Saturday, March 13, 2010
Awhile back we posted an entry from an interview with Youth Of Today – “Break Down The Walls” Tour ’87 roadie RJ Vail. Unfortunately I had some problems with the cassette that I recorded the interview on and haven’t been able to post more than the first part of the interview. Needless to say, RJ and I have stayed in contact and hopefully sooner than later we’ll get around to catching up with him again for more tour stories. In the meantime, RJ’s been doing a little ebay work with his collection. There are only a few records up right now, but trust me, there is a lot of great stuff on the way. Here’s what RJ had to say about his green vinyl SOA 7″ that’s up right now and some other records to come. -Tim DCXX
Original SOA on green vinyl 7″ Dischord #2. Scribed in the vinyl on one side it says: Who’s Gay? On the other it says: Bill and Jay!……… and probably Ian. Excellent condition, Hardly played. Like the majority of my vinyl it hasn’t been removed from its plastic sleeve since it’s been in my possession (over 25 years). Auction ends 3/14/2010
I will be thinning out my early-mid 80′s Dischord, Rev, Schism etc. records over the next several weeks. Abused, YOT Orange Batman, Unity, YOT Red 12″, Negative Approach 7″ & Tied Down LP, Mental Abuse, Clitboys, Bold, Cause for Alarm classic NYHC, Judge, Slapshot, DYS, Crippled Youth, Warzone Orange 7″, Minor Threat In My Eyes, 7 Sec Committed for Life 1st press, Project X with original Schism zine plus many more. -RJ
Thursday, March 11, 2010
If you haven’t heard, Eerie Von has an incredible book out called Misery Obscura – a 160 page sick photobook with awesome stories and writing about his time around The Misfits and in Samhain and Danzig. Probably my favorite HC-related book ever. We caught up with Eerie again to pick his brain now that the book has been out. GO BUY THIS!!! -Gordo DCXX
How has the response been to the book?
The response has been fantastic! But I knew the hardcore fans would dig it. It’s only been out two months, so I have no sales figures yet, but on Amazon it’s #1 in its catagory. Reviews have all been glowing.
How did the release at Generation go? Was it cool jamming with Lyle like that? Anybody turn out that you hadn’t seen in a long time?
Yeah I got to see some of the old gang, like Danzig soundman/keyboard player Rick Dittamo, who was with the original line up for the whole time. From high school there was Dr. Chud and Sal Bee. JV Bastard showed up, Queen Vixen from the Cycle Sluts, Vas Kalas from Hansel und Greytl, as well as Jill, the girl from the original “Mother” video. Just hanging with Lyle was a treat. We’ve got the same sense of humor, and me, him and Tom B (book’s designer) could barely stop talking and telling stories long enough to get anything done. It went over real well, and I had a great time.
What’s your favorite part of the book? Does it feel like 3 distinct pieces (Misfits, Samhain, Danzig), or one long adventure?
I like the cover the most! It all seems like one big story to me. Just chapters, like you have in life. Different characters come and go, some re-appear…it’s just a big on going adventure.
Was there anything you didn’t get to put in the book or detail the way you would have hoped?
I would have liked to have 250 pages, so we could have put it all in there. If we didn’t have a photo to go with a story, since we had limited space, we left it out. It was hard trying to get everything and everyone in the 160 pages and still have it be cohesive and flow.
You didn’t diss anyone or write a tell-all. Was it a conscious decision to take the high road, or just your nature?
I just told the story the way I felt it when the stuff was happening, not like I was looking back. It’s just the way I am. I didn’t see any point, talking about things that you didn’t talk about then, or digging up dirt, or talking about people’s personal lives. To me, everybody in the story is like family, and you don’t talk bad about family.
Have you gotten any feedback directly from Glenn? Did he create any obstacles to you using the Danzig stuff?
No, and I don’t expect to. He would never admit it if he liked it anyway hahaha. He likes to call all the shots, and isn’t thrilled when he can’t.
What about feedback from other guys in the bands?
Jerry and Doyle have seen it and both told me that the book is great, and that they like it. I haven’t heard from Chuck or John, and I’m sure they won’t spend money to get a copy, so…I gave all my comp copies away, and am waiting for them to get back to me with mailing addresses.
What did you think of the internet hoax about Chuck Biscuits dying? Would you say he’s the best drummer you played with?
Chuck’s the best drummer I’ve ever had the pleasure to play with. I knew he wasn’t dead. I just sat here and watched you all go nuts, until I heard from him.
You mentioned Jill, the girl from the Mother video. She’s made a re-appareance on YouTube. Care to comment or elaborate?
I haven’t seen Jill’s Videos. I don’t care what people do or say. Let everyone just do their own thing, and if people love it, or laugh at it, or it makes people talk, that’s fine too.
Is there one item of merchandise from each band, Misfits, Samhain, Danzig, that you would never part with? If so, what?
I’ve kept one of everything record, CD wise. There’s stuff I don’t have, like the Samhain box, and a few Danzig releases. The photos mean the most to me. I don’t have much left in the way of stuff. You out grow things like leather jackets, but the memories always fit when you wanna put them on, so I’m good.
If you had to pick your favorite Misfits songs, favorite Samhain song, and favorite Danzig song, what would they be?
I always answer this one differently. I don’t have favorites. I have songs I don’t care for, but not favorites. I pretty much love all that shit.
Have you gone to see any Misfits or Samhain “reunions”?
No, why would I go see that? Doyle is still the Koolest.
How much material didn’t make the cut, and where will this end up? Any future plans?
Maybe we’ll be able to do an expanded version, but don’t hold your breath. Remember, I didn’t put this out, it was done with a real publisher, so there was a budget to work within. The stuff left out will go back into the vault. I do plan to make some museum type prints as limited editions, so people can hang some of the pics on their walls. So look for that.
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Matt with Madball at Dynamo, 1995, Photo courtesy of: Matt Henderson
A crowd favorite at this point, here is part 5 with Matt Henderson. -Gordo DCXX
Any comments on the tour with Dog eat Dog and Downset that went down back then?
The Dog Eat Dog/Downset tour was a good time. We shared a bus with the road crew and Dog Eat Dog and Downset shared another bus. The shows weren’t that amazing but we all had a great time and really got along. We stuck together too, dealing with fools like nazis in New London, CT. I remember Ares from Downset and Freddy dealing with them, and then John from Dog Eat Dog spitting on them from the stage and then we all took turns before the night was over. That was another situation where I think the DIY types thought we weren’t playing the right clubs or talked shit because we had a bus, but fuck them. I know I had toured enough in my life and if my label was willing to front the money for a bus so I could sleep at night, I was taking it.
How was it recording with Jamie Locke at Brown Sound?
That was a good time. Brown Sound was a home studio in a sort of run down mansion in Northern Massachusetts owned by Dave Brown, the ex-guitar player for Billy Joel. That was a studio that Jamie did business with and the gear was good so that’s where we went. I was still in school so we would do it on the weekends and it was a mission to get there, especially for Freddy and Hoya coming from NYC.
Demonstrating My Style: the first all new LP (no re-recorded songs), again one of the most important record of the 90s. A really coherent record from start to finish. You guys were putting out records steadily, even though you were touring: how easily would you say it is for you to write songs?
