[Youth Of Today - "We're Not In This Alone" promo shoot, Dylan on bike]
I interviewed Dylan for Impact Fanzine number two. What was cool in talking with Dylan was how psyched he was in recalling his youth spent in clubs and vans, hanging out as practically an honorary member of Youth Of Today and Gorilla Biscuits, notoriously known as "Walter's little bro." I figured some random cool excerpts from that interview were worth posting if you didn't catch it the first time around in print. Shout out and props to Pete Russo, Impact style.
One thing funny that I remember is that at the Norwalk Anthrax, there was this guy that worked there who would kind of sweep up; his name was Spazz. I don't know if he was kind of retarded, I think he was friends with the guy who owned that place. I just remember everybody called him Spazz because he was slightly retarded. But he would clean up. One time, after a YOT show, we were all there after taking equipment out and nobody else was really there. Spazz was just kinda sweeping up, and Ray just kinda teasing him. And then Spazz started chasing Ray around with his broom. It was for like a few minutes. That was kinda typical of that guy. He was older, he had like curly dark hair. He looked kinda like a punk dude, sort of like The Ramones kinda style. But I think he was into like, retard stuff, that's what he picked up. He was a nice guy, but he was just kind of out there. You should ask people about Spazz
You know what was a great, awesome fuckin' show there was when the Cro-Mags played. They had like broken up, and then they got back together with Harley singing, one of their first shows back was at The Anthrax. That was fuckin' awesome. We were so expcecting the Cro-Mags to suck without John Joseph, but Harley was awesome, man. It was pretty crowded, because I don't think the Cro-Mags ever played there before. It wasn't as crazy as CB's with John, but definitely sick and they were so good, such a change with Harley. But Harley was so good. He was so fired up because it was like their first show back. I can't remember him saying anything specific, but I'm sure it was good.
Also, there was the wall in the back of the club that everybody wrote on. Right next to the stage was this wall that they white walled, and it was the same day that we went up there with the Project X single and Schism Fanzine. That day we all pretty much covered that wall in writing. That was just a fun moment there. Since we were the first ones there, everything we wrote related to youth crew stuff and made fun of everything else. So next time we were up there, other people had written. I think the AF guys had been there, they wrote stuff. But it was just this overwhelming, powerful wall of straight edge stuff.
The PX record release show...I remember that show because of that wall and selling those records. I remember being in the back room and me and Porcell writing stuff on the labels right there. If you have one of those today with something written on it, it probably got written that day. We wrote them right there. That was a great show. The reason I wouldn't put Project X in with The Anthrax was because of this show they played in the city at The Lismar Lounge. They played, and it was like in a basement on First Avenue and Third Street, it's around the corner from this Hell's Angels clubhouse, I think they had something to do with it. It was downstairs, and it was just packed. They covered a DYS song, "More Than Fashion," and it was just sick. But I don't remember PX playing that much.
Another good story was when Judge played there and they had Jimmy Yu as their bass player. He did like martial arts and stuff, and they had this back room for the bands, and he was doing kicks and stuff. But there was this metal heater or something hanging off the ceiling, and he did this huge kick and just jumped up and whacked it. I mean it was so high. It didn't fall or anything, but it was like, "Holy shit!" He was so acrobatic, it was nuts. He was like this mystery guy, he didn't really hang out. I could never really figure out where he lived, I just knew he stayed in this Buddhist temple in Chinatown. He was like shrouded in mystery (laughter).
Oh, I got another good story. I remember Insted coming out and playing, and having a fight with fireworks in the parking lot after playing. Those guys had like roman candles and bottle rockets, so it was all these dudes from California and us shooting fireworks at each other from van to van. We were in the YOT van, and then there was the Insted van, and fireworks are just all over the place going out at each other. That was fun. Nobody got hurt. I was friends with those guys from being out in California. I had been there for part of a YOT tour out in California, it must have been in '87. So I knew them when they came out here.
I remember Bold's last show there and being really into it. That was really big. I remember being like, "Ok, these guys aren't playing anymore, this is it." That was their last show, and I was always a big Bold fan and good friends with Matt. I always remember that show and being really into it and thinking how good they were.
I think my favorite band though, at The Anthrax, was Side By Side. They just tore up The Anthrax. Jules was so good, and especially in the environment. I think he felt empowered in Connecticut and could be like, "Ok, I;m from New York, and I am just runnin' this place." I think he felt strong there. He was always kinda like that; yelling, and telling people to dance, and you had to. I remember one show where he just comes out with this white
Champion hoodie on the first song even though it was super hot. Just screaming and going nuts. Yeah man, Jules.
Every YOT show was awesome and crazy. To me, YOT shows at CB's were more intense.They really commanded things at CB's, whereas Side By Side really commanded things at The Anthrax. I mean, the YOT Anthrax shows were awesome, but the ones they did at CB's were different.
Judge was great too at The Anthrax, same with Gorilla Biscuits, it was just weekend after weekend, everybody I knew was involved. Those shows would be like, Side By Side, Gorilla Biscuits, Youth Of Today, it was like, "Ok, you know it's gonna be fun!" It was no let down.
That first Shelter show in Norwalk, I think I was at that. It was weird, because me and Porcell would talk about kidnapping Ray and getting him deprogrammed. When we were doing that Ray and Porcell record we would talk about that. Porcell would be like, "Man, we gotta get Ray to sing on this, and we gotta get him deprogrammed!" I think Porcell wanted to call Ray's Mom and be like, "Hey, we gotta get Ray outta this thing." It was weird when Porcell just kinda signed up, I was just like, "What?!" It kind of freaked me out, just because I had so many conversations with Porcell about how bad it was and how it robs you of your personality and freedom. But with Ray, he's calmed down from all that a bit and he's more back to his normal self.
Thursday, May 29, 2008
[Youth Of Today - "We're Not In This Alone" promo shoot, Dylan on bike]
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Porcell's Todd Youth story went over well, so we thought we'd drop this great shot of a young Todd Youth hanging with Harley Flanagan. Although the photo has floated around over the years, big thanks to Ben Alvie for hooking us up with a good copy. Hopefully we can get more Todd Youth content in the future. -DCXX
This picks up where the first part of our interview with Jon Roa left off. To read the first part click here:
Thanks again to Roa - enjoy!
