Sunday, March 18, 2007

Mort’s Pre-Mono Men Rock History and Why Lou Guzzo Still Sucks.

As a long-time Lamestain reader, you probably know that Bellingham holds a very special place in our hearts. While we hated living up there at the time, we have since realized that Bellingham is actually a pretty cool town. Really, most of the hatred was because of Sehome High School and the fact that none of their cheerleaders would ever talk to me about Blood Circus or Tad. Sigh. Besides that, Bellingham has some great things going for it. Perhaps the greatest thing to ever come out of the ‘Ham were the Mono Men. Yes, before Idiot Pilot took the world by storm, the Mono Men were voted Bellingham’s Most Likely to Succeed Band. For it was through Crider and Company’s awesome cover songs that we learned about the Nomads, the Scientists, and the Outsiders back in ye olde days, and we are forever grateful for it. If it weren’t for the influences of the Mono Men, Estrus Records, and the sorely missed 3B Tavern, we’d probably be boring doctors or Senators instead of hot-shot rock & rollers. And while Dave Crider was considered the “cute” Mono Man, we always favored the “smart” one, Mort. Lamestain will eventually get to the Mono Men, but right now we are going to give props to Mort’s earlier bands, the legendary Seattle hardcore band the Dehumanizers and Bellingham’s garage rockers Game for Vultures.

The Dehumanizers formed in 1984 and recorded a few records, swapped out some band members, played a ton of shows, and then broke up in the late 1980s. Our favorite line-up was the one featured on the 1986 Kill Lou Guzzo EP (Subcore Records SUB7EP0001) and consisted of Mort (bass/vocals), Zoli (guitar), Infra Ed (drums), Intense (bass), and Gobot (vocals). They played fast hardcore punk with a slight thrash metal influence that was creeping into the scene by the mid-80s. Their label, Subcore Records, is also long gone, but at the time, label honcho David Portnow had a bit of a record label empire. Besides Subcore, he ran Ever Rat Records (metal), Ever Dread (reggae), and Ever Rap (uh, rap), and he released records by the pre-Treepeople band State of Confusion, Coven, A.M.Q.A., the Accused, the Mentors, Lethal Dose, Dumt, and the Metal Metaldown compilations. The Kill Lou Guzzo EP was probably his most infamous record because it set off a legal brouhaha.

The band, like a lot of decent people, thought Lou Guzzo, a former newspaper journalist/KIRO commentator/Washington governor Dixy Lee Ray salad-tosser/professional curmudgeon, was an annoying windbag. Mr. Guzzo, who we feel helped pave the way for other irritating Seattle TV blabbermouths like Ken Schram and John Carlson, polluted the local airwaves for most of the 80s and was known for his grumpy old man rants. One of his most notorious commentaries was when Lou Guzzo, miffed about a recent Circle Jerks/Dehumanizers riot, came out in favor of the Teen Dance Ordinance and basically called punk rockers losers who need to find better hobbies than music. On the song “Kill Lou Guzzo,” the band sampled the commentary and included some lyrics about dating Lou’s daughter. Lou, being the square fuddyduddy that he is, caught wind of the song and promptly sued the band for copyright infringement and defamation/invasion of his daughter’s privacy. Subcore, smelling a hit, promptly pressed more records, which further pissed off KIRO and Lou.

While kids are now free to enjoy all-ages shows, during the mid-eighties, all-ages shows and dances were a source of controversy amongst lame Seattle politicians and dumb Seattle media members. To the Seattle elite, punk rockers were a source of all that was evil in this town, and the elite claimed that all-age venues were dens of drug, alcohol, sex, and deviant behavior. This led the city council to write the draconian Teen Dance Ordinance in 1985, which essentially put the kybosh on all-ages shows by making them unprofitable via requiring club owners/promoters to purchase million-dollar insurance policies, to hire two off-duty police officers for security, and to restrict entry to persons aged 15-20 years. Outside of some trouble at the occasional punk show, most of the ordinance was aimed at places like the Monastery, which was a nonprofit Universal Life Church that held all-ages dances and was allegedly a hotbed for child prostitution, drug and alcohol use, and other abuses. Since I prostituted my teenage self at a different Catholic church, I cannot comment on whether the Monastery allegations were true or exaggerated. Of course, Seattle’s dumbass politicians never bothered to legally define the difference between a dance and a concert and also allowed an exception for nonprofits and schools, so technically, the ordinance didn’t affect places like the Monastery. So good job, geniuses! Anyhow, this law lasted until 2002, when it was replaced by the All-Ages Dance Ordinance, which eased restrictions by quite a bit, and kids have been happy ever since. Not only that, but the city now subsidizes the all-ages venue, the Vera Project, which probably pisses that old geezer Lou off to no end. Anyhow, back to the Man of the Hour, Mort.

