Selections from The Punk Vault [The Defoliants]

The Defoliants – Hang Ten 7″ (1987 Pravda Records)

I remember seeing The Defoliants name on plenty of flyers around the city, they would be one of the opening bands for various shows in town. I finally got to see them when they opened up for Naked Raygun sometime around 1987. I forget where, but I am pretty sure it was at the Riviera. I thought they were very entertaining and it was soon after that I picked up their 7″, which had just come out and was their only record at the time.

Sadly, many years ago, in what I like to refer to as “the great depression” I wasn’t working for a long time, was broke, and ended up selling a bunch of records to make some much needed money. It stands as the biggest mistake of my life and it took me a long time to replace all those records a few years later, and a couple I still haven’t been able to replace (The Misfits – Bullet 7″ on black vinyl being the biggest culprit). This Defoliants 7″ was something I always wanted to replace, and then had trouble finding again. It wasn’t that the record is super rare, I passed up a few here and there, mostly because they were being pimped by scumbags like Zeroboys78 on ebay, who I wouldn’t buy a record from just on principle.

Well, finally, thanks to my pal Greg Dunlap who located a copy for me, I am happy to report the record is back in The Punk Vault, and I am happy to have replaced it. Greg also happened to know someone who played in the band, a gentleman by the name of Rob Warmowski, who was kind enough to share The Defoliants history that he put together.

The Defoliants
“Not unlike Agent Orange crashing headlong into Naked Raygun” – MRR, 4/85

A trio formed in Chicago in 1984 by Mather high school chums Rob Warmowski (bass, vocals) and Jeff “BBQ” Cohn (drums), adding Chuck Uchida on guitar soon after. The Defoliants were influenced by hardcore punk, surf/garage music and pop culture. We were known for a strong live show and a nerdy sense of humor, belting out a speedy hybrid of alien punk-pop mated with surfy instrumentals. Appearing often with Chicago punk mainstays such as Naked Raygun and The Effigies, our songs and sound struck a (reverby) chord with disaffected loners, rock and roll essentialists, hardcore kids and others found in the under attended 1980s Chicago punk scene. Our finest moment may have been opening for Fugazi’s Chicago debut at Club Dreamerz.

We released one cassette, one 7″(“Hang Ten”, Pravda, 1988) and one LP (“Grrr”, 1989 Angry Fish) in five years together, making possibly 40 songs.

We appeared on a WNUR Northwestern University radio compilation. We recorded an LP with the legendary Iain Burgess (Black Box Studios) engineering. It was released by West Berlin record label Angry Fish.

We wrote a TV commercial soundtrack for a Schwinn BMX bicycle. We had a song in one movie “The Borrower” starring Rae Dawn Chong. We started recording a second LP in Chicago with Burgess in 1989. That year, we toured the toilets of Europe. We broke up in 1990 without completing the second LP.

Rob is now recording as the San Andreas Fault www.thesanandreasfault.com
Chuck Uchida is now in a group called The Sonnets. Jeff was in The Crown Royals (Estrus).

Defoliants Discography

Cassette: “NOW How Much Would You Pay For It?”
Recorded at SotoSound Studios – 2 track live, Evanston, IL 1985

Bad Day At The Beach
I Wish You Were Fiction
Cold Start 64738
Came/Saw/Conquered
Don’t Eat The Dieffenbacchia
Rectal Inferno
Code White
Can’t Lose
Speed Racer
Final Notice Prior To Disconnection
Wild, Wild World of Animals
Up Against The Mall
(and others, sorry I’m blanking)

Hang Ten 7″ EP
Pravda, 1987
Recorded 8-track at Head Studios, Chicago 1986

Mass
Whitecap
The Guy Who Got Mad
Mr. Spy

Grrr LP
Angry Fish, 1989 (Germany)
Recorded 1988 24-track at Chicago Recording Company w/Iain Burgess

Bad Day At The Beach
Steakhouse
I Wish You Were Fiction
West Bank
Quinn Martin
Speed Racer
Safety Town
Rooked
Wild, Wild World Of Animals
The Guy Who Got Mad
Jack The Ripper
Rectal Inferno
Lake Effect

Hog Butcher To The World
(Mad Queen / WNUR LP) 1988?

The End

Thanks Rob for the great info, and thanks Greg for your aid in replacing something in The Vault that was sorely missed.

Listen to “Mr. Spy” from the record






16 comments

  • If you do a google on “Defoliants GRRR” you will find various overseas places selling it, I bought one at the same time I got the singles from http://www.hippiehshakerecords.com but they seem to be out.

