THE CRIMSON CURSE
1. Psycho 75
2. Funeral Empire
THE FESTIVAL OF DEAD DEER
Vinyl pressed on: Black, grey, blue
“I Hung Around In Your Soundtrack” Part 7 by Justin Pearson
In the later part of the 90’s, Three One G gained more and more momentum, in the way that there was a community or family starting to develop. Granted, a lot of it was fairly incestuous and very dysfunctional, but it was certainly along the lines of what any messed up punk would consider to be as such. This was the starting point of the label actually growing, as far as how things were run at the time.
I had met Allysia Edwards through mutual friends prior to this, and she became an official owner of the label. Naively, she agreed to one of the more impractical releases as far as manufacturing costs go. At the time, I was obsessing on shaped vinyl. Initially, I wanted to have The Crimson Curse/ The Festival of Dead Deer split 7” be bat-shaped vinyl. For some reason, I could not wrap my head around how it would be packaged and sold, mainly considering where a lyric sheet would go and how stores would stock it. I was also dealing with the weird stigma that one cannot sell a record for over a certain price, no matter what the manufacturing costs are. I think it was the fallout residue from the Ebullition days, and maybe prior to that, the Dischord days. But none of that taboo shit was going to stop me from making another absurd release.
It was at this point in the label’s timeline that I decided to release a square shaped record. It looked a lot like the crummy square flexi records that came free in music magazines back then. But the vinyl was so thick that it ended up coming across like a large floppy disc that wasn’t floppy at all. The manufacturing specs were basically pressing the album as a 12” and then die-cutting it to be a square. So I was pretty much paying for a 12”, then a die-cut, and then selling it for the price of a regular 7”. Yes, I should have taken some sort of business class prior to this, but that is all behind me now, so let’s just not address that practical stuff. Luckily, the bands both agreed on black and white art, which shaved off a little of the insane manufacturing costs that were part of this release, and had helped with the horror-shtick we both agreed upon and felt comfortable with. Now, the record is long gone and most likely will never be repressed. So those who were paying attention got something rad and rare in my opinion.
At the time, I had no problem actually selling the records whatsoever. So we ran through a few different pressings on colored vinyl, doing pressings of black, grey, and blue. The fucked up part was, over the years to follow, they would show up on eBay for so much more than I was able to sell them for and, well, there was nothing I could do about it. It would be one thing if they cost nothing to make and people were getting a decent amount when re-selling them on line, but the thing was, I am pretty sure I lost money on every single copy that we ever pressed.
To go along with the absurdity of the packaging and manufacturing, there was a way more insane story with the bands and how we functioned on our own, as well as in unison and in our personal lives. And with that being said, there are only snippets that I can share with the world about what was in place with us all at the time. One might hear about drug abuse, bad attitudes, and criminal behavior, but there was another level of seedy activity, backstabbing, super sketchy behavior, and outright mean shit that we were all prescribing to. The crazy part is looking back at the longevity and the fact that some of us, if not all of us, have maintained a level of friendship, respect, and most importantly have managed to stay alive in this world we all live in. Fast forward a decade or so and you see the friendship resonating with bands like Moving Units, Ground Unicorn Horn, Kill the Capulets, and Retox. For me, I am so grateful to know the three individuals in The Festival of Dead Deer, and to have been part of the train wreck of The Crimson Curse.
Interview with Chris Hathwell: June 2015
Justin Pearson: Let’s talk about the first time we met. I remember seeing the flyer for a show that The Crimson Curse was playing at Zed Records in Long Beach, and reading your band’s name, The Festival of Dead Deer; I already knew that the band was going to rule. That almost never happens. I remember there being this sort of stand off with the two bands, and I was most certainly fixated on you all from the second I saw you guys. I mean you all looked so jacked up, in a great way of course. And it was that night that I think we started one of the strangest, and coolest long-lasting relationships to this day. I’m shocked we both made it this far, actually. Unfortunately, the band did not make it very long. Do you care to talk about the start of The Festival and how things panned out to that point that we met?
