Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Rich Labbate of Insted on the 3 records that stand the test of time to him

Rich with Insted, Photo courtesy of: Mikey Fastbreak

There are a lot of records that stand the test of time for me but after much thought and digging back to compare, I have to go with:

Bad Religion - How Could Hell Be Any Worse

As decades have passed and my taste in music has expanded, I go back to this record and it STILL impresses me - even when I remove the sentimental value from it and analyze it from a musician’s standpoint. The music is aggressive, the sounds are raw yet melodic, and the lyrics are still relevant today. It blows me away that they wrote this record when they were teenagers in high school. Every single song moves me. There are no songs that I skip over and after thousands and thousands of listens, it still gets weekly plays from me. This was one of the first punk records I ever bought and truly is a hardcore/punk masterpiece.


Honorable mentions have to include:

Agnostic Front - Victim In Pain

From the shocking gatefold photos to the incredible live shot on the inside, the socially aware lyrics, and songs of unity. A-Z, these songs are classics that stand the test of time. When I think of NYHC this is the record that represents it to me. This record sounds just as rowdy as it did in 1985. Awesome!

Minor Threat- two seven inches on a 12” (Yes, I bought this as a 12”. I wasn’t there in 1981 when they originally came out). This record is timeless. I had to buy this record twice because I wore the 1st copy out from playing it so much. I recently bought a 3rd copy on colored vinyl just because it’s that incredible.

Those 3 albums get my vote. Many others are great but there might be just 1 songs or 2 that I find myself skipping. The above mentioned are pretty much PERFECT in my eyes. There are also plenty of records that have not stood the test of time and are just a memory.

Rich with Insted at the Country Club, Reseda CA, Photo courtesy of: Mikey Fastbreak

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Double Cross shirts back in stock

Just wanted to give a quick heads up to everyone that has contacted me within the past two weeks regarding the status of the DCXX shirts. The first batch came and went pretty quickly, so we just had a second batch printed up. That second batch is now in our hands and the DCXX webstore has been updated. For anyone that has already ordered and hasn't received your shirts, they should be shipping this week. To those that were planning on putting an order in, the time is now. All those who order will receive our first DCXX newsletter and of course a sticker or two. Thanks for the support and keep tuning in. -Tim DCXX

Monday, March 29, 2010

Matt Henderson - Part VI, the final entry

Matt with Madball in 1995, Photo courtesy of: Matt Henderson

Here is the sixth and final installment in the massive Matt Henderson interview spanning his time in Blind Approach, AF, and Madball. This has been a really cool piece, be sure to check out the previous installments if you missed them.

MAJOR thanks to Nick Gregoire-Racicot who did this whole interview and was awesome enough to send it all to us. MAJOR thanks to Matt for all the photos, writing great tunes, and just being cool. Enjoy! -Gordo DCXX

Was there any label you wish you would’ve worked with but didn’t happen?

No. I am happy with what we did.

What’s the most important thing you learned while playing in Madball?

It's hard to sum that up to be honest. All I can say is that we were and still are really like family, and being in that band is something that I am definitely proud of.

What was the best/worst thing about playing with Madball?

The best thing was when we played shows where everything really came together. There were a lot of shows where I felt like we were bringing something that really stood out and people appreciated it as much as we did. It was always the smaller clubs too, like the Wetlands in NYC or the Rat in Boston. The place would be packed wall to wall, all of our friends were there with us, it was hot as hell, and everybody was on the same page for those 45 minutes or so (we always played short sets).

The worst thing was when the stress of touring or other life issues would affect us as people and bring the band down. It happened from time to time.

Madball in Europe, 1994, Photo by: Daniel Holsten

I know it’s a weird question but, how important would you say Madball’s legacy is?

I don’t know if it’s a weird question, but it’s a difficult one for me to answer. I can say that I am damn proud of Madball, and I know that we mean something to a lot of people who make up the hardcore scene. I, along with the other members of the band, recognize and genuinely appreciate that but I don’t want to turn it into an ego thing. The people that appreciate Madball probably do so because they relate to us as people, like the sound of the music, and have the same list of favorite bands that we do. But the hardcore scene has a wide range of styles and the band doesn’t appeal to everyone for one reason or another, and that’s cool. I think Madball definitely has their place in “the scene” and that’s that. 

"NYHC"...all the bands you have played with claimed it. Tell us who you remember being THE key NYHC folks at different times (late 80s, early 90s, throughout the 90s and today)-

Well, remember I grew up in St. Paul, MN and that is where I was during the late 80’s when NYHC began to really define itself. Being from the Midwest, the bands that had the biggest impact were AF as the ones that put NYC on the map early on, and then Cro-Mags, WarZone, Murphy’s Law and Sick Of It All. Underdog was another band that made it out to MN that had an impact. There was Youth Of Today, I personally was not a huge fan musically, but they definitely helped put NYHC on the map. Killing Time never made it out to us but ‘Brightside’ was the shit and a huge influence on me later. If you ask the guys who are NYC natives they would include bands like Leeway, Rest In Pieces, and Breakdown, but they didn’t make it out to the Midwest and were not as much of an impact on me.

Once you get into the 90s you have to give props to Biohazard. Everybody knows that they didn’t come from the original CBGB’s matinee scene of the 80s or from the L.E.S., but they paid respect to all of that, took influence from it and did their own thing. In 1990 when their first record was out and I was in AF we would play a lot of shows together. I watched their first headlining show at the Ritz in ’92 and when the chorus to ‘Retribution’ kicked in I thought the floor was going to cave in.

In the mid-90s it was Madball, Crown Of Thornz, 25 Ta Life, Merauder, H20 and Bulldoze. Vision Of Disorder from Long Island and Life Of Agony from Brooklyn definitely did their thing too.

Can’t forget Sheer Terror…Paul is a NYHC institution and they were a great band. He and the band stretch a wide period in NYHC from the 80s thru the 90s.


In 1992, One Voice, Just Look Around and Urban Discipline all came out. It seems like you guys were all boys and the sound was often similar. Was that the case? Give us your opinion on the following:

Biohazard: early days to later on, how did NYHC people see them? Any good stories about them? Favorite record?

