ARCHIVES – more older posts
May 14th, 2012 by Larry

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Another new band to check out

Peace – Baltimore, MD – Stephen / Vocals, Mike / Guitar, Andy / Bass, Dan / Drums

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Two record collecting sites you should check out

Kyle’s Minor Threat 7″ collection

There’s a lot of great hardcore blogs and websites out there and considering the fact they we’ve been doing DCXX for three years now and have accumulated a pretty solid following, I think it’s important to shine a little light on the efforts of others. Here are two blogs that are well worth checking out and following. -Tim DCXX

Seeking The Simple is a killer site put together by Rivalry Records mastermind, Kyle Whitlow. Lots of cool content on this site, but the highlight material for me is the showcasing of Kyle’s record collection. Kyle has a remarkable eye for detail and leaves no stones unturned when he breaks down each and every record. Kyle’s Dischord and Revelation collection is just mind blowing and it’s obvious that he’s spent a great deal of time documenting everything. Check it out at: Seeking The Simple

Kyel’s Warzone – “Lower East Side Crew” 7″ collection

The second site I wanted to clue people in to is this very simple, but fun Revelation Records Vinyl Tumblr page. I happened to come across it a few weeks back and have been following it ever since. It’s updated pretty much daily, so there’s always something new popping up. All the images that have been posted have been collected off the internet, so it’s pretty interesting that someone can put together an entire site based solely on Revelation Records vinyl images that they find or that are submitted. I happened to submit some images myself just yesterday, so if there are people reading this and have some Rev vinyl photos, submit away! Here’s the link: Revelation Records Vinyl

This insane GB 7″ collection photo was pulled off of the Revelation Records Vinyl site

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Livewire / Double Cross shirt collaboration

Brand new Livewire / Double Cross collaboration shirt

It’s summertime 2011 and what better time to drop a brand new Double Cross shirt? This design has been brewing for a while now and just finally came to fruition. Double Cross silent-partner and head honcho over at Livewire Records, Ed McKirdy, put this simple yet powerful design together all himself.

Totally inspired by the early 80’s, Dischord / X-Claim era, this shirt looks like something you could have picked up at a 1983 Boston, Gallery East, SSD show or a Minor Threat show at the Wilson Center in DC. Shirt quality and print style are all intentionally combined for a vintage look and feel.

This first batch of shirts is limited to a run of 36. The plan is to see how this batch does and from there we’ll decide on a second run and alternate color combo. If you like what you see and want to grab one of these, follow the link for more information and get your order in before they are all gone. Thanks for the support. -Tim DCXX

Livewire Double Cross Webstore

This particular Gallery East flyer was a huge inspiration to the design of these new DCXX shirts

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Mark Holcomb – Undertow part III

John with an Undertow sing along at The Glasshouse, 2009, Photo: Tom Holcomb

At this point you’re putting out records, and the lyrical content is getting really dark and heavy and emotional. I was just wondering what inspired this shift.

Both me and John probably split the lyrics in half. If there was a song that I wrote and I felt it should be sung a certain way, I was writing the lyrics. But I think both of us were just in a place where it seemed redundant to sing about . . . we were too young, I mean we’re not going to sing about politics or the way the world should be. [As for] singing about straight edge – for everybody in Undertow it was a personal thing. In Seattle, outside of Murph, everybody I went to high school with, nobody was straight edge. Just me and him, and maybe a few other kids. But for us it was all a very personal thing. We sang about being vegetarian, but I think we realized kind of quickly, “Everybody’s doing this. I’m just going to write about what’s fucking bothering me. ” All of us in the band didn’t necessarily have the best upbringings, and probably listened to a lot of Rites of Spring (laughs).

What kind of upbringing are you talking about here? What kind of home lives did the members have?

I think I can say for me, Murph and Demian that there was sort of absentee parents. And we certainly found a connection with our friends, especially in the band, that we’re doing something special, and we LOVE this and we’re going to keep doing this. I don’t want to say they were all bad, and you’d have to talk to those other guys about it, and my upbringing wasn’t BAD. I could do whatever I want from the age of 15 on. You know, come home at midnight.

So you’re like a latch-key kid.

Yeah, and so fortunately we found something pretty positive to be involved in. And then John’s upbringing – I don’t know. He actually lived about 45 minutes away from all of us, so we would see him at practice. We were just talking about personal experiences. And stuff that was like ex-girlfriends, and being in high school, and living on our own for the first time, and it’s about family. That’s what we could write. I couldn’t make a speech like Ray could about, “Let’s change the world,” because I’m fucking 19, and I’m a fucking fuck-up. Ha.

Mark getting aggro at the Burning Fight show, 2009, Photo: Tom Holcomb

There are a few songs that I want to know specifically what they are about. What’s the song “Control” about?

I wrote it, the lyrics to it. For me, and all the guys in Undertow knew this – I guess we felt like we were preaching to the choir. That we felt like we were doing this independent thing, but at that point we felt like everything had kind of shifted into being a clique – that it’s all about having an X Swatch, and having the tour shirt, and all this and that, and we’re singing songs on stage that people are psyched on and I guess getting from a message from, and we’re part of the scene, but we’re kind of just speaking out redundancies, you know, about preaching to the choir. And I realized at a certain point, well, I want to be in Indecision, I want to be in Boiling Point, I want to be in these fanzines, but I realized I wasn’t really having independent thought, that everything I was doing was kind of based around what’s going to elevate Undertow or what’s going to make me look better, which is what we all do in cliques, but I realized straight edge at that time had become a clique, where everybody’s wearing the same clothes. You can’t say for the punk kids, “Look at them with their fucking studs, and jean jackets, and leather jackets,” while WE are all wearing the same uniform. Everyone wants the coolest shirt. It just became apparent that this isn’t really independent thought that we’re preaching about.

Control –
Follow your rules so I can be myself.
Listen to what you say so I can think for myself.
Everything I say has been said before.
Everything I think has been thought before.
who is in control?
All my beliefs have been traced out for me.
My fate has been laid out for me.
I look in the mirror and all I see is you.
I look at myself and all I see is you.
who is in control?
Ill fight you, Ill resist you.
You cant control me

How about the song “Cedar”?

That’s our anti-God song. Nobody in the band is religious. We’re all atheists. Some of us have religious upbringings. That [song] is a straight up “No God” [message].

Cedar –
Born into it, taught to believe.
Told to find him inside of me.
Set me free.
Engraved messages, directed to follow. Conditioned path, forced to swallow.
Set me free.
You tell me to kneel, bow down to his grace and plea forgiveness.
If what I’ve done is wrong in his eyes then let my own spirit be my guide.
Forced to swallow your lies.
I cannot swallow your lies.

You mentioned that your mother is Catholic. Did you have a Catholic upbringing?

Yeah. My mom almost became a nun before she met my dad. I didn’t go to Catholic school. It’s not as bad as some other people have it. It’s pretty mild. I went to First Communion, and did the whole thing up until I was like 13. My mom was like, “I’m tired of dragging you to this shit. If you don’t want to go, don’t go.” I think I’ve been to church once [since then], on Christmas Eve FOR my mom.

She wasn’t heartbroken that you didn’t stick with the religion?

