Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Harley Flanagan returns

Harley with the Cro-Mags at Fenders, Long Beach CA, 1987, Photo: KRK Dominguez

Love or hate it, Harley is back and we are happy to have him on board with us. Buckle up again and expect more where this came from.. -Gordo DCXX

Who was a great underrated band from the early HC scene?

Well as far as NY bands, I gotta give a shout to the influence of The Mob, Reagan Youth, Heart Attack, and Urban Waste. There was a few, I don't know if you could call them "hardcore" bands by definition back then, it was punk rock. Also, obviously I'd give a shout out to Agnostic Front and Kraut and so on.

But all of that didn't really didn't happen until after the Bad Brains came to town, and I don't think people will ever fully appreciate the Bad Brains. No matter how much props people give them...to have been there back in the day and seen it was something that cannot really be described. They were like the fastest, tightest, most explosive punk band in the world. When I first knew them, they weren't hardcore, they weren't rastas, they were punk rockers, and they were the most intense thing ever.

There were a lot of great bands that I think laid down the foundation for what is happening today and ever since then. Circle Jerks, Black Flag, Minor Threat, Negative Approach. Even bands like Flipper were great, Suicidal Tendencies were great - there was a lot of great shit, and it all meshed together. As far as shows, one stand out show was the Bad Brains with Discharge, Circle Jerks, Bad Religion, and The Farts who were Duff from Guns 'N Roses' old punk band. That was at the Santa Monica Civic Center. But man those early 80's shows were great at A7 and CGBG's.

I think by the late 80s it started to get a little repetitive. Gentrification was in full effect and the LES was getting safer and safer - and duller and duller. At that point the shows were kind of full of clones. At best it was an imitation of something, not a continuation or a progression of it - just a bad copy. The only thing it really did I gotta say is that it kept it sorta going for a little while although even if in a watered down kinda way. But hey, at least the kids were having fun. Bands like Minor Threat for example, forget about straight edge and everything else for a minute, I mean east coast hardcore would not sound the way it did or does if it wasn't for them and Negative Approach.

Harley and Doug Holland, Best Wishes era Cro-Mags, Photo: KRK

I was lucky to be a part of all of that and friends with all of those guys, and I don't know whether people today like them or not, but Black Flag, Circle Jerks, Fear...shit, when they rolled through town we all learned a lot from them. That was the real shit, when punk started making the switch. D.O.A is another. Also bands like Faith and Void, oh my God Bubba Dupree, great guitarist, sick band live, high energy, chaos, great shows, the speed of the music, the explosiveness. The energy that some of these bands had live, even the sloppy crazy shit. That original Circle Jerks line up with Lucky on drums, Roger on bass, Greg and Keith...holy shit they were tight as shit!

Black Flag was total mayhem, noise, chaos and just an explosion from the beginning of one song to the next. You can watch all the old videos and dvds of all that old shit you want, but it will never do it the justice of being there or give you the feeling of seeing it and witnessing it. At the time, you knew it was something new, it was explosive even with what ever sloppiness and rawness there was - it didn't matter, it was real and it wasn't a copy of something. The energy was real, there was something pure about it, and you knew you were seeing something new.

I'm leaving out a lot of bands, there were so many from the east coast the west coast and in between. The Adolescents and so many others like Code Of Honor. I mean there was so many great band all across the country and even all the pre-HC stuff that led up to it like The Avengers, The Germs...all great shit.

In NY back then in the late 70's shit was a little more "artsy," Contortions, James Chance, Suicide...all kinds of weird shit. I mean we had all the old punk shit like The Dolls and Dead Boys and bands like The Blessed and shit, but really it was after the Bad Brains and all west coast bands and DC bands started rolling through, that's when our HC scene kind of started to get it together. It was a lot of The Stimulators and Bad Brains fans and shit that started turning into that first wave of NY hardcore kids. Ask Jimmy, kids like Robby Krytcrash and bands like the Beastie Boys were still hanging out but had not yet formed, at that point I was like "Yo I'm quitting The Stimulators and I'm starting some new shit." The west coast stuff and DC stuff was a little more ahead of the times - it was faster and it took NY a while to catch up, by '79 our scene was jumping and by 1980, 1981, 1982 NYHC was in full swing.

