(Almost) Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About the Axiom
|Photo by Ben DeSoto/ courtesy of Lisa Sullivan|
|Plus a few years, legendarily demented Austin cowpunks The Hickoids play Friday's Axiom reunion show.|
LS: The neighborhood was very desolate back then. Most of us were oblivious to that. I hear stories about things that happened back then that I had no clue about and am shocked. There were fights out front - sometimes skinheads would show up and stir things up - and probably some other pretty shaky things happening as well.
I used to park down Live Oak, past the railroad tracks, and never felt afraid. My mom tells me that was because she was on her knees praying every night. The bathrooms in the Axiom were pretty bad, so a lot of the guys would walk their girlfriends down the street to a local pool hall. The locals were always very cordial.
JRD: The area was a quaint little ghetto spot with row houses, a beer joint with soul food called Chat-N-Chew at one end of the block, the other block had a couple tiny bars, across the side street was a scrap-metal shop, Joe's (Peterson) Scrap Metal Shop. We had poor mostly black people coming by at all hours of the day and night with their noisy carts full of metal objects to sell.
For a while we had Charles as our security guard, a local lanky old white man with rotting teeth and thick yellow glasses that took his job seriously... He was great. During the later days of the Axiom, one of the local kids started selling crack; that's when the area started changing for the worse. The area did look desolate, but for the post part the locals were very friendly and rarely bothered Axiom patrons.
Julie Grob: Yes. It was on the corner of a block of shotgun shacks in an empty warehouse area east of the convention center. There was a scrap-metal business across the street and a barbecue place down the block. When you drove up, there would be packs of wild dogs running around. It had an air of danger just from its location. Sometimes people from the neighborhood would stop into the club for a beer.
RO: Why do you think people who were around the Axiom remember it so fondly?
LS: The Axiom always had their doors open to everyone. J.R. had a big heart and made you feel right at home. Plus the most amazing bands of that era were playing at the Axiom. Amazing touring acts - Mother Love Bone, Nirvana, Social Distortion, GWAR, Testament, MOD... and every metal, thrash, punk and hardcore band across Texas was playing there.
It was deadhorse's home base. Pain Teens and Bayou Pigs played there regularly. Sprawl, Spunk and their first incarnation Blind Ignorents [and] Sugar Shack all played there on a regular basis. It was an amazing scene that I have not seen duplicated.
Bands here were ahead of the curve as far as the trends go. A lot should have made it big but Houston seemed to be overlooked by the major labels. Some of the smaller, independent labels found their way here. The Axiom produced several compilation albums featuring Houston's best bands of that era. Houston Loud came out of there, along with a compilation named after the club.
JRD: The Axiom staff was a collective of artists, performance artists, musicians, music freaks and outcasts, all with great attitudes and a motivation to make things happen. All bands were treated right, all shows were treated as an event. We were void of nazi security/staff or uptight folks with expectations. Everyone was welcome.
JG: It was just a special place. The main room was large enough so that big touring bands could play there, but the front room gave people a smaller place to hang out and socialize. It was extremely unpretentious, but it also had a connection to the art scene and a philosophy of mixing up different genres that made it different from the average club.
You might go there to see a touring punk band but find yourself watching the elderly Trower Magic Act, or take a break from sweating to a hardcore band to listen to the Cave Reverend playing silky Jimi Hendrix covers in the front room. Somehow it all worked.
Tomorrow Rocks Off looks at the Axiom's legacy. The reunion featuring Pain Teens, Verbal Abuse, Dresden 45 and lots more is 8 p.m. both Friday and Saturday at Fitzgerald's, 2706 White Oak, www.fitzlivemusic.com. See the links for Friday's lineup and Saturday's lineup.