IT NEVER ENDS #11
LUBRICANTS ~ Activated Energy 7in. (Relative 1980)
The slide into completist collecting had been slippery enough without the Lubricants
getting involved. In 1980, the band brewed up their "Activated Energy" b/w "Transformation
Vacation" 45, making a fine punk & roll addition to Milwaukee's surprisingly
impressive early roster (Haskels, Ones, Bombs, Prosecutors, Muscle Beach). With
so many punk classics calling the Midwest home, it's hard to class the Lubricants
as a regional heavyweight (for starters, imagine having to size up next to the Pagans)
but when it comes to rare picture sleeves, only the area's notoriously rare sleeves
like Max Load (St. Louis) and DV8 (Chicago) can even contend. "Activated Energy"
made an appearance on Killed By Death volume #12.
The standard issue of the Lubricants 45 is fairly elusive...
This foldover sleeve is offset litho on heavy white stock
Standard issue labels have "Lubricants" stickers overlayed on both sides
The above was the final issue of the record and the one most widely distributed
and familiar to collectors. While the record is a single vinyl pressing, there were
two versions which preceded the above, one with a very rare picture
sleeve and stamped labels — and one with a virtually non-existent, nay mythical
sleeve and unaltered labels.
Warning! Long, winding road ahead...
The second issue of the record (the "in between") issue has only surfaced a handful
of times, mostly noticed by the obsessive collector goofs I call my friends. The sleeve's
forgettable appearance (black ink on red stock) and the unstickered labels begin
to tell the story of the band's name change from the Lubricants to Modern Physics
and back again to the Lubricants.
This foldover sleeve is offset litho on red text stock
The rare "in between" issue has "Lubricants" rubber-stamped on the label
Back in 1980, management suggested (or insisted, depending on who you ask)
that the name "Lubricants" wasn't quite slick enough for proper promotion. Using
the time-tested scientific method of looking around the room, a textbook spine
suggested a new name: Modern Physics. While not nearly as inspired or nerdy as
the matter was settled (but, of course, neither created nor destroyed). The newly
christened band headed into their manager's home-based Chicago recording studio.
Jump ahead 25 years to find me rolling on a 2005 summer road trip, content that the
red sleeve I'd nabbed a few months prior was the fabled "Modern Physics" sleeve.
Upon arrival in the greater Chicago area, my pal Brian put it to me straight: that's
not it. "Sure it is," I argued. "The sleeve says Lubricants perform Modern
Physics". Brian shook his head... "I'm telling you I've seen it, and that's not it."
Thanks to his committed digital archiving habits, he dredged up an old e-mail with
a photo attached. In the small, low-res picture, one can make out a guy's midriff (nice
sweater, man) and a pair of hands holding a sleeve that is most certainly not the red one.
Here was the fabled Modern Physics 45 with the first issue picture sleeve. The copy belonged
to Abe King, co-owner of Discourage Rock & Roll Records in Portland. I had to see to believe.
Abe's place was only two thousand miles away. I topped up the tank and headed west.
By the time I arrived in Oregon, I was strapped for time. The venerable Mr. King
invited me over for a quick tour of his collection. Among many highlights, the
Modern Physics sleeve stole the show... a mind bender, far cooler than I had
imagined. The front sleeve featured four "photo booth" style face shots reminiscent
of the Endtables pic sleeve, a style I very much dig. Many super-rare punk rock
sleeves were quickie photocopies or sloppy DIY silkscreen affairs — not so with Modern
Physics, a professionally manufactured pocket sleeve. The source for
Abe's copy was rhythm guitarist and Milwaukee gentleman Emmett Hanson. Unfortunately,
Emmet hadn't taken care of the record or, more accurately, it appeared he'd used
this copy as a cutting board and a coaster for hot drinks. The picture sleeve had
slashes across the back, and the record was unplayably warped. Seeing the Modern
Physics sleeve in person flipped a switch in me. I had to add
this one to the stacks. Considering the band had been contacted repeatedly over
the years, I knew the odds weren't good. With that thought fresh on the brain,
I headed south toward home and made a stop where odds are everything and yet
totally meaningless if you're dealt the right cards. I could only hope my luck on the Modern
Physics front would hold up as well as it did at the game tables, but I knew it
wasn't going to be that easy. The drive through the blazing, gasket busting convection
oven of Arizona and west Texas told me so.
