In my younger days, I used to be affiliated with the underground metal scene in Champaign-Urbana. In the partying, drinking and recreational times, I had many run-ins with a guy named “Brother Rich.” Brother Rich Berg was the lead singer of a band called Hate Choir back in the 90s. He was also a visionary, always having new ideas to promote himself or others in the scene — especially the hardcore, speed-metal bands. It was then in 1996 when Brother Rich released the best album ever, Loco Diablo Local Underground Compilation Vol. 1.
This was actually a compilation album, but was one of the first to really showcase the not-so-mainstream rock scene Champaign had. LDLUCv1 had it all: punk, rock, industrial, ska and even a gentle acoustic ballad. The packaging was so basic, a cardboard sleeve with artwork depicting skulls and hypodermic needles. I don’t know what that was supposed to mean. Skulls like needles? I dunno.
Tracks 1 through 10 features the band The Great Experiment. I have no information as to where they were from, who they were, or why the hell they had 10 tracks on the disc! They kick the album off with a short 0:41 second song called “Brainwashed 1.” Their magnum opus, “Fascists,” sums up the band as a whole and shows their diverse range as a band. I would really like to know where this band went. They could have really set the world on fire with their rock. They make the album worth buying.
The next band we hear is a Champaign band called 7G. I don’t know if the name is a reference to The Simpsons, or maybe there were seven guys in the band named Greg. Who knows? Their recordings were a little quiet, but the message in their rocking tune “Die Slower” was loud as ever: “Diiiiiiiiiiieeeeeeee slooooooooooower, get a little oooolder!” I think later on they packed up their gear and moved to Chicago to get their music heard or something. I really hope they didn’t.
Tolono’s Blessed With Pain hits heavy on this comp with “Fatal Affection.” I was really surprised to see that this band is still around. They’ve gone through some lineup changes in recent years, but they produce the same sound they did 12 years ago. The lead singer quit a few years ago to cook the best bar-b-que in town over at Radmaker’s.
Groove metal band Geartooth also makes an appearance as one of three bands from Rantoul, IL with “Grinding Gears.” Who knew a place people call “Rantucky” had so much talent? Those who know their local music trivia know that Geartooth later became known as Brother Embassy when yours truly took the frontman role of the band and got hip to the funk. How in the hell did they go from this to that?
Before Aaron Lewis made a certain band famous, there was local grunge group Stained. Don’t even try to google these guys. You won’t find them. I think they were from Gilman, IL and the lead singer had a voice eerily similar to Lane Staley. Back in Napster’s heyday and around the time of the singer’s death, I made one of my first internet hoaxes by renaming this band’s song as an “unreleased” Alice In Chains track. It worked…for a while. Enjoy their contribution, “I Hate Myself.”
The second Rantoul, IL band to make an appearance was cheese metal group Sin13. I remember seeing this band live and recognizing each of the members as employees at music stores and pawn shops. They had the best guitar gear working at a music shop could get you. The music was a throwback to Megadeth and Anthrax. Is that a good thing? Filled with guitar solos up the wazoo, I think this band just wanted to write a song where they could show off their newly learned pinch harmonic technique in every note. I think I might have heard ECW use their music in some wrestling entrances.
Something completely out of left field was a couple from Ann Arbor, Juliet La Ferier and L. Shiva. I- I just don’t even know what think of their song “Fragments.” I could see role-playing nerds enjoying this shit.
Remember when ska was cool? For that six month period in 1996? Ska was the jam. Every hit band at the time seemed to be a band of the ska-punk persuasion. Local group Jump Suit Robbie jumped on the wagon as well, with songs like “Fat Kid.” Before MMMRGs (Massively Multi Musician Rock Group) like At Knifepoint or Pulsar 47 appeared, JSR was one big-ass band. I saw this band at some house party in Urbana once. I think the band got up to about 50 members before ska music finally died out. Jump Suit disbanded and some members resurfaced years later in The Living Blue and The Beauty Shop [Ed. Note: Check out old-school Creech on the right!].
The last band to close out the compilation was Rantoul-based band Hate Choir. These guys were my personal favorite band. They were all about the partying. I remember seeing them play their hit “Young Cunt” at a Disciples Foundation all ages show which got shut down after the lead singer cut himself and flung his bloody hand into the crowd. But they were most famously known for their meth head anthem “Dirty White Room.” Their lyrics still bring tears to my eyes: “I couldn’t cum because my hand was numb so I decided I would go outside for a while and fucking rape you, bitch!” Jesus, I miss them so much!
This little gem of a CD is a hard find. There were only about 1,000 copies made. Since then, Brother Rich has created 10 sequels to this one, but not as local (or as good) as the first one was since he’s moved to Arizona. You might be able to score a copy from a pawn shop or old-school scenesters that are still around. It’s definitely worth a full night’s listen. This is the best album ever!