Chris Hathwell: I first met Dylan at a coffeehouse in west L.A., after a show, I think it was Sonic Youth. This would have been late 1993, I believe. He suggested we go skating together sometime, and so we did. He brought Mike with us, and we went to the Santa Monica ponds. Dylan was a pretty good skater for how gangly and goofy he was– he’s like 6-4. I’m 6-2, I had good balance but I couldn’t ever ollie, so I was limited. Here comes Mike, this baby-faced, tiny little dude who looked like a young Chet Baker: brooding, innocent, and mischievous at the same time, just as handsome as could be, with this smile like a child actor. He was real nice and charming, and next thing I know, he’s ripping it up all over the fucking place. I mean just shredding, like a fucking pro. Afterwards, I’m like, “Dude, you really have a future in skating” and he’s like, “No man, I’m bored with skating, what I really want to do is play guitar and fuck shit up.” I remember thinking, I would kill to be that good at skating, or anything for that matter, and this dude is like, “Fuck that, I’m gonna will myself to be that good at music.”
I had been playing drums for a little bit, and when I met Mike, it was incredible. We just had so much in common, real similar childhoods. I mean, I think he’s the only person I know with more fucked up stories from his childhood than I have. Within a week, all three of us were living together in a one-bedroom apartment in Santa Monica. Working shitty jobs, playing music all the fuckin’ time, and taking all kinds of different things for the first time. Mike and I were inseparable. At a certain point, we split off on our own for a while.
We moved down to rampart and 6th, at a time when nobody white was around, and it was a fucking war zone for drug trafficking and street gangs. We found this little live-in rehearsal space where we could play all day and night, and that’s just what we did. We lived on music, top-ramen, cisco, and whatever drugs we could get our hands on. We had few friends, cause no one would come downtown to hang out with us, it was just too dangerous. We heard gunshots every night. We got jumped, robbed, stabbed, you name it. I think that sense of isolation and despair really lent itself to the formative sound of the band. People always tell me how they appreciate the sincerity and the intense energy of that band, and that’s because it was real. Mike and I were 2 damaged, fucked up 19 year olds who only had each other, and all that pain was manifesting itself in the music. Those rehearsals were like exorcisms, as close to anything religious, as I have ever felt. And the reason there was such urgency in those shows, why it felt like life and death, is because it basically was. We were poor, isolated, and angry. It was us against the world. But I’ll say one thing: I was never scared, because Mike was the coolest and most fearless person I had ever met. He would say what he was gonna do, no matter how far fetched it sounded, and he would do it. I would have followed him anywhere.
Eventually, after going through a few different bass players, we came back to Dylan. Within a year we built a little reputation around L.A. It was tough, cause we didn’t play any typical places like Jabberjaw, we wre true outsiders. Art-spaces, lofts, house parties. We would gain momentum, and then go through periods of inactivity due to life problems. We were also gaining a reputation as dudes you didn’t want to leave anything around: drugs, gear, your girlfriend. I mean, if you actually hung out with us, you knew we were actually decent human beings, just flawed and self-destructive. I think living someplace where you could literally buy anything you could think of off the street within 3 blocks of your front door didn’t help.
Mike and I didn’t know how to navigate any of this. Becoming an adult, playing in a functional band, any of it. It was an exciting time, but there were tons of lows. Mike ended up getting real bad on heroin. I was on all kinds of shit too, but was able to take enough days off to keep my shit together. Dylan was more into booze and pills. We never felt like we fit in in the L.A. scene. We eventually kind of started our own. We found kindred spirits in The Boy Scouts of Annihilation, one of the most criminally underrated bands of all time, and this group of dudes from Colorado named T-TAURI. They actually ended up moving in with us and sharing our space. We had like a compound of starving 21 year olds getting high and playing music till our hands bled. We played shows with them all the time. They were awesome.
It was actually the T-TAURI record release show at Zed’s where we first met you. I remember sitting in the van by myself, smoking cigarettes and trying to get my shit together. I had been up for 2 days on speed and was going in the wrong direction. Mike was off somewhere being dope sick, and Dylan was sitting on a curb getting drunk. I remember watching you come strutting up to the van with your sassy walk and your little pointy hips. You poked your head in and said, “Are you Mike?” And I said, “No,” then you said, “Well, Michelle Maskovich says to say hi to Mike” and then you sauntered off, and I’m thinking “I just fucking told you I’m not Mike, princess.”
