First off, introduce yourself, who you are, where you’re from, how you got into punk/HC and what you’re doing with your life now.
My name is Joseph Kuzemka and I was born and bred in Trenton, NJ.
The path that lead me to hardcore and punk is probably eerily similar to what a lot of other people reading this experienced. I grew up in South Trenton, which wasn’t exactly a hotbed of activity for punk and hardcore. The majority of the local kids were into hip hop, selling drugs and jumping people for their lunch money. None of that ever resonated with me so I kept to my own three/four block radius growing up. Around the age of eleven I became great friends with a kid named Keith, who had an older brother named John. John had a friend named Dave who was heavily into punk, hardcore and metal and I can thank him for introducing me to it all. He would come over to hang out with John regularly and more often then not, he would stroll in with a stack of vinyl under his arm that he just picked up at Record Collector or Princeton Record Exchange. He introduced us to bands like Carnivore, Agnostic Front, Minor Threat, S.O.D., Black Flag, Dayglo Abortions, Circle Jerks, Bad Religion and probably the most influential band I’ve ever heard, The Descendents. I was hooked. I needed to see these bands live and experience first hand what I grew to love about the music.
I lived just a few short miles from the legendary City Gardens but it was in one of the worst parts of Trenton. It sat directly across from Donnelly Homes, which was a notoriously dangerous set of projects within the city. Clearly my parents were freaked by the thought of me going there. It wasn’t until 1988 I made my way to City Gardens for my first show (I definitely lied to my mother about where I was going) to see the Circle Jerks. I still remember the moment I stepped out of the car for the first time like it was yesterday. I looked around and saw what seemed like miles of liberty spikes, Exploited tshirts, Doc Martens and most importantly, a feeling as if I had stumbled upon something that I could truly embrace. For the first time in my life I felt like I was home. After that night, seeing Morris and Hetson shred through songs like Wonderful, Group Sex and Wild in the Streets I was 100% hooked. I couldn’t wait to find out about more shows and get back there.
In 1990, I decided I had a voice that I wanted to be heard, which lead to me releasing the first issue of Coregasm Fanzine. Admittedly, it was really kinda lame but it had interviews with Mouthpiece, Ressurection and featured the very first Bouncing Souls interview and to me, that was awesome. I went on to publish three more issues of Coregasm and interviewed bands like Shelter, Sick of it All, Agnostic Front, and Worlds Collide over the course of three years but it grew stale and I was yearning to do something bigger and better. In 1995, I released the first issue of Nevermore Fanzine, which coincided with the launch of Nevermore Records. The first release from Nevermore Records was the Autumn “Wire Hangers” 7″. I was great friends with those guys and it felt like a natural way to begin the label… release music from a band that I enjoyed on both a musical and personal level. I followed that up with the release of the Tie That Binds Comp which featured bands like Lifetime, Mouthpiece, Floorpunch, I Hate You, Rancor, Despair and more. Over the course of two years I sold nearly 5,000 copies of the comp but the label eventually faded away as more of my attention was focused on school and a budding graphic design career.
These days I work as an Art Director and I run my own freelance graphic design/event marketing/web design company called The Rockhopper Creative. I’m also a founding member, Chairperson and Creative Director of the region’s largest arts/music/entertainment festival called Art All Night – Trenton where we offer artists of all ages and backgrounds to submit one piece of art to be put on display in our 24-hour pop-up art gallery. With over 30 bands playing on two stages and over 940 submitted pieces of artwork, we saw more than 18,000 people visit the event in 2012. I still make it out to shows as often as possible but these days I generally prefer standing in the back… unless, of course, Vision plays. All bets are off when Vision plays.
JOE UP FRONT FOR VISION | PHOTO: KEN SALERNO
How did the idea of the Trenton Punk Rock Flea Market come together and what was the inspiration for it? How long did it take from conception to action?
There were a host of reasons why I wanted to do this. First and foremost, the Philadelphia Punk Rock Flea Market served as inspiration. They have created a much anticipated, cool, unique and well-attended event (that I attend) and I felt that Trenton may be a great place to do something similar. Starting back as far as the legendary City Gardens, the City of Trenton has a storied history of supporting the punk and hardcore music scenes and I essentially consider this an extension of that. Listen, a lot of us collect vinyl, comic books, figurines, toys, old skate gear… you name it. Punk rock, hardcore and collecting go hand in hand. Couple all of that with the fact that Trenton is centrally located between NYC and Philly, the close proximity of the venue to both the Trenton Train Station and Route 1… once I started thinking about it I kinda thought of it as a no-brainer. This could work in this city.
