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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: Lucia Fort, Jessica Skolnik, Jen Krako, Ann Jaeger
It wasn’t an average photo shoot. Capturing the album cover was, according to Ann Jaeger, “a well-organized guerrilla attack.” Jaeger, who was living at the infamous Kansas House along with Chris Richards at the time, recalls the situation. “Meet here, at this time. Wear this. Bring that. We had to meet out in front of a GWU classroom. It was a bit shady sneaking in the building. 20 plus people dressed like we were trying to look inconspicuous,” she says. “As soon as everyone was there, we filed in like we belonged.” Scene vet Jessica Skolnik, who grew up in Silver Spring but lived in Baltimore in 2000, remembers the situation eased up once everyone was indoors. “You pack a bunch of friends into one place and there’s going to be a lot of joking and silliness,” she says. “I remember having a hard time keeping a straight face.”
Skolnik may have lived an hour north, but she was regularly a part of what was going on in D.C. “I drove down there a lot for shows or volunteering or activist projects or just to hang out,” she says. It wasn’t just for cheap thrills, either. She says punk rock didn’t just change her life; it saved it. “I had a really rough childhood and early young adulthood,” she explains. “Punk was absolutely the thing I threw myself into with all my heart that allowed me to be around other weird kids who were possibly also struggling with difficult or traumatic issues. Making music and supporting DIY bands… turning that anger and frustration into something productive.”
Not content just to play in kick-ass punk bands like Dead Teenagers, Jaeger delved into the scene as hard as anyone could. Back then, Jaeger managed Galaxy Hut, ran the door at Black Cat, booked Fort Reno, and set up house shows at Kansas Street. “The people that I hung out with were all brothers and sisters to each other, helping out and joining in. The photo shoot is a perfect example of what was happening at the time. That photo is an awesome time capsule.”
As a musician with a fair amount of touring experience under her belt, Jaeger jumped on the road with Q and Not U for the No Kill tour. After the release of the album, she flew out to L.A. to meet up with the band, which was touring with Ted Leo at the time, and she roadied for about three weeks. “None of them had toured that far from home before,” she says. “I had already done two or three U.S. tours. I remember they got pretty homesick on that tour.” They may have missed their friends, but that didn’t stop the band from coming up with a clever touring device. “To my knowledge, Matt [Borlik] invented the driving sock,” says Jaeger. “A tube sock with the foot cut off to prevent trucker’s tan—brilliant.”
With the band’s increasing popularity, Skolnik enjoyed watching the young fans at their bigger shows. She says she enjoyed “seeing so many teenagers and thinking that my friends had become a gateway band—-one of the first bands you fall in love with that lead you to explore the world of DIY through their influences, and that just… filled me with a surge of love for the guys.” Some of her favorite shows involved Richards’ odd attire. “There were some great vests,” she says. “There was a hunting one I think, and a vaguely “Thriller”-esque one.” Dressing up culminated in a particularly memorable Halloween show. “They appeared as a ’80s hardcore cover band. I mean, there have been some enthusiastic singalongs to ‘Waiting Room’ in my life, but none quite so much fun as that one.”
Lately, many of the young punks on the album cover have settled down. Lucia Fort—-a regular in the scene at the time—married Josh Blair, formerly of Supersystem. Jen Krako, who had just begun dating Chris Richards when the photo was taken, and they stayed together for three years. Jaeger’s last tour was about six years ago with Le Tigre, and since then she’s settled in the sands of New Mexico. Skolnik relocated to Chicago for work back in 2005, after feeling stagnant in D.C.
The District has certainly changed in their absence. Skolnik notes: “I drove back with my boyfriend and a good friend of ours for the Unrest reunion a few months ago and was genuinely shocked at how many condos had gone up… Silver Spring was basically unrecognizable.” Jaeger echoes similar sentiments, citing the influx of “yuppies” and “assholes.” “If someone that hadn’t been there in 10 years got out at the U Street metro stop, they’d throw up,” she says. Jaeger notes she still gets phone calls from friends when they see her on the No Kill cover while flipping through LPs at record shops. “I was part of something rad,” she says. “We all knew it, right from the start.”
In case you missed it, here’s the rest of the series.