OUT OF THE FRYING PAN AND INTO THE FIRE...
The Lubricants' singer Leroy Buth had put together a website in the wake of, you guessed it,
a Rave-Up release that includes the 45 tracks and some
modern recordings of old Lubricants songs. I gave Leroy a call, and he provided some
background on the Modern Physics sleeve. Even before the sleeves arrived, he'd resolved
that the whole name change idea was ridiculous. "We were the Lubricants, not the
Modern Physics." In the meantime, there was some arguments developing among band
members and management over any number of issues including the name change. Leroy
threw the entire shipment of Modern Physics picture sleeves on the drummer's
front porch following an argument. Soon thereafter, the red sleeves were printed
bearing the Lubricants name and the labels were rubber-stamped. The "Lubricants
perform Modern Physics" was a means of explaining the "Modern Physics" mention on the
label. Eventually Leroy put together the better looking standard issue sleeve
and credited the current line-up of the band on the back. Overlaying the center
labels with stickers meant not having to explain "Modern Physics". Leroy saw no need
to hang onto the first issue sleeve... he hated it.
Patti Buth, Leroy's wife, played bass in the band. They'd split up long ago, and Leroy
had no idea where to reach her. I dug around a bit but found nary a trace. I
decided to move on to other members. I spoke to Emmett Hanson, the rhythm guitarist.
He confirmed he'd shipped his only copy off to Abe King years ago. Seeing a photo
credit to "Mr. Petruna" on the back sleeve, I called the only Petruna in Milwaukee
and, sure enough, reached the extremely affable octogenarian "Mr. Petruna" whose
son, it turned out, was the "Geoff" credited with playing drums on the final sleeve. After a couple wrong numbers (Mr. Petruna's eyesight was
fading so he provided several best guesses, one of which was certain to work he
assured me), I reached Geoff Petruna. He regailed me with over-the-top tales of
Lubricants gigs and broke me the news: nope, no Modern Physics sleeve.
I got back in touch with Leroy asking for any more lead possibilities. He came up
with two: the original drummer's dad did custom tile work in town. His pop could
put me in touch with Tim Locono, the original drummer... Leroy was no longer in touch
with him. A couple phone calls later, I reached the Locono family business, and
mom put me in touch. A few minutes into the call, Tim revealed that he owned
the standard issue Lubricants and — cough, cough — the Modern Physics
version, too. He'd hung onto one of 'em... the rest went into the dumpster. Tim
said he really didn't care about keeping every version, but still he'd need to
think about it. And so began my multi-month stress fest.
In the meantime, Leroy had given me another lead: the band's former manager, the
guy who ran ATA Studios and managed the Lubricants briefly. Leroy wasn't quite sure
how he spelled his name, but it was something like Fred Oridauer. Oh and by the
way, Leroy told me, Fred's brother did a stint as the drummer for 60's legends, Shadows
of Knight ("G-l-o-r-i-a"). After having no luck trying several spelling variations,
I decided my best bet would be getting in touch with the original SOK drummer. While
the guy's name didn't even resemble "Oridauer", I found a number for Tom Schiffour
who happened to live outside of Austin. Upon reaching him, his reply was simple:
I have no idea what you're talking about. The goose chase continued. Where the fuck
was Fred Oridauer? I even contacted the Cook County (Chicago area) department of
business records looking for any trace of ATA Studios. The search was short and sweet: nothing.