I actually didn’t begin the process until sometime in mid-November. I put it out there to some folks that I was considering doing it and the response was overwhelmingly positive. That weekend I developed the branding, website, postcard, Facebook page and it was off to the races. Within a matter of days several hundred people had “liked” the Facebook page so the word was really getting out there. I’m lucky in that I have a lot of experience running large-scale events so at that point I just went into “marketing” mode and began pushing this to everyone and anyone who would listen. I pounded the pavement and handed out several thousand flyers and posters the past month and I’ve done a few newspaper interviews that have really helped push the event to the general public. The support from the entire punk and hardcore community has been really overwhelming and positive. It’s a great thing.
What can we expect to see at the Trenton Punk Rock Flea Market? Any highlights?
I made it a point to try and vet who was selling what at the flea market. I just didn’t have the stomach for seeing Beanie Babies or other ridiculously mass-produced items at this. I truly wanted an event that would showcase cool, collectible, unique and interesting things and I think we’ve accomplished that. Anyone coming to the Trenton Punk Rock Flea Market can expect to see everything from vintage and handmade clothing, handmade jewelry, punk/hardcore/rock/jazz/blues vinyl and old hardcore tshirts to vintage housewares, handmade crafts, silkscreened shirts and posters, handblown glassware and other unique and collectible items. We’ll have more than 40 vendors with more than 50 tables from Delaware, Philly, and all over Jersey selling items that fit this mold.
One of the things I’ve tried to do is have vendors send me images of some of their items which I then posted on the Facebook page. I figured this would not only promote the event but also hype the vendors who would be selling. One of the cooler images I received was of “post-apocalyptic terrariums” that one vendor will be selling. Also, Randy Ellis (Randy Now), the legendary booker behind the greatest years at City Gardens and the focus of the Riot on the Dancefloor/City Gardens documentary, will also have a table where he’ll be selling old punk and hardcore vinyl, bobbleheads etc. I mean, the guy booked the very first Danzig show ever… in Trenton. That’s aces in my book.
Where and when will this all go down? What can you tell us about the space and the area?
The Trenton Punk Rock Flea Market will be held on Sunday January 27th from 10am till 5pm. The venue is called Artworks, which is an urban art gallery in downtown Trenton and located at 19 Everett Alley (across from the DMV office) in Trenton. Artworks also happens to be the organization I work for to plan and develop Art All Night each year so it felt like a natural fit to do it there. It’s also within a few blocks of the train station (extremely easy access from both Philly and NYC) and right at the foot of the Route 1/Market Street exit so it truly is a centralized, easily accessible location. Also, there is a $3 required donation to enter the flea market but once you get your hand stamped you can come and go as you please. Considering the destruction at the Jersey Shore and how close that hit to home, we’ll be donating all proceeds to the Hurricane Sandy relief/rebuild efforts. The more we bring in, the more we donate.
My goal with putting this together was to not only create a fun and unique event for fans of music, the arts and collectibles but to shed some positive light on a city that is in desperate needs of it right now. Trenton has a tremendous amount of culture and history (for those who don’t know, the George Washington led Battle of Trenton literally turned the tide during the American Revolution. We were also the capital of the United States for a kick ass 54 days back 225 years ago) and by bringing people into the city, a city they may not otherwise venture into, I hope to show them that it’s is more than just a negative headline. It’s a place that is full of history, culture, music and art. You may not always hear about it, but positive things are happening here and I want people to know about that.
Any final comments?
I just wanted to take a moment to thank Tim and the crew at DCXX for the opportunity to spread the word about the TPRFM and their support. I’m of the frame of mind that the supportive nature of the hardcore and punk community is one of its finest commodities and one of the realities that need to continue to make sure it always grows and thrives. I was reminded of that while I’ve been passing out flyers and speaking with people about the event. It became pretty clear, pretty quickly that folks were into this sort of thing… just a little closer to their homes.
Other than that, check us out on Facebook a (facebook.com/trentonpunkrockfleamarket) and come to Trenton on Sunday January 27 from 10am to 5pm and check out the event, enjoy some grub from one of our food trucks that be joining us (carnivorous, vegetarian and quite possibly vegan options will be available) or dig on a cupcake from Confections of a Rock$tar and peruse what I think will be a truly fun, cool, unique and interesting event.