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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Best of 1988: Marc Baker of Crazy 8s

Posted by Ned Lannamann on Thu, Jul 24, 2008 at 2:48 PM

crazy8.jpgThe Crazy 8s at the Erb Memorial Ballroom, University of Oregon, Eugene, February 1988

For our Best of 1988 issue, Mark Wanaka of Crazy 8s shared his memories of August 8, 1988, they day Crazy 8s released their live album. To promote its release, Crazy 8s played eight shows that day, at various record stores around Portland and a final show at Starry Night.

The 8s' manager, Marc Baker, also had plenty to say about that day and of memories of '88 in general. We weren't able to fit Marc's comments in the paper, but we've got plenty of room on the blog--so let's take a look back with Marc Baker.

On why the Crazy 8s self-released their albums and never went with a label, even after selling close to 50,000 copies of their records:

BAKER: The biggest downfall with the 8s and the major label music industry at that time were twofold. First, Sire and Chrysalis (in particular) had just taken a bath financially on the ska movement for the most part. While groups such as the Specials, English Beat, Selector, and Madness were cool, only Madness had some success in terms of sales and draw in the states. The last thing a label wanted to sign was an American ska band (which we weren't) which we had been labeled due to our two tone appearance, horn section and choice of some covers as well as an appearance with the English Beat.
On recording the Big Live Nut Pack album:
[It was recorded live] in front of the largest crowd ever in the Erb Memorial Ballroom at the University of Oregon. At that time the guys, being from Oregon State, had been banned from Oregon State for being to wild, so why not play at the rival college? They loved us.

The show was so crowded that the doors and windows had to be opened up, as folks were so jammed in, kids were sitting on the front of the stage and some speakers. Sweat box squared! Stage dives, crowd surfing, totally nuts...a Big Live Nut Pack!

crazy8s.jpg

On Big Live Nut Pack's release on August 8, 1988:

The release on 8/8/88 was us just seeing how far we could take the 8s. We had already caused problems with a rooftop performance at the Art Museum School a year prior, which was not by design. We wanted to plan and pull off something completely by design that would be fun and get the word out. The stage mounted on the 40-foot flatbed curtain semi was the answer! We mounted a generator on a pickup that followed closely and set up stops in front of seven retailers spread out across the metro area so that everyone had a chance to get in on the fun. Starting downtown at Rockport Records and Music Millennium NW, we then worked our way out to the Beaverton Fred Meyer and Tower Records Beaverton before heading to Tower Records Eastport and Everybody's Records at North Lombard with stop number 7 at Music Millennium on East Burnside at 5pm. Complete traffic jam!! Perfect!! Police arriving after we would leave the scene of a mess, Z-100 doing live remotes along for the ride and a TriMet bus driver shaking her fist as she finally made it by the stage with the band blasting out a final ditty.
On the final 8/8/88 show at Starry Night (now the Roseland):
The final show at Starry Night was a madhouse! We gave away 1,000 bags of Hoody's nut and a backstage pass "that would get you absolutely nowhere" as part of admission. Peanuts flying everywhere. Mr. Peanut playing muzak versions of Crazy 8s songs to open the show (until we finally pulled him offstage due to the relentless barrage of nuts he was taking). One kid doing a stage dive from the top of the speaker stack. The wildest, most creative day in Portland music history (easily).
On the Portland music scene in 1988:
The Portland scene was really happening with Key Largo peaking and places like the X-ray Cafe and Satyricon being cool places for new artists to perform. On some nights you could catch the 8s, run and catch the Dharma Bums, run and catch the Wipers or Napalm Beach and then hit Hung Far Low for a buck drink nightcap... or catch the last couple of songs from Tom Grant's quartet with Carlton Jackson, Jeff Leonard and Dan Balmer... or go to an after hours party. Great time to be into music in Portland.

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