Thursday, April 10, 2008

Alan Cage - NYHC Drumming Phenom



If you are like me, then the first three and a half seconds of "Shall Be Judged" make you want to punch a hole through a car windshield. Alan Cage is a man of few words, but of gigantic beats. Try to play along to the Beyond LP on drums and he will have you in tears (and yeah, he was 18). Somehow, the planets aligned and he is about to bust out with 108. Talk about too much skill on stage. I have heard Cage rap about hardcore very rarely, so I figured what better time? -Gordo

1. Where did drums enter the picture for you and how/why did you pick up
the sticks?

I started banging around on my Mom's pots and pans when I was really
young. She eventually got tired of that and bought me my first drum set when I was 11 or 12. I'm not sure why I started playing, I guess I just always loved music and wanted to play and drums seemed like the most accessible instrument.

2. The early to mid 80s punk/hardcore scene offered up all sorts of wild
drummers, but there weren't tons that played hard and fast, as well technical and complex. Who were your influences both in and out of hardcore, and even in Beyond, was it a conscious effort to play well more than a few notches above the typical hardcore drummer and clearly stand out?

I think my influences as a drummer really came for the most part before I was into any hardcore music. Mostly rock and roll stuff. John Bonham from Led Zeppelin was a big one for me. Stuart Copeland from the Police. Some Reggae as well, especially Sly Dunbar who is a really influential session guy from Jamaica and played on tons and tons of records from there. In terms of trying to play really technical or well, I don't think that ever really meant much to me. I think I just wanted to make the songs sound as good as I could.

3. Let's talk Beyond...for young guys at the time, you were all well
advanced at your instruments. What are your memories writing and playing those songs with Tom, Vic, and Kev?

My memories are mostly just practicing in my Mom's basement. As far
as I can remember, Tom did almost all of the writing and he always came in with his ideas really well formed so the songs would come together really quickly. Those guys were all really easy to work with.

4. What do you hear when you go back to listen to your drumming on
the Beyond LP?

To be honest I don't think I've ever really gone back and listened to it. It's pretty much the same with all the records I've done. If I'm involved in the mixing I'll listen to it tons and tons during the process but once it's over I've never really gone back and listened to the stuff I've played on much.

5. What are your fondest memories of playing in Beyond?


Just going out and playing weekend shows on the east coast. We did a
lot of that. It was the first time I got a chance to get out of NY playing music. It just felt really liberating, meeting new people and knowing there was all these different cities out there with scenes of there own that you could go play. We had a lot of fun on those trips.

6. Who were your favorite hardcore bands in general during that time period?


The Bad Brains were by far my favorite. I liked the Cro-Mags and
Agnostic Front a lot as well.

7. Which drummers from the late 80s hardcore scene do you think were the best?


I think Mackie was really the big stand out for me. Dave Grohl as
well when he was playing with Scream. I saw them once when he was with them and it really blew me away.

8. BURN...what can you recall about the formation of this band and the
original concept for the sound, delivery, and overall vibe?

I just recall Gavin coming in like a whirlwind like he always did.
That guy had so much energy. It wasn't even so much like he would ask people to join a band, it was more like he would burst into the room talking a million miles an hour and before anyone knew what was going on they were in a band already. I think some of those bands might have been broken up before anybody even knew they were in it. Anyway, he was prolific as hell, always writing songs, and Chaka was always working hard writing lyrics. The drag of that band is that there was tons of really good music that never got released. Gavin wrote so much music that I don't think he ever went back and used much of it. Once a band was over he would just trash the stuff and move on. Write all new songs. And then Chaka, between him and Gavin, there was a lot of energy with the two of them without a doubt.

9. BURN and surely Quicksand showcased again a progression in your skills. What were you influenced by as time went on and how did that get incorporated?

I don't know really. I don't think I thought about it much in those terms. All that stuff just seemed to come together pretty organically.

10. How did the hardcore change in your eyes into the 1990s?


The scene in NY had gotten really violent by that point and I had
pretty much lost interest because of that. There were a bunch of really great heavy bands in NY at that time but I wouldn't call them hardcore bands. I thought Helmet were great and Orange 9mm too, but I never thought of that stuff as part of the hardcore scene. I was busy with Quicksand, and that was a really great time in my life.

11. The re-formation of BURN again had you behind the kit. What had
changed and what had not during the band's extended hiatus?

Not much had changed really. Except for getting to play with Manny
and Vic. It was a really short little thing that we did though. I mean, we had really just gotten together to record a few songs and play a few shows. There was no plan to try and keep it going as a band. It was a lot of fun playing with those guys again though.

12. 108...aside from the Vic connection, I would not have guessed you to
link up with this band. Had you been a fan? What are you expecting out of this experience?

Yea, it really is the Vic connection. I wasn't really familiar with
their music. I just ran into Vic a while back and he asked me if I would be interested in doing a tour with them in South America. I said "sure." I don't have a ton of expectations other than I think it will be a lot of fun.

13. What hardcore shows, both played and attended, still stick out to you
from 20 years later?

As far as a show I played, for some reason a Beyond show in Buffalo
sticks out in my head. It was with Warzone and we were really late and almost missed it. I think the reason it sticks out is because the room was so unbearably hot. The place was just packed with people and the ceiling was dripping down humidity on everyone. As for attended, that's easy. The two nights the Bad Brains played at the Ritz after "I Against I" came out. Mind blowing. I also remember a really good Cro-Mags show in that same time period. It was also at the Ritz with GBH and the Cro-Mags just killed it.

2 comments:

Reboard said...

nicest guy ever
we tour togheter in brasil when he was playing drums for seaweed
he is amazing!

Vergil said...

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