MIKE JUDGE – PART V
September 17th, 2013 by Tim
MIKE AND JIMMY WITH JUDGE AT THE ANTHRAX | PHOTO: ERIC BLOMQUIST
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.
JOHN BRANNON AND THE MIGHTY NEGATIVE APPROACH AT THE FREEZER, 1982 | PHOTO: UNKNOWN
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.”
ADRENALIN O.D. | PHOTO: UNKNOWN
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?”
MIKE JUDGE – PART II
August 29th, 2013 by Tim
MIKE AND JIMMY WITH JUDGE AT CBGB | PHOTO: JEFF LADD
Here it is, part two of our all-encompassing interview with Mike Judge. We’re hoping to post at least two entries a week from this interview, so stay tuned and keep checking back often. -Tim DCXX
So in my freshman year I’m in the lunch room and there was a table of punks. Loud, crazy, obnoxious. They don’t give a fuck, they are throwing shit, people are making fun of them but they don’t even care that people are making fun of them so they start throwing shit right back at them. Here I am, and I am scared of my own shadow. I’m a total wallflower hating myself and I’m just like, “how can I be like THOSE guys? Because they don’t give a fuck.” Any chance I could get I went out of my to run into them. Eventually I got to meet them. Paul Schraft was one of the first ones I met. I remember talking to him and he’s like, “I have my own band.” I’m like, “what?” He says, “yeah, I have a band called Sand In The Face.” I’m like, “you’re a kid, you don’t have a fuckin’ band.” He was like, “dude, come over to my house. We’re gonna practice on Friday night.” So now I’m stoked because I’m gonna tell my dad I actually have something to do on a Friday night for once in my life. Like, shit, things are looking up.
So after school that day I’m walking home and I see Howard and he’s like, “what are you doing?” I’m just walking home and he says to walk with him because his house was by mine. He’s like, “come on in and we’ll listen to music.” Well that’s all I did anyway so that sounded great, I can actually listen to music with somebody. So he puts on music…these bands called Suicide, Television, Blondie, Devo…I’m like, “is this punk rock?” He says, “yeah new wave, punk rock…but do you wanna hear punk?” He puts on Never Mind The Bollocks. I’m like, “WOW.” It doesn’t sound as good as a band like Creedence in terms of the quality and recording, but it sounded awesome and powerful. It sounded like it was saying “FUCK YOU.” And I wanted to be the guy saying “FUCK YOU.”
So I go home and I have to talk to my brother immediately because even though he’s a dick, he has a car. So I say, “listen I need you to take me to this record store to buy this record I heard. He’s like, “what record?” I tell him “Sex Pistols.” He’s like “what the fuck is that, punk shit?” I’m like, “yeah punk rock.” He’s like, “you’re not gonna go buy that punk shit. You’re not gonna go listen to that faggot shit.” Just total hillbilly attitude, he had this whole “not in my family” thing. I’m like, “dude…just take me.” So we go a few towns over to Wayne to this record store called Looney Tunes. I spent all the money I had. They didn’t have Never Mind The Bollocks but they had Flogging A Dead Horse, London Calling and some others. I took those home and listened to them in my brother’s room because he had record player. And he’s saying “what the fuck…that shit sucks”…which makes me like it even more. I wore those records out, especially London Calling. I listened to London Calling so many times…and was just obsessed with it. If there was ever an opportunity in school to do anything where I could bring up that record, I would. It was major.
So Paul Schraft knows I bought these records and am listening to this stuff and he says “Oh you like that? Man, listen to this.” And he lets me borrow Jealous Again. So I take that home and that was just like…man…that was IT. When I listened to the Sex Pistols, they were a group of guys that gave off a feeling of “FUCK YOU.” But now I have a band who is flat out saying: FUCK YOU. Like, “Look, maybe you don’t quite get the drift. Maybe we aren’t spelling it out enough for you, OK? FUCK YOU.” It was right there. “It’s not my imagination, I got a gun on my back!!!” Listening to that…man, I don’t even know how to describe it…I felt reborn. It was amazing.
I begged my brother to go back to the record store and I didn’t even wanna fuck around. I told the guy I needed Jealous Again. He’s like, “we don’t have any more copies of that, but their new record is out, you should try it.” He brings me a copy. It was the Damaged record. As soon as I saw the cover…the shaved head and the mirror and everything…man, it changed my life. Right there. I went home and listened and that thing just defined the way I was thinking, the way I was feeling, everything. Especially that second side. There’s never even been a drug that could get me as high as I felt listening to that record. NOW I knew why I was breaking everything. NOW I knew why I wanted to stomp everything in sight. NOW I knew why I would drive past the high school and think to myself that I wanted to just drive the car right into the crowd of jocks. It was all defined right there in that record and in those lyrics. That was it.
