Naked Raygun

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Final Naked Raygun lineup

Naked Raygun was one of the first, one of the longest running and one of the best Chicago punk bands. They are considered by a large majority to be the most important band in the history of Chicago punk.


Short Term Members


Compilations (incomplete)

  • Busted at Oz (Autumn Records, March 1981) - Bomb Shelter, When the Screaming Stops, Paranoia, Libido
  • The Middle of America Compilation (H.I.D., 1984) - I Don't Know, Stupid
  • Sub Pop 100 (Sub Pop, 1986) - Bananacuda
  • The Wailing Ultimate (Homestead, 1987) - I Remember
  • Rat Music For Rat People Vol. III (1987) - Rocks of Sweden
  • Beautiful Happiness (Happy, 1988) - Vanilla Blue
  • Something's Gone Wrong Again, The Buzzcocks Covers Compilation (Caroline, 1992) - Love Battery, Running Free
  • Faster & Louder: Hardcore Punk, vol. 2 (Rhino, 1993) - Rat Patrol

Unreleased or Obscure

  • Promo Tape (Around March/April 1982)
    • Sent out to potential bookings, Reviewed in CR #20
    • Tracks include Mofo, Bombshelter, Emperor Tojo, Party Dolls and Coitus Interruptus
  • Roger Moore
    • Popular early track (1981 timeframe), never recorded
  • Chicago Sound
    • CD released around 2000. Contains two live shows:
      • Eagles Club, Milwaukee 10/29/1989 - complete show with Bill Stephens on guitar
      • WUST Radio Hall, Washington DC 6/20/1985 - partial show with Haggerty
    • Presumably a bootleg, as the sound quality is mediocre, although the disc is labeled as "Sandpounder Records 002".



Naked raygun-wide.jpg

Naked Raygun began in February of 1980 when Marko Pezzati and Santiago Durango decided to form a band. Jim Colao joined the band briefly, but left almost immediately after joining. Needing a singer, Marko got his younger brother Jeff on board - he started practing with Marko and Santiago at 222 S. Morgan St., playing their first gig shortly thereafter in June. At this point they used the name Negro Commando. Shortly thereafter Bobby Strange signed up on drums and they recorded a demo, which would eventually be included on the Basement Screams CD reissue. The band's first gig as Naked Raygun was in August at the original Oz. In October, they played their third gig in Detroit, where the audience walked out on them. Strange left in December, and the band tried out various replacements. One short-term replacement was John Lundin, who quickly switched over to keyboards. For their New Years Eve gig at Oz, Jim Colao rejoined as the full-time drummer.

Although many believed that the band's name was a play on "Ronald Reagan", this is apparently not the case--the name was picked more or less at random.


Naked Pezzati @ Tuts, 1981

With a stable lineup in place, Naked Raygun began to play regularly in Chicago. In March of 1981, Raygun recorded live tracks for the Busted at Oz comp - the first time Raygun appeared on vinyl. Marko Pezzati left the band in 1981 (likely April/May, from CR 13&14) and was replaced by original Silver Abuse member Camilo Gonzalez. John Lundin left April/May 1981. Because he was not replaced, Naked Raygun ditched the keyboards and became a four piece. The band closed out 1981 by playing a New Year's Eve gig at O'Banions with Trial by Fire (according to CR #18).

In this period, Raygun's music was very experimental and quite different from the more straight-ahead Buzzcocks-influenced punk sound that would later bring them fame. Durango, in particular, would frequently experiment with his guitar sound, changing nearly from gig to gig. In a 1992 interview, Steve Albini raved "I mean, they were so weird back then. Totally left field. Going to see them live at that time was totally invigorating because they were so damn weird. It was like a space age rockabilly band. With this bizarre jungle drumming going on. And periodically they would take too much drugs or whatever, and Santiago would come out with this completely underwater guitar sound. It would just flatten everybody." Albini later wrote an extended paean to the early Raygun incarnation in the liner notes for Basement Screams. Frustratingly, very little recorded output exists from this period, save for the 222 S. Morgan St. demo, four songs on Busted at Oz, a few poor-quality demo tracks on the posthumous Last of the Demohicans CD, and Basement Screams.


