6 Sep 2010

Nuclear Crayons

Originally posted August 23, 2009
This post tries to be a little homage to an utterly amazing band that deserves a lot more recognition than they have nowadays. The Nuclear Crayons made, in my opinion, truly amazing top notch noise, and Laura Lynch was such a terrific singer/performer it's hard to describe. Don't forget she created Outside Records as well, the record label that released the legendary Mixed Nuts Don't Crack compilation.

“The Nuclear Crayons were formed in 1981 by Lynch LaVoison (Laura Lynch) and Darin Drake, quickly adding in Bernie Wandel and Kendal Church by 1982. They played the Washington DC Metropolitan area underground music venues from approximately 1982 through 1984. Places such as the 9:30 club, Marble Bar (MD), Gay Pride day, Lost & Found, and various sundry joints.”

Nuclear Crayons (Darin Drake, Bernie Wandel, Kendall Church, and Laura Lynch). Laura Lynch

“Lynch was unable to gain support for the Nuclear Crayons through the now burgeoning Dischord Records, the sound wasn't right & the Nuclear Crayons weren't officially part of the 'Georgetown Punk' group and so didn't fit the bill. But Lynch was impressed with the 'do it yourself' attitude of Ian MacKaye and Jeff Nelson so she started up a Label called Outside Records. It was this label that the Nuclear Crayons, in 1982, released their first 7" vinyl 3 song EP with 'Outsider', 'Teenage Suicide' and 'Political Punk'. This record was sent to Jello Biafra who reviewed it in Maximum Rock & Roll giving the band a label of 'disturbing' to the sound. Folks took this as a good review and the small supply of approximately 250 vinyl EP's were sold out within a few short months.”

 Laura Lynch at TGYA, 1982. Leslie Clague

“in 1980 i went to the closeout sale of a big store like Kmart called Korvettes and in the sale (for $5) i purchased a 6 foot long blue crayola crayon which was my inspiration for the name 'Nuclear Crayons'.  I then started going to these 'progressive' rock shows (later called punk) at a club in DC called the 9:30 Club. there i saw this hideous creature recoilled in a corner and after several shows i finally got up the nerve to approach her and speak to her.  i told her i was a guitarist and wanted to dabble in this new punk medium genre and would she like to do some vocals (not knowing or caring if she could sing or not!) WELL..i gave her my phone number three times and on the fourth time i saw her i asked her why she hadn't called and she confessed she thought i was just trying to pick her up...hahaha so i told her nononono dear, I AM GAY and you are really not my type!!!  well after that she promptly showed up on my door step the next day (scaring the bejesus out of my neighbors and my roomates) and we promptly wrote like five songs that first day.  we wrote, 'outsider'  'political punk' 'what's wrong with us' and two more i don't remember the titles of right off hand.  it was her singing and me whaming away on my acoustic ovation guitar and she said Oh you have to get an electric guitar.  so i went out and bought for $99 on of those mini stratocasters (released and designed by ZZTop's lead guitarist...but they don't make them anymore...mine was stolen in san fran....sad) and a Black widow Peavy 500 watt amp...so she comes over the next day and i plug in and slam my first chord and knocked the pictures off the wall in the house.  needless to say she loved it and from then on we were 'electric'.  i then named us and she put out some ads for a bass player and this kid justin answered  and he played with us for the first year both recording and doing some live shows.  then he left to go away to college and we got bernie and kendall and the rest you know. jello biafra came to see us at the 18th street studios and all i could hear during the entire show was him yelling Turn it Up!” Darin Drake
“Like all bands, we all had shortages of places to play, so we had to be creative about it. Our guitar player, Darin Drake, who was gay, got us jobs a lot of places bands usually wouldn't play. The first show the Nuclear Crayons played was a song writing contest at a drag queen show. The Nuclear Crayons took second place under somebody doing Diana Ross. We also played Gay Pride Day and were written up by the Washington Blade who said, 'The festival went wonderfully after a false start by a band who gave punk rock a bad name.' Most interesting was when we played Edith Massey's birthday party at the Marble Bar in Baltimore, where all kinds of local Baltimore color showed up for the event. The whole event took on a carnival-like air. The hardest thing was trying to hold the audience's attention. There's a guy at the bar yelling, 'Shut up! I can sing better than that… you call that singing?!!!' The bartender broke a bottle over the guy's head. The whole night was so bizarre. The act before we went on was a fire eater. How do you follow a fuckin' fire eater?!!” Kendall Church

“The only Nuclear Crayons show I played sober was at Gay Pride Day and that's because the beer was on the other side of P Street Beach and I was still on my crutches and I couldn't make it all the way down there.” Bernie Wandel

Nuclear Crayons at 18th Street Studio. Jim Witlaw

“Totally weird & psychotic DC punk, the bass is mixed real loud, the female singer is real scary, and the music is just unexplainable. Sick!” Burkhard Jaerisch, Flex! Book #2

 Jeff Bale (from Maximum Rocknroll #10, December 1983)

Nuclear Crayons – Nuclear Crayons
Get it here or here.

Nuclear Crayons – Political Punk
Get it here.

