Members of Legendary Bay Area Band Crucifix Flash Back With 1984
By: Naheed Simjee
Ed Colver Crucifix line up in the early '80s
It's been 30 years since Corpus Christi Records released Dehumanization by San Francisco hardcore band Crucifix. Regarded as one of the most influential anarchopunk albums of the '80s, the 14-track LP is 23 minutes of loud, fast, raw, straightforward punk.
To commemorate its anniversary, two of Crucifix's original members--Sothira Pheng and Jimmy Crucifix--have formed the outfit 1984, which, they insist, is not a reunion band. But it is a tribute band featuring them and members of a Crucifix cover band performing Dehumanization in its entirety. So why not call the band Crucifix? "If we called it Crucifix," Pheng explains, "it would have to be all the guys originally in the band." People have been asking the band for years about a reunion. Original guitarist Matt Borruso and drummer Chris Douglas have kids and careers. (Pheng and Jimmy Crucifix have consistently played in bands.)
Dehumanization was shaped by the political ideologies of Crass and the chaotic, brutally intense arrangements of Discharge, and the album delivers solid anarchistic lyrics; thick, aggressive bass lines; heavy, chainsaw-grinding guitar; and obscenely rapid drumming. "At first, we were Crass fans," says Pheng. "Then Discharge came out with Decontrol in 1980. The combination of politics and ferocity just clicked for us."
Crucifix formed in 1980 and was finished by 1984. With the exception of Pheng on vocals and Douglas on drums, the lineup changed throughout their short tenure. In 1981, bassist Bryce Kanights and Borruso played on the self-titled EP released by Universal Records. By 1982, Jimmy Crucifix was on guitar and Borruso switched to bass for the 7-inch single "Nineteen Eighty-Four" (spelled out to emphasize the state described in Orwell's book and from which the tribute band got its name). Then, in 1983, Jake Smith played guitar on Dehumanization, the band's only full-length LP; he was later replaced by Drew.
"We started playing when I was 15 and Borruso was 13 in Subsidized Mess and molded into the Johnny Rotten/Joy Divison/Slits post-punk scene, but that only lasted a summer because it got boring," says Pheng.