Monday, October 13, 2008

Tony Erba - Cleveland Hardcore



Tony Erba, Face Value reunion

The man, the myth, the legend, Cleveland's own... Tony Erba. Maybe you know him from Face Value, maybe you know him from his most recent band Cheap Tragedies, maybe you know him for the handful of bands in between. Either way, Erba has definitely made a name for himself in this hardcore scene and he makes for one hell of an interview. This is part one of many more to come. -Tim DCXX

Origins of the SE scene in Cleveland: who, what, where, when, and how did you or did you not fit in?


I was a suburban punker from the cultural backwoods of the Southwest suburb of Parma, OH. I loved hard rock, heavy metal (thrash metal was just coming into its own), punk, especially the bands on 'Punk And Disorderly' like Asta-Kask, but I was drawn to the wilder, faster, less fashion-conscious hardcore. I was in 9th grade at Valley Forge and came across an issue of 'Ripper' fanzine out of S.F. in drafting class. I was like 'Holy FUCK! There's a goddamm band called Millions Of Dead Cops! This shit I GOTTA see!' Then I found out about Minor Threat, Seven Seconds, Final Conflict, SNFU, U.C., Second Wind etc.

I was always a pussy who hated drinking and was scared of the drugged-out, gnarly, insane downtown O.G. punx in Clevo - those dudes from the Plague were fuckin' HEAVY--and the cats from the Floyd Band, Hyper As Hell, Knifedance, Guns, and Violent Suburban Marriage were older and just crazy 'Suburbia' punk-types whose bands kicked ass but lived lifestyles that I couldn't hang with. They were living downtown in the Back House and going to the Plasma Alliance twice a week, HEAVY, man.

Then I became aware of a small SXE scene in Clevo, based out of the East Side, centered around Mentor and Cleveland Heights kids, who made an area of town called Coventry their stomping grounds. This was a stretch of road that was Clevo's East Village. Confront was new, as were Outface, False Hope, and out in Kent you had Hyper As Hell, D.I.M (Pat RIP) and Sockeye. Here on the West Side, our GODS were DOMESTIC CRISIS, what a great band! They were the new breed and they kept it hard and fast and youthful and energetic.


The Clevo crew on their way to see Project X

I had my band, LEK, ('85-'88, featured Jim Konya on drums, that a-hole, my longest and oldest pal, he's played in a million crazy metal bands like Nunslaughter and even did two stints in Nine Shocks Terror, and Chris Pellow, who went on to play in Ringworm (first demo and LP) and then the Darvocets for 13 years, and I just recently replaced him in the Darvocets! Clevo's fuckin incestous) that was heavily influenced by two bands in particular: Cryptic Slaughter and Dayglo Abortions. Also Minor Threat, Napalm Death, Misfits and Flag. We were playing backyard ragers, basement rippers and the occasional legit gig. Domestic Crisis was our big brother band, even though no one took us seriously and the skater bettys that hung out with us, or at least our guitarist. I was disgusting even back then. They hated me and thought I was a maniac. Which I was. I didn't party, just guzzled Dairymens Fruit Punch by the gallon, shredded the quarterpipe on my GJS Freestyler (Goddamm I miss that bike--ripped off in front of my eyes by a Puerto Rican outside of Burger King across from Parma Schwinn) and used to go insane at band practice, carving my chest open like Darby, getting us kicked out of first Chris Pellow's mom's house then his Grandma's.

Our biggest show was opening for WARZONE, Confront and Domestic Crisis at September's in Bedford Hts in August '87. There was a room in the back that was the owner's taxidermy trophy room. Warzone apparently trashed it, we got the blame, and that was it for ever getting booked THERE again. Also at that show, some skin was picking on Jay Kuebler, the most posi, sweet kid you'd ever wanna meet, drummer from Confront that weighed 90 lbs soaking wet. Steve Murad AKA 'Mean Steve' put his motorcycle helmet on and headbutted the skin and destroyed him.

