Mindsweeper 1979
The Man and the Band
Mind Sweeping
The Clubs
In the Studio

Hello. Welcome to a modest document of a time gone by. I would like to thank the small community of fans we entertained in the San Francisco Bay Area, but most of all I thank the band members. With the passing of time I have come to a place of perspective from which to more fully understand the blessings musicians and associates heaped upon me and the music to make the Mindsweeper experience possible. Since I haven't seen or heard from most of you in three decades, I pray everyone is happy and still in possession of an open mind. I sincerely hope you enjoy this look back to when we burned it at both ends. Of course, I need to apologize for being the biggest dick in the band, talking smack to just about anyone, including friends, press and investors, turning my back on anything or anyone in the quest to bring the music in my head into the world. If I hurt anyone, I am truly sorry. I love every damn one of you. All my memories of this period are cherished and appreciated. This grueling, yet joyful, recapitulation has required a substantial investment in time and energy, and is not over.

Band members may remember Matrix, one of the bands that opened for us at the Mabuhay Gardens. These guys blew my socks off, then vanished into thin air. I remember the frontman vividly, leaning against the PA, singing to me, then looking directly at me after the band had just performed a personal best. His eyes, full of pride and acute awareness of the irony of such a fantastic performance in font of such a small crowd, said, " . . . And, this is all for you!" Because of that moment of eye contact and the incredible performance of that one song, I remember the gig vividly. I wore the fencing white spandex zombie outfit. My heart is warmed by the memory of those guys pouring out their soul in the Fab Mab for an audience of no more than 20 people, including bands, waiters and bartenders. I pray someone remembers Mindsweeper with the same affection. There must be someone out there searching internet bots and spiders, googling "Ronald Reagan is the Devil."

first Mabuhay gigMindsweeper was formed in 1978 in the Haight Ashbury District of San Francisco. Follow the personnel link for band members and more background. The band played Bay Area clubs for four years. At the very end of 1984 the club band was abandoned. The "pay-to-play" phenomenon was destroying the San Francisco club scene. Wealthy parents from the suburbs paid clubs so their kids could play there. Metallica was originally one of those Bay Area pay-to-play bands. I know I shouldn't, but I hate that band for representing the worst of what happened to a vibrant music scene that never was allowed to flower. A band like Metallica doesn't understand much because they never had to. Their brand of safe pop, posing as "heavy," is shallow, fake and for the masses. High on stupid, bands like Metallica propagate bad memes so that the stupids can walk around in a stupor to fascist theme music accompanying stupid thoughts about buying shit and getting laid. Mindsweeper parodied bands like these, and darned if the fuckers didn't just take over. Poor schmucks like me, struggling with the morality of decadence, simply walked away, kept struggling in total futility, or died trying. When Mindsweeper was lighting up the tiny clubs, I didn't give much of a shit about selling out for the big bucks. That alone hasn't changed. I still make music for its own sake.

Dink BridgersJerry H.Mindsweeper was an art project, originally designed to perform comic parodies of current popular music forms within a carbaret-style club atmosphere, featuring mixed genre songs, rude lyrics and on-stage antics, and wild lead guitar. HEAR AN EXAMPLE. Band members had to be trained and skilled, unlike the majority of garage bands in the Bay Area, who basically learned instruments on the job (which in some cases can be a better way to meld into a unit). After a year of playing with anyone with an ad in BAM, I found two fresh new players. After a year of rehearsals, the trio was "ready" to play the clubs in 1979.

Mindsweeper was Postmodern, so we couldn't just jump into a schtick. I took from Broadway show tunes. I borrowed a bit from The Fugs, the Mothers and the Bonzo Dog Band. I stole from Leila and the Snakes. I took punk rock, teenie booper pop, new wave stupid and poser heavy metal, mixed them up like veggies in a stew and threw in the meat of obscenity, irony and sarcasm. I was once told that Mindsweeper had an authentic Haight Street sound. This was literally true. You could hear us on Haight Street when we were rehearsing. Pity those poor neighbors! I can hear a bit of Rocky Erickson in our sound, for sure. The Haight Street sound came from Austin, Texas. We were psychedelic, no question about it. Drugs had been a huge part of my experience up to that time and I loved freaky music that was as visual as it was auditory. Because Mindsweeper music changed with each joke of the day, critics, record company people and music writers were at a loss to put the band in a slot. We made fun of everyone. It took loyal fans a few performances to gain an understanding of just what was going on as the band morphed weekly. I tried to keep the music "fresh."

