Sunday, April 20, 2008
This is part of an ongoing piece where we asked various people from bands over the years what they recall as the most memorable show they ever played (or attended, if they were never in a band), and why. What is posted here is only a sliver of what is to come, so be sure to check back. -DCXX
Playing in a HC band can be a real trip, at times it can be a real mind twister. One thing I told myself when people started paying any attention to THE FIRST STEP was “alright – I am not going to let this effect me whether things are good or bad.” Well try as I might – I wasn’t always successful at that. At one point, it felt like THE FIRST STEP (TFS) could do no wrong. Everywhere we looked were enthusiastic friends looking to us to provide them with straight edge hardcore. A few years later of course things had changed. We were able to see what kind of idiots we were at times, yesterday’s “friends” were today’s “regrets,” and other people had changed and that’s just how it goes. The way that happened for us was funny though. I don’t think it was the kind of thing where anyone set out to do anyone wrong. On the contrary, I think HC is basically people growing up, learning, making mistakes, following their instincts and doing whatever makes sense at the time.
Anyways, around 2005 I really wasn’t too happy about the Hardcore scene around me. I had made a few good friends in the last few years who I was no longer close with. First on the list was our old bass player, Andy Norton. Andy was easily one of the best people I had ever been in a band with. But, as anyone who has been in band can tell you, at times you can easily forget about that kind of stuff and let the silliest things get between you. Basically – TFS had broken up a few years before and Andy and I grew distant during that period and disagreed on getting it going again.
At this time Andy was playing bass for our old friends CHAMPION. A few years before we had done a tour together, as well as played several shows. We were both somewhat new bands at the time, and I would say that our tour together was one where we grew, experienced a lot of things for the first time and generally had a blast. However, while our bands sounded quite similar, for a few years after we had managed to drift apart. CHAMPION was touring heavily, and we were doing our own thing. This wasn’t the kind of thing where there was “shit talking” or bad vibes of course – but it was more of a mutually curious “man I have NO IDEA what’s going on with those guys.”
THE FIRST STEP and CHAMPION finally played together, after about 2.5 years, in Florida. I enjoyed their set and I thought “man I miss playing with these guys.” The CHAMPION guys were as friendly as I had remembered them and it was great to catch up. But things were definitely not settled with myself and Andy. I hadn’t felt good about our falling out for quite awhile. I decided to take this show as an opportunity to confront Andy and apologize for letting things slip. For the uninitiated – Andy has A LOT of love. He is such a friendly and generous guy – but when you are on the wrong side of that – it feels cold. Anyways – after the show I told him “hey man – I really miss our friendship and I acknowledge that I did you wrong. I let you down – and I apologize.” It was a hard thing to say – but it was really how I felt. He accepted my apology – but seemed to have an equally awkward time with that interaction.
So that’s the backstory! And now onto the show! It was early summer of 05, THE FIRST STEP were doing a weekend of final shows with OUR TURN. Our San Diego show at the CHE CAFE included CHAMPION, and Aram’s new band BETRAYED. It was good to see CHAMPION so soon again. They had their first drummer back in the band which meant that it was basically like “reuniting” the bands who had toured together several years before. I still hadn’t seen Andy at the show though.
OUR TURN played, and I remember it being the best time I had seen them. They weren’t around very long and were already breaking up – so it was nice to see them play in a nice packed venue with a good stage for diving. Where TFS was a band of uniform and solidarity – OUR TURN was a band of diversity. It was clear this weekend that they were beginning to go their different directions. But at this show they were tight. Carl, their singer, really went crazy that night. It showed that he wasn’t just posturing as a HC singer doing moves, but that he was really putting all of himself into the set. I mentioned it to him later and he said he was “just aware that this show would probably be their last.” He also had this blue San Fransico Wrestling type shirt on. It looked STRONGLY like the JOHN JAY shirts that we knew from investigating BOLD photos. Good look Carl! He confessed later that the shirt was really from a “gay men’s clothing line.” Best looking guy at the show!
I believe BETRAYED played next. They were new – but quickly had a STRONG following. I remember being really stoked on them as they started. Mainly because they were all friends of mine prior to being a band, and it was obvious that they were going to do some good things. I was excited for Greg because he had recently gone through a rough patch with his bands. I was particularly excited to see my friend Aram sing. Aram was the first member of CHAMPION I met. He is the kind of Hardcore kid who will walk right up to you at a show and start talking and sharing with you. In our tours together he was always having deep talks, or cutting up, making big plans, and he is VERY straight edge. A lot of dudes just end up on the mike – but he was ideal for it and he had A LOT to say. I was glad to see my friend up on stage sharing himself, and not another kid who was playing around to get some attention. Lastly – I had recently made amends with my friend Todd Jones. He could be as hardheaded and stubborn as me – but it felt better to be cool with each other again. I was excited to hear what new riffs he had and how he was always taking his ideas and sound farther – particularly at this time.
Then THE FIRST STEP was up. I remember I was nervous to play after BETRAYED. We hadn’t played California in a while and I wasn’t sure if kids still had the love. I was wrong. The place was ape for TFS. Something about “the Che” is that they have these rafters that kids could swing on and then kind of dive. I remember our friend Larry Ransom heckling Greg Bacon. Something that Todd Jones initiated at this time was a “GREG BACON” chant. It would start small, but then you’d have a whole show chanting “GREG BACON.” This was awesome because Greg can be a bit shy and reserved – but he deserves love. Anyways – the part that this was all building to was yet to come. We always ended our set with our song “THE FIRST STEP.” During the “preMOSH break” Greg handed his bass to Andy, who I still hadn’t seen that night, and Andy played the rest of the song. I remember him really going off and being happy. While at the FL show it felt like we merely talked – at this show it felt like things were going to be ok afterall! After the song ended – we decided to play WOLFPACK by DYS to the appreciation of the crowd.
