NYC's Ground Zero for Hardcore Punk. Undisputed. Since 1981. End Of Discussion.
NYC's Ground Zero for Hardcore Punk. Undisputed. Since 1981.  End Of Discussion.

                             To say it's been a long, long time since the UK Subs have played in New York City would be quite the understatement...so before taking the stage at the Bowery Electric, we had a small sit down with Charlie Harper and Alvin Gibbs to talk about....well, everything since we last seen one another!!  So with the tape rolling - lets get started...shall we??

 

 

 

                                 UK Subs interview

 

Interviewers: Wendy Eager & Don Bucco (italics)

Members:  Alvin Gibbs (A) and Charlie Harper (C)

 

 

You haven’t played New York in over a decade, can you tell me what the reason was for waiting so long, especially since during that time you have toured other parts of the country?  And, what made you decide to finally return to the city to do a few shows?

 

C:  It’s really up to you guys, if you guys hire us, we’ll come over. We actually played here about eleven years ago.

 

I don’t remember it being that recent.  The last time I recalled seeing you was at CBGBs when we did the Trenchcoat Army record release show, I think in 2003 and then a show in Times Square with the Adicts and the Misfits on the bill.

 

C:  I don’t remember either, but we did. (laughs)

 

A:  It’s down to the offer. We did the west coast the year before last.

 

C:  We’ve been doing the west coast because there are a lot more jobs over there, but now someone offered us stuff over here. So, it’s not our fuckin’ fault, it’s your fault…(laughing)

 

A:  It’s the promoter’s fault or the agents.

 

I just thought that maybe there weren’t as good shows on the east coast ..

 

A:  (cutting us off)  No, we love being here.

 

C:  It’s our promoter’s agency’s fault because he lives in Los Angeles, so he concentrates on there.  

 

A:  The other thing is we used to do big tours.  We used to do like five or six weeks from the west coast to the east and back again, but we’re not inclined to do that sort of thing anymore.  It’s just too grueling.  It’s too difficult, especially for Charlie and I.  We want to do something that is a bit more pleasant and fun, not just day after day.  Before, we used to do this big tour every year which would take us to New York, and now we’ve been a bit more selective.  On top of which the amount of time that is required to plan and do these US tours, we have other schedules in Europe and elsewhere, and we are quite busy.

 

Since you haven’t been in New York in such a long period of time, have you had an opportunity to see all of the changes that have occurred and, if sowhat is your opinion of the way the city has changed?

 

C:  This area of the Bowery, that is where CBGBs was, after a gig, in the past people tried to mug our guitarist one time, and tried to take his guitar.  It was a dangerous place and that was in the daytime.  Nighttime, we’ve had our truck stolen from outside there.  It was really a horrible area, but now there’s the smartest coffee houses and it’s a world away from what it was, another planet.  It was the moon and now it’s Venus.

A:  It was kind of the reason we came here in the beginning, because of CBGBs.  It was kind of one of the meccas of punk rock.  It was one of the places where everybody went to play.  So when we came to CBGBs the first time, I was just shocked at how sleazy and decrepit the area was.  It wasn’t quite what I expected.  It was appropriate for the genre, but….It’s funny now, because we just went to where CBGBs was and I went into that store, looked at the clothes, and I couldn’t find anything under $250.

 

C:  That’s not CBGBs, that’s the fake CBGBs.

 

A:  I got to see a piece of the original wall in there.  

 

I haven’t been there since it closed.  I couldn’t bring myself to enter it.  It would be too heartbreaking, that was our home.

 

A:  The pavement outside says CBGBs 1975 in the concrete.  It was extraordinary, because when you went in there, there were all these designer clothes. I saw this jacket I quite liked, until I saw the price tag.  It was $1,500.  So there you are.. there’s the transition, right there.

 

C:  And the stuff looks like crap.

 

A: That too.

 

Your recent album Ziezo, was purported to be your last one, this being the final letter of the alphabet.  Does this still hold true, or will there be more recordings from the UK Subs that we can look forward to?

 

C:  We are doing a single called “Asshole’s Anonymous” (laughs).

 

A:  No, not really..we’ve already got some time in the studio to do an ep.  Yeah, we’ll be doing eps and singles, but no more albums.  I think when you’ve covered the whole alphabet; it’s like the appropriate time.

 

Why did you decide to do the whole alphabet as the titles in the first place, that is a pretty big endeavor?

 

A:  That’s just the way it turned out.  Once it started rolling….

 

C:  There was no going back.

 

A:  It was like you were on that course and might as well see it through…which we did.

 

C:  It took a lot of discipline, you know, like when you get to the letters like M, that was a hard one.  It was like, what are we going to call it?  What was the M,anyway?

 

A:  Monkey See Monkey Do.

 

C:  The whole idea, because I was already senile when I started, was so I could remember what I had done.  (laughs).

 

Okay…well we are all getting older. Members of the 50s club.  Don just turned fifty.

 

A:  You’re just a kid.

 

That’s why I like you, Charlie; you’re so much older than I am (laughs).

 

C:  There’s no one alive older than me. 

 

That may be true (everyone laughs).  Moving on then, Ziezo was financed through a social media fundraising campaign, how successful was that, and how did it compare to working through a record company?  Also, one of the funding offers you listed was playing in someone’s home for a specified amount; did anyone take you up on that? 

 

A:  It went very well.

 

C:  Someone did in the end take us up on that, but it was just me they wanted to perform.  They flew me out to Germany by the sea and I played in this little restaurant over the water.  You’d go out on this little boardwalk and out over the sea, it was amazing.  They paid for my three nights at a hotel.  We ate great.  I played this solo show for his 50th birthday party.

 

See, Don, you missed out.  You could have had Charlie play your party.

 

C:  The guy whose party it was, was named Thomas, He does the German Wacken Festival.

 

Isn’t that more of a metal festival?

 

A:  Yeah.  We’re playing it this year.

 

C:  We played the first one with the guy from Iron Maiden, the original singer.

 

Paul Di’Anno?

 

C:  Yeah.  I forgot his band’s name, but he was headlining that very first one, in a little field.  We played in a tent.  Then we played the twentieth anniversary..and now we’re doing it again.

 

A:  Well, this time you’re doing it twice..once with the UK Subs and once solo.  Then we go on to the Rebellion Festival and the following day we play as the Urban Dogs.

 

Getting back to the record, how long did it take to raise the money through the online campaign?

 

A:  About six months.

 

In retrospect, do you prefer doing it this way or having a label finance it?

 

A:  I loved doing it this way.  It was a lot more work, because basically we became our own record company.  With a record label, you go into the studio and then hand over the recording and they do all the design, advertising, blah blah blah…  This time we had to do all of that ourselves.

 

C:  Luckily we had our tour manager who had done this before, so he guided us through it.  But it is very hard work, especially signing all those records.  A thousand records…we went into this big club and had all these tables set up.

 

I guess you had writer’s cramp by the time you got done.

 

C:  We might do the single with the same approach, crowd funding.  Basically everyone pledges a certain amount to pay ahead of time so you can make the record.

 

The last time you played in NYC, Nicky Garratt was in the band, when did you guys finally part ways and would you ever consider playing together again?

 

A:  What basically happened was, he would come over and do the Euro tour and then spend the whole time complaining that he didn’t like most of the music after 1972, that he just liked Prog rock and that kind of stuff, so we got a little bit fed up.

 

C:  He was playing in a punk rock band.

 

A:  How disingenuous to be complaining about music post ’72.  We had a guitar player that was playing with us in the UK anyway, doing everything else.

 

C:  Nicky didn’t like playing in the UK and that was partly it. He kind of cherry picked the tours we were doing, like something nice and exotic like Japan, he wanted to go along.  As time went by our other guitarist had done two albums with us and we didn’t think it was fair, so we told Nicky that Jet would be doing the European tour.  Nicky was quite upset because he just bought a house in Germany and he wanted the money to decorate it.  We felt he wasn’t really interested in the music anymore.  But someone just said to me, either last night or today…”once a Sub, always a Sub”, so you never know.

 

Do you ever hear from him?

 

A:  No.  I think Charlie has.

 

C:  He doesn’t talk to me, but I talk to Pete, then he talks to someone and then that person talks to Nicky….

 

A lot of older musicians from the early punk days, such as yourself, have had medical issues now that they are older, do you feel that it effects your playing in anyway?

 

C:  I wouldn’t stop unless the UK Subs were dead.  But I do have little things, like I am diabetic now, and I have to watch my diet.  I have no intention of retiring, just because we’ve come to the end of the alphabet with the album.  We have the next single and we may do an ep down the line.  We’ve been talking about doing split singles, so there are plenty of other things we can release.  It was just coming to the end of the line with the albums, that’s all.  We really do intend to continue touring.  We’ve cut it down from two hundred shows to a hundred shows a year.  That’s what Willie Nelson did, a hundred shows a year and he was famous for working every day, so we’re really not slowing down.

 

I recently interviewed Roger from AF, and he mentioned that as long as he and Vinnie felt like playing they would continue to do so.  Don had the question, when do you decide it is enough?

 

A:  Wow.

 

C:  We had talked about it a long long time ago, and it’s like a ride you can’t get off.    We’re booked into next year and it’s like, as long as our bookings keep piling up, we’re willing to play.  We love it.

