ARCHIVES – more older posts (54)
May 18th, 2012 by Larry

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The ICEMEN – coming soon…

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Marco from The Icemen gives us the harsh truth. Coming soon…

Rev. Hank “Straight Edge” Peirce – BOSTON

Rev. Hank “Straight Edge” Peirce became known to many of us as the Slapshot roadie with a great nickname, and the only person to appear as a character in an actual Slapshot lyric (“Wake up Hank we’re off the line” – Step On It). After seeing his part in the American Hardcore movie, I thought it would be cool to get in touch with him and pick his brain on old Boston. This is part one, get ready for much, much more talk about the Rippinest Town…

-Gordo DCXX

When, where, why and with whom did you find your way into the punk/hardcore scene of Boston? Like many scene of the early 80s, Boston especially has a place in history as no-nonsense, aggressive, and unwelcoming… did it appear so on your way in to the scene?


It is so hard to describe what it was like 27 years ago, not that I have forgotten but that our culture has changed so dramatically. Today people and society celebrate difference, or at least they give lip service to it and are much more willing to not make a “____” that someone is gay, or Hispanic or a little crazy. But in the early 80s conformity was not just a word, it was a law that was enforced by everyone fromthe other kids at school, to teachers, to cops, and old folks on the subway.

Let me also say that I have no idea what it is like to be a teenager today, there is no underground anymore, as soon as anything is deemed cool it is picked up by a web-site and within two weeks a version of it is being sold at the mall. What did Tom Frank call it…the “commodification of cool.” But if anyone wants to experience what it was like to be hardcore in the early 80s, just wear a t-shirt with a photo of Osama bin Laden on it and walk down any street. It was really that bad.

Of course we did all revel in it a little bit, what was the title of that Iron Cross single, “Hated and Proud”? A few years ago I heard someone on NPR say that he got into punk because as a young gay man it made other folks at his school fear him. He called it ‘the squid affect,’ dressing like a punk made people fear him regardless of the fact that he was a sissy (his words not mine), much the same way that fish are confused and frightened by the ink that squids produce.

OK so how did I get into the Boston scene? Well I grew up about 60 miles south of Boston, and for some reason I became an outcast. Well I guess I was always different than the kids I grew up with, and wanted to be part of something that I could call my own. I was tired of hearing my friend’s older brothers say that all the best music had already been played, all the best parties had already happened, and that nothing I could do could was as meaningful as the 60s. It was infuriating and at the same time freeing in that I didn’t have to measure myself to some old hippy shit, but what to do, with whom and where.

Although I lived closer to Providence and went to plenty of shows there, Boston was where you could go and be a part of a scene. There was something so primal about walking into some shitty little club and seeing all these other freaky kids, “my tribe” I remember thinking. And although the Boston scene had the reputation as a hard city, the shows were filled with every kind of kid from all over New England: abused kids, the super smart, the mentally retarded, gay and lesbian kids, bored kids, you name it they were there. The thing about Boston is that we have this Napoleon complex with New York, you know always number two regardless of how great you are and how shitty they are. It goes deeper than just Red Sox vs. Yankees, historically thinking about the political importance of Boston vs. NY, there are so many examples, but let me just say that we all grew up with that in our DNA.

So Boston always wants to show that it is as important if not better than NY, and that was the attitude that the scene had, that bands had, whether or not we even were consciously thinking about NYC. But much like the idea of the squid affect being able to come off as tough was something that most of us had never experienced and it was attractive, even though it would turn you into the same type of creep that you got into hardcore to avoid.

Who was the original “Boston Crew?” Where were you in this mix? Were there different phases or eras? Was straight edge a pre-requisite of sorts? What bands epitomized The Crew?

Well the thing to remember with the ‘crew’ is that it was about individuals, not bands, although SSD, DYS and Negative FX were clearly Boston Crew bands, it was because Al, Choke, Jamie, and Smalley belonged to those bands rather than the other way about. I wasn’t a part of the crew, which had to do with the fact that I didn’t know those guys at that time as I lived well outside of the city and couldn’t get into Boston as often. Though now it sounds like a club that I didn’t have membership in. But the crew were the folks that Al Barile was friends with, and who wanted to do something new and were willing to wear sleeve hats. (You know, when you ripped the sleeve off of a t-shirt and wear it like a head band).

But the crew were a short lived little thing, that got a lot of press over the years. And maybe they were all Straight Edge at the time, but it wasn’t a pre-requisite. Plenty of Boston bands prospered even though they weren’t part of the crew, like the FUs, the Freeze, Jerry’s Kids and Gang Green. Who was in the crew? Al, Jamie, Choke, Dave Smalley, Jon Anastis, Drew Stone, Punky Paul, Pat Raftery and a few others. I think it was a small group but a little fuzzy around the edges as to who was and who wasn’t. But there are stories of those guys coming up with their punk names, which is just hilarious, like Leth-Al.


Of course this whole thing going on right now with Al and Springa is sad. Al has such integrity and is very set in his ways and Springa is just driving him nuts. Of course what Al and any artist needs to remember is that you create with other people and that no one can own it. Now I’m not saying that Springa is right in trying to sell his Springa Show as SSD, but Springa was as important to SSD as the rest of the band. He created a balance to all of the heaviness of the band with his chaotic absurdity that made it punk.

When did you become Hank Straight Edge and not just Hank? Were you straight edge the second you heard of the concept? Who gave you the name, and did it easily stick? Do you still commonly refer to yourself by that name? Do others? Are you still proudly straight edge? (ED. Note: I know, I know, to ask someone if they are straight edge is a boring, typical question – but I had to ask here).

To be honest I never call myself that, and no one in Boston called me that. It was kids in NY who called me that, I’m trying to remember what band, it was like Raw Deal or somebody like that who called me that but I thought of it as a joke. Because there weren’t a bunch of Hanks who needed to be differentiated from each other, “oh there goes drunk Hank, and oh over there is tall Hank.” Unlike today, Henry and Hank were names only grandfathers had.


You are right on with the description of how I became Straight Edge, as soon as I heard the concept I was sold. I already wasn’t doing drugs or drinking and was so psyched that there was a name for it and bands who were singing about it. My sister and I both hated where we grew up and wanted to get away, she took the “I’m a rebel and will do drugs and drink to express my dissatisfaction” route. But for me I just looked at how all of the idealism of the 60s shit the bed once drugs were introduced. Fuck, the kids getting high and drunk in town were the ones who I was getting into fights with every day, so why the fuck would I want to be like them in any way?

Am I still Straight Edge? Hell yeah! I don’t even allow alcohol at any church events, of course like at most churches there are lots of recovering drunks and they don’t need to be confronted with it at some bean supper. I just think that alcohol and drugs are something that we as a society can do without. Sure, most of my friends weren’t Straight Edge, but being with Slappy on the road was the best, nothing could keep us down…well usually.

