Mike Vallely, Brooklyn NY, 2010, Photo: Sean Cronan
Here's part two of our interview with skateboarding legend, Mike Vallely. Again Mike dives into his punk/hardcore history, shining light on a side of him that has rarely been discussed. Thanks to Mike and Larry and stay tuned for more that's surely on it's way. -Tim DCXX
What would you cite as stand out shows you saw early on? What were defining moments in a live setting that would influence you to want to do your own bands down the road? Who were your favorite frontmen?
The first show I ever saw was Black Flag at City Gardens in Trenton, NJ in October of 1984. That was it. That was the most defining moment of my life where in a way, the rest of my life was spelt out for me. That's when I knew I would pursue music in some fashion at some point, but more so that's when I knew that whatever I did for the rest of my life I would do it with intensity. That's what Black Flag was for me, specifically Henry Rollins...a lightning bolt of intensity that struck me down and lifted me up, and that intensified me for the rest of my life. I was fourteen years old and I was finally all the way alive. Black Flag at City Gardens was a door getting kicked wide open and I wasn't gonna miss the chance to walk through it. I was keenly aware that this was something important.
I'd say Henry obviously was and is one of my all-time favorite frontmen. I saw the Circle Jerks a few weeks later in New Brunswick at The Court Tavern and Keith Morris was great too in his own way. Those two shows were big for me for sure. And I saw a lot of other local shows with local bands playing like Bedlam and AOD and others. All great stuff but nothing could touch or match that Flag show.
As far as other frontmen go, I never saw Minor Threat play live but Ian was obviously a heavy, and Danzig too. I'd end up seeing both guys later on in other bands they did and they are both great performers. I've always liked Mike Ness too as far as punk rock frontmen go.
As far as all-time frontmen go I'd keep Rollins on my list but would add Bon Scott, Ronnie Van Zant, Paul Stanley and Roger Daltrey as well as The Boss and The King, I'm sure I'm forgetting a few others.
Invert at The Barn Ramp in New Jersey, 1985. Photo: Mike Spotte
In the skating world, who were other people you connected with based on love for punk/HC? Who was most into it, and who did you have the most in common with on a musical level? As the decade progressed, how did you see punk/HC fit into the landscape of skating?
The guys I skated with when I really became a full on skater weren't really that into punk. Things had really diversified in the skate scene by '86 and hip-hop, rock, heavy metal and punk were all sort of equal components of what we listened to. I stopped going to shows and skated more at that point and although I knew plenty of skaters that listened to punk, I didn't make that the basis of any relationship and I wasn't interested in being a "punk rock skater" or anything like that. I was all about just being me.
The music still mattered and I still loosely followed the evolution of the punk and hardcore scene but I was in no way about the punk or even the skate scene at that point. I was just about doing my own thing, that's what the skating and the music communicated to me...do your own thing. I was never interested in being a spectator to or a follower of anything.
Larry Ransom and Mike V at the private Vans ramp, 2010, Photo: Mark Choiniere
How many cool people involved in punk/HC bands did you meet via your skating? Who were people you came in contact with that you formed friendships with? Was there anyone in punk/HC you ended up being friends with through skating that you had never imagined?
Traveling all over the world for the past twenty three years or so, I've obviously met a lot of people who I've connected with through skating and music and the common ground they share. I can't tell you how many times I've met people from such and such a band who were fans of my skating and I unfortunately never heard of their band to later find out they are a big deal of sorts. But yea, no doubt there's a sort of connection there and I've been given more CDs and invited to more shows than I could ever listen to or attend. I love it. I think it's really cool to have that kind of connection with people.
My assistant Larry Ransom is a guy I met via skating and punk music. He was one of the first, if not the first guy to ever approach me with one of my original Powell Peralta Elephant decks in the mid-nineties for me to sign, long before skateboard collecting became a trend. That stood out. The next time I met him was at the first ever Mike V & The Rats show, he was working for Revelation Records then and we talked music. Then he came on tour with Mike V & The Rats to sell merch for us and we ended up talking about the Powell Peralta days in great detail. We just really hit it off and he's been involved in my skate career and my music in a very integral way since 2004 or so. Although he works for me, I'd definitely call him a friend and I'm glad to have gotten to know him and share many adventures with. We always have a good time and an amazing soundtrack.
I've also formed acquaintances with some of my early punk rock heroes like Rollins, Ian, Keith Morris, Mike Ness and others which has been cool. Meeting, befriending and performing with Greg Ginn was a pretty wild experience as well.
Mike V performing with Black Flag, Alex's Bar, Long Beach, CA. Photo: Mark Waters
What were and are your thoughts on straight edge, both on a personal level and as a larger subculture? How did this tie into your skating and some of the destructive things you saw around you with other skaters, or anywhere in society for that matter?
Straight Edge was something very meaningful in my life at a very important time in my life. I was never one of the boys. I was never into the locker room talk and all that bullshit. It seemed very obvious to me throughout middle school and going into high school that most of the kids around me saw drugs, alcohol, cigarettes and sex as the only real rites of passage available to them - or worse, as the only real destination for their post childhood lives. Man, that was never something I was interested in. It just seemed so small time.
But at the same time it was hard to navigate one's way through it - that shit was always there. That's what I hate about drugs and alcohol and meaningless sex. It is the trade of those who are so uninspired to do anything else with their lives, of those who hate their lives. I wanted to do something with my life and I loved my life fiercely, so I saw drugs and alcohol as mindless distractions. When I discovered the music of Minor Threat I suddenly had music that further justified my thoughts and feelings with a slogan and mantra. Back then, at that time, that was really fucking important. So for me at the age of fourteen, straight edge emboldened me further to follow my own path.