 

A:  Let me say something very profound, if you think you’re too old to rock and roll, then you are.   This really applies to Charlie and I, because the other guys are younger than us.  Jamie is half my age, pretty much, and Steve is about 50, so we’re way ahead.  All the time I enjoy it.  I’m not saying the travel doesn’t become harder as you get older, especially the long haul travel, but apart from that, I love the hour and fifteen minutes we’re on stage.  

 

C:  I don’t even mind the travelling.  You see other countries.  I’m interested in spotting eagles and hawks, and all I’ve seen over here are turkey buzzards.

 

I love those beautiful vultures.  They are amazing creatures.

 

C:  They look pretty gracious.  Don’t get me wrong, because they stink like hell.

 

I know, because of what they eat.  But back to the previous subject, now that you are much older do you view the music and the audience in a different way?

 

C:  Not the audience really.  We’ve always been lucky to have a real mix bag audience, from the very start up to now.   I kind of view the music a bit different though.  I kind of get inside the generic guitar sound that everyone has, and so I started experimenting with all sorts of pedals.  There is a pedal company called Earthquaker Devices and you’ll hear stuff like that on the next UK Subs record.  The effect sounds are a little bit weird, on the verge of feedback, and with a little bit more noise.

 

I know the company you’re talking, they make certain sounds…and with the period you were talking about that Nicky is so enamored of….

 

C:  If I was to talk to Nicky I would tell him get some Earthquaker devices, they’re kind of killer.

 

So now you have a tiny bit of moog mixed in with your flanger.

 

C:  But they can go really wild.  They are amazing.  I play around all day just for these noises.

 

You can turn yourself into Sun Ra in one easy lesson.

 

C:  I’ll even start using them on my solo stuff, but it’s not like I’ll use them in a kind of psychedelic way or anything like that.   I’m playing an acoustic guitar and they just make it sound really hyper brilliant.  As I’m warming up, I just kind of let the audience know there’s this weird thing going on there, but I don’t use it in my show yet.  As I get used to using the shit I will kind of introduce it a little bit more.

 

What about you (referring to Alvin)?

 

C:  He’s  going to get a thing called the Blower Box.

 

A:  I think there is something wrong with you if you do things the same as when you were young and you reach sixty.  For me I do things different, it’s just natural and welcome really.  I’m actually a little more tolerant now with certain things to do with the business, and intolerant of things in other ways.  It gets swapped around.  And, of course, I’m in it for different reasons.  When I first got involved in music it was all to do with the glamour of it and the girls and the hedonistic life style, and now it’s more to do with the camaraderie, the experiences, something to write about, you know.   I’m doing my memoires for the UK Subs.

 

I was going to ask you if you were going to put out another book after the last one?

 

A:  Actually, you know about my Iggy book….I’m about to do a new edition with Vive Le Rock.  Eugene, who is the top man there, asked me if I was interested and I said, sure.  It came out with two different publishers.  Also a French addition.  So I’m doing that.  For me it’s all interesting stuff.  For the Subs, I get ideas for songs all the time, just from doing stuff.  For instance, I was travelling with Kristoff in Poland, our promoter there,we’ve been friends for a long time. So we were driving in the car and I said, “Did you put the Buzzcocks on?”  And he said, “No, they’re too happy for Poland.”  I thought that was a great title, “too happy for Poland”, so I’m writing a song called “Too Happy for Poland.”  Things like that; they just kind of stick with you and get the old creative juice going.

 

I understand, that’s how the band we have now got its name…from a conversation with a friend.  We were talking about something, and he said that would be sexual suicide…and I thought, wow, the next band I start, that is going to be its name, and that’s what it is.

 

A: Yeah, it’s great, isn’t it?  Just things like that.  And that can take you..your imagination goes, well, what can that mean.

 

C:  Half of our songs have been inspired by being over here in the States.  “Suicide Taxi”, “NY State Police”, even “The City Of The Dead”, which was the bombing in NY and in London..and the list goes on.

 

Through the years a lot of your material has been about social and political issues that have been prominent in the news and the world that were significant at that time.  Now, because of everything that is going on, like how England separated from the European Union and Donald Trump is president, and all of issues about immigration, I wondered what your stance was on this.  I personally noticed that with regard to immigration and the current government, that there are many similarities to the direction Germany was taking under the Third Reich and Adolf Hitler.

 

A:  I made a comparison to that recently in something I had written.  I was writing about when we played that show, in where the right wing showed up in Frankford.    On that same tour we went to Dachau, and I wrote about how here we are at a time when Nationalism is growing, and not bringing people together and racism being de rigor again.  It’s really frightening, and I made exactly that same comparison.  And also it’s the inarticulation of the arguments from the Trump right as well as all the inaccuracies, just the blatant lies.  I saw something on CNN yesterday where a guy was talking about this recent mockery of an attack in Syria, where Trump was going on about “the babies”.  There was this guy saying, “I was trying to bring these children to the States and he [Trump] wouldn’t let them in.”  And some of these babies have died as a result, and there he is getting so dramatic.  The hypocrisy.

 

It reminded me of World War II when a ship that escaped from Germany with Jewish refugees on it tried to find sanction and none of the countries including the USA would take them in.  They were forced to go back to Germany where they died in concentration camps.  And that is what Trump is doing.

 

A:  Yes, and what is interesting, was the pro Trump spokesman who said, “Yeah, well, the reason he didn’t let these people in, cause then terrorists come in and we don’t know what people they are…and look what happened in Sweden, and look what happened in London..”  And, it’s like, hang on, the attack that recently happened in London was with someone who was born in England.  It wasn’t an immigrant.  And in Sweden, the attack was by someone who came in from a country that was not on the list of restriction.  The big attack in London, they were born in Britain, they were radicalized there.  The soldier who had his head cut off on the street in London, those two men they were West Indians who were born in London and were radicalized in prison, so he’s got nothing.  This whole thing about immigration in connection with terrorism is a red herring.

 

I agree with you, our band has been writing about these issues as well.   I was just wondering if as a band you would be writing about these issues.  

 

A:  I certainly will continue to write about it myself.

 

What about the band?

 

A:  Yeah, will do.

 

I know you, Alvin, don’t live in England.

 

A: I live in France, but it is the same.

 

And then this issue about building a wall with Mexico, it is absurd.  The Mexican people are the furthest from terrorists.  The Mexican people are innocuous; they have done nothing to deserve their being scapegoated in this way.  They take jobs Americans don’t take.

 

A:  That’s what happened after the whole thing with Britain.  That’s what the pro Brits do, say the Polish take jobs away from them.  British people never take the jobs that Polish people do.  The National Health Service would collapse without these people.  They are very important to the economy.

 

C:  The country would collapse.

 

A:  And if they stop coming in, you know what, they are going to have to start going somewhere else, to Asia, to Pakistan to fill these jobs.  They’re not going to stop immigration; it’s just going to be a different kind.

 

It’s just fomenting divisiveness and hatred, and if people don’t stop it now, it’s only going to get worse. I was sitting in the subway the other day looking at all the people and thinking what if they decided to put the Muslims in concentration camps, what would each of them do?

 

A:  it is a very very frightening time.  We are in a politically precarious time, especially with the distortion of truth, and the use of fake news, when it doesn’t suit him [Trump].  It’s misdirection, like with the issue of Syria.

 

C:  The lunatics are running the asylum.

 

One flew over the cuckoo’s nest.  My final question, which was actually meant to be asked earlier in the interview, you have had the opportunity to see many generations of punk, do you have any comments on the evolution of the music, the various scenes you have witnessed or been part of – and would you have a comparison between the past and the present?

 

C:  We lived through all those interpretations and styles.  I think it’s really interesting.  I always tell any young bands, do your own thing, don’t copy other bands and try to do things a little bit different, so I think it’s quite interesting. There is a new progressive punk, and one of the bands I love is the Screaming Females, which is like two guys and a girl. The girl sings and plays guitar and she is absolutely brilliant.  They are the new punk, they will play anywhere. They don’t care if there is a stage or not. They don’t dress up or try to be stylish or anything.  This is a new direction.  It’s more punk than punk ever was.

 

Any final comments?

 

C:  Don’t just be in the audience, try and do something with yourselves like writing, take pictures, make clothes, be part of it.  Get involved.  And most of all, get in a band.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Roger Miret may be known to most people as the frontman for AGNOSTIC FRONT - but he is hardly a one trick pony by any stretch of the imagination. With his autobiography about to be released any day now,  he sat down with Wendy for a lenghty interview to talk about many different things - some of which will be featured in that very same book...

 

This is a part of the interview which is a teaser for the full interview - which will be featured in the upcoming and long awaited new issue of GUILLOTINE  ... so sit back and enjoy a taste of whats to come!! Over to you, Mr Miret...                                        

 

 

                                           Roger Miret interview

 

What brought you down to the lower east side originally, were you already listening to punk/hc and what were your first impressions, what attracted you to the music?

 

What first brought me to the LES side was my cousin.  He was the one who got me into the music. Before that I grew up on Motown, disco and Latin music.  I’m Latin and that was the music that was played in my household. Then, all of a sudden my cousin played me the Sex Pistols, and I was like, “Wow!”  He took me to the first two shows I was ever at at Max’s.  We went to Bond’s and saw two of the Clash shows.  We used to go mostly to Jersey shows, because we were on the other side of the water in Union City, NJ which is right by the tunnel, but it seemed the city was closer and more grittier and I started going there more.  I was listening to pirate radio [WNYU show], I think it was Oil the show and then it became Noise the show.  Timmy Sommer [DJ] started mentioning Even Worse, the Nihilistics and the Beasty Boys, all these names.  When I first got into punk music, I was more into Brit punk because it was the popular stuff that my cousin was into.    I was also familiar with the Misfits, of course, because they were one of the bigger known bands and were also a Jersey band.  I was also familiar with the Dead Kennedys, Circle Jerks, more of the popular name bands.  But with the NY hardcore scene, it took me listening to Noise the show and going to Rat Cage records, that’s where I saw the little flyer that the Psychos were looking for a bass player, and that’s when I joined them.  Before that I was in two other bands in the Jersey scene, but that’s what got me going to the lower east side.

