Sunday, November 2, 2008
Undertow, Seattle Straight Edge
We’ve been itching to get some tidbits from the Seattle hardcore scene up here on DCXX, so we figured what better source than former Undertow frontman, John Pettibone. Try to cut me down, try to break my spirit, but you will not break me down… -DCXX
When/how did you get into HC? What was the Seattle music landscape like at the time?
Around 1984 I would say, and it was from skateboard magazines. Thrasher would have interviews with bands and my favorite skaters would have band stickers on their boards and they were wearing their shirts and that’s how I would find out about Suicidal, Black Flag, Negative Approach, AF, Minor Threat etc. My first show was Black Flag in ’85. I was lucky to see the tail end of the first era of hardcore. Seattle had a great local punk/hardcore community…tons of bands, great record stores and a local access punk show called Bombshelter videos. The downer was shows were shutdown so fast that touring bands had a hard time coming here. We went across the water to shows in Bremerton at Natasha’s Ballroom.
What was your first dabblings with a band and when was this?
Some friends and I started a straight edge band in high school called Point of Honor and we were a bad version of Youth of Today. This was 1987.
What were the first incarnations of Undertow and who was involved?
Undertow came out of the ashes of Refuse and what happened was they kicked their bass player out and asked me to play with no knowledge of how to play. We were all the little side kicks from the dudes in Brotherhood and Refuse would play with them every weekend. I was a senior in high school and the others were 2 years younger, this was ’89.
I played bass, Mark guitar, Ryan drums and Joel vocals.
Brotherhood is the band most think of when it comes to Seattle straight edge. Any good Brotherhood stories? Ever see them play? What type of legacy (if any) did they leave behind for Seattle SE kids?
Saw them play a bunch and Ron the vocalist opened me up to so many bands and records. He would tape me a ton of stuff every weekend. He had the best record collection. Brotherhood came out of False Liberty and they put Seattle on the map. They did a couple US tours and were known all over. If it wasn’t for Brotherhood there would be no scene here, but only a handful of kids today even know or care, which is sad.
John hanging with the almighty Danzig
On the opposite end of the spectrum, most people would assume that if you were into music in Seattle in the ealy 90s, you had some involvement with Sub Pop/”grunge”. Did you ever take any interest in this? What was that time there like?
I always liked the “heavyer” sounding bands like Soundgarden, Melvins, Tad. Saw all of the bands that “broke out” in small clubs and basements. That was a great time for Seattle. The music scene was rich and very diverse. No two bands ever sounded the same.
What were your favorite shows while in Undertow and why?
So many! In Seattle, I could say the best was when we played with The Accused, Poison Idea, Neurosis, Born Against and Rorschach. These were bands I loved and we were able to play with them and become friends. Our first tour was with Jawbreaker down the West Coast and that was awesome. Their first record “Unfun” was just coming out. Playing with Deadguy was huge cause Tim Singer is one of my biggest influences along with Dwid from Integrity who we played with a year before in Chicago. The tour with Unbroken was the best time though…we were brothers and just going for it.
John with Himsa
Favorite bands to play with and good stories from being on the road?
Just named some but others are Heroin, John Henry West, Crud is a Cult, Statue, Bloodlet, Struggle, Clikitat, Antioch Arrow, Lifetime, Channel, His Hero Is Gone, Grief, Final Conflict, so many. It was just awesome to drive across country and lose yourself and make your own rules and meet new people by this common thread.
What are your favorite Undertow songs years later and why?
There all a piece of me at that time and I cherish them.
What are you doing musically today, and where does your time in Undertow fit into that?
Well I was in Himsa for the past 9 years, we just played our last show a month ago. I play in a 2 local bands now called I Am the Thorn and Heiress. Undertow was the biggest and brightest part of my past. Why that band existed is the same reason I am who I am today… still straight edge and still pissed at the world. Days slip….
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Civ on the drum riser at City Gardens, Trenton NJ, 6/17/90, Photo: Ken Salerno
Civ shakes it, Al Brown rocks the V’s and Helmet plays it upside down, Photo: Ken Salerno
Wally finishes what he started, Photo: Ken Salerno
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Ed McKirdy gives the scoop on Triple Threat’s “NJSE Edge Shirt” as created by artist and Pagan Babies drummer Bruce Boyd
Pagan Babies Knuckle Ring | Art: Bruce Boyd
For me hardcore has always been a multi-sensory experience. While the music and the message are ultimately paramount, nothing can touch that intangible initial reaction, that immediate, know-it-when-you-see-it connection born out of certain bands record and shirt artwork. From Pushead’s infamous rendition of destruction on SSD’s “Get It Away” to the cryptic (now iconic) flaming head on Dag Nasty’s “Can I Say”, select imagery left in me a deep-rooted impression I would forever associate with the music’s identity and zeitgeist.
Bruce Boyd shredding the kit for The Pagan Babies | Photo: Ken Salerno
One band whose record covers and shirts made just as much of an impression on me as their music is Philadelphia’s most underrated band: The Pagan Babies. From their first rehearsals in the Fall of 1986 to their last shows in the Winter of 89, the Pagan Babies left their mark on the East Coast Hardcore Scene leaving just two records in their midst: The “Immaculate Conception” 7” and their one and only full-length, “Next”.
While I got into “Immaculate Conception” enough to keep it in steady rotation, I’ll never forget the intense, visceral connection I felt when their graffiti-covered follow-up LP, “Next” dropped like a spray-painted subway bomb at my local record shop.
Combining the best elements of urban danger and hardcore hardness-with-class, “Next” just looked cool as fuck. I remember thinking it was so sick that the artist who created this chromatic, instantly-classic piece of art was also the band’s drummer. And the best part was… the record was every bit as great as the cover.
Pagan Babies, “Next” LP, Hawker Records | Art: Bruce Boyd
Fast forward roughly 20 years and The Pagan Babies decide to get together for a one-off reunion show. All that was on my mind that night, other than checking out their set, was to finally meet Bruce Boyd face-to-face… and bug him to do a piece for my band, Triple Threat. As it turns out, Bruce was incredibly cool and surprisingly into the idea of laying it down Pagan Babies style for TT.
Early sketch of Triple Threat’s NJSE Shirt | Art: Bruce Boyd
Tim (TT singer/DCXX co-editor) and I explained to Bruce what we were after which was essentially a straight edge hybrid of the Pagan Babies graffiti crossed with some pissed looking Release style hooded soldiers in Champion sweatshirts. The final product is the culmination of 20 years of influence and appreciation executed flawlessly by Bruce B., the same guy who had created the (in my mind) masterpiece that is the cover of “Next”.
While we don’t generally try to sell stuff here, we thought in this case you might want to grab one of these suckers while they’re still around.
CHECK OUT THE SHIRTS HERE
Triple Threat, “NJSE” Shirt | Art: Bruce Boyd
Ed McKirdy | Livewire Records
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Erba dishes out more, this time turning to the inevitable topic of Dwid and Integrity. Buckle up for this one…
Dwid and early Integrity…I’m sure you could write a book. What would be the best stories in the book?
