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Titletown Vinyl Excavation: The Minors’ often underscored role in Green Bay punk history

Former members of the young, rough and tumble band talk releasing their only recorded material

By Rev. Nørb

Dan Dillon of The Minors (far left), Jeff Miller (left), Myron Hansen of The Minors (center), Jim Lukes of The Tyrants (right), Bret Starr of The Tyrants (far right) at Horizon Recording Studios in 1982. Photo courtesy of Ed Guerreiro

As the initial twin kingpins of the Green Bay punk scene, the Minors and the Tyrants tend to be eternally discussed in the same breath, like competing ends of the same rock’n’roll Pushmi-Pullyu. In this column’s last entry, we discussed the Tyrants’ 45. This week we’ll cover the Minors.

The Minors: “Waves Have Hit” b/w “Stupid Love Song” (7” 45, 1981)

Both teen bands were discovered in 1980 by promoter Jeff Miller at a self-booked gig at Bernie’s Game Room on Shawano Avenue. Miller was functionally clueless about punk, and admits he was mostly there to see if the venue would be suitable for him to book blues bands into. It wasn’t, but the fact that the dumpy teen hangout was packed to the bursting point with 14-year-old kids was not lost on him from a business standpoint. He quickly positioned himself as both groups’ manager.

“The Tyrants came from very well-to-do families in east De Pere,” Miller said. “The Minors’ families were more blue-collar, from the west side. They were scruffier, their gear was more dinged up. Between the two bands, I had every kid in town represented.”

Whereas the Tyrants leaned heavily on cover material from the then-nascent punk songbook, the Minors churned out new tunes with alarming frequency. This prolific songwriting output eventually gave birth to the understandable compulsion to document a few of the songs on vinyl, and, in Spring ’81—with the brunt of the band still juniors at Green Bay Southwest High School—Miller booked a weekend of recording time for both bands at Horizon Studios in Ripon.

“I had to talk to everybody’s parents,” Miller said. “It was kind of a big deal, I was taking their children away for a weekend, and we were staying in a hotel. I had to assure them that there wasn’t going to be any drinking or smoking or anything like that.”

After a pause, Miller said the two groups weren’t the most “manageable bunch” in that regard.

The Minors: “Waves Have Hit” b/w “Stupid Love Song” (7” 45, 1981). Rev. Nørb photo scan

“The studio was the upstairs cramped carpet dust ashtray one would expect,” the Minors drummer Myron Hansen said.

Enamored with new material, the band quickly knocked out its only two songs that would ever see the light of day: “Waves Have Hit” and “Stupid Love Song.”

A midtempo tune with a main riff strangely similar to the old MTV theme (yet to debut later that summer), “Waves” was singer Dan Dillon’s pushback on the copious (and often violent) anti-punk sentiment bubbling over in Green Bay at the time.

“It was a very polite and non-threatening way of saying ‘leave me the (bleep) alone’,” Dillon said, “a bit more ‘mature’ than our other stuff.”

The curious juxtaposition of lyrics like “what’s noise to others is music to some” set against the backdrop of the band’s least-noisy song to date came off as a bit of a swing and a miss.

“Stupid Love Song” was—unsurprisingly—a rapid-fire punk rock love song, but it, too, had its faults.

“It was a work in progress,” Dillon said, “I didn’t have finished lyrics. When we played it live I just repeated the first verse.”

The record was pressed in a quantity of 500, released simultaneously with the Tyrants 45 in the summer of 1981, and swiftly sunk from the vestiges of public consciousness.

Unknown to humanity, the Minors recorded two additional songs on that fateful weekend jaunt: “Pocketful of Speed” and “LUV,” two crowd-pleasing rockers from the band’s early days (the “Speed” in question was a car, the “Pocketful” the keys. Audience comprehension of this Shakespeare-quality metaphor was occasionally muddied by Dillon retrieving a handful of aspirin from his pocket and tossing it into the crowd during performances).

When pressed on why the band opted for the bit-of-a-stretch “Waves” and the flawed “Stupid Love Song” as opposed to the tried and true “Pocketful” and “LUV,” Dillon said he didn’t believe most of the band’s originals were “worthy of recording.”

To this O.G. Minors fan, that was a bit like hearing Paul McCartney say he thought “I Saw Her Standing There” was crap, and wished the band could have gone straight to “Norwegian Wood.” Well, whatever.

The single goes for around $25 in collector circles; that ain’t chicken feed, but it’s only about a tenth of what a Tyrants 45 fetches. Call me a hopeless primitive, but I still can’t help but wonder what size dent a “Pocketful” / “LUV” single would have left on collector skulls and wallets worldwide.

Rev. Nørb is a lifelong inmate of Green Bay. While in high school, he self-published Green Bay’s first punk zine, SiCK TEEN, and later went on to write for various music publications with names like Maximum RockNRoll and Razorcake. He’s been in numerous bands over the course of the last forty years, most notably Suburban Mutilation, Depo-Provera, Boris the Sprinkler, the Onions, and the Smart Shoppers.

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