have known Spider and Michael for most of my life (Spider
is my cousin - duh). My young teen years were made bearable by getting
to hang out with these two highly creative people. They taught me a
great respect for all music, and they took me to my first concerts -
Patti Smith, Blondie, The Cramps, the infamous Elk's Lodge
riot where Spider was hit in the throat with a baton courtesy
of the L.A.P.D.
When Spider and Michael
decided to leave The Tracers and branch out on their
own, Michael allowed me the honor of naming their new band -
Hey Taxi. On October 15, 1979, Hey Taxi performed
their first gig at the Hong Kong Cafe. Although it was just their
first show, they sounded like seasoned veterans. The band kicked ass
in my opinion, but Michael was a little hard to sell on this.
He was very nervous and chain smoking cigarettes before, during and
after the show. I reassured him that the band was well received, but
I don't think he believed me. Michael continued to be a nervous
wreck at every Hey Taxi show. I would speak to him over the phone
the following day and he was always on the verge of quitting. On stage
he was mesmerizing, but off stage he hated himself. He didn't like the
way the band sounded, or the way he looked, or the way he sang.
Fortunately, he also had
a great sense of humor and would always end up laughing about it. Hey
Taxi gigs came and went, but the band kept their raw energy while
growing tighter and always faster (Michael was rather obsessed
with playing short, fast songs). Spider played a cream colored
epiphone copy guitar that was splattered with red paint dripped from
a shot glass. Damn, he could make that thing sing. I don't think I ever
saw Michael wear the same outfit twice. Like Bowie, Michael
was the ever changing chameleon, always changing his hair, his clothes,
his attitude and his lyrics.
When Hey Taxi recorded
their only single, I had an orgasm singing background vocals on "Queen
Bee." I was able to get the A-side of the single ("I Hate Dogs")
played on Rodney Bingenheimer's KROQ Sunday night show.
What a thrill. It also meant a lot to me that the band used many of
my lyrics. My favorite tune was one that Michael and I penned together
called - "I Know I Love You, But I Know You Love Somebody Else, But
Why Can't You Love Me Instead?"
Whether it was hanging on
Spider's guitar chord or Michael's coattails, I was having
the time of my life! Michael looked after me and at times tried
to play the mother hen, but he would always end up letting me run amok!
Because I was way, way under the drinking age, Michael or Spider
would take beer away from me, but I would always find a way to get
more. Hey, the beer always made it easier to dance! Like some dumb ass
once said, "All good things must come to an end," and in the summer
of 1981, Hey Taxi metamorphosed into Red Wedding.
Last night I cranked up an
old Hey Taxi rehearsal tape and listened to some of the old songs:
"Mommy Was A Cop," "Mastercharge," "Refrigerator," and "Shake."
Spider and Michael were something else! I'm so glad I
got to be a part in their lives."
(now living in Lansing, Michigan working as a machinist)
never forget the first time I saw Hey Taxi perform. It was Friday
the 13th, the first of two in 1981. I was writing a rock and roll column
and reviewing a array of New Wave bands ( such as the Toasters
and Wendy O. Williams ) for Data Boy magazine, an ad rag
that was distributed in gay bars and ignored by anyone under the age
of death. For a change of pace, I decided to go and review two hardcore
punk bands - Hey Taxi and the Smog Marines - at a new
downtown club called the Brave Dog. This despite a report I saw
the day before on KCBS that proved, scientifically, that the rhythm
of punk music was delivered at the same beat rate as a person's heart
and would, by effect, cause young people to gyrate uncontrollably and
go into violent rampages. It was physiological anomaly!
That night was superb. There
was something poetic and harsh when Hey Taxi took over the stage.
Michael's wild movements and disturbing lyrics meshed perfectly
with Spider's raw, no-detour guitar style. Here was something
more than just straight-ahead punk rock, something more intelligent
and more searing. I was under the spell of Spider and Michael
from that moment on. When Hey Taxi evolved into Red Wedding,
their musicality soared to fantastic heights, but for some reason they
never got that elusive "record deal,"which is probably just as well.
I remember doing shots of cinnamon Schnapps (Michael's favorite) before
an afternoon radio interview on KXLU in 1983. How
funny it was when they asked the members of a notorious gay band to
read a public service announcement for Big Brothers Of America...."Somewhere
out there is a young boy in need of friendship and guidance from a big
brother." We all got a laugh out of that one! Then there was the
radio DJ in Glendale who interviewed the band in 1984, who couldn't
pronounce Rs or Ds - "Let's welcome Wet Wetting!"
wild sex that went on in the parking lot of the Brave
Dog, the Theoretical parties, the San Diego shows and
our day at The Zoo....good times and good drugs. In the
mid-eighties, it became tougher to get good gigs as all the punk clubs
gave way to the Underground (proto-Rave) dance clubs.
