Monday, February 15, 2010
A few years back I got to see something called, “QUICKSAND – The Movie,” which was a home made video filmed by Joe Nelson on the Quicksand/Rage tour in 1993. It was a really cool video with all sorts of behind the scenes inside joking and shenanigans, as well as some great live footage. Quicksand and company soundchecking, playing, driving, arguing, eating, sleeping, cracking on people, etc. Pretty cool.
I don’t think this video ever circulated too much…until now. Joe Nelson has unearthed his copy, upped it to YouTube, and you are seeing it here first, along with Joe’s director’s cut commentary. Enjoy! -Gordo DCXX
On my second Quicksand tour I brought out my video camera, and put together a home made 90-minute tour documentary, called “Quicksand The Movie.” Quicksand was touring on “Slip,” and we had just come off the Anthrax/White Zombie tour. I was the “drum tech,” but was only really part of the Quicksand crew because they wanted their bros to share in the fun.
The tour was with our friends Rage Against The Machine, who had just released their first CD, and for a month in the fall of 1993 we toured the U.S. together in the 1500 – 3500 capacity club circuit. It was a wild, exciting time for all of us. We all felt like the kids who got handed the keys to the candy store. All of us, Zack De La Rocha from Rage included, still felt totally out of place, and way more aligned to our hardcore roots then the rock circuit world we were now in.
Keep in mind we were a bunch of kids in their early twenties, who for the past 5 years had toured only in vans, slept in squats or some kid’s house. We were dudes who more or less had been blowing around the country and Europe much like a tumbleweed, no real direction, nor purpose, but just a belief that as long as you kept on perpetually moving you would one day get some place, eventually…well MAYBE.
Looking back at this video for the first time in at least 10 years, I was in awe of how innocent we all truly were, and how special that moment in time was to be part of. It was like watching a coming of age story in some ways. I went on tour with other bands, but it was never quite the same as those early Quicksand tours. To steal from Gordie Lachance of Stand By Me, “I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was twelve, (or in my case 23)…Jesus, does anyone?”
Anyway, here’s a cliff notes version of the “movie,” along with some anecdotes. - Joe Nelson
The Tour Begins.
The first show of this tour was at the infamous Iguanas club in Tijuana, Mexico. This first clip is just the opening credits, and then dudes goofing around on the bus during the drive to Texas. Being part of the Rage/Quicksand crew also meant you had to drive the equipment truck at times, so I remember Scott Lytle and I had the overnighter from Mexico, to Phoenix, therefore the movie doesn’t really start until after the first 2 shows.
Super Genius & Unfulfilled
Thorough out the documentary there’s at least part of one of Quicksand’s songs from their set. Since they were direct support the set was only about 8 songs deep. “Super Genius” was brand spanking new at the time, so they were still working it out live. Unfulfilled was off the Revelation 7”, and then was re-recorded for “Slip”
Tour Montage # 1
This is just random stuff pulled from the beginning of the movie. The first clip is from Dallas, TX where some dude does back flips for us. The second is Lytle and I sharing a cab ride in Lawrence, KS with some nutter cab driver, God bless him for letting me interview him though. The third part is outside the club in St. Louis, with some lady who called herself “The Human Cockroach” which will more or less explain itself. The last part is Sergio and I goofing around in the basement of the St. Louis club where a crazzzzzzy wind tunnel would happen whenever you opened the boiler room door.
Lie And Wait – How Soon Is Now – One Family (YOT)
Lie and Wait was how they started their set every night. There’s also a clip from the ending of How Soon Is Now, originally by The Smiths. What cracks me up is you can see Brad from Rage’s “backwards” drum set, which was his gimmick on that tour. He had mirrors all over it so he could see Tom, or Zack’s cues during their set. We all thought it was sooooooo gay, BUT fuck is he a good drummer.
The last song is Charlie Gariga, the guitar tech, and later of CIV fame lip singing along to One Family by Youth Of Today. Seeing everyone goof around to YOT on the tour bus pretty much sums us all up. We were all hardcore kids, and we were all total dorks.
Tour Montage # 2
Random clips from the middle part of the movie. This stuff pretty much captures what tour really is: a bunch of dudes on a bus trying to entertain each other so you don’t die of complete boredom. In a nutshell you have Sergio talking about the injustices of the health care system. Next up is Walter playing the Gorilla Biscuits song “Slut” with me doing the “Awwwwww Awwwwwws,” and last you have Sergio as the Devil, Tom as Smurfette, and Me as the Monkey Boy. ummmm…no comment.
Head To Wall and Omission (Sound check)
The one thing that was so great about this tour is every night you watched Quicksand, and Rage Against The Machine play. Here’s two more songs from “Slip” – well Omission is off the Rev 7” too. Head To Wall was always my favorite. Because I toured with them so much I probably saw Quicksand 200+ times, and Head To Wall was always great live. Omission was most of the time the band’s sound checker, and usually Charlie played Walter’s guitar. I remember a couple times after this we even busted out “We Gotta Know” by the Cro-Mags, with Zack on drums, Sergio on Bass, Walter, and Charlie on guitar and me singing.
The Sergio Controversy
This clip will explain it self more or less. The thing with breaking guitars in a band the size of Quicksand is that without a sponsorship, which nobody but Alan Cage had, there’s no real money to replace stuff. This was also about the time where I first really started noticing a tension within the band that eventually would break them up. I fucking love Sergio though. He’s one of my all time favorite bass players.
Tour Montage #3
This begins with us in Chicago, where I demonstrate my shop lifting techniques. Then as we walk to a Chicago Diner Charlie does a “History Of The 40 oz” for everyone. After that you have a quick glimpse of our bus driver “Sneaky Pete.” I have no idea why we gave him that nickname either, but I remember he was Skid Rows bus driver, and shared with us their sordid tales of the road. He must have thought we were all total “fags” compared to Sebastian Bach’s gang.
Next is Zack and me fucking around on his bus. The one thing about Zack that was true then, and is still true today is he is one of the funniest dudes you’ll ever meet. Rounding this up is Walter telling a story about Tom Capone (ED: Note – I thought this was Tom Rock/Boiling Point) back in the day, and then us giving Sergio shit for riding with the Rage dudes. I remember we gave Sergio the nickname “Troy” because we had some fantasy scenario where he was like our Trojan Horse on the Rage bus, and when we finally attacked he would already be on the inside. I guess you probably had to be there for that one to find it funny.
Dine Alone & Baphomet
“Dine Alone” was considered the “hit” off “Slip” and “Baphomet” was how they ended their set every night. On “Slip,” “Baphomet” was an instrumental, but when the band played it live Walter sang the lyrics to the Knacks “Good Girls Don’t” over it. The footage for Dine Alone is from Roseland Ballroom in NYC, while “Baphomet” is from Halloween night at the Axis in Boston, hence the masks, and Jack ‘O Lanterns. What’s funny about this is Rage’s tour manager lectured us before hand about not making a mess, with the “pumpkins.” I remember I then asked Zack if it would be cool, his response “you better” and so we did, well Tom did anyway.
The Tour Ends
We were still scheduled to go another week, with the run officially ending in Atlanta. However Rage’s drummer Brad Wilk hurt his back, allegedly, so the last 4 or 5 shows were cancelled. It actually worked out great for me, because I was in NYC so just ended up staying there with all my friends for about a month and living off my $1500 tour check or whatever Quicksand was paying me at the time. This is footage of getting the “news,” and then the end credits to the movie.
…and there you have in a nutshell “Quicksand – The Movie.” It’s not quite “The Last Waltz,” BUT I’d say it’s pretty fucking close…well in my mind anyway
Sunday, February 14, 2010
On this past DCXX poll, my vote went to Void without a moment’s hesitation.
