Sunday, March 29, 2009
In case you hadn’t heard, a new hardcore photo book called Adult Crash recently popped up out of the DC area. We caught up with Dave Brown, the photographer and editor of the book and thought it might make for an interesting entry here at DCXX if we tossed some questions his way. Here’s part one of this interview, hope you enjoy it as much as we did. -Tim DCXX
Tell us about Adult Crash. When did the idea come together to do this book, what was the idea you most wanted to get across and out of all the photos that you have taken over the years, how did you narrow down what went in the book?
The initial/original Adult Crash idea that started it all took place in January of 2002. Linas Garsys & Tru Pray put together an art/hardcore event at a place called Hi-Fidelity Records in Northern Virginia. Hi-Fidelity was a small record store run by some younger locals that also held some hardcore/punk shows in the back room of the store. The art show did really well, with a variety of local people showing their work, including Jason Powell & others. Linas made some 2-piece prints for the show, and also sold a bunch of his original artwork there. After the success of that show, Linas got the idea to do an artbook of his own, similar to the Hyperstoic books that Pushead has done over the years.
In 2005, just prior to the final PosiFest, Tru suggested I put out a photobook. He had seen a lot of my photos over the years, and was especially a fan of the ones I had taken at the legendary Safari Club in DC. I was apprehensive, since I have never thought I was that good of a photographer… rather just a guy that happened to bring a camera to shows for the fun of documenting what I was seeing. I was also at a loss for what to call my book if I were to do one, since you really need a proper title for a book like this. I spoke with Linas about my ideas, as did Tru, and we were ready to roll.
The initial plan was to have a book of Linas’ killer art from over the years along with my hardcore photos, since we had been going to a lot of the same shows from our earliest days. It just made sense that we could pull it off. I had a couple of ideas of things I wanted in the book, photo-wise, since I had so many unpublished pictures to work with. I also had the idea to include a 7″ of current bands in the book doing covers by older bands in the book. The first band I contacted was Kill Your Idols. I have released a few different releases by them on my label, so they eagerly said they would do it. They chose “The Edge” by Token Entry. To spice it up, they came up with the idea to have Timmy Chunks sing the chorus over the phone like how the Bad Brains “Sacred Love” vocals were recorded over the phone due to HR’s incarceration at the time. It was all lined up, but by the time KYI recorded the song Tim Chunks was nowhere to be found, and ended up not appearing on the song after all. Down To Nothing picked up the idea, and had Taylor from 4 Walls Falling sing on their cover of the 4 Walls song “The Price Of Silence”. The Slumlords got Sab from Gut Instinct to sing on their cover of “Right Wing Hype” too. Damnation AD were going to do a Worlds Collide cover song, since Ken used to be in WC. The song was recorded, but never mixed by the time the record needed to be sent off. My friends in Cloak/Dagger happened to be recording very soon, and quickly pulled off an amazing cover of WarZone’s “Escape From Your Society”, complete with the funny spoken intro too! This was sent off to the plant in September 2008, over 3 years after the initial book idea was started.
Over the 3 years I worked on the book, I uncovered many photos I had totally forgotten about. I also found a chunk of negatives that had been ruined by the bad way I had been storing them over the years. On one hand, I was happy to be remembering all these great shows I had seen while going through piles of my old negatives. But on the other hand, I was really wishing that I had known back then I would be doing a book later – because I would have taken much better care of my negatives. I didn’t have many old prints from the negatives that were ruined, and salvaged what I could from the mess. Luckily the damage was not worse, but it still burned me up to know I lost quite a few cool shows of photos. One of the main things I wanted was to have a lot of Safari Club pictures in the book, since that club is too undocumented for being the important venue that it truly was. Luckily, most of my Safari-era photos survived and were able to be scanned for inclusion.
Insight at the Safari Club, Photo: Dave Brown
By the beginning of 2008, Linas’ interest in my version of the book was thinning, and at that point I just had to continue on it alone. The guy has always been a workaholic with a ton of things on his plate at any given time, and for as much as I wish it could have been worked out – the book didn’t match his vision and he chose to not contribute to it.
During the time I was working on the book, I was also contacting people in some of the bands, as well as people from notable record stores & zines, and even an old show promoter. I wanted to have them all write something about why they are still hear after all of these years. The title of the book (and art show) is from the song Minor Threat by Minor Threat. The lyrics to that song have always meant a lot, and they went well with the question I asked these folks. Out of 35 requests I sent out through various outlets (MySpace, email, and even a couple of snail mail requests), I ended up getting almost every one I hoped for. All of these people were willing to share an old story or reflect for a moment JUST for my book, and it meant a lot to me as each one arrived. Some took months to write theirs, while some were fast as lightning. The fastest by far was Walter from GB. He got my MySpace message about the book and within 5 minutes had responded with the anecdote that is featured in the book. His written piece was just as interesting as the others and even kind of funny, too.
I simply wanted to make a book that looked like a hardcore book that I would pick up if I saw it somewhere…something jam-packed with photos and stories from the people that were there. I think I succeeded. Having Dave Walling from Six Feet Under Records come along at the perfect time to co-fund the costs with me was something I could not have planned better if I had tried. He just let me do my thing how I wanted, and helped make it a reality.
Rich from Sick Of It All at the Safari Club, Photo: Dave Brown
The cover is a great photo of 4 Walls Falling, to me it captures a specific time and place for hardcore. The Fall Brawl, Taylor in a Smorgasbord shirt, Skip Turning Point on top of the crowd singing along, Rob Release, Annie and Tim Axtion Packed on stage, etc. Tell us anything and everything about this photo that comes to mind and why you chose it for the cover of Adult Crash.
I think you really nailed it with your description. It was the most out of control show I had been to at that point. It was my first time at WUST Hall, even though many insane shows had already taken place there without me in attendance. I was used to the old/small 9:30 Club, the high-staged hallway that was the BBQ Iguana, and the aforementioned Safari Club. But WUST Hall was this big hall with a balcony, with a crowd full of maniacs from all sorts of different backgrounds. You had such a big mix: burly skinheads, clean-cut edge people, mohawked punks, drunk metalheads, and many others. It was a lot for my brain to take in all at once, and I am glad I brought my camera. I was lucky enough to be seeing lots of my favorite bands all on one bill for (I think) $12. There had been numerous variations of flyers for this show, with a variety of different bands listed. Some that were listed (but that didn’t play) were Judge, Rest In Pieces, and Underdog. But Token Entry, Release, Outburst, 4 Walls, Gut Instinct, Turning Point, and others DID play, and I caught much of that evening on black & white film.
I chose it for the front cover since it brings back a whirlwind of memories from that Fall Brawl event each time I stare at it. It speaks for itself, and is a great example of what else the reader will see within the pages of the book. I have always liked that photo, and showcasing it on the cover made perfect sense. Taylor was stoked when I told him he was on the cover too – so that was an added bonus.
Alex Pain from Chain at the BBQ Iguana, Photo: Dave Brown
There are a lot of photos in the book that were taken at what I believe to be one of the best clubs ever, the Safari Club in Washington D.C.. Tell us about the Safari Club, some of the best shows you went to there, any particularly interesting memories and or stories.
The Safari Club was located near Chinatown in Washington DC, near the corner of 5th & K Street. At the time it was not a very pretty area at all. It was a seedy drug/violence riddled neighborhood, like many others in the Nations Capital. The Safari Club was not originally known for hardcore music either. It was a place better recognized by the local underground Go-Go music scene. In the 80’s, Go-Go music was totally unknown outside of DC. It was a staple of the black community as much as Ben’s Chili Bowl still is today. It was as much of a party-like atmosphere as the A7 Club on the Lower East Side in NYC was for hardcore in the 80’s. It was not a scene you could just jump into, as the shows were usually held late at night in bad areas like 5th & K Street’s Safari Club. Before cd’s became the norm, the only way you could find a Go-Go release was by finding it on cassette at a local liquor store or flea market in DC. DC’s hardcore and Go-Go scenes have overlapped many times over the years. As far back as Trouble Funk playing with Minor Threat.
The Safari Club started hosting hardcore shows thanks to people like John Galbrath (aka John Cornerstone), as well as the girls that did No Scene Zine: Shawna Kenney & her friend Pam. The Safari Club was run by a older guy named Halliel, though I probably botched the spelling of his name. He knew nothing about hardcore/punk, but saw a chance to fill his club on otherwise empty weekend afternoons for matinee shows there. He was known for being shady, and rarely being honest with the money that came in from those attending. There were always problems with him even showing up on-time to get the club ready. But it was a place for us to go, and since most of us never knew the headaches behind doing shows there – we just kept showing up to see our favorite bands that were being mostly ignored by the more established clubs in the area. The 9:30 Club had been steadily distancing itself from hardcore since its heyday, partly due to the violence, as well as alcohol sales not being very strong at the hardcore shows. You gotta pay the bills, right? So bands like Raw Deal, Judge, Bold, Gorilla Biscuits, Absolution, and others were playing the Safari stage to rabid audiences eager to go nuts on a Saturday afternoon.
