Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Dan O'Mahony Part III

No For An Answer at The Anthrax with quite the crew accompanying them on stage. Porcell about to go for a dive, while Walter, Anthony Raw Deal, Arthur Smilios, Alex Chain and others watch on. Photo: Jeff Ladd

More history from Dan O. This is shaping up nicely! -Gordo DCXX

Did NFAA evolve early on as you expected?

Not exactly, as I mentioned previously the sound was faster, much faster than we'd intended, and the imagined early DC influences that were the big favorrites of all four of us from the You Laugh era didn't really surface. We sounded like rookie musicians playing basic HC. In retrospect, that result was a lot more fun and appropriate given our experience level. I wasn't Dave Smalley, Gavin wasn't Brian Baker...especially not in the mid 80's.

As far as the attitudes and positions of the band, we were all from the era when the distinction between punk rock and HC was not as clear or delineated as it later became, thus we stressed non-conformity and moderation in the judgment of others more than some of our peers.

Who were the closest friends and supporters of the band? How did NFAA fit into the growing SEHC scene of California in 1987-1989?

At the point of our formation in '87, our friends were many and had been established over the years, most importantly the legendary Anthony Persinger as the Beaver, David and Paul Theriault, John Bruce, Billy, Half Off, the UC and Insted guys, Big Frank, Ron Martinez from Final Conflict, and a host of others who all played crucial roles in getting us started on the right foot...getting shows, getting to shows etc. By '89 a lot of others from Irvine had their things going, Zack, the Hayworths, Popeye, the Head First guys,etc. These people were involved in the early Workshed offerings, the Spanky's and Heritage Park shows with NFAA and Carry Nation as well as many other things.

In terms of how we fit in, there are two factors, one chronological, the other regional. In terms of Straight Edge, UC hit in '84, NFAA in '87 (Carry Nation took a swing but didn't really materialize in '85), Insted pre-dated NFAA by a year or two but didn't really declare SE until their later Labate/Burt lineup, '89 or '90 I believe. Following those intial three (in terms of national recognition, there were others on the local level) the greater Posi/SE/HC scene blossomed a couple years later with Hard Stance, Farside, Reason to Believe, the Nemesis acts, Free Will, Blackspot, Headfirst, and dozens of others.

Regionally, OC didn't mix as well as we could have with people from other areas. The Bay area went largely ignored other than MRR and Gilman. The Inland Empire saw many members of old acts that had drifted slowly towards melodic almost rock formats suddenly re-emerge in highly derivative east coast type bands fronted by younger people from outside hardcore as we knew it. We rarely played with or interacted with them and that led to alot of unfortunate animosity, as NFAA was staffed by older, well networked guys, who had a real edge in terms of booking certain venues, drawing coverage from certain zines, etc. Twenty+ years down the line, we all represent the very old school and these rivalries seem pretty silly. I tend to enjoy running into anybody from the 80s these days.

Sterling and Gavin jam it out while Dan and the security face the CBGB's crowd, Photo: Ken Salerno

How did the east coast connection develop more? How did you fit in on the opposite coast with guys from NYC and CT?

On the one hand we were grandfathered in. Ray Cappo, John Porcelly, Richie Birkenhead, Mike Judge, and Craig Setari all lived with my mother and I in HB for months during the hammering out of Wishingwell's release of the original Break Down The Walls LP. Jordan Cooper was the one to meet us at the train station when we arrived in CT. Sam MacPheeters and I had been in contact for a while before the Hawker Is Hardcore trip and he and Adam, from what was later the whole Vermiform vibe, were our NY escorts, Gavin Van Vlack was one we met through them, and he became quite the provider. I guess you could say we had strong advance support!

In terms of fitting in, we were reasonably well recieved. We wore a little more black and a few less hoodies than our east coast brethren seemed to realize, but all in all it was an adventure I'd never trade for anything. CBGB was more interesting to us than the Anthrax primarily because there was a far greater diversity in terms of pesonalities and backgrounds, a little scary, a little sexy, very historic.

