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New York, NY, United States
Formed Reagan Youth and House of God during the 80s with the late great Dave Insurgent. Now I'm back to burn with my new band DUST ANGEL and I've got the urge to record one last Reagan Youth album about the life and times of Stig Rotsky. My blog is where I rant, it's like a diary, an account of my trials and tribulations that occur with my band's past, it's present and a future that I presume will be fun and interesting as well.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Volume Two

Yes, I know, a bunch of you went "What the fuck?" after hearing Volume Two, especially when you compare it to Volume One. I can definitely understand that. What I will do is explain why this all came to be. Now let me just make clear that Dave and I had been writing songs since junior high and by the time Reagan Youth's first gig, we had a full set of songs ready to go. At that very first show, at A7, for an encore we played "One Holy Bible" though the drummer wanted to do the breakdown part of "Queen Babylon". Now they were called by different names back then, and they went through several name changes until they were finally recorded on Volume Two. So those songs were around at the exact same time as everything from "Youth Anthems For the New Order". But the tunes remained the same, and so did a few of the lyrics. But we continued to write songs, but some of the songs we wrote were not for Reagan Youth, so we reserved those tunes for our next band, which we called House of God. Three of us (Dave, Javier and I) were playing in House of God when recording we started recording Volume Two. But all the songs on Volume Two are in no way, shape or form House Of God songs, I mean shit, we played "Back To the Garden" back at Max's Kansas City and just look at the last time that place was open. Now that I got the fact that a majority of those songs we had from the beginning, let me explain what happened.

We started recording in the Spring of 1989, right after Reagan Youth had disbanded. We wanted to play that one last Reagan Youth show, in D.C., as our farewell, so I called up our bassist, Victor Venom, and asked him about playing it. Victor answers the phone and tells me that he never wants to see us, let alone play a gig with us, again. So that was the end of that. Javier, Dave and I were playing in a new band, House of God, with a new bassist, Chris Simunek, and we were ready to fuck with organized religion the way Reagan Youth fucked with right wing politics, and that wasn't going to be the only change. The music had became more complex, but it would still remain catchy as hell. So instead of two minute political punk rock songs, we were going to play 8 minute songs about the evils of organized religion. Around this time is when Dave and I met Nicky Garratt, the guitarist from the U.K. Subs.

Dave and I met Nicky at the Palllidium and he told us about his new label, "New Red Archives'. He offers to re-release our only record, a seven song e.p., under the condition that we add whatever songs were leftover from those 'Youth Anthems For The New order' sessions, making it album length. Dave and I had a condition of our own; we wanted to put out another album which would consist of all the other Reagan Youth songs that we never got around to recording. So we gave Nicky a demo tape of that stuff. Now the only other thing we ever did with that demo was bring it to Metal Blade (or was it Road Runner?) records. We were told that they only release metal, no punk, and that we should come back when we had House Of God ready. So we took home our complimentary King Diamond (or was it Mercyful Fate?) records and nothing more was ever done with the demo, until we gave it to Nicky Garratt. So Nicky ends up agreeing.

Now a whole year goes by when I finally gave Nicky a call. I told him "Alright, we're ready to do this" and he's like "But Paul, that was a year ago?". We end up having a discussion about Dave and his drug use and I ended up assuring Nicky that I'd be responsible for making sure the shit got done. What one has to understand putting out one last Reagan youth album, let alone re-releasing our first e.p. as a complete album was taking aback seat to our new band, House Of God. Our new band was so much more important to Dave and I because we had been developing these songs for the past two or three years. It wasn't that putting out some more Reagan Youth material was unimportant, it's just that House Of God was gonna be the band that I, and I can assume Dave, felt that we could actually make it in the music business. Reagan Youth was well known, but we were viewing House of God as being something that could be more than just well known; that we could actually become "big". Oh well, so much for that dream happening.

