Billy from the back cover of "The Truth" LP on New Beginning Records
Billy Rubin has really proven to be a very valuable contributor to DCXX. His writing has a way of pulling you into the story and making you look forward to every sentence to come. This entry is no different and as always, we thank Billy for his time, effort and passion. Read on... -Tim DCXX
When I was publishing THINK back in the 80's I had the opportunity to interview two of the best up and coming bands in the So Cal scene (Half Off and Insted) . Both bands seemed to come out of nowhere just as Uniform Choice, Doggy Style, Final Conflict and Dissension were really taking off. Half Off kicked their original singer out right as they were recording a track for a compilation that Wishingwell was going to put out.
Out of nowhere, the guys from Half Off called me and asked me to join the band. I think they chose me because I had interviewed them for THINK. I really didn’t know their songs that well and had no experience singing, but I was thrilled with the chance to have a creative outlet. I ended up recording vocal tracks for “Who Writes Your Rules?” at Radio Tokyo sometime in 1986. That was my first day in Half Off. I’m not sure what became of that track, it might have been given to Pat Dubar. The compilation never came out.
Half Off at Gilman St., Billy sports the half mohawk, Photo courtesy of: Billy Rubin
From that point on I was in Half Off. The very first show Half Off played with me singing was at the Farm in San Francisco. We used to practice a couple days a week in Vadim’s parents garage. There were many fun times in that garage. There are pics of UC playing in that same garage floating around where you can see Vadim’s little sister’s toys in the background of the pics. We used to hang out in front of Vadim’s parent’s house waiting for him to get home from school so we could start to practice. He’d ride home from school on this crappy little red BMX bike with cross bars. Band practice was always my favorite part of being in a band. The guys in Half Off were a lot of fun and we became more than best friends. We were family. Vadim and I had the same last name which was just coincidence.
We recorded the second Half Off demo at a little recording studio in Belmont Shore a few blocks behind the restaurant with the fake snow on the roof. Katon from Hirax and Ron Martinez from Final Conflict were there singing back-ups and helping out. I really sucked and disliked singing lyrics that Tim (the previous singer) had written. It just didn’t feel sincere. Musically the band was limited. Vadim and Jim had literally picked up crappy equipment and taught themselves to play out of a sheer love for hardcore music. I just liked to sing because I thought that what I had to say mattered. Vadim and Jim had much deeper musical taste than me. They were very into speed metal and heavier stuff. BLAST was their favorite band at the time and the song “Not Afraid” was one of Jim’s first attempts at writing a song. Jim and Vadim really drove the musical direction. The original bassist (Jeff Boetto) wasn’t down with what they were writing and Jim and Vadim were totally annoyed with him. When Jim played me the guitar riffs for “On Your Own”, “Rain On The Parade” and “The Truth” I was convinced we had to get rid of our bass player. We kicked Jeff out of the band and I don’t think we were very nice about it. I owe an apology to Jeff Boetto.
I found John Bruce as a replacement (on bass) through Gavin Oglesby (Gavin and John were best friends in high school). John was a part of the scene, he was always around and he had the best Gavin-painted leather jacket I had ever seen. It was a picture of CFA. John wasn’t a very good bass player at the time, in fact he had just started to play, but he quickly became the back bone of the band (and became an excellent bass player). The biggest problem Half Off had in the beginning is that Jim and Vadim were broke and couldn’t afford good equipment. After John joined the band, we had a band meeting and got really serious...Jim got a job at Taco Bell on Atlantic Blvd in Long Beach (which was especially funny because he hated Mexican food) and Vadim got a job at KFC. With new equipment and a new bass player Half Off really started to take shape. Our Lp “The Truth” had two different recording sessions on it. The songs “The Truth”, “On Your Own”, “Rain on the Parade” and “Blood Turns To Water” were the direction Half Off was going. The other material was recorded on equipment that we borrowed from VIRULENCE (Fu Manchu). We always had trouble in the studio and were never happy with the production, but we didn’t know what else to do. We couldn’t afford a good studio and this was back when punk rock music would freak out most studio engineers. They had never heard it. Those early songs were incredible attempts at writing a type of hardcore that we just weren’t talented enough to execute. The result was a record (The Truth) that didn’t sound good.
John Bruce on bass for Half Off, Photo courtesy of Billy Rubin
For the next 2 years Half Off played shows up and down the California coast (and Arizona). We opened for bands ranging from EXCEL to Youth of Today. At every show we always closed with the DYS cover “No Pain No Gain”. There were nothing but good times. The scene was exploding. It seemed like at least once a month we’d be sharing the stage with Uniform Choice, Insted, No For An Answer or Final Conflict. Big Frank had hired me at Zed records and that got me an inside track to getting shows. Frank used to book shows out of Zed, and whenever he needed an opening band, I’d be sitting on that counter by the front door with the flyers on it smiling at him. Frank essentially ran the entire scene out of Zed records and that put me at ground zero. We got on a lot of shows because of Frank.
When I moved out of my parent’s house in 1987 I moved into an apartment with Krishna Jain (aka Maynard Krebs) from Crucial Youth. He had moved to Long Beach (from New Jersey) to work for Douglas Aircraft as an engineer. Krishna was about the nicest guy any of us had met and we couldn’t help but invite him to join the band. I’m not sure how many shows we played with Krishna, but he was definitely in the band. Having Krishna in Half Off probably fueled the fire of rumors about Grudge and all the other anti straight edge crap. The truth is that we liked to piss people off. We just had fun with it and everyone was so serious. The more serious people got, the more silly we became.
Half Off never had an issue with straight edge. I was straight edge (and I suppose I still am). We had an issue with people that were turning straight edge into a fashion statement or a club/gang. It was disturbing to see something so important being turned into a commodity. That commodity was being used as a wedge to exclude people from the punk/hardcore scene rather than embrace the diversity fostered by the DIY attitude that had made punk rock a force to be reckoned with. It seemed to me that the straight ege thing to do was embrace the people with drug/alcohol problems (not attack them). The other thing that became prevalent in the scene was the “tough guy” image that went along with being “hard”. I still don’t know what that means outside of a description of a penis.
At any rate, Krishna playing second guitar gave us an opportunity to have a heavier sound and all of us were finally learning to play our instruments. Half Off began to work on material for a new record. I think we had at least 5 songs written. The new material was really heavy in a Black Flag “My War” meets Final Conflict “Self Righteous Pigs” vein with maybe a dash of Articles of Faith “Give Thanks” thrown in for good measure. We recorded some stuff that I never put vocals to. One of the songs we recorded was the Misfits “All Hell Breaks Loose”. We also recorded Black Flag’s “Six Pack” and WIRE’s “12xU”. I think Fred Hammer might have used this material on the 7" he put out.
Back cover image from the "Shoot Gun" EP
By the time we recorded our last record, “Shoot Guns” we had really morphed into a different band than the one that played “Make Every Minute Count.” For one thing, we had gone through puberty. For another we weren’t shy about who we were in the scene. The title “Shoot Guns” which was short for Shoot Guns Eat Pussy was named after a Henry Rollins poem where Henry talks about shooting guns and eating miles of pussy. We thought that was so funny we had to write a song about it. I’m pretty sure it was a serious topic for Henry. That is what made it funny. There were so many “tough guys” walking around, writing tough lyrics doing “hard” things to prove how “hard” they were and “Shoot Guns Eat Pussy” seemed like the perfect name for a song Jim had written(the music). None of us were ever going to be tough guys. Shoot Guns Eat Pussy was just a working title until we got into the studio and I wrote the lyrics 5 minutes before I had to lay down the vocals. My sense of humor was at about the 13 year old level of maturity (and still is). Jeff Banks and Isaac were there with us and we added some embellishments on the back up vocal track to put it over the edge. The studio engineer came up with the effect to add to my vocals when I said the part about satan. We really had fun knowing that people weren’t going to know what to think of a record that had a classic Bad Brains song and "Shoot guns eat pussy" on it. Gavin drew the incredible artwork for the cover and I found the back cover drawing of NYC blowing up in some comic book. We were just screwing around. There wasn't some big fued.
