Hello out there in the land of words.
PUNK GLOBE: Dave, tell the folks out there how things first started? How Executioner came about.
DAVE BURKS: A bunch of random things in a strange consecutive order are responsible for Executioner's formation. I went to London in 1981, returned home with a skewed perspective and a funky red leather jacket. Put away my pointy toed patent leather boots, beloved Beatles records and started Reign of Terror with Terry Sargeant (BASH boys) and Bill Fraenza on bass, some other cat from high school, (can't remember his name right now) I taught both to play. Bill looked good and needed to be in band anyway. This ROT band never got far but did play supporting spots in a few live shows in San Francisco. Amphetamines happened in the punk scene causing an exodus of kids running away to the city to live in the Falstaff beer vats, (Editors note. The Vats, as known were inside an old brewery in the SOMA area of SF, a popular squat housing many punk bands. They held underground shows promoting a growing movement. The Dicks, Verbal Abuse, MDC and numerous other bands) we lost Terry and roadie Noddy to the excitement of the streets. I met DOG (Maury) Malcolm at shows and Hammerslag resulted. Both dressed well, Maury was English, so we gave him the microphone. Hanging out with Whipping Boy earned us a support slot on their tour as another upstart (Rebel Truth) backed out. Eugene asked about ROT. I deftly suggested Hammerslag instead. So as we accepted a tour offer realizing we don't have DOG, as he doesn't even travel the peninsula. Quick thinking. To our left is Malcolm's girlfriend, Lucille. Simply gorgeous and Dutch, I think. Very fucking hardcore looking, it hits you in the gut. I liked it. She screamed as expected without mumbling (more accented English) so she was in. Tour time comes she is ready and quite good. Stumbling block solved tour on schedule and getting closer. Next obstacle, our drummer quits after a requisite "trouble with this band is" dust up. We get him to spill his dad won't let him make the tour. I talk to Pop's in a late night hand holding session and the tours back on. Then comes a sudden realization we have no transport vehicle for the tour. Not a truck or car belongs to us.
PUNK GLOBE: Didn't any of you have transport for your equipment to other shows?
DAVE BURKS: Nope! Malcolm rode a white multi-mirrored Vespa scooter with a big windshield like in The Who's Quadrophenia. There was a cat in our circle owned a 1959 Cadillac hearse and hauled our equipment to gigs nearly gratis.
PUNK GLOBE: Nice, appropriate transport. What happened next?
DAVE BURKS: Kevin Bassinet drove a beaten down, faded gold, stock 1963 Dodge Dart. Traded his Vespa for his Dart and Kevin got a better deal. The car was a mobile wreck looking for a scene. A doubter from High School said, "you'll make it to Winnemucca before something blows" didn't make it that far before mechanical failure. Doubting Rich boy was right. The radiator went under 500 miles, small leak in the tank whistling like a steam train, stuffed a t-shirt inside and re-filled it water. Kept us limping further up the road. Brought three one-gallon plastic jugs of water to keep topping the radiator and some to drink. A limited budget for food and we packed precious little supplies. Otherwise things went well.
I read liner notes in the Whipping Boy compact disc GTA released a few years back Eugene mentioned a tour Hammerslag did with Whipping Boy. He mentioned a certain event happening with a bunch of hicks. Care to confirm or clarify the record?
DAVE BURKS: Can't answer that one as the documents are sealed under court order. Think there's a gag order in effect. Next question. I'm kidding. We drove three days straight following those Whipping Boys in a retired Stanford University service truck with a roll up door. They rolled it up and started throwing PB & J crust at our windshield leaving sticky smears of jam like slug tracks on the screen. Inside the CD booklet, is concerning an early stop made at a county fair in Wyoming: carneys, kids, swirly rides and puke. Looking back, noticed I was being followed by a group of ruffian's straight from "Deliverance" and they actually had torches. Standing by the dart game giving us some stink eye. Steve and Eugene are eating cotton candy smiles and happy thoughts of the fair. I call my oblivious mates over and the redneck posse stands and walks toward me instead. Alone, I easily imagined some having pitchforks and made a hasty retreat to the car. (Ken: For those not familiar with Whipping Boy, everyone in the band was huge. They did not tolerate insolence from anyone) College boys able to quantify their reasons for pummeling any transgressor then set it to music.
