|by Steve Weatherholt|
From the early Seattle punk scene rose a small faction of musicians or wannabe musicians who, inspired by their peers, turned punk rock up a notch and labeled it hardcore. Of the local hardcore brethren, The Fartz were the hardest of all: relentlessly driving guitars, guttural vocals, and all-out smashing of the drum kit. The Fartz were King of the Scene and nobody could match their original style and chaos. They were the local band that was always called up on to open when the big named bands came to town.
Even though The Fartz released only a 7-inch EP and an album, World Full of Hate, their place in hardcore became more apparent to over time. When I think of early '80s Northwest hardcore and the bands that helped place the Northwest on the hardcore map, three come to mind: D.O.A., Poison Idea, and The Fartz. And the people I've met over the years in the hardcore/punk scene from various cities around the U.S. all have raved about The Fartz. The original line up of the band lasted only a short time before glam aspiration and pop inspirations sent the bassist Steve and vocalist Blaine Cook packing on to other projects. For the re-release of their catalog on Alternative Tentacles in 1997, Blaine contacted the remaining band members to see if they wanted to regroup and play hard music again. After about a year of turmoil with guitarist Paul Solger, the rest of the band asked him to leave. With limited options for replacement guitarists, Blaine and Steve chose a close friend Alex "Maggot Brain" to join the band. This current line up has been playing together for about three years and has released a live in the studio album titled What's in a Name?
Armed with the writings of Steve and Karl Fowler (drummer), The Fartz are set to go in the studio and record a new 7-inch EP in December of this year. I sat down with Blaine, Steve and Karl one night after practice to look into what was going on in the early days and find out what this reformation has to offer us now.
Blaine Cook: The motivation was to emulate our peer Paul Solger and the band Solger. It was pretty much an excuse to get together and play. Steve had never played bass before, Loud was really a guitar player but he was able to put together a kit and play drums, and Tommy was playing guitar in KAOS--he could play a power chord. We just played.
Steve: We figured it seemed pretty easy to do, so we gave it a shot.
What year was this?
Steve: The early '80s.
Blaine: Sometime in 1980.
Steve: Blaine and I worked together at the Red Robin at the tail end of 1979. This is how we got hooked up. We both found out that we liked bad music. I guess we were looking for a drummer and Tommy Hanson, our first guitar player, was teaching me how to play the bass lines to some of the music he was writing because I was writing words and stuff. We knew Blaine was going to be our singer because we had heard him mess around at The Showbox with a microphone. The only missing piece was the drummer.
We were at a party in the University District [A part of town located by the University of Washington] where Black Flag were playing. Loud happened to step up to Robo's drum kit and start tapping out a little ditty while they were on a break. I did not know he played drums because I knew he sang in KAOS at that time. I asked him about drumming and Loud said, "Yeah, I play a little bit." I told him he should join our band because his name was "Loud" and he would be "Loud Fart." He just laughed and came for a tryout. This did not last long. After one of the tours Loud decided he wanted to do something else. So, again, we needed a drummer and that's when we got Duff McKagan. [Laughs]
Blaine: Duff McKagan played drums for a while.
Steve: Duff, yeah, Duff. [Laughs]
Blaine: I just got back the sticker when Blake put out the You, We See You Crawling EP. I had to put a sticker on it: "Featuring Duff from Guns 'n' Roses." This became a huge thing. The guy was, realistically, in the band for a few months. However, we did record our best stuff with him.
Steve: There is no question about it, it is kind of the sad part of that whole thing; it was like when we were practicing in Blaine's mom's basement at the time Duff joined our band. When Paul [Solger] showed up with Duff, my initial reaction was "tee hee hee," but after I heard him play the first couple of songs with Paul, I thought, "Well, maybe I can work with this guy a little." He was an awesome drummer--no question--but he was kind of scribing for being a pop icon. I knew he was bad news, but hey, we did sound good with him. I only did one show in Portland, Oregon, with Duff before I quit the band. The guys went on to do Ten Minute Warning after this.
Blaine: Duff played guitar.
What material was recorded with Duff on drums?
Blaine: Five songs that were originally released as a cassette. They were: "Buried Alive," "Is This the Way," "Judgment Day," "Dead Solger," and "Resistance."