I have a lot of mixed feelings about him. He and I were very close at one time. He is a master manipulator and could be at times very loyal and so funny you would have tears streaming down your face. Devastating razor-sharp wit. He’d zero in on your weakness and absolutely destroy you. He’s incredibly smart and an outstanding self-promoter and terribly insecure, but to cut to the chase, it boils down to a simple truth: he was a rich boy and a bully.
There’s so many times I think about in the past that I should’ve just stood up to him and punched his teeth out but I didn’t because he was intimidating, it would’ve ruined Face Value in Cleveland, we lived together so that situation would’ve been a mess, etc etc. He’d become super-close to a person and use them for whatever he could get out of them and then immediately treat them like shit once he got what he wanted from them. Being a bully is so pathetic, I hated those motherfuckers in school and got into music to escape that, then I end up being closely associated with the biggest one I’d ever met.
Dwid with Integrity in Philadelphia, Tim DCXX with a crowd climb sing along, Photo: Traci McMahon
Funny thing is, they’re never all that tough, anyhow. I saw him fight girls (Albany @ the Schenectady Eagles Club), cripples (Brian from The Artichoke in Cleveland…granted, that dude was a total asshole and I couldn’t blame Dwid for throwing him down a flight of stairs, but still, talk about grabbing for the low-hanging fruit), punk out a girl I had over the house on a date, an old semi-retarted truck driver when we worked at Miceli’s Dairy, etc., but I sure as hell never saw him fight Paul Schlacter, Scum, my brother or Tony Hinton. It would’ve been very ugly and over in 30 seconds.
But on the other hand, he could at times let his guard down and not be a total prick but be a loyal and funny friend. But it was far too few and far between to outweigh the totally shitty things he’d do to people that were nothing but good to him. I know if MY Dad died and that asshole made a mockery of it let alone put some shit like that on the lyric page to a fucking RECORD, he would’ve never been seen again cause I would’ve put a slug in his fucking eye. He ruined his band, who could’ve become the new Cro-Mags, but instead he picked fights FOR NO REASON with people he didn’t even know and thus they couldn’t tour, couldn’t really do shit. Why screw (or go around saying you screwed) your record label owner’s girlfriend? Why start a war with of all people the most thugged-out, for-real tough guys in HC like DMS? The guy’s unbalanced.
As far as stories, there’s so many of them…everyone knows the stupid ‘ear’ story, yes he really did go with a friend to the morgue where his friend worked and supposedly got an ear; I was sleeping and he knocked on my door and goes ‘hey Erba, lend me your ear’ and busts in with this awful smelling sandwich bag with something that looked like chewed-up gum in it, waving it in my face and laughing like a girl. That lasted about 10 seconds before I told him to get the fuck out; I was half-asleep and didn’t even realize what the fuck he was going on about. He then went down the hall to fuck with Jim Edge and Rich Vidal who were our other roommates. I think he tacked it to my door as well. Oooooh. If it sounds like a nothing story, that’s because it was. (ED. NOTE: THAT IS NOT A NOTHING STORY).
Dwid – Clenched fist to the man in the sky
One of my favorite stories is when he got his hands on an old-school stun-gun, the kind that shoots a bolt of electrical current across two contact points. He was so thrilled about his new toy, he went down to The Lift that night and you just knew he was gonna find an excuse to use it. He starts talking shit to some turtleneck-wearing douchebag at the club, they get about ready to box, and Dwid pulls the stungun on the dude and it was either low on batteries or just a cheap bootleg knockoff cause the guy he stunned just kinda stepped back, looked at him like ‘check out this motherFUCKER’ and broke his nose with one punch. Classic.
Another is when he lipped off to some black dude on Coventry and got his ass roughed up a bit, then he decided he was turning white power and went home and got his rap records like Shinehead and Kwame The Boy Genious and went up the street to Coventry and smashed them on the sidewalk. I’m serious, I can’t make this shit up. He had a knack for pulling beautiful girls and making them buy him all kinds of shit…clothes, cars, guitars…that’s how Aaron Melnick got that old JB Player that he used on the early Integ records. Dwid got my seconds from this girl McCall Bennett who I’m sure was hanging around me just to get to Dwid, like several other scene girls did (Kim L.,Tina, etc.) and she gave the guitar to Dwid and he gave it to Aaron.
Whether he actually banged Moon (Brummel’s girlfriend) or not was inconsequential…the point is, why would you do that or worse yet, NOT do it and say you did??? That was so stupid, and if Integ later bitched about being ripped off by Brummel, well, what the hell did you expect after your singer pulled that shit? That whole thing sucked because Moon was a sweet girl and a good friend of mine and Brummel’s sister was a super nice person too and neither ever talked to me again after he pulled that shit. Once again, I took the fallout from that asshole’s antics.
Monday, October 27, 2008
Since yesterday’s entry was a video from the Turning Point reunion in 1994, I thought it would be cool to post this video from 1989. It’s from Club Pizazz in Philadelphia PA, January 1989. Thanks to Jeremy Dean for posting this and giving me a copy of the full set. At some point I’d like to put a few more songs from this show up. I think this really represents Turning Point at their best. The demo had been released, the 7″ on High Impact had yet to be released, they were playing as a five piece with Steve on second guitar and to top it off, they played this show with another one of New Jersey’s finest, Release. On top of everything, Club Pizazz was an excellent club, one of the best places I ever saw a show at. Perfect stage for stage diving and when you watch this video you’ll see it was used for just that. Good stuff.
– Tim DCXX
I remember this show pretty well, it was Friday April 8th 1994. The club was called G-Willikers and it was in Pennsauken New Jersey. I had been to the club once before back in 1990 with my band Mouthpiece. It was one of our early shows that we played with Release. It was one of these bar band type of clubs, the type of place you’d expect a constant flow of cover bands playing “Sweet Child O’ Mine” to a room full of trashy toothless drunks. Not exactly the picture perfect club for a Turning Point reunion.
Going into this show I recall a few things that set the backdrop. Kurt Cobain had just killed himself on April 5th and I think it took a few days until they found his body. I remember being at the Turning Point show and the talk of Kurt Cobain’s suicide being discussed quite a bit. I also remember a week before this show our bass player from Mouthpiece, Dave Rosenberg got drunk at a party. I caught wind of it and pretty much immediately gave Dave the boot. As much as I loved the kid, Mouthpiece was without question, a straight edge band. If someone wasn’t on board, they were out. Because of Dave, we went through a few months where we didn’t know what was going to happen with the band. There was talk of us breaking up until we finally found Sean McGrath to step in and take Dave’s place. I also remember going to this show with a handful of friends, one of them being Sweet Pete. Before the show I remember sitting down in a pizza place with Pete and talking about how much we both loved pizza and how neither of us would probably ever go vegan. It couldn’t have been much longer than a week or two before Pete went vegan, me on the other hand, never did. I’ll stick with being a vegetarian.
As for the show, I loved Turning Point, they were one of my favorite bands. With that being said, after they broke up, some of the guys in the band defintely moved on and left behind some of those messages that seemed so important when Turning Point was still a band. The X’ed fists became fists clenching beer bottles and at the time, nothing could have bummed me out more. I had been a huge fan from the first note of the demo, on through the last note on the Turning Point / No Escape split. So going into this show I was bit unsure of how I felt. As much as I wanted to get another chance to climb on top of a crowd and sing along to one of my favorite bands, I wanted it to mean as much to the band as it did to me. Because of this, I ended up spending most of the set standing to the side being a spectator. I do recall forcing myself into the crowd during songs like “Thursday” and “Behind This Wall”, just because while Turning Point were together, they had yet to release those songs, so this was my first opportuntiy to actually sing along to those songs. I guess I kind of looked at that later era almost as a different band.
