Monday, July 8, 2013

Save Me From Ordinary: Three Decades of Hardcore Punk Rock in Iowa

 Three Decades of Hardcore Punk Rock in Iowa

Curated by:
Joseph William Clark Milik, esq.

A brief look at the bright but, for the most part, unsung past and present of hardcore punk rock from the state of Iowa.  The songs here-in are the products of different strange scenes spread out across the years and the state, or, often times, the product of absolutely no scene at all.  By no means an exhaustive list, this compilation represents only a tiny portion of Iowa's bands ranging from the early days on the verge of being lost to time to more modern and current bands making their own noise.  A curious history to say the least, and one that I believe deserves a second look and more recognition than it receives.  The music speaks for itself.  Go start your own band."

"Save Me From Ordinary: Three Decades of Hardcore Punk Rock in Iowa" is a CDr of some of my favorite IAHC tunes that I compiled to give away on the most recent NERV tour we did out east, down to the tip of Florida, back across the south, then up through the Midwest.  I didn't ask any of the band's permission to use these tracks so I handed out copies of the CDr for free. By the end of the tour I ran out of copies, but you can download the compilation below:

1. Abscess - Home
2. Preachers - You Don't Understand
3. Pent-Up Aggression - Wake Up (And Smell The Coffee)
4. Human Error - Mig21
5. Stiff Legged Sheep - Drunk With A Gun
6. Coldsore - Out Of Line
7. Forced Expression - Forced Expression
8. The Kinship - Still Life
9. Song of Zarathustra - One Strike At Romance
10. Captain 3 Leg - Untitled
11. Eclipse of Eden - Envy The Ignorant
12. In Loving Memory.. - This Is Ours
13. Black Market Fetus - Stagnation
14. The Creepy Kids - Curb Stomp
15. Swing By Seven - The First Taste
16. Ten Grand - I Will Seriously Pay You To Shut Up
17. Modern Life Is War - War
18. Meth And Goats - Dope Tantrum
19. Too Pure To Die - We Are A Weapon
20. Patrick Swayze's Ghost - Plan 9
21. Through Hard Times - Moving On
22. Quick Fix - Material Bullshit
23. These Needles - When Consumption Assumes Disposition
24. Approaching Nain - Made With Forealsie
25. Los Voltage - Rock N Roll Summer
26. Agress - Personal Poison
27. Omens - Disgust
28. Supersonic Piss - Bag Of Apologies
29. Big Box - $5 Gummy Bear
30. NERV - Zits

Click to download.

Recently I have burned more copies of this CDr to give away for free at shows and at record stores in my area, Iowa City.  I will try and get them to other places in the state.  Each copy comes with a cool map and information on each individual band and track like where the band was from, when they were from, and what recording the song comes from.  If you're interested in a physical copy of this compilation, e-mail me at  Otherwise, enjoy the download.

For those wanting to know, the cover image is of Supersonic Piss playing a Mission Bleak show in Iowa City at the Tobacco Bowl on March 31st, 2011.  The photo was taken by Erik Bandy.  It was one of the most fun and wild shows I've been to, completely packed with people diving off the coffee bar.  If you look close, you'll spot the "author" in the crowd.

Thursday, January 24, 2013


Omens is a hardcore punk band from Des Moines.  From Metallica to Nine Inch Nails to Cursed, the band takes influence from many bands across the spectrum of heavy and aggressive music to make their own dour and joyless sound.  Luke Rauch is the riffmaster along with his brother Drew Rauch, Aaron Hollander slams the bass, Nick Steinick is responsible for the d-beats and crushing hits, and Mike Watson spouts off at the mouth.

Omens came together in November of 2010 shortly after Mike and Luke both moved to Des Moines from Cedar Rapids and Pella, respectively.  The two had known each other and had been playing shows together in past bands for years and it was only natural that they would talk about playing in a band together now that they were both in the same place.  Mike had talked to Aaron separately about starting up a similiar sounding band, so he was first choice when it came to filling in the bass player roll.  Mike only knew Nick loosely at the time but was hoping to get him to drum for the band based off seeing him drum in bands he was playing in currently and bands he had done in the past, so when Aaron recommended that Nick play drums in the new band it was a total no-brainer.

The members of the band each had a similar mindset when it came to writing music and, after it's inception, Omens wasted no time writing songs.  Within a few months time and after a few shows, the band had enough material written to be able to record and release a demo.  In early 2011, the band headed to Marshalltown, a small town 45 minutes north east of Des Moines, where they had their friend Bo Becker record them in a basement.  Six tracks were recorded showing off the bands dire and pounding sound, and the demo was distributed at local shows.  In keeping with the stark hopelessness aesthetic of the music, the demo was distributed on white CDrs in black sleeves, a logo stamped onto the disc and a simple black label on the corner of the sleeve.

