This weekend Charlotte’s Antiseen - internationally known originators of “Destructo Rock” - celebrates its 30th anniversary. Each day this week I’ve asked someone who has witnessed the controversial Southern punk stalwarts for much longer and more intimately than I have to share their thoughts, memories, and impressions of the band.
Antiseen’s Antiversary show returns to Tremont Music Hall Friday and Saturday. Judas Bullethead, Biggy Stardust and His Wretched Hive, the Chalkies, Lucifer Jones, and Powerball warm up fans flying in from as far as New Zealand Friday. Antiseen headlines Saturday with fellow veterans the Meatmen and Kentucky’s the Hookers. Doors at 8 p.m. both nights. Tickets are $10 Friday and $15 Saturday.
For our third installment of Antiseen nostalgia, Penny Craver - the former owner of Tremont Music Hall, who managed the Milestone Club and played in the band the Blind Dates - dispels the myth that just because singer Jeff Clayton cuts himself and bleeds during shows and has been known to spring from the stage to defend a lady's honor, Antiseen are really scary dudes (although that is fire on stage in the above photo).
“They’d been around for a long while and I’d never seen them. We knew we were getting the Milestone, so I said let me see what I’ve gotten myself into with this Antiseen band. I went out to see them while Tony still owned the club. I was like ok, I can deal with this. It’s not nearly as bad as I thought. You heard such awful things. Then I started working at Repo Records (with Antiseen frontman Jeff Clayton - bloody, above) probably in 1993/1994 and we started talking. We had a lot in common. I do remember one time somebody was messing with Dee, his wife, and he left the stage and went out after them. Of course they stopped playing and that guy left pretty soon after. It didn’t scare me too badly. Then I got to know him and his bark is so much worse than his bite. He really he loves his kids and he’s a great dad. He’s like a PTA dad type person. He asked me if I wanted to write anything when he did his book (on the history of Antiseen). I told him the only thing I have to say about him is what a nice guy he is. I thought it would blow his image. That wasn’t the image he was trying to portray in the Destructo years.
I traveled with them (as a sound engineer) a couple times and mixed them. I got the vocals up and you could actually hear it and Jeff can actually sing and you could hear his lyrics. When you see some of his song titles you think 'Oh, my gosh.' Then you listen to the lyrics. For forever you couldn’t hear the lyrics. You just saw him up there screaming and cutting his forehead. They’re very clever. You hear ‘Animals, Eat ‘Em’ and think, ‘What the hell?’ ‘Then you don’t have to feed ‘em’ - that’s an extension of Jeff’s sense of humor. Some people take them seriously, but I don’t. They’re all great guys. Once you realize Jeff loves to pick on people and has a great sense of humor. His reputation precedes him and you don’t realize he’s just saying that to get a rise.
My last night at Tremont I really wanted Antiseen to be there because I think a whole lot of them and they meant a lot to a lot of people growing up, particularly for the males. Joe (Young) is the sweetest guy. Barry (Hannbal), I’ve never heard raise his voice. Quite frankly that’s usually the way it is when they get up and their music is aggressive and then they get off stage and say: 'May I have a water please?' Once we got to know them, geez, they’re all just as sweet as they can be and have this alter-ego for the stage.”