ARCHIVES – more older posts (18)
May 15th, 2012 by Larry

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

“Credit Given Where Credit’s Due” by Dan O’Mahony 

Dan O speaks, Photo: Jeff Terranova

I’d gone roughly ten years without factoring this music or this underground into my thinking. By that I mean that Hardcore had lost a lot of its relevance for me (truthfully it could never again occupy the space it did in my teens, not for me, not for most). My feeling was that at its essence this movement was largely counterproductive, a study in preaching to the choir. It seemed to me that the high mindedness of this music’s social agenda was largely a charade, a stance primarily adopted in spaces hidden from view and rarely expressed in the real world. Did I have a point? Sure. Did that point validate ignoring all the beauty in this space? No, not really.

For those of you familiar with my past, you might find it ironic that saying “no” has never really been my strong suit. I have an exaggerated distaste for disappointing people. So it was that when the request came down via Joe Nelson to participate in a panel discussion that he was arranging to help out the Radio Silence boys and their L.A. release party at the Niketown Theatre in Hollywood, I agreed. Not to give the impression that I had to be dragged kicking and screaming, it’s just that I had no intention of promoting my presence, hyping the thing, or expecting much to come of it. Dumb, dumb, dumb.

Dan at the mic, Photo: Jeff Terranova

Surreal is an understatement. My old bandmate’s leather jacket was displayed in the lobby. Displayed in a glass museum case accompanied by a security guard that is. People I habitually refer to as kids passed by with their male pattern baldness and 40 inch waistlines. A studio setting photo session was conducted on what would be the balcony level, complete with professional lighting, a neutral backdrop, etc. Nothing about this was spelling out HARDCORE to me, not the corporate naming rights on the building, not the drummer’s foul weather gear as an art exhibit, certainly not the Annie Leibowitz flashback going on upstairs. Then the panel was assembled. None of us had a particularly concrete understanding of who we’d be sitting with.

It’s not a group you could have or would have gotten together 20 years ago. Along with the creators of the Radio Silence book were amongst others Jason Farrell of Swiz, John Roa of Justice League, John Joseph of the Cro-Mags, Gavin Oglesby of No For An Answer, and myself (yeah, NFAA had the numerical advantage!). It wasn’t until they sat us all down facing a full house of music fans waiting patiently to hear Mr. Joseph scream “We Gotta Know” that I started to feel something.

The questions asked by both Nelson and the audience were intelligent, topical, and occasionally amusing. The sarcasm I’d feared was completely absent. Most importantly to me it was the first time in more than a decade that I’d addressed a large group and left feeling that they had some idea what the fuck I was talking about. Sure, there were people on that stage and in that crowd I’d rather not share a cab with, but we had context in common. There was none of what a close friend of mine describes as “trying to explain hardcore to a ‘civilian.'” My rambling about social responsibility and trying to find an appropriate venue for my sociopolitical values system wasn’t greeted by mouth breathing and blank stares. Nothing that any of us had to say was greeted in that fashion and it sent a chill up my neck and over my temples when it occured to me how rare that is in everyday life.

Jordan Cooper, Dan O, Popeye and Evan Jacobs at the first spoken word, Photo: Larry Ransom

On that stage, in that setting, my answer to the ever present “reunion question” spontaneously and unexpectedly ended with a “never say never.” Less than six months later my first recorded band and four other Orange County Bands spent one Sunday evening raising our voices to benefit an ailing stranger’s fight against cancer. You can’t whip that up that easily with a squad of bands 20 years defunct in too many other “scenes.”

Later that year I was given a shot to voice my take on days gone by on Double Cross. Given a shot to the tune of 7 installments! The worthiness of my rants occupying that much space can be debated (given the snark that permeates most message boards, I’m sure it was), but what cannot be debated or denied is that experience’s impact on me. It’s not as if an online interview parted the heavens, a light shown down, and a mission was reborn. I had in fact become more politically focused and motivated (but also more stifled and more frustrated) in the 11 years since I’d roamed this setting.

Still, credit must be given where credit is due. In offering a nod to the efforts of yesteryear, Tim and Gordo made obvious to me the silence that defined today. The Double Cross interview allowed me a long form source of reflection that the panel discussion did not. With each new emailed batch of questions, I found myself more and more enamored with the notion of placing the past in perspective while putting a mandate to myself “make something of the here and now.”

Dan interviewing a former elections analyst for the Latin America office of the National Endowment for Democracy, Photo: Ryan Langley

It’s not that we of the hardcore scene were preselected to save the world, it’s not that we have a right to expect to command any greater attention than anyone we pass on the street. It’s that we have first hand experience with being heard, we have intimate knowledge of the fact that truth can be heard and that silence lies.

For me it’s not another band, it’s not any more reunions. I’ve always been more verbally than vocally talented, and for that reason I’m writing again, I’m doing spoken word, I’m hosting live issue-driven forums on college campuses, I’m launching a website ( focused solely on art, interviews, and creative writing with a positive social agenda. I’m doing something with my values that couldn’t have happened without my history in this music and my connection to these people who love it so much. Credit must be given where credit’s due.


Monday, April 12, 2010

Rob Fish part II

Rob with Ressurection at Middlesex County College, Edison NJ, Photo: Justine Demetrick

What do you remember about the New Jersey hardcore scene, bands and venues of the late 80’s? Who and what stand out and why?

Middlesex County College – my first shows happened there. Husker Du, COC and the list goes on. PED (Post Ejaculation Depression), such an awesome band. The Adolescents/YOT show at Middlesex County College where Ari, AJ, Dale, Dan and a bunch of us broke into some drama class room and tried on ridiculous costumes and other mischief.

City Gardens – white power shitheads aside this was an awesome place for shows. I remember the Exploited/Vision show. It was Vision’s first show since all of the band quit, aside from the singer Dave, and they were awesome. The Exploited set was insane. Skinheads spitting and cursing them, American flags being waved, lots of fights all culminating in skins flipping the Exploited’s vehicle. Awesome.

Scott Hall – lots of amazing shows. Release’s first show was there. We had our first show booked for Oliver J’s in Allentown, PA on a Saturday. That Friday morning we get a call from someone who booked a show at Scott Hall that night with the False Prophets and Fifteen. The opening band had cancelled so they asked us to play. There was maybe 10 people there and we were HORRIBLE but it was still awesome because the False Prophets played. The drummer was really cool and told me he liked our set and talked to me about some straight edge bands he liked. Next night we played the show at Oliver J’s which was actually really good.

Stelton Rec Hall – some local shows happened there that were cool. I remember a show with some band called the Avenel Kids, who we were friends with, and some metal bands. There there was a hardcore vs. metal wall of death. Pretty ridiculous.

The NJ scene, aside from some White Power skinhead issues, was actually very different than NY. No violence or even a threat of it at all.