It is amazing the impact that SE has made in the larger culture, and to be honest I wish no one did drugs or drank. However, just having kids in their teens not drinking or getting high is great, even if after college they start to drink. I hate to add that last part but it is true, let these folks get some experience under their belts so that they hopefully make better choices. It is also interesting to see how SE has evolved in these 25 or so years, the vegetarian thing is understandable, and I have to admit so does the Earth First stuff. Not that I’m a vegetarian or burn down McMansions, but if I lived in Utah I bet I would want to blow stuff up too.

It really is good to see the personal politics of SE interface with radical politics of justice. What did Mark Anderson say, “How radical is ‘rock-n-roll all night and party everyday’ in a world of starving children?”

[TO BE CONTINUED]

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Djinji Brown / Absolution – Part IV

This is the fourth and final installment of a gigantic and great conversation with Djinji. While there is plenty of left over material that may get released down the road, this is where we are gonna wrap it up for now. Thanks for reading, and major thanks again to Djinji for being on board with us. See you all in New York!

-Gordo DCXX

In addition to having been around all of the racial issues that were in the hardcore scene, that we thought weren’t gonna be there in the first place or thought we could ignore, I also saw a lot of my friends just getting heavier and heavier into drugs. A lot of people were doing heroin or doing crack. I didn’t want to be a part of that. I had gotten away from it in the Bronx! So why would I wanna be back around it when I wanted to escape it in the first place? That was just a track of destruction. I didn’t want to end up around that, with people not having jobs and sleeping on couches.

When you break up from your band, it’s like a divorce, and I didn’t want to go through that. You go from being Djinji Absolution, to just being Djinji. That was tough. Now I needed something. So for me, it was like, “Ok, I’m not gonna go to college, but I need to get a skill.” So I went to the recording studio after that, it was Jerry Williams who lead me to that. I went to the Institute of Audio Research. Prior to that I was working at health food stores and thinking I would end up being a bike messenger. That’s what I wanted to do at 17 and 18, because that’s what my friends did. My parents didn’t see that though, they didn’t want me doing that, even though they didn’t tell me what to do. Still, I rode like one, carried a bag like one, got hit by cars like one…I just wasn’t getting paid. But Jerry Williams lead me to becoming an engineer, and that was my safety net. Now I could have a career, and record hip-hop acts, rock acts, jazz acts. Now they needed me, I didn’t need them. That was a sense of empowerment for me, so I wasn’t relying on other people now.

Now I was going to studios and passing out resumes to get an internship. And I got into Green Street Recording Studios in Soho. And now I am in a studio with gold and platinum records on the wall by artists such as Run DMC, Public Enemy, Ice Cube, Chaka Khan…then Eric Sadler of Public Enemy, Pete Rock, Q-Tip, Notorious BIG, Junior Mafia. Man, I don’t care what type of music you listen to…Biggie Smalls! From 1992 to 1994 I lived on Biggie’s block in Brooklyn. In that time, 1992 Brooklyn hip-hop was like 1982 Lower East Side hardcore. What! You could come out of the train and see Biggie Smalls smoking a blunt talking with Nas. I’ve seen it! I had the Junior Mafia in my car, I remember when Lil’ Kim didn’t have fake tits! I recorded her, at least twice or more in February 1995. I remember KRS-One, DJ Premier, Brand Nubian, M.O.P., the Boot Camp Clique, and that was when I worked at DnD studios from ‘97-‘99. I used to watch Big Pun shoot pool, I even recorded him once. He was such a funny dude, just a cool ass dude! It’s just beautiful. It is crazy to me. That didn’t have to happen, and I am very thankful it did. That was just all spirit, for that to have fallen into place and have been in the same room with all those people and learn.

And I knew it was special. I knew it when Pete Rock and CL Smooth created their first album, Mecca and the Soul Brother, I was there as an assistant engineer on 15 out of those 18 songs, and I saw it created. And they had a song on that album about a good friend of theirs they lost, called “They Reminisce Over You” about Trouble T Roy, one of Heavy D’s dancers, who passed away after he fell down some stairs backstage at a concert and that lead to his untimely death. It was just some tragic shit that didn’t have to happen and it fucked everyone’s heads up. So while recording this song, there was Heavy D in the studio, and Charlie Brown from Leaders of the New School, all these heavy weights, because they all knew this album was poppin’ off and it was special. It was probably like when the Bad Brains were recording at 171A…if you knew about it, you knew it was special, like “just be there.” With this, I knew it, and I felt it. I knew where I was at, 1992, that was special. I knew it was the shit.

When I was able to meet and hang out with Harley and John, and meet Dr. Know and Darryl Jennifer, that kinda fulfilled my dreams. I could leave. At the time I couldn’t really see it, but looking back now, yeah, it was time for me and I could leave. Cro-Mags had broken up. Bad Brains weren’t really doing anything at the time. So I needed to go somewhere where there was a community. Now don’t get me wrong, there was obviously still a hardcore community, but my immediate community and direct influences were broken up or in limbo. And then my own band broke up, so I didn’t want to be out there in limbo. I didn’t want to do another band. So I needed to find that sense of community, where things were happening. And I’m very thankful and fortunate for that.

Gavin was the architect in Absolution. Alan and Greg’s contributions can’t be dismissed because they were like the glue and nails that made it all fit. I was just trying to put a nice picture on these buildings. I guess kinda like graf pieces. And I loved all of the songs. Because to me, in those songs, I heard and I hear family making the sounds, people that hung with each other, went through shit with each other, and made music to get down with each other. Because it was family. Gavin, you know, I took him up to the Bronx. I took all my people up to the Bronx, my punks, anyone I could, but with him it was funny…this big blonde haired boy, you know? But I took my blonde girls up there, my asian girlfriends up there. I told you, no black girls were fuckin’ with me and to be quite honest I wasn’t really looking at them in that way either, not at that time. So, I was gonna get my groove on with the girls who didn’t think I was crazy or acting “white.” Those girls up in the Bronx were like, “you are nasty!” They still thought I was cute, they just didn’t understand why I was doing what I was doing. I did a lot of fun things inside and outside of my element.

Those first Absolution shows, I remember the first couple times I had to pace myself, it was tough. But hardcore let me know how strong I really was. I was always teased for being skinny with no muscles, and underweight, having a baby face, and not being a thug. But getting up on stage or on the dance floor, it let me know I was strong and it let me show it. I could get up there and let it all hang out. The energy was crazy, Gavin and I were balls of fire, as were a lot of bands. You couldn’t step on stage if you didn’t have a couple firecrackers in your band. Some of the last shows, with Sergio in the band, were just great. Having him there for a few shows, he was just my brother. With him and Gavin, I felt like it was just two brothers I could just be wild with and wild the fuck out. No disrespect to Alan at all, I mean Alan was great, but with Sergio there was such a long time connection. With Sergio, there were vibes too, so I could really rock out. It was friends, family, community.