JP: Ironically, I knew very little about you all, personally or musically. But for some weird ass reason, I was drawn to the band. I think The Curse was really looking forward to playing the show, partially due to our friendship with T Tauri, and somehow Michelle found out we were playing with you guys and told me to say hi to Mike, and even suggested I try to befriend him. In the back of my mind, I knew whomever she was banging at the time was bound to be both a rad person and really fucked up. But yeah, this “princess” figured I would deliver the message and, well, since you were not Mike and he was busy being high on heroin, I figured you could pass on the message or we could just drop it. I really had little interest in following thought at that point, especially with your good-bad attitude. Plus, as much as I was never interested in drugs, I had very little time to put up with that garbage, or with Michelle.
After the show was something else. I think mainly Christopher and I were the ones who were obsessing on your band. At the time, him and I had very similar tastes and were really looking for more jacked up stuff to get into. You all fit the mold of what we were seeking out. We then tried to put something in motion, an allegiance I suppose, as we too had felt similar ways with not really fitting in. Even though we weren’t on dope, we had to deal with our ties to typical hardcore and straight edge stuff, and San Diego was not all that welcoming at the time. The city was overly conservative and even with the punks we were surrounded by; they were way too critical and closed-minded, even at times beating us up, robbing us, and so on. Regular people were generally obsessed with crap like Jimmy Eat World on the outside, so that was a lost cause too. But we knew there were enough messed up people in our city that would get what we saw in you all, and that was true. Especially since you and Mike both eventually moved to San Diego well after the band imploded.
Do you care to talk about the way the band’s life unfolded and how it came to an end? After we both became friends I just remember trying to get you all to play more shows with us, and I think we only got Festival to play at The Che once before the end of the band. There was one other time, we tried to get you to play the Avocado 500, and your van broke down. Mike told me how bummed you all were but he just shot coke and forgot about it. All this was shit I could not directly relate to. I think with me, and the people I was playing music with, we were just focused on pissing people off, confusing people, and really just stirring up shit. We drew the line in so much sand, pulling off shit like threatening jocks with dynamite, or even just doing stupid shit like Mike Cooper sucking my dick just to get a rise out of some asshole band from Phoenix who wanted to beat me up. I suppose we had a different set of street smarts, and certainly not the same obstacles or aspects to avoid in our early lives. I was not about to get stabbed, that was for sure, and I was fairly certain you all would not stab me.
CH: That story about missing the Avocado 500 is a good one. I had this friend who lived in Venice, and she was like a trustifarian. She was cool though. Anyways, she had been through rehab and was living clean. I was not. I had come around her high a few times, and I guess she decided to relapse. Her thing was crank. She had money, and I guess it was in her personality to do everything big, so she bought a ton of speed. She was high for like 2 days, and then I guess she changed her mind. She called me up and was like, “Come get these drugs, I don’t want them around. You can have em for free, just get them outta here.” So I take the bus over to her house, not knowing what I’m getting into, and she gives me the biggest rock of glass, which is like cleaner speed, that I have ever fucking seen. I mean, this thing was like the size of a baked potato. I didn’t know what to do with it either, I was more into dope and coke at that point, and I never sold drugs. I figured I would find something to do with it.
I spent the next few weeks trying to get rid of that thing. Always going around with a razor blade and a big hunk of speed in my pocket, peeling off lines for whoever wanted some, trading it for drugs I liked. Doing some if I couldn’t find anything better, or I was bored enough. Well, that was 2 days before that San Diego gig. I remember bringing that thing with me, but nobody really knew. We all piled into The Boy Scouts of Annihilation’s van, who were playing too, and headed down south. As luck would have it, the van crapped out in Carlsbad, I believe. We pulled into This Shell station that was closed. This is before cell phones, and was trying to use the payphone to get ahold of someone. Then we sat around waiting for someone to come get us. Well, once it hit around midnight and it was clear we weren’t gonna make the show, someone says, “What the fuck are we gonna do now?” and I reach into my pocket, and I pull out this avocado sized ball of speed, and I say, “Well, I got this,” and we spent the whole fuckin night in that van spun out of our minds. And if you know the guys I’m talking about, Ryan hopeless/Lotto ball, Rich Bitch/Frank Alpine, Greg/Max Gomberg, Quinn Brayton etc. It was quite a scene. For the record, I don’t remember who partook and who didn’t, I don’t mean to implicate all of those guys, But I definitely remember Ryan wandering around in circles wearing nothing but hot pink lycra biker shirts, fucked outta his mind, and thinking to myself, “What have I done?” We were there till like noon the next day.
