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Formation, 1980s and 1990s
Poison Idea was formed in 1980 by vocalist Jerry A. (aka Jerry Lang). The initial lineup consisted of Jerry A., Chris Tense (guitar), Glen Estes (bass), and Dean Johnson (drums). Inspired by Black Flag and other early Southern California hardcore acts, they were further influenced by Discharge and Los Angeles's Germs. Germs singer Darby Crash's influence on singer Jerry A., vocally, lyrically, and philosophically, was considerable, and Poison Idea followed the Germs' extremist punk ethic. Tense, who previously had played with Jerry in a group called the Stand, was replaced within a year by Tom "Pig Champion" Roberts (guitar), formerly of the Imperialist Pigs.
In 1984, Chris Tense returned to the band, this time on bass, replacing Glen Estes (later of Portland, Oregon punk/metal band Final Warning), and the group released the Record Collectors Are Pretentious Assholes 12” (the cover features Pig Champion’s substantial vinyl collection). The record found the band incorporating subtle rock elements into their music, which was further honed on their contributions to two 1985 compilations, “Laughing Boy” on the Drinking is Great EP (on which appeared other Oregon punk bands Final Warning, Lockjaw and E-13), and “Typical” and “Die on Your Knees” on the legendary Cleanse the Bacteria LP (compiled by Pushead for his own Pusmort label).
With the release of 1986’s Kings of Punk LP, Poison Idea had fully moved beyond the breakneck hardcore of their early records to a potent, driving and ultimately more intricate and sophisticated hardcore/hard rock fusion that incorporated the accessibility of hard rock without sacrificing the power of hardcore.
Following the release of Kings of Punk, the band went through several rapid lineup changes (mostly in the rhythm section), and then added lead guitarist Eric "Vegetable" Olson, a gifted musician who wrote many PI tunes during his tenure in the band (even contributing a piano vamp on one track). The band then released War All the Time (named for the Charles Bukowski book) in 1987. War All the Time and the EPs that followed (the Getting the Fear 12" and the Filthkick 7") found them further developing the rock/hardcore sound first established on Kings of Punk, which they would hone in 1990 with Feel the Darkness.
Around this time, after numerous lineup changes, PI had convened one of their more stable lineups in Jerry A., Tom "Pig Champion" Roberts, Charley "Myrtle Tickner" Nims (bass) and Steve "Thee Slayer Hippy" Hanford (drums), with Kid Cocksman and then Aldine Strichnine on second guitar. By this time, their drinking habits and hard living were beginning to catch up with them: the band weighed in at about 1,300 lb. collectively, and Pig Champion in particular was very fat, often having to play sitting down. They also established their own record label in 1989, American Leather (named for the Germs song), and released two records the same year: a reissue of their 1982 demo Darby Crash Rides Again and the Discontent 7”.
In 1990, the band released Feel the Darkness. After the release of Feel the Darkness, Aldine Strychnine was thrown out of the band, and Mondo returned this time on guitar, for the 1991 tour. PI then released Blank Blackout Vacant in 1992, and, before seemingly splitting in 1993, they released We Must Burn.
When Pig Champion left the band in 1993, shortly before the recording and release of the live album on Your Choice Records produced by Tobby Holzinger, PI effectively called it quits. Jerry A pursued a solo project called Gift with his wife and Thee Slayer Hippy, and in 1998 the original line-up reunited for a 7" EP on released on Taang! (who reissued their early catalogue), but broke up following an aborted tour.
Reformation and recent events
Jerry A reformed the band in late 1999 with the line up featuring Tom "Pig Champion" Roberts (guitar), Matt Brainard (guitar), Chris Carey (bass) and Chris Cuthbert (drums), and after breaking in the new lineup the band toured the east coast in 2002 including an appearance at CBGB's. Also a couple of trips to Texas and California. Matt Brainard was busy with DEFIANCE back then and decided that two full-time touring bands was too much, so he elected to leave the band. Jimmy Taylor was hired on as guitarist for PI as the band was planning a 6-week tour of Europe, he ended up being a permanent member of the band. They toured Europe twice in 2003 and 2004, with Eric Eggroll on guitar during 2003 and Joe Spleen (The Gits) during 2004 filling in for Pig on the road. In 2004 PI was invited to go on a tour in Japan as a 4 piece with Japanese punk legends Forward. They were well received in the other countries they toured, inspiring the band to put together a new record.
Back home in Portland, the new line up (Jerry A, Pig Champion, Jimmy Taylor, Chris Carey and Chris Cuthbert) began working on material which later became "Latest Will and Testament", recorded in 2005 at Smegma recording studio in Portland OR.
