The Worst Piece of Shit Volume 4: Early Hated

“In the days of the sun when we lost what we won…

but it didn’t matter anyway, because we cheated”

The Good Old Days

In the summer of 1985, Dan and Erik gave a Hated concert for maybe 10-15 of us on Annapolis Elementary’s playground, the neighborhood school we had all attended a few years before on Green Street in downtown Annapolis. I think I got a call and was told to show up in an hour or so, or maybe I just had seen them walking around town with their guitars and followed, which would not have been unusual.

The area behind the school was half paved and had two net-less basketball hoops. Seagulls often hovered in the air above or swooped down to pick from a trashcan where the asphalt merged in a glitter of broken glass and bottle caps with the dirt half of the playground that contained monkey bars, a dented slide with faded red paint, a concrete pipe you could climb inside, and swings that squeaked when you swung. Beside the basketball court, under a crabapple tree was a picnic table with graffiti scratched into it where, in the evenings, vagrant men would come and drink. Along one border of the playground, a tangle of mulberries grew right up to the crumbling wall where Dan and Erik played.

Our music teacher at Green Street, Ms. Blackstone, was Alex Haley’s half-sister, and shortly after Roots came out he came to speak to our school, which was just a stone’s throw from the harbor where Haley’s ancestor, Kunta Kinte, had been brought in chains from Africa. In Ms. Blackstone’s class, we learned African American spirituals, folk songs, square dancing, and Broadway show tunes from the 1940s, 50s, and 60s. She took a shining to Daniel and often asked him to sing for the class. She probably would have been gratified that he grew up to be a musician, and pleased to see him and Erik with their black leather jackets and acoustic guitars singing and strumming that warm evening on the playground.

Their set included the new songs “Waiting” and “Rubber Bullets.” Whenever they played, the Hated created an atmosphere of intensity, not necessarily with every song—in fact, there was also usually a lot of sarcasm, joking around, and political furor—but an important element of every show, every time they played or recorded, was this sort of spiritual ambiance, almost like a séance. They were conjurers, they cast a spell; most listeners were fascinated, mesmerized. Leslie Lentz (Les), who ran LSP where the Hated recorded their first songs, recalls what it was like in the studio with them: “it was the most intense experience from beginning to end. They would show up in a taxi, and have all the songs deeply rehearsed so that they could get through their set in an hour, which cost three fifty, which they might pay in change or add the tally to their tab. (Minimum wage was three thirty-five, and I was proud it was just above that). By the way, they still owe me money! It’s up to twenty-seven fifty now with interest. Because they didn’t have much money, they came determined to squeeze it all in, playing songs back-to-back. When they were done, they were sweaty and exhausted. The songs often ended with extended feedback, and they would nod and sway like they were in a trance, hunched over, just totally drained. Once, I recorded a group of like twenty African drummers from D.C., who played long songs in a kind of rapture. But they didn’t match the intensity of Hated—it’s Hated, by the way, not THE Hated, as they will tell you. Why was everything so heavy? Why all the angst? Honestly, I think it was just complete boredom with bland, mundane suburbia.”

Here’s Daniel, in turn, describing Les and LSP. “Les Lentz built a recording studio in his parents’ house in Hillsmere that was just big enough for a control room, an isolation booth, a live room and a bunch of shelves full of master tapes. Les had an 8-track analog 1/2” tape machine, a mixing board, and a 2-track tape machine for mixing. Not a lot of gear, but some mics, some outboard gear like preamp compressors and some effects. Nothing fancy. No computers or anything digital at first. Les was a drummer and his kit was set up in the live room. Eventually, he built more booths and isolation rooms and used every square inch of the basement to bring his vision to life. In the early 90s, LSP moved into a larger commercial space. LSP supposedly stood for Live Sound Productions (maybe a holdover from doing live sound at local gigs), but really, it was Lentz (or Les) Sound Production, or Les’s Secret Problems, or maybe Les’s Super Powers. Without Les, punk rock in Annapolis would not have happened like it did. He recorded and documented all of us. From The Motor Morons, The Spastic Rats, Hated, COAC [Christ on a Crutch], Roadside Petz, Moss Icon, Three Shades of Dirty, Freak Beans, Breathing Walker and on and on. All those bands spent precious hours in that basement with Les at the mixing desk, the whole first wave of Annapolis Hardcore punk came through there. Everybody who likes the Spastic Rats or the Hated or Moss Icon should thank Les for everything he did. He was a deep, kind guy who helped all of us out in ways he may not ever truly know. All those bands likely still owe him money, but no one owes him more money or more gratitude than Hated.”

The Worst Piece of Shit Volume 4 encompasses pre-Hated and early Hated songs, which includes some Fit of Rage and Geek Patrol material from 1983-84, and the Hated’s first 7”, the ‘No More We Cry’ EP in 1985, which came out on Vermin Scum, plus never-before released material. Vermin Scum was founded by Kenny Hill, who would later play drums for the Hated, but when he started the record label, he played with The Spastic Rats, the first Annapolis Hardcore thrash band. The Rats were influenced by the local DC punk and hardcore scene, especially Dischord Records, which put out many of the soon-to-be classic bands that Kenny saw live, such as Minor Threat, Faith, and Void. He took Dischord’s blueprint and decided to start his own label in order to release the Rats. In 1984, the Rats recorded a 6 song cassette entitled ‘Spread The Disease’ credited to Vermin Scum Productions, but the first proper 7″ was a 6 song EP called ‘Rodentia.’ Les Lentz’s twin brother, Tristan, was the Rats’ guitarist, who Dan described as “a virtuosic player who incorporated lightning-fast metallic riffs.”

Vermin Scum also put out a sampling of local bands called The Crab-Core Compilation, which included the early 80s local punk bands The Spastic Rats, Christ On A Crutch, Fit Of Rage, The Roadside Petz, Strictly Prohibited, Sick Children, and Purgatory. Crab Core also included the first two recordings of the Hated, Touch It and No Meaning, both of which are on TWPS Vol 4. Touch It and No Meaning feature Mike Bonner on drums and Dan on guitar and bass. Colin had not yet joined the new incarnation of the band, and Erik was out of the country for several months, though in those pre-internet days he and Daniel maintained regular contact by exchanging long hand-written letters in their distinctive, tiny, printed script. No Meaning is the only song Mike sang background vocals on. These songs were “like a love letter of sorts to Erik,” said Daniel, “trying to convince him to come back and show him what we were up to. You could really tell from listening to it, how much we needed him. But we were getting tight and breaking some new ground as well, keeping the fire burning.” When he talks about those early songs, Daniel’s enthusiasm is contagious. “One of my favorite songs from that time that is on this record, ‘everything is going wrong (electricity is on the run),’ which still makes me laugh out loud; it is just a weird fucking song that we only played once when we improvised it.”

Anticipating Erik’s return, Dan asked Colin Meeder to join the band on bass and learn the new songs, rehearsing at Mike’s house. There’s a version of “Hate Me” from one of these rehearsals included on TWPS Volume 4. Daniel characterized it, “You can hear the telepathy with me and Mike, Colin starting to find his footing and really step up as a bass player more and more, you can hear how comfortable we actually felt going to some pretty raw places with each other. Colin, Mike, and I screaming ‘Hate Me’ at the world and each other. Was it a joke? Did we understand what we were doing? Colin yelling ‘we love you all!!’ in this recording might be a clue. On the other hand, me saying ‘No more!’ might be a clue, too. We hit this heavy chord and everything went full dark. It’s kind of awesome. The most telling thing is the short discussion the three of us have right after the song, still audible on the practice tape.

Daniel: That was a painful ‘Hate Me.’
Mike: (with earnest excitement) I think ‘Hate Me’ is our best song!
Colin: Thats what’s so sad! (laughter)
Daniel: I know! (laughter).

“Erik had written a song called ‘Hate Me,’ while we were still in FxOxR, an extended, super distorted long form frenetic hardcore punk freak out, with screeching harmonics, monster riffs and an anthemic chorus: ‘Hate me! hate me! hate me!’ It was designed to make people hate it (and us) and it seemed to work. Erik found these harmonics, these high overtones that were buried in the lowest notes on the guitar when you barely touch the string above the fretboard. D.R.I [Dirty Rotten Imbeciles] used a similar sound sometimes to great effect. It’s actually not unlike what Tuvan and Tibetan throat singers do with their voices when they resonate these harmonic frequencies that are latent in any given note. So the chorus alternates between these powerful, high ringing sounds moving down in contrary motion to these powerful, low bar chords which were moving upwards chromatically. It’s an amazing sound and a really cool discovery on the electric guitar, where those harmonics can really sing and be heard resoundingly clear.

“For me the song was really like a final word on a certain period of time we were living through, and a kind of aggressive abandon style of playing that was starting to lose some of its power for us. We went all the way into this song and we didn’t hold anything back. ‘Hate Me’ was a kind of terminal event. Musically, it was all about Erik’s Gibson SG, a Electro Harmonix Big Muff and/or a Boss Distortion pedal. Chaz, who had been our singer in FxOxR, and was a talented promoter and inspirational troublemaker, called Erik ‘The Bar Chord King.’ The sound he got was outrageous, particularly through this tiny practice amp he had. ‘Martyrs On the Reason’ is on this tape. We were also working on a song called ‘Heart Attack,’ an ominous, dirge-y, slow, slightly stupid metallic song with a cryptic lyric ‘I’ve been walking around without a sound…’ The chorus was just the words ‘heart attack!’ repeated over and over. The songs were pretty funny, actually.”

This early Hated on TWPS Vol 4 showcases the range of their creativity, from Dan and Erik’s incipient styles on guitar and vocals, to their eccentric, reckless, cracked, and inspired humor. This combination represents the promise and powerful foundation of what was to come. The weirdness, the savage sarcasm, the unabashed zany enthusiasm, and the experimentation are maybe not what many listeners associate with the Hated, but these qualities drove and made possible some of the other styles of music also evident in this volume. Whether expressed as brash and political vocals and lyrics or in quiet, haunting, pretty melodies, these other potent and expressive songs demonstrate why the Hated still attracts so many listeners almost 40 years after the songs were composed and recorded. “Hey Mister,” “Somewhere,” “Your Mind,” “Words Come Back,” and “No Meaning” are earnest and heartfelt songs that presage a sound, an aesthetic, and a style of writing that would grow and evolve over the next few years, after 1985. But there is so much more here, too.

