Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Fred Hammer's Nardcore Top 10


Fred Hammer is Nardcore. We've been meaning to pick his brain on what he feels are the top ten Nardcore records of all time. Take it away Fred... -Gordo DCXX

1. Agression "Don't Be Mistaken" LP
The singer of Agression had a sister my age and she was in my English class in High School. She used to wear rare Agression t-shirts and I'd ask her "Hey, I want to buy one these shirts!" She would say "I'll ask my brother" but I knew it would never happen. Agression used to play ON the beach in Oxnard, CA and the singer was a heavy local surfer. The song 'Locals Only' talks about the 'Corner Store' which is a local 7-11 type store at the beach that is actually called 'The Corner Store' and is still there to this very day.

The song 'Secret Sex' was about a local older woman who would sleep with the singer when he was a young lad and I see her almost daily doing her daily walk at the beach. She also used to work at a local pizza place and when the band RIGHT IDEA drove through Oxnard, CA we ate at the pizza place and she was working and was telling the band about how she used to party hard and live with the Agression band members. I believe they were very impressed.

Agression are VERY respected in the Oxnard/Nardcore circles and they were very talented musicians also. R.I.P Agression band members. A band called 'Agression Session' still play around and the drummer of Agression and sometimes the original bass player jam on some songs.


2. Dr. Know "Plug In Jesus" 12"
The Bass player of Dr. Know (Ismael Hernandez) coined the term 'Nardcore'. OxNARD + hardCORE = NARDCORE. The guitarist of Dr. Know (Kyle Toucher) lived about a mile from me and I used to ride my BMX bicycle over to his house and watch them practice in the garage. Kyle Toucher was VERY smart and you could always tell he was a few steps ahead in everything he did.

I know Slayer and C.O.C. and a lot of other bands give Dr. Know a lot of credit in terms of inspiration, etc. A lot of people don't know that Brandon Cruz (who became a well known child actor) was in the original line-up of the band but left and that's when Kyle took over vocal duties and that's when they started recording and touring. Kyle's Mom taught at the local Catholic High School (Santa Clara High School/Oxnard, CA) and Kyle attended school there and told me that's where he got all the inspiration for all the songs off the 1st Dr. Know 12".

Kyle won some type of huge award a few years ago for creating special effects for TV/movies/etc. He still lives in the Oxnard area but doesn't like talking about the band. Dr. Know still plays shows with original members Ismael Hernandez and Brandon Cruz.


3. Ill Repute "What Happens Next" 12"
Ill Repute were always known as the local happy-go-lucky nice guys from the Nardcore scene. Always smiling and having a good time. In the 1980s they went on tour and the drummer couldn't go so they got Scott Radinsky (Scared Straight) to drum for them. The tour was going well until they got to the Detriot, MI area and had their van stolen with all their equipment, etc. The band wanted to keep going so they borrowed some guitars, etc. and bought a drum set from Toys-R-Us. They played a few shows but the drum set was the breaking point because it was a TOY set and really wasn't working. Ill Repute still plays shows every so often with the original line-up minus the drummer.


4. Stalag 13 "In Control" 12"
The guitarist Blake Cruz lived two doors from me and went to High School with my sister so I knew the band and would watch them practice and sometimes jump in the van and travel to shows with them. 2nd guitarist Dave Casillas went on to play in NOFX but was kicked out of the band for partying to much. I was at one practice and a couple band members started fighting each other and things got a little out of control.

I believe Stalag 13 was the first 'straight edge' West Coast band but the band was straight edge for about 4-6 months I believe. I see Blake Cruz almost daily at the beach and he always tells the local kids that Stalag 13 played with Minor Threat. Doesn't get much cooler than that. In the 1990s they got back together with a new singer and played some shows and recorded a new CD and in early 2000 sometime they got the original line-up back together and played some shows. The singer lives in Australia so there are no plans of them ever playing again.


