Monday, September 14, 2009
Silent Victory Fanzine issue 1-3
I have so many great memories from shows. It would be easy to say that my best memories are obviously from the Anthrax days. But I also have great memories from after it closed too. One show that stands out in my mind right now would be an outside show that my old band Mindwar played on the New Haven green. There was a lot of bands playing, but right now I can only remember that Dismay and Jasta 14 also played. Jamie Jasta had set up the show. He was probably only like 14 years old at the time.
Anyways, my parents had come to the show. It was the first and last time they ever came to see Mindwar. During our set a fight broke out and multiple people were spraying mace and beating the hell out of each other. People that I knew were involved in the fight and they ended up chasing a couple dudes through the streets of New Haven for like a mile. It was crazy and I hated to see fights constantly happening at shows but looking back this one was actually pretty funny. Seeing 15 dudes chasing 2 dudes through the New Haven streets was quite a spectacle. My parents were totally freaked out.
A.J. with a wall ride and a BOLD shirt in Connecticut 1988, Photo courtesy of: A.J.
Sunday, September 13, 2009
John Joseph with Scott Ian of Anthrax
While scouring the internet I came across these two stellar non-live shots that for whatever reason, I just thought were incredible. Maybe it’s because you know that when both of these photos were taken, the Cro-Mags were clearly at the top of their game, as were Anthrax and Metallica. Both JJ and Harley look like they are about as happy as they’ve ever been. On top of all of that, I’m a sucker for good shirts and JJ’s busting what could be considered the best Bad Brains shirt ever, while Harley’s arguably busting the greatest Cro-Mags shirt ever. All hail the Mags. -Tim DCXX
Harley Flanagan with James Hetfield of Metallica
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Here’s the continuation of Ken Salerno’s SNFU photo entry. As I said last entry, Ken contributed over 30 photos of SNFU alone, so there are still a handful left that we may post at some point down the road. For now, beware of the Bodies In the Wall and go listen to some SNFU. -Tim DCXX
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Five minutes ago I was on my way to bed, completely exhausted and practically incoherent when I somehow felt compelled to click on a video of Burn from the Marquee in 1991.
This wasn’t anything I hadn’t seen many times before, in fact, I’ve sat with cronies and we’ve talked at length about Burn’s sheer force from this set, and those who attended confirmed what they witnessed that night (and that Supertouch was great as well). Regardless, it had been long enough since I had seen this let alone thought about it that I couldn’t completely prepare myself for what I was about to witness again.
So, I watched it once, and by the end was overcome with energy and a feeling that was a mix of wanting to do very strange dances combined with a strong desire to go jump off of very high fixed objects at the same time. I’m still sitting here now in a full sweat unable to sleep and figured I may as well write my thoughts stream of consciousness on 2:13 of video that is worth your time.
:06 – Blistering tightness. I forgot for a millisecond how this band was/is an all-star cast in ever sense of the description. Hardcore dudes aren’t expected to be musicians. These guys were/are musicians.
:07 – Is Chaka high/drunk/dusted? Do I care? No. Somehow he’s not going overboard with energy and yet it seems like a human being couldn’t possibly have more energy.
:19 – Holy fuck, yeah, he’s got energy.
:28 – My God, up until now I couldn’t even see Gavin, I could only feel his presence. He appears and I actually get scared…like when you are walking at night and someone comes around a corner without an ounce of warning and the first thing you think is “where is my wallet?”
:31 – Yeah…I don’t ever want to fuck with Gavin.
:36 – That scream. Did you just hear that?
:39 – I’m not sure the Marquee dancefloor in 1991 is the safest place in the world.
:44 – Black skinhead with boots and braces has now gone from front-and-center singalong to pre-dive stage mosh. Can someone please identify this guy so I can friend request him on Facebook asap?
:47 – Maybe the most devastating power move you can pull as a front man: the-get-up-on-drum-riser-and-lock-eyes-with-your-drummer-creating-a-musical-meeting-of-the-minds-along-with-an-outward-vibe-that-says “we are basically having sex through music and destroying the world right now”. I need to at one point front a band just so I can mimic this if so compelled.
:48 – :59 – Ok, this is just Chaka demonstrating why he’s one of the best frontmen to ever exist in hardcore. See, he could teach these moves all day to people, and nobody is likely every going to pull it off. Did I mention this is all going on during probably the best part in any Burn song ever (and there’s like 379 great parts between all the Burn songs)? Calling it a “mosh part” doesn’t really accurately explain it. It’s just…total power…I can’t even find the words to describe what I’m hearing in Gavin’s guitar, and that is through shitty computer speakers and a fourth generation VHS tape ripped to YouTube.
Oh, during this part…Alan Cage. From a drum perspective, you couldn’t play this part any better, any harder, any tighter, any louder, any heavier. It’s simplistic tribal bashing, a sound and pattern that was probably played by people covered in hair and no teeth thousands of years ago, and it still makes me want to smash everything in my path with complete disregard for my own well being. Fucking Alan Cage, man.
1:24 – I don’t think he could have just sang the last few lines in a weirder more off-time fashion, and yet it sounded absolutely perfect.
1:30 – cool SFA shirt and dive.
1:40 – pretty sure Tim is in here diving somewhere. He pointed it out before but I can’t find him now. Translation: I’m extremely jealous that he was here partaking, and I was fast asleep after a night league baseball game.
