February 1st, 2014 by Tim
REVELATION RECORDS CATALOG 1-25, 1987-1992.
REVELATION RECORDS ADS
January 8th, 2014 by Larry
CASSETTE LOVE PART 3
January 7th, 2014 by Larry
From the collection of Jeff Terranova.
GORILLA BISCUITS AT THE SAFARI CLUB, WASHINGTON DC 1989
September 3rd, 2013 by Tim
1989 was one hell of a year for GB, they did their first US tour, released “Start Today” on Revelation Records, really fine tuned their live shows and established themselves as a unique and important New York City Hardcore band. To me at least, it just seemed that they had really caught their stride and although I wasn’t at this Safari Club show in DC, I did see them at City Gardens in Trenton, NJ, around this era. I still look back at that City Gardens GB show in 1989 as one of my favorite hardcore shows and sets ever. Gorilla Biscuits and BOLD were one hell of a combination punch that night in Trenton, glad I got to witness it.
Again, this video here is from the Safari Club in Washington, DC, 1989. Anyone around and going to shows in 1989, undoubtedly heard about all the killer shows that were happening at the Safari Club. This video and this set certainly serve as a reminder to a special time, for a very special band. Hardcore Pride in ’89… -Tim DCXX
GORILLA BISCUITS FAN ART
August 28th, 2013 by Larry
Hawk Krall’s artistic take on the classic Gorilla Biscuits Start Today cover. As part of the Covers Covered art show in Philadelphia, PA.
LUKIE LUKE PART IV – THE FINAL ENTRY
August 19th, 2013 by Tim
LUKE WITH THE REUNITED BISCUITS
Here it is, the fourth and final entry of the Lukie Luke interview. Luke was in the process of moving from Texas to Vermont, so we put this on pause for a little bit, but now that he’s settled in, he wrapped it up as promised. Thanks to Luke for keeping in touch and making this happen, this has definitely been a good one and he’s been a pleasure to communicate with. Now dig in, Bidip Bo! -Tim DCXX
How, in your mind, had GB changed or developed by the time the LP came out? Did it feel like a more developed band? What was the reaction, as you recall, to Start Today as an album?
I think developed is a good way to put it. Prior to “Start Today”, GB often existed in the margins of our other bands and so our evolution was inconsistent. After Youth of Today broke up though, Walter honed in on GB and things shifted into a higher gear. We began rehearsing on a somewhat regular basis – at least for us – and everything became more intentional.
Civ also stepped it up during that period and assumed a lot more control on stage. A lot of our earlier shows were sort of like practices with an audience. I remember playing a benefit in Albany when Wally stopped in the middle of “Big Mouth” to tune his guitar – by ear mind you – while everybody else just waited around. Then when he was ready we just picked up in the middle of the song and finished it out as if that was a perfectly reasonable thing to do. There was a unique lack of professionalism that was endearing, but was also somewhat limiting. By “Start Today” though, our sound and performances had gotten more refined, yet not at the expense of our decidedly casual attitude.
For some reason, the release of the record had gotten delayed and wasn’t out by the time we’d left for tour in the summer of ’89. Everyone around NY and California seemed to know a lot of the newer stuff, but for the most part there were a lot more kids singing along to the 7” wherever we went. Then with just about a week of shows left the record came out the day we played Chicago. The show was at some run-down club called Dreamerz, which was a second floor venue in what was likely a condemned building. I’m pretty sure that every single person who showed up that night must have bought the record that morning and spent the whole day memorizing the lyrics. It was absolutely insane. The entire building was shaking and I remember thinking that if the floor gave way I could probably make it to a concrete sill behind the stage and not get killed. The reception of “Start Today” was overwhelming from day one and has been ever since.
GB AND THE ’89 TOUR CREW
By 1989 you were solely focused on GB despite having juggled a few bands at once previously. Was this intended? Was there anything you were trying to do that never got off the ground?
I think playing in GB exclusively was just how everything worked out rather than being planned. I wasn’t going out of my way to play in anything else and GB toured all summer and fall anyway. Even if I’d still been in Judge at that point I don’t see how I would have been able to manage playing in more than one band. I did do Moondog that year but time-wise it was a minor commitment.
Despite all my musical activity in 1989 my interests had begun shifting away from hardcore pretty radically. I’d gone skiing earlier that year, became instantly hooked, and maintaining even one band grew increasingly difficult for me. I also finished high school that spring and for the first time in my life considered what it’d be like to leave New York.
LUKE ON BASS WITH MOONDOG AT CBGB’S | PHOTO: BOILING POINT
How did playing bass in Moondog come to be and how do you recall that experience?