 

That’s funny, because the next question was going to be about the Psychos and how you came to play bass with them?  And then what transitioned you to play with AF and go from bass to vocals.  What would you say was the major distinctions between playing with the two?

 

Doing the Psychos was fun.  As I mentioned, I was in a couple of bands in New Jersey before that.  The  first band was called the Rabies.  I was married at the time, and my wife was into Siouxie so it was more that type of band.  It was cool because I do love Siouxie, but I wanted something a little more aggressive. 

 

How old were you, like fourteen?

 

I got married when I was fifteen.  I got married young.   She was not only my wife, but my legal guardian.

 

I didn’t think you were legally able to get married at that age.

 

Her name was Elsie and the last time I saw her on the scene was at a Great Gildersleeves show, I forgot what band was playing, and I was like, “what are you doing here?”  I had already moved on.  I was playing with AF, but anyway…going back, I had a band called Distorted Youth which had Elio, who pretty much tattooed everyone on the scene a little bit later on, he was the guitar player.  I  played bass, of course, and then there was Andre who later played in that band The Press.

 

He  died recently, I believe.  His old band just recently played at St. Vitus.

 

We had a band together before the Psychos.  Funny enough it was an Oi! cover band, we didn’t do any originals and I wanted something original.  I was going down a lot to 171A, by the old Rat Cage, Freebeing, Venus, there were always things pinned up for shows, anything like that, and that’s where I saw the thing for the Psychos.  So I called..back then you had to call people (laughs)…no beepers, no cell phones.

 

The good old days.

 

(laughs) The good old days.  And then we started rehearsing.  It was great, it was fun, because we were a three piece for the longest, just me and Stu Psycho playing guitar and doing vocals and Billy on drums.  We decided we wanted to audition a singer because we wanted to give the band a more hardcore edge.  The Psychos were a hardcore band, but were still more on the punkier edge.  This was at a time when a separation was starting to kind of happen.  It was the youth who were kind of starting to take over the older punk chaos scene where it was fuck everything, drugs, fuck yourself and then you had a more younger people coming in with more of a message.  It wasn’t as negative, when the whole Bad Brains PMA thing came in, it changed a lot.

 

I preferred more of that negative, angrier edge.

 

So did the Nihilistics and I loved the way they put it, but anyway we just wanted a singer at that point.  Do you remember a guy named Scratch?

 

Scratch Tension?

 

Yeah…we used to rehearse at Scratch’s old place.  It was above the old slaughterhouse...the steakhouse  on 14th Street on the west side.  So we auditioned Scratch, we even auditioned Johnny Stiff, how about that..that was pretty wild..and then Steve, Steve Psycho came down and ..and we had a vocalist and we started playing out and getting more acceptance.  At this time I had a Mohawk.  I was very low key and more introverted the shy quiet guy in the background.  I was also doing a lot of mescaline, all these crazy drugs, which kind of made me even more introverted...when you start messing around with drugs like that you sort of get yourself into this paranoia state.

 

In 1981, 82 a lot of us were doing some of that stuff, purple mescaline was big.

 

And then dust and all that crazy shit, you really bug out..but anyway we were kids…so getting on with the story…I went to St. Marks one day and I decided to just take this Mohawk off.  I loved modern thrash, SS Decontrol, so I decided to shave this Mohawk off, try something different, more of American hardcore thing and I went to a show and it happened to be an Angry Samoans show, if I remember correctly, at Gildersleeves...

 

It was on Easter 1983…I was at that show.

 

It was my anniversary, the day when I was asked to join Agnostic Front.  I was just going nuts in the pit, just being myself, but this time my head was buzzed down.  I got approached by Adam and Raybeez [bassist and drummer for AF at that time.]  They were like, “hey, man, we’re looking for a singer”.    Adam knew I was in the Psychos, and I was like, “you know I play bass”  and they were like “we think you can do this.”  I was like, I don’t if know if I  can do this, I’m not used to having a mic, I’m used to being behind an instrument.  You would know that, because you play bass, right?

 

I don’t think I would want to be a singer.

 

You feel comfortable behind your instrument, right?

 

Yeah.  It would feel awkward.

 

It was like I felt comfortable behind my bass and now I had to be a singer.  So anyway, m girlfriend kind of talked me into it.  Prior to that night, I saw Agnostic Front maybe a good four or five times and I thought they were very primitive.

 

That’s a nice way of describing them.

 

Let’s be realistic. We had bands like the Abused, who were great, who were together and then there was Agnostic Front.  The one great thing about Agnostic Front, especially with the early line up with Diego and John Watson and Robby Crypt Crash..it was primitive.  But there was still something there that was genuine, you felt really connected to them.  I mean, they weren’t the best band, come on, we know that.  For some reason though there was a connection that seemed real…a song would start and all of a sudden the bass paper would throw himself into  the pit and then the  vocalist would follow and then you got Vinnie and Robbie Crypt Crash playing  and all of a sudden you’re like is this a song, what’s going on..but it was primitive, it was great, it was like watching cavemen play hardcore, you know…at first I was like, I don’t know, because honestly I thought the Psychos were a better band.  We played our songs till the end..we like play a full song, but I did it and it caused a bit of grievance with the boys in the Psychos.  They were upset with me in the beginning.  The Psychos were like oh, you’re a traitor.  I wanted to do both.  I was trying to tell them  I want to play to play in both, I still wanted to play bass, but they didn’t want me, that’s when they got rid of me. 

 

I remember back then I interviewed the Psychos in someone’s apartment in New Jersey and I believe you were still in the band when I did that interview.

 

Yeah, it was in Billy Psycho’s house in Jersey City.

 

I remember it being a really cramped, dirty place.

 

Yeah, that was Jersey City.  I played with both bands until they end of 1983. 

 

AF has been around approximately 35 years, what would you attribute its longevity to, and could you give a summary of some of the changes that have occurred with the band as well as yourself during all those years?

 

We always wanted to be a people’s band and talk about oppression and overcoming oppression.  You wouldn’t believe how many people have come up to me on the road and said, hey, if it wasn’t for Victim In Pain, my life wouldn’t be the way it is, I would have killed myself or something.  Sometimes I sit here and I think about all these years.  The band started in 82 and I joined in 83, and I think about how I’m in my 50s now and I think, man, I’ve got no retirement or anything, I can’ expect social security.  I’ve committed so much time and I think my purpose here on earth was probably to help others get through struggles.  That’s kind of what our music was always about, so in that way it’s successful to me, this is our music, this is our message.  That’s what American hardcore was always about, bringing a group of people together.  If you think about it, separately we’ve always been a bunch of misfits, rebels, outcasts and we’ve collectively come together to do something we call hardcore punk.  It’s such a great place when we all come together because we always felt like loners before.   When people come to me and say stuff like that, it kind of checks me, puts me on point like yeah, Roger, you’re okay, this is why…you’re here to help…I always felt like this was my purpose as a vocalist and for the band too.  Also the other secret to our longevity is that we are genuine and people want to relate to something that’s real.  No one wants to be part of something that is fake or non genuine.  When they see us and meet us they realize we are actually normal dudes, just like regular people.  Like you come up to me and talk to me at a show and I’m no different than you and they connect.  They connect to our lyrics, to who we are and it kind of keeps it fresh. 

 

You and Vinnie have been compared to the Keith Richards/Mick Jagger of hardcore, in that the two of you have such dynamic yet different personalities but yet you work together and have kept the band alive all this time. 

 

Oh, you’re trying to compare us to like the Odd Couple….

 

We’re talking like the Rolling Stones..Mick Jagger represents one persona who is very different from Keith Richards..Vinnie is very outgoing like Mick and Keith is the backbone of the band like you.

 

Yeah, that is absolutely true. I’ve always been the quiet guy, the guy behind the band.  I’m more reserved and I keep myself very personal.  That’s who I am. Vinnie will talk anyone….he  brought a real genuine bum to my house in Staten Island when I lived there…who would do that, right?  But this is Vinnie…Vinnie would talk to anybody and this is great, this is a great characteristic  he has and people love him for those reasons, cause he’ll go out there right after he plays a show and he’ll drink coffee with you.  Me, I need to wind down, it’s too overwhelming for me sometimes….I need to get back to myself, my own personal safe circle, which is who I am…so if you would compare me to Vinnie..that is true.  In your question, that is very true, Vinnie is the more outgoing.  He’s kind of like Eddie from the Iron Maiden band, he’s our character, and the rest of the band is me plus.

 

AF has been touted as the penultimate representative of New York hardcore.  Do you feel that is an accurate assessment and why or why not?  That’s what I guess the relationship of you and Vinnie is…you kind of represent people in New York hardcore, the way the Rolling Stones represented a certain era of British rock and roll and Keith and Mick embody this just as you two do.  How do you feel about that as your legacy?