Looking back, I realize I probably should have taken the opportunity to just go out and have a good time. There I was in New Jersey seeing one of my favorite bands and instead of enjoying it, I stood there against a wall for the majority of the set. Now if I had the chance today in 2008 to see a Turning Point reunion, I definitely wouldn’t get caught up in what I did then. I guess age and experience has made me confident and comfortable enough with my own convictions to not worry so much about others. But hey, nothing I can do about it now and unfortuantely with the death of Turning Point front man, Skip, that was the last time I’d ever get to see Turning Point. At least I know that I did see them a handful of times when they were still together. One of the best for sure. -Tim DCXX
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Quicksand with Charlie Outface on 2nd guitar, City Gardens, Trenton NJ, Photo: Ken Salerno
I was planning on doing another Feedback Friday entry, unsure exactly of which photo I was going to choose and then I find these Quicksand photos sitting in my inbox this afternoon. Of course photographer extraordinaire, Ken Salerno does it again.
From the first time I heard that third generation cassette copy of the Moondog practice studio material, I was hooked. It was obviously something musically much different than I was used to hearing coming from these guys, but still hardcore and still great. Then when Moondog turned into Quicksand and that first 7″ was released on Revelation, I realized the change from Moondog to Quicksand wasn’t just in the name, but the music as well. For the most part, gone was that hardcore sound and what I was now hearing was a grooved out, rocked out almost Jane’s Addiction style band. Quite honestly, at the time I wasn’t so sure that I was buying it. Being such a hardcore purist and basically worshiping bands like Youth Of Today and Chain Of Strength, to hear something that had swayed so far away from that traditional sound almost didn’t sit well with me. With that being said, it probably took me three days and I ended up buying it hook, line and sinker. In the end I just couldn’t deny it. Whether it was a Gorilla Biscuits song, a Youth Of Today song or a Quicksand song, Walter Schreifels just knows how to write good music. Walter has continued to prove that into the 2000s as well with bands like World’s Fastest Car and Rival Schools.
With these particular two Quicksand photos, I thought it was interesting to see a few things. One, seeing Charlie Outface on second guitar, two, seeing Walter without a guitar and three, seeing Sergio with what appears to be a jump off the City Gardens drum riser. Most definitely three things I saw very little of, if at all, seeing Quicksand time and time again.
So there you have it, you know the drill. It’s Feedback Friday, so now it’s your turn to comment away. –Tim DCXX
Quicksand at City Gardens, Charlie rocks the sleeveless Slayer tour shirt, Photo: Ken Salerno
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
The mighty Raw Deal at CBGB’s, NYC, Photo: Boiling Point
As Double Cross has progressed over these past seven months, one thing has become increasingly apparent to me. As much as we’ve focused on a certain style and and era, what Double Cross is really about is documenting the hardcore experience. It doesn’t matter if it was 1982, 1992 or 2002, if someone has stepped to the plate with quality stories and quality content, we welcome it with open arms. Whether it was a show you went to, a show you played, a record or fanzine you bought, a pool party that had Gus SXE practicing his stage dives into your pool, or running into Barry Hensler from the Necros at a pizza shop, it’s all about the experience and how it’s told. Because of this approach that we’ve taken, I really believe that we’ve opened doors and shed light on information that maybe wouldn’t have been put out there.
With that being said, if you’re reading this and you have stories, memories or any sort of content that you’d like to share with us and the readers, please feel free to contribute. A good story accompanied by good photos is priceless. So if you’ve got an idea, feel free to pitch it to us and we’ll see if we can get it up here. Thanks for reading DCXX and we hope you continue to stick around follow the page. –Tim DCXX
Send any contribution ideas to: TimDCXX@gmail.com
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Chain Of Strength at City Gardens, Trenton NJ, Photo: Ken Salerno
On Wednesday October 8th, 2008, Anthony and Nathan from the newly released book Radio Silence, put together a Los Angeles book release party. John Joseph, Craig Ahead, Mackie and AJ busted out a Cro-Mags jam. Chris Bratton, Jon Roa, Jason Farrell, John Joseph, Mark Owen, Shaun Ross, Dan O’Mahony and Gavin Ogelsby took part in a Q&A. Also in attendance were members of: Chain Of Strength, Justice League, Swiz, No For An Answer, Insted, Amenity and the Gorilla Biscuits.
At some point during the event, since all the members of Chain Of Strength were present, Frosty’s brother Steve gathered them all up and snapped off a few photos. Thanks to Andrew Kline from Strife, he managed to forward me a bunch of the pics. I thought it would be cool to do a little “Then and Now” type feature with the current photos from the Radio Silence show and mix in a couple of old pics. -Tim DCXX
The Chain Crew, 10/8/2008, Photo: Steve Hertz
Alex Pain and Chris Bratton from Chain hanging with Mark “Helmet” from Hard Stance 89/90
The Chain Crew, 10/8/2008, Photo: Steve Hertz
Monday, October 20, 2008
Erba fronting Face Value at the Uni Sound Club in Reading PA, yours truly (Tim DCXX) with the fingerpoint sing along, Photo: Traci McMahon
Tony Erba delivers the goods again and dishes out more on the notorious Clevo hardcore scene of which he has been a long time staple. Hope you are digging this like we are…
Confront and Outface really started the SXE scene in this town. The first SXE band was YOUTH INC. which featured the Kuebler Bros.,later of Confront, Bob Zeiger (drums, later played with Domestic Crisis, Ringworm, Integrity and now I play with him in the DARVOCETS) and Jerry Beck on vox (who became a famous comic book artist, he did ICP’s comic). Youth Inc. played out of town and in Kent a lot. They became tight with a great band that became a Clevo favorite, Canada’s SONS OF ISHMAEL. That’s how I met the great Stephen Perry, who sang for M.S.I., they played the Smurf House (Sockeye and Hyper As Hell kids house in Kent) with CRUCIAL YOUTH!! Stephen went on to sing for One Blood and does the awesome EQUALIZING DISTORT zine and radio show in Toronto. A great man.
After Youth Inc. folded, it was Confront and Outface and False Hope that built the second-wave scene. They found halls and booked some great shows at this deli on Coventry called Irv’s, and at the old Ritz, and of course Diversion’s. Outface’s crew was called the Positive Posse and Confront’s was the One-Life Crew. The old guard (Guns, Offbeats, Starvation Army) were dying out, and even though Knifedance were going strong, Tom Dark (Knifedance, The Dark) had a rep as a dick, even back then, and wasn’t helpful to newer bands. I later lived with Tom for three years and played with him in the popular version of STEPSISTER and let me tell you, besides Dwid, I think he may be the worst person I’ve ever been involved with in punk. Anyhow, Steve, Tom, Charlie, the Kueblers, Scum and Spike really built this thing. They blazed the trail and left breadcrumbs for me to follow.
