Monday, April 27, 2009

Shaun Sheridan - The Anthrax Part III

Gorilla Biscuits sing along at the Norwalk Anthrax

Taken from Impact Fanzine issue two, here are some more outtakes of a lengthy interview with Shaun Sheridan who ran the legendary Anthrax club in Connecticut... -Gordo DCXX

The reason for the move to Norwalk was a combination of more people showing up, and of course with more people you don't have the understanding that "Hey, the cops are real good to us. We don't have sprinklers, there's a gallery upstairs." There were a couple of neighborhood assholes that sent firecrackers through a plate glass window, and also over the fence at bands. It didn't last very long.

We had to deal with a band (that will remain nameless) that were jerk-offs because no one showed up for their show and MDC was playing the night after them. And of course, tons of people show up for MDC the next night, and the nameless band wanted to be added to the MDC bill. It was like, "Look, you guys area bunch of right-wing, conservatives spouting shit." It wasn't even really in me or my brother's control, we gave the nameless band a gig, no one showed up. Sorry. So the nameless band called the cops the next day to say something was going on at the club, my brother or Sex-Bomb might remember this better, but needless to say, the MDC show was shut down and everyone pretty much went out to have a beer, but Dave from MDC grabbed his guitar and had everyone go to the park, across the street from the bar, and pretty much did the entire set acoustic. That was probably in '86, the first time that anyone, to my knowledge, did that "unplugged" kind of thing.

That might actually be the second time we had a problem... I think the first time was when Black Flag played. Too many people who were in the neighborhood. The cops knew where they were coming from. They'd look at them and say "Look, you're over at that punk rock place. You go to the bars, you go to the deli, no problem... but if you start causing trouble, you start putting stickers everywhere or magic markering, if you walk up the hill to try and get drugs, we know you don't belong there." That kind of made it difficult. Bands are getting bigger, opportunities to do bigger bands are increasing, where we'll have contracts, and the last thing you want to have happen is to have a series of shows shut down because of some bullshit happens.

Both clubs were in the downtown, commercial section. But at the time, there was a downtown area taken over by corporations so there was no night life of any sort. Except for sleazy bars and prostitutes, etc. We were on the other side of the street, almost more into the bad end where the was not a lot happening. The cops kind of looked at it like "You guys want to be down here, it's no skin off our nose because maybe having you down here might stop something from happening, we might have witnesses, so as long as that's the case, no big deal." Stamford is at least a big enough place that they have real crime, it's the sort of thing where the cops have much bigger things to worry about than us and anarchy symbol spray painted on a sign. Usually people were just in the place for the shows, standing in the parking lot, or going over to The Villa, which is kind of the old man bar, or the local all night place to buy cigarettes or porn. About as good as we could find, to approximate, a city punk rock thing.

Henry with Black Flag

But after having so many shows shut down, after Black Flag where there was too many people, the thing was there was just too many people, we had never gotten into that insane a thing. We should have said "once you're in, you're in," and also have someone patrolling outside. We had the new kids who wanted to show how "punk rock" they were. That kind of brought down the heat. So for that show, except for Black Flag's sound check, they didn't really get to play. But hey, they did get to do a sound check.

The main guys were me, Brian, John Colletti, aka John Sex-Bomb, Jeff Roberts, who died a few years back, who was, in a sense, a really big music fan who learned to play guitar, was really into computers, big supporter of CIA and 76% Uncertain, then became a member of 76%, as a third guitarist. He also got really into recording bands, like "You want to come down to The Anthrax on a Sunday? A case of Bud, you bring the tape, we'll set up and you get a recording." Which wasn't a bad thing, it was a pretty good recording, we never charged them to do anything. Joey Diaz also, right from the start, because he provided our PA until we got our own. He was the person that, without him, we couldn't book a band. Me and my brother had no idea, we just figured you show up and make sound, we had no idea that we needed to have a mixing board, mics, etc. It was like "Oh, shit!" Bill was our sound guy, he was the person who was real into it, as was Jeff Roberts, so when the place needed to be rewired, those guys were there to do it.

The sound in Stamford versus Norwalk doesn't really quite compare, it was definitely punk rock in Stamford. Someone, on a boom box, wound up recording The Dickies the first time they played, and the sound really isn't too bad, depending on where people were moving in the room. The place had a 7 ft. ceiling in the basement, 2x4s with plywood, carpet on that, overall you didn't need much, besides vocals. Joey Shithead from DOA, this made us very happy, he was answering in a fanzine about favorite and worst shows, and he said worst show was in Germany where it was some urine-soaked, dirt floor kind of thing, and the thing he liked the most was "this place in Stamford" where the ceiling was so low, that kids were pretty much crawling on top of the crowd and you had the ceiling to contend with.

Stamford Anthrax flyer

Over the stage we just had cardboard, to stop dust from falling on the band. We'd clean it as much as possible, but it was a 75-85 year old structure. You just had dust everywhere. At that point, it was a little more obvious we needed to be a little more business-like, in terms of getting a lease, a place that's big enough, being concerned about what part of town we're going to be in. The difference between Stamford and Norwalk was I could get twice as many people into a space in Norwalk than I could in Stamford. Stamford had different laws, compared to Norwalk, which abided by the state code. But Stamford decided they only wanted to let 7 people per square feet, where as Norwalk let there be 15. We also kind of ran out of places to look in Stamford that were affordable, so we figured we'll look in Norwalk and wound up finding the right person to show us around.

But even that place in Norwalk wasn't without its trials and tribulations. We had problems with neighbors and people, even though we were in a light-industrial zone. How was I supposed to know they were going to build condos right next door? They got kind of snoopy, but the real reason Norwalk closed was more contractual than anything. This whole time I had been also waiting tables,and also, at different times I worked with a buddy who built really nice in-ground pools. It was just to make some dough.

With Norwalk, it was fun but also very stressful because when we moved in, we opened up within 6 days. If we've got our name on the front, I'm happy. I'm usually a lot more optimistic than my brother. Overall, when we finally got the place and took it over, it was like October, it was all of a sudden going from paying $800 to $3500 a month. So we had to have shows immediately. We had to spend a bunch more money to try and bring this up to code, another wall of sheet rock, while closed and still paying rent.

It wasn't until we did the 7 Seconds show that it all went really well, and the place held like 400-500 people. At that point, I was into 7 Seconds because they were from NV. My friend, Brett Collins, who had this 5 hour hardcore radio show in Utah, every Saturday night, he would play local stuff, regional stuff, California, German stuff, all over the world he was really into it. I'd tape his show, listen to them, so I'd have a different idea of all the bands out there. I couldn't afford to go out and buy every 45. So, they were still more of hardcore band, than just "Rah! Rah! Positive!" That was the show that even convinced my brother that maybe this could work. After that, we felt like The Anthrax in Norwalk was on the map or at least could be. You know, like, shouldn't you try and make an effort, rather than not doing anything?

John Porcelly, Travis Wright and Ray Lego, Time For Crime at the Stamford Anthrax, 1985


Pierce said...
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