She still is to this day! I wouldn’t say she thinks I’m going to Hell, but she’s scared for me. I guess there’s that. Disappointed, I would say. Me and her have talked about this, and she will say, “Well yeah. I’m disappointed, I’m scared. Maybe God won’t let you into Heaven.”

Murph with Undertow at Burning Fight, 2009, Photo: Tom Holcomb

What did you think of the religious messages in a lot of hardcore lyrics at the time, examples being the whole Krishna-core thing?

I always felt like they had a right to say what they wanted to say, because that to me is the idea about punk rock. And you don’t have to listen to it, or you can. It was a little weird, well a lot weird that the guy from Youth of Today became a Hare Krishna, and I know the guys from Cro-Mags. There was this movement going on and people were kind of like, “Oh I love Shelter.” But you’re singing about being Hare Krishna. I always thought that there’s always going to be a balance with bands like Undertow and what’s that fucking band that Kent McClard put out? Downcast. There are going to be other bands within the scene saying, “No no, this is fucking stupid,” but I always felt like I hated being at shows when people were telling people to shut up on stage. Maybe it’s my own personal thing, but I always thought, “Well we’re going to get up and say the exact opposite.” We’re punk rock. Everybody should be entitled to say what they want. Although, in retrospect, I don’t think religion has a place in punk rock at all.

Why is that?

Conformity. To me punk rock is about being who you want to be. It doesn’t necessarily mean you need have to have a fucking mohawk. It’s an ideal that, “I’m independent. I don’t need to follow anything.” And religion – the whole concept is believing in one thing. Does that make sense?

Yep, it does.

I gotta say I love 108. Everything Vic Dicara does is fucking sick as shit. And I love Rob Fish’s voice. It’s hard not to like that stuff. Undertow did a bunch of shows with Shelter, and they’re all fucking really nice guys, and there are parts of Krishna . . . I’m still vegetarian. So the animal rights movement and kind of being at peace. I think Buddhism is okay in a sense, in that it’s more personal thought than it is . . . I don’t like religion as a movement, but if you find personal peace in it then I guess I’m okay with that.

What’s the song “Everything” about?

I wrote that song too, the lyrics. It’s about a specific person, and not in a bad way. It was kind of along the same lines as “Control” in that we realized we were doing things to impress the people that we thought we needed to impress.

Everything –
Tell me how you feel. Your opinion means everything to me. I can’t make up my mind. Open my eyes to what you see. Tell me what you’re thinking. I need to know. Without knowing what you think, I feel so alone. Why do I let you make the call. Why do I let you decide it all. My world is decided by what you think. Without your voice I sink. Hanging on your every word. Deciding what’s right or wrong. The strength that your words bring, make me feel like I belong. Holding you so high. Your thoughts become my religion. Everything you say clouds my own decisions.

It’s about a girl right?

No. It’s about a dude. It’s about a friend. It’s just kind of a heart-felt thing that I realized that, wow, I’m trying to impress this person. It was about, “I’m trying to impress these people.” Everything I do is . . . I’m trying to remember the lyrics.

Demian with Undertow in 2009, Photo: Tom Holcomb

Who was it about?

I don’t want to say. It’s kind of embarrassing. (laughs) It’s a good friend, I’m still friends with him. He knows the song is about him. If there’s a fifth member to Undertow, he might be it. Good friend of everybody’s, still hangs out and shit. I think we realized . . . we became self-aware of what we were doing to impress other people. It wasn’t just about, “I want to write a great riff.” It was, “I want to write this great riff so that I can impress this person who will then influence all these other people.” It just kind of became self-aware. I mean there are PLENTY of songs about girls. (laughter)

You just haven’t named them yet!

We have like five or six songs about heartbreak.

Were there females that kind of rolled with your posse, so to speak?

Yeah. They used to be called the Underho’s. (laughter) Yeah, and I would say there was some cross-pollenization going on.

You mean girls who dated multiple members?

There was one girl who dated three of us that I almost dated, and fooled around with while she was dating John.

John and Mark deliver Undertow to the Burning Fight crowd, Photo: Tom Holcomb

Did you guys get mad at each other for that kind of stuff?

No . . . well yeah. I think Murph and Seth had issues. Me personally, I think I probably screwed up a few situations. I was like, “Well, oh well.” I was so involved with music that I didn’t really think about girls that much. There were two that kind of broke up the band, made things real hard. But we were all so young. There were some girls that . . . yeah. Were . . . yeah. (laughter) One of them I think is fucking awesome to this day, and one of them, I love hearing that shit’s bad for her. And she’s dating I don’t want to say who, and I don’t want to name names, but she’s dating a guy in a HUGE band and from what I hear, it’s just awful. (laughter) He just cheats on her, and they have a kid together, and she’s a fucking mess. The other one was just innocent. Just having fun. “I like this guy so I’m going to like him.” The other one I think maybe manipulated shit and really caused a lot of friction.

Moving onto lighter topics . . .

I like talking about all that shit. (laughs)

Tell me about the Seattle-San Diego connection and what kind of influence you had on bands like Unbroken.

I like to think it was mutual. We became friends with them. Ron and Dave used to get us tours. This is the second generation of Undertow where Joel is still singing and Seth . . . well Seth was from San Diego and that was another big connection. So it was really easy for us to come down on spring break and get us shows. You just had to say you were a straight edge band. Seth knew all the guys in Unbroken. I think him and Rob [Moran] grew up together and we became fast friends with those guys. We were all the same age, and those guys treated us SO well. It was our home away from home, and even as years progressed, we were all starting bands, and both Steve [Miller] and Eric [Allen] could fucking play their brains out when they were fucking 16, and Steve could fucking shred. But I think we were all kind of figuring out our bands, and there was a friendly competition between us and Unbroken. And I think for everybody in Undertow, we liked Unbroken more than we liked anybody else in the scene, not just because we knew the dudes, but . . . I mean we loved Integrity, we loved Burn, there are some more examples, but it was really easy for us to go down to play California, and when we did, we stayed in San Diego. Everybody was in Chula Vista, and they called it the Chula Vista Lench Mob. I swear to God it was like 20 dudes deep. And when Undertow came to town, and I’m sure it wasn’t just because of us, but when we were in town and there was a show going on, it would be 20 dudes deep, and you knew them all, and it felt like your cousins that you hadn’t seen in a while. Everybody just fucking hung out and we broke into swimming pools. It was the best time in our life. As each band got better there was friendly competition. I wanted to impress the guys in Unbroken. Hopefully they wanted to impress us. I think there was mutual respect. There was no real competition. We were just really good friends coming up at the same time, all the same age. Everybody got along amazingly. There was definitely a bond there. To this day, I’d rather play with Unbroken than anybody else.

Mark with Undertow and the sleeveless Slayer shirt, Photo: Tom Holcomb

When you first played in San Diego, you were playing through a specific type of guitar and a specific type of amp, and that influenced the Unbroken guys to buy the exact same equipment. What was that?

It was a Fender M-80. Solid state. MASSIVE gain, but no balls. And then I used to play a BC Rich, because I was trying to rip off Vic [Dicara], but that broke super fast, and I ended up just buying what I could find. It’s called The Paul, but I think they’re also called Firebrand. It’s a woodgrain Les Paul copy, like a Les Paul Jr. It’s like thin and . . .

