BY LANCE DOILEY Yeah, I live in my truck. I own property of course, but the house that was willed to me has been rendered practically uninhabitable due to years of neglect and arson. If it’s an exceptionally hot day out I might sleep in the cool confines of my crawlspace, but nine times out of 10 I run to the rig. It’s not something I should be proud of since I’m union-protected and bring home an average of 65-70K a year, but with the lifestyle I lead I just don’t see the point. Wasn’t a concern of mine since I had the feeling I was gonna be road doggin’ it for a few years anyway.
You see, while rummaging behind my seats for loose percs — a couple always fail to make the cut when you guzzle em’ back like I do — I found the cassette-only “Grenade Battalions” demo my old thrash band Retribution Squad self-released in 1988. I realize the crude cover (rendered in pencil by my guitarist “Tire” Bailey) depicting a skeletal wizard engaged in a fireball fight with a two-headed werewolf might seen a little dated, but believe me, it made total sense at the time. I hadn’t listened to it in years, but I had a strong feeling there was some still some of that old magic buried within.
Retribution Squad were firmly entrenched in what you would call the “lower echelon” of late 80’s thrash, although we did have our moments. At the onset, on top of Tire on lead guitar, me throwing down the rhythm, and Colt on drums, we had some fat dude from Honduras with a perm and a bullet-belt on bass and vocals. I can’t even remember his name, to be honest. He ended of dying of electrocution onstage at Birch Hill Niteclub due to a bad ground at like 2PM during an all-local “Pedal to the Metal” fest. No one was there anyway; couple bouncers shuffled him off the stage like a dead horse and we finished the set instrumentally.
After that I switched to bass and Tire assumed rhythm guitar and vocals. He sounded like a poor man’s Paul Baloff and it was immediately clear from his rhythm work that he couldn’t do both at once, but we gave it a shot anyway. We ended up cranking out the Battalion demo over an ill-advised “dust is a must” weekend on a shitty Tascam 4-track. Listening back it was all treble and shrieks, and the spastic leads probably sounded better through the dense clouds of PCP, but I’d be lying to you if I didn’t break down like a fuckin’ baby listening to it. I’m not bullshitting you, there were some stadium-ready riffs buried in the mix. That settled it right then and there: Retribution Squad was re-uniting.
First step was to head over to the Singac Legion, where Colt was manning the bar for a Sunday morning Gin & Tears session. I knew he was itching to get back out onto the road — or to hit the road period, our last go-round only brought us as far as a Knights of Columbus in Trenton opening for Koven and Faith or Fear — but I didn’t know how bad until I walked in the door. I barely had a foot planted down before he picked up his drumsticks, told the regulars to go fuck themselves, and followed me out. Gin & Tears would have to wait until another time. Retribution Squad was back in fuckin’ business, motherfuckers.
Colt picked up a chorus pedal from the garage on our way out, it was clear he’d been thinking about finishing the trilogy. We’d been trying to write an album-ending trilogy for almost 23 years now, and finally Colt was convinced he had it. He proposed we call it “Retribution Grenade” as a clever play on our band name and early demo, and I was all for it, even after realizing just how coked out of his skull he was at the time. He nearly tripped over his words explaining the arrangements he had for the clean-channel “Purveyors of the Realm” intro in his head, but we had one small problem: We couldn’t do it without Tire, who had been missing in action since that incident with the goat and the poppers that my lawyer says I am still not allowed to talk about.
Fortunately, Colt gathered some leads on his whereabouts through a few local street denizens that led us to his apartment, located in the middle of the Paterson ruins. I called my buddy Garth at the docks as a precautionary measure since the last time we entered this complex we ended up having to ship a body to Puerto Rico in an oil drum, but we remained hopeful nonetheless.
The door to Tire’s apartment was cracked open slightly. I gave it a half-assed knock and we walked inside. Immediately we were overcome by the stale stench of death. Colt tripped over what we hoped was the culprit, a couple dead squirrels that looked like they fell through an opening in the drop ceiling and couldn’t find their way back out. On the counter were some leftovers from Domino’s, easily a month old; a handful of hot wings and some fuckin’ silly bread or whatever the fuck they call it. I grabbed a wing and a bread-stick, Colt took care of the rest.
The sink water ran brown and there was a half-spackled hole in the sheet rock made with what was “definitely a human head” according to Colt. There was a pretty good chance he was touring the worm circuit nowadays, but we kept going regardless. I admit we were impressed by the ATM machine blocking the entrance to the bathroom, since we were on the fifth floor and this place barely had usable stairs, let alone an elevator. I found out later he stole it from the Hess station down the block and the clerk had just cleared it, and he only got, like, $40 at most. We heard some rumblings from the bedroom and crawled over two Himalayan-sized stacks of stroke mags and old laundry to see him sitting there balls-ass naked playing a fuckin’ video game.
I eyed him, he eyed me, we both eyed the beat-to-shit BC Rich Warlock propped against the wall and it was settled without a word being said. He was back in it for the long haul. Also under the influence of a significant amount of cocaine, tensions threatened to arise at first when it was revealed he was working on a trilogy of his own, but I wasn’t worried. The second album needed one too. I knew the first few practices would be a little rusty since none of us had played much in the past 20 years and Colt wasn’t gonna get the job done with drumsticks alone, but now that the core was re-established I didn’t really give a shit. The Squad was back in the saddle, motherfuckers.
PREVIOUSLY: How I Came To Know Lance Doily
PREVIOUSLY: The Auspicious Debut Of BLOTTO
PREVIOUSLY: The Second Installment Of BLOTTO
PREVIOUSLY: The Third Installment Of BLOTTO
PREVIOUSLY: The Fourth Installment Of BLOTTO
PREVIOUSLY: The Fifth Installment Of BLOTTO
PREVIOUSLY: The Sixth Installment Of BLOTTO
PREVIOUSLY: The Seventh Installment Of Blotto
PREVIOUSLY: The Eighth Installment Of BLOTTO
PREVIOUSLY: The Ninth Installment Of BLOTTO
PREVIOUSLY: The 10th Installment Of BLOTTO
PREVIOUSLY: The 11th Installment Of BLOTTO