 

I’m honored that people think that way, but I’ll never sit here and say, hey, we did this.  It was a collective of people, outcasts, misfits, runaways, rebels and we all came together at a place where we felt at home, whether it be A7 or maybe at a CBGBs matinee or whatever, we did this together, we all did, but, yet some people kind of faded away for some reason, some people claimed they grew out of it, how do you grow out of a movement…we really felt connected to this and we loved it..that’s been our passion.

 

I think that’s because, what you were talking about being real, I think for some people it was just a phase in their lives, it wasn’t really part of their heart and soul, but to people like you and I it was everything.. it was intrinsic to our lives….it’s who we are.

 

Absolutely.

 

...to be continued...

 

    Kitty Hawke and Jet Suicide 2016...at the roundtable - Casa Guilloltine

Killer Instinct

interview

 

The interview began with a discussion on ethics, and how important it is use to use a person’s words within the context of the discussion.  It follows that when the language of an interview is edited and is taken out of context it can be misconstrued and also have a different meaning than the original intent.  Guillotine offers bands the opportunity to read the transcript first, and allows them to take out material, rather than embarrass a band.  Ethics is important to us.  With that in mind, we referred to the NYHC book, in which Kitty and I were interviewed and both felt our words were misrepresented.

 

 

 

Kitty:  I was shocked two hours I spent with Tony Rettman and I got two sentences in his book.

He gave no reference to Killer Instinct as being one of the pioneer bands of the NYHC scene. 

Wendy:  Tony interviewed me more than once, both on the phone and in person.  Initially I recorded the interview so that I would be protected.  He also gave me a transcript and showed me what he was using.  However, in the final version, my words were definitely edited and not in a positive manner.  I would have taken legal action but it is expensive and wouldn’t have changed the fact that people had already read the book.

Kitty: I felt that it wasn’t what I had expected.  But, you know, in the end it isn’t worth it.

Wendy:  In reality, what he did was defamation of character, by changing the meaning of intent.  But I do understand.  That is why I never let myself be interviewed, and foolishly listened to the advice of people who will not be named here.  But not to digress, that won’t happen here.

Jet:  Two sentences. How can that be representative?  He should have let us read it first.

Wendy: Moving along… For those people who weren’t around for the days of Killer Instinct, could you first give a history of the band?

Kitty:  Jet put an ad in the paper which drew me in.

Jet:  In 1980 I was lingering around the house and my father kept chasing me around going you’re not doing anything,.  He thought I was wasting my life and he said, why don’t you do something you want to do.  And, I was like, I want to put together a band.  He said, well, why don’t you stop talking about it and do something.  After that we did the Self Destruct {Ed. Note – Self Destruct was a short lived band with Jet on guitar and me on bass with two other people who we can’t recall – we played one gig on a Monday night in Sept 1981 at A7 and then disbanded.}  After that, I came up with the plan for another band. I originally had three names, the first being Killer Instinct.  I can’t recall the other two.  I asked my father which one would you choose.  If you went to a club which would you say was the band that  you would want to go see and he chose Killer Instinct.  I called up the Village Voice and I made up my first ad, and that was for a drummer. I thought if I have a drummer and I can hold a tune then at least when I go to interview a bass player than they will have something to work with.  The one person who answered the ad was Bobby Skull.  There were other people who answered the ad but they wanted to show up in t-shirts and stuff like that and he was into wearing leather and looking hard and spikes and all that stuff and he was into it.  If you weren’t passionately into it, then I wasn’t interested in having you in the band. 

Wendy:  So when you say into it, you mean someone who had an image, not just play an instrument.

 

J:  Exactly.  I wanted you to be emotionally involved in what you were doing.  Because if you feel the way that you do, then you are going to dress the way you want to dress and play the way.  I went all the way to meet this short little guy.

Wendy:  Where did you meet him?

Jet:  Staten Island.  I meet this kid.  I thought because I was used to the Max’s Kansas City thing where I was spawned from.  I wasn’t from CBs, I started out at Max’s and then went to CBs. I was a Max’s kid so everything was sparkly clothes.

Kitty:  It was so freaky, because I hung out at Max’s when I was in high school and I never met Jet and some other people who I met later on in life and I said, I wish I had met these people then,

Jet:  I was a real knuckle head then.  I didn’t know what I was doing.  I would see something and I would just go after it.  For instance, I almost fell in love with  Nancy Spungen and this friend of mine grabbed me and said, are you fucking out of your mind, that girl belongs to that crazy psychopath.

Wendy:  He followed me onto two subway trains when I first met him.  The 7 to the RR.

Jet:  I saw a punk rock girl

Kitty:  You had to follow her.  You couldn’t say something right away?

Jet:  I was shy.

Kitty:  Just, hey, I’m into punk.  Or what bands are you into.

Jet:  I thought she has to be in a band.  Look at her.  Well, I said, you’ll lose your chance if you don’t talk to her. 

Wendy:  He followed me to Tramps for Mod Monday {editor’s note: this was the original Tramps that was located on 15th and Irving}.

Kitty:  I used to go there with this guy Mike I was dating while I was going to Hunter College and we used to go to Tramps for Mod Monday.

Wendy: I walked by there the other day.  It’s called Shades of Green now. It looked the same through the window, but I couldn’t bring myself to go inside.

Kitty:  I couldn’t go in either. Just like where CBs used to be, I can’t go in there either.

Jet:  When I went in (CBs) they had this like model kind of surreal uppy yuppy stuff.  I couldn’t deal with…but getting back to the band.  I went to Staten Island and I saw Bobby.  He was a psychological recluse.  He didn’t want to leave his home.  So, I said, listen I don’t care if I have to go to the ends of the earth, I’ll come to where you are, and he was like, “you’re really going to come here?”  So I showed up at his house, but I was already up for it.  I wanted my band to have all these beautiful people.  I realized in my brain that this was the kind of band you’re putting together…he doesn’t look like Poison or any of those bands, but he looks like Killer Instinct and his name was Bobby Skull.  So, I thought, what better guy could I have in my band than Bobby Skull? 

Kitty:  And he dressed cool.

Jet:  So then I went with him to the studio.  He was Polish and he adapted some of that type of music to his style of playing.  His drum beat was like a fast Polka.  So I said, wow, that’s really interesting.

Kitty:  And it worked.

Jet:  Then I put another ad in the paper for a bass player.  I was really disturbed because I wasn’t really feeling the hardcore thing (note: at that time it was just called hardcore punk) but I was always a punk inside and so when I found places like A7 that for some reason the bands didn’t like girls.  Like the boys come in and it’s the boy’s hour, so I said, well, I want a girl bass player.  So I specifically put female bass player in the ad.  Bobby, was like, are you sure?  They have to have balls.

Wendy: That’s actually funny, that you have to have balls to be a female bass player.

Jet:  At the time it was like, oh, look, I got chicks in the band, because it was supposed to be a dude thing.

Wendy:  I just wanted to interject something.  Around that time you and I were at the Kiev and Jason from the Attack was at the next table and he was looking for a bass player and you said, well, Wendy is a bass player, and he was like, I only want guys in my band.  I was so pissed.

Kitty: I hate that shit.

Jet:  That is exactly the philosophy I was going against.

Wendy: That is the reason I didn’t want to go with Drew Stones’ movie.  Where he had women segregated to a section, separate but equal.

Kitty: That is horrible.

Wendy: If he changed it, that would be different.

Kitty: That is what broke up No Control (ed – the band Kitty played in after Killer Instinct). We had a really hard edged girl singer, girl bass player band,  We were really pioneers of the hardcore scene.  There weren’t too many girl bands with both a bass player and a singer.

Wendy:  Blake was pretty cool.  Before he had No Control.  He had Verbal Abuse with his wife singing and I was playing with them.  But I left to play with Cardinal Virtues, which morphed into Antichrist Newsboys.

Kitty:  His then wife, Carol sang with us in the beginning of No Control.  He was at the gig at Niagara’s we just played.  I couldn’t believe it since I hadn’t seen him in so many years.

Wendy:  There hasn’t been enough respect for women musicians.

Jet:  That’s what really pissed me off and that is why I was specific for asking for a female bass player.

Kitty: But later Blake was swayed to break up No Control and start an all guy band which became Sheer Terror. It was quite disheartening to learn that he no longer wanted to play with me and Tana because we were girls. I was surprised since Tana was getting much notoriety as the final lead vocalist for No Control. Just like Killer Instinct, we never recorded a full album which I regret.

Jet:  So..I had male bass players calling me, saying they were interested in my band, that it sounded really cool and I said, well, you don’t have boobs. I said I’m sorry, thank you for calling and the first female who called me was Kit.  She said, well, why don’t we meet and see if we can talk about it and why don’t we meet at A7.

Kitty:  I didn’t just want to meet someone in their house.

Jet:  I was at the bar and I was having a scotch.  I remember my father gave me a little extra money.  He said you can’t meet a girl and not have any money on you. So there I was, I remember her voice, because I’ve always had an acute thing with hearing sounds, so when I heard her voice coming in, I was like, that can’t be her, no way.  So, I turned my back to her, while she was talking to someone else, and I realized it is her.  And she went over to me and asked if I was Jet.  And I freaked out and hugged her.

Kitty:  And I thought to myself this guy really looks cool.  I didn’t know what to expect.  I thought I was going to have some nerdy guy.

Kitty:  What is funny, is that when I had an ad out when I first started my gothic band for a  female vocalist and all these guys were calling me.   I said, but the ad is for a female vocalist and  this guy Colin Stoker said that he thought he could be the best singer and he became the first singer for Night Gallery.  So I wanted a female and got the opposite because he talked me into it.

