Notorious, not famed, the idols of my youth, seen from within a fragmented mind like glancing a face in a broken mirror. I kind of admire a friend of mine, who can remember the names of grade school teachers and schoolyard chums, while I can barely remember the names I learned last year. I had the prescience to catalog my memories (in an archive) from some earlier times before, and now after, my first and last breakdowns. I have the urge to write a novel but can’t fictionalize, make a film while I can’t write dialogue. I see ideas as flashes of montage/ saturated color dreams/ stirringmemories.
Spring of 1986 saw the birth of Kansas City’s most unique and underused resource for independent and imported music that cow town will ever see. 1607 Westport Road was the first location for Enormous Horsepower records. This address already had a rich history in independent and imported music.
It all started back in the late 70's Seeing Combat, Gear, Combat!, Censored Youth, Yardapes and many others at the Bottleneck in Lawrence, Music Box and Downliner in KC. Dave Dog, Lantz Stephenson, Cathy Smart and I formed a band called The Insiders that never played anywhere, but we were hopeful! Then came the 80's. In 1982 Dave Dog and I started a fanzine called Gizmosis and interviewed the Porps, Gear, Choke, and other bands, plus our "person in the club" interviews.
By James “Tony” Staples, vocalist for Names Don’t Matter, 1981-1984
The earliest band I remember was the Hitler Youth. They were right at the beginning of the hardcore scene, in about 1978 or ’79. They played at a place that didn’t exist even two years later when I started getting into the scene. I think it was called, like, the Falcon’s Nest or the Raven’s Nest or something like that. It was in midtown, around Main, on the second floor above a thrift store. I never went there. I only heard about it when I was listening to some garage recording of the Hitler Youth, a couple years after they vanished from the scene.
College was over and to show for it I now had two degrees and no job. The parent, unpressured by anything other than mere parentage, took in this MU refugee. But I’d been decamped from the quarters to which I was accustomed; the little brother had taken over the big bedroom in the dormer. The Todd Rundgren and David Bowie posters had been scraped from the walls (it was like I’d never existed) and replaced with fetishistic close-ups of motorbikes and mag wheels. I got the room the runt had had. The torch had been passed.
When I first met Mott I was an impressionable youth and that dude made quite an impression. It was before I had made my total transition to dressing like a flat-chested girl in an old man’s cast off PJ’s. I was at a side yard picnic at 54th and Tracy, just off Troost, and Mott sauntered up looking like a full on London punk, full Mohawk up, black leather jacket, ears multiply pierced.
I was 16 years old, but looked older, and had an ID. My earliest memory was that of rolling drums down the stairs, with Frank Alvarez (Choke). I recall seeing Hitler Youth, The Gear and The Replacements, both at Downliner and Music Box. The scene was small, but very electric, alive with energy. Being so fresh, I can remember just being happy to be there, amongst like-minded freaks. It seemed visceral/raw and honest.
I made my first move to the Midtown area in the late seventies. It was a completely different place in time than it is now. Make no mistake; it was a seedy area, in many ways far worse than it is today, in many ways better. Main Street jumped and crackled at night, it was a living, breathing entity. From the Club Royale, where fake cowboys and cowgirls gathered, north to 31st Street where the drag queens hung out at the Jewel Box, Main Street was like no other stretch of road in this city. I’d say I was about 18 or 19 when I first moved here. I had a one room apartment on Warner Plaza, a street that no longer exists.
Every weekend I was off somewhere to see a show in KC or Lawrence. And sometimes we'd drive to St Louis, or Denver or Omaha to see some band, like The Dead Kennedys or DEVO or Exploited or whoever that weren’t coming through Lawrence or KC on that tour.
The tape was “Never Mind the Bollocks” and for some reason it just fell into place. It clicked. It hit me like a ton of bricks. I basically talked the kid into letting me borrow that tape. I had to. There was no other choice in the matter. I listened to that for hours over and over and I couldn't believe it.