Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Brotherhood at the original Rev HQ

Brotherhood at Revelation Records HQ, New Haven, Connecticut, May 1989, Photo: Jordan Cooper

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Monday, August 29, 2011

Chain Of Strength at The Yester Year Club

Alex Pain with Chain at the Yester Year Club, Pomona CA, 8/11/1988
I've seen very few, if any, photos pop up from Chain Of Strength's first show at the Yester Years Club in Pomona, California. I know the back cover photo from the "True Till Death" 7" is from this particular show, but other than that, I'm not so sure I've ever seen any others. So when I saw this photo pop up on Facebook the other day, I knew I had to grab it and get it posted up here on DCXX. I'm pretty sure this photo was used in MRR at one point, but I haven't gotten a chance to dig for that to confirm. Either way, cool photo and sort of significant in a way considering it's from their first show. -Tim DCXX

Friday, August 26, 2011

Mouthpiece at This Is Hardcore 2011

Mouthpiece (Full Set) from hate5six on Vimeo.

I've been looking forward to seeing this video pop up by hate5six. I had such a great time during our set, that I was interested in seeing how it all came together on video. These handful of shows that we've been playing with Youth Of Today have been a blast and it's cool that every show gets documented some way or another. Big thanks to all the kids that pushed their way up front and helped make it a show to remember.

I also wanted to take a second here to thank Joe "Hardcore" Mckay for the killer job that he does year in and year out with all his shows in Philly and the This Is Hardcore fest every summer. Joe is just one of those guys that does it right and does it well and he should know that it's much appreciated. With all these fest happening more and more, there's no question that This Is Hardcore stands out as one of the best. So again, thanks Joe, keep up the good work. -Tim DCXX

Mouthpiece at This Is Hardcore, Philadelphia PA, 8/12/2011, Photo: Anne Spina

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Making A Scene


Originally released in 1989 with a scant 79 photos and under 100 pages; this expanded edition brings over 200 photographs as well as reflections from key characters documenting a special time period in one of the most notorious hardcore music scenes in the country.

Making a Scene - New York Hardcore in Photos, Lyrics and Commentary Revisited 1985-1988 captures the energy of the New York hardcore music scene in photographs, lyrics, and comments from those involved in their music, their attitudes, and their lifestyle.

Hardcore is a way of life for thousands of band members and fans all over the world. Here, New York City's hardcore movement is represented in all of its outspoken, opinionated, and often contradictory variety. Participants are shown with friends, spouses, even children, performing, dancing, and hanging out. They also explain in their own words and lyrics to songs what they think hardcore is all about.

From moments of quiet intimacy to the controlled mayhem of live shows, Making a Scene documents in a unique way this flourishing and often misunderstood underground style.

Bri Hurley's photographs have appeared in the Village Voice, Jersey Beat, Teen Punk, and Maximum Rock 'n' Roll. She has also shot album covers and promotional photos for many of New York's hardcore bands


I've seen preliminary layouts for this revised edition of Making A Scene and I can assure you, this updated version is looking great and is jammed packed with a ton of incredible, never-before-seen photos that perfectly document a specific era of New York City Hardcore. Pre-orders are being taken right now, so follow the link at the bottom of this entry and get your order in ASAP.

Check out Chris Daily's commentary, which seems to perfectly sum it all up...


I remember looking through the original edition of this book countless times at See Hear fanzine store on East Seventh Street in New York City in 1989. I am not sure why I didn’t purchase it at the time, but I can speculate it was because I just figured those days would last forever, that every Sunday for the rest of my life I’d be at CBGBs seeing my favorite bands.

While Bri Hurley did document on film her friends and her friend’s bands she also kept a keen eye on the peripheral surroundings, people and bands. In 2011 I finally found her while in search of my next book project. When she said she still had 4 giant binders full of negatives from those days, I knew there was going to be some great unseen photos. I was not expecting to find hundreds of photos of people, just like me and all my friends, hanging out on the sidewalk before and during those Sunday Matinees.

