The infamous REVOLTiNG COCKS 1990 tour: to this day Jason Pettigrew of the Alternative Press Magazine still gets asked how he survived it. Find out why by reading the daily installments of his tour diary.
REVOLTiNG COCKS *
* PART ONE *
WELCOME TO THE "GET GENERATiON"; GET GOiNG, GET A CAB, GET DRUNK, GET HiGH, GET ON THE PHONE, GET TRiM, GET PAID, GET DOWN, GET A PLANE, GET ON THE BUS, GET ME ON THE GUEST LiST, GET ARRESTED, GET ME BACKSTAGE, GET OUT OF MY WAY, GET LOST, GET SOME POiNTS, GET SOME SLEEP, GET AROUND, GET AROUND, i GET AROUND... BY JASON PETTiGREW
"Did you know that Al has a new name for you?" inquired Patty Jourgensen the day before my flight to Chicago to go on tour with another one of her husband Al's manifestations of madness, the REVOLTiNG COCKS. "He calls you Jason Petrified."
Well, what am I supposed to think? Past press metaphors for REVCO tours include morsels such as "the entire Vietnam war in three weeks," and "a fraternity house on acid." So what am I supposed to do - bring a covered dish? Having legendary PMRC hemorrhage-inducers in THE MENTORS and Austin's young, wise-assed SKATENiGS along sure as hell won't get me on the A-list at David Sprague's friends' parties.
There's a lot to be said about going on tour, and not all of it is evil. You get to see the country in a mesmerizing kind of way, even if it is in a coach bunk or a cramped van that blows tires frequently. You can meet some formidable people in between the larger amount of human poop stains on the great underwear of Earth. The major irritant of touring is that you are constantly surrounded by the same people daily, and when tempers fray it is easy to envision bull's-eyes on the backs of heads. The reciprocal of this is that when someone attacks from the outside, the unit is tighter than a clenched fist around polished brass knuckles.
Keep in mind that this is not a great rock-and-roll swindle - or, for that matter, SPiNAL TAP. I do seriously believe that had legendary blues master Robert Johnson been on this tour, he would still be alive. Why? First, the COCKS would've had him drinking so much that Bob would've inevitably puked up the poison allegedly given to him by that jealous husband. The band would then find the sneaky murderer and leave him lying in a pool of vomit, blood, piss and Barfo candy. And Johnson would still be diddling the guy's wife on the tour bus. I seriously doubt he could have done it all on the Ritual De Lo Habitual tour.
CHiCAGO? i THOUGHT YOU MEANT CHEYENNE!
Cast and crew are assembled to Jourgensen World HQ at 6 a.m. for deployment to St. Louis. Everybody is ready to go; COCKS, crew and SKATENiGS are sitting on the lawn with all the equipment. It looks like they are camping out for METALLiCA ticket sales - bottles, cigarette cartons and doughnut boxes litter the postage-stamp-sized lawn. With each pull off a bottle or draw off a smoke comes the inevitable question: Where is the friggin' bus?
The answer is Nashville. At this time (10:30 A.M.) there is no way load-in and sound check can both be accommodated. Patty makes the phone calls and the cancellation/re-scheduling commences. Back to bed, you guys.
Earlier a COCK was overheard saying THE MENTORS would never show, dismissing them as losers. It turns out THE MENTORS did show up in Missouri after all - drunk, belligerent and demanding to play. The cancellation forces them to shelve the recording of their proposed triple live album, "Eat Me In St. Louis".
HOME iS WHERE THE DRUDGE iS
Not a good day at all. The Chicago gig at the 3000-plus-capacity Riviera Nightclub is to be the opener on the tour, and given everybody's frame of mind, the whole thing might as well go down the toilet.
Tour manager Richard Tomcala has mysteriously disappeared from the venue, leaving stage manager Alex Field, technician Sean Joyce, sound wizard Lee Popa, guitar tech and part-time rhythm guitarist Mark Durante and monitor man Jeff "Critter" Newell to do everything. Which includes getting cabs in which to load the gear. Talk about all-stressed-out-and-no-one-to-choke. When Tomcala arrives on the premises later, he gets a severe vocal bludgeoning followed by immediate silent treatment. And let's not discuss "sound check."
It's not too bad for me, as I meet up with my old friend and soul mate Greyson, with her pal Elaine. Unfortunately, we don't spend too much time together because, hey, I got a job to do.
The SKATENiGS open up the evening with their brand of hard rock, rap, funk, etc. to overwhelming audience approval. Lead singer Phildo pulls out a strap-on plastic phallus that squirts styling mousse all over his chest and the front row. Guitarist Billy looks fetching in his wedding dress as well. The 'NiGS play every night like it was their last night. Their future looks good.
Let's say THE MENTORS are uh... loose. Not everybody was ready for their locker-room epiphanies, and they earned their share of projectiles. Lead singer/drummer Il Ducé makes a peace offering by announcing that he's going to give away a copy of their new tape. As he tosses it out into the throng, Greyson makes an astute observation: "They should throw it back at him."
In keeping with the Caligula-down-on-the-farm look, the COCKS have implemented togas and other sartorial garb. Paul Barker plays the pyramid-building slave; Chris Connelly sports ruby-red curtains and olive leaves; Michael Balch offsets his ensemble with red fishnet stockings; and, never to be outdone, Al complements his toga and stetson with an actual working intravenous tree plugged directly into his arm by Critter's hospital-orderly roommate. (Jeff Ward's wardrobe was undetectable under drum hardware).
Too bad the gig was crap. The samples at the beginning of "Physical" decide to pack up, leaving Ward to play the opening bit a few more measures than usual. "Union Carbide" is merely a blur, its characteristic sample and loop elements indistinguishable. Tonight the band were upstaged by their dancers, particularly the woozy Kim (who does her thing in black undergarments and long rubber gloves), as well as some pink-haired trollop that gave Michael Balch a hand-job under his Fairlight ("She has a good reach. I suggested that she play basketball," says Balch later). Al prefaces "Public Image" with an imitation of the THRiLL KiLL KULT's Frankie that is so dead-on, I want to run and hide. Ward's father later summed it up best: "It was okay once you tried playing some music."
WHAT'S THE NAME OF THAT KiSS SONG?
Seven A.M. and still no coach. Determined not to cancel any more dates, the crew loads up Patty's van with gear while Patty rents two more to move those COCKS to Detroit. Patty enlists the driving talents of cuddly teen heartthrobs from Chicago's women's-rights advocates RiGHTS OF THE ACCUSED, Wes Kidd and Brian St. Clair. Al offers to fly Paul and myself to the gig (Northwestern Airlines to Detroit flies two people for less than a hundred).
St. Andrews Hall in Detroit looks like a Catholic Youth Organization dining hall. Fill it full of REVCO ravers and it turns out to be one of the tour's more rabid nights. I am beginning to see the social significance of KiSS' "Detroit Rock City."
Today's highlights include some little geek in a beret asking Al at a restaurant to "go really crazy tonight, maaan!," along with two teens who swarmed on Al with instamatics poised while gushing a hole to the ozone layer. Caroline, the band's merchandiser invites the girls to "suck his dick," so all of you politically correct folks should call her sexist.
Detroit is nuts. Besides some psycho with two-inch spikes on his leather jacket (later tossed out by the base of his EXPLOiTED butt plug) there's another guy in the balcony throwing cat's eye marbles, one of which had the name "Michael Balch" on it. Some interesting dancers, as well; a knockout pro named Leslie Gala, and two of my favorites, Colleen M. and Lisa L., who could make serious bucks doing photo sessions for ladies foundations in Sears catalogs. Their onstage gyrations will be the only good memory I will keep whenever I hear the COCKS' most substandard cut, "Something Wonderful." Such cruelty to black lace supportive undergarments.
In addition to these young women, somebody has convinced there undernourished male bonebags to strut their stuff wearing only a sock and a smile à la RED HOT CHiLi PEPPERS. Hey, nobody is holding a gun to these peoples' heads to do this stuff, and nobody's forcing me to laugh at it.
Along with Balch's pleading with Gala ("Come to Cleveland, we'll be happy forever."), the gals hanging all over Chris, Al's getting caught in a saliva downpour, and Barker doing some uncharacteristic stage dives, a real nice fight transpires between a hall security fascist and an angry punk. The punk is so steamed that when Detroit police try to intervene, he vaults over their heads and pops the security guy. I should have gotten his name for a complementary subscription.