Why? Well, that’s a tough one to answer. In fact, I don’t think I have a solid answer to give you at this time, so I guess I’ll just reminisce on how I first heard them and see if I can figure it out from there…
I think I first heard the Faith/Void split when I was 12 or so. Without any real reference points at that age, I immediately loved it for the simple fact that it sounded like a bunch of mental patients let loose in a studio. The maniac vocals of John Weiffenbach blurted in and out of the mix while a consciously lagging rhythm section struggled to keep up with the obviously competent Bubba Dupree on the guitar; it was certainly the most unhinged thing I had heard at that point in my life.
John Weiffenbach prowls the stage with Void, Photo courtesy of: Faith/Void split
As the years went on, I still loved the fucking thing to death, but I found myself asking ‘Did they actually want it to sound like this or was this some happy accident?’ I recall making a copy of the record onto cassette to listen to in the first car I owned and never knowing if the cassette player was on the outs or not due to the disorienting mix job and constant lopping musicianship.
While going into my twenties, I declared it (to just me of course) the only Psychedelic hardcore record ever made. The backward tape masking, crude studio effects, Mark Farner wanna-be riffs from Dupree and overall trippy feel of the side made it a great listen in those ‘experimental’ years.
These days when I put it on, it makes all those thoughts listed above float into my brain as well as some new, almost ungraspable ones. In some strange way, it’s been one of the most reliable batch of jams I’ve had in my life. For something that sounds so fucking alien, it’s downright shocking that so many people love and relate to it enough to let it win in such a landslide. I guess there is some hope for the human race after all… -Tony Rettman
Void – 240
Faith – 132
John screams, I’m gonna live by my rules, Photo courtesy of: Faith/Void split
Thursday, February 11, 2010
Civ and Arthur with CIV in Syracuse, NY at The Lost Horizon, Photo: Traci McMahon
Last month we caught up with Sammy to get some memories on CIV and his time in the band. If you missed it: http://doublecrosswebzine.blogspot.com/2010/01/sammy-siegler-on-civ.html
Walter just got in touch and had some thoughts to share as well – so consider this round two. -Gordo DCXX
I got the idea for doing this band at a time when Green Day and “punk” had taken the place of grunge as the big new thing. I thought it was a shame that HC was overlooked when it was so much more powerful and original than what was being passed off as punk. Hence, “Civ” started to take shape in my mind as a response.
I wrote “Can’t Wait One Minute More” in the spirit of “Start Today” but with more of a glam rock/Adam & The Ants styling. I wrote “Et Tu Brute” to show the full range of what I wanted the band to do. It was really fun because there was no pressure for it to succeed, Civ didn’t even know about it at that time. I sort of talked him into it later on but I wanted to be sure it would be really good before I went to him with it.
Charlie Garriga was my roomate at the time, he’s an amazing guitarist and helped to hatch the idea of the band. Sam has always been one of my favorite drummers, he was playing in a Reggae band at the time (from what I remember) but was down to play some hardcore and Bow Wow Wow grooves. The three of us practiced “Can’t Wait One Minute More” and “Et Tu Brute”, and got the concept pretty tight.
Sammy with CIV at The Lost Horizon in Syracuse, NY, Photo: Traci McMahon
Then we went to Civ with the idea. He didn’t say yes right away…he was a little nervous about the band being his name – though I thought that was absolutely key. In my mind CIV was going to be a mix between Morrissey and Rollins, both band guys who went solo successfully. Eventually he agreed, though I’ll never know how I got him to go along with the suits thing.
Arthur was a shoe-in on bass, he’s a great musician and wasn’t playing with anyone at the time and he was way up for it.
The early rehearsals were super fun as were all the rehearsals we did together. Once the first five or so songs were down it became really apparent that it was going to be something pretty great. We were all having fun playing HC but it was from a different point of view from when I was in GB or YOT. I was older, had a broader palate as a musician, and had more confidence as a songwriter. There’s a rehearsal version of “Can’t Wait One Minute More” on the Civ discography with me singing that really captures the spirit of “Civ” at that time.
For the most part I wrote the songs at home on an electric guitar and presented them at practice. Being as I lived with Charlie, I would work with him on the songs at home too. As for the lyrics, they were mostly fit into the songs after the recordings. I would usually have a title, a chorus that I would sing at rehearsal to get the feeling, and just fake the verses.
Once the songs were recorded I took a lot of care to make the lyrics sharp, some of them are pretty serious but there’s always a sense of humor in there somewhere. It’s the same balance to GB, that was the template really.
I recorded a vocal guide tape for Civ to listen to and when it came time we worked it out in the studio, making changes and improvements as we went along. Quicksand was a totally separate thing, although I remember working on Civ lyrics in the hotels and on the back of the bus during a Quicksand tour in Europe.
The recording process for the LP was fast, fun and easy. We recorded at Don’s and had complete creative control. The record label was already satisfied with “Can’t Wait One Minute More” as the single, so we just had fun and it didn’t have any of the major label trappings except that we had money for lunch and we paid Don more than we would have on our own.
Civ shows the Syracuse crowd a little Et Tu Brute, Photo: Traci McMahon
How the record ended up on Atlantic is a whole other story, it was a crazy time for us to have snuck in there. The only thing that took a while was the vocals. Because I was writing the lyrics and melodies, it would take some time for Civ to make it his own performance-wise.
That said, working with Civ is super fun, he’s hilarious and works hard. Often times I was thinking of a line going one way and then Civ would do something by accident which would take us in a new direction (punny!). There’s some lines that are just so funny to me like “not for nothin” because that was something Civ would say in ordinary conversation, so I wanted that in a song. The way he delivers lines like that is priceless to me.
Charlie and I both played guitar on the record splitting overdubs and rhythms. I definitely ripped some sweet leads (United Kids, Can’t Wait…come to mind) and I’m really happy with many of the tones and subtle overdubs on that record, particularly in songs like Trust Slips Through Your Hands and Do Something. Charlie is a super tight and natural guitar player, I think he really shines on All Twisted and Boring Summer, where he played the leads or Gang Opinion, where he wrote the main verse/chorus riffs – that’s another example.
Initially, I didn’t see the band play live for a while. Their first show as I remember was in Detroit opening for Sick Of It All. I was on tour supporting Manic Compression that year. I saw them every night on the Warped Tour and I thought they were awesome. They came on a Quicksand tour that year as well. They were super polished and I think Civ really emerged as a great frontman, more so than in GB. Though to be fair I don’t think GB ever played regularly enough for Civ to find his rhythm.
Ironically, I think it might have been all the touring they did over those few years that eventually cracked Civ and lead to the end of the band.
Was fun to reminisce!
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Agnostic Front promo photo outtake, Photo courtesy of: Matt Henderson
DCXX contributor Nick Gregoire-Racicot hits us hard with the third installment in his interview with Matt Henderson. Get ready for heavy NYHC/AF information, and throw on One Voice while you read along. Big thanks again to Nick and Matt. -Gordo DCXX
Tell us more about the transition between Blind Approach and AF – How you got into the band: What year it was, how it happened, who was the link, how was it to relocate, etc.
I had just started my second year in school in 1990 in Boston and I was working part-time at a video store. One night my girlfriend at the time called me at the store and said “Roger from Agnostic Front called and he wants you to go on tour with them to Europe.” I was pretty surprised by this because I wasn’t sure how Roger knew to get in touch with me and I didn’t even realize that he had been out of prison. He had left his number.
I went home that night and gave him a call. He told me that he had been home for a few months, wanted to get the band going again (Steve Martin – the previous guitarist – decided to stay working with Relativity, the record label) and they had this offer to play in Europe. At that time the singer for Nausea along with Amy was Al Long, who was the singer from the Mpls band Misery, and he was living in the house in Staten Island with Roger and Amy. Al and I knew each other real well and he was the one that suggested Roger reach out to me. Also, another good friend from St. Paul, and main Blind Approach roadie, Lester, had lived at that house for a while and got real tight with Will Shepler, the AF drummer who ALSO lived at the house in Staten Island, so I had some connections already in place that made me feel comfortable when I met up with everyone.