I decided to revisit the search for Patti Buth, and I continued to run in place. I grew weary.
When the chips had been down in the past, I'd sought help from
El Azteca, a gumshoe acquaintance who helped me locate
Sure enough, El Azteca found Patti within a few hours... she had a new name. I was sure
this was the ticket to securing the Modern Physics sleeve. The ride from elation
to dejection was a quick one. Patti was loathe to talk about the Lubricants. The
Modern Physics sleeve? Forget it... she hadn't kept anything.
SOME NEEDED HELP FROM AN UNEXPECTED QUARTER...
While I'd talked to Tim a couple times early on, the next several months would be
all radio silence despite occasional e-mails and the decision to up my offer. With
Halloween on the horizon and no glimmer of hope, I decided to call Emmett Hanson
again in an attempt to shake out further search possibilities. Emmett, too, was a collector
and was empathetic to my grail quest. I told him I didn't want to bug Tim any
further but when Emmett heard the offer I'd made, he was incredulous that Tim hadn't
jumped at the dough considering Tim's apathy for the band. "I had lunch with
him yesterday. Let me see what I can do." This was a first... a band member joining
the fight! Sure enough, Emmett called the next day: "I've got the Modern Physics
record in my hand, but you need to strike while the iron is hot — before Tim changes
his mind." Say no more! I sprinted to the post office and overnighted cash and
A week later, my head could finally stop spinning. I held the Lochness monster in
One-color offset litho on coated stock, professionally cut and glued into a pocket sleeve
The second known — and only playable — copy with unaltered labels
Unlike many shared efforts in the past, this pursuit had been a solitary mission,
a lone binge. I shared the news with the usual collecting suspects. Brian, my friend
in Chicago, expressed his usual jubilation for my good fortune: "yeah great, where's
mine?" After regurgitating the saga, Brian conceded he couldn't have stomached the
ride. I mentioned the unresolved manager issue, how I'd tried several spellings
to no avail. Brian asked me to spell out the possibilities phonetically and —
in that aggravating way someone not immersed in a problem can immediately spot a
solution — he dug up Fred Oridauer in a matter of minutes. I fired
off an e-mail to the manager's company and got a phone call several days later. Like
the Shadows of Knight drummer, Fred Oridauer had no recollection of a band called
the Lubricants or Modern Physics. Yes, he'd promoted shows in the Chicago area,
but he'd never managed bands. I thanked him, hung up, and gritted my teeth. What the fuck?!! The
rollercoast ride highs and lows carried on. I called the Lubricants singer, source
for all things Fred... he couldn't figure it. "That's definitely the guy."
Having tapped every source I could conjure, I conceded defeat on the possibility
of further leads. I truly wanted to find a copy for Brian... the record
was from his neck of the woods. That was two months ago. Since then, I'd begun writing up this
saga in fits and starts. Just last week (mid-December 2005), my friend Tony Aguirre added
a new twist to the torturous, tortuous journey. Tony had picked up a couple Chicago
music mags in, of all places, an Arizona bookshop. The mags dated from '80 - '81
and included a display ad for ATA Studios. The ad mentioned all the bands who'd
recorded including the Lubricants and the owner's name: Fred Teekan... most certainly
not the "Fred" with whom I'd spoken. Twenty five years after the fact, Leroy
Buth had confused a local promoter's name with the manager's name — after all,
the Modern Physics', er Lubricants', association with ATA had been very brief. I
reached Fred Teekan on the first phone call. "Yes, that's me. I ran the ATA studio,
and my wife was ATA management." Surely, the team responsible for suggesting the infamous name
change would've retained a copy or two of the Modern Physics issue. If you've read this
far, you already know the answer I got a few days later: of course not. The former ATA crew had
located a couple Lubricants 45's but no Modern Physics issues. An unlikely lead to a likely source...
and nothing to show. What are the odds?
— Ryan Richardson
December 20, 2005