Thursday, March 4, 2010

Carl Porcaro / Killing Time interview: Part I, The Early Years, Breakdown

In the coming weeks, to coincide with the release of their new LP, "Three Steps Back," we are gonna be running a ton of great Killing Time material. To kick things off, we got Lars Weiss (Judge, Uppercut) who is a close friend of the band and even played in the band briefly, to interview guitarist Carl Porcaro. Carl starts with the history of Breakdown and how that spawned the formation of Raw Deal. Big thanks to both Lars and Carl! -Gordo DCXX

Right before Breakdown, where were you in the mid 80s in terms of music, and how did you get into hardcore?

I heard hardcore for the first time in the mid 80s, probably started going to CB’s in ‘86. Coming up from suburban metal stuff, I was looking for something faster, something that had something more interesting to say, but still appealed to me in the same way with loud guitars and drums. At that time there was no internet to fall back on, there was basically going to record stores, picking up what you could on the radio, checking out ‘zines. You would pick up an Angry Samoans record, a Ramones record, a Husker Du record, a Black Flag record, a Minor Threat record. Then you’d pick up “Victim in Pain” and a little something happens and you're like ‘I like the New York thing, this is cool and its happening right here.’ Then you would pick up ‘zines like Guillotine and Maximum RnR. Then pretty soon you’re ordering demos from bands. Then you’re at CB’s. Slowly you’ve gathered up all this information and it has sucked you in. Then you’re standing in front of CB’s for the first time being like “What the fuck, there are some ill people here."

What was your first show?

I was thinking about that on the subway over here. I can’t answer that question, it was all a blur. Probably Agnostic Front at their most metal, with Carnivore opening. Or maybe Crumbsuckers and Ludichrist. There was an early Dag Nasty show I went to…

Did you see them with Dave Smalley?

Yes, I know I saw Warzone. Maybe Straight Ahead. I distinctly remember the Dag Nasty show, the Crumbsuckers, and the AF show really stand out.

Did you see the Cro-Mags at CB’s?

No, I saw them at the Ritz. One of the demos I ordered that really solidified that fact that I was completely into NYHC was their demo cassette. I love their album, but in the early days I liked the cassette better. It seemed more urgent.

Breakdown's first show at The Oasis, Mamaroneck, NY, Photo courtesy of: Anthony Drago

So as for going to shows and who you were going with, you’ve known Bill Wilson from Blackout Records since you were little kids?

know him from nursery school. We discovered this stuff together. We were both into metal, and then got into punk, and hardcore and hip hop all at the same time.

So it was you and Bill and who else?

It was him and the Angelilli brothers. Don was the first guitarist for Breakdown. Yeah, I think I heard the AOD record for the first time at Don’s house. Don and his brother Paul and his cousin Dave.

From going to shows and hanging with Bill and Don, how does that lead into Breakdown?

I was a guitar player, Don was a guitar player so we jammed together. Going to Hardcore and Punk shows opens your eyes to the fact that you can express yourself and it doesn’t require a high level of expertise. You don’t have to be some crazy assed musician, its about what you’re gonna say, what riffs you're going to write, the sound you’re gonna get. Before I got into this music, it's like everyone you know is playing covers and the measure of how good it is is whether it's note for note. Then you get into hardcore and you’re like “fuck that, I’ve got a riff.” You get psyched. There’s going to be places to play. You know guys in bands that you like.

Rich and Carl, Photo courtesy of: Anthony Drago

So jamming with Don, did that lead to any of the first Breakdown songs?

To be honest it didn’t take that long. We wrote songs immediately. Then we met Rich McLoughlin.

So you met him at the same time? Around '86?

Yeah, Don met him at the public pool in Yonkers.

Where Bill was the lifeguard?

Yeah, probably. It’s like he was the only punk rock kid at the Yonkers public pool. He had a severe mohawk. He wasn’t hard to find. He had a friend named Lou who played drums. So we were in Rich’s garage right away writing songs. Then Jeff came to us through Tony Pradlik from Mad Platters. When I heard Jeff sing, I was like "this could be a real band." Then Lou didn’t really cut it. So through Tony we found Drago. He knew him because everyone rolled through that store.

So let’s talk about that for second. Coming from Yonkers, Mad Platters was a pretty important spot?

