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.

                             

In October 2019,  a Psychos record was issued by the Radio Raheem people - consisting of demos and some live stuff. Perfect timing, actually - because we here at GUILLOTINE have had this recent interview with Billy Psycho himself in the wings awaiting publishing...so hot on the heels of this new music release, is about 14 or so printed pages of  the story of the man and his band - no filters and/or bullshit...so take it away, Billy - umm...can you speak up a bit louder, please...???

 

 

.....(tape fades in...) what I was going to tell you was as far as The Psychos goes, me and Stu, the guitarist, we kind of both came from the same background.  We both were kind of like..I split home pretty young when I was a kid and I walked the streets for years.  Me and him met at the bar.

 

What do you mean "walked the streets", exactly?

 

I was a runaway kid.  I was from Staten Island.  I found myself as a teenager in Washington Square Park and I was hanging out with hippies back with what was left of the hippies.

 

When was this?

 

This was the late 70s.  And through them I learned how to, there were ways of surviving in the city, you know, we used to sleep on roof tops and all kinds of crazy stuff and they used to sell pot and stuff.  And later on I got introduced to the punk scene and I went to Max’s a couple of times and as a kid, not giving a damn, it kind hit me, I fit in with it.  Larry, Stu the guitarist...

 

Larry is his real name?

 

Yeah.   We met in a bar, it was a punk bar, and we talked.  I don’t remember the name, it’s not around anymore.  It was on the Bowery on the lower east side.  It could have been the St. Mark’s Grill, I don’t remember.  He was into Heart Attack, when Heart Attack came out.  We came from the same kind of vein.  Like he listened to the Sex Pistols when that came out.  The Sex Pistols, The Ramones, that whole punk scene, we were kind of at the end of it. He played guitar and it was funny, he had some Japanese copy guitar he bought at a pawn shop and me, I didn’t have much experience playing drums, but that was always what I wanted to play.

 

So you hadn’t played before you formed The Psychos?

 

Not really.  Just a little bit in school, when I went to school and then I had a couple of experiences with a couple of people trying out, but I really didn’t have a lot of experience.  I learned more from playing with Larry.  When we started out we weren’t the best band around.  We were learning as we were going.

 

What year was this when you first started out?

 

1980, maybe.   Originally before Roger played bass, we found some guy, he was Moroccan, he didn’t even speak much English.  We met him in A7; I don’t know how he wound up in there.  He played bass for us in the very beginning.  It was me, him and Stu.

 

How did he wind up being called Stu?

 

I don’t know. We had these illusions of like..that came later..like the Ramones..you had Dee Dee Ramone.  I got the name Billy Psycho from Vinnie Stigma.  He nicknamed me that because back in the day we all used to like to smoke a little weed, and whoever had it…we were together and one day he was like, “hey, come ‘ere, come ‘ere, come ‘ere” and he couldn’t remember my first name and he said, because of the band, he said “psycho, psycho” and it stuck.

 

So you named the band The Psychos before actually being called Billy Psycho?

 

Yeah, the original name of the band was Rejected Youth, but what happened was, we had found out that there was a band on the west coast named Rejected Youth and Stu and I decided to figure out another name, because we figured they wouldn’t change their name.  So..we sat down and we wrote on paper all kinds of names and, process of elimination, we came up with The Psychos.  Of all things, you know.

 

By that time were you still living on the streets or did you have a place?

 

I bounced around a lot.  I had a friend I stayed with. He was kind of somebody I just knew. I stayed in different places and squatted.  That was starting to come about.  Do you remember Judy Joa?

 

Actually she is a friend of mine.

 

I met her a little later on and I lived with her later on.  She was very supportive. She helped me out a lot.  But that was a little bit later.  We kind of met Roger.  Roger called one of us, I don’t remember who, and we talked to him..cause that guy Ricky who was playing bass, he was a nutcase.   I don’t even know if he was an American citizen.  I don’t how ever found the A7 club.  We had flyers put up with bass player wanted, Psychos blah blah blah and Roger  got in touch with us.  We didn’t really have much of a name.  You know the scene was really small back then, it was like a family.  You’ve been around by that time..

 

Yeah, but I don’t want to interject.

 

So..Roger came along and he was this kid.  It was funny because he lived with Elio, the tattoo artist.  I used to go and sleep at Elio’s house sometimes.  I just bounced around. I was kind of a nutcase and he started playing bass.  Back then you could start a band and you didn’t have to be really great because some bands were more experienced than others, but in time you got better.  I guess repetition and practice, and we practiced twice a week. 

 

Where did you practice?

 

Originally we used to practice at A7.  During the day, Dave used to rent out space there, then later on, I don’t know, we used to practice at different studios in the city.

 

Did you practice at 171A?

 

No, we never really got too involved with that.  We went there a couple of times, but we never practiced there.  We practiced at A7 then, because we were into The Mob..we hung out at A7 and practiced there and we wound up playing there.  Roger came along and things were pretty good for awhile.  I had tried out playing drums for Agnostic Front when they were starting.  I don’t remember the time frame, but I wasn’t really good enough to play for them.  Robby Crypt Crash wound up playing drums with them later.  It was a big thing with Stu, he didn’t like the fact that I auditioned with them and when Roger later on came around he was with us for awhile and then he decided to audition singing with them, Stu was really against that.

 

In his autobiography he mentioned that you guys were very upset with him.

 

Well, Stu pushed the issue about that because he thought that it would conflict with how he was going to do both bands. For awhile, he did do both bands.  We had a series of things happen where we wouldn’t play for awhile.  I took off at one point and went to Chicago on some road trip with some people.  I was out there for almost a month, then came back, and we started playing again.  And Roger just always seemed to be like in and out and the band was kind of in and out, and then later..I saw Roger mentioned something about Scratch?

 

Yeah, Scratch Tension..

 

We knew him as Scratch Acid..he may have had several names..he was a real nutcase.

 

Yeah, he was.

 

Somehow we wound up rehearsing at his place.  I don’t even remember where the hell we met him.  A funny story..he had a tiny tiny drum set in his studio.  He used to make fun of me, because I was a big guy behind this little itty drum set and he actually wrote “Colossal Man Was A Skinhead”, based on that.  He said I looked like Colossal Man behind the drum kit.  He was really crazy.  It was a lot of fun.  He tried to sing for us, but it didn’t work out.  Then Steve Reiber came along and..he was kind of funny because he was from The Abused crowd; he was good friends with Kevin.  When I was living with Judy, Stu was living in downtown Brooklyn and he had a little one room apartment there.  Steve came along.  I don’t know if he considered himself straight edge or not but I know he didn’t really drink around us.  Me and Stu we were the opposites.  We would drink and Stu did a lot of drugs and I experimented with a lot of different things.  We were young.  Back then somebody had something, most of us were like, sure, why not, who cares, but I don’t that’s kind of how Steve got in the band.  And then, things finally came to a head with Roger and we had this guy Phil, Steve’s friend playing bass for awhile and he was like a real nerd.  I don’t know where he came from or how Steve knew even.  He was like an accomplished bass player.  He didn’t fit in with us (laughs).  Well, it was kind of funny, because here we are playing basic hardcore and he’s looking to be this elaborate bass player.  He was kind of in and out too because we would get Roger to play occasionally.  We went to Connecticut to play with Agnostic Front and Roger played bass.  I’m not sure if it was the Anthrax or another place up there.  It was a pretty small place.  It was on the second floor.  There were a bunch of local bands.  We all played. We had a really good time. 

 

You don’t recall where it was?

 

It was just one of those shows.  It might have been a onetime thing even.  A lot of them places.  I don’t know if you remember the Two Plus Two Club.

 

That was where A7 held its shows in the summer of 1982 when they were closed for some reason.

 

Right and that was like in an empty first floor of a building.  People were having shows wherever they could find a place. 

 

They had an elevator in that club.

 

I just remember you walked in downstairs, there was like a big garage door.  There was a ramp and a freight elevator.  It was kind of like a commercial downstairs.  I don’t even remember that too much, because we never played there.  We went and saw some shows there.  We were like a real crazy band because we would have it together for awhile and then me and Stu would have a fall out and when that would happen we would kind of not play for a little while and then we would get together.  That happened with Steve and Phil and..

