Monday, December 7, 2009
Krakdown mayhem at CBGB, Photo: Boiling Point
This is the third and final entry from our interview with Jay Krakdown. Thanks to Jay for giving us his time and answering our questions. Hope you guys enjoyed this as much as we did. -Tim DCXX
Favorite Krakdown shows and memories?
I don’t even know where to start with this question…wow favorite shows we played, let’s see. Again, not to sound cheesy but I just loved playing shows with my friends…especially SOIA, Killing Time, Absolution, NY Hoods, Rest in Pieces, Maximum Penalty, Nausea, Trip 6, SFA, Token Entry and on and on. I loved playing CBs, Anthrax, Right Track Inn, Pyramid, Squat or Rot, etc. I guess my fondest memories are of the shows we played with SOIA and the Alleyway. Those guys are like brothers to me and I will never forget those days…trashing the club in Bethlehem, PA when we beat the crap out of the local white power crew; New Rochelle…yet another fight and more arrests; all the CBs shows; let’s not forget Albany in the blizzard and Big Charlie (RIP my brother) taking up half the van. Those were crazy days back then and I will never forget all the good and bad that happened to me.
I have played shows in backyards, squats, dance clubs, garages, open fields, you name it we played it. I guess the one show I will never forget was at the Batcave out on LI. It was this little Goth club that decided to do hardcore shows. I think it was the Psychotic Sons that opened for us. Anyway, the club DJ (punk kid…can’t remember his name but he was a cool kid) tells me their mic only has a three foot chord and unless I had a mic chord I would have to stand next to the DJ booth where it plugged in. Shit no chord…the Psychotic Sons tell me they have a mic and chord so no problem. They did not get the reception from the audience they were looking for so they got all pissed off and told me they were leaving so I was SOL. In the meantime Damon can’t find his bass amp. Turns out they packed it with their equipment. Damon catches them in their van, goes off and slaps one them around before taking back his amp. Oh well I played with the three foot mic chord. It kept coming unplugged, the sound system sucked, what a mess. Ahh the memories!!
Favorite Krakdown recording and why?
This question was a little easier since we didn’t record much! It would have to be the ’87 demo we recorded at Don Fury. It just had the raw energy of the band. I think that demo really represented what and who we were at the time. I guess the demo was just us live so it had our heart and soul in it. Look, I realize I am not the most gifted vocal artist of my day so all I had was my live performance and that demo captured that sound and energy. When we did more studio type stuff I always felt I sounded boring or contrived. The energy didn’t sound completely real or honest to me. I am probably being overly critical but it was just how it sounded to me.
Damon really stood out in the studio but I never felt I did. As for Richie, I think he benefited from the spontaneity of live recordings rather than trying too hard in a studio. All that being said, I also liked the songs we cut for a split LP with the NY Hoods…shame that LP was never cut.
Any regrets or things you would have done differently with Krakdown in retrospect?
I really don’t have any regrets…I used to but now I am grateful for those days and love the memories. I guess I would have liked for us to have been more serious and went on the road more than we did. I saw bands going all over the country and even Europe, while we played good ole CBs and the other areas around NY. Hell, the farthest we got was DC. But that was all we could do at the time so we did what we could. I would have liked for us to have done some recordings, wrote more songs, but again we did what we could.
For me the band was an outlet. It got my anger out and released many of the demons I had from my troubled and violent youth. That is why I loved playing live. Every show we played was therapy for me and every show helped heal old wounds. I used to regret a lot of how the band ended and especially when Damon left. I never really gave Jaybird a fair chance as Damon’s replacement. If you are reading this Jay, I am sorry for my actions. The reality is Damon was and still is my best friend and brother so Jay was walking into a no-win situation with me and at that time I was still angry and resentful towards the band so it was destined to fail once Damon left. See that, more therapy!
Anyway, could we have done things differently? Sure but I played in a NYHC band…I played at CBGBs…I made demos and records…I met some of the best and worst of humanity…I made lifetime friends…I was part of something, a very special scene that just doesn’t exist anymore and will probably never exist again in any genre of music. So why should I have regrets?
The classic Jay Krakdown stage mosh, Photo: Boiling Point
What are you up to these days and what do you take from your experiences with the hardcore scene?
At the ripe age of thirty I decided to pursue a childhood dream. I actually went to college (not bad for a HS dropout) at Colorado State University. I am now a Colorado Wildlife Officer (game warden) and spend my days patrolling the mountains on horseback, ATV, truck, snowmobiles, and just hiking. Can you believe I am in law enforcement!? Well I protect those that have no voice so poachers beware of this ex-NYHC kid. Obviously, I am not your normal Colorado game warden and the other officers are really intrigued by my past.
As I said earlier, The NYHC scene had a profound effect on my life and really made me the man I am today. I found a place with all the other freaks and misfits. I truly believe that scene saved me from myself. All those experiences, both good and bad, have given me the gut determination that I now possess. Deep down inside I will always consider myself a NYHC kid no matter what. The scene allowed me to be who I was and believe what I believe. Before that I was a lost soul lashing out at the world. Again I know that sounds typical but it is the truth.
I gained a lot of strength from those days and learned to live my life as I see fit and on my terms. That is exactly what I do. Shit…it also helps big time in law enforcement…I can see through someone’s bullshit a lot easier than most. Also, all those experiences help me to deal with all the characters I deal with on this job. My past has given me a sense of justice and fairness that I use daily on my job.