Mixing Volume I went smooth enough, with Dave choosing alternate versions of every song on "Youth Anthems for the New Order" and adding three new songs; "In nDog We Trust", "No Class" and "Anytown". But it was time now to record the songs for Volume II. I called Victor and asked him if he could put aside whatever bullshit there was and to 'just come in and play' bass. Victor said he'd do it so we were set going into the studio. Nicky books studio time at Saatchi & Saatchi, an advertising company who have a topof the line recording equipment so they can record all their jingles and shit. It was going to be real fuckin' sweet recording the rest of our songs there. Unfortunately, that would be our only visit to Saatchi Studios because the security & staff from the building told Nicky that Dave wasn't to be allowed back in there, not even allowed to walk through the front door into the lobby. It had everything to do with the way he looked, or more to the point, the way he smelled. Dave's addiction had made him 'tore up from the floor up' but at least at that time he was showin' up. So we went to record at Toxic studios instead, and first thing I did was borrow a Fender Precision for Victor to play. We always had to supply Victor with a bass when he played in the band, he considered himself a guitarist first, and soon he began playing bass like it was beneath him. And now when it was time to record, it was no different, but actually, way worse.

Now we hadn't seen, let alone played with, Victor in the longest time but I was certain of one thing, that Victor could play. The only thing was that Victor came in and played some real uninspired shit. I'm sure he thought he was keeping it punk and snotty but the only time Victor showed any real interest, at all, was when he asked me "So how does Nausea get the same record deal as Reagan Youth?". I pointed to Nicky, who was present in the studio at the time, and said "Well Nicky's right over there. I mean, he is the guy to ask, the label owner, not me". So Victor just shrugged his broad, lean, masculine shoulders and walked over to speak with Nicky. Well it was no more than a week before Victor tells us that he has to leave, that he can't record with us any more because he has to go on tour with Nausea. The record wasn't close to being finished but he just shrugged and said "too bad".

Right after he left I went and recorded an alternate bass track for "Get the Ruler Out". I told Dave and Nicky that Victor's bass playing wasn't worth shit, and they wanted to hear Vic's playing before any decisions were made. So I told the engineer, Jim Fourniadis, to play for them Vic's bass track so they could hear it for themselves. He plays them "Get The Ruler Out" and they immediately tell me "The bass sounds great" and "Vic's playing is fine, don't touch it, what are you crazy?". Now I'm listening to it along with them and I'm like "What the fuck?" because it didn't sound like this before. So I go and ask Jim "Is that the bass that Victor's playing?" and Jim tells me he's playing the bass track I recorded. So I went and explained to Dave and Nicky that Jim had played my bass track instead of Vic's and right away Dave said "You should play bass on the album"/ It would be extra work for me to record the bass on all of the songs but Dave wanted that and Nicky was cool with it immediately. On Volume II I'm listed as; Pusi Koorahtz, bassist.

Now when you go in a re-record the songs again, that means time is a wasting, and even bigger, money is being wasted. Dave would say "You're taking the costs out of the record sales, so what does it matter" but Nicky was uncomfortable, and how could he not be? But even more important, was the music itself. When you record songs without a full band being present, problems arise. For instance, on "One Holy Bible", the 'improved' part was to be played by all three musicians simultaneously. When Victor left, I had to focus on getting the arrangement right instead of playing the improvisation. On "Queen Babylon", during the 'breakdown' part, we mistakenly played it five times instead of the usual four, so I had to throw out what I usually did as a guitar solo and start from scratch. And when I said let's go record it again the engineer, Jim, told me "Nicky said no more of that, if it sounds decent, then we go to the next song". Now for the most part, we were able to get through it, but those songs and some others could have and should have been played much better, not to mention mixed down. So No Thanks To Victor the Sphincter for all the time and money

Another band member who also went missing, but for different reasons, was the most crucial one, the singer, the leader; Dave Insurgent. "Since I don't play an instrument, I really don't need to be here" was his excuse whenever he didn't show up for the basic track recordings but at least he would show up enough times. When the music was finished it was time for Dave's vocals. A block of time was booked for Dave to come in and sing but he doesn't show up. I called him up and asked "What happened?" and he comes up with some lame story about waiting the entire night for his superintendent to come by and fix his toilet. So another block of time was booked but Dave blows it off again. When I called him up this second time, he starts in with the nonsense about his super and his toilet. Well this goes on and on, again and again and Nicky and I begin to wonder if Dave is ever gonna show up. And just if you're wondering, yes, Dave knew he was welcomed to bring his drugs and paraphernalia into the studio. None of us were gonna bust his balls about pulling hits off his crack pipe in between singing his verses, we knew Dave was not ready to give up drugs, we just wanted him to come in and do what he did, sing Reagan youth songs.