Omens - Demo

1. Deeper
2. Bleak
3. Revelations
4. Drag
5. Disgust
6. Ruin

Click to download.

The demo trudges through a mishmash of slow and fast, wallowing in the sludge and ripping through the nasty punk parts, Mike ripping his throat raw the entire time.  Enough flourishing guitar weirdness in the background keeps it interesting, and hints of black metal poke through the darkness at times.  After the release of this demo, the band stuck to playing mostly local shows in Des Moines and in the towns surrounding the city.  It was around this time that I first saw the band play live at a show my band NERV played with them at All Play in Des Moines in April of 2011.  They started their set off with a weirdly somber and eerie intro with sparse drum hits before blasting off with some headbanging riffage over kick ass d-beats.  It was mean sounding, not in any fake tough way, but more in the way of plodding despair.  It was loud and I loved it.

Omens played more shows throughout the course of 2011 and continued writing more songs.  By the end of the year they were ready to record a new batch of tunes.  In November of 2011 and with the help of Bo Becker once again, the band recorded four tracks in Mike's basement.  These songs are more refined and even more bleak and dismal than the demo, venturing into some weird fucked up almost stoner sound for bits of it.  The second track breaks into some sick thrash and the last track ends it all by sludging it out.  The band dubbed these songs to a tape they called "No Dawn" and embarked on their first and only tour thus far in December, playing basements across the midwest.  I'm glad I got to book them a show and play with them in Iowa City on this tour, it was a good one!

Omens - No Dawn

1. Faithbreak
2. Misery Addict
3. Attention Scars
4. Dark Depths

Click to download.

This idea behind Omens was never to focus on playing out and touring much at all and not to be a full time band, but to write music and to hone in on the product the band was releasing.  After playing a few memorable shows in 2012 including one pro wrestling themed show where someone was hit with a chair and someone else was put in a figure four leglock during the band's set, the band decided it needed to switch a few things up.  After playing their last show for awhile in September, the band ceased playing live for the time being and scrapped practicing and playing any previously written material to focus on writing new songs.  Coming into the fold to help with the writing of these new tracks is a new fifth member, Drew Rauch, on second guitar which will no doubt make the band even meaner sounding than before.

Omens plans to start playing live shows again within the next few months in same direction just with a keener sense of focus.  Coinciding with the return of live shows will be the self release of their as-of-yet untitled LP of brand new and unheard songs with art done by yours truly, me, Joe Milik.  I personally haven't heard any recordings of any new songs yet, but you can expect them to be even more downcast than the songs on the demo and on No Dawn.  This band is good, and I can't wait for them to start playing shows again.  New tunes and a new member, keep an ear down and your eyes peeled.

Contact the band at  Maybe there are some copies of the demo and No Dawn left.

Monday, January 21, 2013


A few updates on some bands already posted on this blog before I update with some new bands:

The "unreleased" Big Box LP finally came out on wax thanks to Radio Is Down records out of Olympia, Washington.  After multiple long and drawn out sessions where we tried to come up with a name for the record including "Fucked At The Dump", we finally settled on Die Now.  I'm really stoked on how it came out.  It's a perverted, dirty sounding record.  Music you should listen to while applying corpse paint then rubbing your face in the dirt covering a filthy basement floor.  It's tough, full of stompers and a few rippers, and I would mosh to this live if I wasn't in the band.  Donnie Bandy is responsible for the cover art and Joe Milik, me, did the art for the back cover.  You can pick it up from us at a show or from the label!

1. Disease Is Crawling
2. Cut Up
3. When It's Easy
4. Burn Victim
5. Eat Something
6. Camera Shy
7. Like Another Drink
8. Brat Mouth
9. $5 Gummy Bear
10. Stagger On, Leashed

Click to download.

We went on a two week midwest and top of the south tour in October in support of this LP.  Recently we have been writing new songs alongside playing local shows and may soon be releasing a tape on Hurts To Hear, although nothing is solid at this point in time.


So, Solid Attitude's LP on Rotted Tooth came out on schedule and they went on tour to promote it.  Even though Maximum Rocknroll bagged the final artwork for the record as "shitgaze bullshit" (or something similar, stay in California forever and get mugged by a junkie in Oakland please), the art done by Justin Thye of Goldendust and Wet Hair is actually fantastic and it was definitely my favorite record cover art from last year.  The record itself, finally ending up being called BB Gun Picnic, is one of my favorites of last year, too.  Noisy and very, very catchy frantic punk rock with the stream of consciousness vocal thoughts of a mad man on top of it all.  It's poppy, but it's not pop punk.  Slight hints of snotty hardcore pokes it head through every so often.  It rules.  The last track, Smoking Sheets, is the best ender for a record I've heard in awhile.  Oh yeah, let's get this straightened out once in for all: this record was recorded by Tucker Burns at his studio in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.  Buy the LP from Rotted Tooth!

