NUVO at 25: A Gizmos fairytale 

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(Editor's note: The Gizmos are an inextricable part of Indiana's rock and roll history. This story of how 25-year-old NUVO writer Kelsey Simpson became their drummer is a rock and roll fairy tale.)

My mother was a skater betty and my father was a skater — that's how I got into punk rock. Or so the legend that I occasionally get to tell goes. Discarded cassette tapes led me to bands like Agent Orange and Minor Threat. The beginning of my life in DIY was all about the fastest, most hardcore bands. I identified with the energy. It was youthful, and transcended time.

In the early to mid 2000s, The Gizmos were working with Gulcher Records to re-release their material. I was in 7th grade reading Gary Paulsen novels and keeping pictures of Dave Grohl in my locker. In 2002 I met Sybilla Bryson through an AOL Kids' "Punk" message board. I answered an ad she had posted looking for preteen musicians in Indiana to form a band. She lived in Anderson, Indiana and would go on to found the fanzine Youth Culture Killed My Dog. YCKMD was inspired by the single issue zine her dad had published. I contributed book reviews, photos, and short articles. While our band The Gimmicks never saw the stage, YCKMD ran for eight issues and would go on to be referenced years later by fanzine folks (including NUVO Barfly Wayne Bertsch.)

The Gizmos originally had developed friendships through fanzines. In the early to mid '70s, there were no message boards, Tumblrs or deviantARTs. The primary medium was the zine. Bob Richert, editor of Gulcher magazine, felt the first wave of Gizmo energy in the writing of Kenne Highland and Eddie Flowers. Gulcher not only reached the population of Bloomington but also a young Thurston Moore. Picture, if you will, Moore writing to say that he would like to join The Gizmos and Eddie advising against it — "there's enough people in the band already!"

click to enlarge The Gizmos, with Simpson up front - PHOTO BY MELANIE COFFEE
  • The Gizmos, with Simpson up front
  • Photo by Melanie Coffee

I've been playing drums in the band Deezen since 2010. A couple years ago we recorded a cover of The Gizmos' song "Gimme Back My Foreskin" for an unreleased compilation. I thought it was fun but had no concept of the band's history. We played it live for at least two years before we were asked by Gizmanager Marvin P. Goldstein to open for The Gizmos in Bloomington at the beginning of their reunion tour.

It was surreal opening for them and then being asked to join the group. I have a vivid memory of Rich Coffee next to the stage while I was playing giving me a thumbs up and thinking, "Oh cool, that dude likes us!" not even realizing for a second who he was. Myself, Sam Murphy, and Craig Bell of Deezen would join the original four members to form part of the 2014 lineup.

Curiously enough, Marvin Goldstein was at the first show I ever played. with a hardcore band called Wait til Wednesday at the now-empty Sam's Saloon across the street from the Hoosier Dome. He and my mother were literally the only people in the audience. I remember riding with him in the van to Memphis, Tennessee to headline Goner Fest thinking to myself, "If I had known then that Marvin was to become our manager... Wow!"

Ted Niemic is one of the original Gizmos, but is also the bridge to an entirely different family of musicians playing under the same name. I've been able to practice and learn much of The Gizmos' catalog by playing live locally as Teddy & The Mofos—Ted plus members of Deezen. We played with second and third generation Gizmos Tim Carroll and Dale Lawrence, as well as many of the musicians on the recent Crazy Al's compilation.

The reality of being a Gizmo hit me the hardest when we visited Goner Records the day after headlining Goner Fest. I mentioned to Eddie Flowers that they had older zines and pointed to a copy of Forced Exposure. He looked at it and casually said, "Oh yeah, I wrote for them. I think I'm in that issue." I flipped through a couple pages and sure enough, there he was. I immediately asked him to autograph it and I often think to myself, it could've been Thurston Moore. Instead, it was me!


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