We heard things regarding other labels but no one came forward. We were only together for six months or so. This was in the age of snail mail only so getting in touch with someone was a commitment and we all know that a lot HC kids are pretty bad with that type of thing NOW, let alone in those medieval times. By the time anyone thought about actually contacting us, we were done as a band.
I liked Draw Blank as an option but in the end Ryan wanted to start a label and that settled it. I was loyal to the area and to those people. I wanted to get something going and for a while we did. I know a lot of people did not get their records from Foundation and I am sorry about I had nothing to do with that process. I did not know. I still talk to Dan and he is super nice.
Who designed the End To End shirts? Seemingly pretty rare, do you remember how many were printed, when/where they were sold, and if there were multiple designs or colors?
The interesting thing about that shirt is that Chris Ortiz, esteemed photographer for both Thrasher and Transworld Skateboard magazines took that photo. I designed the shirt (I think my lack of artistic talent showed). Red and a royal blue were the colors. I remember twelve of each color and besides one each for the band members, they were sold and they were ten dollars each. We sold out our first show and then struggled with other problems so that we never made any more. I think what helped make it popular is the video for the Mouthpiece song "Cinder."
A few years earlier you sang for Justice League. Did singing in Addiction/End To End seem like a world apart from your experience in Justice League as far as the California scene and you as a person? Or did you just feel like you were a couple years older and singing in a hardcore band?
Good question. I adapted pretty quickly but the only real difference I could see about California was a big one. In the End To End time, people and bands were generally ultra-competitive and spiteful (the exception of Insted); whereas in the Justice League time people and bands generally helped each other. Vic Bondi tells a story about Articles of Faith being given 500 hundred dollars by Dead Kennedys upon being told that their amp was dropped out of a second story
window and smashed. You tell me, would a band do that nowadays?
Also, Justice League tours were pretty awesome as not too many bands toured in those days. If a band went out on the road it was a sign that they had it together. There were lots of great bands of the early 80s that never toured. As a result when we toured we would have big shows - one night with 7 Seconds, the next night with Stalag 13 and the next night with Corrosion of Conformity. By the time End to End was out playing, everyone toured, there were multiple venues and as a result bands got less respect from everyone including themselves.
That said, some of the best bands came out of that era and made the older bands look timid: Infest, Downcast, Chain, Gorilla Biscuits…those bands alone made bands like Dag Nasty or Adolescents seem weak and dated.
Does one Addiction/End To End show stick out to you amongst all others? If so, why?
End To End at The Country Club with Chain of Strength. Ryan and Frosty came up to us and in a 100% good-natured competition from one friend to another said something like, "You think you good and tight? We will see, we'll see." After the show, Frosty said we were super tight and definitely got the Best Band Of the Night Award. Addiction shows were interesting only because a lot of people asked for a free shirt!
Another was in a garage in Los Cerritos because it was outdoors in the day. I thought it was always exciting to play outdoors and have done so in almost every band in which I sang. In the day made it pretty cool as it was the first and last time I ever did that.
Had End To End continued with a stable and capable line-up, what do you think the vibe of the band and the sound of the material would have been into 1990? Were you still wanting to sing in a fast and heavy hardcore band?
I am not sure what the future would have held but I eventually put a band together called Five Elapsed (terrible name even if temporary) with Chris Bratton and Ted from Justice League. When that went nowhere (a few practices during a super hot summer) I hung it up for a while and eventually graduated from the University of Southern California.
I went on to sing in the almighty EYELID but that is another story (as is when a certain singer from OC backed down when Ryan Hoffman challenged him to a fight). I think I will save that one for you guys later...
Double Cross chief contributor Tony Rettman caught up with Negative Approach axeman Rob McCullough not too long back and picked his brain on the legendary powerhouse of a band we all remain unconditionally indebted to. Big thanks to Tony, and expect to see more from him here soon, as he will continue to talk to the people we want to hear from.
Tony Rettman -- Give a brief description of how and where you grew up and how you think the environment you grew up in factored in on you getting into Punk.
Rob McCullough -- I was actually born in England, and moved to the U.S in 1975 when I was 13. My aunt lived in Detroit, and my mom was sick so we moved here so she could be closer to her sister. I think being from England was one of the main things in discovering and associating with punk. I felt very alienated from most of the kids in high school and my friends back in England would tell me about these bands they were into.
When I went back to visit England with my dad and brother in August 1977, we visited my best friend. He had a Sex Pistols 7" with "No Fun" I think on the "B" side. When I heard the raw sound and Johnny Rotten swearing on a record, I was hooked!
TR -- What were some of the first Punk records you bought?
RM -- The first bands I got into were pretty standard and quite tame really. Back then if the local records store didn't carry it, you weren't going to be exposed to it. ‘Night Flight’ on the USA network used to show some Punk/New Wave videos and they were so different than what everyone else was listening to that even some of the New Wave bands sounded pretty raw. The first kind of bands I got into were Devo, Sex Pistols, Clash, 999, Blondie, Gary Newman, the Dickies and Sham 69.
TR -- Describe what the Midwest music scene was like at the time before Negative Approach started playing out.
RM -- I didn't know too much about any Midwest scene until about a month before I joined NA. I was into hanging out at the Endless Summer skate park in Roseville, Michigan and listening to a bunch of California bands that we read about in skate magazines. I had a Punk Rock cover band that played various backyard parties. We sucked and changed our name every time we played, but we had a great time. We would play two or three songs, some jocks would show up and then there would be the very stereotypical jock/punk showdown and the party would break up.
I discovered the Detroit scene at the end of the summer of '81. Black Flag came to town and played at Bookies in Detroit. I couldn't make it to the show, but the next day everyone told me about this group of kids from Maumee who had a band (the Necros) who were very cool and had invited us to another hardcore show. The first show I went to was in Canada at the Coronation Tavern in Windsor. The bands were Necros, Minor Threat, and another one I can't remember. I was struck by so many things that night. The music was so raw that it just grabbed you. Also, someone heckled Minor Threat and the DC kids that drove up just dropped this guy with such a show of force…it was awesome! Then after the show we met Brian Baker and I bought Teen Idols, SOA, and Minor Threat singles. I couldn't believe that guys like me could put out records, and were really cool to talk with.
