About a year ago, Tim uploaded the JUDGE “Where It Went” video onto YouTube. We were watching it one day and noticed that someone left a comment about being the band’s roadie. We had known that one of Mike’s friends, Todd Schwartz, was the JUDGE roadie and went onto to also play with Mike in Old Smoke. Having never really heard much about Todd, even though he seemed to be one of the few people from hardcore to remain tight with Mike after JUDGE, we thought it would be cool to see what he had to say about his time with the band and his time afterwards.
For a band that is well chronicled and documented, to me there is still just a general mysteriousness to JUDGE. Think about it: they started out as the brainwork of a young and furiously straight edge Mike Judge, who teamed up with Porcell to create an overly-blunt yet devastatingly raw debut EP that created as many fans as it did enemies…and they ended up a 5 piece metallic hardcore powerhouse that thanked and sampled Harley-Davidson motorcycles and covered When The Levee Breaks, complete with harmonica solo from Todd, on their final release (and all of that is awesome as far as I am concerned). The whole way through, there is absolutely no questioning that they were a straight edge hardcore band to the fucking bone.
I think every time I have been hanging around Porcell I have said, “please just tell me everything possible about JUDGE.” Having never gotten a friend/roadie perspective, I thought Todd might have some cool insights and stories to share.
Todd was cool to talk to and psyched to answer our questions. If you are into paintball, be sure to check out Todd's company and website at: www.sinergypaintball.com -Gordo
Where did it all start for you - getting into hardcore, going to shows, etc?
It all started for me in high school. I was part jock (mohawk and all), and part punk.
Bad Brains. Can you imagine listening to them just before bed? Well I did and it ain’t good for you.
So what was your involvement with JUDGE and the late 80s straight edge scene prior to becoming a JUDGE roadie?
school introduced me to Marcus in NYC when I was home on leave from the Marines and the rest of SHARP was history. I hooked up with Mike through the same mutual friend from high school after getting out of the service and we immediately became best friends. To us it was more about riding Harleys than hardcore. Personally I think Mike had already entered a transitional time in his life moving away from his music while most moved towards it.
By the time Bringin’ It Down was released, JUDGE was one of the biggest hardcore acts in the country without question. What was your perception of their place in a hardcore scene that was headed in a lot of different directions around that time period?
What shows from that time period stand out as the most memorable?
Do you still ride with Mike? What are you guys riding these days?
Nah, I don't get a chance to ride much with Mike these days. I'm a firefighter and ride with a firefighter motorcycle club. Having four kids makes it tough to plan anything.
I love Mike, he is a good man and a better friend. We started Old Smoke, and even though it didn't go far, it kept us close for years riding motorcycles, playing in clubs and just being bikers. Mike is really a talented musician that a lot of JUDGE fans will never get to experience. Out of respect for his privacy I choose to keep mum on him. We still live a mile from one another and see each other from time to time. He is a hard working guy and likes to keep things simple. If there is anybody who will get him to play again, that'll be me. I used to bust his chops but decided to let things go. Being Mike Judge would make Mike happy. What exactly that is is left to the imagination.