Punk rockers Dead Virgins find resurrection in Utah
In late 1980 in the underground clubs of New York City, Dead Virgins came alive.
Created by Big Mike and Pat Sands, the punk band was inspired by Iggy & the Stooges, the New York Dolls, the Velvet Underground, the Ramones, Sex Pistols and Clash, as well as the DIY ethic that fueled many of those bands' ascents.
The Dead Virgins managed and recorded themselves, marketing and releasing their records independently. Just when they began receiving interest from corporate major record labels, things began to crumble and the band died.
Fast forward to 2012. Big Mike, now living in Holladay, found a thriving underground music community in Utah, but he believed it was missing the emotion and attitude of the New York scene back when Dead Virgins were at the height of its success. He thought the band needed to be resurrected.
With the blessing of Sands, Big Mike formed a new version of the band, recruiting Utah musicians Bobby Rock on drums, Chris Mortensen on guitar and 13 on bass.
The four members of Dead Virgins talked about punk, punk in Utah and a question you should never ask Big Mike.
Who are your inspirations?
13 • AC/DC, Ramones, FEAR, Dropkick Murphys, Flogging Molly, blues and punk in general.
Rock • My musical inspirations include The Ramones, King Crimson, Captain Beefheart, Stereolab, TMBG and Guided By Voices. I am also inspired by individuals that are willing to stick their neck out to fight for environmental, political and economic justice. The Tim DeChristophers in this world deserve a lot of credit, in my opinion.
Mortensen • I take a lot from The Bar-Kays, one of the sickest funk bands of all time. Frank Zappa, Black Flag, Captain Beefheart, Mojo Nixon, Hank Williams, Pete Anderson, Buck Owens, the list is endless.
Big Mike • In February 1964 at the age of 2, I witnessed the Beatles on "The Ed Sullivan Show." That changed my life forever. I lived, breathed, absorbed as much knowledge from them as possible. Flash forward to 14 years old. I was forced to buy "Ziggy Stardust" by David Bowie. The year was 1975. The next 15 months were the most crucial of my life. Bowie opened the doors to Iggy & the Stooges, the New York Dolls, Velvet Underground, Lou Reed, T. Rex, Mott the Hoople. Then it was 1976 the birth of punk rock. Ramones, Sex Pistols, Stranglers, Clash, Blondie, Wayne County, Richard Hell, Clash. This was my youth. This was my rebellion. Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Pink Floyd were dinosaurs. Punk rock was street music, dangerous, real life, youth. This is where my musical journey began.
What are your most memorable experiences in music?
13 • The first time I got onstage, at 40 years old, with my first band, The Hellfire Villainy. A few days before, I had surgery to repair the damage I had done after I tripped in some chicken wire, breaking my big toe in several places and severing some arteries. I had this big pin sticking out of my toe and a boot. The doctor recommended I didn't play the show, but if I did, to sit in a chair. I said, "Screw that, this is my first show." I played the show on my feet, not even taking any painkillers. It was a great first show.
Big Mike • There have been many memorable shows opening for major bands. I have met many of my idols, had deep conversations ranging from the aspects of writing to mutual influences on our careers. But the most memorable experiences, the most engaging moments, have been when I was able to reach someone and stimulate them to buy that guitar and start their band, to find that passion that was breathing beneath their skin and giving it the air to breathe, grow and develop. I had a guitarist in a very large group say to me that it was me who opened the door for him to express that passion that lived in his soul. That is a defining moment in my eyes.
If you could list one or two things on a tour rider that must be backstage at a show, what would they be?
13 • JÃ¤ger and Viagra.
Rock • Nacho hats for everyone in the band; and perhaps some nice North Coast Petite Sirah, with heady aromas of boysenberries and blackberries, and seductive tones of juniper and anise tangling with coffee and leather.
Mortensen • All the colors in M&Ms.
Big Mike • Coca-Cola with cherry syrup on the side. The freshest sashimi. Oysters from the east and west coasts of America.
What are your musical New Year's resolutions?
13 • Learn to play bass.
Mortensen • I want to turn my house into a huge speaker, wrapping copper coil around it, so that it can be heard in Newfoundland. I need a big magnet, though. Any help?
Big Mike • I want to enlighten and expand as many people's musical experiences and tastes as possible. The average music enthusiast has a very narrow palette of musical influences. People need to expand the horizon and discover how music has developed and how music genres so widely diverse are so closely related.
What is your musical background?
Rock • I have been playing drums with punk rock and other bands since 1983. The first punk band I formed was named Charlie Dead and the Vultures. We only wrote about six or seven songs and were probably the closest thing to pure punk rock that you can possibly get. We sucked.
What is the most musical thing in the world?
Big Mike • The sound of the Atlantic Ocean crashing against the beach during sunrise, sunset or beneath a white moon. There is an aroma that envelops every sense of your body at that moment.
What would you name Princess Kate Middleton's child, and why?
Big Mike • I am sorry, but I am highly insulted to be asked this kind of question. If you were to interview Princess Kate, would you seriously ask her what song she likes by the Dead Virgins? An interviewer should be asking questions that are viable to the subject being interviewed. Please don't insult my intelligence and I will not insult yours.
Like a virgin
To watch performances of Dead Virgins, visit http://www.youtube.com/user/PariahMusicClub?feature=watch.