TR -- Did most of Negative Approach skate?
RM -- Everyone in NA except John basically lived at the Endless Summer skate park. We read about Alva in the mags, and a lot of those guys came to Endless Summer on tours. Alva, Steve Olsen, Lance Mountain and a few more came through. I think I had been skating about a year before magazines like Thrasher started writing about the punk stuff going on in L.A. I took an interest as soon as I read about it. I think the skate and hardcore scenes were outside the norm at the time, so I could relate to both. Back then both were so looked down on that you stuck up for anyone in either scene. I didn't meet any skaters through the music, and I guess once I started playing I really hung out at the park less and less. I had a bad motorcycle crash when I was 15 and my left leg was pretty destroyed so I was never good at skating, I just enjoyed it and felt a great bond with all the misfits who hung out at the park.
TR -- How did you get to know Tesco Vee?
RM -- The first time I met Tesco was at the one of the first Meatmen shows at the Coronation Tavern in Canada. It was pretty amazing. I was a couple of years older than most of the people at the skate park so I could get into clubs to see bands that not all of them could. I was actually there that night with the 1st NA lineup (John, Pete, Zuheir, and me). After the show the Necros introduced us to Tesco and based on them telling him that our band was really cool he interviewed us for his Touch & Go fanzine right then and there!
TR -- How did you become aware of the slam dancing/stage diving ritual of Hardcore?
RM -- I had read about it in skate mags and it honestly intimidated me at first. Going to my first show I was nervous about what the hell was going to happen. Once you got involved though it was a very cool scene. It wasn't like what was portrayed in ‘The Decline’ at all. The Detroit scene was very tight. If you fell people picked you up. Nobody was just punching wildly, it was well choreographed and there was room for anyone who wasn't an idiot. We were nearly all straight edge, so if some drunk who you didn't know just stormed in swinging, he would get taken down so hard and fast it was frightening. Todd and Corey from the Necros were scary as hell in the early days and I felt like we sort of followed their lead a lot of the time at first as far as what was and wasn't good slam dance etiquette. I know that sounds stupid now, but the Necros really were the model that most of us were looking up to in the summer/fall of '81.
TR --When and how did you guys get to know the kids in the D.C. scene?
RM -- We met them briefly at the Minor Threat / Necros gig at the Coronation, but we really got to know them when we hung out in D.C during the ‘Process of Elimination’ tour in the summer of '82. They were the only other scene we met where people had fun hanging out. Guys like Ian MacKaye and Jeff Nelson were way too serious or intense to hang out and have a good time with, but Brian Baker was a riot and he introduced us to a lot of cool people, some that I still talk with to this day.
Monday, May 26, 2008
Thanks to Hank Peirce, we here at Double Cross got our hands on a pile of priceless shots of SSD, DYS and the original Boston Crew. All photos were taken by Gail Rush between 1980 and 1981. Check back soon for more on the interview with Hank Peirce, plus more Boston Crew content and photos. -DCXX
The crew, Smalley, Jaime, Al Barile, Chris Foley, Jonathan, Springa, Pat...
Friday, May 23, 2008
On May 8th we posted an excerpt from an interview that Gordo did with Shaun Sheridan of the Anthrax club. Along with the interview I dropped in a pic from the original Stamford, CT Anthrax that I had come across. Porcell saw the article and photo and sent me a great story to go along with it. Big thanks to Porcell for this contribution and we hope to see many more from him in the future. -Tim DCXX
That live shot was the Freeze at the Stamford Anthrax, somewhere around 1984. Cappo is the guy at the bottom of the pile up, lying flat on his back on the right hand side. I'm on the left, wearing a white shirt with a huge smile on my face, right underneath the guitar player. The kid directly next to me, with the shaved head and the circles drawn all over his shirt, was a really cool kid I met that night for the first time. He said his name was Heap and he was only 14 years old. Everyone took note of him because even though he was really young, he moshed like a maniac for every band. In the beginning days of the Anthrax, not too many new kids came, so when someone showed up out of the blue you were psyched and naturally you'd introduce yourself. So I befriended Heap and showed him around, pointed out what sketchy streets to avoid (there were plenty), and brought him to the deli down the street to get a drink. On the way he told me that he had just run away from home because life with his mom was too hellish to even explain, and that he had pretty much been living wherever he could for a couple of weeks, even to the point of sleeping on park benches all night with a stick by his side in case someone fucked with him. I remember thinking that this kid is so friggin' little and already has a pretty rough life. I said "Damn, bro, that's harsh, what are you gonna do now?" He said his plan was to hop a train to New York City and hide in the bathroom so he wouldn't have to pay. I was like "Do you know anybody? Do you have anywhere to go when you get there?" He said he didn't but he would just walk to the Lower East Side and try to meet some punks to stay with.
I remember thinking that here was a kid who in a normal world would be at home watching cartoons and studying his multiplication tables, and yet somehow at 14 years old, this brave little bastard was about to go alone to the ghetto of New York City - with no money, no friends and not much of an alternative. I was a little scared for him and sincerely shook his hand and said "Hey I hope everything works out for you, good luck bro." He kind of laughed and said "Yeah, I'm probably gonna need it." Then we went back to the Anthrax and we both moshed for the Freeze like our lives depended on it.
A year or two later, I was walking down 3rd Ave. on my way to a matinee at CBGB's when I saw Raybeez with a bunch of skinheads on the corner. He said "Yo Porcell, meet the newest member of Warzone!" and put his hand on this kid's shoulder. I said "Heap, holy crap man, remember me from the Anthrax? Damn, you made it to New York alive!" He smiled and said, "Yeah, and I don't go by Heap anymore, you can call me Todd Youth." -Porcell
Thursday, May 22, 2008
[Pressure Release, Tom and Doug, photo courtesy of Joe Snow]
I think I speak for Tim as well when I say that Pressure Release is a band we both really love that started somewhere cool and ended up somewhere weird and mysterious, but simultaneously even cooler. Not to slag the early material, but the seven inch is so dark and bizarre (considering the time and previous material) that I have a hard time even thinking it was the same band with straight forward youth anthems a year prior. Nonetheless, that is our favorite material. I have never done angel dust, but I would imagine that if I ever did, at some point the Pressure Release seven inch would appear and start playing very, very loudly.