After leaving the Dehumanizers, Mort packed his bags, moved north, and formed the garage rock power trio, Game for Vultures. Along with guitarist/singer Mort, the band featured bassist Shauna and drummer Jeff. Their sole EP, Goin’ My Way, was recorded by Conrad Uno at Egg Studios in 1989, released by Estrus records in 1990, and reissued in 1994. The band also contributed “He’s Waiting” to the 1989 Here Aren’t The Sonics tribute record (Estrus/Popllama), the Easybeats cover “Sorry” to the 1990 Estrus Lunch Bucket 3x7” boxset, and “Don’t Bring Me in There” to the 1991 On the Rocks Volume One 7” (Estrus). The song “Arizona,” which was recorded live at the Up & Up Tavern, was included on the Gritty Kitty Records compilation cd, North of Nowhere. The band lasted a few years before Mort joined the Mono Men and Shauna and Jeff formed Medelicious, who recorded a couple singles in the early 90’s before disbanding.

Former Dehumanizers have since formed the surf band, the Manatees, and there is talk of a re-mastered, re-mixed Dehumanizers retrospective. Regarding Lou, he is still alive and kicking and busies himself with a blog where he spouts off on random topics and provides the answers for every goddamn problem in the world. His daughter’s current whereabouts are unknown.

Kill Lou Guzzo EP

"Everybody Fight"
"Sing Thru Me"
"Grandma (I'm a Drug Fiend)"
"Kill Lou Guzzo"
"God Men of the Future"

"Goin' My Way"
"I Need You"
"Surfin' Bellingham Bay"


Get Dehumanizers EP as a .zip file here.
Game For Vultures .zip file here.

-- MC Tom


Steve said...

Hey Lamestain --

That's some kickass coverage of the "Kill Lou Guzzo" saga, especially your Smoking Gun-like lawsuit letter from the Mormon-owned KIRO. (It appears to have a photocopied Dehumanizers flyer on the back, no?) As for Lou (who, if I remember correctly, my friend Mike once called a "fat piece of shit"), he's still no friend of the environment (and probably, no friend of punk kids either), but remains a self-proclaimed Voice of Reason. Interestingly, his February 21, 2007 commentary includes the phrase "colossal boner."

Later dudes -- Steve

Anonymous said...


Bo said...

It may just be me but I can't get those mp3's to play. I keep getting a weird messege about the files being currently inaccessible. Just wanted to let you know.

Lamestain HQ said...

Re: the mp3s. Our file-sharing source only allows a certain number of downloads/plays per month (once we pay off some other bills, we'll increase the number of downloads). In the mean time, I recommend downloading the mp3s via the .zip file. There should be no problem with those.

John said...

Mort here. A quick update on the Dehumanizers. I am actually going into the studio tomorrow with Zoli and Ed to Mix the Kill Lou Guzzo stuff for an upcoming CD release.

Lamestain HQ said...

Excellent! Will the "Lou Guzzo" track have his commentary on it, or do you have to delete that?

Anonymous said...

Hello! I just want to warning you that the "God Men of the Future" link is wrong

Best regards

The Fun Police said...

Ha! Just found my old Dehhumanizers tape, rewound it to Kill Lou Guzzo and went to the computer to refresh myself on the history around the song. Godd stuff, thanks Lamestain.

Anonymous said...

Hey Lamestain!
The links are corrupted.. Could you please re-upload them? Thanks :))