Vinny and Matt with Agnostic Front in Europe, 1990, Photo courtesy of: Matt Henderson
I remember my first rehearsal/audition – I took a train from Boston to NYC and had talked to Vinny beforehand who gave me directions to meet him at the subway stop by his apartment. Waiting at the Broadway/Lafayette train stop and seeing Vinny and Craig roll up with their guitars to meet me was kind of a trip. You have to remember what a huge fan I was, and now I was about to ride the subway in NYC with these guys and going to rehearse with them. We shook hands and headed to the Staten Island Ferry and then got picked up by Willy to drive to the rehearsal studio. We get in and get set up on this stage and all agree to try “Victim In Pain/Public Assistance” (just like the Live At CB’s record). After the first couple chords I watched Craig look over at Willy kind of surprised and he nodded his head like “Ok – I guess this kid can play.” I’m not saying that I felt cocky but I knew I could nail that shit because my playing was on point back then and I knew those songs inside/out.
So, musically there was never a question. From there I would go back and forth from Boston and New York on the weekends to rehearse until school was out, and we were set to go on tour.
Agnostic Front in Europe, 1990, Craig, Mike and Matt, Photo courtesy of: Matt Henderson
What was that first tour like?
That first tour in Europe was what you call a “life altering event” and the European scene was pretty raw back then. It was that tour, my first tour with the band, that made us real tight as friends, and I don’t think anyone of us will forget it.
It started with Roger getting held in Switzerland while we were crossing the border heading to Italy during the first week of the tour and they sent him back to the states because of his non-US/Cuban citizenship. Our roadie Mike Shost had to sing for the rest of the tour and we actually told everybody he was Roger’s little brother Freddy Madball. Some people bought it. Others thought he looked just like some Nazi leader in Germany (Mike was an ex-Marine with a flat-top haircut and a mustache) and they hated him.
We got booked at all of these shitty punk rock squats, where a lot of political people suspected we were white power skinheads so it would get tense, especially when most people did not speak English. We would get into fights with random punk rock assholes. We got arrested and spent a day in jail in Germany because the police had issues with the shitty Italian anarchist tour managers we had. That’s a fucked up feeling when nobody is speaking your language and they lock you up and you have no idea why or when you will get out. When we finally got out we collected our shit and realized that they had kept some of our cash from our tour briefcase but we couldn’t do anything about it because they were like “do you want to leave or do you want to stay?” (now they speak English). So all we could do was try to get to the next show. Of course we were hours late for that show and the club didn’t want to pay us. We told them that we had spent the whole day in jail but they didn’t believe us, and we needed that money for food and gas. This type of shit went on and on for the whole tour.
Later, those same Italian tour manager morons mouthed off to the club management in this Italian town that had shut the show down before we got there because we were 4 ½ hours late (because the moron Italian tour managers were always lost and wouldn’t get directions). Again, we needed that money to eat and get gas to get to the next show so we were stressed out. I remember sitting in the club, the punk rock tour manager clowns mouthing off while this old guy in a really nice suit just looked at them (obviously Mob related). They were all speaking Italian so we didn’t know what anybody was saying but we could feel the tension and we watched this guy with black leather gloves and a handle bar mustache walk up. All of a sudden one of the Italians with us slams down this cup of yogurt he had in his hand and it splattered all over the dude in the suit. Next, the guy with the black leather gloves walks a few steps and shuts the garage door/gate that was the opening to the outside and then the lights got shut off.
The lights came back on and the whole club crew had bats, mace and chains. We were like “Fuck this! Go ahead and kill them – we don’t like them either” pointing to our tour managers. We all shuffled out of the club and one of the Italian tour managers got hit with a pipe and it was over. The tour managers were pissed at us because “we didn’t take their backs” and we were like “you motherfuckers brought this whole thing on yourselves and you have been fucking us the whole tour so fuck you.”
We still had like two weeks left in the tour with no money, and plane tickets that had us leaving from England. We wound up making it to England eventually and it was cool just to be around people that spoke English! Luckily we met this really cool dude that agreed to put us up in his house for like six days until our flight back to the US (Petey Greens!). Through all of this, Craig, Vinny, Willy and I got really tight. Being in AF back then was a little like being in jail or going to war. You had to stay strong and not let shit break you down, or let others see you weaken, and you really had to stick together.
I learned a lot from those days. Trust me, we had various roadies over the years that would really freak out and either leave mid-tour or just wind up spending the rest of the tour curled up in a ball in the back of the van and try to stay asleep until the whole thing was over, so I am not exaggerating. You had to be strong mentally…or just stupid and crazy.
Vinny, Mike, Matt and Craig in Europe with AF, 1990, Photo courtesy of: Matt Henderson
Where does the nickname Wild Card comes from?
Vinny and the rest of the guys always tried to make me out to be this super clean-cut kid from Minnesota, and every once in a while I would “get down” a little more than they expected me to and they would say “whoa, this kid is a wild card!” They eventually started to introduce me to people like that and the name just kinda stuck. And when you are as big of an AF fan as I was and Vinny Stigma gives you a nick name at 20 years old it means something to you. I’m 39 now, but at 20 I thought it was pretty damn cool. For the record, I never referred to myself as Wild Card but I still run into people that call me that today because that was how I was introduced to them.
What was your favorite release from them before you got into the band?
Victim In Pain. That record was, and still is amazing. The car I drive to/from work today can only play cassette tapes and I have an original tape that was released on Rat Cage Records so I listen to it all the time still. The songs are classic and the style is hard as hell.
AF catching some rest in Europe, 1990, Photo courtesy of: Matt Henderson
What was the role they were asking you to play (write all the music, bring a metal aspect, solos…)?
My role was to be the lead guitar player and to work with them to write a new record. Craig, Willy, and I worked really well together. I learned a lot from both of them and they brought my playing and writing to the next level. When I was in Blind Approach I was the better musician by far (not a diss on those guys, that’s just the way it was) so I was the one always pushing everyone else, but when I joined AF I was working with guys who were really good players and song writers and it pushed me. Roger and I worked together real well too to get the lyrics with the music.
Tell us about shows that stick out in your mind, stand out memories or stories that are a sign of the times.
There are so many good and bad shows to remember, so I’ll just throw out ones that come off the top of my head:
One of our last shows in NYC at the Palladium. It was a long night and by the time we got on stage people were kinda tired. Something got started between the bouncers and a couple of our friends and all of a sudden I hear Roger say “Yo, let’s FUCK this place up,” and I see a monitor get thrown off of the stage (not mentioning names here) and a full scale riot broke out between the crowd and the club. Roger figured the show was kinda lame so maybe a riot would make it more exciting. I had just paid $1000 for my new Jackson guitar which was all the money I had in the world and I was more concerned about getting it back in the case and getting it out of there in one piece more than anything else.
Our last show at CBGB’s where we had a lot of friends there to see us, and play with us. It was a great way to go out.
Allentown, PA with Sheer Terror, Wrecking Crew, Life Of Agony and Vision. The whole crowd was Nazi skinheads, about 800 or so. They would all do their Seig Heil arm movements and chant either “Fuck-New-York” or “Fuck-DMS” and try to rush the stage which had a barricade. When one band was on stage every member from every other band would stand behind them waiting for the shit to go down. AF didn’t even get to play because a riot broke out and the cops shut the show down.
AF 1990 practice set list
Who were your favorite/least favorite bands to tour with then? Any good stories from the tour with Obituary?
