Friday, May 29, 2015
1984 U.S. tour report - written by Chris BCT from memory 2003. Reworked in 2014.
If you have any pictures, flyers, reviews or memories of this tour your input is very welcome at: email@example.com
My brother in law, Ron, (I'm still married to his sister these 21 years later, thank you, thank you) (Oops. We got divorced after 27 years but remain close friends) was on a bus coming from the Midwest back to San Diego and sat next to an Italian who told him about a new wave/punk magazine in Italy, Rockarilla. So, we wrote to that magazine since we didn't know how to contact any other foreign zine at the time and bought a very small ad in one issue, maybe for $3. It turns out Syd of CCM saw the ad asking for bands for compilations for BCT and he suggested to Roberto Schavio of Flowers of Grain label (was that the name of the label back then? I forget) about in 1981. So Roberto Schavio sent us about four comps of various Italian punk bands to use for our new tape comp label, Bad Compilation Tapes (Borderless Countries Tapes) in 1982. They were 2 90's and a 60 as I recall. We (my old and first BCT partner, Dave) and I listened to the tapes and heard for the first time brilliant Italian HC. We used about half of the material he sent, focusing on only releasing music that sounded great. Also, Antonio, then bass of CCM, came with a friend from Italy who spoke no English, to visit the U.S. and us in San Diego about December 7, 1983. He brought with him the tapes of the Last White Christmas gig in Pisa, Italy which was a punk gig with about nine bands from December 4, 1983. The GDHC, an Italian punk collective who put it on wanted BCT to release the material as a comp. Together, we got busy and did that. Dave and I were very impressed with most of the bands and most of all with RAW POWER. Musically they stood out from even the other still great sounding bands like WRETCHED, INDIGESTI, EU'S ARSE, IMPACT, CHEETAH CHROME MOTHERFUCKERS, RAPPRESAGLIA, PEGGIO PUNX, TIRITUTA LIMITATA, 5° BRACCIO, STAZIONE SUICIDA, PUTRID FEVER, etc. I mean, those are some great bands. RAW POWER seemed to have a musical presence where they sorta jumped outta the tapes we had, partly the unique cowbell the drummer blended perfectly into the music, partly the amazing screaming vocals on some of the songs and the strength of the songs themselves. (To me, that screaming vocalist who is on only a few of their songs, is the finest screaming punk vocalist ever. He wasn't able to make the '84 tour so Davide replaced him and did an admirable job of replacing his scream live and on Screams From the Gutter lp. These years later, 2014, what I remember is that CCM and WRETCHED also jumped out at us. In fact, my favorite record of all time is the BCT release of this gig, the volume ll with CCM. Those tracks are, to me, the finest music ever released by human beings.)
We made 2 60 minute BCT comps, Music on Fire and Ahhh... with those tapes. However, once the LWC tapes arrived, we realized that, together with the Brown Studio '83 demo tape and the LWC live set, we could do a full tape of Raw Power. So, we did. As it turns out, of our 27 tapes, that is the one that sold the most over the years. I stopped selling BCT tapes in the late 90's but Social Napalm and Veltved continue to this day to sell them, still for $4!! I wonder if they also find that the Raw Power tape is the one that sells the most? Just as we were finishing it, somewhere we got hold of a 3 song '84 demo of Raw Power and added it to the tape.
So, in correspondence with Roberto - this was pre-Internet days so all correspondence was by international mail - Roberto mentioned that RAW POWER wanted to tour the U.S. Dave and I had zero experience doing anything like that. I had helped put on 2 shows locally but that was it. Nothing like a tour of the U.S. So we began to talk to RAW POWER by mail and then by phone and it slowly developed. Early 1984 I think we were running ads in MRR about the coming tour up to 1/2 page size for a coupla issues. So we then arranged the U.S. tour by phone from San Diego. The tour ended up being from July 30 to September 7, 1984. I'm not sure when we realized it but all along there had been some UK bands that had played the U.S. I don't know how many of them actually toured the U.S. but several, the Exploited, UK Subs, GBH and Discharge, had apparently been flown out by Goldenvoice to L.A. to do a big show there, often at the Olympic Auditorium, an old boxing arena that could and did have 5,000 punx for a gig, and then they would have them do a show in Santa Barbara and in San Diego. Ingenious and great for us in San Diego. But, we realized that, aside from them, there had been no European punk bands that had toured the U.S. yet. When I told Vote Vasko, the main Finnish punk connected to the punk world, about our upcoming tour he asked us to bring Rattus. We were excited. Then they couldn't make it so he said Riistetyt. We were excited about that. As it turns out, Riistetyt was in the midst of changing to Holy Dolls and we didn't know that. But, historically then Raw Power and Riistetyt, along with B.G.K. from Holland who independently toured the U.S. in '84 as well and played with us at the August 10 Olympic International gig, were the first 3 non UK HC bands to tour the U.S.
The magazine Book Your Own F'in' Life had issue #1 printed about 1985. In fact, in the inside of the back cover of #1 you will find a note in the middle of an article from me giving advice about how to do a good punk tour. "Don't forget to change your underwear at least once and don't take any candy from strangers". That was fun. In 2003 Michele from Italy encouraged me to write these memories and this article was first edited for his Webzine La Baciarlata. He's got stuff in Italian and English. It's a another of the many great world punk sites. Yow.