You guys were spreading the word for us outside of L.A. at a time when that really mattered because the Internet wasn’t really happening yet, but we kept fucking it up. Joey Karam set up a show for us at the Huntington Beach library, playing with Satisfact and Boys Life I believe, and when I got home from work to pack up the gear, Mike is like, “I pawned my rig for smack.” I was so pissed. We called around everywhere trying to borrow a rig, but everyone knew better by that point. We finally found someone who would let us borrow one, and found enough girls to give us a ride all the way there because we didn’t have a van, but by the time we got there, it was like 11:30, I think we were supposed to play at like 8:00. Poor Joey was real apologetic– “Sorry dudes, we have a curfew, I really wish I could let you play.” I was so embarrassed, and fucking pissed off at mike. I really wanted to play that show. I took Mike outside and was like yelling at him and shit, and he just goes “I know, I’m sorry” and opens his hand to show me a balloon of smack. Within 5 minutes were back in the library, nodding off and trying to watch Boys Life like nothing’s up.
We finally did play in San Diego at the Che, and it was a fucking nightmare. First of all, there was like 19,000 fucking bands. Heat, T-Tauri, Durra Delinquets, one of Rory’s shitty bands, us, some other ones I can’t remember, and The V.S.S. played last. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to play well. Not only was it our first S.D. Show after all the hype, but we were super in awe of The VSS. Still my second favorite band of the 90’s. Well, I had never seen so much pretentious, Indie Rock hipster Attitude in all my life. And I’m from L.A. I worked at the fucking Jabberjaw! There were Spock-rock assholes everywhere, us included. Everyone in the parking lot was wasted. It was like high school with everyone in these little cliques. Everybody was giving us the cold shoulder. Then we have to play second, at like 7:00. Dylan’s fucking gear goes out halfway through the show, in the middle of a song; his shit was always fucking up. I start yelling at him and getting all pissed off. By the time we get things rolling again, and start playing our last few songs, I’m thinking, “It’s not too late, we can conquer with these last few minutes.” THEY TURN THE FUCKING LIGHTS ON US! YOUR TIME IS UP; GET THE FUCK OFF THE STAGE! We were crushed. I remember you being real cool like, “No dude, it was great, people were into it,” but I knew it just wasn’t there that night. At least the VSS was fucking epic! One of the best performances I have ever seen. Although I ended up getting home at 4 a.m. and having to work at 7 a.m. That sucked.
JP: That is all some pretty insane shit. It’s weird to now know all that was going on. I was so naive about drug use. I was never into drugs, but also was never phased by any of it- well, until people my age were dying. But for the most part, I just sort of thought, “Oh, they are on drugs” and then went back to obsessing about someone’s band, or how I hated something, or wanted to destroy something. But looking back at that San Diego show at the Che, which I believe was one of the very last Festival shows, and as much as you hated it, it was something that we all needed in San Diego. We had a different bar set for us. So even though we had all that Spock shit, like Antioch Arrow and Clikitat Ikatowi, nothing was up to par with Festival. It was just way more evil coming from you. Maybe partially due to your musical influences, but also due to the fact that you all were legit scumbags. You know, a lot of the pretentious crowd you mentioned all came from the North County here. That was all tied to money for the most part. So you had me, and the kids in the Curse, who were all working class, or just thieves and shit, who were really just trying to evolve as much as we could. I have to say it, drug use stunts progression in so many ways. So maybe the short-lived life of Festival was needed for parts of the world other than where you all came from. At least it was needed in San Diego, and really pushed me and the immediate crew I was running with.