Erba with Face Value, Photo jacked from Good & Plenty issue 7
As far as who the best bands were that I saw come through and play Cleveland, that’s a wide-ranging question. I mean I could go on and on about James Brown @ the Front Row, the World Series Of Rock in ’78 @ Cleveland Municipal Stadium (my first show, my Dad took me, lineup was AC/DC, Lizzy, Scorps, Nugent, Aerosmith, Journey, and Ace), Toxic Reasons @ the Variety, BGK @ the Lakefront with Raw Power(!!!), Hawkwind @ the Empire, Motorhead, Mercyful Fate and Exciter @ the Variety, but I assume you mean shows geared to the readership of DCXX. So I’d have to say GORILLA BISCUITS, PROJECT X, BEYOND, JUDGE, LIFE’S BLOOD and CONFRONT @ Irv’s was certainly an all-time classic. $5. All those bands ON ONE BILL. No one had ever heard of Life’s Blood…but HOLY FUUUCCCKKK!!! Man they were fucking AMAZING!! PROJECT X were fucking HARD!!! Judge with Jimmy Yu on bass going berserk! What an unbelievable gig…everyone going insane and having a blast. Confront were at their peak and fucking absolutely destroyed. We all hung out all night, went to Kelly’s house, it seemed like summer would never end and the world was wide open and hardcore would always rule and we’d all be friends forever…I can’t tell you how much I miss it. Those were truly the best days of my life.
Other all-time classic gigs were DEAD KENNEDYS with The Dark @ the Variety, DRI and COC @ JB’s Down in Kent, DISCHARGE with the Plague @ Shadow’s (this was the gig where Discharge was touring for ‘Grave New World’ with their new glam-rock style that everyone hated and they opened with ‘Grave New World’ and crazy-ass Bob Sablack from the Plague was like ‘fuck THIS shit!!’ and ran onto the stage and decked Cal! And Discharge headed for the hills and that was the end of the show!), D.O.A, KNIFEDANCE and CONFRONT at the Cleveland Public Theatre (fatass Chubby Flesh steamrolled me and broke my ankle at that gig, summer of ’87), YOUTH OF TODAY, OUTFACE and CONFRONT at a rich girl’s party in Orange (her parents paid YOT to play their house, that’s where the pic of the YOT van with all the Clevo graffiti that’s on the ‘Disengage’ 7″ was taken, there’s some Erba tags there too!).
Face Value at the Uni Sound again, this time with both Tim DCXX and Rettman in for the sing along, Photo: Justin Moulder
As far as who I really hung with in the early Clevo HC days…I rolled with the Confront, False Hope and Outface guys when I moved to Coventry. I lived with Chris Smith AKA Scum who went on to Knifedance, Keelhaul and Inmates; Blaine Berr who’s sister Gretchen was hooking up with Porcell, then Dwid and Derrick (Outface and Sepultura) moved in. I mainly hung with the Kueblers (and still roll with Brian to this day, he’s bitter as hell and a great guy), Dwid, Chunky Flesh, Charlie (Outface and CIV), Steve Murad and David Evey (Spike from False Hope). We went to stupid-ass clubs downtown like 9 Of Clubs and The Lift for ‘progressive’ night and macked on Cure chicks and occasionally straight-edged our way into their pants. Ate a lot of pizza at CBP and started a lot of harmless trouble. Booked a million shows, went to Buffalo to see the NYC bands a LOT. Although with Dwid, there was always unneeded drama.
Confront, now that was a fucking fantastic, brutal, amazing, ass-kicking band. A huge influence on me. They were enthusiastic, nerdy yet hard, and a GREAT FUCKING BAND. They had earlier songs that should’ve been their first 7″ – they were asked to be on Schism, but I was told that Tom Brose felt they weren’t ready to record, or their songs were too cheesy, but I’m tellin you, “Macho Man”, “Together Forever”, “Stand Your Ground”, and particulary “X Marks The Spot” (man that song DESTROYED) were fast as fuck and catchier than crabs in Dwid’s bed (trust me I got them from rooming with him, or sleeping with the same girl). Confront taught me about DIY booking, networking, touring, how a hardcore song is SUPPOSED to sound, how a guitar in a hardcore band is SUPPOSED to sound (Brian Kuebler with his massive Marshalls and Les Pauls – best guitar tone (besides Gauze) I’ve heard in hardcore TO THIS DAY – he was greatly influenced by Tom Lyle of Government Issue, as was I).
Confront, before they became a joke, were an amazing band made up of great friends that were my bros. They were NEVER a tough-guy band, they were chubby posi-Jews from the Heights that just played loud as fuck and fast as hell and were all about the pizza, chicks and punk rock. Later, Dwid pulled his svengali act and got into Steve’s head and got him thinking he was all ‘hard’ and became ‘Mean Steve’. The Kueblers said ‘fuck this shit’ and quit in disgust. Actually what broke that band apart was that Steve started banging Kelly Ulrich who was Brian’s longtime girlfriend…she was an extremely wealthy girl from Mentor that had this amazing house and drove a BMW with plates that said ‘Kelly’s Beemer’…Steve has always wanted to be rich and drive fancy cars and bikes and he was entranced by her. She really fucked Brian over. It tore best friends apart and ruined a great band and shattered our circle of friends. I always though she was a plastic skank who bought her popularity, I mean, who wouldn’t hang around a (somewhat) hot SXE chick that had kickass pool parties every weekend and had Youth Of Today and Beyond play her parties? It was like 90210 or some shit. Hey, I was just glad to be included. Free food was always a plus! Brian told me he finally talked to Steve just this past summer. And this is 20 YEARS LATER!! So you can see how shitty this was. The latter-day versions of Confront were pretty bogus, Dave Lucas and co. were our pals but it wasn’t the same at all.
Another Face Value shot snagged from Good & Plenty issue 7, check out those snazzy Rev shorts on Erba
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Cover of December 2008 issue of Revolver Magazine
Thanks to Livewire board poster and former One Up frontman, Greg Polard, it was brought to our attention that Double Cross had been mentioned in the latest issue of Revolver Magazine. As quickly as I heard the news, I jumped in my car and headed to the nearest Barnes and Noble book store to check it out. Thirteen pages into the December 2008 issue, past the Metallica ads and Deftone articles, I found a section titled Hardcore News. All the way to the right on that page, taking up about 1/4 of the page, is a short article about Double Cross. I was psyched to see a small screen grab of the page and who ever wrote the article did a pretty good job, even though he left out any mention of Gordo’s participation. Either way it was a very cool and unexpected surprise to be thrown at us on this Sunday afternoon. Although we definitely don’t do DCXX for the notoriety, it is nice to be noticed and praised for your efforts and time.
Below I scanned the article out of Revolver in case you were interested in checking it out. Feel free to run off to your local grocery store or book store to buy an actual copy if you want. The cover above is what you’ll want to look for in the case that you want to buy the magazine. I will admit, being an avid fan of horror movies, it was kinda cool that we ended up in the issue that had Freddy, Pinhead, Jason and Michael Myers on the cover.
Said article… thanks Revolver!