We were all friends on one level or another. I mentioned that Craig was real good friends with the SOIA guys, especially Armand, and SOIA and AF toured together a lot when I first joined AF so I got to know them pretty well, and we all hung out at the same places in the city. AF and Biohazard did a lot of shows together in those days and we would hang out at each other’s rehearsal studios, play demos for each other, etc.

The point about Biohazard to keep in mind is that I don’t believe they ever classified themselves as “hardcore." They obviously were influenced by hardcore bands, and their style had hardcore elements to it, either lyrically or musically, but they were always their own thing. Early on when they were opening up for us I watched them play some great shows. If you listen to that first album I don’t think it does those songs justice. On record it didn’t make total sense to me but when I saw them do those songs live it was on. Eventually, more and more people caught on and when they headlined the Ritz, even the haters had to give them some respect after that because they killed it. Later on as they became more popular they were still friends of ours and made sure we all got in to their shows/backstage to chill, etc., and eventually we were opening for them. In my mind they were a band just trying to do their thing.

SOIA: favorite record?

My favorite SOIA record is Scratch The Surface by far. Right when I first heard that record I was really impressed by the production, the songs, everything. I know their first record is “a classic”, but honestly to me it sounds a little rough, as most band’s first records do. Just Look Around was a great record, but when Scratch The Surface came out it sounded like a band that had their shit down.

How do you see NYHC nowadays?

Because I am not in the city anymore it’s a hard call for me to make. AF and Madball still do it right in my opinion. The new Skarhead is slammin’, and a shot out to Setback NYC - they are the real deal for sure, and I know Bulldoze is playing out which is cool. Joey and Freddy have Black-N-Blue, doing shows and the radio thing so it seems like there is plenty going on but for a scene as a whole I can’t really comment because I am not there to experience it.

Matt and Freddy, 1993, Photo courtesy of: Matt Henderson

Who are the most important NYHC bands and why? What are some of the most underrated/overrated NYHC bands and why?

This response is going to be the most important NYHC bands “to me." There is a long list of bands with different styles that came out of NYC but these are the ones that had the most impact on me. First is Agnostic Front. My friends and I were into ‘Victim in Pain’ long before “NYHC” was a ‘thing.' It was just a great hardcore record in the collection, but it always stood out. I remember thinking the songs were amazing with the catchy chorus to the title song, ‘Facist Attitudes’ with the hard breakdown stomp and the slow, evil sounding ‘With Time’ was the shit. Then there was the inside of the record cover with Roger having the tattoo on his neck and the chain around his waist, Stigma with his chest-piece and Kabula wearing the "Skinhead” t-shirt.

And then the Cro-Mags came out and re-inforced the fact that New York had a style that was kicking the shit out of every other scene in the country. I think it wasn’t until WarZone with “Don’t Forget the Struggle, Don’t Forget the Streets” and Youth Of Today’s “Break Down the Walls” when “NYHC” was understood as a real sub-movement in American Hardcore, and by the summer of 1987 EVERYBODY was a skinhead and NYHC was the soundtrack for us.

Killing Time with “Brightside” was the band that added this metallic-groove to the music for me later. That record to me sounds like the city itself.

Finally, I have to throw Madball in there. We lived and breathed New York Hardcore and did our best to represent the good, the bad, and the ugly of it both on record and on stage.

Do you follow any modern HC bands? Anything that catches your ear out there? Things have changed a lot in the last two decades in our little HC world: what are the good/bad things about that?

I’m really not in the loop enough to comment much these days, but the contemporary bands that I dig are Terror and Death Before Dishonor. To me they sound like they have the same hardcore roots that I do but they still sound fresh and current. Trapped Under Ice is doing some cool shit too. I am going to turn 40 in a few months and I have seen a lot of cycles in hardcore and it is hard for me to tell if I’m the one that has changed or if hardcore has changed.

Then, there’s a lot of things that seem the same as they did 23 years ago and maybe some shit needs to change…but what I can tell you is that when I was a 17 year old kid the last thing I wanted to hear was some 40 year old motherfucker telling me what’s right or wrong about hardcore, so I don’t like to throw my opinion around too much. All I can say is if people are in it because they feel this is where they belong as a person and not because they like the way people dress than I’m all for it.

Madball and friends in Argentina, 1994, Photo courtesy of: Matt Henderson

Recording studio/guitar talk...When/how/why did you start doing Atomic Studio and why aren’t you doing it anymore?

When I left Madball I wanted to give recording/producing a try because I really enjoy doing it and saw it as my next move. I was friends with Dean Baltulonis who was in 454 Big Block and was also engineering at Salad Days in Boston and he was looking to get his own thing started so we teamed up. I asked Mike Dijan from Crown Of Thornz/Breakdown to join as well and we opened Atomic in 2000 in Brooklyn, NY. The problem for me was that I was having a really hard time with money and the studio could really only afford to pay one person. Dean was the best engineer by far so he was the guy with the full time position.

Owning a studio is hard because you need to keep business coming in to not only pay for the equipment and the space, but then also pay the people who run it, BUT nobody in hardcore has any fucking money so bands have a hard time paying for shit, and labels give you bullshit excuses and on, and on, and on. In the end I had to work a day job and let it go. Dean is still kicking ass though at Wild Artic in Long Island City, NY. He just did the new Skarhead and Trapped Under Ice and I think they sound amazing.

For the longest time, it looked like you used Jackson guitars…am I wrong? What has been your gear of choice through the many years you have played (amps, guitar, cab)?

Gear of choice, how about “gear I could afford." To be honest my sound was a constant challenge. I will say that the Jackson was a good choice in guitars – I only owned one, and used it from 1992 to 1998 and it’s the only guitar I own today. To me it is the perfect cross between a Strat and a Les Paul. It’s got some weight to it and feels real solid so you can dig into it but its not too clunky, and it's easier to play than a Gibson.