Anyway, thank you for asking me to do an interview I am glad to know there are people still out there enjoying what I did so long ago (shit almost 20 years since I played a show). Peace and respect to all my old friends and to all the people I have known because of the NYHC scene, especially to those no longer with us…peace…we’ll see each other again.
Jay on the job in Colordao 2009, Photo courtesy of: Jay
Sunday, December 6, 2009
I really wanted to check this show out on Friday, but unfortunately I ended up getting stuck late at work and wasn’t able to make it happen. A friend of mine sent me a link to this video tonight and considering it’s the full set, I thought it would make for a good post. For those of you that have been wondering what Walter and Arthur have been up to lately, here’s your answer. -Tim DCXX
Thursday, December 3, 2009
I’ve been buying, trading and collecting hardcore shirts for a long, long time and like any collection, there’s always that one piece that kicks it all off. My start came in 1986 from a small and short lived punk record / merch store in my town called Grot. Nestled in the back of a tiny and quite strip mall with it’s main draw being a Chinese restaurant, Grot was one of those virtually hidden gems. Hanging over the door was a hand painted, totally punked out Grot store sign done by Philadelphia punk artist / Pagan Babies drummer, Bruce Boyd. Working in the store was a local mohawked punk rocker named Jon LeVine of Faith Fanzine / Records fame.
At this point in time I was 12 years old and for the most part, cared about very little other than skateboarding. The only thing that I was starting to take interest in other than skateboarding, was punk rock and that’s mainly because at the time, the two went hand in hand. One band that made the skateboarding to punk rock connection so strong, was Arizona’s own, JFA. I remember hearing JFA for the first time on the second Thrasher Skate Rock comp, “Blazing Wheels and Barking Trucks”. Their track, the classic, “Beach Blanket Bongout” was one of my favorite tracks off that comp and I became an instant fan.
One day while scouring the Grot t shirt racks I stumbled upon this JFA ’85 Skate Tour shirt and knew I had to buy it. Not only was it a t shirt from one of my newly found favorite bands, but it also had a skateboarding skeleton on it, which made for the perfect combination. For some reason or another I’ve been lucky enough to hang on to this shirt for all these years. On top of that, the shirt is still in great condition with no holes and stains. Granted it’s a Screen Stars XL from 1985, so the fit is definitely a bit snug, but I can still get some wear out of it.
Expect more DCXX entries like this one based on other shirts pulled from my hardcore shirt collection. -Tim DCXX
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
I don’t want to speak too soon, but this may be my favorite thing to ever appear here on DCXX. Dig into this one. Thanks Joe! -Gordo DCXX
When I was putting together “Thanksgiving Jam” in August I was having trouble coming up with an interesting headliner. The rest of the bill was set, Steve Soto from the Adolescents, Jeff Pezzati from Naked Raygun, Jonah Matranga from Far, and Walter Schreifels from Warzone, plus a couple other bands over the years. We didn’t have the headliner though. I had inquired about getting H.R., the dynamic, yet enigmatic singer for the great Bad Brains to come out.
Through some mutual friends, I had made contact with him, but had not heard back in over a month. We had exchanged one phone call, which was like talking to a martian. A nice martian, but a martian nonetheless. Then out of the blue at the end of September I received word via a third party of a third party that H.R. would indeed play. Of course like anybody who has followed the riddle that is Paul (H.R.) Hudson, I would believe it when I actually saw H.R. in the flesh on stage.
Well, low and behold, he did in fact show. The following is a Cliff’s Notes version of the 5 days that transpired over Thanksgiving Jam between H.R. and myself.
Joe Nelson and H.R., Photo: Dan Rawe
3:30 P.M. – I pick up H.R. from the airport. He is dressed in a suit, and is wearing a towel over his head. He gives me a huge hug, and addresses me as “Mr. Joe.” He has a warm, inviting presence about him that’s hard to ignore. Immediately I am aware of how softly he speaks, which keeps him constantly in control of the conversation. He’s made it though. He’s here. Thanksgiving Jam has its headliner.
5:10 P.M. – We drive down the 405 and talk about all kinds of random things. The history of Bad Brains, Danzig, his 13 years living in Long Beach and L.A., his 9 months living in El Paso, TX, the old cookie factory he lives in these days somewhere within Baltimore, Jack Grisham being a life coach (H.R. thinks it’s funny too), Napoleon Hill books, his family, Thanksgiving Jam, parasailing (he’s fascinated by it), the two times he saw Bob Marley live, his thoughts on Eric Clapton, etc. etc. He’s lucid though, and his stories are interesting. In between tales, he randomly calls dudes on his Blackberry and invites them to come play at the “Thanksgiving Jam with the Human Rights group.” He also removes a small bottle of cologne several times and perfumes himself. At one point I hand H.R. some spending cash for the weekend, which he perfectly folds into a Kleenex, and places in his coat pocket.
H.R. at Thanksgiving Jam, Photo: Dan Rawe
6:05 PM – H.R. says he’s hungry; we stop at Open Sesame on 2nd Street in Long Beach. H.R. (who is vegetarian) orders the Open Sesame Kabob, which is an all meat dish. I inform him he probably would prefer the “Veggie Kabob” instead. “Thank you Mr. Joe,” he says, “yes that would be appreciated.” He then proceeds to dip his pita bread into his hot tea, rather then his hummus.
