Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Evolution of The Stance

The faceless image to the right was the one that appeared in BP issue 1, alongside the BOLD interview.

Going all the way back to Boiling Point issue one, in the layout of the BOLD interview was an image of a faceless dude in a stance. For some reason or another, that image always clicked with me and right off the bat I thought it was a very cool and iconic type image. I wasn't sure if the image had anything to do with BOLD, or if the Boiling Point guys just saw it as fitting for that particular layout, but never the less, from that point forward I associated that image with BOLD.

The classic Side By Side 7" cover.

Fast forward down the line and the Side By Side - "You're Only Young Once" 7" is released on Revelation Records. On the cover of that 7" are three faceless figures, all in a stance. Again, I instantly loved that cover. So simple, so clean and so powerful. It said so much without even showing much. There was a clear urban hip hop feel to these three dudes in a stance, but still I hadn't made any connection. Honestly, thinking back, I'm not so sure I even made any connections to the image I had seen earlier in the layout of the BOLD interview in Boiling Point issue one.

LL Cool J - "Radio", where the stance began.

At some point in the mid 90's I'm on the phone with my friend Ed McKirdy who at that point was working in Southern California for New Age / Conversion Records. Some how or another Ed's brings up how Dennis Remsing (Conversion Records / Outspoken) had mentioned that the Side By Side guys on the cover of the 7" had actually come from a photograph of LL Cool J that was on his debut release, "Radio". How that had never come together for me earlier, I have no idea. Considering how big of a fan I was of both Side By Side and LL Cool J, especially that "Radio" record, it just shocked me that I had never noticed the blatant similarities.

Eventually I had pieced it together that Alex Brown (Schism, Side By Side, PX, GB), while going to art school in NYC, had probably came up with the idea to outline the photo of LL Cool J and tweak it into a hip hop influenced straight edge hardcore looking dude of the time. Without talking to Alex about it, I can't be exactly sure of all the details, but I think it's fairly obvious where the image originated from, how it was originally used and finally where it ended up.

We've been hoping to pull Alex Brown into the pages of Double Cross at some point, so hopefully if and when that happens, we'll get the bottom of this. For now, check out the images I've compiled. -Tim DCXX

A great flyer designed by Alex Brown, with more detail added to the ordinarily faceless figures.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Straight Edge commercial

Better Than A Thousand at The Wetlands, NYC, Photo: Traci McMahon

If you type "Straight Edge" in on YouTube, one of the first things that pops up, and has for quite some time, is the cringe-worthy "Straight Edge Commercial." There are basically two versions of this, each featuring iconic and not-so-iconic SE figures reciting the lyrics to Minor Threat's classic tune as the song and other HC songs play in the background, while a pre-pubescent young edgeman gets very righteous with you. I'm sure you've seen it (and if not, well, it is below). It's like the preview for an after school special smashing into a trailer for an MTV reality show...fast paced and faux-dramatic, but leaves you realizing you can't get back the past minute of your life which you just wasted.

There are actually two versions of this classic commercial, one focuses on one young straight edge dude from New Jersey named Bob, who talks about why he is straight edge and his crew, etc. The other version features an equally young yet even more baby-faced straight edge kid standing hard in a white Wide Awake t-shirt. And that's me.

I'll preface this story by saying that if I knew back in 1997 when I was asked to appear in this that it would years later result in a running joke amongst my friends and probably most straight edge dudes in general, I probably would have given a UC-style "no thanks" and moved on. But at the time I had no idea, and well...it exists, it's odd, and I figured the back-story might be interesting. It also could have ended up much worse, but I figured I'd at least talk about how it even ended up. Here goes.

In April 1997, Better Than A Thousand, WarZone, Floorpunch (one of the best times I saw them), and In My Eyes (their first tri-state show) played the Wetlands in NYC. I had just turned 15, but looked like I was barely 12. I went to the show with Ryan Dougherty (yo!), and I remember sitting in his car as we came out of the Holland Tunnel and almost instantly seeing HC kids all over. We were there pretty early and a lot of people were just hanging out on the side street, so we did the same.

Floorpunch at Chatham Church, NJ, Photo: Traci McMahon

Matt Summers and Matt Smith saw me and said "Yo Gordo there are these dudes here filming some commercial on straight edge, they need a young kid who actually knows about it, we said you'd be perfect." At the time I guess I was seen as the "little" kid who had his head in the game more than any other little kids. Plus I was a psycho when it came to shirts and records and just straight edge hardcore in general. Anyways, I felt a bit like a poser since Porcell was standing like three feet away as this was all going down, but it sounded fun, and before I knew it there was a boom mic over my head and this little film crew was asking me about The Teen Idles.

The crew was from Washington Square Films and they were basically two grown up punk dudes (plus camera guys) in their late 30s (I think their names were Jeff and Mark) that had known about straight edge in the eighties. They seemed very grown up and professional, yet still somewhat "hip." They asked me a bunch of basic questions about straight edge and why I was straight edge, and explained that they were being hired by the Partnership For A Drug-Free America to do an annual campaign for the Partnership about young people saying no to drugs. Kinda like the egg in the frying pan/"this is your brain on drugs" concept, but actually effective. Since they knew about straight edge growing up, they thought this would be a cool angle. They definitely were in the loop enough for me to realize they wouldn't do some exploitational/sensational thing, and they even seemed to have a good time just hanging out at the show.

Anyways, after a bunch of questions and talking, they seemed happy with what they got from me, and asked me if I wanted to be in the actual commerical. They told me that there would be two different commercials - one with me, and one with another kid from New Jersey named Bob (whom I didn't know). They said that as the real young kids, we would be the focal point of our respective commercials while they mixed in live footage and other people talking, along with the lyrics to "Straight Edge." It sounded kinda cool.

They said they were a little dissapointed because this kid Bob didn't really have any records or fanzines or anything they could use in the commerical. Well, Summers was standing right there and said to them "this little fucker has a lot of records and zines, go to his house and film!" Looking back, Summers kinda served as my agent that day. Summers, if you are reading this: I owe you a cut of what I got. Anyways, they wanted to know if they could drive out to my house, I said yes, and they said they'd see me next week. After that, I went inside and got destroyed during Floorpunch.

The following week, Jeff and Mark showed up in a van with all sorts of equipment. My parents thought it sounded safe enough and let those guys load all their shit into the house. The plan was to kinda film me in "my element," which was a typical obsessive compulsive hardcore kid bedroom meticulously covered in all sorts of paraphernalia. They started getting some lighting set up but pretty quickly seemed bummed on the situation. That, and they probably felt a little creepy filming a young boy in his bedroom? Whatever it was, they basically said they didn't think they were gonna capture what they needed in the setting, and wanted to know if there was a record store we could go to to film. Locally, there wasn't anything good, but I told them that Double Decker (the first original location) in Allentown might be cool. They told me to bring a box of straight edge records, and off we went.

We got to Double Decker, and I'm sure that Jamie, the owner, thought it was the absolute cheesiest idea in the world, but he said it was ok with him (if you know Jamie you can imagine this - if you don't, think critical/snide HC kid turned record store owner). The original Double Decker location was cramped and dark. So we ended up shooting outside, and these outdoor shots are what appear in the commercial - mostly me walking and reading a copy of Hardware that was at Double Decker. It was getting dark, and they still realized they needed more indoor footage with records and stuff in the shots.

