Sunday, August 3, 2014

Chapter Five: UNIFORM CHOICE… The Beginning


By Hanson Meyer

Not too long ago I was sorting through some of my things after a move and I found a few interesting items in an unmarked box that had made many previous moves with me without being opened. Besides finding a stack of flyers from punk shows that I went to between the years 1979 and 1985, I found some other items of interest from one of the early bands I was in called Uniform Choice. Among the items was an early reel to reel demo recording, songs that we had written on the backs of flyers and on hotel letterhead, photos of the band and even my daily diaries from 1982 and 1983 that recount the formation of the band in great detail.

Our band typically recorded every practice on cassette, and early on I had also procured a reel to reel tape recorder that we used to record our earliest demos. All of our early recordings with the exception of this one that I found were lost when I moved to San Diego in 1986. I had been moving all day and arrived exhausted at my new place late at night. I decided to unload my car in the morning which proved to be a major mistake as my car was broken into that night and everything was stolen. The only things that survived were the items that I unknowingly left behind at my dad’s house in this particular box. My dad gave me the box years later and I just shoved it into a closet where it waited for me to get to it later. 

The following is a reconstruction of my life during the formation of Uniform Choice and the time I spent writing songs and playing bass for the band based on my memory, my daily diaries and other information I found in the box.

Original Line-Up of Uniform Choice Left to Right: Myke Bates, Eric Hanna, Hanson Meyer, Elliott Colla
---------------------------------


Sticker from Bate Skates
While I had been living in Big Bear in the Southern California Mountains during the late 1970's, Myke Bates was raised not too far away in the desert community of Palm Springs. Myke’s family owned a skateboard shop called “Bates Skates” and he took advantage of the close relationship between the skateboard and punk sub-cultures to network and help facilitate punk rock shows there in Palm Springs.

Myke Bates playing with Black Flag in Palm Springs, 1981
Myke played in a number of early Palm Springs bands including Target 13, Funeral Information and Subservice. He was able to write songs, play guitar and he could also sing. Although it is only a vague memory for me, Myke later reminded me that we had met for the first time at the Black Flag show at the Rumours Club in Palm Springs in the spring of 1981 when he was playing in the opening band Funeral Information. He also played guitar with Black Flag that night as a second guitarist for a song or two. It was also just prior this time period that he had co-written a song while in Target 13 called “Rodney on the ROQ” which had just been released and began to play on KROQ. I remember Rodney Bingenheimer playing it every Saturday and Sunday night at the beginning of his radio show at 8:00pm.

Rodney on the ROQ, Volume 2
I moved from Big Bear to Newport Beach late in the summer of 1981 and settled in quickly meeting some of the Newport and Huntington Beach punks and going to see Black Flag, China White and the Dickies headline shows at the Cuckoo’s Nest in Costa Mesa. By January 1982, I had started the band “Moral Sin” with Eric Hanna, Dave Marriott and Scott Brandon and we had played a total of three shows by the middle of March that year.

Early Subservice Flyer from 1981
It was at this time in March that I was re-introduced to Myke Bates by my then girlfriend, Allison Blumberg. Myke had just moved to Newport Beach from Palm Springs and was living temporarily at the Bayview Hotel which was located on the Balboa Peninsula right next to the Balboa Island Ferry and also near the market where I worked. He told me that he knew a lot of punk musicians in established bands including, Black Flag, Circle One, Sin 34 and a number of others and he was eager to get a band going and start practicing some of the new songs that he had written.

We bonded immediately and started hanging out in Balboa regularly talking about our favorite bands and the shows that we had been to. I began to think that he might be a good addition to Moral Sin because we had lost our original singer and we were having problems finding a good, committed front man. But all Myke talked about was playing guitar and didn’t seem as interested in being a singer. We already had a guitarist and I knew that Myke didn’t have a guitar amp… so up to this point, I had put off asking him to join the band.

It was the second week of April when Myke called me very excited. He told me that Greg Ginn of Black Flag gave him an amplifier to use. I couldn’t believe it and was genuinely excited for him and I was even thinking in the back of my mind that maybe he might be able to play guitar with our band after all. 

But as quickly as he had the amplifier, he lost it. It happened in the early Monday morning hours of April 12, 1982 that a fire broke out in the Bayview Hotel where Myke was staying. People woke in their sleep to the smell of smoke and dashed out of the hotel in their pajamas. Myke, alongside
Bayview Hotel in Balboa on Fire in the Early Morning Hours of April 12, 1982
everyone else, ran out of the hotel leaving all of his possessions behind. At the time he said that all you could hear were people screaming and running towards the exits, so his immediate instinct was to get out of the building as quickly as possible. Once he made his way through the hotel lobby doors and into the street, he realized that much of the hotel wasn’t visibly on fire yet. And when a woman was screaming that she still had a pet inside, Myke ran back in for the woman’s small dog. After he made his second trip out of the building and returned the small pet to the woman, he thought that he might have enough time to rescue some of his belongings but just as he decided to "chance it", the fire department showed up and wouldn’t let anyone back in the building. He was forced to just stand there and watch the hotel, with all of his possessions, burn to the ground. I remember him taking me by the hotel the next day, and from Palm Street he pointed up to the burned out wall and window of his room where you could see the side of the Marshall guitar amp badly burned out with the four Black Flag bars visibly spray painted on the side. Like most of the other hotel guests, he didn’t have any form of insurance and the best the Bayview Hotel’s insurance could do was to get him a room down the street at the Bay Shores Inn and give him several hundred dollars to make up for a portion of what he lost in the fire. After buying clothes and food, all he had left was enough money to buy a Gibson “Mini-Paul” guitar. It was a nice cream colored guitar with rounded edges, but he was back to square one in regards to an amplifier.

