Life After Death: The Accused A.D.
The 1980's punk and hardcore scenes were a breeding ground for artists and bands who were looking to do their own thing. bands and labels were popping up and releasing great new music that seemed to fall under the "punk" or "hardcore" music umbrella. In the 80's the genre of "crossover" was birthed with bands like D.R.I., Corrosion Of Conformity, Suicidal Tendencies and the like. One band that quickly stood out with their own brand of crossover they called "Splatterrock" was Seattle's Accused.
The bands record cover artwork was as off the beaten path as their style of crossover. They quickly became a cult favorite not only because of the aforementioned Splatterrock style, but because of their insane live shows. Of all of the bands who have come out of the punk and hardcore scenes there isn't another bands that has ever sounded like the Accused. People haven't even tried. Blaine Cook's vocal delivery is so original and such as huge aspect of the Accused sound that the band without him at the mic can't be considered the Accused.
After gaining momentum in the 90's, it seemed like they were destined for some big things. That is until the wheels fell off.
After no shortage of internal tensions, breakups and various reformations, they are back as Accused A.D.
Since the Accused are one of my favorite all time bands, I had to talk to Blaine about the the past, present and future of the band as well as their great new record The Ghoul In The Mirror.
How did you get into the hardcore scene and what got you into starting a band?
Ahh…… you’re wanting to go way back. I was a high school kid in the late 70’s just getting into rock and roll. Not to be the old man. Shit really was different back then. You gotta figure that in the late 70’s rock and roll was barely 20 years old. Yea and sure you can go back and make the case it started earlier. Just as some people make the case that punk started in the 60’s. In the late 70’s it wasn’t a hardcore scene, it was the punk scene. That scene, at least in Seattle at that time, was made up of slightly older kinda art types. Figure by like late 78 early 79. Bands like the Germs, Dead Kennedy’s and Black Flag started to make a splash up here. We also had bands like D.O.A. and the Subhumans that would come down from Canada. Some guys I was hanging around with had a band called Solger. Having or being in a band just seemed to be what you’d do back then. Everyone was doing it. My buddy at the time, Steve Hofman, came up with the idea of this kind of political band called the F@rtz. That’s what we did. The ability to play or have talent wasn’t really a concern. Alex was in a band in those days called the Maggot Brains. They were just a bass player, drummer and singer. What I consider to be more of the hardcore scene was starting to happen late 81 early 82. That’s just me.
What was the Seattle scene like back then? Who were the “big” bands then?
Seattle was a small town back then. Like most “scenes'' in those days it was small and pretty tight. Everyone knew everyone. There were definitely regional differences between people that lived in the city and people that lived in the suburban areas. Just a few places to play. Places were constantly getting shut down by the police. Or by the “trendy” punk violence/destruction of the day. New places would pop up. Bigger bands. Rejectors, Veins, F@rtz, Silly Killers, Fastbacks,Solger,Kaos, Blackouts, Malfunkshun, Splui Numa, Mr. Epp.
The variety of bands and styles and that were considered “punk” really ran the whole spectrum. Tough to pin down what bands would be considered to be “big”
Give us a timeline on how the ACCUSED came together-what bands were the members in before?
I can only speak on my time with the Accused. I was asked to join the band in the spring of 1984. I had known the fellows for a few years at that point. They had actually played their first if not one of their first shows with the F@rtz and Poison Idea in November of 1982 in Portland. As I mentioned above, I was in a band called the Fartz. We released a single on our own. Then we did some records on Alternative Tentacles. Starting in 83 we started to incorporate more metal into our sound. NWOBHM was finding its way to Seattle. We were all digging on it. We decided to change our name to Ten Minute Warning. Early spring of 83 they booted me out of the band and I started a band called Mr. Stubbs and his Carnivorous Chicken Band. NO shit. That’s what we called ourselves. I played guitar and sang. In the mid 90’s I was in a band called the Black Nasty. Alex was in a whole bunch of bands back then. He doesn’t just play guitar. He is a guitar player. Unlike myself. Who just sings. Not really a singer.