In My Eyes at Coney Island High, NYC, Photo: Traci McMahon

As we drove home they asked me if I could come into Hoboken the next week to a spot called Black Cat Records, which they described as a very cool atmosphere. Dan Horner (Over The Line guitarist) said he would drive me, and I'm pretty sure he thought he was gonna be in the commerical. I let him keep thinking that to confirm my ride, and told Jeff and Mark I'd see them then.

This whole time I remember not really telling any of my friends at school, because the whole thing sounded pretty fucking goofy the more I thought about it. Secretly I figured it could be awesome, but I knew there was potential for absolute weirdness. Regardless, that next Thursday, Horner was driving me to Black Cat at something like 7am with a big box of straight edge records, zines, and shirts in tow.

We were driving around trying to find the joint, and we start to drive down this street that is kinda blocked off with orange cones and caution tape and stuff. I look closer and see that a sidewalk is blocked off and there are people running around with equipment. I'm wondering what the hell is going on, and then I realize this is the film crew outside of Black Cat. They are here for me? What the hell? We park, and when we walk up there is a legitimate film crew, craft services, production assistants, make-up, the whole nine. I think they even had those movie set chairs. Whatever they were, I'm sitting there and people are walking to work while trying to catch a glimpse of my dumb ass sitting there in a Wide Awake shirt. They must have thought I was the next Corky Romano or something. It was surreal.

The record store ended up being a let down, it was mostly overpriced punk cds and cheesy licensed-type punk shirts, typical trendy city fare. It took a while to get set up, but what was cool was that I got to cover this one whole wall with my records. I remember covering up Johnny Thunders, Ramones, and Generation X cds with SSD, Minor Threat, and Youth Of Today LPs...it was like, "yeah, that stuff is cool, but not today!" I recall being embarrased as a cute girl put make-up on me, meanwhile I think Horner still expected a lead role, and they basically told him to stand in the back and read something (you can actually see him - an indecipherable figure - standing behind me in the commercial). I think he was pretty bummed.

For hours on end Jeff and Mark asked me a lot of the same questions we had been through before, except we did it over and over and over. Due to the fact that I wasn't and still am not some grandiose and high falutin' straight edge type, I think a lot of my answers were kinda low-key for what they wanted. It also got to the point where they started to basically tell me, "say this," and a lot of what they wanted me to say was kinda cheesy and "canned." Of course, it seemed like these were the parts that made it into the commercial. I'd love to see the outtakes, I'm sure at one point I say, "I'm straight edge because you know, I can't be smokin' and boozin' and still truly love JUDGE."

At one point they took us to lunch and we saw Tim Singer walking around looking really angry, that was kinda cool. Finally after asking me the same questions 600 times they got what they needed, filmed me and my records, and told me they'd call me with news. Never once did the camera even go near Horner and I think he was even annoyed they didn't give him more gas money.

Porcell with Shelter at The Stone Pony, NJ, Photo: Traci McMahon

A couple weeks later Jeff called me and said I was welcome to come into NYC, as they would be filming Ray, Porcell, Dave Stein, Ken Olden, and a bunch of other people who are in the commercial. I forget why, but I couldn't go. I also remember thinking that if they didn't need me, I would feel a little silly walking in and just sitting around like some little wanna-be child actor or something. My heart also sank a little as I had no idea how what I said came out, and the idea that some of these people were supporting roles to my lead seemed really odd.

I did see Ray and Porcell a few months later though and they seemed to think the whole thing was pretty cool and said they were psyched to see the finished product, so that was reassuring. The other funny thing was that very soon after we filmed my part, I heard that the other kid Bob stopped being straight edge like a week after they filmed him. I don't even know if he stayed in hardcore or what.

About a year went by, and all I ever heard from Jeff is that there were some approval issues from the Partnership. Long story short, it turns out that the Partnership For A Drug Free America is basically created and funded by big business including Phillip Morris, Anhesier-Busch, etc. They saw the commerical and said, "Cool, the idea of this little nerd not doing crack, PCP, ecstacy, mushrooms, marijuana...we like. But just cut out the part saying he doesn't drink or smoke cigarettes." Well, Jeff and Mark weren't having that. They told the Partnership that it was no drug, no drinking, no cigs, and they wouldn't change it. The Partnership said they would need some time to decide. I was pretty shocked it could go down like this, but it was cool to see these dudes had taken a stand.

About another year went by, and out of the blue Jeff calls me to let me know that ultimately the Partnership said to edit it or they wouldn't show it. Mark and Jeff said "fuck you" and kept the tapes. He said this was a major move because the Partnership was going to air the shit out of this commerical as its campaign centerpiece, and there was even talk of a Superbowl slot (I found this hard to believe and still do, but that's what he said). Nonetheless, he said they jerked him and Mark around and ultimately he and Mark were happy with what they created and would not change it. He said he would send me a finished copy of all versions.

A couple weeks later I got the video in the mail, and made sure nobody was around when I watched it. I had no idea what I was about to see. Over two years had passed, and I definitely didn't look like I did when I was 15. My initial feeling watching it is pretty much what it is now: semi-embarrasing but kinda funny and somewhat well executed. The fact that they zoom straight into my retina in the first two seconds is a tad unsettling, but at least they don't totally butcher me.

I thought Bob's version was kinda goofy, but I'm not sure mine was/is any better. Slowly the video got out, my friends had fucking heart attacks from laughter, friends that didn't know anything about straight edge had even bigger heart attacks. It was and still is a good laugh if nothing else. A few years back when I was in law school, friends showed friends who showed friends and it was a pretty good on-going giggle.

Most people today wouldn't even recognize that it is me, and I typically don't point it out. But if you were wondering who the hell is telling you about pure living at an extreme close up angle...well now you know. - Gordo DCXX

Facing The Music with: Ajay ENUF

Ajay ENUF brings us more memories about one of New Jersey's hardest. Face the music...


We travelled all over to see hardcore bands play. We regularly went to CB's, The Pyramid, The Anthrax, City Gardens, Pizazz, Wally's Place, Oliver J's, all over. How could I forget L'amour's! That huge club that used to be on 13th between Lafayette and 3rd avenue, all of those places rocked the house, I can't even begin to go through the plethora of shows that I saw at all of those places. A high point for me was when we opened for Sick Of It All and Raw Deal at Wally's. That was a great but daunting task.

CB's though was the place where I would go almost every Sunday for the shows. I saw Warzone, Agnostic Front (somehow ended up in their video too), Sick Of It All, Raw Deal, Absolution, Underdog, Token Entry, Gorilla Biscuits, Rest In Pieces, Outburst, Breakdown, Murphy's Law, The Icemen, Youth Of Today, Collapse, Quicksand, Krakdown, Straight Ahead, Slapshot, Side By Side, Maximum Penalty and of course the Cro-Mags. So many other bands too, I don't even remember. That was from 1987-1992.

My favorite shows though by far, were Cro-Mags, Sick Of It All, Raw Deal, Absolution and Breakdown. Those shows were out of control, the energy was insane. I remember that I passed out at a show, I think it was the Cro-Mags at CB's. There were like 8 million people inside, it was hot as hell and I was dancing like a fool, then all of a sudden, I wake up next door at the other place that CB's was trying to make into like a cafe or something. That was a dope day!