It was less than a week later that Myke, although a little depressed about the fire, started to press me about starting a new band with myself and Eric. He told me that someway, somehow, he had to get an amplifier because royalties were owed to him by Posh Boy Records for the Rodney on the ROQ song, and he wanted to use the royalties to put out a new record with his next band on the Posh Boy label. This all sounded great to me and appeared to be the real deal. So at that point I told him that maybe he could join Moral Sin as a second guitarist and we could give it a try with his songs. I did tell him that nothing could be done until I had the approval of the other band members. He quickly agreed and said that he would get to work on trying to find another amplifier. 

I immediately mentioned the prospect of Myke joining the band to the rest of the guys and the idea was received with mixed feelings. Eric thought it was a great idea and that it would be a move in the right direction, but Dave was not so optimistic. After I pressed the issue, Dave reluctantly agreed and I was off to break the news to Myke.

I explained the delicate nature of his joining the band and that Dave was not real excited about the idea. I also told Myke that since Dave was a good friend of mine I didn’t want to do anything to jeopardize my friendship with him. Myke was amiable and said that he would sing initially and that he and Dave could share guitar responsibilities… We had another friend named Paul Thiel who said that he might be interested in singing and so we invited him to our first practice. 

The only real band equipment I had besides the Fender Musicmaster bass I had bought in March was a small 15 watt practice amp, a Rickenbacker 2 channel amp I used for a synthesizer I had and a couple of Les Paul copy guitars. Since Myke didn’t have a guitar amp and I didn’t have a bass amp, I decided that in the interim, we could both plug into the one Rickenbacker amp with each of us using a separate channel.

The first practice happened on April 24, 1982 and was a little disjointed to say the least. We couldn’t all meet at the same time so Paul, Myke and I met early in the afternoon and went through some songs together. Afterwards, I had to go to work so Myke and Paul then met with Eric that evening and jammed together. After I finished work later that night, Myke shared with me that he thought Eric was an amazing drummer and was really excited to get this new band off the ground. We practiced one more time before the end of the month, but Paul decided that it was too much work and didn’t make it past the second practice. During this second practice with just Eric, Myke and I, we recorded our first four songs on a small tape recorder. For some reason Dave wasn’t at either of the first two practices but things went really well and sounded full with only the three of us.

Every time I went to a punk show, it pumped me full of enthusiasm for getting our band off the ground. I wanted to be on stage performing and creating all the energy that surrounded a band’s live performance. So every opportunity I had, I went to see my favorite groups play. The Sex Pistols were one of my favorite bands, but after their break-up following Sid Vicious’ death, the closest you could get was to see John Lydon perform in PIL. That was… until the Professionals did a tour of the USA. I had never heard of the Professionals at the time, but some of my friends told me that Steve Jones and Paul Cook of the Sex Pistols were in the band, so we had to go. I had a friend named John Liechty who was an amazing guitarist that played with the ska band, Secret Service. He had an appreciation for all music and said he would drive me and my friends Hayden Thais and Scott Murdock up to the show.

John Liechty's Car
   
On April 30th we made our way up to Florentine Gardens in John’s car which was this bizarre little European vehicle that looked like a mail delivery truck. It had a large checkerboard paint job and it stuck out wherever he went, but it got us to Los Angeles and back. 

The show was amazing… CH3 opened the show and they were great. KROQ had been playing their song “You Make Me Feel Cheap” on the radio constantly and they did a great live rendition. They were followed by the Flesh Eaters who had John Doe and DJ Bonebreak from the band X in it as well as one of the Alvin brothers from the Blasters. The Professionals came on as the headliner and the crowd went crazy both in the pit and from the stage doing dives. I did a number of stage dives as well until I took flight off of one of the monitors and came down inconveniently between the bodies below and landed directly on my elbow which immediately swelled up to the size of a large orange… Fortunately, I didn’t break it. 

On May 1st we had our first full practice with Dave. Dave was learning Myke’s songs and was a little agitated as Myke had seemingly taken control over the band. But he bit his lip and we made it successfully through our set. 

That night, Myke and I went to the Balboa Theater where two films by the band “The Who” were playing… “The Kids Are Alright” and “Quadrophenia”. We knew the guy in the projection booth and he played our tape during the intermission figuring a nice healthy dose of punk rock would be good for a crowd full of Mods. As it turned out we knew a lot of the people in the crowd and we actually got rave reviews. Someone we knew brought a friend from KROQ and he told us that we should contact Rodney Bingenheimer and that our music was definitely up his alley. He suggested that we take our tape up to the KROQ station in Pasadena, knock on the back door on a Saturday or Sunday night and hand it directly to Rodney.

The main questions that always seem to come up are "How did we come up with the name Uniform Choice for the band?"... and, when was the exact moment that we started to call the band by that name? Well, in the beginning of May we continued to practice together and in addition to several songs Myke had brought from Subservice, he and I had started to collaborate on songs; I had written some riffs, and he added lyrics. We also at this point discussed changing the name of the band from Moral Sin to Uniform Choice. This is where we have to rewind about a year and go back to when Myke was still in Palm Springs working at his skateboard shop. While working there one day, Pete Nelson from Target 13 was hanging out killing time and without a word grabbed a pen and paper on the counter and scrawled on it "You Are The Uniform Choice" with an arrow pointed at Myke. To this day, Myke doesn't know why he did it, it just happened. And although he was a member of Subservice at that time, Myke embraced the name that Pete came up with and knew that if and when he started a new band, it would be called "Uniform Choice". He actually liked the name so much he wrote a song called Uniform Choice while he was still in Subservice. Once Subservice had disbanded in early 1982 and Myke moved to Newport, he was determined to find new musicians and form a band that would be called by that name. When Myke first introduced the name to me, we discussed how it applied to us and our band, and
the way we saw it, the name Uniform Choice stood for two different ideals. One was a political understanding and the other was our right to freedom of expression. The first ideal had to do with the Cold War, and back then, everyone thought that Russia was going to “push the button” and we would see a nuclear war. Although we were not happy with our existing government, we knew that being under Russian communist rule would have been worse. We were choosing the uniform of the lesser of two evils as far as we were concerned and one of the first songs we played was our theme song “Uniform Choice” that directly addressed battling communist rule. The second ideal was that under the American constitution, we had the right to freedom of speech and we felt this also included the right to self expression. We knew that we, as punks, were being denied this right and we were openly discriminated against by everyone from local law enforcement to the general public. We felt that we had the right dress anyway we wanted and do what we wanted to do… in essence, as “Americans”, we had the right to choose any uniform we desired and the uniform we chose at that time was that which was found in the punk sub-culture... I know... a little corny, but at that age we thought we were really political.
   