Rory JudgeThe experience of playing for an audience at this point in time was quite interesting. Who ever imagined spitting as applause? From the stage it was not always easy to tell the difference between someone who was enjoying the music and a psycho about to kill everyone in sight. The punks must be given their own category, but there was a difference between Mindsweeper's small cadre of cult followers and folks in the clubs simply because it was cheap fun on the weekend. I called it the "O" factor. You could look out on the audience and count the open mouths to figure the mix of fans and punks to daters and those with no where else to go. Those smiling, laughing and flaming groovies and mindsweeperpointing were with us. The angry punks simply FELT the band and reacted with emotion. The sooner the punks started spitting, the better the band was performing. The more spit I had on me at the end of a show, the more girls would come up after the gig. And I'm not talking about being spit on. I'm talking about totally covered, like getting a shower of snot. If you were not there, you wouldn't understand, and if you were not fronting the band, you probably wondered why I stood up there and took it. I was usually working so hard that I simply ignored it, or spit back. It was the way it was, and the way it still is for many who mimick the punk aesthetic, which is a baggie of dirt with a used condom in it.

Our entrance was usually for laughs--an opportune moment to shock. Looking like a zombie or a rock star primadonna is easy to do, so I personally went for Zombie Rock Star Primadonna. It got minimal "O" factor, but it certainly got some of the audience laughing from the start. When the music started the "O" ratio rocketed as the first song was generally there to effectively shock and startle. And I don't mean Marilyn Manson "shock"--I mean outrageous parody and comedy, over-the-top. There was a song we started our set with at one point, Not From England, that grossed me out every time. It's trick was that it rocked so hard in a genre-of-the-moment that people just had to dance without actually listening to the graphic sexual pictures I was painting, ". . . . with the sperm on her chin and a smile on her face, whatever made her want to come to my place? I'm not from England." It was ska and reggae played by a heavy metal band, musically reminiscent of the cunty tactility of the The Police and the low IQ punch of ACDC, . . . then the audience would start to get the lyrics, stop dancing at my feet and stand there staring up at me with a gaping mouth, another "O" in the crowd. I'd turn to Mitchell and he'd crack a snicker. Sometimes the best of the show was the audience's reaction TO the show.

The most graphic example of what we did to a random audience was the Haight Street Fair, a huge annual event that completely overran Haight Street from Stanyan to Masonic with a massive crowd, blocks of vendors, bands, hot dogs and snow cones for the kids. We played the fair only once. We took our place on the main stage on Haight at Golden Gate Park at noon. The outfit that played before us was a salsa band. Lots of attractive young white people, dating couples and families were down front eagerly awaiting the next "act." We were going to hurt these people. I made a point of hurting them as much as I could. It was my chance to show how hopeless they were. Rock stars almost NEVER get an opportunity like this. Their audiences are there to worship the band, unconditionally most of the time. This audience was just THERE.

The feeling of being Mitchell Holmanon a stage above 40,000 heads packed like olives in a jar--a sea of people as far as the eye could see--all the way down Haight Street--it was a most powerful feeling, especially Mindsweeper handbillat the helm of Mindsweeper's resources and my own complete freedom. It was not like we had to impress anyone. This crowd was never going to like what we do. I was simply going to see if there was anyone else like me in these 40,000 holiday fun and food hunters strolling past the racoo, desserts, hot dogs, coffee, and arts and crafts. I can remember that feeling of power like it was yesterday, the complete lack of stagefright in front of so many people. I couldn't wait to ruin these people's party with the rage I felt for their stupid way of life, and their whoopies and yahoos in the time of Ronald Wilson Reagan's murder and mayhem campaign in Central America and around the globe.

A sidenote: When I uploaded the song, "Ronald Reagan is the Devil" onto this site, the counter for its page came up "666"--completely on its own. If you are not server-savy, understand that I cannot change a counter without directly contacting the server that hosts this site. It just came up that way. Ronald Wilson Reagan's name and home address were 666. He was born on the 6th. The Othodox Church in western Europe went bat shit when he was elected, because of his 6's. Then when the reactor at the Chernobol plant exploded, they went even more ballistic. Chernobol translates to Wormwood, the name of the power that kills one third of the Earth's inhabitants in The Book of Revelation. Fun with names and numbers, folks! Yippie!

