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Sunday Old School: The Accüsed

Whidbey Island, Washington isn't that remote, but is only accessible via the Port Townsend ferry on the Olympic Peninsula, the Mukilteo ferry north of Seattle and the Deception Pass bridge up by Anacortes. It is in this splendid isolation that one of America's most revered seminal crossover bands, The Accused, found its inspiration. The time was 1981 and the place was the town of Oak Harbor.

Before the beginnings of grunge proliferated to the extent of being a pox on the Seattle area (except for the really good bands), The Accused had already started honing its pioneering hardcore metal sound. There were other bands doing the same thing such as DRI, COC, Cryptic Slaughter and Broken Bones (to name a few), but The Accused came from an area far removed from these other bands and thus had a distinct sound very unlike anyone else.

Back in the early eighties guitarist Tommy Niemeyer was one of the first musicians to experiment with fusing hardcore and metal rhythms, which wasn't an easy task at the time. Many punks refused to accept it and countless metalheads were left shaking their heads. A large number of open minded metal fans embraced it for what it was - great energy, humor and live mayhem. In that sense, The Accused created a unique legacy. Tommy recruited bassist Chibon 'Chewy' Batterman, drummer Dana Collins and first vocalist John Dahlin for the early incarnation of the band, putting out the two demos between 1982-84 "Please Pardon Our Noise" and "It Is the Sound of Freedom" plus an Accused/Rejectors split. The Fartz lead vocalist Blaine Cook took over in 1984, lending his trademark snarl, and the rest is history.

The Accused coined the phrase 'splatter rock' since they were all horror movie buffs. The first EP, "Martha Splatterhead," was released in 1985 on their own record label Condar Records. The EP derived it's name from The Accused's official mascot Martha Splatterhead, who was a vision from keen illustrator Tommy Niemeyer. Martha was a zombie who came back from the dead to mete out justice to the dregs of society - pedophiles and rapists. The concept took hold and most of The Accused's releases included Martha on their covers and titles.

The 1986 debut full-length "The Return of Martha Splatterhead" was the first album ever issued on Earache records. The bassist was asked to leave, being replaced by Alex 'Maggot Brain' Sibbald. That first Accused album became a classic, containing a reworked version of "Fucking 4 Bucks" (which shows up a lot) and "Wrong Side of the Grave." 1987's "More Fun than an Open Casket Funeral" was released on Combat records, bringing with it classics like "Halo of Flies" and the tradition of The Accused putting cover songs on its albums.

"Devil Woman" was one of many covers The Accused would do, it's intro coming from a 40's radio show "Lights Out." Tommy stated at the time that a band should either nail a cover spot-on or completely fuck it up and make it hilarious. Usually The Accused would do the latter, and Cliff Richard never sounded so warped in their rendition of his song. In terms of covers, these guys gave the Revolting Cocks a run for their money. Over the years, The Accused almost became better known for its covers than its originals. They do straightforward renditions of bands such as the Angry Samoans, and then do completely random versions of artists like Olivia Newton-John.

"Martha Splatterhead's Maddest Stories Ever Told" was released in 1988, signaling the departure of the original drummer and making way for Steve Nelson and eventually Josh Snider. That third album brought with it the scene favorites "Psychomania" and "Starved to Death," and also began a longtime collaboration period with producer Jack Endino. The most bastardized cover ever, "I'd Love to Change the World," appeared on this album. The beautiful acoustic guitar sounds just like you're about to hear Alvin Lee in the beginning and was the work of none other than Metal Church's Kurdt Vanderhoof. On most albums, they brought in a guest star. 1989 saw the release of a three-song split with Morhphis, on which they did the track "Brutality and Corruption."

The Accused toured for two years during this period. More cover songs came by way of the "Hymns of the Deranged" EP on Empty Records. On that release were renditions of songs from Heart, Black Sabbath, Thin Lizzy and Deep Purple. After the conclusion of the long tour they set about releasing their fourth album "Grinning Like an Undertaker." This is my favorite album from the band, balancing the perfect mix of covers, hardcore and metal. I saw The Accused at the Anthrax club in Connecticut around this time, in what would be a very high energy show even for that venue. Blaine snarled with his back to the audience half the time and donned a Santa hat. The killer "Pounding Nails" and the ultimate tale of paranoid schizophrenia "Voices" appeared on this release along with a hilarious cover of The Who's "Boris the Spider." This album was released on Nastymix Records, which is funny considering it was the label of Seattle rapper Sir-Mix-A-Lot.

The 1991 EP "Straight Razor" and 1992 album "Splatter Rock" would prove to be the first swansong for The Accused. After ten years (no pun intended) they needed a break, which began an eleven-year hiatus. Tommy rented a room in Seattle and Scott McCullum asked him to join Skinyard with the now deceased Ben McMillan and other erstwhile Accused/Hot Rod Lunatics members. An older line-up of The Accused featuring Alex, Josh and Tom went on to play in Seattle band Gruntruck during the apogee of the grunge movement.

By the time 2003 rolled around, Tommy Neimeyer decided to reform The Accused. He would be the only one from the original formation, since Dana lived in Denver, Chewy died of a drug overdose and original vocalist Jon continued to work in a record store (and still does to this day). Blaine was involved in Toe Tag, Mr. Stubbs and the Carnivorous Chicken Band and Black Nasty, so he abstained from the resurrection. The waters had been tested the previous year in 2002 with the release of the five-song "Paint it Red" compilation of songs, which had a couple of unreleased tracks and The Accused's version of the Damned song "Neat Neat Neat."

