Saturday, December 6, 2014


Germs annihilated punk rock with the hardcore blitz of saturnine snarl, stomp, and swagger to produce dementia of a higher order.  Jan Paul Beahm (Darby Crash) and Georg Ruthenberg (Pat Smear) started a band after they were expelled from Los Angeles' University High after being involved in their Innovative Program School.  The pair were joined by Teresa Ryan (Lorna Doom) in early 1977 and went through a series of drummers that included  Michelle Baer, Belinda Carlisle (Dottie Danger), Becky Barton (Donna Rhia), and Nickey Beat.  By the time they got around to recording their debut album on Slash Records, the lineup was Darby Crash on lead vocals;  Pat Smear on guitars and backing vocals;  Lorna Doom on bass and backing vocals;  and Jimmy Giorsetti (Don Bolles) on drums and backing vocals.  

Smear reveals:   "[I was] born and raised in L.A., 5 older sisters, started my first band "The Germs" my senior year of high school in 1977...I knew I wanted to play guitar when I was 12 and got Alice Cooper's Love It To Death. Not just because of the playing (especially Michael Bruce's rhythm guitar playing), but also because of that photo on the back of Glen Buxton's white SG custom. Bowie released Ziggy Stardust soon after and had the coolest guitarist ever, Mick Ronson, who's equally great at rhythm and lead.  And then Yes' Fragile came out, featuring Steve Howe, who I think is the best guitarist ever. That opening riff of "Roundabout" was the first thing I learned to play. A couple of years later Queen released their first album that showcased Brian May who instantly became (and still is) my favorite guitarist.   Joan Jett of the Runaways, Steven Huffstetter of the Quick, Brian James of The Damned and Steve Jones of The Sex Pistols were the guitarists who inspired me to actually learn to play well enough to start a band. My parents forced piano lessons on me when I was a kid and it was really easy for me to play by ear so I just did the same thing with the guitar, learning the parts from my favorite albums."

The sessions at Golden Age Recording in Hollywood were produced by Joan Jett with engineer Pat Burnette and mastering by Geza X.  The title '(GI)' is an  acronym of the band's pseudonym  "Germs Incognito" used to get booked in clubs from which they were banned.  The album cover ("Circle One") was designed by Crash:  "Everything works in circles. Sometimes you’re doing something and then like a year later, it seems like you’re doing something else, but you’re back at the same point. It’s really hard to explain’ or ‘You know, like, something you've done maybe eight years ago, but all of a sudden it feels like you're at exactly the same place doing the same thing?...We don’t believe in politics at all.  We’re fascists. We don’t believe in anything that’s existing. Everyone else has tried them, and nothing has ever worked. So either you’ve got to throw it all away and start with something completely new, or keep on going, playing the game, knowing it’s not going to work...I'm not going to save up for my old age because I'm not going to have an old age. If we run out of money, I can always kill myself."

On December 7, 1980, he did just that, overdosing on heroin in the arms of groupie Casey Cola, with whom he had made a suicide pact.  It was one year after the release of '(GI)'.

"Lexicon Devil"

' The Decline of Western Civilization' documentary by Penelope Spheeris reveals the chaos of their live shows.  Often Crash would run around the room taunting the audience and screaming without a microphone.  

full album:

All songs written and composed by Darby Crash and Pat Smear.

Side one
1. "What We Do Is Secret"   0:43
2. "Communist Eyes"   2:15
3. "Land of Treason"   2:09
4. "Richie Dagger's Crime"   1:56
5. "Strange Notes"   1:52
6. "American Leather"   1:11
7. "Lexicon Devil"   1:44
8. "Manimal"   2:11
9. "Our Way"   1:56
10. "We Must Bleed"   3:05
Side two
11. "Media Blitz"   1:29
12. "The Other Newest One"   2:44
13. "Let's Pretend"   2:34
14. "Dragon Lady"   1:39
15. "The Slave"   1:01
16. "Shut Down (Annihilation Man)" (live) 9:40

bonus track
17. "Caught in My Eye" 3:25

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