A "Bloody" good time

DeWayne Bartels
Bloody, right, a North Peoria punk rocker, hits the 25 year milestone this year in the music business. Pictured with him is his girlfriend and co-band member Bridget Nine.

For most people, being spit on, and spat at, by hundreds of people would not be a pleasant memory.

But, when you go by the name “Bloody,” you are a punk rocker, and your goal in life is to be a cult figure, that is just the kind of thing that pops up as a great memory.

Bloody, 42, does not want his real name used because he said it spoils the persona he has worked so hard to craft. He lives in North Peoria and works a day job here.

This summer, he is hitting his 25th anniversary as an entertainer.

Bloody has found fame, although fortune has eluded him. But it was never about the money, anyway, he said.

“All I wanted to do was achieve cult status. I made it. We can go anywhere and they know me,” Bloody said.

Spitting image

A performance by Bloody is not something one forgets easily.

The growl of Bloody’s raspy voice and the thundering volume of the music from the band backing him has always been just the backdrop. The real reason people went to a show with

Bloody and one of the several bands backing him over the years was that you never knew what was going to happen.

There was always a better than even chance that some sort of mayhem would erupt at one of his shows.

A concert at Owens Ice Skating Center in a year Bloody cannot recall serves as an example.

The band was then called “Bloody Mess and Hate.”

“Our goal was to be banned from everywhere we played,” Bloody said, smiling. “We were very goal-oriented. We achieved our goal.”

Bloody said at Owens Center, the band did everything possible to insult the audience and call them every foul word they could think of.

The crowd responded with spit.

Bloody smiled as he recalled the police clearing the rink.

“I just really wanted to be as aggressive as possible. I couldn’t afford therapy. I got my aggression out on the audience. I was an alcohol-influenced madman,” he said.

“But, under it all, we just wanted to be cool, to have cult status. We wanted to get there making our own rules.”

Long, strange trip

Bloody says, to borrow a phrase from the Grateful Dead, “What a long, strange trip it’s been.”

But, Bloody said he would not have it any other way.

“It continues to be a long, strange trip,” he said.

“People I grew up with are selling cars and insurance. I’m not. For me, the good old days are still going on.”

Bloody got into the music business at the age of 17 with a punk band called “Chipps Patroll.”

Then came “Unaccepted.”

The first band to carry his stage name — “Bloody Mess and Hate” — was next.

Then there was “Bloody Mess and the Skabs.”

It was with the Skabs that Bloody really began the journey toward cult figure.

With the Skabs, he would sometimes walk on the American flag and tear it up during a show or set it ablaze. At one show in Iowa, he was attacked by skinheads while burning the flag, so the legend goes.

The music and the persona got the band signed to a recording contract nationally with Black and Blue Records in 1988.

Their second album, “Bloody Mess & The Skabs,” released in 1989, featured front cover art by the notorious serial killer John Wayne Gacy. 

The music was getting better, he said. The persona continued to grow.

But, egos were growing, too.

“Being in a band is like being married to four people at once,” Bloody said.

“I can give you a list of about 75 people I wouldn’t want you to talk to.”

The Skabs fell apart.

Bloody was resurrected with a band called the “Vaynes.”

They had, he said, one of the tightest sounds ever backing him. The result was a hit on the local and national scene called “My Black Little Heart.”

It was not a pop ballad, yet it received play on the radio.

Bloody and the Vaynes were getting attention and they were on the move.

But, drugs, sex and rock n’ roll extract a heavy price.

The Vaynes fell apart, too.

Disgusted with rock, Bloody turned to country music.

He continued to draw people to his shows.

They wanted to see what this country thing was all about. It was a curiosity.

But, punk has not released its grasp on Bloody.

“Punk rock,” he said, “accepted me.”

Steady work

Building a legend is steady work.

Bloody is currently in the studio in Peoria creating music.

He has 26 to 28 releases to his credit. He cannot keep track. His record label is this year releasing a CD of all his singles — some of which cannot be named here — as well as unreleased music, dating back to 1985 and new tracks.

With country behind him now, Bloody is back to his punk roots with a band called the Bloody Mess/Bridget Nine Project. Nine is his girlfriend and daughter of another local rock legend, Mike Isenberg of “The Jets.”

Bloody said he is excited to be back in the studio.

“But, I most enjoy performing on a stage. It’s when I’m at my peak,” he said.

“I do it less now what with having a day job. Even I have to have some responsibility to keep a roof over our heads.” 

Yet, the lure of the stage is strong.

“I’m a showman. I don’t know what makes me a performer. It’s a weird mix of ego and exhibitionism. I enjoy the performance.”

So, is the persona who he really is?

“Bloody is a performer. I’m him 90 percent of the time. I crossed over a long time ago,” he said.

“Bloody is tattooed on my back. It’s not just a show. It’s me.”

Under pressure

Bloody said his career has included many high and low points.

He said a big high point in his career was opening for “The Sex Pistols” on their reunion tour in Milwaukee in, he thinks, 1996.

A big low point was not being able to play CBGB's in New York City in 1991. That gig fall apart, he said, because the band split up.

As this anniversary approached, Bloody said he felt time pressuring him.

“I’m not satisfied with what I’ve accomplished, but I do feel wiser,” he said.

“Now I know time is ticking. I still have a lot to accomplish.”

But, at least, he says, he has accomplished making a name for himself.

Bloody said he is quite proud of his fame and that it even extends to the most button-down members of North Peoria. 

At a recent event in the East Bluff attended by at-large councilman George Jacob and Darin LaHood, Republican candidate for Peoria County State’s Attorney, both said the same thing when they heard Bloody was going to be there.

“Where is he?” they asked. “I know about him.”