Misfits – 221
Danzig – 37
Samhain – 24
In my opinion you can’t really go wrong with any of these choices. Love him or hate him, the guy has one hell of an impressive resume. I honestly had a tough time deciding just which band I personally liked more. Misfits would probably be the easy answer (as it proved to be for most), but the first four Danzig records are pretty much flawless in my book. I know, I know, most of you wrote him off after Danzig II, “Lucifuge”, but if you’ve never heard Danzig IV, you’re doing yourself a great disservice. Sure the album cover may suck, but when you tear into the first track, “Brand New God”, forget about it… Danzig at his best.
A few years ago I stumbled upon this Danzig video on YouTube. It’s from September 16th, 1994 in San Jose California and he’s doing “Brand New God”. Although the quality isn’t perfect and you have to have a few seconds of patience at the very start of the video due to some bodies in the way, the energy and sound captured in this particular video is pretty damn impressive. Check it out… all hail Danzig. -Tim DCXX
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Release in DC, Photo: Tim Owen
Late 1988, New Jersey seemed to be a hotbed for great up and coming straight edge hardcore. You had the Turning Point demo, the ENUF demo and the Release demo all being released around the same time. All three of these demos had their own style and packed their own punch and all three bands were really starting to make a strong name for themselves. Although New Jersey didn’t have the reputation of the scenes in New York City or Connecticut, Turning Point, ENUF, Release and bands like Vision and Hogan’s Heroes were definitely doing their part to put New Jersey on the map.
Around the same time that I received a copy of the ENUF demo, I also received a copy of the Release demo. Tony and I were just starting Common Sense fanzine and records and demos were flowing in for review. Just as Common Sense was a brand new fanzine, Release was a brand new band. Some how or another Tony and I hit it off with Release bassist Greg Shafer. In those early Release days, Greg was our go to Release member. I believe it was Greg that hooked Tony and I up with the demos. I remember hearing the Release demo for the first time while I was over at Tony’s house. At the time they reminded me of a straight edge version of Breakdown. Mosh part after mosh part and in your face style straight edge lyrics. The combination worked perfectly for me and right off the bat I was sold. The demos first song, “Hand In Hand” starts off with, “I don’t do drugs, I never will, live my life for me and not for you, won’t let life pass me by, why do you need such an artificial high?”… as simple as that is, in 1988 it’s exactly what I wanted to hear.
Eventually, down the line, Tony and I met more of the Release guys, caught a couple of their shows and snagged vocal man Rob Fish for a quick interview that in 1990 would appear in Common Sense issue two. I thought it would be a cool idea to drop in some of the highlights from that interview, mix it up with a few cool Release photos and hopefully kick off what will be the start of much more Release content to come. Set you fuckin’ straight! -Tim DCXX
PS: As a side note, although these days Rob doesn’t exactly look back fondly on his days with Release, I will say that to me personally, the guy was nothing less than an inspiration. His relentless, unapologetic, unwavering attitude in the down years of the early 90s, when it came to straight edge, was second to none. When everyone else had dropped off, dropped out and moved on, Rob was there and just as in your face about straight edge as he was when it was all the rage. There’s no question that some of what he was saying and doing was a direct influence on what I was doing with Mouthpiece.
Release at The Anthrax, Photo: Joe Snow
Ok, Let’s start with a history of Release…
Well, Release started with members including me (Rob), Chris Cap, Greg Shafer and Joe Coia. After being together for about two months, we started playing out and got ourselves a second guitarist (Chris Zusi). We released a demo in the winter of 1988, started playing out a lot in February of 1989. We then got a 7″ offer from Axtion Packed, recorded for it and that record was released in July of 1989. We did a short two week tour all over, came back, practiced a lot, recorded a new 7 song tape, 5 songs went to a new 7″ on Inner Journey, 2 songs went to a split 7″ we did with Courage. Greg got kicked out and we brought this kid named Tony in on bass. After awhile Tony got moved up to guitar and Greg came back on bass. Now that Courage has broken up, Chris has left and we’ve added Dale on guitar. We’re now working on some new songs, trying to get tight and I’m starting to book shows now. Hopefully we’ll do a full length record.
How would the new stuff differ from the stuff on the 7″ or demo?
Well its way different. We have a very, very metalish sound now, but it’s the right amount of metal. A lot of our newer songs are off timing, very different. Vocals have matured, especially the lyrics, We have this new song called “Unscene”, which is about all the rumors in the scene and everybody talking, especially with Chain Of Strength, people saying they do this and do that, but it’s their word against theirs. It’s just music and it’s gotten so out of hand, everybody’s out to put each other down. We have a song called “Shadows Of The Past”, which is about old friendships that you want to get away from and realize that it’s over.
Release is pretty much known as a straight edge band. Do you see yourselves as just being straight edge people in a band, or is it a full on thing?
It matters what everybody in the bands interpretation is and how they feel about it. Release started as a straight edge band and it’s going to end a straight edge band. We don’t preach it or anything, but on some occasions we speak about it because it’s something we feel strongly about. That’s one of the reasons we’re doing “Bring It Back”, the Release / Courage split 7″. When straight edge was trendy, everyone got into it and now that it’s not so trendy, everyone has left it. What we’re saying is bring back the ideas, the philosophy. We don’t want to be known as JUST a straight edge band, but we are and always will be.
Zusi in this classic Release “The Pain Inside” 7″ photo
How did you become friends with Turning Point?
We played a show in Pennsylvania and Judge didn’t show up until late. Turning Point was there and they asked us to play. We exchanged numbers and started playing shows together.
I hear you got some flack when you played in NYC?
Yeah, the Combat Stance guys, they’re a bunch of dorks. They were giving us shit inside, pushing at us and pushing at us, like they wanted to fight us and Courage. It got to a point where we were all sick of them, Roger (Courage vocalist) and I came up and said, “You gotta fuckin’ problem?” They said, “No, we were just joking around”. Then they apologized. Then they went on to talk shit about us in their zine. It really doesn’t matter, it doesn’t bother me. They’re just a bunch of idiots. I remember three or four years ago when they wanted to be Ray Cappo, running around with their Nikes, their Champions and now they’re putting it down. I get along with the guy from In Memory Of Zine, I think he’s a really cool guy. I thought the Combat Stance guys were cool, I met them at a show, it wasn’t a Release show. Now they think they have to put up this big image.
Do you ever see the straight edge scene coming back?
It’s dead, I can’t think of anymore straight edge bands left. Turning Point, Up Front, Insted of course. I don’t think Judge consider themselves a straight edge band anymore now that Lars is in the band. I know Gorilla Biscuits don’t consider themselves a straight edge band anymore. Everyone is gone. I think it’s really cool that kids aren’t into straight edge anymore because now you know who the fakes were. I’ve been through all this shit, before it was trendy, while it was trendy and I’m still straight edge and my beliefs haven’t changed. I haven’t lightened up, if anything it has made me stronger.
Chris Cap, Greg Shafer, Chris Zusi, Joe Coia and Rob Fish in Rob’s driveway getting ready to leave for their ’89 tour
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Cappo on the Youth Of Today 1989 European tour, Photo: Bart Van Mulders
Bart is a familiar name to many as a dude from Belgium who has been around a long time. Here he recaps some early HC memories, and seeing YOT and Project X come to Belgium. Flame Still Burns…
In early September 1986 I was a 17 year old getting into hardcore in Belgium. On September 21, I saw my first show with Toxic Reasons headlining. After this I was buying records, reading zines, learning about the punk HC lifestyle. I was highly motivated in taking a stand against all that is wrong in this society/world. Getting interested in something obscure but positive: straight edge, after reading an interview with a Dutch band called Lärm. I wrote the bands they mentioned on a note and gave it, along with a blank tape to the dude at school who invited me to come to that first show I went to. He had a friend who had records of all the bands Lärm mentioned in the interview I had read: Crippled Youth, Straight Ahead, Violent Children, Unity, Uniform Choice and Youth Of Today. He would make sure I got the tape back with requested bands on it.