This book is not perfect, it wasn’t in 1989 and it isn’t in 2011. There were so many more people and bands that made up the New York Hardcore scene than are shown on these pages. This book takes a candid glimpse at the New York scene thru the lens of Bri Hurley and while I wish she was there to photograph every band and every bystander, that would have been an impossible task. I just hope this Revisited edition of Making A Scene will spark even the smallest excitement in you that it sparked in me looking at each and every one of the pictures presented here. - Chris Daily
Making A Scene on Facebook


Monday, August 15, 2011

Jules - Side By SIde / Alone In A Crowd 2011 Interview part IX, the final entry

Carl and Jules with Alone In A Crowd at The Anthrax, Photo courtesy of: Jules

With some sadness we bring you the final installment of our interview with Jules from Side By Side / Alone In A Crowd. I strongly urge you to check out the previous installments if you missed anything. You can check the links below.
Part 8
Part 7
Part 6
Part 5
Part 4
Part 3
Part 2
Part 1
Tim and I have gotten to do a lot of cool stuff on DCXX, but this interview and the accompanying charity auction for the people of Japan is not only my favorite thing we've been involved with, but the most meaningful thing we've done with this site in its 3+ year lifetime. Thanks again to those who bid on Jules' records...we brought a significant amount of money to the Japanese Relief Effort. Of course this wouldn't have been possible if it wasn't for Jules selflessly donating all of his own records in the first place.

I also want to say thanks again to Jules for taking the time to do this interview. This guy is total class. He put hours of thought and reflection into this, and treated us (total strangers) like old friends. If you are even a passive fan of his bands and the NYHC scene of the late 80s, then I'm certain you enjoyed this on some level.
He may have walked away from the hardcore scene years ago, but his voice still powers on. -Gordo DCXX


Jules and Lars with Side By Side at The Anthrax, Photo: Boiling Point

By 1989 I was working on passenger vessels in New York Harbor as a deckhand. I hadn’t done very well in high school, and my only educational options at the time were schools with open admissions. I wasn’t hanging out much down on the Lower East Side anymore. Alone In A Crowd was done, and Brian Simmons up in Rhode Island had control of the record sales and distribution.

I don’t know who approached me to do a Side By Side “reunion” show – I want to say it was Sammy. Anyway, there was a big fundraiser for Roger Miret at CB’s at the beginning of '89, and I guess someone got it in their head that Side By Side should get back together for this one event. Roger was a friend, so I had no problem doing the show. I honestly cannot remember the lineup, if we played with Billy or Lars – or if we even had two guitars. We rehearsed once or twice at Sammy’s dad’s warehouse. Sammy was playing a double kick by then.

CB’s was packed for the show, I want to say something like 12 bands played. Side By Side’s set was disappointing, to me at least. First off, the scene had changed. During the show, it was almost like every band had a different crowd and each set would bring an entirely separate group of kids to the pit. In and of itself that’s not that unusual for such a big show. You’re Only Young Once had been out for a while, and I guess a lot more kids traveled to come and see Side By Side. But something was missing – it wasn’t the close-knit scene it had been. I remember talking about vegetarianism at one point, and getting an extremely cold reaction from everybody except the kids right up front. Rather than the (albeit begrudging) tolerance of ‘86-’87, there was palpable animosity between different “cliques.”

Anyway, the set itself was nothing to write home about. I remember Roger being on the side of the stage when we played “Friends.” I went up to him during the chorus, put the mic between us and... nothing, he totally didn’t sing along. It’s not like the words were that hard... I looked at him like “come on, this show is for you, the song is called ‘Friends”... help me out here!” Nothing. That was kind of awkward. Towards the end of the set, we played “Side By Side.” I couldn’t bring myself to do the intro “rant” that I usually did before playing that song. I looked out and didn’t particularly like what I saw, so I kinda quietly said the line “I see people all around me, all with visions of unity, but what I have yet to see is visions turned to reality.” It was a total downer. If I can pinpoint a moment when I “left the scene” – it was there on stage at CB’s – I was done.