It’s hard to write a full-length release that hits the nail on the head from start to finish, and Madball records were notoriously short, not because we couldn’t do it, but because we always felt that we had said everything already in the first 20 minutes. That record steered further away from the simpler style and pushed more into the groove style, but I always felt that was a big part of what New York brought to hardcore, and is an element that I felt was important to Madball. “Live Or Die” is one of my favorite Madball songs. We tried playing it live a few times but never felt like the crowd got it so we stopped.
Tell us more about the writing process in Madball: who did what? Did you write most of the songs or did Hoya write a lot of it too?
Hoya and I had that writing competition thing that helped push each of us to try and top the other guy to get the best song for the band. If I had to compare strengths vs. weaknesses I would say that he was better at writing the big, fat killer riffs and I was better at arranging the overall song, but we each did both of those things. I’m not trying to say that we were Lennon/McCartney or anything, but there is an art to writing good hardcore and I felt like we did a damn good job.
You can’t overlook the lyrics or vocal delivery from Freddy as a crucial part of those songs. I always thought that his lyrics hit the nail on the head and were as honest as you could get. I would be around to work with him on the songs to suggest things here or there, maybe help with some direction if he was stuck, but the true brilliance came straight from him. Early on he had “Fuck you – Fuck you – Fuck you and your system too” which ruled, and came straight from his heart (that kid meant it when he said Fuck You). I think later though he really evolved and wrote some amazing lyrics and developed more style. Two songs that stick out in my mind are “Still Searching” from Hold It Down, and “Tight Rope” from the NYHC EP. All him, and I had nothing to do with any of it. He really brought that near hip-hop feel that to me was crucial to Madball, but I’m not sure a lot of people feel it the way we do. It was never trying to be hip-hop, but you can absolutely hear the influence.
Finally, I gotta give props to Willy. When you listen to Demonstrating My Style, I think the songs are great, but the drums are the best thing on the record overall. He had groove, hit hard as hell and had this finesse all at the same time which is a hard mix to find in a drummer. Finding a drummer to match him was always difficult, but Riggs, and now Ben definitely hold their own and have the right feel for the band.
Matt with Madball in Belgium, 1996, Photo courtesy of: Matt Henderson
How did you guys end up working with Victory and how was that relationship?
Tony is an old friend of mine from the Blind Approach days, and I called him up to suggest doing a 7” with him. He was into it, but we both knew that Madball was going to stay on RoadRunner for the next full length (Look My Way) so there was not much point in working too hard on either side for that one. I kind of forget why we even did that to begin with, but my point is I didn’t work with him enough to develop an opinion on the label. I think the 7” is great, but we didn’t tour off it or care how much it was or was not promoted on his side.
Look My Way: The album felt a lot more metal and technical, and maybe the tempos were slower in general: any words on that?
It’s funny that people say it was a lot more metal, when I always considered songs like “Set It Off” and “New York City” to be metal as hell, but everybody says it still. I think the record has an overall “dark” quality to it that adds to the vibe people pick up on, and I think that had more to do with where the band was at personally during that time than a deliberate decision in style change.
Also, this is the first album you started being involved on the production as much, how did that come about, and why did you decide to hit up Salad Days and record with Dean instead of Locke/Brown Sound?
Dean was a good friend of mine and I liked what he was doing at Salad Days. The band also got a pretty big push from Monte Conner, head A&R at Roadrunner, to move away from the Locke/Brown Sound formula. That’s not to say we were forced, but he expressed his opinion of the production from Locke/Brown Sound as being a sound that was not always fitting for a band that had the rawness of Madball and that it was a little dated (Best Wishes was recorded in 1988 and it was now 1997). I agreed with him in a lot of ways and respected Monte for coming to us directly about it. Plus, that guy is no dummy. He discovered and developed some of the best bands in heavy music like Sepultura and Obituary, and he was acting more as a fan of the music with his opinion than anything else.
I took it as an opportunity to give Dean a shot as well as give myself a little more control and hands-on experience. That recording had its issues though as Salad Days had some issues with equipment and it was Dean’s first project of that scale, but I like the sounds we got for the most part and I think Dean did an amazing job. Every once in awhile I put it on and there are some sounds on it that I really like. Unfortunately, it hurt my relationship as friends with Jamie Locke, but it was not something I thought he should have taken personally. Monte actually offered to let Jamie know that we would not be working with him but I said no, so I was the one that called him up to explain it to him. It was just time for Madball to move on.
Hold It Down: This was released on Epitaph. What did you think of that match between label and the band?
A label is a label is a label. I was not “officially” in the band when that decision was made and didn’t deal with the label the way those guys did so I really can’t comment, but from what I understood, Madball was approached by them and if I was in the band at the time I probably would have went with it as well. That label has history in punk/hardcore, just not NYHC, and so what? They seemed to do pretty good for Roger and AF at that time, and when I met the A&R guy he seemed genuinely interested in what he was hearing while we were in the studio. In the end it’s all the same though, the label wants to make money and spend as little as they can to do so. I don’t really blame them, it’s a business. A business that I am glad I’m not a part of anymore.
Please tell us what you feel are Madball’s best albums overall and why.
I’m pretty sure that most people consider Set It Off our best album, but I don’t. I think that those songs were great and it was an exciting time for the band, but as a recording it’s not my favorite. Out of all the records we did, I love all the songs, but for best recorded performance my vote goes to Hold It Down. That was the one record where we had everything in place, vocals and music, and played the songs like we were live on stage. I feel like that energy came across real well on that record. It was the same with the NYHC EP. We switched our method up a little bit and actually recorded every song with Freddy singing along to get the full vibe for each take. I would recommend that technique for any band.
Tell us about shows that stick out in your mind, stand out memories or stories that are a sign of the times.
Again, so many shows, both good and bad….I remember playing a show in CT that Jamie Jasta booked at this indoor skate park. Set it Off had only been out for a minute and we were getting one of our first good crowd reactions from the songs off of the record. About 2 ½ songs into the set the PA went out. We did the rest of the set with Freddy using no mic and the crowd all sang along and it was great.
I remember playing a festival in Holland in 1996 and it was an all day event with a huge mix of bands. The band that went on right before us was Los Lobos. We all hung out on the side of the stage to watch them and it was cool. Those guys are the real deal, and when they walked off we shook hands and told them we enjoyed the show. We got setup and started our set, Freddy gives them a shot out and I notice their bass player on the side of the stage watching us. He’s nodding his head to the music and he runs back to get the rest of the band and pretty soon the whole band is hanging out watching our set. The bass player was especially feeling it and when we finished he walked up to me to shake my hand and said “I LOVE the way you Vatos play.” Respect.
Last one. We were on tour in the US, headlining during the Demonstrating My Style days with no support traveling with us, late 1996, and we were hitting some real remote places and not the typical clubs that hardcore bands would play. We were in the Southeastern part of the states and it was hurricane season. I think it was somewhere in South Carolina and the club was this little place that had like a surf/beach theme going on and NOBODY was there. The promoter figured that no one was going to show up because of the hurricane and he was right. So we set up and played anyway to ourselves and our two roadies (R.I.P 2 Hip). I remember Freddy in bare feet. We were all drinking and talking shit and just hanging out. Plus, we actually got paid that night.