So, during the first months of 1984 I spent time on the phone tracking down local punx in different cities in the U.S. to put on a local gig for us. I don't remember how I found them. Well, some through MRR and some I knew already from being so active in punk rock and, come to think of it, about 20 years younger so I had more energy. Humm. (I was 29 then 30 for the tour while most punx were younger. Elder, the drummer was 17. The rest of the guys were early 20's.) Most I contacted had bought BCT tapes. I wrote to them because they lived in the cities we wanted to tour in. We just tried to work out a tour schedule that made sense geographically. Considering they arrived and left from New York I guess driving across to California and back to New York actually made some sense. We finally figured out we couldn't get to the Northwest or the Southeast. Of course, there was no Internet. We tried to make a tour schedule that was sensible. I think we ended up avoiding any back tracking. In the end I flew to NYC from San Diego and met the band there. I had been in letter and phone contact with them as the tour was being formed. The phone lines were not always good so there was sometimes some information drop outs much less the greater difficulty of the language difference. When RAW POWER arrived in NYC they barely brought anything to sell on the tour because they did not think the tour was going to happen due to the various hassles of arranging passports on time and setting up gigs. They only brought 5 copies of You Are the Victim LP. I took home two and at the Berkeley gig Keith Morris bought one. What the guys did do was completely take care of their flights to and from America. It was a great way for them to visit the U.S., the all punk tour. Little did I realize then that they would go on to incessantly tour the U.S., '85, '87 and on. I saw them again twice. I saw them in San Marcos, just north of San Diego, with the Angry Samoans in 2001. I think Mauro was the only original member still with the band. It was GREAT to see him again. There is no question that we had built a bond during the '84 tour that will last a lifetime. The RP guys were totally honorable, polite, fun and it was just amazing to me to see them ordinary guys during the day while we drove miles and miles to the next gig and as we stopped here and there to eat or something and then at the gig they're taking care of business, setting up and then they explode on stage all night. RP caused zero problems. They were workers. Helpful. Real punx. Never a burden. Cousre, when 2 of them left to Mexico without saying anything in El Paso, and Mexico, Ciuidad Juarez was just down the street, that was kinda wild. But they came back, no problem.
Mauro spoke fluent English because he was living in England at the time. Davide spoke pretty darn good English, Helder spoke a little English and Dode and Giuseppe basically only spoke punk, "gig, MINOR THREAT, guitar etc". I spoke about a hundred words in Spanish and they understood every single Spanish word I used as the two languages are very similar. We only stayed in two hotels. The first night in NYC we did. Also in Iowa where we had no gig but it was a no gig night and we were in the middle of America driving from NYC to L.A. so we rented a tiny cottage in the middle of nowhere. Half slept in the van, half on everything possible in the cottage, floor, bed, mattress taken off the bed, cushions taken off the couch, bare couch. It was very nice to have a bathroom which was always a welcome amenity.
The tour almost did not happen because we did not have transportation arranged. I thought I could simply rent a van and go. It was not that simple. Me and two of the guys went to a local rental agency and said we were part of a high school reunion locally. For some reason, I guess I'm a bad liar, they wouldn't rent to us. I still don't know why, but I brought a credit card on the tour. For emergencies. The credit card both saved the tour and busted my financial chops. I had done the math and we needed to have a certain amount of money come in, on average, per show, for it all to come out even. What I hadn't figured on was the high cost of the van rental and fixing the engine of a van someone loaned us. I ended up renting a van from Hertz. It was due back about August 22nd. So we came up with a plan that I would leave with the van after the Oklahoma City gig and drive it back to NYC to return it and then fly to Chicago to rejoin the tour which I did. The Hertz staff were shocked because we had put about 8,000 miles on the van or something and we had taken it to very nearly the limit that they let their vans go to before they sold them. Ha.
I regret I didn't ask the five people who video taped five or six (if you count the partial video of the recording of the 'Screams' LP) of the shows for video tape copies. Particularly because RAW POWER was so great musically and on for each gig. It was a true punk rock highlight and it woulda been good if it had been documented better. I wasn't thinking in terms of documenting, I was just trying to get the tour on its feet and completed successfully, which, actually, it was in the real sense that 24 gigs happened and lots of people went home happy as a result including me and the band.
One thing I would have done differently is set up more shows. Mostly we had shows for every Friday and Saturday night and most Sundays and Thursdays but almost never on a Monday or Tuesday. I see that when RAW POWER played in 2001 they had 16 shows in 16 days. It's much wiser use of an overseas band's time. But me and Dave were complete rookies at doing this so we made a few blunders. That was one of them. During the tour Dave left BCT and during the tour I spent time in phone contact with my wife Davelle, who helped us coordinate some tour activities. Not all the gigs were finalized by the time the tour started. It began July 29th and ended September 7th, 24 shows in 40 days. Some of the last gigs were still arranged while we were already on the road. I also wish now that I'd asked each local punk who put on the show for a copy of the flyer and see if they could soundboard record the set, that I'd a brought a camera, maybe rented a video camera which were usually pretty bulky back then and written down or recorded a journal of the events as they happened. But, that's spilt milk. If yer a punk I highly recommend you go on a tour a day, a week, a month, whatever you can. Maybe you can benefit from this hindsight. There was a little sense of unsureness. I learned to appreciate my home and neighborhood more. I realized that what I knew made me feel safe. Not that the tour wasn't safe. It's just the unknown opened up the possibility of anything. Actually, I think punx are, almost as a whole, some of the best group of yoots usually, that I've seen over the years. It's still true. Turns out, there was no danger. Heck, RAW POWER ended up coming back to tour the U.S. another 8 times. (Only they know how many times they've toured the U.S. and the rest of the punk world by 2014!). I think they got addicted cuz it wasn't for money. It was the pure pleasure. You could tell.
