ARCHIVES – more older posts (15)
May 14th, 2012 by Larry

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Parris Mayhew’s Red Bich

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Parris and Rob Buckley having a little fun with the Bich, Photo courtesy of: Parris Mayhew

Jon K. from Pittsburgh, a historian with a serious interest in vintage guitars, hooked us up with a great piece here. He asked Parris Mayhew about his classic BC Rich that he used throughout the Cro-Mags…and got this response from Parris. Big thanks to Jon! -Gordo DCXX


I bought that guitar in 1980. I was 16. I lined up every guitar in Sam Ash, when Sam Ash was a single store on 48th street in NYC and not a Wal-Mart of guitars. Well not every guitar, but I hand picked about 30 guitars and lined them up outside an isolation booth. Then I spent the better part of the day weeding the ones out that just didn’t cut it. I was driving the salesmen crazy.

By the end of the day there were 2. Both Biches. One wood grain and one fire engine red. Not coincidentally, because Dr. Know played a woodgrain Eagle and I had recently seen a picture of Joe Perry on the cover of guitar player magazine with a red Bich. Which was uncharacteristic since Joe was a Les Paul man. So there I was and I just couldn’t see myself with a red guitar, so I picked the woodgrain. I put down a $200 deposit on $1200, thinking I would get a job. But I was a kid and time ran away and after 3 months I had a week to pay it off. I enlisted my grandmother. I explained and she chipped in the significant balance. Thanks Mary.

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Parris with the Cro-Mags at CBGB, NYC, Photo courtesy of: Parris Mayhew

I took it home and blasted for a few days, but noticed I was having trouble keeping it in tune. Initially I thought it must be me, my lack of experience, or new strings…after all this guitar costed $1200, there couldn’t be anything wrong with it. But it was just a lemon. After all, these guitars are made of wood and wood changes and has its own character, and sometimes they just suck.

So 8 days later I went into Sam Ash with my grandmother and the woodgrain Bich and set it down in front of the salesman and said “It won’t stay in tune.” He picked it up, tuned it and strummed a chord very noncommittally and handed it back to me. “It seems ok to me.” I said “I am returning this.” He said “It’s been 8 days, we have a 7 day return policy.” I said “It won’t stay in tune, I am not getting ripped off.” He nastily said “Tough.” My grandmother, white haired and dainty, blasted off “You’re a real creep.”

I had the guitar in my hands. I walked up to a rack of brand new Les Pauls and turned the Bich around and gripped it like a baseball bat. I looked at that asshole and said “You are gonna take this guitar back. Or I’m gonna start smashing guitars and we’ll see how many I can destroy before you can stop me.”

I left the store with a Red Bich, and I have had it ever since. “A guitar is for life.” That is what my father told me when I was a kid. He was right.

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A Parris Mayhew/Cro-Magnum/Bich collage, Photos courtesy of: Parris Mayhew

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Eddie Sutton – Leeway/Truth And Rights Part II

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Truth And Rights, first show at The Barbary in Philadelphia, 5/23/2010, Photo: Traci McMahon

Eddie Sutton returns – expect plenty more… -Gordo DCXX


What records and artists, from any genre, have had the biggest impact on you? What records would you take with you to a deserted island? Where does the influence of punk/HC fit into this?

The artists and records which had an impact on me started as early as the age of 5. Jackson 5, ABC…right away I wanted to be a singer which I started to do right away. I had good taste from the get-go, hahaha. Partially deaf since infancy, I was always able to carry a tune close enough. My Mom’s R&B and songwriting artists had given me a platform to try and sing along with some of the greatest from early on…Al Green, Elvis, Teddy along with Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes…too many to actually name.

My Dad turned me onto the more extreme rock of the time but it wasn’t too influential, but Zeppelin, early Yardbirds, Zombies…Zeppelin carried into my mid-later school years along with the first 3 VH albums, but again so many different sounds. I also listened to Earth, Wind, & Fire, early KISS, Gil Scott-Heron, Steely Dan…then Marley showed me a whole new world like he did for many others. Sugarhill 12 inches. My tastes were all over the place.

No doubt the first time I heard the Bad Brain’ Big Takeover I knew exactly where my interests would lead me. The lifestyle, and calling was…how many have already said this? The Beatles of American Hardcore, which is what HC worldwide is. Punk and New Wave were labeled tags the British and that scrub Seymour Stein coined to make the music sound “more consumer friendly” after the punk phenomenon. American Hardcore is the sound/lifestyle that is worldwide…make no bones about…it has been around long enough now where there are many influential/good bands from all over the world and all of us as a global entity can share this common ground.

The early influence of punk/HC along with my other musical interests stood out loud and proud within this thing of ours. I rarely call it a scene any more which is why I say “this thing of ours”…it’s worldwide. The definition of a scene is a local happening, and some cities, states, countries have it better than others. I believe at this time we desperately need to put an arm around the youth and give them more guidance so they can take it to another level for the better. This thing has been around over 30 years and we need to constantly evolve and grow or we’re gonna be stuck getting bloated and tired like fuckin’ DOO-WOP…I say this a lot to anybody who’ll listen.

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Truth And Rights guitarist Rey Fonseca, Philadelphia, 5/23/2010, Photo: Traci McMahon

The early DIY ethic, the feeing of being comrades in arms in the trenches against authority, the approachable musicians & frontmen made it feel so intimate and personally ours compared to the egotistical industry standards which always tries to market this and gets everything watered down or bastardized. Yet we all are supposed to act like these stadium bands are emperors…hahahaha. The fact that you could go to a show more than once a week early on in NYC gave it such a community feeling which was a true scene to be recognized.

Most NYHC bands were kept down for the first decade since we had very few labels, and they were all about capitalism and exploitation. I don’t care what anyone says about this, but it is the truth. But the bottom line is that NYHC and its scene not only influenced me to no end. Meanwhile, working in dance clubs, early hip-hop made me who I am today…it’s in my genes, in the pit of my stomach, and no one can change me or ever will. I’m so blessed to be a part of such a beautiful thing, and makes me the fabulous disaster I truly am…hahahaha.

The one great push labels gave was it gave bands the opportunity to tour and be heard, bringing it to a whole new level in the late 80s where we grew into a much bigger force. Leeway was very fortunate and lucky to come in at an early time and contribute to the NYHC sound as well as set new standards. We had a larger budget than many, and we had the top promoter guiding us. We worked hard…3 days a week rehearsing, doing demos so we could hear where we were, we had a much more heavy sound, but we also had a work ethic which made many bands understand what it takes to become something strong and full-on. We were threatening danger and we were mainly a threat to out of town headlining bands.

Chris Williamson at least got us to co-bill with big named metal bands and we whipped the shit outta them one-by-one. My psyche and mindset was to be recognized and steal the show every time…that was my job and goal. I knew we had so many in the audience that had our backs and I fed on it. I played the little kid, the original B-Boy starting a fuckin’ forest fire…hahahaha. Do you know how it felt to blow away some toy-assed metal act in front of 2000 people and I’m walking all over their stage props just messing shit up? A whole lotta fun, and giving out self-esteem issues and putting egos in place…hahahaha.