But then like the skate and music scene, straight edge as a scene or as a movement really didn't inspire me. Once again, it just seemed like other people making and trying to enforce rules of living, codes of conduct and that kind of shit and I wasn't interested in that. I was and am only interested in leading an authentic life of original experience, I didn't want or need anyone to interpret anything for me. Straight Edge began feeling like a religion and I fucking hated and hate religion. Like, if I drank a beer or broke a commandment I was going to go to hell or something idiotic like that. People cling to crazy shit and I've been as guilty at times as the rest, but it definitely became clear to me that straight edge was becoming something impure and cult like and it stopped speaking to me.
The music still speaks to me for what it is...but I'm not a part of any group of people. I would never call myself a Christian or an American or straight edge, I have no interest at all because you know why? I'm none of those things. I'm me.
Mike V and Ian MacKaye at the Dischord House, 2001, Photo courtesy of Mike V.
By the end of the 1980s, were there any new punk and HC bands you were following? Things had obviously changed from 1985...what types of differences were there in the punk/HC culture compared to when you first found it? Were these for better or worse in your eyes?
I really got into Fugazi in a big way. That was the first band since I'd discovered punk and since I'd discovered Metallica that impacted me in any real way. I also listened to Shelter which I really liked for what it was. You know I've always connected with music on some emotional level so I could listen to Shelter and hear what I wanted to hear and it was a time in my life where I was searching for something more, so there was some emotional connection there. Intellectually, I probably couldn't relate with it but there was something there. I really, really dug the first two Danzig records too.
At a certain point good music is just good music. I mean now, I still listen to all three bands but I'm not really into any of them in any profound way. I'd say Fugazi and Danzig put on some of the best live shows I've ever seen and that I'm a fan of both bands still, but I wouldn't say that their music is integral to who I am in any way. I guess that's why Black Flag has always remained one of my favorite bands. Their songs are timeless, they deal with raw personal feelings and emotions and are all about saying Fuck You to the status quo. That shit just stands up better.
The early nineties hardcore scene looked like a bunch of guys all wearing the same costume. I was not into it at all. I mean, obviously great bands were killing it then and it was an important time for a lot of kids who were getting into the music, but I had moved on. It no longer spoke to me. It no longer mattered to me as an individual.
Ian MacKaye and his skateboard, 2001. Photo by Mike V.
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Danzig at City Gardens, Trenton NJ, Photo: Ken Salerno
DCXX Reader David Dingman linked us to this awesome little write up on Danzig and the famed Danzig logo. Even if you know the backstory, this has some cool details you probably haven't heard. And be sure to read the comments for more Danzig nerding... -Gordo DCXX
Eerie and Glenn with Danzig at City Gardens, Photo: Ken Salerno
Monday, April 26, 2010
Mike Ness with that classic Ness jump at City Gardens, Trenton NJ, Photo: Ken Salerno
Original Vision drummer / pro skater / writer, Derek Rinaldi contributes to us a piece on Social Distortion, while Derek's buddy, Ken Salerno, contributes the photos. Thanks to Derek and Ken as always. -Tim DCXX
The stage is set. The scene: Warped Tour 1997 Asbury Park, New Jersey. Thousands of festival goers have been corralled like cattle, back and forth from main stage to side stage to the inside stage of the Stone Pony and its immediate surroundings. Shadowed by the never completed concrete spine of C8, a project so destined to failed that they never even bothered to name it. Its moniker is derived merely from its place on the tax map of a city by the sea which time had seemingly either forgot, or just decided to let go.
In waltzes the Warped Tour - and the social climate of American culture, skateboarding and even punk rock was about to change. The underground was coming up for air, and what better closing act for an event such as this was one of the bands who started it all. All eyes are focused on the main stage as the final member of the headliner ascends in front of the crowd. Mike Ness stands in charge of Social Distortion, at the time slowly encroaching on a 20 year career which had just about seen and done it all. And now, perhaps, it was all going to be just a little different. Ness was once quoted as saying that the Warped Tour “Was the beginning of what it is now for us. It was the beginning of us not just playing for the old fans who had been following Social Distortion for so many years. It was like, let's try to get some of these kids hip to us too because they’re the future.”
Social Distortion at City Gardens, Trenton NJ, Photo: Ken Salerno
Fast forward to 2010 and while there are other bands out there that have been around for 30 years, few have remained as relevant to their core audience and have held as tight to their purpose as Social Distortion. We could only hope that future punk bands can endure, persevere and survive that long. From a garage in Orange County in 1979, there was no sure way to predict the road ahead. Drug use, jail time and untimely deaths were the tragic subplots to a script that has lead Social Distortion to the end and back.
It has been inspirational and at times tragic but it has never been synthetic. The music has transcended rock, country and blues but after all this time it’s still punk. That makes it ours, for all of us and that’s how you stay relevant after 30 years. - Derek Rinaldi
“So take me down the road/ Take me to the show/ It's something to believe in/ That no one else knows/ But don't take me for granted” - Don’t Take Me For Granted
Mike Ness plays it for the Trenton crowd, Photo: Ken Salerno
Mommy's Little Monster - 143
White Light, White Heat, White Trash - 51
Social Distortion - 36
Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell - 23
Sex, Love and Rock 'n' Roll - 15
Prison Bound - 12
Social Distortion, another city left buried behind, Photo: Ken Salerno
Thursday, April 22, 2010
Rob with 108 at the Burning Fight release show in Chicago, Photo: Matt Miller
Talk about the early days and memories of 108. Were you a fan of what Vic had done with his previous bands, Beyond and Inside Out? What were you hoping to do differently with 108 that you weren't doing with Ressurection?