Those last three shows were off the fuckin’ hook. The Anthrax, Rock Against Racism, and the Rap Arts Center. That Rap Arts gig, I felt like I was almost there…like, “man, that is how John must feel, that is how HR must feel.” I felt like I was in control of my delivery. My vocals held up, my energy was sustained, I didn’t let the band get away from me. It was like I was really driving the car and hitting all the curves at the perfect time, the car wasn’t driving me. I remember Jerry Williams being there and mixing the show, and he was like a proud father for all of us. And that was the last fucking gig we did. That was the heartbreak I’ve been talking about. I have really blocked that out, I haven’t opened up about that. What happened… I don’t know, it doesn’t matter. But it would be one thing if the band was going downhill and we broke up. But we were getting better. So for it to end there, that was heartbreaking.

But we did leave on a high note I guess. Still, that makes it tougher to leave and harder to remember because of the nostalgia. It’s easy to leave a relationship when things aren’t good with your girl and you aren’t having fun and you aren’t feeling her or vice versa. But who wants to leave on a high note when the sex is still good and you are having a lot of fun? You leave with all these good memories, and only a few bad ones that don’t outweigh the good ones. With Absolution, there aren’t many bad memories at all, and they are so miniscule. So it is tough. And at that last show, we played last. And it was late. A lot of bands played, Nausea and some other punk bands. But people stuck around to see Absolution, they wanted to see us rock, the buzz was out. And man, I don’t even know what to say. That energy was real.

I don’t really walk around with those vibes anymore. I’ve mellowed. So to come back to it, it’s gonna be like going back and doing my warrior dance. An Indian war dance with my brothers. It won’t be a sit-in with me giving flowers to people. I’m 38, so age shouldn’t slow you down, I want to show that. So I will let it all hang out. Hopefully I don’t give myself a goddamn heart attack!

Details for playing New York…Gavin, Sergio, and I want to do it. But it’s not bittersweet that it can’t be at CB’s or Lismar or The Pyramid. Because that was then, and this is now. I’m really dealing with the power of the “is.” The “is” lives in the present. What “is” to be done. And those places aren’t there anymore, those places are “was.” New York, on some real shit, everybody knows it’s not the city it was creatively. It is a shell of a place that reminds us of what it used to be. There isn’t any real shit there, nothing juicy or eye popping or earth shattering coming out of there now. Everybody knows that. Let’s just remember what it was and be happy we even had that influence in the first place. We don’t have to be the culture mongers of the world, it’s not just about New York. So no, I’m not bittersweet. To perform at Churchill’s in Miami, it’s a little club, it’s in the hood, it’s a cliché…you can get your ass robbed they way you used to at CB’s back in the day, not like today. The Lower East Side today is a nice little playground. Those dangers don’t exist there anymore, and those dangers spawned a lot of creativity. But that shit ain’t there anymore. I love New York, but I don’t love what it has become. It was so colorful.

I want to pay homage to the songs we wrote, Gavin wrote. I don’t need to change them. Maybe minus a few syllables, but I don’t need to re-work them. As an MC in a rap context, I’ve been able to say a lot in one line or two lines, that’s the idea, have one line give a plethora of emotions and images. So if I wrote a new song today I might use that approach more, and I didn’t use it in the old songs then. But I wouldn’t change them, they are what they are. And in the Absolution songs, the lyrical delivery is more like an uzi than a revolver. I mean, when I’m spitting, I’m spitting. The delivery is not efficient at all, I was just trying to get it all out. There are a couple spots for me to catch my own breath in the bridges and breaks, but it is fast. So far, I haven’t tried the physical exercise of delivering those songs again.


The physical demands of any musical performance, and especially this type of hardcore performance is no fuckin’ joke. In rap, you can be a skinny rapper from the 90s, and still do it today and be fat and be a multimillionaire, and that’s cool. That’s a sign of success, and it is cool, to be fat. But not in rock music. Mick Jagger and Steven Tyler, countless others, just look at them. There is a physical demand that is just rock music! In this context especially hardcore. You can’t take that shit lightly. You have to sync musicality with physical ability and if you got heart, sincere “emotional content” to quote Bruce Lee. That’s why so many musicians nowadays seem whack. Because they are just doing it, they are just doing shit, not understanding anything under the action. With us, in hardcore and hip-hop, that’s why we felt like we were doing something special, because we were all aiming for the heart. The other ones? Who knows.

Richie Birkenhead – “Unless We’re Pushed…”

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Just because he is harder than all of us combined, and can still regret it.

-DCXX

“There was one incident where I was actually just looking for a friend of mine at a restaurant in New York. It was a crowded, almost like a night club, very crowded restaurant where people were deejaying. I actually wanted to go in there and see if a friend of mine was deejaying, and anyway, a very drunk guy…at the time my hair was bleached. Of course, I walk into some drunk frat guy, sort of Wall Street-type. He was calling me names, making fun of the bleached hair. I was trying to ignore it, and he ended up trying to put his cigarette out on my chest, and I completely overreacted and I hurt him really badly. I was sick about it. Just completely sick about it and disgusted with myself, and I just went home and I was a wreck. I was depressed for days. I don’t think it was the last physical altercation I ever got into, but that one incident pretty much ended my ‘fighting career.'”

-As told to Ronny Little

Monday, May 19, 2008

Jimmy Yu – The New York Crew

Tim and I had been talking about wanting to track down Jimmy Yu for a Double Cross interview (if a reason for wanting to do that is necessary, then you my friend are on the wrong website). We knew he had been going to grad school at Princeton the past few years (FYI: this is up the street from Tim’s house), which meant he could have literally been walking around humming the riff to “In My Way” within earshot of us at times and we wouldn’t have even known it. Seeing as he is relatively local and nobody has seemed to have heard a peep from him, how could we not get in touch with him?


So I shoot Jimmy an email, and he says he is down and that I should give him a call. Here’s the interesting part: he has a 570 area code (like me), which is common in northeast Pennsylvania and the Poconos. Now, I grew up in East Stroudsburg, a small town where my parents still live and I still visit almost every other weekend. Hardcore population: minimal. I figure he is still living in Princeton and maybe just has a random area code number. Wrong. We start talking and Jimmy says he lives in the Poconos. I ask him where specifically and he says, “East Stroudsburg.” Whoa, weird. Turns out he is living about a stone’s throw up the street from the bedroom I grew up in moshing to Judge (yeah, I definitely did not see Judge, so that is as good as it got for me). Small, small world.

Anyways, we are gonna meet up with Jimmy in a couple weeks, sit down, and get it all on tape – CB’s, Death Before Dishonor, Judge, The Anthrax, you name it. I think we have reason to be psyched, since he was telling me he digs the site, loved seeing the Judge video posted, is moving to Florida soon and wants to hang with Porcell, and asked me what Sammy and Mike were up to and wants to get in touch. New York Crew? Fuck…it sure sounds like it. Stay tuned.

