CATHOLIC DISCIPLINE (r.i.p. 1979-1980)

  CATHOLIC DISCIPLINE started rehearsing around the end of August 1979. Forming the band was chiefly an idea between Claude Bessy, who was editor/writer extraordinaire of Slash Magazine, and Craig Lee, who was in the BAGS at the time and also a music writer. Claude wanted to be in a band, but could not play anything. Craig stepped in and offered to help Claude put the band together. The original idea behind the forming of the band was for members to use it as a vehicle from which to play an instrument that they were not accustomed to (Craig played bass for the BAGS, Robert played guitar in the ZEROS, etc…) and as a vehicle for Claude's writing…putting his poems into song. The band was also meant to be a vehicle for experimentation as the members had all been in early punk bands and wanted to try out newer post-punk type music and sounds.

  Phranc from NERVOUS GENDER and Rick Brodey from the BPEOPLE quickly joined up as well as scene newcomer Richard Meade. This line up rehearsed several times in August and September before playing their debut gig on September 14, 1979 at the Hong Kong Café. The Hong Kong Café would become home base for most of this group's career. The band quickly garnered press from Slash and through Kristine McKenna of the Los Angeles Times.

  After a few shows, Richard Meade would leave the band to be replaced by Robert Lopez (formerly of the ZEROS) who stayed with the band until the end. While Robert was with the band, they were invited to go on a tour of Europe with ECHO AND THE BUNNYMEN, but they turned the offer down. Around the same time, the band was filmed by Penelope Spheeris during several practices and finally filmed for their segment of 'The Decline of Western Civilization' at a Hong Kong Café show on January 19th, 1980. The band continued until the spring of 1980 when they finally disintegrated into different projects. The band only played in Los Angeles with the exception of one show in San Francisco. CATHOLIC DISCIPLINE are the only group to appear in the 'Decline' that never released a record of their own…until now.

CLAUDE BESSY (a.k.a. Kickboy Face)

   Claude originally came to the U.S. from France in 1973 and was already writing incendiary diatribes by 1975 while working at a restaurant on the Santa Monica pier. Claude started L.A.'s first reggae magazine called Angeleno Dread before creating a larger home for his caustic voice with Slash Magazine, which he co-founded in May 1977. Claude was editor/writer of Slash and kept it going until he left the U.S. in October 1980. He left before the official premier of the 'Decline'. Claude spent some time working for Rough Trade Records in England. He also produced some music videos for the VIRGIN PRUNES and the FALL and did promotional work for NICK CAVE and SONIC YOUTH. Claude also produced a film on William S. Burroughs before moving to Spain in 1987, where he lived the rest of his life with his long-time love Philomena Winstanley-Bessy. Around 1991, Claude recorded two tracks with RAEO in Spain. These final emissions appear on this disc. Claude checked out of the hotel life in 1999.


  Phranc went from NERVOUS GENDER to CATHOLIC DISCIPLINE and then to CASTRATION SQUAD. Phranc was only in CASTRATION SQUAD for a few months before parting to become a full-time solo artist. She has been billed as "America's premier Jewish lesbian folk singer" and has released several studio albums to critical acclaim. Phranc is still active in music, but also divides her time between selling Tupperware and raising a family of her own.


  Craig Lee became a member of the legendary BAGS after responding to an ad in the L.A. recycler. After that, Craig was a veritable man of steel on the early L.A. punk rock scene. Craig played in several different bands while still with the BAGS and even after the BAGS. He was also a music writer for the L.A. Weekly. While still with the BAGS, Craig helped form CATHOLIC DISCIPLINE. After the band disappeared, he continued with the BAGS until they, in turn, disappeared. After that he played in several bands including the BONEHEADS with Alice Bag and Robert Lopez. Craig continued to make music in one way or another, and write, until his untimely death in 1991.

ROBERT LOPEZ (a.k.a. El Vez)

  Robert Lopez was a founding member of the legendary ZEROS. He left the ZEROS in the summer of 1978 and was without a band until Craig Lee asked him to take over on keyboard/synth as Richard Meade was leaving the band. Robert Lopez joined CATHOLIC DISCIPLINE in the late Fall of 1979 and stayed with the band until they disintegrated. After CATHOLIC DISCIPLINE, he played in the BONEHEADS with Craig Lee an also did some reunions with the ZEROS until finally developing his alternate ego known as 'El Vez'. Robert Lopez currently continues to perform solo as El Vez and has released several albums of Elvis songs that have been 'Mexicanized' as well as original songs inspired by the King and early rock'n'roll.


  Rick Brodey was an early member of the BPEOPLE, but did not last long with them. He was recruited by Craig Lee to join CATHOLIC DISCIPLINE and was in the band from beginning to end. Around this time he was married to Pat Bag and you can see him using her bass guitar from the BAGS in 'Decline'. After CATHOLIC DISCIPLINE, Rick was in the SHADOW MINSTRELS. Rick was a long time employee of Rhino Records and aided in the release of many of great anthology releases for them including the 'Nuggets' boxed sets. Rick still plays music as time permits.