The first place on the schedule was Detroit at a place called, (Smokey's Crack Den) oh wait, it was Bookies. The group all crashed at a band called The Fix's communal pad. The Fix is legend now. (Ken: The Fix's EP released on Touch And Go was amazing. At the time of release their EP was one of the fastest punk singles out- the impetus of the hardcore Punk movement) Anyway, we arrived at their space all stinky and everybody disappears. Drummer and I want to wash our clothes. I mean we reeked like dairy air. Noticed some kind of communal change dish on the coffee table as we entered the flat. Decided it would be acceptable if we exchanged our bills for quarters from the dish to coin wash our gear. We started laundry and the bass player tossed folded bills in the dish. This incident with the Fix caused a bit of strife in our ranks, nearly got us booted from the tour for a perceived "Punk Violation" we never understood. I wasn't aware of a Punk Rock rulebook. We played Bookies Detroit in supporting Whipping Boy etc. and other another handbill with a band called The Gerbil's. Crowds loved us man, afterwards, our new fans made us sign their shoes. Crowd loved Lucille, our singer. We go down big time as an opener. Lesson, never put on a better show than the headliner. We followed up that show with another gig in Ann Arbor, MI on a flyer with Minor Threat, Whipping Boy, us and some other bullshit. You can find video clips online of both MT and WB from the show but our footage was swallowed by time.
PUNK GLOBE: After Detroit, where did you guys go?
DAVE BURKS: Tried democracy and our band voted on its destiny. Go home and disappear in cloud of obscurity without enough money to return home or travel to the next stop on tour using a cobbled map on a cocktail napkin to the next gig. The A club in L.E.S. in New York City or bust? Fuck you, we're playing! Malnutrition lead to a few bruised egos and few mishaps en route but an enduring friendship emerged from our road trip.
PUNK GLOBE: So you played A-7 in NYC, what was it like? (Note. A-7 Bar corner of East 7th Street and Avenue A in Manhattan's East Village. 1981-1984) Stabbed in the heart of a burgeoning hardcore punk scene in New York City.
DAVE BURKS: Somehow we mounted stage at 3:00 am reenergized. Did I mention said tour was sponsored in part by Malcolm's little white tablets? Nearing a crash and our stash is gettin' low. Yikes! Hung for a few days in a burned out L.E.S. Decided it was time to head home to Cali. Harley, he was our first real fan outside of the South Bay. Infatuated with our singer dreaming of punk life in California. Most men were drawn in and we used it. She looked like Debbie Harry with a reverse Mohawk. So this kid (Flanagan) hitched with us back to California. I agreed. OK, (I knew it would start trouble, the allure intoxicating and I was mad) Running out of stash, the money train was leaving the station without us. Dig? (DB mumbles) We made a mad dash for the right coast and this trip required a hustler on the trail.
PUNK GLOBE: There anything else you'd like to ad to the Hammerslag tour?
DAVE BURKS: In New Jersey we lost a tail pipe on the turnpike. Roared to a station located in an industrialized area on Sunday, had to sleep cold and scared again. A small contingent of Puerto Ricans jumped on the hood and dance fight broke out. Startled awake, somebody screamed like a girl. Again we were blessed and these guys loved us too! They went off into the night to steal car parts, just not for our car. Luckily or unluckily the squadron never returned. One highlight on tour happened in the middle. In Iowa of all places we get a flat tire. Wait hours trying to flag down cars for a ride to town with a tire. No one dared, as we were not dressed for milking cows. One could see it in their eyes as they passed us honking, holding eye contact like looking in a microscope intently focused on a germ. A young sheriff walks up to this menagerie of dyed, spiky haired, leather-clad punks and inquires deadpan, "you boys been swimming?" Back in New York ends the tour. Harley Flanagan hops in the backseat' sans carry-on and we fly interstate highway. Fondest memory? Harley not blinking at what arses we were, the drummer and I. Rolling down the highway we wrapped our heads, faces, torso in toilet paper found under our seat. Gauze, giggles and toilet paper flew as we played mummy to pass a few miles. People passed looking freaked out, after all, people in 1982 did freak-out easily. Never understood why our vocalist was livid over our mummy game. Answer hit me years later after being married a while. Harley got out in San Francisco and left without fanfare. I arrived at Fillmore St. and hit the bricks. I got a taste for spotlights and the road. Time for a new band, where's that Bill Fraenza anyway?