Harley brings it down with the Mags in California, Photo: KRK

I mean to me the only real similarity now is the look, and some of these kids still like all the old stuff and bands like Cro-Mags etc., so you still hear some of those riffs in there here and there, now they are just tuned down. But there has been 20-30 years of what we were doing to build on top of it and add on to it or copy it - it's not like it's something new or underground anymore or breaking new ground. Now you can just look it up on google it order it, go by it at the mall, copy it, get some tattoos...but back then, that was all first generation shit.

By the time we came out with the Age Of Quarrel LP people really just started totally cloning each other at least in NY anyway, it was almost like they didn't really know how to be a part of the scene without just copying each other. I mean even before AOQ it got to a point were you'd see all these new kids biting peoples' moves on the dance floor and biting peoples' looks. All of a sudden you had like 5-10 John Watson clones with his hair, his look, dancing like him and like 5-10 Jimmy clones doing the same thing, and 5-10 clones of me on the dance floor. Shit got corny kinda quick, and that was kind of like the end of the first era of NYHC or the end of the golden age of hardcore.

I mean there have been some great bands since then, bands like SOIA kept it going. I mean, SOIA, Biohazard and Madball are probably three of the best bands that come to mind to come out of NY since the old days, they put on a great show, they're tight as hell and I always enjoyed seeing them play. Leeway was good when they came out, there were some great songs on Born To Expire.

There was a few good bands here and there, and a few stand out cats - people like Djinji Brown from Absolution was a good front man. Over the years there has been some decent players here and there and a few stand out characters. I mean Joe Affe is a great guitarist, Jay Vento, Jorge from Merauder is one of the best singers to come out of NYHC. But all in all, it was few and far between, there hasn't really been too many bands over the last 20 years that have impressed me very much. It just seemed like shit was just more creative and less homogenized back in the day, there were more characters and less clones, there's always a few every generation, it just seems like less, or less genuine, I don't know.

Hardcore was started by kids who were into punk rock and other shit before there was hardcore. It wasn't started by hardcore kids because hardcore didn't exist yet, it was brand new. Now hardcore kids base their stuff on other "hardcore" stuff that already exists, so it gets a little generic at times - it's like a copy of a copy with a slight twist here and there.

I hate the Grateful Dead, but I'll compare it to people getting into the Grateful Dead AFTER Jerry died. It's funny, it's like people just discovering The Sex Pistols or something and thinking punk rock is something new like Blink 182 or whatever the fuck or discovering Green Day and not knowing who The Sex Pistols are. The smart ones who get over are the ones who know how to bite the good shit and hype themselves up like they are doing some new shit when it's all really just a bite and then they go out and get paid.

Harley and Doug with the Cro-Mags at Fenders, Photo: KRK Dominguez


Bill Case said...

FOCUS Harley, FOCUS! You answered an eleven word question with a fourteen paragraph answer and you still managed to NOT answer the question! Amazing!

ShayKM said...


Does anyone really want to hear more about how unoriginal we all are for not having been in NYC in '79?

Please turn off the Harley show!

I know HC/punk, we all know HC/punk... can he really add anything meaningful to what we already know?

Where are the new bands? Get some interviews with people we don't know enough about! Please!

Anonymous said...

Agreed... Harley's a snooZzzzzefest. LOL @ Bill's comment.

Anonymous said...

I third that motion! we all have heard it before "you werent there and youll never know" well guess what asshole im here now ..and your gone..and im having the time of my life..it me and my peers time to shine..and if all you can do is sit there and say the same old tired story then ill say this "john joseph IS and WAS the cro mags" you washed up snitch!(restraining orders? You and paris both?) Oh yea hare krsna!

Ben Edge said...

He actually likes Biohazard? That's gotta be a typo.

Onexlifexclevo said...

I didn't know writing a songs with only 3 different chords was considered original. I guess I don't know how to play guitar. This interview was dumb.

Anonymous said...






Dear Double Cross,
I completely respect this blogspot, and I completely respect the bands you guys were in and your dedication to hardcore. But I have to say you're insulting the intelligence of your readers. Please I beg of you do not post anymore anything regarding Harley, it's just embarrassing. I am a loyal reader and I look forward to what will be up here day after day but these posts are horrible. It's obvious I speak for a number of people. The only thing worth while was his mention of Bad Brains and I believe it's an unspoken agreement between EVERYONE in the hardcore past and present that Bad Brains were amazing, and were one of punk rock's major innovators.