Made by Gibson though.

Yeah. They were like 400 bucks, and I heard now they’re going for like 2 grand. I WISH I still had one. Yeah, that quickly became kind of a west coast sound.

Right, because dudes in Unbroken started playing them.

Twice I got phone calls. One dude I know, and one dude I don’t. And I don’t want to say who it is, but I got calls from people asking me how I got my sound. And at 18, you’re like, “Fuck yeah, dude. (laughter) People want to know about MY sound? Hell yeah.” The Fender M-80s were like dirt cheap. They were like 300 bucks or something, and durable as hell. But you listen to them now, and it just hurts my ears.

And then there was also a riff from an Undertow song that Unbroken “borrowed” so to speak. (Mark laughs) What two songs were they?

It is “Taken” from Undertow, and I can’t recall what song it is from Unbroken. (laughs)

It’s on Life. Love. Regret. I can look it up. [the song is “End of a Life Time” – Ben]

I’ve heard a bunch of different versions of what happened. I’ve heard that it happened on accident. The other version that I’ve heard was that, “I heard it and I liked it so much that I wanted to borrow it.” I don’t know which one is genuine. I like to think that it was borrowed, because it makes me think that the original riff was good enough that somebody liked it so much. I can appreciate that. Because if you listen to some of the Undertow stuff, I’m straight up ripping off Burn and Integrity. I can play you riff for riff a Swiz riff. “Cutting Away” – it’s a Swiz riff.

What Swiz song?

It’s the very last song on the first LP. [the song is “Frame” – Ben] And it’s all music, but at the very last thing they’re doing kind of like fills to fill that last “DUN!” And they do it three different ways, but one of them goes, “DUN DUN DUN DUN DUN DUN DUN DUN DUUUUN . . . DUN DUN.” (laughs) I straight up ripped that off. I’m okay with it. It’s kind of been an ongoing joke [between Undertow and Unbroken], because there was a friendly competition. Undertow recorded “Taken” and “Cedar” to test out the studio, before Unbroken went into the studio. So I can verify that. (laughs)

Demian drops the bass, Photo: Tom Holcomb

Monday, July 18, 2011

4 new bands to check out

Step Aside – Tucson, Arizona – Josh / Vocals, David / Guitar, Ryan / Guitar, Chris / Bass, Riley / Drums
Step Aside

The Last Stand – Brooklyn, New York – Michael / Vocals, Stephen / Guitar, Dion / Bass, Jimmy / Drums
The Last Stand

Alert – Western Massachusetts – Mike / Vocals, Kyle / Guitar, Keith / Bass, Jake / Drums

My Rifle – New York and Georgia – Jason / Vocals, Hobi / Guitar, Lewis / Bass, Andy / Drums
My Rifle

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Outburst do it The Hardway

The Outburst boys hangin’ at the beach, Photo: BJ Papas

Months back, Outburst drummer Miles To Joe, sent us a a handful of old Outburst photos that he had dug up, all taken by legendary NYHC photographer, BJ Papas. A couple live shots, but most of them just hang out shots. We held back from posting them, thinking that we needed some sort of commentary to go along with them, but honestly, sometimes photos tell the story themselves.

The only thing Joe had to say about the photos was this following quote… “Catch your magic moment and do it right here and now…it means everything.” -Van Halen

Thanks to Joe for sending the photos in, now do yourself a favor and go listen to the Outburst tracks off the Where The Wild Things Are comp. -Tim DCXX

Outburst at CBGB, NYC, Photo: BJ Papas

Outburst in the middle of a game of hoops, NYC style, Photo: BJ Papas

Outburst at The Right Track Inn, Photo: BJ Papas

Outburst frontman, Brian Donohoe, shows off his ball handling skills, Photo: BJ Papas

Friday, July 15, 2011

Bad Flag – Black Brains

Not sure of the origins or the story behind this photo, but it started circulating today and it was the first I had ever seen or heard of it. It’s obviously HR and Rollins, in what I would assume was a Bad Brains set that Henry came up and did guest vocals for. Pretty damn cool either way. If you’ve got any info on this, feel free to leave it in the comments section. -Tim DCXX

Thursday, July 14, 2011

1990 Revelation Records mock record covers

In 1990 Revelation ran a series of ads promoting a number of records that were slated to be released that year. Various ads had mocked up cover art prior to the release of the records. The majority of of these mocked covers ended up being pretty similar to what the final versions were, but there were some slight differences on a few that I always found to be interesting. Here’s a handful of these alternate covers. -Tim DCXX

Rev: 19, Inside Out – 7″
Slightly different cropping of the cover photo here for the Inside Out 7″, plus the photo is full bleed. The biggest difference in my eyes is the font choice and placement for Inside Out. Personally I think I prefer this font choice because it’s more in line with the typewriter style font that Inside Out used on their shirts.

Rev: 20, Judge – “The Storm” 7″
Different lightning shot here on the Judge “The Storm” 7″ cover. Looks to be a church steeple or castle, which I think ads a bit of a creepy/darker factor. Also, no title on the mock as opposed to “There Will Be Quite…” which appears of the actual press.

Rev: 21, Supertouch – “The Earth Is Flat” LP
I always liked this mock up cover for Supertouch’s, “The Earth Is Flat”. Still very similar to the actual release, but a totally different photo of Mark and Joe, which looks to be taken back stage somewhere. All these ads were black and white, but I thought this cover looked particularly cool in black and white. Like the Judge 7″ above, this mocked version had a darker vibe than what appeared on the actual cover and I think I actually prefer it for this one.

Rev: 22, Burn – 7″
The differences on the cover of the Burn 7″ are pretty minimal when compared to the actual release, but still there are a couple differences. The mock up has the Burn logo on top as opposed to on the bottom and I definitely think the logo placement made a significant improvement. Those heads in the crowd down there kinda ruin the photo, so covering them up with a Burn logo really turned your attention away from them. The photo cropping was slightly different from this to the release, again making an improvement. I don’t know how many bands could use a video screen grab for their record cover and make it look cool, but Rev/Burn definitely made it work for this.

The Way It Is poll wrap up with Ray Cappo

Ray Cappo and Raybeez break it down at a CB’s matinee, Photo: Boiling Point

YOT’s “Together” took the win in the most recent poll where we asked you what your favorite track was off of the NYC Hardcore The Way It Is comp. This was also the song Tim and I voted for, although there are at least a dozen other stiff contenders on what might be the best comp of all time. Although I’m personally partial to the version of “Together” that appeared previously on the Together seven inch comp (Tim is vehemently more partial to The Way It Is version) , the Way It Is version still beats out anything else on the record for me.

We figured we would go to the guy who wrote this song, fronted YOT, and put out this comp in 1988 to pick his brain a little. Take it away, Ray… – Gordo DCXX

Ray and Walter with Youth Of Today in Boston, Photo: Unknown

When I wrote the lyrics to “Together” for the Together seven inch compilation, the scene was all over the place as far as idealogies, styles, sounds etc. But, we had one thing in common: we were all misfits from our suburban youth culture. Despite all our differences we were like a family of outcasts in a sense and we all had a mutual respect. This is also what Break Down The Walls the song was about. Straight Edge was for self betterment – not a “better than you” mentality. What was once was inspired for self-edification (this was recognized by the end of the Can’t Close My Eyes era of YOT) was now turning very elitist and causing more walls than before.