Paul Schraft took me to my first show soon after that. It was Misfits and Necros and I thought it was also Kraut, but I’m not sure if it was Kraut because Doug Holland says it wasn’t. That was at Hittsville in New Jersey. A few nights later I went into NYC for the first time and saw the same bands at Irving Plaza. I was fucking hooked man. It was like a big room of people who were kinda just like me. And everyone was talking. I’m thinking “no wonder I couldn’t fucking meet anyone, because none of those guys in school are like these guys.” Now it was easy to meet people…you just show up, AND bands play. I was blown away. All of that was awesome.
Paul Schraft had a girlfriend and she tells me she’s ordering some records. That she was just going to write to Minor Threat, to the guys in the band, and get some records. She asks me if I want anything. I’m like, “what?” She’s like “yeah I just write them, and order their records.” So I told her sure, I guess? It was so weird but awesome. So I’d start to write them. I still have those letters…letters from Jeff Nelson or Burt from Double-O. So I was writing a band directly and getting their records, and they were writing me back! A year ago I was talking to the fucking wall in my room and pretending the wall was talking back to me. Now I’m talking to a guy a couple hundred miles away in a different state…and he knows my name! It was fucking intense. I was hooked.
My next breakthrough moment was a CB’s matinee. That set me on the path that I’ve been on since. Because at that point I love these bands like Black Flag…but I go to CB’s and I see AF with John Watson. It was a Saturday matinee. During AF’s set John Watson says something like how they’re ending the show early because they have to play tonight out of town, there’s cars leaving and we should all go and support them. They were playing in Camden, New Jersey at Buff Hall. So some of these guys I had known that I came with drove, and I definitely wanted to go. So we pile in and we followed out the cars from NYC to Camden…we were going to support AF, like as their crew. It was the Philly BYO doing the show and it was AF, SSD, Minor Threat, and a Philly band. That was the show people talk about because Ian got run over and SSD’s van got into an accident. Al’s wife Nancy put on the show. That was my first out of town show and everyone was there to support THEIR band. It was like going out of town to an away game to support your football team, but without the dumb drunk jock bullshit. It was this network. I wouldn’t have known about it if I hadn’t been at CB’s. After that, I didn’t miss a matinee for a long time…
CRAIG AHEAD – THE FINAL ENTRY
July 1st, 2013 by Tim
CRAIG SETARI WITH SICK OF IT ALL IN SINGAPORE, 2007 | PHOTO: MAGNUS CALEB
So here we are, the final entry to this killer interview with Craig Ahead. It took awhile to get it all posted, but I think in the end, it was well worth the wait. Once again, big thanks to our friend Lenny Zimkus for orchestrating this interview for us and of course, huge thanks to Craig for delivering mind blowing story after mind blowing story. Now without further ado. -Tim DCXX
Tell us about Rest In Pieces.
Agnostic Front played from ’87-’89 and then Roger got incarcerated for 18 months and during that time I played with Rest In Pieces. I was working as a furniture mover and playing with the band. It was a serious band but not one that was going to go on tour – we were more a local band with shows in the area. I would say that we were very professional musician-wise and we took a lot of care and time into the music that we were creating. We had written the record which would become Under My Skin and recorded in Long Island for one day. We thought it sounded like shit and we just left without paying. Then we went to Normandy and it came out really good, except that me and Rob were telling Armand his vocals were out of key and they sound really bad. In typical Armand fashion being headstrong he didn’t listen to us. Then two years later he told me and Rob, how come you didn’t tell me it sounded like that.
How did you end up in Sick Of It All?
After the last AF show in Czechoslovakia I flew home and Armand called me to let me know Richie quit and they want me to go on tour. I couldn’t do it after that AF tour. I was going to stop doing this and go to school to be a chef. I wound up doing the tour with SOIA for 6 weeks with one day off after being in Europe for almost two months with AF. I came home, did my laundry and left. This was the tour after Just Look Around came out. We brought Ezec and Toby with us and it was so much fun, it was like being on tour with AF, but a light hearted version.
After being with those guys for that time I said fuck school I’m in the band. I knew them forever, I helped them out with writing songs or playing so it was a natural fit. So all of ’93 I played with them then we wound up signing to a major label and recorded Scratch The Surface. That was the point where my career really blew up and I felt like we were becoming a worldwide phenomenon- not just the band but hardcore as well. With hardcore I’ve been able to travel the world. I think I’ve pretty much been everywhere that there is a scene, except China, India, and Hawaii - I would really like to go those places.
I wake up and thank God with a smile for the life that I have. I am so grateful to be living the life that I live with the disposition I have to be able to appreciate and understand everything that I do. I have always understood my position and have realized how fortunate I am, and how great my karma is. I say this without being arrogant: I live a great life, all of my dreams have come true. When I think about it I get choked up to this day. I have a farm with amazing views of the mountains which is something that I always wanted. I love my job which is what I always wanted to do – and people respect me, they thank me. I just did what I wanted, I didn’t have a safety net under me and it worked out to be this great thing. How amazing is it?
