Friday, April 18, 2008

Jules Masse - Alone In A Crowd

I'll never forget it...Enuf, along with Life's Blood, Vision and Bold were playing at Rutgers's Scott Hall in the fall of '88. Enuf were the opening band and I was very attentively tuned into their set. At one point, Enuf's front man, AJ, looks over to the side of the stage and puts a song out to Jules from Side By Side, who was watching on. AJ goes on to drop the bomb on Jules's new band called Alone In A Crowd, said they were a mix between Negative Approach and Last Rights and said to watch out for them. Being a huge fan of Side By Side and considering they had recently broken up, I was ecstatic over the fact that Jules was starting something new.

Over the next few months following that Scott Hall show, I acquired a cassette tape rough mix of the soon to be released Alone In A Crowd 7". When I first laid ears on this I was blown into oblivion. It wasn't as good as Side By my opinion, it was better. Jules's voice was stellar, just simply an as-good-as-it-gets type of hardcore vocals. The music was hard as nails and almost made you want to kick someone's teeth in. I was a fan, I was hooked and I wanted more.

Soon after hearing the 7" recording, I got my hands on yet another Alone In A Crowd recording. This one was the live set from their one and only show at the Anthrax in Norwalk Connecticut. You know the show: Judge, Hogan's Heroes, Alone In A Crowd and Chain Of Strength... definitely a show I wouldn't have minded attending had I been able to. But back to this live tape, it opens with Jules yelling, "Is anybody there? Does anybody care? Does anybody see what I see? Or am I just alone in a fucking crowd?!?!" That intro alone sent shivers down my spine. That was just the beginning. Song intro after song intro, Jules delivers non-stop, top-shelf commentary. Maybe to this day, some of the coolest stage banter I've ever heard in 20 plus years of hardcore. How can you beat, "If you are sick of people going back on words that they say, if you are sick of people that are straight edge one day and no edge the next, if you are sick of people lying, then sing along, this song is called Commitment!" And what about a simple quote like, "This song goes out to the Youth Crew... old and new, this song is called Teenager In A Box!" Honestly, this live tape is priceless and again, a constant source of quotes that give you chills.

Fast forward to late 1989/early 1990 and my friend Tony and I are working on the second issue of our fanzine, Common Sense. We made it a goal to try and get an interview with Jules regarding Alone In A Crowd. Thinking back, I can't quite remember how the interview came together, but I do know that Tony eventually tracked Jules down and the interview happened. Common Sense number two was released in early 1990 to a very limited release. My dad had them copied at his work, so we pretty much got as much as he could get done. I'm not sure how many were printed, but I'm guessing it was around 100 or less. I think we sold all of them at one City Gardens show, maybe a few going out in the mail. So considering most people have never seen the second issue of Common Sense, I thought it would be cool to reprint this one particular interview. Maybe I'll reprint more of the interviews that appeared in the future, we'll see how it goes. Enjoy this one for now and if you have a copy of that Alone In A Crown live tape, play it while reading this interview, it can only enhance the experience. -TM DCXX

Why are Alone In A Crowd breaking up?

Well, originally the band was only supposed to be a project. This recording is going to be the final thing. Our original line up was Carl of Raw Deal on bass, Lars and Rob from Uppercut playing guitar and drums and this kid Howie playing guitar. I got this crazy idea of actually being a band, so we got the new line up and then I found out I didn't have the time or effort to do another band. I'm real pleased with the way it came out, it's good music and it's a good message.

How would you describe the sound of Alone In A Crowd?

It's been compared to as a cross between the Cro-Mags and Last Rights, but that's up to other people to decide. There's a lot of different stuff in there.

So It's definitely hardcore then, right?

I like to think of it as that. I don't know if you would think of it as that but it's not like Side By Side. There's not a mosh part every 15 seconds.

What is the lyrical content of Alone In A Crowd?

Well, I think the record is going to be call "Commitment". I'm not really sure, it's up to Brian from Flux Records, he's printing up the covers. It's just about sticking to your guns, which I think nobody does and it's annoying to think that I follow people who say things that are honorable and then not live up to it. Like they'll say, "Well, you should have a lactose free diet" or "You shouldn't kill animals". Here I am, doing my my best to get rid of dairy products and here they are, eating pizza and waring leather sneakers. I'm not snapping on Youth Of Today or anybody, that's just an example. It just bugs me that here I am, I'm trying to do something right, everyone can talk real big but they can't stick it out.

How was the one show you played with Judge, Hogan's Heros and Chain Of Strength in November of 1988?

It was great. The crowd was incredibly receptive.

Do you think they would have been as receptive if you weren't Jules from Side By Side?

No! (Laughter) To be terribly honest, I hate that rockstar shit. I think it was kinda people who were looking forward to see if it was really good or not.

What are your future plans as a person?

Basically I'm going to CCNY. Probably go to diving school because that's really what I want to do.

Can I ask a few Side By Side quesions?

Yeah sure, I don't care.

Why did Side By SIde break up?

The other people got better offers. They weren't happy with what I wanted to do with the band.

What's the deal with "Backfire"? Some of those lyrics were questionable.

"Backfire" I co-wrote the lyrics to that song and basically what it means to me is that there are people out there who have a real hard guy act. Like these guys come in from Jersey, go down to the projects and beat up some kids, five on one and then split so they have some story to tell their friends and the people on the lower east side are like, "Wait a minute, when two hundred project kids sweep through Thompson Square Park with bats, it's not right". There's a point where you have to say, "Wait, that's bullshit". A lot of people thought it was a violent song and it counteracted "Violence To Fade", my attitudes changed though. I thought we could stop violence, but I guess I was proven wrong because the more I sang about it, the more it happened, it was ridiculous. Maybe I weakened, maybe I gave in, but no one really deserves to get their ass beaten.

What's your definition of "Hard" in hardcore?

Basically, this is it. I don't care what anybody says, it's not how many tattoos you have, it's not how bad you walk or how bad you talk. It's weather you stand behind what you say. You don't go from being a peace punk to going to a nazi, that's soft. Being hard is standing behind your beliefs.

Final comments?

How can I finish this one up good? Ya know, I've come to a point in my life where I've accomplished all that I want. Side By Side was a damn good band and Alone In A Crowd was a damn good project. The records are good and sure, I'm proud of that stuff, but I really wish I could have gone further. To have a good band you gotta have time and I don't have any. Plus don't let anybody talk anything about me because I haven't swayed from what I believe.

Does it feel strange to be so young and have accomplished so much?

What do you mean, "To be so young", I feel ancient man! Then I look at Billy, the bass player of Side By Side and he's 26, he's seen it since the beginning. It's too changing for me, I guess I'm old fashioned. I go downtown now, there's no one I know. I see someone I know once in a blue moon. It's not my place anymore, but I just hope they don't fuck it up. I hope they don't screw up what we worked for.


DFX said...

Good Stuff. I actually have that Common Sense Issue. I got 2 different version of it. Can you shed any light on that?

John Committed said...

Hey Tim / Gordo -- Can we "swap" blog links? Ours is "If You Cared" at

It's a hxc / sports / fun / band blog, run by 4 Cleveland dudes in RIGHT IDEA (I'm just one of them). Not updated EVERY day like you, but still pretty often.

Frank said...

I cut up Common Sense and posted it all over my planner for high school. great times.

Los Jacklos said...

What a good interview at the end. I especially liked his description of "Hardcore".

I could read interviews with Jules all day, I love his no bullshit attitude.

If you could find him and get a modern day interview with him, that would be great.

Keep up the good work.

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