“The Good Old Days” is a fine example of their ecstatic humor and parodic elán, which is also strangely seductive. As Daniel describes, “it started off as a joke about Freud and Jung’s relationship and its deterioration, but ended up as a glory days mocking anthem that skewered ourselves, and DC punk and hippie-dom through appropriating some ideas from a much loved Neil Young song. We were cracking ourselves up, but we were also stretching out into some new territory. Some complex and more adventurous ideas began to come together with this anthem that was both quiet and manic. Soon new songs started flying out of Erik at a rapid pace. We had ‘Martyrs on The Reason,’ ‘Lonesome Years,’ and ‘I Don’t Like you.’ So, the seeds of our new band, The Hated, were really formed then.”

To my ear, at least, there is a distinctive Annapolis sound layered in to the Hated’s idiosyncratic style. There are maybe some easy or tempting comparisons to other music that came later, or even that was roughly contemporaneous, but they were truly in a class of their own, and often in a world of their own. No doubt there was an element of what Les referenced as boredom and frustration with the dullness of Annapolis. But maybe a more precise way of expressing that sentiment is to recognize a strong element of dissatisfaction with the world they were discovering and inheriting; there was also a disdain for the insipid and the tedious. But there was also an integrity and a belief, even a faith, in what they were doing that still comes through forcefully. Dan and Erik always played as though their lives depended on it, even when their audience was a handful of people. I believe it is the intimacy and the urgency that they created which led them to greater and greater visibility as their music spread in the subsequent years that they played, and as it has circulated since then in ever widening currents. Their music was forged in a particular time and place, but the music here speaks to our moment as well.

At that time and place where Reagan and the Naval Academy and preppy boating culture seemed to dominate, I think most of us felt that their creativity was like a drink of cold water after a diet of salt. Our group represents a slice of what I think of as a weird or eccentric Annapolis, a sort of shadow or B side, that sometimes overlapped with the mainstream, but has been largely eclipsed by the dominant, banal culture of the place, and has remained maybe not exactly unheard, but often drowned out or dwarfed. Being part of our small, intimate scene, you felt something special was going on and you were grateful to be included. Venues for so many of the Hated’s early shows were like the playground or LSP studios, located in the basement of the Lentz’s house. Everything was homemade, marginal, and somewhat improvised: the parking lot in front of the Record Exchange; Skate World, as the fad of roller skating faded; the VFW; churches; a dock on College Creek behind St. John’s College, where both Dan and Erik’s fathers taught.

I was just one of maybe a couple dozen characters in their immediate orbit at that time. Some, like Jason Fisher, John Gillis, and Jeff Gordon, captured the landscape that generated the Hated and documented performances in some truly remarkable images. I hope what follows gives you a sense of what our scene looked and felt like from the inside, and says something meaningful about the history of the town that produced them, Annapolis, and it’s place in popular American music in the decades and immediate years preceding the band’s first release in 1985. I spoke to a number of people for this, including Dan and Erik, Andrew Richardson, Colin Meeder, and Mike Bonner. Kenneth Ball Hill—Kenny—passed away in 2020, but everyone generously shared their memories of him, including Andrew Richardson (of Fit of Rage), who had interviewed him a few years before his death. Daniel’s younger brother, Michael (Miggy), was especially helpful in laying out the background and panorama of bands and genres, as well as musical connections and lineages, providing some deep insights, detailed memories, and many funny stories along the way.

Sounds of Naptown

With its focus on the Great Books tradition that begins with Plato and Aristotle, St. John’s College in Annapolis seems an unlikely place to have spawned much by way of popular contemporary music. But two major record labels of the twentieth century, Elektra and Atlantic, both began there. Elektra played a significant role in the development of folk and rock music, from its founding in 1950 by Jac Holzman and Paul Rickolt in Holzman’s St. John’s dorm room until 1972, when Elektra became part of Warner. Elektra put out artists like Judy Collins, and protest singers like Phil Ochs (who’s cousin, Max, lived in Annapolis) and Tom Paxton. Holzman also recorded Josh White after McCarthyites had blacklisted him. The label’s signings with the most enduring impact may have been Nico, Tim Buckley, Love, Fred Neil, and The Doors, along with The Stooges and The MC5. Atlantic was founded a few years earlier than Elektra, in 1947, by Herb Abramson and Ahmet Ertegun, who was also a Johnny. Atlantic became one of the most significant American record labels, specializing early on in jazz, R&B, and soul by such luminaries as Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Wilson Pickett, Sam and Dave, Ruth Brown, and Otis Redding. Many of the musicians Ertegun would sign he might have first heard live at Carr’s Beach in Annapolis when he was a student at St. John’s College.

Rumor has it that Woody Guthrie had a girlfriend connected to St. John’s who lived on Maryland Avenue in Annapolis, and would sometimes hang out there, perhaps even around the corner on State Circle in a student run coffee shop that featured live music, with which Daniel and Colin’s parents were later involved. I was unable to verify this, but Guthrie did live in Washington, D.C. for a time while recording with Alan Lomax at the Smithsonian’s American Folklife Center. And the center holds at least one record that places Guthrie in Annapolis, in concert and conversation, on April 14, 1951: a “cassette copy of a wire spool recording: 24 minutes duration. Guthrie performs in concert at St. John’s College. There are very few recordings of Guthrie concerts; this recording is the last known recorded concert performance.” (A distant relative of Daniel and Miggy’s, Fletcher Collins, was also connected to the famous ethnomusicologist Alan Lomax. Collins made hundreds of field recordings of Appalachian folk songs and ballads in his backyard theater in North Carolina in the 1930s and 40s and gave them to Lomax as part of what would become the folk archive at the Smithsonian, and which has been so influential on American music ever since.)

These all may be tangential or background connections, but directly and indirectly they shaped the development of a music scene in Annapolis. In that respect, probably the most significant and influential institution for several decades was not St. John’s but Carr’s Beach. Although it had closed by our early childhoods (1973), its legacy was potent, and continued through ongoing local social ties with world class African American musicians and of course in the memories of older generations of Annapolitans. Carr’s Beach is another example of a major phenomenon connected to Annapolis that challenges the town’s typical image of wealthy sunburned topsider-clad whites, exclusive marinas full of yachts, and picturesque colonial streets. A valiant minority of people—not only blacks, who were excluded by law and social custom from that society, but the Hated and our scene as well—defined themselves either in opposition to or at least consciously outside of Annapolis’ stifling, dominant culture.

In the early 1900s, a formerly enslaved man named Frederick Carr who had also worked at the Naval Academy, and his wife, Mary Wells Carr, bought 180 acres of land in Annapolis right on the Chesapeake Bay at the end of what is now Edgewood Road. Their daughters operated two resorts that started in the 1920s and 30s, Carr’s Beach and Sparrow’s Beach. During the decades of segregation, these became major institutions not just locally but nationally for African-American culture and recreation, which gave it an outsized impact on the town. The first black cops hired in Annapolis were deputized to police the grounds of the resort, since it was seen as too volatile or unnecessarily provocative to have that space patrolled by white cops.

The parlance used at the time was ‘black feet in white sand,’ which encapsulated the sensibility: a safe, beautiful, and autonomous place to go and be at ease, tucked away from white society. There was a boardwalk, a ferris wheel, slot machines, and swimming along the quiet cove. During summers in the 1950s and 60s, people came in droves not only from Annapolis but D.C. and Baltimore, as well as the surrounding region. It was a place for day trips and relaxation away from the troubles and pressures of segregation, just community coming together: church picnics (rich with crab cakes, corn on the cob, fried chicken, potato salad, and watermelon), day camps, parties, games, and of course, music. In the evenings, people would gather at the pavilion for the live music and dance concerts that Carr’s Beach became famous for. This was the place to come and see top line artists.

Especially when you consider that Annapolis during those years had a population of about twenty thousand, roughly thirty percent of which was black, the lists of people who played there is staggering. Early entertainers included jazz figures like Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Cab Calloway, Ella Fitzgerald, Dinah Washington, and Lionel Hampton, as well as soul performers like Ray Charles, James Brown, and Jackie Wilson. Early rock and rollers Fats Domino, Bo Diddley, and Buddy Holly also appeared. In 1956, thousands of people were turned away from the small venue as an estimated 70,000 people showed up to see Chuck Berry. (Bass player Andrew Richardson’s father was one of the lucky eight thousand who made it in). By the early 1960s, popular entertainers to come through included Little Richard, Lloyd Price, Etta James, Aretha Franklin, the Shirelles, the Coasters, the Platters, and the Drifters. Motown and other great artists included Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding, Patti LaBelle, Percy Sledge, Stevie Wonder, Ike and Tina Turner, The Supremes, Screamin Jay Hawkins, Chubby Checker… Carr’s Beach formed part of the Chitlin Circuit, along with other nearby venues like the Howard Theatre in D.C. and The Royal Theatre in Baltimore.

Some of the artists and entertainers who played there also had or developed deep connections to Annapolis. James Brown often showed up in Eastport. And when he was planning to launch his own radio stations around the country, Brown sought to recruit “Hoppy” Adams, the popular Annapolis DJ on WANN, which broadcast from Bay Ridge Avenue. Willie Adams, who ran Carr’s beach for decades, was close friends with Joe Louis, and the fighter often visited Carr’s and Sparrow’s beaches during summers to enjoy the resort, the music, and to train. The Van Dykes were Carr’s Beach’s house band, opening for many of the headliners, and The Van Dykes had strong roots in the local community (the cousin of a family friend named Derek “Too Sweet” Parker played with them). The grandson of The Van Dykes’ Roland Brown also played in a P-Funk tribute band, The Clones of Dr. Funkenstein, begun years earlier (1989) at St John’s College with none other than Daniel Littleton along with a talented crew of funk acolytes who had grown up going to shows at Carr’s Beach. It was a coming together of past and present, and also, because of who was involved, a sort of bridge between Annapolis’ mostly white punk scene and the black community. For Daniel, it was not only a way of getting in touch with local history and talent, but integrating new styles of playing and thinking about music. Daniel remembers “They told me the most amazing stories and taught me all about the Annapolis Funk Mob in the seventies. (Gordon ‘Didi Funkfoot’ Henson, our drummer, met James Brown personally at Carr’s Beach, and shaking hands with the Godfather of Soul was like receiving a jolt of magic directly from the source.) Those guys are some of the best musicians I have ever met or played with. They schooled me hard on how to really play funk music.” The Clones had a rotating roster of members that at one time included the funk master, Joe Keyes, who lives in Annapolis, and has played with Gil Scott Heron and George Clinton. Clinton loved The Clones and would send a letter to the band each year when they played a tribute show at the American Legion Hall on Forest Drive. Once, Clinton himself showed up and joined the band for a set, although Daniel was unfortunately away for that show. In addition to the band, Clinton had numerous ties to Annapolis, including his favorite and most trusted barber… All of this is just to emphasize the myriad ways that the legacy of Carr’s Beach helped shape and continues to impact the musical scene in Annapolis.

