black market baby

This interview, and this entire website, are all Skip Groff's fault. In the summer of '04, Skip put me in touch with Boyd, and I wheedled my way into the interview that follows. Over a two or three week period I sent him five or six questions a day, and he dutifully answered, at length. He wasn't at all perturbed by my never-ending stream of questions and comments—I swear I must've sent him a dozen last minute "final questions" as I was doing the final editting of this.

Anyway, I'm pretty happy with this interview, and if you don't like it, well, it's all Skip's fault.

Photos as credited.

bmb by jay rabinowitz
by Jay Rabinowitz

A little bit of history first—how did you get into punk rock, and what was it that finally inspired you to form a band of your own? Were you in any bands prior to Black Market Baby? Every other band member seems to have had prior experience.

Boyd: Both Mike Dolfi and myself were born in England and I have an extensive amount of family there. I had cousins come to visit and they had made tapes of the latest punk stuff, i.e. the Damned, Clash, Pistols, Stranglers, etc. etc. None of these bands had released albums yet, so it was all singles. I had already been listening to Iggy, Bowie, Ramones, Stones, and George Jones, so it all kinda fell into place. Paul Cleary and I had played in various cover bands in the 70's. We were heavily into glam and envisioned ourselves as a Mott the Hoople type rowdy rock and roll band. We could never find anybody on the same page as us. Everybody wanted to do either metal or southern rock. When punk hit we just got a couple of local guys from my neighborhood and started learning all the songs from my cousin's tape and called ourselves the Snitch. Actually, two songs from that time carried over into BMB's original set list, Born to Kill (the Damned) and Bad Boy (the Beatles). When Snitch fell apart, I went on my notorious raid of DC bands.

About how long were the Snitch together, and how was the response to the band? Did you ever record anything?

Boyd: I think it was a little over a year. The original guitar player and drummer didn't really care for the music and bailed out.

I got some other guys and we were going to change the name to the Mental Notes and that's when Keith got involved. We were pretty much a punk rock jukebox. The real punks didn't take us very seriously and my old friends that used to follow my bands came to see us at the Atlantis (later renamed the 9:30 club) and never came back. By that time I had shaved my head and was wearing bright green bowling shirts with bright red pants and white loafers (Way before Stabb!). We never did record anything. We did play with Bad Brains. Paul and I had gotten friendly with Daryl and Paul knew Earl and HR from school. They had a house they had rented and it had this huge basement. We would go over there and jam. All these little white punk kids would show up and Bad Brains would play. Kim Kane from the Slickees was always there. As the party would wind down the white kids would leave and all these scary friends of theirs would show up. By that time Paul and I would usually pass out drunk. We'd wake up with all these black guys and girls laying around on the floor and we'd be the only white boys. It was a lot of fun.

Keith Campbell joined the Snitch towards the very end, didn't he? When did you first run into Keith, was it when he was in D.Ceats or one of his earlier bands?

Boyd: Yeah, I met him in when he was in D.Ceats but I knew about him. He was around at the end of Snitch, but Keith was going to be part of whatever I did next.

He was sick of D.Ceats and all the new wave pop shit they were doing and he knew me and Paul were rockers. Paul then pulled a fast one on me and hooked up with Trenchmouth. He came back when I got Tommy Carr, cause Tommy was the shit on drums. We were sneaking into Trenchmouth's rehearsal space and rehearsing while Paul played with both bands. They didn't figure it out for a while. I think all the broken beer bottles and trash we left may have given it away. We were using their equipment and didn't even ask them. We were such assholes!

Trenchmouth went on to become Abbreviated Ceiling, didn't they? (AC did a 12" with Tommy Carr drumming—the first song on it was written by Kendall Reed while he was in the drunk tank after a BMB show).

Boyd: I think Scott Wingo played in a version of AC. He was the only member of Trenchmouth in that band. It's funny you mention Kendall Reed. He was the one guy I always wanted to get in BMB either when we replaced Keith or as a second guitarist. I always like the way he played, but he always seemed to have some legal problems going on. He would of been perfect for us.

