Jeff Banks with The Chorus
Graduated from UC Berkeley and then studied law with the Jesuits at Creighton. Moved to Las Vegas wanting to get into professional boxing promotion. Interviewed with Top Rank and got denied. Worked as a bookmaker's clerk at a Horse Race Book until I passed the bar. Spun my wheels in private practice at a firm and did criminal defense under the radar for the indigent. Became a public defender in Las Vegas and have not looked back.
I defend the class of people who simply cannot defend themselves. Poor, illiterate, many times hated underdogs. Many people from the HC years don't get it and are appalled by the work. I've found that most people from the HC years do get it (especially those who have listened to "Police Story" (Dez version), a thousand times). I now handle strictly murder cases, both death penalty and non-death penalty, and the occasional high profile molest or rape case.
These days I record from time to time with a punk band called the Leavenworth Men's Glee Club and mountain bike all over Nevada and California when I can.
Jeff getting swarmed by reporters and cameras
Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Thursday August 11th
@ the First Unitarian Church
2125 Chestnut Street
6pm 1st Band
Friday August 12th
@ the Starlight Ballroom
460 n. 9th Street
5:30 1st band
Youth of Today
Mother of Mercy
Saturday August 13th
@ the Starlight Ballroom
460 n. 9th Street
11:30 am doors
12pm 1st Band
Blacklisted with Jay Pepito and Zack Trotta performing We're
Unstoppable era songs
Dead End Path
Strength For a Reason
Sunday August 14th
@ the Starlight Ballroom
460 n. 9th Street
11:30 am doors
12pm 1st Band
From Ashes Rise
Reach the Sky
Down To Nothing
Wisdom In Chains
All Else Failed
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Jules takes the stage with Alone In A Crowd at The Anthrax, Norwalk CT, Photo courtesy of: Jules
Jules returns with part VI of our epic interview with him. Be sure to also check out the most recent items right out of Jules' personal collection that we have up for auction here on DCXX. All money is going to benefit the Japanese Relief Effort:
Japanese Relief Auction
And in case you missed the previous installment to this interview:
Jules Part V
Part VII still to come... -Gordo DCXX
The crowd watches on as Jules brings it down, Photo courtesy of: Jules
Now, I recognize I may be the victim of nostalgia here as I recall my time in the NYHC scene. And nostalgia can be a dangerous thing -- it removes the rough edges of the past, obscures the truth. So much of what I’m about to say may be somewhat romanticized, but I’m going to risk saying it anyway in an attempt to communicate what the scene was like for me and how I perceived its change over a few short years.
In 1986-87, and particularly the summer of ’87, it was an awesome time to be into hardcore in NY. The different “cliques” seemed to get along, shows featured diverse bands on the bills, with little or no problems. There were lots of shows. Back then Raybeez “promoted” Pyramid matinees, which were more or less run by the kids. And for me, out on St. Marks, or Tompkins Square, or at Some Records, there was always someone I knew, and though we may not have seen eye to eye, we sort of looked out for each other. If you found yourself in a bad spot, there was oftentimes someone around who had your back – even if they didn’t know you that well. I mean sure, there was some static, some dispute brewing somewhere – but on the whole, it was pretty peaceful within the scene. There was definitely an “us against them” attitude regarding the mainstream world.
And as I said earlier, there was an inclusive spirit. For instance, Raybeez put the word out at a show, on a whim, for a bunch of kids to play softball the following weekend at the diamonds at Tompkins Square – and a whole random crew showed up. Too bad that the leagues had already booked the diamonds that day (and NY softball leagues take that _ _ _ _ very, very seriously). When all these hardcore kids showed up, and started encroaching on the field, the league teams were, ahhh, rather vocal about it. For being dicks to us, we messed with their game a little bit in the outfield, but one of the teams had off duty cops on it... so that didn’t last very long. We never got to play... but that really wasn’t the point, we all hung out anyway. It was little things like this that made all the difference... that summer there was no pretention, it was genuine. I realize I'm making it sound like the freakin' summer of love ('67), which is a horrible analogy, and I apologize. I hate to say "you had to be there," but given the difficulty I'm having communicating this... perhaps it is true.
As far as the diversity at shows... I can think of many examples, but one that stands out is Side By Side playing a couple of shows with Altercation. Side By Side’s first show was also Altercation’s first show. They had this Cro-Mags/metalcore sound, and had kinda vengeful, street justice/survival lyrics. They were awesome (in fact, after their sound check we were totally embarrassed that we had to play our first show with them... they blew us away... after that show I listened to their demo nonstop for a week), but they were definitely a different vibe. Now, I never had any problems with Jay or any of those guys, I’m just saying they weren’t the crowd Side By Side was caught up in at the time. It didn’t matter back then. In fact, we organized and played a last minute Pyramid matinee with them... I think we may have even created joint Side By Side/Altercation stickers, or t-shirts, or something, to promote that show. It was really small (I think we were the only two bands playing), but it was fun.
Alone In A Crowd at The Anthrax, Photo courtesy of: Jules
Funny story... the one time I invite my old man to come see the band was that show. Now mind you, I was always telling my dad about straight edge and the positive scene and all that. I think it was the norm back then for parents to suspect their kids were on drugs. Deep down, I think my folks thought I had to be on drugs to be into hardcore. Anyway, so my old man is standing by the front door of the Pyramid watching Altercation play. Jay’s up there singing about vigilantism or something, and one of his friends lights a joint and passes it up to the stage – so Jay’s toking up and I’m like... “great, now my dad will NEVER believe me again.” My dad ended up not caring, but the point of all of this is, for at least that summer, it wasn’t like there was just a straight edge scene, or just a skinhead scene, or a just a punk scene – back then, it was one scene... maybe not always a big happy family, but there was a lot of tolerance. A lot more than in later years.
Somewhere along the line, that changed. Throughout ’88 and onward, all kinds of schism, on the macro and micro scale, became the norm. There was a lot of inter and intra band strife. Side By Side broke up. Richie left YOT not on good terms, same thing with Mike Ferraro, and Craig Ahead – if memory serves. Breakdown had a major falling out. Straight Ahead got back together and then broke up again. The Cro-Mags got rid of John Joseph... that was a crazy thing. You’d be surprised how that lineup change affected the whole scene.
