Monday, June 9, 2008

America's Hardcore - Part II

Here is the promised second half of the interview with AHC singer Danny Slam, done by Tony Rettman. Part one is here if you missed it:



What were some of the more memorable AHC shows and why? What were some of the more memorable shows you saw back then whether or not AHC was on the bill?

Memorable AHC shows include early April 1983 opening at the Rollerworks for Minor Threat, Suicidal Tendencies and others. This is our show that is seen on the Flipside video. Huge place, big crowd with people stage diving during our set, even though we were the first band on. Two weeks later we played in Frisco twice, the first at the Tool & Die with Secret Hate. I remember this show because I got in a fight with Bob Noxious (Fuckups) while slamming during another band.

The second show was at the On Broadway with Minor Threat, 7 Seconds and others. That trip was an incredible experience. We felt like we had "made it" playing shows away from home. Also memorable was our little mini tour with the Circle Jerks to Las Vegas, Phoenix (where I sang from the top of the wrestling cage) and Tucson (playing to a packed house!) in September 1983. I remember all gigs as being a huge rush with tons of butterflies as we got on stage and prepared to start. Then an amazing feeling of letting go and raging through our set with unabashed enthusiasm, screaming the lyrics as loudly and energetically as possible.

Memorable shows for me are too many to count. Fear at the Whiskey with a line of crazy fuckers from Venice around the front of the building; the most crazy slam pit during Suicidal at the Olympic; driving with Circle One to Frisco for Eastern Front and seeing Wasted Youth's drummer get knocked out by a flying whiskey bottle; getting beat up by the LAPD outside a Hollywood show; my first slamming at the Whiskey for the Circle Jerks; punks doing the frog stomp during the Vandals in San Pedro; the first time I saw Minor Threat at Alpine Village; slamming on a manic dust high during the Necros (ED. NOTE: Can you imagine that shit?); stage diving and breaking my wrist during the Misfits at Mendiolis (2 weeks before the riots); the last two Bards Appollo shows with Vicious Circle in the crowd and John from Circle One stomping through the pit in his trademark plaid pants - that dude was bigger than fucking life.

The thing I find interesting about bands like AHC or Justice League or Stalag 13 is the fact you were (in my opinion) influenced bythe D.C. or Midwest scenes more so than the scene going on around you. Am I correct in this assumption? If so, was it a conscious reaction to maybe start a scene more based around the ideals represented by the D.C. bands other than the L.A. scene which may or may not had nothing going on but kids hanging out getting wasted?

As I said above, we were definitely influenced by bands from all over the country, but also by local bands. It was a mix. The foremost thing we cared about was playing HC music. Our lyrics were a mix of fuck you LA punk attitude and an idealistic positive outlook. So our immediate environment had its influence, and part of that was definitely going to shows and getting drunk and then going crazy when the music hit your gut. But as we listened to more and more bands from all over, and reading their lyrics, we started caring more about putting out a positive message about going to the shows and supporting your favorite bands, not being rock stars (like the bigger LA bands were becoming), and staying out of trouble.

What were the out of town shows AHC played like?

Exciting times. For the most part the kids in each town would be into what we were doing. The main thing I cared about was if people slammed during our set. For the most part, they did.


Were you friendly and/or did you know the people that would eventually form Uniform Choice? I get the feeling they probably started up a year or so after you guys broke up. Am I correct? Anyways, were you aware of their 'borrowing' of your t-shirt design and using song titles similar to AHC ones? How do you feel about that?

I have no problem with influencing UC. I think they opened for one of our last shows. I certainly was aware of them towards the end of our time.

Here's how I was made aware of AHC: My brother started taking me to HC shows in the summer of '84. It seemed every band that came from the west coast and/or just got back from there via touring had AHC stickers on their gear. I remember one being plastered on Die Kruezen's boom box. It was also around that time the Mystic 'Copulation' comp came out with 'Cops are Criminals' on it. Then I saw photos of the Stretchmarks wearing your shirts...then of course Jeff Nelson on the back of the 'Salad Days' 7" etc. My intial reaction was 'Damn! These guys really seem to know how to get the word around about their band!' Were you guys always giving out shirts/stickers to touring bands? How did Jeff Nelson get that shirt?

Yeah, I think Drew deserves credit. He made the stickers and t-shirts and we gave them out to people at shows, but mostly just to the kids that came to our shows. We played shows with Die Kruezen (who I loved) and Stretch Marks and Minor Threat, so they got stickers directly from us, and my guess would be that Drew gave shirts to other bands, too. I know we sold a few through the mail for something like $4, so maybe that's how Youth of Today got one.

Why didn't AHC ever do a 7" or something in their time of existence?

That's a sad tale. We were practicing a lot at Sin 34's Spinhead studio, getting ready to do some sort of album when I quit the band. I blame myself for the band's demise. I was in a weird space and thought, foolishly at 19 years old, that I needed to be a responsible dude and not go running off on a big US/Canada tour that we were planning and leave my live-in girlfriend and our 4 dogs to fend for themselves. Funny thing is, that girl was out of the picture not all that long afterward. It's a big regret in my life, not going on that tour and doing the album.

Were you aware of the influence AHC had on some of the late 80s Straight Edge bands like Youth of Today?

Only from seeing one of our shirts on the cover of one of the YOT albums!

How did you get the nickname 'Danny Slam'?

As I said before, I would get to gigs early and pretty much slam during every set of every band. If I liked a band, I slammed. I think Darin Price was the friend who came up with the name. Guess it stuck b/c everyone kept calling me that.

Why did AHC break-up? What was your last show?

Our last gig was the end of October with Necros, Decry and the Corruptors at a hall in Sun Valley that I put shows on sometimes.

Please breakdown the recording sessions AHC did. Where and when they were recorded, how many songs there were (and which ones), and were they intentionally recorded for those Mystic comps or for other reasons? Did you record with Doug Moody? Any good stories from the session?

We recorded at two separate studios. To be honest I don't remember why we were recording, only that it felt like we had really made it for real. Each time we recorded a handful of songs, maybe 3 or 4 at each place. Once was at somebody's professional home studio and the other was at Mystic with Doug Moody. I remember it was weird to sing the songs by myself while listening to the rest of the band. Very weird. Took some getting used to. It's a real bummer, b/c I'm sure there are more studio recordings than just the 3 songs we have on MySpace: "Open Your Eyes" was put on a We Got Power compilation, while "Cops are Criminals" and "Born Prejudice" were put on Mystic comps. I have no fucking idea what the other songs were, or where those recordings are. I remember going back to get our shit from Mystic after Drew's brother, who was a lawyer, told us that the contract we signed was lame. But that went nowhere.

Please break down where everyone from AHC ended up after the band and how they are living today. Also feel free to give any final comments.

I still talk to Scott who is a horror screen writer in Hollywood, Pat who still digs skating, and Raffi who runs a jewelry business and actually made the rings that my wife and I wear. I've tried in vain to get ahold of Drew, John and Aaron.

It was fun going down memory lane with this interview.


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