When I was in my early 20s, my friend Steven had a VHS dub of a Germs show. I think it was filmed at the Whiskey in Los Angeles. Our collector friends had a lot of tapes that we watched, including some Nirvana performances and one with Young Marble Giants, but the Germs tape was one of my favorites.
At some point, I even got my hands on my own copy. I think by that time someone had compressed it to a DVD. I had this grey bubble television on a wooden trunk at the end of my bed. I would slump, half under my sheets, drinking cheap wine and ashing my cigarettes into a cereal bowl, and watch the Germs. Over and over and over.
I was not enamored with the Germs the same way I was enamored with Hole or Babes in Toyland or Girlschool, and I think it was simply an identity thing. At that point in my life, I so badly wanted my own band. I wanted to be a frontperson. I saw my potential self in the wild hair, tits and power of Courtney Love, Kat Bjelland and Kelly Johnson. I just needed that female thing, to let me know I could do it too.
However, watching the Germs was a spectacle. It was total love and excitement. It was so messy, raw, violent. It was not careful, but the songs were good. They were hard. They were fast.
Frontmen like the Germs’ Darby Crash always excited me: young, ruthless, destructive, attention-seeking and high on all the drugs. So nihilistic that, when looking back as an adult, it also seems campy or fake. Only a person in their early 20s who hasn’t lived much but has nonetheless decided that life is total shit is capable of true nihilism. Darby flung himself around the stage. He mocked the audience. He was G.G. Allin without the feces and rape threats — “G.G. Lite.”
I kind of have this affinity for boys who do the whole Darby thing, even if they don’t realize they are doing it. Even if Darby isn’t someone who directly influenced their punk band. I feel like most nihilistic punk boys have a little Darby in them, a little Sid, a little G.G., a little Jock (from G.B.H.), a little Cal (from Discharge). But Darby had an innocence, and that’s what I crave in my favorite all-boy punk bands.
One of those bands is Glue, from Austin, Texas. When I first heard their six-song Demo (they have since released a self-titled seven-inch, but let’s handle the Demo) I had the same reaction that I had the first time I saw St. Dad play, or heard Crazy Spirit, or Lower’s “Walk On Heads,” or Leather’s debut seven-inch, or saw NASA Space Universe destroy that tiny, jungle-themed cafe in Los Angeles. I was touched by the nihilism and the innocence.
Glue’s demo is recorded poorly, as it should be. (It’s a fucking demo.) But the songs are good. Fast and tight. They waste no time. Punk never wastes time and that’s what I love about it. Also, a band sucks if their drummer sucks. Plain and simple. That’s, like, Music 101. Glue’s drummer does not suck. He’s sharp. I’d hire him for my army.
The “Intro” guitar riff is so grossly simple — perfect — it sticks with you like gum in your hair. Like “Intro,” the rest of the song titles are flippant: “The Jokes Write Themselves,” “Close But No Cigar” and “Peer Evaluation.” “No Excuse” just marches along while the guitar and bass climb up with the vocals, which are always spat out — never sung, but shouted, spat, shouted, spat. (You can’t sing when you’re hitting yourself in the jaw.) The whole demo rushes along, never leaving you a minute to be bored or confused. It’s to the point, even if you don’t know what Glue’s point actually is.
I recently watched a live video of Glue performing for a broadcast. A bunch of kids were there to watch. The band is miked properly, something they probably never give a shit about when playing live. (I know I never did when we first started playing shows.) Sporting emotionless faces and five-star punk-rock references on their t-shirts, the band starts playing the set. The bassist, with his back to the cameras, lurches back and forth, his one dangling earring swinging along. The singer makes a weird, confused face as he rips off his jean jacket to reveal a G.B.H. shirt with the sleeves missing. He skanks back and forth across the “stage” (a carpeted floor with drop curtains) repeating, “We are Glue. Thank you!” in time with the band (who are playing “Intro” from their demo). Afterwards, he starts jumping around and yells, “Already playing the wrong song!” The whole time he stares right into the camera and delivers his lyrics, which might as well be in a foreign language. It seems like the members of the band are relatively sober. It sucks messing up when you’re sober, but it also doesn’t matter. That’s another thing I like about young all-boy punk: no matter how hard they try to act it, deep down, sometimes, they care.
I know all the members of Glue have had a million other bands in the past (including Iron Youth, Blotter, Breakout, Bitter End, Concrete and Recide), and they will continue to make more and more. However, listening to this line-up of boys makes me feel as happy as I did when I was a 20-year-old, drunk and high, watching the Germs do damage way before I was born.