Selections from The Punk Vault [Corpsicles]

Selections from The Punk Vault [Corpsicles]

Corpsicles – Now You’re Gonna Leave Me/Big Doings 7″ (1982 Arrow Records)

I honestly can’t recall where I first heard of this band. I think I saw the name on someone’s trade or want list a bunch of years ago and thought it was a cool name for a band and wanted to check them out if I could ever come across their records. I eventually did, all two of them. The band only put out one 7″ and one LP before disbanding and few people have probably heard their records. It was the really the fact that they were bootlegged on one of the Killed By Death compilations that a crop of record collectors base their collecting habits off, which got some people to take notice.

When I pulled this single out of The Vault to feature it, I knew it was going to be a very short writeup as aside from knowing they released two records and were from New York, I knew nothing else about them. I never saw an interview in a fanzine with them and I don’t remember if I even read a record review of either of their records. Luckily my posting a list of former band members I was looking for led their drummer, Mike, to contact me and he was more than willing to share the Corpsicles story with me to share with the visitors of this site. This is a long one so grab a cup of coffee and have at it. Here’s the story from Mike…

Well I’m not really the person to give the best history of how the Corpsicles got started, since in effect I wasn’t the original drummer of the band. There was a guy who they played with before me but he never made it out of the rehearsal studio from what I understand.

The band was started by Phil “Freeze” Falcone and his cousin Luke “WARM” Palladino sometime around 1977 maybe even as far back as 1976. They lived around the corner from each other in Brooklyn and they were inseparable. Phil wrote and sang all the songs and played guitar, Luke played bass and sang a few verses (he is the guy singing on the second verse of “Big Doings”). He is also the creator of the pissed tombstone popsicle logo we used. I answered an ad in the Voice (maybe it was the Aquarian) looking for a drummer influenced by the Ramones and the New York Dolls. I had worked with the Ramones on occasion and had been playing in early punk scene bands like Wade Barker (hardly punk but Punk was so undefined at the time).

We talked for a few hours that first phone conversation and that seemed to be an omen that we would make a good fit. Phil most definitely had the gift for gab, always had. He could make friends and talk for hours with anyone! Even a dead guy!

Well we got together that first rehearsal sometime around 1978 (maybe late 1977) and you could hardly tell anyone was a punk at all! I had hair down to my ass, Phill had long hair and Luke had what could be best described as an afro! We came to realize that we were all really Sabbath heads looking for a way to get out all the anger in us! We even played some Sabbath that first night if I remember correctly, not your typical punk warm up repertoire if you ask me…We played about 4 or 5 Ramones tunes just to get warmed up and then started right onto the songs. The first Corpsicle song I ever played as a Corpsicle was “Now Your Gonna Leave Me”. They had pretty much invited me to be their drummer before the rehearsal was done.

As I remember it, we didn’t even bother to go over any song twice that night, just played the next one without any discussion of how the song went or what was expected of me to play. It was at least two months, two gigs and one recording session later before I even could put the name of the song to the song we were about to play! Such is the way of being in a punk band I suppose! That’s the way it was back then!

We did our first show at CBGB’s largely because I worked there and had the ins to get us in. It was a miserable show from what all my friends there would say and they wouldn’t have said that if it wasn’t true! Truth was I had a set list that could have been a Chinese menu for all I knew. I was in the band for roughly two weeks when we did the show! I could see the names of the songs but had no clue as to which song I was about to play! It amounted to a bunch of noise in the end.

At the time there were really only two ďpunkĒ clubs to play in the city that would book a punk band. Max’s Kansas City and CBGB’s. The hardcore punk scene was really just in its infancy at the time and none of the little hole in the wall places had opened up yet. Mudd Club was more of an after hours place at the time and it was impossible to get in there unless you were well known by the regulars there. Punk was giving way to New Wave and Power Pop as early as 1978 and it was getting increasingly difficult for Punk bands, even old wave punk bands like us, to get any bookings in NYC. And being a three piece was sort of frowned on back then for some reason. Everyone wanted you to have a front man for some dumb reason. I think the reason the band lasted as long as it did was because there were only three of us and we became very close because of it.

