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The Carcinogens

The Carcinogens are thought to be Kate Schellenbach's first band. Although no one seems to be able to put an exact date to its period of influence, the Carcinogens likely formed and existed from late 1978 to early 1979. The group was comprised of both Kate Schellenbach and Lawrence Chuah on vocals, Sarah Cox on guitar, and Alex Brown on drums. Kate Schellenbach started out as a vocalist and didn't begin drumming until the Carcinogens morphed into Kate's next band, the "Skiples." Now to put this into context, the formation of this group occurred at approximately the same time as Jeremy Shatan and Michael Diamond were rehearsing as part of the Walden Jazz Band. Thus all of this precedes the formation of the Young Aborigines by about two and a half years.

The Carcinogens featured Lawrence Chuah, known to many as "Larry C" on vocals. Larry was a constant fixture in the punk movement of the late 1970s and early 1980s, playing in several bands including the Primitives. He also contributed to punk zines including the now infamous Flipside magazine, which was published in California. In a 2006 interview with Beastiemania.com Kate Schellenbach said the following about Larry C: " He was a fellow Stuyvesant High School friend of mine. We did the fanzines "Cheap Garbage for Snotty Teens" and "Black Flag" together. He later went on to be a published author and New York University Professor." In proving once again what a small universe it is that we live in, it was Larry who interviewed the Beastie Boys following their New Year's Eve performance at the Kitchen on December 31st 1982. This show was historic, because it was the first at which Adam Horovitz would replace John Berry on guitar. The Beastie Boys line-up that night was Michael Diamond on vocals, Adam Yauch on bass, Kate Schellenbach on the drums, and Adam Horovitz on guitar.

Sarah Cox is a name that you might not recognize. However her name may sound familiar if you purchased the Dusty Trails album, on which she plays bass guitar and Kate Schellenbach plays drums. For those that have never even heard of the Dusty Trails, it was a project that Vivian Trimble created after leaving Luscious Jackson. In addition to the Carcinogens and Dusty Trails, Sarah has played in a couple of others bands alongside of Kate Schellenbach including Skiples and X- Patriots. In addition to those accomplishments, Sarah Cox was also a member of the very first incarnation of the Beastie Boys. Now you have likely been told before that the initial Beastie Boys line-up was Kate Schellenbach, John Berry, Michael Diamond, and Adam Yauch. However, that is not necessarily the truth. That is the first line-up to record a put out an officially release: Polly Wog Stew (recorded in December 1981 and released on Ratcage Records in 1982). But, to clarify, the very first Beastie Boys line-up was actually slightly different. It featured Sarah Cox on bass guitar, Adam Yauch on vocals, Michael Diamond on drums, and John Berry on guitar. This information, which you "heard it here first," was, derived from a hand-written Beastie Boys family tree that John Berry, Jeremy Shatan and Michael Diamond constructed together back in 1981!

Whereas we don't know much of anything regarding drummer Alex Brown, we know a fair amount about Kate Schellenbach. Perhaps best known for her work behind the drums in the band Luscious Jackson, Kate Schellenbach has also worked with groups such as the Lunachicks and the Indigo Girls. She was also in the Beastie Boys from 1981 to 1984. What prompted her departure? Rick Rubin. Kate left the Beastie Boys when she was made to feel unwelcome. She did not leave immediately after Rick began his role as manager and DJ, she went on the road for a few shows with the band once Rick Rubin signed on. Yet, it was clear from the start that Rubin had a different direction for the band in mind…one that did not include Kate Schellenbach.

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