Monday, April 12, 2010

Rob Fish part II

Rob with Ressurection at Middlesex County College, Edison NJ, Photo: Justine Demetrick

What do you remember about the New Jersey hardcore scene, bands and venues of the late 80's? Who and what stand out and why?

Middlesex County College - my first shows happened there. Husker Du, COC and the list goes on. PED (Post Ejaculation Depression), such an awesome band. The Adolescents/YOT show at Middlesex County College where Ari, AJ, Dale, Dan and a bunch of us broke into some drama class room and tried on ridiculous costumes and other mischief.

City Gardens - white power shitheads aside this was an awesome place for shows. I remember the Exploited/Vision show. It was Vision's first show since all of the band quit, aside from the singer Dave, and they were awesome. The Exploited set was insane. Skinheads spitting and cursing them, American flags being waved, lots of fights all culminating in skins flipping the Exploited's vehicle. Awesome.

Scott Hall - lots of amazing shows. Release's first show was there. We had our first show booked for Oliver J's in Allentown, PA on a Saturday. That Friday morning we get a call from someone who booked a show at Scott Hall that night with the False Prophets and Fifteen. The opening band had cancelled so they asked us to play. There was maybe 10 people there and we were HORRIBLE but it was still awesome because the False Prophets played. The drummer was really cool and told me he liked our set and talked to me about some straight edge bands he liked. Next night we played the show at Oliver J's which was actually really good.

Stelton Rec Hall - some local shows happened there that were cool. I remember a show with some band called the Avenel Kids, who we were friends with, and some metal bands. There there was a hardcore vs. metal wall of death. Pretty ridiculous.

The NJ scene, aside from some White Power skinhead issues, was actually very different than NY. No violence or even a threat of it at all.

A lot of the scene, at least in Northern NJ, was also very active at CB's. Most of my vivid memories come from CB's. The Shutdown Show was epic. Saw Absolution and Raw Deal's first shows, which was at the same show, with Krakdown and Sick Of It All which was just amazing. Absolution was the most powerful set I have ever witnessed. So much energy and balls. Raw Deal KILLED it. I remember the Warzone record release party. Skinhead dove feet first into my face. I was carried out with a broken nose and blood flowing everywhere. Skinhead walked over, asked me if I wanted him to fix my nose to which I responded yes and he proceeded to crack it back into place. To this day it is still crooked. And yet after Warzone finished I wandered over to their merch table, covered in blood, and Raybeez asked me what happened. I told him and scored a free shirt.

There were some awesome road trips and shows at the Club Pizazz, Anthrax and in Boston.

Rob with Ressurection at the first More Than Music Fest, 1993, Dayton Ohio, Photo: Josh Grabelle

How did you feel about the way things ended with Release and what was your state of mind when starting Ressurection? What were your original goals when Ressurection started? Talk about your first song, "Melting Away" and the motivation behind it.

At that point in my life the shit I went through as a kid really started to bubble up and I got disinterested in playing music. The rest of the band wanted to expand musically or whatever and I was just trying to hold it together. I was doing a lot of really stupid and crazy shit and started to become somewhat obsessed with death. Aside from my mother being very sick and close to death I just felt so lost, hurt, and unable to cope. I had started visiting Krishna temples in early '89 and started to really get into that. Essentially I needed an escape. The concept of karma helped me to justify the abuse and other things I experienced as a young kid and the whole religious social setting let me grab onto something that felt bigger than me. It was an escape, a cop out in many ways but I needed it. I wouldn't have survived without it. So it ended when I joined the ashram after graduating High School. We played 2 shows that summer but it was evident that we were no longer a band.

Ressurection started in Ari's (Lifetime) room. I had just got a copy of the No Longer 7" and Ari, Dan (Lifetime) and Catrine listened to it. I had just moved back to NJ after living in an ashram and was really down and had no direction at all. When we listened to the record I thought I sounded horrible but they were excited and told me I needed to do a new band. I laughed it off and said I wasn't any good and they just kept pushing it and I finally said ok. It was Ari and Dan and I came up with the idea of including Zusi whom I hadn't talked to in over a year and who had sort of dropped out of the scene. At our first practice we wrote Melting Away and that was that. A week later Ari, Dan and I went into a studio and recorded it. After this I met Dan H. and asked him to join the band and shortly after Crispy (Lifetime, Deadguy) joined on bass and we recorded a 7".

After that Dan and Ari left the band to focus on Lifetime and Crispy went to college in Boston so Daly (Lifetime, 108, Texas Is The Reason, Jets To Brazil) and yet another Dan joined the band. Shortly after Zusi rejoined on second guitar and Crispy on bass. After a short West Coast Tour with Mouthpiece, Dan H. and Crispy left and Little Dave joined on bass. The lineup remained Daly, Zusi, Little Dave and I for the next few years until we broke up with Brian M. (Another Wall, The Van Pelt, Jets To Brazil) joining on to play second guitar towards the end.

As far as goals there really weren't any except to play loud and noisy hardcore.

Rob with Ressurection at Middlesex County College, Edison NJ, Photo: Adam Tanner

What would be your favorite Ressurection songs and why?