We basically played in the three clubs there were at the time, Max’s, CB’s and a place in Brooklyn called Zappas. Zappas was kind of a mish mosh of styles as one day there would be a metal band (Pete Steele was the big act at the time there I forget the name of the band at the time it was just before Carnivore and WAY before Typo), the next a pop band and then the next day a punk band. Mitch Karduna was a friend of mine that I met with my work with the Ramones and he took pity on me and gave us gigs! God bless you Mitch wherever you are! I would have to say most of our shows were played in Zappas. Mitch even let us headline a show there and our opening act was none other than Cyndi Lauper! Named Blue something I forget… We did two shows at Max’s if I remember correctly before it died and went to punk heaven. I used to hang there regularly before I started working at CBGB’s and I must say of all the places I miss Max’s is the place I miss the most!

We actually went on a tour once to Boston where we played two clubs whose names I can’t for the life of me remember. Oh wait one was a place called the Channel. I think it was where the Cars made their start but I’m not sure. It was much better than the average club we had been playing at, much larger nice paint job. We played some other small club there whose name I most definitely can’t remember… maybe something like Pastels or something poppy like that. All I do remember is I practically got pneumonia packing the car as it was the dead of winter and it was freezing and I was dripping in sweat cause they wanted us out of there! I also remember we did the show mostly on mescaline which probably has a lot to do with why I can’t remember the name of the place to save my life!

The trip was fun, the only downside was Philís incessant need to fart in a car with closed windows (because it was cold). Phil had this mad evil laugh that you can hear in the song “Confusion” off the album. Every time he would cut one loose you would get the Devil’s Laugh out of him!

The only other thing I remember from that tour was the fact that we didn’t have a room to stay at on one occasion and wound up staying at some girl’s house we met at the show that took a liking to Luke. We didn’t ever tour after that I think simply because it cost us more to do than we made! And who was going to give some band they never heard of a guarantee to cover their costs? The funniest moment of the tour was me and Luke looking at each other trying to figure out why some woman asked us if we wanted a “bear” and what we would do with a “bear” if she were to give one to us. We at first thought it was the stuffed variety they were giving away as some sort of promotion and not the draft kind she was offering. It took us a good 5 minutes to figure out what she meant and the confused look on our faces was only surpassed by the curious look she was giving us for not understanding what she said!

Our biggest show was one at CBGB’s opening for Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers reunion. Everyone was there including Walter Lure, Jerry Nolan and even Killer Kane! They used all of our equipment and I still have the kit Jerry Nolan played on in storage. Lots of famous drummers played on that kit thanks to my working for CBGB’s as anytime they needed a drum kit they asked me! This show with The Heartbreakers was probably our proudest moment since they were a major inspiration of what we did. Whenever anyone described us they used to always say a cross between The Heartbreakers and the Ramones which we took as very much a compliment. We got some write ups for that show and it was one of our best played shows I can remember. It went a long way to erasing the past “just a bunch of noise” remarks my friends had given me from the first show and started people thinking that maybe we weren’t as bad as they first thought. Fat lot of good it was by then as the punk scene was really on the way out due to the power pop and new wave genre that had taken over the club scene. Unless you wore orange sherbet colored pants and sang happy tunes about your girlfriend you were not going to get many gigs in the city, and Phil being slightly overweight and not what you call a babe magnet was never going to get to a place where he could write such material! Listen to the songs and you can pretty much tell what Philís love life was like! Luke was the babe magnet and I pretty much had one girlfriend the entire life of the band until late in the end of it’s history.

Shows were getting few and far between, Max’s had closed down, CB’s was merely a tourist attraction at that point. Nothing scene related was going on there as metal had taken over as far as a scene is concerned, and that was played out across the street at Great Gildersleeves. The only punk that could be found were shows put together by a tight knit hardcore crowd that would have 6 or 7 of usually the same hardcore bands playing Sunday afternoons at CBGB’s. We were not entirely accepted by the hardcore crowd as we were really an old wave punk band. The harmonies we were known for also had a lot to do with that I’m guessing, and so we rarely ever played any of those shows and those were just about the only punk shows you could find. We had been playing in many of the same places these bands played and became fast friends with few bands like Ultra Violence. We would do some shows with them at a place called A7 which was nothing more than an apartment with two Fresnel lights, a PA system, a bar and drug dealers. It was originally located on Avenue A and 7th street but eventually moved to Second Avenue and 1st street in what I think is currently the building the Guardian Angels now call headquarters but I could be mistaken. We usually went on at 4AM when no one was around, I remember this because I would go there after work at CBGB’s to do the show! Many times the staff outnumbered the patrons!

