Poison Idea was formed in 1980 in Portland, OR by vocalist Jerry A. (aka Jerry Lang). The initial lineup consisted of Jerry A., Tom “Pig Champion” Roberts (guitar), Glen Estes (bass), and Dean Johnson (drums). Inspired by Black Flag and other early Southern California hardcore acts, they were further influenced by Discharge and Los Angeles's the Germs. Germs singer Darby Crash was a strong influence on singer Jerry A.—vocally, lyrically, and philosophically—was monumental, and Poison Idea followed the Germs’ extremist punk ethic.
PI’s classic debut, 1983's Pick Your King EP was a short, lo-fi blast of hardcore fury. The jacket featured two self-proclaimed kings, Jesus (front cover) and Elvis Presley (back cover).
In 1984, the band replaced Glen Estes with Chris Tense and released another classic album, the Record Collectors Are Pretentious Assholes 12” (the cover features Pig Champion’s substantial vinyl collection). The record found the band incorporating subtle rock elements into their music, which was further honed on their contributions to two 1985 compilations, “Laughing Boy” on the Drinking is Great EP, and “Typical” and “Die on Your Knees” on the legendary Cleanse the Bacteria LP (compiled by Pushead for his own Pusmort label), while still keeping the thrashy hardcore foundation of their debut.
With the release of 1986’s Kings of Punk LP, Poison Idea had fully moved beyond the breakneck hardcore of their early records to a potent, driving and ultimately more intricate and sophisticated hardcore/hard rock fusion that incorporated the foot-tapping accessibility and masculine swagger of hard rock without sacrificing the power, speed, and viciousness of the hardcore of the day.
Following the release of Kings of Punk, the band went through several rapid lineup changes (mostly in the rhythm section), added a second guitarist in Vegetable Olsen, and released War All the Time (named for the Charles Bukowski novel) in 1987. With a second guitarist their rock and metal influences became even more pronounced than on kings of punk, with noticably longer song lengths, a greater variety tempos, more detailed guitar solos, and even the inclusion of a Hawkwind/Motorhead cover.
At this point Poison Idea had been involved with a number of record labels and distributors, and particularly with their last 2 full-lengths, had found themselves dissatisfied with the availability of their records to consumers, and the royalty payments they recieved for the sale of these records. Thus, American Leather (named after a Germs song), was founded by the band members, and a series of EPs and Singles were issued through 1988 and 1989, including the Filth Kick EP, the Getting The Fear b/w 4AM 12" single, and the Discontent b/w Jailhouse Stomp single. Each continued to refine the rock/punk/metal hybrid first established on Kings Of Punk. In addition a pre-Pick Your King demo was issued on vinyl as Darby Crash Rides Again, proving the band still had reverence for their earliest days.
Around this time, after numerous lineup changes, PI had convened one of their more stable lineups in Jerry A., Pig Champion, Charley "Myrtle Tickner" Nims (bass) and Steve "Thee Slayer Hippie" Hanford (drums), with second guitar duties oscillating between Mondo and Aldine Strichnine. By this time, their legendary drinking habits and hard living were beginning to catch up with them: the band weighed in at over 1,000 lbs. collectively, and Pig Champion in particular was spectacularly fat, often having to play sitting down.
In 1990, the band released Feel the Darkness. Considered by many an indisputable masterpiece, and frequently cited as the best fusion of hard rock and hardcore punk ever made, it stands as the best known, and most popular release in the Poison Idea cannon. The musical performances are both technically proficient and fierce the lyrics dark and expressive. Most Hardcore and Punk enthusiests agree that it is required listening for anyone interested in either genre.
Following Feel The Darkness Poision Idea continued to release albums and singles that for the most part followed its blue print in sound and style, and while none was ever the same kind of artistic breakthough, they're all generally considered to be of high quality. Through the 90's and into the 21st century, frequent member reshuffling, attempts at other musical projects, drug problems, and financial issues kept the band from keeping a consistent work schedule, often remaining silent for a couple of years, before returing to issue a new release or embark on a tour.
On January 30, 2006 guitarist Pig Champion died at his home in Portland, of kidney failure. PI had recorded a new record and it was ready for release when he died. Pig wanted the record to be called Latest Will and Testament, a name that the rest of the band liked. After Tom’s death Jerry commented that Pig probably knew something that the rest of them didn't. The album was released in May 2006 on Farewell Records.
Despite the death of their long time guitarist, and the man many considered the band's heart and soul, Poison Idea continues to play shows and plans to issue more material. Though it won't be the first time they've issued records and toured without the involvement of Pig, many have expressed feelings that it is in poor taste. The band continues to regularly tour both Europe and the United States.
* 1982 Darby Crash Rides Again demo tape (self released)
* 1983 Pick Your King 7” EP (Fatal Erection)
* 1984 Record Collectors Are Pretentious Assholes 12” EP (Fatal Erection)
* 1986 Kings of Punk LP (Pusmort)
* 1987 War All the Time LP (Alchemy)
* 1988 Filthkick EP (Shitfool)
* 1988 Getting the Fear 12” EP (Rockport)
* 1989 Darby Crash Rides Again EP (American Leather) Reissue of demo tape
* 1989 Fuck Ian MacKaye 12” (American Leather, 1989) Reissue: contains Filthkick and Getting the Fear
* 1989 Picture disc 7” (American Leather)
* 1990 Discontent 7” (American Leather)
* 1990 Feel the Darkness LP (American Leather)
* 1991 Punish Me 7” (American Leather)
* 1991 Dutch Courage live LP (Bitzcore)
* 1991 Live in Vienna 7” (American Leather)
* 1991 Official Bootleg 2x7” (American Leather)
* 1992 Pajama Party LP (Tim Kerr) All-cover album
* 1992 Blank Blackout Vacant LP (Taang!)
* 1993 We Must Burn LP (Tim Kerr, 1993)
* 1994 Religion and Politics Part I & II 10” (Tim Kerr, 1994) Taken from same sessions as We Must Burn
* 1994 The Early Years CD (Bitzcore)
* 1998 Learning to Scream 7” EP (Taang!)
* 2000 The Best of Poison Idea CD (Taang!) Reissue: contains Pick Your King, Record Collectors, and Kings of Punk
* 2006 Last Will and Testament (Farewell, among others)
* 1983 Grievous Musical Harm tape (Xcentric Noise) “M.I.A.,” “All Right,” “Young Lord”
* 1985 Drinking Is Great EP (Fatal Erection) “Laughing Boy”
* 1985 Cleanse the Bacteria LP (Pusmort) “Typical,” “Die On Your Knees” (plus “I Gotta Right” on bonus 12” only)
* 1991 Punk’s Not Dread LP (Sink Below) “New Rose”