Do you remember the first time you saw AF play?
The first time I saw them was at CB’s in 1984 and my memory of them is that Roger had his arm at a 90 degree angle gripping the microphone, the whole show his arm did not move no matter how many people carried him around or how much he got mixed up in the crowd his arm stayed at that angle with the microphone in his face singing. To me they were the quintessential hardcore band with chains around their waists, boots, cut off sleeves, army shorts…Hardcore, straight up hardcore. Later on when I made it into the band, I couldn’t believe I was in AF. I remember calling Armand, Pete and Lou and saying “yo I’m in Agnostic Front!”
It was unbelievable how I rose through the ranks and to be in the number one hardcore band. I had worked my way up playing in all these other bands but it happened so quick that I was playing with them. The band that I worshipped and idolized, the pinnacle of NYHC, something that I aspired to be…I was in the band. The band that made NYHC what it was…when Victim In Pain came out they took NYHC and put a flag and a stamp on it. I was in the band now and I couldn’t believe it.
AF shows were always packed we would do east coast tours, head out to the west coast, and after about a year and a half we went to Europe in 1990. It’s my first time out of the country and Roger gets deported in Switzerland 3 days into the tour because he had a criminal record. We had the roadie sing and I had to teach him all of the lyrics. That was a crazy tour. Afterwards I was sick from stress for 6 months. It was like being in Vietnam and coming back totally shell shocked. It was right around the time that the wall came down in Germany and East Germany was no longer communist. So the guys who booked the tour were these two Italian anarchists. We are sitting in a restaurant eating and we go outside and they are fighting with the cops getting the living shit beat out of them. We go outside and they arrest all of us, they tell us our van is stolen. We don’t know what they are talking about so it turns out the van was stolen a few months ago and it was never taken off some list so here we are driving around in a stolen van and they put me in a cell which just a couple months ago was an East German communist jail. I’m put in a chair facing the wall, one guy puts on a pair of leather gloves and starts punching his hands and he’s laughing in my ear. The other guy is speaking Russian to me punching his hands. Roger is saying “fuck this!” I’m laughing because by that time I’m hardened and I’m saying you’re not going to do shit, you’re all talk. They put each of us in our own cell for probably five hours and they eventually let us go but they stole all of the money we had in our brief case. That tour I made no money – they robbed thousands and thousands of Deutsche Marks from us.
I had been in this band for years and was put in crazy situations. I was in the middle of knife fights - people getting stabbed right in front of me…this was nothing to me. I slept on rotten squat floors with no ceilings next to junkies shooting up next to me the whole tour. The conditions on that tour were unimaginable, it was like being a homeless person except that you were being given a tour of European junkiedom, it was fucking crazy. At one show the Italian promoters are arguing with the German promoter and they smash a yogurt container against the bar, yogurt goes all over the German guy’s girlfriend and immediately the lights go out. The place is pitch black and they knew what they were doing. I knew the drill from being with these maniacs that we were in trouble. So I get down on the floor with one hand ready to sprint in any direction and the lights come on and five feet from my face everyone in the club has bats, pipes, sticks ready to beat the life out of us and throw us in a ditch and the one guy had a gun. So I yell out “back door! Run!” We’re running away from our van and they chase us about 100 yards and finally stop. We get back to the van and laugh how we almost died. These Italian guys started trouble everywhere. Roger would put me in these situations that I would have to get out of. He would say “Look what I’m going to do to Skully,” which was what they called me.
I would be outside a 7-11 and he would set something up where a group of grown men thought I did something to their car and I would have to deal with these guys wanting to fight me. This was the first time that I was making any money being in a band. I was an 18 year old kid making thousands and thousands of dollars. I would make three grand for ten days of work. But then I would sleep at Vinnie’s house for a week straight, eating sushi everyday until I spent all of my money. Agnostic Front though was great and I really enjoyed it. I was in that band until 1993. AF broke up due to a managerial situation that I won’t go into detail about. It is about the most insane story I could tell you that you wouldn’t believe. Next to me telling you that they had a contact with aliens, it’s about the next most shocking thing.
To be continued…