1:51 – Gavin…more power.
1:57 – !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
1:58 – You do realize the whole band just entered this final part via the cue of Chaka doing probably one of the sickest dives ever into the crowd (in time), right? If not, and you don’t understand the greatness of this, then I have nothing for you. Even Napeck, who really is about as subdued as possible during this whole song (while playing flawlessly I am sure), seems to just be caught in a trance of bass groove…he’s so over the whole thing and in another dimension he just looks at his cabinet during this. The next few seconds see Gavin basically owning the stage…the whole vibe is like “yeah I wrote this part just so all you motherfuckers would lose your minds. How do I know this?! BECAUSE I AM LOSING MY FUCKING MIND!!!”
2:07 – Michael Jackson style spin move while Gavin pulls out some weird guitar bend that sounds like the voice of God.
2:10 – Song closes, and I’m sitting here shaking wondering if maybe it’s a good idea after all to go do sprints through the neighborhood while throwing cinderblocks through people’s windows. -Gordo DCXX
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Jay with Turning Point at City Gardens, 12/2/1990, Photo courtesy of: TP
Jay Laughlin brings us more on the history of Turning Point in our ongoing coverage of the NJ greats. Put on the discography and dig in… -Gordo DCXX
I was very a normal kid in high school, I wasn’t a “punk” outsider. I had plenty of friends and was good at sports. Gym teachers would pull me aside and wonder why I wasn’t playing for the high school basketball team. I told them I played music on the weekends and couldn’t commit to every game. Music teachers wanted me in the jazz band on drums. Same deal, if you were in the jazz band you had to be in the marching band and play at the Sunday football games. There was no way I could do that and also would never wear that stupid marching band outfit either. But once I started really getting into hardcore, everything fell to the wayside.
I was into skating too. I was friends with all the jocks, but nobody knew what the fuck we were into. Guys would always ask what was up with the hardcore t-shirts, what were they about, but they just didn’t get it or care really. But we weren’t outcasts by any stretch of the imagination. We were normal kids, we were just really into hardcore.
Jay and Frank at Why Me? Studios, 1990, Photo courtesy of: TP
Before we recorded the LP for New Age, we recorded “Insecurity” as a one off, and I think it was at Why Me studios. Steve had recorded there prior with some guy that played an accordian through a Marshall stack so he reccomended Why Me to us. So we went there.
“My Turn To Win” was also from Why Me. We loved that place. We never had a reason to go anywhere else. They got what we were doing, it was close to where we lived, the rates were good, we always had fun there. It was never a thing where we thought we should go elsewhere. Joe was really cool and would let me get on the mixing board and fool around with the levels myself, I was getting into recording and learning things so it was really cool to me. But it happened so fast, we never thought of going other places.
New Age was the only one label to offer us an LP deal. Mike just called me up out of nowhere and said he’ll send me $400 and we can record! We were like, “who the hell is this dude?” We thought he was like rich or something! It was a mindblowing thing to me at the time. We hadn’t heard a ton about New Age but we knew it was legit. Skip became friends with Mikey Fast Break, he flew out to California to hang out with him and the New Age guy and they would come out east a few times and stay with Skip.
Jay recordings It’s Always Darkest Before The Dawn at Why Me? Studios, 1990, Photo courtesy of: TP
The difference between the seven inch and the LP was probably from the stuff we were listening to as well as just our own progression in musicianship. I think everyone was getting a little bit better and wanting to challenge ourselves. It was just a natural thing. We were just 4 kids who got together after school and played. There were never band meetings or anything to talk about what direction we wanted to go in. But our sound was naturally developing. I think Embrace and the DC stuff crept in. Plus, I was also still into metal, so Metallica and Slayer was in there too. I would sit and listen to Ride The Lightning and learn every riff in my bedroom rewinding the tape over and over again. So that’s where the acoustic guitar intro type stuff came from.
Nick at the YMCA, 1988, Photo courtesy of: TP
After the LP came out, we knew Mike (New Age guy) was selling records, we never knew how many, but he definitely sold a decent amount over the years and we never saw a dime. Nothing. He did send us a simple one page contract, and the contract said the LP had to be 30 minutes of music. The LP came out to like 28 minutes or so. So Mike said he didn’t have to pay us. He had no problem with the length of the LP when we gave it to him and he went though and pressed it. But when we wanted to get paid he basicly blew us off. They still have the LP for sale on their website!? “Tried And True since 1988.” Yeah, right. It was really eye opening. Because up until then, there was a lot of trust there. And this was the first time I realized maybe everyone in HC wasn’t so cool.
So yeah, we never saw a penny. It was such an innocent thing, making music with your best friends and getting that music released by your other “friends” and suddenly you realize he’s making money off of it and we get nothing. It was such a sour thing. It was typical record label bullshit. We were just like fuck it, whatever. What can we do? Get a laywer and sue? That would have been great, a bunch of kids wearing “It’s OK Not to Drink” t-shirts in a court of law! The Judge would have had to tell us that if we had just made the mosh part in “Face Up” 30 seconds longer we would have a case! You would think with all the Metallica I was listening to I would have written some longer songs! I’ve put out a ton of records since then and the first thing I do is make SURE it’s over 30 minutes. But joking aside, it was really fucked and kinda was the begining of the end of the band.
