The Long-Awaited Story of the Thrash Legends
as told by Josh's ex-uncle in law, Santos (pictured below)
It all started back about 5 years ago, in the quiet little town of Winter Park, Florida, where Josh Dobbs and Mike Quinnan met during 9th grade at P.E., where Josh would aimlessly run the track while Mike would skip his softball class and hang out with the rest of Lake Howell's underachievers over at the Driver's Ed. course. Eventually, "Dobbs" as he was known to everyone (Mike believed this to be his first name) stopped dressing out, joined the pack, and said to hell with his P.E. credit. One day he struck up a conversation with Mike about Black Flag and the two became friends soon after. This was around the time when Josh had first began playing guitar and Mike the bass. Dobbs had been writing little songs with names like "I Was a Teenage Communist," and he eventually recorded them that summer on a tape that was dubbed "Bits 'O Crap." It wasn't until the beginning of the next school year that he saw Mike again. He hunted Mike down in the halls and ran up to him shouting "Hey Mike, you still play bass right?" Mike answered "Yeah" and Rock 'n Roll history was made. Dobbs played him the "Bits 'O Crap" tape. It sounded like shit, but Mike saw some potential, realizing it was something original, when any other kid at the time just wanted to play Nirvana covers. Thrash was simply inevitable...
The two began working on original songs, but with little progress due to Josh getting grounded (in the 10th Grade! What kind of shit is that?). One day they were trying to make a tape of guitar, bass, and vocals to play for potential drummers (what a dumb idea!) and slopped up for hours (beginning the tradition of the RunnAmuckS sucking whenever a recording device is present) before the machine eventually ate the tape and never worked again. Still, they kept going, trying to make up better songs, despite their lack of a drummer. Josh wrote a spiteful tune about his mother dubbed as "The Mom Song," and the classic "I Can’t Wait To Get Old," which showed an actual improvement in songwriting. They put little flyers up at every record store in search of a drummer, but no one ever called. The closest they came was this goon Josh met at a show who proposed that he play drums, Josh play bass, and some other dip-shit from a local pop band called Rabid Squirrel play guitar, totally axing the idea of Mike being in the band. This ass-wipe was quickly forgotten.
One day, when all hope was nearly lost, Mike’s friend Mat Graeven came over, who had been friends with Mike since Kindergarten. Mike and Josh wanted to show Mat some of the garbage they had come up with (and garbage it was!) and began playing "Teenage Communist." "Pretty Good," Mat said, lying through his fucking teeth. They wanted to play one of their newer songs, and somehow, someone had the idea that Mat bang along on this snare drum Mike had sitting in the corner to the beat of the song. The plan was to alternate off the skin and the rim, which was supposed to simulate the hi-hat or cymbal or whatever the hell it was that drummers hit… hell, none of them fucking knew. They didn’t know any damn drummers.
Everybody was ready… the countdown began…"1-2-3-4!" BOOM! They launched head-on into "I Can’t Wait To Get Old," with the Explosion of a Fucking Atomic Blast! With the Fury of a Fucking Cyclone! With the Propulsion of A Fucking Rocket Ship! Well… the Challenger, maybe, because the playing only lasted about 5 seconds before they stopped almost instantly, recoiling in paralysis from this sound they had made… their eardrums were instantly blasted out, their senses were blown... They couldn’t believe it… This is what it felt like to be in a fucking Punk Rock Band! It was the best feeling ever, maybe even better than jerking off! Needless to say, they launched right back into it and kept on shredding ‘till Mikey’s mom said it was too loud. On a walk later that night, they vowed to get a drum set and get (as) serious (as they could!). Soon after, in mid-November ‘96, Mat’s Dad got him a drum set for Christmas and after a lot of thought, or maybe not that much at all, the three decided on the name RunnAmuckS, which Mike’s Mom thought was quite clever. There was a dispute, however, because Josh insisted that the "A" be circled to make a stupid anarchy sign, but Mike was adamantly against it. Josh is very thankful today that they didn’t go along with his dumb idea.
After many shitty practices, they planned on making their demo tape with Josh’s 4-track that his love-purchasing grandparents got him for Christmas (what a bunch of spoiled little shits!). The first attempt was unsuccessful, somehow resulting in eaten tapes. Then, on Jan. 21st, 1997, things finally came together, well… as together as they could. The "Punk Rawk Dirt-Heads" demo was about 4 and ½ minutes of poorly recorded, barely listenable, sloppy out-of-time Punk Rock, but looking back it was better than everything else coming out of Orlando at the time, and since then it has been re-mixed and is now much more listenable! The songs featured on the tape were "I Can’t Wait to Get Old," (a satire on anyone above 30 and a reference to a feud between Mike’s Parents and their neighbors which caused Mike’s family to eventually move from their home of nearly 20 years!), "Stupid Pop," (a song Josh wrote about a girl which was mostly a made up story at first, but then unfortunately came true!), and "Kill Society," (a poorly named song about finding good ‘ol Punk Rock!) Probably the best part about the demo is that it was shrink-wrapped at Josh’s grandfather’s software duplication plant, giving it some kind of professional look, which actually made suckers like it for some reason!
