Monday, June 23, 2008

Marco / THE ICEMEN - Part II

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All Icemen photos: Ken Salerno


Marco Abularach returns to answer more of our questions about one of NY's hardest: THE ICEMEN.

For part one of this interview:

http://doublecrosswebzine.blogspot.com/2008/06/marco-icemen.html

-Gordo DCXX

What are your feelings on how the 4 songs on the R.I.P EP turned out? What can you recall about recording process for these songs, any specific memories? Which would you cite as your favorite song from this record?

Out of the four songs on the EP three had first been recorded back in the Nola sessions '84-'86 and we were considering using those early recordings as they had a really big sound from the great live room there. Those songs were The Harsh Truth, R.I.P, No Guts No Glory, and since they were recorded during the interim before Carl you could call our "singerless" period, they have rough vocal tracks by me that we would have dubbed over with Carl. But we decided we would do new recordings and thus hopefully have sound continuity with whatever other tracks we decided to use.

We began recording for the EP in 1990 at our downtown studio SD50. Initially there was debate on song choice and also as to how many we would release. In a way we allowed the recording performances help dictate, and we also finalized the agreement with Bill Wilson and his Blackout Records for a four song EP. Noah and I still agree that the sound is actually better on the good old Nola sessions but in our minds at the time the 1990 tracks were "new."

Left on tape from 1990 unfinished were "Take You Down" and "Little Witch," thus "Shadow Out Of Time" was chosen as the final track to be added to complete the four. The speed/thrash "Take You Down" was our most challenging song to perform and would have taken much work to fix it to our liking. "Little Witch" was a precursor to our later songs "You Will Be Mine" and "Back Again." It was also an indication of where we were going, at the very least vocally. The lyrics now demanded melody, and suffice to say, that never came close to occurring in these 1990 sessions no matter how we tried. Hard for me to say which song is my favorite, I suppose The Harsh Truth, although my favorite lyrics would have to be on Shadow Out Of Time.

Which songs performed live do you wish got a formal proper recording?

Actually we have recorded pretty much every song I've written. The question would be to what degree are they completed, as many are missing overdubs and/or vocals and would also need to be mixed. Another question would be how good is the performance on these recordings, as it varies greatly. To answer directly I would say Little Witch, You Will Be Mine, and later songs like Back Again and Let There Be Night. Most of these were moving in a more melodic direction, in addition I had evolved quite a bit lyrically.

What was your chemistry like playing with Mackie? I have always wondered how bassists/guitarists gel with such an incredible drummer like him. Was it just a perfect match or no?

Fantastic. Understand, he was basically the only drummer I ever really played with, until I formed Shadow years later. I learned electric guitar playing with Mackie and Noah. Perfect match for sure, even as teenagers we knew how good he was and our styles grew together through the years.

On a side note, since we've come out of deep freeze and taken a look around I've seen comments on how some of the Icemen shows witnessed were sub-par. We were definitely plagued with some inconsistencies due to lack of rehearsal (largely due to Mackie's time constraints), but when looking closer most of the posts are regarding shows kids attended post '92, most notably at the Grand and a few others. Of course these were disappointing, it was not The Icemen! These were imposters and a poor attempt without the original members... accept no substitute. Amazing that those even remotely interested in the music are still unaware and/or unable to distinguish, the difference was vast.

Similarly, was Mackie always a very tight part of the trio that was you, Noah and Mackie? Sometimes I get the impression that it was definitely the three of you being very close, yet other times I getthe impression maybe it was moreso you and Noah, and Mackie was just the drummer?

Noah and I met as children, Mackie I met in high school so in a sense we all grew up together. Noah is like a brother to me, we were tight with Mack but he's a bit aloof at times so it was a little different. The three of us definitely had a bond though, where we had come from, and all we had shared musically both performing and philosophically. I could see how you might have the impression as him being "just the drummer", there were times where his unavailability and lack of commitment was trying. We certainly rehearsed the bare minimum, if at all. Usually this was just when I had new material and wanted him to learn it, so the three of us would meet in our studio.