-Gordo DCXX

Drew Beat – BOLD Memories

This is the second excerpt we have from a gigantic interview done with Drew from BOLD. Scroll further down to see the first part or click here:

http://doublecrosswebzine.blogspot.com/2008/04/looking-back-with-drew-beat.html

-DCXX

We had a lot of fun out in southern California, staying in the Huntington Beach area while on tour. There was a really good scene, everyone would stay at each other’s houses, these big houses with tons of people hanging out, and we’d also drive around and just have an awesome time. We would go out in vans with fire extinguishers, we would ransack places, all sorts of crazy mischief…just not nice stuff! It was like the show Jackass.

There was a lot of good bands from California, I really liked that whole scene, going out there, playing places, hanging out and having a good time. Even the bands, before we went out there, before us there had already been Uniform Choice, Unity, BL’AST!, and the whole Wishingwell scene. These were bands I really liked, and those records still hold up in a lot of ways, just really cool records. Just going out there and going off and playing shows was such an awesome time.


When we got out there, those kids already seemed to have gotten the whole “youth crew” thing down. It was like, when we got there, they were waiting for us. They had already understood what we were about, and they welcomed us. When we got out there it felt like being home, even though it was different weather, different dancing, different styles. They had gotten the Crippled Youth EP, and had seen Youth Of Today from when they were out there, and they just really were waiting for us all the way across the country. We just slid in there at a great time, even though our records were a little bit behind as far as reflecting what we were doing when the records came out. I mean, by the time Speak Out came out we had developed much more than the record showed, or at least I think.

The social side of playing music always meant more to me. It was cool because when Speak Out came out, Revelation had pretty good distribution at the time, so places like Tower had the record and it was visible. Before that, the kids we went to school with didn’t really “get” what we were doing. The whole idea of doing a band was really strange to them. They didn’t understand it if it wasn’t like a “battle of the bands” thing, they just figured it wasn’t for real, like, “what are these guys doing with their little band?” There was no insight on their part into what the hardcore scene was, obviously. But over the course of a couple years, more underground culture started to come to the surface, and people heard more about the band and hardcore. And then we would start seeing people we knew from school, our peers, at our shows. We would be like, “oh my God, that person is here to see us? Weird.” After years of people kinda pushing us around from school and even making fun of us, it was interesting to see them come to us now. And then we could flip it around and be better, we could say to who was working the door, “hey we know these guys from school, let them in.” It was cool to see them come onto our turf now and be interested. That always meant more to me than school, to be able to go into school the next day and feel like you actually did something and were a part of something outside of school that others weren’t – something beyond just sports, hanging out, or going to parties. That was really empowering.

CB’s, The Anthrax, Lupo’s, Safari Club, and Gilman Street were probably my favorite five places to play. I liked playing California because I loved a lot of California stuff that got me into punk and hardcore. Black Flag “Damaged,” Germs “GI,” Circle Jerks “Group Sex,” those to me are some of my all-time favorite records. To get out there and play a few years after those records, that vibe wasn’t all that far removed, even though things were obviously different. Now it seems like those records are from forever ago, but at the time it didn’t seem like it had been that long ago. Even playing Boston, despite some of the schism there, that was special because I loved SSD and DYS, we were partial to them. I think DYS were a little more musical and didn’t have as big a following. Maybe it is a bit lofty to think about, but I think at the time Youth Of Today tried to align themselves with what SSD had done. With that said, I think in BOLD, we saw ourselves a bit more like DYS if there had to be analogies drawn. But even Jerry’s Kids and Gang Green, we loved them.

The K-Town Mosh Crew was a well planted myth in a way, but we did have a good group of people early on. There was a half pipe in town at this kid’s house, and we would go there and skate. This reminds me of a good story, because at the time, skaters and BMX kids didn’t mix. But in our town there would be BMX kids around, and we had this ramp jam once. And this BMX kid was there, and we had suspected him of having stolen Matt’s copy of Victim In Pain. So we all knew it was him but he wouldn’t admit to it. That wasn’t gonna sit. So Cappo was there, and he goes up to this kid, and he says, “Look, all of these guys know where you live, and they know who your parents are. If you don’t give this record back, I am gonna have Agnostic Front and all of the Lower East Side skins come up here, and they are gonna kick your ass, AND they are gonna kick your parents’ asses too. Do you want that to happen?” I think the record was returned the next day with a box of candy and a bow.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Full Picture

I happened to have camera ready copies of these original classic Rev ads, along with full original photos that appeared on both album covers and ads. To me it’s always been interesting to see a little more of those well known photos that you know so well, but ordinarily would never see, as insignificant as they may or may not be. Since I have a large collection of photos, many of which have been used on actual records, I thought this could be a cool recurring feature on the page. -Tim DCXX

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Thursday, May 15, 2008

Joe Nelson recalls BL’AST!

[BL'AST! at Staches, Columbus, Ohio 8/20/1986 Photo: Jay Brown]

Expect much more BL’AST! material in the future, but for now we have some memories of the legend that is BL’AST! brought to you by none other than Joe Nelson.

-DCXX

I didn’t know those dudes at all. They were from up North, and older then me and my friends. Clifford was a scary motherfucker though. That whole band was intense. I had a run in with them at a Corrosion of Conformity/SNFU show which is a pretty funny story; Wishingwell Records, asked me to go down to Fenders and sell BL’AST shirts for the band one night. I think Courtney’s line to me was “Dude the band will probably ask for some shirts, so give them a dozen or something.” Anyway, I get there and set up, and am chilling at the merch table. I’m thinking to myself, “wow I’m the BL’AST merch guy. I’m with the BL’AST crew now.” Of course I was too dumb, or young, or a combo of both to actually go find the band first before setting up THEIR merch. Pretty soon Clifford walks up and goes “What the fuck do you think you’re doing?” Me: “Selling shirts.” Him, very irate: “Yeah I can see that mother fucker…who gave you permission to sell OUR SHIRTS?” Me: “The Dubars, they also said to give you a dozen shirts if you wanted.” Clifford then reaches across the table and pulls me over it with one hand. He basically threatens my life, which would not have been hard to take at the time since I was 16 and weighed about 120 lbs soaking wet. He shook me around for a little bit, and then let me go. I think Big Daryl and Big Frank actually came to my rescue, thank GOD. Of course, he took not only the dozen shirts I was supposed to give the band, but all of the shirts, effectively ending my 20 minute reign as the BL’AST merch guy.

Were they really straight edge? I don’t think they ever claimed to be straight edge. As far as I know they were stoners, who surfed, and skated. They definitely were not aligned with Straight Edge bands though. All of the Straight Edge kids loved them though. I played “Power of Expression” over and over when it came out. I remember thinking it was amazing how Clifford obviously wrote the words to the songs before there was music. All the songs read like one long run on sentence. That is pretty punk if you ask me.


Best show…I saw them just KILL it with The Exploited and Excel. It was just brutal, pissed aggression, but it always was with them. They were like taking a jack hammer straight to the face for 30 minutes. Their pits were pretty violent too. Skinheads, and other thugs loved slamming to that band. Black Flag was the end all be all for goon driven Southern California hardcore. I love Black Flag, but by 1984 when I first saw them, their audience was straight up thugs. I’m pretty sure Rollins and Ginn were so over their local fan base that they did stuff like “Process of Weeding Out” to basically do just that. Anyway, when Black Flag broke up in 1986, there had been a thirst for that style of skate thrash hardcore for sometime. It was a perfect void for BL’AST to fill. They were more Black Flag than Black Flag had been in years.

