Sunday, January 3, 2010

Sammy Siegler on CIV


Opinions on CIV the band both at the time of their existence as well as now are pretty varied. In 1994, amongst the post-HC Revelation/Major Label scene and Lollapalooza/Warped Tour crossover crowd, Walter and the CIV fellas wrote a record of fast hardcore with some catchy pop sensibility, set out on a bunch of shows, and reminded a lot of people that they knew how to PLAY hardcore. Many wrote the band off for their major label ties, big-venue gigs, and even their fashion sense...but that first CIV LP (and the related EPs of the time) contain some straight up gems if you ask me. Fittingly, I think 8 or 9 of those songs could have easily been smash hit GB tunes circa '88/'89.


Whatever your opinion, I don't think you can deny Walter as a dude who can craft a song (any style pretty much), nor can you say that Civ, Arthur, Charlie, and Sammy are dudes who don't know how to really play.

We recently caught up with Sammy to recall the CIV days... -Gordo DCXX


CIV in Japan, Photo: James Perry

I remember Charlie and Walter were living together in Greenwich Village, and the three of us were hanging out a lot. Pizza, bagels, and Kids In The Hall were the norm, and we often kicked around different project ideas, some serious and some not. The most appealing and obvious, was to do a band with Civ. The idea was that GB had been broken up for a few years, Civ is such a talent, some people will probably be interested off the bat, and it was an outlet for us to play the type of hardcore we loved. As well, we wanted to stretch it a bit by adding a pop element.


It was mainly Walter's concept, he was the ring leader for sure, he was doing Quicksand at the time so I think CIV was a nice way to switch things up for him. Civ the man wasn't into it being named after himself, but before he knew it we had made t-shirts and had plans. At first it was to be a series of EPs on Revelation with awesome artwork. We did the one, "Can't Wait One Minute More," decided to make a video and before we knew it we had a deal with Lava/Atlantic and were making a record. I think the video which our friend Marcos Siega did, really helped the cause. Mike Gitter as well - he was a friend from the hardcore scene and was an A & R guy at Atlantic, he was at the video shoot and really helped things along, and everything seemed to come together pretty quickly.

We had a lot of fun at the early rehearsals, I think I was doing back to back rehearsals at that time in the same studio, so they were long days. I was playing in a band with Ian Love called Loaded, and I think playing with Shelter working on some songs for Mantra (I think). But we had fun, you can hear it on the "Wait" rehearsal off the Discography, we would just bug out, joking a lot. I think we rehearsed for a little under a month and had the whole record written. It was great playing with Charlie, I met him in '88 on the YOT tour, he's one of the funniest people I know, he had the metal chops, you can hear it on "Gang Opinion" and a few others. I remember we recorded a Killing Joke tune during our first recording session at Fury's for the "Wait" EP, I don't think we finished it though.



As far as how things were written and developed, Walter had the songs, he would bring them in and we would flush them out. I think Charlie had a few riffs, I guess I wrote all my parts, I was always open to ideas, Walter would sometimes have a vision in regards to the drums. I think we would sometimes listen to or discuss songs we loved and try and do something in that vain. Something might have been Minor Threat inspired or even Sex Pistols inspired. Because we all went back as friends, we had some similar references to pull from which made it an easier process. Actually, at some point, Walter was on tour with Quicksand, and he would mail us cassettes of recordings of songs that he would do on the tour bus. The song "Sausages" off the Social Climber EP was a GB song that never got recorded, we got the name from a Kids In The Hall episode I believe.

The LP recording process was fun as hell. We would get large pizzas from Lombardi's on a regular basis, sit in Don Fury's dungeon and shred. Don was going through a tricky time in his life I think, he was a lot of fun, but there were a few times when you would have to get him out of bed, and a few no-shows on his behalf, but that was all part of the "magic" I guess.

I remember recording the bulk of my drums to a click track which was a first for me with hardcore, but I liked how tight it made things, the breaks, etc. I think it was a first for Don to record drums outside of his claustrophobic glass bubble drum room that he had. We mixed it with this guy Michel Barbierro who was a bad ass, and the combination of Don's pretty raw environment and gear and Barbiero's mixing skills I think made for a really unique sounding record. We mixed it where Public Enemy recorded It Takes A Nation Of Millions, I remember just listening to stories from that session, very funny.