7:25 P.M. – We stop by Rob Dubar’s house (Pat Dubar’s youngest brother). H.R. has never met Rob, but still gives him a huge hug, as well as his leftovers as some sort of gift. H.R. becomes mesmerized by Rob’s Dr. Seuss sculptures and other tripper art which decorate his house. We all watch a little of the Oklahoma State and Colorado football game together, well, at least Rob and I do. H.R. stares at the sculptures most of the time.
8:30 P.M. – I check H.R. into his hotel. He has no credit card, meaning all his incidentals are now on my card. I realize this is a huge gamble on my part, but it’s one I’ll have to take.
A close up H.R. at Thanksgiving Jam, Photo: Dan Rawe
11:45 A.M. – I’m at work, and receive a random call from H.R. I can’t make out much of what he is saying.
“Did you just say you want to go Parasailing?” – I ask
“Yes sir…” He exclaims, although I’m not sure he understands me, or for that matter even said he wanted to go parasailing in the first place.
“I think that would be a really bad idea H.R.” I answer anyway.
“Excellent…Hallelujah, Rasta!”…click…dial tone.
3:15 P.M. – I receive another call from H.R. I cannot understand anything he is saying, not even 1 word. The call lasts 6 minutes.
Walter and Joe, Photo: Dan Rawe
6:20 P.M. – Rob Dubar, Walter Schreifels, Jeff Pezzati, H.R., myself, and several other Thanksgiving Jam guests meet at a restaurant in Huntington Beach for dinner. H.R. brings his guitar, and he is wearing a bulletproof vest underneath his suit. We all talk about how we should do a documentary on his life. He nods in agreement, but says little else. I tell H.R. dinner is on me tonight, so feel free to order anything he would like. He orders spaghetti with marinara sauce, and a glass of water.
8:55 P.M. – I drop H.R. off at band practice at Sound Matrix Studios in Fountain Valley. I tell him I’ll see him again in 3 hours.
“Magnificent” he exclaims.
12:00 A.M.- I return to Sound Matrix to pick up H.R. The band actually sounds really good. H.R. is dictating the session. He’s in command. One of the players, the keyboardist, has known H.R. since he was two years old. When practice ends H.R. hands each member a hand written receipt that says he owes them each $1000 for coming to practice. One band member informs me that he has tons of these, “ranging from $100 – $4,000,000.”
1:15 A.M. – We drive through downtown Huntington Beach together, looking at girls and MMA wannabees that are now pouring out of the bars. Several times H.R. laughs to himself at something he sees. The Cure’s “Wish” is our soundtrack. H.R. then informs me “tomorrow will be a Thanksgiving Jam”. Well, we shall soon find out.
H.R. at Thanksgiving Jam, Photo: Dan Rawe
3:20 P.M. – I stop by H.R.’s room to check on him. I find myself constantly checking on him through out his stay, asking him if he’s ok? Does he need anything? He always is, and never does. His room is spotless. He is watching the Home And Garden channel. I can see he has a journal of some sort on his desk that he’s been writing in. I am tempted to just take it, and get it published as is. H.R. makes me a seat out of beanbags that come in each hotel room.
“Are you comfortable Mr. Joe?”
He then proceeds to quiz me about the show tonight? Sound check? Several times the room phone rings, and it’s some random lady friend of his. He invites each one to the show of course. The H&G channel is just showing random blueprints, which H.R. stares at from time to time.
“H what are you watching?”
“Ohhhh just getting the latest information, the latest facts.”
“On what, floor plans?”
I then ask him for his Blackberry number, so we can stay in touch this weekend. He handwrites out a note that says “H.R. Human Rights, Good Brains, XXX – XXX – XXXX, Hallelujah, Rasta.” Two hours later I’ll call the number and somebody named Matt will answer who has no fucking idea who H.R. is.
5:00 P.M. – Less then 30 minutes after I have left his room H.R. calls to inform me the “band” may not be able to make it down after all. (Perhaps the $1000 I Owe You’s will not be enough?)
He then says, “We’ll need a drum kit for the show, just a standard reggae kit will do.”
“Soundcheck’s at 6:00 H, that’s in 1 hour,” I reply.
“You’ll make the call Mr. Joe, it will all work out. Hallelujah, Rasta”…click…dial tone!
H.R. at Thanksgiving Jam, Photo: Dan Rawe
7:00 P.M. – H.R. arrives at soundcheck, which will never happen. However I have found a drum set. He hands me his guest list for guests that will never show.
8:05 P.M. – I overhear this conversation between my mom, and H.R.
MOM – “Now where are you from H.R.?”
H.R. – “Baltimore M’AM”
MOM – “Oh…it sounds like you have a little bit of a Jamaican accent.”
H.R. – “My mother is from Kingston M’AM. My father was born in Atlanta, Georgia.”
10:10 P.M. – I check on H.R. who seems to be sleeping in the closet size dressing room of the Detroit Bar, where tonight’s show is taking place. Jonah Matranga is in the dressing room as well checking his Facebook account no doubt.
“How are you doing Jonah?’ I inquire.
Jonah flashes me a grin that says “this is awesome.”