Two hours later, the crew is en route to Cleveland while the rest of us wait for Al's friend Steve to "fill a prescription". (Steve will follow us for the entire tour chauffeuring, gofering and even playing onstage a couple times.) While we wait for departure in front of the hall, our driver Wes suddenly yells, "ALL RIGHT!"
The last people to leave the place are the socked ones. It seems that one of them kicked back too much to drink, and coupled with his diabetes, it wasn't letting him go anywhere without a triple insulin burger. The other two guys are carrying him out in a messianic position while they bitch to each other about letting him drink so much in the car before the show.
I feel bad for the kid. Wes, on the other hand, leads the crowd of after-show stragglers in a chant of "PAR-TY GOD! PAR-TY GOD!" All this, and the gig wasn't bad, either. We get into the van and drive off. Wes makes several wrong turns and politely deadpans, "Well, see ya later Detroit. You stinking sack of fucking shit."
WAGON TRAiN iN CLEVELAND, PUT THE DANCERS iN A CiRCLE
Finally in Cleveland. Brian's van is threatening to quit. So are some crew members. Alex isn't into the REVCO thang of dancers and stage divers, and Lee isn't too pleased with vans with melting engines. This may never be resolved. (Some COCKS vow to quit if there is no bus in Cleveland. Sure.)
Meet up with Mike Shea, Joe Banks and Diskus Headworms at A.P. They take us out for dinner to a dodgy Mexican restaurant with no name on the front. Headworms is still pissed about his alley-puking ending up in the new MiNiSTRY home video. I tell him to get a life and forget it. He says something to me about my mother and oral sex, and Al throws a lit cigarette at him. He leaves and blows off the gig.
The gig at Empire turns out to set the COCKS' record for the number of people onstage at one time searching for a clue: 28. This is not Alex's idea of production protocol. There is some drunk guy yelling, "Play some music, you faggots!" while trying to get onstage. (Shea tells me he's at all the shows.) Alex blows a gasket and threatens the man with death.
In addition to deflecting foreign objects and some cheap Vegas floor-show motifs, the dancers have another purpose: camouflage. Al and Paul walk offstage for two-and-a-half tunes, and nobody notices. Although I put Lisa and Colleen on the guest list to insure aesthetics, somebody lets this frumpy "girl" onstage with blue hair, ’50s glasses and on overbite you can sled-ride down, wearing nothing more than a REVCO shirt that she keeps pulling up above her panties. You know that feeling you get when you hiccup and you almost vomit but it reaches halfway up and then slides back down?
Trent Reznor joins the band for a couple numbers, including TVT President Steve Gottlieb's favorite BLACK SABBATH cover, "Supernaut." He's nailed his headlining tour up only three days before, and he's going back out with us. Sickness taking over …
A.P. has four cases of beer sent back to the hotel after the show. Various hangers-on, A.P. folks, 'NiGS and COCKS cram into Al and Michael's room. I am highly unamused by Kristof, the SKATENiGS' driver, trying to pick up my friend Morticia, although in hindsight, I would have been better off. As Morticia and I leave the room, Connelly is calling me "a very naughty boy," and Al is chanting in a drunken stupor, "Where are my points?"
WHY KiLL TiME WHEN YOU CAN KiLL YOURSELF?
We are supposed to be en route to Boston. Alex and Lee have both decided they want out. Lee's resignation is due to burn out; he left an extensive 24-7 SPYZ tour to do REVCO. He needs some sleep. Alex on the other hand has never worked under the auspices of bedlam, and can't go with the flow. None of this matters to Al and Michael who have left in Steve's car with one of Michael's conquests in tow.
I'm kind of toasted myself, considering I had to play guidance counselor to Morticia's whining about her college curriculum choices all evening. There's nothing left to do but hit the bar.
Six hours later and we get a call from Al somewhere on the road. He claims he's at a 7-11 in West Mifflin, Pennsylvania, where none of the inhabitants have any thumbs. He's tripping quite nicely, thank you, and he's going on about how some woman came in the store explaining to the clerk how to cook a kitten. ("I tried to trade Michael's girlfriend for a tank of gas but the guy at the store wouldn't go for it.")
Al finally gives Alex and Lee his blessings. Reznor saves the day by recruiting Fritz, the monitor man from DC's 9:30 Club that Trent stole for the last NIN tour. Critter will take over Lee's job behind the mixing desk and Sean gets all of Alex's headaches. (Sean approves: "It's a punk-rock tour, fuck yeah!")
It's 11:00 p.m. and we're finally leaving, just as soon as Wes hurls some invective about Cleveland. What a guy! Three hours later Brian's van breaks down in Soft Stool, PA. We transfer bodies and gear into the two remaining vans and move on. Wes takes this opportunity to inflict pain on Chris, Mark, and me in the form of a classic-rock radio station playing Kansas. Connelly looks up from his Henry Rollins book and says, "Hmm, 'Dust In The Wind'? That sounds like the kind of lyrics CONTROLLED BLEEDiNG write…"
JOURGENSEN: "MiNiSTRY take things far more seriously than the COCKS. The COCKS are, as I have stated before, a roving party direct to vinyl, and at a party you don't have one subject that's talked about. You have a person in the corner with a lamp shade on his head doing the limbo. You have another person sipping martinis discussing the Iraqui invasion. Then you have another person talking about Tupperware. That is the REVOLTiNG COCKS. Whether it is good, bad or whatever, we are reality in that sense."
CONNELLY: "MiNiSTRY is a lot darker than the COCKS, as well as being more politically oriented. To a lot of people, the music sounds a lot alike because all our brains are involved. To me the musics are still separate, the COCKS being more danceable than MiNiSTRY. There's a COCKS sound and a MiNiSTRY sound and never the twain shall meet."
BARKER: "The difference? C'mon Jason, it's a black-and-white issue. I've heard this question every fuckin' night. Professional studios demand a professional attitude and a professional situation. When we work as the COCKS, it's more of a party on wheels than anything else. Because of our relationship with Trax Studio we can get away with Smart Bar coming over after it closes and moving it to another site. They supply the beer. It's much more collaborative within the COCKS. Al and I don't need to be around to get stuff done. We don't have to babysit a project."
WARD: "With MiNiSTRY there is a lot more emphasis on the perfection of the shows at all times. Everybody is a lot more laid-back on this tour. Even the way we reacted to the way we practiced before the tour and how we were going to get things down - after two shows, I had it down immediately."
BALCH: "With MiNiSTRY, Al is the center focal point of the entire operation - it's his whims that are catered to and his ideas that come across and ultimately his say. With COCKS, it's more like a pirate ship on the road. Whatever can be made out of whatever situation is what happens. A MiNiSTRY tour is high stress, high production and generally a headache. With COCKS, it's a three-week vacation."
iT'S LiKE i NEVER WAKE UP
Due to the appearance of some gay and lesbian literature in the foyer of Cambridge's Man Ray club, Il Ducé surmises that this is, in fact, a "fag bar".
"Hey Boston!" snarls the Dooch. "Why did they bury Rock Hudson face down? So his friends could stop in for a cold one!" All we need is Yello's Dieter Meyer to come in and say, "Chickachickahh."
Reznor and Fritz the monitor man think that getting me destroyed on Cuervo and beer chasers will make for a good story. A reporter from Boston Rock sticks a tape recorder in Trent's face and starts asking questions like "What was it like touring with Peter Murphy?"
Trent starts discussing Murphy's fellatio technique and expects me to join in on the discussion. ("Gee Trent, he always uses too much hand on me.") Like we'd solicit such things from Ziggy Lugosi.
The gig is madness and I remember only three things: a) stumbling onstage to yell "PHYSICAL!" and "BODY TALK!" at the correct times; b) trying to stick my tongue down a prominent Boston scene person's throat (not the guy from Boston Rock); and c) Wes emptying a beer bottle, filling it with urine, baptizing the audience with its contents and then leaving it on the bar unattended. Wonder if there were any thirsty Kennedy's in the house tonight?
OVERRATED! OVEREXPOSED! OVERKiLL! WELCOME TO NEW YORK
Tomcala gets us all up at 8:15 a.m. for the drive to NYC. Ward and I stagger around the van and do our best Chip and Dale impressions ("No, after you. No, really, after you. No, please, after you.") because we're too hung over to demand full ownership of the front seat.
