Selections from The Punk Vault [Justice League]

Justice League – Shattered Dreams LP
(1987 Fartblossom Records)

I can’t quite remember where I first heard Justice League. It was back in high school in the 1980s and it was likely either via a fanzine like Maximumrocknroll, or I bought it simply because I liked the name and they were in the Toxic Shock catalog (which is where I purchased their first 7″). Regardless, I thought they were a pretty good band and I ended up buying all their records, though few in number.

It was always in the back of my mind to do a little feature on them, but I didn’t really know much about the band’s history. As fate would have it, one of the members, Marc M, is one of my fellow daghouse brothers. I must have completely blanked on the fact that he was in the band in the past, or wasn’t paying attention, but it was when he posted a link to the myspace page he set up for Justice League that the light bulb went off in my head and I asked him for some history. He kindly obliged.

Justice League was a Pomona, CA based band that existed from 1983-1988. We released a 7″ EP, a 12″ LP, a 12″ EP, as well as a few compilation tracks. We played over a hundred shows, both locally and nationwide, with such bands as Social Distortion, Youth of Today, 7 Seconds, Uniform Choice, The Vandals, MDC, Crippled Youth, Gang Green, Dr. Know, NOFX, and more.

The Shattered Dreams era:
Around the beginning of ’86 Jon Roa (Think or Sink vocalist) quit the band. I don’t think any of us were too upset by his decision. He was replaced by our friend from Orange County, Casey Jones. While only playing 2 shows (Reno, with The Brigade & Long Beach with Scared Straight, Dr. Know, and Blast) with the band, Casey managed to do the vocals on our only full-length LP, Shattered Dreams. We rewrote most of Jon’s lyrics for the album (mainly because we didn’t know them). My first two attempts at lyrics appear here, “Disarray” and “Down Again”. This was also where I discovered that I could sing OK when I did backing vocals on “Falling Apart”.

We did the album at Radio Tokyo in Venice, CA with Ethan James engineering. Skip had seen an “ad” for the studio on a Minutemen album. The LP features a pretty wide mix of styles, as we were starting to outgrow our Minor Threat/Stalag 13/DYS influences and were listening to bands like Husker Du, Squirrelbait, Rites of Spring, and even bands like Bauhaus & The Smiths. (Note: Ryan blatantly stole Bauhaus lyrics for “In The Cold”, but none of us noticed until years later!)

When we finished recording the album the next logical step was a summer tour. Skip, Fred and I had just finished our first year of college, and Ryan & Casey had just graduated from high school so it was time to hit the road again. With a little help from Bob Durkee, I booked a six week trek across the U.S. A few weeks before the tour, Casey decided he didn’t want to go. Even he admits his reasons (not wanting to leave his girlfriend or his job) were dumb. So that was it for Casey.

Our first post-Casey show was one of the best parties we ever played. It was in Mark Duran’s backyard. He had a huge skate ramp that he built and people were skating it in the afternoon,
and then we turned it into a stage for that night. POW played before us and then we fumbled our way through a set, not knowing most of the lyrics and trying to sing ourselves for the first time. Bill Tuck (Pillsbury Hardcore) jumped up and sang Aerosmith’s “Sweet Emotion” with us. The cops eventually showed after a while, but I’m sure we were out of songs we could sing by that time anyway.

We toyed briefly with the idea of asking Jon to do the tour but decided against it. We divided up the songs and decided to sing them ourselves. We pooled our money and bought a cheap van and hit the road with a couple boxes of 7″s and some shirts that Bob fronted us. When we got home Skip was replaced by Chris Bratton on drums, and in February of ’87 the Shattered Dreams LP was finally released.

Many thanks to Marc for the story. The band has a page on myspace where you can learn a little more and hear a few songs. There is also a CD reissue of the old material that I wasn’t aware of until recently, and someday when I am back in the working world and can afford such things, I plan to get someday for easy car listening.

Listen to “In Love with an Idea” from the record

Order the CD reissue from Mendit Records






22 comments

  • Roa, here. I sang for the band, Justice League and the gratuitous comment that when I quit that no one was too upset at my decision is funny. Real funny! But it is not half as funny as that Pollen Art cover! Just teasing you, Marc! You know I dig you (even though you will always be new school punk rock to me).

