Overlooked in Ohio: Vol. 4 (Kevyn and the Kasualties)

Editor’s note: “Overlooked in Ohio” is a feature in which we ask an Ohio-based artist/music enthusiast to tell us about a band or bands from the state of Ohio (past or present) that deserve some love. Our fourth installment comes courtesy of Ron House, a guy you likely already know from Great Plains, Thomas Jefferson Slave Apartments and/or his most recent band, Sandwich (currently recording). Or from his days at Used Kids. Read on for his reflections on Kevyn and the Kasualties.

MP3: Kevyn and the Kasualties – Holy Trinity

Kevyn and the Kasualties‘ first LP is ambivalent even before you put it on: one side is labeled “Punk?” and the other is “Pop?” Pathology on vinyl is always better with a crack rhythm section and Kevyn had Nudge Squidfish and Rudy Krash n Burn (not real names heh heh). They went on to form V3 after this release which shows that at least Jim Shepard was listening to this confused, heartrending, and ass-kicking LP. Like more than a few post-punkers in the mid-eighties, Kevyn was torn between Hardcore’s demand for manly toughness and Alternative’s feeble plea for originality. Four songs on the punk side are disquisitions on his aesthetics; as he sings in-the-pocket punk in his nasally midwest Johnny Thunders style all he can sing about is punk. Injustice for Kevyn struck home only where his music was. “Let’s Kill R-N-R.” “Screw FM.” For a man determined to be “Drunk Loud and Obnoxious” there is something almost polite and modest in his ambitions.

He opens up more on the “Pop?” side where Nudge especially helps him forge a powerful pop punk mini opera. (Gary Reeve produced it and avoids the common reverby pitfalls of the era.) All the songs focus on love and feature crackerjack arrangements that are minimally but tastefully abetted by organ and wah-wah. On the “Holy Trinity” he might overextend and leave us Protestants glad we got we rid of that shit but even that song has an assurance lacking in Kevyn’s next, less overlooked album on Okra.

He wouldn’t have been one of my candidates to join Columbus’ crowded Tragic Pantheon, but dying in his thirties falling down stairs after battling alcoholism gets you there.

  • SVH

    I never really liked the guy’s music that much, but I appreciated his drive to keep making it. He got little support from any faction, result of his self-imposed status as the Ultimate Outsider. He seemed very suspicious of trusting anything, like there would be some catch that would undermine his artistic integrity. But it took me years to get into the Mothers of Invention too, so I don’t know.

  • irongoat81

    kevyn was a cool guy though. real nice dude.

  • I Hate My Job!
    by nudge squidfish 1998

    In the spring of 1985 I joined Kevyn and the Kasualties thus ushering in an era of outrageous shows and hung-over workdays. Sadly, by the summer of 1986 I’d had enough and left the band with Rudeboy to form V-3. I knew and love the person. I watched his music twist & turn before my eyes. I saw him grow and evolve from being a hack kid musician to becoming an accomplished songwriter. This then is my perspective as an X-Casualty, as an outsider who had the good fortune of breaking down on the highway to hell.

    I remember my first impression of Kevyn was of this shy short sarcastic shit who rarely spoke in full sentences but who on stage possessed a terrible fire in his eyes! At the audition he only muttered about two words, ”You’re In!” So like my predecessors Max Flash & Chuck McQueen I entered the Bacchus Temple! Kevyn’s fiery fury not only freed me his music influenced many others like:

    Rudeboy (Crash n Burn) Smith-drums, Byron Weaver-bass, Chris Billingslea-drums, Larry Altvater-drums Marion Funk-keyboard, Nicole Nicotine-drums, Greg Casey-bass, Mike Rock-bass, Arlus Stitch-vocals, Wild Bill-vocals, Kurt Tuckerman-lead, Bob Kat-drums, Darren McQueen-lead, Rich Kinney-drums, Bob Sauls-lead, Gavin Parrish-lead, Dave Immal-lead, Jeff Brown-drums, and Mike Ravage-lead.

    Kevyn started out playing in a cover country & western band then after graduating from Rio Grande University he moved to Columbus and discovered the Screaming Urge. I remember him telling me that when He saw those guys getting away with playing “originals” he started writing and began thinking about forming a “PUNK” band. His first drummer (Rudeboy) got introduced to him by Jim Shepard (Skull Bank) and along with bands “Dark Arts” & ”Great Plains” set up shop at a house called the “Fort.” Soon Max Flash (Cosmic Beings) & Chuck McQueen joined. By this time the Casualties started opening up for groups like “The Replacements” and doing notorious shows in places like Athens Ohio.