After returning to the South Bay scene how did you find the other members of Executioner?
DAVE BURKS: Hammerslag returned at the end of July. Just finished with Hammerslag, 18 new songs and not about to throw them away. Singer had issues coupled with an, ‘on and off' relationship with our bassist. Starving is not a popular sport with me. It was a transitional period. Drama, drama, Drama it was. I had no more time for shite. At home, Malcolm moved out and Bill Fraenza moved in. (ROT) Reformed with John Norman on vocals and became Executioner from a name we juggled for months previous to this tour. GBH's "State Executioner." Friends with Crucifix (still are) by summer 1982 Sothira had our EXE logo on his sleeve. Like immediately installed. I need mention it was on his arm long before I sang with Executioner. I assisted with the logo design. A bit, I think. So that's doubtful but close. He was supportive and enthusiastic. Phil Means worked at Apple Computers, the real strength as our financial backing in the band. Plus, he was old enough to buy beer. I am not saying he did only he could. Swapped guitars in 1982 the Hammerslag tour. Traded a black American made Fender Lead I, for my metal flake blue Destroyer by Ibanez (very Plasmatics) started jamming and this guitar combo sounded sick! Humbuckers in the destroyer were pretty hot mixing really well with the Fender's single splitting humbucking pick-up from hell. Thing weighed a ton and had tone for days. Dave Brunson another high school classmate got shoved behind the kit but wasn't up to hardcore drumming at all. He was fine for any 4/4 shit but we wanted to compete, that meant being ahead of a perceived curve. Fortunately my neighbor snared a kid in his yard, named Dave Robbins (renamed Boston as per too many Dave's) and donated the bored youth to my evil fiefdom of punk. The Executioner project was nearly complete. Hahaha! (Canned applause)
PUNK GLOBE: Executioner is different visually compared to bands like Los Olvidados, Drunk Injuns, Faction, Mistaken Identity, Ribzy in SJ. You guys chose the fetish wear costumes like Discharge, GBH, Broken Bones, Exploited, English Dogs and, Crucifix had. Was this a conscious effort to look different? Or did you have an affinity toward the bands mentioned?
DAVE BURKS: Well, Kenny, yes it was definitely a calculated move. Bill, John Norman and I would stare at this giant Sounds gate-fold article on "the NEW BANDS" and OI! Records, magazines and shite filched from London. GBH seemed so heavy and its raw sound appealed to our suburban Black Sabbath values. So we decided to look more like that and Crucifix/ Sothira was influential as well. We would buy metal studs for 10 cents a pop at Just Leathers on San Carlos St. San Jose. Studding our jackets while downing stolen ale. Soon we all had great English metal jackets, but did we stand in line and get a photo? No. But, I guarantee we crafted each garment by hand, there was no haberdashery of punk style. Mine was eventually stolen (Jo** No**an), you can see it draped on a Deutsch Mädchen in several 1982 Tool and Die photos. After studding my favorite jacket, I suffered a bit of remorse and didn't make another. They are heavy, shiny wear for crows, like a mirror ball in the garden. In our band they was bad Juju. Attracting hicks and jockstrap chewers to us like ripe garbage does raccoons. The bands wardrobe evolved. Fact is most kids could not afford such gear at the time. So you really did not see a ton of kids in 1982 with leather pants, 12 inch spiked hair and full studded leather jackets, multi belts, etc. Cost prohibitive in the D.I.Y. movement punk was becoming. Some did, like Sean from Grim Reality. I often wonder aloud, "hey, how you get the cash to buy your gear?" Sean would kick you with those tall oxblood Docs, so who knows? Each of these [imitation] "English" bands like Executioner, Grim reality etc, had few members with gear and would loan new guys t-shirts and belts to pad it out...and then turn on the next bro...so who has a consistent look? Jason Honea and I worked the same ideas and models for what we wanted. So the look was common ground usually purchased from identical sources. Luckily I had Bill Fraenza in the band. Honea was mostly solo on appearance, but had it down. Bands like Ribzy, rest of those mentioned did not participate in this English look or Anti war thing. They were about the Pendelton's, sweaters and straight leg vintage Sears stay-press trousers. This is the authentic San Jose look. Something I too eventually and proudly adopted.