1. Black Wall
2. Shit Business Pt 1
3. Shit Business Pt 2
4. (Cool) With Me
5. Black Pocket
6. Solid Ettiquette
7. Punk Beer
8. Can't Chill Out
9. Disco Nap
10. Volume
11. Smoking Sheets

Click to download

Solid Attitude has a few records planned for the future, with a 7" on Sweet Rot out next month.  It's gonna be good.  The band is planning a two week east coast tour in April, so be on the lookout for that. 


Supersonic Piss, still killing it live, still disturbed, still down with the sickness.  The band has been playing mostly local shows only lately with a few out of town dates here and there, but that didn't stop them from releasing a new 7" in the meantime.  Recorded in the basement of 109 N. Dodge in Iowa City by John Hopkins (the sound guy for Corrosion of Conformity or something?) at the end of February 2012, this self titled EP was released on Youth Camp Records in September of the same year.  It's a mean and foul piece of wax, totally crushing trashcore, the best the band has sounded recorded as far as I'm concerned.  The drums sound awesome and you can hear every hit when those nasty hammer blasts kick in.  There's a lot of weird shit going on here, like the goofy backup singing on the second track, New Bruises.  Paige was responsible for the awesome cootie catcher insert that comes with the record.  Download it below but make sure to pick up a copy from the Youth Camp website.
1. Choke Yourself Awake
2. New Bruises
3. Slather Me Up
4. Bag of Apologies
5. Good Housewife

Click to download.

As far as future touring plans for the band go, I personally could not say.  They should tour a bit on this new 7" since it is sick, but don't ask me. 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

In Loving Memory...

In Loving Memory was a screamo band from Des Moines.  Despite only existing as a band for a little under two years and having a mere 12 songs to their name, In Loving Memory's popularity has persisted due to the band's legendary spastic live set and the music they wrote being widely regarded as one of the finest examples of the Midwest emo-violence sound there is.

The first iteration of In Loving Memory came together in August of 1998, with Jordan Peterson, age 14, on guitar, Brian Dingeman, age 15, on bass, Spencer Williams, age 15, on drums, and their friend Justin Heuss rounding out the band on vocals.  Jordan had recently been influenced to start up a band by his sister's boyfriend Jake Haselman, who had drummed in Minneapolis hardcore band Fed By Ravens, and Jake's friend Steven Snere, who played in the Mason City metalcore band The Kinship, both of whom had just moved to Des Moines.  Jordan was obsessed with both Fed By Ravens and The Kinship and wanted to learn to play guitar so he could start his own hardcore band. Brian and Spencer were listening to bands like Disembodied and At The Gates at the time, so it was only natural that they too would want to start up their own band with a heavy sound.  They called their new band Day of Atonement, it was christian, and the metalcore influences definitely rang through.

This original lineup for Day of Atonement never played a single show.  After just a little over a month of practicing, Justin left the band and moved to Pella, a small town 45 minutes south of Des Moines.  Instead of seeking out another member, Brian took over on vocals while still playing bass.  Day of Atonement played their first show on Halloween night of 1998 in the basement of a pizza shop with other local punk bands The Horrorshow Hoods, The Whore Moans, and Nuclear Kicks.  Everyone at the show laughed at the band as they threw their instruments around during their set, but you've got to start somewhere.

After a year of playing shows as Day of Atonemeny, the members of the band began to shy away from the metalcore sound, as they started to dabble in the spazzier side of hardcore.  Listening to screamo and powerviolence bands like Orchid, Saetia, and Song of Zarathustra, it wasn't long before they wanted to take the sound of the band in that direction.  They also found out soon enough after starting up that another band named Day of Atonement already existed, a signed death metal band from Australia.  Not only that but their Day of Atonement, the Des Moines band, was a christian metalcore band, a vibe the members of the band definitely were not going for anymore.  They were going to switch up their sound and they needed a new name.  While driving on the highway, Brian saw the words "in loving memory of..." on the side of a semi and thought that would be a cool name for the band.  After realizing the "of..." part of the name was a little dorky, that word was dropped and they took on the name In Loving Memory.  Day of Atonement was finished.  They never recorded and no live recordings exist.

Along with a new name and a new sound, the band added some new members.  It was decided that Brian would do vocals and only vocals in this new band, so a new bass player was needed.  Brian and Spencer went to school and were friends with Joe Carrington.  He played bass and was a natural choice to fill in Brian's spot.  Right after Joe joined the band, in November of 1999, they played their first show as In Loving Memory at the Botanical Center in Des Moines with Florida hardcore acts Reversal of Man and Combatwoundedveteran.  After playing this show with Joe, the band decided to add a second vocalist to the lineup and that having a female vocalist in a spazzy hardcore band would be a cool and different thing to do, and at the time it definitely was different.  Regionally, one of the only other bands to have a frontwoman was fellow screamo band The Hareste from Sioux Falls, South Dakota.   Jen Wiley, a member of the band's tight knit circle of friends, was their first choice.  She was asked to be the band's vocalist alongside Brian and she accepted.