I know some of you will want to know how many copies we put out on which color vinyl. Its hard to keep track of because over the years, whenever I needed money, I’d just repress Crippled Youth, Underdog and Shoot Guns and sell them for the big bucks. Just Kidding!
At some point, Half Off was big enough to tour. We started booking a tour across the US and I bought Unfiorm Choice’s Ford 350 Econoline Van. The tour was actually booked and was going to include a show at CBGB’s. We needed a second guitar player (Krishna couldn’t tour) and we asked Jeff Banks to join the band for the tour. Jeff did an accurate job of describing what went down in his blog entry on Double Cross when he momentarily joined Half Off. The inside scoop on all of this was that Jim had become increasingly difficult to deal with. He had a temper that was really out of control. When we tried to incorporate Jeff Banks into the band, Jim was very sensitive to Jeff being “too metal.” The rest of us were afraid of Jim’s temper tantrums and walked on eggshells around him. Being in Half Off had become very difficult and it just wasn’t as much fun as it used to be when we were tooling around in Vadim’s garage. When John Bruce decided he couldn’t do the tour because of his diabetes it was a blessing in disguise. Half Off broke up. I think we blamed John Bruce at first, but the truth is that Half Off was stale. Originaly Half Off was 4 kids that couldn’t even drive playing crappy instruments covering DRI songs and trying to play as fast as they could. We needed something more.
Shortly after that HAYWIRE began. One of my biggest regrets is that Jim Burke wasn’t invited to join Haywire. Jim killed himself a little while later. To this day I wish I could have seen it coming. No one is prepared to find their friend dead or go to an open casket viewing of their best friend. Jim was a great song writer, had great taste and an incredible sense of humor. I can still see him playing that black guitar with the SSD sticker on it. Jim, I still miss you! RIP
Half Off with Dan O'Mahoney watching on in deep thought, Photo courtesy of: Billy Rubin
Thursday, January 29, 2009
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Youth Of Today at Gilman St. on the "Break Down The Walls" tour 1987
I distinctly remember driving through Flemington New Jersey in 1990, a town that is a mere 15-20 minute drive from my own home town and being told by my friend Jay "The Regulator" about a dude named RJ Vail who roadied for Youth Of Today on the "Break Down The Walls" '87 tour and lived in that very town. I remember being pretty surprised that a guy that roadied for Youth Of Today lived so close and I had no idea. As the years passed, I met more people that knew RJ and every conversation always came back to him touring with Youth Of Today.
Now jumping ahead to 2008, I get a message from RJ regarding Double Cross. Some how or another he ended up on the site and wanted to shoot me a message praising what we were doing. Of course since I recognized his name, I asked if he was interested in sharing some stories and memories from the "Break Down The Walls" tour. RJ happily agreed and from that point on it was just a matter of us catching up and making it happen.
This past weekend, RJ and I finally got a chance to meet up. His son was in my town for a hockey game, so after the game we all met up at a diner for breakfast. After breakfast we made our way back to my house, where at that point his son Jake teamed up with my son Trevor for a little Wii and a light saber duel and RJ and I sat down with the tape recorder rolling. The following is part one of what transpired, more to come. -Tim DCXX
RJ Vail with the mohawk and shades, along with Navy Jim, Mark Struble and crew 1986
I grew up in Butler, New Jersey which was a stone's throw from Montville and a quick train ride into New York City. Like everyone, skateboarding played a big roll in introducing me to a lot of great people and of course punk and hardcore. In my town I was hanging with guys like Steve Vivino (the guy standing on stage at the Anthrax in the Underdog shirt on the cover of "The Way It Is"), Navy Jim Nargiso (Beyond, PX, etc. roadie) and a guy named Mark Struble. We were skating and hopping trains into NYC for shows at CB's sometime around '84 and '85. Then by 1986, through skating, I met Mike Ferraro (Judge) and Jimmy Yu (Judge). We all quickly became good friends and started hanging out regularly.
In 1987 when Youth Of Today was planning for their "Break Down The Walls" tour, Mike was playing drums and had asked me if I wanted to go on the tour as a roadie. Somehow or another Mike and the rest of the band had the impression that I was handy with cars. They said they needed someone who would be able to help with the tour van if they ran into problems and I told them, sure, I could help out with that. Honestly though, I didn't know shit about cars and was telling those guys anything that they wanted to hear so that they'd bring me along for the tour. Little did I know that I was actually going to be needed for that sort of thing, but we'll get to that.
So the line up for Youth Of Today at that time was Ray, Porcell, Walter, Richie and Mike. Civ also joined the tour as a roadie. I'm pretty sure the tour was kicked off in New York City or Connecticut. I know we made our way down to D.C. for the Rock Against Reagan show that was happening right there at the National Mall by the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument. The bands were playing on the back of a flat bed tractor trailer and there was a ton of people there. I remember the Bad Brains playing and of course Youth Of Today. Me being a guy that's always leaned to the right, I stood on stage during Youth Of Today wearing a mesh hat with USA across the front and I was flipping off all the hippies. We were there to play, I don't think any of us really cared about "Rocking Against Reagan". It was a gig, it was with the Bad Brains and there were people there to see us, so that's all that mattered.
Mark Struble and RJ punked out, back in the day
After the Rock Against Reagan gig we stayed at the Dischord house, not sure who arranged that. I know when we got there someone told us to watch out for the naked guy. Ian wasn't there and I don't remember anyone from Dischord actually being there, but rest assured, we did run into the naked guy. Every once in awhile you'd catch this buck naked dude walking in and out of a room, walking around a corner and even sitting in a lawn chair on the front porch, buck fucking naked. Dude didn't say a word, just hung out naked all day long. I remember going down to the basement and seeing the drums set up for practice, it was like nothing was ever changed since Minor Threat. A memorable stay for sure.
Eventually we made our way down to Florida. As luck would have it, the drive shaft on the van broke. Everyone said, "RJ, get to work man, you do know this shit right?" Hah, the truth came out, I didn't know a damn thing about fixing cars or vans. We ended up at a garage in Miami where they told us they would need about $300 to fix it, problem was, we had no money. Someone had the idea to offer our services to the garage in exchange for them fixing the van. The mechanic told us that they had a junkyard and asked if any of us had any particular skills that we might be able to help around the junkyard with. I did have some experience removing windshields, so they sent us off to the junkyard and agreed to fix the van if we removed some windshields. Somehow or another Ray never made it to the junkyard, not sure where he ended up, but the rest of us found ourselves working away in that hot junkyard. At some point Walter sits down in a nest of fire ants. His legs get covered by these ants and they bite the shit out of him. Walter was freaking out like crazy.