Since Dave and I were close friends, it was strange that he wasn’t showing up to our practices and he was seemingly becoming more distant from the project. I think he may have felt “slighted” and it became obvious that he was looking for other bands to play with as he asked me on May 5th to practice with another band that had him and another high school friend named Morgan Livingston in it. After Dave and I practiced with the other band, he took me up to Eric’s house where we all practiced with Uniform Choice until the end of the night. Myke drove me home while Eric talked to Dave and it was after that point that Dave was no longer in the band.

On May 12th Eric and I decided to go to see TSOL, Flipper, the Mau Maus and the Abandoned play at the Country Club in Reseda. Eric said that he would take as many people as he could get into his sky blue Chevy Vega that he had spray painted with polka dots in a variety of colors. Every time he pulled up, you would expect to see a clown exit the car. At school the day of the show, we were asking all of our friends to see who wanted to go, but because it was a school night we were only able to convince a girl named Gail to go and Eric’s friend, Pat Dyson, who he was teaching how to play drums. Pat had recently started playing with a punk band called Plain Wrap and it was a little less than a year after this Country Club show that Eric quit and Pat made the move to also start playing as the second drummer of Uniform Choice.

The show was awesome and was full of craziness including multiple fights and guys doing dives from the top of the PA speaker stacks into the crowd below. Pat Dyson remembered that somebody dumped a bucket of water over Tony Cadena and he was so pissed off about it, he refused to play… so although all the members of the Abandoned were there, they cancelled just before playing. TSOL was good as usual but in my opinion, Flipper stole the show. Ted came out on a dark stage under a lone spotlight, plugged his guitar into his amp, struck a perfectly tuned chord and then walked up to the microphone in the middle of the stage and said, “Hold on… I need to tune my guitar”. He carefully took his guitar off pulling the strap over his head and while looking upwards, crouched down and then launched his guitar up some 25 feet into the air where it came plummeting down with a crash onto the stage. The guitar screamed and moaned with feedback while he gently picked it up again. He then turned it face down to the floor and hurled it across the stage so that it slid like a sled on the strings until it made a sudden impact with the bass amplifier. The guitar wailed continuously with feedback as if it were in terrible pain while Ted slowly made his way across the stage to retrieve it. At this point he gently picked the guitar up again, this time pulling the strap back over his head as he walked calmly up to the microphone. All the while, the rest of the band had taken their positions under the cover of darkness awaiting Ted’s signal. He strummed a terribly out of tune chord and then softly announced, “Okay, we’re ready to go”. All the lights came up on the stage and the band started their set. It was pure poetic chaos!

My Fender Bass Amplifier
By the middle of May I had saved enough money from working as an apprentice butcher at Balboa Market to buy a Fender Bassman amplifier for $250 from our local record and music shop on Balboa Island. It was nice to finally have some bottom end sound with volume and not to be restricted by the thin sounding second channel of the Rickenbacker amp. Myke was between jobs and he still didn’t have a guitar amp so I continued to let him use the Rickenbacker and it actually sounded pretty good with his guitar. With all of our equipment taken care of, we were practicing regularly at Eric’s house in his bedroom. His room was very small and almost completely red. It had crushed red velvet wall paper and large red velvet drapes. With bunk beds in his room, there was just enough room for his drums and our amps. Looking up in the middle of his room, there was a large hole in his ceiling that ran up about four feet to the roof where there was a skylight. He had a realistic mannequin hanging by a noose there so that when you walked through the door all you saw were two legs coming through the ceiling… Every time I walked through the door it reminded me of the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland. 

With only three of us in the band at the time, it was easy to coordinate practices and so we practiced all the time at Eric’s house. Myke, since he had sang previously in other bands, decided to sing for the time being while playing guitar. I even sang a few songs and we were a power trio while shopping for a
Early Song List from Band Practice
new lead singer. During this time, I borrowed a 4-Track recorder from a school friend of mine named Bill Nord and we were able to start recording some of our songs including the song “My Life”.

After a little over a month of writing songs and practicing, we had a dozen original songs under our belt including: Uniform Choice (Theme), Non-Forgotten Hero, Anti-Fascism, Filthy Rich, Religion is Recruiting, My Life, War is Here, Self Respect, Light Weight, On the Front Line, The World Evolves and Don’t Take the Car which was our song speaking out against drinking and driving through a satirical spin-off of a PSA commercial that was running on local television at the time. We had tried practicing with two of our previous singers that month, Paul Thiel and Scott Brandon. But as it turned out, both of them were still undecided and neither one of them wanted to commit to the band and so we found ourselves still looking for a singer as we entered the month of June. 

First Flyer Drawn in Pencil for June 5, 1982
At the beginning of June, Myke managed to get a job at Balboa Hardware which was welcome news. Besides buying him food, Eric and I had paid Myke’s rent for the month because he didn’t have any money. So aside from paying us back, he was also able to rent a small house a little further down the street right on the boardwalk near the Balboa Pier at B Street. The place was really old but you couldn’t beat the location… You could literally walk out of his place and onto the sand.
  
It was at this time that I had approached a schoolmate named Elliott Colla about singing for us. Elliott and I had some mutual friends and I had heard him guest DJ on KUCI’s college radio station where he spun a lot of punk and otherwise good underground music. Elliott seemed upbeat about the prospect and on June 4th he came to his first practice with us. Elliott had a decent voice, good tone and excellent timing. It seemed that we had found our guy. We were supposed to play our first show at Balboa Theater on June 5th but we cancelled it so we could focus on getting Elliott in shape for a real debut of the band. We practiced with him the entire month of June and recorded a number of songs with him. 