Guitarist Tom Kuntz popped up on the Livewire message board about six months back during a great and lengthy thread about the band. I made a mental note to track him down, and finally just caught up with him. This is part one of a large overall piece we will be doing on Pressure Release over how ever long it takes to publish all possible information about them. Wanna contribute? Get in touch.
I know Gordo pretty much spoke for the both of us already, but I still wanted to chime in. He definitely hit the nail on the head when he said the later Pressure Release material struck a unique chord with me. As much as I love the early material, X Marks The Spot, etc, the New Breed comp and 7" are my favorite. Especially with the 7", the sound is so dark and dissonant, I always felt some sort of BL'AST! vibe and connected with it. Definitely my favorite 7" ever released on New Age and along with Turning Point, one of the main reasons I wanted my band, Mouthpiece, on New Age.
A couple random memories I have regarding Pressure Release was talking to Tom on the phone sometime in 1989. I remember I was working on Common Sense fanzine at the time and wanted to reach out to Tom and coordinate an interview. We talked for a bit, but for some reason or another, the interview never came together. I guess I'm finally getting that interview.
The other memory was when Alex Napeck was playing bass in Burn and the entire band had hung out at my girlfriend's parents house. Chaka and Gavin were doing all the talking, while Alan and Alex were the quite ones. Alex especially hardly said a word and really kept to himself. I remember all I could think of was, "This dude played bass in Pressure Release!" At one point Alex was hanging out in the kitchen, by himself, so I came in and said, "What's up?" He responded with a "Hey," and that was the beginning and end of our conversation. I wanted so badly to dig the guy's brain for Pressure Release talk and YOT "We're Not In This Alone" promo photo talk, but it just wasn't happening. The dude was on a completely different plane and I unfortunately was not going to have any luck cracking him. Who knows, maybe I'll get another chance someday.
How did you get into hardcore and when would this have been? When would straight edge tie into this?
It was around 1986 I believe. Me and my friends were doing lots of skateboarding and the music sort of went with the territory. At first we were into the really mainstream skate stuff like Black Flag and JFA and then we started going to local hardcore shows and realized we really liked the local things going on.
Straight Edge at the time just seemed really interesting and we related to the people in that scene, I don't really know what the defining moment was when we all said "let's be straight edge!" I can't really remember. But I know that after a few years of that, we started to feel the opposite way about it, we were more focused about the music, and not on the fact that we were a "straight edge band." We didn't want fans based on what we stood for, we wanted people who appreciated the sounds we were making and to not lump us in with other bands.
Pressure Release started out as a very "youth" oriented band associated with the CT straight edge scene. Who would you cite as your biggest influences and closest comrades? What bands personally inspired you to pick up a guitar and write songs?
Hmm...it really depends on what stage of that entire time. My ideas and influences were changing rapidly during that time. Our closest friends were a combination of the CT bands like Up Front and Wide Awake, etc., but because our bassist and drummer lived in NYC, we also had a connection to the NYC bands like Gorillla Biscuits, etc. When we made our demo, we were very much listening these sorts of bands.
By the time of recording our seven inch, we were listening to much different stuff. Articles Of Faith, Life's Blood, Metallica, Human Rights, the Cro-Mags demo, BL'AST!, Void, etc. BL'AST! and Void were definitely big influences. We really wanted to make a cross genre record, we really wanted to make something unique. We were gravitating heavily to the dark side of things. We wanted to make an introspective, serious, dark record with strange influences. In the studio we were playing with weird African percussion instruments and synthesizers, and layered guitar solos, but I will come back to this.
Can you give a full run down of the Pressure Release line-up from beginning to end. Specifically what caused Doug to be replaced by Ben, and how did you feel about that change?
Original line up:
Tom Kuntz: guitar
Alex Napeck: bass
Sam Haffy (or happy?): guitar
Thai Park: drums
Doug Byrnes: vocals
At some point early on, we asked Sam to leave the band. I think basically because he wasn't that serious about it or something and couldn't really play his instrument. I can barely remember. For a while it was the four of us. At some point we had a guy named Jay from upstate Connecticut join the band, but that was quite short-lived as well. I think that was kind of right at the end. I can seriously barely remember.
Later in the game, after we recorded the 7" with Doug, he was losing alot of enthusiasm for the band and was doing a lot of snowboarding. He would disappear up to Vermont for long stints, so we asked Ben Smith to join the band to replace Doug. Ben went in and re-recorded the vocals on the 7", and then in a crazy pressing mix up, Doug's original vocals ended up getting pressed. In the long run, I think it is pretty awesome, because it was him who deserved to have his voice onthe record after being in the band for so long.
What are your memories of recording the Pressure Release demos?
The original P.R. demo was recorded at a place called "The Music Box"on the Lower East Side. I was like 15 years old and it was totally freezing and we were walking around with our guitar cases past all these shanty towns and feeling like we were going to get jumped at any second. All I remember about the recording of that demo was how damn fast it was done, and that we put way too much reverb on the vocals.
The second demo we did was at Don Fury. I think we did a song called"I Try" or something like that? I can't even remember!!! But we were much more proud of these songs. They had the sound we originally wanted. Very gritty hardcore. That was a fun day. Don Fury at that time was like hardcore central. That was where you went if you wanted to record.
The Anthrax seemed to have been your homebase. What are your favorite memories of having played there? What about other bands you saw there...20 years later, what jumps out?
I can honestly say I saw hundreds of shows there. Everything from the Circle Jerks to the Cro-Mags to YOT to Fugazi (before Guy even sang in the band) to Mind Over Four, etc. The list literally goes on forever. If a band toured, it came through that place, and we were there both nights on most every single weekend. It was truly an amazing time.