RJ Vail and Goob, Clifton Speed Center 1986
Eventually we get out of the junkyard and meet up with Ray. Now at this time, Ray was really into vegetarianism, organic food and natural healing, so Walter asked Ray if he had any remedies for bug bites. These fire ants had bitten Walter's legs really bad and they were all red. Walter was clearly very uncomfortable and desperately looking for relief. Ray told him that he had a remedy and the next thing you know he's covering Walter's legs in peanut butter, mayonnaise, banana peels and whatever else he could find. There Walter sat, legs completely covered in this disgusting concoction of food and Ray asked, "You feeling any better?"... Walter paused for a minute, "No, acuually, I'm not feeling any better at all!!!" At that point Ray cracked up laughing, turned out that Ray knew nothing about any remedy and this concoction that he had mixed up and covered Walter's legs in was all a big joke. Man did we ever get a laugh off of that. That became a running joke for the rest of the tour.
To be continued...
Monday, January 26, 2009
Triple Threat at the Pyramid Club, NYC, Photo: Jamie Heim
This is probably only going to be entertaining to the readers that listen to the Howard Stern show, but I felt like I absolutely had to post this. In the case that you are not familiar with Kenneth Keith Kallenbach, he was one of Howard's Wack Packers. Dude was hilarious, lived in the Philadelphia area. He died April 24th of 2008 in a Deleware County jail. The whole death has been a huge controversy which I'm not going to get into. Our friend John Meat, who did a fanzine called Meat Sheet, who's also a huge Stern fan, was in contact with Kenneth Keith fairly regularly. At some point John tried connecting Kenneth Keith with my band Triple Threat. I'm not sure if it was a joke attempt to have us play together or what the story really was, but our drummer Jason just dug these messages up and forwarded them to me. Somehow or another Kenneth Keith was under the impression that Triple Threat wanted to actually cover his songs and have him sing, where he got that idea, I couldn't tell you. I ultimately said, this belongs on DCXX! - Tim DCXX
It's Kenneth Keith Kallenbach. John Meat said you guys might want to learn some of songs and do some shows around Philly here. So let me know. My website is http://www.KennethKeith.com so check that out. And let me know if you do want to. We could practice a few times first.
Kenneth Keith Kallenbach
hey it's me kenneth keith kallenbach
i got your message on my comments section
and yes i'd love to do some gigs with you guys
maybe you can learn a couple of my very easy punk rock songs, like i got beers and kitty come back and doggy doggy ruff and alligator and we can do some gigs together
let me know
kenneth keith kallenbach
Sunday, January 25, 2009
Cappo climbs out of the crowd at the Rat in Boston
It's funny, no matter how many people criticize and talk shit on Youth Of Today or Ray Cappo, they always seem to win easily in every poll we ever include them in here on DCXX. I guess the greatness of a record like "Break Down The Walls" is simply undeniable. I mean, think about it... how can you go wrong kicking an album off with a hardcore song as perfect as "Make A Change"? And "Stabbed In The Back"...I still get goose bumps when I hear it. Not that we didn't have tough competition listed, Uniform Choice "Screaming For Change" took second, BL'AST "Power Of Expression" took third, Insted "Bonds Of Friendship" took fourth and Unity "You Are One" took fifth, because absolutely every single one of these releases stand on their own with greatness. But, Youth Of Today is Youth Of Today, they are a one of a kind and they have left a mark on the hardcore scene like few bands can. Ok, enough talking about it, I've gotten myself too psyched up, now I gotta go listen to it. "Break Em' Down!" - Tim DCXX
Youth Of Today - "Break Down The Walls" : 204
Uniform Choice - "Screaming For Change" : 157
BL'AST! - "Power Of Expression" : 55
Insted - "Bonds Of Friendsship" : 36
Unity - "You Are One" : 32
Youth Of Today at the Rat in Boston
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Yesterday I pulled up to my house after coming home from work, to find two boxes sitting on my porch. I had been patiently awaiting the arrival of the actual CD's for the Mouthpiece - "Can't Kill What's Inside" discography and it looked like they had finally arrived. I got my kids out of the car, hopped up to the porch, grabbed the two boxes and pushed my way into the house.
I grabbed a nail and sliced through the tape as quickly as I could. The first box I opened was an un-glued, un-folded, sample LP jacket and an LP lyric sheet. I looked over both quickly and moved on to the second box, which was the CD's. Again I slashed the tape with a nail and the first thing I saw when the box opened was a row of shiny CD case spines. I pulled one out, gazed at the cover, flipped it over, gazed at the back cover, popped it open, checked out the CD, pulled the CD off and looked at the photo underneath, then I carefully pulled out the booklet. Page by page I went through it as if I had never seen it before in my life. I was reading lyrics, checking out the show listings, staring at the photos, soaking it all in. Keep in mind, this is a project that I have been working on for four years. Finally seeing the actual finished product in my hands felt a little surreal. Sure I spent this past year working back and forth with co-designer and former band roadie Ed McKirdy on the layouts and of course we had printed our own mock ups as things progressed, but there's nothing like seeing the actual finished product. All that work, all that time, all that effort, all those late nights sitting in front of my computer, all those drives to the studios, this was the result.
Today I came home to two more boxes from Revelation. A box of LP test pressings and another box with various merch. The first Revelation Mouthpiece shirt design, some stickers and a couple different pins. Again, this was all stuff that Ed and I sat up many late nights, doing screen shares and designing until our eyes went bloodshot. Seeing the shirts in front of me, the stickers, the pins, all for the first time... yeah, it was all worth it.
I think it's finally starting to set in, this project is finished and Mouthpiece now has it's final resting place on Revelation Records. Who would have thought? I know we never did. I remember ordering the Gorilla Biscuits 7", the Side By Side 7" and the Chain Of Strength 7" all from Rev when they came out, I remember ordering a Side By Side and Gorilla Biscuits shirts from them in 1988. Getting those Revelation packages in the mail with that cool Revelation stamp was always something I couldn't wait to see in my mail box. I continued ordering from Revelation so many times over the years, even as recent as the Judge discog on vinyl. Still, the excitement of seeing that package never seems to dull. Now this time around, finding my own bands record in that package... as it was said, "mission accomplished, good job men". -Tim DCXX
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Listened to both 7"s over and over and over again yesterday, so I guess I'm in a bit of a Chain mood. I also like to share. Chain Of Strength at the Safari Club in Washington, D.C., March of 1990. What more needs to be said? -Tim DCXX
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Last night I was digging through some boxes in my basement closets and came across a ton of old zines, photos, demos and flyers. Some stuff I knew I had, but some of the stuff I thought was long gone. One particular find was this Unit Pride 1989 Tour flyer. On the opposite side of this flyer was a letter from a guy named Garrett Chow, who happened to be the artist who designed the Unit Pride flyer. I always thought this was a cool design and and the tag line, "Cities Buried Underground Because We Went Off!", made it that much cooler. Finding this one was a pleasant surprise to say the least. Now if I could only find the Unit Pride your shirt with this same design!
