Most Influential Arizona Punk Rock Records: #1 -- The Consumers, All My Friends Are Dead

Page 5 of 5

The recording itself, from a quality standpoint, is fantastic, considering the years it spent in a box in one of Cutler's closets. The guitar work of Cutler and the late Greg Jones cut straight through the bone in between Wiley's jagged blasts of vocal angst. Borens' nifty bass runs are just as sharp, though, and drive songs like "Anti Anti Anti" and the self-titled "Consumers," which are better than anything 90 percent of the songs bands they inspired put out. Allen's drumming is capable and crash-heavy, but it would have been interesting to have heard what the extremely talented Vivier could have done with these songs in the studio.

"The whole recording took about a day and half. We tracked all of it in one session and came back for a half-day to mix it," Cutler says. "The sessions were done in an eight-track country demo studio in Phoenix. My friend Joey Dears was working there as an engineer and had accumulated some free hours. He decided to record The Consumers."

The Consumers did keep it simple and to the point, for sure, but in the same way a lot of the best aggressive music works, their attitude and proficiency allowed them to take something simple and pure and turn it into a masterpiece. There is anger and angst by the bucket, on All My Friends Are Dead, but there also is craftsmanship and oceans of potential. The mere thought of what their follow-up record might have been like is mesmerizing, although you can get some inkling of what it could have been by listening to early 45 Grave (Cutler), Human Hands (Wiley), and The Romans (Borens).

After heading to Los Angeles in 1978, the band were eager to take their place as the wildest, craziest band of desert rats to take over the burgeoning first wave of West Coast punk rock. Phoenix couldn't handle them, and apparently L.A. was not quite ready, either.

"When we got to L.A., there were about 20 to 30 bands in the scene and none of them sounded alike. There were synthesizer punk bands, rockabilly punk bands, et cetera. A lot more fun before the scene began to change in 1979," says Cutler. "They thought we were nuts and called us 'Cactusheads.' They weren't wrong. We didn't have respect for the punk 'scene' or the scenesters in it."

During their short run in L.A., which was just shy of a year, they developed a reputation for violence. Wiley would pull stunts like pretending to commit suicide on stage, or Cutler and Wiley would fake fights and these pieces of performance art would confound their audience. The Consumers were anything but safe and, eventually, their combustible nature took its toll. Cutler, Jones, and then-drummer Vivier moved back to Phoenix while Borens and Wiley stayed in Los Angeles.

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
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