wherewereyou Where was I in '77? Listening to KISS records like any red-blooded American kid should've been. By age nine, I'd amassed nineteen KISS LP's with a carrying case to boot. Junior high was all metal, all the time — think parachute pants, handcuff belt, and whatever fan club merch was available. Ozzy and Mötley Crüe ruled early on... every inch of wall space (including the ceiling) in my room was covered with posters and clipping from Circus and Hit Parader. Things got progressively more EVIL as 8th grade rolled around with Metallica, Slayer, and Venom in heavy record rotation. I kept outfits like Metal Disc and Earth Tunes ("rock bottom import prices") busy sending out picture discs.

Punk Rock didn't register 'til eighth grade summer camp in 1985. My pal Daniel's Walkman introduced me to the Sex Pistols followed by the Misfits. We won Camp Carter's "air band" contest doing "Anarchy In The UK", though I had pushed for us to lip-sync Metallica. I set my gloved hand on fire during our performance because I never stopped liking KISS, at least as long they kept their make-up on. I wore a black trench coat with an anarchy symbol on it despite the fact that it was summer in Texas. Pathetic? Perhaps. Fun? Definitely. Another kid tried to buy the trenchcoat for $50! My PUNK ROCK fate was sealed a few months later when a First Methodist Church Sunday School teacher discussed the evils of modern music. Among the atrocities she cited was the Dead Kennedys' song "I Kill Children". Needless to say, I bought Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables LP the next day and what my folks surely hoped was a passing phase of adolescence continues to this day. A year later, a book entitled Hardcore California would pique my interest even further and leave me forever fascinated with bands from the Golden State.

esr So, yeah, I was a late-comer, a poser. My birthdate dictated that my first punk rock show was to be a full decade after the first Ramones LP was released. That's why I've always loved the smart-ass question posed by a classic 1979 ESR Texas punk compilation: Are We Too Late For The Trend? The appropriate answer can be found on a compilation LP released a couple years later on California's American Standard label: Who Cares?

In high school, I bought everything Dischord and other punk mail orders had to offer. Serious, relentless pursuit of obscure punk records began around 1990, my first year at Wesleyan University in Connecticut where many a study session were interrupted for emergency record purchases. A bootleg LP entitled Me Want Breakfast really set the ball rolling. This LP compiled tracks from an early LA punk label, Dangerhouse, which was responsible for some of the best releases of the era. Songs by the Randoms, X, Alleycats, Bags, Dils, Weirdos and Rhino 39 blew my mind, and I had to get MORE. Further enlightening followed with the first four volumes of the bootleg compilation series Killed By Death. I grabbed the singles whenever and wherever I could. Trips to New York City record stores became more frequent. For the first couple years, I focused almost exclusively on late 70's / early 80's California and Texas punk releases . I knew I was in deep when I decided to sell off my prized copy of the Crüe's rare first 7in. to justify purchasing rare punk records like the Child Molesters "Hillside Strangler" 7in. (copy #1 of 200, natch). Years later, I would learn that the Mötley Crüe record I had treasured and later sold was, in fact, a fake.

me In 1991, I started a reissue label called Existential Vacuum and released records sporadically for several years. EV focused on mostly early Texas punk groups, though the occasional contemporary punk/garage/whatever record would sneak in. EV briefly re-emerged from a long dormancy in 2006 to issue some previously unreleased tracks by the Ralphs, a fitting swan song for the label. In 1997, I started writing a monthly column in Maximum Rock & Roll and carried on for almost three years until I ran out of things to say. Some of those "Peer Pressure" columns have been recycled into pages on Break My Face.

If you were in an early punk band or if you were just friends with someone in a punk band way back when or if you just have a good yarn to tell, drop a line. Also let it be known I've got a steady cash stash to blow on fliers, badges/pins/buttons, fanzines, and records by punk bands from the late 70s and early 80s.

Ryan Richardson  ♠   P.O. Box 9175  ♠   Austin, TX 78766  ♠   U.S.A.

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CONTACT: Break My Face