Anyhow after LEK broke up I moved to Coventry to be with my Straight Edge peoples. I soon came to see that a LOT of those kids were awesome but mostly from well-to-do families and although they were cool to me, especially Steve Murad and all of Confront and Charlie and Frank from Outface and especially Scum, Spike and David Araca from False Hope, they all kinda looked at me as a working-class hillbilly from Parma. Fuck, my Mom was on welfare and my Dad carried a gun in his boot at all times...so I guess I'm a redneck from Parma. Wheee. They would always break my balls about my geeky glasses (fuck, Dick Lucas from the Subhumans wore them, and he was punk as fuck), wearing flared jeans (hey man, they fit you waaay better than those stupid-ass Bugle Boys they all wore then - real men who work on cars and play Rickenbackers wear flares - Fuck off) and wearing X's drawn with like the wrong color marker or whatever, and still digging on Sabbath, Black Oak Arkansas, Hawkwind, Heep etc. Like I was going to just forget about those influences? It was kind of a subtle 'social classism' thing going on. I definitely wasn't cool then, and guess what? I still don't sit at the Cool Kids table now.


Face Value 1990 promo photo

16 comments:

skinhead x jai said...

word. Erba's the man.

I'm still pissed that I missed GSMF in Austin, TX last May. There's a short clip on YouTube of the mayhem that ensued, including, but not limited to, Tony swinging around a fucking chain and then choking some kid out with said chain.

a TV may or may not have been thrown into the fray. just things i heard...

Tim F said...

Every interview I've ever read with Tony Erba (or Chris Erba) has made me crack up. I never thought I'd see a mention of Sockeye on Double Cross. Can't wait to read the next part!

Tom Brose said...

"Everyone in the back has weak, weak gear!"

Erba is amazing, he really represents being true to hardcore. You will never meet anyone who loves hardcore more than him. And hes crazy as hell.

Nice pic, I remember that trip. Somewhere thers one of Mike Watson holding him over the side of Niagra Falls by the ankles.

Tony, you need to start posting Livewire board!

Inti Carboni said...

1992 - Face Value was high on the HC charts of the Roma Crew - I was travelling around the US and stayed at Guav's/McKaig's house in Syracuse for a week - Face Value played and their van broke, so they where stranded for a week and we hung out a lot - a month later I ended up seeing them at a festival at Gilma St in Berkeley and hanging out the whole night - years later I booked a Face Value show in Rome, but, surprise: no Erba! They came without him and that was a bummer, but the kids in Rome loved the band, abused the skinhead wannabe singer and thrashed around like maniacs...

Now, it would be great if Erba would write about the FV guys. I mean, Downtown Anthony Brown, a Rock God!!!!

Anyway, I loved hanging out with Erba - he has a Motorhead tattoo on one arm and a Straight Ahead lion on the other!!! Awesome!!!

-cja said...

ugh... please post the other parts ASAP! i met Erba once and he's one of the nicest dudes ever. can't wait to read the rest.

* said...

love face value

Los Jacklos said...

Awesome. I'm glad you guys are doing this interview. Can't wait for the next part.

Let's see some Youtube clips!

AVERSIONLINE said...

YES. Classic. Can't wait to see the rest...

Cargawar said...

Face Value proved me right: I wasn't crazy... HC and metal DO mix! It's just that it never mixed as good again as when Face Value did it.
Courtesy of Anthony Brown? That would be too much credit. Erba, I consider to be the best HC singer ever! The combination? Killing!

As I used to be a huge KISS fan, I loved Brown's riffs and solo's, but I was already in another era, the age of hardcore. Face Value built my personal bridge between my past and present at the time...

Crazy Erba: on the live 7" he goes: "wanna see some fucking mayhem". My favorite HC line ever! As the band goes off I vizualised the crowd going bezerk. I know I was! In my bedroom, starting that song over and over again, banging my head on the pounding bass kick...

Cool as fuck dudes too: Few years ago I started researching whatever happened to Face Value and ended up on the home page of Time Has Come. One of the band members sent me the Face Value Anthology (all my music was stolen when I was travelling new Zealand) on CD, a Time Has Come CD and a THC Tshirt. All he wanted in return was me wearing the shirt on an album sleeve whenever my band would release something.
I made the promise and will keep it! Thanx again, if you read this!

Cargawar said...

hahaha
just came across an old Erba pic:
http://www.lovebunnipress.com/histories/knights/smiley.jpg

Anonymous said...

harden the fuck up erba and punch the fuck out of the rich kids

Imperfection said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Imperfection said...

where do you find all these people anyway?
nice shirt.voorhees.pure gold. newcastle united fans too!

Anonymous said...

Damn, I just picked up a couple Face Value 12"s a couple months ago, 16 years too late. One of the best band ever. I'm definitely checking out what Erba has done since then.

We played with them in Louisville a million years ago. That was the first I ever heard of them and I think I cried that night they were so awesome.

Thanks for hitting up the midwest scene, hope to see some more bands and interviews!

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