Alex and Jules at The Anthrax with Side By Side, Photo courtesy of: Jules
Here it is, his first published interview since 1989. This is going to be posted in many installments over the next few weeks, and will cover everything you'll want to hear from Jules. In case you missed it, Jules is auctioning his own records here on DCXX, with all money going towards the Japanese Relief Effort. More to come but here's the first round:
We are beyond psyched to have Jules on board and hope everyone digs this and appreciates the fact that he has really given us a lot of his time and energy. I could say many great things about him - but I think this interview will speak for itself loud and clear. Thanks Jules. -Gordo DCXX
Jules with Alone In A Crowd at The Anthrax, Photo courtesy of: Jules
What was it that attracted you to the energy of the NYC hardcore scene? What was it that was happening, or better yet, not happening in your home town to cause you to seek out new surroundings and people in NYC?
In short, massive dissatisfaction with the way things were in the mid 80’s. I lived in Weehawken, NJ – which, for those of you who don’t know, is directly across the Hudson River from midtown Manhattan. Not what I would call a suburb. Growing up, my parents worked in the City, so I went to schools in NYC, first in the West Village and then in Brooklyn. So I really didn’t connect much to my “home town” to begin with – most of my friends were in the City.
The mid-eighties mainstream was a musical wasteland. A list of the top five Billboard top 100 pop songs in 1985 speaks volumes:
1. Careless Whisper, Wham!
2. Like a Virgin, Madonna
3. Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go, Wham!
4. I Want to Know What Love Is, Foreigner
5. I Feel for You, Chaka Khan
Alex Brown and Jules with Side By Side, Photo courtesy of: Jules
And what were the alternatives? My parents lived next to a gas station and every weekend kids would sit there with a boombox, beers, and a bag of weed, and listen to Led Zeppelin, The Doors, and Pink Floyd... every weekend... over and over and over again. Now, those bands were alright (in any event, better than _ _ _ _ ing Wham!) – but they were already classic rock. It was someone else’s music, if that makes any sense. You could not go see those bands (hell, Jim Morrison died a few months after I was born). The closest thing to a live show with them was the Pink Floyd laser show at the Planetarium (which was a favorite if you liked to drop acid, which I didn’t). Then there were the dead heads – do I even need to go there? College/new wave bands existed, I suppose. But I just wasn’t into the “look at me, I’m so artsy” crap. House music? No. Some Hip Hop was pretty good – and got better through the late 80’s, but let’s face it, I was not B-Boy material.
None of this really connected with me. Add teenage hormones, a general lack of supervision from parents who had to work nights, and a profound hatred of all things high school -- I felt isolated, and in one of the most densely populated areas of the United States. So I carried this anger. I was an angry kid.
Side By Side's first show at CBGB, NYC, Photo courtesy of: Jules
What were the punk and hardcore bands that you connected with most? Who had songs, lyrics, etc. that resonated with you the most? Do you still consider yourself a fan of these bands?
I was not an “old school” punk kid. You won’t hear me talking about me hanging out at A7 or being a part of anything that came before the mid 80’s. I wasn’t a “cool kid,” and didn’t have an older sibling or a babysitter who had a killer record collection and taught me the entire history of punk rock. I didn’t know anything.
Luke (GB, Warzone) was a classmate of mine in Brooklyn (before I got thrown out). He was the drummer in a band called Loud And Boisterous, which emulated the older style bands (MDC, Black Flag, Circle Jerks, Murphy’s Law, AF, Minor Threat). The other guys in the band were a lot older than Luke and I. So I got a lot of exposure to the earlier generation hardcore music hanging with them. Eric (Side By Side, Uppercut) was a little older than Luke and I, and he hung with LAB as well. Eric and I messed around with a band very early on, but it was a disaster – I couldn’t play anything but the radio (I tried drumming and totally sucked); he could play, but he wanted to do this nihilistic punk stuff (at one time he had a 2’ Mohawk spiked with Knox gelatin). It didn’t fit, and nothing ever came of it. Anarchy was not me. Eric and I pretty much stopped hanging out together after awhile.
By this time I was pretty familiar with the older hardcore stuff – I found myself drawn mostly to the NYHC grassroots – NYC Mayhem (who Eric liked and introduced to me), Agnostic Front, I even saw Reagan Youth once (they were actually pretty good live). When I was pretty young (14 or so) there was a whole slew of bands that were "established" and you didn't necessarily have to be part of the scene to know them or know when they were playing. I remember seeing Samhain, MDC, Butthole Surfers... but these were generally out of town bands, playing bigger venues, like the (new) Ritz. It was expensive, and there was a lot of separation between the band and the audience. And none of those bands were saying anything meaningful – to me at least. MDC were hyper political and went on and on about some oppressed tribe out in the southwest I never heard of. I was 14 years old – I couldn’t vote, what was I going to do? Write my congressman? So I ended up feeling pretty disconnected from this too.
Unlike me, Luke was in tune with the newer scene, which was about to break. He was dissatisfied with LAB’s “old school” style and he wasn’t at all into the drugs (some of the old LAB crowd were heavy into drugs—a few of them ended up in really bad shape). He kept playing newer stuff for them, saying “we should be playing stuff like this!” The stuff he was playing: War Zone, Straight Ahead, etc. Straight Edge had been established by the DC and Boston Scene – but this was the first time I ever heard “positivity” being used in the same breath as hardcore. This was something new. So I would say Luke is probably the person who first exposed me to the music that truly resonated with me. Straight Ahead was a natural fit for me because of Mayhem.
Someone goes for a dive at The Anthrax during Side By Side, Photo courtesy of: Jules
War Zone. The demo with the lineup of Raybeez, Todd youth, Batmite (he looked exactly like the cartoon character), and Charlie Ultraviolence, the one with all the vocal reverb, was the best thing I ever heard. War Zone doesn’t get much respect these days, it seems – I guess this is due to their later incarnations which were pretty bad. But back then, they were the _ _ _ _. They were going to be the next big NYHC band following AF and the Cro-Mags. However, Ray couldn’t keep the lineup together and they broke up right when I really started hanging out at CB’s and on the lower east side on a regular basis.
Something that needs to be understood: around this time, the NYHC scene had been notoriously exclusive, and most “old timers” were dicks to the new kids. There were exceptions, of course. Roger and Vinny from Agnostic Front, for example – they were always cool to me anyway, but generally it was pretty intimidating if you weren’t in the “in crowd.” Not Raybeez – the song “_ _ _ _ Your Attitude” says it all. He encouraged the new jacks, like me, both personally and through the music. And make no mistake, Raybeez was instrumental in bridging the gap between the old NYHC crew and the Youth Crew, the skinheads and the straight edge.
With War Zone defunct (at least for the time being), I turned to the other bands that were part of this next generation hardcore...
A Side By Side sing-a-long at The Anthrax, Photo courtesy of: Jules
Thursday, March 31, 2011
Posted by DOUBLE CROSS at 11:16 PM