I've been toiling for months on this shit. Years, actually. I'm still knee deep in the whole damn thing, but now I have something to show for it. After more than 100 interviews (and still counting!), I finally turned my attention to transcribing some of them and generating some written words you nice folks could feast your eyes upon. This is nowhere near complete, but Tony, Steve, and Wedge were such fantastic interviews, I felt compelled to share some excerpts. And goddamn was Nine Shocks Terror a powerhouse with a hell of a story! Eventually, eventually, eventually this will all be available in the form of a book that you can read while trying to fall asleep, kill time, or poop...or maybe you'll just want to look at the pictures.
PS: This content is all part of a much larger project that will ultimately see the light of day. I'm being cool enough to share some of it with you now here on this blog. I'm working my ass off for no money, so please don't use this content for any other purposes. Just read and enjoy. Appreciated! -Ken
Thanks to Tony, Steve, Wedge, Mike, DJ, and Felix for sharing their time and stories.
Not a Fucking Anthem
Nine Shocks Terror
Michael Thorn (Maximum Rock 'N' Roll) There’s something about Cleveland, in general. I actually feel like the best punk bands come out of Cleveland. Going back to Rocket from the Tombs, Dead Boys, Pere Ubu, Devo. There’s something so fucked up about a city that was able to light its river on fire. It’s a total fucking shit town, it’s been shit on by everything, it’s a Rust Belt city, but it creates this need to have this amazing creative outlet.
Wedge (Nine Shocks Terror, Gordon Solie Motherfuckers) Pretty much everybody who's been involved with the scene here at some point time in the last 30 years has been some sort of degenerative, pill-popping skater that knew how to party and by the way, they had impeccable taste in music.
Steve Peffer (Nine Shocks Terror) One big thing about this town, even still now, there is this sense of humor that just runs through everything.
Michael Thorn (Maximum Rock 'N' Roll) I don't think I'll ever be able to fully explain how much I love Tony Erba as a human being, as a person in a band, just as this total fucking psychotic weirdo.
Steve Peffer (Nine Shocks Terror) Tony is trouble in good ways and bad ways but he’s just an absolute sweetheart, a very kind person. Tony Erba is one of the three most instrumental people in shaping my life.
Tony Erba (Nine Shocks Terror, Gordon Solie Motherfuckers) I was always motivated with the bands, I wanted to do something. First, it was like “you'll never put out a record.” Fuck you, I just did, the label’s from California, what do you got, asshole? “Well yeah, but you're never going to go on tour.” Fuck you, we’re going out for three months.
Wedge (Nine Shocks Terror, Gordon Solie Motherfuckers) Steve showed up one day blew our fuckin’ faces off.
Steve Peffer (Nine Shocks Terror) I'm in Wedge’s Basement with Wedge and Chard and Tony and they're about to start playing these songs and I’m just gonna’ scream shit that I have written down in this notebook.
Tony Erba (Nine Shocks Terror, Gordon Solie Motherfuckers) I go to Wedge, “this guys a real prick, he's perfect.” We got him in the band and there he stayed for like 10 years. I say that facetiously, the guy’s a really good friend of mine and we never, ever had a cross word.
Steve Peffer (Nine Shocks Terror) These Japanese thrash bands had more of a rock influence. There was more to the song. It wasn’t just like, okay, let's rip through this fucker, lets blast through it and it's over. There were solos, the songs were not necessarily a million miles an hour, there was a groove to these songs. I think that Nine Shocks also had that spirit, that rock influence.
Tony Erba (Nine Shocks Terror, Gordon Solie Motherfuckers) We rolled with a lot of amperage. We always were a very loud band.
Wedge (Nine Shocks Terror, Gordon Solie Motherfuckers) The first two or three years that we were playing in that band, basically nobody gave a fuckin’ shit about us.
Steve Peffer (Nine Shocks Terror) It was hyper-political and hyper-lifestyle conscious, not even lifestyle conscious, but lifestyle fashion. It was very serious, very judgmental, very weak, very weak…When we first started, for the first couple years, we were around, that's how people were at the shows we played. We’ll go play a show with Charles Bronson and it was a humorless scene. It was a humorless scene and weak. It was so fucking weak.
Michael Thorn (Maximum Rock 'N' Roll) When Nine Shocks Terror would roll up to your house, they look like the guys are coming to do drywall. A bunch of chubby dudes in their 30s, they weren’t cool, quote-unquote.
Steve Peffer (Nine Shocks Terror) We had a presence that did not jive with what else was happening and we didn't take ourselves seriously at all. I mean, we knew that what the band was doing was righteous and bad-ass and it was like, let’s take the fucking show on the road and just like slay every town just by being ourselves.
