The first recording session from this legendary Washington, D.C.-area band, plus a full live set from the same early months era. Put together by original drummer Michael Salkind.
Jeff Mentges, vocals
Frank Price, guitar
Michael Salkind, drums
Bob Strauser, bass guitar
1-9 RECORDED BY
at Inner Ear, Arlington, Virginia, USA
10-19 RECORDED LIVE
at The Marble Bar, Baltimore, Maryland USA
January 9, 1983
On the original reel-to-reel mixdown tape from the studio session, Michael Salkind had written:
$40.00 - Jeff car
$20.00 - Jeff M.C. interest
$50.00 - N.T.: P.A.
$50.00 - N.T.: 45
$10.00 - Frank car
$30.00 - My mental anguish
Three of the songs from this first recording session were released on a lengthily titled 7" vinyl 45 on the band's own label: "Teen Love," "Cancer," and "Mass Sterilization."
An alternate title for the CD was "Teen Love: The Early Months."
Suggested title for the C.D.:
No Trend: The Early Months
It has been 10 years since I played drums with No Trend. No Trend fancied itself a sort of DC harDCore scene gadfly, razzing the scene from just outside the Beltway, pointing out its hypocrisy and conformity. In fact it was a fantastically creative and energetic scene, but it did bear some criticism, and No Trend felt it should provide that. And some of our music was pretty good and our sound was something different from most things. What you hold in your hand is the earliest of No Trend's surprisingly proliferous output. It's also No Trend at its rawest and angriest. As playing drums for No Trend was somewhat akin to being Spinal Tap's percussionist, I was only one of many drummers in the group, and what you hear is my entire contribution to the cause. So I'm somewhat biased in also thinking this was No Trend at its best.
I have pretty mixed feelings about the whole drumming-for-No-Trend experience. In some ways, it was a great opportunity, playing with a band that was doing something decidedly different, and actually getting some recognition for it. In some ways it rivaled the seven beltways of hell, with equal portions of mental and physical torture. But I sure do remember it.
No Trend's earliest conception, I think, was a briefly lived band called the Aborted. Jeff Mentges was the singer and Bob (I don't know his last name) the bass player, with 12-year-old guitar genius Brad Pumphrey the only person in the group who could play. It was my first gig drumming, and was well before I was able to play (perhaps that ability didn't come to me until at least after the contents of this C.D., but if that's your opinion, keep it to yourself). We practiced in Bob's parents's basement in Maryland, perfecting such politically cutting material as 'Drive Fast, be an Ass' and 'Who's a Dick? Merv (Griffin).' We played one gig, at a party, with Government Issue, sometime during the summer of 1981. Our other two scheduled gigs were both canceled, and then I left for a year of college, at which point the Aborted probably ended.
After college, which for me was about as much of a success as the Aborted, or less, I returned to DC and joined up with the burgeoning United Mutation, part of the Northern Virginia Hardcore Scene. I got kicked out in late 1982 for being unable to keep a tempo, something which United Mutation actually expected form a drummer, and was soon called by Jeff, who was now fronting a band called No Trend. They had a gig coming up, and had lost their drummer, and so I agreed to give it a go. It took the long lonely trip to Olney, Maryland, several times, tried out for the band, and then rehearsed several times. In the group was Jeff, still singing, and Bob (from the Aborted) still playing bass, and some guy named Frank who could torture a guitar like nobody's business. I think it was Frank who wrote all or most of No Trend's songs, and he's the guy who drew the cover of this CD (also the art work from No Trend's first EP, using the name Jim Jones; but Frank was quiet about his contributions.
We prepared for the first No Trend show, I think ever, at the Marble Bar (a real cool place in the basement of an old hotel/brothel in Baltimore), opening for Government Issue, on Christmas Eve 1992, getting a surprisingly enthusiastic reception. And we made a whole 56 bucks, a pretty large amount there and then. After the show, I got a ride back to D.C. with Mitch Parker and John Stabb, bass player and singer, respectively, of Government Issue. Mitch's radiator lost its contents, and I ended up spending the first part of Christmas morning on the side of I-95, until my father rescued us. Most people would have taken that as an omen, and I am not sure whether I regret not having done so.