I was always into boxing as a hobby, and I dedicated myself to it for a year. I went on to be a trainer and I coached guys who went on to win amateur championships and titles. I was the assistant coach under my coach making good money training these guys. This was the ultimate fulfillment of the hobby to reach this peak in something I loved to do. I keep repeating it but I appreciate everything in my life and I am so thankful. Earlier I had mentioned that Hardcore was my life and I have to say it still is. It might not be as tight knit as it was then with going to shows and then hanging out in the park. But for me it’s an adult thing and I’ll be friends with these guys the rest of my life. Back then all I cared about was getting in a van and going to a show and being with my friends - nothing else mattered. And still to this day it’s the main focus of my life. If we have to get on a plane and go to a show that is our main focus…the four of us, there is no stopping us. With Sick Of It All we realize that this is our thing and nothing at all gets in the way, 100% dedicated 100% of the time.
CRAIG, ARMAND, PETE AND LOU OF SICK OF IT ALL
What was the best and worst part of being in Youth Of Today?
The live show was the best. The worst part was the jock hazing they gave me because I was the kid from Queens without the right sneakers.
What was the best and worst part of being in Agnostic Front?
The best was the experience and the wild abandon that any situation was handled with, and the worst was the experience and the wild abandon that any situation was handled with, without a safety net, just taking a chance and seeing what happens.
What was the best and worst part of being in Rest In Pieces?
The best was it was a professional band with my friends and we all completely understood each other as musicians. We were confident that we’re trying to sound as powerful and intense musically as possible. The worst was it was a purely musical thing and we didn’t have the charisma to do what my other bands could do in a live show.
CRAIG WITH SOIA IN SIGAPORE, 2007 | PHOTO: MAGNUS CALEB
What was the best and worst part of being in Straight Ahead?
The best was that it was my baby and I was writing songs in the most natural primitive way I could. Those early days in Hardcore were such a thrill for me. The worst was the instability.
What is the best and worst part of being in Sick Of It All?
The best is these guys are my friends and my brothers since I was younger. It’s my home. The experiences we’ve had, the friends I’ve made all over the world…I really can’t describe it. If you could take my memories and put it on paper it would be like War and Peace of Hardcore. It has totally cultured me about any preconceived notions I’ve had about people. It’s opened my mind, eyes, and soul in this lifetime. I have nothing bad to say about it at all.
I never thought this would be my life but I took a chance and so far it’s worked out. I have no regrets.
CRAIG AHEAD PART VI
June 21st, 2013 by Tim
CRAIG WITH SICK OF IT ALL AT THE COURT TAVERN, NEW BRUNSWICK NJ | PHOTO: KEN SALERNO
Do you remember the first time you saw AF play?
The first time I saw them was at CB’s in 1984 and my memory of them is that Roger had his arm at a 90 degree angle gripping the microphone, the whole show his arm did not move no matter how many people carried him around or how much he got mixed up in the crowd his arm stayed at that angle with the microphone in his face singing. To me they were the quintessential hardcore band with chains around their waists, boots, cut off sleeves, army shorts…Hardcore, straight up hardcore. Later on when I made it into the band, I couldn’t believe I was in AF. I remember calling Armand, Pete and Lou and saying “yo I’m in Agnostic Front!”
It was unbelievable how I rose through the ranks and to be in the number one hardcore band. I had worked my way up playing in all these other bands but it happened so quick that I was playing with them. The band that I worshipped and idolized, the pinnacle of NYHC, something that I aspired to be…I was in the band. The band that made NYHC what it was…when Victim In Pain came out they took NYHC and put a flag and a stamp on it. I was in the band now and I couldn’t believe it.
CRAIG AT THE COURT TAVERN, NEW BRUNSWICK NJ | PHOTO: KEN SALERNO
AF shows were always packed we would do east coast tours, head out to the west coast, and after about a year and a half we went to Europe in 1990. It’s my first time out of the country and Roger gets deported in Switzerland 3 days into the tour because he had a criminal record. We had the roadie sing and I had to teach him all of the lyrics. That was a crazy tour. Afterwards I was sick from stress for 6 months. It was like being in Vietnam and coming back totally shell shocked. It was right around the time that the wall came down in Germany and East Germany was no longer communist. So the guys who booked the tour were these two Italian anarchists. We are sitting in a restaurant eating and we go outside and they are fighting with the cops getting the living shit beat out of them. We go outside and they arrest all of us, they tell us our van is stolen. We don’t know what they are talking about so it turns out the van was stolen a few months ago and it was never taken off some list so here we are driving around in a stolen van and they put me in a cell which just a couple months ago was an East German communist jail. I’m put in a chair facing the wall, one guy puts on a pair of leather gloves and starts punching his hands and he’s laughing in my ear. The other guy is speaking Russian to me punching his hands. Roger is saying “fuck this!” I’m laughing because by that time I’m hardened and I’m saying you’re not going to do shit, you’re all talk. They put each of us in our own cell for probably five hours and they eventually let us go but they stole all of the money we had in our brief case. That tour I made no money – they robbed thousands and thousands of Deutsche Marks from us.
