Here's Part 2 of our massive ongoing interview with Jules. If you've been living under a rock, scroll down below to check out the charity record auctions we are running - all items from Jules' own collection with every cent going to Japanese Relief.
This is still just the beginning of this interview, so stay tuned. -Gordo DXXX
Jules and Billy with Side By Side at CBGB, NYC, Photo courtesy of: Jules
Before Side By Side, what were the experiences you had going to shows and seeing other bands that made you realize that you wanted to sing for a band? Did singing for a band sound like something that was just fun to goof around with...or did you feel a real deap-seated desire to use your voice in a band?
One seminal show was Youth of Today, Straight Ahead, and Sick Of It All (I think that was their first show) at the Right Track Inn out in Long Island. I went because Straight Ahead were playing. Thinking back -- most of the guys I would be hanging out with for the next few years were all at that show. It was pandemonium from start to finish – this was a real pit (not the pussy pits that would form at the new Ritz). I got hit in the balls by this skinhead with oxbloods who was just terrorizing the floor. As it would turn out, I would come to know him fairly well as Jason... Jason Krakdown. The pile-ons started with SOIA, and they just kept getting bigger as the show progressed. Seeing Straight Ahead was freaking great (I never did get to see Mayhem).
Then Youth of Today hit it -- they had just come out (or were about to come out with) Can’t Close My Eyes. I had never heard them before. Tommy drummed for them after fronting Straight Ahead. He cut his hand at some point during the SA set, and he had a bloody rag around it while playing for YOT. It was killer. It was real, the pit was ferocious, the music was hard as nails, but on top of it all, it wasn’t political whining or trying to relive the old school – this _ _ _ _ was raw and I wanted in – these guys were pissed off at the same things I was. And, like Raybeez, these guys were approachable. Pete, Lou and Arman are some of the nicest guys you could ever meet. Craig Setari and Tommy Carroll were totally open and treated you like you’d been their friend for years. So, after that, I think I went to every CB’s matinee. I’d see these guys around and we’d hang out. Not only did I like their music, but I liked them. That was the first time as a teenager that I ever felt liked I "belonged" with any identifiable group.
Gavin with Side By Side for their first CB's show, Photo courtesy of: Jules
How do you remember Side By Side coming together, and what would you say was the driving force behind the creation of the band? What was Side By Side intended to represent in the NYC scene at that time?
Side By Side started with a funeral. An artist friend of my old man’s died from AIDS in 1986 – that was the year the AIDS awareness really started for the non-gay community in NYC. There were tens of thousands of cases that year, if I remember correct. Anyway, I realized that there was no time like the present (You’re Only Young Once and The Time Is Now were themes for me very early on I guess). War Zone was gone, so I wanted to start a band like War Zone. I left the church with my dad, who was heading home back to Jersey. I told him I had something I had to do. Billy was an acquaintance who I knew played guitar. I walked down to his $250 a month apartment on Pitt St., which was a very, very scary place back then. I walked up to his apartment – there was a Doberman loose out in the hallway; I thought was going to eat me. This was my first time at his place, so he opens the door and he has this 2x4 in his hands, and I'm thinking "where the _ _ _ _ am I?" Turned out Billy used a 2x4 to bar the door, so whenever he answered it he had this big freaking board in his hands. I asked him if he wanted to be in a band with me. Without any deliberation -- he said yes.
Billy (who was, and still is, a phenomenal illustrator) drew this awesome (and really freaking funny) picture of these happy-go lucky stomping skinhead guys (it looked like they were doing a can-can), and we made a sign out of it saying we were looking for members. Billy never took this stuff too seriously (he was the “fun” guy in the band). We hung the sign at Some Records, which was the place to go. And it was only “some records,” pretty spartan. It was in a basement near the Ukrainian Center on 3rd St. In the winter, it was a place to get out of the cold.
Duane Rossignol was awesome – he was another one of those guys who played an important role in the scene – there was no internet: Some Records could be equated to a low tech NYHC “social media website.” Raybeez would be there all the time. I first got to know Ray Cappo there. Duane would sell vinyl, demo tapes, and t-shirts.
Anyway, despite the cool sign and all, we never got any hits. Luke and I were talking and he mentioned Eric was writing a lot of music, so I approached him. He was full on into straight edge (no more Mohawk), and he was not only writing music, but he had full songs with lyrics. I’m pretty sure Violence To Fade was one of the first songs he showed me. I thought it was cool – it was clear we had both come a long way. Most of the early Side By Side songs were all Eric’s, My Life To Live was 100% him. Eric had another song to which I wrote the lyrics to Side By Side with Luke at Eric’s mom’s house one evening. After that, Eric was in.
Around Christmas time, 1986, I was in Port Authority bus terminal (bridge and tunnel, all the way) and I saw this young (13?) skinhead kid I knew from Some Records named Chris. When I talked to him he told me he knew a kid who was a drummer looking for a band. This, of course, was Sammy. Ironically, Sammy had tried out for the Gorilla Biscuits recently, but they didn’t want him. And, to be fair, Sammy was 13, and he was not great at the beginning. But he was psyched, and he improved geometrically as we practiced and played out. So, Billy took on the bass and we had Side By Side’s first line-up.
Somewhere along the line we decided we wanted two guitars. Gavin was playing with the NY Hoods, and somehow we talked him into playing with us. He made it clear it was only temporary so he only played the first couple of shows. He recorded the demo with us (which was terrible) and Violence To Fade for the first Revelation compilation. He may have also been on the Dead Serious recording that wound up on one of the compilations.