2003's comeback release, "Oh Martha," was put out on their label Condar Records. They figured that at least when you release something on your own label you have the rights to it. So many of The Accused's back catalogue albums get re-released due to being out of print and some being the victims of a bankrupt label like Nastymix. The reunion was short-lived, Tommy doing the vocals himself on tracks such as "13 Letters." Nuclear Blast ended up reissuing it in 2006 as a double LP "Baked Tapes," with a 34-song archive from 1981-86. The Accused also appeared on the Louder Than Hell compilation in 2005 along with Hirax, Municipal Waste and two other bands.

The latest reunion occured in 2006 when Tommy Niemeyer returned once again with the band. He tried getting Mike Patton to join as vocalist, but he was far too busy with Mr. Bungle and instead suggested Brad Mowen from the band Sweaty Nipples - who took over the helm for awhile. It didn't last, and during more tryouts Tommy chose new vocalist Kevin Cochneuer and also added drummer Dorando Hodous to the fold. In 2007, two songs with this line-up were released on The Accused's website as mp3's - "Scotty Come Back" (Scotty is another of their mascots) and "Fuck Sorry."

Tommy still does the Martha Splatterhead art, with Stephen F. O'Malley putting it all fittingly on the CD covers. Then finally the EP "Why Even Try" was released on Condar records and later re-issued by Southern Lord, which released 2009's nineteen-song record "The Curse of Martha Splatterhead." The album came out on limited edition vinyl and contained a UK Subs cover and old tracks circa 1986. A western tour of the U.S. ensued from September to October. A split three-song release with Potbelly titled "Songs of Horror and Alcoholism" was released the following year and contained the track "Fast Zombies Rule," and in 2011 "Nasty Cuts: The Best of the Nasty Mix Years" was released for those who missed out on the out-of-print action.

Transparent Records also released "Mechanized Death," a tribute album to The Accused featuring sixteen punk bands ranging from Psychosomatic to The Pallbearers. Tommy is humbled and surprised when he hears artists such as Lamb Of God or Cannibal Corpse cite him as a musical influence, and he continues to be cutting edge. He was wowed when UK metallers Benediction covered "Wrong Side of the Grave." Tommy vowed that although older now, he would always support the new generation since he never wanted to be a 'grumpy old out of touch fucker.' He gets a kick out of younger fans telling him their fathers listened to the band.

And what about Blaine Cook? He is doing very well. Besides recently fronting Toe Tag, he wouldn't mind his old band The Fartz reuniting. Alternative Tentacles re-released the entire Fartz catalogue as three albums titled "Because this Fuckin' World Still Stinks," making him wax nostalgic. He has a quality life without exploiting anyone, he's a dad, has the same FU attitude, gets occasional strange looks and still continues to cringe whenever he sees the police. Blaine has recently fronted the killer death metal band Denial Fiend, after Terry Butler differed with original vocalist Kam Lee's version of whose band it was.

Blaine is most content to be a fixture on the West Seattle scene for other reasons. He is an entrepeneur, having opened Zippy's Giant Burgers in the White Center district a half decade ago with his wife Rahel. I've been to his restaurant, on Roxbury and 14th, which has won a couple of awards for best burger in two Seattle publications. Blaine was originally denied a permit to open a specialty soda shoppe in Pike Place Market, but now has twenty varieties of soda at his restaurant. Daring souls can get a King Lou Lou (4 beef patties and 8 slices of bacon) and they can 'man up' (add milk shake, tater tots, fries and onion rings) for ten bucks more.

Tommy and company are happy entering this decade as being part of the Namco Bandai Games 2010 remake of "Splatterhouse." In several interviews he's had on Scion A/V, he seems to be at the top of his game and welcoming what the future will bring for The Accused. New drummer Warren A. Pease has entered the band and they are currently seeking a bass player. In 2011 they toured Europe and played at festivals such as Hempfest and are currently in the process of recording some new music.

The Accused - "Slow Death" - Martha Splatterhead

The Accused - "Lonely Place" - The Return Of Martha Splatterhead

The Accused - "Halo Of Flies" - More Fun Than An Open Casket Funeral

The Accused - "I'd Love To Change The World" - Martha Splatterhead's Maddest Stories Ever Told

The Accused - "Pounding Nails (Into The Lid Of Your Coffin)" - Grinning Like An Undertaker

The Accused - "Saturday Night Special" - Straight Razor

The Accused - "Festival Of Flesh" - The Curse Of Martha Splatterhead

sonictherapy's avatar

Vicky Willis has been a freelance journalist and former college radio disc jockey for almost twenty years. She has been contributing to Metalunderground.com since 2010.

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3 Comments on "Sunday Old School: The Accüsed"

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1. Son of a Binch writes:

I'm familiar with those guys.

# Aug 12, 2012 @ 9:45 AM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
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2. sickboy38 writes:

Great article. The Accused were one of the most important bands to me when I was a lil punk/thrash kid. Good stuff.

# Aug 15, 2012 @ 7:26 AM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
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3. musicologist writes:

Yay! Love The Accused! One of the most underrated bands ever! Saw them back in the day (@ Gilman + the Stone -SF). Great indepth updates and member info. More Fun/Maddest Stories=2 absolute classic albums!

# Aug 15, 2012 @ 11:13 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address

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