Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Harley Flanagan drops the dual fingered salute
We welcome NYHC legend Harley Flanagan to DCXX with what we hope will become an ongoing weekly installment where we pick his brain with random questions and he fires off in a way only he can. Maximum respect. -Gordo DCXX
What is your all time favorite Cro-Mags song, and why?
Well let me just say I don’t think the records ever really did us justice ,I think the old demos and “Revenge” came the closest, but we were a live band, as anyone who ever saw us back in the day would tell you. Age Of Quarrel didn’t come out nearly as good as we were live, none of it really did. But all time favorite, and why? I’m not sure, because they all mean something to me.
Some of my favorite ones never got recorded and or haven’t been recorded yet just due to circumstances and the band falling apart, etc. Parris and I did write a few cool ones back in the old days even before Age Of Quarrel when Eric was still with us that never got recorded – they had great riffs and great lyrics, its too bad they never made it into the studio. Really great stuff.
But I feel like I still have my best songs in me – whether they ever got recorded or not we will see. But overall I can’t be sure which one is my favorite. Whether it’s a lyric or a riff or memory that goes along with it, they all mean something to me.
For example, Eric and me wrote the words to Life Of My Own and World Peace and those were some of the first sets of lyrics I wrote. The lyrics to Life Of My Own are still really meaningful to me, and we were just kids when we wrote that shit – like 14 or 15 years old. I mean the song is only one riff really but for whatever reason it works. Me and Parris writing the riffs to those songs…we took that shit real serious for two fuckin’ kids barely into our teens.
I still enjoy playing all of them – Malfunction is real fun to play, even some of the stuff on Best Wishes like Death Camps or the song Age Of Quarrel…those are some heavy riffs. And I really liked some of the stuff on Revenge like Premeditated or Can You Feel – that one has a lot of the best elements of different styles of Cro-Mags songs in it. In a lot of ways I thought musically and performance-wise that was some of our best stuff.
Regardless of whether we get along or not now, I gotta tell you that Parris is one nasty motherfucking guitarist. I still haven’t seen ANYONE on the NYHC scene that can fuck with him at all. His rhythm playing is as nasty as James Hetfield or Scott Ian, if not better. There’s a few guys out there on the HC scene that are decent, and I’ve played with some great guys: Doug Holland who I gotta say was one of if not the best lead guitarist to come out of NY during the 80’s, Gabby Abularach, Joe Affe, Sean Kilkenny, Will Dahl, Jay Vento, even AJ…and so on. But Parris, I gotta say, he is really nasty and probably the best to come out of the NY scene.
And no matter what people say or think of me, you still can’t fuck with me, my shit, or the riffs I wrote. I mean some guys can fake it and play the right notes and shit Craig and that Chinese kid or whoever else he gets. And that’s not to say they are not OK bass players and I’m not trying to dog them as people, they’re nice guys and everything. But let’s get real…they ain’t really doing it right, they ain’t got my right hand or my rhythm chops or skills and they don’t bend the strings the way I do or have the grip I do. And I’m not bragging or talking shit.
Harley with the Cro-Mags at City Gardens, Trenton NJ, Photo: Ken Salerno
I mean it’s kind of like trying to replace Darryl in the Bad Brains or something, or Geezer with Sabbath. I mean even if they are playing the same notes it ain’t gonna have the same feel, period. I know Tony had other guys but it just ain’t the same…no one ever does it like the original.
I mean cats like AJ or whoever, even though he’s pretty good, they can’t fuck with Parris or Doug, he’s not half the guitarist they were, never mind Rocky George or Gabby.
And I developed my style from years of being a drummer, and that strength comes from playing the ride cymbal and the high hats doing 16th notes and shit for years and years and watching the masters like Darryl and Lemmy for all those years back in the day. Once I learned all those songs and got down with Geezer and shit, then I started checking into guys like Stanley Clark and Jaco and crazy shit like that, and I took what I could and made it my own and that’s why my playing is the way it is. I listen to a lot of different kinds of music and I try to incorporate it into my style. Plus, I’ve been playing for nearly 30 years.
I mean these hardcore kids can fake it jump around a lot and look tough or whatever, but there’s only a couple guys that are really musical you know? As far as cats that I give props to, Robert who played with Suicidal and Ozzy and all that, yeah…he’ll smoke me, but I will say that we have two different styles. I love his playing, he’s also a great guy. Darryl, he’ll smoke me, but I learned almost everything I know from him. Rainy from Discharge – he’s fucking off the chain, you can’t even fuck with that shit.
Brian Baker was really good back in the day when he was playing bass with Minor Threat. I mean there was some good guys here and there, and there was some really cool bass lines from back in the day like the song Problem Child from LA’s Wasted Youth. There was a lot of great stuff, like Randy Rampage from D.O.A. Also Chuck Dukowski – I don’t think people realize how good he was ’cause they were so crazy and sloppy live but that dude could really play. I used to sit and watch him warm up and practice back stage and he’s fucking nuts. There was a few guys who were good, I can’t think of ’em all right now – I mean Flea was sick, he used to be with FEAR before the Chili Peppers. But with most hardcore bands for the most part it’s more about the look – they got the right tattoos, the right look and the moves…they can jump real high or whatever or they’ve got the tough guy look, that’s enough for them. But can they actually play the shit? Like really?
For instance I mean John can get whatever Cro-Mag fan he wants on bass but it ain’t gonna sound like me. It might sound sorta like the song, they may fake the left hand but they can’t fake the right, and besides that he doesn’t have anybody with him that wrote any of the songs. It’s all kind of pitiful to me, it’s real fake. I mean I’m not trying to take away who he is or what they are, but still, what they are doing is fake. And, Eric Casanova wrote most of the words to AOQ with me, and he never gets any credit.
I mean, Craig from SOIA knows it is not the real shit, whenever he runs into Sean Killkenny or other mutual friends of ours he never says yeah I’m playing with the ‘Cro-Mags’ or I’m filling in with the ‘Cro-Mags’ or jamming with the ‘Cro-Mags’ or anything like that, he always says yeah I’m filling in with ‘John’s thing,’ they all know it ain’t the “real’ thing,” and anybody who ever saw it when it was real knows it too. What can I tell you.
