Lots of punk bands can do gross, but Canada's DayGlo Abortions have become disgustingly expert at it. They proudly set the standard for filth-for-filth's-sake with a series of gleeful they-gotta-be-kidding songs about fucking or being fucked by mangled corpses, evangelists, the government, hamsters, dogs, Eskimos and/or Satan—and as a result, they actually got their record label prosecuted for distributing obscene materials, a landmark first in Canadian legal history. Now with most of the original members reasonably intact, they'll showcase the best of 21 years of ARGH!-FUCK!-KILL! at two local shows this week, part of their first U.S. tour in years.
Guitarist/lyricist Cretin and drummer Jesus Bonehead (real names: Murray and Brian) started the Abortions with their buddy Spud in 1979, eventually clawing their way out of the wilds of Victoria, British Columbia, and into the pantheon of Canadian punk infamy, alongside such acts as the Neos, DOA and (later) NoMeansNo. Their first album, Out of the Womb, plopped into record-store bins during the first heady days of the Reagan administration, when even Canadians couldn't help but be inspired by the atmosphere of total conformity being ushered in across their border.
But while DOA put together the sharply sarcastic "America the Beautiful" ("I've got my Bible/I've got my handgun"), the DayGlos opted to mine more personal, visceral and accessible ideas, churning out such anthems as "Fuck, My Shit Stinks" and "Fuck Satan to Death." Appropriately, their classic 1985 album Feed Us a Fetus had an even more classic cover painting of Ron and Nancy beaming over a plate of jellybean-festooned fetus under glass.
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Kids, of course, ate it up—it was music calculated to drive authority figures insane. By the time Ronnie had been relegated to a comfy chair somewhere in Bel Air, the DayGlos had amassed a devoted legion of misfit fans, managing to gain entry into the U.S. for a late '80s tour and sell more than 20,000 albums with—obviously—little, if any, radio or TV airplay. When one of those albums, Here Today, Guano Tomorrow, ended up in the hands of a Canadian constable's daughter in 1990, the fun suddenly stopped—and the DayGlos' record label, Fringe, was put on trial. It was the first time the country's 1959 obscenity law had ever been applied in court.
Prosecutors in Ottawa handed out lyric sheets so jurors could read along with such Cretin-penned couplets as, "Our prime minister sucks dogshit through his nose/His ex-wife gets brown showers from Mick Jagger/The only reason we live in fucking igloos/Is our government makes a living licking shitholes." Reporters noted a flurry of snickering among jurors, and after an impassioned debate about free speech in the press and eight hours of deliberation in the courthouse, the DayGlos were legally deemed "not obscene."
They were back the next year with Two Dogs Fucking, an album intended to reach new frontiers of filthery, but they'd passed their peak. The band eventually deteriorated (not unlike a certain former president's ability to . . . what was I going to say?) and formally broke up in 1994. Jesus Bonehead resurrected the band in 1995 with rookies Anus, Gymbo and Hung and eventually lured Spud and Cretin back into the fold. Nine years after they were declared by one columnist to be something like a national-security threat, Canada welcomed them back with open arms—one music mag even named Fetus one of the top Canadian albums of the '80s. They've since been working on new material, released a greatest-hits collection, and left a slimy trail down the West Coast on this most recent tour—not bad for a band that used to sing, "This fucking record won't make no money/ 'Cause it's so fucking stupid/It's not even funny."
THE DAYGLO ABORTIONS PERFORM WITH CHEAPER THAN CRACK, SHYT HOUSE RATZ AND SOUTH 75 AT LINDA'S DOLL HUT, 107 S. ADAMS ST., ANAHEIM, (714) 533-1286. MON., 9 P.M. $6. 21+; AND WITH DR. KNOW AND D-CONTROL AT CLUB MESA, 843 W. 19TH ST., COSTA MESA, (949) 642-6634. THURS., NOV. 2, 9 P.M. CALL FOR COVER. 21+.