Monday, November 30, 2009

Poll results for favorite track off of Smorgasbord Records "X Marks The Spot" comp

Wide Awake's Tom Kennedy hits the crowd at the Anthrax, Photo: Ken Ryan

Personally I probably could have gone with a few different tracks here as my favorite, but in the end, my vote went to Pressure Release's "Pass It On". As usual my vote was not the popular one, but that's no surprise at this point. For whatever reason, I've always sort of had a soft spot for Pressure Release. That's not to say that I lack any love for Wide Awake or Up Front, but I guess I've always felt that the re-recordings of their songs that ended up on their records was a notch better. Pressure Release's tracks were more so exclusive to this comp, so that might have influenced my decision a bit. Either way, Wide Awake's "Last Straw" pretty much clobbered the competition, the drew the last straw for sure. - Tim DCXX

Wide Awake - "Last Straw" - 97
Up Front - "One Step Ahead" - 33
Wide Awake - "Wide Awake" - 30
Pressure Release - "Pass It On" - 17
Pressure Release - "Never Give In" - 15
Up Front - "Something To Strive For" - 5
Up Front - "Live and Let Live" - 3

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Joey Vela - Breakaway

Breakaway at Gilman St., Berkeley, CA, Photo courtesy of: Joey Vela

Thinking back to late 1987, I remember first hearing the Maximum Rock 'N Roll - Turn It Around comp and taking a particular interest in Rabid Lassie's catchy track, Contragate. By the following year I started seeing Rabid Lassie shirts pop up in a lot photos as well as Rabid Lassie interviews in a few of the fanzines of the day. Next thing I knew I heard about a Rabid Lassie to Breakaway name change and more interviews were staring to pop up. That Northern California / Gilman St. area scene was booming and Breakaway were smack dab in the middle of it all.

By late 1988 early 1989 the word was out that Breakaway had a 7" coming out on Soul Force Records. I remember the ads, I remember sending off my order and also remember when the package from Soul Force reached my mail box. Undoubtedly, the Breakaway 7" had one of those classic late 80's, early Revelation style layouts loaded with great photos and clean graphics. I was nearly sold on them and I had yet to put the needle to the vinyl. Of course once I actually did get a listen, I was not let down and that 7" received regular rotation.

As the years went on I remember hearing nothing but good things about Breakaway's frontman, Joey Vela. He had the reputation as a good guy and as one of the few that stuck it out through the good and bad. Joey stayed straight edge while many of his counterparts left it behind and he also continued playing hardcore well into the 90's with Second Coming long after Breakaway had called it quits. To some, Joey would be considered one of the die-hards, to others, just another guy who was and still is very passionate about hardcore. Here's part one of his story… -Tim DCXX

Rabid Lassie at Gilman St., Berkeley, CA, Photo courtesy of: Joey Vela

How and when did you discover punk / HC and what are your earliest memories of it?

Like a lot of kids, my first real exposure to punk rock was through skateboarding. I was way into skating when I was really young and I started getting Skateboarder Magazine in 1979. They would have interviews and reviews of bands and the pictures of these bands were just incredible. There was so much energy in these pictures, everything was really raw and I just thought they looked really cool. I didn’t know anything about the bands other than the image portrayed in the pictures. A couple years later, I started buying records of the bands I had seen in Skateboarder or picked up records that other skaters had told me about.

I remember when I was first really getting into it, there was a lot of media hype about how punk rock was brainwashing kids with subliminal messages and how it was basically destroying the youth. For a brief second, my parents actually bought into it. When I wasn’t home, they went through my records and when they found the not so “hidden” messages scratched into the matrix, they freaked out. They had the big talk with me about how I had changed since I started listening to this music and they actually took away my records and said that I could get them back if and when I changed. Funny, they took away the records, but not any of the cassettes I recorded of the records and had no way of monitoring what I listened to when they weren’t around. I never stopped listening to any of it and after a couple of weeks, I got my records back. It's funny looking back at that because it’s not like my parents at all. They were really cool with the music and the scene and always had a welcome, open door with touring bands that came through and needed a place to stay just a few years later.

Full shot from back cover of Breakaway 7", Photo: Scott Schaffer

What was the Nor Cal / Bay Area scene like when you were first coming up and who were the big bands of the time?

I remember the first shows I went to and what a huge difference there was. The first show I went to was in Berkeley in 1983 to go see Fang. Back then, I don’t think I owned anything that didn’t have the Fang skull on it. My first show in Berkeley was NOTHING like the first show I went to out in San Francisco. Some of the kids I used to skate with, we talked one of their sisters into driving us to a show at The Mab. I had never been on Broadway before, none of us had. It was like something out of the movies. Flashing lights of all the surrounding strip clubs, adult book stores, police sirens, mobs of people everywhere, and some of the scariest skinheads and punks I had ever seen. Our friend's sister dropped us off a few blocks away from the club and told us she would pick us up after the show. So there we were, five little kids dropped off on Broadway, making our way back to the Mab. I can only imagine how scared we all looked. As we were walking by some of the strip clubs, the ladies working the doors tried to coerce us to go inside to see the peep shows, it was crazy. But it was exciting up there. You’d see some crazy stuff happen before even getting into the shows.