A lot of the scene, at least in Northern NJ, was also very active at CB’s. Most of my vivid memories come from CB’s. The Shutdown Show was epic. Saw Absolution and Raw Deal’s first shows, which was at the same show, with Krakdown and Sick Of It All which was just amazing. Absolution was the most powerful set I have ever witnessed. So much energy and balls. Raw Deal KILLED it. I remember the Warzone record release party. Skinhead dove feet first into my face. I was carried out with a broken nose and blood flowing everywhere. Skinhead walked over, asked me if I wanted him to fix my nose to which I responded yes and he proceeded to crack it back into place. To this day it is still crooked. And yet after Warzone finished I wandered over to their merch table, covered in blood, and Raybeez asked me what happened. I told him and scored a free shirt.

There were some awesome road trips and shows at the Club Pizazz, Anthrax and in Boston.

Rob with Ressurection at the first More Than Music Fest, 1993, Dayton Ohio, Photo: Josh Grabelle

How did you feel about the way things ended with Release and what was your state of mind when starting Ressurection? What were your original goals when Ressurection started? Talk about your first song, “Melting Away” and the motivation behind it.

At that point in my life the shit I went through as a kid really started to bubble up and I got disinterested in playing music. The rest of the band wanted to expand musically or whatever and I was just trying to hold it together. I was doing a lot of really stupid and crazy shit and started to become somewhat obsessed with death. Aside from my mother being very sick and close to death I just felt so lost, hurt, and unable to cope. I had started visiting Krishna temples in early ’89 and started to really get into that. Essentially I needed an escape. The concept of karma helped me to justify the abuse and other things I experienced as a young kid and the whole religious social setting let me grab onto something that felt bigger than me. It was an escape, a cop out in many ways but I needed it. I wouldn’t have survived without it. So it ended when I joined the ashram after graduating High School. We played 2 shows that summer but it was evident that we were no longer a band.

Ressurection started in Ari’s (Lifetime) room. I had just got a copy of the No Longer 7″ and Ari, Dan (Lifetime) and Catrine listened to it. I had just moved back to NJ after living in an ashram and was really down and had no direction at all. When we listened to the record I thought I sounded horrible but they were excited and told me I needed to do a new band. I laughed it off and said I wasn’t any good and they just kept pushing it and I finally said ok. It was Ari and Dan and I came up with the idea of including Zusi whom I hadn’t talked to in over a year and who had sort of dropped out of the scene. At our first practice we wrote Melting Away and that was that. A week later Ari, Dan and I went into a studio and recorded it. After this I met Dan H. and asked him to join the band and shortly after Crispy (Lifetime, Deadguy) joined on bass and we recorded a 7″.

After that Dan and Ari left the band to focus on Lifetime and Crispy went to college in Boston so Daly (Lifetime, 108, Texas Is The Reason, Jets To Brazil) and yet another Dan joined the band. Shortly after Zusi rejoined on second guitar and Crispy on bass. After a short West Coast Tour with Mouthpiece, Dan H. and Crispy left and Little Dave joined on bass. The lineup remained Daly, Zusi, Little Dave and I for the next few years until we broke up with Brian M. (Another Wall, The Van Pelt, Jets To Brazil) joining on to play second guitar towards the end.

As far as goals there really weren’t any except to play loud and noisy hardcore.

Rob with Ressurection at Middlesex County College, Edison NJ, Photo: Adam Tanner

What would be your favorite Ressurection songs and why?

Fuck Your Sympathy – it helped me express a lot of the hurt I saw when my Mother’s friends abandoned her when she got real sick. Watching my Dad trying to carry that weight on his shoulders and then be confronted with her old friends’ bleeding hearts when she died.

Why – in one sense I hated religion and the mindless dogma yet on the other hand I needed it to survive. Why was about trying to balance my need for something greater with my core feeling that religion was ultimately a disempowering thing in most respects.


What were your thoughts on the scene and the direction it was heading in the early to mid 90’s? What did you like about it and what could you have done without?

I guess my thought on ’90-’91 is just that between the violence and almost exclusive focuses within certain sub scenes things just imploded. The bands and kids who loved them “grew up” and got into other things and on the surface things just fell apart. It became about basements, garages and expression again versus dressing a certain way, whether or not you ascribed to a specific moral code, etc. All in all it was a good thing. New bands started to pop up and in many ways their focus was on being the polar opposite of what had just imploded. All in all I think it was pretty awesome albeit different than what I loved about the scene from ’85-’89. I will take “politically correct” and emo over the jockish, elitist and wannabe gangster crap that the scene had turned into.

In terms of the violence and “gangs” that really ruined some things, one of my favorite lines comes from Crispy’s thank you list on the first Ressurection EP: “Just little boy actors saying big boy lines.”

While my favorite bands are from an earlier era my appreciation for the scene from ’91-’96 is very positive.

The final Ressurection line-up, Photo courtesy of: Rob Fish

Being Straight Edge, becoming vegetarian and taking interest in Krsna Consciousness, at the time one would chalk a lot of that up to what Ray Cappo was talking about and doing with Youth Of Today and later, Shelter. Do you credit Ray for sending yourself in this direction or was there someone or something else that originally sent you down that path? Looking back, what are your thoughts on the influence Ray had and the impact he left?

I got my first Krishna book when Four Walls falling recorded their 7″ from their then bass player Caine. I already had a copy of the Bhagavad Gita, which I got from my school library (that library fine must be insurmountable by now) because it talked about karma, but it was little more than a translation of the text itself so not all that helpful to me. Eastern spiritualism was attractive to me because of the concept of karma. I really needed some way to process what I had experienced as a kid.

I had a love/hate thing with Ray. I loved YOT and admired his self confidence, mostly because I had none deep down, yet a the same time we never got along on a personal level. I remember a drive down to the Philly Temple with Lenny, Tim and Traci where I was to sit down with Ray and Vic to settle some issues that Ray and I had together. At the time I had decided I would rejoin 108, after having left the band after recording Holyname but before playing our fist show together. But, the issues Ray and I had with each other needed to be resolved.

I remember the whole drive down my anger growing. When we finally sat down I was very aggressive and angry which caught him off guard. I was able to point out how some really fucked up things he said about me were bullshit and made no sense. He was extremely apologetic which just made me more angry because why would he have said those things without ever really thinking them through? Still, by the end of the meeting, which lasted hours, I walked out with a new respect for Ray. He had been an asshole but he also took responsibility for it and apologized. I sure as hell had never been able to do anything like that. Also, considering all of the crazy shit I had actually done at one time or another certainly didn’t make anything people accused me of look all that unrealistic and I knew that. So at that point I gained respect for him and to this day, even if we are very different in most respects, I think he is a genuine, well intentioned, sincere person.

Rob fronting 108 in Oslo Norway, 1995, Photo: Ole

Sunday, April 11, 2010

What one hardcore/punk album has stood the test of time for you?

Brendan with SFA at The Pyramid, NYC, Photo courtesy of: Brendan Rafferty

Brendan Rafferty – SFA

What makes a record stand the test of time? Is it production quality? Standout songs?
Most of what I thought was great when I was a teenager hasn’t held up on repeat listening.

Or is it more about striking a personal chord and taking me back to a different time and place in my life when I listen to it?

I guess the true test of an album that stands the test of time is all of the above.

Victim In Pain was a great album at a pivotal period of my adolescence, but though it had some of the anthems of my youth, I have no desire to listen to it all these years later. The style and energy was raw, original, and went on to inspire countless imitators. But personally I’ve played it to death.