The crew I used to chill with was deep. All kinds of people, like skaters, hip hop kids, martial arts kids, drug dealers, krishna conscious people, rudeboys, everything. Guys like Sequoiah, Gilles, Olu, Krishna Kenny, Black Brian, Fern, Bill Spector, Hugh Gran, Chris and Darren Emilio, John Hawkeye, Gavin Van Vlack, Djinji Brown, Rich Taglierri, Jeff, Pete Sanchez, Steve Morovsky, Fred Blitsky, Chip Iaturo, Dale Jiminez, Ari Katz, Mikey Frat, Dan Cav, Steve Mean, Gary Ludwig, Andy White, Rick Perna, Eric Miller, Paulie Pietsch, 2 Hips, Jay Hall, Mark Suarez, Eli Gessner, Rodney Smith, Bruno Musso...too many people to remember. The ones that I am still in touch with now are Gavin, Hugh, Bill, Andy, Paulie and of course Dan.

So how did Enuf start?

Well I put a flier out in 1987 saying that I wanted to start a straight edge band. Andy white was the first to answer. We later picked up Dale, Ari and a guy named Rich Seymour. We had our first real rehearsal, after a couple of times in Andy's basement, at the recording studio above Cheap Thrills Records in New Brunswick. We ended up letting Rich Seymour go, because he ended up just not being a good match for the group. We picked up Pete Sanchez on bass and Chip Iaturo on second guitar. That was short lived as Pete left the band because he couldn't shake the thirst for alcohol. Andy played bass for a little while and Chip played guitar.

We played for a while and then I think around 1989 we just started to grow apart a little. Ari went on tour with Up Front, I was disenchanted with being the front man and wanted to do other things, a lot of stuff just started happening. I moved to Newark. I had moved out of my Dad's house and I was trying to get some semblance of an act together. I still went to shows, but not as often. I started working as a bike messenger, that was it.

The best show that we played by far was Scott Hall at Rutgers University in 1988. We played with Life's Blood, Vision and Bold. The place was just insane. I honestly have to say though, because I was out in the crowd for all of the other bands, that the crowd was bananas when we went on. We ripped it and you could just feel the energy. I was so amped and we just were out for blood that night. We killed everybody! Arrrggghhhh! Don't get mad anybody, it's the truth!

The music we were making was evolving, the songs and the band started to come into their own. Our live shows were a whirlwind of energy, we were unstoppable. We tried to make that come out in our recordings. People always say that they loved our band. I'm glad we were able to touch people. The music started to get harder, especially Andy's guitar riffs, I started to get "my own voice," not some facsimile of another band's lead singer. We started touring, having more productive practices, we could have been the original "killswitch!" Hahaha!

It's too bad things went the way they did, maybe it just wasn't meant to be. We had a great time while it lasted and I wouldn't trade that time period for anything.

Ajay being restrained by Charles from Rorschach, Photo: Ken Salerno

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Feedback Friday: Youth Of Today

Youth Of Today at City Gardens, Trenton NJ, Photo: Boiling Point

I wouldn't be surprised if a Youth Of Today photo made it into "Feedback Friday" more often. These guys just had a knack for being caught on film at the right time and this photo here is no exception.

You've got Porcell in mid air sportin' the Air Revs, Cappo coming down from a jump and Wally kickin' it out with funky Chucks. All of this is taking place on the stage of City Gardens, complete with the CITY GARDENS and TRENTON stencils on the wall. Oh yeah and that guy in the background leaning on the amp would be Drew BOLD. You've also got that one pumped, proud and psyched straight edge dude up front with the white hooded sweatshirt on and X'ed fist in the air. The rest of the crowd gawks in disbelief.

I've seen countless incredible photos from this particular show and there's no question in my mind, Youth Of Today were at the top of their game at this point. Of course many will argue what era of Youth Of Today was the best, but to me it's always been this early 1988, post breakup, pre "We're Not In This Alone" era. Of course, there really is no bad Youth Of Today era, at least not in my opinion.

Just for the hell of it, because I had the video posted on YouTube, I thought I'd post it on here as well. It's Youth Of Today from the same City Gardens show that the photo was taken at. If you haven't seen this video, do yourself and favor and don't waste any more time. Priceless. -Tim

City Gardens punk card with this particular YOT / BOLD show listed

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Right Idea - Cleveland Straight Edge

Right Idea is a cool new band playing hardcore influenced by the staple bands we all love, and continue to keep Cleveland on the map for straight edge hardcore. Check 'em.


How was Right Idea born? What was the catalyst and inspiration for the band, who is in it, and what are the goals? I get the impression you are a group of dudes with some of the same interests and you seem to be on the same page with what you want to do, no? What bands are your biggest influences and why?

I’ve pretty much wanted to be in a band since I got into hardcore, but finding edge kids in Cleveland with the same likes as me and who could also play instruments was pretty much impossible. I basically gave up and shelved the idea about eight years ago. Then last summer at some show that was definitely lacking energy, like many of the shows I seemed to find myself at around that time, I joked to John Millin about doing it and he began pushing me to see it through. We decided we wanted to start a band that would bring back the positive side of the music, the message and the pride we had for the edge. One that was more focused on capturing the energy during a certain time period than taking months to write songs.

The demo songs seemed to just all of a sudden click and everyone was on board with what we wanted to do. The final finishing touch came when my long-time friend, Mir Ali, gave us the name ‘Right Idea’ which was such a perfect fit for us. I mean, those are two of the best words I can think of to put before Straight Edge!

As far as who’s in the band…I handle the mic and after writing the lyrics I go to John who has the ability to make songs sound just like I envisioned they would for the most part. John plays guitar, he used to play in Committed and sung for a couple of bands. He’s also currently playing guitar for Erba’s newest band Cheap Tragedies. Funny trivia fact about Millin is that he was once a member of The First Step and in Running Like Thieves before Matt left. Nate Hough-Snee is on drums and lives in Seattle due to school, which is why the four of us are rarely in the same room. He played drums in John’s old band Names for Graves so he was the logical choice for us. Nate keeps us up to speed on the new good Northwest edge bands that seem to be popping up. Lastly, we got my man Chuck Falk on bass. This cat never picked up an instrument before we asked him to play, but his ability to learn songs in short periods of time is insane. When Chuck’s not playing bass he can be seen in fashion shows as a model, pretty funny.

We really went for good friends with similar likes instead of trying to force something to work. When we were writing the demo I wanted to pull a lot from the Turning Point demo, Straight Ahead and Side By Side. John’s song writing is influenced also by the old skinhead hardcore bands of NYHC and early SOIA. Of course, I have always had a love for Youth Of Today and BOLD. Those two influenced the songs heavily also, esp. on our new title track ‘Our World’ which will be on the record coming out this summer by Aram at React! Records. Off subject but, Speak Out era is better than LB era, if you ever heard the original intro to Now or Never which became the song Speak Out you would know this is fact.

Cleveland has a rich history of straight edge hardcore drama, beef, and general urban legend. How might Right Idea add to the history that is already there? What are your personal favorite Cleveland bands and pieces of folklore?