   Richard Meade is a bit of an elusive mystery man. He was the first synth/keyboard player for CATHOLIC DISCIPLINE and is credited with co-writing "Underground Babylon" with Claude Bessy. Richard got stressed out about things, which caused him to want to leave the band. He left on good terms and would appear at their shows to support them. Nothing more has been heard from Richard except that he has been spotted in the Santa Monica area and has been keeping a low profile…


Phranc: "Catholic Discipline was never a real 'band' situation. Everyone was in at least one or two other bands. Some of it was conflict of interest or conflict of personality, but it was pretty perfect the way it started and ended." -from the Encyclopedia of Modern Music

Robert Lopez (a.k.a. El Vez): (On forming Catholic Discipline) "It wasn't that much of an idea to help out Claude as 'Okay, let's do it that way', but I think we all got on the same level as Claude because it was his first time to be singer, so it was my first time to play keyboards, it was Craig's first time to play to play drums…so, in that sense, it made us all equal in doing that. I like to feel that it was more Claude's baby because he had the ideas and he was the front man. I like to think it was his concept. I think Craig and him put it together, but I like to think it was Claude's Baby." (On the band's music) "Music wise it was kind of odd because it was just jams that would turn into songs. We would experiment with ideas…this was the idea of 'Okay, let's play and see how spooky it sounds…' We'd try anything…Let's try it with this different beat instead. It was the first band that I was ever in with more time to (play a song) again and again, try it with these dirges and try to sound spooky. It had good input by all of us…let's try different things." -from an unpublished interview conducted by Greg McWhorter

Rick Brodey: (On forming Catholic Discipline) "(It stared out as) Drunken happenstance of a random moment of time. It's amusing what seem like good ideas when you are in a 'particular' state of mind. Power of suggestion mixed with peer pressure." (On the band's music) "We all had our own influences to be sure, but in the end it was a conglomeration if anything. As for how we all gyrated within the framework of the band…therein lies the mysterious beauty of it all. God dropped us into a pot together in search of a certain concoction. A one of a kind, never to be repeated delectable treat whose rare ingredients came together to create a disturbing taste sensation." (On Claude Bessy) "(He was) A passionately mad and driven soul with the words of a poet and the fortitude of a sailor. He was the band." -from an unpublished interview conducted by Greg McWhorter


Review of 9-14-79 Hong Kong Café (debut) show:

   "Well, I guess if the pope can sing so can Claude…But seriously, Claude worked each Catholic Discipline song for all the face-twisting emotion and dead man's stare they were worth. Facial expressions getting the lyrics across, no over acting. And me being a sucker for good lyrics, Kickboy covers a pretty fucking full range of subject - situations, from mundane bus riding (that turns into conflict) to malicious guards watching prisoners undress. And imagine - you can understand the words even with that massacring accent.
   On the music side, the arrangements provide each band member with their own undeniable space. Where the keyboards' humming leaves off, the bass and drum rhythm fills in. And a Love style picking picking guitar "adds a little good talk" to make it easy to move your feet. Each section very sparse, working together for a common goal. And again supplying the audience with a full range of sound - emotions, fast - slow, disjunct - cohesive. The main area where there's room for improvement is in their performance. All the kinks are not yet smoothed out. But this star-studded band; Craig (Bags) drums, Phranc (Nervous Gender) guitar, Rick (B-People) bass & guitar, and Richard Mead synthesizer and organ, has only rehearsed eight times and formed two weeks ago.
   At the beginning of the night a waiting line formed at the door. I guess everyone wanted to see the return of joke bands to Los Angeles, but Catholic Discipline isn't a joking matter." -Cowboy and Cowgirl, Slash, October 1979

Review of 10-12-79 Hong Kong Café show:

  "An interesting thing it is. It's some kind of melodic/minimal/Screamers-like/art-rock that's embellished with the elaborate lyrics of Mr. Bessy. Lyrics that I would rather read than listen to. Rick is so very precise on the bass, and Phranc has turned into a pretty clever guitarist. Claude himself is still very stiff onstage and his voice hoarse and shouting. Nonetheless, he does make an interesting figure to watch, and nobody really took their eyes off him for a minute. Like any other kind of band, the Disciplines need more experience together and to play in front of wilder crowds. Should Claude become more loose onstage, we can probably count on some wild nights at upcoming Catholic Discipline gigs, but so far, not a bad start. The songs are very good and that's 50% of the whole things anyway. So be patient." -Ranking Jeffery Lee (Gun Club), Slash, November 1979

Review of 11-8-79 Anti-Club show:

   "Opening the show was Catholic Discipline, a local super-group of sorts that that includes moonlighting members of the Bags, Nervous Gender, the Zeros and the BPeople. Fronting the quintet is chief editor of Slash Magazine, Claude Bessy, an elegantly outrageous madman bent on rubbing noses in fleshy realities.
   Bessy is an excellent writer obsessed with the ugly truth, and the angry morality that jumps off the pages of Slash is with him when he sings, too. Catholic Discipline has come a long way in a very short time and the sharp edges and heated delivery of their rigorously harsh music singe the senses quite effectively." -Kristine McKenna, Los Angeles Times, 11-10-79


  Unfortunately for us Catholic Discipline never stepped foot inside a recording studio. The only recordings that exist of this band are live shows with the exception of "Pablo Picasso" live on KPFK, which is as close to a studio track as they got. The Oct/Nov. 1979 Hong Kong Café show and the January 19th, 1980 "Pablo Picasso" were both supplied by Richard Meltzer and were transferred from ¼" reels that are thought to have originally been recorded by Craig Lee. The January 19th, 1980 Hong Kong Café show was supplied by Philly Bessy and was transferred from a cassette copy. The Anti-Club show was supplied by a punk tape trader and was also transferred from a cassette copy. "Dejame Solo" and "No Soy Hemingway" are courtesy of RAEO. Please excuse any lapses in audio quality. We picked the best songs from the sources that we had available to us.
   We hope that someday some other recordings may surface, such as the rehearsal recordings and 'Decline' live outtakes that are supposed to exist (which we repeatedly tried to coax from Spheeris and Co.). For now, this CD is the prime document. It took us a year to collect, organize, and master this CD…I dreamed long ago that someday a Catholic Discipline record would materialize…I am overwhelmed to have been the one to organize it's release. Thank you for listening to it.