Seeing Andy play with us again really blew my mind. A few months before I felt that was a bridge which I had burnt and would never be able to retrace. It was also similarly nice to be around my old friends in CHAMPION and Todd Jones and feel great vibes instead of silly “uncertain” HC vibes.
There are a lot of great times to be had in HC – but you can’t really enjoy them on your own. The people around you, and what they have to offer are our opportunity to participate and connect with this music. Without your friends you can easily become just an isolated nerd. To me – this show was REALLY good in terms of recent\ HC shows (great line up), great energy from the crowd, great turn out; but what made it memorable to me was reconciling with good friends. I believe in reconciliation and it felt great to be forgiven and to connect with my friends.
Karma Jinpa Zangpo
Friday, April 18, 2008
I’ll never forget it…Enuf, along with Life’s Blood, Vision and Bold were playing at Rutgers’s Scott Hall in the fall of ’88. Enuf were the opening band and I was very attentively tuned into their set. At one point, Enuf’s front man, AJ, looks over to the side of the stage and puts a song out to Jules from Side By Side, who was watching on. AJ goes on to drop the bomb on Jules’s new band called Alone In A Crowd, said they were a mix between Negative Approach and Last Rights and said to watch out for them. Being a huge fan of Side By Side and considering they had recently broken up, I was ecstatic over the fact that Jules was starting something new.
Over the next few months following that Scott Hall show, I acquired a cassette tape rough mix of the soon to be released Alone In A Crowd 7″. When I first laid ears on this I was blown into oblivion. It wasn’t as good as Side By Side…in my opinion, it was better. Jules’s voice was stellar, just simply an as-good-as-it-gets type of hardcore vocals. The music was hard as nails and almost made you want to kick someone’s teeth in. I was a fan, I was hooked and I wanted more.
Soon after hearing the 7″ recording, I got my hands on yet another Alone In A Crowd recording. This one was the live set from their one and only show at the Anthrax in Norwalk Connecticut. You know the show: Judge, Hogan’s Heroes, Alone In A Crowd and Chain Of Strength… definitely a show I wouldn’t have minded attending had I been able to. But back to this live tape, it opens with Jules yelling, “Is anybody there? Does anybody care? Does anybody see what I see? Or am I just alone in a fucking crowd?!?!” That intro alone sent shivers down my spine. That was just the beginning. Song intro after song intro, Jules delivers non-stop, top-shelf commentary. Maybe to this day, some of the coolest stage banter I’ve ever heard in 20 plus years of hardcore. How can you beat, “If you are sick of people going back on words that they say, if you are sick of people that are straight edge one day and no edge the next, if you are sick of people lying, then sing along, this song is called Commitment!” And what about a simple quote like, “This song goes out to the Youth Crew… old and new, this song is called Teenager In A Box!” Honestly, this live tape is priceless and again, a constant source of quotes that give you chills.
Fast forward to late 1989/early 1990 and my friend Tony and I are working on the second issue of our fanzine, Common Sense. We made it a goal to try and get an interview with Jules regarding Alone In A Crowd. Thinking back, I can’t quite remember how the interview came together, but I do know that Tony eventually tracked Jules down and the interview happened. Common Sense number two was released in early 1990 to a very limited release. My dad had them copied at his work, so we pretty much got as much as he could get done. I’m not sure how many were printed, but I’m guessing it was around 100 or less. I think we sold all of them at one City Gardens show, maybe a few going out in the mail. So considering most people have never seen the second issue of Common Sense, I thought it would be cool to reprint this one particular interview. Maybe I’ll reprint more of the interviews that appeared in the future, we’ll see how it goes. Enjoy this one for now and if you have a copy of that Alone In A Crown live tape, play it while reading this interview, it can only enhance the experience. -TM DCXX
Why are Alone In A Crowd breaking up?
Well, originally the band was only supposed to be a project. This recording is going to be the final thing. Our original line up was Carl of Raw Deal on bass, Lars and Rob from Uppercut playing guitar and drums and this kid Howie playing guitar. I got this crazy idea of actually being a band, so we got the new line up and then I found out I didn’t have the time or effort to do another band. I’m real pleased with the way it came out, it’s good music and it’s a good message.
How would you describe the sound of Alone In A Crowd?
It’s been compared to as a cross between the Cro-Mags and Last Rights, but that’s up to other people to decide. There’s a lot of different stuff in there.
So It’s definitely hardcore then, right?
I like to think of it as that. I don’t know if you would think of it as that but it’s not like Side By Side. There’s not a mosh part every 15 seconds.
What is the lyrical content of Alone In A Crowd?
Well, I think the record is going to be call “Commitment”. I’m not really sure, it’s up to Brian from Flux Records, he’s printing up the covers. It’s just about sticking to your guns, which I think nobody does and it’s annoying to think that I follow people who say things that are honorable and then not live up to it. Like they’ll say, “Well, you should have a lactose free diet” or “You shouldn’t kill animals”. Here I am, doing my my best to get rid of dairy products and here they are, eating pizza and waring leather sneakers. I’m not snapping on Youth Of Today or anybody, that’s just an example. It just bugs me that here I am, I’m trying to do something right, everyone can talk real big but they can’t stick it out.
How was the one show you played with Judge, Hogan’s Heros and Chain Of Strength in November of 1988?
It was great. The crowd was incredibly receptive.
Do you think they would have been as receptive if you weren’t Jules from Side By Side?
No! (Laughter) To be terribly honest, I hate that rockstar shit. I think it was kinda people who were looking forward to see if it was really good or not.
What are your future plans as a person?
Basically I’m going to CCNY. Probably go to diving school because that’s really what I want to do.
Can I ask a few Side By Side quesions?
Yeah sure, I don’t care.
Why did Side By SIde break up?
The other people got better offers. They weren’t happy with what I wanted to do with the band.
What’s the deal with “Backfire”? Some of those lyrics were questionable.
