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May 17th, 2012 by Larry

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The story behind the Mouthpiece “Cinder” video

Following my recent Mouthpiece entries in anticipation for the release of the discography next month (January 20th, 2009 on Revelation), I thought I’d take a stab at giving the back story on the “Cinder” video. Next week I’ll get back on track with the album cover stories. Hope you dig. -Tim DCXX

Late December of 1995 Mouthpiece put together a week and a half long West Coast tour with Orange County, California’s 1134. We had come off our first U.S. Summer tour and 1134 were just signed to New Age Records, so there was some momentum and excitement happening. We packed into Mike Hartsfield’s trusty New Age tour van, played in Corona, Hollywood, Long Beach, Berkeley, Sacramento, then headed north to Seattle and then the extreme opposite south to San Diego. After all was said and done, we piled a ton mileage on that New Age van and had ourselves a great time.

On our last day in Huntington Beach, which was where Mike Hartsfield and the New Age HQ was housed, we had no show and essentially, a day off. As I remember, previous to this day, we had talked to Hartsfield and put this final day aside to talk business. When I say business, the plan was to spend the day at the New Age warehouse, talk royalties and make plans for our next record. As exciting as all of that may have sounded, Hartsfield also threw out the offer to shoot a video. Shoot a video or talk business… we opted for the video.

Chris, Sean, Jason, Tim and Matt in a limo on the way to the airport

Over the past few months prior to this West Coast tour, our guitarist Matt Wieder and myself had talked about what we would do if we ever got the opportunity to shoot a video. Of course we wanted the token chaotic live footage, but we also had an idea of shotting a video in a elevator. The idea of all of us jam packed into a elevator, playing hard and going off seemed like it could be kind of interesting. When Hartsfield pitched the idea of actually shooting the video, we told him what we had been thinking. It just so happened that Hartsfield had a friend whose father owned a hotel, a hotel with an elevator of course.

We loaded the van with lighting, stands and a few pieces of camera equipment, picked up the hotel connection friend and headed to our destination. The hotel we were going to shoot the video at was somewhere over near Disneyland. I remember once we got there we kinda claimed a room to store our stuff in, then headed to the elevator to size up our shooting space. The hotel happened to be pretty dead that day, so we didn’t really have to worry about hotel patrons getting in our way or us getting in their way. The coast appeared clear, so we set up our equipment in the elevator while Hartsfiled got all the camera equipment prepared.

Before we knew it, the action had begun. We had decided upon the song “Cinder” and played through a boom box tape player and tried to play along as well as we could. We did shoot after shoot, some with all of us in the elevator, some with only a couple of us in there and then some shots with each of us alone. I remember Hartsfield telling us to be as natural as we could and just try to act like we were on stage. It was pretty much impossible to act natural while packed into this bite sized elevator, but we did what we could. We also wanted to figure out some way or another to pull our roadie Ed McKirdy into the video, so we worked in this ridiculous plot line. Ed would pretend to be a hotel patron trying to get from one floor to another via the elevator, but couldn’t get into the elevator for reasons unknown to him. All the while we would be seen playing in the elevator. Seemed funny at the time.

Me, Sean and Matt hanging at McKirdy’s apartment checking out the Ressurection 7″ on CD. Matt had just bleached his hair and Sean was actually bleaching his hair as this photo was taken.

Thinking back, for the most part, we always tried to keep Mouthpiece percieved as a serious band. Although we were all the biggest goofballs around, we were serious about hardcore and what we were saying, so we tried to generally keep the two sides seperate. Sometimes we let a little of the goofy side slip out and this video for “Cinder” was a prime example of that. We weren’t getting paid for it, we weren’t going to increase our record sales by doing it, we didn’t care. Shooting a video just sounded like a fun thing to do and that’s all that mattered, bottom line.

Unfortunately, with Hartsfield being the guy that filmed the video and the guy that would edit the video and the same guy that was running an active record label, the footage fell to the wayside. By the end of 1996 Mouthpiece would be broken up and the video seemed as if it would never see the light of day. Truthfully there probably wasn’t much of a point to releasing the video once we broke up.

Jump ahead to 2004 and talk of putting together this Mouthpiece discography had begun. Jason and I thought it would be great to try and get all the unedited “Cinder” video footage from Hartsfieild and attempt to put the video together ourselves. We were thinking that once the video was finished, we could toss it on the cd as interactive bonus material. Turned out Hartsfiled offered to finish the video himself. It took a few months, but considering this discography has taken close to 5 years, the wait for the video was nothing.

Never forget the Ferps, never forget the tiuerps

So there you have it. Although the video has made it to YouTube and has been seen by a minimal of 30,000 plus people, it will end up appearing officially on the discography. As off time as my vocals are to the song and as goofy as the video ultimately is, it was a lot of fun to do and seeing it brings back nothing but good memories.

Follow the link below to Revelation for information regarding the Mouthpiece – “Can’t Kill What’s Inside” discography
Revelation Records

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Photographer Spotlight: Ted Liscinski

Judge at The Ritz, NYC, alternate shot from this show ended up on the Revelation re-press of the “New York Crew” 7″, Photo: Ted Liscinski

Ted Liscinski is a guy who may have flown under the radar to many, but in the late 80s he was snapping some great photos of the best HC bands of the day, his shots appearing in Thrasher, on records, and in tons of fanzines. When Tim and I started DCXX, he was one of the first guys we decided we wanted to get in touch with.

In the meantime, I discovered that my boss at work had actually gone to punk and hardcore shows in NJ in the late 80s and was from Hillsborough, NJ. This was especially shocking, as he is just the type of guy you would never guess had dabbled with anything from the underground. Our hardcore discussions are sporadic and never too deep, mostly because he self-admittedly followed fringe hardcore bands loosely, and stopped going to shows by 1990. Strangely enough though, he brought up the name Ted Liscinski as a childhood friend. Small world.

So with that, we finally got through to Ted, he hooked us up with some photos, and hopefully there will be more to come. For now, here’s Ted’s take on his time around the HC scene. Another great who was behind the lens… -Gordo DCXX

The CB’s crowd at a Sunday matinee, Photo: Ted Liscinski

I suppose my first real exposure into the world of hardcore would have been with my first show I ever saw. The Dead Kennedy’s last tour ever was for the album “Frankenchrist,” and at the time I was OBSESSED with them. A bunch of friends and I piled into a van and headed to City Gardens in Trenton on a Sunday night in October to see our first “punk” show. My friend’s dad, Ken Salerno, was there taking pictures. Looked like a good idea to me, and made for a good excuse to meet the bands. So, after a few more shows, I bought my first camera for $50 from a friend. I would bring that camera to every show I could. Soon, I was getting rides with Ken and we’d shoot together. On school days, I would learn to develop my film and make prints in the art studio at Rutgers Prep, where I went to school. If the results were ok, I’d simply send the prints off to the bands or the labels they were on. Sometimes the film would get ruined during processing. I was learning and made some heartbreaking mistakes in the beginning, but I kept on it. It was fun.

