Moby being interviewed in his NYC house for "Everybody's Scene", Photo: Sue Snow
Chris "Smorgasbord" Daily is the man behind "Everybody's Scene" - the upcoming book that serves as the tell-all about The Anthrax, CT's legendary HC/punk club. We went direct to the mastermind to find out what sparked this idea for him and what we can expect with the book. I've seen most of it, and let me tell you, you DO NOT want to miss out on it. -Gordo DCXX
First, for those not informed, please tell us about yourself and your involvement in HC over the years.
I first got introduce to punk and hardcore by a friend in Red Lion, Pennsylvania named Stewart Ebersole. He was a few years older than me and used to make me cassette tapes in 1984. I ended up moving to Connecticut in early 1985 and I found a flyer for a show at a punk club in the basement of an art gallery named "The Anthrax." I started going to every show from that day on. Sometime later that year I started a skateboard zine called Skate Confusion and eventually I switched over to an all music format and renamed it Smorgasbord. In 1988 the zine morphed into a record label of the same name.
Ray Cappo being interviewed by Chris Daily and filmed by Scott Frosch, Photo: Sue Snow
When did you first become inspired to undertake a project like this? Why is it that a club in CT still impacts you almost 20 years after the doors to it closed?
I have to be honest and say that I was really inspired by the other HxC books that came out recently: Adult Crash, Power Of Expression and Radio Silence. I met with AP and Nate of Radio Silence and saw the stuff they collected and I left there psyched. I heard over the years that someone was doing a book about The Anthrax but the details were slim. I looked into it and found out the project stalled for a variety of reasons, so I asked if they cared if I tried to give it a shot. I made a few calls and tracked down the owners' phone numbers and called them. For some reason they were cool and excited about the possibility of it, so I drove to CT and we met for breakfast. After that things started to fall into shape really fast and the next thing I knew I was scanning thousands of photos and conducting a ton of interviews.
Why The Anthrax? It’s interesting because before I started doing the interviews I kind of just figured it was only me that held the fact that I had The Anthrax in my youth as an amazing thing. But it was echoed again and again by people. That club gave us all a place to go, it encouraged us to participate any way we saw fit, and it brought in bands from all over the world to play music for us. It's a bizarre thing but people on the outside world of punk and hardcore from those years can't seem to grasp that something like that really shaped my life. It forced me to look at the world in a different manner than just going along with the normal aspects of typical youth. Because I saw it all the time at the club, I knew that if I thought something was not right, I could speak up and do something about it. If I did not like a band, I could freely start my own AND get to play on a stage. Or if I did not like someone's form of propaganda, next week I can bring my own flyer and give it to anyone that would take it.
What did you do to get the book project off the ground, and what did you hope to accomplish?
As my wife will attest to, once I get something in my head, it’s usually full steam ahead. I just started contacting people and seeing if they had photos and wanted to talk. Some people said no, but a bunch of people said yes. Jon Field of Up Front made a quick website and the reaction was amazing so that kept fanning the fire. Things really just fell into place. I was amazed what people kept over the years.
I ended up finding all my personal pictures that I must have traded away over the years in England and also in the collection of my friend Joe Whiskeyman. I just wanted to tell the story, start to finish with an amazing visual to go along with it. I had no idea how it was going to get out there for the world to see, but through the connections within the HxC scene I was able to get a lot of advice and opinions. It’s an amazing network, especially as we all grow older. I have to say, the social networking sites, Facebook and Myspace, were amazing…amazing to find people.
Gavin Van Vlack making himself comfortable at Moby's pad, Photo: Sue Snow
As you got into doing this work involved with this book, what were your biggest obstacles? Was there anything you had to scale back as the work progressed?
The biggest obstacle was just finding the time to do all of it. I had to travel to CT from PA to conduct interviews, so every time I went I wanted to schedule as many interviews as I could. Same for when I was going to NYC to meet with people, the scheduling was always a pain but it worked out. I did not really have to scale anything back but I had to put dead lines on things like getting interviews in and photos scanned because I had a specific time line that I wanted to get the book out within. I really relied on word of mouth to generate the need for things. I spent a lot of time tracking down people.
Who were people you came in contact with that you thought you might never hear from? Who were people you reconnected with that you hadn't spoken to in years? And who were some people you couldn't get in touch with but had hoped to?
There were so many people that I came in contact with that I had not seen since the late ‘80s, people that I really never thought I’d talk to again. Not for reasons of falling outs or anything, just because I had no real reason to talk with them. I would have loved to sit and talk with Mike Judge, just because it would have been cool to get his perspective and I wish I had the Porcell interview on video and not the phone. But there was not really anyone that shunned the project. There were people that I would have liked to get yet they did not see the need, but was fine with me. Everyone was great.
What was one single experience that was really a highlight in working on all of this?
A cool thing was walking into a room to interview someone or a group of people and instantly having a feeling of a bond. People still looked the same, people still sounded the same, that was great. We would reminisce about shows and things while the recorder was running. It was great to spend hours talking about that club. Seems crazy but it’s true.
Chris Daily and Malcom from the Connecticut record store, Trash, Photo: Sue Snow
Did you find it difficult to not take a Steven Blush-type approach and not constantly interject your own memories into the book? I found it interesting that you really let others tell the story about a place you knew as well as anyone.
I never read American Hardcore so I did not have any inclination of what that book's focus/approach was. The early drafts had a few direct memories of my own but the story flowed much better from a historical perspective of just telling the facts and sharing people’s experiences. I have to tell you, for some reason I really loved that place, I was there ALL the time. But hearing the stories and the experiences of others about things there was really great. A lot of them were totally different than mine, yet we all shared the same idea that The Anthrax was a friggin' great place to have.
What are your own personal best memories from The Anthrax? Best shows, best friends, best stories?
I literally went to hundreds of shows there, so stand out shows are tough to conjure up. I was really into the NYHC and exploding SXE scenes so anytime a gig was on the schedule for those it was a guaranteed great night. I made a lot of friends at that club, friends I still have today, and I looked forward to going week after week. Looking back, I probably took it for granted and never thought about those days ending. Awesome memories that I hope the book will capture and can be used to share with my daughter. I hope she finds her own Anthrax.
Give us some final wrap up details on the book and what else is in store.
Book release parties in New Haven CT on November 27th. One that is all ages at Channel 1 (http://www.channel1online.com) and one with bands at a club/bar that is 21+ (http://www.cafenine.com). Book is 208 pages, over 225 unseen photos, tells the entire history of the club, and features a complete gig list. The online promo trailer response has been unbelievable. It was not my idea to film the interviews, but man…it was a great idea. Sadly there were so many more hours taped of interviews not shown in that trailer. Right now there is no plan of a documentary but who knows down the road. If anyone is interested, let’s talk!
Anthrax owner, Shaun Sheridan with Daily and Frosch, Photo: Sue Snow
Monday, October 19, 2009
Posted by DOUBLE CROSS at 5:58 PM