Before I moved to Denver in the mid-nineties, before the CLUSTERFUX or any of the other bands I have got to play in, I was in a band called F.I.A., FUCK IT ALL. We were from Carbondale Colorado, a small town over on the Western slope of Colorado. Yup, I'm a sloper, or a crazy mountain kid depending on who you talk to.
I got into the band when I was a freshman in high school. I started playing guitar a few years before when my brother gave up on trying to learn it and decided to be a singer. I had been playing saxophone for a couple of years, through 5th and 6th grade but between 5th and 6th grade I also decided to become a punk. I was sitting on a park bench with my buddy Mondo after a long day of skating, when I told him " I'm going to be a punk when I grow up" He said "that's rad". Sadly he is dead now. He had been my friend since I was in kindergarten.
Playing sax in a marching band was fun but not punk at all. I really wanted to be in a punk band. So I picked up that heavy ass, red Skylark guitar, learned a power cord off my brother's friend Rod and within a year I was starting to be able to strum really fast.
The 7th and 8th graders played together in band class. In the grade ahead of me there was a snare drummer and general goof off (as all the drummers were) named Van. I had known who he was for a while since his mom was my kindergarten teacher. He was a punk and a skater as well. (and was a super rad breakdancer when we were younger) We weren't friends because he was older and way too cool in my eyes to even talk to us.
I got into 8th grade and Van became a freshman and started hanging out with my brother and his buds since my brother was a senior in high school at the time. Van was way too cool and would be a dick to me while befriending my pals. I thought he was a rich kid douche bag. (Because we all know those amazing salaries teachers are notorious for making.) We started skating around each other and getting fucked up on the weekends together and became friendly enough around my freshman year.
I still remember it pretty vividly when he came up to me at the old Carbondale skate park and said " I hear you can strum fast. You want to join F.I.A.?" I was stoked. I had been jamming with my brother Josh and his friend Dave in a band called Cathonic. Well, it was called Southern Death originally and then changed to Cathonic. My brother and Dave were both 4 to 6 years older than me and this was a chance to play with guys my age. I knew they had a band going and was floored to get to have a chance to be in it.
It was 1989. F.I.A. all ready had a guitarist name Bret and a kid named Alpen singing. Bret couldn't strum fast and didn't really seem to be into it any more. So he left and it was just the three of us trying to find bass players. Bass players were hard to come by. Our first show was at Joe McCumbee's 21st birthday party at a drinking spot in Carbondale called Thompson Creek. We had a bass player named Anson. He had long, ultra curly natural red locks. The dude was fucking freaky looking. We sucked really bad. Really really bad. Later on we got a guy named Robert playing bass with us but I don't think he actually ever played. Just posed. F.I.A. got a write up and picture in one of the yearbooks at school. Robert is in that picture. We had to call ourselves Fun In America because Fuck It All just wouldn't fly with the school officials.
My brother got a bass from this local hippie head guy. I was 15or 16 around then and me and my brother lived together in an apartment. Yup, I was the only high schooler that had his own apartment. It sure beat going to school from my Dad's car. Ya, a lot of drug abuse was starting to happen around this time for all of us.( its what you do when you're from the mountains) I told him he had to play bass in the band, no choice. He had never played a bass at all. It took me 3 hours to teach him one song.
Now we were a semi-working band. Josh was older than us and was a booze soaked crazed punk rocker right up there with the best of them. He had only two strings on his bass, never practiced and was punk as all fucking shit. Fuck we were all nuts.
Eating a guy named Barlow's puke is how I made friends with all the Glenwood punx being that I was from Carbondale, the next town over. I even licked a little dogs butt on a bet. If some one called us faggots, the guys would start making out with each other in hopes that the offended party would want to fight. I can remember doing nasty shit at parties and people throwing up because of it. I guess all young punkers go through that stage.
