Band History written by Spencer Crispe
Beano Parker, the future guitarist for the Wards, first heard the Sex Pistols' Never Mind The Bollocks LP in 1977-1978. Hearing this album turned him on to a whole style of music that he had previously been totally unfamiliar with. Before that, he was into your typical '70s rock'n'roll, but once he heard the punk bands that were coming out of the UK, as well as the Ramones from New York, he knew this is what he wanted to be playing instead. Beano introduced the Sex Pistols to his friend, Lewd Ratdog (a good friend of the Wards who would go on to manage them for 20 years) one day in 1978. Immediately Ratdog was turned on to punk rock as well. It seemed this was the music they'd always been looking for: raw, powerful, fast aggression with angry, political lyrics.
Tea Curley, who would become the Wards' vocalist, was also a fan of '70s rock'n'roll, but once he got turned on to punk rock, it was all he wanted to play. Prior to hearing the Sex Pistols, Tea had been singing about your typical rock topics: girls, love, etc... Ratdog began to urge Tea to start writing more political lyrics - to abandon all the love topics and sing about the things that pissed him off. Tea adopted his vocal style to incorporate topics such as war, workers' rights, corrupt government, being an outsider in society, being poor and alienated. It was these issues, combined with his own personal experiences, that fueled the lyrics and disaffection that pours through both of the Wards' EPs.
Beano and Tea Curley teamed up to start a band in 1978 that reflected their newfound influences. They recruited drummer Seman Lincoln - another lifelong Vermonter, and fellow high school classmate - and began to practice and play live in the summer of '78. The band recorded several demo and practice tapes in the late 1970's that are great mid-tempo political punk rock with the spirit of the Dead Boys and the Ramones behind them.
The Wards wrote the songs for what was to be their first EP, The World Ain't Pretty and Neither Are We, beginning in 1979-1980. These songs were recorded in the early '80s, but because of financial problems and delays at the pressing plant the record wasn't officially released until 1983. Songs such as "Weapon Factory," "Ghetto," "AFL-CIO" and "Reagan" are what make the first Wards' 7" not only the best record ever released by a Vermont band, but a punk rock masterpiece alongside other great early '80s bands from New England. The same thing can be said of their second 7" Don't Make U.S. Shoot the Pershing II. This record, another classic from start to finish, features "Spray Children," which is in my opinion the best Wards song aside from "Weapon Factory." Again, most of the songs on this 7" were written 1-3 years before actually being released.
In 1984 the Wards recorded what is arguably their best work: a session in Boston with Lou Giordano, who had also recorded other legendary Boston bands such as SS Decontrol and the Proletariat. The recording was released as the Ripped Off In Boston cassette – the title coming from the fact that their van was stolen near Kenmore Square while the band was in the studio. These songs are some of their best; lo-fi fast punk rock.
During the early 1980's the Wards played shows all over the Northeast – although they never managed an official tour. Besides playing 242 Main in Burlington, Vermont, the band appeared at the legendary A7 on the Lower East Side of NYC, the Channel in Boston, and the old Anthrax in Norwalk, Connecticut. Wards shows were (and still are) something that has to be seen to be believed. The band would play until they were forced to stop playing; they would play with complete disregard to everything around them. They used broken guitars and drum sets, and sometimes managed to play close to 40 songs. One time Tea Curley got burned by jumping through a bonfire during their set. They would order pizza on stage and get in fights and punch each other during the drunken brawls that sometimes happened when they played live. Wards sets are a spectacle of punk rock mayhem where you are often scared because you never knew what was going to happen next.
Nothing scripted, no commercial appeal, the Wards never strived for mass acceptance, radio play, or a big record deal. They were outsiders who didn't fit in with what was going on around them so they created their own thing. They can be credited with helping develop punk rock at its inception, and their success was in the honesty of their music – raw, abrasive, in your face, and totally rough around the edges. They manifested the true spirit of punk, playing because they loved doing it and for no other reason.
The three original members, Beano Parker, Tea Curley, and Seman Lincoln still live in Vermont and still play today. After 25 years, the Wards continue to release occasional demos and CDs of new material, and have compromised nothing.
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