Thursday, April 30, 2009

Pat Longrie part III

Uniform Choice sing along in Riverside, CA., Billy Rubin with the shaved head and white shirt, Dan O in the red shirt and Regis Chorus in the Minor Threat shirt, Photo courtesy of: Billy Rubin

Billy Rubin’s interview with O.C. Legend/Unity & UC drummer Pat Longrie continues. We have been so psyched on this thing that we couldn’t resist getting involved and throwing Pat our own questions as well. Expect plenty more – Straight On View… -Gordo DCXX

Why do you think Mater Dei high school spawned so many punk rockers? I count you, Dubar, Dan O’ Mahoney and quite a few others.

Timing. 1980-84 was a fun time to be involved with Hardcore. It was brand new and full of so much potential and Mater Dei was a strictly regimented Catholic environment. When you put those two things together and mix in hard headed individuals you create an electric atmosphere. Dubar once shaved a cross in the back of his head and tried to convince the staff that he was simply exercising his right to celebrate religion! I walked around with a Mohawk for a week that I slicked down to one side. I looked like a moron and I knew it but so what. It took them a whole week to find out and they sent me across the street to the barber shop and they shaved my head. For whatever reason that high school had a bunch of teenagers that were willing to say, “big don’t like our music or our straight edge stance…..FU.” 

Pat Longrie with Unity, Photo: Billy Rubin

Was being in a band your first type of participation in the scene (beyond attending shows)? Was Unity your first band? How did you end up in Unity and what was the line up?

Pat Dubar and I wanted to form a band. He knew a guitar player and a bass player that lived in his neighborhood so all we had left to decide was who was going to be the singer and who was going to play drums. Basically we flipped a coin and thankfully he went and bought a P.A. and I bought a drum kit.

We played our first show in a warehouse with a bunch of other bands…I didn’t know how to play a lick and in fact I didn’t even have a foot pedal…we were called “Labeled Dead.” From there Pat got the opportunity to join Uniform Choice and I went off with Joe Foster (guitar, Ignite), Joe Navarette (bass) and Rob Lynch (vocals) to form Unity. That was my first real band. We played with some real cool bands (Youth Brigade, Marginal Man from D.C., M.I.A. etc.) on some fantastic bills.

Unity was special to me because it was my own. Not in the sense that the others didn’t contribute, because they did for sure, but in the fact that it was my first real contribution to the scene. Getting gigs, making stickers, shirts and flyers, writing lyrics etc. was me making a difference. I don’t care how many shows I played with UC or Unity, I always respected the bands on the bill because I know first hand how difficult and terrifying it can be to get up in front of an audience and perform. It takes a tremendous amount of work and some large balls and I never forgot that lesson while playing in Unity. For me, respect and humility are the essential parts of being in a band. Again, Unity was the very first part of Hardcore that I could call my own and in many ways still, it was the sweetest.

Pat Longrie and Pat Dubar hitting the stage during DOA, Photo courtesy of: Pat Longrie

By the time the Unity 7” was recorded were you going to college? Tell me a little bit about the Unity 7”…It was very rare to hear a poem recited on a record at that time. Where did it come from? Was there ever a temptation to merge UC and Unity? How/When did Unity break up?

Unity was a raw, in your face band. There is something to be said for the energy that focused, motivated and enthusiastic young men can generate. Rob Lynch was the singer and he and his brother Pete were mainstays in the Southern California Hardcore Scene. They were at every show large or small supporting the bands and promoting Unity. One of my only regrets is that Rob wasn’t able to sing on the “You Are One” single. He deserved it but it just didn’t work out. I reconnected with Rob a couple of years back via the internet and he is healthy, happy and living in Arizona.

By the time I had entered college at UCLA in 1985, Unity was no longer viable. Uniform Choice was playing shows and had recorded tracks for their first album. Pat Dubar and I formed Wishingwell Records and decided to put it out ourselves. At that time the list of possible record labels was pretty much non-existent. We were nervous but confident that we could make it work for not only UC, but for other bands throughout the United States that faced similar road blocks.

But back to UC, I got a call from Dubar on a Friday night in my dorm room and he was frantic. They had just kicked out their drummer and needed me to play a gig that night in Riverside, CA with them. I didn’t know the songs very well so I listened to their demo tape on the way to show in my car. They picked up my kit from my parents house and that was it. Vic, Dave and I went over some song arrangements in the car before we were to go on…that is how I came to be a part of Uniform Choice.

We wrote a couple more tunes for the album (“Once I Cry and “Screaming For Change”) and went about getting ready for the release. They allowed me to write the lyrics for the new songs too, which I thought was cool. Pat and I thought it would be a good idea to put out something else before the UC album and we agreed that a Unity 7” would be the perfect fit.

We practiced with Joe Foster and John Lowery (his name was butchered on the jacket sleeve as John Low but he didn’t care) and went into Casbah Studios and recorded the whole thing live. This was pretty much my project and I was thankful to Pat for letting me handle it. I had written the lyrics and performed these songs live so it was particularly special to me. I took the cover picture of Pat at a park near his house and the great Gavin Oglesby was kind enough to draw the back cover (my Mother used her calligraphy pen to write the back song titles).

We liked the feel so much that we played with Unity and UC on the same bill a few times and had a real blast. Oh yeah…I wanted to end the last song with something different and I had heard this poem and thought it would be a fitting conclusion to the project. I was very nervous reciting it but years later I think the rawness personified that band and its meaning to me. We tried it again with one of my poems on the Uniform Choice album and I got a lot of flack, perhaps rightfully so. Nevertheless, if you aren’t willing to put yourself in a position to fail, you can’t hope to grow.

Pat Longrie with Uniform Choice at City Gardens, Trenton NJ, Photo: Ken Salerno


Bill "Nego" Case said...

Good job Bill and Pat. It's always nice reading a good interview, with well-spoken(written) answers!

eating crow said...

Could read about UC Ect all day.can't wait for parts 4 to 10!

Billy said...

Thanks Nego! The credit really goes to Pat. When I was trying to figure out how to do things in the scene, Pat Longrie provided a good road map for how to do things right. I just followed his lead.
I love that picture of both Pat's on stage...They are SO young!

Nicky said...

awesome story! these always keep me entertained at work haha

Ben Edge said...

"I knew his brother Pete, but never met Rob nor saw his version of Unity. From what I hear they were a pretty solid skate thrash type band with him on vocals. His death, that was a real tragedy. I think Pete found him in the garage, where he had hung himself."

- Joe Nelson

Me confused.

Anonymous said...

Nice job yet again, Billy and DCXX (and Pat, of course). And I, for one, love Longrie's poem at the end of the Screaming For Change record. That was absolutely the perfect way to end that masterpiece of hardcore.

tony said...

Both Pats were great guys,friendly and funny,I'll never forget saying goodbye to UC who were staying at my place as I was leaving for work at 6 AM all bummed because the hangout and gig was over and coming home from work and finding one of each of every different available piece of merch they had with them left for me on my bed with a 'thank you' note. Class acts. And man,Longrie fucking booked ASS on drums,no cheating on the high-hat,he was fuckin outta control! Uniform Choice will probably always be truly my favorite hardcore band of all time.

tony said...

billy rubin is cool as fuck, I still have the issues of THINK he sent me and my brother for FREE, what a great guy and 'Who Writes Your Rules' is an all time classic