Kendall would have made an interesting member of BMB. Just the other day I compared the two bands, saying that AC were almost the rockabilly version of Black Market Baby (I hear a huge rockabilly influence in Abbreviated Ceiling, but I seem to be the only one).

bmb's first gig by jay rabinowitz
BMB's first gig by Jay Rabinowitz

What were the circumstances surrounding the first Black Market Baby lineup? Was the formation of the band as larcenous as Dance of Days makes it out to be (pirating Tommy Carr from the Penetrators, stealing Keith Campbell from D.Ceats, shoplifting Paul Cleary, swiping Mike Dolfi, and so on)? Did you know any of the band members prior to BMB?

Boyd: Well, as I said earlier I'd been playing with Paul for a few years. We had met in 6th grade and we lived in this shitty little apartment project where we spent most of our existence trying to keep from getting beat up. In 9th grade my family moved to the burbs, but Paul and I continued to hang out. The high school Paul went to (I had already moved) also had a couple of guys attending named Earl and HR (Bad Brains). I did indeed steal everyone. I think through a process of intimidation and really being enthusiastic about what I wanted to do, it worked. I had a plan and I wanted to be the next Clash. There were a lot of bad, arty, new wave bands at the time and I felt the scene needed a band of badasses. Rock and roll is about attitude. We all had very bad attitudes and we looked better than everyone else!

Your vocal style is pretty unusual. The first time I heard the Potential Suicide 7" I was blown away because it was a coherent narrative, not a mish-mash of related scenes and obtuse imagery like most rock songs. Looking at the lyrics it's impressive just how many words you managed to fit into each song. I think that Chris D of the Flesheaters is the only person who could cram as many words into a song than you, and his songs don't make a whole lotta sense. Where'd your style come from? Any particular influences you care to name?

Boyd: Vocally my influences were Darby Crash (Germs), Paul Zone (The Fast from NYC), Alice Cooper, Bowie, Jagger. I also liked a lot of the 60's garage band singers like Mitch Ryder, Gerry Rosalie (The Sonics), and Sky Saxon (The Seeds). Lyrically, Ian Hunter was my biggest influence and The Clash inspired me to write a lot. I basically started writing because nobody else wanted to. I thought poetry was for pussies!

You've mentioned the Clash twice so far, did you see them when they played with D.Ceats at the Ontario Theater in February of 79? Did BMB or the Snitch ever do any Clash covers?

Boyd: I had tickets to that show and that night there was a horrendous ice storm and my parents wouldn't let me use the car. They knew I'd be half fucked up anyway. Probably a good call in retrospect. I did see them a year later at U of MD (the Clash, not my parents). Snitch covered White Riot.

bmb at track by jay rabinowitz
Boyd at Track by Jay Rabinowitz

In late '80 or early '81 you recorded four songs at Track. Back Seat Sally was never released. America's Youth and World At War were released almost a year later on the Connected LP and America's Youth and Crimes of Passion appeared on a single that was test pressed, but never actually released. What's the story with the Crimes of Passion 7"? How many were actually pressed, and why was the single scrapped?

Boyd: Crimes of Passion was a song I had brought with me from Snitch. It was one of my first attempts at writing. I basically hummed the whole song to the guitarist and he transposed it. I had a totally different idea about that song than what I wanted to do with BMB. I thought of it as a pop song that maybe I could get someone else to do. Keith and I also had another one called Nuthin to Me that we wanted to give to somebody else because they were too pop sounding. We started doing it live because we needed material and everyone seemed to like it. The more material we wrote, we really didn't need it anymore and by the time we had recorded it, it didn't fit with the rest of set so we dropped it from the set and didn't release it because it didn't represent what we were about. I don't know how many were pressed. I don't really care. Most of my early songs are pretty fucking bad! It's like running into my ex-wives all the time, you know you did it but you don't want to keep being reminded of it!

Then you recorded two tracks at Inner Ear with Skip Groff, Potential Suicide and Youth Crimes. Those two cuts became the first Black Market Baby tracks on vinyl, and are easily two of the best songs ever to come out of DC. How did you come to work with Skip and Limp Records? Were you happy with the finished record? I read, I think in Capitol Crisis, that the band wasn't entirely happy with the mix.

Boyd: Back then none of us really knew what we were doing in the studio. Some very good sounding records were coming out of DC at the time by Razz, Slickee Boys, and Tex Rubinowitz. At the time, we thought we should of sounded like those recordings. In hindsight, 20-odd years later, I think Skip's single captured the essence and spirit of the band. I quite like it. As I said before, we had very bad attitudes back then and we bitched about everything.