The reason for doing The Way It Is as an LP that expanded off of the Together seven inch was because we realized there was so much more to offer and that the world at this point was interested. So we doubled up tracks and brought in new material. I remember wanting to get Altercation, I liked those guys. I was also happy to showcase BOLD as opposed to the defunct Crippled Youth name. Nausea were roomates and I was tight with them. Hell, we were tight with everyone back then, even YDL.

But, Together…I didn’t write the music to this song and I’m not sure who actually wrote it. Believe it or not, it wasn’t my favorite song of ours, as the pace was mid tempo and it was copying bands like Cro-Mags and Bad Brains…thus I felt I couldn’t sing it so well. But I wrote the words. Some YOT songs definitely mean so much more to me than others. Off the top of my head, Flame Still Burns, Can’t Close My Eyes, Make A Change, What Goes Around, Modern Love Story, I Have Faith, Slow Down, the list goes on. Together would be 65 out of 100 if I had to rate it. Sorry…my opinion only 🙂 – Ray Cappo

Walter with Youth Of Today in Boston, Photo: Unknown

Growing up with kids
I can truly call my friends
there from the beginning
and they’ll be there until the end
Together we’ve built this
and all done our part
together we’ve stood here
right from the start
With all these great experiences
I know I won’t forget
all the places that we’ve traveled
and the people that we’ve fucking met
Together we’ve built this
and all done our part
together we’ve stood here
right from the start
I will never forget
all that we’ve done
all that it’s meant
There’s a youth culture rising
In front of your eyes
take pieces of you in my memory
until the day I die
Together we’ve built this
and all done our part
together we’ve stood here
right from the start
Youth Of Today – Together – 86
Supertouch – Searchin’ For The Light – 77
Breakdown – Sick People – 57
Warzone – As One – 48
Gorilla Biscuits – Better Than You – 23
Side By Side – Time Is Now – 23
Youth Defense League – Blue Pride – 23
Bold – Wise Up – 22
Gorilla Biscuits – Forgotten – 18
Youth Of Today – Understand – 17
Nausea – Fallout Of Our Being – 16
Warzone – Escape From Your Society – 12
Sick Of It All – Pete’s Sake – 11
Side By Side – Dead Serious – 11
Trip 6 – Back With A Vengeance – 8
Sick Of It All – Politics – 8
Krakdown – Ignornace – 4


Classic Cappo taking flight, Photo: Unknown

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Mark Holcomb – Undertow part II

Demian and John with Undertow, Photo courtesy of: Tom Holcomb

Picking up right where we left off, here’s part two of our interview with Undertow guitarist, Mark Holcomb, courtesy of our west coast connection, Ben “Edge” Merlis. Below is an intro that Ben asked I include -Tim DCXX

People change. This is no secret to anyone. So it should come as no big shock that one of the founding members of a legendary straight edge band agreed to be interviewed under the condition that I buy him a six pack of beer. And so I did. During the course of our two hour plus chat, Mark Holcomb ingested between four and six of the fifty cent Simpler Times Lagers, while describing the many phases of his tumultuous life, from being a Seattle hardcore kid in Undertow, to the universe of Shift – a New York City post-hardcore band on a major label, to being a Los Angeles-based surfer and starting over again from scratch. Undertow always had a dark, morose, foreboding vibe to their music, and that darkness comes from a very real place. Mark exorcised his demons on that day in March of 2010, reminiscing on those not-so simpler times. – Ben Merlis

As the bass player (referring to John Pettibone)?

Yeah. I think we recorded the first Undertow demo that has the ocean scene on it. I think you got it over there. Oh yeah, there’s John playing bass on the front of it. That would be probably ’89, maybe ’90?

And then around this time you did a tour with Jawbreaker, of all bands.

Yeah, yeah. (laughs)

West coast, right?

I think we played five shows, and three of them were with Jawbreaker and Samiam. Joel couldn’t go. His dad wouldn’t let him. So we had this kid Brandon Frenzel sing vocals.

Was he ever in any other bands?

No. He grew up with John, and he’s like, “I can go.” That was the “Beaver Hunt” tour. (laughs)

You made laminates that said that, right?

Yeah, and I wish I still had them, because I found most of the laminates that we ever made. That’s one that’s missing, but I’d love to fucking have it. If anybody out there has got it, I will pay you for that shit.

This kid Brandon who was singing for you just for that tour – what ended up happening to him later on?

He got involved with drugs and OD’d.

So he died?


What year was that?

I was 19, so ’93 he passed away.

Not that much later.

Three years later. He was into going to punk shows and all that stuff, but he quickly became a club kid and was a casualty of . . . I want to say it was meth, but that was so long ago. I don’t know. I saw him before he passed away and he didn’t look so hot.

Mark Holcomb with the riffage, Photo courtesy of: Tom Holcomb

Around this time the Seattle grunge scene was becoming a worldwide phenomenon. Was there any cross-pollination between the Seattle hardcore scene and the grunge scene, and what was the general attitude towards grunge within the hardcore scene?

Um, I would say everybody was against it (laughter). I liked it. I’ve always liked Soundgarden. That first Pearl Jam record I think was great. I can’t deny that I dig the first Alice In Chains . . . and this was back then. We were all like, “We just like hardcore.” We don’t like metal. All this other stuff seeped in, but I remember when grunge broke, the entire punk scene was like, “Fuck this shit.” But people my age wanted to go see shows, so they weren’t able to go see Soundgarden, because Soundgarden’s on tour. So they probably came to our shows. So I think in retrospect, it probably had a pretty positive influence on the scene, and a lot more people probably wanted to go to shows. Those bands were so big, and all of a sudden you’ve got an influx of people dressing like them and wanting to be like them. I can only speak from my perspective. I actually liked those bands even though I shouldn’t have. I thought they were good and I was sick of hearing all the other shit that I heard. I couldn’t deny that I thought it was all good. I think Seattle got overblown so fucking fast that everyone wanted to move to Seattle, and everything was about Seattle and grunge. I think I can say for everybody, that everybody used to dress like that because it’s fucking rainy and cold. So you wear a fucking flannel, because it keeps you warm. It wasn’t a style move. It was just practical. It was nice that people noticed Seattle and I was proud to be from Seattle, although all the bullshit that came along with that was fucking totally retarded. And I don’t think anybody in the punk scene liked any of the other . . . I mean Alice In Chains – that came out of nowhere, Pearl Jam . . . the whole Sub Pop thing was pretty massive too. There was always a fight between scenes, right? “My scene is better than yours. Fuck this grunge shit, we’re hardcore. We’re better than you.” All that shit, but there was no cross-pollination, other than maybe the fans that couldn’t go see Pearl Jam because they’re on tour all the time, so they would go see Undertow, because they want to go to an underground show.

How did Joel leave the band?

