Total Recall

Sounds like: a vastly inferior Strike Anywhere and/or Kid Dynamite

Discography
Both demos can be downloaded here with extra artwork.

Bandcamp
Stream the above files here.

Photo Gallery

 

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It Came From Holly Hill: The Story of Total Recall and the House That Shat Them

A biographical essay by founding member and guitarist
Michael Hawkins

After my first band, Every Waking Moment, shit the bed because three-fourths of us realized our drummer was kind of a dick, bassist Matt and I struck off on our own. We threw off the reins of bad, early 2000’s metalcore and decided to just simplify things: we started a punk band. Initially, it was a struggle as neither of us had ever written a listenable song. But over the years and against all odds we’d pounded enough decent music into our brains so that one day – maybe, if we were lucky – we’d be able to do just that. We thumbed through a slew of bad names before settling upon the best one we could think of: Total Recall. We enlisted the help of our friend and slapstick foil Bro Tom to handle second guitar and I, myself, took the first. Then we recruited a drummer named Tyler from a local youth crew band called Face Up, but he quit almost immediately. Why we didn’t just ask our friend Justin, from Of A Divergent Blood, to begin with is a mystery, but he ended up coming aboard as drummer for the band’s duration. Shane Spiker, from Virginia Is For Lovers, provided the outfit with a little low end and a modicum of class. Early on however, Shane – friend of mine that he is – decided he couldn’t handle Tom and Justin’s constant, un-PC banter and bowed out. Of course, now that Shane has kids, he rarely minces words anymore. Derrick James joined last on bass and with Matt already in the position of vocalist, it was as if you could hear the pieces click together.

Total Recall was not just a band. Well, maybe to the people who watched us play and listened to our demo, we were just a band. And not a very good one. But to me and to some of my best friends and former band mates, Total Recall was an era. To the few of us lucky enough to have experienced it, Total Recall was everything we wanted it to be and more. There were two reasons for this. One was the Sixth Street House. The other was Derrick James.

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The Sixth Street House was a foul dump of a punk rock cesspool in the middle of Holly Hill, Florida. Holly Hill’s what you get when you sprinkle a little bit of rural Alabama on top of Daytona Beach. Every member of Total Recall lived at the House at one point or another, except for Justin. I myself managed to stay for a whopping two weeks. Nevertheless, I spent a lot of time in that house and it served as the backdrop for a summer full of shady antics and uproarious fun. The House was our home base and most of the inspiration behind Total Recall’s upbeat brand of hardcore-tinged punk rock (“Fuckin’ hangin’ out! Fuckin’ breakin’ shit! Fuckin’ swimmin’ in pools!”) No matter what day of the week it was, whatever time of day it was, we could all usually be found there: sometimes driving canned food into the backyard with stolen golf clubs, other times throwing footballs at passing cars from the roof, and still at other times dominating Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 beneath the watchful gaze of a wall covered in Bad Boys II posters. On show days, the five of us, along with the rest of our motley crew (Shawn, Eddie, Charlie, Johnny, Josh, Austin, etc., etc.) would be piled into Matt’s minivan (or in the bed of Charlie’s piece of shit truck) en route to the venue, regardless of whether we were playing or not. Honestly, it didn’t matter who was playing back then. If there was a show, we were there. And at the end of the night, we always came back to the House to break stuff and laugh our asses off. The Sixth Street House was a place unlike any other, in an unparalleled time in my life where the outside world of adult responsibility had completely ceased to matter.

If the Sixth Street House was the vessel that carried forth our hedonistic ideals, Derrick James was the living, breathing embodiment of it. Back then he was a beast of a kid, due to what I imagine was a little Hunn or Visigoth lineage in his DNA. I once saw him wrench the hood off his car and heave it ten feet into the air. The first conversation I ever had with Derrick involved his wish to have an adamantium-lined gullet and an unhingeable jaw so that he would never again have to argue with anyone over the ownership of any particular piece of property. He could just eat the item and shit it out later.

