Tuesday, January 06, 2015

SCHIZOID


For our first entry from a Newfoundland band we present you with the infamous Schizoid. Playing hardcore/crossover thrash, they took the St. John's scene by storm, releasing 2 demos and a 7" EP. A lot of Atlantic Canada bands didn't put much effort into their bands, but Schizoid was an exception even moving to Toronto for a bit to try to progress the band. The following is a interview that took place via email in early 2014 with band members Bob Armstrong and Rod Willis. MP3 downloads at the end as per usual!!


Band shot - Don, Rod, Chris, Bob, Phil









When did the band start? What was the line-up? Did that change over time?

Rod: The band developed through the summer of 1985 with just myself and Bob jamming in my parents basement. The idea came about because we were both old high school mates and we happened to meet one day. I just came back from England and bought many albums that were starting to make an impact in the scene. I was more on the metal side and Bob was more punk. We just thought we'd mix them both and see what would happen, and as you're probably aware of, this became known as Crossover.
Flyer from the first show
Bob: Yeah Rob was packing Onslaught and I had Animosity!

Rod: By that time we had written a track (Schizoid aka Possessed), Bob's band at the time Public Enemy were coming to an end so we decided to find a few local guys that might be interested in starting something new. 
The idea for the name Schizoid I think came from the TTC Subway transit line in Toronto,there was this poster on the subway that read "Schizophrenia Strikes"
Bob: The name came from a movie, same with Public Enemy

Rod: The first official line up was Bob and myself along with Clarke Hancock (who went on to form WAFUT (What A Fuckin Ugly Truck)), Chris Jerret and John Pastore (Who later went on to form Rise in Montreal….a band Bob and Don would later join). We started rehearsing in the winter of 1985 and the first recorded jam was at John's, which contained only two tracks (Possessed and Youth Crusaderz - this track was from Bob's previous band Public Enemy) This was to be the only jam or recording of this line up and only remaining member to stay was Chris Jerret (Vocalist).

In March of 1986 we had Phil Winters (Guitar) and Danny Thomas (Bass) join the band. Danny was from another band in town called Tough Justice and Phil was just a friend who hung around. This line up stayed together until August of 1986. The first performance featuring this line up was March 2nd and last was in August after Danny decided to leave the band. The last show with Dan was the Peace A Chord. We then found Don Ellis to play Bass and this was the final and most recognized line up for Schizoid.
Possibly a photo from their first show!

What was the scene like in St. John's at the time?
Rod: The scene by the time Schizoid were around, was becoming very vibrant. Everybody was excited and there was this serge of new bands forming all around. DUPP (Dead Upturned Puppy Productions) were always involved in the shows because we would book the venues. When I look back over the various show flyers they always seem say a DUPP Production. From various flyers i have some of the bands sharing the bill were WAFUT, The Asmathix, Malpratice, Bottom Dogs, Red Scare, The Crypt, Inferno, NRK,and The Riot. 

Shows were usually all ages and booked for the afternoon. No clubs would book us so we had to find old age homes or the basement of a bingo club on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon. This was at the beginning and overall the St John's music scene was unaware of what was going on at the time. The city mostly had night club cover bands doing "Your mama don't dance " or Eagles favourites. The underground scene was not considered music but overtime you could see the scene gradually getting bigger and some new local clubs were opening up and they had a better open minded understanding. This meant we didn't always have to book our own shows any more, and each band could play on their own instead of always together. This is when the scene really starting coming alive,this was around early 1989. St John's was refreshing - with so much talent and expression, going to clubs to check out new bands was very versatile, from jazz to death metal it was all there and thankfully this remains that way today. If a show was downtown, you were sure to bang into someone you knew.



