Coming off an intense day of all things Vic, we switch gears and bring you a great read from our O.C. counterpart, who we asked to share some more memories of life on the road. Joe summarizes life in South Dakota whilst on tour and the people he met along the way. - DCXX
One of my favorite guys from the late 80s was Dan Straight From The Heart out of Rapid City, South Dakota. Guys who toured in the late 80s definitely know who Dan SFTH is. That's the thing about those times. In between NYC and LA were a ton of scenes being run by 1 or 2 guys. They all have stories too, plus there's a ton of undocumented bands that never went anywhere. I remember in Pensacola there was a straight edge band made up of long haired Seminole Indians. They were GREAT...totally something out of a David Lynch movie.
Anyways, Dan SFTH was the end all be all for anything cool ever finding its way into that horrible place. Anybody who's ever been to Rapid City, which unfortunately for me has been about 4 times, knows that the city contains all the pathetic parts of the movie Fargo. It's like the world's biggest trailer park set up at the base of the Black Hills, which unless you were a Lakota Indian waging war on Custer and company in the mid 1800s is void of any excitement. I mean the only "real" tourist attraction within 100 miles is Mt. Rushmore for Christ sake, which of course is where Dan SFTH worked.
The shows were either held at some broken down skate park, or a conference room in the Comfort Inn. The skate park was the cooler of the venues, although the shows there were always matinees, which made it so you had to drive all night from either the previous nights show in Denver, Colorado, or Salt Lake City, UT...both being about 10 hour drives. Of course the other guarantee you had about the show was the band. Dan's band, Straight From The Heart would surely be the opener. I can't even remember what they were like, but I'm pretty sure they had a demo.
I looked through my old tour journal which I kept and found this entry regarding it.
"Arrived in Rapid City, at a skate park if you can believe it? I tried to skate the half pipe on some yokel's board, but it was all warped from the sun so I ate shit trying to pull a front side 360. It feels like I broke my wrist, but I'm scared to tell anybody. I'm pretty sure they just shoot anybody who comes up lame in these parts rather then take them to a hospital. "A Hospital???...what the hell is that? Some sort of commie deal?...BAMMMMM!!!"
The kid who is charge of the show is Dan Straight From The Heart. He told us we can come to Mt. Rushmore tomorrow if we want. That might be cool. He also carries a picture of Mike Hartsfield, from Freewill in his wallet. The only reason I know this is cause he showed me. Not sure what I make of that. Maybe it's cause Mike lives in Big Bear, and he lives in South Dakota? I'm thinking there may be a sub-scene to the real scene, made up of hillbilly towns, which I have no idea about. It's hard to say. I'm not sure I even want the answer either.
Straight From The Heart, which is the local Straight Edge band played. It seems every town has one these days, or in the case of Salt Lake City 3 or 4. I tried to watch with interest, but learned I really don't care. Insted was pretty good though. Some hillbillies got a mosh going, which they seemed pretty proud off. One dude even slammed with a Coors light can in his hand. It sure is different out here in the Black Hills. Weirder."
It was weirder that's for sure. I remember after that show or perhaps the one the following Summer we went to shower at some punk flop house there. Anybody who's ever been on the road van style knows that the most important thing is a good clean shower after the show. That and a solid vegetarian meal were seriously the only goals besides the shows, well maybe some of the shows, that any of us ever had.
I was first in line, so with my gear I walked into the house to find 9 - 10 peace punks sitting in a circle smoking weed. To my left was a kitchen piled with 6 feet of at least month old dirty dishes. The bathroom was already filled with 2 - 3 inches of dirty water, before any of us had even taken a shower. I just turned around and headed back to the van. Steve Larson the Insted drummer was next. He asked me "how does it look?" I replied "see for yourself." Thirty seconds later he was unshowered, and back in the van with the same "oh well, maybe Denver will be better" attitude we probably all ended up having that night.
Later in life when I started touring with other bands, Rapid City was no where to be found on the tour route. Dan Straight From The Heart had either thrown in the towel, or fled the Dakota plains altogether. Which if true, was South Dakota's loss, not his. I wonder where he is today? I wonder what he's doing? Do people know him in some office as just Dan? Or is he still Dan Straight From The Heart? ...A legend...well...sub-legend!
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
"It comes across a bit assholish" was how Vic described Double Cross. Let me first preface this interview by saying that I've known Vic since his early days of living in the Philadelphia temple and playing for Shelter. Although we've never been good friends, we've definitely seen quite a bit of each other over the past 18 years and he's never been anything but cool to me. Gordo did the interview, and while Vic came across as maybe a bit grumpy, we didn't take it too seriously and certainly didn't hold it against him. Everyone has their off days. Vic did mention that he answered our questions on an airplane, returning from South America, hungry and tired. I think that might explain some of what you are about to read. He did write the riff to Burning Fight, so I guess it all balances out. -DCXX
What was the first Inside Out show with you on guitar and what are the details?
That's easy! It was Spanky's Cafe. That's the place where this one guy ran a Persian restaurant and started doing hardcore shows and later sold the restaurant and started the Showcase Theatre. It was the first show at Spanky's. I think it was with Chain Of Strength or something. The guy spazzed out as soon as the first note hit (we played first) and people started slamming. He wanted to cancel the show. I think it was Zack who convinced him to let the show finish with everyone sitting on the floor. It was great.
I have heard that originally Zack was to "sing" on the EP with more of a DC feel...and ended up with what we hear on the recording. True? (ED. Note: Ryan Hoffman told us this only a couple months back and it was news to the both of us).
Umm, no. The DC feel was not about the vocals, it was about the subject matter and the musical sophistication. Zack and I had hated the guts of "youth crew" style music for a while by this point. DC ideas and sounds were a lot more in touch with where we were at. Of course for me there was also the New York connection.
When was the first time you heard Zack's voice? Did you instantly know he was meant to front a band upon hearing it?
First time I saw him was playing guitar in Hard Stance. I though he looked kinda wired. Skinny and stuff. Next time I saw him was when Inside Out played at a Hare Krishna organized show. I didn't think it was anything special, no. Maybe I was blind. But the first time we all got in a room and jammed together the explosions were obvious. Bands are not about single persons, they are about combinations.
Zack as a singer and bandmate...what was his off stage energy and how did that change by the end of the band?
His off stage energy? He was a good friend. A humorous guy. Passionate and felt things deeply. I don't think that really changed at all. In fact it probably hasn't changed to this day.
The EP recording is dark, metallic, and noisy - a far cry from Southern California straight edge kids. What do you recall about the Pendragon recording experience, doing your guitar tracks, etc.?
