Rising up out of Columbus, Ohio's "Wolverine Hatecore" scene, The Dead Schembechlers earned the dual titles of "The Best Damn Punk Band in the Land" and "The Band Most Likely to Have Their Eyeballs Gouged Out If They Ever Show Up in Michigan." They garnered them through their tenacious mix of pure punk power and inspired lyrical madness. While the group may be relative youngsters in the sacred Buckeye struggle against the evil forces of the Michiganites, they count themselves part of the long tradition of anti-Michigan musical militancy that goes back to the later part of the 19th century.
A series of engravings of rioting in Columbus following OSU's 34-0 loss in the first ever game against Michigan in 1897.
Musical historians trace the start of the Wolverine Hatecore scene and the Dead Schembechlers to this event.
The band first came together in 1990 out of the broken shards of former groups on the scene. Most of these bands had lost members who had been murdered by marauding mobs of mangy Michiganites mobilizing from the frozen North. Bo Biafra (vocals), Bo Thunders (guitar), Bo Vicious (bass) and Bo Scabies (drums) make up this brazenly brutal bunch of boldly brave bastards. The band's hard charging musical style, teamed with lyrics totally dedicated to showing the world the true evil of the Michigan Wolverine's football program, have made them beloved heroes in Columbus and reviled heathen scum in Ann Arbor.
Actually, if the truth be known, the real beginning of the band goes back to the 1970's when the original group line up was Bo Harvey Oswald (vocals), Bo Wayne Gacey (guitar), Bo Starkweather (bass) and Bo Earl Ray (drums). Tragically, a mistake by their booking agent led to the band's debut gig as the opening act for The MC5 in Detroit. As soon as the Michigan audience caught wind of what the band was about they rushed the stage and beat the hapless musicians to death. They were shot and then their bodies were dragged into the street where they were burned to a crisp and their ashes scattered.
These photos illustrate the sad ending of the original members of the Dead Schembechlers.
An angry mob of Wolverine fans begins to gather, mayhem ensues and finally the executions by Michigan National Guard members.
Since the band was reconstituted in the 90’s they have become known for their matching Woody Hayes coaching outfits as well as their Wolverine hate inspired lyrics. When asked about all being named Bo but all dressing as Woody the band explains, “It represents the inner conflict in every human that there is a bit of Bo and a bit of Woody in all of us. Our job as musicians is to show the goodness in us, represented by our Woody dress code and the evil inside of us represented by all of us being named after the accursed one."
Dead Schembechlers have seen their fortunes rise and fall with that of the Buckeyes. During the painful part of the 1990's where the Bucks were having trouble with the Wolverines the group hit the skids. They disbanded, divorced their wives and left their pets in the car on hot days with the windows rolled up. They then re-formed...but only for a few minutes so they could break the band up again. During these bleak times Bo Biafra was to be found selling pencils on High Street, using the money to freebase old photos of Art Schlichter. Things got so bad that when the band did join forces again they did it not as punk band Dead Schembechlers but as country/western group Dade Schembechlers. The band moved to Dade County, Florida changing their names to reflect the new musical surroundings with Bo Ceephus (vocals), Bo Vine (guitar), Billy Bo (bass) and Bobby Bo (drums). The groups set list consisted of nothing but depressing Buckeye loss inspired country tunes like "I'm So Down I Can't Get Up to Hang Myself," "Why Does John Cooper Want Me to Blow My Own Brains Out" and "Too Depressed to Even Do My Sister." Thankfully, this dark period ended as the Bucks returned to dominance in the Big 10.
Thru the years the group has had to battle against a number of negative stories in the press. Bo Biafra explains, "We have certainly taken our share of lumps from the 'liberal Wolverine Media.' We consider it a badge of honor that they feel threatened by us and try to attack our wholesome message. Is it wrong to urge our government to launch a nuclear strike against Ann Arbor? Am I out of line for suggesting that the Wolverines and their supporters are dangerous to the stability of our nation? Before you answer those questions just consider that throughout World War 2 the coach of the Wolverine's was named 'Fritz.' Just think about THAT!" The group has also recently started floating the hypothesis that the Wolverines have never actually beaten the Bucks. "Nope. They never have," explains Bo Thunders. "The reports of Buck losses to Michigan have all been faked by the press. It's just like the moon landings only a lot worse. We never would have done that damned Dade Schembechlers thing if we had known the truth." Whether the band is correct or are just more unhinged in the passing of years, they remain steadfast in their beliefs.
