The Reatards Fallout Records, Seattle – 1999
It's been just over ten years since that was filmed. On the first cross country jaunt by (a just old enough to drive) Jay and his make shift band. As whip fast and damaging as that daytime instore was, that night's gig has gone down in Seattle’s punk rock history books. A local oaf was heckling the Reatards as they played at the downtown venue The Gibson House (RIP). Jay, not one to take lightly these jabs at his character, watched as the drunken punk walked out the door. As he waited to cross the street, Jay threw down his guitar, opened the sliding window (stage left), jumped out and ran to the intersection. The crowd watched in awe as the band continued, not missing a damaged beat…and acting as though this happens all the time. It does. Jay laid a few steady blows, a few crazy man arm swings, wrestled about, and then came back in to finish the song.
This left a lasting imprint on me.
Not as much an imprint as it did on the pulpy, drunk outside, but…
This was art as terrorism. Band vs. crowd. He was the rare kind of frontman that does this not for the audience's sake, but for himself. This was his release. A tension breaker. Therapy. Jay was in it deep. If he hadn't been, he'd prolly have been a criminal or something. I dunno.
Jump starting his music career at fifteen after seeing Memphis locals The Oblivians, a wee Jimmy Lee Lindsey took to a broken 4-track like some folks take to a crack pipe. A steady diet of that and nothing but. Writing and recording daily. And with his ghetto blaster technique locked down, he spat forth more hate-fueled riffs, vulgar remarks and cardboard tub thumps than the then garage-over-punk crowds were prepared for.
He had the drive to create and work and tour…and yes, piss people off. But he earned all the success that he got in this world and it was a long up hill battle. A lot of us scenester schleps (at least some of us older ones) have always said that Jay was like the little (ahem) "reatarded" brother…the one that tried to do right but somehow always seemed to screw something up. Like break up a band on tour. Get kicked out of bars, clubs, and homes. Argue with his girlfriends on public web forums. Beat up fans. Start a fight with a friend of mine…at a wedding!?! Pissing on all the wrong/right people. Etc.
Jay was always trying to cram as many creative endeavors he could into what little time he thought he had. Start up a label. Promote friends' bands. Record others' albums. And continue to record and press a seemingly endless supply of tunes. I hadn’t seen him play so much over the past years, and in all honesty, his post Blood Visions work wasn’t really my bag, but I respected him for changing it up, trying new things. When he got bored with punk, he started a synth band. When he got tired of synths, he started a pop project. When people expected bubblegum, he’d give them sheer noise. And so on. And finally in his late 20’s he was getting to see some fame and profit from years of hard work and abuse. A long slow rise to some middle-tier fame.
The loser done good. He bought his mom a house, fer God's sakes. He’d help dad out with bills. Jay wasn't the monster of his youth anymore. Mostly. Except in his stage persona. Reatard is and was always a stage persona. And he had to keep up appearances.
The boy had talent...or, on a base level, at least tenacity. Little f**ker wasn’t gonna’ quit. He also had serious mood swings and the occasional drug issue, but there's no reason to get into that here...to each his own creative process. Jay was always friendly when I met him. He's the only “rock star” persona that actually helped me sell one of his early singles on e-Bay. He piped up on some forums to make sure everyone knew this 45 was a true first pressing of a sought after early single. Thanks to his stamp of approval, I paid my rent that month. But I do miss that record. Collector scum protects their own.
The Reatards. The Lost Sounds. Final Solutions. Bad Times. Angry Angles. Nervous Patterns. Destruction Unit. Terror Visions. The Lids...it goes on and on. Over 100 releases. The quantity and quality to this body of work is astounding…
I got up early today and swilled a pot of coffee, just for the purpose of trying to wake up and have something worthy to say. Was he a favorite? Am I a (gasp) fanboy? The lump in my throat, the same swelling I got when Lux Interior past, tells me so. Yeah. I dug the kid. I was label mates with the early Lost Sounds for a reason. And some ways, I probably started a band from seeing him go thru the motions. Everyone needs an escape route. His was destroying mirror balls and microphones.
When he rolled through (bowled over) the Amoeba stores this past summer, I actually felt a sense of pride having him here. He was my people. A kid who transcended his little shitty KBD beginnings and flirted with actual success. I also quietly relished the idea of the total annihilation that could lay in his wake. Will I spend the next week rebuilding the jazz room? A shot in the ass to all the stale “we applaud you” instores that go down. Things should get broken. It’s how he rolls. We should expect it. Most didn’t. But for all the scares and frantic e-mails that occurred, he came to Berkeley a gentleman and seemed to feel relaxed and at home. The band was stoked to see some faces they actually knew. Or ones like folks they knew. Allies.
So as a fitting end to all this rambling, I leave you with a DJ set list. The songs I played for the Reatard band after they showed this sleepy burg a good what for. It catered to their southern roots, friends and extended family of bands. Truth be known, kids…most groups don’t want to listen to their own record...especially night after night on tour. They’ve heard it enough. Trust me.
Thanks for stopping by.
Forever a GONER.
KBD. OOP. SSLD.
1. Lost Sounds – "Rat Brains & Microchips"
2. Reigning Sound – "Let Yourself Go"
3. Nervous Eaters - "Loretta"
4. Royal Pendeltons – "Sore Loser"
5. Hex Dispensers – "Channel 13 Is Haunted"
6. Pagans – "Nowhere To Run"
7. Oblivians – "Dealt A Losing Hand"
8. ‘68 Comeback – "Muddy Boots"
9. Penetrators – "Shopping Bag"
10. Die Rotzz – "Knifed From Behind"
11. Persuaders – "Left For Dead"
12. The Reatards – "Fashion Victim"
13. Adverts – "We Who Wait"
14. Wire – "15th" (Live)
15. Viva L’American Deathray – "What Goes On"
16. Compulsive Gamblers – "Sour & Vicious Man"
17. Freestone – "Bummer Bitch"
18. Mentally Ill – "Gacy’s Place"
19. Bad Times – "Trapped In This City"
20. Reigning Sound - "Medication"
21. Carbonas - "Blackout"
22. Blacktop – "Blazing Streets"
23. Oblivians – "Vietnam Blues"
24. Digital Leather – "Black Flowers"
25. Jay Reatard – "Venom Victims Wine"
26. Final Solutions – "My Love Is Disappointing"
27. Urinals – "Black Hole"
28. NoBunny – "I Am A Girlfriend"
29. Anteenagers MC – "Future’s (Coming Tomorrow)"
30. Cheap Time – "Spoiled Brat"