Tuesday, December 11, 2007

He Had To Break My Twenty.

I'm going to post some old journal entries, song lyrics and stuff like that on this blog. The Church Police, or at least Tim and I, aspired to be a literary phenomenon as much as a musical thing. We didn't do much in that area either but here goes. These entries don't have much of a point but they give a glimpse into our life and times. This is from a little 2.5" X 5" spiral notepad that has a bunch of random, undated stuff scrawled into it. It starts in the middle of some kind of narrative - I can't recall the details so it just is what it is... You can date it sometime in the spring or summer of 1981. - DB

He had to break my twenty. Then Tim decided to get one and gave him a twenty but he had to go in back to get it so I gave him two dollars instead because I was getting sick of waiting because he had sat on the phone for 15 minutes while I was waiting to buy my record. Time said "now we'll have to break up my twenty somewhere else! I said "oh well , I just wanna get out of here." So we went to Valco and Tim bought some gum and got change. So then we walked back to my house. Marcy (my dad's housekeeper) was playing the Mexican radio station loud. Tim went upstairs and was checking out Stephen Hero. I made a bologna sandwich (I just saw a truckload of cows!) I swiped a little bit of weed from the Green Jar, enough for two J's while we listened to the Minutemen. I couldn't find the rolling machine so I had to twist 'em by hand. It took longer and it soon became apparent that we weren't going to make his next class so we went down in the basement and smoked a doobie. We talked about Marquis de Sade and other stuff. I wanted to wander around S.F. so I said we should leave soon. Tim seemed reluctant to go so early but he did anyway. So we walked down to BART. Tim curled up and got into the subliminal vibes. I stared out the window and thought about me and Tim, two young artists - took lots of thoughts down, would wander off, get distracted and the start from the phrase, "me and Tim the young artists."

We got off at Embarcadero and walked (I thought) north of Market but it was really south - Tim told me so. I was talking like let's go to North Beach and just walk all over town (my plans) and Tim was not clear on what I was saying. He kept repeating something to me. Fuck! I can't remember but I got pissed, he kept saying it but I guess it's no big deal.

Then we went to Fun Terminal where we met Eric S. He gave us a ride to where he works. I've already told what he did. So he walked over to this grassy patch, some strange lawn elevated with trees in front of a big building and sat for awhile. I started writing this, Tim sat and watched.

After some time we walked up 6th Street to Market digging all the goony looking faces. Then we got up to Powell Street and that area. William was playing bass at Hallidie Plaza. We walked past Woolworth's and saw George from Grr and some other guy playing guitars. We listened for a bit and Tim suggested that we should have got him for our band. Right! So I said let's walk through Stockton Street Tunnel. Tim didn't want to (?) but said he would because it would be great for me cuz I used to do it everyday. Right!

So we walked up thru Chinatown and I remembered Old Master Q - I walked over to the newsstand (Chinese) and they had two fat books and I skim one. I bought a fat book for a dollar. It was pretty funny, better than the last few I bought. Then we walked up to Coit Liquors to buy wine. I saw Brian had grown a beard, Juan was still working there, Mike too. Eleanor had a puffier younger looking hairdo. Mario looked the same, saw me but didn't say anything. Tony saw me and said my name. I said "how ya doing," full volley of greetings blah blah. I forgot, we saw Kurt from the Renegades and the Egyptian Theater, he talked about bands (mainly his) and girls a bit and how scummy S.F. is and that junk. We also saw Charly from Arsenal in this bookstore on Powell or thereabouts. He has a skinhead, talked about tonight's party, their Halloween party (sorry!), reggae, the Minutemen, friendly junk. I discovered another new author, B. Traven - I saw a book called Death Ship by him which looks like it might be alright. Caution: just don't get too eclectic!

So after that we went to Rough Trade. First thing I checked for was Jealous Again. They still had it - then new LPs, nothing interesting, clothbound Joy Division 2-LP set (smirk). then I looked under B singles, saw new Black Flag, couldn't find Nervous Breakdown. Found new Adolescents single, Tim said "Wow, Ray'll freak out!" I ripped off issue of Search and Destroy with Burroughs.

We walked down to City Lights, not much there, I read the Symposium on Finnegan's Wake. I shuddered to think of the task before me. Tim came down reading A Chicken Essay. We sat around for awhile, I checked out various racks of books. We went to Clown Alley before City Lights so Tim could piss, then back again afterwards to eat. We sat outside for a little while. Drunk some wine. I had to take a crap, after I did I found out the toilet was jammed. I found it out cuz I flushed the toilet while I was sitting on it. The water came up and chilled my ass. Whoo! What a surprise. All this water started dumping on the floor and a big turd floated in the middle. I didn't stuff it up though! I walked out of the room, my ass was still a bit damp, the water ran down the back of my legs. We fired up our other joint. We were talking about stuff. I told Tim about Stephen Hero, he told me what he thought of Joyce and other mind-molding things. So then we went to eat and back to City Lights and more stuff.