Lft: Hanson and Elliott. Right: Myke. Lower (LtoR): Elliott, Hanson, Eric and Myke.
Since we had started to practice so much with Elliott, we decided to give Eric’s parents and siblings a little reprieve. It wasn’t practical to practice at my place on the Island, so we switched between Eric’s house on Spyglass Hill in Corona Del Mar and Myke’s place down at the beach in Balboa.
  
In the middle of June, one of Myke’s former "Subservice" band mates from Palm Springs named Herb Lienau came out to visit and told us we should play out in the desert. So Myke worked with him to make the preliminary arrangements for us to play out there on the 4th of July.  We also started to look around our area to see what venues were available where we could play locally. The Cuckoo’s Nest had been closed down for about six months but had reopened as the Concert Factory sometime in the late spring of 1982. Myke and I talked to the owner, and armed with a cassette recording of one of our practices, convinced them to give us a gig there on July 6th.
 
 My Original Ticket
We had been practicing non-stop all month, and just so we could get amped up before our first gig as Uniform Choice, Eric and I decided to go see a couple of shows. We went to the Whisky on June 25th to see Fear play and then one week later, we went to see the Dead Kennedys, Bad Religion, the Descendents, RF-7 and Crucifix play on July 2nd at the Barn in San Pedro. 

FEAR at the Whisky A Go-Go - June 25, 1982
The Whisky was a great show and FEAR played with their early line-up of Lee Ving, Derf Scratch, Philo Cramer and Spit Stix… all the same guys that appeared in the movie, “The Decline of Western Civilization”. I had bought their album "The Record" that had just been released and this show was a part of their local tour to help boost record sales. They did their usual teasing and provoking of the crowd and everyone, me included, spit at the band. As it turned out, this was one of the last shows that Derf Scratch played with the band before Flea came in to replace him and play with the band for a couple of years before moving on to become part of the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Dead Kennedys at The Barn July 2, 1982
The show the next week at the Barn is one that is burned in my memory because it was my first Dead Kennedy’s show. It was a fairly large venue inside with a balcony that ran down the entire side from front to back. I don’t remember how the first two bands were and I only vaguely remember the Descendent’s set, but Bad Religion did a great job. I always liked their theme song as well as their other songs I had heard on the “Public Service” compilation I had bought at the time. I managed to get on stage a number of times and do my share of stage dives. When the Dead Kennedys played, the place erupted. Everyone rushed the stage to do dives and several times during the show there were so many people on stage you couldn’t see the band. Jello Biafra didn’t seem to mind and encouraged everyone to have fun. However at one point he stopped singing and shouted for the band to stop playing.
My Original Ticket From the Dead Kennedys Show
Once the band had stopped and silence fell, he pointed up to the balcony. He singled out a guy with a swastika armband and announced that they weren’t going to play unless he was escorted out of the building. At that point a small group of punks mobbed him and although he tried to resist and fight back, they overpowered him and threw him over the edge of the balcony. Everyone in the club had a view of what was happening and so the people below cleared out of the way so the only thing that broke his fall was the floor. I lost sight of him once he hit the ground but you could see the commotion and bouncers making their way through the crowd toward the downed concert goer. You could see and hear the jeers of the crowd as the bouncers carried him towards the exit. Jello then asked the crowd in the back if he was gone… when he heard that the guy was out of the building, he shouted “1, 2, 3, 4”… and the band launched into Nazi Punks Fuck Off! The place went crazy and I remember the bouncers were doing everything they could to keep things under control. They had given up on trying to keep people off the stage and finally resorted to just holding the PA stacks so they wouldn’t topple over. The show ended as a tremendous success, and we headed back to Newport Beach to get ready for the rest of our weekend.

                      Bad Religion on stage.                                             Me getting ready for a dive back into the crowd.

             Dead Kennedys... Me just to the left of Jello.                    Everyone rushed the stage... me on the left, Jello on right

While coming off the high of the show the previous night, we packed our clothes and all of the equipment for our road trip to Palm Springs to play our first show as Uniform Choice. We made the drive there that afternoon and stayed with one of Myke’s friends that night where we met a lot of people from the desert scene. 

Since Myke’s family owned a skateboard shop in Palm Springs, Myke had met all the skater kids and local punks while growing up there. He had apparently helped to coordinate some of the “desert shows” where they would set up a stage in the middle of the desert with a generator and have bands play for all the kids far away from local law enforcement. Myke would go to shows in Los Angeles in 1981 and recruit bands to come out and play these desert shows. Sin 34 and Circle One were a couple of the bands he had arranged to perform there and we would later reconnect with them to play some shows in and around the greater Orange County and Los Angeles areas.

The next day was the 4th of July and we played the “desert show” with a local Palm Springs band, Mutual Hatred, whose members included Myke’s friend Sean Wheeler (Throwrag), and a few others who we had met the night before. Our show went well and we were well received by the local desert punks. Afterwards we packed our equipment and enjoyed the rest of the party before we made our way to one of Myke’s friend’s places to sleep.

Early Uniform Choice Flyer - July 6, 1982
The next day after the gig, the guys in Mutual Hatred caravanned back to Newport Beach with us so they could play with us and Sin 34 at our first Orange County gig at the Concert Factory on July 6th. It was kind of funny because Metallica had just played one of their very first shows there a few days earlier on July 3rd. Lars Ulrich was the same age as Eric and I and we all went to Corona Del Mar high school together. At the time, neither one of us even knew that he played drums. 

Original Ticket for the show
I was excited for our first show there at the Concert Factory because the last time I was in that building, it was the Cuckoo’s Nest. Within a couple weeks of the show, we had posted flyers everywhere and had passed out tickets to all of our friends. Unfortunately, we didn’t follow up with the owner because of our trip to Palm Springs, and unknown to us the owner cancelled our show. When we arrived at the club, the doors were closed with nobody there to open them. So we, along with the guys from Mutual Hatred, ended up going to Myke’s place in Balboa and just hung out that night on the beach. I'm not sure what happened to Sin 34 and I don't recall even seeing them there in the Concert Factory parking lot before the show.