Moondog was great. It was almost effortless. Walter wrote six or seven tunes and we just hammered them out in maybe two practices. I tried to make the drums sound like a cross between Black Flag and Dag Nasty – really turbulent but mid-tempo. It was the first music I’d ever done that wasn’t straight hardcore. Everything just fell into place and the initial ways we played everything were how they stayed.
I really dug playing bass, and after filling in for Wally after he broke his ankle on the YOT tour I just wanted to give it a shot. Armand agreed to play drums for our first and only show. That show was in the late summer of ’89 – I think just a little bit before GB left for Europe. I was gone from New York basically from the fall of ’89 until the spring of 1990, and by the time I’d returned, Moondog had essentially transitioned into Quicksand.
By 1990 there was a whole new world of sorts that had formed out of the early Revelation camp. Many describe this as a “weird” time. How did the hardcore scene in 1990 compare to that of, say, 1987?
By 1990 I was pretty disconnected from both the scene and increasingly from GB. I had nothing to do with the newer bands emerging from that scene other than being friends with a lot of the guys. Though only three years apart, 1987 and 1990 were different worlds for me. I suppose that’s the nature of adolescence in part, but it really had changed dramatically for me. After the GB tour in Europe wrapped up in the fall of ’89, I cruised around on my own for about 6 weeks and it made a huge impression on me. I traveled as far north as I could into the Arctic Circle, spent time in Leningrad in the immediate weeks following the fall of the Berlin Wall, took a bus to Istanbul, and essentially just got as far out as I could. I loved simply wandering without expectations or an agenda.
When I got back to New York right before Christmas the city just seemed boring to me and I pretty much split for Utah immediately. I stayed with guys in Salt Lake who’d I’d met there on tour, and just skied all day and washed dishes all night. My involvement with hardcore took a back seat to other interests. I still loved the music and playing shows, but I wasn’t really hanging out anymore. Things moved pretty quickly back then and it didn’t take long before I was out of the loop.
THE GB ’89 TOUR CREW MAKES IT TO CALIFORNIA
What was the reason you stopped playing with GB?
They kicked me out at the end of 1990. I don’t blame them, but it still was a tough pill to swallow. My drumming had completely fallen off and I was just kind of coasting along. I was going to school upstate that fall and occasionally practicing with Walter on the weekends, but it was going terribly. I dropped out at the end of the semester to move to Colorado presumably thinking GB would just get put on hold. I’d wrestled with the idea of quitting off and on that year, but just couldn’t bring myself to do it. In the end, the most difficult part of it was simply the feeling of being rejected on a personal level. Once the initial sting wore off though I felt surprisingly liberated. In hindsight, I wish I’d recognized how my actions were affecting the band and not put myself first, but at the time I simply didn’t know how to handle the situation.
LUKE HITTING THE SLOPES
After GB, what type of connections did you keep with the hardcore scene? Were you drumming or playing with any bands?
Pretty few – at least for a while. I got so deep into skiing and being in the mountains that there was little room for anything else. I still listened to the music and identified with the feeling, but there was nothing remotely close to a scene where I was living. I saw Quicksand play at Red Rocks in 1993, but that was the only show I saw until 1995 when I moved to the Bay Area.
One day in Berkeley I randomly bumped into Zowie from Leeway who’d landed out there too and we began jamming. My confidence in my musical abilities had taken a bit of a beating after getting kicked out of GB and he really helped restore it. I began going to shows again and hanging out some, but still had every intention of returning to skiing full-time. It was the winter of ’96 and I was about to move out to Tahoe when I blew out my second knee and had to return to New York to get surgery. I ended up staying in the city for almost two years and played around a bit, mostly with a band called Alpha Jerk, but all I really wanted to do was get back out west and ski again. Eventually, Alpha Jerk broke up when Derek left to join Sepultura and I moved to Austin, Texas.
Austin was only supposed to be a temporary stop. I’d gotten into some unhealthy shit being in New York, needed to get away, and I had a good friend living in Texas who’d said I could move in. I thought it would be a great place to go and take some time to get my head straight before going back to the mountains. But I really dug Austin and got caught up in playing music there and the whole environment in general. My pit stop ended up lasting over 15 years though, and I got married along the way and had three children. In fact it was only weeks ago that we all finally split and moved back east to Vermont.
LUKE’S SKI ID
Having been the predominant GB drummer, what did you think of CIV (the band)? Was it a bummer to see something that connected to GB without your involvement, or was it cool? Did you dig the songs/see them live/etc.?