Harley front and center with the New York Crew, 1983, Photo: Ran D.
You’ve played with some great drummers over the years. Who do you say is the best, and who have you clicked with most?
Well I clicked with all of them, each one differently for different reasons, obviously Mackie set the bar high back in the day. Dave Dicenso was one of the most technically skilled drummers I’ve ever played with and he’s a great guy. Ryan Krieger is sick. Gary G-Man Sullivan is off the fucking hook, I mean crazy! That motherfucker’s nasty, I dont know too many humans who do anything with the power or intensity that that mofo drums with. I love playing with him and he’s a great guy as well. Eric Arce is another one, Walter Ryan too.
I’ve been really lucky, but I’m a drummer so I don’t settle for anything but top dog motherfuckers. Plus like I said we had Mackie and that set the bar kinda high, he’s a nasty motherfucker so everyone that followed had to at least be able to pull that shit off which made them a great drummer automatically just to be able to do all that shit. Of course I mean I can’t forget Pete Hines, he was another one who was one of the best drummers on the scene back then.
But man, any of those guys, I’d play with any of them gladly, purely on a musical level for that alone.
Harley with Andy Warhol and Joe Strummer, Phone courtesy of: Harley Flanagan
What has been your favorite place outside of the U.S. to play, and why?
Well I have so many great memories of different countries so it’s hard to say.I love traveling and meeting people, trying new foods and all of that so touring outside of the states is always fun. I have been digging Japan a lot as it’s just such a different culture, the people are so nice. They are almost too polite. The less drama the better, that’s why I like it there. To get to travel by playing music just makes it all even better. If you would have told me when I was 14 years old living in a squat that I would travel the world so many times by playing music, I would have laughed at you. These days I don’t do it as much as I used to, as I have a family now, and with that in the picture, it really has to be worth it to leave them.
I always have fun when I’m out with Harley’s War, the guys are all so cool it’s fun and it’s all a good time. It ain’t really like being in a band at all because there is no schism and no drama, and in truth, with all of the Cro-Mags bullshit over the past few years, it has kinda made it a drag for me. A lot of the people I used to deal with I just don’t even feel like dealing with anymore. I mean I used to have really good memories of the shit, but people are so fake now. I don’t know, maybe they always were, but everyone’s always involving themselves with all of this bullshit that ain’t really even their business except for the few people that were involved, so fuck ’em.
That said, it’s all for money anyways with all these promoters and shit selling a fake band. They can claim whatever they want, it ain’t really the band, it’s some really fake shit, and all the new kids, well, they dont know any better so I guess they’ll take what they can get. I mean I understand, they’re fans of the music, so, it’s like going to see Ozzy instead of Sabbath or going to see Sabbath without Ozzy – but on a much much much smaller level. Believe me I’m not trying to compare us to Sabbath, trust me – you take what you can get. They just want to hear the songs and have a good time – they didn’t see it back in the day so they take what they can get. They dont know what they’re missing, they didn’t see it back in the day and they never saw the real shit. So they’re happy to see whatever they can and I understand.
I wish the band could have put all the bullshit and egos in the past a while ago and given the fans what they wanted. But I guess John would rather sell some fake shit, that way he can be in control of it all instead of having to be a part of something where everyone is in control and has a say. That’s why he’s been talking all this shit for all these years, so people will support it. He’s even been writing books to try and put this weird twist on everything, to make us look bad and make him look good or whatever. I tell people all the time, don’t believe everything you hear or read. He’s an entertainer and he does what he has to do to sell what he’s doing. And Parris, well I don’t even know what to tell you, it’s just too bad and kind of pitiful. I never thought grown ass men could be this way.
But hey, none of us are innocent, and it don’t help with all these fake motherfuckers adding fuel to the fire.
But fuck it, and fuck ’em all anyway. I’m so busy with my family, my kids and Jiu-jitsu. My kids train now, between me and them we are at the academy 5 to 6 days a week. It’s a full time family affair now, I’m having a good time and life is good. I’m having fun with them, just living life. I am in the studio at the moment and I do have some stuff coming out soon, but I’m in no rush, I’m chilling. I’m supposed to be going to Japan again this summer. But that’s about it, I’m training and chilling…
Harley and his boys hanging with Renzo Gracie, 2010, Photo courtesy of: Harley
Monday, May 17, 2010
John Joseph with the Cro-Mags at Webster Hall, NYC, 5/15/2010, Photo: FutureBreed
I had a handful of friends hit me up for a recap on Saturday night’s Black N Blue Bowl, so I figured I’d just as well make a little DCXX entry out of it. Out of all fairness I can’t accurately go into details about each and every band because I didn’t actually see all of them, but I will try and break down exactly what I did see.
I headed into the city with my wife Traci, my friend Karl and Karl’s cousin Matt. The show started at 2:00, but we didn’t even get on the road from Jersey until close to 4:00. Out of all honesty I’m not sure if I’d ever been to a show at the Ritz before, but knowing that Webster Hall was indeed the Ritz at one point, I was looking forward to finding myself on the set of the “We Gotta Know” video.
By the time we got into the city, parked, met up with Zusi and got into the show, Trapped Under Ice were on stage. I’d heard these guys before and have their “Stay Cold” 7″, but not so sure I’d seen them before. Pretty heavy stuff, lots of mosh, good stage energy, kids were generally losing their minds and flying all over the place.
I ran into both Andy Guida and Mark Ryan (at separate times) from Supertouch and both were excited to be going on next. Mark’s always had a super laid back, relaxed, calm demeanor, but when I asked him if he was psyched, his eyes lit up, he gave me a smile and said something along the lines of, “Oh yeah, definitely!”
As Trapped Under Ice finished their set, I made my way up to the front of the stage to grab a perfect spot and line myself up front and center for Supertouch. I ran into a few old friends up there, which made it kind of cool and helped me settle into a comfortable little space.