Ressurection played a show with Worlds Collide, No Escape and Lifetime in Atlantic City. 108 had just formed and played a few songs before Worlds Collide. The first singer, although an awesome person, just wasn't good, at all. Vic and I knew one another as Shelter eventually moved to the temple I had been living in and we were roommates for some time. We had met through letters a few years prior when he wrote me based on some things I said in an interview about Karma, Krishna and all that stuff.
Anyhow the day after the show Vic called and asked me to join 108. I was apprehensive. I remember Ari, Dan Y. and Scott from Lifetime really encouraging me to do it as everyone saw the potential of the songs when we played together. There was a lot about Krishna that I really felt drawn to but parts I felt very adverse to. Still, the good outweighed the bad and as Vic was a bit of a loose cannon I felt okay about joining the band as long as he understood that I was anything but a model devotee.
A few weeks later I was in DC recording songs I had never heard. We spent an hour or so in the studio and went back to the place Vic was staying. A Swami called and I answered the phone. He began asking me when I was shaving my head and moving to the temple and I hung up and got the hell out of there. Over the next 9 months Vic convinced me that I didn't need to worry about that stuff and we planned a tour after the conclusion of the Ressurection/Lifetime US tour. I got back from tour and had no place to live and was getting more and more depressed and confused and the day I was to leave for tour I just decided I wasn't going. No phone call, letter or nothing. Real asshole move on my part but that is where I was. I showed up at their second show of the tour, in Connecticut, and it was really bad. I hitched a ride with them to a rather insane Krishna Farm in West Virginia when Vic told me he was breaking up 108 and moving to India.
A year later he was back in the US and thinking of starting 108 again. I called him and we decided to do it and that was when I sat down with Ray to resolve our shit and that was that. A few weeks later we went on a 5 1/2 month tour of the US with Shelter.
As far as Vic's other bands, I thought Beyond was amazing. I dug Inside Out too although when I had a choice of seeing Shelter/Quicksand/Inside Out in Pennsylvania, NJ and Connecticut or to drive 18 hours to Tampa to see Prong, I chose the 18 hours in the car to see Prong - so my interest in Inside Out wasn't huge. Still, I thought he was an amazing guitar player and a cool enough dude.
As far as how 108 would work with me also doing Ressurection, I think I saw them as having two different purposes. Ressurection was more emotionally expressive for me while 108 was more my way of channeling all of the questions and strange philosophical questions and dynamics I was working my way through. To me doing both bands simultaneously made complete sense.
108 in Oslo Norway, 1995, Photo: Ole Peterson
108 went through and has sort of continued to go through a lot of different line-up changes, yet you and Vic have always been a mainstay. Talk about what each of you bring to and have brought to the band, your differences, your similarities and the dynamics of your friendship and working relationship. (Ed. Note: this question was asked before Rob recently left 108).
Well early on I would say Vic and I were as much united by what we disliked about things as the common interests we held. We are very, very different personalities. Emotionally, intellectually and practically - just very different. We both dug aspects of Krishna consciousness but seemed to bond more over what we disliked about the whole Krishna movement, Shelter and other things more than anything else. I think he dug me more when he saw me yelling and cursing out Ray than for any other reason. We would do things together just to piss people off. That was our bond back then.
Today it is different. We are still very different personalities emotionally, intellectually and practically and I am not sure we could ever, or at least I could ever, articulate what our common ground is other than we are both on these strange trippy journeys that involve an attraction to Radha and Krishna. Vic is really out there and hard for me to pin down. Triv complimented the two of us very well. Triv is the craziest person I have ever met and an amazing musician. He may even make Vic look rather straight laced in most respects.
108 broke up for quite some time, but unlike most bands that break up and reunite, you guys seemed to have set out to do more than live on your past glories. You've toured a lot, you've written and recorded a lot of new material and you've made the band all about the here and now. Was this all a thought out and conscious decision when putting the band back together or is it simply the way things naturally progressed? Also, how does all the touring and band activity affect your career and family life?
Well up until 108's first show back I HATED reunions for bands that were statement or cause-specific because how often do we hold those same statements and causes true years later? We got offered shows every year, a few times for very large sums of money and I never had an interest because my heart wasn't in that space. A show for a good cause was one thing, but otherwise it felt like it would be a betrayal of myself. I remember I wrote a song about that feeling as well as the feeling towards those bands looking to recreate the 80s when I wrote a song for The Judas Factor called Boring High School Cover Band.
Anyhow, around 2005 I found myself a bit disturbed by the fact that my memories of 108 were so scarred by the emotional shit I was going through at the time and also in some respects about how people misunderstood the point of the band. Like I said earlier when I sang a 108 song in the 90s it wasn't about "you" or "them." It was about me and for me. So when we got asked to play Hellfest in 2005 I felt as if it would be good for me to take back a part of my life that was largely overshadowed by the shit I was going through at the time, and also to address my feelings in terms of how people understood 108. We were giving every penny to a cool charity and it just felt right.
Triv, Vic and I hadn't been in a room together since our last show and the next thing I knew we were in a room together and just staring at one another. As soon as we started playing it felt as if we had never stopped. Through all of the drama that unfolded around Hellfest being cancelled and us playing those two shows in its place, I still walked away feeling great about it and we all felt like we wanted to play together again - although none of us were sure it would be as 108. After months of discussion about what 108 meant to all of us individually and collectively, we decided that there was more we wanted to do with 108 and how we were understood, perceived and how that all played into who were were/are today, as well as things we wanted to express as a collective unit. The key point was that it wasn't going to be about yesterday. Songs that made sense to us today would be played, those that didn't wouldn't be played, and that it would be about continuing the evolution of 108, which is the journey of the individuals in the band and how they tie together collectively, and where it has led us to thus far and moving forward.
