The Pagans

Mike Hudson - Vocal (lead)

Mike Metoff - Guitar, Vocals

Tim Allee - Bass, Vocals

Brian Hudson – Drums

Bob Richey – Drums

Bill Digiddio - Bass, Vocals

Chas Smith - Keyboards

Fuck..............the Pagans. These stories are gonna come, but man they are buried way deep inside. They dig down into what the fuck I became and believed in and they are numerous and crazy.

It is a fucked up tale I guess, to look back and think the Pagans, Mike Hudson, Bill DeGidio, Johnny Rotten and John Belushi were the beacons of light in my boy turns to man years! I turned 18 in late '78 and it was a great time to do so, especially from a musical point of view.

Everything in my gut was raging and my world was spinning inside out. I feel that Alice Cooper's song "Eighteen" is a masterpiece. It totally captures that moment in a young male's life.

There is no way to understand it at the time of being 18 but as you age and then think about the lyrics, they paint the truest picture of what I can remember feeling back then.

So where the hell am I anyhow in this self revealing moment? I think somewhere around the time in early '78 that Randy Primozic brings the Ramones "Rockaway Beach" 45 over along with the Pagans "What's This Shit Called Love" 45. After that, it was over.

I had something like 150 albums of WMMS influenced buying habits (Zep, Fleetwood Mac, J. Geils, get the picture) and realized I could never again listen to them. I piled them all into the back of Randy's old Skylark and we headed to the Record Exchange in Coventry. Naturally, they fucked me on the trade.....I think I ended up with about 20 LP's in return, but I didn't give a shit.

Now I had things like the Damned and Patti Smith and the Dolls and the Stooges and more. Then it just kept washing over me like a raging sea....Pistols, Clash, Buzzcocks.

I had this girlfriend around that time, I am living in Painesville. I find out the Pagans and Dead Boys are playing the Painesville Agora. There was a great pizza joint next to that Agora, called Angelos. We went up there around 5pm to get a pie and I was gonna pick up some tickets for that nights show. I remember seeing the Pagans unloading equipment from a car, it's broad daylight and it's Painesville. Their look blew my mind........

I ate that pizza with that girl and then we broke up. She wanted nothing to do with people that looked like that. Myself.....I wanted nothing more to do with people that didn't. That night is still one of the best shows I ever saw.....Pagans/Dead Boys...late '78.


Dead End America

It's four o'clock in the morning, and the Pagans are pissed off.

"Chicago is a great city," lead singer Mike Husdon tells me as our train inches through a steady drizzle into the South Canal passenger station, "but we've been playing at home every night for the past week, and we really thought we'd get to rest for a couple days before going on the road."

I nod sympathetically and glance over to the nearby seats, where the other band members, unable to sleep, squirm in various degrees of restlessness. There's Hudson himself, prim and dapper as ever in his usual white plastic-rimmed punk sunglasses, gold-and-black smoking jacket, and staight leg jeans; guitarist Tommy Metoff, who allegedly has never smiled once in his entire life; tall, lanky bass player Tim Allee; and Brian Morgan, one of the most crazed drummers in all of punk rock.

Manager Johnny Dromette, bundled up in a gray and white fur coat, comes down from the front of the car and preceeds his charges off the train. He waves away a contingent of local fans, most of them female, who've gathered in the pre-dawn rain to welcome their Cleveland faves.

"No pictures, please," says Dromette, as someone whips out an SLR upon which is mounted a flash gun the size of a cigar box. "The Pagans are very tired; please, no pictures."

Now, see, what I've just done is demonstrate the power of well-executed (ahem) rock journalism. Most of you are probably on the edge of your seats, wondering what the Pagans did to Chicago. Well, they didn't do anything on this particular trip, because they never went. The above scene was how it would've gone, except that another band that was supposed to play pulled out, causing the whole gig to fall through, along with most of the riffs I was gonna use for this article.

In fact, many of my efforts to hang around with the Pagans and thereby interview them have been frustrated by circumstance. Before concerts they're busy psyching themselves up; afterwards they're too worn out. Finally, though, the group and I met at Hideo's Discodrome (the most well-known new wave nerve center/record store in northeastern Ohio) after closing time to shoot the proverbial breeze.

The Pagans are one of Cleveland's most impressive success stories. In a little more than a year, they have clawed their way to the top of this area's "second wave" of new music bands. Hard core fans now speak in awed tones of "Paganmania" (a very real phenomenon if you've ever been to one of their concerts). It has become de rigeur for the fashionable punk rocker to be "seen" in the general area of Mike Hudson and Co. as they hold court before their show at a dimly lit corner table (with Johnny Dromette, as always, lurking watchfully in the shadows).

