Sunday, March 28, 2010
Shawn Stern with Youth Brigade at the Anti Club, Los Angeles CA 1985, Photo: Vincent Ramirez
As usual, another tough poll for me. I think the easy answer here is LA’s Youth Brigade because they’ve got a more impressive resume. For anyone that’s watched Another State Of Mind, it’s hard to come out of that movie and not be a fan of the Stern brothers’ Youth Brigade. Aside from that, “Sound and Fury” is also one hell of an album with classic track after classic track.
As for the DC Youth Brigade, although short lived and a small collection of recordings, the “Possible” EP kicks in about as hard as any record from that era with the killer anthem, “It’s About Time That We Had a Change”. Really, there’s not a bad track on that 7″, plus their tracks on the Flex Your Head comp help make up one of the greatest hardcore compilations of all time.
So who did I vote for? I went with LA’s Youth Brigade, but I could have just as easily voted for DC’s Youth Brigade any given day. -Tim DCXX
LA’s Youth Brigade - 148
DC’s Youth Brigade – 118
Saturday, March 27, 2010
Coming off of last weekend’s post about Rollins, we figured we’d shoot to get some feedback on another polarizing figure from the world of punk and hardcore – Danzig himself.
EVERYONE has an opinion on Glenn Danzig, but whether it is love, hate, or even disinterest, I can’t imagine there is a fan of punk or hardcore who doesn’t take interest in at least one of this man’s bands or what he has been involved with for over 30 years.
So have at it and comment away – what’s your take on the Evil Elvis? Good memory from seeing The Misfits, Samhain, or Danzig? In-person encounter? Favorite band or record of his? Let’s kick off the weekend right! -Gordo DCXX
Friday, March 26, 2010
This is another one of those Albums That Stand The Test Of Time entries that is strong enough to stand alone. Chorus Of Disapproval front man, Isaac Golub tells us exactly what Uniform Choice’s “Screaming For Change” album means to him. Good stuff, thanks Isaac! -Tim DCXX
The undisputed king for me is Uniform Choice Screaming For Change, and for good measure the demo gets thrown into the fold as well.
I got the demo at a Cuckoo’s Nest show (then called The Concert Factory), along with the multi-colored U.C. Straight And Alert shirt. It’s safe to say I saw every U.C. show in So. Cal, and whenever Dubar said, “This is a new one that’s gonna be on our LP!” I will openly admit I would chub up.
Finally that record was coming out and I called the Pier Records in Huntington Beach that Dubar worked at EVERYDAY and finally he said, “Yup they’re here, c’mon down.” Well come on down was a 2 hour bus ride, but if I was going to buy that thing it was going to be from Pat himself (see attached picture, it was taken on my bus ride to buy the LP).
I rolled in road weary from the bus ride, knowing full well it would seem like 86 hours on the ride home holding that thing. I made my purchase, didn’t dick ride Dubar for too long, and got that slab home as fast as OCTD would allow. My uncle Jeff had a really good turntable so as soon as the needle hit the wax I was bouncing around my living room like a complete nutter.
Isaac en route to pick up the Uniform Choice “Screaming For Change” LP on its release day, Photo courtesy of: Isaac
Everything about that record is perfect, even the imperfections. Drums are way down in some of the mixes (a point Banks loves to rub in my face during heated debates over the demo and LP preference), Pat changed some lyrics/song titles around…minor things. Screaming For Change embodies west coast hardcore to me. Fast, feverish, pent up, loving, and socially conscience. Hearing that record at that pivotal point in my life really sent me on what I consider a very positive path in my life. It came out when I personally needed something big, needed something positive and angry at the same time, and really needed to belong to a feeling besides chicks, beer, bon fires at the beach, and the fucking prom.
Use You Head, Screaming For Change, and In Time are my favorites. I still get that little tickle on the nape of my neck when the line blasts, “Don’t hear a word I’ve said, you better USE…YOUR…HEAAAAD!!!” The influences are obvious: two cups of Minor Threat, a cup and a half of Bad Brains, two peeled and pitted Black Flag’s, and baked in an oven built by 7 Seconds. But you know what? THIS record did it for me.
I could have picked any great number of hardcore or punk LP’s to write about, and that may even be considered “better” or more “influential” records, but Screaming For Change repeatedly kicked me in the balls while calling me friend and shouting, “This is for your own fucking good, and you will understand very soon why I have done this to you!”
I now understand. Thank you Pat Dubar, Dave Mellow, Vic Maynez, Pat Longrie, and even Pat Dyson.
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
If you were hanging around the Boston hardcore scene in the early 80’s, checking out bands like SSD, DYS and Last Rights, chances are that you ran into Christine Elise McCarthy a few times. If you were more like me and graduating from high school in the early 90’s and checking out Beverly Hills 90210 every Wednesday night, you were seeing Christine Elise McCarthy playing Emily Valentine on TV. For me, finding out that an actress on a massively popular TV show was straight edge and used to roll with SSD, I thought that was pretty damn cool. Check out what Christine had to say to us about SSD’s “The Kids Will Have Their Say”. -Tim DCXX
For me – the seminal HC album was SSD’s The Kids Will Have Their Say. Police Beat is my favorite song on that album…though I prefer the demo tape version (that I still have on cassette) of that song to the released version.
