Sunday, March 8, 2009
I think I caught a few people off guard with this poll. For some reason or another a poll pertaining to a California surf punk band wasn’t something a lot of people expected to see. Truth of the matter is, Agent Orange were one of the the very first punk bands I paid legitimate attention to.
Coming up as a skater in 1985, it was nearly impossible to not of heard of Agent Orange. They had their own deck on Vision and they appeared in Vision’s classic “Skate Visions” video, plus they were constantly being covered in Thrasher Magazine. Once I saw their footage in Skate Visions and heard “Bloodstains” during some ramp jam footage, I was hooked.
The first Agent Orange record I bought was “When You Least Expect It” sometime around 1986. I had a paper route at that time and I would listen to a tape of that record every single day while I was out delivering those papers. Considering “When You Least Expect It” was only an EP, those songs went by super fast and I’d just end flipping the tape and listening to it all over again. As familiar as I was with the Jefferson Airplane song, “Somebody To Love”, Agent Orange turned that song completely into their own and I’ve always loved their version. As a matter of fact, I’ve always loved this entire record. Every time I hear “Bite The Hand That Feeds (part 2)”, I want to grab my board and skate as fast as I can down a long, smooth hill.
As much as I love “When You Least Expect It”, I equally love “Living In Darkness”, which made this a very tough poll for me to vote on. Every song on “Living In Darkness” is great and 23 years after first hearing it, I still listen to it regularly and it’s still just as good as it was all those years ago. Apparently the majority agreed and “Living In Darkness” won this poll by a landslide.
When Ken Salerno saw this poll, he sent me over a pile of Agent Orange photos from one of their shows at Trenton’s City Gardens. Funny coincidence… the photos he sent happened to be from the first show I saw Agent Orange , July 17th 1988 with Dag Nasty. Agent Orange and Dag Nasty were both great that night, but I’ll never forget the pompadour on Agent Orange’s bass player. My friend Tony and I were referring to the guy as “Slim Jim Phantom” from the Stray Cats, all night long. I probably spent a good deal of their set cracking up, but honestly, they were great and I’ll never forget that show. -Tim DCXX
Living In Darkness LP – 131
Bloodstains EP – 56
When You Least Expect It EP- 12
This Is The Voice LP – 10
Bitchin’ Summer EP – 7
Virtually Indestructible – 7
Mike Palm of Agent Orange, City Gardens, July 17th 1988, Photo: Ken Salerno
Agent Orange at City Gardens, July 17th 1988, Photo: Ken Salerno
Mike Palm and said “Slim Jim Phantom” character, City Gardens, July 17th 1988, Photo: Ken Salerno
Thursday, March 5, 2009
Classic Roger with Up Front at Fenders, August 4th 1989, Photo: Dave Sine
Dave Sine is back to DCXX with a short story and sick collection of classic photos from the final Youth Of Today show at Fenders. Dave sent us so many photos this time around, that we’re going to post a chunk of them tonight and save the rest for a second entry sometime next week. -Tim DCXX
Frosty of Chain Of Strength at Fenders, August 4th 1989, Photo: Dave Sine
I’ll be the first to admit that my memory is not the best. In fact, if it wasn’t for all the photos I’ve made over the years, I might not remember anything. And something like the last Youth of Today show is something you would think is a big enough deal to have some clear memories of the show. But, that’s not the case for me. What I do remember was really looking forward to this show. For various reasons, I had always missed Youth of Today whenever they came through Southern California. But besides finally seeing YOT, the bill was stacked with bands that we on the west coast didn’t get to see very often. Some of them were making their first trips to the west and this excited a lot of kids.
I stocked up on film before the show expecting to make a whole lotta photos. In the end I only shot about two rolls of film. A big reason for this was just how crowded the stage got as the show progressed. Plus I was busy having a good time. And it was a really fun show that seemed like it would go on forever. I remember being really tired near the end of the show and had to fight to stay awake between the last couple of bands. Anyway, it was a really fun show. Hopefully these photos convey that. Enjoy. - Dave Sine
Mark Ryan hits the Fenders stage with Supertouch, August 4th 1989, Photo: Dave Sine
Rich with Insted, Fenders, August 4th 1989, Photo: Dave Sine
Matt Pinkus brings it down with Judge, Fenders, August 4th 1989, Photo: Dave Sine
Matt Warnke of BOLD having his say, Fenders, August 4th 1989, Photo: Dave Sine
Civ and Mark “Helmet” Hayworth with Gorilla Biscuits at Fenders, August 4th 1989, Photo: Dave Sine
Porcell ends it on a high note, Youth Of Today at Fenders, August 4th 1989, Photo: Dave Sine
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
Sometime around 1990, while skimming through the pages of Good & Plenty fanzine, I noticed some particularly great photos of bands like Youth Of Today, Gorilla Biscuits and Beyond. Upon further research, I discovered that these particular photos were all taken by a guy named Brian Boog. At the time I was doing my own fanzine, Common Sense, so I thought I’d ask Gabe, the guy who did Good & Plenty, if he’d be able to hook me up with contact info for Brian. For whatever reason Gabe wasn’t into passing the info on, so that was the end of that.