A driver’s license provided the freedom to go all over to see some great shows. I started venturing into NYC for a few CBGB hardcore matinees. By this time I was into all sorts of hardcore, from NYHC style tough guy bands (Cro Mags, AF) to DC crybaby hardcore bands (Dag Nasty, Embrace), pop punk (Descendents) and anything really different or weird. I can remember a City Gardens show with Uniform Choice, 7 Seconds and Token Entry being especially exciting. In addition to all the punk I was into, I was listening to all the new rock bands coming up that were interesting (Jane’s Addiction, RHCP, GnR). This was about ’88-’89.

Arthur with Gorilla Biscuits at The Ritz, NYC, Photo: Ted Liscinski

At about this time, most of the bands in the area started aping the NYHC style. Soon, teenage boys from upstate, Connecticut and NJ were trying to be the Cro-Mags. There was a lot more fighting. Everyone was wearing baggy jeans. The bands were all similar in style. Sadly, there were less and less girls at shows. Hardcore became a homogenous, gym locker sausage hang. And the music was getting worse.

All of these thoughts stayed with me after seeing a CBGB matinee with Soul Side, Icemen, and Krakdown. I walked down Bowery after the show, disappointed with the crowd’s reaction to Soul Side (silence) compared to that of the other bands. Once again it was a room full of sweaty, shirtless dudes beating the shit out of each other. It had very little to do with music, art, or progressive thought. It was, however, kind of stangely homoerotic, in an unconcious way…all those dudes…

I started edging away from the scene after that. There were some great bands that came a little later (Bouncing Souls, Deadguy) but as I got older I was discovering the millions of other styles of music in the world, and whatever residual teen angst and anguish was fading fast…I was getting laid.

That’s my story.

Vision at Scott Hall, Rutgers University, NJ, Photo: Ted Liscinski

Monday, December 15, 2008

Billy Rubin – The Truth…

A young Dan O’Mahoney and Billy Rubin, Photo courtesy of: Billy Rubin

Tim got an email from Billy Rubin recently, and in their exchange, Billy wrote what is below. I think you can say that this is a little bit of an introduction to what will be some ongoing material with Half Off / Haywire’s notorious singer…
-Gordo DCXX

Regarding the “feud” between us and Youth of Today, or more specifically, me and Ray, I can speak for the Half Off guys when I say that we never really cared. It was always amusing to us that people were so worked up over something they knew nothing about. There was probably more of a hustle bustle over Half Off being critical of the SE movement. At the time (in that scene) being critical of SE was like a US citizen being critical of our foreign policy in Iraq (2 years ago). I was chastised for not being “hard”. Or in my analogy it was like being unpatriotic.

Drugs & Booze The Sure Way To Lose

The Jeff Banks/Dave Mellow story you posted is great. I have my own Dave Mellow story…

I grew up in a kind of upper class area called Huntington Harbor. I was isolated from punk rock. There was a shopping center about 2-3 miles from my house with a bar in it. Every now and then a punk band would somehow pull off playing there. I would keep tabs on the place and skateboard over there (I was too young to drive) to stand outside and try and listen through the walls to hear live punk music. This would have been 1983 or ’84, which made me about 14. At any rate, I was over there one time all by myself, a little rug rat, probably wearing a Husker Du t-shirt or something, with my ear pressed to the wall.

This older guy (in his 20s) came over to me and was really nice but a little buzzed. He told me he was in a band. He was almost too nice. It sorta scared me. He drove a beat up blue van and had long hair. He came off like a serial killer or a child molester. He gave me a demo tape from his band. I had no idea what the name of his band was and there was no label on the tape. I didn’t even know what “demo” meant. Well of course, the guy was Dave Mellow and the band was UC.

A few months later, I started high school at Marina High. I met Dan O’Mahoney…now that is a story in itself. Dan and I became best friends. Dan always wore this weird “UC” shirt. I mean he wore it every fucking day. With the same pair of jeans that had “die kreuzen” stenciled on them. One day Dan drove over to my house (with someone named Paul Theriault) to pick me up (I still wasn’t old enough to drive). We were driving around in his car (a metallic green Nova) and he had the same demo tape playing!

Thats when I figured out that Dan’s UC shirt was the same band as the child molester guy’s. Then I figured out that UC stood for Uniform Choice. Shortly after that, Dan and I began stalking Pat Dubar. Dan knew Dubar from Mater Dei high school. Dan had been kicked out of Mater Dei which is why he was at my high school. Later I came to know Dave Mellow as one of the nicest, most authentic guys ever. His brother was my age and I knew him from high school as we lived nearby each other.

I also worked with Dave and Big Frank doing the concerts way before Frank befriended Jeff Banks. The other guy that was around back then was a photographer named “O”. He later was in a band called Olive Lawn…I could type your eyes out telling you those stories.

Dan and Billy, Photo: courtesy of Billy Rubin

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Peter Cortner of Dag Nasty on The Crucial Three

Dag Nasty at City Gardens, Trenton NJ, Photo: Ken Salerno

I’ve been talking with Peter Cortner, Dag Nasty’s 3rd frontman and one of the geniuses behind Dag’s “Wig Out at Denko’s” album. As much as I love the Dave Smalley “Can I Say” era of Dag, I almost equally love the “Wig Out” era with Peter. I was able to catch Dag Nasty on their “Field Day” tour at City Gardens, which I believe was in May of 1988. Without question, Dag’s set that night was and always has been a highlight of my show going years. My only regret from that night was not buying a “Field Day” tour shirt and those Dag Tags they were selling. I’ve probably searched high and low for those Dag Tags over the past 20 years and have never come across one person that still has them.

Although I have never come across those Dag Tags, I did find Peter and thought it would be cool to get to the bottom of a few Dag related mysteries. The first thing I asked Peter about was the story behind the song, “The Crucial Three”. I know I’ve always wondered who “The Crucial Three” were, so it’s pretty cool to get the story straight from the horse’s mouth. Expect more content from Peter Cortner in future DCXX entries. Thanks again to Peter for sharing this with us. -Tim DCXX

The Crucial Three is about an intensely fucked-up relationship I had in high school between me, my best friend and my girlfriend (at the time). The two of them and I are the “three,” and the song is about how trying to forget about them meant forgetting a lot about myself. The “I don’t wanna lose” line is about loss of identity, respect, friends and memory, as well as simply feeling like a loser. I wish the song was about something cooler; if you thought it was about Ian, Rollins and Jesus Christ then forget I said anything!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The History Of Brad X and Doggy Style

At this point if you’ve been reading DCXX, you’ve no doubt come across a Joe Nelson contribution. The guy simply knows how to tell a great story. This time around is no exception, as Joe fills us all in on the history of Orange County, California’s Doggy Style and their frontman, Brad X. So gather the family, light up the fire place, grab yourself a cup of hot chocolate, get comfortable with your lap top and lay into another classic Nelson told tale. -Tim DCXX

Brad X and Doggy Style could only have come to be during the mid 1980s and in a place such as Orange County, California. In many ways they ARE the quessiential O.C. band for that period in time; incorporating skate thrash, comedy, funk, sex, and straight edge into one unit. Their shows were never the typical gig like the ones with 4 young dudes banging on their instruments while 1000+ other young dudes ran around in a big circle…they were events.