1) So at the first gig, Monday July 30th in Boston at the Paradise Theatre with PSYCHO and MARGINAL MAN. I realized during the show that with the 150 or so punx there and the coupla hundred we made from that gig, that it was impossible for us to come close to breaking even on the tour. I realized I was going to lose several thousand dollars. I experienced true depression for the first time in my life. I was laying down on the floor between two rows of seats in the theatre and just very very sad, knowing that my wife, who is not into punk but was supportive of my punk activities and passion, was going to be part of this big financial loss. I phoned her that evening and shared the mathematical news with her. She kept her calm. I was pleased. Meanwhile, in a few weeks I slowly go got over the financial loss part of the tour and enjoyed more and more the honor and privilege of seeing RAW POWER live 24 times. The Paradise is a theater so that was the seating right up to the stage. PSYCHO has about 15 songs on about three BCT tapes so I was very familiar with them. Great to see 'em live for the first time. I believe they arranged this show for us. I have no memory of MARGINAL MAN. Sometimes I missed opening bands cuz I was busy taking care of all kinds of things, hooking up with the people running the place, getting settled at the club, taking care of the van and our stuff, working with this person and that on the tour to work out this communication problem or detail. I'll never forget being so depressed cuz I realized I was gonna lose thousands. But it's remained the lowest point of my life and the tour definitely helped me let it go cuz seeing RAW POWER live 21 times (I missed those three shows in the Midwest driving to NYC and the San Diego show at my wife's insistence - I love being married! and, despite getting divorced, if we had to, it's been great to have a very positive divorce with very honorable dealings with her since, always.) was and continues to be one of the single greatest live musical highlights of my music-listening life. I picked up on some straight edge presence at the show amongst some of the punx there. This first show gave me a feeling of how the whole tour might be and the kidz were great, as with virtually all punk situations I've been in for 20 years (I guess it's 24 now) 95% or so of the punx are cool and helpful and cooperative and generally more intellectual even and aware of politics and above average great and about 5% or less are, uh, not. I encountered very very little problems with punx at any of the cities on this tour. Maybe zero. I'm trying to remember and can't really remember any problem from punx at the gigs. Not one. The one problem from a promoter was the Detroit promoter not paying us was which was, of course, a pain. What we learned right away was that ya gotta sleep somewhere and there wasn't any money for hotels so we always (except 2 nights) slept in living rooms of some nice local punk. This was our first night at some guy's apartment. Just having access to a bathroom and some sorta room that wasn't the van was plenty for us. I was amazed and pleased with the hospitality of punx throughout the country to do this.
There was no equipment brought from Europe. So the band borrowed the amps and microphones of bands that were playing the show that night in each city. I had to ask Davide a few times to be careful not to blow out the amps as he seemed to go to some volume extremes at times. But it ended up working out fine with no equipment getting broken during the tour. Of course the boys brought their own guitars and Helder brought a big 'ol Italian cowbell. I hope this RP book has a picture of the bell. Like scratch and sniff, there should be like a cowbell sound in the book! Actually, I hope there's an accompanying cd/dvd maybe. Wot a great sound. What's funny is the cowbell totally fits in. It's clearly not made for being in a punk band but Helder works it perfectly. It enhances their HC sounds beautifully. He tried to get access to double bass drums whenever possible. He is still the best live drummer I have ever heard.
2) The second gig was in Easthampton, MA, Tuesday July 31st. I appear to have no memory of this gig. We ended up in Connecticut and I don't remember if we had a gig there. Looks like there probably was, I am getting details on it. That would have been Wednesday August 1st. The state was full of forests. I had never been to the East Coast and haven't since. It was a treat to see my own country during this tour. Each scene had it's own flavor. The Connecticut punx mostly wore t-shirts and jeans and some with short pants with less of the punk get-ups. The gig was in an American Foreign Legion hall which they have one in probably every American city. Like it's Veterans of Foreign Wars.
We only had one cancellation, Washington D.C. That show never materialized. We waited in an idilic woodland home of the parents of some local Connecticut punk for two days to see if word of the D.C. show was going to happen. It did not. But that time in the forest was a very nice one. I was 30, Mauro was 23, Giuseppe was 27, Davide was 20, Dode was 26 and Helder was 17. I spoke with the mom of the home. She agreed that most punx she met through her son were very nice people and all she had to do was learn to get past the wild looks of punx. Tho, RP did not have leather jackets and spikes and mohawks.
3) The only show on a college campus was in Philadelphia, Friday, August 3rd. It was also about the smallest room. The punx went wild when RAW POWER played. An African American who called himself Mr. Video videotaped the gig and after the show showed it to us. He was all over the place. His taping was as wild and energetic as the show was. About 100 punx there. Unfortunately, about five of the shows were videotaped but we only got a copy from Flipside of the Olympic gig. And that was the only show where RAW POWER wasn't jumping all over the stage because it was so crowded with kids from the audience. A guy calling himself Mr. Video, an African American, video taped the show and showed us the video after the gig. It was done in a total chaotic manner.
4) Saturday August 4, in the big big NYC we actually asked from the stage if someone had a place for us to stay that night. In the end one of the band members of CIRCLE ONE volunteered his small apartment as I recall the name was, a band who played at the gig, there were six bands that night and the mic went out for Mauro's vocals. Only time that sort of thing happened the whole tour. This guy's apartment wasn't an apartment at all. He rented a basement. To call it a basement was overstating it. It was really the bottom of the building, a space that wasn't the ground. Half of it was full of pipes and the walls were bare bricks. I think he had some jerry rigged bathroom situation. Don't think tho we weren't happy to be there. Any place was better than all of us stuck in a van. It was so small that half the guys, there were 13 all together, had to sleep in the van. He told us we needed to lock the hood of the van. None of us understood what he was talking about. We managed to and in the middle of the night the guys in the van said that some local citizens harassed them and apparently you lock the hood because people may steal your battery. The good part was that he lived right in Manhattan just a few blocks from the site of the gig which had maybe 400 mostly punx but also maybe 100 skinheads, the most at any gig on the tour. They seemed to be peaceful. Or, at least, I didn't detect any fights. The gig was at some large hall. I'm sure CORROSION OF CONFORMITY played that gig. I think six bands all together played that night. I remember seeing during the tour that COC toured criss crossing the whole country all over that year. I'm pretty sure there was at least one other gig played with them on the tour. And I'll always remember that they never sounded better, on record or from any other live tapes I've heard of them from any other year.
