Longform

Bad Habits

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The whole NunZilla thing started as a joke, and it still is. Of course, not everyone finds it funny. "You wouldn't believe what I had to go through to get this shirt," Jason says, pulling on his priest's frock. "I went to an actual Catholic church supply store, and the guy working there was real quiet and speaking in that hushed Catholic voice, asking me all these questions, like 'What church are you with?' And I told him I wasn't with any church, I just wanted a shirt. And so I got the shirt, and I swear to God, when I went to pay for it, he wouldn't take the money from me. So I set the money down on the counter, and he picked up each bill slowly, and he'd punch a button on the register, and take this really long pause before punching the next button, like he was wrestling with his conscience.

"But you know what's really weird? I went into the convenience store that's in the same building as the church supply place right afterwards, and I was feeling all creepy about the shirt-thing, and there [were] all these display cases with stuff like crack pipes and bongs and cock rings."

Then there was that photo shoot with the Arizona Derby Dames' Schoolyard Scrappers team in late February, when NunZilla showed up to pose with the team at photog Andy Hartmark's suggestion and almost caused a brawl. According to the band, one of the roller girls refused to pose with Jason dressed as a priest, saying she felt it was sacrilegious. The team captain insisted, and a heated argument ensued. "I thought we were gonna see a fight," Kenyatta says.

In the end, everyone calmed down and agreed that posing with NunZilla should be optional. A few of the derby dames opted out.

"I felt kind of bad," Tana says. "We don't think anything of it. We're just having fun, and it kind of came to fruition there that somebody might have a problem with it."

"I didn't feel bad about shit," Ken-yatta says. "I don't know why she was so upset when she was dressed up like a Catholic school girl with her boobs hanging out."

"I told her, 'It's only a shirt,'" Jason says. "I'm drinking a 40 [ounce] the whole time we're taking the fucking pictures."

Tana has another theory for Jason. "It could have been that cucumber wrapped in tin foil that you had in your pants, sweetie."



The members look at it this way: If the Virgin Mary can appear on a tortilla and Jesus can appear in a tree in New Mexico, then why can't four Phoenix punks wear clergy costumes and scream out silly songs about eating souls?


NunZilla's first show, on December 31, 2005, at the Cypress Lounge, should have been an omen.

"I've got a scar on my head from the first show we ever played," Jason says. "I hit myself in the eyeball just about as hard as you could fuckin' hit yourself in the eyeball. The drumstick came back and I closed my eyeball, and it was like, Wham! Just super-hard, like where you hear noise in your head. I thought I'd yoked my eye."



So Jason ran to the bathroom after the song, determined that his eye was okay (even though it was all watery and red and "hazy and out of focus") and got back onstage to finish NunZilla's set. The real carnage was about to begin.

Jason had cracked a cymbal before the show, but he'd talked Nick (a.k.a. "Sludgegutts"), drummer for local band Dephinger, into letting him borrow his brand new, expensive cymbal. During NunZilla's last song, two of Jason's old friends in the crowd took a rolling chair and did a high-speed launch into his drum set, knocking over Sludgegutts' cymbal and cracking it.

Kenyatta recalls the moment it all came crashing down. "[Jason] leapt over his drum set and caught his friend in midair and took him down."

"I freaked the fuck out," Jason says. "I dove head-first at my friend I've known since I was 12, and I had to kick his fucking ass. But I couldn't hit him in the face, so I was jumping up as hard as I could and landing with my ass and elbow on his head. It was pretty violent. So I'm kicking his ass, and there's broken glass everywhere, and I put my hand in this broken bottle. And when we finally stopped, there was blood spurting out of my hand."

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Niki D'Andrea has covered subjects including drug culture, women's basketball, pirate radio stations, Scottsdale staycations, and fine wine. She has worked at both New Times and Phoenix Magazine, and is now a freelancer.
Contact: Niki D'Andrea