Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Monday, December 28, 2009
Joey hangs with the Straight Edge moshing duck, Photo courtesy of Joey Vela
Joey Vela delivers the final installment in his three-part interview. Enjoy this, and go check the previous entries if you missed out. Big thanks to Joey! -Gordo DCXX
What brought forth the demise of Breakaway?
We were all just going in different directions musically. We weren’t on the same page with anything. Jason had already started Dance Hall Crashers and was more into ska than hardcore at that point. Don was more into more melodic stuff and I was the only one who was still into doing straight hardcore. That last recording was with the last drummer we had, Eric Bird, and that guy rocked, I wish we did more with him, great guy.
The last Breakaway recording, which turned into the last 7”, was just recorded so I could have a recording of the songs. Don was away at college, so my friend Jeff Hill from Tyrranicide played bass on the recording. Jason wasn’t into it at all and it really showed in the original recording. I remember him saying stuff like, “do you want me to just play basic hardcore shit or what?” And after the initial tracks were recorded, he said, “uhhhg, we sound like straight edge Anthrax.” I wanted him to do some harmonics or something on one of the songs and he did under protest, but after he recorded the track, he said he wanted it taken out. When Jeff and I were in the sound booth, every time we played the song back to Jason, we would turn the track down and told him it was cut. But one time we forgot to turn it down and we got busted. We just started laughing. I think it was a couple days later, Jeff called me up and basically just said, look, the guitar tracks didn’t turn out the way you wanted or the way they should’ve, how about we go back in and I’ll re-record the guitar tracks. So Jeff ended up playing guitar and bass on that final recording.
Joey fronting Second Coming, Photo courtesy of Joey Vela
Breakaway recording history?
I think we recorded 2 demos and the 2 7” records. We also recorded 2 songs, along with Unit Pride, that are lost forever. Ray asked us to record for a possible comp, so we all went into the studio and recorded 2 songs each. All the songs were released on other recordings, but anyway, we had all 4 songs on the same reel. I sent them out after we recorded and the package never made it there. Victim of the postal service I guess.
Never heard anything of the reel again and we didn’t have any other copies of the songs, nothing on cassette or anything.
Unit Pride and Up Front pose for a group photo in the middle of nowhere, Photo courtesy of Joey Vela
You went on tour with Unit Pride in 1989, what are some of your stand out memories from that tour and what was your relationship with the members?
By the time that tour happened, Unit Pride was pretty much over with. When they got the call to do the tour, they had a band meeting to talk about doing it or not. I remember Eric saying that he didn’t want to do it, but if they wanted to, they could as long as Korri sang. No secret, they were one of my favorite bands, some of my best friends, and I had always wished Eric asked me to sing on the tour, but I was just as stoked to go along for the ride. Before the tour, I drove down to LA and picked up GG Aaron before flying out east. None of us had ever been back east before and were totally excited for the trip. We flew into New Jersey and all the excitement and all the hype we had was quickly shut down as soon as the doors opened up to the outside. I’m sure Jon and Jeff from Up Front can attest to this, but as soon as the doors opened up and we were smacked with that humidity, I don’t think we stopped complaining about the weather for the first 2-3 days we were there. Spoiled California kids.
Aside from the humidity, my first memory of that trip was started by the HUGE “X” that was tanned into Grant’s back. He was talking about how he wasn’t straight edge anymore and this and that, then that first day we were going swimming at Jeff’s house, Grant took off his shirt and exposed this huge X. We all gave him shit for it and he gave us the most ridiculous story of how the X got there. That kind of kicked off our trip.
We got to go to a show at the Anthrax, and we hit up a Gorilla Biscuits/Turning Point show at CBGB’s before leaving on tour. I think we had 2 or 3 cassette tapes for the entire trip...Dag Nasty Wig Out At Denkos, an advance of the GB record, an advance of the BOLD ep and maybe a Descendents, All tape. One of the best things about the tour was 11 guys all in the same van singing along to the same songs over and over. The whole tour was documented by this little hand held recorder that Aaron brought. I only wish I had a copy of those tour tapes, there was some comedy gold on those things. As far as I know, those tapes are gone forever.
Joey with his hands up on the Unit Pride tour, Photo courtesy of Joey Vela
Another memory from tour was the show in Kalamazoo. We stayed at this kid’s house down in the basement. I think they called him Yogurt and he looked like one of those troll dolls, but with a shaved head. Worst sleep ever, the carpet felt wet and in the middle of the night, one of his shitty friends came down with one of those blow horn cans and thought it would be funny to wake everyone up. Shithead. There was a flyer down in the basement for a local band that was called F.A.Q., we asked what it stood for and this kid said in the most ridiculous, Suburbia punk rock voice, “Faaawwkk Yoouuuu.” Even better was that he was dead serious with the way he said it, so punk rock.
Then there was the breakdown. I don’t remember where we were, but the van had broken down and we were towed out to the middle of nowhere. Seriously, we were on the road to no where and GG Aaron and I kept on talking about how it seemed like we were being driven out into the country to get murdered. Definitely had the Deliverance sound track running through my mind. We were brought to this house to hang out while the van was being fixed and a rental was getting handled. The people were extremely nice, they fed us and they had us completely cover their car in bad graffiti. Good times out in the sticks. Once we got a rental, we drove on.
Brandt, GG Aaron and I had to leave the tour with I think only the Anthrax show left. We had to take a hellish bus ride from Buffalo to New Jersey to catch our flight on time. As we were getting off the bus, there were a couple hustlers waiting for suckers to get off the bus and Brandt got right in line. Aaron and I got off first and they asked if they could help with our bags. Yeah, hell no, but thanks anyway. So then Brandt gets off the bus and with a big smile on his face, hands over his bag and guitar case. Uhhhhggg!!! Are you kidding me? So the guy starts to walk away with Brandt’s guitar and says that he would only give it back if we payed him. I think it was about 20 minutes of talk and about $12 later, Brandt had his guitar back. That tour wasn’t so much about the shows played as much as it was about the travels with awesome people.