Carl: You had no access without a spot like that. That was an access point for all kinds of things. Before that, if you wanted to buy something a little out of the mainstream, you were relegated to an import section that was like half a bin at a Sam Goody or Corvettes. Then you had Mad Platters that had every kind of music. That’s where everyone hung out. That’s where I got all the records I have. You could get zines, too. More importantly, you had the guy Tony who ran the place and was always recommending music he thought you might be into. One day he’s like "you should check out this kid Drago, he’s a drummer and he’s really into the Misfits." It was a networking spot. We wouldn’t meet people like that at our school. Nobody was into what we were into.

Breakdown sticker by Chaka Malik '88

It’s like meeting Rich at the pool. If you even saw someone that might look like he was into hardcore, you would just go up to him and start talking?

Or you had beef. It was totally amazing time, not a lot of that going on today. Taking it another step, going downtown to Some Records. That took it to another level that was so focused on everything NYHC. The same thing that happened with Tony, happened with Duane. Later on Duane was like “Anthony from Token Entry is looking for a new band.”

We’ll get to that later. Some for records and 99x for style…

I’m wearing a Fred Perry right now…

You eventually started selling the Breakdown demo through Some Records. How many of those did you sell?

A tremendous amount. It was unbelievable.

Carl Pocaro, Anthony Drago and Rich McLoughlin, early Breakdown practice, Photo: Bill Wilson

So tell us about the demo?

We got with Drago and started practicing in his garage. We practiced all the time.

How did the songs come together?

I wrote some on my own. Don wrote some. Rich wrote some. Don and I collaborated on a few.

Who wrote the lyrics?

I wrote one song. Jeff wrote the rest of the lyrics.

Breakdown demo cover

So by mid-1986, you got the band together and you had the demo songs. How many shows did Breakdown play with the original line up (Jeff, Don, Rich, Drago, and yourself)?

With that line up, about 15 shows. The first show was during the fall of ’86 at church in Mamaroneck, NY. We played with a band called Zombie Squad who were from Mamaroneck. We were from Yonkers, the wrong side of the tracks. They were a really good punk band, but we were doing some really hardcore shit. We just blew up the spot. We started playing and the show was immediately shut down. People had no idea how to react.

Breakdown were kind of a new style of hardcore, I group it in there with Leeway, who I know you guys liked, it had that those breakbeat parts and sort of hip hop parts, later on Outburst had the same vibe…

We always wanted to be real fresh (cracks up). Hip-hop for all us at that time was just as important to us as hardcore. Things like the first BDP record, the first Public Enemy record. So were sneakers and graffiti. It had to be fresh… I remember discussions we had about that. We loved how NY Hardcore bands would have the hanging power chord ringing over the beat right before the mosh part. We wanted to make those parts sound like hip hop.

Leeway and Breakdown are a beginning of that sound. So you did that show, you played the Anthrax….

We could not get a gig in New York. Nobody in the city would book us. I think we played Albany. We got to play the Right Track Inn in Long Island with Krakdown and the NY Hoods with Gavin. We played CT. We played 288 Lark in Albany. We did that circuit twice before we got to play NY. Then we played the Pyramid. Ray Cappo and Raybeez were booking shows there together. We played with Side By Side and YDL. The demo was just out at that point. Then we got to play CB’s. I was just floored when everyone knew the songs. People were singing the songs….

The first show at CB’s was with Uniform Choice?

Yes, that was it. And there was one other CB's show with that line up.

So you played with Uniform Choice the first time they played in NY?

We were so psyched to play with them. We weren’t straight edge, but everyone thought we were. We weren’t drinking or doing drugs either, but we didn’t call ourselves straight edge. I remember being blown away about the whole thing [playing with UC]'s our first gig at CB’s, with a band we were totally into, we had their t-shirts and everything. I remember being really pent up and then completely ripping it. Everyone went crazy…

First Breakdown show at the Anthrax, Carl and Jeff Perlin, Photo: Bill Wilson

Yeah, I remember that. So you played CB’s, then you played there again? Did Breakdown ever headline there?

I don’t remember. Don’t remember who it was with. There’s video of it. I remember the show because Anthony was into Breakdown and was on stage with us. We had written “Telltale” as a Breakdown song and we played it as an intrumental. We just played it and Jeff left the stage and Anthony was hanging out on stage with us so it strangely was like the first Raw Deal show (laughs).