Well I don't want to disappoint your readers who, like, consider themselves vintage straight edge afficianados, but neither myself nor Zack nor Inside Out (nor even Beyond for that matter) ever made any indication whatsoever of being a part of anything "straight edge." We were and maybe are "straight edge" by our own estimation but that's about the extent of how far we ever wanted it to be a label associated with our identity. So of course it sounded different than that straight edge music. Which I didn't even like. Chain Of Strength is utter fucking crap music. What else? Bold or whatever? Please. I hate that shit. So yeah naturally I wouldn't make a record sounding like stuff I thought was fucking dumb. Pendragon...I remember we were psyched because supposedly Dag Nasty had recorded something there. I rember I had every guitar part mapped out in a notebook. I did three tracks, not two. But the brilliant idiots Don Fury and or Walter Schreifels took it upon themselves to mix one if them out from the Revelation mix. Thanks, retards. I remember the bass amp pointing into a corner with a blanket over it. I remember turning off all the lights for doing the vocal tracks. I remember Chris Bratton overdubbing one of the highhat thingies at the beginning of Burning Fight. I remember discovering how fucking awesome an echo machine could be. I remember holding the final mix on a cassette and listening to it in a car and just feeling completely transcendant about it.
Similarly, your guitar playing on the EP...what were the key influences? I have always heard Bad Brains, Sabbath, Cro-Mags, and Slayer. But what do you think was in your subconscious when the BC Rich was in your hands crafting those tunes?
Since it's "subconscious," how am I supposed to know? I mean if you're that conscious of your influences, you're probably not that wonderful of a musician. You probably lack self esteem. I always thought of what I played as my own style. I have a big ego. I can do my own thing and not need to validate every self-doubt by reference to scriptural archivers of punk and hardcore and (god forbid), straight edge. (ED. Note: What??? Umm...)
Playing with Alex versus Bratton...what did each bring to the table on drums and what do you remember about playing with each?
They are both amazing drummers. Alex brought a good east sense of songcrafting. Chris brought a lot of showmanship.
A powerful and guitar oriented four-piece, Inside Out could have sounded sonically crushing as a five-piece. Why did this never happen?
Five pieces are for retards. Haha. Unless you're doing dueling guitar leads. Seriously, 80s thrash metal left a message on the machine and wants all its extra guitar players back.
Shelter, Quicksand, and Inside Out summer 1990 tour. 12 hardcore kids all headed in different directions, on the same Hare Krishna fueled bus across the country. Please share some interesting stories, I know there are some yet undocumented.
I don't know what's been documented and what has not. 108 just got done playing South America with Alan Cage. He said something like he thought Inside Out was really good even though he had already been tired of listening to hardcore at that point. Also, our bassist Trivikrama said that he came to some of the shows. Those are undocumented. I'm sure. Also...we weren't all on the same bus.
The 1993 reunion and your knowledge of it at the time?
I was insulted and hurt that they did a reunion without me. Supposedly they called the temple I was living at and found out I was on tour was 108. Still, that's bogus. You could fucking wait. That hurt.
What Inside Out show stands out the most to you as your favorite?
Memorable... They were all memorable. I liked talking down the white powers at an SDSU show. I like the first Spanky's show. I loved playing The Anthrax and City Gardens on the tour. I loved playing in Del Mars garage. Every show was memorable.
Inside Out leaves behind 6 recorded songs, some great live and radio sets, various bootlegs, and tons of high energy photos and videos. What does it all mean to you today?
Hmmmm...it's not something I've asked myself. I guess...I don't know. That question makes it sound like the band is dead and my answer will be some kind of eulogy. But Inside Out songs and lyrics and experiences are still a living part of a living being named Vic DiCara. It all makes me who I am at this moment. It's something I am very proud of and feel lucky about.
Monday, April 28, 2008
I am trying to keep my head from exploding after having just gotten off the phone with Djinji.
Prior to today, the only real contact I ever had with Djinji Brown was moshing in my bedroom, in the gym, and down the street daily to Dead And Gone since the day I heard it. The main thing I wanted to find out before we busted out an interview with him (which will appear here soon) was what was up with the reunion planned for May. Based on what I had read in the past about him, I had this bad feeling that someone talked him into doing this Miami reunion as a late night idea and that he really wasn't feeling it aside for maybe a quick taste of nostalgia. Man, I couldn't have been more wrong.
While I wish I had an audio clip to put up here so you could actually hear the enthusiasm in his voice, I'm only able to recap what he had to say. I think you will understand what I am talking about. - Gordo DCXX
Absolution returns from the grave, the tombstone having been set in 1989, for a reunion show in Miami, to be followed by...? How the fuck did this develop and how are all of us lucky enough to be privy to it? Djinji explained that this reunion idea kind of kicked off when a local band called La Vieja Guardia ("The Old Guard") had asked permission to cover "Never Ending Game." "It just floored me that some band wanted to cover that song so many years later, it was just very flattering to see that it was still relevant in some way, a song I wrote when I was 17."
Then Djinji explained to me that when John Joseph was in town, the two hung out and reconnected over years of friendship and mutual interests. "The last time I had talked to John Bloodclot was probably like '99 or 2000. But this is a guy who I really gravitated towards when I was 15, 16 years old. Back then I was just a babyfaced kid trying to find my way."
"Hardcore and punk rock had such an anti-government and even atheist attitudes. I was always spiritual and not deceived by the material. I was pulled towards that energy. When I saw people like HR and what the Bad Brains brought to the table, and then Bloodclot and Harley, and their emphasis on the spirit soul and bhakti yoga, it clicked. Those people became sort of 'spiritual masters from the street.' So I hold John Joseph in high regard. When he told me that I belong on the stage again, in Absolution with the mic, that is just impossible to ignore. That is the highest compliment. You know, I have been reading his book. It is fantastic, just one of those books that captures a time and a place, and makes me look back. And I wasn't even living the life he was. He's been a part of the streets his entire life. I saw him get up there, 45 years old, and he is unbelievable. John Joseph is the fuckin' Lance Armstrong of this whole scene and that city, man. Unstoppable. So I have to thank him."
But why now? I had heard (and he confirmed) that others had approached him on this reunion idea before, and there was never a spark. "After Absolution, I walked away completely. I was immersed entirely in music, but not in Absolution. I spent years somewhere else musically and sonically. Jerry Williams hooked me up with music connections, I did my time as an intern, I went to engineering school. I've lived the life as a poet, an MC, a rapper, and a DJ. But it is all traced back to the foundation. Recordings like the ROIR cassette and Age Of Quarrel, it stems from there, the foundation. I want to do this as a way of saying 'Thank You' and to acknowledge where all of this inspiration stems from."
While it may not appear it hear, Djinji's voice could not have been more sincere and amped up. It was almost as if he woke up from along, deep sleep and realized there was something he absolutely needed and wanted to do...immediately. I could tell he was 100%. But what about the other guys? Especially when people had already been saying "scab lineup."
"Gavin and I aren't always in contact, but we know how to get in touch. There is always some type of distress signal if need be. And somehow we are always linked, people know him, they ask about me or vice versa. I know he is out there, our paths are always somehow crossing. I didn't have any contact with him ten years ago when the Absolution material was re-released. This was probably better though, because had I been involved, it might have fallen by the wayside. That just isn't where my energy was at the time. But Gavin, yes. He's in. No other way."