Desegregation turned out to be a double-edged sword for Annapolis’ black community. By the late 60s, Carr’s beach was no longer drawing big crowds, and was in fact struggling to survive. The last performance at Carr’s Beach pavilion was Frank Zappa in 1973. What used to be Carr’s Beach is today a community of upscale condominiums called Chesapeake Harbor, which has a marina with private boat slips—a sad but unfortunately typical fate for African American owned property in Annapolis. What’s left now, aside from memories, are mementos. There are hundreds of photos from the heyday of Carr’s Beach at the Maryland State Archives and elsewhere. Looking through some of them to get a flavor of Annapolis in those days, I came across a curious image, which ties in with the weird or offbeat Annapolis, its eccentric, queer side, maybe the shadow of its shadow.

The black and white photo was shot from the stage. You see a crowd of black folks in caps, porkpie hats, sunglasses and other natty attire of the time, and posted on the fence separating the auditorium from outdoors is a sign that reads “Notice: It is unlawful for female impersonators to dance with males on these premises.” Which suggests it was a common enough occurrence that managers or owners felt the need to regulate, warn, set boundaries; it also suggests a degree of freedom people felt to go against what was back then called the ‘moral standards’ of society. It’s just a detail in this image, but it’s intriguing and evocative. It seems to represent earlier evidence of the wild Annapolis, the kooky, non-conformist aspect, and maybe foreshadows what would emerge years later with a surprising range of creative figures and bands from The Institute to Star Point to The Hated.

Vinyl Discoveries: Building Community Through Music

One thing that helped to foster this creative expression as (and just before) we were growing up in the 1970s, was Annapolis record collectors of pre-World War II blues and country music 78s, as Michael Littleton Junior (Miggy) explained to me. “There’s an amazing story about a guy named Tom Hoskins from Annapolis. He was in a circle of collectors that included John Fahey, who was a legendary eccentric Maryland collector and guitarist. Also, this world-famous ethnomusicologist named Dick Spottswood. And Ed Denson was an important figure, too, a producer who founded Takoma Records with Fahey— he was also part of the group.

“Anyway, Tom Hoskins was listening to an old Mississippi John Hurt 78 release from the late 1920s. The song was called Avalon Blues, and in the song, he sings ‘Avalon is my hometown.’ Like, that’s where I’m from. And so this guy from Annapolis looks at maps of Mississippi and can’t find Avalon anywhere. So he refers to an old atlas from like 1900 to locate Avalon, and figures out roughly where it would be on a map today, and decides to go down to Mississippi looking for John Hurt. This must be the late 1950s, early 60s.

“Well, it’s all blues men down there. Tom Hoskins asks around town: is there a great guitar player around here named John Hurt? Eventually, he’s led to where he is. And when John Hurt sees this white man approaching his door, saying I’m looking for Mississippi John Hurt, he thinks this guy must be FBI. And he’s like kind of terrified, like oh man, I’m in trouble, I’m gonna get arrested. But the guy from Annapolis brought a guitar and asked him if he still played. And John Hurt said, I haven’t played in a couple of years, but starts playing, and he’s just incredible.

“So he is brought back to Annapolis. And the first recording of John Hurt’s since the ‘30s was done in Annapolis by Jenny Silitch’s father!” Jen Silitch was an artist who grew up in downtown Annapolis and was connected to our scene; she was also the longtime girlfriend of Andrew Richardson. This John Hurt recording formed part of the initial folk and blues revival that, along with the Alan Lomax recordings and the Harry Smith folk anthology, inspired people like Dylan and Dave von Ronk, as well as most early rock groups. Those older artists were still around, and the younger generation could see them play and interact with them to some extent. The Beatles and the Rolling Stones famously brought a lot of those guys to Europe, where they were greeted for the first time in their lives as celebrities.

“There’s another guy in Annapolis,” Miggy continued. “Max Ochs, who was cousins with Phil Ochs, the folk singer. He was a part of John Fahey’s circle, too, and roommates with this legendary folk musician named Robbie Basho. And he has amazing stories about spending time with Mississippi John Hurt and Skip James and Lightning Hopkins. And he was kind of plugged in with all of these collectors who were, you know, white men with beards. Guys who were drinking wine and saying, this is the greatest music of all time… But you know, these people did help to preserve and contextualize, and they were sort of like self-styled archivists in a way. Like they saw the value of what was being under-represented and wanted to represent it. I feel like that’s in tune with what this label that’s putting out the Hated, Numero, is doing in their own way.“ It fits in another way, too, because these blues artists that these collectors were helping to recover and declare essential, and which inspired so much copying and imitating and influenced so much rock and popular music, in turn, inspired kids like Dan and Erik and Colin and Kenny, who traced these imitations and evolutions and influences back to their sources and deeper roots in American music.

Later influential collectors from Annapolis, especially in the early 80s, tended to be involved with The Record Exchange, another Annapolis institution. These collectors were meaningful in a more personal, direct way, helping to foster a music scene, cultivate appreciation for certain bands and styles of music. Billy “Beatle,” Dave Grobani, and a little later, Kenny Hill created an atmosphere where people would meet and talk, learn of concerts and bands, read local zines, and flip through endless rows of albums packed into the small musty place. Kids passionate about music and bands hung out there, walking from school. (“In those days, vinyl was the music delivery system,” in Daniel’s words. “And the Exchange was like an after-school program for nerds and delinquents.”) Billy “Beatle” had the largest collection of Beatles memorabilia in the world in the late 70s, and seemed to know everything about the Beatles, as well as other British Invasion bands, and endless trivia about almost any genre of music. Dave Grobani was also exceptionally knowledgeable, and did a lot to promote not just particular bands (including the Hated) but values around what was important, what kinds of music really mattered. “Those guys were fountains of knowledge. Like you could just go in there and ask them a question about any kind of music, and they’d hook you up and tell you what you should listen to,” Daniel remembers, and still relishes the music he discovered there. “From The Beatles to Thelonious Monk to The MC5 to John Fahey to Sly and The Family Stone, it was all there, usually for $2 to $5 an LP. Erik got ‘The Heliocentric Worlds Of Sun Ra’ there, and I got ‘The Inner Mystique’ by The Chocolate Watch Band, the album where the back cover prints massive lists of all their influences and heroes in small type. The Exchange was just endless catalogues of treasure; a universe, like Borges’ Library of Babel.”

Kenny Hill also became a guru in this vinyl Shangri-la. “And all those years of working at the Record Exchange meant that anytime somebody sold a collection, Kenny got there first,” said Dan. “So he had all the coolest stuff, all the English punk, all the reggae, he just had it all. And he knew about it personally. He’d been to all these shows. So you would just go to him for information… When I walked to Kenny’s house to hang out and listen to records, I would pass a UFO where somebody lived, a ‘Futuro House’ designed in the late 60s as a ‘portable’ ski chalet. It is an iconic piece of architecture that totally resembles a B-movie UFO, and going by there was like the perfect portal to Kenny’s realm. If you could somehow get to Kenny Hill’s attic and bring a cassette and like, plead with him to let you just make a mixtape out of his records? It was like transcribing holy texts. Like you had to go to great distances and undergo trials and tribulations for those teachings. And we all did it! He was so much cooler than anybody. He’d seen all of the bands that were just myths to us, he was just enough older than us that he just got in there before us. He had that knowledge, so he was cool to us— and he knew he was cool. But he also wasn’t a dick about it. And we got to go see some shows with him, we’d catch a ride with him.”

In many ways, Kenny played a key role in the Hated’s development. Erik filled out the picture. “Kenny’s lair was an Annapolis gathering place and punk rock institution. It was the place to hear and discuss the latest releases and, if one was lucky and Kenny was so moved, rare gems that Ken had acquired would appear as the night wore on. Littered with overflowing ashtrays, music books, collector grade records and rare zines, the walls covered with posters, music blasted from the attic of this small Eastport house in the suburbs. To gain access, one had to first enter the front door and greet Kenny’s mother, a stout, warm-hearted Scottish woman who politely tolerated the incongruous tide that migrated in twos and threes up the stairs and into the lair. Artistic critiques and appraisals, planning sessions, political negotiations, and intoxicated revelry all took place there, often simultaneously amidst ear-crushing tunes and exciting chaos.”

More than an enthusiast and collector, and before joining the Hated, Kenny played drums for the Spastic Rats. The Rats “represented a new iteration of punk — its arrival in the small towns and suburbs of America,” observed Andrew Richardson, who now runs the Record Exchange. A few years older than the Hated, the Rats “were like our exemplars,” remembers Daniel. “And they were tough. They were cool. They had it together.” The punk rock scene was very small, with people mostly knowing one another from school or from the neighborhood, or else they were directly related, as with Tristan and Les Lentz, Daniel and Miggy, and Erik and Jason. There was some generational overlap, too, not just in the figure of Kenny himself, but also with several other Annapolis bands influenced by early punk like The Monuments, Judy’s Fixation, and with a more enduring group called the Motor Morons, who in a different incarnation are actually still playing today. To get a sense of the weird Annapolis of the early 1980s (and to some extent the punk scene), you have to know about the Morons.

The scene coalesced around what was called The Institute, which was a little like an Annapolis version of The Factory of Andy Warhol and the Velvet Underground. The Morons really were a fixture in Annapolis—so while the title The Institute might have been tongue-in-cheek in the late 70s and early 80s, they actually did become a kind of institution or foundation for other things in Annapolis, at least as measured by the Morons’ impact, along with local eccentric figures like Monroe, an artist associated with the scene who used to create artwork from discarded objects in various lots and front yards around town.

