GARDEN WEASEL : The unexpurgated history
Chapter 11 : Countdown to the end
After our recording session woes of March, 1992, we keep the band in gear and keep taking the shows that people offer us. Garden Weasel were very fortunate in that there was almost always someone else setting up a show where we would be invited to play. I don't recall that we ever had to hustle too many shows on our own.
Our gigs this month included the Jambalaya club and one of our biggest shows, opening up for NOFX and Lagwagon at the Eureka Armory.
Throughout the month of April, 1992, the Humboldt county punk scene is going strong. There are many new bands coming on the scene now, many of them really good. Some of the ones I can remember from this period are My Name is Chris (Chris Colin on guitar and vocals; Utrillo Belcher on drums; sorry -can't remember the bassist), the Jolly Ho-Ho's (notorious trouble-makers from TRINIDAD??) ...actually, that's about all I remember. One Man and Grimace are still going strong, as are Sister Placebo. Lank has petered out by now - I think Jeff Grimes moved away and so did their drummer, Greg.
At this point, there was a short-lived all-ages club in Eureka called the Powerstation, where both dance music and live bands could happen. On April 4th, 1992, Garden Weasel played our first show here at a well-attended showcase that featured our arch-rivals Sister Placebo as well as SFM, My Name is Chris and the omnipresent Grimace. I recall being somewhat pissed at (My name is)Chris Colin for abusing my guitar with a microphone stand after I loaned it to him and was changing the string he had just broken on his own guitar. (Never mind that I regularly threw my own guitar around like a rag-doll and strangled all kinds of awful sound out of it-my guitar was still my baby and my one possesion in the world that I valued at the time.)
Another cool show we caught here was Citizen Fish with Antiseen + My Name is Chris. The punk kids seemed to be getting younger and younger; they packed the joint for M.N.I.C. and Citizen Fish; by the time Antiseen came on, all the schoolkids literally disappeared and only a few of us get to witness the amazing,self-abusing biker punks from North Carolina do their thing. Of course, these were a few of the many shows that my future son Cosmo would attend while in utero. I can't help but reason that the music he heard and felt before birth is part of the reason he has been adept at all kinds of music throughout his life.
Early in May, we scored another choice opening slot - this time one of our collective favorites, Jawbreaker, along with One Man. This might have been the last time we played with our favorite Arcata band. At this show, I think the One Man guys snuck off to get high or something and left their guitar and bass backstage. I took the liberty of tuning their instruments to a tuner without them knowing. I was shocked to find out how utterly low they had them tuned - of course, no one in the band owned a tuner, so they would just tune to whatever note the lowest string happened to be at.
When One Man Running went on, all their songs were pitched considerably higher and Chuck was straining to sing songs that now were higher than he was used to. I really don't think anyone noticed this, though, and they still kicked ass with one of their best sets ever, especially the song "Algebra" - "My mom said to me once/'you look just like your dad/when you don't get what you want'/Well, I can't help it /after all, I'm his only son/then she threw me out on my ear/and my baby doll, she left me in the very same week/but they were both really nice about it..."
Later, during Jawbreaker-who also played great- I was jumping around in the mosh pit and got a serious elbow in the eye. It hurt like hell, but I kind of enjoyed showing up at my restaraunt job with a huge shiner and healing cut on my face.
By the middle of May, we have our two final shows set up - May 30th at the Garberville community center and May 31st at the Powerstation club in Eureka. On both nights, we play with Grimace and a band from out of town called Muzza Chunka. Both of these bands were to become the first wave of artists on the Bong Load record label - the label that would shoot into the spotlight in about 2 years after releasing a single called "Loser" by some guy named Beck.
Since Boner has lost his license due to a DUI, I make the drive down to Garberville with him in tow. We have a good time driving down together and talking about his new career as an exterminator.
The scene at the Garbeville community center is cool - it feels like we're playing in a courthouse; wooden floors, curtains, the whole bit. We actually set up and play on a strange set of steps in a small "hall"-type room; we're all on a different level and the setup is awkward, but there we were, ready to play. It was very cool to see the different rural punks - kids and adults - that came to this show. They are all very cool and appreciative that we're there.
Our set goes well with a few minor PA mishaps. We rock it hard, knowing that this is almost the last time we'll get to do so. Grimace and Muzza Chunka also crunch it up. It feels like we're in a classroom music video and at any moment, a film projector could go on, projecting a sex-ed film on the band.
