Sunday, March 15, 2009

Billy Rubin on Haywire


Haywire - Abominations

When Billy Rubin first contacted me and offered to contribute to DCXX, one piece I was particularly looking forward to was the back story on Haywire. From the first time I dropped the needle to Haywire's "Private Hell" LP, I was sold. Seriously great band and way underrated. If you haven't heard them before or haven't listened to them in a while, do yourself a favor and get your hands on the "Private Hell" LP, damn solid record all the way through. As for Haywire's second LP, "Abominations", I've only seen one in my life and that was at least 15 years ago. If anyone has the entire album and would like to share, get in touch. Now's the time I turn it over to Billy. Enjoy. -Tim DCXX

By the time Half Off broke up, the Southern California hardcore scene had matured. New bands seemed to be coming out of nowhere. Many of these new bands were started by people who had been in the audience at shows we had played. I wasn't doing anything at the time and really doubted I'd ever be in a band again. I had gone from wanting to be in a band because I thought that what I said mattered to being absolutely convinced that anything I said was boring and stale. I did not have the enthusiasm that the up and comers had.


As in many scenes, the talent pool is very incestuous and bands share many members. Vadim had become a talented and reliable drummer who was in demand for upstart bands in need of a drummer. My memory is flawed in regard to the timing, but over the years Vadim played drums in several bands including Hard Stance, Inside Out, 411 and also jammed with John Bruce and Rick Greeno in what turned out to be Haywire. It was through Vadim that I ended up in Haywire.


Vadim with Haywire, Photo courtesy of: Billy Rubin

I was curious what these guys were up to. John had always spoken highly of Rick (they worked together) and I knew that he was a talented musician. After several months I was invited to check them out at practice. They could probably tell I was jonesing to scream again and I was invited to be the singer. The way I remember it is that we were just going to practice and nothing was going to come of it. I was totally impressed with what these guys were doing. John and Vadim had risen a few levels in talent by playing with Rick. The first song I heard them play was the music to what turned out to be "So Good." As I sat there listening to those first (Haywire) songs I felt my adrenaline building up. It was a blank canvas and I was genuinely inspired.

Rick Greeno was not a resident of the hardcore scene. He had been around for many years and played with many bands but he didn't run in our circles. Rick was more than just a great guitar player. He was the kind of musician that could reproduce anything I could hum. At band practice we'd play a game that was kind of like name that tune or maybe a better way to describe it is "play that tune." I'd throw out the name of a band to see if Rick knew it and if he did, he'd play one of their songs. It went like this...Black Flag? OK! Iggy Pop? Sure. Led Zeppelin? Why not?! The Pixies? Absolutely! How about Black Sabbath? Yeah! You get the picture. It was the perfect band.

As I began to integrate into Haywire (which still didn't have a name) I was absolutely determined not to get wrapped up in the hardcore scene. I made it a point not to write lyrics about trivial rivalries or microscopic issues. I had a lot of respect for what they were doing and didn't want to taint it. The guys in the band really didn't seem to pay too much attention to what I was singing, we were just having fun. One thing led to another and in almost no time we had a set and had booked our first show. That first show turned out to be a gig opening for the OFFSPRING at a little bar (in Whittier, I think). There were maybe 50 people there - tops.


Haywire at the Country Club, Photo courtesy of: Billy Rubin

I'm not quite sure how it happened so fast, but we ended up in the studio recording the "Private Hell" Lp. The first song I put a vocal track to was "So Good." These guys had never read the lyrics I wrote and couldn't really hear me through the crappy PA at the practice pad. When I came out of the little vocal box/room after making those crazy screams in the chorus of "So Good" they were looking at me like I was some kind of freak. I had just screamed out a song about a serial killer killing cops. Like I said before, this was the perfect band. I had not realized just how wrapped up in the straight edge/hardcore scene I was until I started doing something different.

Over the next year Haywire played countless shows with bands ranging from Verbal Assault to the Cro-Mags. One of the coolest shows we played was at Bogart’s in Long Beach. Vadim and I were under 21 and this was a 21 and older show so it was kind of a big deal. The other thing that made this show a big deal is that Nirvana was on the bill. At the time I really didn't know much about Nirvana. They had a single out on Sub Pop and there was an incredible buzz about them. Nirvana was a rare band. I always thought that to get into a band's live set I'd have to know their music in advance. Nirvana shattered that belief. I remember they opened their set with "Love Buzz" and the whole club exploded! Good stuff! I had no idea that just a couple years later they would become such a big deal.


Haywire show with Nirvana, flyer courtesy of: Billy Rubin

That show at Bogart’s is where we recorded the "Painless Steel" single that Big Frank put out on Nemesis. It was recorded on Mike "the dude" Z's (the owner of Zed) digital audio tape recorder. A little known fact is that we actually took that tape into the studio and Rick played a second guitar track over the recording to even it out. That is how good Rick was. Things came together for Haywire really fast. Through a connection in Germany we were invited to tour Europe with a band called NoNoYesNo.