A lot of us have scattered memories about the Institute and assorted figures and bands from that scene. But as with other things connected to contemporary American music and Annapolis, Miggy supplied really insightful context and memories. An adept musician and knowledgable collector himself, he chronicled the atmosphere of this scene. “Annapolis had a thing like the Merry Pranksters,” he explained. “This older guard of derelicts, a posse of about 30 people. And they were all members of the Church of the Sub-genius, which is kind of like…[Laughter] They had these Spring Solstice parties with acid punch and bonfires and all around were car parts and bicycle parts and live bands playing. The Motor Morons’ music was like, informed by the garage rock and the early punk rock before it was even called that. They saw the Stooges. They saw the MC5. When they heard the Ramones, they were already grown, you know, and they understood the lineage of what was happening. It was early, early psychedelic rock and roll, but sped up. Chuck Berry riffs played really fast. But they were also into all of this sort of musique concrète and experimental type music, like tape loop and noise music, which was incorporated by 60s bands like The 13th Floor Elevators, Fifty Foot Hose, Silver Apples, who the lead singer lived in Annapolis for a long time…”

“But” Miggy continued, at least in those days, “the Motor Morons had no traditional instruments except for a drummer. And Sam, the bassist, had like one piano bass string strung on his bass. They had one guy playing cans that would shoot sparks off of a buffer. They had a weed whacker player. And then they had this guy Monty, who played like a circuit board with wires that were hooked up to an amplifier. Every time he would touch wires, it would make a crazy electronic music sound, but it would also electrocute him while he was doing it. He would sometimes wear aluminum foil on his fingers, and it would just shock him and send off volts of electricity while he played. And one time the Morons played a show where there was a low ceiling, and they nailed his boots to the ceiling. He got in them and hung upside down and electrocuted himself while his body flailed around…

“But” Miggy continued, at least in those days, “the Motor Morons had no traditional instruments except for a drummer. And Sam, the bassist, had like one piano bass string strung on his bass. They had one guy playing cans that would shoot sparks off of a buffer. They had a weed whacker player. And then they had this guy Monty, who played like a circuit board with wires that were hooked up to an amplifier. Every time he would touch wires, it would make a crazy electronic music sound, but it would also electrocute him while he was doing it. He would sometimes wear aluminum foil on his fingers, and it would just shock him and send off volts of electricity while he played. And one time the Morons played a show where there was a low ceiling, and they nailed his boots to the ceiling. He got in them and hung upside down and electrocuted himself while his body flailed around…

These bands were often within earshot, and had an influential aura. Another of these local bands was Christ on a Crutch, “good friends of ours from the early days,” said Daniel. “Jerry, Wayne, Glenn…they were a brilliant, truly great unsung DC punk band. They opened for Samhain, which we thought was really cool. Jerry was a great guitarist and singer. Amazing voice. He was a lobster fisherman for a while. We both were huge Hendrix fans. He was in a hilarious and inspired experimental punk band called Sarcastic Orgasm (one of the best band names of all time), and they had a group house in DC and put on punk shows there sometimes. When you played there you performed in front of this wall of broken TV sets, from floor to ceiling. They wrote brilliant, politically charged, bitterly funny songs and really were loyal friends to us, helped us with gigs, lent us gear. Wayne, their drummer, was also a good friend who would drive to Annapolis and hang with us. We’d drink down by the water at St. Johns and near the Naval Academy, and listen to hardcore punk music on a box under the bridge. We listened to a ton of stuff, DC hardcore, Black Flag, Misfits, Crucifucks, Bad Brains, Go-go music like Trouble Funk, Chuck Brown & The Soul Searchers, EU, and early hip hop music like Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five’s ‘The Message,’ Run DMC. Wayne and I both loved ‘Controversy’ by Prince and we were the only ones who were all in on that in our crew, so we rocked that song until people got it. COAC really supported and befriended us as a band and embraced our small scene.”

What’s in a Name

Hate is in the eye of the beholder. Journalist Alexander Cockburn used to ask young writers who sought his council— is your hatred pure? By which he meant, was it clear-eyed and passionate, as opposed to merely cynical or personal. In his nineteenth century essay “On the Pleasure of Hating,” William Hazlitt noted that “Love turns, with a little indulgence, to indifference or disgust: hatred alone is immortal.” Throughout his life, Hazlitt remained steadfast and unrepentant in his antagonism towards power and authority. By hatred he meant a variety of things: a celebration of the clash of opposites, of “nature’s antipathies,” a sort of ongoing creative destruction, and “a secret affinity…that takes delight in mischief.” What do we talk about when we talk about hate? Here’s drummer Kenny Hill (“Cannon Ball”) in CRAB Magazine on the Hated’s first release in 1985.

Hate is in the eye of the beholder. Journalist Alexander Cockburn used to ask young writers who sought his council— is your hatred pure? By which he meant, was it clear-eyed and passionate, as opposed to merely cynical or personal. In his nineteenth century essay “On the Pleasure of Hating,” William Hazlitt noted that “Love turns, with a little indulgence, to indifference or disgust: hatred alone is immortal.” Throughout his life, Hazlitt remained steadfast and unrepentant in his antagonism towards power and authority. By hatred he meant a variety of things: a celebration of the clash of opposites, of “nature’s antipathies,” a sort of ongoing creative destruction, and “a secret affinity…that takes delight in mischief.” What do we talk about when we talk about hate? Here’s drummer Kenny Hill (“Cannon Ball”) in CRAB Magazine on the Hated’s first release in 1985.

Taha Muhammad Ali wrote “My happiness bears no relation to happiness;” maybe the Hated’s hate bears no relation to hate. There are many elements involved with this moniker, including irony, taking pride in being despised, and the thrill of saying fuck you to those running society and ruining the world. Dan summed up the Hated’s ethos: “From the beginning we were suspicious of everything: institutions, heroes, communities, arrogance, power, ourselves, our town, ambition, success, beauty, popularity, punk, hippies, sports, yuppies, patriotism, money, machismo, violence, normality, conformity…And we developed a darkly sardonic humor, built on a particularly elaborate cosmology of inside jokes and hermetically sealed secret references which maybe cultivated a sort of fortified isolation, even as we tried to make a conspiratorial underground of invented language and shared intent for ourselves and our friends…We were seeking depth and meaning and light in the context of all this spoon-fed brain rot of Cold War, corporatist, moral majority, idiotic racist USA.“

Erik came up with the name and iconic image of The Hated—significantly, I think, while living outside the US—on an intense four month personal-spiritual-cultural sojourn traveling and living on a kibbutz in Israel. (Incidentally, it was a journey he almost didn’t make because his passport mysteriously vanished—the result, he later learned, of another local band [Christ on a Crutch] swiping it from his bedroom, in a convoluted plot to keep him in the country and persuade him to join their band!) “During that time,” Erik told me, “I did a lot of introspection and reflection, a lot of writing and a lot of recording. And that’s when I came up with the name the Hated, and almost the same day, I just envisioned it on an American flag, then sent Daniel a letter: I was like, this is the name of your new band! And meanwhile, he’s back in Annapolis recording songs that he had written and that I had written. So when I got back in town, we just hit the ground running. A lot of the stuff that Daniel and I have always done, just an extraordinary degree of it has been unspoken, but understood.”

There was a sort of international perspective built in to the Hated’s worldview. Erik always seemed to have a cosmopolitan outlook, and many of the songs he wrote reflect that. His grandmother was born in Alsace, that border town that sometimes fell in France, sometimes in Germany, as national lines were redrawn over the years. Kenny’s mom was an immigrant from Scotland, Dan’s mom came from the Philippines, and so they grew up automatically with a broader sense of the culture, politics, music, and language than just what they experienced in Annapolis and the US. Maybe this cemented the band’s sort of outsider perspective, and maybe this flavor has something to do with the Hated’s appeal, or reflects at least how Hated music has circulated through the US, and across borders, turning up like objects carried by ocean currents to distant landscapes.

Almost everyone I spoke to about the Hated had a similar story about their music, and/or about some fragment related to Annapolis surfacing unexpectedly. Sometimes these anecdotes took place in truly far flung and curious places. I met a Hated fan once in Turkey; one of my current students in the Netherlands knew about the Hated because his father is into 80s hardcore. And back in the 1990s, while living in Chile, I met a guy from southern Temuco (Pablo Neruda’s hometown) who was wearing a tee shirt with a cartoon map of my hometown and the message “Annapolis Elementary School Playground Reconstruction Project.” Remarkable Annapolis connections and origin stories pop up with surprising frequency, especially related to music.

Bill Pettaway, a musician and producer who has worked with Missy Eliot and Justin Timberlake and a band called Mars (with his neighbors Jerry Merkel and Marvin Ennis), grew up in Annapolis. (Years ago while pumping gas at the Eastport Shell station, Pettaway wrote the song “Girl You Know It’s True,” which the German duo Milli Vanilli covered and scored a major hit in 1988.) The R&B band Star Point, who made 10 nationally played albums in the 80s, was also out of Annapolis—singer Renée Diggs grew up on Bestgate Road. The next-door neighbor of the Littleton’s is Gary Toney, a Howard University graduate who played in the 70s with Chuck Brown and his band, The Soul Searchers, featuring saxophonist LeRoy Fleming, which pioneered the Go-go sound out of D.C.. He also played in Scacy Sound Service, a locally known group which put out the 1972 hit “Sunshine,” and hung out with a band called The Young Senators (incredibly, Numero has also rereleased both the Senators and the Searchers). One day, after hearing the Hated rehearsing, Toney came by to check out the band, picked up a pair of drumsticks, and blew them all away with his skill playing soul and funk. It wasn’t just his playing, but that there was a figure like this literally next door seemed astounding. Yet there were so many of these rich cultural, musical juxtapositions and influences that were just part of the fabric of small town life in Annapolis in those days. Examples are plentiful—it really seems uncanny. Clearly, the Hated didn’t just come out of nowhere.

The Place of Music and the Music of Place

They didn’t come from nowhere, but how did they start, as individual musicians and as a band? Although always led by Dan and Erik, who wrote and sang the songs, everyone involved in making this music was talented, distinctive, and creative. The main people were drummer Mike Bonner, who was highly adept and energetic, and later played in Stagger Stagger Crawl and other bands. Various bassists played with different incarnations of the Hated, including Andrew Richardson, and then, several years later, John Irvine was involved on many releases. Colin Meeder played bass during some key moments and on some great songs, and later teamed up with Daniel in another band called Three Shades of Dirty. (There were others who contributed musically, too, like Jason Fisher and Charles Evans, but only briefly and nothing that appears on the recordings on TWPS Volume 4.)

Daniel and Erik knew each other from early childhood, and Daniel was often around the Fisher house with his classmate and Erik’s younger brother, Jason. Dan and Erik also sang together in a church choir… In fact, the spiritual aspects of their outlook and sound ran pretty deep— Daniel’s parents met in seminary school; Erik’s mom sang in the choir, as well. Dan’s family was extremely musical—his sister played the violin masterfully, and Michael Littleton Sr. was an accomplished pianist, and loved and played in their home Thelonious Monk, Bill Evans, Dave Brubeck, and Duke Ellington. Miggy, too, is a talented musician (and would later play in Ida with Daniel). Both Dan and Miggy described how their father would play music for them and not speak, just close his eyes and sway back and forth, absorbed. This imparted to them something that’s clearly been essential: that music was extremely compelling, and was to be approached with reverence and gratitude.