Tony Erba (Nine Shocks Terror, Gordon Solie Motherfuckers) If we’re gonna’ get scolded because someone started jumping up and down at a show, then we’ll just do our own thing, then. It might be real hard to find a place to play or an audience to play to, but we’re just gonna’ do it. That's what the H100s did and that kind of morphed into Nine Shocks and you probably had a bunch bands by osmosis doing the exact same thing their towns.
Wedge (Nine Shocks Terror, Gordon Solie Motherfuckers) Every time we were hitting the road once that split with Devoid of Faith was out it was like, wow we were here eight months ago and played to eight people and the bartender, and now there's 40 people here swinging from the rafters and they want to buy two of each of our T-shirts.
Tony Erba (Nine Shocks Terror, Gordon Solie Motherfuckers) Wedge had that book lying around, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. “We should call the record Zen and the Art of Fucking Kicking Your Ass.” We laughed and then we just shortened it to “Beating Your Ass.”
Wedge (Nine Shocks Terror, Gordon Solie Motherfuckers) We’d been touring a lot and Chard cleaned up his act with the heavy drinking and with bad drugs. He was sober for a little bit under a year, and in that time, we actually finished writing like the most of the songs and gotten really tight and had rehearsed a lot.
Steve Peffer (Nine Shocks Terror) I think the songwriting on that album was beautiful. The guitar playing is absolutely beautiful. Wedge to this day is my favorite punk drummer of all time. I can recognize his drumming from down the fucking street. It's just total battery, just thundering bombardment, galloping thundering bombardment and he is always fucking on.
Tony Erba (Nine Shocks Terror, Gordon Solie Motherfuckers) We went to Mars. That was a professional studio run by this guy Bill Korecky, who was a cool dude. He was a guy coming out of the 70s that was into hard rock and early British heavy metal.
Steve Peffer (Nine Shocks Terror) They did all the music in one day, which is the way you should be able to fucking do it and then I came in the next day and did vocals…At that point I still hadn't learned how to scream without giving myself the most piercing, painful, head-in-a-vise-grip headache.
Steve Peffer (Nine Shocks Terror) People here back then at least were just shit-heads. Throw a firework at a show. It's like where do you not light off a firework? Okay, let’s light off firework there…It wasn’t just for our band. It was definitely a Cleveland thing for other bands. But it wasn’t this huge thing. It was a thing that happened occasionally.
Wedge (Nine Shocks Terror, Gordon Solie Motherfuckers) The first time I remember anyone throwing fireworks at a show was a really early H100s show.
Steve Peffer (Nine Shocks Terror) All the shows that we played back then were at these nontraditional places for bands to play, because no regular club would let us play, and there was like an attitude of “well, fuck this place too.”
Tony Erba (Nine Shocks Terror, Gordon Solie Motherfuckers) That fireworks thing started at Speak in Tongues. I think that whole thing all across America started right at Speak in Tongues. People always talk about this Easter Sunday show with No Justice and Gordon Solie. People throwing paint around, it was totally out of control, but I guess people took word of that back to their towns.
Steve Peffer (Nine Shocks Terror) All this whacked out behavior got noticed by all these people from out of town and they just fuckin’ ran with it.
Wedge (Nine Shocks Terror, Gordon Solie Motherfuckers) The first couple of times it was pretty cool, everyone is going this crazy over what we’re doing. It was always in the back my mind, I can’t fucking breathe with all this smoke and someone’s really gonna’ get their neck broken at some point in time, and we’re the ones who are gonna’ get blamed for it.
Steve Peffer (Nine Shocks Terror) When people were doing it organically originally, it was what you're not supposed to do and you're doing it and then it became what you're supposed to do.
Tony Erba (Nine Shocks Terror, Gordon Solie Motherfuckers) I can tell you right now, we never showed up with firecrackers.
Felix Havoc (Havoc Records, Damage Deposit) Well, there were a lot of pretty wild shows, as I drove them on two tours, only once did I think things had gotten “too out of hand” and that was a show in North Carolina with tons of fireworks. In retrospect, I was probably overreacting. But really, the mayhem was very good natured, kind of like the pro wrestling schtick that Erba was often promoting, just going wild and blowing off steam.
DJ Podolski (Last In Line) That Hampshire College show in 2001 was legendary. That was a legit legendary, awesome show. Nine Shocks killed it at that show.
Steve Peffer (Nine Shocks Terror) I remember that being a colorful performance.
Tony Erba (Nine Shocks Terror, Gordon Solie Motherfuckers) Al quint jumped out the window. Love it. One of my favorite memories. He bailed out because of the smoke.
Wedge (Nine Shocks Terror, Gordon Solie Motherfuckers) I still have 10 stitches in one of the knuckles of my left hand from that show.