PUNK GLOBE: I noticed a macabre shift in the bands delivery and heavier content in 1982, what happened?
DAVE BURKS: Boston and I went to The Ramones show at the Keystone in Palo Alto, CA. Like nearly everyone our age, we were big fans. No tickets as the show sold out pretty quickly, but it didn't stop us trying. After riding the bus so far we weren't giving up easily. Dave noticed the tour bus parked close to the venue and it gave him idea. I don't remember who came up with the plan. So I am giving credit to Dave with this brilliant ruse. We marched to the bus decked in our best and shiniest, pounded on the bus until finally the manager answered. Promptly convinced the tour manager we are writing an article about The Ramones for Maximum Rock & Roll. After a bit of posturing and cursory groveling from a duet of Boston & Burks, Johnny allowed us to hang about the tour bus with the band and ask questions. I think, it helped we told ‘em we were in a band too. I don't believe it mattered to Joey we weren't really taking notes. Dee Dee, sat to the side aloof after establishing Dave, nor I, was the Man. Seemed nary a few moments in duration but was in fact hours later, the band split for a sound check and booted us. They put us on the guest list and we got inside but with our tickets, a note stating band declined an interview. Polite. The show kicked ass and the energy was brutal. The pace of the show was a train speeding up at the station instead of stopping. Mayhap a similar sponsor fueled their tour as their set just ripped past the Ramones' packed and split. Had a profound affect on me as an artist. Forced me to dig deeper at whatever thing was festering inside my own life, let it out on an unsuspecting public. This is where my ideal of a familial kinship among band mates formed. Our band got faster and tighter afterward, lyrics more provocative. It helped being in a mosh pit to write about living in 1982, the 2nd year of Reganomics. The military industrial complex, had assumed power of the Whitehouse the previous election and were planning a coup d'état for the next campaign. Iran miraculously returned American hostages so nationalism was at an all time high. The atom bomb drills of our high school years still fresh in mind. "Stop…drop and cover." Reagan said, "The forward march of freedom and democracy will leave Marxism-Leninism [on] the ash-heap of history." Executioner explored the cost of a cold war in C#...
PUNK GLOBE: How'd you spawn those lyrics, man? (Shakes head incredulously) Most bands from SJ sang about skateboarding, cutting school or getting cokes, etc.