CRAIG WITH SICK OF IT ALL AT WEBSTER HALL, NYC | PHOTO: KEN SALERNO
I had been in this band for years and was put in crazy situations. I was in the middle of knife fights - people getting stabbed right in front of me…this was nothing to me. I slept on rotten squat floors with no ceilings next to junkies shooting up next to me the whole tour. The conditions on that tour were unimaginable, it was like being a homeless person except that you were being given a tour of European junkiedom, it was fucking crazy. At one show the Italian promoters are arguing with the German promoter and they smash a yogurt container against the bar, yogurt goes all over the German guy’s girlfriend and immediately the lights go out. The place is pitch black and they knew what they were doing. I knew the drill from being with these maniacs that we were in trouble. So I get down on the floor with one hand ready to sprint in any direction and the lights come on and five feet from my face everyone in the club has bats, pipes, sticks ready to beat the life out of us and throw us in a ditch and the one guy had a gun. So I yell out “back door! Run!” We’re running away from our van and they chase us about 100 yards and finally stop. We get back to the van and laugh how we almost died. These Italian guys started trouble everywhere. Roger would put me in these situations that I would have to get out of. He would say “Look what I’m going to do to Skully,” which was what they called me.
I would be outside a 7-11 and he would set something up where a group of grown men thought I did something to their car and I would have to deal with these guys wanting to fight me. This was the first time that I was making any money being in a band. I was an 18 year old kid making thousands and thousands of dollars. I would make three grand for ten days of work. But then I would sleep at Vinnie’s house for a week straight, eating sushi everyday until I spent all of my money. Agnostic Front though was great and I really enjoyed it. I was in that band until 1993. AF broke up due to a managerial situation that I won’t go into detail about. It is about the most insane story I could tell you that you wouldn’t believe. Next to me telling you that they had a contact with aliens, it’s about the next most shocking thing.
To be continued…
CRAIG TAKE THE MIC WITH SICK OF IT ALL AT THE COURT TAVERN | PHOTO: KEN SALERNO
CRAIG AHEAD PART V
June 10th, 2013 by Tim
VINNIE AND CRAIG WITH AGNOSTIC FRONT AT CITY GARDENS | PHOTO: KEN SALERNO
We know, we know, it’s been way too long in between entries for this Craig Ahead interview, but we’re finally getting around to it and I promise it’s one hell of an entry to come back with. There’s definitely more of this interview to come as well as more of the on going Lukie Luke interview and the Jason Farrell interview that we recently kicked off. Once again, big thanks to our friend Lenny Zimkus for doing this Craig interview for us and of course, thanks to Craig for being down to answer Lenny’s questions and deliver all these great stories! -Tim DCXX
So Straight Ahead is done and I’m out of Youth Of Today…two weeks go by and I’m just thinking I need to do something. I went to a show and I saw Jimmy G and Todd Youth. I would hang out with Todd all of the time I would sleep over Raybeez’s house and we would roam the streets of the LES. Me and Todd were hanging out all of the time in ’85-’86. Todd was a runaway so he was living on the lower east side with Ray so that was the place to stay. Raybeez was a cool guy, always really nice to me, he was a legendary hardcore figure for sure. Now it’s 1987 and I saw Jimmy downtown while I’m hanging out and he says “we need a bass player, Russ is out and we need you. The one thing is we are going to have a try out because Chuck from Ludichrist wants to play.” It’s a little wierd because there were no try outs, people would just say hey you’re in the band. So we both go and try out and we both kill it because Chuck’s a good player and I can hold my own. It went good I thought.
Agnostic Front records “Liberty and Justice for…” they kicked out their bass player and now they needed someone. Vinnie says “we’re going to get the kid” – and I’m that kid. I wanted to rerecord the bass because I felt I could have made it sound a lot better but once again Roger said there’s no money to do that. Anyway, I go home and as I’m walking up the stairs my mother says, “Vinnie Stigma is on the phone.” So I’m talking to Vinnie and he would always say “Hey kid one day you’re going to be in my band, you jump so high, you play really good.” So he tells me “I just talked to Jimmy and he’s taking the other kid and you’re with me now. I said you would be in my band one day - I told you you’re going to be in Agnostic Front so now you’re with us.”
The first time Mayhem played CB’s Vinnie was piling up singing along to the songs. Afterwards I asked him how he knew the words to the songs and he said he bought the demo. I was friends with him since the first time I played CB’s. I joined Agnostic Front and Chuck got Murphy’s Law and I would like to say that was the first time I auditioned for a band and didn’t get it. And the better man won: the legend Chuck Valle rest in peace.
CRAIG ON STAGE WITH AF, CHAOS IN THE CROWD | PHOTO: KEN SALERNO
Would you say your life was different from the way those guys lived?