From the stage I could not see a single human being there for anything but a mellow day in the sun and some really safe pussy music. I was smiling to myself and the band, grinning an evil grin at the people directly below me who were about to be flattened by the loudest racket they had ever heard. As I opened up on them Blue Cheer came to mind, a band that left me partially deaf after a Christmas show at the Avalon Ball Room in 1967 when I was eighteen. You know it is loud when shit starts to fall from the ceiling, you cannot hear your friend, even though she is screaming in your ear, and the massive Christmas tree is swaying.

We began our set with Consumer, an ironic anthem to cannibalism and mass murder--the most demonic composition in the repetoir at the time, and we had some doozies in the set list. Consumer is beautiful and sarcastic, demonstrating the duality of songs I wrote for Mindsweeper. Consumer was a club favorite because it involved dynamic changes in volume, texture and tone, and featured another weird space flight. It begins with a hard strike with amps turned all the way up to 10 or 11, then it desperately tries to get louder, using feeback, then we turn the PA up to 10 to take things over the top. The two basses and two guitars created a droning rhythm as Rory, putting the chops to good use, laid down drum roll chaos. This sort of thing usually ends heavy metal songs, but we put it at the beginning and let it hang in an orgy of teeth grinding pain--it lasted for half a minute or so most of the time, but on this occassion it needed to be well over a minute. Mitch's bass ripped huge chunks of iron, wood and brick off buildings along the street as he dragged the bow across all strings with the amp wide open. The stage was rumbling beneath our feet. I put my arms out--a crucifixion, and let my hot rod Jaguar shreak. The people down front turned around and LITERALLY ran away as I smiled at them like a sadistic Spanish Catholic priest at blasphems on the Inquisitor's rack, putting salsa fans, "To the question." Tenant Union benefit

It was a solid wall of every frequency we could produce at the highest decibel level we could manage for as long as we could stand it. Miki was over in the booth telling the soundman to turn the P.A. up even louder. He did. It got A LOT louder. The "O" factor was massive deep into the crowd, then quickly vanished. The entire crowd for a block in front of the stage turned and fled the scene. Within seconds there were no people for 150 feet. Even the sidewalks were empty. All I could see in the distance was a sea of backs, colorful shirts, floppy hats and loose hairy heads moving away, some running, about to trample each other. I held my arms out, refusing to let the band go into the second movement until I saw a sea of faces on the horizon, moving toward us, blocks away. The crowd was changing. The clean and colorful wave was going out. A dirty wave was rolling in on the outside. Anyone inside the breakwater was going to get clobbered. The evil ones were moving closer like a dirty Celtic army's smelly, sloppy phalanx.

A sidenote: Mindsweeper recorded Consumer for our EP Cocaine Zombie. We recorded the basics live in the studio. I was never happy with my own parts in the studio live recording of Consumer, so it didn't make the album. It may have been a mistake not to include it. The recording has one of my favorite passages of any studio recordings I have been a part of. It involves Mitchell Holman and Eric Drew Feldman, who performed an intro that leads into the thunder of the first movement. Mitch played bowed bass and Eric played the melotron set on cello. It demonstrates the incredible ears and intuitive chops these guys possessed. There are also a couple of live versions on tape of Consumer in my possession that are better than the studio recording.

Artsi Fartsi poster.The experience was simply amazing--performance art only visible from the stage. My selfishness was never so grand or so joyous as in Mindsweeper. The best of my art work in film and performance does this sort of thing--create beauty from my point of view, like all the while I was working, over years of rehearsals and abuse from every corner, to make a moment for myself where the world stops and I get to experience joy constructed of anger, grief and futility in the face of death and destruction unleashed by my race on the entire fucking world. Mindsweeper did this for me more than once. This is a power within music only rarely turned into artistic expression. I once witnessed Captain Beefheart use a booing crowd like an instrument, telling his audience that singing to them was like "singing into a jar of pickles, trying to turn them back into cucumbers." Then he goaded them on and on as the audience got louder and louder, then he instructed the band and soundman to turn things up and the band went into Alice in Blunderland, one of the most beautiful psychedelic masterpieces. You couldn't even hear the roaring crowd for the beauty of the music. God bless Don Van Vliet! There has never been a better band, ever!

