Articles - Misc. - "Live Fast. Die - Piranhas! A.K.A. ATTACK!"

Right now, I’m far away from the most muscular machines. Still though, we’re being frequently passed by smaller pieces of exercising steel and plastic. As they sweat carbon monoxide into the air, 2500 miles away, my corner of the Midwest sits. It sits rusted away, and paved over. Maybe it still has some sort of hidden potential. I don’t know.

Years ago, the Midwest was one of the focal points of the evolution of man. Steel, technology, and fuel combusted, propelling the dollar a day immigrants’ children into the middle class neighborhoods of the cities. This same explosion set the scene for the bombing and gutting of these cities. Questions still linger about who lit the wick. Paint is still peeling off of the houses. Blood still runs down the storm drains. What’s done is done. The Midwestern cities have been all but totally abandoned; but that’s the price that must be paid for the evolution of man.

Leave these cities to the poor to sort it out for themselves- suburban evolution. That is the consensus. It’s just too bad that the suit and tie cavemen didn’t realize that they would soon be stuck in the middle again. This time though, it is not the sandwich of class, but of wires vs. eating, made out of the reality that is a world run by computers vs. the relic machines and outmoded brains of the 20th century. We’ve come up with some pretty good shit, but we’re too dumb to use most of it. The computers are winning- just like in Terminator, dude.

Within these set parameters, speed has replaced any sort of meditation. Even reasoning has been replaced by a simpler form of logic. Information is fed and processed. There is simply no time to remark on the chaos. There is no time to explain the tattered, chugging, unflinching stab wound that is this life. No time for art.

For the many saints and raiders that have been left behind though, reflection is the only reasonable logic. There will always be those who document. There will always be those who document and process feelings. And there will always be those who insist on holding a mirror up towards society, begging them to catch even a small glimpse of themselves. For its own sake. Though most music now is only a perpetuator of these fucked modes, and what already is, as opposed to any sort of answer. As long as this society stands, "Search and Destroy" will always be a terrifying statement of lost souls operating and reaching out inside of a society in flux. "Pump Up the Jams" will not be remembered so kindly, if at all. It’s only remembered with a laugh, though at the time of its release it was considered "the bomb." It’s not, and will never be considered art- it’s Prozac.

But from the mutilated streets of Midwestern cities comes a futuristic sound of this laser beam tragedy- in these future cities the cars don’t float; they rust. These conscious and unconscious sounds that the Midwest has always puked onto the world have spent the silicon 90’s/post hardcore days and nights redefining themselves once again. And like sick germs, the guttural screams of the hungry wolf packs are echoing through the tube and sensor forests and down the trash strewn alleys of this final frontier- in overdrive. Once again rock and roll/art is not a paying profession but the sacrificial imperative that it is supposed to be. The Battle of the 2000’s rages on. Attack!

The Piranhas: (L to R) Brian, Amy, Jaime, Carl, and Ian.

The Piranhas were born only to die. They simply never had a chance. Their tank was too, too small. Their distorted screams too, too stifled. Corporate music stood in their way, sure- symbolically. But so did punk rock. When their wolf pack was still charging, no one seemed that interested in lending a hand except for a couple of Midwest people and a couple distributors. They hardly even played outside of Michigan. Now though, over a year after the fact, people want to know the story. People finally have the records. People are finally being faced with their own distorted, reflective and reflected images. Now they see. But now the Piranhas are no longer. Now it’s safe to like them. They’ll never come for you again. They are a retired Midwest Missile diffused, and now meticulously inspected. But the music will always singe your hair and fingers. Though the "taking them on the high side" style of it will always be met with resistance by the commanding officers of the mind broken sub sects, and the wave pretension ear candy, head garbage cultists, a fact is still a fact. To those who know better though, punk rock is punk rock, rock and roll is dead, the 80’s were awesome, and music will continue to be served in two forms- good and bad. And the Piranhas were a perfect mixture of both. The Piranhas weren’t easy. The drums pulverized, the keyboards Question Mark, Screamers, and the Human League, the bass unbridled and skilled, the guitars a ripped out, challenging, chaotic wash, highly skilled without hardcore shredding, and the singer complexly, and completely unhinged= you got your fucking ass handed to you. Every great disaster movie has a beginning and an end. So too did the voyage of the SS Piranha. Ready. Set. Fail. Disaster Detroit! You sat down to eat but someone brought too much danger to the table. You ran off when you could’ve licked it up. That’s the story.

