A Conversation with Mike Hard
of the God Bullies

The New Puritan ReView
Minneapolis, MN
December 1991

Exploring the creative process that connects performing artists with writers and readers alike.

[This is pretty much just the pre-edited, raw interview / conversation; at this point in time, it would be difficult to determine how much of this ended up in the published article. The finished, edited layout for the completed article as it appeared in 1991, was either lost or destroyed over time. I wish that were not the case, as there were more photos, and some other cool design details in the published piece, but at least you can share what inspired it in the first place. A floppy disc with the original interview was the source for what appears here, before that too, gave way to the ravages of time. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – keeping tabs on the past is a lot of work.]

Q With all of the controversy that surrounded your first European tour, do you have any problems with promoters, or do most clubs still seem pretty willing to take a chance on you?

A I never try to think about it. I wish I knew how promoters see it – that’s a problem with us now, you wish you knew how other people thought. To tell you the truth man, sometimes I don’t know what the fuck’s goin’ on. I get caught in a – seize the moment, or whatever – I get caught in the time, and everything’s now, and I don’t even think about it. As a matter of fact, those guys insist that I start thinking about my actions. I understand it, because people take that shit so bad. I think they just twist it up, you know? Whereas I just make it like, your body’s a body – people tie the sex into it. I guess I’m as guilty as anybody else – makin’ it sex-full. I think it’s fun. It’s that sense of humor – some people get it, and some people don’t. What the hell. More people don’t get it. If you’re tryin’ to communicate with someone, if you’re tryin’ to tell ’em something and they don’t hear what you’re saying, either you stop or you try to think of a different way. That’s where I am right now with that stuff. There’s gotta be a different way to get my point across. I thought I was doing it that way, but I’m not doing it obviously.

Q There was one show right after the war had broken out, where you directly addressed the women in one audience, and suggested that they should grab the guy next to them, because they would probably never see them alive again.

A That’s goddamn straight, man! Thank God someone got that goddamn picture.

Q Well, I don’t know how much more direct people could expect you to be than that.

A I’ve tried many different ways. I’ve stooped low, but I haven’t taken religion as a stand-by yet, so I haven’t got that goddamn low.

Q Speaking of religion, many people have felt that God Bullies take a hard stand on that issue, but I wonder if you’d care to put in your own words.

A It’s really simple, man. I wasn’t raised religious at all. Those people – that puritan ethic that came out of Christianity – came over to America, and it’s embedded in our justice systems, everything. The guilt they give you, and not being free of your body, not even thinking things that are wrong, it’s just so embedded in all of us from day one. It’s something that we once all had in common – I mean we all know who Jesus Christ was, we all know who Satan is – they both have to exist. I think we’re not attacking it, we’re more or less mocking it. Look at us, you know – these apes that can have morals or something… I’m nothing but a woodchuck.

Q Do you think people perceive God Bullies as trying to be above morality?

A Well I’m not even willing to accept it as a principle. I mean, you have to believe in Jesus to believe in Satan. I know we have a song called “Join Satan’s Army” – that’s like, these people who use Jesus and God as an excuse for their behavior; regardless of whether it’s Jim Jones killing 700 people or some guy sayin’, “God told me to kill my kids.” “Join Satan’s Army” is a story about this guy, he melted his two sons in a foundry because, “God told him to do it.” Use him as an excuse, you know? If you just get tired of… God and Jesus and Christianity is a big excuse for your behavior. When your behavior becomes too far out for a standard of society, then you can always come back and say, “I’m born again”, or go through some rehabilitation program – I don’t get it.

Q It seems like there’s a pretty strong parallel to the so-called “darkside” movements that place importance on Satanic imagery and ritualistic behavior.

A It’s the same thing. Like I said, I don’t even believe in that. I believe that the sun is our god – that’s the thing that creates life and death, right there.

Q How did the “preacher” character that you employ come about?

A The preacher thing came out of the mix of religion and the suit. That’s all it is.

Q So the suit is actually a separate entity altogether.