A Comment From Tim

Tim (the singer) emailed me with some additional information that he wanted to leave as a comment but I don't allow anonymous entries and he didn't want to identify himself, or register with Google, or something. I think the comment is worthy of being a new post so here it is:
Hi Dave,

Very poor memory on your part.

Flipper got lost for the DVC show -- I will always remember Ted's sheepish face when they showed up as we were packing away the equipment. They made it but the show was all over because they were driving all over the Bay Area freeways til they founbd it.

And I played in the Maroons last show with Bruce on drums.

To jove moix dude -- I saw your blog a while ago and no puedo entender quelle languaje it was escribo in-- some sort of castellian spanish? Great to see, thanks.

And Dave, great stuff, keep it up -- Bruce and I put the top poster together.

Of course, he's wrong on all the points where he contradicts me but you know who to trust already don't you?

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Church Police Posters

I've recently been in touch with people (on-line) who are fans either of the Church Police, or Flipper, or both, and that has inspired me to get more active in fulfilling the potential of this blog to serve as a repository of information on the Church Police and my recollections of the early-80s SF musical underground scene that I played a bit part in. I have bunches of old journals and other artifacts that deserve some kind of public airing. Not much in the way of photos though - the Church Police are woefully under-preserved in the audio and visual realms, but that only adds to the allure and mystery doesn't it...

Here are some scans I made a few years ago of posters from our shows. They may still be on-line somewhere, if Comcast chose to preserve the pages I posted when the domain was attbi.com but here's a fresh look at them. 

This isn't the full collection though. I gotta save a few things for the 
deluxe edition box set that I hope to release some day.

Bruce made this one. These scans are such high quality that you can see the text from the other side of the newspaper bleeding through.

This one was made by Tim. He was the biggest sports fan in our band, but I follow major league baseball and the NFL pretty closely these days.

I made this one. It's based on the popular Hong Kong comic book
series Old Master Q. You have to read it starting in the upper 
right, then go down, then upper left, then go down. 

I used to work at Coit Liquors in North Beach, right there on Washington Square, across from the big Catholic Church and right around the corner from Chinatown. I would stroll around the neighborhood on my lunch hours and picked up a few issues of these comics. None of them were in English but many of the strips had no dialog so the jokes were easy to understand. I actually combined two different strips to make this poster so it is a truly original work of art.

I made this poster for a show we put on in Pleasant Hill. Maybe Contra Costa was our response to a compilation album called No New York and it's follow-up rebuttal comp Yes L.A. Too bad we never released the album. As it turned out, Flipper canceled on us. I think they were scared to go through the Caldecott Tunnel or something (wimps.)

This is the show where our exceedingly rare single "Killing Myself To Live" (OOP on Stomach Ache Records, released in 1996) was recorded. We played the song two times in a row (even though I didn't realize it until we were about halfway into the performance which is why my guitar playing is even more screwed up and dischordant than usual but it's better that way.) It's the second take that made it to the single, though I think they work better listened to back-to-back. But I had nothing to do with putting that single out anyway so what does it matter...

You've seen this image already, of course. It's the basis for the cover of the Gilligan's Wings single. This historic document notes the first public performance of the Church Police and the last performance by the Maroons, the band that Bruce, Tim and I were in before forming the Church Police, though Tim had already quit by the time of this show.

He and Eric sat in the mostly empty bar harrassing Bruce and me and Ba, our bass player, though she was nice and a good musician and had some difficult personal issues due to the death of both her parents in a tragic car accident several years earlier so no one was ever really that mean to her.

Then, after the Maroons sunk into oblivion after that set, I put my guitar back on after watching Gaga Din and played a bunch of different songs and the Church Police began their too-brief and ill-managed career.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Art for Spastics Review

Scroll down to see the original:

Speaking of bands that tried to out-Flipper Flipper, the first to make a serious attempt might've been the Church Police, who rose briefly in the early 1980s from perhaps the most reviled of Bay Area edge cities, Concord, California. Most of the few people who know the band are only familiar with their contribution to the definitive Bay Area hardcore document, the Not So Quiet on the Western Front compilation. "The Oven Is My Friend" (later covered by Sebadoh on their Siltbreeze 7") was one of the two great weird songs to grace that LP (the other was Flipper's "Sacrifice"). Even fewer people noticed in the mid 1990s that the enigmatic Stomach Ache Records released a 7" (cooperatively with RRRecords) of rambling freer-form songs by the Church Police with minimal sleeve info. I stupidly sold that record away about six years ago, but "Robots" was a song so memorable that I can replay it in my mind whenever I think about it, and "Killing Myself to Live" might be the best song title ever.