But the Pagans' rise to their present level of popularity can in no way be termed meteoric. They accrued more than their share of scars on their way up, as has virtually every new wave band struggling to make a name for itself in a world ruled by the creaky, bloated neo-fascists of dinosaur rock.

The original Pagans, driven to action by the boredom then casting its clammy shadow across their native Euclid, came together in July 1977. Only three months later they cut their first tune, the liver-than-live "Six and Change," which was released as a double A-sided single on Neck Records.

"That song wasn't exactly one of our better moments," explains Hudson, doubtless referring to his own gut-sizzling two-chord axemanship, which dominates, if not totally smothers, the rhythm section and vocals (at the time, an aluminum siding worker named Robert Conn was handling singing chores). Most Pagan fans would agree that "Six and Change" is a sloppy song at best, but many also maintain that even so, in its own way the tune is every bit as vital and important as some of those equally unprofessional Stooges demos.

In January 1978 the group's regular guitarist quit after a gig at the Pirate's Cove, and Tommy Metoff was recruited to replace him. Metoff's entrance completed the evolution of what is now known in punk rock circles as "the Pagan sound."

If forced to describe this "sound" with a minimum of adjectival spew, I would say that it is 1) heavy, 2) dense, and 3) fast. Listening to the Pagans is a lot like getting bashed across the skull with a lead pipe. For several days after one of their concerts you go around saying "huh?" because your ears are so decimated all you can hear is a painful, high pitched whine that lingers like a bad hangover. But, of course, you love it so much that the next time they play you're right up there next to the P.A. again, screaming and puking and getting drunk like all the other truly decadent punkoids.

Anyway, last March the Pagans came under the entrepreneurial wing of Clevo new wave cult hero Johnny Dromette, who bought up the "Six and Change" single and offered the band his services as manager/producer. They accepted, and recorded their second 45, "Street Where Nobody Lives" b/w "What's This Shit Called Love?" that same month on Dromette's own Drome label. In October it was released, and the Pagans went back into the studio to lay down four more tunes ("I, Juvenile;" "I Don't Understand;" "Not Now, No Way;" and "Boy Can I Dance Good"), this time with David Thomas of Pere Ubu producing.

Before their formation and later, during their rise to the top, the Pagans kept a close eye on Cleveland's new wave scene and the music industry's reaction to it. They've been considerably less than pleased with what they've seen.

"It kills me how Cleveland radio handled Devo," Hudson says. "They ignored them until the last possible moment, and now that they see Devo will be big whether they help or not, they jump on the bandwagon. About the only radio station here worth listening to is WRUW, which has supported us and other local new wave bands from the beginning."

The response of some bands to what they see as music industry closed-mindedness has been to "buddy up" to the "system." When I point this out, Hudson laughs.

"Not the Pagans, man," he says. "We'd like to see the entire rock establishment in this city destroyed. And if enough people, like Devo and the Dead Boys, can make it without the help of this establishment, it will be destroyed.

"Everybody says punk is dead," he continues. "Actually, it's never been better. There's Pere Ubu on Chrysalis, the Cramps on Columbia; Devo, the Dead Boys...All these are Cleveland-Akron area bands, but they've had to get out of Cleveland to make it."

What about the possibility of the Pagans having to leave?

We'd rather not talk about that right now," Hudson says carefully. "We've built up a pretty good following here, so let's just wait a while and see how things turn out."

The Pagans have also built up very dedicated followings in Minneapolis and

Chicago, and the possibility that they may have to split to one of these cities in order to survive as a musical unit has cast a pall over Cleveland's new wave community, resulting in an "enjoy them while we can" sort of fatalism.

As a final note, I'd like to offer my own critic's appraisal of the Pagans. The guys claim they're influenced by the Stones, the Velvet Underground and the Animals. But I don't think they're giving themselves enough credit. They may have inherited the spirit and attitudes of these groups, but Mick Jagger, Lou Reed and Eric Burdon have never conducted themselves onstage with the spectacular pent-up paranoid fury of Mike Hudson. And, to track down any precedents for that unique "Pagan sound," one would have to turn to biblical descriptions of the Apocalypse itself. Rolling thunder. Gloom and doom. Throbbing machismo, encased in black leather with the volume cranked up to ten.

The Pagans are not urban, they are post urban. When the nuclear missiles have all been launched and human civilization reduced to slag, the Pagans will be the only band left, standing waist-deep in corpses to whip up "I, Juvenile" amid the rubble of our cities. I'll be right there, slamming my forehead into Tommy's amp, blood streaming from my ear-holes, bellowing out the words to each and every song. Will you?