Meet with former A.P. office manager, Laura Norden, who fills me in on the fact that her pal Morticia feels smothered by me and that she's hung up on a RAMONES staff member she hosed down while I was in Times Square playing Uno with transients. [See Wiretapping Issue 32] God, I hate New York. I take heart that Al is wearing his A.P. t-shirt at all major photo shoots today.
Despite the light turnout, the bands burn tonight. Critter has the sound down perfect and Fritz has found out the secret to Al's monitor adjustment hand gestures ("I just ignore him.") As far as tightness goes, the COCKS rule. On the gross side, Il Ducé comes out at the set's end, pulls out his penis and attempts to wank off into a beer can. He then throws the can over his shoulder into the audience. I have never seen a space open up so quickly on a club floor.
After the show, William Tucker (of the SCORNFLAKES) holds a REVCO party at Pyramid. Unfortunately, we get there too early (a rare event in NYC, I gather) and the management won't let us inside because of a "girl bar" night. This pisses off Al so he goes to another bar and runs up a tab on Wax Trax prez Jim Nash's American Express account. It's tough to be a pop star.
Oh yeah, we finally get our bus.
I end up doing laundry in Fayetteville, NC, while everybody else goes to a shopping mall. Oh, the sophisticated life of a pop music journalist. If I eat one more Hostess cupcake I swear to God I'm gonna find an Uzi to fire in the hotel lobby.
Today's interesting anecdote concerns later in the evening when some distressed hotel patrons warn Fritz that there's a bunch of crazies in the bar and if he fears for his life he shouldn't go inside. That's right, folks; they're talking about his employers.
SEAN JOYCE: "The first night I fell into the too-much-worrying thing of everything getting off to a bad start. As soon as we were in Cleveland, I thought, 'Fuck it, I'm ready to punk out.' On the REVCO tour everyone is equal - that's why we get paid the same. If we fucked up our jobs there would be problems, but that's cool because Al gives a certain amount of freedom.
"The reality of Lee leaving was that he just finished the 24-7 SPYZ tour and he had been out practically all year with bands. He just burnt out. Alex on the other hand has no experience with anything of a punk-rock nature, from his musical tastes to his working procedure. What we talked about for three-and-a-half hours in Cleveland was that he wanted to run this tour like a Bruce Springsteen tour. All he kept saying was 'I've done Springsteen! I've done Madonna!' and all he did was babble about all these big rock gigs that he had done. Come on, man, you can't compare Springsteen to REVCO!"
MARK DURANTE: "When I started, everybody told me that the COCKS tour was going to be so much easier than the MiNiSTRY tour - real casual, no big deal. But when we started I found out it was just as stressful.
"Well, you would have thought Lee and Alex would have known what it was going to be like. I'm sure they expected crazy stuff but maybe it was just beyond their expectations. Being in the crew means that your day starts at noon and ends at three in the morning. It's not exactly fun and games. I played on three or four songs a night myself and I can tell you honestly that that was the easiest part of the night!"
WE JUST WANTED TO GET DOWN
Melbourne, Florida's Power Station club is located in a shopping plaza which beats the hell out of any NYC hot spots in terms of pure decorum. Extra points are given for proximity to discount liquor stores. The catering is easily the finest the tour will ever experience, thanks to the brilliant Kimberly King (a.k.a. Pandora from WFIT). Also, this evening will be a 30-minute set by Orlando's very own S&M power metal combo, GENiTORTURERS, led by the iLSA SHE WOLF OF THE S.S. - demeanored lead singer Gen.
The evening's ambiance is set by THE MENTORS. Il Ducé drinks so much that he can't play. One of their roadies pulls Ducé from behind the drums and out in front. Duce tries to pull off Dr. Heathen Scum's hood, so immediately the roadies tackle him and he passes out onstage while guitarist Sickie Wifebeater play's Jeff Beck's "Freeway Jam." Another roadie sits on Ducé and sings the rest of the set himself. Amazing.
Tonight is the absolute pinnacle of debauchery and drug use. The COCKS take the stage after consuming large quantities of the official REVCO sports punch (cranberry juice and Absolute Vodka) as well as some Irish whiskey, liquid LSD, ecstasy, and perhaps some "vein candy." Surprisingly enough, it doesn't sound bad.
"I want some more vodka, goddammit!" dictates Dr. J as Fritz sets off the smoke machine right on the spot where Sean is crouching. Chris, Trent, Phildo and Paul take turns stage diving so often that they should be paying for the privilege. Ward plays with some girl on his lap and then replaces himself with the GENiTORTURERS' drummer who probably never even heard "Stainless Steel Providers", let alone played the parts. Somebody calls Al a "revolting cock sucker," and Al returns the favor by patting him on the head and throwing a lit cigarette at him. Paul tries to pull Chris' shorts down in the middle of "Attack Ships". Add to this madness constant stage diving and gobbing plus an extra added bonus; Al's parents are in the audience with his teenage brother. At least he got his vodka.
Just before the band stumbles out for encores, a revived Ducé comes out to do a stand-up act. "How do you get MOTLEY CRüE on a bar stool? Turn it upside down!" In a more tense moment he looks at an African-American bouncer and asks, "What's long and hard on a black man? Third grade!"
To diffuse a volatile situation, SKATENiGS' bassist Lance, who is black, gives the Dooch a hug. The security guard walks towards Ducé stops and stares. Ducé looks at him sheepishly and offers his hand for a shake. The security guard laughs and pats him on the head like he would a small dumb child that doesn't know any better.
Reznor insists on bathing the crowd with Corona which leaves a good portion of the equipment covered in foam. At the set's end, Chris proudly tells the audience, "Goodbye. We're going to have sex; you have nothing. Bye, you bastards."
Jourgensen has to be carried offstage and into the coach. The rest of the band stumble around like walking wounded. I have an appointment to keep with my older brother who lives in Melbourne. I leave while Tomcala is explaining to Al's family that it really wouldn't be a good idea to go on the bus right now. ("Well, you see, this was a difficult show for him, Mrs. Jourgensen, and in this business there are many different ways to deal with stress. Plus, you must take into consideration that a band with a name like 'REVOLTiNG COCKS' isn't going to be conventional in a lot of aspects..."). Perhaps Richard should run for an office. I suggest mayor of Broward County.
HELL iS NOT A GAME YOU PLAY; iT iS A PLACE
If Melbourne is the Pleasuredome, then without a doubt, Orlando is the Gulag. Police around the bus, backstage, in the front of the theater and in the theater foyer. I checked the concession stand for doughnuts to no avail.
The evening's immediate tone is apparent over the course of a twenty-second conversation with Jourgensen and one of Orlando's fine defenders of the city.
"I really don't expect any problems, sir. It's just people out to have a good time and have fun."
"Hmmmmm, that's too bad. I was kinda looking forward to hurting somebody."
The local climate of repression and censorship warrants a wary offense. The normally brusque MENTORS cover up their 'porno drums' (centerfolds and other shots of nude women) with Florida dailies. Phildoe of SKATENiGS keeps his mousse tool in the van. Dancers are solicited only for the encores. Surprisingly enough, the GENiTORTURERS' set comes off uninterrupted.
A very temperate REVCO are playing this evening. Half-way through the opening "Beers, Steers And Queers," the power goes out. The band is immediately rankled and paranoia kicks in with Al and Phildoe immediately attacking censorship over the mikes. A few minutes later a house technician finds the problem, but the band can't use the smoke machine due to power shortages. The show carries on with Al telling the crowd again that the political climate will affect their ability to buy the records they want and bands will avoid Florida on future tours (a notion that Al is willing to entertain).
After the show, some kid corners Jourgensen about shop talk and technical info and Al immediately pleads with the kid to work toward fighting the censorship problem. "Okay, promise me you are going to do something," Al asks. The kid and his entourage promise and Al thanks them, shakes hands and goes back to the hotel.
This particular moment is interesting, Al Jourgensen may be the king of all hard-line party animals. And his attitude reeks of bad-assed braggadocio that he can do it all and still wake up tomorrow. He obviously has the charisma and the ability to communicate. Why he chooses to ignore it for drugs and alcohol is absolutely unfathomable. He's smart enough to realize that there are people out there that will piss themselves with laughter reading his obituary, praying for the sooner the better. He's more important alive than some cartoon Jim Morrison anti-hero.