I doubted that any other Church Police songs existed, so I was so pleased when Ry of Snake Apartment--who runs the very tasteful Skulltones imprint--delivered a copy of Gilligan's Wings in person to KDVS. These recordings from 1982 are of plenty good quality, and the songs are much more coherent than the rather rambly mysterious 7". Rumor has it that this is an appetizer for another label's full-course retrospective release.

A Negative Review

This is from the blog Fuck You, Counselor:

Call me a cynical Northerner (read: a Northerner), but Skulltones is pretty over--and I don't mean that in a carny/pro-wrestling way--right?. I mean, they're finished, washed-up & 86'ed. I generally mount up on anything Tom Lax gets his mitts on, but I guess I missed the Der TPK debutante ball. I had the directions straight, but apparently my feet thought better.
So here we are. Another Jewelled Antler-sponsored drunk-in-the-studio one-off to be consumed by 8 people who all know each other. To the credit of the whole JA crew, they's got a sense of humor their peers oughta envy. I'd much rather give 16-minutes to something that at the very least sounds like a blast to make than something that sounds like it's supposed to have been "a really intense trip, man. We totally got out there. Really stretching and reaching through some doors." That is, if it's going to suck about 5 different ways regardless. Which this mostly does. "Life is Fun" is the best delirious wastoid rumble never to be on a Footprints of God 7"--for whatever it's worth. Kind of like the Bunnybrains doing German Oak. Yeah. There's my press release quote, Skulltones. Dine and be merry, for tomorrow you're boots. For rill.



Here's what the Fusetron website has to say about the Gilligan's Wings single:

"A fantastic collection of unreleased recordings from northern California, 1982. You may recall their contribution "The Oven Is My Friend" as on of the most memorable tracks on the Not So Quiet On The Western Front compilation. This single picks up where that left off-thick downer punk with stumbling drums and a thick plodding bass wall march the songs forward in slow motion. Layered on top, the guitar lines add a sort of meandering melody, bending and detuning in wild synchronicity with the psychedelic deadpan vocals. The material holds its own against Flipper (whom CP played with), Negative Trend, and foreshadowed the mid-to-late-80s SST sound. Limited to 300 copies." - Skulltones. Highly recommended!!


This morning I noticed that the Church Police have a biography on the Last.FM website. It was not sufficiently informative in my opinion so I wrote this one to replace it. I'm posting it here so that if the website admins deny it or edit it for length, I won't lose the text.

Church Police were an highly experiential (not experimental, since they never applied any theories or hypotheses to their music) punk band from Concord, California. They had a track on the "Not So Quiet On The Western Front" compiliation, which was released on Alternative Tentacles in 1982. This track was pulled from the band's one and only professional studio recording session. Other tracks from that same session have surfaced on the internet over the years. Two limited edition 7" EPs were released decades after the recordings were first produced. In 1996, Stomach Ache Records released the tracks "Killing Myself To Live," "Jarhead," "Bag Of Lumps," "Robots" and "The Red Glow." In 2007, Skulltones released "Gilligans Wings," b/w "Gourmet Cooking" and "Life Is Fun."

The Church Police were formed in 1980 when singer Tim Gallaher and drummer Eric Lundmark wrote a bunch of lyrics one afternoon. Afterward, either that same day or within a day or two, they showed the lyrics to guitarist Dave Blakeslee. The three of them got together and bashed out the rudimentary tunes and rhythms that would constitute most of the Church Police repertoire over the next two years of the band's existence. The band derived its name from a Monty Python skit. Eventually, bassist Bruce Gauld joined the group because he had a good amp and the most actual musical talent of anyone interested in joining the group.

The Church Police were one of the earliest underground punk bands to emerge from suburbia. The band performed their first live gig at the Sound of Music, a cheap, sleazy and accessible club in San Francisco's Tenderloin district, in the fall of 1980. An amateur studio recording was made around that same time at Diablo Valley College, in which the band's guitars were plugged directly into the sound board because live electrical performances would have been too loud and disruptive to the nearby classes. Only the drums were mic'ed. A cassette recording of this session began circulating through the San Francisco scene, gaining particular favor with two bands who had identified themselves as "pet rock" bands: Animal Things and Flipper. The Church Police, mainly through Bruce's persistence, were able to land weeknight gigs at the Sound of Music with some regularity. One particularly memorable show occurred when Bruce Loose, lead singer of Flipper, made his enthusiastic appreciation of the band highly visible by dancing wildly in front of the stage as they performed. This convinced many trendies in the audience to consider the Church Police "cool." Even though their musical abilities were lacking, they had a unique stage presence and represented something fresh and unpredictable within the local punk community.