I sit down next to H.R. Some random dude walks in. “H you should come check out some of this art, it’s wild,” he says referring to the art show, which is also part of “Thanksgiving Jam.”
H.R. whispers in my ear, “no thank you sir.”
“H.R. declines your invitation,” I tell the gentleman.
“No but H, it’s pretty trippy, you’ll dig it.”
H.R. laughs softly, and slowly, in sort of an erythematic cadence. “Hmmmm… Hmmmm. Hmmm… Hmmmm.”
“H.R. respectfully denies your request,” I repeat.
The man leaves.
“Thank you Mr. Joe,” H.R. says.
10:45 P.M. – H.R. approaches me as I am talking to a group of girls in the bar. “What time will the Human Rights group be performing this evening Mr. Joe?”
“12:00,” I answer
“Outstanding sir,” he says and walks away.
12:00 A.M. – H.R., and the Human Rights band play. The band has all shown up after all, and they play decent reggae. H.R. strums his guitar named “Lucile” and sings his songs about whatever. In between several songs he mumbles incoherent things, but his mood is upbeat, and their set is good enough. Thanksgiving Jam night 1 is in the record books. I let a runner take H.R. back to his hotel.
H.R and the Human Rights band, Photo: Dan Rawe
10:15 A.M. – In front of my hotel room, returning from a morning Starbucks run with Walter. Suddenly H.R. has appeared, and is right next to me.
“Gooood morning Mr. Joe.”
“Hey H.R. how are you?”
“Ohhh most excellent sir.”
“Where are you going?”
“Ohhh just to get some oatmeal.”
We hug goodbye.
3:35 P.M. – The phone rings. H.R. talks in a code that I cannot break for about 5 or 6 minutes. I also realize he is calling from the hotel phone. I proceed to check on his phone calls with the hotel. He’s at $88 worth so far. I have them turn his phone off.
4:20 P.M. – I stop by H.R.’s room. His entire band is in the room with him. They are all in great spirits. H.R. is cracking inside jokes that bust all of them up. He’s 10000% together, and on point. He asks me how “The festivities are coming along?”
“Good” I answer.
He then removes from his suit pocket the small bottle of cologne that he carries, and sprays it in his mouth.
H.R. at Thanksgiving Jam, Photo: Dan Rawe
5:30 P.M. – H.R and I head to Alex’s Bar in Long Beach. As we cruise down Pacific Coast Highway the sun is setting, H.R. is laid back in the seat, towel on his head, smile on his face, motionless the whole 30 minute drive. Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams” is on the radio.
6:25 P.M. – H.R. informs me that he would like some pizza, which I run and grab. He says a prayer, and blesses his food, as he does before every meal.
8:10 P.M. – H.R. motions for me to come see him. When I arrive he places in my hand an extinct roach, and smiles. He will do this at least 4 more times throughout the evening.
9:45 P.M. – As I am talking to my sister and her friend, H.R. comes up and asks, “when will the Human Rights band will be performing?”
“Excellent Sir,” he proclaims, and walks away.
12:00 A.M. – H.R. performs with his band for almost an hour. They get in a great groove, and H.R. gives a solid performance. He’s in great spirits the whole set. The people who stay and give them a chance are stoked that they did. The band can play.
1:30 A.M. A bunch of Rastas who came are outside free styling to a radio. H.R. watches from a distance, smile on his face. People come up and ask H.R. for an autograph or a photo and he honors every request, although we’re talking like 5 or 6.
1:45 A.M. – H.R. becomes concerned that he lost a plastic bag he hid inside one of the Thanksgiving Jam merch boxes. It contains his phone, and his tape cassette Sony Walkman, “which is the last one of its kind,” according to him.
“Like, the last one of all Sony Cassette Walkmans on Earth?” I retort.
“Ohhhh yes sir, the last one of it’s kind,” he repeats.
I assure him it’s all in my car. When it indeed is, he hugs me, and says “Thank You Mr. Joe.”
2:30 A.M. – H.R. and I are flying down PCH again this time blasting “Regulators” by Warren G. At one point on the drive he starts talking to me again about Rob’s Dr. Seuss sculptures from 4 days ago.
3:10 AM. – Back at the hotel H.R. asks me if it would be alright if he gets some food. I tell him to order room service, but not to order more then $30. “Ohhhhh thank you kindly sir” he says. He then asks when we should leave for the airport? I tell him “I’ll be at his room at 7:30 A.M., so 4 hours from now.” “Excellent sir… I’ll be ready at 7:30 to go to Los Angeles International Airport.”
He then proceeds to inform me of the airline, flight number, gate number, and time of departure 9:58 A.M. All are true.
We say goodnight.
H.R. riding shotgun in Joe’s car, Photo: Joe Nelson
7:30 A.M. – I knock on H.R.’s door. He opens it almost instantly. He is immaculate. Ready to go, dressed in his suit, guitar on his back, backpack in his hand. I look to see the condition of his room. It’s spotless. He’s even made his bed. On his nightstand is the King James Bible opened to the Book Of Psalms. There is a room service receipt neatly folded on his desk; 2 pieces of sourdough toast, and some hot tea. Total cost $8. The gamble on his incidentals was worth it.
