Thursday, July 17, 2008


What do the Descendents, Speedway Cafe, CBGB and the roots of Salt Lake hardcore have in common?

Massacre Guys

The band began as the brainchild of two Arizona natives, Jon and James Shuman, during the summer of 1979. After penning a fictional zine called "The Leisure Cambodian," the brothers decided to make one of their fictional bands, The Massacre Guys, a reality. They moved north in 1980, and enlisted Salt Lake's Stephen O' Reilly (a.k.a.  Stephen Egerton or Steve-O), James Owens (a.k.a. Jimmy Germ Warfare), and Paul Maritsas to bring one of Salt Lake's most legendary hardcore punk bands to life.

Many of the band's early shows took place at the house-party pad of Steve McAllister, located on 21st South and Redwood Road. Bands like the MGs, The Boards, Atheist, Plants and Angles would play the basement every weekend. That is until a gang of rednecks crashed one of the parties, clashed with a gang of skinheads from Long Beach, and someone ended up getting stabbed. A separate account his it that an out-of-place hippy pissed off a skin from San Francisco and received said stabbing. McAllister would later relocate to NYC to become the sound guy at CBGBs.

The Massacre Guys released two cassettes between 1980-81, Bloody Baggage and Bad Medicine. The latter was recorded by Steve McAllister who would later become the sound man at CBGB. Paul Maritsas left the band shortly after these recordings for college, and eventually founded the Speedway Cafe. Jimmy Germ left the band around this time as well. The Guys enlisted close-friend Karl Alvarez to fill Paul's spot, along with Paul Krowas on 2nd guitar and Phil Miller of local reggae/ska act 004 on saxophone.

In 1982, the band recorded "twenty more songs in a hippy's cedar-paneled basement on the east bench of Salt Lake County." Toxic Shock Records released six of these as the Behind the Eight Ball EP. Tours alongside legendary acts such as The Dead Kennedys, JFA, TSOL, Bad Religion and The Faction followed. In 1984, the MGs entered the studio again to record the Rider EP for Unclean Records (which included an early version of the song "Schizophrenia" that would later appear on the Descendents' 1987 album, ALL).

How would that song end up on a Descendents record? We're getting there.

In 1985 the MGs began to dissolve. Paul Krowas moved to Kansas and Stephen to Virginia. The remaining members enlisted other local artists for a handful of shows over the next year, but it simply was not the same. Stephen returned to SLC for a final farewell show with none-other-than Black Flag at the Salt Lake Community Center, after which the band went on an "indefinite hiatus."

Karl Alvarez sang for Bad Yodelers for awhile before relocating to Southern California to join Stephen Eggerton in legendary melodic punk band the Descendents (there you go). Alvarez has also played with Gogol Bordello, The Last, Underminer, The Vultures,  and The Real McKenzies. He recently joined the reunited Lemonheads. Eggerton runs Armstrong Recording Company in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Jon Shuman went on to play with the Boxcar Kids, Wonder Crash, A.U. (with brother Jamie), the Qualitones, Dollymops and PCP Berzerker. He is currently working on a rock musical. Guitarist Paul Krowas now plays with Kansas City's The Throttlers. As we mentioned, Maritsas went on to form the Speedway Cafe and also played in the band Angle. Various members of Massacre Guys can be found playing MG songs around Salt Lake City to this day in the band Die Shuman Bruder.

The Massacre Guys reunited in the summer of 2009 for a benefit show. Videos from the reunion can be found on YouTube.


Lori said...

No mention of Steve-O?
For shame!! He had the most MG tattoos of any of them....

Bronwen said...

Stephen Egerton is Stephen O'Reilley who is Steve-O. He changed his name from O'Reilley to Egerton when he joined the Descendents.

Bronwen said...

Massacre Guys reunion show at Burt's Tiki Lounge June 6, 2009. Original members Jon Schuman, Jamie Schuman, and Paul Krowas are playing. There will be more videos of this show posted to the youtube account.

Adrian said...

you dont happen to have either cassette they put out do you?

therocknrolldr said...

My ex-wife and I saw The Massacre Guys with Phil Miller when they opened for "Angst" and "X" I think back in 1984 at the Utah fairgrounds. In my opinion, as well as several others, thought the MG blew away the top billing bands. I just wish there was a CD of only the MG available. If there is, please let me know.