I didn't like Skip at all at first because he wrote a bad review (and rather snide) about Snitch. I had told anyone that would listen I was going to kick his ass if I ever saw him. Paul and I actually drove to his store to spend the afternoon stalking him. We eventually got bored because he wasn't paying much attention to us and went back home. We sort of got to know each other and I think he thought we were sort of entertaining in a buffoon sort of way. He tried to help us a lot in the beginning, but I think he got tired of us threatening him all the time.

bmb at track by jay rabinowitz
by Jay Rabinowitz

Just before the release of the 7" Paul Cleary left (or was kicked out?) and Mike Dolfi was brought in to replace him. Where'd you run into Mike Dolfi and what made you want him for the band? Was there any question about releasing tracks with the old lineup?

Boyd: I saw Mike in 1979 playing with a band called the Resistors at place called Madam's Organ. All of us started out there. Teen Idles, Bad Brains, Penetrators, everyone! He had an afro and was wearing platform shoes. I couldn't stop laughing at him. I stopped laughing when I heard him play. Then it turned out he was from the same neighborhood that Paul and I had lived in. Next time I saw him, he had gotten clued in about fashion and was all in black and leather. He looked like Elvis and Paul McCartney had been cell mates and he was the result!

I was already impressed by his playing and being the self serving sort I was back then, I knew he had a lot of ladies checking him out. We already had a lot of girls hanging out so I thought with him we'd have even more! "PUSSY FOR EVERYONE!" was our motto... Seriously, we were having a lot of problems with Paul and I knew he was on his way out. It was very hard for me at the time but I felt I didn't have a choice. The record had already been finished and we couldn't afford to re-do it. So we made Mike turn around when we took the group picture for the sleeve. I guess it was some sort of gesture of respect for Paul. I don't think it ever came across that way to him though.

How was BMB's relationship with the DC hardcore scene that was springing up around the time Potential Suicide was released? I know that Ian MacKaye was a big BMB fan, lamenting the usual treatment of the band, singing with you a few times, and even producing your '86 session at Inner Ear, but the only DC band who consistently boosted you guys in interviews was Iron Cross.

Boyd: It started out great. It gradually got worse, I think due to a couple of things. Number one, we got a little bit full of ourselves, which turned a lot of people off and number two, the music started to change.

We were influenced by British punk and a lot of NYC punk bands (i.e., the Dictators, Ramones, Dead Boys etc.). When the California bands started getting more popular, we didn't sound like them and that's kind of the direction the DC bands were going. We were older and definitely more old school. We liked bands like the Germs, but we probably had more in common with the Who.

Originally Ian was always right up front when we played...I think there were some petty incidents and misunderstandings that happened between the bands, but overall I always considered him a friend. He had gotten so popular and was worshiped by all these kids. I think he was kind of backed into a corner by it all and we definitely had developed an attitude about it. It was probably more jealousy than anything else. I'm glad he's done well, he's a good guy.

boyd, sab, and wendel dancing by kathy russell
Sab Grey, Boyd, and Wendel Blow dancing by Kathy Russell.

Speaking of Iron Cross, BMB and Iron Cross seem like kindred spirits. How'd you first run into Sab, Dante and their ever-changing band?

Boyd: My first recollection of Sab was being really drunk one night at Madame's Organ and this big guy jumping around, getting on my nerves. I think I pushed him or something trying to provoke him. I remember getting his face trying to start a fight and someone (it may have been Paul) grabbing me and telling me to leave him alone because he was only 15 years old. I felt like total idiot.

Anyway, I kept seeing him at all these shows and kinda went out of my way to be nice to him after making a fool out of myself earlier.

Dante always seemed pretty friendly. I don't think he had much money back them. It seemed like he was always hungry. Kinda like "are you going to eat all those fries?"

Iron Cross were good friends. By the time Paul Cleary joined them, our cold relationship had started to thaw a little bit and I thought he was a good fit with them. I still have nightmares of Sab catching gobs of spit in his mouth to this day!!

What were your feelings about straight edge and bent edge? Dance of Day's paints the band as being unwitting standard bearers for the bent edge "movement."