From the comedic stylings of their charismatic leader, Brad Xavier aka Brad X, to the random costumes, to the 500+ donuts hurled into the crowd during their semi-local hit “Donut Shop Rock”, to their “Green Period”, to the Doggy Hop, to the Go Go dancers, to the Mohawk helmets, to the “X” on the hand, you never knew what to expect. Some 10 years later, bands like Green Day and Blink 182 used the comedic punk thing along with some Descendents styled riffs to sell tens of millions of records. In 1985 Doggy Style used the same gimmick to sell tens of thousands…well, allegedly.

Their first release was 1984’s “Work As One” 7 inch which was pressed on the infamous Doug Moody’s Mystic Records. I remember picking it up and thinking, “what the fuck is this”? “Is it Straight Edge”? “Are they a Skate Band”? “What’s with this weird Congo line dance called the “Doggy Hop”? A couple months later I got to witness them for the first time, and left that show even more confused as to the true nature of their identity. At that show Brad X sported a day glo outfit, including the standard painter cap with flipped up bill, and hopped around stage singing to a combination of thrash and funk. At the time only the Red Hot Chili Peppers were known around L.A. for playing that type of music. Nobody considered the Peppers a punk band so watching Doggy Style kick out that same stuff in front of a the punk crowd, and get a great response in return was unique.

Watching them that night was like if Ian MacKaye, Weird Al Yankovick, and Flea decided to form a band under the management of P.T. Barnum. Then when “Donut Shop Rock” came on, the D.S. cronies threw garbage bag after garbage bag of donuts onto the “hard” L.A. crowd, effectively turning the pit into a glazed ice rink. The show deteriorated into a 10-minute food fight between the punks and skins, the L.A.D.S. and Suicidals. I was sold!

The next record to come from the quartet was the “Side By Side” record, released by the all mighty Flipside. Now there is no disputing Flipside was a classic zine, probably the best ever for that time period, but it was also no secret that the people who ran it were the self proclaimed “scene cool patrol”. They were also quite dismissive, almost to the point of mockery towards the new straight edge kids that had started to pepper the L.A. scene. Aligning themselves with somebody as overtly straight edge as Brad X only added another weird variable into the Doggy Style equation. Never the less, “Side By Side” was released in 1985, and is still a pretty fair record. The songs are style-wise and topically all over the proverbial map, especially when it comes to stuff like “Do It Doggy Style”, “Nympho”, and “Ladies of Neptune”. I would challenge anybody though to find melodic straight edge songs for that era better than “Be Strong”, “Straight”, “Enough”, and “Still Hope”. It’s classic O.C. musicianship; from the Rikk Agnew octave chords, to the forbidden beat, to the Kevin Seconds-esque melodies. Those songs are exactly what O.C. punk/hardcore was all about in the mid 80s.

The band also was able to release a pretty professional video for the song “Donut Shop Rock”. MTV even played it a few times during their program “Basement Tapes” which at the time was a major coo for any band, let alone a local punk band. The band also became the first O.C. straight edge type band to tour the United States, another seemingly impossible feat. Of course it was also around this time that Brad X decided to paint everybody in the band from head to toe the color green. I guess it was his punk rock answer to Picasso’s “Blue Period”. NOW…it was finally going to start getting weird. The shows started to feature Go Go dancers, as well as some sax wielding, bongo playing black dude painted up like The Great Kamala.

The best part of “the expanded” roster was Brad used it to get all the straight edge kids into his shows. He’d spot me and my crew in that pre-pre sale 2000 person line and come pull us out. “Ok you’re the kazoo player, you’re on triangle, you play the French horn, and you are our resident break dance team.” Their fake band roster alone was like 18 people deep per show. Next to Pat Dubar of Uniform Choice, Brad was the king of sneaking edge kids into shows.

Sometime in 1987 another Bizzaro World move happened and the band split into 2 warring factions. The guitar player Ed Caudill, and bass player Ray Jimmenez formed the band Doggy Style II, while Brad X, and his musical soul mate drummer Lou Gaez created…ummmmm…Doggy Rock. DS2 actually released a fairly decent record more known for its Led Zeppelin II cover parody. Doggy Rock, which was filled out by Dag Nasty’s Brian Baker and Doug Carrion, took a swing for the fences with the release of “The Last Laugh” only to realize that The Beastie Boys had rounded those bases a year ago. The record was at most, remembered for having…well…Brian Baker on guitar…and for containing a free condom. Both bands fizzled pretty quickly with DS2 lasting long enough to squeeze out another record so forgettable I can’t even remember its name.

Both Doggy Styles were officially dead and buried by the end of the 80s. Brad X, however, survived and thrived. He went on to become L.A.’s most successful club promoter forming something coined The Artist Groove Network. His most famous club was the Roxbury, and yes, it’s THAT Roxbury. At one time or another Brad made sure to employee most of the straight edge kids from back in he day. It was as if he was sneaking us into shows again, but shows of a whole different nature. He gave us weird jobs like handing out VIP cards to the hottest girls we could find, or by making sure Alyssa Millanos party was completely taken care of for the evening. “Just be her personal valet for the night and I’ll give you an extra $100” was the order. Ok Brad…ummm do I say “yes” or “thank you?”

We all worked either there, The Boogie Lounge, or his SICK 6 story club called Orbit which was located in the then crack infested downtown L.A. area. A club where one could always find Janet Jackson and sometimes even Madonna dancing it up on one of the 4 dance floors with 5000 other people. It sure was a surreal moment in my 23-year-old life to work the VIP list for a Brad club, which of course always featured the entire cast of 90210 in it. He was absolutely the “guy” to know for L.A. at the time. It would take an entire book to recap those days, and one that only he could write to do it any sort of justice.

To cliff note it just a little, when the movie “Swingers” came out – which was the autobiographical look at then unknown actor Vince Vaughn’s life, Brad’s comments to me more or less were “That movie was boring…those dudes are soooooo weak…they shouldn’t have made a movie about Vince and his friends, they should have made one about me and mine.” He was 10,000% right!