The "Lotsa Dancing" Flyer - Aug 7, 1982
The Concert Factory decided to “make things right” because of the cancellation of our last show so they scheduled us for another show on August 7th. We made even more flyers this time… and in a variety of colors… Passing them out to everyone we knew and dropping stacks off at the local record stores. The police had apparently been putting pressure on The Concert Factory, feeling that it was becoming the Cuckoo’s Nest again, so The Concert Factory told us that our crowd needed to behave themselves… No “Slam Dancing”! Apparently the “No Dancing” law was still in effect from the previous year’s city council decision when they were trying to put the Cuckoo’s Nest out of business. We were pissed off and couldn’t believe that we were being dictated to as to what our crowd could and couldn’t do… so we spitefully gave the Costa Mesa Police Department a big middle finger by adding to the bottom of the flyer, “Lotsa Dancing”. 

Original Uniform Choice Ticket for The Concert Factory
We spent much of the month of July practicing and adding a few more songs to our set. It was also around this time that I first met Brent Turner in the Balboa Fun Zone. He had moved out from Phoenix, Arizona without knowing anyone or even where he was going to stay and he had resorted to sleeping in his car. My dad was always on business trips for weeks at a time so I told Brent he could sleep on our couch for the time being. 

Brent Turner 1982
Brent was an amazing bass player and had an appreciation for all kinds of music including punk. Before my musical taste had started to gravitate towards punk, I had listened to a lot of progressive rock and Brent knew it all. In addition, he could play it effortlessly. Just for fun, I would give him a key and a time signature and he would just make up a bass line on the spot and play it while counting the time signature. He had a project he had put together in Phoenix called “The Irving Thunderbutt Project” and from the recordings I heard, it was down a similar vein as Frank Zappa. In terms of punk music, he told me about some of the Phoenix bands he had seen and JFA was one of his favorites. It was at this point that we decided to try something really different… we added Brent to Uniform Choice as a second bass player.


We made the debut of this different line-up at our August 7, 1982 show at the Concert Factory with friends of ours who were in the band “The Tailspinners”. Personally, I felt it was a little awkward and didn’t really work, but we were willing to work on it and try it again at our next show. And as The Concert Factory considered the show a success, they booked us to play with another band called “The Factory” two weeks later on August 21st.

Uniform Choice flyer for Aug 21, 1982 at the Concert Factory
We were excited that we were asked back and didn’t refuse the gig even though we knew that Eric had to leave on the 16th to work on a project in Utah for two weeks. We had limited time and didn’t want to cancel our own show so we recruited drummer, Scott Woods, from the local band “Burnt Party Host” to play drums for us, and being used to playing similar fast beats, we knew he would do a great job.
  
But when we showed up to play the show on August 21st, the club in its usual unorganized fashion, mixed up the bill and double booked our slot with a heavy metal band called “Vengeance”. Once again we were unable to play the show but we stuck around anyway just to make fun of the metal nightmare that unfolded on stage. We and our punk friends mocked the band and called ourselves the “Vengeance Army”. We even asked them for stickers and autographs… It was hilarious as they thought we were serious.

Original Ticket for Uniform Choice - Aug 26, 1982
Again, The Concert Factory apologized and promised us they would rebook us and put us on the bill for a good show. They came through, and booked us with the Dischords and Shattered Faith, but the show ended up happening only five days later on August 26th. They gave us tickets to pre-sell a couple of days before the show and those friends of ours who we could reach came to the show to again witness the spectacle of us playing with Brent as a second bass player. After the show, I was relieved when Brent decided that the “two bass” thing wasn’t really working and although we stayed close friends, he decided not to perform with us after that. 

Uniform Choice Flyer - Sep 8, 1982
By the end of August, I had finally saved enough money to buy myself some transportation, a 1973 VW Van. It was a welcome convenience and made it so much easier to transport all the equipment to practices and gigs. As for Uniform Choice, we continued to practice and booked our next show at the Concert Factory on September 8th with Shattered Faith and the Panty Shields.

First Uniform Choice T-Shirt Logo
Before the show, Eric and I decided that we needed to make Uniform Choice t-shirts. After doing some research we found that it was going to be really expensive to pay a company to make a small number of shirts for us. So we resorted to the next best thing… stencils and spray paint. I fashioned a logo and we cut it out of a manila folder. Then we used stencils to make the words. We added the phrase “Do what you want” under the logo. And voila! We had shirts. They actually came out fairly good and I wore mine to that show the night of September 8th. Since we had spray paint left over, we also decided to paint our logo on a large white sheet that we used from this point forward as our backdrop on stage.
Original Backdrop made from a Bed Sheet and Spray Paint

The shows were becoming increasingly more violent and this one was no different. By the time Shattered Faith went on, the club filled up with wanna be “Oi Boys” from a local punk gang called “The League”.
Brent's Artwork on the back of a U.C. Flyer
They all had shaved heads or “fin-head” mohawks like Waddy from the Exploited and wore Doc Martin boots with Levis and thin suspenders. They spent the night running through the crowd throwing punches indiscriminately at others who were not from their extended group. A lot of my friends who came to see us ended up getting beat up or otherwise badly injured. Brent was there taking it all in from the side of the stage and afterwards at my house, he drew a cartoon of one of the Oi Boys. I thought it was a fairly accurate depiction. 

AKAI 4 Track Recorder
In September, Myke and I decided that with so many local bands releasing records, we wanted to get serious and create a decent demo so that we could try for a record deal and release one of our own. Besides, we had enough songs for an album and we had been recording nearly every practice already. Although those recordings were mostly limited to a cassette recorder, we had also been experimenting with the 4 Track I had borrowed. But we really didn’t know what we were doing in terms of setting up the microphones, proximity of the equipment for the best sound, and then engineering the recording using the process of bouncing tracks on the recorder. So we enlisted the help of Scott Woods’ band mate, Tom Tom, from Burnt Party Host to help us out. He was a good friend and had his own recording equipment as well as a 4 Track that was almost identical to the one I had. He had recorded their band under the studio name of “Orange Peel Studios” and their demo sounded like they had recorded it at a professional studio. 