Erik recalls their first getting together: “Both our dads taught at St. John’s, and our parents knew one another. But Daniel and I were never really friends, partly because he was best friends with Jason, my younger brother. But at some point, something happened between us, I think we just started having these deep conversations. And that led to both of us journaling, and then we would sort of get together and talk about what we had written and what we were listening to. We were very taken by music and by philosophical, religious, and theological reflections, as well as poetry, art, and just anything that showed a social consciousness or an unusual perspective on life. These things would be swirling in the background: we were just on the same wavelength. So it was really intense, really powerful, and really beautiful. Soon after that, it kind of happened in rapid succession where, you know, we started conversing, we started writing, and then I think I bought a guitar. And then, you know…”

Daniel related stories of getting his first guitar. When he was in fourth grade, his family lived for half the school year in Spain on the Costa del Sol, staying in the house of one of his father’s colleague’s from St. John’s College. This was 1970s Spain, maybe a year after Franco’s 40 year dictatorship had ended, in a poor region of the country, so things looked and felt really different, not only than Annapolis, but even from other parts of Spain as well. Although there were glamorous parts, and the beaches were a glitzy destination even then, the region remained largely rural and isolated in a way that’s almost unimaginable in today’s hyperconnected world where tourists go everywhere. Daniel remembers being intrigued by the alcazabas and Moorish architecture generally, the layers of civilizations still apparent in buildings, roads, food, music, language and in people’s features. Phoenicians, Romans, Visigoths, and Arabs all had been there for centuries and helped produce the unique mixture of cultures, gypsy and Jewish and Christian and Muslim…His early encounter there with the guitar had an almost mythological impact.

Up in the hills near Granada, he recounted, “there were these sort of caravans, tents, and markets and stores, and maybe even people’s homes in caves, I think, like built into the mountains…And my father said, we have to go up there to get you a guitar. He must have just known that that would be a thing I would like. So we drive up there, the two of us, and wander through these crowded spaces dug into the hillside among market stalls. Eventually, we find this place and inside there were just rows and rows of guitars. And nobody’s there, just this shopkeeper, this luthier, who’s made these instruments, you know, and he’s looking at us, these two obvious foreigners. I think he was trying to figure out the connection between my father and I, since we don’t look alike.

“Slowly, we get to this row of small ones, like for kids, quarter size or half size guitars. And my father found a nice one that would fit my body, and played it. And it just rang true. He showed me where to put my fingers, he taught me an E minor chord. And he looked me in the eye, and he played and sang the Johnny Cash song, Ghost Riders in the Sky!! [Laughter.] I guess he was kind of joking around, but he hit the E minor chord and just played—in that dug out cave in flamenco country.

“And the shopkeeper clocked it all, he saw what my father was doing, showing his kid this instrument. So he comes over and gestures for the guitar, and takes it and looks me in the eye, and starts to play, and he just plays the fuck out of that thing. Like, let me show you what it can do, this amazing flamenco strumming and technique. He played with such ferocity and fire and beauty, and it was like nothing I had heard before. And I was just like, WHAT?! What just happened?! And all of a sudden, right there, things just shifted for me, it was really an auspicious day in my life.

“After that, I had that guitar and I’m really in to just figuring things out. I played everything I could on it, you know, Beatles songs, Jimi Hendrix, on that little guitar with nylon strings. And pretty soon I’m making up goofy songs, and playing things with Miggy, and having fun. We have our own little private music culture between us to this day. It’s amazing and our own special kind of damage.

“Erik got an electric guitar. He was the first one to get it. For the first three or four years that I played, it was that little flamenco guitar that my father had taken me to get in Spain. And, you know, Erik was getting into playing guitar, and he just was ready to do something different. He loved rock and roll music and really wanted to play, and he got a pawn shop electric guitar. But it was electric— you could plug it in, you know, that was awesome, and so he had bragging rights. And I think when he caught on that I was playing, even though I was three years younger, I became a little more interesting, like, I became a little more on his radar.

“The first electric guitar I got was after my grandfather died and we were living for a while with my grandmother out on Thomas Point Road. And there was this kid nearby, this hippie kid named Curt, who was a little older, who was sitting on his porch or in his front yard playing his electric guitar. I’m passing by, and just stopped and I’m watching and listening. Finally, he’s like, come over here, you know, and motioned for me to come over and asked me if I play guitar. And I say, Yeah, I’m trying to play. Well, he let me play his guitar. And by that time, I’m really good. I’ve been practicing on my little flamenco guitar for a few years already. And I think I just freaked him out showing off what I could do because I was small, just a little kid. He flipped out. But he was like, you don’t have an electric guitar?! He couldn’t believe it. I’m like, I’ve got this little nylon string guitar that’s got a big crack on the body. So he went into his garage and he pulled out his old electric guitar. And just like that, he gave it to me! A gift!

“And then, you know, I just advanced really fast. I was playing all the time, just furiously. And at one point, Erik and I got together and jammed at his house. And I think he got like a little bit ripped, that I had kind of jumped ahead of him on the guitar. And I think that’s when he smashed his guitar. He might remember this differently, but I think he was sort of like, fuck, cuz I was just like a little demon. You know, I’d wake up in the morning, just dreaming of playing, I just have to learn every Jimi Hendrix song, you know.

“Soon Erik and I started writing together. At that point, you know, we’re getting high and doing all the shit that we were doing at that time. I remember we got really stoned together one time and we wrote a couple of songs, our first songs. One of them was “Celestial Commuters.” Rapidly nodding his head, Daniel sings

“Celestial commuters! Is that a fact?
They go to the moon, and they don’t come back.”

“There was another song that Erik wrote—I wrote the chords and he wrote the lyrics—called Annihilate the Populace. And I think you can imagine that was kind of like a darker theme than Celestial Commuters…”

That darkness was a real element for all of us during those 1980s years, and exerted a force on our experience and some of the songs, as well. One aspect of it (which also had a light side) was being targeted as ‘hooligans’ by the police and local newspaper during that time. But as boys growing up, especially walking home after school, there was just a lot of fighting, some of it quite aggressive, some of it racially tinged, too. (Both Mike Bonner and Daniel recall periodic ‘race’ riots at Annapolis Jr and Sr High). On streets downtown and in the hallways at school, the disdain from many conventional kids toward us was palpable (at one point Daniel nicknamed himself “Germ”). But more than the hostility from some of our peers, the belligerence from adults toward us probably had the strongest repercussions. Daniel remembers shopkeepers downtown using racial slurs against him, and being grabbed forcefully by the arm or literally pushed away. Aggressive men looked to take out their frustrations on the skinny teenaged boys with torn clothes, funny hair, and smart mouths. Drunken Naval Academy midshipmen might shout “faggot” or lob beer bottles. Our public school teachers eventually grew tired of us, and sent us to the office, where punishment was the Vice Principal whacking your ass with a thick wooden paddle. Referral forms and detention slips decried our “problems with authority.”

It shouldn’t be overstated, but these things had real impact. As teenagers, you begin to look around and see the world a bit more clearly, and to take notice of the forces running things. Our personal experience shed light on contemporary events like the brutality in apartheid South Africa, the military aggression in Central America, and elsewhere. These situations seemed to suddenly become legible, viscerally and appallingly comprehensible—and all of it so unacceptable. (This was the early days of the secret wars on Central America, of arms-for-drugs-and-hostages Iran Contra, in which the CIA supplied arms to militias in Nicaragua and imported crack cocaine directly into the urban US, a project led by Naval Academy graduates John Poindexter and Oliver North. These were exactly the sorts of brutal upstanding figures that seemed familiar to us, and their actions were soon followed by the Tailhook Scandal, where it was revealed that rowdy Annapolis cadets had chained, beaten, and raped their female colleagues). One response to this political and social violence was the articulate anger and expressive energy found in punk rock.

“Rubber Bullets” and “Hey Mister” address these themes directly. “Rubber Bullets” is about the US supported apartheid system, but “Hey Mister” makes the connections more explicit between local and global brutality, between personal and national assaults. One moment in the song references an incident that took place when someone from our scene, Mike Kabler (Sneaker), was beaten by a man on the side of the road. He had been hitchhiking and one driver didn’t like getting the middle finger, pulled over, got out and punched our 16 year old friend in the face. But we celebrated Sneaker’s response as a heroic and defiant punk gesture, which was to chase after the man as he fled, spitting and flinging blood at him and on his car, whose license plates he remembered (“you were there when that kid got attacked, license plate number 347 ACK”). Beyond expressing anger, the lyrics were thoughtful, addressing the adult authorities (Hey mister!): “I heard your story. I was just wondering what you had to say.”

Erik’s maturity, insight, and good will helped Daniel quite a bit. “He was literally a savior for me,” Dan explained. “He was like an older brother, who was like, let’s start a band. You know, that was really a turning point in my life, to have something that I kind of found on my own and with my own friends that was away from or outside a hostile environment and certain kinds of pressures and frustrations, something less frightening. It was like a crew, a group of people who were just doing something creative together. I didn’t feel I had a place in our school or in our town, I just wasn’t sure about any of that. And I started getting really angry, and self-destructive and scared and…”

“That’s Words Come Back,” I said.

“Yeah, totally. That song was really about being targeted. But it was more than that, too, because it was about feeling like, I don’t know, like we might not have had all the words to articulate it really well, but…you know, we tried, we said and did what we could…And that song came out, and it just rang true to me, you know, with what we were all going through, I think. All these people who could have supported each other were instead enacting this inherited rage, and there was no way we could look at that as kids and make sense of it.”

In a different way than Erik, Kenny Hill was a gentle and wise presence that made the Hated work, even though at times, maybe due to his weight or his heart, he struggled musically to keep up with the extremes required to play drums in a punk band. (Les from LSP remembers him as enthusiastic but often exhausted and overwhelmed in the studio.) But before Kenny joined the band, there was Mike Bonner.

”He had no idea how good he was,” said Daniel. “We knew instantly, however, that Mike Bonner was maybe the best drummer we’d ever seen. It was insane what this guy could do. He was basically a prog-rock drummer who put hardcore to shame. I think he was really one of the great hardcore punk drummers. His dad was involved in film production, and wasn’t always around. So for a while we played in his nice house overlooking Spa Creek and we could just do whatever we wanted to do there. In the winter the creek froze and we could just walk across the ice to Bonner’s house from the woods behind Bates and go to practice. I got along great with him from the beginning. We had some good times together and he was funny as hell. That guy could play anything, man. It was pretty astonishing. Any of the Stewart Copeland, Genesis/PhilCollins, Bruford, Zeppelin stuff was easy for him— all this really technically challenging music, he could just eat it for lunch. He could play reggae grooves and fills that were really beautiful, subtle, and relaxed; it was a style of playing he really had great respect for and was mystified by, but he could really play it. He was a natural, a truly gifted drummer.”