I thought they were great. I don’t think I was even aware they were a band until my friend Eric Ozenne gave me a promo cassette of “Set Your Goals” one day. It knocked me out. Obviously it was easy to make the connection to GB but I didn’t harbor any ill will – it was actually to the contrary. It had been tough knowing GB was continuing on without me after I’d invested so much of myself into it, but with CIV I felt that I could enjoy the band without any hang-ups. When they came through California on the first Warped Tour, I went out to see them and had a great time. I sang “Sitting ‘Round at Home” with them and just got to reconnect with everybody. The following day Wally and I talked for the first time about everything that had gone down with me getting kicked out and it really hit home. Until that point, I don’t think I’d realized how much it had all weighed on me. It was a welcome and unexpected relief to patch things up and just let it all go.
In 1997 GB played a few songs at the Raybeez benefit at CBGB. Was that the first time you played with those guys since leaving GB? What do you recall about that show?
That was a crazy afternoon. I was out in Greenpoint practicing with Alpha Jerk and out of the blue Walter called and told me what was going on. The show was already well under way, but Derek and I raced into the city and met up with Walter at some practice space in midtown. We practiced for maybe 20 minutes and then just headed to CB’s. When we got there it was beyond packed and the only way we got in was behind Derek, who pretty much just plowed through the entire crowd. I think we made it to the stage right as CIV was finishing, hopped up there, and a few minutes later it was on. As chaotic as it was, it felt so good to play for that kind of crowd again and to be a part of what was happening. They could have just as easily done the set without me – in fact it probably would have been easier to have Sam play. Between those guys reaching out to me and getting the opportunity to pay a little tribute to Ray, I was incredibly grateful.
THE GB VW
Any closing comments regarding GB’s current and or future status? Any closing comments in general that you’d like to sign off with?
Getting back together as a band has been terrific and wholly unexpected. None of this was premeditated, but after that benefit we played to keep CB’s open in 2005 everything just kind of snowballed. Almost every show we’ve played since has been unbelievably fun. The feeling of being on stage together is unparalleled for me. We’ve just taken it one step at a time, allowed it to unfold naturally, and it’s surreal how people have responded to us.
Despite the fact that we’ve been playing the same tunes now for eight years they always seems fresh to me. I feel the sentiments and attitude of the band are about as relevant now as they were 25 years ago. Civ has made sure that we’ve only played venues where kids have been allowed to stage dive – with maybe one or two exceptions – and it has been a huge factor in making our shows as much fun as they have been. And despite the changes in scenery and our relatively ancient ages, I think we’re playing better than we ever have before. As far as the future goes, I imagine we’ll play again next year. I had a pretty severe surgery on my shoulder and biceps in January and the rehabilitation has been a slow process. I’ve been able to start playing drums again just this past month. I still have a ways to go but I’m feeling good about regaining full strength and mobility again.
And a word of thanks to you guys at DCXX for giving me this opportunity – and apologies for taking so long to get this last section to you. It’s been cool digging out a lot of memories and having a chance to add my perspective. In some ways it blows me away how influential hardcore has become, but it also makes sense. It just took the rest of the world a bit longer to catch on to what we were doing.
LUKE WITH GB AT REV 25 CALIFORNIA | PHOTO: NICOLE C. KIBERT
THE CHRONICLES OF KID HARD
July 4th, 2013 by Tim
Cool new interview with Alex Brown (Side By Side, Project X, Gorilla Biscuits, Schism,etc.) over at subsectonline.com that’s well worth checking out. Also, while you’re at it, check out Alex’s artwork here: www.fodderland.com
FOUR RARE RECORDS FOR SALE
June 5th, 2013 by Tim
Need to raise some money to build a mini ramp in my back yard and fund an upcoming trip, so I’m going to be selling off a few doubles that I have. Was planning to hit eBay with these, but figured I’d post something up here on DCXX and give the readers a chance at them if they were interested. In all honesty, I’ve really got to get the highest going rate for each, otherwise I won’t make enough to build the ramp or make the trip. Under each photo is a description, plus an approximate price each record has been selling for lately. I’ve been communicating with a handful of people regarding a couple of these records, so some may be gone before this post goes up. Either way, if you’re interested, feel free to make a serious offer at: DoubleCrossXX@gmail.com. Thanks and take care. -Tim DCXX
New York City Hardcore – Together – 1st press – Orange vinyl – $500
Gorilla Biscuits – Rev: 12 – “Start Today” – 1st Press – Embossed cover – Purple vinyl – $400
Judge – Rev: 15 – “Bringin’ It Down” – 1st Press – Green vinyl – $500
Youth Of Today – “Break Down The Walls” – Wishingwell Records – Blue vinyl – $800
LUKIE LUKE – WARZONE / GB PART III
April 8th, 2013 by Tim
CIV, LUKE, WALTER, ARTHUR AND ALEX | PHOTO: REV HQ ARCHIVES
It’s been awhile, but here it is, Lukie Luke part three, complete with lots of Judge and Start Today talk. Start! -Tim DCXX
As the first drummer in JUDGE, what do you recall about those early shows? Had you already been friends with Mike? How did the energy and delivery of JUDGE compare to GB or Warzone? What was the dynamic like in the band in terms of personalities? What led to Sammy taking over the drum spot?
