Selections from The Punk Vault [Mighty Sphincter]

Mighty Sphincter – In the Kingdom of Heaven 12″ EP (1987 Placebo Records)

Is it any surprise that after the last two selections that I’d follow it up with this band?

Mighty Sphincter are, in my eyes, one of the most under-appreciated bands to come out of the Phoenix sands. Formed in 1981 by Greg Hynes (Teds) and Doug Clark (The Brainz), they’d release a handful of records, none of which would sound like the one that came before it, but all of which were quite good. The band’s releases all have the distinction of practically having no to singers the same!

Their first singer was a man named Ron Reckless who dressed up like Satan in drag. He had a penchant for consuming large quantities of narcotics and that would be his undoing. This fellow was the singer on their first single, Heathouse. They eventually kicked him out, then told stories about how he died. These stories were told in the advertisements for their records. Before ousting him, they recorded an EP with him that became half of the Ghost Walking album. Guitarist/songwriter Doug Clark (or Dominic Royale as he sometimes referred to himself as) would take over the vocal duties for the second side of Ghost Walking and also sing on most of their first “real” full-length titled The New Manson Family. Ghost Walking was billed as a double EP because the plan was to actually have released those as their own records.

The album had the distinction of being “produced by Alice Cooper”. It was Sphincter most angry sounding album but it con a few real gems. This would also mark the end of the sheer demented sound of the band as they were evolving into a more serious act by this point.

This leads us to this record. In the ads they were running, they made up a story that said that Doug Clark had died of AIDS and now they had a new singer! Bill Yanok would be the singer on this one and musically the band was going in a more gothic direction. Bill sang 4 of the 6 songs on here, with Greg Hynes singing the other two (the featured track being one of them). After this record, the band played a handful of shows and then called it quits for a bit. Bill ended up starting a new band but I can’t recall the name, nor have I heard them. This was easily my favorite Sphincter record and I still listen to it all the time.

They resurrected in the early 90s and put out a self-released 7″ and then vanished again until a few years ago when they’d reform yet again and self-release a CD titled The Holy Unholy. These days they kept the goth feel but mixed it with a more metal like sound that is really quite good. Greg handles all the vocals now for the most part, with Doug handing them here and there. They are still at it as I type this and I believe are planning a new recording soon.

There is a somewhat dated small interview with Greg Hynes on the Spontaneous Combustion site and you can check it out here.

As always if you have any information or were in the band, please get in touch.

Listen to “Secret Ceremony” from the record






23 comments

  • Hey i played with doug in new orleans after the sphincter where the fuck is he our band was called voodoo parade we never recorded with him though what a shame!!I am currentley in a new orleans based band called stephie and the Whitesox hope you are ok doug john

  • I live here in Phx. and I’ve seen the Sphincies a few times. Wonderful band, witty and halarious. Loads of fun to see live. I think they are more popular now then they ever were in the 80’s when I used to see them.

  • To whom it may concern: My name is Lucien. I recorded two albums with Doug Clark in the mid and late 90s. I have been a progressive metal musician all my life(yeah, I know big fucking deal). Anyway, I encouraged Doug to beef it up a little and the end result was far superior to his previous recordings. I also have some video footage from the studio. I may release a C.D./D.V.D.. I could send you photos if you let me know where. Avec sincerite…L

  • who the hell did the song ‘going to a fag bar’??? nobody believes me it was a real song?!?!

  • I agree with Joe Albanese, he was a member of the band longer than Ron Reckless and definately contributed to the overall sound of the band (and is still performing in the Seattle-based underground circus group Curcus Contraption). In addition, a chaotic biography of the band can be found (in the band’s own voices) at http://www.atakra.com/mightysphincter.htm And finally the bulk of that tribute page is also now available on wikipedia. I feel a wee bit insulted that my tribute page was not mentioned in this listing since I’ve been working with the band for over a decade in order to capture a complete profile of the incredibly influential music genre that they pretty much were essential in creating along with acts like Wall of Voodoo, 45 Grave, and the Screamers.

  • could you please define more exactly — was it Bill Yanok singing for”in the kingdom of heaven”? or what?

  • The band Bill Yanok sang in post-Mighty Sphincter was Tweny-Four Hour World. Sphincter cut their last record (Holy Unholy)here at Livinghead with Doug Clark playing guitar and Greg Hynes singing lead. At a studo party, they played a stupendous live set that had each member of the band driven by Hearst and delivered in coffins by pal-bearers to the stage! There was also a naked woman with a medusa mask jumping all over, dry-humping the band. She knocked over a fog machine and fell from the stage. good times.

