12 Songs, 46 Minutes


About Jack Grisham and the West Coast Dukes

For punk rock personalities in California to run for politics has become no more strange than for movie actors to be elected to offices such as mayor, governor, and even president. The Ronald Reagan era certainly helped inspire the rage behind punk rock bands such as T.S.O.L., with whom Jack Grisham has been performing off and on since 1978. Grisham himself ran for governor in 2004, a bid that was unfortunately terminated by another movie star candidacy. A young man once described as a "pasty-faced youth" by T.S.O.L. historians just didn't have the muscle for such a race; in addition, Grisham mentioned in interviews that his rock & roll background inevitably led to voters not taking him too seriously.

Grisham indeed seems to have more gravitas when examined as a figure in the development of West Coast rock history. T.S.O.L. are considered one of the founders of the vicious grindcore style, an important aspect of which is menacing vocals. Politically, however, the message of this band in the early '80s quickly swerved from strong political diatribe to sheer entertainment, kind of like John Kerry picking the turn-off lane for a water-skiing park rather than the ramp marked "Exit Iraq." Grisham originally left T.S.O.L. in 1983 and was replaced by his brother-in-law, Joe Wood. Grisham went on to sing in other bands such as the Joykiller, Cathedral of Tears, and Tender Fury, but has been reunited sporadically with T.S.O.L., including a 2001 CD entitled Disappear.

A provocative aspect of Grisham's original performing style was his use of a series of aliases, supposedly one for each new release. On the 1981 Dance With Me, for example, he is credited as Alex Morgan. He also performed as Jack Greggors, Jack Ladoga, and Jack Delauge -- in part to confuse the so-called "scenesters" who think they know everything about a band or style, a bit like Miles Davis intentionally leaving the names of his sidemen off of one album. Grisham also supposedly developed the ploy in order to throw authorities off his trail, although accounts that mention this do not go into any further exciting detail. Sometimes a change in looks would go along with a name change, a combination that on a well-lit stage might well throw off the bloodhounds. In his Alex Morgan persona, Grisham wore so much makeup that he was mistaken for an Adam Ant clone. "But I was wearing makeup when I was a skinhead three years ago, just to bum people out," Grisham explains, a comment that by itself should qualify a person for the governorship, at least in California. ~ Eugene Chadbourne