LK 019 became the number to mark the Corrupted Morals vinyl only release "Cheese It!". The band had drafted in a new member since their ‘Chet’ EP, in the form of Oakland musician Larry LaLonde, already a known face on the scene, having debuted his playing with death metal forerunners ‘Possessed’ on their ‘Seven Churches’ debut album, at only 17 years old, before joining another band from the metal realm – ‘Blind Illusion’, whom he would play with at the same time as Corrupted Morals.
The band with a reinforced line up stepped back in ferocity somewhat, gleaning some sharper sounds for their debut album, along with some overall heavier leanings on tempo changes and melodic breaks. As much as their first record on Lookout had been a blast of pent up annihilation, an equal dose of thought coursing through ‘Cheese It’ stood the record on an evolving pedestal, with off beats, acoustic segments and lead breaks shining through, likely down to the presence of a guitarist of the stature of LaLonde – who would incidentally would be enlisted by Primus following his Corrupted Morals tenure. It must also be said however that the Morals didn’t stray in giant steps from their earlier sound, another label peer who was moving into a new further musical ground was Plaid Retina.
Following their debut 7”, Plaid Retina had evolved with a member change – bassist Rob leaving the band - and new 7” record – ‘Boxcar’, on German label ‘Musical Tragedies’. It also became apparent soon enough that the band were also evolving musically, with a new approach replacing the breakneck hardcore beginnings showcased on the Lookout debut 7”.
Don Hudgens ( Plaid Retina) : “The beginning of the change first required breaking free of the fast song hardcore punk format, and for myself, I started listening beyond hardcore at home way before the first 7”, as I got really into the Siouxsie And The Banshees “Hyaena” album. I remembered some punk girls at high school were into it, and that album came back later in life via a girlfriend at the time. What made it head and shoulders noticeable over everything else was its sophistication. Beer slamming punks won’t even give it the time of day, and somehow I knew that was a grave error to do so. Aside from the sophisticated musicianship and haunting melodies, I read lyrics off it like “skating bullets on angel dust / in a dead sea of fluid mercury” which, to me, translated to getting high and skateboarding in empty swimming pools, creating a flow. It all spoke to me. So, I sat and waited for an opening in Matt and Rob’s taste in music. It finally came around in, believe it or not, rap music. I got into the Beastie Boys as a side thing through some Fresno, California punks at the time that did as well, and that was going along day by day just having fun with it. Suddenly Matt and Rob show up singing “My Addidas” by Run DMC. They had bought the tape, ‘Raising Hell’, and I knew in the back of my mind that this was the turning point I’d been waiting for. Sure enough, Matt got into The Minutemen and fIREHOSE not long after his hardcore gauntlet had finally been shattered, and we were finally on our way, for real.”
The ‘Pinkeye’ LP (LK 20) brought to life a new side of Plaid Retina, adding more mid paced rhythmic oriented off kilter arrangements, with tempo variances and time changes centered around the drum and bass core of the band. Fast breaks were still appearing throughout, but a definite SST school of playing influenced flavour seeped into the songs. With still some under a minute compositions laid out, the steady paced tracks outweighed the speedy, giving vocalist Matt Morris much more opportunity to shine with some great sardonic spouting moments in between off beat breakdowns. Plaid Retina’s metal background no doubt aided the array of new musicianship on show, with new bassist Travis being an accomplice of Hudgens from the band Oblivion. The technical rhythm angle the band took was certainly an interesting take on the music they had been developing, given that the hardcore and punk banner was still being flown and well on display.
Don Hudgens (Plaid Retina) : “We were full on with trying to get whatever weird and intense stuff we could find for our collections and then we heard ‘Sex Mad’ from Nomeansno. It all came together then, and when we auditioned Travis, we told him the future was going to be similar to that album.”
Following the album and some West Coast touring, the band went on the following year to release the ‘Rejection’ 7” on ‘Duck Butter Records’ before leaving the ranks of Lookout to focus on releasing records on David Hayes’ fledgling ‘Very Small Records’. The move didn’t even seem like a move rather a name change of label, with the bands close ties to Hayes as opposed to any Livermore dealings.
Don Hudgens (Plaid Retina) : “Yes it was all about being friends with Dave. I don’t think any of us even gave Lookout much thought, really. The thing about Plaid Retina was that in the early Bay Area days, we were trying to get in with the hardcore scene. But when we finally got to meet people and play, the East Bay was changing to pop punk. Plaid Retina, we were fine with Primus because they were such great players, but we just couldn’t get into pop punk because it was a real turn off for us. Lookout was boppin’ along and getting larger like everyone else was getting larger, not really bigger or smaller than their peer record labels at the time, but they did have Operation Ivy which was always doing well. At this point Lookout just needed a little push.”
Plaid Retina followed up ‘Pinkeye’ with the ‘Mind Tracing The Going Down’ album for Very Small Records as well as ‘The Spark’ 7”, before releasing their final album for the band and label titled ‘Dead End Mind’. One feat achieved for Plaid Retina would be the fact of being one of , if not the only band surviving on the underground scene from the early days of Lookout until the mid 1990’s, before disbanding in 1996. While others who released Lookout material in the late 1980’s had carried on and onto greater heights (Green Day, Samiam, Neurosis), Plaid Retina flew the flag for ten years in the independent scene, truly serving their dues several times over.