Authorities (original name: The Defectors) Stockton 1978-1986 members: Brian Thalken, guitar Nick Kappos (aka Big Nick Slurb), guitar, bass Dexter (Neil Schafer), first singer (kicked out for pulling a knife on other members) Casey Wiss, drummer Curt Hall, vocals Mark Bramwell, drums (also kicked out) Tom Anderson, drums Moe Ron (Ron Coppetti), bass Rondo (Ron Carson), second guitar Dave Kambestead, drums Tony Smith, bass Victor Johnson, drums Jeff Carson, guitar & vocals Chris Isaac, tr...
(original name: The Defectors)
Brian Thalken, guitar
Nick Kappos (aka Big Nick Slurb), guitar, bass
Dexter (Neil Schafer), first singer (kicked out for pulling a knife on other members)
Casey Wiss, drummer
Curt Hall, vocals
Mark Bramwell, drums (also kicked out)
Tom Anderson, drums
Moe Ron (Ron Coppetti), bass
Rondo (Ron Carson), second guitar
Dave Kambestead, drums
Tony Smith, bass
Victor Johnson, drums
Jeff Carson, guitar & vocals
Chris Isaac, tried out for band but couldn't play guitar fast enough
Ron Coppetti sent me email that said "I was the bass player in the band for about 4 years, I am still alive and well and have a new Band that I play Bass in. I was never kicked out of the band, I quit the band because some of the members were doing Heroin and I knew I didn't want to die from trying that type of Drug, nore would I ever try it. Also I'm the guy who wrote the song 'Shot In The Head'."
The part about being kicked out is mentioned in the interview page that I link to at the top. I'll do an interview with Ron that will be here sometime.
Brian Thalken replied on May 17, 2002:
A friend forwarded this thread from Ron Coppetti to me so I thought I'd comment.
Yes, technically Ron did quit the band, although his reason he gives is not true. The real story is that we had set up a tour of the Pacific Northwest and at the last minute Ron and Dave Kambestead refused to go, so we didn't, but that decision sealed their fate. Shortly thereafter we played at the Galactica 2000 and after the show there was a silly fight about something real important (like who got the last beer) and Ron stormed off saying that he quit the band (as he often did). We jumped on the opportunity and immediately hired Tony Smith who was patiently waiting in the wings. The next morning Ron phoned to see what time practice was and I told him that since he quit he was out. Shortly thereafter we relieved Dave of his drumming duties and brought in Victor.
As for Ron saying that he left because some members of the band were into heroin, horseshit. At the time Ron was in the band no one, including Nick, had ever touched heroin. Also, the only member of the band to die of a drug overdose was Nick. We stopped playing in 1983, Nick died in 1989. As far as I know the only other former members that have died are Dave Kambestead, in about 1991, of AIDS (which was in no way drug related) and Dexter who died of cirrhosis of the liver (I'm not sure exactly when), but Ron and Dexter never met.
In any case, I wish Ron nothing but the best now and I sincerely hope that he's doing well. I would love to hear more from him and see the photos he has too.
Ron replied (Sept 4, 2002):
Hi I just read the last email from Brian Thalken -- a bunch of lies!
like I said I quit the Band because of the (some) members were doing Heroin.
as for the leaders of the band were Nick Kappos $ Curt Hall. as I recall Brian Thalken played with us on and off ( not really a band member )
as for the Tour of the Pacific Northwest, the Problem with it was I didn't want to go passed the Canadian Border and get busted with Heroin that other members were doing.
And responding to Brian Thalken's "As for Ron saying that he left because some members of the band were into heroin, horseshit. At the time Ron was in the band no one, including Nick, had ever touched heroin. Also, the only member of the band to die of a drug overdose was Nick." ( fucking liar Brian Thalken you always talk behind other peoples back and I was one of them the fact is you would get your ass kicked if you said that to my face fucker! come to CA and we can talk this out man to man ASS!
better yet I know your buddy Brian Stocker and I told him this BS get a fuck
just think I used to like Brian Thalken alot after this he has prove what a
lier he still is today best Regards to you Brain :-)
Soundtrack For Trouble 7" Selecta PICK1, 1982 PS
(Achtung! / I Hate Cops // Radiationmasturbation / Shot In The Head)
Copulation Compilation LP (Mystic, 1984) I Hate Cops
Puppy Love LP (Existential Vacuum, 1999), cd (Get Hip), Unreleases studio stuff, and Sountrack for Trouble
Bourbon Decay, EP (Cafe Racer CR0001)
by JOHN ST. JOHN...