So it got to the point where Nicky comes up with the idea of bouncing Dave's vocals from the band's demo onto the new recordings. I thought that would sound like shit so I came up with a better idea; I'd go down, find Dave, and personally escort him to the studio. I went to his place but he wasn't there so I left a note on his door, basically saying that he better show up tonight, and sing every fuckin' song, or I'd take giant shit on him like something fierce, you motherfucker, you better show up! Y'know, like that. It got his attention because he called me, pronto, and told me how fucked up my note was I'm was like "Yeah, yeah, whatever. Now make sure you just show the fuck up.", and yes, he did.

That night Nicky and I met up with Dave at a deli that was near the studio. Nicky bought him a tea and some lozenges to soothe his throat and then we escorted Dave to the studio and explained to Jim, the engineer, that Dave could not leave, under no circumstances, the studio until he sand a take on every song. Nicky and I leave them alone to do their thing and I go home. The next time I see Jim I ask him how Dave's vocal session went. He told me that Dave sang two tracks on each song before he left, and that he said he'd come back to fix up all his weak spots, which were many, let's face it. But days went by and soon they turned to weeks and it became obvious that Dave wasn't in any rush to come by the studio. As the lead singer, laying down vocal tracks are important, but as the leader of the band, mixing down the record was just as, if not, more important. Nicky had been so patient with us but by this time his patience was just about gone. So Nicky asks me what should be done and I tell him "Just go use whatever we have" as I figured Dave would call up eventually, outraged that he didn't sort through and edit out all the bullshit. Basically, to come in and give it a final mix. I was pissed something fierce at the way Dave was behaving, so my thinking at that time was "Let Dave go bitch to Nicky about how it can't be released like that when he finally decides to show up". I knew in the back of my mind that Nicky would allow Dave to do that, but unfortunately, Dave never ever did show up at the studio.

Soon after that I get this phone call, but it's not from Dave or Nicky. Some police officer is calling to ask me what I know about Dave. I ask him "What happened?" and the cop says "You tell me" like some real wise ass. So I'm like "Okay, so Dave's in jail?" and the cop says "No, no, no. He's not in jail". Next I ask "Is he dead?" and the cop chuckles at that one as he says "Oh no, he's not dead". I take a moment to think what's left and I say "So he's in rehab?" and the cop says "Nope. He's not in rehab". At this point I'm all out of ideas so I'm like "I give up, so where is he?" and the cop tells me to "Go call his parents if you want to find out", and so I do. I get Dave's mom on the line and she tells me that "Someone beat David up with a baseball bat and he just came out of a coma".

The next day I visit Dave in the hospital and boy is it tough, he looks like hell. Dave's eye lid was swollen so much it reached all the way down to his upper lip. His parents were there and I find out that he needed a lobotomy to save his life. Eventually, he gets discharged from the hospital but Dave now has stitches going around his forehead from ear to ear. When Dave finally recovered, as best he could, I asked him what happened. Dave told me he couldn't remember anything. Neither Dave nor I insisted on getting back the tapes and giving it a real final mix. At that time, I was just hoping that Dave would be able to do the artwork for the album and the ensuing CD. I'm sure Dave could have convinced Nicky to get back the tapes, and allow him to re-mix it, but how could Dave even think about that stuff when life altering events, for the worse, had happened to him. Of course I wish I had actually taken home a cassette of the recordings, and dissected them, and then actually mixed it down, but I had assumed Dave would have eventually taken care of it. I remember when Nicky sent us the final mix on cassette, I kept telling Dave that I had put backing vocals throughout "Acid Rain" and boy did that freak him out. When he finally heard it, he was cool with the backing vocals, but not all those lead guitar tracks. The lead guitar track behind Dave's vocals on "Urban Savages" works just fine, on "Miss Teen America" and "Get The Ruler Out", it doesn't. It was too late to go back, just like it was too late for Dave to go back and live without having Frankenstein like stitches forever crowning his countenance. And so that is how Volume Two ended up sounding the way it did.