A funny story I remember about the first Safari show… Swiz played with Gorilla Biscuits. During the show, Halliel was freaking out because there were all these crazy white teenagers going wild & he didn’t know what to make of it? Supposedly, Shawn Brown from Swiz went to him and calmed him down quickly. Supposedly he was put at ease with Shawn not being one of these crazy white kids explaining it was all just part of the type of music being played. How accurate is that story? Who knows?! But the Safari hosted some of the best bands at the time in that grimey club where the toilet was either broken or cracked off the wall every show.
Here’s another humorous Safari story I was actually a first-hand witness to: there was a crackhouse directly across the street from the entrance to the club. Like a REAL one, with shady dudes hanging out outside at all hours of the day, rain or shine. One day, me and a couple of my friends were standing in line to get into the Safari. We see this chubby hispanic guy walking into the crackhouse, and we all looked at each other at the same time. We went to the same high school together, and it was the security guard from our school going in the crackhouse! When he came out, we just stood there with our jaws hitting the sidewalk…then we burst out in laughter, which was pretty confusing to the other showgoers waiting to get in, but we didn’t care.
That was the late-80’s in DC for you. Nowadays, the block is about to be leveled for a mini-mall, and a Starbucks will soon reside on the plot of land that once was the Safari. Over the years since the Safari closed, there have been attempts to reopen it. It made a brief comeback as ‘The Chamber Of Sound’, but closed again soon after. The Verizon Center sits in the gentrified neighborhood in Chinatown now too, as well as tons of hip bars on blocks that used to be pretty scary 20 years ago. The old 9:30 Club moved from 930 F Street into the renovated WUST Hall. It is much more of a professional rock club now, and the real 9:30 Club was torn down over a decade ago. There are no pictures in my book from the ‘new’ 9:30 Club out of respect to the ‘real’ 9:30 Club for that reason. Also, the ‘new’ one has lots of rules about either no cameras most of the time or the 3-song photo rule which is just lame in itself. I miss that stinky spot on F Street. It had a history that could never be carried to a new place – even if the name is the same.
To be continued…
Matt Pinkus from Judge filling in on bass for Gorilla Biscuits at the Safari Club, Photo: Dave Brown
Thursday, March 26, 2009
FLOORPUNCH – Keep It Clear
Floorpunch – “Keep It Clear” Philadelphia Reunion, 10-28-2007
We’ve been meaning to post these poll results for awhile now, but there’s been a whirlwind of activity here on my end and it’s been tough to keep up and get everything done. I will say, stay locked in to DCXX in the coming weeks, we’ve got a lot of great entries in the works. My California weekend / No For An Answer show wrap up, Revelation Records archive photos and comments, the continuation of the Jay Laughlin / Turning Point, Lars Weiss and Chris McGill interviews, just to name a few.
Oh yeah and by the way, this past Sunday, March 22nd 2009, DCXX hit the one year mark. With 320 entries under our belt, I would have liked to made a more significant entry out of the anniversary, but like I said, we’ve just been too busy and this train keeps rolling. So enjoy the Floorpunch video (although my vote went along with the majority vote, this video seems to prove otherwise with the climbing on heads comment) and we’ll see you back here on Monday. -Tim DCXX
Still into it and keeping up, but not climbing on heads every weekend like I used to. – 228
I don’t know, it seems kinda beat. I’ll hit a show or check something out, but it’s not like it used to be. – 137
Dude, hardcore is better today than ever. Ceremony, Have Heart, Mind Eraser… shit is the bomb. – 60
Hardcore died YEARS ago man. Does it honestly still exist? – 34
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
There have been times over the years where I am absolutely convinced that JUDGE is the greatest band to have ever walked the earth. They are the perfect combination of everything I love in hard music and specifically, hardcore. And on every level, I “get it.” Because of this personal infatuation, I don’t really think of JUDGE in the same way I think of many other great hardcore bands. In some respects, JUDGE really is almost like a unit I use to compare other music to. This isn’t really an original notion of mine, in fact, Brett Beach’s signature on the Livewire message board used to say something to the effect of “compared to JUDGE it’s shit.” I don’t know the premise of that statement, I’m sure it somehow involves football and a lot of fried food and some other type of injoking discussion amongst his crew of friends, but the bottom line is that there is a lot of good music, that honestly, compared to JUDGE, is really just shit. If a record doesn’t make me at least stop paying attention to the opening bass line of “Where It Went,” then it’s never gonna do much for me.
An argument could be made by naysayers that a lot of the late 80s SE Revelation scene type of bands were watered down, little kid, copy cat versions of YOT, who in their own right were self-admittedly really doing their best act of homage to the early greats – DYS, Negative Approach, and Antidote. I also think that for “hardcore,” a lot of the SE variety of bands (most of whom I do in fact absolutely love) popping up by 1988 could fall into the critic’s stereotype of soft, safe, suburban boys going through the adolescent motions of the times. And therein lies the absolute power of JUDGE. JUDGE cannot be categorized as such. Let’s break it down (cue BL’AST! riff):
Mike Judge, if it isn’t already apparent to you, is probably one of the “harder” dudes to have ever been involved in the straight edge scene (maybe that isn’t saying a ton, but what I’m getting at is: the guy wasn’t a pussy). Sure there is a lot of legend and folklore, but whether it is truth or fiction, he will forever be the ultimate in “hard” to every straight edge kid. Let’s be honest, the SE scene has never been known for physically intimidating city types. In that sense, Mike Judge represents the anger any SE nerd can feel, but he makes it a legitimate and intimidating thing in his lyrics, his vocals, physical presence and his folklore-fueled mystique. When all of us have been picked on for being straight edge and a little different, we can always go listen to “Fed Up” and say to ourselves, “yeah, they wouldn’t fuck with me if Mike was there, yeah, that’s right.” Hardcore loves “characters,” and within the SE scene, Mike Judge is in many ways like our protector. He was a dude that was involved with the early 80s NYC scene (though I’m sure someone will even debate that one), and wasn’t just a fly by night dork that got loud on a microphone. He was…legitimate.
Lars and Matt with Judge at City Gardens, Photo: Ken Salerno
The early period of JUDGE (1988/EP era) seems so cool – the Skiz 2 semi-secret project record, full on SE fury, hooded reverse weave Champions, chains around waists, messenger bags, and big X’s on hands. Then the band transitioned by 1989 to a full blown Rev outfit and morphed into what is seen and heard on Bringin’ It Down: a much bigger, fuller metallic sound with more dynamic song structure, and Mike even moving past the blunt anger of the EP and sheding his skin to expose more than just rage (as well as trading in JUDGE shirts and a shaved head for facial hair and abundant flannel). Regardless, I can’t ever pick which era I like more – both are untouchable.
But then there is that final EP, a post-humous goodbye that goes out on a dark, brooding, heavy note – literally the record ends and “the storm” is over. But it’s never really referred to as a high note or a favorite release. Now I’m not sure I can say it’s my favorite JUDGE release, but to me, it’s right there with everything else. I love it. It’s only two songs (one completely new) but it just seems fitting and leaves me wanting more. It doesn’t move in any strange direction, it just continues in a natural progression of power. While I hate to dabble again with another ’89-’91 era Revelation release for this column, I simply can’t resist with this EP.
“Forget This Time” is a long (like awesomely long) mid-tempo powerdriver of a song that simply sounds like it was recorded to serve as the music in the opening credits of a movie that starts out with a dude who was recently released from prison opening the small garage door of his Hell’s Kitchen apartment around 11:30 at night, kick starting his rigid ’74 shovelhead, and blasting the fuck down a small alley and into the NYC night, usually riding with only his right hand on the bars (using his left to jockey shift), exploding out of the city through tunnels and bridges into northern NJ via route 80. The music plays as we watch him ride, he sees signs and landmarks that remind him of growing up in and around NYC and northern NJ, and interspersed with him riding are flashback clips of his youth, lost love, and some really violent brawls. I’m not sure where he is riding too, I haven’t gotten that far with the script, but the first 3 minutes of it are fantastic. I think eventually he just meets up with an old friend in Lodi and they go to a Moose Lodge and play darts as Neil Young’s Harvest LP plays on the jukebox.
I would have loved to have heard a full LPs worth of songs in this style. I’m not really sure what they were going for with this tune, it’s kinda like Master Of Puppets on 33rpm mixed with a sanitized version of Motorhead…or something. I don’t know. But the recording KILLS. Shit is so heavy – Sammy is absolutely flawless, his drums boom like canons, his double bass usage is selective and appropriate, it might be the best drum sound I’ve heard from Fury, and it really is just Sammy at his peak in JUDGE. Lars and Porcelly trade crunches and the guitar work never gets controversial in the way you may expect from a big-but-potentially-turning-metallic SE band in 1990. Porcell pulls out a great bender/melter towards the end that fits perfect.
