Janitors Against Apartheid (1992-1997)


JAA got started in San Jose in 1992 in Pete's garage mid-October Dave the first singer and co-founder. The name Janitors Against Apartheid had already been set before Dave and I jammed, I believe him and someone else who wanted to form a band named it. I asked Dave why he wanted to call the band that when we first started and he said "I wanted something serious & humorus in a band title. Since our only other opition for a name was "Burnt Toast" we went with the obvious. All we had to work with was a guitar, amp, and drum machine. We asked a friend Greg Creech if he wanted to Jam with us. He came over and had plenty of gear for us to get started, turns out he didn't like jamming much, so we basicly used him for his equipment. Soon things became to evolve. I had friends from school who where in marching band. I recruited Aaron Brown (who played Sax at the time) and Brian Lodge Worster who was also a sax player in a cheesy modern rock band called the Nomads. Greg Creech had hooked us up a drummer named Tony Assimous who was a Sunnyvale, Ca punk rocker guitar player who played drums for us. We all got together one day in Tony's bedroom at his dads house and started to Jam. At the Jam session Aaron had told us he played bass, and since we didn't have a bass player it worked naturaly from there. Somehow Derek Hopkins came into the picture of the band, but I honestly couldn't tell you how, I think he was friends with Tony, and Derek just happened to be an Alumni of our High School. We practiced a lot, and started developing our sound, it started as a joke band, but things became more serious. We wanted a larger, big sounding horn section. Thats when Mike Liu joined the band helping us out more than we thought. F.Y.I Mike Liu made the first run of Janitor shirts by himself with a silk screen, and drew the logo if memeory serves right. Somehow we started to set up shows, playing in a park across the street from school, local pizza places like Olympia Pizza and Italos. These where all popular places for local nothing bands to get gigs at. There was one incident I recall when we kicked Creech out of the band, he had showed up late, never took the band seriously, Dave confronted him out front of the show, there was an argument, Dave said "Nga-Ga Mom" (an inside joke between the band which would later be called our first Demo-Release) Creech smacked dave in the face with a micro-phone and drove off. We played the show, and it totaly sucked. The band kept getting local shows all over the Bay Area thanks to other local bands lending a hand, pretty soon we had a huge cult following, and knew something was going right. We recorded a god awful demo called "Nga-Ga Mom". It was recorded by Pete and Aaron's old bass intructor named Marucs Hemersly. It was a renegade recording done at a music room at San Jose State University. The rest of the over-dubs where done at a room he was renting in downtown San Jose. It sounded like pure shit. But other than that it was entertaining and gave fans how came out to see us play something to take home and listen to. If you have this Demo, you rock, because I don't even have a copy. After playing for awhile and creating new songs, we had to do some more recording. We got booked into an old skool recording place called "House Of Faith" run by the legendary Bart Thurber. It was cheap as hell, and didn't sound half bad. This is where we recorded "Moppin' 4 Equality" & "Pizza O'Clock" which all songs would be later compiled on a release called "One For The Road". We also recorded a 10" recorded release called "Duh, I Work At Lucky". Dave did the artwork for the first couple demo releases, then I believe the 10" was produced by Mike. After all this we somehow managed to get a 2 week tour booked during the summer of 1993. It took us from Stockton, Los Angeles, Arizona, Colorado, and Utah. I don't remember much of this tour except for Tony walking around with no shoes, never taking a shower and mailing boogers to his girlfriend with letters from the road, oh yeah and I believe Lodges camery threw a rod or somthing in the middle of nevada, so half the band had to stay in a shithole called Winnimucha, Nv and I got a speeding ticket in Mike Liu's blue tercel going through Placer County on the way home. After this tour we played tons more shows. A few months later Tony had said he had quit the band, i presume we where too mainstream for him, or just figured he wasn't having fun anymore. I knew right away who the perfect guy was for the job, a musician friend from high school named Justin Estep. He was a great drummer and would fit in perfectly with the personality of everyone. Derek I believe wanted to be the next drummer, but there was a band meeting about it, and the vote in majority went to Justin. I