I don’t remember having any issues with bands we toured with to be honest, and I can tell you that the tour with Obituary, Cannibal Corpse and Malevolent Creation was one of the best times I ever had. The shows were great, and we all really got along. Obituary are seriously a great bunch of guys – they would insist on sharing the empty bunks on their bus with us because we were in a van, especially for the long rides, and they really looked out for us. And they killed it on stage every night. Even when the crowds that would come to see us (a lot of skinheads back then) would try to start trouble during the shows, when Obituary got on stage they would be too busy dancing to start any fights. We did a lot of shows with Biohazard and Wrecking Crew as well which was always a good time.
One Voice. People seem to have strong opinions about it. It’s either they think it’s an underrated record or they think it’s the embodiment of everything that was wrong with NYHC at that time. Can you give us your take on the place One Voice has in the AF catalog?
I think that One Voice was a pretty natural progression for Agnostic Front from what they had done in the past, and based on what the New York scene was going through at the time, for better or for worse.
Agnostic Front at Dachau on the 1990 European tour, Photo courtesy of: Matt Henderson
Can you give us your take on that era of NYHC (the violence, the shows, the division around the topic of major labels, crossover shows, bigger venues…)
Hardcore was definitely going through a down period when I joined the band, and when One Voice came out. As far as violence at shows, it had actually peaked just before I got there so people were laying pretty low (it picked up again just fine later on though).
Major labels, yeah…they suck, and bands did get caught up in the music biz a little too much, but at the same time if there was a chance to make a little money and play shows in front of thousands of people that may not normally be at a hardcore show I don’t think anyone can be blamed for taking advantage of that to some degree. As for AF, I don’t think we ever did anything that we wouldn’t do normally just to earn a buck or to suck up to a label. We just did what we did and if labels or booking agents were interested in working with us we worked with them. But trust me, even when we played big shows it wasn’t like we cashed in and we were these rock stars in limos, etc..
Regardless of people’s take on One Voice, there is no denying the quality of the line-up on. Tell us more about the writing process.
Thanks for the compliment. When we wrote One Voice people didn’t seem that interested in hardcore to me. Sick of it All and Sheer Terror were the only other bands doing it that I can think of and they did it well. Everybody else was into “post hardcore” like Quicksand and the rest. Suicidal Tendencies with their metal style was real big too. We didn’t really pay attention to what was going around us and we just locked ourselves up in Staten Island at Roger’s house or our rehearsal studio and jammed out. We were pretty isolated from the rest of the world for like 6 months and what came out in the end is what came out. I know one regret I have is that we didn’t get to play those songs live before we recorded them because after the record came out and we started touring I think we played the songs a lot better and they sort of evolved. I think that is a pretty typical scenario though.
Matt with AF in 1992, Photo courtesy of: Matt Henderson
Did you write some of the songs before you came into AF?
“New Jack” was influenced by the Blind Approach song S.M.A.S.H (St. Paul/Minneapolis Area Skin Heads), but only slightly. Other than that it was all written during my time in New York.
How did the songs come together? Who wrote the majority of the riffs?
It was really pretty equal. We all sweated it out to get those songs together.
Who would you say is responsible for One Voice’s more new school style? Was it a conscious decision to make it a lot more polished and bouncier or did it kind of just come together naturally?
I know I had an influence on that, but Craig was right there with me so again, it was pretty equal. There was no real conscious decision on the style. We just set out to write a good record worthy of the AF name in 1990 based on the band’s roots and the other influences from NYHC.
Craig, Vinny and Matt in Europe, Photo courtesy of: Matt Henderson
Where did the slower heavier style (New Jack’s intro, Infiltrate, Undertow, Crime Without Sin) come from?
There were a few influences for that. Negative Approach had “Evacuate.” The Cro-Mags brought that slower, mean metal style with their intro, Malfunction, Seekers Of The Truth and Life Of My Own, and that always had a huge impact on me. Judge had “Bringin’ it Down” with that tough intro on the record. Killing Time had “Brightside.” Also AF’s “With Time” – that came out before everything I just mentioned.
Were there songs that didn’t make it on the record?
We actually came up short in the studio and the label complained that we didn’t have enough for the record so we wrote on the fly. That’s how Bastard was written, and it is one of my favorite songs on the record.
On the credits it says that Roger wrote Bastard and Crime Without Sin alone. That was a little surprising to me.
Roger wrote those songs. The ideas and meat of the riffs came from him, as did the lyrics. I am a much better guitar player than him so I cleaned up some of the riffs but the ideas came from him.
Infiltrate: who’s the first band you remember writing that type of instrumental moshy song?
Blind Approach used to do intros like that and they would really come off live, actually better than I thought Infiltrate did UNTIL I saw Terror in Los Angeles opening for Madball a few months ago and they covered it. They killed it.
What are your favorite songs on the record?
New Jack, One Voice, Over The Edge, Undertow and Bastard.
Do you feel like One Voice was too ahead of its time to be fully appreciated?
I’m not really sure. I know that it wasn’t that well received when it first came out (in the US anyway) but people seem to dig it now. I just write what I like to hear and people either get it or they don’t.
What do you like the most/least about that record?
I’ve had a lot of mixed feelings about that record, but in the end I think it is a good reflection of hardcore in 1990-1992 in New York – for better or for worse.
The production: I think even though the mastering is not loud, I still think the balance of the instruments is great.
Agnostic Front, 1992, Photo courtesy of: Matt Henderson
Since I know you later on became more involved with production in Madball, how was it recording at Normandy with Locke and Don Fury? Did you learn anything from those guys?
Making that record was the first time that I had been in a pro studio and I also was a big fan of the records that Normandy had done in the past so I was convinced everything sounded amazing when we first stared recording. But we had some “issues” when we did that record. Our concept was to get the huge Normandy sound, but to mix it up with the “mad scientist” Don Fury and bring in some of the rawness that bands would get from his studio in New York. The problem was the two camps did not work together at all. Tom Soares, who was Normandy’s head engineer started the record with us but after two days he left and said it was because he had to go finish some mix with Scatterbrain. We later found out he really left because he hated working with Don.
So now we had Jamie Locke, who was really only an assistant engineer at the time, and I think he is an amazing engineer, and he and Don butted heads a lot and the record suffered because of it. Jamie was used to working in that studio and doing things the way a pro studio did things and they had their routine down. Don did some wild shit like insisting on getting his studio monitors shipped and set up there which fucked up the whole sound of the mix room, and on and on and on.
In the end I think the record would have been much better if we just used the Normandy staff, or if we did the whole thing at Don’s studio. The mix of the two just did not work. I always remember one of our last mix days at the end of the night at the bar across the street and Jamie Locke drowning his sorrows with a whiskey telling me he was going to call the label and tell them he didn’t want his name on the record because he didn’t like the way it sounded. I got pissed and convinced him not to do it because then the label would start to think there were real problems with it. He agreed, and in the end I think he realized it was a good move because it gave him some “street cred” and got him working with some other hardcore bands.
What did I learn? That recording a full length record is a big pain in the fucking ass.
Freddy and Matt with Madball in Argentina, 1994, Photo courtesy of: Matt Henderson
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
Clifford with BL’AST! in Santa Barbara, CA, Photo: Tim DCXX
Clifford gives us the scoop on MAD and the formation of BL’AST! -Gordo DCXX
How did things with MAD progress? What were some memorable shows you guys played, and what were highlights of the band?
There was no progression with MAD, it was destined for Hell the second it began. We were just a bunch of pissed off teenagers, out to destroy everything…especially ourselves. We did however play some kick-ass shows with the likes of DK, DOA, Crucifix, SSD, etc. The highlight of the band, for me anyways, was breaking up. And then, after our voices changed and we began sprouting pubic hair, we returned to the helm as young adults to form BL’AST!
Clifford Taking The Manic Ride with BL’AST! in Santa Barbara, CA, Photo: Tim DCXX
How and why did MAD transition into BL’AST!, and when was this? How had you guys musically progressed?