I think the biggest problem in Cleveland has always been the jealousy. It’s like everyone gets behind any band that is just starting out but as soon as the band starts getting some out of town recognition the kids start looking for dumb negative reasons why they’re getting known instead of just admitting their songs are pretty damn cool. I don’t know how we will add to the mix other than just continuing where Committed and GrudgeMatch left off...by that I mean bringing back the smiles to the faces in the front of the crowd. My personal favorite Cleveland band is GrudgeMatch to be honest. I am sure it’s the least known by others but they were a combination of UC and Unit Pride and some of the best people to hang with.

Other bands I grew up on or can always listen to are Committed, unreleased Confront, early Value, old Integ, Thin Ice live (Raw Deal meets Outburst with a huge frontman), the Ringworm demo and first lp, Lifegame demo, the Crime Ridden lp, Set Straight live, and the one song wonders Force of Habit and Meanstreak. I think the old zine wars are some of the funniest/coolest reads. Bloodbook has some classic Cleveland one liners and the Judge/Integ beef spread throughout different zines rules. Where else can you hear about Mike Judge calling Mean Steve a ‘cream puff’ who’s ‘got a world full of shit coming to him when Judge comes to Cleveland’. Nothing physical ever happened between those two by the way. It seems the crazier the story you hear about something happening in Cleveland in the late 80s/early 90s, the more likely it is to be true. You can’t help but be intrigued by these stories that involve such scenarios as flare guns to the eye, ears under pillows, rocks with magical powers allowing you to say anything you want without fear of getting in trouble, beatings involving a crowbar to the head, etc.

What's a Right Idea show like? How do you think you have fared so far as a front man? What do you think of current hardcore frontmen? Do you purposely want to bring anything different to the table?

Fast and intense! We just played a show this past Friday and we blew thru 11 songs in what felt like 10 minutes. Any set over 20 minutes is too long, I have a short attention span for bands most of the time. All I used to do was watch videos and listen to live shows of bands like YOT, Straight Ahead, Altercation and Side By Side, getting so amped up listening to their energy. I can’t really speak much on current frontmen, but I know going into this band I wanted to pull a lot from the singers of most of the bands that would be featured in Double Cross.

Sometimes I go into a show with a pretty serious tone and others are a little more laid back but I usually do have stuff I want to say when I get up there. Problem is, once we start playing I get so caught up in the energy of the songs and the kids reactions in front of me that I kind of just lose myself in the moment and forget anything I had planned. I feel the show is a success for us if kids are singing along and diving nonstop throughout our set. With that being said, I feel very lucky with the success we have had so far for playing out so little.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

OUTBURST talk with Miles To Joe Part III

Outburst at City Gardens, Trenton NJ, Photo: Ken Salerno

oe Songco delivers more NYHC history with the third installment in our Outburst piece. I think Joe is just getting warmed up, so expect much more...

-Gordo DCXX

How how did Mike join the band and replace Chris on bass?

In order to tell the story on how Mike joined the band, I have to tell the story on how Chris left the band. We played an out of town show in Albany with Killing Time where Anthony rented a van for both bands. After the show, we had arrangements to squeeze into a motel while Raw Deal was going to stay at someone's house not too far away. The motel wound up kicking us out within 15 minutes of us being in the room…I guess 5 in a room wasn't their policy.

Before we could collect ourselves to think of a contingency plan, we looked around and noticed that Chris ended up taking off in the Killing Time van. Anthony didn't know we were in the middle of being kicked out of the room. Chris just went to him and said he was going to crash with them instead of us, so Anthony, assuming this was cool with the rest of us, took off for the night. The rest of us wound up spending the entire night and next morning in the parking lot.

We were pretty pissed at Chris for just flatleaving us, so we agreed that night...he was out. When Killing Time pulled up to the motel the next morning, George just took the lead and chewed him out for lack of loyalty and kicked him out. Killing Time were stunned bystanders…and man, that ride back to the city was just completely uncomfortable. I remember on the way up to Albany, we were all horsing around in the back of the van, George and Chris just cracking jokes & making Carl & Drago laugh…and here it was the next day, heading back in the back of that same van and it was as quiet as a funeral home wake.

Joe beats the drums and sports a Debbie Gibson shirt at CB's

Anyway, we wound up playing the next week at the Anthrax with Killing Time again, as a four piece with Jay on bass and the punches and the thickness of the guitar just wasn't the same. We put the word out that we were looking for a bass player on WNYU's Crucial Chaos radio show. Turns out Mike Welles just happened to be home that night listening to Spermicide make the announcement and he responded. We rehearsed a handful of songs at his place one night, then we tore up his kitchen and he was pretty much in the band after that.

We considered Mike Dijan, who lived in Astoria with me & George, since he had often been a roadie for us and he played the songs in soundcheck sometimes. He was this close to being the choice…but we went w/ Mike Welles. In the end, either Mike would've been an upgrade musically on the bass. Chris was solid, but he didn't add anything to the songs' structures. One of the first things Mike did when he joined the band was add some tasty licks to the Hardway and Thin Ice, which ended up being on Freddy's New Breed Compilation. In comic book speak, New Breed was the first appearance of Mike.

What memorable out of town shows do you remember Outburst playing?

Personally, I'll never forget that Albany show I just spoke about, simply because it led to Mike joining the band. Also, the kids in Albany loved their NYHC. We played a show in Storrs, CT at the UConn campus with Bold and Breakdown which was pretty sick because of the cross section of straight edge kids and, for lack of a better term, un-straightedge kids at that show. I also picked up a great looking black Bold t-shirt at that show which lasted me a long time. One of my favorite out-of-town shows ever was the Fall Brawl at the WUST Radio Hall. That was a great line up of DC and NY bands and the crowd was just bonkers the whole show. One of my favorite things to watch whenever we played DC shows was the crowd doing the sing-a-longs to Banned in DC at the end of our sets. Those DC kids could definitely bust it up.

Outburst at City Gardens, Trenton NJ, Photo: Ken Salerno

Who were some memorable people from the NYHC scene?

Duane from Some Records was really cool. He gave so many bands the chance to get their stuff out there and be heard, plus you could get t-shirts, zines, flyers, etc. You can't say enough about the impact of Duane & Some Records on the scene back then.

Gus Pena was a very cool cat. He was always at our shows singing along and dancing. Heck, he was at a lot of shows, period. I mostly remember him hanging with the Gorilla Biscuits. I also hung out with Dylan (Schriefels) a lot. In the summer of '88, Dylan and I worked at the same pharmacy in the Village. Man, what a cushy job that was. We'd sit around and talk to our cashier about hardcore and rap music. Sammy & Luke would always stop by and hang out for hours. We'd draw up mock designs for logos & stickers. Dylan came up w/ an idea for an Outburst sticker w/ a picture of Michael Jordan dunking with the words "Outburst: Jamming The Hardway".

Freddy Alva and Bill Wilson were also awesome. Always at the shows, always up front. They were also hugely responsible for a lot of bands getting their stuff out there…and they did it from scratch…total DIY.

BJ Papas was one of my personal faves. She lived 2 blocks away, so I hung out at her place a lot. And as a result of her being the unofficial photographer for any and all things NYHC, there were always a lot of traffic over at her place. I remember when she moved out of Astoria, I was bummed like an 8 year old kid watching his friend drive away in a packed up car.