DAVE BURKS: The Newspapers: USA Today, I remember stealing a few. It had color pie graphs and dire illustrations inside. This rag was so much fun when we stole one. The irony of reading it was delicious. News for a short attention span, created for a conservative readership. One day while glancing at the cat box liner before pouring in odor-absorbing sand. I read an article, learned the former C.C.C.P. planned nuclear attack on Silicon Valley and other nationwide locales. Santa Clara was ground zero in a first wave attack. Ground zero located in my city? The Triton museum of Art on Scott Blvd. approximately 100 yards from my house and a childhood playground everyday. Matter of fact, in my youthful aspirations, I hoped to be an artist showing in the main gallery. This inspired our 1983 Hellbound album and Flatlands quotes the papers "BOMBING ON THE TRITON MUSEUM OF ART!" Hardcore bands couldn't relate or comprehend this, how could they? When you have local bands singing, "let's go get those cokes" wearing Vans and faded 501's, riding skateboards writing poppy punk songs. That is the difference, probably what the kids wanted anyway. Punk bands to lighten up, hence a rise in groups like The Faction. They didn't have studs weighing them down. Some family tragedy, a little friendly fire and holiday gun violence' and, Merry Christmas to Dave. Dad couldn't stand the "strain" of family life and left. Mom worked hard buying a crappy house on Fillmore St. Luckily, I went to stay with family in L.A. and met some English kids my age on holiday, got invited to London and damn well did it. Life opened up a lot during summer and soon fall was all about pain. People laugh in their sleeve at the little guy with a Mohawk, but in 1980 reactions varied. One quickly learned to expect a bottle flying at our heads from a passing cars or a muscle head kicking you in the balls and/or Cholo's pulling blades, issuing punches, just typical day of education. This was just at the bus stop for school. Beaten daily, ouch. Cool thing: after beatings, one could look at the debris around my feet and there were enough losers to form a band. We chose "death to dirt heads" as our battle hymn, hating the whole Led Zepplin bellbottom rock circus. Roach clip feather wearing assholes made me hate AC/DC with each dumpster they tossed me inside. The Pistols were lame, dead and old like last year's business. We wanted a faster, heavier scene comparable to metal. Punk, its methamphetamine infused and Jack-booted cousin "OI!" Got a kick in the throat around 1981 with 2nd generation amped up bands like Discharge and G.B.H. (who's song State Executioner we lifted for use as our moniker), Varukers. Studs, studs and more studs, is where any extra money went, leather became armor full time and we seethed art to anyone looking' courtesy of accursed chrome studs piercing the fabric of our American dream. Hairstyles got taller, bum-flaps grew longer, some sported pale skin and gruesome ink transmogrified punk into a lifestyle as it shifted incrementally from shadow to mainstream. Fashion sense was still considered "gay" (believe me, nobody was happy) which lead many bands to a uniform phase. Levi's bleached spotted and rotting, engineer or Doc Martin lace-ups, ripped band Tee's, spiked belts and studded leather jackets. I wore this uniform with pride, until John Norman entered my house on a B&E and snatched my gear under me mother's nose. No conjugal with my jacket one last time before John sold it for the price of a fix. This is the risk of wearing ones gear. Jealously and larceny became the years new theme. Bart stations and San Francisco were wicked cold in winter, many times at 2am missing a last train and had to sleep sitting up against a wall until trains resumed at 5:00 am. I hated it. Home at nine in bed until 3:00, next day an early sound check.
Executioner's sound was akin to Crucifix, Trial, PLH and other peace punk is that accurate?
DAVE BURKS: Yes. That aspect of our band was completely intentional. We stuck with our theme for quite a while (as seen on the 1981-82 flyers), movements are limiting. Punk was splintering into almost religious dissimilar factions. Eventually we decided to go it alone and expand our lyrical content. Who knows if that was a good move? Seems every time we got cozy and getting somewhere, the band changed directions. Like a mime, instead of escaping an imaginary box, climbing inside to look for another box. Fact was, unless we toured (exposure) we were destined to obscurity. We made enough contacts on the previous tour for scheduling gigs. Instead of tenacity and songs we liked and were good at playing, we floundered haplessly, got frustrated and bailed. This behavior was our pattern and could be the reason we never succeeded' and Normal did.
PUNK GLOBE: When did you guys pick up Charles Norman, how did that all go down?
DAVE BURKS: Charles Norman/Normal, our story is not unlike the classic tale of Sisyphus. Fact is Executioner was fine, gigging nicely as a quartet. Guitarist Phil Means played lead and I plucked out rhythms and gargled the microphone. Made a few waves around the bay and were asked to be included on the "Growing Pains" Compilation, ironically, with bands like the Faction. Charles had something to do with Grim Reality and funny thing is: He played drums. I realized later he was a genius' I have no idea where he appeared from, he was just there one day helping us get a demo on the compilation. I think he really wanted to meet us and this was a good way to get involved. Charles is not on Executioner songs from Growing Pain's' he helped us technically with engineering duties. After listening to two-track recordings, we kept talking, discovered, I liked this cat. He was intuitive, flexible. Possessed a Les Paul spine, youthful swagger and an upright gait. Then comes the guitar playing. This many (holds up fingers, mumbles) years later, I am still blown away. Next day, saddled with a decision about direction, kept asking myself, do I keep this band under my thumb or do I get this guy in and risk my leadership role? I asked him to join the band. In retrospect, things accelerated rapidly then evaporated.