A series of musical and personal adventures followed. The band performed at many clubs that have become part of San Franscico's musical lore and legend, including the Mabuhay Gardens (where they were eventually blacklisted for "disruptive performances"), the On Broadway, the Club Foot, Barrington Hall, and elsewhere. The Church Police became known as young proteges of Flipper for awhile, though the two bands only played a handful of shows on the same bill. They opened for the Dead Kennedys, Black Flag and (unofficially) Throbbing Gristle.

The band broke up on at least two occasions due to conflicts between band members and complications arising from drug abuse, financial hardships and disorganization when it came to actually being a band. The final dissolution took place in early 1983 when Dave left the San Francisco area and eventually moved back to his home town of Grand Rapids, MI. The four members went on to live stable and productive lives and contribute in various ways to the on-going betterment of society.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

New Reviews

Tim keeps googling "Gilligans Wings" and finding stuff! Here are two review blog-sites that gave our new record a spin and apparently liked it... at least that's how I'm interpreting their comments.

Still Single/Dusted Magazine

Forked Tongue/Apples and Heroin

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Soaring One Note Guitar Solo Leads the Way

Here's a review of the new Church Police 7" single, Gilligan's Wings. Not likely to be available at a store near you, but maybe I can hook you up with a copy once I get my shipment in...

Friday, June 1, 2007

Record Cover (Preview)

I just got this via email this morning. The "new" (recorded in 1982) Church Police single, "Gilligan's Wings" will be released fairly soon, and here's what the cover will look like.

The graphic images, those medieval woodcuts of freaks and monstrosities, are the same as what I used to make the poster for the very first Church Police live performance back in September 1980. Though we just used plain white paper, not that vivid pumpkin orange that was selected for this release.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Fan Letter

From Maximum Rock'n'Roll Magazine Issue #2 (1982):


... Thanks for the Church Police interview. They're a great band (even if they've never sent me the tape I sent away for.) A strange thing happened at the show in Walnut Creek. Tim said, "You know, Circle Jerks, AC/DC, they're all the same." After that, he was unhip and people spat, threw stuff, and flipped him off in his face. If we aren't open-minded as a group, people oughta call us short-haired hippies.Tim could've gotten up there and said, "AC/DC sucks, Circle Jerks rule" and the people would've loved him though he was using George Thoroughgood appeal... He has guts...

Napa, CA

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Maximum Rock'n'Roll, Issue #1 article

Here's the full text of an article that appeared in the first regular issue of Maximum Rock'n'Roll magazine. (Issue #0 was an insert in the double-album compilation Not So Quiet On The Western Front.)

Written by Eric Bradner.

The Church Police are Walnut Creek, a suburban paradise of spacious malls and Taco Bells. The vacancy of their environment is suitable yeast for the mold of their songs. In the beginning, Eric said he wanted the Church Police to be the most depressing band ever. In the eyes of many, they've succeeded.

Bruce: It rules. I don't understand all these San Francisco people who are afraid to go beyond the Caldecott Tunnel. The East Bay is really where it's at if you want calm craziness.
Tim: Well, it's not that great. It's kind of boring.
Bruce: It's boring but it rules.

A cold night in San Francisco, and Tim [singer] is telling his version of the creation myth of the Church Police.

Tim: One day at this show in Concord I said "I'm gonna start a band called the Church Police. Who wants to be in it?" Eric was standing around and...
Eric [drums]: We had a bass. Bruce had a bass amp and we didn't.
Max R-R: Is that the only reason you used him?
Eric: Basically.
Tim: I wanted to be the frontman. That was the real reason behind the group, because at the time I was drumming for the Maroons. Bruce and Dave formed that band when we were all going to [Diablo Valley] College. I first saw Dave walking down the steps of the administration building wearing these red pants. I said "this guy looks like a jerk." Then later on we went to Bruce's writing class once and you did that thing called "The Chair."
Dave [me, guitar]: Oh Jesus.
Bruce [bass]: We're going to embarrass Dave.
Tim: This was written before anybody knew anybody.
Dave: I left my stepmom's chair out in the rain and she got pissed and I wrote a poem about it.
Tim: I happened to go into this writing class...
Dave: I had problems.
Tim: And there was this guy doing this thing called "The Chair." We all thought it was real stupid. We did.