Coming across this flyer and all of the other stuff I found gave me the idea of posting some of these random finds. Old ads, Schism postcards, rare flyers and zines, photos, etc., all will eventually find their way to a post here on DCXX. Hopefully you will enjoy this stuff as much as I enjoyed finding it. -Tim DCXX
Monday, January 19, 2009
Following in the footsteps of my previous entries where I broke down the covers of each Mouthpiece record, we finally find ourselves at the Mouthpiece - "Face Tomorrow" 7" cover. Coincidentally this entry coincides with the actual release date of the Mouthpiece - "Can't Kill What's Inside" discography, which is officially released today January 20th 2009 on Revelation Records. Originally I had planned on ending this collection of Mouthpiece record cover entries here with this one, but thought I might as well include the "Can't Kill What's Inside" discography cover in this collection as well. I'll probably wrap that cover up next week or the following. For now, here's the story behind the "Face Tomorrow" cover. -Tim DCXX
Released late summer 1995 on New Age Records, the "Face Tomorrow" 7" was the last record that we released as an active band. At this point in the hardcore scene, I can clearly recall just how much metal had infiltrated hardcore music. Not that metal hadn't left it's mark on the scene much earlier on, but at this point specifically, every straight edge band popping up was playing slow, grinding, stomp metal disguised as hardcore. Personally, I felt like this was our time to stand out from the crowd. Not that I had any particular problems with any certain bands playing that metal style of hardcore, but I certainly knew that Mouthpiece never had and never would bring metal into our sound. We were always partial to the traditional straight edge hardcore style and at this time, it was clear that we were of the minority. Because of this, we sort of went out of our way to make "Face Tomorrow" look like a more traditional looking, early Revelation style hardcore record. Although our past record covers definitely had more of an abstract, artistic style, that was not the direction we were to ultimately go with this release. But I can't say that was always the plan 100 percent.
Before we had decided the direction we wanted to go with the "Face Tomorrow" 7" cover, we had dabbled with the idea of having a local artist design the cover. The artists name was Dave and he was friends with our bass player Sean McGrath. Dave did a lot of wood cut etching type of work along the lines of what you would find on the cover of some of those early 90's San Diego hardcore bands records like Amenity and Forced Down. I kinda liked that style and liked those bands, so I felt some sort of connection with that design.
What I had in mind graphically was something involving a person that was completely surrounded by garbage and destruction, almost like he was the last person left alive after a nuclear explosion. The concept came from the lyrics to the song "Cinder", which appeared on the "Face Tomorrow" 7". Lyrically "Cinder" dealt with the theme of how people destroy and waste everything and how at some point it was going to catch up with us.
When Sean told Dave about this concept, Dave immediately said that he thought he had the perfect piece that fit that idea. So before we knew it, Sean and I were off to Philadelphia where this guy Dave was currently living. I remember his apartment was right on Broad Street. We parked in front of his place, walked up the steps, rung the door bell and Dave came to the door. Dave was a skateboarder, very quite, artsy type of guy. He took us into his kitchen where he had various pieces of his art scattered on his kitchen table. Nothing really jumped out at me, not that anything was bad, it was definitely well done, I just didn't see anything that exactly fit what I had in mind. Then Dave grabbed the one piece that he thought was what we wanted. It was a dude standing on top of a pile of trash... buck naked, wang hanging, the whole deal. Sean and I were clearly a bit uncomfortable, but since this guy was a friend of Sean's, I sort of stepped back and let Sean do what he felt was right. Just to be nice, Sean bought the nude garbage man for $25 and that was the last we ever spoke of that artwork and that concept.
Photo that we gave Jeff from Game Face to paint "Screaming For Change" style, Photo: Traci McMahon
Since we weren't interested in a piece of artwork with a dudes wiener hanging out, we were on to our next idea. Somehow or another it came up that this guy Jeff who sang for the band Game Face was an artist. Game Face were on the record label Network Sound, which was a sort of a combo label between Mike from New Age and Dennis from Conversion, so we had that connection with him. This was all going down during the time that our friend Ed McKirdy was living in Southern California and working at New Age. Ed was the guy that coordinated this idea of having Jeff Game Face attempt to do our cover.
The idea was to take this photo that we had of the band walking up these steps at the West Trenton train station. In the photo I was wearing my Straight Edge varsity jacket and Jason was wearing his Mouthpiece Straight Edge jacket, this is the photo that ended up on the lyric sheet of the final release of the 7", only in high contrast. The plan was to have Jeff paint the photo in the style of the Uniform Choice - "Screaming For Change" LP cover. Jeff took a couple tries at this concept and Ed sent me the samples. For some reason or another, although they looked pretty cool, none of Jeff's samples looked exactly how I had envisioned it. Possibly I was expecting too much because of the classic "Screaming For Change" cover that I was comparing it to, but either way we decided to ditch that concept.
What I will say that's pretty interesting, is that many years later I heard a rumor that Jeff Game Face dated Gwen Stefani from No Doubt. Word on the street is that the very popular No Doubt song, "Spiderwebs" was written by Gwen about Jeff. Of course every time I hear that song, I think of that dude drawing the cover for our 7" and us rejecting it. If someone talks to Jeff or Gwen and is able to confirm or deny this rumor, please feel free to leave a comment.
Mouthpiece in Chatham, NJ, same show "Face Tomorrow" 7" cover photo was taken, Photo: Traci McMahon
Finally after these failed attempts at a cover, I decided that what I really wanted was a live photo. Again, given the hardcore climate of the time, a live action photo on the cover was a contrast to what you would have normally seen. We had recently played this incredible show in Chatham, New Jersey with Snapcase, Ignite (first east coast show) and Texas Is The Reason (first show) and Traci (then girl friend, now wife) had taken some great photos from our set. There were about 3 or 4 photos taken during the same song, of this huge pile on / sing along that ended up on the stage. The photos really seemed to capture the insanity perfectly. So we picked the one that seemed right.
We sent the photo to Hartsfield, with the rest of the mocked up 7" layouts. Pretty much just told Mike what we wanted and how we wanted it and left the rest in his hands. Looking back at the final release, I definitely wish we had spent more time figuring out exactly how we wanted the typography to look on the cover. I never ended up feeling totally satisfied with how the text was laid out. Really the only person I could blame was myself, so it was never anything I complained about. Mike simply interpreted what we had explained and the result was fine, but not perfect.
Unfortunately, although I still love the photo and think it could have worked better with a few minor tweaks, this 7" cover is my least favorite of all our records. Like I said, it was my fault for leaving too much up for interpretation... photo full bleed, logo up here, title here... that's about all I said. The rest of the layout I remember being more particular about and doing actual mock ups for, but the cover I took for granted. In the grand scheme of things, I don't think many other people felt the way that I did about this cover and I don't think it detracted from the overall record. Thankfully I got one more swing at a final Mouthpiece cover when we did the discography, but I'll get into that for the next entry.
Alternate "Face Tomorrow" 7" cover shot
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Wide Awake at The Anthrax, Chris Daily with the sing along, Photo: Brian Boog
Double Cross friend and occasional contributor, Chris Daily, is in the very early stages of putting together a book based on the history of the famed Connecticut club, The Anthrax. Chris made the announcement yesterday through message board posts and an email blast, but I thought it would be a good idea to post his message up here as well. Check out Chris's message, the site and keep an eye out here on DCXX for further posts regarding this project. -Tim DCXX
Some of you may remember me and some of you will have no clue. My name is Chris Daily, and I used to do a few zines (Skate Confusion and Smorgasbord) back in the 80's, as well as a record label. The first release was a comp 7" recorded with Jeff R in the Anthrax on 01/24/1988.
The Anthrax Club was a place that we all spent a lot of time at. A club that brought live music into our lives at a crucial point in our adolescence. The bands that played there, the photos we all have seen, the flyers and the genius booking schedules…amazing.
For years I have thought about doing a book that would document the history and the excitement we all felt. 2009 brings that desire to a head. In talking with the owners, Shaun and Brian Sheridan, we agreed; a book is a great idea. They are on board and pulling things out of storage. You have no idea how excited I am.
Without wasting any more of your time, I'd like to direct you to a web page announcing the project. I have spoken to a few of the old regulars but I want to document every one's experience. Please take a look at the page, I am searching for anything you may have or remember that will make the story of the Anthrax Club more complete.