The perfect end to a shit day involves the house security force comprised of local college jar heads (who can look forward to testicular cancer due to steroid abuse) impounding the gear until they get a cut of the t-shirt revenues. This is kind of unusual considering the promoter picked up that money close to thirty minutes prior. It doesn't take me half an hour to count less than a grand.
Sean tries to calmly discuss his point of view with guys named Kyle, Biff and Rex but, hey Sean, never teach a pig to sing. You waste your time and annoy the pig. After twenty minutes of frat-boy hooligan humor ("Hey, how many people does it take to tip a bus? Let's go find out!"), the corpulent Izod model security chief with the important headset/microphone radio transmitter gives us the go ahead.
I grab some guitars and head for the bus with the rest of the guys bearing gear and I wonder if Castro would really want this place. "Bay Of Jarheads" has an awfully clunky ring to it.
WARD: "It depends on the individual. I'll be the first to admit that there is a sense of camaraderie and Al is a great comrade. So the drugs go along with it. Other times you draw your own line for your own tolerance and your own sanity."
BALCH: "It's a rolling party and if you don't have the appropriate elements to combine for that party to happen it's going to turn into work. REVCO's an outlet for the less serious side. In the words of Viv Savage, 'Have a good time all the time.'"
BARKER: "I don't know what the perception is of the band. I know Al likes to propagate the over-the-top image - excessiveness in every way, shape or form as a, without speaking French, reason of living. That is his personal thing. I'm not really interested in it. I know we can do a show completely straight; I did it many times on tour. Believe it or not."
CONNELLY: "I might take drugs once a month. What pisses me off is that down in Texas someone said I was drugged out. Excuse me? I hate people making presumptions - that makes me sick. I'm not interested in doing drugs on tour because I feel they would mar my performance. The reputation of REVCO is rowdies, sure but it doesn't necessarily mean drugs and alcohol. We're just scalliwags."
JOURGENSEN: "I can tell you quite confidently that the people who do do drugs in the COCKS are drug users not abusers. The big difference that all these fucking 1-900-HELP lines should understand is that because you do a drug you are not a piece of shit. I think that you can use drugs in a positive situation. It's like walking across a fence for 40 yards. It's a tricky situation and it's difficult to do. I am not encouraging anyone to do drugs and I am not encouraging anyone not to do drugs.
"I don't abuse drugs whatsoever. I strongly feel that or I wouldn't do it because at the slightest sign of me abusing anything, I stop.
"People ask me how I can work with Ian Mackaye, the king of straight edge. And man, I respect the fact that he can do it without it, but to me, drugs or no drugs, it's like a vehicle for getting to where you want to go. Maybe Ian has his own car, and I don't - I have to take a taxi. By the time we're done, we're both at the same destination.
"Over the years, I have done maybe two shows where drugs and alcohol have not been used whatsoever. I have a real bad distaste for the carnival atmosphere and idolatry scenario. I feel very uncomfortable within a live format and I think the only way I can alleviate my uncomfortableness and my nervousness is to, let's face it, get fucking hammered.
"You know the kind of idolatry that goes on, and you know how that thing makes me uncomfortable. The kind of worship that goes on is absolutely fleeting because the people that sit up in the front row will be up front for the next show. And the next show. And the next show. This is not a generalization of the front row. I look into these peoples' eyes and all I see is, 'Lead me somewhere, I will follow, whether it be over a cliff, into a missile silo, or to church.' That scares me and to be completely honest with you I am scared when I go onstage and I need the reinforcement of liquid courage or whatever. It's not something I'm proud of, it's something I need to do."
YOU ALWAYS HURT THE ONE YOU LOVE
A day off for relaxation (relaxing on a COCKS tour? Isn't that like enjoying a job in retail?). Today we are stopping at a place known for its temperance and upstanding life style. That's right, we're in New Orleans.
What more could you want in a city? Great blackened shrimp, $3 Hurricanes at Pat O'Brien's and an adult bookstore that sells whip-its. A beautiful redhead with a perfect figure stands in the doorway of one of N'awrlens seedy clubs. As Jeff tips his hat to her, she pulls up her skirt and we are facing one of the best drag queens in the city. We both laugh and applaud, and call attention to Jeff's REVOLTiNG COCKS t-shirt. She/he/it approves by blowing a kiss.
Most of us are at Pat O'Brien's drinking very large hurricanes and doing whip-its. Caroline, Trent and I saunter back down to the bookstore to buy more frosting propellants, stopping off in a park to er…uh…check said products for "quality control."
Forty-five minutes later, we find our way back to the bar and I'm distressed that someone has finished my drink. I tactfully inquire, "Which one of you pussies finished my drink?"
"Hey, fuck you, man. I'll beat the fucking shit out of you," slurs Al with his fists curled around my lapels. "I can and will fucking kill you."
"Oooo…big drunk guy!" I taunt Al. Immediately Jeff comes in to cool the situation.
"Al, come on, it's Jason. Be cool."
"Aaaaah," he grumbles while putting a claw hold on my face. "You're the pussy." He pushes me away and walks out.
Now seems like a good time to separate. The real winners of the evening were Fritz and myself. We returned something like 27 glasses to the bar and got back the deposits and split them up between ourselves.
Later on, New Orleans concert promoter Rob Rioux says, "I'm trying to get you gigs!"
"Oh," deadpans the Alien with eleven hurricanes in his bloodstream. "I guess you're okay then."
TEXAS iS, iN FACT, THE PLACE
The Institute in Dallas looks like one-third Fellini set, one-third Picasso painting and the remaining third Pee Wee's Playhouse. Lots of twisted sculpture and slapdash paint jobs.
Tonight, the COCKS will be joined onstage by Mike Scaccia from RiGOR MORTiS, known for his lead guitar slot on the last MiNiSTRY tour. Also with him is RM's bassist Casey, whose internal combinations of whiskey and acid are a bit scary for me to consider.
On the lighter side, the promoter's name happens to be Jimmy Page. Il Ducè is explaining to his Cleveland girlfriend (we're getting the Polaroids, be patient) that he's brought along that she's going to meet Jimmy Page, as in Led Zeppelin.
"Wow, Dooch! I can't wait!"
"Yeah, honey. We'll meet Jimmy Page," testifies the big bald belly. "He's got a mustache and he's dyed his hair blonde, but he's still Jimmy Page."
"That's great!," chirps Mrs. Ducè who has been making clothes out of hotel bed sheets for her wardrobe since Cleveland (hey, no time to pack). She looks at him demurely and says, "It's cool, but he doesn't hold a candle to you, Dooch."
I meet a beautiful woman with a walking stick who looks like she'd rather be having a root canal. I ask her what's wrong and she puts up a real tough guard after looking down at my laminate. (It might get you discounts in record stores but it's a scarlet letter to some women). After I convince her that I'm not trying to get into her pants, she finally lightens up. Her name is Marci and she's just as cynical and jaded as me, only a bit more practical. If I lived there, she'd be my little sister. She tells me that every time she goes to see a Wax Trax band, she gets annoyed. And if that isn't a perfect segue into the gig summary…
Dallas is totally insane. I guess it's true that no matter how extreme it is up north, you can double it down here. If they spit in New York, they'll choke up snot the size of your fist here. You can stage dive in Cleveland, but down here one of these severe-haircut guys will get on top of the highest PA cabinet, pull down his pats, wiggle his pinwheel and swan dive into the crowd. (Nine out of ten doctors agree there is no way this can NOT hurt)
Just as the band whip everyone up into a feeding frenzy, the power goes out. And it stays out for about fifteen minutes. After five minutes, I go backstage and see what's transpired.
The first thing I see is Scaccia on a chair all zoned out with a joint in one hand and a beer in the other and God knows what inside. "Fuuuuuuuuck…", he drawls.
Al's flying high again so as a consolation prize he drags over a huge garbage can filled with beers and ice and starts tossing them out to the crowd. Five minutes later, the power is restored.
Scaccia comes out to play "Supernaut". And he plays it perfectly. There is no good, logical explanation for this, given his backstage condition minutes ago. Reznor is biting and caustic in his performance and Scaccia nails the song down instantly. I am so floored that Marci asks me if I'm okay.
At the shows end, the band goes out into the parking lot for cooling off, photo op's and, check this out, autographs. Anybody who knows Jourgensen knows how he vehemently despises that kind of thing. And now he's signing them. Well, not as "Al Jourgensen," but "Buck Satan, 666" and on the "Physical" single he circles one of the cowboy faces and writes, "ME!"
