MIKE JUDGE – PART IX
November 18th, 2013 by Tim
MIKE AND PORCELL WITH JUDGE AT CITY GARDENS, TRENTON, NJ | PHOTO: KEN SALERNO
I learned how to play guitar by the time we were writing the music for Bringin’ It Down. Chung King was a disaster. We ended up at Normandy Sound. We weren’t trying to be metal, but we made a conscious effort to play a little slower and really find a groove. We didn’t like how that Chung King recording turned out. I don’t hear the metal in the Bringin’ It Down record like people talk about. I guess the intro of “Like You” has a little bit of that. I don’t think I wrote a complete song on that record, I just wrote parts. Porcell would finish everything off. It had a feel I suppose, but I just never thought it was metal.
There were a few differences in things from the Chung King recording to the recording of Bringin’ It Down. Like, Porcell told me not to sing the “stay off the tracks” line at the end of the song “Bringin’ It Down.” He thought it was corny. But I sing that line when we do the song now. I like it.
When Jimmy left, we were in a pinch. Matt came into the band through Sammy and had little time to get up to speed. We were about to go to Normandy Sound. We needed a bass player and he was good, he could play really well. He was young, like Sammy’s age, and I didn’t know him. But nothing ever really bothered me about Matt. Once we got on tour he started smoking cigarettes, which annoyed the fuckin’ shit out of me. One time on tour we stopped somewhere so the other dudes could go in a river. We were always stopping for that sort of thing. So we stop and Matt and I stayed at the van while the other dudes went swimming and I was laying in the loft. Matt couldn’t go in the river because he had a fucked up toe. He got out of the van to smoke a cigarette with the van door’s open. He was smoking it right next to the open door…it was like he was going out of his way for me to know he was smoking. I never said anything mean to Matt, because I loved him. But that time, I had to say, “Matt you are fucking poking at a tiger right now, and I will tear you apart if you blow smoke in this van one more time.” As far as someone even smoking in Judge…see, I wrote all those lyrics. I couldn’t expect those guys to come close to even knowing what I was talking about. Those weren’t their lyrics and that was fine. Like, Sammy and Matt are so far from how I grew up it’s not even funny. Sammy had a freaking elevator in his house in the city. I had a wood burning stove on a farm. But that’s fine. I got along with those dudes, I love them. They were my vehicle in Judge and that wasn’t lost on me.
That first Judge tour (summer ’89) was tough because of how many rumors had gone around. Every town had a guy who wanted to prove that I wasn’t all that tough. We would show up and all these exaggerated, blown-out-of-proportion-stories had already beat us to that town based on stuff that happened in the last town we had played. When we got to California, these dudes wanted us to come out and fight these racists at a Klan rally. We were staying at Mike Madrid’s house and I answered the phone. This dude starts telling me, not knowing it’s me, that they need Judge to come out and fight these dudes for them. Like, he really thought we were gonna come in there and just fight people left and right for whatever cause. I’m thinking, “what are we, fucking Navy Seals?” The rumors were insane. We would show up somewhere and we’d ask the local kids what they had heard, and then I’d be listening in on these “Mike Judge stories.” There was all sorts of stupid shit. A good one was that I lived in Germany because I had killed a cop, and I rode around on a motorcycle in Germany with his head on my handlebars. Just far fetched ridiculous shit. But people said this stuff and believed it, or at least wondered about it.
LARS, DYLAN, PORCELL, MATT, SAMMY AND MIKE, BACK STAGE AT CITY GARDENS, POST “WHERE IT WENT” VIDEO SHOOT SHOW | PHOTO: KEN SALERNO
We had met the Integrity guys when I was in YOT. We hit it off, especially with Chubby Fresh. Then we went out to Cleveland in Judge and those dudes love us. Dwid really loved us. After that, Dwid sent me a demo tape of his band Integrity. They had crossed baseball bats and “hard edge” written with their name, and I’m like “ohhh man, this is all my fault.” Then Bringin’ It Down comes out and not long after that Dwid is convinced that I’m a pussy and I sold out and all this shit. Every interview he did in a fanzine was the same thing with him talking all this shit. We left on tour and got out to Cleveland and when we pull into town Chubby Fresh runs up and he’s like ”hey what’s up man!” He goes off with the other guys in the band. I tell Todd, “go find Dwid and bring him to the van.” Todd comes back with Dwid and Dwid is like, “hey Mike what’s up man, how’s it going?! I love the new record bro!” I’m like, “come on into the van, man.” So I handed him all the fanzines where he said shit about me. Me and Todd made him read all of the interviews to me out loud. All the parts where he said I was a sell out and a faggot and a pussy…I made him read it right to me. He was like, “awww man you know how it is! They always misquote me!” Todd and I were just laughing. I wasn’t gonna kick his ass or anything. It was more fun to watch him read those parts and try to explain it.
The dynamic on the road changed with Todd there. I could relax and enjoy it because I wasn’t watching my back anymore. On that first tour, I wouldn’t even see the guy coming. I’d get suckered by somebody. It happened a few times, but it was stressful because every show had a guy trying to intimidate me, and you never knew when something was gonna go down. People wanted to knock off the “hard” New York guy. It was never the big cities. It was the little towns. We were on the road, we’re not making any money, ten people are showing up at the gig and five of them are there to show off to their girlfriends and intimidate me. Like, come on. After that, I told those dudes in the band, ”I am picking someone to come on the road with us next time.” For the other guys in the band, they had a great old time. It was no worry to them.