How did Splatterrock come together?
Our contemporaries of the time had adopted the “crossover” label/genre. Our version of “crossover” was “Splatterrock”. We didn’t place any boundaries on where the “song writing” would or could take us. We still embraced the crossover blend of metal and hardcore. We went off in a different direction. Not to say that some of our later material took on a more metal tone. There was still plenty of variety. Which also came from everyone in the band contributing to the “song writing” process.
I know Tom did a lot of the Martha artwork, but how did you get Jeff Gaither involved in the band's artwork?
We had a lot of different artists in our camp that were big fans of the music we made and wanted to show their support with their art. The talented KC Angel has contributed the most amount of art and he’s continued to be a big supporter of our band Toe Tag as well as doing work for my restaurant. It’s so long ago that we originally partnered with Jeff Gaither, back when he was just starting out.
We did work with S Clay Wilson, Scott “Scum “ Stine, Peter Bagge, Mike Fisher. Too many guys and gals to mention. Most recently, we contacted Jeff Gaither to contribute to the packaging of our new record. He really wanted to do the cover however we already had that art in the works, so he offered to do a t-shirt design. Some years ago he also did the art for a F@rtz single.
When Grinning came out I remember thinking that the band was really starting to take off and get some big time success. What happened after that which caused the band to break up?
We were young and living for the moment. Sometimes cooler heads and a little foresight are hard to come by. It wasn’t until the release of the Splatterrock lp that the band saw some real changes. Tom bailed on us weeks before the release of the record and a month and a half away from a European tour that was already booked. That’s something that most people forget. We continued on with a new guitar player, Andy Massey. We did two European tours and a string of dates in the US. We were offered a deal with Century Media that we turned down. It was time to move on with life.
So without getting into too much shit slinging here, what is the divide between Tom and the rest of the members of the Accused?
We stopped playing with Tom for the last time almost 14 years ago. We’ve moved on so much and are so far removed from what was going on back then. I don’t know that it’s worth dredging it all back up. Alex uses the analogy of it’s like picking up a pile of coat hangers. You can’t pick up one up another grabbing on to another. Not just one thing, it was an ongoing pattern. There’s no point to bad mouth Tom. I think Alex and I can agree that one of the final straws was when Tom wanted to trademark/copyright the Accused as a music group. We as a band, paid to have this done. When he showed up to practice one day, he told us he had only put his name on the paperwork. This is when he presented us with a partnership agreement that none of us had any intention of signing. This coupled with us having to back out of deal with Relapse records. That’s enough of that.
Can you see this relationship being saved at some point or is it pretty much over for working with Tom?
Alex and I will probably never find ourselves playing music with Tom again.
Who is in the band now and what are the plans for the band moving forward?Just to clarify.
We’re currently operating under the Accused A.D. banner. We’ve been playing consistently together, recording, releasing new material and playing live for 13-14 years. The core being myself , Alex and Steve McVay. Accused drummer Steve Nelson continued playing with us up until about six years ago, when an injury and life’s circumstances caused him to retire. He was replaced by former Last Gasp drummer Chris Trenton. Chris moved on and was replaced by Darrel Norren. Darrell was with us for a few years while we did a string of shows playing the “More Fun Than an Open Casket Funeral” lp front to back to commemorate the thirty year anniversary of the it’s release. In March of 2018 Darrel was replaced by former Poison Idea drummer Mickey Widmere. We had a really strong past 8 months.
Did you want to talk about Mickey’s leaving and talking shit online or just leave it alone?
