Tesco Vee is both a punk historian and piece of punk history. He co-founded the Touch and Go zine (which later became the record label of the same name, signing artists like The Jesus Lizard and TV on the Radio) in 1979, chronicling hard-core bands like Black Flag and Minor Threat. Beginning a year later, he fronted his own group, The Meatmen, widely known as one of the most vile, disgusting and, therefore, influential artists in the genre.
In short, he was one of the biggest names of that era in punk.
But as he approached his fourth decade, he opted for exile.
I thought Im 40, Im a little old to be playing punk rock, Vee said. So I moved back to Michigan and went into hiding. Just dropped out.
He remained out of the limelight for nearly 15 years before a little prodding got him back out there.
My son told me to give it another go. Initially I said no, but it felt right and the right things started happening, Vee said. I remembered how fun it was, and I knew I could still do it. Fortunately, I picked a time when I still had legs and people still cared about it.
As always, hes doing things on his own terms, not worrying about the confines of the genre.
I have the luxury of doing whatever I want to do. I certainly dont worry about having a hook or a chorus, or being socially redeeming, he said. I can do punk, I can do flamenco, I can do mambo, anything I fucking want to do, anything that is ridiculous that pops into my head, and thats the beauty of The Meatmen.
His return has gotten him thinking about his legacy in the music he loves so much. As you can imagine, he doesnt have too many regrets.
Im not ashamed of anything Ive done. Ive said some outrageous things trying to get a rise out of people, Vee said. The PC police need to be smacked down. Thats my purpose on this planet.
Its been about three years since the band reunited, and in its first year or so of getting back to the daily grind of touring and recording. Now in his mid-50s, Vee enjoys the refresher course hes offering on a nightly basis, including Monday at The Conservatory, and has no intentions of stopping anytime soon.
As long as I dont get out there as some unrecognizable, fat blob, Im going to go out there, Vee said. I like to come back and school the younguns on how things used to be. To not sound self-absorbed, I think of myself as one of the last scum-punk legends still walking planet Earth, so its nice to get out there and sort of right the ship in the grand scheme of punk rock.