Sunday, November 06, 2005

More Daniel Higgs Stories



Krucoff links to Vinyl Mine's "buried anecdotes" about Reptile House - my better remembered stories revolve around the lead singer, a then thin and full-head-of-hair Daniel Higgs - now in Lungfish.

Here are three more Danny anecdotes from the late '80s:

1) Higgs used to talk about the living anti-Christ in between songs - I heard this twice at different shows. He claimed that the anti-Christ was alive and living in England. And here the time, I thought he was the anti-Christ.

2) I once gave Higgs a copy of my fanzine called Shredded Slime. A month or so later, I saw Reptile House at the Marble Bar and in between two of the songs, he read some of his poetry. I nearly dropped dead when one of the lines in his poem was "shred the slime"... Unfortunately, I haven't found that poem in any of his published material (although I only paged through one book). Of course, no one around me at time believed it, so I've always kept this story to myself but it was always cool when you realized that someone in a band you loved actually read your zine.

3) Years ago, Burger King used to give out paper crowns with their kiddie meals. Higgs would bring a crown to each show and when one of the audience members was acting particularly asshole-ish, Higgs would bring out the crown and announce that the "Gig Idiot" (or "Gig Moron") had been identified and would he come up to the stage to be crowned. One night, the guy he crowned actually wore it with pride and continued to be a rude slam-dancing asshole the entire evening. I had to hand to this kid, he wore his mark of shame with amour propre.

Finally this isn't really a Danny story but I once wrote a letter to the Baltimore City Paper (and it got published) defending Reptile House whom the paper would regularly put down. Alas, I can't find that clipping any more but I heard through a third party (Grey March guitarist) that the band thought it was cool (never had the guts to verify it though) because back then the City Paper gave no support to the local alternative scene.

Links:
Something I Learned still has tracks up from Reptile House's out of print single EP I Stumble As The Crow Flies. I recommend especially "Keel Haul Love" and "Sleestak Weather"... The Krucoff link above fronts the Lungfish song, "All Creation Bows."

Picture via High Zero 2004 festival page.

34 comments:

Seb said...

Back when I was living in Baltimore, Daniel Higgs sightings around town were like my favourite ghost stories. Then I began working at a record store he frequented. A five minute conversation about Einsturzende Neubauten with him was the high point of my tenure there. My co-workers thought I had just befriended some homeless guy with a lot of tattoos.

Jim H said...

Somewhere I have pictures of Danny in his full Lizard King glory - hopefully they weren't lost in one of the moves.

John said...

I knew Dan back when he was just plain old Danny Lindenstruth at the U. of Md. in 1982. We were all just a bunch of punk wanna-bes, but Danny was pretty intense even back then. Way more than me.

We used to quote him all the time. Like us, he hated the school, but, he said, "I like the milk." When a friend of mine bought a Sinatra record, Danny said, "Save that shit for your parents."

I had a tape of the guitar player in one of his early bands, Trud. His name was Alex. Just him, flailing away. At the end of the tape, there was some radio evangelist going on about how your life will be full of radiant bliss once you accept Jesus Christ as your personal savior. Then Danny cuts in and says, "I'm never satisfied, Dickhead." Classic.

I tried out for one of his bands. I didn't pass the audition. I asked him about it later. He said, "I thought you wanted to play Squeeze covers."

fortycalibernap said...

ohfuck -- the marble bar.

had no idea you were posting out of bmore until i read this.

i actually put together the roadie crew to offload hot tuna's amps into the place when they moved their gig out of the civic center at the last minute.

bless'm -- he was good.

Jim H said...

Well, I lived in Baltimore from about 1983-1988 and got into their small punk scene during that time. Besides multiple house parties, the Marble Bar, the basement of the Marble Bar and Jules' Loft were the basic joints for bands at that time. Even though I was in my 20's, I was often the oldest person at these shows (besides Jules).

kinoeye said...

I am looking to purchase the vinyl copies of both Reptile House releases, if you are selling any of them. Also, where can I find recording by Dan's old band, Trud??