We were asked to return to the Marble Bar, playing there on January 9, 1983, a little brasher and tighter, and already beginning to put into practice No Trend's pattern of performing to the point where the audience begs for mercy and/or walks away. The live material on this C.D. comes from that gig. Subsequent gigs were plagued by poor recording or playing, lack of energy, or other problems, and I htink this show captured No Trend's potential, like it or not, perhaps better than any other.
No Trend was lucky (?) enough to have been picked up and brought under the wing of Steven Blush, an American University student who, as one half of what was to become Dog Bite Productions, produced many punk shows in the DC area. He became our manager, and we became an opening act mainstay for such bands as the Dead Kennedys and TSOL. We weren't very well liked by the more mainstream DC punk rockers, but developed a weird, fringe, suburban Maryland following, and even some support from the local rock critics (I was one of them, so that connection didn't hurt either). Still despite our rather rapid rise, the association with Steven Blush was one akin to selling ones soul to Beelzebub.
In March of 1983, we decided it was time to lay down some tracks, and we spent a fruitful day in Don Zientara's Inner Ear Studio, in Arlington, Virginia, where all the hardcore bands recorded at the time. We recorded nine songs, three of which were destined to become No Trend's first record, simply entitled:
Skin-shedding "snake people"
the Man who gave birth
Humans with horns
Famed giants and dwarfs
The woman with 52 lb breast
Hideous cannibal rites
A 169 year old man
Siamese twins who married
The "leopard" family & much more!
I like to think the E.P. lived up to its name. The E.P. is contained on this C.D., as are the rest of the songs from that first studio session.
Right after that we began planning our first trans-continental tour, a little summer jaunt planned to promote the EP which, by the way, actually saw the light of day right after we returned; not a lot of good that did us. The tour took place in June of 1983. We rented a station wagon and drove, within the span of three weeks, some 8500 miles, the four band members, our manager, and all of the equipment in this one car.
This might be a good opportunity to introduce the band in some more detail. No Trend was a motley crew at best. Guitarist Frank, the quiet genius behind the band's songs, looked like some long-time resident of a Greyhound bus terminal, someone whose inspiration came from the back panel of milk cartons. His ghostly pallor blended well with his closely cropped head and surplus flasher's raincoat. His stage act found him behind his amplifier, back to the audience, as he created the sounds of his tortured soul by wringing ungodly noise from his instrument.
Singer Jeff looked like a Southern sheriff, the kind who still rues the day the Confederates lost the war. His caustic wit and viciously accurate mimicry kept all entertained, but his two-faced tendencies left no one safe except for those present at the time. I have never met anyone more able to get his way through lying, cheating and bullying. While he screeched the lyrics and berated the audience, his preferred stage attire ranged from the most hideous scrapings from the bottom of the Salvation Army polyester barrel to headgear such as ski masks and pantyhose.
Our bass player Bob's parents would not let him go on the tour, so we got stuck with Chris. She wore the kind of dull-print thrift store house dresses that Cinderella wouldn't have scrubbed chimneys in, making her look like an orphaned matchstick girl. What's more, she couldn't play the bass worth a damn. Her features (if they can be called that) were mousy, yet she would adopt the characteristics of a rat once your back was turned. She practiced a passive-agressive behavior, not saying what she wanted, but letting you know she didn't agree. If she had been abused as a child, I could sympathize with her parents.
That leaves our manager, Slimey Steve Blush, a man even a crack distributor would not want to be associated with. Steve was tall and hook-nosed, with a flat-top haircut. I imagine he made dirty deals in his sleep. We were soon to find out that his stink was not only figurative, but literal, some hellish odor escaping from his pores even within moments of a shower. I like to think of this as an indicator that he was rotten to the core. Nevertheless, this problem added no pleasure to our cross-country trek.
