Three chords and the truth

Nov 23, 2005 at 12:00 am

Few word combinations activate the gag reflex and get the acrid bile a-pumpin’ quite like “reunion show.” Too often these types of productions are irrelevant and mawkish displays of self-congratulatory horseshit.

But when you are talking about the reunion of a band like Heresy — one of Detroit’s most influential hardcore punk rock bands — it’s time to pause and give respect.

Heresy — which formed in 1981 and expired 10 years later — is the kind of band that survived with zero media support. They didn’t need it; they had truck loads of rep

The band’s lead singer, Tim King, has been a kind of deity in the hardcore scene since its earliest days. He wore liberty spikes before they had been called such, hung out in some of Cass Corridor’s seediest shit holes, and befriended some who would later go on to become godheads in the punk world.

Surprisingly though, he’s not the hard guy you might expect. He’s openly affectionate, and generous with compliments, particularly toward his bandmates.

Heresy has seen several incarnations over the years, but the final lineup was King, guitarist Ruben Moya, drummer Chuck Burns (Seduce, Speedball, Skeemin’ Nogoods) and bassist “Pistol” Pete Mitgard (Twistin’ Tarantulas).

They’re together and making a glorious racket for the first time in 14 years this week. King sat down to talk to Metro Times about the past, his band and the things he holds most dear.

Metro Times: Were you musical before you started Heresy?
Tim King: Yes. I was raised in Kentucky. My cousins and uncles and I used to sit around at night playing the stand up bass and fiddles and banjos. There was always traditional bluegrass being played in my house.

MT: When did you move up to Detroit?
TK: We moved up here in the early ’70s. My dad came up here for work.

MT: How was the transition from Kentucky to Detroit?
TK: I remember we moved up here in December. When we pulled in and there was about six feet of snow. I completely hated it (laughs).

MT: But did Detroit ever start to feel like home?
TK: Oh, yeah, definitely. This is home

MT: So, for a bluegrass-loving Kentucky kid, how did you come to form a hardcore punk band?
TK: I was always interested in new music and I was into punk rock in the ’70s, when it was way voodoo. You know, when everyone was like, “Oh my God, spiked hair!”

MT: But what drew you to punk rock specifically?
TK: One day in ’75 or ’76, I went to Full Moon Records in Waterford. There was this band playing there. The singer looked just like Billy Idol — he had this spiked blond hair and a pink fur jacket on. I remember thinking “God, this is cool as fuck.” After that, I was completely changed.

MT: Were there politics or lofty ambitions behind your music?
TK: No. I just loved playing — every single show, hon. I always tell people “whether you are playing for 10 people or 10,000, you give them the same damn show.” It could have never been about money or anything like that for me. In fact, when we first started the band, I used to give the rest of the guys my portion of the pay. I didn’t need it. I had a job. In fact, the very last show we played was this two-show gig. The first show was an all ages show, and there was about 15-20 kids there, that’s it. I said to the band “Those kids paid the same fucking money. You give them the same show.” It doesn’t matter, that’s what I have always believed.

MT: The punk rock scene must have small then.
TK: Not really. But it was a pretty underground scene. There were a lot of clubs — they were all kind of hidden in Cass Corridor. The Freezer, the New Miami, City Club

MT: Can you describe it?
TK: It was crazy. There were a lot of skinhead kids and a lot of spike-haired kids. They’d cram into the Freezer, this hole that would hold about 40 people normally. We’d get like 200 kids in there. They’d stage dive off of speakers that were like 12-feet high. It was way cool. It was a real tight scene too. Nobody messed with anybody there, everybody stuck up for everybody else. I mean, we’re hanging out in pretty bad neighborhoods back then, people looked out for each other.

MT: I know a lot of you hung out at places like Bookie’s, which was a club known for transvestites, who, like the punks, were dismissed as weirdos.
TK: Everybody just did their own thing. It never bothered me. I used to hang out at Bookie’s a lot, man. The first time I ever saw the Misfits, I was at Bookie’s. I became really good friends with Jerry [Ciafra] and [P.C.] Doyle. I have Misfits memorabilia that people would kill for.

MT: Like what?
TK: Like Doyle’s arm bands, Jerry’s spikes. I don’t know if you knew this, but their dad owns Exact-O. They would work in the mills during the week, and they’d tour on the weekends. Yeah, they’d make those one-inch around, three-inch tall spikes in their dad’s factory.

MT: I am sure people were terrified of you.
TK: Just a little bit.

MT: So why did Heresy give it up?
TK: Well, I wanted to get married and start a family. And Chuck was moving to California.

MT: Did you start a family?
TK: I have two daughters. My oldest is 17, and I have an 11-year-old. My 17-year-old is a 4.0 student. She plays viola in the chamber orchestra; she sings in the chamber choir. She’s a real good girl. My 11-year-old plays drums and guitar. She says she wants to be in a band some day. She also loves the hot rod thing. I had her welding when she was 9 years old.

MT: You sound like you are close with them.
TK: My wife left when my baby was like 4-months-old. I raised both of ’em by myself for almost six years. Yes, we are very close.

MT: How did you manage raising two daughters on your own
TK: I just did what I had to do.

MT: Do they know about your past? Do they know their dad was the lead singer of Heresy?
TK: Oh, yeah. Actually my 17-year old — because the punk rock thing is kind of coming back around — she takes my memorabilia and shows her friends at school

MT: What do you think about the way punk rock has became fashionable?
TK: It’s like anything else. Kids pay 70 or 80 dollars for the kind of clothes I used to sew by hand. It’s a fad thing. If the kids are into it, that’s there own thing.

MT: It doesn’t irk you at all
TK: No. Hell, I irritated a lot of people by the way I looked, but I did what I wanted. People who make fun of people like that are jealous and damaged. I will say this though — you have to be able to stand tall and back it up.

MT: Inevitably, when I do an interview with a Detroit punk rock band, the name Heresy comes up. Do people still talk to you about the old days?
TK: Everywhere I go. I still get phone calls. This guy contacted me last year because he has literally wore out the one tape he had

MT: So this show you have coming up this week, do you consider it a “reunion show”
TK: We’ve done one show in 14 years. Yes (laughs).

MT: Why now? Why do this after all these years
TK: Because I am almost 50 and I can!


Wednesday, November 23, at Alvin’s, 5756 Cass, Detroit; 313-831-4577. With Pirate Law, Gore and Social Outcast. All ages.

Eve Doster is Metro Times listings editor. Send comments to [email protected]