A balcony shot of Supertouch at Webster Hall, NYC, 5/15/2010, Photo: Iris Abada
Supertouch took the stage and wasted zero time, they tore right into “Searchin’ For The Light” and whoever was there and up front for this spectacle surely got slammed with a classic. Mark controlled the mic spending most of the time selfishly spitting all the words into it himself, but occasionally tossing it into the crowd giving us moments to shout along. Following “Searchin'” was another crowd favorite, “Climbin’ Aboard”. At this point I’m picturing a collage of memories from Supertouch sets of old and how the crowd would unravel for this song, so I got a little extra fire in my stomach hearing this one…”Fight to be accepted, fight not to be X’ed!”…so good.
I was in my own world and really had no concept of what was happening around me or in back of me. There could have been 3 people behind me or there could have been 300 and I wouldn’t have known the difference. It was simply all about Supertouch at that moment. Other songs played were “What If”, “Better” and “Shame”, all of which were equally awesome. At the end of “Shame”, Mark threw the mic 50 feet up into the air, walked off stage and let the mic slam to the ground. Biv came up, grabbed the mic and used it to generate some added guitar noise and feedback, more awesomeness.
Mark Ryan with Supertouch at Webster Hall, NYC, 5/15/2010, Photo: Jordan Pontell
My only complaint is that after 5 songs it was over and I was left wanting more. In a way I guess wanting more is not a bad thing. Rumors were floating around that we can expect another chance to Get Down in September.
Following Supertouch, everyone I rolled up to the show with and I decided to head upstairs and check out the merch room. There were whispers about Supertouch shirts, so we thought we’d get a first hand look at what was available. Moving around this place was tough because every staircase, path, and room was packed with wall to wall people. Once we finally got up there though, Supertouch merch was nowhere to be found.
Andy Guida with Supertouch at Webster, NYC, 5/15/2010, Photo: Jordan Pontell
What we did see was a wall of Cro-Mags merch and John Joseph’s newly released book, “Meat Is For Pussies”. My wife bought the book, I looked over the shirts, then we ran into more old friends. Pete Tabbot from Vision was hanging out and we all ended up rapping with him for awhile. Toby Morse from H20 walked in and popped right into our conversation. Before we knew it we were hearing about Toby going on the road with Insted and Vison in ’88 as well as stories of his recent trips to high schools, teaching kids about straight edge and staying off drugs…pretty cool stuff. While this was all going down, Skarhead and Yuppicide sets took place and I failed to catch a minute of either. By the time Toby left the room, H20 was about to play and they would end up being the next band I’d catch since Supertouch.
H20 are one of those bands that have been around for a long, long time and in my opinion, have gotten better and better over the years and have definitely grown on me. Toby is just one of those ultra charismatic front men that the crowd eats up. He’s an upbeat, positive, well spoken guy with good things to say and I can do nothing but respect that. Like usual, the crowd packed it up and the energy level rose to an all new height for the night. I watched this set go down from the safety of balcony.
Madball were up next and in the aftermath of our interview with Matt Henderson, I’ve taken a bit of a new interest in them. We all made our way back downstairs to the dance floor area, partly in preparation for the Cro-Mags set to come and partly to soak in more of the Madball set. When the lights came on and the giant Madball logo popped up behind the drum stand, the crowd erupted into pure madness. Freddy and the rest of the band took the stage and all you saw were fists in the air, kids bouncing off the walls and a dance floor that turned into a warzone. Madball blasted through a set of classics as well as some of their newer jams and the intensity level stayed high through out. I’ve always been a huge fan of their first EP, “Ball Of Destruction”, but I think I’ve finally started digging on some their other material as well. All in all an impressive set and I’ll be keeping an eye out for their new album due out later this year.
Freddy Madball, Photo: Ronan Thenadey
Finally it was Cro-Magnum time. As I made my way up to the stage front, I ran into DCXX contributor, Winnpeg, Canada’s, Agent A. Agent A and I teamed up and took our place up front and you could just feel the electricity flowing throughout the crowd that was anticipating the return of the Cro-Mags to the very same stage that they had filmed the “We Gotta Know” video on 24 years earlier. It had been about a year or more since I had seen this latest JJ fronted incarnation of the Mags and I had been kicking myself for missing them the last 3 chances that I had, so I had been looking forward to this set for awhile now.
As usual they took the stage and instantly started shredding through their set, classic “Age Of Quarrel” tracks one after another. The one song I had been looking forward to and heard had been added to the current set list, “Crush The Demoniac” was a definite stand out for me. Such a killer song, could listen to it on repeat for days. Crowd wise, as many people as were there, it still looked pretty damn dangerous to try diving. That stage is chest high and one wrong move or person dashing out of the way could easily leave you with a broken back. I remember hearing rumors about some one dying or becoming paralyzed at one of those old Ritz Cro-Mags shows, so that thought stuck in my mind and held me back from giving it a go.
Either way, I enjoyed the hell out of the set, the Mags sounded great, the band had energy and the crowd fed off of it all. At the end of the set, the band stepped off the stage, but quickly reappeared for one last encore, “Don’t Tread On Me” being that designated jam. The crowd went nuts one last time and I saw nothing but a sea of arms in the air connected to bodies that seemed to shout every word. We had all been Cro-Magnatized.
JJ with the Cro-Mags at Webster Hall, NYC, 5/15/2010, Photo: Jesse Jones
After the show a few of us hit up the vegetarian pizza shop Viva Pizza and that place was mobbed with hardcore kids. JJ and Craig Ahead stopped in for some late night eats as well. I saw a few copies of “Meat Is For Pussies” getting passed around and signed by JJ as well as a few photos being snapped off.
All in all a great finish to a fun night of New York Hardcore. -Tim DCXX
The Webster Hall marquee, 5/15/2010, Photo: Jordan Pontell
Sunday, May 16, 2010
Crucifix – Dehumanization – straight from the start, Sothira’s powerful & poetic intro leading into the classic guitar riff for the main album track blew my mind away as a 14 year old! Not to mention the fold out poster record cover, true DIY punk style. It’s your choice! Peace! Or annilhilation!