On stage at this Haight Street Fair during that endless moment of noise and confusion I felt a freedom that most people don't get to experience in a lifetime. I have felt it in nature, as well, alone. But this was far from nature. I could see familiar faces and unfamiliar faces smiling amid a sea of black leather moving toward me--shiny black leather, tattoos, blue hair, red hair, black hair, white hair, no hair, chrome studs and angry eyes on the band, some beginning to jump and scream as they approached the stage, joyously or angrily joining the electronic screams. The hypocracy of entertainment was being replaced with the natural squalor of human existence. The dance was on.

And here comes the spit, arcing over the crowd like a hundred teenage ejaculations! Mitchell's bowed bass rumbled a descent from high screech to the low Fart of God, ending the chaos with three loud punches of an A minor chord in total unison with the band, then a tight unified eighth note riff into the Consumer theme, and so on and so forth. People were now running down front to get the best spots below the stage. There were familiar faces, my nameless punk family. These were people who came up to me when I left the stage at other gigs. They included musicians I respected. It was wonderful to get that love back. Nina Napalm of VKTMS told me after the show, "You guys are what Motorhead wants to be!" To me, she was a female Captain Beefheart! People patted me on the back with, "Good set," "Great job," "You really rock, man," or "You guys suck!"

Nixon posterDink Bridgers prays to his television.In the clubs, for your average Joe or Sue seeing Mindsweeper for the first time--the music went right over their heads. But trained musicians in the crowd noticed the hard work and creativity right away and came up to me during breaks at the bar or after the show. Steve Vai once followed me to the bar where that tall geek Rick O-whatever from The Cars was in my way. I politely asked him if he was one of "Those Cars." He said, "Yes, I am." I said, "Well, BEEP! BEEP! Get the fuck out of my way! I need a beer." He had absolutely no sense of humor about this. Self-important schmuck. These people are the SUBJECT of my satire and the muse for my obscene poetry. It's all about putting the dick into as many mouths as possible and most of the time it doesn't fit. In Rick's case, it fit just fine. You could see him sucking from a mile away.

For many shows I wore a white skin-tight complete spandex outfit with black tire tracks printed across the legs and chest. Over time the outfit got dirtier and dirtier. Sometimes I wore a fencing mask on top of my head to make myself look like the creature in the movie Alien. Sometimes I'd put a roll of paper towels down the inside of one leg. Ahhh, spandex. Everyone in the band refused to wear it except Mitchell, who really liked it. It is insanely comfortable if you are moving at all.

Mindweeper's irreverence was well appreciated by people looking for something different, and who recognized they were getting it, RIGHT NOW. The grins looking up at me as I pranced onto the stage like a zombie Stevie Winwood after a fatal car accident, made the hard work and money Miki and I spent on making me look stupid worth every effort.

Then we played. We were serious. We were not the usual local club band with an attitude. We only looked like idiots for the sake of a fun. We were all pretty square, really. We did our homework and the absurd music was tight, powerful and designed to be decadent for good reason. The effect was a double whammy on sentiments of the audience. Those with mouths agape were shocked to see such behavior in a club, while others were shocked that we actually worked so hard on our material for no reward aside from the joy of playing. Then there were the punks, who loved or hated Mindsweeper. It didn't really matter. They did what they wanted, God bless them. They were always down front, spitting and bashing each other, literally banging heads hard on the stage to the beat, throwing full beer cans and ashtrays at the band out of appreciation for our musical anarchy. How dare we make unprofessional music sound professional! Until a person gave in to the tongue-in-cheek, they were lost in the incredibly rude lyrics and power of punk rock. Those people spitting on me were in hell, trying to wreck the place. More power to them! I thank them for giving me beautiful memories of decadence and madness.

