The members of Deviance in the August 1994 issue.

Local Band: Deviance: August 1994


Immediately upon arrival at the newly opened Just Lovely Records production facility, Charlee Johnson met me with a cold Miller. Deviance, comprised of Charlee on drums, Jesse on bass, Dave on guitar and Sunshine on vocals, is signed to Just Lovely, Salt Lake City’s newest record label. They plan to make a difference in this town.

We had a long discussion on the local scene and Just Lovely’s plans to improve things in Utah. Their most recent effort was the High Desert Show held in the Fruitland area on the weekend of the 24th. The Just Lovely story is another complete article. With apologies to the label, this is about Deviance.

Any discussion of the local “scene” could go on forever, and it almost did. With that out of the way, it’s on to Deviance. They claim the CBGB scene of the late ‘70s as an influence. For the rest here’s the band.

Charlee: We’re militant Morbid Angel/Slayer fans.

Sunshine: That’s the only Charlee, Charlee and Jesse.

Jesse: I have to say you know, we were all heavily influenced by the TV series V. That was a heavy influence for Deviance.

Sunshine: And Video Drone.

The Deviance demo tape I have has a song dedicated to the television series. Also on the tape are “Invasion From Mars” and “Space Age Monstrosity.” Referring to the sci-fi nature of many Deviance songs he writes, Charlee says, “I feel like I’m not a part of what goes on when I write.”

Jesse: As a band we’re total outsiders, we don’t fit in anywhere.

Sunshine: Here we go again, they fucked us at this club and they fucked us at that club. We wish we were on Mars.

Jesse and I then dive into the first days of the band and their current music. When we got together we were in a basement,I picked up a bass guitar for the first time and they had me playing it. Charlee was freaking out all over the place. It alienated everybody at first, but now people are really getting into it. It’s just three chords, power chord sort of shit — we’re not artists. We just get out there and play, play as hard and as fast as we can.”

Sunshine: I sure as hell haven’t had four years of opera training at BYU.

Charlee: Yeah, the day I started the band, she’d never sang for a band before and he’d never played an instrument. Dave blew me away. Dave and I met each other at a MouthBreather show.

Sunshine: I introduced them at a MouthBreather show.

Charlee: We got together and played for four or five hours without stopping. At this point I just figured we’d write songs together and then all of a sudden I just took it over. We practiced for about three weeks and landed our first show. After the word got out on us, nobody wanted to play after us in Utah County. We played at Godfather’s Pizza and we had 76 kids show up on word-of-mouth. No flyers, no nothing, and there it was.

Jesse: Dave’s probably one of the best guitarists around.

Charlee: Dave is the best guitarist.

Jesse: I started going to their practices just to see Dave play because he was so unreal. And then I saw Charlee and it was like, ‘these guys are gonna fuckin’ rage.’ Then they’re like, yeah, we’re gonna have Sunshine sing. I thought, ‘a girl singer for this shit is going to be unreal. This is going to be different than anything I’ve heard.’ The next thing I know I’m playing bass standing on stage, looking around going ‘Oh my god. How many notes are in this song?’ It was punk as shit.

Charlee: That’s what it’s about. Nobody admits to liking the Misfits or The Damned. They sit around and go, ‘We like Fugazi and Jesus Lizard because that’s art.’ Tell me the truth, would you rather sit down and listen to something that’s experimental, beautiful, tinkle, la-la-la, ‘let’s explore our inner true selves and the nature of our mind’? Or would you rather sit down and listen to fucking Joey Ramone make a two-finger bar chord and go nuts? Just playing solid down strokes and making it passionate. It comes from the heart. We’re not the best musicians. Well, Dave is. Dave is the strongest musician. Dave could leave this band and I’d be fucked.

Sunshine: That’s because if Dave didn’t learn to play the guitar when he was little his parents were going to kill him.

Charlee: Dave’s had the best training out of all of us. If we’re successful it’s because of him and Sunshine. Sunshine makes it go, Jesse adapts to anything and then there’s me — I’ve got my day job.

Jesse: It’s worked out nice. We’re all friends, we love to hang out and stuff.

Charlee: Oh yeah, Dave and I are totally at each others throats, but it’s that anger … I love Dave dearly, he’s one of the best people I’ve ever worked with.

Jesse: It almost helps us though. We have them getting totally pissed off at each other.

Sunshine: Jesse and I are running around playing make-up all the time.

Jesse: We’re trying to get the two together and then everyone’s pissed off and they want to play. Dave does what he wants to do and Charlee does what he wants to and it’s two totally opposite things but it somehow works out for the best.

That’s the band. They took me inside to watch a video of three songs from their performance at the High Desert Show. The video was shot at 2:30 in the morning by someone who had been drinking all day. Not the best quality, but the power came through. Sunshine fronts the band with an in-your-face style like a Barbie doll from hell. Charlie is a complete maniac on the drums. He claims to have no rhythm, he just beats the shit out of his drums. Jesse’s standing back (trying to remember the three chords) and Dave is all black hair and lunacy. At the completion of their performance, Charlie throws his drum kit all over the stage while screaming. These people are maniacs — I can see why no one wants to follow their live performance. Their music is crazed punk rock with B-movie and sci-fi garage elements. Watch out for Just Lovely’s upcoming warehouse shows and Deviance’s forthcoming EP on the label. Intensity sums up Deviance, both live and recorded.

Read more from the SLUG Archives:
Interview: Breeders
Record and Tape Reviews: September 1991