After the X Marks tracks, the band began to progress a bit by the time the New Breed tracks were recorded, which you already hit on.What was exactly going on in the band as you got further into 1988 and towards 1989?
Well, sort of covered this before, but essentially Alex and I were the ones writing the songs, and we had just gotten really into different music. We were listening to less traditional stuff. I think we really just wanted to make a record that caught people off guard. I think right around that time Absolution was on the scene and we loved how dark their sound was. We really wanted to create complex arrangements, not your typical hardcore songs. We also loved the "And Justice For All" record by Metallica, we loved how it felt like this one long song, like an opera. We wanted to try to achieve that.
For the seven inch, we went to Staten Island to this really tricked out studio that Alex found that gave us a really good price. We played him the Cro-Mags DEMO (not the record) and said "we want it to have this sound." It was this really compressed sound we loved.
At first the studio engineer/owner guy was sort of confused by our style of music, but I remember him being really impressed how buttoned up we were. Alex and I had everything really thought out. By the end, the engineer guy was quite into it.
Similarly, you obviously progressed as a guitar player...was this natural, or were you really trying to differentiate yourself from standard power chord playing?
Yeah...I just remember sitting in my bedroom with a double tape deck recording ideas for guitar solos, experimenting with layers and harmonies etc. We just thought it would be awesome to have lots of guitar solos, both the "ripping" type as well as the more melodic type. I was a pretty good guitar player so we figured we put it to use. We thought it could be interesting.
Lyrically, Alex was writing all the lyrics. I dont think I wrote a word. He was writing seriously dark stuff. About isolation, and introspection, and about girls. He was discovering sort of the dark side of girls and sex etc. At the time, it was really quite different than what people would write about in hardcore.
[MUCH MORE PRESSURE RELEASE, TO BE CONTINUED]
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
It is so hard to describe what it was like 27 years ago, not that I have forgotten but that our culture has changed so dramatically. Today people and society celebrate difference, or at least they give lip service to it and are much more willing to not make a "____" that someone is gay, or Hispanic or a little crazy. But in the early 80s conformity was not just a word, it was a law that was enforced by everyone fromthe other kids at school, to teachers, to cops, and old folks on the subway.
Let me also say that I have no idea what it is like to be a teenager today, there is no underground anymore, as soon as anything is deemed cool it is picked up by a web-site and within two weeks a version of it is being sold at the mall. What did Tom Frank call it...the "commodification of cool." But if anyone wants to experience what it was like to be hardcore in the early 80s, just wear a t-shirt with a photo of Osama bin Laden on it and walk down any street. It was really that bad.
Of course we did all revel in it a little bit, what was the title of that Iron Cross single, "Hated and Proud"? A few years ago I heard someone on NPR say that he got into punk because as a young gay man it made other folks at his school fear him. He called it 'the squid affect,' dressing like a punk made people fear him regardless of the fact that he was a sissy (his words not mine), much the same way that fish are confused and frightened by the ink that squids produce.
OK so how did I get into the Boston scene? Well I grew up about 60 miles south of Boston, and for some reason I became an outcast. Well I guess I was always different than the kids I grew up with, and wanted to be part of something that I could call my own. I was tired of hearing my friend's older brothers say that all the best music had already been played, all the best parties had already happened, and that nothing I could do could was as meaningful as the 60s. It was infuriating and at the same time freeing in that I didn't have to measure myself to some old hippy shit, but what to do, with whom and where.
Although I lived closer to Providence and went to plenty of shows there, Boston was where you could go and be a part of a scene. There was something so primal about walking into some shitty little club and seeing all these other freaky kids, "my tribe" I remember thinking. And although the Boston scene had the reputation as a hard city, the shows were filled with every kind of kid from all over New England: abused kids, the super smart, the mentally retarded, gay and lesbian kids, bored kids, you name it they were there. The thing about Boston is that we have this Napoleon complex with New York, you know always number two regardless of how great you are and how shitty they are. It goes deeper than just Red Sox vs. Yankees, historically thinking about the political importance of Boston vs. NY, there are so many examples, but let me just say that we all grew up with that in our DNA.
So Boston always wants to show that it is as important if not better than NY, and that was the attitude that the scene had, that bands had, whether or not we even were consciously thinking about NYC. But much like the idea of the squid affect being able to come off as tough was something that most of us had never experienced and it was attractive, even though it would turn you into the same type of creep that you got into hardcore to avoid.
Who was the original "Boston Crew?" Where were you in this mix? Were there different phases or eras? Was straight edge a pre-requisite of sorts? What bands epitomized The Crew?
Well the thing to remember with the 'crew' is that it was about individuals, not bands, although SSD, DYS and Negative FX were clearly Boston Crew bands, it was because Al, Choke, Jamie, and Smalley belonged to those bands rather than the other way about. I wasn't a part of the crew, which had to do with the fact that I didn't know those guys at that time as I lived well outside of the city and couldn't get into Boston as often. Though now it sounds like a club that I didn't have membership in. But the crew were the folks that Al Barile was friends with, and who wanted to do something new and were willing to wear sleeve hats. (You know, when you ripped the sleeve off of a t-shirt and wear it like a head band).
Of course this whole thing going on right now with Al and Springa is sad. Al has such integrity and is very set in his ways and Springa is just driving him nuts. Of course what Al and any artist needs to remember is that you create with other people and that no one can own it. Now I'm not saying that Springa is right in trying to sell his Springa Show as SSD, but Springa was as important to SSD as the rest of the band. He created a balance to all of the heaviness of the band with his chaotic absurdity that made it punk.
When did you become Hank Straight Edge and not just Hank? Were you straight edge the second you heard of the concept? Who gave you the name, and did it easily stick? Do you still commonly refer to yourself by that name? Do others? Are you still proudly straight edge? (ED. Note: I know, I know, to ask someone if they are straight edge is a boring, typical question - but I had to ask here).
You are right on with the description of how I became Straight Edge, as soon as I heard the concept I was sold. I already wasn't doing drugs or drinking and was so psyched that there was a name for it and bands who were singing about it. My sister and I both hated where we grew up and wanted to get away, she took the "I'm a rebel and will do drugs and drink to express my dissatisfaction" route. But for me I just looked at how all of the idealism of the 60s shit the bed once drugs were introduced. Fuck, the kids getting high and drunk in town were the ones who I was getting into fights with every day, so why the fuck would I want to be like them in any way?