18 or so years later, while skimming through Facebook, I come across the very same Youth Of Today photos that I had seen in Good & Plenty. Turns out Brian is on Facebook and had been posting a ton of his photos. Although Common Sense has been dead for 19 years, I thought it was worth checking in with Brian to see if he’d be down to contribute some of his photos to Double Cross. Thankfully Brian obliged. For the past few weeks we’ve been trying to put something together with Brian and finally we’ve got our first entry from him. This one is his story on the SWASIDE tour (Swiz, American Standard, Soul Side tour) and in true Brian Boog fashion, it’s accompanined by a collection of great photos documenting his story. Hopefully this will be the first of many contributions from Brian. -Tim DCXX
L to R J American Standard, Shawn Swiz, Scott and Johnny Soul Side, Photo: Nicole DiGiorgi Chavez
Hello Everybody! Brian Boog from Rhode Island here. Let me start by saying that one of the only reasons our tiny state of Rhode Island had Punk/Hardcore shows in the 80s and 90s was because of Brian Simmons at Crossroad Productions. We also had Doug Carron who ran Pied Piper Productions in Providence, but that’s another story for another day. Back to Crossroad Production shows. What was really great about Crossroad shows was that they were at a club that was a 2 minute skateboard ride away from my house called The Blue Pelican. Brian put on a bunch of shows at The Blue Pelican, almost all those classic Sunday matinees. Going to every show, I became friends with Brian Simmons and ended up going to many, many shows in many different states together. Most of the shows following around our home town heroes, Verbal Assault.
Shawn Brown with Swiz, Photo: Nicole DiGiorgi Chavez
This is one of those shows that I remember. It was July 17th, 1988, the middle of summer! Being a big fan of Soul Side, I remember being super psyched to see them, but the band that I and everybody that I knew was freaking out about was Swiz. We were going to see Swiz in Newport, RI! Shawn Brown, Dag Nasty’s first singer in our town!! So the day of the show is here and we go, hang out outside, American Standard plays their set, cool. Swiz sets up, and we are about to pee our pants because of the excitement of seeing Shawn Brown play. They play the first song and then the sound guy shuts the PA off. Story goes that Livingston Taylor, brother of James, is playing later that night and doesn’t like the look of the people in the club and tells the sound guy to cut the PA off. Well, people were not happy. Swiz played their set, refusing to get off the stage, with Shawn Brown screaming his vocals over the band without a PA. As dissapointing and lame as it was, it was kind of cool to see this.
Soul Side never played.