Anthrax Club Book
I hope to hear from you soon. -Chris Daily
Circle Storm at The Anthrax, Photo: Jeff Ladd
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
7 Seconds at City Gardens, Summer 1987, Photo: Ken Salerno
Nothing too heavy here, just a happy and fun photo dedication to one of the greats... 7 Seconds. As always, big thanks to Ken for contributing these shots. Use your head, be aware, give a fuck! -Tim DCXX
Bobby Adams, Guitar, Photo: Ken Salerno
Steve Youth, Bass, Photo: Ken Salerno
Troy Mowat, Drums, Photo: Ken Salerno
Kevin Seconds, Vocals, Photo: Ken Salerno
IN YOUR FACE
You wanna be the way I am
But you could never understand
You shave your fuckin' head
Then you turn your back
On your best friends
It's not just in my head
It's in my heart
And you're not gonna Tear this one apart
The way you look it fits
How come your attitude is shit?
You say you do it your own way
But now I have the price to pay
If I can give a fuck
You better start, so...
Use your head be aware
Give a fuck!
The same routine. fuck up again
You have no real regrets
But this is not just something
I can easily forget
I can't believe you've come this far
Yet still so unaware
No cause no brains no fire inside
When will you learn to care
Kevin Seconds, a BL'AST! shirt, a happy City Gardens crowd, Photo: Ken Salerno
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Joe Nelson contiunes with part II of the Orange County White Power saga.
I really didn't think this needed clarifying, but in light of some comments to Part I, let me be very clear: Double Cross and Joe Nelson are not down with any racist movement or ideology, we think it sucks. In publishing these tales, we are letting Joe take us to a time and place in hardcore where this shit creeped up. The below images are examples of the stuff that was circulating by WP types in the hardcore scene. I can't believe I have to actually clarify this, but: WE DO NOT SUPPORT THESE VIEWS.
Thanks and enjoy... -Gordo DCXX
You Tube footage of the Geraldo brawl
I started to think that maybe with all this new found national media attention they weren't as interested in the occasional Aggression or Battalion of Saints show. All the better, I rationalized. I had my 2 stickers, which was 2 more then I had ever hoped for anyway. A lot of us started to grow our hair out as well. The last thing we wanted, especially with the Nazis infiltrating the suburban airwaves, was to be mistaken for one of them at the mall or something.
Around my town of Huntington Beach, a couple of pretenders to the Aryan throne did arise. There were gangs with names like SFU, which is perhaps the most original gang name ever, since every city has at least 3 under the same name, and the Huntington Beach Skins. They weren't as organized though as the Metzger gangs. To me they seemed like amateur hour. I mean for Christ's Sake, they didn't even have any stickers to hand out. How the hell can you run a racist group without stickers?
Then the "Battle of St. Simon Jude Fair" happened. In fairness to the WAR and AYM skins, the H.B. Skins were very minor league, especially for a White Pride/Power type outfit. After all, their leader was a Hispanic kid, and one of the number ones was a Jewish dude, who had a swastika tattoo, and was nicknamed "Cornball". With people like that running the gang it was obvious they would self implode before ever being a real threat to us.
Skinheads on the prowl, Photo: Ken Salerno
It wasn't even much of a fight, but being boring ass Orange County, where it took place, the local paper reported on it. My friends and I also now had an enemy, but not the one we really coveted, not the real Nazi Skins. It did mean however that we would get to spar with these fucks for a while. It meant we were now able to get some real combat training under our belt. After all, we knew the other skinhead gangs were practicing daily on the lone gay kid, or maybe even if they had a good day, hit the mother lode per se, the occasional single suburban black kid. At least we wouldn't be completely rusty if we ever came across the menace again.
I also started to hear from agents around the country that there were similar problems happening with bush league skinhead gangs. While I was traveling I ended up encountering one of them in Allentown, PA at a Gorilla Biscuits, Insted, No For An Answer, Beyond show. I also heard a tale of Pat Dubar of Uniform Choice fighting off all the Dallas Nazis armed with nothing more then a Gatorade bottle. The menace was indeed national, and infesting the hardcore community everywhere.
The hardcore community retaliated of course, in the BEST way it knew how too...by writing a series of anti-racism songs, and printing shirts that said things like "Fuck Racism". Wow, that will really show em'! I'm sure when the Germans were bombing London on a daily basis, Churchill thought, "My God, if only I can find a great mosh part for this song I'll have the bastards right where I want them." I knew better. I knew that the only thing the Nazis would ever understand was direct violent retaliation. After all, in a war, which this indeed was, you can't sing your way to victory.
D-Day came. It didn't happen on the Normandy Coast though. No, this D-Day occurred at the County Club in Reseda, CA. It was actually the last place I thought I'd ever see The King Of The Skins, and his cronies at. They seemed to be a primary San Bernardino or San Diego County based army. Reseda was Northern Los Angeles, and it was our turf...well, at least the clubs were. At first nobody really cared that they were even there. A couple of kids from another skinhead type group who called themselves S.H.A.R.P., (Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice) were making a huge fuss about the Nazi presence in the parking lot. They were almost more annoying to me then the Aryans. At least with the WAR/AYM people you knew where they stood, no matter how twisted and perverted their beliefs were. The S.H.A.R.P.'s only stood for a haircut. They were ludicrous human beings really. I remember the argument outside we had with the S.H.A.R.P. leader.
"We have to do something about it," he cried. "They can't be here, we need to team up and stand up to them!"
In my General Patton moment I retorted with "Fuck Off, maybe we should just team up with them and kick you and your communist nerd friends' asses instead."
The S.H.A.R.P. leader babbled on for a while about their tradition, and something about how the "Skinhead" look came from Jamaican Moonstompers in the late 60s...I eventually turned to him and said "Jesus Christ are you still talking to me about this?" Inside I knew though that the little moonstomper was right. Today was the day, and they would probably have to help us rid the punk world of the scum once and for all.
Once inside the club I approached my "friend" David and his gang. I figured I'd determine how many there were, and at the least get another sticker for my collection from them. At first he didn't even recognize me, since my hair was now grown out. He introduced me to his girlfriend, who called herself "Eva Braun" if you can believe it. She actually had a couple of cuter girls with her, which was about as shocking a thing you could find at a show in those days. Nazis at shows Sieg Heiling the bands all night was commonplace, but one cute girl? No fucking way. That just didn't happen.
Sarcastically I asked if they had any new stickers, and to my surprise, Eva Braun handed me one that had what I imagine was the Aryan idea of a dream girl, a full figured blonde holding an M16. It had a message as well stating something like "My man is a real racist..Is yours a wimp?" Some gibberish like that.
"Rad...thanks" I said.
I returned back to base, and reported on the numbers of the enemy. Twenty maybe? Weapons? None I could see. We talked for a while about the best strategy to attack them, and concluded we didn't really have one, and that it was weird to just attack somebody first without being attacked. "Fuck, we suck" I said, "We've waited for this day, and now that it's here...we don't even really care. Oh well."
Then out of the blue and from the Country Club stage came Big Boss, a rock of a man, who I'd watch fight everybody throughout the years, and never come close to losing. He was a legend, and one of our greatest allies in the scene. Behind Big Boss stood the Chorus of Disapproval guys, including our very own "Street" Regis Guerin. Big Boss was shouting at the Nazis, who in between my undercover mission and failed strategy summit had started sieg heiling. There wasn't even a band playing yet either. They were just Sieg Heiling the empty stage. Obviously they'd gone completely mad, and Big Boss was not going to have it. Not tonight. It was ON!
