The punk scene in the greater Danbury, CT area, which was the closest “big city” to where I grew up, was an odd beast. When I could find a ride, I’d head out to shows at whatever teen center, basement, or church would let the kids set up. There were never any out of town bands at first, just a bunch of goofball locals whose favorite “punk” bands included Sonic Youth, Nirvana, Dead Milkmen, and, of course, Sex Pistols. We had no real concept of what was cool or even what bands were current, but we knew that punk shows were fun, so the musically inclined (and some non-musically inclined) started bands and the rest of us cheered them on.
I don’t think any of those bands had aspirations to tour and most were thrilled when they duped a few copies of a boom box recording of their practice to give to their friends. They’d made it! There was a public record of their existence. Part of the fun about the scene then is that it was so innocent. No one was trying to impress or be someone who they weren’t. As those things go, that little scene grew up. I’m not sure where most of those folks are today, but among the old crowd are a top tier member of an anarcho-political group, a few major label rockers, and an underemployed record store clerk.
The Earthlings would have fit in. At least, I get the impression that the scene in Brantford, Ontario was pretty similar to the scene in Danbury. The band was started by two brothers, Rob and Ryan, when they thought, as is so often the deciding factor in starting a band, “we can start a band, so why don’t we?” With that, they scavenged pawn shops for equipment and recruited a few of their friends. None of them could play their instruments, but they gladly accepted an offer to play a party about a week later. Their shows seem to have been a blast, with prizes for the crowd, magic marker Kiss makeup, and costumes.
Not too long after that first gig the band decided it was time to record an album. They went to their practice barn, hung some mics and ran them through a mixing board that hooked into a VCR. Once the levels were right, they hit record and the rest was history. Then they’d make artwork, dub some tapes, and have an album.
The band ended up recording four tapes and a single before calling it quits. Of these, I’ve only heard the single, which was pressed in a tiny edition of 200 copies and distributed locally. The first song on the record, Dr. Drink is the real standout. Fuzzed guitars and high pitched vocals have never sounded so good. Part of the charm is that, while you can guess that they probably had a few Man Or Astroman discs in their collections, this is moody and demented and is a fresh, original side. Keeping with the space theme, the sleeve is made of a galactic imaged piece of wallpaper cut to 7” size with an Earthlings sticker on it. (Right click and "Save as..." to listen to "Dr. Drink")
After the release of the EP, the Earthlings lost a member, but continued as a trio for a while before calling it quits. They broke up after their 65th show. It’s a shame they didn’t make it down to Danbury. I think that we would’ve had a blast to see some out-of- towners dolled up in dresses and dancing around with us.
Sink demo tape
Callow demo tape
The Love EP tape
7" - 200 copies
X-1000 tape (also 8-track)
As always, I’m interested to hear about more such great punk bands from all decades. If you played in, were friends with, or otherwise know of a cool band that put out a good record but never made it with the cool crowd, then I’d like to hear about it. If I can find the record and I dig it maybe it’ll end up being the subject of a column some day.
Also, I’ve been messing around with a website, which can be found at: www.nostages.com. There’s not much content yet besides some old bits of writing that are at times cringe worthy, but I figured I’d stick ‘em on the net anyway. The site is also home to Track The Nubees, which is my attempt to document the covers to all copies of the Nubees single. It’s a rough beginning, so please help out! If you’ve got a copy of the record, please send a scan of the cover and label, along with the record number to me.
PO Box 49631
Austin, TX 78765
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