As much as we were used by Profile, and Rock Hotel, we took advantage as well and made big strides with what we had. As I reflect, each time I see a much bigger picture because now there’s fans younger than the songs. This could not have happened without what we were given in opportunity. So many bands ran up to Rhode Island and tried to capture our sound, but few knew that recording is about capturing a moment and perpetuity as well as being tight and cohesive. This is why our songs have withstood the test of time and sound as up to date compared to so many other releases from other prominent bands.

If I was on a deserted island, I wouldn’t need any music..I’d bang out beats and sing while foraging and surviving…how can you even power up your iPod or whatever? Sorry, this question never made logical sense to me.

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Eddie with Truth And Rights in Philadelphia, 5/23/2010, Photo: Traci McMahon

How did the surroundings of NYC color your youth and involvement in underground music? What was NYC like in the early 80s when you were coming up? How, in your eyes, has it changed?

When I first started going to shows, and then breaking night at 15 and going to A7 shows, traveling out of state with Kraut, LES was dark and dangerous and felt like Riker’s Island…hahahaha. Nowadays I feel like it’s some safe, hipster community and it seems like it never existed because everything’s gone. Anyone who grew up in the impoverished areas in NYC 25+ years ago knows that they were some cautious, hard times, and you needed to stay close to your peeps and try to keep your head down. At least this is what I did. I usually took the subway. Once in a blue moon I caught a ride if I was downtown bound.

There were so many clubs to go see bands. It was purely exciting and dangerous at the same time. It truly colored my life and style and taught me how to handle myself in such surroundings. I’m a small man, and I learned right away to not talk shit unless I was prepared to take the smack if it came to it. This is how I was able to be respected along with the fact I was running around all night in my mid teenager years and proved my real commitment to this thing of ours.

I moved to the Lower East Side in ’85. Rent was $350 a month! The old tenements had bathtubs in the kitchen. Me and Doug Holland eventually had a shower head put in. We always had the early HC bands crashing when they were in town. I worked at Palladium and was running around chasing tail from debutantes to heiresses and chicken heads…what’s a growing boy supposed to do? I also was getting well-paid for the games I played with that crowd of coke fiends, freaks, and gullable slobs…hahahaha…great times, great shows, beautiful to be young and burning both ends of that life candle. That was my world within my love for everything and living a HC lifestyle.

Nowadays, everything is so different, again it’s like it never existed. NYC is one of the safest cities in the world with well over 30,000 police officers, but I don’t believe they’ll save us from another inevitable terrorist attack. They’ll stop many, but it’s an impossible task. The clubs suck. I rarely go out because I did what you can’t do in them…it’s all sterile now. It’s like they put a condom on the whole thing! You can’t go back anyway or it shows you’ve never grown, evolved, or moved on…too many sad fuckin’ cases out every night – it’s like they never left that spot since you were there last. I do get to do a ton of fun things, great nights, but most of the time I’d rather stay home than just constantly run around chasing things. I’m better than that, you know?

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Truth And Rights in Philadelphia, 5/23/2010, Photo: Traci McMahon

Give us a rundown of all your musical dabblings pre-Leeway. Did you always know you wanted to be a frontman? Who were people you played and jammed with along the way? How did the color what you wanted to do with Leeway?

I dabbled and tried many things before Leeway. I wrote songs for a quick-quick minute, I sang with Gilligan’s Revenge which became Token Entry. I wrote two of their early sing-alongs, but never took credit. The kid who did their first show is a C.O. now. The show was at A7 and I went up and sang a song as well.

I checked out all these seriously lame, toy-ass rock bands that called themselves metal that wanted to be Rush…hahahaha. This kid Dwayne played synthesizer and the whole look and vibe was a big chunk-bite from Tom Sawyer…hahahaha. So I went down to their basement, and literally, Dwayne’s Mom hands me an APPLICATION!!! I tried so fuckin’ hard not to laugh, but I went through it. It was multiple choice! Hahaha…it was such fuckin’ sketch-comedy, I must write about it someday. They had this list of songs which I wasn’t down with and I bounced in less than 40 minutes if that…hahaha.

These mutts started going to shows later, but that didn’t last long. Dwayne would be all loving it, drunk, but the surrounding mutts with him were so fuckin’ intimidated, it was riotous watching them try to stay close to me thinking I could keep them safe or some shit. ME! As if I’m some muscle from Astoria who could change the world and blanket them…hahahaha. Dwayne was the smallest and the geek of the bunch, but he turned out to have much more character than the hack, so-called musicians he played with. I’m sure they’re holding down some career they don’t want to be in, and either have some wife on their back, or they’re in debt with alimony and/or some other misery. In the end looking at it now, I actually feel sorry for them because they never were enlightened on any capacity or level. Just teenage dreams flushed down the toilet of lost opportunities…

Checking out metal/rock bands to play in happened within the first 6 months of ’82. I wanted to sing in hardcore immediately, but at the same time I felt it needed to be a strict form, which is what so many believe early on so I checked out some metal bands, but they were all about looking good and posing instead of putting your balls on the table and going bang-bang-bang.

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Eddie in Philly, Photo: Nicki Hunter

I started doing Sugarhill Records and rapped over them before Leeway, and it was mainly for the locals and I was having such a great time with it. Just like the fun you get playing HC as a kid. It gave me a lot of confidence, and I was able to work my performer side helping me do what I do working the crowd, and not being way too serious like I’m at the fuckin’ Roxy or have some stupid-ass image. At the time, the Beastie Boys weren’t even doing this yet. Their HC seven inch just had just come out recently.

A lot of underground metal shows were popping up in Astoria. I got to see that ridiculous fool THOR make an ass of himself with like 5 other egomaniacs who couldn’t play for shit. One band, “The NY Outlaws,” even had a fuckin’ comic book! Believe that! Again, all pose, dress, and attitude with no fuckin’ chops or talent whatsoever…hahaha. Thor came out and flexed and bent bars and shit like a Coney Island freak show with his girlfriend/wife doing backup vocals…she was horrible! Couldn’t hear her, she was just whispering outta tune, outta key, she was barely heard or even in the mix, and she wasn’t anything worth looking at…hahaha…that’s one show I’ll never fuckin’ forget.

All of this gave me a head start for when Leeway played with Gilligan’s Revenge. We had been a band with no name, and we had less than 3 weeks to come up with songs. But, I was a bit more together than most wet-behind-the-ears newbies. June 14th, or 15th was the date, 1984. We called ourselves The Unruled…hahahaha. What I do know is we stole the show and caught a quick buzz in NYC. Some great guys were in Gilligan’s Revenge at the time (Anthony C. and Johnny Stig are the 2 that matter to me), and they were an experienced 2+ year band that changed their name to TOKEN ENTRY not too long after that. It took Leeway at least 10-12 more months to start sounding good and get the oppotunities we needed to be recognized, but we had notoriety from the get-go.

I knew where I was going in music for the first time after dreaming about doing it for my whole life. All the boys I jammed with were in their early stages as well as all the GREAT ASTORIA ENERGY & BANDS that helped make NYHC what it is. What a ride it’s been, and I still ain’t fuckin’ done nor is the ride.

