Tesco can't stand talking on the phone, but he graciously agreed to an email interview in early 2007. My questions are in bold; his answers are in clear.
What have you been doing for the last 11 years?
Happily living back in Michigan..Northern VA/DC got to be a real bring down..happy to be back where I belong, in Michigan-home of 2 of the greatest bands in the land Electric Six and Easy Action who toil in obscurity cuz folks got shiite for taste..some things never change.Still collecting old toys, got a place at the lake up in Traverse City..God's country..er uh I mean the Devils Playground..(God sucks and don't you forget it!) Still ride a GSXR 1100 but now gotta share it with my son!
Tell me about this May 26 show. Is it really just a one-time thing? Who's in the line-up?
My first show in 11 years.Ron Sakowski on bass who was in the Necros, Easy Action and now plays in Negative Approach, Harold on guitar from EA and NA and Matt on drums from EA.it proves you never say never.I'm just doing it cuz John Brannon is an old pal and he asked me, and my kids and nephews never saw me play..not sure if it's a one off..My daughter Darby who just turned 18 isn't too sure if she wants to go..her comment cracked me up..'It's kinda like watching your parents in a porno movie!' My son is proud of his pop's legacy of hatred! We're gonna bang out 30 minutes of old school Meat!
What are your thoughts after viewing 'American Hardcore'?
Hmmm..It would have been nice if they hadn't blown me off but when they found out they had to travel to the northern woods of Michigan to interview me I guess it wasn't handy.Dave Brockie from Gwar was more essential to the early hardcore movement anyway! Too much MacKaye and Rollins. If I want to watch that big sack of wind Hank, I'll turn on VH1 as he seems to be the expert on every pop culture topic since the Frisbee. no Effigies and Pagans??? The fuckin Pagans were the ones who started Midwest Hardcore and inspired The Necros and myself to jump in..The Bad Brains were great and all but a bit too much hyperbole there.Lots of Boston which is fine with some old chums like Al Barile and Dave Smalley, but I guess when it comes right down to it, the lack of any real Midwest/Texas/SF coverage really bummed me out..But whatta ya expect when the Clyde doin in was a peripheral touriste anywho.
What are your feelings now about the Meatmen's legacy? What about the legacy of hardcore punk in general?
Our legacy is what it is..the good, the bad and the ugly.I went for the throat, and that's how it is.I wasn't aiming for mainstream acceptance.I wanted the 18-30 year old boys in my target audience to laugh, get pissed and fuck shit up.I was just ahead of my time..The world is now truly full of hate..maybe that's why I need to rise like a fucking flaming punk rock phoenix, a tad gray, and missing a few feathers but still brimming with vitriol and a profound hatred for organized religion, the root of all the world's problems.Don't have a clue what punk's legacy in general is..that's for 2 bit hack journalists and wanna-be Ken Burns documentary klondikes to attempt to document.and fail..
Why did you at such a young age latch on to such a gross, offensive style of songwriting and showmanship? What went on in your youth to make you turn into 'Tesco Vee' during adulthood!?
I was raised in a very strict Dutch Christian Reformed household.Church twice on Sunday and again on Thursday nite.Thus I revolted in a big way against the church and all it stands for...Something must have happened to me during my poop is funny junior high phase cuz I got stuck.I'm 50 and I still find scatology mirth-inducing..in High School it was Zappa and The Fugs with songs like `Coca Cola Douche' (Their "It Crawled Into My Hand Honest" LP was played until the grooves were gone).. that me and my school mates would smoke mary jane and crack up to.People dismiss music with humor as not important..But I couldn't disagree more..Black Randy and the Metrosquad's `Pass The Dust I Think I'm Bowie' is absolutely one of the greatest and funniest punk records ever.Seeing The Tubes in 1973 on their `White Punks On Dope" tour with the big stage show was a big inspiration with my stage show..Fee Waybill and his big silver platforms..half naked chicks with round cards like a boxing match..just classic shit.over the top Glam Rock like Slade, Sweet, T Rex etc were also big faves of mine..always wearing some ridiculous garb onstage.If it ain't bigger than life..then fucking forget it..You're an entertainer, give em a fucking show.
How did a self-proclaimed sleazebag like you wind up working with three different members of Minor Threat? Were there ever any philosophical clashes?