Original Orange Peel Studios Song Track Listing Sheet
So with the help of Tom, on September 18, 1982, we set things up in Eric’s living room for recording. By the end of the night, we had laid down tracks for five
Uniform Choice Recording Session on Sept. 18, 1982
songs: Uniform Choice (Theme), Non Forgotten Hero, Religion is Recruiting, War Is Here and Don’t Take the Car. The first song, Uniform Choice (Theme) was the song we used to get all the levels right and by the time we finished it, it didn’t really sound that good. But the other songs showed some promise. Tom told us not to worry, that this was only our first attempt and that it was just to familiarize us with the recording process. We could set it all up again and do everything better next time and even record more songs if we wanted to.

Two of the songs that we recorded are on YouTube. Just click the links below to open a new window and watch the videos.

Uniform Choice - Don't Take The Car

Uniform Choice - War Is Here
Posh Boy Logo

Optimistic with our first recording attempt, Myke immediately tried to contact the owner of Posh Boy Records, Robbie Fields. We wanted to arrange to get our demo to him so we could make a proper recording and release our first record. Myke figured he could convince Robbie to work with us in exchange for royalties owed for the Rodney on the ROQ song he had written in 1980 which appeared on Posh Boy’s “Rodney on the ROQ, Vol. 2” album. Robbie Fields proved to be very difficult to contact and I had assumed that he was dodging Myke’s calls possibly because he thought Myke was looking for money. We had heard at the time that Posh Boy Records hadn’t paid some of its “signed” artists and so some of the bands were upset with the record company. Ultimately, I can't remember exactly why we couldn't reach him... whether we had a number that no longer worked, or the phone just rang with no answer, or if we left a message with someone with no returned call... I do know that we finally resorted to meeting with
Rodney Bingenheimer
Rodney Bingenheimer to see if he could help us out. So we drove up to LA in Myke’s small red pick-up truck to a club where Rodney had promoted a show and was the DJ in between the bands. All I remember is that the headlining act was a new wave band called “Unit 3” that was made up of a father, a mother and their young 8 year old daughter named Venus. I remember thinking it was horrible but we suffered through it in order to talk to Rodney. Finally, we were able to get up to the booth and talk to him. Myke explained that we were having difficulties contacting Posh Boy and was there anything that he could do to help us out. Rodney just said that he didn’t want to get involved but to let him know when we had our record out so that he could play it on KROQ. We stayed there with Rodney for a little while in the booth but then finally left to head home with no ground gained.

Concert Factory Show - Sep 26, 1982
The next week on September 22nd we were scheduled to play with China White at the Concert Factory. But several days before, China White had to cancel and then Shattered Faith and the Dischords were added to the bill. Although we really wanted to play with China White, we were happy playing with Shattered Faith again as they were always cool with us and Myke was friends with Kerry Martinez their guitarist. The night got started late but it was epic and we all agreed it was the best that we had seen since the Cuckoo’s Nest. It was a packed house with a good pit going in front of the stage with plenty of kids doing stage dives. The only problem was that we were the last band and apparently the owner had been getting complaints from the neighbors in the area about shows going too late… so under pressure from the police department, he had to shut things down early and we were not allowed to play. Sounding like a broken record, he apologized and said that he would do the same line up four nights later on Sunday, September 26th and we would play for sure. This time in addition to hanging out with Shattered Faith, we also befriended the Dischords. Their drummer, Scott Kellems, gave me a copy of their EP called “Dirty Habits” that Rodney had just started to play on KROQ and their song “The Truth Comes Out” is still a favorite of mine.

Just after the Shattered Faith and Dischords show, Elliott decided that after four months he wanted to quit the band and so we were on the hunt again for a new singer. Within a few days I had enlisted Eric Whittick who was a surfer I knew from the Balboa area and he lived in a small apartment in the Balboa Fun Zone. His room had a sliding glass door that actually opened right on to the boardwalk between the Fun Zone and the Pavilion. 

Eric Whittick joined the band the same day that we had a gig in my old home town of Big Bear at the end of September. We were going to play a party up there for a bunch of my friends that I had left behind the year before. We piled all the equipment into my VW bus with Myke, Eric Whittick and I and Brent and Eric our drummer rode with another friend of ours, Dave Shaw. It’s a good thing that Dave drove as well because half way up the mountain, the fan belt in my bus broke and we were stranded. Dave and Eric drove back down the mountain to San Bernardino and bought a new fan belt. As it turned out, it was not an exact fit, but we were able to limp up to the gig with my poor over laden bus hauling all the cargo.

We arrived at the house and the party was already in full swing with a number of familiar faces including several girls who didn’t really give me the time of day before, but now they were all starry eyed. Brent brought up his bass equipment as well and decided to play a second bass again just for the hell of it. We all had a great time and the party went all night. A girl that I had always had a crush on ended up glued to me all night... And Eric Whittick, Myke and a bunch of others ended up in my van for all kinds of other shenanigans… to this day that VW is referred to as “the Orgasm Van”.

The day after we returned to Newport from Big Bear, Brent Turner announced that he was going back to Phoenix for a while but promised he would be back soon. Brent had stayed at my house for a good part of the summer until my dad came back from one of his trips and found that Brent had all of his stuff including dirty clothes all over the house. That was the last straw for my dad and Brent had to go. He was back to living in his car again and in the interim he found an occasional couch at either Myke’s or Eric’s place. Brent was unable to find a job or a place to live permanently so on September 27th he left California to move back to Arizona. It was only a temporary move until he got things together to make a second attempt at living in Orange County in December. The next time, he was successful and ended up working for the London Exchange on Newport Blvd. where he befriended the Vandals and later ended up playing all the bass tracks for them on their album “When in Rome, Do As the Vandals”.

