Destroy All Monsters were a late 70's US cult band, which featured ex-Stooge Ron Asheton and the exotic Niagara on vocals. Destroy All Monsters were based in Detroit, Michigan. At least one single ('Bored'/'You're Gonna Die') should signal some familiarity in punk folklore! But If you ain't heard em already, I suggest you look em up coz you won't be dissapointed if your into a more laidback sleazy Stooges grind and along with Niagra's laidback drawl and bewitiching lyrics completes this cult package. Here's their story taken from the British music press's perspective at the time.
SOUNDS October 28th,1978 So where did Destroy All Monsters spring from? Well, first of all the final incarnation arose from an earlier one. which sported the same name but was vastly different in terms of both personnel and musical style. The original D.A.M. came together at the end of 1973 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. It was conceived not as a band in the usual sense, but as an extra dimension to the artistic activities of the four people involved Cary Loren, a maverick underground filmmaker, and painters Mike Kelly, Jim Shaw and Niagara. This latter-named young lady turned out to be the band's pivotal element, having remained a member from those early days to the present. Just what the rest of her name (or her real name) is, nobody seems to have discovered; in fact, Niagara has generally succeeded in remaining anonymous. We know from visual evidence that she has an aversion to wearing much of anything from the waist upwards. The original quartet made music based on a concept of filling a given airspace with an assortment of noise â€” much as one might fill a canvas with paint. The theory might have been artistically valid, but aurally it presented a distinctly unresolved racket! I can't resist quoting Kris Needs, who speaks of the band thrashing out "a formless blur on cheap plastic organs, electronic drum boxes, fuzz guitars and Niagara's violin". It wouldn't have needed much of a prophet to suggest that this lot were destined to go nowhere very fast; nonetheless they held loosely onto each other and their joint cacophony until the end of 1974. When Mike Kelly conceded to himself that this was not the way up the yellow brick road. Exit Kelly and Shaw, and goodbye D.A.M. mark one. Loren's masterplan for resurrection was quite straight forward, requiring simply the addition of new band members with established musical credits. The two he got the ex-Iggy & The Stooges guitarist Ron Asheton, and former MC5 bass player Mike Davis were quite a coup. Asheton (a resident Ann Arbor commodity) had been dormant since the collapse of his previous rock & roll fiasco, the New Order. Loren's invitation just happened to coincide with Asheton's own decision to tread the boards again, and the projected D.A.M. seemed the right vehicle. To complete the band came brothers Ben and Larry Miller on sax and guitar, and Rob King on drums. Niagara and Loren shared lead vocal chores , the stage act fell together well, and a new hard-rockin' D.A.M. arose phoenix-like from the ashes of the earlier band. Plenty of heavy gigging around Detroit and Ann Arbor rapidly built up a loyal local following undoubtedly aided, by Asheton and Davis' semi-legendary status, and by Niagara's sexist appeal. They even concluded successful gigs in Toronto and New York during 1977. Then, in August, Gary Loren upped and exited. This whole event and the reasons for it appear to be shrouded in mystery; (however you can read the real reason why he left in Giovanni Dadomo's interview with D.A.M. in July 14th 1979 here). Since then the band played support to the Ramones, Pere Ubu, Devo and our own lovable exports the Stranglers. What they didn't do was get snapped up by a record company â€” but it was only a matter of time before they put themselves onto vinyl. A single was recorded in October 1977 and eventually saw the light of day in February 1978 on the band's own I.D.B.I, label (stands for 'I Don't Believe It', which figures!). The titles are 'Bored' and 'You're Gonna Die', and Kris Needs sums up their sound as: "kind of raw Motor City Blondie, minus the keyboards but plus screaming psychedelic guitars" oh, and the recording quality is a bit lo-fi, if you know what I mean. An EP was recorded as a follow-up, assuming the band don't get a legit recording deal before it's issued. Titles are not known, but possibly include some of the songs featured in their regular stage set, like 'November 22nd, 1963', 'Tab Machine', 'Broken Mirrors', 'Lou Lou', 'Soul Divider', 'Turn Your Every Page', 'Jet' (with Ron Asheton lead vocal), and the Nancy Sinatra oldie 'These Boots Are Made For Walkin'.' The band's sound is basically an aural battering ram, using all the tricks of cacophony in which the psychedelic groups of the mid-60's delighted, plus assorted heavy-metal borrowings from all points since. Niagara's voice is reckoned to be cold, detached, monotonous â€” and indeed the lass herself is quoted as saying (in reference to her performance of the Nancy Sinatra hit): "I used to think that Nancy sang in such a monotone, but when I listen to her now, she sounds so vital". Draw your own conclusions! IDBI records, in the interim, can be contacted at P.O. Box 7241, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48107, U.S.A.; David Keeps is the man to address there. I also received a note, however, from Wretched Records of 98 Soho Market, Newport Place, London WC2 not more than a couple of minutes jaunt from the palatial Sounds offices, in fact. They have copies of 'Bored/You're Gonna Die' on IDBI import at £1.25 a throw; and while I doubt that they're the ONLY retailers with copies, since they took the effort to inform us, I see no reason not to point the more serious among you in their direction. John Peel has been known to play the single in recent weeks when this appears in print, and if you all listen politely twixt ten and twelve, he might well be persuaded to give it another whirl.
EPITAPH: Destroy Alll Monsters continued playing until 1985. They also made a new batch of studio recordings as well as some video work from this period. Although in 1981 Ron Asheton had also joined ex-Radio Birdman members Deniz Tek and Rob Younger in their underground supergroup The New Race. Ron also did some acting in low budget horror movies in the 80's and 90's. Before rejoining Niagara in the shortrtlived Dark Carnival during the 90's. However Destroy All Monsters were ressurrected for more appearances most notable being Punks 25th anniversary held at CBGB's. They still make sporadic appearances both in Detroit and New York to this day. Ron later teamed up with the reformed Stooges who are currently gigging all over the world once more.
Cheers to Sid (Nuneaton) who sent me a copy of Kris Needs' article on Destroy All Monsters from Zig Zag issue 83, Erin from (Texas Punk Junk) for introducing me to the missing 'Creeper' sleeve and Brett from (Temple, PA) for info and a few live CD burns. While a special big thanx must go out to original contributors from the Don't Care archives - Barry Lazell from Sounds and Alastair of the fanzine 'Kids Stuff' who spared the time and energy to put together a potted band history all those years ago. Wonder where they are now?