I became friends with Mike while he was drumming for Youth of Today in 1987 and always had an easy time getting on with him. He was pretty low-key and matter-of-fact about things, and I just kind of looked up to him for how he carried himself. I wanted to play in Judge because I thought those first songs were great, but also for the chance to work with Mike.
There was a lot of excitement surrounding the Judge’s early shows. The band had a strong following from the start and sort of skipped the whole break-in period. A lot of people already owned or had heard the 7”, Mike and Porcell were well-known musicians, and the whole connection to Schism probably helped too. Straight edge bands around that point were taking a lot of shit within the scene, and while the superficial aspects of the movement did warrant being called out, a lot of the negative attention seemed misguided and exaggerated. To an extent, Judge felt like a response to that backlash and it translated into powerful performances. While I’ve always felt that the overall attitude and approach of GB matched my own disposition well, I also enjoyed the more aggressive outlet Judge provided.
Things within the band were pretty easy going as I recall. Mike usually had songs or riffs sketched out on bass and we’d just take it from there. I loved hanging out and playing with Jimmy Yu, but other than practices or shows I rarely saw him. I don’t know what led to Sam taking over on drums, other than the fact that he and Porcell were very close. It was just before our first CB’s show when I was phoned and told I was out of the band. I remember being confused more than anything else, but I never pressed the issue or asked Mike about it though. Looking back, my guess is that it was some personality issue Porcell had with me, but I couldn’t say for certain.
The JUDGE demo credits you on drums. Many believed that to be Sammy. Was it in fact you? Can you recall anything about recording those songs? Is there double bass used on that recording?
When the Judge discography was released, Revelation sent me a copy and I saw I was credited on the song “Just Like You”. At first I thought it was a mistake, but after listening to the track I could tell it was my playing. If there’s an actual demo we recorded, I’ve never heard it, but I’m assuming that’s where that particular track came from. We practiced at Don Fury’s and I have some recordings of our rehearsals, but nothing as cohesive as a demo tape. I couldn’t say whether or not Sam played on a demo, but our playing styles have always been different and not hard to distinguish.
I never played double bass with Judge. Developing my foot was something I worked on probably more than any other aspect of my drumming. To me, having a strong, fast foot without relying on a double pedal was essential to being a good hardcore drummer. There’s a different feel and cadence to producing 16th notes on a bass drum with one foot as opposed to two; it’s a more staccato attack. I think it’s one of the rudimentary elements that distinguish hardcore and give it its defining character.
LUKE WITH GB AT THE SUNDANCE IN LONG ISLAND, NY | PHOTO: BOILING POINT
I’ve heard that when YOT reformed in 1988, the drum spot came down to you and Sammy. Do you recall “trying out”? Was that something you really wanted to do or just another band at the time?
I never ended up trying out. As far as I recall, Walter had urged me to, but Porcell wanted Sam in the band. I don’t believe Ray felt strongly one way or the other – but I could be wrong. I loved YOT shows and while I’m sure I would have enjoyed playing with them, knowing how determined Porcell was to have Sam as their drummer kind of killed my interest. I was happy being in Gorilla Biscuits and enjoyed my experience with Warzone, and everybody in those bands made me feel welcome. That dynamic was important to me and I didn’t want to try and force myself into a position where I wasn’t wanted.
You, Sammy, and Drew represented for the most part the SE scene in NY/CT as far as drummers. In my mind I always imagined that you guys were in friendly competition, constantly progressing. As younger guys who were all drummers, what were your relationships like with each?
I think Drew was far more accomplished at that point. He’d already recorded two solid records by 1986 and had been involved with the straight edge scene for some time. And even as time went on and all of us began doing shows together, I always thought of Drew as the better musician. He was consistently well-paced and had a good groove.
As far as Sam and I were concerned, I didn’t feel competitive about what we were doing, despite the fact that he replaced me in many of the bands I was in. That may have been somewhat naïve on my part, but since we were friends – and remain so today – I never wanted to consider him as an adversary.
