“Dope, Guns & F*cking Up Your Video Deck, Vol. 1″: A compendium of Amphetamine Reptile’s early 90-era noise punk videos

By on May 14, 2016

We have the Dope, Guns & F*cking Up Your Video Deck, Vol. 1 featured under our Music Documentary category over on our Night Flight Plus channel, but it’s not really a traditional “documentary”: think of it more as a video compendium comprised of filmed performances by a handful of cutting edge noise rock band, along with interstitial comedy bits by comedian Rich Kronfeld as “Dr. Sphincter.”

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D, G & FUYVD, Vol. 1 is a time-capsule of VHS videos that were released by the Amphetamine Reptile label, founded in 1986 by U.S. marine veteran Tom Hazelmyer, who was originally stationed near Seattle, WA, in the mid-80s.

Like so many like-minded indie label owners, he originally started the imprint for vinyl releases by his own originally Minneapolis-based band Halo of Flies.

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Hazelmyer — who, after he was discharged from the USMC, headed back to Minneapolis — released three of the bands singles (in 1986 and ’97) before he started issuing 7-inch singles, and, eventually, full-length albums, by other noise rock bands, such as the Cows, Helmet, Tar, Surgery, Helios Creed, Boss Hog, the Thrown Ups, the God Bullies and the U-Men, to name just a few.

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Tom Hazelmyer, from The Color Of Noise

If you shopped for noise rock records in stores during that decade, you’d likely find a catch-all bin card for Amphetamine Reptile’s — AmRep for short — releases as the label became well-known for their prodigious punk output.

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Noise Rock, we should point out, is just a generic neologism, as the roster of mostly-subterranean acts spanned the spectrum from abrasive industrial bands to raucously ear-shattering loud punk bands. These were the truly “alternative” bands who were rocking hard in the Nineties, and not those bands dubbed Alt Rock, who were really not the “alternative” to anything.

Five of AmRep’s bands were later picked-up by a major and one of them, Helmet, inadvertently conceived nu metal (aka nü-metal and aggro-metal), combining elements of heavy metal music with elements of other music genres such as hip hop, alternative rock, funk and grunge.

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Helmet, from The Color of Noise

A good way to get familiar with the label’s releases was there hugely successful compilation series, Dope-Guns-N-Fucking In The Streets, originally a 7-inch single series, which featured new songs from AmRep bands alongside exclusive tracks (licensed from labels like SubPop Records) from popular 90s bands like Mudhoney, Superchunk, the Jesus Lizard, Jawbox and the Boredoms.

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The title of the series was a slight modification of part of the platform statement released by the White Panther Party, who were formed by John Sinclair and others in Detroit in 1968, who said they were devoted to a “Total assault on the culture by an means necessary, including rock ‘n’ roll, dope, and fucking in the streets.”

This collection is kind of a “best-of video” compilation (courtesy of distributor Atavistic Video) of VHS transfers from videos released on the Video Deck series in 1990, ’92 and ’94, featuring assorted videos from AmRep’s great roster of bands:

Helmet (“Bad Mood”); Helios Creed (“The Rant”); Cows (“Cartoon Corral”); Vertigo (“Tonic Thing”); King Snake Roost (“Top End Killer”); God Bullies (“Cemetary”); Tar (“Les Paul Worries”); Lubricated Goat (“In the Raw”); Surgery (“Maliblues”); and, Hazelmyer’s Halo of Flies (“No Time”).

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Cows, from The Color of Noise

These aren’t videos or bands you were likely to see on MTV, obviously, and one thing you’ll notice immediately is that the art direction and production values is highly experimental. (If you’re a fan of experimental noise rock and looking for a more traditional documentary, check out D.U.I., which we told you about earlier this year).

If you’re still looking for a documentary, but want to see one focused on Amphetamine Reptile, then seek out director Eric Robel’s more recent documentary about Hazelmyer (“Haze” to his friends) and his label, called The Color of Noise.

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Tom Hazelmyer, from The Color Of Noise

The videos are presented in D,G & FUYVD, Vol. 1 are broken up by a kind of heavily gimmicky annueal stock report segues for AmRep Industries, a fictitious company headed up by the nerdly Dr. Sphincter, who was (is?) a local late-night public-access TV character of Kronfeld’s, popular or at least familiar in the greater Minneapolis-area.

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Kronfeld — best known as the host of Comedy Central’s “Let’s Bowl,” or from his multiple roles on the syndicated children’s TV show “The Choo Choo Bob Show,” or from his low-budget comedy movies, Trekkies and Six Days in Roswell — is apparently a little upset that AmRep Industries (who purchased the Amphetamine Reptile label’s output) is still having to prop-up this former noise rock company for the stockholders (“What is this, a commune?” he says to someone he sees in an office, while a hand-held camera follows him during a tour of the old AmRep headquarters).

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Dr. Sphincter (RIch Kronfeld), from The Color Of Noise

Hazelmyer was always very much into underground graphics, and at its height, Amphetamine Reptile partnered with really great graphic artists like Coop and Frank Kozik, and also hooked up with companies like Zippo lighters and publishing giant Feral House.

Amphetamine Reptile didn’t quite deactivate in the late 90s — they simply stopped releasing music by new artists — and as time went on, Hazelmeyer, along with partners Pat Dwyer and Mike Wolfe, didn’t think the newer bands doing similar music were as interesting as the bands from the earlier part of the decade.

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Tom Hazelmyer, photo by Tom Wallace/Minneapolis Star-Tribune

Hazlemeyer (described by the Dangerous Minds blog as “colorfully cranky”) is today more focused on his printmaking (under the alter-ego moniker HAZE XXL), and running the Ox-Op Art Gallery, as well as operating a franchise of bars called Grumpy’s (there are several of them now, in northeast and downtown Minneapolis, and Roseville, Minnesota) with his father and longtime friend and current/former AmRep partner Pat Dwyer.

Below, the original VHS cover art for Vol. 1 of Dope, Guns & Fucking Up Your Video Deck

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About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.