Lastly, I want to admit that I used to have a pretty good crush on Barbara Ann, aka "Bubs", Anthony from Killing Time's kid sister. We used to drive around Jackson Heights and Astoria in my VW Rabbitt listening to heavy metal tapes. I lent her my Motley Crue "Shout At The Devil" and AC/DC "Back In Black" records so she could make metal mixes. I never saw those records again! And I'm pretty sure only she and I would know this…maybe her friend Sonya too…but I actually wrote & recorded a rap song for her. I used the instrumental to Eric B. & Rakim's "Move The Crowd". If anyone out there reading this ever runs into Bubs, just mention this and I'm sure she'll laugh hysterically…and fondly I hope. But yeah, Barbara Ann was a sweetheart. I saw her on the subway years ago, we chatted for a few stops…told her I loved her and everyone else in the "Can't Wait One Minute More" video…she was still as cool as I'd remembered.

Outburst dance floor at City Gardens, Photo: Ken Salerno

Monday, September 22, 2008

Gavin Oglesby - NFAA Part II

No For An Answer at CBGB, the Hawker Records "Free For All" show, Photo: Ken Salerno

Gavin Oglesby continues to enlighten and entertain with some NFAA history. When will it end? Soon? NOOOOOO!!!!!

-Gordo DCXX

I would have liked to have rerecorded the demo, which became the seven inch, but it probably would have sounded about the same today. It's hard for me to listen to because it's never as good as I'm hoping it will be. To me, it's pretty much me learning to play guitar and not quite pulling it off. I love that about some other bands though - I think it adds charm. Even though I had little to do with the look of the record, I like the way it looks. I don't know if Dan just wanted to do the cover over me or what, but he presented it to me as "I thought I should take care of this since your mother's dying" type of thing. Aesthetically, I think it works and was consistent with the band at the time.

I remember the cover being Dan's idea. I recall being somewhat indifferent when Dan told me his face would be on the back cover and inside but I'd be on the front. As I write this, I'm thinking I really like that picture and the fact that it's me. It was taken at practice and aside from the X on my hand, is just as it appears. I'm not sure if it was before or after the picture was taken, but there's a bracelet I still wear from that era that was my mother's key ring. She was a teacher and always seemed to have way too many keys for not being a custodian. It reminds me of her and I guess is my version of a tattoo.

The guitar was actually my second. I bought it from the same guy who sold me the amp that caught fire (another friend of John Bruce) - he might have been in Kiss hence the theatrical nature of the amp. It was a pretty mediocre guitar in good shape when I bought it, but wood grain which seems kind of rock and roll to me at the time. The stickers "punked" it up a bit. I would ideally have played a Les Paul, but aside from being out of my price range, a Les Paul seemed like way too much of a commitment for me. I doubted I'd be doing it very long. I have no real significant memories of it.

I do, however, remember practicing at Casey's ex-girlfriends house long after they had broken up. I don't know how we managed that, but it was a real nice house in the hills of Tustin. I'm tempted to say her parents didn't know, but I remember them bringing us candy and soft drinks. You can't say Casey isn't likable! Somehow we practiced there after Casey left the band too. I really don't know how we managed that.

Anyway, the parents were late getting home one day, so we were waiting in the driveway in front of the house. It was a long driveway so, nobody was likely to drive past so we got our stuff out of the cars and just waited. Soon after the parents had gotten home and let us in, John still hadn't arrived. When his massive late 70's car did finally pull up, he ran over Rob, (our second guitar player's) brand new guitar. We added Rob to fill in for me while my mother died. He really thickened our sound, and he wasn't Jeff. I didn't mind his guitar getting crushed because he was a lot younger than me and a better player. He might have been more mature too.

No For Answer at CBGB, Dan O gets assisted out of the crowd, Photo: Ken Salerno

When Dan and I decided to return No For an Answer to a four piece, we tried to cushion it by getting him into Hard Stance. We also told him we were going to break up the band, keep the name, all of the songs, and keep playing with John and whatever drummer we had at the time. Rob was too nice a guy to call us on this. I think he'd rather have been in Hard Stance anyway and they became great with him playing with them. He went on to start Farside, and did State of the Nation too.

Whenever it came to band business, Dan was always the guy. As you may have heard, he's a good talker. He's also got a pretty dominating personality so, when he suggests something, if it's not that important to you, it's just a hell of a lot easier to go along with him rather than to fight him. With this in mind, whenever we'd play in Northern California, he'd always want to drive overnight and sleep the next day before the show. It was usually me, Dan, Mike Murphy, Anthony, sometimes John, and some of the equipment in his mother's Chevy Celebrity wagon that "slept five comfortably with equipment" as Anthony would often say. Dan is or was claustrophobic also so, no matter how cold it was outside had the window open and, I don't think ever used the heater. This usually meant at least four really tired, freezing cranky guys driving though the night to sleep and then play the next day. I don't know how our drummer's and other equipment ever got anywhere because they never seemed to be with us.

The first time up to Gilman Street, we were going to stay at the Maximum Rock N Roll house. I'd guess we arrived about 6:00 AM - way too early to knock on someone's door, particularly someone who's letting you stay with them. After some discussion, we decided to sleep in the Chevy Celebrity that "slept five comfortably with equipment" with a window rolled down. I don't remember sleeping much, but I do remember my eyes burning, nausea, and rage I felt when somebody at Maximum mentioned they didn't go to bed until about 7:30 AM while we watched each others breath outside in that stupid car with the window open. Every band trip was like this - tired, hungry, annoyed and a window open. I don't think any of us ever slept during the day like we always said we would.

On our third or fourth trip up there, after having played and all of us at about hour 36 or so being awake, we had to take some guy home to get us a check or something. He seemed really excited to be in our presence and felt real bad about forgetting whatever it was he forgot to get us So, Dan and I were to drive this guy home. Dan drove and I sat in the front seat while this guy sat in the back seat leaning forward and grinning the whole time. He pretty much just listened to us talk or bicker or whatever stage we were at that night only occasionally interrupting to give direction on the "twenty minute" drive. An hour or so in Dan and I kept falling asleep and swerving into other lanes while this guy sat between us and grinned. It seemed like a good time to stress the importance of not letting the two guys in the front seat fall asleep, so we both started yelling at him. He had been elevated to legendary status with us. He seemed wide awake and to be having a great time - all the way home with the window open.

No For An Answer at CBGB, boots fly as Dan gives a sing along, Photo: Ken Salerno

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The PROJECT X Longsleeve

Possibly the most coveted shirt of straight edge hardcore, the Schism Project X longsleeve. Just a couple of weeks ago, GB's Lukey Luke had his up for auction on eBay and it ended up getting pulled early. Who won it, remains a mystery to most, but one thing that is known is that the winner holds in his hands one hell of a rare shirt.
We here at DCXX decided to pull a couple of excerpts out of Impact Fanzine's article on The Anthrax, that happend to shed a little bit of light on this notorious shirt. -DCXX

Gus Pena:
There were only 10 of those Project X shirts, the longsleeves. There were 12 but one got botched, so there were only 11 good ones. I actually took them all home and washed them when they were done, that was my job. That was the worst printing job I had ever seen on a t-shirt. I remember when the cover for The Way It Is came out and Jordan telling me, Gus, you're gonna be real happy with the cover. I was like, "Wow, that's cool!" Walter was like, "Dude, you did such a good job. Your arm is straight, it says NYC Straight Edge on there perfectly."

