Since their formation in 1980 Portland punk rock icons Poison Idea were a musical force of nature with a tempestuous history filled with many ups and downs but ultimately doing what they loved and not caring what anyone else thought. The band released some of the best punk/hardcore releases in history from their debut 7″ Pick Your King through 1990s seminal Feel The Darkness to their last album Confuse & Conquer in 2015 and Poison Idea literally didn’t give a fuck about anything apart from releasing the best music they could, which they always succeeded in. The band sadly split up at the start of this year but frontman Jerry A is not done yet. We caught up with him to hear all about the band and why they split, their history and legacy, drugs, his hometown of Portland, punk rock, his plans for the future and more. Poison Idea are dead but long live Jerry A and we can’t wait to see what he has planned for the future.
Since the demise of Poison Idea, are you doing anything musically at the moment or have you got any plans to do anything musical in the future?
Not anything that I can jump on stage and start blasting. The other guys almost acted like it was really important to get back on a stage as quick as possible to somehow keep the power going or some bullshit? When it comes, it’ll come. I’ve been working on lots of different things and was doing that even before Poison Idea stopped. I’ll give it a year maybe and then have the urge to stand in front of people and let them judge me for this art that I’m creating. I have a better time sitting in my basement, playing to my dogs, that’s probably where that music belongs anyway.
With Poison Ideas brilliant last album Confuse & Conquer, did you want want to go out on a high with the band with that record?
That kinda goes along with what I said about getting our act together and not ripping people off and trying to do a good job. I was happy with that record. It shows what you can do when you actually give two shits.
When did you realise it was time for the band to end?
When I realized I wasn’t getting 1/10th of what I was putting into it, back as a return. And I’m not talking monetary. Spiritually, mentally, loyally, and physically. When most of the shows consist of apologizing to the soundmen for people acting like children, promoters for rockstar attitudes, demanding people to stop whatever they’re doing and run out to get water. Complaining about travel, accommodations, food, and then how much money they’re getting? It wasn’t fucking worth it. To teach a whole batch of other people that same fifty songs all over again? No. I think in order to have a band run properly every single part has to work together.
Given how nihilistic and fast living the band were, were you surprised how long you lasted?
Yes and no. I mean Tom died from living that way. I lost bones and toes on my feet from diabetes infection, and we were all strung out on drugs for years. I didn’t want to go to prison or rot slowly, so I just stopped.
What were your drinks and drugs of choice in Poison Idea?
Anything. The stronger the better. Heroin. Meth. Crack. and alcohol.
When you got Poison Idea back together after splitting in the 1990s, what was it that prompted you to get back together then?
Drugs,then. We got back together to support our drug habits and after awhile I decided that was cheating people and called a band meeting and said we have to get our shit together and sober up and start making music. Playing good shows, and recording good records. And we did.
Is that definitely it for the band or would you consider getting back together at all, even for a one off show?
I dunno. No one can predict the future but for today, right now, tomorrow. I don’t want to see any of those people. Or at least a couple of the fucked ones.
I was lucky enough to see you live in Bristol, UK before you split up and was so glad I did. Do you miss playing live or touring at all?
What was the craziest thing that ever happened at a Poison Idea show?
Honestly, probably playing a show completely sober. When chaos happens at every single show, insanity is an everyday thing. I mean sitting upstairs and hearing what sounded like a melon getting crushed and then finding out it was a persons head getting split by a wooden log, it lost it’s fun.
What has been the best gig you’ve ever seen?
P.I.? I mean I’ve seen a lot of good shows. But probably playing with bands that I really like. Leatherface, The Hard-Ons, Scream, Black Flag, stuff like that. I’ve seen a lot of shows. Still go to shows.
Poison Idea were active for over thirty five years. What are some of your fondest memories with the band?
Talking with Tom, driving through Sweden in the rain. Seeing Monte Carlo on mushrooms as we’re driving by without knowing where we were. Meeting beautiful people. People who really get off on the music.
What got you into music in the first place?
I was young. Very young. Some people like sports, some like cars, some people like music. I was a music nerd.
How did you get into punk rock initially?
Natural progression. Rock was starting to suck. I liked Metal and it was horrible. The Ramones came out and being 11, 12 years old, it blew me away.
What were the early days of being a punk rocker like in Portland?
Dangerous. But that makes it exciting. Anything that’s worth it’s salt is hard to get. people have stuff handed to them to easy these days. When you have to work for something it taste that much sweeter when you get it. And you appreciate it more.
Is Portland as gentrified today as the media makes out and how do you fell about the changes that have been made in the city?
Yes, Portland is gentrified but that’s what’s happening everywhere. I hate it, but I’m powerless, can’t do anything except complain and that doesn’t do anything. Give yourself a headache. make the best of it and get on with your life. But don’t forget these fucking snakes who made this mess.
How do you feel about punk rock in 2017?
I don’t know what punk rock is today. A uniform? a Xeroxed sound and look? If you’re talking about that stuff, I chose to ignore it.
Did you ever get any flak for calling yourselves Kings Of Punk or did you not give a fuck what anyone thought?
We were never kings of nothing. It’s all been done before by better. We were just doing our own thing and putting our own stamp on it. I don’t think anyone ever felt threatened by that, if they did they were fools. Does professional wrestling make them seriously mad also?
Do you listen to any new punk or is it just the classics that you listen to?
I will listen to anything that is good. Proof- www.houseofsound.org. Friday 7-9 a.m. Portland time. My podcast. I play everything that keeps me alive.
Which Poison Idea album is your favourite?
It changes. When we were recently remixing Latest Will I thought, “Wow! I used to hate this, this is really good!” I kinda like it all.
Poison Idea released the album Record Collectors Are Pretentious Assholes, does it bother you at all if people sell Poison Idea records for crazy prices online?
People sell potato chips that look like Michael Jackson for hundreds of dollars, whatta ya gonna do?
What is your all time favourite album ever?
The one I’m gonna make later this year. TRUE.