Jet:  I was so happy when I saw you with that blonde hair.  (PAUSED – this section had discussion of a New Year’s party we had in Jackson Heights in 1983 in which Jet ran through the building naked carrying a knife.)

Kitty: Was he on drugs?

Wendy:  He might have smoked some pot.  He used to go this deli in Long Island City near his job that was a front.  They had very little merchandise but they had a big Plexiglas window where you shoved money through and they passed you dime bags of pot.

Kitty: He said he didn’t do drugs.

Jet:  I don’t look at pot as a drug.  But I ran out the door.  Did I show up with the weed.

Wendy:  Are you kidding?  That was 33 years ago.

Kitty:  This is really bringing up old memories.

Wendy: I remember once you took something from me and hid it in your shoe and I had to tackle you in the hallway to get it back.

Jet:  I didn’t take nothing.

Wendy:  Years ago you did.  It was a long time ago.

Kitty: He’s like  a ferret.  He takes shiny objects.

Wendy:  Moving back to the band.

Kitty:  So I met him there and I was afraid..in my mind, I’m saying, I really want to play in a cool band, because I was playing with all kinds of people.  I played with Vinnie in the Eliminators, but that was temporary, and I really wanted to play in a steady band.

Jet:  Is that how you got, “Bombs Away?”

Kitty:  Yeah, from Vinnie.  He gave me the song, because the Eliminators were breaking up and he said you can do what you want with these songs, they’re good songs, I’m not doing this anymore, I’m doing more hard edged stuff, that’s what he told me when the Eliminators broke up.. 

Kitty:  Do you remember the line up for the Eliminators. Jason, Kevin was on guitar.  He was kind of Bowie-ish with blonde hair, he loved Bowie. After the Eliminators, he stopped playing in bands, moved to New Jersey, got married and I don’t know what happened to him after that.   I was good friends with Kevin and that was how I met Vinnie.  Vinnie and Kevin were best friends because they were in the band together and Kevin was a decent guitarist.  They were a very early band.  Vinnie was playing bass in that band and what happened was, Vinnie knew  I was starting to learn bass and he told me the band was really easy shit.  He didn’t want to play bass anymore, he wanted to play rhythm guitar, He asked me to play bass with them and he would go on rhythm guitar and we would see how that worked out.  Vinnie taught me the bass lines and the first time I played A7 I was shitting bricks.  I had my back to the audience facing my amp playing.  I was afraid to turn around for two songs.  I kind of turned a quarter of the way around, trying to look at the audience, trying to get my courage up.  I told myself I’ve got to face the audience, this is just wrong and then finally facing the audience in the middle of A7 I thought what I was I thinking, this is great..and that’s how I broke into A7.

Jet:  I don’t know why you would have felt any of that.  You were already on the covers of magazines for fitness.

Kitty:  This was big to me.  Vinnie Stigma was already established on the scene.  I was playing in little shitty bands that were trying to start out and they didn’t really happen, a few shows here and there.

Wendy:  I don’t know if you feel the same, but I think when you’re a woman you kind of feel as a musician you have to do it even better than a guy, that if you make one mistake everybody’s going to notice it.

Jet:  You get judged because it becomes a dude thing, and I didn’t like that.

Kitty:  I came up with a defensive element.  So I don’t have to compete with theses bass players, I say look, I’m a bass player, I’m a drummer’s bass player.  I don’t plan to be an elaborate bass player, but I keep good timing and I enjoy it, and I am more of a songwriter who plays baas rather than a bass player who writes songs.  I pride myself in being a songwriter above everything.  I like playing bass, but I am also a song writer, a lyricist since I was a  kid, and that is what got me going.

Jet: I actually got going from listening to early Runaways’ records.

Wendy: I was writing since I was six years old. 

Jet:  I wanted to punk the hardcore scene.  If they were against having gay people on stage, I would have had a gay person on stage.

Wendy:  Are you kidding” There was a lot of anti gay sentiment in hardcore.

Jet:  Whatever they didn’t want I was going to give it to them.

Kitty:  I’m rebellious like you, that’s why we get along.  You’re telling me we have rules here, oh, no!  I have no rules.  My mom told me I had to wear blue jeans, I never wore blue jeans, because she said I had to.

Wendy: I felt the same way.

Jet:  My mom cut my hair, because she didn’t want me to have long hair, so the next day I spiked my hair, wore wraparound glasses and I white suite I bought at Trash and Vaudeville, and she was like, you can’t go around the neighborhood like that.  You didn’t like me hair, well, now I’m punk rock!  I was going to Max’s….

Kitty:  I wish I had known you back then.

Jet: I was shy.

Kitty:  So was I. That’s probably why we never met.

Wendy:  You shy”  You picked me up in a limo the first time you came out with me.

Jet: I did?

Wendy:  We went to this club the Eclipse to see some band, I think, the Membranes.

Jet:  So now we move on to the rainy day.  We were finally getting it together.  Bobby was ecstatic.  Bobby loved kid.

Wendy:  Did you have songs before you joined.

Kitty:  I had songs..I brought a few songs.

Jet:  The first song you brought was “Bombs Away.”

Kitty: And “Atomic Punk.”

Jet:  When we started auditioning singers, many guys came in and then this one girl in a green drab raincoat came in, a farm girl from middle America and she sounded crisp and clear. 

Kitty:  She had very good diction.

Jet:  And we kept on telling her, do it louder, and then she was screaming louder.  And then the vein popped out on the side of her neck and then it  really sounded good.  She asked what we thought and we were like, that sounds right.

Kitty: I really liked her.  I thought she was very personable.  She was like Dorothy from Oz, because she was from Kansas.

Jet:  I didn’t care about that, I cared that she was emotional and she was giving it everything she had.

Kitty: She had a great attitude and was very friendly. And she always had a smile on her face.  Like there was something going on, this woman was always smiling about something.  {pause} I thought I met the other half of me when I met Jet because we were similar in what we wanted out of music.

Jet:  We liked to wear nice clothes and..

Kitty: Doing a stage show, because not a lot of people wanted to do crazy things on stage.  I didn’t want us to just stand there.

Jet:  I wanted to see a band where everybody was dressed like a band.

Kitty: We wanted to have chicken blood all over the place and everything.

Jet:  We had an idea of putting a little bit of blood around our faces.  So I thought she {Kit} was going to show up with a little coffee cup and she shows up with a five gallon bucket of ..

Kitty: It  was a big jar.

Jet:  It was a bucket. And you came marching up the stairs, and said, “I’ve got the blood.” She came not only with blood but with guts.  And then she goes in the bathroom with Caroline’s pristine t-shirt which really wasn’t rocking with us, because she had the black pants and the high boots, but we had to do something about the white t-shirt.

Kitty:  I had in my mind what I was gonna do.

Jet:  She said, we’re gonna do some artwork.

Kitty:  Stuck her hands in the blood and put them all over her t-shirt.  I used to put the blood and the guts on my head.  I used to hang it on my head and when I played it would shake off my head and I would fling it into the audience and the girls would scream and I would go, that’s even better.

Jet:  You fucked up the girl’s bathroom every time.  You were drunk, Caroline was drunk, you went in there with the blood and you were smooshing it all over the place and there was blood all over the floor and girls were going into the bathroom, going Oh, my God! What the fuck!  I remember you opened the door, and I was like, what’s taking you so long and you were like, I’m finishing with Caroline and there was blood all over the floor.

Kitty:  Whenever anybody would put a question to me about what I was doing, I would say it was punk.

Jet:  That’s what I said when I ran round Wendy’s block naked, I screamed, “Punk Rock!”  The funny part about it was everyone was outside in the hallway looking for me and no one was in the apartment to hear the bell.

Wendy:  That wasn’t true, no one heard you because of the music.

Jet:  No one let me until this one lady came in…

Kitty:  They probably didn’t let you in because you were running around naked.

Wendy:  Days later, Paul {bassist for the Betrayed/the Oppressed and singer for Antichrist Newsboys} was in the elevator and some kid was pointing to him, saying “that’s him, that’s him.” And we realized they thought he was you.

Jet:  He got framed for my shit.

Wendy: So getting back to the band.  Do you remember what your first show was?

Jet:  It was at A7.  We rehearsed like a military unit to get ready for it.

Wendy: The show I reviewed in Guillotine, was that your first one?

Jet: That was our third show.

Kitty: We have so few pictures.  I regret that, it would have depicted that time. 

Wendy: That was because you were living in the moment.

Kitty: Yeah, who would know thirty years later I would be wishing for pictures from those shows.  A lot of times I wish I could go back in time and ask one of my brothers to just film us.

We got offered to do the Rotten To The Core album with Ism and Butch {Lust and the Hypocrites ]  We became good friends with both of those guys.  

 

Wendy:  So where did the band go from there?

Jet:  There were issues in the beginning where I was really concerned.  Things got misunderstood, because there was a recklessness happening because egos that weren’t properly placed.  Nobody ever gave Bobby or Caroline that kind of recognition.  They never knew me.  They only knew you.  I just had this focus of what I wanted to do.  So when Bobby started getting this recognition of what everybody was saying about him being a terrific drummer and going up to Caroline and stuff like that, I was saying, this is not the time for acting crazy and getting high and getting drunk.

Kitty:  We were young though.

Jet: I was getting high too, but..

Kitty:  I did the least because I was into power lifting and was in competitions.

