Track By Track Discussion With Terminal Mind’s Steve Marsh at TeamRock

Everything you need to know about the best punk album you’ve never heard

Long-lost Austin punks Terminal Mind talk us through their newly-released Recordings album, almost 40 years after it was recorded

While they might only have been a band for three short years, the career of first-wave Texas punks Terminal Mind was a storied one. Alongside being offered coveted support slots alongside Iggy Pop and The Big Boys, between 1978-81, their ability to spin the sounds of John Cale, Wire and The Clash into their own brazen racket allowed them to lay down a template for punk mimicked by generations of Austin punks who followed.

But for almost 40 years now, the band’s collected output has lain dormant. Until now. Cut to today, and Recordings, their first-ever official album release, collects the tracks from their original, out-of-print 7″ (which gathers a pretty penny over on Discogs, for those interested), their contributions to the Live At Raul’s compilation, along with a host of previously unheard tracks.

To celebrate the album’s release, frontman Steve Marsh talks us through the album, track by track.


I Want To Die Young

“This was the lead song on the four-song EP that we recorded in September 1979. When I wrote this song, I remember being bored silly by the conversation topics of my elder relatives at a family reunion and the lyrics just falling out of me.

One of my favourite LPs at the time was The Who Live At Leeds. I played that record to death; I loved that version of My Generation. I wasn’t even thinking about that song when I wrote this one, but it certainly gave me permission to put my angst into words. There was definitely an anti-old fart agenda going on [laughs]. Yet, the song is still relevant now I’m over 60: it’s about how you live your life, not how long it lasts.”

Refugee

“The lyrics for this song were loosely based on the latter years of Arthur Rimbaud, long after he had given up poetry. He was a gun runner and coffee merchant in North Africa, and developed what turned out to be bone cancer in his leg. He was trying to get back home and died in Marseilles after an amputation. I was introduced to his writing by being a huge fan of Patti Smith. The subject of feeling like a refugee, of being lost between lines, is perennially relevant.

This was song number two on the EP, which came out in January of 1980. Right at the exact same moment as Tom Petty’s Refugee. Oh well.”

Sense Of Rhythm

“I made it a point to not write love songs, but occasionally I would write an anti-love song! This one was inspired by the desperation and total abandon that I observed on the dance floor at gigs. I say “observed” – I don’t dance. This was song number three from the EP.”

Zombieland

“The final song from the EP was always the set closer. I remember sitting on my porch one afternoon, and some frat in the neighbourhood was playing Jungleland by Bruce Springsteen so loud that you couldn’t escape it. That song just felt like the perfect summation of everything I hated: cute, nostalgic escapism. A perfect soundtrack if you were a moron in business school and wanted to feel a little ‘rock’n’roll’ without having to commit anything to it. Nothing like the world I was living in! I remember thinking ‘This music will rot your brain! Jungleland – more like Zombieland’.

The big rave-up section was another result of the influence of My Generation from Live At Leeds. Every time we performed this live, I would try to come up with something different to spout off about, either an anecdote or an observation, just to make it a unique event.

When we recorded the song, in order to simulate the bullhorn tone in the spoken section, I recorded myself into a portable cassette recorder in a closet, then played it back into a microphone during the vocal tracking. I also got our guitarist Doug to track a layer of anti-solo noise, but we only used the very tail end of it on the original EP, as the song comes out of that section into the last verse – I was talked out of using more. When we were dumping the tracks to digital to do the remix, on what was probably the very machine that we had recorded it on originally, I found out that we had recorded three extra noise tracks, so I was able to mix them in while still being true to the original recording.

We didn’t have a producer for the session, and the engineer was some guy who worked with country music so he didn’t get what we were doing at all. It was a case of ‘I can’t hear the drums’, ‘I can’t hear the guitar’, ‘I can’t hear the bass’… ‘now I can’t hear the drums again’. Also, the engineer was a big believer in mixing through tiny speakers (‘If it sounds good on these, it’ll sound good on anything’). I’m really glad that [producer] Louie Lino and I got to finally mix it right!”

Obsessed With Crime

“This was one of two songs that we recorded as demos with a friend of ours named Kerry Crafton, who was studying to be a recording engineer. It was done in the studios at the University of Texas’ radio, television and film building. Kerry went on to record Scratch Acid, Roky Erickson, Agony Column, and tons more, but we were his first guinea pigs, and he gave us our first taste of a recording studio. Being a college studio, it was a lot brighter and cleaner than any professional studios I’ve been in since!”