I remember this one kid, suburban youth crew type from California, I think, was visiting NY and was at a CB’s matinee. He was hanging with some of the guys from BOLD out front, when John Joseph came around. And this kid got all excited and goes “Hey where’s Harley!” at like the top of his lungs, and Matt grabbed the guy and said under his breath “dude, shut the _ _ _ _ up!” Tensions were that high – you couldn’t even speak of it for fear of, well... something. I am told that the animosity between those two continues to this day.
The band rivalries were also a major downer to me. There had always been some territoriality: Boston v. NY, for example. There always seemed to be some beef (no pun intended) between YOT and Slapshot. But that same kind of stuff started happening more and more just between NY bands. Bands are naturally composed of a lot of egos – my bands were no exception. For instance, Walter and I used to go round and round about who should have “top billing” between GB and Side By Side, which was stupid and just caused unnecessary static. That kind of stuff kept getting worse though... I think one possible explanation is that back in ’87 the bands that this webzine focuses on were simply not that big a deal yet. But by late ’88, a lot of bands had toured, released LPs on bigger labels. And I think on the whole the music scene (which is what it's really all about, right?) became more about me, me, me as opposed to us, us, us.
Even Raybeez, who was a big proponent of scene unity turned more to promoting his band. I can’t say I blame him... War Zone had been around forever. He must’ve gotten very frustrated – he could never keep a lineup together long enough to make the band work. He got Luke to play drums and eventually “cannibalized” Altercation to record the Don’t Forget The Struggle LP, but before that there was no real stability with War Zone. Hell, Walter played with them for awhile, as a favor to Raybeez.
Jules fronting Alone In A Crowd while someone in an Insted shirt goes for a dive, Photo courtesy of: Jules
A turning point with me and Ray came at the end of the summer of ’87. Side By Side played a Pyramid matinee and apparently Nina Hagen, an East German punk rock diva (who I wasn't familiar with at all) heard us and wanted us to tour with her. She told the bartender at the Pyramid, and the bartender told Raybeez. So Ray comes up to me all serious: “I gotta talk to you.” Now normally at this point he would punch me in my chest, he always used to punch me, hard, in my chest. It was his way of showing affection, I guess. Anyway, no punch this time – so I knew something was up. So he tells me that Nina Hagen wants us to open for her on tour, and looking at his face, he was not happy about it. This was no "attaboy." Raybeez resented it--he had a real problem with Side By Side attracting this kind of attention. We weren't on great terms after that. In fact, I don't think I ever played on the same bill as War Zone again. Over something stupid like Nina Hagen talking to the bartender at Pyramid-- which in the end never came to anything.
I gave the bartender my phone number. A week or so later, I got the call from Berlin in my mother's kitchen. Hagen had this thick, thick accent and we had a lot of trouble understanding each other. Right off the bat, she asked if the band name was Ultraviolence -- and I got the distinct impression she hadn't even seen Side By Side and this was all a big mistake. "You're sure you're not Ultraviolence?" She kept asking. She also kept saying "groovy," but she said it with the umlauts, so it sounded really weird in addition to being totally anachronistic. "That's groovy, I'm going to send you a parcel" she said. Then I had to give her my address... what a disaster. You try telling German superfreak Nina Hagen words over the phone like H-a-c-k-e-n-s-a-c-k and W-e-e-h-a-w-k-e-n. Email would have been very helpful, but this was back in the analog world. Needless to say the parcel never arrived. The whole thing was such a bizarre experience I kept waiting for Raybeez to tell me that he was just _ _ _ _ ing with me... that it was all a joke and he put somebody up to calling me. But it wasn't.
At the time I just looked at it as a chance to play. I mean, Nina Hagen and Side By Side would've been a ridiculous pairing... it was stupid to think that it would ever actually happen. But what the hell -- we weren't looking for it, but if offered, why not? But the very thought of Side By Side being offered that kind of opportunity was enough to piss Raybeez off, as if the opportunity was somehow at his expense. That was the scarcity mentality, I guess... the opportunities were perceived as limited, so if one band took advantage it was to all the other bands' detriment. This was the perception, and it went beyond Ray, it seemed to be pervasive. Where bands used to support each other, now it seemed it was every band for itself. Lots of band rivalries, backstabbing, etc. Lots of bad blood. Anyway, it took years before Raybeez and I got to a better place.
And as if all of this wasn't enough, there was an uptick in street violence, and it was not necessarily racially motivated. In addition to the white power skinhead thing I talked about earlier, skinhead types would gang up on kids, take their jackets, take their shoes. Again, I guess it always happened... but in ’88, it just seemed to become like an everyday occurrence. Oftentimes the out of town straight edge kids would be the targets. I remember a local skater kid got jumped, got his shoes vicked -- he was this skinny guy, and he was outnumbered at least 4 or 5 to 1. But a year or so later, he had bulked up (steroids or something) and he caught up with one of them and beat the soul out of him. Not so tough when they are alone, I guess. The hardcore kids were preying on each other -- where it was once us against them, it was increasingly us against us.
And whether or not my recollections here are entirely correct, this was definitely my perception of the scene at the time. I was very disillusioned, and really, really angry. More angry than I have probably ever been. With Side By Side gone, that anger found a voice in Alone In A Crowd...
This song goes out to the Youth Crew, old and new… Lars and Jules at The Anthrax with Alone In A Crowd, Photo courtesy of: Jules
Monday, May 23, 2011
Here's the follow-up to Bobby Sullivan breaking down the lyrics to Soulside's Hot Bodi-Gram. If you missed the piece on Side A:
Bobby Sullivan breaks down side A
Thanks to Bobby and John Scharbach for making this happen. -Gordo DCXX
HATE MUSIC (Johnny lyrics)
Rocks don't sweat, neither does skin
nailed to my chair so I don't float away
make me watch that kiss
I'm content with no problem
I never asked for a problem
Johnny (bassist) was getting his aggression out on this one. It was about his feelings with a certain relationship in his life. This was his first lyrical contribution and I wanted to do it. I could relate to feeling stuck in a situation that was painful.