This album was not only the first hardcore album I ever owned – but also – Jaime Sciarappa was my BFF and Springa was my boyfriend at the time – so I had all levels of pride invested in it. Because I was so invested in this album – I probably know it better than any other of the genre and that might be part of why it endures for me. I was 17 when it came out and, though I had long been involved with the broader punk scene in Boston, there was a real dearth of people my age around. It seemed the kids on the scene and in bars (that required you be 21 for entry) were limited to me & Springa & Boston’s now famous author, Michael Patrick MacDonald. So – the hardcore scene & my relationships with Jaime & Springa opened the floodgates & filled my life with kids my age that had similar aesthetics & overlapping taste in music. I cannot overstate how hugely important this was for me at the time.
Christine with Choke, Photo courtesy of: Christine Elise McCarthy
Overnight, I had an entire community of bald headed friends who were, despite their surly appearance, some of the sweetest & most sincere kids I had ever met. Compound the excitement of finally finding a social “network” (for lack of a better term) and the feeling of being accepted & safe (in high school these feelings are VERY valuable) with the undeniable energy & excitement of the live shows – and you might begin to understand what an important period this was in my life. That first SSD album transports me there in seconds.
As a really responsible kid who was straight edge before it became a movement – and as a kid that was very much a mother hen watching out for the well-being of all the kids I felt were in my charge (mainly the boys of SSD, DYS, Negative FX, Last Rites and some others) – the strictness of tone that SSD projected appealed to me, too. The band felt like the perfect combination of punk aesthetics and responsible behavior. This was an intoxicating mix for a maternal, control freak, punk rock high school gal.
So – The Kids Will Have Their Say was the soundtrack to this period of my life. There is a seriousness to the album that sets it apart, I think, from some of the other stuff of the era – but there is a simple advantage to being the first that might be the reason this album still holds up for me. I don’t think it is that simple, though. I think the album holds up – because the community it introduced me to has held up. Those boys I befriended then are still my best friends today. The Kids Will Have Their Say is a very sentimental thing for me.
Christine rockin’ the Necros sweatshirt, Photo courtesy of: Christine Elise McCarthy
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
In the wake of this past weekend’s Rollins entry, I stumbled upon this mini documentary on the Rollins Band that was featured on MTV’s Buzzcut in the early 90’s. I had never seen it before and thought it was kind of interesting and well worth a post. I also dug up this early live set from the 9:30 Club in DC. This video does a damn good job documenting just how good Rollins Band was, particularly with the line up of Rollins, Chris Haskett on guitar, Andrew Weiss on bass and Sim Cain on drums. Luckily I was able to catch the Rollins Band in their prime between 1987 and the very early 90’s and I gotta say, they destroyed every time. Don’t get stuck in the wreckage… -Tim DCXX
Monday, March 22, 2010
Jason with Count Me Out, Photo: Christina Garcia
Jason Mazzola – Count Me Out / Cloak & Dagger
Damaged by Black Flag was and will always be the blue print for almost every punk or hardcore band to live up to. Aggressive, honest, raw and as real as it can get. It flows from start to finish perfectly and I don’t think I have ever listened to this record and not played it all the way through in the past five years. The cover, the bars, the fist, the glass, Greg Ginn’s guitar playing, the anger and sarcasm Rollins has in his voice sound just as fresh today as it did when I first heard it. Everything from the art work to the music is timeless, a classic now and forever even if the TV shows have changed.
Patrick Longrie in Barcelona Spain, 2010, Photo courtesy of: Patrick Longrie
Patrick Longrie – Uniform Choice
Rites of Spring LP gets my vote. It combined the power of hardcore music with vibrant, thought provoking lyrics….” Time heals all wounds they say, but the self-inflicted ones won’t just fade away…and in these tides of shifting blame, why are surprised to see your name? ” Speaks to me today as clearly as 20 some odd years ago…maybe clearer.
Big Frank with Carry Nation, Photo courtesy of: Frank Harrison
Big Frank Harrison – Carry Nation – Nemisis Records
I am gonna go way old school and say the first Ramones LP. Those songs are timeless to me and of course the first Minor Threat 7″ because of lyrical content, hits me just as hard now as when I first heard it.
Sunday, March 21, 2010
Billy Rubin with Half Off at Fenders Ballroom, Long Beach CA, Photo courtesy of: Billy Rubin
Orange County pioneer Billy Rubin has contributed some great HC history to DCXX. Somehow, we never got around to actually interviewing him.
The other day, Dan O’Mahony wrote us and said he’d like to interview Billy. Perfect. One OCHC legend picking the brain of another. Get comfortable for this one, it’s good stuff. Big thanks to both Billy and Dan. -Gordo DCXX
Half Off at Fenders, photo courtesy of: Billy Rubin
When you and I met in ’84 or so you already had a pretty deep knowledge of punk rock even though you were a couple years younger, what got you started on that path?
I’d say that I grew up at the right place in the right time. The kids on my street were experimenting and I was along for the ride. I learned how to ride a skateboard before I learned how to ride a bike. I wanted to shred and needed a sound track. On the intellect side of the equation, I have always been a seeker of knowledge. Punk lyrics were talking about things that provoked me…I had to get to the bottom of it. I remember spending hours in a library trying to figure out what the Byrds/Husker Du were singing about in the song “8 Miles High.” If only we had the internet back then.
Later when you became a musician it was obvious you would say whatever was on your mind, but even in your fanzine editor days you covered the bands you wanted and pursued your own agenda and were never a shy guy, you networked like mad before the term even existed. Any insights?
I was really enthusiastic about there being no barriers to entry. Everyone’s opinion counted and anybody could get on stage/publish. I had a lot to talk/write about back then; the fights at shows, the Hitler youth (which was the name of a gang of hooligan rich kids in my neighborhood), straight edge. I remember how cool it was to have a common bond with people all over the country. I could write a letter (send an interview) to Roger from Agnostic Front all the way in NYC and he would actually write me back. This was 1984 for cryin’ out loud. There weren’t cell phones or the internet…I used to soap stamps (rub soap on postage stamps so that the post office couldn’t redeem them) so that I could reuse them. It was counter culture. It was cool.