J Colangelo, Jason Farell, Bill Dolan, Bobby Sullivan, Scott McCloud and Pete Verbal Assault, Photo: Nicole DiGiorgi Chavez
After the show we all went to Brian Simmons’s parents house/farm (where Brian took over and made it into a gigantic, amazing, Organic farm), played volleyball and had pizza. Being a 17 year old kid in the same room/yard as these guys was pretty freaking cool! Twenty years later and I’m still in contact with them! - Brian Boog
American Standard, Photo: Nicole DiGiorgi Chavez
Jon Troutman, AS Roadie, Nathan Swiz, Jay A Toaste longtime Verbal Assault roadie, Photo: Nicole DiGiorgi Chavez
Bill Dolan American Standard, Alex Daniels Swiz, Photo: Nicole DiGiorgi Chavez
Nathan and Jason from Swiz, Photo: Nicole DiGiorgi Chavez
Nathan Larson of Swiz with the Germs shirt and some Tropicana, Photo: Nicole DiGiorgi Chavez
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Inside Out – “Burning Fight” from Toe Jam’s, Long Beach CA, 6/1/1991
Honestly, we had no intentions of turning this Inside Out entry into a three day piece, but I really couldn’t help myself. I had noticed a link to a video posted in the comment section and after I took a look at it, I realized that I absolutely had to get it up here. A lot of people that have seen Inside Out live have talked about their legendary energy and stage presence and I think these three videos are a good representation of just that. Hopefully you enjoy these as much as I did. -Tim DCXX
Inside Out – “Sacrifice” 1990
Inside Out – From The Rat in Boston Ma, 1990
Sunday, March 1, 2009
Zack in the face of the Trenton crowd, Photo: Ken Salerno
Gordo picks up where he left off yesterday with his dissection of the Inside Out EP. As always, a HUGE thank you goes out to Ken Salerno who pulled through in a pinch with more incredible Inside Out shots to go along with this entry. Big thanks also need to go out to Dave Sine for his Inside Out photo and all the great photos that he has been flowing our way. Keep your eyes open for a big Dave Sine entry that should be finding it’s way to DCXX any day now. Ok, this is the point where I hand it back over to Gordo… -Tim DCXX
The closer track is the insanely serious “No Spiritual Surrender.” The song opens up and makes all promises of being perhaps the greatest song ever written. Dark guitar echoes and squeals, a bass that sounds like it has half functioning pick-ups, Zack’s breathing and off-the-charts intro scream, and a tribal floor drum beat combine to sound like something that would start playing the second you get into a small cage with a tiger at midnight with only a flickering oil lamp allowing you to see anything. From there the song goes into the verse, Zack again continuing with a lyrical theme he would end up somehow making a career (and a buttload of cash) out of: being silenced and having his identity suppressed by what appears to sound like friends, parents, teachers, bosses, the government, the military, the white man, a young Tony Blair, mavericks, clowns, cowboys, astronauts, cricket players, deep sea fishermen…jeez, pretty much everyone really.
But yeah, things seem to be progressing in the song to the point where it will absolutely just explode to the moon. Unfortunately, it seems to take a step backwards with the chorus, which is just Zack screaming, “No Spiritual Surrender,” in a sort of mail-it-in fashion. This isn’t bad by any means, and maybe at this point in the listen you just expect more, but it just seems to come up a little short with where the energy seemed to be going. Maybe they had already blown their load by this point (or maybe I had), I don’t know…but I think it could have been done better. They repeat this again, and just like that, it’s basically over. Bratton’s repeated drum rolls signal closure and Zack’s final lament of “NO” fades out…probably the single word which can summarize this record’s and his life’s lyrical topics.
Vic and Zack at City Gardens, Photo: Ken Salerno
I won’t go too much into the two other songs from this session, “Sacrifice” and “Redemption,” mostly because I have always viewed them as “bonus” tracks more than actual EP songs, even though both are of the same caliber as the others and every bit as much real songs. “Sacrifice” is a start to finish rager where Bratton and Vic seem to go back and forth, trading roll for lick, each’s power constantly outdoing the other in a song that is the equivalent of a steam roller doing 30 mph on a small suburban street. The song has a great stop/start feel with a lot of quick pauses and changes, but again never really goes through the roof or changes a ton in dynamic. But it is what it is, and it is great.
“Redemption” is much more my favorite of the two, kicking off with Vic’s fast crunching which is again more proof of just how awesome he sounds on this. This song ends up going exactly where you hope it will: calming down in the middle and quieting out for a couple seconds, only before building back up with a great bass line and guitar picking, and exploding back out and into the final vocal crescendo of “sometimes I just don’t know, I guess we lost our way to go (x4)…REDEMPTION!” Just a great part…it is the type of part you sing in your room when you are pretending you are Zack, the TV remote is the mic, and your startled dog is the crowd at Spanky’s. Umm, well, I do anyways.
Zack hits the crowd with Inside Out at City Gardens, Photo: Ken Salerno
I can see why some people find the vibe of Inside Out so overbearing, since Zack and Vic seemed to take everything so seriously. It’s also a fact, no…wait…theory, that Zack has never smiled in his life. In HC, you kinda get a pass with this type of thing if you have neck tattoos or are in the Pagans. But, in HC, when the brutally-critical HC superfan type knows or at least thinks you grew up comfortably in Irvine/Long Island, were a SE kid in Hard Stance/Beyond, and are hilariously non-intimidating physically, it’s a little tougher to sell the seriousness that they tried to sell in Inside Out.
