Origin: Toronto, Ontario
LIVING PROOF formed out of the ashes of the Hoo Doo's and began as garage pop punkedilia and eventually evolved into a much heavier rock band. We started playing in Toronto clubs like The Upper Lip, The Turning Point, Frankenstiens, Larry's Hideaway, but the infamous Quoc Te was the place to be. Between LIVING PROOF and MADHOUSE, we managed to create quite a cool little scene playing at that little club in the market. One of the benefits of the Quoc Te was there were a lot of people that were scared to go down there, right away that weeded out a lot of the posers, you had to really want to go there. William and Tan were two Vietnamese guys that owned the place and they always treated us like kings, but they were involved in things that I didn't even want to know about. Add the fact that they let us do whatever we wanted there, smoking dope right on stage while we were playing, smoking dope and doing drugs at the tables, in the washrooms, whatever. That is a perfect atmosphere for real no holds barred rock 'n roll. Some of the most mind blowing shows I've ever played or witnessed happened there. And for about six months it was the centre of the Universe.
Sometime during this period LIVING PROOF managed to release our first 45 entitled The Band is LIVING PROOF. And within the first year we managed to build up a small following in Toronto, London, and Hamilton. Things are cooking along just fine as we are playing many gigs with our friends the RAVING MOJOS (one of the best bands ever,bar none), Mick Slick, Direct Action, Madhouse. etc.
At this point I book the band on a Canadian tour which at that time was about five shows between Ontario and Alberta. You gotta remember this was a time that there was no tour circuit like there is today. You really had to get on the phone for about three months and make hundreds of calls to set up a handful of gigs that might not even happen by the time you've driven three day's to get there. If you got some gas money and a meal that was total success. I personally watched as D.O.A. completely forged the tour circuit across Canada and the World that did not exist before them.
The hundreds of bands that tour today through the same circuit have no idea what it was like back then or how bands like D.O.A. struggled for little or no thanks to create the independent scene that exists today. A little respect where it's due.
Anyway back to the LIVING PROOF tour. Our first stop is Winnipeg at a club called Wellingtons. Dave Mcegian booked us in for three nites so we get a good chance to hang and get to know people. The shows were great and we got paid good money, which we had to use to get our van fixed. The Scottish punk band 'The Exploited' is booked to play the night after us. They get into town a day early, and so here I am, hanging out with my regulation Brian Jones psychedelic haircut, wearing my late sixties fashionable velvet pants with some oxblood Doc Martins on my feet. I am waiting to get on the elevator in the hotel lobby when the door opens and in the elevator are the Exploited, led by their ever-lovable singer Wattie! At the time, 'The Explioted' are one of the most infamous bands on the planet, the hardest of the hard. Two foot spiked mohawks and a long way from home. These guys aren't a bunch of college kids who like to play dressup; these guys are the real thing; real punks with no real future other than their band. And as far as they are concerned I might as well be Jerry Garcia for the way I look! I step into the elevator. I figure I'm dead, these guys sure carry a lot of attitude, but I start talking to them and they seem pretty cool. Wattie says "they'll come down and watch my band that nite". The show goes great. Lots of people. We rock hard. After the show, I'm talking to Big John, the guitarist for 'The Exploited' and he invites LIVING PROOF to play at their show the next night, an offer we cannot refuse especially since we have a free night anyways.
We play the show, an easy show because we only have to play a half hour and then we have the rest of the night to enjoy. Much later, we were doing an interview with a local fanzine in our van parked outside the club. 'The Exploited' had finished playing and I was wondering where our singer Bill was. It's time to hit the road and we are all ready to go except for Bill who was nowhere to be found. Eventually lo and behold here comes our man across the parking lot. As he gets closer I can tell he is completely out of his mind on mushrooms. He has no shirt or shoes on and has a almost finished bottle of wine stuck down the front of his pants. He looks like he just got back from a Grateful Dead show, grinning like a weasel in a henhouse. I'm sitting in the drivers seat and as he comes up to me I tell him it's time to go, as we are supposed to play in Regina the next night. He informs us that he'll get there himself and that he wants to get his stuff out of the van. I'm thinking "oh shit, here we go"and after about ten minutes we convince him to get in the van. We managed to drive a couple of blocks before Bill demanded that we stop the van so he can urinate. We wait while he pees on some bank. And when he comes back, he started pulling his stuff out of the van and telling us that he wanted to hitchhike and that he'll meet us in Winnipeg. I inforn him that we are in Winnipeg, in fact only a few blocks from the club that we had just played, just get back in the van. Great, here we are standing out on the street in downtown Winnipeg at 3AM caught up in a screaming match with a lunatic who can't handle his drugs.
To make matters worse, I noticed two big guys (not exactly the type you would bring home for dinner, come to think of it neither were we) heading up the street towards our little scene. When they get to us they stop and just stand there watching. The bigger of the two asks "whats going on?" I tell him how we are just trying to get our friend in the van. He suggests, with a laugh, that we should tie him up. I can appreciate his humor and reply that we have no rope otherwise we would. I stop worrying about these other guys when Bill decides to get a little more dramatic. Bill decides to shove the smaller of the two strangers, the bigger guy pipes up and says "don't push my brother around". At this point, I realize that fighting with your friends is not such a big deal, but when you start fighting with strangers on the street, that's where I draw the line. I step back and realize that I don't care what happens to Bill, our ex- singer, at all. If he wants to fight this guy out here on the street. I'm not gonna stand in the way (in the end I'm amazed that those guys didn't kick the shit out of him right there since they easily could have and he was certainly asking for it, but I guess they figured he wasn't worth the trouble.) They wish us luck with our friend and wobble along the way. After all this commotion, a years worth of it, we are fed up. Bill still doesn't want to get in the van with us and we don't want him in the group anymore. We throw some of his stuff out on the street and two of us shove him to the ground. I personally lay a couple of boots to him. I'm not proud of what we did that night, but we weren't going to get jerked around by this guy anymore. We left him lying on the road with his stuff scattered all over Main street, a lot more pathetic than hurt. We drive a little while then decide to get a hotel room for the night. I've never seen Bill since that night. We drove back to Toronto to get the band going again and in the next three years we went through enough members to fill a baseball team.
Mike McCurdy, Randy Ruso, Eric,Shawn, Hugh, John Grove and a few others I can't remember. I'm sorry. We released a full length album THIS TRIP IS FOR REAL that almost captured the spirit of the original band. Mike (Lopez) Phillips quit just before the album came out. And in retrospect, we should have broken the band up there.
LIVING PROOF appeared on the Compilation album QUESTIONABLE along with Madhouse, the Animal Stags, and Bunchofuckingoofs, all friends of ours. That was pretty much all she wrote. After the group ended I thought I had wasted 3 years of my life trying to make the band work, but some ten years later I was on tour playing a gig in Moncton and some guy came up to me and told me that he had seen the LIVING PROOF 45 in some record store and ended up stealing from the store because he wanted it so bad. It's stories like that that warm my heart, and make me realize that all the work was worthwhile. I bought the guy a beer and made a new friend.....