Monday, June 27, 2011

Jules Side By Side / Alone In A Crowd 2011 Interview part VII

Jules with some stage banter at The Anthrax, Photo courtesy of: Jules

Finally a new installment in our ongoing interview. If you missed the previous entry:
Jules Interview Part VI
The charity auction for Japanese Relief has ended and it was a great success. We personally extend a major sincere thank you to Jules as he selflessly decided to sell all of his hardcore vinyl and donate every cent to an enormous cause. All the guy wanted to do was something good, and Tim and I were happy to be involved. We again would like to thank everyone who bid. Here's a note from Jules:

Now that the charity auction is over, I just wanted to thank Tim, Gordo and all of the people who bid on my old vinyl for helping to make a difference. Through a matching donation, the Double Cross auction raised $11,564 for disaster relief in Japan. The matching donation comes from a $3.5 million fundraising effort for the American Red Cross and Save The Children, organizations that provide emergency aid to those in need all over the world – including those victims of the recent tornadoes, fires, and floods in the United States. When you give to these organizations, even if earmarked for a specific relief effort, it frees resources that can then be used to help others elsewhere. Natural disasters don’t discriminate, and neither do these organizations. I strongly encourage you to consider giving to the Red Cross and Save The Children – in any amount for any disaster relief effort. No matter where the funds are spent, it’s to everyone’s benefit.

Now, Jules continues his interview, picking up on the formation of Alone In A Crowd.. -Gordo DCXX

Carl, Jules and Lars with Alone In A Crowd at The Anthrax, Photo courtesy of: Jules

I don’t know that I ever really intended to have another band after Side By Side. As I said before, I was getting pretty disillusioned with the scene. I was still hanging out and going to shows, but it wasn’t the same environment in which I started. With all the schism, the last thing I wanted to do was start another band.

I think the thing that spurred me to start Alone In A Crowd (AIAC) was the night Mike Ferraro came to my house and he had the Judge New York Crew recording on a cassette. Nobody had heard it yet. In fact, Mike, who tended to be, believe it or not, a very quiet person, hadn’t really told anybody that he and Porcell were doing the project. When I heard this for the first time in my parents’ basement I was completely blown away. Mike and I were sitting listening to my stereo and he was looking at me with that “well, what do you think?” look. I couldn’t even speak. I knew Mike had tapped into something really special with Judge.

Now Mike, like Billy from Side By Side, had been active in the scene for a long time. Death Before Dishonor (later Supertouch) was an extremely well respected band, and even though I wasn’t that into some of Supertouch’s stuff, I couldn’t stop myself from going off whenever they played the old DBD songs. Mike’s “street cred” in the scene was never questioned. He was never looked at like a new jack for being part of the straight edge scene in NY. So Mike had a very different perspective than a lot of people in ’88/'89 – I think that was very evident in his music. Judge was not going to be a “youth crew” band, it was something else altogether.

So Mike had this awesome recording... and it was just him and Porcell. He was able to create something without a band. And the content! New York Crew and I’ve Lost, for example, were songs that resonated with me. He was just as disillusioned as me, but he gave it a voice and created something with it. And it dawned on me that I still had some things to say. So I got it in my head that I would get some guys together to record a record, maybe play a few shows, and leave a thumb-print.

Rob, Lars, Jules, Carl and Howie at Lars' house in Yonkers, Photo courtesy of: Lars

Starting the project, I intentionally went beyond the usual suspects. I do not have enough fingers or toes to count how many bands Porcell, Walter, Sammy, and Luke played for over the years. I recall some shows where it seemed like Walter or Luke would play for just about every band on the bill. This time, I wanted to try something different. For example, I reached out to folks outside of NYC. I started talking to guys like Mark Pingatore from the Pagan Babies – he was in Philly – to see if he’d want to lay down some tracks. Mark expressed interest, but I don’t recall why he ended up not being involved.

Lars was I guess the first “recruit.” I felt bad that he had joined Side By Side, learning all the songs, playing only one show, and then having the band fold up on him before the record was released. Lars was committed to Uppercut, but he had some material that wasn’t really “Uppercut-like” and he thought it’d be cool to do a side project. He in turn recruited Rob, Uppercut’s drummer. Lars was from Yonkers, and friends with Carl (Raw Deal – I don’t think they had changed their name yet). So we bounced the idea off him, and he picked up the bass.

And then there was Howie. I have absolutely no recollection of where I first met him. He was from Allentown, PA, tall red-head kid... really good natured, and really funny. We used to call him “Howierd” and “Howodd.” Anyway, I always liked two guitars, so I asked him to jam with us and we had AIAC.

Looking back, one of the benefits of doing AIAC as a “project” rather than a “band,” is that the other guys were not really that emotionally invested. They had their “real” bands – except for Howie, I guess – and they were doing this for fun more than anything else. Consequently, I cannot remember a single argument over the direction of AIAC. The guys were really laid back. We would practice at Lars’ house, and then go outside and have snowball fights if we got bored or frustrated. We weren’t on the clock like a rehearsal studio. The project was finite – there were only 5 songs in the repertoire. There was never pressure to come up with new material... it was very different than the Side By Side experience.