One of the things that really surprised me about New York was that the state was mostly forest and NYC almost rose out of the forest like a huge vision. Traffic was horrid. And we experimented just for about one or two days with renting a U-Haul trailer to give us more room in the van. I drove the van with the attached trailer in the thick NYC traffic and I still don't know how I did it without hitting anything. Oddly, none of us felt safe, even being a big group. NYC just seemed to have a dangerous vibe to all of us. We bought a few giant pretzels from street vendors and discovered bums who would try to clean your windshield, I think dirtying it first, for cash. We stopped and had a snack. It was muggy summer. I bought an Italian ice and ate it in half a minute. I got ill, queezy, and suddenly it seemed to be more clear that it was good for someone to be around who could keep things together. The RAW POWER boys were terrific. They were polite and generous and helpful. They had to eat three times a day and only those three times. None was overweight and through that eating habit they taught me a lesson how so many of us Americans don't eat sensibly and many of us get fat. Oddly, I thought, they didn't care for Mexican food, which we got on the West Coast. Giuseppe in particular thought it was awful.
The whole tour we traveled mostly in the middle of the night and worked it so most of the guys were generally sleeping but made sure the driver always had one guy in the front passenger seat who stayed awake to keep him alert and help navigate. We didn't have any traffic accidents. This way, we arrived in the day time at the local punk promoter's house or directly to the site of the show and it left us some room to get lost and get found and we had fewer places we needed to stay at since we slept in the van while on the road for probably about 20 of the nights.
5) After a few east coast shows we drove across country for the International Gig at the Olympic Auditorium Friday the 10th. in downtown L.A. put on by Goldenvoice. A few days before we arrived we were in the middle of America somewhere and running out of money. So I called the Goldenvoice guy and he Western Unioned us some money in advance of our take from that gig. The DEAD KENNEDYS headlined and there was REAGAN YOUTH from New York, SNFU of Canada, SOLUCION MORTAL from Tijuana. The flyer says BGK was there, not SNFU. My memory says differently but I'll never know. I think BGK has said recently they were there. Either way, I missed hearing them. Bummer. It was the biggest punk gig I had or have ever seen, about 5,000 punx. It went pretty darn well too. At that gig on stage Jello was bumped into by some punk and it injured his leg so at the San Diego show the next night he was in some leg brace with crutches. If you see the Flipside video of RP from that gig you'll see that there were kids on the stage their entire set. It was the only show like that on the tour. I'm not sure if RP knew what to do to deal with it or if they didn't mind but they just kept playing while kidz whizzed by them then entire set. The giant L.A. show had 5 pits going at once and I didn't see any fights. I forget how much money we made from that gig but it was like the equivalent of most of the rest of the tour's gigs combined, maybe $1,000 all together. When we first arrived in L.A. someone from the band was driving and we came over the mountains and suddenly the vast spread of L.A. came into view. The guys had never seen anything like it and we had to pull over so I could do the driving cuz none of them could imagine driving in something like that giant metropolis, which, of course, I was used to having grown up in San Diego and driving in L.A. many times.
I remember I called my older cousin who lived in Huntington Beach with her husband and about 10 year old son while we were still in Las Vegas. I asked her if we could stay over night for one night. It ended up being the place we stayed while we were in L.A. She had all 13 of us stay in her son's bedroom with him not in it. Whenever I see her now I ask her, 'Can I bring over some punx?' and she always laughs and give a fake panic and says, 'NO WAY!' But it was a pleasant stay it was just a visual and large group surprise for her.
6) We drove to San Diego and had the gig there Saturday the 11th. It was packed, maybe 300 punx. Jello Biafra was on crutches from some punk running into him on stage at last night's gig. While in San Diego we decided to go with Luis Guaena, a great Tijuana punk promoter, to Mexico for some fun and to maybe hook up with some of the very cool Tijuana punx cuz unfortunately, the gig we'd tried to arrange there never materialized. When we went we forgot that the passports that were worked on by some people in New York that I do the paperwork for the RAW POWER passports, had not gotten the passports fully completed for all five guys. So, after we were done with our nice Tijuana visit as we drove back across to the U.S. at the border, the U.S. Customs would not allow Davide and one other RAW POWER guy back into the U.S. It was the second and only other great time I essentially panicked during the tour. I had no idea what was going to happen and if the two guys would ever be able to get back into the U.S., at least on time to play the next scheduled gig. Fortunately, Luis was an outstanding host and put up the guys at his grandma's home as I recall in downtown Tijuana. Then when I drove back to San Diego with the other three members of the band the Customs guy didn't ask for anyone's papers this time! so we could have simply driven back with no problems if the other two guys had been with us! However, the next day the band went to a Mexican consult office to work out the problem. There was a long long line of over 100 Mexicans waiting patiently. We told some of the people in the line our situation and they all let us go to the front of the line. All 100 people. It was an amazing act of generosity. The Mexican officials fixed the problem because I was able to get the final paperwork from New York and so our biggest misadventure of the tour was solved nicely. But now I knew was great despair and panic was for the first time in my life. I'm glad to this day it had a happy ending. When RAW POWER played Adams Avenue Theatre in San Diego with the DEAD KENNEDYS my wife wouldn't let me attend the gig and had me come home, just a coupla miles away, to bathe and be with her a bit. We'd been married 3 years at that point. She still says that I was more dirty and disheveled when she first saw me after just 9 days on the tour, that, well, I was filthy. I don't think it was that bad. Today my wife says she remembers the inside of that van and how it smelled. What smell? I would always go to my P O Box daily when I could cuz I was spending about 30 hours a week doing BCT from about 1983 to about 1986. I took Davide with me to the post office and he sees this line of people politely waiting to see the clerk. He asked what we were doing saying that in Italy there's a big crush of people trying to get seen first.
7) I have 15 tapes from the 24 shows. One of them is labeled San Francisco, Mabuhay Gardens 8-17-84, a Friday, so it must have happened but I have absolutely zero memory of it. Also, according to the MRR info ad we took out that week we were supposed to be on MRR radio but that never materialized. Dunno why. While in San Francisco we met two guys from Trust magazine from Germany. I forget their names at the moment but they asked if they could join the tour and as they were great guys, we said fine. They joined us for about four shows and stayed on in Oklahoma City as I recall.
