Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Ajay Enuf - New Jersey's Hardest

Ajay regulates the crowd during Bold's set while Jules comes back to stage from a dive. Photo: Ken Salerno

The Enuf demo...now here is a recording that does not get discussed as much as it should. Hard, energetic straight edge hardcore that sounds much more NY than it does NJ. Angry straight edge lyrics? Check. Well played mosh breaks? Check. Skating references? Check. The package is complete.
Do you think that when pimple faced nerds are singing along to Lifetime they have any idea that Ari Katz was once behind the drumkit busting out the beat to "Suckah Mosh?" No, they don't.

I wasn't there to witness just how unfortunately short-lived this great band was, but when they split, it surely was the premature end to a career for a great singer and frontman. Luckily we were able to track Ajay down and get as much info as possible out of him. Expect multiple segments for us to get through this great interview. Thanks to Dan Cav. "Kick it Fern"...

-Gordo DCXX

Usually when Gordo takes the time to write his own introduction to an interview, I tend to leave it at that. When it comes to Enuf, I felt the need to chime in.

I remember seeing these guys for the first and only time at Rutgers' Scott Hall . It was the monumental BOLD / Vision / Life's Blood show, October 29th 1988. Coming to this show I had never heard of Enuf and had only known them to be the opening band for this particular show. When I got into the show and saw Enuf take the stage, I climbed up on top of a class room seat, situated myself with my camera and prepared to snap off a few photos. Instead, from the first note on, I stood there with my jaw hitting the floor. Enuf took me by surprise and clearly blew the doors off Scott Hall. To put it lightly, I was impressed.

One thing I will never forget about Enuf's set that night, aside from how incredible they were, was Ajay's introduction of a certain friend. Jules from Side By Side was hanging out on stage and for the first time, Ajay introduced Jules and announced how Jules was starting a new band called Alone In A Crowd. Ajay's description of Alone In A Crowd was, "Negative Approach mixed with Last Rights." Fuck.

Enuf went on to become one of my personal favorite New Jersey Hardcore bands ever. With the combination of that Scott Hall live set and the demo, they secured a spot right up there with Vision, Turning Point and Release. At one point there was even talk that I was going to get a hand in releasing an Enuf 7" on Common Sense Records, which was going to be an offshoot of Common Sense Fanzine that Tony Rettman and I did. Unfortunately Enuf broke up before any 7" was ever recorded.

To say that I was psyched to track down Ajay and get this interview would be an understatement.


When did you get into hardcore and how did you find your way into it? What about straight edge? Where had you grown up, and what typeof things in your youth pushed you into the direction of skating, hardcore, and straight edge? Most influential bands or records?

I got into hardcore music kind of as a fluke really. I had been working since the age of 15 because my Dad told me that if I wanted anything that I would have to work and buy it for myself to learn the value of money. Later on I worked at a skate/surf shop (I forget the name) in Woodbridge mall. I used to work there with Rodney who owned Shut Skates and Zoo York.

Anyway, I remember I bought a Walkman called the Mura Hi Stepper. I remember it like it was yesterday, the sound was amazing and I remember flipping the radio stations. I remember that I used to listen to a station called WHBI, who had on the world famous Supreme Team show and WKTU, WBLS and KISS FM, all of them playing rap with DJ's like Red Alert, Mr. Magic, Clark Kent...it was so dope.

One day I started flipping in the 80s on the FM dial and I heard this crazy music. It was the B-52's, then the Dead Kennedys. I remember that I listened to that station after that all the time. It was WRSU, Rutgers' radio station. I used to also listen to WKCR, Columbia University's station, when they had their punk show on. That was around 1984-1985.

I had come from Trinidad when I was younger and had never fit in. I didn't have a girlfriend, I wasn't liked because people said I talked funny and I didn't really have friends. I didn't drink or do drugs because I had a super strict upbringing, so I just never got into that. I started skating soon after I got the job working at the skate shop. When I was skating in 1986 it was cool, just a bunch of guys that just wanted to skate and have fun. Never any pressure to drink or anything like that. I never did it. That's when and where I started to get my friend base and also just where I started to feel like I was coming into my own.

I was living in Edison, NJ at the time. I remember that when I moved close to Middlesex County College, I had this young kid that I used to skate with named Noah Carvallho, rest in peace. He and I used to hang hard. His parents were hippies and he used to come by the house and we used to skate. I was like 17 or 18 and he was like 10. Coolest kid, he died of cancer. We used to listen to Black Flag, Dead Kennedys, Anthrax, Corrosion Of Conformity, 7 Seconds, Beastie Boys, Bad Brains, Fishbone, etc.

The bands that really kicked it over the edge for me though were probably Suicidal Tendencies and the Dead Kennedys, Fishbone and the Bad Brains. "Pay To Cum" in some crazy movie - Repo Man, was such a dope movie, and Jello Biafra's voice to me was so ill. How could you not dig the music during this time?

Ajay stares down a WP skin. Photo: Ken Salerno

The New Jersey scene began to explode by 1987-1988 with young hardcore bands, and I am sure you were in the middle of it. What were some memorable shows from that time period, who were your favoritebands, and how do you remember that era (specifically NJ)?

The most memorable show that I had seen during the late 80s had to have been the Youth Of Today show at Middlesex County College in 1987. I was going to school there at the time and I remember my man Rich Taglieri told me to come check the show. Yo, it was so ill. I forget who else played, but here was this group of guys that had the same ideals that I had, I was like "what is this?"

Back in that time there were only a few bands from Jersey doing anything. I remember Ped, September Violence, Thanatos, Shades Apart and Vision doing shows in Scott Hall and I also remember them playing I think at Middlesex County College. I remember seeing those bands and thinking that I wanted to do a band too. Especially also because Vision was also a Straight Edge band, I was like "I want to do this."

One of the coolest shows that I was at was one that Dave from Vision threw in the basement of his house. His parents were totally cool and I remember that he had a whole crew of hot girls that used to be band groupies that guys used to drool over, so funny. One of my favorite shows during that time had to have been Fishbone at City Gardens, too. I was an official Fishbone freak, I tried to go to all their local shows in the tri-state area. Here was an all black band of "misfits," which is what I likened myself to at that time, and they were crushing it. They played a big part in me wanting to do the band for sure.

I remember that era as just being the time that we were living in, we didn't think that we were in what is known by many as the best years of hardcore. For us, we didn't think anything else except that we had to get money to get to the next show, it was all about the "now." Looking back at it now, that time was truly amazing.



Anonymous said...

Is there anywhere to hear the Enuf demo? I've been trying to track it down since reading this post last week, but to no avail.

Anonymous said...

hey jai (and others looking for this)!


here you go!

Anonymous said...

YES! Thank you!