Now counter culture is being an executive at a bank. Having tattoos is normal now. Obviously I have tattoos and am not making commentary on anyone’s lifestyle. What I am trying to say is that the counter culture consisted of thinkers and I found that fascinating.
How did THINK Fanzine come into being and how long did it last?
You might remember how THINK came about better than me. I think that I was inspired by your first issue of S.I.C. Press or Kirk Dominguez’s 1st issue of SFTG. It was fun to do. If I am going to be honest about it I have to admit that it was an ego boost too. I only did THINK for a couple years. Once I got into Half Off I felt like it was a conflict of interest to simultaneously be in a band and do a zine.
You grew up in Huntington Harbour, the most affluent part of HB at the time, and a lot of HC kids share similar backgrounds. Why do you think that is?
Very true. In my case it was because I didn’t belong. I only know this because of years of self discovery and the benefit of hindsight. My parents were way out of their league financially and deep down I didn’t feel as good as the other kids. I didn’t have the alligator on my shirt…I had the tiger. I couldn’t be as cool. In the punk scene your coolness was measured by your dedication to your beliefs. I was rebelling.
One of your earliest endeavors was New Beginning Records, started by others in a town 400 miles away and doing bands like Crippled Youth and Underdog, but eventually to become a SoCal operation operated entirely by yourself. Explain the process.
I have sort of addressed this in another DCXX post, but initially I was the errand boy in LA. I think they needed me. As Ray Cappo was phased out of New Beginning, I was phased in. As time went on, I think Bessie and Mike lost interest or maybe I just had more time. In some ways I think I might have hijacked the label away from them too.
I was incredibly enterprising and found a way to get records pressed for free as opposed to paying cash up front. That paved the way for many early west coast labels. Before that it was quite expensive for a teenager to put out records. There were two catalysts for me taking over the label. The Negazione record was one. The color separation for the cover required a lot of communication with various vendors…once again this is back when even long distance calls were expensive. The other catalyst was the Half Off album. Bessie and Mike didn’t think Half Off was ready for an album, but I wouldn’t listen. I did what I wanted. In hindsight, they were right. Half of the album was awfull, but the songs On Your Own, Rain On The Parade, Blood Turns To Water and The Truth would have made a great EP. Instead we put out an unremarkable LP.
Billy and the rest of Haywire leaving for tour, Photo courtesy of: BillyRubin
People like Bessie Oakley formerly of Positive Force (Reno) and Mike Trouchon (New Beginnning) came into your life at roughly the same time as Ray Cappo and our intial connections to the East Coast (whom you introduced me to). What came first, the chicken or the egg?
It all happened in YOT’s tour van while I interviewed them for THINK. Shortly after that Ray and Bessie were at my parent’s house, I was corresponding with Trouchon and before we knew it, you and I were taking trips to Davis and San Francisco. It was an explosive period of time.
If I remember correctly, the Long Beach band Half Off picked you over me to succeed a fella named Tim. What was the proccess and how did you meet those guys?
I interviewed Half Off for THINK and I suspect they felt a loyalty to me for not ignoring them. At the time, OC was cool and Long Beach was not. I didn’t care. I kind of liked that these guys (Half Off) had shitty equipment and no talent as opposed to INSTED who had great equipment, cars and abundant talent yet (besides Kevin and Steve) those guys were not really into the scene. I’m talking about INSTED’s first line up. I don’t mean to piss anyone off, this is just how I remember it. I don’t really know…I loved those guys.
Half Off proceeded along a similar story line to New Beginnings in that it was born elsewhere but came to be thought of first as a Billy Rubin thing. Would you say that makes you a type A personality or would you call it a coincidence? (I go with the former.)
Yeah, I am type A. I am also a loud mouth ego maniac with an inferiority complex. It is a self destructive combination. I will take it over, build it up and then destroy it in a bonfire to keep myself warm. I’ve been plagued by this my entire life.
Your split with what might be called the “youth crew” movement is well documented, probably even online. What’s your 2010 perspective on that period? That conflict? Ray? Yourself circa 1987/88?
I have mixed feelings. On one hand, time has shown that I was right. The youth crew movement (as it came to be known) was originally what I fondly called straight edge. Straight edge was a song by Minor Threat that was about drugs and alcohol. That was it. The end.
The youth crew movement was about hooded sweatshirts, sneakers and total intolerance of people that were different. The opposite of punk, and I was always a punk before I was a straight edger. How cool would it have been if the youth crew movement was about rehabilitating drunk kids? Instead, little idiot jocks lied/bragged about knocking beers out of people’s hands. They would even create propaganda showing a guy with a mohawk being beaten up for using drugs.
On the other hand I regret that it consumed so much of my time and effort. My opposition ended up alienating me from the scene that I loved. I gave my enemies control over me. I remember sparring (verbally) with up and comers like Joe Nelson and being totally frustrated. Some of these people were demonizing me, the person that had brought east coast hardcore to Southern California. That sounds egotistical, but I think it is accurate.
1987/1988…Hmm…It would sound condescending to say I outgrew the scene, but I guess that is what happened. My horizons were expanding and the straight edge scene was getting smaller and smaller. I remember when YOT was staying at your house for an eternity…I’d go over to visit you and these sweaty, midget, east coast idiots wouldn’t fucking leave. They seemed so fucking shallow to me.
