Saturday, May 30, 2020

Slamming back in time with Necros' Henssler

Necros vocalist Barry Henssler, middle, ventures into the pit at Bob's Place. (Photo by Kevin Salk)

By Andy

There was plenty of raging punk rock unleashed by the four bands. And there was chaos in the streets.

On Oct. 1, 1982 at Bob's Place in the rough-and-tumble Watts area of Los Angeles, the Misfits, Necros, Social Distortion and SVDB held court in the gig space situated above a liquor store. About 1,000 diehards packed the place for a few hours to immerse themselves in the blistering tunes. Afterward, we watched from upstairs as the cops fended off the locals, who scrapped with some punks on the corner of 61st and Broadway.

Necros vocalist Barry Henssler remembers witnessing some beaten-up punks barrel their way back into the club. As the Necros loaded out their cabinets down the back stairs, some cops protected the area so the Maumee, Ohio, visitors would remain unscathed.

Two years ago in Seattle, Necros bassist Corey Rusk and I discussed that show, in which he played with a broken leg in a cast (he sustained the injury in a skateboarding accident in Denver earlier on the tour). He was stoked that I remembered the LA gig and said it was quite an experience.

It was the Necros' first gig in LA and it was an eye-opener, for sure, Henssler said over the phone from Chicago earlier this week.

"We had played out East at Irving Plaza in New York to somewhat large-ish crowds versus in Detroit where it was our little Freezer Theater club with like a hundred people or something. But it was astonishing how many people were there," he said. "It was just like a crazy, overwhelming... It was the first time I had seen an LA pit."

Henssler's voice cackled with laughter while describing what transpired within the realm of the slamming punks:

"I remember I came off the stage once and I got into the pit and it was like really violent. I was like, 'Oh, fuck, I gotta get the hell back on the stage or else I'm gonna be the one in the cast next.'"

Henssler. (Photo by Kevin Salk)

The Misfits were also on fire that night and their set flew by in a blur of energy. There was a mass of voices raised up front during the sing-a-longs, but I also remember Doyle scolding a fan for getting too close and whacking into his devilock. You can't win 'em all, I guess.

Prior to the gig, since we knew Henry Rollins and Dave Claussen from SST a bit, me, my brother Ed and buddy Pat Hoed lurked around the Misfits' van with them as Glenn Danzig consulted with Rollins -- who also limped around with a leg injury -- about what songs to etch onto their setlist.

Nearby in the parking lot, the Necros guys were hanging out and we chatted with them about their tour with the Misfits and Midwest hardcore. While we hung with the Necros, our jaws nearly dropped to the ground as we watched Doyle and Jerry Only hoist their amps over their heads like toothpicks and walk them into the venue.

Henssler said that tour across the United States with the Misfits was vital in the band's growth. The Necros were newly minted high-school graduates and bent on hitting the open road with their skateboards, drums and guitars.

"Where I'm from, man, it's very boring and not a lot of people get out of there. They sort of just stay there all their lives, and I was not about that. I just want to travel and see the world and just see what's what. It was super fun and the Misfits, they were like our older-brother band kind of for a couple years. It was so cool of them to bring us out on the road," said Henssler, adding that Danzig also showed them the ropes in the T-shirt-silkscreening and sticker-making realm.

With the Misfits jaunt under their belt and promoters' phone numbers in hand, the Necros launched another tour a year later. They had an album out, "Conquest for Death," and some momentum on their side, but they were essentially looking for some more good times.

"It wasn't like we had career aspirations, it was just we wanted to be able to travel and get gas and a place to stay and maybe food, enough for that day," Henssler said. "It wasn't like there's bags of gold at each stop just waiting for you to pick 'em up (laughter)... You're playing some shithole in Tucson, right?"

A few years later, the Necros would up their game with massive LA gigs supporting Motorhead at the Olympic Auditorium and Megadeth at the Hollywood Palladium, but it was that gig at dumpy Bob's Place and initial LA trip that still resonates the loudest with Henssler.

"It was cool. We were super stoked to be playing LA. Growing up, we were really into skateboarding and like Dogtown, the Z-Boys and stuff, it was super inspirational," said Henssler, adding that photographer Glen Friedman hooked them up with Tony Alva for a skating session and they watched Jay Adams tear it up on a half pipe.

Henssler continued his trip down memory lane: "I had been reading Flipside and Slash, and California culture in general, 'cause of skateboarding and everything, it loomed large in my life like since the early '70s. I had every issue of Skateboarder magazine, so leading up to punk rock it was just sort of like this natural progression, so I was just really excited to go out there and play."

Leaving Maumee, Ohio -- where people chucked bottles at punks from their cars -- in the rearview mirror to hang out with Alva, the Big Boys and tons of other bands on the road was like finding some bags of gold after all.

Necros' Henssler, Corey Rusk and Todd Swalla. (Photo by Kevin Salk)

Some things remain the same: Bob's Place, above, and store last year. (Photo by Kevin Salk)

Original flier from the TSHIT collection.

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