Madball in Europe 1994, Photo courtesy of: Matt Henderson
Who were your favorite/least favorite bands to tour with?
We did a European tour with Turmoil in 1995 and those guys were great. The Madball/Crown of Thornz European tour in 1995 of course was a lot of fun. A year later we toured with Ignite and that was crazy. We had a lot of fun and I still keep in touch with those guys. Zoli was in my wedding, and I just went to Casey Jones’ (original drummer) house here in Long Beach for his twins’ 1st birthday party. We did a few tours with Earth Crisis and those were always good times.
I think everybody else in the world expected us to not get along but we hit it off right away and are great friends still today.
We were always pretty lucky about getting along with the bands we toured with (the fights were always with the bands we weren’t touring with), and most of the time we wound up being friends long after the tours ended. It’s funny because a lot of people expected us to be these dick/New York tough guys and that we would be hard to get along with, but we never behaved that way. We always shook hands and introduced ourselves right away to everyone we traveled with expecting to find some common ground somewhere regardless of how different our sound, style, or whatever.
The only time I remember having a hard time relating to a band was when we were with the Refused in Europe around 1996-97. There were obvious differences between us and them not only as a band, but also as people. I felt like we got along ok until the last day of the tour. On the last day of any tour, bands that tour together will usually swap merch with each other, which is what we did too. I remember the singer and one of the other guys heading over to our merch table then coming back towards me wearing the “girlie” t-shirts, and they fit them real tight, well not too tight because those dudes were pretty thin. The singer walked right up to me and said “You see Matt. We are not into that macho thing that you guys are into.” I was a little surprised by the fact that he felt the need to wear a shirt that we printed up to sell to girls just to make a point. I just let it go, but what it said to me was that he focused much more on our differences than we did.
Madball 1995, Photo courtesy of: Matt Henderson
Old beef stories you’d like to talk about that fans like me would love to hear?
I’m not going to try and come off like a tough guy here. I mean I can take care of myself, but I wasn’t really one of the heavy hitters, and I am an old man with a day job and 2 little boys now, so beef isn’t really on my mind these days, but I can get a little worked up if I think back. There are some well known beefs that I sometimes want to set the record straight on because the other side talked SO MUCH shit (and probably still does), but I won’t out of principle. All I will say is Madball as a band and as individuals always gave people the benefit of the doubt and were respectful to others. It wasn’t until the other side started up with their nonsense out of being insecure about their own fake tough guy image being exposed, or they wanted to impress somebody else around them by taking a jab at us, or they were just too fucking stupid not to know any better. That’s what created beef and I feel like we were always justified when it got handled.
When and why did you decide you were not touring anymore?
I decided I was not touring anymore because it all got to be too much. Being in a band as a touring musician is not an easy way to live and I just got tired of it. Madball is my heart and soul and it was extremely difficult to make the break, but I had to do it to focus on other things in life besides touring. To this day Freddy, Hoya, Willy, Roger, Vinny, Craig – we all consider ourselves family and are still in close contact, so even though I’m not in the band the bond is still there.
Matt and Freddy goofin’ off, Photo courtesy of: Matt Henderson
What became your role in Madball towards the end? How much were you involved in the writing process?
As far as writing and recording Hold It Down, I was in the band. It was just the same dynamic as all of the other records. I was really happy to get that opportunity because I think the songs on that record are slamming. The NYHC EP was done in the same way. After that I was brought in a little for Legacy but real informally. Like I have been saying, writing a full length is not an easy task, and I was still living in NYC at the time so we would talk every once in a while just to catch up on whatever and it was like “why don’t you come by the rehearsal studio to check out what we got going on and hang out.” It wasn’t like “come write songs for us.” So, “Behind These Walls” came from a night of hanging out.
Infiltrate The System is all them and they nailed it, so it’s all good.
It’s been quite some time since we offered a new Double Cross shirt design, but this is actually one that we’ve been working on for months. As simple as it is, you’d think we would have knocked it out a little quicker, but honestly, the time we spend working on DCXX is basically to get content up each night, so sometimes it’s tough getting to everything we’d like. Needless to say, here it is, the second shirt we’ve done since kicking off DCXX two years ago.
The front is similar to the first design, but I actually went into the logo and added a little more to it, tweaked it and customized it a bit. We also went bigger with the front artwork, three inches bigger to be exact. The back is a photo taken by DCXX contributing photographer, Ken Salerno. What you’re seeing is the mayhem of a City Gardens crowd during BOLD’s set, July 9th, 1989. Pretty sure this was during “Wise Up” and the guy with the bleached hair sitting on top of the crowd with his back facing the camera is Hard Stance/Inside Out/Gorilla Biscuits bassist, Mark “Helmet” Hayworth. We felt like this photo really captured the moment and considering it’s a crowd shot as opposed to a band shot, it’s more about hardcore in general than the specifics a band might give you.
The City Gardens-crazed, stage diving crowd during a BOLD set in 1989, Photo: Ken Salerno
As for the quote, “Dedicated To Hardcore,” it’s nothing particularly original, but unquestionably and completely encompasses what DCXX is all about.
Thanks to Geoff and the TDT crew for making these happen, thanks to Chris “Smorgasbord” Daily for the inspiration (color scheme idea was inspired by one of Daily’s old Smorgasbord shirts), and big thanks to Ed McKirdy and Livewire Records for all of his help, fine tuning, and webstore. – Tim DCXX
Monday, March 8, 2010
Cro-Mags at Sonar, Baltimore MD, 3/6/2010, video by: CoreJunkie
This was one of those shows I had checked off on my calendar for months, hoping to be able to make it out to, but in the end, not being able to swing it. Thanks to Livewire board poster, Mark Anthony, I was able to at least catch a peek of what I missed. All I can say is, next time I do see the Cro-Mags, I sure hope “Crush The Demoniac” is on the set list again. -Tim DCXX
Sunday, March 7, 2010
The record that stands the test of time for me is Victim In Pain by Agnostic Front, always will. That record is amazing from beginning to end and represents a very special time to me, when hardcore first started taking over my entire life. When I joined Violent Children, somehow we got to play with AF many times, before VIP was even out but they had the same lineup (Billy Milano was their roadie and always kept us laughing). Roger and Vinny were always very cool to us and even put us on a bill with them at CBGB’s. One of the greatest compliments I ever got was after we played that show, Roger went up to Ray and said “Yo Ray, I really like your new guitar player, he reminds me of Al SSD… even though I fuckin’ hate Al SSD.”
The CB’s scene was more than sketchy back in the early to mid 80s, but Vinny was especially welcoming and friendly and although I was new, he always made me feel like “part of the family.” He let me borrow his amp on more than one occasion, and one time he literally gave me the shirt of his back! He wore this shirt at CB’s that had an Italian flag on it and said “America: We discovered it, We built it, We run it.” I mentioned to him that I thought it was cool and he said “Hey, you’re a pisan, take the shirt, I can get a new one.” That was Vinny, he was all heart, still is.
