Express Yourself

A Band Called Shitty

We were bad. That was the point.

Davy Carren
Human Parts
Published in
9 min readJul 15, 2020
The band onstage. The bassist is almost naked; the drummer is shirtless & wearing a balaclava, raising his sticks in the air.
Shitty, circa 1996. Photo courtesy of Davy Carren

I was in a band called Shitty. It all started at the Huntington Beach Library in Orange County, California — I’d guess around late 1995 or early ’96. I’d grabbed the mic between bands one night, claiming I was going to read a poem to all the emo kids in the audience. Of course, they were very excited to hear a lugubrious poem that would give them a chance to cry. Instead, they got me dashing off a sarcastic bit of dry humor about having consensual sex with a cow in a field. The last line was something like, “And then I left. The cow was alone again, yet satisfied.” There was a great amount of shock and horror and even some literal jaw-dropping after I’d finished. The drummer for the band going on next hit his cymbal. And I stood there for a moment while the crowd grumbled and shuffled their feet in an uncomfortable bit of stalled quiet.

But a few folks there that night loved it. One was named Mike, and he was famous for swinging naked around the library’s flagpole during the shows. (Streakers running around outside the library during shows wasn’t as uncommon as you might imagine, but the flagpole swinging added a classy guise to it.) I had admired his tenacity of spirit and asked if he’d like to be in my band. He agreed, but considering that I didn’t play any instruments, it was difficult to explain to him how this would work. How was I in a band? What did I do? What were we called? Did that band even exist? I assured him that everything would work out great. I told him I needed a drummer, and that he would do. He was already in a band called the Parking Lot Kids, who performed, as one might expect, exclusively in parking lots. But since he played guitar in that band, not drums, I thought it wouldn’t be too much to ask to have him be in my band, too. I told him that band was called Shitty. He thought that sounded good. So, that’s about how it all got started.

The Huntington Beach Library, or just the HB Library, was the hippest emo venue around at the time. All the touring bands would play there. A guy I knew named Neil had rented out the library’s back room to have shows in, as long as there wasn’t any “rough stuff” or “slam dancing” going on. Neil had to make sure people were only lightly swaying in place to the music or he’d…