Saccharine Trust – In Session at KPFK-FM – August 17, 1985 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
Continuing our listening session to L.A. bands of the 70s and 80’s. Saccharine Trust, in session at KPFK-FM on August 17, 1985.
Saccharine Trust formed in 1980 by singer Jack Brewer and guitarist Joe Baiza. The band would frequently perform with SST labelmates Minutemen and Black Flag. However, Baiza described Saccharine Trust as the “black sheep” of the SST roster. Drummer Rob Holzman appeared on their 1981 debut Paganicons but left the band to play in Slovenly, replaced by drummer Tony Cicero. After a ten-year hiatus circa 1986 to 1996, the band re-formed and began performing around the West Coast.
Baiza describes the band’s sound as “poetry music” or “mini-theater.”
Joe Baiza met Jack Brewer in Wilmington, California while looking for a summer job. Brewer was already in a band called The Obstacles with Marshall Mellow on guitar, William Trujillo on drums and Joe Burgos singing and playing organ. Baiza wanted to join the band so he suggested the need for a bass player and ended up taking the position. The group was initially more mainstream but Baiza slowly pushed them in a punk rock direction. One by one band members quit until finally it was just Brewer and Baiza.
The band’s lineup continued to change over the years and even broke up in the 1990s before being revived in 1996. The reformed lineup of Baiza, Brewer, Brian Christopherson on drums and Chris Stein on bass is considered the “best version” by Baiza and was together longer than the original version of the band. In late 2018, Stein died after a two-year battle with cancer.
In his journals, Nirvana guitarist Kurt Cobain listed Saccharine Trust’s Paganicons as one of his Top 50 favorite albums. Buzz Osborne of The Melvins stated in the book Everybody Loves Our Town: An Oral History of Grunge that Saccharine Trust were hugely influential in terms of atmosphere. Sonic Youth covered their song “I Am Right” on the SST compilation The Melting Plot. Double bassist Damon Smith has credited the album with altering his views on punk rock, jazz, and free-form jamming. Weasel Walter has described Saccharine Trust as “true modernists”.
Crank it up and dive in.