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
THIS IS HARDCORE 2013 LATEST LINE-UP ANNOUNCEMENT
May 20th, 2013 by Ed
I’m sure the copy quoted below was prepared before the addition of The Almighty JUDGE to the bill. It looks like Joe has put together another incredible weekend of Hardcore revelry. —Ed DCXX
Lets get excited about Sick Of It All finally playing TIH!!! Returning to TIH after a few years off is our friends in Ceremony. We will also have annual fan favorites Cold World and Wisdom In Chains keeping the PAHC scene on top at TIH. H20, Bane, Ringworm and Rival Mob can’t seem to say no TIH after the last 3 years have been great sets for those bands.
Defeater is making their TIH Debut while No Redeeming Social Value is performing a 25th anniversary set with the return of Mike Dixon, original part of the vocal duo. This is not a reunion but the band hasn’t performed with Mike since ’97. NYHC legends Absolution are set to show the new generation what the Old School has to offer. This year’s fest has plenty of other planned activities that will be disclosed in early June. In the meantime – get your tickets now. —TIHC Crew
TIHC Official Site | TIHC Facebook
CRAIG AHEAD – PART IV
December 14th, 2012 by Tim
CRAIG WITH SICK OF IT ALL AT THE COURT TAVERN, NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ | PHOTO: KEN SALERNO
Straight Ahead was still playing at the time and when I saw Youth Of Today…I think I had seen them play with Agnostic Front at CB’s. I had seen Violent Children a bunch of times and I really liked them so when I heard that those guys had a new band I went to see them and thought wow these guys are great, I was moshing the whole show. As time went on I met them and they were cool. At the time Tommy was playing with them and a couple of weeks later they asked me to join. I thought this was really cool, the guys from Violent Children and they have a great band. I was 15 years old when they asked me, I was just about to turn 16.
We played a lot of weekend shows and then I quit school. I hated it and I barely went. Not that I was a trouble maker or a bad student but the teachers were so rude to me they were constantly telling me ‘you have to do this you have to do that.’ I said fuck all of these people, fuck school, you’re all assholes. My mother was so upset and she kept telling me ‘you have to go to school, you can’t quit.’ Eventually she said ‘you want to play music? You have to get your GED.’ So I went to my GED classes, took the pretest and got a 100. The instructor asked ‘why are you here? You did so well on the test.’ I told him I hated being in school. He said ‘get out of here, you’re done.’ I didn’t have to take any of the courses.
So now I’m 16 years old, dropped out of school, and I tell my mother I’m going on tour with my band. That’s when we did an east coast run down south in the summer of 1986. Some of the shows were pretty dismal and when we would get to the Carolinas and Georgia those were bad. Places up here were great though. There were so many memorable things that happened on those tours.
CRAIG WITH SICK OF IT ALL | PHOTO: KEN SALERNO
One thing was Tommy was freaking out and if he reads this he’s gonna kill me. He was a big strong guy and he was freaking out and we were all scared of him. At the time he was dating Alexa who was THE hardcore girl in the scene. He’s 16, bugging out because it was his first real girlfriend and he kept saying he missed her and wanted to be with her. We were so mad at him but we can’t say anything because he’s crazy. So we bootbath his bag - we kick the shit out of it. When he comes back he opens his bag and says ‘goddamn southern heat my toothpaste and shampoo exploded over everything!’ I felt really bad because he was my friend and will be until the day I die but we were so annoyed with him.
Then we flew out to the west coast and played four shows but wound up staying at Dan O’Mahony’s mom’s house for about 6 weeks. We played a garage show with Zack’s band and Uniform Choice, Fender’s with Murphy’s Law and a few others I can’t remember. That was where I met all of those California guys the whole California crew who I just saw at the Rev shows in June and I’m still friends with them.
While in California we stayed at the MRR house with Tim Yohannan. While their view of us was really opinionated once you hung out with them it was really cool and there was a joking, comedic side to them. I remember Porcell brought in some Goober Grape which is peanut butter and jelly mixed and they flipped out on us saying he couldn’t have it in the house because it was corporate. Porcell couldn’t believe it and he started saying ‘what’s wrong with you guys, what are you talking about?’ Finally they said they were only joking and started laughing.