First Version of the Ukrainian Cultural Center Show Flyer
During the first two weeks of October, we practiced continually with our new singer Eric, as we needed him to get up to speed so that we could get back to recording and release a record. Myke also wanted to pursue other gigs and started making some phone calls. He contacted his old friend Mike Vallejo from Circle One and told him that he wanted to meet up and introduce him to his new band “Uniform Choice”. Mike V. told us to meet him at the T.S.O.L. and Flipper show on October 15th at the Ukrainian Culture Center on Melrose Avenue in Hollywood. 

Myke received a phone call the day of the Ukrainian Cultural Center show that his brother was in jail. We called the jail trying to see what needed to be done in order to get him released and Myke was an overly anxious wreck.They told us that he should be out soon and that they would call us when he was released.
Second Version of the Ukrainian Culture Center Show Flyer
We were at my house anxiously waiting all afternoon for the phone call to come from the jail, and had just resigned ourselves to the fact that we were not going to make it to meet Mike Vallejo when the phone finally rang at 8:00pm. We raced down to the jail, picked up Myke’s brother, and then sprinted up to LA to meet Mike V.

Mike Vallejo was really cool and he told us that he was helping to put on a monster show at the end of the month in Whittier at the T-Bird Roller Dome. He told us that a band had cancelled and that there may be a slot for us in the show. He then told us he would come down and see our band practice at Eric’s place the following week and let us know for sure… and then if it was a go, he would inform us as to what slot we had. Once we had business taken care of, we turned our attention to the bands inside the Ukrainian Cultural Center. We had been talking outside during the earlier bands Pretty Ugly and the Panty Shields but we did get to see Flipper and T.S.O.L. in front of a sold out crowd. 

Flipper was good as usual with their slower paced industrial punk sound, but T.S.O.L. stole the show. They worked the crowd into a frenzy. Toward the end of the set, Jack pulled me up on stage to sing Superficial Love while he ran off to use the bathroom. After the song, he came back on stage at which point I tossed him the microphone and then ran and launched myself off one of the monitors into the crowd below. It was a great night!

The next week Eric Whittick quit the band. But Myke ended up driving to Pico Rivera anyway to pick up Mike Vallejo and one of his friends to bring them to the practice at our drummer’s house. We all crammed into Eric’s small bedroom and Myke, Eric and I went through our set with Myke and I both singing. Mike V. told us it sounded good and that we would be playing Saturday, October 30th on the same bill with Black Flag, CH3, Bad Religion and a number of other west coast punk bands. We were excited as this was our first big show and we counted down the days. After our practice, Myke took Mike V. and his buddy back to Pico Rivera but ran out of gas about 10 or 15 miles short of where Mike V. lived. I can’t remember how Myke got gas and finally made it back to Newport but Mike V. and his friend ended up walking the rest of the way home. 

T-Bird Roller Dome Show - October 1982
Since the show was set up as a punk rock festival, there were bands playing over the course of two days inside the T-Bird Roller Dome. I was planning on going to the Friday night part of the event to see the Circle Jerks and especially Circle One since Mike Vallejo helped us out, but my VW bus was in the shop, and without transportation, I ended up staying home. It had been broken down ever since the Big Bear gig as my replacement fan belt we installed on the way up didn’t work real well and I blew the engine. 

The next day, I was up early and started to pack up everything for the big gig at the T-Bird Rollerdome. Myke drove up on his own in his pick up and Eric came by and picked me up in his Chevy Vega wagon (now spray painted black with white zebra stripes) and the two of us drove up together. The bands were scheduled to start in the morning and play all day and into the night. There were 24 bands scheduled to play on Saturday and we were in the middle of the pack as the 12th or 13th band to play. The early bands each got a half hour to set up, play and then get off the stage. If you were lucky, you would get a 20 minute set of actually playing music but we didn’t care, this was a chance to play in front of a large crowd with a lot of notable punk rock royalty present. I think we were naively optimistic when we made our set list before we went to the show because it was fairly long and we ended up having to trim it down once we got there getting rid of any of the slower or longer songs.

Uniform Choice Set List from the Roller Dome Show
The venue was a large auditorium that was the home of a local ladies roller derby team known as the T-Birds. I had seen them on UHF Channel 52 occasionally but had never been to the Roller Dome before to see them live. The auditorium had no stationary chairs and only a roller derby track in the middle of the vast, open room. The track was in the shape of an oval that was banked and had high inclines in the turns. The stage was unique to say the least as it was a massive riser set up in the center of the oval roller derby track. During some of the later performances, a number of punks got onto the track and rode bicycles and skateboards around it. At one point somebody introduced a couple of bowling balls into the mix and an impromptu game of “Roller Ball” broke out with bicycles towing skateboarders with bowling balls who were trying to “take out” others going around the track. It was awesome!  

We went on just before the band Crankshaft at about 4:00 in the afternoon. It had started to rain outside just before we began so everyone came inside to escape the weather. We played a quick set of about ten songs but we were well received and we felt good about the show. Immediately after we finished our last song, we rushed all of our equipment off the stage so that Crankshaft could get on and get started. They were cool guys and even though I hadn’t heard them before, they were one of my favorite bands that played that day.

The next two weeks after the show we tried a new singer named Jeff Webb who was a friend of mine. He was a comedic singer but really didn’t fit our image. So we continued our search...
During the course of the year, the Mod and Ska movement had been taking off and so seeing Mods riding scooters around the southland became more prevalent. Many of them would come down to Newport Beach for scooter rallies and parties. Since we lived and worked there, we met a lot of the Mods and even though we were punks, they invited us to some of their parties. At least they were easier to get along with than the Oi Boys who were always looking for a fight.

In mid-November, Myke and I went to a Mod party where we met a girl named Jennifer Harper. We talked with her all night about music, and even though she was only 14 or 15 years old, she knew everything there was to know about punk rock. Two days later she was at our practice to audition for the band, and afterwards we all agreed that we sounded overwhelmingly like an offshoot of X-Ray Spex and welcomed her as our newest addition. 