NEW FAST FUCKY
Pick up the stones that you left behind
another way I will not find
Too many mouths, too many hands grabbing my toothless head
Walk through the bones, kick through the stones
Just give me that easy introspection
It's all so clear to me
Step over nowheresville it's all history
Pass it over to me
This imagery came from the catacombs under Paris. After our show there, we visited the underground tunnels lined with the bones of thousands of dead bodies from the time of The Plague. You could pick up skulls and walls were made of the stacked bones.
It's a song about reconciling the past and realizing that one day we will all be like those people, whose bones were there for us to step over. Our lives will be gone and our descendents will be left to wonder what we did for the world. With the past it's easy to point out mistakes. In the present it's easy to make light of it all, until the challenges of the future grab us into another reality. I was ready to stop joking around and to do some work.
KILL (Scott vocals)
(these lyrics are not written out on the layout for some reason)
I want to take you to New York
it's going to be a big party
I want to take you to New York
it's going to be a big jam
then she said take me west
you know I don't believe it
then she said take me there
you know I don't believe it
then you can take me to hell
then we can get in your car
and we can roll it into Chicago
just like it should be
it's all a party to me
it's all a party
yeah that's a party to me
yeah you can take me to hell and back
as long as you do it now
I can't speak on this song except to say that it was more or less an early Girls Against Boys song. I was glad to step out of the spotlight, but unfortunately this song made it clear Scott was moving on.
Try to thrive but I know there's competition
Naked attention but you love everyone
You see me, I see right through you
we love each other when were down
were never down
This is a song about conflicting with friends. Unfortunately it was both about Soulside and the DC scene itself at the end of the 80's. After a bunch of touring, we played a show with a couple DC bands and the vibe was sour. There were all sorts of jealousies going around, which rattled me. The scene we were part of was all about sharing – shows, equipment, critique, styles, everything and anything. The bands were there for each other through thick and thin, and it was mostly thin.
Now that Soulside was getting recognition, there were some folks in our midst who held that competitive spirit, even within the band. It was a big disappointment. Popularity at that time was not so much about media hype, since punk was still underground. Bands then made a name for themselves by touring and networking, before the internet. All connections were shared, so there was no room for jealousy. It was about doing the work and popularity had a lot more to do with how long you had been around.
The back up vocals by Scott (the guitar player) display well the competition going in in the band at the time. As he sang “we're never down,” it was my belief that he was trying to contradict my lyrics. I didn't object, because I felt it fit the flavor of the song. We were writing these songs on that last tour and as tensions rose, we tended to work it out in the music, even in the live sets. I felt that these tensions could create some great songs, as they usually do in all the bands that have classic conflicts between the lead guitar player and the singer. Unfortunately our conflict was too great to continue making music together, but I think it made a great album.
A LOVE SUPREME
When I see the black snow it makes me sad to know
pushed aside with the misunderstood
legs covered on the hill never running again
This song was our resolve, where all tensions could relax. When we played it live, it always had a soothing effect on rowdy crowds. When we first created it, I was transported to another level. I had a vision about an old friend who had died, and he was buried in the hill we used to run on. The emotion matched the feel of the song. The reference to black snow has to do with the fact that it was winter time and all the discolored snow from the cars' exhaust was still hanging around the city – such a contrast to how pretty it looks when it's new. I thought this was a good metaphor for life in a lot of ways. The title was a reference to one of our favorite compositions by John Coltrane. It was a tribute.
This Patsy Cline cover was our drummer's singing debut. We did it for fun, and then as crazy as it sounds, we couldn't resist putting it on there... we were warped from touring so long.
Sunday, May 22, 2011
Every once in awhile we come across a video or collection of videos that we here at DCXX consider to be must see viewing. These Bad Brains videos right here fall directly into that category. Bad Brains from The Ritz in New York City, December 27th, 1986, with the Cro-Mags as an opener. As cliche as it may sound, this is one of those time machine worthy shows. Pure Bad Brains perfection and a crowd that is absolutely eating them up, dive after dive. Soak it in, hardcore's forefathers, arguably at their peek. -Tim DCXX
Thursday, May 19, 2011
Here is the latest round of record auctions from Jules of Side By Side / Alone In A Crowd. Every penny is going to the relief efforts in Japan. Jules has secured a matching donation which will double the value of the money raised through the auctions.
Clearly the people of Japan need our help more than ever. Please consider bidding. If not, we encourage you to give a donation in whatever amount you can to one of the many relief organizations who will need your help. If you can make a difference in one person's life, however small, it is worth it.
Please help us to let the people of Japan know they are not in this alone.
This auction ends this Friday, May 27, at 8am EST.
Terms & Conditions:
*All items from Jules' personal collection.
*Please read each individual record's description for specific details and condition.
*Bidding is to be made on individual records. This is not an auction for the whole batch.
*You can bid on multiple items, but a specific bid must be placed on each item.
*Bidding must be rounded to the dollar. No cents business
*All sales are final.
*All records have a starting reserve price.
*All offers/bids must be sent to Gordo at email@example.com, who is handling this for Jules.
*Offers/bids are not to be sent anywhere else, not in the comment section, not to Tim, not via Facebook, etc.
*Paypal is the only accepted method of payment.
*Do not bid if you are unable to pay at the time of auction close or if you cannot send funds via paypal.
*Bidders will be contacted ASAP privately via email from Gordo with the status of their bid and the current top bid.
*Re-bidding is allowed and encouraged.
*The bidding for these specific Round 1 items will close at 8am Eastern Standard Time on THIS FRIDAY, MAY 27.
*At that time, the top 3 bidders will be contacted privately to place a final bid.
*The final top bidder must be able to transfer funds via paypal to Gordo at firstname.lastname@example.org within 48 hours of final close.
