Public Enemy formed in early 1983, a time when when most of the punk shows in Tucson took place at a derelict bar on Fourth Avenue called the Backstage. Heading north from the Backstage, Fourth Avenue winds through rundown neighborhoods of dust and desolation, eventually turning into Geronimo Avenue. This was the site of a family compound/junkyard/party house known as the Tragic Kingdom. This outpost in the wasteland was the home of drummer Andy Vernon and the practice space for Public Enemy.
The band was led by Mike Gorman, and was formed from the remnants of his prior band, the Marauders. Andy stayed on from the Marauders, and when I joined on bass and Steve Schneer took over on vocals, the new lineup was complete. Public Enemy never fit perfectly into the hardcore category -- we were more early punk than thrash, and we incorporated elements of metal but genres weren’t precisely defined in those days, and we became part of the hardcore scene. Over the next two years, we played shows at clubs including the Backstage, the DangerZone, Nino’s and the Stumble Inn, opening for bands like the Necros, Suicidal Tendencies and the Meat Puppets.
The gigs that stand out the most, though, are the ones that went completely wrong, leaving us wondering what
the hell we were thinking. One such show was an outdoor dorm party at the University of Arizona, where the organizers cut the power after three songs, starting a mini-riot when they realized we weren’t going to deliver dance-friendly new wave hits.
Even better was the Huns’ Run, a three-day biker party on Mount Lemmon (just outside of Tucson), where a pissed-off Hun rolled up to the stage with a Confederate flag mounted on his bike, denounced our music as “machine-gun shit” and asked us to play some Skynyrd. Sadly, we didn’t know any Skynyrd, or any other covers besides the Stooges’ “Search and Destroy,” but that probably wouldn’t have helped. Somehow, we finished our set without being lynched and drank ourselves into a stupor on cheap beer in plastic cups. Gigs like these would qualify as disasters for most bands, but somehow these forays into hostile territory felt like an affirmation that we were doing something right.
Public Enemy broke up in early 1985 without having released any recordings. For decades the music appeared to be lost forever, but eventually a couple of recordings surfaced, and after cleaning them up a bit we finally had a document of the music we made during our brief existence. Thanks are due to Slug Useless and Disillusion Music Label for helping make this release a reality.
released September 20, 2017
Mike Gorman, guitar and vocals
Andy Vernon, drums
Eric Snyder, bass
Steve Schneer, vocals
Disillusion Music Label started out in 1987 as Disillusion Records and was brought back in 2008 by Slug Useless. It is the
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