When me and my sister got the tape we were blown away! This music was incredible! Different than the bands we’ve already seen, obscure, but super positive. It was like an extension to the values and goals of the Punk HC lifestyle and the whole idea was that if you really want to change something, you will need to change yourself first . That made a lot of sense to us. Somehow I felt this was so pure, so genuine that since that moment, I decided to become straight edge. Being straight edge at that time wasn’t like a natural thing to do. Not one of my friends at school ever heard of it, or even understood what it all meant. It was like I was a nerd in a weird kind of way, an outcast.
Sammy gets a cake on his 16th birthday in Aalst Belgium
It was 1987 already and I was able to get/order some of the records from that mix tape I’ve talked about. I still remember the moment when I got the Crippled Youth 7″ a friend sold me. I was walking downtown and ran into a friend. You have to know first that in my close area there were people who were into this whole straight edge thing for several years. I had at least five friends who all owned Unity, Crippled Youth and YOT seven inches and shirts, and had a ton of info and contacts around the globe. Long story short: this dude I am talking about is willing to sell me his Crippled Youth 7″. Why? He has gotten into rap music. Beastie Boys had their monster hit ‘(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right…’ Anyway, he was telling me he was getting into rap and selling his records for that reason. I got the Crippled Youth 7″ and I was like the happiest man on this planet! AWESOME!
This was also the time we read in a punk magazine MRR about this new label who put out a seven inch by a band called ‘War Zone’ and a sampler called ‘NYC HC Together.’ The friend who made the mix tape told us if we ordered it we had to wait like only two weeks to get it. The sampler was great he told us, because it had a new Bold song on it (they switched their name form CY to Bold) and also had some other cool bands on it. Also the YOT song was great he told us. When we got it in the mail it was like something magic (it took like 3 weeks to get it.) I guess it must have been one of the first orders we got from the United States of America. Home of the many great SE bands we listened to. Totally unreal!
Gorilla Biscuits at Alkmaar, Holland, 11/11/1989, Photo: Francoise Lepers
It was a great thing back in those days that Belgium had this really caring, strong and friendly scene. We went to shows as much as we could. My sister must have been one of the first SE girls around. We learned a lot about new bands and all those new records on that label ‘Revelation Records’ were pure gold! I would daydream about those crowd shots from overseas shows that I saw in fanzines, bands like YOT, UC, Wide Awake, Bold, Up Front…and I’d listen to live sets on cassette tapes that friends taped of Straight Ahead, Bold, YOT, UC. It made me think how great it must be living in NYC or CA with the ability to see all those bands playing live.
Over here we saw bands from the States, the UK, Germany, Holland and other parts of Europe. I once wrote them all down on a list marking how many times I had seen those bands playing live, wishing I never lost that paper. It would be great to look at it now.
But there weren’t straight edge bands playing over here back in those days. The scene was cross over and metal influenced. Heck, some people I’ve talked to could not understand having fun without alcohol. Seeing Lärm playing live or bands that contained members who were like me, drug free, was like one of the greatest things back in those days. It must have been late 1988 since the rumours started being spread around: YOT would come to Europe. Oh boy…if this were true this would be the highlight of our HC existence. Seeing them finally! I was speechless.
We got their second record and were totally blown away by it. This was going to be huge, seeing them live. We marked our calender and started counting down to the date they would play in the city we lived in. How incredible was that? We would see them live at the venue where we saw so many punk/HC bands already. It had a huge stage and even a rug on the floor. We would walk to the venue from our home, yes, that is right, walking distance. YOT would play at a 10 minutes walking distance from our home!
You would think we would have been the first to get to the venue. Not true. We were late that day. I guess we were late because we had waited on all of our friends to show up at our parents house and then walk together to the venue. I will never forget when we took the turn and walked down the narrow street where the club was. A ton of kids were hanging out in the street as usual. I thought it felt different though. There would be a lot of like-minded people, people like us, people who shared the same positive thoughts, lifestyle…people who cared, kids like us. I was fired up! A ton of people showed up, this was going to be a great show, no doubt about that.
My sister and I had this idea of interviewing the band because we wanted to do a fanzine. So together with some friends we did the interview. Ray was like a really friendly, open minded cool dude. He was like really interested in us too, he asked a lot of stuff about us too. He even said he loved us. How cool was that?
Youth Of Today in Europe 1989
Then something mind blowing came to our ears. The other band they toured with got kicked off the tour and Project X would be playing instead. Can you believe this? I mean come on, after not seeing a single straight edge band from the States, this night we would see two? And one of the bands would be the legendary Project X? Jaw dropping! Speechless. Too good to be true!
Man, PX started playing and all hell broke loose! People were already singing along: ‘I’m as straight as the line…’ It was unreal! After that YOT got on the stage and man, this was better that I ever could have imagined. The crowd was totally into it. There was a fight with some kid who was more like the drunk HC kind of dude, but looking back, I thought that this was a minor incident. The whole show ruled, the Belgian and Euro HC kids ruled, YOT and Project X ruled. I swear, I will never forget this. This was the best time of my life!
After the show a kid from my class came up to me. He was like more into speed metal and some HC too. He had seen some major bands playing, but he told me that this show was one of the best he had ever been to. Like I said, the SE kids ruled the night. This was indeed a time we’ll remember.
PS : A personal highlight for me was that the picture of Ray I took would during the interview would appear on their final 7″, but that is a whole other story.
Bart and his twin sister
Monday, October 13, 2008
Tony Erba, Face Value reunion
The man, the myth, the legend, Cleveland’s own… Tony Erba. Maybe you know him from Face Value, maybe you know him from his most recent band Cheap Tragedies, maybe you know him for the handful of bands in between. Either way, Erba has definitely made a name for himself in this hardcore scene and he makes for one hell of an interview. This is part one of many more to come. -Tim DCXX
Origins of the SE scene in Cleveland: who, what, where, when, and how did you or did you not fit in?
I was a suburban punker from the cultural backwoods of the Southwest suburb of Parma, OH. I loved hard rock, heavy metal (thrash metal was just coming into its own), punk, especially the bands on ‘Punk And Disorderly’ like Asta-Kask, but I was drawn to the wilder, faster, less fashion-conscious hardcore. I was in 9th grade at Valley Forge and came across an issue of ‘Ripper’ fanzine out of S.F. in drafting class. I was like ‘Holy FUCK! There’s a goddamm band called Millions Of Dead Cops! This shit I GOTTA see!’ Then I found out about Minor Threat, Seven Seconds, Final Conflict, SNFU, U.C., Second Wind etc.
