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Flash Metal Suicide: TSOL

This week: he-dog motorcycle mania from punk rock turncoats TSOL, and their 1990 album Strange Love

“This is our last show, since we're all gonna get killed by LA punks on Tuesday” - 1981 TSOL bootleg

Here's how crazy it got with TSOL by the time Strange Love hit the streets: the sole original member, bassist Mike Roche, quit the band in disgust after recording the album, leaving an entirely new band to carry on their dubious legacy. Fast-forward a couple years and the “old” TSOL was booking shows in the same cities on the same nights as the “new” TSOL in a fitful bid to save their already tarnished name. And really, the only reason any of this bullshit was still going on was because GN'R drummer Steven Adler wore a TSOL shirt in the Sweet Child O' Mine video. An endorsement from the biggest band in the world – even from their drug-addled drummer, who may have just fished it out of a pile of somebody else's dirty laundry - was enough to sell piles of records for a few years in the late 80s. Fast forward another few years. Flash metal is dead in the water and Green Day replaces Guns as the age group stadium rock champions. TSOL goes back to their punk roots like the bandana headbands and Cult rip-off albums never even happened. And they never speak of it again.

Yeah well, it happened, man. And we gotta deal with it. Here's the thing with TSOL. You can essentially pin the wave of indiscriminate violence and bloodshed that riddled punk shows throughout the 80's on them. Maybe not them alone, but certainly their circle. Formed in Huntington Beach in the late 70's, TSOL (True Sounds of Liberty) were part of the first clutch of 'hardcore' punk bands in California, pumping out a much faster, meaner, and altogether unhinged form of rock n'roll than had really ever existed before. 

And they didn't just play punk, they were punks, violent ex-jocks and surfers who relished brawling with their audiences. Stabbings and beatings were commonplace at TSOL shows. I mean, they were at Black Flag shows too, but that was usually just the audience; TSOL gave as much as they got. Eventually, that mindset of mindless violence became part of hardcore's culture and swept across the US. It reached such ecstatic heights here in Boston that we ended up with an actual punk rock gang (FSU, AKA Fuck Shit Up) who would go to shows solely to beat kids up. So, you know, thanks for bloody noses, TSOL.

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