If we couldn't find that voice we just wouldn't do the band. We found it and that is that. If 108 was just going to be about songs we wrote in the early 90s, I never would have done it outside of the initial benefit show.
In terms of how we did it, we certainly don't have an ideal setting. We live in different parts of the world, have families, careers and all that. We did it when it makes sense and there is no pressure. We all write songs and know when something would work within the 108 dynamic and we get together once a year for two or three days to write new songs/records and play with old material. We then record and tour 3-4 weeks throughout a year. After getting back together we have recorded two LP's, toured and played throughout the US, Europe and South America.
108 in Chile, 4/20/2008, Photo: Gary Go
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
One of the most famous zines of all time, Flipside has been reincarnated for 2010, now as a full interactive e-zine with TONS of cool content. Joe Henderson has been a key piece of DCXX from day one and we urge everyone to check out www.flipside2010.com to download (for free) the new issue, and check out what they have going on. From interviews to videos to photos and more, be sure to have a look. It's great to have such a landmark name in punk/HC back in some format. -DCXX
DOWNLOAD FLIPSIDE 2010 HERE
Skeeter Thompson and Pete Stahl with Scream in So Cal, 2010, Photo: Joe Henderson
Clint Walsh and Skeeter Thompson with Scream, Photo: Joe Henderson
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Mike Vallely's first Thrasher cover, August 1986
Growing up as a skateboarder in New Jersey, through the mid to late 80's, Mike Vallely was THE skater that a lot of us Jersey guys looked up to. Not only was Mike from New Jersey and skating for Powell Peralta, the best team/company in the business, but he had a street skating style that was all his own. Here in Jersey we didn't have the bowls, skateparks and surplus of giant half pipes in every back yard, so the streets and parking lots were our turf. Mike Vallely took every curb, step, parking block, loading dock, wall, railing, beat up street ramp, made it look like the coolest and funnest thing to skate and of course we all followed suit. I specifically remember Mike's step by step on how to do a no-comply over a parking block in Thrasher, then seeing a crew of 10 of us trying to emulate it in a suburban shopping mall parking lot. No question, Mike was an innovator, a guy who played by his own rules and hit it hard every time, all the time.
Summer 2006 I get a call from my friend Larry Ransom who interestingly enough, found himself working as Mike Vallely's personal assistant. Mike was about to hit the east coast on a skate demo / band tour for his band Revolution Mother and they needed a merch guy. Larry asked if I'd be interested in spending a week on the road dishing merch and lugging equipment and I couldn't say no. I'll never forget the night after the first demo and show, hanging out in a hotel room with Mike and Larry and asking Mike a million questions well into the AM. What was it like filming the Blue Tile Lounge scene in The Search For Animal Chin? Why did Stacy Peralta have you running through a grave yard in Public Domain? What were all the color variations of your first Powell deck? Who did the artwork for the World Industries Barnyard board? Trust me, the questions kept coming as did the answers and I felt like a 12 year old kid all over again. That entire road trip was a good time and on top of everything I thought I knew about Mike, he turned out to be a stellar guy as well.
What I didn't really know all that well about Mike Vallely was his history with hardcore, punk and music in general. I had heard rumors of him showing up to some hardcore shows here in Jersey, knew that he did the bands, Mike V and The Rats and Revolution Mother, knew that he sang the My War Black Flag songs for the well talked about Greg Ginn Black Flag reunions of 2003, but that was pretty much the extent of it. After seeing Mike a couple of weeks ago while he was on a promotional tour and talking to him about Double Cross, I got the idea of approaching him about an interview. Most people already know his rich history in skateboarding, now we'll try to get to the bottom of his second passion… music. This is part one of what will most definitely be a multi entry interview. As Mike would say, Stay Strong. -Tim DCXX
When did you first come into contact with punk music? What music had you been into before punk? At the time, how did punk tie into the world of skateboarding?
Before punk I was way into KISS and Elvis, and well, I still am. But that was music that was meaningful to me in the same way that punk rock would be. Growing up in the 70's I listened to the radio, that was my main source of finding out about music as a kid. I listened to Casey Kasem's American Top 40 religiously, I liked a lot of the songs on the radio, and well, the radio was cheap. When it came to buying records though, which was really rare for me, I was very cautious in what I purchased. I can remember most of the records I bought as a kid because I didn't buy that many. I owned KISS Alive!, KISS Alive II, Cheap Trick At Budokan, Billy Joel 52nd Street, AC/DC Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap and a bunch of budget priced Elvis records.
I was definitely trying from an early age to lay out my own identity with the music I liked and listened to and regardless of the popularity and staying power of the stuff I've mentioned at the time, most everyone around me only cared about the current hit songs on the radio and everything else was yesterday's news. So, being into KISS and Elvis and the other stuff I was into in the late seventies was not very glamorous and I got a lot of grief for it. It wasn't that I didn't like the stuff on the radio, I did like it, but I also liked this other stuff too, that was where I went wrong.
When MTV started up in late 1981, I became an instant MTV junkie. It was the only TV I watched. Before school, after school, before bed, it was all about MTV. What an amazing time to be a kid, I wouldn't trade it for anything. MTV was a lot broader in what they played than Top 40 radio and if you put in enough time watching MTV you'd come many across artists and bands that were slightly outside of the mainstream. I started leaning further away from what was on the radio and looking for music and imagery on MTV that spoke to me in some way. A lot of it was New Wave or crossover punk and a lot of it was just a matter of being able to say I liked something that no one else really knew about - but the truth was most of it was just like the Top 40 stuff, lacking any substance. But it got me thinking that there must be something else out there, that there must be something off the radar, not on the radio, not on MTV, something with some real substance, something with some real soul. And although I didn't really know what punk rock was or even that it was really out there, in some ways I started looking for it.
