“Hey, this guy just hit me in the balls with a bottle. He deserves a round of applause!” - banter from a Nig Heist bootleg, 1984
In 1984, I was 15 years old, which is just about the perfect age to truly get a record that consists of nothing but songs about pussy. Not Songs About Fucking, mind you- that was the high-brow lowlife realm of machine men Big Black, and if you wanted to learn anything at all about women from those guys, well, good luck. No, I’m talking about songs that haven’t even reached that level of maturity yet. Songs like Tight Little Pussy and Balls of Fire ( “I smell like a dog and I fuck like a cow”). Songs that’d make a man out of you, even if you still had a few years left to go.
The world was pretty weird back then, and there’s been more than enough retro-gawking on TV and elsewhere lately that regales in showing off our uniquely bad taste in fashion, music, and politics in the 80s, so it’s easy to see why a band like Nig Heist would’ve sprung up in the ominous year of 1984. Significantly, under Ronald Reagan’s filmy but watchful eyes, it was a hell of a lot easier to ‘shock’ the world at large back then. Nowadays, anything goes in our genderqueer pansexual culture but in 1984, they were ready to toss cuddly ol’ Ozzy and lipstick goofs Twisted Sister in jail for crimes against humanity, which just goes to show how uptight we were. When Blackie Lawless is as close as you can get to the devil, than obviously, some new devils need to be conjured. And so they were.
Deep in rock’n’roll’s seamy underground, a wave of sex-obsessed bad taste rockers were rolling onto shore, bringing with them all the macho, sexist, chest thumping decadence of Led Zeppelin and all the drug-snorting, laugh-a-minute irreverence of Cheech and Chong. Only this time, they weren’t debauched hippies, they were all refugees from the gasping, self-defeating punk rock scene, which had, in the wake of the ‘hardcore’ movement of the early 80s, become so obsessed with it’s supposed ‘relevance’ that it lost it’s sense of humor completely. Which is crazy, really. I mean, it was called ‘punk rock’ for god’s sake- that’s a pretty funny fucking thing to call yourself, isn’t it? Bands like anti-Capitalist anarcho-collective Crass and clean-living, straight-edge funkillers Minor Threat were turning punk rock into a serious, hand-wringing kind of teenage angst-rock, and really, that shit wasn’t gonna fly for very long. So, entering stage left, the Goon Squad- bands like the Mentors, the Meatmen, the Fiendz, GG Allin and the Scumfucs, and of course, the punk rock supershame of the Nig Heist.
I had always heard that “Nig Heist” was “Black Flag” in German, but it’s not. So I have no idea what a Nig Heist is — it certainly sounds sketchy, and given the freewheelin’ fuck-em-all attitude of the band, it probably is. What I do know is that the band consisted mostly of Black Flag’s roadies, some of Black Flag, a little bit o’ BF’s touring buddies, and whoever else showed up. Mostly it was the work of a dude named Mugger. Flag’s chief roadie was, by all accounts, an obnoxious motherfucker with a penchant for boozing, pranks, exhibitionism, and mayhem, which is really all you need to get a rock’n’roll band going; but throw in all that creative punk rock talent into the mix, and you had one lethal shock rock cocktail on your hands.
Of course, Nig Heist was, at best, a side-project, so any recording and gigging was an entirely impromptu, opportunity-arising kinda affair, but whenever these born-again sleazehounds got together, all the jammy prog-punk and teeth-gnashing hardcore of their respective day-job bands went out the window, and boozy rock’n’roll madness was the order of the day. And although there was some degree of talent and creativity involved in all the similarly inclined sex-joke punk bands of the day (well, ok, the Mentors didn’t really have either), Nig Heist went beyond the gags-and-thrash limitations of the snark n’ roll sub-genre, and actually wrote some seriously kick ass rock’n’roll songs.
In ’84, Nig Heist released the utterly bitchin’ If You Love Me, Snort My Load, which is quite clearly the greatest ‘started-out-as-a-joke-but-ended-up-being-a-formidable-rock tour de force’ punk album of all time. Its up there with any 80’s era flash metal record you can think of.
I’m serious, man. It’s wall to wall hits from opener Life in General with its snaky Black Flag/ Alice Cooper riff and its gaggle of caterwauling punk-chick background singers to TLP (Tight Little Pussy) a classic sing-along snot-punk with a skronking sax that sounds kinda like a Johnny Thunders song, if Johnny went completely crazy, to Hot Muff, an evil creepy-crawler with a crazy, wormy, ultra-distorted riff somewhere between the Stooges power fuzz and Sabbath’s heavy doom to Balls of Fire, a full-on flash metal/gutter punk epic with Kiss riffs and an absolutely gonzo display of vocal pyrotechnics from Mugger — he even does a Bruce Dickinson falsetto screech in the chorus. Etc. And every song is littered with impossibly foul language. It’s like the Vietnam of strong come-ons. Just a psychotic rock n’ roll monster of a record.
I can attest that this album got plenty of college radio airplay in ‘84/’85 , and the band did, in fact, tour with Black Flag for a raucous cross-country journey after its release. However, they split up soon after, and were never heard of again. The members all went back to their main bands and industry jobs – apparently Mugger eventually became some kinda Silicone valley multi-millionaire — and Nig Heist became the stuff of punk rock legend. By 1986, you could not get away from those twin titans of 80’s gross-out punk, GG Allin and the Meatmen’s Tesco Vee, so maybe Mugger and the boys just decided that we didn’t need ‘em anymore. And, you know, everybody sings songs about their dicks these days. However, not many have ever sung ‘em with the sleazy intensity and full-throttle conviction of Nig Heist. A lost classic from the absolute bottom of the barrel. All hail the kings of bad taste.
Next Week – Sex Junkies