They passed out "Punk Rawk Dirt-Heads" at school, at shows and record stores for free. Idiots were like "Wow, It’s shrinkwrapped!" in all seriousness. Their friends lied and said it was good, others just flat out said it sucked. But somehow, there were a select few people that actually liked it. Raj Bosham, drummer for Orlando Punk legends Chapter 13 (the first real hardcore punk band Josh ever saw) came up and told them that they ripped. After that, they met other members of the band, Jasen Weitecamp and Neil Sevedes, who had recently renamed the band Robots Make Mistakes and had been writing some truly phenomenal songs.
Jasen, enthusiastic to introduce them to some new music (old music, actually), played them the Neos, Gang Green, and D.R.I., who defined the sub-genre in punk called "Thrash," a style that none of the kids had known about. It sucked in a way for them to find out that bands of the same vein were around 15 years before them… to think, they though they had come up with something original! They invented something that had already been invented… what a drag! Also, around this time, the band regretfully started getting more into the PC hippy band Crass. The influence unfortunately started to show in the lyrics, but the music was definitely as harsh as ever!
Pictured Above: The Legendary "Ball-Poker"
Shortly after the demo, Josh was grounded again (what a pussy!) for going to see Necrolust and Asshole Parade in Gainesville. Things were looking pretty grim at that point, considering not getting to play for a month and rumors circulating of Mat skipping practice to smoke pot with a bunch of hippies with Grateful Dead t-shirts on. After the month was up, they got together to see how they sounded, which was surprisingly better than ever, considering they sucked when their normal schedule had been 3-4 practices a week. They decided to record again, this time just like a practice, with the mics hung over their amps. This recording became the "2nd Demo." Unsatisfied with the first demo, they taped over their remaining copies with the newer versions of the 3 songs, and didn’t do a damn thing with the newer, better songs they had recorded. What dumbasses.
The demo, as shitty as it sounded, actually landed the group a show after giving one to Chris Sappone (The guy who did everything for punk rock in Orlando at this time) at the first DIY Records show in early ‘97. "DIY" was started by Jeff J. Hogan, a cock-smoking ex-Army skinhead who hadn’t listened to punk for like 20 years or something. The show was scheduled for DIY on April 27th, but ended up getting cancelled. The RunnAmuckS real 1st show happened in Casselberry at Justin Sirois’ birthday party at the Regency Oaks Apartments. They sounded like pure shit. The RunnAmuckS first good show did not occur until June 3rd, 1997, when they played with In/Humanity, Robots Make Mistakes, & Palatka.
On August 9th, 1997, they went into the local record store Beat Collectors to record what was supposed to be their 1st 7". The recording session cost $10 an hour… and needless to say, they got what they paid for. The owner/engineer John had just gotten his equipment and didn’t have a clue how to use it, so the recording sounded like crap. The RunnAmuckS basically mixed it themselves, as John kept leaving the room for 20 minutes at a time to snort coke or to make deals on the phone. This guy was such a jackass it would take another 10 pages just to describe him. He told the RunnAmuckS that if they added too much low-end to the bass it would sound like "Grandma’s Pussy Farts." His advise was timeless.
Around this time, the RunnAmuckS added a 2nd guitar player named Eric Johnson to the line-up, who had been in the local band The Petofiles. He was about 5 years older than the rest of them. At first his addition to the band was positive… he brought a better feeling to practice at a time when Josh, Mat, and Mike were getting easily agitated with one another, but chemistry was something they lacked. He could not keep up with the speed, and his song ideas were as pretentious as his cheesy live theatrics. Also, if you went to a show when he was in the band, you might’ve gotten a little lyric book which contained a slew of moronic activist propaganda.