Frank and crew charged the Nazi skins from the front swinging at all of them wildly, and we immediately attacked their left flank from our position, and when we met in the middle it was a full on war. Guys picked up chairs and started bashing the Aryan Warriors with them. Big Boss was dropping 2 - 3 of them at a time, while the tougher dudes from our platoon like Scott Sundahl, Brett Page, and Greg Brown were head butting them and doing wild WWF type maneuvers off the tables into them. Together we pushed them into the streets of Reseda, and the battle continued out there.
Somewhere in the melee the S.H.A.R.P, skins joined up increasing our number to an overwhelming majority. The Nazis were falling in heaps left and right. They were getting brutalized. They were done. I watched David flee in terror, nose bloodied, into an alley. If he had a slingshot to hurl at us it never materialized. It would be the last I ever saw of him. Some of his followers held their ground a while longer, but eventually succumbed to the constant assault of fists and feet. As they all retreated, somebody from our side screamed, "You thought Hitler was cool? That's what you get."
It was over. We had won. The Nazis were never seen at a show I attended ever again. Eventually after a series of betrayals, the entire Metzger organization collapsed, ending with a crushing defeat inside a Portland, OR civil courtroom in a wrongful death suit. As for me? WelI I ended up going home after the show with one of Eva Braun's friends who had stayed behind. I guess I felt that a true warrior gets to take the losing armies one cute woman with him. I mean that's what Genghis Kahn would have done, right?
I remember back at this girl's house hung a full on Nazi flag, a collection of 45's from the English Nazi Rock band Skrewdriver, and on her bedside table an 8 X 10 of a smiling Tom Metzger, displayed proudly like one would a boyfriend. As I lay there in her bed staring at this creepy picture, trying not to think of the "father" issues she obviously had, and reflecting on the war which had just been waged, I said to myself, "one day I need to talk to this fucker, this Tom Metzger, and get some answers as to what happened here, during this time in our lives". In the year 2002 I would finally get that chance, and although no real answers came from our discussion, I did get a funny fake Christmas card out of it.
The Skinhead salute, Photo: Ken Salerno
Monday, January 12, 2009
The complete Boiling Point collection
It's been awhile since we've done one of these Fanzine Spotlights, so why not kick it off again with one of the best fanzines ever... Boiling Point. Done by Dennis Cheng, Tim Singer and Tom Rockafeller and generally based out of New Jersey, Boiling Point was THE hardcore fanzine of the late 80's.
From it's first issue with Bold, Side By Side, Gorilla Biscuits and American Standard, these guys blew the doors off the art of fanzine making. Layout and design that was second to none, excellent photography and all telling, indepth, well done interviews with the best bands of the day. There's no question that Boiling Point set the mark high and although many tried to replicate the formula (myself included with Common Sense), very few could ever come close.
Some how or another I ended up with a copy of the first issue early 1988. Right from the minute I saw the cover I knew I was in for something special. A clean reversed white on black Boiling Point logo across the top of the cover with a hand drawn classic looking straight edge guy, complete with the backwards hat and Champion hooded sweatshirt, a city skyline / brick background and clean, bold band logos. Then as you start paging through you find great features like the Boiling Point playlists, "Boiling Over" which was B.P.'s faves, "Quittin' Time" which were bands B.P. thought should hang it up and "Up And Coming", which were bands the B.P. crew thought you should check out... and you better believe I did. Then on to the interviews, starting with Bold, just a great interview, awesome photos, cool flyers, nice layout, which is pretty much the same story for each interview. By the time you're finished reading issue one, you really find yourself enthralled with the bands and that late 80's New York City Hardcore.
Me You Youth Crew, a spread out of the YOT interview in issue two
As if after reading issue one you didn't think the Boiling Point crew could out do themselves, they went ahead and did just that with issue two. Picked my copy up directly from Tom Rock at the Bold, Rutgers Scott Hall show. Ever so slightly streamlined, issue two picks you up and drowns you in what I believe might be their best issue ever. More great, powerful, bold, layouts, more flawless photography and some of the most memorable interviews you'll ever read with classic bands like Youth Of Today, Wide Awake and Half Off. If you happen to be as big a YOT fan as myself, this interview simply can't be missed. It goes down right after YOT bounced back from their break up and it's just one of the best you'll read. Total "Flame Still Burns" vibe in interview format. Here's a great quote from Ray: "For everyone that hates you, there's always more that love you, I think you try to do something good in a hardcore scene that's generally full of drugs, dorks and people that are into chaos and stuff like that. If you try to say something decent and humane you're gonna get cut down. I've already accepted it as my job to be criticized". So fuckin' good, the kind of stuff that really gets my blood pumping. And how can leave out this classic quote from Porcell: "Me and Ray saw DK's and beat fuckin' Jello Biafra up. I ripped a cigarette out of Klaus Flouride's mouth and stepped on it. We were obnoxious kids. Ray had a "straight edge in your face" banner on the back of his jacket". They Ray says, "On the back of my jacket I had a picture of this straight edge guy punching the cigarette out of the mouth of this guy with a mohawk. It said, "Violent Children: Straight Edge In Your Face". Wow, so good.
The back covers of Boiling Point, take notice to the cut and paste film strip layout
I could honestly go on and on about every single issue (with the exception of issue five which takes a bit of an over all dip). But I'll just mention a few highlights. Issue two and a half, with Choke of Slapshot and Dave Smalley of DYS / Dag Nasty, again great interviews and then once again, layout wise, even more strides from the earlier issues. To this day, my jaw still drops looking at that back cover with the slanted film strip and incredible photos promoting the interviews for the next issue. Then issue three, which many might argue to be the best issue ( I know this is Gordo's favorite), with the Chain Of Strength, Beyond, Sick Of It All, Raw Deal and Fugazi interviews. More mind blowing layouts, more sick photos, more impressive interviews, always stepping it up a notch. Issue four, although slightly lighter in content, has two heavy interviews with Judge and Inside Out. The Judge interview in particular has a typically great B.P. style layout. Although as I had mentioned, issue five, the last and final issue of Boiling Point, takes a stumble in overall quality, it's still well worth checking out. It's just that interviews with the Treepeople, Soundgarden and Hammerbox, I could do without. But I will say, the Amentiy interview is pretty good and there are some great photos included in there.
So there it is, Boiling Point, if you've never seen it, by all means, track it down. If you have some of these issues, you already know the deal. Hardcore fanzine greatness personified. -Tim DCXX
A heavy band, a heavy interview, a heavy layout
Sunday, January 11, 2009
Chris Jones of VA at CBGB's, Photo: Ken Salerno
Poll after poll I seem to always go with the unpopular vote. Granted, I love "Trial", great record, no question. Not a surprise to me at all that "Trial" dominated the votes. As much as I like "Trial" and agree that it's pretty much the classic Verbal Assault record, my vote went to "On". There's just something about "On" that really hits me. The songs are heavy, groove filled and definitely next level. But hey, I'm just one vote, well actually I guess 56 others agreed with me. Either way, both are great records and I'm looking forward to the Volume Two discography CD, which I assume will be released at some point this year. -Tim DCXX
Trial - 167
On - 57
Learn - 25
Tiny Giants - 18
The Masses - 7
Your Choice Live Series - 6
Exit - 5
Verbal Assault at CBGB's, Photo: Ken Salerno
Pete Chramiec with VA at CBGB's, Photo: Ken Salerno
Thursday, January 8, 2009
I've had this footage saved as a favorite of mine on YouTube and have planned to post it here on DCXX for quite awhile now. Tonight seemed like as good a time as any considering most of this weeks posts have been a bit text heavy.