I was looking for a band and was hanging with all of them and it just happened..I got lucky flat out.the 2 best guitarists in DC and they wanted to be in my band..cool beans..The Dutch Hercules 12" thing was fun..I was always kind of an outsider as far as the DC scene went..held at arm's length to be sure..but that was fine. I made some great friends and lost a few too. Music was never my vocation..like Handsome Dick said on `Go Girl Crazy'.."I could be baskin in the sun in Florida!!!,,,this is just a hobby for me! Nothin ya hear? A Hobby!" Speaking of Handsome Dick my guitarist Keith Campbell got into a cab and HD was driving and Keith drunkenly gave him holy hell all the way to his hotel."Yer Fuggin Handsome Dick Manitoba..drivin a fuggin cab???" Pretty funny..Handsome Dick is a national treasure..Dictators Rule!! Sorry I digress oh ya well eventually Brian Baker grew weary of wearing sequins evening gowns and ballet tu tu's onstage and got a chance to join Smalley's Dag Nasty and split.he was cool enough to lay down some tracks in 1996 on our Superbikes 2 LP..Lyle was flat out my right hand man, writing partner and good friend for 5 years.He could be a pill but had a great business sense, something I've never had. He could be a real prick on the road to promoters and the like which is a good thing to have along! I coined him `The G Gordon Liddy of Rock & Roll'!
How did the original Meatmen fan base react when you made the shift to bombastic metal-rock on "War of the Superbikes"? Was there any backlash, or did it just help to open up your audience even more? Actually, while we're on the topic, at what point was your fan base the largest? What was your most popular album?
Corey from Touch and Go dropped us like a hot potato when we went heavy.I didn't really care what the old fans thought, I've always loved heavy music and I got sucked in! Superbikes sold a zillion copies but that sleazebag at Dutch East India Barry Tennenbaum robbed us blind.The old stuff has sold the most copies but then I wouldn't know about the numbers on the later stuff, when the corrupt sleazy rotten record industry just doesn't pay!!!..Go Kart hasn't sent me a statement in 6 years but continues to sell my shit.thank god for Touch and Go! They are honest, and have integrity and are a rare bird in an industry wasteland..Our most popular album is the compilation CD `Stud Powercock' with all the early stuff..The Caroline shit is long out of print and needs to be re-issued as a double pack..most of my stuff is OOP.I'd rather have it that way than give it away..That's why I put Toilet Slave and Pope On A Rope out myself.
Did you ever feel worn down by all the "hate" in your act? Obviously there is a good deal of humor in all of your work, but did/do you actually feel as much hate and anger as your lyrics and onstage antics would suggest? Basically what I'm asking here is: was it a drag having to be 'pissed off' for your fans all the time, or was it cathartic?
Cathartic..yeah that's the ticket..I have to say that being the nice easygoing cat I am in real life stands in stark contrast to what I am on stage..I guess I could go into some deep psychological discourse on everyone having inner demons that are held down by social and cultural decorum..and to a certain extent that is true.raging is a lot of fun actually..very liberating..saying things that make people cringe, think, get disgusted, get angry, get violent and ultimately laugh..this guy can't be serious right?...right?? Someone with a brain reacts to hecklers with wit, candor and a 10-fold retort..I always prided myself on stomping hecklers into the concrete.that's why the Michael Richards thing was so astonishing.he was hocked up on speed or something to lose it like that.throwing the N bomb in a comedy club should warrant him a public execution on pay-per-view.that's basically what he did..career suicide.what a supreme cockbag!
Did you ever get into any altercations due to your lyrics or stage act? Or did everybody pretty much get the joke?
Not really-very disappointing actually.I was looking for reaction and what I got was some fans and a lot of haters who just chalked me up as El Duce or GG Allin.no comparison.Duce was just a drunk loser..nice guy but very annoying.GG once called me a poseur and my response was 'Compared to you my friend? Guilty as charged!!!'.spraying the crowd with liquid poop and fucking my brother onstage weren't part of the act and gratefully so!
When I saw the Hate Police live, you were wearing policeman pajamas and waving around a giant black dildo as your billy club. What are some of the other memorable stage antics/outfits you used over the years?
Always a lot of fake fur, giant dildoes.phoney penises fascinate me.I understand why women have them..they don't drink, smoke, and leave skidded underwear on the floor.chrome platforms, boas, Satan masks.the devil is very prominent in our show..I always wanted our show to be a slice of hell on earth.smoke, fire, bombs.I picked up a chest of real stage pyrotechnics at a yard sale for $100 and there but for the grace of satan, that whole Great White debacle could have been us..then again I'm not dumb enough to shoot a 10 foot flame at a 6 foot ceiling.pretty dumb though in retrospect what we did..illegal as hell..concussion mortars, flame cannons etc in small punk venues..One night in Portland Maine my PVC pipe ping pong ball machine gun - which shot 40 balls in a few seconds with 100 pounds of compressed air - blew up and a girl at the back of the bar caught the tip of the barrel in the face.she walked up to me bleeding profusely after the show and said `I want 3 free shirts or I'll sue you'.No Prob babycakes which ones ya want??? Watching the balls bouncing off people's foreheads is an image that will live in my brain forever.Christ I coulda put someone's eye out!