Amps and cabinets were always a hassle for me. I got stuck with the Marshall JCM 900 when I first joined AF because they stopped making the 800s. I had sold all my shit when I went to Boston for school and Roger was picking gear up for me in NY when I joined for the tour. He called me from Sam Ash and said “yo, they don’t make the 800s anymore and they have these 900s. Is that what you want?” I was like “yeah, I guess, it’s Marshall, what the fuck else am I going to get, a Fender combo?" Those amps sounded so shitty and I paid all this money that I didn’t even have yet, had to make it up on the tours, and I was miserable with them. I remember a few years later when I met Beto playing in DMIZE he had the 900 too and we shared our pain. I moved to a Mesa Boogie Mark IV for a minute after that which was cool, but it had inconsistent sound. Some nights it would sound amazing and other nights it sounded dry and weak. In the end the best sound I got was from a first generation Peavy 5150. If I could have afforded Mesa cabinets that would have been my choice because they handle low end much better than Marshalls which always break up and have too much mid, but Mesa cabs cost too much.

Scott and Matt with Blind Approach, 1988, Photo courtesy of: Matt Henderson

Who were your influences as a band and as a guitar player?

I have always been pretty all over the map as far as musical influences, but back then as a guitar player it was Eddie Van Halen, hands-down. I think that people take for granted today what he was doing back then, but I was actually listening to heavy music before “Eruption” came out, and when it did I was a drummer and it made me switch to playing guitar. I took lessons from this guy who used to be able to teach me any song off any record and when I played Eruption for him he was like “that’s gotta be done with a computer or synthesizer or something." I dug other guitarists too, but EVH had the most impact. Later, as far as bands go: Cro-Mags, AF and Metallica were the biggest influences.


Agnostic Front ceiling art in Europe, 1992, Photo courtesy of: Matt Henderson

Also, after writing such quality solos on One Voice, I was always surprised that there wasn’t even one solo on any Madball record. Someone obviously made a conscious decision somewhere about not ever including them. Was the idea to clearly get away from the more metal sound? Did you ever miss it?

It was a conscious decision. I worked very hard to nail those solos on One Voice and I am proud of them, but I think that solos take away from the overall point of the song in hardcore. Solos in music can have soul for sure, listen to John Coltrane or Stevie Ray Vaughn, but they are still a lot about musicianship, and hardcore is more about attitude than musicianship. Madball was trying to deliver impact through Freddy’s lyrics and the rhythm of the music and I think a solo thrown in the middle of that would be a distraction and sound out of place. I do miss playing solos sometimes though and that is why I am going to start a blues band and do Freddie King and Stevie Ray Vaughn cover songs. The band will probably only actually be me playing guitar by myself in the garage but it will kick ass. My boys will dig it too I think.

How do you want people to remember what you wrote?

I guess I’d like it to be remembered as being genuine. I never wrote anything that I myself didn’t want to hear, and I never tried to imitate something that I was not. 

Bandmates/people: say something good/bad/funny/what you remember about the following people:

Roger - Like an older brother to me. I have a lot of respect for him and he always looked out for me.

Will – like a same-age brother. Willy and I have a good time when we are together. Damn good drummer too.

Craig – another same-age brother. I actually lived with him, his mother and brother for a short period of time during the AF days so we are real tight. Gotta give a shot out to the bass playing too. Aside from Sick Of It All he does the Cro-Mags gig with John, AJ and Mackie, and he kills it.

Stigma – You mean the guy that wrote the riffs on Victim In Pain and Ball Of Destruction? Yeah, Stigma deserves a lot of credit for not only helping to establish New York Hardcore music, but for the fact that he was, and still is a big part of the spirit. I lived with him in his apartment in NYC as well for a period of time and he has always been a good friend to me.

Freddie – a heart of gold. I’ll always think of him as my little brother because I first knew him as a younger kid and watched him grow up. The loyalty that he has for his friends and family is amazing. And hands down one of the best front men in hardcore of all time.

Hoya – a great guy all around and another brother. Writes some crazy riffs, and truly one of the funniest people you will ever meet. He can get a whole room going.

Beto – We speak to each other almost everyday to keep each other sane. We are in the same boat as being kids who grew up playing in hardcore bands and that was about all we knew. Now we both work day jobs to take care of our families. You want to talk about “Hardcore Reality?" Support a family of four and cover a mortgage.

Mitts – great musician and great guy. We talk shop a lot about music, gear, bands, etc. I have a lot of respect for him because I know that he genuinely cares about the integrity of Madball and the music they continue to make.

BJ Papas – always has a smile on her face and so nice, even around all of us creeps. Takes great pictures too.

Mike Gitter – Mike’s a good guy. I had a problem with him early on because he did this review of One Voice when it came out and not only did he tear apart the record, he singled me out and blamed me specifically as the “Berklee College of Music Graduate” responsible for the death of hardcore, or some over-dramatic statement like that (note: I was only there for a year and a half when we did that record – didn’t graduate until years later). I can deal with criticism or even people hating my music but he made it seem a little personal and I didn’t understand that. He wound up being our A&R guy for RoadRunner later on and he actually apologized to me which I respected.

Dean – solid as hell as a human being and an amazing engineer/producer. We spent many long days/nights together working on records or managing the studio. He’s done some great sounding records and is on his way to doing more. Plus he is great to work with and probably one of the funniest people I have ever known, next to Hoya Roc.

Ian Larabee - rock solid, no bullshit, and has been a great friend over the years.

Mike Dijan – another rock-solid guy. A true ‘New Yorker’ and a great, great musician.

Rick Ta Life –We go way back and we were boys back in the day. I have not been in touch with him for some time but I wish him well.

A young skinhead Matt with Blind Approach, Photo courtesy of: Matt Henderson

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Poll results for your favorite Youth Brigade

Shawn Stern with Youth Brigade at the Anti Club, Los Angeles CA 1985, Photo: Vincent Ramirez

As usual, another tough poll for me. I think the easy answer here is LA's Youth Brigade because they've got a more impressive resume. For anyone that's watched Another State Of Mind, it's hard to come out of that movie and not be a fan of the Stern brothers' Youth Brigade. Aside from that, "Sound and Fury" is also one hell of an album with classic track after classic track.