Hanson and Jenny at UC Band Practice
Just after we had met Jennifer, the band played an already scheduled show at the Concert Factory on November 19th (no flyer or ticket stub exists for this show). She had just started to practice with us but wasn’t ready to perform yet so it was just Myke, Eric and I on stage with Myke and I singing the songs. We even did a version of “Oh Bondage… Up Yours” by X-Ray Spex that Jennifer had started to practice with us. We practiced the rest of November and December with her and although we recorded with her, she never performed live with us.

Brent Turner moved back from Arizona in the middle of December and found a place to live above London Exchange on Newport Blvd. The owner, Craig McGehey, also gave Brent a job there where Brent sold punk records and clothing. This is also where he later met the Vandals and went on to record with them on their album “When in Rome, Do as the Vandals”.

Jennifer Harper 1983
By the end of the year, Jennifer still wasn’t comfortable with her ability to perform on stage so at our next gig at the Concert Factory on January 7, 1983, Mike, Eric and I ran with our power trio line-up. The show went well but we were frustrated that we still didn’t have a solid front-person. Jennifer quit shortly after and convinced that it might take some time to find someone qualified to front the band, we just continued to practice with the three of us. Jennifer continued to hang out with us and she and I built a friendship that lasted for years.

Uniform Choice Set List from the Show Jan 7, 1983
We had written over 16 songs together, but with the violence at the shows, our inability to find a singer, and disagreements within the band, both Eric and I made the decision to quit Uniform Choice right around the end of February 1983. I continued to keep in contact with Myke however, and he called me in the third week of March asking me to come to a band practice he was having with some new guys. I figured he needed a bass player because he told me to bring my bass guitar with me. I told Eric about it and invited him along to check it out. When we got there, Myke introduced us to Pat Dubar from Unity, John Lorey, and both Vic Maynez and Pat Dyson from Plain Wrap. We were friends with Pat Dyson and already knew him real well from school and occasionally hanging out together. We listened to them play a quick set and then Myke asked Eric and I to jam some of our songs. It was like a changing of the guard and the three of us didn’t play together again until Tom and Brett from the band Burnt Party Host put on a Brewery Sound Recording (Orange Peel) show at the Concert Factory on May 6, 1983 and he asked the original line-up of Uniform Choice to get together to play it. I had just started a new band called “The Finks” that also played the show as well as Burnt Party Host and El Grupo Sexo. 

Lyrics for "I'm Despised by the Victimized"
A couple of particular interesting notes of coincidence… Exactly one year to the date... after we had played the very first show as Uniform Choice in Palm Springs on July 4th, 1982, Myke Bates and his new line up of Uniform Choice members played their first show together on July 4th, 1983, in Huntington Beach. The second coincidence is that our core group of members in the original line-up was completely alcohol and drug free. We never called ourselves "Straight Edge" and this label was not put on the band until the next line-up of members. We each had our own reasons at the time for being drug and alcohol free, and as far as I know Eric Hanna was the only one who never succumbed to any such vice. I can't speak for Myke or Elliott, but I to this date have never done drugs and I waited until after I was 21 before I started drinking alcohol. We weren't necessarily trying to be "Straight Edge" and never coined ourselves as such, but it was just a common lifestyle that we shared.

Soon after that last show together in May, I lost contact with Myke. But according to Pat Dyson, Myke continued to play with Uniform Choice through the end of 1983 until one day Myke didn’t show up to practice. Myke had always told me that he wanted to transition to Los Angeles to work with a relative who built sets for movies and he apparently decided one day to make the move. Uniform Choice continued to play and gain popularity without Myke, writing nearly all new songs. The only song from the original line-up to make it into the new version of Uniform Choice’s first recordings was the song “I’m Despised” that was written by Myke Bates and I. I wrote the music and Myke wrote the lyrics. The only difference was that Pat Dubar re-wrote the lyrics and the name of the song changed from “I’m Despised” to “Walls” as it appears on the first Demo EP released in 1984 by the “new line-up” of Uniform Choice. 

Pat Dubar, Pat Dyson, Vic Maynez and Dave Mello in 1984
After quitting Uniform Choice, Eric stopped playing drums completely. I had formed “The Finks” with members of the surf band “The Piers” and the drummer from the ska band “Secret Service”. I also played briefly with a couple of the guys from the punk band Saigon. They had formed a side project called the “Betty Jones Band”. They played comedic punk rock and played a number of parties in Orange County during 1983 but then stopped when Adam and Eddie committed full time to playing with the band Legal Weapon.

The New Uniform Choice Logo
I continued to go to punk shows through the end of 1984 but finally exited the punk scene entirely by 1985. I hadn’t heard anything about the punk scene or any of the bands I had played with until 1989 when I was hanging out with a band called “the Shrinky Dinx” who later became Sugar Ray. They were playing at the Palace in Hollywood and one of the opening bands was Uniform Choice. We were all back stage when Mark McGrath introduced me to the guys in Uniform Choice who were just walking through the backstage area before going on stage. The band that I had started with Myke Bates had moved through so many stages of its life that it now had the appearance of a metal band, with all the members clad in dark clothes and long hair… I didn’t recognize any of them. I told them that I was one of the original members and they just looked at me puzzled with nothing really to say. It was a strange and awkward moment... It was like the name of the band had a life of its own and the band itself had been bastardized over time to the point that none of the members of the final line up had any idea who started the band, where the name had come from or even knew its original meaning. 

Pat Dubar with Vic Maynez and Dave Mello ran with the band name deep into “Straight Edge” territory by truly embracing that label and living the lifestyle. There was a void that needed to be filled and Uniform Choice fulfilled its destiny on the west coast and beyond with a number of releases and represses still in circulation today. And although I was not a part of the band during its highest point of popularity, I am proud to have been a part of its inception and now its deep-rooted legacy within the west coast punk rock sub-culture.

FOR THE PREVIOUS CHAPTER, CLICK HERE