Judge at the Anthrax with Ryan Hoffman on 2nd guitar, Photo: The Storm EP
Mike’s lyrics obviously tie in with the movie script above. I won’t go into the story I have been told by inside sources regarding the inspiration for the lyrics, but I’ve always loved what he wrote and the open-endedness of creating my own interpretation anyways. The mix of imagery involving midnight, mental confusion, dawn, solitude, and alienation creates an overall vibe of straight up darkness that is heavier than anything JUDGE presented up until then. Basically, it sounds like a dude that is in a really bad place. On the upside, it made for a fucking hell of a song. It’s worth noting that I was just talking to Sammy about this record for this piece and he reiterated his love for “Forget This Time,” something I’ve also heard Porcell say. That may not sound like anything special, but considering how many dudes will clown on their own stuff from years prior, I think this is cool.
The B side is “The Storm II”. Some call this a cop out and a basic re-do of “The Storm” from Bringin’ It Down, but I think this is an improved version and such an appropriate song here as the closer. I always thought the little perhaps-Black-Flag-inspired “II” nod was cool as well. It starts out with exactly what you think it should start with: the sound Harleys. I always wondered if this was a clip they got from somewhere else (by “they” I mean Mike), but a couple years ago I heard it was in fact Mike and Todd outside Fury’s ripping up and down the street on their own bikes, and this was confirmed by Lars in our recent interview with him. The Storm was JUDGE’s anti-racism anthem, initially on Bringin’ It Down with samples from the ’88 flick “Colors,” and it kicks off with a classic intro drum beat basically stolen from Impact Unit’s “Night Stalker” that has now been used countless times by young coreman drummers around the world during soundchecks and cover song fake-outs. It’s heavy as hell and would be a great soundtrack to curbing someone if you ever had to do it.
“The Storm” was originally conceived as just an intro (see various JUDGE live sets and the WNYU set circa early late ’88), so to see it come fully alive as “The Storm II” is pretty cool. The updated version really shows the band being even tighter and more explosive, the pace of the song is like a tank just rolling over an entire opposing army. There also is a calm chilled out part with a creepy Pincus finger played bass line towards the end with Mike now grumbling “the streets are all the same, but the faces are new…the names have all changed, but the problem it still grew”. Heavy stuff. This again is more proof that whether or not Mike was at the end of his rope, this record sure makes it sound like he was a guy that had lost pretty much all hope in the world. The song fades out, and you are unsure if you will ever leave your bedroom again.
Mike gives the City Gardens crowd some mic action, Photo: Ken Salerno
That’s the EP. Of course, the cassette and cd included the bonus track of “When The Levee Breaks.” I don’t even feel the need to point out who made this song famous in rock, although it’s worth noting that even Led Zeppelin (oops, I told you) was doing a cover of an old blues song when they played it. I’ve heard people diss this song selection and JUDGE’s attempt at it. I will say this: I love Led Zeppelin, John Bonham is my favorite drummer of all time, and Led Zeppelin IV is one of the best rock albums with the best recordings ever. For the JUDGE guys to even attempt to dabble with it was a very ballsy move. All things considered, it isn’t bad. Taking it for what it is, it’s kinda cool. Sammy actually pulls off Bonham convincingly, it’s more the guitars that give a weird pre-Nu Metal vibe to things. And Mike’s vocals…well, hey, at least he was into it.
I always got the impression these dudes probably started jamming this for fun and realized Todd (roadie) could play the harmonica parts so they thought they’d record it. Although it never dawned on me right away early on, the song lyrically fits in with the entire record and JUDGE imagery. It’s about a levee breaking from a storm (Bonham’s unbelievably classic beat on the Zeppelin version was supposed to represent the pounding storm) – get it? Not sure that’s why they wanted to cover it, but it’s an interesting connection. If this is the worst thing JUDGE has ever done, it really isn’t that bad at all. Hell, I still listen to it and dig it.
Finally, the entire package of the EP is minimalistic JUDGE – nice and neat. The big bold JUDGE logo, lightening cover, “after the storm” calm back cover, and the live pic on the pull out lyric sheet – a photo of JUDGE strangely enough from one of their few shows with Ryan Hoffman on guitar – is all good. I always thought that even though Mike looks fucking bad as hell in this shot, it was a strange one to choose. For starters, it’s not a great Anthrax crowd shot – the crowd almost looks a tad thin and some dude is doing an MTV inspired flop dive off the stage. Considering how many insane photos there are in existence of the band, I wonder why they chose this one. It is interesting though, because Mike looks like an absolute punisher in this picture. He literally looks like an offseason bodybuilder bouncing in Long Island, as compared to just a basic large man as evidenced in, well, every other JUDGE photo in existence. Flip it over to the lyric side, and the heat lightening photo with Mike tells the tale of a band who spent a lot of time on the road in that last stretch, and ultimately got worn down by the elements. It also makes perhaps the most compelling argument for why dog tags, a fanny pack, tapered jeans, and Chukka Boots is a flawless and deadly combination of sexually-charged men’s attire. But overall, for some reason, this photo is just so cool and “deep” in an understated way, and it gives just the perfect touch of finality.
It’s tough to predict how things would have worked for JUDGE had they stayed together somehow for another year. It’s such a “what could have been” type of question. If this record is any indicator, I think everyone would have been in for one hell of a second LP had it come to fruition.
Before I wrap this up, I feel that I must tell a story that has always been a personal favorite. Ed McKirdy went to college in Boston in 1991 and was pals with Chris Patterson, who would later play in Ten Yard Fight. The tale goes that at some point, this record came up in conversation, and Chris said through a thick Boston accent, “yah dood I like Judge dood but thaat record sahcks dude.” Without hesitation, Ed asked him what he just said, and Chris repeated the same. Enraged, Ed threw him up against a wall and got in his face, shocked that someone could say such a thing. They smoothed things over, but that right there is probably one of 732168 reasons Ed is more like a brother than a friend and why I would easily take a bullet for him.
Taking this final dose for all it’s worth, I think this is a band that truly went out on their own terms, at the very top of their game. RESPECT. -Gordo DCXX
There will be quiet… after the storm
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
McGill with Vision at CBGB, NYC, Photo: Ken Salerno
Here’s the continuation of our interview with former Vision bassist, Chris McGill. -Tim DCXX
When did you start playing bass? When did you meet up with the rest of the Vision guys and how did you end up in the band?
My desire to play bass stems from my favorite bass player, John Entwistle of the Who. He was Phenomenal! For the longest time I wanted to play but never had the opportunity.
It was about 1 year prior to joining Vision and I was singing in my band Sinn Fein but wanted to play bass instead. I was coming to grips with the fact that I sucked at singing. I sang in 2 other bands, but it never seemed to get better. It’s a shame because I enjoyed fronting the band. One day, back in September 1987, I ran into Dave Franklin in the streets of Somerville (sounds scary, huh?) and we started chatting about our bands. He told me the other 3 guys in Vision left. I told him that Sinn Fein was idle. He asked me if I wanted to play bass. He already spoke with Pete Tabbot and Derek Rinaldi and they were on board. I didn’t know either one of them at the time but that didn’t bother me. So we agreed I would be over to give it a try.
So we started practicing and it all seemed to work until December rolled around, and Derek had to bail because of skateboarding commitments. I think we even played a show/practice in the basement of Dave’s house before he left the band. He went Pro on us. So someone, probably Dave, found Matt Riga. I sort of knew Matt from school. I think I played soccer with his cousin. Dave, Matt, and I all went to the same High School, but at different times. We had 3 weeks to practice with him to play Scott Hall and City Gardens. We practiced hard and pulled it together. We played them and we thought they were both great shows, and the rest is history. We worked hard for the years I played with them. We played as much as possible, and we wrote as much as we could. I was there from 1987-1993. We recorded the “Undiscovered” 7”, “In the Blink of an Eye”, and “Just Short of Living”.
McGill with Vision at Scott Hall, Rutgers, Photo: Ted Liscinski
Favorite Vision memories, best shows?
It was the night before a tour and we were at Dave’s house packing the Van and getting everything ready. We were on the front porch and we noticed fire come out of Pete’s classic Monte Carlo. We called the fire department and they came and destroyed the car with sledgehammers and crowbars. They were trying to get in the trunk. Poor Pete was trying to hand them the keys so they could just pop the trunk. They wouldn’t listen to him. That memory stays with me, thanks Pete!
We played a great show in Miami and it was one of my favorites. We had never been there, or even close to there before. It was in 1993 and we were on tour with Dandelion. The crowd was insane and I remember calls for songs off the first 7” that was out before our “Undiscovered” 7”. Well we played a couple of those tunes with the understanding that we had not played them since 1988…they didn’t seem to care! They ate it up.
