I learned how to play guitar by the time we were writing the music for Bringin’ It Down. Chung King was a disaster. We ended up at Normandy Sound. We weren’t trying to be metal, but we made a conscious effort to play a little slower and really find a groove. We didn’t like how that Chung King recording turned out. I don’t hear the metal in the Bringin’ It Down record like people talk about. I guess the intro of “Like You” has a little bit of that. I don’t think I wrote a complete song on that record, I just wrote parts. Porcell would finish everything off. It had a feel I suppose, but I just never thought it was metal.
There were a few differences in things from the Chung King recording to the recording of Bringin’ It Down. Like, Porcell told me not to sing the “stay off the tracks” line at the end of the song “Bringin’ It Down.” He thought it was corny. But I sing that line when we do the song now. I like it.
When Jimmy left, we were in a pinch. Matt came into the band through Sammy and had little time to get up to speed. We were about to go to Normandy Sound. We needed a bass player and he was good, he could play really well. He was young, like Sammy’s age, and I didn’t know him. But nothing ever really bothered me about Matt. Once we got on tour he started smoking cigarettes, which annoyed the fuckin’ shit out of me. One time on tour we stopped somewhere so the other dudes could go in a river. We were always stopping for that sort of thing. So we stop and Matt and I stayed at the van while the other dudes went swimming and I was laying in the loft. Matt couldn’t go in the river because he had a fucked up toe. He got out of the van to smoke a cigarette with the van door’s open. He was smoking it right next to the open door…it was like he was going out of his way for me to know he was smoking. I never said anything mean to Matt, because I loved him. But that time, I had to say, “Matt you are fucking poking at a tiger right now, and I will tear you apart if you blow smoke in this van one more time.” As far as someone even smoking in Judge…see, I wrote all those lyrics. I couldn’t expect those guys to come close to even knowing what I was talking about. Those weren’t their lyrics and that was fine. Like, Sammy and Matt are so far from how I grew up it’s not even funny. Sammy had a freaking elevator in his house in the city. I had a wood burning stove on a farm. But that’s fine. I got along with those dudes, I love them. They were my vehicle in Judge and that wasn’t lost on me.
That first Judge tour (summer ’89) was tough because of how many rumors had gone around. Every town had a guy who wanted to prove that I wasn’t all that tough. We would show up and all these exaggerated, blown-out-of-proportion-stories had already beat us to that town based on stuff that happened in the last town we had played. When we got to California, these dudes wanted us to come out and fight these racists at a Klan rally. We were staying at Mike Madrid’s house and I answered the phone. This dude starts telling me, not knowing it’s me, that they need Judge to come out and fight these dudes for them. Like, he really thought we were gonna come in there and just fight people left and right for whatever cause. I’m thinking, “what are we, fucking Navy Seals?” The rumors were insane. We would show up somewhere and we’d ask the local kids what they had heard, and then I’d be listening in on these “Mike Judge stories.” There was all sorts of stupid shit. A good one was that I lived in Germany because I had killed a cop, and I rode around on a motorcycle in Germany with his head on my handlebars. Just far fetched ridiculous shit. But people said this stuff and believed it, or at least wondered about it.
We had met the Integrity guys when I was in YOT. We hit it off, especially with Chubby Fresh. Then we went out to Cleveland in Judge and those dudes love us. Dwid really loved us. After that, Dwid sent me a demo tape of his band Integrity. They had crossed baseball bats and “hard edge” written with their name, and I’m like “ohhh man, this is all my fault.” Then Bringin’ It Down comes out and not long after that Dwid is convinced that I’m a pussy and I sold out and all this shit. Every interview he did in a fanzine was the same thing with him talking all this shit. We left on tour and got out to Cleveland and when we pull into town Chubby Fresh runs up and he’s like ”hey what’s up man!” He goes off with the other guys in the band. I tell Todd, “go find Dwid and bring him to the van.” Todd comes back with Dwid and Dwid is like, “hey Mike what’s up man, how’s it going?! I love the new record bro!” I’m like, “come on into the van, man.” So I handed him all the fanzines where he said shit about me. Me and Todd made him read all of the interviews to me out loud. All the parts where he said I was a sell out and a faggot and a pussy…I made him read it right to me. He was like, “awww man you know how it is! They always misquote me!” Todd and I were just laughing. I wasn’t gonna kick his ass or anything. It was more fun to watch him read those parts and try to explain it.
