Larry Boyd Interview

Originally printed in Spinal Jaundice #8 – 1989


Still writing for Suburban Voice after a few years, and he drummed and sang for Disarray, now a lost band and one that I am starting to appreciate a bit more than initially. Definitely check out his stuff, written and recorded.

MJ: Who is Larry Boyd?
LB: Born 10/1/57, Phoenix, AZ. Father was officer in the Marines, so I moved around quite a bit, most of my childhood in So Cal. Mother died when I was 12. Brother died when I was 13. Was knocked around a lot at home, lotsa haircut and music wars, typical early 70’s stuff. Ran away from home a few times, institutionalized most of ’73 and ’74, was happy to be out of my house. Sent back home at 17, followed by nervous breakdown, punched out a glass door, almost bled to death on front lawn and crippled myself for life (I had been left handed until then). Left home the day after turning 18. Hitched from VA to AZ to join a band with my friends but was fired 3 weeks later due to inability to sing. Spent most of ’76-’77 thumbing 30,000 miles crashing with various friends on both coasts and Arizona. Met some people in Middleboro, Mass (from whence my AZ band friends had returned) and settled here in late ’77 where I’ve remained, except for an ill-dated 4 month move back to AZ in ’86. My employment history includes work as a movie extra, pump jockey, destroyer of old buildings, cook, night watchman, plus a couple lumber mill and nursing home jobs. At the moment I’m allegedly a white collar worker, in middle management for a retailer of comic books, baseball cards, etc. I drive a ’64 Dart station wagon and my cat’s name is ‘Terrible’.

MJ: How about a quick rundown on Disarray?
LB: Disarray was founded on  New Year’s Day, 1979. The early lineup was basically an extension of a band we’d had in ’78 called The Locals, plus a guy named Neil Maranville on bass. Neil was one of those legendary small town incredible musicians who don’t bust out and who don’t live to see 30. Neil had given me work and a place to stay, encouraged my writing and taught me most of what little I know about technical music. He also took a lot of shit from his ‘musician’ friends for playing with us. Anyway, the first Disarray crashed to a halt by that June after one gig, a house party which ended in a brawl and 9 police cars. That summer, Disarray included anywhere from 3-10 people pounding away on improvised drone jams playing 3-5 hours at parties at this same house. An “Animal House” sort of place we called the “Big House.” Nowadays the house holds the offices of an oil company but back then it was pretty crazed. After some intense “Peyton Place” style intrigue, Disarray reformed as a fixed band in late ’79 with me on drums. We’d already done some recording but didn’t play live until I could come fairly close to drumming and singing at the same time. Our first gig was in front of 2500 at an outdoor beer bash in May, 1980. 65 gigs and 3 or 4 lineups later, we played out last gig in April, 1986. The intense “Peyton Place” style intrigue rarely let up.

MJ: So what did, uh, punk rock have to do with all this?
LB: Back before ’76 there was what was referred to as ‘underground rock’. A term that encompassed a fair range of sounds. I left home with this dream of having or being in an ‘underground’ band, y’know like, uh, radical hippies man…largely inspired by Hawkwind, or my teenage impression of them with “Doremi Fasol Latido” and “A Space Ritual…” I wanted an anti-establishment, confrontational noisy rock band. When punk rock hit the fan I was already there, way the hell over in a corner. It sprung up around me and no doubt some other folks off in their own corners. The idea was that you could do it your way, that you didn’t have to be this kinda clam or that kinda clam. Disarray was my band and I did what I wanted. That was supposed to be the whole point, but that much freedom was a scary notion, then as now. Disarray wasn’t rock star assholes or musician fascists or ass kissers to a defined trend. Creativity and expression and not being a goddamned clone was what we were about. I lived in a rooming house with the bathroom down the hall, going from paycheck to paycheck, eating beans 3 times a week, pulling 21 hour days when the band starting playing out. Middleboro was a pretty isolated place for us to do what we were doing. We were the whole scene by ourselves. We are also lousy businessmen and not very able to conform. All that considered, we went pretty far.

MJ: Influences?
LB: Tons actually…most 60’s music, from Phil Spector on, individualists like Zappa, Neil Young, Todd Rundgren, Hendrix, mid-70’s King Crimson, The Who, Alice Cooper up until “Billion Dollar Babies,” Spirit, the first couple Eno albums, “Ziggy Stardust,” “White Light/White Heat,” Hawkwind when Lemmy was in the band, a bunch of others I’m sure – Lester Bangs too.   