*All shipping & handling costs must be paid for additionally by BUYER, and this amount is not a part of the bid amount.
*All shipping & handling costs will be determined fairly between Gordo and buyer.
*Shipping & handling costs can be combined if multiple items are won by the same bidder.
*All items will be shipped via USPS to the buyer's liking.
*All proceeds will be transferred by Gordo to Jules for the purpose of final matched charitable contribution, doubling the total amount.
*Bidder/winner identities will not be disclosed.
*EVERY CENT GOES TO CHARITY FOR JAPANESE RELIEF. NOBODY IS MAKING A DIME ON ANY OF THIS.
*Questions, offers/bids - Gordo: email@example.com - auction ends Friday May 27 at 8am EST.
THANK YOU!!! - Jules, Tim & Gordo
Alone In A Crowd - 7" - Flux/Cargo Records first press test pressing, hand written dust sleeve only, no cover. Reserve Price: $50
Warzone - "Lower East Side Crew" 7" - Revelation Records 1st press. Reserve Price: $50
Vision - "Undiscovered" 7" - New Scene Records. Reserve Price: $20
Red Alert - "We've Got The Power" LP - No Future Records. Reserve Price: $15
Agnostic Front - "Liberty & Justice" LP - Combat Records. Reserve Price: $15
Instead - "Bonds Of Friendship" LP - Wishingwell Records. Reserve Price: $15
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Pretty cool, multi angle, edited video of Shelter from The Rat in Boston on June 19th of 1990. This is from their first tour that they did with Quicksand and Inside Out and had the lineup of Porcell on guitar, Graham Land on guitar, Yasomatinandana das on bass and Sammy Siegler on drums. Great lineup, great energy, early Shelter, driven and on a mission, getting out there and trying to turn it all around. -Tim DCXX
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Joe Foster neck deep in the Pacific, Photo courtesy of: Joe Foster
Joe D. Foster returns for part 4 of our ongoing interview with him. In case you missed the previous entries, here you go:
Joe Foster Part I
Joe Foster Part II
Joe Foster Part III
Dig in! -Gordo DCXX
Joe Foster, bottom left corner, 1987 Morey Boogie Bodyboard division top 8
Outside of hardcore, you were involved with bodyboarding and modeling over the years...where did it all start with that stuff, what did you do specifically, and what about today?
LOL, yeah, bodyboarding and hardcore was what I was into growing up. I'd say I had an equal passion for both. I was doing Unity and competing as a pro bodyboarder at the same time. Longrie used to get so mad. When the waves were good and I was late to practice he would call my mom and tell her I was out of the band, LOL.
I did the bodyboarding tour until '87 and finished 5th in the world that year. Kinda reached a personal inner satisfaction and guess was open to whatever else the world had to offer….I separated my shoulder one day getting slammed into the sand and couldn't surf for awhile so I was just hanging out with my friends. One night we all went out to a night club and I was scouted by the owner's wife of some modeling agency. Went in and met with them the following week and then within one month I was living in Paris. It was kinda through this I picked up photography too. I would always buy a cheap acoustic guitar and write music while I was gone.
Where did modeling take you and what was that whole world like?
As far as places went, I lived in Paris for about 2 years, Italy for a year, and then numerous stays, meaning months, in Spain, Germany, South Africa, Greece, Korea, Japan and Taiwan.I found that once the mystery of travel was gone and the whole modeling job was reduced to just what it was, I started looking for other things to keep my interest. I would watch photographers set up on my modeling jobs and try and learn what and why they were doing things. I also focused on languages. I got pretty good in Italian for awhile.
Some of the jobs I did were Giannfrance Ferre, Emporio Armani, Levi's, Peirre Cardin, GQ magazine, 17 magazine (one time with Cameron Diaz), Details magazine, millions of catalogues and fashion shows, and also danced in Madonna's Express Yourself video. The job itself probably caused unexpected problems for me down the line. You deal with a lot of rejection at a young age. I never thought of myself as a model, seems so self-glorified, conceited etc…it was an opportunity to see the world for free and that was what it was all about for me. Little did I know I would go back to all the same places with Ignite.
Joe Foster, Versace ad
How did Unity officially end, and what type of connection did you have with hardcore between that time (1988/1989) and when you started Ignite (1993)? Had you gotten out of HC? What type of tabs did you keep on the scene in OC and how did it change to you?
I never got out of hardcore, just America and hardcore's eye. I always wrote on the road and always loved the expression of the music and the freedom of expression. I would hear the music style changing when I would be back in town, and eventually missed the old sound so much that I started Ignite.
Joe Foster, early Unity, Photo courtesy of: Joe Foster
How exactly did Ignite come to be, and what was the whole idea? Tell us about the original line-up, and how you came to write those early songs.
One day I was in my apartment in Japan and just miserable. I remember sitting on the edge of my bed asking myself when was the last time I was happy. The answer was when I was surfing and playing hardcore. I shaved my head that night and walked into the agency the next morning. They freaked out but I told them they could keep all the money. I just wanted on the next flight home.
When I got home, I called Brett and told him my idea. To bring back a certain sound of hardcore, not for any other reason except that I wanted to hear it. We practiced in my garage to a drum machine for few weeks and then went out to find members. We got Casey pretty quick which was great. The singer thing was hard. Nelson at first, then Randy who I really liked, Gavin ended up in the band for awhile too and though him, we got Zoli…I'll never forget that. Brett called me and said we had a singer…I show up to practice and see this guy with hair down to his ass wearing cop glasses and sitting in some old VW van. He's like, "Hi, I'm Zolton." I was like, oh my gosh, did you just say Zolton??? So funny.
Anyway, guess the rest is history on that. To me, Zoli could have sang for Journey or any huge rock band. Such a pure beautiful voice. The songs came easy, Brett had a really melodic bass style that I grooved to real well. I loved writing with Brett.
What was the reaction like when Ignite started up? Why the line-up changes with singers early on, and what worked/didn't work with Joe and Randy before Zoli came in? What did you want to do with the band?
