With a singer that billed himself as “Nazi Dog” (real name Steven Leckie), The Viletones led the insurgent punk scene in the mid ’70s with furious music, trashed clubs, self inflicted violence, and a change in the way things were done.
Formed in Toronto in 1977 by Leckie, Jackie Death (aka Jack Tasse) on bass, and drummer Mike Anderson (dubbed Motor X, ex of Arson), they added Philadelphia native and former Bubble guitarist Freddy Pompeii (real name Frederick DiPasquale), when he answered a newspaper ad that stated “Ramones/Iggy stylist seeking same in guitarist.” After barely a month of toiling on the local dingy club circuit, they were on the bill with The Curse, Teenage Head, and The Diodes playing at New York’s CBGBs club, arguably the hottest nightspot in North America for live music.
The first generation of Canadian punksters were all about angst, penned up frustrations, and attitude. Soon Death was kicked out, and Chris Haight took over on bass, who in turn was moved to guitars when Leckie brought in Screamin’ Sam Ferrara. Nazi Dog quickly became notorious for deliberately slashing his arms with razor blades on stage, and the attention got them on the covers of punk movement and music magazines throughout North America and the UK, and were also featured in a CBC documentary.
Their stance against establishment also spilled over from the music into the way they were going to record. They set up their own label Vile Records and released the 7″ single, “Screaming Fist,” b/w two tracks – “Possibilities” and “Rebel” in ’77. The project was financed and produced by Tibor Takas of Mega Media Productions, a film company turned into a promotions company. They tore up every Toronto club, including the Colonial Underground, The Horseshoe, and Crash ‘n’ Burn, and then made their way south, peaked by a run in Boston, Philadelphia’s The Hot Club, and back to New York at Max’s Kansas City club. Of the four-night stand, three of the shows ended in violence in the crowds, and the band never finished one of them.
But the band was imploding musically and personally, and the first of many shakeups over the years happened after the tour. After finishing work in the studio, Pompeii, Haight, and Anderson all left, deciding to give their side project a whirl, which ended up being The Secrets. Pompeii explained it was simply a case of wanting to play. “We wanted to rehearse. We wanted to play, Steve had other ideas,” he said.
The five-track 7″ LOOK BACK IN ANGER, performed by the pre-existing lineup and produced by Ugly Ducklings‘ Roger Mayne, was released on Razor Records early in 1978. It was a move that Leckie reportedly didn’t agree with, simply because of the name of the label, as he was trying to cross over to more of a straight pop market, and felt the whole razor blade phase of his legacy was over. Recorded at Masters Workshop, Sounds Interchange & RCA Studios in Toronto, the album featured “Don’t You Lie” and “Dirty Feeling.”
After a hiatus and forming a new lineup, Nazi Dog meanwhile carried on. Trying to clean up his act a bit, and supposedly after seeing the movie “Holocaust,” he was now going by his real name, Steven Leckie. With Ferrara, the new lineup was rounded out by guitarist Steve Koch and drummer Tony Vincent. To celebrate the rebirth, they released SATURDAY NIGHT/SUNDAY MORNING in the fall of 1983. Recorded that June at Toronto’s El Mocambo, seven of the nine tracks were previously unreleased, but were all written during Pompeii’s stay in the band. It was also the first of two releases on Fleurs du Mal Records that year, a label Leckie set up with his girlfriend at the time when he couldn’t find a major deal. Dates in Cleveland, Kansas City, Boston, and Philadelphia followed.
Throughout the next few years, Leckie tried to reinvent himself, first as a pop star, and then as a rockabilly artist. The band continued to tour, with a constantly rotating lineup, but Leckie returned with a vengeance in ’94. Other Peoples Music (the top re-issuer of punk and alternative material in Canada) released the retrospective A TASTE OF HONEY, featuring several studio demos, out-takes, and live recordings. The five-track EP called NAILED followed a year later, and featured a cover of the MC5 classic, “Kick Out The Jams.”
The Viletones’ first 45 was re-released in 1997 as a special issue, but only featured two of the three original tracks, “Screamin’ Fist” and “Rebel.” This was followed barely a year later by WHAT IT FEELS LIKE TO KILL. Technically a Leckie solo album, along with several live and studio demos and outtakes, it also featured the entire NAILED EP, and several other Viletones’ standards, including “Screamin’ Fist,” “Possibilities,” and “Nothing On You.”
But it wasn’t long before Leckie again called it quits, hanging up the microphone with the exception of the odd mini-tour here and there with various people. In the mid ’00s he opened an art gallery in Toronto, and gave it the Fleurs Du Mal name, and was also featured in the 2000 film, “American Psycho.”
Following the replacement of Jack Tasse by Chris Hate, Tasse was later ‘killed’ in a media story during one of Steven Leckie’s continual revisions of the band’s history. Other falsehoods throughout the years have included the supposed release of albums,