8:15 A.M. – We are driving up the 405 freeway together, The radio is playing “Gimmie Shelter” by The Rolling Stones. H.R. hands me some random business card. “This is the man who has rare footage of the original group (Bad Brains), interviews with my mother and father. Call him, and let him know you are my official biographer, and he’ll provide you with the footage, and the facts.”
“Yes indeed sir.”
We talk about making the documentary about his life. I tell him it would have to be brutally honest to be any good. He nods in agreement. He says to me, “Ohhhh it’s been a crazy life Mr. Joe.” He’s not lying.
8:40 A.M. – At the airport we hug goodbye.
“Friends for life,” I tell him.
“Yes indeed sir…yes indeed.”
H.R. says goodbye… indeed, Photo: Dan Rawe
Monday, November 30, 2009
Wide Awake’s Tom Kennedy hits the crowd at the Anthrax, Photo: Ken Ryan
Personally I probably could have gone with a few different tracks here as my favorite, but in the end, my vote went to Pressure Release’s “Pass It On”. As usual my vote was not the popular one, but that’s no surprise at this point. For whatever reason, I’ve always sort of had a soft spot for Pressure Release. That’s not to say that I lack any love for Wide Awake or Up Front, but I guess I’ve always felt that the re-recordings of their songs that ended up on their records was a notch better. Pressure Release’s tracks were more so exclusive to this comp, so that might have influenced my decision a bit. Either way, Wide Awake’s “Last Straw” pretty much clobbered the competition, the drew the last straw for sure. – Tim DCXX
Wide Awake – “Last Straw” – 97
Up Front – “One Step Ahead” – 33
Wide Awake – “Wide Awake” – 30
Pressure Release – “Pass It On” – 17
Pressure Release – “Never Give In” – 15
Up Front – “Something To Strive For” – 5
Up Front - “Live and Let Live” – 3
Sunday, November 29, 2009
Breakaway at Gilman St., Berkeley, CA, Photo courtesy of: Joey Vela
Thinking back to late 1987, I remember first hearing the Maximum Rock ‘N Roll – Turn It Around comp and taking a particular interest in Rabid Lassie’s catchy track, Contragate. By the following year I started seeing Rabid Lassie shirts pop up in a lot photos as well as Rabid Lassie interviews in a few of the fanzines of the day. Next thing I knew I heard about a Rabid Lassie to Breakaway name change and more interviews were staring to pop up. That Northern California / Gilman St. area scene was booming and Breakaway were smack dab in the middle of it all.
By late 1988 early 1989 the word was out that Breakaway had a 7″ coming out on Soul Force Records. I remember the ads, I remember sending off my order and also remember when the package from Soul Force reached my mail box. Undoubtedly, the Breakaway 7″ had one of those classic late 80′s, early Revelation style layouts loaded with great photos and clean graphics. I was nearly sold on them and I had yet to put the needle to the vinyl. Of course once I actually did get a listen, I was not let down and that 7″ received regular rotation.
As the years went on I remember hearing nothing but good things about Breakaway’s frontman, Joey Vela. He had the reputation as a good guy and as one of the few that stuck it out through the good and bad. Joey stayed straight edge while many of his counterparts left it behind and he also continued playing hardcore well into the 90′s with Second Coming long after Breakaway had called it quits. To some, Joey would be considered one of the die-hards, to others, just another guy who was and still is very passionate about hardcore. Here’s part one of his story… -Tim DCXX
Rabid Lassie at Gilman St., Berkeley, CA, Photo courtesy of: Joey Vela
How and when did you discover punk / HC and what are your earliest memories of it?
Like a lot of kids, my first real exposure to punk rock was through skateboarding. I was way into skating when I was really young and I started getting Skateboarder Magazine in 1979. They would have interviews and reviews of bands and the pictures of these bands were just incredible. There was so much energy in these pictures, everything was really raw and I just thought they looked really cool. I didn’t know anything about the bands other than the image portrayed in the pictures. A couple years later, I started buying records of the bands I had seen in Skateboarder or picked up records that other skaters had told me about.
I remember when I was first really getting into it, there was a lot of media hype about how punk rock was brainwashing kids with subliminal messages and how it was basically destroying the youth. For a brief second, my parents actually bought into it. When I wasn’t home, they went through my records and when they found the not so “hidden” messages scratched into the matrix, they freaked out. They had the big talk with me about how I had changed since I started listening to this music and they actually took away my records and said that I could get them back if and when I changed. Funny, they took away the records, but not any of the cassettes I recorded of the records and had no way of monitoring what I listened to when they weren’t around. I never stopped listening to any of it and after a couple of weeks, I got my records back. It’s funny looking back at that because it’s not like my parents at all. They were really cool with the music and the scene and always had a welcome, open door with touring bands that came through and needed a place to stay just a few years later.
Full shot from back cover of Breakaway 7″, Photo: Scott Schaffer
What was the Nor Cal / Bay Area scene like when you were first coming up and who were the big bands of the time?