Did the fan base change when It’s In My Blood came out? It’s hard for me to say. It was definitely mellowing out more in So Cal anyway, so the response of “It’s In My Blood” probably was more to do with the scene changing then the actual material itself. When BL’AST came around the scene was still at its apex. The shows were huge, violent, and always filled with a mixed bag of bands. When It’s In My Blood dropped there was a segregation occurring. You had the straight edge scene, a thrash metal scene happening, and then the weird thing with “Dag Nasty, 7Seconds, and (Youth) Brigade was trying to pull off. I don’t think BL’AST fit in with any of that stuff. They never really fit in on any of those bills. How could you listen to BL’AST and then throw on something like Dag Nasty’s “Trouble Is”? Today… minus a handful of dudes my age nobody in O.C. probably knows who BL’AST even is. I remember going to their reunion shows not too long ago in L.A.,and the place was empty. Their time was 1986 – 1989 I guess, but what a time it was for them.

Twelve year old kids skating in that part of California today would not have a clue about BL’AST!

Up Front with Roger, June 2nd 1990

Up Front guitarist, Jon Field has been hard at work converting piles of old VHS hardcore videos to digital format. I’ve been going back and forth with Jon for quite awhile and he’s shown a lot of interest in contributing to DCXX. We decided to kick it off here with this recently digitized Up Front video from The Anthrax. Here’s what Jon had to say:


“Roger Lambert was a madman as a singer. Calm and fairly softspoken offstage, but able to do five foot high splits onstage. He sang for Up Front from January thru September of 1989, then left to form Courage with Ari Katz. In January of 1990 we began practicing with our new drummer Tim Schmoyer while we tried out singers. After Courage broke up, Roger agreed to come back and sing for some shows up and down the east coast in the Summer of ’90. We had a few singing parts in the new songs, and Roger handled those flawlessly. The clip below is from an old VHS tape I hadn’t watched in years of a set from The Anthrax. I’m usually pretty critical of bands I’ve been in, but this put a big smile on my face. I sent it to Roger and we emailed back and forth a bit talking about that video, Up Front, and life in general. Watch and enjoy…” - Jon Field

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Judge – “Fed Up”, at the Anthrax 1/7/89

While scouring YouTube as we often do here at DCXX, we came across this incredible Judge video from the Anthrax club in Norwalk, Connecticut, January 7th, 1989. Now I’ve seen this set before, but never at this exact angle and of this quality. Usually I would just ad this video to my favorites and call it a day, but decided posting it up here on DCXX might not be a bad idea.

Take note to Gus SXE’s dives, the dude knew how to get the job done. In case you can’t tell, he’s wearing a white GB “Better Than You” shirt. Early in the video Gus finds himself on top of the crowd, on his back, than powers himself off the crowd, back on to his feet, on the stage and then back into the crowd again with a spinning dive. Looked like a really fun show for sure and Judge sound incredible.

We’ll continue scouring YouTube for more exceptional hardcore videos to post up here. We’re also in the process of converting a lot of our own personal collection to digital format, so expect to see some of that in the future as well.

-DCXX

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Over The Line – THE WEIGHT interview



Over The Line reformed with a slightly different line-up this past year to record an EP for Livewire Records. We caught up with Steve Lucuski (vocals) who answered some questions about the band. Drummer Dan Servon also chimed in. Be sure to check out www.livewire-records.com for more info on the record.
-DCXX

Over The Line is known by most as a band from 1997 who did a demo and then peaced. How do you compare that band to the Over The Line that recorded an EP for release on Livewire in the near future? What is different, what is the same?

Steve: The Over the Line of ’96/’97 was an absolute blast and definitely short-lived. Horner (aka Fitz), Servon, and myself decided to write some material around 2000 in a mature and more evolved vein. Needless to say it never materialized after a few practices, and all that was left were 3 unfinished songs that would never see the light of day. Then 7 years later the Livewire guys expressed their interest in putting out an EP. We always wanted to put out this material but never had any intention of becoming a band again playing shows. If we were going to do a band together again playing shows, it wasn’t going to be Over The Line. The fact was that not only had our sound changed, but so did the lineup.

So after the conversation with Tim I reached out to the band to make this happen. It was a process to get us together for a long weekend to write and finalize songs and then record. I was satisfied with the result of the demo at the time, but felt we could offer a lot more. But the overall drive to do this I think came from our dissatisfaction with the Crucial Response demo 7”. The result was a layout that to me looked so generic and just not a good/real representation of us. Everything from the cover art to the layout is something I’m ashamed to be associated with. So after it was released it left a feeling with me that we had to leave on a better note and just raise the bar. Because the final result was something I sure wasn’t satisfied with. Even the shirt design for the 7” was so lame and printed on natural colored shirts. They were so bad, I didn’t even take one when Fitz received them in the mail. So this gave us an opportunity to get together again and to put out something we could be proud of and release an EP that truly represents us in every aspect.

Servon: Honestly I feel like this band started at one of the first FP practices. We were all hanging out at Red Bank Rehearsal. All of us were getting stoked on the FP shit, and I was doing a band with Don Steadfast around ’94 called Positive Impact. It was Youth Crew shit, good times, and Underdog covers. I think OTL started at a meeting outside of RBR, there was a great vibe around that time, and everyone was stoked on hardcore. EVERYONE. 1995-1996 was undeniable. FP came about at the right time. I think they were the fuel of the YC revival.


You guys are in your early 30s and have remained friends for well over a decade despite note exactly living on the same street. Is getting together to do a record worth it? Why not just get together, go eat, and hang out?


Steve: It’s absolutely worth it, because we did this for ourselves and if people are into it, that’s great. But we didn’t set out to put out an album that would just regurgitate our past. We wanted to progress in a more in your face thrash style that kicks you in the balls and has something to say. What I respect is the fact that Livewire is a label dedicated to putting out hardcore, whether or not it sells. That formula allowed us a no-boundaries approach to take with this. If everyone lived close we would still jam. I’m at a point in my life where I’m very career and money motivated.


Also, priorities change in life and going to shows every weekend isn’t an option nor would I want it to be. The days of being 16 and not having any responsibilities are long gone. There came a point in my life when hardcore was no longer the center of my world and it was time to grow up. It was time to focus and pursue the goals I set out to accomplish in my life. But just because I grew up didn’t mean that there was no longer a place for hardcore in my life. Some things never change and hardcore is one of them. Hardcore was never just a trend to any of us, it left a lasting impression. Just because we’ve grown up or aren’t straight edge anymore doesn’t change a fucking thing on what this music meant to me and still means to me. Hardcore to me always allowed for an aggressive lifestyle that allowed you to always be yourself and be proud of it. It helped to make me into the man I am today. It confirmed to me to always stand up for what you believe in and to never let anything stand in the way for what you set out to accomplish in life. It’s about having the eye of the tiger, the attitude of all, or nothing at all. To me, it is either you do something and fucking do it well, or don’t do it at all. And most importantly, to always have a Positive Mental Attitude.