My life was completely different from them. I was a boy going into boot camp, and I came out a very disturbed man. They took all of the bad parts of me and cultivated them. I love them, they are my family but they were crazy. We used to do fun crazy, crazy stuff. I was a scared kid and Vinnie took me under his wing and Roger was like “this kid is a pussy.” I was a young little kid. We would go on tour with a pitbull in the van… who does that? Roger would get us into these crazy situations, real dangerous stuff just to see what would happen. He would drive into a place and do something outlandish where everyone in that place would focus on us and want to kill us. Then see if we could survive. The stuff that would happen was so insane and made no sense. Roger would create this chaotic situation just to laugh about it later and see if we could survive it.
Were you into it or did you think these guys are crazy?
Oh no I thought they were crazy and totally insane but I loved this band and these guys are my friends. I was having so much fun but it was so scary in spots. I was walking down the street with Roger and he had a bag of weed which he tossed at the cop telling him hey I have a pound of weed in there. And the cop just said “go ahead get out of here” and gave it back to him. We played a show in Savannah Georgia and we pull up to the club and Vinnie and Roger are like, “oh no it’s Bo.” This guy is blowing stuff up with a 12 gauge pump shotgun, blowing out windows, shooting at people’s feet. A guy would come out of the bar and he would shoot at him, and the guy’s yelling at Bo, “hey you’re drunk again you just shot my foot.” Me and Roger look at each other and decide we have to do something because this guy is crazy. So we go and call the police and we have to get out of this. The cops show up, totally don’t care and tell Bo “we told you no shooting if you’re drinking… put the gun back in your car.” I couldn’t believe it, the cops didn’t tell him to unload it, just put it back.
So we go in the club and the stage is covered in chicken wire, there are two guys at the bar playing russian roulette… it’s like some fucked up southern bar. So we’re about to go on and we’re laughing saying we’re going to die, people are hitting each other with bottles, everyone is bleeding, the cops just come in and say to cut it out, they don’t care. Right as we’re about to play 20 marines come in so we tell them to make a barricade for us which they did, but everyone in the place is going fucking nuts. Bottles thrown against the chicken wire, brawling, gun shots going off. There were probably 60 people there - the 20 marines and 40 hillbillies. Afterwards we’re sitting in the van just laughing saying how crazy that was. I’m thinking these guys are crazy they don’t care, they will light a fire just to see how much it will burn and they will be in it.
CRAIG AND ROGER WITH AF AT CITY GARDENS | PHOTO: KEN SALERNO
There are hundreds of stories from my time with them. I went in a boy and came out a man… a very sick man. It was a lot of fun, there is stuff that Roger would do in front of people for 20 bucks and I won’t go into detail, he would do it just to see people’s reaction. We tried to buy a blue goat in Pennsylvania one time to bring on tour with us. We would bring the goat on tour and just give it to a farm out west when it was over. We weren’t going to hurt it, but the guy would not sell it to us. He said we were satanic. Like I said we used to take pitbulls on tour.
We would get invited to parties down south on our day off. So we thought great we’ll go hang out and party. It turns out it was a KKK rally - full on robes and burning crosses. They would say “oh you’re Agnostic Front you’re nazis, come on party with us.” There were hundreds of them, we would hang out for 10 minutes eat some potato salad and be like “we got to go, we have to drive to the next town.” They’d respond, “but you said you had the whole day off.” “No no we have to go.” That would happen more than once. You would stay at somebody’s house and get shot at, I’d be like “who is this???” And they would say “oh don’t worry it’s just someone we know, he’s a Hell’s Angel.” You never knew what you were getting into. Vinnie would say Roger’s an asshole he causes trouble, and Roger would laugh, saying “Watch…I’m going to get to Vinnie today.
CRAIG AHEAD WITH AGNOSTIC FRONT AT CITY GARDENS | PHOTO: KEN SALERNO
AT DAWN THEY SLEEP
May 5th, 2013 by Tim
JEFF HANNEMAN OF SLAYER, 1985, WITH AN AGNOSTIC FRONT “SKINHEAD” SHIRT | PHOTO: UNKNOWN
THE AUCTIONS OF GORILLA BISCUITS DRUMMER, LUKE ABBEY
February 4th, 2013 by Tim
GB 7″ LABEL PHOTO OF LUKIE LUKE
Every once in awhile, we here at DCXX are given the opportunity to shed some extra light on situations that we consider worthy. When Gorilla Biscuits drummer, Luke Abbey, reached out to us looking for a little assistance on selling some records, we were more than happy to help. Aside from the fact that Luke’s been dealing with a pretty significant injury and could use the extra money, we knew some of our readers would be more than interested in what Luke has to offer.
In addition to helping Luke with his auctions, we also managed to coordinate an interview with him. Expect in the very near future, a major interview with the guy that delivered the beats for bands like Warzone, Gorilla Biscuits and a handful of other legendary New York City Hardcore bands. I think it’s safe to say, we have high hopes for this one.
Now check out what Luke has to say regarding his auctions. –Tim DCXX
My name is Luke Abbey and I’m the drummer for the band Gorilla Biscuits. Recently, while we were playing in Chicago at the Revelation Records 25th anniversary show, I tore my biceps tendon. I’d already had a number of shoulder and arm injuries I’d been trying to manage on my own, but during our second song it finally gave out and completely snapped, forcing me to go in for surgery the following week. I underwent several repairs and am now embarking on a lengthy rehabilitation process while also facing considerable expenses.