More Unit Pride / Up Front hang out sessions in the middle of nowhere, Photo courtesy of Joey Vela
After that Unit Pride ’89 summer tour, their was talk of a new band called Double Cross that consisted of ex-members of Unit Pride, plus you and Korri Sabatini sharing vocal duties. Was this purely a rumored band or was their any substantial talk / action going on with this project? If so what can you tell us about it.
We did start a band called Double Cross, but no one from Unit Pride was in it. It was to be me and Korri on vocals, Shawn Lopez (Inner Strength, Far) on drums, Blair (Downtime, Knapsack) on guitar, and Tony Valladares (108) on bass. I think we had 1 song and that was it. We were all spread out across northern California, so we met up at Shawn’s house to practice. The couple times we actually tried to practice most of the time was spent with Shawn and Blair arguing over something stupid and making fun of each other, then all of us going outside to play basketball. It just fizzed out before it got started, it was too much work to get everyone together to just sit around and make fun of each other.
Of all the people from the Califnornia SE scene of the late 80s, you are one of the few still involved in hardcore, and you are still straight edge. What are your thoughts on straight edge today?
Although I am still straight edge, I don’t identify with it anymore or relate to it. I think that straight edge is a great thing and has helped a lot of kids, and will always have a value in the scene, but the 90’s kind of ruined it for me. The 10 on 1 beat downs on some kid because he was drinking or smoking or dancing different. It was just stupid. Just a horrible mentality. Not saying that all straight edge kids were like that, because obviously that was just a small percentage, but it was a real bummer dealing with that shit. It’s not what I was about and nothing I wanted to be a part of. Kind of funny that many that were involved with that shit have since gone extremely the other way.
I don’t care if anyone smokes, drinks, or whatever. And don’t get me wrong, I’m sure there are plenty of people that think I was an asshole too back in the day, but not from violence. When we were younger, I’m sure our crew of friends were perceived as having the elitist attitude, but we weren’t exclusive to straight edge kids, our crew of friends had a mix of everybody. Just part of being young I guess.
I also remember going to parties and all of the sudden, you would hear something like, “don’t let anyone else with an X on their shirt into the party.” Not because we were fighting people, but because we would do shit we thought was funny, like pour liquid laxatives in people’s drinks and lock all the bathroom doors. That kind of stuff. But then again, we used to do that kind of stuff before we were straight edge and it wasn’t because they were drinking, we did it to the jocks in high school, and to people we thought were assholes. Sorry to say, watching someone scramble around, struggling not to shit their pants in a crowded room is funny to me. It works great at corporate functions as well. Maturity is over rated.
Joey with Second Coming, Photo courtesy of Joey Vela
Where did you see the scene going by the early 90’s and at what point did you start the band Second Coming?
The early 90’s were brutal. There was nothing going on at all, not much of a scene happening, at least in the bay area. I think it was sometime in ‘91 when the initial stages of Second Coming started. The very first time we started jamming, it was Jeff Hill from Tyrranicide on guitar, Tim Narducci, who played guitar in Tyrranicide on drums, and me “playing” bass. OK, I could barely play guitar and I played bass on a bass that only had 2 strings, but at least we were working on some songs. After trying quite a few different line-ups, we finally got it together with a solid line up and thankfully I was not playing any instruments.
One of my best friends, Don Rossington, who was also in Breakaway, played in Second Coming for most of the time we were a band, and was actually in the band 3 different times. He was one of the first bass players, then he went away to school. Then he came back and played bass again, then came back on guitar. Then we met the Powerhouse guys and things started to take off again in the mid 90’s. Powerhouse was extremely instrumental in getting the bay area hardcore scene to thrive through the 90’s. Some of my favorite shows ever were with Powerhouse. Some of the best dudes ever. R.I.P. Ernie Cortez, never forget. I miss that guy.
What are you up to today with your personal life and what part does hardcore play in it if any?
I’m married now and have 2 great kids. I still go out and see shows from time to time and still check out new music all the time. Definitely not as involved as I used to be, but still enjoy it. Most of my time these days is spent with family, skateboarding or doing art.
Hardcore has been a major part of my life for the past 26-27 years. Its totally cliché, but its made me who I am today and is something I really value, something I take very personal. Over the years, you see people come and go, you see who is really in. It's way more than the music, more than the fashion, it’s something that is either in you or it isn’t.
Anything you’d change or do differently if you could? How would you like to be remembered by the hardcore scene?
Yeah, I wouldn’t have played “one more song” at one of the first Second Coming shows. We were asked to play one more and half way through the song, I jumped up and when I landed, I dislocated my knee and shredded my ACL. I finished the song laying on the stage in brutal pain. I haven’t had an ACL in my right knee since 1992 and have re-injured it countless times since then. I’m sure skating big pools and ramps doesn’t help, but what can you do? Aside from that, I wish I toured more.
I'm not going to pretend I have been a big enough player to be remembered. Especially considering you see stuff on message boards and the kids talk about “old school” shows from way back in the day and they are referring to shows that happened in 2005, I can assume most of those kids don’t have much appreciation for the history of the local scenes anyway. I remember going to shows when I was a kid and we would see the creepy old guy at the back of the club. Looking back, the creepy old guy was probably in his late 20s. I passed that status long ago but I’m far from writing my hardcore obituary.
