“Change your shirt or turn it inside out,” said my gym teacher sternly, suppressing a 10th grade punk’s freedom of expression. During the mid-Nineties’ Ebola outbreak, whatever was offensive about “Ebola ’95 – You’re Next” boldly written with marker on a shirt?
Back in high school, my friends and I liked to see bands at all ages shows. Ska and punk were popular in the music biz, and recognizable acts such as Skankin’ Pickle, MU330, Pegboy, Charles Bronson, and N.I.L.8 were witnessed, along with the more obscure Crosscheck, Splayed Innards, Roughhousers, and… Ebola ’95.
Originating in Maine, the teenage punk band’s ’90s existence closely paralleled the time frame that the U.S. panicked about the virus. During my research, I was most stunned to learn that the August 22, 1995 show that my homie Kevin and I saw was the group’s last. While in Colorado on the 23rd, their VW bus veered off the road, horrifyingly resulting in the death of vocalist / bassist Mike Rabineau. I hope guitarists Steve and Brady, and drummer Eric have healed well physically and emotionally in the years following.
With no documentation known to me, it’s difficult to remember the summer performance. A consultation with Kevin confirmed his memory of the show is nearly overwritten, too. Of the other bands that day, could it be The Pist played, too? Maybe Los Crudos was there? If only I had a flyer of that show among the others I’ve kept from that time. Regardless, the Ebola dudes’ fast hardcore and stage presence that day must’ve been impressive, as we still reference the event 22 years later.
Kev-dogg and I do remember the unique merch we bought. We each scored a true D.I.Y. handwritten T-shirt. Mine was the aforementioned offensive one, and Kevin stated that his may have read, “These Colors Don’t Run.” Unfortunately, the clothing has long been lost to the trash of time, but the tour cassettes we bought are still in our possessions. Further following their D.I.Y. ethic, the furious Ebola ’95 tour EP was produced by recycling other bands’ commercial cassettes from a “master” copy of Faith No More’s The Real Thing. The 18-minute EP closes with the push of the stop button, then a snippet of “Zombie Eaters,” followed by another stop sound, and then jumps into the o.g. tape’s music. My copy is the Desecrator – A Mind is a Terrible Thing version, while Kevin has the classier Steve Vai – Passion and Warfare edition. Each have the same alternate versions of the songs heard on their official EP on Bandcamp (see below), followed by various other tracks that sound like either live-to-boombox performances or simply lo-fi dubs. But, hey, this was back when cassettes were used because they were affordable and convenient, not hip and retro. My experiences with technological advances has reminded me again how forgiving I was of the subpar fidelity of many underground bands’ recordings. For this era and style of aggressive underground punk, though, the lo-fi production is an asset. If you like raw, obscure punk, I invite you to hear the tour EP I digitized for streaming and the cleaner Bandcamp recordings. Blast ’em loud to honor the legend of a band nicely remembered from my musical adventures of 1995.