michael Dean, I figured it out the other day, forty years ago this week! I met him at this show, the Halloween Noise-a-thon, 1983, this was in an abandoned furniture store in downtown D.C.

The band No Trend was playing- they were like a Flipper of the East Coast. Really snide, caustic vocalist named Jeff Menges- he was a nice guy off stage, but when he was in his persona onstage, you wanted to avoid this man screeching "Too Many Humans! You breed like rats! and you're no better!" They had some great songs. It's not rock, it's not prog, just confrontational, weird music.

In DC, there was also this band 9353. They had this song "Famous Last Words" and the words were, "It's OK, it's not loaded. It's OK, I'm a good driver. Don't worry, honey." With this psychedelic loopy riff behind it, played by Jason Carmer on guitar. Carmer would go on to record Third Eye Blind, the Donnas, Chuck Prophet, he also mastered the farewell Bomb record. The singer's voice was kind of like Wall of Voodoo.

[Note: You can read a story on 9353 here]

I was never into straight, hardcore punk rock. Bands like 9353 , Bloody Mannequin Orchestra and Scratch Acid were gateway drugs that led me down this road of possibilities outside the punk box. Like Bomb!

One of the things about Michael, we really bonded doing the Bomb flyering in SF. We were maniacal about promotion and posters. Other bands would do like 100 and hit all the light poles on Haight street. We would do 1000 and hit every overpass, every underpass, every light pole in every district in town. And for wheat paste, we'd use our own special concoction- you couldn't peel these off.

We would get PET milk or Carnation, which is that sweetened condensed stuff in a can, and mix it with Burgie, this cheap-ass beer. We would put up posters that would still be up for years. A Bomb flyer from 1987 was still there in 1994. It had a lactose lacquered coating so bugs would be attracted to the protein & sugar in it. You would look closely and ants would be living in the wrinkles of these aging flyers.

PSF: Yeah I saw flyers for Bomb for years before I ever saw the band.

MM: It was propaganda. We had learned from the band 9353 who had a hookup at a Xerox store in DC and they would put up these giant posters, like three by five feet. Sometimes they wouldn't even have a date on them. They would use imagery from that book Wisconsin Death Trip. Bomb was similar, they got involved with this guy Richard Carse. His imagery was stickier than the gunk we used to put up the posters.

[NOTE: For more on Richard Carse see interviews with Jay Crawford and Michael Dean]

Boner Records recording artist Michael Dean

PSF: When you met Michael in SF was Bomb going strong?

MM: They hadn't put out To Elvis... In Hell yet. I think it was in the can, I was at the record release party for that. I moved to SF in -87 and I had to sneak into shows for the first like three years. The only places with regular all-ages shows were like The Farm or The Mabuhay. And it was expensive, especially if you were unemployable, it was like eight bucks! 21+ Bars were like three bucks, but I couldn't get in. My girlfriend would sneak me into even free and dollar gigs at the Kennel Club on Divis through the back door. I would occasionally go to the Gilman in Berkeley, or Berkeley Square was 18+ but then that required wheels, BART fare or getting stuck after midnight trying to catch AC Transit, so it was expensive, dangerous and inconvenient! The Farm closed in like -88. Lately, Farm vet Andy Pollack has organized a community space trying to replicate the vibe as The New Farm, out on Pier 96. They have the same kind of idea, stages with native plants, goats and chickens running around.

PSF: Did the skinheads take over The Farm?

MM: Not really. It was more about a landlord dispute. I only went there a couple of times. July 4, 1986 Bomb played The Farm opening for Flipper. Maybe their first show. That's the first one that has flyers. The earliest show I have a record of anyway. It was in the [San Francisco] Bay Guardian.

Anyway, so I moved to San Francisco and I ran into Michael Dean down on 16th and Valencia or something, and it was like "Dude, I met you in D.C. in 83!" I had his 45, he was in a band called Baby Opaque. And people were like, "You know Michael? He's got the best band." So I went down to the Hotel Utah to see Bomb. Tony Fag, the drummer was a baker at Just Desserts and he brought in all the day-old pies and there would be a sheet of acid. You'd get a hit of acid with your change at the door. So it would be like a $3 show and it would be fifty or a hundred people in a hot steamy room, tripping and crying and dancing, and then there'd be a big pie fight. We'd clean up while coming down, and leave there at dawn feeling like we were in a secret society. You were either there or you weren't. You were on the bus or you were off it.

