MIKE AND JIMMY WITH JUDGE AT CBGB | PHOTO: JEFF LADD
Here it is, part two of our all-encompassing interview with Mike Judge. We’re hoping to post at least two entries a week from this interview, so stay tuned and keep checking back often. -Tim DCXX
So in my freshman year I’m in the lunch room and there was a table of punks. Loud, crazy, obnoxious. They don’t give a fuck, they are throwing shit, people are making fun of them but they don’t even care that people are making fun of them so they start throwing shit right back at them. Here I am, and I am scared of my own shadow. I’m a total wallflower hating myself and I’m just like, “how can I be like THOSE guys? Because they don’t give a fuck.” Any chance I could get I went out of my to run into them. Eventually I got to meet them. Paul Schraft was one of the first ones I met. I remember talking to him and he’s like, “I have my own band.” I’m like, “what?” He says, “yeah, I have a band called Sand In The Face.” I’m like, “you’re a kid, you don’t have a fuckin’ band.” He was like, “dude, come over to my house. We’re gonna practice on Friday night.” So now I’m stoked because I’m gonna tell my dad I actually have something to do on a Friday night for once in my life. Like, shit, things are looking up.
So after school that day I’m walking home and I see Howard and he’s like, “what are you doing?” I’m just walking home and he says to walk with him because his house was by mine. He’s like, “come on in and we’ll listen to music.” Well that’s all I did anyway so that sounded great, I can actually listen to music with somebody. So he puts on music…these bands called Suicide, Television, Blondie, Devo…I’m like, “is this punk rock?” He says, “yeah new wave, punk rock…but do you wanna hear punk?” He puts on Never Mind The Bollocks. I’m like, “WOW.” It doesn’t sound as good as a band like Creedence in terms of the quality and recording, but it sounded awesome and powerful. It sounded like it was saying “FUCK YOU.” And I wanted to be the guy saying “FUCK YOU.”
So I go home and I have to talk to my brother immediately because even though he’s a dick, he has a car. So I say, “listen I need you to take me to this record store to buy this record I heard. He’s like, “what record?” I tell him “Sex Pistols.” He’s like “what the fuck is that, punk shit?” I’m like, “yeah punk rock.” He’s like, “you’re not gonna go buy that punk shit. You’re not gonna go listen to that faggot shit.” Just total hillbilly attitude, he had this whole “not in my family” thing. I’m like, “dude…just take me.” So we go a few towns over to Wayne to this record store called Looney Tunes. I spent all the money I had. They didn’t have Never Mind The Bollocks but they had Flogging A Dead Horse, London Calling and some others. I took those home and listened to them in my brother’s room because he had record player. And he’s saying “what the fuck…that shit sucks”…which makes me like it even more. I wore those records out, especially London Calling. I listened to London Calling so many times…and was just obsessed with it. If there was ever an opportunity in school to do anything where I could bring up that record, I would. It was major.
So Paul Schraft knows I bought these records and am listening to this stuff and he says “Oh you like that? Man, listen to this.” And he lets me borrow Jealous Again. So I take that home and that was just like…man…that was IT. When I listened to the Sex Pistols, they were a group of guys that gave off a feeling of “FUCK YOU.” But now I have a band who is flat out saying: FUCK YOU. Like, “Look, maybe you don’t quite get the drift. Maybe we aren’t spelling it out enough for you, OK? FUCK YOU.” It was right there. “It’s not my imagination, I got a gun on my back!!!” Listening to that…man, I don’t even know how to describe it…I felt reborn. It was amazing.
I begged my brother to go back to the record store and I didn’t even wanna fuck around. I told the guy I needed Jealous Again. He’s like, “we don’t have any more copies of that, but their new record is out, you should try it.” He brings me a copy. It was the Damaged record. As soon as I saw the cover…the shaved head and the mirror and everything…man, it changed my life. Right there. I went home and listened and that thing just defined the way I was thinking, the way I was feeling, everything. Especially that second side. There’s never even been a drug that could get me as high as I felt listening to that record. NOW I knew why I was breaking everything. NOW I knew why I wanted to stomp everything in sight. NOW I knew why I would drive past the high school and think to myself that I wanted to just drive the car right into the crowd of jocks. It was all defined right there in that record and in those lyrics. That was it.
Paul Schraft took me to my first show soon after that. It was Misfits and Necros and I thought it was also Kraut, but I’m not sure if it was Kraut because Doug Holland says it wasn’t. That was at Hittsville in New Jersey. A few nights later I went into NYC for the first time and saw the same bands at Irving Plaza. I was fucking hooked man. It was like a big room of people who were kinda just like me. And everyone was talking. I’m thinking “no wonder I couldn’t fucking meet anyone, because none of those guys in school are like these guys.” Now it was easy to meet people…you just show up, AND bands play. I was blown away. All of that was awesome.
Paul Schraft had a girlfriend and she tells me she’s ordering some records. That she was just going to write to Minor Threat, to the guys in the band, and get some records. She asks me if I want anything. I’m like, “what?” She’s like “yeah I just write them, and order their records.” So I told her sure, I guess? It was so weird but awesome. So I’d start to write them. I still have those letters…letters from Jeff Nelson or Burt from Double-O. So I was writing a band directly and getting their records, and they were writing me back! A year ago I was talking to the fucking wall in my room and pretending the wall was talking back to me. Now I’m talking to a guy a couple hundred miles away in a different state…and he knows my name! It was fucking intense. I was hooked.
My next breakthrough moment was a CB’s matinee. That set me on the path that I’ve been on since. Because at that point I love these bands like Black Flag…but I go to CB’s and I see AF with John Watson. It was a Saturday matinee. During AF’s set John Watson says something like how they’re ending the show early because they have to play tonight out of town, there’s cars leaving and we should all go and support them. They were playing in Camden, New Jersey at Buff Hall. So some of these guys I had known that I came with drove, and I definitely wanted to go. So we pile in and we followed out the cars from NYC to Camden…we were going to support AF, like as their crew. It was the Philly BYO doing the show and it was AF, SSD, Minor Threat, and a Philly band. That was the show people talk about because Ian got run over and SSD’s van got into an accident. Al’s wife Nancy put on the show. That was my first out of town show and everyone was there to support THEIR band. It was like going out of town to an away game to support your football team, but without the dumb drunk jock bullshit. It was this network. I wouldn’t have known about it if I hadn’t been at CB’s. After that, I didn’t miss a matinee for a long time…