Buffalo, NY was one of my favorite cities to play. It was always fun and we usually had a good crowd there. I can’t remember the name of the club or the guy that ran those shows. We were inside the club and the show had started. We were headlining so we had time on our hands. We noticed a few guys with long hair, mustaches, and flannel shirts that were a bit older. Confused the hell out of us. Finally we went over to talk to them to find out which band they were there to see. They were there to see Vision. Apparently there was an article in the newspaper about the surviving drummer from Lynard Skynard and his new band Vision. And the article listed our show. We gave them the bad news and they were good sports about it. They even stuck around to see us play. Pete played them the riff to Sweet Home Alabama.
Do I need to mention the Vision, Sheer Terror, and Murphy’s Law show in Allentown, PA? If you have not heard about this show, look it up. Reference the Sheer Terror DVD.
East Meets West – Vision / Killing Time / Sick of it All / Carry Nation / Point Blank / Chorus of Disapproval. This show was awesome and probably my favorite. That was our first trip west. We had a lot of fun together. Vision, SOIA and Killing Time all flew out together and pretty much stayed together at the Cockatoo Inn 1 block from Compton, complete with barred windows and barbed wire. That was a great show, a great concept around the show and eventually, the 7”. It was really more than a show. Like I said, the show itself was awesome and probably my favorite. Afterwards we had a big after party with the bands and photo shoots. It was all good and didn’t last long enough.
Trivia: what members from the NYC bands were afraid to fly?
Vision at Scott Hall, Rutgers, In The Blink Of An Eye cover shot show, Photo: Ken Salerno
Any memories regarding any of the recording sessions (the first two 7″s, “In The Blink Of An Eye”, …etc?)
The first 7” was with the old members from Neurotic Impulse. Undiscovered was the first 7” with what was to be the line-up. It was fairly new to all of us, so it was a learning experience. I think the Undiscovered recording came out very good for time and budget. We did learn enough the first time around to know what we wanted when we went back to record “In the Blink of an Eye”. It was a great experience and the one thing we wanted to do is was to capture the live effect: only do in the recording studio what you could do on stage, and nothing will be lost live. It worked well for us..
By the late 80’s, who were some of your favorite hardcore bands both locally in NJ and elsewhere?
Verbal Assault was one of my favorite bands because I thought the “Trial” album was great. To this day, it has to be one of my top 5 albums. SNFU was one of my favorite bands because of the talent, the dedication, and pure energy they presented. The touring was non-stop and the shows were NEVER a disappointment. We spent a little time on the road with them and they were the nicest guys you could meet. (I would like to say hello to Mr. Pig. I miss you brother) There were a bunch of great bands in that time period, too many to mention. But I do remember there were so many that almost every show had a few bands where any one of them could have headlined. Times were good.
McGill aka Ivo hitting the dance floor at City Gardens, Photo: Ken Salerno
Thursday, March 19, 2009
Turning Point drummer Ken Flavell’s first band, Failsafe. Photo courtesy of: Nick Grief
I remember way back in 1988 when I was working on my first fanzine, Slew (yeah I know, goofy freakin’ name!) and had just gotten the Turning Point demo. Right off the bat I knew I wanted to interview them. Somehow or another I tracked down Jay’s phone number and gave him a call to see if he was interested. To my surprise, Jay was down, so I quickly set up a tape recorded with a phone from the other room lying on top of it and ran back into my room to use my phone and do the actual interview. Keep in mind I was was 14 years old and had no experience with doing interviews so I sorta just nervously winged it. I’d have to go back and look at a copy of the zine, but I’m pretty sure the interview was full of the standard interview questions of the day, “Are you straight edge?”, “If you were lost on a desert island what 5 records would you want with you?”, “Do you skate?”… you know the deal. Anyway, when I finished the interview and hung up the phone, I ran over to the other room to check the tape recorded. To my major dissapointment, the tape had never been taken off of hold. I had just done this half hour interview with the guitarist of Turning Point and the tape was left on hold the entire time! What an idiot I felt like. I ended up writing everything down from memory and printing the interview that way, but damn did I feel stupid.
Jump ahead a year later and I was teaming up with my friend Tony to do and new fanzine called Common Sense. By this time Turning Point were quickly becoming a household name in the hardcore scene. Us coming from New Jersey and Turning Point coming from New Jersey, combined with our love for the Turning Point demo, we knew we wanted to get an interview with them for our first issue. I remember doing the interview over the phone at Tony’s parents house. By this time Tony had some suction cup recorder thingy that you could hook up to the phone and get a decent recorded phone conversation, so there was no more lying the phone on top of a tape recorder and crossing your fingers that the volume would be loud enough. We also double checked the recorder and made sure it was actually recording this time. I think most of the band were there on the other line for the interview. I remember them and us getting into some conversation about the movie, The Naked Gun. Those guys loved that movie, as did Tony and I, so we got a real kick out of that. I also remember them talking about their favorite records and YOT’s “Break Down The Walls”, Cro-Mags “Age Of Quarrel” and DYS “Brotherhood” getting mentioned. That was definitely a fun and memorable interview to do.
Now twenty years later, here we are interviewing Jay one last time. Obviosuly a lot has happened in these twenty years. Turning Point has come and gone, people have changed, some of the members aren’t even with us anymore, but one thing is still certain, that demo is just as great today as it was twenty years ago. Aside from that Turning Point went on to release a slew of incredible recordings and eventually, one of the best hardcore discographys to date on Jade Tree Records. Like Gordo and I have done with Jimmy Yu from Judge and Djinji from Absolution, we really intended to do a very thorough and all encompassing interview with Jay on Turning Point. Last Saturday, March 14th, Gordo and I met Jay at his practice space in Philadephia. We sat down and dove in deep. What you’ll read here is part one of what will definitely be a multiple entry interview. We’re also working on getting input from other members and friends of the band to make this an even more comprehensive entry. So if you’re reading this and you were hanging around Turning Point in their hey day, get in touch, we want you to be apart of this. Thanks and I hope the readers enjoy this as much as I know we enjoyed doing it. Also big thanks to Jay for sacrificing a Saturday afternoon to answer our questions, no doubt we appreciated it. -Tim DCXX
Jay Laughlin drumming with Pointless at a South Jersey ramp jam, Photo courtesy of: Nick Grief
When I was about 13 or 14, my older brother Chris got a drumset and was into Kiss, and I also got really into KISS around the time of the Dynasty tour. I started playing his drum set a lot more. I was also getting more into metal, since dudes his age were into Slayer. I ended up starting to play with this metal band called Strychnine, and those guys were older than me. Then this kid ended up moving in next door to us, and he showed me a lot of punk, like Dead Kennedys, DOA, etc. That was my start, which would have been around 1985 – I was in 7th grade. I was skating too, so that tied into it. But that kid turned me and Skippy onto it.
Skip and I were best friends, we had been best friends since kindergarten. We both grew up in Moorestown, New Jersey. On the first day of kindergarten I was wearing a KISS shirt. I didn’t even know what KISS was at the time, I thought they were monsters, it just seemed cool because my older brother was into it. And Skip walked up to me and said, “do you like KISS?” And I said, you know, something like, “fuck yeah man!” Actually, I think it would have been more like “jee golly yes I do!” And after that we were best friends.
Skip on bass for Pointless at the ramp jam, Photo courtesy of: Nick Grief
My first hardcore show was 7 Seconds at City Gardens on the Walk Together tour, Verbal Assault also played, and me and Skippy went with some other people. Back then you had to be 16 to get in, and neither of us were. So we had to lie about our ages, and we were nervous. We were standing there memorizing what date to say so we could get in. I went first and told them the date and I got in. Then it was Skip’s turn, but he got nervous and told them his real date, so they didn’t let him in. So we’re like what the fuck, what are we gonna do? But this girl we were with knew a bouncer, so we got in, and even then it took a lot of convincing.
When we got in we stood next to the soundboard and the place was packed, we were so scared. Everyone seemed gigantic, there were crazy people, skinheads, mowhawks and everything, it was intense. We were just frozen standing there. We had to go to the bathroom really bad and we didn’t even wanna move. It was like, “man I gotta go. You still gotta go? Maybe we should go. I don’t know, we better not go. You gotta go?” We were so afraid. Finally we just went. Everyone was cool, but we didnt know it. I think halfway through 7 Seconds’ set we were like “fuck, we’re going up front.” And we did.
Even though Strychnine was my first band and I played with them, I was also dabbling with guitar a lot, during breaks at practice and stuff. Then Skip and I started talking about doing something, since we were both getting into punk and hardcore more and more. So I said “let’s start a band!” I taught him how to play bass and then I taught this dude Ed to play guitar, and figured I would play drums. At first we would just goof around and play the intro to “We Gotta Know” or whatever. But we kept playing and this would end up being the band Pointless. The guy I took drum lessons from had a set up in his house to record, so we would go there to do stuff.