I was just thinking about what record it would be for me, I was thinking that I would choose Offenders, We Must Rebel. Strange. A lot of my friends missed that record. We Must Rebel has great playing and singing on it. Those guys could play. That record hit me hard. It still does. Good alienated, pissed off lyrics, catchy songs and they were fast and tight. I used to practice drums to that record. Fun. Although I think I had The Butthole Surfers, Psychic Powerless Another Man’s Sack on the other side of that cassette. I listen to that record more consistently over the years. Are the Buttholes allowed to be on the list? Does the rule book allow for that?
Lewis Dimmick – Our Gang
I could easily go with the Minor Threat LP (two 7″s) or Bad Brains ROIR Cassette, but I’ve decided to go with a NY record: Agnostic Front’s Victim In Pain.
This record, following its release, set the template for just about all the hardcore in and out of NY in the ’80s, both musically (fast part / mosh, fast part / mosh) and lyrically (unity among members of the scene, who were outcasts from society).
It was a worthy template to follow, until the late ’80s when the template shifted, from fast hardcore to heavy moshcore with lyrics about busting heads, and all the energy of hardcore became horribly misplaced.
Thursday, May 13, 2010
If you haven’t already heard, Supertouch has been added to this years Black N Blue Bowl (aka The Superbowl of Hardcore) and it’s being held at Webster Hall (aka formally The Ritz) this Saturday, May 15th. I don’t know about you, but the idea of seeing the Cro-Mags and Supertouch, as well as all the other bands at The Ritz in 2010 sounds kinda cool to me. See ya there and see ya back here on DCXX Sunday when we get back on track. -Tim DCXX
Monday, May 10, 2010
With the release of their 12″, “Uprising”, due out any day now on Jack Roy Records, I had been talking to Lew from Our Gang to get them on board for some content on DCXX. We decided to do an interview, I sent them some questions and within a couple of hours I had gotten a message back from Lew saying that they had just done an interview that was posted on their own website and it had already answered a lot of the same questions we had asked. Lew asked if we’d be cool with re-posting the same interview that appears on their site and we agreed. So here it is, part one of an interview with Lew and Hobi of Our Gang. -Tim DCXX
How did Our Gang Originally form? Were you guys friends from high school? Meet one another at HC shows? How did it happen? What year was this?
Lew: Hobi and I formed the band together. We had been friends since junior high school and grew up listening to punk and metal together. Our first band was called Blood Sausage, a mock metal band. This was before we actually knew how to tune our guitars. We probably started writing the songs that we would later use in Our Gang in 1986 or so.
How old were you guys when you formed?
Lew: 15 or 16.
Lew: To be in tune, put out a demo we could sell at Some Records. Play CBGB’s. Become part of the NYHC scene.
Who was in the band and what did they play? Were there many line up changes?
Lew: We recorded 4 demos at Don Fury’s. Nothing from the first demo (late ’87) appears on the record, as that demo was mostly out of tune. Hobi and I switched back and forth between bass and guitar on that recording. Bryant sang and Pat played drums.
Our second tape (June ’88) was the re-recorded “Uprising” demo. Javier joined on bass for that demo so that both Hobi and I could play guitar.
We went to Don Fury’s a third time (October ’88) to record a new song, “No Motive.” That song and “Penguin Romp,” a NYC Mayhem cover, appear on the LP from that tape.
Hobi: It should be noted that we went to Don’s that time solely to record for Freddy’s New Breed Comp. Oddly, we chose not to submit it cause we thought it wasn’t good enough. In retrospect it’s one of the best things we ever did.
Lew: The last 3 songs on the record, our more melodic songs, are from the fourth Don Fury tape. I took over on bass for this tape, as it was not really Javier’s style. We ended as a four piece band.
Hobi: That session at Don’s was intended to be a demo for us to scrutinize before recording our record. We had gotten much more serious as a band – diligently rehearsing and thinking about the songs. It was really exciting to see what Bryant was doing lyrically and vocally while we were growing simultaneously as songwriters.
Lew with Our Gang at CBGB, NYC, 1989, Photo: Tracy S. Sham
I always loved the name Our Gang…because of growing up on the Rascals, and because it just sounded kinda mean & tough. Who came up with the name, and what did it mean to you guys?
Lew: Hobi came up with the name. That guy is a genius at names. He can say more about the name, but to me it represents our earliest days hanging out in the scene. It was just about our group of friends hanging out together and having fun. That’s what hardcore was for us, great music and great friends. The name was not meant to suggest violence in any way. The hardcore scene had not yet been corrupted by violence.
Hobi: I loved the Rascals as well and that of course was the inspiration. I loved it as a hardcore band name however because it did suggest that this scene was our exclusive club. Anyone can join but ya better not bring all that bullshit in with you. Back then Hardcore music was pure noise to normal people and people still thought we were weirdos and I LOVED that.
What were your main musical influences back then?
Lew: Minor Threat, Bad Brains, Underdog, Token Entry, Warzone, NYC Mayhem, Straight Ahead. There’s a lot more obviously.
Hobi: Cro-Mags, YOT, Ramones, Sabbath and Metallica deserve honorable mention.
Lew: In the early 80’s Hobi and I discovered a lot of different records in his apartment. His father was a record collector. And a hardcore one! Not meaning that he collected hardcore music, but he just collected records, specifically colored vinyl and picture discs. We found tons of interesting things to listen to on what sounded to me like the best sound system in the world. We discovered the Sex Pistols, Dead Kennedys, Bad Brains, Crucifix. The RAT MUSIC FOR RAT PEOPLE comp was big.
In 1985 I ordered the NYC Mayhem demo from Mutilator fanzine, done by Tom Capone. We lived on that tape. When we met Duane we traded it to him, along with a copy of the interview from Mutilator, for the Straight Ahead demo and a soundboard of SA’s first CB’s show. We started going to CBs early in 1986. Straight Ahead’s first show was our first show. Hobi went to an art high school in the city, and lots of people that went to that school became our hardcore gang. Some of those guys discovered Some Records and that is how we discovered Underdog, Token Entry, Youth Of Today, Crippled Youth. Coming across all those EPs for the first time was pretty mindblowing.