So please please please please please please please please please no more Harley ever.... Unless him and Bloodclot are going to knuckle up like men, or shake hands and do a Cro Mags tour together.

Thanks again.

PS. I posted anonymous because I KNOW Harley could kick my ass, but I bet my S.A.T. scores were slightly higher.

Anonymous said...

Great interview. So many lame comments.

Ben Edge said...

The only thing worth while was his mention of The Mob, Reagan Youth, Heart Attack, Urban Waste, Bad Brains, Circle Jerks, Black Flag, Minor Threat, Negative Approach, Flipper, Suicidal Tendencies, Discharge, Bad Religion, The Fartz, Guns N' Roses, Fear, D.O.A., Faith, Void, The Adolescents, Code of Honor, The Avengers, The Germs, Contortions, James Chance, The New York Dolls, The Dead Boys, The Stimulators, Beastie Boys, Cro-Mags, Sick Of It All, Absolution, The Grateful Dead, and The Sex Pistols.

Yeah, he's got that "I was there - you weren't" attitude, aka Steven Blush Syndrome, but he's also seen and done a lot of interesting stuff. I'm willing to take the good with the bad.

Anonymous said...

Yea yea yea..how hard is it to drop a couple names? No storys about those bands youve mentioned...what a waste of time!

Anonymous said...

i like this interview and i like harley... hystory must be respected not judged. can't wait for the next piece of interview next week

hottdogg9000 said...

If you don't like it, don't read it. Harley is larger than life, deal with it. This site is about hardcore history, Harley is part of that. A lot of anonymous posts by the way, that says a lot.

Anonymous said...

we all agree on this:
doublecross is awesome blog

we all agree on this:
not everyone loves harley

keep posting these interviews...and if you dont like harley dont read it. there will still be more cool posts the next day on doublecross.

dsteve said...

he comes off a lot better in this part of the interview. its not like they are asking him these questions and expecting to the point answers. he has also had this attitude about punk/hardcore since 88 or 89, this is the kind of stuff he was saying since the Sold Out interview back in the day. also, void and soia props are pretty cool.

Scott said...

I like Harley. I like the Cro-Mags. I like John Joseph. I enjoy reading these segments however I fear that when his autobiography is finally released it will be interesting---but it may also be the length of an old encyclopedia set.

Volume 1 - "Harley Talks About Bands/Things That Begin with the Letter A" (1000 pages)

Volume 2 - "Harley Talks About Bands/Things That Begin With The Letter B" (1432 pages)


Keep the segments with Harley coming. They make me laugh if nothing else.

Anonymous said...

Biohazard? Sorry my man. they fucking blew back then, I'm sure they suck now.

Gordo DCXX said...

Thanks for all the comments and all are duly noted. I don't get too involved here because I think you guys as readers should be using this as your sounding board. That said...

RE: New bands/new content. DCXX has never intended to serve as a news source or to keep people in the loop with what's going on right now. That might sound weird, but really, this site was born out of a love for shit we have dissected for a long time and continue to dissect.

I think there are plenty of sites on the web that will keep you in the present 'know' better than we could. We've thrown in some new stuff here and there, but the funny thing is that new bands seem to be the worst with actually returning questions we've sent them.

We're always down for contributions on current stuff, yet we never get anybody submitting anything. That said, a goal of ours is to continue to get current HC on the site, so stay tuned. If you have a suggestion, email me! bcjordan1@gmail.com

RE: Harley on DCXX. Harley was down to answer questions, and while I suspected some would love and some would hate, it appears as though many people are still reading along no matter what. At the end of the day, if this isn't your cup of tea, skip it. Even if you love the Cro-Mags but don't want to hear from Harley, wouldn't you at least agree we are tossing you some cool photos in these entries?

RE: Harley's opinions. They are his opinions. We just wanted to give him a platform. We're not adopting them or trying to lay down any sort of Cro-Mags or NYHC history. DCXX is about people documenting their personal histories through their own eyes...agree or disagree.