Explain Blight. What, when, why, how? And why for such a short time?
Just another project with some pals..wanted to just hammer out some noise and be somewhat serious about social and political injustice. I do have a soul and a sense of right and wrong..it's that pesky pecker Tesco that lives in my body.he just won't keep still! It was fun.we played around for a few months then I split for DC..I didn't find out till just recently they carried on without me for a time and put out a cassette.glad it got re-issued finally.and the Fix CD..they really were the greatest band..live as well as studio..power personified..it still stands the test of time.rumor has it the Necros re-issue is next.there's even rumblings about a Fix Reunion..and there will be a Violent Apathy reunion show in Kalamazoo in June! Old punkers never die..ok they do..
What are the most important things in your life these days? And favorite hobbies? And how do you make your income?
I'm in Telecommunications and work on Siemens Hipath and Nortel PBX equipment.pays better than touring in a stinkvan.got a family.old toy hobby.ride my mini bike up the street in a jock strap and cape just to shake up the neighbors.
Is there any chance there will ever be another Tesco Vee or Meatmen album? We miss you!
Never say never..we are thinking about doing a split Negative Approach/Meatmen 7"..new songs! Album.fuck that's a lot of work! I miss it too sometimes.
Did you take part in the Touch & Go anniversary concert? If so, in what capacity? If not, why in Sam Hill not?
Corey called me and asked if I wanted to do something but it was fairly short notice and I said no thanks.getting a band together just seemed like too much of a pain..Then when John Brannon from NA called and said he had some guys lined up that were eager to be Men Of Meat I agreed to do the May 26 show in Detroit..then again it's Detroit not Chicago..I heard there were some people that were bummed that we didn't do the T&G thing.probably should have.oh well!!
In closing, I was wondering if you would mind sharing any interesting anecdotes, thoughts or opinions you have about each of your records:
- We're the Meatmen and You Suck (and early EPs):
- Dutch Hercules:
- War of the Superbikes:
- Rock n Roll Juggernaut:
- Toilet Slave:
- Pope On A Rope:
- New material on Superbikes 2:
Asking me about my records is kinda like asking an artist what his painting means..they are what they are..cool?
Thanks for the interview. I was always curious what Tesco was doing these days and glad to see the answer.
I'll always remember The Meatmens' shows at Maxwells in Hoboken. He even autographed my "Tesco's Sky Penis" 45.
All props to Tesco, and I'm glad he's doing well.
i'd add more, but i 'm drunk, sorry.....
Review of Negative Approach/Meatmen concert
You must imagine my elation when I heard that Tesco Vee of the Meatmen would be performing his first show in almost 12 years on the same bill as Detroit hard core heroes Negative Approach, who's reputation is one of legend as the group accumulated a steady cult following many years after shows that were performed in front of maybe 50-100 kids at most.
Unlike Black Flag, Misfits or any other who's who of early 80s punk, NA only recieved minor credits, stuck in the shadow of many of their contemporaries. The main reasons, I think, is that they only put out two records; The Negative Approach 10 7" e.p. and the 'Tied Down' 12" e.p./l.p., which, in total equates to 25 minutes of music and both records printed 1000 copies each before going out of print. In 1992 NA's label, pioneering midwest indie Touch and Go (started by Tesco Vee!), put out the Total Recall cd, which compiled both Negative Approach records, a bunch of demos and a bunch of poorly recorded live songs.
Since NA's end in '83 or '84, the members went on to do other things, as if NA was some long forgotten part of their youth. Branon went on to front both Laughing Hyenas and his current band Easy Action. Everything seemed like a lifetime ago. So how did these two Detroit legends fair last night...
Let me start from the beginning. St. Andrews hall posted on their website about how the show was at 4 p.m. This only halfway made sense since they do do the occasional matinee show for the younger kids. But this is fuckin' NA and the Meatmen, how possible. Turns out it was a mistake. So Tiffany and I spent the better part of Saturday afternoon/early evening drinking beer outside St. Andrews with a couple nice folks we met who also were duped by this false information. The show wouldn't open until 8. Yet we still didn't even have tickets because the gosh darn thing sold out! I mean, NA and The Meatmen sold out! This, as you may guess, is a double edged sword.
But we managed to finagle our way in with 20 remaining tickets. Tesco Vee's son also had a few that he charged up to $17 for. Anyway, if this show is any indication, then Detroit promoters are completely dense. The bill went like this: H8 Inc., Pitbull, Wolf Eyes, Tesco Vee (with three other guys), Negative Approach. For those who don't know, both H8 Inc. and Pitbull are Hatebreed style metallic, hard core, that is not punk at all. Not pogo riffic, run in a pit, flailing your arms, having fun, but tattooed tough guy, with shaved head and army camouflage shorts pushing, punching, kicking, stomping... so what the fuck, right?