PUNK GLOBE: as 1984-1985 arrived and a whole cross over thing happened. Executioner had a pretty big metallic edge already, did you guys fit in with the thrash scene developing? Bands like Metallica, Exodus, DRI, Sacrilege and others getting showcase gigs, right?
DAVE BURKS: Yes. Executioner, our reputation was as a crossover metal band. In 1983, we burned through songs like "Hellbound" and "Pack of Lies." The influence was Motorhead with a dash of Iron Maiden tossed mixed in and reality not my bag. It was the color of dark power to differentiate us from other bands. When you're playing 2 or 3 chords songs, ripping down strokes and tossing off single note solos, you're in a punk band. My role as a guitarist for ROT and Hammerslag was getting stale.
Incessant feedback can only work so long to mask limitation. I wanted to pick up our pace, set a new standard in talent for the next incarnation of a group. Particular about a dress code in our band as my Cholo brethren are about creases in chinos. One had to possess looks, style, punk sense and a modicum of talent to get in my band. Full stop. Cretin of (Social UnRest) said, when Executioner opened our first show on a bill with them, Danny (guitar player) screamed out of the din, "Watch out! These guys are something to worry about. They raised the bar!" and that was flattering. Within a year, Cretin left the band I was asked to fill the vacancy. Repeatedly harangued by Mark, the drummer in Social Unrest. He called so frequently' thought I was being Punked. This guy acted like a stalker. Freaked me out, passed him Jason Honea's name and phone number. (I might require a little introspection concerning my motivations for giving him JH's number) I still regret my decision. But, I digress' never wanted to be in a metal band but liked the speedy stuff. When we played the On Broadway, used to get visits from longhaired dudes in a band called Metallica. They played the stone across the street from us. I remember one saying they, ‘liked it better on our side of the street.'
PUNK GLOBE: If so many bands were fans, how did the kids in the scene perceive you? How about other South Bay bands? There is a huge difference between Executioner and say, The Faction, Mistaken Identity, etc. How did bands and fans react to you guys?
DAVE BURKS: "If?" Hey, thanks for pointing that out. Didn't realize other bands liked us other than a few randomly selected names peppering this interview. I don't know if ALL bands "liked" us. I never got that impression from groups not listed on the handbill. Thought everyone wanted to get closer to Billy's hair and work out what was holding it up. Actually, a few bands didn't like us at ALL or acted indifferent in our presence. We were young, over-confident, insolent and it works against you in the music scene. Why the arrogance? Simply stated, jealousy. Other bands would drool while we played and you can't hide that fact. So what did this make us, a musician's band? Those never make it. People want simple music, I think. Not to be confused by notes and dynamics. When Executioner played. The other bands pulled up chairs and swilled brew watching us intently then chattered like hens amongst themselves between songs. Never saw a stage diver in any of our publicity shot's. Just crowds staring, in a trance, hypnotic state like on a SOMA holiday. Watching the guitarist hoping to steal a riff or two. Missed out on skateboarding stemming from paranoia about getting hurt and not being able to play guitar, I admit, skaters were great to watch. We all met at a Denny's in my neighborhood no matter which clan of punk you joined. Mistaken Identity was great as too The Drab, Living Abortions, Uncle Pasta's Kids and others. I will get shit from not remembering other examples quickly enough. Everybody liked the Growing Pains Tape best and would skate to "Fix Me" off the cassette. Roughed up version with a heavy distorted bass driving the arrangement. Yeah, kids in the scene liked it. Want to understand how I know? If you took the 22/23 or 60 bus lines, the only graffiti besides black flag. Would state "EXE & fix me" with an axe logo. Truth told the Band never carried a marker pen. So, fans for sure. Fix-Me/Hellbound was later voted "Most Requested" song of the year 1983 on KFJC. With the Sex Pistols, God Save the Queen at number two on the stations chart. Our local college radio station for underground music. Somebody liked it.