Most of you are probably wondering, "Who the hell is Intensity?", well I'll try to fill you in. Intensity were from Princeton New Jersey, which is a town over from where I grew up. My friends and I all picked up their demo at a BOLD, Up Front show in Sayreville, New Jersey. At the time, which I believe was 1989, picking up a new demo by a band from Jersey that had a huge X on the cover seemed kinda cool. Jersey had bands like Turning Point, Release, Enuf and of course Vision, who at the time were pretty much making the most waves. To find a brand new band was exciting because you never knew if they were going to be the next big thing.
On the way home from that BOLD, Up Front show I remember us all listening to the Intensity demo. Then once we got home we listened to it again and again. Although lyrically it was pretty damn goofy (the lyrics to "Jersey Shore" are priceless), musically it wasn't that bad, total mosh fest type of stuff, like a straight edge version of Maximum Penalty or maybe even Breakdown. Soon after we ended up meeting the guys in the band, hanging out and getting to know them. Eventually I even had a hand in getting their 7" released on a new D.C. label done by Ken Olden, called Common Sense Records, which was an off shoot from the fanzine that myself and my friend Tony were doing at the time.
Intensity at City Gardens, check out their guitarist Jordan with the drum riser jump, right behind Chris their singer
Some how or another Intensity actually had a lot of hook ups. I know their drummer Kevin was friends with Drew from BOLD, so they would get show hook ups through them. They also got some sort of hook up with Judge and ended up playing with them quite a few times (Unisound, The Anthrax, City Gardens, etc.).
This particular video is from the Judge "Where It Went" video shoot show at City Gardens in Trenton, New Jersey. It was Sunday March 11th 1990. Intensity opened, followed by Outburst and then last but not least, Judge. I've talked about this show countless times and I'm not going to bore you all again with how great it was, but I will say, having Intensity open was a really fun way to start the show. For me and a lot of my friends, since we knew the band, it was cool having this "down with the band" that's playing vibe that was going on. Keep in mind, I was 16 at the time, so being "down with a band" that was playing City Gardens with Outburst and Judge seemed really cool. You can even see me (blue Nike hat) and some friends up front singing along. I'm pretty sure this was the same night Intensity threw lollipos out into the crowd when they played their song "Lollipop" of course.
That's pretty much it for now, I really intended to keep this a "text light" post, but evidently that is easier said than done. Have a good weekend, thanks for tuning into another week of DCXX and remember, "What a mess, what a mess, I don't want to get a needle stuck in my chest !". -Tim DCXX
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
Brian Peterson is the guy behind the forthcoming book on Nineties Hardcore, entitled Burning Fight. We wanted to catch up with him to get the scoop on this book and what we can expect. -Gordo DCXX
Tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into hardcore. Where and when was this? How would you compare yourself today to the kid that got into hardcore then?
Okay, well, I'm 32 years old. I'm originally from a small town called Minot, North Dakota, but then I moved to Illinois when I was in high school. Dylan, a childhood friend from Minot who was a skater and all around underground music fan, introduced me to hardcore in junior high, but at the time I was obsessed with hip-hop. I've always been attracted to music with a message and listening to Boogie Down Productions, Public Enemy, Eric B. and Rakim, Big Daddy Kane and others was a pretty eye-opening experience, especially for a kid from a small town in the middle of nowhere. Anyway, I understood the energy of hardcore, but I just wasn't ready for the screaming at first. [laughs] But after listening to a couple mix tapes, some of the bands made an impression on me—especially after I found out what they were screaming about! My family moved to Illinois when I was about 15 and by then I'd already gotten into Nirvana and then more contemporary hardcore or punk influenced bands like Fugazi. From there I got re-introduced to the classic hardcore bands that Dylan introduced me to like Black Flag, Bad Brains, The Misfits, Minor Threat, Youth of Today and so on. It's funny, though, as I didn't even realize there was a thriving hardcore scene happening at the time. I guess I had thought it was all from the past, probably because most rock journalists viewed hardcore or punk as "dead," even though that was really because they weren't truly paying attention to the underground. A friend in Illinois made me a mix tape with some contemporary hardcore bands and soon enough I found myself at shows and not too long after playing in some hardcore bands. My life would never be the same.
As for comparing myself at present to the kid who got into hardcore, I've matured a lot. I was a pretty shy kid, and I didn't feel confident in myself. But hardcore taught me to take my own ideas more seriously. Sure, there are negative sides to the hardcore scene, but I've always found it to be a pretty supportive and encouraging place. I'm now a high school English teacher and if someone would have told me when I was younger that I'd end up in this position now I would have thought they were crazy. [laughs] But that's another thing about hardcore: it taught me that giving back to others – whether it was friends from the scene or strangers on the outside – was important. I could also say being a part of hardcore was like going to college before and while going to a traditional college. I learned as much about life and about myself from my time in hardcore than I did from anything else.
Brian Peterson braves the snow
Where did the idea for the book come from, and specifically a book on the 1990's era of hardcore?
I didn't get directly involved in hardcore until the early-nineties, so that era had a huge impact on my life. As I mentioned earlier, I've always been attracted to music with a message and almost every hardcore band I was exposed to had some sort of message, whether it was political or personal. I also found a lot of the debates and discussions I'd overhear or participate in at shows to be really interesting. While some of the debates – everything from straightedge and animal rights to political and spiritual/philosophical issues – were sometimes taken to absurd levels, I found the ideas to be relevant and important.
Fast forward several years. American Hardcore came out and I thought that book was really amazing. It had such great source material from all those classic bands and it was an entertaining read. But something troubled me. The author insinuated that hardcore died around 1986 and that idea floored me. Sure, that first wave of hardcore moved on around that time, but what about the bands that came after? Nineties hardcore changed my life, as well as the lives of many of my friends. I guess I felt like it was somewhat ignorant to say that hardcore "died," considering that it is still thriving to this day. Along the way, I had written for some zines and magazines, but I grew tired of many places only wanting to run stories on bands with a "buzz"—essentially groups most other publications were covering already. Anyway, an idea occurred to me one day, "No one has documented nineties hardcore in the way the eighties era has been. Maybe I should give it a shot." I started contacting some people for interviews and I found their responses to be really positive and enthusiastic. Everything just snowballed from there.
How have you approached the subject matter? Where do you draw the line, what gets in and stays out? Especially considering the musical definition of "hardcore" is considered by many to have been stretched to its limits if not completely ignored in this decade, defining a "hardcore" band in the 90s seems like it would be difficult for the purpose of a book, no?
There are so many ways to approach hardcore. The nineties era is no different than any other era in that respect. I'm not trying to "define" what nineties hardcore was on the whole. I've always stated up front that this is just a story about some debates/ideas and some bands told from some people's perspectives. 100 other people would probably write the book 100 different ways. There is no definitive definition of hardcore as I believe that each person has to define it for him/herself. That said, I think one of the most interesting parts of nineties hardcore was the diversity in ideas and sound. Now obviously there are lines that have to be drawn in terms of what hardcore's sound isn't. For instance, I don't see an acoustic jam band fitting the hardcore mold. At the same time, I don't think that hardcore has to necessarily have break downs or traditional sing alongs, as great as those things are. I tried to cover a variety of bands that spoke to a variety of issues and played a variety of styles of hardcore – from the traditional to the experimental. Some will disagree with some of my selections, but I think once people see the book (or even look at the full title of it) it will make sense. I agree, though, that the nineties did stretch the sound of hardcore to its limits, and like I said earlier, to me that's one of the most interesting things about that era. I love traditional sounding hardcore, but I guess what I'm trying to say is that hardcore is just as much about community, ideas, and ethics as it as a specific sound.