PSF: What kind of mix of people? Rock and roll people, kinda metal, kinda punk?

MM: Well it was San Francisco in the late -80's. You had your artists, anarchists, dancers, deviants and sculptors and squatters. Around this time I used to do performance art with this guy Keith Hennessy from Contraband, a guerrilla dance troupe who would have all these hookups at these different art spaces around town like The Lab or Theater Artaud, some under the freeway etc.

The Chatterbox was also happening. There's a book, came out ten or fifteen years after they closed. The owner, Alfie, collected all the photos and the flyers and made a yearbook of that period. A lot of the people in it are dead. Some became bank robbers, or their livers gave out. You might find it on eBay. I talk to her now and then. She has a bunch of video on DVCam, this pro format, like a hundred tapes, but I don't have a deck to get the video off. And we're talking like the first late -80's era NOFX shows, etc. This weird junkie/tweaker guy that lived in the loft above the stage would film your band on VHS and when you were done he'd try to sell you the tape for twenty bucks. But we only made twenty-five...??

The Chatterbox yearbook. Get your copy on eBay or Thriftbooks today!; photo by Clinton Orman

She'd had Johnny Thunders come in shortly after she started it in 1986... "Chatterbox" was named after a NY Dolls song, you know. So he painted in sloppy letters, "Johnny Thunders Was Here" right over the stage.

Alfie had the Chatterbox for about 5 years, but a lady named Karen Carney turned into the Chameleon in 1990. Later, it was "Amnesia." Now it's "City Beer Store," a fancy beer tasting joint.

When 853 Valencia flipped and became the Chameleon, the new owner painted over the beam that Johnny Thunders signed. She said "It was ugly." Whatever! I don't even like Johnny Thunders that much, but damn, that was a piece of history. Do something with it! She painted over it. Maybe that's really punk!

I worked at The Chameleon for her for years, DJing, making flyers, doing sound for shows, manning the bar, and could tell you so many stories. Courtney Love strangled me there one time.

Before Chatterbox, 853 Valencia was called The Graffiti. They had a studio in the basement and they would broadcast live shows out to KUSF. SPOT 1019 would practice in the basement, later X-Tal, Jawbreaker and other bands. Before that in the late -70's, it was The Devil's Herd and it was the number one live country music spot, not only in San Francisco, but the whole SF Bay Area. It was a gay country bar with live music every night, a whole bunch of rotating house bands you never heard of, but they kept that dance floor going. The owner would put together buses and if Hank Snow or Ernest Tubb or somebody was coming to town, they would go to the show as a group so they would be safe in numbers, and they would show up en masse and the old country singers would salute them in the crowd because this was their town. The Devil's Herd!

There was a trend of urban, gay cowboy bars in the -70's South of Market and around town dedicated to that scene like the RoundUp, Rawhide II, and The Covered Wagon. The CW spot became a punk, metal, bike messenger hang out in the late -80's, mostly because there was an SRO hotel upstairs.

One day, Shirley, who ran the joint, is sitting there while her clientele is literally dying. This is peak AIDS. She sees this girl Liz walk in. Liz was probably 4 ft 11 but 300 tons of fun, part of the Tragic Mulatto and Fuckettes scene, and made crazy stuffed animal fur fashions that the Red Hot Chili Peppers wore. She now runs a Lucha Libre wrestling troupe in LA . So Shirley said "Hey, do you know any bands?" Shirley had asked the right person. Liz knew all the bands. Soon, they were booking Bad Religion, L7, Nirvana, RKL, GG Allin, Killdozer... I remember seeing Soundgarden performing that Cheech & Chong cover "Earache My Eye" there one New Year's Eve for like pennies- priceless! From -88-'90, Liz booked all the loudest crap onto the lousiest stage in town. She eventually left for Richmond, VA to become Gwar's manager. She booked Gwar when they came to SF and Dave Brockie was like, wow, this woman actually knows Jello Biafra! She could make me a star! So she started working for them those first few years, when Jesse Helms was talking about banning them, and they were getting on national TV via the Joan Rivers show etc.

Michael Dean and I were her flyer boys. We were so good at promoting our own bands, Liz hired us to flyer all hers. Liz was our first and favorite client. We'd get thirty bucks to put up flyers for the clubs' shows. Fifteen bucks each, woo hoo!

