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.