Hardcore was a perfect fit for us. We were never normal kids who wanted normal things, like going to keggers on the weekend. We had an attitude and viewpoint toward life that was similar to the attitude we found in hardcore music. We were attracted to the idea of people doing their own thing, away from the mainstream. We also loved really fast music, with distorted guitars. Hobi and I were pretty strict when we were young. If you weren’t playing fast, you weren’t hardcore.
Hobi: I’d like to talk about the HS of Art and Design for a second. Both Pat (drums) and Bryant (vox) went there with me. Bryant practically introduced me to my wife Caroll there whose sister had once dated Stigma for chrissake! Chuck True Colors, the spiritual leader of Our Gang and greatest hype man in HC went there as well as my great friend Rich All For One. It was such a unique experience going to school in Manhattan everyday back then. It really defined my hardcore experience.
Sunday, May 9, 2010
I guess everyone has that one thing that they are into a little more than anything else, and for me it is Wishingwell merch. At this point I have over 50 different items with no duplicates. I think part of the attraction to Wishingwell is the staggering number of designs that were produced. The Dubars were not afraid to mix things up, that’s for sure.
We are going to be starting a running feature on TeeTillDeath.com called “What Hardcore shirt has stood the test of time for you?”. This feature was completely inspired by the similar ongoing one here at Double Cross (What HC/Punk album has stood the test of time for you?). Tim asked me to share with you my top 5 Wishingwell Records shirts in order to kick things off right. – Chris Casali (TeeTillDeath.com)
I first heard about this shirt from my friend Ritter (LOJ, Trash King Records) who had seen John Coyle, the singer of Outspoken wearing it during their reunion set in 2003. When pictures finally emerged from that show, I knew that I had to track it down. All my favorite Wishingwell prints on one shirt? Yes please! After several emails with John from Outspoken, it was clear that my search was going to be more difficult than originally thought. It seems that a European Outspoken mega-fan had flown in to see them play at this reunion show. After the set he was talking to John and had commented on how much he liked the shirt. Apparently John took it off his back and gave it to the dude as an appreciation for coming all the way out to see them. Great.
That turned into a hunt for a mysterious European dude with no name or country. I was finally able to track down this guy after a few months, and after several YEARS of emails, we were able to work out a ridiculous trade for it. Let’s just say that I traded many amazing records to bring this baby home. I am not sure if I am recalling this story correctly as the email has long since been deleted, but I recall Jae telling me a little story about this shirt. Apparently he had gotten this shirt from Pat Dubar and had cherished it for many years. One time he wore it to a show, and Courtney Dubar got in his face and demanded to know where he got the shirt as he figured he must have stolen it. Apparently they only made a couple for friends. Pat Dubar swooped in to set the story straight before the discussion went any further. This is the cornerstone of my collection, and is the same shirt featured in the Radio Silence book.
#2 – black BL’AST! Wishingwell 4 sided
OK so I’m sure many of you out there would like a Bl’ast! shirt (or tattoo, what up Dan Cav!). I have a few variations of the red 4 sided shirts, including one that belonged to Matt Bold, and one that belonged to Kev INSTED. As if my sickness wasn’t bad enough, someone had told me long ago that they had seen a black 4 sided Bl’ast! shirt. Never having seen one in person myself, I added it to my want list where it sat lonely for many years. As with most things people collect, if you wait around long enough you will find what you are looking for. I was doing my usual cruise through Ebay land and BOOM this shirt was listed. Sure it is beat up, cut up and faded gray, but there in front of my eyes was a real black Bl’ast! 4 sided. I’m sure it’s because of the condition, but I was able to grab this for pretty cheap money. If anyone reading this has one of these, or any other variation of a Bl’ast! Wishingwell shirt, you know where to find me.
This Insted shirt popped up out of nowhere on ebay as well many years ago. I had never seen one of these before, and I knew I needed to add this to my collection. The seller was based out of NYC, and he told me he picked this up when he saw them on tour in 1988. As with most old shirts, the original owners have amazing memories associated with them, and it often takes years to part with that. This seller had kept this shirt even after selling off all his other shirts and records. I was able to work out a deal with him, and proudly added this to my collection. I traded this away a few years later, only to have it again in my possession. I have not seen another one of these pop up for sale yet.
Sometimes people list things on Ebay without properly checking the spelling of the items listed. This particular shirt was listed as a “Wishignwell” shirt. I watched and waited for 7 long days before I placed my bid at the last second to scoop this up. I was surprised that there was another bidder on this shirt, especially with the misspelling. Only after winning did I figure out that the other bidder was Brian Murphy who had just started Howsyouredge.com with Jim Connelly and me. He has never forgiven me for outbidding him on this, but many years later, we are still working together – even though I can’t bring it up.
I have a whole slew of Uniform Choice “straight and Alert” shirts, all with different colors and prints. This one stands out as one of my favorites because of the blue writing on the front. I feel like I need to strap on a pair of 3D glasses before I look at it. Sure this thing is beat to all hell, but it has found a home here with its brothers.
Friday, May 7, 2010
Thursday, May 6, 2010
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
To wrap up our Posh Boy Records Poll, we went to California legend of all things Hardcore: Jon Roa. While Jon didn’t actually vote for one of the bands we listed in the poll, we found his quick history lesson worth posting. As for Tim and me, we went with Agent Orange. When I think of Posh Boy, I immediately think of Agent Orange for “Living In Darkness” alone. Either way, lots of crucial punk records in that back catalog. Thanks to Roa and thanks for voting! -Gordo DCXX
First, I thank Double Cross for asking me to contribute anything.
Gordo has kindly asked me to list my favorite early Posh Boy band. I have seen all of the bands on the list (all with Ryan Hoffman of Chain of Strength I might add) and even though my vote choice goes to TSOL, my absolute favorite Posh Boy release is one not listed: The Stepmothers “All Systems Go EP” (12″, EP) 1981.
The Stepmothers released a single, an EP and one LP “You Were Never My Age” on Posh Boy records as well as being on “Rodney on the Roq, Vol. 2.” They are best described as a state-side Generation X.