I know now I can come off better than ever, and I can. It took 4 years to get my chops back after breaking my neck, and I’m strong and blessed with a new calling in this thing of ours. I want to put an arm around these kids. Now with the men who form TRUTHandRIGHTS…I, WE can do great things, and I know it’s gonna come faster than we anticipated. To be doing this when so many are normally outta gas at this point in life, I feel so fortunate and lucky to have this chance to dance…

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Eddie Sutton at the front of the stage with Truth And Rights, Philadelphia, Photo: Traci McMahon

Monday, June 7, 2010

xxx ALL AGES xxx Film Reunites Boston’s Original Hardcore Punk Bands

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DYS, Jerry’s Kids, Gang Green and FUs To Play Club Lido, Sunday, August 29, 2010

Boston pioneer hardcore punk bands, DYS, Jerry’s Kids, Gang Green and The FUs will perform with New York City’s Antidote and guests for a monumental reunion show at Club Lido in Revere, MA on Sunday, August 29, 2010.

Early eighties bands that spawned myriad influential groups and defined Boston’s unique hardcore movement still strong today, will play the all-ages Gallery East Reunion Show to be featured in the film xxx ALL AGES xxx. Produced by Gallery East in association with Stone Films NYC and the Boston Punk Rock Oral History Project (BPROHP), the film explores the origins and lasting cultural impact of Boston hardcore.

“Gallery East is proud to produce the xxx ALL AGES xxx documentary as acknowledgement of Boston’s contribution to hardcore culture in America,” said Duane Lucia, founder and owner of Gallery East.

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A young Dave Smalley skanks it up Boston style at the Gallery East, Photo: Debbie Dammage

“The Gallery East Reunion is an opportunity for the tribe to reconvene and reconnect,” said Drew Stone, the film’s director and singer of Antidote. “The concert will bridge the past and the present for those who were there back in the day and an introduction to hardcore for a new generation.”

From sound to style, from straight-edge ideology and DIY ethics to crossover metal and politics, DYS, Gang Green, Jerry’s Kids and The FUs cleared a path that many others followed and profited from. The Gallery East Reunion Show represents the culmination of more than a year of filming for the xxx ALL AGES xxx project. Tickets are not yet available as other bands continue to be added to the line up.

“Of all the reunion offers we’ve received over the years, the chance to do it in our home city, in support of old friends, and have it all filmed as a climax to the Boston Hardcore movie was the one we had to say yes to,” said Jonathan Anastas, DYS co-founder and bass player. Added DYS co-founder and singer Dave Smalley, “Duane and Gallery East were very important to our growth as a band. We look forward to bringing it back to Boston.”

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“Jerry’s Kids are scheduled to play the Gallery East Reunion Show and nothing else. If you want to see us, you better come.” said Bob Cenci, singer of Jerry’s Kids. “We promise to make it worth your while.”

Gallery East and xxx ALL AGES xxx
Founded in Boston in 1979 by Duane Lucia and Al Ford, Gallery East showcased young artists and musicians, including original hardcore punks. The Gallery closed its doors in 1983 but re-emerged in 2006 as a driving force that continues to support and organize community events and local artists. In 2010, Duane Lucia and BPROHP founder, Catherine “Katie The Kleening Lady” Goldman, teamed with director Drew Stone of Stone Films NYC to begin filming xxx ALL AGES xxx.

For information about xxx ALL AGES xxx, visit the film’s fan page: www.facebook.com/AllAgesTheFilm

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Boston hardcore graffiti, Photo: Debbie Dammage

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Jonathan Anastas – DYS/SLAPSHOT

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Jonathan and Dave with DYS at the Rat, Boston, Photo: Steve Risteen

DYS. The band name alone gets me psyched. It instantly brings to mind a young pre-Dag Dave Smalley growling and grimacing, moshing across the stage of The Rat, and bassist Jonathan Anastas – big, bold Xs on his hands, controlling the Boston crowd – which contained many of their friends and allies from the Boston Crew.


The “Brotherhood” LP is the epitome of unruly SEHC from the early northeast – a record that would directly impact the following generation of SE bands perhaps more than any other record of its era. From YOT to BOLD to Chain Of Strength to even a little band from Seattle who not so subtly called themselves Brotherhood…DYS to me is the enthusiast’s choice when it comes to the blueprint for early, angry anthems that take an aggressive, “US VERSUS THEM” attitude in regards to keeping your blood clean, your body lean, and your mind sharp (sorry Rollins).

If you watched the American Hardcore movie, you wanted to hear more from Mr. Anastas himself. I know I did, and I’m really psyched to have him on board here. A long time in the making, this interview is probably gonna end up being on of my favorites on the site. Boston, Straight Edge, DYS, Slapshot…dig in. -Gordo DCXX

Where exactly did you grow up, and what were your first musical passions? Did you have an interest in playing music at a young age?

I grew up in the suburbs of Boston. Both on the North Shore and in Cambridge. I spent a good deal of my childhood and teen years going back and forth between the two.

Each of those places colored my views, giving me a very different life experience and outlook than some of the other notable personalities from that era – like Michael McDonald – who grew up in the city proper.

The North Shore mentality – and collective experience – colored much of the original Boston Crew. Al Barile, Jaime Sciarappa, Jake Phelps, Tony Perez, Andy Strachan were all born and raised in various parts of that area. The same level of “struggle to survive” wasn’t there, especially when compared to the characters we’d later encounter in New York City. Our musical expression – because of that – was far more personal, less political. If the UK bands were singing about life on the dole and the NYC bands were singing about life on the streets, we were delving into Straight Edge and peer pressure. Looking back, it even defined our actual sound. Instead of scraping for pawn shop equipment, it seemed more possible to have an actual Les Paul Custom or a full Marshall stack.

That was very different than my Cambridge experience. During the 70s and 80s, Cambridge was defined by a specific brand of Massachusetts liberalism – highly intellectual, influenced by Harvard and MIT, whose footprints dominated the city, colored by an elite world view, yet lived out in a sort of shabby bohemian lifestyle. Our parents and their friends hid their trust funds, were almost ashamed of their own parent’s hard work to achieve the American dream. They spent their lives in experimental group therapy, pushing their children academically, yet abstaining from even the most basic of parenting as they pursued self-absorbed discovery paths and casual drug use.

Classic Boomer hypocrisy defined how the Woodstock generation raised their children. That place and time are – today – most accurately personified in Wes Anderson or Noah Baumbach movies. If we had come home with Dead records and long hair, that level of rebellion would have been embraced, it would have been a shared experience. Instead, we shaved our heads, we lifted weights, we listened to music they couldn’t understand. Deep down, we wanted them to almost be afraid that they had raised fascists. And we wanted them to have to explain that to their friends at the Food Coop.

The first musical passions I can remember as my own – not the memories of my parents’ music – were always heavy guitar-based rock. Kiss, AC/DC and, of course, Aerosmith. You couldn’t be from New England and not love them. They were our home grown heroes. And they didn’t sing about peace or love. I’d still put “Mama’ Kin” in my top 25 favorite songs of all time!

