From the late 70s through the 1980s, Spokane had a diverse array of bands in sound and style. Like many small scenes, often times wildly different acts would appear on the same bill. Especially in the early days, shows were not a regular event and with so few bands some bands lasted only one show.
Below are the bands that appear in SpokAnarchy! Most of these were formed in Spokane and existed only then and there. Some towards the bottom of the page were formed by Spokanites who moved away. Some of these tracks were recorded in professional studios, but most were recorded on a humble 4-track tape recorder (or worse!) in a living room. All are passionate, unique, and show the range of what came out of “the world’s largest hick town” in the 1980’s.
Maybe it was the isolation . . . . or the lack of cultural stimulation. Perhaps it was the scorching summers or the bone-chilling winters. An unlikely creative landscape, but who can ever say when or where the elusive muse will strike?
The seed was planted when Jan Gregor and Mark Fenton bonded in the mid-1970s, later joined by Don Lynd. When John Robison hooked up a few years later, an original rock band cultivated, showing that a weed can grow anywhere.
The boys didn’t let isolation deter them from zealous songwriting, frenzied practice and fueled-up recording sessions. Inspired by the post-punk wave sounds exploding out of New York and England, Sweet Madness barricaded themselves in a basement until they’d hammered out their own adrenalized sound.
In the dreary musical landscape of country, boogie and disco bars, just the basic concept of a band getting up on a stage and performing their own music was totally unheard of. That lesson was learned the hard way when Sweet Madness was unceremoniously boot-kicked from their first bar gig.
Unfazed with harsh reality, they pioneered the time-honored concept of “Do It Yourself” to create their own scene. Any scene. Literally. DIY or die. They threw rowdy parties, dances and unorthodox much-talked-about happenings . . . Like performing outside on the main drag in minus 7 degree weather and backing up traffic. Or “booking” an all-girl band from Portland and then appearing in drag themselves.
They built up their own local audience of punks, wavers, artists, misfits and weirdos, inciting both avid love and extreme loathing. Local press at the time called the group “bizarre, arty, and satirical”, “neo-rock and roll”, “punk new wave”, “demented boy scouts” and “like something out of the Twilight Zone”.
The band broke up in 1981, barely even heard of outside of the “Inland Empire”.
The Teenagers were arguably the first punk outfit in Spokane, they sounded like The Ramones’ little brothers. Francois went on to be in many Spokane bands before decamping to Los Angeles for Motorcycle Boy.
(Francois Haraldson, Guy Larson, Morris Haraldson)
Another of Francois’ many early bands. Mike Emenegger also played in Terror Couple with Roberto Haraldson, Francois’ brother.
(Francois Haraldson, Mike Emenegger, Steve Kaley, Stan Lakoduk)
Brad Muller (guitar,vocals), Robert Lind (bass,vocals) and David Khristen (drums). Members of the Ferris High School band and symphonic orchestra who formed one of Spokane’s earliest high school punk bands.Perhaps best known for making sure that people showed up for Terror Couple shows and warming up the audience with 30-song marathon sets. Released one cassette tape (available still at Mirage Records and Tapes).Often confused punk audiences with syncopation, time changes,explorations into Krautrock, and guest appearances by Erich Thaler…Love tore them apart. Years active: 1981-1983
“Chickens in the barnyard eat grain.
Women in the kitchen eat grain now.
Chickens in the barnyard eat grain because they were made to.
Women in the kitchen eat grain to get fat.
Sometimes chickens in the barnyard don’t eat all their grain.
– I wish they would.”
(Charlie Schmidt, Jeff Morlan, Valerie Morlan, Pam DeMello, Scott DeMello)
Terror Couple exploded on the scene around 1982 and had an abrasive west coast punk sound that Roberto brought with him from his time playing in Seattle.
