Monday, March 1, 2010

Warzone poll results / Chris Zusi's Warzone memories

In a landslide win, Don't Forget The Struggle dominated this poll, and got my vote in the process. To me, that's a great LP the whole way through and to me it sounds like the band at their late 80s Fist Records peak: SUPER tight playing, great lyrics, classic line-up, mosh parts galore, big sing alongs, and an overall feeling of urgency that shines through in every song. Every time I hear it I want to grab a punk, a skinhead, a metalhead, and a hip-hop dude and just march down the street with them while we fight bad dudes and come to the aid of anyone in need. The hardcore LP is a tough thing to pull off for any band, but I've always thought Warzone has one of the stand outs from that era. It's all there. Love that record.

I also really like Open Your Eyes and never understood the description of it being "metal." Sure, there are more leads and some slower parts, but I still want to shave my eyebrows, sing along, and dance when I listen to it.

The EP is a classic and while it didn't get my vote, Chris Zusi (Floorpunch) sums up what it meant and still means to him. Rest In Peace, Raybeez. -Gordo DCXX

Chris Zusi on the Warzone Lower East Side Crew EP

Warzone's Lower East Side Crew EP is the record that made me feel as though I was a part of the hardcore scene. I had been to shows and had other hardcore records before buying the Warzone EP, but I didn't really feel as though I belonged in the scene until I heard the first notes of "War Between Races." Warzone was my first "favorite" hardcore band and this ep is the reason for it. Every song is a classic, possessing that sense of urgency that you can't really describe to people outside of hardcore.

I remember making a tape of the EP and playing it everywhere I went on this little shitty boom box I used to carry around. In 1987, no one outside of hardcore knew that hardcore existed. I felt so cool to be a part of something so real, and I was almost afraid that someone was going to find out about it and take it away. Having a tape of the Warzone EP with me at all times kept me in "the scene" and reminded me not to get caught up in everyday high school bullshit. I don't want to get too philosophical here, but it's a lot like Plato's allegory of the cave - once you escape from the cave and see the "light" how can you go back to living your life the same way as everyone chained inside the cave? That's what hardcore meant to me back then and the Warzone EP was the reason for it.

Here are two Warzone stories that I can't leave out:

1) By the end of 1987 drugs had pretty much ruined my life. I got cleaned up, found the edge, and started to really get into the SE scene. Since Warzone was my favorite band at the time, I immediately connected with the song "Wound Up." So much so that I wrote a fan letter to "Warzone" telling them how much I loved the EP and how much I appreciated the lyrics on the record. So my first SE idol was Raybeez! I think even Ray would get a kick out of that. Actually, Ray wrote me a very genuine letter back telling me how much he appreciated the kind words and how he struggled with drugs and that I should do all I could to stay clean and positive - plus he sent me 2 Warzone LESC stickers. Man, I wish I still had that letter.

2) Around 1997 (I'm too lazy to look up the actual date) Floorpunch played a show with Warzone and a few other bands at the Wetlands in NYC (Ed. Note - April 27, 1997). Our 7" had just come out a few months prior so we had a box of them at our merch table to sell. After the show we packed up and headed home. When I get home I realized that I didn't have the box of 7"s and knew that I must have left them at the show. I called the Wetlands and they didn't find anything, so I figure we were screwed.

A couple of days later I come home and see a message on my answering machine. I hit play and as soon as I hear the voice I'm frozen in my's Raybeez. "Yo Chris, this is Ray from Warzone. We picked up a box of your records at the show and I want to meet up to get them back to you. The Warzone women (yes, he said that) want to keep them because the record is so dope, but I convinced them that this is the right thing to do." I think I called 10 people after that, giddy as a school girl, and quoted the whole message to them. I saved that message for weeks and would just listen to it randomly throughout the day.

When we're younger we have a tendency to put our idols on a pedestal, and a lot of times this makes for a fall from grace when we realize that they are not perfect. Anyone who knew Raybeez knew that he was far from perfect. But there's nothing wrong with remembering the good when people are gone. Rest In Peace. -Zusi

Warzone - "Don't Forget The Struggle, Don't Forget The Streets" LP - 273
Warzone - "Lower East Side Crew" EP - 91
Warzone - "Open Your Eyes" LP - 26


Anonymous said...

That is totally awesome. To read that a guy who was struggling with drugs found a way out by using the hardcore scene to connect with another guy who had had similar experiences is proof that hardcore isn't just music, but an active community and a positive way of life. Raybeez RIP.

Anonymous said...

Ray really was a unique presence in the scene. He was older than most who were active in the scene, a veteran, had the perspective of one who delt with drug addiction issues, etc. I think this help him relate well to just about anyone.

Two Warzone show stories.
1. I remember seeing Warzone at a small theater in Anville, PA. The opening bands were Youth Defense League and The Uprise (two outspoken skinhead bands). This particular show was right after Don't Forget the Struggle...came out. Needless to say, me and several of my straight edge friends LOVED the record. The show was kind scary. My pals and I were the only non-skins in the place. Also, the skins at the show were clearly of a diverse mix of "skinhead ideologies". Ray was somehow able to "bridge the gap" between all the groups at the show. Although there was a pretty large fight after the show, I'm pretty sure Ray squashed many other would-be altercations that night. Call it "Harcore Diplomacy" I suppose.
2. A group of us went to see Warzone at a club in York, PA. Unfortunatley, the club owner was a no show and the gig never happened. The Warzone guys pulled up and we waited with them for about an hour. The band was extremely upset, but still cool enough to hang out at a pizza joint with us (a couple of straight edge kids).

raybeez rules said...

hardcores for punx and skinheads, they created it. no for the metalheads and the hip hop dudes, they killed it. raybeez rules.

Anonymous said...

mr.raybeez rules, i think even ray himself (RIP) would have to disagree with you, as Warzone definitely took a lot of ques from both the hip hop and metal worlds. despite what you may think of that mix with all the stuff that came out a few years later, Warzone wouldn't be Warzone without all those different scenes influencing their style/sound.

with that said, great poll.

lenny zimkus said...

DFTS was and still is one of my favorite records. I would pour over the lyrics and thanks list for hours, (there's some great lines in there). I would drive around in my metal friends car playing a copy of that record all night. (I still have the tape.) It must have had an impact on one of them because after not talking to him in over 15 years he wrote me on facebook and he still remembered that driving around listening to it.

Brett Hardware said...

How many of us got into a show via RayBeez opening the side door or sneaking out the hand stamper?

Anonymous said...

all are great, but open your eyes is super underrated. great record the whole way through.

Noah said...

Hey Chris,
I totally remember that letter from Raybeez. I have one thing to say about that letter. "I, Raybeez"


Anonymous said...

great story. gotta love the warzone women. and yes, the record still is dope, no exceptions!