Another thing Brad became known for was the talk show circuit cult hero Johnny Bravo. From Jerry Springer, to Rikki Lake, to Montell Williams. Equipped with his fake mustache, dark sunglasses, and surrounded by a harem of slutty girls, Brad went on more then 10 day time talk shows pretending to be the lead advocate of something he called “Anarchy Sex”. He and Lou also still played music throughout the years mainly in the very average punk band “Humble Gods”. Created mainly to take advantage of the major label punk rock buying frenzy in the 90s, Brad was able to secure the band a reported mid six figure advance just by being, well, Brad.

Then at the end of that decade in another stroke of marketing savvy, the still straight edge Brad (Daddy) X formed a white, suburban, tribal tattoo sporting, backward baseball hat wearing, monster truck driving, rap, rock, stoner group named The Kottonmouth Kings. Google them! The rest now I guess is just history, well a history of course as being scripted by Brad X.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Dischord’s “State Of The Union” comp poll results

Fugazi at Maxwell’s, Hoboken NJ, Photo: Ken Salerno

We like switching things up here at DCXX and thought it would be interesting to dive into a time and place of D.C. hardcore that we haven’t really touched on much. In my opinion this was not exactly the easiest poll to vote on, looking at this roster of bands, there’s quite a few that really stand out.

Personally I went with Soulside, they’ve always been one of my favorite D.C. bands from that era. I can still hear that bass line that opens the song “Bass” on the “Bass / 103″ 7”, classic. But like I said, so many great bands to choose from… Scream, Ignition, King Face, Marginal Man, One Last Wish and of course Fugazi to name a few. As you can see, Fugazi seems to have taken the cake, can’t fault that.

Of course when DCXX photo contributor, Ken Salerno noticed this poll, he pulled out the big guns and hit us up with a ton of great shots from various bands that appeared on the comp. As always, big thanks to Ken and also thanks to everyone who voted. -Tim DCXX

Fugazi at Maxwell’s, Photo: Ken Salerno

Soulside at Maxwell’s, Photo: Ken Salerno

Ignition at City Gardens, Photo: Ken Salerno

Marginal Man at City Gardens, Photo: Ken Salerno

King Face at City Gardens, Photo: Ken Salerno

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The story behind the first Mouthpiece 7″ cover

First pressing, original Mouthpiece 7″ cover

With the release of the Mouthpiece discography looming on the horizon for January 20th 2009 on Revelation Records, I thought it might be interesting to explain a few frequently asked questions. One topic that comes up from time to time would be the story behind our different record covers. Over the next two months, leading up to the release, I’ll do my best to tell those stories and some others.

Appropriately I’ll start with the story behind our first 7″ cover. This would take us back to sometime around May of 1991. We recorded our first 7″ for New Age Records at a studio in South Jersey called Why Me?. Why we chose to go there was simple, Turning Point had recorded their “It’s Always Darkest Before The Dawn” LP there, 4 Walls Falling had recorded their “Culture Shock” LP there and Edgewise had recorded their “Silent Rage” 7″ there, to name a few. At the time it just seemed like a no-brainer for us to record there. Once we did indeed record, the next step was to figure out how exactly our 7″ was going to look. Now I had pretty much been the exclusive layout / design guy when it came to all the fanzines that I was apart of in the past. When we started Mouthpiece, I naturally took on the designer roll. I had always been into the aesthetic side of hardcore, so when deciding how we wanted to represent Mouthpiece I really wanted to get it right.

First pressing, Mouthpiece 7″ back cover

Jason (Mouthpiece drummer) and myself were taking graphic arts classes at a vocational school when we were in high school. We also had two other friends that were taking the same class with us, both straight edge kids we hung out with, went to shows with, etc. At one point, around the time of us recording our 7″, Jason and our friend Scott came up to me showing me a photo that they had ripped out of a book. The photo captured the aftermath of a bar that had been destroyed by Carry Nation.

Now if you aren’t familiar with Carry Nation, I’m referring to the actual lady, not the band who did indeed get their name from the lady. Carry Nation was a woman that strongly opposed alcohol in the pre-Prohibition days. On many occasions, Nation would enter an alcohol-serving establishment and attack the bar with a hatchet. In 1865, Nation met Dr. Charles Gloyd, and they were married on November 21, 1867. Gloyd was by all accounts a severe alcoholic. They separated shortly before the birth of their daughter, Charlien, and he died less than a year later in 1869. Nation attributed her passion for fighting liquor to her failed first marriage to Gloyd.

Knowing Carry Nation’s story and seeing this dark, almost creepy photo of a destoryed bar, Jason, Scott and myself all agreed that this photo had to be used on the cover of the Mouthpiece 7″. It’s not that we were some crazy, hard line straight edge kids that were going to be smashing up any bars ourselves, but this photo just connected with us. It almost had an abstract look to it. If you saw the photo, it definitely wouldn’t be a surprise if you had no idea what it was and in a way, we kinda liked that.

Carry Nation cartoon that depicts art similar to the scene on the cover of the Mouthpiece 7″

So there we had a start, how we were going to put it all together, I had no idea. That’s when I started doing some research. I remember at the time Revelation was on the verge of releasing the Supertouch “The Earth Is Flat” LP. Rev had a Supertouch ad out that I recall thinking was super cool looking. Basically all black background, white, bold, lowercase text and a white border going around a black and white photo. I believe the photo was one that we’ve actually posted on DCXX in the Andy Guida interview. It’s an abstract looking shot of Supertouch frontman, Mark Ryan’s face up close. So I knew I really liked that design right from the start, by seeing the ad. Then when the actual Supertouch LP was released, the look of that record weighed even heavier on me. They basically carried over the same font, carried over the white border idea, threw in some color, threw in some cool looking hand written song titles and boom, they had a unique, dark, powerful looking record.

Another record that I recall inspiring me was the Mission Impossible 7″ on Dan O’Mahoney’s Workshed Records. Out of all honesty, I couldn’t tell you what the band sounded like, but I remember liking their use of purple ink on a stark black and white record cover. Mission Impossible also used the the font Compacta, which is the same font Mouthpiece went on to use, only we used it in the lowercase version and Mission Imposible used it in all caps.