The reasons I love this short five-song burst of energy of a record are many but here are a few of them: The band is from of my area of upbringing-the 909! They borrowed so many genre influences that they were never really accepted by any one group: too metal for the punk crowd and vice versa. I saw them in Chino, CA in 1980 at a hall that they rented and it was a great shock to see a local band that good. The members were totally cool and supportive of this fat, bald kid with braces who lied and said he had a band (me). But above all, their lyrics were great.
I think you all should seek out the CD and listen to the words to “Don’t Kill The Beat” which are still strong today:
“So you have been into the scene for a month or two.
But that kid there, there is something wrong with you.
You spike his face so he fears for his life.
You forget pretty quick what your first night was like.”
I hope all you Double Cross people track it down and listen to the song, “IF I WERE YOU” as it is a great one. Let the world know what you think.
I think it is fantastic. – ROA XXX
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
Chris Lohman with Blackspot, 3/22/2009, Photo courtesy of: Lohman
For those of you that might be unfamiliar with Chris Lohman, he’s been a mainstay in the Southern California Hardcore scene since the mid 80’s. Getting his start in Blackspot, currently doing a band called Damage Season and going full force with a screen printing company that’s been doing all the latest Cro-Mags merch, I thought Chris would make for a good read. As Chris would say, he’s… “No one to step on, no one to take your shit, who will you have to fuck with?”. -Tim DCXX
First off, tell us who you are, where you’re from, what bands you’ve played in, etc.
My name is Chris Lohman, and I’m from Huntington Beach California. I grew up here in Huntington, and have lived here my whole life. Huntington Beach has always had strong roots in the punk scene, and for lower income and broken families, punk rock was the escape. I grew up seeing the punk culture around me, and knew kids whose brothers were listening to punk rock. In the 6th grade I asked for a Clash tape (Combat Rock) for Christmas. I got it, and I was drawn to that kind of music…it wasn’t long after that that I got a guitar, and wanted to play in a punk band.
It wasn’t until my Freshman year in High School that I really did start to play guitar. I can’t remember which friend it was…I want to say Mike Murphy…but they told me about a band called Uniform Choice. They were a Hardcore Straight Edge band out of Orange County…I had heard of Minor Threat, but UC was from around here, and I loved it. I would sit in my room and try to play their songs, and one day, while playing guitar with my cousin, it started to come together. I was hooked for life, I knew then that I wanted to be in a Hardcore band.
Bands were kind of slim pickings for me in High School. I had some great friends that I played with, but I wanted to do a real Hardcore band. A year or so after high school, I surprisingly hooked up with some guys from high school, and started a band called Blackspot. Greg Brown, Scott Lytle, Sean Fader and I were doing a full fledged Hardcore band. Blackspot for me was a dream come true. We played our first show with Insted, Dan from No For An Answer put out our 7″, we went on tour, and played with bands like Sick Of It All…it was what you were suppose to do in a Hardcore band.
As Blackspot started to run its course, I found that I had an interest in singing. So, a few friends of mine and I started a band called Collateral Damage. The band was politically charged, and had a very heavy sound to it. It actually started off as a project, but quickly moved into a full time band. Collateral Damage got to play a lot of great shows, and we were on New Age records, which at the time was a premier label. After Collateral Damage, I continued to play music…and in 2000, Dan O’Mahony and I started a band called JOHN HENRY HOLIDAY. The idea was to capture the sound from the 80s and let people know that that music is what inspired a lot of people to be who they are today.
I have never given up on Hardcore… I still play it today. I’m currently doing a band called Damage Season with Brian Manery (Mean Season), and Jae Hansel (Outspoken), and it’s one of the best band I have ever done.
Uniform Choice, No For An Answer, Insted, Outspoken, Unity, Mean Season, Ignite, Don’t No, Social Distortion, and every band that I have been in.
Uniform Choice was the band that started it all for me…I still love and listen to the first album. It’s the music that just resonated with who I am, even today.
No For An Answer was the band I got to see from their first show to their last. I got to follow them, and see their progression, and be part of it. I knew what shows they were playing and when their records were coming out. I was knee deep into the scene, and they were the front runners around here.
Insted…everyone liked Insted…you had to. The guys were cool, they had a great sound, and they were the staple of Orange County.
Outspoken, just sound good…and their live shows were awesome. I was always so impressed with the songs they wrote.
Unity was one of my favorites…I just love the sound of that 7″. It reminds of skateboarding with my friends, and going to shows. We would always listen to that on the way to shows…and SNFU on the way home. Never did get to see them.
Mean Season…I always wanted to play guitar as good as Manery…still can’t by the way.
Ignite brought Hardcore back to Orange County in the 90s. When I heard that record that Zoli sang on I was more than impressed. They still sound great today.
Don’t No just plain scared me to death…they were an HB local band that had the scariest crowd I have ever seen, but they really know how to play their intstruments. Great band.
Social Distortion…it’s a county law that you have to like Social Distortion if you live here…even if people say they don’t like them, they really do.
For all the bands that I played in…I have to like all the bands that I played in or what would be the point?
What are some of your favorite memories from going to shows in Southern California?
When I first started going to shows 80s, there was Fender’s Ballroom. The Olympic Auditorium was the big punk place to have shows, but they were stopping shows there, and Fender’s was the new place. It was in the heart of downtown Long Beach, in a gang infested area. It was about 30 mins. away from Huntington Beach, but back then it seemed like hours. Once inside Fender’s, the gang problem didn’t stop. You had the Skinhead/Punk gang, The Lads, you had the Suicidals…enough said. You had SOS, the Samoans, and to top it off…Circle One. If you kept your head down you were OK, but if you got out of hand, one of them would handle you. I remember feeling scared when I first started going, but the music kept me going back. Once I got the hang of things, I really loved going to shows.
Thinking back, all the riots, and gang fights is what made that place so fun. It was like a movie, and when you were on your way home you felt like you escaped death. In a way you kind of did. There was so much brutality it didn’t seem real, I’m glad kids today don’t have to deal what that so much anymore, but you had to really want to be at one of those shows. The friends I had back then I still have to day…they feel like old army buddies. We went through something great. Things people today wish they were there for, band that people will never get to see again, and we got to see them. Cro-Mags, 7 Seconds, Youth Brigade, Youth Of Today, COC, SNFU, Agnostic Front, Bl’ast!, Exploited, RKL, No For An Answer, Black Flag, Descendents, TSOL, No Mercy, Beowulf, Suicidal Tendencies, X, Bad Religion, Uniform Choice, Insted, MDC, Stalag 13, IllRepute, Circle Jerks, Chain Of Strength, Scream…these are the memories I think of most often. I love playing shows…but what inspired me to play was going to those shows.