Red Wedding played
the last night of the infamous Odyssey nightclub in 1985, before
it was torched by the owners. Now Red Wedding's music exists
for those who remember and by modern punkers who come across one of
their EP releases. Someday, some rock star will have a hit with one
of Red Wedding's songs, probably after we're all dead and gone.
If there was a time machine in existence, I would set the controls back
to the days of Red Wedding and the Brave Dog, and I swear
I would never come back!"
(now living in Greensboro, North Carolina
and working as a graphic artist and creator of TVPARTY.com)
and Spider have been two of my closest friends for years. I first met
them in the early eighties when I was living down in San Diego (working
as a topless dancer), and Red Wedding was playing at the Spirit
Club. They were SO popular down there. The crowds seemed to worship
their every move. Red Wedding was a great band, the perfect mix
of glam, grunge and gloom. Spider was an incredible guitar player.
On stage, Michael seemed so intense and aloof, but off stage
he was such a sweetheart, with a wonderful sense of humor. I was in
love with Marc O's looks. I could barely take my eyes off him
when the band was performing.
Michael and I used
to go out dancing in those days. We made quite a pair, me in my tight
bondage dress and Michael in his baggy black suit. People in
the clubs would actually gather around to watch us dance! In 1983, Michael
invited me to dance with the band on stage at Club Lingerie.
I wore an old vintage wedding gown that was splattered in red paint.
On the train coming up from San Diego for the show, a woman noticed
the bloody gown I was carrying and totally freaked out. She thought
I had had a miscarriage on my wedding night! That evening at Club
Lingerie, I overheard a group of guys making nasty statements about
those "Red Wedding fags." I told Spider and he got REALLY
angry. He immediately went over and confronted them. I thought for sure
that Spider was going to throw a punch, but the guys quickly
backed down, like the real wimps they were. Guess they learned that
you don't mess with a "fag" like Spider."
(now living in Portland, Oregon and working as a dental
saw the band as Hey Taxi! at a little Mexican truckers'
dive called Jacaranda's on 7th Street in downtown L.A.'s produce
market neighborhood in 1979. My friends in "Party
Boys" played there every Saturday and would invite one
or two other bands to join in the festivities.
a band featuring a gay couple (Michael: lead singer; Spider: lead guitar)
was a pretty new idea, just as being out of the closet myself was a
fairly new idea. I instantly loved the band for their looks, attitude,
musical and lyrical skills. It was probably good that the local regular
patrons did not fully get what this band was about. But to the English
speaking faction it was a real breakthrough experience, sans West Hollywood
Soon enough I found myself
moving into the nascent loft community there and spontaneously, the
idea of developing a venue specifically for this audience, had begun
to dawn. I teamed up with a lovely woman, Clare Glidden, and
a year later we were well on our way to opening a small club in Little
Tokyo that would cater to our ideas of new music and art. No fad labels
like "punk" or "nu-wave", we were
shopping for unclassifiably good new "art." More of
a "salon" concept than a typical night club.
We were remodeling "Brave
Dog" from what had previously been an abandoned private Japanese
men's club next to the infamous Atomic Cafe. A completely cool
location, just as AL's
Bar was about to open a few blocks away and a huge explosion
of revolutionary anti-commercial artists and musicians were discovering
cheap warehouse space in the surrounding blocks. Clare and I were parental
snobs about our venue and we began casually shopping for special "talent"
carefully during the six months prior to the club's anticipated opening.
We scoured "the scene" all over L.A.
(just up the street 2 miles) booked anything that would pre-buy tickets
(a real pay-to-play whore house of a club if ever there was one!). But
next door, every week or so, there was a more interesting stage to shop
at The Hong Kong Cafe and I got my chance to introduce Clare
to this out-of-the-ordinary band then called Hey Taxi! And after
another hard day of electrical work on the soon-to-be Brave Dog,
Clare and I got to this show that quite simply clarified our vision
of what Brave Dog could be.