The Supertouch LP and Mission Impossible 7″ that inspired the Mouthpiece 7″ cover

So basically, I grabbed design ideas from the Supertouch LP and the Mission Impossible 7″, mixed it all up and came out with an aesthticly dark looking straight edge 7″. Now if you’re looking at the Mouthpiece 7″ and wondering where this Mission Impossible inspired purple ink is, you’re not going to find it. Unfortuantely, when all was said and done and we opened our box of records that came straight from New Age, Mike Hartsfield at New Age decided last minute to save a little cash, skip out on the purple ink and go with a straight black and white print job. The purple ink was supposed to be used on the Mouthpiece logo on the cover, the … straight edge on the back cover, the side one and side two hand writing (all hand writing was done by Ressurection drummer, Chris Daly) on the back cover and maybe a couple of other details that I can’t recall. The only place you can see a sign of the purple that was to be on the cover, would be the matching limited purple vinyl. At the time I remember being slightly bummed, but ultimately the record still looked cool and we were just psyched out of our mind to have it released. -Tim DCXX

Monday, December 8, 2008

Jake Jacobs Wigs Out

Dag Nasty with Peter Cortner at City Gardens, Photo: Ken Salerno

New DCXX contributor Jake Jacobs hits us with a piece he wrote a few years back on Dag’s classic second album, sharing his personal coming of age with the record that seems to split people down the middle… -Gordo DCXX

The first time I heard Dag Nasty’s Wig Out At Denko’s album, I hated it.
It was 1987. The previous year, I had purchased and fallen in love with Dag Nasty’s Can I Say LP, which is an extremely significant slab o’ wax in my life both because of the music and lyrics as well as being the very first record that I ever purchased at Zed Records in Long Beach, California (the punk and hardcore record store of the day). Anyway, I had just turned 17 and gotten my driver’s license that summer and some friends of mine and I were driving somewhere and listening to the title track off of Wig Out. I remember thinking to myself, WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS SHIT??? Just one year earlier, Dag Nasty had released one of the best punk/hardcore records I’d ever heard in my life! How the hell could they have fallen off in ONE YEAR’S TIME? I placed the majority of the blame for the weak soundingness of Wig Out squarely on the shoulders of Peter Cortner (the singer on Wig Out who’d been recruited to replace Can I Say’s singer, Dave Smalley) and quickly forgot about it.

Brian, Doug and Peter of Dag Nasty, Photo: Ken Salerno

Fast forward 4 years…

In 1991, Dischord Records very kindly released both Can I Say and Wig Out At Denko’s on one CD at a very affordable price for me, at the time a 20 year old full time college student with a part time minimum wage job. I’d been waiting impatiently for 5 long years for Can I Say to be released on CD, so I purchased it shortly after it hit the racks. After listening to Can I Say a number of times, I decided to give Wig Out another try.

For some reason, I enjoyed Wig Out even more than Can I Say and began listening to it on a daily basis. In fact, to this day, whenever I listen to Wig Out, it makes me think about 1991 and what a fantastic time in my life that year was. Some of the highlights: hanging out with my brother Evan and my best friend Mike all the time, their band ICE playing their first real shows, seeing 411 (my all time favorite Orange County, California band) play live at least 5 or 6 times, seeing my good friend Joe do his first shows as the singer for Triggerman (another favorite local band of mine), getting a shout out for my 21st birthday at a show from Greg Brown (the singer in Blackspot, yet another favorite local band of mine), going out to eat at Denny’s after all the shows, discovering Vinyl Solution in Huntington Beach and shopping there on a weekly basis – the list goes on. No other album brings all of those great memories back to me in vivid detail like Wig Out does.

Cortner belts it out, Photo: Ken Salerno

But it has ANOTHER very important significance in my life…

It was Monday, April 19th, 2004. Just two days before, I had taken the biggest step that I’d ever taken before in my then 33 year old life by marrying my wife Christy. With the very minor exception of the rain that came down during the ceremony (which was outside, natch), it was a beautiful wedding and definitely one of the best days of my entire life (if you want to feel like a celebrity for a day, get married). Anyway, I was still riding the wave of euphoria of having gotten married while I was in my car driving to work that Monday morning (because I was between jobs and working as a temp at the time, I couldn’t take time off for a proper honeymoon that week). As is customary whenever I drive by myself anywhere, I reached into the cassette compartment in my car and popped the first cassette that I got my hand on into the tapedeck.

Brian Baker, Haagen Dazs and hair bleach, Photo: Ken Salerno

Which just so happened to be an album called Wig Out At Denko’s by a band called Dag Nasty.

The first album that I listened to the weekend after my wedding day.

As I drove to work that morning with side A of Wig Out playing full blast in the tapedeck, I thought about two things and two things only:

1. I had just gotten married to the best girl in the entire world.
2. 1991 – the best year of my 20s.

Dag doing it at City Gardens, Cortner style, Photo: Ken Salerno

Sunday, December 7, 2008

The first Better Than A Thousand show 4/26/1997

Thinking back, the first time I remember hearing Better Than A Thousand was from Matt Smith (Contention Fanzine / Rain On The Parade). I was hanging out at his apartment in Philadelphia and he was helping me design a flyer for a show Hands Tied was going to be playing with Shelter in New Jersey. At that point, the cassette that I heard was a rough, early mix and probably only about 3 or 4 songs. Matt was friends with a few of the D.C. kids that did back ups on the record, so I’m pretty sure that’s where he got the tape. We listened to the tape at his apartment, but it was hard to really get a legitimate feel for what I was hearing. We were so focused on the flyer, that I just asked for a copy of the tape and figured I’d really lay into on the ride home.

That half hour drive home from Philadelphia to Trenton, I must have listened to those few songs over and over again at least ten times. Hearing Cappo once again scream phrases like, “What the fuck?” just seemed so damn cool. I kept wondering if what I was hearing was a possible second coming of Youth Of Today. I mean, it was Ray Cappo fronting a fast straight edge hardcore band and in my eyes it’s hard pressed to find anything much cooler than that.

Jumping ahead a little bit, my band at the time, Hands Tied, were asked to play what was going to be the first Better Than A Thousand show. April 26th, 1997 at the Safari Club in Washington D.C.. Damnation ad, Floorpunch, Hands Tied, Better Than A Thousand and Envy, for that time, that was one heavy hitting show. I was always psyched to play the Safari club. With the club’s rich history and all the great Mouthpiece shows I remember playing there, it was by all means, one of the best places to play. The D.C. crowd was always super warm, welcoming and enthusiastic and really made Mouthpiece feel like D.C. was our home away from home.

As this show grew closer, the excitement began to grow exponentially. Few shows do I recall the excitement level being raised to this level and the main reason was based around this being the first Better Than A Thousand show. You have to realize, in 1997, there was this huge resurgence of fast straight edge hardcore that was coming back into the picture. The metal drenched stomp core of the mid 90’s was becoming second fiddle to bands that sounded more like Youth Of Today and less like Pantera. With Ray Cappo stepping outside of his Shelter persona and fronting a band like this again, people were PSYCHED.

Pulling up to this show, I’ll never forget hearing about the frenzy that had broken out when Better Than A Thousand pulled out their t-shirts to sell. They had printed up a limited amount of shirts for this specific show to celebrate it being their first. Assuming they were probably selling the shirts for $7 or $8, word was some people that missed out, were offering $20 or more to those that did get a shirt. Pretty crazy to think these were brand new shirts for a band that had no record out and had yet to even play a show.