A long time ago, I use to print for Mike Hartsfield at New Age. I only did it for a short time, but I enjoyed it. Two years ago when the recession hit, I was a longshoreman…and the work stopped. I spent about 6 months trying to figure out what I was going to do. I was watching TV one night, and I saw one of the guys from TAPOUT doing a commercial for self-help CD…I think it was Tony Robbins. He mentioned how much TAPOUT was making and I just keep thinking about that…I never bought the CDs or anything like that, but it did get me thinking about starting my own business. The more I thought about it, the more I liked it, and I had a family to think about.
A few weeks later a friend of mine mentioned that he knew a person that was selling some screen printing equipment, and if I knew anyone who would want it. I told him I did, and I knew that’s what I wanted to do, be my own boss, and work hard for myself for once instead of someone else. A couple of weeks after that I got a call from the Cro-Mags asking if I knew anyone who could do merch. Ever since then it has been great. I’ve done merch for tons of local bands: Colors, All Your Might and more popular bands like Ignite, and Nations On Fire. I’ve done some re-issues from older local bands as well…and out of state bands like Fathom Down of course the Cro-Mags. Clothing companies and skateboard companies make up a lot of my business as well. I never realized how many people I know who need shirts…It’s awesome.
Let’s talk Cro-Mags. How did you get hooked up doing all their west coast merch? Who does the designs? Any classic Cro-Mags shirt you’d love to re-print? How’s JJ been to work with?
One day, when the Cro-Mags were coming to California to play some shows, they called me to ask if I knew anyone who did merch. I told them I did, but I had literally just started to screen shirts. I was about 2 weeks into it when they called. The designs come from either John or Mackie, they have friends that will do their artwork. Fans sometimes will send those guys some art, and they will use that as shirts too…only if the people say it’s cool. I finally got them to do the black and white AOQ shirt this last tour. I loved that shirt, and so did a lot of people. I keep getting asked by everyone if they were going to have it on this tour, and I finally got to say yes.
The other one was the original AOQ shirt that they has back on the Motorhead tour…we got to do that one too for this last tour…that one’s rad. Working with John Joseph has been awesome. He has to be one of the nicest people I have ever met, he truly cares about people. He’s written a book called Meat Is For Pussies, which should be out in April 2010, and he wrote it to help people understand about the foods they put in their bodyies. He truly has respect for the human race. When I’ve gone on tour with them John always sits in the front with me, and he makes everyone in the van die of laughter…the stories he tells are crazy. He has been around for a long time. One of my favorite stories is when he went to see Fear on Saturday Night Live.
Well, I haven’t missed a Cro-Mags show in Southern California since 1986 when they played with Motorhead. Back in ’86…seeing the Cro-Mags was the greatest thing in the world…John Joseph was going crazy, and it seemed like they played the whole album from start to finish. I wasn’t too up on my music chops back then, but they seemed to play really good. When I saw them on the 1990 “Down But Not Out” Tour, Harley was the lone singer, and it didn’t have the energy that they did in ’86, but the sound was awesome. Everything was dialed in and perfect.
Now that I’m older, and I know my way around music, I can say that the 2010 version is the best version to see. With Mackie on drums, it sounds exactly like AOQ…and John Joseph acts like he has more energy now then he did back in the 80’s (the way John Joseph eats, he just might have more energy…Vegan). With AJ from Leeway on guitar, there is just no one better to play Cro-Mags songs…and my main man Craig form Sick Of It All on bass…and we know how good he is. With all 4 of them together it has to be the best version of the Cro-Mags so far.
Favorite track off Age Of Quarrel and favorite track off Best Wishes and why?
We Gotta Know…Just the rhythm of the sticks counting at the beginning will make me go crazy. I can never get sick of that song…it has all the elements a Hardcore song needs. The best intro in the history of intros, and then the song speeds up to a perfect rhythm to mash around to. The lyrics fit exactly with the song…what else could you sing about with that song…”Struggling in the streets just trying to survive, searching for the truth is just keep us alive, gotta break these shackles gotta break these chains…”
Crush The Demoniac off of Best Wishes…that ending of the song is out of hand. When he’s yelling, “Got to kill, got to fight got to crush the demoniac”…I love that. I feel that song could have been on AOQ.
Anything you want to get out there regarding the screen printing company? Contact info, etc.?
If anyone wants to get shirts printed, by someone who knows about Hardcore…I’m your man. If you have any questions at all, you can call me, text me or e-mail me. You can also contact us on Facebook, and myspace: AC Silk Screen.
Monday, May 3, 2010
I still remember the first time I heard these lyrics:
“Standing alone, feeling the dark, screaming so loud my throat goes dry. Clawing the dirt, pawing the door, the path so hard to find. Feel the fire burning inside of me. Taste the pure desire of the need to be free.”
“Remember” by Endpoint somehow described every ounce of my very being as a teen. My glasses were a little too big, my clothes a little too baggy, my personality a little too awkward. I had recently graduated from high school but was completely uncertain about my future. I had moved to my town in Illinois from North Dakota a couple years previous and missed my childhood friends. I had no one to confide in, no one to take advice from. I felt utterly alone.
I took some college classes, worked at a local ice cream store, and went to see as many bands as possible at our area coffeehouses and VFW Halls. I was staying afloat, but was directionless. And I didn’t want to keep going.
I never went as far as trying to end my life. I certainly thought about it, but I was just as afraid of death as I was of life.
In 1994 I met a group of friends who were to become like family. They embraced me for who I was – with all of my insecurities and frailties. We were brought together by hardcore and it was the most exciting thing in the world. I started playing in a band with some of them. I suddenly had a social life. We did everything together – went to shows, practiced, helped each other deliver newspapers, watched videos of old-school pro wrestling pay-per-views. We were inseparable, and I was starting to feel like I belonged.