Porcell with Shelter at City Gardens, Trenton NJ, Photo: Ken Salerno
I remember being outside Cappo’s house waiting for him and he comes walking down the driveway with a huge grin on his face. “It’s out,” he said, which begged the question, WHAT THE HELL IS OUT!? Then he reached into a brown paper bag and pulled out the gatefold cover to Victim In Pain and I practically passed out. We RAN into his room and couldn’t get that thing on the turntable fast enough. From the opening chord of “Victim In Pain” all the way down to “With Time,” the record was just flawless…hardcore at its best. We probably listened to it a dozen times. Plus that photo on the inside from CB’s with Roger with the chain around his waist and Richie Stig doing the stagedive was incredible! What a record!
It really pissed me off when MRR demonized AF as nazis and bashed the Victim In Pain record. What part of “United & Strong/Blacks & Whites United & Strong/Punks & Skins” did they not understand? I was there. I saw what a positive impact AF had on the scene. They practically single-handedly united the NYHC scene and went out of their way to help new bands or anyone. They believed that NYHC was a family and we should be fighting the outside world, not each other. That made a huge impression on me as a kid and it’s stuck with me all these years.
Even today, when I listen to VIP, it sounds as fresh and vital as the first time I heard it. I put that thing on and immediately I’m transported back to CBGB’s, singing along with Power, screaming “Stigma!” and feeling like music could change the world. Changed my life at least. -Porcell
Porcell with Youth Of Today at The Living Room, Providence RI, January 1989
Friday, March 5, 2010
Last Thursday we ran a piece on Amenity that was accompanied by a story from Anthony Pappalardo and the debut of a new song called, “You Can’t Stop The Show”. Originally the plan was that our entry would coincide with another Amenity entry that was supposed to be on a San Diego based website called San Diego Dialed In. Unfortunately, the timing was off by a week and San Diego Dialed In just got their piece up today. With some help and coordination from Amenity frontman Mike Down, we thought it would be cool to do a quick entry here on DCXX to help funnel a little traffic over to San Diego Dialed In’s piece. Check it out here: sddialedin.com -Tim DCXX
Mike Down and Tim Gonzales of Amenity go knuckle to knuckle while recording, “You Can’t Stop The Show”, Photo courtesy of: Mike Down
Thursday, March 4, 2010
In the coming weeks, to coincide with the release of their new LP, “Three Steps Back,” we are gonna be running a ton of great Killing Time material. To kick things off, we got Lars Weiss (Judge, Uppercut) who is a close friend of the band and even played in the band briefly, to interview guitarist Carl Porcaro. Carl starts with the history of Breakdown and how that spawned the formation of Raw Deal. Big thanks to both Lars and Carl! -Gordo DCXX
Right before Breakdown, where were you in the mid 80s in terms of music, and how did you get into hardcore?
I heard hardcore for the first time in the mid 80s, probably started going to CB’s in ‘86. Coming up from suburban metal stuff, I was looking for something faster, something that had something more interesting to say, but still appealed to me in the same way with loud guitars and drums. At that time there was no internet to fall back on, there was basically going to record stores, picking up what you could on the radio, checking out ‘zines. You would pick up an Angry Samoans record, a Ramones record, a Husker Du record, a Black Flag record, a Minor Threat record. Then you’d pick up “Victim in Pain” and a little something happens and you’re like ‘I like the New York thing, this is cool and its happening right here.’ Then you would pick up ‘zines like Guillotine and Maximum RnR. Then pretty soon you’re ordering demos from bands. Then you’re at CB’s. Slowly you’ve gathered up all this information and it has sucked you in. Then you’re standing in front of CB’s for the first time being like “What the fuck, there are some ill people here.”
What was your first show?
I was thinking about that on the subway over here. I can’t answer that question, it was all a blur. Probably Agnostic Front at their most metal, with Carnivore opening. Or maybe Crumbsuckers and Ludichrist. There was an early Dag Nasty show I went to…
Did you see them with Dave Smalley?
Yes, I know I saw Warzone. Maybe Straight Ahead. I distinctly remember the Dag Nasty show, the Crumbsuckers, and the AF show really stand out.
Did you see the Cro-Mags at CB’s?
No, I saw them at the Ritz. One of the demos I ordered that really solidified that fact that I was completely into NYHC was their demo cassette. I love their album, but in the early days I liked the cassette better. It seemed more urgent.
Breakdown’s first show at The Oasis, Mamaroneck, NY, Photo courtesy of: Anthony Drago
So as for going to shows and who you were going with, you’ve known Bill Wilson from Blackout Records since you were little kids?
know him from nursery school. We discovered this stuff together. We were both into metal, and then got into punk, and hardcore and hip hop all at the same time.
So it was you and Bill and who else?
It was him and the Angelilli brothers. Don was the first guitarist for Breakdown. Yeah, I think I heard the AOD record for the first time at Don’s house. Don and his brother Paul and his cousin Dave.
From going to shows and hanging with Bill and Don, how does that lead into Breakdown?
I was a guitar player, Don was a guitar player so we jammed together. Going to Hardcore and Punk shows opens your eyes to the fact that you can express yourself and it doesn’t require a high level of expertise. You don’t have to be some crazy assed musician, its about what you’re gonna say, what riffs you’re going to write, the sound you’re gonna get. Before I got into this music, it’s like everyone you know is playing covers and the measure of how good it is is whether it’s note for note. Then you get into hardcore and you’re like “fuck that, I’ve got a riff.” You get psyched. There’s going to be places to play. You know guys in bands that you like.
Rich and Carl, Photo courtesy of: Anthony Drago
So jamming with Don, did that lead to any of the first Breakdown songs?
To be honest it didn’t take that long. We wrote songs immediately. Then we met Rich McLoughlin.
So you met him at the same time? Around ’86?
Yeah, Don met him at the public pool in Yonkers.
Where Bill was the lifeguard?
Yeah, probably. It’s like he was the only punk rock kid at the Yonkers public pool. He had a severe mohawk. He wasn’t hard to find. He had a friend named Lou who played drums. So we were in Rich’s garage right away writing songs. Then Jeff came to us through Tony Pradlik from Mad Platters. When I heard Jeff sing, I was like “this could be a real band.” Then Lou didn’t really cut it. So through Tony we found Drago. He knew him because everyone rolled through that store.
So let’s talk about that for second. Coming from Yonkers, Mad Platters was a pretty important spot?
Carl: You had no access without a spot like that. That was an access point for all kinds of things. Before that, if you wanted to buy something a little out of the mainstream, you were relegated to an import section that was like half a bin at a Sam Goody or Corvettes. Then you had Mad Platters that had every kind of music. That’s where everyone hung out. That’s where I got all the records I have. You could get zines, too. More importantly, you had the guy Tony who ran the place and was always recommending music he thought you might be into. One day he’s like “you should check out this kid Drago, he’s a drummer and he’s really into the Misfits.” It was a networking spot. We wouldn’t meet people like that at our school. Nobody was into what we were into.
Breakdown sticker by Chaka Malik ’88
It’s like meeting Rich at the pool. If you even saw someone that might look like he was into hardcore, you would just go up to him and start talking?
