If you missed the first part to this interview, check it out here: Matt Pincus of Judge – Part I
Now go throw on “Bringin’ It Down” and lay into part II. Much more to come, so stay tuned.
Sammy and I were best friends in 7th grade, and spent a lot of time together then. But he started taking music more seriously, even at a young age. We used to mess around on guitar and drums in his dad’s moving and storage warehouse downtown, playing covers of punk songs. However, I think it was pretty clear to everyone that Sammy was something special and was going to have a future playing music that was beyond the rest of us. Pretty quickly, he joined a band called Noize Police which had some real shows going. That led to Side By Side and the rest was history for him.
We stayed close but, while Sammy was developing in music, I really took the punk thing to the next level. was a really fucked up kid when I was about 10 – 13 years old. I was arrested a couple of times, got kicked out of two schools, was smoking dope and in trouble with drugs, ran away from my house and finally got sent to reform school, which was a difficult place for kids with issues. That was a dark time. I got the shit kicked out of me a few times and, by the time I got out (before ninth grade) I was ready to turn my life around.
I honestly credit hardcore for straightening me out. Sammy introduced me to straight edge and that was the vine swing I needed to get things on the right track and channel my pissed off energy. I have a lot to thank him for. I started going to shows when I was about 14. You had to be 16 to get into CB’s for hardcore matinees. So, I was too young. I seem to remember that a bunch of us went to a place called Playland in Times Square and got super cheap fake IDs for a couple of bucks that said we were 16. They just said ID CARD across the top, but CBs didn’t care. Probably the least sinister use of fake IDs there could be anyway. I saw Side By Side at CBs when I must have been 14. That was a memorable show as I think it may have been my first and I stood on stage. It blew my mind.
Hardcore was like my sports in high school. I went to shows, then played shows, on weekends, during all my vacations from school, and toured in the summer. I became straight edge when I was 15, and that got me clean and gave me a sense of purpose and a community.
Shows were scary back in those days. I have an indelible memory of Jason Krakdown (from Krakdown) dominating the pit by swinging a bike lock round and round over his head, I think at a Sick Of It All matinee. I wasn’t a tough guy. That scared the shit out of me.
Another memorable show was Bad Brains at the Ritz on 11th Street. I seem to remember they were on a bill with Fishbone. I was probably 15 and it just blew my mind. I had never seen people do the things those guys were doing. Dr. Know ripping. HR doing a full flip on stage. Just nuts. A kid stage dived off the balcony onto the crowd. It’s impossible to imagine that happening these days.
And then there was the Anthrax. That was a place of wonder for me, though I do remember breaking my arm there at a YOT show.
I still have my old first pressing hardcore records. I bought YOT Can’t Close My Eyes at Some Records. I still remember thumbing through the bins, trying to decide what to buy. I still have the Unity, Underdog, Sick Of It All, GB, and Bold 7 inches in the collection, not to mention Salad Days, along with some epic demo tapes (Beyond demo comes to mind).
It was a special time.
I’m not sure I ever felt like I fit in when I was a kid, no matter what context…and I’m not sure the NYHC scene was any different in that respect.
My life pattern and upbringing was different than the other guys in the scene, but I think a couple of things helped and made it work for me. First, I worked really hard at playing music. I knew the songs, and I showed up early for shows. I was way into it. I also respected the other guys in the band and what they had done. Mike Judge and I were way different, but he and I did some early morning shifts on tour and connected in our own way. Porcell was someone everyone looked up to and I was no exception. I think they got that I felt lucky to be where I was.
Second, I think I had earned some respect because I had taken the punk thing super far. Despite my background, I didn’t give a fuck and wasn’t trying to play it safe. I think some people knew a little bit of that and maybe went a bit easier on me because of it.
Did I feel like I was in the same struggle with all of those guys? Probably not. Attached is a pic of a bunch of the hardcore cats hanging out at my folks’ apartment. Porcell, Wally, Luke, Alex Brown, etc. were there. That was quite a night. I remember Ray Beez from Warzone (he’s in the upper right wearing a racoon skin cap) that night calling my dad Mr. Drummond. To his face. So, it was a bit weird.
But I really connected with what the scene was all about in my own way and it made sense.