Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Eddie Sutton - Leeway/TRUTHandRIGHTS round IV

Tell us about how Leeway evolved after the release of Born To Expire. How did the band change or grow over the next few records, and what do you think of each album? How had the NYHC scene changed over the course of the band, and where did Leeway continue to fit within that world? Stand out memories during the rest of Leeway?

After Born To Expire was recorded in November of '87, we all know a ton of bands went up there to capture the same strength in sound, but the full-length wasn't released until January of '89. I guess a lot of people who don't know the full history just see the timeline of Leeway and assume we just came out then in '89. By the time that record came out the songs were then 4 to 5 years old.

We had a great run of luck, and that summer we toured the states with the original BAD BRAINS which was, for me an education and life experience to say the least. My first full tour. So many great shows. Doc, Darryl, and Earl put an arm around all of us and brought me on their tour bus for the whole 12 weeks we were out on the road. I'll never forget what they did for me personally let alone the band. I learned so much from them, and they took so much time out to offer us whatever we needed. No band at that time ever did a full tour with them, and it's remained that way.

We toured Europe with them as well, and I saw the complete transition they too went through these past 20+ years doing what they do best. I'm privileged, and grateful for the experience. That whole summer has so many beautiful and wild memories to me I couldn't just pick one at this time.

Now, Desperate Measures was pretty much written by the time Born To Expire came out. We went a bit overboard I guess when it came to some of the songs being incredibly long. Who can dance 5-7 minutes to a song? Hahaha...even though we had that on DM, there were some great songs that helped maintain our strength and credibility.

The scene as a whole started to change. I think people assumed there was a scene after 1990 (that's arguable), but this was a transition period where a lot of bands started to go their own way within the scene. I noticed so many different styles coming out, but the sound still had restrictions, in my opinion.

I always believed HC was a lifestyle of true heart, aggression, passion, and it's the music that brings us all together. I always felt the music needed to evolve as well, and this is why Leeway always tried to expand and do new things musically with each release. I always wrote my stuff for myself first and it was never formulated to target an audience. The fact that it was appreciated is wonderful, but I needed to be true to myself if I was going to offer this to anyone.

I'm not sure at this point if we actually were fitting in anywhere with the direction we went towards after Desperate Measures, but we did our thing, and you can't say we didn't. That's for shit sure. If it didn't satisfy a hardcore purist I guess it is because they weren't willing to open their minds to the fact that hardcore isn't just a sound. It's so much more than that. We still did hard songs, but we also tried to write true compositions and didn't run with the general formula. We didn't get it completely right with Adult Crash, but Open Mouth Kiss proved to me personally that we went the distance as a group. Each release proved that more and more.

When I listen to the music today I am proud. Very proud. It took years for Open Mouth Kiss to be fully appreciated, but it is now, and the fact that all 4 full-lengths brought something new to the game shows where we were at that given moment, good or bad, and it shows growth and progression.

Eddie goes face to face with the City Gardens crowd, Photo: Ken Salerno

A lot of people don't know how or why Leeway came to an end, and what you were up to afterwards. Can you give us a recap? In that time, what were you interested in musically, and were you trying to put anything together?

The first time I broke the band up was in the early part of the millenium. Half ass business assumptions and getting to a show in Philly late where the show got cancelled before we got there was what made me stop then. Same old shit. The others didn't seem to care and skipped off and away to eat. I was travelling into New York from Pittsburgh on weekends after settling down out there, and I just realized it was the same old shit while I watched the Olympic torch go by as it was carried on to Utah for the winter games. It was the holiday season. When they came back I told them I was done.

The reunion in 2006 was more of the same, but we had a great 8 month run. Again it was the same shit where individuals who were sheltered by living with parents their whole lives thought they were above me, and it was obvious we were losing respect for one another. I'm used to being the bad guy in Leeway as if it's all my fault we didn't reach our potential, but decision makers sat on the fence all the time and couldn't pull a trigger when it came to decisions and we lost just as many opportunities that way as well.

In September of '06, our bass player thought it was more important to have his father put a down payment on his condo in the Carolinas after his wife filed for divorce - this happened when we had the opportunity to play the last 5 nights at CBGB's with the original BAD BRAINS and make history. OK, so his wife kicked him out and asked him to leave, but I realized then it was the same old shit and I called it a day for the band for good. Whatever.

I learned about more betrayals over the years. I'm glad I'm in the position to now be with true, honorable men who actually do have my back now with TRUTHandRIGHTS.

Regardless of my demons, we all had a part and role in the demise of this band over the years. I was the one who actually lived and died by Leeway 24/7/365 regardless of what I was going through. I was out in front. For most, when you hear the name Leeway it's my face that pops into mind, like it or not...it is what it is. There are many more wonderful and great times over the bad.

AJ did what he could to try and keep me out of the press over the last 15 years because I was never politically correct. This ain't arena rock...it's hardcore. It's what you expect from a bunch of kids with a limited future who got to travel the world through this music and lifestyle. It kept some of us alive and gave us a chance to be something. It's a priceless gift I would never take for granted...it is what it is, though. Let's keep it real here.

As I said, we lost respect for each other in the end...like a bad marriage, especially me and AJ, over the others. Me and AJ were able to write some incredible songs. We have fans who are much younger than most songs. That shows an impression you cannot deny. We did some great things together, but all things come to an end. I personally will never forget the good times, but we move on in this thing of ours as we do in life.