Brian in Milwaukee, 2008
What have been the highs and lows of doing the book? If you knew what you were getting yourself into, would you have still started it? What have been some crowning moments or big breakthroughs?
The highs from the book? Being able to give some attention to these bands, people, zines, and debates that played such an important role in my life. I've felt like a lot of bands from this era have been overlooked for too long, so I hope that what I'm trying to do helps re-focus some attention in this era's direction. It was also really cool to hear so many people's perspective on the issues I'm trying to cover. Lots of really interesting conversations transpired. Lows? Well, I never thought it would take five years to assemble this book. I've spent a pretty outrageous amount of hours interviewing people (I talked to over 150 people over the course of the book) and in some ways I feel like I've had to put other aspects of my life on hold in order to finish it. I've learned more about sacrifice, time management, and multi-tasking then I probably ever wanted to know. [laughs]
Where are you right now in terms of the book, and what happens from here on out?
We're still wrapping up final edits and layout at this point. Revelation has been extremely supportive and helpful and I'm really excited about the way everything is turning out. Plus, a lot of people from the nineties have been generous enough to donate pictures, flyers, zine covers, etc. Rose Noble, the person doing the layout, is doing a really great job, and I'm stoked to see the finished version! We don't have a definite release date yet, but obviously the Chicago show on May 2nd and 3rd is the date we are shooting for. There is also a California show in the works. Stay tuned for an announcement about that soon at www.burningfightbook.com and www.myspace.com/90shardcore
Groundwork, Photo: Sean Capone
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
Billy and Bessie, early 1986, Photo: Ray Cappo
Half Off / Haywire frontman, New Beginning Records kingpin and Think Fanzine editor, Billy Rubin returns with another entry. This time around Billy fills us in on some recent discoveries as well as some old ones. Like many of his west coast counterparts, Billy delivers the stories. Expect more from Billy in the near future. -Tim DCXX
Some people have wondered where I’ve been for 20 years…I’ve only kept in touch with one person (Doc) from back in the day. Doc called me about a month ago and told me that Radio Silence had come out. My initial reaction was “Oh No”. Then about a week later I got an email from Bill “Nego” Case. At first I wasn’t even sure the email wasn’t spam. Bill turned me on to the Double Cross web site and then I got my own copy of Radio Silence.
I honestly wasn’t prepared for the wave of memories and emotions that came next. I knew half of those people in that book and was involved in a bunch of the music (back up vocals, shows, interviews, etc.). Seeing the page of Radio Silence with THINK fanzine in it was amazing. The address of my childhood home is in that book for the world to see. There is even a comment on that page of THINK/Radio Silence about a trip to the East Coast I was about to take.
When I was 16, back in 1985 I was publishing THINK fanzine. I would go to shows with a tape recorder and interview bands. I was just some kid (and still am albeit 39 years old). Dan O’Mahoney and I (probably Casey Jones too) drove way up the 605 fwy, past the quarries, to some shit hole cowboy bar in some town like Azuza to see a band we had heard rumors of…Youth of Today…I can’t remember the details, but they were either with 7 Seconds or someone from 7 Seconds was with them…I don’t know. I interviewed YOT in the 7 Seconds van. Bessie Oakley was there too. She was instrumental in so much of the early punk scene it’s a story in itself.
Youth of Today were really good, it was the first time I saw anyone mosh (not slam). They were nice guys. We totally clicked. We became pen pals, we started networking. I also became good friends with Bessie. A little while (weeks) after that show, Ray and Bessie came down to my parent’s house (THINK fanzine headquarters) in Huntington Beach. They were just kind of touring around having fun and wanted to pay a punk rock visit. We had fun and were becoming fast friends. In fact, I have a picture of Ray and I standing on the beach (Bolsa Chica for all you So Cal people) looking out at the waves.
Underdog in Albany, Photo: Billy Rubin
I started to get involved with the formation of a new record label (New Beginning) that was going to involve Ray, Bessie, Mike Trouchon and possibly Jordan. That label was going to put out Crippled Youth, Underdog, Negazione and who knows what else. I think they needed someone on the ground in LA that could deal with our contact (Kane) at the pressing plant and I was becoming that guy. As things started to come together Bessie got accepted to art school in NYC. She was going to drive out there for the summer before school started and get settled in.
Bessie wanted someone to share the drive to NYC with and she asked me to do the drive. I didn’t have any money, so I got a job at Kentucky Fried Chicken at the corner of Warner and Bolsa Chica in HB to save up for the trip. Part of the deal was that I had to get to Reno, NV first. We reached a compromise. Dan would drive me to San Francisco and we’d all meet at the Maximum RocknRoll house. Over the years Dan and I made many trips to the MRR house (someone should ask Dan to tell those stories because they are so fucking funny I’m laughing right now).
Bessie and I drove to NYC over the course of about a week and made various stops along the way . The Dag Nasty demo had just come out (with Sean Brown). We’d listen to it non stop. It was the first we had heard of something called “emo”. Later on, it was hard to get used to hearing the same songs with Dave Smalley’s voice. We stopped in Albany where I met Dave Stein (great guy). While in Albany I saw Underdog open for Dag Nasty at a VFW hall. Incredible show! Both bands rocked my world. I also met Mike Gitter who I became friends with. Later on that same trip, I spent some time at Mike Gitter’s place in Boston and also met John Anastas of DYS and Choke from Slapshot. I was on straight edge cloud nine. When we got to NYC we went to Ray Cappo’s apartment at 8th and 15th (or is it 15th and 8th?). Within minutes of our arrival, I was hanging out with Craig (who was about to join YOT), the Crippled Youth kids (who at the time were even younger than me, and I was really young), Ray Cappo and Richie (Underdog). I spent about a month in NYC hanging out with all these soon to be punk rock celebrities. We'd go to St. Marks pizza, the Pyramid club, venture over to Avenue A, etc…I was amazed, we’d be walking down the street and run into Harley Flanagen or Raybeez from Warzone. I also met a very young Todd Youth who became the guitar player in Warzone. Looking back on it, it was crazy. I was 17...all alone in NYC. My parents didn't want me to go, but I told them they couldn't stop me.
We had a lot of fun. Ray turned me on to some great music. The Cro-Mags (Age of Quarrel) had just come out, and he turned me on to the Abused. He also turned me on to possibly the single best hardcore song ever...”Something Must Be Done” by Antidote. I went to Raybeez's apartment. I was blown away. I was a rich kid from the suburbs and this guy was living in a dump of an apartment with the interior walls and ceiling painted blood red. He had pit bulls living in his apartment with him. I went to CBGB’s, Bleeker Bobs, Some Records, Ray’s Original, etc, etc, etc. We also drove up to see a few shows in CT. At one of the shows, I think it was a roller rink (maybe in Enfield) I saw the Melvins. We also saw the Adolescents in Rhode Island, the same show that is pictured in Radio Silence. After the show the battery in Bessie's car had died and Casey from the Adolescents gave us a jump start. I think he recognized me from DI shows at Fender's. There were so many highlights of this trip I really can’t remember all of them. I made friends with people like Gitter and Al Quint who I stayed in touch with for years after that. I came back to the West Coast feeling like hardcore was really up and coming!
Half Off at Fenders in Long Beach, with a young Issac from Chorus and Zack De La Rocha watching on