Disaster Detroit

Ian: Well, it started with me and Jim as just an idea we kicked around even before the EPILEPTIX. We'd been self-abuse pals for like 7 years and were inseparable assholes. Then I screwed around with the MURDER CITY WRECKS as a second guitarist fer a while and Jamie was in JIM BEAM AND THE THROWUPS, so when we were both done with those bands we really started talkin’ about it. We first got Amy, we met her in a store in the mall that sold dildos, and had hung out for a while...once she pissed on some emo pricks head from the balcony of the '404.’ But we knew she played piano and Jaime found a used farfisa at a church sale for $20 and we wanted to use that fucking thing! Then we got our pal Tony (RIP) on bass who was a quiet, RADIO BIRDMAN addict, but had never played and really couldn't play bass at all. I met Carl (ling-ling) at a show. He's kind of a hunchbacked guy who looked about 12 years old; he looked like gay-bait really! He's a great drummer and would always bring pills to practice. After a few practices Tony kinda dropped out. I think he decided that bass wasn't really his thing, so I phoned up Brian who was in THE DRUGGIES and even did a short bass fill-in with the EPILEPTIX. He had been tryin’ to get me to join THE DRUGGIES but I was doin’ this thing with James and Amy, so now we needed a bassist and Brian joined up. So now we had a good deviant vibe that every rock ‘n’ roll band needs to be any good, and we started writing. Our original name was CHAPEAU VERDE. We got it from this shitty strip club in Redford where all the strippers have scars on they're asses and snaggle teeth.

Brian: I was still doing the Druggies when he (Ian) approached me about starting something, we found Karl, and that was that.

That of course, was the beginning of the end. Everything that starts, stops. Everything that lives, dies. "Future Primitive" to the beat of a leather and titanium frenzy. Monkey with a driver’s license. Stomping. Electricity. Death. Destruction. Famine. Pestilence.

Ian: Well, we originally had the "future primitive" directive. We wanted everything to be a combination of a futuristic new sound, but still keeping like a good cave-man feel. Plus we never thought in terms of being a punk band. I think as soon as ya start thinkin’ that too much you’re gonna start being traditional. So we always tried to declassify our sound.

The Piranhas Swarm and Strike!

The Piranhas broke up (Seriously).

BG: It seemed like the Piranhas went off the rails before many people outside of the Midwest really even heard of them. Now the 7" and 12" are out and getting great reviews, but you don't even play now. What the fuck happened? I know your singer Jaime was pretty ballistic and you were banned from playing most places. Was that the reason? Why didn't you just take it on the road? I've heard that it wasn't just all him though. What's the story here, Brian?

Brian: Piranhas ended because it was time to.........I don't know. I feel at some point the five of us just didn't share the same vision for the band. Jaime was obviously a pretty enigmatic performer, and for a lot of people, that was the whole appeal of the Piranhas. It did get to the point where we couldn't get a show in the area, but that wasn't the reason we stopped.... Basically we did what we wanted to accomplish (Editor’s note- remember this quote) and it was time to move on. Jaime seemed to lose interest in the whole musical process and focused solely on the performance aspect.........that's in no way a knock on Jaime, since now he is doing "performance art" type plays. He is perfect for that sort of thing, and I wouldn't mind working with him at some point on that either... All in all I'd have to say it was a pretty typical break-up reason............