Tim Yohannon had this huge record collection and Porcell took this seven inch of some random band who I never heard of and he put it in my bag. So Tim Yohannan was saying ‘listen there is a record missing and I don’t know you guys so I want to check your bags.’ I didn’t take it so I told him go ahead, and there it was right in my bag. Those guys were like ‘what do you have to say Craig?’ I just downplayed it, saying ‘oh yeah it’s in my bag whatever.’ Then everyone started laughing since they were all in on it. I took the shot for him, I didn’t rat him out even though i knew he put it in there.
Mike Judge was playing drums for them by this time and was a really cool guy and after we got back I was hanging out with him. He said he wanted to quit and start a new band that is going to be straight edge hardcore and metal and he was going to call it Judge. So I told him that sounds cool, I’m going to leave and rededicate myself to Straight Ahead and let YOT do their own thing. It wasn’t like I was contributing to the band, I wrote one song which was called New Beginning which we only played live a bunch of times and never recorded it. New Beginning was the name of the label that was going to put out the record before Wishingwell. I was used to being creative and writing songs. I loved playing with them, the live shows were amazing, the energy was intense but I wanted something more creativity-wise.
CRAIG WITH SOME CLOBBERIN’ TIME IN NJ | PHOTO: KEN SALERNO
The recording of Break Down The Walls was somewhere upstate and it was pretty fun but I was playing on this weird Gibson Explorer bass with these dead strings. I recorded my tracks and when I heard them I didn’t like it, I wanted to do it over. For whatever reason I didn’t have a bass with me. I told them give me a hundred bucks to rerecord my stuff but they said ‘no we don’t have it in the budget.’ So I took my own money had my brother drive me up there on a 3 hour drive and I rerecorded the bass tracks on the already recorded record. I still wasn’t so happy with them, and even though I was 16 years old I still wanted it to be a representation of me.
Every Youth Of Today show was like a Straight Ahead show at CB’s where it was a huge event in that everyone sang along and went crazy. If Straight Ahead went up to Albany we wouldn’t have a show like that but YOT would. Youth Of Today was really starting to come up at that time, there was so much high energy. When I played with them I was straight edge and vegetarian, which was good for me because before that I was a dirty kid from Queens who smoked pot and drank. They exposed me to those things and was a very good thing, it made me understand a whole part of my life which could be enjoyed. It was a real early learning experience that later in life would become very beneficial to me. On this day right now I don’t drink or do drugs and I’m vegetarian.
At the end after I left YOT, Straight Ahead played this dismal show in Albany and we drove back as fast as we could to see Youth Of Today at CB’s, and we got there right as they were finishing. The place was packed everyone was going nuts, and I was like ‘shit this sucks.’ I had a feeling in my stomach that I was a part of this band that was so much fun and I let it go. It wasn’t meant to be. That was the only band that I ever quit in my life. I was sick to my stomach for a couple hours after that. Especially after that horrible Straight Ahead show that sucked and Tommy acting all weird. This did not turn out the way I wanted it to be. I was in YOT for one year - 1986. But as fate would have it I got a phone call that I never thought I would get. I still see those guys once in awhile since we sort of live near each other and I feel we enjoy a good friendship.
Recently at the Rev shows in June you, Richie and Drew got together and played Break Down The Walls. Did that having any sentimental meaning to you?
It was fun, that’s it. I live upstate on a farm pretty close to where Ray and John live and we always say let’s get together so I got invited to a lunch at Steve Reddy’s house with those guys and we got together to hang out. I don’t want to say we let bygones be bygones because when you’re 16 and you get into a fight with someone over something silly it doesn’t carry over into adulthood. We talked and had a great time. We still talk every once in awhile but things don’t work out. We’re all busy in our own lives.
ARMAND AND CRAIG AT THE COURT TAVERN | PHOTO: KEN SALERNO
CRAIG AHEAD – PART III
November 13th, 2012 by Tim
How did Straight Ahead get started?
So Gordon wound up quiting NYC Mayhem because we were headed into a more hardcore sound and now Tommy was just singing because before that he was singing and playing drums at the same time which he didn’t want to do anymore. He wanted to be a frontman. So I’m talking to Armand outside of a show and I tell him I want to do a new band, we don’t have a name, and Tommy is going to sing. He said that he would play drums. Even though he was a guitar player he would try it. So then we got Rob Escheveria who played in a band with me called Smegma between Axe Attack and Mayhem. I told Tommy and Armand to let Rob into the band since he was a cool guy and could play well. So that is how Straight Ahead started. We played upstate, CB’s, all over the area and people were into us. Once Armand started playing with us then Pete and Lou told him to join the band that they were doing which was SOIA but that wasn’t until 1986.
