Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Tampa's Punk House

I found an blog article by Abigail Susik about Tampa's Punk House, apparently somewhere in Seminole Heights

"The house lies on one of those moody streets in vintage Seminole Heights with too many big oak trees and not enough streetlights. I wasn't sure I had the right place until I caught sight of a faded band sticker on the mailbox outside, and several more scattered at random around the front door. Mikey D.U.I. answered the door and led me through an impressive maze of band equipment and garbage to the back porch where everyone had gathered on a recent evening to talk some serious music history."

"I've been hearing about Tampa's punk house for years, without ever being sure of its whereabouts or whether or not it still existed. It didn't take too much detective work to track down its current denizens, the four members of the punk/metal band Elysium (plus their manager Flip, who lives in the laundry room…): drummer Mikey, bassist Mattie Sox, lead guitarist Spencer Anemik, and singer Tom. I also managed to locate the house's original founder, Dave Disorder of A.D.D. Records— who still lives in the neighborhood. A longtime frequenter of the house, Johnny C from the local band Rest of Us, completed our group as we tore into a case of beer and let the tall tales rip."

"Tampa's punk house has been hosting shows for ten years this January, an amazing tenure for a venture that has no formal organization, accrues no money whatsoever, and regularly tears gaping holes into the wall. Dave Disorder rented the house in 1996 and shortly thereafter began promoting punk shows at the Harbor Club in Seminole Heights and printing his magazine "A.D.D." out of one of the three bedrooms. In January of 1997, a Cards and Spokes show at the Harbor Club was so embarrassingly empty that Dave got fed up and asked the Jacksonville band to come back to the house and play in his cramped living room instead. By the time Dave moved out two years later in 1999, he and his various roommates had hosted around fifty shows in the house: that's more than once a month. News of the shows spread mostly by word of mouth, though it was on a flyer that Dave first employed "punk house" after the Screeching Weasel song. On the night of a party, Dave would buy a keg, plug in the P.A., and light a bonfire out back. A cover was never charged, but sometimes they passed a baseball cap around for the bands from out of town. "We had all kinds of touring bands, everybody from Panther UK to Digger (PA), and the Bar Feeders (CA). Thumbs (DC) played here three times, and The Jack Palance band (TN)," Dave said."

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17 comments:

Anonymous said...

I was at that Cards and Spokes show 10 years ago at the Harbor Club. They ended up playing a party at Joanne's house on the river afterward. And it was "Panthro UK United 13" not "Panther UK". Get it right people...
There used to be some pretty good shows at the Harbor Club back then: Tsunami played there once, as well as IN/Humanity, End of the Century Party, Clairmel, the Independents, the Nailbiters, this amazing band from Gainesville called Cricket 5, an early incarnation of the Dumbwaiters...but it all went downhill after David Duke secured a speaking engagement there in the Summer of '97. I remember that day well. I was indirectly involved in getting him the gig.
Weird Story: I was running a pirate radio station out of my frontroom at the time and this crazy metalhead white supremicist guy (who incidently was the bass player for the Genitortuers at one point) kept bugging me to do a radio show. I always blew him off. He was a real asshole and I wanted nothing to do with him. But one day he called me up with an offer I couldn't refuse: Would I like to interview the infamous ex-Grand Wizard of the KKK, David Duke on the air? I guess old Dukey was so desparate to get his message out that he'd sank to calling up stoner pirate stations to shoot the shit. I wasn't going to pass it up of course. How could I? So we set up the interview. Dukey calls in from Louisiana while someone's passing around a joint and I get into this hysterical arguement with him for about 15 minutes while Stony Tony (who lived around the corner at the time with T-Rick, the local recovering junkie who happened to be GG Allin's ex-bass player) mixes in 3 Stooges laugh tracks and football scorekeepers in on his 4-track over Duke's inane monologues. It was a totally absurd surreal conversation punctuated by Curly going "Whoop! Whoop! Whoop! and Moe calling him a knucklehead and the football crowd cheering and jeering. Meanwhile, Duke was oblivious to the whole thing on the other end of the line. He just kept blabbering away about how black people should move back to Africa and I kept telling him he should move back to Northern Europe where he belongs. I believe he caught on that we were totally nuts towards the end when I couldnt keep myself from cracking up. It was too late though. We had the whole thing on tape and it made it into heavy rotation for the remaining short lifespan of 87X.
Anyway, shortly afterward I got another call from the creepy racist metalhead guy. This time he tells me that Dukey's speaking engagement was canceled in Tampa and did I know of any place he could speak. "We've been booking punk shows at the Harbor Club" I tell him half kidding. The next thing I know David Duke is scheduled to speak at the Harbor Club. I got a lot of flack for that. "How could you taint our little positive DIY scene by allowing this hatemonger to speak at OUR place?" people would ask me. I felt a little sick for awhile but I stood my ground. "Look, I obviously don't agree with the guy" I'd say, "but this is a free country and he should be allowed to be heard, if for nothing else than to give him hell and bring his brand of bullshit out into the light." I had the silly notion that there would be a question and answer session and all the punks would rise up and boo ol' Dukey off the stage and we would egg his car spit on his windshield and al that kind off stuff. To tell the truth, I was fantasizing. I wasn't too sure of myself and what I was getting into but it was too late to change all that. Duke's people had put down a deposit to rent the place and I wasnt in a position to reverse it.
On the day of his speech, I was a nervous wreck. Half my friends were outside the Harbor Club protesting and chanting anti-racist slogans. The news crews in thier painted vans were all out front with thier antennas in the air. I just wanted to hide in the closet. Or get out of town for the day, maybe go to the beach for the weekend until it all blew over. But my girlfriend's friend, a Korean philosophy major demanded that we all go. She was intrigued with the whole thing from a sociological perspective and thought all the chaos was pretty amazing and I guess it was in a way but at that point I thought I was going to get jumped if I showed up there. Either by my friends out front or by the braindead skinheads with thier tree trunk arms who were working security at the door.
Reluctantly, I agreed to go. We hatched a plan to make a stealth entrance. We borrowed a canoe from a friend's house and paddled slowly up the river to the Harbor Club's back door. We sat in the canoe for a few minutes taking it all in. We could hear our friends, our people shouting at the boneheads out front. Tensions were high. My girlfriend produced a joint to try and calm our nerves. (which was a bad idea because I was already paranoid and expecting to get suckerpunched at any minute. There we were drifting in the Hillsborough River high as a kite trying to pretend we just happened upon the place and wanted to see what was going on. We docked the boat and crept up the back stairs into the ballroom's backdoor. The place was crawling with skinheads and rednecks who had all paid $10 bucks a head to listen to thier hero fuel thier fears and bigotry for an hour. They were all qued up in line to get Dukey's autograph on thier rebel flags. A few TV reporters had set thier cameras up pointing at the dinky little stage in the corner. And there, in a grey pin-striped suit, under the lights was the heavily make-uped head honkey himself shaking hands with his toothless followers. Every once in a while one of them would look in our direction and whisper something. My stomach was in knots. I was dripping with sweat. I could distinctly makeout the voices of my friends downstairs chanting "Racist Go Home!" "Racist Go Home!"...