As for the DC Youth Brigade, although short lived and a small collection of recordings, the "Possible" EP kicks in about as hard as any record from that era with the killer anthem, "It's About Time That We Had a Change". Really, there's not a bad track on that 7", plus their tracks on the Flex Your Head comp help make up one of the greatest hardcore compilations of all time.

So who did I vote for? I went with LA's Youth Brigade, but I could have just as easily voted for DC's Youth Brigade any given day. -Tim DCXX

LA's Youth Brigade - 148
DC's Youth Brigade - 118


Saturday, March 27, 2010

Weekend Post: Glenn Danzig

Coming off of last weekend's post about Rollins, we figured we'd shoot to get some feedback on another polarizing figure from the world of punk and hardcore - Danzig himself.

EVERYONE has an opinion on Glenn Danzig, but whether it is love, hate, or even disinterest, I can't imagine there is a fan of punk or hardcore who doesn't take interest in at least one of this man's bands or what he has been involved with for over 30 years.

So have at it and comment away - what's your take on the Evil Elvis? Good memory from seeing The Misfits, Samhain, or Danzig? In-person encounter? Favorite band or record of his? Let's kick off the weekend right! -Gordo DCXX


Friday, March 26, 2010

What one hardcore/punk album has stood the test of time for you?

This is another one of those Albums That Stand The Test Of Time entries that is strong enough to stand alone. Chorus Of Disapproval front man, Isaac Golub tells us exactly what Uniform Choice's "Screaming For Change" album means to him. Good stuff, thanks Isaac! -Tim DCXX

The undisputed king for me is Uniform Choice Screaming For Change, and for good measure the demo gets thrown into the fold as well.

I got the demo at a Cuckoo’s Nest show (then called The Concert Factory), along with the multi-colored U.C. Straight And Alert shirt. It’s safe to say I saw every U.C. show in So. Cal, and whenever Dubar said, “This is a new one that’s gonna be on our LP!” I will openly admit I would chub up.

Finally that record was coming out and I called the Pier Records in Huntington Beach that Dubar worked at EVERYDAY and finally he said, “Yup they’re here, c’mon down.” Well come on down was a 2 hour bus ride, but if I was going to buy that thing it was going to be from Pat himself (see attached picture, it was taken on my bus ride to buy the LP).

I rolled in road weary from the bus ride, knowing full well it would seem like 86 hours on the ride home holding that thing. I made my purchase, didn’t dick ride Dubar for too long, and got that slab home as fast as OCTD would allow. My uncle Jeff had a really good turntable so as soon as the needle hit the wax I was bouncing around my living room like a complete nutter.

Isaac en route to pick up the Uniform Choice "Screaming For Change" LP on its release day, Photo courtesy of: Isaac

Everything about that record is perfect, even the imperfections. Drums are way down in some of the mixes (a point Banks loves to rub in my face during heated debates over the demo and LP preference), Pat changed some lyrics/song titles around…minor things. Screaming For Change embodies west coast hardcore to me. Fast, feverish, pent up, loving, and socially conscience. Hearing that record at that pivotal point in my life really sent me on what I consider a very positive path in my life. It came out when I personally needed something big, needed something positive and angry at the same time, and really needed to belong to a feeling besides chicks, beer, bon fires at the beach, and the fucking prom.

Use You Head, Screaming For Change, and In Time are my favorites. I still get that little tickle on the nape of my neck when the line blasts, “Don’t hear a word I’ve said, you better USE…YOUR…HEAAAAD!!!” The influences are obvious: two cups of Minor Threat, a cup and a half of Bad Brains, two peeled and pitted Black Flag’s, and baked in an oven built by 7 Seconds. But you know what? THIS record did it for me.

I could have picked any great number of hardcore or punk LP's to write about, and that may even be considered "better" or more "influential" records, but Screaming For Change repeatedly kicked me in the balls while calling me friend and shouting, “This is for your own fucking good, and you will understand very soon why I have done this to you!”

I now understand. Thank you Pat Dubar, Dave Mellow, Vic Maynez, Pat Longrie, and even Pat Dyson.


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Christine Elise McCarthy on SSD's "The Kids Will Have Their Say"

Christine with Springa, Photo courtesy of: Christine Elise McCarthy

If you were hanging around the Boston hardcore scene in the early 80's, checking out bands like SSD, DYS and Last Rights, chances are that you ran into Christine Elise McCarthy a few times. If you were more like me and graduating from high school in the early 90's and checking out Beverly Hills 90210 every Wednesday night, you were seeing Christine Elise McCarthy playing Emily Valentine on TV. For me, finding out that an actress on a massively popular TV show was straight edge and used to roll with SSD, I thought that was pretty damn cool. Check out what Christine had to say to us about SSD's "The Kids Will Have Their Say". -Tim DCXX

For me - the seminal HC album was SSD's The Kids Will Have Their Say. Police Beat is my favorite song on that album...though I prefer the demo tape version (that I still have on cassette) of that song to the released version.

This album was not only the first hardcore album I ever owned - but also - Jaime Sciarappa was my BFF and Springa was my boyfriend at the time - so I had all levels of pride invested in it. Because I was so invested in this album - I probably know it better than any other of the genre and that might be part of why it endures for me. I was 17 when it came out and, though I had long been involved with the broader punk scene in Boston, there was a real dearth of people my age around. It seemed the kids on the scene and in bars (that required you be 21 for entry) were limited to me & Springa & Boston's now famous author, Michael Patrick MacDonald. So - the hardcore scene & my relationships with Jaime & Springa opened the floodgates & filled my life with kids my age that had similar aesthetics & overlapping taste in music. I cannot overstate how hugely important this was for me at the time.

Christine with Choke, Photo courtesy of: Christine Elise McCarthy

Overnight, I had an entire community of bald headed friends who were, despite their surly appearance, some of the sweetest & most sincere kids I had ever met. Compound the excitement of finally finding a social "network" (for lack of a better term) and the feeling of being accepted & safe (in high school these feelings are VERY valuable) with the undeniable energy & excitement of the live shows - and you might begin to understand what an important period this was in my life. That first SSD album transports me there in seconds.