In March 1983, the band embarked on their first tour, a 10-day East Coast swing in March including a show opening for Mission of Burma in Washington DC. This tour actually took place before Basement Screams had been released. After the tour, John Haggerty, who would occasionally join Raygun on stage to perform Swingo on sax, joined up on guitar. This two-guitar lineup only played a few gigs, including the Basement Screams record release show at the Cubby Bear. These gigs were apparently incredible, but it is not known if this lineup was ever recorded. In July or August, Raygun finally released the Basement Screams EP. Durango left Raygun to join Big Black in mid-1983 (Matter #4 from July said he was "ex-Naked Raygun"), although ironically, Jeff Pezzati was still playing bass in Big Black at the time.

During this time, Durango and both Pezzati brothers lived in a coach house at 1129 West Drummond in the Lincoln Park neighborhood (according to the liner notes of Last of the Demohicans). Steve Albini described the "Naked Raygun house" as a central part of the Chicago punk scene during this time. It was at this house where Big Black's lineup formed, when Durango was distracted from watching a football game by the sounds of Pezzati and Albini practicing in the basement, and asked if he could play along with them.

With Haggerty on lead guitar, the band recorded Throb Throb in the summer of 1983, which because of funding would not get released until 1985. The album was preceded by the Flammable Solid 7-inch.


Though Colao played on Throb Throb, he left the band in spring/summer of 1984 before the record was released. He left under less than amicable circumstances, as he disagreed with the rest of the band about going on an West Coast tour before releasing Throb Throb to raise funds. Colao felt that going on a cross-country tour with no record to sell was a financial mistake, and wanted to play only larger local gigs until they had the cash to release Throb Throb. Colao was replaced by former DV8 drummer Eric Spicer. In a posting on his MySpace page, Spicer joked that he wound up joining the band solely because "I just made sure I never missed a practice." Despite changing drummers and encountering delays in releasing Throb Throb, Raygun steadily gained popularity and toured the Midwest (in the summer) and the West Coast (in September/October), and opened for the Ramones at the 5000-seat Aragon Ballroom in Chicago. Many of the songs that would make up their next LP All Rise had already been written by this point, as evidenced on an audience recording of the August 11, 1984 show at the VFW#18 in Kansas City. As the band gained wider acclaim, Jeff Pezzati eventually decided to leave Big Black in late 1984 to focus on Raygun.


Throb Throb was finally released in early 1985, followed by East Coast gigs in April and June. The album was very well received and established the band as one of the top American post-punk bands; a review in Maximumrocknroll pegged them as "one of the most important bands in the country". By this point, Raygun was becoming a huge draw in Chicago, graduating from clubs like the Cubby Bear and Tuts to regularly playing the Cabaret Metro. Raygun also began what would become a hometown tradition by playing a Thanksgiving show at Metro--infamously, Pezzati took a chainsaw to a turkey onstage and threw the remains into the audience.

Camilo Gonzalez played on the tours after Throb Throb was released, but subsequently left the band and was replaced by Pierre Kezdy. Kezdy joined shortly before All Rise was recorded, but did not contribute any songs to the record, which was mostly written by Pezzati and Haggerty. Although according to a fanzine interview the band was targeting a Christmas release, All Rise was eventually released only in 1986.

2006 Reunion Show


On November 5th, 2006 Raygun will be playing their first show in over 9 years at Riot Fest 2006. The lineup will be the final one - Pezzati, Kezdy, Stephens and Spicer. It has created quite a buzz and folks from all over the US (and Europe!) are heading in to see Raygun.

To promote their show, Raygun made their first televsion appearance in 10 years on October 19th, 2006 on local Chicago music show JBTV. It featured a continuous interview with Jeff, Bill and Pierre along with the video to Home and a few live concert videos (Managua, The Sniper Song). The show also had a bunch of videos from fellow Riot Fest acts. Part two of the Raygun interview appeared on on the October 25th show of JBTV.

Raygun also played a secret, invite-only show at the Cobra Lounge in Chicago on October 19 as a warmup for the Riot Fest show--their first gig since the 1997 reunion shows at the Metro. Video of three songs (Vanilla Blue, Knock Me Down, and the set closer Managua) has showed up on YouTube.

On November 3rd, Raygun did an short interview and played live on Q101's Morning Fix. The interview was at 8am and they played Vanilla Blue towards the end of the hour.



  • Going Underground by George Hurchalla - Throb Throb release/recording dates and Colao's take on leaving.

External Links

YouTube Clips