As far as records I loved, first and foremost was SSD – Get It Away. As far as a bands as a whole, it was 7 Seconds. Their records were great, I loved Kevin. When I tried out for YOT I remember they told me I was the new drummer and we’re going to Canada in two days. I was like, “what?!” It was crazy. I’d never really been out of NJ or much further than a car ride away. But here I am, now in YOT, and they said, “we’re playing in Canada with 7 Seconds, so get ready.” I couldn’t believe I was going on tour. I was blown away, it was everything I wanted. So to go play with Kevin Seconds in this band I loved? Crazy. So we get to the first club and it’s my birthday and I still haven’t even seen Kevin and we’re in the back of the club. The show had started and some band is playing and the door opens and Cappo walks in with Kevin Seconds and they are holding a cupcake with a candle in it singing happy birthday to me. I remember watching this and in my mind and I was like, “wow, Kevin Seconds is singing happy birthday to me.” I was so floored and trying to contain myself, I just wanted to tell somebody. Kevin was awesome.
See…I knew I was not a nice guy. But in my mind, I had it worked out that I knew why I wasn’t nice and I always told myself I was justified in why I was not a tolerant guy. A lot of the bands I liked fed into and fueled that side of me. But 7 Seconds made me wish I could be that positive, and be like him. I wish I could feel the way he feels…and mean it. Because he really does care and he really means what he says. I was like, “I wonder what it feels like to give that much of a fuck.” Because I spent three quarters of my life not giving a fuck…because nobody gave a fuck about me. What is it like to feel like that and have those thoughts? Because when I would write a song I never wrote a few lines at a time and put it away and come back to it later. When I wrote a song it was like I had a terrible headache and once I started writing the idea down it comes out of me like I’m being sick…and then the song is done. It’s not a good feeling. But when I’m done with the song, I love it. It would be weird if that feeling was a good feeling, you know, like…what if I had a really nice message, and I feel really good about it, and I’ll write it down, and then, when everyone listens to it, they’ll feel really good too??? It is such a nice, pleasant idea. I never had that because I was just a ball full of hate all the time. That whole first Judge record is one big ball of hate. I wrote most of it in a junk yard in Florida being miserable. I didn’t even like the people I was with at that time. I felt castrated and miserable. I couldn’t wait to come home and just hatch this thing I had in my mind. I couldn’t wait to fucking cut that loose. I was so angry.
Negative Approach and John Brannon fed into that dark feeling I had. I loved them from the moment we got the Process Of Elimination record. Because even though that song was so short, that picture of Brannon told me what I needed to know. I loved the Necros. Before Cro-Mags, there was Mode Of Ignorance. They were a fucking great band and one of my favorite NY bands. Those bands were angry. But bands in that 7 Seconds attitude, nobody else came close to 7 Seconds. And yet the same things that made me love 7 Seconds and Kevin sort of rubbed me the wrong way with Cappo. Because they were a lot alike with similar personalities, but it bothered me being in YOT with him at the time.
Any New York band, I loved. I was just in love with NYHC. There were lines being drawn early on. Boston said their bands were the best…heavier…harder. If there was ever a mixture of the bands, I was for NY. I loved Reagan Youth. I loved Kraut. As good as Adjustment To Society sounded, they sounded better live. They were professionals. The Abused were intense. Antidote were intense. At first in NY it was real cliquey. That NY Crew was tough to crack, especially being from NJ. John Watson, Vinnie, Jimmy Kontra…those guys were friendly, but being from NJ, not everyone welcomed you. Vinnie would always lend a hand or let you crash at his spot. But initially, there were guys that were standoffish. There was some fashion criticisms going on. “Who are the NJ guys wearing sneakers? Why do they have their jeans rolled up?”