"The other guys are from the band La Vieja Guardia. The drummer is this dude Doug, just a total beast on drums, unstoppable. The guy for the job. The bassist is Willy from that same band. They know how to play with each other, you need a tight rhythm section to hold it down." I knew he and Sergio were still friends and was surprised to not hear Sergio mentioned. "Sergio and I have been very close friends since we were 15 years old. We are in constant contact, and I immediately asked him about playing. Unfortunately he has a family obligation and will not be able to attend. But he is a lock for New York."
Wait. Did he just say New York? Is this for real for real?
"Yeah, we want to do it there after Miami. It is only fitting, on the home turf. Miami has been good to me. I have been here for four years. But New York is still home, and we will do it there next. I'm excited to bring it back there. That's where I came from. When we come up there, it will be Sergio and his boy Jimmy on drums. They play with each other and know the deal. You gotta have the right people that know how to play together."
Yet this is where I couldn't help but still wonder: can this be pulled off well? Those songs are no walk in the park performed live, musically or vocally. Having read that Djinji cringed at hearing his voice from back then, I needed to find out what their delivery would be like. "Well Gavin is unbelievable. I have gone back and listened to those songs, and it is mind-blowing. He combined elements of metal, classic rock, hard rock, punk, everything...his song writing celebrates every group that has ever mattered. I need to be able to perform in a way that compliments Gavin and Gavin's vision. I don't know if I did that when I was 17? Back then it was just me singing in a way where I was trying to mutate my voice and make it sound like it should fit the music. Now...I don't know. It will be raw, but delivered more from the pocket."
"See, the lyrics and the message are where this comes from. None of that has changed. I go back and read the lyrics, and I don't even know who wrote them. I wrote them, but how? I was 17, how was this possible? That message is still true. But as an artist, I have learned how to deliver the message and what I am saying or singing, that is my craft...so I need to do that in the way that best presents the lyrics, and I'm not sure of how I did it back then."
"So how it will sound...I don't know. I mean I definitely have more hair on my nuts now, my voice has changed, it has been 20 years. To connect, I have been listening to everything: from Muddy Waters, to Robert Plant, to Van Halen, you know...where singers really pull it from down low. It could be like it was back then, but I just feel it different. I mean to get up there and sing it and feel it and remember it, you know when it is really time for it to come off, it could really be something. It could be something new, just crazy, like BOOM! There could be a lot of James Brown energy on that motherfucker."
See you in Miami.
"We were the self taught, street educated, self determined, drug medicated, thugged out or punked out we regulated, from the start to the heart, out the gutter with art we elevated! R.I.P to those who never graduated out the class of the underclass and remain heavily sedated, as their souls pass...the memories fill just a half full glass. Inhaling off a pull then pass, I stage dived and stayed live when I busted my ass. What blended time, bitter sweet to remember...We used to pray for Absolution to make a cold heart tender."
Sunday, April 27, 2008
Thinking back, my first memories of the Judge "Chung King" session came from a tape I remember listening to in Ken Olden's (Far Cry, Battery, Worlds Collide, Damnation, Better Than A Thousand, etc.) car back in 1989. Ken had come up from D.C. to Jersey to see Insight and Chain Of Strength play a back yard show. At some point we were driving around and he pulls out the Judge tape and asked me if I had heard it yet, at that point I hadn't. I guess the tape had been getting around. He popped it in and right off the bat we were all thinking, "Wow, this recording does not sound as good as the N.Y. Crew 7" recording". But still, it was cool to hear new material by Judge.
In the coming months of 1989, the Judge "Chung King Can Suck It" LP had hit the streets in super limited release. The 100 or so that were pressed were sent out through mail order and snatched up ultra quickly. You were either lucky enough to get one, or you could simply assume that it would be a record that you would most likely never own. From 1989 through the very early 1990s, I didn't know one person that actually owned one. The only rumored one that was floating around sold for $200, which at the time was a mind blowing amount of money to spend on a record.
Fast forward to what I believe was late 1992. Sweet Pete, who I had met earlier in the year, was really into the band Mouthpiece that I was doing at the time. Pete asked me if I had an extra of the first Mouthpiece shirt that we had ever done with New Age Records, better known as the "My Conscience Knows The Truth" shirt. Unfortunately at the time, all I had was one of my own and no extras. If I had an extra I would have given it to Pete in a second, but being that this shirt was the only one that I had and being that it was the first Mouthpiece shirt we made, I kinda wanted to hang on to it.
But Pete asked if there was anything I would trade my shirt for, and that's when my girlfriend jokingly chimed in, "He'd probably do it for a Chung King." Pete said, "It's yours." I laughed and of course assumed Pete was joking, but Pete assured me he was not. He basically said something along the lines of how he was given the "Chung King" directly from Porcell and ordinarily would never trade it, but felt that he had his time with the record and knew that it would be going into good hands. More than anything, I knew this was just a good gesture by Pete and in the many years that I would go on to know him, this was not an isolated incident. Pete was and I would assume still is a very giving type of person and there really aren't a whole lot of people out there like him. Within the next couple of weeks Pete and I ended up at a New Year's Eve party in Connecticut and the trade went down. I also remember that the Consequence Records LP compilation, "It's For Life," had just been released and I had a few copies of it, so I threw that into the trade. Pete was psyched and I was psyched and we both walked away from the trade pretty damn happy.
The following year, Dave Mandel from Indecision Fanzine had been out in Jersey from California, staying with my girlfriend Traci and me for a few weeks. Word had gotten out that Porcell had just dumped a large chunk of his record collection off at a NYC record store called Reconstruction. Dave, Traci and myself hopped in a car and headed off to NYC to hit up Reconstruction and see what was still available from Porcell's collection. The first records I remember seeing when we walked in were a Judge "Chung King" on the wall and a couple of Judge "Bringin' It Down" test pressings. The dust sheet simply said, "Judge Test Pressing," so everyone, including us and the record store employees, assumed both test pressings were from "Bringin' It Down." Traci bought the regular "Chung King" which if I recall correctly was about $60 and she also bought one of the test pressings for $30. Mandel snatched up the second test pressing for $30 as well. I hadn't rolled in with a whole lot of cash, so I just bought a handful of Wide Awake "CT Hardcore" 2nd press 7"s for $3 a piece.
At the time, test pressings weren't all that sought after. Not too many people had them and most people didn't really care about them, so us picking up those "Bringin' It Down" test pressings didn't seem like all that big of a deal. When we got home from the city, Mandel and I were hanging out, checking out the records we had just bought. We pulled out a turn table and decided to take a listen to the "Bringin' It Down" test press that Mandel had bought. I remember us hoping we would hear some differences on the test pressing and thinking that there was the possibility that the test was some sort of rejected version. Instead, the surprise we got was much bigger, the supposed "Bringin' It Down" test was actually a "Chung King" test! I quickly grabbed Traci's test pressing and popped that on to the turntable and indeed, her copy was of a "Chung King" as well! Considering how rare the "Chung King" record was, we knew having these test pressings was pretty cool, but little did we know what the going price for one of these would be 10 years or so to follow.