I also had an uncle who was a very well regarded jazz musician. He toured all the time, lived a big lifestyle in Las Vegas, even played with Elvis and Diana Ross. Every time he came home it was exciting. He was funny, outgoing, and always brought presents. From the outside, that life looked pretty appealing. It hard a dark side, but I didn’t realize that until later.

By age 13 or 14, music was pretty much all I thought about, all I wanted to do. I convinced my parents to buy me an inexpensive bass and a Peavey bass stack, took them straight down to the basement and tried to find other people my age with the same passion to figure out this whole music thing.

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Jonathan and Dave take it City To City with DYS, Photo: Steve Risteen

How did punk end up on your radar? Where did that fit at the time along with rock or metal?

The positive sides of Cambridge – and Boston – came from the same place as their downsides. There was the collection of colleges, the intellectual engagement with the larger world, supported radio stations, record stores and other alternative cultures. So, punk sort of seeped in from the sides. You’d see college students wearing bondage pants and band pins. The MIT radio station started playing punk. The Clash played the Harvard Square Theater, the thrift stores started carrying Boy Of London and Vivienne Westwood.

In the record stores, import and impendent sections were added. One song at a time, one record at a time, my tastes and listening habits began to change.

Beyond the sound, which felt as angry and alienated as I did, the big draw was what it was accessible to actually play. I was struggling to learn how to play the more complex riffs on the rock records. I was confused by the multiple layers of tracks that songs of the time had. I wasn’t that good naturally, nor did I want to sit alone and practice enough to really get it. But The Ramones? I think I figured out how to play “Blitzkrieg Bop” the first day I bought it. I already wanted to be a rock star. Now, I might actually be able to do it. So, as crass as it sounds, it’s not that I no longer wanted to be in Def Leppard, I just figured out there was a style of music that could get me there faster.

That said, there was a real personal voice to punk – and hardcore – that rock and metal didn’t offer. There was an anger and an authenticity that spoke to me. There was a release to playing punk and seeing punk shows that was not there in most of the more mainstream music.

But the part that no one really understood – later – as we gravitated back to rock and metal, is that it wasn’t selling out or finding a new direction. It was simply coming home. Now, with the ability to actually play what we heard in our heads.

How did you view – or come to view – a distinction between punk and ‘hardcore’? When did you draw your own lines or begin to gravitate to hardcore specifically?

At first, there was no distinction. It was all too new, the scene was too small, the discovery path too big. In broad strokes, the Clash were hammering the same musical and lyrical beats as early hardcore.

But that changed quickly and deeply.

The divides became many.

The first were simply age and era. Boston’s early punks – in many ways – seemed more like the ages of oour parents than ours. Their values were not even that different – hippies with blue hair. Their scene revolved around bars and bands that sounded arty and experimental. Was an early Talking Heads record any different – really – than the Roxy Music record my parents had at home? In the end, they were all Boomers at heart.

The next divides were politics and approach. Black Flag’s “Damaged,” versus “Sandinista,” – it was slam dancing instead of doing the Pogo, renting halls and sound systems and booking your own alcohol free shows versus waiting for the corrupt bar owners to let you play for drink tickets.

The early punks also hated how fast hardcore grew and spread. All of a sudden, the bands made up of 15 year old kids were headlining shows, making records, getting tours of America, not being satisfied playing the same three places every Saturday night as a background for drinking. The hard work paid off and the resentments grew. It was moving.

SSD’s “How Much Art” was the first shot across the bow, and Choke’s performance – and the riot that followed – at the last Mission Of Burma show was the pirates ramming the British navy (literally and figuratively). All of a sudden, the lines were drawn.

As all of this was happening, I straddled both sides at bit. And struggled. I had an internship at Newbury Comics and Modern Method Records, with Aimee Mann and others who built the original scene we were focused on tearing down. Should I go see their bands? When SSD would throw 1,000 fliers on Newbury Street in front of the store, those were “my friends.” If I played “Pressure Drop” by the Clash, was that leaning into the Jimmy Cliff version the Hippies loved? If my co-workers smoked pot on break, how was that rebelling against the prevailing culture where drug use and alcohol were part of the formula?

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Classic DYS Brotherhood style, Photo courtesy of: Jonathan Anastas

Where did Straight Edge tie into all of this? Had you always been straight edge even without the using the term, or did hearing the phrase actually change your own behavior? Explain the climate of Straight Edge in Boston at that time in the hardcore scene.

Straight Edge was the last piece I needed to feel whole.

More importantly, Straight Edge was the most life changing, youth culture changing and valuable thing to come from hardcore overall – the genre’s greatest cultural contribution.

I’m proud to have helped further, promote and grow Straight Edge. If one kid stopped using after hearing “Brotherhood,” or decided to never start, it was all worth it. If DYS could give one person resolve, like seeing the Teen Idles 7” cover or hearing SSD helped me find my resolve, great!

Prior to the Edge, I had dabbled a bit, giving in to peer pressure, lacking the voice to say “this isn’t for me, this isn’t what I want to do.” Most of the time I faked it. I filled the cup at the house party with 99% OJ and 1% Vodka and left it at that, or dumped 95% of the beer on the ground in the yard. It never felt right for me. Too close to what I saw around me and I didn’t like the loss of control.

The early Media Workshop shows were the first place I heard that view echoed and the first place I had ever been where those ideas were both supported and amplified.

Now, I had the peer set where it was ok to say “no” to drinking and drugs, a whole group of bands and fans who chose awareness over an altered reality, who chose a new form of rebellion over the form that most teens accepted when it was handed to them. You were no longer a bad-ass because you could drink 12 beers. Now you were a bad ass because you didn’t drink at all.

And Boston leaned into Straight Edge with that strong shouldered, contrarian, flinty work ethic that’s part of its history. It felt like the same bloodlines who dumped tea in the harbor, who ran the most highly trained army in the world off our soil, were now at war with the boozy, drug-addled public image of punk specifically, and rock music more broadly.

If Sid Vicious’s last days in the Chelsea hotel defined punk, Al Barile’s creation of a record label, the city’s most defining band, and a whole scene defined what hardcore, Straight Edge and DIY could be.

Again, just like 200 years ago, if DC would start it, Boston would finish it.

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DYS at the Rat, Boston, Photo: Steve Risteen

Tell us what came musically for you before DYS? How did this pave the way for DYS, and what really was the catalyst of DYS’ formation? How did you meet the other guys in the band, and what was the fuel for making it a real thing? What were you hoping to do?

Prior to DYS, I had been in a short-lived band called Decadence. We had one track on the “Boston Not LA” record. We had broken up by the time of its release. But the song, “Slam,” kind of went on to have it’s own little pop cultural arc. I was berated by Fred Schneider of the B-52s for the “…rip your ‘Rock Lobster’ t-shirt” line and MTV used the track to score a long-running promo called “Santa, the man, the myth, the slam dancer” that ran as recently as last year.

Musically, Decadence was a bit of a bridge between punk and hardcore. I wanted to go further. Harder, more focused.

The actual story of the DYS formation has been well told. What might be more interesting is to reinforce is what an important center Al Barile and SSD and the Boston Crew were to the entire movement and my band. Dave Smalley and I had both met through SSD. We were part of the crew that rolled into shows from inside Al’s windowless black van.

