Redd Kross Redd Kross - Red Cross

AKA THE LOVEDOLLS

Formed: Hawthorne, Los Angeles, California, USA

Redd Kross aka Red Cross Live 1979

Red Cross (later Redd Kross courtesy of a lawsuit by the real Red Cross) are brothers Jeff (vocals) and Steve McDonald (bass/vocals) with an ever-revolving army of bandmates. Hailing from Hawthorne - the same suburb of Los Angeles that also spawned the Beach Boys - they've yet to acquire anything more than cult status, a situation unlikely to change given the rather pedestrian music they've been peddling since they abandoned punk in the late 80's.

Throughout the 80s. however, they were standouts on the punk, hardore and, finally, alternative/college/radio scenes, eschewing the po-faced stance of the other punk bands at the time in favour of a glam-pop-thrash aesthetic that avoided seriousness and dourness on every level. They began looking like every other band on the scene, with short hair, but by the end of the 80's they looked like the New York Dolls, albeit prettier.

PSEUDO-INTELLECTUAL

I'm so sick of pseudo intellectual shit
I'm so sick of pseudo intellectual shit
I'm tired of people talkin' 'bout
Things they don't know about
Words they don't understand
Oh yeahRedd Kross - Born Innocent Insert

They evolved out of a band called The Tourists in which Jeff, then 15, sang while Steve, 11, played bass, John Stielow drummed and Greg Hetson played guitar. The Tourists made their live debut in 1978 supporting Black Flag. In early 1979, 12-year-old Stielow was ousted in favour of novice drummer Ron Reyes, who hang around with The Tourists at The Church, the Hermosa Bay residence of Black Flag.

In August 1979 The Tourists became Red Cross (inspired apparently by the crucifix masturbation scene in The Exorcist) and a month later recorded the hilarious Red Cross 12" single, which was released on Posh Boy. It is a prime piece of L.A. punk, played fast, sloppy and obnoxious.

For the next four years they underwent a serious a major lineup changes, with the McDonalds always at the centre of things.

As Jeff and Steve told the L.A. Record:

JEFF: "[By 1981] The original Redd Kross had broken up obviously because Ron Reyes was in Black Flag and Greg Hetson was in the Circle Jerks and around the time that they were doing that film we were only toying with playing. Actually, I saw a photo of us playing at the Fleetwood, which is where a lot of that stuff was performed, and we were like a five-piece with Dez Cadena on guitar and this other guy Chet from Wasted Youth and I think we’d only done a couple of gigs. We were not serious, so we weren’t in the running.
STEVE: We’d also been sort of traumatized by our experience. In our world, things happened pretty quickly and there were a lot of hurt feelings around the first two years or sixteen months of our band. We were pressured by Black Flag to kick John Stielow out of our band, the 13-year-old drummer from Hawthorne, California.
JEFF: Who returned for Born Innocent.

KILL SOMEONE YOU HATE

Smashing windows with a baseball bat
For a feeling that is great
Go and kill someone you hate

Kill someone that you hate
For a feeling that is great
Do it now, don't hesitate
Go and kill someone you hate

Born Innocent features a new drummer and rhythm guitarist Tracy Lea, and akes its cues from punk, hardcore, bubblegum pop and glam rock and streaks ahead in a glorious fashion, mixing wonderful originals like ‘Kill Someone You Hate’ and ‘St Lita Ford Blues’ with two highly indicative covers: Charles Manson’s ‘Cease To Exist’ and, from Russ Meyer’s terrible Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls movie, the Carrie Nations’ ‘Look On Up At The Bottom’. Jeff’s el-snotto vocals and the wild, sloppy guitar playing are constant joys. Frontier’s 1986 reissue of this wonderful record adds ‘Linda Blair’ and ‘White Trash’, while the same label’s CD issue supplements that pair with ‘Notes And Chords Mean Nothing To Me’, from the excellent American Youth Report compilation.

NOTES AND CHORDS MEAN NOTHING TO ME

I wanna break my guitar
It won't get me nowhere
It's gonna scream at my fingers
I wanna rip out my hair
I wanna throw it on the ground
And turn it up real loud
Kick it with my foot
And throw it in the crowd

It don't matter anyway
If my hands are in the right place
Notes and chords mean nothing to me
Just listen and you will see
It don't matter anyway
If my hands are in the right place
Notes and chords mean nothing to me
Just listen and you will see

Stand on the stage and you feel like an ass
You're just too cool, and this won't pass
I won't be sad if you I play it real bad
This ain't the most fun I ever had

It don't matter anyway
If my hands are in the right place
because notes and chords
they don't mean shit to me
Just listen and you will see

Having been threatened by a lawsuit from the real Red Cross, the band became Redd Kross sometime in 1982. At this time they made a concerted move to distance themselves from hardcore, partially by allowing their hair to grow long, and partially by adding more hard rock to their trashy brew.