“Backfire” I co-wrote the lyrics to that song and basically what it means to me is that there are people out there who have a real hard guy act. Like these guys come in from Jersey, go down to the projects and beat up some kids, five on one and then split so they have some story to tell their friends and the people on the lower east side are like, “Wait a minute, when two hundred project kids sweep through Thompson Square Park with bats, it’s not right”. There’s a point where you have to say, “Wait, that’s bullshit”. A lot of people thought it was a violent song and it counteracted “Violence To Fade”, my attitudes changed though. I thought we could stop violence, but I guess I was proven wrong because the more I sang about it, the more it happened, it was ridiculous. Maybe I weakened, maybe I gave in, but no one really deserves to get their ass beaten.
What’s your definition of “Hard” in hardcore?
Basically, this is it. I don’t care what anybody says, it’s not how many tattoos you have, it’s not how bad you walk or how bad you talk. It’s weather you stand behind what you say. You don’t go from being a peace punk to going to a nazi, that’s soft. Being hard is standing behind your beliefs.
How can I finish this one up good? Ya know, I’ve come to a point in my life where I’ve accomplished all that I want. Side By Side was a damn good band and Alone In A Crowd was a damn good project. The records are good and sure, I’m proud of that stuff, but I really wish I could have gone further. To have a good band you gotta have time and I don’t have any. Plus don’t let anybody talk anything about me because I haven’t swayed from what I believe.
Does it feel strange to be so young and have accomplished so much?
What do you mean, “To be so young”, I feel ancient man! Then I look at Billy, the bass player of Side By Side and he’s 26, he’s seen it since the beginning. It’s too changing for me, I guess I’m old fashioned. I go downtown now, there’s no one I know. I see someone I know once in a blue moon. It’s not my place anymore, but I just hope they don’t fuck it up. I hope they don’t screw up what we worked for.
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Warzone seven inch: here is where it all kicked off. Could you tell us a good Raybeez story involving this record? I am sure he had some hand in it, and I am sure it is somehow funny. Also, for the first Revelation release, what do you think of this record?
Raybeez was one of the most gracious and friendly people I ever dealt with believe it or not. When Cappo interviewed me for the “Talk About Unity” documentary (coming…soon…not too soon, but soon) he asked me to talk about Raybeez and I said something like “he was a really nice guy,” then Cappo cut me off saying something like “you can’t just say he was a nice guy! Describe him! He was a big skinhead with tattoos. Paint the picture for people.” He must have seemed like a scary guy to some people, but at that point, I considered the punks and hardcore people my friends regardless of what they looked like. Obviously he had a reputation and was a skinhead but I never saw anything that correlated with either of those stories or stereotypes personally so I accepted him as he presented himself to me…a decent guy. Really, the only funny things about Ray that I experienced are the things that everyone already knows about him. His handwriting was grafitti influenced and he always put quotation marks in all four corners.
NFAA seven inch: the first west coast Revelation release. Do you recall this being a big deal, getting a west coast band on the label? Did it mark Revelation at the time as a label that was just bigger than the NY/CT ties it previously held? Whose doing was the release?
Ray and Porcell were friends with Dan from touring and that’s how that happened. It was only a big deal in the sense that it was the first band from outside the area we were going to work with. But it wasn’t that much of a big deal, people seemed happy about it and then we started getting demos from other bands in CA too.
NYC Hardcore The Way It Is LP: to this day, if you had to pick a song off of that comp to represent that time and the record most appropriately, what would you pick? Why? Is there a song on there that still means as much to you 20 years later as it did when you heard it for the first time?
I’m better with the technical details than opinions, but this is pretty much impossible for me to answer. I had such a great time working on that record that pretty much everything on there meant something to me. The songs that Warzone and Bold and all the other bands I already knew were great. Talking to Neil from Nausea, Jason and Damon from Krakdown, Jeff from Breakdown and everyone else was really good and it felt like a record that everyone was going to like. I guess “As One” and “Together” were sort of theme songs for that comp because they definitely captured the spirit of it.
BOLD seven inch: to this day, many people can’t get over how much this band “changed” from “Speak Out” the previous year, to this release. New splatter logo left of center, power trio photo, acid wash jean jacket, backwards sound byte. Do you remember thinking “Man, I guess Matt Bold has grown up?”
It’s hard to believe that was only one year later, but there also must have been at least a year between the time Bold recorded Speak Out to when it finally came out, so maybe the actual musical transition wasn’t so abrupt. Yeah…the photo. They got more shit from their friends for that than from anyone else. I thought it was a little over the top, but it wasn’t too long before that record came out that our record layouts were done with photocopies and scotch tape so just having good production values on a record layout that I put together myself (under the band’s direction) was probably all I was worrying about. I think that was the first record that we did that Dave Bett didn’t design that went through normal (or close to normal) record sleeve printing production. Everything before that was done locally and had folded paper in plastic bag covers except for the first two thousand Sick Of It All records which were printed locally and then hand cut and glued into record jackets by me mostly and a couple of my friends.
Quicksand seven inch: in your eyes, did this band have future rock stardom written all over it with this release? What were your thoughts on the artwork then and now? Was it a real departure from hardcore to you? Could you believe that you were releasing a record that featured the lyric “excrementable?”
That’s funny that you mention that word. I used to argue with Walter about it because I didn’t want to see him using a grammatically “incorrect” word. He didn’t seem to care, but I’d basically argue that you can’t turn a noun into an adjective by adding “able” to the end if that noun has a verb form. In other words, the “correct” way to say that, would be to use “excretable.” A similar example using a different Quicksand word is “omission.” If you wanted to say something could be done without, you would say “omittable,” not “omissionable.” From what I remembered he thought it was amusing that I cared about it, but he just liked the way it was.
“Are those SSD sweatpants or an SSD shirt on dude’s leg?” “What are the ‘three words that come to mind’?” “Who was Roy A. Addington?” “Why is ‘NO’ your answer?”