8) There's a flyer for a gig with Raw Power and Riistetyt along with RKL for the Red Barn in I.V. I can't tell from the flyer what city it was in. Fresno? But it's from August 12 so it fits right in with the tour schedule. However, I had no memory of it in 2003 and certainly not now in 2014. But, if the flyer exists, it's likely it happened. Tho, it does sometimes happen that a gig is on a flyer but it never happens. Maybe someone was there and can tell us? I dunno. A mystery lost to memory.
9) We had a gig scheduled in Berkeley Saturday the 18th for the Eastern Front Festival. It was the only one of two outdoor gigs on the tour and only daytime gig of the tour. I recently found a flyer of that gig: Circle Jerks, Beasty Boys, F.U.'s, Sluglords, Iron Cross, Stranglehold, Special Forces and Neighborhood Watch. It was on the west side of the city in a green park right along water just across the freeway from the San Francisco Bay. I think there were about 300 to 500 punx there. As always RAW POWER was well appreciated. Don't forget, there had been no non-UK punk band to ever tour the U.S. until 1984 with this tour and BGK of Holland who also toured the U.S. that same summer. And, one thing I've learned in life, quality will tell. That's why over the decades the bands that are mostly remembered and still around and wanted on CD, vinyl and tape, are the bands that sound good. With nothing to do with marketing or advertising. Pure punk rock man!
10) While at that Berkeley show we got our only added on show. An African American gal told us there was a gig she was putting on for that evening in Oakland in the warehouse district and she invited us to join that show. So we gladly did. There were about three or four other bands that evening. It was in some industrial building. It was the only show that Helder drank. Apparently, he was not used to drinking. He got roaring drunk and when it was time for RAW POWER to play two guys helped bring him by his arms and sat him onto his seat at his drum kit and somehow he managed to play the set. He seemed to warm up as the gig progressed and it looked like he was on automatic pilot, doing what he knew well how to do. Actually, I think it was the only time anyone got drunk on the entire tour. There was a little bit of pot smoking but no other drugs. I was glad because I knew anything more would only likely add to any difficulties.
11) The Las Vegas, NV show Tuesday the 21st, was put on by the older brother of a guy in VERMIN FROM VENUS who, I believe, played at that gig. I don't remember anyone doing any gambling. It was a surprising scene, who knew there were punx in Las Vegas? We had a chance to see the lower middle class section of the city probably where many casino workers lived. About 150 punx at that gig.
12) Wednesday the 22nd was a show in Phoenix, AZ. I don't remember the show but I do remember that RAW POWER really really wanted to see the Grand Canyon. So the tour split in two and they got to see it and we met back up in Phoenix. About 150 punx at that gig if I recall. The show was like in a rented store front in a small mall.
13) Tucson, AZ was a show Thursday the 23rd and USELESS PIECES OF SHIT were the main people. We stayed at their house which was like a band gone wild place, the most messy place we stayed. It was nice to have a place to stay but, uh, everyone in the band was sort of taken aback at how they lived. You know, with left over pizza in the bedrooms, beer cans around, a bathroom you aren't sure if yer catching something when yer using it. But great people. They, of course, played that show and were excellent. It was videotaped. I remember a gal from Tucson told me a few years later they would sit around and watch that tape sometimes. The gig was in a rented hall.
14) El Paso, TX with the RHYTHM PIGS Friday the 24th. Ed of that band put on the show. It was the smallest gig of the tour. Maybe 35 punx there. The trailer part of a big rig truck without the front part of the truck was the 'stage'. Only these bands played. It was outside the city. El Paso reminded me of Fresno (not that we had a gig there, we'd planned one for Fresno but I'm pretty sure it never occurred) as both seemed like the armpit of their states. Nice but, well, no real reason to be there I could see. This was actually the other outdoor gig because the bands played from the back of the truck trailer with the two big doors open while the punx listening stood on the ground in front of it. A nice clear night. That night we had what could have been a disaster. All during the tour I was a bit of a mother hen making sure that everyone stayed together and didn't wander off anywhere. Well, that night after the gig Davide and one other guy on the tour went with someone to Mexico which was just like 4 miles away. El Paso in Texas shares the U.S./Mexican border with the Mexican city of Ciudad Juarez and that's apparently where the guys went. No one had cell phones or pagers. We had no idea where they were or if or when we would ever see them again. As it turned out, it was no problem, they came wandering back after some good time visit in Mexico, I think early the next morning and barely in time to leave to the next city, I think.
15) Oklahoma City Monday the 27th, had a great vibe to the local scene. Like the other smaller scenes most punx seemed to generally know each other. We had a giant lightening storm that night and I've never before or since seen lightening big and bright and strong shoot directly into the ground. Fortunately, I wasn't near where it landed and I only hoped I wouldn't and I wondered why the locals didn't seem like chickens with their heads cut off worrying about it. But it passed and apparently, uneventfully. This was another of about 20 of the 40 nights that we got to spend at a punk's home. Really learned to appreciate basic bathroom access and a simple shower.
We miraculously ran into a couple, a guy and his Japanese American girlfriend who owned a big 'ol Buick and an old van. Just as we had to turn in the Hertz rental, they joined the tour and let us use those two vehicles for the rest of the tour. Essentially, they saved the last part of the tour. I can never thank them enough. They were very nice. However, the van engine blew up after half the time using it. So, I had to get it repaired, which I did and we went on. If I hadn't brought my credit card the tour would have ended there, much less renting the Hertz van.
16) I was not at these three shows so I don't know a thing about them in Kansas City, MO Tuesday the 28th.
17) Minneapolis, MN Wednesday the 29th.
18) And I always thought there were three gigs I missed so that other one would be Milwaukee, WI Thursday the 30th.
