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flag US - Washington - Luna Kafé - Full Moon 19 - 05/11/98

The Lewd

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It always occurred to me, that, compared to most other San Francisco bands, your lyrics and music were quite cynical and rough. What kind of image did you have back then?
Bob: I recognized early after I joined the band that we were not even TRYING to provide an answer to any social/political issues. In fact, I like to think we were completely irresponsible. We seemed to appeal to the most street level apolitical hard-core dope-addled punks that ever existed. I hope we still do.
Olga: We were raw and simple and we cut to the heart of the matter. We were serving up COLD cuts in a COLD world. We were severely hard core...achtung, hasta la vista baby. We were a prototype of today's sounds and 20 years ahead of ourselves.
Sats: As I look back, I was extreeeeeeemly cynical and that did reflect in the lyrics and subject matter. But there was also a satirical side and I firmly felt that every song should have some moral to it, if not a statement or commentary on some value. As for our image back then ... we were always the sum of our parts which I know sometimes confused people. The "scene" was embedded with non-conformity but I always thought it was somewhat hypocritical when the hard-core punks marched all in lock-step and had a problem with those that did not fit the uniform. For us it was always the music.
Blobbo: We always had kind a slick approach to the band. Even though we were punk.

What do you mean by "slick"?
Blobbo: We were very concerned about our performance, being well rehearsed, having stage clothes, good gear, and being good musicians. These were not very "punk" things to do.
Olga: We were well rehearsed, we had backup guitars in case we broke a string and we were always in tune. Each song went directly into the next - the finishes and beginnings were all mapped out. We were a polished act.
Bob: One of the big differences between us and most of the other bands was that we worked the way rock bands are supposed to, and punk bands are NOT supposed to. We rehearsed 5 nights a week, played each song twice in a row, had our own p.a., a lighting tech with a lot of gear, and a good crew that supported us. We worked HARD and sounded good because of it. I still teach musicians the things I learned from Sats about how to rehearse. I totally learned how to rehearse from Sats.

What kind of bands did you hang out with back then? Any favorites?
Bob: I don't have a good memory for many of the local bands. Sure, the early ones like the Avengers, Crime, and Negative Trend are still tattooed on my brain, but the ones that came later were much less memorable. I do remember liking No Alternative, Legionaires Disease Band from Texas, the Misfits, and Olga turned us on to a NY band called the Fast that was pretty good. In spite of our hard-core sound we had a lot more in common with the Ramones and the Dead Boys than we ever did with Dead Kennedys or MDC.
Olga: I started the Offs with Billy Hawk and later got Bob Steeler and Bob Roberts. We hung out with the Avengers, The Nuns, UXA and Flipper. Then when I was in Vs. I hung out at the Mabuhay Gardens with Punk Globe, Naked Lady Wrestlers and Mike Fox. The Lewd hung out with Wasted Youth, Social Distortion, DOA, we loved the Ramones...we went to all of their shows, Misfits, 45 Graves, Germs, Spike and Snap and our fan club and its president, Laura Lourda. And then there was the Heavy Metal influence, i.e., Motorhead, Priest, Girlschool, Iron Maiden, Accept, Michael Schenker Group, Scorpions. The U.S. groups we liked were Husker Du, Megadeth, Metallica, W.O.W. & Iggy ... Free Beer and Crucifix. They're ALL our favorites, and Metal Church rules of course.
Sats: Back then we were very lucky when it came to hanging out, we had a clubhouse. The Mabuhay Gardens! Bands played there 7 nights a week and hung out there when they weren't playing.
Blobbo: We hung with No Alternative, Mentors. My favorites were Crime, The Avengers, Rubber City Rebels.
Bob: Ahhhh, the Mentors!!!! When I joined the Lewd, I inherited the 'tors as friends and they have remained friends of mine. I saw them just a few months before El Duce' died, and I think it's fucked that all these magazines that NEVER mentioned them when they were playing had stories about him dying. They were truly every 9 year old boys fantasy band. Sicky Wifebeaters' guitar style is genius.