The early CIV shows were awesome, I think our first show was part of a three show run with Orange 9mm and Sick Of It All, in Detroit, Cleveland, and New York, (I think). There was a great show at the Limelight in NY around then as well. We just had a great vibe, we were tight and had all been spending a lot of time together bugging out. It was great playing with Arthur again, he's an awesome player, and Civ made every moment pretty much hysterical, he can tell a great story.

I remember a show at Coney Island High early on in NY, that was packed and had a great energy. We opened for KISS at MSG and people hated us and we sounded like mud but it was fun. We did some big/bizarre shows with No Doubt, and three adventurous Warped Tours. I think one surprise for me was how successful we were in Japan, we did four tours there I think, Australia, Hawaii.

The bottom line was, it was all a lot of fun.



Sick Of It All, CIV, H20 tour 1995, Photo: Lenny Zimkus

39 comments:

Nick said...

I love that first CVI record, especially the faster, more hardcore songs. My 3 year old asks for the 'dice record' every time we get into the car as well...

Anonymous said...

cool stuff - that record is super listenable. i'd say 5 or 6 perfect hardcore songs for sure. et tu brute is a rager. even the not so hardcore songs are super catchy.

Ben Edge said...

My friend went to University of Hawaii for a year, and actually saw CIV play in Hawaii. I think he said he saw Strife there too. How could seeing a band like that on a tropical island not be the most fun thing ever?

I was hoping that "Sausages" was named after the part in Repo Man where Otto's girlfriend sees the photo of the dead aliens and says they look like sausages. Wishful thinking on my part.

Anonymous said...

CIV (Pennywise Light)

Anonymous said...

pennywise light (sic) LOL........that is funny, but really not true at all.

pennywise = bad religion LITE

civ = GB lite

Anonymous said...

that civ shit was lame.everyone jumped on it hopeing for a new gb record. not even close, cheesey hardcore cash in.

Anonymous said...

who really still uses the whole "cash in" argument?? really? is it 1996 and you are 18 and giving away free vegan food at a vfw show???

those guys paid their dues growing up playing hardcore. they decided to put the time into starting something up with CIV, and got some cool offers in the process to play places and travel - DUE TO DOORS THAT WERE OPENED FROM THEIR OWN PREVIOUS HARDWORK MAKING MUSIC.

yea, i'm sure they all walked away with TONS of money - i heard they bought ferarris and houses and are just living off the interest!

right. in reality, a guy like sammy would have probably made way more money just teaching drum lessons compared to the $ he actually made in the same amount of time during CIV.

if you think its cheesy that's something different...but "cash in" is just such a hilarious term if you know anything about playing music.

Anonymous said...

Tried to cash in public was not buying it, if your going to sell out you go all the way(Good Charlotte)dont half ass it by keepin one foot dipped in your roots(Straight Edge) and the other dipped in the mainstream(MTV) youll just end up in Limbo(s.o.i.a.,H20,shelter,orange 9,Quicksand etc.) and no ones going to eat it up.(move units)

Anonymous said...

We are all dumber for reading the post directly above this. What the hell are you talking about? Can you write a sentence without 17mistakes in it?

Anonymous said...

6 words : coded messages in slowed down songs.

Anonymous said...

yeah they didn't try to "cash in" the nissan commercial was for the kids.

Anonymous said...

I like my 3 year old asks for it.thats cute and sums up the cd well.

metal is disco said...

the first civ album is a fuckin' classic. great punk rock oi! and hardcore punk, brilliant songwriting and melodies. well, if you're into metalcore you'll never understand. it's a total party record, lots of variety, all great songs, it never bores; a 90's classic.

In Defense Of Civ said...

again in regards to 'cashing in' -

there's a difference between intentionally doing something with the objective of making money...and doing something that people end up liking, and as a result, there is some nice financial kickback.

i doubt walter and co. did this band solely with financial intent (though i'm sure they realized it wouldn't be a $ pit for them - can you blame them?). if so, why even put a single hc song on it? why not write a whole pop record? maybe i'm naive, but i think that at WORST it was a case of "guys, let's write this record, we can tour and have fun and play shows and it will be like old times, except this time we will probably come home and still have our apartments."

of course - there was some later done licensing (from what i've heard) and walter probably did make a few bucks in relation to the first LP. good for him! he wrote good, catchy songs and someone wanted to pay his rent because of it! did the dude blow it on girls and coke at scores? i don't think so.