These are all questions we have asked over the years (and of course, found answers to). Yet in the continuous quest for more information about the band that dropped ten perfect songs in three years (with another rager fully surfacing a half decade later), and taught many of us how to jump with a guitar in our hands, we have to ask more questions. This time we went directly to Curt Canales, who we will continue to post interview excerpts from in the coming days.
(PS: Breakdown is great without question…but better than CHAIN? No support here). True Till Death. -DCXX
Give us the scoop on how Chain Of Strength came together-
Chain began sometime in ’88. Ryan and I knew each other from local shows as well as the previous bands we were in. Ryan asked me to join the band he was forming, “Chain Of Strength” he called it, and I happily agreed. Paul (Frosty) and Chris joined, too. The bass spot took several months to fill. Doug Bellows (Circle Storm) filled in until Alex joined.
Did CHAIN hit the ground running? It always has seemed like things moved quickly?
Our first practice space was in the “cubby hole,” a local space a lot of bands used because it was cheap. We then practiced and wrote many of the songs (True Till Death) at the “Chain House” in Pomona. Chain never really struggled in the beginning. I think that created a lot of resentment towards us, especially since our first show had YOT, Underdog and Soulside… to name a few. In retrospect, I can understand some of the criticism, but you have to know where we came from, and the years we spent in the hardcore scene which helped us to establish great relationships.
You guys hit the road east multiple times – what are your recollections?
Touring was obviously great. Unfortunately we had many rumors to contend with. There was the Sick of It All Feud that was supposed to blow up at our first CBGB show. When we finally met them, they were actually some of the nicest guys we ever met. I remember playing in Boston. We were playing with YOT and Slapshot, and the Goon Squad showed up and threw raw meat all over the sidewalk. I guess they were indignant with Ray’s vegetarianism? Or, maybe because they (Slapshot) were becoming irrelevant?
You might laugh, but people back then and still today talk about how you guys looked, dressed, and carried yourselves, i.e. “did they find Curtis at a beach?” “New Kids On The Block,” etc. Even Moondog’s song “Pretty Boy” is apparently a direct hint at the band. Any response?
I think there were many problems with the HC scene in ”90-’91. Straight edge was changing! We were “mocked” and “ridiculed” because we adopted our California style, which annoyed the “youth crew” traditionalist. Then I started to see this Krishna movement, where kids were being indoctrinated into this religion, and all I kept hearing in my head was, “you call it religion, you’re full of shit!” And then we’d visit Cleveland, and bands were coming onstage with baseball bats! And this fascism that we were all so against was suddenly appearing within the greatest youth movement, straight edge! It was over…for me.
What are your favorite shows that you remember attending and playing? Favorite record?
Attended: Agnostic Front at 12XU in Pomona. Check out the Flipside video, you’ll see this young 15 year old dancing around. Played: Cro-Mags at City Gardens. (Ed. note: We are awaiting some sort of confirmation that this show ever happened?). Record: Millions of Dead Cops.
What are you up to today?
I want to first say: “I’m not a Cop.” I am an Entrepreneur, married with two boys.
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Coming off the Turning Point demo entry is a classic story brought to you directly from Turning Point axeman, Jay Laughlin. We’ll continue to bring random memories from people regarding the best shows they remember playing/attending. Jay’s piece couldn’t have landed in our inbox at a better time, and while we are usually down to mix things up a little bit here with the content, DOUBLE CROSS couldn’t argue with a double dose of Turning Point this week. Great stuff if we might say so. -DCXX
So this is an easy question and it was actually two shows in one day. I really did give this some thought, and about then different shows popped into my head right off the bat: opening for Swiz in nowhereville, Pennsylvania; any show at the Anthrax in CT; opening for Quicksand at City Gardens…all were great highlights while playing in TP. But somehow, we lucked into playing with Gorilla Biscuits at a CBGB’s matinee one afternoon and then playing a show with Vision at City Gardens later in that same evening. We were all really huge GB fans so getting to play with them at CB’s was just fucking awesome, and then to top it off we got to play our first show at City Gardens, the club I attended so many times to see some of the best shows/bands for the past few years prior. We played plenty of great shows but this was easily the best day for the band. Yet it wasn’t just the actual shows, but the whole day’s experience.
It kicks off with us doing the CB’s show, and it was great. We stuck around for GB’s set and they killed it. We pack up the van with what we thought was plenty of time to get to City Gardens, at least a three hour cushion for sure. I was the guy in the band that owned the van and did most of the driving and also the guy that drove the piece of shit everyday and knew it wasn’t the most reliable vehicle on the planet. Something was always wrong with it, but I was young and very lazy with the standard up-keep that any automobile needs to stay a viable means of transportation.
So we start our trek out of NYC and on the way to the Holland Tunnel while still feeling the adrenalin high of a great show at CB’s. To add to it, we were pumped and ready to do it again for our debut at City Gardens. Just then, we hit some really crazy traffic. Not to be unexpected to anybody that has ever driven in NYC, but this was really, really bad. Just sitting in the same spot for minutes on end. It was like a fucking parking lot, man. Turns out it was the day of the Gay Pride Parade and we happened to drive right into the middle of it. It was the middle of summer too, so it was just blazingly hot out and the van didn’t have any AC. There were just hundreds of half dressed guys/girls spilling into the streets causing a total clusterfuck of a traffic jam, and guess what? The damn van starts to over heat. Shit.
I look at the temperature gauge and my heart drops, the needle is almost in the red. We had a few friends along for the ride so we have all the gear and seven guys in the van. Somebody tells me to turn on the heat as it will help keep the engine temperature down. I fire up the heat full blast and the inside of the van went from really uncomfortable to “I think I could pass out and/or die” hot. It was so bad that most of the van’s occupants stripped down to their boxers to try and stay cool/alive. So here we are running late for the City Gardens show, sitting in our underwear in the middle of the Gay Pride Parade. Unreal. Turning the heat on did help keep the van going, and once we made it to the Jersey side of the tunnel and could actually drive over 5 mph the van cooled down and we were on our way.