When I think about it, Zack or Vic come off as the the type of friends you could have had stay at your house for dinner when you were 16, and when you are sitting at the table and your Dad asks your Mom if she can grab the butter for him, one of them tells your Mom, “Mrs. Jordan, you don’t have to do that. You don’t have to bow down to this society’s gender expecations of you. You can break out of this machine and not buy into their dogmatic confines, YOU CAN FIGHT THIS SYSTEM!!!” Umm, it’s a stick of butter.
I’m not saying Zack (or Vic) haven’t made music that hits on a lot of important topics, because they have, and they have spent their lives spreading their personal messages. Unfortunately, a lot of the bad stereotypes about the forward thinking, ultra PC bend of the early 90’s HC scene somehow can get traced to this whole vibe. Personally, it doesn’t phase me, because I still think Inside Out is a true rager of a unit, but I understand others not being able to hang based on the above.
The No Spiritual Surrender sing along at City Gardens, Photo: Ken Salerno
Oh, the EP layout. I’ve always thought it’s cool and that it works. Vic has said it wasn’t the band’s design idea and they didn’t dig it. I’ve always thought the whole thing matched the music and vibe perfectly – a semi-Western mantra feel to it (right down to the blue – get it?), vague spiritual-vibe artwork, and just a straight on live shot of Zack raging on the mic for the cover (some great info on it here: http://www.radiosilencebook.com/2008/09/redemption/). It’s never been a mind-blowing EP package to me, but I’ve always thought it was super cool and fit them perfectly.
Ultimately, the Inside Out story is nice and neat and confined to about a two year period, void of weird reunions (aside from the ’93 thing), bad second records, or any weird off-shoots. Unless you get hung up on tracking down all the various live sets and radio sets (which is definitely worth doing for the dozen or so great unreleased tunes – find the KXLU set), your level of fandom can simply boil down to these six songs. It definitely is a significant part of the Revelation catalog, and it is a record that bridges the 80s with the 90s, both for HC in general and for each individual all-star musician (all band members going on to do many significant things later). It’s also one of the best social connectors we as HC folks have to mainstream music, as we have all at one time or another told the dude at school or work who likes RATM about Zack’s “first band.”
For me, it epitomizes heavy, raging introspective hardcore that borrows from metal and DC in some the best possible ways, and showcases a lot of talent that really combines to form a hell of a unit. It is still the HC record that most makes me want to get a white BC Rich, stop shaving, wear cut off jean shorts and slip-on Vans, emulate Vic (which strangely means somehow ending up physically resembling John Walker Lindh), and destroy my living room…in hopes of maybe one day being able to take the power back. -Gordo DCXX
A classic shot of Inside Out at Gilman Street, Photo: Dave Sine
As I’ve said in the past, Gordo has a real knack for breaking down and dissecting these records that he loves. Personally I have a great time reading these because I know how much he puts into it, how much each of these records mean to him and ultimately, the response that follows. As far as I’m concerned, whenever the inspiration comes and he’s motivated to do these, I’m psyched to get them up here.
With this particular EP, it’s definitely one I also feel very strongly about. I remember the buzz that surrounded Inside Out right from the get-go. Being a huge fan of Chain Of Strength, Hard Stance and Beyond, when I knew guys from those bands were coming together and doing a new band, I was pumped and the expectations were through the roof. I think the first thing I remember hearing was a tape of a few of the songs that would ultimately end up on the EP. At the time I don’t think I remember hearing anything like those songs. Inside Out took heaviness to another level and Zack’s vocals were just crushing. Those roars, my god those roars were unreal.
What was legendary about Inside Out and was recognized by many after their early shows was the band’s stage presence. Everyone talked about Vic and how he literally lost it every set. Throwing his guitar and body around with no regard to anyone’s safety was Vic’s MO. People talk a lot about so-and-so looking possessed on stage, but Vic and Zack… that was serious possession. Zack would turn as red as a freakin’ cherry, tremble and shake with convulsions, fall to the ground and actually look cool doing it. Each and every set was like an offering to those that were lucky enough to be in the same room.
Unfortunately for myself, the only thing I would ever know about a live Inside Out show was to be learned through watching videos and hearing stories from my friends. When Inside Out came through the east coast and hit the local venues with Shelter and Quicksand, to my own dismay, I was stuck doing family stuff and never made it to any of the shows that my friends did. At the time I was disappointed and very bummed, but had no idea that those particular shows would end up being my only chance to see Inside Out. Let’s just say, I took way too many show opportunities for granted and did not do anything and everything I could and should have. The result was missing out on some of the best bands and shows I could have seen and would go on to regret even to this day.