Documenting the band’s existence was absurd. I remember trying to get you all in the studio to record the LP and as you mentioned, this was before cell phones. So I could never reach you guys to sort out the details. At some point, I got a call from Mike, saying you all were in the studio and you needed me to wire you $500 ASAP. For one, I never had that kind of money, and especially never had it at a moment’s notice. I had to hustle to get that stuff sorted out. But before I was even able to get starting on hustling you reached me saying that Mike was a piece of shit and stole all your gear and hocked it for drugs and split town… Am I getting this right? And then it was way later, maybe four or five months later, when you moved to San Diego that we came up with the idea of the Crimson Curse/ Festival Of Dead Deer split 7″. We just took the best two songs from that live radio show. I can only imaging what a legit studio session would have been like for the band. How do you feel about the split 7″ and the final demise of the band’s existence?
CH: Wow. You know I never knew about mike asking you to wire us money. News to me. That was total bullshit. He was just trying to get money for junk.
Even though we were all usually fucked up on something, I always took enough days off of shit and held a job and kept my shit together. Same with Dylan. But Mike ended up getting real bad. He will be the first to admit it now, but he really got down in a hole. I loved him so much and was so close to him that I couldn’t accept how bad he was getting at first. He would usually not pull any junkie shit on me, just everyone else. He never touched my gear, or any of my stuff, just other people’s. He pawned Dylan’s shit once, but we ended up getting it back and somehow Dylan forgave him.
Everyone in our group of friends started warning me about what was coming, but I didn’t want to listen. T-Tauri figured it out first and they moved out. Mike took Aaron Warren’s room back at my place, and that was the beginning of the end. I remember coming home from work one day and there was an eviction notice on our door. I called the property management office and said there must be some mistake, we haven’t missed one payment. They told me we haven’t paid rent in 3 months. It was at that exact moment I realized I had been giving mike my half of the rent, and he wasn’t paying them. Hearing this story now, I’m sure people are thinking “well duh, how could you be that stupid?” But you have to remember, Mike was my brother. We had been through so much together, and that was the way we always did it. He always paid the bills. When we first moved in there together, years earlier, he made more money than me and he would pay a bigger share of the bills. He would be like, “How much money did you make this week? Ok, just give me this much .ill take care of the rest” I mean, he was super mega cool. It was real hard to accept that he would fuck me like that. I always felt immune to his junkie behavior. Like, he may pull that shit on other people, but never on me. But that was a foolish and egotistical way to look at it. Heroin addiction is bigger than friendship, or anything else for that matter. None of anything he or any other junkie does is personal, it’s just business, and I had to learn that the hard way.
My mom, who knew every dirty trick in the book, helped us figure out some way to pay these eviction specialist lawyers who could buy you a few more months for just a few hundred bucks at the expense of your credit. So we did that, but I knew I had to get out of there and go my own way. So I left early and moved in with some friends in east Hollywood. Those last few weeks with mike, I won’t get into the details, but shit got REAL GREASY. I started to accept that I didn’t really know this dude anymore and our friendship was never gonna be the same, but strangely enough; I still thought we could keep the band together. That was a totally distinct province in my mind. I knew how much the band still meant to Mike, and how hard we had worked. It may have been naive, or overly sincere, but I really considered it such a sacred thing. Something that couldn’t be ruined by outside forces. We were still playing shows and getting bigger then ever. We also did legitimately set up a studio session, you probably don’t remember, but you actually set it up with matt Anderson of all people.
And the weekend we were supposed to go down there, I mean literally the day before, Mike stole all of Dylan’s gear again and pawned it for dope. Except this time, when Dylan went to get it back, Mike had actually sold it, and not pawned it, but he was so fucked up he didn’t even realize it. This is before they changed the pawn laws, you can’t do that anymore. Mike really fucked up this time. Dylan finally lost his shit and got his dad involved. Mike was already facing some petty theft charges already I believe, and now he had Dylan’s dad looking for his ass. I remember Mike calling me up from a pay phone like 2 days later going, “I’m at a bus station. I’m taking a greyhound back to Michigan. I go to get the fuck out of here; I’m in deep shit. I’m gonna go try and clean up. I’m sorry” and that was it. That’s how it all ended. I remember we had a show booked that night at Silver Lake Lounge. I talked to Dylan and he was fucking pissed. I decided to go play the show all by myself as kind of a funeral for the band. And that’s what I did. I played by myself to say goodbye to all that pain. To let everyone know I wasn’t quitting. Aaron warren told me afterwards, “Thank you for inspiring the second half of my life.” I’ll never forget that.