Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Jon Biv part IV - The beginning of Supertouch

Supertouch, Pyramid Club, NYC 1990, Photo by: Glenn Maryansky

It's difficult for me to really explain what happened with Mark, Mike Judge and Youth Of Today mainly because I was an outsider to it all. Most people know that Ray Cappo and Mark Ryan were living in the same apartment in NYC for a brief time. To me, what looked like a pretty respectful friendship seemed to sour quickly. And of course, once YOT asked Mike to join and play drums, the friendship just ended.

We played two gigs as Supertouch, in spring 1987, with Mike drumming and Walter Schreifels on bass. We lost Carl to his other commitments, and now we were losing Mike. Make no mistake about it; Mark and I were pissed. A lot of crazy and angry words were being thrown around in the NY Hardcore scene. It never erupted into physical confrontation, but a lot of garbage-talk piled up. It was all really silly because it worked out for the better for Supertouch in the end.

On one of those gigs in '87, we played with a band called Altercation. Mark was very impressed with their drummer. When he heard that Altercation had broken up, he went about trying to find the drummer. This is how we met Andy.

Andy had issues with the scene which were in tune with our own. His band ended because two of the members quit to join another much bigger band. He was perfect for us because he was so talented, loved all different kinds of music, and was fueled by the same anger as Mark and myself.

Supertouch, Pyramid Club, NYC 1990, Photo by: Glenn Maryansky

The first practice with Andy was amazing. We got more done in two hours than we ever got done with Mike in two years. We had also found a new bass player, Mike Bitton. We were ready to start playing shows by September of 1987.

With this new line-up, we were officially Supertouch. No more being confused with Death Before Dishonor. Our practices also changed. We would do a lot of writing and practicing what we already had, but we also did a lot of improvisation. Ok, we weren't Funkadelic or the Bad Brains, but working out crazy spaced out jams with no boundaries really opened up so many possibilities. Hundreds of ideas started coming out of us, and a lot would eventually be used. A song like 'What Did We Learn' started out being inspired by a certain drum beat (taken from an Abused song). It then worked its way into a quiet groove where Mark starts singing, and ends on a high note purely influenced by the Cro-Mags.

The creativity of the band escalated. We weren't afraid to add in quiet parts. They would make the loud and heavy parts around them so much more dynamic. Personally, I started using some chords that most guitar players wouldn't go near. Adding in some major chords in a scene which would only tolerate minor chords and crunch was risky. But who cares? Andy and Mark loved what I was coming up with.

Joe with Supertouch at Fenders, 1989, Photo: Mikey Garceau

With Mike Judge drumming, I wrote Searching, Struggling To Communicate, and our Intro. There were three others which had been dropped. With Andy, the first songs to come out of us were What Did We Learn, How Do You Feel, On 3, Grabbing Hold, and The Day After. Much different from the first efforts, and much different from the other bands we were playing with. We would get a lot of blank stares when we played, but we were also winning over new people all the time.

By mid 1988, we had to replace Mike Bitton. Things just weren't going well with him. We still got gigs and were able to get replacement bass players. We did two gigs with Eddie Cohen (Altercation, Leeway, Both Worlds), and two gigs with Tom Capone (Beyond, Quicksand). We couldn't keep these guys due to their prior commitments so we put an add in the Village Voice. The first call came from Joe Graz.

Andy met up with him and gave him a cassette of a demo we had done, and the WNYU show. There were 10 songs on the tape. When Joe came to try out, it was more like a practice. He knew all the songs, and it wasn't a try out at all. We found our man. Or he found us.


MJ said...

Man, I feel a bit dissed, but thats alright. The thing everybody should know is I sang for DBD when we started. The problem was our drummer(who Stigma hooked us up with) wasn't very reliable. After awhile, it was just easier to ask Mark to sing since we hung together so much and I would learn to play drums to keep the band going. I wasn't a good drummer but I was learning as the band went along. At the time I gave that band all I had, whether it be money, time or transportation. When the Yu brothers left and Mark brought in Biv, he was a way talented guitar player and the songs reflected that. I was lost. Mark was into hip hop and U2. I wasn't. When YOT(who Mark introduced me to) asked me to try out, I did. I couldn't play as fast as Tommy Carroll or Drew, so I dont know how they let me in but they did. I was a basic HC drummer, who only took up drums so I could keep the band the Yu brothers and I started going. I wasn't good enough to play the music that Supertouch was writing. I probably should have left when the band started changing but I wanted to be in a band. Sorry for those 2 years Biv, you should have spoke up.

Anonymous said...

HOLY MF'ER!!!!!!!!!! MIKE JUDGE SPEAKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

HARDattack said...

mike - you left your mark with DBD and held together a great YOT line up, and then did JUDGE --- all of which had a gigantic positive impact on the hardcore scene. supertouch developed in their own way and were loved by many. i'd chalk that up to a win/win for everyone. great to see you on here.

Anonymous said...

We gigged w/ Supertouch at CB's in 89 and I remember being so psyched to see them after we put our stuff away. Loved their flexibility...something different about their music that gave them distinction.

Stark-Arts said...

It's cool to hear Mike's side of it - and for the record while I love The Earth Is Flat I would say that I Judge has has a much longer and bigger impact than Supertouch - that is not a dis on ST but more of a Judge was a band that really could have been big if they would have been able to hold it together another year...as it is they have a legacy that is nearly unmatched by any other band with the limted releases that they put out...
I hope that all makes sense...and doesn't come off like an attack
The 8 times I saw Judge were ALWAYS amazing - and as much as I loved the pit i wish I had started taking photos at shows sooner so i would have those memories solid in my mind....

Jeff Terranova said...

Jon Biv is my brother in rock and I miss playing in a band with him!

Anonymous said...

i think it's time for mike judge to give his definitive interview...and double cross would be the place for it. tim, gordo, and mike...dew it!!!

Anonymous said...

Bass player of Supertouch just offed himself. Too bad. shot him self in head