Well, like I said, MAD self-destructed…somehow the feeling seemed to be mutual, if you know what I mean. MAD was like ’81/’82, and BL’AST! formed around ’84/’85. I had turned into a preppy, and was wearing argyle sweaters and penny loafers – thinking I wanted to go to college in San Diego. Those guys were bugging me to be in the band, and I was saying things like “why don’t you get my brother to sing?…He looks just like me.” They would just shake their heads in disgust.
Needless to say, I had some serious mental problems that were mysteriously cured when I heard a tape of the Power Of Expression songs and decided that it would be idiotic not to participate.
BL’AST! at The Smell in Los Angeles, CA, Photo: Tim DCXX
By the time you guys were BL’AST!, how do you think you had developed as a frontman and singer? What were you trying to do in that capacity?
I don’t know. Despite the obvious influences, I knew there was something unique about BL’AST! There was a lot of genericism in hardcore, and Black Flag stood out amongst the clones…we wanted to pick up where they left off and form our own universe, which we truly did.
How do you feel looking back on the songs that ended up on The Power Of Expression?
As a fan of hardcore, when I first heard the Power Of Expression songs, I thought it was the heaviest thing I’d ever heard in my fucking life. The basic recipe for disaster was Black Flag and SSD, but it obviously went light years beyond. SST was known for signing unique bands, and when Chuck Dukowski started showing up in the front row at our shows, we knew we were doing something right. We played with the Bad Brains, and Gone was on the bill. We got signed to SST by playing a ghetto blaster recording of “It’s In My Blood” for Greg Ginn in our van.
How did you come to end up on Wishingwell Records?
We were never actually on Wishingwell, we were on Greenworld. I was friends with Pat, and Uniform Choice and BL’AST! were the upcoming unsigned bands at the time, and we just kind of formed a union. Both bands went their separate ways, but remained friends.
More Manic Clifford with BL’AST! in Santa Barbara, CA, Photo: Tim DCXX
Monday, February 8, 2010
Jay Pepito with Reign Supreme in Santa Barbara, CA, 7/25/08, Photo: Zac Wolf
Jay Pepito – Reign Supreme
This is a difficult question to answer, because it’s such a broad one. If I had to pick one, it would probably actually be “Start Today”, and I’ll explain why. While one could almost certainly make the case that records like “We’re Not in This Alone”, “Bringin’ It Down”, and “Age of Quarrel” are more ‘classic’, or ‘timeless’, (and I’d probably agree, after all, the latter of the three is unparalleled in my opinion as the finest musical accomplishment of the human race, period), “Start Today” has a brilliant sense of both understated hardcore/punk aggression and angst, mixed with a melodic approach that was revolutionary for it’s time and place.
“Start Today” is the record that fueled a hundred drives to the Manville Elks Lodge and Casino Skate Park and CBGB’s and Deja One in high school, and it was that record in a lot of ways because it’s less intense and less serious than so many of it’s brethren. I think that simplicity is what makes it stand out, and though I’d wager that “Age of Quarrel” or any of the more impactful and grandiose classics are more ‘crucial’ or seminal, I’d probably assert that “Start Today” is, for me at least, the more honest soundtrack to my early romance with punk and hardcore music.
Pete Tabbot and Dave Franklin with Vision at CBGB, NYC, Photo: Ken Salerno
Pete Tabbot – Vision
Wow, quite difficult to cite one above the rest…Way too many great NY, DC, Orange County (CA), Boston/RI and Chicago area albums to name just one. But if I have to, it’s The Misfits’ Walk Among Us LP. There may not be another album with so many perfectly simple yet melodic hooks…The music couldn’t be more basic, but Danzig croons, all the while in creepy/cartoonish fashion, with amazing sing-alongs in every single song. Predecessors like Buzzcocks/Clash/SLF and next-gen bands like Naked Raygun offered some of the best hook-laden, vocal-straining-worthy music ever, but 27 years after its release, I still sing along to Astro Zombies, Teenagers from Mars and the rest of those songs in my car at full volume (and perhaps will 20 years from now). Classic.
Rob Fish with 108 at the Burning Fight Fest, Photo: Matt Miller
Rob Fish – Release / Ressurection / The Judas Factor / 108
There are a lot of records that have stood the test of time for me but I am going with one from a band that introduced me to punk rock.
Black Flag – Jealous Again EP. My favorite release by one of my all time favorite bands. Chavo has always been my favorite Black Flag singer as there is an emotion and desperation in his voice that never fails to connect with me.
Sunday, February 7, 2010
Mike Bringin’ It Down with Mindset, Photo courtesy of: Mike Clarke
One of our goals here at DCXX for 2010 was to try and mix more current bands into our content, so why not kick it off with Maryland’s own… Mindset. If you’re active in today’s hardcore scene, you’re probably already familiar with Mindset because they’ve undoubtedly been busy making their mark. If you’re not so active and come here more so to read the classic material, now’s your chance to see what kind of impact the hardcore we all love is having on today’s generation. Mindset’s guitarist, Mike Clarke took some time out of his schedule to answer the following questions. Check it out. -Tim DCXX
Mike and Evan with Mindset at Champion Ship, Lemoyne, PA, Photo courtesy of: Mike Clarke
How did you get into straight edge hardcore and what made it leave such a powerful impact on your life?
Well, I enjoy when people ask me this because it’s a fairly humorous story. I was definitely WAY into punk rock before I ever stumbled onto the core. Being from a very small town in rural Maryland, I didn’t have anybody pointing me in the right direction so I had to really dig to find the type of tunes I was looking for.
As sheltered as I was, I knew enough to know that Minor Threat was (and is) the coolest band ever and that straightedge was fucking awesome. Now I know I promised some mild humor in this story so prepare yourself. I was flipping through the insert of Total Chaos’ “Punk Invasion” Lp and noticed a skinhead with his arm around a clean cut looking dude with a Gorilla Biscuits shirt. Of course, GB is such a weird name that next time I was in a Record And Tape Traders, I picked up a copy of Start Today. I figured if skinheads were hanging out with fans of this band, they must be cool. My logic proved flawless.
From there it’s the same kind of story…inserts, records, internet, Revelation Records and so on. I definitely have Total Chaos to thank for turning me onto the core though.
As far as the impact on my life? I mean, the edge is awesome. I think most readers of DCXX have heard it all but I will say, it’s totally changed my life. I see substance abuse ruining lives all around me. I can’t figure it out and I don’t try too. I know what’s right for me so I stick with it.
Mini Stigma and Chris with Mindset, Photo courtesy of: Mike Clarke
How did Mindset get started and what were a few of your biggest goals?
I started MINDSET when I was 17. We’ve been around a long time but it’s always been in different phases, and different levels of seriousness. We didn’t really buckle down and get serious or do anything until 2006 or so. We got a serious line up, we developed our ideas and concepts as far as what we were all about.
Ev and I are the only original members, but it’s always been him and I. We’ve been friends since 9th grade. We would just stay up all night talking about what mattered to us and why we wanted to do MINDSET. That was a super cool time for the band. Nobody gave a shit about us, we didn’t have any merch, we only played Baltimore and Central PA. It was very fresh and felt so awesome.
I think our goals are pretty simple and the same now as they were then. Mostly we just want to have fun, be sincere, and really HAVE OUR SAY. Ev always jokes because he’s not the most musically inclined dude in the world but hardcore is so awesome, he can be in a band and say what he needs to say and people listen.
I feel like when I was coming up around 2004 or 2005 and even now, straightedge is characterized as some kind of a corny joke or something. Kids don’t X up anymore, even if they are straightedge. So I’d say another goal MINDSET has is to challenge that idea. We always X up at shows, whether we’re playing or not, you know? Making a statement to younger kids is important to us. I mean shit, we’re still young as hell too, so most of the people reading this are probably laughing that we’re considered the older generation in hardcore right now.
