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About The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current | View Entire Issue (March 19, 1987)
Thursday, March 19, 1987
By Charles Lieurance
I saw D. Boon and the Minutemen for the
first time in the summer of 1981 at some
small dive in L.A. The joint was spinning,
partly because I'd been alternating beer and
speed most of the evening and partly because
the skinheads on the dance floor were going
in restless circles, hunched over and wild
looking, like a pack of wolves surrounding a
camper with one bullet left in his gun. The
skinheads shadows moving along the wall
made the walls appear to move. Like I say, I'd
The only song I'd heard by the Minutemen
was "Like a Gringo" off of a Radio Tokyo
compilation. It was the closest thing to what I
then considered "music" I heard the whole
night. There seemed to be structures to the
music, but the structures were so abbre
viated that by the time one could feel a
groove, it was gone.
Up front at the micjrophone was the biggest
; face I'd ever seen. The face was connected to
one of those huge canvas gym balls you used
to kick into the air with your feet in grade
school. The ball had legs and arms that
twitched and flailed as if the creature had
springs for bones. The face yelped and
shrieked a few slogans. that sat atop the noisy
riffs and grooves like an oil fire on the ocean.
Something about the Holocaust and Amer
The next morning, the closest I could come
to remembering what had happened the
night before was that I'd been swallowed by
the mouth on the cover of King Crimson's "In
the court of the Crimson King."
In the years between 1982 and 1985, 1 saw
the Minutemen seven times. Their blend of
funk, country, jazz and hardcore was never
easy to take, but once you get used to the
brevity and the Minutemen's complete indif
ference to how songs are traditionally con
structed, the music was full of passion and
the rewards for following their brief trains of
the thought were manifold.
The last lime I talked to D. Boon was in
Boulder, Colorado at the Blue Note in 1984.
The bar was huge and a lot nicer than the dive
in L.A. The skinheads were circling on the
dance floor. I was trying to figure out where
these kids hid from Boulder's annoying popu
lation of rich ex-hippies and Buddhist yup
pies during the day. There weren't enough
skinheads to make the room spin. The music
had matured, become as complicated and full
of ideas as the best jazz but without any of the
sanctified subtlety of performance that can
make watching jazz a bore.
It was freezing outside, but Boon, wearing
. a : flimsy, plaid shirt, came off the stage
covered in sweat. 1 asked him, stupidly, if he
thought that punk music was keeping some
of these kids from ever growing up, keeping
; them filled with adolescent angst just a little
Boon said the audience was going to grow
up as fast as the band grew up. He said
anyone who could follow the Minutemen's
music was grown up enough for him.
True enough. A few years later Boon died
on an Arizona highway. The first thing I
thought of when I heard was a Meat Puppets
song the Minutemen covered called "Lost,"
about being lost on the freeway, lost in every
way a person can be lost.
But since we don't know where people go
when they die and how happy or sad that
place is, the only one who was really lost, in
every way a person can be lost, on that high
way was the Minutemen's bass player, Mike
For another year and a half, Mike Wat was
lost. Last year he was found bv Ed Crawford or
Ed fromohio, a classically trained trumpet
player, Minutemen devotee and probational
student at Ohio State. Crawford tracked
down Watt on the basis of a false rumor that
he and the minutemen's drummer George
Hurley were actively seeking a guitar player
for a new band. Crawford had been playing
guitar for only about six months but he was
possessed with the idea of being in a band
with his heroes. He left Ohio for California on
a little less than a wing and a prayer, found
Mike Watt and savecThinCSaved him in the
most innocent way one human being can save
another, completely without knowledge that
any saving was needed.
Crawford, Watt and Hurley began playing
together as flREHOSE in the late winter of
1986, touring with Sonic Youth, probably the
only other band in the nation with the Min
utemen's unrelenting power of musical expres
sion. "1 first had to learn how to play with people
I didn't grow up with." Watt is sounding a bit
frayed on the edges over the phone. His voice,
four years ago, sounded light and shy; now it's
deeper and less immediately able" to com
municate words. "I leaned on D. Boon very
heavy. Now I'm Independent enough to appre
ciate other people . . . ."
It's the name D. Boon that his voice
catches on. Whenever I ask any questions
that Involve the Minutemen, he says "D. Boon
was ..." or "D. Boon was a great ..." and
trials off. He doesn't have any answers for
questions like that, so I stop asking them.
"I admired the spirit of Edward, coming to
California with nothing . . .."His voice picks,
up a little now we're out of the graveyard,
"getting Edward started was true to the spirit
of the Minutemen, to give a kid a chance. I
saw a chance to put our ideas into practice
And flREHOSE is miles from the graveyard
and more miles from the highway where Watt
was lost. On March 27, flREHOSE will be in
the Haymarket Square, 813 'Q' Street, with
fellow SST artists DC-3 and Crimony. flRE
HOSE is a blast of energy more sustained and
more mature than anything the Minutemen
did. The Minutemen were less conventional,
the Minutemen were less likely to be played
on the radio, and the Minutemen were more
on the edge. But flREHOSE as a band for all
the bands in the world to reckon with. With
Watt's free-form bass style taking the role of
lead instrument, leaping through Crawford's
stuttering rhythm-guitar bursts, flREHOSE
has little to do with hardcore or punk. It
transcends haircuts with a leap of flame. The
first cut from the album on SST, "Ragin' Full
On," is a political anthem like nothing the
Minutemen produced. "Brave Captain" sparks
a funky, jagged style that charges through the
whole first side.
Side two is more introspective, consisting
mostly of ballads. Raging ballads, but ballads
nonetheless. Some of them are elegies. "Can
dle and the Flame" is a gorgeous sad song
that the Minutemen could never have pulled .
off in the midst of their experimental didac
ticism. And it would have been a shame had it
never been recorded.
"I'm amazed the way the album has gone,
it's popularity, you know." Watt really can't
believe it. I know an honest voice when I hear
"I mean, George and I were just bass and
drum, the janitors of rock V roll."
"I suppose it counts for something that
we're not in the rock V roll flavor-of-the-week
Must count for something.
What would D. Boon say?
"He'd say 'cheer, up, fer.' "
The flREHOSE show starts at 9 p.m.
Tickets are $5 in advance, $8 at the door.
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