A few days ago, I contacted Tim from Double Cross to ask if he would mind allowing me to post a collection of my own personal records and a few t-shirts on the Livewire message board in order to deal with my current and ensuing medical costs. He not only agreed to that, but was gracious enough to offer to run a full post on Double Cross in order to bring increased attention to my sale.
I’ve included absolutely every record I hope to sell – if it’s not listed, I don’t have it. All are in good playing condition and contain whatever lyric sheets were originally included – except where noted. They are all 1st pressings with a few exceptions which I’ve noted as well. The only drawback to any of these as far as I can tell, is that many of the jackets are distressed to some degree. That being said, nothing is in terrible condition, torn, or severely flawed. They’ve just got a bit of character. As for the t-shirts, they’ve been worn before but are neither torn nor altered, and are in wearable condition.
Here is the link to the ebay pages where the auctions can be found. If anyone has any additional questions or would like additional photos, I’ll do my best to oblige.
My seller name is yebba72.
Additionally, I will respond to as many questions or requests as possible at the following email:
However, as I mentioned above, please respect the fact that I’ve nothing further to sell than what’s listed, nor am I interested in any trades.
Auction Schedules and Photos
The shirt auctions will begin 7:00 – 7:30 PST on 2/5
The record auctions will begin 8:00 – 8:30 PST on 2/5
The shirt auctions will end between 2:00 PM – 3:45 PM PST on 2/13
The record auctions will end between 2:00 PM – 3:45 PM PST on 2/13
Here is the list, all first pressings except where noted:
Last Rights: Chunks / So Ends Our Night – Taang
Youth of Today: Can’t Close My Eyes – Positive Force – White Lettering – 2nd pressing
Judge: NY Crew – Schism
Warzone: Lower East Side Crew – Revelation Records
NYHC: “Together” Compilation – Revelation Records
Crippled Youth: Join the Fight – New Beginning
Underdog: S/T – New Beginning
Side By Side: You’re Only Young Once… – Revelation Records
Slapshot: Same Mistake / Might Makes Right – Taang – Blue Vinyl
Unity: You Are One – Wishingwell Records – not sure what pressing
Alone In A Crowd: S/T – Flux Records – *Vinyl edge has a very slight upturn but does not affect playing at all*
7 Seconds: Blasts from the Past – Positive Force – Green Vinyl – not sure what pressing
Justice League: Think or Sink – Just 4 Fun Records
The Abused: Loud and Clear – Abused Music – *Missing lyric sheet and the cover has come unglued*
Civ: Et Tu Brute / Can’t Wait One Minute More – Revelation Records – White Vinyl
Quicksand: Dine Alone / Can Opener – Polydor Records – Promotional
Judge: Bringing It Down – Revelation Records – Green Marble Vinyl
Stalag 13: In Control – Upstart Records
Straight Ahead: S/T – I Risk
Rest In Pieces: My Rage – One Step Ahead
Youth of Today: BDTW – Wishingwell Records
Uniform Choice: Screaming For Change – Wishingwell Records – Yellow Lettering
Slap Shot: Back On the Map – Taang
Insted: Bonds of Friendship – Wishingwell Records
No For An Answer: A Thought Crusade – Hawker Records
NYHC Where the Wild Things Are: compilation – Blackout Records
Agnostic Front: Cause For Alarm – Combat Core
DYS: S/T – Modern Method Records – Promotional
Agression: Don’t Be Mistaken -BYO
Verbal Assault: Learn – Positive Force – *Missing Poster*
Quicksand: Manic Compression – Rev/Island
Dag Nasty: Can I Say – Dischord
Fair Warning: You Are the Scene – Fair Warning Records
Into Another: S/T – Revelation Records
Mike Judge and Old Smoke: Sights – Revelation Records
Uniform Choice: “Straight and Alert” / 4-sided / Wishingwell / White T w/ Blue and Red Print / Size L – slightly worn condition
Judge: “New York Crew” / 2-sided /Blue T w/ Yellow Schism logo on front pocket / White “Hammers” on back / Size L – good condition
Insted: “Chet” design / 2-sided / Blue T w/ White Insted logo on front pocket / White “Chet” design on back / Size L – good condition
Bad Trip: ? design / 2 sided / White T with Black logo and guy with beer on front pocket / Black drawing of crowd on back / Size L – good condition w/ light stain on front
So thanks to all of you who decide to bid on any of these records or t-shirts and lend some support in the process. And of course, my gratitude goes to Tim who has helped me out beyond measure.
Take care all,
CRAIG AHEAD PART II
October 25th, 2012 by Tim
CRAIG WITH AF AT CITY GARDENS | PHOTO: KEN SALERNO
Are there any shows that stick out in your mind?