In terms of the EP and my favorite song, all of them are great and I mean great in a big way, but the one song that always seems to hit me the hardest was “Sacrifice” which ended up only appearing as bonus material on the CD. Lyrically, those words ripped my guts out. Possibly the greatest lyrics about betrayal ever. Lines like, “I kept you from drowning when I couldn’t swim, now I’m sinking and you’re not there” and “And should the bottom fall out of your life, you’ll turn around and I’m not there”, that shit still gives me chills.
Back to Gordo, I don’t want to take too much time away from his piece here, so I’m going to cut myself short. Because this entry is so large, we’ll be cutting this into two pieces, one for today and one for tomorrow. Without any further ado… take it away Gordo. -Tim DCXX
Zack with Inside Out at City Gardens, Photo: Ken Salerno
RECORDS WE LOVE: Inside Out (California) EP by: Gordo
My introduction to this record indirectly occurred a few years before I ever heard it. In 1992 I was ten years old and on the cusp of really getting into hardcore. Along with fellow Lollapalooza-type bands that were being forced down everyone’s throat by the alternative/punk marketing boom in mainstream music media, Rage Against The Machine was impossible to miss. The kids I was starting to ride bmx and skate with had the Rage album, and I remember them saying this was a “hardcore” band and the dudes were from older “hardcore” bands – probably one of my first run-ins with the term. Calling this a definitive “hardcore” record was a combination of young ignorance and what MTV fed us…but we were all young and just trying to make heads or tails out of things. I remember thinking that while this record was powerful and that I definitely liked it (and I still do today on some levels, though it seems to be more of a dated-sounding guilty pleasure than anything), it didn’t make me put a “Free Leonard Peltier” sticker on the family truckster, and it wasn’t exactly what I envisioned as “hardcore.”
Fast forward a couple years, and by then I had jumped into HC head first, bringing me in contact with the Inside Out EP pretty early on. Obviously by this time I had well learned that Rage was in reality a mainstream band doing a totally different thing. But when I heard the Inside Out record, I realized that it was EXACTLY what I had hoped a few years prior that Rage record was gonna sound like. It was like the raw, blistering, uncensored form of it. There were some connections between the two (obviously I knew it was Zack on both), but they were also worlds apart. It was stripped down, darker, heavier, angrier, uglier, and more real. Some parts faster, some parts slower, but always more driving and organic. Absent were the bow-wow-chicka-bow-bow Guitar Center parts, slick production feel, hip hop-flavored beats, dreadlocks, and “Yeah! What! Come On!” pre-Lil Jon style MC commands that plauged the RATM record and ulimately made every suburban kid who was a fan feel that he was entitled to rap over a guitar effect and drop a “bombtrack” (whatever the fuck that means). It was like the less urban yet crazier, darker, and superior version of Rage Against The Machine. It was…perfect. Fifteen years later, it’s still on my list for top HC EPs.
I’m now choosing to write about it because I’ve realized that ten years ago, and maybe even less, I’m not sure I even heard of anyone in HC who didn’t view this four song musical blood bath as anything short of great. It always just seemed to be one of the records placed in the elite category of “adored by everyone.”
Sure enough, in the past few years especially, I’ve seen this thing dissed more often than I would have ever expected. Maybe the crowd of naysayers is just small and loud, but whatever the case, the Inside Out EP just doesn’t seem to command the same respect that it seemed to at one time. There have been various criticisms which I will touch on, but there is one I gotta address up front because it bothers the shit out of me:
“It doesn’t hold a candle to the EP by the same-named NY band.”
Ok look, there are some great parts on that Inside Out NY EP, especially the intro part to “Beat Life”, and it’s NYHC so it already has a leg up by default. Rat tails, mesh tank tops, gold chains, stealing Nikes from Caldor, being on parole, and government cheese are some of my favorite things and I love NYHC as much as the next guy, but come on. That record isn’t THAT good. It’s like 3rd tier at best. I’m fine if you say you don’t like Inside Out from California, but please don’t say the NY band is better, because that is just scientifically impossible. If a band has a lyric that reads, “your shopping is done at the beatest mall,” they automatically lose. Or, maybe they automatically win. I don’t know, all I know is that while typically I will take most things from NY over most things from anything else, Inside Out NY is not the better band here. Inside Out Cali doesn’t have a single legitimate mosh part on this record, but it doesn’t even matter. It wins, ok?