Once Better Than A Thousand hit the stage, all eyes were on Cappo. What was his stage presence going to be like? What was his voice going to sound like? What kind of between song banter would he be spouting off? No one really knew. For me personally, because the tape I had only had 3 or 4 songs, for the most part of their set I spent it on stage watching intently and taking it all in. Then for the final song of their set, a surprise was dropped on all of us… “Take A Stand”.

I’ll let the video tell the rest of the story. Big thanks to Larry Ransom for yet another original and priceless contribution. Also I’d like to dedicate this entry to all the D.C. hardcore kids that consistently rolled out to all those Safari Club shows and made them ones to remember. You know who you are. -Tim DCXX

BETTER THAN A THOUSAND – First Show from Larry Ransom on Vimeo.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Uniform Choice @ City Gardens, Summer ’87

U.C. at City Gardens, Trenton NJ, Summer ’87, Photo: Ken Salerno

I went to my first real hardcore show in June of 1987, of course it was at City Gardens, which was a mere 7 minute drive from my parents house. Problem was, at 13, my parents weren’t all that thrilled with the idea of me leaving my nice little suburban neighborhood and venturing into the ghetto of Trenton. City Gardens was basically surrounded by low income housing projects and my parents knew the area well because my father grew up in those exact projects. Prostitution, drug dealing, murders, beatings, robberies, etc., it all went down on the regular, in that very area that City Gardens sat in the middle of. Aside from the neighborhood, my parents also weren’t too keen on the idea of me hanging out in a dumpy punk rock nightclub. But like any kid discovering something new and quickly becoming wrapped up in it, I would do whatever it would take to get myself out to these shows. Unfortunately, making up stories, stretching the truth and straight up telling lies became my only option. Because of all of this drama, it was extremely hard for me to make it out to as many City Gardens shows that I would have like to have gone to.

One particular show at City Gardens that I distinctly remember being asked to go to was the 7 Seconds, Uniform Choice, Justice League, Token Entry, Hogans Heroes show in the summer of 1987. Marc Maxey from Justice League wrote about this very show for DCXX earlier this week. I remember Tony called me that afternoon of the show and asked if I wanted to go. We jokingly talked about how terrible Uniform Choice were probably going to be since it had become general knowledge that by 1987, Uniform Choice had basically gone rock. In my head I was thinking, “fuck yeah I wana go, 7 Seconds… Uniform Choice, why the hell wouldn’t I?”, to Tony I said, “Eahh, U.C. is probably going to suck, I’ll see 7 Seconds again… I’ll pass”. Truth was I knew I had to do stuff with my family and there was no way I could get out of it. To make myself feel better and probably sound cooler to Tony, I acted like I wasn’t interested. What a fuckin’ idiot. I remember sitting over my cousin’s house thinking about nothing but that show and tearing myself up for not figuring out a way to go.

Of course when I talked to Tony the day after the show, he told me it was great. I specifically recall him telling me that Justice League were awesome and how he had bought one of their ’87 tour shirts. I also recall him telling me that Uniform Choice were actually pretty damn good and played all the classics off of “Screaming For Change”. Pretty much all of 1988 and 1989 I would think to myself how much I regretted not doing whatever it took to get to that show. I mean, what a line up… what an incredible line up?

I asked Tony if he could jot down some memories of Uniform Choice’s set that night. As always, Tony pulled through and provided us with this insightful and entertaining piece. Let me not forget to give thanks and praise to Mr. Ken Salerno for these sick U.C. shots and all of his photographic contributions in general. So again, thanks Tony and Ken… your contributions are greatly appreciated and we couldn’t do this stuff without you guys. -Tim DCXX

Dubar gives a little mic action to the Trenton crowd, Photo: Ken Salerno

Looking at these Salerno snapped shots, my mind floods with many memories from this show. First off, I remember being stoked to be seeing both Justice League and Uniform Choice on the same bill. Since both bands were from the west coast of the country, they only existed in the ether regions of fanzines and vinyl for me. To think I was going to be anywhere near the intensity that burned off those pictures from the poster that came with the ‘Screaming for Change’ LP was too much for my little brain to handle. But the day of the show proved to be a bitter pill to swallow.

I remember sitting up in the DJ booth of City Gardens when some dude in all black with a full head of hair came up and asked my brother (the DJ) if he could borrow the flood lamp he used to cue up records. My brother told him he sorta needed the light to do his job and couldn’t let him have it. The dude then told my brother that he was with ‘the band’ and needed the light to sell shirts. When he walked away, my brother and I gave each other a ‘Who the hell was that guy?’ look and that was that. Next thing I knew, this guy proceeded to unvail abuncha Uniform Choice shirts and tape them to the right side wall of the club. My brother and I watched in disbelief as he proceeded to pull out more and more. It was the Hardcore equivilent of watching abuncha clowns come out one by one from a tiny car. By the time he was done, the entire wall was full of Uniform Choice shirts…at least fifteen different designs just as Mark from JL stated a few days ago on this very site. At the time, it seemed to be sorta overboard for me, but as I sit and type this, I wish I splurged all my money that night on every design in every style (SS, LS, hoodie, etc.) they had so I could be sitting pretty with an extra knot of cash in my pocket via eBay and maybe a very tight ‘A Wish To Dream’ shirt resting on my spine.

Dubar… hair not too long, not too short, but still screaming for change, Photo: Ken Salerno

After Justice League delivered a very stellar set, I was pumped to finally see the mighty UC in the flesh. I remember standing up front when I saw the same full haired/black sporting dude who was selling the UC merch come up and grab the mic. WTF??? Could this be the same bald headed dude from the record? I then looked around the stage and saw the rest of the band had long hair, berets, bandanas hanging from every nook and cranny, etc. It might sound very strange in this day and age where technology has provided you with knowing every time someone in Mind Eraser wiped their ass, but back then, communication ran very slowly in the Hardcore grapevine. For all I knew, UC were gonna come out with shaved heads to the bone sporting Zed’s purchased Minor Threat shirts. So when they started to play ‘Use Your Head’ and Dubar began singing in a weird, nasaly voice, I went into the back of the club and sulked. Looking back, it obviously wasn’t that big of a deal, but it really bummed me out at that time and place. I remember hearing that bootleg 7″ someone did up of the City Gardens set in the early 90’s and thinking it sounded great. Perhaps if they didn’t sport the black, I would of enjoyed myself that night. Whatever.