The band didn’t really gel and begin to progress until we replaced our original guitar player with Andy Strachan. Andy had been another long-time member of SSD’s road crew, he was another North Shore kid (Marblehead), and it was Al who both suggested to us that he join and suggested to him that an audition might make sense.

So, now you had three like-minded, already connected members, along with an incredibly talented drummer, Dave Collins.

Things were starting to get interesting…

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Saturday flyer post

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Anyone out there have any material by the band Double Cross that played this show? I’ve heard of them for years, but have never heard a note. If you have something by them or have any further information about them, get in touch. Thanks and have a hell of a weekend. -Tim DCXX

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Eddie Sutton – Leeway/TRUTHandRIGHTS

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No, we’re not trying to make your brain implode with NYHC madness. It just so happens that we have been trying to catch up with Eddie Sutton, and as his new band Truth And Rights has launched, there hasn’t been a better time to get him on DCXX. We welcome Eddie and hope to be hearing much more from him about everything…pre-Leeway to Leeway and beyond. -Gordo DCXX

First, tell us what we should know about Truth And Rights, what you are looking to do, and what we should expect? How does it feel to be up on stage again? Where do you think the band will fit within the landscape of aggressive music (is it a concern?)?

TRUTHandRIGHTS has been working at it for a few years now, but just recently we have revealed ourselves with songs on myspace ( www.myspace.com/TRUTHnRIGHTS ) so people can familiarize themselves with our material. Once our drummer, DIMI came into the fold last fall things started to click and move fast creatively. We now are playing out and since the recordings are beyond expectations we plan a limited vinyl/single release before we release our full-length this fall.

I broke my neck 4 years ago right after I broke Leeway up for the second, final time….I worked real hard at getting my chops, skills, and talents back, and I fully believe I’m doing my best songs/material ever! I feel like I’m 20 again playing up there onstage like it’s all new to me…

TRUTHandRIGHTS is not a LEEWAY V2.0 or some hybrid mixed with the original string musicians of AGENTS OF MAN. Granted this is where we came from, but you’re selling us short if you are thinking this way. In the aggressive sound we play we’ll hold our own and stand out….I’m sure of this.

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What led to you wanting to get on the mic with a band again? How did the Leeway shows from a few years ago impact this decision? What do you enjoy most about being on stage as the frontman?

When Leeway did the reunion thing in ’06 I told AJ I intended to play out solo and get a line up behind me to do Leeway songs we never did. Now I have been planning THE EDDIE LEEWAY SHOW and we’ll start playing shows in the Northeast this summer.

I always wanted to do something else musically since the 80s but it never happened. You’ll fnd a lot of boys/men say/promise to do a project or some commitment, but they sober up the next day and actually forget your conversations 95% of the time, but this does’nt mean everybody is like this. You just have to sort through the stand-up, true musicians from the other fools who have minimal skills to reall make something special…

What I enjoy most about being a singer/frontman in this thing of ours is how people react physically and mentally. To see people dancing hard and singing along to my lyrics has such a special appeal and attraction for me. If I’m in a large room I can see hundreds of kids rockin’ moves and fighting for space and it’s a big rush for me. It’s one of many reasons why I worked so hard to get my voice/talents back so I can go at it with something fresh/brand new and go bang-bang-bang.

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Going back to the beginning – tell everyone about where exactly you grew up and what types of music and influences you were exposed to early on? How did you gain exposure to punk/HC and where did punk/HC fit into NYC at that time? What other types of music were you digging, and how did those styles interplay in the pre-Leeway days?

Since I was a child I always listened to many different styles/forms of music. I grew up listening to a ton of R&B from my Mom, rock through my father, and jazz/big band from my grandparents. I listened to other sounds with friends during my school years, and always wanted to be in a band since I was 5 years-old when I first heard The Jackson 5 (Mom’s got ABC as my very first record).

While getting into hardcore in the fall/winter of 1980 I already had peeped what the english labelled “punk” and what the industry tagged as “new wave,” but I listened and followed early rap and metal. I was doing raps locally two years before I even joined Leeway, and with hardcore becoming my lifestyle, Leeway as a group was able to use it all and blend it into a creamy Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup with so much flavor.

I’m very fortunate for all the opportunities I’ve received breaking ground and being a part of this lifestyle. Leeway helped set the standard to the modern sound of hardcore today.

I always looked at hardcore as a lifestyle and not as a sound. Right off the bat you limit yourself creatively. I always made my music for myself first, and if an audience appreciated it was a beautiful. The fact that I was a part of this from close to its inception I was able to have a fortunate opportunity to establish a style all my own, and I had solid musicians who made it so easy for me to do my thing. I think too many guys in bands do not appreciate the fact that without an audience you are nothing….

I got to be the original B-boy from the NYHC scene when there really was a scene. There are things no one can take from me regarding the history of American hardcore which is what it really is worldwide…make no bones about it.

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Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Harley Flanagan Part III

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Classic Age Of Quarrel era Cro-Mags hangin’ back stage at CBGB, NYC

It’s funny, people talk so much shit both for and against Harley, but the bottom line is that he gets people talking and he’s not afraid to speak his mind. The guy has been there, he’s done it, he’s walked the walk and talked the talk. He holds nothing back and you have to respect him for that. We here at DCXX appreciate Harley taking his time to answer our questions and it’s obvious by the sheer amount of page views that people want to read what he has to say. “Those of us who’ve seen the way must stand and fight for a brighter day”… -Tim DCXX

You played a big part in getting the word out on Krishna Consciousness with the Cro-Mags in the 80s. What did you think of bands like Shelter and 108 who really made this even bigger in the hardcore scene in the 90s?

Well, I saw Prabhupada when I was a kid more then once. I was at the 2nd Avenue preaching center when he was there, I was at Ratha Yatra, and that’s kind of a big deal if you’re into Krishna consciousness. I don’t think any of he bands you mention did.

Having been there from the punk days back in the 70s all the way through the 80s and 90s and having seen it go through its changes, I hate to say it but 90′s hardcore was just a bite of the 80′s shit.

As far as I was concerned, it just turned into another bandwagon thing like everything else on the NY scene. It was kinda funny, but I mean look, anything that promotes vegetarianism and spirituality and Krishna consciousness or God consciousness or whatever is a good thing so more power to them and God Bless ‘em. I think Ray Cappo is a nice guy and all of them are, but the way it looked to me at the time was that it was the flavor of the week, it was just more NYHC follow-the-leader shit, that’s the NYHC way, right? But at least some people took to it and to those that it had a lasting impact on, good for them, at least that trend had some good results, a lot of people went vegetarian so it was a good thing I guess.

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Harley with The Mags in Rhode Island, Photo: Jessica Gorman

But you gotta hear these stories – it’s funny, when I first got into it I still had one foot kinda stuck in the streets you know, and some fools thought I was getting soft. They used to call me and my bros the “Krishna Skins,” we always thought that shit was funny, the guys I hung with and roadied for the Cro-Mags were ex-skinheads, street fighters, some of them were black belts. It was hysterical.