That being said, our biggest goal right now is to make hardcore the best it can be for punks, cores, bangers and skins. The scene is splintered as shit right now but I don’t think it has to be that way. Baltimore and DC are a great example of the way things should be all over. We play shows with Trapped Under Ice, Surroundings, Coke Bust, Warpriest, LOJ, Give, Pulling Teeth, Mob Mentality, Police And Thieves, and others. Everyone gets along, everyone comes out to shows and supports what’s going on…that’s the scene MINDSET is all about.
Air Clarke with Mindset, Photo courtesy of: Mike Clarke
What’s been the most memorable Mindset show that you’ve played so far and why?
So far there have been some totally awesome shows and tours that we’ve gotten to do. The first thing that popped into my head was playing the last TFS show. Those guys practically raised us as a band and we have a lot to thank them for. That was such an emotionally charged show and it was totally awesome to be apart of it. It was also the first time I did a dive with my guitar and that was bad ass.
Playing Gilman was awesome too. We also played Vancouver Island I believe, and we had to take a ferry there. We all hid under equipment and blankets in the van because it was like 20 bucks per person and we had 12 or so people in the van. The ferry ride was so beautiful, like some Alaskan wilderness type shit. The show was awesome too, kids went wild for us and it was just a great vibe all around.
Daniel with Mindset, Photo courtesy of: Mike Clarke
What’s been the most memorable show (non-Mindset show) you’ve been to and why?
Seeing Government Issue in DC a couple years back was the best. They are one of my favorite bands and I thought they played so well. There was a ton of younger kids there too and everyone was diving and having a killer time. The bouncers at the Rock And Roll Hotel were assholes and tried to put a stop to the fun, but needless to say, they were checked hard. I specifically remember a bouncer with long hair in a pony tail, a Nirvana shirt, and these black cut off gloves, like weight lifting gloves. Anyway, he was a real tool and became a favorite target for kids to launch off of. Some kid grabbed his pony tail and jumped in, giving him massive whiplash. GI rocked so hard.
Everyone wanted an encore but they didn’t know any other songs so they played a couple of the same ones over. Stabb was live as shit, I was impressed.
Chris and Mike deliver it to the Champion Ship crowd, Photo courtesy of: Mike Clarke
List three hardcore bands of the past and present that have left a great impression on you and why?
1. The First Step – TFS were THE coolest dudes to us. From the first time we played with them they were so willing to help us out. We were huge fans of their band and to have them just totally take us under their wing, it felt good. They really helped us figure a lot of stuff out and really helped us shift from a local band to a more mid level band. They took us on tours and just treated us like peers and that felt really good. Of course, Aram is our main man with REACT! and he is just next level awesome. They’ve definitely had the largest impact on us, not just as a band but as people too. Steve roadies for us a lot and it’s awesome to be able to kick it with him all the time still.
2. Corrupted Youth – I’m sure nobody has heard of this band or cares but they’ve had a major impact on me all the same. They were a punk band from my town in Maryland and I totally cut my teeth on punk rock with those guys. They have had a huge impact on me as a musician and as someone in a band. They were so DIY about everything and totally had their shit together and that left a major impression on me.
I remember my first band when I was 14, called 3 Over Par (I know, it’s ridiculous) – we showed up to this basement show we put on and we had a bunch of cdr demos with no insert, or sleeve, or writing on them or anything. Corrupted Youth made fun of us, but then totally helped us out and told us to make inserts, what the best ways to do it were, etc. They also toured the US relentlessly with no support from anyone. They bought a van, booked their own shows, and just did it. That inspired the hell out of me and still does. MINDSET does just about everything ourselves and I credit CY for that.
3. Youth of Today – enough said.
Mike Clarke with some Mindset in your face, Photo courtesy of: Mike Clarke
What would you like kids today to take away from seeing and hearing Mindset?
Well like I said earlier, making a statement and setting an example for younger kids is really important to us. We want kids to see the traditional hardcore ethics that we espouse. I’m talking DIY, unity, community, change, sincerity and everything else I thought hardcore was supposed to be. We are a hardcore band because we all love hardcore and believe in what we’re doing and that’s what we want kids to take from us.
Mike, Chris and Daniel with Mindset, Photo courtesy of: Mike Clarke
What are your interests outside of hardcore?
Right now I’m finishing up my last semester of college and I couldn’t be happier to get out of there. I’m an intern at Monocacy National Battlefield and that takes up a lot of my time but I’m so stoked on it. I’m a avid Civil War enthusiast which Steve and Aaron TFS think is hilarious. To be truthful, it is pretty funny. Between that stuff, the core and work, I really don’t have time for much else.
Tell us about your up coming record and what we should expect from it?
TIME & PRESSURE is an ep coming out on REACT! Records in the next month or so. Pre-orders went up on Monday, January 25 and I couldn’t be more excited. It’s 6 songs in all and I think it’s way better than our first seven inch. It’s a little harder than the first seven inch, maybe in a Hard Stance sort of way. I don’t really know what else to say without sounding like a giant douche plugging my own record but, I am very proud of it.
We mean everything we say, we believe in what we’re doing and that being said, I think this record represents who we are as a band very well. I don’t think hardcore and straightedge is kids stuff, I don’t think it’s a novelty or a joke, MINDSET is out to set the record straight on that.
Thursday, February 4, 2010
DCXX friend and contributor, Tony Rettman has been busy plugging away at a new book called “Why Be Something That You’re Not”, an extensive oral history of the Detroit Hardcore Punk scene from ’79 to ’85 complete with never-before-seen photos, fliers, etc. Slated for release in Summer 2010 by Revelation Records. Tony’s given us a sample chapter to share, prepare yourself for this one… -Tim DCXX
WELCOME TO DETROIT! – THE DEMISE OF THE FREEZER AND THE RISE OF THE CLUBHOUSE
The scene swelled to such proportions that the shows at the Freezer had to end. The final hardcore show there happened in June of ’82 with Minor Threat headlining.
John Brannon – I remember that show being one of the greatest shows for Detroit hardcore. That’s the show where all the photos for our seven inch were taken at. It kind of ended fucked up because there was a huge scale riot out in the parking lot afterwards.
Davo Scheich – After Minor Threat were done, I went backstage to get my photo equipment that I hid with all of Negative Approach’s gear. Turns out the ceiling backstage had dropped in while Minor Threat was playing. There was plaster all over our stuff. We were literally digging through rubble to get our stuff out the door. Just then it looked like a riot was about to break out, so me and Rob McCullough grabbed our stuff as a major brawl spilled into the street.
Barry Henssler – The funny thing is, I was in a car driving away while the whole thing was going on. I remember seeing someone swinging a skateboard at someone’s head. Years later, some guy pulled a knife on me at a party thinking I was the one who started the fight.
Ian MacKaye – I remember going outside to see something that resembled a battle from the middle ages. Police cars started flying out of nowhere and in the midst of all this, I see the promoter of the Freezer Theatre look around and start running down the street. I started running after him because he’s got the fucking dough. I chased that motherfucker to an apartment about three or four blocks away. I finally catch up to him and he’s like “Oh, hey! There you are! I’ve been looking for you!” So he takes me into this apartment where there’s this guy in his fifties and a transvestite teenaged boy. While I’m in this strange apartment arguing with this guy about money, the rest of the band are back at the Freezer wondering where they fuck I am while police are going ballistic, beating on all these kids. Detroit was always a fucked up scene.
John Brannon – We had these roadies, Tim and Randy King. We called them the Sleestaks because they were these big skinhead dudes who looked like wrestlers. We’re trying to get our amps out of there because the cops are all over the place, and either Tim or Randy clocked some fucker so hard he knocked him out of his shoes. I remember one of them saying, “I didn’t mean to hit that dude, I was just trying to get the gear out.”