Ken on drums for Failsafe with Jay in the background, Photo courtesy of: Nick Grief
We were young, but we were playing out. Our first real show was at Club Pizazz in Philly sometime in 1987 with Government Issue. It sounds like it should have been a cool show, except the same night at City Gardens was DRI and GBH, so there weren’t many people at Pizazz. But it was still cool, even if it wasn’t so packed. Overall though, Pointless didn’t play too much, I guess kinda due to a mix of things.
We did two Pointless demos. The first one is with Skip singing, the second is with Lee singing. Skip could play bass and sing, but not at the same time. We never played with him singing though, his first time singing in a band on stage was Turning Point.
By 1987 we were totally into hardcore, like full on. We met the guys from Failsafe by them playing with Pointless. We just got friendly through playing, so we knew their drummer Ken, who lived in Tabernacle. From dabbling with guitar more and more, I decided that’s what I wanted to play. So me and Skip talked to Ken about doing something. And we also had met Nick through a friend of a friend, he lived in Vincentown and played bass. We all had the same ideas and focus, and we were all on the same page. We decided to get together and do a band – which was Turning Point.
Jay, Skip and Lee with Pointless, Photo courtesy of: Nick Grief
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Here’s the link www.newbreedtapecomp.com. – Freddy Alva
Hey DCXX readers, I wanted to take a minute and plug the website I’ve just set up for the New Breed tape, a compilation of 20 NYHC bands that I did with my good friend Chaka Malik, 20 years ago. This is a place where you can download the tape and booklet at no charge. There will also be a “Where are they now” Updates page, a flyer/photo/stickers gallery and recollections plus later on maybe Video and Live/Demo links. It’s all still a work in progress so I appreciate any ideas or suggestions for the site. If any band members are reading this, please get in touch so that we can update your info. If any one has any problems downloading it, let us know and please sign the guestbook! Thanks for reading and the support,
Porcell dives during Breakdown at CBGB, Photo: Ken Salerno
Here’s the link www.newbreedtapecomp.com.
– Freddy Alva
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Chris McGill with Vision at CBGB, Photo: Ken Salerno
If there’s any band that is synonymous with New Jersey Hardcore, it’s Vision. On Saturday April 4th at the Court Tavern in New Brunswick, New Jersey, Vision will be celebrating the 20th anniversary of their classic, “In The Blink Of An Eye” LP. To go along with the celebration, original bassist and NJHC veteran, Chris McGill will be handling bass duties. We caught up with McGill to talk a little history. This is part one of a multiple entry interview that is sure to please the Jersey die hards. -Tim DCXX
How and when did you discover punk / hardcore? What are some of your earliest show memories?
I was born in Long Island, NY in 1965, but grew up in NJ. Most of the music I listened to growing up was from my parents. My father was a musician and was mostly into jazz, and rhythm and blues. He played the saxophone, but unfortunately stopped playing when he had us kids. I had 5 brothers and it was pretty busy around the house so I guess mom turned the screws on him. I still have his circa 1935 SG Conn “Naked Lady” Sax and it’s a classic. He loved music and did not mind playing albums by musicians like Stan Getz, Roland Alphonso, Tommy McCook, Chuck Mangione, and countless others. I enjoyed the sound of jazz and ska. At the time I did not realize that when all of my musical transformations would be complete, it is the early ska sound that remains my favorite to this day. Listening to this music eventually got me listening to bands like Madness, English Beat and The Specials, which crossed over to listening to bands like The Clash, The Stranglers, Generation X, and the Angelic Upstarts. I am not sure where it all came from, but it just happened that way.
I had friends who introduced me to some bands, and other bands I heard on college radio. It was in 1980 when I went to see my first punk show. I managed to squeeze a ride out of my neighbor to see the Clash at the Capitol Theater in Passaic, NJ. It was a phenomenal show and I remember it like yesterday. That show was huge for me, but at the time it seemed like no big deal. It did however change everything as far as what music should be about. At the end of 1980 my father died and I started to go through a change in attitude. I was pissed off and bitter, and was lashing out.
In 1981 I started listening to bands like Black Flag, The Minutemen, Circle Jerks and The Dead Kennedys, the usual suspects. I remember blasting “Holiday in Cambodia” in my basement and thinking “this is dark, just like my mood”. I craved the energy and the anger of these bands and I wanted more. So eventually I was listening to all the California bands and then the NY bands followed.
In was 1983 when I started going to shows on a regular basis. We were taking the train into the city on a regular basis to different venues like the Ritz and CBGB’s, or going to shows in New Brunswick at a place called Patrix. I remember seeing Kraut and Bedlam there. North Jersey had a place called the Showplace.
One of my favorite shows was in DC on New Year’s Eve to see Reagan Youth, Black Market Baby, Scream, and a few others at a movie theater. It was a rather strange venue. Probably 1984. It was packed and the insanity of everyone slam dancing on top of theater seats was a sight to behold. All the bands were great and it was a long weekend of walking around the city, meeting other punks and mixing it up with some college pukes. I remember someone was killed outside the show. He was walking across the street and a car ran him over. The same thing happened to a friend of mine at CBGB’s a few years later.
McGill mixing it up on the City Gardens dance floor, Photo: Ken Salerno
Who were some of your favorite punk / HC bands early on and why?
If I had to throw one out there, it would be the Stiff Little Fingers. I think they have influenced me the most, from the music to imagery. In Sinn Fein we had a song called Nobody’s Heroes and of course there is the album cover design for “In the Blink of an Eye”. Even my new band Slowburn has the flammable materials flame in the “O” of the logo. Their Inflammable Materials album was all about Northern Ireland and the troubles. I could relate. My family was tied into the troubles and the Fingers meant everything to me at the time.
I remember watching a show on television called Night Flight. Night Flight was a variety show on the USA Network. An eclectic mix of short films, cartoons, B movies, stand-up comedy, documentaries, music videos and more. It was on late at night and they showed videos of bands. One night when I was watching, a video comes on by SLF. That was the first time I ever heard them and I nearly shit myself. They played Alternative Ulster and I was blown away. I never looked back.
A note of disappointment: I contacted Jake Burns a few years back about taking his Roaring Boys tune and transposing it for bagpipes. I was going to incorporate it into a competition set our pipe band does. I asked him about the chord arrangement and he was a prick about it, but I don’t think I expected anything less. Despite Jake, I managed to do it, but I would not put it in our set.
Tell us about the early City Gardens days, The Family (who and what it was) and where the nickname “Ivo” came from?
City Gardens was our answer to CBGB’s as far as a place to call home. We loved CB’s, but this was more convenient, it was New Jersey, and the bands that came through were becoming the same and just as frequent. I wish I had kept track of all the bands I have seen, and most of them would have been at City Gardens. It was also a bigger venue and there was a parking lot to hang out in. I can’t remember the year they started shows there, but it was either 1984 or 1985. We forged friendships in the parking lot at our tailgate parties, and that was the beginning of The Family. There were no colors, no letters, no patches, no hand signs, and no initiations. There was a trust that was tested and proven at any given show, or anytime a friend was in need.
When I joined Vision that was the end of the Family for me. Some of the guys were pissed that I joined a straight edge band and were critical. To me, it did not matter because I was on the wrong track. I needespan style=”font-family: arial; font-weight: bold; font-style: italic;”br /d to straighten my shit out or I would end up on the wrong side of the mud, just like a few of them did. It is actually why I wrote “In the Blink of an Eye”. It’s never too late to change and it’s not difficult if you want to.
Where did Ivo come from? Funny, I had that name prior to the chaos and controversy. Everyone needed a nickname, and it always provided a great escape. The name comes from Saint Ivo of Kermartin, the patron Saint of Abandon children, among other things. I learned about Saint Ivo through my religious upbringing, and always liked the name and his cause. You have to love a guy who resisted the unjust taxation of the king. In those days, it seemed like everyone had a nickname. So I don’t know if it was just a form of rebelling against your parents, or because musicians in your favorite bands had them, or if you just didn’t like your given name. For me, I wanted to be a musician and it made sense at the time. Later I would be given the nickname “Pit-bull Attack”. It’s odd, but Lou Koller gave it to me. I wonder why? Hmmmm. Maybe Lou could answer that.
To be continued…
Old style Vision in their practice space, Photo: Ken Salerno
Sunday, March 15, 2009
Haywire – Abominations
When Billy Rubin first contacted me and offered to contribute to DCXX, one piece I was particularly looking forward to was the back story on Haywire. From the first time I dropped the needle to Haywire’s “Private Hell” LP, I was sold. Seriously great band and way underrated. If you haven’t heard them before or haven’t listened to them in a while, do yourself a favor and get your hands on the “Private Hell” LP, damn solid record all the way through. As for Haywire’s second LP, “Abominations”, I’ve only seen one in my life and that was at least 15 years ago. If anyone has the entire album and would like to share, get in touch. Now’s the time I turn it over to Billy. Enjoy. -Tim DCXX
By the time Half Off broke up, the Southern California hardcore scene had matured. New bands seemed to be coming out of nowhere. Many of these new bands were started by people who had been in the audience at shows we had played. I wasn’t doing anything at the time and really doubted I’d ever be in a band again. I had gone from wanting to be in a band because I thought that what I said mattered to being absolutely convinced that anything I said was boring and stale. I did not have the enthusiasm that the up and comers had.
