Though they played only a small handful of gigs and private parties in the late seventies, the Exterminators hold a huge place in the hearts of those of us who saw them. Now, forty years later, the reconstituted group has finally released a full length album. Once again, the world has a chance to discover “I Hate You,” “I Don’t Give A Fuck,” “Bionic Girl ” and the rest of the criminally neglected Phoenix punk canon.
Cris Kirkwood and I played for a while with the brothers Clark, Dan (“Johnny Macho”) and Doug (“Buzzy Murder”) in Dan's group Victory Acres. Somehow, it never occurred to us to do a show or two under the Exterminators moniker. The closest we ever got was in the fall of 1981. The Meat Puppets were slated to open the J.F.A.record release party at Madison Square Garden, and for some reason we had the notion to have my brother Damon play before us. He didn’t have a band, so Dan Clark and I got together with him to put together a set’s worth of material.
We used some stuff Damon and I used to do when back when we called ourselves the Voyeurs, but most of it was written specially for the occasion. We also did a couple of Exterminators classics. When promoter Tony Victor asked for the name of the band, Damon told him it had “no known name.” So Tony billed us as the Noknownames. In truth, it was Damon’s intention to have a different band play each song. He enlisted an LRY friend as MC to announce each “band.” He was also to sing, even though he didn’t know anything about the songs except the titles. Damon supplied him with some pages of poetry, however, in case he came up short. The night of the set, we pretty much threw open the stage. Dan’s wife Mary joined us on keyboards, as did both Cris and Curt. Another friend, Bob Crain, played saxophone.
I treasure my memory of that night. Getting my brother on stage is problematic in the best of circumstances. Give him the lead role and a drink or two, and you’re asking for trouble. His wild energy filled the arena. Damon’s guitar detuned itself early, something he never bothered to rectify. Dan and I did our best to keep the rhythm section steady, but the music was just barely recognizable as rock and roll. Soon people were flying onstage to grab instruments or the microphone. Things devolved into the most glorious mess I had ever heard. Our sound man Darrell caught the whole thing on a great board tape. All that mars the recording is the tape flip at the end of our cover of the Feederz’ “I Don’t Give A Fuck.” Frank Discussion had lunged onstage to reclaim his song. As the tape cuts off, you can hear a duet between Cris and Frank, screaming the chorus at the top of their lungs.
We eventually settled into an interminable noise jam, but by then we'd made our statement. The Meat Puppets tried to follow the Noknownames, but even they had met their match. I’d like to think the Exterminators would have as well, but I guess the world will never know.