Some drunken little dweeb tries to shake the bobcat skulls off of Al's cowboy hat and Al does a repeat performance of the New Orleans incident. Besides being a solid drummer, Ward is also a damn fine mediator. My only regret is that I never meet Jimmy Page.
CAN'T SiT STiLL
I'm really enjoying my trek through Houston, Texas. While boring old sound check takes place at the Numbers Club, I hop off down the street to Infinity Records to put some mileage on Banks' Master Card (Plug time: not only was I able to pick up difficult to obtain records at a ridiculously cheap price, the manager gave me an additional discount on them. God, I love Texas. They know how to treat a man with a tour laminate!)
Scaccia has decided to come along for all of the Texas dates, upping the guitarist count to as many as four at one time. I remember the old southern-rock band the Outlaws' attitude of "Florida's guitar army." It seems to have more balls than REVCO: CHICAGO'S SAMPLING BRIGADE. Patty has flown in from Chicago to join the fray as well. Hail, hail, the gang's all here, praise the Lord and pass the bottle opener, would'ya?
The night features another audience from the State Hospital. I think I'm beginning to understand the Jourgensenian concept of liquid courage. In the packed club, I wave to Billy SKATENiG and his charming girlfriend. Some Bon Jovi-Xeroxed "rock dude" thinks out loud, "Man, I'd like to fuck her ass". Without a moment's hesitation I smash this guy square in the jaw. He is considerably larger than I am, and I don't think I'm drunk enough to withstand the severe ass-beating he will deliver when he gets up. To quote PRiMUS' Les Claypool: "Later days, Willie Mays."
I'm figuring out a lot of things while slamming some serious beer tonnage. Tonight, all the dancers look like my favorite Hustler Busty magazine fantasies. (Later on in the tour, a local reviewer will say that the "choreography" was poor. How do these people get these jobs?) The big thing I am remembering is a piece of conversation between Banks and Al in Cleveland: "Joe, you have to get fucked up to see us so you can see what we see." Some pasty red-haired woman grabs me by the ass, pulls me by the hair and screams in my face, "You're from heaven but you're going to hell!" I won't even make an attempt on this babe; earlier I saw her out in the crowd singing along with THE MENTORS' "Free Fix For A Fuck."
After the gig, Chris finds somebody to take us back to the hotel. I am so ruined that I forget how to operate a car door handle. Back at the hotel, I have to cover one eye just to get the key into the door lock. I feel bad that Caroline and I are rooming together this evening and that I have unconditionally staked my claim to the bathroom in a marathon worship service to the porcelain gods.
Unlike myself, rock and roll will never die.
FALLiNG OFF THE EDGE OF A RAZOR
I come close to tears as I read the button I bought in New York on my tour laminate: I'M NOT DRINKING AGAIN. It's time to haul my rotting carcass to the venue for dinner.
Back at Numbers, some COCKS and crew look like they've all been promoted poster children for the National Cirrhosis League. This is no joke; you can feel an underlying tension in the room.
"Since you are the press," begins Critter, "I guess you should know that Mark got arrested last night". He walks away without further explanation…
If you think this is a spectacle, wait until you see Part Two next issue.
* PART TWO *
STARRiNG: AL JOURGENSEN AS BUCK SATAN 666, PAUL BARKER AS MR. HYDE, MiCHAEL BALCH AS THE LATEX LOVER, JEFF WARD AS THE DRUMMER WiTH A SKiRT, SEAN JOYCE AS BWA (BABYSiTTER WiTH ATTiTUDE), MARK DURANTE AS THE FUGiTiVE, TRENT REZNOR AS THE ACCiDENTAL TOURiST, JEFF NEWELL AS THE SOUND CRiTTER, FRiTZ AS THE MAN BEHiND THE MONiTOR AND RiCHARD TOMCALA AS SCOOBY DOO'S PAL SHAGGY. WiTH SUPPORTiNG STARS; THE SKATENiGS AND THE MENTORS.
The story so far: We gave Jason Pettigrew a handful of quarters to go on tour with the REVOLTiNG COCKS. Here's the final installment of that adventure continued from last issue. Last we knew, Mark Durante, REVCO guitar tech and occasional rhythm guitarist, was arrested in Houston, putting the tour in limbo…
Upon further snooping I found out that after the gig last night Mark had a little too much…uh…too much. After his REVCO duties, he went out for a night on the town in his REVOLTiNG COCKS t-shirt and backpack and went to hail a cab. Well, in Houston if you want a cab you have to call ahead for it, a rather antiquated notion, I think. So when Mark hailed a cab it passed him up. So when he tried to hail another and it passed him again, he threw a rock at the cab.
Except that it wasn't a taxicab at all, but a Houston patrol car. Houston's finest were not impressed. In a moment of great law-enforcement technique, they thought that an antihistamine was a controlled substance. Needless to say, it was a night in the hoosegow for Mark.
Despite the sullen mood of the REVCO camp, the show will go on. Billy SKATENiG will be the pinch-hitter guitar-tech this evening. Patty Jourgensen will be the road manager (Queen For A Day?) and Richard Tomcala as the impromptu paralegal. I don't know who's playing the role of the shy, retiring weekend alcoholic music writer because I have a headache that feels like Power Drill Maintenance 101 at the community college of your choice.
Of course onstage, the bummer mood transforms into evil. The normally affable Barker is thoroughly pissed off. Sources of this irritation are somewhat unclear, but I would imagine that a good part of it may have something to do with this tall, bony, annoying dancer with white nylons and child's finger-paint make-up that insists on dancing in front of Paul and Chris. This abuse is justified as some of the articulate speech out of her head involves becoming an actress and how she jumped out of a cake at one of her father's office parties and how everyone was "turned on" by it (I wondered silently to myself why pimps would have office parties). After about three songs, Paul recalls his best hockey plays (thinly disguised as rock-and-roll histrionics) and bodychecks her into the sold-out crowd.
I'm sitting on some equipment cases nursing a Dr. Pepper when this guy with a cowboy hat, sunglasses and a large bandanna the size of the Riviera Theatre guest list runs into me. Since I can't hear a vocal apology over the volume, he starts holding my shoulders and wiping off my shirt where he spilled my drink. I tell him it's okay, no big deal. And he pats me on the shoulder.
He then turns to Jourgensen onstage, and starts waving his fist in the air. Al looks at him between dive-bomb chords of "Stainless Steel Providers," and smiles. After about four minutes of this, the polite bank-robber-type leaves.
Backstage after the show, Reznor and I play with Phildo's pit bull and I have to ask Al who was that masked man.
"WHAT? Mr. Rock Writer doesn't know who the fuck Billy Gibbons is?"
Let's hear it for a brush with greatness. ZZ TOP's Billy Gibbons knocked part of my drink on me. Earlier in the day while Reznor and Chris SKATENiG were doing interviews with some college radio DJ who was sitting naked on a mirror pondering his asshole as his birth canal, Al was having dinner with Mr. Gibbons. Al was immediately impressed by Gibbon's ability to eat an Italian dinner without getting one single speck of it on his trademark beard (the huge bandanna is to insure anonymity when out in public). Gibbon's turns out to be a major MiNiSTRY and REVCO fiend. Everybody loves a sharp dressed man.
The account of Mark's arrest was published in a slightly different form in all of the English rock tabloids, most notably the NME and Sounds. The story they ran concerned protest groups picketing the gig, a twenty-foot high wall of flame, a wall of barbed wire, Al riding a bucking bronco à la Urban Cowboy while holding a flamethrower, and last but not least, a whole herd of cattle running through the audience during "Beers, Steers And Queers." A better dream sequence could not have been directed by David Lynch. Here's a toast towards misconceptions.
JOURGENSEN: "The greatest misconception about the COCKS is that we have a focused agenda. Because we used porn on the cover of the live album, we're labeled sexist. We did 'No Devotion' with some Tantric things that were considered satanic. We are a party. We do not have the exact same things. That is not a party, that is a rally."
CONNELLY: "There are allegations that we are fascists and that we're sexist, which nobody can make that judgment upon me unless they know me personally. I hate ev'rybody, I don't play favorites! [laughter]"
BALCH: "That we know what we're doing. The COCKS get taken seriously by some people and that is a misconception in itself, because the genesis of the band was a fuck project to begin with, just to get acquainted with equipment."