Vic and Alex with Inside Out at City Gardens, Photo: Ken Salerno
So…Inside Out Cawl-E-Fahneea (Schwarzenegger stylee). I won’t get into the band backstory other than to say that I’m glad they waited until they were a real powerhouse before recording. Having started in ’88 with a different line-up and no Vic, those first songs (which can be heard on early live tapes) are mere shadows of what would come later. While I always get the timeline confused as to when Bratton played drums and when Alex Pain played drums, I will say it was a nice boost for the band to have had Bratton playing on this. Alex was a good drummer in his own right (though a bit more spastic and loose), but Bratton shines on this, has a great drum sound here, and his style is a centerpiece of this recording that wouldn’t exist without him.
Inside Out was also perhaps the first band of this younger California SE scene to distinctly move away from HC confines, while still being a definite part of the HC scene. Chain Of Strength, Hard Stance, and No For An Answer came out as clearly self proclaimed “hardcore” bands that were loud and clear about it. When asked if they were a hardcore band during their KXLU interview, Inside Out’s answers ranged from “it’s what you hear when you listen to it,” to “it’s punk,” to “it’s hard to put a label on it.” So clearly, this wasn’t simply X INSIDE OUT X – Dedicated To O.C. Hardcore. But it was also that musical push (probably helped in no small part by Vic) that makes this record unique.
“Burning Fight” opens with the best sounding feedback possibly ever recorded, something you would hear while being tortured in a Bangkok opium den. It’s a well-modified BC Rich cranking through a vintage Marshall, and then Bratton’s high hat count signals the dawn of the apocalypse, which is officialized by Zack’s classic announcement of “BREAAK!!!” – a vocal which like all vocals on the record, was recorded in the dark. The entire intro is some sick mix of the Cro-Mags, Satan if he had moved to Irvine and gotten in a fist fight with Krishna, and a very emotionally hurt, 135 pound kid using his vocal chords to his absolute fullest. The fast part/verse of the song has Bratton at the heartbeat of it all, pounding away with precision over a killer riff that apparently Zack (yes, Zack) wrote, with just the right metallic tinges on top of it. Even when the pace slows, it hits on just the right amount of head-nodding groove before shifting back into high gear.
Vic overdubs his leads and trickery at just the right moments and in the right doses, hitting you again and again with an absolutely eerie guitar sound that sends napalm into your spinal cord. Strangely, when we interviewed Vic for DCXX some months back, he mentioned that the actual final mix for this EP had his third and final guitar track completely deleted by Walter and Jordan without his approval, thinning out the sound he strived to perfect. I don’t know what was on that third track, but I would love to hear it and can only imagine.
Zack in front of the Anthrax crowd in Norwalk Connecticut, Photo: Tim Brick
Ultimately, every Inside Out song can in some ways be centered around “Burning Fight” – the “raging part into grooving part” musical formula, dark yet optimistic lyrics of anger, betrayal, and survival, heavy riffing and tasteful metal worshipping over top of foot-heavy Bratton bashing and “Helmet” Hayworth’s perfect-tone bass lines. It’s easily my favorite Inside Out track, and I think it epitomizes the band at their most realized potential. It is, in short, a perfect song. I could never listen to this song and say, “well they could have done this or that, or made this longer, or this shorter.” No. It’s just one of those songs that you know when these guys first created it, they just looked at each other and said, “that’s it. No other changes necessary.” It’s an ultimate classic track that cuts across sub-genres of heavy music, and possesses that true anthemic feel that so few songs do.
“Undertone” follows it up, and as the shortest Inside Out song and one of the more linear ones, it is the EP sleeper. More demented feedback and tremolo swells signal the opening (have I mentioned Vic’s guitar sound on this is perfect?), which turns into a Quickness-like metal-tinged chunky riff that would single handedly help destroy hardcore over the coming years by countless terrible imitators trying to do the “groovy slow metallic hardcore song.” The result of that bastardized style was a lot of basement shows filled with bowl haircuts, striped shirts with back packs, and the heartfelt tap-your-chest-with-your-hands-while-convulsing-in-the-same-standing-position-and-look-like-you-are-on-the-verge-of-tears thing.
But here, that style is still fresh and perfect, and it is also interesting to note how this is also very similar to what Walter was doing with some of the early Quicksand songs, and Morello would end up doing with RATM in countless songs about the Zapatista. From that chunk riff, the song out of nowhere goes into an almost Infest-like paddle blast beat freak out part that even Zack can hardly keep up with, before reverting back to the chunk riff. Before you know it, it is over.
