Tru Fax & the Insaniacs were mere children in 1978, when they joined Washington, D.C.'s infant punk scene. They organized their own shows at Hard Art, MOTA, dc space and Madam's Organ, and played their first 9:30 Club show on July 9, 1980. The next month, they returned with the Insect Surfers, and the rest is history. Well, maybe not quite history, but at least a chapter in the annals of D.C. rock and roll.
Insanosound: Think of buzzsaw guitars (with David's ever-changing, totally unusual solos) and a hard-breaking rhythm section, fronted by a voice (Diana's) that evokes early Deborah Harry -- sort of Blondie meets the Stooges or New York Dolls. The Songs poke fun at society's conventions, and the lyrics are as important as the music; think of it as punk for intellectuals.
TFI recorded a '45 (Washingtron b/w Mystery Date) and an album (Mental Decay) on WASP records, a local label. Although they were approached by major labels, they staunchly (and, retrospectively, perhaps stupidly) rejected them in favor of indie status. Back then, signing to a label was considered akin to selling one's artistic soul. Besides, they had serious careers (scientist,
journalist, activist, artist), and wanted to stay close to home.
TFI traveled a bit, playing at CBGBs and The Ritz in New York, as well as Philadelphia, Richmond, Ohio and North Carolina. "Washingtron," a song about living in the Capital City, was their biggest hit. And they knew they had it made when Washingtonian Magazine named TFI "worst band" in 1980 (without ever hearing them), cementing their status and popularity in the punk/new wave scene.
Diana: One night, after our sound check at the 9:30 Club, we went out for a bite to eat. When we returned, we were stunned to find a line of fans extending down the long hallway and out the front door. Our show was sold out. To our dismay, the club was cleared after the first set, in order to let the new people in. We had to hide about fifty people in our dressing room so that they wouldn't get booted out. That was one of the great things about the 9:30; you could hide fifty people in the dressing room.
Michael: One of our most memorable 9:30 nights was a sold-out show with the Scottish band, the Revillos. We hit one snag; after their sound check, the drummer refused to move his enormous, heavy-metal type kit so that we could set up. He told me to put my drums on some milk cartons. Club owner Dody Bowers came to our rescue, and told the Revillos that they could either move their drums, or move their selves out of the club altogether.
Michael: Dody and the 9:30 Club staff respected and stood behind the local bands that played there. When they put a local band on stage, it was because they felt the band was worthy of an audience. Other clubs offered a stage; the 9:30 offered a sympathetic crowd, video, great dj and a scene. We always felt welcome there; we always had a terrific time.
That feeling was re-lived when we helped closed the 9:30's old location with our friends the Slickee Boys and the Insect Surfers. It was fitting; the last time the three bands had appeared on stage together was back in 1979. It had been a historic show at the University of Maryland, with nearly a thousand people dancing frantically in puddles of beer. Make that lakes of beer. That show defined an era. What's changed since then? Not much, when you really think about it. The Insaniacs endure; we are still playing and writing songs (several of the songs on the 9:30 LIVE! CD are new), we adhere to the original punk ideals of musical simplicity, purity and high satire, and we're committed to having fun. Thank goodness the 9:30 Club also endures.
The night we recorded the songs on the cd, on the penultimate night of the old 9:30 Club, we didn't exactly define an era, but we sure defined the word "energy." We hope that you'll hear some of that power in these live recordings. The Insaniacs are best live and in person. Imagine you're at the 9:30 Club right now; spill some beer on the carpet, turn down the lights, turn up the volume! Hear it?
Tru Fax & the Insaniacs are:
Diana Quinn, lead vocals and rhythm guitar, attitude
David Wells, lead guitar, backup vocals, inspiration
Michael Mariotte, drums, political conscience
Kenny Bugg, bass guitar, heart and soul
The credits on th
Our new 4-song EP, Foreshadowing, is available on our FACEBOOK page, Tru Fax and The Insaniacs. It is a precursor to our double album which will be released in a few months.
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