Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Battalion of Saints

Here's the 1996 release from the Battalion of Saints called Cuts. With Tezz Bones, of Discharge and Broken Bones fame, on guitars. His contribution here is superb, adding a Broken Bones feel to the Bats' sound, which is not bad at all.Below is the history of Battalion of Saints.

In 1978, George Anthony (vocals) and Chris Smith (guitar) started the band up under the name the Nutrons.
After a year or so, they had quickly gone through many bass players, and settled with Barry Farwell.
They also had finally found someone that was willing to drum for them. Don Diaz then joined them as a second guitarist.
Shortly after, Chris kicked Barry out because Barry stole Chris' girlfriend. They were nearly ready to start touring,
so then they recruited friend James Cooper to play bass with them.
That lineup didn't last for long either, and they found some new members to play with them who were in a band that had
just broken up called the Standbys. Ted Olsen was one of the members, and drummed for them until near the end of their career.
By now, George and Chris were really developing their sound, and started doing lots of shows with bands like the Dead Kennedys
and others. They were looking for a change, and along with the development of their sound, they decided to change their name to the
Battalion of Saints. The name seemed fitting because a battalion is a hell of a lot of people - seeing how many members they went through already,
and the fact that they were far from being saints fit in great.
So far, the band hadn't really released anything except for some demo tracks recorded at Hit Single. Shortly after that in late 1981,
the band went back to Hit Single Studios and recorded for the "Fighting Boys" 4-song 12"ep. They released this in '82 on Nutrons Records,
their own label. It was distributed through Mystic. The record was an instant classic, and is quite a collector's item now. The music was good,
fast, political west coast hardcore punk. By now, they were pretty well established and had a reputation and quite a following all over the west coast.
They played with many well known hardcore punk bands of the day including the Exploited, Broken Bones, The Misfits, 7 Seconds,
Dead Kennedys, Iron Fist, Angry Samoans, The Freeze, etc.
Shortly after their first EP was out, they were asked to contribute a few tracks to the BYO Records compilation
"Someone's Gonna Get Their Head Kicked In" - a compilation challenging youth to stand up for what they believe in -
especially to take a stand against police brutality. The band went to Mystic Sound Studios and recorded. Three of the tracks were used,
including the vicious attack on police brutality, "Cops Are Out." Some other bands to appear on the comp were Youth Brigade, Adolescents,
Social Distortion, and Bad Religion. They also appeared on Version Sound's "Meathouse 1" compliation, and the "Our Blow Out!" compilation
(local San Diego band comp.). Tracks from the Hit Single sessions were used for these comps.
After recording at Mystic Sound, Doug Moody of Mystic Records, who kept the masters, released the Second Coming 7" EP on his label,
with really raw & screamy early versions of 3 tracks. He also used an otherwise unreleased track, "Sweaty Little Girls," to be included on the
Destroy L.A. Fanzine on vinyl. After the release of the 'zine/record, Mystic used 2 of the Destroy L.A. tracks and released a split 7" with the
Battalion of Saints track on one side, S.V.D.B.'s track "Chain Reaction" on the other. Unfortunately, none of these Mystic releases were ever
authorized by the band, and the band got no money from Mystic. The singles sold several thousand copies - more than any other band had done
for Mystic at the time. They were legitimate releases on a somewhat legitimate label, but as usual, Mystic got in the habit of ripping off bands who
worked with them. A few years after they had disbanded for the first time, Doug Moody of Mystic put out the Sweaty Little Girls ep with the track
from Destroy LA, and on the B side 2 live tracks. At the same time, Moody also got in touch with Randy Fuele from Hit Single and got some
of the tapes from the band's two recording sessions there. Using these demos, the Fighting Boys session, and again the Destroy L.A. track,
along with more live recordings, Mystic put out a bootleg Best of... lp of the Bats titled "Rock In Peace."
In 1984, the band signed a contract with Enigma Records and recorded for a new album, Second Coming. Here's what Op Magazine had to say
about it: "A fiery record - slick, polished, and tight - which members of G.B.H. and Dischargeshould be required to listen to at least 10 times a
day between now and the next time they go into the studio to record... this is definitely a fine effort that easily puts to shame many of their
English counterparts doing the same kind of thing." Overall, it was a very well done record that blows away the typical hardcore sound of their days
Earlier versions of a few of these tracks can be found on the BYO compilation and Mystic's Second Coming EP.
After they had gone through two more bass players (Travis Davidson and Dennis Frame), they finally got their friend Capt.Scarlet
