Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Jon Field - Up Front part II

Jon and Jeff Up Front hanging with the Unit Pride and Release guys

We were slow to get around to the second part of our piece with him, but Jon Field delivers more about his time as a dedicated hardcore fan and Up Front guitarist. -Gordo DCXX

What did you notice about the west coast the first time you made it out there to see a hardcore show? What have you always liked about playing on the west coast even all these years later?

Different dancing styles, bleached blonde hair, circle pits, Gilman Street, people who used words like "rad" and
"hella" all the time...Chris Daily, Steve Up Front and our friend Jay Turbo and I first went out west in August of '88 to see Youth Of Today play a few shows, including my first show at Gilman Street with YOT, Underdog, Bold & No For An Answer. I remember the trip being a pretty last minute idea...now it seems kind of random that we just flew across the country, when Jay was only 15 or 16, to see a few shows. It was great though. I still have my Gilman membership card from that trip. We met some of the Unit Pride and Breakaway guys on that trip too.

Then Up Front went as a band in the Summer of '89. We played Gilman as well as Southern CA, and I remember how tan and clean cut all the HC kids seemed, compared to a lot of the NY/CT/NJ scene. On an off day we went to an incredible show at The Country Club with Gorilla Biscuits, Swiz, Inside Out, American Standard & Pushed Aside. There was a huge circle pit, which blew my mind. I was used to joke circle pits if a singer asked for it, but had never seen anything like that before. Mikey Fastbreak convinced me to join him going backwards against the circle. Good times. That summer I was really amazed at the size of the shows. I had seen big shows in NYC, but they usually included bands like GBH or the Bad Brains. To see a show with almost all SE bands draw 1500 kids blew my mind.

To be fair, I've only played one show on the west coast in the last 15 years, but I've always liked the vibe. Southern California especially feels like it's own little world, very different from anywhere else in the country.


Up Front went through a few line-up changes even by 1990. What was unique about each one, which was your favorite, and how did the dynamic of the band change as members changed?

Well, the initial line-up in '87 was just a bunch of high school friends, me, Jeff, Steve and Dan. But Dan was not too excited about SE, and more into thrash metal and punk. When he left in late '87 we got Jim on drums, and he streamlined things a bit, but still kept the fast thrash speed that Dan had brought to the table. Steve left in late December of '88, a few months after we recorded Spirit, and we got Roger on vocals in early January of '89.

By this time Jim wasn't too excited about SE either, and as he became more serious with Subzero he lost interest in Up Front. He quit about a month before our US tour in the summer of '89, and we found Ari Katz within a week or so through Rob Fish. Then in the fall of '89 we asked Ari to leave, and Roger quit. We got Tim on drums in January of '90, and played a few shows with Roger on vocals again that year. Then Jeff moved to vocals and Rich came in on bass. So yeah, we had a shitload of lineup changes in a short period of time, haha.

Jon, Roger and Ari of Up Front hanging with the Unit Pride boys

It's hard to pick a favorite, all were a lot of fun. Initially with Dan, we were excited to just play shows...anywhere. Then with Jim things got more serious, and we recorded the X Marks The Spot tracks and the Spirit LP. We played amazing shows, and started going on road trips for out of town shows. That lineup was a lot of fun. Jim was pretty funny and we all picked on each other a lot. With Roger and Ari we went on tour twice in the Summer of '89, and that was a mind blowing experience. Add to that we were four people (sometimes 6 or 7 with roadies) that didn't all know each other well, and we had some interesting experiences/arguments/fights. Still, that first tour still stands out to me as an unbelievable time.

But honestly, when the scene started to die in mid '90 or so, we started to practice more, hang out more, and became a really tight group of friends. To me Up Front still is Steve, me, Jeff, Rich and Tim. I think the 5 of us (Steve still hung out with us and went to a lot of our shows in the early 90s, then rejoined in '94) became really close during that time as the scene shrank. Not to slight any of the guys from the early lineups, whom I still talk to from time to time, but whenever the five of us (and Roger this past Summer) have gotten together over the last 15 years or so we immediately fall back into the mode of sarcasm, inside jokes, music and pranks that have kept us good friends all these years.

Jon and Roger with Up Front, Summer 2010, Photo: Joe Snow

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

my man sabatini owning it.