What did it mean to be on Rev at the time? How did it help/hinder the band?

Other than a brief period in the 80s when the whole youth crew thing limited people's understanding of us as an individual unit with our own opinions, tastes and sensibilities, separate from those of our labelmates, Rev was a complete help. They are why we gained national recognition...period. My relationship with the label remains intact to this day.

CBGB's Hawker Records showcase, Free For All show with members of Wrecking Crew, Rest In Pieces and No For An Answer preparing for the photo shoot. Photo: Ken Salerno

How did the connection with Hawker develop?

Firstly, John Bello from Hawker contacted us at an ideal time when I was not sensing a lot of enthusiam or at least prioritizing from Rev in terms of an NFAA LP. Futhermore we fit the Rev label image at the time less and less every day. At the time the DIY vs. Major debate was raging full swing and in my opinion was being oversimplified. My thinking in the late 80s being that if you could contractually protect your lyrical and artistic content completely while insuring vastly superior distribution, you had an obligation to your message to go for that larger avenue. Contrary to legend, the advance money was around $4,000, covered recording and a little merchandising, and played very little role in the decision.

Memories of the Hawker show at CB's?

A huge day for meeting the legends of the era. Check out the faces in that cover shot! A little known fact, that "Get back, it's way early" line is directed to the bouncers - not the crowd. One thing I remember about both trips is that a surprising number of west coast guys tended to make it back there with us, Joe Nelson and a few Sloth Crew types, Billy, Anthony, Josh Stanton and others roaming the east with us added a lot to the experience.

Can you discuss the causes for the lineup changes in NFAA? How did the member changes impact the vibe within the band (i.e Case compared to Bratton, John versus Sterling, etc.)?

Firstly let's do an NFAA membership inventory, there were many, many little publicized changes, some guys lasting a show or two if that, some being the players of record. Gavin and I were the only constants! Second Guitar - Rob Hayworth, Joe Foster. Bass - Jeff Boetto, John Mastropaolo, Sterling Wilson, Brian Howell. Drums - Casey Jones, Quinn Millard, Zack de La Roacha, Chris Bratton, Mario Rubalcaba.

Vibe? John was a very technical bassist, Sterling more of a fun loving rocker. John was actually the best man at my wedding in February! Casey was a nuts and bolts HC musician like Gavin and I, Bratton was a hired gun who really knew his shit and beat the hell out of those drums but gave priority to Inland projects. I like Chris and loved running into him at Radio Silence's thing in Hollywood, but his split focus took a lot of steam out of the band and contributed largely to our hanging it up. Maybe not a bad thing. We all ended up having other musical fish to fry in the very near future...

Another alternate Free For All shot, minus Token Entry plus Billy Rubin and Sammy Siegler, Photo: Ken Salerno


Pedro Carvalho said...

The Inland band is supposed to be Chain, right?

Billy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
wfortner said...

I'll bet he was referring to Chain Of Strength with that comment. I wonder why he didn't want to name them?

I didn't know Mario Rubalcaba (pro skater) drummed for NFAA. I knew he was the drummer for 411 (which I liked a lot). He was/is a great skater AND drummer.

Billy said...

I think its called diplomacy

ERIC SXE said...

That comment by "wfortner" is actually me. My wife signed in on hers and didn't sign out!

mikedrid said...

yeah that fucking piece of shit didn't mention against the wall either. he was a cocksucker back then and still is. you know it's like you try to be nice to people and thats what you get.hey tim btw why don't tell people how awful nfaa was at the show you were there

SFader said...

Oh shit! The O.C. Golden Gloves is about to begin hahahahahaha!!!!
(this may be why you get limited OC content)

SFader said...

Oh btw, great part III!!

Anonymous said...

Great stuff, Dan and DCXX. Keep it coming. Great pics too.