A few people tested us and we actually put quite a bunch of people in the hospital over a period of time. New jack skinheads and shit would come in on the weekends and try to flex on us and shit. I was just getting over years of being a skinhead and years of street fighting and all that shit, so I still had a hard edge to me even though I was a vegetarian and getting into all that stuff. I grew up on the LES fighting crazy Puerto Ricans and shit everyday, and all of a sudden you had all these new jack skinhead white boys and shit trying to be hard.

There was a few incidents like this. One time I busted this big skinhead’s ass. I think his name was JP and I knocked out like 8 of his teeth and took his boots ’cause he was talking shit. Another time there was a major brawl at CB’s and one guy wound up in a coma or some shit, it was a bad scene. There were several major brawls on Avenue A, but we always came out on top. Anyway…shit happens.

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Now you got all these pseudo militant Veg Edge pissed off angry vegan bands – that shit is fucking hilarious but whatever. For me it was all part of a learning process. I mean I’m still vegetarian and I still think killing animals is wrong and so on, but it’s cool that those bands kept that going.

The one obvious difference between way back in the day and now days is back then we didn’t have the internet and shit like that, so now word travels faster and shit is able to spread quicker. Back then you really had to know what was up, you had to go and find out for yourself. Now you can google it, or even better Wikipedia it so you can make sure to get all your facts wrong.

Now people can try to re-write history simply based on the fact that there’s this whole online cyber world and dummies sitting there clacking away on keyboards, and most of the old heads ain’t around no more to set the record straight – or they are too old and burnt to be up on all this online crap. The ones who are around, the few from like the late 80s or whatever, even some of them are changing the truth now to try to make themselves look more historically important or something. I don’t know, I think the whole shit is laughable at his point ’cause we’re all going to be dead anyway. But I have some great stories and a lot of funny shit.

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More Cro-Mags back stage at CBGB, NYC

Of all your tattoos, which is the most meaningful? Do you regret any of them? What do you think of today’s tattoo culture?

Well they are all slowly starting to turn into one big tattoo. The three most meaningful, probably the devil grabbing the world on my chest. I got it when I turned 15, just ’cause it symbolizes everything that’s going on in the world. It’s like the devil is taking it, and my back which is me and my woman, it’s like an end of the world type scene with the nuclear explosion, the city burning, Jesus and the thieves on the cross in the distance and I’m giving the reaper the finger as if to say “Yeah FUCK YOU!” And also has the number 18, as both of my sons were born on the 18th.

As far as any that I regret, of course.

With tattoos today, the difference is that back in the day it was a subculture thing, it meant something, everyone on the street didn’t have them. They weren’t legal to do in NYC so you had to be somewhat beneath the law to even know were to get them. Outlaws, criminals, bikers and shit had them…people who were not part of main stream society. Sailors and military people got them when traveling, it was like you had to live life to earn them you know? See the world or something, or people got them when they were locked up, jail house shit, they signified different things. I mean tattoo culture is or was deep, all that old Yakuza stuff and all the old tribal stuff, warrior shit. Now secretaries have them, what can I tell you? Times have changed.


I started getting them when I was 14 or 15, homemade shit. I got my first real one from Bob Roberts around my 14th or 15th birthday when he was on 23 and 3rd.

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Harley with the Cro-Mags, Photo: Jessica Gorman

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Harley Flanagan returns

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Harley with the Cro-Mags at Fenders, Long Beach CA, 1987, Photo: KRK Dominguez

Love or hate it, Harley is back and we are happy to have him on board with us. Buckle up again and expect more where this came from.. -Gordo DCXX


Who was a great underrated band from the early HC scene?

Well as far as NY bands, I gotta give a shout to the influence of The Mob, Reagan Youth, Heart Attack, and Urban Waste. There was a few, I don’t know if you could call them “hardcore” bands by definition back then, it was punk rock. Also, obviously I’d give a shout out to Agnostic Front and Kraut and so on.

But all of that didn’t really didn’t happen until after the Bad Brains came to town, and I don’t think people will ever fully appreciate the Bad Brains. No matter how much props people give them…to have been there back in the day and seen it was something that cannot really be described. They were like the fastest, tightest, most explosive punk band in the world. When I first knew them, they weren’t hardcore, they weren’t rastas, they were punk rockers, and they were the most intense thing ever.

There were a lot of great bands that I think laid down the foundation for what is happening today and ever since then. Circle Jerks, Black Flag, Minor Threat, Negative Approach. Even bands like Flipper were great, Suicidal Tendencies were great – there was a lot of great shit, and it all meshed together. As far as shows, one stand out show was the Bad Brains with Discharge, Circle Jerks, Bad Religion, and The Farts who were Duff from Guns ‘N Roses’ old punk band. That was at the Santa Monica Civic Center. But man those early 80′s shows were great at A7 and CGBG’s.

I think by the late 80s it started to get a little repetitive. Gentrification was in full effect and the LES was getting safer and safer – and duller and duller. At that point the shows were kind of full of clones. At best it was an imitation of something, not a continuation or a progression of it – just a bad copy. The only thing it really did I gotta say is that it kept it sorta going for a little while although even if in a watered down kinda way. But hey, at least the kids were having fun. Bands like Minor Threat for example, forget about straight edge and everything else for a minute, I mean east coast hardcore would not sound the way it did or does if it wasn’t for them and Negative Approach.

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Harley and Doug Holland, Best Wishes era Cro-Mags, Photo: KRK Dominguez

I was lucky to be a part of all of that and friends with all of those guys, and I don’t know whether people today like them or not, but Black Flag, Circle Jerks, Fear…shit, when they rolled through town we all learned a lot from them. That was the real shit, when punk started making the switch. D.O.A is another. Also bands like Faith and Void, oh my God Bubba Dupree, great guitarist, sick band live, high energy, chaos, great shows, the speed of the music, the explosiveness. The energy that some of these bands had live, even the sloppy crazy shit. That original Circle Jerks line up with Lucky on drums, Roger on bass, Greg and Keith…holy shit they were tight as shit!

Black Flag was total mayhem, noise, chaos and just an explosion from the beginning of one song to the next. You can watch all the old videos and dvds of all that old shit you want, but it will never do it the justice of being there or give you the feeling of seeing it and witnessing it. At the time, you knew it was something new, it was explosive even with what ever sloppiness and rawness there was – it didn’t matter, it was real and it wasn’t a copy of something. The energy was real, there was something pure about it, and you knew you were seeing something new.

I’m leaving out a lot of bands, there were so many from the east coast the west coast and in between. The Adolescents and so many others like Code Of Honor. I mean there was so many great band all across the country and even all the pre-HC stuff that led up to it like The Avengers, The Germs…all great shit.

In NY back then in the late 70′s shit was a little more “artsy,” Contortions, James Chance, Suicide…all kinds of weird shit. I mean we had all the old punk shit like The Dolls and Dead Boys and bands like The Blessed and shit, but really it was after the Bad Brains and all west coast bands and DC bands started rolling through, that’s when our HC scene kind of started to get it together. It was a lot of The Stimulators and Bad Brains fans and shit that started turning into that first wave of NY hardcore kids. Ask Jimmy, kids like Robby Krytcrash and bands like the Beastie Boys were still hanging out but had not yet formed, at that point I was like “Yo I’m quitting The Stimulators and I’m starting some new shit.” The west coast stuff and DC stuff was a little more ahead of the times – it was faster and it took NY a while to catch up, by ’79 our scene was jumping and by 1980, 1981, 1982 NYHC was in full swing.