One of the other awkward chapters in the band's history is the so called "High Street Riots of '96." Moments after the devastating loss to the Wolverines that year, the band began an impromptu performance that turned into a full scale war. Bo Biafra, enraged at the 2nd ranked Bucks going down to defeat, leapt off the flatbed truck that was being used as a mobile stage and led an attack against security forces. The National Guard was eventually called in to quell the unrest but not before the Dead Schembechlers had solidified their position as the most militant Wolverine Hatecore band in history.
A group of photos of the so called "High Street Riots of '96" allegedly instigated by the Dead Schembechlers after a horrifying Buck loss.
The band and fans get the hose treatment from security forces (l), a streetside bonfire (c) and the aftermath next morning (r).
The band is also famous for their incredibly short sets, some lasting as little as three minutes. However, the scant moments in which they do perform have been enough to whip the Bucks faithful into a psychotic frenzy and Michigan fans into a frothing lather of blind hatred. The group plays very infrequently due to the constant death threats from angry Wolverine boosters. Most of their gigs have been held on the eve of the OSU versus Michigan games. Many of these shows have been so secret that even the band members were unaware of the location.
In the present day Dead Schembechlers are attacking the music scene with renewed vigor and a fresh group of fans. They are called upon by Ohio State alumni to perform throughout the United States but still prefer to play on the eve of the Bucks versus Wolverines in Columbus. As all of the band's releases thru the years were on 7" vinyl singles their recorded output had been almost impossible to locate until they made the move to CD. "Rocket to Ann Arbor" was the title of their 2004 compilation disc that culled the A-sides of their previous singles coupled with special bonus tracks. The disc name refers to the groups strong desire for the U.S. government to launch a thermonuclear first strike against the Michiganites. Among the many highlights were the band's tune about Bo Schembechler's frustration at never winning a national title in twenty four years ("Bo for 24"), a bonus track from the bleak days as country band Dade Schembechlers, a reworked version of "Buckeye Bop" and Bo Biafra's safe sex PSA.
In November of 2005 the band released its opus. Originally to have been entitled "Fear of A Buck Planet" the album was finally called "Wolverine Destroyer." Song titles on it include "Bomb Ann Arbor Now," "I Peed in Ann Arbor's Water Supply" and "Tenn Ginn Did Everythin.'" The band also returned to the stage for another Hate Michigan Rally. A sellout crowd of over five hundred packed Little Brothers on High Street in Columbus, Ohio on Friday November 18th, 2005. Guests for the show included Watershed, Dash Rip Rock and the controversial pro-Michigan band Dropkick Woodys. The Michigan band was killed and eaten by hungry rats following the show.
In 2006 the band continued at an amazing clip. July 4th of '06 saw the release of a summer song celebrating Ohio's surf scene "Buckeye Surfer Girl." The same recording sessions yielded a holiday tune "The Ann Arbor Chainsaw Massacre Christmas Song," an ode to a hated U of M player "Chad Henne is A Motherfucking Joke" and a balls out punk version of "We Don't Give A Damn for the Whole State of Michigan."
The band also caused a national panic with the release of its first ever video. Directed by Bo Biafra, Bomb Ann Arbor Now was made up entirely of vintage clips from atomic bomb tests and government sanctioned "Duck & Cover" films. When released on YouTube it bested other debuts that week from Green Day, U2 and Paris Hilton. It garnered the band two YouTube Honors and caused a ruckus in the press.
2006 also saw the lads pick up an incredible amount of press. The band's Bo Biafra was featured in a massive front page display in The Columbus Dispatch. They were also written up that year in over 200 other publications including The New York Times, The Seattle Times, The Austin American Statesman, The Detroit Free Press, The St. Louis Dispatch, The Detroit Times, The Cleveland Plain Dealer, The Cincinnati Enquirer, The San Antonio Express News, The Oregonian, The Ann Arbor News, The Ft. Lauderdale Sun Sentinel, The Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe, Sports Illustrated, The Wilmington News Journal, The St. Petersburg Times, Columbus Alive, U Weekly, The Syracuse Daily Orange , Yahoo Sports and the front page of ESPN.com. During Hate Week the group was given the full front pages of both U Weekly and Columbus Alive easily topping Bruce Springsteen's Time/Newsweek trick. They were covered on Fox News, ESPN Sports Center, ESPN's Cold Pizza and countless other television shows. On the radio they were heard coast to coast on hardDrive with Lou Brutus, The Rush Limbaugh Show and received thousands of radio plays on local stations throughout the country. The group was also featured in a full page spread in Penthouse Magazine in the Dec. '06 issue!
