Rebel Returns: Mickey DeSadist’s Weird World

Just because Artvoice got rid of anything worth keeping on their website, doesn’t mean these classic interviews have to die! Here is an interview I did with Mickey DeSadist, frontman for Canadian classic band the Forgotten Rebels prior to a 2014 performance in Buffalo. You can see my extended interview with DeSadist below, where we talk Tim Horton’s and pro wrestling, among other topics. Enjoy!

By KIP DOYLE

It’s been over 22 years since he’s played in Buffalo, but Forgotten Rebels front man Mickey DeSadist has fresh memories of the Nickel City and it’s old punk rock club, the Continental, which closed in 2005.
“Well, it was a pretty dark neighborhood, but I liked it. What can I say, I always liked playing there. The only thing I didn’t like (was) that we would start playing at 2:30 in the morning and finish up at 4. Yeah, that’s a little late,” DeSadist said.
Hamilton, Ontario’s Forgotten Rebels are anticipated to go on much earlier than 2:30 a.m. when they return to city on October 18 for the first time since 1992.

DeSadist, whose stage persona lands him somewhere between The Grand Wizard of Wrestling, Johnny Rotten and a cocksure stand-up comedian, also has some personal history in Buffalo.

“I think I almost met my wife in Buffalo. Very many years ago, (my) first time at the Continental. And she heard some band from Hamilton was playing, and she was upstairs dancing. And as soon as they took down the pole… I’m only kidding! She was upstairs dancing, she heard someone mention Hamilton, she came downstairs, and I guess we met.”

Stark sarcasm and a cynical charm have been common threads in the Rebels’ catalog, which dates back to 1978. The Rebels may be Canada’s most historically prolific punk band, consistently playing out and evolving while staying true to their glam-influenced roots with each recording, although the band’s output has slowed since the 1990s.

“I was trying to form a band and I could hardly play, and the two albums I constantly listened to were Iggy and the Stooges’ Raw Power and Mott The Hoople Live. And I figured a cross between that would be a great band. So I just kept listening to that, over and over again, all the time. And, you know, I ran into some guys (to play with) that were into KISS or something like that. You know, they’d be okay…

That’s what basically happened, we kept on running into people we were partying with and when somebody would leave the band, for whatever reason, we would find someone from our own crowd (to join) that’s already a fan and hanging around.”

DeSadist has been the one constant member out of 24 players since the formation of the band. Without screaming, DeSadist’s snotty vocals, catchy songwriting and dark wit scream punk’s early abrasive attitude. The Rebels reached their peak commercially when they signed to major label EMI in the mid-1980s. Three albums, music videos, major tours and promotion would follow, but DeSadist never anticipated that the Rebels would gain mainstream popularity.

“Well, I figured that we weren’t going to be huge stars, because the general public is too stupid to acknowledge true talent. I’m just amazed… you know the David Bowie album Ziggy Stardust? Well, I heard the album and I bought it the moment I heard it. I went into a panic thinking it would be deleted very fast because it was actually too good to be released to the public. Like, it was too good for the public to accept (just) like Raw Power was too good for the public to accept.”

Perhaps button-pushing songs like “Bomb The Boats (And Feed The Fish),” “Bomb Russia” and “A.I.D.S” had something to do with the Rebels ceiling of public acceptability, although it appears that DeSadist was just trying to get a rise out of the politically correct punk crowd of the 1980s.

“Yeah, we did that to goof around for publicity. They’d misunderstand, a few of them got it, a few of them didn’t,” he said. “In general, it was all in fun, anyways.”

Still, DeSadist doesn’t feel that the Forgotten Rebels have been forgotten with time.

“We are already remembered, we’ve already made history. We are footnotes in history, and I figured we would be. We opened for The Clash, we opened for The Ramones three times, Iggy, The Cramps, Jeffrey Lee Pierce… We went on tour with Ian Hunter and Mick Ronson, you know, so we know we are remembered sometime, somewhere,” he said.

DeSadist anticipates seeing some familiar faces from the band’s Continental days at this Saturday’s show, which features local openers Bo-Bo, Wolf Tickets and Johnny Revolting.

“Just expect a pure, good show. That’s what it is. They’ll get what they think they are going to get, that’s all that I can say. They might not get every song that they want to hear because it’s impossible to play 11 albums worth, (but) they’ll get a great punk show, a great rock and roll show.”


The Forgotten Rebels make their return to Buffalo October 18 at the Town Ballroom. Tickets are $18 presale and $20 at the door. Doors open at 7 p.m.

PART TWO – Q&A

Thank goodness for bands like the Forgotten Rebels, the long running Canadian punk group that never seemed to get their due. They kept punk rock fun, funny and offensive and they are still doing it today. The Rebels are coming back to Buffalo for the first time in 22 years when they play the Town Ballroom on Oct. 18.
Front man supreme Mickey DeSadist and the gang will pick from a mischievously offensive yet oh-so listenable catalog that goes back to their first 1978 demo. There are so many classics to pick from: “Surfin’ On Heroin,” “Me Generation,” “Live Strippers In Action.” Check out this fantastic album, “This Ain’t Hollywood” if you would like some convincing.
The Forgotten Rebels are one of the first punk bands I remember hearing blast from my older brother’s room down in the basement.
“Let’s go back to Vietnam! Once again for Uncle Sam!”
I didn’t really understand what that meant, but it sounded cool.
So it was a treat to talk to Mickey for a feature article in this week’s Artvoice. Take a look if you haven’t seen it yet. However, Mickey and I talked about a few other things that didn’t make it to press, including an extensive talk about his love of pro wrestling growing up, the state of rock and roll and his conflicted feelings about Tim Horton’s.