I've seen "Chung Kings" sell from $600 up into the thousands. As for the test pressings, I've only heard of two being sold. One was Mandel's, which I believe he got a pretty hefty amount of cash for. The other was Alex Brown's which I think I remember hearing sold for close to $5,000. There might have been a copy of Cappo's that sold as well, but off hand I can't recall for sure. If anyone knows the official prices for each copy, feel free to leave the info as a comment. As for Traci's, since we're now married, I'm sort of the appointed keeper of the collection and our copy of the test pressing is safely intact in our collection, along with two "Chung Kings." Thanks Porcell. -TM
This is part of an ongoing piece where we asked various people from bands over the years what they recall as the most memorable show they ever played (or attended, if they were never in a band), and why. What is posted here is only a sliver of what is to come, so be sure to check back. -DCXX
I would have to say my favorite show that In My Eyes played was probably our record release show in Boston for our album "The Difference Between." This show was everything I could have hoped a good HC show could be. It was totally DIY and put on by us (IME) and our friends Ray, Tim and Matt. Actually Ray, Tim and Matt did the booking of the hall, and the band chose the openers and everyone promoted the shit out of the show all over Boston with fliers and word of mouth. I want to stress now that MOST of the credit for the show goes to Tim, Ray and Matt. It was their booking of great shows (like this one) in Boston that kept BHC alive and strong in the late 90s.
The show was in June 1998 and the lineup was: The Trust, Reach the Sky, Blood for Blood, Floorpunch and In My Eyes.
It would be the first show of our summer 1998 trek across the U.S. to support our album and the energy in the church hall was so vibrant and it just seemed that everyone I knew was there. I could not wait to play, but I also could not wait to see all the great bands full of friends that were playing before us. I had been into hardcore for a long time before I did a band and here I was in a straight edge band with an album being released on Revelation Records with a cover drawn by Pushead and it seemed like there were 10,000 kids (I know there was not) packed into a place witha great stage and no bouncers and everyone just seemed they wanted tohave fun and really got why we were all there. I honestly felt like Iwas in a dream and would wake up any time. I could give a recap of every band that played, but I will spare you the details and just say that every band got a great reaction and FLOORPUNCH stole the show. They were ON this night and kids showed them love by dancing and diving like crazy.
Our set was great too as we opened with "In My Eyes" by Minor Threat and then played most of our demo and songs off the LP. There had been such a delay in getting our LP out waiting for the artwork from Pushead that most of the kids had a tape of the LP songs and knew a lot of the words. I remember looking out over the packed house of kids singing along and dancing to my band and the feeling I got inside was one I can not put into words. I was seeing kids get the same feeling out of my band that I got when I started going to shows andthat was something I never thought would happen.
At the show there were tons of young kids coming up to me and talking to me and I made sure I spoke to each and every single one of them. Why? Because I remembered when I was a young kid of 14 at one of my first shows, going up to Chris Doherty of Gang Green and talking tohim and him actually seeming interested in what I had to say and him shaking my hand and looking me in the eye. That meant more to a young 14 year old kid just getting into going to shows than he may have known. About a year after that Gang Green incident, another "famous" Boston frontman (kind of notorious for being a dick) snubbed me when I tried to talk to him and it really sucked. I learned from both of those experiences. I am not saying that HC people should be idolized or are famous celebrities, but when a kid likes your band and is just wanting to say hi and tell you how much he likes your band and you act like you don't care then you should not be playing for "the kids."
I finally felt like I was helping Boston Hardcore and keeping it alive and well. It is kind of like having a kid. You feel so proud to see something you love and are helping to keep a lineage alive. I know that sounds cheesy, but I am very proud of all the bands that scene we built in Boston in the mid to late 90s. We all worked hard and proved that bands like Blood for Blood and In My Eyes and Ten Yard Fight could play shows together and have kids get along and come together for the cause of having a great hardcore scene with fun shows for everyone. I guess my memories here are of more than one show that IME played. It is of a scene that I totally felt was an amazing time in Boston Hardcore history (of course, not even close to the early 80s). I felt that at every show there would be 700-1000 kids and everywhere I looked there would be tons of kids X'd up and super stoked on the core.
Many people have asked me since IME broke up when I am going to do another band and the answer is: NEVER. I loved being in a band, I loved playing shows, but I have no desire to be in another band. It was the right time and place for me to do IME. It was with four of my great friends and I got to X up on stage and have my say and now it it's time for me to step aside and go back to being a HC kid. I am still 100% involved in HC. I go to shows every weekend, I travel all over, I go on tour with bands and still actively check out new bands. It is just that my time of being in a band is over. I am glad I got a chance to do all I did with In My Eyes and I am so glad that kids still write to me and are interested in us. I really appreciate any kind words anyone has ever said to me about us and to this day I can't thank the kids enough for making 1997-2000 some of my best memories in hardcore.
Thursday, April 24, 2008
Gus Straight Edge...Youth Crew all star, Gorilla Biscuits 6th member, and Discipline/Ocean Of Mercy singer are just a few titles he could have been given years back. But he is probably known best as the dude constantly diving and going off to hardcore bands all over during the mid/late 80s and early 90s, and singlehandedly made the Project X longsleeve probably the most coveted hardcore shirt of all time. We asked Gus to share some stage diving memories, and we hope these are the first of hundreds of memories to come. -DCXX
I saw Rollins Band headline a bill at a CBs night show, this was around the time of an SST release I believe. Pre-Low Self Opinion and Lala tours. I loved Black Flag and Rollins (up until the one with the razor blade). I can't remember who else was on the bill. I don't know exactly who I was there with but I think it may have been Kevin Beyond and Chaka from Long Islang (not Chaka Burn). Maybe Tom Capone, too? But anyways, that night not too many people were diving. I guess that is why I was into it. Kind of like surfing...when too many people are out in the water you wind up fighting for space and waves. When I am alone I go for waves I would never chase normally. It was a wide open crowd. I think it was when diving was becoming passé for some bands. Rollins was one of them, and not many other people were diving. But I didn't care...I was diving, and the dives ran the gamut: flips, sprawls, punk dives, butt dives. You name it.
Well there was a guy in the front row that was really getting pissed and was trying to punch me and grab me. So after one particular dive where I caught him doing it, I jumped back on stage and stood in front of him. I really could have just kicked the shit out of him as he was sort of stuck there. I just started smacking him a bit and told him not to grab me. Local hero stage divers like me often had the audacity and sense of entitlement to do and dive pretty much as I wanted. You know how they say those who can't, teach? Well, those who can't be in a band, dive. Hands down.