Musically, I wasn’t as stoked on the LP as I was on the earlier stuff. I liked it, I still think it sounds OK, but the stuff we did after was much better to me. My older brother Chris did the artwork. He did all of our designs and graphics for everything and still does for all of my projects to this day. That’s his hand print in the hand logo on the shirt design. The reaction after the LP – it seemed like we had to work a little harder to get any real attention. It wasn’t as immediate as the seven inch days. We never played north of Buffalo or south of DC. Touring was something that never really crossed our mind. I think at most we thought we could fly to the west and play there, but we never really connected the dots. It just seemed a little beyond our grasp money-wise. After the LP came out we were all still very into HC, but everybody was getting into all different types of music that was coming out at the time. Ken and Skip were way into the Smiths, while Soundgarden and Jane’s were really blowing me away. We all loved Public Enemy too. So much so that we started to open our shows with the first verse of “She Watch Channel Zero.” We first did it at City Gardens in Trenton NJ and it went over amazing. Everybody knew it. We tried it again in DC and it went over like a wet fart. So all that new stuff was creeping into my guitar playing, and I wanted to learn how to play more challenging stuff.
Ken in the studio with Turning Point recording It’s Always Darkest Before The Dawn, 1990, Photo courtesy of: TP
It was around this time that things in the hardcore scene started to get weird for me too. All these different politics started to show up. Vegetarianism and Krishna started to become really big. Don’t get me wrong here, I have no problem with tofu or any religion you might believe in, but it just started to become really corny to me. I loved hardcore and I loved playing it, but it seemed like it just got so much heavier and very agenda-driven. I’ll never forget one show we played at the Anthrax. We had stopped at a McDonalds right before we got to the club and Ken was eating a Big Mac and fries in the club after load-in and this kid walked up all offended and was like “do you KNOW what they cook those french fries in?” Ken just laughed and kept on eating. It’s like, what the fuck is going on here? I don’t give a fuck what you eat, why do you care what we eat?
I loved Slayer and always imigined that Kerry King was chomping down on a live goat for dinner. I’m joking, but what the fuck did it matter to me what Kerry King ate for dinner? Dude could play guitar like a motherfucker! And let me tell you this, we used to practice at either Ken’s or Nick’s house and both of thier parents were always cooking some killer food. I would challenge any hardcore kid to pass up Nick’s mom’s meatballs! Impossible I tell you. We didn’t stand a chance in the vegetarian thing. Same thing started to happen with the Straight Edge part of it. The kids started to get a bit crazy wih it. Wanting to fight all the time. We were straight edge, but I had a ton of friends that drank and smoked and I never wated to punch them in the face. It was a personal choice not to partake myself but I didn’t really care what other people did. The whole thing started to get a bit too “serious” for me. I just wanted to play music.
Skip and Jay with Turning Point at the YMCA, 1988, Photo courtesy of: TP
Monday, September 7, 2009
DCXX resident photographer, Ken Salerno delivers the goods as usual. This time Ken brings us one of the most photogenic hardcore punk bands of all time, SNFU. It was nearly impossible to narrow down the 30 something photos that Ken contributed for this piece, so we’re going to split this up into a couple of entries. Here’s part one accompanied by Ken’s commentary. As always, thanks to Ken, now open your mouth and say… -Tim DCXX
I was checkin’ out the Livewire board last week and saw some comments on Chi Pig/SNFU, and well, I’m submitting a different take on a photo essay. I traveled a bit with SNFU on a few occasions, so, while the Murphy’s Law pics from the Ritz (posted here a few weeks back) were of a favorite show of mine, I now want to get to some of my favorite groups. I’d be very hard pressed to boil them down to maybe 25 or even 30, because I hardly ever saw a band I didn’t like. But it’s a little easier to have faves if you actually had some kind of personal contact with them.
So, SNFU…I jumped in their van after a show at City Gardens and went up to Albany for a show. Then we went over to Leominster, Mass for a “pick up hockey game” against a team of friends from Bridgewater. Leominster was the hot bed of street hockey(ball). From there we cruised up to the Canadian border and I took a bus back. This is my favorite lineup: Chi, Curt, Tim, and the Belkes, Mutt/Bunt.
It was easy to burn up tons of film on those guys, because they were always on…from the moment they hit their first note, it was nonstop mayhem, and they could ALL get major air!!! I hope these pics at least show a fraction of their intensity. SNFU is in my all time top 10. Haven’t talked to Ken (Chi) in quite a while, but I DO know from experience what it’s like to be swimming in a river of shit. I am definitely coming out for them when they tour this year.
These shots are from City Gardens, Maxwell’s, and Albany…this is but the tip of the iceberg. – Ken Salerno
All SNFU photos: Ken Salerno
Friday, September 4, 2009
Thou Shalt Not Kill
The Antidote EP is my personal favorite of the early NYHC heavy hitters. Some diehard early 80s vinyl junkies might tell you It isn’t the most obscure, it isn’t the craziest, and it isn’t the most critically acclaimed. But, it is I think surely considered by even the most devout early hardcore fans as an important record for its time…and to some it is a timeless masterpiece. I won’t get too long-winded here or provide a band history, but goddamn if there aren’t some major things to discuss regarding this 8 song powerhouse.
