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The Lewd

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Anyone who has heard the Lewd's great late '70s single Kill Yourself can vouch for the raw, crazed energy of this young Seattle punk combo. Long forgotten by many, their self-released single has commanded high prices based on its rarity, not to mention the fact that it kicks ass.

The Lewd were an outgrowth of an earlier band called the Sixteen Year Old Virgins, who changed their name to the Knobs. Lead singer J. Satz Baret was formerly as "Satin Sheets", and played in the later, non-cabaret version of Ze Whiz Kids, circa 1975. Ze Whiz Kids, primarily a theater group, also included Tomata Du Plenty, later of the Screamers. The Knobs formed in 1976 and included Satz on vocals, Drake Eubank on drums, Sheldon Gomberg on bass and Jeff Gossard (cousin to Pearl Jam's Stone Gossard) on guitar. Other Knobs members at various points included guitarists Marc Cain and Mark Bowen. According to Satz, The Knobs "never really played. We were going to play, had publicity ahead of us, photo sessions and a flyer than announced that we were 'coming soon!'". Yet the Knobs never played an official show, because as Satz says "we had no songs". Like that's stopped anyone else? However, the Knobs did play one intimate "performance" at a Fremont rehearsal space called The Funhole. This A-list evening was written up in a Seattle punk fanzine Twisted. Satz chainsawed a stage monitor during Chain Saw Sex. 'Nuff said.

Out of the Knobs came two mind-bending combos: the S'nots and the Lewd. The S'nots included Gossard, Cain, Gomberg and Eubank, and released one three-song EP on Edge City Records in 1979. The first line-up of the Lewd featured Satz and Eubank, Peter Tabor on guitar and Mike Van Dyke (nee Davidson) on bass. Shortly thereafter, Eubank was replaced by Dave Drury. This line-up recorded some demos in 1978, nine songs of which are on their new CD for your enjoyment.

Drury was replaced by John Sticks (nee Nay), who was from Rhode Island. Their first show was in the Northwest punk Bethlehem, Vancouver, B.C. The Lewd opened for the Ramones on June 8, 1977 for an evening of pure insanitainment. Sometime later Mike Davidson was replaced by 17-year-old David "Buttboy" Rudicrona, who was originally from Aberdeen, Wash., later the home of Nirvana's Kurt Cobain and Krist Novoselic. Mike Davidson, Dave Drury and Jeff Gossard were also in a band called Clone with Upchuck, later of the Fags. When Rudicrona quit eight months later, he suggested his friend Kurt Vanderhoof, who adopted the stage name Blobbo, as a replacement. Peter Tabor quit next, and was replaced by Brad Rammels. Johnny Vinyl, a member of a local band that used an unpronounceable symbol for their name (it's commonly pronounced "Aaiieee!") remembers the Lewd opening up for the Ramones at Seattle's Paramount Theater in 1978, and people throwing stuff at them. Joe Finn, who saw the Lewd open for the Ramones at the same show, had this to say about them: "It was the funniest thing I'd ever seen. There was nothing threatening about them at all, it was just comical. But them and the Ramones -- it was a three-chord tour de force!" Gas Huffer's Tom Price also remembers seeing the Lewd around this time. "I was especially frightened by Satz and Brad. They seemed like these scary, older real punk guys to me." This line-up recorded and released a great three-song EP on Scratches Records in 1979. The label was basically Robert Bennett, a local rock writer who supported the band. Produced by Marty Farzu, the record was a home studio recording, and included the insane Kill Yourself. The B-side numbers, Trash Can Baby and Pay Or Die are equally great crash 'n' burn punk tunes.

In 1980, Satz and Blobbo moved the Lewd to San Francisco. Blobbo had switched to guitar, and they got Bob Clic in on bass. Carl Socco was on drums .The band recorded some demos, and then Blobbo quit to form his new venture, Metal Church before moving back to Aberdeen (and subsequently starting a new Metal Church who released quite a few albums). Bob Clic moved to guitar, Alex Flex joined on drums, and part-time model Olga de Volga came in on bass. Olga had played with other bands, including one called Vs. with Alex Flex, and often played Lewd shows wearing outrageous black leather outfits, and handled the occasional lead vocal. Alex Flex also left, and was replaced by Christopher Reece. Previous to Flex's departure, the band appeared on the 1980 seven-inch, four-band EP S.F. Underground 2 (Subterranean Records) doing the fast-paced punker Mobile Home. With Reece in the band, they released their only LP, America Wino, on ICI Records in 1982. Having fully absorbed the emerging faster hardcore punk sound, this blistering document features one side of studio recordings produced by Clem Fisher and recorded in Hollywood at Mystic Sound, and another side culled from a live performance at Target Video Studios. Target Video was a San Francisco video group that often shot bands live in their studio (sometimes with an invited audience) for compilations such as Target Video Four, which features the Lewd performing Fight. That song, as well as another version of Mobile Home, is also featured on the ICI LP. The LP also includes a great song sung and written by Olga called Magnetic Heart, and one tune co-written by Satz and Vanderhoof called I'm Not Pretty. The rest of the songs were penned by Satz and Clic. Side Two was engineered by Mike Fox (guitarist of Sick Pleasure and Code Of Honor), who recorded many San Francisco groups and is particularly engaging. No doubt, this album is a crucial document of the San Francisco early '80s hardcore scene, right up there with releases by Society Dog, Sick Pleasure, Code Of Honor, Flipper, VKTMs, No Alternative, Dead Kennedys, etc. The Lewd also appeared on the two volumes of Enigma's Eastern Front live albums.

After the LP was released, Bob Clic quit and was replaced by Greaves, a Reno native who played in a band called Thrusting Squirters and who produced the first EP by Seven Seconds. The band fizzled out not soon afterwards, and Olga moved to Hawaii; Alex went on to play with Green On Red; Chris Reece was a member of a number other outfits including Social Distortion. After the Lewd, Bob Clic had a band called Murder who included ex-VKTMs singer Nyna Crawford. These days, Bob plays in the spacerock band Melting Euphoria, who have a CD out on the Cleopatra label. Satz retired from music, although hopefully not permanently. While the Lewd's records have been out of print for years, songs from the Kill Yourself single have reappeared on a few '70s punk compilations. Recently, all their material was compiled onto a bootleg vinyl release entitled The Lewd - Complete Discography. At last, the Lewd's material has been made available on CD, including a slew of never-before-released early demos and outtakes. The Lewd have recently had their songs covered by bands such as The Loudmouths and Turbo Negro. Yet no one can recreate that demented Lewd sound. ROCK N ROLL!!!    (continued ..)

Copyright © 1998 Lisa Lindstrom and Alan Wright
(Do The Pop magazine, 1011 Boren Ave., #114, Seattle, WA 98104)

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