The oldest guy in the group of friends was sort of our “hardcore mentor.” He made us this (now classic) mix tape that we all dubbed from one another. We all had sought out hardcore on our own and had already heard many amazing bands, but this guy (Greg Thompson) was like the hardcore Quentin Tarantino. He had every record, knew seemingly every word to every song (no matter how cliché or inane). His record collection was like a gold mine!
Duncan and Chad hair it up with Endpoint, Photo: Chris Bennett
One band I remember hearing on this important mix-tape was Endpoint. I remember asking Greg, “Hey, what’s with the singing?” I guess I had become used to hardcore vocalists who just screamed. He just smiled and passed me a copy of their album, Catharsis.
“Give it a chance,” he said.
I took it home and put on my headphones. I was riveted. Those surging, rapid-fire opening chords to “Caste” and Rob Pennington’s vocals were like an alarm clock inside my brain. It awakened something inside of me.
Then came “Remember,” the song quoted above. As I followed along I noticed feelings I’d never felt building inside of me. It was strange. Normally I kept everything bottled up inside. Suddenly, I felt a tear roll down my cheek. I could completely identify with the lyrics.
Looking back, a lot of my misery was my own fault. I allowed life to happen to me instead of making life happen for me. For whatever reason I felt helpless and hopeless. But as I heard this song, something inside of me changed.
Someone out there understood, and things were going to be okay.
I played the rest of the record and was enthralled. The music was really unique: a blend of emotionally raw punk rock, melodic, Dischord-style post-hardcore, and a multitude of other musical influences, many of them stemming from their experiences in the extremely diverse Louisville music scene. What came out of their amps was as inspiring as it was abrasive. The emotion was practically dripping off the sleeve of the record.
Rob with Endpoint at The Wetlands, NYC, Photo: Angela Boatwright
Many talk about the times they saw people cry at Endpoint shows. Perhaps this has been a bit exaggerated over the years? Only those who were there know the truth. Whatever the case, I can understand why these feelings were evoked. They played music with their hearts and spirits torn wide open. When you reveal that much of yourself to others, you’re bound to inspire empathy – especially when you have such genuinely kind people playing the music.
Greg mentioned that Endpoint was from Louisville, KY. I’ll be honest, my first thought was, “Wow, these hillbillies can play some really great hardcore.” I know, I know. What’s a guy from North Dakota got on Kentucky, right? Admittedly it was a stereotype. But it was one I was ecstatic to have shattered.
As I continued to listen I noticed that song after song addressed social and political issues, but they did it in such a compassionate way. These weren’t diatribes – they were creating a personal dialogue. Some of the more militantly political bands of the time did such a great job of awakening people to so many important issues. But sometimes these bands failed to do one thing: You have to recognize the humanity in people before expecting them to change. Endpoint spoke about these important personal and political issues, but they measured the anger, sadness, and frustration with a healing salve of understanding and serenity.
Maybe most importantly, Endpoint showed me (and many others) that it was okay to hurt, but that we should take that pain and learn from it, grow, improve, and forgive (both others and ourselves). I hadn’t learned to do that yet, but perhaps Catharsis was my first lesson.
What sealed the deal for me was hearing “Maturity.” I’d already run the gamut of emotions listening to the record, but the following lyrics triggered something else:
“Deep inside is a soul, you haven’t felt for years. Open up and feel the warmth that dries away all the tears. Don’t be scared of growing old, just grow towards the sky. Don’t waste time lost in yourself or life will pass you by.”
Endpoint at Club Pandemonium, Newtown PA, Photo: Adam Tanner
I felt the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. It was as if someone pulled me up by the back of my shirt, gave me a big hug, and pointed me in a new direction.
It was time to put my life together.
From that point on I still wrestled with lots of ups and downs, as anyone does. But I finally realized I had the power to not allow life’s occasional pitfalls bring me down. I also now had a second family to lean on when the times got tough, which they surely did (and still do) over and over again. But I was now somehow stronger, braver, more aware of myself.
As the song says, I matured.
Fast-forward about 15 years…
My life, again, took a strange twist. The woman I loved for the past decade told me she doesn’t love me anymore.
Rob with an Endpoint sing along, Photo: Dave Mandel
The day she told me her feelings I went for a walk. The cold winter breeze chilled me to the bone. Freezing, I went to my car to take a break for a moment. I instinctually turned on the ignition and “Strings” from The Last Record burst out of my stereo. Tears formed when I heard these words:
“Nothing’s simple when you’re broken, strings are twisted, eyes are stolen and when I feel like dancing, there’s nothing left of me today. Nothing matters when you’re voiceless And nothing gets through this hardwood skin. And when I feel like dancing, there’s nothing left of me today. And it’s so hard to pick myself up, and it’s oh so hard when your strings are twisted And I sit here waiting to be untied. I sit here waiting…”
This has been the hardest experience I’ve ever gone through. But I know I’m strong enough to move on. I know that I have the choice: either lie down passively and wallow in sadness and fear or pick myself up and, tenderly, take some steps forward day-by-day.
How am I so sure I can make it? I’m reminded of “Inside” and suddenly feel like I’m soaring:
“Melt the ice that has so long bound you, for your life has just begun Youth for you was oh so hard; I wore a mask to hide the scars. It took so long for me too see. I don’t want you to hurt like me. The truth is so damn hard to find. I spent my days lost in my mind, but now I reach toward the sky. So soar little boy, soar so high. Spread your wings, learn to fly, set your soul free before you die.”
Music has been like school for me. It has helped change my personal and political outlook; it’s caused me to empathize, learn, progress, reflect, and grow. It’s helped me realize who I am and who I aspire to be.
Rob, Duncan, Chad, Kyle, Lee, Pat, Jason, Rusty, and anyone else who played in Endpoint: Thank you for allowing me to take your class. I never would have graduated without you.
Endpoint is playing reunion shows to benefit their good friend Jason Noble (Rodan, Rachel’s, Shipping News) on May 14th and May 15th at Headliner’s Music Hall in Louisville, KY.
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