Friday, July 17, 2009

Dan O'Mahony Part VII, The Final NO!

Dan O with a group sing along at CBGB's, Photo: Jeff Ladd

Here's the final installment of our long-running interview with Dan O. This has been one of the best things to end up on DCXX, be sure to check the previous pieces if you didn't already. Big thanks to Dan! -Gordo DCXX

I don't have a whole lot to ad to what Gordo already said, but I still wanted to take the chance to thank Dan for answering our questions and supplying us with a great collection of entries. Frontmen like Dan O'Mahoney don't come along everyday and in my opinion, he's up there with the best of the best. I hope the readers enjoyed this as much as I know we did. Just say NO! -Tim DCXX

No For An Answer's Hawker Records promo shot

Tell us about writing your books...

I'm at my most creative working with words...written, spoken, or sung. The books were something that sprung from years of writing for Maximum Rock 'N Roll. In fact, the first to suggest them was fellow MRR columnist Sam MacPheeters who had me submit some pre-manuscript material for possible publication by Vermiform I'm guessing, but I don't think the lovesick debauchery he recieved was what he was expecting. Either way, credit to Sam for getting me on that track.

As it turns out, self publication, and later publication through AK Press, were an amazing fit. Both books, "Three Legged Race" and "Four Letter World" are compilations of personal notebooks woven together by a narrative of my emotional wanderings, gambling, and romantic entanglements in the years immediately following my mother's death. I was thrilled with the critical response they recieved and they served as a nice instrument in validating and creating a draw for the 5 spoken word shows I did in the Bay area in the mid-90s.

Give us the backstory on Speak-

Speak (often referred to as Speak 714 for legal reasons) was my last touring band. Initally proposed to me by Joe Foster from Ignite, and involving Doug McKinnon from Slap Shot and Samuel Mars from Straight Faced. That line-up churned out my favorite Dan O'Mahony record in terms of vocals. Joe and I have always had a complicated relationship, politically never in sync, creatively almost always on the same page...eventually my politics won out and I sought membership more in tune with my message. Jeff Baker, Eryc Simmerer, Chris Lisk, and Kevin Panter rounded out the touring line up and later recorded the Scum Also Rises e.p. We did two national tours, and one in Europe.

Speak was interesting in that to listen to it, the OC influence is all pervasive, like a full length version of You Are One a few years further out from puberty, but the touring band dressed in black, employed mic stands for the guitarists to provide back ups, discussed a pretty non-traditional selection of topics from the stage, and was known to perform in varying degrees of sobriety. I think we shook up the Rev tour a bit, and given the ground my life and career had covered in the years preceeding it, I'd have to say that was pretty appropriate. Many good, good times sprang from that tour despite the fact that Speak was a band better recieved abroad than at home. It's a piece of work I remain immensely proud of to this day.

Speak's Revelation Records promo photo

What about John Henry Holiday?

My favorite of these non-live efforts. 4 songs of balls to the wall hardcore written by Chris Lohman and I, with Kevin Panter from the second Speak line up providing the drum tracks. JHH had a few very simple rules that made it fun...if it took more than one practice to write a song we threw it out, no songs over two and a half minutes no matter what, and I must scream some form of the word 'fuck!' somewhere in every song. Perfect. Thanks to Ed McKirdy from Livewire for springing it on the world.

What would you consider your 3 biggest accomplishments in life?

Believe it or not I grew up a very shy, momma's boy type of kid prior to punk rock/HC so I'd say my transformation into someone completely comfortable expressing himself in front of crowds regardless of their size was one. My books mean a great deal to me as they represent putting my feelings and passions out there without hiding behind any group supported cause. Biggest accomplishment hands down however was overcoming my own abandonment/vulnerability issues and marrying Kate O'Neil O'Mahony earlier this year. Crazy, glorious stuff.

After Gavin Absolution saved No For An Answer from the horrors of Kennedy Airport, he took a seat on the CB's crowds heads during their set, Photo: Jeff Ladd

What about your 3 biggest regrets?

In 1997 my grandmother fell terminally ill, it was the second time in a decade that I was staring down the barrell at the loss of one of the women who raised me. I handled things in a very distant and mechanical manner that was really less than she deserved, that's one. I've blown literally hundreds of thousands of dollars on gambling and travel, during hard times financially that phase seems less than genius, but it did help make me who I am today. Third I guess would be answering those questions from Billy Rubin.

A quick word about hardcore retrospectives, the opportunity to contribute to Double Cross, etc...

Looking back has been a blast, telling you guys these stories reminds me of the unique energy with which this music infuses the people who love it. Earlier this year NFAA played a one time reunion to benefit an ailing man's cancer treatment. Faces flooded in from decades past and the room was filled with smiles. Our performance was as coarse and uneven as I fondly remember my first serious band having always been. We weren't a real proficient combination of guys at any point in our history.

I guess where I'm headed with this is that this current wave of retrospection is great so long as we don't kid ourselves, the grass was never greener back then, it's just that the world was new. If you were ever a thinker, an artist, an activist at all, let's hope looking back reminds you that somewhere inside you potentially still are. "I preach like a motherfucker, son". Thanks.

Casey Jones, Billy Rubin and Dan O'Mahoney in April of 2009


Jake Jacobs said...

Thank you, Dan & DCXX, and good night.

Ben Edge said...

I have no idea why I'm the only Speak fan who ever lived. I still think that's a damn good album.

Jake Jacobs said...

I wore out my first copy of Knee Deep In Guilt in '98 and the two Speak shows I went to that year were by far my favorite of my late 20s.

derek said...

I love Speak 714. I think there were only a handful of people who liked them in Buffalo and I was definetly 1 of 3 or 4 people singing along when that rev tour came through.

Farside said...

Loved both Speak records, and they still get the occasional spin. Glad I saw them the one time they played Buffalo.

Billy said...

Thanks for the shout out!

William Patrick Wend said...

I think I was the only person singing along at two separate Speak 714 shows on the east coast in 1998. On the Rev Board the next day after one of them, there was a comment on that and it was pretty funny.

Still need to finally put together the interview I did with Dan that summer. Stay tuned.

Mike P. said...

"the grass was never greener back then, it's just that the world was new."

God, that was great.

Jeremy said...

I love speak 714 I listen to both those records A LOT

Anonymous said...

Wasn't Dan at one point in a band with Mike Kirsch called "Both Hands Broken"? Did they ever record anything?

Jake Jacobs said...

Yes, Dan fronted Both Hands Broken while he was living in Northern California but they never recorded anything. I asked him about BHB when I interviewed him 8 years ago and he said that BHB lasted the longest of all his bands (4 or 5 years) but was the only one that never put out a record.

Speaking of, uh, Speak, check this out -

Derek said...

I wish BHB would have recorded. I read somewhere that it sounded like Quicksand and Danzig mixed together with him singing.

Jake said...

Introducing: Both Hands Broken (Dan O'Mahony's post-411 and pre-Speak band) -

Lauren said...

So glad to find this ongoing article. I've been Googling Dan for years and finding almost nothing.

I discovered Dan O's 2 books while working at Revelation Records in the late 90's. I wasn't a fan of hardcore music, yet found myself entranced by his writings. My copies are so dog earned now from all the re-reading. Seems like a common theme for his fans. His creations are pretty fucking magnetic to us.

Thanks again to Dan and to DCXX. Keep kicking ass.