Really didn't have any plan with the band. Maybe play some local shows etc, but it was primarily to just play and hear that style of music again. No For An Answer was on tour in Europe and the owner of Lost and Found Records asked Dan how to get ahold of me. Guess he wanted to release the Unity You Are One 7" on cd. I get this call one day from them and he also asked what I was up to with music. I told him I had this new band called Ignite. He asked me to send him a demo. Three weeks later he got back to me and said he wanted to release the first Ignite album and asked if we would like to go on tour with Slapshot for three months in the summer. Things kinda just took off from there...
Joe hangin' with the Les Paul, Photo courtesy of: Joe Foster
Monday, May 16, 2011
To me, the Descendents are one of those bands that I almost take for granted. I've been a fan of them at least since "Enjoy!" was released in 1986 (I was a tiny, wet behind the ears 12 year old), yet when asked who my favorite bands are, for whatever reason, the Descendents are just not one of the bands that instantly come to mind. Truth is though, so many of their songs can easily be considered some of my favorite songs ever… period.
Some of those tracks off "Enjoy!" are just incredible, timeless, classics, "Wendy", "Kids", "Hurtin' Crue", "Sour Grapes", "Get The Time", "Cheer", I could listen to those songs over and over again and you better believe that I have.
The Descendents at City Gardens, Trenton, NJ, Photo: Ken Salerno
Following "Enjoy!", came "ALL", which again has some of my favorite songs ever. Of course there are few not-so-hot tracks that we could probably do without, but with songs like "Coolidge", "Clean Sheets" and my personal favorite, "Pep Talk", they clearly make up for anything that could be considered somewhat lackluster.
The album "ALL" also holds a special place for me, just for the fact that my first show ever was seeing the Descendents on the "ALL" tour at City Gardens, in June of 1987. I remember at the time, my favorite song by them was the Beach Boys cover, "Wendy" off of "Enjoy!" I couldn't be more stoked hearing them play that live.
Bill Stevenson with the Descendents at City Gardens, Photo: Ken Salerno
At that time, the Descendents just seemed like one of the biggest bands in the world. Everyone I knew liked them and they definitely seemed to fit in perfectly with the whole skateboarding scene that I was deeply submerged in. They just had that perfect combination of melody, heaviness, humor and sappiness that no one else has ever seemed to match. In essence, in 1987, the Descendents were a perfect band in my eyes.
It wasn't until after I had owned "Enjoy!" and "ALL" that I finally got my hands on "Milo Goes to College" and "I Don't Want to Grow Up", both of which were nothing but pure greatness, but "Enjoy!" and "ALL" had already been my introduction to the Descendents and had already left a huge impression on me. So as much as I love "Milo Goes to College" and "I Don't Want to Grow Up", I knew when voting in this poll, "Enjoy!" or "ALL" were one of the records that I was going to be voting for.
Milo gives the Trenton crowd a hand, Photo: Ken Salerno
So what record did I vote for? Tough choice, but I went with "ALL". I know… not quite as classic as most of the earlier material and not even as many choice tracks as "Enjoy!" might have had, but with "Coolidge", "Clean Sheets" and "Pep Talk" alone, I just felt like I had to go with "ALL". Obviously not the popular choice and I certainly can't argue with any of the choices, but as the saying goes, it's the choice I made and I'm stickin' to it. -Tim DCXX
Descendents - "Milo Goes to College" - 351
Descendents - "Everything Sucks" - 114
Descendents - "I Don't Want to Grow Up" - 108
Descendents - "ALL" - 70
Descedents - "Enjoy!" - 21
Descendents - "Cool to be You" - 17
Sunday, May 15, 2011
Friday, May 13, 2011
Bobby Sullivan returns to explain the lyrics to the Soulside Hot Bodi-Gram LP. Thanks to John Scharbach and Bobby for this one, side B to follow. -Gordo DCXX
This is God City
This is love parade
This is Mr. Fuckers last rites
There are no names
There is no pain
These walls have been pissed on
the train is leaving
God City is about DC. It was a song Scott developed on the guitar over the course of the tour as an instrumental. We developed the lyrics spontaneously in the studio. We each contributed a line, even our roadie. The dark exasperated nature of the song reflects well how strange it was to grow up in DC. The federal government has all those monuments and stories as if it was the greatest nation on earth. But while we were growing up there, homelessness was at a new peak. There were always groups of people bundled up, sleeping on the steps of so many of those temple-like structures. It was easy to see something wasn't right. The tourist town aspect with all its glitz and glitter only hid the harsh realities of the dirty city and the evil politicians running the country.
A headless Bobby Sullivan takes flight with Soulside in Boston, Photo courtesy of: Soulside
WHAT DO YOU KNOW ABOUT THAT?
Life on the rooftops, saw the sun and the moon
Lost the core of the city, lost the concrete so pretty
bore the hope and the pity, forged the trust--pity
Saw the TV eyes in the mirror and mind reflect
truth and lies of the life outside and reflect the life
I want to see to believe, gimme a miracle
Conscience demands my truth
These were lyrics I wrote in Boston. I moved there to go to college between Soulside tours and ended up living there for 7 years. The scene was different, but I enjoyed it a lot. I was a constant street-skater and ended up getting involved with a few local bands, roadying for Slapshot a few times. Soulside had played there with the Henry Rollins band earlier so I had met a lot of people from the scene. 7 Seconds, Youth Brigade and the whole BYO Showcase played there my first day. The Descendents stayed at my apartment, as well as the Ex from Amsterdam. (Years later, my band there, 7 League Boots, played a lot with the Mighty Mighty Bosstones and Bim Skala Bim. Their horn sections backed us up at live shows. One time a totally unknown band at the time named Pearl Jam opened for us at a show with the Lemonheads).
Being in college in Boston between Soulside tours was a mind-wrenching experience. College really seemed like a sham in a lot of ways and I was looking for ways to apply the passion and knowledge of the incredible DIY movement we were all a part of. Maybe touring had made me antsy, but sitting around reading “major authors” in class was not my cup of tea. Luckily I had Howard Zinn, author of A People's History Of The US, as a professor and many speakers to see and meet, including Bobby Seale, Angela Davis, Abbie Hoffman, Noam Chomsky, Chuck D. when he spoke at Harvard and more. There was a lot going on and I was soaking it all up.
