Lists

Most Influential Arizona Punk Records -- #4, JFA, Valley of the Yakes

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Within a short period of time, JFA had built a destructive reputation and was banned from numerous local venues.

"For a while, we were getting booted for life from every place we played because no one knew what slam dancing was," Brannon says. "And at the time, punk rockers were targets of pretty much everyone else from hippies to shit kickers to jocks to cops to little old ladies on the way to the supermarket. Add being a punk rocker to skateboarding in empty swimming pools and the cards were pretty much stacked up against us."

One person who took notice, though, in a positive light was Tony Victor, local promoter and partner in Placebo Records, which would become JFA's first label.

"I started managing JFA after seeing them at a dance in 1981," Victor says. "I think Don saw some value in a business relationship between us and invited me to see the Deez practice at the Hate House and then to a JFA show some time later. I was impressed with the dedicated, small following they had."

Says Cornelius: "Tony Victor [Beram] and Greg Hines got shit done. If it wasn't for Tony, JFA may have never gotten farther than playing house parties. He booked most of the Phoenix punk shows, ran Mad Gardens, got the records out, and booked our tours. Tony and Greg have strong personalities and could rub people the wrong way sometimes, but they treated bands well."

With the support of Placebo and Victor as its manager, JFA made a name for itself on the local and national punk rock stage. Since all the members were active in skateboarding, they had a built-in crowd in almost any city, as word spread through the tight-knit skating community.

JFA was (and still is) a hard-working band that prided itself on putting on a great show for its audience. The band's attitude and tenacity led to playing a ton of shows over its first few years of existence and led to the band's extreme tightness. It was fully prepared upon entering Desert Sound to record its first full-length.

The recording itself for Valley of the Yakes, depending on which version of the story you hear, took anywhere from three hours (Sversvold's recollection) to about four days (Redondo's recollection).

"I have to go with what Don said because it was all a blur to me," Brannon says.

Sversvold remembers the engineer and Desert Sound as having a great room to record in. "Sandy Lamont was so great to work with. He had just started his studio back then. That guy was cool. He was really quiet, real mellow dude, and had all these guitars in storage. He had a polished-concrete boxed room with a giant steel plate in the middle of the room. It was huge, over an inch-thick steel plate hanging in the room, which made a great natural reverb."

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Tom Reardon has written for Phoenix New Times since 2013. He's been in several notable bands over the last 25 years including Hillbilly Devilspeak, North Side Kings, and the Father Figures.
Contact: Tom Reardon