In retrospect, things just went from bad to worse from the time I called Victor to play on the record. So many sessions (weeks and weeks worth) were wasted because of his shit playing. Javier told us, afterwards, that Victor had told him the only reason he was going to do the record with us was because he knew the record would make money, and that's all he was doing it for. Too bad Victor didn't show up to play some bass that didn't suck instead. Then there was the time when Javier had brought his brand new motorcycle to the studio in order to show it to us. He parked it out front, on the street, and by the end of the session it had been stolen. Things were going like that and it didn't make things better, obviously. That it all culminated with Dave getting beaten an inch from his life just made it all pretty miserable. Do I hate Volume Two? No, I do not, but that my bass playing is way better than my guitar playing says a whole lot. I love the songs on it, I just wish we could've played them way better.


daniel said...

Hey Paul,

Thanks for the story, it's good to get it all in context. We're thinking about coming out to see you guys soon, we should all go out for beers man. You down?


pewsterbaby said...

Hi. My name is Matt and I used to be friends with Dave starting in the Fall of 1988 until around Fall of 1989. I used to see him a few times a week, as the two of us would hang out at Chris & Whitney's apartment on 3rd street next door to The Hells Angel's clubhouse.
We got along great & seemed to be a lot alike, disposition-wise. Both Virgos & musically knowledgeable.
I knew about Regan Youth. I mean, I'd heard of them. We would walk around copping together and he told me one day about The House of God thing, but at that time, it was just a song. I'd say,"Oh yeah. Sing me a little." He'd go, in that raspy voice,"The House of God. Who-ohh... whoa-ho."
I'd laugh because I couldn't believe how all of that stuff actually gained a following. I mean, it was so "matter of fact" and off the top of one's head.

Anyway, I've been thinking of Dave a lot lately, and although we only were buddies for a year, we both enjoyed one another a LOT.
I mean, I could tell. We clicked really good and I don't find that happening really anymore, the older I got.

I found out like the next day about the coma. Chris told me. Chris, the guy who looked like Alan Alda and made money designing jewelry.

If ya ever wanna shoot the shit or whatever, message me. I play left handed Strat & live in Greenpoint,

Thanks for all your writing. I've been enjoying it over the last couple of days.

Viktor Venom said...

Tell the truth Liar!!!
1. I used a Rickenbacker that I OWNED, that I bought from a friend of mine. I used to borrow it and then he sold it to me. Before that I briefly used a piece of shit that Javier stole from one of his friends and I got blamed for. And before that I used Adam Mucci's precision bass that I borrowed from him as he was my friend.
2. I never asked Nicky for a record contract for Nausea. Nausea already had a deal with Profane Existance and Meantime records in the U.K., and our album was already released. I asked Nicky to INCLUDE me in the Reagan Youth contract, which I wasn't mentioned in. Also, I knew Nicky since 1985, way before you ever met him. I didn't need you to tell me he was "the guy to ask"
3. I showed up in a mature professional way and played to the best of my abillities, as I always do. I played all the basic tracks after not playing in the band for over six months and with no rehearsal. And you also threw two songs at me I had never heard before. If my playing was so bad, then why did you just basically copy a lot of my licks? All you told me was that I had a "stupid punk rock sound" and that's why you had to rerecord the bass. Shitty playing huh? Do you really want to go there? Maybe your drug soaked ego won't let you see reality, but how great was your playing? Do you like being called on it publically?
4. I never did it for money!! I never recieved any, and I wasn't even included in the contract. You've had plenty of bad shit to say about Javier, so what he said has any validity?
5. Volume Two sucks because of your and Dave's Heroin habits, and your overblown egos. The fault is your own. You can blame me all you want for your own failures, but the fact remains that YOU are the one that threw your talent and opportunity away in favor of getting high. You brought all that shit on yourselves, I had nothing to do with any of that. I quit the band because of the drug habits and the arrogance both you and Dave displayed, as if you could do no wrong and your shit didn't stink. I was never treated in a respectful, peer-like way by either you or Dave. Andy actually warned me about this when I first joined. He said " they got a little marriage going on between them since 3rd grade, and no one can get in the middle". Andy was my friend too you know.
Maybe I should start a blog and spill all the dirt I know? I hope bad mouthing me made your petty life a little better. Good luck, from
your friend that never harmed you in any way, Victor

Paul "Cripple" Bakija said...

