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The Insults 1979 Ode to Fellatio Gets Reissued

We talk to the Cali punk vocalist who now spends time making wine in France.
January 28, 2015, 3:00pm

“She just wanna put her lips around stiff love / She’s too busy sucking on stiff love / She’s gonna get a mouthful of hot cum!” It doesn’t get much more direct than the Insults “Stiff Love.” A rude, crude and obnoxious slice of sleaze, the track is also considered a classic piece of late 70s Northern Californian punk.

Originally released in 1979 on Sick Sound Records, the seven-inch has long been an out of print collector favorite but next week gets the reissue treatment thanks to New York’s Last Laugh records.

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Originating from Watsonville, a sleepy town outside of Santa Cruz, the Insults made a short and sharp impact on the San Francisco punk scene in 1979 where they played alongside Black Flag and the Dead Kennedy’s and released a pair of seven-inches before vanishing soon after.

While “Stiff Love” is the band’s best known song, having appeared on the classic Bloodstains Across California compilation, the b-side “I’m Just a Doper’ is just as strong with vocalist Brendan Tracey delivering some quality fuck you lyrics “I ain’t no lawyer / I ain’t no doctor / I ain’t no dentist / I’m just a doper!” This all coming from someone who now lives in France where he makes wine.

Having already reissued their first single “Population Zero” (as well as an upcoming full length of unheard material) Last Laugh will have the reissues of “Stiff Love” available from next week.

We got in touch with Tracey to find out about the record and French wine.

Noisey: The lyrics for "Stiff Love” seem pretty contentious even for a late 70s punk band.
Brendan Tracey: I don't think the lyrics to "Stiff Love" were particularly contentious for a California punk outfit of that era. I was friends with a group based in Santa Barbara called the Strap on Dicks. I do remember my girlfriend Erika being pretty much disgusted with the pretentious masochist sexist statement of "Stiff Love." Our male Budweiser fans got a big kick out of it though.

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How did you end up making wine in France?
To make a long story short, my Mom is French,and when I came back to France in 1980 I got in touch with my former teen girlfriend Annie. We soon got married and I decided to stay on and take part in the booming local radio station movement that was just authorized by the newly elected president François Mitterrand. I worked in station PLUS FM based in Blois, in the Loire Valley, as program director and journalist for 27 exciting years. At one point my radio passion muted to routine! I quit in 2008 and went back to school in Amboise to study wine making. I did my apprenticeship with Thierry Puzelat, a French punk, and one of the pioneers of the "natural wine" movement in France.

One of your wines is labeled "Le Capitalisme Rouge est un vin de Garage" (Red Capitalism is a garage wine).
Yeah you could say I apply California punk philosophy to my wine making: "Don't give a shit about what people say, what counts is the honesty and energy you put into your music or whatever."

What happened to the other guys in the band?
I don't really know. I only stayed in touch with bassist Brian Frus. I last saw him when I went to see my mom in Monterey somewhere around 2009. He's doing fine and is still playing music.

What was the best Insults show?
Personally I loved the one we did at the Mabuhay in 1979, with Black Flag, the Feederz, and the Dead Kennedys. I was really knocked out by one of the "primo" versions of Black Flag's "I Was So Wasted" and the Kennedys' "California Uber Alles." At the time I was more of a fan than a musician!