19) The show at Tuts in Chicago on Friday August 31st was, I believe, with 7 SECONDS. That evening we stayed at the small apartment of two metal heads who loved RAW POWER. It was in a huge single building of apartments. As we were ready to sleep Mauro asked me if I could ask the guys if we could turn off the TV. They said they never ever turned it off because it helped keep away burglars when they weren't there and they liked it on when they were. They let us turn it off that night. I think that was an evening where Davide found a friendly girl. He seemed eager to find such companionship whenever he could during the tour. I think he was the only guy to do that. Maybe one or two other guys had one or two dates during the whole rest of the tour. I mentioned to the guys while in we were on the road about that time about sexually transmitted diseases and Mauro joked saying we could call this tour the RAW POWER Disease Tour. Near the end of the tour I interviewed most of RAW POWER for about fifteen minutes. I don't remember where that tape deck came from but GTA ended up using 5 minutes of that interview on the Burn the Factory RAW POWER CD.
20) There was a show in Detroit Saturday September 1st. The promoter was the only non punk to put on a show for the tour, I believe. And he illegally sold alcohol to minors, very brazenly. The cops came and shut down the show just before it ended and we ended up not getting one cent from the promoter. It was at a small rock club. Detroit seemed dangerous, it had that vibe, but we didn't see anything that actually showed us it was dangerous.
21) Sunday the 2nd. We barely arranged for any lodgings before the tour so we were always asking the guy who put on the local show if he could find someone to put us up overnight. In some cases like Indinapolis we stayed over night with who put on the show, in this case, Paul Mahern. He lived in a lovely home with his wife and I think baby. His friend taped part of the recording of Screams from the Gutter which was recorded in the studio that Paul worked in and where his band the ZERO BOYS recorded. He showed me part of the video and I was so surprised because the band played sitting down while at every show they were jumping around, particularly Giuseppe, Dode and Davide while Mauro was very intense singing strongly into the mics. Davide did the screaming vocals for the 'Raw Power/Fuck Authority' songs. He was able to approximate the great screaming vocals of Silvio, the guy he replaced for the tour. The band only told me that Silvio couldnt' make the trip so they found Davide to take his place.
22) At the Jockey Club in Cincinnati Tuesday September 4th was actually across the river from Cincinnati in Newport, Kentucky. There were about 75 punx there that night. It was a fairly dreary neighborhood and the club was sorta big.
23) A college town, Morgantown, West Virginia Wednesday the 5th. This was maybe the most beautiful part of the country we went to. The people spoke slower, more relaxed I think than in California. And it was one of the best shows of the tour, I think, because the punx there were so good to us. I have a real bad back and I was able to do a bit of slamming at that show because the town was so small, the whole punk scene knew each other and they were able to have me slam while not letting me get hurt. The gig was during the early evening I think, I remember the windows had the sun coming in. It was the only soundboard recording we got from the tour besides the Newport show. Th' INBRED from Morgantown put on the show and played that gig. Very hospitable.
24) At the Electric Banana in Pittsburgh, PN on Thursday September 6th it was a small rock club. Big city.
25) And the final gig at Cleveland on Friday September 7th. During or just before their set the RAW POWER guys had a very verbal argument with Davide, very apparently about the few metal licks he had been adding in during the tour. The argument was completely in very fast Italian. They got over it as quickly as it erupted. I could tell the music, specifically Davide's guitar, was a bit more metal than they had from the You Are the Victim LP or from their Brown Studio demo or their Last White Christmas set from 12-4-83 which, really, barely had any flavor of metal at all really. Cleveland was a dirty industrial city with some redeeming features. It was a nice little show at a medium sized rock club.
I couldn't get over that the five guys were regular Italian young men, talking, enjoying themselves, having little verbal spats amongst themselves that lasted a coupla minutes, which all seemed very Italian, and then they'd get on stage and turn into this punk rock band that blew me away every single time I saw them. They suddenly shifted into this tight unit that knew exactly what they wanted to play and raced through each set. The speed and the fact there was a fuller sound with two guitars rather than just one seemed to please people. That and the band's clear pleasure, with facial expressions of being happy to be performing in America. Oddly, I've almost never ever heard Giuseppe's guitar, even after all those performances. It's one of the weirdest musical phenomenas I've ever experienced. Somehow his guitar sound was woven so deeply into the band's sound that I couldn't hear it individually. I think it's another reason they were so good.
I've been into punk rock since about 1979 and I've seen many hundreds of punk bands. The 23 shows I saw of RAW POWER were among some of the finest live performances I have ever seen. I saw them in 2001 and there was a flavor from the 1984 days. They played several songs from back then, with enthusiasm, as always. But the 1984 tour was the original. I could tell I was witnessing some of the best live punk ever. Maybe 100 x 23 = 2,300 and 5,000 at the Olympic so about 7,000 punx saw them on the 1984 tour. Unfortunately, as I mentioned, the L.A. gig did not allow them to be seen in the same physically active way they were at all the other gigs of the tour. You could tell the difference between them and many other live punk bands. They were tight. They had very little time between almost every song. They occasionally used a cowbell with it's own beautiful addition to the music, they had a 17 year old drummer who, especially when he had access to a double bass drum kit, was extrodinary, they had written songs that had substance and they delivered it live. Davide gave them something that was, well, not pleasing to me, though innocent, a sort of metal mentality of occasional metal licks and pushing his guitar forward in the air and flailing his toungue sometimes, but I think his theatrics pleased most of the punx at most of the shows. It was also clear to me that this was an unusual show for most punx just cuz it was a non U.S. or UK punk band. Very few had ever seen an Italian punk band. RAW POWER had gotten some notice by having their song 'Raw Power/Fuck Authority' studio version on an MRR compilation LP and then I believe on the Welcome to 1984 MRR compilation LP but the live version. I believe that people, just as we had, had noticed the wonderful screaming vocals, possibly the finest screaming singing of all time in punk rock, and the strong song structure which I've learned to appreciate more and more as I get older.