I was always a pussy who hated drinking and was scared of the drugged-out, gnarly, insane downtown O.G. punx in Clevo – those dudes from the Plague were fuckin’ HEAVY–and the cats from the Floyd Band, Hyper As Hell, Knifedance, Guns, and Violent Suburban Marriage were older and just crazy ‘Suburbia’ punk-types whose bands kicked ass but lived lifestyles that I couldn’t hang with. They were living downtown in the Back House and going to the Plasma Alliance twice a week, HEAVY, man.
Then I became aware of a small SXE scene in Clevo, based out of the East Side, centered around Mentor and Cleveland Heights kids, who made an area of town called Coventry their stomping grounds. This was a stretch of road that was Clevo’s East Village. Confront was new, as were Outface, False Hope, and out in Kent you had Hyper As Hell, D.I.M (Pat RIP) and Sockeye. Here on the West Side, our GODS were DOMESTIC CRISIS, what a great band! They were the new breed and they kept it hard and fast and youthful and energetic.
The Clevo crew on their way to see Project X
I had my band, LEK, (’85-’88, featured Jim Konya on drums, that a-hole, my longest and oldest pal, he’s played in a million crazy metal bands like Nunslaughter and even did two stints in Nine Shocks Terror, and Chris Pellow, who went on to play in Ringworm (first demo and LP) and then the Darvocets for 13 years, and I just recently replaced him in the Darvocets! Clevo’s fuckin incestous) that was heavily influenced by two bands in particular: Cryptic Slaughter and Dayglo Abortions. Also Minor Threat, Napalm Death, Misfits and Flag. We were playing backyard ragers, basement rippers and the occasional legit gig. Domestic Crisis was our big brother band, even though no one took us seriously and the skater bettys that hung out with us, or at least our guitarist. I was disgusting even back then. They hated me and thought I was a maniac. Which I was. I didn’t party, just guzzled Dairymens Fruit Punch by the gallon, shredded the quarterpipe on my GJS Freestyler (Goddamm I miss that bike–ripped off in front of my eyes by a Puerto Rican outside of Burger King across from Parma Schwinn) and used to go insane at band practice, carving my chest open like Darby, getting us kicked out of first Chris Pellow’s mom’s house then his Grandma’s.
Our biggest show was opening for WARZONE, Confront and Domestic Crisis at September’s in Bedford Hts in August ’87. There was a room in the back that was the owner’s taxidermy trophy room. Warzone apparently trashed it, we got the blame, and that was it for ever getting booked THERE again. Also at that show, some skin was picking on Jay Kuebler, the most posi, sweet kid you’d ever wanna meet, drummer from Confront that weighed 90 lbs soaking wet. Steve Murad AKA ‘Mean Steve’ put his motorcycle helmet on and headbutted the skin and destroyed him.
Anyhow after LEK broke up I moved to Coventry to be with my Straight Edge peoples. I soon came to see that a LOT of those kids were awesome but mostly from well-to-do families and although they were cool to me, especially Steve Murad and all of Confront and Charlie and Frank from Outface and especially Scum, Spike and David Araca from False Hope, they all kinda looked at me as a working-class hillbilly from Parma. Fuck, my Mom was on welfare and my Dad carried a gun in his boot at all times…so I guess I’m a redneck from Parma. Wheee. They would always break my balls about my geeky glasses (fuck, Dick Lucas from the Subhumans wore them, and he was punk as fuck), wearing flared jeans (hey man, they fit you waaay better than those stupid-ass Bugle Boys they all wore then – real men who work on cars and play Rickenbackers wear flares – Fuck off) and wearing X’s drawn with like the wrong color marker or whatever, and still digging on Sabbath, Black Oak Arkansas, Hawkwind, Heep etc. Like I was going to just forget about those influences? It was kind of a subtle ‘social classism’ thing going on. I definitely wasn’t cool then, and guess what? I still don’t sit at the Cool Kids table now.
Face Value 1990 promo photo
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Last week I received an email from Jeff Banks of Southern California’s Visual Discrimination / Chorus Of Disapproval. Jeff has been religiously following Double Cross and was eager to contribute. This is Jeff’s first contribution, but expect plenty more in the near future. -Tim DCXX
In the later 80s Visual Discrimination days I worked part-time for Big Frank Harrison and Pacific Concerts as a doorman, security, bouncer and go-fer. When it was larger shows like Y&T or Guns ‘n Roses in Pasadena, I was moving and loading equipment and taking towels to the laundry for the bands. But when it was Sunset Strip and Hollywood-type shows, it was a 3-man crew consisting of Frank, me and Dave Mello.
This was a few years after Screaming for Change. I don’t think he ever really knew what a UC fanatic I was, and when I told him he was always very humble. He had long forgotten that we had played shows together years before. My first conversation with him was cathartic in the sense that I have always felt that the UC demo was a far better listening experience than any of their other material.
“I’ll take Maynez with that maple top Les Paul using a Boss Heavy Metal Pedal over that white Jackson through a non-modified Marshall any day,” was the first thing I think I said to him. Then it was on to “Who on God’s green earth in Hardcore plays a Gibson Thunderbird?” When he laughed and said he owned 4, it was immediately clear that Mello would cough up the old identification card.
It was outside the Roxy after a Foster and Lloyd show where the Mello gave me 2 expired licenses for the collection. He was a little reserved, but it is amazing the things people will give to you when you maintain awkward eye contact for 15 to 20 seconds. Twenty minutes later Big Frank, Mello and I are in the drive-thru at Jack-in-the-Box. “The next band that needs to be started is the three of us, and we need to rip off these guys.” I was blaring “Wreckage in Flesh” by Dr. Know in my mom’s Jetta.
Thursday, October 9, 2008
Gorilla Biscuits at the Safari Club in DC, Photo: Tim Owen
Here’s the latest installment of our Revelation Q&A with head honcho Jordan Cooper.
A lot of numbers have been thrown around over the years regarding which Rev releases have sold the most. Of the early releases (1-25), can you say what the biggest “sellers” were and how many “units” have sold for those particular records? I’ve always heard it was Start Today that has been the biggest.
Definitely GB Start Today has sold the most over the years. There was a time when Inside Out had overtaken it, but in the years after Rage split up, Start Today took the lead again. I’d have to look at the numbers for all the other early records but most of them were pretty popular. The first few records we did were usually pressings of 500-2000 at first and then we’d order more when those ran out. After the first six releases, our initial pressings were usually between 10 and 15 thousand from what I remember and most records had more than one pressing.
There were a couple of records that only had one pressing – Slipknot and Supertouch – but each of those were still pretty big first pressings compared to the first six records we put out. As far as total units, I’d have to do some research to look all those up, but without going through everything in detail, I’d say that Start Today is probably over 100,000 copies by now.
If you could pick for one defunct HC band to get back together, record a great album, and release it on Rev, who would you want it to be?
Too many to pick one, but, the first one that comes to mind is Violent Children. They were what hardcore was about to me probably because they were the first band I got to see a lot and got to know personally.
What did you think of the GB reunion and the band’s reformed status? What are some good memories you recall with the band both back then and today?
It’s been great. When they did that CB’s benefit, everyone called me to tell me that it was the best show they’d been to in years. The tour out here has been incredible. They played a show out here that was as big as any show I’d ever been to of theirs. It’s cool, they get together and play when they have time and feel like it. The band definitely ended too soon so it’s good to see them having a good time playing. It gives kids a chance to see them who never did back in the day, but it also gets all the old timers to come out of the woodwork who otherwise rarely go to shows (like me).