Or you had beef. It was totally amazing time, not a lot of that going on today. Taking it another step, going downtown to Some Records. That took it to another level that was so focused on everything NYHC. The same thing that happened with Tony, happened with Duane. Later on Duane was like “Anthony from Token Entry is looking for a new band.”
We’ll get to that later. Some for records and 99x for style…
I’m wearing a Fred Perry right now…
You eventually started selling the Breakdown demo through Some Records. How many of those did you sell?
A tremendous amount. It was unbelievable.
Carl Pocaro, Anthony Drago and Rich McLoughlin, early Breakdown practice, Photo: Bill Wilson
So tell us about the demo?
We got with Drago and started practicing in his garage. We practiced all the time.
How did the songs come together?
I wrote some on my own. Don wrote some. Rich wrote some. Don and I collaborated on a few.
Who wrote the lyrics?
I wrote one song. Jeff wrote the rest of the lyrics.
Breakdown demo cover
So by mid-1986, you got the band together and you had the demo songs. How many shows did Breakdown play with the original line up (Jeff, Don, Rich, Drago, and yourself)?
With that line up, about 15 shows. The first show was during the fall of ’86 at church in Mamaroneck, NY. We played with a band called Zombie Squad who were from Mamaroneck. We were from Yonkers, the wrong side of the tracks. They were a really good punk band, but we were doing some really hardcore shit. We just blew up the spot. We started playing and the show was immediately shut down. People had no idea how to react.
Breakdown were kind of a new style of hardcore, I group it in there with Leeway, who I know you guys liked, it had that those breakbeat parts and sort of hip hop parts, later on Outburst had the same vibe…
We always wanted to be real fresh (cracks up). Hip-hop for all us at that time was just as important to us as hardcore. Things like the first BDP record, the first Public Enemy record. So were sneakers and graffiti. It had to be fresh… I remember discussions we had about that. We loved how NY Hardcore bands would have the hanging power chord ringing over the beat right before the mosh part. We wanted to make those parts sound like hip hop.
Leeway and Breakdown are a beginning of that sound. So you did that show, you played the Anthrax….
We could not get a gig in New York. Nobody in the city would book us. I think we played Albany. We got to play the Right Track Inn in Long Island with Krakdown and the NY Hoods with Gavin. We played CT. We played 288 Lark in Albany. We did that circuit twice before we got to play NY. Then we played the Pyramid. Ray Cappo and Raybeez were booking shows there together. We played with Side By Side and YDL. The demo was just out at that point. Then we got to play CB’s. I was just floored when everyone knew the songs. People were singing the songs….
The first show at CB’s was with Uniform Choice?
Yes, that was it. And there was one other CB’s show with that line up.
So you played with Uniform Choice the first time they played in NY?
We were so psyched to play with them. We weren’t straight edge, but everyone thought we were. We weren’t drinking or doing drugs either, but we didn’t call ourselves straight edge. I remember being blown away about the whole thing [playing with UC]…it’s our first gig at CB’s, with a band we were totally into, we had their t-shirts and everything. I remember being really pent up and then completely ripping it. Everyone went crazy…
First Breakdown show at the Anthrax, Carl and Jeff Perlin, Photo: Bill Wilson
Yeah, I remember that. So you played CB’s, then you played there again? Did Breakdown ever headline there?
I don’t remember. Don’t remember who it was with. There’s video of it. I remember the show because Anthony was into Breakdown and was on stage with us. We had written “Telltale” as a Breakdown song and we played it as an intrumental. We just played it and Jeff left the stage and Anthony was hanging out on stage with us so it strangely was like the first Raw Deal show (laughs).
So you did Breakdown until…
We were really beginning to get it going. There were personality conflicts. Having been in lots of bands I now realize that’s just the way it is, but when it’s your first time you sometimes take that stuff way too personally. My guess is that mostly Rich and Jeff just didn’t see eye to eye on anything. Then shit erupted over a girl. Don and Rich were into the same girl, neither of them too seriously but that was the spark. Then there were threats and the band was gonna beat each other up. Then it was done…it happened so fast.
That was in 1987…Breakdown breaks up, so you got Raw Deal together almost immediately?
It was unclear who was Breakdown. There was me, Rich and Drago and there was Don and Jeff. Jeff was the voice of the band of course, but there were 3 of us and 2 of them so…
And what’s a hardcore band that hasn’t replaced its singer at one point…
Your right that we got Raw Deal together almost immediately, but before we did that we went and did another show as Breakdown in Albany with Steve Reddy singing. It was a classic youth crew show, I want to say GB and Side By Side were on that bill. We played and we were pretty terrible. The show was on a Saturday and I think we called Steve the Tuesday before to ask him to do it. Anyway, we did that and it sort of dawned on us that were weren’t gonna continue down that road. That was in the early fall of 1987. The first Raw Deal practice was that day.
Carl and Anthony Communale with Raw Deal at Oliver J’s, Photo: Ken Salerno
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
Jay Pepito with Reign Supreme, Photo: Zac Wolf
In our continuing effort to bring more of what’s current and happening in today’s hardcore scene to DCXX, we bring you Reign Supreme’s front man, Jay Pepito. Jay’s a guy that I’ve known for a number of years now and he’s been nothing but handshakes and smiles backed by a serious passion for skull crushing hardcore. If you’ve caught a Reign Supreme set over the past couple of years, you already know just how hard they deliver, now read what Jay and the band are all about. -Tim DCXX
Tell us about where you grew up and how you discovered hardcore?
I grew up in a few towns around the Jersey Shore in the 90s. Skateboarding, surfing, BMX, and teenage mischief were pretty big in my youth, and that kind of stuff got me into underground music. I was really into Nirvana, and from interviews with them, I heard about the Bad Brains, Minor Threat, SSD, and others. So I saved up, and every time I got my mom to drive me to the record store in Howell, NJ, I would have some new stuff.
I didn’t really love hardcore at that point; I was more into the melody and urgency of the screamo/emo bands of the 90s like Julia, Cap N Jazz, Hoover, Frail, etc. But when my older brother gave me a copy of Turning Point’s “Before the Dawn,” I fell in love. I finally got it. Then I began to track down everything I could find on thank you lists, and everything he said was worth investigating. So I sold all my old records, completed my Revelation discography, the Schism stuff, and that was that. I was vegetarian and straight edge instantly, and my distaste for all things mainstream had come full circle.
What was it about hardcore that attracted you to it in the early days?
It was the urgency and anger of it. I liked punk music and stuff like that, but it always felt alien. Like these homeless dudes with gross hair who hadn’t bathed in months just seemed like they were different than me. But the guys in Turning Point and Youth Of Today were young, clean cut, came from the suburbs, and appeared athletic and interested in bettering themselves and changing the world. That spoke to me. That’s still how I am today. I’ve always believed in something that I read in an early Floorpunch interview, that “positive things can come from negative emotions”, and hardcore seemed like positive, angry, defiant guys just like me, who refused to play the hand they were dealt. They were pissed, and they were going to scream about it, and so was I.
Who were some of your early favorite bands and why?