The Mab used to have two shows a night, the curfew show which was all ages and the late show which I think was 18 and over. Curfew shows ended at 10:00 and had the same bands as the late show. Really an ideal situation for us young kids. After that, we started going out there almost every weekend. A lot of the time, we didn’t even know who was playing, we would just take the BART train out to the city, see the show, then head home. We also started going to other venues like Ruthie's Inn, the On Broadway, Club Foot, The Farm. A lot of great old spots.

Back when I first started going to shows, the scene was pretty violent. The SF Skins were a big deal and you would see some crazy shit happen at the shows. You really had to watch yourself. With risk of sounding like a bitter old man, it just seemed more real back then. It wasn’t as easy, but that’s just the times, you know? You couldn’t go to the mall and buy punk records and it definitely wasn’t the cool thing to do. I don’t know, I’m sure everyone feels that way about when they first got into the scene regardless of what year. As far as who were the big local bands when I first started going to shows...Fang, Dead Kennedys, Code of Honor, Crucifix, Social Unrest. There were a lot of really good bands.

At what point did you decide you wanted to do your own band and how did Rabid Lassie come together?

My friends Trent and Ted had already started a band, and wanted to do another one and they asked if I wanted to sing. That was in 1985. I never set out to start a band, it just sort of happened. I’d say that Trent was the catalyst with starting me into singing in bands though. Trent is an amazing photographer and has documented a lot of our scene over the years with his pictures.

Joey with Rabid Lassie, Photo courtesy of: Joey Vela

Any stand out Rabid Lassie shows? If so, with who, where and why?

Oh man, there were so many great shows we played. It seemed like we played a lot of shows with some of our favorite local bands at the time. Clown Alley, Violent Coercion (Neurosis), Christ on Parade, some of my favorite punk bands to come out of Northern California. I used to love all the shows at New Method, that place was more like a community. I remember at one of the shows there, people were hanging out in the front outside, then all of the sudden, everyone came running in yelling for everyone to stay inside and they started to barricade the door. A couple guys wacked out on pcp were outside getting crazy. A lot of us ran upstairs and climbed out onto the roof to watch these guys break shit that should not be broken by any human, it was nuts. That was one of my favorite spots for shows though. Not so much about the bands playing as much as it was about the community - for the most part, everyone knew each other.

Later on, we played some amazing shows with Youth Of Today, Verbal Assault, a lot of the straight edge shows. I think for me though, my favorite shows were with local friends, Tyrranicide and Unit Pride. We always had a good time playing shows with them.

Give us the recording history of Rabid Lassie, demos, comp tracks, etc.

I think we recorded four demos and two tracks for the Maximum Rock 'N Roll - Turn It Around comp. When we recorded for the MRR comp, they asked us to record two songs, but requested one of the two be a song called Contragate. We weren’t even into the song at all by that point and were looking to change our style a bit. The second song we recorded was heavily influenced by our local heroes, Clown Alley. That song was more of the direction we were heading in and that was the song we wanted on the comp. Of course they chose the song they wanted, and the other song was never used on anything or released on any demo.

At what point was the decision made to morph Rabid Lassie into Breakaway and what was the reason for the change?

It was kind of one of those things where we wanted to be taken more seriously and like I said before, we were changing our style a bit. We had a lot of different line up changes and it just seemed like a good time to make the change and kind of get a fresh start. Simply put, we just weren’t the same band we were when we first started. Different style, different views, different people, we just wanted a name that fit the band better.

Rabid Lassie at Gilman St., Berkeley, CA, Photo courtesy of: Joey Vela

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Ken Salerno on Victim In Pain part II

This is the continuation of Ken Salerno's Agnostic Front "Victim In Pain" photo post. In case you forgot, the reason for all these "Victim In Pain" appreciation and memories posts stem from the official re-release of AF's "Victim In Pain" on Bridge 9 Records.
I received my copy in the mail last week, along with the re-release of AF's "United Blood" EP and I gotta say, Chris Wrenn and the rest of the B9 crew did a great job on these re-releases. Check it out here B9 Store, you won't be disappointed. -Tim DCXX

Monday, November 23, 2009

Jay Krakdown part II

Jay hits the NYC crowd during a Krakdown set at CBGB's, Photo: Boiling Point

Who were your favorite HC bands early on?

My favorite bands…wow another hard one…so I am just going to make a quick list of bands as they come to mind…so this is in no particular order: Sick Of It All, Killing Time, Cro Mags, AF, CFA, Murphys Law, Regan Youth, Void, Minor Threat, Bad Brains, Mariah Carey (just making sure you’re still paying attention), Absolution, Circle Jerks, Sham 69, GB, Outburst, NY Hoods, 7 Seconds, Slapshot, Urban Waste, The Mob, Icemen, Underdog, Rest in Pieces, Straight Ahead, Dr. Know, Iron Cross, Mental Abuse, Black Flag, The Germs, Token Entry, Warzone, Nausea, and on and on.

I know I left so much out…especially all the old punk that influenced me before I discovered hardcore but I guess that will have to do for now. I really liked most of the bands I saw. I was not this huge record collector (although I have many old records and tapes from back then).

Again, for me hardcore was about the people, especially my friends. So I can’t tell you what band cut a rare record in such and such a year but I do know who I hung out with at such and such a show. Hardcore to me was about live music and friends and the energy associated with seeing a live band. That is why I slowly moved away from the scene as it changed. Now that I am older I look back on the changes and realize all things change and evolve. The anger I felt back then was wasted energy and I am grateful for the time I had to be a part of something as amazing as the NYHC scene. I am happy to see some of my closest friends from the scene still out there playing and waving the flag of NYHC as it once was.

