Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Orange County Punk Rock: Jerry Roach and the Cuckoos Nest! 

"The pigs were really heavy... they carried mugshots of punks -- guilty of being a punker! If you looked funny, they'd take your picture and you went on a sheet. I felt bad for those (OC) kids."

-- Mike Watt of the Minutemen on playing the Cuckoos Nest in Costa Mesa.

The Cuckoos Nest was a night club in an industrial / business area at the end of the Newport Beach freeway in Costa Mesa. In law and order Orange County, circa 1980, the "Nest" was really the only mainstay venue that hosted "Punk-style" or even "New Wave" groups. In the beginning you could see a bill that consisted of The Chiefs, The Crowd, Eddie & The Subtitles one night, and The Zippers, UXA, Redd Kross, and TSOL the next. As the club grew in reputation and popularity, nearly every cutting-edge 80s act, including The Ramones, Iggy Pop, Black Flag, and the Damned, ventured into Costa Mesa to play the Nest.

Club owner Jerry Roach booked the bands and dealt with the cops, who invariably descended on the Nest. The club shared a parking lot with Zubies Cowboy Bar & Grill, and this unlikely arrangement would bring violent consequences. It was not uncommon to witness a late-night fight between a kid with green hair and combat boots and some shit-kicker in a cowboy hat and Nocona boots outside the Nest. Since the doors of both establishments faced one another, the brawls were almost inevitable. Indeed, The Vandals wrote "Urban Struggle" about the legendary battles between the punks and the cowboys. Casey Royer talks of beer and cowboys at the Cuckoos Nest in a new documentary titled We Were Feared.

By late 1980, the fun and violence was gaining media attention. Here's a great 10-minute piece on Jerry Roach and So Cal punk rock. Some footage may be from The Starwood, probably early 1981.

The Legend of Pat Brown is born February 2, 1981 at the Cuckoos Nest.

The incident was immortalized later that year when the Vandals', The Legend of Pat Brown, appeared on their debut release, Peace Thru Vandalism.

The following 30-50 second clips are from the newly re-released Urban Struggle: The battle of the Cuckoos Nest, now on DVD.

Jerry decides to make a movie.

Jerry on OC punks and Disneyland.

Jerry thinks of quitting!

Jerry's philosophy on punk music.

More to come...