The Gears’ Rockin’ at Ground Zero and The D.I.s Rare Cuts get paired up as a
deluxe reissue. What would Tipper Gore think?!?
By Blurt Staff
were formed in 1978, the heyday of Los Angeles
punk, when two childhood buddies from the Glassell
Park neighborhood of L.A. – singer Axxel G. Reese and drummer Dave Drive – joined
forces. They created the “punk surfabilly” sound after seeing the early Hollywood punk bands while being influenced by other
SoCal cultures. The band’s recorded tour de force was the live album Rockin’
at Ground Zero. Shortly after this epic live recording in 1982, the Gears’
guitarist Kidd Spike angrily smashed his ax to smithereens mid-set at the
Starwood and the Gears were done. Out if the ashes of The Gears, vocalist Reese
and drummer Drive launched a new band called The D.I.s (Drill Instructors).
In its Rockin’
at Ground Zero (Deluxe Edition) two-CD reissue, due out September 8, 2009,
Hep Cat Records features the complete 1980 LP packaged with the first single
(“Let’s Go to the Beach”) as well as five never-before-released demo recordings
from 1979, a total of 23 Gears songs, all remastered. This edition also contains
Rare Cuts!, 22 studio recordings by The D.I.s, including the entire
Billy Zoom-produced five-song 12″ vinyl EP Lock and Load.
Hep Cat will also release the original Gears Rockin’ at Ground Zero as a
single 23-song CD with five previously unreleased demo recordings that include
the rockabilly’d-up title track, “Rockin’ at Ground Zero,” and the
never-before-released “Girl Crazy.” Rockin’ At Ground Zero will also be
issued by Hep Cat as a vinyl LP in a limited run of 500 copies. The long-player
features colored vinyl and silk-screened jackets, just like the original 1980
LP on Playgems Records.
Preserving The Gears’ punkabilly influence, the D.I.s moved on to a broader definition
of roots music. Many of Los Angeles’ best-known punk denizens were D.I.s
at various times – Jimmy Reed (Levi Dexter & the Ripchords), Matt Lee (Ray
Campi’s Rockabilly Rebels), Mike “Shaky” Wilcox (The Rockats), Thadius T.
Baker, Patrick “Frenchie” French (The Joneses), “Venice George” Chavlez, Ron
Emory (TSOL) and Jonny Ray Bartel (The Red Devils and The Knitters).
Although the D.I.s soldiered on through 1992, they left only one recording in
their wake – the aforementioned five-track 12″ EP Lock & Load,
produced by X’s Billy Zoom. As well as being available as part of The
Gears’ Rockin’ at Ground Zero (Deluxe Edition), fans can purchase it
separately as The D.I.s: Rare Cuts! Punk archivist and schollar Jonny Whiteside wrote the liner
According to Whiteside’s notes, “The D.I.s worked a mutant strain of loaded
beat & roll, bristling with misfit rockabilly riff-slinging, fang-bearing
punk momentum and mad, deep boogaloo. The band’s near-militant attitude and
gleeful aggression always adhered to rock ‘n’ roll’s purest elemental
structure, and they crafted a set characterized by skull-denting, hip shaking
A historical note: When Tipper Gore began her tirade against filth and
pornography in pop music, she did so one afternoon on live television outside
Tower Records on Sunset Blvd., brandishing a copy of the D.I.s’ Lock &
Load, sputtering, “This is exactly what I’m talking about.” Tower sold 500
copies in less than a week.