A It’s a uniform. It’s like, a soldier wears a uniform, and a goddamn corporate American person who has no respect for each and every one of us wears a suit. I never met a person in a suit that I liked or trusted at all, as well as a uniform, whether it’s a cop or a fireman. Know what I mean? It seems like anyone that’s willing to don the uniform, whether it’s a company or whatever, are willing to do a lot worse things. That’s what I believe – the suit is evil. Our promoter was saying, “The suit is old hat, Mike, are you gonna wear the suit tonight?” I never wore it until the last two years, and I’ve really gotten into it. Everybody can relate to the goddamn dude in the suit – people wear suits to work every day. It says something that’s all it’s own, and it really makes things easier for me, because the guy wearing the suit is the person that I’m after. He’s the guy whose ass I’m chasing. It’s always the guy in the suit, man, the guy in the uniform, it’s always those people that are betraying us, man. That’s why I put on the suit – to let people know that this guy’s a fuck. The evil people, whether it’s daddy comin’ home from work, and the frustrations – the fucking boss with a suit telling the guy down the line with a suit what to do – it’s everything about our society.

It sounds like such a stupid statement. Actually, I wear it sometimes before we go on, and I get all these punk fuckers lookin’ at me like, “Who brought their dad?” Or they’re sayin’, “Gee, is he in the industry? Is he tryin’ to sign somebody? He must be from RCA or something.” Or else you get the people that are all dressed in black – black hair and shit – and they’re like, “Oh man, these guys came to the wrong bar.” I just wish I could get a woman that would dress in similar attire and go with me, so I could hang out at the bar, and listen to people go, “Oh, they’re in the wrong place”, ’cause these people are so narrow-headed that they have no conception that some people enjoy the same things as you do. I don’t know, it’s so weird.

Q I only realized after seeing the “Dope, Guns…” video that your image wasn’t always the way it is now.

A Yeah, we wore the dresses and the tunics – the dresses became another one of those things, like we were talkin’ about being as sexual. You know, you see a guy in a dress and it’s all misconstrued. I think a dress is just the most comfortable thing. At that time the God Bullies were very into shocking people, and thinking that you could do things that weren’t so much standard stuff – especially to the hardcore, leather-skin fucks.

Q Of course it seems that the industry and the audience that deals with you don’t want to think about things that challenge their preconceived notions – especially where gender is concerned.

A I think that once again, it’s misconstrued. They might not want to think about it, but what the hell, you think about everything. It makes you have a totally open mind, and that’s what the whole God Bullies thing is about – is an open mind, expanded consciousness. I learn every day – I love it when my mind is open. So many people want to look at things a certain way. I don’t care, you know. Sometimes you don’t understand what’s goin’ on, or sometimes it pisses you off, or you’re not always right or correct – nothing’s ever right or correct. That’s the same thing thing as with wearing a dress or wearing skin-tight leather pants with a banana down ’em too. It’s like an image that you try to create through mockery or cynicism, or you’re trying to recreate an image for people to look at in a different way. Whether it’s mocking or humorous, it’s still a different way. Sometimes your way or my way is not the best way, but a different way is.

Q Do people ever accuse you of trying to preach to your audience?

A All the time. I get that, but I don’t let it bother me. I don’t think I preach – I listen just as much as I run my mouth. In fact, I love to read.

Q When and how exactly did the God Bullies come about?

A It started in Kalamazoo, about ’86, and it was just good friends jamming, and it got to be where we thought were doing a lot better than we ever thought we would do. It became more like, “How bad do you want to do this? Do you want to communicate?”: Some people just have a stronger will to create – talk to any artist in the world, that’s what separates the men from the boys, is the will. I mean, I know I’m not the best singer in the world, but yet I try my fuckin’ hardest, and I know I’m not the best listener in the world, but yet I still try to listen. You know what I mean, you just gotta try, and God Bullies just kept goin’ through people that wanted to try. I’m the only original member of the band right now. David came in very soon after we started – maybe a year, and then Eric actually was in right at that same time, then Eric moved to Chicago, and so… it’s a long story, but it’s basically the same members rotating around.

Q Wasn’t there a trade-off of drummers between the Cows and God Bullies at one point?

A Well yeah, kind of. I think the Cows were looking for a different style of drummer, and we were looking for a different type of drummer. Tony fits our style a lot more I think than he fits the Cows. He fits really well with what we’re writing right now.

Q So the swap wasn’t a source of tension for anyone involved?

A Oh, not at all. As a matter of fact I think both bands are really appreciative that we both got what we wanted.

Q It would seem that the two bands are the biggest on the Amphetamine Reptile label at present.

A Oh I don’t know. We were one of the first bands on AmRep actually – like the old fart on the label.

Q Your first single was on Mad Queen Records. What’s the story behind that label?

A That’s our own independent thing. We’re gonna do some more Mad Queen stuff too.