At this time Tanner Olson, the guitar player in The Spirit of Versailles, a screamo band from Sioux Falls, had just recently quit his band and moved to Des Moines as a change of pace.  Wanting to jump into a new band right away, he asked the members of In Loving Memory if they would be into having him play second guitar in the band.  The members of the band loved The Spirit of Versailles and thought Tanner was an amazing guitar player, so the decision was a no brainer.  In December of 1999, one month after In Loving Memory's first show, Tanner joined the band on second guitar.

In Loving Memory started playing numerous local shows at places like the Botanical Center and Hairy Mary's in support of touring bands, with regional Iowan bands such as The VidaBlue from Iowa City and Meth and Goats from the Quad Cities, and with local Des Moines bands like Rue Morgue, Eclipse of Eden, and Black Market Fetus.  With the band's new found spazzier and nastier sound, playing shows together with Black Market Fetus, a band with a crusty grindcore sound, made sense and the two bands quickly developed a friendship.  Soon enough, an idea for the two bands to record and release a split tape was brought up.  Andy Koettel of Captain Three Leg fame recorded each band's side in January of 2000 in the basement of Nate Fetus' house, Nate being the vocalist of Black Market Fetus.  Nate's mom actually came down into the basement to see if everything was alright while Brian was rolling around on the ground and screaming into the mic.  A crude recording, definitely, while still getting the point across, I think this tape is a great example of each band's early sound.  Black Market Fetus's side is a mean assault of blown out grind, and the In Loving Memory side is a nasty spazzy slab of catchy and piercing screamo.  The photo used as the cover art was taken behind Hairy Mary's after Black Market Fetus and In Loving Memory had played a show together there.  Featuring Black Market Fetus brandishing whips, chains, and bats and In Loving Memory standing there in sweaters, tight black pants, and with spock rock haircuts, it's a funny juxtaposition to say the least.  200 copies of Black Market Fetus Vs. In Loving Memory were dubbed and sold at local shows.

In Loving Memory Side
1. Song #1
2. Song #2 One Fate Fraught Night Back In '91
3. Song #3
4. Song #4

Black Market Fetus Side
1. Working World
2. Wanderlust
3. Rotting
4. Unite and Fight
5. Starvation

Click to download.

Every so often the band's parents would allow them to be weekend warriors.  Playing out of town shows was something the band always looked forward to and got stoked on, and with the aid of Brian's station wagon and a topper to hold some gear, the band hit the road.  They would play towns around Iowa like Sioux City, Marshalltown, and Waverly and spots out of state like Omaha, Nebraska, Moline, Illinois, and Sioux Falls, making friends with bands like The Hareste, Edict of Milan, Love Lost but not Forgotten, Saqqara, System Failure, and Plosion.  The only "tour" In Loving Memory ever managed to pull off was Omaha, Sioux City, and Sioux Falls right in a row, playing with fellow Des Moines emo-violence band Eclipse of Eden, who headed out on a bigger tour after these three dates.  Playing in Waverly once, Spencer threw up all over his drumset but continued to play the set, spraying barf everywhere, and all the kids in Marshalltown just stood around looking confused while the members of In Loving Memory screamed and thrashed around at a mostly ska show thrown at a park shelter. 

Shows at this time back home in Des Moines were getting pretty good In Loving Memory as they were able to open up for some bigger touring acts.  The show they played with Converge at the Botanical Center was right around the time Converge released The Poacher Diaries with Agoraphobic Nosebleed, so it was definitely an intense show, especially considering the Botanical Center doesn't have a stage so each band played the floor.   The Hope Conspiracy was also supposed to play this show, but had broken down on the way to town, so just In Loving Memory and Converge played.  Botch also came through Des Moines and told In Loving Memory that they were the best local band they had ever played with on tour.  The band also played a few weirdo shows at this time as well, including a daytime show played as a joke at the Iowa State Fair.  The audience would simply sit and stare as the band threw their guitars and rolled around on stage, and absolutely no one in the audience would applaud between songs.