We kicked him out. Me and Murph got fed up with his vocals, and he was all of a sudden getting into Morrissey, which was the exact opposite of what me and Murph were into.

Ironically a lot of hardcore kids were REALLY into Morrissey. But you weren’t having any of that, right? (laughter)

I never gave a shit about fashion or what other people think or anything. I just want to play fucking music. People getting into The Smiths – all of a sudden you’re dressing different, you’re trying to look cool, and it became like you’re everybody I went to high school with, that I’m rebelling against. You shouldn’t have to dress this way to be cool, you shouldn’t have to act this way to be cool, or listen to stuff. But straight edge can be the same way too. We got sick of his shit. We never thought he was that good of a singer, and one day me and Murph worked together, and somebody asked if we were playing a show that weekend, and it was either Murph or I who said, “No, I’m done with this. I’m not doing this anymore.” And the next question was, “Well what are you guys going to do?” And whoever started the conversation was like, “We’re probably going to do a band together.” Basically we broke up the band, and we got John to sing, we stole this kid James from another band, who I think we also worked with. We just kind of said, “Fuck it, we’re not doing that anymore.” It happened like instantly.

When was that?

I think it was ’91.

That kid James, he became the bass player?


So what band was he in before Undertow?

He was in a band with Kinder. They were a straight edge band. I’ll find out for you. I can’t fucking remember.

Ryan brings the dread and the beat, Photo courtesy of: Tom Holcomb

I should have asked you this earlier: where did the name Undertow come from?

I found it in a dictionary. When I was 15 – no social life, no girls liked me, so I was 100% [into] the fucking band. I played guitar for 8 hours a day. I’d go down to Kinko’s and make stickers by myself. I went through the dictionary and was like, “We gotta come up with a new name,” because Refuse was fucking stupid. I think I came up with 8 names out of the dictionary, and the guys all liked “undertow.”

Demian [Johnston] becomes the bass player a year later and then you start putting out records?

Before that, Seth and James were in the band, and that’s when we recorded the Stalemate 7″.

So that’s Seth Lindstrom on second guitar?

Yeah. Me and him were pen pals, and his mom moved to Seattle for a job, and he joined Undertow while Joel was still singing. The two of them became real good friends, and we kicked out Joel, Seth stayed in the band, and we stole James. That version of Undertow recorded the Stalemate 7″, but it was just supposed to just be a demo. To me there are three versions of Undertow, although I only really like the last one. Undertow to me was Demian, John, Murph, and me. That version was like from [age] 17 to roughly 19. By now there was a scene in Seattle. Judge was supposed to come through, Ressurection, Mouthpiece . . . there were all these shows. Straight edge bands kind of popped up. There were a bunch of bands we played with. Also there was a scene, and you could actually play just hardcore shows. All bands would be pretty much hardcore bands, or some pop-punk and some rock bands. And that lasted until we all graduated. And John’s a little bit older, but we graduated and James quit the band.

John Pettibone with Undertow, Photo courtesy of: Tom Holcomb

You graduated high school in what year?

’92. So James quit the band right around then, and Murph and Seth weren’t getting along at all, so Seth, we knew he was going to quit. So at this point, it’s kind of just me, John, and Murph. And John wasn’t really showing up to practice at all, so it’s kind of just me and Murph. Actually credit to John – John knew Demian. And Demian was playing bass in Seth and Joel’s band. So two ex-members of Undertow started a new band, and they had Demian.

And then you stole Demian? (laughs)

Yeah, Demian was like, “Well, I’d really rather play with you guys.” And we were like, “Why don’t you just do both?”

What was the name of the other band?

Said Child. “Why don’t you just do both, and we’re not trying to steal you.” We played two shows in Vancouver. The first night was HORRIBLE. We were like, “After this we’ll just break up.” The next night wasn’t THAT bad. We came back to Seattle, and we were like, “Well, I don’t know if we should do the band anymore. Let’s think about it.” And then John got us a show with Seaweed at this place called the Firehouse. We ended up playing a show in front of like 1500 kids. I don’t know how, but a lot of the kids knew the lyrics. One of the records has “Cutting Away” live. And we play that show and you got 500 kids screaming “Cutting Away.”

Stalemate CD.

Yeah. We were like, “Well maybe we should keep this band together.” That was the final version of Undertow with Demian.

Demian and Murph with Undertow, Photo courtesy of: Tom Holcomb

But there was still a revolving door of second guitarists?

We hinted at it. Ryan Frederiksen from These Arms Are Snakes almost played with us, and Eric Kinder from 10:07 and Balance of the World almost played with us, but I think we decided we can do it . . . the four of us fit together.

What about that guy Guam?

He was the [earlier] bass player.

Oh, that IS James?

Yeah. And that was later too. I think during that time it was just the four of us, and then I talked about adding a guitar player during the last 7″, and we just decided “What’s the point?”

Things took off at this point, and you were putting out records . . .

I want to clear up something. That Stalemate was a demo and Dave Larson called us up and said, “Hey, I want to put that out as a 7″.”

And Dave Larson did Excursion, right?

Yeah. And so we said, “Well, yeah, we’d rather do new stuff,” but we didn’t know if we were breaking up or what, so At Both Ends and Control were the only two records we did on purpose that were getting released as records. Everything else was just demos that other people later on were like, “Let me put it out.” Up until now, where we’re at in the interview, the band had a rotating bass player, changing members, we were breaking up. A lot of turmoil. Week to week you didn’t know.

Mark hangin’ on Holcomb St., Photo courtesy of: Tom Holcomb

This time you pushed us too far…

We’ve probably posted this before and you’ve probably seen this before, but you know what… it’s well worth another post either way. Such a great ad for an equally great 7″. I really need to gather up a collection of all those early Revelation ads and get them posted up here at some point. They were all so simplistic, yet so cool. If you’ve got any scanned, please send them on in, we’d appreciate it. -Tim DCXX

Monday, July 11, 2011

Statue @ Club Eleven, San Diego CA, 7/10/2011

Gordo and I have been away on simultaneous summer vacation activities, so that would be the reason for things slowing down here on DCXX a bit. We promise to be back up and running on a more consistent basis soon, but for now, enjoy this video from the Statue reunion last night in San Diego. -Tim DCXX

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Riot On The Dance Floor

Finally, here’s the debut of the long awaited “Riot On The Dance Floor” City Gardens documentary trailer. Check it out and follow the link below for more info. -Tim DCXX
Riot On The Dance Floor

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Jules – Side By Side / Alone In A Crowd 2011 Interview part VIII

Jules fronting Alone In A Crowd at The Anthrax, Photo courtesy of: Jules

No intro necessary, here’s part VIII, more to still come… -Gordo DCXX

I don’t really like to explain songs – I always thought they’d speak for themselves – but I think after all this time some of the songs might deserve a little discussion. Is Anybody There and Commitment are pretty straightforward, so I’m not going to spend any time on them, but I caught some flak for the other two songs on the record. To the extent that people didn’t or don’t now get where I was coming from, here’s my two cents.

