WHITE FRONT:TIM STORM



WHITE FRONT:TIM STORM by HEEN KATTA ULLA


What I heard was before white front there were no punk bands in Davenport?


I had some friends who’d been playing around a bit since Jr. High School, I’d hang out with them and occasionally there might be some kind of show or party. This was a time when Punk and New Wave were first becoming available to us (in those days if you lived in flyover country you’d always be a few years behind) and I was one of the few people I knew who was excited by this new music. By the time I’d graduated High School (1980) there were a couple of clubs (in Davenport and Iowa City) that that were hosting bands touring the Midwest “bar-band” circuit, one band per night (Fri/Sat), 3 sets, mostly covers. I’d sneak in early (being underage at the time) and watch these bands. Some of them obviously had access to the best, new records and they’d do some great covers – it was the first time I heard songs from bands like the Cure, Misfits, Gang of Four, etc. Problem was, none of the bands I was seeing lived up to my expectations of what I thought a live show should be. I imagined a much crazier, higher-energy experience – although I’d never seen anything like it in real life. Finally I decided to try ‘n put together my own band that would have the kind of energy I wanted to see. I planned to be the band manager as I had no musical knowledge or ability.


In those days, if you met someone who had even heard of punk rock and didn’t have an immediate violent reaction against it – you knew you’d just met a new friend. So we were out on a slow night, driving around town drinking some beers, this was a very common thing to do back then.when we stopped to take a piss in someone’s front yard. Walking up the street was this odd, lanky guy with these two good lookin’ chicks. In the car my stereo was still playing the Ramones, so this guy walks up and asks “Is that Siouxsie & The Banshees?”… immediately after yelling at him “Ramones! It’s the fucking RAMONES!” we started questioning him, could he play drums? No? Would he be willing to learn? Yes? Great, we practice at this house… see you in a couple days!


Who called who first, did Eric Cope call you or did you call him. Was it from a notice that was on a wall in a record store or was it a music store?


I'd put up an ad (just the one) in our local record store Coop Records. as best I can remember it said something about wanting people to form a band with influences including Ramones, Sex Pistols, Circle Jerks, Black Flag ( I’d just recently seen ‘The Decline of Western Civilization’ compilation record ). It probably said something about talent being a liability. I received only 2 calls from that add, the first was from a local group called Psycho Gene & The Neonz, who were a bit odd but too “hippie” for what I had in mind. The second call was from Eric Cope.


When you first met Eric Cope what did you think about him. I mean him being from Sri Lanka. and punk was another whole world.


I don’t remember exactly my impression of Eric, only that he was very straight-forward, no bullshit and fully in agreement with my plan. I think we hit it off immediately (I’m pretty sure I was impressed that he’d seen the Clash in London and had some cool records that I didn’t have) and got down to business right away, finding some musicians. In terms of him being Sri Lankan, I don't think that mean anything to me, I'd never been outside the Midwest at that point in time so it's likely that had no thoughts about it - I was just happy to have found a partner in crime.

Did you think it was going to happen? That there was going to be a band. What I heard was Eric Cope could even hardly play the guitar. and you didn't play any instrument either.


Initially we’d found these two guys who happened to both be named “John”, guitar & drums(or bass?) I think. Did a couple weeks of rehearsals with Ericon vocals but they’d complain every time we demanded they play faster. One day I show up at rehearsal, the two Johns were gone and Eric says “I kicked them out, they were too old” (they were 24, haha!), “You’re the singer now, I’ll play guitar”. I said “OK” and 15 minutes later we realized that I had no idea how to sing. So we began with Eric teaching me about 4/4 time.

Was the club that played punk showed called Mad Hatter? What street was it on, who owned that club?


The club we hung out at (as regulars) was a small dive-bar on Harrison Street near the High School in Davenport. It was owned by a guy named Jamie, who’d been running it for a few years as the only “New Wave” place in town. They’d have a variety of styles playing there but all fell outside the usual “Heavy Rock/Country Rock” that dominated at that time.