Fear In The Future

“This is the other demo. I can hear the influence of John Cale on these, from the Island Records era. I asked Doug to play a solo with as few actual ‘notes’ as possible, kind of an anti-solo, to set an ominous, lurking tone. The robot voice at the beginning was a bit much, but otherwise I think this holds up nicely.”

Radioactive

“Now we’re into the live tracks. This song and the next originally appeared on the Live At Raul’scompilation LP, along with The Next, The Skunks, Standing Waves, and The Explosives. Each band recorded a set to a mobile truck and then picked two songs to be included on the album. There was never any question that this would be one of our selections, although I can still see the look on Doug’s face glaring back at Greg on the drums as the song tempo just took off!

Back then, I was working at a sandwich shop called Thundercloud Subs that used to play the local rock station on the radio. I was working a lunch rush around the time that the record came out, and I was hearing something that sounded a lot like this song playing on the radio, and I was thinking ‘damn, somebody else beat me to it!’ Turned out it was actually my song – I just never expected to hear it on the radio.”

Bridges Are For Burning

“Another anti-love song; I can hear an influence from the early era of Ultravox. I loved their record Ha! Ha! Ha! This one made the cut onto Live At Raul’s because I kept forgetting the lyrics to the one I wanted to include!”

(I Give Up On) Human Rights

“This would have been my pick to go on Live At Raul’s, but it was a new song and I didn’t have the words down yet.

The theme I was dealing with was an exhaustion with people expecting the world to be fair. It just seemed like protesting the evil things that were happening in the world, or even expecting a sane approach in America to the issues of the day, was just hopeless and ultimately getting nowhere. The song turned out to be a kind of revenge fantasy of the oppressed; an identification with radical action as opposed to peaceful demonstration. If the world didn’t care, then you’d have to make ’em care. Like I said: fantasy.

I have a friend who has an archive of recordings from that period of the scene, and this came from a rough board mix of the set for Live At Raul’s. Fortunately, it was the only tune from that mix that sounded like it was mixed right. It’s got a Clash/Wire vibe to it that I like a lot.”

Black

“This song was inspired by a girl named Melissa who was our super-fan. She used to wear all black to every show, and she even had a little “no symbol” tattoo. In keeping with my thoughts about love songs, I figured that it was okay to almost write a love song if the title was Black.

Missing Pieces

Both this song and Black were from a tape that somebody recorded with a portable cassette recorder one night at Raul’s. We were able to clean it up and make it sound a lot better than the original, which was totally muffled sounding. We even had to simulate stereo at one point because the cassette player apparently malfunctioned briefly; maybe the person holding it didn’t realise they were pressing on something that caused it to track mono!

Again, you can hear the John Cale influence, and maybe a little Stooges. This song is probably the earliest piece written that is on the album. Every set needed one song about mental instability that fell apart at the end.”

Bureaucracy

“This is the only recording I could find of the band once my pal Jack Crow (R.I.P.) had joined on synth. It comes from a live video shoot at a street party near the UT campus. You can hear the sound change as the camera moves around and the mic changes direction. Those street parties were a blast! There was a church with a large outdoor patio facing the side street that served perfectly as a stage. We played with The Big Boys, Standing Waves, The Next.

The topic of ‘bureaucracy’ as a metaphor for detachment (and psychosis) seemed pretty obvious at the time, though I would probably substitute ‘corporate control’ if I was writing it today, since that seems the bigger threat now.”

Terminal Mind’s album Recordings is available now via Sonic Surgery Records.


PopMatters Exclusive Full Album Stream of Terminal Mind’s ‘Recordings.’

Terminal Mind

BETWEEN 1978 AND 1981, TERMINAL MIND HELPED SHAPE THE FUTURE OF AMERICAN PUNK ROCK AND NEW COMPILATION SUGGESTS THE GROUP IS STILL AT THE CUTTING EDGE.

Formed in 1978, in the first blast of Texas punk, Terminal Mind sounds remarkably fresh and prescient today, more than three decades since the group splintered in the heat of the Lone Star sun. In its short, happy life, Terminal Mind recorded a series of catchy but aggressive songs that earned the group opening slots with Iggy Pop and drew comparisons to John Cale, Wire and Pere Ubu. A new collection, Recordings, features a rare four-song seven-inch single as well as previously unreleased studio ventures and material previously heard on the underground classic Live at Raul’s.