Albums that still get me going 25+ years later are the Reagan Youth album, the Avengers album on Cherry Disc and the Bad Brains album on ROIR cassettes.

This was a tough question because, in my mind, there were no completely perfect hardcore albums.

If you’d asked what 7″ stands the test of time, I wouldn’t have even hesitated in my answer. Articles Of Faith “What We Want Is Free” – four sloppy, low production, slightly out of tune…and absolutely perfect hardcore songs that absolutely captured the energy and the style of the 80s. As long as I played hardcore, I knew I’d never make a song more chaotically perfect than Bad Attitude.

Al, Vince and Darren with Edgewise, Photo courtesy of: Vince Spina

Al Spina – Edgewise

There are a few that come to mind, but the one that would exemplify this the best would be Bad Religion’s “Suffer”. I first discovered punk rock through a friend’s older brother. He would drive us around before we could drive and he had tapes of The Clash, Black Flag, Adam And The Ants, Sex Pistols, etc…and we would listen to those in the car.

When I got my driver’s license in ’83, my work began to expand. I would save my money (heck, I made $3.35/hour at the Ground Round), and I would spend most of that money on records. I would go to the mall and buy stuff that simply looked punk or hardcore and there was a certain level of excitement or “newness” to every record I bought. I even got the AF Victim In Pain record at the Granite Run Mall!

Like anything else, some of that newness wears off, but when Suffer was released in the late 80s, I felt like that was the reason I got into punk and hardcore in the first place. Musically, I can still listen to it and it does not sound like it was recorded 20+ years ago, and like most of Bad Religion’s lyrics, they are well thought out and thought provoking.

Jason O’Toole with Life’s Blood’s first show at CBGB, 1988, Photo courtesy of: Mike Bullshit

Jason O’Toole – Life’s Blood

“Los Angeles” by X (1980) is a timeless hardcore punk record: It’s influenced by the punk, rockabilly and country artists of generations before them, and will surely influence generations of musicians to come. Lyrically, X set the bar high. Listening to this as a kid in Upstate NY, I felt that I had a pretty good idea of what life was like in urban Southern California.

X was a jumping off point for me – DAYS after I first heard it, I would seek out their musical influences beyond punk rock, from Leadbelly to Hank Williams to Johnny Cash to Carl Perkins, as well as their literary influences, the hard-boiled detective novels of Ray Chandler and the confessionalist writing of Charles Bukowski. It’s a journey I am still undertaking.

The lyrics I wrote and co-wrote for Life’s Blood (1987) are in part informed by the raw, dark energy that lives in these John Doe/Exene Cervenka ballads.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Double Cross on Facebook

The CB’s crowd during a Vision set, Photo: Ken Salerno

As we move well into our two-year mark here at DCXX, we’re gonna try to hit you with all sorts of content on a daily basis. Be on the lookout for weekend posts from now on, and if you haven’t been following us on Facebook, get on board. We’ve been busting out photos, videos, and polls there for you to check out between our nightly entries here on the site. It’s also cool to see who is digging what we are up to and getting some feedback.

With the content we’ve piled up over the last couple years, there’s tons of stuff in the archives that’s worth a look if you are newly on board or missed it the first time around. Check out the full list of archives on the right side of the page, or search for whatever you are after using the function at the top of the page.

Lastly, if you have anything you want to send over or have any good ideas, fire away. We are always down to get people involved and keep this train a rollin’.

Thanks for reading! -Gordo/Tim DCXX


Danzig’s first show at City Gardens, Photo: Ken Salerno


Richie lends a hand during an Underdog set at City Gardens, Photo: Ken Salerno

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

7 Seconds poll reviewed plus Kevin Seconds Test of Time album

Classic era 7 Seconds, Photo: Joe Henderson

Looks like “Skins, Brains and Guts” won by a whopping 6 votes, not quite the blow out poll that we’re used to here at DCXX. I went with “Skins” as well, could have gone with “Committed For Life”, but for whatever reason, a few of the tracks off “Skins” were stuck in my head and that’s where my vote went.

7 Seconds are a band that we haven’t talked about enough here on DCXX, but in terms of importance and where they rate on my personal list, they are way up there. As cliche as it may sound, few bands bleed positivity like 7 Seconds. The fact of the matter is that they heavily influenced just about every single one of my favorite hardcore bands and have left a lasting impression on so many individuals. Our hats go off to Kevin and the boys. – Tim DCXX

7 Seconds – “Skins, Brains and Guts” 116
7 Seconds – “Committed For Life” 110
7 Seconds – “Blasts From The Past” 19

Steve Youth and Kevin Seconds, Photo: Joe Henderson

With the continuation of our running entry on What hardcore/punk album has stood the test of time for you, Kevin Seconds had this to say…

Kevin Seconds – 7 Seconds

All of the stuff Minor Threat did, for sure. There was something so insanely fresh and sharp about the production quality of those EPs, despite it being recording on 4 or 8 tracks. Everything was just raw, tough and punchy sounding and it didn’t sound like anything else. Still doesn’t.

I know an EP isn’t an album but they all were bunched up and released as an album so…screw it.


7 Seconds at City Gardens, Photo: Ken Salerno

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


Originally formed in 1995, Floorpunch really made a splash in the hardcore scene that would continue until the end of the decade when they broke up. In 2007 they reunited and have been playing here and there since, even touring Europe recently. Whatever you might think about them, they played a major part in helping to jump start the “hardcore revival” of the mid/late nineties, and really professed a love for NYHC in a way a lot of straight edge bands of that era hadn’t. Without question, they’ve left a big impact even on today’s current hardcore scene.

Here’s part 1 of our interview with guitarist Chris Zusi and drummer Mike Kingshott. Expect more! -Gordo DCXX

Floorpunch in Philadelphia, Photo: Zac Wolf

To start things off and work backwards, you guys just got back from Europe – how was it? What seems to have changed in specific countries and cities from when you were there ten years ago? How did touring personally change for each of you this time around with the inclusion of bigger job responsbilities, travel costs, families, etc?

Zusi: Europe was a good time. The shows were great and all of the kids we met were awesome. We met so many kids who either saw us the last time we were there or said they missed us and had been waiting 10 years to finally see us. There were kids who drove 10-15 hours to some of the shows. I had more than one person tell me that it was a dream come true to be able to see us play. I know that may sound corny, but it was genuine and it really affected me to hear people say that. It just made me think a lot about hardcore and how much it’s meant to me over the past 23 years. Add to that the fact that we got to play all of the shows with True Colors and I couldn’t have asked for a better time.

Everything about this tour was very different from the last time we were in Europe. Being there for a week instead of a month, being 39 instead of 29, having a van with heat, etc. I just think we’re all older, and had a better idea of what to expect. That was the biggest difference. The first time we were in Europe we didn’t know what we were getting into. You have all of these expectations but you really don’t have any idea of what it’s really like until you do it. People who aren’t into hardcore hear that I was in Europe for a week and they think it was like a vacation (“Hey kids, Big Ben, Parliament”). They don’t understand that, especially when you’re only there for a week, your day is spent driving to the venue, you get there, unload, set up, eat, and then maybe you have an hour or two of free time. It’s not like we spent our days being driven around to see tourist attractions. So I think we were better mentally prepared for Europe this time around, plus we all just wanted a vacation from our families (my wife’s not going to see this, is she?).