Gus singing along to GB at The Anthrax in the PX longsleeve, Photo: Boiling Point

Porcell: I would have to say the Project X seven inch was my favorite thing we did on Schism. It came with the fanzine and everything, just an awesome package. We made those longsleeve PX shirts. We made those in our apartment, me and Al Brown, there's like fifteen, but we didn't sell them, we just gave them to all the cool people in the scene, and we all wore them at that first show that we sold the PX records at. So it was just like this army of kids that came walking in, wearing these longsleeve PX shirts on. Everybody was like, "WHOA!" People were begging us to buy them, but it was like, "Sorry, you can't buy them. You just have to be a cool guy in the scene to have one!" I wish I still had mine. I had that shirt when YOT played in Europe. This one kid was like, so cool to us, he let us stay at his house for days, we had no money, he had his Mom feed us three meals a day, and at the end I just gave him that shirt.

GB at The Anthrax, Porcell in left corner, Gus in right corner and Civ on stage, all wearing the PX longsleeve, Photo: Boiling Point

Past Two Poll Results

Insted sing along, Photo: Dave Sine

What's your favorite show pastime?

Singing along - 124

Stage diving
- 88

- 37
Watching safely from a distance
- 27
Hanging out outside the club
- 9
Shooting photos - 6

Ressurection, Photo: Dave Sine

What era did you get into hardcore?

1990's - 165
1980's - 147
2000's - 100

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Smalley Stories from Taylor Steele and Jon Roa

Classic photo of Dave Smalley with DYS

I've known Taylor Steele for a long time as his band 4 Walls Falling played quite a few shows with my band Mouthpiece. Every time we'd see each other we'd always hang out and have great conversations. Being a serious hardcore vet, Taylor would tell stories of seeing everybody from Minor Threat to Youth Of Today from their first tour.

One particular band I remember Taylor telling me he saw was DYS, and I gotta tell you, every time I saw Taylor, I would think to myself... "Shit, this guy saw MINOR THREAT AND DYS!" For Taylor to have seen those bands back in the early 80's and still be doing a hardcore band in the 90's - and on top of that, still be straight edge - I was impressed.

We've been planning on getting Taylor up here on DCXX for a while, so what better time to kick it off than with his DYS story? Expect more from Taylor Steele in the near future. -Tim DCXX

The year was 1983. The month was December. The day was...the 27th I think, I've never been good with that type of shit. Straight Edge Hardcore gods DYS were coming to town and I was giddy with excitement. You have to understand, I had gone to my first show in April of that year, had only been straight edge for a little over a year, had only ever seen one other SXE band (Minor Threat) and was still riding off of a hardcore high from the last show in Richmond (Crucifix). Another thing you have to understand is that SXE hardcore was in its initial stages, there were not many of us around...like any where on the entire planet, much less Richmond Va. There were only 2-5 of us at best here. I could also count the number of SXE bands that existed on the planet on my two hands. It was all fresh and new. The baby was still cute, really cute.

So, there it is, I was going to see Bigfoot, Jesus, Machu Pichu, whatever you want to call it and it was only 15 minutes from where I lived. I get to the show, 100 to 150 people...maybe. The club was called Rockitz, it was small, so it was easy to fill up. There were many great shows there over the years...MDC, Iron Cross, Discharge, BL'AST!, COC, Crucifix etc., but fuck all that for now, because on that night it was going to be DYS.

Fast forward through the opening acts and DYS hits the stage, never before had I seen a hardcore band with a wall of FULL stacks, but thats what served as the background and wall of death for DYS. They explode into their set, LOUD, URGENT, ANGRY, POWERFUL, you know, all that good shit. I was like a cross between a bull in a china shop and a kid in a candy store. The energy, power and message of DYS was off the hook and this teenage hardcore SXE punk rock kid was eating up every bit of it. It was truly incredible. I don't remember the specifics, it was a blinding haze of adreniline for me. Years later, a friend would say, "remember the airplane pilot coming thru Jon's amp?" Man, I sort of remember that but its all fuzzy now. The only other thing I remember was talking to Dave for a couple of minutes, cool as hell dude, which meant even that much more to a young new school SXE kid like myself. That would be the last time I would talk to him for about 20 years, when I would give him directions to a club he was playing at.

Anyway, great guy, great band, a band that still makes this old fucker feel young again when ever I hear that first note on Brotherhood...and all the way through the whole damn thing.

Dag Nasty circa Smalley, as good as it gets.

Long time Smalley enthusiast, California Hardcore O.G., and DCXX contributor, ROA, provides us with a couple Smalley snippets from years gone by. Thanks ROA! - Gordo DCXX

This is not the best story but it means a lot to me, as DYS were one of the best and I hope it exemplifies how much they meant to members of the Chain Crew.

Bratton, Ryan and myself went to go see ALL with Smalley on vocals. It was great. I not necessarily a huge ALL fan but Dave on vocals was a treat. I mean, we grew up studying the cover of Brotherhood (and if any of you know how meticulous Bratton is, well, you know we STUDIED that record). I often remark that DYS were so great, they did not even have to list the song titles on the back of Brotherhood. Upon release one usually forewent the risk of it being only two crappy songs and bought it for the back pictures alone.

Smalley with Down By Law at the Continental, NYC

So we watch ALL play. And, at least for me, this was the first time seeing Dave other than sporadic photographs. I was pretty much in awe. In earnest, we keep shouting for ALL to play "Wolfpack." After the show, we informally interview Dave with these fanboy questions, which he answered. Here's how the stupidest ones went:

Us: Can you show us the Boston punch style dance?
Dave: Um, no.
Us: Can we see the X tattoo?
Dave: Yes.
Bratton: How could you make that second record?
Dave: I liked it, it was good rock.

Fast forward to the last show of Chain of Strength (I still love that it was in Hollywood). Dave and Down By Law were, from the initial booking of the show, hesitant about opening for Chain for a lot of reasons, but mainly due to Dave's pride. Ryan and Bratton never said one word about it. They were more interested in playing hard and, in a healthy way, blowing the other bands off the stage with pure energy. The also had respect for the old guard.

Well, Chain plays and Down by Law goes on after them to….well, maybe 15 people? It was a disaster. They seemed so deflated as the atmosphere was all for Chain. The energy left with Chain's audience. Everyone gathered around the band and congratulated them for they spectacular existence. Some people were making fun of Down By Law's dubious decision not to "volunteer to play first", "ego trip", blah, blah, blah…saying how it kind of sucked that Chain's last show was opening for a not-so-great band.

Bratton, wet with sweat, just shrugged and said, "Hey, he's Dave Smalley from DYS."