MJ: How about during the ‘punk’ era?
LB: Well, I was apeshit about the early Ramones, pissed off a lot of my old friends with them…the first couple Saints albums, Wire, The Adverts, early Damned, Buzzcocks, the first Banshees lineup, The Residents, Gang Of Four, Pistols and Clash of course, later on, stuff like Bad Brains, The “Damaged” LP from Black Flag, Flipper, Husker Du, The Misfits, Angry Samoans, Mission Of Burma (who people said we sounded like), and The Minutemen…I was totally crushed when D. Boon bought it. In a way I gave up that point. It was like, “What’s the fuckin use…” The last band I got excited about was The Buttholes…currently I’m not really following the scene or whatever, but I liked Union Carbide Productions, anything Kenny Chambers is involved in, the last Dinosaur Jr. LP…

MJ: Are you actually writing nowadays?

LB: Well, uh, not too much actually…I’ve written maybe 10 times in the time since Disarray ended, only a couple last year…they haven’t been leaping out of my brain lately. A couple of the Disarray guys and I spent over a year working on songs to be recorded under the name Pennies From Heaven, but bass players kept disappearing and were all busy and old now, we cancelled more rehearsals than we actually played. We did some tracks which are lying around incomplete…we might still finish them before too long…I’ve played a couple fill-in gigs drumming for Shattered Silence, Al Quint’s band, and I bought myself this Yamaha keyboard at K-Mart to play around with…3 or 4 times a year I try to arrange jam parties at my house, get a bunch of players together and start plowing…I’m open to offers and I like working on other people’s projects but I don’t think I have the temperament to lead a band of my own into the arena again. Not to mention no one has asked me to come back…

MJ: Would you want to elaborate on the Boston scene currently, and the impact of NYC and the ‘youth crew’, etc.?
LB: Scene? You mean a group of people or bands united by a common goal, if not their musical orientation, working together in a positive direction? Gee, I dunno, I think that’s a question for Al – I barely go to gigs at all anymore, as for NY, I’ve got some friends in Norwalk, CT, and I’ve been to Anthrax a few times…the last time was for the “No More Censorship” benefit, and I recall the straight edge contingent standing apart from everyone and leaving the moment the straight edge band’s set was done…I’ve heard stories of bad blood between certain more upscale Boston bands and the folks down there. But I don’t know any new developments since ’87.

MJ: Does seeing those ‘skinheads’ on TV and all that pose any more real threat than just enforcing shopping mall rules against them?
LB: I like the way you worded that question…I realize that having a buzz cut means a bunch of different things, that there’s quite a variety of skinheads…I’ve got no problem with straight edge kids if they’re not enforcing their beliefs on others by force, if they think they’re superior I think they’re wrong, but they don’t trouble me personally…I think the reactionary, Nazi skinheads must make it a real drag to be one of the more enlightened skins…Nazi skinheads are lower than wormshit and I’d like to say, “Fuck you asshole” to every last one of them. I don’t see where deliberately ignorant white trash have any reason to feel superior to anyone else, no matter who they are…They’re too lazy to think about the shit they’re full of. They’re ignorant by choice, and there’s no fucking excuse for them. But you look around and they reflect an attitude in America which has been here from the start, and the 60’s were one of the very few times when that attitude was driven back to any degree. The Reagan years made it okay again to be white and wealthy and stupid and fascists grew up in that atmosphere, so it’s not shocking they exist, it’s just tragic. Tragic to the bone. I’m not saying black racists are okay, though they may have earned their attitude the hard way. As far as I’m concerned the only ‘other’ kind of person in the world is someone you can’t get along with. I’m a mongrel myself: Italian, French, Dutch, German, Irish and Cherokee Indian. Actually ‘hybrid’ sounds better than ‘mongrel’…David Duke is now a Louisiana state legislator. Right-wing extremists received 7.5% of the vote in West Germany. On TV just yesterday I saw the story of the so-called “Aryan Woodstock” in California. How pathetic and disgusting! But to answer your question, the Nazi skins reflect an unfortunate trend in the U.S. and other parts of the western world that should be resisted at all costs, and if they come in my face with that shit I’ll sure as hell resist, to say the least. The best defense against ignorance is knowledge…Wising them up would be preferable to smashing them down, but if they come marching down my street it’s gonna be a little late for the intellectual approach. I hope it doesn’t come down to that.