Kingshott: Europe was amazing. I had so much fun this time. I think we all did. The shows were all good, even the weekday shows, which was cool because last time some of the random weekday shows sucked. I think one of the funniest things that happened was when Cooper farted when we were in line at the airport when we first arrived and some lady turned around really pissed off, and Cooper blamed it on me hahaha.

Zusi with Floorpunch in Philly, Photo: Zac Wolf

Obviously FP has been back on the map for a little while now after being officially broken up for the better part of the decade. What took so long for the band to get back together? What was the catalyst for making FP a regular band again? What has changed over that period of time while the band was broken up for each member, and how has the HC scene changed in your eyes?

Zusi: For me it was a case of absence makes the heart grow fonder. I think when we broke up we were all burnt out. We had just come off of a tour of the US and then a European tour. We’d been playing every weekend for 4 years and we all just needed a break from each other and hardcore. In that time a lot of life changes happened for everyone, you get married, start a family, get older, etc. So, for me, hardcore kind of took a back seat. We were all still friends, but there wasn’t really a reason to start playing again. We had offers throughout the years but it was just never right from a timing perspective.

I guess once we did the Redcheeks benefit it kind of started the ball rolling. For me it was exciting to hear those songs at practice, and it almost seemed as though we never missed a beat. I would definitely not classify FP as a regular or full time band at this point. This thing has a beginning and an end, and we’re a lot closer to the end then we are the beginning. As far as how the HC scene has changed, I don’t know if it has. Obviously “hardcore” is more widely known now than it was when FP was a full time band, but I’m not going to be the grumpy old man who says, “Things were better back in my day” (although they were). The hardcore scene is always going to evolve and I just hope it means as much to the young kids today as it did to me when I was younger.

Kingshott: I wouldn’t say we’re back on the map or even back together. We just wanted to have some fun with a few shows and a small tour so we did. Not much has changed for me. I just love playing the drums still so I was glad to do this again. That’s all I do – just work and play my drums LOL. Everyone else has done the marriage and kids thing in the last ten years, sellouts!

Porter with FP in Philadelphia, Photo: Zac Wolf

FP came along at a time in 1996 when there was a real upswing of bands playing a more traditional style of late 80s inspired HC. Some would even say FP was one of the very few to be doing this at the time. Now, there are dozens and dozens of bands doing this. What do you think about that? Would you say FP had any hand in that?

Zusi: Let’s not be modest Tim, Mouthpiece deserves all of the credit for sticking to their guns and playing what we all would consider “hardcore.” As for FP, we were just taking your lead and running with it. If Mouthpiece was the Bold/Chain of 1996, FP wanted to be the Judge/Breakdown/Raw Deal. I can’t really comment on what’s going on in the scene today because outside of a few bands I honestly don’t know. However, I’ll say this – if dudes love that late 80’s NYHC style and are influenced by that then I’m all for it.

Kingshott: I would say we definitely played a part in the late 80’s inspired HC thing being a big part of HC all over again. I’m proud of that because it wasn’t really around in 1995. Bands just didn’t want to play fast anymore for some reason. But at the same time I don’t think many bands since then do/did it that well. I heard a Verse record once and thought it was like the worst HC record I ever heard, terrible, they sucked. But I really did like the band True Colors that we toured Europe with. For an edge band they were fucking heavy.


Coming off of that last question, FP was also a band that made their love for NYHC bands like Straight Ahead, Breakdown, and Raw Deal very known. Prior to this, you didn’t see a lot of young SE kids really going bonkers for these bands. These bands have gained increased popularity amongst young SE kids ever since, and in a way, you could trace this to FP. Thoughts?

Zusi: I would definitely agree with this. I have always loved NYHC, I didn’t care if a band was straight edge or not. My edge is as strong as they come, but I was never threatened or insulted by a band that wasn’t straight edge. To me, if their music was awesome, their message sincere, and they had mosh parts, I was all for it. I’d say our biggest influences as a band were Judge, Raw Deal, Breakdown, and the Cro-Mags. So what if only one of those bands was edge, they were all great bands.

Kingshott: Yeah I think that’s awesome that kids have finally woken up and like Breakdown more than Bold. It’s an obvious fact that bands like Breakdown and Raw Deal blew the doors off weak ass bands like Bold, give me a fucking break!!!!

Kingshot with FP in Philly, Photo: Zac Wolf

FP was a notoriously vocal SE band. You guys have come under a little fire at times for not being an “all SE members” band now. What do you think about this? What role does SE play in the band compared to when you were originally around? Is being vocal about SE still important to FP?

Zusi: Tim and Gordo, asking the questions everyone wants to hear. This is going to be interesting to hear everyone’s thoughts on this. I’ll refer back to my previous answer – my edge is strong, I’ve been straight edge for over 23 years now, so being vocal about the edge will always be important to me. With that said, if I’ve learned anything over these years it’s that I can influence more people by my actions and friendship then by turning my back on them. One thing I will say, because I know a lot of people are skeptical of “reunions” (especially edge bands) – and this is going to be hard to understand if you’re not a musician, but finding the right group of guys to do a band with is not easy. Sometimes it just clicks, and that’s very rare. With FP, we were all on the same page musically. We could write a song every practice, it just came that easily. As far as the role of straight edge in the band I’ll say this – Porter wrote all of the lyrics, is the face of the band, and he’s still edge so as long as we play shows we’ll be vocal about straight edge.

Kingshott: Everyone knows Zev and I are not edge anymore and no one cares. If people wanna talk shit about FP not being a full SE band anymore they can suck a dick because it really doesn’t matter. And we’re not even back together so that’s another reason it doesn’t matter. No one would personally or publicly ever talk shit to us about it because no one has the balls to. The 5 of us are still friends and still into rocking the fuck out of a HC show together and that’s all that really matters.

Zev and Bill with FP in Philly, Photo: Zac Wolf

Let’s go back to the beginning of FP. A lot of young fans weren’t around the first time. Who was the FPC (Floorpunch Crew)? What did you guys do outside of the band in terms of hanging out? How do you remember the climate of the NJHC scene at the time when FP got together? What did it feel like back then when the demo came out and FP started to take off as a serious band?

Zusi: It’s hard to believe that was 15 years ago. What I remember most about that era was the good times we had. It seemed like every weekend we were playing/going to shows or just hanging out. It didn’t matter if it was Boston, CT, NJ, Philly, DC or Virginia Beach, chances were on any given weekend we were in one of those areas. If there wasn’t a show we’d just hit the boardwalk or AC or hang out at Body Art World all day, or eat. Of course it was a lot easier when we weren’t married and didn’t have kids.