I remember the first shows I went to and what a huge difference there was. The first show I went to was in Berkeley in 1983 to go see Fang. Back then, I don’t think I owned anything that didn’t have the Fang skull on it. My first show in Berkeley was NOTHING like the first show I went to out in San Francisco. Some of the kids I used to skate with, we talked one of their sisters into driving us to a show at The Mab. I had never been on Broadway before, none of us had. It was like something out of the movies. Flashing lights of all the surrounding strip clubs, adult book stores, police sirens, mobs of people everywhere, and some of the scariest skinheads and punks I had ever seen. Our friend’s sister dropped us off a few blocks away from the club and told us she would pick us up after the show. So there we were, five little kids dropped off on Broadway, making our way back to the Mab. I can only imagine how scared we all looked. As we were walking by some of the strip clubs, the ladies working the doors tried to coerce us to go inside to see the peep shows, it was crazy. But it was exciting up there. You’d see some crazy stuff happen before even getting into the shows.
The Mab used to have two shows a night, the curfew show which was all ages and the late show which I think was 18 and over. Curfew shows ended at 10:00 and had the same bands as the late show. Really an ideal situation for us young kids. After that, we started going out there almost every weekend. A lot of the time, we didn’t even know who was playing, we would just take the BART train out to the city, see the show, then head home. We also started going to other venues like Ruthie’s Inn, the On Broadway, Club Foot, The Farm. A lot of great old spots.
Back when I first started going to shows, the scene was pretty violent. The SF Skins were a big deal and you would see some crazy shit happen at the shows. You really had to watch yourself. With risk of sounding like a bitter old man, it just seemed more real back then. It wasn’t as easy, but that’s just the times, you know? You couldn’t go to the mall and buy punk records and it definitely wasn’t the cool thing to do. I don’t know, I’m sure everyone feels that way about when they first got into the scene regardless of what year. As far as who were the big local bands when I first started going to shows…Fang, Dead Kennedys, Code of Honor, Crucifix, Social Unrest. There were a lot of really good bands.
At what point did you decide you wanted to do your own band and how did Rabid Lassie come together?
My friends Trent and Ted had already started a band, and wanted to do another one and they asked if I wanted to sing. That was in 1985. I never set out to start a band, it just sort of happened. I’d say that Trent was the catalyst with starting me into singing in bands though. Trent is an amazing photographer and has documented a lot of our scene over the years with his pictures.
Joey with Rabid Lassie, Photo courtesy of: Joey Vela
Any stand out Rabid Lassie shows? If so, with who, where and why?
Oh man, there were so many great shows we played. It seemed like we played a lot of shows with some of our favorite local bands at the time. Clown Alley, Violent Coercion (Neurosis), Christ on Parade, some of my favorite punk bands to come out of Northern California. I used to love all the shows at New Method, that place was more like a community. I remember at one of the shows there, people were hanging out in the front outside, then all of the sudden, everyone came running in yelling for everyone to stay inside and they started to barricade the door. A couple guys wacked out on pcp were outside getting crazy. A lot of us ran upstairs and climbed out onto the roof to watch these guys break shit that should not be broken by any human, it was nuts. That was one of my favorite spots for shows though. Not so much about the bands playing as much as it was about the community – for the most part, everyone knew each other.
Later on, we played some amazing shows with Youth Of Today, Verbal Assault, a lot of the straight edge shows. I think for me though, my favorite shows were with local friends, Tyrranicide and Unit Pride. We always had a good time playing shows with them.
Give us the recording history of Rabid Lassie, demos, comp tracks, etc.
I think we recorded four demos and two tracks for the Maximum Rock ‘N Roll – Turn It Around comp. When we recorded for the MRR comp, they asked us to record two songs, but requested one of the two be a song called Contragate. We weren’t even into the song at all by that point and were looking to change our style a bit. The second song we recorded was heavily influenced by our local heroes, Clown Alley. That song was more of the direction we were heading in and that was the song we wanted on the comp. Of course they chose the song they wanted, and the other song was never used on anything or released on any demo.
At what point was the decision made to morph Rabid Lassie into Breakaway and what was the reason for the change?
It was kind of one of those things where we wanted to be taken more seriously and like I said before, we were changing our style a bit. We had a lot of different line up changes and it just seemed like a good time to make the change and kind of get a fresh start. Simply put, we just weren’t the same band we were when we first started. Different style, different views, different people, we just wanted a name that fit the band better.
Rabid Lassie at Gilman St., Berkeley, CA, Photo courtesy of: Joey Vela
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
This is the continuation of Ken Salerno’s Agnostic Front “Victim In Pain” photo post. In case you forgot, the reason for all these “Victim In Pain” appreciation and memories posts stem from the official re-release of AF’s “Victim In Pain” on Bridge 9 Records. I received my copy in the mail last week, along with the re-release of AF’s “United Blood” EP and I gotta say, Chris Wrenn and the rest of the B9 crew did a great job on these re-releases. Check it out here B9 Store, you won’t be disappointed. -Tim DCXX
Monday, November 23, 2009
Jay hits the NYC crowd during a Krakdown set at CBGB’s, Photo: Boiling Point
Who were your favorite HC bands early on?
My favorite bands…wow another hard one…so I am just going to make a quick list of bands as they come to mind…so this is in no particular order: Sick Of It All, Killing Time, Cro Mags, AF, CFA, Murphys Law, Regan Youth, Void, Minor Threat, Bad Brains, Mariah Carey (just making sure you’re still paying attention), Absolution, Circle Jerks, Sham 69, GB, Outburst, NY Hoods, 7 Seconds, Slapshot, Urban Waste, The Mob, Icemen, Underdog, Rest in Pieces, Straight Ahead, Dr. Know, Iron Cross, Mental Abuse, Black Flag, The Germs, Token Entry, Warzone, Nausea, and on and on.