I have loved Black Flag (early stuff only, sorry Schweigert!) since I was 11. AMAZING band. In my teen years, I really fell in love with the Rev stuff, Youth Of Today, Chain, GB, Judge, Burn, etc. After that, it was all NYHC, AF, Madball, Outburst, Raw Deal, Warzone, The Cro-Mags, Straight Ahead, Leeway, and all their ilk. I grew up in a great era for hardcore too, and those bands were probably the biggest influence on me, because I got to see them all the time. Madball is hands down my favorite hardcore band ever. I saw them all the time in the late 90s, and they were like a demonic force, a wall of sound that made me want to mosh like the skinheads I’d seen at their shows.
I loved Floorpunch too, great live band, with a great aesthetic. I saw Ensign and Kill Your Idols probably twenty something times each, they played together all the time. KYI were ok, not really my thing, but I loved that first Ensign LP, so good. In My Eyes was great, their second LP is one of my favorite hardcore records ever. So all that late 90s tough guy stuff and straight edge stuff was really my favorite stuff. I loved the late 80′s NYHC and all that, but those bands weren’t playing shows, so you had to just love the records.
Mike Doto with Reign Supreme, Photo courtesy of: Deathwish
Give us some of your favorite early show memories and how did they impact you in terms of you wanting to start your own band?
My first hardcore show was in 1998. My parents wouldn’t let me go to Asbury Park, but I snuck out and went with my friend who drove us. It was Breakdown, Floorpunch, Ensign, Fastbreak, and Full Speed Ahead. GREAT show, and the reason I got into hardcore. During FP, I got thrown through a pepsi machine, and I fell in love with the pure, honest aggression of hardcore. I love all those bands to this day, except Fastbreak, they weren’t really my thing. Started playing in hardcore bands right after that, I wanted then what I still want out of playing shows now: a mass of youth, losing their minds in rebellious expression. Stage dives, hard pitting, gang shouts, all that stuff.
Tell us about your early bands, how they came together and some of your stand out memories from them.
Jesus Christ, some of those were REALLY embarrassing. But I think it’s like that for everybody, you know, you don’t know what’s cool or what’s not when you first get into hardcore, you just go for it. I played in this band called Inside Fight, that was my first hardcore band. I wanted us to sound like Sick Of It All, or Warzone….I think we sounded like Comin’ Correct mixed with some kind of grade school nu-metal band. Anyways, we were really bad, and actually in an issue of Parade Brigade fanzine, the dude Bill talks to Porter from FP about these “little kid bands from the shore that cover Clear”…well, that was us. Haha, we were bad, but it was fun.
After that, we started this band called A Thin Line Fading. ATLF was like a straight edge hardcore band, definite melodic youth crew vibes, but we had some heavier parts too, maybe some mid-90s metalcore influence, without it being too prominent. We played a few shows and tried to play out of state whenever possible, and that band kind of dissolved right after we graduated high school. We did cover “Don’t Tread On Me” before the whole Rev board began jocking the Cro-Mags and before being ‘hard’ was cool in hardcore again.
Anyways, after that came Anything Goes and Full Contact. Anything Goes was more of a NYHC styled band, didn’t last long, but it was fun, definite youth crew influence but with hard mosh parts and stuff like that. Full Contact was the first band I was in that I was really proud of. Really solid youth crew kind of hardcore, great song structure, varsity jackets and pos tops, totally awesome. That band became Knockdown, after our singer heard Straight Ahead and discovered the skinhead thing, and I left when I chose to serve my country in the USMC.
You joined the Marines, where were you at that time in your life when you joined and in what way did you feel changed once your were out?
I was a mess when I joined. I didn’t know who I was anymore, I didn’t understand my future, I was just angry at that point, and just a dumb, confused kid. I didn’t know what I was getting myself into, just needed an outlet for my aggression, and a strong label to call myself to prove I was a man. I got kicked out after I did some dumb stuff, and I learned my lesson. I was really hot-headed and confrontational when I joined, and after I got out, I realized that ‘there’s always gonna be somebody tougher no matter where you go’, and that life wasn’t so rough and miserable. I figured out that life was something to be lived, and loved. I moved to Philadelphia, and started playing in some bands with some dudes from that city.
Klint Kanopka and Jay with Reign Supreme, Photo: Zac Wolf
How did Reign Supreme come together and what were your early aspirations and directions for the sound?
We started as sort of a jam project among a couple friends, we just were looking to play some music in the vein of that heavier late 90s and early 2000s metalcore. Stuff like Integrity, Biohazard, Madball, Hatebreed. We just wanted to play metal basically, haha. It’s funny, because most bands start off fast and melodic, and get ‘tougher’ as they get older. We started off sounding like Obituary, and got faster and more melodic as we progressed. So I guess it’s unusual; I started embracing my earlier influences as Reign Supreme evolved.
Tell us about some of the early Reign Supreme – shows how did you see yourselves being perceived?
Some of the early shows were great, some were hilarious. All were weird, because I knew we were tighter and heavier than a lot of other bands out there. But we NEVER KISSED ANYONE’S ASS, and we NEVER PLAYED BY THE SCENE POLITIC RULES. We never really became down with the ‘cool kids’ in modern day hardcore, but I found that the more we played, the larger our fan base got. In every sense of the word, Reign Supreme was perceived as a rock band, not a hardcore band. Our fans weren’t just hardcore kids, they were metal kids, kids into pop punk, kids into weird-hair alt rock, and other stuff.
I realized early on that some people were going to see us, and based off appearance, judge us as a tough guy hardcore band, and that some were going to listen to us, and hear the same tightly driven rhythmic force that they loved in other forms of music, instead of the wishy-washy garbage that so many supposedly ‘visionary’ hardcore bands puke out nowadays. It was cool to know that we weren’t like our so-called peers, because I always knew I had nothing in common with them.
How did things come together with Deathwish Records and what can you say about what they have done to support you so far?
Deathwish happened by accident actually. We were on Malfunction, which is a small label, run by two friends of mine. Malfunction was about to go under, due to stress and financial burdens, and Deathwish kind of came in and bought the label, saving all the bands on it, and allowing us to go forward with their support. They’re a great label, run by great people, and they help us out as much as they can. I have no complaints. It’s cool, because Jake is the singer of one of our biggest influences, so there’s always that connection, which I like. I like being surrounded by people who inspire me, if we were on almost any other hardcore label, I’d probably lose it. If we weren’t on Deathwish, I’d like us to be on some kind of weird metal/indie rock label.
Joe Vergara with Reign Supreme, Photo courtesy of: Deathwish
Is there any basic underlying themes behind Reign Supreme’s lyrics? Obviously most of the songs are dealing with different issues, but if you could sum up what the band is about, what would it be?
The basic theme of our music can be summed up in two parts. One, that the human race is a disease, and society is an enemy of everyone in it, whether they know it or not. Two, that a sovereign heart and a will of iron is the most important thing in the world. My mindset and worldview is influenced by Buddhism, Ayn Rand, Thomas Hobbes, Mark Twight, Jason Ferruggia, and many other confusing and seemingly counter-intuitive ideologies. I guess, without getting too meta-level with it, I believe in loving yourself, and those around you with everything you have, and living your life to the absolute fullest, whatever that means for you. And if anyone gets in the way of that, crush them, and everything they stand for.
What is the dynamic of the members within Reign Supreme, and what would you say each person brings to the band?