Jules with Alone In A Crowd at The Anthrax, Photo courtesy of: Jules

And that, I guess, gets us to the “life after hardcore” part of the routine. As I said before, I put in my time on boats and eventually got a limited license from the Coast Guard. I would work for a few months at a stretch and then go to the City College of New York for a while. I ended up a captain on the Schooner Pioneer out of the South Street Seaport.
Sometime in the early 90’s I bumped into Raybeez down by the Pioneer (I have no idea what he was doing down there). The boat was about to take a trip, so I invited him along. Underway, he started telling me about his time in the Navy and how he wanted to eventually move to St. Thomas. All this time I knew Ray, he never said anything about any of this stuff. He wanted to learn how to sail. So he started volunteering a little on the boat. He kind of freaked the passengers out, with the tattoos and his lack of eyebrows – but Ray was into it, at least for awhile. After he stopped coming down to the boat, I never saw him again. R.I.P.

I eventually transferred to the SUNY Maritime College, a merchant marine academy in the Bronx. Rich Giannone, the drummer for Maximum Penalty, was a cadet there as well. His nickname there was Sarge, because he had been in the Army before enrolling. It was a military school, we were drilled by Marines (who were training to become drill sergeants at the adjacent reserve center), and we shipped out on a training ship for three summers to get sea experience.

On the summer training cruises, every July 4, the ship would be in the middle of the Atlantic, and there would be an open mic “ship’s show.” It could get pretty elaborate – cadets were always bringing amps and drum kits on the ship. So, on my senior cruise, I got a couple of guys to play a few songs with me for the ship’s show. We called the “band” The Buddy#@$%ers (deletions in the original). We opened with Dag Nasty’s “Safe,” then played Van Halen’s “Mean Streets,” and finished with a gag version of “Rock The Casbah.” It was not a hardcore crowd, of course – so we had to tailor our set list – but it was pretty cool singing Dag Nasty over the PA in the middle of the ocean.

When I graduated I worked as an officer on tugboats in New York Harbor and up and down the East Coast – but I was looking for a ship the whole time. I picked up my first ship in Africa – it was a cruise ship being used as a floating college called “semester at sea” (a year or so after I signed off, they filmed a season of “Road Rules” onboard). On that ship I went all over the world – including places like Western Samoa, where I had to repel boarders. The ship was attacked by Samoan transvestites (I’m not kidding -- after that the ship was provided police protection).

Carl, Jules and Lars with Alone In A Crowd at The Anthrax, Photo courtesy of: Jules

After that I worked on other cruise ships, but eventually ended up on Tankers, upon which I sailed 7 or 8 (maybe more) years. I also ended up as a consultant for a major cruise line, which had me living in a shipyard near Venice, Italy for a short period of time. That’s where I met my wife – she was also staying there while the ship was being built. The next thing I know I had moved to Florida, and had a family. I eventually quit sailing because I was tired of being away from my family for months on end, and went to law school. It’s not a career choice I ever dreamed about as a kid, but it seemed like a good idea at the time.

Now I practice maritime law. I have three kids, girl, boy, girl. The two older kids are both drummers. They are all well adjusted, non-punk rock kids – doing well in school (the oldest is going to be a sophomore in college). Totally don’t take after dad. Their success is altogether due to their incredible mother.

During the course of this interview, there was some interest expressed by others in promoting a reunion show, contributing to a book on the scene, and putting out more merchandise. My only response to these suggestions can be: No. A world of no. This interview is it for me. I am happy to have shared what I remember from “back in the day.” But I have no desire to relive it. I was not a musician who lived to play (and keep playing). I am more than happy to turn hardcore over to the new hards. If my music still has any relevance, then kids can cover the songs and make them their own. Then it’s real. Seeing a middle-aged lawyer singing a song he wrote when he was 16 is totally not hardcore, at least not in my eyes.

I always used to say that if Side By Side or Alone In A Crowd made a difference in one person’s life, then it was worth it. The funds raised through the charity auction here at Double Cross will make a difference in many people’s lives.
I don’t think there can be a better testament to positive hardcore – then and now.