What are your specific memories of recording Start Today? Did it have the feeling at the time that it would be a landmark record of sorts, and perhaps one of the most revered HC records of all time that appealed to a broad cross-section of fans?
Recording “Start Today” took a long time for a variety of reasons, but ultimately all the delays were worthwhile. We began recording at Chung King, but after two sessions threw in the towel. The engineer there was wholly uninterested in what we were doing, our time slots began at around midnight and ran through till dawn, and the energy was low and stressful. Even though we managed to lay down a bunch of tunes during our second night there, they all just sounded flat. It was costing a lot of money and while I think it was a cool studio it didn’t necessarily fit our band. I remember the first night we were there I was hanging out in the waiting room before our session began and talking with Ecstasy from Whodini, while LL Cool J, who was in the middle of recording “Walking With a Panther” kept coming in and out of the room. It seemed like we were a little out of our element from the start.
Jordan Cooper from Revelation was cool about our change of plans and gave us more funds to rerecord everything with Don Fury. We didn’t go in right away though, and by taking a moment to pause and consider what hadn’t gone well at Chung King we were able to make some pivotal changes. Many of the songs on “Start Today” were relatively new and some I don’t believe had been played live yet. We dropped one song altogether; a couple of parts were changed, such as the skank part in “Two Sides” and maybe something in “Things We Say” as well. But the biggest upshot of the situation was the addition of “New Direction”, which was written during that interim period.
Occasionally I’ve heard new songs that almost feel as though I’ve heard before because they seem to tap into some deeper current. There was this kind of effortless stride to “New Direction” that reminded me of the feeling I’d get from my favorite songs. I never had any intimations of how influential “Start Today” as a whole would turn out to be, but I was pretty confident from the moment I heard it that “New Direction” would be the best thing we’d ever done.
At Don’s, the tracking went quickly and the energy was good all around. We were simply a lot more comfortable in every respect, not in the least having to do with Don’s presence. Walter had to go to Europe with Youth of Today before the vocals were done, so he laid down a scratch vocal track on top of the unmixed songs for Civ to use as a guide while he was away. It was difficult getting them done though and Civ ended up rerecording them after Wally returned. Taking the extra time to get things right showed a lot of foresight and was undoubtedly a wise choice. On the whole, I think our flexibility served us well and allowed us to put out a strong and enduring album.
Of all the touring you did, who was the most fun to be with in a van or out on the road for extended time? Anybody you didn’t click as well with?
Stefan, a German skinhead who roadied for us during our ‘89 summer tour in the US, was the most entertaining guy in the history of the world. It was as if every day was his first on the planet. Couldn’t say whom I didn’t click with specifically. Being young and traveling for a long period of time, most people are bound to get on everybody’s nerves once in a while.
Any good Sloth Crew stories?
Are there any bad ones?
CIV, LUKE AND ARTHUR WITH GB AT THE ANTHRAX, NORWALK CT | PHOTO: BOILING POINT
LUKIE LUKE – WARZONE / GB PART II
March 5th, 2013 by Tim
LUKE WITH GB AT THE ANTHRAX | PHOTO: ERIC BLOMQUIST
Here’s the second installment of our interview with Warzone / Gorilla Biscuits drummer, Luke Abbey. Like expected, Luke continues to deliver the goods, so dive on in. -Tim DCXX
What are your memories of starting to play with GB? Had you already become friends with those guys? What were those early practices like? What songs do you recall working out? What was the dynamic like in the band as far as personalities, friendships, etc?
I was excited because I knew when I joined Gorilla Biscuits that I’d be playing good shows and be involved with guys who were as into hardcore as I was. I hit it off with everybody in the band and their whole crew from Astoria and Jackson Heights where there was a tight knit scene. I spent a bunch of time out in Queens just goofing off, messing around at the pyramids, and I became friends with a lot of folks – especially Walter’s younger brother Dylan who was my age.
GB mostly practiced at either Giant Studios or Don Fury’s and there were almost always other people hanging out. Rehearsals back then were sort of open invitations – especially at Giant Studios where you could just kind of walk from room to room on any given night and see almost any New York band you can think of. There was so little pretension about playing music back then and I felt it was much more of a shared experience.
Walter was responsible for writing the music and lyrics for GB. Some elements of the tunes might have changed through the course of getting them together, but he always had a pretty solid conception of how it all should go beforehand. Initially I learned the songs on the demo, and I think “High Hopes” was probably the first new song I was a part of putting together. What blew me away most early on was how good a musician Arthur was. And it just seemed effortless – like he didn’t even notice he was playing. From those early days on, there’s always been a kind of ease and simplicity in terms of the development of GB, which I attribute it to both Wally’s approach and to the general chemistry between the guys in the band.