What happened with the original recordings in 1983?
DAVE BURKS: Truth is, I do not know. Recently looking through old pictures and stuff became obsessed a bit about understanding the demise of Executioner. It was a shaky ending which really didn't resolve the issue. My guess is somebody in the band wanted another vocalist. I imagine, but it's strictly conjecture on my part. Why? (Holding up hands) I don't know it would be another band and a different sound.
Now, I think, I hit it and we created a standard, it must be simple jealousy. The arch nemesis to all music is a quest for genius and our demise. The fact is: kids are fickle. Promises were made which remain unredeemable. All of us had to scrape for a pack of cigarettes. Some are still scraping.
PUNK GLOBE: Did you record new tracks or reinterpret Executioner's older material?
DAVE BURKS: Yes! If I had foresight about studio production and recording sessions back in the day when our tracks were captured. I would have let tape roll and got it all down. We were manipulated into focusing energy on commercial sounding tunes in the set. Leaving roughly 15-20 songs, which didn't make the first round edit. My obsessive nature became compulsive.
Obsessed with finding any and all recordings of my performances. Researched, reviewed tapes and edited from various sources: a practice boom-box, Growing Pains, The On Broadway/ Tool and Die live cassettes provided key tracks and established time signature, basic mixes, as framework for final mix down. Our original arrangements provided the organic angst of 1982 intact. A bi-product of these sessions after almost 30 years hiatus is a bonus track titled, St. James Park. Otherwise, the product is remixed masters and ready for human consumption.
PUNK GLOBE: Band breakup song or record? There's always a project under construction when things reach the apex. What were you guys working on?
DAVE BURKS: Spring 1983, not long after beginning the Sights and Sounds session. I was inexplicably dismissed. "Perp walked" from the band room, I was. My impetuous, dedicated nature in my earlier years was my demise as leader. Sacrificed home, food, smokes, beer, ex-girlfriends, fender & Rickenbacker guitars, even my favorite Vox amp was consumed in the Executioner machine. I was dedicated and believed in us as a group. If I had as much as $20.00, I spent it on us. I gave all to these "Brothers" of mine with few limitations. I'm not bitter' as our story is poetry, frankly, it was art. We were desperate for recognition as artists, remembered by peers as punk/metal artists erstwhile rejecting the corporate rock machine. Secretly dreaming of freedom in commercial success and limo rides to gigs. Nah, the real success, understanding the only way an object burning twice as bright and half as long could end was in fireworks. A side note' members of Executioner figured out it was not working without me. After a few months, I was begged to front the band at a huge house party. Unpaid. I agreed. I admit, believed whatever prior transgressions, got me kicked out had passed. This was my moment to shine, show my salt. Prepared as much as possible for this gig as short notice allowed. I poured out everything, heart, soul and sinew in my performance. Receiving little acknowledgement from the band. I left the now raging party. I was pissed off, disillusioned and perhaps modestly maudlin. Walking home from the party after the set. This was the end of Executioner in my mind.
PUNK GLOBE: San Jose reunion at The Blank Club. Tell us about the show at The Blank Club?