After a year had passed with this lineup and their sound became more refined, the band took a trip up to Sioux Falls to record a record at Earsay Studios, a studio where Spirit of Versailles, Eclipse of Eden, and others of the same ilk had recorded before.  When all was said and done, the band had recorded ten songs total, eight newer tracks that Tanner had written and two re-imagined songs from the Black Market Fetus split, all of which Jordan had written.  The band burned four sample tracks onto a CDr and passed them out at local shows with original intention for all of these songs to later be released on a professional CD, but all of these plans were about to change

Tanner was much older than the rest of the band.  At the time, he was 20 years old with the rest of the band members' ages ranging between 16 and 17.  He wanted to be able to tour hard, as much as possible, and this simply was not something that he could do with a band like In Loving Memory due to the rest of the band still being in high school.  Tanner had tried to rectify this situation by starting Examination of the... in July of 2000, a band made up of members around his own age and a band that he could tour with.  Still, Examination of the... began to take up more and more of Tanner's creative output and eventually he no longer had any time to give to In Loving Memory.  He quit the band at the end of September 2000.  The band's final set with him turned out to be the Botch show at the Botanical Center with Examination of the..., The Holland Floor, and Ill Fated.

With Tanner leaving the band, this left a gigantic creative hole in the band's lineup and created a sense of confusion amongst the remaining members.  Elliot Imes, a friend of the band, stepped in to try and fill the hole that Tanner left.  Since he had been playing shows with In Loving Memory with his own band The Whore Moans since the Day of Atonement days, he was very familiar with their music and the best possible choice as a replacement, but this lineup lasted only a little over one month's time.  They did play some memorable shows, however, including a short set at the homecoming party for Des Moines Christian High School, a school that Brian and Spencer had basically been kicked out of the year before.  Jen could not make it for this show, so Joe Ross of Eclipse of Eden filled in as second vocalist.  After two songs, the principal of the school couldn't take it anymore and pulled the plug on the rest of their set.  The band threw a fit and Joe even got in the principal's face.  Still though, the band realized that with Tanner gone, the feeling just wasn't there anymore and they never really attempted to write any new material after his departure from the band.  The remaining members began to lose interest in the band, even considering that it was decided two of their tracks from the Sioux Falls recording sessions were soon to be released on a split 7" with Examination of the... on 605 Records, Tanner's own label.  This turned out to be the last release on this label, and the final nail in the coffin for the band, a shame since it's a great record.  When compared to the split with Black Market Fetus, the difference in recording quality is night and day on this 7".  In Loving Memory's side is fantastic, desperate emo-violence.  Examination of the...'s side is a nasty experiment in noisy hardcore, audio levels peaking all over the place.  Still, even with this record sounding as good as it does, on November 8th, 2000, In Loving Memory met their untimely demise.

In Loving Memory... side
1. This Closely Resembles The Knife In Your Hand And In My Back
2. Yeah I Burned All Our Old Pictures

Examination of the... side
1. She's No Stitch 
2. The Cubist

Click to download.

The band was finished, but they were still sitting on the rest of the unreleased songs from the Sioux Falls session.  Instead of letting the songs fade away into obscurity, the album was burnt to CDr and distributed among their friends in Des Moines and the friends they had made around the Midwest.  They called it "As Years Pass And Feel Like Seconds", a sweetly ironic name for the album.  It's a shame the band had a premature death, as the tracks on this CDr are very good and they are quite possibly the best example of Midwest emo-violence there is.  The guitar and bass playing are relentless and spot on, the near jazzy drumming is fantastic and always interesting, the vocals are nasty and piercing, and I love how the album ends in a song that's almost post rock, breaking the 4 minute mark.  It's an amazing swansong and really does a good job at capturing the band at their very best.

1. This Is Ours
2. Who You Enthrall
3. Moments Like These
4. Open The Door For Me
5. The Choice Has Always Been Yours
6. There's So Much To Say
7. I Burned It Down
8. Caught Up In The Most Simple Of Things
9. Remember
10. Tonight I Scream

Click to download.

After playing a single one off reunion show in March of 2001, the band was officially done for good.  After In Loving Memory, Brian, Joe, and Jordan formed Mourning Recluse with Eclipse of Eden frontman Rusty Steele.  This band eventually became Dispensing of False Halos.  Jordan left this band and went on to play a short stint in Innocence Broken and soon after started up Too Pure To Die.  He currently plays in Crusader.  Brian played in Dispensing of False Halos, and then Great Loss of Life, Wolves of War, and most currently Bedwetter in Florida.  Tanner continued to play in Examination of the... and today plays in Across Tundras.  Elliot played in a band called The Mezzanine for awhile and currently plays in Tyborn Jig.  

For having such a brief run, with the core lineup of Brian, Jen, Tanner, Jordan, and Spencer lasting a mere 10 months, In Loving Memory still managed to leave behind some great music.  Reunion show rumors have persisted but nothing has ever come to fruition.  A complete discography LP featuring the tracks on the split with Black Market Fetus and the tracks on the As Years Pass And Feel Like Seconds CDr has been in the works for nearly 10 years and is finally seeing the light of day very soon on Init Records.  By the time you are reading this it will most likely be available for purchase.  Make sure to check it out, as the tracks on the split tape have been mastered and should sound great.  Head to Init Record's website to grab a copy.