Another memory I just had was somone up front for U.C. sporting a mesh baseball hat with ‘Straight and Alert’ on it in those ‘mall style’ fuzzy letters (i.e.-like the ‘Intensity Crew’ shirts) Anyone else remember that? -Tony Rettman

U.C. at City Gardens, Trenton NJ, Summer ’87, Photo: Ken Salerno

U.C. at City Gardens, Trenton NJ, Summer ’87, Photo: Ken Salerno

A7 Reunion piece

Jimmy Gestapo, photo: Vince Outlook

It’s very rare in the world of freelance journalism when you get to write about something you really have a passion for. When Rob Harvilla (the music editor of the Village Voice) threw me the bone of writing a pre-show piece on the A7 reunion coming up this Saturday at the Knitting Factory at 6 pm (plug! plug!) I was stoked beyond belief. Within a few days of getting the assignment, I had tapes and tapes of everyone from Jimmy Gestapo to Jerry Williams talking about the glory days of early 80’s NYHC. The unedited interviews collected for writing the piece will eventually see their way to the Double Cross site, but for now, here’s a link to the article in this week’s Village Voice. Hope you dig – Tony Rettman

Click Here For Village Voice A7 Piece

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Up Front at Fenders Ballroom, August 4th 1989

Among all the incredible bands playing in 1989, Up Front were right up there. With new frontman Roger Lambert, former ENUF drummer, Ari Katz taking over the kit and of course mainstays Jon Field and Jeff Terranova, in my opinion this lineup was the best this band would come to have. Fortunately I caught Up Front twice with this lineup and I can assure you, live it was something special.

Up Front guitarist, Jon Field, supplies DCXX with this video and story from Up Front’s set at the monumental final Youth Of Today show, August 4th 1989 at Fenders Ballroom in Long Beach, California. -Tim DCXX

In the Summer of 1989, Up Front were at the peak of a roller coaster year, having released our first LP in January, then immediately suffering the loss of our singer Steve, then our drummer Jim one month before tour. We were in the midst of a July/August tour that for short stretches had us paired with Unit Pride, GB, Insted & Release, but would lose our singer Roger and drummer Ari before the year was out. It was also the height of the Youth Crew/Revelation years, with amazing shows every weekend. Following that Summer many bands broke up and the scene started to fragment with more fights at shows.

I remember at various points on the tour hearing different lineups for the August 4th show at Fenders Ballroom we were set to play. It eventually settled on us, Youth Of Today, Gorilla Biscuits, Insted, Supertouch, Judge, Bold & Chain Of Strength. Needless to say we were really fuckin’ excited about this show. We had heard many stories from our SoCal friends about Fenders over the years, from all the great bands that had played there, to the 2000+ crowds, to the legendary fights, stabbings and shootings form local gangs like the Lads, SBS, Suicidals, etc. We were told not to make eye contact with anyone and we should be OK. Scary stuff for a bunch of teenagers playing the West Coast for the first time, and I think it made us even more psyched to play.

The show was just fantastic all around, we were there with all our east coast friends, but playing on a bigger stage in front of 4 times as many people, and with all of our SoCal friends there too. The best part was the crowd. about 30 seconds into the first song it was like the scene in Another State of Mind with all the stagedives set to “Violence” from Youth Brigade. People were running behind me, falling on the floor like Angus Young and flailing around, it was fucking insanity. Roger took full advantage of the craziness, doing dozens of dives, even hanging from the ceiling at once point. To me this is what a hardcore show should be. I’d rather have kids running into me and knocking the cord out of my guitar than standing around with their arms folded nodding their heads. After our set we decided to have a litte fun and run backwards against any circle pits we saw, which did not go over well with the Cali kids.

I think Fenders’ gang days were over by the Summer of ’89, because I don’t remember any violence at all that night. Oddly, the only thing resembling a conflict the whole night was with another band. Chain Of Strength borrowed our equipment, and during Never Understand Chris Bratton went crazy and knocked/kicked over Ari Katz’s drums. Ari was pissed. You can see him in the video for a few songs after, standing right next to Chris looking like he wants to kill him. Then Ryan did sort of a knee slide up to the front of the stage, and I watched my new guitar head go sailing through the air as his short guitar cord yanked it off the cabinet… was like slow-fucking-motion, with me yelling “Noooooooooooooooo.” Thankfully, the head survived without a scratch.

About 6 months after the tour, we got a video of this show. Jeff, Tim (our new drummer) and I gave names to some of the people that came on stage the most: Circle Jerks skanker, NYC skinhead dude, Infest stomp guy, etc. Even though the quality sucks it’s still one of my favorite HC videos almost 19 years later.

The fact that this ended up being YOT’s last show was just the icing on the cake. I could name a dozen or more other great shows I’ve played that stand out to me over the years, but this one always seems to come out on top.

And if anyone has a first generation copy of the video from the show, let me know!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Icemen’s New Record

Marco of The Icemen at The Ritz, NYC, Photo: Boiling Point

Well, it’s a new release of their earliest material, and it is great. Marco tells us about this release, which dropped on Halloween and was put together in killer fashion by Reaper Records. Be sure to pick it up…
-Gordo DCXX

What are these songs and where exactly did they come from?

These are two of our earliest songs, written in 1984. “The Iceman” was our first recording ever and was from the first of our sessions at Nola Penthouse Recording studios in NYC. Noah began working as an intern there while he was still in high school and quickly impressed the owners with his talent and in no time he was working as engineer there. Absolutely amazing old school studio, large live room with wood floors, high ceilings, and a ton of great equipment. A wealth of history, even Sinatra recorded there. Noah had earned their trust and often he was left in charge of sessions and to lock up when done. So it was that he started bringing us in late night to record The Icemen. Through 1984-1986 we recorded multiple sessions there and were frequently in there mixing and overdubbing.

As mentioned “The Iceman” was our first recording there and the tracks included vocal takes by both John Gamble and I. “It’ll Be Your Grave” was from a later Nola session in 1985 which also included the first recordings of “R.I.P.”, “Cheap Demands”, and “No Guts No Glory”. The No Guts No Glory version was actually used on the 1991 R.I.P. EP with vocal overdubs by Carl. By mid 1985 John Gamble had been dismissed from our band and so all vocal tracks from the Nola Sessions were Marco.

What gave you the idea to release this now and how did everything come together?

That’s a bit of a long and winding road. Noah came to me with the idea of mastering the four songs from the R.I.P. EP in spring 2007. Though mixed and released in 1991 the tracks were never mastered and so sound quality could certainly be improved. This idea led to discussions about all our recordings, most of which have never been released. We decided to start by releasing our first recording “The Iceman” which had originally been intended as a single all those years ago.

The next step for us was to take the tapes – yes TAPES – and have them transferred from analog to digital so we could begin working with them in Pro Tools. Most of the tapes were 2″ reels with a few 1″ as well and they ranged from 24 to 15 years old. The age of the tapes was a potential problem and transferring them was a risky proposition, no guarantee that they would play properly and not degrade. It wasn’t until December of 2007 that we had Alan Douche at West West Side Music handle the transfers and we feel lucky it all worked out as well as it did.

Having our tracks digital we moved forward with Noah mixing the songs, then back out to WWS where Kim Rosen mastered the tracks and we had our audio ready for release.

