carolyn
killer instinct

Killer Instinct, left to right: Kitty Hawk: bass, Jet Suicide: guitar, Carolyn: vocals, Bobby Skull: drums

Killer Instinct
Torture You First

Killer Instinct was formed in 1981 in the Lower East Side of NYC. Carolyn joined the band soon after moving to New York from Kansas by way of Marburg, Germany. She answered an ad. Their first gig was at the A7 Club on the corner of Avenue A and 7th St. in the East Village.

A7 was ground zero for the NY hardcore bands that evolved from the 70s punk scene. It was an illegal club with no liquor license, kept open through regular payoffs to local cops. It was run by a genial ex-con named Dave; music began around midnight and went on until seven or eight in the morning, sometimes with a large audience and often without. Dave's wife worked behind the neon-lit bar in front; bands played in the back in a space about the size of a suburban living room, on a platform raised only inches above the floor.

Local acts included Kraut, Reagan Youth, The Stimulators, Agnostic Front, False Prophets, Bobby Steele and the Undead, The Mob, Even Worse, Butch Lust and the Hypocrites, ISM (who recorded a tribute to the club on the flip of their "I Think I Love You" single), and an early 4-piece punk version of The Beastie Boys, who played their first gig at the club. Touring West Coast bands like DOA and Black Flag would play at A7, then camp out on some fan's floor. DOA's bassist punched a hole in the drop-down accoustic tile ceiling, left unrepaired as a tribute to the band for years afterward. Henry Rollins did his first gig with Black Flag at A7.

For several months during 1981-82 Killer Instinct played A7 almost every weekend. A long line of local punks lined up on the sidewalk by midnight, cadging cash and hustling bands to get on the guest list. If they got inside they begged more cash for drinks; more often than not, they never made it past Andre or Victor at the door and ended up on the benches of Tompkins Square Park across the street, passing around a 40-ounce. Carolyn's X.K.I songs "Guest List" and "Stromboli" document the scene.

Early in 1982 A7 acts were asked to submit tapes for an independently-produced LP on S.I.N. Records (run by the two songwriters from ISM) called Big Apple Rotten to the Core: High Energy Rock from NYC. Bands that made the cut were Butch Lust and the Hypocrites, Squirm, The Mob, The Headlickers, Killer Instinct, and of course ISM. The Killer Instinct cuts were "Torture You First", lyrics by Carolyn and music by Jet, and "Killer Instinct" written by Bobby Skull. Both songs were recorded in one session at Rock Bite Studios, a small rehearsal hall and recording studio in midtown. The band produced the session; the engineer is listed as "Danny."

The LP got mixed notices in a few fanzines, Maximum RockNRoll in particular. No one involved made any money and no interest was shown by major labels. That is perhaps the single biggest difference between the first wave of NYC punk and the second hardcore wave that followed it — in the first wave, everybody got signed, in the second, no one did.

By the time of the Big Apple release Killer Instinct had already broken up, a victim of ego run rampant and romance gone sour. Most of the band reformed as X.K.I.

killer instinct

Kit

Bobby

Carolyn with Killer Instinct at The A7 Club

Rotten to the Core compilation LP

Rotten to the Core compilation LP, back cover