Listening to the clang and clamor of “Zombieland”, one can hear the skeleton of R.E.M. and other bands that crawled from the Athens scene. In “Sense of Rhythm” one can detect influences similar to the unsung Kansas punks the Embarrassment, a burst of energy that’s somewhere between the garage and the Silver Factory. “Black” predicts much of Steve Albini’s bleakest sonic explorations while casting an ear to Manchester and the sounds of Joy Division and its ilk.

The group initially existed as a trio with Steve Marsh joining brothers Doug and Greg Murray, then added synthesizer maestro Jack Crow. Across the years, Marsh would be involved in Miracle Room and Evil Triplet while Doug Murray would become a member of the Skunks and his brother spent time with the Big Boys. (Crow passed in 1984.)

This lovingly remastered collection, Recordings is available as LP, CD and digital download via Sonic Surgery Records on 19 January and may be ordered here.

TRACK LIST

01. I Want to Die Young

02. Refugee

03. Sense of Rhythm

04. Zombieland

05. Obsessed With Crime

06. Fear In the Future

07. Radioactive

08. Bridges Are For Burning

09. (I Give Up On) Human Rights

10. Black

11. Missing Pieces

12. Bureaucracy

Letters From a Tapehead Talk Terminal Mind

Ever Heard of Terminal Mind?

I guess it’s not uncommon to begin a new year by taking a good, hard look back. Introspection can be a positive thing, especially if, upon assessing the current musical climate, one believes there to be a need to reintroduce what’s been unfortunately forgotten. Super Secret Records saw fit to start off 2018 by putting out a compilation of long sought after material from the Austin, Texas punk act, Terminal Mind, whose art-infused interpretation of the punk medium found permanence, albeit obscure and rare, as a 4-song 7.” These tracks now appear alongside previously unreleased live and studio tracks, so there’s no longer any need to go online, scanning through the wares of virtual merchants seeking to rob you of every hard-earned dollar.

Having given the album a listen, which is simply titled Recordings, I thought there were aspects of Terminal Mind’s sound that shared some commonalities with the Boston area hardcore and indie rock scenes of the early to mid-80s despite predating TAANG’s initial spate of releases and, of course, Mission Of Burma. The lead single, “Refugee,” was premiered by the Austin Chronicle, but you can also listen to it below:

As mentioned, Recordings will be released by Super Secret Records. Release date is 1.19. All info on the release was provided by Us/Them Group.

Terminal Mind premiere track from forthcoming retrospective Recordings

 
Extremely rare collectors’ fave 7″, Live at Raul’s compilation cuts and unreleased studio & live tracks from Austin first wave punk trio

“Grayscale art-rock with punk desperation channeled through instrumental and songwriting legitimacy…Terminal Mind remains an act locals still celebrate despite a short lifespan and being under-recorded.” — Austin Chronicle

First-wave Austin, TX punk trio Terminal Mind premiere the first track from their forthcoming retrospective album today via Austin Chronicle. Recordings collects the short lived band’s 4-song 7″ (which fetches upwards of $100 on eBay), Live At Raul’s compilation cuts and outstanding unreleased studio and live recordings.

Terminal Mind, formed in 1978, was one of the early first-wave punk acts in Austin, TX. Based far from the urban roots of a genre in its earliest stages, the band absorbed influences as disparate as Pere UbuRoxy MusicJohn Cale, and Wire. The life span was short, but their influence touched many of the next generation of Texas noise and hardcore acts as they shared bills with fellow proto-punks The Huns and Standing Waves at Raul’s, The Big Boys on the UT campus, and even opened for Iggy Pop at the Armadillo World Headquarters.
Founding members Steve Marsh and the Murray Brothers, Doug and Greg, started as a trio before adding synthesizer player Jack Crow. Steve Marsh moved to New York with his experimental noise band Miracle Room (before eventually returning to Austin and forming space/psychedelic rock band Evil Triplet and beginning an experimental solo project dubbed Radarcave), while Doug Murray joined the Skunks and Greg Murray played in a later version of The Big Boys. Jack Crow passed away in 1994.

This collection of songs is a journey back to the ‘anything goes’ first steps of American punk as it left the dirty streets of New York and Los Angeles and made its way into the heartland. Like the Austin of 1978, Recordings is a small outpost of musical individualism that planted seeds for the alternative music explosion familiar to later generations.

Recordings will be available on LP, CD and download on January 19th, 2018 via Sonic Surgery Records.