The dynamic on the road changed with Todd there. I could relax and enjoy it because I wasn’t watching my back anymore. On that first tour, I wouldn’t even see the guy coming. I’d get suckered by somebody. It happened a few times, but it was stressful because every show had a guy trying to intimidate me, and you never knew when something was gonna go down. People wanted to knock off the “hard” New York guy. It was never the big cities. It was the little towns. We were on the road, we’re not making any money, ten people are showing up at the gig and five of them are there to show off to their girlfriends and intimidate me. Like, come on. After that, I told those dudes in the band, ”I am picking someone to come on the road with us next time.” For the other guys in the band, they had a great old time. It was no worry to them.
(We asked Mike if he had any issue with Lars coming into the band given the fact that Lars played in Uppercut, who notoriously wrote the song “Am I Clear?” and obviously took a different stance regarding SE as a band than Judge ever did. Mike said he had never even heard Uppercut, didn’t know anything about the song, and that Lars worked out fine.)>
Ryan Hoffman from Chain Of Strength had been out on the east coast, I guess before Lars, and he played a show or two with us on second guitar. I don’t remember the circumstances but in YOT we had stayed at his house for weeks out in California. His family put us up, was really good to us, and we hung a lot. I don’t know what the deal was with him playing in Judge but I think he moved back west. He’s a really good guy.
With the “Where It Went” video shoot, I remember wondering, “are you sure we should be doing a video? Will anybody show up? City Gardens is a big place and we’ll look really foolish if nobody shows.” I remember being stoked because it was totally packed. We kept having to do the song over and over for the video and I was nervous because the crowd might not be digging that. The worst part was that we had to lip synch and act like we were doing the song. It was our buddy Eric doing the video. He was in film school and we had the idea to do the video, but he could do it cheap. There was no talk about what it would be like. We just hoped the crowd would go off for us and we could have good live footage in the video. Man, the City Gardens crowd went off for us that night. That was a great time and a great club.
Once Todd was in as our roadie, it was fun. On one tour we were headed home and stopped in the Rocky Mountains because it looked so cool. There was this Indian chick selling trinkets and shit on the side of the road. We hit it off with her and she gives us this thing to “bless our van for good travels.” It was this bag of green shit that she tells us we are supposed to put on the muffler and it would smoke and bless the van. I’m like “uhhhh…thank you?” So I just put it in my bag. Then we get to Texas and are pulled over. I’m in the front passenger seat and there were two or three cops. They had chewing tobacco, bad southern hick accents, total typical Dukes of Hazzard shit. They are saying, “why loookee here, they’re from New York! They’re from New York!” They ask us all to get out of the van. They say “we’re gonna look in the van.” They started going through my bag and I’m not even thinking about it, but they find this baggie of green shit. He thought he hit the jackpot. The one cop is like “oh my god! Look at this! Whataya we got here yankee boys?!” Porcell whispers to me, “what’s that?!” I’m like, “Oh shit…that Indian chick.” So the hick cop wants to know what it is and where I got it, and I say, “Look…you’re not going to believe this. Soooo, we met this Indian chick…by the side of the road…near the Rocky Mountains…and she said if I put this on our tailpipe, it would smoke and bless our van.” The dude was not fucking laughing at all. He steps towards me and says, “boy…did you say, Indian, on the ride of the road, near the rocky mountains? Boy, listen here. Just tell me where the goddamn drugs are.”
So they start walking around. They see an anti-klan sticker on the van and they start saying, “ohhh why look at this! These yankee boys are a bunch of nigger lovers!” Now they’re looking at me. They say, “so what’s it like in New York? Ever have a nigger chick?” I’m like, uhhhh…I don’t know what to say. I’m just disgusted. He spits out chewing tobacco on my Vans. It was like a bad movie. They start this thing with each other then. ”Hey Roy, ever have a nigger?” ”Naw I never had no nigger. What about you Bob, you ever have a nigger?” ”Naw, I never had no nigger.”
(Todd: They find this thing of patchouli oil in one of Porcell’s bags. They say, “oh boy!!! Jackpot!” I jump in and I say, “officer, it’s nothing. It’s patchouli. It’s like cologne.” Porcell is giggling. I’m like, “Porcell, dude…stop giggling. We’re about to get ass fucked RIGHT NOW.” The cop looks at us and says, “if I smell that, and I get fucked up, ya’ll are gonna die.” So he smells it and he says, “GODDAMNIT BOY! You smell like a mothball!!!” Then the other cop says “does this shit get you laid in New York?”)
There are a thousand of these stories…