There are thousands of shows where wild things happened and ones that were just glorious. In the early 80s when I started playing, all the shows seemed like a big event. Maybe that is just my perspective but I remember crowds in ’86 when hardcore grew and I had been playing for a couple of years and the pile ups were just insane. The entire crowd would sing along and participate, it was just amazing. I loved it. Every single show that was happening, I was there. It was all I cared about, my entire life was going to see bands play and to play shows. I was part of the New York Hardcore family, that’s what it was then and that’s what it is now. Whether it was a show at CB’s, a VFW, a show upstate that Dave Stein was putting on, it did not matter.
Did you feel that you fit in at school?
No, not at all. I was a weird kid. And I think any kid feels this way when they are growing up going through a transitional phase in their life plus I was coming from a dysfunctional family unit. My mother was a very stable person, but I had an alcoholic father who I saw beat my mother. I didn’t feel that kids could relate to me, they didn’t know what I was going through. The other kids had a mother, father, a dog and I could not relate. My friends that knew me were cool but outside my circle the others would stay away from me. I didn’t have a pristine family unit growing up, although my mother is a great woman she was married to a man who was abusive and I saw horrible things as a kid. I went to hardcore shows and met people who had gone through the same thing as me and I felt accepted. I came into the scene as a skinny little kid and everyone there loved me. All these scary looking people they took me in and treated me with the utmost respect, I was judged on how I carried myself and who I was, not by my image.
CRAIG AIRS IT OUT WITH AF AT CITY GARDENS, TRENTON, NJ | PHOTO: KEN SALERNO
Do you think the scene was less judgmental at that time?
Absolutely, now it’s broken up into all of these different factions. You would go see every band that was playing. You would have a band like Void playing with the Vandals. Two complete opposites but it was all part of the scene.The scene was a general thing. It was more of how you carried yourself not by how you looked or how you sounded.
Did you feel that you wanted to be part of group or you were just into the music and found the scene?I think i just found the scene, i wasn’t looking to be part of a group, I didn’t even grasp the concept that I could be part of a scene. I wasn’t someone who really jumped on bandwagons in life although I touched upon that in my life as a kid growing up and developing and learning. I wasn’t really looking for anything I just wanted to play music and the music I liked. That took me away to a different place. That made me excited to be there. So when I went there the people were genuinely accepting and totally cool. They weren’t coming to me at some stupid angle they learned from watching television or the media so it felt like a real place with people being themselves so I was really drawn to it. I never thought “oh I want to fit in, I want to be part of this group.” Maybe it was because I was a kid growing up so obviously that was in there, but I wasn’t ever excessively trying to fit in. It was a comfortable place for me.
What was the first band you were in?
The first band that I was in was just some neighborhood guys and we played heavy metal and punk covers. We were called Axe Attack. The rest of the SOIA guys lived a block away and they would come over. I had seen them before but that is where I really started talking to them. This was around 1982. We played our first show at a battle of the bands in a church in January or February of 1983. It was my first show which was strange but fun, we had a two song demo.There were three bands and we came in second. I think we played a GBH, Exploited and a Motorhead song. The band that came in first had fathers who rented the PA, so it was fixed. It was myself, some other guys and Victor from Reagan Youth. We asked Armand to play but he said it would be too hypocritical for him to play his first show in a church. I was young and really into Reagan Youth, so I was psyched, and to play with Victor was a big deal to me. Lou, Pete, and Armand were at that show with us, we rode in a station wagon and Armand ran around the backstage with hangers on his head. Ultimately this show set the tone for the rest of my career.
That band didn’t really do anything else, the guy who led the band was a little emotionally off so I would just jam with people like Pokey and Armand but nothing serious. I wouldn’t play CB’s until a year later which was with NYC Mayhem. That was myself, Tommy Carrol, and Gordon Ansers who later played in AF and Leeway. They were a death metal band when I went to see them rehearse. After the rehearsal Tommy pulled me aside and said “I hate this death metal shit but I joined because I want to play drums.” He told me to join the band and we’ll change the music and make it a hardcore band with metal in it. I was into it and Gordon was cool with it also so they got rid of the bass player and I joined. This was from ’84-’85. Mayhem played a bunch of shows, and we had some notoriety to us as a crossover band. People would complain that we had turned into a hardcore band from a metal band but that was the direction I wanted it to go in. I thought metal was cheesy and I wanted to play more punk rock. I really liked AF, Mental Abuse, DRI…those bands had a fast crazy style. I would see the Cro-Mags every time they would play…Murphy’s Law, any NY bands. That what I was into.
CRAIG WITH AF AT CITY GARDENS | PHOTO: KEN SALERNO
CRAIG AHEAD PART I
October 22nd, 2012 by Tim
CRAIG SETARI WITH AGNOSTIC FRONT AT CITY GARDENS | PHOTO: KEN SALERNO
Long time friend and occasional DCXX contributor, Lenny Zimkus, spent a good portion of the 90′s as a roadie for Sick Of It All, CIV and Shelter, as well as a handful of other bands. Through out those years of touring, Lenny got to know Sick Of It All bassist, Craig Setari, pretty well and has kept in touch with Craig, long after the roadie work has stopped.