A sea bound Jules, Photo courtesy of: Jules

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Livewire / Double Cross shirt collaboration round III


Apparently people seem to like this design, we instantly blew through three dozen of the first colorway, four dozen of the second colorway and we're now on to our third. This time around we've switched it up a little and have gone for a bit of a departure from the first two runs. For version three we went with a vintage navy blue shirt and a faded deep red ink. This run is for four dozen.

Again, these shirt are one-sided, printed with super-soft, vintaged ink (16" across) on a navy blue, premium tri-blend track tee (50% Polyester 25% Cotton 25% Rayon.) The shirts are pre-shrunk, extremely soft, and fit like your favorite 20+ year old tee.

So if you're interested, follow the link below or click on the sidebar ad and get your order in quick before this batch sells out. To anyone that got in an order for the second round of shirts, they will be shipped by the end of this week, so keep an eye on your mail box. And if you were looking for XXL, we've added a few of them again. Thanks. -Tim DCXX

Livewire Double Cross Webstore

Brian and Jeff Nelson with the original Dischord Records shirts, hot off the homemade press. More DCXX shirt inspiration. Photo: Theodore Nelson (from Banned In DC)

Random thoughts: Judge

A still unsettled debate: When Mike says "those drugs are gonna kill you, if I don't get to you first," do you think he's saying "hey friend, you are putting your life at serious risk by partaking in drug activity unless I can help you overcome this problem"...OR, do you think he's saying, "motherfucker, those drugs are gonna kill you, unless I get to you first and kill you with my own bare hands?" When I was younger I was naive and optimistic and thought it was the former. Years later the topic came up and most people said to me, "are you crazy? He's saying he'll kill the guy unless the drugs kill the guy first!" I still want to think the 14 year old version of me is right (I'm a softy) but I'm pretty sure Mike was actually implying malice. -Gordo DCXX

Monday, August 8, 2011

Random thoughts: Rollins

I see later era Black Flag photos and Rollins just looks like total raw power. Genitalia exposing skimpies...check. Longish "I'm headed towards a dark place and this is how I convey it" hair...check. Bare feet...check. Psychological damage...check. Me realizing that compared to this I'm a total poser...check. A couple moons later Rollins would write these underrated Gun In Mouth Blues lyrics:

"You got 'my boss, man, is a bastard and I wanna kill him' blues.
You got 'my boyfriend's a motherfucker...and I wanna cut his balls off and shove 'em right down his throat' blues."

Strangely, I hear that first line as "my bossman's a bastard," and I think the use of "bossman" sounds cooler. Also, interesting and cool that Hank wrote that second line from a female's perspective...or did he? - Gordo DCXX

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Killing Time / Raw Deal poll wrap up

Anthony with Killing Time at W.U.S.T. Hall in DC, Photo: Ken Salerno

It gets a little tricky keeping track of some of the content here at DCXX. In our most recent poll, we asked you which you liked more: Raw Deal's demo, or Killing Time's Brightside LP. Killing Time took the win...but it wasn't until we were about to wrap up the poll and recap it that we realized we actually ran this very same poll in 2010, and it had almost the same results then. So...our blunder, but thanks for voting again if you did. - Gordo DCXX

Killing Time - Brightside LP - 182
Raw Deal - 1988 Demo - 123

And in case you missed our poll wrap up the last time around, here it is again along with some words from Raw Deal/KT drummer Anthony Drago:

Drago DCXX poll wrap up


Friday, August 5, 2011

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Dan O'Mahony on No For An Answer - "It Makes Me Sick"

Dan, John, Casey and Gavin, No For An Answer 2011, Photo: R. Divel

Yesterday I recieved a message from Tim asking if I'd care to toss out a quick write up on the upcoming No For An Answer 7" - 'It Makes Me Sick' due out on TKO records September 16th. I'm always flattered when these guys give me a chance to sound off, so... we ride.

