• Bruce Licher

Sensible Guys Who Do What They Want To: HUMAN HANDS Recollections

Updated: Aug 15



In June of this year I enjoyed a Zoom call with Jeffrey Brenneman, Greg Grunke and 4/5 of the band Human Hands, sharing our impressions and our enthusiasm about the band and the birth of the self-titled double album with bonus single released on Independent Project Records in late 1982. The band members discuss the inspiration for their name, their roots in the Los Angeles punk scene, as well as the wildly avant garde collective Los Angeles Free Music Society (LAFMS). As Ira Robbins wrote in Trouser Press, "This turn-of-the-decade LA quintet featured such future stars of the California underground as drummer Dennis Duck (Dream Syndicate), guitarist Juan Gomez (Romans) and keyboardist Bill Noland (Wall of Voodoo). In addition to the work these three members created after Human Hands split up 1n 1981, bassist Rick Potts has contributed to a number of LAFMS-related groups, and late singer David Wiley had been known for fronting Phoenix-based punk band The Consumers (which featured guitarist Paul Cutler, later in goth punk band 45 Grave) prior to the formation of Human Hands.


Give a listen to our conversation on Jeffrey & Greg's latest Independent Podcast Review, now posted on their YouTube channel and here in this blog:



 

For a taste of the remarkable Human Hands performing their song She Eats Bugs, recorded in Pasadena circa 1980, check out the video below. This snippet alone will give you a good idea of the power and uniqueness of Human Hands, and in my opinion it makes things blatantly obvious why I had to put this project together and release this material on IPR some 40 years ago.



 

And if you'd like to immerse yourself in the full, mind blowing set of the Human Hands from that evening - listen here:



Watching this video brings back many fond memories of seeing Human Hands perform in the clubs around LA circa the turn of the 70's into the 80's. Such a wonderful and unassuming band, and this demonstrates perfectly why I decided to approach the band in 1982 and offer to release the self-titled double LP with bonus 7" of their music on Independent Project Records. It was because they had released very little during their 3-year existence (1979-1981) and I wanted so much more! I had seen them perform at least two albums' worth of great material and I needed a record of that material in my collection. And that's been the whole raison d'etre of IPR ever since - wanting to own and share a record that I couldn't have otherwise.


 


In 2019 I dove deep into all the boxes of my extensive archives in preparation for the Savage Impressions book published in early 2020 by P22 Typefoundry and ran across the original black & white photocopy prints that were used to make the printing plates for the Human Hands LP release on IPR in 1982.




There was something magical that happens with old school analog photocopy machine prints that you just can’t get with today’s digital technology. Look at the floor tiles in the left image above, and check out the detail on the top of the wooden benches in the right image. The way the analog copier interpreted tonality was really quite special. That graphic tonality was again reinterpreted even further as the photo-engraved printing plates were etched into metal, without the effects of halftone screening, creating the really interesting abstract patterns that you can find in the final letterpress-printed piece.

 

Original rubber eraser carvings by Bruce Licher of the band's name. The version shown in the center was used to create several printing plates which were used in the final design of the album package, set alongside hand-set metal type on the first edition pressing.