Nick Buck of the Bay Area band Hot Tuna described Mindsweeper as, "A chameleon, changing with every performance." Only Frank Zappa fully understood the musical complexity of our simplest arrangements, saying to me, "You are going first Berkeley Square gigplaces." Frank didn't mince words. Anyone who knew him understands. He bluntly told a band who opened for us, "Don't quit your day jobs." They were crushed, but he was right and they knew it. Frank saw two Mindsweeper shows, bringing friends and band members with him: Aynsley Dunbar. Vinnie Colaiuta. Steve Vai asked if he could play with us while he was with Frank. I told him he was under contract with Frank, so ask Frank. Frank said no. Frank sat at a table just down front below me, and half the gig he had his head on the table laughing so hard he was shaking. It was contagious. Everyone was rolling with laughter for the first half of the show. I had a fever of 104 that night. I couldn't sing a note because of a really horrible sore throat, so I put all energy into making a complete ass of myself with the guitar, doing my white-man Jimi Hendrix impersonation. I rolled around and fucked the amp, played with my teeth with my pinkies out, on the floor, sticking the guitar neck between the legs of anyone who got close to me. It sounded good, from what I was told, but who knows? I was never satisfied with a performance. with Jane Dornacker

People think you sound good when you play the guitar with your teeth because their ears are more forgiving of someone who is willing to make an ass out of himself. The drunken coked-up wife of a local agent/dealer who would snub Miki and I when we saw her at parties or when I was building a hidden safe for her asshole coke dealer husband's office, wouldn't leave Miki alone at the soundboard, slobbering, repeating, "I was told your shows were good, but I didn't know they were like fucking Jimi Hendrix! I knew Dink was a good guitar player, but I didn't know he played like fucking Jimi Hendrix!" Well, at least she got the subject of the parody. See? That was our problem. Nobody got it, except a handful of diehards who were around long enough to see the range of insane parody we could produce. Frank Zappa's autograph

Zappa threatened to produce the band, but never followed up. He told a friend of Mitchell's outside the club, "I really like the band, and would love to produce them, but that guy reminds me too much of Alice Cooper, and Alice drove me crazy." That and/or maybe he thought our demo sucked. He was wrong, of course. I didn't drink like Alice, play golf or vote for Ronald Reagan. FRANKLY, I was in awe of Frank until I met him. And, when I got to know people who worked with him, I took his personality down off the hero pedestal. Don't get me wrong. I loved this man for his art and dedication to his music, but he was a dick, just like me, but far worse--far more selfish and abusive of his contributors. It is what it takes to get the job done as an artist, but the stories I got from members of the Mothers and others who worked with or for Frank, were FRANKLY, shocking. I still love his early music, his contribution to the joy of freedom in that great bowel movement that was the early 60's. I will eternally thank his spirit for helping me get through the most depressing years of my life when I was avoiding the draft, disowned by my family for being "queer" and taking drugs to deaden the pain of a loveless family life. Frank said many memorable things to me during his two visits to catch the band, all of them extremely positive. He really got what I was doing with Mindsweeper, thoroughly enjoying the humor to the point of uncontrollable belly laughter. When I came off the stage after the first set at the first gig he came to, he grinned and laughed as he said, "I've been waiting all my life to hear you sing, 'Take the book!'" --referring to the song Hairy Krishna describing an experience with Hairy himself in an airport. He said, "I went through that exact same experience. They always spot me and try to give me that book." As we parted ways after that first gig, Frank turned and said, "And, yes, we WILL meet again," a reasuring, direct reference to Runaway Girl, another song in our set. He meant what he said, because he was back to see us along with members of his band the next time he was in town to play at the Berkeley Community Theater, the least interesting Mothers show I ever attended. I remember having a certain ironic understanding as I watched that show, that I now had what Zappa had lost--a certain kind of freedom, desire and real magic based on a spark within a progressive band that was doing something no one else could and didn't give a shit if you liked it or not. Frank eventually cared more for money. I didn't because I never had any. Frank's new band was all flash and polish, with very little spark or soul. He was, at that point in 1981, a commercialized verion of himself--the "dancing fool." BTW, I first saw Frank's band in Greenwich Village in 1966. I was too young to go into the club, so I stood in the doorway for an entire set. I also caught the Fugs that same day in the same way. They were playing just a few doors down from the Mothers. What an era! What a place! I caught the Mothers again in 1969 in Atlanta with Flo and Eddy and original Mothers Ian Underwood, Bunk Garder and Roy Estrada, along with a new drummer, Aynsley Dunbar (who came to one of our shows with Frank). Mitchell's band It's A Beautiful Day played just before the Mothers, and blew everyone away. It was raining, but the sun came out and a rainbow formed over the mostly empty stadium as It's A Beautiful Day played their set. Then the Mothers came out and played in the rain. I caught Frank again in Amersterdam during the Inca Roads tour, then again in San Francisco at Winterland when Captain Beefheart opened and was roundly booed by Zappa's crowd. Times had changed and Frank's music and personality was being shaped by the decadent lifestyle and his sex addiction--yes, Gail, I know. KISS was the next show at Winterland that week. To me, KISS symbolized the death of a certain magical glow of innocence and appreciation for art within acid rock. True imagination became less and less profitable, so bands like KISS came along and provided every detail. But, . . . I digress.