For me, and I really can't speak for the others on this, but I noticed the change when Schizoid got asked to participate in this contest titled Star Search '89. For us even to be asked was a real feat and just showed how far we and the scene became in a such a short span. During these performances I noticed a change in attitude among the crowd. Everybody from all genres of music was in one place and everybody had a open mind. There was no shock or disgust on their faces - everybody accepted everybody. A wonderful feeling being involved in this. I also noticed among our crowd that they looked proud to be who they were, heads held high and screaming yeah this is our music,our band,and our friends. I think we all felt accepted for the first time. After that most clubs featured all forms of music - you no longer had to play Steve Miller to get a gig. Bands with originals were being looked at more closely instead of being ignored.

Even local radio stations were beginning to feature more local talent and putting out local CD compilations. The St John's Music Scene became one big happy family but outside influences and a changing scene worldwide helped open those doors also. I hate to say it, but bands like Nirvana being played mainstream opened the doors for acceptance.  When Schizoid started the bands before us started to drift off. Da Sylme had now become Dog Meat BBQ and they had their crowd who was our crowd also but with them they had their followers from Da Sylme days, so there was still a difference. When we started that scene really became a new scene and developed from there. From what I remember the bands that stood out were Schizoid, Tough Justice & Dog Meat BBQ. 

What can you tell me about the 2 demo tapes you recorded? The first one being the Total Fuckin' Mayhem! Demo

Rod:  Total Fuckin' Mayhem! (still love this title) was recorded at my parents house on 08-18-86, recorded with only two mikes running through a mixer hanging over a chandelier. By this time with having other writers in the band we had compiled enough to record our first demo.
Bob: There is only one guitar on that demo as Phil could not make it for some reason.

Rod: From what I remember the Mayhem demo was well received and by this time the local HC scene had accepted the different style of Schizoid and what I mean by this is my approach as a drummer was different from what the local scene were use to at that time, because my background was more Metal/Classic Rock it contained many more rhythms than the typical straight forward HC beat. When we started there was no double kick drums being heard on most releases and our style of writing and arranging songs were at times wrote around that,so the many stops/starts and tempo changes was something the scene had to get use to.


Chris Jerret was a showman and his stage antics stood out from the other bands at the time. He was very energetic and his lyric approach varied from war to personal issues like suicide. Phil Winters was at the beginning stages of writing and playing but this brought something special to the table cause in reality his influence was coming from what he was hearing music wise within the scene and this shows with his writing - part metal and punk influence. Bob Armstrong was really into the HC scene and his rhythm style of playing really shows. You can hear his various influences within his written tracks - the staple of the band stems from his style of writing. Now Don Ellis was the heart of the band and reason I say this is because Don could play anything you threw at him - very versatile and offered many of the ideas that went through our songs. Take all of this and put it together and it really was Schizoid. Everyone involved played an important role to develop the style that the band became.

Outside St John's the demo was picking up some interest from Toronto because the tape was featured a few times on the local college station CKLN. Being played on Brian Taylor's Metal Show helped to get our name noticed. From the few copies we made they all sold locally and some were sent to Toronto.

Then the Datin' Satan Demo came out... 

Rod: On this demo we decided to hire a sound engineer by the name of Wallace Hammond,who in his own right was a legend in the city with forming the city's first punk bands - Da Slyme and Dog Meat BBQ. Wallace is well respected in the city and was the perfect choice. 

This was recorded at Don's house over a two day period on March 11-12-87. The title came about from watching a CTV W5 news special about Satanism in Rock. It was a pun to that and I still think the guy on the cover looks like Blackie Lawless from WASP (well does to me anyway). The reason for going all out with an engineer this time instead of taking the self produced approach is because Brian Taylor from Toronto started showing interest in the band and he wanted to produce a full album with us to come out on the Diabolic Force. This label featured such bands as Sacrifice, Sudden Impact and Slaughter. We were flattered to join that roster. With such short notice we couldn't come up with the appropriate funds so we decided we would record with Wallace in St John's and send Brian the final product. 