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Harley brings it down with the Mags in California, Photo: KRK
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I mean to me the only real similarity now is the look, and some of these kids still like all the old stuff and bands like Cro-Mags etc., so you still hear some of those riffs in there here and there, now they are just tuned down. But there has been 20-30 years of what we were doing to build on top of it and add on to it or copy it – it’s not like it’s something new or underground anymore or breaking new ground. Now you can just look it up on google it order it, go by it at the mall, copy it, get some tattoos…but back then, that was all first generation shit.

By the time we came out with the Age Of Quarrel LP people really just started totally cloning each other at least in NY anyway, it was almost like they didn’t really know how to be a part of the scene without just copying each other. I mean even before AOQ it got to a point were you’d see all these new kids biting peoples’ moves on the dance floor and biting peoples’ looks. All of a sudden you had like 5-10 John Watson clones with his hair, his look, dancing like him and like 5-10 Jimmy clones doing the same thing, and 5-10 clones of me on the dance floor. Shit got corny kinda quick, and that was kind of like the end of the first era of NYHC or the end of the golden age of hardcore.

I mean there have been some great bands since then, bands like SOIA kept it going. I mean, SOIA, Biohazard and Madball are probably three of the best bands that come to mind to come out of NY since the old days, they put on a great show, they’re tight as hell and I always enjoyed seeing them play. Leeway was good when they came out, there were some great songs on Born To Expire.

There was a few good bands here and there, and a few stand out cats – people like Djinji Brown from Absolution was a good front man. Over the years there has been some decent players here and there and a few stand out characters. I mean Joe Affe is a great guitarist, Jay Vento, Jorge from Merauder is one of the best singers to come out of NYHC. But all in all, it was few and far between, there hasn’t really been too many bands over the last 20 years that have impressed me very much. It just seemed like shit was just more creative and less homogenized back in the day, there were more characters and less clones, there’s always a few every generation, it just seems like less, or less genuine, I don’t know.

Hardcore was started by kids who were into punk rock and other shit before there was hardcore. It wasn’t started by hardcore kids because hardcore didn’t exist yet, it was brand new. Now hardcore kids base their stuff on other “hardcore” stuff that already exists, so it gets a little generic at times – it’s like a copy of a copy with a slight twist here and there.

I hate the Grateful Dead, but I’ll compare it to people getting into the Grateful Dead AFTER Jerry died. It’s funny, it’s like people just discovering The Sex Pistols or something and thinking punk rock is something new like Blink 182 or whatever the fuck or discovering Green Day and not knowing who The Sex Pistols are. The smart ones who get over are the ones who know how to bite the good shit and hype themselves up like they are doing some new shit when it’s all really just a bite and then they go out and get paid.

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Harley and Doug with the Cro-Mags at Fenders, Photo: KRK Dominguez

Monday, May 31, 2010

Poison Idea – Kings Of Punk

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A band that we have yet to talk about here on DCXX, but by no means not because of a lack of respect, Portland, Oregon’s Poison Idea. Consistently delivering a furious blast of punk/hardcore and forever ticking like the Energizer bunny, these guys simply do nothing but destroy. My introduction came sometime in 1986 from the “Kings Of Punk” LP and I gotta say, at the time it was a brand of punk that up until then I knew very little about. The cover image alone of the Poison Idea carved in chest and razor in hand quickly told me that this was no easy on the ears, parent friendly Agent Orange type punk. Once I finally threw on the record, my initial thoughts were confirmed, these guys didn’t fuck around. The next album of theirs that I got my hands on was 1987′s “War All The Time”, again another full scale onslaught trapped on vinyl. These guys took that early 80′s southern California, Germs style and created something all their own and has really never been reproduced. If you’ve passed over Poison Idea, don’t continue the disservice, track yourself down some of their material and do it asap. RIP Pig Champion… -Tim DCXX

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Poison Idea at City Gardens, Trenton, NJ, Photo: Ken Salerno

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Jerry A of Poison Idea with some shenanigans at City Gardens, Trenton, NJ, Photo: Ken Salerno

Friday, May 28, 2010

DCXX on Tee Till Death

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The guys over at TeeTillDeath.com asked if Gordo and I would be interested in writing a piece on what hardcore shirt stands the test of time to us, which of course we happily obliged. If you’re interested in checking out what we had to say, follow the links below. Also, if you haven’t been to TeeTillDeath.com, it’s a great and useful site to any hardcore shirt enthusiast, so get on over there now. Thanks to the TeeTillDeath crew and expect more content from them here on DCXX. -Tim DCXX

Tim DCXX on teetilldeath.com

Gordo DCXX on teetilldeath.com

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Why Be Something That That You’re Not

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Now I know you are all well aware of Tony Rettman’s “Why Be Something That You’re Not” book on the Detroit Hardcore scene of 1979-1985, but are you also aware of the blog he’s got going? In the case that you missed it, do yourself a favor and get over there now. Tony’s been featuring a ton of great tidbits that did not make the book and loads of heavy hitting mid west hardcore content in general. As a matter of fact, he just dropped a killer entry today on the short lived BURP! Fanzine that was done by Negative Approach frontman John Brannon and Necros drummer Todd Swalla between 1981 and 1982. So like I said, check it out and don’t forget to pick up the a copy of “Why Be Something That You’re Not”, due out July 6th, 2010 from Revelation. Do it. -Tim DCXX

http://wbstyn.blogspot.com

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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

James Hetfield of Metallica on Straight Edge

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I got a message from my cousin Bob today telling me about the new issue of So What, which is Metallica’s fan club magazine. Bob told me that there was a piece in the mag with James Hetfield talking about his tattoos. What surprised the hell out of both of us was that James recently got himself a straight edge tattoo… yeah, you read the right, a straight edge tattoo. Here’s a couple interesting excerpts from the interview. Thanks to Bob for scanning and sending this over to me. -Tim DCXX

SO WHAT: (Caught by a tattoo)… that’s a new one, right? Sorry-

James: Straight edge? Yeah.

SO WHAT: You’re not getting away with the last comment, incidentally. We’ll have to go back to that. But anyways, the straight edge X.

James: Right. Well, straight edge, this was certainly a design of my own. You know, the old straight edge tattoo, it’s just like a big X on your hand. No drinking, and I don’t drink. It’s like when you go into the clubs, they put and X on your hand…

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SO WHAT: Right. It’s because you haven’t shown your ID.

James: And I don’t need drink or drugs. That’s straight edge life. Obviously I’m not straight edge – a true, hardcore straight edge has never had any of it in her or her whole life. But I’m a reborn straight edge.

SO WHAT: I always associated Minor Threat and Ian MacKaye and those guys with straight edge punk. That’s what they were all about.

James: Absolutely. There’s some hardcore people that are straight edge from birth. So this was my take on the straight edge X, you know? Straight razors. A straight edge, is what that was all about.