Erik knew Bonner from Annapolis High School, and everyone remembers him as extremely talented on the drums. His personal style (Hawaiian shirts, flip flops) and musical tastes did not match up with the rest of the band, maybe, but he could play everything with skill and high energy. “My parents got me a snare drum in junior high school and I would just kick out beats,” he said. “I taught myself to play pretty quickly, just listening to records, and watching MTV. My favorite drummers were Niel Pearts of Rush, and Phil Collins. I loved big drum sets with lots of cymbals. I wasn’t that good, really. But Dan was a prodigy on guitar. Erik was also amazing. I remember Colin as making a serious effort. Most of the time we were all high as shit, but we worked together really well.

“One time we drove up to Pennsylvania to record and play, I think in a church—we always seemed to be playing in churches—and stayed in a barn. We went up there in my father’s station wagon—I was the only one with a driver’s license. We got super drunk and stoned at night, and like drove around in circles in some cow field…But we somehow played really tight, and everyone was super dedicated and serious.”

“I think the first time we ever played together in front of a crowd was at Annapolis High School’s ‘Battle of the Bands,’ which was fun as hell,” said Mike. Colin remembers that show, too. For a few months, they had a singer named Charlie Evans (Chaz), who was a brilliant and hilarious fuck-up, and who was highly destructive, mostly towards himself. For the show, “Chaz got extremely drunk and threw up and passed out,” Colin remembers. “We had entered twice, as Geek Patrol and Fit of Rage, and when they realized what we had done, Mr. Greenfield pulled the plug…Chaz was just an insane presence at all times. Once he even smashed my instrument, which was new at the time. I got a bass for my thirteenth birthday, a Bradley Precision Bass copy probably made in Korea. But fortunately hitting it with a baseball bat didn’t totally mess up the sound. Shortly after the battle of the bands fiasco, I think Erik broke his arm skateboarding, and so he mainly sang for a while before he could get back on guitar…”

Tall and gangly, with large hands and feet, Colin had a friendly, smart-aleck demeanor, and was and is very intelligent. Back then, if you got him talking about one of his musical passions, you’d have trouble stopping him. “It had been my dream since I was like eight to be in a punk band,” he said. “I come from a hardcore musical family. My two brothers are professional musicians. My sister’s a music teacher. My mother was a soprano. My grandfather was … I mean, it’s generations of music. That’s just what you did. And I did the school band stuff and was considered kind of a prodigy on the trumpet, which I wasn’t, but I was good.”

“Dan’s mother and my father worked together on a coffeehouse project, funded by the YWCA called Toadstool (a youth run place on State Circle). And that was apparently super important for what became the Annapolis folk music scene. Some of the 98Rock and WHFS DJs [radio stations out of D.C. we all listened to] came out of that place. Real important to a bunch of Johnny’s and local music culture in the late 60s, early 70s. At some point the Black Panthers were even going to come and speak…”

Colin recalls meeting Daniel in seventh grade. “I don’t have a D Boone meets Mike Watt story,” he says. “But he was just immediately attractive to me as musical and super brilliant and a bad kid in a different way than bad kids were bad.“ They became fast friends, sharing a zeal for punk and Prog rock and all sorts of music and lore around instruments and records and radio stations. “I liked… I liked the consistency and the emotional urgency of rock and roll and opera, too. And I came to that because I could play parts in an orchestra, I could have a sense of parts in a band. But…I didn’t really have a strong hierarchical sense, and there was always a hierarchy working with Dan and Erik.

“Back when I started playing with Dan and Erik, really I couldn’t play very well. I could hear better than I could play. And I wanted to do stuff with the limited things that I could do,” he said. As you listen to these Hated songs, you can hear that he did quite well.

Dan remembers getting together with Colin. “I became friends with this kid who obsessively listened to WHFS when it was still independent in its programming approach and playing more adventurous non-mainstream non-obvious shit. His older brother played guitar and played in some kind of prog band. He was bright, knew about Ornette Coleman, King Crimson, and Gentle Giant. That stood out to me because I liked that stuff, too. We both had crushes on Exene from watching X play songs from Under The Big Black Sun on American Bandstand in 1982. He was a weirdo, and though we had really different experiences (he was a school band kid, a good student who stayed away from drugs and partying, whereas I was a stoner freak, a smoker, and a troublemaker who rarely went to classes, did drugs, got into confrontations with teachers, administrators and got bullied by violent racist asshole kids). But we found common ground with music. We both saw each other as kids who didn’t fit in. We were both in our different ways outsider kids, though not the most obvious of friend choices for each other. The good connections we made talking about music, led to us getting together and playing a few times and a genuine friendship developed. We played and sang songs from ‘In The Court Of The Crimson King’ together and shit like that. We both had an intense appreciation for the first U.K album; I was trying to figure out Alan Holdsworth’s guitar parts, and we were both really moved by the song ‘Nevermore.’ He was a trained trumpet player, but really wanted to play bass. His mom was an opera singer, his dad had been an actor and an activist. I tried to get him to jam with Erik a few times, too. But at that time he was really just getting started with bass. In 1985, we asked Colin to join The Hated for the first of his two runs with us, as our bass player.”

Flavors of Hated: Mystical Feedback and CRAB

There are several different flavors of Hated, different styles or modes of expression. They often overlap, but various strains of their sound are easily discernible. A lot of it was extremely loud, some of it angry and political, some ethereal with quiet, pretty melodies, some sarcastic and mocking, some typical adolescent boy, proto-Bevis-and-Butthead antics; a lot of it is playful and harmonically complex, some is truly weird and experimental and out there. But everything was done with the same kind of finesse and intensity, from the writing and rehearsing to performing and even the ways they talked about their music. All of this set them apart from other bands and other artists I knew.

Without appreciating these assorted modes of expression, you can’t really grok the Hated. Two aspects are worth exploring here: the characteristic feedback that was such a ubiquitous element and possibly more introspective; and then the more outwardly looking sarcastic humor, as maybe best exemplified by CRAB.

I asked Erik to talk about the distortion, the incredibly dissonant sounds, the extended shrieking guitar, the sort of reverb…

Erik: “I think of it as feedback, not reverb—this sort of loud, whinging sound that happens when you put a guitar up close to the amplifier and you’re getting waves of sound building, and they gather force to the point where they actually DISRUPT.…I’m thinking of soldiers marching over a bridge, making the bridge resonate with the same frequency as the soldiers. I think it’s called mechanical resonance. And that has even caused bridges to collapse—there’s at least one example I know of. But this kind of harmonic resonance or feedback can only be created with an electric guitar. It’s kind of unavoidable when you’re playing really loud and in close quarters and the guitar gets close to the amplifier, feedback is kind of inevitable.

“Pete Townshend was a big idol for both Daniel and I and he would just destroy his instruments at the end of a show. He was a master of feedback. So one way to think about that sound is, we were sort of elaborating on an art form — you know, it’s sort of an urge… We really admired The Who, because they just destroyed their instruments at the end of a show. The HAD to do it, there was just so much energy built up, so much tension. On some level, we just sort of transmuted that impulse, so instead of smashing our equipment, we just channeled that energy into this droning feedback.

“There was also this sort of Fripp and Eno aspect to it. Like Daniel and I used to get stoned, and play chess, and just BLAST Fripp and Eno in his basement, stuff like No Pussyfooting. So Robert Fripp produced these big long moaning gentle winding distorted guitar, like whale sounds. Just incredible dives. It was definitely an art form, taking that distorted sound and…But there was also something incredibly soothing about the sound—that captivated me, at least—the sound just sort of feeding back on itself and sort of zoning out on it. It had kind of a healing effect, a mesmerizing effect for me. And I encountered it in many different places: bagpipes, even like medieval instruments like the hurdy-gurdy [The hurdy-gurdy is a string instrument that produces sound by a hand-crank-turned, rosined wheel rubbing against the strings]. It’s an ethereal drone, and it’s hinted at in some early classical music, like early polyphony, maybe even some of the Bach organ music that I used to spend a lot of time listening to back then.

“There something almost sacred, also as with bagpipes, which have this reverence… So like all of that is going into this feedback stuff, this thinking and listening background goes into how we came to that sound. It was more than just like Jimi Hendrix or even some of the more contemporaneous stuff we also listened to and loved— You know, I had a Gibson SG in those early days, which was a very thin guitar, and feedback would just come out of it so easily, and it was just so beautiful and so sweet.

“One last thought on that. ‘Hate Me’ makes use of those harmonics, those really high notes, it’s another vibratory thing. It’s like another example of how this sound just like keeps going and keeps mesmerizing.”

I asked: What does the seriousness—-whether political or… what would you call it? these sonic experiments—what do they have to do with the sarcasm, the parody, all that biting, mocking stuff, like in CRAB and especially as well in some of songs on TWPS Vol 4?

“They sort of balance each other out: you don’t get one without the other,” says Erik. (And here I can’t help but hear an echo of Hazlitt’s essay on hate: celebrating “nature’s antipathies”and “a secret affinity…that takes delight in mischief.”) “It might sound sort of funny or unexpected, but ‘Hate Me’ was also a turning point for me in terms of song writing. You know, beyond the comedic and parodic qualities, which were obviously important, there was also this serious side, too, this sense of like rage, you know, all that the hopelessness and helplessness, and the sort of protests…

“And that balance between the serious and sarcastic is kind of mirrored in the electric and acoustic sounds… There’s something about integrating opposites, balancing both sides…like that reference at the end of Rubber Bullets—“only one side”, right?—it’s saying, you know, politically and ethically and socially if you’re just taking one side in an argument, you’re going to be sort of hardened, and narrowed and limited, and it’s just going to perpetuate injustice. And this is what happens when you only see one side: you can’t see, you have no empathy for the other side.”

Erik is hitting on the deep connections between ethics and aesthetics. His eloquent reflections highlight another important element when evaluating one’s responses to the Hated, and to music and art generally—namely, why do we like what we like? how do aesthetics inform ethics, and vice-versa? (As a St. John’s graduate, he undoubtedly has some additional thoughts on Immanuel Kant’s famous treatise on ethics and aesthetics.)

It seems appropriate that Dan and Erik would often go and play in the pendulum pit at the center of the stairwell in Melon Hall at St. Johns College, where the university had built a Foucault’s pendulum, which uses magnets and a pendulum to demonstrate the Earth’s rotation. The stone and concrete space gives a vast cavernous reverb and is a natural echo chamber. “Singing in there was like connecting your voice to the center of the Earth,” recalled Daniel. “Your words and their vibrations would hang and in the air for a really long time. All through the Hated years, Erik and I would play and rehearse there, and perform acoustically for friends.”