Second Coming at Gilman Street, Photo courtesy of Joey Vela
Sunday, December 27, 2009
Every once in awhile we like to remind you who our favorite band is because quite frankly, we just don't post about them enough. With that being said, here's a video I'd never seen before and if you have… well it's not gunna hurt you to check it out again. -Tim DCXX
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Jay Laughlin with Turning Point in DC, Photo: New Age Archives
Long overdue, Jay Laughlin returns to bring us a massive new installment on the history of New Jersey's TURNING POINT! -Gordo DCXX
With the later TP material, it was just the result of the stuff I was listening to at the time. I was really obsessed with trying to become a better guitar player and was wanting to incorporate what I was hearing in bands like Slayer and Death Angel, but still keep it more of a hardcore sound which I was definitely still listening to at the same time. I loved the idea of using acoustic intros and super heavy sounding guitars that were tighter than what was happening in most of the straight edge hardcore stuff. So I wanted to try and get that sound happening. After the LP I just kinda went in that direction. If there is one regret about the LP it would have to be the slap bass that crept into one or two of the songs. Both Nick and I were getting into the early Chili Peppers albums at the time, but when I hear those few moments now it just doesn’t seem to fit. It's not like Nick had to crowbar those little bits in, we all thought it was cool. The funniest thing was a recent ad I saw for a new hardcore band that said “sounds like Turning point without the slap bass!” Pretty funny.
So after the LP we went for a tighter/heavier sound. The whole band was just a lot better at our instruments so we could pull off more challenging stuff. Ken was always a real amazing drummer, but Nick and myself had progressed a lot from the time we started playing together. Skip’s voice had developed and he grew as a singer and a front man. He was just really good at what he did. Sometimes I couldn’t believe that such a huge voice could come out of such a little guy. His voice is great on the later materiel and he also started to write some really good lyrics. I never knew what he was singing until we got into the studio and I could really hear his voice. He was pretty private about his words.
Skip with Turning Point in DC, Photo: New Age Archives
He was a pretty deep guy and really wrote about some real shit happening in his life on the later stuff and I think that’s what made it work so well. He never really handed us a sheet of his lyrics to check out. His main job in the band was to write the words and fit them into the music and he was great at that. He had that serious side to him, but don’t get me wrong, he was a blast to hang out with. He had an amazing sense of humor and was so much fun to be around. The four of us were usually playing music in between laughing at a fart joke, eating calzones, or hanging with our other like-minded friends.
As far as where we fit in with the HC scene and what bands we were cool with at that time, it was pretty limited. We played with Chain Of Strength so we had a little connection with them. We played GB’s record release show at CB’s so they were cool to us, but they were on a different level than us at the time. We were from bumfuck NJ so we didn’t have much connection with the NYC hardcore scene. We didn’t really have any type of scene where we were. It was just the band and a handful of friends. We had to go to Philly to partake in any kind of “scene." As far as a Jersey scene went, I dug Vision, but we never really knew those guys. The one band we were really friends with was Release. We played with them a ton. They were our boys for sure! They were some really crazy cats and a blast to hang out with. I really like Enuf too, but never played or hung out with them. Their demo was amazing. I wore that cassette out for sure.
I really don’t remember when we decided to call it a day. We didn’t have a band meeting or anything. I think we all just felt it wasn’t going to get any bigger and didn’t want to end it on a sour note. I think we would have loved to get to the place of other hardcore band like GB or Judge but that just wasn’t happening. I was ready to do something different. Hardcore had become a bit of a drag. So we booked the final show in Philly. I remember it being really fun. All our friends were there goofing off and going off and it was a great way to end it. The thing I remember most was a girl I had recently broken up with me was at the show and we ended up getting back together after the show so that was a plus!
I always knew I was going to keep playing music after TP decided to split up, but I just wasn’t sure what is was gonna be. The one thing I did know is that I was still going to do something with Skip for sure.
Ken Flavell with Turning Point at the Safari Club, DC, Photo: New Age Archives
I had started doing Shadow Season with Ken right around the time TP was winding down. Ken wanted to start a band so he could sing. I wanted to play drums so we asked Ken’s brother Chris and an old bandmate of Ken’s old punk band Failsafe to join up and started to write some tunes. The crazy thing about Shadow Season was Ken’s vocals. I don’t think anybody knew he could actually “sing!" Here was this great friend of mine that I had never heard even try to sing and we started jamming and this really awesome voice was coming out. I was only in the band long enough to record the seven inch and play a couple of shows. They kept the band together, but changed the style quite a bit from what we did on the seven inch. They did some pretty cool stuff for sure.
I was still wanting to play guitar in a new band and it was around this time that I had run into Sean, the drummer of an old punk band called Misunderstood. My old band Pointless had actually played a few shows with Misunderstood years before, and Misunderstood actually headlined TP’s first live show. So anyways, I bumped into Sean in the parking lot of the Cherry Hill Mall. I said we should start something up and he was game. So it was a no brainer to have Skip sing, and Nick was actually the first bass player for what became Godspeed. Sean and Skip were starting to listen to all kinds of new stuff. Sean was way into the DC stuff and turned me on to SoulSide and a bunch of really cool noisier stuff. Between the two of them I finally broke out of my Metal all-day listening habits. It took a while, but something finally clicked and a whole new world of guitar playing opened up to me.
Nick Grief with a Turning Point sing along in DC, Photo: New Age Archives
Both Shadow Season and Godspeed were a flash. Both bands only played a handful of times. When both of those bands were over I had just bought my first 4-track recorder. It was at this time that the TP reunion gig had come about. If it were up to me that show wouldn’t have happened, but Skip pulled me aside and told me he really wanted to do it and the other guys were cool to do it so I agreed to play it. We got together five or so time to practice and I had to re-learn how to play that style of guitar again. It was like starting over for me. I had lost all my hardcore/metal “chops”! So now it’s a few weeks before the show and we start getting all these people telling us about how “this straight edge crew from VA” or “these crazy guys from Cali” are coming to the show to beat us up and stab us because we weren’t straight edge anymore and other people said we were getting paid some insane amount of cash to play and we were assholes for that. It was really crazy and exactly the reason I didn’t want to play the show in the first place. My girlfriend (now wife) wanted to go to the show, but I told her to stay home.