DAVE BURKS: A funny story that one. Until 2004, met Charles Normal on two different occasions for a quick drink in what I assume was a neutral place. He currently collaborates with Frank Black. Charles has worked with some established acts in the business. Normal is a legendary guitarist. I am a regular suburban dad. Bill Fraenza, I attended his wedding and eventually lost meaningful contact. Phil Means, still works for Apple Computer. Dave Boston keeps ahead of an addiction to vinyl on the East Coast, but still dabbles in music. I over heard information about a S.J. punk reunion in 2004 and figured it would be for other bands. Not Executioner. After some email, arm-twisting and a bruised ego or two. Executioner agreed to perform in this punk review. Rehearsal began 2 days before the scheduled gig. Miraculously, we sounded better than memory served. The following excerpt lifted from ZERO MAGAZINE, completely removed from context for general amusement,
Lust For Life: A Reunion of the San Jose Punk Scene 1980 - 1989
The Blank Club
September 17th & 18th
In the late 1970s and 1980s, San Jose had a thriving punk scene that rivaled that of L.A. and Orange County. With bands such as the Unaware, Los Olvidados, Ribzy, Executioner, the Faction, Whipping Boy, Frontline and Grim reality to name a few, the South Bay was an important part of the Western Front. On the weekend of September 17th & 18th, seven of these local legends gathered for a 20th reunion show at the Blank Club, located at ground zero. Coordinated by SideOneDummy Record's honcho and Zero Magazine's own Larry Trujillo, the event bought former SJ punks from as far away as Norway and Germany. Friday featured Ribzy, Executioner and Frontline (Sib's band). All three bands turned in blistering sets but the standout had to have been Executioner who hadn't performed together in two decades. Led by front man Dave Burks and guitarist Normal, the band ripped though numbers as if they had played only yesterday. The sentiment oozed throughout both nights and this was the first time many of these people had seen each other in years and most people seemed to feel that it might be their last time as well. If this turns out to be the case, let it be known that the San Jose Punk Reunion allowed these people the chance to go out with one last big bang
DAVE BURKS: Bang!
PUNK GLOBE: Days in the punk scene were a little intense, (fights, being from The South Bay) what is the scariest gig moment you remember?
DAVE BURKS: Playing parties like: The Hauser's San Jose "Birthday Bloodbath," we played to a mob of methamphetamine fueled bikers, hardcore punks and a huge gang of angry Cholo's simultaneously. Our set was intense and every time we cracked out a fast one like "1984," crowd would jump up in the pit and beat the crap out of each other. Brim hat gangsters swinging canes and getting studded belts in the face for their effort. Eventually, cops came adding a different color to the melee and riot gear to our peaceable skirmish. We scrambled loading gear as Police batons swung about, no joke. Tim Tonooka gave me rare photo prints of Executioner. I left them on top of the car as we fled the scene. I never saw those images again. The last thing I remember seeing from our blood-spattered windshield was a biker swinging a broken bottle at a Cholo's head, as chivato is telegraphing a switchblade in reply.
Any plans for more reunion shows?
DAVE BURKS: No, we are not. Health issues make this idea improbable presently. Dave Boston and I toyed with playing some one off shows on the east coast (where we actually have a fan base now) and we may have our record release party there. I suspect San Jose's punks have early bedtimes now. Ya gotta go where the people want to see you and the Bay Area never really supported us. Last question, Maestro. (Crying baby in the background)
PUNK GLOBE: How did you hook up with Patac Records?
DAVE BURKS: Fate. Luck, perhaps swig of both. Tried every label we could find. I could wallpaper the house with rejection slips. Dave Boston's son, Jack, has a band and gigging with Dan Patac's punk acts. Whenever Dave and I attempted finding labels, Jack would offer up "Patac" in passing. Dave B suggested politely Jack be a little quieter. A year later we were still trying. Lots of feigned interest and a metric ton of excuses piled on the floor. Nobody gets anything done anymore, I swear. Harley Flanagan is one of my oldest friends' he suggested contacting his friend(s) a label and drop name in our inquiry. We did. Got a stern NO for our effort. Dave took one of my emails and forwarded it to Patac. Luck would have it he's fan of Executioner. A huge fan, made it possible for this project to reach its zenith. Tons of work, support driving this newly concerted effort. I cannot recommend this label enough to other bands. Dan Patac is in a single word, inspiration. One lucky moment occurred mustering courage to ask Winston Smith to do our art, covers and merchandise. Winston is a friend of many years and was saddened by the shit storm which done us in. Winston loved our Anti-War stance and contributed generously to our project. Notably, creating a shinny new gun logo. We have no illusions about our place in hardcore history. Typical story as unfortunate as any tragic comedy of youthful idealism gone sour. Executioner broke up on the cusp of breaking out afraid of success. The part we left at the table was our credibility. Heed my words on Hellbound, as topical in modern reality or of the South Bay Hardcore Scene of yore. One drenched by angst over youthful apathy with another useless war, some things never change.
Punk Globe would like to thank Dave Burks for the great interview.....