Anonymous said...

trolling on by, thought i'd stop and pontificate!

ah...danny stories...
how about his early predeliction for intentionally jumping off the stage and landing on his head; something he allegedly learned when he ran away to "clown school"...

i remember alex, and trud... alex also played in reptile hosue for a while... i don't remember danny being in trud, that was the other big guy with tats, scott market(aka stock market)
afaik, trud never had vinyl... find a guy named skizz, he used to have a recording of them...

the hot tuna show was at the galaxy ballroom, upstairs from the marble bar...

the loft, both of them, was pretty, um... it was "something else"...

r.i.p. mobtown crew, grey march, reptile house, spastic rats, per capita, slug log 3, buried droog, 21 deaf men, infant lunch...

paul

Jim H said...

Great to hear from another Baltimoron.

I remember Alex and a stocky guy with a beard that did roadie duties for them. Maybe that's who you mean who had the tats. I'm pretty sure I shared a joint with them once or twice.

I usedta know Schizz!

I once went on his radio show which he did on Friday nights on the Towson State Univ station (RIP), spun some records with him and later jammed with him and his little pal in my basement. Real nice guy. Not surprised he's holding those trud recordings.

I later took his racist former girlfriend (he broke up with her when he found out she was such a racist) out to KFC for a bucket of chicken. A real trip listening to her bullshit especially since she was pretty damn hot - ultimately tho' more sickening than the chicken ...

Shawn said...

I found myself at a tattoo convention in San Francisco years ago and ran into Dan. He was selling copies of his DOOMSDAY BONNET book.

I bought one, shot the breeze with him for a bit then asked if he'd personalize it for me.

He takes the book and a pen, and scribbles furiously in it for about two minutes while we talk about Nephilim and Oranges, and he hands the book back to me and thanks me for the purchase.

I walk off and wait till I'm out of his eyeshot before I open it up to see the BADASS drawing that took him two mins, to find:

"To Shawn, from Daniel".

Nice and Smooth.

Anonymous said...

Back in the late 80's or early 90's, my housemates and I went to see Lungfish play at the Firehouse in Pigtown. Before the show, Danny showed my friend Pete and me where Edgar Allan Poe was really buried, underneath a church. We needed to jump the fence to get into the courtyard of the church and then peer into the basement of the church through a window to see EAP's tombstone. Police cars came screaming by the church and we thought we were busted, but they just flew by uphling justice elsewhere. A year or two later, I saw them at Maxwell's in Hoboken and Joan Jett showed up and watched them rock and then hung out with Danny after the show. This was around the time JJ produced one of the Circus Lupus singles.

Jim H said...

this is a popular thread... I have some early pictures of Reptile House on my flickr page... see:

Flickr - Reptile House

Anonymous said...

my friend and I saw a lungfish show in Detroit at smalls not so long ago. My friends asked Dan how long he had been in japan for. He shrugged and said " I don't know, maybe a week or two"

Anonymous said...

Can't believe I found this thread on a lovely August night.

I remember Danny as Danny Lidenstruth, with skateboards and tatoos. Reptile House was just taking hold when I left B-more.

I remember the Marble Bar, the Club Chuck and in Annapolis, the Institute.

old times, but good times........

Jim H said...

I feel bad that this is the number 1 hit for google searches on "dan higgs" or "daniel higgs" - can't someone put up a decent fan site for the guy!?!

Anonymous said...

Actually I am pleasantly surprised this is the first hit on google, as I was looking for info on the new solo record he apparently just put out.
Anyway, first time I saw Lungfish was at Memory Lane, and they were between bassists. Still plenty loud and full sound, I think Asa was even more distorted and feedback-drenched than usual to make up for it. I taped it on a walkman, still listen to it sometimes. The show was EMPTY. Higgs gave one of his trademark impromptu bizarro lectures before they began about how they were going to play some rock and roll about unknown species: sasquatch, coelocanth(?), etc. They weren't going to be dealing with chips, you know, They implanted these chips, well they weren't going to play any music about that, just concentrate on unknown species for the evening. After the first song (an intrumental off Indivisible) there is absolute silence. Nobody claps. It's as if people didn't quite know if that was in fact the first song or not. Very strange.
Somewhere I have a book of Daniel Lindenstruth poetry called "Under Heaven's Heel", which contains the gem "My First Poem":
This is my first poem
I am happy and proud
I have mud on my shoes
Gum in my hair
And come on my hand.
(That's from memory - apologies if I've mangled it.)
I'll think I'll go listen to that tape right now, dammit.

Anonymous said...