Then Rollins yelled at me. It was still maybe within the first third of the set, but he wanted to put a stop to my antics as soon as he could. He was pissed. He did not give a crap about some local stage dive star in his own mind. I wanted to tell him to fuck off but I was a bit shocked that he would say anything. And it didn't even kill his vibe. Rollins is a pro and knows how to control just about any crowd. He has played with blood gushing form his face. My obnoxiousness did not even phase him. I figured out quick that it was not a GB or YOT show and just got into the band's performance. I think more than anything my ego was bruised.
The next time I saw them was a much bigger venue and crowd surfing was more in than a good acrobatic flip was. I just watched.
I know Rollins but I never talked about that show with him. He is intense. Looking back at it now I think he is a nice albeit slightly weird guy and I sort of feel bad for almost ruining his show. I yelled at someone once after an OOM show for starting a fight during our set. I told him he was disrespectful and that he would have to deal with me I ever saw him starting another fight. Tough guy huh?
Another time at the Ritz, I think at a Superbowl show or some show with a big bill, I had been going off hard during Warzone, and I had been moshing for all of the bands. They were all my friends so I felt like I needed to show some support for each set. With Warzone, they were my homies so I had to go off. Well by midset I was quite done with the dance floor and dives that night, I was just worn out. But then Raybeez dedicated "Dance Hard or Die" to me, so I had no choice but to do something sick. I think it was a flip off of one of the stage monitors. When 'Beez calls on you, you must be ready. After hearing his dedication, it just amped me up more.
Afterwards back stage, he quietly told me in that Raybeez way that he saw me going off. Proud moment indeed. I have gotten a lot of songs dedicated to me but that was one that meant a lot at that time as it was recognition for my moshing "skills." Now that my friend Ray has passed it is a nice memory.
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
We interviewed Drew Beat along with Matt BOLD at Matt's house in K-Town about five years back for a video that was to be included in the planned Livewire Release of a live BOLD set from The Anthrax in summer 1989 (and their final show there). Obviously this never happened, Rev did the discography, and another good idea was scrapped. We filmed the whole interview, and it was probably 3 straight hours of great talk about the band and just NYHC in general. We knew Matt could always recall great stuff. But none of us really knew what to expect with Drew. Would he be into talking about this stuff? Would he remember much? Would he be wearing pirate beatnik clothing and smoking a clove cigarette? Yes, yes, and no were the respective answers to those questions, and the interview ended up being incredible. Drew had a great memory, and he and Matt combined well to tell the whole story.
We are going to post random excerpts of what Drew had to say over the course of how many months or years it takes to get it all up here. We figured we would start with his memories of the Anthrax show that was gonna be released by Livewire and that later era of BOLD. And if you are wondering why we didn't include what Matt had to say, well just stay tuned, because we have something else coming from him shortly.
"Wise Up." -DCXX
I remember that last show we played at The Anthrax, summer of '89... we had a lot of problems at that show with the Zulu situation. Tom and I had said we didn't know if we wanted Zulu to play with us, because he hadn't played with us in a while and Porcell was playing with us on that tour for two weeks and we were solid. This was the only show Zulu could play with us. Tom and I really wanted to sound tight and heavy, and we wanted to show people all the new BOLD stuff the best it could be. I guess this whole thing with me and Tom was that we wanted to really be good and pro, that's where we were coming from at the time, we kinda saw eye to eye like that. Matt was kinda on the fence, because he was more caring about the situation, he saw what we were saying but knew Zulu wanted to play, even if it might be a little riskier. Tom and I just wanted the music tight. Porcelly was really pissed though at me and Tom, he really went off on us, "you fuckin' assholes, you wanna be rockstars! What are you trying to do? Don't give me this bullshit! Just let the kid play!" He was really fired up, I mean he did not want to play over Zulu. So based on that, even though Zulu hadn't played the songs in forever, we had him do it. I mean, if we let Porcell play he probably would have messed the songs up on purpose. Matt was like "hey, whatever you decide." But it made for a great set because we were all amped up with all this tension when we went out there, kinda all pissed off with all this energy. It was a really good show, just really fired up. I haven't heard a lot of the live stuff from that time, but I remember that being a great show...lots of friends, the Anthrax, and the band tension.
I think if Zulu or Tim played on that last record it would have been a hell of a lot different. Because it was really just me, Matt, and Tom writing and playing it. Zulu and Tim had a regression at that time, they kinda pulled back into high school mode at that time, whereas the three of us were trying to have a musical mindframe and push things. I don't think it would have worked with them involved, we kinda pushed them out of it. Those guys went on vacation or some dumbass shit or something and we just planned the recording and it worked itself out. For Tom it worked because it was all him on guitar, nobody was really there to clog anything up from him being able to be creative and go for it. I'm happy with that record, I'm really happy with that record and to me, what I think it did for the hardcore sound. Years later playing with Into Another, I saw bands playing some stuff that I thought was influenced by that record. I could be wrong, but that's what I seemed to hear, kind of a progressive sound. Even though I think for hardcore at the time we were a little ahead of the curve and it was a little weird, things caught up. It didn't make sense when we did it, but it caught up. I was happy about it. It's not a tight record, and I'm sloppy, and the recording isn't great, but I think we were still in an era of crappy recordings. We didn't really have access to the big crazy production. That wasn't our thing. People think that you could get a big produced record, and even though hardcore and crossover bands on Combat Core and Rock Hotel and whatever did it a few years before us, it wasn't that easy and it wasn't cheap. And really, we didn't care. We were just kids who wanted to play hardcore – we didn't care about the slickness, or click tracks or anything professional that came later. We just wanted to play it raw. We just wanted to play hardcore.
You can't find too many dudes who were moshing to Uniform Choice in 1984 with an X on their hand and yet are still living and breathing the life today. It's like old mob guys...a lot retire or head south - very, very few continue to really stay in the mix. Jon Roa may not be moshing to UC today with an X on his hand, but you know what I'm saying. Dude has been in the trenches and has all the tales we want to hear. Tons of topics and he'll be back here soon to give you more, but we started now with a two-part piece on Addiction/End To End.
Dedicated To The Emotion. -DCXX
Give us the whole scoop on Addiction and End To End and what the difference was between the two bands you fronted?
Addiction was myself on vocals, Erik Egan on Bass, Tom Browne (Collision) on guitar and some really good rock drummer who I met. Bryan Bos later joined and we played four shows. It was really primal. A lot like DC Youth Brigade, which is good, but I wanted it to be more like the Necros. Unfortunately, the chemistry was not there. Tom was not all that committed on any level and I wanted something more vital. We had a full set of twelve songs of which I think Tom has a high quality practice tape (ED. Note: WE NEED THIS.). I have not spoken to him since I informed him that I thought that he and I should not play in a band together. The difference was a whole new set and Shawn Connell on guitar.