SIDE ONE OF TAPE ENDED.

SIDE TWO BEGINS

 

Jet:  So everything went L7..bringing it up to date.. Kit is the diplomat because the recent gig wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for her. She did all the negotiations between Caroline and Bobby. He wouldn’t play without her.

Wendy: Finishing up with the past, you decided to leave the band?

Jet:  I didn’t leave the band.  They decided that I was Hitler.

Kitty: Jet’s personality clashed with them.  They were not on the same wavelength as him and they gave me an ultimatum.  They said, look, we’re gonna continue playing, we really like you and we want you to play bass with us.  But Jet was like my best friend and I didn’t want this to happen.  Jet and I had a relationship and it didn’t work out and they used that to get me to leave with them.  They talked me into coming with them and playing with them and that playing with him wasn’t in my best interest.

Jet:  Was that musically or personally?

Kittty:  Both, because it was stressing me out to.  There were certain elements were happening.  I was just very confused at that time and I was so torn.  I told the guys, come one, give him a chance, because Killer Instinct is a great band, don’t do this.  I tried talking to them, but they were pretty adamant, they didn’t want it anymore.  They didn’t want to play with Jet anymore.

Jet:  One of the things they didn’t like was because I rehearsed the shit out of them.  Because my thing was, if we’re gonna get on stage, we’re gonna get on stage as a tight unit.  And that is what made everybody feel good about this band.

Kitty:  We were one of the tightest bands around because we worked on parts over and over ..we would work a part like ten times until it was perfect.  One little section until we were tight and the unit was tight.

Jet:  And that is what made us terrific.

Kitty:  I really always believed in that myself.

Jet:  And that is what they didn’t like, they thought I was a Nazi.

Kitty:  Because it was boring for them.

Jet:  The point was to have fun at the gig.  Rehearsal is for what it is, rehearsal.  So when you played in front of people it is the way it is supposed to sound.

Kitty:  I think it was the way you came at them.

Jet:  I was very nervous. My knees were shaking to be on stage and the only way I felt confident was knowing that Kit knew her part, Bobby knew his part and Caroline knew hers.

Wendy:  The funny thing was, you were playing in a scene where most people didn’t play that well and it wasn’t expected of them.

Kitty:  You’re right.

Jet:  But I wanted to.

Wendy:  But you didn’t have to get hysterical about it.

Kitty: That’s why Bobby and Caroline felt that way.  He wanted it to be so perfect and they were like it’s punk rock.

Wendy: You know how you get perfect, going on stage and playing shows until you know what your band mates are going to do and you don’t have to think about every little thing anymore.

Kitty: Sometimes perfect isn’t perfection.  There is an art to the music.  If you do something different one time on stage, as long as you don’t hit a bad note, no one will know.

Jet:  If you do something so repetitiously in the studio and the rehearsal stage it doesn’t matter if you are messed up or halfway drunk it’s already programmed into you.  There was one time when the band decided to do something really awkward, take a walk over to Irving Plaza, because we had to wait for a bunch of bands to play and we smoked a dust cigarette and we got trapped in an elevator.  Kitty didn’t know what it was.

Kitty: I was so upset and I said don’t ever do that to me again.

Jet:  And we all came walking back like robots/

Wendy: When I was in college I made pot brownies and didn’t tell anyone and one of my friends wouldn’t talk to me for weeks afterward.

Kitty: The best thing that happened was when we recorded in the studio together and we were gonna be on a compilation album and Pat Duncan played us.  For the first time we heard our songs on WFMU.  He played them and it was the biggest rush I ever had.  We were all sitting around listening. 

Wendy: This was The Rotten To The Core?

Kitty:  This was before, when we were doing the recording.  We gave him the two songs, “Killer Instinct” and “Torture You First” to play on the air and he told us when he was going to play them and we were looking at the clock.  He had my band Night Gallery on his show in 2009 and we did a Killer Instinct song, “Torture You First” as a tribute for Pat because he said you have to do a Killer Instinct song.  Mark sang it, it was different but it was great, it had an edge to it.  But that was one of the biggest thrills of my life hearing my bass playing on the radio.  I was like, wow!

Jet:  That’s when things changed for me.  We heard it at Caroline’s apartment, it was on Broadway and she was studying, so we had to be quiet.  Once I heard that song on the radio that was the signal that told me we had to get more serious because if you want to get bigger and more powerful then everything has to be about this.  No more getting high, nothing and that was when I got rid of my drugs.  But Caroline and Bobby..Bobby literally fell off the drum stool, he couldn’t even walk and…

Kitty:  She was going with Billy who everyone hated..he used to live in my living room.  They were both doing junk then.  Caroline lived in my living room for about a year and he stayed with her most of the time.

Wendy: So they left the band because you were too serious..

Kitty:  They didn’t want to do hardcore, they wanted to do more melodic stuff like Husker Du.  They didn’t want to do the more hard edged hardcore/.

Wendy (to Jet): You also had a heavy metal background.

Kitty:  The music did have a metal edge to it.

Wendy: When I met you, you were listening to ACDC and Judas Priest.  I remember running the stylus on the turntable over your Ted Nugent album.

Kitty: I like that stuff..but I never cared for Ted Nugent.

Jet:  From there Kitty went on to XKI.  A lot of people started acting weird because when they went to see XKI they thought it was the next phase after Killer Instinct and they when the asked where’s Jet.

Kitty:  The guitar wasn’t as fine tuned as Jet’s.

Jet:  It was rubbery.

Kitty:  I liked Meryl a lot but she wasn’t the same type of guitar player.  She didn’t have the edge that Jet had and Caroline and Bobby didn’t care they just wanted to do this melodic punk thing/.  I like melodic punk just as much but the thing was I felt like a stab in my heart because I really didn’t want that band to break up like that. I thought we had so much potential, and with the compilation it seemed like we were already getting popular.

Jet:  And then you take the wings away, it didn’t make any sense to me.

Kitty:  And then they gave me this ultimatum, either you come with us or we’re just going to find other people to play with, that’s what they told me.  So I said alright, Jet’s not doing anything, because you weren’t and I said I’m just gonna play with you guys.

Jet:  I was broken hearted.  I gave them everything they needed.   I worked with Caroline to get her vocals together.

Kitty:  Caroline was a very good lyricist.  She wrote most of the words to “Torture You First.”  We chipped in for lyrics.  I gave her ideas too.  Then Jet was trying to start Killer Instinct again

Jet:  With Tana Steele and I had Dead Kurt as bass player and Sal Devo on the drums and Steve Ramone was doing the recording.  Tana’s vocals blew the shit out of Caroline’s.  Sal was a better drummer.  He had a different type of syncopation and he really pissed me off because he couldn’t do Bobby’s beats.  It was too simple for him. So he came up with a different beat that sounded more metal which I didn’t want people to peg us as which was why I stayed away from leads.  I wanted Killer Instinct to be a little bit of a lot of things.  Hardcore but with other elements.  Kit was heavily into punk so that was the punk thing, and this one was into this/

Kitty:  But some of those elements clashed, like Caroline didn’t want to do anything that was too metal.  You were influenced by metal.  I was influenced by other music that was different; I liked some psychedelic stuff from the sixties..and other stuff..I liked the Doors and the Stones a lot when I was a kid.  I was influenced by women in rock.  The Doors were the first musical influence on me.  Then I liked the Velvet Underground, Iggy Pop those bands flipped the switch for me and I said I’ve got to hear more bands like this and that is when I started going to Max’s and CBs and all these places and the punk scene was starting to bloom and I was part of that.

Wendy:  How long did XKI last?

Kitty:  Not long, a year maybe.  I just wasn’t happy with it that way.  All along I was really grumbling, why did they do this?  And I missed playing with you because you were my buddy and I felt really bad.

Wendy: So when you got the second Killer Instinct, what happened?

Jet:  What happened was, we had a tragedy. Kurt passed away.  It was very devastating.  He went from guitar to bass for this band.

Wendy: How did he die?

Jet:  He OD’ed.

Kitty:  We used to ride the train home to Queens together.  Once we shared a pint of ice cream.  Such a great memory.  He was going out with Pat Murder {Pat Murder drew the original Guillotine photo with the executioner for us. Ed]

Jet: She’s still alive.

Wendy:  Fast forwarding to the present and the recent show, did you want to mention anything about how that came about?  When we did the A7 tribute show at the old Knitting Factory in 2008 we were told you couldn’t do it because Carolyn wouldn’t play.

Jet: Kitty had to do a lot of negotiating to make this happen.

Kitty:  Caroline gave me a really hard time for that show, but when that show at the Knitting Factory happened all of us came down except Jet and they were really sorry after seeing that show that they hadn’t played.  They told me afterward that they were sorry that they didn’t listen to me because that show was great and that if it happened again we would try.  And, so when this offer came I said, hey, you guys, you have an opportunity to do it now.  They kind of gave me a hard time, texting back and forth.  We didn’t know if it was going to happen, but we did make it happen. 

Wendy:  It was too bad you couldn’t have done it at the Knitting Factory show where there were over 30 bands.

Jet:  I didn’t know about that show.

Wendy: It was all over the Voice and the internet.  It took more than six months of planning.

We wanted to give people a taste of what early New York hardcore was like and give people a chance to see the bands that never got the recognition they deserved.  You would have loved it.

It was three floors.

Jet:  Kit has to take the credit for the show we did play.

Wendy: How did you first her about that show?