When I was coming up, this record already had a decade’s worth of mystique to it, and seemed to be discussed in hushed voices by those older than me who had been around for years longer. I remember a significantly older friend once saying to me, “You think YOT is good? You gotta hear the Antidote record. Makes Cappo sound like he’s just imitating it.” Within minutes I think I had secured a tape dub from that same person…it definitely wasn’t available in any bootleg or re-release format at that time.
For some reason, the songs were out of order on my cassette copy, and the first song to play was Foreign Job Lot. That opening twinge of feedback and then the breakneck guillotine of a riff simply destroyed me and turned my headphones into ashes and clumps of dust. By the time it got to the breakdown, I was borderline-unconscious and felt like I was nodding out in a lower east side squat. And man, that breakdown. To this day, that’s in my top 5 mosh parts ever written. I’m not sure there is a vocal part in the existence of the world that sounds better than when Louie growls/screams/yells, “I CANNOT CAN’T A GET A JOB…BECAUUUUHHHHSSSSEEE!!! THERE’S NO PLACE TO WORK!!!!” There may be other vocal parts in songs on par with this, but I challenge you with ferocity to tell me there is anything better. Seriously, that’s as good as it gets, the end.
So, that said, Foreign Job Lot, ‘questionable’ lyrics included, is my favorite song and got my #1 vote without hesitation. I’m pretty surprised this took the #3 spot behind Real Deal. Real Deal is a great song, I just didn’t realize it had this level of popularity. I’ve always loved the cheering/fun vibe when the solo kicks in near the end, but to me this would be the #3 spot, and not #2. I just always thought that Foreign Job Lot was the universal second seed to the crowd favorite, Something Must Be Done.
In a lot of ways, Something Must Be Done is just the “hit” off the record. I love the song, one of the all time greats, and it gives Foreign Job Lot a strong run for the money. But it’s just almost too familiar, I kinda forget its power at this point unless I go awhile not hearing it. I would give it my #2 vote.
The thing I always find interesting when listening to Something Must Be Done is the overdub guitar track that runs at times through the song that never seems to link up with anything. It will do some picking and some other little cool stuff, but it’s almost totally out of time. It ends up sounding like a friend just started fucking around with a guitar when the band wasn’t looking and it got recorded, but somehow it works.
Speaking of recording, this is also as far as I’m concerned one of the best HC recordings ever. It doesn’t hurt that these dudes are super tight with great rhythm, but sonically, everything is perfect and could probably never be duplicated the same way it came out here. The guitar tone especially…madonna mia. Absolute perfection. If someone can exactly recreate this studio sound, I will pay you $10,000 just so I can come in and make some noise and record it.
While no song on here is bad, Something Must Be Done is an anthem in every sense of the word – the Antidote song anyone worth their salt should know every single word to. For a record that has some lyrics that don’t really make a whole lot of sense at times and are written in an odd way, this is just a “get off the couch and change the world” battlecry song that is the musical equivalent of a gigantic caffeine pill laced with just a spritz of cocaine.
So yeah, Something Must Be Done will likely remain the Antidote crowd favorite for the rest of eternity, as this awesome piece of classic vinyl is burnt into the history books as one of the key template pieces for fast raging hardcore punk. RESPECT. -Gordo DCXX
Something Must Be Done – 131
Real Deal – 63
Foreign Job Lot – 39
Life As One – 18
Nazi Youth – 11
Got Me on The Line – 7
Zero Mentality – 5
Die At War – 3
Nunzio (Antidote) & Robb Miller (Rapid Deployment, Antidote) 1984, Photo courtesy of: Antidote
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
This is another one of those entries we’ve gathered from scouring the depths of Facebook. Maybe you’ve seen it, maybe you haven’t, but either way it’s now here in the DCXX archives. Not much of an introduction needed, 50 bands Mike Judge has seen and a couple of choice comments to follow. Kinda cool to think that right here is a list of bands that influenced / left an impression on Mike and what would become the mighty Judge. -Tim DCXX
1. 1st Show: Misfits with Black Flag and the Necros at Hittsville in Passaic, NJ
2. Black Flag
5. Cause for Alarm
6. Agnostic Front
7. Reagan Youth
8. Urban Waste
9. The Mob
10. Bad Brains
11. Major Conflict
12. Counter Force
13. Mode of Ignorance
15. Cavity Creeps
16. Murphy’s Law
17. Jerry’s Kid
21. Gilligans Revenge
22. Negative Approach
23. Minor Threat
26. Iron Cross
31. Dead Kennedys
32. Angry Samoans
34. UK Subs
35. Beef Eater
36. Vice Squad
37. Motor Head
38. Young & Useless
40. Celtic Frost
43. Merciful Fate
44. American Standard
45. Tom Waits
46. Neil Young
47. Hank III
48. Lucky Tubb
50. Circle Jerks
Mark Ryan: I remember that Black Flag show at Hitsville. I didn’t go that night but that’s the one I was talking about in the Sam McPheeters interview. I went to the sound check on my BMX and the club owner wouldn’t let me in. I wound up riding aggressively in front of the club and cursing him out, then he was like “Ok kid, you got heart, c’mon in”. As soon as I walked in Henry and Glen called me over and asked me what my name was and I nervously hung out with them and got to see Black Flag’s soundcheck. Bummed I couldn’t get into the real show though, I thought about trying to hide in the bathroom or something but it wouldn’t have been so easy with my bike.