We get to City Gardens and are informed we are way late and would have to go on right away or not play at all. We had to use the opening bands gear to make our set time so we literally had to grab our guitars out of the van and hit the stage. We were burnt from the heat, the earlier show and extra long drive, but got up a did our thing.
Now here’s the kicker for me…City Gardens had a decent sized drum riser. I guess it was a two to three feet off the stage. I can’t remember if it was the first, second or third song of our set, but I did a patented straight edge jump with my guitar in hand and didn’t realize I was a bit to close to the drum riser, and ended up catching my feet on it on my way down. “BAM!” I went straight down with only my face to catch my fall. Fuck! I bounced right back up totally embarrassed in front of pretty big crowd and kept playing like nothing happened. Luckily I was OK and the rest of the show went off without a hitch.
The worst part (or best part for anybody but myself) is that a friend had been video taping the show, and a few days later had brought it over to Skip’s house. Once the guys caught a glimpse of me smashing my face on the stage floor they proceeded to play that 5 seconds of video over and over and over while laughing themselves to tears. An amazing day of two great shows reduced to five seconds of me looking like an idiot. Perfect.
Lastly, I know that video exists and would pay money to see it again all these years later. So if any of you old hardcore heads has it, please YouTube it or get in touch with me. To see that tape one more time would make my day.
Monday, April 14, 2008
Our resident west coast connection, Joe Nelson, toured many times as the roadie for INSTED on their tours across the U.S., and we were certain he’d have something cool to say about those times out on the road. Needless to say, he delivered again. -DCXX
Those were such great tours with Insted. All four of those guys, plus the other roadie, Chris Fenn, are just the best people the world has to offer. I would say looking back at those tours it was just the usual shenanigans bands pulled. We’d always load up on fireworks at “South of the Border” in South Carolina, so we could shoot them at cars on the interstate, which is obviously safe. Also being 18 – 19 year old boys, we were constantly trying to hook up with girls. We’d sneak into baseball games or the local water slide park on our off days. Sometimes somebody had a ramp in their area that I’d skate. We’d of course always have BBQs with everyone before the show, then after the gig go to some party at a local’s house. Just innocent fun, but “real” fun if you know what I mean?
We also all played sports. Bear, Kevin, and I were pretty decent basketball players so we’d challenge everyone to 3 on 3 games. I think we had a run of like 50 – 0 during the summer 1989 tour. Actually, a pretty funny football game happened between us and Burn. We’d always split our crew in New York. Half of us would stay with Mark Ryan, Alan Cage, and Gavin Van Vlack in their little basement apartment, and the other half would stay at the Schism house which was Ray Cappo, Alex Brown, and John Porcelly’s two foot hall of an apartment. Both apartments were in Brooklyn which wasn’t as …ummm…”hip” as it is today.
Anyway, Burn was talking ungodly amounts of shit about being such great football players, and how California kids were “soft”…and blah…blah…blah. We put together a game of like Gavin, Chaka Malik, Alan, and two other local dudes vs. Insted. The game was in some nasty Brooklyn Park, on a rock hard patch of dirt with about 3 blades of grass sticking out of it. What Burn failed to realize, however, is that football is a game of speed. I just remember the first five pass plays for us were Kevinsted precession bombs for touchdowns to either me or Bear. We also intercepted everything they threw at us. Then they tried the “well let’s give it to Gavin and just have him bull us over” play. However, we would just take out his legs so he’d get five yards…at best. They quit after 30 minutes.
Looking back at all of it though I always talk about the summer of ’89 tour being just the greatest summer for a lot of us, especially me. That summer, Insted was out for 9 weeks, from like mid June through August, so basically the whole summer. The other bands that were out on the road, or shared a show or two with us were Gorilla Biscuits, Judge, Bold, Reason To Believe, Uniform Choice, Underdog, Up Front, SNFU, Verbal Assault, Vision, and a bunch more. Every show that summer was like a “Who’s Who” for straight edge hardcore of the day.
We had such a blast. I mean think about this: GB, Bold, Reason, and Insted all stayed in the same Ft. Lauderdale, Florida house for like a week straight, maybe longer. I mean there’s really nothing better then being with 25 of your friends at some random Florida beach all day long, then having a massive slumber party all night when you’re 18… is there? It really, truly was such an amazing moment in time in this spot of the world to be alive.
The first time I had heard of Turning Point was through an interview that I had read with them in the Fall of 1988. The fanzine was called Artificial Insanity and was done by this guy Emil who lived in Blackwood, New Jersey. Emil was a very cool and friendly guy who I would write to, trade zines with and also do a little tape trading. One notable tape I distinctly remember getting from Emil was a copy of the Project X 7″ and the Antidote 7″. At the age of 13, both of those records were virtually impossible to find, at least for me at that time. I owed Emil a ton of thanks for hooking me up with what would become two of my favorite 7″s ever. One recording Emil did not give me, but highly recommended I order was the Turning Point demo. Considering the fact that this guy had not steered me wrong yet, I knew I had to follow his suggestion. Not too long after this discussion with Emil, I had received a copy of Open Your Eyes issue 3 in the mail. What an incredible zine, still one of my favorites. In that third issue of Open Your Eyes was a very cool ad for the Turning Point demo. With the combination of the interview in Artificial Insanity, the recommendation of Emil and the killer ad in Open Your Eyes, I was sold and quickly packed my $4.00 into an envelope and sent it off to 8 Crider Ave.