Some of the best times I’ve ever had were on tour with bands and one of those was the first GB tour in Europe. It was a great time. The band had a great sense of humor and even though there was always the chance that they’d get denied entry to any given country since no one had working papers (this was in the days when there were checkpoints between countries), they’d always just make jokes about it and hope for the best.
Statue at Spanky’s in Riverside, Cali, Photo: Boiling Point
Rev took a lof of criticism for the bands it signed and released into the early and mid-nineties. Who were some of your favorite bands on the label during this time period, and what releases stand out a decade later?
The early to mid 90’s was probably the time I was most personally active in picking the bands because Ray had left the label to do Shelter, focus on his religion and start EVR. Porcell helped out for a few months in ’91, but ended up moving back to NY pretty quickly. He was the one who talked to Into Another so that was a big deal for us obviously. I really love pretty much every band we put out during that time. Farside, Iceburn, Statue, Underdog, Sense Field, Shades Apart, Engine Kid, Whirlpool. I spent time with at least a couple of people in all of those bands even if it was just working on their artwork so they all mean something to me. I still put on all of those records somewhat regularly so to me they stand out. Sales wise, most of early 90’s releases aren’t at the top of the charts these days, but that’s the way things work. Not every great record gets appreciated when it’s released or remembered later even if it does.
Revelation will be releasing the Mouthpiece discography by the end of the year hopefully. What was your awareness of the band over the years, and what are your feelings on putting this record out on Revelation?
I heard a lot of stuff about all the New Age and Conversion bands because Dennis (Conversion Records) lived in the warehouse and Mike (New Age) worked here and spent a lot of time here as well. To me it looked like Mouthpiece and a lot of the other bands that those guys put out were the hardcore scene of that time at that point. Meanwhilem we were putting out bands like Iceburn, Farside and other bands that came from hardcore but were trying different things musically, so it was cool to have a connection with the younger scene even if it wasn’t so direct. Tim has been friends with a lot of people I know over the years but it’s been great getting to talk to him and work on their discography. They’ve put a lot of time and effort into it and the songs sound great and the artwork frames it all really well. I really appreciate the way they’ve handled everything…they want people to have a great record, but more importantly they want it to be something that documents their music the way they see it themselves.
Mouthpiece at Middlesex County College, Edison NJ
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Carl fronts The Icemen in DC while big Adam helps a photographer get the right angle, Photo: Ken Salerno
What are some memorable Icemen shows that stick out as your best as you recall them? Any particular places you liked playing? Who were people you recall always coming out and supporting you?
I wanted to reach as many people as possible so the bigger the better. The two Super Bowls at the Ritz on 11th St. in ’89 and at the old Studio 54 in ’92 were decent sized crowds but the circumstances at those gigs what with countless bands being rushed on and off stage, sharing equipment, no sound check, etc. are not conducive to a good performance, and by our nature I think we were a little more susceptible to that than most, so those were actually terrible performances by us.
Some others decent sized shows that I recall were at City Gardens in NJ and The Marquee in NYC. One show in particular was at L’amour in Brooklyn with Type O Negative. I was striving to incorporate a wider variety of listeners into our audience, and that was great example. The show was packed with all sorts, hardcore, metalheads, even goth, you name it. I think we had been on a mini road trip and had played somewhere else the night before, I had a crazy fever like 101 or something and under those stage lights man I was just delirious but we rocked that night. That’s one of my most memorable shows, we had a video of it too but Mack lost it somehow.
Of course I must mention CBGB’s, that was home for us and was always fun. It was also a place where we could count on supporters coming out. There were many but I certainly remember the DMS guys like Minus, Al and Sob, and I also recall a few bands at the time giving us some serious support.
Who was Gary Lee, where did he come from, and how did things work out for him to do vocals on those ’93 tracks? Why didn’t anything materialize from this? His voice is definitely much different from Carl – was he what you were looking for, and how do you feel about his voice?
Good question, in a way he’s part mystery to us as well. As with so many others we met on the lower east side, he was of course in a band, “Yin vs Yang” and he knew well who The Icemen were. Spoke a few times over drinks, and we decided to bring him into our studio to record some test vocals over our current tracks. What little people have heard on our myspace page were simple dry first runs, no rehearsing, just come in cold and give it a shot. Never went beyond with it as he was an unpredictable wildman and another factor was that as time went on we were free to move in new musical directions and not worry about wether it would be Icemen or not.
We were so fed up with “scenes” and disgusted with how what had taken years to create was now being degraded, violated, degraded, dragged through the mud. The idea of playing music once again without the shackles of what was expected of us to musically conform by so many listeners who had become narrow minded was emancipating. Gary’s voice was a step in the right direction in that he actually was attempting to go for some melody, albeit with a cookie monster voice, but melodies in verse and chorus were evident.
We lost touch and heard a while back that he had actually passed away, if true then very sad to hear. My brother Gabby has been performing again with Harley who apparently mentioned he could find out more info so we shall see, not optimistic on that though, Gary was hard street.
Mackie does his thing like only Mackie can do, Photo: Ken Salerno
You did all of the Icemen artwork, making incredible t-shirts and flyers. What was your inspiration for this look and vibe? What had your education/training been in art/design? What Icemen artwork are you most proud of?
I had an overall vision for the band which in addition to music and lyrics included visual elements as well. Sad that we never achieved exploring video and ironic as I’ve had a career in film since 2001. I always enjoyed dark vibe and wanted us to have consistent theme, you would know when you saw The Icemen visuals. Was fortunate that my father is an amazing artist and I was blessed to have art materials all around me to play with from birth.
Mentioned that I met Mack at high school of arts, I was actually an art major. At the time one had to choose between art and music, difficult but that was the choice I made. By the time I was 17 I was already getting some professional jobs as as a free lance illustrator. Also had a spec with Marvel for Epic magazine developing my own swords and sorcery strip but I never completely followed through and that didn’t pan out. I’ve always been a big fan of that fantasy genre.
What Icemen art am I most proud of? I like that our “Ghost” mascot is recognized, I also am fond of my “Bat Fade.” They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery then I would say more than a few bands out there are evidence. A few bands took our Ghost and used it on their demos and flyers but man, that Bat Fade keeps turning up more and more. At the end of the day I am honored that apparently the art is memorable.
Would an Icemen reunion ever happen?
Wow, that’s a tough one. Noah and I speak on a regular basis, he’s like a brother, Mack not as often, nothing but good though and we did have a long talk in May. There’s been bumps in the long winding road but at the end of the day, Noah, Mack and I go way back and I think that ancient bond will always be there. We have a few surprises not yet ready to disclose but at the moment reunion is not in the cue.
For The Icemen there would be many obstacles, not the least of which is our independent lives and careers don’t leave much room for that. Just as big, finding a desirable singer to compliment the original three of us? If history is any indication, easier said than done. The bright side is that communication and networking in this cyber world is leaps and bounds what we had at our disposal back in those early dark ages so crazy as it is, it just might work. I savor discoveries in life and so too, enjoy a little mystery in the future.
Noah jams hard at City Gardens, Photo: Ken Salerno
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