Mike Judge: Yeah, I didn’t list alot bands, just the ones that popped in my head. Most people want to hear about those old Lower East Side shows anyway. It’s weird how much live music we’ve seen. Between CB’s, Pyramid, Gildersleeves, Rock hotel, Max’s and the old Ritz, we’ve seen alot of bands bro. I even left out my favorite show of all time, Misfits, Kraut, and Even Worse at Irving Plaza. Thats the night Jerry and Doyle destroyed the Rapid Deployment punks right in the middle of their set. Then they went back on stage and played WE Bite! epic night man. I also left out all those great Jersey bands. 50 just aint enough.
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Joe Affe from Maximum Penalty kicks us the real deal on MP present, past, and future. Expect much more to come from the NYHC legends and keep an eye out for their new record on Reaper. Time Flies Fast when you’re havin’ fun, suckas! -Gordo DCXX
First, tell us what is up with MP right now (record, shows, writing, future plans), and with you as well. What was going on with you and the MP guys the last few years to lead up to this point?
Well MP just finished up our new record which is set to be released on Reaper Records on October 6th 2009. It has been a long struggle but it’s done and we’ve finally found a home for the band so we are really excited about that. After a brief hiatus, the band re-grouped and started playing shows again with the re-release of our original demo & first e.p. We never had the chance to make that old recording available before so that was a big deal for us. It was basically for anyone who didn’t get a chance to be part of the demo tape trading frenzy of the late 80s and for those whose cassettes were burned out…much like all my old hardcore demo tapes.
Soon after that a mutual friend was putting together a hardcore music station for the latest Grand Theft Auto video game. We were blown away with the idea and then before we knew we were on the play-list with all the greats. Bad Brains, Cro Mags, Leeway, Murphy’s Law, Underdog, Agnostic Front, Killing Time, Sick Of It All, and MP, so you can imagine how happy we were to be recognized with our peers. I mean everyone in the band basically started out as a HC kid so to be part of that was a great thing!
Right now we are wrapping up all loose ends for the record once that’s done we plan on doing a little traveling, were trying to get the band back over to Europe along with some east coast & California dates.
Joe brings the noise with Maximum Penalty, Photo courtesy of: MP
When and where did you first get into hardcore? What are some early memories that still stick out?
I guess like most people at the time coming out of Brooklyn in the mid 80s I went to hardcore shows in the city, clubs like the Lismar lounge, Pyramid, Nightingales & of course CB’s…all of which were your basic shitholes but the energy in the scene back then made all of those shows so memorable that nobody cared.
My first hardcore experience wasn’t at a show but hanging out in the city with friends at Hell Park (a popular hang out in the west village). Somebody had a boom box (radio) and was blasting War Zone. From there was Tompkins Square Park, it was there that I started to notice other freaks from Brooklyn. You know how it goes, you see a flyer you start talking about going to a show, before you know it you hop the train and you’re sneaking in to see something special. At the time you kind of knew something was going on but were more intrigued by the acceptance into something that wasn’t filled with the norm.
This was were I first met Jimmy Williams playing drums for an old HC band called Sarcasm. Later we would run into each other at a Cro Mags show at Lamours in Brooklyn. The memories that stick out for me would probably be going to HC shows out at a place in Brooklyn called the Animal Hall. Small shows but legendary.
Playing with MP at CB’s for the first time opening up for Agnostic Front, being on the “Where Tthe Wild Things Are” comp and heading over to Europe with Agnostic Front for the first time were all great. It’s safe to say that AF has done a lot for MP and for that we’re grateful. Our first time at the Anthrax in Connecticut was incredible, we were asked to play the show with SOIA, we were like “nobody is going to know us” but fuck it was still a great show. It was there that we realized the power of tape trading and the over-all network of the community back then, I mean keep in mind this was way before the internet and every band touring like crazy. The place went bananas from our fist song to SOIA’s last song, it was great!
Jim with Maximum Penalty, Photo courtesy of: MP
How exactly did MP come together, and what were the various changes in the band early on?
Jimmy started MP back in 86’ when he lived down on ALLEN st. with his parents and was already playing drums for Nausea & Sarcasm. He basically had a couple of songs he wrote and was looking for people to do a different kind of band. I was going to High School uptown with my friend Brian who had jammed with Jim and asked me to come down to Giant Studios on 14th to play.
I walk in and it’s Jimmy singing & playing drums, Mildred on bass (one of the first female bass players in HC), myself & Brian. That was the first functioning MP line-up, soon after that we had Mark Libetti join on drums and went in to record a demo and play some shows. Brian had left and we got a friend of ours, Nick Vignapiano from Social Disorder, to replace him. Soon after, Mildred would leave and after a couple of false starts with people, Mark Sisto from Breakdown would join.
In 1990 Jimmy would become a guest of the state of New York and the band would be on hold. In 1993 Jimmy gets out, we reform with everyone and put out “East Side Story” e.p. After that the original drummer leaves which brings Darren Morgenthaler to the fold and we record “Independent” and then “Superlife”. In that process Mark Sisto starts his family and leaves the band so we move forward with Rich from Killing Time on bass, and we toured the US and Europe. We came home to write for a new record and the label folds, and at that time the band members start to do other projects. We go ahead and release the original demo on CD and plan for a new record.
