By Nicki Escudero
By Amy Silverman
By Brian Palmer
By Chris Parker
By Troy Farah
By Lauren Wise
By Lauren Wise
Ex-Phunk Junkeez rapper Kirk Reznik says he has a nagging pain in his back from the knife his longtime partner and co-MC Joe Valiente stuck there in late August, when Valiente conspired with the crew's deejay and stage band to kick Reznik out of the group the two of them founded more than ten years ago.
"They handled it real shitty," Reznik said in a recent interview. "We'd been experiencing some differences of opinion on what
direction the Junkeez should take for about the last nine months, then suddenly no one in the band would return my phone calls and I couldn't find out when practice was. I had to find out I'd been kicked out through management. Joe and them wouldn't even set up a meeting so we could talk. They just backdoored me the whole way.
"It was me and Joe from the beginning. We brought the band in later, and for Joe to do that to me is just fucked up."
Reznik (a.k.a. "K-Tel Disco") and Valiente ("Soulman") paid a fortune in dues together starting in 1985, when they started performing to prerecorded beats under the apt name "White Boy Rap." That project turned into BumRap in 1987, followed by the Phunk Junkeez in 1990. The two rappers added a band in 1991, along with Roach Clip, a local hip-hop deejay of some renown. The Junkeez were a massively popular act in the Valley throughout the early '90s, playing huge, illegal warehouse keggers and routinely packing more than 1,000 kids into hellaciously raucous club shows.
The PJ's honky rap/skater punk stylings have failed to translate as well before a national audience, however. Sales for the band's 1995 major-label debut, Injected, were meager, and sources at Trauma/Interscope say the label recently rejected 28 of 30 songs the band turned in for its follow-up. The label also reportedly issued the Junkeez an ultimatum: Write 28 acceptable songs by November 1, or bye-bye recording contract. Reznik confirms those terms were laid down shortly before he got the boot. "Yeah, now I don't have to meet that fuckin' deadline," he says. "I'm outta that."
Valiente could not be reached for comment.
Reznik says he thinks he was fired from the band because he kept pushing for it to get "more edgy, harder" in its songwriting for the next album. "I wanted to go more hard-core, and they wanted to funk it up more. It seems like Joe and them wanted to mellow in their old age and get more radio-friendly. I thought it was cheesy and I said so. Repeatedly. I guess they got fed up."
DJ Roach Clip says that's about right. "There were some personal issues I'm not going to go into, but, yeah, the term 'artistic differences' would apply. He wanted things to be more punk agro. Now we're down to the core unit, this is what we all feel good with."
Legal ownership of the Phunk Junkeez name and logo is split down the middle, with half each to Reznik and Valiente. Reznik says he has already retained a lawyer and plans to press for a lump settlement. "I don't want to keep them from performing," he says. "They already have enough problems. I just want what's coming to me. I'm ready to move on."
Enter Reznik's new project, "the Girls," a band he recently formed with ex-Rooster and the Hot Rods singer/guitarist Rusty Workman. Reznik characterizes the Girls' sound as "a cross between Public Enemy, AC/DC and old punk, like the Descendants."
The Junkeez, meanwhile, performed a fraternity rush-week show at the USC campus in L.A. the last weekend in August, with Roach Clip taking over Reznik's share of the raps. The deejay says he moved his turntables to the front of the stage, where Reznik used to keep a two-drum kit. "I just stepped out for my parts," he says. "I've been rappin' since before I was deejaying. I've got the skills. It's not a problem for me. I'll be pullin' double duties from here on out."
Scheduled to perform at the Edge Fest at Compton Terrace on Saturday, September 28, the Phunk Junkeez have made no public announcement of Reznik's forced departure. Roach Clip says the band is hard at work on material for the new album, and will go out on tour with the punk band 311 in late September as planned.
Reznik, for one, says he plans to be up front in the crowd at the Edge Fest, the first Junkeez hometown show since he was fired. "I'm lookin' forward to that shit," he says.
Piersons guitarist Michael Johnny Walker has left the group over artistic differences (motif, anyone?). Dead Hot Workshop guitarist Brent Babb is stepping in to get the Tempe band through its upcoming CMJ Convention showcase spot in New York City (Saturday, September 7). Rumors that Babb has left Dead Hot Workshop to join the Piersons full-time are unfounded (and more than a little stupid).
And finally, just so we all have it straight--The Works was planning to move to a new downtown location before the triple homicide in the Scottsdale techno club's parking lot last month. No word yet on when operations will move to the new spot--a two-story former auto showroom on the west side of Central just north of Van Buren--but someone threw a rave there the night of August 24 that was tres magnifique.
David Holthouse is now wired.
The Web site is Mothership. The address is http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/extra/holt/index.html. The options are myriad (multigenre criticism, archives, rave data, freak links).