In mid June I recieved a phone call from Mark Rainey of TKO records asking if I'd be interested in doing a spoken word show in the TKO store here in OC. It'd be only my fourth such show in the last two years and my first in a record store so I jumped at it. Within hours Mark was calling again to ask if I had any interesting ways that we could promote both the event and help out the label. I suggested a $1 chapbook, a compilation of the old 411 comp tracks on one ep and a few other so-so ideas. Mark asked if NFAA had any old demos or something along those lines that we could press. Not long after answering to the negative on that one it hit me that Gavin Oglesby and I had always regretted never having committed two particular NFAA tunes to vinyl. It seemed like time to call the old partner in crime.

John and Gavin in the studio,
Photo: R. Divel

Between the NFAA reunion tour in '94 and the Hardcore Reunion benefit to fight cancer, Gavin and I had become well aware of the cynicism that such retro moves can be met with. I mention that because Mark TKO had been clear that we would not be getting paid for the release, would essentially be donating the recording to the label and would receive only a portion of the vinyl produced as compensation. As opposed to how we might have taken this info in the '80s... THAT NEWS CAME AS A HUGE RELIEF! It was in fact the clincher and something that allowed us to move forward with a clear conscience.

The new problem? How does a middle aged band full of fathers and blue collar types pay for a decent recording? Enter Brett Rasmussen (Ignite/Nations Afire). Upon hearing of our situation Brett made a few calls on our behalf and pulled a real rabbit out of his hat. Based upon the goodwill that Nations Afire had built with Sound Playground Studios in Irvine CA, he was able to score NFAA a full day of free recording in pretty damned serious studio. Eternal thanks to Brett!

Casey Jones lays down the beat for NFAA,
Photo: R. Divel

I'm probably giving you too much process and not enough news, so a bit about the record... You Laugh line up aka Casey Jones, John Mastropaolo, Gavin Oglesby and yours truly, vinyl only, and very limited in number as per TKO's wishes (though the exact press count has yet to be determined I believe), 3 songs, 2 old, and one that had been in the works with Gavin for a while but had just made its way to the rest of us during recent history. They are as follows:

Side one:
MAN AGAINST MAN - an OC staple that has seen various incarnations since the original core riff came wafting out of Joe Foster's Les Paul. Unity played a version of it as 'Better Man', Ignite recorded a version with lyrics loosely translated from the NFAA live performance on the Icemen Cometh 7". Now NFAA contributes its studio rendition of our version with the stripped down and direct version of the Man Against Man anti-racism lyrics and a slightly heavier playing style.

Side two:
IT MAKES ME SICK - actually one of NFAA first handful of songs from '87. Every time we've played it since those early years we've wondered why the hell we didn't put it on the You Laugh record. The lyrics were inspired by the shameless support that many in the American south had shown to the political candidacy of former members of the KKK. By pairing this tume with Man against Man I guess this ep becomes our anti-racism ep!

And finally...
IN THE BEGINNING - a new/old tune particularly appropriate now as we grow older, it acknowledges the importance of taking the central message (for me it's tolerance and a values driven existence) of this music out of the club and into the world.

At the end of the day we've been insanely lucky on this one, first in being offered a chance to share this stuff via TKO, next in the charity afforded us via Brett and Sound Playground, and finally because the whole process was seriously fucking fun!!!

Thanks all,
Dan O and NFAA


Monday, August 1, 2011

Mark Holcomb - Undertow part IV

Mark and John with Undertow at the 2009 reunion, Photo: Nathan

At Both Ends was recorded in '93, and the guitar player for Seaweed was the producer? Or the engineer?

Yeah, yeah. We played a bunch of shows with Seaweed, and Clint. Ron from Overkill was their tour manager, so we were all closely kind of connected in this underground scene that was becoming pretty big. And Seaweed used to put us on shows. And I remember one thing I thought was really cool was that Clint used to wear an Undertow shirt on a whole tour with Green Day.