Dave puts down the guitar for Down By Law to feed the crowd

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Gail Rush - DYS Photo Showcase

For our fourth entry of Smalley Week here at DCXX, Boston photographer, Gail Rush, brings us a DYS photo showcase. True Till Death... -Tim DCXX

DYS at The Paradise in Boston, Photo: Gail Rush

Dave Smalley and Jon Anastas, Photo: Gail Rush

Dave Smalley with DYS, Photo: Gail Rush

DYS at The Paradise in Boston, Photo: Gail Rush

SSD and DYS...The Boston Crew, Photo: Gail Rush

DYS at The Paradise in Boston, Photo: Gail Rush

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Dag Nasty - "Minority Of One" Photo Shoot

Colin, Brian and Dave, Photo: Traci McMahon

Back in January of 2002 my wife Traci and I received a call from our friend Larry Ransom, who at the time was working over at Revelation Records. Larry was the main cog in the machine responsible for bringing the Dag Nasty "Minority Of One" LP to the surface and needed some photography done for the band. Larry knowing that Traci and I were huge Dag Nasty fans and Traci being a photographer, asked if we would be interested in driving from New Jersey down to D.C. to do a photo shoot of Dag for the new record. Although on very short notice and smack dab in the middle of a work week, of course our answer was yes and the plans were quickly set in motion.

We were to meet the entire band at Brian Bakers' house. Directions to Brian's house in D.C, were secured and we were on our way down I95. From our area in central New Jersey to D.C., the drive is about 3 hours. For some reason, that 3 hour drive seemed more like 15 minutes and before we knew it we were looking for a parking space in Brian's neighborhood. Brian lived in a pretty nice area, pretty much center city, but the street was lined with classic brownstone type houses and nice cars. His house was in fact a brownstone. We walked up to his door, rang the door bell and were greeted by Mr. Baker himself. He let us in and as we walked down his hall and towards his living room, a freshly bleached hair Dave Smalley popped out of the bathroom. Dave looked at us and said, "Hey, how's it going, my name is Dave", then quickly realized that he actually knew both Traci and me from years back. Within minutes we were catching up and us knowing each other really helped break the awkwardness of walking into a house of someone we had never met and meeting 2 of the other Dag guys that we had never met. We sat down on Brian's sofa and were introduced to both Roger Marbury (bass) and Colin Sears (drums). Both Roger and Colin were super cool and treated us like they had known us for as long as Dave had. Brian was on the phone coordinating a Dag interview for Thrasher Magazine, so up until now we really hadn't had a chance to talk with him much. I remember Coca Cola memorabilia decorations all over the house as well has guitars hung on the walls. It was obvious that Brian's love for Coca Cola had not lessened since his days in Minor Threat.

Brian Baker getting his flaming head tattoo, Photo: Traci McMahon

Once Brian was done with his interview and off the phone, the first thing he said to us was, "So you wana hear one of the new tracks?" It was clear that he and the rest of the band were genuinely excited about this new Dag Nasty record that they had just completed that day. We of course were excited as well and eagerly said yes. Off hand I don't recall what track it was, but we were played one full track. I remember the track being pretty fast and sounding fairly similar to something that could have come off "Can I Say". I believe what we heard was not completely mixed and definitely not mastered, so it almost had a raw sound. We dug it, but as quickly as it was played, it was over and we were packing up to leave.

The bands plan for the photo shoot was to take place at a tattoo shop in Virginia. Dave, Brian and Colin all decided they were going to get the classic "Can I Say" flaming head logo tattooed on them and Traci was going to shoot it all as it went down. When we pulled up at the shop, Brian was the first one in the chair. He was going to get the logo tattooed on his ankle. While Brain was getting tattooed and Traci was shooting it on film, I was sitting in the waiting area with Dave, Roger and Colin and all these guys could talk about was Dag Nasty. They were so fired up and excited about the band and this new record, you would think they were an active band and had never broken up. It was really cool to be sitting there with these three guys who were responsible for writing one of my top 10 favorite hardcore records of all time, "Can I Say". What was cool as well was the fact that I had just met all of these guys, with the exception of Dave and they honestly treated me like I was a long lost roadie for the band.

Roger Marbury sketches up a Dag logo, Photo: Traci McMahon

Once Brian was finished getting tattooed, Colin was the next up. He was getting his on his ankle as well. Brian and Dave were hungry and decided to take a walk down the street to get a sandwich at Subway. Dave asked if I wanted anything or if I wanted to take a walk with them and I decided to tag along. We walked down the steps, out of the shop and straight up the street. Within minutes Brian and Dave started talking and conversation instantly went to old friends. "How's Jon Anastas from DYS doing these days, how's Ian doing, have you talked to Al Barile in awhile, how about Choke, what's up with John Stabb?" At that point everything just seemed so surreal. There I was, a kid from New Jersey, in my late 20s who grew up listening die hard to both of these guys' bands. I have the bass player from Minor Threat to my right and the singer of DYS to my left, they're talking about Ian MacKaye and they just got finished recording a Dag Nasty record... damn it's crazy where you end up sometimes. Eventually we got our sandwiches and headed back to the shop.

Colin was finishing up by the time we got back and Smalley was up next. Dave decided he was going to get his flaming head on the inside of his arm, surrounded by Fred Perry like laurle art. Dave sized up and placed the art on his arm and was quickly in the seat himself. As Dave is getting tattooed, I start dabbling with the idea of getting the flaming head logo tattooed on myself. What better time and what better place, but I was torn. This was clearly the band's day and their experience and in my head it just didn't feel like the right thing to do, for their sake. Maybe if I really was that old roadie that the guys made me feel like, but the truth of the matter was that I had never even seen Dag when they were fronted by Dave. Peter Cortner fronted the Dag I saw and were great, but a Smalley fronted Dag just wasn't in my cards. I restrained myself, but do think back from time to time... damn, that could have been cool.

Dave Smalley and Colin Sears talk Dag while waiting to get tattooed, Photo: Traci McMahon

Once everyone was done and freshly inked, we gathered directions, shook hands and made our way out of the shop. Was a Smalley fronted Dag Nasty live show reunion in the future? That was a question that was in the air between the members and of course in our heads. Maybe in between Bad Religion tours, but there was no guarentee. In a way I felt like I already witnessed a reunion, a reunion of old friends that got together to write and play the music that they loved and still love. Thanks Dave, Brian, Colin and Roger... thanks for recording one of the greatest records ever, "Can I Say" and thanks for letting Traci and I sit in on a very cool and special time. Traci was happy to document it with the photos and I was happy to just be there. An extra thanks is also due to Larry for coordianting the whole thing from the start."I'm loooking at pictures and I'm thinking of those times". -Tim DCXX

The Dag Nasty "Minority Of One" promo photo that Rev used, Photo: Traci McMahon

Monday, September 15, 2008

ALL with Dave Smalley at the Silver Dollar, Canada 1988

With yesterdays DCXX entry on Dave Smalley and his "True Till Death" tattoo, we decided Dave is actually worthy of a full weeks worth of entries. Consider this week here at DCXX, "Dave Smalley Week". We've got a few more entries planned out and will be working on others, so if you're a fan of Dave's music, this should prove to be an interesting week.