These were to be my traveling companions; my tickets to fame and fortune. Because I am writing this, I reserve the right to not describe myself.
We played Chicago and Madison opening for Husker Du, Kansas City and San Francisco opening for the Dead Kennedys, Denver and Albuquerque and Los Angeles, with different local bands. We skipped Texas when the California gigs popped up, but I found out later and outfit called itself No Trend played our scheduled gig, so I guess no one lost out on that deal. We played well and we played poorly, to big crowds and audiences nearly the size of the band, to people very appreciative of our sound, and people who could have given a shit. We practiced together, ate together, slept together, drove together, fought together.
We shared a few adventures. On the road to Kansas City, through the terminally dull Kansas, at four in the morning, Steve fell asleep at the wheel, sending the car spinning around, stopping halfway in a wheat field. We suffered no serious damage, but were shocked to find that we could tell neither from which way we had come nor which way we were to drive; the terrain is that dull. We flipped a coin and took the road that brought us to our intended destination, Kansas City; I still don't know if that was good or bad luck. We were also nearly sacrificed to the devil, or so we thought, in some little out of the way Bay area town, Bodega, California, where we had been lured one night to play at a punk rock toga party, but arrived unexpected by anyone. We got out before we were slaughtered, returning to San Francisco and finding what is probably the only bad Chinese restaurant in China Town.
The low points of the tour were among the most horrible experiences of my life. Touring under those circumstances, one is forced to relinquish all sense of human dignity. Half way through I gave up shaving, and a shower became a rare commodity. My mind was, for the most part, reduced to a feverish sense of tired hatred. I ended up suffering from exhaustion to the point that during our two and a half day drive home to the East Coast from San Francisco, I literally lost the second day from my memory. Perhaps the memory gods were being merciful. Certainly the time gods weren't; the last half day of driving was so interminable that I sometimes think I'm still in that car, a dazed look on my face, my tongue hanging out of my mouth and leaving a trail of saliva across this great country of ours, and that my subsequent life has been and continues to be merely a fantasy made up by my self-concious to keep me from screaming. By the end of the tour, we all hated each other.
Yet I have few regrets. I got to see a large portion of this country, often from a unique perspective, and at a relatively low cost, at least financially. I got to play my drums from coast to coast, cheered on by strangers in many places. I met some great people and saw some sights that will always remain with me. Most important is that, had I not gone, I would have always wondered what I had missed. As it stands I did it, it was horrible, and the desires to tour are thoroughly cleansed from my bloodstream. I learned many other valuable lessons as well, mostly about money and the criteria to use when choosing traveling companions. I will never tour again, and I am deeply satisfied with that decision.
Right after we got home, the EP finally saw the light of day, the song "Teen Love" becoming a minor indie hit, garnering some positive reviews as well as radio airplay in several cities including Boston and San Francisco. My departure from the band was an imminent and mutual decision, though I did manage to play one last gig, in July at a place called Oscar's Eye in DC. I received 25 copies of the EP as my divorce settlement, and went on to play in a variety of bands in and around the DC area. None of them ever attained the status of No Trend, nor did I ever lose as much money and dignity.
No Trend went on to do several albums and several tours, with many a temporary band member, before finally self-destructing probably sometime in 1986, though I have kept only marginal track. The three E.P. songs, "Teen Love," "Cancer," and "Mass Sterilization," appeared on a re-recorded version of the E.P. Some of the other songs here showed up on the first No Trend album, though they are different versions. Both of these records are no longer available.
P.S. Chris: Where the hell is the 160 bucks you owe me?
- Michael Salkind, No Trend,
December, 1993, Denver, Colorado.
Mark Robinson for remembering,
Don Zientara and Ericfor sonic aid,
Truly Needy for actually encouraging us,
Special thanks to Leslie for the typing