We started to play shows at a place called the Garden Cafe and at an arcade that was next to the local Skippers in Glenwood Springs. The young kids liked us but the older dudes thought a little less of it. One problem was we didn't know you were supposed to tune the guitar and bass together. We sounded nuts. I remember the day clearly. I was sitting in the shed we would practice in, playing guitar and fucking around with my brothers bass. When I decided to see what would happen if I did tune them together. Holy fuck, epiphany time! Of course it was day and night for our band. We became a thousand times better.
A year or so earlier we tried to record a demo. We worshiped the local heroes E.O.S. We wanted to record were they did. I called up John Rigger at the fish hatchery. He had recorded E.O.S. so we knew he had to record us. Plus we didn't know anybody else who could record. John was the big local sound guy that worked at the fish hatchery in Carbondale. He asked how long we had been playing together. I told him and he said give it another year and he would do it. Ouch! Turns out it was very sound advice because we did suck pretty hard. A year went by and he recorded four songs for us. It was our first 4 song demo called "Is There an Answer?". It had a picture of L.BJ. getting sworn into office on the airplane. We would go to Kmart or Walmart and buy a bunch of blank tapes and dub them off one at a time, complete with xeroxed cover. Our sound was total T.S.O.L. worship.
Those early shows at the Garden Cafe were the shit. Our first singer was named Alpen. I remember his dad was a super religious weirdo. He called us the mouthpiece of Satan. Fucking rad! One show he told Alpen that if he played the show he would not be allowed to go home. Well he played the show and his parents came to see the blasphemous display. My brother told the joke on stage, how do you get a nun pregnant....you fuck her. I don't think they found it funny. I remember we were playing and his parents were standing on the side of the pit. His mom became disgusted by us and tried to leave mid song. She got sucked into the pit. His dad charged in, throwing punks to the left and right to save his wife. It's great somewhere there is a picture of us playing at that show and you can see Alpen's dad, with palm out, praying for as we jam.
A couple of years later at a show at the Carbondale Fire House two important things happened. First, an important lesson was learned, ohms. Well nothing was actually learned, just discovered. I had wired stereo speakers to my amp and half way through our set that shit straight caught on fire. We were playing and I could smell this acrid odor. I looked behind me and there was black and gray tendrils of smoke pouring out of the back of my amp!!! I had no idea you couldn't wire a bunch of shit together. The second, is during one of our songs our buddy Chester grabbed the mic to sing along with us and let out this crazy scream. We were all fucking blown away by it. The band all agreed. We had to boot out Alpen and replace him with Chester. Alpen seemed to be drifting away from what we were into at the time so we knew replacing him was eminent. Alpen would sing songs mostly about a girl named Desiree that he was dating. Sort of lame. I think Van might have been writing a bit of the lyrics as well.
Chester was great. He wrote real catchy political lyrics."Capitalism is slavery for minimum wage workers".
Around this time we also added another guitarist, Joe Mcumby, the guys who's birthday we played. He was always a drummer to us. He played drums in E.O.S. and World Gone Mad but said he wanted to play guitar in our band. That became the last line up, the line up that made it down to Denver to play. When we started off, I can remember sitting in Alpen's basement on lunch break talking about, maybe some day we will get to open for E.O.S. if were lucky. Now we had a former member of E.O.S. in the band and playing shows in the big city. The line up changes really made us a good band. The lyrics and the riffage became tenfold better. Everyone was getting towards their late teens early twenties and improving on their playing skills except my brother. He was still Sid Vicious behind the bass.
At this point we decided to record another demo. A longer one. It was called Fakk Uff. Van was a traditional skinhead, so the cover had a weak ass drawing I did of a punk and skin dancing together. My brother had ate this roast beef sandwich right before we recorded. This he barfed up. Joe walked over picked out a piece of the barely chewed roast beef. Wiggled off the dirt that had adhered itself to the meat and scarfed that bad boy down. I'm sure it made my brother puke more. I remember being really hung over that day.
This was my "back in the day". People always refer to back in the day. I am included in a lot of Denver people's back in the day but this was mine. Drinking, fighting, fucking, playing shows, fighting, drinking and fighting a little more. Rednecks and punks fought a lot back then in the mountains. Craziest time of my life. A lot of these stories I stopped telling them because people thought I was lying, but they were all true.