(i won't go into the 2nd LP because i think maybe things were a little funky there - i don't know)

i don't even really love the band, don't even know those dudes and walter even seems kinda annoying...but it just blows my mind that people are still saying this same stuff 15 years later.

get a life!

INTI said...

CIV - good memories, good friends...playing hide & seek inside the Colosseum at night, that benefit show in a real run down squat in Rome where they played almost all GB songs and SSD's Glue, Johnny Pants going on tour with them ("hey, Johnny The Pants! hey, Sammy The ***!", Jana hanging out with them in the US and getting a black eye at a show... they rocked...

Anonymous said...

Didn't Sammy claim edge and was selling drugs at the same time? I'm not causing shit, I just heard that once and was curious.

Anyone know?

I don't like Civ as a band, but I get it. When that song was in the Nissan commercial I thought, "good for them, score one for the little guy."

Torsten said...

saw them 2 times back in '95/'96, and had a fucking blast. amazing live-band, amazing first record. I mean...wow! love all of it.

saw GB as well when they did reunite...and I have to say, CIV seemed more like a "real band" to me. don't know...I preferred them as a live-band. but that's just my opinion.

Anonymous said...

CIV-Thirteen day getaway
Token Entry - Weight of the World
Black Train Jack - Lp
Chinchilla-Lp
Mike and old Smoke-LP

LIST OF ALBUMS IVE CHUCKED OUT MY TRUCK WINDOW.

Anonymous said...

That's so funny. Everyone hating on them because they make money with what they love. Yeah sure it's way better to work beside making music to pay the bills.... bullshit. I hate all the proffessional skaters! They all sell out and fuck with our livestyle! ... NOT. That's just straight bullshit. Grow up and get a life! Btw: Even guys like Agnostic Front had Clips on MTV. So stop talking shit about that or those 'sell out dudes' are gonna find you...

Stark-Arts said...

Civ's first record was a good one. The second record was ok. I never loved them at the time because I like many missed GB and wanted the Pizza Album. As far as videos, clothes, commercials, etc - good for them. I doubt that they made that much off of any of it but that they made something while playing is something everyone should root for...being poor does not make you artistic - being poor makes you break up the band and get a job that eventually kills you...

Anonymous said...

Saw CIV in Hawaii. They were great live. They even played 1/2 of "Distance" (Moondog/GB). the were good people--down to earth and friendly. The next day Arthur, Sammy, & Charlie even played baseball with us Hawaii punks on our Sunday Baseball games. It was great! Sammy being edged? No way. He was packing a Jack Daniels bottle on his way out of the club.

Anonymous said...

I saw CIV in 1996 . They were great I thought, and totally cool dudes to boot. After the show Sammy, Charlie, and Civ came over to my cousins house and helped us make fresh gingerbread cookies. Charlie even helped my little brother write a term paper for English that was due on Monday.

As far as Edge, I know CIV was for sure. I do remember being a little bit peeved at Sammy though when I asked him if he was Straight Edge and he spit in my face, and called me a dirty JEW, even though I'm 33% certain he's Jewish...any help on that?

I then ran into Sammy several years later at a strip club outside Hoboken, and he was FOR SURE not edge then. He was throwing back shots of Wild Turkey, plus doing lines of coke off his Judge CD at the CLUB!!!! I remember asking him what his thoughts were on the latest Floorpunch CD, and he looked at me like he had no clue what I was talking about. It REALLY bummed me out, I went home and took my Side BY Side poster down that night.

Torsten said...

@Anonymous:

"I do remember being a little bit peeved at Sammy though when I asked him if he was Straight Edge and he spit in my face, and called me a dirty JEW, even though I'm 33% certain he's Jewish...any help on that?"

@Anonymous: please tell me that you gotta kidding!

if a guys does that to you, why in the first place would you go & talk to him again in a friendly/respectful way later on?!
though I am not saying that it's utterly impossible that "nice guys" can turn out to be total assholes in the end, this would be interesting.

I've met sammy two times... and he seemed so humble, friendly and down-to-earth that I couldn't even believe it back then....unlike certain other ex-bandmates of him, that I had to meet as well. (not talking about porcell, though)

Anonymous said...