RE: Diversity of content. We have been posting entries an average of 5 nights a week for well over two years here, while each of us has a mountain of other stuff going on outside of Double Cross. With that much content thus far, as well as our personal nightly time restraints to post stuff, it's tough to hide our love for certain bands and not repeat ourselves sometimes. We love the Cro-Mags, and I guess it shows. If you are looking for more diversity in content, please check out the archives...I'm pretty confident there's something in there you missed that is up your alley.

No matter what, thanks for reading, and I can guarentee you we'll keep trying to bring the good stuff.

Gordo DCXX

Angryaholic said...

Aces high Gordo!

adam said...

because you know, Harley NEVER ripped anyone else off or anyone else's style or was ever influenced by anyone else.

When he rambled on about Biohazard, Madball and Merrauder and that crap, you know he is and was completely out of touch with anything that didn't tour or ride the jock of his bands.

If you guys could just EDIT his features down to where the actual good content is and then go back to him and ask him to add more to it, these pieces would be good, but allowing him to just ramble on and talk about himself and how "you weren't there so you couldn't know" is just senseless.

he must have so many incredible stories to tell, you should be asking him about them, not just letting him freeform ramble on and on about how old school he is and letting him name drop his friends.

edit edit edit.

Tom said...

Gordo, great post.

I found myself thinking, "give me a fucking break" while reading Harley's comments. None of us can help when we're born (1975 for me) and none of us can help the fact that we discovered punk rock when we did. It should be enough, even for older dudes like Harley, that we did discover it at all and are trying to maintain the spirit of what a lot of us love.

In as far as cloning styles, I'm as guilty as anyone of us here (and the vast majority of us are). While I have grown out of that stage in my life, I think it's an homage to what came before and shouldn't be seen as ripping off. How does old adage go? "Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery"? Fuck, I still see kids--to me, literally--walking around here pretending that it's East L.A. in 1983 with their Suicidal Gear. While lame in some respects, it's still cool that kids like that stuff that much and want other people to know about it.

Anywho, I'm becoming my own Harley here. Keep 'em coming. And for those of you who can't stand the Harley posts, either don't read them, read them for historical purposes or take them worth a grain of salt and move along to the next thing.


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

June 2 at 11:05.............Harley posts anonymously, praising himself. Wow.

Gordo DCXX said...

Adam, I'll get right on that. From here on out, maybe I'll just write his entries myself. Or, at the very least, I'll send my edits of his answers to you so you can sign off on them first before we post that.

Anything else I can do for you (for free, in my free time, on a free blog)? Please let me know. Thanks!

Gordo DCXX

Spm said...

All you young 'hardcore' dudes who are bad ass on the Internet would not have lasted a second in the 80's.

Got news for you cowards : THERE IS NO HARDCORE ANYMORE

You kids missed it - Don't blame Harley.

In the 80's if someone wrote something derogatory or had a smart-ass remark in a zine - you'd have to answer for it in person. LIKE A MAN

Now you kids can go back WISHING you caught the real deal.

The new bands ?


Gordo - Keep the articles coming !
Nice site - Good work.

-A grouch

SPM said...

All you young 'hardcore' dudes who are bad ass on the Internet would not have lasted a second in the 80's.

Got news for you cowards : THERE IS NO HARDCORE ANYMORE

You kids missed it - Don't blame Harley.

In the 80's if someone wrote something derogatory or had a smart-ass remark in a zine - you'd have to answer for it in person. LIKE A MAN

Now you kids can go back WISHING you caught the real deal.

The new bands ?


Gordo - Keep the articles coming !
Nice site - Good work.

-A grouch

Anonymous said...

Cro Moly onions , better than livair or all those 90's corps any gibbon day

Anonymous said...

When you have had 30 plus years on the scene and you have been around so much HC and punk rock history, its almost impossible to answer a question about HC or Punk in one word or sentence. when you haven't done shit its easy to make comments, opinionated? Yes. But when you saw the real shit and then you have to endure tons and tons of imitations, what do you expect?
Most people and most bands suck, Hardcore has been nothing but a imitation of the past for years . You people are the ones who need to do something original

Anonymous said...

Harley is a scumbag. I'm surprised he didn't mention Fear Factory...

Anonymous said...

I would've thought that there would be a certain level of pride having been in a band that influenced & inspired most if not all of the New York bands who came up and carried the torch during that secondary wave in 87-91, rather than the whole clone angle.