Artist: Terminal Mind
Album: Recordings
Label: Sonic Surgery Records

Release Date: January 19, 2018

01. I Want to Die Young
02. Refugee
03. Sense of Rhythm
04. Zombieland
05. Obsessed With Crime
06. Fear In the Future
07. Radioactive
08. Bridges Are For Burning
09. (I Give Up On) Human Rights
10. Black
11. Missing Pieces
12. Bureaucracy

On The Web:
supersecretrecords.com/bands/terminal-mind

Sincerely,

Letters From A Tapehead

Paste Magazine Premiere “I Want To Die Young” From Terminal Mind

Daily Dose: Terminal Mind, “I Want To Die Young”

Daily Dose: Terminal Mind, "I Want To Die Young"

Daily Dose is your daily source for the song you absolutely, positively need to hear every day. Curated by the Paste Music Team.

Some of the best punk/post-punk/new wave bands are the ones that burned out quickly, loudly and brightly. Often that was for bittersweet or tragic reasons, but a great many of them simply dissipated as the follies of youth evolved into the responsibilities of adulthood. One such group was the Austin, Texas outfit Terminal Mind.

Inspired by the late ‘70s noise of artists like John Cale and Pere Ubu, Terminal Mind released one spiny 7” EP of herky-jerky, politically-minded rackets as well as dropping a couple of bombs on some local compilations during their four short years together. Each one has the insinuating allure of a sermon but delivered with a scabrous intent and raw musicianship. The group also scored a few coups in their time, getting a chance to open for Iggy Pop and play alongside fellow Texan rabble rousers, Big Boys.

While the scattered pieces of Terminal Mind’s discography have been difficult and expensive to pull together, the good people of Sonic Surgery Records have done all the heavy lifting for you. This month, the label will release Recordings, a compilation of everything the group released during its short lifespan and some unheard gems from their archives. This is essential listening for students of American punk history or anyone that just wants to get a little riled up in front of their stereo on a Friday night. To get a clearer sense of what we mean, stream the lead track from this compilations “I Want To Die Young” right here.

“(I Give Up On) Human Rights” From Terminal Mind Premiered At I Heart Noise

Song Premiere: Terminal Mind – (I Give Up On) Human Rights

Terminal Mind Recordings

While their name and their song titles might suggest a po-faced hardcore/punk act, Terminal Mind’s music says otherwise – the songs on I Want to Die Young EP, the Texan act’s sole proof of existence up until now, are catchy, upbeat and proudly wear an influence of funk on their collective sleeve (no pun intended).

The collection coming out on Sonic Surgery label on Jan. 12 (entitled simply “Recordings”) compiles the said EP, live recordings and unreleased studio tracks, many of which reveal band’s punkier leanings. Case in point – “(I Give Up on) Human Rights” – fastest track among the bunch, it trades artsier elements of songs like I Want to Die Young in favor of sheer speed/velocity of the attack.

Recommended to fans of: Television, Gang of Four, Public Image Limited

Further reading: Killed by Death Records | Super Secret Records | 7th Level  Music

Austin Chronicle Exclusive Premiere of “Refugee” From Terminal Mind

Lost & Found: Terminal Mind

Thirty-seven years after breakup, debut LP hits

The anthem on Terminal Mind’s sole release, a self-issued 7-inch stamped with the universal “no” symbol that routinely fetches over $100 on eBay, spun a nihilistic punk declaration: “I Wanna Die Young.”

Vintage Terminal Mind (Photo by Ken Hoge)

Instead, the short-lived Austin band (1978-1981) has aged to a vintage in which there’s now demand for a long overdue retrospective. Friday, homegrown reissue specialists Sonic Surgery Records unveil the bluntly-titled Recordings, a remastered collection of the band’s four-song EP, quality live cuts, and previously unheard demos.

Grayscale art-rock with punk desperation channeled through instrumental and songwriting legitimacy, the triad of bassist/vocalist Steve Marsh with twins Doug Murray and Greg Murray on guitar and drums, respectively (they later added synth player Jack Crow), remains an act locals still celebrate despite a short lifespan and being under-recorded. Historically, Terminal Mind’s music hasn’t been easy to come by – save for those who’ve nabbed copies of the rare EP or Live at Raul’s compilation – so Recordings is a worthy dive into a crucial and obscure sliver of the cap city catalog.

The melodic “Refugee,” from the original EP, demonstrates Marsh’s penchant for meaningful rock songwriting. The chorus spells it out:

Refugee, that’s the way the real world treats you.
Did you think such a person could exist?
In a war, there are winners and there are losers.
I’m in between.

Before Recordings drops Friday, give “Refugee” a spin here.”