“By A Thread” is actually pretty melodic and shows a DC influence creeping in – which you know all of these dudes were worshipping. Bratton opens it up with a signature Bonham triplet fill which, yeah, again cements him as a God, Zack actually sings to a degree, and Vic keeps it pretty calm, respecting the more rhythm driven aspect of the tune and Hayworth’s finger-played bass lines. But of course he gets his time to shine (His ego gets his time to shine? Sorry, couldn’t resist), and during some type of calm-down bridge, he busts out a lead that sounds like something Eddie Janney may have played after listening to Maiden for an hour or so. Overall, this song never really hits level ten like the first two tracks.
Another observation is how these guys made it a point to not always end a song on a nice clean note…there is often some type of feedback burst or sloppy dischordant off timing signaling the end of the track (and usually the beginning as well). Not that this is anything unprecedented or unique in music in general, but it is another subtle move on this record that shows it is not a clean cut, paint by numbers, think-inside-the-box hardcore EP.
To be continued…
Vic using a mic stand to help create that patented Inside Out noise, Photo: Ken Salerno
Thursday, February 26, 2009
Two records you should own
Aside from Kiss, the whole early 80’s Detroit Hardcore scene was the first music to really capture my imagination as a kid. My older brother was bringing all those seven inches and issues of Touch and Go home as they were coming out, and the combination of the two totally blew my 10 year old brain. I can still recall sitting there for hours staring at the photos on the Negative Approach lyric sheet. Those pictures looked like a riot in a subway car or something. This packed room of bald heads with the occasional body floating above the melee. Although the images seemed so foreign and frightening to me, I still had this feeling in my gut that I wanted to be there. My frustration in not being there to witness it first hand has resulted in me drying many a pen in writing about that era. Swindle magazine published something a year or so back and I am currently working on a book about that scene that will eventually be published by Revelation sometime before the next time Dom Deluise is ready for swimsuit season.
So when I saw Tim and Gordo put up a poll on favorite early Touch & Go releases, you knew I had to butt my nose in and write up a little sumpin sumpin about the results. To no surprise, the mighty Negative Approach took the crown as the Detroit Hardcore faves of the first round of Touch and Go releases, and rightfully so. Both their seven inch and the ‘Tied Down’ 12” to me -and many others obviously- are the very epitome of Hardcore. All of NA’s tuneage is the purest vitriol known to man and if you ain’t hip to it yet or disagree with me, go suck it like a newborn. Comprende?
Die Kreuzen photo courtesy of: Touch and Go
I was pleasantly surprised to see the Die Kruezen lp take up the second place slot. It seems in the past few years this record has started to garner the respect it deserves and I couldn’t be happier. Dan Kubinski’s screech combined with guitarist Brian Egenes’s metallic heave has always been something that’s made my life worth living. I saw these fuckers jump on a bill last minute (they called the promoter Randy Now at 8 am the day of the show to see if they could play!) opening for the Meatmen in 1984 and it was downright frightening. I remember talking to them after they played and they were the sweetest guys on earth. Real confusing.
All the other records that took up the bottom rungs of the poll was all choice stuff as well. The beyond brutal ‘Jan’s Room’ seven inch by The Fix should make anyone with half a brain and an operating heart feel like a king. The tasteless funny punk thud of both Meatmen singles will always have a place in my dirty little heart and no matter what you little newbies go spouting on the internets, ALL NECROS JAMS ARE THE TITS AND SHOULD BE TREATED WITH RESPECT!!! If I hear the term ‘overrated’ used one more time about this band from someone who bought their first AFI 7” at Hot Topic, I’m cracking skulls. The whole early 80’s Midwest is where the whole thing started to boil and where the aesthetic of Hardcore came to fruition. The shit influenced everything from Youth of Today to Sonic Youth and I’m glad to see the Double Cross crew give it some exposure. – Tony Rettman
John Brannon of Negative Approach
Negative Approach – Tied Down: 159
Negative Approach – EP: 154
Die Kreuzen – Die Kreuzen: 36
The Meatmen – Crippled Children Suck: 13
Necros – Conquest For Death LP: 12
The Fix – Jan’s Room: 9
The Fix – Vengeance/In This Town: 7
Necros – Necros: 6
Necros – EP: 5
Process of Elimination comp: 4
The Meatmen – Blud Sausage: 2
Necros – Conquest For Death EP: 1
A Negative Approach set list courtesy of: Bill Danforth
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
The mighty BL’AST! break it down
Frank has been in touch with us and is always sending us some cool stuff. We combined a couple things, including a very cool offer on his part. Read on… -DCXX
So the other day I was browsing my local record store and came across a used copy of BL’AST! “It’s In My Blood.” So I bring it to my tattoo shop and ask the guys if they have ever heard this release. Not only had they not heard it, they had not heard of BL’AST! Mind you, both guys have Sick Of It All tattoos, as do I, but that is a story for another day. So I prepare them by telling them “this is the greatest Black Flag record that Black Flag never recorded,” and then I cranked the volume. It is also my favorite BL’AST! record by a landslide. Clifford could match Henry Rollins’s intensity anytime they played, and Mike Neider even had a Dan Armstrong guitar like Greg Ginn. Now don’t get me wrong, Flag were a great and mighty band in their own right and I have seen both bands at their best, but BL’AST! stands strong on their own. So the cd starts playing and my one commrade says he is reminded of the Co-Mags and Flag, and to be honest I never thought that, but understood where he was coming from. Hell, SST signed them so they knew.