But the counterweight to this more solemn aspect of their sound and approach, the other end of the pendulum of this style, was equally important. This side ”manifested as a kind of disposition of hate and vague resistance towards norms, authority figures and powerful forces” explained Daniel. “But this oppositional attitude (with the exception of certain issues that we felt required specific direct action and active resistance) was not necessarily always directed at others outwardly so much, but found expression in our music, in the ways we wore our weirdness, embodied it, symbolized and interpreted the world through it. And humor was central to everything we did. We could always trigger in each other these fits of spontaneous choking laughter, seemingly non-sequitur coded linkages and rejoinders to pointless arguments, trading of philosophical aphorisms with quasi mystical musings, spontaneous songs, some navel gazing for sure, but some provocatively insightful shit was happening as well (all along) and just seemed to be indicating some imminent, inevitable shift or something…CRAB helped us to focus all this energy for a year or so and reflected our ambivalence and concerns and humor pretty well. Somehow it helped to keep us all moving.”

CRAB was a local zine founded, edited, produced, and largely written by Erik. But despite being mostly a one-man project, many people were involved in the writing and artwork and ideas; it was a kind of expression of the Annapolis scene. Some pages printed a hand-scrawled, official “Warning: Opinions within may be HATED,” which appeared with the Hated logo. Using a typewriter, photographs often taken and developed by Erik or his brother Jason, an exacto knife, glue, Scotch tape, and various pens and pencils, Erik would lay out the zine, then photocopy and staple together several hundred four-by-seven-inch black and white editions, and distribute them around town. CRAB was about music and the scene. It printed reviews of shows in D.C., interviews, cartoons, stuff on politics; one cover featured D Boone after he died tragically in a car accident; Miggy contributed reports on professional wrestling. CRAB’s subheading was “As serious as you took it.”

It came out of Annapolis, where Chesapeake Bay blue crabs and oysters are a big part of its history and landscape, so “it had to be called CRAB,” says Erik. “But I wasn’t sure what the acronym stood for…until Stu [John Wynn] declared “Citizens for the Reeducation of the Annapolis Bourgeoisie.” They knew they had it then. Even this acronym had its sarcastic counter-voice, articulated first by pre-Hated Kenny Hill, who teased back “Critically Righteous Arrogant Buttheads,” which the magazine, always anti-doctrinaire, also of course printed. CRAB was the contrarian’s contrarian. In those days Kenny Hill resembled Buddha: wise, often jolly, with a round belly. CRAB averred: “Kenny isn’t fat, either” and “There is also no such word as cheese.”

This last statement was a cryptic allusion to perhaps several things, since “cheese” was a common metaphor Erik and Daniel used that might stand for anything they wanted. Two totally distinct cheese references exhibit their wily use of the term. One was some recordings they made called “The Ambient Cheese Series,” 90 minute TDK tapes “filled with (what we considered to be) beautiful noise and extended contemplative echo drenched jams, spontaneous improvisations over open string drones, repetitive and hypnotic rhythms and chord progressions” explains Daniel. “Calling it ‘cheese’ gave us freedom to do anything we wanted, it could be mellow or free of obvious structure, extreme combinations of loud and quiet sounds, or open ended lugubrious spooked jams. It was lo-fi, homemade, all instrumental, guitar based music created with copious amounts of weed, cheap Sangre de Toro wine, cigarettes, and occasionally Backwoods Smokes (a nod to the classic Clint Eastwood westerns with the incredible Moroccan soundtracks). Erik even had a poncho for a minute. We worked with what we had, and it was really an intensely creative time for us. Using distortion and feedback and volume and effects in this way was like the closest we could get to the sounds we could hear in our heads.”

But likely here in CRAB, the ‘no such word as cheese’ referenced another project, “We are the Cheese,” a version of which is included here on TWPS Volume 4, a demo made by Erik, Colin, and Dan, with Les on drums for the first part of the song, and everyone singing with utter conviction.

“It’s not funny anymore, everything is going wrong,
there’s nothing you can do but sing along…
We are the cheese
We are the cancer…”

CRAB’s review explains the vision and the performance:

On Friday afternoon, August 23, numerous people began showing up in the basement of LSP studio as the result of a flyer passed along by the hands of various geeks and hooligans. It was a nice, warm day, and the people had come to sing “We Are the Cheese.” Conceived by two of the editors of this zine at a church organ, the band Mayonnaise Youth had rewritten the lyrics and stolen the music from the monster pop hit “We Are the World.” The undertaking was not expected to yield any profit, and LSP generously (and stupidly) footed the bill. The project was seen as a direct attack on Wham, Bruce Springsteen, Madonna, and pop music in general.

Approximately 30 people showed up, ranging from band members to skate punks to metal heads, and sang into a single microphone. It was indeed a day of infamy…Why did we do it? WHO CARES, you can purchase a recording on the second version of “a crabtown compilation” for $3 from Vermin Scum, or send a blank tape and some stamps to: CRAB Magazine: 86 Conduit St. Annapolis, MD, 21401

Like the stapled together zine and the gathering of fervent misfits at LSP, so much of the culture of our scene was makeshift, held together with duct tape, impromptu.

But CRAB Magazine was about more than parody and local music. It was about the local scene, and as such, it covered the “hooligan” beat, of course. With ironic pride and humor, a lot of us identified with the image of the hooligan constructed in early 80s Annapolis. We were denizens of downtown and were clearly the targets of an official anti-hooligan campaign enforced by the police, which seems even more ludicrous and demented today than it did in 1984 and 85. Sometimes CRAB’s critique involved nothing more than reprinting a headline or an editorial from The Evening Capital, since the Annapolis paper’s actual words were themselves so incriminating, so self-evidently absurd, and reflected the basic outlook of the establishment—of money and power and authority.

To illustrate, one editorial, a regular feature called “Our Say,” appeared under the headline “Hooliganism: It must stop.” “Pedestrian alleyways” it began, “are becoming targets of expressive ‘hooligans.’ Undefined symbols, posters and inexplicable [SIC] expressions like ‘Millions of Dead Cops’ blemish frequently travelled routes…” It goes on to call for police to “forcefully encourage these loiterers to leave,” to “throw every law in the book at these troublemakers,” and states plainly that “subtle harassment would go a long way to make downtown an unpleasant place for teens to meet,” calling on the newly elected Mayor Hillman to fulfill his campaign pledge to “rid” downtown of these hooligans and “send obnoxious teens scampering.” The parallels between this attitude toward us and the US’s approach to countries deemed official enemies seemed perfectly obvious and unmistakable, and was another reason why condemning US militarism and embracing punk rock’s righteous anger and eloquent criticisms of our country, with annual Rock Against Reagan/Rock Against Racism shows in D.C. and so much more, seemed vital and axiomatic to so many of us. But being seen as threatening to the authorities also boosted our sense of importance and made our outlook, style, and what we had to say seem righteous, powerful, and deliciously fun (“taking delight in mischief”).

Although firmly on the side of Law and Order, the paper did at least print some letters to the editor expressing alternative perspectives. In response to their editorial, one young woman pointed out that “Millions of Dead Cops” was, in fact, a band, not a reflection of advocacy, but that if cops harassed you every day, spray painting this message was perfectly understandable. Below the headline “A hooligan speaks,” The Evening Capital also published a spirited letter from Chaz, that one-time singer and charismatic figure from our scene. In his screed, Charlie identified this anti-hooligan campaign as clearly being done on behalf of tourism, asked where young people in the downtown area were supposed to go, and pointed out an error in one of the Capital’s anti-hooligan diatribes, asking caustically “how can one be expected to take a newspaper seriously that consistently misuses the English language?” In contrast with the paper’s lunacy, he ends with a sober and sensible suggestion: “let us solve our problems positively….food for thought.” This teenager showed more humor and common sense than the adults running the local, ‘respectable’, upright institutions such as schools, police, and newspapers.

But this demonstrates another aspect of life from that era in Annapolis—what a small town it was, that even these ‘hooligans’ who were supposedly so beyond the pale, so contemptible, read the local paper and responded reasonably and articulately to an attack on them. It seems half way between quaint and deranged that the presence of some spray-painted slogans and teenagers donning combat boots and clad in black were perceived as one of Annapolis’ main problems that needed to be confronted. Today even the term hooligan seems provincial and anachronistic, dredged from another time.

Annapolis, 1985 and Hated, 2022

Of course, there was a lot going on in the world during that other time, circa 1985, when the Hated’s first songs came out. There is another context to sketch out, a few events worthy of mention, since they affected our scene and had both local and national impact. These events add some color to the violent and repressive aspects of the climate—since these sorts of pressures produced the creative responses and yearnings in our scene and in Hated songs on TWPS Volume 4. With these events, as with Hated music, the serious goes side by side with the sarcastic, the horrific beside the comic.

1985 marked a crucial year for the advancement of extreme right wing and evangelical forces in popular culture and politics in the US. The drug war that had been unleashed by Richard Nixon a decade earlier gained major momentum with Reagan’s Just Say No campaign, and it’s accompanying wave of incarcerations, even as we ourselves were eager drug users. (But one whimsical image from that time captures the moment. Mr. T visits the White House to promote Just Say No, the First Lady sits on his lap and kisses his forehead, and Mr. T says, “thank you Miss Reagan! Wow, she kissed me! It’s just like a commercial: she kissed me and now nothing seems the same.”) And nothing was the same.

1985 was also the first year of what would become dangerously common in the US: bombing clinics and killing doctors that provide abortions. In 1985, a pastor named Michael Bray detonated a bomb at the clinic where my mother worked, located just down the street from where Daniel and Kenny lived. Fortunately, no one was killed, since the explosion went off at night, and the bomb only partially functioned. Daniel was spending a few months with family in Colorado, where he saw the images on tv. It was another measure of the influence and extremes of right-wing forces.

But the example with the largest resonance on local music had to be the rock censorship hearings spearheaded by the PMRC, held in Annapolis in 1985. The whole campaign seemed to be a throwback to previous decades, like the early days of the Beatles in the US south, where devil music was decried and the evil influences needed to be banished via public denunciations, banning radio play, and bonfires of books and records. Aimed at curtailing access to certain ‘dangerous’ music deemed to have violent, drug-related, or sexual themes by labeling albums with Parental Advisory stickers, Tipper Gore, together with some other wives of powerful Washington politicians, launched the so-called Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC). When you still bought albums and tapes in physical stores, this sort of limitation would exert influence. The legislation and the general brouhaha around it became a national controversy, involving not just conservative and religious voices and figures such as Gore, but also record companies, artists, and of course, the public. It was a challenge to free speech. Frank Zappa had been interviewed by major newspapers and appeared on television as an articulate and effective advocate against censorship and the prudish, authoritarian values that drove the PMRC. The legal proceedings for this attack were held in downtown Annapolis at the State Capitol.

