Mikey Donaldson, Tony Johnson and I formed the Offenders in Killeen,
Texas in late 1978. After a few tryouts with some different singers,
we eventuially hired Mick Buck, a guy who had a real knack for exuding
coolness, something the rest of us sorely lacked.
In 1980 we moved to Austin and began playing places
like Rauls' Club and Duke's Royal Coach Inn. July 1981 saw the self-release
of our first single, "Lost Causes/ Rockin' the Town."
Our sound then was the Clash-Buzzcocks-British wave punk style.
Soon thereafter though, we were taking notice of what many US punk
bands were doing. Faster, more hardcore sounds coming from the likes
of Bad Brains, Circle Jerks, D.O.A. and the DKs inspired us to take
our sound up a notch. But Mick was not up for the new
direction we were taking, so he and the band parted ways in early
We wasted no time in picking up singer J.J. Jacobson.
J.J. had no musical training but was freshly (dropped) out of high
school and full of teen angst, so it seemed a perfect fit. We quickly
gained regional attention with our self-styled brand of hardcore.
Bands such as MDC, Die Kreuzen, Corrosion of Conformity, and Toxic
Reasons helped us to forge an alliance with many like-minded punks
and fans nationwide. By 1984, we were totally immersed in the burgeoning
underground scene that would (sadly) eventually take punk into the
The first LP "We Must Rebel" (R Radical)
was released in July 1983. We toured the West Coast and Midwest
after its release and by then had established a solid following
throughout Texas and Louisiana. "I Hate Myself/ Bad Times"
(45/ Rabid Cat) was released in 1984. Various other cuts appear
on compilations such as Cottage Cheese from the Lips of Death,"
Metal Moo Cow," "Bands on the Block," and "P.E.A.C.E."
And, of couurse, we continued to tour throughout 1984.
In 1985, we hired SST stalwart Spot to produce our
second LP "Endless Struggle" (Rabid Cat). It was released
in June '85, just in time for the eastern leg of a planned nationwide
tour. But, van problems and our increasing mutual contempt proved
to be too much, causing us to conclude the tour in October before
a western leg could be booked.
In the last few months of 1985, Mikey was devoting
a lot of time to playing bass with MDC, which by then was based
in San Francisco. Mikey had been the Offenders' primary songwriter,
and his absence began taking its toll on the band's muse. After
a Mardi Gras show in New Orleans in February 1986 (one of our best
performances, ironically), Mikey announced announced that he was
moving to SF. He would be joining (ex-Dicks) Gary Floyd's band,
Sister Double Happiness. And so after eight years together, we called
it quits. We played our final show at the Woodshock festival in
Wimberly, Texas in August 1986.
The US hardcore scene in the 1980s was truly unique.
The term "D.I.Y." is an overused one to be sure. But,
in those pre-internet days things like 45s, fanzines, mailing lists,
and wax-coated postage stamps were indispensable tools to those
of us wanting to hear and produce great new music. The music may
have faded some, but the fact that you're reading this today proves
that the independent spirit spawned by the movement clearly lives