Dan just played Montreal about 4 months ago and I almost drove up from Toronto to see him. Did anyone go to this show in Mile End??

Anonymous said...

As Dan's cousin, I remember him as the most gentle, artistic young boy. Full of love and brilliance and of course, the most intense blue eyes.

Anonymous said...

what the fuck?
higgs skated
just imagine that shit

Anonymous said...

I saw him last year in SF, not really knowing who he was or anything. he opened for Bright black morning light (or whatever that band is called) and blew them out of the water. he had a wicked drone generatater, and I remember that he ended with the jew's harp, fleeing the stage immediately after ending it abruptly, and saying "botched it."

strugglebunny said...

On March 14, 1987, I saw Reptile House at the Marble Bar open for Bad Brains. The Bad Brains were late and Reptile House played what I remember to be a two hour set trying to keep the party going till the headliner showed up. Eventually, Danny said "we played all our songs. we don't have anymore." Someone in the crowd shouted "show us your balls!" So Danny pulled the kids out of his pants and let them dangle for awhile. The crowd went... er.... nuts.

Andrew said...

So wait, were there *two* bands called Reptile House? In the summer of 1986, after my junior year in high school, I went to a show at Trax in Charlottesville where one of the bands on the bill was called Reptile House, and the microphone the singer was flailing around came off the mic stand, soared through the air and clocked me between the eyes. It wasn't a serious injury but man was there a ton of blood. Just nuts. The guy who booked the show begged me to make up a BS story to tell the people at the ER so that the incident wouldn't make the local paper and have a negative effect on "the scene". I was told the band were from Arizona, so the Higgs connection seems doubtful...but still, I'm curious...

Anonymous said...

Dan Higgs appears in Scott Harrison's "blow guns, beach whistles, and the definition of powerlesness" which can be found and headbandbrothers.com

liam said...

My only encounter with mr. higgs was last year at college, my friend and i were out in a field just blaring on some saxophones when he drives up with this woman, says he liked our sound or something to that effect, and asked us how to get to the college venue. i remember thinking that he was a really cool dude, but unfortunately missed his set because I couldn't stand brightblack's lame hippy crap and had to walk out of sound duties for the night. haha.

although, my similarly hirsute and banjo playing friend (who was the other saxophone-player), saw his set and was completely enamored.

BHS said...

Mash Potato, with dill.

Anonymous said...

HHHH...The Lord is a monkey
Thanksgiving's coming on the Fourth of July
In the form of a girl with a needle in her eye
Well she come from out west on a nickel's worth of gas
Got her mind on her money and a dope up her ass
Outside of Phenix she was kinda broke down
Burned a cracker-boy rig and she was out of that town.
HA HA HA HAA
Well she was a hairy creature in the ashwam bed
She was sellin' more skies had a funky-ass head
Well she played with my mouth and she threw me on the bed
And she cut off my balls and she sewed ‘em to my head
Well she's headin' back east in a 67 Caddy
Got her mind on her money and a dope for her daddy
Well I met her on the street where she beat me like a fool
Then she got me accepted to an ivy league school
Well I really did good but it's kickin' my ass
I lost 38 pounds and my eye turned to glass
Well she's looking pretty good first week in July
She's got a dope up her ass and a needle in her eye
Thanksgivings coming on the Fourth of July
In the form of a girl with a needle in her eye
Well she come from out west on a nickel's worth of gas
Got her mind on her money and a dope up her ass

Anonymous said...

"So wait, were there *two* bands called Reptile House? In the summer of 1986, after my junior year in high school, I went to a show at Trax in Charlottesville where one of the bands on the bill was called Reptile House, and the microphone the singer was flailing around came off the mic stand, soared through the air and clocked me between the eyes. It wasn't a serious injury but man was there a ton of blood. Just nuts. The guy who booked the show begged me to make up a BS story to tell the people at the ER so that the incident wouldn't make the local paper and have a negative effect on "the scene". I was told the band were from Arizona, so the Higgs connection seems doubtful...but still, I'm curious..."

I think you are on to something here! I was 2nd guitar in Reptile House, and I do remember playing a gig at Trax back then... (It may have been the summer of 85, not 86, I'm not sure.) Anyway, I don't recall Dan doing that at that particular gig, but that very well may have been him as he was known to do things like that back in those days. He was more of a wildman back then for sure; I could tell you a few stories.

