Catching Up With No Kill No Beep Beep, Day 8: No Lie Relaxer
On Oct. 24, 2000, Dischord Records released No Kill No Beep Beep, the classic debut by Q and Not U. The cover is an arresting, whimsical snapshot of the punk-rock community that spawned the record—the band asked its friends and peers, most of them under 25 at the time, to pose for a portrait that would show D.C. wasn’t just a town of old punks. In this week’s Washington City Paper, Q and Not U’s members reflect on their rookie achievement. On Arts Desk, we’re catching up with some of the community Q and Not U immortalized.
Left to Right: Mike Maran, Mark Ropelewski, Allison Sheedy, Morgan Daniels
"They were like the best band that never put anything out," says Chris Richards. He's referring to the band No Lie Relaxer, whose members are all on the cover of No Kill No Beep Beep. NLR bassist Allison Sheedy was living in Mount Pleasant at the time of the shoot. "I had moved back to D.C. after going to college at Sarah Lawrence to start a band with my friend [NLR guitarist] Mark Ropelewski" she says. Morgan Daniels, NLR's main vocalist, was also living in Mount Pleasant, in an especially small room in a group house. After moving to the city, Daniels began working at a library (and still works in libraries) and eventually joined up with Sheedy, Ropelewski, and drummer Mike Maran.
Sheedy remembers first hearing Q and Not U's music. "I was the booking manager at the Black Cat at that time, and I thought it was exactly what bands in DC.. should be doing at that moment—it was sort of D.C. anthems but had dance beats," she says. "I loved it." After befriending the band, she and her bandmates were invited to the photo shoot for the cover. "We had played some shows with The Motley Q and got asked if we wanted to participate," Daniels recalls. "All I knew was 'wear primary colors,' so I went with blue jeans and my blue Harley shirt. I remember some rushing and rapid photography, and throwing balloons in the air... I like the extreme boredom we all managed to show." Looking at the photo now, Daniels says: "The coolest part for me, though, was that my whole band was in the picture."
The band played its fair share in the District. "No Lie Relaxer played shows with Q and Not U and we all had a similar aesthetic sense. I felt like we were part of the new wave of music in D.C.," says Sheedy. "D.C. used to be significantly less gentrified and as a result there were so many more artists living around town. Most of my friends who played music lived in Mount Pleasant, Logan Circle, or around U Street and got money from very nonprofessional jobs, which would simply be impossible now. We hung out at the Black Cat, the Raven, and at house parties. And in Baltimore, too. There were always new bands—it seems to me the kids were doing more back then and it was very cohesive—everyone knew everyone." As the price of real estate rises, the character of a city changes. "It is a lot more expensive," says Daniels. "So a lot of people have had to leave their homes—renters are really screwed now and home ownership is much less viable for most people. I think this changes everything in a town, including what kinds of businesses you'll see and how people interact with strangers."
Over the years, Daniels has continued to play music in various bands, including Bad Thoughts, The Last Year Band, Trashers, and "right now a disco band called Psykedisko that I've been having a lot of fun with." After spending time as a roadie for Q an Not U, and later playing in Measles Mumps Rubella, Ropelewski eventually headed up to New York. Maran passed away a few years ago from a brain tumor—a tragedy his former bandmates were hesitant to discuss. "He has a lot of friends who miss him," says Daniels.
"I'm now a mom and an antitrust litigator," says Sheedy. "I live on Capitol Hill. I moved to NYC shortly after the album, then ended up going to law school in Philadelphia and moving back here about four years ago." As for Daniels: "I live in Ann Arbor now, where I came for grad school, but D.C. is still home to me—my mom and step-dad are in Reston, and most of my D.C. pals are still around. One of these days I'm moving back."
Though No Lie Relaxer's music was never officially released, the band did record an album at Trans Am's National Recording Studio. The band never posted any music online, but has allowed Arts Desk to host the song "White Eyes," featuring vocals from Daniels and Ropelewski.
LISTEN: No Lie Relaxer – "White Eyes"
In case you missed it, here's the rest of the series.