All good but how and with whom would we release with? Patrick Kitzel from Reaper Records had been in touch with me for about a year at that point and had made clear he would really like to do something with us. I had pondered using other labels but never pursued that to any extent, Patrick and I hit it off and we just felt comfortable working with him. Great guy and it was wild to hear of his appreciation for The Icemen from all the way back when he had his band True Blue in Germany. Having someone with this kind of enthusiasm for The Icemen and an understanding of our history made working with him an easy choice, really was just destiny.

Mackie destorys with The Icemen at The Ritz, NYC, Photo: Boiling Point

Tell us about the layout and artwork…

Once Reaper was confirmed we still needed to come up with design for the record, since these were our earliest recordings we wanted to give it a vintage Icemen feel.

I knew I wanted to use the earliest rendition of The Icemen “Ghost”, the simple stencil like version was the first I had made way back in the day. That OG Ghost was the first incarnation and in years that followed was refined and drawn with more detail, that later version was used on one of our first t-shirts.

I kept the rest of the design simple old style and we were ready to roll.

Can we expect any other unreleased Icemen material seeing the light of day?

Certainly possible now that we have all our recordings transferred and archived digitally. There are obstacles, many of the songs are in need of vocal and guitar overdubs due to unfinished states or unusable tracks, this would of course take much time and dedication.

A big challenge would be the vocals question. Would we use the existing vocals on the Nola recordings 1984 – 1986 (Marco)? Doubtful. The later sessions from 1990 – 1993 vary between no vocal tracks to Marco, Carl and even Gary Lee. Most of these vocal takes are unacceptable. That brings us to the question of who would do the new vocal tracking, and that’s a difficult question, one that we are currently unable to answer.

Any other Icemen news in the future?

At the moment we’re focused on doing the best we can to make this release as successful as possible. If the response to The Icemen’s resurgence continues to be favorable as it has then expect to see more news in the future!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Mark Maxey on Justice League at City Gardens

Justice League at City Gardens, Trenton NJ, Summer 1987, Ryan Hoffman with what would become his patented jump by the time he was playing in Chain Of Strength, Photo: Ken Salerno

Ken Salerno floated us some really great City Gardens pics of Justice League from summer 1987. While these shots tell a great story, we figured we should get JL’s own Mark Maxey to sum up some of his memories involving this show and that particular tour. Great band, great photos, great story…enjoy!
-Gordo DCXX

Wow, these pictures really bring back a flood of memories of that show and that tour in general. This was a version of Justice League that doesn’t get talked about much these days, probably because I was fronting the band, and not Jon Roa or Casey Jones.

It was the spring of 1987, and we had finished recording the Reach Out 12″ that was coming out on Positive Force Records. With the new record set for a July release, we started planning on another summer tour. Kevin Seconds offered to book it for us, which sounded a lot easier than doing it ourselves, so we said OK. A few weeks before we were set to go, we found out that Kevin hadn’t booked anything but that he was going to add us on as the opening act for the 7 Seconds summer tour. That suited us just fine! It was around this time that Fred Mahintorabi decided he wanted out of the band. After seeing the toll that a summer tour took on Ryan’s and Skip’s relationships the prior year, Fred wasn’t ready to leave his girlfriend (now his wife) for 7 weeks. It was also decided that I should concentrate on vocals, so we got our roadie John “Whitey” McKeown to play bass, who was better than I was anyway.

Marc and Ryan both fronting Justice League on this final tour, Photo: Ken Salerno

I sold some of my bass equipment and bought a guitar so I’d have something to do on the songs that Ryan sang. We still needed a lead guitarist though, since neither Ryan nor I were very adept in that department. After trying out a couple guys, we settled on Matt Baker, who was Chris’s friend from school. Matt was only 17 at the time and headed to Boston for college in the fall, so he was never meant to be a permanent member. He’s the guy with the curly blond hair whose face you can never see in all of these pictures. We had a lot of fun that tour telling everyone he was Brian Baker’s younger brother. Dave Stein from NY flew out to LA to join us as our road manager / roadie / merchandise guy. We rented a U-Haul trailer (quite a luxury, compared to the last tour!) and the six of us piled in the van the morning of July 4th, 1987.

Four weeks into the tour we were pretty much on our game, with the exception of one really bad show at Maxwell’s in New Jersey. On August 2 we played the biggest show of our tour at City Garden’s in Trenton, NJ. 7 Seconds, Uniform Choice, Justice League, Token Entry, and Hogan’s Heroes and what looked like about 1000 sweaty kids. Aside from a night almost 2 years earlier at the San Jose Convention Center with Social Distortion and The Vandals, this was the biggest show we’d ever play. We were amazed when we loaded in looking at the Uniform Choice merchandise table. They must have had 15 different shirts available, which was about 13 more than any other band I’d ever seen up to that point. I think they told us they were averaging over $1000 a night on merch, which blew us away. We were happy if we sold 5 shirts at $7 apiece! Screaming For Change had come out the prior year and was selling like mad, but by now they had all grown their hair out and were playing songs from their upcoming “rock” album. They did great this tour, but the next time around I heard they were miserable.

Chris Bratton with Justice League at City Gardens, Trenton NJ, Summer 1987, Photo: Ken Salerno

We weren’t listening to much hardcore this tour, but we did have a copy of Age of Quarrel on cassette that we would put on before most shows to sort of get us in the right mood for a show. I don’t remember much about our set that night, other than thinking it went really well. Looking at these pictures, I have to think we were pretty “on” that night. There was a guy there videotaping (you can see him in a couple of the pics) with some really professional equipment who promised to send us a tape but we never got it. If anybody out there has seen or knows the whereabouts of this video, please get in touch!

I see Nicole Straight Edge up front in a couple of the pictures. She and a couple of the Up Front guys were sort of following our tour around the east coast for a couple weeks. 

I remember after our set going out to the parking lot and being surprised to see Brian Baker there. I’m still not sure what the heck he was doing in New Jersey for that show, but we talked a bit, discussing Uniform Choice, and the new Scream LP, neither of which seemed to impress him much.

The City Gardens show, a CBGB Sunday matinee, and a 9:30 club show in D.C. were the definite highlights of the last Justice League tour. Reach Out ended up not coming out until October, well after we were home, and on our way to a rather unceremonious break up. The record didn’t go over well with the hardcore crowd, as we were way more into Husker Du, The Smiths & REM than we were into Minor Threat by that point. Ryan and Chris then formed Chain of Strength a year later, and everyone pretty much knows their story.

Justice League rocking those Joe’s monitors for all they are worth, Photo: Ken Salerno

Justice League with air and hair, Photo: Ken Salerno

Drum risers aren’t only for drummers, Marc clearly discovered that with this one, Photo: Ken Salerno

Justice League, Reach Out Summer Tour 1987, Photo: Ken Salerno

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