The show went off with \out any stabbings (!), and nobody was even hurt. As far as the money went, I think we got paid $1200 and the guy paid us right in the open in front of a ton of kids, which was awkward. That breaks down to $300 each. We had finally hit it big man! So the morning after the show I got up to have breakfast with my wife and another couple of friends at our apartment. We got some bagels to make some egg sandwiches. I’m chilling on the couch when my girl decides to use the biggest knife in our place to slice the bagels and that’s when I hear it…a blood curdling scream comes from the kitchen. I run in to find she had sliced one of her fingers to the bone. Blood everywhere. I wrap her finger in a paper towel and head to the emergency room with all my TP reunion booty in hand. Turns out she cut right through the tendons in her finger and had to have emergency hand surgery. I filled out some hospital paperwork and handed over the 300 bucks that I had made less than 12 hours after the show. So that’s where that money went.
Jay with a gnarly blurred jump, Photo: New Age Archives
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Hopefully I'm not jumping the gun with a BL'AST! entry when we'll most likely be doing another one next week, but honestly I just couldn't resist. Mark Anthony posted these videos on the Livewire board a few days ago and I couldn't help but share them with all those that missed that original post. Either way, lay into these incredible videos that capture the power of BL'AST! and expect more BL'AST! sooner than later. BL'AST! It Back… -Tim DCXX
Monday, December 21, 2009
In perhaps our closest poll results yet, Side By Side squeaked by Alone In A Crowd, taking just over half the vote.
Each band fronted by a young Jules Masse had detractors and critics as well as ample fans. Side By Side blazed through 1987 with a little over a dozen live shows on great bills at The Anthrax and CB's as well as other tri-state area venues. The 7" is a total ripper...just a fast, raw, spontaneous sounding recording the feels live and totally first-take. Jules is pissed as hell but with a classic nasally voice that has an early hardcore punk feel complete with some variety of a NY accent. Eric and Alex trade chords, complete with whammy bar divebombs, and a 14 year old kid by the name of Sammy Siegler goes crazy on the skins while locking up with Billy Bitter on bass. I'm sure many would consider this a classic style late 80's hardcore record, and I couldn't disagree on any level. Simply great.
1988 rolled around, and Side By Side had broken up, leaving a Revelation Records release in the history books. I've never been clear on exactly what Jules got up to during this down time, but by the fall of 1988 he had put together Alone In A Crowd and stormed the stage at The Anthrax pissed as hell, backed up by Lars (last SBS line-up) on guitar, Howie (BOLD roadie) on guitar, Carl Raw Deal on bass and Rob Uppercut on drums. Talk about a NYHC line-up. That single AIAC show and the four song EP was all that ever existed of the band, and I think that has added to their allure over the years in the sense that it was just a one and done thing. Aside from the reissue a few years back, the Flux Records release had become long out of print and somewhat rare, taking a little digging and at least a crisp twenty dollar bill to obtain.
Anyways - my vote went to Alone In A Crowd, and I know Tim's did as well (and I think for similar reasons).
I love Side By Side, but that Alone In A Crowd live set is just so awesome. What Jules has to say on stage just makes you want to stage dive before the song even starts. On top of that, the band is pretty damn tight. I never understood people saying they were "cheesy" or the bell in When Tigers Fight was "cheesy." There's this recent revisionist history of sorts where I'm noticing old punk and hardcore being considered "so funny LOL!" Like, "mosh part ahaha, straight edge lol, old school hahahah! LOL!" ??? This is confusing to me...and it's not due to any lacking sense of humor on my part.
I don't know...when I first was becoming exposed and the message conveyed by punk and hardcore bands was serious, I kinda took it as that. And Alone In A Crowd - serious stuff.
Either one is a winner in my book...but when that bass line to When Tigers Fight starts, I'm not sitting still. -Gordo DCXX
Side By Side - 204
Alone In A Crowd - 182
Sunday, December 20, 2009
While we are always checking out new music here at Double Cross, we haven't tried to make this site a major news source for new releases or current bands. More than anything, the amount of classic content we have from bands past has kept us busy enough as it is. However, as we surpass our 500th post and head into 2010, we plan to start adding in some more coverage of what's happening today as well.
Skull Crusher | Photo: Lenny Zimkus
So on that note, I figured now would be a good time to mention a brand new band called SKULL CRUSHER, featuring DCXX's own Gordo on drums, and DCXX silent partner/Livewire Records head honcho Ed McKirdy on the mic. Heavy stuff that surely cuts across the genres, and fits in with the readership here. They spent some time envisioning this thing and knocking it out in the studio, and the finished product is impressive to say the least.
Click HERE for more info and songs from their soon-to-be released 12" EP on Livewire/Reflections.
"Blinded By Illusion" 12" EP | Illustration: Linas Garsys
Looks like 2010 is off to a good start, nice work boys!
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Fu Manchu with Tony Cadena of The Adolescents, Photo courtesy of Scott
Scott Hill delivers the backstory on Virulence and Fu Manchu, with much more to come! -Gordo DCXX
Tell us about Virulence, where you guys fit into the California punk/HC landscape, the band's recordings and memorable shows, and the upcoming discography on Southern Lord.
In 1982 I started buying and collecting every punk / hardcore record that I could get my hands on. I tried to go to as many shows that I could get into as well. Being underage at the time it was tough, but if you had money to pay at the door, you usually got in. After all that I wanted to start a band. I believe it was January 1985 that we actually got Virulence together. I wanted to start a band earlier but I could never find friends that were serious enough to get it happening. I borrowed a Les Paul copy guitar from a friend, bought a Peavey Bandit combo amp and I was ready to roll.