Their return to the studio in 1984 was another conceptual and musical triumph, which displayed all their influences and inspirations on their sleeves. Teen Babes From Monsanto is a mini-album containing seven cover versions, designed in tribute to Bowie’s Pin-Ups, with songs by The Stooges (‘Ann’), Bowie (‘Saviour Machine’), Rolling Stones (Citadel’), the Shangri-Las ('Heaven Only Knows'), Kiss (‘Deuce’) sitting alongside the sole original, which is in reality another cover, being a re-recording of their own ‘Linda Blair’. (The EP has never been reissued on CD in its own right, but was added to the Australian only Trance CD single in the early 1990s.)

The same year, they appeared in and composed the music for the no-budget film Desperate Teenage Lovedolls, which included their cover of the Brady Bunch's '(It's A) Sunshine Day'.

Come 1987, the band comprised the two McDonalds, a third McDonald called Roy (no relation) on drums, and guitarist/vocalist Robert Hecker, who had joined in 1984. Neurotica (1987) was another fine LP, that mixed bubblegum pop, glam and punk with a new style of rock music that later found a name for itself when it was appropriated by the likes of Nirvana: grunge. The LP was well received, but any plans to capitalise on its minor success were scuppered when Big Time Records went bust and the band became embroiled in lengthy legal battles which meant they couldn't release as Red Kross for several years.

NEUROTICARedd Kross - Born Innocent Insert

It's coming up now, baby
'cause you brought it to us
Feeling oh so crazy
I just don't know why ... just because
Neurotica's coming down fast
Take me to your couch babe
Recite some Sigmund Freud
Let me clean your house babe
Don't bother to avoid

Celebration
Masturbation
Participation
Penetration!

Long haired friends of Jesus
In a chartreuse microbus
Come on lose your mind
Now you're one of us ...

Neurotica's coming down fast
Yes I'll deal with your goat's brain
Yes my dear you are insane
"Get that salami sandwich out of here!"
(It's just a concept)
Ain't normal love
Not a spot o'
I gotta lotta
Neurotica!
Neurotica (neurotica)
Neurotica (neurotica)
Neurotica (neurotica)
Neurotica (neurotica) ...

JANUS JEANNIE AND GEORGE HARRISONRedd Kross - Born Innocent Insert

Frankincense and myrrh
Are the odours that are her
Mystical being with eyes of coal
That sacred substance
Will bruise your soul
On a boat with Janus, Jeanie, and George Harrison
When Jesus Christ Superstar was crucified
The Beatles were still making noise

A wind blowing kiss
Is what you'll catch
With a dress of night
and a cape to match
Whistling in your state high above

Tabasco is hot; some call it love!

Eating cake with Janus, Jeanie, and George Harrison
When Jesus Christ Superstar was crucified
The Disposals were still making noise

Janus, Jeanie, and George Harrison!
Janus, Jeanie, and George Harrison!
Janus, Jeanie, and George Harrison!
Janus, Jeanie, and George Harrison!

On a boat with Janus, Jeanie, and George Harrison!
When Jesus Christ Superstar was crucified
The Beatles were still making noise
Eating cake with Janus, Jeanie, and George Harrison!
When Jesus Christ Superstar was crucified
The Disposals were still making noise!

Therefore, During the extended delay between 'Neurotica' and the next album, the McDonalds indulged in a handful of side projects: The Tater Totz (with members of Three O’Clock, Ruthensmear, Runaways, Frightwig, Shonen Knife and others) and !Anarchy 6!. The former released a satiric collection of cover versions that ripped the piss out of Yoko Ono, The Beatles, Queen and others. !Anarchy! 6 lasted a little longer, releasing an LP and a live cassette which made fun of the earnest US thrash/hardcore scene, with well-aimed digs such as 'Skate & Destroy', 'Slam, Spit, Cut Your Hair, Kill Your Mom!' and 'Third World Vacation'.

Redd Kross

The band came up with another cracking LP in 1990 when they signed a major label deal with Atlantic. 'Third Eye', however, was a move into much more mainstream waters, alternating between clean-sounding pop/rock ('Bubblegum Factory', 'Annie's Gone', '1976') and 70s hard rock. While it lacked the inspired lunacy of 'Neurotica', it was entertaining nonetheless. Since then they have continued to perform and release records, but there's not been much I've heard that would make me investigate them more thoroughly.

In 2006, Jeff and Steven reunited with guitarist Robert Hecker and drummer Roy McDonald (i.e. the “classic Neurotica” line up).

Redd Kross

Band Members

PERMANENT MEMBERS

   
Jeff McDonald 1978 - Present Guitar, vocals
Steven Shane McDonald 1978 - Present Bass, vocals
     

OTHER MEMBERS

   
     

LEAD GUITARISTS:

   
Greg Hetson 1978-1979 Left to form Circle Jerks, later played in Bad Religion. Played on the Red Cross 12" EP
Dez Cadena   Also a member of Black Flag
Chet Lehrer   Pre-Wasted Youth
Tracy Lea    
Robert Hecker 1984-1991 Joined just after the band recorded Teen Babes From Monsanto. Formed It's OK!in 1992. According to Wikipedia: "In addition to his career in music, he teaches science, physical education, health, and music, and coaches track & field (the Daily Breeze called him the 'hurdles guru coach') in the South Bay area of Los Angeles". (He came back for a second stint in 2006.)
     

