Let me take a moment to explain how this sort of piece of crap winds up in somebody's record collection. When I was but a boy 'bout three square inches big, a young red-haired runk pocker named ERIC BRODNAX used to lend me punk rock cassettes to illegally duplicate on my multiplication tape machine. In this way, he gave my ear its first ear-taste of such legendary hardcoresters as SUB HUM ANS and CRASS -- so he knew what he was doing! As such, I trusted his instinct when borrowing What Good Is Grief To A God? and Tragedy Again by a band called "D.I." ("Dirty Imbeciles?" I wondered. I'm now told it hilariously stood for the uproarious "Dog Intercourse"). Sure, the music seemed kinda like dopey punk-metal and the guitarists all had their shirts off like a bunch of frat boys in the band photos, but hey - this was Eric Brodnax we were talking about! And.... well... that "They Lie You Die" song sure kicked some butt!!! With its... one line.
As it turns out, these two D.I. releases were put out by a later, unbeloved version of D.I., a band founded by ex-members of the Adolescents who created at least one classic hardcore release - Horse Bites, Dog Cries. But that's something I don't think Eric Brodnax knew at the time, and I didn't find out until much later from my ex-punker now-wife, who was astonished that I owned their 'shitty later records' instead of their one good one. Okay, so there's your set-up. Let's move on to HVY DRT now.
There used to be a gigantic record store in Tucson, AZ called "PDQ." It has since been sold and renamed, and may well stink now. But back in the day, I used to visit my in-laws in Tucson once a year and spend one full day at this record store, digging digging ever-so-digging for elusive releases by The Ventures and other great bands like The Ventures. And on one of these annual sojourns, I happened across a record that screamed at me in big red scratchy letters "HVY DRT." My mind whirled back and back and back - "HVY DRT? I know that! What is that? I know that!" I picked the record out of the rack and turned it over to see a b/w photo of five young white men in leather jackets. Looking over the band membership chart, I suddenly caught a quite familiar name: "Frank Agnew - Lead Guitar." "FRANK AGNEW???" I shouted at an angry God. "HE'S THAT GUY FROM THE ADOLESCENTS!!!!" Then my mind put 2 and 2 together and remembered that "HVY DRT" was the title of an instrumental track on one of those late-period D.I. albums. Filled with nostalgia and the thin hope that I might have happened upon a rare punk antique, I paid the $6.99 cover charge and admitted myself into the EP.
Okay, so that's what I knew then. Here's what I know now: First of all, HVY DRT were a terrible punk-metal band. Secondly, the reason that D.I. recorded an instrumental called "HVY DRT" is because the HVY DRT rhythm section (bassist 'Hedge' and drummer Steve Garcia) had by that time become permanent members of D.I., and were apparently so proud of their short-lived former band that they felt compelled to name a song after it. By this point, Steve Garcia had in fact gone so far as to change his surname from the respectable "Garcia" to the ass-dumb "DRT"! As for Frank Agnew, God knows what he was thinking. That first Adolescents album is one of the greatest punk rock albums of all time -- what the hell was he doing playing this horrible shit-metal? Were they holding him hostage? These are important things to consider! Remember, that's how Steve Howe wound up in Asia.
And bad it is bad. Amateurish punk rock production, corny 'death rock' evil metal riffs, and a horrific young vocalist (Mikey - he'll eat anything!) (including dick, if his photo on the back is any indication) who tries to growl and frighten, but sounds like a little kid playing with stuffed animals. The drumwork is powerful and the guitars sound good and tight, but the songs themselves just SUCK! Basically a bunch of little punkers trying to puff themselves out like a blowfish to seem tougher (incidentally, the same reason that urban youths wear big puffy coats), HVY DRT dooms itself with hilariously overserious 'evil' 'angry' two-chord riffs, sub-Iron Maiden note runs, and one of quite literally the absolute worst and least threatening vocalists I've ever heard. There are a few parts to treasure: a hypnotic and emotional guitar break near the end of "Another Life," an unexpected catchy fast punk chorus in the otherwise rotten funk song "Chocolate Rat," and the all-around actual good song "NEB," which begins with an honestly DARK arpeggio guitar intro before switching back and forth between a sick, twisted chord sequence and intelligent drone-buzz-hum bit where the two guitars go 'NNNNNNNNN' together. And that's the official music theory term for it.
And that's how I wound up buying a HVY DRT EP at PDQ (IE not HMV, FYI). Luckily the band gave it a goddamned rest after this EP, sending Frank back to the Adolescents, Hedge and Stevie to D.I., Mikey to a cola/candy early grave, and rhythm guitarist Alfred Cruz to a very successful career as "Bono," the lead singer for Australia's U2.
Also, in case it isn't clear enough, "HVY DRT" is of course shorthand for "Heavingly Darts."
PS I was at Pizza Uno tonight and thought of something hilarious. You know that old Motown classic "It's The Same Old Song"? Well, when it came on, I hilariously in a "Weird Al" Yankovic manner sang, "It's a LAME old song!" In that way, I was a young buck declaring independence from my Father's Old Generation (or "The F.O.G.")(starring John Houseman as the storyteller).
P.S. I actually do kinda like those later-period D.I. albums, even if they are supposedly the 'shitty-era' ones.
As to the HVY DRT ep:
Remember, there was no Metalica, Slayer or otherwise when we started - years prior to this release (circa ’82). Slayer watched us play at a place called The Flashdance in Anaheim (punx could never bring themselves to call it that, hence the very much lamer “Flashclub”) before they were ever a band. We loved Black Flag and Bad Brains, but yes, we were listening to a lot of Sabbath then. *useless trivial* Watch the first Red Hot Chili Peppers video and spot the HVY DRT shirt-wearing HVY DRT member (with others in tow). Rodney Bingenheimer was the first to play us (and regularly for several months) on his weekend shows on KROQ in LA. At least half of the DI album “Tragedy Again” was old HVY DRT stuff, and the song, itself, was an instrumental from that band – not a sentimental ode to it. Hedge and I went onto other lame bands like Mr. Mirainga. Oh, if there’s some sort of bad-band crown out there, we ought to wear it. Thanks for the great comic relief. I especially loved the Frank Agnew hostage bit. No, actually, he just liked us. Take care.
End of story.