Origin: Montréal, Québec
This story goes back to Before Genetic Control was formed. There were two bands that actually came together to form Genetic Control.
It was summer 1983 and I was at a party somewhere in the east end of Montreal from what I recall. I am pretty sure that I went with the usual crowd. The gang that I hung out with was Cory, who latter became the singer with Unruled, Robert and Mark Dimbinski who latter became the guitar player in Fair Warning, Stewart Paterson who latter played in My Dog Popper, Caveman, and our girlfriends. I guess the party was actually a gig as it turns out, except the gig was in someone’s house. I guess the parents were out of town or something like that. Cool, talk about a house wrecker!
The bands played in the basement and I don’t recall how many bands even played. Nor can I recall who the other bands were, but they were all bands that were just starting out. One of the bands that were playing was an instrumental 3 piece consisting of Rob Huppe on Guitar, Doug Crevier on Bass and Alex Soria on drums. They didn’t have a name or anything and I think that it was there first time playing live. Alex was the singer in the Nils who were also just starting out at the time. As it turns out Alex was not their drummer, but rather he was just drumming with them as they did not have a drummer. Alex was working on getting the Nils happening at the time. Thanks to Alex (RIP) for helping Rob and Doug out, otherwise I never would have met them.
That night at the party I went up to Rob & Doug and told them that I wanted to start a band. The next thing you know we are rehearsing and writing songs.
The band at that time consisted of Rob, Doug, myself and our Drummer Jean who was from Switzerland or something like that. I can’t remember if he joined our band after playing with unruled or if he left us to join unruled? For some reason we shared a few drummers with the unruled?
When we moved to a new rehearsal space we pretty much changed drummers. Our next Drummer was Mark Doucette. He was a really good drummer from Halifax, I think. Mark played with us for few months. We continued to write songs, playing lot’s of covers like Bad Religion, Minor Threat etc… I think we had decided to call ourselves “Out Of Step” after the Minor Threat LP. We never played a gig with Mark either. I think that Mark had to move back to Halifax at Christmas time 1983?
When Mark left we started looking for new drummer when someone mentioned to us that there was a drummer Mike Brisbois and a guitar player Rob Porter who were looking for a singer and a bass player. They were called “Drunken Disturbance” or something like that? Apparently they used to play in a band called “Terry Fox’s Right Leg”? but I never saw them. Rebecca who also played in TFRL went on to form No Policy with Mike Brisbios and ex Scum Singer Ron Johnston.
We hooked up with Rob & Mike and immediately started jamming just before Christmas 1983. We basically took the songs that Rob & Mike had and the songs that we had and put a set together. We used to jam GBH songs and we did a fun cover of the Gilligan’s Island theme song. We used to rehearse a lot, 4 or 5 times a week I think, so it didn’t take long for us to get really tight. We wanted to play really fast music, faster than anyone else. I’m sure at times it seemed like a blur when we played.
Now that we were ready to play, we needed was a name. We took the idea of Genetic Control from a novel. Genetic Control were gene designers that were in charge of designing people in testubes in the future as described in Brave New World by Aldus Huxley. I thought that would be a great name for a band.
The first gig Genetic Control played was at Club Cargo on St. Dennis Street in February 1984. Fair Warning played that show with us. I can’t remember if Rob and Doug were old enough to get in the bar at the time or not, either way that did not stop us from playing. It was from this show that we developed the idea to dress in odd outfits for most of our shows. Rob Porter had this awesome really tall Mohawk. That made us look really punk!
Rob and Mike used to work at a warehouse and they used to smuggle t-shirts out of work by taping them to their legs and hiding them inside their clothes. I used to take the blank shirts they would bring to rehearsal and silk screen them. We used to use pictures of porn stars on our shirts and stuff like that. There was no real reason for the naked chicks, although some people thought we were sexist, we just wanted to shock people like most punk bands. First you get peoples attention by shocking them, then you turn them on to your music was the general idea.
