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NIGHT LIFE THE CLUB SCENE

Tasmanian Team : The Handsome Devils are frenzied rockers who are about as subtle as piranha earrings.

March 12, 1992|BILL LOCEY | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

The Handsome Devils may be the greatest rock band in the Western Hemisphere--which should about cover the free T-shirt and hat they gave me. So who's the handsome one? We'll let their mothers and girlfriends argue that one out. Picking out the loud one is easy--all of them. No ballads here, just frenzied rockers about as subtle as piranha earrings, thrashing their way direct from the garage to you.

The local trio will be playing three times in the next week at a variety of venues. They'll be opening for a forgotten British thrash band, the Toy Dolls, at the Ventura Theatre tonight. Then Monday, they'll open for Fear at the Anaconda Theater in Isla Vista. If they survive that one, there's always the show with Ariel at the Bermuda Triangle on Wednesday.

The band is a marketing marvel. They've sold a ton of paraphernalia, including hats, a couple of different T-shirts, stickers, sweat shirts, a tape. They even sell beanies for the gangsta wanna-bes.

The band, featuring Scott Yonker on guitar, Ed Asdel on bass and Scott Grist on drums, has more than two dozen original songs. They do only one cover, a raging version of "All Day and All of the Night" by the Kinks.

At a recent rehearsal in Mogz in Ventura, Yonkers sounded a bit like Jello Biafra of the Dead Kennedys, at least in tone. Lyrically, who knows? At the cavernous Mogz, Yonker might as well have been singing in Mongolian because not a word was decipherable.

After practice, the Devils discussed their favorite band.

So how's your tape doing? You guys must all be rich rock stars by now, right?

Grist: We had to make more since we sold out of all we had--about 500.

Yonker: We're looking to do more recording.

Grist: Yeah, since we don't have day jobs.

Yonker: Scott's girlfriend supports all of us.

Asdel: Except me. I'm married with two kids and I'm a full-time student at UCSB majoring in premed.

I'm impressed. Not only do you guys have your name on the drums, but I see people all over town wearing Handsome Devils T-shirts and hats.

Grist: They used to wear Raging Arb & the Redheads stuff, now they wear our stuff. Right now, we're sold out of everything, which just about pays for all the freebies we gave away.

How did the band get started?

Yonker: Eddie and I were just jamming and we ran into this turkey (pointing to Grist) in 1989.

How would you describe the local music scene?

Yonker: When we first started playing, it was just Something For Nothing or Raging Arb playing at the clubs. Really progressive music like we play wasn't happening. There seems to be more enthusiasm now, but there's all these local bands with not too many places to play. Oh, and I want to say that Mogz is the only all-ages club in the county and most of our crowd is under 21.

Describe Handsome Devils music.

Yonker: Progressive. Volatile.

Grist: The Clash of the '90s. New punk rock.

What was your strangest gig?

Grist: That party where they wanted us to play Bob Seger and REO Speedwagon.

Asdel: No, it was the Anti-Club in L.A., which is located in a crummy part of town. There's all these Vietnamese gangs and the club owners tell you if they ask for money to give it to them.

Your bio sheet mentions "a positive, motivating message." What positive, motivating message?

Yonker: We don't sing about fast cars and fast girls.

Asdel: We want you to get on with your life and make something of it. We want you to become a better person. Everyone is equal.

Yonker: We're into fun, not all this gloomy stuff. We're anti-racism.

What's next for the Handsome Devils?

Grist: We want to record more.

Yonker: We get this response here, why can't we get this all over the state?

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