RAY AND CRAIG WITH YOUTH OF TODAY AT CBGB | PHOTO: BRI HURLEY
Did you consider yourselves a Straight Edge band?
Yeah Tommy was really into being straight edge. Whatever he was into he did it full on and he was extremely straight edge. At the time I wasn’t into being straight edge, at the time I drank beer and didn’t think Straight Ahead was the right name for us. But Tommy was really gung ho on it and we wound up using it.
Myself Rob and Tommy recorded with Tommy on drums since Armand didn’t have a feel for the songs yet. Tommy sang the songs with us standing over him doing the backups. It took us 3 hours and cost $75. It wasn’t mixed at all and those are the songs that came out on the End The Warzone comp. We recorded 12 songs but only 9 made it onto the record.
A year or more later we recorded the Breakaway ep at Chung King studios with the late great Chuck Valle who did it for free in the wee hours of the morning on the DL. We wound up putting it out on Some Records which was this guy Duane’s label. He had this tiny DIY record shop downtown and he was the first guy who would get all of the west coast band demos and anything out of New York and the rest of the world. He was a good friend of ours and he liked our band. He was someone we trusted and that’s why we went with him, plus he showed interest in what we were doing.
Chuck was a great guy. He was the Straight Ahead guy who helped us with everything. If we had a show he would ask if I needed an amp, I would tell him I would figure it out and he would say “I’ll bring mine for you.” He had said, ”You guys are going to record and I’m going to do the recording.” He completely looked out for us. If not for him so many things never would have happened for us, that record definitely would not have come out. He was a straight up, stand up guy and the tragedy of him being murdered was the most horrific thing that happened in hardcore along with Big Charlie dying in a car crash.
Big Charlie was a friend of my brother’s from high school, who would come over for lunch with Danny sometimes. He was a 6’8 300 pound rock solid muscle brother who played on the football team but was into punk rock. The first time I went to CB’s he was there. So when I saw him I called his name and he picked me up on his shoulders and I danced the whole show. That was the coolest thing to me to have the biggest, scariest looking guy tell everyone, “Yo this kid right here…he’s my friend.” That is pretty much how I got accepted by everyone so quickly. He may have been a scary guy but he was really a big teddy bear.
What happened with Straight Ahead?
I wound up touring with Youth Of Today and Tommy was playing drums with them at the time. He quit the band and he was difficult to be with at that time. There was a lot of back and forth with him, he couldn’t commit to Straight Ahead so Rob and Armand and myself just thought it was too much. With Tommy, one day he was saying “Oh I love it I want to do it,” then tomorrow he’d say “This sucks and I’m going to start an argument with you.” We were young kids so there were disagreements between us but nothing serious. So one day something wasn’t working out and Tommy said he didn’t want to do it anymore. Myself, Rob,and Armand pretty much agreed we were done with this. I had quit Youth Of Today to dedicate my time to Straight Ahead, and two months later we broke up…
CRAIG WITH STRAIGHT AHEAD AT CBGB | PHOTO: BRI HURLEY
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
G.I. JOE HEADSTOMP
July 27th, 2012 by Tim
LOU KOLLER DOES A LITTLE G.I. JOE HEADSTOMPING WITH SICK OF IT ALL AT CITY GARDENS, WHILE PETE CLIMBS THE STACKS | PHOTO: KEN SALERNO
LOU AND THE CITY GARDENS CROWD | PHOTO: KEN SALERNO
LOU WITH SICK OF IT ALL, DELIVERING THE GOODS AT CITY GARDENS AS ALWAYS | PHOTO: KEN SALERNO
RUMPSHAKER ISSUE 6
June 19th, 2012 by Tim
I haven’t seen this or read this myself yet, but I’ve been in touch with Eric for years as this issue has been coming together, particularly on the topic of the Mike Judge interview. From everything I’ve heard from both Eric and Mike, this should be THE tell all Mike Judge interview. So follow the link and order the hell out of what should be, a damn interesting read.
Also, congrats to Eric for finally getting this issue out, I know it’s been a long time coming.