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Interview with Jerry Sofran of Forchristsake and The Vanishing Kids

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By Theron Moore

There were many local bands in the 80’s hard rock / metal scene in Rockford I dug but forchristsake was at the top of my list.  I loved their music, their live shows plus they were just the coolest, most down to Earth guys to hang out with.

I was invited over to their 4th Street apartment several times and it was always a great experience and 25 years later those memories are still strong with me.

Of all the bands I knew, Sarkoma and forchristsake should’ve been the breakouts, should’ve had national success stories but for reasons I don’t understand that success eluded them.  But who knows, in the world of music it’s never say never, right?

Church of the Necronomicon:  Before being called forchristsake was known as Mirrored Image.  Tell me about the origin of the band.  How did all of you know each other and at that time what were the musical influences that really kind of guided Mirrored Image musically.

Jerry Sofran:  Mirrored Image had been playing the Rockford music scene in the late 80’s before I joined. I was playing in Rude Awakening with Jason Williams, and when he joined Mossy and Mirrored Image he brought me with back in ’89. Musically at that time thrash ruled, and you can hear our take on it with such songs as “Horace” and “On Your Grave”.

Church of the Necronomicon:  Do you remember other bands in the Rockford scene at the time?  Was Sarkoma around then?

Jerry Sofran:  Rockford actually had a thriving music scene back in ’89-’90. We gigged with many fine metal/thrash/punk acts from the area, with the Sarkoma boys at the top of the heap.

Church of the Necronomicon:  There were a lot of bands playing back then doing everything from punk to metal. You had Pinewood Box & Bludgeoned Nun to Mirrored Image and Ript to Diamond Force.  Was there a lot of camaraderie among these varied bands or just the opposite?

Jerry Sofran:  There was a certain camaraderie among the members of the local acts even though we were very different stylistically. I, personally, was accepted by the locals, and grew fond of many Rockford area bands such as Sarcoma, Ript, and Last Crack.

Church of the Necronomicon:  Who were the “go to” bands of Mirrored Image / For Christ Sake back in the day if you were looking to party?  How wild did those parties get, I’ve heard stories. Can you relate any experiences?

Jerry Sofran:  Oh man – we listened to and were influenced by it all back then. Music was evolving, and we were too. Jason Williams and I had Soundgarden, Maggie’s Dream and Jane’s Addiction, plus all the wild metal and thrash we grew up on in the ’80s like Slayer and Voivod.

      If the parties got wild, it was William’s (editor’s note:  lead singer Jason Williams) crazy ass usually leading the festivities. Boy ain’t right. I had the best years of my life hanging with that cat!

      I have a huge record collection, and during parties Jason would grab an album he hated, probably Lynyrd Skynyrd or something, and ask if he could smash it! So we thinned out my records that way. There were always strippers and whiskey around the seemingly daily parties at the 4th Ave house (you were there). I spent many a hungover morning reassembling our furniture after Jason flatbacked it!

Church of the Necronomicon:  Why the name change?  Was that ’89?

Jerry Sofran:  We changed the name back in ’91. We were looking to broaden our horizons regionally and nationally, and Mirrored Image seemed like a name for a local band. The way we changed our name was unique also.

      We did it in the middle of one of our shows. We abruptly stopped in the middle of our set, had Brian Carter, singer of Sarcoma, announce the name change to ForChristSake, dropped the new banner, and were off!

Church of the Necronomicon:  At what point did you start thinking that For Christ Sake had a real shot at being bigger than just a local Rockford band.  What was the turning point for the band?

Jerry Sofran:  I think the turning point for FCS, and more and more bands regionally and nationally, was the evolving styles of music rock bands encountered in the early ’90’s. Rock was reinventing itself (again), and we thought we could change the world. We were cock-sure that our signing with Gary Taylor and Re: Talent would lead to big things.

 

Church of the Necronomicon:  Prior to hooking up with your future manager was the band playing steadily around the Midwest or just the Northern IL area?

Jerry Sofran:  We played mostly regionally, Rockford-Chicago-Madison-Milwaukee.

Church of the Necronomicon:  Tell me about finding yr infamous future manager Gary.  Who found who initially and how?

