Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Pat Longrie - Unity / Uniform Choice, the final installment

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

Our interview with UC/Unity's Pat Longrie is at its end. This is the final installment - much thanks to Pat for being awesome and Billy Rubin for making it happen. Still Screaming... -Gordo DCXX

I wanted to chime in for this final entry as well. Like Gordo already mentioned, big thanks to Pat Longrie and Billy Rubin for making this interview happen. I found Pat's words and messages to be a true inspiration 22 years ago and after reading his answers to all these questions, I still find Pat's words to be just as inspirational. The rain begins... -Tim DCXX

UC was a touring machine. What shows stick out? Is it all a blur? Any good stories from the road? What was the band dynamic like for you guys? Was it always best to play in OC on your hometurf?

Uniform Choice loved to play live. Pat Dubar was a powerful front man, Dave was a solid bassist, Victor was as dynamic a hardcore guitarist as I have ever seen and I just loved to go berserk. I fully admit that I was no better than an average drummer but if you ever saw us live we prided ourselves on making sure the audience got its money worth and I loved to perform. As I mentioned earlier, for me it was always about being a part of something bigger than yourself.

We played on so many extraordinary bills that it does sometimes feel like a blur. I will tell you that watching Die Kruetzen at the 930 club in Washington D.C. was incredible. I remember watching the Goo Goo Dolls open up for us in New Jersey and thinking, "that singer has a real interesting voice." Minor Threat, SSD, SNFU, Dag Nasty, 7 Seconds...the list is endless and includes the greatest hardcore bands ever...period.

There were definite rolls that repeated within Uniform Choice. Outwardly, Pat and I drove the band. Together we handled the show booking, shirt designs and sales (Pat’s brother Courtney printed all our stuff ), lyrics, etc., but without the dynamic song writing of Vic and Dave it would all have been for naught. Victor Maynez was an amazing guitar player and remains a very good friend to this day. His down stroke approach to strumming was what guided our sound.

Coming home and playing in front of our peers was always special. The road is exciting but can be frustrating, especially when you place your trust in unreliable booking agents. The only thing that kept Uniform Choice alive during both our tours was the fact that we brought a ton of merchandise to sell. When you drive from Vancouver to Edmonton to Calgary and only make $350.00 Canadian you better either be independently wealthy or have something to sell. It was interesting to run into people who thought selling shirts and records was blasphemy. The fact is that if we didn’t we would never have been able to tour, so the argument fell on deaf ears as far as we were concerned.

A question of controversy: UC has taken a lot of heat over the years for the evolution in sound and image after Screaming For Change. How do you explain this transition, and UC's aesthetic, lyrical content, and sound growth circa 1987 and 1988? How had you personally changed from say, 1985, to 1988, and how did this impact UC?

First of all I want to make it perfectly clear that I only speak from my own personal perspective. If you are quick to bask in other's praises, yet unwilling to take criticism, justly warranted or not, and face things head on, then in my book, you are a coward. Double talk has no place in my life. I love “Screaming” and all it represented and I equally love “Staring” for the exact same reason. They were two halves of a whole. Like it or not transition is a part of everyone’s life. I had something to say but chose to express it differently, that’s it. We spoke of making a clone of Screaming for our second album - that would have been the safe move, but it wouldn’t have been genuine and quite frankly songs like “Cut Of A Different Cause” and “ I Am, You Are” were every bit as hard as anything on the Screaming album. Again, I must stress that the live performances were embraced by our audience because we always played the old with a sprinkle of the new.

I am eternally grateful for the kind words and warmth that people have showed toward Uniform Choice over the years. It is humbling to be connected in some small way to a movement that brought me so much joy. I get that some were disappointed in the sound change that took place. I even agree with some of the criticisms, but the way I look at it is that I would rather have given my blood, sweat and tears and been judged rather than sat idly by on the sidelines and safely point my self-righteous finger.

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

Unity then did Blood Days in 1988. How did this come about? Did the band ever play to support this record? Since Unity was essentially your band, how did you feel about this record then and what about now? How did the new songs on that record come about, and what was your tie with Joe Foster through the years while Unity was inactive?

