It was the early eighties; Punk Rock had come to Hollywood, it was all over the clubs on the Strip, and it was branching out to surrounding cities and neighborhoods. It then worked its way in to the beach cities of Los Angeles and Orange County .The first local bands from the West Side that I knew of to make a name for them selves were The Germs, then Suicidal Tendencies. Then from Hermosa Beach were Black Flag and The Circle Jerks. Social Distortion, TSOL; a long with many other bands came out of Orange County. Minor Threat & Bad Brains were on the East Coast. A lot of shits that Beowulf liked came out of England such as GBH, Sex Pistols, Discharge, and Motorhead. They grew up listening to Lynyrd Skynard, Judas Priest, AC/DC, Thin Lizzy, and shit like that. In the early eighties, Dale Henderson, Mike Jensen, Paul Yamada, & Michael Alvarado were barely students at Venice High School; they were also musicians starting to form a band called Beowulf.
Beowulf started out as Black Sheep, playing the 9th grade student picnic at Mark Twain Jr. High School.
They played more backyard parties then one could remember. These parties usually came to an end much earlier than planned, due to hostility, violence, and alcohol. The police and/or riot squads would inevitably shut these parties down without hesitation. Beowulf also started playing clubs and halls while still enrolled at Venice High School. They sold out The Troubadour in Hollywood before graduating or being kicked out of High School. A lot of their shows ended the same way as the parties. The night of The Troubadour show, Beowulf never even got on stage due to a riot that had shut down the club earlier that night. There were similar Uprisings at The Country Club in Reseda, when Beowulf was on stage; Madame Wong’s in China town while Beowulf was on stage opening up for Slayer. The club was shut down and Slayer never took the stage. All the local police departments got very familiar with Beowulf and their shows.
Beowulf would rehearse at Michael Alvarado house; Larry Flynt’s Lawyer lived across the street from him. Every once in a while, the Lawyer would tell them how much he liked some of their songs and never complained about the volume like the other neighbors did. One day he asked Michael if his band would play at a birthday party for his wife, they said they would so he gave them the information along with the address. The day of the party, they piled in to their trucks and headed for Bel Air, a very affluent area of Los Angeles. When arriving at a huge mansion behind the Bel Air gates, they realized that the party was actually taking place at Larry Flynt’s Mansion.
They were met at the front gate of the mansion by security dressed in black suits, fully armed. The security went through all of their equipment with a fine toothcomb before letting them in. Beowulf played a few bluesy covers before all of the aging party members left and made their way to the other side of the mansion. The Lawyer came out and gave them $500 and said, “Fuck those people, you guys were Great!” Then he told the band and their roadies that they were welcome to stay and eat and drink. The band and their roadies ate and drank as fast as the Butlers could bring out the food and the drinks. It wasn’t long before one of the roadies got rowdy and out of control. Beowulf and their crew were asked to leave. On the way out of the mansion, Motley Crue pulled up in a limo and went in. Hey, this was about 1984.
One of the first shows before Beowulf’s first record came out, was at The Balboa Theater. They were having a Battle of the Bands contest/show. Beowulf was on the bill with approximately eight other bands. Beowulf played the tightest and had the most energetic show that night. They won The Battle of the Bands and took home the $500.00 first place prize money.
In 1985 Mike Muir of Suicidal Tendencies approached Beowulf, he asked them to be on a compilation L.P. he was going to release on Suicidal Records called Welcome to Venice. Welcome to Venice was to also feature Suicidal Tendencies, No Mercy, and Excel and be released that year. Beowulf played on a few road shows in Northern California with Suicidal Tendencies and the other bands on the compilation, No Mercy and Excel. Beowulf’s following began to increase dramatically from their appearance on the Welcome to Venice L.P in 1985. In 1986 Mike Muir released Beowulf’s debut L.P. on his label Suicidal Records. That record contained hits such as Taste The Steel, Americanism, and Drink, Fight, Fuck. These songs describe the bands right out of High School attitude and their street life style. Drink, Fight, Fuck was an anthem.
Beowulf was asked to play a few bigger local shows at the time. The Balboa Theater in Los Angeles and Fender’s Ballroom in Long Beach was a couple of the main venues. They played with bands such as Suicidal Tendencies, The Descendants, D.R.I., Nuclear Assault, The Cro-Mags, C.O.C., and many others while promoting their debut L.P. While recording they had Mike Muir in the studio with them everyday, Pamela Neil and the band, they had all worked hard recording the first album. It took a couple of weeks to mix and record and finally have mastered.
After the recording was finished they asked Michael Seiff, a local Santa Monica artist do the album cover artwork.