to fill the spot. Scarlet, who was from England, had been kicked out of the Exploited a year or two earlier, and had played guitar
for the U.K. Subs for a short time. Right before they were to go on tour, Ted Olsen, their drummer for the 4 previous years,
quit the band. Then they got Joey Maya to join the band and toured. Unfortunately, after they toured, more problems came their way.
Chris Smith (guitar) decided that he wanted to move to New Jersey and marry his girlfriend. He got ready to move, but his plans backfired.
He then stole George's girlfriend. Then moved to New York for some other girl. At this time, he joined the band Kraut and recorded some
material with them. George decided to go to New York and talk Chris back into coming back to San Diego. Once he got there, he found out that
Chris had just died! The story was that he slipped in the bathtub and cracked his head open, proceeding to drown.
They actually had found him lying dead in the bathtub with syringes laying all over the place from shooting up heroin and speed.
This was about all the band could take after so many members quitting or dying, and so Scarlet and George moved to
England deciding not to go on without Chris.
After nearly a decade, George and his longtime friend Terry "Tezz" Bones decided to reform the band. Both had grown tired of the
hardcore punk that was out there nowadays, and wanted to play again and do it their way. Since most of the original mainstay members
had quit or died, they began searching for a bass palyer and a drummer. At the same time, Curtis from Taang! Records was working
on re-releasing their original material. He spent two years searching for their original studio tapes and ex-band members.
He was finally able to contact George Anthony through a classified ad that George and Terry had put in a San Diego newspaper looking for
musicians whose influences were the Battalion of Saints. They worked on gathering all of the out of print and unreleased stuff they could find,
to remix and remaster it, and have it all on one CD, which is what became the Death -R- Us CD.
On Dec. 22, 1994, on an off night during a U.K. Subs tour, nearly a decade after the formation of the original band,
the second incarnation of the band recorded two songs in a few hours when the other members were in San Diego
(they were in the UK Subs and on tour). This time, they added the suffix 'A.D.' to their name. Accompanying George (vocals)
and Tezz (guitar) were friends Matthew McCoy (drums) and Gregor Kramer (bass), who were both UK Subs members.
Two new songs were recorded that night, which were released on a limited 7" on Taang! Records. The band had built up a lot
of hype by this time, and the 7" was sold out even before it was pressed! Those songs now appear as the first two tracks of 'Death -R- Us.'
After playing some shows together, Gregor and Matthew decided that being in two bands was too much of a strain,
so they both left concentrate on the UK Subs. A new bass player (Ken Ortman) and drummer replaced those two. George and Tezz
had written a lot of new material now, and the band went out on tour with Total Chaos. Their new drummer left the band in the middle of their tour,
so Gearbox, the drummer of Total Chaos, was enlisted to serve double duty as the drummer for both headlining bands.
After the tour, they recruited Slayer Hippie (of Poison Idea) to play drums, but unfortunalely he couldn't leave Portland due to his probation,
so they then found an amazing drummer, Mark Bender, and went on with business. Since then they proceeded to tour with as many old school punk
bands as they could after that, including Anti Nowhere League, Stiff Little Fingers, Meatmen, The Business, GBH, Rancid, Fear, etc.
In '96, they recorded all of their new songs and and released the full length CD Cuts on Taang Records. The intensity and sound of the new line up
was in the same general vein as the original lineup, but with an even more blistering tone, with a heavy Broken Bones influence to it with
the addition of Tezz's guitar work. '97 rolled around, and the band stopped touring for a little while (other than a few West Coast shows now
and then) to work on new material. The first product to come out of this was their Muscle of Love 7" on Taang!, which has a really strong
original called I Don't Know along with a cover of Alice Cooper's song Muscle of Love. The sound on this is a bit matured from the sound on Cuts,
with a more blistering, straight forward thrash sound to it that gives it more appeal.
The band started working on more new material, and planned to record in the fall of '98, and go on tour after the release of the album.
Unfortunately more problems came their way, which led to the break up of the band... One unreleased track came out of this,
the rest remained unrecorded. George began working with Rick Agnew of Adolescents fame, and Terry "Tezz" Bones started playing bass with Billyclub. .
2004 George recruited new members and returned to the name Battalion Of Saints and they are now currently playing shows again. (Courtesy of Taang! Records)

Battalion of Saints - Cuts


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Ken Ortman said...