When and how did the idea to start Krakdown develop?

The idea to start Krakdown was really accidental. In 1985 Damon and I were messing around with music and lyrics when we both got the idea to start a band. Damon had some music and I had some lyrics so we decided to form a band. We got our friend Richie on board and started jamming. Richie was in the original Krakdown that was formed and disbanded in 1984 so he asked Damon and I if we would be interested in playing some of the old Krakdown songs. We were both fans of Krakdown so we figured it would be pretty cool. We had a hard time finding a drummer that understood the feel we were looking for. We finally found John through an ad he hung on the wall of Some Records. John had seen the old Krakdown and had the old punk drumming sound we were looking for. We could not come up with a name for the band so we decided to carry on the Krakdown torch.

Where did you see Krakdown fitting into the NYHC scene at the time and who were the bands you most liked playing with?

How did Krakdown fit in to NYHC…shit I don’t know if we fit in with each other let alone the scene. Let’s see, Damon the bass player was an angry Rasta/skinhead that spoke of peace as he beat your ass, Richie was a whacked out pot smoking, drinking skater, John the drummer was in his 40s at the time and was the first macrobiotic I had ever met…so we laughed at how he ate seaweed and rice, and there was me…an angry kid that had just quit drinking, drugging, and HS…not to be straight edge but to stay out of jail. So how does that dysfunctional mess fit in with the scene? I guess we were misfits so we were a perfect fit!

I guess I see our place in the history of the scene as just another band that loved to play more of a old style punk/hardcore than just straight hardcore. We never really fit into the mold of many of the bands that were coming out at that time. The music was changing to a much heavier, tougher sound than in the past but we stuck with the older more punk sound of hardcore. Don’t get me wrong, I loved all the bands that were coming out at the time but we tried to keep our sound alive. I know that cost us in popularity but we didn’t care (remember we were angry kids so fuck everyone else). We also didn’t record as much as a lot of other bands and we didn’t write new songs as fast as everyone else. This is because our focus was on playing live and putting on crazy shows full of energy. I don’t know if we accomplished that but fuck it we tried. We were also too dysfunctional to write new music or get our asses into the studio. Combine that with marriage, jobs, etc. so all we had was our live shows. That was when we didn’t argue…I just got on stage and had a blast. So I hope we will be remembered as just a band that loved to play, loved the scene, and put on a good show.

As for who I liked playing with the most…well just my friends: SOIA (we did a lot of shows with them and we always had a blast…I still sport my Alleyway Crew tat with pride and respect to my brothers!), Raw Deal/ Killing Time, Absolution, Token Entry, Ludachrist, Rest in Pieces, Nausea, Trip 6, Maximum Penalty, Straight Ahead, SFA, Side by Side, Supertouch, GB, Outburst, and on and on. Sorry I know I left people out but you know who you were. I always had a blast playing with these guys and it made for a good time.

Jay and Richie with Krakdown, Photo courtesy of: Jay

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Brian Walsby on The Cathay De Grande

The Cathay De Grande was this seedy basement club a block or so away from Hollywood Blvd. in (you guessed it) Hollywood. It was on a street called Selma Ave. And even more interesting was that Mystic Records was a block away! I think I spent the bulk of 1984 going to this club to see a variety of cool bands. I was sort of making up for lost time; at this point I was already a published cartoon scribbler and started to get mail, but I still hadn’t gone to a real show until December of 1983 (which was 45 Grave, Redd Kross (with Dez Cadena) and D. Boon). I didn’t drive. So I waited till some of the friends I had made as pen pals would actually go out of their way to come get me for some shows...even if I did live in Ventura County, seemingly a million miles from anything cool or exciting.

By this time, I had also met the guys in Scared Straight. Scott Radinsky drove and had a blue pick up truck. We’d make the trek into Hollywood a lot to see shows, and for whatever the reason most of them were at the Cathey De Grande. It was exciting. Finally I was able to see all of this cool shit. And there was a dangerous vibe to it as well. I thought anything could happen at any time, and there was rarely any occasion that made us feel that it wasn’t worth the trek.

Looking back, I am struck by what a na├»ve and undeniable dork I was, definitely not one of the tough and scary kinds of punk rockers. I was a slightly pudgy longhaired Jewish kid with glasses. I was just totally into the music and lived to find out more about what I had been buying and reading in this subculture. And it was all good at that point. Even when it wasn’t it still was. It was exciting just being in that room far far away from my parent’s house. And of course I met a lot of other like minded kids that were also really into the same things.

A shredding Die Kreuzen

Die Kreuzen played there on their first album tour. To say they were good and ahead of their time would be a great understatement. They were perhaps the ultimate band at the time but still seemed so weird and different then almost everybody else at the time. I have a picture somewhere of me and Ryan Hoffman (of Justice League) sitting on a monitor on the nonexistent stage watching bassist Keith Brammer play, and we are both sitting there looking at him with our eyes and mouths wide open like we are watching the second coming of Jesus...or at least Marc Bolan. I mean, he really had good hair.

