Once upon a time, I was in a band called Spiny Norman’s Mind Games (or just Mind Games for short). We were an 80’s punk band I suppose, but did a lot of more melodic things as well. The core band was me, my brother James and Scott Anderson on bass. Mike Banigan was our drummer for a time, although we did play with a drum machine towards the end. Dave Okura also assisted on keyboards for a brief stint. We played many gigs in the Los Angeles area, including places like Madame Wongs West, as well as Madame Wongs East. We shared the stage with bands like The Knack, The Police, The Motels, The Go-Go’s, Oingo Boingo, and The Ramones…although they played on the weekends and we got the Tuesday night slot at 11pm ;-P In all honestly, we were not very popular and never got much traction.
We actually made one 45rpm record. The A side was Sorry About That Chief, which I penned, and the B side was the synth version of Don’t Take the Car, which was written by my brother James. What’s amazing is that it has become quite a collector’s item. Check out this review of the single. According to this other site, in August 2014, our single was the 5th most expensive record sold on Discogs fetching a mind-boggling $1,100!
Incredibly, someone actually put Sorry About That Chief on a compilation disc called Staring Down the Barrel (without our permission; not that I mind. C’mon! Someone thought enough of our stuff to RE-RELEASE it on a friggin record!) I actually ordered two copies, one for me and the other for my brother. We are listed first in the list of artists and Sorry About That Chief has the enviable pole position spot: Track One, Side One.The Staring Down the Barrel LP was being sold for $11.50 at Underground Medicine but that appears to be gone now.
I always get a kick out of what people say about our stuff and here are some some great quotes culled from the Killed By Death Records page:
“Not only is it rare as hell. It happens to be just fantastic too. A straight forward punk ripper on the a-side and great synth punk weirdness on the flip. As if that wasn’t enough the brothers looks amazing and they used some cool gear to record it too. Thanks Spiny!”
“…It’s surprisingly good for being American.”
“…Best thing is the cover! weird contrast with the great front sleeve & then the ‘professional’ back sleeve listing all the instruments etc – I was expecting the standard messy scrawl type look.”
“What a fantastic guitar sound on “Sorry…” I love it.”
“Who were these guys? And is it Mind Games or Spiny Norman’s Mind Games? I love these one-and-done bands, especially when the music is so strong. The Get Smart-referencing A-side, the underwater synthesizer B-side, just top notch jittery Devo-esque outsider punk here. You can hear the enthusiasm. And that cover.
Why waste your one release on a tv show reference? Why not though I guess? Reissue please, someone.”
“The A side of this obscurity is Simpletones inspired SoCal beach punk with octave undertones that gets a good rating.”
From a YouTube upload:
“…The guitar player is a genius”
Some excerpts from a review of Staring Down the Barrel from nostages.com:
“The biggest surprise on the comp is Mind Games, who haven’t been spotted on any want lists (until tomorrow). Their classically SoCal punk homage to “Get Smart” leads me to believe that those guys currently spend many hours watching Nick at Nite.”
“All in all, “Staring Down the Barrel” is a great comp that should shut up anyone who thinks that all the great punk records have already been discovered.”
From Collectors Frenzy:
“A Punk Rock collector’s dream: “Sorry About that Chief” b/w “Don’t Take the Car (You’ll Kill Yourself) by Mind Games. Very Rare and perhaps most importantly two pretty good songs.”
From GetBent.fm (dead link):
“One of the most over-the-top punk ragers, culled from the Staring Down the Barrel compilation and originally issued in an edition of only 100 copies, Mind Games are a spastic punk mess that pays homage to Get Smart in the sloppiest, most perfect, barf-pile of a song.”
We also made Austin radio station KOOP FM 91.7’s September 2005 playlist along with David Bowie, Adam and the Ants, and more. That is just plain crazy!!!
All this is funny, cuz I never thought that “Sorry” was really that strong of a song or that I was that great of a guitarist. “Don’t take the car” is stronger IMHO.
Hey, if you want to download an MP3 of Sorry About that Chief, Amoeba Music has it for 78 cents. The WAV file will set you back $1.58! (or just download below for free! ;-)
- The used record I was sorry to see go (scroll down just a little)
- Song Of The Day 9/5/2014: Spiny Norman’s Mind Games – “Sorry About That, Chief”
So What I’m Doing Now?
Scroll to the top and click the What I’m Doing Now tab!
What I’m Doing Now
I really don’t do much musically these days. I still play guitar once in a while, but bought myself a set of Roland V-Drums and love playing them. I also recently bought a custom made Carvin guitar. It’s the best guitar I’ve ever owned though it mostly sits hanging on the wall unfortunately.
I’ve been experimenting with home recording using Sonar and even managed to finish a couple songs (see below). They were more experiments than anything, but I had fun writing and recording the songs. It’s amazing what you can do at home these days. All of the Mind Games stuff was either done on a 4-track or cassette!