May 31st, 1992. This is it - our final show. The turnout at the Powerstation club is fantastic. Even though we are the opening band this night, most of the people there come to see the Weasel. I sneak several beers in with my equipment and proceed to get a bit drunk before we play. I'm feeling very emotional and having a hard time dealing with this situation any other way.
As we go on, the crowd goes wild. We've never gotten a response like this before tonight. The kids are slamming and moshing their hearts out, but in that goofy, less-aggressive, fun way of moshing. Utrillo, Chris Gambin, Cathy Meuter, Luta, many other Eureka punks-all our friends are there in the small sea of faces in front of us. I do recall that the bouncer at this club was a little wanna-be Marine who was getting off a little too hard on throwing the stage divers off of the stage. I bump him off of our stage by "accident" while landing from a jump off of Steve's kick drum. He doesn't seem fazed bt this, but he moves out of our way a little bit after that.
This was probably our longest set of any we ever played - I think it was around 20 songs - but still only around an hour at most. That was it. The final show.
Afterward, we all - maybe 7 of us - were sitting in my old Volvo out in back of this place. Steve was talking about how they'd try and carry on, making music with another guitarist after Garden Weasel was over. Spirit chimed in, " But it won't be the same without Ed, Steve;It will never be the same." ...of course, that goes double for me in regards to my feelings about the excellent people in that band.
Although that was the final show, GW still had about five songs we hadn't ever had the chance to record. On June 15th, 1992 we got together one final time with our friend Gabe Douge to record this final set of music. Gabe has a small studio set up in one of the buildings adjacent to the chicken coops in Manila, so we meet out at the sacred grounds of the high-voltage egg-shaped mutant-people one last time to put these songs to rest.
As with most of our recording sessions, things don't go exactly as planned or sound the way they should, but we hammer through our tunes. "Smerb" is a play on the words "Some Herb" (stoners til the end...at least until the end of the band). "Ant Hell" is a comparison of our society with an ant hill. "Air, Water,Food" was all you really needed to live. "Criminal" was a rumination about feeling guilty about life, even if you played it by the rules. And "Can't Find my Smokes" was just fucking hilarious - Steve often wrote the funniest songs in our catalog.
The songs came out alright, but were definitely rushed and sloppy. Still, we worked hard and tried to make the best of our final hurrah. This would be the last day that the four of us would be in a room together.
Garden Weasel had finally left the building, never to return.
Still to come: The epilogue of the early 90's Humboldt punk scene
Chapter 12: Epilogue
It's hard to really put all the pieces of the GW puzzle back together for a summation of "Where are they now?"; I only know part of the other member's histories in their post-Garden Weasel lives. Here's what I do know:
After 1992, Steve and Justin went on to form a band called Grout, with Jeff Langdon on guitar and Ty on bass. Justin got married in 1993 and eventually moved down toward San Diego. I think he has at least one kid. The last I heard, he was living in Kansas.
Steve Bohner and Jeff Langdon still play in the Hitch
and live in McKinleyville.
Brian "Boner" Faulkinbury has been in the Navy for several years. I get the occasional email from him; I don't know if he's seen this blog yet, but it's only a matter of time until he does, I'm sure.
Me, I live in Eugene, Oregon and am co-raising my rock-and-roll kid with my former wife, Spirit; she's re-married, works at a local record label and rides horses.
From my point of view, the year and a half I spent in Garden Weasel was like a punk rock version of 'Stand By Me' - we didn't know we were on an amazing adventure until it was all over. I dunno, maybe I'm candy-coating the whole experience, but those were some fun times - the kind of thing that only happens once or twice in a lifetime. There was no grandiose scheme to become famous or even well-known; we just wanted to rock and create on our own terms. Mission accomplished.
Post-post epilogue: It was cool to have heard from Gage Freeman - living in L.A. and working for the Red Hot Chili Peppers (who I dissed in chapter one - eep!) He tipped me off that Chuck Anderson from One Man Running is doing well and possibly driving a beer truck in Seattle. GW lyric-man Matt "Match" Batham teaches grade school in L.A. Cathy "Stray Cat" Meuter lives in the Bay Area and is working in the field of law. WD40 guitarist Jim Shank has been cleaned up for years and is now a proud punk rock daddy, according to Todd Congelliere. Todd's Recess Records is still putting out great music and is now based out of San Pedro, California.
I HOPE NO ONE FEELS OUTED OR OTHERWISE DISSED BY MY LITTLE STORY ON OUR OLD SCENE. I have fond memories of all of you and hope some more people from the old Humboldt punk scene get in touch with me. I might print this out, zine-style, if anyone is truly interested.