John's interview with Brian Thalken, guitarist of The Authorities
(This may or may not appear in a future issue of Maximum Rock'n'Roll)
1. How about a brief history of the band, who started it and where?
Curt and I were friends since we were kids. We were in Sea Scouts together until a friend of ours intentionally sank our boat, the Vernon Anderson, and then there was nothing to do, but fortunately we discovered punk rock and started learning to play in a band. This was in 1977. We used to practice at his mom and dad's house and we called ourselves the Defectors. We would drive up to San Francisco every Friday and Saturday night to go to the Mabuhay Gardens. Back then it was the place to be. Cover was $3.00 and you got to see 3 bands. The first band started at 11:00, the next one at midnight and the headliner went on at 1:00 and was over by 2:00. Beer was $1.25 a bottle and they didn't care that we were 16, they gave us free extra salty pop corn and served us all the beer we could afford (which as about 3 or 4 back then!). We used to get drunk and then drive back to Stockton and then do it all again the next day. We saw some great bands, the Avengers, the Dead Kennedys first headlining show, the Germs, Leila and the Snakes, the Mutants, the Offs loads of others.
The Authorities were originally formed in the fall of 1978. I found an ad in Miracle Music that said, "Punks wanted to form new wave band". At that point there were no punks in Stockton, well, there was me and Curt and a few friends of ours, but no one else. I called the number on the ad and got in touch with Dexter (Neil Schafer) who was from Stockton but had been living in San Francisco playing drums in a band called Rad Command. He had just moved back to Stockton and wanted to form a band with himself as the front man and call it the Authorities. He was the one that came up with the name. He had a drummer (Casey Wiss) and a bass player (Nick Kappos aka Big Nick Slurb) lined up, but we had to wait for Nick to get out of juvenile hall where he was doing time because he got caught by his mom and dad with a joint. Once Nick was released we started getting together and practicing. Nick and I clicked right away. We were into the same things and we loved punk rock and playing guitar.
At first we did a bunch of Ramones songs, a few originals, and some Stooges covers. We played our first gig on February 2, 1979 (the day Sid Vicious died) at Stuar Larson High School. After that one show the drummer quit. Nick and I tried to convince Dexter to move back to drums but he wouldn't hear of it. Dexter was a real strange cat. He was a bit older than us, we were about 17 and he was like 26 or so and at the time 26 seemed so old to us. Dexter was in to sniffing glue big time and we didn't really get into that. One night while Nick and I were visiting Dexter, he was really high on glue and he pulled out a knife on us and accused us stealing his gun. He held us hostage for about an hour or so and we finally managed to escape when he went to the bathroom. After that, needless to say, we kicked Dexter out of the band (I heard a while back that he had died of cirrhosis of the liver). We then got a guy Nick went to school with named Mark Bramwell on drums. He wasn't a very good drummer but he was the only one we could find. We all hated Mark, (Curt later wrote the song Nobody Likes Him about Mark) he was a real poser, a prick and he was a thief so we kicked him out too. About at this point the band disbanded briefly and I formed the Fall of Christianity with Tharon Knight and Gary Young (who went on to fame with Pavement). Nick then switched from playing bass to guitar and recruited Curt as the bass player and continued on as the Authorities. They got Tom Anderson on drums and then Moe Ron (Ron Coppetti) joined the band as the bass player and Curt just sang. The band went on with this line up for a year or so along with Rondo (Ron Carson) added as a second guitar player. About the time that Rondo left the band, I was ready to quit the Fall of Christianity and I came back to the Authorities. By that time Tom Anderson had moved away and Dave Kambestead was playing drums. When I came back we kicked Moe Ron out of the band and replaced him with a friend of mine, Tony Smith. This is the line up that recorded the Sound Track for Trouble. Shortly after recording the record we kicked Dave out and replaced him with Victor Johnson (Dave was a bad drunk and rudely annoying). We carried on for another few of years with that line up.