In September of 1984 I entered my freshman year of high school and that's when I had my real awakening. I befriended this older kid Keith Hartel, who I'd known from around the neighborhood, and I knew he was into some different shit, but as I was entering high school and he was entering 11th grade, he came to school that first day with a mohawk and a look in his eyes that said he clearly knew something the rest of us didn't. I wanted to know what he knew, and what was cool about him was that he was all about sharing, and he opened the door for me invited me in and I owe him big time for that.
The first day that I hung out with Keith he shaved my head and made me a mix tape which started with Black Flag's Rise Above and that also included music from The Misfits, Youth Brigade, Circle Jerks, Minor Threat, Dead Kennedys, and numerous other bands. This shit blew me away. It all sounded different but it all had an intensity like nothing I'd ever heard before. The Black Flag tracks stood out. Rise Above was an anthem that resonated with me with my first listen. I was hooked.
Keith mentioned that I should get a skateboard. Skateboarding and punk rock were nearly inseparable at that time, or at least all of the hyper active punks skated. It was a non-sport physical activity that seemed like a natural extension of the music we were listening to. It made total sense to me and I got into skateboarding and punk rock simultaneously. And I really found a physical release and a creative outlet like none other in skating.
Mike on Christmas morning, 1977, Photo courtesy of: Mike V
How did you view the distinction, if at all, between punk and hardcore? What were your favorite bands as you got more into the music?
The bands I liked back then are still the bands I like today. Black Flag and Minor Threat are the two heavies for sure. I also dug and dig Husker Du, The Descendants, Social Distortion, Bad Brains and Suicidal Tendencies. I didn't view a distinction back then at all. To me punk was punk. It was a spirit as opposed to a sound. I listened to The Pistols, The Ramones, The Clash, Gen X right along with Flag and Suicidal.
Hardcore punk was still just punk to me and I liked the diversity of the different bands I was discovering. I actually caught a lot of grief from other punkers for still liking other more mainstream or metal music at the same time. I would listen to Minor Threat and Ozzy Osbourne, Judas Priest or Van Halen back to back, I was into what I was into, but it didn't go over so well with others. I figured out very early on regardless of how cool punk rock and skating were and regardless of how much they meant to me individually, both scenes were just like everything else. There were always other people making rules for what was cool and what was acceptable and this I found and find to be utter bullshit.
So, the idea of being part of the scene or the idea of a scene at all never really stuck with me. Skateboarding and punk became individual to me. I didn't measure my interest in either against anybody or anything else. That's not why I searched these things out, that's not why I pursued this style of music or my skating. I got into it because I was looking for something different, something that was mine. I didn't and don't care about the status quo in society, in punk rock or skating. Fuck the status quo.
Mike summer 1985, Photo courtesy of: Mike V
You moved from NJ to Virginia in the mid-80s, tell us about the local punk and hardcore scenes and what you saw that impacted you? What type of inspiration or motivation did punk and hardcore music have on you personally and on you as a skater?
By the time I moved to Virginia Beach in 1986, I no longer followed the music scene in any real way. It became repetitive and boring. The only way I could have stayed in it back then was to have started my own band and make my own music, which wasn't happening, so I had no interest. I needed something new and I didn't feel like after the summer of '85 or so that anything new was happening. It was the same old bullshit but with even more politics. Shows became violent fashion scenes and uninteresting.
Skating remained cool because I did it alone, for me. It was an outlet. I still had my records and I still had the music and it still mattered...but not as a movement, not as a scene, there was nothing there. And although the audience was much smaller for a lot of this music that I was into, I saw it become as stale and as uninteresting as the shit on the radio, maybe even more so because it was so bitter. Metallica was probably the only band at that time that broke through and impacted me in any real way. My six months living in Virginia Beach were highlighted by the release of Master Of Puppets and getting sponsored by Powell Peralta.
Tell us about your first band, Resistance - where/who/when? What do you recall about the show with 7Seconds?
The band was probably formed in early '85 with Mitch Gurowitz on guitar, Don Bruno on bass and Jose Perez on drums. I joined the band for several rehearsals and one show in the spring of '85. There was another singer (Joe Wertz) before me but when they let him go, I jumped on it. I wasn't even 15 yet, so I was young and I had a very young voice and there was probably some novelty in having this "kid" sing for the band, but I felt like I had something to communicate and so I pursued it full on.
The one show we played was in New Brunswick at a place called The Rubber Room with Aggression and 7 Seconds. There was probably twenty five people in the room when we played. I was grounded that night by my parents so I had to sneak out of my house and run from Edison, two towns over to New Brunswick to play my set and then run all the way back to my house and sneak back in.
I was let go from the band soon after the show for skating too much and not having any money to help pay for the rehearsal space we had in Manville which was a bullshit move and it left a bad taste in my mouth. I felt I was doing and could do a good job for the band but I was dismissed for no real reason. The thing that really sucked about it was that all of my musician friends at that point were locked up in bands and there were no bands for me to join just then and so I did at that point just dedicate all of my time to skating.