ALEX BROWN, DYLAN SCHREIFELS AND LUKE ABBEY
What are your memories from recording Warzone’s “Don’t Forget The Struggle…? (was that your first recording?)
No. I’d done recordings for the first Revelation NYHC compilation with GB and Warzone. Both of those were done at Don’s, which was where we practiced occasionally, so tracking there seemed like business as usual. “Don’t Forget the Struggle…” was recorded in a little studio somewhere in Jersey, and it was probably the easiest thing I’ve ever done in terms of the process. I’m still amazed at how well it turned out considering how quickly it all went down.
Compared to GB, Warzone was a totally different animal. The line-up on that album took shape less than two months before we recorded. We were a 5-piece for the first two or three shows I played but then quickly lost Arthur. Soon afterwards, Wally quit to do Youth of Today – and continue GB obviously. We played one show in June of ’87 at the Ritz with DRI and The Exploited as a 4-piece with Brad on bass and Richie Birkenhead playing guitar, but a few days later Brad split and I’m pretty sure returned to Florida. That bummed me out tremendously – not just for the loss to the band but because he was so kind-hearted and had become pretty devastated by drugs at that point.
For a minute, Warzone was just Ray and myself and I thought that might be it, but a week later Ray said he’d gotten this dude John to play bass, and Jay and Paul from Altercation to play guitars. The very first time we got together to practice those guys already had it nailed. I remember Paul busting out these jaw-dropping leads right off the bat. The only drawback to getting Jay and Paul in the band was that Altercation pretty much folded as a result – and that band would’ve been unstoppable had they continued. And John Ullman was as cool as could be. He sounded like Darryl from the Bad Brains and added this really heavy element to the band with all his chord playing.
We began practicing twice a week minimum, and during those first months probably more. Whereas GB would rehearse sporadically and casually – usually before shows and when Wally had new tunes, Ray ran Warzone rehearsals like basic training. 20 song sets, at least 2 times through, plus going over upcoming plans and ideas. The band was like a machine and I absolutely loved it. It made me a much better drummer and boosted my confidence considerably.
The recording for “Don’t Forget the Struggle…” was worked into a little road trip book-ended by shows in August of 1987. We played Thursday night at a VFW in Albany with Uniform Choice, then drove to New Jersey afterwards to stay with this guy Fink who was responsible for putting out the album. We completed the tracking and mixing in two days, and almost all completely live. Ray sang in a little area just off from where the engineer worked while the rest of us played together in the live room. We wrote the skit that opens the record in the studio just before we began recording – with everybody coming up with their own versions. Jay and Paul each wrote the funniest, lewdest shit ever that could’ve been on a 2 Live Crew or Geto Boys record. I’m pretty sure I was responsible for toning it down some, but I wish I had the original versions of those things.
The following day we recorded back-up vocals, Paul did most of his leads, and then we mixed the entire record. Right after we finished up that night, Fink took a copy of the tape over to some college where he had a radio show. We sat in our rental van waiting and listening to the radio, and all of a sudden “Crazy, But Not Insane” came on and we all started freaking out. I used to listen to Pat Duncan’s show on WFMU all the time and record the broadcasts. That’s where I discovered the Cro-Mags actually. I still remember hearing the drum intro from the demo version of “Face the Facts” kick in and just thinking “who are these guys?’. My first band even wrote a song called “WFMU” and I would call in all the time to request it – but I never heard it played on the air. So hearing myself on the radio for the first time felt pretty special – and I think the whole band was equally excited. The next morning we headed back to the city and played a Sunday matinee at CB’s.
RAYBEEZ’S HANDWRITTEN LYRIC BOOK
What about Warzone stories from the road? You guys played out a lot at that time. I’d imagine spending time in a van with Raybeez could be pretty wild.
We played a lot, but during the time I was in the band we never got too far from the city. The farthest we traveled was maybe Buffalo or down to D.C.. We played all over within that radius though but only a few trips that lasted more than a couple of nights. I vaguely recall having shows set up out to Chicago and back, but those never happened while I was in the band. Most of those trips weren’t so wild either – I’d say I experienced way crazier shit traveling with GB and that circle of bands. For the most part Warzone trips were pretty smooth. I can only remember breaking down once and we rarely got pulled over. And let’s just say it was usually pretty mellow inside the van for various reasons. Comparatively, when I went out with Youth of Today in the summer of ’88, it took us about a week to get down to Florida and we broke down in practically every state along the way.
