Poison Idea: Legacy Of Dysfunction


In truth, there are countless bands who could rightly lay claim to the title Kings Of Punk, but few could have held onto it for as long as Poison Idea and fewer still could have worn that battered crown quite so well. But heavy, as the saying goes, is the head that wears the crown. Indeed, heavy is the band that wears the crown. In more ways than one. Poison Idea were never a band to do anything by half measures and holding onto that title came at an equally heavy price.

As you’d expect then, this long-awaited documentary is a wild ride that takes in the entire history of this most dysfunctional of bands, from before their formation in Portland, Oregon in 1980 to their final show in January 2017. And, as such, there’s some great footage here, up to and including that last gig, although frustratingly little from London shows at the Marquee, ULU, and Astoria, which were obviously captured on film. There are also some fascinating interviews with pretty much everyone who ever played for the band – a long list in itself – along with the likes of the Melvins, Fat Mike from NOFX, and many others. In short, it’s a must-have for any self-respecting fan.

Having said that, like pretty much all band documentaries, there are glaring omissions; nothing about drummer Thee Slayer Hippy getting sent to jail for robbery, precious little about all the bands who’ve covered and been influenced by PI (with the exception of Pantera), and entire albums skipped over. Unlike most other band documentaries, however, Legacy Of Dysfunction is never boring, and it’s well worth watching the commentary version, where you’ll find out – among other things – that Motörhead guitarist Wurzel almost joined the band! Maybe I’m just being greedy, but it felt like there wasn’t enough! Gimme more, more, more!

Which, in itself, was Poison Idea’s mantra: more drugs, more booze, more fire, more craziness… Each day lived like there was no tomorrow, until, eventually, there wasn’t. A brilliant band, and truly the Kings Of Punk.

Having written for Kerrang! magazine since 1989, I started shooting for them, pretty much by accident, in the early 90’s when all their photographers refused to go on tour with my favourite punk band Poison Idea. With pretensions of being as good as Mark Leialoha and taller than Ross Halfin, I shot everyone from Ozzy Osbourne, Slayer and Slipknot to The Prodigy and was published all around the world (full-ish list in the ‘published in’ section) before stumbling into fetish and pin up photography in 2006 when I married Masuimi Max. I quit Kerrang! in 2008 and now shoot the rock stuff for Metal Hammer and Terrorizer.