Vox Pop—
Cab Driver / Just Like Your Mom

Released 1980 on Bad Trip
The Seth Man, December 2022ce
Located in depths lower than those occupied by the Masque, the Canterbury, or The Germs’ rehearsal garage was a group of misfits within a larger group of misfits in Los Angeles known as Vox Pop. All six members performed simultaneously in other groups, before, during and after their intermittent four-year existence. A supreme exercise in drugged untogetherness, even Germs frontman Darby Crash called them “the worst group in the world.” Which was poetically perfect, as founding member Don Bolles travelled from Phoenix, Arizona to Los Angeles in 1978 when a decade earlier, Alice Cooper drove that same lonesome highway through the desert in search of kicks in a cooler clime to be called the exact same thing by Frank Zappa.

Speaking of Alice Cooper, Vox Pop was built on a love of them as well as Stooges, MC5, and Blue Cheer -- The latter of which provided them with their name, a corruption of the title of their debut VINCEBUS ERUPTUM album. Assembled quickly for a one-off show on November 18, 1979 at King’s Palace on Hollywood Boulevard by recent Hawaiian émigré Jeff Dahl with drummer Don Bolles, Vox Pop were comprised of: Jeff Dahl on guitar and vocals (Angry Samoans, Powertrip); Paul Cutler on bass (The Consumers, 45 Grave, The Dream Syndicate); Michael Ochoa on synthesizer (Nervous Gender); Del Hopkins on drums (45 Grave); Dinah Cancer on tambourine and vocals (45 Grave) and Don Bolles (Germs, 45 Grave) on fuzz-wah guitar and vocals.

How they remained together is a mystery, but they did persist with live shows throughout Los Angeles during their brief tenure. Their discography is bitty, piecemeal, and outside of their first release, the “Cab Driver” single, most of it is unrepresentative of what the group were like live. Their shows featured nudity, violence, and volume and as Don Bolles would recollect years later: “People did not wanna go see someone being like Flipper-meets-Runaways-and-Faust.” Going from ‘let it die’ to ‘kill it with fire,’ they were a chaotic mess both visually and musically: Don Bolles usually performed in makeup and drag; Dinah Cancer dressed as the proto-Goth queen of the undead she was; Jeff Dahl wore ripped denim, dog collars, and topped off with a red afro, looked every inch a member of The Dictators; Paul Cutler in a full-length organza evening gown offset with formal earrings...Meanwhile, synthesizer/electronics player Michael Ochoa and Del Hopkins hung off to the back and side in their street clothes. And what this mismatched ensemble concocted was a cacophony beyond punk. It was psychedelic. It was heavy. It wasn’t punk but was what punk was supposed to be about -- doing what you wanted and damn all consequences, torpedoes, commerciality and don’t think about it...Just DO IT!

Happily, Vox Pop were captured for posterity on a 1982 episode of NEW WAVE THEATRE. Shot live on video in Los Angeles and broadcast on UHF channel 18, host Peter Ivers introduced dozens of new groups from California and especially, in and around Los Angeles. After he introduced Vox Pop, he broke his usually soft-spoken, cool, and calm demeanor with the crazed proclamation:

“Vox Pop, with scathing personalities, drive us…INTO DOOM!

What drove Peter Ivers crazy that night was their performance of both sides of their first single, “Cab Driver” / “Just Like Your Mom.” Recorded two years previous at Media Arts Studio in Manhattan Beach, California by Spot, the group requested he leave the recording levels set as they were for the previous client. (As it would happen, it was Black Flag’s “Jealous Again.”) It turned out to be an inspired decision, as it captured the weight and heft of the group as they sludged through Dickie Petersonian trudge rhythms on the A-side while a furiously pummeling flipside captures the group’s undiluted Detroitian ramalama, fa-fa-fa. With completely psychotic guitar solos replete with synthesizer fuckedupnessess. Perfect.

Unfortunately, at this point in time Los Angeles punk was just beginning to shift gears into its hardcore phase and there was no place for Vox Pop. They did open for Throbbing Gristle at the Veteran’s Auditorium, LA, but soon, the energy dissipated and most of the group swept themselves full-time into 45 Grave. Jeff Dahl went on to join The Angry Samoans then Powertrip while Michael Ochoa continued with Nervous Gender. There was no Plan B, it just happened. But there was no greater noise than Vox Pop.

Play it loud:

Vox Pop: “Cab Driver” plus interview (NEW WAVE THEATRE, 1982)

Vox Pop: “Just Like Your Mom” (NEW WAVE THEATRE, 1982)

Vox Pop Discography

“Cab Driver” / “Just Like Your Mom” (Bad Trip Records) 1980
The Band The Myth The Volume EP (Mystic Records) 1982
(“Become A Pagan” / “Production” / “Procession”)

Chunks (New Alliance Records) 1981
(“You're My Favorite”)
Life Is Beautiful So Why Not Eat Health Foods? (New Underground Records) 1983
(“Good Times Part 1”; “Paint It Black”)
Life Is Boring So Why Not Steal This Record (New Underground Records) 1983 (“Tumble Bug”)

“More Drugs Than Elvis - Live KPFK Radio 1980” (Very Bad Trip Records) unknown