As much as people complain about hardcore in the mid 90’s, I think it was a great time for hardcore. I may not have been a huge fan of a lot of the bands of that time, but there were shows pretty much every weekend and it seemed as though the torch had been passed in a way. My friends and people I knew had all started bands, started doing zines, and putting on shows and it just seemed like it was now “our” scene. I don’t mean in the sense that we were running things or controlling things, just that each of us were involved in some aspect of keeping the scene going so we felt a stronger responsibility for what was going on. With that context it was a great feeling when we put out the FP demo and the buzz started really building. We just felt as though we had a lot of momentum behind the band and that allowed us to play a lot of shows with bands that we loved in front of a lot of kids. It was really a fun time.

Kingshott: Well in ’95 we didn’t know what to expect. When we played a few shows we realized this band was going to be sick, and it was. The crew was fun, it was mainly the band, Little Dave, Scott Davis, Greg Tomczak, Steve Lucuski, Hornecker, Poland, Chiarini, Dave Murphy, Steve McVey, Lil Zev, Jeremy, Summers…those were my boys but the list goes on and on. From our very first show the band was a success and still is today.

Zusi and Porter with FP in Philly, Photo: Zac Wolf

Monday, April 5, 2010

Gang Green – Alcohol

A video like this posted on a site like Double Cross, done by two straight edge guys might seem a bit strange, but the truth of the matter is that I love this friggin’ song. I first remember hearing Gang Green’s “Another Wasted Night” LP on a tape that was passed around and found it’s self in my Walkman, sometime between 1986 and 1987. One side of the tape was the Gang Green LP and the other side was DYS “Brotherhood”. I listened to both albums extensively and found myself singing along at full volume to the lyrics “Straight mind, razor edge, firm footing on a social ledge” as well as “You’ve got the beer, we’ve got the time, you’ve got the coke, gimmie a line”. Obviously I ended up finding more of a connection to the lyrics of DYS, but still enjoyed the hell out of Gang Green. Even got myself one of those Gang Green “Budweiser” shirts, “Skate all day, drink all night”. Somehow or another, although I’ve had many opportunities, I’ve never gotten around to seeing Gang Green live. Considering they’re still playing around, I’m sure I’ll get the chance. Until then, I’ll keep blasting “Another Wasted Night”, singing along to “Alcohol” as well as all the other great tracks (yeah, even their version of Til Tuesday’s “Voices Carry”… which friggin’ rocks!) and occasionally wearing the Budweiser shirt. No doubt about it I can’t live with out it… -Tim DCXX

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Skip – Hogan’s Heroes on what HC/punk albums stand the test of time for him

John, Skip and George with Hogan’s Heroes at City Gardens with Token Entry, Justice League, Uniform Choice, 7 Seconds. August 2,1987.

Man this question had me thinking more than it really should. My first answer ended up being my last. Trust me, I busted out my vinyl, went through ’em all. Had such a mental debate I almost had a headache, even found myself thinking about it while I was trying to fall asleep.

I’ll break it down like this, honorable mentions for me anyway are (in no particular order) Minor Threat, 7 Seconds “Walk Together Rock Together,” Nip Drivers “Oh Blessed Freak Show,” T.S.O.L. “Dance With Me,” Bad Brains “Rock For Light,” Black Flag “Damaged,” Dead Kennedys “Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables…these albums I love the same way as the first time I heard them. But, it came down to two, which really sucked because I still listen to both on a regular basis and when I put ’em on I have the same gut feeling, the same increase of pulse, the same rush of energy as the first time I put the needle on the record. I still can’t control myself without raising a fist or trying to sing along.

These two would be The Cro Mags “Age Of Quarrel” and The Bad Brains “I Against I.” Age Of Quarrel starts off with 3 songs that to me are the best first three songs ever recorded. They flow seamlessly into each other and carry such a fucking energy that even now it is impossible to be still. I don’t think I ever listened to that album and did not go word for word with John for at least those three songs before I settled down enough to listen like “normal” people do. Especially after, to me, one of the greatest intros ever.

Skip and George with Hogan’s Heroes at City Gardens with Gorilla Biscuits, Icemen, Burn. August 26,1990. Photo: Ken Salerno

If there is one intro as good or better, it would be on my pick for the best album of all time – Bad Brains “I Against I.” The first time I heard that intro into I Against I it blew my fucking head off. I thought, “Holy shit these guys are fucking musical monsters and they devour music and spit it back out into nothing else I’ve heard before and have heard since.” The whole album is a masterpiece in every way from lyric to the mix – it is flawless. Much has been documented on the influence of the Bad Brains throughout the “musical” world but this album touched more than musicians that became famous and wore the lightning bolt shirt on MTV or gave props in Rolling Stone, it made fucking kids fly throuh the air and bounce off the walls in clubs, cars, or alone in there room.

I remember waiting in line outside City Gardens in Trenton to get in to see them on the I Against I tour and hearing them soundcheck Return To Heaven. The building was shaking, everyone was freaking out cause it was just a matter of time before that album came alive. And it did, it fucking did. Bad Brains I Against I. If you don’t got it, get it. If you do, I think you probably agree..but then again what the fuck do I know.

John and Skip with Hogan’s Heroes at City Gardens with Gorilla Biscuits, Icemen, Burn. August 26,1990. Photo: Ken Salerno

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Weekend Post: H.R. – Bad Brains

Continuing with our weekend posts on some of the genre’s most prolific frontmen (Rollins, Danzig), it was only logical to continue and now bring up the man, the myth, the legend…the enigma shrouded in dreadlocks: H.R.

99% of us will never know exactly what the deal is with H.R., and I’m not sure we even have to. What we do know is that the Bad Brains are likely the most influential band to ever come out of the world of punk and hardcore. When you read the list of major players that cite the Bad Brains as an influence (or even moreso, call them the best band ever, especially in a live setting), everyone else seems to take second place.

If you’ve met H.R., you’ve walked away with a story, even if the details are minute. If you’ve seen practically any version of the Bad Brains, you have a memory. And if you’ve ever really listened to them, you’ve realized they were/are on a totally different planet than most of us, and we’ll never even be able to fully comprehend.

So, what’s your H.R. story? What version of Bad Brains have you seen? Favorite record? And what’s your take on this mad genius?

Hope everyone has a great weekend. -Gordo DCXX



Thursday, April 1, 2010

Rob Fish – Release / Ressurection / Judas Factor / 108

Rob with Release in DC, Photo courtesy of: Greg Shafer

When we first started Double Cross two years back, one of my original goals was to get an all encompassing, comprehensive interview with Rob Fish. Not only is Rob a guy who holds very little back, which makes for a great read, but he has also been doing hardcore bands for the better part of twenty something years. Whether it’s the late 80’s with Release, the early 90’s with Ressurection and 108, the late 90’s with the Judas Factor or the 2000’s again with 108, if you’ve been around, chances are that you’re well aware of Rob and at least one of his bands.

I first met Rob sometime during the summer of 1989, he was playing in Release and I was doing Common Sense Fanzine. At the time, Release were one of my favorite hardcore bands happening in New Jersey. A year or so later my band Mouthpiece ended up playing one of Release’s last shows and I remember talking to Rob quite a bit that night. From there on out, Rob and I ended up keeping in touch. From those Release days and into the early days of Ressurection, Rob really became a huge influence and inspiration to me. Not only was I way into the bands he was doing and had done, but I really respected and appreciated his dedication to hardcore and straight edge through the dark days of the early 90’s. Some people tend to credit Mouthpiece for emerging out of those dark days and waving that straight edge flag high when it wasn’t the cool thing to do, but trust me, Rob was a major catalyst for what I went on to do.