Please excuse the resolution of some of the images.  They were rescued from old Angelfire websites using the Internet Archive machine and I tried to make them look as best as I could.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

These Needles

These Needles was an art punk band from Iowa City.  The band was formed in early 2009 and, at the end of its run, consisted of Pat Larkin and Joe Ross on guitars, Joe Milik on drums, Brendan Wells on bass, and John Nagel on throat.

It was September of 2008 and I, Joe Milik, needed a change of pace.  I lived in Des Moines at the time, at the Haunted Basement, one of the city's last truly DIY spots.  I played in bands and booked shows at the spot, but over time I had grown a bit weary of the local Des Moines scene, attendance, attitudes, and all.  I needed to move.  I knew a few people that would let me sleep on their floor in Iowa City so, after wrapping up my bands and my time with the Haunted Basement, I caught the Greyhound east on I-80 with just my backpack full of some clothes and a toothbrush, and crashlanded on my friend Charles Free's carpeted floor.  I was now a resident of Iowa City.

I didn't know much about the local scene outside of the few bands that would come and play Des Moines every once in awhile (The Tanks is all, really), so I started going to house shows at places like the Exo Space and the Molded Nug.  I would see the likes of Supersonic Piss, Viking Fuck, and Warmorgan play (alongside a ton of noise acts coming through town) and seeing the warm support for weirder bands got me stoked to start a band of my own in new territory for me.  All I needed were some like minded folks to get on board.

Besides crashing on Charles' floor, I would also pass out on my friend Darrin Ling's couch from time to time.  This is how I ended up meeting Darrin's roommate Pat Larkin.  I think I was initially drawn to Pat because, well, he played guitar and he was weird.  And him being weird led to weird guitar playing, which I liked a lot.  Pat had heard me talk from time to time about wanting to start a punk band, and Pat himself had wanted to start a band himself, so one day we made it happen.  We went down into his basement in March of 2009 and started writing songs for our new "punk" band.  Props to Joe Scott for letting me use his drum set.  Thanks Joe!

We really didn't have a sound we were aiming for, we just knew we wanted it to be "punk" and that's all we went on.  Initially the first few songs Pat and I wrote at the time were a bit more offkilter and different than what I had been used to playing (which was thrash, straightforward hardcore punk), and I totally embraced that. What happened from trying to keep up with Pat's weirdo guitar work turned into some cool and interesting drum playing.  There were fast and hard punk parts, but all these parts were juxtaposed with a cool breakdown here or a nuts spazzy blastbeat there.  I liked where this was going. 

So, after we had a few songs written, four of them, we needed a bass player.  I never really had anyone else in mind to play bass in the band other than Brendan Wells.  I had known Brendan for awhile at the time, playing in bands with him when we both lived in Des Moines.  With he himself being a recent transplant to Iowa City as well, it only felt natural to ask him.  At first, he refused.  I don't know why, but it took a lot of pushing to get him to play in the band.  It was after asking no less than three times and then having him sit in on a practice that he finally said yes.

We were a three piece, had a few songs, and we were asked to play our first show.  I think the initial plans for the band were to have Pat do vocals and play guitar, but that wasn't really panning out at that moment in time, so we asked Pat's roommate Colin Kraemmer to do vocals for that show.  The show was with Loser Life from California, Warmorgan, and maybe one other band I can't remember, and it was at Public Space One.  We played 5 songs and a cover of the Ramone's 'Blitzkreig Bop'.  Yeah baby.  I don't really remember much about this show, so we probably sucked, who knows?  Brendan's amp might've went out, and Colin lost his voice, but that's about all I can recall.

Colin was only down to do the one show, so we needed to find another vocalist.  We had practiced a bit with Peter Tomka doing vocals, but that didn't work out (sorry dude!).  After brainstorming it over with Brendan, we both came to the conclusion that John Nagel, another kid we knew from back in the Des Moines days, would probably be the perfect choice.  He was smart and he knew how to write.  We asked him to come check our new band out at the Picador for our next show, the only show we ever played as a three piece, and after our set, we asked John what he thought about the band.  It was pretty good, he said.  We then asked if he'd want to do vocals in the band, and he said yes.

Having John in the band was the turning point of having the band being a pretty okay thing to being something rad that I had a ton of fun playing in.  He was a great frontman, had a great voice, and really knew what he was doing, so all-in-all, he really made the band more of a weird and fucked up presence.  That all became aparent during his first show with us at the Molded Nug with Supersonic Piss and Total Abuse (who never showed up): he showed up right as we finished setting up, got on the mic and killed it.  This was the first show that I remember the band sounding way good and having lots of mosh happen.