2. how do you feel of the sudden interests in the band, being on Killed By Death and all?
It's kind of weird but it's been going on for about a dozen years or more now so I'm no longer surprised by it. It's just too bad that we couldn't have had a little more attention when we were trying so hard to get it!
3. any good stories of some old shows... did you play with any big bands from back in the day?
I could write a book on funny stuff that happened at our shows. We played with lots of the big bands of the time, Dead Kennedys, Subhumans, Black Flag, DOA, and Circle Jerks. We also played with loads of really great bands that weren't so famous, the Mutants, the Mixers, Rude Norton, Personality Crisis, Los Olvidados. In those days there weren't a lot of clubs to play, and none in Stockton, so we put on shows ourselves. We put on shows at the Jester's Club, the Mexican Social Center, and the American Legion hall. In the Bay Area we played at the Mabuhay Gardens, Berkeley Square, On Broadway, Ruthie's Kitchen. In Sacramento we played the China Wagon, Galactica 2000, Club Minimal. We played everywhere we could. We toured the west coast from Fresno to Vancouver. We played house parties, we played at the grand opening of Chucky Cheese in Stockton, we played at the opening of the Federated stereo store, we played at Delta College & UOP, we opened up for the Rocky Horror Picture Show and a full scale riot broke out! They tried to make us stop playing but we wouldn't, the crowd was slam dancing, throwing things, going wild with delight! The cops were called and in the end Nick was carted off to jail. I think someone has all that on audiotape somewhere. I remember Kelly Foley designed the poster for the show and it said "playing their hit single: I Hate Cops" and as the cops were loading Nick in the car they were saying "can't wait to hear your hit single Nick."
Another little known fact is that Chris Isaak tried out for the band (long before he was famous), but we didn't let him in because he couldn't play guitar fast enough! I'll bet he still kicks himself in the ass for that!
4. Since we are from the same town, im interested, do you ever go back? Do you or any of the other guys still have family there. I ask this because we both know what a shit hole it has become and was just curious if you avoid the whole deal like me?
I like Stockton. I don't think I would want to live there full time again, but I go back to Stockton once or twice a year. My mom lives in Lodi, I've got a brother and a sister there as well, one brother in Stockton, one in Sacramento and one in LA. Curt's mom still lives in Stockton, Tony's mom lives in Lodi, and Victor still lives in Lodi. I like going back and visiting, seeing my family and old friends that are still there, and going to get some real Mexican food. The Mexican food in Stockton is better than anywhere else on earth. I try to avoid going to Stockton in the summer though as I can't take the heat. That's why I moved to Vancouver, nice rainy, cool summers. I usually go back to Stockton around Thanksgiving when it's cooled down.
5. Are you in contact with any of the old members from the band, what are they up to? Where are they living?
Ya, we stay in touch. Curt lives in Berkeley he writes books and newsletters for the software industry, Tony is in Monterey and he's a school teacher, Victor still lives in Lodi and he's still a musician. I live in Vancouver, Canada and I make video games.
6. How were you, (or who ever it was) approached by killed by death? Were they cool to deal with?
The original compilation that I Hate Cops came out on was called Copulation, which was back in about 1982 or 83 (about the same time as we released the Soundtrack for Trouble). I think that maybe there were another one or two compilations that had some of our songs on as well. Killed by Death never approached us at all. They (whomever they are) just stuck us on the record. (I've heard through the grapevine that Steve Malkmus (Pavement) had something to do with it. I tried talking to Steve a couple of times when Pavement played in Vancouver but he's too much of a Rockstar to bother talking to me, so I'm not sure how it happened.) It must have been about 1988 or so, I was in a record store with a friend in San Francisco and he held the record up to me and asked me if I had ever seen it, I said no and he said "well, your on it". That was the first I heard about it. We never received any money and didn't even get any free records. After that other compilations started picking us up and putting us on theirs as well.