Addiction was my idea. I thought of the name because it worked two fold in that it addressed the drug taking sect as well as the overbearing new sXe faction that I saw coming into the scene. I thought that the new guard was being obsessed or "addicted" to being part of what was now the "Straight Edge Movement." I always thought that not taking drugs was, in of itself, not good enough. One had to accomplish something, be mindful of others and how the world works and/or should work. The goal of Addiction was to join up with other bands to communicate and rebel. I think that this was a common goal at the time.
Addiction had 10 songs, as I was really hard on those guys to create and work at being in a band. My band background is filled with people who are extremely prolific workaholics with demanding personalities (Ryan Hoffman is one) and I thank each and every one of them for being that way and making me not settle for less.
The band ended when I dolled out responsibilities (pay rent for practice place, call this person, do this, I will do that, etc.) and Tom did not do his share and decided to hang out with his girlfriend at the time. Fair enough. Who am I to tell him what should be his priorities? I called him up (should have done it in person) and told him to focus on his girlfriend and I will take care of the band. It was done.
I called Shawn as Pissed Happy Children were breaking up and asked him to join. He said yes and we played a show six weeks later (we practiced four times a week for three hours until that show).
This ties into maybe the most recognizable piece of history that exists in regard to this band: the famed ADDICTION t-shirt. Bootlegged and imitated, what is the real scoop on this t-shirt? From California photos around '89, it seems like everyone is wearing one. What are the full details on this shirt? Where did the line "Dedicated To The Emotion" come from and what did it mean to you? Would you agree with me that this is one of the coolest hardcore shirts ever known to mankind - and was that the consensus at the time?
Hey! First thanks for the compliment. I think that the artwork of a band is a big part of a band and to read that, well, it makes me think that I did something right. Second, the bootleg thing bums me out. Third, I only saw one photo with someone wearing one (Kevinsted) and I was pretty stoked as he is truly a nice person (not cool, not friendly but NICE). I try to remember every detail about every band I was in so yes I remember that 24 of these shirts were made. Twelve with "Dedicated to the Emotion" on the lower front. Five were sold for ten dollars each. The rest were given out during a Chain Of Strength "Silver Sleeve" tour. I waited to make the shirts until we played our first show. I paused because at the time, it seemed that shirts were more important than the bands so I purposely held off making anything for the band. It would seem that this would be easy but plenty of bands worked it the opposite way. I was not disappointed that people wanted to buy the shirt but then again, they had never seen us play. Dedicated to the Emotion was an Addiction song and here are the lyrics:
Dedicated to the Emotion.
As you will see, time will tell.
I have no rules, slogans to offer.
No package for you to buy or sell.
I have an anger that makes me remember
What I have to offer (and it is)
Bigger than ever and will live many lives.
What I have is:
(Chorus): A mission.
Dedicated to the Emotion.
I will be here. I'm not gone.
I have no rhyme or movement to join.
I have no easy way out.
I have to stay away from that
Which is sold/forced on me.
Song is done, now move on.
You say, "It's old to me."
Well what I have is:
The statement meant that the emotion would always be there. That rebellious thought keeps me honest and forbids me from shopping at Wal-Mart and other exploitive big chains as much as possible. It makes me pay a little more at the local grocer. It keeps me making decisions based on principle and not merely sense gratification. It keeps me asking myself the question, "Should I do something simply because I can or should I refrain for a more important reason?"
The shirt was extremely well received and I thought that was pretty cool, actually. I was going to make a few more but the person who made the screen had a heart attack and died! His family sold his business and with it went the screens. I like the shirt but I sincerely think that the Botch shirt with the sailors is the coolest shirt ever made and I own two and will probably by another one just in case!
What shows were played, or how many, under the name Addiction?
Four: Two with Chain of Strength. One with Reason to Believe. One with Infest.
Who picked the name End To End? Did you have any different ideas for End To End now that there was a name change?
Ryan Hoffman from Chain thought of the name. He looked around my room and saw the Henry Rollins book of the same name and simply said it. I liked it. The meaning is in the liner notes of the repress on Indecision Records. I worded it pretty well and do not want to screw it up by adding or omitting anything. The name change offered us to start anew but really, we just wanted to be a band with a powerful sound and message that did not require any type of pose. The bands I was into at the time were just like us in thought: Reason to Believe, Infest and, although I never knew them, Left Insane. These bands looked like normal kids, acted like normal people but seemed to be on a musical mission. I loved that Infest were into hardcore. That was it: hardcore. They walked it, talked it bought into it and lived it. They were not good looking and into fashion but they were also not anti-fashion. They were real, nice and honest. They played OC and got booed because they did not fit the mold. Never mind that the people booing them could not tell you one damn thing about HC before they themselves got into it. Infest were old school….real old school. Matt was at the first gig I ever attended. He was into it for generations. He is a solid guy.
Um, what was the question?
The recorded material that exists for End To End is a mere three tracks. How do you describe these songs? Were they what you envisioned?
I was satisfied with that recording for many reasons. One is that we did everything in one single take. We layered the guitar with a second track but that was done in one take as well. Once we set up, the recording took as long as the record plays which is 15 minutes max. It was exactly what we sounded like and we were tight. It was exactly how I thought we would sound keeping in mind that it was only a demo. The studio was $25 an hour so with set up, rough mix and finding "our sound" the whole thing cost $50 dollars. I would describe those songs as Necros meets Black Flag.
Monday, April 21, 2008
In October of 1995, Porcell was preparing to move out of the Philadelphia temple and looking to sell a few random items he had laying around. One such item was the original reels to Skiz 4, otherwise known as the Wide Awake "CT Hardcore" 7". My girlfriend (now wife) Traci and I decided to make the purchase and add the reels to our collection. Originally, with Porcell's suggestion, we had thoughts of re-releasing the 7" as an LP with the extra tracks that up until then had never been released. Like many plans and ideas that pop up, the LP never happened, but eventually by the late 90s, Jeff from Smorgasbord Records contacted me and asked to borrow the reels back so that they could use them for the discography that Smorgasbord was now going to do.
At some point, shortly after us buying the reels, Porcell scratched up a few Wide Awake photos and a couple of other random items, wrote the following little memories down, packed it up in a manilla envelope and sent it our way. I always thought this letter was great and really summed up some priceless memories. -TM DCXX
October 18, 1995
Straight edge revenge. Pile ons. Duane Some Records. Butt dives at CB's. Hair bleach. X Swatches. Anthrax graffiti wars. Backside airs. "Flame still burns, suckers!" van. Pre-show workouts. Don Fury's zebra couch. Crippled Youth sleep-overs. Pit police. Near beers at Walter's. Superbowl of Hardcore. Schism "fold and bag" parties. Bad Brains with pic sleeve. 255 N. 8th St. Slap fights with Mike. Champion hooded sweatshirts. The L train. The wall of fame. Mosh parts. Richie at the Wah Wah Hut. "Together" sing-a-longs. Al Brown's cool Dag Nasty shirt. "Storming The Nation" tour. Turning 20 at O'Mahoney's. Powered by Gibson. The Youth. The Crew.