Who You Know was always, and still appears to be, a misunderstood song. I wrote it about some very specific people more than twenty years ago that happened to be female. Listen, that the hardcore scene was predominantly male was not by design, believe me. I’m sure if you asked any guy from back then they would have welcomed more girls. Hardcore in the mid to late 80’s just wasn’t that big of a female draw. But there were absolutely girls who were into the scene, the music, and many of them were real contributors. For example, Amy was in a band (Nausea), Alexa would terrorize the pit, Spermacide got hardcore on the airwaves live in the studio at WNYU, and there were a whole bunch of artists and photographers, like BJ Pappas, who would always be helping bands out with photos and artwork for flyers and record covers. So, if anyone has the misconception that there may be some kind of misogynistic or chauvinistic message contained in Who You Know — this was a song about individuals, not about an entire gender.

And then there was When Tigers Fight. Where do I begin? It’s generated more discussion than the other three songs on the e.p. combined. I guess I’ll start with where I got the idea for the song. Positive hardcore was anti-violence: Violence To Fade, Time To Forgive, Better Than You, etc., etc., etc. One of the things that used to irk me was when the bullying types would threaten the positive kids, who were coming to shows to hear bands singing about non-violence! I mean, here are kids trying to do the right thing, and they’d get threatened (or worse). And it was inevitably some skinny kid who wasn’t looking for a fight, and he’d always be outnumbered. It actually makes me mad just thinking about it so many years later.

Carl faces the Anthrax crowd, Photo courtesy of: Jules

Now, Alex (Side By Side) was kind of shy. He generally kept to himself, and didn’t go off in the pit much, if memory serves. He was tall and skinny, totally not intimidating. But, on stage, Alex was different. I recall a Side By Side show where kids were slamming into him on stage and I think one kid was diving and I think grabbed Alex on the way down. Alex stopped playing, clenched his teeth and his fists and started wailing on the guy, punching the guy right in the face again and again! He was freaking fierce! Alex of all people — who’d have figured?

Seeing that got me thinking… bullies took advantage of the positive scene by picking on kids who don’t want to fight. But that didn’t mean they couldn’t fight. What would happen if one these kids just snapped and took on one of these tough guys? He’d probably be in for the fight of their life if the kid put it all on the line, one on one. So I came up with When Tigers Fight; it is the only song that is truly mine. I wrote the music – just kept putting two fingered chords together until something sounded right. Once I had it down, I “played” it for Lars and Carl, and we came up with the bass/drum intro.

Now I am not a tough guy, never was, never will be. I was a skinny kid, you’ve seen the pictures. Tried martial arts – was great at forms, got my ass beat sparring. What few fights I’ve been in were usually interrupted before any real damage, save for one spectacular beating I took as a 13-year old when my earring caught the shoulder of my leather jacket as I tried to avoid a hit. Nearly tore my ear off – and I still took the shot to the face! Never did wear an earring after that. Luckily for me, I was always pretty good at defusing fights before they happened. I was never bullied. In fact, I never got into a fight at any shows or with any other hardcore kid. The only “fights” I ever got into back then were with drunk yuppies in suits who couldn’t be reasoned with.

So When Tigers Fight is really not about me. It also was not a “pro-violence” song. It was about the positive kids who were getting picked on, and the emotions that I knew they must be feeling. So I put myself into their shoes, and imagined being a kid like that and psyching myself up to confront a bully. That’s what I was going for. I may not have done so very artfully, but I was not a poet. This was not spoken word, and I had no aspirations that it would be construed as an attempt at literature or high art. Hardcore lyrics generally weren’t done in the voice of a “character.” Hardcore lyrics were meant to be simple so kids could sing along at a show. Profundity wasn’t the point, giving a voice to the anger was the point.

A blur of Jules with Alone In A Crowd, Photo courtesy of: Jules

As far as the title, there is a saying, I believe it has its origins in China, which goes: “when tigers fight, one ends up hurt, the other dead.” There is another proverb which goes “even with those shy as a mouse, you still have to beware the tiger within.” That seemed in keeping with what the song was about. The kid stands up to the bully, and even if he can’t win, he’s going all out and someone’s going to get hurt.

And then there’s the ding. We were at Don Fury’s and Drago, the drummer for Raw Deal, was listening to us record the song, and Drago’s like “you gotta do the ding! You gotta do the ding!” And I was reluctant at first, but he was insistent – and I figured we could always take it out. So we set up a cymbal in the studio and mic’d it, and Drago put the headphones on. Don played the tape and there Drago was… alone in the studio… listening, getting ready… and then ding! Maybe you had to be there, but it was freaking hilarious. We were in the booth laughing our asses off. After that moment, I just couldn’t bring myself to take the ding out. It was just too good a memory. It may have cheesed up the song a bit, but the look on Drago’s face was worth it.

After recording the e.p., everybody but Howie returned to their own bands. With AIAC, things had gone so well thus far, Howie and I decided to make a go of it. We found a guitarist, Glen from Linden, NJ. He had some good riffs and he and I started working on some songs together. We got a drummer – who came to one practice to jam with us and was like “this blows.” I think Lars stuck around a bit here and there for some practices – but he was full on into Uppercut. Luke helped us record some new material of Glen’s at a rehearsal at Don Fury’s. But we lost momentum fast. I got very fed up with the whole thing. I could stand here and blame other people, or say it was the circumstances that prevented AIAC from being a real band… but in the end, the simple fact was I just didn’t have it in me. AIAC just kind of died on the vine. And it was just as well, if deep down I wasn’t really into it, it would’ve really been unfair to the other guys. I don’t know what happened to Glen, but Howie went on to play with Walter Schreifels and I think he toured with Judge. I haven’t talked to either of those guys in 20 years.

By the time AIAC wound down, I had really stopped hanging out. I’d go to shows when my friends were playing, but I had graduated high school and was working full time in New York Harbor. Never say never, though… Side By Side would play one last show, at, of all places, CBGB…

The classic stage banter unwinds, Photo courtesy of: Jules

Monday, July 4, 2011

Mouthpiece / Chain Of Strength eBay auctions

Mouthpiece – “Can’t Kill What’s Inside” LP Test Pressing, Revelation: 147

I’ve been asked by Mouthpiece guitarist, Chris Schuster, to do some eBay listings for him, so I figured I’d give all the DCXX readers a head’s up. A few rare records from both Mouthpiece and Chain Of Strength, all out of Chris’ personal collection. More records to possibly come in the near future. If you’re interested, click on the link below to follow the auctions, or do a search for eBay seller, Revelation-9. Thanks. -Tim DCXX
Mouthpiece/Chain eBay auctions

Mouthpiece – 7″ Test Pressing, New Age Records # 8

Chain Of Strength – “Confusion” 7″, Foundation Records


Chain Of Strength – “What Holds Us Apart” 7″, Foundation Records

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Mark Holcomb – Undertow

Ryan, John and Mark with Undertow, Photo courtesy of: Tom Holcomb

Undertow are one of those bands from the early 90’s that I always felt that I had a certain bond with. They were very similar in age to the guys in my band (Mouthpiece), we both seemed to have come from a common background and the same era of hardcore. We liked a lot of the same bands and both our bands started around the same time, only difference being that we came from different coasts. Then sometime around the summer of 1992, Undertow made their way to New Jersey and we got a chance to play together. After playing that first show together, we hung out, got to know each other and maintained a connection for many years to come. Eventually Mouthpiece would make our way to Seattle and both bands would come together and hit the road from Seattle all the way to Southern California. There’s no question we’ve shared some memories together and now almost 20 years later, I’ve still managed to loosely keep in touch with some of the Undertow guys.