WARD: "People try to equate the seriousness of the other projects into the COCKS and the COCKS are a way to vent energy for the hell of it. When I went to do 'Stainless Steel…' the opening line was, 'Do you want to be a cock? [laughter]'"
BARKER: "That we're a great band. When I think of the shit that really brings me to tears, it's not the stuff that we play."
San Antonio looks like a locale for an ABC Movie Of The Week concerning abducted children. (Imagine the picture; Roy Schneider searches the dirt of Texas in a ’65 Dodge trying to find his alcoholic prostitute ex-wife, played by Hope Lange who has kidnapped the kids after a custody battle went bad). The area that we're in has few green things (i.e., vegetation) and a lot of brown things, like a bookstore whose ideologies reside on the far right of John Sununu. Balch picked up a factually correct pamphlet on how all rock music is directly linked to Satan. Now I realize why I despise Erasure.
The Showcase club could have been a wonderful thing had they just installed a motherfucking air conditioner. Twice I had to pick up my face after it melted off between bands.
THE MENTORS do their thing in front of a bunch of underwear skidmarks. That's right, folks, I'm talking about skinheads. They're Seig-Heiling along to THE MENTORS while trying to mask assaults on other audience members as slam dancing. Of course Il Ducè and the rest of the band do nothing to either stop or spur them on, which is kind of disappointing.
Leave it to the SKATENiGS to redress the balance. Billy grabs a mike and says, "I want everybody to have a good time tonight. But first I want these Nazi Seig-Heiling motherfuckers thrown out of here NOW!" One of the hairless ones flips Billy the finger so Billy burns huge holes in him with a deranged stare. Mr. Skinhead tries to go over the barricade and Billy goes to meet him but security intervenes and the hairless one is thrown out. Subsequently, the 'NiGS transfer this energy into a powerful set.
The 104-degree heat is not going to stop San Antonio from killing themselves against the barricade. Reznor's cold-beer baptisms are the product of compassion rather than punk-rock annoyance. Sean Joyce is strafing the crowd with ice remnants from the beer tubs and actually gets applause. "Stainless Steel Providers" becomes the soundtrack for the removal of bodies in the front.
Backstage, I meet a voluptuous young woman named Trish who is beating the heat by unfastening lots of buttons. Unfortunately she's with some pathetic non-entity who looks like he's up to his chin in defaulted student loans. (Why do the most wonderful women on the planet like geeks?) I give her some magazines and the boyfriend gives me some dirty looks. Reznor offers to keep him busy if I want to get intimate. That's what I call friendship. I opt for remaining a gentleman as opposed to a concept album idea for THE MENTORS. God, I am so stupid.
Tomcala arrives with Mark just in time to pull out of town. Naturally, Mark has to field a lot of prison ribbing which involves everything from being called "jailbird" to inquiries about whether he bent over to pick up the soap in the shower.
iT'S iN MY BED NOW
The Tulsa show has been canceled, which is fine with everybody involved because we can actually use the eighteen hours of travel time to go to Austin and prepare a bachelor party for Sena who is leaving after the next night's gig to get married in Vegas.
After a night of whip-its, free well-brand drinks with tour laminate only. (Did I mention that I love Texas?) and a cool set from LAST RiTES at the Cannibal Club, it's back to the hotel for more bachelor celebrations (captured by Fritz on videotape). Sean is presented with a wonderful blow-up doll that looks a lot like my ex-fiancee (only a lot warmer). Tomcala produces some 'shrooms and everybody is cleared for take off. I decide to retire early.
Bad move. Paul, Reznor and Fritz pound on my door. Like the moron I am, I let them in and they proceed to try to light the carpet on fire with my bottle of Sea Breeze, only to end up putting it out with my shaving foam, while Paul giggles "FIRE! My God, I'll put it out!" and dumps water all over my bed, which is nowhere near the flames.
As I pull sheets off of the other bed to sleep on the floor I vow revenge.
SOMEONE SOMEWHERE DRY ME OFF
Sean's blow-up doll was found on the bus contorted with a beer bottle up the anal orifice. All accusations are aimed at Balch. Evidence Exhibit A: the bottle found in the doll was a Canadian beer.
Liberty Lunch is a neat venue, more barn dance simplicity than metropolitan club culture. Perfect setting for hometown champion 'NiGS and COCK-types. Aside from a couple dangerous fans (Sean had to throw some guy out twice), the crowd were into every second as if the COCKS were the last band they would ever see. Tonight in the middle of "In The Neck," Al has decided that the dancers have got to go. As if on cue, the girl in front of Paul…wait where are my notes? Whaddaya mean whip-its destroy our memory?
During the encore of "Public Image," Reznor grabs Sean with the full intent of tossing him out into the crowd. I intervene and all three of us are spinning around the stage (which has been lubricated with Corona), slippin' and a-slidin' until stage security gets bored and throws all three of us into the throng.
The huge beer tub is now water thanks to the heat and when I go to grab it to give Austin my parting dunk, Reznor dumps the whole thing on top of me. I'm standing on all these cables wondering if I'm going to fry. Backstage I decide Trent must die, and I commence a very soggy choking.
LESS THAN ZERO
Ever been to Lordsburg, New Mexico? Then you have never truly been bored, so bored that the idea of taking your life in front of a mirror just so you could watch yourself die slowly doesn't sound too out of line. There is bowling and there is eating. And by the smell of it, there is laundry.
Reznor and I collect quarters and go to the Laundromat whose current working capacity is about 8 percent if the number of "Out of Order" signs is any indication.
TRENT REZNOR: "When the COCKS tour was presented to me for the first time it was like, 'Wow, this would be fun.' But then it was like, 'Uh…do I want to go out for three more weeks?'
"I thought it would be fun and there's absolutely no pressure on me. It's nice not to have to do interviews all day and have the pressure of a show riding on me. Plus I felt it would secure or destroy my friendship within the MiNiSTRY camp.
"What's been my favorite moment on this tour? God, it's all a blur!"
Five months…uh…hours later and it's time to go. As we head toward California, Critter casually asks if anybody has seen Mark.
I DON'T KNOW WHETHER TO LEAVE YOU OR PUSH YOU OVER THE EDGE
Los Angeles. Oh, the beautiful people, the action, the sophistication, the scum, the losers, the smog, the bullets and the locale of mankind's largest steaming turds in the litterbox of America—the Palace.
The Chainsaw of Damocles is hanging over us today. Interviews get clichè, soundcheck sounds like shit and the club's drunk slingers all look like Liberace offspring—only without the class.
An incredibly annoyed Mark Durante should be arriving at Los Angeles Airport after the bus he was riding left him in New Mexico. Can't wait to read his summer vacation diary.
Let's talk shop. Today Chris and Paul are doing bulk interviews. And by the looks of it, they would much rather be bowling in Lordsburg, NM.
Connelly's interview involves some gangly college DJ asking him if it's true that "You're doing an album of cocktail lounge music for Wax Trax?" (I have heard Chris' solo record. This question is similar to asking John Cale why he can't make a record that you can play on radio). Instead of slashing the guy's throat and painting the outside of the club with his blood, Chris hesitates and quietly and responds, "No."
Paul on the other hand, is pissed. The same man that patiently answered a Houston interview question of "where'd y'all start" is changing from a kinder gentler COCK to Charles Manson:
INTERVIEWER: I wanted to ask you about your video for "Faster Than Light…"
Trent Reznor is in the video but he doesn't play on it.
Yes, that's right.
Okay, are you guys friends?
Martin Atkins is also in there and he doesn't play on it.
Bill Rieflin is in it and he doesn't play on it.
Yeah, I haven't seen the video, I was just asking.
[disgustedly] I said "Starfuckers." Yeah. [rising in tone] People who only care about it only because of who's in it. That's bullshit.
Yeah, that's what I call a starfucker. See, you haven't seen it and you're asking me about [said if speaking to a small child ] Trent Rez-nor.
No, it's not.
Sure it is!
Sure! Isn't Martin Atkins as-big-a-name-as-Trent-Rez-nor?
Yeah, I didn't know he was in that, I guess it was just bad info.
Yeah, well now that you got the Nine Inch Nail thing out of the way!
[More invigorating questions concerning lard]
Now Ogre isn't credited on the REVOLTiNG COCKS album.
That was a fuck-up.
'Cause he sang "Get Up" er... "Get Down."
[insisting] "Get Down."
No, "Get Off."
"Get Off?" Oh, okay. "Get Lost."
