Charlotte's Antiseen celebrates its 30th Antiversary Friday and Saturday at Tremont Music Hall. 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.
Doors at 8 p.m. both nights. Tickets for Friday's pre-party with Judas Bullethead, Biggy Stardust & His Wretched Hive, and others are $10. Antiseen's show with the Meatmen and the Hookers Saturday is $15. www.tremontmusichall.com
Our fourth installment comes from Kirk Fisher (pictured above), founder and linchpin of another notorious NC-based act Buzzov.en (also written as Buzzoven) whose aggressive sludgy metal and wild live shows attracted national attention in the early `90s. The group released material on a number of well-known labels, including Hydra Head, Alternative Tentacles, and Roadrunner Records, and enjoyed a public rivalry with Antiseen.
“I remember when Buzzov.en was going back through Charlotte for the first time since moving to Richmond. We weren’t playing Charlotte but on our way to start a tour with Neurosis. I believe, we had planned to spend the night back at our old haunt – the 609 Oakland Ave. house with our former roommate, Chris Radok - a well-known local band photographer & dear friend, who’d kept up his residence there since we’d taken off to Richmond. Since I hadn’t bothered to call Chris before our arrival, I was a little shocked as I came up on the Oakland Ave. house to see GG Allin and the Murder Junkies littering my former front porch as we walked up to what once was our palace of all things destructive.
I shrugged and walked through the front door that was still (not-surprisingly) hanging open since we’d left. I saw (Antiseen’s) Jeff (Clayton) to my left. As I took a few more steps into the huge living room I said hello to Chris and Dee (Jeff’s wife). I also began to notice how much more of a home it now looked. Pictures and posters of various Buzzov.en events were now replaced with really cool horror movie posters and Antiseen show posters. They had put some couches and a coffee table and Jeff’s most impressive vinyl collection lined the wall floor to ceiling. Seriously, I have never seen a collection of LPs any bigger.
He had just put on a record of what I believed to be something new by Antiseen for one of the Murder Junkies’ ears. As the music started playing the beauty of this moment was watching Kerrie – Jeff’s then infant daughter – race around the huge living room slamming her little body into the couches headfirst. She would proudly say, ‘That’s my Daddy’s band!’ and then get back to her one-little-girl-slam-fest.
Chris was later doing some promo shots of us while Antiseen was jamming in the back room. Their loud, chainsaw-driving guitar was buzzing and rattling through the house much like when we rehearsed. Life always seemed to go on throughout the house as usual even though the sheer volume and rumble of the band rehearsing somewhere in the house was hard to ignore. We ended up taking some pictures with Antiseen’s stickered up half school bus behind us. One of these shots ended up being used for our main promotional shot for our label at the time. Some fans thought we had snuck up and done this as a prank or maybe even on a dare. To those who don’t know the facts well, they think Antiseen and buzzov.en are far from being friends. We may have even played into these rumors of hate. It still seems some fans think that there is some great known feud between each of the band’s camps.
It was a bittersweet pill to swallow that 609 Oakland was no longer our not-so-humble headquarters. It was now Jeff Clayton and his family’s home and Antiseen’s practice space. It was however a great thing to know Antiseen was the new house band.
Even though Buzzov.en also originated in Charlotte, I have always said that Antiseen owned the town. When we had our now legendary “Grudge Match” show at the Milestone Club, Jeff attacked me during my set and cut my head open – much like a wrestling match. I reciprocated by rushing the stage as Antiseen played and busted a bar stool over Jeff’s head. It wasn’t Jeff the crowd wanted to gut like a barnyard hog. I had to hide under Buzzov.en’s bus from angry Antiseen fans thirsty for more of my blood. When they couldn’t find me they slashed our radiator, which we had to repair the next day.
Over the years – we’ve certainly had our ups and downs. I have taken classes at CPCC with Jeff, worked with his wife Dee at Auto Bell, had the Antiseen Security Squad attempt to pummel me at one of their shows at The Milestone and was most always asked if we knew any of the Antiseen crew when doing various interviews with countless national publications. In fact that was the reason for their Security squad wanting to put the smack down. In one interview I spoke somewhat nonchalantly and just really kind of acted as if I didn’t care that we both were from Charlotte. Looking back I can see I didn’t give respect where respect was most definitely due. I wanted all the notoriety and didn’t like not being the center of attention so I simply acted as if I thought very little of Antiseen and their list of accomplishments besides the fact they were one of the forefathers of southern punk rock. It was actually far from what I really thought and felt about Antiseen and their head bashing and violent sound. I WAS a fan of their music , yet would never admit it back then. After that incident, Jeff and I had a long talk about what they had heard and we reconciled our differences. As time passed we gained what I believe was a mutual respect for each other and each other’s bands. We both knew the hard work and sacrifices it took being in a band and keeping up with the demands of being a national recording act. Jeff would tell me that of all the places they’d gone there would always be at least one person with the same annoying question: “Do ya’all know buzzoven?” We usually experienced much the same.
Both Antiseen and buzzoven broke out of the Charlotte music scene to become nationally-known recording and touring bands, but when it comes to Charlotte, this is Antiseen’s town. You all knew buzzoven were merely passing through.
To the man I now hold a huge amount of respect for, Mr.Jeff Clayton; to Joe Young - one of the best damn chainsaw guitar players this side of the Mason-Dixon line; both Phil Keller and Jon Bowman,, who have kept the rhythm going while all hell came crashing down; and finally Mr. Barry Hannibal, the man who has pulled two jobs in Antiseen - my sincere gratitude for paving the path for bands like buzzoven and for being one of few bands that intimidate and leave a permanent mark on yer head - literally. For bringing 30 years of Destructo Rock…give em hell on Saturday night!!"