"We were lunatics," remembers Cutler. "The dynamic was get high -- except Mikey, who was sober -- and play music. I suppose the closest thing we had to a leader was David Wiley, who was the lead singer. Unfortunately, David slipped this mortal coil quite a few years ago."
Wiley, who died in 1986, played a pivotal role in determining the direction of the Consumers' sound after bringing a copy of the Sex Pistols single "Anarchy in the UK" back from Los Angeles (where the Consumers eventually would move) in early 1977.
"David, Greg, and I came from the avant garde, not from Iggy and Bowie, like a lot of punk rockers," added Cutler, who went on to play in 45 Grave and Dream Syndicate. "We had a musical ensemble called Modern Tribal Music that played phonographs, toy instruments, and various kitchen utensils. We had been interested in new music for quite some time when we started playing punk. It was just another iteration of newness." It goes without saying that punk rock, in 1977, was about as new as you could get if you were starting a band, even if the Valley was not exactly welcoming.
Both Borens and Cutler are blunt in their assessment of the 1977 version of Phoenix and how accepting the average music fan and club were to the Consumers.
"Phoenix hated us for the most part," Borens says. "I can remember how much fun it was, but I also remember how stupid it was and how violent. It's hard to live that every day. Punk wasn't the smiley-faced Green Day thing back then. It was a thing that got you into fights, that made the neighbors hate you."
Cutler's take is, pardon the pun, equally cutting.
"It was crap. There were no original smaller clubs, nothing much smaller than the Celebrity Theatre. I do remember seeing Robin Trower, Zephyr, and a few other acts at smaller venues, but by and large, if you weren't a cover band, there was nowhere to play. Because of this, when we started playing, we had to play multiple sets. We had enough material for two complete sets and we would repeat some songs in order to play the third one."