Dead Fink

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The Dead Fink story as told by Dan Schneider and MXV.

In 1979, four aspiring musicians from Downers Grove, IL in the 6th grade decided to form a band called Nixon and the Tapes. They were Chris McCracken (bass), Robert “Shrub” Byrne (guitar), Mick Calhoun (guitar), and Dan Schneider (drums). Nobody sang and these youngsters were doing covers of their newfound discovery of punk rock bands at the time such as Sex Pistols, The Clash, and The Damned. This band of kids actually played a good handful of high profile shows such as local birthday parties, Mr. Schneider’s local union, and to a school of Deaf Kids.

In early 1982, the band morphed into the extremely short lived DDT. The lineup saw Chris McCracken leave because he wasn’t into “hardcore punk” and be replaced by Mike Byrne (Robert’s older brother). The band didn’t even last long enough to find out there was already at least one band called DDT, let alone play any shows. However, the band was very prolific, practicing and recording songs on a boom box nearly every day of their short life. Sadly, in what would become a theme with these Klowns, no one saved anything back then and it’s lost forever.

This leads us to Dead Fink. The original lineup of Dead Fink was Mick Calhoun (guitar), Dan Schneider (drums) and Brett Metzger (bass). This was early 1982 and Mick and Bret would write the first two Dead Fink songs independently of each other! Later that year, the hunt was on for a lead singer and they found what they thought was a good fit in a young man named Devon Brock, however it was not in the cards. In early 1983 Devon decided he didn’t want to be a lead singer and wanted to play drums instead, so he quit to go play drums for a band in the city that was getting together named Out of Order. He only got half his wish as a fellow named Joel ended up being a better drummer and Devon ended up becoming the lead singer of Out of Order instead of the drummer he aspired to be.

Devon’s departure saw the addition of Ross Vondersmith on vocals and Mick handling most of the song writing duties. Later that year saw the departure of Brett as he found drugs were a far more interesting way to spend his free time outside (and perhaps inside) of school than playing in some punk band. Gabe Shin was reluctantly enlisted as their new bass player. Gabe was a better musician, the reluctance came from the fact that he was just a big screwball and for some reason, irritated Mick to no end from day one. After this musical chairs with the members the band recorded a split demo tape with another local band called Happy Toons, titled “Stick it on Side A” of which there is one copy known to exist and is in the possession of MXV. This demo cemented the two bands together, something that would continue through the rest of their short careers. It also continued their tradition of never saving anything as evidenced by the aforementioned single copy of this demo surviving.

In late 1983/early 1984 Dead Fink and Happy Toons recorded their split 7” that was released on Landmind Records, a label started by the members of the bands that would go on to release 7”s from other local punk bands. Later in 1984, Rob Delcano wanted to join the band as a second guitarist but never played with the band outside of a few rehearsals. The band “breaks up” and then reforms as GOD (the “G” was backwards) with Gabe being replaced by both Robert Byrne and Keith Lyons trading off bass duties whenever either had time. The name change and break up was really just a ruse to get Gabe out of the band because Mick couldn’t stand him anymore. The “Rest In Pieces” split with Dead Fink and Happy Toons is finally released after a nightmare of an experience with a local record pressing plant and also after both bands had technically broken up. There was 500 of them made and in keeping with tradition, no one in the band kept a single copy, let alone ever bothered to take possession of the master tapes or plates.

Late 1984 saw GOD start to record a handful of new songs with Keith Lyons handling the bass duties for these sessions. The vocals were never recorded and the band called it a day before they could be finished. It is rumored that Mick is in possession of the unfinished recordings. After the breakup, members from both Dead Fink and Happy Toons merged in the unholy alliance that became Insane War Tomatoes, which is a story for another day.

Where are they now? Dan plays in Destroy Everything, Mick is a high-priced laywer, Keith lives in China with his family, Robert lives in Chicago and still plays music in various bands. Gabe joined the military with the intention of “tearing it down from inside” and was never heard from again. The other members whereabouts are unknown.

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