Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Russ Iglay - Underdog part II

Zev and Richie with Underdog at The Stone Pony, Photo: Ken Salerno

Derek Rinaldi's piece on Underdog and interview with Russ continues in this second part... -Gordo DCXX

So you were out of Murphy’s Law how long before forming UNDERDOG?

About a week.

And now the fist UNDERDOG lineup includes...

Richie, Myself, Greg Pierce and Danny Derella.

Dean with Underdog at City Gardens, Trenton, NJ, Photo: Ken Salerno

When does Dean come into the picture?

Well, Greg only played in UNDERDOG a few months and then after recording the seven inch, he moved to Florida...I think to attend college. We were trying out a bunch of drummers. Ernie from Token Entry played a show or two. Dean was already playing in Good Humor and it just made sense to steal him. He actually played in both bands until we started touring and from then on, it was just UNDERDOG.

After a while there was some shifting in the guitar personnel...

Well, we added Arthur as a second guitarist and the sound was really amazing. Eventually, Danny left the band and we toured with Arthur. Arthur was a bit more serious than the rest of us. On tour there was a lot of horsing around - like fun tour stuff which Arthur really wasn’t into. So once we got back from that tour, Arthur was gone.

Chuck, Russ and Richie with Underdog at City Gardens, Photo: Ken Salerno

Enter Chuck Treece?

Yeah, I met Chuck through Tom Groholski and I had known about Chuck’s musical resume and he skated so it was a good fit.

And this is 1989?


Russ with Underdog at The Stone Pony, Asbury Park, NJ, Photo: Ken Salerno

That’s same year you guys were featured on Thrasher Magazine’s Skate Rock Volume 7. The bands on that release were hand picked by Pushead right?

Yeah, I was talking to him a couple of times a week for a while leading up to that. I was bummed because this was the first in the Skate Rock series that came out exclusively on cassette and not on vinyl as well, which was a bummer.

So Vanishing Point is released and the band heads on tour with yourself, Richie, Dean and Chuck?

Yeah, that was the line up for that tour. Once we came home from that tour, that was pretty much the end of UNDERDOG. We dropped Chuck off at Penn Station, he headed for Philly and the rest of us went our separate ways.

And that was it until 1998?

There was nothing happening with the band at all until we re-released the songs for Go-Kart Records in 1998 and our friend Tim Borer booked us on the Alive And Well bill that took place at Convention Hall in Asbury Park.

Underdog sing along at City Gardens, Trenton, NJ, Photo: Ken Salerno

Then the tour?

Yes, then he booked our tour to support that release. This was the first time UNDERDOG toured without Dean, who was busy making babies. So we went on tour with Jay from American Standard on drums and Matt Dolan on guitar.

So now, you’ve got a head full of steam and the band is back together. Everyone is into the songs again. What happens next?

The way it was...or I was going, it wasn’t going to last. I was partying way too much and making that a priority over everything else. The fact that things have been going so well with UNDERDOG lately is directly contributed to me being sober.

Richie and Russ with Underdog in 2010 at The Stone Pony, Photo: Ken Salerno

Then you go from 1998 until 2005 before playing again?

We were asked to reform and play the first of a series of benefit shows for CBGB. We were on the bill with Killing Time and were back to the original lineup of myself, Richie, Matt and Dean. A year later we played with Bad Brains and The Stimulators for one of the closing shows for the club.

From this point on you guys are raising families, working, and just playing shows ala carte?

Right, I mean we took a trip to Japan for the Magma Festival in 2007, I think. Then the Burning Fight Festival in Chicago in 2008, but for the most part just local shows and one-offs.

Richie and Russ at City Gardens, 1989, Photo: Ken Salerno

Now it’s 2010 and you’ve got a new relationship with Bridge Nine Records, how did that come about?

This whole Bridge Nine thing came up when we got asked to play the Burning Fight festival in Chicago. Jim Grimes, the organizer, had contacted us about playing even though we weren’t really making music in the nineties.

Our friend Scooter, who was on tour with us, had introduced me to the owner of Bridge Nine, Chris Wrenn. At the time we were working with Revelation Records to release an UNDERDOG discography. Chris was bummed at not having a chance to do the discography but gave me his card and told me to call him if they could do something with the band in the future.

A couple months went by and things were still moving very slow with Revelation (that was both of our faults) and it had been about two years since the idea was first brought up. So one day, I just emailed Chris at Bridge Nine and asked him to give me a call...he called me hours later and the rest is history.

What did you like most about Bridge Nine?

Once I got home from that trip in Chicago, I started looking a their website. They had a small group of bands that they pushed really hard and they seemed to have a lot of momentum. Chris called back about two hours later after I first e-mailed him and we worked it all out. They were real strict with their deadlines and they pushed me to get my submissions in on time. It was very motivating.

Twenty-five years later the UNDERDOG story continues. Some of the founding members still skate, still surf, still get together on occasion for a show or two. The number of UNDERDOG offspring has hit nine. At this rate if they continue playing, they’ll have a full staff of press and marketing people right at home.

After all, it’s the families that have proven to be each member's priority and the reason that making, recording and touring for new music is almost impossible - and they wouldn’t have it any other way.

Dean with Underdog in 1989, Photo: Ken Salerno

So...any chance of a future UNDERDOG release with new songs? “Those songs, those early songs are what has defined UNDERDOG” says Iglay. “It’s what every person that comes to see us wants to hear. Why change that? If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. It’s that simple.”

That, my dear friends, is the story of UNDERDOG, plain and simple.
Happy 25th Anniversary, punks. -Derek Rinaldi

Russ with Underdog at The Stone Pony, 2010, Photo: Ken Salerno


Anonymous said...

Had the potential to be a much better interview.

mikebythesun said...

I, for one, enjoyed the interview. Its very inspiring to see these guys, who are a little older than I am, still doing it while maintaining their families and normal career lives. That's what its all about.

Brett Hardware said...

Underdog at the Belmar Elks Club in July of 1988 was a life changing show for me (and I suspect a lot of other kids from the Shore). I still have the shirt I bought that night.

Anonymous said...

Elks show ruled.
I would've liked to have seen more info about Richie leaving to be in YOT and Carl coming in then leaving. Some good stories there, I'm sure.

Anonymous said...

good read.....but far from a comprehensive interview.

Anonymous said...

I really liked the first half of the interview posted a couple weeks ago. This half just wasn't that good. OK interview overall, oh well.

Oscar said...

So...any chance of a future UNDERDOG release with new songs? “Those songs, those early songs are what has defined UNDERDOG” says Iglay. “It’s what every person that comes to see us wants to hear. Why change that? If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. It’s that simple.”

BORING!!! It is broke!

What a joke...greatest hits bullshit.