All My Friends Are Dead was the Consumers fuck you to Phoenix since nearly all their gigs there ended in brawls with long-haired rockers and other redneck gnarlers pounding on the band for daring to play punk rock in public in 1977! It didn't take long to suss. Head on out. Just before they packed for L.A. in early '78 the band managed to get themselves on tape during a single session blow-out frenzy. Now, 24 years later the abandoned tape is out on CD and vinyl, thanks to In the Red, a Burbank-based indie label. All My Friends Are Dead successfully captures the Consumers as a pissed off yet still fun no-frills punk rockin' band ... exactly who and what they were during their extremely short and sweet existence.
This record was recorded on 8-track in a Phoenix demo studio, engineered by Joey Dears, high school buds with lead guitarist Paul Cutler. Joey had accumulated eight hours of comp time as an employee perk. The sit-in drummer immediately bailed to play in an ELP cover band. Cutler, Mikey Borens, and lead singer David Wiley were the Consumers' creative core who did the writing, and John Precious was their drummer for a few shows in L.A. before they broke up by the end of '78.
The legend goes that The Consumers marked their sensational debut on the L.A. punk scene sometime during June-July, 1978, by beating up Wiley onstage at the Whisky. As if that wasn't enough fun for one night, there was also an unrelated war going on between legendary music entrepreneur-huckster Kim Fowley's entourage and the audience who hated his latest protegee, Dyan Diamond, also on the bill. Kickboy Face, Slash magazine's chief editorialist-ranter and David were heckling Diamond and throwing ice cubes at her after the Consumers set while Cutler was backstsage talking to Alice Bag. Suddenly Diamond's drummer -- eager to lash out at any punks in sight -- charged in like a loon and attacked Alice. Paul intercepted and was on top of the guy when Kim Fowley and a bunch of hoods with tinted shades and broken noses also burst in (supposedly out-on-loan Phil Spector bodyguards now thuggin' for Kim), whereupon Kim allegedly started kicking the shit out of him. On the second night of the same line-up -- the Consumers, Dyan Diamond, with the Cramps headlining -- the Consumers spent their entire set doing some sick trashed out psychedelic jam on Alley Oop, a 50's novelty hit song credited to Kim!
Back in Phoenix, The Consumers were originally just three guitar players with no rhythm section, including Paul Cutler and Mikey Borens, plus lyricist-lead singer, the late David Wiley, all bonded by love of psychedelic Euro-prog jazz like Henry Cow, Gong, and Robert Wyatt, who'd stopped listening to rock 'n' roll after Bowie's Spiders from Mars came out around 1972.
By '77 our guys had re-discovered rock through Britpunk pub raunch like The Sex Pistols and The Damned. Paul and high school bud David had even driven all the way to L.A. determined to hunt down a copy of the Pistols' Anarchy in the U.K. single. In the pre-Internet days there wasn't a record store anywhere in Arizona that had even heard of it, let alone stocked it.
The Consumers' first gig as a re-vamped punk rock band caused an uproar at the Zoo in Phoenix on new talent audition night with the show ending in violence. Phoenix at the time was strictly a three sets a night cover band scene. The Consumers' set ended in a brawl when somebody threatened Paul with a knife, and later some shithead tried to rip off the band's equipment. Phoenix was pure hell for any band doing original material, let alone a PUNK band daring to show its face!
There was nothing else for it. The Consumers packed up into a van in early '78 and headed over to L.A. where they lived a life of debauchery at the legendary Canterbury apartments. The Canterbury was a colony of glam-damaged punk rock club kids, a block away from the Masque, a basement dive once described by Slash's Claude 'Kickboy' Bessy as 'the pit's pajamas'. The Masque-Canterbury scene flourished in an area of Hollywood Boulevard around Boardner's Bar on North Cherokee Avenue as the L.A. punk rock equivalent of 'Haight-Ashbury' from 78-79. The Canterbury residents were also sort of like L.A.'s version of London's '100 Punks.'
After a few months of violent and intense live shows at the Masque and other local punk dives the band finally imploded. Some headed back to Phoenix and some stayed on in LA to form new bands. Paul Cutler went on to form the goth/punk 45 Grave and still later joined the Dream Syndicate. David Wiley formed the Pasadena art rock B People. Sadly, today there are only two surviving members of The Consumers. Sadder still, what passes for punk rock today is EZ listening when compared to “All My Friends Are Dead”.
owner of the Masque
co author of “We’ve Got The Nuetron Bomb”