As time went on, I discovered Michael still wanted to split the money, but he was just sitting at home high. Him and his girlfriend Vickie would be at home watching Cheers on TV. I'd go and put up flyers and drop by his pad and give him half the money. Michael would lay there and get an idea for another silly money making scheme, where he wouldn't have to leave the house. He wanted to give guitar lessons, so we put up flyers saying "I will teach you to play punk rock guitar for five bucks," and some kid would come over with five bucks. One time this kid disputed the 3 chords to a song, so Michael got Ian MacKaye on the phone from DC, and interrupted his dinner or whatever... "Hey Ian, are the chords to -Straight Edge' E, A, & G ?" And Ian would be irritated but tell him what they were, and the kid wouldn't believe it was really Ian MacKaye from Fugazi on the phone. Ian never failed to pick up though!

PSF: So were Bedlam Rovers and Bomb like a little micro scene, or friendly bands?

MM: We were friends. Michael stayed at our house in the Castro for a while. Jeff Trott from Wire Train lived down below and I just remember he always complained about all the noise we made. He was busy writing the slick songs that would make Sheryl Crow famous a few years later. Michael lived in his van for a while out front but used our kitchen and bathroom. Our bands' music didn't go together that much, but we did play at least one show with them at SF Music Works. We enjoyed each other's company, and supported each other's endeavors. He would park his van in front of our house and come in with his electric typewriter and a huge jar of peanut butter. He'd plug in and lick peanut butter off of a knife and type his life story. We were like, uh, no one asked! He was barely twenty-five years old.

PSF: Have you ever read his novel? Or tried to?

MM: He would send me proofs of it. He once sent me this sex bondage book he put out with his girlfriend at the time, Master and Slave, how to train your love slave. I opened it and was like, "what the hell? Oh, Michael sent this." So I stuck it under some other books and of course my Mother-In-Law had to find it later.

PSF: Photographs?

MM: The cover is raw. It should be in a brown paper bag. I still have it somewhere. "It's nice you have a girlfriend Michael, but I don't need to see closeups of the insertion point." It burned my eyes. He is a wild card of a person.

I remember he was obsessed with my dad who is retired now. Back then he got paid six figures to watch sports all day and write about it. Michael was like, "what??" USA Today was ubiquitous, on every street corner in every city. I could go to a remote island in the Caribbean and USA Today would be there with my Dad's photo.

So when Michael was living in DC with the witches' coven or whatever, he convinced one of them, Maggie, to do a painting of my dad from the little by-line photo in the paper and blow it up to like 5x5 feet on canvas. And they had it wrapped in butcher paper and delivered to his office which he never went to. My dad, he was like the first remote worker. He would sit at home and watch Howard Cosell, Brent Musburger and whatever and then fax in critiques about it. So work calls and says he got a package and he goes and gets it, and it's this portrait of him and it says "Love, Michael." I've never gone by "Michael," by the way.

So my parents call me.
"Michael, that is so wonderful what you did." "What did I do?"
"It's so nice and your father is hanging it up."
"Hanging what up?"
"You father is so honored and grateful!"

Finally I go home a few months later and I see it. They had hung it in my childhood bedroom- it's this painting of my Dad with all these various sports balls hovering around his head. It's this garish thing, totally bizarre. When they found out years later that I didn't do it, they threw it out. That pissed me off- it was still an amazing thing. He had met Michael before and thought he was a horrible person, warned me to stay away from him. "No, dad, he's an interesting guy! He just got signed to Warner Brothers!"

PSF: So what's Michael's beef with Tony about? He's written so much about it online and I don't really get it, except for the Warner Brothers thing.

MM: I think Michael apparently has what I would call PTSD. Here it's been 35 years. That's a long frickin' time! When I first got to San Francisco, I remember it was the 20th anniversary of the Summer of Love. That couldn't have seemed more far away in time than "20 years ago." SF was known for the Jefferson Airplane, the Grateful Dead. These were faded memories to most. So now, here we are, looking back at the -80's and it's 2024. Michael's looking back at his life over three decades ago and Tony is solely responsible for introducing him to the dark side and he's Satan and all this. It's sad. These guys were in a band together on-and-off for a total of like five years! Maybe seven? They did some reunion shows in -99 if you want to count that, but basically between -93 and '99, they weren't in touch or anything. To say "Tony Fag owes us all money. He ruined everything." It was mutually assured destruction. It's amazing that any money ever came into it at all. A major label was willing to invest in that? It was the era of Jane's Addiction, Flaming Lips and Nirvana, and sketchy bands were getting signed.

