Long Hairs Rejects, Joey and the Demo

It was around this time that we started talking about adding a second guitarist. I'd met Joey Jordison a few times through Paul and Slipknot which by this time was drawing pretty well with their 21 and over shows at Safari. Also Paul had lent me the Rejects demo and even though the lyrics were more of a joke and cartoonish in my opinion, the music was solid. By the time I heard them they had been broken up for sometime which kind of bummed me out that I hadn't heard of them before this. The reason was that they were part of the whole metal scene that was going on at the Runway. They weren't alone in this because there was also The Rejected which was Jake's band that had been a part of that scene too. I had in fact booked them on the one show I did there with Lawrence's Big Toe and Gil's band Wayback Machine. The show like most in Des Moines at the time was big money loser and all fucked up. I lost money and found out the day of the show that the time had been pushed forward and their was a later show. If I would have stuck around for that later show, I would have gotten a taste of the local scene but as soon as the double bass drums were loaded onto the stage we ran out of there.

Back to Joey, regardless of the greatness of the Rejects there was some in the band that were less then excited to have him join. The first strike against him was the long hair, sure we already had the hair farming Brian in the band but it really messed with the image for a punk band. Silly I know and a bit close minded but punk meant short hair and it was one thing to have a bassist in the back sporting the locks and another thing to have a guitarist up front doing the same. The next thing was the fact that Joey and Paul were both in Slipknot and how this would effect the band with the two main song writers dividing their time between the two. The thing was that The Have Nots and Slipknot were two completely different animals and until the last couple of months of the band didn't really conflict.

I guess the best way to explain it is that The Have Nots were fun and Slipknot was business. The Have Nots practiced a few times a month while Slipknot it was 5 nights a week. Slipknot didn't drink before going on stage while The Have Nots usually either played early or were completely loaded by the time we hit the stage. The Have Nots kind of just wandered onto the stage but Slipknot had this big football huddle and then made an entrance. Slipknot had huge strategy meetings and planned out their world wide takeover. The Have Nots had no plans and we rather pleased to get a little airplay on the High School Radio station. The Have Nots never signed up for anything or even tried to really advance their career. Slipknot entered the Battle of the Bands and sent their CD to every record company they could think of. My attitude from the start was until it stops being fun while every member of the other not were either in it for complete domination or they were left behind. 

I think if Paul would have maybe had told us about how well the two worked together as a writing team, there would have been less of a debate about him joining the band. The thing is there was a fear that with two members of Slipknot in the band and writing a majority of the music that the band would go in a decidedly more metal direction. The thing was that if anything Paul and Joey both were looking for another outlet and metal wasn't the outlet they were looking for. Joey came to practice one night and within an hour or so him and Paul had written Character Assassins, Bury the Rage and began work on Chicken Hawk. There are just sometimes those writing partners that just feed off each other, Paul and Joey were that way. It was like they had their own language and it was that language that would create not only a majority of The Have Nots music but all of the Slipknot music. It has always been one of those secrets to that band that the bassist and the Drummer wrote the structure of their music but there wouldn't have been a Slipknot without the partnership between Paul and Joey. There might have been a Have Nots without it but it would not have been as good.

With the line-up complete we began to polish up Chicken Hawk, Dancing on Graves and Forget Yesterday. Chicken Hawk was a song was Greg and his love life. I think something that he has always been a little proud of but at the same time a little not. To be honest it isn't completely about him and I did add a little fiction in there but he was over 30 at the time and was dating/seeing a girl that was still in High School. Dancing on Graves was a re-working of the lyrics to a song that I wrote with Jay. It was about a girl that had been involve with and the failed attempt me made at being friends. We had only been quits a few weeks and were hanging out at the shop. We were both into the bottle a bit and getting rather comfortable with each other so to speak. It was one of those cases of falling back into old roles that just seem natural. I have to admit I was always more into her than she was into me but at any rate, here I am thinking that the night was going to end a lot differently than planned when she leaves to get cigarettes at the bar next door. I continued to hit the bottle waiting for her to come back that was interrupted by a knock on the glass door.  She stood there with someone hanging all over her and kissing her neck, then waved and walked away. I pulled out a notebook and wrote a majority of the lyrics. 