Tim King – Me and my brothers were sort of at the center of fucking everybody up that night. The guys we got in the brawl with were these long hair kids who actually became the Sterling Heights skinheads a few years later. My brother punched a dude and he flew out into the road and slid out in front of this car. The guy hit his brakes and the sleeve of the kid’s shirt stopped under his wheel. The dude couldn’t move because his sleeve was stuck under the tire, so my brother beat the shit out of him more while he was stuck under there.
John Brannon – Ian was just freaking out saying, “This is fucked up man, this is crazy,” and I was just like, “Welcome to Detroit!” A couple blocks down me and Larissa rented out this storefront for 125 bucks, so we just gutted the place and built a stage and were like, “O.K, this is the new Freezer.” That’s how the Clubhouse got started. We had to keep the music going.
Since the closing of the Freezer Theatre, there hasn’t been a really cool place for bands to play without getting hassled by club owners. Well, now there’s the Clubhouse. What’s the Clubhouse you ask? For one thing, it’s a storefront a couple blocks from the Freezer that L-Seven and Negative Approach practice at. It used to be just for practicing, but the bands decided to renovate it to use for gigs. They tore down the loft, built a stage from the wood, and painted over all the graffiti.” – Excerpt from a review published in Filler fanzine of the Negative Approach/L-Seven show at the Clubhouse 7/30/82
Ken Waagner – We opened the Clubhouse when the Freezer fell through. I was the guy who came up with the genius idea of “You know, if we knock down these walls, we could probably use the materials to build a stage.” It was this three room loft that L-Seven and Negative Approach used to rehearse. The shows ended up paying the rent on the space. We could do one night a week every week and do 250 kids at five bucks a head.
Matt O’Brien – The shows at the Clubhouse were usually benefits for Negative Approach since they were always getting their equipment stolen from there. I think they had their equipment stolen nine times out of that place.
Andy Wendler – Once John and Larissa moved into the Clubhouse, there was a mutual respect with them and the local people in the neighborhood. The guys that owned the Rayes Brothers carry-out store loved them because of all the business they would bring. Imagine having some store in a wasteland and all of a sudden a bunch of kids just come in out of nowhere and you’re selling three hundred sodas a night?
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
Mike with Judge back stage at City Gardens, Photo: Ken Salerno
The following begins a substantial collection of contributions from many of the major players within the hardcore scene, both past and present. Some answers are long and in-depth, some are short and sweet, but all are meaningful and interesting. Hopefully everyone enjoys reading these as much as I’ve enjoyed collecting them. Stayed tuned, many more to come. -Tim DCXX
Mike Ferraro – Judge
Pretty easy for me. Black Flag ” Damaged.” It changed me. I was a mixed up punk rock kid who couldn’t figure out why I didn’t fit in. When I heard side 2, it all came together. I was fucked up but so were a lot of people my age. Somehow it made me feel not so alone, if that makes sense. I still listen to the Damaged record all the time. It’s just the heaviest thing ever.
Parris with the “Best Wishes” era Mags, Photo courtesy of: Parris
Parris Mayhew – Cro-Mags
Sex Pistols “Never Mind the Bullocks” – Dead Boys “Young Loud and Snotty” – Cockney Rejects “Greatest Hits” – Crumbsuckers “Life Of Dreams” – Black Flag “Damaged” – Dead Kennedys “Fresh Fruit” – Circle Jerks “Group Sex” – Bad Brains “Roir Cassette” – and X “Los Angeles” – I still listen to them all often!
Patrick destroys the kit during a Citizens Arrest set at ABC No Rio, 1990, Photo: Christine Boarts
Patrick Winter – Our Gang / Citizens Arrest
Not sure if this goes down as punk/hardcore but I would have to go with CAN I SAY by DAG NASTY. I probably have heard that album 5000 times at this point. I can’t think of a more perfect album from that era. Honorable mention to I DON’T WANNA GROW UP by the DESCENDENTS.
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
Clifford Dinsmore fronting his latest band, Dusted Angel
Legendary BL’AST! frontman Clifford Dinsmore stopped shredding for a minute to talk to us. Expect more on life before BL’AST!, life after BL’AST!, and what he’s currently up to with his new ripping outfit, Dusted Angel.
Surf And Destroy!!!
I grew up in Aptos, CA before moving to Pleasure Point, East Side Santa Cruz at age 17. Before punk I was into Zep, Sabbath, UFO, Ted Nugent, Thin Lizzy, etc., and then the Ramones came along and changed my life forever. My brother and I, David, surfed and skated every day, and I still surf tons to this day. Punk was the natural sound track for the aggresive surfing, skating and localism that was going down at the time.
I accidentally became a singer after writing words to the song “Holocaust” by MAD when they were jamming at my house every day. My favorite singers early on were Ozzy, Joey Ramone, Dez Cadena, Ian MacKaye, and HR (Bad Brains). Oh yeah, and Danzig.
Clifford shreds it with Dusted Angel
My first punk shows were Ramones, Humans, DK, Black Flag, DOA, etc. Once I started, I pretty much went to every show. My fave bands early on were Germs, Flag, DOA, Bad Brains, Minor Threat, Misfits, Damned, Joy Division, etc. I saw Flag every time they played the Bay area, same with Minor Threat. Two real stand out shows were The Misfits the first time they came out west, as well as the first SF Bad Brains show…Fuckin’ mindblowing!!!
I met the MAD/BL’AST! dudes through my friend Kieth Meek, and shortly after they moved to Santa Cruz. I moved into their pad and surfed Epic Rivermouth every day after the storm of ’81/’82. When we got kicked out of that house, I took a shit, and threw it in the heater vent.
Every thing back then was just one big chaotic blur…let’s put it this way: memories I can’t remember, mammarys I’ll never forget!!!
Dinsmore rocks the mic stand and the Saint Vitus tee
Monday, February 1, 2010
This photo of Youth Of Today was just posted on the Livewire board today by Lars Krolik. It’s from their 2003 European Summer tour and was taken in Bremen. I thought the photo was so great that I couldn’t resist re-posting it here with these poll results. I look at that crowd and all I can think of doing is stage diving.
Although it wasn’t automatic for me in 1988, Youth Of Today’s “No More” eventually influenced me to go vegetarian. It was one of those things that once I wrapped my head around it, read enough and saw enough I knew it was the right choice for me. Nineteen years later and I’ve never looked back, as a matter of fact, my feelings and convictions have only grown stronger. Like so many other things that I owe to Youth Of Today, you can definitely ad vegetarianism to that list. Looks like I’m not in this alone. -Tim DCXX
Hearing Youth Of Today’s “No More” made me want to…
Throw down that burger and go vegetarian – 201
Didn’t affect me one way or another – 183
Head off to McDonald’s for a Big Mac – 43
Sunday, January 31, 2010
Blind Approach pose on the roof of a garage, 1988, Photo courtesy of: Matt Henderson
DCXX contributor Nick Gregoire-Racicot brings us part two of his gigantic interview with Matt Henderson. Lots of Blind Approach material here, plenty more to come regarding Agnostic Front and Madball. -Gordo DCXX
Can you shed some light on the history of Blind Approach?
The band started with me and my friend Chip being two of the few punk rockers in our neighborhood in St. Paul, MN, with me playing guitar in my basement while he screamed with no microphone. Probably around 1984, I was 14 years old and we were called D.A.M.M (Drunks Against Mad Mothers). Eventually we met up with some guys from another neighborhood for the infamous “Punks vs. Rockers” battle (the meeting point was on a bridge – we the Punks had about 10 people and were between 12 and 16 years old – the Rockers had about 50 people and were grown men – bikers, etc., with weapons. When we saw these guys crossing the bridge we laughed and ran the fuck out of there. Our day would come later though…) and they had some instruments.
