1985 - The beginning

I met drummer Jim Houle sometime in 1983 through bassist Mark Stavis and we played in a few bands together including "Rude Awakening" with Mark on bass and Bob Matthews on vocals (recorded a 2 song demo of "Pick Up Your Guns" and "Executioner") and another band "Samhain" (not the Danzig one) with Mike Berger on vocals and Steve Chill on bass at first, then Mark again (we recorded a 4 song demo of "Twisted Mind", "Trust", "Say You'll Stay" and "Afraid Of The Dark"). After a brief period of inactivity and a demo recording session in my garage of "Asylum", "Fear The Fire" and "Ride of the Valkyrie" in late 1984 Jim, Mark and I joined one of the many incarnations of the O.C. band "Knightmare II" which would include guitarist Mike Bonaventura (a version of "Executioner" with different lyrics written by "the Rod" was recorded and released on a compilation album "California's Best Metal"). (Some memorable gigs were being kicked out of "The Troubador" and a gig that "almost" happened at the infamous "Safari Sam's" in Huntington Beach - the singer for the opening "band" wrapped newspaper around his foot, lit it on fire and ran around screaming "there's a fire on my foot!! there's a fire on my foot!!" THAT was hilarious. There was no way we could follow that!)

Jim, Mike and I had very similar interests in music including Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath and UFO, and thrash/speed metal bands like Metallica, Anthrax and Slayer, however "Knightmare II" was going in more of a "Twisted Sister" direction, which we weren't really into.

In late 1985 "Knightmare II" fell apart and we all left with the intention to form a band with these "British Metal/Thrash Metal" styles in mind. Around this time Mark joined the Navy so Mike, Jim and I jammed in Mike's garage while looking for a bassist. We were playing covers and a few of the songs me and Jim had written in 1984 before "Knightmare II" including "Asylum" and "Fear The Fire".

The name "ATTAXE" was suggested to me sort of as a joke by my cousin Phil Merwin (Dirt Clod Fight) and I sketched out a logo design using the double sword idea. When I offered it as a name for our new band everyone thought it would be a good band name so we went with it. Not much more thought was really put into it at that time. We just needed a name and that was it.

I was referred by a friend to Gary Sebourn who I had gone to Brea-Olinda High School with but I didn't know he was playing bass. He immediately fit the bill with an aggressive "Steve Harris" playing style (not to mention his "madman" look - he reminded me in some ways of Cliff Burton). It was mid-March because I remember that "Master of Puppets" had just been released (3/4/86) and Gary hadn't heard it yet so we gathered at my house to give it a listen.

We placed an ad in "The Recycler" for a vocalist and after several auditions Mike White was hired and we moved into a rehearsal space located at the corner of Gilbert & Commonwealth in Fullerton, CA (now a lawnmower repair shop). After only a couple of months we decided to find our own rehearsal studio so my Dad helped us find an industrial space in Brea, CA which we spent the summer soundproofing. This would be our home for many years and became known as the "Unit G" studio which we shared with several bands including "Comatose" (Brian Kelly, Jim O'brien, Ron McGinnis, Barry Martin), "Armed & Dangerous" (Darren Porter, Greg Yarber, Larry Taylor, Brian Nussel, Dennis Campton), "Roadhouse" (Steve Houle, Joey Smith), "Cheap Wine" (Steve Houle), "Closing Speed" (Jim Mulligan), Aversion (Chris Fuhrer) and a few others I can't remember.

Our setlist included several covers at this time. Some of the covers were "Rapid Fire" by Judas Priest, "Iron Maiden" and "The Trooper" by Iron Maiden and later we did "Whiplash", "For Whom The Bell Tolls" and "Creeping Death" by Metallica as well as "Ton Of Bricks" by Metal Church.

Our early style was heavily influenced by Iron Maiden's 2 guitar harmony sound and by local band "Leatherwolf" who had gone one farther with a 3 guitar harmony sound. Mike White's vocal style was a little like Rob Halford's, so the Judas Priest influence showed as well.


Big John's Billiards, Fullerton, CA
The first ATTAXE show.

Big John's was a pool hall located on Orangethorpe Avenue next to the railroad tracks - lots of pool tables and a bar, with a tiny stage at one end.

This first ATTAXE flyer was drawn by John Hoyt who also drew the first ATTAXE logo based on my original concept, and also produced the first ATTAXE T-shirts.


Big John's Billiards, Fullerton, CA