Boyd: I have always believed in "to each his own". When the scene got to be more about cliques and politics and not music, I totally lost interest.

boyd and scott logan at space ii arcade by Ellie Moran
Boyd and Scott by Ellie Moran

After the 7" it seemed that the only direction for the band was up, but before your next release you lost Keith Campbell. What were the circumstances around his departure, and the arrival of Scott Logan (ex-Penetrators) as his replacement?

Boyd: Without getting into specifics, we were all getting WAY too fucked up. Some worse than others. We all took turns. Usually if you got to far gone, then you were gone. I was pretty mercenary back then. I came to realize that it seriously affected our chemistry and became much more patient. Scott was more of a fill in because we knew him from the Penetrators and we liked him.

I don't think he was a good fit with BMB. Especially trying to replace Keith. Scott had his own issues too, so we got Keith back. To me BMB was always me, Keith, Tommy and Dolfi. That was the real deal.

Black Market Baby recorded a couple of songs in February of '83, including Nobody Wanted Us, the best unreleased BMB song. It definitely seems autobiographical. Were things really to the point where nobody wanted you guys in DC?

Boyd: Well, we always had a huge chip on our shoulder and after we replaced Paul with Dolfi, there was a lot of backlash from the DC punks that followed us. We had definitely come to point where our "If it feels it!" philosophy was starting to clash with the beginnings of the straight edge movement. At the time I felt they had abandoned us. Looking back we were just so different to them from the start. They were young, idealistic, nice kids, in a lot of cases from well to do families. We were older, jaded, and sort of nasty. Keith had been a biker before he seriously got into music and my friends were all these crazy redneck bastards.

We also got caught up in the whole rock-n-roll lifestyle and some of us were frankly quite rude to a lot of these kids. I think we unintentionally alienated a lot of people at that point. The clubs were afraid to book us because of our reputation and the fact that things always got damaged whenever we played. Mainly due to some of people we were hanging out with. When the scene started to splinter, the druggie, derelict punks seemed to follow us. It got so huge there were a lot of different factions. That's kinda when the bent edge shit started.

The song would also remain unreleased until 1997, when the live version from the original 9:30 Club's last hurrah was released on CD. Why did it take so long?

Boyd: I didn't feel it was up to standard. Lyrically it seemed sort of nursery-rhyme-like. It was always done sort of tongue in cheek. It was our nanny-nanny-boo-boo song! It was meant to be released in a live format.

I definitely agree that Nobody Wanted Us isn't the most sophisticated BMB lyric, but it's a great snotty punk rock song.

Boyd: That I agree with...We did it the last time we played together.

Have you heard any of the versions that Keith Campbell recorded with Jakkpot?

Boyd: Yeah, I heard it. I liked the music a lot. The vocals were good but he kept singing the same verse over and over again. If they had asked I would of gladly wrote out the lyrics for them. Keith always liked the early BMB stuff better than the later material. I, on the other hand thought it was juvenile and dumb. I wanted to move to the next level. I thought it was a weird choice, since the song written was about us. Keith also covered Analface (AKA Total Waste) with Tesco Vee's Hate Police. I hated that song too!

Sometimes I think he did these songs just to annoy me.

Suzi Dear from the Nobody Wanted Us session was released on the Bouncing Babies compilation LP on Derrick Hsu's Fountain of Youth label. How'd the deal with him come about?

Boyd: Suzi Dear was an out take from the Senseless sessions. It didn't make the final cut. Derrick had this comp he wanted to put out and that's all we had left to give him. He basically just came up and asked us if he could put it out. We knew we had no chance in hell to have it put out on Dischord, so he was the only other option. We didn't have the motivation to try and shop it around to anyone else.

What are your thoughts on the Senseless Offerings LP? You've said that the band were on the cusp of breaking up, and you thought that you should get the LP done while you could. Do you think that had an impact on the final product?

There are a few points were it sounds like the band isn't 100% into it.

Boyd: There are some moments on Senseless, but basically it wasn't well rehearsed. I don't think Scott had ever really learned his parts. In some cases (Body Count) we were learning the song right there. The kind of partying we were doing at the time also was a factor. I started thinking we needed to get Keith back during those sessions.