So without any further delay, here’s part one of our interview with Rob Fish. Expect many installments of this massive interview, covering the New Jersey Straight Edge, Release, Ressurection, 108, The Judas Factor, and more. Thanks Rob! -Tim DCXX

Release at The Anthrax, Norwalk, CT., 7/7/1989, Photo courtesy of: Greg Shafer

When and how did you discover punk/hardcore and what drew you to it?

I first got glimpses of punk/hardcore in 6th and 7th grade through friends that started getting into skateboarding as well as just listening to college radio. Hip hop, which was the music I was into at the time, wasn’t on mainstream stations. On the college stations I got a glimpse of punk here and there, but at that point I just wasn’t all that interested as I had no idea what it was about.

On my fist day of High School in 1985 I had a woodshop class with this kid I knew when I was younger who had become a total metalhead. We talked about music and as we described what it was we loved about the music we listened to we found a ton in common even though musically speaking you would have thought we were in different universes. I really believe that at that time, punk, metal and hip hop were incredibly similar as they all were, in some sense, youth protest music. Of course the sounds and social settings were rather different but in essence they were incredibly similar.

Anyhow, the kid gave me a tape of Black Flag “The First Four Years” and the Damaged LP and that was that. From then on I was obsessed with punk. The social setting was much more akin to my life and there was also a social circle locally that I could tap into more so than with hip hop music.

Rob hits the Anthrax crowd with Release, Photo courtesy of: Greg Shafer

What were some of your early favorite bands and why?

Loved and still love most of these same bands both because sonically they were pretty damn amazing and emotionally they really helped me find and feel somewhat secure in exploring my emotions.

Black Flag – to this day Chavo is my favorite vocalist. There is a desperation and urgency in his voice that is just mind blowing to me. Musically Black Flag is just as primal as it gets.

Dead Kennedys – thinking man’s punk rock. Perfect combination of music, politics, wit and humor.

Minor Threat – passionate, angry and thoughtful. As a young, confused and hurt kid Minor Threat gave me access to the whole idea of straight edge which was a good thing because things could have really gone south for me if I had entered into the world of drinking and drugs.

Rob and Scratch clean up some Release graffiti on the City Gardens wall, Photo courtesy of: Greg Shafer

What are some of your favorite memories from going to shows in those early days?

Excitement, fear, belonging – all wrapped in one. My first day of school, when my parents left, I jumped out of the window and tried to run home because I felt so awkward and out of place. I have always felt like that in most social situations. That didn’t disappear going to shows but it was different because in many ways it felt like 90% of the people there felt the same alienation I did.

Even the first shows at CBGB’s I went to, where I knew that someone could beat the shit out of me just because, I felt safe. I mean, at school everyone hates you and wants to kick your ass, or skateboarding down the street everyone hates you and wants to kick your ass. At CBGB’s they might feel the same way towards you but ultimately there was this sense of community. There was a sense of “us against the world” even though the scene was so diverse and in many ways somewhat divided.

For example, I sincerely doubt many of the Sunset Park Skins wanted to hang out with me and they may very well have decided at any moment to pummel me – yet there was still a sense of belonging because if I were standing outside of CB’s and someone from outside the scene were to say something, anything to me, those same kids would have reacted as if to protect their own. So while the scene may have been somewhat violent you still felt like you were a part of something and protected against the backdrop of a world where you felt like an outsider.

Release rock it in Maryland, Photo courtesy of: Greg Shafer

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Rich Labbate of Insted on the 3 records that stand the test of time to him

Rich with Insted, Photo courtesy of: Mikey Fastbreak

There are a lot of records that stand the test of time for me but after much thought and digging back to compare, I have to go with:

Bad ReligionHow Could Hell Be Any Worse

As decades have passed and my taste in music has expanded, I go back to this record and it STILL impresses me – even when I remove the sentimental value from it and analyze it from a musician’s standpoint. The music is aggressive, the sounds are raw yet melodic, and the lyrics are still relevant today. It blows me away that they wrote this record when they were teenagers in high school. Every single song moves me. There are no songs that I skip over and after thousands and thousands of listens, it still gets weekly plays from me. This was one of the first punk records I ever bought and truly is a hardcore/punk masterpiece.


Honorable mentions have to include:

Agnostic FrontVictim In Pain

From the shocking gatefold photos to the incredible live shot on the inside, the socially aware lyrics, and songs of unity. A-Z, these songs are classics that stand the test of time. When I think of NYHC this is the record that represents it to me. This record sounds just as rowdy as it did in 1985. Awesome!

Minor Threattwo seven inches on a 12” (Yes, I bought this as a 12”. I wasn’t there in 1981 when they originally came out). This record is timeless. I had to buy this record twice because I wore the 1st copy out from playing it so much. I recently bought a 3rd copy on colored vinyl just because it’s that incredible.

Those 3 albums get my vote. Many others are great but there might be just 1 songs or 2 that I find myself skipping. The above mentioned are pretty much PERFECT in my eyes. There are also plenty of records that have not stood the test of time and are just a memory.

Rich with Insted at the Country Club, Reseda CA, Photo courtesy of: Mikey Fastbreak

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Double Cross shirts back in stock

Just wanted to give a quick heads up to everyone that has contacted me within the past two weeks regarding the status of the DCXX shirts. The first batch came and went pretty quickly, so we just had a second batch printed up. That second batch is now in our hands and the DCXX webstore has been updated. For anyone that has already ordered and hasn’t received your shirts, they should be shipping this week. To those that were planning on putting an order in, the time is now. All those who order will receive our first DCXX newsletter and of course a sticker or two. Thanks for the support and keep tuning in. -Tim DCXX

Monday, March 29, 2010

Matt Henderson – Part VI, the final entry

Matt with Madball in 1995, Photo courtesy of: Matt Henderson

Here is the sixth and final installment in the massive Matt Henderson interview spanning his time in Blind Approach, AF, and Madball. This has been a really cool piece, be sure to check out the previous installments if you missed them.

MAJOR thanks to Nick Gregoire-Racicot who did this whole interview and was awesome enough to send it all to us. MAJOR thanks to Matt for all the photos, writing great tunes, and just being cool. Enjoy! -Gordo DCXX

Was there any label you wish you would’ve worked with but didn’t happen?

No. I am happy with what we did.

What’s the most important thing you learned while playing in Madball?

It’s hard to sum that up to be honest. All I can say is that we were and still are really like family, and being in that band is something that I am definitely proud of.

What was the best/worst thing about playing with Madball?

The best thing was when we played shows where everything really came together. There were a lot of shows where I felt like we were bringing something that really stood out and people appreciated it as much as we did. It was always the smaller clubs too, like the Wetlands in NYC or the Rat in Boston. The place would be packed wall to wall, all of our friends were there with us, it was hot as hell, and everybody was on the same page for those 45 minutes or so (we always played short sets).

