Rob with Release in DC, Photo courtesy of: Greg Shafer
When we first started Double Cross two years back, one of my original goals was to get an all encompassing, comprehensive interview with Rob Fish. Not only is Rob a guy who holds very little back, which makes for a great read, but he has also been doing hardcore bands for the better part of twenty something years. Whether it's the late 80's with Release, the early 90's with Ressurection and 108, the late 90's with the Judas Factor or the 2000's again with 108, if you've been around, chances are that you're well aware of Rob and at least one of his bands.
I first met Rob sometime during the summer of 1989, he was playing in Release and I was doing Common Sense Fanzine. At the time, Release were one of my favorite hardcore bands happening in New Jersey. A year or so later my band Mouthpiece ended up playing one of Release's last shows and I remember talking to Rob quite a bit that night. From there on out, Rob and I ended up keeping in touch. From those Release days and into the early days of Ressurection, Rob really became a huge influence and inspiration to me. Not only was I way into the bands he was doing and had done, but I really respected and appreciated his dedication to hardcore and straight edge through the dark days of the early 90's. Some people tend to credit Mouthpiece for emerging out of those dark days and waving that straight edge flag high when it wasn't the cool thing to do, but trust me, Rob was a major catalyst for what I went on to do.
So without any further delay, here's part one of our interview with Rob Fish. Expect many installments of this massive interview, covering the New Jersey Straight Edge, Release, Ressurection, 108, The Judas Factor, and more. Thanks Rob! -Tim DCXX
Release at The Anthrax, Norwalk, CT., 7/7/1989, Photo courtesy of: Greg Shafer
When and how did you discover punk/hardcore and what drew you to it?
I first got glimpses of punk/hardcore in 6th and 7th grade through friends that started getting into skateboarding as well as just listening to college radio. Hip hop, which was the music I was into at the time, wasn't on mainstream stations. On the college stations I got a glimpse of punk here and there, but at that point I just wasn't all that interested as I had no idea what it was about.
On my fist day of High School in 1985 I had a woodshop class with this kid I knew when I was younger who had become a total metalhead. We talked about music and as we described what it was we loved about the music we listened to we found a ton in common even though musically speaking you would have thought we were in different universes. I really believe that at that time, punk, metal and hip hop were incredibly similar as they all were, in some sense, youth protest music. Of course the sounds and social settings were rather different but in essence they were incredibly similar.
Anyhow, the kid gave me a tape of Black Flag "The First Four Years" and the Damaged LP and that was that. From then on I was obsessed with punk. The social setting was much more akin to my life and there was also a social circle locally that I could tap into more so than with hip hop music.
Rob hits the Anthrax crowd with Release, Photo courtesy of: Greg Shafer
What were some of your early favorite bands and why?
Loved and still love most of these same bands both because sonically they were pretty damn amazing and emotionally they really helped me find and feel somewhat secure in exploring my emotions.
Black Flag - to this day Chavo is my favorite vocalist. There is a desperation and urgency in his voice that is just mind blowing to me. Musically Black Flag is just as primal as it gets.
Dead Kennedys - thinking man's punk rock. Perfect combination of music, politics, wit and humor.
Minor Threat - passionate, angry and thoughtful. As a young, confused and hurt kid Minor Threat gave me access to the whole idea of straight edge which was a good thing because things could have really gone south for me if I had entered into the world of drinking and drugs.
Rob and Scratch clean up some Release graffiti on the City Gardens wall, Photo courtesy of: Greg Shafer
What are some of your favorite memories from going to shows in those early days?
Excitement, fear, belonging - all wrapped in one. My first day of school, when my parents left, I jumped out of the window and tried to run home because I felt so awkward and out of place. I have always felt like that in most social situations. That didn't disappear going to shows but it was different because in many ways it felt like 90% of the people there felt the same alienation I did.
Even the first shows at CBGB's I went to, where I knew that someone could beat the shit out of me just because, I felt safe. I mean, at school everyone hates you and wants to kick your ass, or skateboarding down the street everyone hates you and wants to kick your ass. At CBGB's they might feel the same way towards you but ultimately there was this sense of community. There was a sense of "us against the world" even though the scene was so diverse and in many ways somewhat divided.
For example, I sincerely doubt many of the Sunset Park Skins wanted to hang out with me and they may very well have decided at any moment to pummel me - yet there was still a sense of belonging because if I were standing outside of CB's and someone from outside the scene were to say something, anything to me, those same kids would have reacted as if to protect their own. So while the scene may have been somewhat violent you still felt like you were a part of something and protected against the backdrop of a world where you felt like an outsider.
Release rock it in Maryland, Photo courtesy of: Greg Shafer
Thursday, April 1, 2010
Posted by DOUBLE CROSS at 9:53 PM