Thursday, September 18, 2008

Smalley Stories from Taylor Steele and Jon Roa

Classic photo of Dave Smalley with DYS

I've known Taylor Steele for a long time as his band 4 Walls Falling played quite a few shows with my band Mouthpiece. Every time we'd see each other we'd always hang out and have great conversations. Being a serious hardcore vet, Taylor would tell stories of seeing everybody from Minor Threat to Youth Of Today from their first tour.

One particular band I remember Taylor telling me he saw was DYS, and I gotta tell you, every time I saw Taylor, I would think to myself... "Shit, this guy saw MINOR THREAT AND DYS!" For Taylor to have seen those bands back in the early 80's and still be doing a hardcore band in the 90's - and on top of that, still be straight edge - I was impressed.

We've been planning on getting Taylor up here on DCXX for a while, so what better time to kick it off than with his DYS story? Expect more from Taylor Steele in the near future. -Tim DCXX

The year was 1983. The month was December. The day was...the 27th I think, I've never been good with that type of shit. Straight Edge Hardcore gods DYS were coming to town and I was giddy with excitement. You have to understand, I had gone to my first show in April of that year, had only been straight edge for a little over a year, had only ever seen one other SXE band (Minor Threat) and was still riding off of a hardcore high from the last show in Richmond (Crucifix). Another thing you have to understand is that SXE hardcore was in its initial stages, there were not many of us any where on the entire planet, much less Richmond Va. There were only 2-5 of us at best here. I could also count the number of SXE bands that existed on the planet on my two hands. It was all fresh and new. The baby was still cute, really cute.

So, there it is, I was going to see Bigfoot, Jesus, Machu Pichu, whatever you want to call it and it was only 15 minutes from where I lived. I get to the show, 100 to 150 people...maybe. The club was called Rockitz, it was small, so it was easy to fill up. There were many great shows there over the years...MDC, Iron Cross, Discharge, BL'AST!, COC, Crucifix etc., but fuck all that for now, because on that night it was going to be DYS.

Fast forward through the opening acts and DYS hits the stage, never before had I seen a hardcore band with a wall of FULL stacks, but thats what served as the background and wall of death for DYS. They explode into their set, LOUD, URGENT, ANGRY, POWERFUL, you know, all that good shit. I was like a cross between a bull in a china shop and a kid in a candy store. The energy, power and message of DYS was off the hook and this teenage hardcore SXE punk rock kid was eating up every bit of it. It was truly incredible. I don't remember the specifics, it was a blinding haze of adreniline for me. Years later, a friend would say, "remember the airplane pilot coming thru Jon's amp?" Man, I sort of remember that but its all fuzzy now. The only other thing I remember was talking to Dave for a couple of minutes, cool as hell dude, which meant even that much more to a young new school SXE kid like myself. That would be the last time I would talk to him for about 20 years, when I would give him directions to a club he was playing at.

Anyway, great guy, great band, a band that still makes this old fucker feel young again when ever I hear that first note on Brotherhood...and all the way through the whole damn thing.

Dag Nasty circa Smalley, as good as it gets.

Long time Smalley enthusiast, California Hardcore O.G., and DCXX contributor, ROA, provides us with a couple Smalley snippets from years gone by. Thanks ROA! - Gordo DCXX

This is not the best story but it means a lot to me, as DYS were one of the best and I hope it exemplifies how much they meant to members of the Chain Crew.

Bratton, Ryan and myself went to go see ALL with Smalley on vocals. It was great. I not necessarily a huge ALL fan but Dave on vocals was a treat. I mean, we grew up studying the cover of Brotherhood (and if any of you know how meticulous Bratton is, well, you know we STUDIED that record). I often remark that DYS were so great, they did not even have to list the song titles on the back of Brotherhood. Upon release one usually forewent the risk of it being only two crappy songs and bought it for the back pictures alone.

Smalley with Down By Law at the Continental, NYC

So we watch ALL play. And, at least for me, this was the first time seeing Dave other than sporadic photographs. I was pretty much in awe. In earnest, we keep shouting for ALL to play "Wolfpack." After the show, we informally interview Dave with these fanboy questions, which he answered. Here's how the stupidest ones went:

Us: Can you show us the Boston punch style dance?
Dave: Um, no.
Us: Can we see the X tattoo?
Dave: Yes.
Bratton: How could you make that second record?
Dave: I liked it, it was good rock.

Fast forward to the last show of Chain of Strength (I still love that it was in Hollywood). Dave and Down By Law were, from the initial booking of the show, hesitant about opening for Chain for a lot of reasons, but mainly due to Dave's pride. Ryan and Bratton never said one word about it. They were more interested in playing hard and, in a healthy way, blowing the other bands off the stage with pure energy. The also had respect for the old guard.

Well, Chain plays and Down by Law goes on after them to….well, maybe 15 people? It was a disaster. They seemed so deflated as the atmosphere was all for Chain. The energy left with Chain's audience. Everyone gathered around the band and congratulated them for they spectacular existence. Some people were making fun of Down By Law's dubious decision not to "volunteer to play first", "ego trip", blah, blah, blah…saying how it kind of sucked that Chain's last show was opening for a not-so-great band.

Bratton, wet with sweat, just shrugged and said, "Hey, he's Dave Smalley from DYS."


Dave puts down the guitar for Down By Law to feed the crowd

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