I mean, there was plenty of originality and diversity during those years. Underdog didn't sound like Sick of It All. Token Entry didn't sound like Sheer Terror. Gorilla Biscuits didn't sound like Breakdown. Rest In Pieces didn't sound like Murphy's Law, etc, etc.

But then again, anybody who was part of any scene will usually tend to think that their scene was the best, so really no surprise there.

Anonymous said...

Is it better to go through life, loved and hated by many,
or to go through life completely unnoticed
like most of you?

Props to All the Old school Hardcore bands for starting this shit.

Fuck all the shit talkers

Anonymous said...

Maybe Underdog didn't sound like Sick of It All. Token Entry didn't sound like Sheer Terror. Gorilla Biscuits didn't sound like Breakdown. Rest In Pieces didn't sound like Murphy's Law, etc, etc.
But but half the bands you mentioned suck and the majority of the bands that came out around that time were bad, Not very talented and not very original. yeah there was a few here and there
but come on, its not like back when you had NA or minor threat Scream. Void or circle jerks black flag Misfits etc or Any of that first generation shit
back then even the stuff that wasnt good was at least original to some degree,

why dont you ask Rich or Russ from Underdog Or Paul from Sheer Terror Or Jimmy, I bet you they will tell you the same thing more or less, They were there.

SPM said...

''The only thing worse than being talked about Is NOT being talked about'' - Oscar Wilde

Anonymous said...

Harley, Just give it a rest and stop trying to post "anonymously".

Arne said...

"Anything else I can do for you (for free, in my free time, on a free blog)? "

Hardcore Punk Music: it was, is and will be all about the fame.

Anonymous said...

I don't have to ask them. I was there too, anonymous. I was onstage at CB's when my band would launch into "All Twisted", "Banned in DC" or "Life On My Own" to end our live sets. I watched as those 87-91 "clones" went bananas as we paid tribute to our influences and inspirations.

As Leeway would cover The Damned, GB would cover The Buzzcocks or Raw Deal would cover Negative Approach....etc, etc.

Yeah, I totally agree it's too bad that my generation just missed being able to see Circle Jerks, DK, Void, Scream, etc. Many of us were rocking pencil cases in the 6th grade. But hey, those are the breaks.

In the end, the 2nd wave 87-92 NYHC era were some of the best years of my life. I'm sure a lot of people "that were there" would agree, even if you might not. But that's cool too.

paul dordal's dog said...

june 2 at 11:15.....................An hipocrit posts anonimously, shitting himself. Wow.

Anonymous said...

june 2 at 3:48.....grammar and spelling cry.

Anonymous said...

Wish the Grateful Dead would have played a Sunday matinee back in 84. Would have been sick!

Anonymous said...

I was around in the late 80s and hardly ever saw him at shows checking out the new bands. The only time I would see him at a show was when he was playing with the Mags or occasionaly out front of CBs hanging out.

Anonymous said...

He's right you know. Put the Cro- Mags demo on and the rest of your record collection will run away in fear.

Thermonuclea Warria said...

No props for Pete Steele and Carnivore?? but dick ridin Biohazard.? Get ya head in the game Harley. Evan Seinfld is doin porn and cashin checks livin vicariously thru your image...

Tim (not McMahon) said...

Uh, Bill? He very clearly answered the question in his first sentence...

"Well as far as NY bands, I gotta give a shout to the influence of The Mob, Reagan Youth, Heart Attack, and Urban Waste."

Anonymous said...

june 2 at 4:09......SO FUCKIN' WHAT!!!.

there in 86 said...

As someone who was there back in the Mid Eighties I'd like to say that you cannot compare today's 'hardcore' with what went down back then.

Even if you have a big show at WEBSTER HALL - It ain't the 80's.
It ain't The Ritz.

Gotta have 27 'well known' bands on a bill to pack the joint when back in the old days CRO-MAGS alone could fill it.

Hey some of us missed Woodstock and Altamont - You kids today missed hardcore.


Lars said...

"Wish the Grateful Dead would have played a Sunday matinee back in 84. Would have been sick!"

I agree! Don't know if Jerry could have dealt with all the stagediving. But seriously, there has always been a weird HC/ Grateful Dead connection. From Black Flag to Killing Time, there have been a lot of closet Deadheads in the hardcore scene....