INTERVIEW: Blaine Cook
The Fartz/The Accused former frontman
By: Jeb Branin
Blaine Cook aka Blaine Fartz aka the WIZARD aka Zippy is the former frontman for the legendary FARTZ and the highly influential splatter rock kings THE ACCUSED. THE FARTZ were a bloody raw political hardcore band in the early eighties whose unbridled onslaught of noise and fury earned them a roster slot on the then burgeoning Alternative Tentacles label. A.T. has recently decided to honor the band by re-releasing their entire discography on one CD called "Because This Fuckin' World Still Stinks" thus ensuring the infamy lives on. THE FARTZ were raw and heavy and intense. When THE FARTZ broke up Blaine joined THE ACCUSED another Washington state punk band who played rather generic punk, although tunes like "Reagan's War Puppets" were nice and snotty. With Blaine on board THE ACCUSED mutated into a much heavier, much sicker, much rawer band. The vocalist Blaine replaced, John Dahlin, calls it metal. Whatever. They adopted a mascot named Martha Splatterhead and began their reign of terror. My first exposure to the band was in about 1984-85. I was writing for a zine in Canada called Norhthern Metal that reviewed THE ACCUSED's first LP "The Return Of Martha Splatterhead" on Subcore Records giving it a 0.0 rating and absolutely crucifying it in the review. It is the only 0.0 review I remember ever seeing in Northern Metal. They hated it so much I knew I had to buy it. As I suspected, the album was a masterpiece of hardcore hysteria. THE ACCUSED went on to release several stellar records including some of my all time personal favorite albums like "Open Casket Funeral", "Grinning Like An Undertaker" and "Martha Splatterhead's Maddest Stories Ever Told" (which features Terry Date's most raw and devastating production job ever). Live THE ACCUSED were untouchable. The whole band was a frenzy of epileptic gyrations although Blaine's high flying leaps and bouncing off the walls like a deranged gnome were definitely the highlight. Even in today's underground you aren't going to find a more devastating band than THE ACCUSED. This isn't my first interview with Blaine, but it is definitely my best.
Blaine: Good Morning. I really should be asleep. But, like most mornings I like to get up before the rest of my little family.
CM: Good Morning! So what is it like seeing the FARTZ discography released? Is it cool for you or more like flogging a dead horse?
Blaine: Its really great to see the [email protected] stuff back in circulation. The original concept with alternative tentacles was that all the material in their catalog would always be available for future listeners. So when they called to say they wanted to put all three records out on one disc I was floored. Flogging a dead horse, yeah maybe. The world of music has changed so dramatically. Who would have thought that you would see kids in the 90's with Crass and Black Flag scratched on their leather jackets. Or for that matter kids in the 90's sporting their store bought tie-dye clothing driving around in a V.W. mini van blasting the Grateful Dead.
CM: I've heard rumors that the FARTZ may reunite. Any truth to that? Would it be a real band project again or just a "get together to play a few shows" type of thing?
Blaine: I've really tried to rally the guys around the old camp fire for some serious speaks about doing some shows and recording something new. I haven't been able to track down Steve. I am in contact with Paul and Loud. Original guitarist Tommy [email protected], not the same Tommy that was in the ACCUSED as many people think, fell victim to some heavy drug abuse and we are not really certain of his status. I have asked for help from the local music press to help track down Steve, but of course nobody wants to help. We won't go ahead with anything without Steve. There was a lot of bad blood as the [email protected] faded away. For all I know Steve might be reluctant to put the past behind.
CM: I've also heard about the ACCUSED getting together again and maybe even MR. STUBBS AND THE CARNIVOROUS CHICKEN BAND playing together again. Anything substantial there?
Blaine: The ACCUSED did get together for about a half a dozen shows. Original drummer Dana lives in the Denver area. Chewy the old bass player died of a drug related death a few years back. Original singer Jon is still to this day working in a record store. It really doesn't seem so long ago when they asked me to be in their band, WAY back in April of 1984. The other members of the ACCUSED Tom , Alex and our most notable drummer Josh all went on to play together in GRUNTRUCK. Things really went sour in that band and those three fellows can't see eye to eye. Alex and Josh have a new thang happening, THE HOT ROD LUNATICS. They really are a great band. The ACCUSED lost focus in our latter years. We still wanted to do things for ourselves and didn't want a manager running the show. The music biz doesn't take you seriously when you don't follow all the right moves. I've tried to get Mr. Stubbs back in the saddle, he's a hard man to nail down. I don't know if the world is ready for Mr. Stubbs and the Carnivorous Chicken Band.