After he joined, a series of events occurred of such idiocy it’s going to be hard to document them in all accuracy… Eric and Mike went back to the studio to add Eric’s guitar tracks onto the session and for Mike to re-dub his bass tracks, because their coked-up engineer had placed the bass mic about 5 feet away from the speaker during the first session. Somehow the idea came up to make a split 7" with another local band called Kills Competition, but that idea got scrapped, so the band went back to the same shitty place to record again to make their E.P. longer. The product was 3 songs totaling about 3 ½ minutes… recorded and mixed in only 9 hours! What fucking nonsense! Eric had written the best one ("Apathetic…"), but the 2 songs co-written with him ("Hero," and "Reasons") were some truly mediocre shit. After raising enough money (which was hard because none of these slackers except Eric ever had a regular job) they attempted to put out the record, but the addition of the 3 songs ended up cramming the vinyl and made the test pressings skip heavily. The pressing plant blamed the mastering plant for the fuck-up and vice versa. About $900 bucks altogether went down the drain and a record never came out. The band dubbed some crappy tapes to give out at shows and made a split tape with Kills Competition, but their efforts basically went to waste. Not until now have these recordings been put out onto a genuine release!
At the time, the scene in Orlando was actually starting to get cool. Chris Sappone had aquired a venue called Suburbia and things were looking up. There was always a good show and a good vibe going on at Suburbia. It only lasted a few months, but in that time many memorable shows occured… Orlando probably will never see anything as cool again. RunnAmuckS were always glad to play for free, and for whatever stupid-ass Food Not Bombs, Books Not Bombs, or other miscellaneous waste-of-time benefit there was to play. After the end of Suburbia, RunnAmuckS would not get regular shows for quite sometime.
That December, the band made their first attempt at a tour (something they wouldn’t accomplish until 2002!), but did not realize that tours are supposed to be booked months in advance. They tried only about 3 ½ weeks ahead of time. Only one date was attained… a New Year’s show in Atlanta which turned out to suck shit. They played first on a bill which featured some very pussy emo bands and some crappy tough-guy hardcore acts. The only response they heard to their playing was "uhh… that was fast."
This was about the time that Josh, an established clepto since the 7th grade, had stolen a couple CD’s from DIY. News of this did not get out until a couple months later, when a ridiculous rumor got out at a show that he had stolen $1000’s in merchandise! What a riot! He was blamed for practically all of the store’s missing bullshit! Somehow, it got back to Jeff J. Hogan (who dubbed himself "Owner and President of D.I.Y. Records") that Josh had been "bragging about stealing tons of stuff." Josh, genuinely feeling bad for stealing from the town’s crappy "independent record store," came forth and apologized to Hogan, offering to pay for the stolen goods. After a permanent ban from the store which lasted about 1 day, everything was cool… supposedly. At shows though, violence was an empty threat from the scene police, and the name RunnAmuckS was stained permanently in Orlando. People that never even heard them or talked to them went on hearsay and believed them to be the "bad guys of the scene." Looking back on it now, the group says, "Who gives a shit?" In their eyes it just made it clear who the goons were. Also for a period, Hogan talked shit about Josh behind Josh’s back, but still let him buy music from the store, which Josh did until finding out about the old cock sucker’s bullshit.
Despite the tarnished image, RunnAmuckS were still able to play some shows at the town’s new venue, Brodie’s. They also played a show in Gainesville, where they made $80 bucks that Eric decided they would "donate" to Food Not Bombs, who probably spent the money on marijuana or materials for homemade maxi pads. About this time, the group got a practice space in Downtown Orlando they shared with Eric’s crappy other band Nueman Portentum, which translated (not really, though) into "God Monster" (Oooh, Scary!), and some hippy band Eric knew from working at the local health-food store. The practice space was located in the shit side of town, right next to a crack street in the prostitution district. During the time they practiced there, Mat got mugged, Josh and Mike almost got into a fight with a bum, and the trio got chased down the street by an angry mob throwing rocks and bottles. Nobody cried when they couldn’t afford that place anymore!
One night at the space however, something great occurred. Eric hadn’t show up for practice and everybody was just messing around. Somehow a guitar riff was created and everybody just kept working off of each other, a process the band had never really experimented with before in songwriting. The result later became the song "Fuel for the Youth," and signified a dramatic change in gears from the garbage they were creating with Eric.
