This was the first legit band I was in. The KC music scene in the mid-’90s was split between punk rock (The Breakups, Sex Offenders, 110 Volts) and, for lack of a better term, art rock (Boys Life, Secular Theme, Giants Chair). Those who know me now are frequently surprised to learn that despite my obvious affinity with the latter—especially Quitter’s Club and Bastro—I was a drummer for the seminal KC pop-punk band The Breakups. The initial line-up was Benji King, Aaron Erisman, Mike Alexander and Thomas Becker, which, if memory serves me right, began sometime in 1994. I remember there being a major blow-out between Aaron and Mike in mid-’95, maybe the throwing of some instruments was involved, and at that point Mike and Thomas left the band.
Now, I had been to nearly every Breakups show up until that point, even hung out at practices and knew all the songs, so, despite my age (15) and relative inexperience, I was a shoe-in for the role of drummer. Some searching ensued and Aaron came up with fellow Raytownian Dave Crawford to take Mike’s place. The Dokken-inspired guitar licks were gone, but the band retained its straight-ahead, pop-punk style. Dave’s roots in old school country music would occasionally come out in tunes like “My Cousin’s Got the Big Ones (and I Don’t Know What To Do).” Shows got pretty crazy: we drew a good crowd every night and there were often fights (Wyco vs. whoever), in the middle of which Benji or Aaron could sometimes be found. Aaron also liked to take his pants off and Dave, a life-long professional wrestling fan, frequently taunted the crowd with insults and threats that could only be delivered better by The Nature Boy himself. At a special VFW hall show Dave had it out in the parking lot with Widowmaker from the notorious Lawrence band Cocknoose. Folding chairs and shopping carts were used in ways never intended and I’m pretty sure both of them ended up covered in blood (the old razor blade to the forehead trick)…
Check out Dave’s interview published in the CMSU paper:
While I was in the band we had two official recording dates. The first was at Red House (later bought by the Get Up Kids who changed the name to Black Lodge) with EJ Rose where we tracked “Drew Barrymore,” “Mud Slingin’,” and “Forever, For Now” (with Thomas on rhythm guitar). The first two songs came out on the Woundup Records split 7″ with Sex Offenders, the third was featured on the ill-named KC ‘Hardcore’ Compliation Vol. 1 (with Cretin 66, Switchstance and Sex Offenders).
The second session was with Brad Whittaker at Egoless Studio and to my knowledge none of the songs recorded were ever released:
Shortly after the Egoless date, I showed up late to practice and Benji decided he didn’t want me in the band anymore. Because he never talked to me directly I never got a straight answer as to exactly why, but I heard various reasons over the years (I didn’t wear a leather jacket, I wasn’t punk enough, I wasn’t dedicated enough, I lived too far away, etc.) At the time Dave and Aaron were both upset enough with Benji to say that if he wanted me out they were out too, which I felt was a nice gesture on their part. However, eventually they each later rejoined the band with Benji’s good friend from Wyco, Caleb, on drums.
I will always remember with great fondness the shows we opened for The Queers, The Smugglers, and Propaghandi, not to mention all the crazy house parties we played. I’ve scanned a handful of old show flyers that can be seen on my Flickr account.
Although it was an ego-crusher, getting kicked out of this band worked out really well for me. Thomas, at that time playing with another pop-punk band from Kansas called the Nuclear Family, was about to move to California for school. A few phones calls were made and there I was again, picking up where Thomas left off. But that’s another story…
Tags: Aaron Erisman, Benji King, Dave Crawford, Mike Alexander, Thomas Becker