As in many scenes, the talent pool is very incestuous and bands share many members. Vadim had become a talented and reliable drummer who was in demand for upstart bands in need of a drummer. My memory is flawed in regard to the timing, but over the years Vadim played drums in several bands including Hard Stance, Inside Out, 411 and also jammed with John Bruce and Rick Greeno in what turned out to be Haywire. It was through Vadim that I ended up in Haywire.
Vadim with Haywire, Photo courtesy of: Billy Rubin
I was curious what these guys were up to. John had always spoken highly of Rick (they worked together) and I knew that he was a talented musician. After several months I was invited to check them out at practice. They could probably tell I was jonesing to scream again and I was invited to be the singer. The way I remember it is that we were just going to practice and nothing was going to come of it. I was totally impressed with what these guys were doing. John and Vadim had risen a few levels in talent by playing with Rick. The first song I heard them play was the music to what turned out to be “So Good.” As I sat there listening to those first (Haywire) songs I felt my adrenaline building up. It was a blank canvas and I was genuinely inspired.
Rick Greeno was not a resident of the hardcore scene. He had been around for many years and played with many bands but he didn’t run in our circles. Rick was more than just a great guitar player. He was the kind of musician that could reproduce anything I could hum. At band practice we’d play a game that was kind of like name that tune or maybe a better way to describe it is “play that tune.” I’d throw out the name of a band to see if Rick knew it and if he did, he’d play one of their songs. It went like this…Black Flag? OK! Iggy Pop? Sure. Led Zeppelin? Why not?! The Pixies? Absolutely! How about Black Sabbath? Yeah! You get the picture. It was the perfect band.
As I began to integrate into Haywire (which still didn’t have a name) I was absolutely determined not to get wrapped up in the hardcore scene. I made it a point not to write lyrics about trivial rivalries or microscopic issues. I had a lot of respect for what they were doing and didn’t want to taint it. The guys in the band really didn’t seem to pay too much attention to what I was singing, we were just having fun. One thing led to another and in almost no time we had a set and had booked our first show. That first show turned out to be a gig opening for the OFFSPRING at a little bar (in Whittier, I think). There were maybe 50 people there – tops.
Haywire at the Country Club, Photo courtesy of: Billy Rubin
I’m not quite sure how it happened so fast, but we ended up in the studio recording the “Private Hell” Lp. The first song I put a vocal track to was “So Good.” These guys had never read the lyrics I wrote and couldn’t really hear me through the crappy PA at the practice pad. When I came out of the little vocal box/room after making those crazy screams in the chorus of “So Good” they were looking at me like I was some kind of freak. I had just screamed out a song about a serial killer killing cops. Like I said before, this was the perfect band. I had not realized just how wrapped up in the straight edge/hardcore scene I was until I started doing something different.
Over the next year Haywire played countless shows with bands ranging from Verbal Assault to the Cro-Mags. One of the coolest shows we played was at Bogart’s in Long Beach. Vadim and I were under 21 and this was a 21 and older show so it was kind of a big deal. The other thing that made this show a big deal is that Nirvana was on the bill. At the time I really didn’t know much about Nirvana. They had a single out on Sub Pop and there was an incredible buzz about them. Nirvana was a rare band. I always thought that to get into a band’s live set I’d have to know their music in advance. Nirvana shattered that belief. I remember they opened their set with “Love Buzz” and the whole club exploded! Good stuff! I had no idea that just a couple years later they would become such a big deal.
Haywire show with Nirvana, flyer courtesy of: Billy Rubin
That show at Bogart’s is where we recorded the “Painless Steel” single that Big Frank put out on Nemesis. It was recorded on Mike “the dude” Z’s (the owner of Zed) digital audio tape recorder. A little known fact is that we actually took that tape into the studio and Rick played a second guitar track over the recording to even it out. That is how good Rick was. Things came together for Haywire really fast. Through a connection in Germany we were invited to tour Europe with a band called NoNoYesNo.
Haywire broke up on tour in Hamburg, Germany. The tour was doomed before it started and while on tour we learned a lot about ourselves. I learned that as much as I loved band practice I hated the people that came to shows. At our last show (opening for NOFX in Hamburg) I was walking to the tour van when a couple of kids with X’s on their hands found me to ask for an autograph. I have nothing against kids with X’s, but I was done.
By the time we went on the European tour we had another Lp worth of material so we made a deal with We Bite records to release the “Private Hell” Lp and a new album called “Abominations” in Europe. Abominations was never released in the US. Years earlier I had been at Pushead’s house in San Francisco and remembered a piece of art he had collaborated on with an artist named Squeal. I called Pushead and asked for the art and he agreed. The art was originally going to be used for the label on the actual vinyl of a 12″ record so there was a circular pattern on it, but we didn’t care (it’s killer art). The Abominations and Private Hell albums were both released on CD in Germany.
Billy with Haywire in Frankfurt, Germany, Photo courtesy of: Billy Rubin
We also released a split 7″ with NoNoYesNo thru Trust fanzine (out of Germany). Our track on the split single was a really great cover of Black Sabbath’s “Symptom of the Universe”. We also released material with a band called Left Insane that was included with an issue of Suburban Voice fanzine. Later on Suburban Voice put out a 15th anniversary Cd that had Haywire material on it too. I suspect all of those releases are very rare.
In a short period of time Haywire released more and played as much or more than Half Off ever had. Since I began posting on DCXX I have reunited with all the members of Haywire and I’m glad to tell you that they are all doing well. John and Rick are still making music. Vadim sold his drums to Casey Jones and became a scholar. I moved to the desert and became an investment banker who lives vicariously through Double Cross.
Haywire at the Anti Club with Verbal Assault, flyer courtesy of: Billy Rubin
Thursday, March 12, 2009
Lars with Uppercut at City Gardens, Photo: Ken Salerno
Here’s the continuation of our interview with Lars Weiss. Kick back, turn up “Forget This Time” and lay into this one. We’ll most likely finish this up with part three sometime next week. Again, thanks to Lars for his time and thanks to Ken and Dave for their photogs . -Tim DCXX
Uppercut got going for real after Side by Side broke up. I think we only played like 3 or 4 shows, did the demo, and played on WNYU before Eric from Side by Side joined the band. Uppercut really played a lot – close to 100 shows without ever touring. We never got further west than Buffalo, further north than Boston, or further south than DC but we played quite a bit. When I think back on it I think I was away almost every weekend for my last year of high school. Which then seemed totally normal, but when I think about it now it seems kinda crazy. And if I wasn’t playing shows, I was going to shows. But that was the way everybody was.
Raw Deal/Killing Time was like our big brother band. Anthony got us our first show at CB’s and they took us wherever they went. That was so cool because they were guys I had grown up with. Later on, we became friends with the Slapshot guys. Everyone including us thought that was weird at first, but they turned out to be really nice guys and we ended up playing with them a bunch. At first we were a little worried because of all the stories, and we weren’t exactly straight edge, but we really got along. They were one of our favorite bands. I was also a little in awe of those guys because Choke had been in Negative FX and Jamie was in SSD. I just got an email from Mark McKay the other day.
We also played out with Wrecking Crew from Boston a lot. Those guys were excellent. Boston was an excellent place for us to play and hang out. We always had great shows and always ended up at some crazy house party with the Wrecking Crew guys afterward. There is a very interesting story floating around about someone on mushrooms trying to park the Raw Deal van, but I won’t elaborate further…
We played with Outburst a lot as well because we knew them through Raw Deal and they were on Blackout. We did the Uppercut 12″ for Blackout when Bill was getting the “Where the Wild Things Are” LP together. There’s some things production wise that I would have liked to have done better, but it wasn’t until much later in life that I got to know my way around the studio. I’ve been listening to the record recently and I really like the guitar stuff that Eric is doing. At the time we did it I thought it was a bit over the top, but now I think his guitar stuff makes the record really interesting. Uppercut has been the hardcore band that has continued for me, as we got back together to play some shows with Killing Time in 2005 and have been averaging a 2-3 shows a year. We pick our spots…
Uppercut at City Gardens, Trenton NJ, Photo: Ken Salerno
To me Hardcore to me is timeless, I didn’t realize it then. I think everyone goes through a stage where you feel like maybe what did you was corny. But now I think hardcore was incredibly real. I listened to the Screaming For Change LP today and I haven’t listened to Soundgarden in a very long time…you know? (Side note: I’m totally in agreement with Gordo on “Staring into the Sun.” After reading his review I gave it a second chance. I wish I could get my hands on the multitracks and remix it. There are some great songs under all that reverb and the drum sound is totally fixable with pro-tools). Hardcore was and is real music with real energy. Maybe people from my age grew up and a lot of them at one point thought it was corny, but I don’t think so. It was real.