The outcome was the recording was not up to Diabolic's standards and we were asked to come to Toronto to record there with Brain producing. In the meantime we decided to release the recording as Datin' Satan. By the time of this release we were getting a larger momentum around the city. Shows were becoming larger with not only locals coming from within the scene to check out the shows. I guess this also could stem from the fact that music was changing in '87 and bands that were signed to bigger labels were opening the doors for other bands trying to get in and made the average listener become aware of a scene they didn't even know existed. This demo was well received but taking tracks from those sessions and releasing them at the Beer Thief EP really made people take a notice. 

Bob: All of a sudden we would show up at our shows and only know a few people. There scene was getting bigger and bigger!

After that, the Beer Thief 7" EP was releaseed. What can you tell me about that?

Rod:  The idea come up to take some tracks from Datin' and release them as a 7". What happened was we took off for Toronto to record with Brian Taylor for the Diabolic Force label. To our surprise they wanted a certain amount of money upfront to cover recording cost and in return they would handle printing the album cover, marketing and distribution. But being young at that time we just didn't have the means to raise that type of money. It's unfortunate but things like this happen.
Bob: We all moved to Toronto to make a go of the band. This included being closer to Diabolic Force and hopefully getting our record out. Back then the deal with those guys was you had to pay your own recording costs. It wasn’t going to be much, but we couldn’t come up with it. The band broke up for awhile, some of us moved back home, some stayed. We ended up regrouping and Rod and I put up the $$ for the record.

Rod: 1000 were pressed and the first patch contained an error. By accident the song Grief written by Phil was included, so we decided to send them back to be repressed but before that was done we kept a few for ourselves with the record plant's permission. I don't know how many we actually kept but I think it was around 50 (I guess the actual 1st pressing is the one containing Grief)
Bob: There was one song on there twice and one song that shouldn't have been on it. It was a dream come true for a record collector!

Rod: Cover art and idea was Bob's and the saga of the Beer Thief came about because somebody somewhere (he/she knows who they are) were responsible for always taking our beer at parties. It was a tribute to that. Over the years we're all been blamed but we still don't know who the local legend is. (I guess it's one of those take it to the grave stories) From what I know we sold a few but mostly they were handed out among friends and family. Sometimes Chris would make them part of the show and throw a few out. I guess who ever caught one got something else with admission - pretty cool.)
Bob: Somehow they are almost all gone. A lot of them went to distros that never paid us...tons for review and lots given away. But the main thing is it got our name out there.

Rod: The single was really done for ourselves after the disappointment of not going full tilt with the Diabolic offer. We could look at each other and say "Hey we have a record". Now today that little record has a world of its own and has really helped keep the spirit of the band alive. I'm really glad, as we all are, that we decided to put it out. It showed we were serious and cared about our craft.




Was there a 10 year re-issue of the 7"?

Bob: I just made new covers for the leftovers. Kind of a greasy thing to do but the collectors knew what it was and didn’t seem to mind.

What can you tell me about the label DUPP Records that put it out?

Bob: DUPP was started in order to start putting on local shows. It later turned into the record label.
Rod: DUPP (Dead Upturned Puppy Productions) was our own label, started by Bob and the idea was to have a local label that featured various bands from St John's. Other releases outside Schizoid was Tough Justice "3 Seconds of Silence" and WAFUT but that demo never reached release status and was just passed out among friends. DUPP were also trying to promote bands outside Newfoundland to play here like DOA, SNFU, and The Resistance.
Bob: DOA played and that was Public Enemy's first show and the first time anyone other than April Wine had ever played St John's/ It was a huge moment for the scene. Brought anybody who had ever heard punk rock out. And they stayed out and started coming to see Public Enemy. We brought SNFU a couple of years later. Figures that the two hardest working bands in Canadian punk would be the only ones to make it to the island....up until then anyway.

Did you get a chance to play any shows outside of Newfoundland?


Bob: In Toronto we played one show. It was with opening for a shitty metal bar band from London Ontario. Was a good show with good response. Right after that I booked a show with Sacrifice and Sudden Impact. Would have been absolutely KILLER. Then with the drama of us imploding I forgot to cancel the show or even tell the bands I booked it.  Duh.
Never played anywhere else but we did cruise thru Halifax at that time and met up with a lot of people we had been corresponding with over the years. All pre-Sloan era Halifax but I am sure those guys were probably at the arcade with us.