PSF: Yeah, there was this narrow window where all these weirdo bands from local scenes could get in there. Then very quickly you get the bands that seem to be designed for MTV.

MM: Yeah, the Candleboxes and Nicklebacks. Bands that never played the clubs.

PSF: But wait... was Tony Fag just one more moody artiste, grouchy punk rock guy? Is he this scary guy like Michael tells it?

MM: I never felt threatened by Tony Fag. I wouldn't want to be his girlfriend, but I probably wouldn't want to be my girlfriend either. I don't even remember Tony being that large. He was strong, athletic. Powerful drummer. But just a guy you knew, not some boogeyman.

PSF: It occurs to me that only .0001 percent of the population has any idea who these people even are. We could be making all this up. I guess there's a million stories like this out there, a million grudges.


The Rolling Scabs was this band that Michael and I did with these kids. They were two boys who lived in our neighborhood in the Castro. Eleven, twelve years old, not even adolescents, prepubescent, doing stupid little pranks. They were just these little brats. My girlfriend would be taking a shower, and there would suddenly be a shadow over the skylight. She looks up and there's a little kid on the roof peeping down at her. One day, they were stealing everybody's newspapers, and they didn't know what to do with them and Michael said, "you should put them in tailpipes. We'll start with my van!" They were like, "Oh yeah, good idea!" We were helping them become juvenile delinquents! They would come up to us, "We wanna smoke pot with you guys!" and we were like "No fuckin' way kid, we're not going to jail for smoking weed with eleven-year olds." He said "My Mom smokes pot!" His Mom was a divorced lesbian hippie and his long-gone Dad was this effete, world-class sitar player who lived in Montecito. The kid was ignored basically.

So Michael was like "You should be in a band, kid. We'll call Tim Yohannan" who started Maximum Rock N' Roll, created the world's biggest punk zine and now was operating the only reliable all ages venue in the Bay Area. Michael had his number. "Hey Tim, you gotta talk to somebody."

(bratty voice) "I'm Giuliano and I want a gig!"

"What's your band called?"

He turns to us, "What's my band called?" We said, "I dunno, the Rolling Scabs." "The Rolling Scabs!" So we started doing shows at the Gilman, with me on guitar, Tony Fag on drums, these little kids screeching out these lyrics they'd made up on the way to the show... "My Mom smokes pot!"

PSF: I've heard it! On the WFMU blog.

MM: Oh yeah right! So then Bomb broke up on tour and Michael stayed in DC so we didn't have a bass player anymore. Tony came back so we still had him at least. My girlfriend recruited a bass player at the checkout line at Rainbow grocery. "You play bass? You're in the band!" I moved higher up the food chain into management, and we let this mental patient guy named Reiner Campbell, (R.I.P) play guitar. He would have been locked up in a strait jacket if he didn't take his lithium. Then years later, Sublime is referencing their lyrics. "I don't get angry cuz my Mom smokes pot." I was hanging out with those guys in Santa Cruz and they were like, "You know the Rolling Scabs?" I said, "I was IN the Rolling Scabs!" "No way!"

The Scabs got to open for Naked Raygun, Frightwig, The Dwarves... they even managed to get into a feud with the Yeastie Girlz who were feminists and thought that these little kids were sexist...nothing like Bay Area Punk Rock politics! Two twelve-year-olds banned from Gilman for being sexist.

I had never been around eleven and twelve-year-olds like that, urban kids who knew about AIDS, street hookers, crack, and everything that goes on in the hood.

PSF: I feel like cities were so much more dangerous back then too. So the guy really died in an elevator shaft?

MM: He did. His family had a big house in Connecticut. They wanted to get him off the streets of San Francisco, buying weed from the bums in Dolores Park and so on. So he moved out there and he's got some nieces and cousins, and they're saying "Come on Giuliano, we're going to go to church" or whatever. And he wanted to impress them by doing this stunt that he had learned, climbing out of a rickety old elevator and "elevator surfing" in the shaft, and he slipped and snapped his neck, doing a trick that he had done successfully before. Apparently, they kept him in a coma for his mother to arrive from the West Coast, and she told him he could " let go" and then he just shut down. He was fifteen going on sixteen I think. He was starting to grow up- that's why they yanked him out of the neighborhood. We would book shows but he couldn't do -em anymore because he was always grounded. We put the record out in '91, from 1988 Gilman board tapes after he died. That's what you hear on WFMU.



Check out the rest of PERFECT SOUND FOREVER