 

What were the fall outs usually about?

 

Well either band members, or what we were both doing.  Stu had a lot of crazy ideas in his head.  He would go on these tangents.  He would go through these different drug phases.  He’d take one drug for awhile.  He’d get really screwed up on it and then he’d get off of it.  Then he’d get into something else.  We were plagued with many problems.

 

You mentioned you were living with Judy, but I was under the impression that Judy went out with Stu.

 

That was much later.  What wound up happening was..Billy Milano was around in the early 80s, A7 days and then he was around and then he stopped coming around much and I wasn’t very friendly with him.  Then I started hanging out with him a little bit and then we kind of got involved with him and Big Rob and the band got going again.  We cut that demo with Billy Milano playing bass and Big Rob sang, that was probably the best line-up the band ever had.

 

That was probably the only line-up that most people really knew. They didn’t know the earlier line-up.  But I remember interviewing you back in early 1982 or early 83 when Roger was in the band in some kind of loft or apartment in New Jersey.  Roger said it was your place.

 

It might have been the loft.  I had a roommate.  We had a loft.  Was it above a movie theater?  I had this roommate that was nutcase too.  He was involved in the theater.  He was an artist.  He did a lot of weird things.  He had a couple of lofts over the years.  I stayed with him because we lived in the loft.  I always had one section of the loft and then he was in another section and he had a studio set up.  Was it in Jersey City?

 

I think so…because we took the PATH train and we never took it before.

 

It might have been above the family theater.  Because there was this family theater there and my friend had a dance studio up on the third floor.  There was a big open loft and there were a couple of rooms up there and we would stay in there.  I left the place around that time when Roger was still in the band.  My friend he got into a lot of trouble.  He wound moving out of that space into another space.  Back then people were smoking dust and whole lot of crazy stuff and he got into trouble with the landlord and the landlord committed suicide and they tried to say that me and Stu were involved in that.  They were thinking that me and Stu threw him out the window.  The guy jumped out a window and died.

 

Were you there when all this was going on?

 

Yeah, we were there.

 

Holy shit, you mean you saw him jump out the window?

 

Well, he didn’t really jump out the window.  He was Korean and me and Stu were slam dancing in this loft and listening to music and just doing what we were doing and the guy freaked out.  He didn’t know what to think of us and the guy whose place it was turned him on to whatever it was and the guy wound up opening the front window and he was kneeling in the front window, and we tried to talk to him and stuff and then he just kind of leaned forward and went out the window and landed head first on the concrete, broke his neck.

 

What did you do?

 

What did we do?  We left.

 

You just left him there?

 

Well, the cops came and an ambulance and all kinds of stuff.  We got out of there.  We didn’t know what to do.  (laughs)  We didn’t know what to do really…I mean, eventually, they figured out. No one went to jail.  Nothing like that happened.  There was a lot of crazy things that surrounded us, because we just kind of lived different places and did different things back then.  We kind of lived up to the name The Psychos.  We just did anything.  In between all that the band.. when we had Milano and Rob the band was pretty good. 

 

When was that?

 

83, 84?  Something like that.  We played for a while like that.  I don’t remember what happened to Rob.

 

He was a weird guy.  He was friends with Ditto.

 

He kind of disappeared.  We had a very strange thing happen to us. I went to California to San Francisco at one point because I had gotten into trouble.

 

Do you care to talk about?

 

Well, like a lot of us back then, we were living in squats in the lower east side and I would go to Judy’s house for like some time and then I’d stay at the squat in between.  I was working in after hour clubs as security.  I did it, Frenchie did it….I can’t remember the names..there were so many of them because they didn’t last very long.. the cops would close them.

 

Were they music clubs or were they sex clubs?

 

No, they weren’t sex clubs.  They were just really basic drinking holes and a lot of drugs.

 

I remember a place called The Nursery.

 

Ohhh..The Nursery..that was something different.  That was on the Bowery.  I was there too.  No, these places were right in Alphabet City.  I would work at one place on the weekend and you would get out early in the morning and eat something and go back to the squat and go to sleep.  I was living with Frenchie and Lucifer the dog and (laughs) it was kind of really crazy.  Frenchie lived in another bar and then Jimmy and all of them started working in The Pyramid.  Rabeez and all that…so that was an after hours club at one point, but I don’t much about that place.   You remember about when I got shot…

 

I was going to ask you about that.

 

 Well..that happened when I came from California.  I was dating this girl Theresa.

 

She was the nurse, had twin sisters?

 

Yeah..that was her.  What happened was, I got in a raid in the after hours club and when that happened I went to court.  When you worked in these clubs they were supposed to pay your fines and get you out of trouble.  Well, this place I worked in, they just closed it up and disappeared.  I was stuck. I went to court and they were talking about putting me in jail and all his crazy nonsense and that was right after I had gotten shot actually.   Me and Terry had first started going out and it was the first Christmas we were to be together.  What happened was we were going to spend Christmas together and she turned around and told me she was going to spend Christmas at her parents right before Christmas and I got pretty drunk and went to The Pyramid.  I was at The Pyramid for awhile and I went outside and passed out on the stoop and got in a fight with somebody and they came back later on with a pistol and shot me.  That was a really bad situation.  I woke up in Bellevue Hospital Christmas morning.

 

I remember it was New Year’s Eve when Paul and I went to see you.

 

I spent Christmas and New Years in the hospital.  It was just really stupid when I look back on it because it could have all been avoided.

 

That was how we found out your last name was Griswold, because we had to ask around in order to get to see you. 

 

That was pretty funny in itself, because when I first went in there and people started to come and see me, nobody knew my last name.  It got to the point where if you had boots and braces either a skinhead or a Mohawk the guards knew who you were going to see.  They were sending people right up to my room.  That’s what I mean a lot of crazy craziness… there was so much drugs and alcohol back then.  Doing just whatever they wanted.  It was out of control.  And then you had the straight edge faction that didn’t do anything.  They went off and did their own thing.

 

Straight edge never really took off like it did in Boston or DC.

 

Well…you know the funny thing about New York.  I don’t know a thing about Boston or DC, but I do know in New York the hardcore evolved out of the punk movement and the punk movement was nothing but drugs and alcohol, sex and all kind of crazy stuff. 

 

We had a benefit when Billy and Rob were still in the band….during the early eighties..I just remember different things that happened, I didn’t write this stuff..as I said we were all over the place.  I played in No Control when The Psychos were apart for a little while.  Vinnie Stigma used to get me involved in these bands…I played in Death Before Dishonor in the very beginning when the _____ brothers first came around.  Vinnie was like, go play drums with them, they’re kids, they need somebody.  I said okay, I didn’t care.  We even played CBs once, opening up for AF or something.  They threw us up on the stage and we played with their equipment. Then went on to other things and I probably went back to The Psychos and that’s the way it kind of was. Like with No Control I had a very short stint with them.  They had a fight with their drummer and I was there and I just wound up playing drums for them.  They broke up and Blake formed Sheer Terror and The Psychos were back together.  It’s hard for me to tell you how these things happened because I never really looked back on it and you’re talking about thirty years ago.

 

Since Facebook has come around, I met so many people from back in the day that I haven’t seen or heard anything of in years.  Even talking to you…I don’t remember the last time I talked to you.  With social media that’s the way it’s become.  I had just met up with Elio.  I went up to his place and hung out with him.  And I hadn’t seen him since he was tattooing everybody.  After all that happened when Billy and Big Rob left the band that was kind of the end of it.  We had different people.  We tried to continue it.

 

Didn’t Tommy Rat sing for you after that?

