I was fortunate enough to see The Murder City Devils on a number of occasions. The most memorable would have to be at Punks with Presses (although it went by the secret name Circa Here at the time I believe), when Derek doused his organ with lighter fluid and then set it on fire without missing a note. He had his back turned to the crowd and it was probably one of the coolest things I had ever seen as a 19 year old.
I am glad that I can look up the exact date for that show. It was on September 26th, 1997 and also featured The Audience and The Pants (who later changed their name to Drunk Horse, although I still think The Pants suited them better).
Whilst I was still a resident of Oakland my friend Erin McDermott once excitedly telephoned me long distance from Canada to tell me all about her recent meeting and subsequent going on tour with The Murder City Devils. I asked her if she would share her tale, and she said that she would:
"Picture it. Southern Ontario, 1999. There were few options in the "things to do" department in my circle of friends. There was go to school, go to your crappy band practice, go to the bar, and everyone's fave; wait for a decent American rock n roll band to come through town and entertain us while we party, dig the tunes and have fun.
That year was the year after I was introduced to The Murder City Devils, and their album Empty Bottles Broken Hearts. It was one of those albums that had creeped into the main 6-CD disc changer at most rock clubs... it was catchy, good and new sounding.
I had been going to school in London Ontario, and "summering" in Toronto. That summer, the Devils hit Toronto and played with our local pals Teen Crud Combo. The show was at the Elmocambo and it was great. For fun, my tight Toronto pal Katie & I decided to take the Greyhound down to London Ontario to catch their next night's gig there.
Because I had their latest album I had seen what they all looked like from checking out their liner notes. It was tattoo regalia to the fullest degree. There was a big dude that looked like the toughest fucked up biker you didn't wanna mess with - pretty cool!
Anyways, at the London show I realized that this tough dude was actually the band's main roadie, and an honorary band member - Gabe. I got the idea to go up and talk with him and tell him what a hell of a job I thought he was doing. (I should add at this time that my goal in life back then was to roadie for Metallica).
We hit it off and the way I remember it was he said "Hey, if you wanna learn to roadie like me come along and we'll see what you got!" - of course I said yes. Katie went home on the Greyhound alone the next day and I went off to Quebec with this group of guys (plus one other chick). I called in sick for work - it was the only time in my life I have lied about having to leave for an indefinite amount of time because a family member had "fallen ill". I had to make this phone call in their motel's bathroom as the guilt was high for me and it was embarassing.
At that time they were touring with Vancouver's Black Halos. There was a show in some small town about 9 hours outside Toronto, possibly Sherbourne Quebec?... I can't remember. It was at a punk house and was quickly blown off to hang at a hotel room and party. I remember Gabe making a beerbong out of a 2 liter plastic coke bottle and some duct tape - they really knew how to make their own fun, MacGyver style.
We stayed in the same motel complex as the Halos and the partying was extreme. During the partying the bass player of the Halos had passed out, duct taped to a chair that had fallen over on it's back.
At one point I taught some of the guys in the band how to do the 'humpy puppy'... it is essentially where one person sniffs another person's neck repeatedly like an over excited puppy dog. Something happened that night where Spencer, the singer, and Gabe the roadie got into an argument about something trivial.
Because of the extreme party nature of the night, things were taken the wrong way and got blown out of proportion.
I jumped in and decided the best way to get things cool between these dudes again was for them to each give the dog sniff gesture to one another, and the sheer comedy of that act would eliminate any bad feelings and bring back the fun vibe. What ended up happening is Spencer gave Gabe the humpy puppy, but Gabe wouldn't go for it and did not return the gesture.
By the next day things were cool again, and we were off to Quebec City. That was the last night I spent with those dudes, the day after they were off to Rhode Island and I was back on a Greyhound to Toronto. Twas a fun time!.. Sniff."
I couldn't have said it better myself.
Ladies and gentlemen, for your listening pleasure, The Murder City Devils.
Dancehall Music (Empty)
2. Johnny Thunders
3. Take The Train
Three Natural Sixes (Hopscotch)
2. Broken Glass
Dancing Shoes (Die Young Stay Pretty)
2. Tokyo Gold
Christmas Bonus Single (Jeff & Amy's Paper Bag Series)
2. Dead By Christmas
The Murder City Devils/Botch (Excursion)
The Murder City Devils/Gluecifer (Sub Pop)
2. Can't Seem To Make You Mine