On January 31, 2006 guitarist Tom "Pig Champion" Roberts died aged 47 at his home in Portland of undetermined causes, although he had been suffering from the flu and an untreated kidney infection. The band had recorded the new record and it was ready for release when he died. Pig wanted the record to be called Latest Will and Testament, a name that the rest of the band liked. After Tom’s death Jerry commented that Pig probably knew something that the rest of them didn't. The album was released in May 2006 on Farewell Records. The band did not play a record release show, or any show for over a year as they tried to get used to the idea that their friend was gone.
In 2007, Poison Idea again reformed to play shows in support of a split 7" single with Kill Your Idols (for TKO Records). The lineup for this incarnation was Jerry A., Chris Cuthbert (drums), Jimmy Taylor (guitar), Matt Brainard (guitar) and Rob Hume (bass).
October 6, 2008 Portland police arrested Steve "Thee Slayer Hippy" Hanford, 39, in connection with a string of pharmacy robberies in late summer.
In December 2011, Brainard was replaced by guitarist Jeff Walter. In 2012, after playing two dates each in both Portland and Seattle, the band embarked on a five-week tour of Europe during June and July. The tour spanned eleven countries and featured the band playing nearly thirty dates in Sweden, Germany, Netherlands, France, Spain, Italy, Czech Republic, Austria, Belgium, Denmark and Finland. During this tour, Jerry developed a severe infection in his foot and was instructed by medical staff in Europe to return home immediately. Despite a long-standing reputation for not completing tours, the band remained in Europe for the entire five weeks, resulting in Jerry having to have two toes and a portion of his foot removed when the band returned to the U.S.
The European tour of 2012 was the last time Cuthbert and Hume played with the band. Via social media, the band announced that they were looking for a new rhythm section and tried out various drummers and bass players during 2013 and 2013.
The band distributed a video announcement in early October, 2013 announcing that Natalie Lucio would now be playing bass. Jim Taylor of Amphead is no longer in the band, widely believed to be because of the birth of his first child. Furthermore, it was announced that Eric "Vegetable" Olson would be rejoining the band on guitar after an almost 25-year absence. Eric is best known for his work on the War All The Time album as well as the Filthkick E.P.
Poison Idea has been cited as an influence by bands and musicians such as Nirvana, Zeke, Turbonegro, Eyehategod, Pantera, Napalm Death, Machine Head, Emperor’s Bård Faust, Generation Graveyard and Ratos de Porão. Nicholas Pell, writing for the Portland Mercury called Poison Idea "an ugly band for ugly people."
On May 28, 2015, Poison Idea announced that they were taking a hiatus to "address some health issues and personal matters".
- 1986 Kings of Punk LP (originally released on Pusmort Records)
- 1987 War All the Time LP (originally released on Alchemy Records (U.S.))
- 1990 Feel the Darkness LP (originally released on Vinyl Solution and American Leather)
- 1992 Blank Blackout Vacant LP (originally released on No Problem and Vinyl Solution)
- 1993 We Must Burn LP (originally released on Vinyl Solution and Tim/Kerr)
- 2006 Latest Will and Testament CD/LP (originally released on Farewell Records / Network Of Friends)
- 2015 Confuse & Conquer CD/LP (released on Southern Lord Records)
Singles & EPs
- 1983 Pick Your King 7" EP (Fatal Erection, American Leather, TKO Records)
- 1984 Record Collectors Are Pretentious Assholes 12" EP (Fatal Erection)
- 1988 Filthkick 7" EP (Shitfool, TKO Records)
- 1988 Getting The Fear 12", 7" EP (Rockport, TKO Records)
- 1989 Just To Get Away 7" Picture Disc Single (American Leather)
- 1989 Darby Crash Rides Again 7" EP (American Leather, TKO Records)
- 1989 Plastic Bomb Cassette Single (Self-released)
- 1990 Taken By Surprise 7" (Sub Pop)
- 1990 Discontent 7" (American Leather)
- 1991 Punish Me 7", 12" & CD EP (Vinyl Solution, American Leather)
- 1991 Dead Boy- A Tribute To Stiv w/ Jeff Dahl, 7" Single (Triple X Records)
- 1991 Official Booleg 2x7" EP (Vinyl Solution, American Leather)
- 1993 Religion & Politics Part 1 & 2 2x7", 10" & CD EP (Insipid Vinyl, Tim/Kerr)
