It was 1999 in the asshole of America. Decatur, Illinois. It was the place I couldn’t wait to get away from, but I had another year of hell to live through before I made my escape. My days were pretty much spent absorbing whatever drugs I could get my hands on and watching my life disintegrate before my eyes. It was a deliberate brand of self-destruction, I didn’t see any hope or a way out so I figured I’d burn the fucking house down.
Paints a lovely picture, doesn’t it?
I wasn’t even really playing music anymore, most of my bridges were burnt to a crisp, and that was it. Just self-destruction for the sake of itself, and it wasn’t pretty. I’m not immensely proud of the majority of that time, but I also wouldn’t be where I am today without it so there’s a push/pull sort of gratitude there. Fact remains, I was pretty much just a fucking nihilist.
“No, Donny, these men are nihilists, there’s nothing to be afraid of.”- Walter Sobchak
Some of the guys that were older than my scumbag friends and I were in some fucking FANTASTIC bands: V- Shape Mind and 13. V-Shape Mind went on to do a major label record and 13 morphed and changed a few million times and is actually active again as Honest Pod. The frontman/guitarist for V-Shape Mind was even my guitar teacher for a little while, so he MUST have had nerves of steel. Anywho, those two bands had a practice space that ended up becoming a venue since people started just showing up anyway. It grew to become something pretty fucking special to us, and bands came from all over the place looking for a rad place to snag a gig, and they even started getting bands like Soil, Chevelle, and countless others to come play there on word of mouth alone. It wasn’t hurting anybody that Mudvayne was on their way up and friends of everyone’s, so those dudes would come destroy the place every couple months or so.
It was good fucking times in a dark fucking place, and for a brief flash I got to be IN 13 (the name was Gretchen at the time but it was essentially 13 plus me) and it was amazing cause not only did I get to be in 13, I also got to be a part of the venue. True to my form back then, I fucked off to Mardi Gras and got booted from that band, but the bad blood didn’t last long and I still came out to every show that happened there. It was called the Hall of Justice and I’d be willing to bet some people out there are still talking about those shows somewhere.
“Friend, realize what the FUCK you deserve”- Spite
There was one band out of ALL of them that stood out the most though, by leaps and fucking bounds. None of us had ever heard of North Carolina’s Spite*, but about three seconds into their set that band would become the absolute best band I’ve ever seen live, period. Nihilists? Fuck that, these dudes were the fucking DESTROYERS of everything.
(*There’s a currently active band called Spite– it’s definitely not these guys, but they’re rad too. THIS Spite existed almost entirely pre-internet.)
Let me set the stage for you. These four guys must have loaded in dressed as ninjas cause I don’t think I even saw them make their way into the place, but all of a sudden there they were. The singer, Chris Boone, was this tall, skinny, tattooed- up dude in a John Deere hat. The tattoo above his stomach was the word “SLAVE” and he had a giant fucking NAIL tattooed down his entire spine. Their bassist, Josh Pratt, looked like a speed freak Johnny Knoxville in a Coke shirt, which gave the general impression that he was most likely ON a shit-ton of it too.
Then there’s the fucking drummer, Byron McDonald. First of all, the guy’s drums were set up in a fashion I’ve never seen since- his throne was SUPER low to the ground but his toms and cymbals were mounted WAY high up. So the whole time he looked kind of like a monkey attacking a banana tree and there’s ALSO the fact that he’s naked except for a leather thong. Yes, you read that right. A leather fucking thong.
“Sometimes he says he dreams he watches it all come to a close, and pains we can’t even imagine aren’t shit compared to what’s to come.”
Finally, there’s guitarist “Live Fast” Dan Young, who unfortunately lived up to his tragically hilarious moniker- he died of a heroin overdose pretty soon after this. Dan was the kind of guy that just LOOKED like a fucking rock star, and god damn sure lived like one too, a little too much obviously. Homeboy had a full Marshall stack in this fucking garage and every bit of power and volume was abused to its limits when they played.