Mauro was usually shirtless and bellowed out the songs and gave a brief 'thank you' several times through each set. I never got an impression that the band felt like they were doing something over and over again. I believe they got some energy and feeling from each city and local punk who put on the show and each crowd. And, it was clear they were very excited about touring the U.S. When I spoke to Mauro and Giuseppe in 2001 they told me that this was their 9th U.S. tour but that the 1984 one was the best.
Dode was mild mannered, soft spoken and barely existed as a presence during the touring. He was very polite and smiling but pretty quiet. However, on stage he completely let loose. A coupla of the guys told me that in Italy during shows Dode jumped this much (with fingers showing me about one or two inches) but on this tour they see him jumping flailing his legs flying in the air.
The boys had a consistent humor about them. Whenever we had troubles of any kind, such as being lost temporarily or not knowing where we were going to stay that night, none of them ever paniced. They kept their calm and seemed to have a trust and confidence that things would work out and they certainly did every single time.
I don't have detailed reviews of each gig musically. I can say this, there was not a single gig that each band member did not go completely all out. I was surprised to see Mauro yelling into the mic at each gig. Heck, I saw him have the same intensity at the summer 2001 gig in San Diego, exactly. And Giuseppe, same, possibly more intensity somehow, in 2001. But all five guys went at it at every single gig full out. No holding back. I think they knew this was somethig special and they were determined to not act casually about it. They were generally happy and contented through the whole tour and I think one reason was because, as much as I felt a rush 24 of 40 nights watching this incredible band, and not getting bored after seeing show after show, and wanting to make my way to be able to see as much of each show as I could, even though I was busy doing tour guy stuff all night, it was clearly like an elixir for the band members to be there performing their songs for the U.S. kids. And every single show there was great welcome for them, possibly one around Phoenix where I noticed less than full appreciation for their music. That is, possibly at that gig I think I remember being a bit puzzled that most of the punx there didn't respond as strongly as all the other gigs. Heck, it may not even have been Phoenix. I forget. Welcome isn't so much the right way to put it. People were happy to see 'em when they first showed up but once they played the audience almost always got more and more into it cuz it was unrelenting and high quality punk rock so by the time the set was over, and they went around 45 minutes, different each show, the punx in attendance were enjoying the strong set. Somehow I also think RAW POWER's genuineness also came across. It was the classic punk approach, very little difference between the punk in the audience and the punk on stage. That old rock barrier didn't exist in that there was no huddling back stage or avoiding interacting with the kids at the gigs. Like most punk bands, even today I think, they were just other guys, not any kind of stars and, well, as you probably already know about punk yourself, it's one of the great things we get to enjoy about punkthat's missing in the big music business world. I've been going to punk gigs again locally in the last coupla years and the same lack of 'we're different from you cuz we're in a band' continues to exist. Makes me happy. Makes me realize punk is actually really still quite alive. I remember many conversations with many of the local punx who put on the respective shows who told me afterward how happy they were to have seen RAW POWER and what a great show it had been. In fact, it was easier to find a place to stay the night after the show was over. I think many of the punx, and not all were dressed in classic leather & mohawks, of course, most generally jeans & t-shirts etc, did not know to expect so much show, so much energy and great songs and the strong drumming and great guitar and Davide's showyness and Mauro's vocal intensity and the full sound brought by Giuseppe's second guitar and Dode leaping many times each show and the speed of the songs and how they ran together with barely more than one or two seconds, literally, between almost each song. So, the people who put us up, I wish I had a list or remember each night we stayed somewhere, the people were happy to have us over. Let's see, actually, every single punk who let us stay in their home, half were young adults on their own, half still lived with their parents, were excellent hosts letting us crash in their living rooms, use their showers and we weren't like wild drunk or rowdy or breaking anything so we were good guests, very very little drinking. No breaking anything actually.
I wondered during the tour what I would think of it as the years past. I suspected that it could be a punk highlight of my life. It, of course, turned out to be. As much pleasure as I've had sharing the music of 149 bands from 17 countries with at least 10,000 punx much less how many copies were made of the tapes over 20 years, there's no question that the RAW POWER tour was a special event that I got lucky enough to see about 16 shows. Someone had to be the guy making sure stuff got taken care of and I was happy to do it. With their gentle attitudes and cooperativeness and willingness to give it their all during each show, the tour was a complete pleasure. Seeing 24 different punk scenes was a unique experience as well. Since punk is not forced down our thoats by multinational corporations, punk grows organically in each city with only MRR and maybe Flipside and some few zines and few touring bands and many records as a thread connecting the scenes. Looking back I'd say the strongest years of original punk rock, on it's biggest scale, with so many unique bands at the same time, 1984 was a peak of that time. I've seen several bands who still please me from today. The NEIGHBORS and REAGAN SS have blown me away. And 9 SHOCKS TERROR brought great punk vibrations to this old punk. Meanwhile, even though it meant financial disaster and risk we couldn't anticipate, it was well worth doing the tour. The bond developed with RAW POWER guys has lasted a lifetime. And I made back my losses by auctioning and then set selling a coupla thousand punk rock records in the late 80's, early 90's. So, punk rock came back to my rescue and many world punx got some great out of print records that they wanted for reasonable prices.