As Mindsweeper progressed and began to build a reputation for solid comedy "shock" rock, other local entertainers joined us on stage at clubs and special events. Jane Dornacker, comedienne, actor, songwriter, radio celebrity and founder of Leila and the Snakes, was my mentor. After the break up of The Snakes, she joined Mindsweeper on stage whenever she was not too busy with her stand-up comedy schedule. For almost two years, Jane took it upon herself, simply because Mindsweeper went on after midnight, to go on between bands with props and experimental new material to keep the audience in their seats through four hours and four other bands of varying quality (mostly horrible) until Mindsweeper took the stage. She knew that her name would bring in more people for us. I paid her $10 a night! God bless her soul. I can get a good cry going anytime I think of her.

first Mabuhay gigwith Jane Dornacker These Dornaker/Mindsweeper shows were big painful laughs from start to finish. One night Rock and I fell off bar stools onto the floor together, laughing over Jane in a Nazi nurse outfit riffing with a medical school anatomical head that came apart, speaking in a German accent, sneering, prodding the muscles and veins off like someone picking their nose, accidentally poking out the eyes, sticking the pencil gently up the nose saying, "It is very important to maintain a healthy mucous layer in here. You must ingest two Twinkies and four Betty cakes daily to protect your vital organs with a layer of impervious mucous. The sinuses are especially . . . oops!" (the pencil slips and the brain falls out). Her mock German accent was simply priceless! The way she said "mucous" was enough to throw me over the edge. You really had to see her to understand and anyone reading this who knew Jane is probably dealing with a lump in the throat. Rock and I had a VERY hard time straightening up for our show whenever she was with us. And, I never drank so much beer as when she was on stage. I see the club receipts now and notice that all profits went into beer for the band, because we stayed in the club the entire night whenever Jane was on stage.

I consider the mid-70's to the mid-80's to be San Francisco's Golden Era of Poor Man's Cabaret. But, this freedom couldn't last in the environment laid down by our new Mayor, Diane Feinstein, who encouraged growth and development at all costs, damn the hometown vibe George Moscone championed before he was murdered. As rents went up bar and club owners saw highly entertaining material that resembled theater as bad for business simply because it kept people's attention away from the bar. This is currently the problem in Austin, Texas, by the way. Profits become more important than art as real estate prices go up. If you don't know already, those horrible bands at the Mabuhay Gardens sold more beer than the good bands, hence Dirk Dirksen's willingness to allow so much musical puke on stage. As a result it was a magic time for musicians in San Francisco, especially if you were an artist. Dirk held out as long as he could, just like us. God bless his memory and punk ass-clown soul, even if he did offer cocaine as payment for our gigs and thought Miki was gang fucking the band after every gig.

with Jane DornackerDuring 1981 and 1982 I expanded the band to accommodate more lush and complicated arrangements. We added a rhythm guitar. A vocal artist joined us briefly, as well as a keyboard player. The raw-yet-refined punk metal sound Mindsweeper honed over four years was enhanced for a while with four bass instruments--bowed bass, plucked Fender bass, synth and tuba. When Mindsweeper played your club, you had to nail shit down. The stage became a huge speaker from all the bass cabinets transfering the power directly to the floor, so deaf people loved us. There was no way for recordings to capture that power, but some recordings do hint of it.

