Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Andy Guida – Altercation / Supertouch PART II

Altercation shirt from Andy's collection

Andy Guida delivers more, this time we get into the beginnings of Supertouch. Much more to come, so climb aboard!

-Gordo DCXX

How did you get recruited for Supertouch? Did it feel like a distinctly different band from Altercation or even other HC bands at the time? Even in your drumming, you didn't always play a straight forward hardcore style, but kept it very creative and dynamic. Was this conscious for the band or just where you were with your playing at the time? What drummers influenced your style as time went on with Supertouch?

The last Altercation show was a Pyramid Matinee with Death Before Dishonor. They weren't officially called Supertouch yet. Mark was planning the name change but it wasn't definite. My godfather Larry drove me and my drums to the show and we didn't stay for the DBD set. So I never actually saw DBD. Mark and Biv saw the Altercation set and were impressed with my drumming. Shortly after that Jay and Paul left Altercation to join Warzone so the band broke up.

Mark found out from Jay that Altercation was over and got my phone number. He called me and asked if I was interested. I was hesitant because they were straight edge and I was heavily into drugs. I never have been into movements. Funny enough, I also didn't like the name Supertouch. I didn't want people to think we were just biting off Bad Brains. Mark assured me that the band wasn't a straight edge band so I went to practice with them.

Biv and I hit it off right away musically and as friends. That first rehearsal we got four songs down. I even had one on guitar that I showed him. It just clicked and we were off. It definitely felt like a way different band than Altercation. We wanted to be more rock where Altercation was more metal. We were more open minded musically and as people. I don't think that the early Supertouch songs except for Searching For The Light were that different from any other hardcore bands. I definitely tried to be creative and not play everything in a typical style. Sometimes the obvious is the best thing for a song, sometimes you have to mix it up.

I was listening to a little jazz and all kinds of underground music. I was listening to Miles Davis "Big Fun" which is one of his electric funky records. The drummers on that were Billy Cobham, Jack Dejonnette and Al Foster. I loved the first couple of Sonic Youth records. Also, a band called Swans which Ted Parsons of Prong played in before Prong. They also had another drummer, Roli Mossiman. They were dark and noisy with very slow grinding grooves and lots of tom tom beats. The drummers in the Butthole Surfers were very tribal and creative. I got really into Parliament/ Funkadelic. Dennis Chambers was the P Funk all stars drummer at that point. I would practice to their records. Sly and the Family Stone was an influence. I would play along to Van Halen records, Alex Van Halen is a great drummer. I also loved Fugazi, their drummer sounded to me like he also was influenced by Stewart Copeland. Pokey from Leeway was always a drummer I loved listening to. Of course Dave Grohl as well.

Mark turned me on to Scream when I joined Supertouch. I already loved them but when Dave Grohl joined the band they got even better. We both were influenced heavily by Bonham so our styles were similar. He was and still is a monster drummer. He was so much fun to watch up close in those days. We did three shows with them one weekend and that is still a highlight of my musical career.

Joe, Biv, Andy and Mark, Photo:
Eric Fennell

What are your best memories of the early days of Supertouch, playing out, hanging out, and recording? What was the dynamic of the band early on? Any good stories with those guys?

I remember the first Supertouch show I played. It was in October of 1987 at the Anthrax. I was seventeen. I think Bold was the headliner. We started our intro (of course everyone had to have a hardcore handbook approved intro back then) and I was wondering how the set would go. Would people like us? The room was packed and people went crazy for us. It was a great time. I had never been to a show outside of NYC and I didn't know what to expect. People were really into us. I remember the walls were sweating because it was so hot in the club.

At one of the early Anthrax shows we did, our first bass player called the sound man a dick during the soundcheck. I have the soundboard tape from that show and the sound man sabotaged our sound. In the middle of a song there's suddenly a huge amount of delay on my snare drum for one hit as if we were a dub band. Then tons of reverb on the drums, guitar turning up and then dropping, eqs sweeping back and forth throughout, just a mess.