When that Turning Point demo arrived in my mailbox, I was stoked to say the least. I remember tearing the demo out of its padded envelope and staring in awe at the simple but awesome cover art. Two faceless, X’ed up straight edge dudes chilling over the words “Turning Point,” so classic. What got even better was when I popped the cassette into my tape player and heard the song “To Lose” kick it off. Up until then it was just word of mouth, visual images and the rumors that Turning Point sounded like Youth Of Today junior, finally I could judge for myself. Right off the bat I could tell that the recording was better than the majority of demos I recalled hearing at that point. The music was hard and clean and when Skip’s vocals came in, I was blown away. Loud, in your face, pissed, yet completely clear, this was straight edge hardcore at its finest. At one point I recall thinking to myself, “Well yeah, it does sound a bit like Youth Of Today,” as did a million bands at that time, “But this easily stands above all the imitators.” I went on to listen to this demo over and over and over again. I studied and remembered the lyrics word for word. The song “Never Again” was my personal favorite. There was something about those lyrics, “You fuck with our friends at all the shows, we’re gonna take you down and all our hate will flow”… that struck a nerve. It was just so pissed and fed up, I loved it.
Still to this day, 20 years later, the Turning Point demo remains as my favorite hardcore demo ever. Not only is it my favorite hardcore demo (up there with Pushed Aside, Beyond and Raw Deal) but it’s actually my favorite Turning Point recording as well. Maybe it’s the memories I have of first getting this demo, maybe it’s the raw, honest, in your face tone they took, maybe it’s the “Dragnet” sound clip. No matter what it is, it’s fuckin’ great and still gets me as psyched today as it did 20 years ago. -TM
Thursday, April 10, 2008
This is part of an ongoing piece where we asked various people from bands over the years what they recall as the most memorable show they ever played (or attended, if they were never in a band), and why. What is posted here is only a sliver of what is to come, so be sure to check back. -DCXX
Journeyman was playing at Stockton State College in New Jersey. On the bill was Turning Point, Burn, and I believe there were two others who respectively opened the gig. Journeymen was to play before Burn, with Turning Point finishing the night. But first, the fellas from J-man took the stage.
The stage was in some sort of hall there on campus. We began to play, and were no more than three songs into the set when these skins from A.C. were making a bit of a ruckus. I looked out and saw one seig-heiling and decided I was going to put an end to it so I dashed out into the crowd and wound up for what I was expecting a collosal hit, when the mic I was holding hit its limit. I don’t know if someone was standing on the cable or if someone had the bright idea of tying it off well, but it snagged just above my shoulder. It pulled at my arm and forced me to let go of the mic. Well, this took all the momentum from the windup and I delivered the world’s lamest “slap” on this skin’s left cheek. For one brief second we both looked at each other in utter amazment, then I came to my senses and delivered a proper left. The crowed jummped in and what happened after is a bit a blur, but as the rumors/story goes, a few people locked the doors so the A.C. boys could not exit. Tables, chairs, fists flying. All the while, they had pulled the plug on the band, and yet Chris Cap was still pounding away on the drums. I remember the PA stack falling over and looking out at some flashing lights from campus police.
This went on for a brief moment, and when the campus cops “got their guys” and relieved us from any more nazi BS, we were told the show had only a half hour left and we had to stop. I went to the guys from Burn and told them the stage was theirs, and if they wanted to just use our equipment they could so that they could play that much longer. Chaka just smiled and slapped my back and said….”No way, this is your night, go finish your set.” We went out with a new song at the time we were calling “Power” and it didn’t last more than a minute before the PA stack stage left took a dive and the crowd was completely nuts…I had never seen so much energy from a crowd…and there wasn’t a whole lot of kids there. THAT was a fun night.
If you are like me, then the first three and a half seconds of “Shall Be Judged” make you want to punch a hole through a car windshield. Alan Cage is a man of few words, but of gigantic beats. Try to play along to the Beyond LP on drums and he will have you in tears (and yeah, he was 18). Somehow, the planets aligned and he is about to bust out with 108. Talk about too much skill on stage. I have heard Cage rap about hardcore very rarely, so I figured what better time? –Gordo
1. Where did drums enter the picture for you and how/why did you pick up the sticks?
I started banging around on my Mom’s pots and pans when I was really young. She eventually got tired of that and bought me my first drum set when I was 11 or 12. I’m not sure why I started playing, I guess I just always loved music and wanted to play and drums seemed like the most accessible instrument.
2. The early to mid 80s punk/hardcore scene offered up all sorts of wild drummers, but there weren’t tons that played hard and fast, as well technical and complex. Who were your influences both in and out of hardcore, and even in Beyond, was it a conscious effort to play well more than a few notches above the typical hardcore drummer and clearly stand out?
I think my influences as a drummer really came for the most part before I was into any hardcore music. Mostly rock and roll stuff. John Bonham from Led Zeppelin was a big one for me. Stuart Copeland from the Police. Some Reggae as well, especially Sly Dunbar who is a really influential session guy from Jamaica and played on tons and tons of records from there. In terms of trying to play really technical or well, I don’t think that ever really meant much to me. I think I just wanted to make the songs sound as good as I could.
3. Let’s talk Beyond…for young guys at the time, you were all well advanced at your instruments. What are your memories writing and playing those songs with Tom, Vic, and Kev?
My memories are mostly just practicing in my Mom’s basement. As far as I can remember, Tom did almost all of the writing and he always came in with his ideas really well formed so the songs would come together really quickly. Those guys were all really easy to work with.
4. What do you hear when you go back to listen to your drumming on the Beyond LP?
To be honest I don’t think I’ve ever really gone back and listened to it. It’s pretty much the same with all the records I’ve done. If I’m involved in the mixing I’ll listen to it tons and tons during the process but once it’s over I’ve never really gone back and listened to the stuff I’ve played on much.
5. What are your fondest memories of playing in Beyond?
Just going out and playing weekend shows on the east coast. We did a lot of that. It was the first time I got a chance to get out of NY playing music. It just felt really liberating, meeting new people and knowing there was all these different cities out there with scenes of there own that you could go play. We had a lot of fun on those trips.
6. Who were your favorite hardcore bands in general during that time period?
The Bad Brains were by far my favorite. I liked the Cro-Mags and Agnostic Front a lot as well.
