Youth Of Today at Gilman St. on the "Break Down The Walls" tour 1987
I distinctly remember driving through Flemington New Jersey in 1990, a town that is a mere 15-20 minute drive from my own home town and being told by my friend Jay "The Regulator" about a dude named RJ Vail who roadied for Youth Of Today on the "Break Down The Walls" '87 tour and lived in that very town. I remember being pretty surprised that a guy that roadied for Youth Of Today lived so close and I had no idea. As the years passed, I met more people that knew RJ and every conversation always came back to him touring with Youth Of Today.
Now jumping ahead to 2008, I get a message from RJ regarding Double Cross. Some how or another he ended up on the site and wanted to shoot me a message praising what we were doing. Of course since I recognized his name, I asked if he was interested in sharing some stories and memories from the "Break Down The Walls" tour. RJ happily agreed and from that point on it was just a matter of us catching up and making it happen.
This past weekend, RJ and I finally got a chance to meet up. His son was in my town for a hockey game, so after the game we all met up at a diner for breakfast. After breakfast we made our way back to my house, where at that point his son Jake teamed up with my son Trevor for a little Wii and a light saber duel and RJ and I sat down with the tape recorder rolling. The following is part one of what transpired, more to come. -Tim DCXX
RJ Vail with the mohawk and shades, along with Navy Jim, Mark Struble and crew 1986
I grew up in Butler, New Jersey which was a stone's throw from Montville and a quick train ride into New York City. Like everyone, skateboarding played a big roll in introducing me to a lot of great people and of course punk and hardcore. In my town I was hanging with guys like Steve Vivino (the guy standing on stage at the Anthrax in the Underdog shirt on the cover of "The Way It Is"), Navy Jim Nargiso (Beyond, PX, etc. roadie) and a guy named Mark Struble. We were skating and hopping trains into NYC for shows at CB's sometime around '84 and '85. Then by 1986, through skating, I met Mike Ferraro (Judge) and Jimmy Yu (Judge). We all quickly became good friends and started hanging out regularly.
In 1987 when Youth Of Today was planning for their "Break Down The Walls" tour, Mike was playing drums and had asked me if I wanted to go on the tour as a roadie. Somehow or another Mike and the rest of the band had the impression that I was handy with cars. They said they needed someone who would be able to help with the tour van if they ran into problems and I told them, sure, I could help out with that. Honestly though, I didn't know shit about cars and was telling those guys anything that they wanted to hear so that they'd bring me along for the tour. Little did I know that I was actually going to be needed for that sort of thing, but we'll get to that.
So the line up for Youth Of Today at that time was Ray, Porcell, Walter, Richie and Mike. Civ also joined the tour as a roadie. I'm pretty sure the tour was kicked off in New York City or Connecticut. I know we made our way down to D.C. for the Rock Against Reagan show that was happening right there at the National Mall by the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument. The bands were playing on the back of a flat bed tractor trailer and there was a ton of people there. I remember the Bad Brains playing and of course Youth Of Today. Me being a guy that's always leaned to the right, I stood on stage during Youth Of Today wearing a mesh hat with USA across the front and I was flipping off all the hippies. We were there to play, I don't think any of us really cared about "Rocking Against Reagan". It was a gig, it was with the Bad Brains and there were people there to see us, so that's all that mattered.
Mark Struble and RJ punked out, back in the day
After the Rock Against Reagan gig we stayed at the Dischord house, not sure who arranged that. I know when we got there someone told us to watch out for the naked guy. Ian wasn't there and I don't remember anyone from Dischord actually being there, but rest assured, we did run into the naked guy. Every once in awhile you'd catch this buck naked dude walking in and out of a room, walking around a corner and even sitting in a lawn chair on the front porch, buck fucking naked. Dude didn't say a word, just hung out naked all day long. I remember going down to the basement and seeing the drums set up for practice, it was like nothing was ever changed since Minor Threat. A memorable stay for sure.
Eventually we made our way down to Florida. As luck would have it, the drive shaft on the van broke. Everyone said, "RJ, get to work man, you do know this shit right?" Hah, the truth came out, I didn't know a damn thing about fixing cars or vans. We ended up at a garage in Miami where they told us they would need about $300 to fix it, problem was, we had no money. Someone had the idea to offer our services to the garage in exchange for them fixing the van. The mechanic told us that they had a junkyard and asked if any of us had any particular skills that we might be able to help around the junkyard with. I did have some experience removing windshields, so they sent us off to the junkyard and agreed to fix the van if we removed some windshields. Somehow or another Ray never made it to the junkyard, not sure where he ended up, but the rest of us found ourselves working away in that hot junkyard. At some point Walter sits down in a nest of fire ants. His legs get covered by these ants and they bite the shit out of him. Walter was freaking out like crazy.
RJ Vail and Goob, Clifton Speed Center 1986
Eventually we get out of the junkyard and meet up with Ray. Now at this time, Ray was really into vegetarianism, organic food and natural healing, so Walter asked Ray if he had any remedies for bug bites. These fire ants had bitten Walter's legs really bad and they were all red. Walter was clearly very uncomfortable and desperately looking for relief. Ray told him that he had a remedy and the next thing you know he's covering Walter's legs in peanut butter, mayonnaise, banana peels and whatever else he could find. There Walter sat, legs completely covered in this disgusting concoction of food and Ray asked, "You feeling any better?"... Walter paused for a minute, "No, acuually, I'm not feeling any better at all!!!" At that point Ray cracked up laughing, turned out that Ray knew nothing about any remedy and this concoction that he had mixed up and covered Walter's legs in was all a big joke. Man did we ever get a laugh off of that. That became a running joke for the rest of the tour.
To be continued...
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Posted by DOUBLE CROSS at 10:39 PM