I would have done anything to be in a band. If I had to learn to play drums, fine. So playing drums in DBD was no problem. I wanted to do it that bad, just be in a band. If I had to play a triangle, I would have played a fuckin’ triangle. I wanted to feel like I belonged in something. I loved that feeling of something or someone is depending on me and I was coming through. No matter what it took, I’d do it. I wasn’t good at drums but I could keep a beat. I wasn’t uncoordinated. I couldn’t do anything cool but I could play a steady beat…slow/fast/slow/fast. That was all I needed for DBD. That lasted a long time. It wasn’t until the band started doing crazy shit that I couldn’t totally pull it off. I remember the last show before we broke up the first time was at CB’s when everyone was going metal. We did an Iron Maiden cover, I think it was Run To The Hills and there were all these crazy fills and I couldn’t do it and after the set I said “I quit” because I felt like we embarrassed ourselves. At the time, Agnostic was doing it too, they had metal songs. But hardcore felt like it was dying this ugly death. After that, I stopped going to shows completely and was totally heartbroken. I thought punk and hardcore died in NY at that time, the style changed so much. That AF record didn’t sound hardcore anymore, it was just changing and everyone was doing it. I remember JFA had come out here and we played a show with them and their drummer told us they were doing this metal band at home. It was like, man, all this stuff that saved my life is dying. I thought that what DBD did at CB’s at that last show was a part of it and I was mad at myself for not seeing what we were doing, until it was too late. So I went home and hid out and didn’t go see anybody. I dropped out totally.
Mark Ryan called me one night and he’s like, “dude I need to go see this band play and I need a ride.” I’m like, “dude I’m not going to any show.” And he’s like, “please man you’ll love this band.” I said, “where?” He tells me Philly and I tell him there’s no way I’m going all the way out there. He’s begging me, like, “dude these guys are incredible, they are a hardcore band playing hardcore the way it is supposed to be played, the way we started playing it and they are gonna spark it all back up inside you. They are called Youth Of Today.” So I say ok fine, whatever man. I had never heard of Youth Of Today but he’s telling me on the way they are from CT, they are really cool guys, they play old time hardcore and they are trying to move to NY and if they do they will bring hardcore back, and there’s this other band of younger dudes named Crippled Youth.
So we get there and I meet Cappo and he was dressed the way we were dressed at the end – hooded sweatshirt, Nike Airs, rolled up jeans. That’s how we dressed before we stopped playing and before shit changed. The first thing I saw was that and I’m thinking “wow that’s weird…he’s a Connecticut dude dressing like how we had been dressing in New York a few years ago.” It was weird. We had picked up on that look from Boston. I actually have a cool little story about this, it’s like my little story. When I was a freshman in high school and still wasn’t down with everybody or with the punk rockers in school, Pete Karlen, who played bass in Sand In The Face, was my closest friend. We were tight. He was like the first guy besides Howard I was close with. This guy was my age, were were influenced by these older punk rock guys but we were at the same stage in our lives. We would listen to records and go over to each other’s house. This one time his mom had to go to Boston for work and he said, “do you wanna go with me? We can go record shopping.” So I decide to go. We get up there and his Mom drops us off at Newbury Comics. In New York record stores looked the same, like Bleeker Bob’s with flyers everywhere and shit. This place though was clean and very well organized and nice. I remember walking in and there was this huge step ladder and this kid sitting on it with a shaved head, Hobie shirt, jeans rolled up, and Adidas high tops. We go to the punk section and this kid goes, “that record just came out and has some good Boston bands on it.” It was the Unsafe At Any Speed record. And he says, “check that record out too, it’s been out a while but it has good Boston bands on it.” That was the “This Is Boston” record. And he points out another record and says “that’s my band’s record.” It was DYS Brotherhood. It was Jon Anastas sitting there. I didn’t know that at the time, he was just a kid. So I buy that record too and we are sitting in the car just studying it. I would always just study the shit out of records and look at everything. So I’m looking at the back of this and I was just like, “wow that guy that sold us the record is THAT guy.”
Right when I got home I went to the mall and bought those Adidas high-tops. Everyone had Nike Airs because Al SSD had them on but I had the Adidas because I was just tripped out that the guy that sold us the record was in DYS. We started wearing hoodies because there was a point where the guys from the metal band Anthrax would come to matinees every weekend and go on the dance floor. They would just act stupid. They had no class. It just drove me fucking nuts. It was bothering me. So I came up with this thing. I called it “Dance Floor Justice.” When these guys would go out and do this stupid shit and throw punches because they thought that’s what we were doing…I would go and I would hurt them. I’d be wearing the hoodie and fuckin’ pull it over my hood and tie it down so they couldn’t tell who hit them. So we all started wearing them. At first we bought these cheap blue hoodies at Port Authority for like $10 that said “USA” and were these totally stupid tourist things. We wrote “Dance Floor Justice” on the back and fuckin’ pulled the hoods over tight and we went out on the dance floor and stopped that shit. That was the dance floor justice.
So when I’m talking to Cappo that first time meeting him, I was like look at this guy… it’s so weird because he dressed like us. It came full circle. Youth Of Today was everything Mark said it would be. It was like hardcore the way I fell in love with it. Cappo and Porcell told me they were moving to the city. Porcell said, “I remember you. You used to come up to the old Anthrax with the Abused.” I couldn’t remember that specifically but the Abused were like my favorite band so whenever they played, I’d go see them. It was just this weird thing with those guys because they said they remembered me and then when they did come to NY our relationship just got tighter and tighter. It was weird because I didn’t think anything would bring me back and make me love hardcore the way I did. But they did. I still love Can’t Close My Eyes and Break Down The Walls.
I had known about straight edge pretty early because I had the Minor Threat records and I heard stories about the Xs on the hands. As far as Minor Threat…man, I’ve even had people yell at me about this, but I never liked Minor Threat. It’s not that I hate them, I think some songs are great. I think “In My Eyes” is a great song. But a lot of their songs bore the shit out of me. When I saw Minor Threat, I thought MacKaye was a dick the way he talked to people. I never dug it back then. It wasn’t until I sat down and cracked the Get It Away record that straight edge totally hit me. That SSD record was monstrous. That fucking sound with the guitars…it was incredible. I really loved The Kids Will Have Their Say. But it was a nice polished tight record. Get It Away was big and crazy and just heavy…it gave me shivers. That record was the shit. All the times I saw SSD, the “kill the man with a beer in his hand” show at Irving, the AF road trip…SSD was just so mighty. They made everybody else on the bill sound like a little punk rock band playing in a bedroom. SSD were this wall of fucking sound with a crazy singer with a wild voice. Those guys made me feel like saying “I’m Straight Edge.” I still wasn’t putting X’s on my hands, but I would tell people that I was straight edge. If someone said let’s have a beer I’d say, “no, I’m straight edge.”
But it really wasn’t until Johnny Stiff told Cappo that NYC will never go for straight edge that I started really wearing an X at any time. I did it just to say “well it looks like there’s straight edge in New York now, doesn’t it?”