Ian: Well, James and we started going in different directions, and we wanted to end THE PIRANHAS before we wrecked it by not having the same group vibe as when it began.

Boring, boring bullshit, I feel. But there you have it. The Piranhas started. The Piranhas stopped. That’s the story, but the Piranhas weren’t storytellers. What needs to be seriously looked at is what they left behind, and what was in the middle. Very few bands lack any vision of any sort. They seem to simply be content by doing their own version of what has already been. It’s lifeless. But between the covers of the Piranhas lies life.

Story Time.

BG: I want to hear about the "Case of the Cut Amplifier Cords."

Brian: As for the cord-cutting incident, you're probably referring to our record release show at the Gold Dollar in Detroit. Things got out of hand pretty quickly while we played and the owners turned off the power to get us to stop. Well the crowd started yelling and we just stood there for a while, and after like 5 minutes they turned the power back on, probably for fear of a riot breaking out or something. So we start playing again, and Jaime is beating on this rat on the stage, and then tapes it to his bare chest. I guess that was too much because then someone literally cut the cord to my amp in half and then they shut the bar down and cleared everyone who was still there out.

Wish Fulfillment.

BG: Do you feel that your goals were fulfilled, Ian?

Ian: Somewhat- it’s hard to not sound like you're influences, but then again I can listen to just about any band and figure out what they like to listen to. So no band can ever reach real originality really. But I do think it’s important for bands to not be so bent on being "punk" or "punk concept." That's why we got all these shitty "77" style bands. Those are the guys who don't understand that punk-rock comes from originality and the aggression that the band has to begin with. But they insist that it comes from imitation and tradition, I guess it does now...they own the name now. Punk rock needs a new name or somthin’ (Editor’s note- ask Shaun Abnoxious). The same goes for garage rock, it’s been taken to its limits, it’s like watching a cover band, although it’s sooooooooo hip!! But anyways, (Editor’s note- I didn’t add the "s" to "anyways," that’s the way people from the Midwest say it) it’s really hard to have too much originality when you wanna make what's basically rock 'n' roll. Too radical usually turns out as pretentious-jerkin off. So we wanted to be new, but mostly we wanted people's hair to blow back when they hear us.... So what I’M sayin’ is the BLANKS 77 never made nobodies ears bleed!!!

The Piranhas Kiss and Make Up.


Sounds simple, but there’s also a new twist to this story. As of 06.22.01, the band has recorded for a new EP, played a show, done a couple of new interviews, and have a fully functioning lineup, featuring all the original members except Carl. With a new drummer, new songs, and new fire, I guess it is simple- the Piranhas are fucking back. And why not? In this era of disposable bands and trends, "redundant," copy style, brain-dead and culturally devoid musical hopelessness, the return of the Piranhas seems less like something to question and more like something that would, and does, allow a sigh of relief to be expelled from the charred lungs of every person that has been screaming for good, dynamic, harsh, raw, violent, and inspiring rock and roll music. Sure there have been a couple of good bands, but they forget one thing- the art and the violence. Or is it the art of violence? It’s all one or the other for most. Chase the light at the end of the tunnel and find the barfing bunny. For many of you, you’ve known what I am talking about since the beginning of this mess. For others, maybe you’ve just discovered the band through the Attack LP, or the "Garbage Can" 7" (both on Tom Perkins Records). Either way, these two groups of people can both prepare themselves for another round. But for those of you silly enough to have never listened to the Piranhas, this is your second and probably you’re final chance. And this time, I suspect you will lick it up. As human wastes, we generally do not respect what we have- we respect what we want. Much of the time, we only want what we’ve once had. That’s the real problem. But we can all die together comfortably if we could all just not only respect what we have immensely, but also be willing to cut its head off and move on. And that, really, is the story.

Article and Interview by: Dale S. Sanderson Jr. (a.k.a. Kenny on Broadway)
Pictures by: Liz, used with the Piranhas permission.

© 2003