Poison Idea was started in 1980 in Portland, Oregon, by vocalist Jerry A. (Lang). Within a year, the band had a solid lineup with drummer Dean Johnson, guitarist Tom Roberts (aka Pig Champion), and bassist Glen Estes. The band was motivated by the Germs and Black Flag, and took their musical cues from bands such as Discharge and SOA. Pushing the speed limits of contemporary punk rock, they played raw and angry hardcore the likes of which had rarely been heard before (or since). Their 1983 debut EP, Pick Your King, is a classic and arguably the best hardcore record ever released. Its subsequent followup, Record Collectors are Pretentious Assholes (featuring Pig Champion's substantial collection on the cover), saw Chris "Tense" replacing Glen on bass. Both were put out on a small label from Eugene, Oregon called Fatal Erection.
In 1986, Poison Idea released the aptly titled Kings of Punk LP on Pushead's Pusmort label. By this time, the band's sound had changed from manic, breakneck thrash, to a more driving, Motorhead-influenced attack - losing none of their intensity, anger, or nihilism. In the next few years, Poison Idea's lineup (mainly the rhythm section) changed several times. 1987's War All the Time was somewhat of a misstep - nowhere near as powerful as their previous output - although the two EPs released the next year both had good material.
By 1989, Poison Idea seemed to pull it together; after trouble with record companies and distributors in the past, they started their own label, American Leather, and began by reissuing their 1982 demo. The band recorded the excellent Discontent 7" and also found their most stable lineup in years: Jerry A., Pig Champion, Myrtle Tickner, and Thee Slayer Hippie (although the second guitarist seemed to switch between "Mondo" and Aldine Strichnine). In 1990, Poison Idea released the classic Feel the Darkness LP, successfully combining (where so, so many others had failed) the best elements of hardcore and hard rock for a dark, powerful sound.
In the next three years, Poison Idea put out several more records on American Leather - two more full-lengths, a string of 7"s, and an LP collection of all covers. When Pig Champion decided to leave the band in 1993, Poison Idea called it quits. However, a few years later in 1996, the band briefly reformed and recorded a 7" for Taang!, who also reissued (again) most of their early catalog.