A year or so ago, Ben Merlis hit me up and told me that Undertow guitarist, Mark Holcomb, was now his roommate. Ben asked if I’d be interested in an interview with Mark for DCXX and offered to handle the entire interview himself. Of course I obliged and what we’re kicking off here is the start to a multi part interview. Thanks to Ben for the contribution, it’s much appreciated and of course, thanks to Mark for breaking it all down for us. – Tim DCXX

A blur of Undertow, Photo courtesy of: Tom Holcomb

So you used to be a goth. Tell me about that.

7th grade I was totally normal. 7th-8th grade break my sister got me into Love & Rockets and then from there I got into The Cure and this other band Mission UK, and I totally got into goth.

What year was this?

It had to be ’86 to ’87, because I think I was goth for a full year.

Did you dress like Robert Smith?

I grew out my bangs, but it was more of that 80s skater thing. I never teased my hair. I remember wearing t-shirts around my waist as that like cape coming down the back. (laughs) Kids used to do that. That might have been more Hosoi than anything, you know? I think I copped more of that skate look than goth. I never wore eyeliner, although the original singer for Undertow did tease his hair and wear eyeliner.

Before Undertow?

Yeah yeah. Both me and him got into the same things and I’m trying to think if we knew Murph [Ryan Murphy, Undertow drummer] at the time. I think we were friends with Murph, but Murph was like a metal kid, a punk rock kid. Kind of that other spectrum where you’re really not supposed to get along. That only lasted like a year. I always grew up with music, with my dad listening to classic rock and stuff, but the goth phase probably lasted like a year or so. Then my sister started dating the guitar player from Brotherhood and by now I started to check out Dead Kennedys and GBH and DRI, and he was like, “Oh if you like this shit, I’ve got some underground stuff you might like.” So he started making me cassette tapes of mixes of Youth of Today, Crippled Youth, Bold, Minor Threat. I really liked Minor Threat and I really liked Crippled Youth, especially Crippled Youth. They were like my age. I was into that. So there was a goth phase for a year, and then I got into Suicidal Tendencies and more thrash and punk stuff for maybe like eight months or so, and then it quickly turned to hardcore.

You grew up where exactly?

North Seattle. An area called Lake Forest Park.

And you went to junior high with Joel from Undertow?

Yeah, and Murph. Since 7th grade I guess. Murph was fucking punk in . . . I think I can show you a picture. I think he had a mohawk in 7th grade. His 7th grade picture was him with a mohawk and a sleeveless cut-off Johnny Rotten shirt that says “I Want Be An Anarchist.” (laughs) I gotta give credit to Murph that he was a fucking bad ass from the beginning.

What about going to shows? When did you start going to see bands play and what bands were they?

The first show I went to was Love & Rockets and Jane’s Addiction and that was ’87 or so. The big change happened when my sister started dating the guitar player from Brotherhood, Greg Anderson. Him and all his friends started taking us to see his band. I knew he was in this band before that, which was False Liberty. I knew they were playing shows, but I was so young. I was like 14, 13? So my mom didn’t approve of me going to shows unless there was a chaperone or music she approved of.

Mark with Undertow, Photo courtesy of: Tom Holcomb

So you got into Brotherhood before The Accused, or were you an Accused fan first?

I was an Accused fan first. Yeah, because they were from Seattle, so they were pretty big. There was a show I was supposed to go to. Me, Joel and Murph were supposed to go see GBH and The Accused, but it was like three hours away and you had to take a ferry to go. I can’t remember if Murph went or not. I think he was the one who had a ticket, but couldn’t go. And there was actually a riot on the ferry one day.

Oh! Yeah, Jesse from Bad Reaction told me the story. He was on the ferry.

Yeah! After that riot my mom was like . . . my mom was very protective of me because my sister was a wild child, so I kind of caught the brunt of anything she did. She was like, “That won’t happen again.”

So your parents were still married at this point?

They were divorced when I was 2. I saw my dad at least once a week. He only lived like an hour and a half away.

In Olympia, right?

Yeah. And he loves music. He bought both me and my sister record players when we were like 10. So both me and my sister grew up listening to a lot of music and collecting records and all that. Throughout the entire career of Undertow and me being in Shift, he always supported me musically. He said, “This is what you want to do. Go for it.”

So when did you start playing the guitar?

I was 14? It was the summer before freshman year, so I had just turned 14 and I traded the original Nintendo for the Eric Clapton red and white Squier guitar.

Oh, like a Stratocaster?

Yeah. And then I started in high school. Freshman year, I took lessons. Which is mostly classical, but basically you had an hour to practice your classical stuff and then your teacher would play Beatles songs and you’d try to follow along.

How did Refuse start? That was the first band you were ever in, right?


And who was in the original line up of Refuse?

I can’t remember the bass player, but it was all of us from high school, and basically me and Joel had been best friends and we needed a drummer. Greg from Brotherhood said, “You want to start a band? Just find dudes who play music. It’s that simple.” So we talked to Murph and we were like, “We want to start a band.” I said, “I can’t play.” Murph is like, “I can’t play.” But my mom let us practice in our house for a little while and then eventually we practiced at Joel’s. But it was me, Joel, and Murph, and we kind of had a rotating bass player there for a little while. But we didn’t know how to write. We barely knew how to play. We’d just kind of get together and jam. We’d never do covers or anything, but I would try to write music. And I think we ended up recording eight songs for the Refuse demo by the end of our freshman year.

Mark and John with Undertow, Photo courtesy of: Tom Holcomb

Your first was where, and if you remember the date, what date was that?

It was in April, I want to say like the 4th or the 8th. It was in Bremerton, which was the place where The Accused riot happened. It was with Brotherhood and First Step I think? We played four songs in this dude’s basement. This guy Lenny used to have shows in his basement and like 50 kids showed up.

April 1989?

Yeah. Both me and Joel sang back up vocals for Brotherhood, and that was in ’88. And that was when I was still straight edge. I can mark the date where pretty much I was like, “I’m going to be straight edge.” It was right around November of ’88.

You were so young. Were you doing any drugs or drinking before that?

No, but talking with Greg and seeing other family members kind of having issues. Greg just presented it as, “I’m doing this for myself, and I like to be in control. When you get fucked up you’re just not in control. What if something happens to somebody or you? You’re just not in control. You don’t have your full functions. And I would prefer to live my life clean.” It made sense to me because when you get into high school there’s the rockers, the goths, the skaters, and everybody kind of hates each other. It appealed to me. I’m going to take care of my own life.

You said something about family members having issues. Specifically what was going on in your family at the time?

Just recreational use. There might have been some harder stuff mixed in. My parents are divorced, my mom’s a Catholic, and uh . . . I don’t know. There was some harder drugs going on. I don’t know how serious it was, even to this day. I’ve asked and I’ve gotten different stories. Siblings . . . that’s as far as I can go with that. (laughs) I’ll tell you off the record.