The group played the largest Hate Michigan Rally in history on November 17th, selling out the Newport Music Hall with over 2000 people attending. It was an emotionally charged evening with the shocking news of the death of the band's namesake Bo Schembechler coming earlier in the day. The band announced at a press conference prior to the show that they would drop the current band name out of respect to Bo and the Schembechler family if they continued in the future. They also announced all band profits from the show including those of opening acts Watershed and B.A. Baracus would be donated to a charity of the Schembechler family's choosing, eventually raising over six thousand dollars for The Bo Schembechler: Heart of A Champion Fund. The show was the most incredible in their history as the audience moshed, slammed and crowd surfed while continually cheering for Bo. The band led a final cheer for him to close the night and dedicated the entire event to "the most valiant foe OSU has ever faced."
On New Year's Day 2007, they announced that their new name would be The Bastard Sons of Woody and that they are direct genetic descendents of Woody Hayes himself. Apparently the group members were the product of radical scientific experimentation with DNA manipulation, cell altercation and gene splicing transmogrification. They were each born in a test tube as part of a renegade off campus OSU lab experiment.
However, the hopes of their fans were dashed soon after. The Bucks loss in the National Championship pushed Bo Biafra over the edge and his mental powers began to become unfocused. He claimed that Woody blamed them for the loss and that the band was now cursed. That summer, minutes after taping an interview for HBO, he collapsed on High Street eventually being taken to the Athens Lunatic Asylum. He began a downward spiral where he lost all knowledge of his previous life. The road back for him has been a slow process. Meanwhile, bassist Bo Vicious moved to Seattle to open his German breakfast food chain called Luftwaffle.
Even with all this personal chaos the legend of the band continued to grow. In November of 2007 they were introduced to tens of millions around the globe when featured in HBO's documentary "The Rivalry: Ohio State vs. Michigan." The film included band interviews, music and performance footage from the historic 2006 Hate Michigan Rally. Sports Illustrated writer Austin Murphy devoted several pages to the rally in his book "Saturday Rules" and the group continued to be written up in newspapers and magazines around the world. Bo Biafra's spiral of madness even inspired the song "Shine On You Crazy Buckeye" by Ohio band Pink Lloyd.
All of the press and notoriety would be of no avail to their ravenous fans though as 2007 would be the first year without a performance or a rally since the group first began in 1990. Huge dollar amounts were thrown at them to no avail. Doubts loom that the band will ever play again.
Then on September 10th 2008 the band dropped the bombshell that they would reform as the Dead Schembechlers with a new record and multiple Hate Michigan Rally appearances. Shockingly, the first salvo fired by the rejuvenated group was not at Michigan but at USC with their single "USC Don't Mean Nuthin' to Me" and its B side "U S(uck) C(ock). As a thank you to fans the group made the tunes available for free download on their MySpace on USC game day. These songs and others would be inculded on their new EP "Rodriguez to Ruin" which is slated for a November 2008 release. Other titles on the record will include "O-H-I-O," "Rodriguez is A Weasel," "I'm So Bored with the SEC," "You Lost to Appalachian State" and "Rich Rodriguez Can Suck My Dick."
In 2010, the band performed a combination 20th anniversary Hate Michigan Rally & Dick Rod Going Away Party at Skully's Music Diner on High Street with over one thousand fans selling out the show. In the runup to the event they received encouragement from TV star and Ohio native Drew Carey. True to their predictions of "Three Years and A Cloud of Dust," Dick Rod was fired soon after the season ended.
The year of 2011 again found the band mulling retirement but the New Wolverine Order orchestrated departure of Jim Tressel spurred the band to announce plans for the worlds first "mini-punk-rock-sports-soap-opera" which would be based on the scandal and entitled "Jimmy." They have also vowed to to perform for the first time ever in Ann Arbor to spur on Buckeyes fans nervous about the two new Rivalry coaches. However, disaster struck as guitarist Bo Thunders lost the master tapes of "Jimmy" on the subway (even though Columbus apparently has no subway). He was soon after placed in rehab by his family. His absence made a rumoured barnstorming performance outside of Michigan Stadium before the game impossible. The only bright spot in November of 2011 appeared to be the group's first ever ringtones on iPhone with "I Hate Michigan," "Buckeye Bop" and "O-H-I-O."
With their rebirth as the most feared band of musicians the sports world has ever see the Dead Schembechlers once again show that they are...the best damn punk band in the land! No matter what the future holds they have proven that OSU fans are the classiest in all of sports and that the group is indeed...the best damn punk band in the land!