The beginnings of punk rock in Southern California have been a debatable subject for years on end. Ranking up there with other chin-stroking speculations as the Black Dahlia murder and the possible existence of Planet X, rock historians have laid out their opinions on this brain jostling Pandora’s Box. Some say it was the Doors, others say it was the Seeds, yet others contend it started earlier with the Beat Generation and/or the surf scene. Los Angeles was full of punks by the time the 1960s rolled around. Not only were Jim Morrison and Sky Saxon scaring Bob Hope fans, but you also had the Standells, Arthur Lee’s Love, the Music Machine, and a plethora of other snotty-nosed garage bands who weren’t interested in expanding your mind with all that “flower power” nuttiness. Forging ahead into the 1970s, L.A. became even more glamorous with the glitter craze, yet more cultural trouble makers marched to the beats of their own drums such as Zolar X and the Berlin Brats. And as we all know, this set off a chain reaction that gave us the Runaways, the Germs, X, Black Flag, and countless others, as well as a seminal hardcore band called Modern Warfare, which has their own place in music history…
The Toronto-born, L.A.-raised Ron Goudie had started out on his road to rock ‘n’ roll damnation by playing in a number of garage bands, as well as having some experience as a lounge act and performing at weddings. He had already acquired a degree in Composition and Arrangement by the time he joined Modern Warfare, which also included vocalist/lyricist Jim Bemis, drummer Randy Scott, keyboardist Tish Lucca, and the bass attack provided by Steve Sinclair and Tim Gaines. Plucking on lead guitar duties, Ron and the Warfaring Ones cut their teeth on a three song 7″ produced by the one and only Geza X. While launching their own label, Bemisbrain Records (named after their frontman, Jim), Modern Warfare released a follow-up EP, “Modern Warfare No. 2”, as well as recordings from Tex & the Horseheads, Nip Drivers, Mnemonic Devices, and the Super Heroines. In 1981, Bemisbrain released “Hell Comes To Your House”, which compiled numerous Southern California deathrock and punk bands such as Social Distortion, Red Kross (then known as “Red Cross”), .45 Grave, and Christian Death, along with Modern Warfare contributing the track “Street Fightin’ Man”. The compilation LP “American Youth Report” was released the next year, and it featured more cream-of-the-crop punkers like Bad Religion, the Adolescents, Channel 3, the Minutemen, T.S.O.L., Flesh Eaters, and others. As things began to really take off for the label, it was decided to fold Bemisbrain Records into Greenworld Distribution, which began producing and releasing more recordings from local acts (except for Modern Warfare, who was put on permanent hiatus). It was with this arrangement that Enigma Records was launched as a division of Greenworld, serving as an independent music/distributor, with Ron eventually signing and producing a diverse range of acts such as Agent Orange, GWAR, Stryper, Flaming Lips, Poison, and even Mojo Nixon. After doing his time with Enigma, Ron moved on and maintained a career in the recording industry, holding executive positions with various other labels, eventually settling down in Amsterdam.
The 1990s were very unkind to the recording industry, which was going down faster than a Monica Lewinsky-In-the-White House joke. Ron, who was wrestling with a number of life-testing travails, began to see the downward spiral of fickle tastes in the aftermath of the alternative music washout. Never one to let his thoughts go to waste, he began to write songs that documented his struggles with substances, relationships, and his own existence. Eventually ending up broke in the Land of the Nethers, Ron began to slowly put together a band that he saw as a conduit to channel his expressive talent in the tunes he crafted from his experiences in the rut. Co-conspiring with drummer/multi-instrumentalist Carlos Manso, Ron recruited classical/jazz musician Yrjana Rankka and guitarist/vocalist Roemer Verhaggen. Calling themselves the Grandpa Death Experience, this collective of Amsterdanian rockers act as that conduit for Ron, who culls his influences of punk and metal on the twelve tracks that consist of their debut album, “The Unforgiving Shoe Of the Future” (released on Saustex Records, 2016). The opening track, “Hell Is Cold”, delves into grunge/stoner rock territory, bringing an air of menace, reminding the listener that this is the Grandpa DEATH EXPERIENCE, not a reunion album from Katrina and the Waves. The third track, “Dirty Deeds” could easily be called “Dirty Grandpa”, with Ron sounding like a crazed old blues singer that’s commandeered the band at the local bar. If you’ve ever wondered what Billy Joe Shaver would sound like with a metal-flirting rock band (and who hasn’t?), then “Double Kross” will lay those thoughts to rest, hartelijk dank. Other highlights on this album include the punk sounding “2nd Chance”, as well as the country ballad “Broken Heart”. There’s a little bit of everything on this release, from gritty vocals bringing to mind Leonard Cohen, to Joe Satriani-style shredding guitar, to poetic thought-provoking lyrics. It defies basic categorization, and it warrants repeat listening while tapping that keg of Grolsch. And if “The (Un)Forgiving Shoe Of the Future” fits, raise your stein to Ron Goudie and the Grandpa Death Experience, alstublieft!
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Order “The Unforgiving Shoe Of the Future” and other Saustex releases (including the latest “Saustex Variations Vol. 3 comp) on the Saustex website.