Howie with Alone In A Crowd at The Anthrax, Photo courtesy of: Jules

Because the guys were so laid back, generally, they basically said, “tell us what you want us to do.” I couldn’t play an instrument, but I knew how I wanted the songs to sound - -and these guys were totally helpful in finding that sound. So I’d talk to Lars and try to describe what I was going for and he’d play something and we’d get it to where it sounded good. Make no mistake, three of the songs were Lars’ – and he definitely gets the credit. That’s how Is Anybody There, Who You Know, and Commitment were written. And, unlike Side By Side, I wasn’t singing anyone else’s lyrics; lyrical content was all mine.

AIAC only played one show, opening for Judge at the Anthrax. It was winter and I remember it being really cold out. So I had all these layers, including a sweatshirt, and under my pants I had sweat shorts. Mike gave me a red Judge Schism t-shirt, so I put that on over my sweatshirt. Before the set I was pretty nervous, and was in the “band room” off to the side of the stage getting psyched up for the show. A friend, I think it was Andy White (Enuf), came in and told me the band was on stage and everybody was waiting. I was about to go out there, when it dawned on me that I was still dressed like an Eskimo and would probably sweat to death. So I’m like “help me get my pants off!” This drew a funny look from Andy; I’m sure he was relieved to see I had the sweatshorts on. Anyway, getting the pants off was a lot damn harder than you would think. I thought I could slip them over my shoes – big mistake. All the while I’m thinking AIAC is off to a great start. Finally I get the _ _ _ _ ing pants off, but I realize I’m totally late, so I left all the rest on. I ran up to the stage wearing all these layers. After the first song or two, I was dying and had to peel off the sweatshirt – so when I did, the T-shirt was still on it. All bundled together, I threw it somewhere off to the side of the stage. After the set I discovered someone stole the Judge shirt – took it right off the sweatshirt. Great.

Despite the inauspicious beginning, the show itself was awesome. One thing about Hardcore back then: somehow kids would get a hold of unreleased recorded material and share it with everybody else. It was unbelievable how fast something could spread through the scene. In this case, somebody must’ve shared an AIAC rehearsal tape or something and it got passed on. So even though we hadn’t even recorded the e.p. yet, and never played a show, everybody seemed to know all the songs already – in Connecticut! And this was before the internet, file sharing, etc. Incredible. Anyway, the crowd was really receptive – it was great to be onstage after a year or so of sitting on the sidelines. I probably had a few more shows left in me, but it wasn’t meant to be.
Sometime later we recorded the e.p. and Teenager In A Box at Don Fury’s...

(To be continued...)

Carl and Lars with Alone In A Crowd at The Anthrax, Photo courtesy of: Jules


STR8TAIT said...

I hope this never ends

Anonymous said...

1) Howie was from New Jersey, fact.

2) Nice to hear that some obviously STRAIGHT EDGE kid stole his JUDGE shirt from him. Don't drink, don't smoke, don't steal?

3) I like how Jules uses "it was cold" as an excuse to wear the straight edge uniform of a T-shirt over the sweatshirt, along with sweatpants over jeans or whatever else he packed on like an eskimo. Just like Porcell wearing the sweatpants under that army shorts on the Judge pics.

4) Other than that, Jules seems like a pretty honest dude.

5) I hope this never ends, either.

Anonymous said...

Dude that stole the Judge shirt was not straight edge.
Dude that stole the Judge shirt was from Long Island.

Anonymous said...

In the early 90's, Howie went to University of the Arts in Philadelphia, and had a massive red beard. and was definitely weird, but In a good way! Wonder whatever happened to that dude?

Anonymous said...

Did they ever release the extra song? I'm assuming it's a GI cover by the title, I'd love to hear their version.

traci said...

Howie was born in Trenton, New Jersey then moved to Pa for high school, i just asked him to clarify. so he probably met those dudes when he was in Pa.

Anonymous said...

You know, if you look at the AIAC shot where they're outside in the snow-- which has appeared before on DCXX-- I suddenly realize Jules is dressed as a sailor: peacoat, watch-cap. Within a few years, Jules would enlist in the Merchant Marine and ship out.

Anonymous said...

the best interview ever keeps going and somehow keeps getting better.

theeasysubcult said...

howie was the best. we were in MUGFACE together. such a smart, mellow dude.
he might have been born in NJ but he was LVHC more than anything.
he's still an awesome human to this very day.
his little brother's hair was even redder. fucking gingers.............

Anonymous said...

1) This Interview will end.... FACT

2) I now own that JUDGE Schism shirt and will sell it on Ebay to the highest bidder

3) It is never cold in Connecticut in the winter... Jules was probably sweating his balls off to ear the "Straight Edge" uniform, just like Porcell!

4) Howie's hair was entirely red except for a small grey patch that grew from a mole on the back oh his head!!! FACT!!!

Anonymous said...

one more FACT:

in the late 90s any sxe kid was sporting the "sxe uniform". especially in europe ;)