    The Defos were definitely one of the hottest live bands in the city. They cranked the rock but good, and they introduced a generation of young punk rockers to the glorious sounds of 50s and 60s surf music.

  • This is a great single. I got it for $1 from Ebay and it was in great shape. I just picked up the LP, too, from some store over in Germany.

  • I became friends with Rob when Greg Dunlap and I had a nascent fanzine called THIS at NIU… I had seen the defoliants a bunch of times when I was a senior in high school- they were blazing and entertaining as all shit. This single is still a cherished item in my home and studio- I regret that my cassette copy of both the first stuff and a later instrumental dub of the never released MENTHOL were both casualties of a flood. I always thought the artwork on this single kicked ass.

  • Mmm… That Fugazi show was amazing. I’d forgotten all about the Defos opening it up. Club Dreamerz was a rad venue, and this was the biggest crowd I’d ever seen in there. A week later, I saw Uniform Choice at Dreamerz, and it was practically empty in comparison.

    Chuck Uchida has been a major fixture in the Chicago punk scene for a long time, running Attica–a recording studio in Wicker Park–for many years, and running Club Foot as well. He recorded everybody from the Bollweevils to Los Crudos to the Old ’97s(!) in that cramped and smoky attic. My band Trepan Nation recorded most of our stuff there, and it was the greatest. Even though we were straightedge, Chuck’s chain-smoking was worth nary a consideration, as the place was so damn rad!

  • Hahaha… Yeah… I do, too, Andy.

    BTW, I worked at WZRD in Chicago (Northeaster IL University’s student-run radio stations) and Chuck was one of the engineers. I saw the Defoliants open for Fugazi shortly after Fugazi was created… at Club Dreamerz in Chicago.

    I just finished importing Grrr onto my powerbook and have cleaned the tracks up as best I could using Bias Sound Soap 2.

    The occasional click still sneaks in at the tail of some tunes, albeit a bit muffled. Overall, it sounds pretty damn good.

    Todd

  • Who has ANY of the live euro-shit?

    I need to hear: ‘ Hi, we’re The Defoliants from Chicago, and we’re looking for hash….. one-two-three-four….’

    Jeff

  • Defoliants “Rocked” back in the day! I knew Rob and friends back than and couldn’t play that album enough times when I got my copy. It’s a shame there aren’t any killer Chicago surf/punk bands around anymore, at least not in the same caliber as Defo.

    LONG LIVE PUNK!!!!!!!

    Tony

  • Hey, Jeff, I think I have a copy of the Euro live tape. I also have some other pretty rare, unreleased Defo stuff (like a copy of the master tape of the 2nd LP, sans vocals). But I have to find them.

  • Was the Defoliants show with Fugazi the one on May 8, 1988? That was their first Chicgao show from what I can see and the openers on the flyers were No Empathy and Jack Scratch. Were they added to the bill or did they replace someone?

  • Hot butter, that Dreamerz show was a gas!
    Grrr was sweet, the single was boss, and Warmo made me a tape of the tape of Now How Much when I was at T&G and he was at Perishable.
    I am now remembering of the modified Disney cartoon on the Grrr insert: “Good gosh, opium!”
    Funny lads, great musicians!

  • Hey Gantry:

    Good question. I have a flyer somewhere for that Dreamerz show that reads Fugazi / Defoliants / someone named Groove Diggers.

    I wish I could remember more about the other opener(s) but JS and NE didn’t play that gig I’m fairly sure.

    So apparently there is some information on the internet that is less than bankable. I have called the internet and left a voicemail about it.

    Anyway: big hello to alla you.

    Rob

    Oh, and Rob Anderson: 1) Hey! How’ve you been? 2) you know, that panel from a Mickey Mouse comic strip wasn’t modified. That was Walt (or an art assistant) all the way. I know, I didn’t believe it either.

  • I belive the Fugazi/Defoliants?Grooved Diggers lineup is correct, as I was at that show and remember it fondly. Did Life Sentence play too? My best memory is Chuck using his glasses as a slide on his guitar. Great band they were.

  • Hey, I did the sound at that Dreamerz gig (for GD and Defos, anyways). During Fugazi, the whole crowd was jumping and the speaker stacks were tilting in and out towards the center of the room as the floor bowed in and out.
    I was sure the news the next day would be “Nightclub disaster on the near north side…”
    I still have my autographed copy of Grrr. Chuck sez “The Fuzz is happening,” Rob sez “Splork Me” and Jeff signed his name “Rob.” Ya Bastard!
    Oh, and Rob signed Clare’s copy “Clare: Thanks for the acid!”
    Man, those guys were the shit.

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