When we invest the time working with someone we hope that they’d stick around and keep jamming. He was provided lots of opportunities when he was playing with us. He knew the score. Mickey was a bit confused on what he wanted to do as a drummer. When he started playing with us we made it quite clear that we aren’t the Accused and that what we did wasn’t a money maker. We have our own musical direction and playing the Accused songs was just a sidebar. He said a lot of un true and disrespectful things about us after he left. Then he went and did play one show of pre-splatterrock Accused with Tom and his rotating line up.
Are you looking at recording new material and how would this be released?
We recorded a new lp in October of 2018 with the legendary Seattle record producer Jack Endino. We just had the music mastered by Scott Hull of Pig Destroyer fame. We’re doing a short cassette only run on Dread records. The full length lp was released in all formats on Blackhouse Records. As of the time I’m typing out the answers to these questions we just released the first video for the new lp. The song is titled “Juego Terminado”. The new LP is called “the ghoul in the mirror” Video was produced and directed by Jason Frost of Black State productions.
Being some 30 years since the band started, how has your outlook changed in terms of “success” and your expectations for the band and your music?
Actually more like 35 years since I was first asked to join the band. As we play right now it’s a lot more pure. The whole notion of making money and getting a record contract are things of the past. We keep playing music because we love it. The comradery , the whole collective aspect of making something happen with people you enjoy spending time with.
Do you find that social media/youtube etc makes it easier for you as a band to get your name back out there and bring in new fans? Has this technology made being in a band easier in that you can connect with promoters, labels, distro etc faster and without the need of management etc?
No.. When people really first started using the internet you would really see a lot of benefits/results from anything you put online. Not to be the old man,15-20 years ago not everyone could afford to have a computer ,let alone internet. The internet was limited to a much smaller audience. Nowadays, there’s just too much. Much of it isn’t as meaningful as it once was. If your band is putting out new stuff and let’s say you have 3,000 FB followers, 100 of those say they’ll buy your new product, in the end you get like 10. What it is good for is being able to communicate with people from around the world. A far cry from running a classified ad in the back of maximum rock and roll.
Have you found anyone to replace the Slayer Hippy?
Our status before the Slayer’s untimely passing went something like this. He lived in Portland so we were using him to play the old accused songs and we were beginning to work on new material with him. We basically had to drive down to Portland and grab him and his kit. He would stay with us for a week or so and then we’d need to pack him up and drive him back home.. He had some tunes he was working on that he was about to drop on us that we were going to record under the accused AD banner. While back in Seattle we had secured a local drummer, Chris Gohde, who has played music in the past with both Alex and our bass player Steve. We learned the songs off of the ghoul in the mirror record with him that we played on a live stream back in April. We’re currently learning some of the toe tag songs. That will be playing on live stream Saturday June 13th. We’ll probably work on learning a set of the old accused material with him as well. Throwing him right into the fire by having to learn 40-50 new songs. Ultimately there is no replacement for the Hippie. He was in our camp for many many years. His presence will never vanish. He’s always going to be with us.
How has the record been received? ( I love it-glow in the dark wax!!)
People really seemed to like the Ghoul In the Mirror release. The songs are representative of where we are now musically. Not trying to recreate or recapture what we were doing in the late 80’s and early 90’s. Scott at Blackhouse records is a real solid guy. He’s treated us with much respect.. We’ll be filming the third video for the record later on this month for the song, a terrible tail.
Any plans for more new music?
Eventually we will. We have such an extensive catalog of old accused material and the toe tag stuff to learn.
Any other news we need to know about?
We’ll see how things pan out in this new world order we’ve found ourselves in. We had a bunch of stuff planned for this year. Doesn’t really look like live shows will be happening anytime soon. We’re currently working with a South American label to release two cd set of the Toe Tag material with the added bonus of the last live show we did with the Slayer HIpppie. We’ll keep doing these live streams every couple of months.
Final comments-anything you want to add?
Toe Tag/Accused AD, whatever people want to call us, we’re still here kicking out the jams. I’m a few years away from turning 60. That’s when I’ll reevaluate my life long obsession with playing music.