 

That was the very last version because remember, Karl, the kid who sang for The Icemen, he sang with us for awhile, then we had someone else.  You see, the band would break up and then I would try to put it back together.  Every time it was me.  I booked a lot of the shows.  Stu was just anti social, he would talk to you at a show but he didn’t do much.  I was booking shows.  I did the benefit with Sheer Terror for The Psychos.  We wanted to raise money to make a record with Rob and Billy.  We raised some money at this benefit.  Cause For Alarm opened up for us at CBs.. Psychos, Sheer Terror and something Justice…I can’t remember…they played to help us.  We raised money and once again arguments.  I wanted to go to Don Fury’s and record, because I thought frankly if we didn’t go and do it, it wouldn’t happen and it never did happen, because Billy was hanging around with those guys from Anthrax a little bit.  Billy was a big ham.  He was always a big ham. There were some record people and his idea was go out and buy equipment with the money and then we’d get signed to a label and they would put out our records.  We went along with his idea.  Everybody was kind of pissed off at was going on.  We played Danceteria, do you remember that?

 

I have photos from that show.

 

I was so drunk I couldn’t really play.  Billy got pissed off and he was already working with SOD at that point and he just got pissed at us and he went off to SOD and we had another reincarnation where Carl sang.  We had this other guy singing, one of the twins boyfriends, but he couldn’t sing.  He tattooed the Psychos on his head. 

 

That’s dedication for you.

 

Carl started to sing, but Stu didn’t like Carl.  All these problems. The last version was with Tommy Rat.  I liked Tommy because I knew him for years and I didn’t have a problem with him.  From Big Rob and Billy Milano to Tommy Rat we were kind of going in the wrong direction.  And Stu didn’t really care, because Stu’s attitude was it doesn’t matter.  He just wanted to do what he wanted to do.  We were on the skids at that point, so it just kind..I left and went into another band.  I don’t even know where I went.  Stu tried to carry it on and I told him he couldn’t use that name because of me, I’m Billy Psycho and it was my band and I did all the work for all that and you were just a part of it, of course, he didn’t like that too much.

 

Who wrote all the songs?

 

We all kind of wrote them together.  Some of them he would come up with music and late lyrics.  Some of them I helped him write.  He had a write to a lot of the music.  But as far as the band was concerned I always did the legwork for the band. And when we went our separate ways, he kept Tommy Rat around and he found some other guys..  _______ playing bass.  He wound up in The Mentalists for awhile. He changed the name to Tripp Six.  He was heavily into drugs at that point and he was heavily influenced by a lot of weird things.   After me and Terry went to California and stayed in Frisco for awhile, when we came back they were talking about all kinds of crazy stuff.  We moved to Staten Island because we were going to get married at one point and I wound up playing in the Nihilistics for awhile.  I used to go with Paul and go to Mike’s house on Long Island and hang out and then Mike wanted to reinvoke the band and he had some people goofing around and I wound up involved in it.  We played CBGBs as The Nihilistics.  There was a problem with Hilly’s wife because the singer went around Nazi stomping on the stage and that was the end of that.  Then we were The Profits Of Doom.  We all wore executioner hoods like The Mentors and that didn’t last very long and they wound up with Wrecking Machine and Wrecking Machine playing drums and they became Burden of Proof and that went on until eventually Ron came back around.

 

So when you were playing with The Nihilistics, Ron wasn’t singing?

 

No.  He had gone off somewhere.  There was a short period where some tall guy Joe was singing.  It was Mike’s version.  I don’t know where the other guys were at this point.  When Ron came back around and that guy Ajax came around, that’s when I got out of it.  Ron brought Troy back in and they made that Bad 38.  I think that was the first record they did.  I know they made a bunch of records and the first one they made was with the original lineup without the original guitarist Chris.  A lot of crazy stuff. From there I went on to Mental Abuse, because I was hanging around with Sid. 

                                    

Do you have any time line because you’ve covered a lot of ground with no point of reference.

 

I don’t know, 85, 86?  I can’t even tell you because I never kept that good of a track.  Mental Abuse played CBGBs with me.  After I left the bass player. Mike died from a drug overdose and Dave quit the band over that.  And for awhile after that they didn’t play got awhile and I wasn’t doing anything.  I was living on Staten Island with Terry.  And along came Sid and there was another version of Mental Abuse and I wound up playing with them.  They were crazy, 

 

(Side 2)

 

Mental Abuse started again.  They approached me in the beginning and I refused to play with them.  I didn’t want to play with them because of what happened to Mike. I knew they had a reputation of being very heavily into drugs.  I was more of a drunk.  I was a heavy drinker.  I would do drugs if someone gave them to me, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to get them.  These people were heavily into that.  With Mike dying, Dave blamed those guys.  He blamed Sid and Paul, who was the other guitarist back then.  I was afraid to get involved with them.  Then when the Nihilistics whole thing ended, I gave in at one point.  In the beginning it was kind of good.  It was something to do.  I was friends with Sid from the A7 days.  This was probably around 87.

 

The scene had changed a lot by then, didn’t?

 

The scene had constantly been changing.  More and more people came around and you had these different cliques.  The religious people, the Hare Krishnas that got all involved, the CroMags came around and you had Youth of Today, Ray of Today, they were all into that Hare Krishna stuff…that was fine..I wasn’t into it…but then you had the straight edgers and then you had the leftovers like me.. it kind of got very strange..even with Rock Hotel when that was going, the Ritz, you had some big shows going on…

 

How did you feel about the changes that were happening?

 

I kind of liked it when it was small because everybody knew each other, but things changed and as the scene grew and other people got involved, you didn’t know who you were dealing with.  Like if you went to a show and you didn’t know anybody, you got treated like shit because they didn’t know who you were.  It came to a point where it really wasn’t my scene anymore.  I dropped out of it after awhile.  After the Mental Abuse thing, I met these guys on Staten Island and they actually were kids at the time and they knew who I was at the time and they approached me, this was after Mental Abuse broke up…that was the band Sick Society that I was telling you about.  We played L’Amours a few times.  We couldn’t get a gig at CBs because I had gotten in a fight with some friends of Connie, the girl with blonde hair who booked show there and she wouldn’t let us play.  We played some biker shows in Brooklyn, Animal hall and the Iron Knights and we played their clubhouse.  We played the Pipeline in New Jersey.  We were kind of lucky because one of the friends of the band was going to an art school and he was doing recordings and became an engineer.  For a college project they gave him he had to record a band, so he recorded Sick Society on a 24 track recording on two inch tape and that tape sat with somebody after the band broke up. I was 28 years old.  I had been playing music all my life and I had nothing. I had the opportunity to work on tugboats as a merchant marine.

 

How did that come about?

 

One of the kids on the Staten Island scene, one of the kids there, his father was a tugboat captain and we wound living together and he was a roommate of mine.

 

What happened with Terry, the girl you were going to marry?

 

She was long gone.  She went back to the city and lived with her sister.  I lost touch with her.  She moved to Florida. I think she got married.  I think her sisters moved there to. 

 

Before we get into the whole tugboat career, can we go back to the recording you did from the benefit, did anything come of it

 

There was a demo made that me, Rob, Billy Milano and Stu made at Don Fury’s, two tracks.  That was done…I tried to locate the tape, because I don’t know whatever happened to it.  I had it for awhile and then Stu had it was a reel to reel tape..because I had talked to Don Fury.  Steve Reiver got in touch with me through Facebook.  He said someone wanted to press something from the Psychos, but I couldn’t find it.  Then Don Fury asked me if I found anything, because he’s up in Albany now, Troy.  He told me they could remaster anything now, but I never found anything. 

 

When I started working on the tugboats, that’s what broke up Sick Society.  I really didn’t see it going anywhere and I had the opportunity, so I started working on the boats.  They kind of just let the band go, because they couldn’t find anybody else.  It was a good band. That recording we made was pressed on United Riot records recently.  It’s also on YouTube.  That was the last band I played in.  Johnny who plays guitar in Sheer Terror now played with me in Sick Society. He sang, he didn’t even play guitar.  He’s kind of like Harley he can play any instrument.

 

If you didn’t have that recording of The Psychos, then how did one of your songs appear on the seven inch that came with the Matinee book boxed set.

 

That was recorded live at CBs..and I don’t know where he got that from.  Nobody asked me for anything.  I don’t know how they got it. 

 

So back to your completely 360 degree career turnaround with the tugboats.

 

I became tugboat Billy (laughs).  It was a perfect job for a drunk for me.  I worked initially in New York harbor.  I went to work for another company and started working coastal.  We went anywhere from Canada all the way to Florida.