Seven Seconds and Uniform Choice played a great show there as well. Some of the times I had seen 7 Seconds play they were not too hot. Not this night. It was like a nonstop sing along, one would be hit after another, the bulk of “The Crew” and “Committed For Life” unfurled. There was another show where I saw this one band called Condemned To Death. They were from San Francisco and they were an amazing band. A lot of people don’t really remember these guys but they were great.

Kevin Seconds (with the Brian Walsby drawn shirt) and Steve Youth with 7 Seconds at the Sun Valley Sportman's Hall 1984, Photo: Joe Henderson

Another show that I remember there was during the summer of 1984. Some of you might remember that the Olympics were being held in Los Angeles back then, so the city appeared to have looked a little cleaned up. The previous night was a big Goldenvoice show at the infamous Olympic Auditorium where Dead Kennedys, Raw Power, Reagan Youth and BGK played. We had heard that a quickie show was being held the next night at the Cathey and that some of the same bands would be playing. The bill ended up being Cause For Alarm, AOD and BGK. It was a great show but I remember BGK totally stole the show. At the time they were one of the most precise hardcore bands I had ever seen. It was hot as shit down there that night. Good times.

The club also had this once a week thing called DUNKER NIGHT. For the price of one dollar, you could get in and watch up to eleven bands in one night! And a lot of them were real good. There was one band that seemed to play that night all the time called Incest Cattle. They were this amazing trio that had all of these weird songs that ran the gamut from post punk screeching noise to furious hardcore to overt metal songs and everything in between. The weird looking short bassist with the Human League haircut turned out to be Doug Carrion who joined the Descendents when they reformed a year or so later. I remember seeing a band called MADMEN that featured people that looked (gasp!) old. What were these people doing here? Remember how it was when you were eighteen and when you met someone who was not even thirty, and you couldn’t believe it? Well, these guys were older than that, I bet. The singer was this furious front person who really had presence. They also seemed to have more command of their instruments; unlike some of the other fellow youngsters I have seen playing music. Dunker Night was always really cool for me. I wonder if anyone else remembers that?

I met all kinds of people there. I remember hanging out with Tim Kerr and Randy “Biscuit” Turner of the Big Boys in the stairwell one night. I was struck by how nice and friendly they were, which is what everyone said. It left a big impression on me. Almost every single living punk rock “celeb” that I knew of seemed to drop by there at least once. Sometimes I would bother these people but most of the time I would just admire them from afar, too nervous to actually engage in conversation. I met the legendary El Duce of the Mentors, who was everything you would think he would be if you know who that person was; a total laugh riot. Of course he was shitfaced. Hanging out with Al and Hud from the legendary FLIPSIDE magazine was also a big deal. And it was really cool to find out that almost all of the people that I had admired, known about and looked up to were all personable and nice. I wasn’t sure why I expected anything else but there you go.

The infamous
Olympic Auditorium

Speaking of shitfaced, the funniest thing about all of the times I went to the Cathay De Grande was how I was this dumb little kid who didn’t do anything but religiously watch these bands and the fact that I usually was surrounded by all of these fucked up and drunk people. I never drank or smoked pot or anything like that...not at that time anyways, so it meant nothing to me but I had no problems with it. Actually, it was kind of exciting to be around, to be honest. It made things scarier, if that makes sense. And for every time I saw a show there like 7 Seconds where there were more young people that didn’t necessarily want to get fucked up, there were plenty of drug addicts, speed freaks and alcoholics at various other slightly more “adult” shows that catered to those damn punk rockers.

I can’t seem to recall when and why the club closed down but I think it happened right before I moved to the East Coast. So I am guessing that it was the end of 1985 or so. I haven’t been to a club that had that kind of vibe since. It was disgusting and seedy and falling apart but for awhile it was like a second home to me. There have probably been at least a thousand photos that people took of bands playing at the Cathay De Grande...and some of those photos have made it into fanzines and the back covers and inserts of rare records that some of you reading this right now probably own.

Brian Walsby and Al Quint of Suburban Voice Fanzine, 1985, Photo courtesy of: Al Quint

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Ken Salerno on Victim In Pain

Just got back to the east coast and wanted to put my two cents into the AF Victim In Pain post. Since everyone is commenting on how that album changed their lives and such, I thought I'd do a photo essay because AF was one of those bands that was soooo easy to shoot. These photos are all from City Gardens. Randy Now (CG's show promoter) was always nervous about a few bands that were regulars because of the NO SLAM DANCING, NO STAGE DIVING rule put in place by Frank "King Tut", the owner of City Gardens. Randy had to take shit from Frank, parents and Trenton police(on occasion) if the bands went off big, and AF ALWAYS went big. Anyway, here's what I saw at the time. Kudos to Roger and AF for still being out there. Over/Out, Salerno

To be continued...

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Everybody's Scene outtakes with Ray Cappo part II

Here's the continuation of Ray Cappo's interview outtakes from Chris Daily's upcoming book, Everybody's Scene. If you liked the first entry, this one hits just as hard, if not harder. This pretty much goes without saying at this point, but thanks to Chris for letting us use this and definitely grab the book when it's released. -Tim DCXX

The Anthrax became our new hangout, basically. We'd go every weekend practically. Sometimes they'd have like three shows a week and it would just get to be too much. But we pretty much went every weekend.

