Thursday, March 3, 2011

Brooke Smith

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Bad Brains at The Ritz, Photo: Brooke Smith

22 comments:

Brushback said...

Amazing photos

Jon said...

When I first figured out that she took those pics, I was pretty surprised. I didn't know she was in the NYHC scene in the 80s. Great shots, and I think maybe I see myself in that Bad brains pic?

Anonymous said...

wow

Anonymous said...

i wish you interviewed buffalo bill instead

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XTs_TZFjbJ8

Sean P. said...

Great piece on a great gal.

Terrific shots Brooke - Such a flashback.

(no camera pun intended)

- SPM

Ben Edge said...

She was also Jeff Buckley's roommate.

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0807548/bio

Anonymous said...

Genuinely interesting,well done Double Cross for posting.Great pics,great insight.

Anonymous said...

holy shit i had no idea she was from the nyhc scene. so cool.

Anonymous said...

Great read. Wish this post was a bit longer. (and had more pictures.

D. Sine said...

Good interview.

nicky papers said...

i grew up in rockland too, pretty easy to feel like an outsider there and seek refuge in the LES.

dirtysteve said...

did she say who was putting out her book or if there is a release date for it?

Gordo said...

Much more to come in part 2. THanks for reading.

Gordo said...

Or, just thanks.

lenny zimkus said...

Cool to hear memories from someone who lived it and went on to be "famous", seems real down to earth. Is Alexa Tommy SA old girlfriend and is that their daughter in the pic with Jimmy.

crucified said...

part two NOW

Anonymous said...

alexa poli is very badly messed up in the hospital...

Anonymous said...

it's time for karen o'sullivan. she has the best new york hardcore photo collection.

Anonymous said...

thats so cool.
i watched greys anatomy and would have never expected anyone in this having such cool roots.

Lars said...

great post.. great pictures. Can't wait for part 2!

"The scene wouldn't have happened if there had been internet or cell phones."

Very true- However, this quote made me think of (212) OPEC SID- which was an answering machine with HC/punk show listings on it. Sort of did the same thing (in a more limited, low-tech way) that the Bridge 9 board does today...

Rock Chick Under Siege said...

Greg Maggot is also seen in that Bad Brains pic, 2-tone mohawk! Epic. That was such a golden era.
Great read, will subscribe.
Cheers!

Hanna said...

So talented!! Love Brooke Smith and LOVED her in A LITTLE HELP. Check out the FB page at https://www.facebook.com/ALittleHelp