Friday, May 8, 2009

Pat Longrie part IV

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

More incredible content from Pat Longrie. Again a big thanks to Billy Rubin for getting this together for us! Much more to come -Gordo DCXX

Do you remember any of the details of how/where you got the Unity EP pressed or where you got the sleeves printed? Do you remember how many were pressed? Do you remember where you first met Gavin?

Deciding to form our own record company was the easy part…actually finding the way and means to manufacture, produce, distribute and market the product was quite another task to say the least. We came across a man by the name of Tab Rex in Hollywood. He was a flamboyant record producer that knew absolutely nothing about punk rock. Dubar and I convinced him that we had some artists (UC and Unity) that could sell some units and open him up to a new audience of young people. He turned out to be a crook but we never let him manipulate our artistic vision…naive as it was.

I learned how to design sleeves, lay out pictures, typeset lyrics, pick record label colors, select colored vinyl etc. I never cared about how much money was made or lost, I only cared about the quality of the product. I remember holding the first copies of the final product in my hands and thinking, “This is ours…this is who we are and what we believe and no one can take that from us, ever.”

I don’t recall how many we printed initially…maybe 1000 or so, but an interesting sidebar to the trial by fire relationship with Tab Rex was the fact that he claimed to have the rights to a couple of songs by an up and coming Hip Hop outfit from South Central Los Angeles and he had a vision of releasing a 7” single with two Uniform Choice songs on one side and two tracks from this “Gangsta” rap group on the other. It never came to be but the group was NWA. Now that would have been an interesting combination.

What exactly was your involvement and role with Wishingwell? How do you remember things getting off the ground? What were the biggest difficulties with the label, your fondest memories, and biggest accomplishments looking back?

Pat Dubar and I were equal partners in Wishingwell records. We wanted to establish a label that placed the artist first. At that time the list of viable and perhaps more importantly, willing companies, that signed hardcore bands was non-existent. We were energized and motivated by the examples initiated by Dischord and Touch and Go and wanted to forge our own path.

With Unity and Uniform Choice respectively we felt we had two strong opening offerings and basically went about the task of learning how to build a company. It was both frustrating and exhilarating at the same time because we didn’t have any sort of blueprint.

My motivation in the beginning was pretty simple: never put art and profit in the same sentence. Even as a kid I never had any illusions of being a big time record executive or rock star. Punk music and the people that made up the entire scene meant everything to me. My iPod is filled with Dag Nasty, Rites Of Spring, Shades Apart, Government Issue, 7 Seconds, etc. because the excitement I experienced 25 years ago in listening to, watching and meeting these artists hasn’t subsided a bit. I’ve said this many times, but it rings true that it was a real family atmosphere in the beginning. Working with bands like Youth Of Today, Bl’ast!, Shades Apart, Apology (Mike Gitter’s project ) etc. to help promote their cause was fantastic, and a real eye opener to how demanding and time consuming a record label is, and then you have the inevitability of ego clashes. The more bands you work with, the more personalities you encounter. This coupled with trying to go to school and maintain a band was challenging, but I’m proud of what we did and tried to do in establishing an alternative for those without a voice to be heard.

When was it decided upon to put Unity "on hold"? When did the focus shift to playing in UC and why? What happened with Unity between this time and doing the Unity ‘Blood Days’ record?

Unity didn’t disband as much as it faded away. Because all the members were in high school and lived in different cities, it just wouldn’t work. The Blood Days record was Dubar’s idea so that he could put it on his own label “Powerhouse.” I didn’t mind because I thought it would be fun and probably my last collaboration with Dubar and I was pretty much correct on both accounts. Wishingwell was done and it was time to move on. Between the strain of company and band issues, it was just time to move on. (Editor’s Note: More on later era Unity to come).

Pat Longrie pounding the drums with Uniform Choice at City Gardens, Photo: Ken Salerno

Unity and UC were known for introspective, PMA-fueled lyrics and slogans that bands like Minor Threat and 7 Seconds first touched on a few years prior. What was the inspiration for these big loud statements that ultimately became battlecries for thousands of straight edge kids around the world in the following waves of the scene?

Punk rock and straight edge in particular fit me. It made perfect sense in a volatile time in my life. Minor Threat’s first single and 7 Seconds “Skins, Brains and Guts” spoke directly to me. I never understood why other kids, many of whom were my friends, found sanctuary in drinking, smoking and experimenting with drugs. I thought they were fools, so when I was introduced to like-thinking individuals it solidified by stance and legitimized my conviction. I had the complete support of my family and this was crucial to my comfort level. They encouraged me to follow whatever path I chose…of course my Father and uncles had a ball making fun of me when I went to gigs. They used to say, “you don’t need to go out and get bruises stage diving and slamming…we’ll pound on you right here in the living room!”

I wrote about my life. I structured lyrics that were relevant to me. Everyone has been a teenager and has lived through tough times filled with peer pressure, alienation and awkwardness…everyone. So I felt compelled to use hardcore as my forum. Again, I stress the importance of fellowship. I/we took a lot of shit for our anti-obsession convictions but as the movement grew, believe me, the negative element grew silent.

Even today I see chronic discontent from those who only wish to tear things down, past and present and who’s only view is revisionist. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and I fully embrace those words, I just won’t swallow it no matter how hard you try and make it palatable. I live through my actions, not the words of those who hide behind their version of the past. I don’t care how hard you try, you will never make everyone happy. So I say fuck you if you don’t like what I was, what I did, or what I have become…because I live my life exactly how I mapped it out in my dingy little bedroom all those years ago.


Dennis Verhiest said...

Once Again....great stories
After all these years still two of my favourite bands!!!!

Unknown said...

I guess it is that i've never heard much of the UC/Unity stories, but this interview is great. Thanks to DCXX for all this great content. After reading each interview, i have to go put on these records to listen to.

eating crow said...

"(Editor’s Note: More on later era Unity to come)."
i'm on the edge of my seat for this...

SFader said...

Longrie is for sure a "tell it like it is" kinda dude, which everyone should be. He doesn't hold shit back and gets straight to the point. More interviews like this please.....

muebles en jaen said...

Goodness, there's so much useful data here!