Am I still Straight Edge? Hell yeah! I don't even allow alcohol at any church events, of course like at most churches there are lots of recovering drunks and they don't need to be confronted with it at some bean supper. I just think that alcohol and drugs are something that we as a society can do without. Sure, most of my friends weren't Straight Edge, but being with Slappy on the road was the best, nothing could keep us down...well usually.
It is amazing the impact that SE has made in the larger culture, and to be honest I wish no one did drugs or drank. However, just having kids in their teens not drinking or getting high is great, even if after college they start to drink. I hate to add that last part but it is true, let these folks get some experience under their belts so that they hopefully make better choices. It is also interesting to see how SE has evolved in these 25 or so years, the vegetarian thing is understandable, and I have to admit so does the Earth First stuff. Not that I'm a vegetarian or burn down McMansions, but if I lived in Utah I bet I would want to blow stuff up too.
It really is good to see the personal politics of SE interface with radical politics of justice. What did Mark Anderson say, "How radical is 'rock-n-roll all night and party everyday' in a world of starving children?"
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
In addition to having been around all of the racial issues that were in the hardcore scene, that we thought weren’t gonna be there in the first place or thought we could ignore, I also saw a lot of my friends just getting heavier and heavier into drugs. A lot of people were doing heroin or doing crack. I didn’t want to be a part of that. I had gotten away from it in the Bronx! So why would I wanna be back around it when I wanted to escape it in the first place? That was just a track of destruction. I didn’t want to end up around that, with people not having jobs and sleeping on couches.
When you break up from your band, it’s like a divorce, and I didn’t want to go through that. You go from being Djinji Absolution, to just being Djinji. That was tough. Now I needed something. So for me, it was like, “Ok, I’m not gonna go to college, but I need to get a skill.” So I went to the recording studio after that, it was Jerry Williams who lead me to that. I went to the Institute of Audio Research. Prior to that I was working at health food stores and thinking I would end up being a bike messenger. That’s what I wanted to do at 17 and 18, because that’s what my friends did. My parents didn’t see that though, they didn’t want me doing that, even though they didn’t tell me what to do. Still, I rode like one, carried a bag like one, got hit by cars like one…I just wasn’t getting paid. But Jerry Williams lead me to becoming an engineer, and that was my safety net. Now I could have a career, and record hip-hop acts, rock acts, jazz acts. Now they needed me, I didn’t need them. That was a sense of empowerment for me, so I wasn’t relying on other people now.
Now I was going to studios and passing out resumes to get an internship. And I got into Green Street Recording Studios in Soho. And now I am in a studio with gold and platinum records on the wall by artists such as Run DMC, Public Enemy, Ice Cube, Chaka Khan…then Eric Sadler of Public Enemy, Pete Rock, Q-Tip, Notorious BIG, Junior Mafia. Man, I don’t care what type of music you listen to…Biggie Smalls! From 1992 to 1994 I lived on Biggie’s block in Brooklyn. In that time, 1992 Brooklyn hip-hop was like 1982 Lower East Side hardcore. What! You could come out of the train and see Biggie Smalls smoking a blunt talking with Nas. I’ve seen it! I had the Junior Mafia in my car, I remember when Lil’ Kim didn’t have fake tits! I recorded her, at least twice or more in February 1995. I remember KRS-One, DJ Premier, Brand Nubian, M.O.P., the Boot Camp Clique, and that was when I worked at DnD studios from ‘97-‘99. I used to watch Big Pun shoot pool, I even recorded him once. He was such a funny dude, just a cool ass dude! It’s just beautiful. It is crazy to me. That didn’t have to happen, and I am very thankful it did. That was just all spirit, for that to have fallen into place and have been in the same room with all those people and learn.
And I knew it was special. I knew it when Pete Rock and CL Smooth created their first album, Mecca and the Soul Brother, I was there as an assistant engineer on 15 out of those 18 songs, and I saw it created. And they had a song on that album about a good friend of theirs they lost, called “They Reminisce Over You” about Trouble T Roy, one of Heavy D’s dancers, who passed away after he fell down some stairs backstage at a concert and that lead to his untimely death. It was just some tragic shit that didn’t have to happen and it fucked everyone’s heads up. So while recording this song, there was Heavy D in the studio, and Charlie Brown from Leaders of the New School, all these heavy weights, because they all knew this album was poppin’ off and it was special. It was probably like when the Bad Brains were recording at 171A…if you knew about it, you knew it was special, like “just be there.” With this, I knew it, and I felt it. I knew where I was at, 1992, that was special. I knew it was the shit.
When I was able to meet and hang out with Harley and John, and meet Dr. Know and Darryl Jennifer, that kinda fulfilled my dreams. I could leave. At the time I couldn’t really see it, but looking back now, yeah, it was time for me and I could leave. Cro-Mags had broken up. Bad Brains weren’t really doing anything at the time. So I needed to go somewhere where there was a community. Now don’t get me wrong, there was obviously still a hardcore community, but my immediate community and direct influences were broken up or in limbo. And then my own band broke up, so I didn’t want to be out there in limbo. I didn’t want to do another band. So I needed to find that sense of community, where things were happening. And I’m very thankful and fortunate for that.
Gavin was the architect in Absolution. Alan and Greg’s contributions can’t be dismissed because they were like the glue and nails that made it all fit. I was just trying to put a nice picture on these buildings. I guess kinda like graf pieces. And I loved all of the songs. Because to me, in those songs, I heard and I hear family making the sounds, people that hung with each other, went through shit with each other, and made music to get down with each other. Because it was family. Gavin, you know, I took him up to the Bronx. I took all my people up to the Bronx, my punks, anyone I could, but with him it was funny…this big blonde haired boy, you know? But I took my blonde girls up there, my asian girlfriends up there. I told you, no black girls were fuckin’ with me and to be quite honest I wasn’t really looking at them in that way either, not at that time. So, I was gonna get my groove on with the girls who didn’t think I was crazy or acting “white.” Those girls up in the Bronx were like, “you are nasty!” They still thought I was cute, they just didn’t understand why I was doing what I was doing. I did a lot of fun things inside and outside of my element.