I was stunned by how far
they had progressed since the earlier show on 7th Street. On that stage
I saw something poetic, vulnerable and intense that spoke to me and
most of the people I considered friends in immediate, personal and contemporary
terms. We were awe stuck and spine-tingled. This would be the band to
open the club! Not because they had a "draw," not because
they fit some imagined new market... just because we loved them and
wanted to share them with the new creative community.
That strong innocent spirit
guided us throughout the year and half we were able to keep Brave
Dog going as Hey Taxi! transformed into Red Wedding
on our stage (and others). But they were ours... our special
"find;" our "House Band" playing a show just
about once a month and dickering among ourselves as to who was worthy
to open for them.
But back to that Hong Kong
show. The singer and the guy with the guitar. And a white-faced synth
player (Marc O.) with an intensely handsome Kabuki theater-like presence.
"Something" is a word that reveals how little language
can communicate. And That was something. Nervous though
I was about schmoozing with "rock stars," Clare and
I were beside ourselves and HAD to meet these guys after the
show. They were all amazingly accessible and warm people. We told them
what we were up to and took them down the street to see our little dump.
Clare bonded immediately
with Michael (who I certainly adored from afar) and I completely
enjoyed the randy butch-n-boyish Spider (I never really "bond"
with anybody). Spider knew so much about sound systems and acoustics
which was exactly the point in the project we were moving toward. His
help was boundless and we obtained a decent minimal "Peavey"
P.A. system from "The Brat" (a noteworthy East
L.A. punk band managed by a sexy, young, intellectual Dan Vargas)
for the club negotiated by Spider) and he helped us install
the thing (which was a treacherous job, hanging its speakers from the
Some time passed and the
physical work on The Dog was nearly complete in mid 1980. The
licenses were not happening, though. It was all in hopeless bureaucratic
sludge. Finally, we said, simply: "fuck it." We made
up this arguably legal "Private Party" concept and opened
in November of 1979 with you-know-who as the featured act. Strange and
wonderful acts came and went on and off that stage for about 18 months
thereafter, but the Red Wedding shows were the most memorable
and created a wonderful clan of followers both for the club and the
We did not permit bands who
did cover songs. All the material had to be original. I remember a particular
show when Clare informed me we were going to make an exception to that
rule, but she insisted on wanting to surprise me. Clare attended many
more of their band rehearsals than I did in an old "Tin
Pan Alley" hotel on 7th Street and knew something wonderful
was afoot. The curiosity made me pay special attention. Toward the end
of Red Wedding's set came an unusual pause, silence and darkness, and
what was probably a flashlight followed Michael's face alone in the
darkness onto stage center. "I Feel Bad" he softly
said. And then again, more lyrically. And then more music gathered behind.
And by the time he got to "...though I've done nobody wrong,
I feel bad." A huge gasp came from many in the audience as
we realized Michael was not just covering Marianne Faithful's
dark depressing hit: he was performing it !... living
it more artfully and more personally that Ms. Faithful ever had. More
than a few left the club dewy-eyed and sparkling that night.
Ignoring the bureaucratic
sludge did eventually catch up with Brave Dog and the L.A. District
Attorney's office hauled us in to court challenging our weekly "private
parties" (all the beer you can drink and usually 3 bands for
$5.). We had to close, just as the place's popularity was peaking, with
no chance at ever getting licensed.
Out of some months of depression
that followed we could cheer ourselves up by seeing Red Wedding at
other clubs around town as their following continued to build with the
help of Claudia Miles' excellent management.
Then emerged Jim
Van Tyne (from a dark, scary leather bar in Silverlake: the
OneWay) with the theoretical
concept and a utopian vision for a community of creative,
uncloned, more-often-than-not gay folks. Not a "gay club"
but a gay-friendly artists' haven. There was just one choice to open
up that venue, too:
...as JVT lovingly yet sarcastically (with a giggle) referred
Yes, it's true. Theoretical
owes much of its vibrant legacy to the band that set the tone for
dozens more theoretical events. They made us feel not just good
but blissful about being disenchanted, disenfranchised
and at odds with the ugly growing specter of corporate control over
(now a freelance writer, graphic designer and website
designer in Los Angeles)
my name is Leslie. I currently live in London and work
as a software developer. I worked with Red Wedding producing their
Nails EP. My collaboration with them began in very different circumstances.
It began in LA under a blue black summer sky as I stepped out of the
car and onto the asphalt of Madame Wong’s parking lot. My brother
Will had just driven us up the 150 odd miles from San Diego. Up ahead
four dudes were also stepping out their car. It was getting dark so
we couldn't see them too well, but there was a certain animated in-sync
energy as they walked across the parking lot, up the steps, and through
the entrance into Madame Wong's.