The Krishna thing seemed liked a personal problem that Ray should have seen a therapist for help with. He was obviously searching (and should have done it in private). I thought it was reckless to preach that shit to young impressionable kids under the same banner as straight edge.
I was really put off by the tough guy image too. At the time, people were putting out records on “Positive Force Records” and then talking about “street justice.” How does violence somehow become complimentary to being positive? Who knows…maybe if our next song is about not killing animals it will make us even-steven. To this day I can’t help but be sarcastic about how misguided it was.
Care to explain “No Bald Wall”?
This is funny! There have been a few requests for an explanation…you should answer this. Back in the day, the bouncers at shows would line the front of the stage. They were all bald skinheads. You bought an XXL football jersey and had “No Bald Wall” lettering sewn into the back/shoulders of the jersey so that when you did a stage dive over the bouncers (who’s heads you jumped over) they would read the back of your shirt. It was a protest.
You introduced me to Martin Sprouse from San Diego’s Leading Edge zine and MRR, that connection led to some pretty long lasting relationships. How did you two meet?
I wrote about this on DCXX too so I won’t be too repetitive. I also wonder how many people realize how integral Martin was to the hardcore scene or that he was groomed to take over MRR. I met Martin by chance on a family vacation when I was about 15. Like all of the other seemingly chance encounters, this one too led to snail mail correspondence, an interview for THINK and an in at the MRR house.
Martin was like one of the wise elders of the scene and hands down the best graphic artist at the time.
Half Off lasted only a couple years and showed a real change in focus by the Shoot Guns era, not even really addressing scene politics by then. Any thoughts?
Shoot Guns was us not giving a shit anymore. We thought people were totally uptight. We just wanted to have fun.
Haywire pose it up, photo courtesy of: Billy Rubin
Friday, March 19, 2010
We are gonna start putting up some weekend content here on DCXX in hopes that people tune in to see what’s happening all the time, and not just Monday-Friday.
The idea here is to hopefully spark some sort of discussion in the comments section and maybe the initial post will take on a life of its own.
To kick things off – what else but the topic of Henry Rollins. I started thumbing through Get In The Van after reading it years ago. I always found Rollins, like it or not, to be a polarizing guy. Many love, many hate. I know that Tim and I love all Black Flag material, as well as most of the Rollins Band stuff. And we both love the book.
Leave a comment and tell us what you think. Is he your favorite Flag singer? Thoughts on Rollins Band? What did you think of Get In The Van when you first read it? If you have a story to share, have at it. Who knows, maybe ole’ Hank himself will even chime in.
We’ll be back again Sunday night. -Gordo DCXX
The boys at Double Cross were generous enough to hand the DCXX reigns over to me tonight for a little announcement: Today marks the launch of pre-orders for Livewire Records’ newest release: Skull Crusher, “Blinded By Illusion” 12″ EP (300 on Orange / 100 on Clear.) Livewire is distributed exclusively by Revelation Records and Rev will be handling all of the pre-orders. Huge thanks to Tim and Gordo for the opportunity and thanks to you the readers for checking this out! -Ed McKirdy / Livewire Records
Direct from New York City, SKULL CRUSHER has unleashed their debut EP “Blinded By Illusion” on limited colored vinyl on Brooklyn’s own Livewire Records while Netherlands label Reflections Records will release both a CD and colored vinyl version in Europe. With explosive, Linas Garsys full-color cover artwork and a layout that looks like it was ripped from the pages of Thrasher Magazine circa 1986, the entire package (complete with heavyweight colored vinyl) almost makes you forget that there is even music involved here.
Early Sketches of “Skull Crusher Apocalypse” by Linas Garsys
But music there is. Press play below to check out track two “Chasing The Dragon.”
Combining elements of overdriven heavy rock, early thrash metal, and timeless 80’s era New York Hardcore, this volatile combination instantly provides the catalyst for a dance floor consumed with controlled rage and unified violence. With deafening vocals, hard beats, massive riffs, and chaotic solos all captured in a brutally big recording, it’s like a head banging scientist’s attempt at mixing CRO-MAGS, old METALLICA, and RAW DEAL — being played by guys that witnessed it all first hand and took extensive notes while gasping for air between mosh parts. As extreme fans of all of the above, both Reflections and Livewire felt that SKULL CRUSHER had an immediate home on their labels, and realized the appeal wouldn’t be limited to a hometown or even home country audience.
With appropriate time spent writing, recording, and solidifying a proper line-up, SKULL CRUSHER is now ready to clock in to a lengthy tenure of playing, touring, and building their unwritten future. But with “Blinded By Illusion” as their foundation for what’s to come, it’s only a matter of “when,” not “if.”
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
A few people mentioned that they’d like to hear about what records have stood the test of time for both Tim and me. While my time in hardcore is less than Tim’s, it’s still been 15 years of evaluating and re-evaluating countless records and my accompanying feelings on them.
I came up with three that run the gamut of my tastes in hardcore, in no order. On the whole though, I have to say that the vast majority of classic punk and hardcore records I heard when I was a pre-pubescent pre-teen still remain classics. Perhaps some things from the nineties haven’t held up, but it’s not like Rock For Light has bummed me out as I’ve gotten older or anything.
These three have special places in my heart, and I think I actually love them more and more each time I listen to them. I’ve dissected every aspect of them, and feel like I’m as true a fan as any. I’d love to pose and cite some rare stuff from ’79, but at the end of the day, I come back to these. – Gordo DCXX
CRO-MAGS “Age Of Quarrel” – 1986
Total no brainer. Still the eptiome of the perfect fusion of blazing hardcore, punk, and metal created by urban dudes who stockpiled notes from the best and put everything they witnessed first hand coming up into one band that was so potent they had no choice but to self-destruct. When I first heard Age Of Quarrel, it sounded like a wrecking ball of fire being played by grown ass men who knew all about the harsh truth of reality, had mastered their instruments, and could easily hurt me.