I can remember always thinking outside of the box even as a kid. I remember when I was in Catholic grade school and the priest making this visit to all the boys in my class. My teacher and the priest pressured the boys in my class into being alter boys. Out of the class myself and one other were the only two to decline. It was a big ordeal at the time, but I refused and stuck to my guns. It just wasn’t for me so I took a stand. Not to mention getting caught doing ollies off the church steps that year didn’t help the situation either.


Even in hardcore over the years I realized things like straight edge or vegetarianism weren’t for me, and that’s fine. I’ve never been afraid to be myself and to do what I feel is right for me.


Growing up as a kid I was exposed to classic rock pretty heavily living in a house where my uncle would have band practice in the basement. It was awesome to hear his band play everything from AC/DC “Big Balls” to Allman Brothers’ “Whipping Post.” I remember in 1982 at the age of 6 buying my first album, The Who’s “It’s Hard.” So growing up in a musical household lead to me always have an interest in music.


I still listen to such a diverse catalog of music ranging from Led Zeppelin to BDP to the Four Tops, but nothing can compare to the energy and raw emotion I get from hardcore. I could be 70 and put on “Flame Still Burns” and would want to runs through walls and take on the world.


Servon: Well…yeah obviosly we’re not the same. We all grew up, and the truth is, I’m more angry now and find more need for a release. I think that goes for everyone. Honestly I don’t give a fuck what you think about it. I trust these guys and I know there is no ego with these dudes. If I got an idea it’ll be heard, I don’t think I have to explain hardcore to anyone in this band. If Steve or anyone comes up with an idea were running with it.


If Over The Line was capable of forming into a steady band that could play out, where do you think you would fit into the modern hardcore scene? What do you think of what is going on right now?


Steve: I really don’t know if we would fit into the scene anymore, outside of the Livewire community that seems to have a genuine interest in hardcore, not just the latest sounding trend in hardcore. Today is definitely not the times when the scene was filled with bands like the Bad Brains, Minor Threat, and SSD. Or even the times of Floorpunch, Ignite, and Redemption 87. At least not to me.


To me it has completely lost that feeling of excitement for me to see current bands. The only time that feeling returns is when there’s a reunion to see a band that hopefully still captures that energy they once had. The only bands that I’m aware of today that are even playing hardcore that I like and gives me some of that feeling are The First Step and Triple Threat. Other than that the scene seems to be filled with bands that I have no interest in, a lot of tough guy watered down metal bullshit.


In my eyes, very few hardcore bands can pull off hardcore with a metal edge to it. Integrity is one of the few. Yet so many bands are trying to emulate that style and just sound lame. Hardcore today is in desperate need of an inspirational band like Youth Of Today, who came along when the scene was practically dead and ridden with watered down metal. The majority of bands still around had turned to shit. They gave the scene the necessary kick in the ass it needed in order to return to something great once again.


Servon: Well…a steady band is impossisble, thank God. If we played a show we’d be laughed at and people would throw tomatoes. Honestly, I dont think we would fit into any “scene.” I think we’re branded as a revival ’96 band. Personally it’s not an insult, but it is what it is. I still support NJHC like Staring Problem, Splitting Headache, and The Fiddlers Five.Over The Line shows in 1996/1997 were pretty high energy.


Ten years later, with this line-up, do you think you would have lost a step in a live setting? Will this happen?


Steve: On my behalf I don’t think I’d lose a step. I’ve made a conscious effort on my part to I try to hit the gym 4 times a week and run on a consistent basis. I’ll be damned if after college I was going to become a beer bellied alcoholic or a weed smoking hippie who runs off to Vermont to follow the Greatful Dead around. I have too much self respect. I’ve made a commitment to my life to never grow fat and lazy. I really feel that a big part of how you feel about yourself can be said in how you look. Granted I’m not as extreme getting in the 5% range in body fat and bench pressing 300 pounds. It’s more about being ripped and in really good shape at this age.


I really don’t think that we would lose a step, even in our early 30s. No one in the band has really let themselves go so to speak. As for that happening I really don’t see it. With Fitz out in Utah being held under lock and key by a Morman cult, plus he’s too busy with his 10 wives. Seriously, at this point in our lives and our commitments, the chance is pretty slim.


Servon: I have a beer belly and a healthy appetite for BBQ.


If there was one hardcore show (or even one band’s set) you have seen in person over the years that sums up what it is all about to you, what do you pick?


Steve: Our first show in Fieldsboro, NJ where we jumped on Floorpunch’s set. I think it was with Ten Yard Fight, Floorpunch, and Hands Tied. It was such a great time to play a show with bands that we were all friends with. There was a real sense of unity at that time and a feeling in the air that hardcore was alive. To get out there with not even a demo out and bust out several songs and have kids really get into it was great. During our set our bass player Greg jumped and broke his ankle, so he sat the rest of the set. Not to mention Fitz and Servon totally fucking up one song, so we actually redid it. Looking back with all of this happening it just really added to the whole experience. Getting up on stage and having a chance to speak my mind and be part of such a great time in hardcore is a time I’ll always remember.


Servon: I think FP at Fieldsboro, driving my Chevette that exploded on the highway with my Matawan bros, then having Tim McMahon showing me the Mouthpiece Face Tomorrow seven inch layout with me in it, and them bringing me to their house to call my parents. No show can sum it up. But that was a good day.

Al SSD has his say…

Whoa – thanks to Pedro Carvalho for posting this on the Livewire Board. Not sure where this came from, but here’s what Lethal has to say about these apparent SSD reunion(s). We think this is awesome on so many different levels and hope there is more to come on this topic. – DCXX

There is absolutely no truth to any speculation that SSD will be performing this summer. The fact is original vocalist David Spring “Springa” is assembling a band of hired guns to tour and rip off the public playing under the name SSD. Due to his selfish actions David Spring has officially been terminated from ALL association with the band SSD. His attempt to recreate SSD in 2008 will utterly fail and I hope the public will not attend his performances and if they do they make it as miserable as possible for him to remain on stage safely. I know I personally will make every attempt to make him pay for his corrupt, cheating selfish actions. SSD will always be a team with integrity. It’s unfortunate that a fat overweight “has been” and “nobody” will try to fool the public under the mighty moniker SSD.


His overall contribution to what made SSD such a special band is so far under the radar and almost next to zero. Anybody intimately involved and close to the band understands his contribution. The real fact is that the band had to go out of its way to compensate for his talent, work ethic and criminal behavior.