Hey Victor, the truth is you never had a bass, Dave was owed money for some pot deal, got a ric bass in return, and that was the bass you used. And what bass amp did Nausea use? reagan youth's until dave said "Fuck Vic and we went and picked it up from... that's right... your mom's apartment. As for Nicky, just remember this; Nicky is still alive, unlike Dave or Andy, and Nicky would not lie for you, me or anyone, he'll just tell you the same thing I blogged. Now the last time I saw Andy he told me "how is it possible to be in your 40's and still be living with your mother?' and Vic, your pushing fifty and still living at home with mommy? Maybe you can dress up all metal, with your Venom patches but it was Dave and I who put out a metal record, even if we didn't mean to initially so deal with it like a man, not a cranky baby. And I stole your riffs..... puh-leeze... what riffs....lmao

And that isn't your truth, or my truth... it is just the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

viktor venom said...

I take care of my mother who is crippled and not in good health. I have no shame about this since it's the right thing to do, and quite frankly none of your or anyone else's business, nor relevant. The fact you would even go there is pathetic and speaks volumes about you. It's sad that you still feel the need to attack me and my character, since I've never done ANYTHING wrong to you. What's your problem with me anyway? You were always a real jerk and a bully towards me, and I never really understood why. I always tried to be your friend, but you never treated me like an equal. I never felt the need to compete with you as a guitarist and actually enjoyed playing the bass behind you. I always respected your playing, so what was your issue? You can malign me, and spread whatever lies you want. I hope it makes your sad little world a happier place and gives you the satisfaction you so desperatly seek. I have more going on in my life than trying to relive something from twenty two years ago, I've moved forward so ultimately I don't care what evil you have to spread. It doesn't really affect me. It's a reflection of your character not mine. So go ahead, expose your true self. You threw the first missle, I only replied and defended myself against some very nasty and unfair things you wrote about me. I never said or wrote anything bad about you, and it really saddened me to read what you wrote. It's very uncalled for, and hurtful. You blame me for things that I really have nothing to do with. That's ok, next time I'm asked I won't hold anything back. I could say alot more, but I"ll take the high road and I won't embarass you like that; you're doing a fine job on your own. I'm not going to reply to this any further, so write all the bullshit you want. Make me the bad guy of the story if it makes you feel better about your own fuck-ups. The bottom line is that after all these years, you didn't need to attack me like that -- especially since you portrayed everyone else in such a good light. I'm just defending myself, you started this by writing that poison about me. Whatever the truth may be, you really didn't need to libel me. You really should be a mensch and retract all that nasty, negative crap you wrote about me. It's the right thing to do, and I'm sure you wouldn't want to read such things about yourself.

Paul "Cripple" Bakija said...

You Are misinformed about who launched the first missile Mr. viktor528... you forgot about this?

First place, you spelt my name totally wrong. Secondly, I wasn't "Begged" or "Bribed" into recording the second album. Dave and Paul both had serious herion addiction by then which is why that record sucks. They had completely given up on PUNK by then and wanted to be the grateful dead, so I quit the band and was talked into recording the second album. I NEVER received any money and I AM NOT ON THIS ALBUM BECAUSE MY TRACKS WERE ERASED AND RE-RECORDED BY PAUL. So... if the bass playing is 'horrid', BLAME HIM, NOT ME. If you notice, I am credited for 'time and money' which was meant to be a slap in the face and meant to discredit my SIX YEAR contribution to this band. You can ask Nicky Garrett who was there at the time. If anything, I was the ONLY one in the band that wanted to stick to the snotty punk sound. I didn't want to play that wanky, self indulgent, psuedo psychedelic, prog rock crap, and it's a real shame they ever released that piece of garbage ego-fest of a second album. It really marrs what was an otherwise great band. Victor Dominicis