Many years later, I have grown up, spent countless hours honing ‘musician’ skills of my own, and have attempted to build some type of imposing physical presence…and yet I listen to this record and I’m instantly a scared little boy again…a weak amateur…a lightweight. I still can’t play all of Mackie’s beats, I can’t fully grasp the desperation of the lyrics, and I can’t pretend to relate to the war zone of a place where this came from – and I don’t think that will ever change. In reality, this record describes a world that I am merely visiting as a tourist from the suburbs. But fuck, I can’t help it…when We Gotta Know kicks in, all of a sudden I have a full dragon tattoo on my chest, it’s 3am, and I’m carrying a cinder block on Avenue D looking for a guy named “Scrillo” who just robbed my boy Chris. You see what I’m saying?
Some prefer the demo rawness. I’ll take the LP any day. Everything about this record sounds perfect, flows perfect, and simply is perfect. Hail the Cro-Mags.
YOUTH OF TODAY “Break Down The Walls” – 1987
In terms of Straight Edge Hardcore, this to me is in many respects, the genre at its pinnacle, love or hate it. It’s short Italian guys who took SSD, DYS, The Abused, Negative Approach, and Minor Threat, and said “let’s do it as best we can…straight edge and in your face, without any apologies.” Nobody ever said it was entirely original, but I’m saying it’s absolute perfection.
Every YOT record stands the test of time for me, and I easily could have swapped We’re Not In The Alone in place of Break Down The Walls. But the rawness of Break Down The Walls – Ray’s bombastic growling, Porcell’s guitar tone, Drew’s spastic but relatively clocked-in drumming, the presence of Richie’s attack, Craig’s bass lines – it really seems like it’s YOT at their most aggressive, their most honest, and their most compelled.
It is X’d fists in the air, Champion sweatshirts with the hoods up, Air Jordan Is, jumping off the drum riser, diving into the crowd, trying to change the world…just a band in top gear with a full tank of gas, eager to build an entire SEHC scene from city to city. This record is the soundtrack to that. I’m the first to admit there are cheesy SEHC records that came from bands after Break Down The Walls…but I can never fault this one.
DANZIG “DANZIG I” – 1988
Ahh yes, the evil B side to the boy scout goodness of the YOT A side. I’ll get some shit for this, but I don’t care.
To me, the first Danzig LP took the spirit of The Misfits and the heart of Samhain, mixed it with eerie, early Black Sabbath and the darker side of Led Zeppelin and repackaged it with heavy, stark imagery. The recording is plainly ferocious, demanding, and polished, and yet it’s also stripped down to a point where it sounds like there’s hardly any trickery or excess involved. It’s a Rubin-perfected Glenn Danzig with his best vocal performance ever, crooning high-in-the-mix over Christ’s sinister, sex-drenched crusher blues riffs, Eerie Von’s dark and creepy bass lines, and Chuck Biscuits playing drums while almost standing up, bashing away with raw precision and never-ending power on a minimalist’s drumset that sounds ten times bigger than it really is.
I didn’t totally “get it” when I was 12. Now I couldn’t possibly “get it” any more. In a lot of ways, you could put this record at the center of my own personal music spectrum as the middle point. Punk, hardcore, classic hard rock, early rock ‘n roll, blues, metal…Danzig mixes it here so seemlessly and naturally in a way that was/is impossible for others to emulate. And in terms of power, I simply can’t listen to it without wanting to bang my head into oblivion.
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Anthony Communale with Raw Deal at CBGB, NYC, Photo courtesy of: Drago
In our most recent poll regarding Raw Deal/Killing Time, the 1989 “Brightside” LP, complete with the band name change, squeaked by to take the win over the explosive Raw Deal 1988 demo. Can’t say I was expecting that result as my vote went to the demo and I assumed it would win by a landslide, but the Brightside album is no joke. That’s a monster LP on every level, and the inclusion of the demo songs re-recorded with more glossy power make it sort of the best of both worlds.
To go along with the poll results is part 1 of our interview with Breakdown/Raw Deal/Killing Time drummer Anthony Drago. Along with Carl Porcaro’s ongoing interview, expect all of your NYHC concerns to be addressed in these continuing pieces. Big thanks to Drago and Brian Rocha over at Fresno Media for hooking it up. -Gordo DCXX
Lou Sick Of It All and Anthony at The Garage, Photo courtesy of: Drago
Let’s start at the beginning. How did you first discover punk/HC, when and where was this, and what was the initial attraction?
In 1985, I was a 14 year old kid up late watching Rock Palace on TV when I saw the Circle Jerks get up on stage. I was floored by the performance, especially by Chuck Biscuits tearing the living shit out of his drum kit. It looked like he was possessed. I think it was then and there that I decided that I needed to learn how to play like that. I enjoyed the fact that I was into something different than the majority of kids in my school. I had a few friends who were into the same music as me and a lot of others who accepted me regardless of my fucked up taste in music.
What impact did growing up in New York have on the way you viewed music and your ability to seek out underground bands, records, etc.?