As far as I know white front was the only punk rock/hardcore band from Davenport/The Quad Cities up to that point. If there were any before us, they kept themselves a secret. I should say that Davenport Iowa was not (and likely never will be) a “happening” place, so it’s not surprising there’d be a lack of bands, it’s more surprising that there were ANY bands at all. Did they have a lot of punk shows there?


I don’t think they ever had an actual “punk” band there, mostly it was new wave cover bands, with the occasional old R&B act or maybe some rockabilly – anything that didn’t fit the normal mode.

Who were some of the bands that played there? Were they from Davenport?


I remember the big (only?) local band being ‘The Crowd’ who went through a couple of name changes and a new lead singer to eventually become the ‘Stale Airs’. These guys played a great selection of covers, had good taste in music, cutting edge. Another regular favorite were The Phonics from Chicago, similar in style and quality. There were a couple of bands from Iowa City (we’d sometimes go there for shows, it was only an hour drive), The Ones and The Officials - and this crazy hippie band called Pink Gravy.

What I heard was before white front there were no punk bands in Davenport?


As far as I know white front was the only punk rock/hardcore band from Davenport/The Quad Cities up to that point. If there were any before us, they kept themselves a secret. I should say that Davenport Iowa was not (and likely never will be) a “happening” place, so it’s not surprising there’d be a lack of bands, it’s more surprising that there were ANY bands at all.

I heard that you and Eric always used to go there and drink beer.


Yes, of course we enjoyed our beers and in those days beer was the only thing we had access to, so we had to drink as much as we could.

Did you have a girl called Yvonne as your first drummer. where did you find her? was it at the Mad Hatter?


I do remember Yvonne, she was a regular at The Mad Hatter, I remember liking her, had a bad attitude, y'know… she lived across the hall from Craig (drummer) in those wild, ghetto apts across the street from the club. I don’t remember her playing drums though. Is it true that you and Eric had come across Eric Larson at the Mad Hatter and asked him to play in White Front?

Hah, yes! We were hanging out as usual, having a beer and all that, when in walks this guy we’d never seen before. He was, up to that point, the weirdest looking guy I’d ever seen, we immediately realized that he needed to be in our band so we approached him with an offer which he accepted right away.


Well, probably not those bands so much (Circle Jerks and BF were already pretty fast) but I do remember having a theory that since we couldn't actually play well (at all), we could compensate by playing faster. So we did play much faster than any band around us at the time. Before he started to play bass was not he playing keyboard?


That was the catch, he played keyboards. Realistically, we had no use for keyboards but, as he looked the part and was willing, we figured we’d go with it. Eventually he decided to drop the keyboards and bought himself a bass.

Also about Craig Caldwell, white front drummer. I heard that you and Eric Cope used to drink beer and drive around playing punk music in the car and that you had stopped to take a piss and Craig Caldwell was walking buy and had heard Ramones coming from your car and had stopped to talk. and Eric had asked them to join white front.


In those days, if you met someone who had even heard of punk rock and didn’t have an immediate violent reaction against it – you knew you’d just met a new friend. So we were out on a slow night, driving around town drinking some beers (this was a very common thing to do back then) when we stopped to take a piss in someone’s front yard. Walking up the street was this odd, lanky guy with these two good lookin’ chicks. In the car my stereo was still playing the Ramones, so this guy walks up and asks “Is that Siouxsie & The Banshees?”… immediately after yelling at him “Ramones! It’s the fucking RAMONES!” we started questioning him, could he play drums? No? Would he be willing to learn? Yes? Great, we practice at this house… see you in a couple days!



And about Doug Heeschen. when did he join white front. How did you know him?


Doug Heeschen was a guy I’d met through a couple of my Jr. High School friends, Brian and Tom. They’d been playing in one band or another for several years and actually knew how to play their instruments and could play songs that sounded like real songs, this was pretty impressive. Doug was their guitarist.