Monday, April 19, 2010
Another random YouTube search results in another unearthed jem. If you skated in the mid 80's, chances are that you're familiar with these guys. From the Thrasher skate rock compilations, to the first Powell Peralta Bones Brigade Video Show, to the fact that their bassist/guitarist, Steve Caballero, is one of the most legendary and well respected skateboarders of all time. Plain and simple, The Faction are one of the greatest skate rock bands ever. To this day, their six song "Dark Room" 12" remains a personal favorite. This video here kicks off with "Tongue Like A Battering Ram", one of the six bangers off the "Dark Room" 12". Killer song, killer band, makes me want to put down this laptop and go skate a ditch. - Tim DCXX
Sunday, April 18, 2010
Peter with Dag Nasty at the 9:30 Club, DC, 8/21/1986, Photo: Scott Lubic
Peter Cortner - Dag Nasty
It's great you're asking this question. The great thing about punk and hardcore is that I can't think of a single back-in-the-day favorite that hasn't held up well. So I'm going to sing the praises of "Plastic Surgery Disasters" by the Dead Kennedys. Their debut is a classic, but I think that this second full-length is where they discovered who they really were . . . an amazing sonic death-scream marriage of surf and utter despair (and all the good sense of humor you'd expect from that combination). The band is on full-on attack mode, giving Bad Brains delivery to Dickies' pop structures. Jello is beside himself, rage eclipsing joy. "Well Paid Scientist" and "Moon Over Marin" float through my head every day, but there isn't a song on here that doesn't connect. I think this is their moment of pure genius.
Chris Cap at his tattoo shop, Last Chance Tattoo in Las Vegas
Chris Cap - Release / Journeyman / Bad Luck 13
Sheer Terror "Just Can't Hate Enough." Because it's been an album that I still play all the time. I bought it on vinyl at Some Records in NYC when it first came out and have owned it on every other format since (tape, cd and now iPod). It's the perfect statement of pure anger and frustration. It was recorded at CBGB's by Tommy Victor of Prong when he was the soundguy there (man I'm fucking old!). The sound is still clear and raw and if it wasn't for this album we wouldn't have Hatebreed, Blood For Blood, Wisdom In Chains, etc. It's a true classic and also because Paul Bearer is the most handsome man in hardcore!!! Haha viva la Bearer!!!!
Sean Taggart artwork used on a CBGB Record Canteen ad
Sean Taggart - NYC Artist
Killing Joke's 1st album. Sounds like it was recorded yesterday (not thirty years ago!). Also you can dance with your girl to this record. I also think it was very "punk" of them to embrace disco into their sound when that was totally verboten. Not to mention the proto-industrial-metal riffage!
Saturday, April 17, 2010
Ian in the old office of the Dischord house, Photo: Pat Graham
This weekend's subject of discussion is DC's favorite son, none other than Ian Mackaye. We are all indebted to this guy. If you're straight edge, you owe him a thank you. If you love hardcore, he deserves a nod. I think it is that simple.
What's your Ian story? Did you see the Slinkees in '79? Mosh to Minor Threat? Catch Embrace during Revolution Summer? Hate the Egg Hunt 7"? Get the mysterious Pailhead EP from Wax Trax? See Fugazi countless times? Get yelled at for filming the Evens? Share with us and comment.
While I don't think we'll ever get a Minor Threat reunion, it's still pretty cool that Ian will talk freely about the band. Just last week, DCXX partner-in-crime Ed McKirdy dug up an old MT shirt he's had forever, and questioning its originality, decided to shoot an email to who else...Mr. MacKaye. Within an hour Ed had a response. Pretty damn cool. -Gordo DCXX
Classic Ian and Henry Touch and Go cover from issue 22
I think there were only two designs that were made by anyone actually associated with the band. The first one is the 'Out Of Step' cover with the Minor Threat logo in yellow. Lyle and our roadie at the time, Rich Moore, made the shirts and sold them on our 1983 US tour. Jeff made some shirts of the black sheep with Minor Threat in green block type.
I found images of both on the internet and will paste them below.
Original Minor Threat shirt from 1983
Jeff Nelson made Minor Threat shirt originally sold through his side label, Adult Swim in 1989
Thursday, April 15, 2010
Anthony hits the crowd with Raw Deal in DC, Photo: Ken Salerno
Drago returns with more on the history of Raw Deal/Killing Time! -Gordo DCXX
When Raw Deal got moving, how quickly did the band make progress in the NYHC scene? It seems like you guys literally hit the ground running overnight. What was the response to the demo? Do you remember how many were made?
Looking back on it, it was really insane how quickly we got our shit together. I’m sure it seemed like forever back then though because a month used to seem like a year to me. In reality it was a little less than two years from our first practice as a band until the debut release of “Brightside.”
The band’s first practice with Anthony & Mike was November 27, 1987. Me, Carl and Rich had been in the garage for maybe two months prior and had written “Telltale,” “Wall of Hate,” “Nice Guy” and “Only The Strong Survive.” Mike came into the first practice with “My Reason” which the band still refers to as “Mike’s Reason” and Anthony showed us some lyrics to a song he had just written called “New Release.”
Our first show was a CBGB’s matinee with Sick Of It All on January 22nd, 1988. We played the first “Super Bowl” that February, which I believe was around the same time that we recorded and started distributing the first demo.
The demo was in huge demand but doing it ourselves was hard to keep up with. I don’t think that we could have made more than 300 copies of the original demo. We would burn off copies of it ourselves and bring a bunch down to Duane at “Some Records” on 6th Street which was a must stop during any CB’s matinee Sunday. He would always let us know when he needed more. We also had them with us at every show and there were some kids who hit us up through mail order.
We only played as “Raw Deal” for about a year and a half. During that time, we auditioned for Chris Williamson, owner of “Rock Hotel Productions” and producer of the Cro-Mags and Leeway. He heard the buzz about us and wanted to hear us in a downtown studio. The entire time that we were playing our set, he was reading the newspaper. I don’t know exactly what that was all about. The only thing good that came out of that night was that the studio had a vending machine that had Bud tall boys.