The place that we rehearsed, the BBC was an old building that I used to rent from some Slumlord, and I had a bunch of friends living there. A lot of the people who lived there had bands and the bands would rehearse there as well. There must have been 4 or 5 rooms that bands rehearsed in. Some bands shared the same space with other bands and it seemed like there were 10 bands rehearsing there sometimes. Some of the other bands that I remember we Unruled, Fair Warning, No Policy etc… The great thing was that all of the bands got along great and really supported each other. Some nights the bands would put on little shows in the rehearsal space and this one particular night we had a bunch of people there slam dancing. I was slamming around in the circle and a large Dude fell on me and broke my leg. This put a halt to our live shows for quite a while, almost a year from what I remember. It was during this beak pardon the pun that proved to have greater impact on the band than any!
of us ever imagined.
Unfortunately The volatile mixer of personalities we had was destined to implode, and implode it did a few short months after we started playing together. Rob & Mike used to beat the crap out of each other all the time. They would show up at rehearsal with black eyes and bruises. Unfortunately We had to make a choice and since Rob was a song writer, we decided that he should stay. I know that we wish Mike could have stayed in the band, but we had to make a change to continue. No actual recordings were made during this time period except for a few ghetto blaster rehearsal cassettes that I have kicking around somewhere.
I am not positive how many shows we played with Mike, but it was somewhere in the neighborhood of 6 I think.
Now we needed a new drummer. As it turns out one of the bands that rehearsed right next door to us was the unruled. They were a really great band that sounded a lot like Discharge and GBH. They were really tight and very heavy. One of the best things about the band I thought was their drummer Louis. Louis was about 16 or 17 and he played with a Genesis cover band before joining unruled. I could safely say that he was by far the best drummer in any of the punk bands in town. We got to know each other during that time and had quite a bit in common musically and we used to smoke a lot of dope and talk about music. The story I heard was that Cory the singer threw a beer bottle at Louis, so Louis quit. The next day he joined Genetic Control.
Louis was a great drummer and the transition was seamless. Once Louis joined it took the band to a whole new level musically. We used to jam all kinds of songs. I think we used to play the entire album Killer by Alice Cooper when we used to rehearse. We rehearsed 4 or 5 times a week and continued to write songs while my leg was on the mend, in anticipation of our first show with this new line up.
During this time we were asked to record a song for the Primitive Air Raid compilation. So we went into the studio and recorded Suburban Life. In those days you did not overdub. It was a one shot deal. You walk in, play the song and leave. If I am not mistaken we recorded that song in one take. The next time we heard it, it was on the album. No master tapes were made and there is no other version of that song or any other songs from that session.
Now that we had a taste of the studio we decided that it was time to record a 45. We figured that you were not a real band unless you had a 45. Unruled and the Discords were the only bands at the time that had a 7 inch out from what I can remember? I can’t remember how much it cost to record the 45, but it was not very much, that is for sure.
Since we did not have any money we needed someone to finance our recording. Mike Mirolla a music critic from the Montreal Gazette agreed to pay for and release 500 copies. The songs we recorded were. Dirty Rockers, First Impressions, Brave New World, 1984, Love Rat and Urban Cowboy. At the time we were not experienced in the studio and our producer Maurice had never heard our style of music before, the recoding did not turn out as good as we would have liked, but at the time just hearing yourself recorded was quite a thrill.
The production was very strange. There was a lot of flange on the guitar and chorus on the voice. Instead of making it sound heavy it ended up sounding soft, but I think that was the way Maurice liked it. I think that he was probably trying to make us sound good, as opposed to trying to capturing our actual sound and enhance it.
Of the 500 hundred or so copies that we got pressed, most of them were sold at Dutchy’s in Montreal. We also sold some through Maximum Rock and Roll via mail order. Some were ordered from places like Europe, Finland and the states etc… The guys from DOA and Chi Pig in Edmonton from SNFU sold some ep’s for us on consignment as well from what I remember. I am not sure if we sold any in Toronto, other than the ones we may have sold at our live shows?