We all came from Danbury to Stamford, and we just sort of met everybody from there. I remember Porcell came. I met Porcell there. He was just like, "Holy crap! You guys are Violent Children! I always hear you guys on Adventure Jukebox!" We put out a single, also, which was, through Bill. Bill produced the whole thing. We recorded in his basement. He produced Moby and the Vatican Commandos, and he did Reflex From Pain and he did CIA's stuff. He was like, "you wanna do a single?" And we were like, "Yeah!" So we recorded 8 songs and we just put it out ourselves. We didn't even know if we'd sell any, we just sold it to the local crappy record store, the Record Express or something right on West Street or something. Same street that West Conn is on. "Can we sell our records here on consignment?" And we'd sell them! Unbelievable. Strange as hell. Sell all these records right there at that store. Rough Trade said we'd like to buy 300 records. "Yeah we'll take ‘em on consignment." And we sold them, and they'd send us the check! I never thought they'd send us a check. We were holding that check for six hundred dollars! We could not believe it. That was it. That was the beginning of me and my record business. Started making and selling records. We only made 500 and we sold them quick. It's been bootlegged a few times.

As far as Shaun and Brian, I think I got kicked out by Shaun once at The Anthrax. Brian kicked me out once for doing something. I got 86'd from the Anthrax once cuz I stole a flyer. But I'm great friends with both of them. I love them both. We were like family back then. But I think at one point they kicked me out for stealing a flyer. I didn't think it was bad though. I was like, "You can't steal 'em? I like it. Can't you just copy it?"

A faux gig with Cappo singing to his crazed fans in some bedroom in Newport RI. This was a stop while on tour with 7 Seconds and Youth of Today. In the photo is: Ray, Kevin Seconds, Jordan Cooper, Porcell, Eric Boofish Barclay, Galen Young, Pete Chramiec, Dave Stein, Photo: Bessie Oakley

There's the story with them and how they didn't want YOT to play with 7Seconds. There was a special bond with us and 7Seconds. They ruled our lives. They were our Gods. So when they came to town, they had made special arrangements. At that point there was such a tight community between Boston and Rhode Island and Albany and us in Connecticut that, When 7 Seconds was coming to town, Youth Of Today got on all the shows. Violent Children was allowed the year before to play with them in Connecticut. That was the dream come true. But then the next year, with YOT, the dream came even more and we played a whole little tour. But by the time it came to The Anthrax in Connecticut, the Sheridans wouldn’t let us play. Brian was giving us a hard time. He didn't want us to play, I was freakin' ready to kill him. Brian was only a few years older than us, but he appeared to be an adult. We appeared to be a bunch of dirt bags. He represented a few notches under my dad.

He's turning 50 this year, and I'm 43. So 7 years older than me. But back then he was like 25... you know, you old piece of shit. It's like, "You're 25!?!?! And Vinnie Stigma, he's 30!" That was like, the big outrage, "He's 30 years old and he's still into this shit!?!?" So anyway, he wouldn't let us play the show. I was just always trying to sneak in the door. You'd never know if he was trying to rip you off or we were just being cheap. I mean, he did have to run a business. What I do remember is when we went from the small Anthrax to the big Anthrax, we went from getting paid nothing to one day, Brian from the big Anthrax was like, "here's 500 bucks" and we were just like, "What?! You're going to pay us 500 dollars for one show?! Oh my God!" We'd always get like, "Okay, here's 20 bucks." Okay, thanks. We would never argue about money. It was never an issue to get paid, no one thought, we're doing this to get paid.

But as YOT got bigger later on, they were big shows. Youth Of Today, as we got big, we didn't realize we were big. I remember coming back to Connecticut and Todd Knapp goes, "So what's it like? You're in a big band." I was like "I am?" He was like "What do you mean man, you're in every fanzine, and they're all writing about you guys!" We were a little oblivious almost. My thinking was, well I guess we've done our time, doesn't everyone get big? Youth Of Today just became a phenomenon and we didn't really understand it while it was happening.

Youth Of Today at Gilman St. 1987, Photo: Wayne Vanderkuil

As YOT got bigger, I will say it was a little weird for me because all those guys in CT were like my elders in the scene. I was a young kid in the Connecticut scene. It was peculiar. I remember playing with AOD. AOD was one of the older guys' bands. We really loved them. We were playing some show in Arizona when they had to open for YOT and I was like, "They're the big band! Why are they opening for us!? We're the little band!" It threw stuff around for me in my mind. But at that point it was sort of cool because I wasn't really part of the Connecticut scene at that point, because I had moved to New York. So it was cool to have some place where you knew everybody and felt comfortable.

I will say I wish I saw all those old Anthrax shows at the newer Anthrax in Norwalk. The newer Anthrax was so exponentially better to go to a hardcore show. The whole fun of going to a hardcore show is stage diving, let’s face it. If you're a teenage boy, it's the most fun thing in the world. You can jump off the stage and not get hurt, and pile up. It's good fun.

Youth Of Today at The Living Room, January 1989, Photo: Brian Boog

This reminds me of how I learned about stage diving. It goes back to the first time I went to a hardcore show - that Young And The Useless show. We went with Fudd, who was our authority. We respected anything he said - even though he was a total story teller. Let me go off on an aside here about Fudd for a minute:

He was a year older than us and he loved to lie, he was a pathological liar. I think he wanted us to be his friends so he could lie to us. He would tell us these fascinating stories that we were too dumb to call him on. His famous one, that we'll all recollect, is that he walked to Bridgeport from Danbury to see Laurie Anderson. He would look in the Village Voice, see that Joe Jackson was playing Peppermint Lounge, "Oh, I walked to New York to see Joe Jackson, it was really good." Oh you can WALK to NEW YORK? We were too dumb to understand that you can't walk to Bridgeport. So we were like, "Really? Wow. Fudd's been everywhere!"