It wasn’t until I met guys from Queens coming in that I had a connection. Those guys were friendlier and we got along really well and I think it had something to do with them being sort of a suburb and both of us being sort of on the outside. This guy Ken Wagner from Queens was one of the original Queens guys down with Major Conflict and Urban Waste and Reagan Youth. That initial Astoria Crew were cool, that original Gilligan’s Revenge crew. We hung out, talked on the phone, met at gigs, supported their bands. Reagan Youth had their own crew from Rego Park. It was like after banging heads in clubs for a while, we became a united crew and a part of the actual NY Crew. John Watson saw that. He saw our support and we got accepted into that real NY Crew. New Jersey people got mad at us. Sand In The Face got mad and would cross out the “Y” and make a “J.” Not so much Adrenalin OD, but the people around them would call us posers because they thought we were trying to keep where we were from hidden. I told everyone I was form NJ. Cause For Alarm were from NJ when they first started. It seemed like we were really trying to be a part of the NY scene and when we stopped catching hell in NY for being for NJ, we started catching hell from NJ people for us being so into NY. The WFMU crowd was rough on us, and we got no gigs in NJ at the small places. City Gardens doesn’t count, but places like the Pipeline told us, “look…you wanna be from NY? Then go play NY.”
There were a lot of great bands back then. Stetz was a great band. I just listened to that demo again. It’s so fuckin’ good and ahead of it’s time. There were a lot of great NJ bands. AOD were really fuckin’ good. I remember running into them on a Judge tour, in like Phoenix or something. We had already played all the way out to the west coast and were on our way back and when I walked into the club AOD was on the bill. I was like, “man that’s cool, I really like them and haven’t seen them in a shitload of years.” So I had all these battle scars from the gigs we had played on that tour so far, and when we met up with those dudes to soundcheck the guy from the club asked if we wanted to soundcheck and we were like, “Nah,” – because we had been through the mill and playing so much. AOD looks at us and can tell we’ve been on the road into all sorts of shit, and they were like, “uhhh, what the hell happened to you guys?” And we were like, “well…shit…Judge tour.” They realized we had been dealing with some tough crowds and all sorts of people showing up to instigate shit. They said, “will it be bad here tonight?” We were like, “umm, yeah…probably.” The club guy right then was like, “yeah, so and so local gang have been calling. They are only gonna come here to fuck with you if you are here.”
As far as moshers back then in the early eighties and who could dance…number one was Watson. Man I don’t know dude, there should be a way to film that so people could learn how to do it. He looked fucking cool. There was also Diego, who played in AF when Watson was signing. That dude was like a hard, hard dancer. Eric Casanova, he danced really good. Carl Mosh was really good. All I did was stand in the middle and wait for shit to hit me. I just let the music hit me. If it was a great band like the Abused, then man…forget it. Early on there were some hold-outs still doing this pogo deal, they were quickly washed away. It was all way too violent. That circle thing happened for a while, and then John Watson was one of the first guys to not go in a circle. He’d do this thing like right in his own space. Especially if it was like the Bad Brains, it just matched the music and looked cool. It was total style. At the time, I thought it was violent. I had my nose broken by Jimmy Gestapo.
Whatever is going on now on the dancefloor and in the pit, I don’t understand it. It looks rough. I don’t understand how people aren’t being taken out on stretchers. It’s not like it was. There was a big chunk of time I missed in NYHC when I was gone after Judge. I don’t know what’s going on now but it looks like karate out there. I don’t know what happened in that time when I was gone. I’ve been told about something called “beat down” as a genre of music or dancing. I don’t know what that is. I know what a “beat down” is…but whatever this is, I don’t know. That type of violence was what ruined Judge the first time.