We even played an abandoned building that had a collapsed floor, no windows, and you needed a ladder to get into it because of all the rubble of the collapsed floor was below and there was nowhere to set up. It literally looked like the pictures you see of the buildings after the London Blitzí of WWII! That’s what it was like back in the days of punk, you would play anywhere, the opening of a clam shell, anyplace you could plug in and use as the club scene was really that limited. Getting gigs at places like the Mudd Club required payoffs and politics which we were never very good at, why should we be, we were punks!

We did one radio interview that I can remember in Jersey but I can’t remember the station it was for, most definitely a college station. It was fun and we mostly just played all the bands we listened to. Like the Cramps, Ramones, the Clash, and the Buzzcocks. Of course we also played plenty of the Dolls and Heartbreakers we could find. We were playing a show somewhere that week and tried to give away tickets to it on the radio show but if I remember correctly no one bothered to call in. I think we also got the DJ who had us on in trouble because we were not exactly what you call FCC compliant in our language and subject matter. Iím sure mescaline came up at least 4 or 5 times as Phil loved the stuff when we were not playing music.

There was one local Fanzine that did two articles on us where they were the first one to describe us as the cross between the Heartbreakers and the Ramones. This actually went a long way to getting us the opening gig with the Heartbreakers, as the girl who was then booking the acts read the article and finally started to understand what we were about. Phil wound up dating the girl who wrote the article but as with everything in Philís love life it didn’t last. Can’t remember the name of the zine it’s all so long ago.

The Recordings:

The Single that KBD9 has made something of a collectors item was recorded less than a month after I was in the band. By then I at least knew the song we were recording and had learned it enough to start singing backgrounds on the tunes. Actually I think we first did the backgrounds on the recording and I just started doing them live as well. My contributions to the songs and the style was minimal, if any, aside from the harmonies that became our signature at the time. No punk bands in the city were actually singing in their songs, mostly bad singing (which we had too) and shouting. Hardcore with harmonies became our mantra!

We recorded 3 songs, “Now your gonna leave me”, “Big Doings” and “Corpsicles”. “Corpsicles” was never released until we re-recorded it for the album. It was never going to be more than a demo tape and was mixed accordingly. Eventually it was decided that to get noticed you had to appear to have your own shit together or have a record deal. Sire Records had already been sold off to Warner Bros, Stiff Records was nothing much more than a good T=shirt ad at the time (If it ain’t Stiff it Ain’t worth a fuck!). So there was really very little prospect of being signed by anyone. No one was snapping up punk acts the way they used to so we decided it might be better to just release these songs as an independent and it might help us get more gigs if they saw we already had a record out. We remixed the songs to be more suitable for a record pressing and even went to Sterling Sound to have it mastered. We decided to make “NYGLM” the “A” side because thatís what everyone was looking for at the time, power pop. Funny how the “B” Side always seems to be what gets the band noticed as “Big Doings” is the “B” Side of the single. Only 1000 copies were made to my knowledge and most of those I am guessing were given away instead of sold. I don’t think we ever re-released them when we ran out deciding instead to just use the money on the album which we figured would get us an even better shot at a gig at the time. Luke did all the artwork for the band. It made it into a few club jukeboxes most notably CBGBís. The picture on the back was taken at Systems Two recording where we rehearsed and recorded it. Audie the engineer took the picture and I feel bad I can’t at the moment remember his last name but for anyone who likes the band you should know that he was for all intents and purposes the fourth member of the band! He mixed and was the lead engineer on every recording ever made and even contributed to what we did on the songs.

I really must apologize to all these people whose last names I can’t remember but you have to understand we RARELY ever called anyone by their REAL name back then. Phil used to call everyone “Floyd” just because he liked the name and if he didn’t call you Floyd (as in conversations where you really had to know who he was talking about in reference) there was always some other name he would use such a
“Audible” for Audie. Hard to remember names you never used so my apologies to all those whose name I can’t remember. It’s a long time ago and 20 years and two bands later the names tend to get lost.

