21 December 2017


One day when I was 15 years old, I complained to my mother that there were no radio stations in Ponca City, Oklahoma that played the new wave music that I had just started listening to. My mother (correctly) told me that she didn't have any control over the music programming on local radio stations, and suggested that I take my complaint to the radio stations themselves. So I did. And it worked. And so my first job was hosting a weekly new wave and punk radio show in my small Oklahoma town. Within a few months I figured out how to solicit free shit from record labels and was getting promo material from SST, Alternative Tentacles, Elektra and Enigma to supplement my extensive collection of CULT, ERASURE and CURE cassettes. These record labels (correctly) assumed that Music From The Underground was an actual institution, worthy of the same perks that any other influential taste making radio DJ would be entitled to. So I got free records, and I got to interview bands. I talked to BOOK OF LOVE, I got free tickets to see STING and CONCRETE BLONDE (but Sting was tired so the interview was cancelled), I talked to Mark Pistel from CONSOLIDATED about animal rights before I was even vegetarian, much less vegan (side note: I was pretty bummed but also entertained to learn recently the Mr. Pistel fell off the vegan wagon years ago...), and when I was just sixteen I saw my first punk show.  I went to Tulsa to see THE DEAD MILKEN on the Beelzebubba tour, and I was on the fukkn guest list and I had a scheduled interview with the band before the show. As if I was an actual person who mattered. It was a pretty big deal for me, and I was nervous as shit to meet a band whose career I had been following for almost a whole two years at that point. Beelzebubba was a massive hit, and "Punk Rock Girl" was creeping onto the airwaves during regular hours at 99.3FM KLOR instead of just during my show, but still I was convinced that the fellows in THE DEAD MILKMEN were going to be down to earth and mellow....and I was right. Almost 30 years later, I am still struck at how patient they were with a clueless, unimaginably nervous and awkward 16 year old from Ponca City who brought along a couple of equally clueless friends, and I'm pleased at how genuinely funny and dorky they were. In anticipation of this epic meeting, I asked listeners to submit questions for the band (by mail, of course), and they answered them all. I asked if Rodney really hated GENE LOVES JEZEBEL, and he replied with a timbre that has stuck with me to this day: "Yes I do....you bet I do!" They signed shirts I so could give them away as I played the entire interview in segments over the following weeks. The show was great, though local opener BABY M were dicks to THE DEAD MILKMEN and to us ("You guys play "1970?" Bet you can't fukkn do it as good as we do"), and though we didn't talk to them afterwards we still rode home on a fukkn cloud. It was my first punk show...and I got to interview the band. 

Entertaining notes: 
1) Sometime around 2010, I was touring with CITIZEN FISH and they played in Asbury Park, NJ with Joe Jack Talcum's band THE LOW BUDGETS. I was selling merch, and while Jello Biafra (who just happened to be in town) was doing an on stage cameo with LEFTOVER CRACK I leaned over to Joe Jack and tried to thank him for the gracious interview his old band had done for my teenage Oklahoma self so many years before. He seemed confused. 
2) Me telling THE DEAD MILKMEN that I was "really fond of" Jello Biafra and saying that my goal in life was to meet him. Jello was kind of a boner when that meeting finally happened a year later, but that's a different story...


Anonymous said...

Mike Comstock - Baby M, R.I.P.

Anonymous said...

awesome story thanks for sharing :)

Michael Lee said...

I've been puking around your blog this morning, and this story cemented it, this is my new favorite blog!