The worst thing was when the stress of touring or other life issues would affect us as people and bring the band down. It happened from time to time.

Madball in Europe, 1994, Photo by: Daniel Holsten

I know it’s a weird question but, how important would you say Madball’s legacy is?

I don’t know if it’s a weird question, but it’s a difficult one for me to answer. I can say that I am damn proud of Madball, and I know that we mean something to a lot of people who make up the hardcore scene. I, along with the other members of the band, recognize and genuinely appreciate that but I don’t want to turn it into an ego thing. The people that appreciate Madball probably do so because they relate to us as people, like the sound of the music, and have the same list of favorite bands that we do. But the hardcore scene has a wide range of styles and the band doesn’t appeal to everyone for one reason or another, and that’s cool. I think Madball definitely has their place in “the scene” and that’s that. 

“NYHC”…all the bands you have played with claimed it. Tell us who you remember being THE key NYHC folks at different times (late 80s, early 90s, throughout the 90s and today)-

Well, remember I grew up in St. Paul, MN and that is where I was during the late 80’s when NYHC began to really define itself. Being from the Midwest, the bands that had the biggest impact were AF as the ones that put NYC on the map early on, and then Cro-Mags, WarZone, Murphy’s Law and Sick Of It All. Underdog was another band that made it out to MN that had an impact. There was Youth Of Today, I personally was not a huge fan musically, but they definitely helped put NYHC on the map. Killing Time never made it out to us but ‘Brightside’ was the shit and a huge influence on me later. If you ask the guys who are NYC natives they would include bands like Leeway, Rest In Pieces, and Breakdown, but they didn’t make it out to the Midwest and were not as much of an impact on me.

Once you get into the 90s you have to give props to Biohazard. Everybody knows that they didn’t come from the original CBGB’s matinee scene of the 80s or from the L.E.S., but they paid respect to all of that, took influence from it and did their own thing. In 1990 when their first record was out and I was in AF we would play a lot of shows together. I watched their first headlining show at the Ritz in ’92 and when the chorus to ‘Retribution’ kicked in I thought the floor was going to cave in.

In the mid-90s it was Madball, Crown Of Thornz, 25 Ta Life, Merauder, H20 and Bulldoze. Vision Of Disorder from Long Island and Life Of Agony from Brooklyn definitely did their thing too.

Can’t forget Sheer Terror…Paul is a NYHC institution and they were a great band. He and the band stretch a wide period in NYHC from the 80s thru the 90s.


In 1992, One Voice, Just Look Around and Urban Discipline all came out. It seems like you guys were all boys and the sound was often similar. Was that the case? Give us your opinion on the following:

Biohazard: early days to later on, how did NYHC people see them? Any good stories about them? Favorite record?

We were all friends on one level or another. I mentioned that Craig was real good friends with the SOIA guys, especially Armand, and SOIA and AF toured together a lot when I first joined AF so I got to know them pretty well, and we all hung out at the same places in the city. AF and Biohazard did a lot of shows together in those days and we would hang out at each other’s rehearsal studios, play demos for each other, etc.

The point about Biohazard to keep in mind is that I don’t believe they ever classified themselves as “hardcore.” They obviously were influenced by hardcore bands, and their style had hardcore elements to it, either lyrically or musically, but they were always their own thing. Early on when they were opening up for us I watched them play some great shows. If you listen to that first album I don’t think it does those songs justice. On record it didn’t make total sense to me but when I saw them do those songs live it was on. Eventually, more and more people caught on and when they headlined the Ritz, even the haters had to give them some respect after that because they killed it. Later on as they became more popular they were still friends of ours and made sure we all got in to their shows/backstage to chill, etc., and eventually we were opening for them. In my mind they were a band just trying to do their thing.

SOIA: favorite record?

My favorite SOIA record is Scratch The Surface by far. Right when I first heard that record I was really impressed by the production, the songs, everything. I know their first record is “a classic”, but honestly to me it sounds a little rough, as most band’s first records do. Just Look Around was a great record, but when Scratch The Surface came out it sounded like a band that had their shit down.

How do you see NYHC nowadays?

Because I am not in the city anymore it’s a hard call for me to make. AF and Madball still do it right in my opinion. The new Skarhead is slammin’, and a shot out to Setback NYC – they are the real deal for sure, and I know Bulldoze is playing out which is cool. Joey and Freddy have Black-N-Blue, doing shows and the radio thing so it seems like there is plenty going on but for a scene as a whole I can’t really comment because I am not there to experience it.

Matt and Freddy, 1993, Photo courtesy of: Matt Henderson

Who are the most important NYHC bands and why? What are some of the most underrated/overrated NYHC bands and why?

This response is going to be the most important NYHC bands “to me.” There is a long list of bands with different styles that came out of NYC but these are the ones that had the most impact on me. First is Agnostic Front. My friends and I were into ‘Victim in Pain’ long before “NYHC” was a ‘thing.’ It was just a great hardcore record in the collection, but it always stood out. I remember thinking the songs were amazing with the catchy chorus to the title song, ‘Facist Attitudes’ with the hard breakdown stomp and the slow, evil sounding ‘With Time’ was the shit. Then there was the inside of the record cover with Roger having the tattoo on his neck and the chain around his waist, Stigma with his chest-piece and Kabula wearing the “Skinhead” t-shirt.

And then the Cro-Mags came out and re-inforced the fact that New York had a style that was kicking the shit out of every other scene in the country. I think it wasn’t until WarZone with “Don’t Forget the Struggle, Don’t Forget the Streets” and Youth Of Today’s “Break Down the Walls” when “NYHC” was understood as a real sub-movement in American Hardcore, and by the summer of 1987 EVERYBODY was a skinhead and NYHC was the soundtrack for us.

Killing Time with “Brightside” was the band that added this metallic-groove to the music for me later. That record to me sounds like the city itself.

Finally, I have to throw Madball in there. We lived and breathed New York Hardcore and did our best to represent the good, the bad, and the ugly of it both on record and on stage.

Do you follow any modern HC bands? Anything that catches your ear out there? Things have changed a lot in the last two decades in our little HC world: what are the good/bad things about that?

I’m really not in the loop enough to comment much these days, but the contemporary bands that I dig are Terror and Death Before Dishonor. To me they sound like they have the same hardcore roots that I do but they still sound fresh and current. Trapped Under Ice is doing some cool shit too. I am going to turn 40 in a few months and I have seen a lot of cycles in hardcore and it is hard for me to tell if I’m the one that has changed or if hardcore has changed.

Then, there’s a lot of things that seem the same as they did 23 years ago and maybe some shit needs to change…but what I can tell you is that when I was a 17 year old kid the last thing I wanted to hear was some 40 year old motherfucker telling me what’s right or wrong about hardcore, so I don’t like to throw my opinion around too much. All I can say is if people are in it because they feel this is where they belong as a person and not because they like the way people dress than I’m all for it.

Madball and friends in Argentina, 1994, Photo courtesy of: Matt Henderson

Recording studio/guitar talk…When/how/why did you start doing Atomic Studio and why aren’t you doing it anymore?