um, I guess I'll continue this story some other time on my blog. Kinda got carried away there. The things you can remember at 2am when you're 6,000 miles from home and feeling a little homesick!

Anonymous said...

WOW! That's all, just WOW!

ShaynaPunim said...

I rememebr a party at Joanne's house where she had a moon walk AND a dunk tank. If it wasnt for her, the Harbor House, and the Punk House I'd have had to leave the neighborhood to get wasted.

Mal Carne said...

I guess I should turn in my punk rock card. I know some of the people who used to live there, my band has played there while I was on hiatus, I've heard of it for years, but I still have no idea where the legendary Punk House is.

Harbor Club...remember seeing GG Allin there around '89 or so. Still feel like I need a shower from that experience. Another human's feces.... what more can I say.

ShaynaPunim said...

I've never actually been to the PH when I wasn’t baked out of my mind but to my best recollection its on the road that runs along the interstate on the east side? By the projects.

Michelle said...

A Punk House that I have not been to in Seminole Heights???? I thought the only Punk House was The Tree Fort off Central by the HS??? Which I am sad to say that The Tree Fort is no more. The last resident just moved out ending the 20 year lease started by Mr. Bob Widenhoffer back in 1987. sniff sniff. WHERE IS THIS PUNK HOUSE!!

Seminole Heights said...

Well, I took this as a challenge, and was able to find Tampa Punk House via Internet research. When the house members are not playing in their band, they could always while away time by joining the Grid 44 Neighborhood Watch group. I bet they are a big customer of Blue Sea Seafood restaurant. One clue - don't name an album after the street you live on. Also some people's nicknames are a description of reality.

ShaynaPunim said...

Five years ago my best friend and I rented a house on Central. It was the "drunk house" Even if we hadn't gone out to the Hub people always showed up with bottles at closing time. Ahh good times.

Michelle said...

The Tree Fort was very active in the late 90's when Flat Stanley, Nutro Jet, and The Tim Version ALL resided there, now that is a Punk House. It was a whole lotta good times, I met my Pooh Bear there.
Hey, Seminole Heights what's with the riddle? Do you think you would offend a group of old punks by telling where their house is?

Seminole Heights said...

They seem to have a reason for keeping things lowkey, so I am respecting that.

Mal Carne said...

It seems that the only way that they have been able to continue with this DIY concept is to keep things on the down low. Exposure can destroy a long-standing good thing.
I followed the well layed out clues.

The Tree Fort was a different animal. No shows, but more than a few legendary after show parties. My years living or hanging out there were probably the least productive of my life, but damn it was fun. Even the crazy trash hoarding neighbor and every scumbag musician in Tampa crashing on the couch (myself included when I didn't live there) just lent to the ambience of the place.
The building is for sale, and given the number of repairs and the proximity of 3 new houses on Central, there's a good chance that it will be a nuke and pave job when it sells. Too bad, really.

Anonymous said...

It's true we kept the punk house address quiet cause the landlord doesn't exactly know the identity of the house if you get my drift. I had also heard about Tampa's punk house only by hearsay, which is exactly why I pitched the article to REAX magazine. I've never heard of the Treehouse until now. If anyone's interested in being interviewed about the treehouse, please contact me!
abbysusik@hotmail.com

Anonymous said...

tree fort rather

Anonymous said...

Dallas...... Is that you.......????

sneekybitch said...

www.myspace.com/tampapunkhouse

all you need to know.

☆Rachel Riot☆ said...

There is a good reason we keep the house a "secret." The neighbors are not huge fans of what we do there. Those guys are some of my best friends. If you know where the house is or have been to a show there you know that they are some of the coolest people in Tampa. Mikey, Mattie and Tom are great guys and I am proud to call them friends! You can check out the upcoming shows at www.myspace.com/tampapunkhouse or check out the name of Elysium's first album and that will clue you in on where the house is at.

There is a show coming up on the 12th of July. Maybe you will figure out where it is before then! Hope to see you there supporting the scene!!! Peace!

☆Rachel Riot☆ said...

www.tampapunks.com

For the new and old school punks!!!