Back in the ’80s, local metal band Desecration was playing a DIY show alongside Death Angel and The Possessed. As Desecration went into a ripping cover of skate-punk band Agression’s “Body Count,” they invited an audience member on stage to help them with vocals. This kid knew the song and screamed through it all the way with a bit of hardcore energy. The audience loved it. In no time, the band invited this kid, Rik Morgan, to be their lead singer. They changed their name to Corrupted Morals and became a punk rock band, though some of their metal influences stuck around, giving them a sound that was unique for the time.
“I would say we were on that forefront of crossover between metal and the punk scene,” Morgan says.
The group were part of the first wave of 924 Gilman bands, and are likely remembered best for being one of the groups Larry LaLonde played in prior to joining Primus. Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong also played in the group for one tour. They were a critical part of that early Gilman punk scene. In fact, their Chet EP (1988) was the second-ever release on punk rock–defining indie label Lookout Records.
That record, mostly adored by hardcore scenesters from back in the day, got its first-ever re-issue on Dec. 1 on local label Lavasocks. It’s been remastered from the original demos, and they added five more songs, making it 10 in total, a Chet 12-inch.
“The original five songs on Chet, it was the perfect blend of that East Bay poppiness with more of a hardcore sound and anti-government lyrics, such a pinnacle East Bay sound,” says Lavasocks Records–owner Alex Botkin. “It treads the line with elements of thrash metal, the sounds of the same scene where Metallica came from. It’s a lot more dynamic and interesting [than other hardcore bands of that era].”
Corrupted Morals was an authentic group of pissed-off, working-class East Bay kids. Morgan recognized that the system didn’t care about him and he screamed about it. His rage was palpable.
“I didn’t grow up privileged. I didn’t grow up rich. I grew up poor,” Morgan says. “I wanted the world to be a better place for everybody, and the way I interpreted that to happen was just like anything else—it needs to start at the top. I felt like people in politics, they didn’t care about people like me. They didn’t care about the little person. They treated us just like pawns in a game.
“Don’t look at the president to make this world a better place. If you want to make this world a better place, look in the mirror. It’s that easy. People always want to make it more than what it needs to be. I’ve been through Jimmy Carter. I’ve been through Reagan. I’ve been through Bush. I’ve been through Clinton. I’ve been through Baby Bush. I’ve been through Obama. I’ve been through Trump. And you know what? Nothing’s fucking changed. The President doesn’t make a difference. People need to make a change from within.”
The band broke up in 1992 and didn’t play together again until early 2017, when Gilman threw The Lookouting, a week-long 30th-anniversary celebration of Lookout Records. Botkin put the show together and managed to find them thanks to the Turn it Around East Bay punk documentary. He got them to play again for the show. Of the bands he helped reunite, they were the only ones that continued to play.
Talk of reissuing their music came up quickly.
“It’s really nice to finally have people that might have seen their show for the first time recently now have access to this music, especially on Spotify and streaming sites,” Botkin says. “It gives them this avenue to reach more than just the old East Bay punk-heads that know everything already and probably have everything.”
Even though they had to stop live shows when the pandemic started, getting back together and getting their music out again has been fun for the members of Corrupted Morals, who never got as much outside attention as some of their peers.
“We were one of those bands where we were never going to appeal to the masses,” Morgan says. “But when we played live, it was crazy. Some of the biggest pits I’ve ever seen were us playing. We didn’t hold back, that’s for sure.”
For more information, check out www.facebook.com/CorruptedMorals.