When the band was at its peak, I got an offer from a wannabe producer from New York, a friend from the Patti Smith crowd. He had decent taste, at least. He wanted to move his monopoly drug money into something "fun," build a band around me, produce a record and take the new band on the road. There was a catch. Dink had to move to NYC and Dink's family was not invited. No wife and daughter allowed at the party in the Big Apple. I was told, by this fellow, who I had come to think of as a friend, that I had to fuck groupies, snort the coke, shoot the smack and play the part. Frankly, he was right. That is the way to get ahead in the music business. I guess he never calculated the value of my wife's cooking, and my complete apathy about money, dope and groupies. He didn't understand something most people do not get, that art is its on reward for a true artist. Once you put money above the work, you are no longer an artist, you are an American.

Mindsweeper and the Flaming GrooviesThe offer I actually took was rather descriptive of my methods of "doing business" at the time. I never wanted to leave San Francisco or my family for more than a couple of days at a time. I knew this music had to be kept local because it was about a place, San Francisco. I'd rather have control over my music and make really good product, than make a bunch of shit for money or compromise for a standard idiotic audience on the road. And anything I did artistically had to have an element of irony, visible or not.

Berkeley Square 27 NovemberOne day a fan, a drug dealer and heavy cocaine user (another way of saying "hardcore addict bound for destruction") asked if he could help me in any way without strings attached. There was never any question about where the money was coming from. Irony creeps into the act. I told this fellow of my obvious political stake in revealing, through a song, the sorry effects of cocaine on people's lives, then I take coke profits to make a recording of the very song that jabs at stupids who use coke to get courage enough to act like a creep. I can do that without drugs! So, ironically inspired, he came up with conditions by which I would be financed for the record. The record album had to include that anti-cocaine song and it had to be the title cut. Cocaine Zombie was recorded live in the studio, with the four piece band, overdubbing bowed bass, vocals, sparse keyboard and saxophone. We used the best studio for the job and the best engineer in the Bay Area. Mixing was done without automation and the core band was recorded live, so there is a huge element of performance in each recording. I traveled to Los Angeles to have the mixes mastered at Capitol Records by the best in the business, then delivered the print masters to the very best vinyl press in Los Angeles. I used the most expensive vinyl--the stuff they use for scientific recordings--for 25 copies, which were personalized and signed. I used highest quality commercial vinyl to produce 500 copies. I still have 30 copies. Because I spent the money on what I thought was important--the sound, we had no money left for marketing. Fuck it. I did the cover in a day with techniques I used to produce posters for clubs, found a distributor and paid for two ads in local rags. The record got airplay on college radio stations and in England. It sold 400 copies. It was popular in Marin, where I was compared to Jonathan Richmond. I'd never heard of him, so you know I didn't listen to College radio.

Meanwhile, almost every financially strong band in the Bay Area was a money laundering scheme for some big money cocaine dealer. My record made fun of this and used it, too. I was out in the open with everyone. I pissed off the very people who were hiring us, but time was running out for the club scene, anyway.

Over the years Mindsweeper grew to seven members. Stages were getting smaller and rehearsals more complex and expensive. At a point, it just got too crazy. More people mean more headaches. This is why, if you can do it at all, make your band a three-piece. (Shit, now I'm a one-piece.) Finances and peace-of-mind dictated a focus on pure rock music--a simpler, more efficient vehicle--for survival reasons. The parody punk/pop sound the band had perfected became easy to for us and was fun to share, so we just went that way. The extra frills of the stage show vanished and we started wearing flannel shirts and blue jeans instead of spandex and props. The music was still filled with dark humor and sex, but if no one listened to the lyrics, no harm, no foul. We were making fun, goodtime music that made folks feel good at the club. The songs got shorter, tighter, like little eggs. Except for the colorful lyrics and complicated arrangements, we resembled the same kind of power rock other art bands that came out of the SF punk scene produced. I think we had matured into an excellent club and party band, but we woudn't be more. I wouldn't let it happen. Mindsweeper 1984 Those who saw and heard the final version of the band were treated to overdoses of fun--a very tight, very smart, classic hard rock band practiced at sharing a good time. There were other bands of this ilk in San Francisco at the time, Dink Bridgerslike Flaming Groovies, Mutants and VKTMS. Mindsweeper was one of the best deals ever in rock and roll! Rock and Roll was never so fun or so cheap as in San Francisco from the late 70's into the mid 80's. As the mega stars showed their asses on MTV, Mindsweeper moved away from glitz and obvious parody to perform our version of rock and roll. Then we just went away without much notice.