5. RKL "Keep Laughing" LP
RKL was from the Santa Barbara, CA area (about 30 minutes north of Oxnard, CA) but were considered part of the Nardcore scene. Ismael Hernandez of Dr. Know told me recently that RKL was always bugging him and his friends back in the day "Hey, please come watch my band RKL practice!" Ismael always said "Ok, ok, maybe soon." Ismael said when he checked them out he was like "WOW, THESE KIDS CAN PLAY!!!"

The band liked to party hard and most of the band members ended up passing away. The song 'Ded Teds' was about a local guy in Santa Barbara, CA that had a party house that the band would always hang out at. I ran into Ted about 5 years ago and he was in a wheelchair (I did not know him back in the day, so I don't know if he was always in a wheelchair) and he was a real nice guy who was telling me about crazy party stories back in the day.

Dave Mandel (Indecision Records) and I saw RKL one night and a big fight broke out on stage and the band kept playing and the band members would punch/kick people in the fight on stage and never missed a lick while they were playing. One dude was caught in a headlock and the singer would bash one of the dudes in the head with the microphine between singing. Most of the Nardcore bands got ripped off by Mystic Records but in the end just laughed it off and were glad to put out records/tour/etc., but RKL was very very very angry at Mystic Records and would speak about it anytime you would ask them and I know for a fact that the owners of Mystic Records stayed clear of RKL.

6. False Confession 7"
A few of the guys in False Confession dressed in the 'Death Rock/Goth' style before it became mainstream and Scotty Morris of the band later went on to form the swing band Big Bad Voodoo Daddy that ended up playing in the Superbowl half-time show a few years ago. Guitarist Fred Matatquin went on to be a hairstylist and for some reason I always called him 'Harry' (drummer for False Confession) and he would always say "We have the same name, why are you always calling me Harry???" Harry went on to play in the Cramps for a number of years. I saw a flyer for a False Confession show a few months ago but I never figured out if it was a joke or just one of the band members playing a random show.

7. In Control "Another Year" LP
The dudes in In Control really put Nardcore back on the map in the late 1990s/early 2000. They all went to Oxnard High School and were living/breathing the Nardcore scene day in and day out. They took their name from the Stalag 13 12". Blake Cruz of Stalag 13 even asked to join the band at one point. I went on the first In Control USA tour and an average of about 20 people showed up at each show but they kept on plugging away when I think most bands would crack.

They got a TON of new Oxnard kids involved with the Nardcore scene and always gave respect to the all the founding members of the scene. They played a few reunion shows recently and the singer has a new band called Retaliate. The drummer also played guitar/drums in Annihilation Time. The cover of the first In Control LP is a photo of the two largest buildings in Oxnard, CA and can be seen from the 101 freeway if you drive by Oxnard.

8. Scared Straight 7"
A lot of people call this the 'Born To Be Wild' 7". Vocalist Scott Radinsky was a professional baseball player who played for the Dodgers, etc. He also owns a really cool indoor skateboard park called Skatelab in Simi Valley, CA. None of the members were from Oxnard, CA, but just like RKL were considered members of Nardcore.

The Scared Straight 7"/LP really flew under the radar but are really good records. A riot broke out at a Bad Brains/Dr. Know show many moons ago and Scott Radinsky picked me up like a suitcase and carried me to safety. Scared Straight broke up many years ago and I doubt they will ever play again. Drummer Brian Walsby did a lot of artwork for the Nardcore scene and still does art today including the artwork for the Triple Threat LP.

9. V/A: Nardcore (A compilation of hardcore bands from Oxnard and neighboring lands) LP
I wanted to put this near the top of the list but I figured it was a compilation and not a band. I loved this record and would play it for hours. The original pressing came with a booklet with info on the bands, etc. Rat Pack was a band that was made up during the recording of this LP because a dude named Matt was hanging out at the recording and wanted to be on the LP so he recruited some people and made up a band on the spot. AFU was a Nardcore band that only played a few shows and appeared on this LP. Mystic Records recently re-released this LP that comes with a bonus CD with the 7 inches by Scared Straight, False Confession, Rat Pack, etc. but the LP has no booklet and Mystic Records took off the 'Produced by Tony Cortez (Ill Repute)' off the back artwork.