I'm just a grateful man in all honesty to have even done it, and I now get to do what I always wanted again with another group of players and good men. Let's face it, I'm just lucky to be on the this planet with all the shit I've gone through... just like many others in this music. Life is a challenge for most of us. It's a blessing without a doubt to just be able to do what I do. I am grateful so don't get me wrong here. I'm just being brutally honest. We all have our faults...we all have to look at ourselves in the mirror...we're all just human.

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

How did the Leeway reunion shows come together, and how did that lead towards you putting together TRUTHandRIGHTS? What have you wanted to accomplish with TRUTHandRIGHTS and what can we expect in the coming months? What would you want someone who hasn't heard it to know about the band and sound?

At the time I broke up Leeway for good I was already talking to the members of AGENTS OF MAN about working together, but it didn't start to actually happen until a year later and after I recovered from a broken neck. It took a long time to get my skills back...this is how TRUTHandRIGHTS began to form. We've been at it 3 years. Once DIMI started playing drums for us we really became a group.

We had our live debut in Philly on May 23rd, and then we flew out to Tacoma, Washington to play Rain Fest over the past Memorial Day weekend. We didn't even have a proper release out. That's an achievement in itself. I personally enjoy this new start and paying dues all over. I don't believe in sitting on your ass on your past success like these reunion acts who can't write new shit. I think their outta gas, personally.

We now have a release date for our single EP before we release our full-length in the late fall. It's coming out on SIX FEET UNDER Records this Friday the 13th of August. That's the first night of THIS IS HARDCORE in Philly. We're playing on the last day, Sunday afternoon, and it's our big move for the summer as we now start to play out more. The EP is a limited edition vinyl/single which will be hand-numbered sequentially with surgical marker. It will of course also be available on iTunes as well. I never had the opportunity to put out a 7-inch so it's something new to me. There is a print run of 2010 copies. Two different versions of green vinyl. One more rare than the other for the record collectors.

It's obviously going to be compared to both Leeway and Agents of Man. Other than the Merauder demo, I've only done the one band - plus I have my own style that stands out, so the armchair fantasy players will have their say. Whatever. I think it's a whole new approach for me and for the rest of the musicians collectively. There is no way I'm writing now the way I did before. I'm older, wiser, and can honestly say I'm completely inspired playing with men and not boys who live with their parents. That's the diference here. No stuck up attitudes or self-righteous egos.

Something I always wanted to do...I'm finally getting a chance now after all these years. That's an incredible feeling...a beautiful thing.

One more round? Well, in the words of Judge Mills Lane...let's get it on...

Eddie mugs it up in Philly, Photo: Keith Franco


Anonymous said...

Cool interview, you should have asked him about his heroin addiction and incarnation. I've read interviews in which he speaks about his demons very open.

Anonymous said...

Good read. His ego rivals Harley's.

Anonymous said...

yea, def ask him about his incarnation. oh, ask him about a very personal subject like drug addiction too. i'm sure he'd think that's righteous.

for real dickhead???

Unknown said...

OK, here's what I want to know. For years I watched Eddie perform in a Yankees cap (and sometimes a full uniform). Lately though, any pictures I see of him he's in a Boston cap. As a Boston guy myself I'm not complaining, but what causes a born and bred New Yorker to make this switch?

Anonymous said...

Love Leeway, always have. Seeing them open for GB at the BB Kings reunion and playing 'kingpin' was insane and brought back so many fun memories of me listening to BTE and DM in High School and traveling to NYC to see them play. Glad to hear he's in a happy place and totally sounds like a geniune dude who's definitley paid his dues in life and deserves everything. Happy to give props and can't wait to buy the EP when it hits. I'd also like to hear his perspective about his addictions and how he overcame. I'm sure many people will/can relate. And, what was up with the rumors of him stabbing someone and being in jail?!?

Eddie Sutton Lives and is in ya face said...

From my motuh, once and for all.

I wore the Yankee gear to rep New York back in the day and for that reaon before Yankee caps started to pop up everywhere. I grew up a YAZ fan. Carl Yastrzemski was my idol, and I've followed Bostom since the 70's along with the Mets and Tom Seaver.

My addiction? Been off dope for 15 years now, and I cannot expect everyone to really understand what I went through so....when I did talk about it in the 90's those mags would wouls re-transcribe my words and it made me look bad. I'm in school now, and my goal is to become a substance abuse counselor so I hope it works out and happens while I also make new moves with TRUTHandRIGHTS.

I just got news in the past 24 hours that ZOWIE has passed away from drug-related problems after being clean and sober for years. This is a very sad day at this time losing a comrade in the war and disease that is addiction.

There, said and done for now.....I won't answer anymore questions this way, but you now know a bit more....keep up the QB armchair stuff. I'm always entertained by it.

Eddie Sutton lives.... said...

I also can't really talk about that case in all honesty....I'm sure this interview will add to more questions, but all things come to and end and I'll never be able to satisfy everyone, and that obviously includes the Overkill and Limp Biscuit fans....hahaha

I am what I am, and it is what it is. When the next round of questions come in I'll take it from there, and I'm sure more interviews will come and we'll discuss certain things in a more in-depth way for that moment. I thank everyone for showing the interest, love, and respect all these years. It's a beautiful thing to be a part of and to still be on this planet doing something new when most my age are outta gas. I'm so fortunate and I'll never desecrate such a gift and opportunity.....I'm moving on...

Anonymous said...

Killer interview !

Thanks !