Then, to add more strangeness, Wolf Eyes, Detroit's leading indie noise band had the audience in a drunken state of confusion for their brief set. Just three guys making feed back. I don't and probably will never understand the appeal of this music.
Luckily, to keep from being bored from the opening acts, the Shelter (the basement of St. Andrews) was showing The Decline of Western Civilization, which made me long to be there, where the movie was being shot, than where I was, where I had to listen to H8 Inc., Pitbull and Wolf Eyes.
Then, Tesco Vee and his new band of whatever he wants to call them. Three guys, two I believe from the former Necros, all wearing stupid afro wigs and diapers and Tesco wearing some sort of lamb wool overalls. Either side of the stage had a 6 foot, inflatable penis prop standing up-right. Funny? Eh... For those who don't know who Tesco Vee is, he looks like an Al Bundy type, imposing, 6 foot something fellow, who used to be blonde but is now with grey hair and a little balding. He's Dutch and he looks like he wants to be mean but only as a pissed off, balding, middle aged man, not the jean vest wearing, motorbike driving pissed off dude he used to embody.
His set was 30 minutes and sort of, kinda, eh, well... you knew that this was going to be a one off show that he was kinda doing as a favor for a buddy. In fact, he did actually say, "yeah, John Branon dragged my ass out here. I'm retired." Wow, how old, how crotchity for punk rocker. The set was "Meatmen Stomp", "Tooling for Anus", "1 Down, 3 to Go" (as "2 Down, 2 to Go", no joke!), "Crippled Children Suck", "French People Suck", "Camel Jockies Suck", (in that order), "Morissey Must Die", "True Grit" (for the line "I plugged my teenage daughter in the ass", he replaced "daughter" with "sister" probably because his teenage daughter was there), "Lesbian Death Dirge", "Alcohol" (the Gang Green song), "Wine, Wenches and Wheels" and "We're the Meatmen and You Suck". It was fine because the band was tight and the songs are good. If you don't know what they sound like, they're not that fast, about Ramones pased punk, some with some metal riffs thrown in, all with stupid offensive lyrics, which, in 2007 seem a little dated.
Which brings me to another point; his stage banter was some of his worst. As a comedic version of some sort of mix of Al Bundy and Archie Bunker, his faux offensive just came off as saying dirty words to piss someone off. I lost a little respect for him when he used words like "wetback" and talked about fat women. How original right?
Plus I was in a bad mood, feeling dehydrated, tired from all that beer and sore from having fallen hard on my ass.
So that's why I pussed out and didn't slam my ass off to Negative Approach, who were just great. I don't know who the guitarist and bassist were, but they looked like classic rock guys who are way too musically experienced to play that type of music. NA played all but one song, the super slow "Evacuate" from Tied Down. The rest was pure, rockin, rollin hard core hijinx, super tight, super loud and sounding better than the records.
Unfortunately, the "intensity" with which the group supposedly played that I read about from various publications left me wanting more because, well, they just were a very tight, good band. Branon didn't have this supposed intensity, and he, mind you, is credited with inventing the tough bald guy stanse of hard core and metal groups that these very opening bands copied. Only here he just came off like a middle aged guy having a good time. Which is not a bad thing.
The rest of the band did not look like they should play that style of music; experienced middle aged men concentrating on their instruments as if they would ever mess up such easy songs rather than shaved headed 15 years olds in engineer boots banging away on power chords. What also probably took away from said intensity was a railing that separated the audience from the stage by about 5 feet, which strongly contradicted the spontaneous vibe of the group's early 80s live shows, as documented on the dvd. In other words no one got to run onstage, do his/her stupid arm-flail dance before diving off.
The set started with "Can't Tell No One" which just sounded incredible, as did every classic. But highlights include "Why Be Something That You're Not", "Read to Fight" (which he introduced as his love song), "Tied Down", "Live Your Life" and the 10 second "Pressure." The group also played a few non officially released songs like "Genocide."
Also, for some reason, the group felt they needed to add an encore to their 25 minute long set. The encore included a wicked cover of Sham 69's "Borstal Breakout" and the 'Tied Down' song "I'll Survive."
I don't know if NA is back but reception was just amazing for a band that so few of today's punk fans know about. And I don't mean "today's punk" fans. I mean the young folks, around my age or younger, who love Bad Brains, Fear, Black Flag, Circle Jerks, Suicidal Tendencies, Misfits, Minor Threat, etc., yet are still in the dark about NA.
As a bonus here are the slam dance points: Me- big bruises on my right ass cheek and right and left elbows, lost my beloved wrist bracelet, Tiffany-a bloody, fat lip, Nate-had all the buttons on his shirt torn out.
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