    Oh, and Holy Unholy is an classic album that freaks out everybody I’ve played it for.

  • Ron Reckless kills 86 year old woman in hit & run.
    http://www.examiner.com Look up -Ronald Grotjan arrested- In a nut shell, Ron was drugged-out, ran a red light, killed an old woman, tried to get away repeatedly. The denouement to a long list of low class scum-bag stories. Here’s to Ron detoxing in his own filth, tent city Phoenix jail system.

  • Thats BS cATHY.I know Ron and Robin well and Ron had a stroke. Thats why he wrecked. You should not write such cruel shit bout someone you dont even know.

    • JJ — nope, no stroke he’s fine. Look for my band coming soon the Very Idea of Fucking Grotjan — BTW — I’ve known Ron thirty years — call him Bongo, he really loves it (it’s his old hippie name)

      • No, hes not fine. He’s actually very ill. Wherever you’re getting your information from is incorrect.

  • On 5/2/2012, Ron Reckless was found guilty of Negligent Homicide & Endangerment. Ronald Denton Grotjan is his real name. His official case number is CR2009-145880-001. I was at the trial. No mention of a stroke causing his running a red light and constant attempts to escape the crash. An 83 year old woman died, not much is ever mentioned about that. Then there is the big punchline to the longest joke in Phoenix Punk history = Ron’s wife, Robin Grotjan never had anything to do with Phoenix Punk. Just a sociopath using other persons stories as her own.

  • Friday, the 13th of 2012. Ron Reckless sentenced to 6 years for Negligent Homicide and 2.25 years for Endangerment, to be served consecutively. Easy to call the PHX Superior Court and hear for yourself. Case # CR2009-145880-001. 602 506 8575.

  • Well I feel bad for Ron. I don’t know ALL the circumstances but I read all the transcripts that were public. Last one says the sheriff’s office was to “bring him to Court in his wheel chair for sentencing”. He is 61 yrs. Old now? Sad deal all the way around. Not by any means discounting who died when their paths crossed. A friend. Of mine passed a few years ago and his local band was “O.N.S.” (Our Neighbors Suck) RIP Vince! You were one of a kind.

  • Ron Grotjan DID indeed have a stroke while driving! Unreal! Do you believe you read? Ron was not even charged with a D.U.I./D.W.I.!!! Ron has never hurt anyone! He unfortunately had a stroke while driving at 8:30 a.m. followed by Grand mal seizures. Arthur was NOT at the trial except for 20 minutes. Get the FACTS STRAIGHT. Speaking of you James, Ron took you to AA & got you STRAIGHT 30 years ago! What does any of this have to do with the Phoenix Punk scene? I’m talking to Sonja (No Discussion) who by the way has known Ron for THIRTY FIVE YEARS & she says, ” regardless of how simple minded people choose to view this case, the fact is, the toxicology report, which Ron’s first lawyer forwarded to me, proved that Ron Grotjan was NOT under the influence at the time of the accident, furthermore, had he been, they would have charged him with that, strengthening their case… In conclusion, whatever ill feelings people have for each other, for whatever reason, has NOTHING TO DO WITH THIS CASE!!!!!” If y’all don’t like Ron & Robin… that is YOUR problem.” All sympathies to the lady that later passed away, that is TRULY heart wrencing, however, criminal behavior or negligence were NOT a part of this according to the FACTS.”- Sonja Zelada
    This was an accident precipitated by a medical emergency.
    Ron always helped people during the “punk” days in Phoenix! He put up bands, people, helped rape victims, homeless, abused kids, anybody!
    No good deed goes unpunished, esp. in Phoenix.

  • Punk Rock used to be about fighting the system, not accepting the status quot. What the hell happened to that?

  • I went to NA with Ron once or twice when HE was trying to clean up — he was worried about being an old drug addict washed up and out … ironic how it all works out … Ron the caregiver to the world now sits in prison for being a dipshit. Robin you hooked your self a winner. I remember that Doug C. went also at least once … and what system did you and Ron fight? The Welfare system and CPS?

    I did clean up myself 18 mos. later but Ron was hanging out with underage girls at teenage hangouts …

  • MIGHTY SPHINCTER released a 7″ called ‘Resurrection’ in 2010 on A389 Records.
    Two older songs redone with The Count on vocals and contributions from Dwid Hellion of INTEGRITY.

    The Count is also working on a solo album called CHAPELLE DES MORTS which is incredible.

    Anyone know how to contact Bil Yanok? KOH is my fave MS album and I love 24 HR WORLD too.

    MS rules!!!
    RIP Joe Albanese.

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