Kitty: Tony T-shirt told me about it. He sent me a message on Facebook and said he wanted to have a reunion show and wanted to know if we would play. 

Wendy:  Tony organized that show?

Kitty:  I don’t think so but he did have a part in getting it together. It was fun.

Wendy: How did it feel playing together after all this time?”

Kitty:  It was rush.  Jet and I got together three days a week before we even got together in the studio.  I came to his house and worked out the music, that we had the right changes.

Jet:  We took out all our little cassette tapes.

Kitty:  We had to go over the music and make sure we had the right changes.  We had to put it all over again.  No one even remembered “Madhouse” and that was such a great song.  I had to teach it to everybody.  I had sample of a version we did with No Control that Carol sang and I gave it to everybody.

Jet:  Then we got into the studio.

Kitty:  We had a month to practice.

Jet: It was still going to be a little iffy, because they hadn’t seen me in a really long time.  I didn’t want them to feel awkward so I was the first one to give them hugs so I figured that would break the ice so that there wouldn’t be any weirdness.

Kitty:  I had seen both of them through the years, especially Bobby because we had remained very good friends.  And we had played in other bands together.

Jet:  I got a little close to losing my temper over including:”Guest List” which Caroline wrote for XKI but I knew that if I didn’t agree she might not play.

Kitty:  It was a compromise.  And people liked it and it defined the musicians in the band.

Jet:  But we will never play that again.

Wendy: After the show, did you talk about continuing beyond this one night?

Kitty:  We got offers, but it seemed every offer I got there was a problem, mostly with Caroline.  She was very busy during all the dates I threw at her. Bobby was very disappointed.  He wanted to do one on Staten Island…

Jet:  She wanted to just come down for that one thing.

Kitty:  She lives upstate and you’ve got to understand that.  It’s not that she is being mean spirited.  She has a daughter and she has a job.  She obviously doesn’t want to do it because it was there

Wendy: Whereto you think you are headed from here?

Kitty:  Fortunately, Tana Steele has offered to sing the Killer Instinct songs and there is no one better to sing and she did a lot of the songs with No Control.  When she was in No Control she did a lot of Killer Instinct songs because people wanted to hear them.  And she has great stage presence.

Wendy:  My final question to you is, you were playing in Niagara which was once A7, besides the stage being in a different place, what was your impression being back there, how did you feel?

Kitty: I felt the aura of A7 come back and everybody there from the old days just made it feel like I was thrown back into it again.  I felt that whole surge of energy from everybody and it was awesome and it was wonderful.  That was on my bucket list, all these years, especially after the first A7 reunion at the Knitting Factory and we couldn’t make it happen, and I regretted it so much and I said that’s on my bucket list to play with Killer Instinct again,

Jet:  Originally I wasn’t going to be able to play that day.

Wendy:  Did you see the audience as being different from what they were back then?

Jet:  Well I recognized some faces, Kit remembers everybody’s faces.

Wendy:  I meant the way people acted.

Kitty”  Everybody’s older, some people weren’t interested in hardcore anymore dressing their age, some people refused to grow up like me and Vinnie sand some others.  Vinnie Stigma is a piece, I love him.  He hugged me when he saw me.  The whole energy was fabulous.  I wish I could just go back in time and do it again.

Jet:  I wish I could have enjoyed the show.  I couldn’t hear one thing that I did.

Wendy:  Do you know how many shows I’ve played where I couldn’t hear anything.  You get used to it.

Jet:  All I knew is that I knew where my fingers had to go.

Kitty: Jet was still recovering from a hernia operation.  He was still on drugs and everything and he…

Jet: I was cancelling.  I was calling her to tell her that my back had locked up and I couldn’t do it, so I took eight pain pills and showed up at the gig. The next day after the gig I was in the emergency room.

Wendy: If there was one thing you could do over again in                                                                                                        the history of Killer Instinct what would it be?

Jet:  Never have said that I was pissed off at Bobby and that I was thinking of getting rid of him.

Kitty:  I felt really bad when I saw a lot of the conflicts happening because I was caught in the middle.  I was the neutral person and I wanted so bad to hold it together and I wish I could have been able to hold it together a little longer because we could have taken the band to a better place.  We could have gone touring.

Jet:  We are going to go forward.  Killer Instinct has to evolve. We will keep some of the old songs and move forward from there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Girl And Her Rejects...(L to R - Andrew, Jeff, Wendy, Tony, Micky)

 

 

 

 

The Cast Of Characters:

M = Micky Geggus

J = Jeff Turner

T = Tony Van Frater 

 

Two years ago when you played Hartford, you mentioned to a friend of mine that you wanted to see the real New York that people usually don’t get to see, like the outer boroughs rather than the usual touristy sites.  My question to you is, did you actually get to see them and how did it compare to your preconceived notion of New York?



M: Well, funny enough like, this is exactly what we wanted to do and this is the first time we got to come back and get a good look at the other boroughs like Brooklyn.  We got to have a good look around and it reminds me very much of home.  It reminds me of the East End of London. 

J:There’s no real difference.

M:This part (referring to Greenpoint and Williamsburgh) is a bit more bohemians like other parts of London.  But boroughs like Queens and the Bronx remind me of the East End, where we grew up in.

 

That’s because this area used to be more of a working class industrial area, but it got gentrified and the hipsters moved in

 

J: It’s like a lot of areas that have been revitalized.  Quite a few places in London did this as well.

M: It’s like the old dockland areas of London that are dying.  They’ve tried to put more money into it and tried to bring some prosperity to it.

J: But I like it.  It’s got a lot of character.

M: Manhattan to me, there’s nothing wrong with it.

J: But it’s like any other major city like Chicago, Manchester, anywhere...they’re all pretty much the same.

 

The Manhattan of today is nothing like it used to be in the early 80s.  It lost a lot of its character once it became gentrified

 

J: London is like that.

M: But this place has a lot of character.

 

So it fit your expectations?

 

J: Yeah, just like you see it in the movies.

 

In your autobiography, you mention the first time you came to the United States many years ago and the crazy outcome.  How have things changed for you as a band since that occasion, both personally and as a band.  How would you compare that past experience to your current touring situation?

 

J: I think it’s very hard to compare.  We were still very young and naive at that time.  We didn’t even know we existed in America.  And when we came we fucked up completely.  We didn’t even know that we were known.  No one even told us that we had sold records. If you put that time then and now, it’s completely different.  Then we were youngsters and we didn’t; know what was happening.  Maybe you need these experiences, it makes you who you are.  You have to go through all the bad to find who you are.  At that time we were lost.

M: We went through a lot of bad experiences. We got ripped off for a lot of money.  We were just crashing at stores when we came over.  We didn’t know what was expected of us.  And now we have people who waited thirty years to see us come back and  play.  We’ve laid the ghost to rest once and for all.  We really needed it.  We got to put the record straight and we did that last Monday.  It was a great show.  We’re very pleased about that and hopefully now we’re on a new footing.

 

I never even knew you came to the US back then until I read the book

 

J: Just as well.

 

The musical direction of the band started first as more of a sound of the streets then veering more into hard rock  or some would say heavy metal territory, as noted for years among the fans and in the press, both positive and negative, but with the new cd it seems to be going back more to somewhere between Greatest Hits Volume 2 and the Power and the Glory period.  Would you say that the Rejects sound has come almost full circle?

 

M: Yeah, definitely.  When it was discussed about doing another album ,  it was Jeff who decided the direction.  He said we’re gonna go back to where we came from.

J: The natural progression.  After so many years, with all the shit that’s going on, there’s more things to talk about, like with the regeneration of what was our area and the things that have gone wrong.  In a way it’s kind of like a concept album.  It was very very easy to do.  That was the sound that we tried to catch.  A lot of bands can kind of lose their way in a way.  It took us a roundabout long time to get back with it, but we finally did.

J: It’s angry in its own way as well, but at the same time you can never be what you were when you were fifteen.  I’m really proud of it.  We have come full circle.

 

I understand, it’s like when I first did the fanzine I didn’t know what I was doing in the beginning.  You make a lot of mistakes before you finally get it right. But to move along - Gary Bushell has been a presence in Oi music from the very beginning and his connection with Sounds helped push the music into the public eye, which had both a positive and a negative effect. Being that you were associated, whether intentional or not, under that particular umbrella of music, do you feel it helped or hurt the band in any particular way?

 

M: Oi, the way I see it, in many ways hindered us, because we never meant to coin a movement around it.  It’s just a word, like  calling someone.  It’s just a song we wrote, a working class thing and Gary created a movement around it.  We’re great mates and we always will be.  Gary created a movement around it and I don’t blame him for it, but we didn’t particularly want the band associated with it.

J: We never wanted to be put into any kind of movement.  We were just street urchins and were doing our own thing.  We never aligned ourselves with certain things. And that’s what happens, you get labeled under an umbrella.  Nothing against those people who did it, but it was never our intention to be part of that.  We were always ourselves.  And it’s done some good.  Since those times there are a lot of elements that have become distanced from it which were bad.  But at the time it didn’t do us any favors at all.

 

When the Business were first playing New York in the mid 1990s I interviewed Micky Fitz about those early days and he had similar thoughts to yours, particularly in the way that Oi was linked with the National Front.

 

M: Oh, God, yeah.  We were always fighting our own battles with those idiots, which is well documented in our film, East End Babylon. 

J: We got rid of them, but then they prey on weaker people. 

 

Just for the record, I’m not implying you were in any way NF associated...

