Soon the band was working on original material. At this point, the band had no name. Someone suggested The Hostages and they soon had this moniker spray painted on all their speaker cabinets. None of the band members were particularly happy with this name, however. Fortunately, they wouldn’t have to wait long for a new name. Fate quickly intervened as one day after school, Tony was grudgingly working through a vocabulary assignment when he came across the word “Pariah.” The definition read “any person or animal generally despised, outcast.” Tony knew immediately that this would be the new name for the band and so it was.
The San Francisco bay area was a hotbed for the punk movement in the early eighties. Clubs like the Mabuhay Gardens, the On Broadway and The Stone were putting on amazing shows with legendary bands like The Dead Kennedys, The Circle Jerks, D.O.A., T.S.O.L, Black Flag and many others too numerous to mention. Pariah desperately wanted to be part of the scene and to play shows in the city. In order to obtain billing at these clubs, Pariah needed a demo that they could send to club owners. Setting an early precedent, Pariah went all the way and produced a 3-song EP mastered at the famous Fantasy Studios . While the EP was good enough to get the band booked, they still had to pay their dues. Their first show was at an unbelievable dive in the Turk District called The Sound of Music. Their first audience consisted of Tony’s then girlfriend, an obviously bored soundman and an alcoholic bar patron passed out at one of the tables. Pariah soon graduated to weeknight shows at the Mabuhay Gardens where the malicious soundman regularly introduced the band as “Piranha” and when he did pronounce the name correctly he would ask the audience “isn’t that a gum disease?” Undaunted, the band continued to work on their chops and write new songs.
At this time the band was developing a local reputation which regularly brought visitors to the basement practices. One of these visitors was Ray Lujan, a local punk rocker and bass player. Realizing that liberating Tony from his bass playing duties would open up a whole new dimension to the band, Ray was soon asked to join the lineup. Not only did the addition of Ray Lujan provide a new stage presence for the band, but Ray brought a tremendous songwriting ability as well. Soon the band was cranking out punk anthem after punk anthem and getting solid booking in support of the top punk acts. Realizing the bands potential, Pariah soon recruited the talents of now legendary punk producer/engineer Kevin Army of Green Day fame to produce a demo to send out to the major punk labels. Once again, Pariah went all the way and produced a full albums worth of finely crafted punk rock music. An early result of that effort was the inclusion of “Up to Us” on the Rodney on the Roq Volume 3 - Compilation LP on Posh Boy Records in 1982. In 1983, following closely on the heels of the Rodney on the Roq release, the now classic Alternative Tentacles release “Not so Quiet on the Western Front” which featured Pariah’s “Learning Process” was released. This legendary compilation was re-released by Alternative Tentacles in 1999 and is still widely available today.
The success of these early compilations led to a record deal from Robbie Fields’ and his legendary punk label Posh Boy Records. After mastering the album in LA, Robbie released Pariah’s debut album “Youths of Age” in 1983. The band promoted the album through regular club and arena appearances in support of major punk bands including The U.K. Subs, The Ramones and Suicidal Tendencies. The album was very successful and the band scored a hit with “White Line”, a tongue-in-cheek condemnation of the eighties drug of choice. Soon the band was receiving fan mail from all corners of the globe and enjoying top billing alongside the greatest punk bands of the era.
Productive as always, Pariah was soon headed back to the studio in preparation for a second full-length Pariah album. This time Pariah hired legendary engineer/producer Matt Wallace of Faith no More fame to engineer the second album at Starlight Studios. Once again, Kevin Army was recruited to produce the album. Sadly, tensions began to mount with this second endeavor. Ray Lujan had taken over most of the song writing duties in the band and was determined to take the band in a more accessible direction. This new direction was not universally accepted by the band. Dissatisfaction with the new recordings only exacerbated existing tensions between band members. The band managed to complete the album, but broke up before it could be released.
The years passed and Tony Cox and Mike Smith stayed in touch. Tony pursued his dream of becoming a surfboard shaper and became a successful entrepreneur opening up a surf shop in Santa Cruz, CA. Mike had gone to school and ended up with a Ph.D. in synthetic organic chemistry (of all things). While pursuing these goals, they continued to collaborate on new music. This collaboration was hampered by the fact that Mike was attending school in Indiana for five years and took a job in New York for two years after that. A number of demo recordings were made, but due to the demands of these other pursuits, nothing was done with them. Finally, in 2000, Mike returned to the San Francisco bay area and the musical collaboration between Mike and Tony took on a whole new life. Mike had been honing his skills in the studio and had become well acquainted with the digital revolution in music. He had invested in a computer based project studio that was producing high quality work. Tony had honed his skill as a lyricist and songwriter and together they made some initial recordings that they were quite pleased with and impressed all those that heard them. They realized that they had the opportunity to produce a second Pariah album that would reflect the bands origins and show a maturity that can only come with time. By 2002 a full CD’s worth of new Pariah songs had been recorded. Pariah hopes to have the new music released for it’s fans in early 2003.