I used to go to Biv's mom's house in Belleville and stay overnight some weekends. All his friends would come over and we would drink and I would smoke pot and hang out all night. Then we would get up the next day and go to a CBGB matinee or go to rehearsal. It's funny that we were lumped in with straight edge bands, we sure weren't in that mindset. Those were fun weekends.

There was one demo we did at Sty in the Sky, which was Josh Silver's studio before he was in Type O Negative. It was with our first bass player and we never did anything with it. I haven't listened to it in years but I don't think it was very good. There was a weak reggae jam we tried but it was boring. I still have the master tape but it's at an odd speed and no one has a machine that will run it. I think I have it on cassette, I should check.

We didn't like our first bass player's playing so after about a year we kicked him out and found Joe through a Village Voice musicians wanted ad. We gave Joe an 8 song tape and told him to learn some of them for an audition. He came out to my mom's house to try out. He knew all 8 songs and played them great. Mark wasn't there but Biv and I were so excited. When Joe drove away from the house at the end, Biv and I were literally jumping up and down because he was amazing and finally we could have the band we wanted to. Biv and I were so much on the same plane as far as what we wanted to play and now we had a guy who got what we wanted to do and could play the shit out of his bass.

The first show Joe played out of town with us was in Philly. It was at Club Pizazz which was a dance club in Philly. It was Martin Luther King Day and there were a bunch of nazi skinheads at the show. During our set Mark dedicated our set to MLK and said "white power is for white cowards." Then he threatened to kick some skinhead's ass. Mark trying to be a tough guy…easy to do from the stage. None of us were tough guys. Mark backed down as soon as he realized there were 20 or 30 of these meatheads. A wise choice since we only had one friend with us and we were in a new town. Joe must have been wondering how he ended up in this mess. Here he had just joined the band and now we're going to get destroyed by these skinheads. It turned out that there were all these hardcore kids there as well and they had our backs.

What has always amused me about that day is that Eric Fennell was with us that day. It was before he started the documentary. We had locked the keys in the rental van, the only one with NY plates in the parking lot. So at one point Eric is out there with a coat hanger breaking into our van. Now mind you, Eric is black, he has always had an afro and wears a headband. You could say he looks like Hendrix in jeans. If these skinheads were really looking for trouble why didn't they bother the black guy breaking into the van with NY plates? We were the only NY band on the bill that day so it had to be our van. I went outside to help him get in the van and there were skinheads mulling about but they didn't bother us.

It's funny because through my electrical business I recently befriended a painter/ plasterer who is originally from Philly. His name is Bryant Peters and he was a straight edge kid back then. He was at that show and he and his friends largely saved our asses. He remembers kicking some skinhead ass with his friends that day. We have turned out to be good friends. Strange how things work out.

Mark at CB's, Photo:
Eric Fennell


Anonymous said...

GREAT STUFF!!! Psyched for more on Supatouch! Andy's one of my favorite drummers ever and always put on a show, DCXX: keep it comin'!

Anonymous said...

that pizazz show was great tho i dont remember mark ryan saying that, philly was sketchy though so im sure it went down like andy said. this is a great interview so far.

JD said...

Great interview!
Mark def said that at the pizazz show, I have the video.They seemed pretty damn tough to a 16 year old me.

Amiel said...

that was a damn good read, would like to hear that demo someday.
DCXX's ability to interview personalities with such great memories and capable to remember things so vividly still astonishes my every day.
it's a good day to wear a Supertouch shirt

Jon said...

These are great, looking forward to more. I still remember meeting the guys in Supertouch for the first time on our '89 tour. We were all big fans, they must have thought we were big dorks. But they couldn't have been nicer. I still remember Andy telling me how hard it was to play drums in Altercation with Doc Martin's on.

Love that Altercation shirt!

twang19982003 said...

hey, give somed credit to frank b. who played rums on searchin for the light,....

Viagra Online said...

My brother and I used to be Altercation fans and this post just reminded me of the good times. This is a great band and I wish I could download their collection.

AF77 said...

I remember seeing an older dude wearing an orange Altercation t shirt at the Wetlands a long time ago. Anyone know if that was an official T shirt? Never saw another one like it again.