remember Derek being really butt-hurt. That summer 1994 another tour was booked, this time it was going to be a whole month. We bought a pieace of shit van I believe called a "Tradesman 500" it had one side with a window looking out and the other side had nothing, so half the tour we got to see half America, kind of funny if you ask me. We had to get a trailer for the van because all the gear couldnt fit in with us. We built a trailer, which is too much drama to go into. We hit the road to Oregon, Washington, Midwest, and back through the West Coast. There along the way I believe in Minnasoda Derek quit the band to spend time some chick. We picked him up later, and dropped him off at a bus station in Iowa. During the whole tour we got the feeling that Dave really wasn't into the band anymore so when we got home, he told us he was quitting. From there we had a lot of options, we could end the band now, and start a new one with a new name or forge on. We forged on since we had booking contacts, fans, and merchendice to sell. Soon the band was only Pete, Aaron, Lodge, Mike and Justin. Lodge went to school in LA and knew of a guy who played Trumpet by the name of Paul Grim. After he joined the band our popularity went through the roof. We where playingsalmost every single weekend night in the bay area and LA with tops acts like No Doubt, Fishbone, Skankin' Pickle, Let's Go Bowling, bands we looked up to and admired. Lodge took over on vocals, an from there the music had matured and became very tight. Mike took over managing the band full-time. We went to record Nerds in Campbell, Ca. That was a great time for all of us. Finally, the band the way we wanted it. We did a winter tour, I think sometime in 1995, we all got the flu, and we toured in Mike's dad mini-van. Mike got so sick, and coughed so much that he had to go to hospital, and we cancelled one show i think. That night we stayed at someones house who where out of town and didnt even know we stayed there. Justin dropped Acid, I got drunk. Oh yeah and Aaron had to leave the tour early to start school for being an Auto-Mechanic at De Anza College. We had Slow Gherkins roadie play with us for a few shows. When we got back home, Aaron told us he quit the band, we got this guy John George on bass, which turned out to be a total joke. Aaron came and saw us at a show, got jealous, and we asked if he wanted back in, and he was back. That summer I think it was 1996 we had a summer tour booked for 2 months. We got a kick ass van and a contract tour agreement. Then Mike Liu told us he was quitting the band to join Skankin' Pickle. Well that sucked because he was a good business man & long time musican friend. But if i had the opertunity, I would have done the same. We did the tour, it was great, but cut a month short. When we got home, Aaron had said he was quitting again. We where out a bass player, and recruited a friend Tom Freeman to play bass, we had a tour planned for that winter. I moved to LA with Lodge to work on music, and the band, because the Janitors seemed to have always done better in LA. Needless to say we didnt work one of single song. He was busy with school etc, I was homesick with no friends, and had a bitch of a time finding work. We did the winter tour, it was a total disaster that I don't want to go into. No one took it seriously. We got back home, a few months later Justin told us he was quitting, and so did Tom. Now there was no band. I moved back up to the Bay Area where i could find work the day i got there. We had a show booked in Las Vegas, or somthing. Lodge had some guys to fill in a play the show, but didnt know the material and we had to teach them the songs a day before the show. I decided that it was over for me, and that couldnt go on. I didn't want it to Jump The Shark (like when The Fonz from Happy Days jumped over a shark on waterskies in his leather jacket and the show bombed from there). I told Lodge I was done, he was pissed off, but so was I. I called the promoter telling her the band was over and where not playing. She went off on me, and proceeded to tell her to fuck off and that my hopes, hard work for 7 years, friends and dreams had ended. I told her to eat shit and die. I called Lodge and said "its over".. I'm not sure if he did play that show with those guys as the Janitors, or played shows after that as The Janitors, but I heard rumors he did. I cared for about a minute. There you have it, the full story. Its all true. Theres tons more stuff I didn't write but you get the general idea. JAA broke up in 1997. Read an Interview with Lodge done years ago interveiw with more info on the band. When JAA broke up Mike Liu started Illumination Records. Pete & Justin produced Electronic Music and started a Drop-tuned Metal band. Lodge and Paul Grim formed The Adjustments.