CM: While we're going over your whole career here, is THE BLACK NASTY still a project you are involved with or is it dead?
Blaine: The Black Nasty is dead. We put out our own cd. We only pressed about 460 of them. Nobody wanted to distribute the disc. We couldn't even get a show in Seattle. The disc got really good reviews. The fact that it was totally DYS went over everybody's heads. We got the discs from the plant, had the covers printed, got the empty cd cases, folded the covers to fit in the teeny weeny cd cases. Nobody seems to really care about that kind of dedication anymore. Even the mighty maximum rock and roll who gave it a really good review was hesitant to run an ad for us. The discs sit in Woobies basement waiting for some one to take them home.
CM: What would the teenager Blaine who screamed with the FARTZ think of the Blaine of today; the proud daddy and model citizen?
Blaine: Oh yeah I am a proud daddy. Without nearly ten years of working with young children I never would have had one myself. Twenty years ago I never would have thought that I would have even made it this far. I don't feel 36. I still have the same fuck you attitude that I've always had. I'm just more focused. I've learned that I can have a quality life with out exploiting anyone. I still cringe when I walk by one of the men in blue, I still get second looks when I go to the store, and I don't even look that scrappy.
CM: From several things I've read it seems that oddly enough Seattle was one of the least receptive towns to both the FARTZ and the ACCUSED. Why was that? Blaine: I guess we weren't really part of anybody's scene. In both bands we were kind of outsiders. Making a huge statement. The [email protected] used to draw huge crowds and played with some of the most notable bands of the era. We shared the bill with the DK's, D.O.A., the Subhumans, Circle Jerks, a young Poison Idea, Discharge, Bad Brains and the list goes on. We were playing shows outside of Seattle and doing really well. When the [email protected] broke up we were a long lost memory here in Seattle. When I joined the ACCUSED our first shows were out of town and the shows that we did in Seattle only attracted a handfull of people. When we did the Martha Splatterhead ep we couldn't even get any record stores in town to pick the thing up. It wasn't until we started playing up and down the west coast that we sold some of the records to Pushead and Brad from Raunch records (Ed note: Infamous punk record store in Salt Lake City - Jeb). Out of the 500 eps that were pressed I think that only about 300 actually got out there. We continued playing to the all ages crowd while Seattle was moving towards a strictly bar scene. We refused to play bars and didn't do so until the late 80's. I guess that we were seen as a kiddie band. We were playing sell out shows that no other bands in Seattle were able to do. We just didn't care what people in town thought.
CM: The FARTZ and the ACCUSED are both considered legendary by many today. How does it make you feel when you hear somebody cite you as an influence?
Blaine: Crazy man crazy. What can I say . I just picked up the mic and started screaming.
CM: Your vocals are some of the most deranged ever. Is your singing style hard on your voice? Do you have to do anything to keep your voice in shape?
Blaine: Yeah it was hard on my voice. It did become difficult to maintain. I don't sing anymore except to my daughter and my kids at school.
CM: What do you think are the best and worst records you've ever done and why?
Blaine: All of the records I've done are good. They are chunks of time and you have to remember what was going on when each was made. My favorites are The [email protected] first single, The "Martha Splatterhead" ep., "Maddest Stories Ever Told" and "Grinning Like An Undertaker." I like the way those records turned out and they were fun to do.
CM: Are you still into horror films? What do you think of the trend in the last few years to redo and modernize classic horror stories like Dracula, the Mummy, etc.?
Blaine: The remakes of classic films is a waste of film. Now I collect 16mm film. My house is set up to show films. I also show some of the classics in my backyard during the summer, my own little outdoor cinema. I don't keep up on the current horror faves.
CM: What was the best selling ACCUSED album?
Blaine: Don't know. I think they all sold around 35 to 40 thousand copies. We still get little royalty payments from Relativity. The Nastymix records aren't available.
CM: When the ACCUSED hooked up with Nastymix Records it seemed an odd combination. Looking back how do you think that all worked out? Was it a good move for the band at the time?
Blaine: It should have been a good move. The label wasn't ready for our take charge attitude. They wanted to do it their way. In the end their way didn't work. The label went bankrupt.
CM: What is the key difference in your mind between the punk/hardcore scene today and when you first started?
Blaine: It's easier these days. The world moves faster. I rarely go see music. I'm too short and I can't see.
CM: Any final words?
Blaine: Peace. Thanks for the opportunity to answer these questions. I could really go on for days talking about my music past. The music gave me opportunities that most people can only wish for. I really do appreciate it. I have the fans to thank.