- 1993 Single At X-mas w/Ray & Grover 7" Single (Tim/Kerr)
- 1993 Split Single w/ Babes In Toyland 7" Single (Insipid Vinyl)
- 1993 Feel the Darkness (Remix) 7" Single (Dirter Promotions)
- 1998 Learning to Scream 7" EP (Taang! Records)
- 2007 Bipolar Hardcore Split 7" Picture Disc Single w/ Kill Your Idols (TKO Records)
- 2013 2013 Black Friday X-mas Split w/Angry Snowmans 7" Single (TKO Records)
- 2014 Triple Chocolate Pentration 7" Single RECORD STORE DAY 2014 (Voodoo Donut)
- 2014 The Badge w/ Pantera Split 7" Single RECORD STORE DAY 2014 (Rhino Records)
- 1988 Get Loaded And Fuck Cassette (Self Released)
- 1989 Ian Mackeye 12" (In Your Face)
- 1992 Pajama Party Covers Album Picture Disc & LP (Vinyl Solution, Tim/Kerr)
- 1993 Dysfunctional Songs For Codependent Addicts CD (Tim/Kerr)
- 1994 The Early Years CD (Bitzcore)
- 1994 Best Of Poison Idea CD (Taang! Records)
- 2002 Kings Of Punk / Record Collectors Are Pretentious Assholes CD (Rhythm Vicar)
- 2005 Pick Your King / Learning To Scream LP (Reflex/Wolfpack)
Kings Of Punk reissue series
- 2011 Darby Crash Rides Again: The Early Years demos and rarities collection CD/LP (TKO Records & Southern Lord Records)
- 2012 The Fatal Erection Years collection of rarities and early releases CD/LP (TKO Records & Southern Lord Records)
- 2013 Kings of Punk expanded reissue 2xCD/2xLP (TKO Records & Southern Lord Records)
- 1991 Live In Vienna 7" EP (American Leather)
- 1991 Dutch Courage LP & CD (Bitzcore)
- 1992 Keep Warm, Burn The Rich 7" EP (Bootleg)
- 1993 Record Bootleggers Are Potential Millionaires LP (Bootleg)
- 1995 Your Choice Live Series LP & CD (Your Choice Records)
- 1996 Pig's Last Stand LP & CD (Sub Pop)
- By The Grace of God covered "Plastic Bomb" on their 1996 album For The Love Of Indie Rock.
- Kill Your Idols covered "Made to Be Broken" on their 2007 album Funeral for a Feeling.
- Machine Head covered "Alan's On Fire" as a B-side on their 1994 single Old.
- Negu Gorriak covered "Getting the Fear" (Ikaratzen) on their 1996 cover album Salam, Agur.
- Pantera covered "The Badge" for the 1994 The Crow soundtrack.
- Pulling Teeth covered "Alan's On Fire" on their 2008 single Witches Sabbath III.
- Toe To Toe covered "Give It Up" on their 1996 EP No Gods and "Just To Get Away" as a B-side on their 1999 single Slave.
- Turbonegro covered "Just To Get Away" on a live version from 1995 on the second disc of their 2005 Small Feces box set.
- Valse Triste covered "Think Twice" (Laske Henkesi) on their 1999 album Turha Ruokkia Ruumiita.
- Wolfbrigade covered "Say Goodbye" on their 2003 album In Darkness You Feel No Regrets.
- Pass Out Kings covered "Death Wish Kids " on their 2001 album We Claim Victory.
- The A-Team covered "Punish Me" on their 2004 album A Is For Asshole.
- Ratos de Porão covered "Pure Hate" on their 1995 album Feijoada Acidente.
- Armed and Hammered (Toronto) covered "Discontent" live and studio recording (unreleased). Performed live at one of their final shows in Kensignton Market.
- Vestindien from Bergen, Norway covered "Just To Get Away" on many of their live shows.
- Brezhnev from Amsterdam, Netherlands covered "Think Fast", "Think Twice", and "Give It Up" on their 1996 EP "Rocket To America" and on the P.I. tribute compilation album "Bigger Than God".
- Oregonian -Portland Man, 39, is arrested in pharmacy robberies Tips to Crime Stoppers helped Portland police arrest Steven Judd Hanford, 39, in connection with a string of pharmacy robberies in late summer. Hanford was arraigned Tuesday in Multnomah County Circuit Court. His next court date is October 15.
- Portland Mercury August 7, 2013: Portland's Poisonous Past: Poison Idea Are Hardcore's Greatest of All Time
- Official POISON IDEA MySpace.com profile.
- Poison Idea: Still the Kings of Punk (Cover story for the July 1992 issue of Portland's Paperback Jukebox.)
- Poison Idea page on Kill From the Heart (General information, but notably, it has interviews with band members)
- Interview with Jerry A. (of particular note, this interview has information on the unlicensed Epitaph reissue of Feel the Darkness)
- Flipside Interview - Poison Idea interview from 1990
- New York Times article about the passing of Tom Roberts.
- Rock! Shock! Pop! review of Darby Crash Rides Again: The Early Years CD
- Reflex/Wolfpack Records page on Discogs