He was like, "You guys are my friends and I want to support your band." That's how Seattle felt - that everybody was trying to help each other out, that there wasn't a big competition. We recorded with him three times. And he hates the Fender M-80 (laughs). He's the one who turned me onto tube amps actually. He was like, "You're out of your mind listening to this fucking . . . it hurts my ears to listen to this shit! Just try . . ." He's was the first person that ever introduced me to the [Mesa Boogie] Dual Rectifier.

Mark and his dreads, Photo: Dave Mandel

Oh okay. So what did you use on At Both Ends?

I ran it through a Marshall and an M-80 simultaneously. And looking back, I don't really like the sound very much. It's way better than the Stalemate 7", but I don't like my guitar, the tones on it I think through all the recordings. We split it through a Marshall [JCM] 800 kind of dry, and then a Fender M-80, and when we tried to blend them together, it just sounded like two totally different tones, and it just didn't work. But the Marshall had more balls.

You had some pretty gnarly dreads back then. Did people hit you up for weed a lot?

No. No. I don't think I ever got offered weed.

Kent McClard told me that when he had dreadlocks in the early 90s, people would ask him for weed, or would think he was selling weed, ALL the time. Cops and people trying to buy it from him.

I'm trying to think of a good story that would apply to that. I dreaded my hair right before we went on tour and then cut it off. I had dreads for maybe six months. The whole first U.S. tour with Sparkmarker, and then I came back. I had a job at a movie theater and quit that job, and just couldn't find work at all. Nobody wanted to give me a job. So I had to cut them. Although they were disgusting. They were the worst dreads I'VE ever seen. (laughter) I think I had two H.R. dreads in the back, but they were flat from sleeping on them. And I had kind of kinky, curly hair, or wavy hair, so the two dreads in the back weren't straight. One looked like a Z. It just happened so fast, because I was so fucking filthy. Everybody in Undertow kind of had their own style of what they liked about hardcore. John was pretty slick, Murph was definitely a tough dude, Demian is a fucking crust punk, and I was somewhere in between. I was more with the Ebullition "I listen to Rites of Spring" emo kid, growing my hair out. So there were definitely four different personalities going on in the band, and my dreads came out of just probably wearing patchouli. At that time it was CK ONE! Yeah, I was just a filthy fuck.

Demian with Undertow

And Undertow was among the first generation of straight edge kids to completely sleeve themselves - get tattoos head to toe, right? I wouldn't say head to toe, but . . .

Yeah. If you had money you got tattooed. I remember before our second tour, everybody in Undertow went and got tattooed, and Murph and John both got "Undertow" tattooed, and I regret not getting that, but I don't know where to put it. And Demian might have gotten his first tattoo. I remember dudes being sleeved in Seattle when I first moved to New York, and it was early on. Dudes were getting shit on their hands. I feel like Seattle is kind of a badass place. I saw it move forward real fast up there. And all my friends started getting sleeved up. That was a little bit after Undertow. Once I joined Shift I had more money, so I was getting like half sleeves, but I never thought I'd go past that. It just progressed.

Run through real quickly all the tours Undertow went on, with what bands, and approximately when they happened.

I guess we consider touring coming down to California for three days, because it was like a 20 hour drive, and we'd come and play four shows. The original tours were Jawbreaker and Samiam, and was without Joel. Different dude singing. You know what? We played the fucking Red Barn with Downcast. And Kent McClard was there. And I think that was the first time we met him. And he was super cool. And then through the next generation, when it was still Joel singing, we came down and played with Unbroken and Strife. I can't remember all the shows, but Unbroken and Strife at Spanky's with Joel in the band. We came down with Joel once, so it must have been John on bass. Then we came down again every Christmas break or spring break. If we had a week off from school, we'd try to come down, so it must have happened like eight or nine times. I remember one time we came down and it was John singing, James on bass, Seth on guitar. There's an image that keeps coming up where Seth is playing a Les Paul at it says, "NO GOD" across his chest. We were all 16 or 17. Those were all California trips. I remember an early trip with Joel singing, we played with Outspoken. We became friends with those guys, so there's a connection there as well. And all those guys seemed to like us. Everybody got along. It was really easy to come down, if we had a break, to get shows with the bigger straight edge bands. And then in '93, Demian had just graduated high school, me and Murph were a year out, and John was a couple more years out. We did a U.S. tour with Sparkmarker for two and a half months. All across the U.S. We booked it all through Maximum Rocknroll. They had done a U.S. tour before, so we kind of piggy backed with them. If it was a straight edge show, we headlined. If it was just a regular show, they headlined. So it was a fair thing.

