DRUMMER MATT CHARAPATTA OF FATAL ERROR.
FATAL ERROR were some good friends of mine while I was growing up in SoCal all of those years ago. Me and the Scared Straight guys were from Simi Valley. Fatal Error were from Chatsworth. Both towns were separated by the Santa Susana Pass, six or so miles of mountains looming from the Northwest corner of the San Fernando Valley where Chatsworth lies. Between Chatsworth and Simi Valley is Hwy 118 (now called the Ronald Reagan Freeway..no shit) and Spahn Ranch, ol’ Charlie Manson’s summer vista for getting away from it all. So now that you know exactly where everything is, there won’t be a quiz. The time period of all of this is 1984 through to the end of 1986, I think. A long time ago.
FATAL started pretty much like any other band, competently played skater thrash music done by some of the most Californian people I have ever met. The initial lineup was Trey Clinesmith on guitar, Jon Palmer on vocals, Dave Munn on bass and one of the greatest drummers that no one knows of, Matt Charapatta. Trey had braces still. It seemed like these guys sort of had their own language. They really did use all of those California words, stuff like “dude” and “rad” and “shred” and all of that. They made up a few words of their own too. They were all super cool guys. And yes, they also skated.
Meanwhile, I was also friends with a fellow named Ron Cerros, who was about to join FATAL for a short amount of time. They all knew each other and went to Chatsworth High. I might have met all of those guys through Ron. Ron, like the rest of the FATAL guys, was sort of a expert on hardcore. I was introduced to a lot of Dischord stuff, the Neos, and stuff like Rudimentary Peni through him. He had every record on earth and was a funny super opinionated guy who was a bit on the Crass trip. He even joined the band America’s Hardcore on bass right before that band fell apart. So I thought he sort of a big shot.
The band had their only vinyl appearance on a Mystic Records compilation with Ron on board and that was it for Ron. I wonder what he is up to these days?
Enter Matt Nestor and Bob Davis.
BOB, MATT NESTOR AND JON
Bob Davis was the resident longhaired dude who filled in the Dez Cadena spot in FATAL, if you know what I mean. He played a White Les Paul and looked pretty cool up there onstage. He replaced Ron initially. Matt Nestor came in a bit later. Matt was another buddy of the FATAL guys, a super cool guy with perhaps a..bit more intensity to him then the rest of them. I think that him and Matt C had already been playing together in a little sideband and eventually he joined FATAL ERROR and brought in all of this new material to the band. Well, Matt Nestor sort of took FATAL to godlike status without anyone knowing about it. One day both Matts came to my house and gave me the new recordings they had done, in a real studio somewhere near San Diego. Jon was still the singer. So I think it was the first of a few three guitar lineups of the band. What was it like?
Well, I was blown the fuck away. It was like everything I loved about this music in one godly package. Matt’s songs were clearly a step forward, a potent combination of breakneck thrash with a bit of the mania of maybe Void somehow meeting lots of Black Flag Greg Ginn creepy crawl guitar work and suspended pauses. There was a little bit of metal damage in some of the material but not obnoxiously so. It was still rooted firmly in hardcore. Snotty vocals, amazing fucking drumming, some dramatic time changes and some downright eyebrow raising lyrics and songtitles completed the package.
That was the other real deal maker is the single-minded bleakness of the lyrics. How many times can you say that War is horrible? Well, if you are tired of that, there is still plenty of songs about plagues killing everybody (“Walk Of The Plague”), pyromania as a means of killing everybody (“Playing In The Ashes”), night terror (“Scary Z’s”), cremation (“Cremation”) , a army buddy of the band going AWOL and hanging himself (“Horizontal Friend”) and plenty of other cheery songs. One of the best songs was the band putting new music behind Bob Dylan’s “Masters Of War” and letting it rip. The funny thing is if fits in perfectly with the rest of the material they had. Later on there would appear to be some light to fight off the darkness but it came in the form of songs like “I Remember Drugs” and “Cockroaches Shall”.
It was so weird to look back and think that nothing seemed to happen for them. Bands like Cryptic Slaughter had records out. Mystic Records put out records by a million bands that FATAL had played parties with. The band even had what no one else had: A great sounding recording. And yet nothing. Maybe it was the bands fault, maybe not but when I listen to this stuff I am still convinced of its greatness and would think that if more people could hear it, they would dig it. It sounds like it could be a new band. These recordings are as good or maybe even better than most of whatever I have heard these days. They are sort of the missing link, the great unknown band. Or at least one of ‘em.
Later on the band lost Jon as singer and Matt sort of stepped in. Another demo came. Then the band lost Dave on bass and then Matt took over bass and Simi Valley’s Mike Harder came into the band near the end as another guitarist. I had already moved out to the East Coast when all of this was going on. I don’t know why or when they called it a day but they did. And all they left were these two really awesome sounding demos from that weird San Diego studio and a small handful of demented sounding home recordings. Hopefully this will be the start of what could be the material getting out there somehow. They deserve it, and I think some people would really like it.
from MANCHILD 2, based on a story Trey told me in a letter he wrote after I moved away!