The thing is, we were so desperate to have any punk friends, we accepted anyone. That's how we met Jordan from Revelation. He was the new kid in school and he had a Dead Kennedys "DK" written on his book. And I thought, “Oooh, a convert.” I can preach to him the ways of hardcore. All you needed was just a little bit of interest. All you needed to do was doodle a little anarchy "A" and we were like, "Let's get this guy!" We were always looking for converts to get someone from that regular scene into our scene to bring to our shows.

Tim Schellin, Ray, Bessie Oakley and Angie Whitworth Pace goofin' around at the Grange Hall, Photo courtesy of: Bessie Oakley

So anyways, Fudd would tell us he would go to all these shows. We accepted him as the punk elder out of us five: Me, Warren, Dave Rinelli, Chris Getz. So, according to Fudd, there was no such thing as slam dancing. It didn't exist. It was something that happened in the 70s. It was pogoing, and slamming, and then it ended. It was like, "Oh. That sucks. Can we slam?" He was like, "You can slam but it isn't real anymore." All of a sudden me and Fudd and this other girl, Shelly, a friend from high school, we all went to CBGBs. We were sitting at a table, we may even have been ordering a drink or something. So we are sitting at CBs, some rock band played, and all of a sudden Young And The Useless played and everyone starts slamming. And I just stood up and said "They're slamming! Fudd! They're slamming!" I could not believe it! I wanna slam too!"

I just started running, I had this long army trench coat, and a long mohawk. Of course there is a method to New York City slamming; you just don't run in. But I'm like this dorky kid from Danbury who didn't know the rules. I just ran in there and started slamming into everybody as much as I could. I remember perfectly, this guy grabs me and who is it? John Watson. He grabbed me by the neck and cocked his fist and was ready to punch my lights out and I just put up my hands, I said "I'm sorry, I'm new to this! I don't know what to do!" He just like, threw me down.

Then I also noticed that everyone was stage diving. It was the first time I ever saw stage diving. I saw these guys stage diving, they would say something into the microphone; I didn't realize they were singing along. I just thought they would say something random into the microphone. I was like, "alright, you've gotta pick something clever to say, because before this show stops I have to jump off that stage." So I’m slamming, slamming, slamming. And then the UK Subs were like, "Okay this is our last song," and I was like, “I've gotta do it.” So I jumped on the stage, I grabbed the microphone and said "Fuck Ronald Reagan" and I jumped off the stage. I didn't realize I was supposed to say the lyrics of the song. I just said something I thought was very poignant and would make me look cool. it probably had the opposite affect. That was it. From then on, we slammed...actually, we moshed. We copied the New York Style of moshing.

We were really into dancing as part of the culture. 100% stolen from New York. But I will say..and I traveled a lot back then...New York had a style of dancing that no one else had around the country. I mean, just from traveling around the country back then, it was actually an art form. I can't describe it. So we mimicked it as best as we could.

Youth Of Today at The Living Room, January 1989, Photo: Brian Boog

This Weekends Events

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Joe Songco - NYC Hardcore, Thrash, and Hip Hop

Outburst drummer Joe Songco brings us a history lesson that takes us to the streets of NYC in 1986 and drops a ton of knowledge on how a lot of what is going on today in music can be traced back to that era. NYHC. -Gordo DCXX

Most, if not all, great music genres evolve in self-contained fashion. Musicians forming attitudes and ideologies to go along with their songs while loyal fans spread the message and the music, eventually transforming into a full-blown scene. The British Invasion in England. The Motown Explosion in Detroit. Punk again in England. Disco in New York. New Wave once again in England. Grunge in Seattle. To follow the trend and timeline, it was generally "one city, one scene." But in the early to mid 80's, New York City had three great up-and-coming music scenes running alongside each other at the same time. It was an unforgettable time to be a fan of underground music and if you were lucky enough to have been there to tune in to the streets, you will always remember what a magical time it was.

Hip hop, thrash and hardcore. Three musically distinct genres growing and functioning independently at first, destined to be intertwined by the end of the decade, thanks in large part to the unique swagger and undeniable attitude of New Yorkers themselves.

Each scene had their sources to communicate to the masses: When it came to radio, hardcore had shows like WNYU's Hellhole and Crucial Chaos; hip hop had shows put on by DJ's like Red Alert, Mr. Magic and Chuck Chillout; and thrash could be heard on Seton Hall's radio station WSOU 89.5 and every Friday night on WNEW's Metal Shop. Fans of each scene had places to go see their favorite acts all around the city. You went to A7, CBGB or Max's Kansas City if you wanted to dive and slam. You went to Latin Quarter or Union Square if you wanted to do the wop. You went to L' Amour's in Brooklyn if you wanted to headbang.

These were the scenes going in the greater New York area circa 1984 and the going was good. MC's rocked the mic, hardcore kids danced in the pit and headbangers, well, banged their heads. And each scene had their early pioneers getting out there and inspiring many others to listen, join the movement and perhaps try their hand at playing this music that had now captivated them. Kurtis Blow, Fearless Four, Grandmaster Flash, Run-DMC, Urban Waste, Kraut, Agnostic Front, Cro-Mags, Anthrax, Overkill, Manowar, Nuclear Assault - just to name a few…all playing to their respective crowds while existing peacefully in the confines of the bubble that was their scene.

