Painesville City Hard Core

I’m too young to have ever experienced the original wave of ’77’ punk. I was born in 1970. Do the math.

I do remember once hearing a radio ad for the Sex Pistols when I was a little kid. That’s all I can say about that.

I’m too young to have ever experienced the original BLAST of Hard Core Punk.

But, I was lucky/dumb enough to find College Radio when I was 12 years old. WCSB, WRUW, and to a small bit, WUJC (now WJCU). That, and the random tapes one of my uncles would make for me of his LPs of The Clash, The Specials, The Jam, New Order, etc, did something to me that sent my life somewhere that I’m still going through to this day and beyond…

I was the little hippy kid that got his fucking ass KICKED every day growing up. My earliest memory of anything was being held down on the sidewalk by other kids, while they rode their bikes over my face. It just eased into daily beatings by other hillbilly-redneck kids wherever my parents moved our family to. What a way to start life. I wish nothing but extreme pain & HELL to those fuckers, wherever they may now be.

It filled me with a rage & anger that, even as a 9 or 10 year old kid, I just couldn’t keep inside. And it would just antagonize them more when I tried to fight back. I would get beaten even harder. I would sometimes walk to a near-by highway overpass, and just fantasize about throwing myself over and splashing all over some random windshield I would hit. HA!!!

I just retreated in to my bedroom, had no friends, and hid myself away…day after day…but I had a radio. Boredom, and actually loving music, led me to looking around the radio dial. I found the wealth of College Radio on the left-end of the dial, and it just went from there.

I heard bands like Terveet Kadet. Gism. Rattus. DRI. Germs. Crass. Dead Kennedys. Joy Division. I would hear to this on the radio, and just SMASH everything in my room. I would write all over the walls with whatever I could get my hands on. Punch holes in the wall. Rip my mattress to shreds. I was hearing and feeling the anger, hatred, frustration I had in my head, being played by people on the radio. I listened like a fiend. I constantly called the radio stations asking about what I was hearing. I wrote down every piece of information I could. I sent away for xeroxed zines they would talk about on the air. I called every phone number, and wrote every address associated with what I was hearing.

Getting beat up at school every day, and having no social activity outside of getting my skull caved in by the sub-humanoids on my street, I dove into finding every piece of music I could get my hands on; and no one else could hear it!!! It was MINE!!! No One Else!!! FUCK YOU!!! I just sat in my bedroom, hid from the outside world, and took comfort from what the radio, mailbox, and what crappy worn out tapes I had could supply. Those fuckers that I hated had their Eagles. Rush. Led Zeppelin. They could shove that up their FUCKING ASS!!! For the first time in my young life, I felt alive. I felt hope. I could actually smile, for once.

Eventually, I made contact with some people around me who were “P.U.N.K.” Other kids my age who got beat up for being ‘faggots’ or having funny hair-cuts. Like ME. I no longer felt alone.

I got a really shitty drumset when I was 13. I would listen to what I taped off the radio, and try to imitate what I heard with the sticks in my hand. It felt amazing to hit something, and NOT get hit back. I dont know, but I didn’t feel like giving up & caving in anymore. For the first time in my life, I felt some sort of power or control. I felt ALIVE!!

I started/formed/forced-out my first band around 1985. I named it: Governmentality. The singer was some kid I met in my first year of high school who really loved REM, but dug the Misfits as well. The guitarist* was someone 10 years older than all of us that I met while skiing once, who was really into the Dead Kennedys. We once played our 4 minute set live. New Horizons Art Center. North Olmsted Ohio. March of 1986. We opened for S.O.P. (post Bag Of Fred band) & The Fetal Pigs (featuring Craig ‘Sweet Ass Sassafras’ Callendar of the long-time “669” radio show back when he was a kid, too).

Not long after that show, the singer of my ‘band’ took me along on a random road-trip to “Coventry”, an artist/hippie/whatever neighborhood/street in Cleveland Heights. There were lots of kids my age walking around with mohawks, painted jackets, homemade t-shirts. There were flyers on every phone pole for shows going on. There were 3 record shops with the stuff I had only seen in xeroxed zines & dreamed about. I met quite a few people. Most turned out to be idiots, but I met some people then that I’m still close with, and friends with, to this day.

My mind was blown. My direction went wherever the music took me, but I still lived in Painesville. I saw The Pagans & The Guns rehearse. I played in bands, and randomly jammed with members of The Broncs and AK-47. I stole beer, bummed cigarettes, and generally annoyed the living FUCK out of people from Starvation Army, Knife Dance, and Idiot Humans. I saw The Offbeats & The Pink Holes live more times than I can remember. I heard stuff like Agitated and Zero Defex (0DFX). Seeing live & meeting members of The Plague just tore my ASS to complete shreds. Obnoxious, drunk motherfuckers I totally identified with, and they did not treat me like a ‘little kid’. These were people who treated me as an equal; a human being, no matter how much I may have annoyed them.

But I always wanted to do something in the hillbilly fuck-hole city I lived in; 25 miles to the east.

Some geeky skater kids I knew down in Kirtland had a band called Deficient that could never find a bass player. I borrowed a bass, and taught myself to play their set in time for their next practice. But, that fell apart very quickly.

Not long afterwards, I met Chard (Richard H MacInally R.I.P.) thru some raging skinhead fuck-ups we both partied with in Euclid. I had just gotten home from being in Japan for a little bit; he had just gotten out of jail & was couch-hopping in Painesville, of all places. We drank. A LOT. We got high. A LOT. We listened to music. A LOT. We generally got into trouble. A LOT. Eventually, we found out we both played guitar & drums. We jammed every afternoon before I had to go in to my job. Chard called a couple people he had been jamming with to see if they wanted to hangout, have a few beers, and see if they were into what we were doing.

Gag Reflex, quite possibly the first ever Painesville City hardcore band, was then formed in early 1990.

What happened after that ‘just happened’. We did what we did. A couple people paid attention. We played some shows. We drank more than any reasonable humans would ever consider, and, apparently we made ‘history’.

Through it all, we got a lot of indifference to what we were doing. Some idiots would try to fight us after losing their attempt to heckle us or start shit. We ALWAYS won the fight. We took no shit from anyone.

There were 3 people we met, specifically, who really took a liking to us. They would actually come to our occasional shows at Derricks in Willoughby, and book us on their own shows or have us play at parties with their bands.

Jay Keubler (Confront, Windpipe, Grain, etc).
Paul Shlachter (Scrogball, Meanstreak, Cider, & beyond…).
Tony Erba (Face Value & beyond…)

Without those 3 individuals, we probably would have never done anything but drink & go deaf in that dirt-floor basement in Painesville, also known as “Studio Guilala”.

We were now on the ride, and we weren’t letting go.

I dont live in Painesville anymore. I will go back there sometime, later in life. For all the horrible memories I have of growing up & living there, it will always be a part of me. That city doesnt even remotely resemble where I grew up & lived in anymore. Thank God. But, that’s for the better. Trust me.

Wedge Guilala, February 2015

PS: It should also be noted that we spent a lot of time playing parties, and generally hanging out with the band Pale Creation. Singer/front man Nick Brewer was one of the first “P.U.N.K.” kids I ever met in my area, and we’re still friends to this day. That band has persevered through it all, and is still putting out good music on the A389 label as we speak. They should be more than noted for their importance in the small scene we all ‘accidentally’ created in Painesville/Mentor back in the early 90’s.

*this guy has gone on to be a State Rep in Ohio, and is really involved with big-time politics to this day. I wont say his name, because there is a career to protect, but I’m still in contact with him to this day. Great guy, actually!!