We finally got back to updating this free page. Our Facebook pages will be more current for time being. We own VKTMS.COM but do not have hosting. Facebook us at either - Our VKTMS Facebook regular page or Our VKTMS Facebook Band page
VKTMS got together in 1978 when Mohammed Obead introduced Louis Gwerder (drums) to Jay Davis (guitar). After rehearsing for a while with various people and using a different name they added George Ritter (bass) and began searching for a singer. Nyna Crawford answered a bulletin board ad placed at Aquarius Records. Her intense energy (she cracked a solid concrete floor) and already developed lyric skills impressed them immediately.
The band began gigging and shortly after put out what has become to be called the "Midget" EP , a fairly collectible 4 song record including My Baby’s a Midget which has been often covered and unfortunately bootlegged.
Not long after that friction arose with George and Steve Ricablanca (another friend of the gregarious Palestinian Mohammed) was brought over. His more developed skills brought a higher level of musicianship and songcraft to the VKTMS. His introduction to recording with the band also occurred within a short time span on the legendary SF Underground EP (on Subterranean Records) with other bands Flipper, Tools, and No Alternative.
Jay Davis left the band and after some auditions Steve remembered a guitarist, John Binkov, that he had also met in a roundabout way through (another) bulletin board note. Using John's background in various styles, as well as his tough attitude, the finishing touch was added to the project. This line-up has remained intact since 1980. John fit right in and soon the band found itself playing more often than most of the other bands in town.
Few bands played the Mabuhay Gardens more times and VKTMS played every single other club in town and in the Bay Area. Playing gigs with the Dead Kennedys, DOA, Flipper, Mutants, and so forth at the legendary Mab, around the San Francisco Bay area, and up and down the coast helped establish the VKTMS sound and style. Shows with the Ramones, Johnny Thunders and other godfathers toughened the music even more. VKTMS also became the ritual sacrificial offering for many touring acts (Stranglers, Roky Erikson, 999, Killing Joke, Wall of Voodoo, Bush Tetras, Fear, Psychedelic Furs, Delta 5, and many others) when they came through town. Of course, there were many, many shows with friends and peers such as the Dead Kennedys, The Nuns, DOA, Crime, SVT, Romeo Void, Agent Orange, TSOL, No Alternative and so many others.
When given a chance to record for Howie Klein's 415 Records VKTMS put out the infamous White Girl/No Long Goodbyes single with cover art by the underground cartoonist Jim Osborne, who also designed a series of highly outlandish posters. Speaking of art, every member of the band plus a large extended family was well capable in the visual arts. Most punk bands were fairly artistic but VKTMS art is generally in a class by itself. Having the VKTMS house to rehearse and hang out together in brought the band as close together as family. This is a distinction that continues today in that after well over a quarter of a decade the surviving members are still good friends and working together on projects.
In the winter of 1981-1982 VKTMS began recording an album. There was no label support and the band was hoping to shop the album. Based on their strong local support the thought was that this was possible. What happened instead was that the recordings sat in the can for twelve years (until 1994).
Nyna left in 1982 and played in Murder (w/ Bob Clic of the Lewd) and in Smashed Weekend (with Ben Cohen of Sister Double Happiness) then she dropped out of music until VKTMS started getting renewed attention from a new generation.
Steve and John played in Vauxhall for about a year until Steve went off to culinary school. John tried to keep playing for a while but like the others got the feeling it was time to try something new. Needing to learn more about other music styles and wanting more input from diverse sources, on a wild impulse he applied to UC Berkeley. John got a BA in Music (1992) there and then an MA (1995) from UC Davis (Composition).
Louis is also painter using non-traditional materials and canvases. He has had multiple showings of his art. Steve also learned graphic art and design, as well as digital video skills. These were to come in handy later. He designed some the record art and has worked on producing videos.
While working at Masas restaurant in the early 1990s Steve met two younger cooks (Dave Elias and John Eisenhart) who happened to be punk rock collectors and had been talking about starting a small label to put out their favorite stuff. When they found that Steve had been in the VKTMS they could not hardly believe this. Dafflespitz Records was formed and the process of trying to release the album began in late 1993. It took a fair amount of effort to resuscitate the tapes (using a process known as "baking") and fortunately their old engineer and sound man Keni Fink was still around to help remix the album. It was released in 1995. The album sold fairly well in Europe and the band decided it was a good idea to get together and see what would happen. Nyna came up from Long Beach and it seemed as if time had stood still. Lou, Steve and John had worked out some kinks a few weeks before in Lou's back room but the sound was still there and it seemed like it would be even more fun this time since the band had matured and false hopes were not the inspiration this time.
The band got together and played new material almost immediately; like in the old days. It was so much fun playing together that VKTMS threw a few private parties (at Lennon Studios) and to their surprise the response was great. After that the band began performing in public at clubs like the Paradise Lounge,Transmission Theater, Gilman Street, El Rio; and also for events like BAM magazine's 20th Anniversary Party and the Vibe-O-Thon Benefit for Kathy Peck's (from The Contractions) H.E.A.R. project. There were many other shows later in the second phase. VKTMS last played at the Club Boomerang in San Francisco (1840 Haight), Bottom of the Hill, and (especially!) 924 Gilman Street
At a show at El Rio VKTMS met Mike Millet from Broken Rekids who offered to put out CD which was what finally gave them the validation that they had missed. After it came out the band began to hear from people all around the globe. The CD is a compilation of all the released material (except one song), plus some live cuts. It came out in 1997. VKTMS carried on until the end until Nyna passed away from cancer in 2000 after a very brave five year battle..
Steve, Lou and John have played a few shows since then, mostly for benefits. One particular one of note was for Ness Aquino, the owner of the Mabuhay Gardens, at the Mab. Another more recent one was for the Homeless Youth Alliance of San Francisco. Various singers have contributed, including, Kathy Peck (The Contractions), Meri St. Mary (Housecoat Project), Sophie Vogel (The Yes Go’s), Terry Morris and Sybil Disorder. Even more recent was the September 2012 SF Punk Reunion with 15 bands from the original era, photos, videos and much else. A festival celebrating the whole San Francisco scene.
Related to the Reunion show VKTMS played a few gigs within a week before and after. The feeling was that as long as it is fun and the shows are interesting, i.e. not the club grind, then why not play more. Not regularly, but as it comes. No better way to not only honor Nyna's art and talent but also to keep creating the kind of music we enjoy. With our new companions Terry Morris and Sophie Vogel we are pretty damn excited about we are going.
Nyna we will always love and miss you. - Lou, Steve and John