(Roberto Haraldson, Scott Hoover, Mike Emenegger)
An unlikely name for such a lively sounding outfit (a necromancer is one who can communicate with the dead.) This energetic short-lived three piece had an almost surf rock sound, and managed to play out of town gigs and record a cassette single before disbanding around 1984.(Thomas Richardson, Rick Swanson, Kurt Walker)
Influenced from everything from Pere Ubu to Patti Smith, DN experimented with a keyboard-driven pop-post punk sound that was at once familiar and alien.(Kevin Miller,Thomas Richardson, Mike Cook, Kurt Walker)
The VAMPIRE LEZBOS: a SOCIO-POLITICAL PUNK BAND with lyrical content focusing on that of SUPPRESSED KNOWLEDGE and OPPRESSION OF THE MASSES. Born in the summer of Orwell’s 1984, the Vampire Lezbos spent their first 5 years in Spokane, Washington. “Vampire Lezbos” was taken from a Cramps song, which originally came from an early 70’s movie.Yearly tours of the States & Canada started in 1985 and continued on through to the mid-nineties. A 10 year hiatus from touring was followed by their most extensive U.S. tour in 2005, a 25th anniversary tour in 2009, and a reunion show of the early line-up (Dave Whiting, Jon Swanstrom, Rob Westergard, Dave Delong and Jeff Duty) for one night only in Spokane in July 2009 for “THE RAPTURE” ; a Spokane Scene Reunion.Eleven U.S./Canadian tours enabled the Lezbos to play with some amazing and not so amazing bands such as: D.O.A., Adrenalin O.D., Dough Boys, Circle Jerks, 7 Seconds, Queers, Fugazi, Faith No More, Gang Of Four, Bad Religion, Toxic Reasons, Nation Of Ulysses, Operation Ivy, All, Adolescents, Battalion Of Saints, Poison Idea, Neurosis, Verbal Abuse, Beyond Possession, Shudder To Think, Skinyard, Filth, Raunchettes, JFA, Dead Milkmen, L7, Nirvana and Everclear.Additional members through the years appear in the film: Mike Hill, Dennis Mroczek, Scott Partridge.
Vampire Lezbos web site
An 425lb. Yorkshire Sow
An Audience Abuse Unit. A celebration of chaos. Feedback. Feedfront. Noise. More noise. A U.S.M.C. Calesthenic Bunny Hop Revue. Plastic covered puking beat masters with sticks and Ramen noodles. Flying broken bits of guitars and modesty. Police. Drones. A long piece of rope circling the crowd…
(Scott Campbell, David W. Halsell, Bink Olney, Steve Stierwalt)
Begun as an experimental “anti-band” Cattle Prod would break all the so-called rules of live performance. They would lounge on stage in easy chairs, or even not appear on stage at all and play from the wings. Eventually the music became more cohesive and the band moved on to Madison, WI where they put out several records. (Blunt Rapture, Markopolis, Sheela McCarthy)
M’NA M’NA was formed around 1983 as if by accident by Erich Thaler and Steve Stierwalt. By assembling a diverse group of musicians, just as diverse a sound was forged from elements of Punk, Rock, R&B, Reggae, Pop, Experimentalism, and whatever else they threw in the mix.The music was lively, rockin’ and danceable and M’NA M’NA quickly built up a reputation for elaborate and exciting live shows combining as many other performers and artists they could find. (Erich Thaler, Steve Stierwalt, Kevin Cameron, John Hawkley, Rick Swanson, Kurt Walker)
Spokane band Social Bondage was started in 1980 with a guitar, a Wurlitzer Fun Machine organ and a pretentious name. Scott Harbine (singer/guitar) and Chris Kenney (organ/vocals) started the group in Junior high school. In 1982 Mitch Romero replaced the Wurlitzer with a guitar, Brad Muller was on the bass and Mike Hill played the drums. Occasionally guest background singers/girl friends (Mikki and Katarina) were involved.They played parties and Eastern Washington University shows. After Brad and Mike left the band Eric Wolfe (one of 5 guitarists in the school that could do one handed hammer-ons) joined SB. Social Bondage had two drummers for a while: Cristina Leveque and Vicki Sadusky. Cristina ended up taking over the drums.This line up played as many shows as Spokane could stomach so they all moved to Bellingham, WA. The band changed its name to Beezus & Ramona. The most notable shows they played were in 1988: with Soul Asylum, and once with Nirvana.
S & M
The result of a Peaceful Valley practice space in somebody’s house with various band members who often didn’t show up at the same time in the same room. Based on archival recordings we know that Brad Muller and Steve Stierwalt were present when the tape was rolling. Active: 1982.
The Moo Cow Orchestra
Released a full length cassette in 1986 recorded in the studio of We Got Records. Members included Brad Muller (guitar),Tom Richardson (drums) and Bill Jarboe (keyboards, bass, violin). Intended as the second release (after Touchy Feely Guys) on the We Got Records imprint. Notably dismissed for being too eloquent at the time. Active: 1986.
Big Yuck Mouth
Spokane (1988-1989) BIG KEV – singer, SCOTT KELLOGG – guitar player, JON SWANSTROM – bass player, KEVIN WHITTIER – bass player, DAVE PELO – drum player
Seattle (1989-1991) BIG KEV – singer, PAUL D’AMOUR – guitar player, SEAN HOLLOWELL – bass player, DAVE PELO – drum player
Following the demise of Big Yuck Mouth:
KEVIN CAMERON sang for Freeloader and continues to record and perform with Silver Treason.