My friend that I would hang out with, surf, skate, and go to shows with would be the singer. We knew some friends that played bass and drums and I remember having a very chaotic, disorganized, noisy practice in my parents' garage. It sounded great to me. I really didn't know how to play guitar that well but it didn't matter. Our friends that we had play bass and drums didn't really want to start a band so we were on the hunt for new members.
We got other friends who we surfed with to play bass and drums. After the drummer couldn't play fast enough for us we were searching yet again. We then got Ruben on drums and we were set. There were some cool local bands. A.T.G., Hangover, and Bored To Death were a few of the local bands. We played parties and a few out of town shows. Then we met the guys in Insted at a show we played. We played "Young Til I Die" by 7 Seconds and Kevin Insted said it sounded great. So we got to know them and played a few parties / shows together, then met the guys in Half Off and we got to be good friends with those guys. We were just happy to play live wherever and whenever we could.
Fu Manchu drummer Scott Reeder at a backyard party, Photo: J. Johnson
I don't know where we fit in at the time. We were not straight edge but we were friends with a lot of those bands. We started out as a mid tempo / fast punk band, then wanted to get as fast as we could. It was seeing BL'AST! at that show of theirs in November 1985 that got me re-thinking about about being as fast as possible. Their set made a HUGE impact on me.
We had recorded a 5 song demo in the summer of 1985. Then in 1986 we recorded another demo that was supposed to be released as a 7". By the time the record label was ready to get things started with the 7", we had a lot of new songs and didn't want to release the 7'. We went back into the studio in 1987 and recorded another demo to send to labels. Alchemy Records was interested in putting out a full length for us and we recorded 8 songs up in San Francisco. The record didn't come out until 1989. By that time we had a whole new set of songs and weren't really happy with the way the record sounded.
Some memorable shows were:
We opened for BL'AST! / Agent Orange / Mentors in 1986 in Santa Barbara. The singer from Stalag 13 came up to us after our set and said he dug it. We were stoked about that because we really liked Stalag 13. It was the first show that BL'AST! played where they had Kip from Neon Christ playing 2nd guitar. They were awesome that night!
First live show ever. Played with our good friends A.T.G in 1985.
This was was a very LOUD show in 1988.
This was fun because I think we bummed out a lot of the straight edge kids. They kept yelling at us to play faster so we played our very slow, very long 11 minute song at the end.
Another fun one was playing in Vadim's (Half Off drummer) garage with Half Off, Youth Of Today and I think Uniform Choice played as well. Still have the video of the entire sets by all the bands from that one. I think that was 1986 or 1987?
Southern Lord Records is releasing a cd with our full length record, demos from 1985 and 1986, live songs from 1987, and lives songs from the last show we played together in 1989. I believe it will be released 1-19-2010. It was cool putting the Virulence release thing together because you can hear the later tweaked Virulence stuff in newer Fu Manchu songs. A lot of Black Flag / BL'AST! riffing. The early Virulence demos sound the best to me.
How did Virulence fit in with the straight edge scene going on in California at the time and that wave of later 80's hardcore?
We were friends with a lot of the straight edge / positive bands from Orange County. I really liked that first Uniform Choice record. It still sounds heavy. They were always good live. I liked Half Off (even jammed with them as 2nd guitar once and I think we played a DYS song), we were friends with Insted, and I still think that NFAA 7" sounds good. I think we might have bummed some of them out because we weren't straight edge. It didn't bother us because we liked playing shows with them and the people in the bands were usually cool. None of us were ever straight edge. We didn't really care if you were or weren't.
I am a huge fan of the early 80's hardcore sound!!! Once 1987 rolled around we started getting into stuff like the Melvins, Swans, Gore, and a lot of late period Black Flag. We just wanted to slow it down, make it heavy without it being metal. Our later period stuff is very tweaked!!! I didn't really follow the newer punk / hardcore stuff that was happening in the very late 80s. I do still listen to my all my hardcore / punk stuff now though.
How did Virulence end and Fu Manchu begin and what was your idea for Fu Manchu? Fu Manchu has all sorts of fans, what do you think it is that appeals to such a cross section? Did you think you'd be doing it 20 years later?
I wanted to add another guitar player in 1989. I asked our singer if he wanted to play guitar as well, and there was no way he could learn to play. Plus, I think at the end of Virulence the songs were getting so complicated, and had a lot of weird off time breaks and a lot of riffs going on, and we needed to go back to a basic song structure. As soon as we ended Virulence, our singer went to college and the rest of us started Fu Manchu.
I think we do appeal to a lot of different people because we do have the raw, fuzzy rock thing happening and we get the Sabbath, Blue Cheer thing, but then we will record cover songs by VOID, JFA, Adolescents, Black Flag and get the punk people going "what the fuck?" It's cool because a lot of my favorite singers have gotten up on stage and sang their songs with us.
Here is Springa (SSD) and Fu Manchu doing "Nothing Done" on 10-31-09 - he is dressed as The Joker. His voice was so heavy and great, it was awesome.
We have gotten Tony from the Adolescents to sing "Things Start Moving" with us, we got Keith Morris from the Circle Jerks to sing on a song. Those are some of the coolest things to have happened!
I would never have guessed that I would still be playing in a band, touring, releasing records. 2010 will be 20 years of Fu Manchu being around. It's crazy.
We are planning on some big European / USA stuff for next year, and a Fu Manchu 1990-2010 DVD. It's pure luck or pure stupidity that we are still around...I'm guessing stupidity!!!
Scott Hill in a neon haze of light, Photo: Ricardo Carles
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Chain "Has The Edge Gone Dull?" athletic gray shirt, two color front with X
Another dip into the collection and this time I pull out one of my personal favorites, the rarely seen, athletic gray, Chain Of Strength "Has The Edge Gone Dull?" shirt.