Undertow 2009 reunion, Photo: Nathan

What vehicle did you use to tour the country?

We were going to put out a record on Overkill Records, and Ron, like he did across the board, bailed at the last minute. And Dave from Excursion was like, "Well, I've got another company backing me, so I can get you 2,000 dollars. Why don't you buy a van for that? And then I will use my personal money to let you guys record." I think we recorded At Both Ends for a thousand bucks. And he's like, "Just take all the money from the label and buy a van." So we had a van. It has no nicknames or anything like that.

Before that, you were driving around in your 98 Oldsmobile, right?

That comes later.

Oh, that's AFTER that?

Yeah. This guy Curtis Pitts had a van, and he was like a hippie, and was like, "Yeah dude, I'll drive wherever, man. I don't give a fuck." So we were like, "We'll give you as much money as we can." It would probably be like 25 bucks. And these people were like, "Yeah, I'll get out of Seattle. Let's go on a road trip." Everybody in Seattle was like that. One trip, we traveled in a truck with a canopy, and I think it was six of us sleeping in the back while two were up front.


Yeah. When we got that van, we did that tour, and it broke down I think once. Six months later, I think we came to California with it once. Strife asked if they could borrow it. Everybody but John went on the road with Strife as roadies, although we didn't carry equipment. We were like, "You can borrow our van. We'll pay for ourselves, but we're not loading equipment. We're not doing anything. We're just along for the ride." I think there was 11 of us in a van.

Outspoken / Undertow group shot, 1990, Photo: Dave Larson

This was '93?

This was Christmas of '93-'94. So we drove out, and they did a tour with Strife/Snapcase/Earth Crisis. And John flew out for four shows, but there was a snow storm, so I think we ended up playing just two. And then our van really had fucking problems. We barely made it back to Seattle. We kept it running, and I think right around the summertime we were supposed to do the tour with Unbroken, and we bought a new van two days before we were supposed to leave. And it broke down in Seattle on the first night.

Oh my god.

And we spent a week at home while Unbroken started traveling east. And we got about seven days into it, and the mechanic is like, "It's shot. It's going to take me another two weeks." So I said, "Fuck it. Let's all get in my car." Undertow and this guy Korri Sabatini (Ben laughs). Fucking douchebag stole money from us on that tour. We all got in my car and drove 55 hours to meet up with Unbroken in Detroit. And actually when we showed up, we were so psyched to fucking be there, and Eric and Rob were almost in a fist fight - yelling at each other, throwing shit at each other. And I remember there being bulletproof glass in the subway. We did everything we could to just get to this fucking place, and we show up, and it's one of the shittiest shows. Just dicey.

This is the same tour where Eric Allen quit Unbroken and took like a hundred buses back to San Diego, or is that a different tour?

Um, I think there was always kind of friction. I don't know if I can speak on Eric, but he always seemed to run kind of hot and cold. And you're in a band, and you're all 19-20, so everybody's running hot and cold, and it's irritating, and it's summer, and it's hot. The show's good, the show's bad. Just a million things going on. Those were fucking awesome times. I think that was the only weird moment. I think they kind of blew their wad that night getting mad at each other, and the rest [of the tour] was cool, but you'd have to ask those guys what their experience was.

When did you record Control? Sometime after that?

