No Fraud's Dan Destructo Reflects on 30 Years of Punk and Influencing Kurt Cobain
Courtesy of Dan Destructo.
Dan Destructo has lived through five decades of punk rock, witnessing its ebb and flow from the skewering environs of Venice Beach, Florida. Now relocated to the Los Angeles area, his long-running outfit No Fraud has proudly released a 17-track collection of some demos recorded in 1984. While Destructo and crew's take on thrashy hardcore was genre-defining in the early '80s, they've seldom strayed from a formula that they helped invent, which has made them paragons of the hardcore scene.
Animated, maniacal, athletic -- Dan is one of the better frontmen in the business. An avid skater, rig climber, amp jumper, and occasional audience member tackler, we here at Crossfade had a chance to discuss the release of the demos, his memories and views of growing up punk rock, East vs. West Coast living, and how No Fraud might have influenced a young Kurt Cobain.
See also: Blast From the Past: No Fraud The E.P.
No Fraud circa early 2010.
Let's talk about 30 years in punk rock. From the '80s to today, what have you enjoyed/disliked the most?
Dan Destructo: In reality parts of No Fraud existed as early as 1979. It seems odd to me that I have seen punk rock in five different decades but I guess I have. In the '70s it seemed fresh, exciting and that anything was possible. The music and messages, which fell under the moniker of "Punk Rock" really varied and freedom of expression, seemed to rule the day. The bad was that major music corporations seized the opportunity to sell it as a fad, not a movement.
In the '80s punk sub-divided into many genres and the one No Fraud fell into was D.I.Y. Hardcore Thrash. For us this was about inventing our own space and making our own sounds. The best part was many of the bands of this era were independent of major corporations both in the music they made and the shows they played.
In the '90s you had "all good things shall come to pass" and boy did they ever! The major music corporations tired of seeing their profits siphoned off by all these independent bands, labels, and venues, decided to crush the scene by buying it. Many of the bands had refused to sell out by signing to the commercial labels, so the corporations got tricky and bought many of the bigger independent labels, distros, and venues essentially decimating the scene by making it a big dead end. Punk truly became "Pop." Ska became pop. Emo became pop. Even something called grunge became pop.
"Don't Let Me Grow Old"
Everyting went pop and you guys...
We became faster and wilder which pissed a shitload of Green Day punkers/Ska Poppers into fits of screaming at us "stop that noise we wanna hear some punk rock." The Good? Well that part about pissing off punk preppies/nerds was fun anyway. In the '00s, the Double Aughts, pop punk died, ska pop died, grunge died. Rock returns. As often happens the cycle of life returns to a similar starting point. Punk, hardcore and thrash seem to kind of re-ignite with the next generation of youth sick and tired of the unfulfilling content of "pop music." That was good!
The bad? Well, many bands have no idea how to rock and sign to major labels as soon as the corporate suits sniff a fad. More bad. People start calling the post HC punk bands (think Gainesville Emo label No Idea) "Punk" or "Hardcore". What these bands are is clearly Emo Pop Rock! Like the band "Fucked Up" they are not Hardcore Punk. If we have to use labels please do not use the one I helped invent for myself.
Ha hah ha!
Now it seems the world is taking sides. One side is Pro-Globalization (read capitalism/consumerism), which will continue to be forced on everyone and everything. The other side? Well that's where No Fraud is and has always been. Nature, Logic, Truth, Justice, Equality, in general all the things it takes to make a healthy thriving society. It's what every record and show has always been about and will continue to be about.
See also: Miami's 20 Best Punk Bands of All Time
In 1997 the Crumbs declared you the undisputed King of Venice Beach. You've since relocated to California, first of all, why and how do the coasts compare in your opinion?
The Crumbs! Venice, Florida is a crazy place. When I was growing up there it was great in the sense it was small and country-like with a lot of natural beauty and places the kids could hide from the cops and rage! Now sadly, like many places, developers are just running rampant and paving over it all while the "development" they built last year sits half empty. I relocated because it was just time for me to try something different. I learned a lot about life in general from the experience. Life in Los Angeles lets you see the good about life in a big city, lots of shows, all kinds of people and cultures, just more of everything. Or so it seems at first then you notice it means more things like pollution, crime, and violence and that other things are not there at all like, solitude and nature. All that said, California has a lot of waves and skateparks so that can influence a Destructo.
How frequently should a person "go Destructo?"
At least once a week. Seek the advice of your physician first. Side effects may include smiles, laughs, prolonged sexual encounters, surf trips to remote locations, flying skateboards, bruising, bleeding, philosophical discussions, guitars, bass, drums, and vocals.