I was on crutches for all of the recordings we made during that time, and we looked forward to playing our first live show with our new drummer Lewis. The first show that we played was a rape benefit concert in old Montreal. I can’t remember the circumstances but for some reason we decided to play the show under a different name. Fresh Fish And The Volkswagens. I think it was Dougo's idea? Probably because it was such a low profile gig. I don’t think that there was a stage there or anything. Not even a PA. I think that I just plugged a microphone into a guitar amp.
At that show we played a lot of covers I recall. We played Bad Brains, Minor Threat and I’m Eighteen by Alice Cooper. We ended up playing "18" at every live show since. I have a Ghetto Blaster recording of that show kicking around somewhere. In those days we would put a ghetto blaster in the washroom or some other room down the hall to record.
My leg was all healed except for the fact that I had to wear a leg Brace at all the shows. This is where the name Polio Elvis came from.
Since we were releasing our ep we decided that we should do what a lot of the other punk bands did and come up with cool names. I picked Polio Elvis since I had the leg brace. Rob Huppe took the name Duke Crystal from a company that made champagne glasses or something like that. Rob Porter cam up with Teen Hunk Rob as well as Dick Pageant for Dougo. Lewis just remained Lewis.
Some fun shows that we played that come to mind are:
Ottawa @ Sandy Hill Community Centre I can't remember who we played with, Montreal @ La Bohemme With Suicidal Tendencies, Toronto @ Larry’s Hideaway with Dead End I think Jill Heath booked that show?, Montreal @ The Palladium With Dead Kennedy’s, Montreal @ the Rising Sun With GBH – May 1985 that was our last show.
It was this version of Gen Con, that we evolved in to writing songs as a band as opposed to combining songs that we had written individually.
At that point we decided that it was time to record a full length album. Unfortunately we disbanded before we ever released our first LP. We did however decide that we would go into the studio and record some songs live in one take just like a live show without stopping. This was actually a live show in the studio. There was an audience and everyone was drinking etc… Several other bands at the time used this format. I think Fair Warning and Vomit & The Zits did the same thing before we did. That is where we got the idea to do it.
There have been rumors that this recording was the unreleased LP, but in fact it was just a rough recording. If we had recorded an actual LP, it would have been done properly and the sound quality would have been much better. That live recording that we did cost so little to record that we decided to do it, as it was too cheap to say no to.
The only recorded format that survived from that session was a cassette. There were no master tapes. There were two versions of that tape made however. That first night we took the tape home and we decided that since it was live that it lacked in some areas so we went back the next day and added some guitar and vocal parts. On one version of the tapes you can hear guitar solos jump out really load. That second mix also has back up vocals on it. I know that CD’s have been burned of both versions. Also note that there are several bootlegs floating around and the only authorized release we had was the 7 inch single on vinyl. All cd's are bootlegs and not authorized. We never received any money from any of those CD sales.
We plan on releasing an authorized anthology this year that will have over 30 songs on it, some live, some studio, some rare tracks etc..
It is a real drag that the band broke up, and I know to this day that we all regret giving up so easly, but when you are young and foolish you do crazy things. It may sound bizarre now, but at the time but it seemed like the thing to do.
I went on to start playing with Eddy & Gerry from NDG and we had written several songs. Not long after that I left to go on tour with Metal Church and never returned home to Montreal. Eddy & Jerry recruited Jeff St. Louis from Vomit & The Zits on drums and they became DBC. Gerry died of aids a few years latter. Lewis was supposed to be the drummer in that project, but once I moved away the whole thing fell apart.
In 1998 we played a show at the Foufounnes Electrique in Montreal for their 15 year anniversary. We played with Fair Warning and it was a great show. The show was video taped and shall be released. A year latter we played with the Misfits at The Medley in Montreal and there is a video of that show as well. For that show we wrote a new song. Those are the only two shows that we have played since 1985. I still talk to most of the guys and I hope that we can get together to play a 20 year reunion show this summer.