The whole Annapolis scene, it seems, was there for those hearings. Testifying on behalf of rock and roll were Dee Snyder, the singer for Twisted Sister with the corkscrew blonde locks who everyone knew from MTV; calm, bespectacled John Denver, who was as famous then for the “Oh, God!” films as for his music; and the star attraction for us: Frank Zappa. The whole atmosphere of hysteria seemed then—and even more now, in retrospect— like something out of a John Water’s movie. It strains credulity, but I was there to see it myself: busloads of sad, brainwashed kids sent down from a Christian academy in New Jersey to demonstrate support for the censorship. They wore gray and blue uniforms and carried hand-made placards with messages like “Rock and Roll Ruined My Life” as they marched in a circle in front of the entrance to the hearing room where the committee would convene. (I wanted one of those signs for a souvenir, but adults prevented those kids from interacting with anyone they hadn’t approved. As I lingered, however, camera crews gathered and I got interviewed for the evening news, where I appeared above the fake name I had given the reporter: Phaedrus Larson).

Naturally, intrepid CRAB correspondent Erik Fisher was on hand to report on the event. In one of the tunnels that runs beneath the Annapolis State house and connects to the legislative building where the stars were testifying, he ran into the Mother’s of Invention lead man. (Zappa is associated with California but had grown up for a time in Baltimore, and of course had the dubious honor of being the last artist to perform at Annapolis’ Carr’s Beach.) Erik recalls what it was like. “I was intent on interviewing Zappa, but with all the government security, political activists, and Zappa’s rock star-celebrity status, it was not going to be easy. With a briefcase, camera, and a homemade CRAB Magazine badge, I somehow managed to slip through the bureaucracy claiming to be a ‘member of the press.’ Once inside the inner legislative sanctum, I came face to face with Frank, who was striding in earnest but graciously granted me a couple minutes. The interview included:

CRAB: What is pornography?
Zappa: Stuff that gets you hot.
CRAB: Like chili?
Zappa: If you can stick your dick in it, yeah.

At the end of the interview, Erik asked, “Mr. Zappa, would you please autograph my nose?” Zappa immediately took Erik’s proffered pen and proceeded to dot Erik’s nose with it, saying “I used to do this to Moon” (Moon Unit, Zappa’s daughter). Speaking to another reporter, Zappa also said: “all of this is just residue from a fart President Reagan let a couple of years ago.”

Far beyond shared moments like these PMRC hearings, Annapolis is stamped on the band in so many other ways. Their sound and lyrics and aesthetics are incomplete without some description of their haunts and stomping grounds, imagining them in these digs walking around with their guitars. Knowing something about the background to music and collecting in Annapolis, as well as the Hated’s origins, is still somehow deficient without a few final words on downtown Annapolis. The alleys and docks and roofs and rooms gave shape to a sound that has since traveled far and wide, and that continues to find new listeners decades later.

Following the general mallification of the US, when downtowns across the country were first becoming hollowed out in the 1980s, and local mom and pop stores were being replaced by large chain stores and outlets reached by car, downtown Annapolis began to be displaced by the Annapolis Mall. But as kids growing up downtown, this was still our turf. We knew every fire escape, every store and most of the people who worked there, we knew every alleyway, and passages through the hospital and the State House and the buildings at St. John’s College, we knew every way to climb onto roofs, every place to hide. One’s sense of place and it’s impact on one’s ethics and aesthetics is ultimately undefinable, but also unmistakable.

Until the early 60s, the city dock was a working harbor, where boats came in each day with hauls of oysters, fish, and crabs. Trolly tracks from the defunct Baltimore Annapolis Railroad ran down King George Street, along the water and then up Main Street. Also winding up from the harbor were the narrow, cobblestone Fleet and Pinkney Streets, which were still African American corridors through the 70s, when we were in grammar school. Derek Parker, who started at Annapolis Elementary in 1967, the first year the Anne Arundel county schools racially integrated, grew up on Pinkney Street and remembers the tight knit community there, and how it was a bulwark against the often hostile white society. He played hide and seek a block away on the State House grounds with friends, and vividly recalls being chased away while guards shouted “Niggers,” and that there were even cross burnings right on the lawn of the capitol. In the wake of the riots after MLK was killed, Annapolis instituted urban renewal, which moved a lot of black people out of downtown, making way for gentrification. But well into the 1980s there were places catering to local foot traffic: hardware stores, a small supermarket called Rookies, and the Market House, where until the late 60s, there remained separate public drinking fountains for Whites and Blacks. Growing up in the 70s and 80s we were only vaguely aware of this history, but of course that didn’t stop those forces from exerting their ineluctable influences.

Back in 1978, Annapolitans rejected the proposal to open a McDonald’s downtown, going so far as to wheel Ronald McDonald out and dump him in the harbor to demonstrate their disapproval. But just a few years later, a Burger King opened to zero fanfare. Downtown had toy stores, boating supply stores, various candy shops, Mueller’s Ice Cream Parlor, several bookstores, and a tourist trinket shop run by a veteran named Izzy Wolffe. Along Main Street was the Public Sales Office, a dusty ramshackle storefront whose proprietor always wore dark suits and bore a striking resemblance to Richard Nixon, and whose ambience seemed frozen in time from the 1950s—this was where Dan and Erik bought their guitar strings. The Maryland Inn was known to locals less as the place where the eighteenth-century Treaty of Paris was signed than where Charlie Byrd regularly played. There was a tobacconist with creaky wooden floors selling pipes, cigars, rolling papers, and hundreds of different brands of cigarettes and tobaccos from around the world. There was a smoke-filled pool hall and bar called Pete’s Place, where we would shoot pool and play video games; Dimitri’s, the health food lunch restaurant where Dan and Erik both worked in the kitchen; and Oceans II record store. Both Main Street and State Circle had movie theaters in those days (where we saw Star Wars and Kung Fu and Pink Panther films). Until the late 70s, there was a Murphy’s lunch counter that sold hamburgers and milkshakes. A regular haunt and vital fixture was Chick and Ruth’s deli, which was open 24 hours, featured special pastrami and other sandwiches named after mayors and aldermen (and kept a special booth roped off and reserved for the mayor her or himself). Erik and Dan went there so often that eventually Erik supplied a photo of the two of them, on which he wrote “Chick— Love your place,” which hung on the bright yellow-orange walls for years beside ribbons, old maps, and other framed and signed pictures of various and sundry famous people who had eaten there.

There were local eccentric characters that you knew, too. Frank, who bartended at Pete’s Place, was a portly ginger man who was the former manager of the Monuments, and a recovering alcoholic and Buddhist who wore a patch over one eye; Carlester “Buckwheat” Smith, a friendly guy with some sort of cognitive disability who you would often see around town, exuberantly swinging his arms in stride; a bald man who walked around with a striped cat on his shoulders; a colorful woman named Louise Beauregard, who wore bright lipstick and feather boas and showed up to every public hearing to give extensive testimonies on…people were never quite sure what, exactly. We even knew the name of at least one of the cops patrolling downtown (Officer Herbie Trott).

And as you headed from downtown out West Street, there was a used book shop with labyrinthine shelves and large sections on “Local History” and a nook for “The Occult/Witchcraft.” Across from The Christian Science Reading Room was the Rams Head Tavern, which later would become an important venue for live music in Annapolis. There was Free State Press, run by Jim Martin, where Erik photocopied and stapled together editions of CRAB Magazine; Asbury United Methodist Church, that served the black neighborhood around Clay Street, and where in 1984 Erik covered for CRAB a speech Jesse Jackson gave (and which The Evening Capital ignored). A few doors down from the church was a liquor store with surveillance cameras, whose cashiers served customers from behind a thick plastic barrier; a bus station where you could get to D.C. or Baltimore and where people would sell drugs, and prostitutes sometimes lingered. Beside a weed-choked lot there was a barber shop whose exposed brick wall featured a faded and peeling advertisement for National Bohemian; the offices and main presses of The Evening Capital; a storefront astrologer with a green and pink neon sign; Bob’s Coins & Guns; Goodwill; The Happy Buzzard, a bar with a small stage for live music and which welcomed you with a hand-painted, splintering sign that hung above the front door; a Korean deli, which in junior high sold us beer…

Although so much of the Hated music (especially Volume 4) feels like an expression of that time and place and the whole scene that informed their music, it’s Dan and Erik, and their creative relationship, that were certainly at its core. Miggy offered a wry take on the intensity of their bond. “This is one of the funniest memories from that time,” he began. “We were still living at my grandmother’s house on Thomas Point Road, so maybe like 1982 or 1983. My brother’s like 13 or 14 and I’m like 10 or 11, and our parents and grandmother were out.

“Dan had made this triangular shaped wooden frame in shop class, and he had magic-markered the Geek Patrol logo on it, which was a circle with a line in the middle and a sort of diagonal segment, and some slogan on it that I can’t remember. And Dan and Erik had bought this cake, maybe Entenmann’s, one of those greasy store bought cakes from Giant or 711, like this big, honey glazed cake. I saw them with this stuff going into the room where they’re going to play music. Dan said, you can’t disturb us or bother us. We’re going to be busy. I’m pretty sure psychedelics were involved.

“I was in the downstairs area, just listening with a half an ear to what was going on. At that time in my life, I’d never heard music like this: it was completely crazy, like really loud, screeching feedback through effects with this abrasive drone. And you know, I was just compelled, like, I have to see what’s going on here. So I opened the door.

“All of the lights were out. Dan and Erik were facing each other. They were both sitting cross legged in the lotus position. And in between them was the triangle frame with the cake on it, and a candle in the middle of it. And they were just staring at each other in the lotus position. When they noticed me, Dan looked over and said, Hey, man, get out of here! Get out of here, man!”

After some laughter, Miggy went on to say that whatever else is included in these Hated releases, this electronic noise and strange hilarious moments like this were part of the landscape and the soundtrack of those early days, what he described as “Hated Basement Tapes:” outtakes, parodies, absurdities, just riffing and having fun, but also experimenting. “So creative, I love that stuff,” he said. “They were taking in the history of all of the music that they knew, and processing it, making fun of it, turning it inside out, and then like, spitting it back out in their own image.”

Behold: that’s the Hated.