[immense laughter] I wish I would have said that!
Now, dear reader, imagine the lowest form of human life you can possibly think of: used-car dealers, child rapists, politicians, Benneton employees, Hitler, King Herod, televangelists…get the picture? And I will contend that those individuals are kitty-cats compared to the security staff at the Palace.
A bunch of overweight, steroid abusers of various races, nationalities, religious convictions (usually found in a mirror) and degrees of halitosis refuse to let Caroline and me onstage and explain to us that we will be thrown out if we don't get out of the area. A.P. photographer Jackie has all her credentials in order through Tomcala, and these bastards still harass her. Even Balch was told by one of these pus-bags that he's either to be "In the dressing room or on the stage, no exceptions." Mr. Balch, ever the gentleman, explains patiently to Baby Huey's Bel-Air cousin Biff that if he is told where to go, he will not play and then Biff will have to explain to the audience why tonight's show is being canceled. Biff wisely backs off.
Saying the gig is a complete shit-piece is like saying that Saddam Hussein is interested in Kuwait. Onstage sound is shit, monitors blow and certain COCKS' timing is poor. And if that is not enough, the crowd is being scrutinized by the club staff goons for the slightest hint of dancing, so they can go eject-happy. Who wants to be thrown out at Palace ticket prices?
In the ugliest moment of the entire tour, Al totally loses it and smacks Mark square in the head with his guitar, breaking it in the process. The source of his anger is Paul who sounds out of tune. Al then commences to fire Paul onstage telling him he's history - he's out of MiNiSTRY, COCKS, EVERYTHING. Paul, who's had a couple drinks, is nonplused.
During the encore, a severely truncated "Get Down," Sean gets revenge and stage dives into the crowd, whipping up the bodies. After he sets the whole thing in motion: he swims out of the crowd, looks at a bouncer 93 times his mass, smiles and gives him the finger.
Backstage Al begins a chair-throwing rage after which, he runs and apologizes to Mark for everything that went bad on the entire tour. Paul wisely retires to the bus. As I leave the club, another security pedophile tells me that once the band leaves I can't get back into the club. "I know you don't wanna hear it." I tell him the only thing I want to hear is when he will commit suicide. He starts the tough-guy speech, and I walk away. Let me tell you, I personally endorse any vandalism and terroristic threats made and/or carried out to staff security and members of their immediate families, including pets.*
And if all of this were not enough torture, our bus driver demands that Chris and I go to the back of the coach because we (the band) have not fulfilled our promise to keep the front of the coach clean. Chris offers to help him out, but the driver (who used to do lights for NAZARETH, he'll have you know) wants no part of our assistance. The two of us retire to our bunks after deciding not to clean the toilet out with his ’70s arena-rock styled pseudo-afro.
A recent news item in Billboard magazine states that the Palace gave a bouncing check to the charity responsible for Curtis Mayfield's medical care. The check was from monies generated through an all-star benefit rap show at the club. The Palace has since been closed by bankruptcy trustees. And you thought I was exaggerating the scum quotient.
NOW PLAYiNG: AL JOURGENSEN iN "THE ViNCE LOMBARDi STORY"
This day promises to turn into one of Andreas Serrano's piss bottles. We've been thrown out of two San Francisco Chinatown hotels for dubious reasons. (The first removal stems from constant inquiries from females to the front desk. The other involves certain unnamed characters throwing up in the lobby ashtrays). A telephone hopscotch game between A.P. publisher Shea and me over why American Express hasn't sent me money yet ensues. And if the envelope can be pushed further, during the photo shot where the band sits with transients, I ask if one of the homeless is the new bass player. Nobody laughs.
The show at the Storne is a real scorcher. Perhaps coach Al delivered a hellacious pep talk. Perhaps he threatened members with pink slips. Whatever transpired, it paid off. As the band pounds away, my good friend Mike LaVella notices that it's the first gig he's ever attended where the fog machine never filled up the room.
Yeah, except they weren't using the fog machine. Turns out that certain audience members set off smoke bombs in an effort to ruin the gig. Exactly who is responsible is unclear; the only clue available is that they are politically correct bombs. All the smoke concentrates on the left side of the room.
Jourgensen, who's temper is about as hot as the head of Satan's prick right about now, is determined to carry on with the set no matter how much chemical shit he or the others inhale. And dammit if those motherfuckers don't kick out the jams, using the smoke to their advantage during the best version of "Attack Ships" I've heard all month. Play ball with these guys and they will ram the bat up your ass. The band rallies through the dense shit and comes off with a killer set.
Everybody feels pretty damn good about tonight after the Palace debacle, and the triumph over the gas attack has definitely mended any tensions on the bus. School's out for THE MENTORS, and Al loads up Il Ducè with enough bottled entertainment to make his drive back to L.A. a lot more tolerable.
SNOTS, SHOTS AND SLOTS
Here we are in the desert of Reno. While the others are working the tables or the bars, I'm calling room service to inquire if they have any extra lungs. Last night's smoke coupled with creeping bronchitis has decimated my breathing and all I can do is drink Irish whiskey and cough up cheese.
I crawl down to the slot machines and proceed to piss away twelve bucks worth of nickels. Dinner sounds promising, so Fritz, Paul, Chris, Trent and me are trapped into waiting for a table for 40 minutes. By the time we get our food, Tomcala comes in and informs us that we must leave at once because our formidable driver has a plane to catch tomorrow morning. Chris mutters something about a "dead bastard."
Back on the bus Al tries his best attempt at rapping (I have the perfect stage name: Al Al Cool J) while Sean brags about how much he's won at the casinos. He wins cash and marries a beautiful woman. Bastard.
TRUTH IN ADVERTISING: THE DONNA REED SHOW AS THE SALT LAKE SCENE
So here we are in Salt Lake City. I hear there were some amusing moments in this city on the last MiNiSTRY tour involving Marie Osmond, a bull whip, a Robert Mapplethorpe gallery catalog and Terry Roberts. But there isn't anything really funny today. I'm looking at a local fanzine with an advertisement for the gig that reads "MiNiSTRY as REVOLTiNG COCKS." Hey Al, hate to ruin your day but take a look at this…
Running out of the club comes an excited Sean. "GUYS! CHECK THiS OUT! I left this righteous turd in the ladies room! It's the longest one I've ever done!" Everybody grabs some kind of camera and files into the women's restroom while the female staffers at the club wonder what we're trying to prove. (For documentation, this was a fairly sizable piece of feces.)
At the gig, the crowd just stands there as if they were waiting for a doctor to come by to feel their crotches and ask them to cough. I decide to take a running start through the crowd during "Beers…" to jostle some of these dolts, and in the process I clothesline some guy's girlfriend. He returns the favor by punching me in the face. Dripping blood on my nice Felix The Cat t-shirt, I make my way up to the stage. Al looks at me and I read his lips saying, "Man, I am tripping out of my fucking mind." Chris and Al decide to berate Utah. "Man, you fuckers are lame. You all look like you're part of The Donna Reed Show. But hey, it's MiNiSTRY as REVOLTiNG COCKS, right? This is 'Something Wonderful,' you pussies."
Well, that did it. Immediately, the barricade is smashed and bodies are piling upon others to be on the stage. This is the closest I've seen to a videotape of THE WHO at Riverfront Coliseum. At the set's end, Paul tosses his bass down near the front of the stage and the guys up front dive for it, reducing it to tangled strings and a crushed body. Subsequently, Lance SKATENiG is drafted to play bass on "Get Down." Backstage Al starts on Paul: "Fuck you, Ion! We suck to begin with fifty percent of the time. Then you fuck up the other fifty percent of the time!" They both end up laughing and slapping backs.
Back on the bus, a tired Paul is divulging his favorite drug ("My wife sitting on my face") while writing a nasty autograph that reads "yr ass, asshole." I think it's time for him to go home and get a fix, and some guy keeps hounding me as to the whereabout's of Elaine (you know, like the old song "You say Elaine/ I say Alain/ Elaine, Alain/ Alain, Elaine/ let's call the whole thing off."). I volunteer to get the coach owner back from the hotel to get away from girls with names like Cinnamon that have huge pieces of metal through their arms, face, and God knows where else, as well as old drunks who are throwing sweaty clothes through the driver's side window screaming, "Give this to [insert band member name here]!"