The original bass player we had was this preppy guy who was only doing it because he wanted to be in “a band” and would just get drunk and never tried to learn the songs. We kicked him out and I taught my best friend from grade school, Scott, on a cheap little Sears bass. The only thing he knew how to play was our songs in the beginning but he eventually got pretty good. The point was we didn’t set out to start a band and be serious – we were friends first and did it for the fun of it. We used to play house parties and most of the people there had nothing to do with any hardcore scene. Eventually we hooked up with some people in Minneapolis where there was a more established scene.
Hardcore in MN back then, what was it like?
Before Blind Approach started, the biggest local bands were Husker Du and the Replacements. Later the most popular “newer” style hardcore band before us was Outcry, who had kind of a “7 Seconds” thing going and I dug them. We started by opening for the older bands and at that time were still working out our style. Eventually the scene shifted and New York made a huge impact and we were starting to gain our popularity. We had a strong scene going for a while and had neighboring cities like Mankato, MN, Chicago and Omaha, NB in the mix.
A big deal in our scene was the constant beef between the Minneapolis Baldies, the anti-racist skinhead crew that Blind Approach was aligned with, and the white power crew out of St. Paul, who eventually became Bound For Glory. Because we were from St. Paul we knew all of those knuckleheads but didn’t realize they were actually white power until we started hanging out in Minneapolis and lines had to be drawn. The Minneapolis scene in a lot of ways reminded me of New York where you had a mix of kids from an urban background at shows which was a multi-racial group and a lot were there because they were neighborhood kids hanging out and not actually “hardcore” kids. And with all of that there was the potential for beef, violence, etc., and white power skinheads were definitely not welcomed.
Eventually those guys stopped trying to come around and stayed in their little corner of St. Paul. At our peak, Blind Approach was selling out the 7th St. Entry, the smaller room associated with First Ave., with about 500 people packed into that little room and those shows were amazing. When the bigger national bands came around we would open and play the main room with about 1,100 people in the crowd.
Blind Approach, 1988, Photo courtesy of: Matt Henderson
Any memorable shows (CBGB’s, The Anthrax)?
We played a lot of shows, and eventually we became “the MN band” at one point so if we weren’t headlining a show we were opening for every band that came through. In 1987/88 we played a few times with the Cro-Mags, Youth Of Today, and did a Midwest stretch with Warzone and those are only some I can remember. And we didn’t just play the shows, we all hung out and got to be pretty good friends with everybody in those bands. I remember sitting in a bar in NYC when I first moved there w/ Petey Hines of the Cro-Mags and we were talking about the Blind Approach days. He always said he “felt like he discovered me.”
There are a lot of memorable shows for different reasons. We played a show at this warehouse in Chicago with Warzone and it got raided by a SWAT team and got shut down before anyone even played. The local skins had a hang out called the “Hell House” and so we all headed over to the other side of town. I think it was a squat and I know that we had to break a door down to get in to the place. Warzone setup their gear and played w/ no PA – Raybeez actually played drums for a few songs – while everyone partied.
Chicago had a rough scene back then and there were a lot of fights. The best one I remember was between two girls – one of which had a cast on her arm and was beating the other girl in the head with it. We were counting on the money for that gig for our gas to get home but didn’t get paid because we never played so we were sweating a little bit. Raybeez actually passed a bucket around for people to donate and handed us the cash. Raybeez R.I.P.
Later when I got to know Chris Garver in NYC I learned that he lived in Chicago for a while and was at that same party.
Ultimately Chip was able to reach out to everybody we became friends with and managed to book our first tour in the summer of 1988 and got us all the way out to New York. In those days we didn’t know shit about booking agents or club promotion. We bought a used Ford van, ripped the back benches out and built a bed and a place where gear and bags could go underneath. No hotels, we stayed at people’s houses. We played in a log cabin in Charelston, West Virginia with NOFX. We played Allentown, PA with Warzone and it was FILLED with Nazi skinheads – no beef but it was tense.
We eventually made it to the Anthrax in CT and it was on the same day that AF recorded the live record at CBGBs – nobody was in CT that day for us. The tour ended at CBGB’s to play with Nausea, which had Amy, the mother of Roger’s first daughter Nadia, on vocals. We had a connection there because there was this “crust punk” band Misery from Minneapolis that we played local shows with all of the time and they were tight w/ Nausea. So we were these young kids from St. Paul, MN playing CBGBs on our first tour and Roger was standing pretty much in front of the stage for most of the show. He came up afterwards and introduced himself and we talked for a while. It was cool.
Less than a year later we wound up heading back to the Anthrax to play a benefit for Roger and Amy when Roger got locked up and we got put up at their place in Staten Island. That was a big show w/ Slapshot as the headliners.
Blind Approach released two seven inches. Can you talk about them and the sound you were going for?
The first seven inch was recorded in the 16-track studio at my High School. We got the OK to use it for free after hours. The sound we were going for was the best sound we could get out of a 16 track studio at a high school. At that time we were all over the place w/ influences from AF, Cro-Mags, Metallica, GBH, and some great lesser known bands that would come through our town like Beyond Possession and the Stretch Marks (Canada). In 1986 “punk” was phasing out, hardcore was the shit and cross-over w/ metal was just starting so it was pretty exciting and we were right there with it.
Things moved fast in those days and by the time we did the second 7” the NYHC thing was really starting to kick in, along with the “sneaker skin” style, which was shaved heads and flight jackets but wearing Air Jordan’s instead of Doc’s. Cro-Mags and AF of course, but Warzone’s “Don’t Forget The Struggle..” was HUGE that summer. Boston had Slapshot with “Step On It” and Youth Of Today, even though I wasn’t a huge fan musically, had a huge influence on style, lyrics, etc. (a lot of people thought Blind Approach was straight-edge because Chip wrote straight-edge “like” lyrics, but trust me, we were NOT – not that there is anything wrong with that…). We recorded that and mixed it in one night at this well known indie-rock studio in Minneapolis. It was cool.
Agnostic Front in Argentina, 1992, Photo courtesy of: Matt Henderson
What happened to the band? From what I understand there was a lot of hype around the band and you guys broke up…
Eventually I decided to leave MN for Boston to go to school and that was it. I’m proud of what we did back then but it definitely had its moment and was not meant to go on any further. We were young kids doing it because we loved hardcore and were doing it at a time when the scene was really young and strong. Trying to make it into anything more would have been stupid and taken away from what we had done in my opinion.
Matt and Roger with Agnostic Front, 1991, Photo courtesy of: Matt Henderson
I always heard that you went to school for music. Can you tell us more about your experience there and how it shaped you as a musician? What did you learn there that you could not learn anywhere else? What could a musician never learn there?
I went to Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA. All I knew how to do since being a kid was play music, and I thought that’s what I would do forever. And once I heard that you could go to college for it, I figured that was what I needed to do. I went there for a semester and a half in 1989-90 and then got a call from Roger to join AF, tour Europe and write and record with them. Before that call I was in the mindset of ‘I’ve probably already done everything I can do with hardcore’ but I wasn’t expecting to get that opportunity, so I left school.
When AF originally broke up in ’93 I decided to go back and finish the degree because I didn’t know what else to do and I had already started it. In the end I got a bachelors degree in Music, but I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone else. If you want to be a musician, learn your instrument any way you can and network with other musicians. The “music industry” does not give a shit if you have a degree, so college for music is kind of a joke. My goal was to master the guitar and study recording/engineering, but again, if you want to become an engineer I suggest you bypass going to a 4 year college and become an intern at a studio in your area. You will learn much more and it won’t cost as much.
Matt and Stigma with AF, 1990, Photo courtesy of: Matt Henderson
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