Brooke Smith head shot
Brooke Smith is an actress you have very likely seen before unless you haven't watched any movies or television over the last 20 years. From The Silence Of The Lambs to Six Feet Under to Weeds to Grey's Anatomy to dozens of other major movie and televison roles, Brooke is legit.
Before all of that kicked off, she was immersed in the mid/late 80's NYHC scene. When her incredible photos popped up at http://streetbonersandtvcarnage.com/blog/old-new-york-hardcore-photos, we immediately got the link up on Double Cross, and decided we needed to track her down to get the scoop.
Brooke is working on a book of her photography, and we wanted to find out more about her experiences then and now. Forget any Hollywood BS as well...Brooke is super cool and recalls this stuff fondly. Big thanks to her, and hopefully more to come. -Gordo DCXX
Russ with Underdog at CBGB, NYC, Photo: Brooke Smith
How did you first come in contact with the NYHC scene and what was it that you found attractive? Were there any music scenes you had first hand experience with before hanging out on the LES with skinheads and hardcore dudes?
I grew up in Rockland County - a half an hour drive from the city. I was definitely an outsider in my hometown and found myself going downtown first because of the music, but also in search of people I could relate to. I felt (and still do feel) that I found a family on the LES.
Todd Youth, Jimmy Gestapo and Raybeez, Photo: Brooke Smith
When did photography come into the picture? Were you shooting from day one, or was it something that developed out of friendships, going to shows, etc.? What type of experience did you have? Were you just firing off photos, or were you going after something specific?
I wasn't very good in school but I always liked taking photos. I did take photography in high school, but wasn't patient enough to learn the technical side as much as I should have. I just started taking photos wherever I was. At shows, hanging out with friends...I was especially drawn to trying to capture the energy and experience of what it was like to see some of those amazing bands.
Brooke in her New York Hardcore days, Photo courtesy of: Brooke Smith
Who were your friends in the NYHC scene? What bands did you enjoy the most, who did you hang out with and where did you hang out?
I moved into the city the day after I (barely) graduated high school. I had a lot of friends downtown- Alexa Poli, (who was my roommate,) Olivia Larrain, (who confronted me at a Bad Brains show claiming that I'd hit her with my car in front of CBGB's- something I continue to deny to this day, Olivia!), Fran and Madonna from Modern Clix, Roger and Vinnie from AF, Jimmy and Al and Petey and Joe Bruno from Murphy's Law, Russell and Richie from Underdog, John and Harley from the Cro-Mags, HR and the Bad Brains, Carl Mosher, Frenchie, Raybees and Todd from Warzone, Jenny Lush, Cass, Jody, Mo, Gwen, English Mark, Neil and Amy from Nausea, Little Michelle, Natalie Jacobsen, Lazar, Little Chris, Tommy from Straight Ahead, Ray Cappo, BJ, Moon, Brendan, Cindi B, Sasha, Maggie, and many many more...
I worked at Trash & Vaudeville for a bit, and then did coat check with Alexa at The Ritz. My favorite bands were Bad Brains, Agnostic Front, Murphy's Law, Cro-Mags, Cause For Alarm, Warzone, Youth Of Today, Straight Ahead, The Mob, Underdog, Ultraviolence...I'm sure I'm forgetting some.
Alexa and Jimmy, Photo: Brooke Smith
I hung out at Tompkins Square, CBGB's, Great Gildersleeves (does anyone remember that place?!), A7, Rock Hotel, Ritz, Irving Plaza...
The scene wouldn't have happened if there had been internet or cell phones.
What was the social climate (maybe compared to a few years later or even today) in NYC at the time, and how did the NYHC scene fit within that in your eyes? Did it feel like a unique subculture of people? What did you make of it all, compared to what other kids were doing?
My husband grew up in Russia and he really wishes he had been able to be here during the NYHC scene in the 80s. I think he's right that it was the last time there was a true artistic movement where people were doing it just for the love of it. Not to get famous or rich. And it didn't feel derivative at all. It was all ours. Like I said before, I really found my true family on the LES. I feel the same connection today to the people I knew then.
Bad Brains at The Ritz, Photo: Brooke Smith
Thursday, March 3, 2011
Posted by DOUBLE CROSS at 10:13 PM