I know I left so much out…especially all the old punk that influenced me before I discovered hardcore but I guess that will have to do for now. I really liked most of the bands I saw. I was not this huge record collector (although I have many old records and tapes from back then).
Again, for me hardcore was about the people, especially my friends. So I can’t tell you what band cut a rare record in such and such a year but I do know who I hung out with at such and such a show. Hardcore to me was about live music and friends and the energy associated with seeing a live band. That is why I slowly moved away from the scene as it changed. Now that I am older I look back on the changes and realize all things change and evolve. The anger I felt back then was wasted energy and I am grateful for the time I had to be a part of something as amazing as the NYHC scene. I am happy to see some of my closest friends from the scene still out there playing and waving the flag of NYHC as it once was.
When and how did the idea to start Krakdown develop?
The idea to start Krakdown was really accidental. In 1985 Damon and I were messing around with music and lyrics when we both got the idea to start a band. Damon had some music and I had some lyrics so we decided to form a band. We got our friend Richie on board and started jamming. Richie was in the original Krakdown that was formed and disbanded in 1984 so he asked Damon and I if we would be interested in playing some of the old Krakdown songs. We were both fans of Krakdown so we figured it would be pretty cool. We had a hard time finding a drummer that understood the feel we were looking for. We finally found John through an ad he hung on the wall of Some Records. John had seen the old Krakdown and had the old punk drumming sound we were looking for. We could not come up with a name for the band so we decided to carry on the Krakdown torch.
Where did you see Krakdown fitting into the NYHC scene at the time and who were the bands you most liked playing with?
How did Krakdown fit in to NYHC…shit I don’t know if we fit in with each other let alone the scene. Let’s see, Damon the bass player was an angry Rasta/skinhead that spoke of peace as he beat your ass, Richie was a whacked out pot smoking, drinking skater, John the drummer was in his 40s at the time and was the first macrobiotic I had ever met…so we laughed at how he ate seaweed and rice, and there was me…an angry kid that had just quit drinking, drugging, and HS…not to be straight edge but to stay out of jail. So how does that dysfunctional mess fit in with the scene? I guess we were misfits so we were a perfect fit!
I guess I see our place in the history of the scene as just another band that loved to play more of a old style punk/hardcore than just straight hardcore. We never really fit into the mold of many of the bands that were coming out at that time. The music was changing to a much heavier, tougher sound than in the past but we stuck with the older more punk sound of hardcore. Don’t get me wrong, I loved all the bands that were coming out at the time but we tried to keep our sound alive. I know that cost us in popularity but we didn’t care (remember we were angry kids so fuck everyone else). We also didn’t record as much as a lot of other bands and we didn’t write new songs as fast as everyone else. This is because our focus was on playing live and putting on crazy shows full of energy. I don’t know if we accomplished that but fuck it we tried. We were also too dysfunctional to write new music or get our asses into the studio. Combine that with marriage, jobs, etc. so all we had was our live shows. That was when we didn’t argue…I just got on stage and had a blast. So I hope we will be remembered as just a band that loved to play, loved the scene, and put on a good show.
As for who I liked playing with the most…well just my friends: SOIA (we did a lot of shows with them and we always had a blast…I still sport my Alleyway Crew tat with pride and respect to my brothers!), Raw Deal/ Killing Time, Absolution, Token Entry, Ludachrist, Rest in Pieces, Nausea, Trip 6, Maximum Penalty, Straight Ahead, SFA, Side by Side, Supertouch, GB, Outburst, and on and on. Sorry I know I left people out but you know who you were. I always had a blast playing with these guys and it made for a good time.
Jay and Richie with Krakdown, Photo courtesy of: Jay
Sunday, November 22, 2009
The Cathay De Grande was this seedy basement club a block or so away from Hollywood Blvd. in (you guessed it) Hollywood. It was on a street called Selma Ave. And even more interesting was that Mystic Records was a block away! I think I spent the bulk of 1984 going to this club to see a variety of cool bands. I was sort of making up for lost time; at this point I was already a published cartoon scribbler and started to get mail, but I still hadn’t gone to a real show until December of 1983 (which was 45 Grave, Redd Kross (with Dez Cadena) and D. Boon). I didn’t drive. So I waited till some of the friends I had made as pen pals would actually go out of their way to come get me for some shows…even if I did live in Ventura County, seemingly a million miles from anything cool or exciting.
By this time, I had also met the guys in Scared Straight. Scott Radinsky drove and had a blue pick up truck. We’d make the trek into Hollywood a lot to see shows, and for whatever the reason most of them were at the Cathey De Grande. It was exciting. Finally I was able to see all of this cool shit. And there was a dangerous vibe to it as well. I thought anything could happen at any time, and there was rarely any occasion that made us feel that it wasn’t worth the trek.
Looking back, I am struck by what a naïve and undeniable dork I was, definitely not one of the tough and scary kinds of punk rockers. I was a slightly pudgy longhaired Jewish kid with glasses. I was just totally into the music and lived to find out more about what I had been buying and reading in this subculture. And it was all good at that point. Even when it wasn’t it still was. It was exciting just being in that room far far away from my parent’s house. And of course I met a lot of other like minded kids that were also really into the same things.