Jerry Sofran:  Mossy had a friend who worked for Gary Taylor, laid a tape on him, next thing he was in our funky-ass Rockford apartment offering to sign us. Now this was huge for us, as Gary was already managing Annihilator from Canada and Last crack out of Madison. Both bands were touring the world, had videos on MTV…

Church of the Necronomicon:  And was he the force behind getting you guys on tour through the Pacific Northwest?  I know you had a show booked in Vancouver, was that with Caustic Thought of at the time or was that where your manager was from?

Jerry Sofran:  Yeah Gary managed Caustic Thought too, and they were all from Vancouver B.C. We toured with Caustic up the west coast of the U.S. and into Vancouver. We also used to play with Caustic and Last Crack at CBGB’s in New York frequently.

Church of the Necronomicon:  Speaking of Caustic Thought, that was the band that had Byron Stroud and Devin Townshend who would later go on to have much success with their respective bands Strapping Young Lad, Fear Factory, Zimmer’s Hole, etc.  And I remember they were staying with you guys in Rockford for a short time.  Any stories / experiences you can relate?  You still stay in touch with any of them?

Jerry Sofran:  I remember the Canadians hated the low-quality weed in the midwest. Devin Townsend was a trip, man. He was on the first west coast tour when he played with Caustic Thought. That boy ain’t right, either. He went on tour with only the clothes on his back, his guitar and amp. No money, no spare clothes. His socks weren’t allowed in the van, so he tied them to the side mirrors while we traveled. We were shown a great time while with Caustic, especially in Vancouver, where the best strip clubs are located.

Church of the Necronomicon:  Was it around this time that you guys shot that pro video for one of your songs?  Whose idea was that, it had to be expensive.  Was the intent to submit it to MTV?  Was it submitted?

Jerry Sofran:  Well, our lady friends from KitKat clubs in Rockford paid for the video. We struck a cool deal with Kundalini films out of Chicago and shot a video we hoped would be good enough to release, but it never saw the air.

Church of the Necronomicon:  Where were the live scenes shot?

Jerry Sofran:  We shot all the live stuff at the Times theatre in Rockford. The video is posted on the forchristsake Facebook page.

Church of the Necronomicon:  Fast forward towards the end of FCS as a band.  After the shit hit the fan with the manager, etc., how long did it take you to move on musically or did you feel like you wanted OUT of music?

Jerry Sofran:  I did feel a break was needed. I’d never missed a rehearsal or gig in 12 years, and was going to take a year off, but my good friend, and last forchristsake  drummer Bunj wouldn’t have it. He made me jam, and we formed our next band, Fluid OZ.

Church of the Necronomicon:  So where does everyone go and what do they do when FCS is done?

Jerry Sofran:  Everybody joined or formed important local and regional acts. Jason Williams sang in the infamous Motormouth, then he joined Agent Zero for a few years. Mossy formed and toured with The Heavils, and is still making music today with his band Staggg.

Church of the Necronomicon:  How many years later did it take to get FCS back together and do the reunion shows?

Jerry Sofran:  We finally were able to pull it together back in 2010 for one successful reunion show at the Back Bar in Janesville.

Church of the Necronomicon:  Are there more plans for more reunions shows?

Jerry Sofran:  You know, they’re fun, but I really don’t feel the need for any more shows. Jason lives in AZ now, so…

Church of the Necronomicon:  In your opinion, what’s the Rockford music scene like today compared to the 80’s and 90’s?

Jerry Sofran:  There is NO music scene in Rockford today, and if anyone tells you there is, they weren’t around during the 70’s-80’s-90’s when Rockford had a thriving scene. Although I trust the kids are underground, just like we were, making the new vital sounds of the future.

Church of the Necronomicon:  What are you doing today, what’s your life like now?  Any Facebook pages or websites you’d like to plug?

Jerry Sofran:  Still at it, Theron. I play bass for Vanishing Kids. Based in Madison, Nikki is such a talented vocalist and inspiring songwriter. Along with her husband, and equally talented guitarist, Jason Hartman, I feel the band could make some noise in the current scene. Terry Nugent, drummer for my first band White Knight (1982-83), plays for us too, so I’m kinda in a great situation currently.

 

Vanishing Kids Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Vanishing-Kids/328568887984

 

forchristsake Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/forchristsake/368543023754

Listen to forchristsake here:

http://www.last.fm/music/Forchristsake?ac=forchristsake

 

Spirit Visions, by V A N I S H I N G K I D S

vanishingkids.bandcamp.com

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