Poison Idea - Punk Rock Jihad!

"Jerry A. & his Portland psychos are still a major menace to sobriety and society!"

By Jens Hellroute

With today's endless plague of cleancut boybands dealing in 'punkrock' with designer spiked colored hair, fake tattooes and MTV 'rebellion", it's nice to see the one of world's most infamous, nihilistic and chaotic punkrock outfits are back again. Portland's hardcore punx, Poison Idea, have been around since the early 80s, spreading havoc with their violent tunes and unruly drunken behavior. They also gained a lotta notoriety as the 'heaviest' band in punkrock, singer Jerry A. and guitarist Pig Champion had like 900 pounds of flesh'n'bones between'em! Then they sorta disappeared in the mid 90s after releasing an impressive catalogue of records. Well, a decade later Jerry and a new line-up are back on tour again with new album in the works, so I had a chat with a cheerful Jerry who's slimmed down a bit but not in the alcohol department. Thomas, who booked'em here in Denmark, told me that Jerry had downed two bottles of wine in 10 mins before I even talked to Jerry, who later asked me if I had any hard drugs, haha. Later two bottles of Jack Daniels disappeared during their show!! Old habits die hard I guess.

WORMWOOD CHRONICLES: Do you remember the last time you played here in Copenhagen in 1990?

JERRY A.: Yeah I remember, it was here (Loppen.), right?

WC: No, it was a couple of miles from here in a place called Ungdomshuset but can you, I know its hard, gimme a run-down of what's happened with Poison Idea since the last time I saw you?

JA: Well, the next day we woke up, I tried to take a shower, haha. And we went to Oslo the next day, and it was the first time Hank was singing for Turbonegro. They were opening for us and it was his first show.

WC: Whoa, his very first Turbonegro show! They were like little children then, haha.

JERRY A.: Yeah, and see now how they've grown into big strong men. From little children to big strapping bastards, haha. Makes me wonder what I'm doing now, circling through life. Anyway, the next day....what did we do, oh yeah we went to Sweden and played with Disorder. Lemme skip a bit forward here. We went to England and Tom (Pig Champion) said he Didn't wanna play anymore, no more 2 months tours, bounching up'n'down in a bus. Then we got back to Portland and we all got into a big fight, and then I started a band with my wife.

WC: The Gift, right?

JERRY A.: Yes, she was always bugging me, y'know "Why won't you take me on tour?...etc.", well, because it's not fun,it's horrible, that's why! Well, I made a band with her and Slayer Hippy, and we made this record, we did this tour, and she saw it, it's not that fun, eh baby? And then we went back to America, and then she divorced me! She threw me out, and I was running around like crazy, doing crimes. Not hurting anybody though, y'know, bank and cheque frauds, stuff like that. Just for the money. But it was crazy, a lotta people died from drugs, some went on to other things....

WC: I was thinking about the old line-up, Pig's living with his parents, right?

JERRY A.: Well, he still plays, we just recorded a new record, and Pig still plays with us. But he didn't want to come over here with us in Europe. But when we played CBGBs on the East Coast, Boston, Whiskey A Go-Go in L.A, he played with us, just flew in and did the shows. But it's like, "You wanna go with us to Europe, sit in a bus, sleep on the floor?" He didn't wanna do that.

WC: What can you tell me about the new members?

JERRY A.: Okay, I was looking around for the line-up for the new Poison Idea, and I was looking for a drummer at all the shows in Portland, y'know metalheads this and that. And there was this black metal band with corpsepainting and shit, and the drummer was really good, doublekick like a maniac, that's my drummer I thought. We were having a beer, he knew who I was, and I asked "Do you wanna play in Poision Idea?", and he was like "Really? Are you sure?", "Yeah, sure come join the band". And the bassplayer... Poison Idea always had bad bassplayers as far as fucked lunatics; Glenn and Mertle...Mertle always had the shit beaten outta him, his eyes would pop outta his sockets, haha.

WC: You needed a bassplayer who could defend himself, haha?

JERRY A.: We got Chris. People are like "Where the hell did you get this guy? He blows Mertle away". And then we got Jimmy, he's like the Eddie Clarke of Portland, a really really good guitarplayer kinda like Euroboy. We got Pig, but Pig wouldn't tour. So there's this band in Seattle called The Gits, we got Andy from The Gits. He's like my best friend, and we talked a lot cuz he didn't want to play music again after the band's singer Mia was murdered. They caught the guy who killed Mia like 9 years after the creep killed her, and they're going through the trial now and Andy didn't want to be in America when that is happening, and I was like "So come tour with us". And he did.

