15 Minutes Of Fame

Bad Religion AlbumOn October 31st 1980 at 6 a.m. my asshole father wakes me up saying “your friend Tony Henderson is on the phone going on and on about watching someone record an album today, Get up and answer the phone”!

I jump up and grab the phone and Tony tells me “Brett Gerwitz and I were talking and he said it’s cool if we meet him at Greg Graffins house this morning”. “Then we’ll all ride with them to the studio and we can watch them record their New Album: How Could Hell Be Any Worse”.

I got dressed in a flash, and skate boarded over to Tony’s house and then we skated over to Greg Graffins house.

When we get there Greg is really cool. We sit down in the living room to wait for Brett to arrive. Greg sits at an upright piano and goes through a series of vocal exercises using the piano. It was pretty cool watching him, he was a really good singer.

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Brett shows up in a blue VW van and we all cut out together in the van to pick up their drummer Jay Zisckrout. We load up his drums and then head over to Jay Bentley’s house. Jay comes running out with his bass and jumps in the van and Mother Fuckers I’m rollin to the studio with Bad Religion!

We get to Track Record Studios and load out the equipment. It’s certainly not work in my mind, not at all. Once everything was moved in and introductions were made with the engineers and people working on the album Brett showed Tony and I around the Studio. They hooked up two guitar amps in the guitar room, one a Music Man the other a Marshall. With the volume slightly varied it created a sort of stereo guitar sound…very sweet.

Here’s the funny thing… As everything is about to kick off Brett realizes that he has not one guitar pick on him, not one! I reached into my pocket and sure enough I had a medium Scotty’s guitar pic. I whipped it out and gave it to him. He looked at me shocked and then relieved and then… The Music began!

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Tony and I watched it all happen that day and it really was an amazing experience. At the very end that night although people had come and now gone just Tony and I were left because hell, Bad Religion was my ride back home to the valley. The band came into the control room and asked Tony and I if we would sing backup vocals with them. We jumped up ready to go, hell yeah! So, when you’re listening to Bad Religions song The Voice Of God Is Government and when Greg goes into the chorus The Voice Of God Is Government you can still hear us sing “In God We Trust, Sinners Repent” with all the guys.

Note: As we were in the control room that day Tony Henderson mentioned to me after he went to the restroom that “The Lads” were in the lounge area. I remember taking a trip to the restroom too and I noticed Arnel wearing his leather perfecto with the skull & bones on the back sitting on the couch with some people around. I said hey in passing and they acknowledged my presence but they were all obviously fucked up on something…droopy eyes all around.

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*** I received a cassette tape from Tony of the studio recording shortly after it was recorded and I remember going over to another friend Tony Cimo’s house to make duplicates because he had a double tape deck. It took two long years before they would release the album and tour but in the meantime my friends and I were enjoying the music exclusively within our own little group.We knew all the music and all the lyrics before seeing them at Godzillas in 1982***

Fight At Godzilla’s

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I used to go to Godzilla’s a lot in 1982 and then one night while slamming in the big room I got into a pretty big fight…

So..I’m at Godzilla’s, in the big room (not sure who was playing) and here’s what I remember… I was 15 years old and drunk which was pretty normal for those days. I was slamming along, minding my own business when all of a sudden three guys that were way bigger than I and way older than I grabbed me by the collar. Two dudes held me while some tall skinhead said “you hit my friend”. I looked at him kinda puzzled because maybe I did and maybe I didn’t, it wasn’t intentional. But I wasn’t someone that would go crying about getting hit while slamming in a pit at Godzilla’s. That place was fuckin dangerous, and shit went down there all the time. We were all there at our own risk!

As I was standing there and as they were trying to decide if they were gonna do anything to me about it… Jay Adams comes ripping through the crowd and attacks me. I grabbed a good hold of the back of his head when he charged in at me, myself being much taller then he I had the downward leverage. I then proceeded to knee him in the face repeatedly. He struggled initially but then after a few blows to his face he never answered with anything. It got so bad that my friend Eric Magoo-Lads grabbed me pulling me back and off of him because I wasn’t stopping. His friends looked on in disbelief because Jay was staggering and needed to hold onto one of them for balance. It happened so fast that I didn’t have time to think about it, I just reacted. I was lucky.