Back in the mid 90's, I started going back and forth with a kid who was heavy on the trail of filling out his New Age Records shirt collection. The dude was big time into all the New Age band shirts, Unbroken, Mean Season, Strife, Mouthpiece, Outspoken, etc. and since I was in Mouthpiece and on New Age, I had plenty of that kinda stuff laying around.
The trading started with me sending off an Unbroken tour shirt and an early Mean Season shirt, in return he sent me one of those classic navy blue Revelation BOLD shirts with the gold ink front and Matt finger point photo back and a white Schism Judge "New York Crew" shirt.
The standard white Chain "Has The Edge Gone Dull?" shirt
Eventually we worked out another trade that brought me this Chain Of Strength shirt. Most of the time when you see this design, it's on a white shirt with the royal blue ink Chain Of Strength front minus the X and the royal blue or navy blue ink "Has The Edge Gone Dull?" back photo. This one here though is an earlier and limited version of that design with the classic Chain X Of Strength green and black ink front, navy blue ink "Has The Edge Gone Dull?" back and on an athletic gray shirt.
Ultimately this is one of my favorites, if not my favorite Chain shirt. For me, this is right up there with the original navy blue Chain puff ink "True Till Death", which we'll get into for another entry. We'll pick up where you left off… -Tim DCXX
Chain "Has The Edge Gone Dull?" athletic gray shirt, back design
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
On Friday January 8th, 2010, punk legend Eerie Von (Danzig, Samhain) will make a special in-store appearance at Generation Records in support of his new photography book Misery Obscura: The Photography of Eerie Von (1981-2009).
Misery Obscura gives fans unique insight into the punk and metal scene of the 1980’s and early 90’s from the perspective one of its greatest stars, chronicling the rise of The Misfits, Rosemary’s Baby, Danzig, and Samhain through the worldwide success of the punk and metal scene as they tour with acts like Metallica and White Zombie.
Eerie Von will play a rare acoustic performance with Lyle Preslar (Minor Threat) and Mike D’Antonio (Killswitch Engage) during the in-store appearance at the store, and sign copies of Misery Obscura along with designer Tom Bejgrowicz.
The one-night-only event starts at 7:00 p.m.
We are pre-selling the book at GenerationRecords.com and that is the only way to guarantee entry into the event.
See the link below for more details...
Monday, December 14, 2009
Breakaway at Gilman Street with Tim Monroe of Unit Pride on guitar, Photo courtesy of Joey
More NorCal love from Joey Vela - dig in! -Gordo DCXX
When Breakaway is coming together, give us the vibe / climate of the scene at that point. How had things changed from the Rabid Lassie days to the Breakaway era?
The straight edge scene was growing huge back then. I’d say there was definitely a huge influence of both straight edge and New York hardcore. With that, I guess there was also quite a bit of segregation in the scene, where as before, in the early-mid 80s, you would see a pretty diverse crowd at any given show.
Funny story, in the late 80s, Brotherhood had come through and had the Fuck Racism shirts. Lawrence Livermore and a few other MRR people that had a bit of a distaste with the straight edge kids thought it would be funny to make shirts mocking the Brotherhood shirts and they looked similar, but said, Fuck Straight Edge. It was at a 7 Seconds show at Gilman when they brought those shirts out to sell, thinking that they would bum out all the sxe kids. We thought they were the greatest things ever. All the SXE kids bought them and put them on right away. I’m sure that wasn’t exactly the reaction they were hoping for.
Joey with the Gilman Street crowd, Photo courtesy of Joey
Tell us about the impact Youth Of Today had on the Bay Area? Their Gilman Street sets have been talked about as legendary, your opinion? What about other east coast straight edge bands of the time, any stand outs?
Like I said, the straight edge scene was blowing up in the bay area. Youth of Today had played the bay area long before Break Down The Walls came out, but that was the record that just blew people away. Their first show in the bay area was before Can’t Close My Eyes came out. We hadn’t even heard of them before, we went to the show to see Violent Coercion’s last show at New Method. When we got there, there was talk of some band Kevin Seconds was touring with, and he was playing drums. Honestly, we didn’t care, we were just there to see Violent Coercion's last show.
So this band Youth Of Today takes the stage. I don’t think anyone there knew anything about them other than Kevin Seconds was playing drums. Love them or hate them - and I know people have their opinions, but there was something about them that just commanded your attention. They just went off, so much power. Ray is very charismatic and I think one of the greatest frontmen in hardcore. Ray had everyone there singing along to almost every song they played, and we had never even heard of them before.
After that, I think I went to Rough Trade asking if the 7” came in yet pretty much every weekend until it was in. By the time they came back to town, people were way into them. Their stage presence was just as energetic as their music, it was very powerful. The Gilman shows are among some of the greatest shows I’ve ever been to and we were lucky enough to play with them there. As far as other east coast straight edge bands having an impact, or standing out...there were so many great bands from that time that it is hard to single any out. But I will say that I think Walter Schreifels is a brilliant musician and there is no denying his influence on the hardcore scene and its growth over the years.
How did Breakaway hook up with Soul Force Records for the release of the 7”?
I don’t really remember. I think I talked to Eric Astor who was putting out Unit Pride, and he gave me Jeff’s number and said that he was starting a label and said he might be interested. Not too sure though.
Joey and Eric Ozenne of Unit Pride up front for a Breakaway sing along, Photo courtesy of Joey
The 7” had a song titled ”Competition," was there band competition going on at that time and if so, give us some background to it.
There have been rumors over the years about some kind of rivalry between us and Unit Pride. If anything, I think Eric and Grant from Unit Pride didn’t really care for Jason at some point, and he probably felt the same about them, but never any band rivalry or anything, that was just between them personally. Unit Pride was one of my favorite bands back then and we were all close friends. We all hung out all the time. Pete and Tim also played in Breakaway for a while too.
Favorite local bands of the time and why?