As a really responsible kid who was straight edge before it became a movement - and as a kid that was very much a mother hen watching out for the well-being of all the kids I felt were in my charge (mainly the boys of SSD, DYS, Negative FX, Last Rites and some others) - the strictness of tone that SSD projected appealed to me, too. The band felt like the perfect combination of punk aesthetics and responsible behavior. This was an intoxicating mix for a maternal, control freak, punk rock high school gal.

So - The Kids Will Have Their Say was the soundtrack to this period of my life. There is a seriousness to the album that sets it apart, I think, from some of the other stuff of the era - but there is a simple advantage to being the first that might be the reason this album still holds up for me. I don't think it is that simple, though. I think the album holds up - because the community it introduced me to has held up. Those boys I befriended then are still my best friends today. The Kids Will Have Their Say is a very sentimental thing for me.


Christine rockin' the Necros sweatshirt, Photo courtesy of: Christine Elise McCarthy

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A day in the life of Rollins Band

In the wake of this past weekend's Rollins entry, I stumbled upon this mini documentary on the Rollins Band that was featured on MTV's Buzzcut in the early 90's. I had never seen it before and thought it was kind of interesting and well worth a post. I also dug up this early live set from the 9:30 Club in DC. This video does a damn good job documenting just how good Rollins Band was, particularly with the line up of Rollins, Chris Haskett on guitar, Andrew Weiss on bass and Sim Cain on drums. Luckily I was able to catch the Rollins Band in their prime between 1987 and the very early 90's and I gotta say, they destroyed every time. Don't get stuck in the wreckage… -Tim DCXX

Monday, March 22, 2010

What one hardcore/punk album has stood the test of time for you?

Jason with Count Me Out, Photo: Christina Garcia

Jason Mazzola - Count Me Out / Cloak & Dagger

Damaged by Black Flag was and will always be the blue print for almost every punk or hardcore band to live up to. Aggressive, honest, raw and as real as it can get. It flows from start to finish perfectly and I don't think I have ever listened to this record and not played it all the way through in the past five years. The cover, the bars, the fist, the glass, Greg Ginn's guitar playing, the anger and sarcasm Rollins has in his voice sound just as fresh today as it did when I first heard it. Everything from the art work to the music is timeless, a classic now and forever even if the TV shows have changed.

Patrick Longrie in Barcelona Spain, 2010, Photo courtesy of: Patrick Longrie

Patrick Longrie - Uniform Choice

Rites of Spring LP gets my vote. It combined the power of hardcore music with vibrant, thought provoking lyrics...." Time heals all wounds they say, but the self-inflicted ones won't just fade away...and in these tides of shifting blame, why are surprised to see your name? " Speaks to me today as clearly as 20 some odd years ago...maybe clearer.

Big Frank with Carry Nation, Photo courtesy of: Frank Harrison

Big Frank Harrison - Carry Nation - Nemisis Records

I am gonna go way old school and say the first Ramones LP. Those songs are timeless to me and of course the first Minor Threat 7" because of lyrical content, hits me just as hard now as when I first heard it.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Billy Rubin - Half Off / Haywire

Billy Rubin with Half Off at Fenders Ballroom, Long Beach CA, Photo courtesy of: Billy Rubin

Orange County pioneer Billy Rubin has contributed some great HC history to DCXX. Somehow, we never got around to actually interviewing him.

The other day, Dan O'Mahony wrote us and said he'd like to interview Billy. Perfect. One OCHC legend picking the brain of another. Get comfortable for this one, it's good stuff. Big thanks to both Billy and Dan. -Gordo DCXX

Half Off at Fenders, photo courtesy of: Billy Rubin

When you and I met in '84 or so you already had a pretty deep knowledge of punk rock even though you were a couple years younger, what got you started on that path?

I’d say that I grew up at the right place in the right time. The kids on my street were experimenting and I was along for the ride. I learned how to ride a skateboard before I learned how to ride a bike. I wanted to shred and needed a sound track. On the intellect side of the equation, I have always been a seeker of knowledge. Punk lyrics were talking about things that provoked me…I had to get to the bottom of it. I remember spending hours in a library trying to figure out what the Byrds/Husker Du were singing about in the song “8 Miles High." If only we had the internet back then.

Later when you became a musician it was obvious you would say whatever was on your mind, but even in your fanzine editor days you covered the bands you wanted and pursued your own agenda and were never a shy guy, you networked like mad before the term even existed. Any insights?

I was really enthusiastic about there being no barriers to entry. Everyone’s opinion counted and anybody could get on stage/publish. I had a lot to talk/write about back then; the fights at shows, the Hitler youth (which was the name of a gang of hooligan rich kids in my neighborhood), straight edge. I remember how cool it was to have a common bond with people all over the country. I could write a letter (send an interview) to Roger from Agnostic Front all the way in NYC and he would actually write me back. This was 1984 for cryin' out loud. There weren’t cell phones or the internet...I used to soap stamps (rub soap on postage stamps so that the post office couldn’t redeem them) so that I could reuse them. It was counter culture. It was cool.

Now counter culture is being an executive at a bank. Having tattoos is normal now. Obviously I have tattoos and am not making commentary on anyone’s lifestyle. What I am trying to say is that the counter culture consisted of thinkers and I found that fascinating.

How did THINK Fanzine come into being and how long did it last?

You might remember how THINK came about better than me. I think that I was inspired by your first issue of S.I.C. Press or Kirk Dominguez's 1st issue of SFTG. It was fun to do. If I am going to be honest about it I have to admit that it was an ego boost too. I only did THINK for a couple years. Once I got into Half Off I felt like it was a conflict of interest to simultaneously be in a band and do a zine.

You grew up in Huntington Harbour, the most affluent part of HB at the time, and a lot of HC kids share similar backgrounds. Why do you think that is?

Very true. In my case it was because I didn’t belong. I only know this because of years of self discovery and the benefit of hindsight. My parents were way out of their league financially and deep down I didn’t feel as good as the other kids. I didn’t have the alligator on my shirt…I had the tiger. I couldn’t be as cool. In the punk scene your coolness was measured by your dedication to your beliefs. I was rebelling.