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Monday, May 24, 2010

Our Gang – Part II

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Bryant with Our Gang at CBGB, NYC, 1989, Photo: Tracy S. Sham

I only saw Our Gang once…it was at the Anthrax in CT. A bunch of us from Albany went up there to support a local band called No Outlet, do you recall the show? How many shows did you guys actually play? Did you ever tour?

Lew: We played CB’s with Slapshot, The Pyramid with Token Entry, Lismar Lounge with Project X and Life’s Blood. We played on NYU radio, WNYU Crucial Chaos. I’ll never forget my mother telling me I had a call, going into the kitchen to answer and having Johnny Stiff ask me if Our Gang wanted to play Crucial Chaos. We played The Right Track Inn in Long Island. That was our first show. That and several other shows at the Anthrax were with our brothers in Pressure Release and Up Front. I don’t know exactly, but we might not have played more than ten shows. I do remember playing with No Outlet, but nothing else about that particular show.

Hobi: We got to play a CB’s Matinee. A lifelong goal achieved at 17.

Was there a favorite show that you guys played?

Lew: Maybe, for me, NYU. It was my first day of college. I had a night class. As soon as I got out of class my friend John Lisa picked me up and drove me into the city from Staten Island. When I walked into the studio where the bands played it was ridiculously packed. It seemed like everyone we knew was there. Our sound was terrible, as it usually was, since we were poor and had bad equipment. But everyone there was singing like crazy and it really sticks out in my mind. Our first shows also stand out, just because it was wild to see people going crazy on the floor and stagediving while we played. Seeing that was kind of like completion of a goal.

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Our Gang def fell into that 1980′s NYHC straightedge hardcore scene. Was the band actually SE?

Lew: We were all straight edge as people, but we didn’t want to be identified as a straight edge band. We didn’t have lyrics about straight edge. We wanted to be a hardcore band in the spirit of Agnostic Front, Victim In Pain.

Hobi: SE was really important to me. I enjoyed defining myself that way as a kid cause it was so radical and certainly positive. When it seemed cultish later and violently enforced I was turned off to that label. I remained sober until a few years ago in fact.

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Bryant with an Our Gang sing along at The Anthrax, Photo: Joe Snow

Why is it that you guys never released anything on vinyl back in the day? There must have been some interest from some labels? Had you guys talked about it? Was it a goal of the band to put a record out?

Lew: We were scheduled to record a 7” for Smorgabord. Chris Daily was a close friend. I remember him telling me, “Lew, just go into the studio and record!” But Hobi and I were, maybe to our own detriment, perfectionists, and we never felt the band was tight enough to record, and then we broke up. I don’t know if we were enjoying being a band so much at that point, which would make sense, as the CBGBs scene was all but dead. The world we had belonged to no longer existed. Things were changing fast.

Hobi: This record coming out is really exciting for me.

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Two words: “Some Records.” Please continue…

Lew: Some Records was a great place to hang out. We would go there every day after school and Duane would let us sit around and listen to music and he didn’t care if we didn’t have money to buy anything. But everything we bought, we bought there. I remember Hobi and I traveling into the city one day when both the Sick Of It All 7” and Warzone LP came out. We saw Billy from Side By Side show Duane his original art for the Gorilla Biscuits 7”. We heard every record before it came out. I remember talking to Raybeez in there, Porcell would be sitting across the way, Tommy Carroll was behind the counter. Everyone was in and out of there. Too many things to remember really. Our demo was only for sale at Some Records. We wouldn’t have had it any other way.

Hobi: I feel so bad for kids now. They have nothing of their own. Can you imagine being shaped and influenced by the sterile pop pablum that passes for hardcore? I love that I was a fly on the wall in Some while all these incredibly unique things were happening. That’ll never happen quite like that again.

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Hobi with Our Gang at CBGB, NYC, Photo: Tracy S. Sham

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Rebuilding Compilation Poll Wrap Up

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Ken and Skip standing outside the Turning Point van, 1991, Photo courtesy of: TP

This was an interesting poll to me because the results were exactly in the order I voted. Let’s break it down…

Turning Point won as I expected, but they really dominated more than I would have predicted. “Broken” is one hell of a song, not only for the fact that it’s great, but for the fact that it was written by young suburban dudes who only a year and a half before were getting passed off as a goofy YOT clone, complete with hooded-sweatshirt-dude cartoons and generic mosh parts. Obviously I love all eras of TP and the demo is one of the best ever – so I’m not knocking it…but they had their critics and weren’t initially heralded for originality…or at least weren’t expected to go the route of writing songs with this much depth.

“Broken” is a perfect example of a band seriously progressing while still staying in the realm of hardcore. Things are kicked up a solid notch above what they did on the LP, there is a heavy DC meets Verbal Assault vibe, and some real super tight musicianship – each member just delivers in a way that makes the later era TP material stand out. I gave TP the vote here just because I think of them when I think of the Rebuilding comp. Their track just seems like the voice of the record and like it was specifically written for the comp and not just a throw away extra song.

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The Burn track is a wall of power…raw, hard, ugly – and if you asked me tomorrow, I’d give this song my #1 slot. Obviously a pre-EP recording, there’s a spontaneous and uncalculated nature to this recording that is totally absent on the EP, especially in Chaka’s delivery. Drown is one of my favorite Burn tracks, and I think the EP version is just so flawless that it overshadows what appears on the Rebuilding comp. Fucking great track. “As a unit…what we could have been.” You’re moshing. Always dug Gavin’s extra little note bender at the end of the melter on this recording…I think I’d pay a lot of money to just hear various takes of his raw guitar tracks from any Burn session.

GB crept into 3rd place ahead of No Escape. Biscuit Power is a great anthem, in fact, it’s actually one of my more favorite GB songs as it’s early, chaotic, goofy GB at their finest. Yet it never really fit in on this comp to me. I always imagine Chuck Miller somehow just snagged a recording of the tune and got it OK’d and thought “alright!” Thing is, I always viewed the Rebuilding comp as featuring 3 relatively new or brand new bands that were kinda the current newest crop of HC bands pushing things into unchartered territory. And then there’s GB, who had already been around a few years, and the song of theirs here is a very early one. Just odd. Either way, I’d say Biscuit Power would beat a ton of other songs in head to head competition, but a monster Burn song and one of TP’s best tunes provide too much competition. Again, you could ask me tomorrow and I may throw this in the front spot.

No Escape rounded things out, and while I’ve never disliked No Escape, they’ve never grown on me to the extent I thought they would have as I’ve grown up. On paper, No Escape has always sounded PERFECT: Editor of Boiling Point going bonkers with dudes playing heavy, brooding hardcore that has some thought behind it. But I don’t know. Silenced is a solid track, probably better than 75% of all comp tracks that would come out anything in the next ten years…but it grabbed last place for me and also took the final spot in the voting.

Definitely a solid comp that marks a period in (east coast) HC pretty well.

Thanks for voting and feel free to comment with your feedback! -Gordo DCXX

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Skip with Turning Point at the BBQ Iguana, DC, Photo: Dave Brown

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

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