I don’t know exactly when we signed to “In Effect.” I just know that it was sometime after hearing nothing back from Williamson. The next time I spoke to him was after he heard that we had just finished recording “Brightside” at Normandy Sound with Tom Soares. He called me up and starting screaming at me that my band wasn’t shit, that we couldn’t duplicate his sound and all types of arrogant crap. I had to hang up on him after a while.
Signing with In Effect turned out to be one of the band’s wisest decisions and “Brightside” was released in November of 1989.
Drago on the skins, Photo: Ken Salerno
What were the first few Raw Deal shows like? How did they differ from the Breakdown shows you had played? Can you recall some early stand out memories from playing live and traveling?
The first show at CB’s was unreal. Everyone wanted to see Anthony’s return to the stage and I guess it didn’t hurt that “Breakdown” was his back-up band. The kids went fucking crazy.
The early Super Bowls were awesome. Playing the Ritz was a real trip. Up until then, I had only been bouncing around the dance floor. It felt great getting on that stage.
We used to love playing the Anthrax club in CT. It was always a great time and the crowd there was unstoppable. We used to trash the band room every time we played, then apologize to Brian and Shaun. One night, Anthony brought pieces of the couch onto the stage.
As Raw Deal took off, who were the bands you felt most aligned with? Who did you like playing with, and who personally were you tight with from other bands in the scene? Was there any bad blood with other bands due to the Breakdown split?
We used to play a lot with Sick Of It All. Anthony was really tight with the whole band. It was always an experience taking road trips together. It was relentless ball-breaking from start to finish with Anthony and Armand as the ring leaders. The antics were funny as hell as long as you weren’t the subject of the abuse.
We also played often with Sheer Terror, Uppercut, Krakdown, Stillborn, Gorilla Biscuits, The Icemen, Warzone, Maximum Penalty and Outburst. All of which were great bands and good friends.
I guess the only bad blood we had with any one over the Breakdown split was with Breakdown themselves and even that was short lived. I guess we all just realized that it was pretty stupid trying to ignore each other forever.
You guys seemed to really ride the crest within the NYHC scene(s). On one hand, the Revelation "youth crew" crowd embraced you (GB, YOT), and the larger NYHC scene (SOIA, Leeway, Maximum Penalty, Outburst) also seemed to. How did you feel about this? Where did you feel like you fit in?
I never really thought the scene at the time was segregated by anything. If you were in a band, you would be at your friends’ bands’ shows and you would expect them to be there for you. We were friends with everybody. Anthony was like the Good Will Ambassador for the NYHC scene. Raw Deal fans ranged from straight edge kids fresh out of middle school to old, crusty punk rock types that you wouldn’t want to sit next to on the bus.
What do you remember going down with the name change and how did everything unfold? Were you bummed on losing the name Raw Deal? Who had come up with that name, and who decided on Killing Time? Did it seem like a set back to have to change your band name after establishing yourself in the NYHC scene?
As I remember, Howie Abrams first told me that In Effect had found out that there was a metal band in England using the same name. This is after we were signed to the label. He said that he was going to call them and tell them that they had to stop using the name. I guess the phone conversation didn’t go exactly as he planned because after speaking with their management and In Effect’s legal department, he called me back with the bad news.
I was pretty devastated. I always thought we should have kept our mouths shut and put the fucking record out, but I really didn’t understand the legal hassles that it would have caused for the band and label.
The band considered it to be a huge set back but we were fortunate enough to already have a great fan base and record deal, so we just pushed forward like nothing had happened.
I wish I had a nice story about how we came up with the name “Killing Time" but to tell you the truth it was just me and my thesaurus and three other band members who were sick of talking about it anymore. As soon as they agreed to it, I asked my brother John to quickly draw up a logo for us. It took him about an hour to do and we’ve been using it ever since.
Rich with Killing Time at CBGB, NYC, Photo" Ken Salerno
By 1989, what types of things were influencing you and the band and the writing of "Brightside?" What styles or influences were creeping in, and what did you want to accomplish with the LP before it was even recorded? Did you want to re-record the demo songs for a specific reason?
We had numerous influences between us all ranging from punk and early hardcore to crossover and metal bands.
I think that all we really wanted to accomplish was to finally have a physical piece of vinyl with our name on it that we could hold in our hands. Something tangible to represent all of the hard work that we had put into this thing.
Re-recording the demo songs was always the plan. That’s how everybody did it. You’d scrape up enough money together to record a 4-track live recording. Get it out on cassette to as many people possible. Build a following and then hopefully get to re-record them in a good studio with somebody else’s money.
When we recorded “Brightside,” it was the best of the best of what we had to offer at the time. It wasn’t a lot but we loved each and every one of those songs.
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Timmy Chunks with Token Entry in Asbury Park NJ, Photo: Ken Salerno
Timmy Chunks - Token Entry
For me it would have to be Negative Approach "Tied Down" - it has everything that made me love this music. Aggression, intensity, and above all else an underlying emotion that things are fucked. It gives you a feeling of purpose when you listen to it. Even if that purpose is to say "fuck it, things suck!"
Darren Walters from Hi-Impact Records with Ken Flavell hanging out after a Turning Point set in DC, Photo courtesy of: Mikey Fastbreak
Ken Flavell - Turning Point / Shadow Season
My cousin Doug was the first person I knew who was into hardcore. It was 1983, and the closest thing to hardcore that I had heard was Generation X and The Clash. He said "I'm going to hook you up!" In the mail comes a cigar box filled with homemade tapes from his vinyl collection. No lyrics, no artwork, just band names and incredible music.
