They Haven't Gone Blind--Yet
"I don't want to say we're porn rock," says J.J. Nobody, vocalist and bassist for the Colorado Springs-based punk band called the Nobodys. "But we're firm believers."
The band's latest release, a collection of seven-inchers and outtakes called GREATASSTITS, wasn't named at random; Nobody and his cohorts (drummer Justin Disease and guitarist Randy "The Kid") dream that someday the goddesses of porn will be standing in line to satisfy their every desire. But the musicians have other things on their minds, too. They've dedicated themselves to opposing Stalinistic straitjackets whether they're worn by the holy rollers and right-wing politicos who dominate the Springs or by fellow punks who see nothing wrong with conformity. "I got into punk rock because you said and you did what you fucking wanted, you thought what you fucking wanted, and you didn't give a fuck what other people thought," Nobody points out. "But the whole PC thing put rules into more than the fucking mainstream; it did it to punk, too. You had to look a certain way, you had to have certain patches on your backpack, you had to stop eating red meat--and you couldn't like this band."
The outfit's humble birthplace was Doherty High School, where fellow students Nobody and Disease were part of a band called the Splittin Headaches. The heavy-metal hair farmers who ruled the local music scene hated them, but they were undeterred; after graduating in 1991, they continued to drift in and out of different groups, most of which were as dysfunctional as psycho wards. Personnel changes continued even after they dubbed themselves the Nobodys; among the guitar players who passed through the revolving door was one with the megalomaniacal moniker Frances Anthony Superstar.
Eventually, the Nobodys managed to put out a seven-inch with the oh-so-clever title Perfect on their own label, OFFKEY. The platter sports cheerfully lascivious tracks such as "Vaseline and a Magazine," "Wet Sheets" and "Teendrag Queen," as well as a straightforward, pulsating sound that Nobody accurately characterizes as "Ramones-oriented, but a little bit slower--more rock-and-roll." Still, the EPs didn't exactly fly off store shelves. "We couldn't give them away," Nobody admits. "We pressed 300 of them, and now people are dying to get them. But I had 250 of them for three years." The band had an equally difficult time getting people to come to their shows. According to Nobody, "We'd play with local bands, and they'd boo us off the stage. They didn't really like what we were about."
On Politically Incorrect, a hilarious, self-defining seven-inch from 1994, the Nobodys refused to change their tune. "Kielbasa Queen" seemed designed to offend feminists and vegan punks, and "Addicted to Porn" gave detractors who accused the group of degrading women even more ammunition. Such claims of misogyny get Nobody worked up to this day. "It's all a load of shit," he insists. "We treat everybody with respect--but we're fricking guys, for Christ's sake. I mean, who doesn't look at a fucking girl who walks by and go, 'Ooh, man, look at her'? If you don't--and I don't mean this in any derogatory way--you're either homosexual or you're fucking blind. It's just being human, but all these PC fuckers are taking the humanity out of being human."
Despite such reactions, the Nobodys slowly began to build a following, and they received a big break when a Denver punk promoter, Jason Cotter, passed along a copy of Perfect to Louis Posen, a California colleague. Posen was duly impressed. "I guess something just caught his ear," Nobody notes. "He liked the fact that we were a little different, we weren't scared to stick our necks out, and that we did our first three tours on our own, and I put my own seven-inchers out." Posen subsequently signed the Nobodys to what became Hopeless Records, an imprint that has fast become one of the major players in the national punk and ska scenes. With a roster that includes bands like Mustard Plug, Against All Authority and Falling Sickness, the company gave the Nobodys instant credibility and helped them reach a larger audience.
The Nobodys returned this favor when their friends in the Queers, a band recently profiled in these pages ("Queer Power," February 5), left Lookout Records in favor of Hopeless. The relationship between the Queers and the Nobodys is a close one; the Nobodys backed up Joe Queer at a Mammoth Gardens show earlier this year, and the two bands are currently on tour together. In addition, Joe Queer produced Short Songs for Short Attention Spans, the Nobodys' first full-length for Hopeless. The process of bringing the disc to fruition was a long one: It was originally recorded as a self-produced demo, but Hopeless rejected it. Queer then stepped in and rerecorded the tunes, but an engineering flaw forced him to start over a third time. Fortunately, the results were worth the trouble. Highlights include first-rate hardcore ("I'm Fucked"), blitzkrieg pop ("Scarred by Love," featuring Joe Queer) and a new version of "Perfect," the band's ode to porn princess/longtime obsession Taylor Wane (she appears on the cover of GREATASSTITS).
To put it mildly, the words to these songs are completely unpretentious; typical is "Almost There," a lament for future Viagra users ("I don't know why it happens/It happens all the time/I can't get it up/And now I wanna cry"). In explaining his approach, Nobody concedes, "I was just a dumb fucking kid when I started this band, and all I knew was getting turned down by girls, going home and watching my porno and fucking hating people. Well, not really hating them; I'm not really vindictive. But I hated things that pissed me off."
The success of Short Songs attracted some of the bigger names in punk to the Nobodys' second Hopeless project, The Smell of Victory. The Vandals' Warren Fitzgerald produced the long-player, and Guttermouth's Marc Adkins contributed vocals to "Vaca. in T.J." and "You Make Me Wanna Drink." Cut during the summer of 1997, Smell has a harder edge than its predecessors, in large part because "we were listening to bands like Zeke at the time," Nobody says. Another important factor is the emergence of guitarist Randy "The Kid," who became a permanent member of the band around the time of the recording. But the songs' sentiments remain the same. In the crowd-pleasing "Your Girlfriend," Nobody speaks out loud thoughts that most of us keep to ourselves: "Man, I gotta tell ya the truth/I wanna steal your girl from you/And when I look into those eyes/I wanna dive between those thighs/I wanna fuck your girlfriend."
A sense of humor has helped the Nobodys stick together through touring challenges of every description. Most of these have been relatively minor--such as learning to deal with each other's body odors. ("I woke up with Justin squatting about an inch from my face, and he cut the hugest fart," Nobody recounts. "I swear to God, I almost puked. I freaked; I didn't know where I was.") But the ultimate test came in New York City, when all of their equipment and belongings were stolen from their van. They dealt with this crushing blow in a way that would make any mother proud. "We went to New Hampshire," Randy says, "and bought underwear from Kmart."
Instincts like these have helped the Nobodys survive and even flourish in a difficult environment--their hometown. To Nobody, the fact that the band's still around is proof that Colorado Springs conservatives aren't as tough as they think they are. "The fucking Nobodys come from there," he says, "so they're obviously not getting their job done."
The Queers, with the Nobodys and Chixdiggit. 8 p.m. Wednesday, July 29, Aztlan Theatre, 974 Santa Fe Drive, $7-$8, 830-
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