(We asked Mike if he had any issue with Lars coming into the band given the fact that Lars played in Uppercut, who notoriously wrote the song “Am I Clear?” and obviously took a different stance regarding SE as a band than Judge ever did. Mike said he had never even heard Uppercut, didn’t know anything about the song, and that Lars worked out fine.)
Ryan Hoffman from Chain Of Strength had been out on the east coast, I guess before Lars, and he played a show or two with us on second guitar. I don’t remember the circumstances but in YOT we had stayed at his house for weeks out in California. His family put us up, was really good to us, and we hung a lot. I don’t know what the deal was with him playing in Judge but I think he moved back west. He’s a really good guy.
“WHERE IT WENT” VIDEO SHOOT, PRE SHOW FOOTAGE | PHOTO: UNKNOWN
With the “Where It Went” video shoot, I remember wondering, “are you sure we should be doing a video? Will anybody show up? City Gardens is a big place and we’ll look really foolish if nobody shows.” I remember being stoked because it was totally packed. We kept having to do the song over and over for the video and I was nervous because the crowd might not be digging that. The worst part was that we had to lip synch and act like we were doing the song. It was our buddy Eric doing the video. He was in film school and we had the idea to do the video, but he could do it cheap. There was no talk about what it would be like. We just hoped the crowd would go off for us and we could have good live footage in the video. Man, the City Gardens crowd went off for us that night. That was a great time and a great club.
Once Todd was in as our roadie, it was fun. On one tour we were headed home and stopped in the Rocky Mountains because it looked so cool. There was this Indian chick selling trinkets and shit on the side of the road. We hit it off with her and she gives us this thing to “bless our van for good travels.” It was this bag of green shit that she tells us we are supposed to put on the muffler and it would smoke and bless the van. I’m like “uhhhh…thank you?” So I just put it in my bag. Then we get to Texas and are pulled over. I’m in the front passenger seat and there were two or three cops. They had chewing tobacco, bad southern hick accents, total typical Dukes of Hazzard shit. They are saying, “why loookee here, they’re from New York! They’re from New York!” They ask us all to get out of the van. They say “we’re gonna look in the van.” They started going through my bag and I’m not even thinking about it, but they find this baggie of green shit. He thought he hit the jackpot. The one cop is like “oh my god! Look at this! Whataya we got here yankee boys?!” Porcell whispers to me, “what’s that?!” I’m like, “Oh shit…that Indian chick.” So the hick cop wants to know what it is and where I got it, and I say, “Look…you’re not going to believe this. Soooo, we met this Indian chick…by the side of the road…near the Rocky Mountains…and she said if I put this on our tailpipe, it would smoke and bless our van.” The dude was not fucking laughing at all. He steps towards me and says, “boy…did you say, Indian, on the ride of the road, near the rocky mountains? Boy, listen here. Just tell me where the goddamn drugs are.”
So they start walking around. They see an anti-klan sticker on the van and they start saying, “ohhh why look at this! These yankee boys are a bunch of nigger lovers!” Now they’re looking at me. They say, “so what’s it like in New York? Ever have a nigger chick?” I’m like, uhhhh…I don’t know what to say. I’m just disgusted. He spits out chewing tobacco on my Vans. It was like a bad movie. They start this thing with each other then. ”Hey Roy, ever have a nigger?” ”Naw I never had no nigger. What about you Bob, you ever have a nigger?” ”Naw, I never had no nigger.”
(Todd: They find this thing of patchouli oil in one of Porcell’s bags. They say, “oh boy!!! Jackpot!” I jump in and I say, “officer, it’s nothing. It’s patchouli. It’s like cologne.” Porcell is giggling. I’m like, “Porcell, dude…stop giggling. We’re about to get ass fucked RIGHT NOW.” The cop looks at us and says, “if I smell that, and I get fucked up, ya’ll are gonna die.” So he smells it and he says, “GODDAMNIT BOY! You smell like a mothball!!!” Then the other cop says “does this shit get you laid in New York?”)
There are a thousand of these stories…
JUDGE “WHERE IT WENT” VIDEO SHOOT SHOW CROWD | PHOTO: KEN SALERNO
REVELATION RECORDS ADIDAS – SPCA CHARITY AUCTION
September 10th, 2013 by Tim
Our friend Dave Brown and Grave Mistake Records are auctioning off this pair of Revelation Records Adidas as a charity auction for the Richmond VA, SPCA. Follow the auction here: REVELATION RECORDS ADIDAS or click on the photo above. Thanks. -Tim DCXX
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
CHAIN OF STRENGTH – LIVE AT THE VEX
July 23rd, 2013 by Larry
Three songs from Chain Of Strength from their set at Destroy LA Fest.
Just How Much?
True Till Death
July 13, 2013
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
JUDGE – “TAKE ME AWAY / BRINGIN’ IT DOWN”
May 24th, 2013 by Larry
Here’s another video of Judge’s 1 – 2 punch opening. Video by Jammi York
TIME’S GETTING ON
March 25th, 2013 by Ed
MIKE JUDGE ‘ANTI MATTER FANZINE’ PHOTO SHOOT | PHOTO: BRIAN MARYANSKI
PHOTO: BRIAN MARYANSKI
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