Saturday, April 2, 2011

Punk-rock musical chairs: From CIA to 76% Uncertain and back again

CIA, back in the early '80s, Bones, center, Mark, guitar, and Elaine. (Courtesy photo)

By Andy 

Some people just don't get it.

When I was working at a movie theater in the early 1980s, I sported my CIA T-shirt one day before changing into my awful white-shirt, black-slacks and bow-tie ensemble. A local cop, who often walked the theater manager to the bank to make nightly deposits, asked me, with a smirk: "What's that all about?" while pointing at my shirt. I told him it was a punk band from Connecticut, and he shook his head in apparent disgust. Whatever.

CIA: Kenny, left, and E.J. (Courtesy photo)
Fronted by gravel-throated, yet melodic vocalist Mike "Bones" Hammond, the Bridgeport group first came to my attention when Jack Rabid raved about them in his New York City-based Big Takeover fanzine. I soon became pen pals with Rabid, who sent me a copy of the killer CIA demo, which featured raging songs like "No Thrills," "Violence," "Gangland Wars" and a great cover of the Rolling Stones' "As Tears Go By."

After procuring a copy of CIA's stellar "God, Guts, Guns" 7-inch EP, I wrote Bones and we traded letters and phone calls for a few years. He visited my home in Redondo Beach, Calif., once with his girlfriend (and now wife), Elaine, and best buddy, Jeff Roberts, and we had a great time just hanging out and watching movies.

In an interesting twist, members of CIA and fellow Bridgeport unit Reflex from Pain left their bands and formed the outstanding 76% Uncertain. (My 76 T-shirt would get many a comment, as well, whenever I donned it.) Once again fronted by Bones, 76 went on to release three albums — laced with anger, melody and humor, and a tad of heavy metal — before calling it a day in the late '80s. (76's three-guitar attack on its last record, "Hunka Hunka Burnin' Log," was and still is a rarity ... they were kind of a like a hardcore version of guitar army Molly Hatchet!)

76 reformed for a series of benefits after Roberts was killed in a car accident on Sept. 12, 1997. He left behind a wife and three children.

Nowadays, both 76 and CIA play occasional gigs in the Connecticut area, and Bones' 20-year-old son -- Mike Jr., or Bones Jr. or Boner to friends -- even plays some bass for CIA.

Here's some excerpts from an old CIA interview from my aborted fanzine back in the day (comments from Kenny, guitar) in 1983:

Plugging in ...
We started out as an early punk-cover band (Pistols, Generation X, Clash, Dead Boys, etc.). We played a couple shows, mostly to friends and drunks, but said, 'Fuck this!!!' Nobody really appreciated it! We started listening to hardcore and decided to get into it. It was great, people actually came to hear the music, not to just pick up chicks or get totally unconscious (we're not straight edge, though).

Who we dig ...
Well, me, Bones and E.J. (bass) have always been into music, so I guess you could say everything from early heavy metal to late '70s punk to present hardcore bands.

Getting lyrical ...
We have about 18 songs, but we'll have more soon, throwing out what we don't like, adding others. Some of the subjects are being drunk AND obnoxious ('Dr. Jeckyll, Mr. Drunk'), the sad state of commercial radio ('I Hate the Radio'), dog shit ('Sidewalk Bombs'), looting ('Blackout'), a long-life nobody ('Waste Product'), insane asylum ('Sector 12'), etc. (Note: 'Sector 12' was one of many unreleased tracks that finally saw the light of day on the re-release of 'Gods, Guts, Guns and more,' which is available on 12-inch vinyl at:

Payment, what's that? ...
We really don't make much money playing out (in Pittsburgh, we made six D batteries, a lock we had to give back and a ripped pillow!).

Andy, Bones and Jeff: pizza and beer in Manhattan Beach, Calif. (Courtesy photo)


  1. Cool post. Looking forward to checkin these guys out at Dewey's in a couple weeks.

  2. Thanks! Wish we could be there. Skank to "I Hate the Radio" for us.

  3. Some of the coolest stuff ever, imo.., Heard 'em on "Punk Territory".. Flabbergasted that there's not more about this badass band.., they just utterly tore it up..!!! One o'my true faves..-Peace