I loved making music so when Dubar tossed around the idea of writing some new Unity material and re-mixing the vocals on the old stuff I was up for it. I liked playing with Johnny Mastro and I liked Joe D. Foster so it was exciting for me to get back together and be creative. For me it was about the process. I went to high school with Johnny and he was already a touring member of UC so that was a natural fit and Joe was always around the scene and had a catchy/hooky guitar melody approach. Legacy is something that always presents a double edged sword. I am proud of all the accomplishments my friends and I have mustered over the years and choose to view my life as ongoing. "You Are One" and “Blood Days” were very meaningful to me and that’s how I judge them. 

Tell me about Uniform Choice’s tours? Please share any good tour stories! Didn’t T-shirts catch on fire in the back of the van? Why did Dave Mellow leave the band? What led to the eventual break up of UC?

The first UC tour was crazy. We bought a plain white extended van with no air conditioning and crammed five people, all our equipment and 200 dozen shirts in and just took off. I guess I could say we had a proper booking agent and a plan but then I’d be lying. We did have shows lined up and we tried to confirm them from the road but it was chaos.

On the way to our first gig of the tour in Detroit I was driving 104 mph through Iowa when we were pulled over by a state trooper. I pulled over and he yelled for me to “exit the vehicle." I could see all the guys peeking through the glass at me getting screamed at by this little cop with a huge wide brimmed hat on. He started out, "Boy what in theeeeeeeee hell do you think you’re doing?! It took me 20 miles to just catch up with you weaving in and out of traffic. Are you aware that you sent two cars crashing into the corn field?” I said "yes sir" and "no sir" and explained that we were in a hurry to get to a concert. He thought I was referring to the Iowa State Fair so he let us leave!

Pat with U.C., Photo: Ken Salerno

We opened up for the great 76% Uncertain at a show in Connecticut and as we began to play “Screaming For Change” we were pelted with coins from the audience. Funny as hell accept for a nickel that hit me in the teeth! Dubar rolled with it after the song and said, “next time could you please throw dollars? They don’t hurt as much."

Yes indeed the t-shirts did catch on fire in the back of the camper that Mr. Dubar let us use. We also shot fireworks out the side door at anything and everything that we passed by in Tennessee. After our final song in Montreal I couldn’t see the low beam coming off the stage and as I was waving goodbye I ran right into it with my forehead and it knocked me straight on my back almost unconscious. If that wasn’t reason enough to laugh, it was so dark that nobody realized I was down as we began our encore!

I just got off the phone with Vic Maynez so I could properly answer the question about Dave leaving and it was pretty much how I remembered. Dave basically joined T.S.O.L. when their bassist went to jail. He always gravitated toward more of a rock sound and with no hard feelings whatsoever he simply left.

Uniform Choice just seemed to run its course. Pat moved to New York with Mind Funk and pursued that genre of music and I had graduated from college and moved on. It is interesting when I read other people’s interpretations about UC, Unity or Wishingwell. Mmost are flattering and some are nasty. I’ll take the good with the bad any day. If you stand up for what you believe in you better be man enough to stand true.

Now that you are a civilian where has life led you? What do you do for a living? Have you missed the creative outlet that being in a band afforded you?

I live in Southern California with my wife and three children. I owned a commercial glass company for a million years and just recently to fill a void in my creative life I chucked it and started Dragline Clothing. Check out the site if you get a chance - www.draglineclothing.com.

Many thanks to Billy Rubin, Tim and Gordo for the opportunity.


Billy said...

"I would rather have given my blood, sweat and tears and been judged rather than sat idly by on the sidelines and safely point my self-righteous finger."
-Pat Longrie

Thats it right there. Thanks for the chance to interview you Pat!

eating crow said...

thanks for interviewing him Billy

SFader said...

Awesome. Fireworks. Every generation of HC kid should be shooting those at everything on tour.
Pat, thanks for being straight up. Billy, thanks for keeping it fun.

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Scott T. said...

Why is there no questions about post-Dubar UC? That is the stuff I am really curious about.

That interview pretends like it didn't happen.

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