Sammy The Jew!

Anonymous said...

"After the show Sammy, Charlie, and Civ came over to my cousins house and helped us make fresh gingerbread cookies. Charlie even helped my little brother write a term paper for English that was due on Monday."

Now that's funny!!

Anonymous said...

After reading this it just confirms what I already knew was true (till death)

CHAIN>GB

Gorilla Biscuits/Civ = Sell Outs!! AKA guys who were only in it for the $$$

Chain Of Strength = STLL NOT CASHING IN ON THE HARDCORE REUNION TIP. STIL NOT SELLING THEIR SONGS TO COMMERCIALS, VIDEO GAMES, OR MOVIES.

TRUE TILL DEATH

Stark-Arts said...

maybe cause there is not a single Chain song that anyone wants to hear in a game or commercial?

Anonymous said...

Oh yeah, RIGHT!!!!

"Too Deep Until" Now & "True Till Death" BOTH blow away the best GB song by miles,

NEEEEXXXXXXTTTTT!!!!

Ingo said...

For what I know they were true till the gig was over! Never try to compare something genius with some kids that made music for a couple years and totally turned 180 afterwards. COS had a few good songs, that's right. GB has one of the best albums EVER made with Starting today. EVERY song is straight up genius. They play in a complete different league better to say it's not even the same sport. To allege that they were in it for the money is absurd. Even if i would just give a fuck cos they would be worth every penny.

Robert said...

Tim and Gordo-

You need to start moderating these comments. This is some of the stupidest shit I've ever read. I'm amazed these idiots are able to use a keyboard to string together grammatical sentences of English. Love the entry though.

-Bucky

Anonymous said...

Why is it stupid? Cause a guy like COS better then GB? I feel the same way, not as extreme maybe, but I dont see the problem in that post. Sorry we can't all be as self-rightous as you Robert,.

Anonymous said...

this is why straight edge gets a bad rap.thanks Robert(check my spelling)

Anonymous said...

Yeah Robert. Fuck Off. Loser

Anonymous said...

I think that third show was in Buffalo, not New York. I was there, and they ironically replaced Korn as the opening act. This band pissed off my hardcore sensibilities at the time, but in hindsight it's nothing compared to the shit that's out there today. I can now recognize it for what it is ...a good record; However that second record is still total trash. I don't know why they thought they could write an album without Walter

Esteban™ said...

band was fun. was at one of the first shows (detroit) and saw them on the warped tour they did as well.

Tom said...

"As far as Edge, I know CIV was for sure. I do remember being a little bit peeved at Sammy though when I asked him if he was Straight Edge and he spit in my face, and called me a dirty JEW, even though I'm 33% certain he's Jewish...any help on that?

I then ran into Sammy several years later at a strip club outside Hoboken, and he was FOR SURE not edge then. He was throwing back shots of Wild Turkey, plus doing lines of coke off his Judge CD at the CLUB!!!! I remember asking him what his thoughts were on the latest Floorpunch CD, and he looked at me like he had no clue what I was talking about. It REALLY bummed me out, I went home and took my Side BY Side poster down that night."

I almost pissed my pants after reading this. AWESOME, awesome entry! "doing lines of coke off his Judge CD at the CLUB!!!!" Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!

I think it's hilarious how up in arms some of the posters are on this thread with their expectations about how other people they don't even know should conduct their lives. Food ain't free and neither is the electricity you fucking clowns use to power your computers to post your ridiculous bullshit. The ages of 14-24 years are such glorious ages for young men to be complete fucking morons. Bravo, gentlemen!

Good for them if they made a little money on this and were able to enjoy life a little more during those years. Their music was good for the time. People, like me, liked it enough to buy it and go to their pretty damn entertaining shows. Thanks, gents, it was fun!

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Kanvas05 said...

CIV's first album was good. Quick and to the point.
I saw them in the first warp tour with Quicksand, Into Another, Orange 9mm, S.O.I.A., in Fl. One of the best shows ever. Civ called out some bitch ass skinheads for Beating a kid 8 to 1 in the pit. Pussies he called them, and pussies they were.

Thank for the memories

steve said...

The jew/strip club/ coke story is one of the funniest things i've ever heard!!! Obviously not true unless he ran into me and confused me with sammy, but f'n hilarious!!