Derrick was the de facto leader of the Sixth Street House, the don of our unwashed, mostly-unemployed family. He lived his life by one maxim: he did whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted. And what he wanted usually involved fire and/or property damage. So when he replaced Shane in Total Recall, I knew we were in for a wild time. He didn’t so much take over playing the bass guitar. He just forced his instrument to play our songs while he scanned the crowd for people to hammer punch in the throat.

Though we spent most of our time hanging out, we did put some work into the band. Basically, we tried to sound a lot like Kid Dynamite, though we didn’t really succeed. We recorded six songs total (seven if you count Derrick’s solo hidden track contribution under the guise of his alter ego, Tractor Man). We named the demo any number of things that corresponded to the acronym SDC (Sketchy Dude Crew was the most popular, even though Justin and I were about as unsketchy as it got). We had some terribly-printed shirts featuring Kurt Russell and some we just spray painted our name on in the parking lot before the show. And we did play a good deal. But the band was really only an extension of the House, a personalized soundtrack to our hooligan activity.

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There were a few times we deigned it necessary to leave the Sixth Street House in pursuit of furthering our musical agenda. You couldn’t necessarily call these little sojourns tours (although we did) – they were more like road trips. Mostly we went to Virginia Beach and Richmond and once we went to Atlanta. The shows were terrible, but I’ve never had more fun (or complained less) than I did on those trips. We’d always leave around midnight in order to squeeze every last bit of sleep-deprived craziness available out of each drive. The amount of inside jokes and hilarious, oftentimes surreal events that we experienced on that 700 mile stretch of I-95 will forever shape my sense of humor and the way that I look at the world. A few years later I started a band called Years From Now and named one of our songs after something Derrick confided to me in the watches of one of those endless nights. The van was pointed south towards Daytona and somewhere in the vast emptiness of the inland Carolinas, Derrick told me that sometimes he dreamed of a massive conveyor belt. And on that conveyor belt were thousands of skulls, sliding inexorably forward to be pulverized into dust by a gigantic, robotic hammer. To this day, I’m not exactly sure what it means, but this admission turned out to be the tip of a dark iceberg; a premonition that our days in punk rock Neverland were numbered.

We’d always return home from these trips feeling as if we had been carried on the wingspan of a giant, golden eagle, with a bear trap for a beak and talons made of samurai swords. Our proverbial coffers would be overflowing with ill-gotten plunder thanks largely to Derrick, Matt, and Shawn’s uncanny ability to steal anything, especially from Hot Topic. But the fun didn’t end when we got home. As soon as we were pulled into the driveway of the House it was back to throwing machetes at trees, pool hopping in the middle of the night, emasculating hotel security guards, and breaking boards over Tom’s back and head. I think Derrick single-handedly knocked out four people that summer. He also managed to break up a family with one of those punches, setting into motion a series of events that literally resulted in divorce (and years later, the receiver of that punch became a drug dealer and moved in next door to me). It wasn’t that everything transpiring during that brief period of time was good, or even intelligent. It was just happening so fast and before long, it began to feel like things were hurtling towards some inevitable conclusion. Subconsciously, we tried to pack as much craziness into our lives as we possibly could before order reasserted itself. We wanted to burn as brightly as we could, before we finally burned out forever. I’d known the final lap was approaching ever since Derrick’s crushed skull, conveyor belt soliloquy.

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The beginning of the end descended upon us when Matt and Tom started hanging out with a pair of succubi. I refuse to repeat these trollops’ names here for fear of grisly reprisals from the doomy netherworld. But just imagine how you felt when you were a kid and one of your dopey friends brought his beloved back to the boys’ clubhouse and ruined everything. Well, that’s what happened to us. These two Gorgons turned the House into a fucking prison and our friends and band mates into dried-out husks of the proud men they once were. Derrick laid plans to behead them and burn their rattlesnake bodies, but before he became our own Perseus, our landlord suddenly realized that none of our names were on the lease. In fact, the former residents (a closeted lesbian cat lady and a few other assorted weirdos) had run screaming from the premises when Derrick and Matt showed up. Ownership had never been legally transferred, hence all of us were soon to be out on our collective ass. No matter that none of us legally lived there – it was evictions all across the board. But the lease was incidental: it was our house. It was the physical manifestation of our entire way of life. Exodus from the Sixth Street House would mean the end of an era, the death of a golden age.

