It was 1974 and Mark Morrison (The Jack, Harlot) was attending Bonneville Junior High School. Mark had always loved music and received early inspiration from his 7th grade music teacher, Mr. Baldwin. With a little influence from bands such as Judas Priest and Kiss, Mark was on a due course for his rock ’n’ roll journey.
Jump to 1985 and Mark has just departed from the Salt Lake City-based band “The Jack” where he was playing bass guitar. He was looking to form a new band that matched his own vision. Mark attended an Obsession concert at Salt Lake’s Haunted Mill and Obsession’s guitar player Jay Gough—aka Jake Oslo (Obsession [Salt Lake], Dark Haven, Megattack, Rag Dolls, Engineered Society Project)—caught his eye. Mark wanted to recruit Jay and Obsession’s keyboard player Alan Ludington (Obsession [Salt Lake], Dark Haven, Tremor, Moviescreen, Terra) to his new project.
Soon Jay and Alan were in a new band called Dark Haven. Mark approached Jay about him and Alan joining his band, but Jay insisted that he would not join up with Mark unless he could bring Dark Haven drummer Marty Deland (Dark Haven, Truce, Halloween [L.A.], Rockdolls, Power) who was the older brother of future Hard Knox bassist Kenny Deland. Mark hadn’t ever seen Marty play and decided to check him out at the next Dark Haven gig held at the Salt Lake Fairgrounds opening for Rail. Dark Haven played great, enough that Rail tried recruiting Alan to come play keyboards for them. After walking off stage and taking a few photos, Marty (only 19 years old) grabbed a beer unaware that there were six undercover SLC police officers watching him. He was seized by one of the undercover officers and Marty started swingin’, thinking that this guy was looking for a fight. He laid out 3 more undercover cops before being gang tackled by the remaining officers. Marty was cuffed and tossed into the back of the squad car and hauled to the police station. Mark thought that this was the kind of attitude he wanted in his new band.
The band began rehearsing under the name “Loften” which was after the stage name of former Dark Haven guitarist Rodney Merrill (aka Rod Loften). Loften recruited Dark Haven vocalist Dave Wehry (Obsession, Dark Haven, Loften), but after a few practices Dave and the band parted ways. Mark and Jay went down to the local bar for a drink and to check out a punk band called “The Pedestrians” that was getting some rave reviews in the Utah punk scene. Mark thought that they may be able to get vocalist Bert White (Angle, Indecent Exposure, The Pedestrians) to switch genres and bring that punk rock attitude to the metal scene. Bert was looking for a change and decided to try the metal thing.
Loften had a show set up at local bar “Uncle Alberts”, which ended up selling out. Many fans and musicians alike wanted to see this new band that Mark had formed. Many were still in shock that Mark would leave “The Jack” (top metal act in the area at the time). Some of the crowd came out to see if this new endeavor would be a total failure, or an enormous success. The stage had been set and it was time to put up or shut up. Loften opened with the song “Calling on Your Love” and the audience was hooked from the first note. Part way through the set, a task force of police officers quickly overtook the club after receiving a tip that some of the bandmembers were underage. Jay and Mark both had fake IDs and were able to pull one over on the officers. As the band was getting ready to start back into their set, Bert said into the mic, “Who called the Vice squad,” referring to the officers. Jay looked at Bert and said, “we should totally call ourselves VICE.” Bert yelled out to the crowd, “We are now known as VICE” and the rest was history. The show was a huge success and didn’t leave any disappointed.
Vice played several live shows over the next few months, one a headliner of nearly three thousand at the Utah State Fairgrounds. This night featured bands playing in multiple concert halls at the fairgrounds. Vice was playing in the largest building (Fairgrounds Coliseum), and The Dead Kennedys were playing in the smaller venue (Horticulture Building) which caused more tension between the punk fans and the metal fans when they crossed paths. Many fights broke out as the police department struggled to keep things under control.
The band entered the studio (Audio Visions) to cut a 5-track demo. As the band was shopping for a label, they began to get a lot of local attention. Two of the people that took notice were Rick Jackson (Mannequin, The Jack, Megattack, Rag Dolls, Asphalt Jungle) and Parrish Hultquist (Moviescreen, Megattack, Wolfgang). These two musicians decided to start a supergroup after the band “The Jack” had just broken up and they had their eyes fixed on Jay Gough. They approached Jay and asked if he’d like to join them in creating what was to become the biggest 80’s metal band from Utah “Megattack.” Jay jumped at the chance to play in this new supergroup and to have the opportunity to share the stage and to write songs with Parrish. Though this was a very tough decision for Jay to make, it was what he called his “worst regret.” This move ended up being the demise of the band Vice.
Vice did not try and replace Jay and quickly dispersed. Bert went back to his old band “The Pedestrians” and his old punk band then became a hard rock band. Alan left music and moved to the northwest to focus on a business career. Marty joined the Salt Lake thrash metal band Truce, but that was short-lived. Mark and Marty shot down to Los Angeles to try and make it on the Sunset Strip. Mark and Marty joined up with Phil Sandoval (Armored Saint, Life After Death), but this project quickly fizzled out. Mark headed back to Salt Lake and joined the band Vamp, which quickly changed its name to Harlot. Marty joined the L.A.-based band Halloween which changed its name to “Rockdolls” due to a Michigan band with the same name. Rockdolls became one of the club favorites at the historic Troubadour. Marty exited Rockdolls due to ego issues within the band.
The 80’s came and went, and each member of Vice had been scattered to various parts of the country. The 5-track album that Vice had recorded back in 1985 was now an afterthought. In the mid 90’s the studio that once recorded this short-lived band burned to the ground. The original masters had been destroyed and the chances of these songs ever seeing the light of day were dwindling.
In the summer of 2002, Marty and Mark meet up at Kenny Deland’s house for a BBQ and that is where they end up meeting two young rockers named Josh Dowdle and Jake Dowdle (Utah Metal Twins). Josh and Jake were coming up to speed on the Utah metal scene by listening to all the stories being told. This BBQ left an impression on these two rockers which would pay big dividends to Mark and Marty in the future. Sixteen years later, in 2018, Josh and Jake created their own record label “Metallic Blue Records” and they reached out to Mark and company to see if they would like to release their recordings for the world to hear. The entire band was immediately on board, but there was only one known cassette and it was not in working condition. Marty did a thorough search of his old band stuff and to his amazement and a stroke of luck, he found his old Vice cassette. With the help from Andrew Thomas at AMT Soundsmith Studios, the original recordings were digitally remastered, ensuring that this project will now never be lost or forgotten.