American Bands in Vancouver
Vancouver’s location as the northern terminus of a west coast punk touring circuit meant that there was an inevitable north-south cultural dialogue. The influence of bands from San Francisco and Los Angeles on the Vancouver scene outweighed the influence of contemporary bands from the rest of Canada, or even Seattle.
The first California punk band to visit Vancouver was San Francisco’s Avengers, making the trip in April 1978. The Avengers were well-regarded and made fast friends. DOA’s first booking at San Francisco’s Mabuhay Gardens was secured on the Avengers’ recommendation. In December 1978 their guitarist Greg Ingraham left the band, and his replacement was Brad Kent, who had recently left DOA. He helped finish recording the Avengers’ American In Me 12-inch EP, but in June 1979 they disbanded.
The next California band to make a major impression was San Francisco’s The Dils, featuring L.A. transplants Chip and Tony Kinman. Their first visit to Vancouver was in May 1979 with DOA: both bands toured North America that spring, sharing many dates together. Later, Zippy Pinhead (of Rabid) became the Dils’ new drummer. They recorded the Made In Canada 7-inch EP in Vancouver. (The Kinman Brothers’ next band, country-punk pioneers Rank & File, was also popular in Vancouver.)
The Dead Kennedys’ first trip to Vancouver was in April 1979, opening for the K-Tels. By the time they returned in November they were one the biggest names in punk, and this time the K-Tels (now renamed Young Canadians) opened for them. Jello Biafra was a fan of the Vancouver scene, making several long-term friendships. In 1981 the Dead Kennedys were the first west coast punk band invited to play in London, England, and they demanded that the promoters add DOA to the bill, too (the was the first of many UK trips for DOA). In later years, Jello Biafra would record album-length collaborations with DOA and Victoria BC's NoMeansNo.
Black Flag came to Vancouver in February 1980, and like the Dead Kennedys’ first visit, they were fairly unknown. They had one record under their belt, the Nervous Breakdown 7-inch on their own SST label. Singer Keith Morris had already left the band; replacement Ron Reyes and his bandmates were easily adopted as kindred spirits by the Vancouver scene. When Reyes left Black Flag after the Jealous Again EP, he settled down in Vancouver, where he raised a family and still lives today.
Other U.S. bands that formed close relationships with the Vancouver punk scene included the bands X, from Los Angeles; Husker Du, from Minneapolis; and the Fastbacks, from Seattle.