Fuck Your Sympathy - it helped me express a lot of the hurt I saw when my Mother's friends abandoned her when she got real sick. Watching my Dad trying to carry that weight on his shoulders and then be confronted with her old friends' bleeding hearts when she died.

Why - in one sense I hated religion and the mindless dogma yet on the other hand I needed it to survive. Why was about trying to balance my need for something greater with my core feeling that religion was ultimately a disempowering thing in most respects.


What were your thoughts on the scene and the direction it was heading in the early to mid 90's? What did you like about it and what could you have done without?

I guess my thought on '90-'91 is just that between the violence and almost exclusive focuses within certain sub scenes things just imploded. The bands and kids who loved them "grew up" and got into other things and on the surface things just fell apart. It became about basements, garages and expression again versus dressing a certain way, whether or not you ascribed to a specific moral code, etc. All in all it was a good thing. New bands started to pop up and in many ways their focus was on being the polar opposite of what had just imploded. All in all I think it was pretty awesome albeit different than what I loved about the scene from '85-'89. I will take "politically correct" and emo over the jockish, elitist and wannabe gangster crap that the scene had turned into.

In terms of the violence and "gangs" that really ruined some things, one of my favorite lines comes from Crispy's thank you list on the first Ressurection EP: "Just little boy actors saying big boy lines."

While my favorite bands are from an earlier era my appreciation for the scene from '91-'96 is very positive.

The final Ressurection line-up, Photo courtesy of: Rob Fish

Being Straight Edge, becoming vegetarian and taking interest in Krsna Consciousness, at the time one would chalk a lot of that up to what Ray Cappo was talking about and doing with Youth Of Today and later, Shelter. Do you credit Ray for sending yourself in this direction or was there someone or something else that originally sent you down that path? Looking back, what are your thoughts on the influence Ray had and the impact he left?

I got my first Krishna book when Four Walls falling recorded their 7" from their then bass player Caine. I already had a copy of the Bhagavad Gita, which I got from my school library (that library fine must be insurmountable by now) because it talked about karma, but it was little more than a translation of the text itself so not all that helpful to me. Eastern spiritualism was attractive to me because of the concept of karma. I really needed some way to process what I had experienced as a kid.

I had a love/hate thing with Ray. I loved YOT and admired his self confidence, mostly because I had none deep down, yet a the same time we never got along on a personal level. I remember a drive down to the Philly Temple with Lenny, Tim and Traci where I was to sit down with Ray and Vic to settle some issues that Ray and I had together. At the time I had decided I would rejoin 108, after having left the band after recording Holyname but before playing our fist show together. But, the issues Ray and I had with each other needed to be resolved.

I remember the whole drive down my anger growing. When we finally sat down I was very aggressive and angry which caught him off guard. I was able to point out how some really fucked up things he said about me were bullshit and made no sense. He was extremely apologetic which just made me more angry because why would he have said those things without ever really thinking them through? Still, by the end of the meeting, which lasted hours, I walked out with a new respect for Ray. He had been an asshole but he also took responsibility for it and apologized. I sure as hell had never been able to do anything like that. Also, considering all of the crazy shit I had actually done at one time or another certainly didn't make anything people accused me of look all that unrealistic and I knew that. So at that point I gained respect for him and to this day, even if we are very different in most respects, I think he is a genuine, well intentioned, sincere person.

Rob fronting 108 in Oslo Norway, 1995, Photo: Ole


benj said...

good stuff. rob is an interesting, contemplative, and well-spoken dude for sure. looking forward to part 3.

mrs. miss alaineus said...


j kelley said...

amazing! all of the bands this guy has done are just scorchers.

it's also refreshing to see a man so open about his hardships. i bet if most people let there guard down for a minute, less would get into trying drugs as a way out.

Brett Hardware said...

Ressurection are definitely one of my favorite bands. Glad I got to see them a lot and became good friends with all of them, especially Zusi.

Brett said...

I fuckin' loved Ressurection. first time I heard Melting Away I got chills. never heard vocals like that before. so good. their music stood out too. i'm in the second MCC pic. coming in from right side directly across from Rob.

Tim said...

amen. Ressurection were one of my faves and definitely one of the main bands around when I was first getting into hardcore. I think Rob's take on the scene is pretty in line with how I remember that time. I also remember Rob sitting down and talk to me and my SXE friends about vegetarianism and corporate culture at some Middlesex show (Ressurection, Sheer Terror perhaps??) at a time when we were probably less than receptive to it. 108 with Vic and Rob was untouchable at the time. Great interview.

ML said...

ressurection did have some really good songs. it's too bad their recordings were so bad.

Anonymous said...

I actually forgot that first Scott Hall sh(maybe Judge?)ow.The first show was in my memory the allentown shows.But we were hungry for gigs and hanging around shows 'just in case' someone dropped out in those early days.I do remember that next day was the first time we met Turning Point.Someone (maybe Judge?) didn't show and T.P. was all there so they played a set that kicked ass.We became fast friends after that.Especially after realising that they (in jersey speak),only lived an exit away.The cover photo of the demo was taken there.We basically played the 'demo '88'-that was our set at the time.