Nuclear Crayons – What's Wrong With Us
Get it here.

Nuclear Crayons – Teenage Suicide (Live)

Nuclear Crayons – Anarchy Poseurs (Live)

Catwalk – Live at DC (1983)

You can also see the “official“ Catwalk video here, although it's quite bad quality. Anyway, it's really worth it! Love Laura Lynch's voice so much.

Catwalk – Official video
Pro­du­ced, fil­med & di­rec­ted by Mitch Par­ker. The Nu­clear Cra­yons fil­med a Mu­sic Vi­deo of their song 'Cat­walk'. The ma­jo­rity of it was shot in and on­top of the ori­gi­nal 9:30 Club in Wa­sh. DC. VHS to AVI. Copy­right Nu­clear Cra­yons 1983.

More info here and here. And last but not least, endless thanks to Darin, Kendall, and Laura for getting in touch!


Blak Jaymie said...

Thanks for the mention in your Blog. I think all of us in the band love to see our music recognized-Even if It is a couple of decades after we did it. By the way, this is NOT the "official" video, for the song Catwalk, but our performance at Gay Pride Day, in Wash. DC ,
P. Street "beach"summer of 1983. We did 4 songs that Day, and Malcom Riviersa has the other three recorded also.There IS an 'official' video for the song "Catwalk."
I would contact Lara Lynch for more on that- she has a link to email off the Nuclear Crayons My Space page. Thanks!~KendaLL Church

onechord said...

hi there kendall,

first off, no words to express my happiness when i saw this your comment on my blog site. i really can't believe i am getting in touch with an original nuclear crayons band member. so great.

oh, you are welcome. the nuclear crayons needs awful a lot of recognition, in my humble opinion. you made truly inspiring noise!

yes, i noticed. if you click on the word “here” there's a link to the “official” catwalk video. by the way, a shame it's not in very good condition. anyway, amazing video as well.

if malcolm could be so nice to upload those three other songs it would be smashing. i really want to see those other songs being played on stage.

and please, if you still keep in touch with laura, bernie and darin, give them greetings. the nuclear crayons are and always will be a huge inspiration for me. many thanks for creating so top notch music.

very best wishes,

ps: if my memory is still working, i sent an email to laura lynch quite a long time ago (maybe two years or so), but didn't receive any reply. just tell her i do find her stage performance and singing utterly terrific.

ps2: by the way, maybe do you keep some demos or live material unreleased ––apart from the single, lp and mixed nuts compilation songs? if so, any chance to listen to it? it would be really great.

darindrake said...

hello punk historical band fans-I am Producer Darin Flame Drake former guitarist & songwriter for the Nuclear Crayons and The Earth Hell Band. It is nice to see us mentioned on your website! Captain Beefheart once called us 'stranger than strange' and I believe you all get it there at Onechord website! I left the band to form several more touring bands playing pop and synth electronic styles of music throughout the 1980's thru the 1990s. Late in the '90's I opened my own studio and formed a record label where i signed a lot of local DC bands that were not Dischord worthy as it were. I then formed a booking agency which booked at such DC landmarks as BlackCat Club and RocknRoll Hotel and Red And Black, etc. Due to injury (I lost my sight in my right eye) I have take the last 5 years off from the music industry but this year have been writing new songs for a solo album I hope to record at Inner Ear Studio with my dear friend Don Zientara. I have worked with him on and off for the last 30 years. (we even completed a NEW Earth Hell Band cd 'Witches on Vacation' in 2006!!) Anyway I saw Kendall Church's comments and just had to add my own. you can reach me at darinflame@aol.com
thanxs alot

onechord said...

WOW, Darin!

So great to receive your comment I do have no words.

Lara Lynch said...

Lynch here! Wow thanks for this site! Good job! Thanks for the compliments. Funny what a websearch can find these days. I don't know what email you sent to but it seems I do not get my forwards from info@nuclearcrayons.com. I tend to be rather fickle on my internet emails..I have over 1000 unopened emails too...so if it's hidden in there somewhere I apologize. Don't worry those are not fan emails but spam forwards. I try to keep up but the net is a busy place. Our official video for catwalk is posted on our myspace.com/nuclearcrayons page. The Earth Hell Band stuff was a hella fun but it didn't move well so it is lesser known. Well now I am a REAL Oma! Still thinkin' like a punk though...even if I have to trudge through the daily grind. Keep rockin your site! - Lynch

onechord said...

Dear La(u)ra,

So happy to know from you! Just right now I sent an email to info@nuclearcrayons.com. Hope this time you receive it.

Many thanks for your sweet words.

Big hug to you (and to Darin, Kendal and Bernie as well!).

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this upload!! I've been looking for some of this for years! -Blake

ONECHORD said...

Dear Blake,

Glad to know you like the almighty Nuclear Crayons, they were utterly great. Enjoy!


Anonymous said...

Looks like the video got deleted, so sad! Now that we need a digital copy of that video for a project Public TV is doing about WDC in the 80's and they were looking for photos/videos of that Gay Pride Day performance. Now I can't find it anywhere, this was our last hope. If anyone knows where to find it please let me know- Lynch kkordas@yahoo.com best way to contact me now.