Clifford Dinsmore with BL’AST!
Anyway, this record is solid from start to the finishing track, It’s In My Blood, it kills and has stood the test of time, and listening to it again only brings back great memories. There would be shows where you just knew there was gonna be trouble and you were on edge all night. Well, every time I ever did a show with these guys it was a good time, great people all around. One of those bands you always looked foward to seeing and hanging out with. And man could they bring it live. Very comparable to the best live bands of their time, and somewhat under rated or under appreciatted, I don’t know which it is. I often would wonder if these guy were from NYC or Detroit, would they have had more street cred? Yeah so Santa Cruz doesn’t sound as gritty as some other places…well it spawned these guys and the history of hardcore would be less without them.
I hope Clifford stills surfs, he was a great surfer and a good friend and I am glad I found this gem. I am sure many of you do have it, but for those who don’t…seek it out.
Big Frank at Folsom City Ink
Back to tattooing…even before I was into hardcore, there was there a time when I was very little and loved to skateboard, got sponsored, and competed for many years. Fast forward to hardcore in the mid eighties. My way of giving back to skateboarding was by hooking up any pro skaters anytime I was running a show. I hooked up everyone you can imagine: Jay Adams, Jim Muir, Tony Alva, Steve Alba, Tony Hawk, Cab, Grosso, Gonz, Hosoi, and too many others to remember. One time either The Cult or Guns N’ Roses played in Santa Cruz and I think I hooked up about 30 skaters, good times.
So now I have been thinking that with all the people who seem to read your site, I think it is time for the updated hookup. As many may or may not know, when I quit working shows I had already started tattooing, and I have been doing this professionally for over 15 years. So, I want to hook up as many people in our scene as possible. Obviously, I cannot do these for free, but if you mention Double Cross and can prove to me serious involvement in the hardcore scene, you will get a great deal. Actually just mentioning Double Cross and being cool will go a long way in getting you a great tattoo from someone who believes in what you believe in and has similar tastes in music and lifestyle. I have always wondered why I don’t tattoo more hardcore kids, and I think it’s just a matter of exposure and people knowing I am still out here, I’m part of your history, and that I still care deeply.
So anyone out there, old friends from bands, new friends, all are welcome. You gotta be 18 with ID, and I work outside of Sacramento at Folsom City Ink. The number is 916-355-8008. So if you’re in the area, call or come by. See you soon. -Big Frank
A sample of Big Frank’s work
A good friend of mine and Blackspot band mate Scott Lytle helped design a really cool skate shoe for Adidas and Rev. It’s one thing to be on the outside of a scene to try to capture it’s coolness in a shoe, but to actually be involved in hardcore and be friends with Rev and the bands involved gives the shoe and the company’s designers much more credibility. The 3 guys involved even give short stories about themselves related to HC. I won’t get into the description of the shoe, or the Rev Comp it represents, (you can read the flyer and see the pics) in fact the shoes aren’t even for sale. To me it’s more like showing off someone’s art work, but it’s something that can and will actually be used and not just hung on a wall. I’m lucky enough to get one of Lytle’s 2 pairs. I told him I don’t want them to get wrecked by wearing them, he said “F that! I wear mine every day, I would much rather they get used than stuck in a closet forever!” The bands and logos on the shoe show the time period I think we enjoyed Revelation Records the most, and the shoe of course represents skateboarding. That’s why I thought this would be cool. - Sean Fader
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