At the present we have Jonathan Buske (ex-Terror) coming in to take over bass duties and Rey Fonseca (ex-Agents Of Man) to join on 2nd guitar.
MP in effect 2009, Photo courtesy of: MP
How long was it before the demo was recorded? What are some memories of recording that and writing those songs?
Jimmy had a couple of songs before me and Brian came in, once Brian and I started to write we pretty much filled in the set quickly. The vibe at the time was such a mix of inspiration. Early hip hop was prevalent on the LES so to be from NY and not be influenced by it was impossible, but you’re talking about MP who had punk, metal, & hardcore kids in it too, so maybe I would write a fast metal part that was fused together with a punk riff with a hip hop beat under it – that was cool to us and became the MP sound.
Some of the writing took place at Giant, Brian’s mom’s & my mom’s house – out of tune, shitty amps…it was great!
We recorded the demo out at Sty in the Sky Studios, which was owned & run by Josh Silver pre-Type O. It was crazy, he ran it out of his house so we would record drums, guitar & vocals down in his basement and mix it up in one of the bedrooms…that was a first. Every time when someone was done tracking he would have to put his 2 huge dogs away so that none of us were eaten, I want to say he had 2 big rotwilers. These fuckin’ dogs were huge and mean. We didn’t care what it sounded like, we thought if we can get this on tape we can put them in Bleeker Bob’s and Some Records so people would know the songs and the lyrics. Other demos were recorded there like Stillborn’s ’87 demo and Sheer Terror’s “Fall From Grace” demo, so it was one of the places to go at the time if Don Fury’s (NYC) or the Loft (Yonkers, NY) was booked.
Monday, August 31, 2009
Best Wishes is a a record that gives rise to a lot of strong opinions. Camps are pretty split on it, but it seems that in more recent years, a younger generation of HC kids has taken a liking to this record that wasn’t as prevalent even ten years ago. What was once “the first metal Cro-Mags record” is now simply described in many circles as “the second Cro-Mags album…which is great.” There’s a definite legacy surrounding it, the legacy just seems to be in a constant state of flux and debate every few years.
One thing that is fair to this album is to simply analyze it without putting it in the shadow of the greatest NYHC record of all time, AKA Age Of Quarrel. John Joseph isn’t here, Mackie’s replaced by Pete Hines, and it’s a different time with 39372028 various internal band beefs having taken place since 1986. Yet at the same time, Best Wishes must in fact be analyzed as the 2nd album from the Cro-Mags, so as to understand the back story and dynamic of the band and their infamy, and to lend a credibility that would not exist if this was just an album from a random band in 1989.
Tying into this is the realization one has to have regarding the origins of these songs and the fact that some were actually written while the Age Of Quarrel version of the Cro-Mags existed. As far as my sources go, it’s not like Harley/Paris/Doug/Pete walked into Normandy Sound in ’89 and said “ok, we need some songs.” I think the groundwork and inspiration for at least some of them could be traced back to 1986, and that is evident in some riffs and structures. Obviously, Crush The Demoniac was written right around the time AOQ was released, but the others have glimmers of a previous era to them at times, even in light of how much may have changed between then and now (no pun intended).
Harley with the Cro-Mags, Photo: Jessica Gorman
But enough with the preliminaries…let’s talk about the album opener, fucking Death Camps. While this isn’t your standard slow mosh intro, I’m putting this EASILY in my top 5 song intros ever. A fade-up of double bass drum triplets and quads, a barbaric crushing open bass line, and then Doug/Paris coming in with blistering chords on and off…it’s pretty much the soundtrack to violently stealing something and then driving extremely fast from the police, and/or using semi-automatic firearms in the jungle, and/or walking into Blood territory in a bright blue velvet jumpsuit that says “Eff Tha Bloods.” I recently learned about how this intro was created by the Mags, and while Harley’s forthcoming book will reveal the story, all I can say is that it showcases the genius of the Cro-Mags.
The fast parts are Priest-like and ripping, a musical backdrop to the most compelling vegetarian lyrics to ever come from a HC band. Youth Of Today inspired thousands of straight edge kids in 1988 to pull a Tom Rock and drop their hamburgers (lost you? Check the No More video), but Death Camps paints such a darker reality for the carnivore listener. I’m not vegetarian, but if you had to pick lyrics from a HC song to make your argument, this is your starkest tune. Harley and friend Doug Crosby penned these lines (as well as many others on the record) and did a hell of a job with the imagery and alliteration.
My favorite part of this song, and of the record, is the face melter Doug Holland lights up in the last fast part before the breakdown that just peels your face off. Then they get to the breakdown, and he stops, almost as if to insinuate, “yeah, I just slayed you, you’re done, mosh yourselves into oblivion…take it away boys.” But then, the mosh part builds, and it’s almost like he just said “ah fuck it, I’ll kill them again” and just hops back in and drops more sick notes and trickery all over the place. One of the best mosh parts ever. No song would better open this album.