How was the scene like in SF back then? Judging from the releases it seems quite fragmented to me, ranging from the artsy stuff and new wave to punk and rock. Or were the same people just doing lots of different stuff?
Bob: On any given night you could go to a show, or party, or even a movie and see all the same folks who "were" the punk scene. They were musicians, photographers, artists, drug dealers, fans and losers. A very wide range of people, but at the beginning at least, we all went to the same shows. If you didn't know the person on your left, your friend to the right knew who they were.
Olga: It was fragmented. Because of the SF Art Institute there were the art bands. There were performance cults and then there was the Mark Pauline experience. There was new wavy gravy, punk rock and heavy metal. These were all talented, different people - nobody was doubling up.
Sats: Your observation is pretty accurate, and even more so in San Francisco. This city has always been a melting-pot for every form of expression known and a few that have yet to be identified.
Blobbo: The punk scene was really strong for a couple years but eventually went New Wave and I got into Heavy Metal.

Can you tell me more about that lewd fan club? I mean, what did they do, was it a real fan club or was it more for the fun? How many people were in that club?
Olga: It was a real fan club. We had shirts, got a package with their Lewd ID card with their name on it, discounts to upcoming shows...all sorts of cool stuff. But Sats would know more - he's the one who did it all.
Sats: Laura Lorda I'm sure will be known as one of the more unique personalities on the SF punk/music scene. Before we met I would always notice her at our shows since she stuck out from the usual crowd. She has a great Latin accent and more energy than all of us together. She had run fan clubs for some other more mainstream bands like Greg Kihn and Paul Collins' Beat. She offered to set up a fan club for us and we would have been nuts to turn her down. It was more for fun than anything else, she did a great job with tee-shirts, buttons, newsletters, and stickers, and it did serve a purpose for the kids out there in mid America. I'm not sure how many members we finally had.

What made you stop your band engagement, what caused the breakup?
Bob: I never viewed punk rock as a vehicle for change, I saw it as a musical movement, so the sound of the early punk bands 77-79 was always my favorite, and as times changed I found myself increasingly unhappy with the way the "scene" changed. The bands sounded increasingly alike, and I was not getting what I needed from the music. That includes what I was writing, it was not Lewd material that was coming to me any more. I had stopped listening to other punk bands sometime around 1981, and although I still really enjoyed playing our wild out of control shows, I knew there was not going to be a second Lewd LP from me.
Sats: I guess everyone had their own reason, and I know the reasons were varied and complicated. It is never a simple thing when a group of artists decide not to be united under the same banner any more. For me it took a piece of my heart, but I knew that from the ashes there would be new doors opening for all of us.
Olga: Girls...they're always a problem when mixed with male hormones, and too much cops.

What do you mean, jealousy?
Olga: No, not jealousy. When girls interfere with practice that really bugs me. No boyfriends or girlfriends should interfere with the band and shouldn't interfere either. We all had to schedule our work, our money making, around practice and when one member would stand the rest of us up to go make $100 that really sucked. They weren't taking rehearsal seriously.

Did you have a lot of trouble with cops?
Olga: Yes. They would close clubs down that they knew we were going to play at. The riot squad came in at one of our concerts in LA - they beat up some of the kids and threatened us in front of 1000 people - then unplugged us one by one - except the drummer Reece who just kept going, like that energizer bunny, cause they couldn't unplug him!

In San Jose, where we were playing with Black Flag and a bunch of other southern and central California bands, again, the RIOT SQUAD surrounded the building, pulled the fuse to cut all power, stole all the money at the door then threw tear gas into the building. The punks panicked and started throwing chairs out of windows to let fresh air in. WE couldn't leave because we owned all of our equipment and it was too valuable to risk losing. Sometimes the Fire Department and/or the cops would close buildings before we even arrived! They'd use some bullshit safety code reason or other nonsense....we began to think they hated us.   (continued ..)

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