This episode shows the hardcore scene sprouting from the excitement of the earlier punk culture. The Blu Hippos, Todlachen, Rifle Sport, Loud Fast Rules (which later became Soul Asylum) and Red Meat were some of the early bands that helped form the Minnesota hardcore scene.
A personal message from producer David Roth:
I've been researching this project for 40 %#*@ years!
I have a confession to make. The people, places, and stories contained in this web series all have an intimate and personal connection to me. The music scene was small in the Twin Cities, and if you happened to be into hardcore music, you were guaranteed to know everyone involved. I grew up with, learned from and love pretty much everyone involved in this show.
I regularly saw all of the bands featured in Minnesota Hardcore live at various clubs and halls around town, including The Replacements, Hüsker Dü and so many other exciting bands. None of the TV or radio stations, or newspapers, talked about or played this type of local music. It may be hard to believe, but people were freaked out that kids wanted to make this kind of noise.
The Blu Hippos
In 1982, I was told that there was a group of 15-year-olds who had a punk band in Northeast Minneapolis and that they were looking for a lead singer. I had no musical talent or experience, so I eagerly auditioned. The band told me I sounded like John Denver (ouch)! They said they'd think about it. In the meantime, these guys became my new best friends. I was a slamming audience member in the music video, "Homework." A few weeks later, The Blue Hippos broke up. I have a sneaking suspicion it was to avoid telling me that I didn't get the lead singer position. Regardless, they were still my new best friends, and when they formed the band Todlachen, I never missed a show.
Todlachen were really just The Blue Hippos, a new drummer, plus some guy from South Minneapolis, Tom Hazelmyer. Hazelmyer was a contrarian and would argue late into the nights on subjects ranging from punk music to politics. Todlachen broke up within a year and from the ashes came Otto's Chemical Lounge (featured in episode 6). Todlachen set the standard for the young, angry Twin City hardcore band. Who doesn't wanna be stereotyped?
I don't know why I loved Rifle Sport so much. They weren't as fast as a hardcore band - and were definitely post-punk. There was something infectious about them, their live performances, droning songs and their belligerent front man, Chris Johnson, who became a surrogate older brother to me. I was too young to get into any of the clubs, but he'd walk downtown with me, and we'd hang outside looking for an after party. These parties were some of the only places a kid like me could see bands.
When Rifle Sport and Man Sized Action were playing an out-of-town weekend show in Eau Claire, Wisc., Chris came over and talked my parents into letting me go with them. I was 15 at the time!
Loud Fast Rules
I knew David Pirner from West High School. He was a Senior when I was a Freshman...
My sister even got the band to play a party at my parents' house while they were away. Loud Fast Rules played in the living room, and I ended up with scars on my forehead from Danny Murphy's guitar neck as he had nowhere to swing. In 1983, Goofy's Upper Deck was the cool new punk club, and Loud Fast Rules played there often. I was 15 at the time - and looked 12 - so, of course, I went to Goofy's every chance I could.
When I first saw Red Meat, they were playing on the stage of the Uptown Theater. It was 2 am on New Years eve night, 1981-2. Peter Davis, who would soon be fired, was their lead singer. As Gérard Boissy says in the show, Red Meat was hardcorrreeee! They asked me to be their manager; I said yes. I never did anything to help them. That was pretty par for the course in the musical scene of Minnesota hardcore.
Coming Next: MN Hardcore, Episode 4: Goofy's Upper Deck
It was a dirty, empty room above a blue collar strip club in downtown Minneapolis. For a short time, Goofy's was the hardcore venue in the Twin Cities. Come relive the loudness, sweat, blood and pain!
Featured image by Dean Raeker.
This story is made possible by the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund and the citizens of Minnesota.
Discover more about the origins of the hardcore music scene in the Twin Cities and the people who fueled it in Minnesota Hardcore, Episode 1: Backstory.
And of course, Minnesota Hardcore, Episode 2: The Fastest Band in the World revolves around the early days of Hüsker Dü. "The songs [of the band's live album Land Speed Record] were short and chaotically fast; the lyrical content was angry, bitingly satirical and cynical. It was a calling card for hardcore. For a 14-year-old punk, confusing or not, it was the perfect invitation."
While you’re at it, take a stroll down the seedy, late-night streets of downtown Minneapolis, circa 1981, in this time-machine tour.