There was something magic when the three of us played together, there were times when we might glance over at each other, just a knowing look, we were just flying. He may have always been in a sense a drum mercenary but also that he's been with us since the beginning and was a large part of who we were.
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What was your take on the popular bands of the hardcore scene from '88-'91? Whether it was the Revelation bands, the In-Effect bands, or anyone else, who were bands in the hardcore scene you felt a connection with as friends, or even just enjoyed? Any bands youreally butted heads with or didn't feel deserved the credit they got?

Forgive my naïveté by I really don't know much about that, bands or other labels at the time. I was kind of like the boy in the bubble, only time I listened to hardcore was bands on the bill with us when performing. We did make friends along the way though. The Cro-Mags and us go way back, especially Harley. Leeway were friends of ours, there was a while back in the day when AJ and I would socialize occasionally which is something I rarely did with any of the bands, I had a different world. Other guys like Jimmy G (Murphy's Law), Jimmy Williams (Maximum Penalty), Sob (Merauder) Gavin (Absolution/Burn) were friends and supporters.

Your question regarding negative opinions, there were plenty of bands that were overrated, with bad attitudes and who couldn't play. In fact if you ask me a majority of bands back then couldn't play worth a lick.

How did things develop for Carl to be dismissed? Was it a band decision? Who did the dismissing? How long after this did he recruit other guys to do his version of The Icemen, and did you ever confront him about this?

This was something that evolved over time. Noah's father Gil Evans is a jazz legend and he grew up with music, I too came from a musical and artistic family, I met Mackie attending Laguardia High School of the Arts where he was a music major so we all have a foundation, roots in certain fundamental artistic beliefs. As kids, The Icemen's first couple of years was a start, but as we grew we hoped, expected... no, demanded of ourselves to aspire to higher levels. It was no longer enough for us to have a one dimensional band member, good as frontman, deficient as a singer.

My songwriting was constrained by his limitations and in hand our potential for success was as well, most importantly in our eyes but it is well worth mentioning that these sentiments were clearly echoed by the labels we in contact with as well. For a moment Carl looked into working with a vocal coach but decided against it.

We had already decided to release Carl from our band and Noah surprised me one evening with the news he had informed Carl. By surprise I mean that as difficult a task as it was, I felt responsible enough to deliver the news myself. That I didn't couldn't have helped and I'm sure increased the resentment on his part. It wasn't too long I think when he began performing my songs using my name The Icemen. His henchmen were friends of his who were occasionally our roadies and were part of his band M13.

The first time I saw our name in the paper I thought it was a mistake and went down to CBGB, it was quiet before soundcheck and he wasn't there. Confronted his mates and they dropped some nonsense about how it was their name now. Was of course furious at the time but never did get into it with Carl. Outrage aside, I was always disappointed with the lies and tarnishing of The Icemen's legacy.

It was Noah who presented the idea in 2007, to start thawing The Icemen out with the thought that not only would we set the record straight but more to the point was that The Icemen have some unfinished business to take care of.

[TO BE CONTINUED]
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3 comments:

Artie said...

I challenge you to do an interview with Marco where he doesn't shit talk Carl or blame anyone else but himself for his and his bands' failures.

Actually, better yet, don't do another interview with him and let him wallow in his anger at Carl 20 years later and then maybe he'll realize that Carl is the only reason anyone ever cared about the band, the only reason they got to put out a record and the only reason they got to play outside NYC.

DOUBLE CROSS said...

Do you really take this much time to bash people? Dylan, Gus STRAIGHT EDGE, Marco, seriously man - what's your whole trip here? Do you just run around as a grown man trying to poke holes in people's stories?

As for Marco - Thanks for the challenge. There will be more from him here in the future. I wouldn't mind at all hearing from Carl, so if you know him (and from your vibe you surely must), by all means put him in touch with me. Until then, you are outnumbered in your opinion and I have no idea who you even are.

-Gordo DCXX

ps- Marco rules

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