I grew up in Westchester and we had two havens for music. Mad Platters record store in Yonkers and the Record Stop in Hartsdale. Tony and Sue ran the Record Stop and me and my friends would stop in there almost daily after school. Tony turned me onto so many great bands. He would make me crazy tape mixes with Bad Brains, Misfits, Black Flag, Minor Threat and the Dead Kennedys. Tony was also the guy who told me about a group of guys from Yonkers who were starting a hardcore band and needed a drummer. I met Carl shortly after in my parent’s garage, where they auditioned me for Breakdown. Less than a year later, I was 16 and we were playing CBGB’s.
Raw Deal demo recording session, Photo courtesy of: Drago
What were early punk/HC shows you saw that left a lasting impression?
There were so many bands I was into and so many shows I was able to make it too. My brother and sister had broken my parents’ will long before I came of age. I loved the Cro-Mags, Agnostic Front, Government Issue, Murphy’s Law, Sheer Terror and Leeway. Stand out records I would say are Cause for Alarm, Born To Expire and Crumbsuckers’ Life of Dreams.
Tell us about your music involvement in Breakdown prior to Raw Deal. How did those experiences shape what you wanted to accomplish with Raw Deal?
My time in Breakdown was a lot of fun. I didn’t want to see it end. But when it became an eventuality, I decided to move forward with Carl and Rich as opposed to staying. The way I saw it, Carl and Rich were writing most of the good material for Breakdown and this new band might give me the opportunity to start contributing lyrically. This was something that Jeff wanted to keep all his own. By the time Anthony and Mike joined the band we had already written a few songs that I had written the lyrics for and Anthony was open to the idea. At the time, it was a little frustrating to think that we had to start all over again as a band but when we started playing shows with Anthony, I could tell right away that I had made the right decision. In my opinion, he is one of the best front man in the history of Punk/Hardcore.
Anthony and Carl at The Garage, Photo courtesy of: Drago
How do you recall the Raw Deal songs being written and recorded for the demo?
As I remember, the songs came along rather quickly. We spent a lot of time in my parents’ garage in the hopes that we would have enough material to put out a demo fairly soon. My only hopes for the recording of that demo were that people would like it as much as they did the Breakdown demo. We went to the same studio and used the same engineer. We went into it really rehearsed. I think we’ve always been pretty serious when it comes to recording.
Similarly, the Raw Deal demo is a landmark piece of what many refer to as “reality hardcore” – what do you think of that description? Do you feel like the same guys you were in 1988?
I think that the description is accurate. I think it’s got something to do with the music but it also has so much to do with the lyrical content. We’ve always been very negative bastards. Don’t blame us, blame everybody else. I think that we’re basically the same guys we were in 1988 but maybe a little wiser. As you get older you realize that 99% of everything is bullshit and nothing is the “end of the world”, except for maybe the end of the world. In that regard maybe we have become more “positive” in our outlook on life.
Killing Time - “Brightside” LP – 198
Raw Deal - 1988 Demo – 171
Drago at The Garage, Photo courtesy of: Drago
Monday, March 15, 2010
In our continuing effort to feature more of today’s current hardcore bands here on DCXX, we bring you Vancouver BC’s Get The Most. Check out Get The Most’s brand new full length LP titled, “Together” on React! Records and read what Bubs, the band’s frontman has to say. -Tim DCXX
How did you discover hardcore and what are some of your early memories and experiences that left a lasting impression?
When I grew up my older cousins were all about metal. I was exposed to stuff like Metallica, Megadeth and Slayer when I was about 6 years old. I think I bought “And Justice For All” the first week it came out. I totally thrived on the next heavy and fast thing. Not long after I heard D.R.I.’s “Dealin’ With It” and I was floored. I totally was taken by the fact these guys were young, raging and weren’t totally about satanism/metal imagery which I couldn’t really relate to as a kid.
That was the gateway into punk rock for me. I was turned on to bands like Warzone, Youth Of Today, and Agnostic Front mostly from reading the music section in Thrasher magazine. As I got into my early teens I was getting out of death metal/grindcore and more into punk rock. I went to every local punk show I could, out in the suburbs and in the city. I saw a show every two weeks or so and I loved the connection of punk rock and skateboarding together. My friends and I would take the bus all over the city to skate and then hit up the show on a Friday or Saturday night. It was amazing to go to local shows, seeing kids playing to kids, a lot of bands sucked, and some really ruled. It didn’t really matter, it was the awesome outlet to express ourselves. It was inspiring to get involved myself and work on putting together my own band from all the people I had met in the scene.
It wasn’t until a year or so later that I went to my first hardcore show. I think it was Strain, Trial, Burden, and One King Down out in the suburbs where I lived in 1996. I didn’t know too much about “current hardcore” so I didn’t know what to expect. I was amazed. There were people climbing all over each other to get a chance to sing along to the songs, people were doing this weird kickboxing thing, and the kids wore choker chains and bandanas on their heads. The energy of the show was something I had never seen before. It was my first exposure to the HC scene’s relationship to animal rights and straight edge. The punk scene for me was basically about nothing but push moshing, bros, getting drunk, and going to parties. This scene stood for so much more. After taking in bands like Earth Crisis and Trial, I made a transition from punk kid to hardcore kid.
Tell us about a few of your favorite hardcore bands and how and why you connected with them?
Over the years I have enjoyed a wide variety of styles of hardcore, but I always feel I can count on those bands that still get the blood flowing. The bands that put out flawless records. Yes they are classic bands to some, maybe they are just poorly recorded bands to others. Youth Of Today is one these. The urgency and potency in those lyrics are unsurpassed in my eyes. The music is so driving but the words are those of a positive and a “can do it” mentality. Some say “We’re Not In This Alone” is not a tight record, to me it’s perfect. It makes me feel I can accomplish something I set my mind to.