White Boy Funeral (off the LP) is a pretty interesting song. The image of a funeral full of insincere, dishonest mourners has been done in movies and literature before, but I think this its first appearance in song. Was it written about anyone in particular, or just taken from television?

Boyd: That was all Dolfi...I loved that song and I felt this was where we should have been headed. I was always about me being the lyricist, that song gave me a new perspective on Mike's lyrics. The imagery was excellent. He wrote it after attending a friend's funeral.

Gunpoint Affection is probably the most notorious Black Market Baby song. In Thrillseeker you said you got the idea from a movie called The Other Victim, and in No Cause For Concern you said, "The act of rape is a very brutal, graphic, violent crime and to get the point across you have to use brutal, graphic, violent description and that's pretty much what I did. After you listen to the song it leaves you with a scary feeling. I certainly don't want people thinking I'm condoning rape. It's ridiculous. I have a wife, a daughter, a mother, and a sister, all of whom I'm very close to and I wouldn't want them to go through that," which just about says it all. Do you have anything you want to add to that?

Boyd: I can see now why a lot of folks were upset about it. My wife at the time had an idea to write a song about a victim of rape after we had seen that movie. Her idea sounded like all the listener would get out of it would be a feeling of sympathy or pity. I felt to get the point across I would sing it in the first person to project the obsessive, scary behaviour that leads to the criminal act. After we first did the song, I felt a little disturbed and I knew it would affect people. Remember, I grew up listening to Dead Babies by Alice Cooper and Sympathy for the Devil. I felt like it was in that sort of genre. I never thought Mick or Alice were killing babies or worshiping the devil!

Are there any songs on the LP that you're particularly proud of?

Boyd: Definitely. Downward Christian Soldiers and This Year's Prophet. Downward damn near predicted the whole pathetic fall of the Falwell, Swaggart, PTL Club crew. I despised those people and their hypocrisy. I heard the song was featured in some christian film as an example of the satanic music kids are listening to. Good! I hope they hate us! This Year's Prophet was about calling out some of these political punk singers. They had no trouble bitching about this country or how bad society had treated them, but they were making a pretty damn good living doing it. Some of these shows the kids were like sheep and they would say the most stupid things and the kids ate it up. I remember seeing Wattie from the Exploited singing Fuck the USA and all these kids chanting right along. As someone who had chosen to be an American I was very offended. If he doesn't like it here, stay the fuck home!

Conversely, are there any that you'd be happy never to hear or talk about again?

Boyd: Nothing really bothered me off the album except the poor performance in Body Count. I do feel like if I never hear Analface or Crimes of Passion for the rest of my life, I'd be OK with that.

You mentioned a couple times now how much your early stuff is embarrassing now. There are a bunch of early BMB songs that have never been released, like You're a Motherfucker, Skinhead, and the aforementioned Analface. Does any of that stuff still appeal to you, or did you outgrow it? You recycled Analface as Total Waste on the Flipside LP, did that happen with any other songs?

Boyd: It's really only 2 or 3 songs I feel uncomfortable about. Some early songs like Can't Get a Break, Backseat Sally, America's Youth, and Potential Suicide I still love. Skinhead was a goofy attempt at Oi music. The lyrics were based on my cousin's stories of his days as a football hooligan in England. He was hanging with these National Front guys and it all sounded sort of glamorous. Being young and impressionable. I wrote the song...It was a football cheer with verses. I felt like Analface was a childish name for a song, so I renamed it Total Waste. Keith changed it back when he covered it with Tesco.

I think I took myself too seriously back then. It should be called Analface. I went through a stage where I was starting to think of myself as more of poet. That was my first mistake! Same thing with You're a Motherfucker, I didn't write it (Keith did) but I really liked the song and I felt it would never get airplay with that title. So I changed it to Just Like All the Others. Keith and Tommy refused to call it that and would always yell, "The song's called Motherfucker!" into the mike after I would introduce as Just Like All the Others.

Now that I know what You're A Motherfucker was turned into, I can definitely see that "stab me in the back / you're a motherfucker" is a better fit than "stab me in the back / you're justlikealltheothers." Somehow I don't think either version got much airplay...

mike donegan, boyd farrell, and tommy carr by karen farrell
Big hair strikes back! by Karen Farrell

After Senseless Offerings there was a little upheaval, Keith Campbell replacing Scott Logan, Mike Donegan replacing Mike Dolfi, and even Tommy Carr was making some noises about leaving. What prompted the changes?