In Denver we got to play some really cool shows. This band from Boulder would come up to were we lived to play once in a while. They're called SAVALAS and had a member named Sonny. He went on to be in VSS and ANGEL HAIR. Well, he liked our band and started giving us shows in Denver. Also in Boulder at a place called the Wild Aster warehouse. We played with The GRUPPS and the OFFSPRING before they hit it big. Ya, they sucked then too. RANCID on their first tour with ILL REPUTE and Bunny Genghis at the Mercury Cafe. We got to jam with CHAOS U.K. at one show and DESTROY at another.
Both of those shows changed us. Everything about us. We were turned onto the world of punk. Before we just sat up in our little mountain valley getting drunk and saving money so we could buy records, Maximum Rock and Roll, hair dye and studs the next time we made it to Denver. Finally we saw other dudes like us. At the CHAOS U.K. show a guy named Jason Carlisle was there. A few years later we started the ClLUSTERFUX together. I remember at the DESTROY show some Nazi skinheads showed up and the whole show beat them up and smashed up their car. Nuts! There was no Street Punk and very few spiky punk bands around. I remember being called a "postcard punk". We looked like the punks in old postcards you can get in New York. We had fancy hair and sought out other bands that did as well. My brother became friendly with some of these bands. AUS ROTTEN and FILTH were the big ones. F.I.A. even got thanked on AUS ROTTEN's first 7" the Anti Imperialist ep.
Those shows in Denver were cool we got to meet a lot of good Denver people. We became fast friends with FLUX OF DISORDER I believe we gave them their first show which was our last. Another group of guys we met and didn't become fast friends was Alcholacaust 45 from Denver. The wrote a song about us called $1.50 Punk Rock Special. Ah jealousy. Years later we did become a lot more friendly though .I even played with their singer, Jim, in another band called HOMESICK ABORTIONS.
That was the beginning of the end. Van had graduated and was going to college so we rarely got to jam. Me and Josh started up another band with some other friends of ours called PISS POOR. We almost played a show but it never happened. Van came back from college so we scrapped PISS POOR and gave most the songs to F.I.A.
Our singer started to hang out more and more with the Flux guys down in Denver and eventually started singing with them as well. I had to go to a Flux show just to see him so I could ask if he was still in the band. Chester said no so I hit him in the head with a full can of beer.
That was it... the end. We lasted until 1994, 5 years in all. I said fuck it, I'm moving to New Orleans and did. Van went to Germany and the band never played again. I remember after I had moved back from New Orleans and relocated down to Denver, I had heard that Chester was doing heavy drugs. I was riding on the 10 bus one day and saw a missing flier for him on a tree in Cheeseman Park! He was okay.
Me, Josh and Van went on to be in UP YOURS and CLUSTERFUX. Me and Van did SALTED WOUNDS and now I play in DRIPFED. Chester became a D.J. Joe is currently is in E.O.S., ANTIBUSE, REVIVE REGAN and keeps punk going in the Roaring Fork Valley
A few years ago we tried a reunion to no avail. Petty bickering made it fall apart before we got to play. We couldn't get a hold of any of the singers either. Recently my brother asked if I wanted to do it again. Our 20 year reunion. Josh writes for Profane Existence and wrote little about getting the band back together and what it meant to him. He brought up an interesting point. People younger than us can't have a 20 year reunion because it chronologically can't happen. A 23 year old punk doesn't understand what it means to do something like this. Damn I am getting up there. It's hard to really tell what that means to me. I mean, fuck, I lost my virginity because of this band.
When I started to listen to those old demos they made me laugh. The first one especially. Fucking hilarious but really good. Josh is completely embarrassed by the first demo but to me it brings me right back to that point in my life. It's amazing people are still alive to remember this. Well a lot of our old friends are dead or dying from consumption and a few are in jail.
You know, even though it bums me out that Van won't do it, for unknown reasons, I am really pumped to get to play and hang out with all those fools again.