Those first Absolution shows, I remember the first couple times I had to pace myself, it was tough. But hardcore let me know how strong I really was. I was always teased for being skinny with no muscles, and underweight, having a baby face, and not being a thug. But getting up on stage or on the dance floor, it let me know I was strong and it let me show it. I could get up there and let it all hang out. The energy was crazy, Gavin and I were balls of fire, as were a lot of bands. You couldn’t step on stage if you didn’t have a couple firecrackers in your band. Some of the last shows, with Sergio in the band, were just great. Having him there for a few shows, he was just my brother. With him and Gavin, I felt like it was just two brothers I could just be wild with and wild the fuck out. No disrespect to Alan at all, I mean Alan was great, but with Sergio there was such a long time connection. With Sergio, there were vibes too, so I could really rock out. It was friends, family, community.
Those last three shows were off the fuckin’ hook. The Anthrax, Rock Against Racism, and the Rap Arts Center. That Rap Arts gig, I felt like I was almost there…like, “man, that is how John must feel, that is how HR must feel.” I felt like I was in control of my delivery. My vocals held up, my energy was sustained, I didn’t let the band get away from me. It was like I was really driving the car and hitting all the curves at the perfect time, the car wasn’t driving me. I remember Jerry Williams being there and mixing the show, and he was like a proud father for all of us. And that was the last fucking gig we did. That was the heartbreak I’ve been talking about. I have really blocked that out, I haven’t opened up about that. What happened… I don’t know, it doesn’t matter. But it would be one thing if the band was going downhill and we broke up. But we were getting better. So for it to end there, that was heartbreaking.
But we did leave on a high note I guess. Still, that makes it tougher to leave and harder to remember because of the nostalgia. It’s easy to leave a relationship when things aren’t good with your girl and you aren’t having fun and you aren’t feeling her or vice versa. But who wants to leave on a high note when the sex is still good and you are having a lot of fun? You leave with all these good memories, and only a few bad ones that don’t outweigh the good ones. With Absolution, there aren’t many bad memories at all, and they are so miniscule. So it is tough. And at that last show, we played last. And it was late. A lot of bands played, Nausea and some other punk bands. But people stuck around to see Absolution, they wanted to see us rock, the buzz was out. And man, I don’t even know what to say. That energy was real.
I don’t really walk around with those vibes anymore. I’ve mellowed. So to come back to it, it’s gonna be like going back and doing my warrior dance. An Indian war dance with my brothers. It won’t be a sit-in with me giving flowers to people. I’m 38, so age shouldn’t slow you down, I want to show that. So I will let it all hang out. Hopefully I don’t give myself a goddamn heart attack!
Details for playing New York…Gavin, Sergio, and I want to do it. But it’s not bittersweet that it can’t be at CB’s or Lismar or The Pyramid. Because that was then, and this is now. I’m really dealing with the power of the “is.” The “is” lives in the present. What “is” to be done. And those places aren’t there anymore, those places are “was.” New York, on some real shit, everybody knows it’s not the city it was creatively. It is a shell of a place that reminds us of what it used to be. There isn’t any real shit there, nothing juicy or eye popping or earth shattering coming out of there now. Everybody knows that. Let’s just remember what it was and be happy we even had that influence in the first place. We don’t have to be the culture mongers of the world, it’s not just about New York. So no, I’m not bittersweet. To perform at Churchill’s in Miami, it’s a little club, it’s in the hood, it’s a cliché…you can get your ass robbed they way you used to at CB’s back in the day, not like today. The Lower East Side today is a nice little playground. Those dangers don’t exist there anymore, and those dangers spawned a lot of creativity. But that shit ain’t there anymore. I love New York, but I don’t love what it has become. It was so colorful.
I want to pay homage to the songs we wrote, Gavin wrote. I don’t need to change them. Maybe minus a few syllables, but I don’t need to re-work them. As an MC in a rap context, I’ve been able to say a lot in one line or two lines, that’s the idea, have one line give a plethora of emotions and images. So if I wrote a new song today I might use that approach more, and I didn’t use it in the old songs then. But I wouldn’t change them, they are what they are. And in the Absolution songs, the lyrical delivery is more like an uzi than a revolver. I mean, when I’m spitting, I’m spitting. The delivery is not efficient at all, I was just trying to get it all out. There are a couple spots for me to catch my own breath in the bridges and breaks, but it is fast. So far, I haven’t tried the physical exercise of delivering those songs again.
Just because he is harder than all of us combined, and can still regret it.
Monday, May 19, 2008
So I shoot Jimmy an email, and he says he is down and that I should give him a call. Here's the interesting part: he has a 570 area code (like me), which is common in northeast Pennsylvania and the Poconos. Now, I grew up in East Stroudsburg, a small town where my parents still live and I still visit almost every other weekend. Hardcore population: minimal. I figure he is still living in Princeton and maybe just has a random area code number. Wrong. We start talking and Jimmy says he lives in the Poconos. I ask him where specifically and he says, "East Stroudsburg." Whoa, weird. Turns out he is living about a stone's throw up the street from the bedroom I grew up in moshing to Judge (yeah, I definitely did not see Judge, so that is as good as it got for me). Small, small world.
Anyways, we are gonna meet up with Jimmy in a couple weeks, sit down, and get it all on tape - CB's, Death Before Dishonor, Judge, The Anthrax, you name it. I think we have reason to be psyched, since he was telling me he digs the site, loved seeing the Judge video posted, is moving to Florida soon and wants to hang with Porcell, and asked me what Sammy and Mike were up to and wants to get in touch. New York Crew? Fuck...it sure sounds like it. Stay tuned.
We had a lot of fun out in southern California, staying in the Huntington Beach area while on tour. There was a really good scene, everyone would stay at each other's houses, these big houses with tons of people hanging out, and we'd also drive around and just have an awesome time. We would go out in vans with fire extinguishers, we would ransack places, all sorts of crazy mischief...just not nice stuff! It was like the show Jackass.