It’s like the primate part of the zoo. Klint is the smart one, he is a great realist and is always helpful with making the right decision. Mikey is the Dad of the group, always plays it safe and smart. Joe is the baby of the band, always doing dumb stuff and making us late and quitting for no reason. And I think I’m the dreamer, the artist, and the asshole. It’s a delicate balance between harmonious engineering and utter chaos.
What have been some of the best and biggest shows you have played so far and how much does the crowds response play into what you deem as a great show?
Our sold out show in Tokyo with Converge was one of our best ever, the last show we played in Europe with Dirty Money and 50 Lions was unreal, that was sold out too. The Sound and Fury and This Is Hardcore festivals are always awesome, those are totally memorable and they were a lot of fun. I loved our set at Bamboozle, which is this big like pop-punk festival, it was just cool because there were literally thousands of kids pitting for us, it was like we were Metallica for a half hour.
The crowd response is important to me, we are a live band, we are a band that thrives off of the intensity of the people in the audience. The best shows we play are always ones in rooms that sound great, aren’t huge, and have a ton of kids there to see us. That’s our element, that’s where we thrive. It becomes more than a hardcore show, it becomes a unifying release of anger and frustration. It’s great.
Jay with an in your face Reign Supreme sing along, Photo: Zac Wolf
Tell us about your tours, US, Europe, Japan, and what are some of your best memories from these tours?
So so so many tours and so many memories. I’d say, the things I’ll remember most are the dumb things along the way. The hanging out with my best friends late night, and the stuff that goes with that, bad food, pool parties, trouble making, getting caught stealing, all that funny stuff you do on tour.
The most special things for me, are getting to play with and befriend so many of our inspirations. We’ve played with 7 Seconds, Danzig, GB, The Cro-Mags, Madball, Earth Crisis, Strife, Killing Time, Shai Hulud, Hatebreed, Converge, and just so many bands that I look up to… I mean, that’s really cool. We’ve done more than most hardcore bands ever have a chance to. John Joseph once said that we were one of the best hardcore bands he’s seen in years. Things like that are really dear to me.
Where do you see yourself and Reign Supreme headed in the future?
I see myself finishing school, opening my own training center, and sort of blowing up the athletic training thing, maybe moving to the west coast. I see Reign Supreme writing another record, and then seeing what happens. The new stuff is so different from how we started, and we’re all getting older and busier with our real lives….I’m not sure how much more mileage we can get out of the same mosh parts over and over again haha. We will see where the road takes us.
I know that we’re done with the touring thing, we might hit the road briefly from time to time, but at a certain point, we’ll probably only play shows that we really feel like we need to. I am pretty confident we will write at least one more record though.
When it’s all said and done, how do you want Reign Supreme to be remembered?
I know that a lot of people just think of us as some run of the mill metalcore band, and I’m not saying that we’re not. But we play in Reign Supreme because we like loud, heavy, abrasive music. We have nothing to prove to anyone. All that we do is play the kind of music that we like, you can call it hardcore, metal, whatever. And for absolute sure, I can pretty much guarantee you that every hardcore kid who likes our band will hate us, as soon as they hear the new record we’re writing, because it’s musically more similar to a mix of Motorhead, the Deftones, and Explosions In The Sky than it is to Hatebreed.
I figured out a long time ago that the semantics don’t matter; the ethics and intensity of the delivery do. I know a lot of bands and kids in hardcore these days DON’T GIVE A SHIT. They don’t care about anything except flannel, vans, and stupid materialistic things. Reign Supreme has played benefit shows, we raised money for local animal shelters, we’ve done our best to condemn the establishment, but humbly tried to give a little bit of ourselves. That’s what matters about bands, it’s not the t-shirts or how ‘crazy’ their live set was. It’s what they did with it all.
We lived it up, we had a blast, and we gave back more than we ever took out of hardcore. We dropped out of our real lives for a few years and gave. I’d like people to remember us as a bunch of fucked up kids, who were mad as hell about the way the world is, and who tried their best to make the most of their youth by cramming into a van and giving it an honest go. Beyond that, what else is there? Legacies are fleeting, and usually they die before they’re born. I’d just like to be able to smile when it’s all said and done.
Reign Supreme Philadelphia style, Photo courtesy of: Deathwish
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
Billy with Haywire at Gilman Street, 1990, Photo: Drew Traulsen
Billy Rubin – Half Off / Haywire
The hardcore/punk record that has stood the test of time is “London Calling” by the CLASH. This record is so relevant today that I sometimes wonder if it is fair to classify it as punk. The production quality is terrific, the blending of different musical styles is harmonic, and the layout/design/cover photo still gets me worked up. There are many great hardcore records but the truth is that for every single one of the greats there are 3-4 knock offs that came in the late 80’s or 90’s. No one has been able to do what the Clash managed to do and for that reason London Calling gets my vote.
Freddy Alva – New Breed compilation
KRAUT’s “An Adjustment to Society” would be my pick. Besides being a sentimental favorite (1st. HC record I ever bought) & after 25-plus years, the LP’s driving mid to fast tempos, soaring choruses & amazing guitar work still resonate with me. Quite a pedigree as well: 1st. HC video on MTV, backups by Steve Jones from the Pistols, future Cro-Magnon Doug Holland, Orchestral arrangements on Side 2 etc.. Them being from my neck of the woods (Queens), struck a chord w/me, too bad the CD reissue is so low on the mix. I know this song wasn’t on the LP, but bonus points for best Teenage-HC libido: “I’m fucking my girl at the matinee!!”
Chris Lohman with Blackspot at The Chain Reaction, 3/2/09, Photo courtesy of: Blackspot
Chris Lohman – Blackspot / Collateral Damage
Cro-Mags, Age of Quarrel. The backbone of the music is simple, which gives all the songs clarity and rhythm. This means that it’s easier for people to connect with, and that’s what gives it its staying power. The vocals, guitar leads, and the drumming give the album the complexity and the depth it needs to stand the test of time…if those three elements weren’t there, it would be just another punk album. The vocals are hard to replicate, which gives it originality, so it’s nothing like anything you have heard before. It also was one of the first to combine punk/hardcore and metal. I personaly have been listening to this album since 1986 or so, and still when I hear the stick clicks at the beginning of We Gotta Know I still get that feeling of excitement. If you’re into punk/hardcore or metal today you wouldn’t be disappointed, it has metal leads and hardcore breakdowns that people still steal from now. This is an album that has to be in everyone’s collection. Just look on Ebay, this record is getting close to being to 30 years old, and it’s still being bought and sold. If it wasn’t for this record, I think things in my life could be different. I’m not saying that things would turn out bad for me, I just would be into different music, and wouldn’t be who I am today.
Monday, March 1, 2010
In a landslide win, Don’t Forget The Struggle dominated this poll, and got my vote in the process. To me, that’s a great LP the whole way through and to me it sounds like the band at their late 80s Fist Records peak: SUPER tight playing, great lyrics, classic line-up, mosh parts galore, big sing alongs, and an overall feeling of urgency that shines through in every song. Every time I hear it I want to grab a punk, a skinhead, a metalhead, and a hip-hop dude and just march down the street with them while we fight bad dudes and come to the aid of anyone in need. The hardcore LP is a tough thing to pull off for any band, but I’ve always thought Warzone has one of the stand outs from that era. It’s all there. Love that record.