The Mindsweeper club band ended its run with a series of polished performances in the small clubs we had grown to be a part of, at private parties around the Bay Area, for 40,000 people on the main stage of The Haight Street Fair and in front of shocked families at the Golden Gate Park Band Shell. The pay was always completely inadequate, so Miki and I supported the band any way we could. Sadly, I have no recordings of the band during those final few months. The budget was cut again and again, until we just showed up and played. No rehearsals necessary. After pulling in $10 to $250 a night for a band of up to seven members for nearly four years, a New Years Eve party at a local club the band had supported for years became the last straw. For more than we were to make at the gig I made and printed a poster of me giving the finger saying, "Fuck the New Year!" When we arrived at the club ready to play, the club owner threw a fit. "How do you think that makes our club look to the neighborhood?" I said something like, "Shit, we live in this neighborhood. Well, then uh, ah, . . . Fuck you!" The club band was history. I never made another attempt to play out, though I seem to remember playing at least one more private party.

The remaining two years of Mindsweeper's existence was in the studio as I took advantage of connections made as a studio musician and luthier to the stars. I worked with truly wonderful musicians in the studio, but after years of reflection, I can truly say that the best partnership I made within Mindsweeper was that original three piece with those two cute 19 year old prodigies. One couldn't find a way to remain in San Franciso and I never heard from him again. The other is still there, playing in a miriad of bands. I am in Moab, Utah making music by myself in a basement.

As for the studio work, I played guitar well enough to be known for it, so people wanted to play with me and wanted me to play for them. My songs were fancy, so studio engineers were excited about challenges I offered (until I worked them to death). My time in the studio was an education in sound recording that served me well when I went into filmmaking. And it produced some truly beautiful and interesting music--not much of it by comparison to someone like Zappa, but enough to give me a taste of satisfaction for my goals at the time. As a studio guitarist my competition was impressive--Joe Satriani, who had staked down a reputation with the Squares. They pretty much sucked except for his guitar playing. His records were safe and cool. He was a damn good guitar player, but he couldn't write for shit. He was so technical that his guitar playing sounded impressive, even when it was obviously contrived and over-rehearsed. This is only my opinion and while it is an honest statement of my impressions, I must say I have great respect for anyone who can stick with it enough to make it a career. I was the opposite, called the "The Outer Space Hot Dog," not just because I let the guitar take me places where no man had gone before, but because I never rehearsed, and my approach to songs written by others was very different from playing I did for myself. I didn't care if I played just one note, as long as it fit the meaning and feeling of the tune. And if the producer didn't like it, goodbye. Musically, I kissed thunder, hard rain and lightning very gently, then ran over baby rabbits with a tank. So many people tried to hook me up, to connect me with bands who could use something like me. But that never appealed, . . . or I just got the creeps from the bands. I don't warm up to turds. Go on the road? I have a beautiful wife and child. Groupies and hotels and bad food just didn't float my boat. I had already had sex with beautiful women, and managed to snag a soulmate by accident. Small local clubs were the right outlet for my craziness and Mindsweeper's aesthetic. An outside producer would have turned it to mush. The clubs were just down the street. I was sleeping with my wife and spending quality time with my daughter the whole time the band was at its peak. I could write about my hometown for people who lived there. Fuck the road! I like to travel to places I want to BE in, but I also like to BE in places I visit. My choices have been confirmed by my children, now a lawyer and an accountant and actor. I made enough hell for the whole damn family, including my sibblings who are still at home sucking off the tit. I gobbled up all the wild. And no one in the immediate family besides me is a musician, because I sucked up all that air, too. My children have the talent in them, but they saw the agony I went through to produce art. My daughter got a good look at the underbelly of the music business when she was in the first grade and sees me as someone chained to my talents. I would have loved to be in the real music business, but on my terms and that just doesn't happen to someone like me.

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All words and music Copyright Lee (Dink) Bridgers 1972 to 1985. Materials contained within this website may not be copied, broadcast, published, re-written, re-edited, or used in any way without written consent of DK Bridger. Use of this web site signifies agreement to terms of use.