There was a lot of good bands from California, I really liked that whole scene, going out there, playing places, hanging out and having a good time. Even the bands, before we went out there, before us there had already been Uniform Choice, Unity, BL'AST!, and the whole Wishingwell scene. These were bands I really liked, and those records still hold up in a lot of ways, just really cool records. Just going out there and going off and playing shows was such an awesome time.
When we got out there, those kids already seemed to have gotten the whole "youth crew" thing down. It was like, when we got there, they were waiting for us. They had already understood what we were about, and they welcomed us. When we got out there it felt like being home, even though it was different weather, different dancing, different styles. They had gotten the Crippled Youth EP, and had seen Youth Of Today from when they were out there, and they just really were waiting for us all the way across the country. We just slid in there at a great time, even though our records were a little bit behind as far as reflecting what we were doing when the records came out. I mean, by the time Speak Out came out we had developed much more than the record showed, or at least I think.
CB's, The Anthrax, Lupo's, Safari Club, and Gilman Street were probably my favorite five places to play. I liked playing California because I loved a lot of California stuff that got me into punk and hardcore. Black Flag "Damaged," Germs "GI," Circle Jerks "Group Sex," those to me are some of my all-time favorite records. To get out there and play a few years after those records, that vibe wasn't all that far removed, even though things were obviously different. Now it seems like those records are from forever ago, but at the time it didn't seem like it had been that long ago. Even playing Boston, despite some of the schism there, that was special because I loved SSD and DYS, we were partial to them. I think DYS were a little more musical and didn't have as big a following. Maybe it is a bit lofty to think about, but I think at the time Youth Of Today tried to align themselves with what SSD had done. With that said, I think in BOLD, we saw ourselves a bit more like DYS if there had to be analogies drawn. But even Jerry's Kids and Gang Green, we loved them.
The K-Town Mosh Crew was a well planted myth in a way, but we did have a good group of people early on. There was a half pipe in town at this kid's house, and we would go there and skate. This reminds me of a good story, because at the time, skaters and BMX kids didn't mix. But in our town there would be BMX kids around, and we had this ramp jam once. And this BMX kid was there, and we had suspected him of having stolen Matt's copy of Victim In Pain. So we all knew it was him but he wouldn't admit to it. That wasn't gonna sit. So Cappo was there, and he goes up to this kid, and he says, "Look, all of these guys know where you live, and they know who your parents are. If you don't give this record back, I am gonna have Agnostic Front and all of the Lower East Side skins come up here, and they are gonna kick your ass, AND they are gonna kick your parents' asses too. Do you want that to happen?" I think the record was returned the next day with a box of candy and a bow.
Sunday, May 18, 2008
I happened to have camera ready copies of these original classic Rev ads, along with full original photos that appeared on both album covers and ads. To me it's always been interesting to see a little more of those well known photos that you know so well, but ordinarily would never see, as insignificant as they may or may not be. Since I have a large collection of photos, many of which have been used on actual records, I thought this could be a cool recurring feature on the page. -Tim DCXX
Thursday, May 15, 2008
I didn't know those dudes at all. They were from up North, and older then me and my friends. Clifford was a scary motherfucker though. That whole band was intense. I had a run in with them at a Corrosion of Conformity/SNFU show which is a pretty funny story; Wishingwell Records, asked me to go down to Fenders and sell BL'AST shirts for the band one night. I think Courtney's line to me was "Dude the band will probably ask for some shirts, so give them a dozen or something." Anyway, I get there and set up, and am chilling at the merch table. I'm thinking to myself, "wow I'm the BL'AST merch guy. I'm with the BL'AST crew now." Of course I was too dumb, or young, or a combo of both to actually go find the band first before setting up THEIR merch. Pretty soon Clifford walks up and goes "What the fuck do you think you're doing?" Me: "Selling shirts." Him, very irate: "Yeah I can see that mother fucker...who gave you permission to sell OUR SHIRTS?" Me: "The Dubars, they also said to give you a dozen shirts if you wanted." Clifford then reaches across the table and pulls me over it with one hand. He basically threatens my life, which would not have been hard to take at the time since I was 16 and weighed about 120 lbs soaking wet. He shook me around for a little bit, and then let me go. I think Big Daryl and Big Frank actually came to my rescue, thank GOD. Of course, he took not only the dozen shirts I was supposed to give the band, but all of the shirts, effectively ending my 20 minute reign as the BL'AST merch guy.
Best show...I saw them just KILL it with The Exploited and Excel. It was just brutal, pissed aggression, but it always was with them. They were like taking a jack hammer straight to the face for 30 minutes. Their pits were pretty violent too. Skinheads, and other thugs loved slamming to that band. Black Flag was the end all be all for goon driven Southern California hardcore. I love Black Flag, but by 1984 when I first saw them, their audience was straight up thugs. I'm pretty sure Rollins and Ginn were so over their local fan base that they did stuff like "Process of Weeding Out" to basically do just that. Anyway, when Black Flag broke up in 1986, there had been a thirst for that style of skate thrash hardcore for sometime. It was a perfect void for BL'AST to fill. They were more Black Flag than Black Flag had been in years.
Did the fan base change when It's In My Blood came out? It's hard for me to say. It was definitely mellowing out more in So Cal anyway, so the response of "It's In My Blood" probably was more to do with the scene changing then the actual material itself. When BL'AST came around the scene was still at its apex. The shows were huge, violent, and always filled with a mixed bag of bands. When It's In My Blood dropped there was a segregation occurring. You had the straight edge scene, a thrash metal scene happening, and then the weird thing with "Dag Nasty, 7Seconds, and (Youth) Brigade was trying to pull off. I don't think BL'AST fit in with any of that stuff. They never really fit in on any of those bills. How could you listen to BL'AST and then throw on something like Dag Nasty's "Trouble Is"? Today... minus a handful of dudes my age nobody in O.C. probably knows who BL'AST even is. I remember going to their reunion shows not too long ago in L.A.,and the place was empty. Their time was 1986 - 1989 I guess, but what a time it was for them.
Twelve year old kids skating in that part of California today would not have a clue about BL'AST!