What We Do is Secret

Song Review by

Even by the fast-and-loud standards of the Germs' catalog, "What We Do Is Secret" was a short, blurry burst of a song, running through three verses and a guitar solo in a mere 45 seconds. Musically, "What We Do Is Secret" sounds like the demarcation point between the original Hollywood punk scene, which was just starting to fade away (Screamers, Weirdos, Bags) and the suburban hardcore scene which was beginning to take hold (Middle Class, Black Flag, TSOL). While the Germs seemed to stand out as sloppier, wilder, and more aggressive than the competition in the first few years of Los Angeles punk, as they grew tighter and faster, their style began to influence the suburban beach punk scene, with the new bands taking the Germs's sound -- and Darby Crash's on-stage dementia -- into even more extreme directions. Declaring themselves at once a gang of defective kids excluded from society and a secret army tearing the system down from the inside, "What We Do Is Secret" was an anthem of insurrection from the kids who had been cut out from the world's picture, and Pat Smear's raging guitar, Don Bolles's kinetic drumming, and especially Darby Crash's emphatic snarl of a vocal made it clear this band was designed to scare some people -- and make converts of the others who heard them. However, there's something so powerfully adolescent in the song's "us vs. them" perspective that one can see where it fell outside the lines of what older punks were doing (many of the original Hollywood scenesters had been on the margins of L.A.'s rock scene for some time) while catching the ear of the manic skater and surfer kids who were poised to become California punk's biggest audience. "What We Do Is Secret" was the first song on the Germs's first and only full-length album, (GI); it later became the title song on a posthumous EP of outtakes and live material, and was of course included on the excellent career retrospective (MIA), which featured (GI) in its entirety.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
(GI) 1979 Rhino 0:44
(MIA): The Complete Anthology 1993 Slash / Slash Records 0:44