 

So what was that like, it’s a huge change from playing drums in a hardcore band?

 

I started out as a deckhand on a tugboat and got seasick a lot and drank a lot. I bought a Harley and I started riding motorcycles.  I got into a motorcycle club.  I spent sixteen years in a motorcycle club.  That was a whole other episode in my life.  Every once in a while I would go and see a band.  I moved to Philly.  I lived there for about ten years.  Sheer Terror came down and played and I went to see them.  Agnostic Front, saw them and hung out with them, when they had just come back together with that song, ‘From the east coast to the west coast.”  That was quite awhile back, because I worked ten years on the tug and then I went to school and became a tanker man and I worked on a 150,000 barrel oil barge.

 

Back in the day too, when the hardcore evolved out of the punk scene you has a lot of people from the punk scene that were all screwed up on drugs and alcohol….then it just evolved to hardcore.  I missed the old days, because it will never be again.

 

New York is completely different, I don’t when the last time you were in the city, but if you go downtown you’re not going to recognize anything.

 

That’s what I’ve been told.  Even the last time I had been in the city it’s totally different.  It was a time and an era, you talk to people today and you talk about the squats and abandoned buildings.  I’ve seen pictures of the lower east side when it was burnt out, vacant buildings and lots, and people don’t believe that it was like that at one time.

 

That it wasn’t safe to walk the streets.  You would get off the subway and it was like a ghost town, like when you walked to A7 or the Park Inn, they had this crazy Rasta guy that was always smoking week at the door.

 

I used to see ___ from the Plasmatics there every once in awhile. 

 

My old roommate, Gary from Crucial Truth’s ex-girlfriend wound up going out with him.  They used to hang out there.

 

I used to listen to them [The Plasmatics],  the Sex Pistols, the Buzzcocks, X-Ray Specs, that whole punk era.  I came out of that. Me and Larry (Stu) we both came out of that, The Ramones..you know Blondie, they just went a different way, but even them in the beginning.  It’s funny, I don’t know how many people from the old school, our days, are even around.

 

Do you mean alive or around?

 

Both really.

 

Well, there are some people alive, bur unfortunately a lot of people died too.  What was it that you especially liked about the old day, that made it kind of special.

 

Well, what I really liked about it was when it was small everybody knew each other and when an outsider came in they were usually tested to see where they were at. If they were an asshole so to speak they got pushed out kind of.  It was just like the select few, the bands and their little group of fans and we all supported each other, like a family.  Then like anything else when it started to get exposure and some recognition it just totally changed.  You started kids from all over who just didn’t understand how it all began or anything; it just wasn’t the same anymore.  To be honest with you, I regret not sticking it out more because I look at bands like Agnostic Front that I never thought would have become as big as they are, but not the way the whole music industry is today I don’t think they make any money off these records.  They have to tour constantly.

 

I think that is true for most bands, unless the bigger names.

 

But like all these bands, I would assume, Agnostic Front is touring a lot of the time and I think their income must come from that.

 

Merchandising.

 

Well, that too.  I talk to the guys from Sheer Terror every once in awhile and they tell me they have jobs so they go away on weekends and once in awhile for a week, but they’re not making big money.  I haven’t talked to Paul in a long time, but I saw on Facebook where he lost his job and was looking for a new one.  I don’t know, you can’t make a living unless you’re Agnostic Front and you got to really work hard to make money.

 

I think you have to really love it because if you’re in this music, especially hardcore, real hardcore, it’s not a commercially viable type of music.  It’s not even like heavy metal, where there is a larger number of fans and a lot more record labels with money.  But hardcore was always that way.  It was originally more about finding a place for people who didn’t fit in anywhere.

 

You’re right. But it’s hard to balance the two.  I don’t know how newer bands deal with it, because the expense of rehearsal and then work and all this…

 

The only way is you have to work and tour and keep at it but in the end if you don’t have a job that has medical benefits you’re kind of screwed when you get older.

 

It’s true.  That is why when I had the opportunity to get a real job and a career and for me, growing up in the streets and all that craziness, and the last grade of school I finished, and I never finished was eighth grade.  I never finished school.  Who was going to hire me? My last job, I made $80.000 in a year and I only worked sixth months out of the year and I had full coverage and everything.  Now don’t get me wrong, when I started working on the boats, they were hiring people out of jail.  They couldn’t find people to do that job.

 

 What exactly were you doing on the boats?

 

I started out as a deck hand.  I  tied barges up, you know you tied the boat up, you painted the boat, you cleaned it, you cooked dinner once a day, different things you had to do.  Duties that came along with the job.  You could upgrade a little bit, work in the engine room or steer the boat, but I went a different way, I went on the barges.  I didn’t like being around a lot of people and on a tugboat you would have five to eight people, five to eight men, once in awhile through a woman into the mix, close quarters like that for two weeks, three weeks, sometimes four, it’s kind of very difficult.  Not everybody gets along.

 

Sort of like going on tour with a band.

 

(laughs)  Yeah, on a boat in the ocean.  That was why, when I went on the barges, there was only two men up there and if you had a good partner, then it was just you and him, and he slept while you worked, and vice versa.

 

So were actually piloting the barges?

 

That would be a captain or a mate on the tugboat, but I wound up after decking for ten years on a tugboat, as I got older, that’s a very physical, labor intensive job and it didn’t pay great, I think, now you might make forty grand a year, but back then we weren’t making that kind of money and I had an opportunity to go work on a barge and when that came up I took full advantage of it.

 

What was your position on the barge?

 

You have a captain and a mate on the barge, and the tugboat moves the barge around, so you don’t have to deal with anything except tying the barge up at a dock and you load the product, I worked with heavy black oil, we used to load, and asphalt occasionally, and you load he barge and you go to wherever you are going and then you pump it off.  I did that for over ten years too. 

 

How long were some of the trips?

 

It depended on how far you were going, usually a couple of days.  If you were going on a long trip, four days. 

 

What was it like?

 

You go in the ocean and if the weather was nice, you just cruise along and doing maintenance on the boat, whatever needs to be done.  If the weather was bad, you held on tight and hoped that nothing broke.  (laughs)

 

Were there exciting moments or was it very boring?

 

Put it this way, you didn’t want excitement.  Excitement usually means things breaking. (tape got erased because of my stupidity).  Tried to see if he wanted to go out in this weather and this guy said, ah, just go, and they towed us on tow cable on the tug boat and they went in thirty foot seas and this barge got tossed around like ______.  I was sitting in the galley and everything was flying.  It was unbelievable, a disaster.  And the tugboat lost an engine.  We almost wound up having to anchor the barge.  It was really bad.

 

Were you scared at all?

 

I wasn’t really scared. I was sick (laughs)…I was sick as a dog.  You know, you’re watching stuff roll around on the floor and the captain coming up from the galley and saying to me, what the hell and I said, you tell me and he looked at the floor and I said, I’m not picking it up until we get out of this rut.  It’s just gonna wind up back on the floor.  That’s when things happen like things sink, fires, you know, whatever.  Nothing ever happens on a nice smooth sailing day.  It was a crazy way of life.  I did that for over twenty years until I couldn’t do it anymore.  I’m disabled now.

 

What happened?

 

Well, my back gave out from years of lifting, heavy labor.  When I was decking back then in the early 90s, these companies really didn’t care about their employees very much, you go and do the job, whatever it takes and sometimes people got hurt.  My back is shot; I’ve degenerative disc disease, five discs in my lower lumbar spine, arthritis, a whole host of good things.  I wound up retiring on disability.

 

So where are you living now?

 

I live in a little town up in the woods in upstate New York in the Adirondacks.  The closest big city nearest to me is Utica…it’s way up in the country.  I have an acre and a half of land and I have a mobile home, a garage and a shed out back and it is what it is.  It’s pretty tough.  Do you remember Elia?  He lives up about a half hour from the Canadian border.  I went up there..he’s three and a half hours north of me.  Where I live it’s unbelievable, I’m the crazy biker that bought the haunted house in town, that’s how people know me.  This that I bought, the guy blew his brains out in the driveway.  And I didn’t know that until after the fact, they didn’t tell me that.  The townspeople told me.