10. (Insert your favorite local band from the town you grew up in because it's all about the local bands that inspired you to love music and be involved with your local scene!!!)



Anonymous said...

Great list and topped off with one of my all-time favorites...Don't Be Mistaken!!!

Nick said...

I worked with Ron, the original Stalag 13 singer at the University of Melbourne for a bit a few years back - he's a cool guy. Super nice.

Angryaholic said...

Now THAT is the way to do a top ten! EPIC!

jbanks said...

Nice going Fred.

This list and these bands -- truly the soundtrack of punk rock for me as a Southern California punk rocker. These bands always gave me such a different vibe and sound compared to the NY/DC/Boston stuff.

I am constantly humming something from this list to myself to this day, every day, multiple times a day.

Thanks Fred. I am on the same page with you on this one.


what happen next said...

fuckin' great records, total classic american hardcore punk. the ill repute album is my favourite. i was lucky enough to know the rkl guys, they were in my town for holidays, we forced them to play a gig, they were drunk as hell but they played an awesome set, all that was in the summer of '93; it's pretty sad that some of them are dead, r.i.p. jason sears. long live nardcore!!!

Ben Edge said...

Agression is where they belong - in the #1 slot. Nice work, Fred.

Scared Straight didn't break up. They changed their name to Ten Foot Pole sometime around '93, because they were tired of people thinking they were a straight edge band. Then Scott quit the band and the guitarist took over on lead vocal duties. They still occasionally play.

ShayKM said...

Nice list... most of us who were there have our own lists worked out from ringing ears, split lips, and sore jaws. As a kid from the SB scene, I have to put my two cents on RKL as the best of all these bands. They were simply the best musicians to come out of the punk scene in those early days. Every album they did was heads above most punk/HC bands. The problem is that they were just always fucked up. The SB scene was pretty negative as a whole due to the drugs/violence/drinking. Despite this, and despite my being militantly straight edge and thus a pariah in that scene, I still think RKL have never had their due. Bomber Mazulo may have been the best punk/HC drummer ever (in addition to playing fierce bass and guitar). He was RKL! No joke!

By the way, Tedd was in a wheelchair back in the day - and he was always the coolest guy in the punk scene... has a heart larger than the sun.

Anonymous said...

ShayKM = Kent McClard? Just curious.

ShayKM said...

No, definitely not Kent. But he was a friend from later years in that scene. Kent was originally from Idaho. A UCSB student. There were always very different crowds in the CA scene depending on whether you were a local or not. Kent is a good guy, though I haven't seen him in years.

RKL were around long before the SB scene became famous for other bands I need not mention. Let me just harp a bit more on my previous point: Bomber was a sick drummer! Just watching him play made kids want to learn any instrument. All the members were great musicians, but listening to Bomber play live was almost surreal. They would play circles around touring bands.

Anonymous said...

Ill Repute - better than Minor Threat.

Anonymous said...

Dr Know is the only one of those bands that still holds up for me. Their sound was so cool and different from anything else at the time.

Jan said...

concerning RKL:
i did a memorial special about RKL in 2007 for the german trust fanzine and it was reprinted in english (and with different layout and shorter) inside Los Angeles Fanzine calles RAZORCAKE.

you can read it online on the RKL myspace page, link here:

- click
and then on new RKL & RELATED INTERVIEW

even more direct link:

it was done with all still alive members i could reach plus bombers mother, old labels and so on:

-Barry (guitar player),
-Lil joe (sickest bass player all around),
-bombers mother,
-doug from Mystic Records
- mark from Alchemy Records
- words from fat mike / nofx
- Archie Alert, Destiny Booking (german rkl booker)
- Helge Schreiber, Plastic Bomb Fanzine
An Evening in Bielefeld with RKL in the eighties

Anonymous said...

Awesome article from HC legend and respected UG poster Fred Hammer!

Anonymous said...

Oh, and I'm guessing most will disagree, but I thought "Rags To Riches" was the best RKL record-- totally 'hard rock', but so, so tight, and still punk as fuck on the inside.

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