The Codellupi brothers told me that Helder almost joined the 2001 RAW POWER U.S. tour. What a treat that would have been. I can only imagine what his drumming would have been like for them now. BCT released a live tape of 43 of the songs from the tour from six cities, BCT #17 'Raw Power live in the USA 84'. Social Napalm and Veltved are both currently selling the tapes. It is not the best recording of all time but it does capture on tape a good flavor of what actually happened as it is recordings of their sets. It was clear to me that RAW POWER was not panting to become signed by some big music business. They were not trying to be big rock stars. They were amiable with the locals and had no rock star attitudes at all. They were honest and friendly. And I think the reward for them was playing their music in front of American punx who had never seen them before and many, I'm sure, who had not even heard them before. Considering their airfare, which the band members paid for, I doubt they ever made any profit from any of their U.S. tours. Mauro told me in 2001 that Giuseppe convinvced him to tour again and you could see why with Giuseppe smiling so broadly and playing so enthusiastically that day last summer in San Diego. The pleasure was playing the music. Giuseppe told me that he was immortal because when he played it was magic and he was transported to a place of extasy (that's not an exact quote but it's the heart of what he said to me). God bless Giuseppe. The money we made on the 84 tour was enough to pay for gas and food. The average, if I remember, we got was about $50 to $200 total per gig except, of course, the Olympic Auditorium gig. Good thing for it or it'd of been a bigger financial disaster than it already was. Though, that was not the main feeling. I was able to absord that loss and get over it. What's definitely left is the great playing of the music. Whew. And city to city scenes. Great man.
RAW POWER left back to Italy with not one cent profit. I'll guess that's pretty true for any U.S. tour they did if they only did 25 or less shows per tour. The question is, after they spent, what? $4,000 on air fare (I have no idea how much it cost but it couldn't have been cheap) they couldn't really come home with profit. Of course, punk is rarely about profit. Since RAW POWER toured the U.S. 9 times, and based on seeing and talking with them again in 2001, it is my assumption that they, particularly Giuseppe, simply loved touring, particularly the U.S. And so they arranged it in their lives so they could. All the guys had jobs at home though Helder at 17, I don't know if he was just still in school! I remember they told me Giuseppe worked in a factory. Later apparently he worked at or owned and worked at a video store.
I learned, breaking my heart and many others, of Giuseppe's passing. I saw them again at the Casbah in San Diego. I forget what year. Maybe mid 90's? As I suspected, a lot of the old San Diego punx showed up for that gig. Dode came down from San Francisco to see them. He'd apparently stayed there since 1984 working for a company that spoke Italian and apparently never learned English! There must be an Italian American community in S.F. I'm sure there is actually. When RP came on he told his friend to film him and he got on stage and joined the band for a coupla song with complete joy. After the show I met with the band at their hotel room nearby. We all went in the pool. It was old times again. May God be in heaven singing his praises to the Lord in bright shining light, with no pain and all joy, forever.
Ciao Italian punx. Your punk rock heritage is an amazing one and RAW POWER is one of the many many Italian punk bands that made the early and mid 80's one of the most powerful and enjoyable musical moments in the history of music. Just ask me, I'll vouch for it!
ciao y graci, Chris BCT
All shows were w/ RIISTETYT
1) 30 M - Boston, MA - Paradise w/ PSYCHO, MARGINAL MAN
2) 31 Tu - Easthampton, MA - Pulaski Hall w/ NO SYSTEM
?) 1 W - Hartford, CT - Ukranian Nat'l Home (I don't think this show happened)
3) 3 F - Phila, PA
4) 4 Sa - NYC, NY
5) 10 F - L.A. Olympic auditorium - w/ DK's, BGK, REAGAN YOUTH, SNFU, SOLUCION MORTAL
6) 11 Sa - San Diego, CA - Adams Avenue Theatre w/ DK's
7) 17 F - SF, CA - Mabuhay Gardens
8) 18 Sa - Berkeley, CA Eastern Front Fest - afternoon w/ CIRCLE JERKS +
9) 18 Sa - Oakland, CA - night
10) 21 Tu - Las Vegas, NV - Break Out w/ VERMIN FROM VENUS
11) 22 W - Phoenix, AZ - Mason Jar
12) 23 Th - Tucson, AZ - Bridge Center w/ UPS
13) 24 F - El Paso, TX - w/ RHYTHM PIGS
14) 27 M - Oklahoma City, OK - Native American Center
15) 28 Tu - Kansas City, MO - VFW Hall w/ ILL REPUTE, BLIND IDIOT GOD
16) 29 W - Mpls, MN - Whitier Auditorium
17) 30 Th - Milwaukee, WI
18) 31 F - Chicago, IL - Tuts w/ 7 SECONDS
19) 1 Sa - Detroit, MI - at Asylum, shut down by police for alcohol after gig was played
20) 2 Su - Indiannapolis, IN (changed to Bloomington in Aug's 1984 MRR) - Modern Times
--) 3 M - Indiannapolis, IN - 'Screams From the Gutter' was recorded by Paul Mahern of the ZERO BOYS in his studio in Indiannapolis
21) 4 Tu - Newport, KY - Jockey Club
22) 5 W - Morgantown, WVA - The Underground Railroad w/ th' INBRED
23) 6 Th - Pittsburgh, PA - Electric Banana w/ HALF LIFE, WHITE WRECKAGE
24) 7 F - Cleveland, OH - Pop Shop, last gig of the tour
Burning the Factory CD is on Brian's Grand Theft Audio label (Brian does the punk world a favor re-releasing old lost punk that is way out of print or never got released at all, demo and live stuff). That CD of RAW POWER is the RAW POWER tape released as BCT #5 which included 3 pieces of music: 1) Brown Studio full set about 35 minutes. The RAW POWER guys laugh when it's called Brown Studio, I assume that means it was quite run down, not much of a recording site. 2) Last White Christmas live gig in Italy of 12-4-83, their full set about 30 minutes. 3) Three 1984 demo songs. The CD on GTA has a 5 minute interview I did with RAW POWER in the back of the van while we were literally on the road, near the end of the 1984 tour. I don't think this is on it, but i recorded, somehow, about half of a lively disagreement of R.P. disagreeing with Davide about his occasional metal licks all through the tour just before the Cleveland gig. It was the funniest thing to hear. Italian being spoken really fast and with great passion. And when it was done it was like a summer rain, a burst and then gone. A visiting Italian punk listened to the tape with me a coupla years later to try to help translate some of it but he said it was in a regional dialect that was too hard for him to understand especially considering how fast they were talking.