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Bainbridge Island Punk Rock! Pt.1 – The Cleavers

The first in a series of posts featuring buried treasures from the mid ’90s that prove, once and for all, that Bainbridge Island is full of ridiculous people.

Cleavers cover

Yesterday, after a run to Amoeba, I checked off another entry from my list of records I must own before I die. For a whole $2, I finally purchased the Cleavers’s “Livin For Leisure” 7″, a record I’ve been looking for since it was released in 1995. Oh happy day!

“Who are the Cleavers?” you ask. Well, does the name “Murder City Devils” ring a bell?

While the majority of what-would-become-the-Devils lived in Seattle and played feedback-drenched, double-screamer hardcore in the band Area 51; across the Puget Sound, in a little place called Bainbridge Island, Devils-to-be Nate Manny and Gabe Kerbrat* both played guitar and sang in a band called the Cleavers. (Other dudes that went by the name Joe and Oliver played bass and drums respectively.) Best described as “immature punk,” (though I bet they had a funnier/stupider name for it,) the band sang about the awesomeness of Abe Lincoln, failed attempts at escaping Alcatraz, and, most notably, what they would do if they were robots.

Missoula, Montana-based label Wantage co-released the Livin’ For Leisure 7″ with Left Over Productions. Only 500 pressed on clear vinyl and inscribed on every record was what could only be described as nonsense, but were probably inside jokes. Side A: “The moon is hallow! In a movie about hockey there is a million whip cut if not more because in Canada they don’t have T.V.” Side B: “Did you ever meet a free mason you liked? Did you ever see that movie called Warrioirs(sic) about the fucked up gangs in New York? Come out to play Warroirs!” (Maybe Warroirs is the French spelling? -Ed.) You have to wonder if they actually paid for it to say that or it was thrown in for free.

The record also comes with a full 24-page zine. Gabe, while in the Cleavers, also published a zine called “Hellbound,” a perfect example of the smaller, goofier fan zines that lonely punks in small towns all over the U.S. produced en mass. Issues of Hellbound were filled with band interviews, record reviews and a comic that featured “Abe Lincoln shooting steroids and fighting people,” according to Dan Halligan from 10 Things zine. Gabe, who now blogs about his life for The Best Chapters, loved the Hellbound name so much he would later use it for a record label, his band-management company and even a house he lived in.

The zine accompanying the record is an inane diatribe against the evils of the Easter Island Heads, who the Cleavers blame for every horrible moment in history. The zine starts off: “What do the assassination of Abe Lincoln, the sinking of the Titanic and the Apollo moon landings have in common? Need we bother asking.(sic) Often mistaken merely for giant stone heads, the Easter Island Heads are in reality much much more. It was the Easter Island Heads that brought the human race to this planet so many years ago aboard the moon, hollowed out to accommodate our freeze-dried ancestors…” Later: “Easter Island Heads, what in the hell are you talking about, is that what you’re saying? Well buddy, I think its about time you take the first train out of Idiotsville and open your eyes. All aboard the reality express, destination: you figuring out that the Easter Island heads control even the most mundane aspects of your existence.”

The zine goes on to say that the “Heads” control TV and every government in the world, while displaying pictures that show heads with historical figures such as Hitler, Mussolini and Lee Harvey Oswald. (When my scanner stops acting up, I’ll post the whole thing.)

Here are a sampling of tracks from “Livin For Leisure”

A quick sample of the lyrics to “Robot”:
If I was a robot I wouldn’t have to breath
and I’d go into outer space
and I’d play rock and roll on Mars.

and

If I was a robot I’d eat nuts and bolts
and I’d drink motor oil
and if you double park me I’ll eat your car.

Larry Jackson, of the Rickets and Jesus Fucking Christ, told me once that he used to drum for the Cleavers. “But I always made sure not to play as well as I could have, because I didn’t want them to be as good as the Rickets.” (One more fact proving that Larry rules.)

As Murder City Devils fans already know, the Cleavers begat the Unabombers, while across the sound, Area 51 begat the Death Wish Kids. And both the Unabombers and the Death Wish Kids begat the Murder City Devils, the demigods for an entire generation of kids in high school during the ’90s (including my wife.)

Coming soon: BI punk, pt.2 — Pud, creators of Ragna Rock ‘n Roll!

*Yes, I know Gabe was only the roadie, but many considered him to be the “7th devil.”

Kevin L. Jones

One of these days I'm going to get good at this writing thing.

2 thoughts on “Bainbridge Island Punk Rock! Pt.1 – The Cleavers

  1. Oh, man. I saw the Cleavers play in a junkie’s basement in Bismarck, ND in 1994. They were amazing, and I loved their ‘zine (I think I still have three issues). I never managed to get my hands on the 7″ though.

    Great post!

    *k

  2. I put on that show in that basement in Bismarck,Nd. I would love to hear from anybody that was there. Contact me at riptonso@yahoo.com. Oh and by the way that junkie died awhile after that show in a horrible drowning accident.Out!

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