One of your earliest endeavors was New Beginning Records, started by others in a town 400 miles away and doing bands like Crippled Youth and Underdog, but eventually to become a SoCal operation operated entirely by yourself. Explain the process.

I have sort of addressed this in another DCXX post, but initially I was the errand boy in LA. I think they needed me. As Ray Cappo was phased out of New Beginning, I was phased in. As time went on, I think Bessie and Mike lost interest or maybe I just had more time. In some ways I think I might have hijacked the label away from them too.

I was incredibly enterprising and found a way to get records pressed for free as opposed to paying cash up front. That paved the way for many early west coast labels. Before that it was quite expensive for a teenager to put out records. There were two catalysts for me taking over the label. The Negazione record was one. The color separation for the cover required a lot of communication with various vendors…once again this is back when even long distance calls were expensive. The other catalyst was the Half Off album. Bessie and Mike didn’t think Half Off was ready for an album, but I wouldn’t listen. I did what I wanted. In hindsight, they were right. Half of the album was awfull, but the songs On Your Own, Rain On The Parade, Blood Turns To Water and The Truth would have made a great EP. Instead we put out an unremarkable LP.

Billy and the rest of Haywire leaving for tour, Photo courtesy of: BillyRubin

People like Bessie Oakley formerly of Positive Force (Reno) and Mike Trouchon (New Beginnning) came into your life at roughly the same time as Ray Cappo and our intial connections to the East Coast (whom you introduced me to). What came first, the chicken or the egg?

It all happened in YOT’s tour van while I interviewed them for THINK. Shortly after that Ray and Bessie were at my parent’s house, I was corresponding with Trouchon and before we knew it, you and I were taking trips to Davis and San Francisco. It was an explosive period of time.

If I remember correctly, the Long Beach band Half Off picked you over me to succeed a fella named Tim. What was the proccess and how did you meet those guys?

I interviewed Half Off for THINK and I suspect they felt a loyalty to me for not ignoring them. At the time, OC was cool and Long Beach was not. I didn’t care. I kind of liked that these guys (Half Off) had shitty equipment and no talent as opposed to INSTED who had great equipment, cars and abundant talent yet (besides Kevin and Steve) those guys were not really into the scene. I’m talking about INSTED’s first line up. I don’t mean to piss anyone off, this is just how I remember it. I don’t really know…I loved those guys.

Half Off proceeded along a similar story line to New Beginnings in that it was born elsewhere but came to be thought of first as a Billy Rubin thing. Would you say that makes you a type A personality or would you call it a coincidence? (I go with the former.)

Yeah, I am type A. I am also a loud mouth ego maniac with an inferiority complex. It is a self destructive combination. I will take it over, build it up and then destroy it in a bonfire to keep myself warm. I’ve been plagued by this my entire life.

Your split with what might be called the "youth crew" movement is well documented, probably even online. What's your 2010 perspective on that period? That conflict? Ray? Yourself circa 1987/88?

I have mixed feelings. On one hand, time has shown that I was right. The youth crew movement (as it came to be known) was originally what I fondly called straight edge. Straight edge was a song by Minor Threat that was about drugs and alcohol. That was it. The end.

The youth crew movement was about hooded sweatshirts, sneakers and total intolerance of people that were different. The opposite of punk, and I was always a punk before I was a straight edger. How cool would it have been if the youth crew movement was about rehabilitating drunk kids? Instead, little idiot jocks lied/bragged about knocking beers out of people’s hands. They would even create propaganda showing a guy with a mohawk being beaten up for using drugs.

On the other hand I regret that it consumed so much of my time and effort. My opposition ended up alienating me from the scene that I loved. I gave my enemies control over me. I remember sparring (verbally) with up and comers like Joe Nelson and being totally frustrated. Some of these people were demonizing me, the person that had brought east coast hardcore to Southern California. That sounds egotistical, but I think it is accurate.

1987/1988…Hmm…It would sound condescending to say I outgrew the scene, but I guess that is what happened. My horizons were expanding and the straight edge scene was getting smaller and smaller. I remember when YOT was staying at your house for an eternity…I’d go over to visit you and these sweaty, midget, east coast idiots wouldn’t fucking leave. They seemed so fucking shallow to me.

The Krishna thing seemed liked a personal problem that Ray should have seen a therapist for help with. He was obviously searching (and should have done it in private). I thought it was reckless to preach that shit to young impressionable kids under the same banner as straight edge.

I was really put off by the tough guy image too. At the time, people were putting out records on “Positive Force Records” and then talking about “street justice." How does violence somehow become complimentary to being positive? Who knows…maybe if our next song is about not killing animals it will make us even-steven. To this day I can’t help but be sarcastic about how misguided it was.

Care to explain "No Bald Wall"?

This is funny! There have been a few requests for an explanation…you should answer this. Back in the day, the bouncers at shows would line the front of the stage. They were all bald skinheads. You bought an XXL football jersey and had “No Bald Wall” lettering sewn into the back/shoulders of the jersey so that when you did a stage dive over the bouncers (who’s heads you jumped over) they would read the back of your shirt. It was a protest.

You introduced me to Martin Sprouse from San Diego's Leading Edge zine and MRR, that connection led to some pretty long lasting relationships. How did you two meet?

I wrote about this on DCXX too so I won’t be too repetitive. I also wonder how many people realize how integral Martin was to the hardcore scene or that he was groomed to take over MRR. I met Martin by chance on a family vacation when I was about 15. Like all of the other seemingly chance encounters, this one too led to snail mail correspondence, an interview for THINK and an in at the MRR house.

Martin was like one of the wise elders of the scene and hands down the best graphic artist at the time.

Half Off lasted only a couple years and showed a real change in focus by the Shoot Guns era, not even really addressing scene politics by then. Any thoughts?

Shoot Guns was us not giving a shit anymore. We thought people were totally uptight. We just wanted to have fun.