DRUMMERS:

   
John Stielow 1978-1979  
Ron Reyes 1979 Left to join Black Flag in late 1979
John Stielow   Back for a second stint
Janet Housden aka Jan Brady (??)   Played on a few compilation LP tracks
     
Dave Peterson 1984-1985  
Roy McDonald 1985-1988 Ex-The Thing, pre-The Muffs. (He came back for a second stint in 2006.)
Roy McDonald 2006- Back for a second stint
     

DISCOGRAPHY

Singles / Albums

Redd Kross - Red Cross Redd Kross - Born Innocent Redd Kross - Teen Babes From Monsanto    
Red Cross
(12", as Red Cross, 1980)
Born Innocent
(LP, as Red Cross, 1982)
Teen Babes From Monsanto (LP, 1984)    

Extraneous Releases

Redd Kross - Annette's Got The Hits Redd Kross - Cover Band      
Annette's Got The Hits (12", 1987) Cover Band
(7", 1990)
     

Promos

Redd Kross - Ballad Of The Love Dolls        
Redd Kross / White Flag (7", split, 1984)        

Bootlegs

Redd Kross - Born Innocent Demo Tapes Redd Kross - 1979-1982      
Red Cross/White Trash! (7", as Red Cross, 1990) 1979-1982
(7", as Red Cross, 1990)
     

Various Artists

The Siren US LP 1980 (Posh Boy): Cover Band / I Hate My School / Standing In Front Of Poseur / Annette's Got The Hits / Clorox Girls / S&M Party

Public Service US LP 1981 (Smoke Seven): Cease To Exist / Everyday There's Someone New / Kill Someone You Hate

Hell Comes To Your House US LP 1981 (Bemisbrain): Puss 'N' Boots

Rodney On The Roq: Volume 2 US LP 1981 (Posh Boy): Burn Out

Life Is Ugly So Why Not Kill Yourself US LP 1982 (New Underground): Rich Brat

Sudden Death US LP 1982 (Smoke Seven): Tatum O`Tut And The Fried Vegetables / St. Lita Ford Blues

American Youth Report US LP 1982 (Invasion): Notes & Chords Means Nothing To Me

Buried Alive: The Best From Smoke 7 Records 1981-1983 US LP 1983 (Smoke Seven): Notes & Chords / Cease To Exist / Linda Blair / Tatum O'Tot And The Fried Vegetables

Posh Hits Vol. 1 US LP 1983 (Posh Boy): Annete's Got The Hits / Cover Band

Life Is Boring So Why Not Steal This Record US LP 1983 (New Underground): Out Of Focus

We Got Power: Party Or Go Home US LP 1984 (Mystic): Pseudo Intelectual

Desperate Teenage Lovedolls US LP 1984 (Gasatanka): Ballad Of A Lovedoll / Legend / Charly / Self Respect / Ballad Of A Love Doll-Instrumental

The Enigma Variations US 2xLP 1985 (Enigma): Citadel

Lovedolls Superstar US LP 1986 (SST): Lovedoll Superstar / Beer And Ludes / Rex Smith (I Wanna Be a Cholo Chick) / Now That I've Tasted Blood / Sunshine Day / The Love Machine

The Future Looks Brighter US CD 1987 (Posh Boy): Cover Band / Anette's Got The Hits /I Hate My School / Clorox Girls / S&M Party / Standing In Front Of Poseur

The Best Of Rodney On The ROQ US CD 1989 (Posh Boy): Annette's Got The Hits

The Best Of Flipside Vinyl Fanzines US 2xCD 1992 (Flipside): Annette's Got The Hits

The Posh Boy Story (More Or Less) UK CD 1993 (Damaged Goods): I Hate My School / Standing In Front Of Poseur

The Bob Magazine US 7" Flexi 1994 (The Bob Magazine/Eva-Tone): I'll Meet You Halfway

Buried Alive: The Best From Smoke 7 Records 1981-1983 US CD 1995 (Bomp!): Cease To Exist / Tatum O'Tot & The Fried Vegetables / Notes & Chords Mean Nothing To Me / St. Lita Ford Blues

Sudden Death US CD 2004 (Puke N Vomit): Tatum 'O Tot & The Fried Vegetables / St Lita Ford Blues

Links

THE OFFCIAL RED KROSS WEBSITE

WIKIPEDIA

DISCOGS

ALL MUSIC

FACEBOOK

MERGE RECORDS

VICTIM OF TIME - Interview

 

You can add stuff and make comments/corrections by emailing me at:

jane@punkygibbon.co.uk

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