In 1980 Louise Disease fronted the band, The Anemic Boyfriends. Their first single ‘Guys Are Not Proud’, made it in to John Peel’s fireproof ‘special box’, and in 1981 they released the teen-rage anthem ‘Fake ID’. She was 17 years old.
Based in Anchorage, Alaska, and raised on a diet of her older siblings record collections, Louise was roped into her sister’s boyfriend’s band. Her sister Maggie was 10 years older than Louise, and so it follows that the boyfriend – guitarist John Firmin – and his band were also a decade or so older.
Wanting to try something more ‘edgy’, they asked Maggie to sing, and failing that, asked her kid sister.
Renamed Louise Disease she brought along a full deck of unabashed, spitting teenage rage, to what was basically a band of trained musicians. Calling themselves The Anemic Boyfriends, they were now fronted by a natural teen whirlwind, who was probably slightly ‘edgier’ than the band had originally planned on.
Interviewed in 2014 by blogsite onlydeathisfatal.com Louise recounts
‘John tried to make me sing ‘angry’. After a while I had no problem with that, I WAS angry and I began to sing the way I felt. Angry, frustrated and going nowhere.’
They recorded the single ‘Guys Are Not Proud’ and travelled to San Francisco to play at the punk festival in the summer of 1980. On returning to Anchorage, and as the single began to pick up radio plays, the band considered their next move.
‘I remember being in the Top 10 playlist of WNEW in New York. We were asked to come and play CBGBs but none of thought we could afford it. This may have been why we decided to go back to San Francisco and make another go of it, then we recorded our second single ‘Fake ID’. It was a strange mixture of working musicians, and then there was me. We played The Mabuhay Gardens and The Stone on San Francisco. We opened for A Flock of Seagulls in 1982.’
Without any industry level cajoling, or Kim Fowley style management, Louise was the pure essence of teenage frustration. But being the youngest member of the set-up and of course being a girl, she wasn’t listened to as much as she deserved. While the Anemic Boyfriends band members might have tried to ‘play punk’ by downplaying their musicianship, Louise seemed to be the genuine article.
‘At our very last gig in San Francisco (1982) I remember being so angry that I never wanted to be onstage again. I think that was the culmination in not getting much say in the direction of the band.’
After John Peel’s death, a record box containing 142 singles was found. The contents included The Undertones, Marc Bolan, Harry Nilssen, The White Stripes, Mary Monday and the Bitches and … The Anemic Boyfriends. While there is no proof that the contents were his all time top 142 records, or even that it was the box he could grab in the event of a fire, but they certainly seemed as if they represented something very special to him.
In 1980 Greil Marcus named ‘Guys Are Not Proud’ as runner up in his single of the year, only pipped at the post by ‘Love Stinks’ by The J Geils Band. They are also mentioned in Marcus’s book ‘In The Fascist Bathroom’.
The tracks ‘Fake ID’ and ‘Bad Girls in Love’ have recently been dusted off and re-released on 7″ by the lovely Hozac Records