Another record that I have a strong connection to and is one of my favourites is Judge’s “Bringin It Down.” One of the first heavier and darker sounding records from the straight edge scene that I heard. It gives me chills when I listen to the record some 13 or so years after first hearing it. I can relate to the heavier vibes going on, there is almost a sort of “as it turns out the world isn’t as peachy as we think it is” deal happening. This band is often imitated but I don’t think there will ever be anything like them.
At what point did you decide to get involved in doing your own band and what is the history of the bands you have done?
I started trying to get my own thing going when I was 14 or 15. One of the first attempts at doing my band was a skate punk band. It was me and my best friend. Believe it or not the band didn’t get far due the lack of capable drummers out there. The next thing was an emo band called The Self Esteem Project. We started out as a 90’s French hardcore styled band. We wanted to sound like Jasmine. It was fast and melodic but had screaming vocals, I played bass. Next, I joined a straight edge band called Burden in 1997 and it was a lot of fun. We did a trip down the west coast and played locally. It was sort of a heavier sounding youth crew meets Strife thing. I started a band called Blue Monday in 2001 and that was my first real touring band. We toured a lot and worked hard. We played in the US, Canada and Europe. It was an amazing time and I made so many friends over the four years we were around. After BM finished I filled in for friends Go It Alone.
Tell us about the formation of Get The Most and what goals and visions you had for Get The Most that you might not have had for your previous bands?
The forming of GTM was while Blue Monday, Allegiance and Go It Alone were on a summer tour in ’05. Kram sang for GIA and I had talked about starting a more traditional sounding group. We decided to spice things up by taking on different duties, Kram playing drums and me singing. We wanted to sound like Insted and Unity.
I was super excited to sing and be able to write the songs too. We enlisted some friends to round out the lineup, Face from the area, and Today’s Man from back home. I don’t think we had many goals as a band because we were a side project. Every one had more important bands at the time. All we wanted to do was record a good demo and play once in a while and have a blast. There wasn’t any pressure to book tours, buy a van or do anything really. After being in a touring band for several years this situation was desirable.
Being a band from Canada, how did you end up releasing a record on Crucial Response Records and what can you tell us about releasing your debut record on a European label? How did that affect the band in a positive and or negative way?
Like I said just above, we never had felt any obligation or pressure to tour so going with a European label wasn’t going to be a problem. Previously in other bands, you would depend on the label to help you out financially or help with merch etc., but with GTM all we wanted to do is put out a cool record on a cool label.
Crucial Response put out some of our favourite youth crew vinyl. The For The Sake Of Dedication and the Mainstrike LPs were legendary records in aesthetic and sound. We wanted to be a part of that. From touring in Europe I got the impression that over there they really appreciate the older/more traditional approach to hardcore. In my mind it only made sense that kids in Europe and overseas would check us out because we had a record out on such an infamous label.
You guys spent some time on the road with The First Step, what if anything did you take from your experiences with them?
We loved touring with TFS. I think that their music is amazing but it’s also their character as individuals that really solidified them as the great band they are. Stephen is a great front man, the honesty and sincerity that comes from that guy, on stage and off, leaves a lasting impression. I feel they believed in their message and their live show was always spectacular. If I learned anything from them, it would definitely be “be yourself” and “self improvement” values. They didn’t have any gimmicks, it was just no frills, fast paced, message-driven hardcore. I look up to Stephen as a front man. I guess you have to run 10 miles a day if you want to be the frenzied ball of energy like he was in TFS.
With Get The Most being a band that started in 2005, it seems like you drew more musical and stylized influences from the bands of the late 80’s as opposed to the bands of present day. How and why did you think these bands molded you more so than the current bands? Also, who do you see as the main bands that influenced you guys the most?
The idea of the group was to take inspiration from some of the greats on the west coast and of course the REV bands from NY. We had been doing more “modern” hardcore, striving for some originality in previous groups. Get The Most was intended to be less serious, not original, more fun and awesome to see live. Sure there are great bands now, but back then in the late eighties the sound was brand new and not over done. I look back at videos of Chain and YOT and see something so fresh and vibrant. People were ecstatic, bouncing all over the walls, diving everywhere…bands were sloppier, gear was shitty, the internet didn’t exist. I think back in the 80s it might have been more of an event than just another show. At least to me it seems that way.
For inspiration musically and lyrically I look to bands like Uniform Choice, Insted, Unit Pride, Chain Of Strength and Youth Of Today.
Do you see kids that have gotten into hardcore within the past five years having a great respect and appreciation for the bands that have come before them? Do you think it’s important for kids to learn the history of hardcore or do you think hardcore is more so about the here and now?
I think it is absolute must to know your roots. I am 29 years old and there are still bands from back in the day that I need to hear. My friend J25 and I were just listening to Urban Waste and Antidote and talking about the sheer intensity of those 7″s. The sound is raw and there is no computer program to record on, it’s probably recorded all at once and when they do it you feel like they mean it. The bands today need a history lesson for sure. I saw the Cro-Mags when they came to Seattle last year. It was so raging. That band laid the foundation for a sound a lot of us take for granted today. I totally appreciate all the old bands, without them this wouldn’t be possible.
What would you say to someone who was involved with the hardcore scene of the 1980s and looks at today’s scene as dead in comparison or at least uninteresting? How would you prove to them that they were wrong?
To say things like that would have to be a matter of opinion. You can go to any town in North America and see all ages shows in Vet halls with kids 15 years old freaking out, singing the lyrics of their favourite HC band with intense passion and raw energy. Doing something that still is an underground scene. Doing shows for kids by kids. Sure we don’t know what direction hardcore might take in the next 10 years, but I am sure it’s going to be run by people who care about the music, about an exchange of ideas and people who feel like outsiders.