    ROA: Justice League/End to End/EYELID

  • By the way: After I was asked, it was me who did Sweet Emotion. Bill Tuck just grabbed a mike, randomly screamed and embarrassed himself.

  • I would like to add that when Jon attempted “Sweet Emotion” he did not know the lyrics to the song except for “Sweet Emotion” after the song ended, Jon announced that he was going to re-join Justice League to which Ryan said “Shut up Jon!”.
    It’s funny how 20 years later people can’t shake off bad feelings and grow up.

  • By the way, the Great American Hardcore scene died in 1984-85.
    That salad for those “Salad Days” has wilted and weathered away.
    Stop trying to resurect what was and find something new instead of living in your (not so)”Legendary” past.

  • Wow! …are you accusing me of not knowing the lyrics to Sweet Emotion? Me? Impossible. I have known those lyrics since, well, since they were first published in Hit Parade. I have always known the lyrics to that song. ALWAYS!

    As far as me commenting on your (and yours) pedestrian attempts at mockery, I can only offer the following: I wish you happiness and while I never really knew either of you, I would suggest that you two would benefit from the teachings of George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff. I have a feeling that you will take my suggestion as a form of insolence. Yawn….

    Post script: I love Ryan Hoffman. Ryan and I agreed that I should do the last show but prior to that I never, ever, discussed, said, announced, stated anything even remotely close to re-joining the band.

    Free Palestine.

  • I had a book published in 1995. It went through two pressings and it currently out of print. I have had multiple articles published in various magazines. I am not writing a book about american hardcore but would love to help anyone who is. A great book is American Hardcore: A Tribal History — by Steven Blush. He writes things that can be considered racist and/or sexist but he did put out a great book!
    If this is Mr. Jones: “Hi” to Brady and your mother. I remember both as very nice people.

  • Jon, you are so sweet and always have been! I thought that your myspace said that you were writing a book about hardcore to set the record straight. Either way I love your book and hope that you will keep publishing. We need more great writings by you.
    Luv Casey

  • Roa,
    why dont you do some justice league reunion shows?I saw you with scared straight and you guys shredded!!

  • Please Jon Roa, don’t do any more Justice League songs. You guys weren’t so hot then, and I’m sure you won’t be any better now. Stick with the written word fellow spartan.. Bill Tuck, where are you? Desperation Squad still rocks Pomona!

  • Hello. This is Casey (Jones). Roa, the previous comments weren’t from me but hello nonetheless. Last time I saw you was about 10 years ago outside the Whiskey when I was walking across the street with Ryan. I was stoked to see you but you acted like you didn’t know me…I never figured that one out. Hope you’re doing well.

    Thanks to the person that featured the band on this page. Much appreciated!

    Casey

    p.s. Mom & Brady are well, thanks. (and still nice)

  • its pretty cool that all the pomona bands & members still talk.

    i just bought the shattered dreams lp from Dr. Strange records here in rancho. its still in the shrinkwrap!
    i also got the 7″ its in ok condition.

  • roa,,,you rock , justice leauge rocked…
    pomona and arcadian punks stand tall.
    long live bob durkee
    get a hold of me john ,,,,plenty more stagedivin to be done….
    punk rock pete

  • Well I would have never thought that all of you would still be in the scene! It’s sure great to see some familiar names! I live up in North Idaho and I haven’t seen or heard from anyone in twenty years. I guess that’s what happens when you move 800 miles get married and have 5 kids! later!

  • Sorry to see a bunch of guys that grew up still acting like children. I didn’t get into Justice League until you guys broke up. Skip was dating my sister and I pilfered one of her tapes (he probably left over there to corrupt me and my brother).

    I listened to the album and thought, “HOLY SHIT!” This has to be good because I am listening to it from start to end and I haven’t found a dud yet! Which is how I decide if a band deserves my gratitude.

    So I showed it to several friends and they all got a hardon for it too. Then I went in search of live recording that had Jon singing. I believe Skip gave me a copy of a tape he had where Jon sang pretty much all of the songs from Shattered Dreams and I noticed, “Wow… Umm.. The album has a lot of ‘mistakes in the lyrics’.”

    As for Pollen Art… My sister eventually married Pat Ellis so I got into them too. I preferred the gritty Justice League though.

    Would pay $50 for a ticket to see you guys again. I know a lot of people who would go for $25.

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