By Michael E. Miller
By Allie Conti
By David Villano
By Jose D. Duran
By Michael E. Miller
By Allie Conti
By Kyle Swenson
By Luther Campbell
Empowered by over-the-counter courage, Loose set about earning a reputation as an onstage wild man. "I was blowing fire onstage and wanted to take it further," Loose says. "I'd practice setting myself on fire at friends' pools, and jump in when I started to burn." Following a few poolside self-immolations, Loose decided to try it at Churchill's. "We were playing our second song and I whipped out the lighter fluid, set myself on fire, and it looked great -- then I realized: Oh shit! There's no water!So I rolled on the floor and ripped off my shirt, which scorched both my eyebrows off and burned off all my chest hair. I saw the blisters coming up, so I asked the bartender for some water,and he threw a pitcher of water on me. I went to Hollywood Memorial wearing black eyeliner, motorcycle boots, and second-degree burns. I told the nurse that I was at a barbecue that got fucked up."
Chickenhead abided by the harder-is-better philosophy when the band took its fire-breathing freak show on the road in the summer of 1992. Despite its minuscule following in South Florida, the band spent its summer vacation headlining over future rock stars and punk legends. "The first tour was ten shows," Loose recalls. "All the sets lasted three songs. During the first song I'd smash a jar of orange marmalade, and by the third song marmalade would get on the guitar Iggy was borrowing, and then whoever loaned it to Iggy would take it back."
For its second tour Chickenhead recorded a seven-inch single and headed west for a gold rush of shows with Rancid and Bratmobile. Like all gold rushes, the main problem was getting there. Loose recounts: "We had to panhandle across the Midwest. We'd beg until we got ten bucks, gas up the van, and drive to the next town, where we'd shoplift for food." Once in the Promised Land of the Pacific, Loose fulfilled a long-time goal by playing Berkeley's famed Gilman Street Co-op -- a converted auto garage/gutterpunk Shangri-la. He swiped a big tub of glitter and had a roadie toss it over him onstage. "Then I broke a bottle on my head," Loose continues. "It took the rest of the tour to get the blood and glitter out of my hair."
About the same time Loose was busy abusing his body, Holy Terrors drummer Sam Fogarino was deciding to set fire to his rung on the corporate ladder. "We went to New York City to play the New Music Seminar and I was stoked!" Fogarino sounds off in his smoky baritone. "It didn't matter that we only played to ten people, and that half were from Florida -- the very act was enough to go home and get myself fired from my Fortune 500 job." Fogarino's bosses at Federal Mogul (a manufacturer of Ford and GM engine parts) were horrified when their promotions department whiz stopped showing up. "They promised to send me to business school on their dime and begged me not to 'throw my life away,' but I didn't want to hear any of it," Fogarino says. "After a couple weeks they finally fired me."
Freed from the corporate monolith, young Fogarino spent his time gigging and recording with the Terrors, the very popular link between South Florida's punk and alt-rock scenes. "There was always an ebb and flow in the Terrors between hardcore and collegiate pop," Fogarino muses. "Rob [Elba, Holy Terrors singer/guitarist] was Mr. Melody and I was into the Gorilla Biscuits."
While Elba wrote the songs and thus won the melody battle, Fogarino's brutal percussive attack won the Holy Terrors a pierced and tattooed crowd. "After a couple years in the band I realized that the harder you hit the drums, the better they sound," shrugs the lanky 34-year-old Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale sound-engineering grad.
Throughout the early Nineties, Holy Terror's number-one fan -- noise-rock icon Rat Bastard -- provided dirt-cheap recording time at Miami's Sync Studios as well as his Esync Ocular imprint on its seven-inch vinyl singles. "Rat hooked us up," says Fogarino. "Just having a label name on the sleeve helped us get reviews and rotation on college radio across the country." Joining forces with the Terrors around that time was John Tovar, manager for Fort Lauderdale shock-rockers Marilyn Manson, who were signed to major label Interscope. Fogarino laments: "Because of Manson, Tovar thought he could get us signed to Interscope too. We did meet with Interscope's A&R guy, but it was all bullshit. We had better luck putting out our own singles."
Fogarino's luck ran out when it came time to record Lolitaville,the Holy Terrors' debut album, which took most of 1993 to complete owing to Sync moving shop more often than a Gypsy caravan. The long layoffs between sessions didn't faze Fogarino and his bandmates -- at first. "It took a year to realize what a detriment wasting a year was," he recalls. "Nirvana hit big. If you were real, you could do something."
With Lolitaville finally completed in 1994, the Holy Terrors entered into a disastrous partnership with Broward dance-trance-bass label Neurodisc. "I was supposed to be included in the process because of my punk-rock knowledge," Fogarino recaps. "But that never happened. They did the exact opposite of what I thought was best. They'd buy expensive print ads but wouldn't hire the publicist we met with, or even a booking agent. Tom [O'Keefe -- Neurodisc owner] told Rob to tour. Rob told Tom: 'Promote the fuckin' record and I'll tour.' The record ended up selling 500 copies."