By this time it was getting the be the end of Summer.  Pat moved (back) to Minneapolis, but that didn't stop him from driving down to Iowa City all the time to practice and play shows.  We played some more shows, some at the White Lightning Warehouse (which is, in my opinion, one of the most important DIY spots that Iowa has ever had, and it was a pleasure to have a hand in making it all happen) and we decided to record our first demo tape.  At this point the band really had it's sound going.  Strange and snazzy songs firmly in the realm of "hardcore punk" but with a weirdo twist thanks to Pat's jangly, noisy guitar playing and my deliberate attempt at playing something "different" than what I was used to playing on the drums; bits of a blast beat here, a weird drum fill there.  With all the details ironed out, John, Brendan, and I drove up to Minneapolis to meet up with Pat and record in his basement with the help of his roommate Ali Jafar.  We recorded 8 tracks, put them on cassette, and headed out on a short midwest tour at the end of Novemeber of 2009, with dates in Minnesota, Iowa, and Nebraska.  I like this tape a lot, it really shows off the band's sound as a four piece.

1.  Abductor
2.  Cover to Cover
3.  Another Night's Dread
4.  Indebted
5.  The Demand for Him
6.  When Consumption Assumes Disposition
7.  Gutted
8.  Labored Breathing

Click to download.

Before our little midwest tour, I went on a Tanks tour out to the east coast and back (I met Jeff Nelson on this tour and he gave us a personal tour of his house!) and Joe Ross, the drummer of the Tanks, had been bugging me about letting him join These Needles on second guitar.  By bugging I don't really mean bugging, but he did ask a lot!  We had talked about it before with the rest of the band dudes, and everyone seemed down, so why not?  When These Needles had gotten back from the midwest tour at the end of November, Joe Ross officially joined the band on second guitar.  The addition of Joe made the band sound harsher, noisier, even more on the verge of falling apart, and definitely solidified the sound as "hardcore punk".  I loved it.

Joe learned the songs, we played shows, and Dan Davis, then of Be Kind To Yr Neighbor and formerly of Weather is Happening and Ricky Fitts, asked if he could put out a 7" for us on his new label he was starting called You Touch Us You Die Records.  Of course we were down.  I don't remember the exact conditions that these songs were recorded under, but I do remember they were recorded at my house I was living in at the time, 649 S. Governor, by Pat to four track.  These were the first recordings to feature Joe and, until now, have been unreleased, which is a shame as this version of "I Have the Power..." is my favorite.  I wonder if anyone else from the band remembers recording this?

1.  When Consumption Assumes Disposition
2.  The Demand for Him
3.  Cover to Cover
4.  I Have the Power... To Change the Channel

Click to download.

By this point in time, we had made good friends with other local freaks Supersonic Piss, so we planned a two week tour with them out to the east coast and back when the weather started to get warmer.  Before that though, both bands needed to record their own respective sides of a planned split 7" between the two of us with enough time to press it before tour started.  Guess what?  Neither band finished in time, so we opted for a split tape instead.  These tracks were recorded in one long day by Pat at my house again.  Joe Heuermann did the killer art for it, and when the end of May 2010 came, we took this tape on the road with us.  The newer songs on this tape really show the band becoming more chaotic and fucked up. 

These Needles Side
1. Six Pack
2. I Have the Power... To Change the Channel
3. Protoculture Ooze
4. Old & Die Phase
5. When Consumption Assumes Disposition
6. Gutted
7. Indeed I Am My Brother's Keeper
8. Overripe
9. Sleepwalk

Supersonic Piss Side
1. Toilet Death
2. Father Bother
3. Buck Angel of Death
4. Rape Farm
5. Skate
6. Oh, the Nut Sack

Click to download.

Pat documented the trip and you can view his amazing photos of the trip here.  It was a fun tour for sure.  Highlights include meeting the lovely Sharon and her crackhead lesbian companion in an alley in Baltimore, floating through a steamy Jason Voorhees style swamp at 3AM outside of Horseheads, NY, playing with an ex-Verse (straight edge hardcore band, if you didn't know) band in Providence and watching all the kids that showed up get bummed when the band got really drunk and played so sloppy, hanging out in a haunted nunnery in Toledo, and doing the feats of strength every night that would determine which band played first and which band played second.  Some of the shows were WACK (like playing with Cottonball Man in Pittsburgh, what the fuck was that shit?) but I look back on this tour fondly and I'm glad we did it.

When we got home from the tour, we were invited by our friend Travis Nordahl to come up to McNally Smith recording college in St. Paul where he was studying so he could record us on their sick equipment for free.  Some would argue "not punk" but free sounds good to me.  Travis recorded all the songs we had written up to that point onto 2" analog tape.  I was totally stoked because what we recorded sounded a lot better than the tapes we had been putting out.  These recordings sounded a lot cleaner than what we sounded like live, so it really gave a different perspective on our music.  The recording took a single session and mixing took another, and we had it wrapped up outside of level tweaks within two days.  We were planning on putting out our own 7" with some of these songs and saving the rest for later.

