1/15/10

(re)birthplace: New Method Laundry

It was a slum, for lack of a better term. A block-wide two story run down building next to the freeway on the border of Emeryville and Oakland. At one point it had been some type of factory laundry facility, only apparent by the aging steel sign on the roof.

It was damp in the winter because of the leaks and full of cockroaches year round. The fenced yard was a favorite hiding place for neighborhood crack heads running from the cops. Some of the walls in the darker first story hallways had a fuzzy black mold on them. The area around it was home to prostitutes and drug dealers. (this was before the "magic" of gentrification and big box stores coming to the area) Walking to New Method from the train was a nervous affair for a skinny white kid from the suburbs, but it was worth it. The freedom loving punks that had made it a home were gracious hosts to some amazing live shows.




Today it is an empty patch of dirt surrounded by a chain link fence. The Loma Prieta earthquake of 1989 damaged the building irreparably and years later it was torn down.

In the 80's, in my mid-teens, it would become one of the most cherished places in my heart.

1984 was the year I started hanging out in the Oakland/Berkeley/Emeryville area. I wasn't from there. I lived down in San Lorenzo, an unincorporated suburb about a half hour south of Oakland. At that point my family had started disintegrating - my mom had moved away and staying around the big empty house with my step dad was a drag. Great man, but he was slowly going insane with grief and I had things to do. I bolted for days and weeks at a time.

I had punk rock. The hardcore scene in the east bay and SF was alive and well. I had a wide variety of seedy clubs to go to, parks to loiter in, new friends to meet, alcohol to drink and drugs to try. I dove in, fucking head first.

In 1984 I joined a band with Dave Ed after his former band had broken up. We did a demo, switched some members around, then a short time later added Scott Kelly who had recently moved up from San Diego. (amazing present day tattoo artist Jason Storey provided vocal duties) This band was called Violent Coercion, and it was my first real introduction into the potential power of making music.

We did some gigs at the Mabuhay in SF, Ruthie's Inn in Berkeley, a train wreck of a show up in Reno and then started playing at New Method. Scott had moved into the adjoining house there and the residents were having shows on a regular basis. Things were going great and I was having a blast.

I was kicked out by the first guitarist for missing a gig. Over the phone. Sweet. Turns out this would be the only gig I've ever been fired from. Day jobs, bands, whatever. I've quit many, never been fired. Meh.

Later I learned that Scott and Dave never approved of me being booted and they would be leaving the band as well, essentially breaking it apart. I knew they were my brothers the day we met. I could not see myself making music with anyone else.

We formed Neurosis in the winter of 1985. It was my new family.

2 comments:

  1. New Method was indeed an amazing venue!

    One of my all-time favorite shows took place there on July 19th, 1986:

    7 Seconds
    Beefeater
    Das Damen
    Neurosis

    A Two P.M. show for the punk-friendly price of $2.50

    What was the difference between Neurosis and Violent Coercion?
    No Mowhawks!

    (At one time, V.C. sported FOUR mowhawks within the band!)

    That 7 Seconds gig was my introduction to Neurosis, and it took me awhile to adjust to the paint-cracking vocals of Scott and Dave, when I was used to the D.R.I. kind of barking done by Mr. Storey!

    "Turn the key and open the door!"

    If you're talking V.C. at The Mab, would that be with S.N.F.U.? If so, that was a bad-ass show. Of course, Violent Coercion with The Accused and Burnt Offering at Ruthie's Inn was pretty fucking memorable, too!

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