Before that tour, we recorded At Both Ends, and didn't even have enough songs for it. So we used some stuff that had been on like comps before. The [first] 7" as well. I think we redid like three songs just because we didn't have enough time. So when we came back we were like, "Wow, we actually have time now to write. Let's just do a 7"." And we committed to like three comps. "So let's write eight songs and do it right." That was probably the best time I feel about being able to write. That was the perfect time. We were at home. Everybody was fucking chill. We wrote songs for Control and then the ones we didn't think turned out well, we gave to comps. But it all kind of moved around once we actually recorded with the dude from Seaweed again.

Undertow at The Ice House in Fullerton (with Tim DCXX caught in a sing along), CA, 1994, Photo: Pete Reilly

What kind of amp and guitar were you using on that?

I was using The Paul and Marshall [JCM] 800, and Dual Rectifier. And so it's a blend of both those. I listen to it now, and sonically, there's still too much overdrive. It's not a warm sound. My amp now, I love it. Just dry right into the mix. No effects. The idea of mixing two amps sounds fucking great. "I've got this fucking amp, I've got this amp." But, sonically I listen to Control, and like, GOD, it still hurts my ears. Too much mid range.

And this was '94?

Yeah. We did the first tour in '93-'94. So maybe this was spring of '95. I guess we wrote the songs after that tour and then recorded in spring of '95, but that seems late.

It had to be '94. Didn't you break up and then get back together, and come down to California to play that Snapcase/Strife/Ignite show?

You know, we recorded before we went on tour with Unbroken. I'm getting my timelines fucked up.

You recorded for Control before you went on tour with Unbroken?

Yeah, because when we did the first U.S. tour, At Both Ends wasn't even out. Let me get this fucking right. Okay, so we did the first U.S. tour, Stalemate hadn't come out. We didn't even have a record to sell. Then we did the next tour, and we had just put out At Both Ends, but there was no distribution. There was nothing. If people had it, we were kind of shocked. We sold out of everything within the first week and we had another five or six weeks to go. So I guess the tour with Unbroken, the Control 7" was about to come out, and Ron from Overkill was like, "I'm not doing the label anymore. You're on your own." I don't even have the 7", I don't think.

Mark with some behind the back Undertow action, Photo: Nathan

Control came out on what label?


Oh, so he put it out, THEN he gave up on the label.

He put it out, and I remember going over to pick up records from him, and he's like, “You know what? I'm not doing the label anymore. Here's your five CD singles." He had screwed us over A LOT. And we just kept coming back. He had put out the Integrity [LP], and was like, "I'm going to do this label again." He put out No Escape. He was like, "I'm going to give you guys 100% of the profit. I'm going to do this label. I just need to get back on the ground. I think you can help me." So the only reason we did it with him was because he was like, "After I recoup, it's 100% Undertow." And then we go to get our copies of the record and he's like, "I'm not doing the label anymore." So we felt like we're totally fucked. We were not good business people. We don't even know if people are going to get the record. Every tour we did, our record was supposed to come out, but didn't. So we just kind of toured on our reputation.

Around this time, you broke up, right? You broke up in late '94, then got back together in '95?

We came back from the Unbroken tour, then did a west coast thing with Mouthpiece. I think everybody was burned out on each other, and we played a show in Seattle where there's . . . by now we're writing songs about not how we hate the scene, but how it's become . . . there was a lot of violence at the show, and we felt responsible for it. A lot of our friends were beating up kids and it just seemed fucking stupid. We were supposed to take a break. This was September or August. And we’re like, "After we do this tour and we play one last show in Seattle, let's not even practice until December. Do NOTHING. Everybody do your own projects." We played this one show, and a lot of kids got beat up. The barrier got broke, bouncers were beating up kids.

This was where?

In Seattle. We played this place that holds like 1,500 kids. We sold it out. It was not what we wanted to do. After that show, instead of saying, "Let's take this break," I said, "I'm done with it. I want to quit." And there was a lot of friction between the band members too. Nothing that has carried on, but we were all really sick of each other, and certain people were carrying weight, certain people weren't carrying weight. There was just friction. So we said, "Let's not do this anymore at all." And then everybody did their own projects, but the band was fucking broken up.

John in the middle of some mayhem, Photo: Nathan