THE ALMOST LAST HURRAH
DATELINE: DENVER (A.P.) There is a tradition in rock and roll that is followed by everyone from the most hideous death metallers to little fart-bubble biters like Billy Joel. The last night usually means a total disregard for protocol, professional attitude, law, order, safety and the Constitution Of The United States. (which means it's not that much different from any other night this month.)
Sean and I decide that we're going to have fun till Daddy (Tomcala) takes the T-bird away. The kind folks at the Gothic Theatre have furnished lots of tubs of ice so we can annoy everybody. And I have to deal with Barker's indiscretions from Austin. Sean decides to bombard Mark with ice during "Beers, Steers And Queers." A little innocuous, no big deal. By the middle of the set, we have graduated from ice to cups to projectiles. When Reznor walks off between songs, he dumps half a bottle of beer on my crotch. So I strafe him with ice. While he's acting like Trent Reznor, Rock Guitar God onstage, I walk onstage, remove Trent's hat, dump a bottle on his peachfuzz head, replace the hat and walk away. A lot of the Denver crowd has to be wondering who this dick is that keeps wandering out and disrupting these fine men, but I think I got some applause.
Barker decides he's tired, so he lies down onstage. I'm standing over him and ask if he wants a beer. He responds by opening his mouth. I retort by pouring it on his glasses, his hair, his chest and other places where it's hard to taste. When I get back home, I will get t-shirts made with the Flintstones wearing long hair and glasses for the first FRED iNTO GOLD tour.
Some of the ice I'm throwing at Reznor misses and I connect with Al, who up until this point seems totally oblivious to the shit being perpetrated. We save all our abuse for the encores. Fritz comes out to strap Trent up with several yards of duct tape across his guitar, boots, hat, groin and fingers. Ward seems to have a force field around him; I can't get anything to connect on him. At the final chord of "Public Image," I take this opportunity to bombard Barker with an ice storm. Tomcala is not amused and knocks the remaining cup out of my hands (I told him to let me know when the SKATENiGS go on so I could see them one last time. He didn't, so fuck him).
Back on the bus, Chris is playing his FALLl CDs for some women who wouldn't know Mark E. Smith from a locksmith. One of the ladies, a blonde cleavage clichè, sidles on up to Trent. Reznor looks at me and says in a tone louder than regular conversation levels, "Skagathon. I'll pay for the cab. Let's get out of here." Chris agrees and we're out of here. We have proclaimed the evening "Let's Torture Tomcala Time" and proceed to infest his hotel room with people. Ward and I are sitting on the floor talking to Billy SKATENiG and some fans. Al walks over and crumples over my shoulder. I look at Jeff and deadpan, "Dead bodies everywhere." Tomcala tries to initiate a "colorful barf" contest with a mere $50 prize. He gets no takers.
BEHiND THE WHEEL, MADE OUT OF STAiNLESS STEEL
Back home to Chicago from Colorado. Our new driver decides to drive the whole thing straight through, something like twenty hours. We have watched every video this bus has to offer, most notably the entire Arnold Schwarzenegger resumè. Yeah, this is real glamorous.
REST AND RELAXATION? YOU OFTEN FORGET!
It's finally over. And if I don't get this story in on time to editor Banks, my life will be over as well. Al wants to talk, and suggests that I turn my tape recorder on.
"New Orleans has Mardi Gras," he says, "but not twelve months out of the year. People are gonna believe what they want to believe, but it is just as important for me to convince people, 'No, we are not rock gods,' as much as it is to convince them that, 'No, we are not heathen scum.' I don't take the COCKS in any direction - the COCKS take their own direction.
"Personally, I feel like it's time for me to lay low. All of our songs are about people leading their own lives and making their own decisions and taking full responsibility for what they do. It's an unfortunate thing that idolatry beckons some people and unfortunately there are a lot of people who like to lead a life vicariously through someone else. These are the kind of responsibilities I've never faced up to before, and they hit me square between the fuckin' eyes.
"You start falling into a trap where it is difficult to objectively look at what kind of person you are in the period of a tour. You react instinctually to the environment around you."
Yeah, but the whole "rock thing" rewards sleaze with idolatry. And let's face it, the COCKS don't throw bibles at their gigs à la STRYPER.
"The COCKS are a pisstake of the rock thing but a lot of people don't get the joke. People's sense of irony has gone down the tubes. I'm not going to be a figurehead for the lampshade and limbo line. I'm not gonna lead anybody around and I'm certainly not gonna give them ammunition."
So what are you getting at?
"We have European commitments we have to fulfill in January, but after that I don't think you'll see me onstage for a considerable amount of time. No COCKS or MiNiSTRY tours for at least two years.
"But the COCKS are the COCKS and I'm not going to take the REVOLTiNG COCKS and make them JOY DiViSiON, for god's sake! I know I feel I'm comfortable out of the limelight."
Actual sleep feels so good. Just as I start getting into this wonderful dream concerning Kim Deal and a vat of olive oil, I feel this slimy, wet thing across my face. It's Al's five-year-old daughter Adrienne, who is wide awake and holding a fly swatter she's dipped in last night's dish water. "Whatcha' doin'?"
Madness is hereditary, and there's nothin' you can do about it. Thank God.
* WHERE ARE THEY NOW? *
Al Jourgensen and Paul Barker became co-owners of Chicago Trax Studios, where they are currently recording the follow-up to 1996's Filth Pig album. "We've talked about reactivating the COCKS", says Barker. "But that's really on the far back burner." When asked if taking ownership of the studio meant there would be no more crazy nights of driving motorcycles through vocal booths, Barker deadpanned, "Not really. We'd just pay people to do it."
In the years following the COCKS' final album, "Linger Fickin' Good", Chris Connelly released three critically received albums for Wax Trax! that gradually distanced him from industrial rock. Late last year, he formed a band called THE BELLS and released The Ultimate Seaside Companion on the Chicago-indie Hit It!
Michael Balch contributed to MiNiSTRY's Psalm 69 before returning to Vancouver. He recently moved to Los Angeles and has been working with former MOEV member Tom Ferris in a project called BLACKLAND.
Jeff Ward went on to tour and record with NiNE iNCH NAiLS and with Dave Allen and Rick Boston in LOW POP SUiCiDE, and local Chicago band COVEN OF THiEVES. He committed suicide in 1994.
Most bands' careers peak and end in the time it takes Trent Reznor to perfect a new NiNE iNCH NAiLS album. Expect a follow-up to The Downward Spiral in late-’98 or early-’99.
Mark Durante rocks out country-style in the WACO BROTHERS alongside WRECK guitarist Dean Schlabowske and MEKONS chairman Jon Langford.
Having handled tour managing duties for the YOUNG GODS, SOUNDGARDEN and SATCHEL, as well as having some of his samples used on "Linger Fickin' Good", Sean Joyce lives in Chicago where he spins records in select Chicago clubs.
Richard Tomcala is the publisher of Hemp Magazine, and is the owner of the Texas Hemp Company, "the oldest hemp store in the whole continent."
The SKATENiGS recorded two albums before personnel changes fragmented the band. Lead singer Phil Owen lives in Austin and is the frontman for two bands, SAWED-OFF and CHORBOY. He has also done production/remix work for SKREW, THE X-COPS and PiGFACE. Billy Jackson resides in Dallas where he rides mountain bikes with his girlfriend.
THE MENTORS founder El Ducé (a.k.a. Eldon Hoke) was killed when he tried to outrun a train on the tracks of Mira Loma, CA. He found several additional seconds in the spotlight after he claimed Courtney Love approached him to murder Kurt Cobain for $50,000. Gutter conspiracy theorists think he was pushed in front of that train.
After their band RiGHTS OF THE ACCUSED disbanded, Wes Kidd and Brian St. Clair started a new band, TRiPLE FAST ACTiON, that recorded albums for the Capitol and Deep Elm labels. 3FA broke up in mid-spring 1998; St. Clair now lives in NYC, while Kidd spins records at a series of swanky gin joints in Chicago.
Casey Orr bears an uncanny resemblance to GWAR guitarist Beefcake.
Mike Scaccia is rumored to have opened a guitar shop in Dallas.
Jeff "Critter" Newell is an in-demand producer/remixer in the industrial-rock underground, and is a correspondent for an online e-zine.
Lee Popa was last seen living in Los Angeles, doing production work for various rock bands.
Alternative Press Senior Editor Jason Pettigrew still gets feedback from people claiming the REVCO tour diary was the best thing they've ever read in A.P. (Alternative Press).