 

J: I know, but that’s what they do.  If you push them off in one direction, then they’ll hover around and try to get on somebody who is.  But they’re gone forever anyway.

 

This is in reference to the book again.  I wanted to know if the book was originally your concept or if Gary approached you with the idea of doing the book.  And, also, how Morrissey came to write the intro.

 

J: The book was something I thought had to be told because there was a message in it. When I was approached to do the book there was another writer on board but he was an asshole and then I approached Gary because Gary knows everything there is and he is an excellent writer.

M: Gary was there.

J: It was between the both of us.  I told him the story and he wrote it up.  Morrissey it turned out was a big fan of the Rejects.  I never met him and we supported him in London at the Royal Festival and he said he wanted to do the forward for the book.  He was a big fan and it meant a lot to him so I said yeah, go ahead and do it.  And I’m proud of the project.  Gary had a lot of input into it as well.

M: Of course he did, he was there.  Every word in that book is the absolute truth. It happened as it was written.

 

When that book was published you couldn’t find it in the United States, so when I went over that September I tried getting it but couldn’t find it anywhere.  Finally I discovered it in the True Crime section of a bookstore in Brighton.

 

J: That’s the marketing with publishers, absolute wankers, they didn’t know where to put it.  At one point I found it next to Johnny Cash in the music section.  Then they put it in the True Crime biography, when it should have been a music book.

M: It should have been in the history section.

J: They just fucked it up.  They took the money and run, but who cares.  When I’m six feet under I hope someone’s reading it out there.

 

I thought it was really well written, one of the best books about that time period.  In the epilogue you referred to a lot of unsavory people you met along the way, a few positive influences, would you care to go into a more detail on what you refer to as "the shysters and stitch up merchants?"

 

M: That’s about 90% of the people in the music business that I’ve met.  I can count on my fingers how many decent people I’ve met, the rest are low life sleezebags.

J: Record company people and tour managers.  Tony Golden and Wilf_____ are absolute creeps, they smashed us like. EMI..all of it.

M: It’s been like that since day one if you’ve read the story of people like Steve Marriot.  Just totally ripped off, betrayed and left on the scrap table.

J: We’ve read loads of books on the subject, you know, the Small Faces,  bands that came up in the 60s and 70s they all got fucked, they got the royalty people just taking their money, using them as a cash cow and just abandoning them when they served their purpose.

M: We later found that the contract that we signed with EMI would be illegal today.  It’s such a straight jacket, you know.  It would be thrown out of court today, but that was the times, we weren’t the first to be ripped off and thrown into the scrapheap and we won’t be the last in this business.

J: There’s no point in 25-30 years down the line lying in your bed thinking. Oh, I should have had this, it’s gone, forget it.

M: It’s gone.

J: Give up the ghost, so what, it don’t change you as a person, does it?  Maybe if there had been tons of money about I’d be fucking lining the grave somewhere, you know, like too many drugs, so who knows.  Everything is mapped out, that’s the way it was meant to be.

 

It just sucks the way it never seems to change.

 

M: It never stops,  and it never will not in this business.

And these guys when they disappear they show up somewhere else where they think no one has heard about them, and it starts all over again

 

We recently had an experience where we played a show and the owner (of this "new" club) turned out to be someone who had been ripping bands off for years.


J: Ripped off all over again.  It’s a cycle that never ends.

 

(To Jeff) I know that besides music, one of your greatest loves has been boxing.  I want to know if you are still boxing on any particular level, and if your work in a gym as a trainer or in any other professional capacity?

 

J: I still train, I train twice a week, but I’m too old to fight now It’s something I’ve always done.  We always done it when we was kids, sixteen.  When we went on stage I always did the shadow box.  It’s not a gimmick, it’s just something I do.

 

I wasn't implying that...

 

J: Oh, no, I’m just explaining to people who are ought there, it’s just one of the things we’ve always done.  Yes, I still train.  I trained hard for this tour.  If I can get through the night I’ll be happy. (Laughs)  But it’s always been a great love and hopefully we can go to Gleason’s tomorrow, which is a big bit of history, you know what I mean.  New York, we was always brought up on the great American fighters, and obviously Madison Square Garden and the likes of Sugar Ray Robinson.

M: Stillman’s Gym.

J: Yeah, Stillman’s Gym and all that, it’s great.  This is the home of it as well.

M: Imagine if Jack Lamotta was down there somewhere.

J: If Jack Lamotta was here.  He’s still around, isn’t he?

 

So you were doing some boxing as well (to Micky)?

 

J: Yeah, Mick, he boxes as well.  We both box.

M: We sorta  grew up into from where were from like I suppose a lot of kids in the day did from around here.

J: it was good.

 

I know that you recently completed a documentary that was released in England , and you’ve continued to use the term Babylon and have references to it like "East End Babylon" or "Where the Hell is Babylon", in terms of a context -what exactly do you mean by Babylon? Is it the biblical reference or is it more to do with the whole reggae influence in the UK that coincided with the origins of punk?

 

M: The reason those words were written was because everyone was talking Babylon at that time in the dub and  reggae circuit and it’s been used, there was sort of a dichotomy to it.  We didn’t know what it meant at first and we generally wanted to know where it was.  So since then, Babylon has become a mythical place, like what’s the deal, can you put your finger on what it is and what it means, like East End Babylon. The film itself we’ve told a story, put a finger on the pulse  of what the East End is.

J: It’s about some of the lives.

M: It’s about finding the truth to this mythical place.  Do you ever find it and do you ever get there. I think in the film we actually do in the end.

 

Is the film going to be released over here at some point?

 

M: We’re working on it.  A friend of ours is helping us to get it out there and we’re looking at some cinema relations here and there will definitely be a debut release.

 

This next question is regarding your original bass player Vince who last played on the "Lethal" LP - are you still in contact with him and will you ever get back on stage with that line-up again?

 

M: He’s come up and played with us. He’s done a couple of encores with us.

J: We didn’t see him for twenty years and then he was resurrected. He got rid of his problems.  Yeah, when we’re in London he jumps up, does a few songs, and yeah...

M: We’re all pals.  Tony and Andrew have been in the band thirteen, fourteen  years now and they’re the longest serving members of the Cockney Rejects.  I know people forget that.  They’ve been with this outfit since we’ve come back and their as much a part of the band as anyone whose ever in the band.  Vince is still a good friend and mate, but this is the Cockney Rejects.

 

You know how it is, though... it’s always the first couple of records that everyone remembers the most.  No insults intended.

 

J: Yeah, of course they do, it’s only natural.  Vince is alright, he hasn’t changed.

 

It’s like with Motorhead, everyone always remembers the three piece lineup.  They’ve been playing with everyone in the world for the last ten or twelve years, yet people ask Lemmy "so where is Eddie Clark and Phil Taylor"?

 

M: I know where he is.in .Babylon. (laughter)

T: Where the hell is Babylon?

 

In your most recent record, East End Babylon, you refer to your disappointment over the economic conditions in the working class neighborhoods in England, can you give me some examples of what has been happening and what made you want to devote an album to it?  Are you actively involved with the situation or do you let your music speak for you?

 

M:We have to let our music speak for us, because in England you don’t have a voice.  If you’ve got a view different from the government as it is you’ll be smeared and stifled and shat upon.  Basically everybody from the original East End knows what’s happened , the banks have fucked us, the economy has fucked us.

J: The docks went.  They spent billions and billions of pounds invested in Canary Wharf.  If you go to the Customs House you got the Exel Center but if you cross the bridge there’s no money at all.

M: There’s no investment in our part.  It’s poor.  It’s virtually a bridge and railway track.  Yeah, when the docks went that was the end.  And they took West Ham away from us as well.  And pubs are disappearing as well.   Custom House, which is where we grew up, there’s not one fucking pub left.

T: All over England 120 pubs are closing a week, that’s how bad it is.

M: And the real people are screwed.  It’s not gonna change no matter what we do.

It’s like here, where all the unions are getting screwed...

J: But with the docks, it’s the unions who fucking screwed us.  They took their money for the membership, but when they needed them to stand up and be counted, they took their money and ran.  They used it to buy nice country mansions and left them.  It’s all a vicious circle.

 

Is there anything at all left of the punk music scene in England? I was there in 1981 and it was going strong, but when I went back in 2006 there didn’t seem to be much of anything..

 

M:   Unfortunately it has died.  Downloads have killed a lot of stuff.  The kids are more into the urban scene, it’s so much easier to shout and say a couple of things.  Everything is like backing tracks and the vocals missing.... 

( This next 5 minutes or so was hillariously impossible to transcribe, because all 3 people were talking at once - total chaos -the subject being how all young people today want to do is go on "The X Factor" - the British precursor to "American Idol" and sing karaoke - and how they don’t want to listen to anything original and creative.)

 

On your website you(to Micky Geggus)  mentioned that you had fired your booking agency for charging exorbitant ticket prices to your fans and that you were taking over the duties yourself, can you expound on that?

 

M: We’re doing it.  We took over the process.  We’re not charging those prices.

T: Then they wanted to charge us too like 20%VAT, so they were ripping off the fans and the bands too.

M: We took control over it. 

I liked what you said.

M: It was from the heart.  And when we get back I will be glad to  get in front of the camera again and tell everyone the good news that we got the tour back on, and this one is happening cause we’re doing it, 100%.

 

Any other last closing comments?

 

M: We’ve really enjoyed ourselves on this tour.  Thanks very much.

 

 

 

 

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