Haywire pose it up, photo courtesy of: Billy Rubin

Friday, March 19, 2010

Weekend Post: Rollins Style

We are gonna start putting up some weekend content here on DCXX in hopes that people tune in to see what's happening all the time, and not just Monday-Friday.

The idea here is to hopefully spark some sort of discussion in the comments section and maybe the initial post will take on a life of its own.

To kick things off - what else but the topic of Henry Rollins. I started thumbing through Get In The Van after reading it years ago. I always found Rollins, like it or not, to be a polarizing guy. Many love, many hate. I know that Tim and I love all Black Flag material, as well as most of the Rollins Band stuff. And we both love the book.

Leave a comment and tell us what you think. Is he your favorite Flag singer? Thoughts on Rollins Band? What did you think of Get In The Van when you first read it? If you have a story to share, have at it. Who knows, maybe ole' Hank himself will even chime in.

We'll be back again Sunday night. -Gordo DCXX

Skull Crusher, "Blinded By Illusion" 12" EP Pre-Orders Announcement

The boys at Double Cross were generous enough to hand the DCXX reigns over to me tonight for a little announcement: Today marks the launch of pre-orders for Livewire Records' newest release: Skull Crusher, "Blinded By Illusion" 12" EP (300 on Orange / 100 on Clear.) Livewire is distributed exclusively by Revelation Records and Rev will be handling all of the pre-orders. Huge thanks to Tim and Gordo for the opportunity and thanks to you the readers for checking this out! -Ed McKirdy / Livewire Records

Direct from New York City, SKULL CRUSHER has unleashed their debut EP "Blinded By Illusion" on limited colored vinyl on Brooklyn’s own Livewire Records while Netherlands label Reflections Records will release both a CD and colored vinyl version in Europe. With explosive, Linas Garsys full-color cover artwork and a layout that looks like it was ripped from the pages of Thrasher Magazine circa 1986, the entire package (complete with heavyweight colored vinyl) almost makes you forget that there is even music involved here.

Early Sketches of "Skull Crusher Apocalypse" by Linas Garsys

But music there is. Press play below to check out track two "Chasing The Dragon."

Combining elements of overdriven heavy rock, early thrash metal, and timeless 80’s era New York Hardcore, this volatile combination instantly provides the catalyst for a dance floor consumed with controlled rage and unified violence. With deafening vocals, hard beats, massive riffs, and chaotic solos all captured in a brutally big recording, it’s like a head banging scientist’s attempt at mixing CRO-MAGS, old METALLICA, and RAW DEAL — being played by guys that witnessed it all first hand and took extensive notes while gasping for air between mosh parts. As extreme fans of all of the above, both Reflections and Livewire felt that SKULL CRUSHER had an immediate home on their labels, and realized the appeal wouldn’t be limited to a hometown or even home country audience.

With appropriate time spent writing, recording, and solidifying a proper line-up, SKULL CRUSHER is now ready to clock in to a lengthy tenure of playing, touring, and building their unwritten future. But with "Blinded By Illusion" as their foundation for what’s to come, it’s only a matter of “when,” not “if."

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Gordo on Records That Have Stood The Test Of Time

A few people mentioned that they'd like to hear about what records have stood the test of time for both Tim and me. While my time in hardcore is less than Tim's, it's still been 15 years of evaluating and re-evaluating countless records and my accompanying feelings on them.

I came up with three that run the gamut of my tastes in hardcore, in no order. On the whole though, I have to say that the vast majority of classic punk and hardcore records I heard when I was a pre-pubescent pre-teen still remain classics. Perhaps some things from the nineties haven't held up, but it's not like Rock For Light has bummed me out as I've gotten older or anything.

These three have special places in my heart, and I think I actually love them more and more each time I listen to them. I've dissected every aspect of them, and feel like I'm as true a fan as any. I'd love to pose and cite some rare stuff from '79, but at the end of the day, I come back to these. - Gordo DCXX

CRO-MAGS "Age Of Quarrel" - 1986
Total no brainer. Still the eptiome of the perfect fusion of blazing hardcore, punk, and metal created by urban dudes who stockpiled notes from the best and put everything they witnessed first hand coming up into one band that was so potent they had no choice but to self-destruct. When I first heard Age Of Quarrel, it sounded like a wrecking ball of fire being played by grown ass men who knew all about the harsh truth of reality, had mastered their instruments, and could easily hurt me.

Many years later, I have grown up, spent countless hours honing 'musician' skills of my own, and have attempted to build some type of imposing physical presence...and yet I listen to this record and I'm instantly a scared little boy again...a weak amateur...a lightweight. I still can't play all of Mackie's beats, I can't fully grasp the desperation of the lyrics, and I can't pretend to relate to the war zone of a place where this came from - and I don't think that will ever change. In reality, this record describes a world that I am merely visiting as a tourist from the suburbs. But fuck, I can't help it...when We Gotta Know kicks in, all of a sudden I have a full dragon tattoo on my chest, it's 3am, and I'm carrying a cinder block on Avenue D looking for a guy named "Scrillo" who just robbed my boy Chris. You see what I'm saying?

Some prefer the demo rawness. I'll take the LP any day. Everything about this record sounds perfect, flows perfect, and simply is perfect. Hail the Cro-Mags.

YOUTH OF TODAY "Break Down The Walls" - 1987
In terms of Straight Edge Hardcore, this to me is in many respects, the genre at its pinnacle, love or hate it. It's short Italian guys who took SSD, DYS, The Abused, Negative Approach, and Minor Threat, and said "let's do it as best we can...straight edge and in your face, without any apologies." Nobody ever said it was entirely original, but I'm saying it's absolute perfection.

Every YOT record stands the test of time for me, and I easily could have swapped We're Not In The Alone in place of Break Down The Walls. But the rawness of Break Down The Walls - Ray's bombastic growling, Porcell's guitar tone, Drew's spastic but relatively clocked-in drumming, the presence of Richie's attack, Craig's bass lines - it really seems like it's YOT at their most aggressive, their most honest, and their most compelled.