Tell me about One Family. What is One Family?

It was the guys in Undertow, Dave Larson from Excursion Records, and Ron from Overkill [Records] and Brotherhood. We just wanted to get buddy tattoos because we were all like, “We’ll be straight edge forever.” We’ve been straight edge for this long and we were kind of building a scene, because Seattle was pretty small then. It was kind of a comradery thing. We took it obviously from Youth of Today. Ron used to always drive Undertow down to California on our spring break and whenever we could. So it was always like Undertow, Dave Larson, and Ron, and a few of our other friends. Eric Kinder came along for a lot of those trips. It was just like a group of dudes who were like, “Fuck everybody else. This is who we are. We’ll all be friends forever.” You know. You’re 18, you want to get tattooed.

Demian, John and Mark with Undertow, Photo courtesy of: Tom Holcomb

So have you been friends forever?

Still friends with half the people. Ron Guardipee I’m not, but that’s more business than anything else.

It was a crew in a sense that it wasn’t exactly a gang? Did you graffiti on the walls?

No. It was just a group of dudes, and we were all like, “Let’s get the same tattoo.”

You got your first tattoo when you were how old?


What other bands were there at the time, late 80s Seattle straight edge? Obviously there’s Brotherhood who becomes Resolution. There’s you guys – Refuse. And then, who else? First Step?

First Step was from Bellingham. I feel like there was a straight edge band out of Spokane. It’s been so long. That was it. Brotherhood broke up after they toured with The Accused and First Step broke up even before that. Around that time Refuse was it. We changed the name [to Undertow] I think when we were 16.

Did Refuse play outside of the Seattle area?

Refuse never played IN Seattle actually. We played one show in Bremerton and then we played one show in Spokane when we were 15. And then we lost our bass player and that’s I guess when John [Pettibone] came in. We met Pettibone through going to all these shows, because he would be at the shows. I’ve talked to you about this, but the background to Seattle was underage shows were illegal in Seattle up until like ’92-’93. Because they didn’t want underage kids being in the same environment where people sell alcohol, and the insurance rates were too high for somebody to open up an all ages club. So you were playing like basements. We found this sketchy place in a bad neighborhood called the Party Hall, and that guy was like, “I don’t give a fuck. Do whatever.” We used to get robbed outside. It was pretty dicey for a 16 year old kid, but that was the first place where it didn’t get shut down because it was in such a bad neighborhood. All the other places if somebody tried to rent a VFW hall or something, it would get shut down in like three weeks.

Mark and Ryan, Photo courtesy of: Tom Holcomb

At this point were there nationally touring hardcore bands coming through Seattle?

Yeah, occasionally. It was just all random, but the shows wouldn’t be just hardcore. They’d be punk, and pop-punk. I remember bills where Neurosis would play with a pop-punk band, and Christ On A Crutch were still playing around in Seattle so, there was bands like Aspirin Feast and Last Gasp and there were like punk bands like The Accused, but on a smaller level playing shows, but if you were in a band and you could play, you could get a show there. So there were shows where it would be like Undertow, Christ On A Crutch, Aspirin Feast and Neurosis, and then like one time we played with Offspring before they got big. And it was great because everybody would show up and everybody got along because they knew that this isn’t going to last forever. There was no friction at that time between different scenes because everybody played the same shows.

Youth of Today or Inside Out, when they did national tours, would they come through Seattle?

Youth of Today came through in ’88, played Spokane, and I think Walter broke his leg and flew home because he was skating.

He broke his leg in Spokane?

It was right around that time. So Ray played bass and I think John White from Open Your Eyes Fanzine sang, and they didn’t play Seattle. (Editor’s note: it was actually Steve Reddy of Wolfpack/Equal Vision Records that sang at that show for YOT)

And John White was the first Brotherhood singer?

Yeah. Bands wouldn’t really come through that much. so when a band did make it through, especially later on in the second era of Undertow, when maybe we had established a little bit of a name . . . to get to Seattle from San Francisco is a 16 hour drive. There were no shows in Portland or Idaho, so you’d come up and play Seattle and then split. Most bands were like, “What’s the fucking point?”

Poison Idea wasn’t playing?

Oh yeah! Undertow played with Poison Idea. And we used to play with The Accused, but I think if bands wanted to come through they had to be bigger at that time or they had to be bands like Poison Idea that could get a draw and get paid a lot of money, because those drives . . . You hit Seattle, you might go play Vancouver. I think Vancouver had shit going on then too, but getting across the border was really sketchy. So if you want to come to Seattle, and maybe play Portland, but Portland was kind of slimmer than Seattle where just really weren’t that many shows. You were doing these 12-13 hour drives, coming up playing two shows tops, probably not making that much money, and then having to drive through Idaho, Wyoming, or Montana, if you could find those shows. There really wasn’t a cohesive scene. And the bands that did make it through were playing bars. And I was 15-16.

Ryan delivers the beat for Undertow, Photo courtesy of: Tom Holcomb

You told me a long time ago about the best show you ever saw. Do you remember what you said?

Inside Out. Yeah.

Where was that? When was that?

That would be probably ’90. It was Inside Out and Forced Down. Amenity actually came up before Forced Down and I met all those dudes, and I had a fanzine at the time called Mario Brothers. (laughs). I interviewed the guys in Amenity. And then when Forced Down and Inside Out came up they played in . . . it’s called Ballard, but it’s basically Seattle, and Bellingham which is two hours north. They played at a real club in Ballard, and then played this kid’s garage in Bellingham, and this was still . . . I was what? 16? So that’s 15 years ago roughly? Still the best show I’ve ever seen. EVERYBODY knew the lyrics.

It was 20 years ago.

Oh man. (laughs)

Exactly 20 years ago. What was it like? What was so great about Inside Out?

Well I think for a lot of us, we got the demo real early on. It changed our perception of what hardcore could be, because Zack’s vocals, he actually sings on a lot of it. Not really melodies, but it’s not just screaming. His voice . . . even in Rage Against The Machine I think it’s appealing. His voice is just so emotional. It’s not just dead screaming. And then Vic Dicara . . . the members of the band were just amazing. It was intense and it had this emotional feel to it. It wasn’t the east coast Sick Of It All-Killing Time kind of tough guy shit. It was like west coast, emotional . . . I don’t know if it’s maybe more laid back, but Inside Out also was a bit slower. Not much on that record is fast. So it’s a different style of hardcore. Greg Anderson was living in San Diego, and he played a little bit in Amenity, but he also had a band called Statement. And all of a sudden Statement and the original Statue stuff was coming out. It was slower, the vocals were a lot better. And even Chain of Strength, it’s amazing. His vocals are like . . . awesome.

You can definitely hear the Chain of Strength and the Inside Out influence in early Undertow.


So when exactly did Refuse change its name to Undertow and why? And just for the record – Refuse changed its name to Undertow while Joel was still the singer. Is that correct?


When was that?

Probably ’89 or ’90. I think we just decided the name Refuse was stupid. And it was definitely Joel and me and Murph and around the time that John joined the band.

The Undertow guys stop to take a rest, Photo courtesy of: Tom Holcomb

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