The Album was created simply because we were not getting any gigs of importance and largely due to boredom! The main mixer at CBGB’s at the time, Tony, asked if he could produce the record and we said ok. In retrospect I feel bad now that we did, not because Tony did a bad job, in fact I think he did a great job, but I do think Audie, who as I have described before as the 4th Corpsicle, took it personally having to share the mixing duties with him. From the album you can tell that we had started to try and tailor our songs to be a bit more palatable to the hardcore crowd as songs like “Scene” and “Sex With You” will attest to. I personally think the Album shows a lot more of what we were about musically. And “Confusion” probably was our best song Phil ever wrote that we did.

A lot more time was spent on these recordings than I would guess was spent on the average punk recording, thanks to the fact that Audie rarely ever charged us for the full time we used. We would binge on coke and work until the light came out much the way we did when we rehearsed.

I’m a little hazy on how many copies of the Album we had printed. I believe it was only 1000 copies but it may have been 2000, again more copies were probably given away than were sold. Bleeker Bobs and a few of the 2nd avenue stores took 4 or 5 copies on consignment but there was never any major distribution of our records other than Phil going in and gabbing to the owner and convincing him to take a few copies and try to sell them. And I canít remember any store calling us and saying we ran out come bring us more. The punk scene was pretty much gone by that time, metal and the hair bands was in full force, the Misfits had broken up and they were the kings of whatever NYC Punk scene remained at the time! They were pretty much the only punk event you could find.

The End:

As time went on and no gigs in sight, Corpsicles was relegated back to a band who rehearsed for a gig that was never going to happen. Zappa’s had closed, CB’s was it and it was not really a place that anyone went to unless there was a band there they wanted to see. Bands who were way beyond playing a place like CBs but merely played there because of it’s history. Since we never ever truly had a following that was more than Phil’s sister and a few of her friends plus the few friends we had made that were in other bands and likely would get comped into the club anyway. We really did nothing but rehearse and hang out as we always did. Even the rehearsals had turned into 30 minutes of set (which was all it took when you had songs that were not much longer than “Sex With You”) and 3 hours of paper baseball in the studio lobby!

By then Systems Two had even closed down and we were rehearsing in a place that is still there to this day although has had many name changes since then. (On 1860 Flatbush Ave in Brooklyn. It’s now run by a friend of mine named Mike) I even LIVED there for awhile as I moved in with the girl who ran the studio and lived there! This was where the band fell apart and I must admit I am the villain here in the demise of the Corpsicles.

At the time metal was starting to be big business, and I would say 90% of the bands rehearsing there were metal bands. As I was living there I became friends with just about all of them but one band in particular that seemed to me to have something that might take them somewhere. They were mostly doing cover tunes of bands I had been listening to at the time (there were no more good punk band records to buy anymore) they kicked out their singer one day and somehow or other they asked me to sing for them during a rehearsal. They asked me to join but never being one to want to play in a cover band I said only if you stick to the original stuff and get away from the covers. I sang with them and played drums for the Corpsicles for about another 6 months before I finally said to Phil that we were going nowhere and I was going to leave to become a singer. I needed to play for someone other than myself as selfish as that may be, but at the time music and playing it for a living was all I really wanted to do with my life. I was always willing to jam, record and do a show with them. I was even willing to continue rehearsing with them until they found a replacement. And I would have stayed a member but I just needed to know that something aside from just rehearsing was in the cards. They never took me up on my offer to keep rehearsing and Iím sure they were hurt by my decision but I was 26 at the time and at that stage where I needed to know my life was going to constructive as opposed to repetitive and stagnant.

I had heard from Phil on rare occasions since then trying to get the band back together. And my life had become so busy with the success of my metal career (Von Helsing) and job as a video engineer for Financial News Network that I declined. I told him I would play a gig if he booked one and rehearse for it as much as they wanted but he never did book one and eventually I had been in front of a mic and off a kit for so long that I wasn’t really sure I could even play them anymore. Eventually I lost touch with Phil and hadn’t heard from him again, this was in the late 90’s

Last time I saw Phil and Luke was at the Sex Pistols reunion show at the Roseland Ballroom in NYC about 5 or 6 years ago I think. I gave them my number but they never called. I guess they had moved on as well. Phil had been married and divorced. Luke I believe married the same girl he was dating way back during the bands heyday. To my knowledge they never did bother to find another drummer despite the fact I though I was easily replaceable. I do miss them and the great times we had together but I suppose everything must come to an end.