I also really like Open Your Eyes and never understood the description of it being “metal.” Sure, there are more leads and some slower parts, but I still want to shave my eyebrows, sing along, and dance when I listen to it.
The EP is a classic and while it didn’t get my vote, Chris Zusi (Floorpunch) sums up what it meant and still means to him. Rest In Peace, Raybeez. -Gordo DCXX
Chris Zusi on the Warzone Lower East Side Crew EP
Warzone’s Lower East Side Crew EP is the record that made me feel as though I was a part of the hardcore scene. I had been to shows and had other hardcore records before buying the Warzone EP, but I didn’t really feel as though I belonged in the scene until I heard the first notes of “War Between Races.” Warzone was my first “favorite” hardcore band and this ep is the reason for it. Every song is a classic, possessing that sense of urgency that you can’t really describe to people outside of hardcore.
I remember making a tape of the EP and playing it everywhere I went on this little shitty boom box I used to carry around. In 1987, no one outside of hardcore knew that hardcore existed. I felt so cool to be a part of something so real, and I was almost afraid that someone was going to find out about it and take it away. Having a tape of the Warzone EP with me at all times kept me in “the scene” and reminded me not to get caught up in everyday high school bullshit. I don’t want to get too philosophical here, but it’s a lot like Plato’s allegory of the cave – once you escape from the cave and see the “light” how can you go back to living your life the same way as everyone chained inside the cave? That’s what hardcore meant to me back then and the Warzone EP was the reason for it.
Here are two Warzone stories that I can’t leave out:
1) By the end of 1987 drugs had pretty much ruined my life. I got cleaned up, found the edge, and started to really get into the SE scene. Since Warzone was my favorite band at the time, I immediately connected with the song “Wound Up.” So much so that I wrote a fan letter to “Warzone” telling them how much I loved the EP and how much I appreciated the lyrics on the record. So my first SE idol was Raybeez! I think even Ray would get a kick out of that. Actually, Ray wrote me a very genuine letter back telling me how much he appreciated the kind words and how he struggled with drugs and that I should do all I could to stay clean and positive – plus he sent me 2 Warzone LESC stickers. Man, I wish I still had that letter.
2) Around 1997 (I’m too lazy to look up the actual date) Floorpunch played a show with Warzone and a few other bands at the Wetlands in NYC (Ed. Note – April 27, 1997). Our 7″ had just come out a few months prior so we had a box of them at our merch table to sell. After the show we packed up and headed home. When I get home I realized that I didn’t have the box of 7″s and knew that I must have left them at the show. I called the Wetlands and they didn’t find anything, so I figure we were screwed.
A couple of days later I come home and see a message on my answering machine. I hit play and as soon as I hear the voice I’m frozen in my tracks…it’s Raybeez. “Yo Chris, this is Ray from Warzone. We picked up a box of your records at the show and I want to meet up to get them back to you. The Warzone women (yes, he said that) want to keep them because the record is so dope, but I convinced them that this is the right thing to do.” I think I called 10 people after that, giddy as a school girl, and quoted the whole message to them. I saved that message for weeks and would just listen to it randomly throughout the day.
When we’re younger we have a tendency to put our idols on a pedestal, and a lot of times this makes for a fall from grace when we realize that they are not perfect. Anyone who knew Raybeez knew that he was far from perfect. But there’s nothing wrong with remembering the good when people are gone. Rest In Peace. -Zusi
Warzone – “Don’t Forget The Struggle, Don’t Forget The Streets” LP – 273
Warzone – “Lower East Side Crew” EP – 91
Warzone – “Open Your Eyes” LP – 26
Sunday, February 28, 2010
Clifford with BL’AST! in 2001, photo: Fred Hammer
In classic short and sweet style, Clifford delivers more BL’AST! history and answers. Dusted Angel is going into the studio soon to record their LP, so Clifford will be back after that with more. Until then.. -Gordo DCXX
What are your favorite songs off of The Power Of Expression?
Our Explanation and Something Beyond.
By 1985, how had the California scene changed from the turn of the decade? Where did you feel that BL’AST! fit in?
It was getting more metal influenced, with the whole crossover thing. Also, the whole “gang” thing got really heavy within the scene.
Old style BL’AST! with a bleached out Clifford Dinsmore
What exactly happened with Steve leaving and Kip coming in? What was the difference between the Steve line-up, the 4-piece line up, and the Kip line-up to you? Did you have any idea Kip would end up 20 years later with Alice In Chains?
Steve decided to leave the band, and Kip had sent us a letter asking if we needed a guitar player. C.O.C knew him and gave him a good reference, so we tried him out. He wasn’t in the band for long, but we played some of our best shows ever with him, and he wrote a couple of rad songs. I enjoyed all the BL’AST! line-ups. Come to think of it, I do recall Kip mumbling something under his breath, along the lines of…”some day, when I grow up, I’m going to be in a band called Alice In Chains.” (ED. Note: Zing!)
There has always been some confusion as to BL’AST!’s ties with the straight edge scene. Some early lyrics have some “straight” themes, i.e. I Don’t Need II, but nothing too concrete. Where did the band fit in with the growing SE scene of the later 80s, and what exactly is going on with the sound clip at the end of I Don’t Need II on Power?
I was the only “straight-edger” in the band. While I was sitting around pumping iron and listening to Insted, the other dudes were shooting hard drugs into their eyeballs, penises, and labias, and drinking Bacardi 151 out of a beer bong. For that reason, we didn’t really fit in with the straight edge scene. I recall that the clip at the end of I Don’t Need II was that of an ice cold 16 ouncer of delightfully refreshening Ranier Ale being cracked open.
BL’AST! Santa Cruz Skateboards ad that appeared in Rip Magazine
What were some of the perks of the Santa Cruz Skate ties? What do you remember about the Roskopp photo session/poster? How did you guys fit into the skate scene of the time and how did that fit into the whole image/vibe of BL’AST?
It was rad being hooked up with Santa Cruz, and they would give us tons of shit to give away. Near riots would constantly ensue when we would throw out a new “Slasher” or Roskopp model into the crowd. I remember throwing a “Slasher” board into the audience at The Rat in Boston before Time To Think/Surf And Destroy, and when the 2 songs ended, there was still a huge dog-pile of people fighting over it! I thought the giant, meathead bouncers were going to kill us!
The Roskopp photo session was hilarious! He broke his board on the practice run, and Tim Pumarta had to drive back to NHS during rush-hour traffic to grab a couple more. Meanwhile we were standing around with all of our equipment set up in the middle of the street. BL’AST! was four skaters and a surfer…it’s what we and all of our friends were all about.
How did BL’AST! develop or change after Power, and how did the It’s In My Blood songs develop? Did anything with the band change, or did it feel like you just kept on truckin’? Was SST exactly where you wanted to end up?
BL’AST! was always changing and getting more hectic. We were dedicated to musical expansion, and breaking the norm. During that golden era, SST was the place to be…my, how things have changed.
BL’AST! pic stolen from Thrash Metal Magazine, 1988
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