Aug 02 '05
10:05 pm PDT

Hey Victor, did I have a serious heroin addiction during the recording of Volume ii. Nope, I had a serious job and a serious relationship that ended in marriage, but how would you know? In no way was I an addict of any sort. As for you being my friend and enjoying playing bass behind me.... I believe that as much as I believe you contributed anything worthwhile to the band's second album, let alone anything in the four years you were in the band. I guess that's why you contact the band's publisher and label owner, Nicky, asking for royalties for songs you never had any hand in writing or even recorded. Because you know how 'royalties' work ? yeah that's what you said to me... Now go watch the Real world on MTV because it's the only real world in your pathetic life.
You were the least important band member the band ever had and that is why when Dave thanked all the former band members on Volume II but when it came to you Dave wrote in big bold letters;

What do you think Dave Insurgent meant by that? ASSHOLE (Hey, that was your nick name for Dave, remember that.... because I do, and obviously, he never forgot)

Anonymous said...

It's a shame there can't be peace between you guys. I met Vic while he was doing the whole Chaos U.K. thing and he seemed alright. Paul, I think you and I had some telephone correspondence a long time ago, two decades ago perhaps. Mighta been Al, I can't remember. From one musician to another, just alone for the sake that as time gets shorter for us all, the less of "us" there are left, and in some ways trivial misgivings will seem less important at some point I hope for both parties. This has a slight reek of Harley and John in a way, and in that argument there isn't really a right side to stand on anymore. Everybody brings or has brought something special to the table in the past. The past should be past. Volume 2 was an excellent LP regardless. It stands the test of time and has weathered in ways far better than the "original" Youth Anthem mixes, although that was a soundtrack for my youth. As decades have passed I've frequently returned to that LP "Volume 2" much in the same way I've watched other people re- associate themselves with the genius of the last two Die Kreuzen LP's or give another stab at those last two magnificent Government Issue LP's. What wasn't punk about carving your own path? Everybody had their own style. Anger never dies we just found smarter ways to express it, but each time that needle hits the plastic platter on Volume 2, I go back mentally to another time and I listen to Dave say his goodbyes over and over again every time. I try not to wrap myself up in the pain and torture he must've felt after Tiff and his mom were both taken from him in such terrible ways. I just listen to a man who's genesis was cut too short and the remaining words of wisdom that should inspire us all for action, to better ourselves and our surroundings, to make us more watchful over the world around us, are forever etched onto that plastic disc in a spiral formation, saying goodbye for over and over again. It has always touched me in a special way and I hope one day we can all make it back to the garden.


Paul "Cripple" Bakija said...

Hey Elvis, that is some positive words you put, something for me to ponder for sure. Yeah, it sucks when there is beef, and it's usually stupid. I went from thinking "did one person ever give this second album a listen" because we had split up when it was released, to finally experiencing the internet, and seeing all these nice thibngs people had to say. And when I saw people describe our second album as "metal", I laughed because that was not our intention. neither was having it suck. Now I've heard people say it sucked, say they liked it, some even better then the first one, that it's metal. And then I came across some thing something written by Victor and no I did not like reading how I was junkie and that's why the second record sucked and sounded like "prog rock crap" and "the Greatful Dead"~!? Was I annoyed someone was lying about me being a junkie when I was so not a junkie at that time. Yes, and you can't fault people for wanting to post the truth. As Vic so aptly put it "Whatever the truth may be", I'm sorry but that is wrong; there's one truth, the whole truth, and nothing but it.

I wanted so badly to have Al Pike and Vic Venom rock on one last album as both musicians are still "on" when it comes to their respective instruments. And Victor was asked to play lead guitar, not bass.... but the Victor you met who was nice, that was a guy Dave and I never got to experince. All these years later, I reached out to him, and he did come and play an amzing lead track on a new song, and then, in no time, said how he hated doing it, and felt foolish for helping by contributing a lead. So I said I'd never use it and was left to wonder why we just can't get along (I always thought because he hated playing bass and wanted to play the lead guitar in Reagan Youth... guess that wasn't it). So I'll take your advice, I'll stop wondering and just focus on new music like the last album which will be about Dave's life and times, N.Y.C. of the 80's, Reaganomics, and whatever was pertinent form Dave's vision from back in the day. Once again, thanks for saying some nice stuff, and your advice is something I need to take and most certainly will.