When and why did the band break up? What have the members gone on to do since?

Live @ Peace A Chord fest 1990
Rod: Honestly band never did break up,we just parted ways for various reasons. Bob moved away and joined Rise from MTL for a while. Chris took over the pipes for Sudden Impact for a tour. I ended up joining other bands, one with Johnny and Rod from Tough Justice and with Don from Zoid. I also got involved in a thrash metal band called Sacrament and Danny from that band formed Sheavy. And last but not least Phil started a very well known band in the city called Bung. We stayed busy but with different things going on. We did end up doing a one off show for another Peace A Chord event in 1990. This show was only as a four piece because Bob couldn't make it as he had other commitments at the time This show was the last time any of us played together live. After this gig I moved to Toronto and have lived there ever since.
Bob:  Phil continues to play in lots of bands. Don is back in St. John's and plays in bands but spends most of his time running his recording studio. Don has probably played in every band in St. John's at one time or another! Chris owns a bike shop and spends his off-time building military models and mountain biking. I moved back to Toronto in 1989 to work for the railway. I dabbled in bands for a while and had a record label called Crack Records. The usual bullshit - had some great bands but they were all spoiled and lazy - no touring or self promo. So the label flopped after I ran out of money.

Possessed To Golf!
Schizoid were supposed to play a reunion show in 2014 but didn't happen due to "logistical bullshit" but look for it to happen in 2015. Check out the Facebook page for more info on that: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Schizoid-Reunion-2014/607966419297569

And here you can find downloads of :
- Total Fuckin Mayhem! demo 1986
- Datin Satan demo 1987
- Beer Thief 7" 1987

- 2 live sets

6 comments:

Geoff said...

Awesome to read an interview with Rod and Bob! Phil and Don are currently playing together again with me in Jigger - you can check us, and our recently released album, out at jigger.bandcamp.com or give us like on Facebook.

Anonymous said...

Reminds me of this band

http://undesirables.bandcamp.com/

Anonymous said...

Big shout out to Bob and Don! We had some great times in Montreal. How did you survive sleeping on our floor and couch in our crappy MTL apartment? Keep on rocking!
Cheers,
Erick

Anonymous said...

1 small correction. The two University stations in Toronto were CIUT and CKLN. (I think Brian Taylor's show was on CKLN). CHUM is one of the biggest, mainstream radio stations in Toronto and has been around since the '40's. I don't think Schizoid were getting airplay on CHUM.

Carolyne Whelan said...

Hey! I'm from the US (Pittsburgh, PA) and will be going to Newfoundland in August. I've been trying to find some information on the punk scene in the area, because a) I'm interested in other scenes, and b) I'm a writer and am hoping to cover some of the St. John's scene. The internet is always hard to use as a tool to find out about bands, shows, zines, punk houses, etc., for obvious reasons. I'm stoked I found this website, so thanks for it. Since bands are always coming and going, is there anyone you could recommend seeking out when I'm up there this summer, or any zines to hunt down or people, record stores, etc. to look up? If you want to email me, it's whelan.writes(at)gmail(dot)com. Thanks so much in advance!

Anonymous said...

I totally missed seeing Schizoid when they played any Toronto shows. I used to be at Ildikos a lot in 1987-88. I didn't even know they were in the city..

I think CHUM's metal show was cancelled it in 1986 ?

In Toronto, 1983-86 (approx.), the only metal radio shows (I knew about)-

Tuesdays 11pn-12am CKLN 88.1 FM - Argh Rock/Aggressive Rock with Brian Tailor
Fridays 12 am-1 an Q107.1 FM Metal Shop with "the Bird"
Saturdays 10 pm -12 am CHUM 104.4 FM Metal Shop with a chick dj

...eventually The Bird's show was cancelled, and in 1986, on Friday midnight's, they had a syndicated show from the USA called "The Metal Shop - The Only Show with Teeth" playing instead.