Razorcake Press

Target Video

$2.00

Razorcake Press

Target Video

$2.00
  • Description

Hearing a band for the first time could change your life. Seeing a band play live for the first time takes it to a different level—seeing them in motion, the incredible energy of the band, the crowd interacting. Before the internet, if a band didn’t put a photo on the album, you might have not even known what they looked like until you saw them live. And for punk rock in the ’70s and ’80s, you had better live near a city where the bands lived or had a club that would accept the transgressive scene.

Video does not replace the power of a live show, but for those of us who lived away from both coasts in the ’80s, Target Video saved us. Target Video was at the vanguard of releasing a barrage of punk VHS releases—the bleeding edge of technology at the time—in the decade of Reagan. These tapes were incredible documents of first and second wave punk bands playing live. The footage of those early bands playing also showed us the first West Coast venues, what the early crowds looked and acted like—with the lack of a dress code and no separation from the band or stage. Some of the most unusual punk shows ever were captured on early, raw video by Target: Crime playing at San Quentin State Prison, the Mutants playing at a school for deaf children, The Cramps playing at a mental hospital, the first performances of Survival Research Laboratories, and both live and studio performances of The Screamers, who would only release video and no vinyl during their time.

Due to the undeniable and enduring impact of these videos, over the past few years we’ve been producing documentary projects on Target Video. We’ve compiled this origin story through multiple interviews, from their very beginning through the Napa State show on June 13, 1978, learning who and what was behind these essential punk videos. Leading up to meeting the three co-founders in person, we knew they operated in the Bay Area starting in the ’70s, living in affordable warehouses in Oakland, then San Francisco. Their second and third spaces also doubled as studios to videotape bands performing for the camera. Joe Rees was the man behind the camera, also producing, directing, and editing the videos. Jill Hoffman helped produce the videos and took still photos. Sam Edwards was the “technician.” We heard they came out of art school with some of the first video technology as local friends were starting bands.

Our short documentary film focusing on the story of when the Mutants and The Cramps played Napa State (titled We Were There to Be There, inspired by a great comment by Jill) was made in 2021 and is coming out on Blu-ray, along with the original tapes and lost footage not found until 2022, all remastered by Dino Everett at the Punk Media Research Collection, University of Southern California, HMH Foundation Moving Image Archive.

This interview originally ran in Razorcake #133 by Razorcake Familia members Mike Plante and Jason Willis. They asked Razorcake to do a special, 44pg. zine as part of their bonkers, deLUXe, bonus-laden edition Blu-Ray of The Cramps and the Mutants: The Napa State Tapes which ships by July 18, 2023. This stand-alone zine version includes more exclusive photos than the original layout.

Author: Mike Plante / Jason Willis
Publisher: Razorcake Press
Page Count: 44pp
Size: 5.5 x 8.5
Notes: saddle-stitched, b/w
Date of Publication: 2023