Again, going back to Tyrranicide and Unit Pride, and Operation Ivy were fun to play with too. Unit Pride were close friends and I loved their music, so that’s a given. Tyrranicide was a local thrash band. Solid guys, great musicians, amazing band. Jeff Hill kicks ass. Cool guy to hang out with, definitely a pioneer in the D.I.Y. ethic in our area. He started his own label, put on shows, booked tours. He really opened my eyes to a lot, I have a lot of respect for that guy.
Brian Wentrup and Joey Vela hanging out for the Unit Pride 7" recording in San Francisco, 1988, Photo courtesy of Joey
How important was and still is Gilman Street to the Bay Area scene? What are some of your best memories from Gilman Street shows?
No doubt that Gilman is extremely important to the Bay Area scene. When other clubs were shutting their doors to punk rock and hardcore shows, Gilman has been there for over 20 years. That’s amazing when you think about it. Like a lot of people, I’ve had a love/hate relationship with that club over the years. Since it’s a volunteer run club, you get a mix of people running it, and that mix hasn’t always been good. There have been times where I hated that place and looked at it as nothing more than a place to play.
But overall, politics aside, it's one hell of a place and I think the people that run it have a lot of heart and truly believe in what the club was initially started as. I remember going there before it opened when they were setting it up, building the stage and all of that. It’s crazy to think that it’s still going strong after all these years. When they first opened, they didn’t advertise who was playing the shows, they wouldn’t even tell you who you were playing with when you got booked to play. The thinking was, that if you were truly down for the scene, you would go regardless of who was playing. Not exactly the best business plan, but I can understand the thinking.
We played the second night, the second show ever there and were stoked when we got there. I think the first thing we saw when we came in was an Orange half stack. The only band we had ever seen with an Orange half stack was Justice League, and they were booked on the show too. We were stoked because we were really into them, so it was a nice surprise. After the show, they had a meeting to discuss how the show went and how things could be improved. It was pretty much a common theme that everyone thought they should start advertising the shows.
I think it was a week or 2 later, Unit Pride played their surprise show with BL’AST!, so we got pretty lucky with our first shows at Gilman. I have so many great memories of shows there though. Gwar at Gilman was amazing, all the Op Ivy shows, all the big straight edge shows, OBHC shows, and that one show Sammy got into a fight at. If I remember correctly, the first Youth Of Today show we played there, was kind of an odd line-up and I’m pretty sure it was this show, a band called No Trend played as well. They had some song that was in some porn movie, “Between The Cheeks” or something like that. Horrible music, but when they played, they had a couple naked ladies “dancing” on stage in nothing but saran wrap. Then there is the whole stolen corpse up in the sound booth story. Some crazy shit has gone down at that club over the years.
To be continued...
Breakaway at Gilman with chaos about to erupt, Photo courtesy of Joey
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Mike Dean with COC, Photo: Joe Henderson
I have been asked to write something about Corrosion Of Conformity in their glory days of a long time ago, which is more or less when they were a trio. The lineup of bassist and vocalist Mike Dean, guitarist Woody Weatherman and drummer Reed Mullin operated from the end of 1984 until the late spring of 1986. This is not a whole lot of time but they not only put the South (in general) on the hardcore map a wee bit more than some of their other southern contemps, they more or less ushered in a devastating maelstrom of sound and pioneered (for better or worse) that so called “crossover” sound, the melding of punk and metal.
Trouble is, labeling them that is already selling the band short in the long run. True, the band members all unabashedly loved heavy metal. Good heavy metal. Not all heavy metal. They also loved other things that maybe you don’t know about. They were all well versed on post punk shit. Woody used to sing certain Stranglers songs. Reed was very knowledgeable about things like Gang Of Four and PIL, years before either of those two bands were considered cool. And Mike Dean brought sort of a groovy vibe to the band, his knowledge of dub, funk and black music in general easily seeped into the pores of the COC sound. Plus, they all agreed on certain things: Bad Brains, Black Flag, Venom and the Ramones.
You threw all of that together and you have some idea of the pioneering sound the three of them came up with. And they were from Raleigh North Carolina of all places. What they did and who they are got me to re-locate to their neck of the woods years ago.
Corrosion Of Conformity at the Club House in Baltimore, MD 1985, Photo: Joe Henderson
When the band asked former singer Eric Eycke to leave the band, they seemed to respond to the situation by moving full steam ahead. Although Eric was a riveting frontman for the band, they continued forward with Mike Dean out front taking over the vocals, with back up from Reed. I ended up meeting the band formally when they went out west to record the first side of their second album ANIMOSITY. The second (and looking back, despite its crazy/shitty production the better side of the record) side was recorded back in Raleigh at the same studio that the first one was done out. Turns out that the folks running the studio felt so bad at how “Eye For An Eye” came out that they gave the band free time in the studio for future projects.
Anyways, the band played one of what could be called the first “crossover” show that I had ever heard of in Los Angeles, at the Sun Valley Sportsmans Lodge. Also on the bill were bands like Possessed and Dark Angel. I didn’t like any of that stuff then, and I am amazed now how people that weren’t there to see that stuff seem to think it was awesome...it wasn’t. COC got up there and started to play, and right away they were easily way louder and more powerful than anything else that happened that evening. Most of the audience sort of didn’t know what to think of them, not like they disliked them, just more like they were confused. I decided that was a pretty good reaction to get from a crowd. I also seem to think that the band thought it was a bad show. Hell, I didn’t think so! I was hearing all of this newer material and I was really digging it.
Afterwards, the band accepted my invitation to drive really far away and spend the night at my parent’s house. Woody drove the van and knocked over the cement mailbox out front. We propped it up with some rocks. No one noticed anything. My parents were by now used to all of these strange people coming and going from my room all in the name of punk rock mail correspondence, so no one blinked an eye when they all woke up.