I first met Alex at a Side by Side rehearsal at these studios on 14th St. He was tagging along with Ray Cappo, who for some reason came to our practice. We were losing Gavin, and Alex played guitar – so we asked him if he wanted to join. He was reluctant at first, if I remember correctly. But after he saw us play the Token Entry record release show, he was totally psyched about it. Alex was a great addition: he was like an encyclopedia of punk and hardcore. He had a big record collection and had many influences to draw inspiration from. We wrote Backfire and Living A Lie together in his apartment one afternoon. He was also an art student, so he designed the band "logo" and used to print up these cool stickers to throw out at the shows.
Alex, Billy and Jules with Side By Side at The Anthrax, Norwalk CT, Photo courtesy of: Jules
The Side By Side lifespan was short but accomplished - local live shows to kinds going bonkers, a Revelation EP, and a break-up before anyone stayed at the party too long. What were the highlights, and did you feel that you accomplished what you wanted to?
As I said before, the inclusiveness within the scene at that moment in time was what set it apart in my mind. So, my vision of Side By Side was to promote that. The scene was full of kids who did not accept the world they were handed, and made their own. This was what unified us, and I wanted to promote that message. The scene had its factions, but in my mind, our similarities far outweighed our differences. There were so few of us, we couldn’t afford to have sub, and sub-sub cultures. This is what the lyrics to the song Side by Side were all about. Did that message get across? I don’t know. A lot of very divisive stuff went down in '87 and '88 from which one can infer it did not. But I always thought if the message got across to just one kid, and it made him or her feel like they were not alone – then it was all worth it.
As far as highlights, there are too many to recount here but a few stand out:
Our first show at CB’s was pretty lame, we went on first and hardly anybody caught our set. In fact, the only two people I remember being there and humoring us were Nick (not English Nick, the other one) from YDL and Andrew Scum. At least Andrew knew the words to _ _ _ _ Your Attitude, which was the War Zone cover we did (FYI – right after this show, Raybeez got War Zone back together, so we stopped doing that song).
But the second time we played, it was the Token Entry record release party and the place was packed. The crowd was pretty receptive, but went berserk when we played Side By Side. When Billy played the bassline leading into the mosh/chorus/sing-along, the pit erupted onto the stage (which was really small at CB’s). I remember Eric looking at me like “what the _ _ _ _ is going on? What do we do?” We really didn’t expect anybody to be that into us. Big Charlie was bouncing, and he was up on stage making sure nothing got too out of hand, but he stayed off to the side. When we finished the song, Big Charlie said “play the theme song again! Play the theme song again!” We all looked at each other in utter disbelief. So we did an encore right away – and it was even more nuts. Eric freaking launched himself off the stage... with his guitar (I am sure someone got hurt on that one). And at one point I ended up on the dancefloor with a hundred people on top of me. The floor at CB’s was treacherous – there were nails sticking up and it was all rough and uneven. So here I am being crushed on that floor, the mike mashed into my face with me screaming into it “get the _ _ _ _ off!” I probably sounded like a little bitch through the PA... ah well. That show made us realize we could really do this band thing. After Alex saw that show, he was totally onboard.
Another show which stands out was one we played with YOT and GB in Lititz, Pennsylvania. Not so much for the show, but for the whole experience. We went out there in a van and RJ Vail’s (YOT "roadie") car. Lititz is a town tucked away deep in Amish farmland. So here we are, a bunch of insane bald city kids driving past horse drawn buggies listening to the Cro-Mags. Someone kept calling them “omelettes.” Anyway, we get there and it is a VFW hall that some kid (I forget his name) rented out, and then booked the show himself. We were early, and all three bands played “suicide” against a wall. Suicide is where you throw a tennis ball against the wall and whomever it heads toward has to catch it. If it comes to you and you get hit or drop it, then you had to run to the wall before the nearest person got the ball and chucked it at you as hard as they could.
The show ended pretty late, and over the PA we asked if there was a place we could stay in town. This one kid came up and said all of us could stay at his house – all three bands! Eric broke his foot or something during the show (or maybe playing suicide?). So he went to the ER, while everyone else went to this kid’s house. It was big – open plan living room with these high ceilings and exposed rafters. It turned out that the prior owner had committed suicide by hanging himself from those rafters. Most of the guys slept in that living room that night – and the next morning swore they heard screams in the night. The only screams I remember were from the current homeowner coming out at 2 a.m. yelling “shut the _ _ _ _ up!!!” to the guys in the living room who were still making a ton of noise.
Anyway, the kid’s mom cooked this big vegetarian meal for everybody. And later that evening I drove with the kid’s dad to pick up Eric, who was now on crutches. On the drive, I asked the dad why on earth he would open his home to us lunatics. He explained that his oldest daughter had a drug problem that was very hard on his family, so he was very supportive of his son’s involvement with straight edge. I couldn't help but wonder if this man would have been so accepting of us but for his bad experiences.
The next day all three bands went to Hershey Park. If memory serves, Luke and Porcell nearly got thrown out for trying to go upside down on the centrifuge. Sammy hated roller coasters, but we all made him go anyway. He ducked his head the whole time. Eric was hobbling around on his crutches, but he went on every ride. In terms of camaraderie, this was about the best road trip Side By Side ever did.
Then there was the “Shut Down” show...
Jules with Alone In A Crowd at The Anthrax, Photo courtesy of: Jules
Tuesday, April 5, 2011
Posted by DOUBLE CROSS at 6:47 PM