Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Punk rocker with long criminal, psych history, dies

Editor's Note: This is a corrected version an earlier post.
Chris Sakey, a Granite State punk rock musician with a long history of psych problems and criminal activity, died last week after jumping off a local building, according to today's Concord Monitor: ["Man jumps to death"].
I knew Chris back in the day. We played together in a noise band called Insanicide in the mid-1980s, along with Jim Hildreth and Andrew Smith, all bored teenagers from New Hampshire with nothing to do.
The band had a revolving door policy in that we would each show up for whatever gig, whenever we could, and do whatever we felt like musically. It was a ton of fun. The punks hated us because we were "arty," but they tolerated us because we would bring some folks to the shows and we weren't bad people.
Chris was more metal than the rest of us. He would pull out these scaled solos on the guitar while Jim would pound out these dissident bass lines and Andrew and I would just stand there and allow our guitars to feedback at gutwrenching volumes, shaking buildings and forcing people to move away from the stage. It was kinda like a cross between Motorhead and Philip Glass. I often likened my guitar sound during this time period to what it would sound like if a whale was being tortured at the Hanoi Hilton. We didn't think we were all that great at the time. We were just having fun. But, listening to some of the tapes in later years, we were way ahead of our time.
I also knew, God rest his soul, that Chris was completely bats.
I remember to this day [1984? 1986?] driving around Boston for some reason that I can't remember, in his beat up car, trying to find a parking space. The car didn't have a knob for the blinkers. So Chris stuck in a toothbrush into the jam. It would work for him but it didn't for me. I had to take over driving for him because he hadn't taken his meds or something and was overcome with these painful headaches. I'm trying to drive this car - a total wreck - in the Fens area, looking for a space. The toothbrush isn't working for the blinkers, so I'm constantly hand signaling while turning, pissing off Boston drivers, who continually honk at us. Chris kept screaming at me to find a parking space. I looked over at Jim and he didn't say much but we both tried to calm him down. Chris, however, wasn't having any of it, holding onto his head, with a perfectly coiffed mohawk and a pained look on his face.
After finally finding a parking space, I asked Jim what the problem was, and Jim stated, if I recall correctly, in his deadpan way, "He's fucking nuts."
I never noticed this behavior during the gigs but I wasn't really paying attention either. I was in my own world and the music wasn't structured enough to require looking at the other musicians to figure out what was going on. We just listened and watched Jim and sensed when he was ready to stop and we would too.
He had great lyrics and a great, snarky attitude. One of the better song titles was "Peace, then what?" One line that sticks in my head to this day is this: "Sperm drips down from the trees, see it hanging off green leaves ..." We would rank on baby boomers, with Jim calling our time "the summer of love skins," because AIDS was just starting to rage in certain population sectors. Simply hilarious.
I stopped playing with Insanicide a short time after that, moving to NYC and later Boston, attempting to start my own "career" in music. For about two decades, I was in and out of all sorts of bands, self-producing music, doing small tours, etc. On two different occasions, I left bands that went onto bigger things, solidifying my position as just another New England musician who never really "made it." The trail is long and full of them, although I still play guitar to this day.
I lost track of Jim for a while there but he did visit me in NYC during one recording session in 1987 or 1988. He was living in Vermont at the time and I believe he lives in upstate New York now.
Andrew, who also played in the Eunuchs of Industry, lived in Boston for a while and released some very cool 7-inch records, including "Boneyard," one of my favorite noise records of all time. He later resettled in Europe. We talked by email last year and I'm still attempting to dub all the Insanicide stuff to mp3 with some decent mastering so he can upload the files to his Web site for all the world to hear.
As for Chris, he didn't fare too well and one could have suspected that it would all lead to this in the end.
Sometime in 1987, Chris hooked up with Lisa Carver aka Lisa Suckdog, who also did punk shows with us, and they moved to Philadelphia. According to Carver's book, "Drugs are Nice: A post-punk memoir," Chris allegedly said he was going to rape her one morning and came after her, and she attacked him with a hot iron [Chapter 7, Page 40]. According to the book, Chris later moved out, quit his job so he can spy on Lisa and her roommate Rachel, and later moved to California to go the music school.
Years later, in 1997 or 1998, Chris would allegedly attempt to murder Barbara Becht, the owner of the Elvis Room in Portsmouth, according to the Portsmouth Herald Web site. I didn't know about this but looking back, it doesn't surprise me.
If I knew he lived in Concord, I might have tried to look up him. Then again, I probably would not have because I knew the guy was dangerous.
Hopefully now, Chris is finding some peace and quiet. R.I.P.


Anonymous said...

Hey.. Just wanted to put in a quick comment. Don't know if you'll get this or not.. Might be worth it, though.. Just wanted to say that I enjoyed reading the article.. My name is Sarah. I knew Chris from when he lived at Fellowship House, when I was doing an internship there for school. He was an awesome guy. Really mellow and just one of the nicest people I have ever met. He used to talk about some of the stuff you mentioned, briefly and vaguely, when we'd be rippin' butts out back of Fellowship, but it was always nice to hear the stories he shared. I loved listening to him talk.. He just had the most interesting things to say. He spoke on subjects nobody ever talks about and made sense of things that don't seem to make sense to the rest of the world. I never got to see him play his guitar and I'm still a little upset about that... But life goes on, I suppose. I will never forget Chris. He was an awesome guy. Anyway, thanks for listening to me ramble. If you would like to get in touch with me for whatever reason, my e-mail address is SaryBaryMuffin@msn.com and once again, my name is Sarah. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

i was a high school classmate of chris's & one of the founding members of insanicide. i spent a lot of time with him in the 80's. his problems were 99% based on mental illness. i hope that the main lesson gleaned from his death is that people with mental illness need help early on and that many, many "criminals" are actually mentally ill and should have help as early as possible- meaning that people (family members, teachers, doctors)should learn to recognize symptoms and intervene to help facilitate treatment and not ignore these issues.