That summer was the time that Eric quit the band to try to make it big with Portos (what everybody called his other crappy band). It was decided for some reason beyond comprehension that Eric would record on the next E.P. (which was poorly titled "My Fellow Victims") and play a last show with the RunnAmuckS at the Los Crudos show in Orlando on July 2nd, 1998. The E.P. was recorded in late July by Rob McGregor at Turd Studios in Gainesville, Florida. The day of recording, Eric got mad at Josh because the night before Josh had pissed in an ice tray at the practice space, making for some pretty nice piss cubes the following morning. Because of the refreshing yellow cubes, (which they got to watch melt in the sun!), Eric eventually told Josh they weren’t friends anymore. The recording session went alright, but could have been a lot better. Eric kept fucking up and blaming the rest of the band. He just could not keep up. The most embarrassing song the RunnAmuckS ever took part in was recorded that day, called "I Will Defy," which featured a terrible intro crafted by Eric and the worst chorus Josh has ever put to a song. The band still can’t forgive themselves for that one! Eric went down for one of his cigarette breaks and in his absence the other kids decided to record some of the songs they had made together, which were the best ones they had ever written, but didn’t get on the record because they didn’t have words yet! They didn’t really fit on that shitty E.P. either… Josh later overdubbed vocals on those recordings with his 4-track in early 2001 and put them on a free comp for a CA based zine. The songs were "Fuel For the Youth" and "Stage For Disaster." Later, better incarnations of these songs finally ended up on the "On the Brink" album.
By that time, Josh was entering senior year in high school and Mike and Mat were trying to get their diplomas through the local community college program. They played a few scattered shows, and got the chance to play a couple shows with the amazing Boston thrashers Fat Day. The E.P., however, did not come out until nearly a whole year after it was recorded, on June 6th, 1999 (shortly after Josh‘s graduation), at a show at this dive in Deland, Florida called Happy Daze, which was the RunnAmuckS best show to that point. The covers of the record were done on a Fed-Ex envelope, and featured some stereotypical PC bullshit as the cover art (However, the poor packaging [and lyrics, for that matter] did not do the rippage inside justice, so in 2001 they re-packaged the remainder of the 7"s they didn’t put out as RunnAmuckS "Smash Your Fucking Brains In" E.P! This title fit the music a billion times better!). Ironically though, they did not play another show for almost 7 months, basically due to turning into bigger slackers than they were.
The next show they played was this shitty event at a Unitarian Church in Orlando called "The Go Fest" in late December ‘99. This fest was a benefit sponsored by the scum that ran Food Not Bombs to start some hippy gathering space called the "Stone Soup Collective." The RunnAmuckS had been told months in advance that they were on the bill, but little did they know that behind the scenes the organizers of the event had actually conducted a meeting for the sole purpose of determining if the RunnAmuckS would be allowed to play. Jeff J. Hogan from DIY had offered a $200 donation to the cause on the condition that the RunnAmuckS not play. A minority of those involved pushed for the RunnAmuckS, citing that they had in fact played countless other benefits, and there was no reason not to let them play "The Go Fest." Unfortunately for them, the RunnAmuckS were going to give them a reason!
That night before the show, they made a little stop by Mat’s job at the time, the Mayfair Animal Hospital, to pick up a large sack he had left by the dumpster that day. The bag’s contents were going to be quite a surprise at the show later! When it was time for the RunnAmuckS to play, Bryan App did a grand introduction and announced them onto the stage… and when they hit, the whole crowd started shaking their heads immediately. Josh had on a beer helmet to piss off the sXe crowd, a leather jacket to spite the vegetarians (even though he was one at the time), and pink fishnet stalkings with the crotch cut, just for the sake of looking like a fuck-up. They also had not played their instruments together for 2 months! The crowd hated their guts! After a couple attempts at a song or two, Josh and Mat’s clothes gradually started coming off. Josh dedicated a song to Jeff J. Hogan from DIY and took off his shirt. The words DIY IS 4 PUSSIES blazed across his torso. "FUCK DIY!," Josh yelled at the end of his dedication as the disgruntled crowd began shouting in anger.
After another couple attempts at some songs, (they actually finished one or two!), Josh began some spiel about animal rights, while producing the bag he had stashed behind his amp during set-up. He started talking about Mat‘s job at the animal hospital, then some nonsense about animals shitting all day and all their feces just going to waste. Finally, he said, "So we figure, hey, why not entertain all of these great people with it!," as he reached in the bag and pulled out a big juicy handful of cat and dog shit, all mixed together, and began smearing it all over himself! He handed the bag to Mat, who started rubbing the shit all over himself as well. The stench of old shit hit the crowd and everyone instantly jumped to the back of the room… many bolted right outside! One girl even puked on another’s shoe! They finished their joke of a set, and bid adieu to their audience… or what was left of it. Any ties that still linked them with the rest of the Orlando scene were permanently severed that night, never to be repaired! When all was said and done, and the crap was cleaned up (what nice guys they were! Cleaning up all that shit!) they went and rinsed themselves off in the church kitchen. And later they realized that someone stole Josh’s beer helmet! What a bastard! Thus is the story of RunnAmuckS early years. Look for "Up From the Muck 2" in another 5 years or so for the rest! THRASH ON!
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