For our second entry, I found this footage of ALL with Smalley on vocals. It's from a club called The Silver Dollar in Canada and is from 1988. As a huge fan of the Descendents, when they were breaking up, I was pretty damn bummed. Then to find out Dave Smalley was taking over vocal duties for ALL, the new version of the Descendents, I was psyched to say the least. Because of Dave's rather short stint on vocals for ALL, I never got around to seeing them when he was fronting the band. Actually when I found this video, I believe it was the first time I'd ever even seen footage of him with the band. Hope you dig this, but if ALL is not your thing, stay tuned because there's pretty much guaranteed DYS and Dag Nasty content coming soon. -Tim DCXX

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Dave Smalley on the "True Till Death" tattoo

Dave Smalley circa DYS, Photo: Gail Rush

If I had a dollar for every hideous straight edge tattoo I've seen during my relatively short tenure in hardcore, I'd be able to quit my job and work on Double Cross full time. At the same time, there is also some great stuff out there, and perhaps my personal favorite is Dave Smalley's iconic piece of straight edge shoulder ink. The inspiration for who-knows-how-many other tattoos and pieces of art, Dave's is where it all began. Read and learn...

-Gordo DCXX

This is another one of those entries that really hits home for me. Dag Nasty has been a long time favorite band of mine and "Can I Say" is most definitely one of my top ten favorite records ever. From the moment I first heard "Can I Say", there was something special about Smalley's voice, it seemed to bleed sincerity and came off very genuine and heartfelt. Reading interviews with Dave only reinforced what I thought I was hearing in the music. Then digging deeper and discovering DYS only furthered my respect and admiration. Even on to his early involvement with ALL, I was a fan.

Fast forward some years down the line and my band Mouthpiece is opening for Dave's then current band, Down By Law, at Trenton, New Jersey's City Gardens. I was psyched to say the least to meet Dave and made it a point to bring a copy of the first Mouthpiece 7", which had a drawn depiction of of Dave's "True Till Death" X'ed fist tattoo, on our lyric sheet. I also gave Dave a copy of the Mouthpiece "What Was Said" record which had a cover of DYS's "Open Up" as a bonus track on the CD. Upon meeting Dave, he couldn't have been friendlier and more welcoming. He gave off a genuine sense of appreciation for what I was showing and giving him with the Mouthpiece records. We spent a good chunk of the show talking and hanging out. Then when Down By Law hit the stage, they tore through a great set and finished with two Dag Nasty songs. The club erupted and I found myself spending the majority of those two songs on top of the crowd.

After years and years of wanting my own version of Smalley's "True Till Death" tattoo, late summer 2000 I actually got my own. With Mouthpiece, we sort of adopted a re-drawn version of the tattoo as a logo. We went on to use the fist on a number of different t shirt designs. With the combination of the Mouthpiece connection, the Smalley connection and of course the meaning behind the design, it was an image I was happy to place on my body for life. -Tim DCXX

Dave Smalley and Tim DCXX comparing tattoos, Photo: Traci McMahon

One of the D.Y.S. songs is called "Brotherhood," and the chorus has the lyrics "brotherhood -- true till death" in there. I can't remember whether I came up with the lyric first or the tattoo line itself. But all I do know is that once it hit me, it was emblazoned into my soul. You know, the thing about that period of time, and I think like this still, is that loyalty is extremely important. I probably value loyalty to and from friends more than anything else. I expect a good friend to take a bullet for me and I'd likewise take one for them, you know? The Boston Crew was very loyal to one another – disagreements sometimes, to be sure, but it was unity once the fights with the jocks or in other cities started, or once we were out spraypainting or hanging out in Kenmore Square.

And even today, I value each one of those guys, and what that time frame meant to me as a person, and to music and hardcore especially. True Till Death. And straight edge was such a vital component of all of that – it was really the glue that helped make the crew unbreakable. And when you're living that kind of lifestyle, where ideals really do matter, then it's not done in half-measures – it was till death.

Tony, Choke, Dave and Steve, Photo: Gail Rush

The X on a fist originally came from early show days, when clubs would put a huge X with a thick black marker on your hands to show you were underage, you couldn't get a drink at the bar. Of course, we didn't want to get a drink anyway – so we started to put Xs on our hands voluntarily. From there it became the symbol of straight edge, and as part of that, esp. in D.C. and Boston, a symbol of independence from all the expectations to conform and get wasted that were so prevalent then. So it wasn't like I invented the X for SE, it's just that I was the first one, or one of the first, I don't know, to do it as a tattoo. It just seemed to me that the way I wanted to put the ideals of all of that on my body for the rest of my life was to put it just like we did it everyday. I mean, sometimes I would put the X on my fists for so many days in a row, I'd get dizzy and sick from all the ink seeping into my skin, and the smell of those huge, thick markers was intense.

A girl who was part of the early Boston scene, named Julie, who was an excellent artist, drew it for me – a fist with a big X behind it. She did a great job. I think it pretty much came out the way I envisioned it.

I believe it was done at a place called Jim's Tattoo in New Hampshire. We had to drive out of state in those days to get inked, because tattoo studios were not legal in Massachusetts. Which is odd since the Combat Zone area of Boston had intense porno clubs, but yet you couldn't get inked.

Dave, Pat, Tony and Jonathan, Photo: Gail Rush

I think I got this the same time Choke and Jon and the other guys all got theirs done. We all went together to those places, one was Ruby's in Rhode Island, the other was Jim's in NH, and Jonathan and I got inked together in NYC the day we picked up the release of "Brotherhood." We all went together because there was this unspoken, maybe even unrealized bond that existed – whether it was subconscious or not, we knew we were in a tiny minority of kids, of punk/skater/hardcore kids who were SE – not many of us back then at all. Punk rock alone was a rebellion then, and being SE was even a rebellion inside a rebellion. So we ended up doing a lot of stuff together.

My story I remember about getting the fist was that, it was my first tattoo and I was really nervous. The tattooist, Jim, clearly knew that. I wouldn't even look at my arm when it first started. The other guys were all watching. Jim then said "Ooops…" like he'd made a huge mistake, and it was like, the color must've drained from my face, because everyone, including Jim, burst out laughing at my horrified expression. There was no real oops, thank God. He did a really good job.

I had no idea that the artwork would end up being the inspiration for other artwork. I'm totally honored to have seen it in so many places – albums, other people's tattoos, art on the walls, everything. It's a powerful symbol, and it stands for good things, so I'm psyched. It means a lot to me. The joy of that whole period is that there was no talk of what the future would hold – it was about burning bright, burning the candle at both ends every day – the good and the bad, the shows, the fights, it all just happened, and not a lot of concern about the future at all, you know?

I think if anyone had said to any of us – to any of the kids in different scenes across the country -- "your tattoo/band/crew/scene/whatever will still be remembered in 2008" no one would have believed it. It was very in the moment, and very sincere and honest. And that honesty is why it is still remembered fondly, I think.

The tattoo itself has held up pretty darned well considering it's been roughly 26 years on. Damn I'm old. But even though some of my tattoos aren't sparkly and shiny, I guess that's sort of a picture of where I've been and all the chaos, and good times too, I've been through. I was thinking of getting some of them touched up, and Brian Baker, actually, said "no way, just leave them like that – it's who you are, shows where you've been. If some are fading, messed up and old, that just shows you've earned 'em" or something to that effect – in other words, the fade tells as much as the picture. And I agree with that.

The term "True Till Death" meant the world to me then for all the ideals of loyalty – not just to the edge, but to friends and the crew. And I still think it's a damn good ideal to have in life.

Dave with DYS in Boston, Photo: Gail Rush