Here’s part 1 of what will be a very large and ongoing interview with Matt Pincus, bassist of JUDGE. Stay tuned for more.
I grew up in New York City. In Manhattan. As such, I was exposed to stuff at a pretty young age and started getting into punk records when I was about 10 years old. I grew up with a dad who was a successful banker, and a brother who was a super popular high school kid, and I went to private school in NY. My folks were great people, but somehow, that all pissed me off at the age of 10 and punk rock really spoke to me.
A buddy of mine in 5th grade was Paul Simon’s kid and was super sophisticated about music. He gave me the first Specials record and it kind of grew from there. Mostly UK punk in the beginning. The first record I actually bought was the Clash s/t record. I bought that at the Upper East Side Disc-O-Mat when I was 10. From there, I got into the Pistols, the Jam, then harder stuff like GBH, Exploited, Discharge. I think I found out about most of those bands from the kid in the record store. That bridged to US hardcore starting with the usual suspects like Circle Jerks, Black Flag, Bad Brains, etc. I got that stuff from Flipside and MRR. I had subscriptions and would get issues seemingly whenever, but always a thrill. I also remember Thrasher doing reviews that were helpful. That was my Internet back then in the dark ages. There was also a radio show on WLIR called Hell Hole on Tuesday nights at 10 pm. They played dark goth music and some louder metal stuff. I used to stay up and listen to that under the covers.
After 6th grade, I got kicked escorted out of the private school I was in and had to go to a new school downtown. That’s where I met Sammy. We were 11. First day of 7th grade, and we were the only two punk kids. Sammy picked me out of the lineup because I had a Mohawk and asked me if I liked punk rock. He’s still one of my closest friends today.
I had started to play guitar around age 10. I took some lessons for a couple of years. But when I was a freshman in high school, I switched to bass because there was an opening in the school band for a bass player. We played covers and jazz standards. I found that it suited my personality much better somehow and, through the school band picked up basic technique. Playing with no pick, intervals, octaves, scaling, etc.
I never had great pitch, and wasn’t a songwriter, but I had a solid ability to figure out how to play songs by listening to records. I was already super into punk records and, by the end of my freshman year in high school, I’d gone straight edge and was really into NYHC. Sammy was playing in Side by Side by then, and I started to know all of those guys, even though I had been sent to boarding school.
I got the gig in Judge because the band’s first bass player, Jimmy Yu, had quit suddenly, right after the Chung King sessions. They needed someone quickly for the Bringing it Down record. Sammy nominated me. I already knew all the songs really well from listening to them on the Chung King recording (which Jimmy played on). So, I jumped in right away and did the record in Rhode Island over spring break junior year, just a couple of weeks after I joined. Basically, I got really really lucky. That really changed my life, and the experience led to a career in music that endures today…