What are some stand out memories of Raybeez you have?
Above all just how grateful I am for how he treated me. He had a lot of faith in me both as a person and musician, looked out for me when necessary, and I never felt that I had to fight to be heard within the context of the band – even though I was only 15 years old. He was good-natured about things, and even though he was serious about what he wanted to get accomplished, he had a real sense of humor about himself. Jay and I used to crack on him endlessly and he’d just laugh about it – and then shut us up by socking one of us. He had all these ideas for our shows that had nothing to do with hardcore – like getting an MC, dancing girls, and smoke machines – but they always turned out to be fun. I remember when I told him I was quitting the band; we were hanging out in the stairwell of Some Records, and he just laughed and basically just said I’d be missed but that he understood my decision. He was so cool about it that I almost changed my mind right there.
The last time I saw Ray might have been a month or two before he died. He came by Coney Island High to check out some band I was playing with in the upstairs bar. We hung afterwards and had a couple of pitchers with some of other folks – first time I ever had a beer with him. He seemed the same as always and was just having a good time. I don’t know if he knew what was going on with his health at that point, certainly didn’t say anything and I don’t recall him looking any worse. Then in September, I got a call from Jay telling me what’d happened and it really kind of floored me, even though I hadn’t been playing with Ray for almost ten years by that point. I went to his service up in Washington Heights a day or two later and it was heavy, but also heartening to see all other the people who’d gone up to pay their respects.
HELLS ANGELS BENEFIT PARTY THAT WARZONE PLAYED
Was it stressful doing GB/Warzone at the same time as Warzone was established and GB was gaining momentum? What were the similarities and differences between playing in each?
For most of 1987, which was the only full year I was playing in both bands, almost everybody in GB also had other things going on. Walter was in Youth of Today and Arthur was playing with Token Entry – and possibly Underdog too at that point. For a while we had Eric Fink playing bass, but he also played in Side By Side. Basically Civ was the only person who didn’t have another band going on at the time, but even he was out on the road for a few months with YOT that summer.
In 1988 things did begin to pick up a bit with GB, and I was also drumming for Judge by then. Having three real bands going on at once in addition to high school did get tough, and as I was spending less time with the Warzone guys outside of shows and practice I just made the call I thought would work best for me. My last Warzone show was on February 28th at CB’s during a period when we were definitely one of the bigger bands in NY. I wish I’d continued playing with them long enough to record some of the songs that went on the next album that I had a hand in writing. I loved being a part of Warzone and have only good memories about those guys and the band.
What do you recall about recording the GB 7″? Were those songs pretty well rehearsed or were things being worked out in the studio? What was Fury like for a drummer?
I think we tracked it in just a couple of early evening weekday sessions. There were a few changes made right before recording, but nothing substantial. Walter rewrote the lyrics to “Hold Your Ground” right before we laid everything down – a great idea considering I wrote the original words and they were pretty ridiculous other than the title. I think he also came up with the abbreviated and manipulated version of “Slut” (GM2) while we were there. “Breaking Free” was the newest tune we recorded, and was originally intended for another group that was aborted after a single practice.
The back-up sessions for the 7” were hysterical – pretty much thanks to Raybies. Obviously his little bit before “Big Mouth” speaks for itself. Who knew twenty-five years later thousands of kids across the world would be shouting that in unison on cue? But what killed me the most was when we did the back-ups to “No Reason Why”, Ray would hold his note just a little longer than everybody else to try and screw us all up – and then proceed to laugh his ass off. He must’ve done it a dozen times until we finally just said fuck it and moved on. So if you listen closely to the second back-up vocal of the first chorus of that song, you can hear Ray’s voice stick out. Every time I hear it I can picture him doing it and it just cracks me up. But overall, I think we kind of just ripped through that recording. It might not be the tightest thing in the world but I think it’s somewhat unique both in spirit and sound. It’s humorous without being corny, Civ’s voice is priceless, and the songwriting is solid. It’s definitely an accurate representation of the band at the time.
I always enjoyed working with Don Fury. The sounds in his studio were great even before any kind of mixing. I have practice tapes from there which sound better than a lot of final recordings out of other studios. He got involved to some extent, but it never seemed overbearing and he was always into it. We were pretty comfortable there, and I think feeling at ease tended to translate into better performances and recordings. As a drummer, it was my favorite place to record – a lot of it due to the drum set Don had. It was painted with jail-stripes, had these black hydraulic heads, and has probably been used on more albums than any other kit in the history of hardcore. It was so incredibly reliable and there was never a question about whether or not it would sound good. I don’t think I ever actually tuned a single head. “Start Today” was the only music I’ve ever recorded at Don’s on anything but that kit. It was far and away the most dependable studio as far as getting a great hardcore sound.