MJ: So how do you feel about Famous Hardcore Of Punkland calling you an ‘anti-hardcore witch hunter’?
LB: Hey, I wrote a critical letter to Maximum Rock N Roll about Craig Hill and his zine. I expected him to respond in kind. That would have been fine with me. But he responded with out and out lies, he deliberately wrote untruths. He knew he was lying. It was pretty depressing to have those lies be the last word on Larry Boyd in MRR. In the context of their ‘Letters’ page, I don’t know if it’s worse to be called a ‘nazi’ or ‘commercial soft rock’, but I can see where Yohannen’s got more important matters to consider in general. As far as I’m concerned, I buried Craig Hill in my column in Suburban Voice #25. There’s nothing more to discuss. He lied and I didn’t. I’m not anti-hardcore I’m anti-stupid categories perpetuated by jerks like Craig Hill. This isn’t a club where you have to follow rules to join. I mean, if I’m anti-hardcore witch hunter, what does that make Craig Hill? A martyr to the cause? What a conceit, what a bunch of shit! Independent is independent, what the fuck is ‘conditional independence’? I didn’t realize that my letter of criticism would so thoroughly shatter his ego that he would respond with slander and character assassination. In that respect I regret writing the letter. Middleboro’s a small town where everyone knows everyone – at least it seemed that way, especially before cable TV came to town…Disarray was good gossip to some folks, and lots of weird stories used to circulate about me and the band, such as I was a junkie, I wore ripped up clothes to hide the fact I was a rich drug pusher, I was fucking band members’ wives behind their backs, we liked eating cat food, we signed various contracts, broke up twice as often as we actually did…My favorite stupid story was when some girl asked, “Were you the guy who wrote ‘Sweet Jane’?” Some of the stories lingered on longer than the band itself, being lied about totally sucks.

MJ: How long do you intend to keep writing your column in Suburban Voice?
LB: Well I keep sending them in and AL keeps printing them, and it’s been that way for almost 5 years now…When I started I had no idea I’d still be doing it 5 years later. I feel real positive about SV. It’s a pretty solid zine and I’m happy to have been involved. I’m not sure how much longer Al’s gonna keep at it, only 2 issues came out in ’88, not counting the heavy metal spin-off zine. As far as I can tell though, I’ll be in SV for its duration. Hi Al!

MJ: So what’s the deal here anyway, is this revolution, or safe teenage rebellion to be outgrown, or record collecting, or what?
LB: It’s all those things depending on who you’re talking to and what time of day it is. A lot of music which was considered threatening to authority and/or trash for young people 20 or 30 years ago now sells products and provides movie soundtracks for these former young people who went on to become citizens with their own kids. These kids need their own music to upset their parents with, not music they hear in TV commercials, so their extremes are by necessity more extreme. People who grew up with doo-wop and Elvis Presley found themselves troubled by Jimi Hendrix and Alice Cooper, and those from that period of time have Slayer or Neubauten to be troubled by. Those who considered Robert Plant an extreme now have Axl Rose to contend with. The first Ramones LP was considered real fast once…I had a good long adolescence and while I’m not quite elderly, the fact remains that I’m not a teenager. This music or anti-music, this ’89 scene or whatever, is first and foremost the province of youth, it’s gotta be that way. I accept the fact that I don’t enjoy or understand or relate to a lot of what’s happening, that’s how it should be, and I’m not inclined to tell the youth how to run their own domain, other than speaking out against categories and clones and peer pressure. 10 or 15 years from now, we’ll see what you have to look back on. Wait till this current strain of yuppie toddlers hits adolescence.

MJ: Who really gives a shit about you or your dead band or your column?
LB: Another well-worded question. I don’t know who gives a shit. I didn’t know you were reading my column out in Colorado until you wrote to me. I didn’t know Al Quint had heard my band on the radio until he wrote to me. I’ve tried to create reactions, I’ve tried to get people to respond in kind, I haven’t fed people stuff that went down smooth…The message needs to be projected outward into the big world. You and I can sit here and bitch about what’s wrong and what should be done instead and feel very satisfied with ourselves, but the message hasn’t gone anywhere and nothing has changed. The most I could hope for with Disarray or my column is that at some point someone goes, “Hmmm…” I’m not presuming to know the true way, I don’t have the answers in a notebook, but if someone pauses long enough to go, “Hmmm…” that’s where change comes from. Even that may be presuming too much, but that’s what I hope or wish I’m doing.

MJ: Are you an artist?
LB: An artist isn’t something someone calls one’s self.

MJ: If you could attend your own wake, what would you overhear?
LB: Gee, that Larry, he was sorta spooky, didn’t socialize too much, spent a lot of time in his room, mighta smoked too much dope on occasion, but he kept a pretty good beat and made a wicked pot of Curry.

MJ: Any parting words for the youth of America?
LB: If it’s in you and it’s gotta come out, then let it out as best you can. Don’t be jerked around by artificial categories, be true to yourself and the rest will follow. Or not.