7. Which drummers from the late 80s hardcore scene do you think were the best?
I think Mackie was really the big stand out for me. Dave Grohl as well when he was playing with Scream. I saw them once when he was with them and it really blew me away.
8. BURN…what can you recall about the formation of this band and the original concept for the sound, delivery, and overall vibe?
I just recall Gavin coming in like a whirlwind like he always did. That guy had so much energy. It wasn’t even so much like he would ask people to join a band, it was more like he would burst into the room talking a million miles an hour and before anyone knew what was going on they were in a band already. I think some of those bands might have been broken up before anybody even knew they were in it. Anyway, he was prolific as hell, always writing songs, and Chaka was always working hard writing lyrics. The drag of that band is that there was tons of really good music that never got released. Gavin wrote so much music that I don’t think he ever went back and used much of it. Once a band was over he would just trash the stuff and move on. Write all new songs. And then Chaka, between him and Gavin, there was a lot of energy with the two of them without a doubt.
9. BURN and surely Quicksand showcased again a progression in your skills. What were you influenced by as time went on and how did that get incorporated?
I don’t know really. I don’t think I thought about it much in those terms. All that stuff just seemed to come together pretty organically.
10. How did the hardcore change in your eyes into the 1990s?
The scene in NY had gotten really violent by that point and I had pretty much lost interest because of that. There were a bunch of really great heavy bands in NY at that time but I wouldn’t call them hardcore bands. I thought Helmet were great and Orange 9mm too, but I never thought of that stuff as part of the hardcore scene. I was busy with Quicksand, and that was a really great time in my life.
11. The re-formation of BURN again had you behind the kit. What had changed and what had not during the band’s extended hiatus?
Not much had changed really. Except for getting to play with Manny and Vic. It was a really short little thing that we did though. I mean, we had really just gotten together to record a few songs and play a few shows. There was no plan to try and keep it going as a band. It was a lot of fun playing with those guys again though.
12. 108…aside from the Vic connection, I would not have guessed you to link up with this band. Had you been a fan? What are you expecting out of this experience?
Yea, it really is the Vic connection. I wasn’t really familiar with their music. I just ran into Vic a while back and he asked me if I would be interested in doing a tour with them in South America. I said “sure.” I don’t have a ton of expectations other than I think it will be a lot of fun.
13. What hardcore shows, both played and attended, still stick out to you from 20 years later?
As far as a show I played, for some reason a Beyond show in Buffalo sticks out in my head. It was with Warzone and we were really late and almost missed it. I think the reason it sticks out is because the room was so unbearably hot. The place was just packed with people and the ceiling was dripping down humidity on everyone. As for attended, that’s easy. The two nights the Bad Brains played at the Ritz after “I Against I” came out. Mind blowing. I also remember a really good Cro-Mags show in that same time period. It was also at the Ritz with GBH and the Cro-Mags just killed it.
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
Our resident west coast connection, Joe Nelson, will continually appear here at Double Cross delivering more great stories and memories from the hardcore reality. Since most of his material will be Orange County related, what better way to get acquanited with his colorful cast of characters than by getting a thorough history on The Crew: The O.C. Sloth Crew. -DCXX
The Orange County Sloth Crew was a group of straight edge kids in Huntington Beach, California. It was originally made up of about 11 dudes, Eric “Silk” Silkenson, Scott Sundahl, Bob Hardigree, Casey Satterthwaite, Jason Acuna, Paul Theriault, Craig “Beeker” Doyle, Greg Brown, Jim Brown, Scott Lytle, and myself. Over the years, guys like Mike Murphy, Regis Guerin, Sterling Wilson, Dave “The Dragon” Theriault, Mike Madrid, Brett Page, Jason McKee, Jim Filipan, Shawn Jensen, Chad Weaver, The Nyhus Twins, and even Randy Johnson were sort of in it. We also hung out with the Irvine guys a ton. Those guys were Mark Hayworth, Rob Hayworth, Zach De La Rocha, Pat Delaney, Eric “Ernst” Petersen, Brian Chu, and Mark Lee. In asense, even they became part of the crew.
Nobody is quite sure where the name originated from. The best guess would be that somebody in tenth grade life science learned that the tree sloth was the laziest animal in the world, so as a joke we named our little club in honor of it. At the time it seemed every hardcore scene had a faction or crew. Everyone also had really hard sounding names such as “Suicidals”, or “Los Angeles Death Squad. The Hardcore affiliated gangs in our own backyard of Huntington Beach were called things such as “Fuck Shit Up”(F.S.U.), or “The H.B. Skins.” Calling ourselves “The O.C. Sloth Crew” was sort of an inside joke, poking fun at the “harder” gangs.
We were Straight Edge, although we hung with surfers and skaters who definitely were not. Like any Straight Edge kid from any era, we also felt we were better then the rest of the normal kids in town. We had that swagger that unless you’ve lived as a 17 year old Straight Edge, kid you don’t really understand.
We all rolled together to high school parties, football games, shows, etc. We even all worked at the same place for about four months, which was an amazing time, and a story of its own. If anybody ever had a job they could hold down for longer then two weeks it became a free for all for all of the gang. Zach and some others worked at Campus Gas in Irvine for a while so gas was always free. A couple dudes worked at Pizza parlors so that was free. Brian Nyhus worked the graveyard shift at the local grocery store, so that was free. I worked as a stock boy at the big mall in the area which is called South Coast Plaza. I had the keys to about 20 different store stock rooms. This was before any security systems existed really. Anyway, dudes would come by if they needed to get a present for their girlfriend, or whatever. Basically when you have 20+ dudes, as well as affiliates spread out over the area in random jobs, you find out that pretty much anything you want is free.