Boyd: Mike and I had a falling out, he thought I was being an egotistical jerk and I thought he was being an insecure jerk. Basically he got mad and quit. He says we kicked him out, but I remember him quitting. At this point we were all bickering and fighting. Somebody was always leaving or threatening to quit. Tommy actually left for awhile at this point too. We replaced him with Adrian Ossea (the drummer from White Boy) and Adrian knew this guy from a local record store who played bass in a hair metal band. We jammed with him and he was awesome. AND he had great fuckin' hair! The guy was Mike Donegan.

Adrian was a great guy to hang out with but he had been a junkie and was trying to stay clean. He relapsed a couple of times and we asked Tommy back.

Adrian died a couple years later from an overdose. Tommy jammed with us and really liked Donegan, so he came back.

Was Keith eager to come back to the band, or did he take some convincing? Had he been in any bands in the meantime?

Boyd: I think Keith knew it was only a matter of time before he came back. He came out and watched us rehearse a couple of times. He always had a little smirk on his face when Scott would make a mistake or play a song the wrong way. He really didn't join any other band but I think he was playing with Switchblade on a informal basis at that time. Switchblade were a rockabilly band made up of Tex Rubinowitz's former backup band the Bad Boys. He came back and it was never said, but I always felt his attitude was like "I told you so."

Where did you run into Mike Donegan? I don't know squat about what he did before or after Black Market Baby, just that he played bass for you in '86.

Boyd: As I said before, I met him through Adrian. He had no prior history in DC punk bands. He was suburban metalhead. I think he lives in Richmond, VA now and last time I saw him he was playing songs on acoustic guitar, sort of a hippie type. He was a really sweet guy. I used to call him Casper cause he was so fuckin' friendly to everyone!

The period from 85-86 is a blind spot for me. What was going on with the band?


Just kidding...There wasn't a lot of demand for us at this point. I had met my soon to be second wife and was on my love cloud and I really was more into spending time with her than the band. We did a few shows, but the kids were getting younger and the music was even more thrash and speed than before. I thought we were becoming relics of the past.

boyd and ian by kim gregg
Boyd and Ian by Kim Gregg

I know you recorded about 16 songs with Ian MacKaye at the Inner Ear in August of 86. Was there a label behind that, or were you guys doing it on spec? Did you record it for the same reason you did Senseless Offerings—the band was about to split, so it was now or never?

Boyd: Yeah, I think it was kind of a last gasp. There was no label behind it. We were always recording stuff, thinking we would shop it around. We were too damn lazy!! I guess we figured some record executive would fly in to see us and realize we were the next big thing and sign us to a billion dollar contract. The recording projects extended our time together and gave us a reason to keep practicing.

Song for song, the Nothing Lasts session (as it's known) may be the best thing the band recorded—aside from Back Seat Sally, every track matches or surpasses your earlier material. Even the new recordings of the 7" are great. Why wasn't it released?

Boyd: Well, we did have interest from JEM. I think we'd just kind of given up at that point and it just sat there until Bitzcore contacted me. I'd asked Jeff Nelson about putting it out as a retrospective on Dischord, but they weren't interested.

What prompted you to cover Drunk and Disorderly? Aside from the fact that it's a great song, of course. Was it in the live set, or just a spur of the moment thing?

Boyd: I always loved that song. It should have been a BMB song. I liked it more than a lot of our original material. It was always in the set. It always got people fired up when we played it live...

Parasite is a great slow song, something really sums up the mood and tone of the session—there are still some upbeat, good-time songs (like Out of My League, the best frustrated love song ever), but there's a lot more cynicism and despair present: Nothing Lasts, Just Like All The Others, and Can't Get a Break. Were you in a bad mood, or am I just getting the wrong idea from the songs?

Boyd: As I said earlier, our personalities were sort of jaded, cynical and sometimes nasty. I think it was reflected in the music. I liked Out of My League but it was sort of us going in a different direction, trying something new. I was never that crazy about Parasite. It was a little too avant garde for my tastes. I used to call it the Dance of the Crab!