Is it true white front used to take songs from Circle Jerks and Ramones and Black Flag and play them twice as fast?


Well, probably not those bands so much (Circle Jerks and BF were already pretty fast) but I do remember having a theory that since we couldn't actually play well (at all), we could compensate by playing faster. So we did play much faster than any band around us at the time.

Did you also do Buddy Holly and the Doors and Beach Boys?


When we first started, the only way Eric could play a song (on guitar) was if he had the chords written down. He had brought a handful of music books with him from Alaska(?), so we chose our songs out of these books. I remember The Clash, Buddy Holly, Sham 69, The Doors…. could have been Beach Boys too, I was already a fan so that would have been good with me.


When we first started, the only way Eric could play a song (on guitar) was if he had the chords written down. He had brought a handful of music books with him from Alaska(?), so we chose our songs out of these books. I remember The Clash, Buddy Holly, Sham 69, The Doors…. could have been Beach Boys too, I was already a fan so that would have been good with me.


What were some of the bands that you like, what about Eric Cope?


Back then? I was a huge Ramones fan, like so many people my age, hearing them for the first time changed my life completely. Of course we were always looking to grab anything we could get our hands on, punk or new wave - didn't matter, it was the same to me. Prior to hearing the Ramones (Sex Pistols, Clash, Sham, etc), I'd been into Blondie, The Cars, Talking Heads, Devo... stuff you could actually hear on the radio - which was still a pretty big thing back then.Eric was always one step ahead, I think he had a subscription to the NME and so he'd be on the lookout for the newest sounds. I remember loving his Tubeway Army 'Replicas' album, and the first Psychedelic Furs LP.

Where did white front practice.


Eric had this little house on a hill in an older, working class neighborhood between the main streets and the start of the rich neighborhoods on the east side. The next door neighbor used to call the cops on us, can't blame the guy, I'd probably do the same now, haha.

I heard that for awhile there was someone from Mexico that played bass white front, who was that?


I remember we had tried to start a band with one of the Mad Hatter regulars and his girlfriend (Armando & Cecelia, I think?). They had some nice amps set up in their basement with these plug-in fuzz boxes, they'd smoke a bunch of pot and play Stooges songs for hours. They were cool (don't think they were actually from Mexico though), but we weren't into pot and the jamming thing wasn't going to work for us. They did let us put on a party in that same basement where we played our first show though.


Why did White Front move from Davenport, IA to San Francisco?

It was obvious to me all along that Davenport was never going to be the place, it was (and no doubt, is still) a dead-end, working class, nowhere and I knew we'd never be able to do anything if we stayed. At the time, all the cool action was happening on the coasts, so I figured we had 4 choices, NY & Boston were out because I hate winter/snow, so it was California. We went with SF because we figured it was smaller than LA and we might have a better shot with a little less competition. 'The Decline Of Western Civilization' was also a huge factor in us wanting to be where the action was.


We had developed a bit of a reputation, mostly from our drunken antics at various local clubs, since we'd never actually played shows at any of these places. We got thrown out of here or there a few times, banned from the Mad Hatter for about a month once, which was tough because there was nowhere else in town to go, we ended up meeting with the owner and apologized/lied our way back in.

Was it because white front was banned from all the clubs around there?


We had developed a bit of a reputation, mostly from our drunken antics at various local clubs, since we'd never actually played shows at any of these places. We got thrown out of here or there a few times, banned from the Mad Hatter for about a month once, which was tough because there was nowhere else in town to go, we ended up meeting with the owner and apologized/lied our way back in.

Did white front have any cds out? Are there any recordings?

We recorded demos right before we moved to SF but they were lost in the move and never found. Later, some stuff was recorded at our rehearsal space in SF but, aside from some prototypes of Glorious Din songs, most of it is better left unheard, I think. Like most first bands, it was a learning process which lead to bigger, better things later on.


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