7. How did it feel to be compared to all these amazing, obscure bands when you discovered you were to be added on one of the comps? Obviously stoked but, what are your thoughts on being put into the same class as such greats as The Huns, Zero Boys, Peer Presure etc...?
Well, in my humble opinion the Authorities were an amazing band, and yes we were obscure, so I guess we fit right in with them. By the time we fell apart we had been playing together for about 6 years, practicing 3 or 4 times a week, we were incredibly tight. Coming from Stockton we just didn't get the exposure that we would have had we been from San Francisco, LA or some other larger city. I'm sure there are a million bands out there with the same story. As for being added to the compilations, I think they should have paid us something. I would have been stoked about that.
8. I know the story that floats around stockton... would you like to comment on your former guitar player nicks death? what happened? (I know death is no fun talking about... especially when it involves your friends, if you want to pass on this one that's fine, or if you would like to set the record straight on things... then by all means.)
Nick died in April of 1989 from a heroin overdose in a stall of the Greyhound bus depot in downtown Stockton. Nothing romantic about his death; it was ugly. He should not have died but he did. Don't fuck with that drug, no matter how much you think you can handle it, you can't and it will get you in the end. I think about him every day and I miss him. The really sad part is that Nick's girlfriend was pregnant at the time of his death and they didn't even know it. Nick's got a kid that he never had the chance to meet.
9. Are you still into punk rock? What bands are you into now a days?
Yes, I'm still into punk rock but I also listen to all kinds of music. I have a harder time keeping up with what is hip and current in the scene these days. As for punk rock I mainly listen to what's coming out of Vancouver, that's easier for me to keep up with; lately it's been the Black Halos, the Evaporators, the Spitfires, and Filthy Rocket. I've also got quite an amazing collection of old punk rock records that I still listen to as well. I don't get out to shows very often though. If anyone wants to send me their records feel free to do so, I always like checking out new stuff.
10. This one is kind of an inside question. I'm not sure if im gonna use it but, what high school did the Authorities go to? Do you remember any of the old punk rockers/skaters like Opie, Brian Chuck, Dave Sanderson, Chris Fink, Ralph Yanes? Who did the Authorities hang out with?
I went to Edison and then to Golden Valley, Curt went to AA Stagg, Tony and Victor went to Lodi High, and Nick went to Lincoln. We hung out with each other, Gary Young, Jeff Stroh, Brian Griffith, Winebrain O'Reilly, Richard "the King" Rishwain, (Ken) Blake the Snake, Jeanie Lamborghini, Vince Voodoo, Tharon Knight, Chris Ford, Corn Fed Jay, the guys that were in the Young Pioneers/Straw Dogs, Sprinkler, Steve Thompson, Steve Malkmus, Bill Cossette and Chuck Valpe hung around too. I don't know any of those guys that you mentioned; at least I don't remember them. I suspect that they came along after us. I'm sure they're all very cool shmoes though seeing as they're from the Little Apple.
11. What are some of your favorite songs you guys did? One of em' has to be "Achtung," yeah?
"Achtung" was cool, ya I like that one. My favorite all time Authorities song was one that Curt and Nick wrote called Bend Me. Unfortunately I can't remember that song ever being recorded, although we may have on a 2 track during a practice, but all of those practice tapes are long gone. "Screaming Alcoholic" was another one I loved, but that was never recorded either.
12. Who inspired the Authorities back in the day... and what local bands, (if any) did you play with?
We used to listen to all sorts of music and took inspiration from all over the place. The Ventures were a real big influence on Nick. Iggy and the Stooges, the Ramones, the Damned were all big influences on us. As for playing with local bands, if they were doing something other than disco/top 40 we probably played with them. There were the Mixers, Drop the Razor Gramps, the Strolling Huns, Krrrrrrl, Terminal Boredom, all fine bands.