 

Ever have any paranormal experiences?

 

No..but I think my life is haunted because I have a lot of weird experience and I don’t even drink anymore…you drive through my town and there’s not one traffic light here.  Main Street is about two city blocks long and the only thing in town is a junk shop, the town bar, and the town hall, a little public library and the post office.

 

Do you like being there, or do you miss New York City?

 

After dealing with people for so many years, I kind of became a little anti social myself.  I like being left alone to a point.  It’s very quiet.   I have apple trees in my yard, so I get deer all the time.  I get occasionally, not too often, black bear.  There’s all kinds of critters up here.   It depends if you like the country. 

 

It’s nice to get away from the craziness of the city.

 

I used to come up here camping.  Not where I’m living now, but we used to take camping trips and the next town over from me, when I was in this motorcycle club in Staten Island, the guy who was in the club with me, he had property here and we used to go camping up here and he wound moving here and that’s how I wound up here.

 

What was the name of the club you were in?

 

The Trotters Motorcycles Club, and when I moved up here, I was in another club, they’re out of Brooklyn, you might have heard of them, The 69ers..they are pretty big now, they’re up and down the east coast.  Back when I joined it was just Brooklyn, Troy, Staten Island..but they’re in Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and the Bronx, everywhere but Manhattan.

 

So you can’t ride a bike anymore because of your back?

 

No.

 

That must be depressing.

 

Yeah, it is.  I was in one club for sixteen years and another one for ten and now I’m retired.  I’m out of the bike club as a retired member.  I talk to them every once in a great while.  But there’s a lot of politics in that, that’s a whole other ball of wax.  I have a daughter in college now too.  She goes to a community college about an hour from my house.  She’s been living with me since she was thirteen.  She needed help and because I was disabled I took her in and brought her through high school.  I played daddy psycho. 

 

Does she listen to hardcore?

 

She listens to commercial music and a lot bit of goth music.  I don’t understand the kids today.  They have nothing in common with me.  Their all into the social media and computers. I never had that.

 

If there was a Psychos reunion then you wouldn’t be able to play?

 

I don’t know…some talk, some people asked me.  Me being way up here, I’m four, five hours from the city.    I know some people have contacted me about a reunion but nothing came of it.  There was one version of the Psychos that had Nunzio playing on guitar.  I don’t know why Roger did it, but he booked us at CBs playing a show with him and that was after me and Stu parted ways, and it was me, him [Roger], Nunzio, and I don’t even remember who sang.  It was just some fly by night thing,  But I don’t know, because of my knees. I had a hip replacement already.  When I got disabled, I was sitting around and I gained weight, my health is not the best. Who knows the way things go, that’s why I wanted to do this interview with you.

 

Well I hope you don’t go anywhere, but I will make sure you aren’t forgotten either way

Jeff Two Names and The Born Agains interview

 

How did the band get started?

 

I moved to Savannah from Kentucky in 2011.  I coach youth soccer for a living, so when I got here that was obviously the first group of people I met.   One of our players was our drummer’s daughter.  You get to know parents over the course of the season and we started talking music and it turned out he liked all the bands that I like.  I asked him if he played an instrument and he said, he used to play drums all the time.  It took us awhile to find a bass player to get going, but it really just started from Rev Kevin and I just randomly trying to get something together.

 

Was this the first band for both of you?

 

I grew up in North Georgia and from fifteen years old I was always in some type of band, but most of them were short lived.  The longest lasting one was called The Jerks.  All the members in this band played in other bands, especially the bass player and the drummer.  Their genres of music were a lot wider than mine.  All of mine sounded just like we sound.   Pretty much the first time I heard the Ramones I decided this was what I wanted to do.  I’ve been really kind of narrow in my range with music but it’s what I love.

 

So you would say that pretty much that is the band that generated the major, if not the only, influence on your music?

 

When I started listening, I would say they were the first band that I really enjoyed.  So, what I did from there was listen to the bands at the time that said they were influenced by the Ramones, which was a whole lot of the bands on Lookout Records in the 90s, like the Mr. T Experience, The Queers, Screeching Weasels.  Back then I’d read the lyric sheets and would look at the bands they would thank and read the little notes that they would have on their records.  If they thanked the Nobodys, then I would go and buy The Nobody’s record..and it kind of went from there.

 

That’s kind of interesting.  I know a lot of those bands.  I’ve reviewed and interviewed a lot of them.

 

Yeah, that was my scene and I never really got away from it.  You know, there are different types of punk and I will listen to most of it, but I’m always drawn to more of the Ramones style 90s pop punk, even now when I listen to stuff that’s pretty much all I listen to.

 

What about the other band members?

 

Rev Kev, our drummer, is a little bit older than me and his favorite punk band is The Bouncing Souls.  He grew up in Florida in Tallahassee and a couple of the bands from their scene got kind of big, and it was more of like a grunge sound.  Dan the bass player is into any kind of music.  He is a little bit younger than the rest of us.  He went to Princeton and he studied music, so I think he literally likes everything.  And Michael, our other guitar player, he is more of your No FX kind of punk.

 

Well all of those bands have a common denominator of pop punk to them.

 

We match up really well.  We were all kind of friends first and we built the band from there.

 

So, none of you are actually native to Savannah then?

 

None of us have grown up here, but three out of four of us grew up in the south.  I’m from North Georgia, Kev from Florida and Mike from South Carolina.  Dan grew up in New York and then as a teenager moved to the south.  We all actually have similar stories.  We visited Savannah and really enjoyed it and ended up living here.

 

What is the music scene like in Savannah? As a pop punk band how well are you accepted?  As a small city, do you find that as helpful or harder to move forward?

 

It’s a cool little town.  The big influence is the art college in town and there are a lot of kids coming in who attend the school which leads to a pretty unique student body, and when they graduate a lot of them stay and make roots here.  It’s a lot more open minded than people who haven’t lived in the south might assume.  As far as the music scene, we are one of a couple of punk bands.  We’ve lasted a long time obviously, but a lot of them come and go.  With college kids, once the college kids leave the bands sort of falls apart.  We play with a lot of bands that wouldn’t technically be classified as punk, but we get along really well and it’s actually a fun town to play in.  As far as kind of branching out, we’re all really super busy with probably the most random jobs of most bands that I’ve heard of..Kev is an actual reverend.

 

My next question was going to be about him.

 

He performed the service at my wedding.    He’s just a punk rock rev.  He works with a group that helps the local homeless population.  And then Michael, who actually lives full time in Connecticut now is a professor and then Dan runs a coffee shop in town, so we’re all pretty busy.  Typically, we play once a month or so, twelve to fourteen shows locally during the year and then we always try to go somewhere else during the summer and winter when we all kind of have a natural break.

 

What is Mike a professor of?

 

He does literature.  I don’t know what courses he is teaching now, but we jokingly call him Michael Dr. MD because he has a PhD in literature of some sort.  He doesn’t want to leave Savannah full time, so he’s kept his house here and is renting it out.  It was a job offer that was hard to say no to, so he’ll be up there but plans on making his way back south after awhile.  He’s like an hour from New York, I just don’t know where.  He jumps on the train and goes to the city all the time.

 

So the main club to play in Savannah, where I saw you guys [February of 2017], is The Jinx?

 

Yeah, The Jinx is our home field, which is where we play the most.  There are a few venues in Savannah that will do shows.  Given the size Savannah is we have a pretty good music scene.  There are usually three or four places that we play regularly.  If you’re just looking for live music, there are a lot of options.  There’s just only three or four that would be good for our type of music.  The Jinx is the best definitely though.

 

We went there once about eight years ago and they had punk rock bingo night.  That was the only thing we could find on our first visit.

 

They do that every week.  It’s funny here because it’s kind of seasonal.   We have tons of tourists who come in the summer and the weather starts to warm up.  In the summer you can pretty much find some kind of cover band in pretty much every bar.  The Jinx have a few things they do each week like the punk rock bingo and they’ll have a karaoke which is punk themed as well.