My brother Chris and I wore those tapes out listening to them. It was a who's who of hardcore up to that point in time. There was this one band that stood out above the rest, it was the Bad Brains - Roir Sessions. All these years later, of all the bands, they are one of the bands I still listen to today!
For my later years as hardcore evolved, I have to go with Uniform Choice - Screaming For Change and the Embrace LP. Ian's best work in my opinion.
I have to add the Adolescents self titled LP, too. Kids Of The Black Hole is one of my favorite hardcore songs of all time. This record is what hardcore is all about.
Ian, Brian and Steve with Minor Threat, Photo courtesy of: Dischord
Steve Hansgen - Minor Threat
The Bad Brains Roir album, released in 1982. Perfect then, perfect now. Even the reggae is good! And the punk rock...never truly equaled by anyone.
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Dan O speaks, Photo: Jeff Terranova
I'd gone roughly ten years without factoring this music or this underground into my thinking. By that I mean that Hardcore had lost a lot of its relevance for me (truthfully it could never again occupy the space it did in my teens, not for me, not for most). My feeling was that at its essence this movement was largely counterproductive, a study in preaching to the choir. It seemed to me that the high mindedness of this music's social agenda was largely a charade, a stance primarily adopted in spaces hidden from view and rarely expressed in the real world. Did I have a point? Sure. Did that point validate ignoring all the beauty in this space? No, not really.
For those of you familiar with my past, you might find it ironic that saying “no” has never really been my strong suit. I have an exaggerated distaste for disappointing people. So it was that when the request came down via Joe Nelson to participate in a panel discussion that he was arranging to help out the Radio Silence boys and their L.A. release party at the Niketown Theatre in Hollywood, I agreed. Not to give the impression that I had to be dragged kicking and screaming, it's just that I had no intention of promoting my presence, hyping the thing, or expecting much to come of it. Dumb, dumb, dumb.
Dan at the mic, Photo: Jeff Terranova
Surreal is an understatement. My old bandmate's leather jacket was displayed in the lobby. Displayed in a glass museum case accompanied by a security guard that is. People I habitually refer to as kids passed by with their male pattern baldness and 40 inch waistlines. A studio setting photo session was conducted on what would be the balcony level, complete with professional lighting, a neutral backdrop, etc. Nothing about this was spelling out HARDCORE to me, not the corporate naming rights on the building, not the drummer's foul weather gear as an art exhibit, certainly not the Annie Leibowitz flashback going on upstairs. Then the panel was assembled. None of us had a particularly concrete understanding of who we'd be sitting with.
It's not a group you could have or would have gotten together 20 years ago. Along with the creators of the Radio Silence book were amongst others Jason Farrell of Swiz, John Roa of Justice League, John Joseph of the Cro-Mags, Gavin Oglesby of No For An Answer, and myself (yeah, NFAA had the numerical advantage!). It wasn't until they sat us all down facing a full house of music fans waiting patiently to hear Mr. Joseph scream “We Gotta Know” that I started to feel something.
The questions asked by both Nelson and the audience were intelligent, topical, and occasionally amusing. The sarcasm I'd feared was completely absent. Most importantly to me it was the first time in more than a decade that I'd addressed a large group and left feeling that they had some idea what the fuck I was talking about. Sure, there were people on that stage and in that crowd I'd rather not share a cab with, but we had context in common. There was none of what a close friend of mine describes as “trying to explain hardcore to a 'civilian.'" My rambling about social responsibility and trying to find an appropriate venue for my sociopolitical values system wasn't greeted by mouth breathing and blank stares. Nothing that any of us had to say was greeted in that fashion and it sent a chill up my neck and over my temples when it occured to me how rare that is in everyday life.
Jordan Cooper, Dan O, Popeye and Evan Jacobs at the first spoken word, Photo: Larry Ransom
On that stage, in that setting, my answer to the ever present “reunion question” spontaneously and unexpectedly ended with a “never say never." Less than six months later my first recorded band and four other Orange County Bands spent one Sunday evening raising our voices to benefit an ailing stranger's fight against cancer. You can't whip that up that easily with a squad of bands 20 years defunct in too many other “scenes."
Later that year I was given a shot to voice my take on days gone by on Double Cross. Given a shot to the tune of 7 installments! The worthiness of my rants occupying that much space can be debated (given the snark that permeates most message boards, I'm sure it was), but what cannot be debated or denied is that experience's impact on me. It's not as if an online interview parted the heavens, a light shown down, and a mission was reborn. I had in fact become more politically focused and motivated (but also more stifled and more frustrated) in the 11 years since I'd roamed this setting.
Still, credit must be given where credit is due. In offering a nod to the efforts of yesteryear, Tim and Gordo made obvious to me the silence that defined today. The Double Cross interview allowed me a long form source of reflection that the panel discussion did not. With each new emailed batch of questions, I found myself more and more enamored with the notion of placing the past in perspective while putting a mandate to myself “make something of the here and now."
Dan interviewing a former elections analyst for the Latin America office of the National Endowment for Democracy, Photo: Ryan Langley
It's not that we of the hardcore scene were preselected to save the world, it's not that we have a right to expect to command any greater attention than anyone we pass on the street. It's that we have first hand experience with being heard, we have intimate knowledge of the fact that truth can be heard and that silence lies.
For me it's not another band, it's not any more reunions. I've always been more verbally than vocally talented, and for that reason I'm writing again, I'm doing spoken word, I'm hosting live issue-driven forums on college campuses, I'm launching a website (silencelies.com) focused solely on art, interviews, and creative writing with a positive social agenda. I'm doing something with my values that couldn't have happened without my history in this music and my connection to these people who love it so much. Credit must be given where credit's due.