SCOTT KELLOGG played in too many bands to list (Motherload, Bomf, Elmer, SK and the Punk Ass Bitches to name a few) and most recently played in Hell’s Half Acre with Dave Pelo and Kevin Whittier.
JON SWANSTROM also played in way too many bands (TFL, The Flies, Seawolf, Yokohama Hooks, etc.) and is currently drumming in Ze Krau.
KEVIN WHITTIER played in Red Summer and Take Charge and most recently played in Hell’s Half Acre with Scott Kellogg and Dave Pelo.
DAVE PELO played in Steel Wool with Sean Hollowell and most recently played in Hell’s Half Acre.
SEAN HOLLOWELL played in Steel Wool with Dave Pelo.
PAUL D’AMOUR played bass in an obscure prog-art metal band called Tool (and numerous side projects including Lusk and Feersum Ennjin) and is currently doing soundtrack work for television and films.
More: Big Yuck Mouth on Facebook
Guitar smashing, flag desecrating, dry humping… Bastard Fuck had it all…
(Phil Granner, Roger Lawson, Curtis Hoffman, Ben Bobb)
TFL = ‘TOTALLY FUCKING LIT’ was formed in 1984 with Lee Berryman on drums, Jon Swanstrom on guitar and Jeff Jackson on bass. In the summer of 1985, Jon Swanstrom left the band to do a U.S. tour with the Vampire Lezbos. On halloween of 1985 Lee and Jon regrouped and asked Steve Stierwalt (PNB, MNA MNA, GOD PROJECT) to play bass. Jeff Jackson had moved to Seattle and currently in KLED. Between 1985 and 1990, TFL ventured out on two westcoast tours.Stierwalt continues to play music…Lee Berryman passed away in 1997 and Swanstrom went on to play in BIG YUCK MOUTH, THE FLIES, THE SISSIES, SEAWOLF, YOKOHAMA HOOKS, and ZE KRAU.TFL Releases: two cassette tapes and shortly after the release of a 7″ on EMPTY records of seattle, the band broke up in the midst of recording an LP for the same label.”TFL stands for “Totally Fucking Lit”, and in this case we are refering to a hardcore threesome out of Spokane, Washington, that gave Seattle grunge a run for their money in the early 1990’s. They seem to have only produced this one single on eMpTy, which is too bad, because this band really had the balls to get somewhere. Jon years later resurfaced with a new band, The Flies.” – GRUNNEN ROCKS.”…classic US style hardcore with a bit of metal and a lot of crust, one singer sounding sometimes very similar to El Duce of the Mentors! ” -MT records review.
Ze Krau was born and raised in an old Chinese restaurant in Spokane, Washington in the year 2008.Drums- Jon Swanstrom (Vampire, Lezbos, Yokohama Hooks, Foxxy Moron, Sea Wolf, Flies, The Sissies, TFL, Big Yuck Mouth, The Fumes, on and on and on…)
Guitar- James Hunt (Yokohama Hooks, Six State Bender, Foxxy Moron, and a bunch of other bands)
Bass- Tim Absolonson (The Makers, Sea Wolf, Nodo Chingo,The Benedictions, Better Off, more bands lost in the mists of time)
Vox- Heather Swanstrom ( Velvet Pelvis, The Sissies, Nodo Chingo, Fur Burger, Foxxy Moron)
Silver Treason is an alt-country group fronted by Kevin Cameron with steel guitar stylings by Jamie Frost formerly of The Makers. Kevin named the band after a racehorse that once paid off big for Kevin’s mom. (Kevin Cameron, Jamie Frost, Bill Barrington, Cameron Smith)
Sandy Duncan’s Eye
Roberto Haraldson started Sandy Duncan’s Eye and built a cult following in Downtown LA in the early 90s, disbanded after releasing their Steve Albini produced CD and a single on Sub Pop.
(Roberto Haraldson, Dave Rice, Campbell Emory)
The much loved and notorious Hollywood glam punk group started by Francois after leaving Spokane. Their Sylvain Sylvain produced CD is still in print on Triple XXX/Nickel and Dime Records.
(Francois Haraldson, John Blazing, Kenny Toye, Eden, Mo, among others…)
Erich Thaler left Spokane to Boston to form Stompbox, a heavy hardcore thrash band that released one CD on Coumbia records in 1994.
(Erich Thaler, Jeff Turlik, Pat Gleespen, Zephan Courtney)