So, back to the lyrics... My friends and I used to hang out on the roof of my apartment building. From the roof, we could see right into Fenway Park on game nights. But my mind would always sway from the spectacle. I would find myself trying to figure out the constellations or the path of the moon. The sun as the Soulside logo was significant because I've always felt the pull of Nature, opposing our immediate man-made surroundings. This song is about being drawn out of our normal reality, realizing we are part of a huge cosmos. It was a reaction to apartment life and how cave-like we can be with TV's. College was filled with armchair intellectuals, creating so much verbal drama, with the subject of the day being driven by the media. I wanted to see something, maybe even a miracle to wake people up. Our minds have so many ways of thinking. Hope, pity, trust – our conscience is the link to a greater understanding of the issues at hand.
Alexis with Soulside, Photo: Ken Salerno
PUNCH THE GEEK
Punch the geek, ego speaks
Boys fun needs boys gun
No need to aim I'm right here
No matter what I'm in,
No matter what I'm on
The air about your head
Sweet sun of a bitch
Boston was a pretty tough town. Even in the pit at shows, their style of slam-dancing was rough. Out on the streets, being punk and/or having dreads was not easy in the 80's. MTV hadn't made all the styles mainstream yet, not by a long shot. Having bleached hair meant you were a “faggot,” having dreads meant “nigger” in some places. Even in the black community dreads were something to challenge, as Afro-centricity was still soon to come with the Malcolm X ball cap craze that Spike Lee prompted with his movie on Malcolm. I can truly say that MTV changed everything, as once alternative styles became more popular, me and my friends weren't getting jumped all the time.
This song speaks to the bullying that leads to gun violence. It's a confidence game where guns play the ultimate role. The battle for male dominance is dangerous, especially as it plays out in our personal lives. It starts when we are kids and for some follows a frightening evolution into their adult lives. What always struck me was the mental struggle of the bullies. So insecure, striking out at others – they are pitiful men. If you look them smack-dab in the eyes, they'll often take a step back. Although... sometimes it's just enough to rile their anger.
We were most often confronted by fists, so our skateboards provided ample defense. Only once or twice were knives involved. One night though I was jumped by 12 guys on the subway. When things started getting trickier and guns started showing up, I was able to step out into the Soulside tour. Some of those scraps I had in Boston left a lasting impression on me.
Lipstick lies but looks so good and tastes so bad
Heard about the good life on the radio, come up on the best
Monuments in view, rock on high
Where does the money come from?
You take the bay and I'll take the sky
your head in the sun
Smarter people will do dumber things
Clifton wall, no need to advertise
No slogans apply, just say now
Can't beat the view, it's a buy
Clifton wall is a place in DC, right next to a high school where at the time of the song's writing, people bought and sold crack cocaine (the “rock on high”). It's next to a couple housing projects on a big hill overlooking the monuments. It's eery at night with the monuments lit up in the distance and hooded characters doing their trade in the foreground. Scott (guitarist) and Johnny (bassist) moved into a group house a couple blocks away, so we were in the area a lot.
“Lipstick lies, but looks so good” was a graffiti piece I passed daily when I lived in Roxbury, in Boston. I attached it to the beginning, as I thought if fit the sentiment of the rest of the song. Back to DC - the drug trade is so easy to demonize, but the causes have to be looked at. The reality is that most poor people living in the US face discrimination in the workplace, in the hiring practices and moving up the ladder, once they get hired. Most are completely shut out of the potential for economic stability, while images of “the good life” are displayed all around them.
People have to do something to pay the bills. I'm not condoning the choice to deal crack, but with deteriorating economic conditions in that neighborhood, the biggest growth industry for any entrepreneur was all too obvious. It's really horrible that crack-cocaine garnered higher sentencing than regular cocaine. The prison system is now full of these petty criminals, while the ones making real money off of the drug trade are allowed to remain below the radar of the media, so outside of public scrutiny.
Bobby delivers with Soulside, Photo: Shawn Scallen
NEW SLOW FUCKY
Dignity in the steps of the down
Over the hill fly over the town
Meet me in the safety zone
What does my time do for you?
Social social let's be social
Don't want to spoil the day
We can cut the grass at your place
I'm in the mood for one too many ideas
The title had nothing to do with the subject matter of the song. This song and “New Fast Fucky” were written in tandem and named before they had lyrics. One was slow and the other fast. They were named after an inside joke we had after being approached on the street in Amsterdam to see a “good” show that was “real fucky fucky” according to the gentleman offering the invitation.
The lyrics show my reaction to a realization of being in a somewhat exalted position as a traveling musician, college student and a middle class kid in general. I recognized much more dignity in the walk of the downtrodden people of our society. The upper classes all over the world have “safety zones” to reside in, not affected by or even seeing the struggles of most of the world. I was at the cusp of adulthood here, wondering where I would fit in, finding new people and new ways of thinking.
I found my social time in activist circles mostly, in a search for the best way to approach the issues I was concerned with. As someone who grew up somewhat between the races, taken for both black and white by different people, I was possessed with race politics, especially surrounding the legacies of colonialism and its continuing tendencies in the western world. Grass is hopefully an obvious enough reference as I moved away from alcohol completely, enjoying other ways to expand my mind. I found my reasonings with others in this state of mind to be a lot more fruitful then the belligerent parties I was avoiding. Rasta elders were coming into my life, helping me overstand certain world phenomena and how a spiritual/historical approach to life could quell my restless mind.
It's the time for the break life baby
soon come happy good life itchy
Let's talk of honesty but crooked Peter's bugging me
Can't wait to live my life
Can't wait to get the pictures back
This was a song about feeling trapped in a situation you're not comfortable with, but still need to see through. The tour was getting long and I was more increasingly left out of the band's late night hangouts. I was happy to go find fun in what ever town we were in, but after a while it was wearing on me. I was ready to move on, to be free from this “itchy good life.”
