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Poison Idea was an Americanmarker hardcore punk band formed in Portland, Oregonmarker in 1980. As their career progressed the band began to incorporate overt influences from hard rock. The band originally dissolved in 1993, but briefly reformed in 1998 and 2007.


Poison Idea was formed in 1980 by vocalist Jerry A. (aka Jerry Lang). The initial lineup consisted of Jerry A., Chris Tense (guitar), Glen Estes (bass), and Dean Johnson (drums). Inspired by Black Flag and other early Southern California hardcore acts, they were further influenced by Discharge and Los Angelesmarker's the Germs. Germs singer Darby Crash's influence on singer Jerry A., vocally, lyrically, and philosophically, was considerable, and Poison Idea followed the Germs’ extremist punk ethic. Tense, who previously had played with Jerry in a group called the Stand, was replaced within a year by Tom "Pig Champion" Roberts (guitar), formerly of the Imperialist Pigs.

Poison Idea’s debut, 1983's Pick Your King EP was a short, lo-fi blast of hardcore fury. The jacket featured a "choice" of two kings, Jesus (front cover) and Elvis Presley (back cover).

In 1984, Chris Tense returned to the band, this time on bass, replacing Glen Estes (later of Portland, Oregon punk/metal band Final Warning), and the group released the Record Collectors Are Pretentious Assholes 12” (the cover features Pig Champion’s substantial vinyl collection). The record found the band incorporating subtle rock elements into their music, which was further honed on their contributions to two 1985 compilations, “Laughing Boy” on the Drinking is Great EP (on which appeared other Oregonmarker punk bands Final Warning, Lockjaw and E-13), and “Typical” and “Die on Your Knees” on the legendary Cleanse the Bacteria LP (compiled by Pushead for his own Pusmort label).

With the release of 1986’s Kings of Punk LP, Poison Idea had fully moved beyond the breakneck hardcore of their early records to a potent, driving and ultimately more intricate and sophisticated hardcore/hard rock fusion that incorporated the accessibility of hard rock without sacrificing the power of hardcore.

Following the release of Kings of Punk, the band went through several rapid lineup changes (mostly in the rhythm section), and then added lead guitarist Eric "Vegetable" Olson, a gifted musician who wrote many PI tunes during his tenure in the band (even contributing a piano vamp on one track). The band then released War All the Time (named for the Charles Bukowski novel) in 1987. War All the Time and the EPs that followed (the Getting the Fear 12" and the Filthkick 7") found them further developing the rock/hardcore sound first established on Kings of Punk, which they would hone in 1990 with Feel the Darkness.

Around this time, after numerous lineup changes, PI had convened one of their more stable lineups in Jerry A., Tom "Pig Champion" Roberts, Charley "Myrtle Tickner" Nims (bass) and Steve "Thee Slayer Hippy" Hanford (drums), with Kid Cocksman and then Aldine Strichnine on second guitar. By this time, their drinking habits and hard living were beginning to catch up with them: the band weighed in at about 1,300 lb. collectively, and Pig Champion in particular was very fat, often having to play sitting down. They also established their own record label in 1989, American Leather (named for the Germs song), and released two records the same year: a reissue of their 1982 demo Darby Crash Rides Again and the Discontent 7”.

In 1990, the band released Feel the Darkness. After the release of Feel the Darkness, Aldine Strychnine was thrown out of the band, and Mondo returned this time on guitar, for the 1991 tour. PI then released Blank Blackout Vacant in 1992, and, before seemingly splitting in 1993, they released We Must Burn.

When Pig Champion left the band in 1993, PI effectively called it quits. Jerry A pursued a solo project called Gift with his wife and Thee Slayer Hippy, and in 1998 the original line-up reunited for a 7" EP on released on Taang! (who reissued their early catalogue), but broke up following an aborted tour.

Jerry A reformed the band in late 1999 with the line up featuring Tom (Pig Champion) Roberts-(Guitar), Matt Brainard-(Guitar), Chris Carey-(Bass), and Chris Cuthbert-(Drums) and toured the east coast including an appearance at CBGB's. They also toured in Europe twice as well as a tour in Japan with Japanese punk legends FORWARD. Pig Champion was fed up with the mental and physical punishment of being on the road so Andy (Joe Spleen) from The Gits went on the road for the tours in Europe. Matt Brainard had conflicting schedules with his other band DEFIANCE and was replaced at that time with Jimmy Taylor on guitar. (Matt re-joined the band following Tom's passing) The band played as a four piece in Japan with Jimmy Taylor as the lone guitarist. Back home in Portland, the new line up (Jerry A, Pig Champion, Jimmy Taylor, Chris Carey and Chris Cuthbert) began working on material which later became "Latest Will and Testament", recorded in 2005 at SMEGMA recording studio in Portland OR.

On January 31, 2006 guitarist Pig Champion died at his home in Portland, of undetermined causes, although he had been suffering from the flu and an untreated kidney infection. PI had recorded a new record and it was ready for release when he died. Pig wanted the record to be called Latest Will and Testament, a name that the rest of the band liked. After Tom’s death Jerry commented that Pig probably knew something that the rest of them didn't. The album was released in May 2006 on Farewell Records.

October 6, 2008 Portland police arrested Steve "Thee Slayer Hippy" Hanford, 39, in connection with a string of pharmacy robberies in late summer.

In 2007, the band again reformed to play shows in support of a split 7" single with Kill Your Idols (for TKO Records). The lineup for this incarnation was Jerry A., Chris Cuthbert (drums), Jimmy Taylor (guitar), Matt Brainard (guitar) and Rob Hume (bass).

PI has been cited as an influence by bands and musicians such as Zeke, Turbonegro, Pantera, Napalm Death, Machine Head, and Emperor’s Bård Faust.


Compilation appearances

  • 1983 Grievous Musical Harm tape (Xcentric Noise) “M.I.A.,” “All Right,” “Young Lord”
  • 1985 Drinking Is Great EP (Fatal Erection) “Laughing Boy”
  • 1985 Cleanse the Bacteria LP (Pusmort) “Typical,” “Die On Your Knees” (plus “I Gotta Right” on bonus 12” only)
  • 1991 Punk’s Not Dread LP (Sink Below) “New Rose”
  • 1993 Eight Songs for Greg Sage and The Wipers LP (Tim/Kerr Records) “Up Front”
  • 1996 Punk-O-Rama Vol. 2 LP (Epitaph Records) "Just to Get Away"

Covered by

  • Kill Your Idols covered "Made to Be Broken" on their 2007 album Funeral for a Feeling.
  • Machine Head covered "Alan's On Fire" as a B-side on their 1994 single Old.
  • Negu Gorriak covered "Getting the Fear" (Ikaratzen) on their 1996 cover album Salam, Agur.
  • Pantera covered "The Badge" for the 1994 The Crow soundtrack.
  • Pulling Teeth covered "Alan's On Fire" on their 2008 single Witches Sabbath III.
  • Toe To Toe covered "Give It Up" on their 1996 EP No Gods and "Just To Get Away" as a B-side on their 1999 single Slave.
  • Turbonegro covered "Just To Get Away" on a live version from 1995 on the second disc of their 2005 Small Feces box set.
  • Valse Triste covered "Think Twice" (Laske Henkesi) on their 1999 album Turha Ruokkia Ruumiita.
  • Wolfbrigade covered "Say Goodbye" on their 2003 album In Darkness You Feel No Regrets.

See also


External links

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