Days Of Confusion doesn’t follow up as strongly as I wish it did, but it’s still a shredding ripper that Harley has described as a Discharge-inspired riff fused into Paris-ized metal progression. The Krishna inspired lyrics that remain throughout the album are introduced for the first time here as well. The shortest song on the album at well under three minutes, it’s over before you know it compared to the other 4 minute plus ragers on here. Not that it is under-cooked, but considering some of the more complex arrangements on the album and the never-ending feel of some of the other riffage, the brevity of this has always seemed a little suspect. That said, solid song.
Harley and Parris, Down But Not Out
The Only One has been considered often as the most daring track on the album, described by some as “the ballad.” To me, sans Harley’s vocal melodies and a few of the breaks in the song, it’s just a long mid-tempo mosh seducer that could have been tacked onto Seekers Of The Truth to create the hardest song of all time. Not sure what this is worth, but Glenn Danzig once told Harley this is his favorite Cro-Mags song…which makes me like it that much more. Whether this is interpreted as a severe love song or simply a devotional to Krishna, the lyrics are probably the most direct and Krishna-heavy on the record, and Harley has taken his shots for them over the years. I may be alone in a crowd when saying this is a great song, but when I hear that opening bass line I want to simultaneously chant 16 rounds and take a gigantic chain with me onto the Irving Plaza dancefloor. Not many songs inspire me like that.
Down But Not Out is a straight up slaughter-fest. A Paris riff jumpstarts the song like a razorblade through your throat and while the song feels like it goes a tad long here and there with some slowed down parts that aren’t necessary, it’s ultimately a riff-fest the whole way through with Harley’s bass constantly carrying everything. Oh, Pete Hines. It’s no news this guy was just relentless, and while I’m not a huge double bass fan, he’s just all-time on this album for what these songs are. Mackie is practically irreplaceable, and I think that other than adding a bit of a street feel at times and a little less by-the-books metal flair, Mackie would have played these songs pretty similarly had he been behind the kit.
More good lyrics on DBNO as well. For some reasons, I’ve always loved these lines and how Harley shouts them:
“Can’t make your future or kill your past
With a spike in your arm or a shotgun blast
Till you have the strength to look within
You’ll be fighting a battle you’ll never win”
Any Straight Edge nerd could say those same things and it won’t have the same type of resonance to it as when you hear it from a dude like Harley. Pretty legit stuff. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been bummed on something and someone asks me how I’m doing and the first thing that goes through my head, beceause of this song, is “Down…But Not Out.” Then I want to put on the ’89 tour shirt and dedicate my life to being a thrashing maniac.
That closes out side A. At that point you are taking in a Cro-Mags sound that is clearly different both musically and production-wise from Age Of Quarrel, complete with the huge, reverb-heavy, polished recording and Harley’s vocal crooning and growling replacing the trademark John Joseph sneer. Everyone has an opinion about Harley’s vocals on this and any other time he has sang. Personally, I think they sound pretty cool. Would I have loved to have heard JJ singing this stuff? Yes. But it is what it is, I dig it, and I think stylistically again, JJ wouldn’t have been too far off from this had it been him in the booth at Normandy.
As the needle lifts off the vinyl, it’s evident that this is the 1989 version of The Cro-Mags, and there’s still Side B to listen to… -Gordo DCXX
Harley with the Cro-Mags, Photo: Jessica Gorman
Sunday, August 30, 2009
Sue with the TP crew walking the streets of Philly, 1988, Photo courtesy of: TP
We’ve got the continuation of our extensive interview with Turning Point guitarist, Jay Laughlin coming any day now, but in the meantime, here’s some memories from Sue Cosby (known back in the TP days as Sue Gendler).
For those of you who might be unfamiliar with Sue, not only was she responsible for taking some of the classic Turning Point photos on their first 7″ and later the discography, but she was also co-editor of Inward Monitor fanzine. Sue also use to hang with the TP guys quite a bit back in the day, so we thought we’d check in with her to see what memories she had from those days. -Tim DCXX
Turning Point at Club Pizazz, Philadelphia PA, 1988, Sue in the far right corner snapping off some shots, Photo courtesy of: TP
Those guys were really great. Although my memories of specific moments are fuzzy, I do remember that they were so much fun to hang out with. They weren’t the hard guys trying to intimidate people. They were talented kids who made great music without pushing the attitude. Seriously, you could not hang out with them without pissing your pants from laughing so hard at some point or another. The closest they got to being hard guys was a spoof – the infamous “Pool Hall Justice” stuff memorialized in a photo shoot in front of a pool table that was just freakin’ hysterical.
I’m thinking my most vivid memory is that, as a group, they appeared to have lived for several years off “mexi-melts” from Taco Bell exclusively.
Reporting tip – Remember when people were releasing seven inches as “limited editions”? Well you need to ask them how many numbers 1-10 there were of their first 7″ and see if you can get them to admit the real number 😉 I can tell you … it isn’t 10, but you didn’t hear that from me LOL!
Classic Turning Point photo from Kennet Square, 1988, Photo: Sue Cosby
Thursday, August 27, 2009
New York City Hardcore icon / Murphy’s Law frontman, Jimmy Gestapo has gotten himself into some legal trouble and is looking to the hardcore scene for support. I’m sure you can expect an entertaining Murphy’s Law set, but this is suppose to be Antidote’s last NYC show as well. On top of all that you have Stigma and you know you can’t go wrong with that. Personally I’d be psyched just to watch Vinnie Stigma eat a doughnut and talk about the neighborhood, so I’d imagine the live set is priceless.