This is about all that's left in the memory banks. Funny that we can't hold on, even if we want to. "This world's like a dream, it's not what it seems. We think it's solid but it fades instead."
BJ Papas may be the most legendary photographer of NYHC. Pretty cool considering the bad rap hardcore has always gotten for the lack of female involvement. Seemingly elusive and interview-shy despite still photographing bands and being connected to the scene which she grew up in, we were psyched as hell to be able to chat with her. Thanks BJ! -DCXX
How, when, and why did you get into hardcore?
I love the music! I grew up in Woodstock, NY. I would go to the local record store, "The Collector," and purchase punk rock records. When I moved to NYC to go college in 1984, I was able to go to shows because there weren't any in Woodstock (Punk Rock, Hardcore and Metal etc.)! It was a great escape from the world. I hated school so going to shows and skateboarding is what got me through it.
What was your photography background before taking photos of bands and Packed NYC clubs?
I took photography classes in high school. I didn't like school, and art classes were the only classes I could deal with. I loved processing my negatives and working in the darkroom making prints. I hated school but I loved NYC and I had to figure out how to move there. I figured if I went to college there, I would not only get out of my parents's house and Woodstock, but also get to be in NYC. So, I choose a cheap school, with only a 2-year degree, The Fashion Institute of Technology. I did graduate with an associate's degree in photography.
How did you feel being not just a girl in a mid 80s hardcore scene, but a girl prominently on stage with a camera?
I was a tomboy and most of my friends were guys. I never really thought about it until I started to sell my photos. BJ is the initials of my full name, so everyone assumed I was a male. They sounded shocked when they heard my voice on the phone. As much as I hated my name, it actually helped me out. I can't imagine getting hired to shoot those bands with a girly name.
Who were your closest friends within the scene?
My closest friends in the scene were the "Alleyway Crew"/Sick Of It All, Rest In Pieces, Bad Brains, Leeway, Agnostic Front, Cro-Mags, Murphy's Law, Warzone, Token Entry, Gorilla Biscuits, Youth of Today, Straight Ahead, Nausea, Big Charlie, Brendan, Alexa, Gwyn and more.
Who were your favorite bands as a fan from the mid to late 80s hardcore scene?
Bad Brains, Agnostic front, Cro-Mags, Sick of it All, Leeway, and Murphy's Law.
Who were your favorite hardcore bands to photograph, and why?
My favorite bands to photograph were very energetic and interesting on stage. Bad Brains...HR did back flips! Sick Of It All were constantly moving and jumping. Leeway, Eddie moved around a lot and jumped off speakers. Murphy's Law was always full of fun.
A packed CBGB dance floor at a 1987 hardcore matinee put out some unbelievable energy. Do you remember wanting to capture specific people dancing or stage diving? If so, who are those people?
I wish I photographed the stage diving, it is what everyone asks me for. I rarely photographed the dancing, I mostly shot the bands. I couldn't afford to shoot film on the crowd. The few stage diving shots I have were of my friends or when I was hired to shoot the crowd.
Are there any specific photos (which you took) that you automatically think of when the phrase "New York Hardcore" is brought up?
I just think of the photo used on The Way It Is record cover. I guess because the album was titled NYC Hardcore, even though it was taken in Connecticut.
Did you know when you got it developed that it was just a classic, timeless photo? What do you remember about it that photo and the show?
Well, I was never happy with any of the photographs I took. Most of my photos that you see were chosen by someone else. I don't remember much at all about the show, but I have been to over a thousand shows and shot at least 3 thousand rolls of film. I think Jordan had asked me for some stage diving photos for an album. I am not sure if this was all I had or if he picked it out of the contact sheet. I think I found out it was the cover when Jordan asked if he could use it. To me, it looked better as a record cover than on my contact sheet. But ultimately, I think the photo summed up NYHC because of all the NY hardcore kids in it, even if it wasn't in New York. Just now while looking at it I noticed Ray Bees (Warzone) was in it! Ray Cappo (Youth of Today), Matt (Crippled Youth/Bold), Gus Pena, and of course Civ and Arthur (GB).
In that pre-internet time period, the first place you would see your photos pop up was in a fanzine. Were there any fanzines you specifically looked forward to and truly enjoyed seeing your photos in from back then or even over the years?
Hmmmm, I can't really remember the names. Some of the more recent ones I liked were "the village noize" and "Schism." There was a small one, it was the 1/4 size of an 8 1/2 x 11 page. But I can't remember what it was called. Sorry, I have the worst memory.
Any good stories involving broken cameras or injury from people stage diving, flying guitars, or kids getting on stage?
My camera sure did break often, but there weren't any good stories about the amount or cost of those repairs. There was always stage diving stories at every show, but there are too many to list. I did break my wrist at an Agnostic Front show though. It was a Rock Hotel show that I wasn't photographing. I had just graduated college and was there for fun. Jimmy G was on stage he was flinging me off. He took me by the arm and leg and swung me into the crowd...I could get a lot farther that way. I am not sure what happened next except I met my longtime friend Brian Friedman because of it. He got me some ice for my wrist and took care of me. It hurt a lot so I asked Big Charlie to take a look at it. He said it was fine, so I didn't worry about it. I spent the night at a friend's and went to a matinee at CB's the next day. My wrist hurt and it was hard to take photos. I just used my arm to rest the camera on so I could shoot. I had Charlie look at it again and he was shocked how bad it looked. He said it was definitely broken! My friend drove me home to my Mom's in Woodstock two hours away, and my Mom took me to the hospital. My wrist was broken and too swollen for a cast. We had to go back the next day. All my mom did was just laugh.
Sunday, April 20, 2008
This is part of an ongoing piece where we asked various people from bands over the years what they recall as the most memorable show they ever played (or attended, if they were never in a band), and why. What is posted here is only a sliver of what is to come, so be sure to check back. -DCXX
A few come to mind. Side by Side at CB's opening for GB and YOT, AKA the shutdown show. That was amazing more for what followed than our set itself, although we set it off after the Pagan Babies laid a stink bomb on stage. They fucking sucked. The singer wore a Flyers jersey and tried to taunt the crowd...about hockey! The sound of no hands clapping.
Project X at the Superbowl of Hardcore. That was like the first or second one of those shows and we somehow got the opening slot totally last minute. I doubt we even practiced for the show. So, we're backstage getting psyched and there's Chris Williamson (rock and roll douchebag/business dick) telling us we have 10 minutes to play and if we don't go on right this fucking minute, we're not going to be allowed to play at all and Porcell is all like "Dude, just chill out guy, let's wait a few more minutes." I was shitting bricks just to be playing on that huge stage with all those people watching, let alone the fact that Porcell is fucking with the promoter. We finally go on and I think on the first chord of the first song, I try and pull some radical move off the drum riser, completely eat shit and have my guitar cord fall out. I was using Porcell's Les Paul and he failed to tell me that it had a really loose input jack and I was too nervous or stupid to loop it through my strap. I spent the remainder of the four-song set chasing my chord around that kept getting unplugged. The best part about it is that there exists somewhere a video of that embarrassment of a performance. I think about that once in a blue moon still feel embarrassed about it.