Craig has become a veritable New York Hardcore icon, having played in some of the biggest and best bands (Straight Ahead, Youth of Today, Agnostic Front, Rest In Pieces, Sick Of It All, etc.) to ever emerge out of New York. Lenny pitched the idea to me that he’d like to interview Craig for DCXX, so naturally I told him that the floor was all his.
This is part one of a multiple entry interview. Huge thanks to Lenny and Craig for making this happen and of course Ken for the photos. -Tim DCXX
CRAIG WITH AF AT CITY GARDENS | PHOTO: KEN SALERNO
I grew up in Bayside Queens where I was born and lived until I moved to Jackson Heights when I was 18 and got my first apartment with Armand and John Devil Dog who I would consider the sheriff of the Alleyway Crew. I lived in Rhode Island a bit and all over the world living out of my bag, sleeping on floors and tour buses. But when I’m not touring I split my time between upstate NY where I have a farm and Queens. Ultimately, Queens is my home, my family is there.
What was your childhood like?
My mother was a very loving, caring and supportive person. Very understanding, but we were very poor. My father was an alcoholic so things were rough in the sense that we didn’t have money so we had to make do with what we had. He wasn’t really around so he wasn’t much of an influence on me. What I do remember of him is that he was a rough character. There wasn’t a lot of money but there was a lot love.
Do you remember when you started taking an interest in music?
I was probably 6 years old and I remember hearing some radio hits that I liked, then my brother’s friend played me the first Black Sabbath record and that intro with the rain and ominous sounding music made me think of a graveyard. That scared the shit out of me that I almost cried. But I would keep going back to listen to it until I wasn’t scared any more. Early rock and heavy metal was the music that I latched onto. My brother was into Aerosmith, Black Sabbath, etc. I would listen to whatever he brought home, I loved the energy and the excitement of it. I really liked the heavy metal stuff that I was listening to but when I found punk rock it was like heavy metal in the energy but it had a message that really balanced it out and took it to another level. They weren’t singing about a bunch of nonsense. Certain metal bands like Black Sabbath do have decent lyrics but that brought in a whole new wrinkle to the music. It wasn’t just a feeling or the sound, it was a philosophy.
What made you pick up an instrument?
ROGER AND CRAIG WITH AF AT CITY GARDENS | PHOTO: KEN SALERNO
I was really into playing drums when I was younger, around 8 or 9 years old. A guy in my neighborhood had a drum set that he was selling but he would never sell it to me. I couldn’t figure out why not, I wanted to play drums. Later I found out that my mother and brother who were friendly with him told him, “we live in a small apartment, you can’t sell him those drums.” So he would say “I don’t know if I’m going to sell them.” He would just play it off. He told me “why don’t you play bass, there are no good bass players.” I didn’t want to play bass, I wanted to play the drums.
So eventually my brother’s friend Danny Lilker who is a hardcore and metal musician would come over my house for lunch when I was a kid. Danny and my brother were in junior high and I was probably ten. He brought over a bass and left it there so my brother could play for Anthrax when they were first starting. I picked it up and watched intently as he taught my brother. My brother didn’t really care to play but I learned from Danny. He would bring over metal, punk and hardcore seven inches for me to listen to - like Discharge, GBH, the Bad Brains, and then a little later Black Flag and early NYHC records like Agnostic Front.
From being raised on metal and rock I went to the dirty end of that with hardcore. Not like The Clash, who were more melodic. That interest came later. I was more interested in the really aggressive sounding music and not the typical sing along. I went through a phase as a kid where I was into fast aggressive music, I wanted the music to be hard, heavy, and dirty. So around 11 or 12 years that was what sparked my interest in hardcore. This guy Dave Dicuzzi who I went to school with was a roadie for The Mob. Also John Omen turned me onto a bunch of music.
Really once Danny got me going and I met those other guys, who were part of the scene before me, was when it began. They would say “go check out this band at CB’s” so then I started going there. Everything just seemed like a natural progression, but in such a short time, like a year or two. From first being exposed to it to being being fully immersed in it, it was fast. The first show that I went to was in early 1984 and that was A.O.D, Bodies In Panic, and Malignant Tumor which I believe was their first show at CB’s. That was the first time I had ventured down there. Now you have to remember I was 14 years old and the city was a different place than it is now. I was pretty much allowed to do what I wanted but I was respectful of my mother and she just said be careful.
So on my own I went to a Mets game and then started taking the subway to CB’s…
STIGMA AND CRAIG WITH AF AT CITY GARDENS | PHOTO: KEN SALERNO
COLOSSAL MAN WAS A SKINHEAD
August 21st, 2012 by Tim
A VERY YOUNG FREDDY CRICIEN TAKES THE MIC DURING AN AGNOSTIC FRONT SET AT CITY GARDENS | PHOTO: KEN SALERNO