In the beginning in NY, there was a fight at every show. By the time I got into YOT, the fighting was crazier and crazier. From like ’82 on, certain people were getting older and bigger and stronger, and the fighting was getting worse. There were incidents that made me be like, “woah…fuck. I wish I didn’t see that.” I’m not saying names. There were things I saw that I’m not going to talk about. New York was a scary place. In the beginning it wasn’t fights amongst each other, it was fights in the neighborhoods where the shows were. DBD played this place called the Sin Club on Avenue C and I was standing there and these two girls were lined up at the bathroom. This one girl Polly who was at all the shows was waiting for the bathroom and this Puerto Rican girl who wasn’t a part of the NY scene at all started this fake thing where she said Polly was banging on the bathroom door. Out of nowhere, she stabs Polly right in the stomach. It was absurd, nothing had been going on. So she stabs her and takes off. The ambulance shows up and takes Polly away. All of us are out front and these neighborhood people start coming around us and one guy starts saying, “yo who stabbed my sister?” He had no relation to Polly and was just using that line to start trouble. All of a sudden he pulls out a gun. I was with Harley and we run into the club, diving over tables and taking cover as this guy is actually opening fire on us. We got the fuck out of there. At first in these neighborhoods, the only white people were punk rockers. Nobody went on the other side of the park past Avenue C. Eventually gentrification pushed things down. Later, Avenue A had nice parts with people eating dinner on sidewalks where I used to see broken heads. So we started fighting each other as cliques popped up. Even with us, it got to a point where if YOT was playing you knew who was coming in and who was staying outside. We were guilty of it too because if it was a band we didn’t want to hear, we stayed outside. We spent years preaching to the choir.
There were some bad fights. I was in some dust ups. Dead Kennedys played Staten Island and we had never been there. We wanted to go to the show with everyone from the scene. So instead of going straight from NJ, we go to NY first and take the ferry over. We could tell shit wasn’t right because once we get there and start walking to the club people were coming out of bars and yelling shit at us. By the time we get to the club the whole town was out for us. The gig turned into a riot, and we have to run down the street to get back to the ferry and the bars empty with people trying to kill us. They were out for us because we weren’t wanted there. There was all sorts of shit there.
There’s still grudges from back then. Pool balls in socks on the dance floor…I’ve seen that. There was Boston shit. At Great Gildersleeve’s, Rosemary’s Baby played and there were a lot of Boston people there. Alex from Cause For Alarm’s girlfriend Kim was on Alex’s shoulders. She had a shaved head. Supposedly this Boston dude didn’t know it was a girl and he grabbed her and pulled her right down to the floor on her back. People went crazy and wanted to kill each other. It wasn’t SSD guys. I don’t think they were in any bands. They all had floppy fishing hats on, acting crazy.
“Boston Came Around One Night” – that wasn’t a specific action, which is what Choke and those guys thought. I was summarizing things in that line. There was a rivalry. It went back and forth. Although I wasn’t there, I was told of Jimmy Gestapo fighting Dicky Barrett. But I was a fan of all those bands. When Choke was so mad at me for whatever he thought I said in Judge, it bummed me out. Last Rights was like my favorite band. I wanted to sing like him, I thought he was great. His vocals on that record were everything I wanted to do. When I wrote the New York Crew record I had all these words in me. All I did was sit in Porcell’s apartment in Brooklyn with the Last Rights record, SSD, and Negative Approach…listening over and over, psyching myself up to piss people off, just by mixing those three bands to come up with what those three guys would sound like if they had one voice. That’s what was in my mind. So it really bummed me out when Choke wanted to throw down with me because he thought I called him out. That song was supposed to just be a retrospective on everything. When I first wrote it the words were different and there were other specific instances included. Porcell said, “look…you can’t say this shit. You can’t say this, some of this stuff is detailing crimes. You can’t cop to this stuff.” Why? Because people got hurt. There were summertime nights in the early eighties of NY, and a lot of fun things happened. But man…things could be heavy. So Porcell talked me out of it. Looking back he was totally right. At the time I didn’t think anybody would hear it. I figured I’d record this and the only people that would have it would be Porcell, Al Brown, and me. The way it caught on took my by surprise. Then it dawned on me: “Now I have to go up and sing?”