Eric Magoo-Lads told me in no uncertain terms that “you don’t wanna do that, they are those Venice guys”. I remember saying to him at the time “I don’t give a fuck who they are, they’re gonna die, which was bullshit, those guys could have stomped the shit out of me at the time.

I had no idea who I was fighting with at the time. Heck, I used to own one of his Z-Flex Jay Adams skateboards. I was shocked to find out it was the same guy.

I ran into him a few years later at my own birthday party because a girl I knew, “Sidney” was dating him. I remember being introduced to him and shaking his hand. He looked me up and down like he knew who I was but he never said anything about it.

The First Time I Met Alex

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The first time I actually met Alex was in front of The Whiskey-a-Go Go in the winter of 1981. I was hanging out with Lurch at the corner of N.Clark St. and Sunset Blvd when about 6 guys in long white dress shirts and bandannas pulled down over their eyes began to walk down the hill from the back of the club along N. Clark. Once they saw Lurch and I standing in front of the club they stopped dead in their tracks, they wouldn’t come down that hill. They stood there looking at us not sure what to do. Lurch and I started to notice this going on and started wondering to each other “who the fuck are these guys?” They started to wave their arms around and began posturing as if they were readying for a fight. We taunted them back at this point and we dared them to come down the hill. They stayed put and didn’t move an inch down that hill in the face of Lurch and I standing there. Then Alex walked out of The Whiskey and saw what was going on and approached Lurch and I. He said, are those guys giving you trouble and I said no but we’re about to give them some trouble as soon as they come down that hill! He said they had hassled him behind the club earlier while he was in the back parking lot drinking. We made sure they weren’t going to the show that night and we met a new friend, Alex.

Note: I was totally aware of who Alex was at the time and who The Lads were at this point but there weren’t any Lads present with Alex this night.

There are two paths you can go by

8735_157832412775_741367775_2870189_915439_n[1] - CopyIt was a cool windy afternoon in the fall of Oct.1979 that I went to my friends house. My friend John was just hanging around listening to some records when I walked in. I was completely unaware of what was going to happen that day. This day, this one day would lead me down a completely different path than the one I had been on just the day before. This one day would change my life far beyond anything I could comprehend at the time. This one day would change my attitude, the way I dressed, the way I looked at things and the way people all around me looked at me.

John glanced over and said I’ve got some new stuff as he laid a record on his Marantz turntable… The needle dropped and I could hear Black Sabbath’s first album Black Sabbath playing.. It was good, but it was something I had heard before…. I had been listening to all the rock stuff over the years…. I remember being about maybe 10 years old and watching Kiss play the song firehouse on Saturday Night Live. I’d sneak out to the family room late at night and watch Don Kirshners Rock Concert with the volume down real low so I didn’t wake up my parents.

But hey, I’m not here to drag you along through some boring story about rock and roll for nothing because what my friend put on next changed the path of my life forever. He says, hey if you like the heavy stuff check this out and he laid down The Sex Pistols: Never mind the bollocks… I couldn’t believe it…It hit my like a lightning bolt from above and by the time the album got to the second song, Bodies, that was it… This was it!.. It was something I had been looking for my whole life! That sound, Johnny Rotten’s voice, and that guitar… I just couldn’t get enough, I had to borrow the album to make a cassette tape that night which I did. I just jumped right in and by 1979 I was deep into hardcore punk music from then on. Even now, I’m listening to that album as I write this and damn.. its still fucking rad!

There were two paths that I could have gone by but I’m glad I took the path of Punk Rock. It’s been a hell of a ride!….a living hell ride!

“Live to Slam<>Slam To Live”…James Genocide

and Mom said it was just a faze…