Steve: Yeah, if I remember correctly, it was kind of like where we first talked about doing the name switch thing to Ten Minute Warning 'cause originally I was briefly part of that idea. We were going to use the seven songs we recorded as the debut of Ten Minute Warning, so people would take us more seriously (because of the name "The Fartz"). But, Duff wanted to play guitar and they wanted to become a five piece. That was when we recorded the You, We See You Crawling EP. It never really came out until later in the '80s. It happened when Blaine had Blake do it for Empty Records. This was when we recorded this really good stuff and it was just sitting there.
The song "Buried Alive" came out on the Smoke 7 records compilation titled Buried Alive: The Best of Smoke 7 records 1981-1983 on Bomp Records.
Steve: A lot of this stuff came out.
Blaine: A lot of it on compilations.
Steve: The compilation Lung Cookies has a couple of cuts from that time. Buried Alive and some other compilations had songs.
How long was the original members of The Fartz together?
Blaine: Not every long.
Steve: Less time then we have been together now. [Laughs]
Blaine: Not even two years.
Just for some of the songs from the first EP and 12-inch?
Steve: There were nine songs on the first 7-inch EP.
Blaine: We did the 7-inch EP and the 12-inch, which were short, and then the thing with Blake and Alternative Tentacles re-release.
Steve: There is a compilation with The Lewd and some other bands. The Eastern Front Compilation All's Quiet on the Eastern Front. I have only seen pictures of this. I have never seen a copy of it in any stores. There is the Seattle Syndrome compilation. The first Seattle Syndrome album had one of our 7-inch EP tunes on it.
Blaine: The song was like 25 seconds or whatever.
[laughter all around]
Steve: Yeah, we were the first band to have nine songs on a 7" EP, then the Necros beat us out with a ten song EP.
The Fartz evolved into Ten Minute Warning. How did this come about?
Blaine: The name change was done with the intention to still play hard music, but when all those other guys got in it, Solger was not really into hard music. He was into his thing. I did it for only a short period of time, then it changed. Duff McKagan only played guitar with Ten Minute Warning for a very short period of time before it evolved into something else. The name was actually kind of stupid when you compare it to the kind of music they were playing. It was really always a bad name and they didn't do anything to make this better.
I must have seen Ten Minute Warning when they were transitioning from The Fartz, because I liked them. But, when I saw them in the mid '90s, they were a very bad kind of pop radio rock.
Steve: That was my attitude when I saw that same show. Duff's influence on Paul when the two got together and took over, that was what the whole thing was like. It was nowhere near what The Fartz were doing and when Blaine left, I was like, finally Blaine is not in Ten Minute Warning.
Blaine: I had lined up three shows with the Dead Kennedys in 1982 for Ten Minute Warning: Portland, Oregon, Seattle, Washington, and Vancouver, B.C. We did one other show and then they kicked me out of the band. It's funny, but the next day I got the call about how I was out of the band. The Sunday newspaper had an article on the picture history of the Seattle punk scene and Ten Minute Warning was featured prominently in this article. [Laughs] None of the guys called; it was their "manager" who called me.
Steve: That was how I felt and when I got the Lung Cookies compilation and saw this nice glossy photo of Ten Minute Warning with their mascara and big poofy hair. I thought it was funny when Jello [Biafra] referred to them as hippies. [Laughs] Down in the corner there was this note that said, "We used to be The Fartz and Steve played bass on these tracks." That was my fucking credit. [Laughs again] I sat there and saw Duff and these guys with Madeline mascara on, and I knew it was going to be the end.
Steve, did you go on to other bands after this?
Steve: No, I raised my kids. They're teenagers now, 18 and 16 years old. Now that they're grown up, I get to do this again.
How do your children feel about you playing in a hard music band?
Steve: My son, the 18 year old, and his girlfriend are big fans. My daughter is a Top 40 Britney Spears kind of girl, but she will come to all-ages shows. She comes to see her dad and knows that I can still be her dad after the show. She doesn't know what to think it though, but she sees everyone having a good time and is cool about it. I have seen Blaine's little girl out at shows.
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