The GB show that stands out in my memory was at the Greyhound in London, 1989. We met these strippers before playing, maybe at soundcheck, and ended up putting them on the list for the show. During our finale of "Should I Stay Or Should I Go," we had them dance for us. I think they might have showed some titty but that was it. We were really proud of ourselves until we got backstage and people were ready to riot, they were so pissed at us.
This is part of an ongoing piece where we asked various people from bands over the years what they recall as the most memorable show they ever played (or attended, if they were never in a band), and why. What is posted here is only a sliver of what is to come, so be sure to check back. -DCXX
Playing in a HC band can be a real trip, at times it can be a real mind twister. One thing I told myself when people started paying any attention to THE FIRST STEP was "alright – I am not going to let this effect me whether things are good or bad." Well try as I might – I wasn't always successful at that. At one point, it felt like THE FIRST STEP (TFS) could do no wrong. Everywhere we looked were enthusiastic friends looking to us to provide them with straight edge hardcore. A few years later of course things had changed. We were able to see what kind of idiots we were at times, yesterday's "friends" were today's "regrets," and other people had changed and that's just how it goes. The way that happened for us was funny though. I don't think it was the kind of thing where anyone set out to do anyone wrong. On the contrary, I think HC is basically people growing up, learning, making mistakes, following their instincts and doing whatever makes sense at the time.
Anyways, around 2005 I really wasn't too happy about the Hardcore scene around me. I had made a few good friends in the last few years who I was no longer close with. First on the list was our old bass player, Andy Norton. Andy was easily one of the best people I had ever been in a band with. But, as anyone who has been in band can tell you, at times you can easily forget about that kind of stuff and let the silliest things get between you. Basically – TFS had broken up a few years before and Andy and I grew distant during that period and disagreed on getting it going again.
At this time Andy was playing bass for our old friends CHAMPION. A few years before we had done a tour together, as well as played several shows. We were both somewhat new bands at the time, and I would say that our tour together was one where we grew, experienced a lot of things for the first time and generally had a blast. However, while our bands sounded quite similar, for a few years after we had managed to drift apart. CHAMPION was touring heavily, and we were doing our own thing. This wasn't the kind of thing where there was "shit talking" or bad vibes of course – but it was more of a mutually curious "man I have NO IDEA what's going on with those guys."
THE FIRST STEP and CHAMPION finally played together, after about 2.5 years, in Florida. I enjoyed their set and I thought "man I miss playing with these guys." The CHAMPION guys were as friendly as I had remembered them and it was great to catch up. But things were definitely not settled with myself and Andy. I hadn't felt good about our falling out for quite awhile. I decided to take this show as an opportunity to confront Andy and apologize for letting things slip. For the uninitiated – Andy has A LOT of love. He is such a friendly and generous guy – but when you are on the wrong side of that – it feels cold. Anyways – after the show I told him "hey man – I really miss our friendship and I acknowledge that I did you wrong. I let you down – and I apologize." It was a hard thing to say – but it was really how I felt. He accepted my apology – but seemed to have an equally awkward time with that interaction.
So that's the backstory! And now onto the show! It was early summer of 05, THE FIRST STEP were doing a weekend of final shows with OUR TURN. Our San Diego show at the CHE CAFE included CHAMPION, and Aram's new band BETRAYED. It was good to see CHAMPION so soon again. They had their first drummer back in the band which meant that it was basically like "reuniting" the bands who had toured together several years before. I still hadn't seen Andy at the show though.
OUR TURN played, and I remember it being the best time I had seen them. They weren't around very long and were already breaking up – so it was nice to see them play in a nice packed venue with a good stage for diving. Where TFS was a band of uniform and solidarity – OUR TURN was a band of diversity. It was clear this weekend that they were beginning to go their different directions. But at this show they were tight. Carl, their singer, really went crazy that night. It showed that he wasn't just posturing as a HC singer doing moves, but that he was really putting all of himself into the set. I mentioned it to him later and he said he was "just aware that this show would probably be their last." He also had this blue San Fransico Wrestling type shirt on. It looked STRONGLY like the JOHN JAY shirts that we knew from investigating BOLD photos. Good look Carl! He confessed later that the shirt was really from a "gay men's clothing line." Best looking guy at the show!
I believe BETRAYED played next. They were new – but quickly had a STRONG following. I remember being really stoked on them as they started. Mainly because they were all friends of mine prior to being a band, and it was obvious that they were going to do some good things. I was excited for Greg because he had recently gone through a rough patch with his bands. I was particularly excited to see my friend Aram sing. Aram was the first member of CHAMPION I met. He is the kind of Hardcore kid who will walk right up to you at a show and start talking and sharing with you. In our tours together he was always having deep talks, or cutting up, making big plans, and he is VERY straight edge. A lot of dudes just end up on the mike – but he was ideal for it and he had A LOT to say. I was glad to see my friend up on stage sharing himself, and not another kid who was playing around to get some attention. Lastly – I had recently made amends with my friend Todd Jones. He could be as hardheaded and stubborn as me – but it felt better to be cool with each other again. I was excited to hear what new riffs he had and how he was always taking his ideas and sound farther – particularly at this time.
Then THE FIRST STEP was up. I remember I was nervous to play after BETRAYED. We hadn't played California in a while and I wasn't sure if kids still had the love. I was wrong. The place was ape for TFS. Something about "the Che" is that they have these rafters that kids could swing on and then kind of dive. I remember our friend Larry Ransom heckling Greg Bacon. Something that Todd Jones initiated at this time was a "GREG BACON" chant. It would start small, but then you'd have a whole show chanting "GREG BACON." This was awesome because Greg can be a bit shy and reserved – but he deserves love. Anyways – the part that this was all building to was yet to come. We always ended our set with our song "THE FIRST STEP." During the "preMOSH break" Greg handed his bass to Andy, who I still hadn't seen that night, and Andy played the rest of the song. I remember him really going off and being happy. While at the FL show it felt like we merely talked – at this show it felt like things were going to be ok afterall! After the song ended – we decided to play WOLFPACK by DYS to the appreciation of the crowd.
Seeing Andy play with us again really blew my mind. A few months before I felt that was a bridge which I had burnt and would never be able to retrace. It was also similarly nice to be around my old friends in CHAMPION and Todd Jones and feel great vibes instead of silly "uncertain" HC vibes.
There are a lot of great times to be had in HC – but you can't really enjoy them on your own. The people around you, and what they have to offer are our opportunity to participate and connect with this music. Without your friends you can easily become just an isolated nerd. To me – this show was REALLY good in terms of recent\ HC shows (great line up), great energy from the crowd, great turn out; but what made it memorable to me was reconciling with good friends. I believe in reconciliation and it felt great to be forgiven and to connect with my friends.
Karma Jinpa Zangpo