Sundahl, Acuna, Courtney Dubar, and this other dude Jim Bournquist worked at the local arcade / miniature golf course / batting cage / Go-Kart track, called The Family Fun Center. That became our clubhouse. We were there 24/7 playing 720 or Track and Field for free, and eating and drinking the crappy snack shack food for free. We’d also steal tokens and then sell them to real customers for, say, 6 for $1. After it closed for the night we’d then take the Go-Karts and race around the city streets all night. That, or we’d hit golf balls onto the freeway for a while.
A lot of us were skaters as well. Randy Johnson was so good he could have been easily been a pro. He skated daily with Jason Lee, who in turn became our ally. That meant all of us skated on free fully stacked “Grinch” decks for quite a while. Jason Jesse was also a really good friend of our team so there was a constant flow of Santa Cruz gear through him as well. Actually there were quite a few times where Jason Jesse, who was older by a year or two drove us to shows. Talk about a tough mother fucker. You were never in fear of anybody if you had that psycho path on your side.
These were prime time high school days. We were total pirates. I mean just complete hooligans. Our M.O. was to roll into your party, steal your VCR, make 976 calls on your parent’s phone, spray paint O.C. Sloth Crew on the bath room mirror, piss in your dad’s underwear drawer, then blow up your keg with low grade dynamite which we’d get from Mexico, and end it all with some fight with the football team in the street. The normal kids hated us. We were eventually banned from every party in H.B. If we showed up, the kids whose house it was would immediately call the cops, who by then also knew of us. Eventually we just moved the operation to Irvine on Friday night and ran wild down there.
We’d also “fire extinguish” people. Or, go steal bowling balls from Fountain Bowl, and then roll them down a hill into oncoming traffic. During Halloween we’d smash every pumpkin in site. We’d baseball bat mailboxes all the time. We’d shoot fireworks into all the local bars. We’d throw eggs at people. We’d shoplift from the local malls and surf shops constantly. We had a car, which was a Duster, called “Los Guys.” The car was not registered to anybody so we would take it out at night and crash into everything in sight. Hell, we even lit the local park on fire with gasoline once. We were also constantly in brawls with everyone from local jocks, to some trucker. The list goes on and on and on and on, too. I mean, we were ASSHOLES!
By the late 80s Punk/Hardcore shows in Southern California were also becoming a lot less scary to attend. A lot of the real gang members from 2 – 3 years ago were now either dead, or in prison. Without the real gangs, the straight edge kids started to flex their muscle at shows. When that happened we were at the head of the table. We had already been through all the violence of the mid 80s, so we felt a sense of entitlement to now have control the clubs. The only opposition was maybe the White Power Skins. After about 2 or 3 fights, where all the straight edge kids beat the fuck out of those clowns, they never came to shows again. Those clubs were now ours for better or for worse. Then when all the shows started moving to the Reseda County Club, we became sort of the defatco bouncers. We got to pretty much run the whole stage every show. Kevin Lyman, later of Warped Tour fame, was the acting the stage manager for Goldenvoice. He loved us, and gave us free reign of that club. We started wearing hockey jerseys to shows so we could identify each other quickly if their was a fight. In a lot of ways we started acting like a real gang I suppose.
The three identifiers for the O.C. Sloth Crew which probably happened as far as the national scene goes were:
1) We got into a huge brawl with our pseudo rivals the H.B. Skins at a church fair of all things. Anyway, since those guys were considered a White Power gang it became a local news story which then got picked up by the Associated Press. I think the name O.C. Sloth Crew got mentioned in the story as a skateboard gang, who battled the evil Nazi Skinheads at the church fair. The White Power Skinheads were a huge media sensation at the time, so people paid attention to that kind of bullshit.
2) We became really good friends with Youth of Today, Bold, Gorilla Biscuits and the whole New York City crew. Those dudes would spend about 3 weeks in California on their summer tours. We all stayed at the Hardigree’s house, which was in Huntington Harbor and came with a rad boat where everyone pretty much slept. His parents were super cool, and loved having everyone there I think. The point is, those dudes would then go around the county telling all the other kids tales of their exploits with us while in Cali. We even made these shirts that said “Orange County Sloth Crew” and featured Mr. T in a hammock. All those New York dudes wore them on tour. That brought attention to us as well I suppose.
3) I would go on tour with Insted, and meet everyone around the country. Kids were interested in The Sloth Crew tales that had been going around. I would spend a lot of time supporting or debunking these wild myths that were being passed around. I mean some of the stories I would hear were just crazy. Tales of us wearing gas masks to shows, and then beating up anybody who smoked, or how we beat some Nazi skin to death with a hockey stick. The cool part was I met a lot of great kids through that experience, and they became friends with not only me, but The Sloth Crew too.
As guys went off to college, got married, moved out of state, etc. the gang fizzled of course. Everyone still remains pretty tight though. There’s an email ring we’ve had now for about 4 – 5 years that’s only purpose is to constantly make fun of each other. A lot of the guys still play on the same club hockey team called the “Jokers.” There’s still the Friday night poker game for some. There’s also an annual Vegas trip. Every now and then even a random show will pop up which we all attend together. I imagine at this point it will pretty much stay that way forever.
I really hate to think that we were the beginning of the gross Straight Edge gangs which came around in the late 90s. I mean, kids stabbing dudes to death with Samurai swords in the name of Straight Edge is just completely disgusting. Talk about total derailment of a pretty cool train. Those kids in Utah fucking suck, and missed the whole point of what Straight Edge is all about. Unfortunately, we sort of missed it as well. I also believe in some ways we were the first chapter, of the evilness that came later on in the scene, which is disheartening for me personally. It is what it is though.
I’d be lying if I said those days weren’t some of the absolute best times in my life. The bonds made with those guys are still some of the strongest I have to date. It’s hard to explain, but it runs deeper than just a friendship. I imagine any gang of straight edge kids who grew up together, as we did, knows what I’m taking about. I’m sure they must still feel exactly the same way about their guys, as I do about mine…the old Orange County Sloth Crew.
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