Isaac fronting A Chorus Of Disapproval
Isaac from Chorus / Amendment 18 speaks his piece for DCXX as we pick his brain about how he ended up on the mic as one of the most vocal straight edge front men in hardcore history. -Gordo DCXX
I remember sometime around 1990 hearing A Chorus Of Disapproval for the first time on the Nemesis Records live 7" comp, "East Meets West". The song was called "Just Can't Hate Enough" and I thought it was pretty damn hard. Funny thing is, the first handful of times I heard that track, I thought Isaac was saying, "Pussies going down, I will make you see the light" and thinking... wow, these dudes are freakin' pissed! Turned out the lyrics were "The shit that's going down, I will make you see the light", still pissed, but not AS pissed as I had thought. That was my first introduction to The Chorus.
Early 1991 I remember Rob Fish (Release, Ressurection) coming back from hanging out in Southern California and telling me all about Chorus and how great they were. He brought back the "Truth Gives Wings To Strength" LP and a Chorus "Reinstate Prohibition " hat and I was sold. Those first two songs on that LP, "No Part" and "Addiction To Disease" were incredible. So Straight Edge, so in your face, so hard and gave me an almost SSD feel. In 1990/1991, hearing a straight edge hardcore band like Chorus was rare but greatly appreciated. -Tim DCXX
What are you up to these days musically and otherwise?
Well after A.18 ran its course, I really wanted to take a break from doing the band thing. I wanted to concentrate on trying to be a good father, and be more of a "fan" of music. Sometimes it's hard to see things clearly from the inside so I took a step outside and just enjoyed new bands and played more of the observer, although I do miss writing songs and performing for sure. And of course The Chorus is playing that big fest at The Metro in Chicago with Unbroken and so on in May, so that will be a real fun time. Beyond that, I got married and now I'm just try to do the good husband thing.
Second Chorus show, Zack de la Rocha hangs out on stage, Photo: David "Igby" Sattanni
How did you get into punk and hardcore...and later on, straight edge? What were defining moments you recall with each personal evolution?
I met my long time friend Luigi in 1982 at Wilson Jr. High in Pasadena, CA. We hit it off famously. I would listen to the Rodney on The ROQ radio show and write the names of the bands I liked on my Peechee folder. Luigi saw I had written "Sex Pistols" on my folder and he asked if I was punk. I had no idea at that point but I told him I liked alot of different music. So did he, so we buddied up from that point on. His dad was a famous Spanish actor and his brother was in a real punk rock band, thus I was super impressed so we started our own "punk" band, Short Circuit.
Later on my family moved to Orange County, CA and my exposure to punk rock was blown wide open. Mohawks everywhere, the 52nd Street Punks invaded and laid claim to 52nd St. in Newport Beach. I just quietly hung out and reveled in the smell of Aquanet, leather, and clove cigarettes. It was great. I never felt like the silly haircuts, beers, drugs, or partying lifestyle was for me. But I loved the idea of the unity, and fuck you attitude to narrow-minded factory farmed socialites of the area. I started going to shows at The Cuckoo's Nest and since I lived a block away it was an easy walk. I saw many many great bands there, Fear, Circle Jerks, Black Flag, Suicidal, 7Seconds (The Crew tour), The Vandals, and so on.
But it wasn't until a little known band called Uniform Choice played there that I was really kicked in the balls musically. They were fast, ferocious, in your face pissed, and the singer was very threatening looking and was all over the place with his energy. Now I had heard Minor Threat and was familiar with the term 'Straight Edge' but it didn't hit home until I saw U.C., bought the t-shirt, the demo, and really read the lyrics. I suddenly didn't feel alone in my views regarding drugs, alcohol, and the like. I met Pat the singer and he told me about a bunch of other bands in the OC area that were of the same minds.
From there I got very involved even if from only a fan stand point. I was the first and only kid at my high school to go bic bald, X up, and scowl like the hardcore hard-ass I thought I was. Summer of 1984 was my awakening. I felt like a soldier, I felt like I was on a winning team, I felt like hardcore was my home. Still do.
A young Isaac riding the bus, decked out in a U.C shirt, 1986
What punk/HC bands and records hit you the hardest early on, and what "old" records and bands remain your favorites?
The first record I ever bought with my own money was The Decline of The Western Civilization Soundtrack. It had FEAR, X, Circle Jerks, Black Flag, and all these great punk bands. Since I used my own chore money to buy it, it will always stand as my emotional bond favorite. You have to understand at that early time I was a California Punk/Hardcore loyalist. My fight and struggles were locally based. OC, L.A., and San Diego bands concerned me first and foremost. Records from TSOL, Adolescents, The Crowd, Circle One, Final Conflict, MIA, Uniform Choice/Unity, so on and so forth.
But the first record to really stand me upright and prepare me for my future was Screaming For Change by Uniform Choice. The demo was great and Banks would argue it is heads and tails better than the LP, but that record threw me in head first. Upon hearing the full length and seeing them somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 times, and buying the first LP out of the box at the record store Pat Dubar worked at? Fuck, I get all fired up thinking about it now!!! It was and still is my favorite hardcore record.
The next records to come very close to doing that to me is a close tie between Visual Discrimination 'Step Back And Listen' and No For An Answer 'You Laugh EP'. These records never get old.
What did you do musically before Chorus?
I started my first band in 1982 called Short Circuit, we thought we were punk but we started playing backyard parties and lowered ourselves to doing mostly covers to gain popularity. It was one of my fondest memories but short lived. Then I tried out as singer for a band called Just Because (I think that was the name), it was Joe Foster from Unity on guitar so I was walking into that situation with a hard-on. Joe never called back and I never knew why until 2 or 3 years later when I told the story to Dan O'Mahoney. He said, "Oh that was YOU?" He then went on to tell me that Joe didn't call me back because my name spelled backwards was Caasi (Casey). Referring to Casey Jones from NFAA who sang in that older band prior to me trying out. Joe thought it was a bad omen to pull me in based on that. What a tool!!!
Then I did a band called Idenity with Rob Hayworth who later was later 'stolen' away by NFAA and even later formed Farside. We played no shows and we were not very good...well, Rob was.
An early Chorus promo photo
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Posted by DOUBLE CROSS at 9:35 PM