 

What is the deal with the dad band moniker [the band’s schtick is calling themselves “the dad band” -ed]

 

Well, it started with just our name originally. You see the original bass player was also a reverend as well.  The born again part totally made sense back then because it was just me with two reverends. It doesn’t make quite as much sense now, but we still find it pretty funny.  My punk rock name is Jeff Two Names..because I have a hyphenated last name, which is just what people called me.  People couldn’t remember our name in Savannah so they just called us “The Dads”, because Rev and I both have two kids.   Mike and Dan don’t have any kids at all, but we’re still always referred to as “The Dads” here.  So we started writing songs about it.  We kind of made it our schtick.

 

It is certainly kind of unique, because most people want to be seen as younger, and by calling yourselves “the Dad Band” it kind of puts you in an older category by definition.

 

We’ve embraced.

 

You expect to see older guys on stage, so it is kind of surprising.  You don’t seem to act like what you would consider a proverbially “dad band.”

 

We try not to. We regularly practice and take time to write songs that we obviously like.  We try to just have fun with it because you can only do this for so long no matter who you are. For all four of us it works out very good.  It’s an escape and a release from all the serious parts of our lives, which is why all of our songs are more on the less serious end.  We try to have fun for an hour or two when we play and get away from it all.

 

So you steer clear of the social issues?

 

Yeah.

 

The only song I heard that didn’t stick to that concept was “I’m Done With My Brain.”

 

Yeah, that’s one of the only ones.  I wrote that a few years ago. You know, everything you read is negative and when I showed it to the guys, I said we might not want to do it, the lyrics are a little bit different than what we’re usually writing.   I enjoy that song, but it is definitely one of the ones that’s more serious.  It’s not that we don’t think about that stuff.  It’s not like we ignore it or aren’t aware of it, it’s just this particular band, we feel what we are good at not being serious, so we always tend to go the other way.   I guess that all depends on how bad the world is, see what happens.  It is kind of depressing thinking about everything, isn’t it?

 

Is there a social issue that you or anyone in the band felt very strongly about, would you still hesitate to write a song about it?

 

That’s a good question.  I’m a weird songwriter because I will go two months without writing a single song and then all of a sudden there will be a flurry of them.  My wife’s a teacher and obviously my kids are young and still in school, plus with the work that I do with soccer, which is mostly nights and weekends because it’s coaching,  I have a little bit of time in the morning when it’s just me in the house, so that’s when I write most of  the songs.   I come up with a song title before I write anything.  I work from a title, so if anything serious was stuck in my head I would totally write. I don’t actively avoid it, it’s just usually me trying to take the heavy stuff out and be kind of silly for a minute when I write songs. 

 

With Kev being a reverend is there ever any conflict between his religious beliefs and playing this type of music?

 

He used to be Methodist and recently moved over to Episcopalian.   His thing is more helping people and kind of being very positive around everything.  He doesn’t get caught up on the little stuff.  I’ve heard him tell stories, because he’s covered in tattoos and all that.  We are in the deep south, so I’m sure he gets questioned and challenged about being in a punk band, but he’s done his homework and he went to school for it obviously.   He’s not the kind to talk out of both sides of his mouth and he’s just himself..and he’s trying his best to help others. 

 

He definitely sounds like quite the nonconformist.

 

He is a unique man. (laughs) I could tell when I first met him, he’s not your typical soccer dad.  He was a fun guy to get to know.

 

When I first saw the name I thought it was Born Against, like the band, but when I saw it in print, I was like are these born again Christians?

 

There’s only been a couple of times when people thought we were a born again Christian band. It wasn’t awkward, but you could see their face, like what the hell is this?  It was just the running joke of the two punk rock reverends as we already talked about..Justin was our first bass player and he was just like Rev Kev.  He’s only out because he moved to another town.  We kind of like the surprise of the name.

 

I wondered if at times the name held you back?

 

I don’t think so, but if it did, we wouldn’t care. One of the reasons I got into punk rock is you can’t take things for their surface value. The name kind of helps that kind of mind set.  It isn’t a name for other people..it’s just a name that we like.  We’re not going to change it unless we want to.

 

What is the significance of Petey? [Quite a few of the band’s songs are written about a former bass player named Petey. We actually got to meet him when we saw them perform at The Jinx in 2017 in Savannah—ed] Usually most bass players don’t achieve such notoriety.  How did he achieve such notoriety and how does the real Petey deal with this?

 

He’s a cool dude.  When Justin the first bass player left there were a couple of shows booked, and our friend Greg, who owned the place where we practiced and is a phenomenal bass player, filled in.  He’s not really into punk bands, he’s more technical borderline metal loud rock and roll but he filled in for a few shows.  We didn’t know Petey that well. He’s a pharmacist in town and he’s totally into the same punk rock that we’re into.  When we found out he played bass, Kev and I cornered him and told him he was the new bass player and we were gonna start practicing and he agreed.   Because he’s a pharmacist his work calls for scrubs and the first Petey song was “Petey Doesn’t Own A Ramones T-shirt” [a classic tune btw-ed]  I wrote it in practice as a joke, because I saw him wear t-shirts of every band I heard of and ones I didn’t, but not the Ramones.  He’s literally either in scrubs or a band t-shirt and I asked him why he doesn’t wear a Ramones t-shirt and he said he didn’t own one.  So I wrote that song for the next practice and it stuck.    He’s a really cool guy and one of our good friends, but he’s just really shy.  At that time he was our third bassist, so there was our running joke on stage that we don’t have a bass player.  We refused to name who the bass player was so we would just call them bass player.  Most of this was inside jokes, but in our heads, it was really funny.  We wanted everyone to think it was about some random person named Petey, not actually the guy standing on stage playing bass.  But it was funny, one Petey song led to another.  We have four that we recorded, and we called it the Pete ep which we also cracked up at, “Petey Doesn’t Have a Ramones t-shirt”, “Petey’s Got an Ulcer” and then “Petey’s Mad At Me” which is a true story.  Then “Petey Tried To Move” because he moved from Savannah to Atlanta, which is four hours away and is kind of too far to commute or anything.

 

When we saw you play at the Jinx you mentioned that whole story.

 

He moved away, but as soon as we got Dan practiced up and ready to play bass he moved back.  It was all because of jobs.  He got a new job in Atlanta, and then he got a new job in Savannah and moved back.  So when he returned, we wrote a song “The Return of The Petey.”   There was one where I was going to have every musician contribute in town because he’s really well liked and we were going to call it “Rest In Petey..it was about him moving away, but if you read the lyrics it sounds like he died..but by the time we had it ready, he moved back.   He pretends that he hates that we write songs about him and it’s actually pretty fun.

 

The time we saw you he was actually there on stage and you had this wrestling belt and took it away from him.

 

He’s into his wrestling.  That was his thing, on the last tour we did with Petey, he wore the wrestling belt every day, no explanation, he just had it on. It was his tour thing he said.

 

So he got his belt back then?

 

It was a big theatrical removing of the wrestling belt, passing the torch.  He got his belt back.

 

Are you the main songwriter?

 

I do probably 90% of it and then what I’ll do is, I’ll take a shell of a song to the other three guys and I’ll show them the parts and say here are the words I have.  Nobody usually adds much to the words but the music we kind of play it together and everybody has some input to the structure.   Once we’re kind of happy with it we just practice it a million times in a row.   We use one of the phones and just hit record and then kind of go from there.  With Michael in Connecticut, the three of us will get together and do that same process and send a version of it to him. 

 

 

You have a highly unique relationship as a band with the songs and the way you project yourselves.  When we saw you in Savannah that connection extended to your specific audience, do you have a problem conveying this to other places outside of your area where they don’t know your in jokes and personal connections, like with New York it’s a tough audience if they aren’t familiar with your songs.  How do you deal with that?

 

It helped because all four of us were friends before we did music.  As each person moved into town, we got to know him and we really get along.  A lot of bands will not talk during long car trips or a week with each other but we actually like being around each other so that part helps.  I guess my wife kind of says it best, it’s almost like a lack of awareness if people are not into it.  When we played in Philly, the place was awesome and we really liked the person we were working with. We played at Century, this little neighborhood bar in south Philly..I think our thing is the people who like us are gonna have fun and if they don’t like us it’s not gonna bother us that much.  We really enjoy what we are doing and we wouldn’t do it if it wasn’t fun.  We’ve never felt nervous and we probably should have a few times, but we never do.  We’re gonna do it if there’s four people there or if there’s 104 people there.  We try to do the same show no matter what. 