(Author's note: This is the "lost" Pagans article that I wrote in November 1978 for Scene Magazine. I intended for it to be the "breakthrough" article that would bring the band to the attention of a much wider audience, but the powers that be filed it away without comment. I eventually took it to the Cauldron, a student paper at Cleveland State University, to which I was a frequent contributor.

Tony Morgan

What's This Shit Called Love

I had the good fortune to catch the Pagans many times in the late 70's. The show that sticks out in my mind most was when Patti Smith made an appearance at the Drome. Patti was in town to play the Palace Theatre that night, and was doing an in store appearance. However, while in our fair town, some evil Clevelander stole her beloved clarinet. She took the opportunity to rant and whine about the loss of said clarinet, condescending to us poor dumb Clevelanders, begging for its safe return or for someone to give her another. She left the pedestal a seemingly emotional mess.

Enter the Pagans, Mike Hudsons first words "Ugh, someone stole all our equipment, we cant play with no equipment, someone please give us some amps." I loved it. After her "you poor dumb Clevelanders" tirade, Hudson gave it back like "you sorry ass New Yorker." Ahh, Punk bands from Cleveland, no apologies. The Pagans then proceeded to rip and roar thru a chainsaw set, Hudson's whiskey and cigarettes voice wailing over the top. Twenty minutes of mayhem - no thank yous, no goodbyes. Guitars crashed to the floor and they were gone. In case you're wondering what happened to that clarinet, I hid that uncomfortable piece of metal up my ass for 22 years. I'm putting it up for sale on e-bay tomorrow if you're interested.


Not Now No Way

The one time I can remember going to a Pagans show it was a riot. It was Disatodrome3 at the old WHK auditorium on Euclid ave. Me and Gene had been drinking beer all evening and smoking too! (controlled substance). He had ordered some black capsules through an ad in the back of Rolling Stone magazine that were loaded with caffeine designed to keep the users alert.

We sat through Chi Pig,a band from Akron with two chicks and a boy drummer, and Bernie and the Invisibles (a lone guy playing electric guitar; I had thought then I had gotten the joke) among others.

Perhaps exacerbated by the sunglasses I was wearing that night, in an effort to look "Punk", and by the ingestation of the cheap "drugs", at some point I passed out. When I finally came to I asked Gene if the Pagans had played yet. He said yes and it was really cool because there was a riot. I had slept through the best part of the show!

Lenny Hoffman

I was thrown off the safety patrol in sixth grade, for using excessive force on a kid changing in one of the lavatory stalls.

I'd lobbed a sneaker at him, after he'd tossed it out the door, protesting my verbal abuse, as he was late for class.

It was fine to stand around before homeroom, saying "single file" or "against the wall" in a surly mantra. We'd been chosen, after all, because we were precocious, the leaders. It was our job to boss the other kids around, especially the younger ones. If they sassed us, we checked them off for a "violation." We kept small notebooks in our pockets for this.

We wore a silver badge, just like a junior cop, but it was on an orange harness , a kind of sash. The orange, under car headlights in the early morning hours, would show the crossing guards, working the main streets in the snow and rain. The hall guards, we'd just come in early, hang out; amuse ourselves with activities like throwing tiny superballs around the gym. The balls, inevitably, would end up somewhere behind the polished wooden stage, subdued by the plush curtain, cornered by some 2X4s or a stray theatre prop. We would carry them in a pants pocket and bring them out when we got to school. If you didn't have one, you could usually rummage around backstage, until you found one where it had bounced the day before. . . stuck in a corner, or under an overstuffed chair.

We were on the safety patrol, of course, to let the students know that somebody, even one of their own, was always watching them. We were narcs, before anyone used drugs. We were the collaborators. Norway had its Quislings; Wickliffe had hall guards.

"Turn in in your badge", was all Mister Davis said when I entered his tiny office, strewn about with weights and equipment. The captain of the safety patrol, phys ed teacher, never without his aviator shades. Real tough-talkin' guy, wiry, muscular, hair slicked straight back. I felt disgraced merely by his curtness, as was intended. No longer worthy of his time, even for a lecture, I wasn't one of his boys anymore. On the outside.

From then on, the role of outsider beckoned to me. The loners in Jack London books, the misfits in space operas; soon, a growing alienation would allow Sisyphus and Kierkegaard into my world.

Randall Vogt

Cry 815

email ClePunk to add stories or images.

home bands flyers hof vinyl 'zines