I’m surprised and flattered that the band seems to have been re-discovered after all these years. Hard to fathom how something you did 20 years ago and gave up on could turn into a success. I’m just glad someone finds the music entertaining which is all we were trying to do in the first place.

If you or anyone else ever gets in touch with Phil or Luke please let them know I have been thinking about them and miss them. And I wouldn’t mind jamming with them again, never was opposed to it. I am pretty much out of the music business now and design and install Television Studios for Networks with companies like Time Warner.

If there is anything anyone else needs to know about the Corpsicles I’m glad to oblige. Hopefully Phil will get wind of how his baby has taken off. He really deserves all of the credit for what the Corpsicles is and was. It all sprouted from his warped mind and if anyone has a box full of records that have been untouched it would be him. I tend to doubt that any exist but I wouldn’t be surprised to find that one box of the album is hidden in his parents garage!

Thanks a lot Mike for the great information. Now I finally know a lot more about the band thanks to you.

Listen to “Big Doings” from the record (right click and “save target as…”)

Mike also added a little bit of Corpsicles trivia…

A round the label on I believe on the single (maybe both) is a date.I think it’s actually part of the serial number ARO001-715 or something similar.

It is a holiday known as St Swithens Day.

We always celebrated St Swithens Day for no other reason than the fact we never heard of it and it was always in the log book the rehearsal studio (Systems Two) used to book the studio. Audie was the guy who took note of it originally. The pictures taken for the back of the album were also taken on St Swithens day. Shows you how warped we were to have little quirks like that! We had no idea who St Swithen was nor what the significance of his day is. It’s another one of those things like calling everyone Floyd that we included into our rituals!

The SPCK is a reference to spring creek where we took a lot of pictures we used.

And I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to say that at the time:

Phil worked in a Dime Savings Bank
Luke Delivered rented Tuxedos for Zellers
And I worked at CBGB’s first as a bouncer and then as the guy who would collect the money at the door.






14 comments

  • Someone apparently turned the Radar off when the band was alive! LOL

    It was a case of being too late to be noticed in the original wave and too old wave to be noticed in the NEW wave is really what the problem was!

    Timing is everything in the Music Business! And what is not timing is exposure which was hard to get in the scene at the time we were around!

  • Something I forgot to mention and I don’t know how I forgot…

    Corpsicles actually was on Live with Regis once…It was before Kathy Lee when Cyndi Garvey was the co-host.
    It was a show on Slam Dancing…we wound up slamming Regis into a $150,000 camera that day!

    I had completely forgot about that!

  • This is for Mike Leary……..its Mary Spanky La Fleur NOT the girl you moved in the studio with and Mike if your not reading this if anyone else knows how to get ahold of him please give him my email addy would love to catch up

  • I remember you guys rehearsing at Systems Two…
    I think we rehearsed the hour after you guys…
    The Boyscouts ?

  • Hey Nauseous…

    I tend to doubt you rehearsed AFTER us as we usually came in around 11 and stayed until closing…

    But we were always hanging out there even when we were not rehearsing as our schedule was certainly not tied up in gigs! LOL

    We used to hang with Audie and Mike sometimes and went next door to the 24 hour newstand to play video games most of the time…

  • Very cool post! Have only heard this song from some of the kbd comps but have wondered how the A side was.. is it as good?

  • My mom says she has always been your official number 1 fan hi From Phil’s sister and nephew/godson! HI!

  • Hey, this is Pete. Luke Palladino is my uncle. He still plays bass and alot of guitar, recently starting me off with playing guitar, but I believe that his cousin, Phil, has moved cross-country. Nice to see people are still fans! =)

  • I see it’s been a long time since anyone’s submitted a note regarding this article, but I actually worked with Phil Falcone at the Dime Savings Bank in Brooklyn. And yes, when I first started working with him, he called me FLOYD all the time! I was just thinking about him and tried finding him – that’s how I came across this article. Great account of the band’s history, Mike! I remember a bit of it from teh stories Phil would tell.

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