I feel bad for those fans who have been waiting for a chance to see the band but attending this Dave Springa performance is a travesty and borderline criminal. He is a terrible human being and I’m not just saying this now. He is basically the reason the band dissolved. Our relationship has been civil since we stopped playing but clearly after then band dissolved his musical and organizational ability pretty much guaranteed his ability to get to get zero accomplished. He couldn’t write a song if it fell in his lap. Having said that, I have been monitoring this potential SSD ripoff roadshow for sometime and I have done my best to discourage it through various legal and illegal tactics. I have actually held off some royalties and payments to hold over his head and help him make the right decision.


He is basically following the business model laid out by Cliff from the Freeze, Chris Doherty from Gang Green, Choke from Slapshot. I can only speculate but I believe their motives are clear. I hate to throw anybody under the bus but I’m sure this support system of 40 year olds living in the past has helped David Spring organize the tour.


Motives


1) Rip off the public as 40 plus year-olds playing music made by kids and capitalize on American Hardcore Movie.


2) Make enough money to buy their alcohol, drugs and coke and whatever else.


3) Pounce on as many foreign chicks who think these American punk rock stars are special and give them 20 year old pussies. Hopefully they will give them something else as well.


4) Escape their miserable lives and US wifes and girlfriends to pursue their sexual fantisies.


5) Hopefully come back to US with enough money so they can collect unemployment and continue their life avoiding a disciplined work schedule in which you wake up and go to work. They will repeat the cycle every two years.


If it wasn’t for my efforts, Springa would have justified this plan and pulled this shit sooner. It seems like he might pull it off this time but I am a fucking fighter and I don’t take well to people ripping me off and tarnishing the name of my band. I am assemblng a network of supporters who will help do everything possible to make him uncomfortable and fearful for his safety at each show. If he gets close to the Boston or New York area then I will execute the plan. My goal is to make the tour fall apart due to poor attendance, hopefully get the promotors to back off after my legal representative serve papers. I would also appeal to the general public to understand when they are getting ripped off and for them to NOT BELIEVE that this lineup is SSD. It’s just a fat overweight scumbag breaking ranks from the band. He must be stopped.


Please share this letter to anybody or any punk rock news outlet. It’s time to put a stop to these rogue motherfuckers who have no integrity. Anyone who can help make David Spring’s life miserable will be on my list of close friends who I will be entirely indebted to and hopefully I can repay the favor somehow.


Thanks


Alan Barile
Leader SSD

Monday, May 12, 2008

Djinji Brown / Absolution – PART III

 

[Absolution at The Anthrax, Photo: Joe Snow]

Part three, and at this point, no introduction necessary.

Check out this audio clip to hear Djinji’s thoughts on the upcoming Absolution reunions.
-Gordo DCXX
The specifics are blurry, but I met Gavin in 1986 as one of the first people I was introduced to in the scene, and we met in Washington Square Park. He was somebody you always would know about. He was a presence, no doubt. On a physical level, I knew about his fighting skills. I didn’t know him on a musical level or for his talent. I knew him for street rep. I saw him knuckle up a few people, and when I was out proving myself, I jumped into a few things that a teenager jumps into. Gavin had a lot of anger inside of him, but also a big heart!  

I was friends with him way before the band. I knew him when he would squat, he had it rough. Whether he took it rough or it was given to him rough, he survived a lot of shit. And at that time, I didn’t even know how much talent he had. Even then, we weren’t really concerned with each other’s talent as much as we were concerned about each other’s energy level. And when we started playing together…man. It was dope…it was just so fuckin’ ill.  

But before all that, I went to Europe with my Dad after I graduated high school in June 1987. I missed the lower east side so much. I remember that because I was hanging tough with Harley at the time. And man, I just missed it and my friends so much. After I came back, Gavin I think approached me at a matinee or something, because I think he liked my energy in the pit, I’m sure that’s what it was. Maybe something else but I don’t know. And he posed the question to me about singing. I was so scared, I was reluctant to do it at first. At the time, I really didn’t know that’s what I wanted to do. But he posed the question.  

I actually thought I was gonna go and play drums in a punk rock group with Sergio, because I was trying to play drums at the time. We would go into one of my Father’s friend’s rehearsal studios back in ’86-’87. Me, Sergio, punk rock George, Kimo, and we’d go in there and drink malt liquor and blue wine coolers and play punk rock in front of the jazz musicians. They thought we were crazy. It was crazy! Oh yeah that shit I said about jazz kids being nuts, it’s just the pot calling the kettle black, because look at my crazy ass. So no hard feelings, that was just how I felt as a kid.

But I got back in late August 1987 from Europe and that’s when he introduced the idea to me. I hesistated, but by September we started rehearsing so it didn’t take that long. He found Alan Peters, I think Alan knew Greg, and boom. Alan had just finished doing a recording and some gigs with Agnostic Front but for personal reasons was no longer in the band, he was between bands and he was looking for a place to express himself. If I remember, the name Absolution comes from Alan. My memory could serve me wrong, you know, it’s been a long time between now and then, but if not from Alan Peters then it was a collaboration between Alan and Gavin. But I didn’t come up with the name. I remember Alan being by far the most philosophical one, the most well read at the time. He was a little older and calmer I was the youngest at 17. Both he and Greg were real laid back. I learned a lot from Alan and Greg on an intellectual and philosophical level.

With Gavin, it was more about the raw execution of it. To me Gavin was Hardcore through and through, he lived and breathed that shit on a daily basis. Gavin did the footwork to get us all together. It was his idea and I think its safe to say it was his baby although Absolution was dear to all of us.

Teenagers don’t really think shit out. Teenagers just do shit. I don’t remember it being that premeditated. The only premeditation was, “Let’s do a band.” Most hardcore bands already hung out and were friends. Bands were groups of friends first, let’s put that up front. If there is a five-piece, at their high point, at least three of them have to be tight as people and as friends, not just people playing together. With us, as a four-piece, we were all friends, and we were introduced by friends. This was a community, it wasn’t a “go to the store and buy it thing.” You didn’t put it on or just do it as a “for hire” thing. You brought it out of yourself. This was not a “just add water thing.” We were friends, and friends go through ins and outs, egos, in such a testosterone driven medium.

When I got back into hip hop, even though there was still a lot of testosterone in it, I found that the vibes and frequencies on a sonic level were a little bit easier. You go through rocking for twenty years up against Ampeg amps and Marshall stacks, stage monitors, P.A. systems and big drum kits…man. That shit is fucked up. Your ears are gonna be damaged, you might even have stomach problems from being up that close to those frequencies. People have health issues from that shit. That’s why folks like the Bad Brains, and John, and Gavin, Ray Cappo and countless others, they took their health seriously. They took their health, and diet, and exercise seriously, because they knew what the rigors of the road were. They knew what performing did. It was no fucking joke, you had to take care of yourself.

But we got together as friends and did it as friends. And when bands stop being friends, they break up. Time to go find new friends. You get in a fight on the playground, so you go and find new friends. “Hey, you wanna be my friend now?” That’s what happened back then. That’s how I remember feeling it. But starting out, it was not premeditated.  