I’ve saved it here for you — some really interesting stuff from one of the most entertaining punk singers to ever rock. Enjoy!

Always B. Rocking (ABR): I know you are a big wrestling fan. Tell me about how you got into pro wrestling growing up?
MICKEY DESADIST: We had a store called “Gilbert’s Big and Tall,” and there was a television center across the road where they filmed wrestling. We had the original Sheik wrestling in Hamilton so often when I was a little kid, and the wrestlers used to go buy suits and “Gilbert’s Big and Tall” because it was directly across the road from where they filmed it.
We had Spidell’s Gym, Dewey’s Gym… and guys like Bruno Sammartino and Nikita Koloff and Ivan Koloff would work out here. We are halfway between Toronto and Buffalo, so they would televise the pre-show bouts from Hamilton and the major matches would be in Buffalo, Detroit, Toronto and Madison Square Gardens.

ABR : You sound like you could write a book about that time period.
MD: Well, yeah, because that was the formative years of wrestling, you know. I met Tony Parisi in Hamilton, I met Pampero Firpo. I actually met Abdullah Farooq, the Sheik’s manager, and I shook hands with him when everyone was too scared to walk up to the guy.
You know how they hold posters up with the wrestlers’ names? We were at the Hamilton Forum when wrestling was being filmed, and we had a big sign that said, “Ernie Ladd is #1.” And the commentator came down and ripped it out of our hands. Ernie Ladd… with his jacket that said, “Promises, Promises” on it.

ABR : Do you think that you snagged from of that bravado or stage presence from pro wrestling and used it in the Forgotten Rebels?
MD: Oh, yeah learned how to deal with the early interviews by watching guys like Gene Kiniski and Ernie Ladd, or Chris Tolas from the Greek Wrecking Crew… he lived in Hamilton, he lived down the road from me at one time. Kurt Von Hess, one of the world tag team champions with Eric The Red, he lived around the corner from me, and so did Billy “Red” Lyons, right in my neighborhood. Dewey Robertson… my mother-in-law hired the Missing Link to go with her to collect a loan.

What do you think of today’s pro wrestlers?
I think a lot of these guys are a bunch of jumping beans, they don’t act like they’re fighting, they are just goofing off. My favorite guys are like Bray Wyatt and Roman Reigns, who actually look like they are doing something. The Shield were my favorite, and Dean Ambrose is my favorite of The Shield. I think he’s going to be the next Roddy Piper.

If Mickey got to get in the ring and just do one move one time what would you do?
One move? I’d use a foreign object to beat Russev.

Gene Simmons recently caused a stir by claiming that “rock is dead,” more or less claiming that the old school formula for a band to reach stardom doesn’t exist. Do you agree with this assessment?
I won’t say I agree 100 percent, but let’s say I agree 60 percent. Because, I think that now you can’t have a band that gets rich by just selling records and not touring. Now, it’s got to be a working band that always tours.
It’s not like you can start a band while you’re working somewhere and then all of a sudden sell a ton of records and then go around, “Because you sold all those records, now you can quit your job.”
Like, the new punk bands, good playing as they are, it’s a fashion and it’s actually a formula where, maybe they get someone to write songs for them the way that pop bands do? It’s like a production figure, in a factory, you get told what product to make by the end of the day. I don’t want to put anyone down, what’s that Nickelback, bands like that.

I know you are a big fan of Tim Horton’s. Are you as annoyed as I am that Tim Horton’s is working in cahoots with Burger King to create a so-called “merger” so Burger King can avoid American taxes and fees?
I don’t particularly like Burger King. I love Tim Horton’s. You know, on the average, I’m tired of people being paid shit wages. The people who run those places, they should be selling insurance or be property managers in the slums if they want to pay their employees that shit. And if a company leaves America to go to Canada, I guess it’s better that they go to Canada then to go to China, isn’t it?

It just sullies my opinion of Tim Horton’s a little too, because I like Tim Horton’s.
You like your Timbits? Yeah, I’ve met a few of the members of the Rebels at the beginning hanging around Tim Horton’s doing nothing…
Tim Horton’s, why would you even bring up Tim Horton’s? I go to Tim Horton’s maybe once a day. Oh, you know what? The first Tim Horton’s ever created was across the road from the YWCA, which was the first place the Rebels ever had a gig.

You’ve been a part of the Hamilton scene for a long time, and you even have a club named after a Forgotten Rebels’s album there (“This Ain’t Hollywood”). What is the state of rock and roll in Hamilton? Should Buffalonians be crossing the border to check it out?
We had the Angry Samoans play there (recently). We had Johnny Winter just before he passed away, Walter Lure from the Heartbreakers comes down once a year to play. It’s pretty cool, it’s a good club to hang out at. It’s sort of like what the Continental was, just not as big.

Will we see any new material from the Forgotten Rebels soon?
One of these days we will make a new album. We usually take a long time, but we will probably be bringing some copies of the live album, and my solo album with us on CD. I think my live and solo album should be purchased by anybody who likes the Forgotten Rebels for the history. With the live album you’ll get what you see. The show will be something like the live album. My solo album would be what you figure I would do, you know?

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