Going "Destructo" at the Stiff Pole Memorial.
How did Six Weeks become involved in the release of Revolt!?
We had been asked by many people over the years to re-release No Fraud's original Demo Tape #1 (released in 1985). We wanted to but the truth was that the original master tapes were lost after we recorded it at a house in an orange grove (really! no BS). But what we did have was our first try at recording a demo on a bunch of four track tapes. After moving several times and more than a couple of decades this was a lot more work than it sounds like.
The tapes were baked and transferred at the same place Nirvana's were. I found it odd that the kid from Washington who had ordered the original Demo Tape #1, and who may have borrowed heavily from our song "Another Part In The Machinery" on said tape when he wrote "Territorial Pissings" was dead and staring at me from the wall. Six Weeks was my first choice to put it out as I have several great records by them. A few e-mails later and Jeff and the crew at Six Weeks were subject to a very long ordeal of me sorting through and scanning tons of No Fraud history for the artwork and mixing all the tracks. Great label, good people.
Are there any more tracks squirreled away somewhere or does this bring the No Fraud catalog up to speed?
Yes look for a 7" EP next year on Stiffpole Records. The Title? I don't have one yet but I think we may just take sexy back from that old man Timberlake. And then there are the recordings we did for a split 10" EP with the Crumbs that shall surface at some point.
Have you ever considered fronting a jazz-oriented band named Fraud that performs on the same billing as No Fraud?
Man, jazz trips me out! I would like to throw down some scat for Fraud. Hell I kinda do it for No Fraud anyway. Would I have to grow back my 1984 mustache?
About to climb the stage rig with no regard towards personal safety.
God no and the new material?
New EP is almost done! Mixing it right now. It's called Straight Lines Crooked Morals. Super fast thrash punk with some breakdowns and a hint of melody here and there for when you feel like some easy-listening music. Of course the lyrics are angry and filled with the prophetic prose you would expect from No Fraud, and yes a lyric sheet will be included so you can decipher my jazz scat delivery.
I admit that a little terror came over me when you started climbing the scaffolding at the Stiff Pole Memorial show back in 2010 but you handled that beautifully. Aside from skating, is rock climbing one of your interests?
I have climbed some serious boulders during a party or two but alas I am not a serious climber of the mountains. I guess I've always been a little wild when playing live. Way back in the time ('79/'80) when my first band, The Warp was playing shows, I was jumping around and doing all this crazy stuff at some house party we were playing and this older guy comes up afterward and said something like "I get it, you guys are some kinda punk band and this guy is doing an Iggy Pop thing with all that crazy shit." Well that dumbfounded me and the boys because at that time there was no internet just live shows and some new fangled thing rich people had called a VCR to see what a band did live (besides a rare TV spot). We lived in Venice, FL and we were not rich.
We were isolated which also meant we had a slim record selection to choose from, imagine NO punk records on the shelves of our record store, we had to ask for them to be ordered! We learned about the Stooges and New York Dolls from seeing their songs on Sex Pistols/Sid Vicious records. So we just knew sounds not images. When we jumped around and got crazy it was because that's how the music felt to us and not to imitate other people that we hadn't even seen.
That begs a larger question. Society is told how great and better the "information age is" but from my perspective in art there's a point where external influences can smother out the spark of originality. Instead of original and fresh art developing out of its own need to exist, we have thousands of mutated versions of what could have been original ideas. It's as if there was a fresh batch of heirloom seeds planted (in which random mutation occurs naturally) in your garden and just when they are about to mature they in mass get cross pollinated by GMO's from the "modern" farm. Now whether you wanted it or not you no longer have heirloom seeds or plants, you have the very genetically narrow clone-esque product that every other "modern" farm has.
"Hard to the Core"
When will we see some live gigs in support of this disc?
This October we will be doing some shows on both coasts of the U.S. and maybe even a little of Mexico.
Okay, this has turned Biblical in size Dan and you have said a lot in this interview but is there anything you can say to sum it all up in a nice and succinct manner?
And yea after wandering through the lands known as America for many years and seeing these lands were bad and un-fertile for the growth of good, Dan strucketh his rod (formerly known as Snake) into the place where the sea meeteth the land (aka Venice Beach). The Gulf of Mexico was parted from Venice to Cancun. As foretold in the prophecy he leadeth his people across to the land of true freedom and atop the pyramid to seethest all the fun there was to be had. As Dan puteth away his rod (people were staring) he was heard to say "Yea this is a land where friends can still drink a cold beer on a hot beach and not go to jail."
Thanks Dan, that's kind of ominous and creepy in a good way.
Well, you seemed to like the whole "parting of the seas" bit.
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