JUDGE…that happened from doing Uppercut for a while. I had become friends with Sam from Side By Side. And then he went off to do YOT, and then Judge full time. They had recorded the LP and Sam mentioned a they were looking for a second guitar player. They played with Ryan Hoffman some, and then got me in. I knew Porcell from being around and I knew Matt Pincus because my brother Erik was friends with him. I didn’t really know Mike before the band. But I was psyched as hell to play with them.
There was the misconception regarding my straight edge status because of Uppercut’s song “Am I Clear?” But I was straight edge in Judge. I loved all the youth crew stuff. I don’t think I was ever exactly straight edge before, but with those guys, I was. It wasn’t weird, it was just like with playing with guys I knew, and I respected what they were saying. So it didn’t take much convincing, it was friends playing music. And I’m still friends with Sam – we play basketball every Tuesday.
The “Where It Went” video, I remember Eric Seefranz really hustled to do it. He shot it on 16mm film, which was really tough to do it, for nothing. The video came out so good, it was the spring before the Bringin’ It Down tour. With the money we made from that show we bought a van for the tour. That van ended up being Quicksand’s van later. For that video shoot, we played the song a bunch of times before anyone was there, and then we played it at the beginning of the set and the end of the set. Eric did all of the editing. I don’t know what happened to the other footage. Judge was more of Mike and Porcell’s band, so maybe they would know. I saw the video when it came out, but that was it.
Lars hears it from the crowd, post Judge “Where It Went” video shoot, City Gardens, Photo: Ken Salerno
Judge was a powerful unit and everyone could play. Sammy was great in Side By Side and he was amazing by the time he was in Judge. And Porcell really was playing much more complicated stuff on “Bringin’ it Down” when compared to “Break Down the Walls.” He even had some full on solos.
I remember recording The Storm seven inch. I think we had gone on tour and came back but I’m not sure. Those are Mike and Todd’s (roadie) Harleys at the beginning of the record outside on Spring Street in front of Don Fury’s.
Towards the end of the Bringin’ It Down tour it seemed like those guys were leaning towards something else, getting tired of it. I just kinda felt that we weren’t gonna keep doing it, and they were older than me. I was 19 and they were like 23, so they were in a different place. If it was up to me I would have kept doing it. But those guys were a little older. Mike was a cool, nice guy. But he was also intense and you knew if you got on his bad side he would be scary. I didn’t really know him before the band, but I definitely got to know him in the band. But he was definitely an awesome guy. We both really like Neil Young and listened to a ton of him on tour.
That tour was excellent. Sammy booked it, which was pretty funny having a kid from Manhattan who had never driven a car book a tour that required calculating driving times. But he did (for the most part) an amazing job. We had a solid run from New York all the way out to Minneapolis. All the shows were awesome. We played in the club where they did Purple Rain, we played in Omaha, then we went out to California. We hung out out there a lot with the Sloth Crew guys. That was my second trip out there with Judge.
Lars with Judge at Spanky’s in Riverside CA, Photo: Dave Sine
The first time was when we did the West Coast Weekend right after “Bringing it Down” came out. That was such a combination of awesome shows – a two car garage on a cul-de-sac in Chula Vista with kids stage-diving off of the washer/dryer and the pit set up in the driveway. The next night was a huge show at the Country Club. Then we played Gillman Street. Such an awesome mix.
On the summer tour we played Spanky’s in Riverside. Also, when I was out there on the summer tour we got to see Killing Time and Sick of It All at the Country Club which was the only time Killing Time played LA. It’s the show that they did the live seven inch for. (Weird little side note: Killing Time and SOIA were put up at this random motel in Inglewood called the Cockatoo Inn. If you ever watch “Jackie Brown,” the Quentin Tarrantino movie, Jackie Brown (Pam Grier) hangs out there too).
But the tour, we had some insane drives through the south – 36 hours straight I think from LA (missed our Texas shows due to van issues) to Louisville, KY. After that show, we ended up staying at some kid’s house, might have been the promoter. Anyway, this can be hit or miss type of thing. Sometimes, you have to be quiet because Mom and Dad are asleep, and other times there are other issues. Anyway, I’ve slept on many a floor playing in hardcore bands but this was one of the most memorable. So we get to the guy’s house and I think Sam and I ended up in the same room together. Anyway, it was dark when we went in there so we just passed out on the floor. I wake up the next morning and the room we were in was like the snake/porn room. There were like 10 fish tanks floor to ceiling with snakes in them and then one of the largest collections of porn magazines in Southeastern United States. Dude had porn like I have records (and I have 5000-6000 LPs in my house). I just remember getting up, being like, “this is strange…” and waiting around in a “Steak N’ Shake” parking lot until we left.
That was the other thing, being vegetarian (I still ate a little chicken on this tour but everyone else was a vegetarian), it was always hard find a spot to eat. This was in 1990, before you could find tofu and soy milk in every supermarket. So Porcell had this “Guide to Eating Vegetarian in the USA” book that was like a health food Zagat’s that was supposed to get us to California and back. One of the best spots that we ended up at because of this book was an all vegetarian Soul Food restarant run by the Nation of Islam in a not-so-nice part of Detroit. Totally excellent BBQ Seitan ribs.
Tampa I think was the last show. We saw some really bad fights, I mean, really bad. I’ve been in New York my whole life, and I saw the illest fight ever outside some bar in Ybor City in Tampa and that wasn’t even related to our show! At our Tampa show there was only a mini race riot…lots of skinheads and all around bad vibes. Oh, one more thing, that photo of Mike in “The Storm” seven inch with the lightning and the tanks was from a truck stop in the middle of Iowa on that last tour. Great memories.
Lars breaking down the machine with Uppercut at City Gardens, Photo: Ken Salerno
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Chuck Treece in the studio
Chuck Treece gives us some history and info from the streets of Philly to NYC and back again. Let’s hope for more from him soon… -Gordo DCXX
How old were you when you got into punk hardcore, and who were the early bands you loved?
When I turned on the focus to punk I was at age 15/16. Mark Manuti was responsible for turning me on to the Sex Pistols. A good friend of mine way backm, Tod Werny, showed me how to play a bar chord. God Save The Queen was the song and the progression he showed me, so in a sense punk was handed to me though people who really loved the movement of aggressive music and thought. Rock, loud guitars and energy have always been in music. But punk relates to the age of decision making. You know, like ‘what will you do with your time while your thinking about music and a lifestyle’?
Tell us about the early through late 80’s Philadelphia hardcore / punk scene. Stand out bands, venues, record stores, fanzines, etc.
Early Philly bands: AUSTIC BEHAVIOR, MCRAD, BUNNY DRUMS, MR. META, RUIN, TRAINED ATTACKED DOGS, SHEMALES, Y DI, LITTLE GENTLEMEN, THE STICKMEN, SEEDS OF TERROR, DEAD MILKMEN and the list goes on and on. Philly has always and will always embraced music, so whatever the flow of ideals that are going through young peoples minds in music will be there. Philly is always on the creative side of any scene, check it out. Through every music change Philly has always shown its true colors.
Was there ever a feeling of competition between the early Philadelphia scene and the NYC scene? Considering both are two prominent cities within a couple hours of each other, I always had the feeling that there was this underlying competition.
As far as McRad, we went to NYC and showed what we were about when I was 19 in 1983. A bunch of NYC bands were there and we never claimed where we were from and all. We had a blast playing music, however, competition in the face of being creative suffers through being creative. I feel music regardless of what city I’m in. If one city has a great vibe, other cities will feed off that and make their own creative decions. Competition is like religion. It gives you an exact feeling…judging for intent to judge.
What are your fondest McRad memories? Did you ever think you’d still be playing in 2008?
My fondest memory of McRad is being able to be myself through my dreams in music and skateboarding. I have a family through music and skating. I have my hometown through the same. It’s my life in small words.
Chuck with Underdog at City Gardens, 1989, Photo: Ken Salerno
How exactly did things fall in place for you to join up with Underdog? What stands out from your time in the band? What songs do you remember writing? Any stand out shows you recall playing?
UNDERDOG is and was my favorite time coming into a new band with a great following. Working with Richie, Russ and Dean was always a blast. I was going through so much at that time. I wanted my career to be in music and was finding out the ways to survive and keep myself happy. My family has always been supportive. Songs I wrote or have an influence on were the reggae songs. I played the guitar solos on The Vanishing Point, Richie played all the other guitar tracks. We went in and recorded the basic tracks in two days. Great time, great shows, I moved on because of my life in Philly. Mostly we leave situations because of the lifestyles we choose.
My time with Underdog will always be amazing. The same for my time with BAD BRAINS and any other band I worked with.
MCRAD is the cause of me being involved with music. It’s my place where I work out all concepts of thought in music and skating.