 

If you see the audience not responding what do you do to break the ice?

 

There have been quite a few of those where the audience is not feeling the jokes or the music, but there’s always a few that like it and that’s who we play for.

 

Well you come across as a very inclusive fun band, the kind that makes you want to get up and dance like The Ramones and The Queers.  Anything you want to add to this?

 

You guys make it fun to do what we’re doing..even when we met you in Savannah it makes it a whole lot of fun..so we appreciate your enjoying the little silly thing we are doing here.

 

Do you have any expectations for a future?

 

The four of us are pretty similar in how we feel.  We are very happy with what we are doing and if nothing changed we would still really enjoy it, but I think really all four of us at some stage we would like to record for real.  All four of us would like to do an actual album and put it out on vinyl.  I think if a label wanted to do it that would be great.

 

 You don’t do much touring except seasonally?

 

We all get a break around the same time in winter and summer. I don’t know why we do this but in winter we go north and in summer we go south.  We never go for longer than a week, that’s how much time we can be away from everything. We try to consistently go and do little weekend shows.  We played the Savannah Stopover this summer.  We’re also talking about maybe going north again. We enjoyed playing New York and we’d love to play it again, so we hope to do this before the years over.

 

 

 

                    War On Women

            INTERVIEWED: Shawna (vox) and Jen (guitarist, not pictured)

 

 

This is my first time seeing War On Women, so could you give our readers a brief history of the band?

S:  Sure, in 2010, Brooks (pictured with Shawna above) and I, which is the other guitar player, we wanted to start a heavier band and an overtly feminist band, so we did.  We started demoing songs and getting other people that were willing to play with us and that’s how it started.  I think our first show might have been early 2011.

 

So the people you have in the band now are the original line up?

The guitar player worked here last summer and they were available and it worked out so well that everyone was cool with it becoming the band.

 

So when you look for someone to join the band, do you have similar views or ideals?

I’m still not even a perfect feminist, but I try and so as long as everyone in the band is trying and open and like gets it then any little thing that comes up is just an easy discussion and not like a major conflict or anything.  But we also need people to be able to play the songs and these aren’t the easiest songs in the world to play.  They both matter.

 

What is it that makes these songs so difficult, isn’t the time structure or the progressions?

Jen:  They’re pretty technical.  They’re shredding songs on guitar and drums.  I enjoyed it and found them challenging.

 

What led you to take a more aggressive stance when forming War On Women from your previous bands.

It was just the political climate.  I was just tired of saying anything.  I wanted to say something.

 

Was there some key incident or moment when you said to yourself this was the direction I wanted to take?

No, I’ m sure it was something small that broke the camel’s back.  Too many little things built up.

 

You formed the band with Brooks (guitar), was he also someone who felt a commitment to feminism?  And also in conjunction, as an overt feminist band, it seems a little unusual to have members who are not women, in that it can be construed to give mixed messages, that an all women band might otherwise avoid.

Not really.  We were both aligned in our values and our views and what we think was right and wanting to fight for equity.

 

So the feminism element is your political views,  more of a conceptual issue for this band?

It’s all under the same umbrella of feminism.  You can think of literally any political issue and it will affect women or transfolks or nonliner folks in a different or specific way.  So everything can be made into a feminist issue.  There is always a feminist analysis whether we’re talking about economics or clean water or a living wage, like there is always a feminist lean on it that needs to be addressed and explored by having more women in the room making decisions.

 

How would you define feminism?

As just equity between all genders.

 

Do you see the band and your music as a platform for your socio political [feminist] views, and in this context is the message more important than the music to you?

No, I find them both equally important.  I don’t want to deliver a message of anger when the music doesn’t match it.  That’s just our idea behind the band, honestly.  There are enough things for us to be pissed off about and we wanted to play music that reflected that. 

 

So in a way it is being used as a platform.

If I understand your question, it was like a deliberate choice to start a heavy hardcore feminist band..we decided to do both things at the same time. 

 

It appears lyrically that a majority of the songs focus on women and gender issues of equality, when writing songs does the lyric come first or do you have the music and then someone comes up with the lyrics to go with it?  I write music and Don writes music for the bands we have been, everyone has their own way of putting together songs, can you tell us how some of the songwriting comes about in War on Women, is it collaborative or does someone just bring the finished product to the table?

It’s basically all of the above.  We try to let it happen in different ways so that the writing process doesn’t get stale.  Brooks writes just writes a ton of riffs.  He just has a library of riffs ready to go at any time and I just collect lyrics in a book and sometimes we have a melody and sometimes he has a riff and it comes together.

J:  Sometimes you write the guitar licks like in Silence Is A Gift, where you actually wrote the guitar and the lyrics.

Which is more rare in this band since it’s hard to keep up with Brooks riff library.  So all different ways.

 

We had a singer in Trenchcoat Army that kept a notebook of lyrics, we used to call it the Hallmark book of hardcore.

I have a bad memory.  I have to write it down or I won’t remember it.

 

No aspersions on you, it just reminded me of Jesse.  So it appears that the majority of writing is shared by you and Brooks.

I would say honestly Brooks has the main ideas, but we do write it in all different ways and everyone has input.

 

With the newer members do they or will they have the opportunity to bring their ideas to the songwriting table as well?

J: Yeah, for the newer songs we had the opportunity to write all of those together.

 

I noticed that reviews of the band list you as a feminist hardcore band but a lot of your music has a heavier sound like hard rock or even heavy metal.  Do you define yourselves as a hardcore band?

I think we do,  because it’s easier t for people listening today to understand what we might sound like if we say that, but I agree, I feel like, and you might even know this better Jen, some stuff is straight up punk, some stuff is metal, some is rock, it’s all in there.

J: I think it’s stuff that has hardcore in there, though it does have some metal riffs in there.  It’s not that homogeneous style of hardcore but..

 

Hardcore has changed from its inception to now.  It’s more metallic than it was, than say 25 or 30 years ago.

Do you feel that being defined as a certain type of music, that it kind of limits you in any way or makes you stay within the parameters of an expected style?

I don’t feel any pressure to stay doing anything based on other people’s opinion of us, but depending on how well this record does, then up until now, it hasn’t confined us.  It hasn’t kept people from listening to us.  We’re just a growing band.   Depending on how well this record does maybe eventually the label of a hardcore band would confine us and we would have to reassess, but I don’t know.  I kind of want to welcome more women to listen to hardcore.  It’s kind of a cool genre to have the word feminist before it.

 

As a band do you feel that the aggressive feminist socio political platform that you present stage do you feel that this is the main focus of what you write about or would you be happy in writing about other issues that might be just as important but don’t necessarily fit into the feminist genre, and conversely are there certain issues that you feel strongly about such as animal rights, environment?

They’re all important to me, but again there is a feminist analysis of every single one of those things.  The forcing female cows to have babies when they’re not ready and way longer than they should.  We’re raping them, we’re inseminating them, we’re stealing milk from them. 

 

So everything you talk about is with the feminist view in mind, what about male bulls that get castrated, how do you explain that?

The thing is when we actually achieve full gender equity it benefits everyone.  Men are absolutely suffering from a patriarchal society as well, so I think I think, again, it’s kind of funny because yes, we’re this intense feminist band, but we are also just a band and I can’t necessarily force myself to write about anything that doesn’t interest me and it’s also the creative process which you can’t always control or predict, so we’re just trying to write songs about stuff we care about and we also sort of have a central focus. And, okay, what’s the feminist version of this.  But I also have a few songs that are about personal stories and people I have known and how do you interpret what happened between us now that I’m older and I know more.  I think it’s all worth writing about.

 

When you mention that you are older now, do you feel that initially you had a certain concept of how you envisioned the band back in 2011, since that time do you see your view has changed?

We started this band to play a show in a basement and so the fact that we have done anything more than that we are incredibly grateful, so all we wanted to do was start band and it happened to have a thesis, that’s all. 