All of them seemed like they completely and totally hated other humans, and they were fond of flipping off the audience, spitting on them, and being uber-confronational which is something I’ve always fucking ADORED in heavy bands. I like my music with some fucking catharsis and these guys we’re the fucking REAL shit. The drummer would, in the middle of the set, run out into the crowd in his leather thong, and collapse onto the floor writhing, spitting, crying, whatever.
This shit was B-A-N-A-N-A-S.
Musically speaking, this shit was peak 1999 heavy alt-metal: high-treble slapped bass, super-tight snare drum, and downtuned-to-fuck guitars. That said though, it still holds up and if it came out today I’d feel the same way as I did all those years ago. Lyrically speaking, it was all commentary on the disintegration of society, the American Dream, porn culture, and religion with a HARD nihilistic bent that meant you were never quite sure if they were against the shit, rolling in the shit, or just fucking out of their minds and not fully aware of what the fuck they were talking about. I read a concert review from L.A. Weekly that essentially said these were the kind of guys that would be locked the fuck up if they didn’t play music and that, my friends, is the stone-cold truth.
It was the most fucking intense spectacle I’ve ever seen, and I’ve played, seen, and booked hundreds of shows. I’ve seen some of my biggest musical influences live, and met a few of them too, but this? I can still remember it like it was fucking YESTERDAY, and no band has ever left such a visceral impression on me like Spite did. I wish they WOULD have come out now, cause WAY too much music from that era got written off as “nu-metal” and that shit is way too reductive for music this good.
They came along at a time when I was looking for a reason to die, or living like a human cry for help- whatever, and to see other people who clearly did not give a FUCK playing some of the heaviest shit I’d ever heard and spitting all over everyone was a revelation of the highest order. After they laid waste and left jaws on the floor I got to meet the guys and I’m pretty sure they mocked me the whole time or they were completely wasted, but who cares? These guys were the fucking real deal, the kind of dudes that someone’s girlfriend would end up backstage with and leave with a drug problem and a criminal record at the end of the night. Their shit was bleak, but that darkness and anger resonated with my Midwestern emptiness in a way I might never fully understand.
“Blue skies, sunshine, they’re all gone”
Turns out, they’d just put out their full-length debut album “Bastard Complex” on Prosthetic Records-they had a self-produced album before that but I don’t remember the title (pretty sure it was “Heavy Whipping Cream”) and unfortunately there is nearly ZERO information on these guys on the internet since it’s been like a billion years. They came, they saw, they disappeared. Anyway, I still have my original CD copy of the album and I listen to it all the time. I ran a 10K the other day and listened to it twice, all the way through. It’s not on Spotify or anything but thank Satan for YouTube!
I’m posting the link to the full album below, and you’re gonna need to dedicate an hour, grab your headphones or crank up your bluetooth speaker, and let Spite assault your fucking brain and emotions with their unprecedented brand of 90’s rage. I stand by this shit, forget the slightly-dated elements, it’s probably even more vital now than it was back then, especially since the world has only gotten shittier.
“Thin and getting thinner”
If you’re anything even REMOTELY like me I think you’ll hear what I hear. If only you could see them live, there’s never been anything like it since and I doubt there ever will be either. Everyone too fucking careerist and scared to ruffle feathers nowadays. Spite were alt-metal G.G. Allin, they were Charles Manson in a feather boa, they were drugged-up country boys with serious issues, and they were fucking AMAZING.
That’s it for now, Ghosties. Stay tuned for some SUPER rad interview announcements and keep yourselves safe out there. At least you have some “new” music to check out which perfectly echoes the darkness of our current global situation. Hail Satan.
(I have NO idea what any of these guys are up to now, they had a few different guitarists after Live Fast Dan Young, and there just isn’t any info about these dudes floating around out there. Like I said, most of their run was pre-internet. If you know anything I’m all ears so let me know in the comments!)
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