Tucson's beautiful desert has always been fertile ground for burgeoning music scenes, be it the psychedelic garage of the 60's, the hardcore of the early 80's, or the rich variety of styles found there today. In 1982 I found myself playing guitar in a local hardcore band called Conflict. A strange little dive existed on North 4th Avenue that, after a string of monikers, was called The Backstage. Thing about The Backstage was the owner let anyone, hell anything, play there. As long as he got the bar he was happy letting the bands take the door (average cover: 2-3 bucks). With Tucson being an 8 hour drive on Interstate 10 from LA, this was a recipe for a rich influx of touring punk bands. From 1982-83 quite often there were 3 shows a week, with a plethora of now infamous bands taking the stage, often to audiences that numbered a staggering fraction of the size they went on to play before within a few years (e.g. Husker Du, Minor Threat, playing to 40 people). Conflict's drummer, Nick Johnoff, did a great deal of the booking. Nick also double-timed as the drummer for Tucson stalwarts Civil Death. As there wasnt an enormous excess of hardcore punk bands in Tucson at the time it was very likely that Conflict or Civil Death was a supporting act for these shows. As a result I and other band members found ourselves posting hundreds of flyers promoting these abundant shows. This is how I came to possess most of this archive.

It should be noted that not only did the associated local band members post flyers promoting these shows, but they usually made the flyers themselves. Much of the effort put into these flyers is considered high art today (indeed, Raymond Pettibon's work can be found in the permanent collections of many municiple museums) and its influence is present in contemporary rock-art. A large number of the Backstage flyers herein were made by the talents of Zach Hitner and Karen Allman. At the time Zach was the young and talented guitarist for Civil Death and Karen, a psychiatric nurse by day, as the singer/lyricist for Conflict was one of the only female front-persons in all of that era's hardcore. Nick also made flyers as did others. Of course, everyone hung them, from Lenny and Joey, to Lee and Tim, Sharon, Paul (rest in peace, you crazy mofo), Michelene, and Conflict bassists Matt Griffin and Mariko.

There were many times over the years when I almost lost these flyers; considering them dead weight amidst a move or almost giving them all to a girlfriend's punk rock little sister. Nobody in the punk scene at the time envisioned the World Wide Web, and few persons, including myself, envisioned any future interest in the hardcore punk of that era, let alone the nostalgia and cred that it generates today. Its with this in mind that I "tip my beer" to the present generation who instead of wallowing in the past use it as a foundation upon which to build bigger and better things. Enjoy these flyers, this slice of a bygone era, with foresight to the future of challenging, difficult, "do it yourself" non-commercial music.

Bill Cuevas, June 2004

 

 


Creative Commons License
Creative Commons License.