But somewhere along the way, funny things began to happen: Run DMC used Eddie Martinez to play a blistering rock riff and solo in their classic track "Rock Box." The Beastie Boys traded their instruments for microphones, signed with Def Jam and released "Rock Hard" and "She's On It." Anthrax released "Spreading The Disease," with the video for "Madhouse" showing hospitalized patients showing off their best slam dancing moves in a mental ward. Spreading The Disease also featured an inner record sleeve collage containing numerous hardcore images. If you looked closely, you saw skinheads, moshing, diving, Dan Spitz skateboarding, a Circle Jerks t-shirt, the Corrosion of Conformity logo and the biggest pre-cursors to New York crossover movement to that point, Scott Ian wearing an S.O.D. t-shirt and an image of Billy Milano himself. And finally in December of 1985, S.O.D. - which stood for Stormtroopers Of Death - released "Speak English Or Die."

S.O.D. had fans in both the metal and the hardcore scenes buzzing. "It's played by 1/2 of Anthrax so it's probably metal, right?" "But the singer is a huge hardcore skinhead, so it's gotta be hardcore, right?" "But it's on Megaforce and the guitar sound is undeniably metal!" "Yeah, but the speed, power and aggression is completely hardcore!" It was like the old Reese's Peanut Butter Cup commercial slogan: "Two great tastes taste great together." And whatever you may have thought about Speak English Or Die back then, depending on whichever scene you were loyal to, there was no denying that S.O.D. had kicked down a door that had previously separated hardcore and metal. And it wouldn't be long before hip hop would be joining in on the crossover front, setting the stage for unchartered waters in New York City.

"Walk in the door, get on the floor, hard rock, hard hitting hip hop hardcore." - Run DMC "Run's House"

In 1986, amid a slew of destined-to-be-classic NYHC records released by Cro-Mags, Murphy's Law and Crumbsuckers, Ludichrist not only issued their own classic with "Immaculate Deception" but they tipped their caps to the hip hop scene in their song "Green Eggs and Ham" by breaking into a full rendition of Run DMC's "Rock Box" and busting their own funky rhymes. Also released in 1986 was Agnostic Front's "Cause For Alarm", which was a definite turn towards a more metal direction. With the addition of Alex on guitar and Louie on drums, the record was chock full of double bass and guitar solos.

The Los Angeles-based speed thrashers Slayer released Reign In Blood, also in 1986, but what turned heads was that the band had signed to Def Jam, joining a stable of artists such as LL Cool J, Public Enemy and The Beastie Boys. When the Beasties released "Licensed To Ill", Slayer's Kerry King performed the guitar solos on "Fight For Your Right" and "No Sleep Til Brooklyn." When Slayer came to New York City in December of '86, touring in support of Reign In Blood, they selected Agnostic Front to open for them at The Ritz. If you were in attendance that night, you heard "Hiding Inside" and "Victim In Pain" then "Angel of Death" and "Chemical Warfare" on the same night from bands who shared the same stage.

"Well they say rap and metal can never mix, but all of them can suck our...sexual organ located in the lower abdominal area." - Anthrax "I'm The Man"

As 1987 rolled around, Anthrax set out to kick down another door. Following the release of "Among The Living", Anthrax released "I'm The Man" - an EP, featuring the title track - which could only be described as a rap-metal comedy skit. The EP's cover showed the band posing against a wall with the Anthrax logo written in graffiti while decked out in Adidas shelltops, sweat suits and baseball caps. It was a clear salute to their affinity for the now very popular hip hop movement coming out of their hometown. "I'm The Man" contained samples of Run DMC, The Fat Boys and The Beastie Boys.

By the end of 1987, Public Enemy had recorded their now-classic track "Bring The Noise" for the Def Jam soundtrack to the film Less Than Zero. Contained in the back-and-forth lyrics shared between Chuck D and Flavor Flav was this return head nod back to Anthrax: "Beat is for Eric B., LL as well, hell. Wax is for Anthrax, still I can rock bells." It became the leadoff track from their early 1988 Def Jam release "It Takes A Nation of Millions To Hold Us Back", which also contained the song "She Watch Channel Zero?!" - a song built completely around a sample from Slayer's "Angel Of Death."

"And then just maybe you'll realize that it didn't have to be...only as directed." - Ludichrist - "Only As Directed"

By 1988 through into 1989, the three underground scenes weren't so underground anymore. In fact, you could've easily gone into Tower Records in the Village to find your favorite records by artists in all 3 genres. New York Hardcore was feeling the influence on both sides of the coin. Agnostic Front released "Liberty and Justice For…" and Cro-Mags released "Best Wishes." Both records, with songs like "Anthem" and "Death Camps," exhibited the blazing raw power of hardcore while adding certain elements of hard-as-nails thrash metal with rousing success. Taking it even one step further was Leeway, who managed to fuse the hardcore and metal while picking the right spots to add elements like grooves, rhythm and hip-hop style verses. Look no further than "Catholic High School" and "Kingpin" for prime examples of Leeway's ability to merge all three styles together seamlessly.