Crooked Peter was a character in a book I read as a child. He was the one always stirring up strife. He was symbolized by one individual in particular in my life at the time. I was ready for the tour to be over and to figure out where I was going to make my mark. Getting “the pictures back,” referred to being done with the tour and the strife...
Bobby in the shadows with Soulside, Photo courtesy of: Soulside
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Dimitri Coats and Keith Morris with OFF!, Photo: Keith Marlowe
Limited Edition 7" single, released during Record Store Day 2011. Sold out everywhere, but still some in stock on this collectible piece of vinyl at Generation Records.
This single features four stand out tracks recorded during the band's Generation Records in-store performance. Mixed by the OFF! member, Steven McDonald.
Monday, May 9, 2011
Bobby and Alexis with Soulside at Maxwells in Hoboken, NJ, Photo: Ken Salerno
Crucial John Scharbach, singer of DC's Give, got in touch with Bobby Sullivan of Soulside to get the backstory on the lyrics behind each song off of Soulside's Hot Bodi-Gram. Bobby delivered a great write-up, and John sent it our way. Very cool insights on one of harDCcore's most important bands. This is a multi-part entry, with the explanations to the lyrics coming in part 2. Stay tuned.
Thanks John and Bobby! -Gordo DCXX
At the beginning of the Soulside tour in 1989, it was apparent it would be our last. With 2 months in the US and 4 months in Europe, we played over 100 shows. And in a sense, the recording of Hot Bodi-Gram, just outside of Amsterdam, was the last show of the tour. Many of the songs were composed along the way at sound checks and experimental portions of our live shows. All the energy from the tour went into the recording. It was a great way to express all the things we had seen and felt along the way.
The European leg of our tour took us to the East Block where we were the 1st US band to play in East Berlin and 3 cities in Poland. It was 6 months before the Berlin Wall fell. We went as far north as Oslo in Norway and as far south as Thessaloniki in Greece. We played in Croatia and our shows in Bosnia and Kosovo were canceled because of the rising tensions in the region. This was one year before the horrible war there and the breakup of Yugoslavia. We drove right through Kosovo and had a hard time driving around Albania to get to Greece. The checkpoints were intense.
In Rome we played in a squat that was a former army fort on the outskirts of town. When the police tried to take it back, which happened from time to time, the punks simply locked the gates and dropped the bridge over the moat. We played a show with 5 bands for the equivalent of $5 and Soundgarden played the same night in a club for the equivalent of $20. Needless to say, we had the crowd at the fort. In northern Spain we stayed with anarchists in the Basque Country, where they had a longstanding independence movement. In Oslo we participated in an anti-fascist rally on May Day. People filled the streets with signs promoting their various agendas. The fascists wore white jumps suits and the communists wore red. The squat we played at was bombed by the fascist party a week after we were there.
Soulside's Scott McCloud at Maxwells, Photo: Ken Salerno
Even with all our adventures, tensions were rising in the group, especially about the direction of our message. I was experiencing a lot of resistance to specifically mentioning the political and social issues I was involved in at the time. Unfortunately we were growing in different directions and I was in a separate camp all by myself. I always felt that the lyrics should represent the whole band – they were getting sick of doing interviews about Mumia and veganism, so I acquiesced, making my references more vague. I could see the potential of value in this approach. Sometimes a message can get out better when you're not putting it right in somebody's face.
After we got back from the tour we had a couple weeks off and then our last two shows. The 9:30 Club and then Ft. Reno 2 days later. The 9:30 Club show was the last one with a nice controlled sound system. The very last show at Ft. Reno was outdoors and it was always hard to get a good sound there. At the 9:30 Club I can't remember who played with us (maybe somebody's comment could straighten me out), but it was a charged set. We played as hard as we could.
The very last show at Ft. Reno was with Fugazi. It was nice to do it there since it was in a park most of us had grown up near. It was a fitting end to the kids we were when we started. It was also probably one of the largest gatherings of people Ft. Reno had ever seen at the time. This was a city funded free concert, which was part of a weekly series of shows throughout the summers in NW DC, in our neighborhood. Members of Fugazi were also tied to this area. The high school most of us went to is across the street. It was a fitting end.
We split on good terms. I moved to Boston and started 7 League Boots and the rest of the guys moved to NYC and started Girls Against Boys. I was glad to move on, as the punk scene was going mainstream and I wasn't going to work for a multinational corporation. The DIY ethic was good for me. In Boston I broadened my musical and spiritual horizons, only to move back to DC a few years later to join Rain Like The Sound Of Trains and then Sevens, with my brother...
(TO BE CONTINUED)
Johnny Temple on bass for Soulside at The Court Tavern, Photo: Ken Salerno
Thursday, May 5, 2011
Ajay with Enuf at Rutgers, Scott Hall, Photo: Ken Salerno
Ajay James, former lead singer of NJHC band Enuf, fan and follower of NYHC scene. I went on to a successful career as a male model, (hahah, no really though), while at the same time being a full time Muay Thai teacher and fighter, and doorman at many popular NY clubs.
In 2000, I got my US citizenship, joined the military in 2001, and have been working in the special operations community since.
Ajay 2011, Photo courtesy of: Ajay James
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
On May 12 at The Yost Theater in Santa Ana, CA, the documentary ORANGE COUNTY HARDCORE SCENESTER is going to have a ONE NIGHT only screening for FREE. The movie starts at 7pm sharp. There will be a 10-15 minute musical performance beforehand, OCHS will play, and there may also be a Q&A afterwards. There will even be a special shirt made up for this event.
ORANGE COUNTY HARDCORE SCENESTER looks at the OC Hardcore/punk scene in a very personal way from 1990-1997. You can watch the first 7 minutes here:
ORANGE COUNTY HARDCORE SCENESTER
The Facebook page is:
ORANGE COUNTY HARDCORE SCENESTER on Facebook
I sincerely hope that anybody who wants to see the movie, and can get to the theater on that night, will show up. Having taken part in the Hardcore Reunion show back in 2009, I am hoping that this event captures some of that spirit.