The Church Police recently reunited after an overly long period of non-activity, which caused much speculation as to the reality of their existence. But they never really broke up because they never officially got together. For awhile, Dave and Tim didn't play - they felt they had "better things to do." That's all over now. Tim and Dave are back from Mexico and ready to play.

Tim: We went to the Gulf of Mexico, the Yucatan and the Mayan ruins. It was a literary journey, 'cause I read lots of books. Do you know why it was inspiring? Down in Mexico we kept saying, Fuck, what're we doing here? We should be in San Francisco, practicin' and playin' shows.
Dave: The center of the universe, San Francisco man.
Tim: Whe we were driving through Texas, Arizona, Mexico, we kept saying "All these people here are morons. They don't know anything." These restaurants in Arizona had these pamphlets that are kind like religion but kinda like Burroughs control systems. The control system is something that you're sucked into as you get older, go to College and GET A JOB which pays like 20-30 thousand a year increasing by 3 thou a year.
Eric: Hey Tim, wouldn't you rather be making 20 thousand a year than fuckin' 3 dollars and 50 cents or whatever?
Tim: But Eric, what would you say if they tell you if you do this you gotta quit the band, and you gotta quit writin'. If you get a telephone operator job, or like a PG&E job, they want you to go home and not even do nothing.
(Bruce comes back from the bathroom.)
Bruce: What are you talking about? I work as a receiving clerk for this company that makes buttons and trim and I also deliver stuff.
Eric: I work at Accumation, this tax place, putting taxes together. Like, I could fuck people up, but I don't know who I'm fucking up. I can't take no money.
Dave: I'm unemployed and proud of it.
Tim: I'm unemployed right now too.
Eric: No way! You work at that shitty little place.
Tim: I went in there the other day and said, "I'm back" and they said...
All: Who cares?
Dave: That's OK, we both read Henry Miller, we both want to be bums.
Tim: Yeah, literary bums.
Dave: No, just bums.

Tim: Remember when we played that Throbbing Gristle show? Will, from Flipper, said to come early and play. They said, "Use our equipment. It's cool." We went there and Ian said, "You guys can't play, get the fuck outta here."
Dave: Ted's guitar hung down to my knees.
Tim: Then later those big bouncers they had with the long hair and beards were trying to beat Dave up.
Dave: They stomped me pretty good.
Eric: When?
Dave: At Throbbing Gristle.
Eric: No way.
Tim: You wanna bet? You just sat upstairs and smoked pot, but when Flipper was playing we were running across the stage.
Dave: Some fat guy stomped on my foot.
Tim: And later Ward goes, "Hey, let's rip out their sink." So we did. We went back in about 20 minutes and the whole bathroom was in, like, 3 inches of water.

It's March 6, 1982, and the Church Police are scheduled to play with the Dead Kennedys in, of all places, Walnut Creek. It's the great take-it-to-the-suburbs tour, with the local boys finally playing on home turf. The crowd is groundbreakingly stupid, and go to outrageous extremes to show how "punk" they are. Hey, there's no convenient war, so let's pretend, kids! It's mainly composed of made-up suburban kids posing in an obnoxious manner which they suppose qualifies them for some kind of rebel status.

Unfortunately, along with their lack of humor comes a lack of originality, which negates taking any of their copycat antics seriously. The Church Police play and everyone stares woodenly. What is this shit, man? We thought this was gonna be a punk rock show. To put it lightly, the Church Police are not your garden variety thrash band. Not knowing what to do with this strange emanation, the crowd takes the easy way out and snarls its hate. They spit, yell, make gestures, throw things, hit - you know, your typical Type A look-in-your-punk-textbook-do-I-look-mean-enough bullshit. The band reacts in an exemplary manner and just goes about their business. After all, they were asked to play, no one asked the crowd to come and make trouble. And 'twas surely a loutish crew. I mean, ready to kill. They really loved the band (even if they wouldn't see it that way) simply because they hated them so much. Finally the Church Police were pulled off stage, which was wise. I would like to see them play again. Their steadfast behavior at this show again proves the motto: Church Police is God. Church Police is Disco.

Max R-R: Are the Church Police a fun band?
Bruce: Always never fun.
Dave: I think at our shows you have to take notes to really appreciate them.
Bruce: PARTY!

New blog, old band.

The Church Police were a band that I was a member of from 1980 until 1982. This blog is dedicated to preserving their memory, using the scant artifacts that are in my personal files. As time goes on, perhaps the recollections of others will find their way into this repository.