Forget Yesterday was something that I had written in my car one night driving home. It just came to me and I had to repeat it over and over to myself to remember during the 20 minute ride to Pleasant Hill where I was living at the time. I wrote it down and stored it away with the others but the melody that I had in mind stuck. Maybe because I had spent that 20 minutes singing it over and over to myself. This was a few years before The Have Nots but it stuck and one night I hummed the tune to Joey and then sung the lyrics. Within a few minutes Joey translated my humming into the song that expressed my feeling at the time, too old to dance but still inspired enough to want to. Yes, it was bitter. I was bitter not so much that the kids that were discovering punk for the first time seemed to have an easy time of it or the success that many of the bands that I loved were having. It was more about the bitterness of what I had gone through in the past and during the dark days of punkdom. 

We had gone through a number covers to try and find the best fit. Brian and I wanted to do Sounds of Laughter by TSOL or bring back Stiff Little Fingers' Suspect Device which was a cover that we had worked on with just about every line up but both were quickly rejected. I know that we had a ska version of Bad Religion song but had decided against it because Sublime had already done it with We're Only Gonna Die. It was me that suggested X's Johnny Hit and Run Pauline with a slight twist. In part taking a cue from the Vandal's playbook, we would bring Greg out front to sing and throw Joey behind the kit. This was in part because I had problems hearing the cues in the song and would always come in too early or too late.

Paul who by this time had began working the door at Safari, got us our first gig. Opening for one of the most wonderful things to come out of Lincoln, Nebraska the mighty Mercy Rule. Also on the bill was the only other Punk band around Des Moines at the time Going to Grandmas. They had played their first show a few weeks before and I remember being a little bummed because they had beat us to the punch but I have to say we both had our own style. The Have Nots were aggressive while GTG was more laid back. I'm not sure if we had scheduled the recording of the Demo before getting the gig or not but we recorded the Demo the weekend before, I believe on a Sunday because the Axiom and Safari were closed.

Joey or Paul suggested Junior's Motel. Junior's formerly know as West Minist'r Sound was a recording studio located on a Farm in Otho, Iowa north of Des Moines. The studio was founded by Kirk Kaufman in the early 1970s. The studio had a long history for producing cheap and clean records that dated back to what many consider Iowa's first punk band the Dogs. The Rejects had recorded there and Slipknot would also. For more information check out the Underground Archives Page.

The night before we gathered in the basement to run through the set a few more times. The plan was to dial in the set and then load up and head to the closest motel in Fort Dodge and then hit the studio bright and early. You see a majority, well all of the band weren't what you would call morning people and with the hour or so drive we figured we would get more sleep driving up the night before. We were running through the set for the night, when Paul feeling the sprit, did a big jump and nailed his tuning peg on the concrete ceiling. The result was breaking off two lowest pegs on his crappy knock off guitar. Paul was left handed and he had strung and played the right handed guitar upside down. With no time to replace or borrow another guitar, he ended up recording the whole demo with only four strings.

I remember loading up Joey's truck and Brian's girlfriend's truck with the equipment. Paul and I rode up in my car. Throughout the drive we discussed all the plan Bs for the next day. You have to understand that we were didn't know what we sounded like. In the dark concrete lined room in Brian's parent's basement you could make out a majority of what was going on but a studio or playing through a PA isn't as forgiving. Even when you play through a PA, it's easy to mask mistakes or other problems but in the clear crisp studio there was no luxury. Paul and Joey both had spent a lot of time in the studio, especially over the last few months with Slipknot working on their debut Mate Kill Feed Repeat. For Brian and I it was our first time and Greg was still a little unknown. Sure we sounded great in the basement but would we sound as good in the studio? The plot was if Brian didn't work out to have Paul play the bass parts and if Greg didn't work to have Joey do it. What I wouldn't find out till the end of the recording while we listen to the rough mixes was that Joey and Paul had the same plans for me. See I had been singing through a bass amp the whole time and nether had any idea what I sounded like. So in a lot of ways, the recording of the demo was as much a document of the band as it was an audition for Brian, Greg and I.

We made it to the Motel in the wee hours of the morning and went to bed. I think we were scheduled for 10am or something equally early for a group that usually climbed into bed at 5am. Let's face it it was the middle of the night. I'm not sure who woke up first but we of course, overslept. In a mad rush we made it the studio 3 hours late, which left us roughly 5 hours to record 8 songs. We did all live and almost all in one take. There is only a few dubs or second takes and everyone played there part except Johnny Hit and Run Pauline which has Greg singing the first two verses and chorus and me singing the last verse and the chorus, Paul on guitar, Brain on Bass and Joey on drums. Joey, Paul and I would come back a few weeks later and with the engineer mix the tape. I paid for everything and ordered the first lot of 100. I far as I know there was only 200 every made and a majority of them were either sold or given away at shows.

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