Q You’ve mentioned before that there are other side projects in the works.

A We just didn’t get the live show down, but we’re gonna keep working. It’s a different kind of music than the God Bullies.

Q Can you talk about that at this time?

A No. It’s more something like, with the God Bullies now, I don’t get a chance to play or perform every weekend – I just like to keep playing. With the God Bullies it’s like, my major project, whereas with this thing it’s more a fun thing where I can get out and sing in clubs and have a good time with friends and play some music. We’re even more “garage” than the God Bullies are garage, if you can imagine that. It’s pretty good, these guys are all like old friends and stuff like that – we’ve played together for years.

Q Are there any hopes or plans for bringing that project out of the garage in the near future?

A Yeah, we hope to, but again that’s time and money, and right now my time is right into the God Bullies. This is like a side thing, but it’s fun, I mean we know what we’re doin’ – it’s like a six-piece band. It’s pretty heavy stuff. I’m singin’, and that’s about all I’m doin’.

Q Have you ever played an instrument in a band?

A Yeah, I can play the guitar a little bit, but I don’t. I think that with what I do I don’t need a guitar.

Q Was there ever a major hurdle for you to jump in terms of doing this for a living?

A I think we just kept doing it, more and more, and realizing that this is what we wanted to do, and enjoying what we do. I enjoy getting a 40-ounce Colt 45, going down in the basement for a little bit and hanging out with the guys, you know? That’s like, the fun-nest thing in my life. Maybe not always having a Colt 45, okay – try and do it sober, you know? That’s what it’s about to me, is gettin’ together with the boys. Live stuff is just great, because there’s actually something to try and tell people. I used to be more self-indulgent, but I realized in the last year the communication is slipping away. Sometimes on stage, I’m rubbin’ my dick and shit like that, and it’s self – it’s self – it’s me, it’s not a communication thing with the audience, you know.

So we’ve changed a lot, drastically within the last year, comin’ back from the last year of touring. All of a sudden it’s a whole different look – especially live, ’cause we are a really live band – and my focus is more on the audience than myself. Before I was more into what I was trying to do myself to try and explain a point than. I realize that sometimes when I can’t get the point across, and then I look at another person and they can get their point across, so then you use their way. I don’t know, is it stealing? Thats given me new life, man, it’s like a whole different angle, and sometimes I just love it even more, and suddenly this is what’s real. I just discovered this last year – all these years of performing, for a long time it’s your ego that makes you want to perform, but then after a while it’s the people you want to be with that makes you want to perform. That sort of switches it right around. First you do it out of your own needs for communication, and then the next thing you know, you’re doing it to gain more from it – it’s a different focus.

Q It seems like a lot of people never make it past their own ego gratification.

A It’s a big task, let me tell you – I’ve masturbated my ego. But this is just like the last year – we’ve been doin’ this for five years. Now it’s finally like, hit myself in the heads or up against a wall. I think this next year is gonna be very very good for God Bullies.

Q Have you got any new recordings in the works?

A Yeah, we’ve got a lot of recording in the works.

Q Since “Dog Show”, it seems like there’s been this interest in covering ’70’s pop hits, what’s the motivation for that angle?

A Well, we’ve got new members in the band, and Dave and I are like, the writers, and we were like, “What sort of stuff do you guys listen to?” Link Wray is one of my favorites, and all those bands that are on that single [“Join Satan’s Army”] are favorites of David’s too, and we were showing Tony and Eric, “This is kind of what we want, these people are like pop-sound-fucking-gods to us.” Great songs about death, and nice harmonies.

Q I would suspect you had a different reason for the Dawn cover.

A That’s a strict shot at the war. We were on tour when we wrote that, and we were watching “Donahue” or some fucked-up show like that, and there’s Tony Orlando singing his new war song for Desert Shield, right? It just amazed us, and we realized “Tie A Yellow Ribbon” was like the most disgusting song in the world, and yet he’s out there writing another war song. It was like, “What the fuck is with these people?”, you know? You know, Donahue wears a suit too. So, that’s our Desert Shield-like ad, that’s the only reason why we did that song. We kinda debauched it, but it was more or less for the time it came out. It was written very very quick. We started doing it to drunk audiences of fifteen people, late at night, very high volume, screaming all the way through it. We’re talking when the patriots and the Americans were goin’, “Goddamn technology!”, and they got Tony Orlando on the talk shows – it Dawn-ed on us!

© J.Free / The New Puritan ReView; 1991; 2022