It also meant the demise of Total Recall.

After a particularly vicious browbeating at the hands of his demon seed of a girlfriend, Matt briefly lost his marbles and took off for Richmond leaving us down one best friend and vocalist. We tried valiantly to soldier onward, moving Bro Tom over to vocals and asking Sixth Street House regular Josh “The Brown Dog” to take over second guitar. I even booked us a tour up to New York and back, utilizing the long-defunct Book Your Own Fucking Life website and a few sketchy phone numbers (forget Facebook, this was pre-MySpace). We got to South Carolina, played one show, and the rest fell through. We couldn’t find a place to stay and we couldn’t afford a motel, so we slept in a movie theater for a few hours. Upon awakening, we realized we hadn’t the heart to continue and dragged ourselves back home. This time our return journey didn’t feel like being borne aloft on the back of a golden eagle. This was like being staked to the underbelly of some slimy, amphibious monstrosity as it flopped through a diseased swamp feeding on other animals’ shit. During the miserable ride home, somewhere in Georgia, Tom tried to empty a cup of chewed sunflower seeds out the passenger window of the van. This of course resulted in the cruel winds of destiny blowing the shells back inside and all over my unsuspecting face. I was covered in half-chewed sunflower seeds and spit – a apt metaphor for how I felt.

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The dream was dead.

We called it quits soon after that. We didn’t even play a final show. Total Recall winked out of existence without so much as a sigh of disapproval. We left behind our six recorded songs and a lot of tee-shirts with graphics that came off after one wash cycle.

Eventually, we moved on. Matt got married, had a couple of kids, and made a life for himself in Richmond. I started a few other bands and even lived in Richmond with Matt for a short time myself. Certain events transpired – unrelated to Matt – that turned out to be terrible mistakes, so I moved home and started some more bands once I reattached my scrotum. Shane had a family of his own and we still hang out, play in bands, and argue over movie trailers. A string of bad decisions wound up with Derrick incarcerated some time in ’08 or ’09. He got out in the summer of 2011, came back to Daytona, kept out of trouble, fathered a daughter, and we’ve been playing music and hanging out ever since. Tom too became a dad and moved to Hawaii to be closer to his daughter. He’s a chef and (I think) also drives a food truck. Though he’s a success, he still has a streak of goon in him. When Justin got married a few years ago, Tom came back from Hawaii for the wedding. He got trashed and Derrick made him crawl into a sewer. Justin’s got a kid as well and as for me, I’m in a good relationship and on the brink of becoming – of all things – an English teacher.

Earnhardt In Haines CityThe House is still there, only whoever lives in it now finally mowed the yard, replaced the planks in the fence that Derrick punched out, covered up our profane graffiti on the backyard shed, returned the bases we stole from the park for our wiffle ball field, and took the folding chairs off the roof. I don’t even want to think about what changes have occurred inside the place. No doubt the Bad Boys II wallpaper went out with the trash, as did the couch with the giant, wooden dicks Eddie carved into the arms, and the soda can sculpture that was guarded like a work of precious art.

I feel a sharp pang of something like grief whenever I find myself on Sixth Street passing by the House. Remembering all of its former glory is something I tend to do quite often, if only because it marks a time in my life that I can never return to.

But you can’t dwell on the past forever. As Derrick would say, “Fuck you, you fucking crybaby faggot.”

 

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Dog willing, there’s a little Sixth Street House in all of us.
R.I.P. to the punkest fucking summer ever.

 

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