It is X'd fists in the air, Champion sweatshirts with the hoods up, Air Jordan Is, jumping off the drum riser, diving into the crowd, trying to change the world...just a band in top gear with a full tank of gas, eager to build an entire SEHC scene from city to city. This record is the soundtrack to that. I'm the first to admit there are cheesy SEHC records that came from bands after Break Down The Walls...but I can never fault this one.

Ahh yes, the evil B side to the boy scout goodness of the YOT A side. I'll get some shit for this, but I don't care.

To me, the first Danzig LP took the spirit of The Misfits and the heart of Samhain, mixed it with eerie, early Black Sabbath and the darker side of Led Zeppelin and repackaged it with heavy, stark imagery. The recording is plainly ferocious, demanding, and polished, and yet it's also stripped down to a point where it sounds like there's hardly any trickery or excess involved. It's a Rubin-perfected Glenn Danzig with his best vocal performance ever, crooning high-in-the-mix over Christ's sinister, sex-drenched crusher blues riffs, Eerie Von's dark and creepy bass lines, and Chuck Biscuits playing drums while almost standing up, bashing away with raw precision and never-ending power on a minimalist's drumset that sounds ten times bigger than it really is.

I didn't totally "get it" when I was 12. Now I couldn't possibly "get it" any more. In a lot of ways, you could put this record at the center of my own personal music spectrum as the middle point. Punk, hardcore, classic hard rock, early rock 'n roll, blues, metal...Danzig mixes it here so seemlessly and naturally in a way that was/is impossible for others to emulate. And in terms of power, I simply can't listen to it without wanting to bang my head into oblivion.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Anthony Drago - Raw Deal

Anthony Communale with Raw Deal at CBGB, NYC, Photo courtesy of: Drago

In our most recent poll regarding Raw Deal/Killing Time, the 1989 "Brightside" LP, complete with the band name change, squeaked by to take the win over the explosive Raw Deal 1988 demo. Can't say I was expecting that result as my vote went to the demo and I assumed it would win by a landslide, but the Brightside album is no joke. That's a monster LP on every level, and the inclusion of the demo songs re-recorded with more glossy power make it sort of the best of both worlds.

To go along with the poll results is part 1 of our interview with Breakdown/Raw Deal/Killing Time drummer Anthony Drago. Along with Carl Porcaro's ongoing interview, expect all of your NYHC concerns to be addressed in these continuing pieces. Big thanks to Drago and Brian Rocha over at Fresno Media for hooking it up. -Gordo DCXX

Lou Sick Of It All and Anthony at The Garage, Photo courtesy of: Drago

Let's start at the beginning. How did you first discover punk/HC, when and where was this, and what was the initial attraction?

In 1985, I was a 14 year old kid up late watching Rock Palace on TV when I saw the Circle Jerks get up on stage. I was floored by the performance, especially by Chuck Biscuits tearing the living shit out of his drum kit. It looked like he was possessed. I think it was then and there that I decided that I needed to learn how to play like that. I enjoyed the fact that I was into something different than the majority of kids in my school. I had a few friends who were into the same music as me and a lot of others who accepted me regardless of my fucked up taste in music.

What impact did growing up in New York have on the way you viewed music and your ability to seek out underground bands, records, etc.?

I grew up in Westchester and we had two havens for music. Mad Platters record store in Yonkers and the Record Stop in Hartsdale. Tony and Sue ran the Record Stop and me and my friends would stop in there almost daily after school. Tony turned me onto so many great bands. He would make me crazy tape mixes with Bad Brains, Misfits, Black Flag, Minor Threat and the Dead Kennedys. Tony was also the guy who told me about a group of guys from Yonkers who were starting a hardcore band and needed a drummer. I met Carl shortly after in my parent’s garage, where they auditioned me for Breakdown. Less than a year later, I was 16 and we were playing CBGB’s.

Raw Deal demo recording session, Photo courtesy of: Drago

What were early punk/HC shows you saw that left a lasting impression?

There were so many bands I was into and so many shows I was able to make it too. My brother and sister had broken my parents' will long before I came of age. I loved the Cro-Mags, Agnostic Front, Government Issue, Murphy’s Law, Sheer Terror and Leeway. Stand out records I would say are Cause for Alarm, Born To Expire and Crumbsuckers’ Life of Dreams.

Tell us about your music involvement in Breakdown prior to Raw Deal. How did those experiences shape what you wanted to accomplish with Raw Deal?

My time in Breakdown was a lot of fun. I didn’t want to see it end. But when it became an eventuality, I decided to move forward with Carl and Rich as opposed to staying. The way I saw it, Carl and Rich were writing most of the good material for Breakdown and this new band might give me the opportunity to start contributing lyrically. This was something that Jeff wanted to keep all his own. By the time Anthony and Mike joined the band we had already written a few songs that I had written the lyrics for and Anthony was open to the idea. At the time, it was a little frustrating to think that we had to start all over again as a band but when we started playing shows with Anthony, I could tell right away that I had made the right decision. In my opinion, he is one of the best front man in the history of Punk/Hardcore.

Anthony and Carl at The Garage, Photo courtesy of: Drago

How do you recall the Raw Deal songs being written and recorded for the demo?

As I remember, the songs came along rather quickly. We spent a lot of time in my parents' garage in the hopes that we would have enough material to put out a demo fairly soon. My only hopes for the recording of that demo were that people would like it as much as they did the Breakdown demo. We went to the same studio and used the same engineer. We went into it really rehearsed. I think we’ve always been pretty serious when it comes to recording.

Similarly, the Raw Deal demo is a landmark piece of what many refer to as "reality hardcore" - what do you think of that description? Do you feel like the same guys you were in 1988?

I think that the description is accurate. I think it’s got something to do with the music but it also has so much to do with the lyrical content. We’ve always been very negative bastards. Don’t blame us, blame everybody else. I think that we’re basically the same guys we were in 1988 but maybe a little wiser. As you get older you realize that 99% of everything is bullshit and nothing is the “end of the world”, except for maybe the end of the world. In that regard maybe we have become more “positive” in our outlook on life.

Killing Time - "Brightside" LP - 198
Raw Deal
- 1988 Demo - 171

Drago at The Garage, Photo courtesy of: Drago