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NoMeansNo’s Eulogy

The greatest band in the history of the universe is…Alice Donut. What a strange way to start a tribute to Nomeansno, but that’s where we are.

(Nomeansno, not Alice Donut)

In 1996, Alice Donut/Killdozer had released their Split 7” Michael Gerald’s Party Machine Presents, then Alice Donut promptly broke up. I was devastated. I wanted them to release albums forever. After a year or so, I had become obsessive. I was scouring liner notes from their albums looking for new bands to love. One day I was in the record store and took a chance and bought Nomeansno’s Dance of the Headless Bourgeoisie. It was awesome and I had found another band as good as Alice Donut.

Now I had vaguely heard of Nomeansno, I had the Alternative Tentacles Virus 100 disc with Nomeansno covering the Dead Kennedys Forward to Death. I didn’t think that cover was so great. What really overshadowed Nomeansno on Virus 100 was Sister Double Happiness, the Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy, and Steel Pole Bath Tub.

Luckily, and coincidentally, I was reading Martin Popoff’s Collectors Guide to Heavy Metal at the time and, I believe, he gave Nomeansno’s Wrong a perfect 10 review. I thought to myself, “wow, they have even better music than Dance of the Headless Bourgeoisie?” So I went out and bought Wrong. It was a perfect album. Went out immediately and bought 0+2=1, Why Do They Call Me Mr. Happy?, and the Worldhood of the World (As Such). Now, to me, Nomeansno doesn’t make bad music.

I anxiously awaited One and was rewarded with more great tunes. When I was young, I had taken a jazz class and didn’t have the patience for Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue. On One, Nomeansno had a cover of Bitches Brew that I liked and it forced me to revisit Davis. Again, the Miles Davis that I now like was from 1969-1974, and I learned that about myself because of Nomeansno.

In 2004, something surprising happened, Alice Donut magically got back together. Didn’t matter, went out and bought more Nomeansno. Picked up Sex Mad/Small Parts Isolated and Destroyed and 1991’s Live + Cuddly. As 2006 rolled around, Nomeansno released All Roads Lead to Ausfahrt. Which is where our story really begins…

By 2006, Nomeansno was celebrating its 25th Anniversary and I was determined to make that show. Fortuitously, they were coming to a small club about an hour from my house. To me, the venue seemed much too small to host such a popular band, I think the Beachland Ballroom held under a thousand capacity. To prepare for the show, I tried to get my hands on the physical copy All Roads Lead to Ausfarht, but my favorite record store, Perry’s Rock Pile, had long since closed. Perry was an encyclopedia of music, so he was always helpful. But Perry was crazy, so that scared me.

Long story short, I couldn’t get my hands on the disc. Tried, a minimum, of 8 retailers, as big as Best Buy but as small as the corner drug <cough>, I mean, record store in Brunswick. After the trials of being unable to secure Ausfarht, I would start downloading music from Apple later that year. Because of Nomeansno.

Anyways, on Sept. 30, 2006 I saw one of the greatest live shows ever to take the stage. With a non-traditional stage setup, Rob Wright and Tom Holliston in the center and to the left and drummer John Wright being sideways and sitting on the right, facing the singer and guitarist. Pure genius. Wright was watching the other two, in order to play off of them better. The crowd of 200, tops, was into it until Nomeansno started to play their new songs. I remember them playing Heaven is the Dust Beneath My Shoes and they tore through it with the punk energy of a bunch of 20-year olds, they were sweating, the song sounded great from the stage. Then crickets. Me and a few others in the rear clapped, (I was too old to be in a pit) but I was in awe of what I had seen.

The tickets were only $14 each but after that song, I wanted to pay more.

After the show I finally bought the disc I had craved. But I felt like it was too late. Nomeansno continued to play the favorites during the show, but I had this weird vibe that the fans had let the band down. They never came to Cleveland again.

There wasn’t a follow up album. There would be a few EP’s, but I never lost the feeling that the Cleveland show was an embodiment of their career. They were breathtaking. And no one showed up.

For 10 more years I wore out those CD’s, sometimes buying my favorite songs on iTunes to hear them more. {I also stole their song Valley of the Blind and put it in my independent film Blasphemers. Shhhh! Don’t tell anyone.} I could fan-boy it up and tell you more about their greatness, but that would be doing you a disservice. Start with the 2 songs on the Blog and work your way around, like I did. Deep, deep down I wanted another album, but I had a sinking feeling there wouldn’t be one.

Three days ago Nomeansno announced their retirement in a brief statement on Facebook. Here’s an excerpt: “…with a heavy heart I must announce the retirement of No Means No. A hiatus became a long hiatus and a lingering hiatus has become a permanent one.”

Sometimes those guys like to joke around, so I googled Nomeansno and News for confirmation. I came up with 3 stories confirming their retirement. Two from small music sites and one from the local newspaper in Victoria, British Columbia. As I write this, I feel like I was back in that club, one of those few fans 10 years ago, cheering in the back of the Beachland, asking them not to go, but to keep playing…


Nomeansno is still on constant rotation on my Pandora station Alice Donut’s Punk Kaleidescope.


The top video is from their live album Live and Cuddley. The song is Metronome.

The lower video is audio of the song State of Grace. The Worldhood of the World version.

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