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
Jules, Lars and Eric with Side by Side at The Anthrax, Norwalk CT, Photo: Boiling Point
Here's part V of our ongoing interview with Jules. This picks up where the last part left off, as Jules was explaining what caused Side By Side to break up, what was happening at that time in the NYHC scene, and how that tied into the formation of Alone In A Crowd. In case you missed part 4 (or the previous parts), go here:
Jules Side By Side 2011
And in case you've been under a rock, here's the latest batch of records Jules is auctioning off here, with ALL money being donated to the Japanese relief effort:
Take it away Jules... -Gordo DCXX
Just after Side By Side's breakup, this whole nazi skinhead revival thing was happening. There were always a few right wing skinhead types hanging around the NY scene, but prior to maybe mid-'88 they were a superminority. White power was a thing that Skrewdriver sang about in England, and any interest in them in NYHC, as far as I can remember, was purely musical. Even the closest thing to a New York Oi! type skin band at the time, YDL, was not so extreme. Listen to AF and War Zone -- United And Strong and As One were the anthems for the NYHC skins.
Then on the weekends down at Tompkins Square Park, I can remember packs of skinheads showing up -- nobody local knew who they were. And each coming weekend there seemed to be more and more of them. They were "weekend warriors" from Jersey, Pennsylvania, upstate NY...who the hell knew. And they would just come and camp out on the corner, drinking beer until they got bored enough to find some unfortunate soul who just happened to be alone in the wrong place at the wrong time. And the thing is, these guys weren't even going to shows, they'd just come into the city, loiter at NYHC scene hangouts, and cause trouble -- presumably so they would have some "war story" to tell back home.
This caused major problems in the scene. For example, one weekend, they jumped a kid from the alphabet city projects and then split for the suburbs. Well, not long after, a bunch of project kids, with weapons, started sweeping through Tompkins Square attacking anybody who looked even remotely like a skinhead. So a lot of folks that had nothing to do with this got hurt, including some of the toughest guys who used to hang out pretty regularly at the park. There was a crew of old school Krishna consciousness types who you absolutely did not mess with. I remember one of them, I think it was Mike Boyer, got cracked in the knee with a bat. My memory is pretty dim on this, it could've even been John Joseph -- because he used to hang out outside the Alcatraz all the time. Anyway, they went looking for the skinheads who started all this. A bit of a witch hunt followed. But since the instigators were from out of town, I don't know if anyone ever figured out who they were. It would not surprise me if some other innocent got their skull cracked by mistake in the retribution.
Jules and Lars with Side By Side at The Anthrax, Photo: Boiling Point
Then all of a sudden in late 1988, there was a media blitz about Nazi skinheads. All of the talk shows and news magazines started showing all these freaking skins on TV that none of us knew. They were palling around with Tom and John Metzger, who were KKK and Aryan nation types -- from California, I think. These shows made it appear like the third reich was reborn and there were hundreds of thousands of skinheads ready to start a race war. The media loved it. And the white power political organizations loved it because it gave them national media exposure. Geraldo Rivera had a show that ended in a brawl -- he got his nose broken by a chair. Some people think it was staged (I don't know). The video is on YouTube, judge for yourself. A week later, competitor talk show host Morton Downey Jr. had white power skinheads on his show. Sometime after that Morton Downey Jr. was on the front page of the rags, with his head shorn and a swastika drawn on his face, claiming that he was attacked by skinheads in San Francisco. San Francisco. In the airport bathroom. Needless to say, almost everybody believed the attack on Morton Downey Jr. was staged, and his show was canceled soon after.
All the sensationalism and exaggeration was nonetheless a great recruiting tool, apparently. Almost overnight, the white power skinhead population exploded. Every weekend, more and more of these out of town, white power skins started showing up at shows. I don't know what they were thinking -- because they were not welcome. Things got violent.
Tommy Carroll got into a fist fight with this big fat skin at a matinee. Tommy was a boxer, though he hadn't started fighting competitively at this time. This skinhead was like two heads taller than Tommy and about three times his weight. A circle formed around the two in front of CB's -- his buddies were clearly smart enough to know not to gang up on Tommy, 'cause everybody watching would've jumped in to beat their asses. Tommy cracked the guy in the jaw with a right -- and he looked at Tommy shocked like he had never taken a hit like that in his life. Big as he was, nobody probably ever tried. Tommy went low while the guy tried to grapple and started hitting him in the gut. This went on for a while. And, inexplicably, the skinhead just walked away. Tommy let him go. He said to me afterwards the skinhead was just "too fat to fight." I never saw him again. But there seemed to be a never ending supply.
Billy (Side By Side) also had similar problems. Billy's girlfriend at the time was Japanese. She had a skinhead girl haircut (bangs only) and wore Docs. She got attacked at CB's by some white power dicks, and Billy had to step in. This kind of _ _ _ _ started happening with increasing regularity.
And not only was the NYHC scene defending itself physically from the encroaching white power skinhead "movement," we had to deal with the public misperception that we were somehow a part of that movement. I had spent years of my life having dicks say _ _ _ _ to me on the street, throw things at me, etc., because of the way I looked or dressed. But now I had to deal with being called a racist and a nazi to boot. I needed this like a hole in the head. I think a lot of people started phasing out of the scene at this time -- it was just too much of a hassle to even go to shows.
Marcus Pacheco fought back, though. To his credit -- he didn't take it lying down. He formed SHARP and used the media's love affair with the skinheads to call attention to the non-racist hardcore, Oi! and ska scene. I think he and his organization did an admirable job of attempting to educate the general public. I have heard that SHARP later devolved into gang violence, and if true, that is unfortunate. It was a positive thing when it started.
For me, though, I think I was already heading toward the exit. Because in addition to the rise of this white power lunacy, the scene, as I had come to know it, had been pulling itself apart in other ways...
(TO BE CONTINUED)
Side By Side at CBGB, NYC, Photo: Bri Hurley