I played bass on the Cuts... CD. Good times, but a lot of the BOS A.D. history you have (pulled from the fan site) is wrong.

You know, when we were getting ready to record, Tez only had music for 2 songs written (the first two) with no lyrics. Mark, Tez, and I went into a practice space for 3 days and came up with the others (mostly Tezz... but we contributed a few things that we got no credit for). After one day off, we went in the studio and recorded the basic tracks. At this point, none of the songs had names or lyrics at all. Weird, eh? Mark and I didn't end up playing on Jack Shack. We hated it... thought it was Tez trying to relive his brief Ministry days... we didn't want any part of that!

The CD sounded pretty good when we were finished. Terry and I went back to Chicago for the winter and while we were gone, George took it upon himself to remix the CD. That's the ultra-compressed mess it is now. before you used to be able to hear the bass and the toms a lot better.

Oh... and our line-up did not record the Muscle of Love single either. After a semi-disastrous tour of the US opening for The Business in early '96, Tez left the band. Mark and I followed soon after. (George was a bit difficult to get along with sometimes). George recruited a new line-up for the European tour and they're the ones that recorded Muscle of Love. I'm sorry I don't know any of their names... I never see 'em get any credit at all. There's even a live bootleg from the European tour and it has the Cuts... line-up listed on it. It definitely was not us!

Richard W. said...

To support Ken Ortman,

I was the guitar player on the "Muscle of Love 7 inch" released by Taang that took Tez's place and helped George form the next line up for the Europe tour. I was also a friend Tez what I consider a Punk hero and a good friend. We have some funny memories during his time with BOS, I even for a little while was honored to Tech for Tez a few shows during that time. Was surprised though that George called me up at the music shop I worked at looking for new members after I heard of the breakup with Tez and Ken, was wondering if Tez recommended me since he knew I knew most of Chris Smiths's BOS's songs during the time playing them testing out the amps etc etc lol Tez let me goof off to check out his fiddles lol. George Called me up at work looking for new members. I set him up with my Bass player and drummer since we did Ace of Spades, Mind Minds Disease, and fighting boys and Tez's "Hell's around the next corner" in our line up as "Dagnabit SD", while he had some dude there playing guitar who well wasn't BOS material who had a pretty good ego but not in his guitar playing lol. We also had a rush recording with the "7 inch Muscle of Love" which sounds very muddy crappy that Taang put that recording out like that instead refining it like we did it live. And like Ken Ortman, there is no credit, Pictures, and videos anyway of that tour in Europe and the states. We toured for three months and many people who came out took videos, did live recordings, and tons of pictures including magazine pictures, radio, video interviews and I cannot find them anywhere on the web.

Like Ken said, George was what seemed to be difficult and we never knew why he was so pissed most of the time and irritated instead of having fun and enjoying the ride. I know it wasn't our playing or attitudes really, we were all grateful especially me a BOS fan since 1980 and even before the Neutrons when I was 11 since I am from San Diego and grew up with the SD, LA Punk/thrash scene. Our band with George I would say in my opinion this 3 piece line up with George was the most tightest band and we brought the tempo up to a 2/4, 3/4 to make it faster and harder.
Just listen to the muddy 7 inch lol. But If I can find or you can find the live stuff we did in Europe you will hear for yourself. We had Tez BOS and Chris Smith BOS down and a little faster.

I had a great experience anyway touring with Battalion of Saints in Europe and am always grateful to have had that experience with one of my favorite punk bands and and punk rock guitar players like Chris Smith and Tez.

It could have continued with a true full length recording of this line up as we had new riffs and arrangements already written with the Chris Smith, Tez' like flavor for George and the BOS fans. But will never know why George wanted to disband this lineup what many thought he had was another great line up who kept the tradition alive and faster.

Would love to get that live Europe Bootleg though with the Cuts lineup who was us.
Maybe one day lol.