Haywire broke up on tour in Hamburg, Germany. The tour was doomed before it started and while on tour we learned a lot about ourselves. I learned that as much as I loved band practice I hated the people that came to shows. At our last show (opening for NOFX in Hamburg) I was walking to the tour van when a couple of kids with X's on their hands found me to ask for an autograph. I have nothing against kids with X's, but I was done.

By the time we went on the European tour we had another Lp worth of material so we made a deal with We Bite records to release the "Private Hell" Lp and a new album called "Abominations" in Europe. Abominations was never released in the US. Years earlier I had been at Pushead's house in San Francisco and remembered a piece of art he had collaborated on with an artist named Squeal. I called Pushead and asked for the art and he agreed. The art was originally going to be used for the label on the actual vinyl of a 12" record so there was a circular pattern on it, but we didn't care (it's killer art). The Abominations and Private Hell albums were both released on CD in Germany.


Billy with Haywire in Frankfurt, Germany, Photo courtesy of: Billy Rubin

We also released a split 7" with NoNoYesNo thru Trust fanzine (out of Germany). Our track on the split single was a really great cover of Black Sabbath's "Symptom of the Universe". We also released material with a band called Left Insane that was included with an issue of Suburban Voice fanzine. Later on Suburban Voice put out a 15th anniversary Cd that had Haywire material on it too. I suspect all of those releases are very rare.

In a short period of time Haywire released more and played as much or more than Half Off ever had. Since I began posting on DCXX I have reunited with all the members of Haywire and I'm glad to tell you that they are all doing well. John and Rick are still making music. Vadim sold his drums to Casey Jones and became a scholar. I moved to the desert and became an investment banker who lives vicariously through Double Cross.


Haywire at the Anti Club with Verbal Assault, flyer courtesy of: Billy Rubin

21 comments:

paolo said...

I was at the Anti Club show (the one in teh flyer, went with with Tina, the girl who drew the "private hell" cover (she lives in France now), great memories include great bands, getting introduced to Sterling NFAA and Rich Insted, and buying the Insted 7" (that was just out)at some shop in Melrose before the show. Haywire were not exactly my style, but they rocked hard and were very tight. VA had a great singalong/stagediving during their set!

Anonymous said...

So Haywire did not break up in Hamburg because 3 members were homesick ? Before the tour Billy called Youth of Today on some of their shit via TRUST fanzine, which is of course a noble thing. But at least YOT pulled off an european tour...Private Hell is still great, though.

D. Sine said...

Haywire was a great band. I've still got a poster from that European tour. I think Vadim gave it to me. I remember that show at Bogarts. I thought of trying to go with Josh Stanton and sneaking in, but for some reason didn't make it. A friend found me a copy of the second album. It's been a while since I've listened to though. I'll have to dust it off.

Brett Hardware said...

Tim, I have private Hell on CD. I'll make MP3s soon.

Brett Hardware said...

Duh, Abominations.

blue condition said...

Awesome. Thaks DC/Billy. Fucking great band

Anonymous said...

Dont know much about Billy or his bands but didn't that dude Vadim fuck over Isaac from the Chorus something fierce? Skip out on the rent when they were roommates a day before it was due and leave him holding the ball and homeless?

Rent/friends? Europe? Seems to be a pattern.

Wish Isaac would chime in....

Bitch Killa said...

Sounds like someone's ex-girlfriend/wife cheated on him with the Russian bear.

Let it go, man. If she hadn't fucked Vadim behind your back, she woulda just fucked somebody else.

Isaac Golub said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

i hear that vadim likes to bang!

O-Dog said...

The bear has pounded quite a bit of skin in his day.

Tony said...

The best thing about the Haywire LP was the marketing sticker that said ""Rad Dude! Like two hits of Acid" Mike Madrid"

Isaac Golub said...

Who is Vadim?

Billy said...

Isaac! You rock. I just laughed so hard after reading your post.
Who are half these people that read some off the cuff comment from a half-wit in a fanzine 20 years ago and think they know Vadim?
Oh wait, I know who they are. They are anonymous.

The Driver said...

They're guys whose late '80s girlfriends or wives cheated on them with you, Vadim, John and Rick.

Al said...

wow.... I'm REALLY glad I stumbled across this blog. I'm proud that the first record on my label (a split with New Beginning) was the Haywire/Left Insane split. "Private Hell" remains a sick album and I can't believe it's been 20 years since it came out --Al/Suburban Voice 'zine

Al said...

also... if Billy or anyone else who has his email reads this, PLEASE get in touch... I'd love to hear from him. suburbanvoice@earthlink.net

Aaron Fichtelberg said...

I remember Haywire opening for Excel at the Country Club. The band had to stop every third song 'cause a bunch of gang members were beating the crap out of each other 'cause they were frustrated waiting for their favorite band. Good times.

doc patcheko said...

well, there's one thing to be said for Vadim. he was the one that stayed in europe and finished the tour with us when everybody else got homesick. and, wow, that was a long time ago. Good to hear you're doing well, Billy. My regards to the russian bear.

sascha, drummer for nonoyesno

bdub said...

Vadim is my AP government teacher.

Alex said...

Vadmin Rubin is my History teacher