13. What are your feelings on punk rock today... with Green Day and Rancid being so commercial and the whole "extreme" generation deal classifying itself with punk rock?
Punk rock today isn't what it was back in the late 70's early 80's. Back then people really felt threatened by it, they were scared by it, mainly because it was different than what they were used to hearing and they didn't understand it. That's what made it exciting for us. Today's punk rock is top 40 pop music. As far as Green Day or Rancid, those guys have worked hard to get the success that they have, but I don't really listen to them.
14. Looking back... Is there anything that you regret as far as the band went?
Not really. I guess I do wish that we had toured a bit more, but back then it was hard. We played every show we could get, although at times they were few and far between. I had a great time though, it was a great experience to grow up during those times.
15. What made you guys call it a day? Did you try to carry on without Nick?
Basically we just kind of fell apart when Tony, Curt and I moved to San Francisco to go to school at San Francisco State University. We never officially broke up...
16. The other day I saw an Authorities 7" on ebay going for like 120 dollars... Do you have any of those old Authorities albums laying around.... You always hear the the stories of some lucky fool who stumbles across ten of them at a garage sale or somethin'...
I've got a few left. I'm going to save them to pay for my kid's college education! It's funny but we used to have a hard time selling those records for $2 at our shows and now they go for $200 on ebay. I think it's a little obscene, actually. If I had $200 to blow I think I could find a much better use than buying an old record. If you want the music just do a Napster (or whatever) search and you can find it. You don't have to pay through the nose for it.
17. A year or so ago, I acquired the Puppy Love album on CD at Slip Skate Shop in Stockton, (thought id give my buddy Eric a plug... shop at Slip!) and was amazed to see the album on CD format... did Get Hip repress the vinyl as well? How was it dealing with them?
The vinyl was put out first by a guy named Ryan Richardson from down in Texas that has a label called Existential Vacuum. As I remember it, Ryan tracked me down and wanted to re-release the ep. I wasn't too thrilled by that but we did have a bunch of recorded material that was never released so we bundled it with the four songs that were on the ep and he released it as the Puppy Love LP. He did a run of 1000 records that sold out right away. Get Hip out of Pittsburgh, PA then picked it up as a CD, did a run of 1000 as well and they sold out too. As for dealing with both Ryan and Get Hip, they were great, very professional and best of all they are honest and they paid us every penny they owed to us. A few years back we were all in Stockton around Thanksgiving and we went over the Gary Young's studio and fooled around for a day and ended up with 6 or 7 songs that we released as the Bourbon Decay EP. Get Hip distributed the record and I believe that they sold all of the copies they had as well. Other than that I think we still have one or two songs from the old days that have been recorded but never released. Maybe someday.
There was also this guy out of Davis (I can't remember his name!) that was trying to start a label and he had four bands cover the songs on the Soundtrack for Trouble, there was Screeching Weasel doing "Achtung," Tesco Vee's Hate Police doing "Shot in the Head," Alcoholics Unanimous and the Circus Tents. (I can't remember which one did "I Hate Cops" and which did "Radiationmasturbation"). He paid for all of the studio time and the music was recorded and ready to go, but before he could release it he had a nervous breakdown and disappeared. I'm not sure whatever happened to the tapes. I've got a cassette of it somewhere, and it's really cool, but it would be way cool if he ever came out of the woodwork and put the record out. Hell if I could find him I'd put the record out. I saw a Screeching Weasel album with our song on it but I'm not sure if they credited us for it, I couldn't find the credit anyway, maybe they did.
18. I guess thats about it Brian. Do you have any final comments you would like to say at this time?
Well, if there are any big record company moguls out there that are looking for the next big thing that already happened 20 years ago give me a call and if the price is right we'll give you our next record! Other than that, thanks very much for looking me up, it's always nice meeting another Stockton by-product. When in Stockton everyone should go to Maria's Cafe at 825 E. Main Street. Tell Maria I say hello, as I don't get to see her very often now that I'm in Canada. Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply.