By the mid-'80s, Daniels started booking bands when a few rock 'n' rollers and punks happened upon the pub.

"The early '90s you literally felt like you were taking your life in your hands," says Ron Elba. "When I hear people say it's in a bad neighborhood now. I'm like, "You don't even know what it was back in the early '90s."

Pickett: The Miami music scene had lost its latest club, Flynn's, around '83. There had been 150 to 200 fans every weekend.

Rat Bastard: That was the legendary punk rock place. But when Flynn's went out, Dave had the whole ball rolling. All those bands started coming to Churchill's. I didn't really go there. I'd snuck in to get a beer. But one day, some punk rockers like Todd Jenkins and Malcolm Tent, they walked in and Dave was like, "Oh yeah, I used to book Manfred Mann and Eric Clapton and all these people." So, they're like "Wow!" He's like, "Would you like to do music here?" And they go, "Yeah, we'll play right on the fucking floor."

Noise guru Rat Bastard circa 1996.
Miami New Times photo archive
Noise guru Rat Bastard circa 1996.
Noise guru Rat Bastard in 2012.
Photo by Marta Xochilt Perez
Noise guru Rat Bastard in 2012.

Location Info


Churchill's Pub

5501 NE 2nd Ave.
Miami, FL 33137

Category: Bars and Clubs

Region: Central Dade


Daniels: People tell me that they played Churchill's, beside the front door, before we knocked through the wall. But I don't think so. There were dartboards there. They would've ended up with a dart in the forehead.

Malcolm Tent, founder of Trash American Style record store: There was this little expatriate community of Brits, and they would play darts and eat their kidney pies and stuff. It wasn't really a hub of frenetic activity.

Rat Bastard: I came in here, and I says, "Hey, man, I've got a band. Myrin & the 2 Wotz," my high school band. We played this show and all these college kids showed up, over 150, maybe 200 people. Dave was the fucking bartender. He almost had a fucking heart attack 'cause it was three deep of these crazy fuckers with pitchers, going, "Ehhhhh! Come on, man! Refill it!"

Daniels: About that same time, Charlie Pickett came in to see me. So we sat at the bar to talk, because I'd seen Charlie play and I'd liked his band... After an hour, I said, "Are you going to come and play for us?" And he said, "Oh yeah, I'll come." ... And the first time that Charlie played, we had 250 people.

Pickett: When Churchill's started doing music, we'd go in there for sound check and we'd annoy the last of the regulars, because I don't know an amp setting below 10. These guys would shake their heads, finish their beers, and then split.

Tent: I remember specifically there was an uneasy sort of coexistence between us and the Churchill's regulars, who just wanted to come in on a weekend night and eat bangers and mash. We'd be there at the door, trying to collect money for the band, and they didn't quite understand why they had to pay to get into their Purple Hearts' bar.

Rat Bastard: Over time, the neighborhood changed and there were less drinkers.

Daniels: The old-timers would die. Literally.

By the early '90s, a growing Churchill's scene incubated essential Miami acts like Harry Pussy, Kreamy 'Lectric Santa, Holy Terrors, and the Goods. Rat Bastard's regular Thursday-night shows were key.

Rat Bastard: Dave gave me Thursday nights. Shit, it had to be '88, maybe.

Daniels: We've had this sort of very special relationship with Rat. Early days, Rat was wonderful for Churchill's. He looked after all the sound equipment, for which he really wasn't getting paid.

Brian Franklin, singer/songwriter and co-creator of Hearing Damage: The Rat Opera: The brilliance of Dave to sit back and let noise develop. Let Rat drive away crowds, before people realized this is something that will attract crowds. Let the scene catch up with Rat instead of forcing Rat to fit into the scene. I don't know if it was brilliant from a business standpoint, but in the long term, it worked out. It certainly worked out for the artists, and it certainly worked out for the art.

Tent: Whether Dave understood or cared about any of that or not is really open for debate, but the fact that he just allowed it to happen was enough.

Daniels: I was tempted at times to say, "Rat, do you think we could bend this a little, do a little more of that and a little bit less of this?" But the way that Rat created this movement [laughs] ... I don't call it music. Maybe some form of entertainment.

Tent: It was definitely a magical time because we had a whole little scene going on. So many great bands like Prom Sluts, the Morbid Opera, and non-punk rock people like Leo Casino, a Liberty City band. There were a couple of exiled hippies in town, and they would do their thing and had a sort of anarchist political bent. It was really a case of anything goes.

Pickett: At Churchill's, it was never just punk. It was independent music, and not only rock. There was a whole influx of University of Miami jazz people, and they did a very avant-garde thing. That's why the place was so infectious. No band ever went into Churchill's thinking, "Oh man, I have to play this and nothing except this."

Rob Elba, member of the Holy Terrors and co-creator of Hearing Damage: The Rat Opera: There were other clubs that weren't like that, like Rose's or Stephen Talkhouse. Like with the Holy Terrors, both those places we only played once 'cause they said we were too loud. Churchill's was the only place where everyone could play.

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Pretty obvious why Rat Bastard is one of the worst bands. They don't even know a band's history but claim they do. Cindy Deats was in a band with Scott known as "India I love You" and was never known as Marilyn Manson. 

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