When I left Madball I wanted to give recording/producing a try because I really enjoy doing it and saw it as my next move. I was friends with Dean Baltulonis who was in 454 Big Block and was also engineering at Salad Days in Boston and he was looking to get his own thing started so we teamed up. I asked Mike Dijan from Crown Of Thornz/Breakdown to join as well and we opened Atomic in 2000 in Brooklyn, NY. The problem for me was that I was having a really hard time with money and the studio could really only afford to pay one person. Dean was the best engineer by far so he was the guy with the full time position.

Owning a studio is hard because you need to keep business coming in to not only pay for the equipment and the space, but then also pay the people who run it, BUT nobody in hardcore has any fucking money so bands have a hard time paying for shit, and labels give you bullshit excuses and on, and on, and on. In the end I had to work a day job and let it go. Dean is still kicking ass though at Wild Artic in Long Island City, NY. He just did the new Skarhead and Trapped Under Ice and I think they sound amazing.

For the longest time, it looked like you used Jackson guitars…am I wrong? What has been your gear of choice through the many years you have played (amps, guitar, cab)?

Gear of choice, how about “gear I could afford.” To be honest my sound was a constant challenge. I will say that the Jackson was a good choice in guitars – I only owned one, and used it from 1992 to 1998 and it’s the only guitar I own today. To me it is the perfect cross between a Strat and a Les Paul. It’s got some weight to it and feels real solid so you can dig into it but its not too clunky, and it’s easier to play than a Gibson.

Amps and cabinets were always a hassle for me. I got stuck with the Marshall JCM 900 when I first joined AF because they stopped making the 800s. I had sold all my shit when I went to Boston for school and Roger was picking gear up for me in NY when I joined for the tour. He called me from Sam Ash and said “yo, they don’t make the 800s anymore and they have these 900s. Is that what you want?” I was like “yeah, I guess, it’s Marshall, what the fuck else am I going to get, a Fender combo?” Those amps sounded so shitty and I paid all this money that I didn’t even have yet, had to make it up on the tours, and I was miserable with them. I remember a few years later when I met Beto playing in DMIZE he had the 900 too and we shared our pain. I moved to a Mesa Boogie Mark IV for a minute after that which was cool, but it had inconsistent sound. Some nights it would sound amazing and other nights it sounded dry and weak. In the end the best sound I got was from a first generation Peavy 5150. If I could have afforded Mesa cabinets that would have been my choice because they handle low end much better than Marshalls which always break up and have too much mid, but Mesa cabs cost too much.

Scott and Matt with Blind Approach, 1988, Photo courtesy of: Matt Henderson

Who were your influences as a band and as a guitar player?

I have always been pretty all over the map as far as musical influences, but back then as a guitar player it was Eddie Van Halen, hands-down. I think that people take for granted today what he was doing back then, but I was actually listening to heavy music before “Eruption” came out, and when it did I was a drummer and it made me switch to playing guitar. I took lessons from this guy who used to be able to teach me any song off any record and when I played Eruption for him he was like “that’s gotta be done with a computer or synthesizer or something.” I dug other guitarists too, but EVH had the most impact. Later, as far as bands go: Cro-Mags, AF and Metallica were the biggest influences.

Agnostic Front ceiling art in Europe, 1992, Photo courtesy of: Matt Henderson

Also, after writing such quality solos on One Voice, I was always surprised that there wasn’t even one solo on any Madball record. Someone obviously made a conscious decision somewhere about not ever including them. Was the idea to clearly get away from the more metal sound? Did you ever miss it?

It was a conscious decision. I worked very hard to nail those solos on One Voice and I am proud of them, but I think that solos take away from the overall point of the song in hardcore. Solos in music can have soul for sure, listen to John Coltrane or Stevie Ray Vaughn, but they are still a lot about musicianship, and hardcore is more about attitude than musicianship. Madball was trying to deliver impact through Freddy’s lyrics and the rhythm of the music and I think a solo thrown in the middle of that would be a distraction and sound out of place. I do miss playing solos sometimes though and that is why I am going to start a blues band and do Freddie King and Stevie Ray Vaughn cover songs. The band will probably only actually be me playing guitar by myself in the garage but it will kick ass. My boys will dig it too I think.

How do you want people to remember what you wrote?

I guess I’d like it to be remembered as being genuine. I never wrote anything that I myself didn’t want to hear, and I never tried to imitate something that I was not. 

Bandmates/people: say something good/bad/funny/what you remember about the following people:

Roger – Like an older brother to me. I have a lot of respect for him and he always looked out for me.

Will – like a same-age brother. Willy and I have a good time when we are together. Damn good drummer too.

Craig – another same-age brother. I actually lived with him, his mother and brother for a short period of time during the AF days so we are real tight. Gotta give a shot out to the bass playing too. Aside from Sick Of It All he does the Cro-Mags gig with John, AJ and Mackie, and he kills it.

Stigma – You mean the guy that wrote the riffs on Victim In Pain and Ball Of Destruction? Yeah, Stigma deserves a lot of credit for not only helping to establish New York Hardcore music, but for the fact that he was, and still is a big part of the spirit. I lived with him in his apartment in NYC as well for a period of time and he has always been a good friend to me.

Freddie – a heart of gold. I’ll always think of him as my little brother because I first knew him as a younger kid and watched him grow up. The loyalty that he has for his friends and family is amazing. And hands down one of the best front men in hardcore of all time.

Hoya – a great guy all around and another brother. Writes some crazy riffs, and truly one of the funniest people you will ever meet. He can get a whole room going.

Beto – We speak to each other almost everyday to keep each other sane. We are in the same boat as being kids who grew up playing in hardcore bands and that was about all we knew. Now we both work day jobs to take care of our families. You want to talk about “Hardcore Reality?” Support a family of four and cover a mortgage.

Mitts – great musician and great guy. We talk shop a lot about music, gear, bands, etc. I have a lot of respect for him because I know that he genuinely cares about the integrity of Madball and the music they continue to make.

BJ Papas – always has a smile on her face and so nice, even around all of us creeps. Takes great pictures too.

Mike Gitter – Mike’s a good guy. I had a problem with him early on because he did this review of One Voice when it came out and not only did he tear apart the record, he singled me out and blamed me specifically as the “Berklee College of Music Graduate” responsible for the death of hardcore, or some over-dramatic statement like that (note: I was only there for a year and a half when we did that record – didn’t graduate until years later). I can deal with criticism or even people hating my music but he made it seem a little personal and I didn’t understand that. He wound up being our A&R guy for RoadRunner later on and he actually apologized to me which I respected.

Dean – solid as hell as a human being and an amazing engineer/producer. We spent many long days/nights together working on records or managing the studio. He’s done some great sounding records and is on his way to doing more. Plus he is great to work with and probably one of the funniest people I have ever known, next to Hoya Roc.

Ian Larabee – rock solid, no bullshit, and has been a great friend over the years.

Mike Dijan – another rock-solid guy. A true ‘New Yorker’ and a great, great musician.

Rick Ta Life –We go way back and we were boys back in the day. I have not been in touch with him for some time but I wish him well.

A young skinhead Matt with Blind Approach, Photo courtesy of: Matt Henderson

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