WC: Do you have a title for the new album?

JERRY A.: Well, first it was called "Punk Rock Jihad"...

WC: Hahaha, that'd get you a lotta friends!

JERRY A.: Yeah, that'd do something alright. Then we were looking at this Pink Floyd soundtrack album cover to the movie "More", and we thought that it would be really cool to take that and call it "Whore". So it's a toss-up between those two, but we got the artwork done, the music is recorded, we got every kind of shit done. It's just a matter of getting back and remixing two songs, and get the vocals on'em. I think it's really really good. Y'know I met these people in German who're really hardcore like (in a snotty voice) "You guys suck, it's not the same, you don't play the songs the same way...blah, blah". So I took'em in the van and played this CD with the new songs, and let'em listen to the tunes which are harder than ever, and they were like "It's a classic!". So tonite people will hear the old songs and the new songs, but when people hear the new songs they're usually like "What the fuck?".

WC: So does the new line-up drink as much as the old one, or have you slowed down a bit?

Jerry A.: No, haha, it's the same, haha. They go as crazy as....I mean we played Emo's in Austin on New Year's Eve, and we
went to this cowboy bar filled with cowboys I guess, and our bassplayer grabs this big candle with wax and shit and walks up to this pool table and pours hot wax all over the pool table. So they're pissed and throw him out, and then he picks up a stopsign and throws it at this tattoo parlor and smashes the windows. And everybody is yelling "You gotta come get this guy right now, he's gonna get killed!", all the cowboys really hate him. He's this little guy actually but he's yelling "Yeah? Well, FUCK YOU!". He's such a lunatic so they wouldn't fuck with him. He's been around for awhile, and his band opened for us at a record release party where we did "Record Collectors Are Pretentious Assholes" years ago, so it's good to have him in the band. It was like who's the most fucked up guy we can get.

WC: That was actually my next question, are record collectors still pretentious assholes?

JERRY A.: More. I'm a fan of bootlegging, people should've more access to stuff, I saw this guy in Portland buying a fuckin' Child Molesters single for 900 dollars! FOR A SINGLE!?! Just awhile back they couldn't give them away! You can't take it with when you die...or can you when you go to heaven? St. Peter is going like "What's with all this stuff? Get rid of it!"

WC: So what is America like post-September 11th, totally paranoid patriotism overload or what?

JERRY A.: It's all bullshit! George Bush's family is friends with the Bin Ladens, it's all oil and connected to money, it doesn't mean nothing.

WC: So the album title "Punk Rock Jihad" is kinda poking fun at that or what?

JERRY A.: If it was up to me, there was like G.G. Allin in America saying all kinds of stupid stuff and blah blah. I'd like to take stupid things on a wider scale, not go after people who can't defend themselves like AIDS and stuff. I wanna do something stupid like fuckin' Jihad, I mean, c'mon we're now having wars over fuckin' religion, this is a fuckin' voodoo thing in somebody's head, some stupid prick with the Koran or the Bible. Fuck them! I've actually been declared dead twice y'know. I didn't see no fuckin' white light, I didn't see nobody walking towards me. I woke up after a coma after 6 days, and it was fuckin' horrible. A body is just a fuckin' motor they start up again, there's no bullshit spirituality.

WC: So what are you listening to on the bus on this tour?

JERRY A.: Old old Blues. White Stripes ruined the Blues for everyone, y'know, fuck that. I'm down with Lightning Hopkins, all the people they stole from.

WC: More stories about mayhem and chaos?

JERRY A.: I got this story from a gig in England, where Wattie from The Exploited and some of his drunken friends came to see us and they were kinda rowdy in the crowd, annoying the hell out of the feminist skinhead vegans or whatever. And I'm Like passed out on a monitor from being electrocuted during the show! So I woke up with this bald feminist girl screaming in my face "I love Poison Idea, but you're a fascist! I HATE YOU!!", haha. Yeah right, more rules in punkrock that's what we fuckin' need, haha.

WC: Okay, thanks for the interview, Jerry.