Make it out if you can, I know I’m going to try to pull some strings and be there myself. -Tim DCXX
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Dubar Screaming For Change with a young Casey Jones in the background, Photo: Billy Rubin
Billy Rubin hops back on board and drops us some memories to go along with some classic UC pics he provided to us. Glad to have you back Billy! -Gordo DCXX
I grew up on a street with a lot of kids that were sharply divided. In the beginning our division was between dirt biking and skateboarding/surfing. I didn’t realize the true nature of the division at the time, but it was good versus evil. Ya’ see, dirt bikes have motors. If you can move fast without a motor you are experiencing something much more pure and natural. I’m not a pure/natural guy per se but I know the feeling of front side air and can tell you that the sound of a motorcycle is right up there with a leaf blower.
Later on in our teen years the division on the street was between metal and punk rock. This is around 1981-1983. The dirt bike kids liked AC/DC and the skateboarding/surfing kids like the Sex Pistols. The dirt bike kids had to fuck with motors to get an adrenaline rush and us…well we could shred on anything and probably have way more fun. As we all grew up we used to have some pretty serious fights and those fights made the division wider. We started getting deeper into punk rock because we were inspired. We weren’t interested in Hell’s Bells or Stairs to Heaven and we certainly weren’t going to “sit” in an arena to see a long haired rockstar jack off a guitar. We were going to that part of town to be right next to the stage (if there even was a stage) and hear someone sing about something real. It became as much about a movement as it was about music. In fact, music was just the soundtrack to the movement.
Pat Dubar and Uniform Choice with Big Frank and Brad X (Doggy Style) in the background, Photo: Billy Rubin
On Dec 15th of last year I wrote a DCXX post that talks about how I came to know Uniform Choice. Wanting to be a part of something bigger than any one person is the backdrop for how all of that went down. The movement became the Straight Edge movement and in Orange County the soundtrack for the movement was Uniform Choice. Uniform Choice were real people. Their songs were about real things. You could find real examples everywhere, kids you grew up with were experimenting with drugs, the girl that you used to have a crush on was turning towards the dark side and all ya wanted to do was sing “when you’re on the street with a needle in your arm”. My parents certainly didn’t understand, they were too busy trying to make a living. Hell, I didn’t even understand. I just knew I had to do something and that something was go to shows, put out zines, be in a band, etc!
I don’t remember the first or last Uniform Choice show I ever saw because most of them blended together. I do know that if UC was playing ANYWHERE then I was going to be there. When I’d walk up to the place the show would be at I would profile the people waiting in line. If I saw a kid in a UC shirt then I knew he’d be there for me if I got knocked down in the pit. There would always be fights but never amongst the sXe kids. I knew that if a fight broke out during a UC set, they’d stop playing. Dubar was bigger than half the people fighting and Big Frank could handle the other half! We knew the score. We weren’t there to fuck shit up. We were there to make a point. The kids weren’t just alright; they were going to have their say. We were a minor threat! All clichés aside, we were wrapped tight around a common cause!
Dubar’s head on the verge of exploding, Photo: Billy Rubin
After awhile it seemed like I knew everyone at a UC show. Dan, Casey Jones, John Bruce, Gavin, and Mike Murphy would always be there and we’d see guys we knew from all over. When it came time for UC to make a record the same crew was there to do backup vocals. A band’s thank you list gave you instant street cred. The cover of UC’s first record is a painting that Gavin made of an actual live photo. In that photo/painting you can see me and Dan (I’m in the upper left corner and Dan is right in Dubar’s face). That photo was from a show at a shithole cowboy bar (I think it was called the Corn Husker) in a town called Azuza where UC opened for Government Issue and the Dead Milkmen. There were less than 100 people there. When I look back, I had to be the luckiest kid in the world. All the bands I saw in venues as big as a living room!
Another memorable show was UC at the Melody Dance Center in Long Beach. I think they played with Doggy Style and BL’AST! This place was a shithole and it was in a really bad neighborhood right on Long Beach Blvd. If our parents knew where we were going they’d freak out but we had to be there. The Melody Dance Center was super small and it was a true hardcore experience. The separation between the audience and the band was an 18” high platform. The only person running things was Big Frank. It was just a bunch of kids having a good time without getting high. If a fight broke out in a place like that it would be over in a matter of seconds.
When I look back on it, there were really 3 great years from 1984-1987. Salad Days for sure. As time went on, shows got more out of control. People would actually get stabbed or just beaten really violently. The core wasn’t soft but the risk/reward ratio was not in our favor. Many of us moved up-out-on and beyond. The impact that scene made is amazing. I look at the old photos and I see people in the crowd that went on to start bands that influenced millions (Rage Against the Machine). Books and movies have been written to document what was truly a phenomenon. I am lucky to still be in contact with most of the people from back then and I can genuinely say that I am proud of how we all turned out. While the other kids were out doing whatever it is they did, we all learned a code of ethics. We learned that a bunch of kids could accomplish anything if they tried. For many of us it all started at a Uniform Choice show where we learned to channel our energy into something positive. We were fucking punk rock and each of us will always have that edge over the next guy.
Uniform Choice at Melody Dance Center, Long Beach CA, Photo: Billy Rubin
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