Poison Idea was started in 1980 in Portland, Oregon, by vocalist Jerry A. (Lang). Within a year, the band had a solid lineup with drummer Dean Johnson, guitarist Tom Roberts (aka Pig Champion), and bassist Glen Estes. The band was motivated by the Germs and Black Flag, and took their musical cues from bands such as Discharge and SOA. Pushing the speed limits of contemporary punk rock, they played raw and angry hardcore the likes of which had rarely been heard before (or since). Their 1983 debut EP, Pick Your King, is a classic and arguably the best hardcore record ever released. Its subsequent followup, Record Collectors are Pretentious Assholes (featuring Pig Champion's substantial collection on the cover), saw Chris "Tense" replacing Glen on bass. Both were put out on a small label from Eugene, Oregon called Fatal Erection.
In 1986, Poison Idea released the aptly titled Kings of Punk LP on Pushead's Pusmort label. By this time, the band's sound had changed from manic, breakneck thrash, to a more driving, Motorhead-influenced attack - losing none of their intensity, anger, or nihilism. In the next few years, Poison Idea's lineup (mainly the rhythm section) changed several times. 1987's War All the Time was somewhat of a misstep - nowhere near as powerful as their previous output - although the two EPs released the next year both had good material.
By 1989, Poison Idea seemed to pull it together; after trouble with record companies and distributors in the past, they started their own label, American Leather, and began by reissuing their 1982 demo. The band recorded the excellent Discontent 7" and also found their most stable lineup in years: Jerry A., Pig Champion, Myrtle Tickner, and Thee Slayer Hippie (although the second guitarist seemed to switch between "Mondo" and Aldine Strichnine). In 1990, Poison Idea released the classic Feel the Darkness LP, successfully combining (where so, so many others had failed) the best elements of hardcore and hard rock for a dark, powerful sound.
In the next three years, Poison Idea put out several more records on American Leather - two more full-lengths, a string of 7"s, and an LP collection of all covers. When Pig Champion decided to leave the band in 1993, Poison Idea called it quits. However, a few years later in 1996, the band briefly reformed and recorded a 7" for Taang!, who also reissued (again) most of their early catalog. An aborted tour in 1997 saw another breakup, but Poison Idea is currently back together and playing shows in the Portland area; further plans for recording or touring are up in the air though. (Let's keep our fingers crossed!)
PICK YOUR KING EP (Fatal Erection, 1983)
RECORD COLLECTORS ARE PRETENTIOUS ASSHOLES 12" (Fatal Erection, 1984)
KINGS OF PUNK LP (Pusmort, 1986)
WAR ALL THE TIME LP (Alchemy, 1987)
FILTHKICK EP (Shitfool, 1988)
GETTING THE FEAR 12" (Rockport Records, 1988)
PICTURE DISC 7" (American Leather, 1989)
DISCONTENT 7" (American Leather, 1990)
FEEL THE DARKNESS LP (American Leather, 1990)
OFFICIAL BOOTLEG 2x7" (American Leather, 1991)
LIVE IN VIENNA 7" (American Leather, 1991)
PUNISH ME 7" (American Leather, 1991)
DUTCH COURAGE (Bitzcore, live in 1991)
BLANK BLACKOUT VACANT LP (Taang!, 1992)
PAJAMA PARTY LP (Tim/Kerr, 1992)
WE MUST BURN LP (Tim/Kerr, 1993)
RELIGION & POLITICS PART 1 & 2 10" (Tim/Kerr, 1994)
DARBY CRASH RIDES AGAIN 7" (American Leather, 1989 - reissue of their 1982 demo)
IAN MACKAYE 12" (In Your Face, 1989 - has Filthkick and Getting the Fear)
THE EARLY YEARS CD (Bitzcore, 1994)
BEST OF POISON IDEA CD (Taang!, reissue of the first three records)
GREVIOUS MUSICAL HARM tape (Xcentric Noise, 1983) "M.I.A.", "All Right", "Young Lord"
DRINKING IS GREAT EP (Fatal Erection, 1985) "Laughing Boy"
CLEANSE THE BACTERIA LP (Pusmort, 1985) "Typical", "Die On Your Knees" ("I Gotta Right" on Bonus 12")
PUNK'S NOT DREAD LP (Sink Below, 1991) "New Rose"
Lyrics to Darby Crash Rides Again, Pick Your King, Record Collectors, and War All the Time
Interview from Task #2
Here's a very good 1985 interview from the New York zine Task. Thanks to Rich for letting me use it!
Interview from Flipside #64
A good 1990 interview with the band when they played in LA. Thanks to Tonya for typing it and sending it!
Interview from Long Shot #3
This is an interview with Pig Champion from 1990 (I think). He talks about why they called their record "Ian MacKaye," among other things.
Interview from Moshable #9
A long 1991 interview with Jerry A., covering the early days up to the Feel the Darkness record. Much thanks to Martin for scanning it and sending it to me!