New growth of unparalleled proportions would follow, since it seemed like it was acceptable to experiment in new sounds. And shining examples of New York City's musical shades of gray would only benefit the fans of their beloved forms of music. Here are just a few:

Underdog's Richie transforming into MC Richie B., spitting verses like a pro during live performances at the break of "Say It To My Face." If you were fortunate enough to see his straight hip hop delivery, you were nodding your head like a b-boy, as we all were.

The emergence of the metal (and some hip hop) influence in a newer breed of NYHC bands that incorporated more "jug-jug" riffs and heavier groove influenced mid-tempo breaks while the front men would choose to express lyrics with more rhythmic throat shouting (more MC than singer) over the traditional aggressive melodic singing. Some examples would include Sick Of It All, Killing Time, Breakdown, Outburst, Rest In Pieces, Judge, and Maximum Penalty.

KRS-1 introduced Sick Of It All at the start of "Blood, Sweat and No Tears." Many NYHC fans were also fans of New York Hip Hop and for the Blastmaster to deliver his patented "fresh for 89…you sucker!" before Sick Of It All began "It's Clobbering Time," well that was just a tremendous show of the unity between the two scenes.

Public Enemy and Anthrax got together to record a new version of "Bring The Noise," complete with a video which showed a mosh pit, stage diving, Scott Ian rhyming on the mic and Joey Belladonna behind the 1's and 2's.

The Beastie Boys sampled Bad Brains' "The Big Takeover" on the first single from their 1992 record "Check Your Head." The Beasties would re-visit their old hardcore instruments on "Sabotage" from their 1994 record "Ill Communication."

The advent of new hybrid acts who further blurred the lines, such as Helmet, Biohazard and Prong while certain NYHC bands evolved into new acts with a new sound and direction, such as Gorilla Biscuits and Underdog spawning Quicksand and Into Another, respectively.

Queens' based Def Jam hip hop group Onyx released their debut effort, "Bacdafucup", which featured slam dancing, mosh pits and crowd surfing in their videos for "Throw Ya Gunz" and "Slam." (Cypress Hill also incorporated the mosh pit and stage diving in their video for "Insane In The Brain").

Yo, was that the beginning to a Stetsasonic jam? Nope. That was "Eyes Of Tomorrow" by the Cro-Mags. Welcome back, LL Cool John!

Collaborations by acts like Biohazard and Onyx on "Judgment Night" from the film of the same name's soundtrack and a re-recording of "Slam." Sick Of It All later got into the studio with hip-hop act (and fellow Queens residents) Mobb Deep to collaborate on a new version of Mobb's 1995 classic "Survival Of The Fittest."

Anthrax covered classic D.R.I hardcore songs "Snap" and "I'd Rather Be Sleeping" on their record "Volume 8: The Threat Is Real".

And if New York set the dominoes up to fall everywhere else, fall they did. Here are some examples of what was going on outside of the Big Apple:

In Texas, D.R.I. followed up their 1985 hardcore classic "Dealing With It" with a record aptly named "Crossover" in 1987. The album cover featured the band's well known "moshing guy" logo cast in (what else?) a shiny metal alloy. There was no turning back for D.R.I. as they followed "Crossover" with straight up thrash records in "Four Of A Kind" and "ThrashZone."

In North Carolina, Corrosion of Conformity followed up their 1985 hardcore classic "Animosity" with their step-in-the-metal-direction 1987 EP "Technocracy" on Metal Blade Records - just a sign of things to come as the C.O.C. hardcore fans used to know and love released the blistering metal classic "Blind" in 1991.

Orange County, California and Revelation artist Inside Out morphed into Rage Against The Machine, taking the hip-hop/hardcore crossover to triple platinum heights with their self titled debut record in 1991.

In Los Angeles, Suicidal Tendencies, followed their self-titled 1984 hardcore classic by embracing the crossover with records like "Join The Army," "How Will I Laugh Tomorrow...?" and "Lights...Camera...Revolution!" Intentional tip-of-the-hat to NYHC or not, Suicidal's "War Inside My Head" contained massive elements of Cro-Mags' "Don't Tread On Me" and Warzone's "We're The Crew." Oh, and former ST bassist Rob Trujillo now plays for Metallica.

Also in L.A., going in the other direction, Slayer released "Undisputed Attitude" - a full length record of covers for some of their favorite hardcore cover tunes from bands like Minor Threat, D.R.I. and Verbal Abuse.

"I give thanks for inspiration. It guides my mind along the way" - Beastie Boys "Pass The Mic"

It's probably a safe bet to say that the kids today don't give a lot of thought to the lineage, the DNA, the why, when and how it all took place. But if you were there back in the day, you know how it all went down. Twenty five years ago, who would've thought that there would be an artist like Kid Rock - a Harley Davidson-riding white MC rapping over a Metallica song? Twenty five years ago, who would've been ready for Limp Bizkit - a white MC rocking a backwards Yankee cap doing his best b-boy, dropping rhymes with a band playing hardcore and metal riffs? System Of A Down, P.O.D. and Korn should be proud to hail from California and Slipknot can call Iowa home. Limp Bizkit & Kid Rock? Florida & Michigan, respectively...and so on and so forth.

But we all know that a large part of their musical heritage is owed to a time in a place where lines were crossed, minds were opened, risks were taken and new styles gave birth to even newer styles. New York. And that's not a boast...well, maybe it is...but that's also a fact. Represent.