After finding seats inside I had to visit the men’s room. The
men's room was already full of men - the same ones from the parking
lot, and they were crowded around a dingy mirror putting on makeup.
I remarked on this to Will as I sat down. A couple of bands later there
they were again, this time onstage for one of the most mesmerizing performances
I’ve ever seen - Michael, two guitars, a beautiful Korg
synth and no drummer.
Although this was in fact the very same night that Ms Claudia
first met them, I was on an altogether different mission,
in LA to research cloning the Madame Wong phenomenon down south.
Back home I couldn't get that music out of my head. I didn’t really
want to either, so I put an ad in the LA Reader asking, I think, if
they would like to play in San Diego. Before moving to London I began
to see them both onstage and off. I reviewed one of their Spirit
shows, did some emergency mixing the night they upstaged
Bow Wow Wow, and generally tried to make myself useful.
Two things still stand way out from those days. One was at a show in
a sailor's bar long since torn down and forgotten. On stage Red Wedding
were in full flight when Spider, instead of smashing up his equipment,
smashed up the music. Pure, spontaneous inspiration - an aural crime
of passion with a musical soul being ripped apart in front of you, the
most extraordinary and original piece of musical theatre I’ve
ever witnessed. The other, more subtle, lingering memory is of the cosmic
way people materialized around the band. One example, similar to my
first encounter with them, was meeting Terry Hier,
'The Corn-fed Girl’' on her first West Coast night out.
It was at a Red Wedding gig; soon after she became inner circle and
their star groupie. There were others.
Eventually I made a trip back to California to produce the Nails
EP, which essentially was recorded and mixed over two weekends. The
studios were chosen by the band and myself. Tracking was done at Circle
Sound in San Diego, while mixing took place at Mad
Dog in Venice. Some additional time was also spent at an unfinished
studio in the desert somewhere to the east of Glendale or Burbank…
I’d sat in on a run through of the material prior to recording,
but schedules and resources were tight. So, although I knew it was good,
I didn’t know how it would make the transition to tape. My uncertainty
was short lived; what emerged during those sessions was truly awesome.
There were two principal factors which went into creating the Nails
sound, and which captured the live experience in a way missing
from previous recordings.
First is the expression of the music; it has an aura of mature confidence
and power, characterised by a kind of rhythmic élan running through
the songs and identifying them as a body of work. Second was the combination
of recording under pressure but using some sophisticated techniques
more often associated with inflated budgets and production values.
It was exhilarating, and as Nails took shape, big, powerful and provocative,
destiny seemed to be calling with a very big voice indeed. An omen or
so I thought, occurred while exploring the studios at Mad Dog. Looking
into a small closet or storeroom I glanced at the floor and there piled
carelessly, just inside the door where you’d trip over it, was
a stack of 2" tape. The labels read ‘Robbie Kreiger’.
Somewhere on a street corner I can remember telling the band how huge
they were going to be. Where I don’t know exactly, but I do have
memories of walking empty streets late at night in both cities and the
odd sensation of contrasting inner and outer landscapes – dark,
quiet, nobody around and nothing happening in the exterior, and this
ecstatic music and very bright excitement on the interior.
In many respects, nothing within the realms of possibility could have
surpassed what was captured on tape. I had wanted to do some arranging,
the purpose of which would have been to concentrate the hypnotic power
of the music before recording, but unfortunately there wasn’t
time or resource for that particular luxury. Also unfortunate was the
vinyl mastering - a watery echo of what was recorded. Some factors are
crucial to an appreciation of this genre of music unlike say, something
like Bing Crosby. Nails is music which needs to be played ‘at
volume’. With all the dots connected, from recording and mastering
through to playback on a system with grunt, there’s virtually
nothing like it. If and when a CD becomes available you’ll know
exactly what I mean.
Nails was released in the states, more or less. As an artist,
or even an artisan, one strives for perfection and all of us had issues
with the finished master. In the end they didn’t matter. Nails
won the 91X People's Choice Award in San Diego
and received airplay on KXLU for many years. I was
supposed to get a deal for the UK. That didn’t happen. I did however
sit in front of some very, and I do mean very, self-satisfied people.
While the West Coast couldn’t figure what pigeonhole, the holes
in England had somehow heard all before. Walking on the beaches, looking
at the Sneeches…