A shredding Die Kreuzen
Die Kreuzen played there on their first album tour. To say they were good and ahead of their time would be a great understatement. They were perhaps the ultimate band at the time but still seemed so weird and different then almost everybody else at the time. I have a picture somewhere of me and Ryan Hoffman (of Justice League) sitting on a monitor on the nonexistent stage watching bassist Keith Brammer play, and we are both sitting there looking at him with our eyes and mouths wide open like we are watching the second coming of Jesus…or at least Marc Bolan. I mean, he really had good hair.
Seven Seconds and Uniform Choice played a great show there as well. Some of the times I had seen 7 Seconds play they were not too hot. Not this night. It was like a nonstop sing along, one would be hit after another, the bulk of “The Crew” and “Committed For Life” unfurled. There was another show where I saw this one band called Condemned To Death. They were from San Francisco and they were an amazing band. A lot of people don’t really remember these guys but they were great.
Kevin Seconds (with the Brian Walsby drawn shirt) and Steve Youth with 7 Seconds at the Sun Valley Sportman’s Hall 1984, Photo: Joe Henderson
Another show that I remember there was during the summer of 1984. Some of you might remember that the Olympics were being held in Los Angeles back then, so the city appeared to have looked a little cleaned up. The previous night was a big Goldenvoice show at the infamous Olympic Auditorium where Dead Kennedys, Raw Power, Reagan Youth and BGK played. We had heard that a quickie show was being held the next night at the Cathey and that some of the same bands would be playing. The bill ended up being Cause For Alarm, AOD and BGK. It was a great show but I remember BGK totally stole the show. At the time they were one of the most precise hardcore bands I had ever seen. It was hot as shit down there that night. Good times.
The club also had this once a week thing called DUNKER NIGHT. For the price of one dollar, you could get in and watch up to eleven bands in one night! And a lot of them were real good. There was one band that seemed to play that night all the time called Incest Cattle. They were this amazing trio that had all of these weird songs that ran the gamut from post punk screeching noise to furious hardcore to overt metal songs and everything in between. The weird looking short bassist with the Human League haircut turned out to be Doug Carrion who joined the Descendents when they reformed a year or so later. I remember seeing a band called MADMEN that featured people that looked (gasp!) old. What were these people doing here? Remember how it was when you were eighteen and when you met someone who was not even thirty, and you couldn’t believe it? Well, these guys were older than that, I bet. The singer was this furious front person who really had presence. They also seemed to have more command of their instruments; unlike some of the other fellow youngsters I have seen playing music. Dunker Night was always really cool for me. I wonder if anyone else remembers that?
I met all kinds of people there. I remember hanging out with Tim Kerr and Randy “Biscuit” Turner of the Big Boys in the stairwell one night. I was struck by how nice and friendly they were, which is what everyone said. It left a big impression on me. Almost every single living punk rock “celeb” that I knew of seemed to drop by there at least once. Sometimes I would bother these people but most of the time I would just admire them from afar, too nervous to actually engage in conversation. I met the legendary El Duce of the Mentors, who was everything you would think he would be if you know who that person was; a total laugh riot. Of course he was shitfaced. Hanging out with Al and Hud from the legendary FLIPSIDE magazine was also a big deal. And it was really cool to find out that almost all of the people that I had admired, known about and looked up to were all personable and nice. I wasn’t sure why I expected anything else but there you go.
The infamous Olympic Auditorium
Speaking of shitfaced, the funniest thing about all of the times I went to the Cathay De Grande was how I was this dumb little kid who didn’t do anything but religiously watch these bands and the fact that I usually was surrounded by all of these fucked up and drunk people. I never drank or smoked pot or anything like that…not at that time anyways, so it meant nothing to me but I had no problems with it. Actually, it was kind of exciting to be around, to be honest. It made things scarier, if that makes sense. And for every time I saw a show there like 7 Seconds where there were more young people that didn’t necessarily want to get fucked up, there were plenty of drug addicts, speed freaks and alcoholics at various other slightly more “adult” shows that catered to those damn punk rockers.
I can’t seem to recall when and why the club closed down but I think it happened right before I moved to the East Coast. So I am guessing that it was the end of 1985 or so. I haven’t been to a club that had that kind of vibe since. It was disgusting and seedy and falling apart but for awhile it was like a second home to me. There have probably been at least a thousand photos that people took of bands playing at the Cathay De Grande…and some of those photos have made it into fanzines and the back covers and inserts of rare records that some of you reading this right now probably own.
Brian Walsby and Al Quint of Suburban Voice Fanzine, 1985, Photo courtesy of: Al Quint
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Just got back to the east coast and wanted to put my two cents into the AF Victim In Pain post. Since everyone is commenting on how that album changed their lives and such, I thought I’d do a photo essay because AF was one of those bands that was soooo easy to shoot. These photos are all from City Gardens. Randy Now (CG’s show promoter) was always nervous about a few bands that were regulars because of the NO SLAM DANCING, NO STAGE DIVING rule put in place by Frank “King Tut”, the owner of City Gardens. Randy had to take shit from Frank, parents and Trenton police(on occasion) if the bands went off big, and AF ALWAYS went big. Anyway, here’s what I saw at the time. Kudos to Roger and AF for still being out there. Over/Out, Salerno
To be continued…
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