CIV, ARTHUR AND LUKE WITH GB AT THE ANTHRAX | PHOTO: ERIC BLOMQUIST
How had the NYHC scene developed between 1986 and 1988? Did you feel like you were growing up with it?
I think it’s much easier to view it retrospectively and make judgments about what was going on then, but at the time I wasn’t aware of anything other than the day-to-day. There were plenty of people and bands I encountered when I first started going to shows that were still around between ’86 and ’88. I’m sure there were transitions in the scene that were more pronounced for others who’d been around longer than me though. Still, I think the sounds and attitudes of the original crop of New York bands, as well as the community-oriented aspects of the scene were still largely present.
Yet I’d also venture to say that the scene did lose more of its grit and underground character during that period. I suppose it was bound to happen; a subculture as powerful as hardcore was destined to grow eventually. There have always been people who’ve created new outlets of expression based on their personal inclinations regardless of what’s popular – and often in reaction to it. I was an angry, non-conformist kid and when I discovered the hardcore scene it just suited me perfectly. I heard something in the music that I connected with intuitively and once I began going to shows I also found how much fun, excitement, and friendship was there. I relished the fact that most people didn’t appreciate it. I remember guys in my neighborhood used to say to me, “Oh you’re into anarchy and all that ‘kill your mommy’ shit.” But instead of pissing me off it was more like an assurance that my little utopia was still safe from the mainstream.
I think that the scene survived as it did for several years was because of how insular it was. Nobody seemed to neither want nor expect any interest or attention from anybody other than the people who were going to shows. While it’s difficult to pinpoint the exact time frame or catalyst, I’d say that by ’88 the essential nature of the original scene was becoming eclipsed, and as a whole began to resemble a more traditional and cliquish culture. Even so, it was still a while longer before those transitions began to influence how interested I was in remaining active in scene.
Did you consciously identify yourself as part of the Youth Crew? Was that a bunch of silliness or something you guys actually took somewhat seriously on some level? Who was it and what did it mean?
I think primarily of Youth of Today and Crippled Youth as representing the Youth Crew, maybe along with some of the guys from the Providence and Albany scenes too. That wasn’t a group I hung out with when I suppose the name originated. Eventually I got to know and become friends with most of them through playing, touring, and just hanging out – but I never identified myself as a “member”. I’m not sure there was any definitive meaning to the “youth crew” beyond the values and ideas of the bands that comprised it. There has certainly been an image that has developed over time and become somewhat iconic – the hooded sweatshirts, football jerseys, and hi-tops – but that was just a style. I think it’s the power of the music and shows which propelled all that and made it larger than life. To the extent that I might be included in that scene, I’d say that hanging out in a group was simply fun as opposed to having some serious purpose, though I did consider the bands’ messages important.
When did SE come into play for you and what did that mean to you? Was there a real crew mentality at that time given the social circle, and had it already been a personal thing to you?
If it weren’t for how powerful I thought bands like Straight Ahead, Youth of Today, and Seven Seconds were I doubt I would have ever gravitated towards the straight edge scene. Straight Ahead especially blew me away. I saw a lot of their early shows, listened to their songs on the “End the Warzone” compilation religiously, and became increasingly drawn into their sentiments. Guys like Tommy Carroll and Cappo were so explosive on stage and what those bands were talking about seemed integral to their energy. I was only fourteen but I knew I had to be a part of what they were doing. I think it’s normal to want to prove something at that age but other than my devotion to hardcore as a whole I was still somewhat unfocused. I’d already been drinking and doing drugs for a few years and these bands exposed me to something I could relate to. It helped distillate my own energies into something clear and tangible – and ultimately positive.
Despite how important the straight edge scene became to me, I didn’t view it as distinct from the overall hardcore community. My connection to the scene as a whole remained paramount. Even while I was simultaneously playing in GB and Judge and wearing “x’s” on my hands, I still spent considerable time hanging out with people who were decidedly not straight edge. If there was any kind of crew mentality, I think it was based primarily on being friends and just being into similar ideas. But as time passed and the popularity of our circle of bands grew, I recognized that the notion of a “straight edge crew” had become increasingly two-dimensional, image-oriented, and somewhat arrogant. There were leagues of kids who only came out to support straight edge bands and though it obviously enhanced our shows, I felt it was contrary to the true nature of the hardcore scene.
ORIGINAL PHOTO FROM GB 7′ B SIDE LABEL