Was Parasite written about anything in particular? It's a great song. My first thought was that it was about John Lennon, but on second listen it could be almost anyone, from Elvis to Kurt Cobain to JFK to Ronald Reagan. The vultures are always circling.

Boyd: It was indeed written about John Lennon after I read the Goldman book. It could have been about any celebrity death.

Nothing Lasts seems like a sequel to Nobody Wanted Us (now THAT would be a single). Could you see the end coming when you wrote it, or was it just an acknowledgment that everything's gotta end sooner or later?

Boyd: Yeah, It was a little bit of both. Sort of a farewell jab. Don't take success for granted.

I know that the band was going to split in '86, but decided to stick with it when JEM expressed some interest in signing you guys. What was that experience like?

Boyd: Howard Wuelfing (Ex-Slickee Boy, Nurse, and Washington Post writer) was working with JEM and he got them interested in us, more as a favor to him. We hired a lawyer made a bunch of demands and basically scared them off. I think they wanted our publishing rights and we said no. It went back and forth for a while and Tommy got tired of it and left for the final time.

Does knowing that JEM went bankrupt, taking dozens of independent labels they were distributing with them, change your view of the situation?

Boyd: It was unfortunate, but I was so burned out on BMB by that time, I really didn't care anymore.

You guys finally did break up, playing your last show in January of 1988. What was it like to see BMB finally end?

Boyd: I think it was just time for it to end. Everything had really changed. I was newly married (second time) and starting to grow up. The band just wasn't as important to me as it was before.

Did any incarnation of Black Market Baby manage to tour?

Boyd: No, not really... we would do an extended weekend up to New York or Philly or down south to Richmond or even as far as North Carolina. I had a kid (and later another) and I was working a regular job for defense/aerospace contractor. I couldn't take the time off. That's one of the big reasons we broke up the first time. When we would do a weekend show on the road, we would argue and fight a lot. It wasn't a pleasant experience, at least not for me. We would do these shows and then not speak to each other for a month or so.

There were some posthumous Black Market Baby releases, starting with a single track on the Odd Man Out compilation 7" in mid-88. Was the compilation supposed to be posthumous, or did it just take longer than expected to come out?

Boyd: I had nothing to do with that. Keith gave it to them because we had all this recorded stuff laying around and I guess we wanted to put it out one way or another. Same with the Bitzcore releases.

shatterbox by karen farrell
Shatterbox by Karen Farrell

You started a band called Shatterbox after BMB 1988 breakup. Did that go anywhere?

Boyd: I started that band with Paul Cleary. We did a demo and some big shows (we opened for the Ramones and Living Colour) but it didn't last long. A lot of the issues I had with Paul before resurfaced, at least this time he was sober.

Were you involved in any other musical projects after Black Market Baby, or between the reunions?

Boyd: The only one of note was my beloved Vile Geezers. They were a band and I started with Keith Campbell. He didn't stay very long. It wasn't punk enough for his tastes. It was basically a really raunchy bar band, very Stonesy sounding, half original and half covers. We'd do anything from Lou Reed to Hank Williams, done in our own style of course!

We lasted from about 1991 to 1995. Most of the members were musician friends of mine. The guitar players were always changing. We had Harley from the Scream with us for awhile and Norman from Factory (he also played with Link Wray), Bill McClench and my very good friend Gene Wilcox (he was also in Shatterbox) who died a few years later. The bass player was Mike Crosson from the Penetrators. He and I were also very close and he died not to long after Gene. After the two of them passed away, I basically stopped playing altogether, except for the BMB reunions. We did a CD which I still love to this day. I feel some of my best stuff was on that CD. I never enjoyed playing in a band as much as I did with those guys. I always said if we hadn't been a band, we would have been a team on bowling league somewhere...I should also mention Tavo Conti played drums in case he reads this! WHAS' UP TAVO!

vile geezers by karen farrell
Vile Geezers by Karen Farrell

Sadly enough, the most productive years for Black Market Baby were 1990 and '91, three years after you split. There were two and a half 7"s released on Yesterday and Today, a reish of the Potential Suicide 7", a pairing of Drunk and Disorderly with Just Like All The Others, and a split 7" with the Bad Brains. How'd that come about? Were you happy with the finished products?