So you did Breakdown until…

We were really beginning to get it going. There were personality conflicts. Having been in lots of bands I now realize that's just the way it is, but when it's your first time you sometimes take that stuff way too personally. My guess is that mostly Rich and Jeff just didn’t see eye to eye on anything. Then shit erupted over a girl. Don and Rich were into the same girl, neither of them too seriously but that was the spark. Then there were threats and the band was gonna beat each other up. Then it was done…it happened so fast.

That was in 1987…Breakdown breaks up, so you got Raw Deal together almost immediately?

It was unclear who was Breakdown. There was me, Rich and Drago and there was Don and Jeff. Jeff was the voice of the band of course, but there were 3 of us and 2 of them so…

And what’s a hardcore band that hasn’t replaced its singer at one point…

Your right that we got Raw Deal together almost immediately, but before we did that we went and did another show as Breakdown in Albany with Steve Reddy singing. It was a classic youth crew show, I want to say GB and Side By Side were on that bill. We played and we were pretty terrible. The show was on a Saturday and I think we called Steve the Tuesday before to ask him to do it. Anyway, we did that and it sort of dawned on us that were weren’t gonna continue down that road. That was in the early fall of 1987. The first Raw Deal practice was that day.

Carl and Anthony Communale with Raw Deal at Oliver J's, Photo: Ken Salerno


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

freakin awesome

Russ said...

so pumped for this!

Anonymous said...

Jeff Porcaro rules

kaprookie said...

Love the intro to hc bit - that's how it happened for a lot of us in NY. We loved both Breakdown & Raw Deal - had lots of fun playing w/ them here there and everywhere. We let our original bassist Chris go in a part hilarious & part ugly scene in front of Raw Deal in their van in Albany. Pretty memorable. Looking fwd to the rest of these installments. To this day the Breakdown demo is the best demo I've ever heard. Ever.

Jojo Outburst

adam said...

its so funny to hear these stories firsthand after hearing them second and third hand back in the day and all the scene gossip and bs about Breakdown breaking up and infighting...

breakdown was fun, but raw deal was a 100% better band..

Smitty said...

I remember listening to the Breakdown demo in '87 and looking at the cover and thinking the tenement stomping giant skinhead must be the singer himself. He just sounded so big and ill and hard on those songs. Both great and important hardcore, not just NYHC, bands. "Sick People" and "New Release" literally changed the sound of hardcore. Not bad for a bunch of teenage goofballs from Yonkers. And also some of the nicest guys I've ever known.

Another Raw Deal... said...

man this is gonna end up being some of my favorite stuff on here. AWESOMEEEE

Justin M said...

This will probably go down as one of the best DC entries. Being from Orange County, CA and really not getting involved heavily in the scene until '91 or '92 Killing Time/Raw Deal and Breakdown were always very mysterious to me. I still have my tape from back in the day with dubs of the '87 Demo, The Raw Deal Demo and Brightside. Great, great stuff.

Still want a Pat Dubar interview though...

Anonymous said...

"Jeff Porcaro rules..."


This comment has been removed by the author.

Justin... Trust me, we still want a Pat Dubar interview too.

LAND AND SEA said...

can someone post links to the raw deal and breakdown demos? that would rule.

Anonymous said...

raw deal and breakdown demos are best nyhc demos ever case closed. just thinking about them i start to break out in a sweat.

Jim Pitts said...

Breakdown and Raw Deal....that just is Hardcore 1987 to me! So glad I was there to live through it!
Just on the West Coast! lol
Both the Raw Deal demo and the Breakdown demo still give me goosebumps.....and I still have the Raw Deal "Boiling Point" shirt I got from Mark Starr of Insight!
Can't wait for more!

the mosher said...

this was absolutely crucial. thanks for continuing to paint of picture.

Mark said...

thank you so much for posting the interview. It's always nice to know what the band members think! I read an interview with James Hetfield last week and he spoke trash about Generic Viagra users, as if they were not normal people. that guy is an asshole for saying that!
Nice post, I really enjoyed the answers!

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Anonymous said...

man...that flier looks familiar. think that was on the wall in the Weiss brothers' room back then...I think Erik did that flier. Could be wrong...

I walked by Carl's house everyday in grammar school. Those dude were legends....

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