    The “Fort” in true fashion was a bohemian community centered in the poorest black neighborhood in Columbus. Visiting bands like “Black Flag” were always welcome & the parties thrown there were of the stuff that makes legends. The cave dweller like environment was impossible to navigate due to the tremendous amount of beer cans carpeting the floors. The kitchen to say the lest was nothing more than a mini landfill in progress, and the toilet could traumatize a zombie. How 8 human beings could create works of art in these conditions is beyond my comprehension. Not even the locals’ thugs would dare to explore the property and most kept a healthy distance. In this wacky community I first encountered Kevyn constantly foraging for food & booze. One day, as fate would have it, Kurt Tuckerman (Phantom Limb) invited them into his studio with the results being a instant classic entitled “Generic Rock n Roll”. When I first heard the tape I knew it was a knockout. Way ahead of anything going on at campus. The sound was a total gas!. A real loud wake up call. Truly the band had blasted off and no one seemed in control, or knew how to control it, or would turn the volume DOWN. Eventually the stress of the bohemian life style was beginning to take its toll. Both Max & Chuck had reached the saturation point. Kevyn couldn’t slow down & they couldn’t keep up! Screaming his battle cry, “I Need Speed” and moving faster & faster Kevyn warped light speed. One day I ran into Rudeboy (V-3) & Loretta at Kubat’s (Twisted Shouts) record store and was offered a chance to try out for the band. Silly me! They soon left me punch happy!

    Before this time, Kevyn had really started to jell as a writer coining such songs as “I HATE MY JOB, I’LL SEE YOU IN HELL, Q F M and PUNKBOY.” By 1984 Kevyn had adopted a anti-capitalist stance which became the hallmark of all Kasualities shows. He would often defiantly sing, “Hell Yea I’m a Fucking Asshole!” This loser motif was cultivate and exploited, becoming a surgical assault against suburban values. Many a paying Yuppie would storm out a venue in anger from Kasualities show and for the rest of his life Kevyn never felt compelled to compromised this approach. The fact was that Kasualities “music” insulted the hell out of the middle class Cowtown! It was about destroying useless forms of social obedience. Kevyn’s message was “Losers are Winners” & “Where All Going To Die!” Of course this would not endear him with sports minded Buckeyes fans. Nor could punk posers cope with this in your face loser attitude. It’s no wonder that the Kasualities weren’t recognized or embraced by the media.

    Like Moses, Kevyn wanted to destroy the values of his day. If you came to a Kasualities show you came to celebrate the Bacchus life. The Casualties were about personal freedom and the right to choose not to be a wage hog and serve a worn out system. We knew that when the Kaualities hit the stage the insults would fly! “1, 2, Fuck You!”. We knew we weren’t part of the system, that the system didn’t give a rat’s ass about providing us with health care, education, food or shelter! The system only worked for the controllers! Kevyn knew that the Capitalists consider us Bio-filth and would enthusiastically cast us aside once they had worn our annoying asses out! So if we didn’t conform to their chic values they heckle, ”Losers! Get The Fuck Off Stage You Assholes!” To which Kevyn would reply, “I Hate My Job, My Job Sucks”! Like Harry Truman Kevyn gave em Hell! And if I was at the show I would yell, ”Yo Kevyn! I Hate Your Fucking Job Too Dude!”

    Kevyn’s first solo project the “Super Pasties”; which featured Bob Kat (Dark Arts), Marion Funk (Doubting Thomas), and some guy name Frank. It was a total slap in the face. At the first gig I heard a flock of spasmodic Nazis. A real shark feed Folks! When you left the show you knew you had a bad case of the crabs! Anyway, around the time of the Super Pasties our first record came out. It was produce by Gary Reeves (Two Men) in his “Cats Attic” Studio. Shortly thereafter Rudyboy and I had had enough. We left the band to form V-3. Kevyn immediately up the ante. Gone were the leadership problems, in came the back to back spit & polish lock & load song set. Kevyn had two new hired guns: Chris on drums, & Byron (Pet UFO) on bass. Together with a good tailwind they began to roar out songs Like “I NEED SPEED, QUE SERA & NO BODY DANCES ANYMORE. The writing was growing stronger & stronger!.

    Unlike the “FORT” the “Kausalty House” was sanitary. Byron & Kevyn had rented a half double so that the band could rehearse. On night at a keg party Wild Bill (Plastered Bastard) stripped buff naked and began performing the Watusi for the crowd. This endeared him to Kevyn and a short time later Wild Bill moved in. It was During this time bands like Doubting Thomas, The Honkies and Crankshaft were sharing the marquee.

    Everyone had heard a lot about G.G. Allen so one night the boys go see Mr. Charisma. OH BOY! Before the night was over G.G. ended up cutting Wild Bill with the microphone stand & Wild Bill returns favor by tackling the chaos out of G.G. When the typhoon had passed another solo project was born. Kevyn called it “G.G.’s Kids” and it included: Elliott Dicks (UDF)-drums, Kevyn-bass, Kurt Tuckerman -lead, Byron-Lead, Wild Bill-vocals, and Jeff Brown (G.G. Kids)-drums.