THANX FER YER TIME-
NEVER ENDING DOMINANT FORCE/MCRAD/TREECE/FDR/ALTER ST/POCKET PISTOLS/CIRCA 1/VANS
Chuck with McRad
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Mike with the Montville hat delivering the fury, Judge at Fenders 8/4/89, Photo: Dave Sine
Installment number two of Dave Sine’s photographic documentation of the final Youth Of Today show. More great photos from one of the most impressive bills of that era. -Tim DCXX
Wally with GB and the wacky neck tattoo at Fenders, 8/4/89, Photo: Dave Sine
TC3 with BOLD at Fenders, 8/4/89, Photo: Dave Sine
Jeff Up Front searching for truth through the spirit of youth, Fenders, 8/4/89, Photo: Dave Sine
Ray Cappo from the farm to the stage for the finale, Youth Of Today, Fenders, 8/4/89, Photo: Dave Sine
Minus Underdog, plus Up Front
Monday, March 9, 2009
Lars with Uppercut
Getting an email from people that were in the bands that we cover here is always cool, so when I got a message from Lars Weiss praising the site, I was definitely stoked. Considering Lars played in some of the greats… Uppercut, Side By Side, Alone In A Crowd and Judge, we decided to hit him up for an interview.
This is part one of a multiple entry interview that Gordo and I did over the phone last Thursday with Lars. Big thanks to Lars for giving us a couple hours of his Thursday night. Part two should be up later this week. Down For The Count… – Tim DCXX
I grew up in Yonkers, north of the Bronx. When I was a really little kid just getting into music I was really into The Who. I also remember hearing early punk/ new wave on WPIX, an old radio station in New York that played stuff like Elvis Costello, The Ramones, Blondie, etc. – a lot of the early new wave stuff. I totally remember hearing “God Save The Queen” probably on WLIR and just loving it, knowing this was awesome. I also really liked The Clash. I remember being too young to go to see The Clash open for The Who at Shea Stadium on their 1982 “farewell” tour. My mom wasn’t down with letting an 11 year old go to that. I also remember listening to WLIR, which was an awesome new wave station. They played The Cure, Depeche Mode, a lot of stuff. I really liked early REM, the drummer from my first band had an older brother in a band from Yonkers called Woofing Cookies that did a 7″ that was produced by Peter Buck. So I got into REM from hearing about them from Al (my drummer’s) older brother. This must have been like 1984ish… I also really liked Husker Du and The Replacements a lot. “New Day Rising” is still one of my favorite records.
What also helped back then there was a great indie record store about 10 blocks from my mom’s house called Mad Platters. There was a guy named Tony Pradlik who worked there who was into a lot of hardcore and punk. He turned me on to a lot of stuff. That was such a good store, I mean, before my time I had heard that they had Black Flag do an in-store. That’s where I bought a copy of the Bad Brains RIOR cassette and “Victim in Pain.” So from hanging out at that store I got into a lot of stuff and eventually started working there when I was 16.
Lars with Judge, Photo: Ken Salerno
You guys asked me if I was this metal guy who got into hardcore (Editor’s Note: That was always both of our impressions – DCXX). But, I wasn’t really from metal. I mean, I could dig it and there was some stuff I was into. Like, my Mom had a great record collection she had everything from Marvin Gaye to Black Sabbath “Paranoid.” So I heard that record when I was young, and I loved it and still do. But mostly, I got into metal more through hardcore – not the other way around.
Yes, Yonkers had/has a big metal contingent. I played little league with Will Rahmer from Mortician. And even going back to Mad Platters, they had a great Metal section, like 8 rows of records, compared to 3 rows for HC and punk. They had Motorhead and lot of “New Wave of British Heavy Metal” stuff…plus all the early Venom, Celtic Frost, etc. And I ended up working there. Jim Gibson who started Noiseville Records (he did “Where the Wild Things” with Bill and the NY Inside Out 7″) also worked there. He got me into Motorhead. He and his brothers were huge Motorhead fans. He also turned me on to Metallica, Celtic Frost and Slayer. But I got into that stuff because I thought it was like hardcore.
But most of my exposure to hardcore early on was from the kids in my neighborhood. Carl from Breakdown/Raw Deal and Bill Wilson who started Blackout lived a few blocks from my mom’s house. I still have this tape that Bill made for me of all his Misfits seven inches. But it was through those guys that I got I really got into Hardcore. AF was my first show…Summer of 1986, it was AF, WarZone, and Underdog at CB’s. That was, I believe, Underdog’s first show after changing their name from True Blue. After that I started going to CB’s almost every weekend with Carl, Bill, and Don who was the original guitar player for Breakdown. I was 15. It’s been all downhill since then.
Before I was in a HC band I was in a punk/Replacements/Husker Du type of band. It was with this dude Al Nafz, who I mentioned before, and he was friends with Carl. Carl played with us for a bit, Al left, and then that morphed into first Uppercut line-up. That line-up was me, Carl, Pat, Rob, and Sammy Crespo who would later become a big hip-hop radio promo guy for Def Jam and now Atlantic Records. I always thought it was funny hearing the ex-singer from Uppercut being shouted out on Hot 97 by Funkmaster Flex. Carl knew all those guys from going to Fordham University. So that original non-hardcore type band kinda lead to Uppercut. Later on Sammy would leave and we got Steve Murphy, who was also went to Fordham.
Lars with Uppercut
I was already doing Uppercut before being in Side By Side. I met Jules at a show and he mentioned that Billy was leaving the band and asked me to try out that’s how I started playing with them. Before I was in Side By Side, it had been Jules, Sammy, Billy (Bitter), Eric (Fink), and Gavin. Then Gavin left and Alex came in to replace him. Then Billy left and I came in. They had already recorded the Revelation 7″. I only played one show with them at The Anthrax on bass. I played with a broken hand, because I had broken it at an AF show. In the photos you can see I’m wearing a cast. I played bass with like one finger. After Side By Side broke up, Eric (Fink) came and joined Uppercut.
But when Side By Side broke up, Jules said he wanted to do another band. We got together with Rob from Uppercut and Carl from Raw Deal, and Jules’s friend Howie. That was Alone In A Crowd. We wanted to be a real band. But we just ended up doing the one show at The Anthrax and recording the single at Don Fury’s. We wrote the songs and recorded immediately, we didn’t waste much time, the momentum was there. But strangely, we just didn’t do anything after that. It wasn’t intentional to do only one show. The intention was to be a band. Those guys had other bands, but Jules wanted to do a band, it wasn’t meant to be a one-shot deal.
We even had a color – remember how everything Chain Of Strength did was like green, Jules wanted everything to be maroon. I remember we had a cassette of rough mixes from Don Fury’s before we played that one show. So before the 7″ came out, the tape had gotten passed around and when we played out people were really into it, knew the words and were singing along. Jules wrote all the lyrics, I wrote most of the riffs. Overall, I think Jules, Carl, and I wrote everything. Carl wrote the bass intro to When Tigers Fight (Editor’s Note: AKA The hardest bass intro ever written).
We practiced a bunch in my Mom’s basement. And then we were ready. After that one show I don’t think we even practiced again, it was weird. I don’t know what happened! I thought it was great. After that show, it wasn’t like “we aren’t gonna do this again,” at most maybe we needed someone to play bass for Carl since he was busy with Raw Deal.
I think Jules was at a transitional point. Maybe he felt like he did everything he wanted to. By the fall of 1988 he was onto something else. But I thought it would continue. I wish it had.
Jules was a really cool, smart, intense guy. We were like 18 but he seemed a little older and really smart. I mean off stage, he was more serious and intense than the kids I grew up with, he could be goofy, but he was definitely on a mission. Just an intense personality. He has more of a perspective on stuff today than you might think. He was really psyched on the re-release of AIAC. He really seems psyched that people still are into this stuff. He called me out of the blue about 6 months back. Now he is an attorney practicing maritime law in Florida.
Lars with Uppercut at CBGB, NYC
After AIAC, Side By Side did play one more time at a benefit show for Roger Miret at CB’s with Raw Deal and Straight Ahead. I was in college at the time, and the line up was me and Eric on guitar and Billy on bass, with Sammy on drums and obviously Jules singing. Alex didn’t play for some reason. Strangely, that was after the one and only Alone In A Crowd show.
As far as the AIAC re-release, I’ve been running my own label, Home Style Cooking, since 2000, so I decided I wanted to do it and do it right. Other people wanted to reissue it, but I thought I should do it. My friend Brian Simmons originally put it out on Flux. He also did Constant Change Records and promoted shows in Providence and in Newport. So when AIAC wanted to put out the 7″ we wanted to do it as our own thing, not on Schism or Rev, but do it with someone outside of the New York scene. I think that lead to the record kinda getting lost in the shuffle over time (and being much rarer!). But I’m really happy with how the re-release came out. I think it is a great record and it means a lot to me to know people still dig it.
More to come…
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