Steve Peffer (Nine Shocks Terror) At that point, and for like a year afterwards, we were like hands down the best live hardcore band in the fucking world. We were so just dead on. We were so locked into our own thing. It was like the crowd is like this fucking mist. When you get to that point in the band, the crowd is like a vapor, like this mist floating around out there. You're just locked into this groove with these three other guys and you're just trudging across the tundra together in this gigantic fucking machine and you're all propelling it forward.
Tony Erba (Nine Shocks Terror, Gordon Solie Motherfuckers) I thought Paying Ohmage sounded kick ass. My bass sounded really good on it. Slabs of guitar sounded good. I was really kind of an amp guy by that time. We had like three stacks in there, three guitar stacks, two bass stacks. I wanted it to sound like a Mountain record, but with a hardcore band playing.
Steve Peffer (Nine Shocks Terror) Lotta’ good riffs on that record.
Wedge (Nine Shocks Terror, Gordon Solie Motherfuckers) We ended up writing four or five more songs that weren't bad, never got played live. They got recorded and then they were completely forgotten. But at the same time, there's three or four songs on that album that I think are some of the best shit we ever did.
Steve Peffer (Nine Shocks Terror) After the second album, our hearts just weren’t in it anymore.
Wedge (Nine Shocks Terror, Gordon Solie Motherfuckers) It was not long after that record came out where I was out of the band for the first time and that’s when the first big West Coast tour happened and they eventually ended up going to Europe after that. I was not a part of it unfortunately. It's my own fault.
Steve Peffer (Nine Shocks Terror) How many times can you jump up and down on stage and scream in the microphone? How many times can you do that? I think it got to a point where I wasn't enjoying it. But this is something I'm convinced I want to do, but I'm not enjoying this, so take it out on the crowd.
Tony Erba (Nine Shocks Terror, Gordon Solie Motherfuckers) Japan is its own little world, everything is completely different, different from Europe, different from the USA.
We played about 20 shows or so and the only place we didn’t go was Hokkaido, Sapporo, which are far northern islands and we didn’t go to Okinowa.
Sometimes I’d spy a ladder backstage and I’d go, “I could use this.” So I played the last song, I put the bass against the stack and there's the feedback and we’re obviously gonna’ come out and do a couple more songs…I Come out from the back with the ladder, I set it up and I motion to the crowd to start stage-diving off and they went berserk. That was the show with Nightmare and it was in this big club in Osaka that was upstairs. It was in this mall, but had this atrium. So this thing is on the second floor, but you can look out the windows and see down into the atrium of this mall. PS: there is also a giant sandbox in there the size of a living room. Everybody was tripping on acid and playing in the sandbox. Oh yeah, there’s also a roller coaster that just happens to go by right outside the window of this place. There’s a roller coaster there for some reason, it was so fucking freaky.
Steve Peffer (Nine Shocks Terror) So what ended up being our last show was at the Cathedral in Toronto playing with Drop Dead and Fucked Up.
By that point, I had totally disconnected myself from any sort of pleasure from playing these shows. My contempt for the crowd had gotten ridiculous and I was dealing with that by just getting totally fucked up at shows.
Tony Erba (Nine Shocks Terror, Gordon Solie Motherfuckers) Steve was really hammered at the show. Hammered! He knocked Kevin’s stack over and then I threw a brick through the monitor.
Steve Peffer (Nine Shocks Terror) At that show in Toronto, I just got so fucked up during the bands leading up to us and then, by the time we go on to play, I am just blacked out, fucked up. Kevin had a full Marshall stack that he was playing on, I knocked it over, all of it, like three times. Not even singing the songs. In a way it's almost performance art, in a sincere sense. I woke up the next day and I just thought, I’m never doing that again.
Tony Erba (Nine Shocks Terror, Gordon Solie Motherfuckers) I went to band practice one day and no one showed up.
Steve Peffer (Nine Shocks Terror) We had a practice scheduled and I think Tony was the only one who showed up and he left a note on the door. I still have the note on the door. It said “nobody showed up for practice” and then he signed it “zodiac killer.”
Steve Peffer (Nine Shocks Terror) Those guys are such fucking characters. Now they’re older and more mellowed out, one of them’s dead, but fuckin’ a man, I was so fucking lucky to hang out with those guys.
Tony Erba (Nine Shocks Terror, Gordon Solie Motherfuckers) When we were on, we could kick your ass. When we were off, we were pretty bad, but mostly we were pretty good.
Steve Peffer (Nine Shocks Terror) The best bands are different types of people. Different personality types, people with different ideas, people that get inspiration from different things, people that are influenced by different shit, people who have different ways of approaching things, different attitudes, different behavior, different sensibilities. The best bands are the bands made up of people of all different types. If you can get those people together to work towards a common goal, you become like a gang and that's how we felt. We were the fucking Mobile Terror Unit.