    By 1988 I felt that Kevyn was on equal footing with Ron House (Moses Carryout) or Mark Eitzel (Naked Skinnies) yet the press & public seemed very hostile. The band was smoking yet Kevyn still refused to bullshit the press. I told him that if he kept refusing to kiss ass there wasn’t going to be any band, that he needed the press to push the band. He shrugged, farted & replied “I’ve never had a career. Why should I worry about one now?” Around this time Dan Dow of Okra records started to notice the group. Dan was a x-Gibsons Brother with a rock-a-billy sensibility. He saw the merit in Kevyn so he got Ron House (Twisted Shouts) & Matt Wyatt (Mound Walkers) to produce the record. They went into production with Doug Edwards at Musico. However, one cut called “Suck The Chrome” was recorded with Kurt Tuckerman at Studio 900 and featured Wild Bill on backup vocals. The 2nd LP was called “Discussed”. Shortly after it’s release Chris & Byron, like others before, became “fast n’ bulbous jelly” & bailed. The strain was becoming terrible. They had been pushing the envelope for about 2 years with band likes: Dinosaur Jr., Great Plains, Nosferatu, Gibson Bros, Doubting Thomas, TB+1, The Uninvited, Rayzer, Scrawl, Gaunt, and Horse Flesh. Old Kevyn , bless his mess, never missed a beat. He got Greg Casey & Nicole Nicotine signed up and the band went airborne. Both were very accomplished musicians and out all of “us” probably fit the best! Together they were a pack of Natural Born Killers. Everything just clicked, even the rifles.

    By this time Kevyn & Lynn had married and moved to Canton. Yet, the band roared on show after show like Rodan over Tokyo! The 2nd tape released by the band was called “Lemmings”. It was recorded by Jeff Gram (Jenny Mae) at his Diamond Mine Studio. With it the Kasualty had reached the peak of perfection. On stage Kevyn would jack it up and pass out insults mixed with shit kicking rock n roll. He was at the peak of his powers writing killer tunes like “Get Me A Hearse” & “Happy” while his band mate Gregg Casey was passing out whip-its like “Mashed Potatoes” & “Artificial”! However, fate had a score to settle. Soon another Casualty would James Dean!! Nicole, like others before staggered away. I could tell Kevyn was sucker punched over Nicole’s departure. Later, I found out just how painful it got. Disgusted & frustrated he gave up music for a spell. He began to question the worth of his work. Did his friends really love him? Had his music changed anything? What was the fucking point in going on? How Ironic! All his life he slammed capitalism. Now suddenly the sharp claws of conformity slashed into his bummyhole! He had reached the point in life were the rocker must achieve a balance between artistic freedom and economic slavery or forfeit his muse to obliteration. On the one hand, bohemian idealism demands artistic freedom, while on the other, capitalism demands conformity! These wills clash in deadly combat & all artists know what’s at stake! We can only endure so much! Would Kevyn pull it off?? Would he survive the killing fields and return to the quest???

    Slowly the dust had settled & wounds began to healed. What had almost destroyed him had left him stronger and more determined. Kevyn had decided to recruit Rick Kinney. By the spring of 1997 the Kasualties were back on track. Rich was formidable and with Kevyn’s new resolve the Kasualties had become lethal. I could tell by the gleaming eyes & razor wit that Kevyn had survived! The old goat had done us all proud!! Yet bitter enemies were busy making plans. Fate is not so easily mocked or chance kindly ignored! Two weeks before Kevyn’s death I was ushered into the studio & video taped the “Camped Get Worst” session. I had not seen them with Rich Kinney (Big Foot Nixon), so I didn’t know what to expect. Kevyn strolled in like a white tiger. He was in total control. Demons were dancing around mists of fire as Kevyn smiled like a gentle tsunami. The balance was there. Gone was chaos, in its place was order & reason. He didn’t say much during the session, but I knew what to expect! One minute it’s all silent night, holy night. The next… Ka-boom!!-an angry explosion of sound! Who would of guess that it was going to be their last Gig??

    The Dispatch on September 23, 1997 said Kevyn Kasualty had died. Could it have been that simple? Just click your heals together 3 times and you’ll be back in Kansas? Few people had heard of this sarcastic troubadour. Fewer still had really known the old fart. Of the few who knew him and love his music, all would agree that Kevyn was an original talent! What you saw was artist who refused to play the game! What he gave us was truth. What we took from him was joy. He was a Kasualty! The blacker our oppression the brighter his expression! No switch and bait there folks! Now his work is finished. The great millennium approaches. Death is about her business and the holy war between light & darkness rages all around. Kevyn watches fate plotting, stalking, and scheming against his friends & family. Let us try to continue his fight. Our Hero didn’t quietly pass into the night! He screamed, “Let’s kill rock n roll, it deserves to die”! Amen Kevyn! Amen.

  • redmenace

    love the LP…. Worked w/ this lady a while back, named Jerry…. She told me she was the band’s manager for a while…. Gave me a cassette of a basement show that has some awesome banter in it in-between the songs… Thank you, Ron!