The band from Arizona was probably UPS (stood for Useless Pieces of Shit, haha), who Reptile House was billed with at that gig...I recall the outside door of the club being slammed so hard by someone that it shattered. UPS were shaved heads and completely covered with tattoos and piercings....

-Alex Layne

Anonymous said...

"I had a tape of the guitar player in one of his early bands, Trud. His name was Alex. Just him, flailing away. At the end of the tape, there was some radio evangelist going on about how your life will be full of radiant bliss once you accept Jesus Christ as your personal savior. Then Danny cuts in and says, "I'm never satisfied, Dickhead." Classic."

That's hilarious! I don't recall making that tape, but I'd sure like to hear it now!

-Alex Layne

Andrew Johnston said...

Alex--

Now that you mention it, it was definitely the summer of '85 that Reptile House played Trax in C'ville, meaning the show was the summer after my sophomore, not junior, year of college. Yow! But yes, UPS were totally the other band on the bill with Reptile House.

Last summer when I visited Austin, I saw some really fantastic tattoo flash art by Daniel at a parlor called Red Devil Tattoo, which included a couple of pieces I'd love to get...do you (or does anyone else here) know of any East Coast establishments that have Daniel's flash art? I live in NYC but would consider going to Baltimore, Philadelphia or somehere else a similar distance away, depending on circumstances...

LUCIFER said...

I AM CHRIST AMONG US.

I AM US AMONG THE CHRIST.

Anonymous said...

My first Lungfish experience was a gig in September or October of '92, in a 3 story rowhouse right in Baltimore. Delicate Prey was on the bill. Lungfish came out and performed "Devilhead", "Descender", "Parthenogenesis" and two other songs before Baltimore's finest shut them down for exceeding local noise level ordinance(s). My girlfriend (now my wife)cold not understand why they were not signed to a major label (she'd worked at Capitol Records in the legal department and been exposed to her share of artists). I understand about loyalty, wanting to maintain control of their music, and artistic integrity, but it would've been nice to hear some of the earlier stuff on mainstream radio, to serve as a blueprint for how it really should be done.

Anonymous said...

For all you Higgs fans...and I see there are many, you should check out his original art we published at Soundscreen Design for the 3rd edition of our Artist Music Journals. Pretty sick stuff...http://www.soundscreendesign.com/artist-music-journals-edition-03-daniel-higgs-out-now

Leslie F. Miller said...

I didn't know Danny was such a big deal. Back in the early eighties, my husband worked at Brown's Coffee Bar in Brown's Arcade, with Joe Goldsborough and Danny Lindenstruth. I just saw a picture of my friend, Valerie Favazza, with Danny on FB, and I thought—Higgs? That's Lindenstruth! I had to do a search because I thought I was going crazy, all these people calling him Higgs.

I guess because Reptile House was maybe just getting together then. I worked with Mark Harp back in the day and joined Question 47. We played '80s music, rather than punk, so our bands never played together, but we were always friendly.

Back then, little Bill Stevenson was always outside with his skateboard; I can't remember whether he was kicked out or too young to get in! And look at us all now!

*waves to Alex*

Anonymous said...

Baltimore, summer, early 90's - I'm in town from SF, hanging out, visiting, whatever ( grew up here) fortunately it coincides with a Lungfish show at Hour Haus. I'm with some friends who are fucked up, acting stupid, like they'd never been out of the house before..... I was there for the show, but apparently guilty by association. HH is packed tight & hot as shit, 4-5 songs in Daniel steps off the stage parting the crowd like the Red Sea (couldn't resist!) and in what seems like 2 steps (I'm halfway back at least) comes and head-butts me square in the face. It's a little fuzzy exactly what happens then (nearly 20yrs later...)but I seem to remember watching the rest of the show, somewhat stunned and not a little confused. When it ends, A.F. grabs me and takes me back to the kitchen area where Daniel is waiting to apologize, quite mortified by what happened. Seems he had eaten an (unknown to him?) Owsley's Special Oatmeal Cookie and lost his shit for a moment. I accepted his apology, as I was well aware that those things happen sometimes and when our paths have crossed over the intervening years, he has been nothing but a gentleman.

Anonymous said...

he has been nothing but a gentleman.
very true