Hit Squad For God
Vatican Commandos' Jim Spad and Richard Hall (aka Moby)
The Vatican Commandos are better known now for the Moby connection, but when I was first getting into the Connecticut hardcore punk scene in the early 80's, they were easily one of upper-echelon bands within the scene. Besides the catchy name, they had cool t-shirts and stickers, which was pretty important back then, and their records were all pretty good-- plus, they had three of them, which was way more records than anyone else had. I mean, three records for a punk band back then was practically pushing Rush-like levels, now that I think about it.
Not only were the Vatican Commandos the first punk band I ever saw, they were also the first band I ever interviewed for Run It, the crummy punk zine I was writing at the time. Sometime later, after my zine got better established, I was able to put out a compilation of Ct. bands, called Make It Work. Jim Spadaccini, the Vatican Commandos' bass player, helped me a lot with getting the record mastered and pressed, so I had the Vatican Commandos tracks lead off the record and gave Jim production credit.
Kill From The Heart (and subsequently references like the Vatican Commandos page on Wikipedia) lists the VC singer as "Chuck Weaver", but in fact his name was Chuck Wheat. I'd always figured this was some kind of stage name (like a take-off on Buckwheat), until I called Chuck's house once. I was working on putting together the lyric sheet for the record, and Jim Spad told me, "You gotta call Chuck to get the lyrics to the songs-- he's the only one who knows them." His dad answered the phone, very properly, "Hello, Wheat residence." It turns out Chuck's name really was Charles Wheat(!).
Vatican Commandos photos taken from Kill From The Heart
For a while, KFTH was one of the only web sites where you could read about bands like this, but lately there's been a surge of info about the Vatican Commandos on the web. A couple of weeks ago a blog called "Good Bad Music for Bad Bad Times" put up a pretty good post on the Vatican Commandos' "Point Me To The End" EP-- the record I put out, "Make It Work", even earned a mention in the post, which is a first. There's also a Vatican Commandos page on MySpace that was started by a fan not too long ago. If you want still more new info, you can also read an entry from January that Moby wrote for his weepy little journal, about the Vatican Commandos' first show ever, although that's not entirely recommended.
"Hit Squad For God", the Vatican Commandos' first record, is a damn good representative of early 80's American hardcore. Besides the punchy title track ("We're the hit squad for God! Hit squad for God!"), there's a couple of funny songs on the record, "Wonder Bread" ("Everyone says it tastes good/It killed off my neighborhood/You don't know what it's made of... it lasts forever") and "Housewives on Valium", which were fairly well-known at the time. "Let Down Again", off the band's second record "Just A Frisbee", shows them starting to go metal, and by the time "Point Me To The End" came out in '84, the Vatican Commandos had pretty much evolved into speed-metal band with punk undertones, though they were still not bad.
Hit Squad For God
It's So Scary
From the "Just A Frisbee" 7-inch EP
Let Down Again
From the "Point Me To The End" 12-inch EP
Point Me To The End pts. 1 & 2
Same Old Story
(The "Hit Squad For God" songs are from the VC page on MySpace, while the "Just A Frisbee" track is from 7-Inch Punk, and the "Point Me To The End" songs are from the "Good Bad Music" blog post.)