Woody, Mike and Reed with COC at the Club House in Baltimore, MD 1985, Photo: Joe Henderson
Even crazier was what happened next, and I don’t know how it really happened. COC went over to where the band Scared Straight practiced, which was singer Scott Radinsky’s place. His parents had set up a nice little practice space in the middle of the house, and for whatever reason the band either WANTED to practice or they were asked by us to practice at the Scared Straight space. And they did. They unloaded ALL of their gear into the teeny tiny room which was soon jam packed with all of their shit: huge stacks of amps...all of that Sunn gear years before “Stoner Rock” happened, Reed’s humongous red Tama drumset...it was just silly looking back and remembering how much stuff they had.
And then...they treated us to a punishing and painfully loud practice. Other than the fact that musically they made the likes of our band (and really, most bands at that time) look like the sorry asses we were, we were more excited and inspired by them. They were really ahead of their time. I still can’t believe they unloaded all of their stuff just to play for three or four people in Simi Valley California one afternoon.
It was weird. And cool!
Next year my next MANCHILD book is coming out, and yet again it will be released on Charles Cardello’s BIFOCAL MEDIA label. Instead of another comic book anthology, this one will be all about the Raleigh hardcore and punk scene form the eighties. There was a lot of really good stuff that was going on back then, and a lot of really cool people were involved, but COC were easily the dominant force back then. The book features them very prominently. They were the centerpiece of the area. There will be a book release party for it, and it won’t be until springtime at least. I wonder what I will have to do to get these three guys to get back together and if nothing else act like they are practicing in Simi Valley again? - Brian Walsby
The mad man Mike Dean killing it with COC, Photo: Joe Henderson
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Every Christmas, I usually spend a few days at my brothers’ place. The usual itinerary is just to hang out, shoot the shit, consume things that are very un-DCXX and jam tunes. Five or six years back, I remember walking into his apartment after he picked me up at the train station and seeing a vinyl copy of Corrosion of Conformity’s ‘Animosity’ sitting in the front of the stereo. I picked it up and grinned from ear to ear. ‘Yeah, you know’ he said in his usual nasally tone, ‘I stupidly got rid of that record years ago. One came into the store a few weeks ago (That store being Princeton Record Exchange, the place that has employed my brother since dirt was invented) and I couldn’t resist.'
I had also stupidly sold my copy in a fog of trading in all my Hardcore records for Psychedelic rarities and hadn’t heard it in years. I insisted he put the disc on post haste.
What unfolded in the next forty minutes or so was a really beautiful and illuminating experience. As soon as the record blasted into ‘Loss for Words,' a flood of memories came shooting at me. I knew every word even though I hadn’t heard the thing in ten years. My brother and I head banged and made stereotypical ‘mean’ faces through the whole record. The night proved the fact that you can take the Hardcore record out of your collection, but you can never take the Hardcore out of yourself. I know it sounds corny as shit, but it’s true.
I remember sitting in my brother’s living room flashing back to interviewing the bands’ drummer Reed Mullin when I was 13 (!) and he made some remark about the recent ‘crossover’ trend going on in Hardcore at the time. He said something to the affect of ‘When we were signing with Metal Blade we thought, “Oh wow! We’ll turn all these Metal kids onto Crass and Minor Threat!’ Instead we got Nazi skinheads and S.O.D.” With a trajectory misinterpreted by the masses, I feel C.O.C. might be one of the most misunderstood bands in underground music history. But hey, that just might be me.
I remember the hype surrounding ‘Eye For An Eye’ was so heavy at the time of its release that it made you think you already found your new favorite band without even hearing them. When my brother finally scored a copy of it, I dug it almost immediately. The reasons for my initial love for it, I can’t conjure up in my twilight years. Listening to it now, it’s obvious why my thirteen year old self and others were losing their shit over it. Much like D.C.'s ubercore legends Void, there was a deliberate dilapidating vibe to it even though it was obvious these dudes could hold it together. Guitarist Woody Weatherman (what a great name!) made it clear his band were raised on heavy seventies sounds, not the Velvet Underground or post-punk; their cover of a cover of ‘Green Maharishi’ made it known. The only weak spot I can find on this record nowadays is Eric Eycke’s parched vocals. To think of Mike Dean bellowing through this record instead of him almost makes we weep into my ‘What If?’ bucket.
‘Animosity’ is often credited by many as the template for the whole ‘Crossover’ what-have-you of the mid to late 80's but I don’t know if I buy that. If it actually was, I’d be wanting to get a lot of really shitty records released on Death and Combat Core back into my collection...know what I mean? If anything, it might be a template that was used totally incorrectly. Even by today’s standards, it is a truly disturbing sounding record. I always loved the distinctions between the recording on either side. The ‘megaphone’ style vocal effect on Mike Dean’s vocals on the second side still sends shivers down my spine. And don’t get me started on what impact the lyrics made on me at such an impressionable age. Let’s just say scrawling ‘WHERE’S YOUR GOD? HE’S IN YOUR HEAD!’ on the front of my notebook while attending a Roman Catholic middle school was not the smartest thing I ever did in my life. Three weeks of detention and many years later, I still think of this record as the ‘piece de resistance’ of the bands catalog.
I found ‘Technocracy’ to be a total dud back when I was in short pants and I still think that these days. The overall passion in which the music is delivered does not carry over into the record’s bland mix that makes it sound like a million other ‘crossover’ records from the timeframe. The less said, the better.
‘Six Songs With Mike Singing 1985’ is a gemstone many don’t pay attention to. A fierce and lean presentation of a band at its peak. But in all honesty, I’ll take ‘Animosity’ any day of the week for its sheer destructive sonics. But again…that could just be me. - Tony Rettman
Animosity - 136
Eye For An Eye - 98
Technocracy - 43
Six Songs With Mike Singing - 33