Who are some of your favorite current bands and what do each offer to people who might have never heard them before?
Most of my favourite bands are on the REACT! Records label. While most of them do their own thing, one thing that they all share is a real love of hardcore. We all do our day jobs and some of us are married or whatever but doing these bands is what keeps us excited and inspired. These bands: Vacant State (Last Rights sounding from Vancouver on Deranged records), Keep It Clear (pissed off Floorpunch/Right Brigade sounding from Vancouver on Not Just Words records) and Mindset (Youth Of Today sounding from Baltimore on REACT!) .
I know you’re a pretty serious Morrissey fan, what is it about him that speaks to you and what are your top 5 Smiths/Morrissey songs and why? Do you see any of your Morrissey fandom finding its way into Get The Most?
One thing that’s always fun is meeting people at Get The Most shows who share the love of Smiths/Morrrissey like I do. I really am moved by Morrissey’s talent, whether it be his singing voice or his witty lyrics. There really isn’t anyone who does it like him. Growing up, my friends liked The Smiths, so I was a casual fan. We went to go see Moz in ’97 and didn’t really know if it was going to be very good. Within the first couple of minutes I was mesmerized. People in their 30-40’s were acting hysterically. It was like some weird transformation. People were going nuts. That night I totally got it.
Top songs aren’t easy to pick but what the heck. “Why” would take forever.
The Smiths: Last Night I Dreamt Somebody Loved Me, Back To The Old House
Morrissey: Suedehead, Tomorrow, Speedway
What are some of your favorite shows you’ve played with Get The Most and why? Also, how do you determine what’s been a great show for you guys (venue, crowd response, sound, how well you played, friends being there, etc.)?
Some of my favourite shows were on the recent European tour. It was amazing to see people on the other side of the world so enthusiastic about the band. It is truly flattering. Obviously a great crowd reaction for this band makes for a great show. We don’t get many opportunities to practice too much so when people move around and sing along it takes off the pressure of not playing perfect. It reminds me of how TFS would all live in different corners of the country but when they met up and played a show, it didn’t matter if they practiced twice a week, the show was crazy. Some of my favourites were the Rivalry showcase, Riverside, CA and Barcelona.
What importance if any does Straight Edge play in Get The Most? What are your thoughts on the Straight Edge scene of 2010?
In GTM I didn’t want to emphasize straight edge. Sure most of the members are naturally edge, but I didn’t want it to be a focus lyrically. I wanted people who don’t give two shits about straight edge or youth crew to find something they could connect with in this band. Whether they like some of the things I say in the songs or on stage, or they just like that we want to sound like a fun upbeat positive band, there wouldn’t be a heavy political stance with the band. I have been straight edge since 1996 and I love being straight edge. For the one year I dabbled with drinking I found myself in a couple of unfortunate situations and I didn’t think it was for me. Drinking and drugs aren’t for everyone and I feel like I am saying a personal “fuck you” to society by not indulging in it.
What do you see as being the biggest issues within the hardcore scene of 2010 that you’d like to see changed?
It would be nice for there to more of an emphasis on bands who stand for something and have something intelligent to say. Sure it’s great to see a band who says “Go crazy because I said so”, but when there is a driving force like a great message to a song, there is a chance I might be able to relate, or have a connection to the idea and it can spawn some sort of action. There is true energy in ideas. It doesn’t have to be just entertainment, it can be a forum for discussion and an opportunity to express ourselves. I am over the gimmicks and fads in the last couple of years.
How has Get The Most progressed since its inception and what would you like to accomplish before it ends?
As a band we have had a couple of member changes over the years but the focus never changed. We never thought of changing the sound. If so we would just start a new project. Some personal goals of mine would be to play South America and to leave some sort of lasting mark for the style we play.
Tell us about your upcoming first full length album, “Together.” What should people expect from it?
Well since the last record, “Moment in Time,” which came out summer of 2007, I have been slowly working on writing songs for the LP. We didn’t have any deadlines so when we found time to record we did, but it’s been a long process. I think the fact that it wasn’t rushed made for a better record and I am very proud of it.
It’s 10 songs of hardcore. The recipe is more or less the way we did things on the last three recordings but lyrically I think we stepped things up. There is a song called “Show Some Spine” which is about people who boast about things like unity but are sexist towards women in the hardcore scene. I for one know my wife has felt some alienation by being one of the few girls in the room at a show and I can understand it must be awkward. I think in the hardcore scene we need to encourage everyone to participate. Ok, you suck at playing an instrument, well do a zine, put on a show, do cover art, do a radio show, make fliers. There is so much you can get from being apart of hardcore and I wouldn’t want a old fashioned exclusive attitude to make anyone feel unwelcome.
Any final comments, plugs, shout outs, etc.?
Thanks Tim and Gordo for the interview. Thanks to anyone who check out Get The Most and I hope to see everyone at REACT! fest this April for a really swell time.
First off, I apologize for the lack of a proper Monday DCXX post. I ended up working some crazy late overtime hours at work yesterday, then had to be back in super early, so I just didn’t have the time.
I did want to hit you off with a quick update on the new DCXX shirts. For everyone that ordered so far, the majority of those orders have been fulfilled and shipped this past Saturday. With those orders I also included the first DCXX newsletter and a sticker, hope you guys dig. For anyone that has been trying to order but has been hit with a SOLD OUT when checking out, the stock is being replenished as we speak, so all sizes will be available later this week. Thanks and stay tuned for tonight’s entry. -Tim DCXX
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