So here we are, the final entry to this killer interview with Craig Ahead. It took awhile to get it all posted, but I think in the end, it was well worth the wait. Once again, big thanks to our friend Lenny Zimkus for orchestrating this interview for us and of course, huge thanks to Craig for delivering mind blowing story after mind blowing story. Now without further ado. -Tim DCXX
Tell us about Rest In Pieces.
Agnostic Front played from ’87-’89 and then Roger got incarcerated for 18 months and during that time I played with Rest In Pieces. I was working as a furniture mover and playing with the band. It was a serious band but not one that was going to go on tour – we were more a local band with shows in the area. I would say that we were very professional musician-wise and we took a lot of care and time into the music that we were creating. We had written the record which would become Under My Skin and recorded in Long Island for one day. We thought it sounded like shit and we just left without paying. Then we went to Normandy and it came out really good, except that me and Rob were telling Armand his vocals were out of key and they sound really bad. In typical Armand fashion being headstrong he didn’t listen to us. Then two years later he told me and Rob, how come you didn’t tell me it sounded like that.
How did you end up in Sick Of It All?
After the last AF show in Czechoslovakia I flew home and Armand called me to let me know Richie quit and they want me to go on tour. I couldn’t do it after that AF tour. I was going to stop doing this and go to school to be a chef. I wound up doing the tour with SOIA for 6 weeks with one day off after being in Europe for almost two months with AF. I came home, did my laundry and left. This was the tour after Just Look Around came out. We brought Ezec and Toby with us and it was so much fun, it was like being on tour with AF, but a light hearted version.
After being with those guys for that time I said fuck school I’m in the band. I knew them forever, I helped them out with writing songs or playing so it was a natural fit. So all of ’93 I played with them then we wound up signing to a major label and recorded Scratch The Surface. That was the point where my career really blew up and I felt like we were becoming a worldwide phenomenon- not just the band but hardcore as well. With hardcore I’ve been able to travel the world. I think I’ve pretty much been everywhere that there is a scene, except China, India, and Hawaii – I would really like to go those places.
I wake up and thank God with a smile for the life that I have. I am so grateful to be living the life that I live with the disposition I have to be able to appreciate and understand everything that I do. I have always understood my position and have realized how fortunate I am, and how great my karma is. I say this without being arrogant: I live a great life, all of my dreams have come true. When I think about it I get choked up to this day. I have a farm with amazing views of the mountains which is something that I always wanted. I love my job which is what I always wanted to do – and people respect me, they thank me. I just did what I wanted, I didn’t have a safety net under me and it worked out to be this great thing. How amazing is it?
I was always into boxing as a hobby, and I dedicated myself to it for a year. I went on to be a trainer and I coached guys who went on to win amateur championships and titles. I was the assistant coach under my coach making good money training these guys. This was the ultimate fulfillment of the hobby to reach this peak in something I loved to do. I keep repeating it but I appreciate everything in my life and I am so thankful. Earlier I had mentioned that Hardcore was my life and I have to say it still is. It might not be as tight knit as it was then with going to shows and then hanging out in the park. But for me it’s an adult thing and I’ll be friends with these guys the rest of my life. Back then all I cared about was getting in a van and going to a show and being with my friends – nothing else mattered. And still to this day it’s the main focus of my life. If we have to get on a plane and go to a show that is our main focus…the four of us, there is no stopping us. With Sick Of It All we realize that this is our thing and nothing at all gets in the way, 100% dedicated 100% of the time.
What was the best and worst part of being in Youth Of Today?
The live show was the best. The worst part was the jock hazing they gave me because I was the kid from Queens without the right sneakers.
What was the best and worst part of being in Agnostic Front?
The best was the experience and the wild abandon that any situation was handled with, and the worst was the experience and the wild abandon that any situation was handled with, without a safety net, just taking a chance and seeing what happens.
What was the best and worst part of being in Rest In Pieces?
The best was it was a professional band with my friends and we all completely understood each other as musicians. We were confident that we’re trying to sound as powerful and intense musically as possible. The worst was it was a purely musical thing and we didn’t have the charisma to do what my other bands could do in a live show.
What was the best and worst part of being in Straight Ahead?
The best was that it was my baby and I was writing songs in the most natural primitive way I could. Those early days in Hardcore were such a thrill for me. The worst was the instability.
What is the best and worst part of being in Sick Of It All?
The best is these guys are my friends and my brothers since I was younger. It’s my home. The experiences we’ve had, the friends I’ve made all over the world…I really can’t describe it. If you could take my memories and put it on paper it would be like War and Peace of Hardcore. It has totally cultured me about any preconceived notions I’ve had about people. It’s opened my mind, eyes, and soul in this lifetime. I have nothing bad to say about it at all.
I never thought this would be my life but I took a chance and so far it’s worked out. I have no regrets.