After the tour and the recording sessions, we wrote a few more songs and did another tiny midwest tour which included my personal favorite show we ever played, in Omaha at The Manor, a weird one that involved having a bunch of mosh bands whose show got cancelled across town come and "open" for us.  There were a bunch of mosh kids there that left as soon as the last e-string was chugged.  It was weird, but we still ruled that night!  We played ICT Fest the next day in Wichita, where they cut us off after playing 10 minutes but then mistakenly paid us twice, suckers.  Another stand out show at this point was the AIDS Wolf show at the White Lightning Warehouse, which was Supersonic Piss' first show with Joe Ross on drums after Jason Miller moved away to Lincoln.   This time period was the best the band ever sounded to me...

...And it's also the time period that the band seemed to, at least in my eyes, lose it's momentum.  It's hard having a crucial member of the band live 5 hours away.  It makes song writing difficult and it was getting to be a pain to play local shows without having to plan things out way in advance.  It's kind of a bummer realizing deep down that you know something cool, like this band, might be coming to an end sooner than you would like, before you could really fully appreciate what you had done with it.

It was reaching the end of the year now, and Jason Miller had asked us to come play a show with his new band in Lincoln.  It was a good show, in the basement of a record shop that was going out of business.  Jason's band, Moistoid and the Dumps (or maybe it was The Duke of the Hazardous Wastepool?) killed it I thought; Jason had gotten really good at drumming.  We also played with Violator X, Acid Mouth, and Diamonds R 4Eva, who were all good.  It was a sick show, definitely, with a lot of mosh.  Afterwards, while staying at Jason's, we had the talk and, long story short, we decided to end the band after our show the next day in Iowa City, an all local fest at the White Lightning Warehouse.

The show, called Santa Fest, turned out to be a wild one.  Our set consisted of tons of mosh and John removing his belt and whipping the crowd with it.  My bass pedal broke for a little bit, but outside of that, it was a great way to go out.  The only actual video that exists of the band comes from this show (although I do know someone taped us in Chicago!  Who are you dude?  I'd love to see that footage too!) and is just 26 seconds long.  Oh well, at least you get to see my good friend Aaron Barger barrel through the crowd at the beginning of the video:

So, on December 17th, 2010, These Needles ceased to be.  We died.  We're dead.  RIP.  But you may be wondering what happened to those tracks we recorded in St. Paul?  We still had plans for those.  Eventually Brendan, John, and I drove up to St. Paul again, met up with Pat and Travis, and recorded our 4 final songs that we had written after the initial recording session.  After a long and arduous mixing and mastering process that took nearly 9 months, the songs from both of these sessions were pressed to LP.  Due to a huge misunderstanding at the plant, two of the songs were left off the LP, but I've included them as the final two tracks in the download below.  Brendan and I did the art for the release and compiled a big booklet that comes with the record documenting the band's existence through flier scans and photos.  We put a lot of work into this, so please enjoy:

1.  Overripe
2.  Another Night's Dread
3.  I Was Ingenue
4.  The Demand for Him
5.  Cover to Cover
6.  Indebted
7.  Abductor
8.  I Have the Power... To Change the Channel
9.  Indeed I Am Not My Brother's Keeper
10.  Old & Die Phase
11.  Gutted
12.  Protoculture Ooze
13.  When Consumption Assumes Disposition
14.  A New Kind of Voyeurism
15.  Labored Breathing
16.  Preacher of Whim
17.  Freak Out Squares

Click to download.

So, there it is.  That's all, folks.  That was the history of my little band, and there's all of our recorded output.  We played shows and had fun.  Sometimes I think back and wonder if maybe we should have done things a bit differently.  Maybe we should've tried to work out the problems that band was having instead of ending it so quickly?  Maybe not.  It was definitely a learning experience and I'm glad I was apart of it.  I'm glad I made the music I did and I'm glad I met the people I did.  Maybe it was the time and the place, but if it wasn't, These Needles helped me realize that, even if you don't know many people in a music scene, with some heart and some hard work, others will accept and encourage the art you create. 

Everyone from the band went on to play in other bands.  Currently Pat plays guitar in the Miami Dolphins in Minneapolis, Brendan plays bass in Solid Attitude and does vocals for NERV, Joe Ross plays drums in Supersonic Piss, Slut River, and the Tanks, John does vocals in Error, and I play drums for NERV, Big Box, and Error.  Check all of those bands out if you have the time.  They're all excellent. 

If you would like a copy of the LP, I have around 15 left, so shoot me an e-mail:

Stay punk, folks.