Boyd: I don't remember the details, I think Skip just said he wanted to re-release them and I said fine. At least it was keeping the name out there. It sounded pretty much the same to me...It seemed more like a historical document to me.

There were also two LPs released on Bitzcore, Baby Takes and Baby on Board. How do you feel about them? It seems kind of strange to split the Senseless Offerings LP across two records, and pair the previously released material with stuff that no one's heard.

Boyd: I only wanted them to release 12 songs off the master...The guy turned around and released everything without my permission.

The original Baby Takes album was done with my consent. The Baby on Board album was Bitzcore pulling a fast one. It pissed me off.

1991 also saw two scummy bootlegs, a split 7" with the Outpatients and a 10" of the Nothing Lasts session. Do you have anything you'd like to say about bootleggers, or just to those particular bootleggers?

Boyd: I'm not sure what the "Nothing lasts" session was. These things would appear out of the blue and in some cases were rehearsal tapes recorded from a boombox. I think they were all pretty awful. The only one that I recall that was half way decent was a tape we made live in the studio at Tommy's brother's place. That was going around as the "Uncle Boyd" tape. I think Ian had made a bunch of copies. I have no problem with bootleggers, but it's not like I'm making my living playing and recording music.

boyd at the 930's last blast by karen farrell
Farewell to the 9:30 by Karen Farrell

In '95 the band reformed. Was that just to play at the 9:30's closing, or were there more gigs?

Boyd: It started out to play the 9:30 show, but I think we really enjoyed playing together again. I split with my second wife in '96 and had all this time on my hands, so we got the band back together to see what would happen. We did some shows and recorded a load of songs, but it kind of lost momentum. A lot of the same old problems were starting to develop again.

In '97 (I think) 007 released two new songs on 7", an original called Bloodstreet Boys, and a New York Dolls cover. Were the band a serious proposition at that point, or were things more relaxed?

Boyd: We tried, we just couldn't sustain it. The single came out after we disbanded, yet again...

I've heard you recorded an LP called Dirty Diapers at the same time as the 7". True? False? Any chance of it being released?

Boyd: True...Durty Diapers were the songs we recorded when we first got back together. It was never mastered. Tom Lyle produced most of it and I think we drove him nuts. The single Bloodstreet Boys b/w It's Too Late are from that session.

I'd like to see it released. There our some excellent songs on the tape. There our also some that would probably not appeal to a lot of our fans. We went in a different direction on some songs.

Crimes of Passion, your favorite BMB song, was re-released in 2000 on 7". Were you involved in that at all?

Boyd: What do you think! No, of course not. I think Keith, Dolfi and Dave Champion put their collective heads together on that one and hooked up with 007. I still haven't listened to it!

Mike's been talking about a Black Market Baby reunion with Tommy Carr and an as-yet-unnamed guitarist. Are things moving along?

Boyd: It's something that's been discussed, but that's all at this point. In a perfect world we would love to do it with Keith. Well, nothing's perfect and Keith is MIA...Phone home, Geezer!!!

Are there any Black Market Baby releases or re-releases in the future? Almost all your stuff's out of print again, and even the Bitzcore and YAT reissues are starting to command collector's premiums.

Boyd: If somebody makes us a decent offer, then yes. If not, I'm not going to worry about it. I got my memories.

Are there any questions I should have asked but didn't? Anything you've been doing outside the music world that folks should know about?

Boyd: It's about time you asked! Mike Dolfi and I have a new band called RUSTBUCKiT. If you liked BMB you'll love this. We have already recorded a CD of new tunes we'd like to release someday. It's a grown up version of BMB. Mike plays guitar and it really rocks! Sort of metallic Stooges punk.

I'm now married for the third time to a gal named Tunde who was part of the old DC punk scene (she was a bartender at Poseurs in Georgetown) we have 5 kids between us. We are building a house on the water in Annapolis and I'm not nearly so angry anymore. Who'd of thunk it?

And what's hopefully the last question goes back to the beginning—where'd the name Black Market Baby come from?

Boyd: Keith got it from the 70's movie of the same name...We thought it was sort a snide way to say, anything is negotiable...Even something as precious as a human life. Nothing is sacred... I always hated that fuckin' name, but that's another story.

I guess that's about it. It's been great interviewing you.

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© Dementlieu 2005

Photos © 2005 respective artists