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"Every Pylon show we play from here on out is going to be our last show."
--Curtis Crowe (Pylon)
Oct.08 Cover - 688 Club PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jeff Clark   

ImageKim Turner: “In the early days I would go see the Heathen Girls and the Restraints and Baby & the Pacifiers, all the Atlanta groups that were being played on 88. The Athens music scene kind of overshadowed it, but I just thought that Atlanta music was so great. And it was almost like kind of a parody of itself. Everything was very funny – the music was funny, the lyrics were funny, and they never really took themselves too seriously. I just always got the humor in Atlanta music. And then you meet these local bands that you’ve heard on the radio when you’re 16 years old, and you’re just like, ‘Oh my God!’ To me, they were stars. I remember running into Marc Stowe for the first time and being so nervous – it was like meeting the Pope or something. And I had a big thing for Mark Williams, because I listened to ‘Pure Mania,’ and he worked at 688, so I befriended him at the club. I was like, OK, he works at 88 doing ‘Pure Mania,’ he programs the station, and he works at 688 – I just thought he was a god.”

Mark Williams: “I started the day the doors opened. I was working at WRAS, doing the punk rock/new music show, [and] they figured my show would draw some attention to the club. When I did start spinning records there, I would incorporate other stuff that didn’t fit into my radio show. It was a great time to be around and be young, because music literally was really changing. You had the emergence not only of what became known as punk and new wave, you had hip-hop and rap music and the evolution of black music too. So at the club, I wouldn’t play just specifically rock-based records, I would also play Grandmaster Flash records, and Kurtis Blow, Run-DMC, and a lot of the street/underground music coming out of New York. I was interested more in the overall subculture music experience of all of it.”

ImageSteve May: “I never wanted a tag, like we were a new wave or punk club. I always thought of ourselves as a progressive rock club. Like, we did Sun Ra, Laurie Anderson – there were a lot of other acts that played there besides the punk bands.”

Jon Kincaid (WREK DJ): “One thing that’s always bothered me about the 688 T-shirts was they list all these bands that didn’t play there. There are a bunch of bands where they promoted the shows, but the bands didn’t play at 688. Laurie Anderson never played at 688, but she’s on the shirt. She played at the Peachtree Playhouse.”

Mark Williams: “The R.E.M. shows were spectacular from the get-go. They rapidly got popular.”

Anthony DeCurtis (writer, Rolling Stone): “I remember an early R.E.M. show there that I just thought they were gonna levitate. I mean, it was so exciting. I would guess it was around the time of Chronic Town, where it just sounded like they were playing one long song, and it was just this kind of rocking, jangling, exciting thing. They were so compelling onstage.”

Mark Williams: “I remember Steve kept them from going on until really late one night, and that really pissed them off. People were getting rowdy and wanting to see the band. They’d finished off the beer and stuff that they’d had, and they wanted more, and he wouldn’t give it to them.”

ImageSteve May: “I had given R.E.M. two cases of beer, and I told them I’d give ’em another case after they played. And Joe Thomas, who was sort of their roadie, came to the bar and said, ‘Steve, Sheila won’t give me another case of beer.’ So I said, ‘Well, go over there and ask Keith [Fuller, barback] to get one out of the cooler for you.’ And then about that time a piece of ice went flying by my head – that’s how Sheila would always get my attention – and she’s like, ‘Don’t give them any more beer! Their friends are drinking the beer!’”

Jeff Calder: “So R.E.M. said they’d never play the club again. And they didn’t.”

Jon Kincaid: “They still would come to the club. Peter Buck would get onstage and play guitar with anybody that happened to be there breathing.”

Anthony DeCurtis: “Peter Buck was there all the time. I remember the guys from Rain Parade, who worshipped R.E.M., when Peter came back to talk to them, they were just so excited. He would do it in a very casual way, I don’t think even realizing how encouraging and important it would be for bands to have him just kind of come by and say hi and tell them how much he liked what they were doing… I remember Peter taking me to see the Replacements for the first time there, when there were about 20 people in the place. And you could just walk backstage whether you were doing something or not, and say hello to the bands. It had that kind of feel.”

ImageDavid T. Lindsay: “What punks always said about destroying the barriers between the audience and the band, 688 actually did. You had a rapport with the bands and stuff. You were right next to them, and you could talk to them. You don’t get that much anymore.”

Steve May: “In the summer of '80, we were hurting, and then that September we got Iggy for six days, and then we did Gang of Four, Wall of Voodoo, Siouxsie & the Banshees and Echo & the Bunnymen like back to back to back. All those bands played in September of 1980. Plus Psychedelic Furs. I forgot about them.”

Tony Paris: “They did a great job of booking, they had great taste. There was always something there exciting and different, something you wouldn’t see anywhere else."
  
Jeff Calder: “It was fairly quickly part of a network of new wave and punk clubs that were on the East Coast, and ultimately the American network of clubs that was developing. The F.B.I. booking agency, they would just run bands into the club. When they found out about 688, they established a relationship very quickly with them.”

ImageAnthony DeCurtis: “Iggy Pop did a week of shows there at one point that I remember very vividly. I think I saw the first night and the last night. The first night was like an open rehearsal. He was just taking his clothes off and screaming at people.”

Jon Kincaid: “It was three dollars to get in. We bought our tickets at Rich’s, which was strange.”

Henry Rollins (Black Flag): “I will always remember the Iggy setlist on the stage left wall. I would really like to have a photo of that.”

Tony Paris: “People always talk about the week Iggy Pop played there. And I really thought those shows sucked. I’m probably the only person.”

Mark Williams: “Iggy came into the office, and he was talking about how he wanted to do an album of Frank Sinatra songs. And I said, ‘Well that doesn’t sound like a very good idea.’ Hahaha! I remember him turning on me like a rabid dog. ‘I’m sick and tired of people not liking my ideas!’ Of course he never made that album. Maybe I was the one that saved the world from it.”

Steve May: “I even remember what bands drank. Gang of Four drank three liters of vodka and four cases of beer. And of course Iggy Pop always had to have a gram before he went on. I didn’t secure it for him, but there were people who did. I would think that he would  share, but he didn’t – he did it all right there. The whole gram.”


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