In a news cycle that brings bad news on the hour, here's another little kicker for you: Rich Evans – of Total Punk Records, gloriously trashy local punks Golden Pelicans, and upstart bizarro wrestling fed Mayhem on Mills – is leaving town. This week.
In a sign of how bizarre this particular timeline is, the Golden Pelicans gave their farewell (for now) performance in an empty Will's Pub on Facebook Live last Friday night. The band made the best of it, rampaging through a set of no-frills, sleazy rock with energy to spare. And even the streaming glitches were appropriate. They came on late – punk time until the end – and though there were cameras set up to capture the action, some of it ended up streaming from Will Walker's own smartphone. DIY 'til death!
Whether with Golden Pelicans, his three record labels, the Total Punk Total Fuck Off Fest, tireless show booking, Vinyl Richie's Wiggly World of Records or the surreal Mayhem supercards, Evans worked untiringly to make Orlando an infinitely weirder and louder place. His presence will be missed. Orlando Weekly caught up with him by phone to debrief him on his coming departure:
This has to be a weird note to go out on.
I was thinking all of this through and it was supposed to be that the Golden Pelicans got to do our last tour in Australia. I'd come home, have a two-year anniversary show for Mayhem. And then after that, I was going to have this band from Canada come down to play my last Turnbuckle Tuesday, and then have a big show on May 16 as a send-off with Gino and the Goons, the Curlies and some other Florida bands I really like. And then ... this happened.
You were interviewed in Barron's (a sister publication of the Wall Street Journal) about coronavirus impacting live music. Is it true wrestling made you realize your Australian tour was over?
It's true. The day we landed in Australia was the day Tom Hanks announced that he had coronavirus in Australia. From the moment we landed things were doomed. The first show in Melbourne was amazing, the show in Sydney was really good. We were supposed to play a festival at the end, and that was up in the air ... so we were in Sydney and we had a day off, and we went to a bar to blow off some steam. And we were sitting at the bar and somebody turned on WWE Smackdown, and there was no audience, and I was like, "If Vince McMahon is passing on an opportunity to make some bucks, this shit is serious." And that was basically it for the tour. I never thought I'd end up in the Wall Street Journal.
And you're leaving Orlando this week.
Yeah, I'm going to Portland. I'm 43 years old, I've lived my entire life in Florida. This has nothing to do with disliking Florida. It's just, you only live once. The Golden Pelicans were playing a festival down in Puerto Rico last year and I met this girl there, Neisha, and we hit it off and then met up again in Memphis at Goner Fest. And she and I had been traveling back and forth between Portland and Orlando to see each other. And I was thinking, "You know, I've always wanted to live somewhere else," so this seems like the perfect opportunity. All of "this" kind of complicated things, but the upside is gas will be real cheap and roads will be empty. Just me and Groucho on the road, Mad Max style.
Your departure is going to mark a big change in the Orlando underground.
It's hard to leave. And these circumstances don't really make it any better, and not just because I don't get to say goodbye to everybody. But it's like, what is life gonna be like here after this? That and not being here to be a part of it. It's tough. Orlando has been my home for most of my adult life. And I've been extremely involved in Orlando for the entire time I've lived here. Stepping away at any time would be hard, but stepping away at a time like this when everything's just kind of on pause, is hard because who knows when things are going to come back and what the landscape is going to look like? And businesses like Will’s and Uncle Lou’s, which are an integral part of this scene, how are they gonna make it through this? When are they going to reopen, are they gonna reopen at all?
Years ago when I first started doing this, there was nobody else doing anything remotely, similar to what I was doing, now that's not the case. There are a lot of kids doing different interesting things. I feel like, for the first time in a long time, that I'm not completely in the loop, which is a good thing. I'm getting older, there needs to be younger people doing some of this shit. And now there are and they’re going to bounce back pretty well. Other people will pick up the torch.
Mayhem on Mills is going to continue like Dan (Drennan) and Teddy (Stigma). Dan's amazing at booking, he's like really good at writing wrestling and Teddy is good at talking, and making these promo videos that are amazing. I'm more of the nuts-and-bolts guy. But as far as the creative process goes, a lot of that falls on those two. So, I think it'll continue, they're just gonna have me around to get them to focus. But maybe that'll be a good thing, they might get really weird as a result of that.
This story appears in the May 13, 2020, print edition of Orlando Weekly. Our small but mighty team is working tirelessly to bring you news on how coronavirus is affecting Central Florida. Please consider supporting this free publication with a one-time or monthly donation. Every little bit helps.