For me, I knew who my heroes were. But I didn’t say, “Ok, this is how I’m gonna bite their moves.” The music just inspired me. Same thing with being a rapper, a producer and DJ. I don’t go and copy a DJ or someone’s beats and rhymes, and it was the same thing with fronting a band. It was about me saying, “yeah, thanks brothers, for showing me the light.” The Brains and the Cro-Mags, they showed me the light. Especially them, because they had a strong spiritual message. I think I had a different style with the lyrics and singing the lyrics than John had though. I listen now to myself now and I’m like, “Damn, take a breath man, take a breath! Relax!” I was trying to spit like HR. But who could reproduce “Pay To Cum?” Nobody. Nobody could ever spit like that. You know? That’s like to trying to rap like Ghostface Killah…yeah right, you know?

After Miami, we have to do New York. Have to. I have a daughter growing up there. I have to do it for her, for Sergio’s daughter, Gavin’s son, you know? And all the other kids. The spirit of Raybeez, Charlie, Chuck, and all them cats. I wasn’t friends with all of them, but they were all there for me in different ways. They were a part of the community. I mean CB’s is gone! A lot has changed in 20 years, you know that’s how it’s got to be. So I gotta go back up there and lay it down. I was out of the family, brother! I would venture back in when I wanted to, and not that I didn’t care, but I just wasn’t there. I didn’t have the desire to go back. What’s hardcore without desire? A fire with no flame!

I was a dreamer. I was really wishing at the time that the hardcore scene was more balanced on an ethnic level. During my travels in life, I have been around so many different mixes of people. When I say mix, I don’t mean just more black Americans per se, I just mean more ethnicities being present at the time. That time in the late 80s coincided with the birth of rap groups like Public Eneny, Eric B and Rakim, KRS-One and BDP. Their messages to young black men were loud clear and straight to the point. And at the time I was getting into more of my own search of cultural studies that lead me out of the hardcore paradigm, if you see what I am saying. And those cultural studies led me to doing more reading and exploring of Afro-American culture, Afro-Caribbean culture, Afro-Brazilian Martial Arts, etc.

I never really paid attention to my own black history seriously growing up. It was like jazz and black culture – I was so surrounded by it as a baby and as a kid that I didn’t give a fuck about it in my late teens. Deep down I was trying to escape the visual manifestations of racism. In the hood the imbalances are very frustrating and the challenges can definitely defeat a brother. And that’s what those hip hop groups I mentioned were talking about. Crack killed a whole generation, it stole their spirits and left them empty. So many brothers were getting locked down and fucked up from the drug game. Even if you weren’t in it, it affected you. I grew up with some dudes who thought “real niggas go to jail, come out and get more ill!”

That’s one of the reasons why I left the Bronx and went downtown. I knew it was a ghetto too – the L.E.S. I wasn’t that naïve. Nah, I knew about alphabet city, but I thought the hardcore scene was gonna be a safe haven from racism and other imbalances. Then over time you start to see that’s not the case. And then you have to start to deal more with the nazi or white power skins, then other counter factions. It goes on and on and with that, at a point it just got too extreme for me. Like, why am I even playing for these motherfuckers? Just the fact they exist, why am I even putting myself into a scene where they even exist? And racism is always an issue that I have to deal with, no matter where I am. I was always trying to escape it, on some real shit.

Then I remember The Black Rock Coalition, a collective of black rock bands started to make some noise and gather some attention. 24-7 Spyz, Vernon Reid’s Living Color, to name a few. A lot of talented bands but I wasn’t into that thing either. I understood where they were coming from but I didn’t want to see more separation in the music. Plus in my mind, if Jimi Hendrix and the Bad Brains didn’t label their shit Black Rock, then why should they? I understood it, but I wasn’t with it. And there were some things with the scene, like why am I even putting myself in the middle of this shit? I had experienced racism other places. But honestly at the time I had my own insecurities, confusions and questions about being black. I had my own imbalances and they all came to a head. I kinda had to go back home and look for some answers. And that’s what I did when I didn’t have a band anymore.

Ironically I after I left ‘the scene,’ I began to work at The Caribbean Cultural Center where Sergio’s mother Marta Moreno Vega was the founder and director, and my boss. She’s been a community and educational activist since the 60s. El Barrio, LES, The Bronx, Brooklyn… she was a fighter for the people and she still is. So I worked there while I was in engineering school. I learned a lot about culture, art, music, politics, African belief systems and the many contributions that were made to the “New World” from Native Americans, Asians and Africans. This time I wanted to learn on my own, I felt it wasn’t being forced on me, my culture that is. I began studying Capoeira, a martial art developed by enslaved Africans in Brazil. As a result I traveled to Brazil in December of 1990 and enjoyed Carnival 1991 in Salvador Bahia. If you think CBGBS got sound, check out a Samba school live!!! That’s a whole other story.

But Absolution was my first and only hardcore band. That was my only girl. And I’m glad, too. Because even in the past few years when people would ask about it, I didn’t wanna go there. I wanted to keep her pure, I didn’t even wanna go back there. So many fallouts happened after that with people I knew, with myself, and Gavin at the time. I saw a lot of falling outs with friends I knew and that shit was wack. I didn’t want to be in the middle of my people talking shit about each other or fighting each other. Taking sides and shit, all wack for me! I just wanted to get the fuck out.

But with Gavin and I getting back on stage in Miami, I’m just gonna rock on that vibe. We are gonna represent for Alan, Greg , Jerry Williams, Brian Childers (R.I.P.) and so many people we want to rock, and it’s like BOOM!!! I’ll just let that shit explode.

POST SCRIPT:

“We were the self taught, street educated, self determined, drug medicated, thugged out or punked out we still regulated, from the heart from the start, out the gutter with art we elevated! R.I.P to those who never graduated out the class of the underclass and remained heavily sedated, as their souls pass the memories fill just a half full glass. Inhaling off a pull then pass, I stage dived and stayed live when I busted my ass. What a blended time, at times too bitter sweet to remember we used to pray for Absolution to make a bold heart tender, as our sound warmed the floors of cold squats in December!

I’m not advocating the use of drugs…it’s an unfortunate truth, that the use of drugs is often a sign of missing love and hugs. No one to talk to that really understands, a trip becomes a vacation to a far away land. A place to go anywhere but here, anywhere but home with no round trip fares. Only one way streets with dead end roads, and broken glass when a brain explodes, then when a brain erodes from too much stimulation it’s too late to go back and change the situation. Extreme mind elevation leads to bleeding nations. They used to feed negroes cocaine after Emancipation. Work harder and longer, eat less but work stronger, some coke and a drink, makes you smile and wink even when they got you hauling sweet grass the heat makes your ass stink. Holmes 7% solution was an elixir for solving crime, so they made him a hero and me a zero when I got caught copping a dime. But it’s all good cuz the world is a hood full of clichés, although I do smoke weed, I do take heed and stay away from the cold drug craze!!!!!!!!!!!!”

[INTERVIEW TO BE CONTINUED]

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