“You spit on The Urinals” is a line from The Descendents “Tonyage.” That line and The Minutemen covering “Ack Ack Ack” was my early exposure to The Urinals. I didn’t ever want to be so uncool as to not know a band with that pedigree, so I sought them out. And it took a while. Fortunately for the world, their music is more widely available. And now the band’s story is available in this excellent document by Ryan Leach.
The book is segments of quotes and interviews from the major players woven into a makeshift timeline in the same style as the classic L.A. punk tomes Lexicon Devil: The Fast Times and Short Life of Darby Crash and the Germs and We Got the Neutron Bomb: The Untold Story of L.A. Punk. The book tells the story of the band beautifully, but also fills a gap capturing a bit of the tone and attitude prevalent in Southern California outside of the legendary beach and downtown scenes covered in the other books. It’s a great companion piece.
As you imagine, The Urinals were often threadbare in their resources and knowledge, making the band happen as they went. Kjehl Johansen discusses the role of Vitus Mataré making it possible to record the first EP: “You know how George Martin was the fifth Beatle? Vitus is the fourth Urinal.” Kevin Barrett elaborates: “Vitus lived in Brentwood. He had a big house with a pool and a pool house that he had set up a studio in… I’m pretty sure only three channels worked.” The book follows the members through 100 Flowers and into the reunions to present day. And does so efficiently. The internet has made clandestine band stories and albums more available to posterity these days, but The Urinals is a band that deserves further discretion and this book offers it for fans of punk and L.A. history. And yes, there are pictures. Highly recommended. –Billups Allen (Spacecase Records, spacecaserecords.com)