Combining its loves of old-school punk, metal, professional wrestling and shock rock, the band Antiseen carved out its own genre – Destructo Rock – more than two decades ago.
Frontman Jeff Clayton's got the scars to prove it. He's spilled blood, caught fire, dove through tables and destroyed his surroundings and himself.
The Charlotte rockers celebrate their 25th anniversary with a back-to-back blowout Friday and Saturday at Tremont Music Hall.
Their shows have become legend. Aggressive touring in Europe has helped Antiseen build an international following. In 2006, for instance, TKO Records released a double CD tribute featuring covers by 50 artists including Zeke, Texas Terri and Hank III.
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The early days
Antiseen performed its first show at The Barn in Boone on Oct. 1, 1983. It was the first show for many regional acts – Charlotte's Fetchin' Bones, Hickory's NRG and Columbia's Death Row – all of whom Antiseen outlasted. Its first gig at The Milestone came a few weeks later.
“I never thought it would last a month, much less a year,” recalls Clayton. “We were just going to get into a few shows for free, play, and see the groups we liked. That was it. When we made our first record we figured this is where it's going to end. That was about 50 records and 25 years ago.”
Around the world
If they didn't plan past the first few shows, Clayton and co-founder/guitarist Joe Young certainly didn't expect Antiseen to take them across the globe. But it has. They just returned from the Rock My Ass Festival in Germany.
Last year, they played four California shows in 48 hours, hustling up and down the coast to share the stage with friends Hammerlock in San Francisco and open for Hank (Williams) III in L.A. This summer they hit a stretch from Vancouver to San Diego with another pal, 69-year-old rapper Blowfly. And that's just since they slowed down.
During the '90s and early '00s, they hit Poland, Slovakia, and Yugoslavia, among other places. Those treks converted fans worldwide. Fans are flying in from all over the world for the anniversary shows.
“Before my mom died she asked when I was going to stop playing in that crazy old band,” says Young. “I said, ‘When they stop offering to fly us places.'”
On record (film and print)
In June, TKO Records released a double-disc, 40-track “ Best Of,” which contains in-your-face gems like “**** All Yall,” “Queen City Stomp,” “Animals, Eat 'Em,” “Hippy Punk,” and “My God Can Beat Up Your God.”
Steel Cage Records will release the first of Antiseen's “ Destructo Vision” DVDs, which should be available at the show. The first DVD features three live shows and videos by local “ Come Get Some!” filmmaker Jason Griscom. TKO also has reissued most of the band's back catalog.
The band also will be heading into the studio in '09 to record its first full-length album since 2005's “ Badwill Ambassadors.” For a history of the band, check out “ Destructo Maximus,” the 2003 book covering Antiseen's first 20 years.
Lineup changes are nothing new to Young and Clayton, who've outlasted countless rhythm sections.
A few of their former members will join them Saturday.
The 25th year marks another changeover as longtime bassist Doug Canipe and Clayton's brother, Greg, exit the group (Clayton for a second time). Phil Keller from the Flat Tires inherits his splintered sticks, while bassist Jon Bowman, formerly of Self Made Monsters, made his Antiseen debut in Germany last month.
The others stayed on at Clayton's request long enough to hit the 25-year mark. “I kind of thought that was going to be the end,” he says. “I found out real quick there are people that are eager to play with us.”
So how long will the destructo train keep pummeling ahead?
Clayton thumbs his nose at online detractors who suggest that, like Ric Flair, at their age they ought to hang it up.
“This band is all I have that is mine that can't be taken from me,” he says defiantly. “No one's going to tell me when this thing is ended. As long as I can do it, Antiseen can keep going. It doesn't have an expiration date.”