 

Do you ever look back and say, wow, look at all these people have taken our message to heart?

Yeah, all the time. I’m very grateful that anyone would feel a connection to anything I am doing.  It’s a really big deal for me.

 

Do you feel that because of the focus of what you sing about that you have a certain type of following and that it can be hard to reach out beyond that?

J:  I think it’s always great to meet some of the other people who are into what we are saying at the shows, but we have also played a lot of shows, because it is a hardcore show or the Warped tour, we are playing in front of so many people who I don’t think are as connected to our message and our discovering us for the first time.

 

Because your songs have an extreme message have you had any negative experiences during these shows?  Or sung about issues that upset them or made them feel uncomfortable and how did you or would you handle it?

No, in real life there hasn’t been.  We have a song called “Broken Record” that is about street harassment, so when we did that song more, every now and again a man in the audience would tell me that he felt uncomfortable when I was singing that song to him, and normally my answer to that was, “good, then you get it.”  And most of the time, they were like “oh, yeah, okay,” and it was fine to understand harassment from people that experience it. 

 

As a woman growing up in New York City, you at some point experience it, many times.

Oh, yeah, I got it walking over here after dinner, five dudes in a row yelling stuff at me.  I feel if we are pushing buttons then we are doing the right thing.  It is the thing that needs to happen.  They need to think a little more about one, that I am probably not talking to them personally as an individual, but critiquing society at large.  If they are uncomfortable about me being assertive of my rights and being angry about not having them, what does it say about them, like where do they need to go get more comfortable with that or even better, to start to fight with me for my rights.  So for the most part people who have come to see us have been very supportive and appreciative for us to talk about it, they don’t hear enough bands talking about it.  Most experience are great.

J: There is always a lot of hugging and crying at the merch table.

 

Do you feel that if a song negatively impacts women and makes them uncomfortable like your song about rape, how can you justify performing it as a feminism?  Did this come from a personal experience, that you are so vehement in your attack?

I don’t want to get into this, but no one ever personally confronted me who had experience it, but the ones I want to make uncomfortable are the ones who don’t have to think about it at the time, but a lot of women have come up to me and said that maybe the first time they said they were raped out loud was singing to our song and my hope is that it would give space for people to experience sexual assault to be able to talk about it without any shame or stigma.

 

The MeToo platform has a way of dealing with it.

My final question, is your connection with Hollaback and could you explain it?

Hollaback is a worldwide network of activists that work to raise awareness of street harassment.  I founded the Baltimore chapter, so the people who work on it are all local people, volunteers.  We are about making our city a safer place.  We tackle things like that by letting people share their stories about street harassment and supporting people when they do and going into venues and training them to be safer spaces.  That’s my specific.

 

So you do training with people on how to deal with harassment?

Yeah, I do.  I do workshops wherever anyone will have me, as long as they pay for gas money, and I’m hoping we can do more

 

Any self defense tips you can give anyone?

Well, self defense is a little different.  I would not say I am an expert in that.  And if you don’t know what you are doing, you can hurt yourself. So it’s more about empowering people to say what they need to say to a harasser.  Also recognise that If you ignore a harasser, that is still a response that is worthy, you weren’t powerless.  You are allowed to ignore someone who is harassing you; it is a valid response, so you can go about your day.  It is a powerful response too.  If you want to say something to a harasser, you decide when that conversation is done.  You don’t have to convince them of anything or engage in a dialogue, you can just say that was harassment, you made me uncomfortable or hey, fuck off, don’t talk to me like that or whatever and just know that you aren’t alone.  That is what Halobac is for, you can go on our website Ihollabac.org and you can read thousands of stories and know you aren’t alone, that other people have your back.

 

Would you ever consider getting into politics to further your platform?

No,  100% not.

 

Why?

Because it sounds terrible. No one can make a difference in this fucked up government.  I agree with The Onion headline, “The First Black Man gets world’s worst job”, when Obama got elected. I think it’s the worst job in the world.

 

I wasn’t saying to become President, but maybe on the local level?

I am happy with the way I am going.  I am happy to be the band that people who want to change the government are listening to when they go into politics.

 

So far you have put out two lps and an ep, where do you see yourself going forward?

I would like to play some shows in space. (laughs) it would be nice to play some more countries, but don’t try to think too far ahead and letting what could happen in the future dictate what I do now.  We’re just excited that our record came out today and we want to play a good show tonight and again tomorrow night.   And hopefully people will keep listening to us and liking it.

 

One final question, would you see yourself more as a Francis Willard or a Carrie Nation (both women suffragettes and early prohibition movement advocates – ed.)

(after explanation of the two)

Ooh!  I think it more like are you more Malcolm X or Martin Luther King, I think in any social justice movement you need both, you need diverse tactics.  Some people can only hear the message if it is delivered nicely, sweetly, with patience, but in order to really hear that message and appreciate it, that person needs to know there is someone who is there that is ready to pick a fight with them, I think it’s all necessary and I want to say we’re obviously angry and that freaks some men out so I guess we’re more Malcolm X.  But honestly, I’m very okay with violence, when it’s a group of marginalized people’s only last resort.  A little sugar, a little spice, feminism is nice. (laughs)

 

You’re more like Martin Luther King in the interview and more Malcolm X on stage.

I think it’s important for us to show that we’re normal people that can have a conversation, that we’re funny and goofy and sweaty sometimes and that we’re also angry when we’re playing our loud angry music.  It’s all things that exist in every human being and women are not often offered the opportunity to express anger, or at least not in a way that isn’t defined by men, an acceptable level of anger.. so we want to show we can be angry, we have a right to be, there is a lot of bullshit going on, but we’re also just normal people, can be a lot of fun to hang around..and we all deserve to express our emotions.

J:  I just want to add all systems of oppression are connected.

 

That’s quite the shoe dropper. Do you care to explain that? I can’t let you get away without expanding on that one?

We’re gonna fight the good fight when it comes to promoting equity between all genders and we support everyone else who is fighting the good fight on all other fronts.  And we try to be conscious of racism and classism and enablism and transfobia, islamaphobia and all the phobias.

J: Most of us work with a lot of those issues in our other work and stuff too, but even if it’s not a specific issue that effects me the idea of hierarchies and oppression and everyone is oppressed by these rules.

So we are trying to make it so everyone can just be free, be more self, have access to things, have opportunities...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE MOBan interviewwith  Ralphie G...

Has The Mob ever officially broken up or did it remain as a band since its original inception?

 

The band has never officially called it quits. We’ve taken breaks from time to time.  We’ve manipulated players here and there, but basically it’s stayed the same nucleus.  But, no, we’ve never called it quits, and the main reason for that is we’re all childhood friends so the friendship stays with us no matter what, and the love we have for one another is even stronger today than it was.  And you can tell we have never called it quits, because every four or five years we come back for the project we put together.

 

I was going to ask you what you attribute your keeping the basic line up together for all those years, but you’ve obviously answered that question.  You mentioned that you are a Jackson Heights band, but I was under the assumption that some of you came from other areas, such as Douglaston.

 

Yeah, well, let me tell you about that a little bit.  We started out as a Jackson Heights nucleus band, but things changed over time.  I met Jose when we were in the fourth grade.  I met Jackie when we were in little league when were like twelve, maybe a year or two after I met Jose.  Jamie came in later as a high school buddy of Jack’s.  The reason you see some movement in where we were based, and usually it involved where we rehearsed, but we all met living in Jackson Heights.  I lived on 89th Street, Jackie lived on 82nd, Jose lived on 92nd, so really the early connection was built in Jackson Heights and our first rehearsal areas were in Jackson Heights.  Later on, I guess, when Jackie was first in high school his family moved to Douglaston.  And there was some room out there in the basement and my parents got sick of The Mob style garage that we had, so we moved our rehearsal to Douglaston.  He still lives in that house today.  That is probably why you saw that address on some of our records and pictures.  Jamie his high school buddy was from Little Neck and his family still lives there, even though he’s in Jersey now.  So we do have the connection of both Jackson Heights and Douglaston, but the nucleus and the birth was in Jackson Heights.

 

So, when the infamous Pub 74 show, which we reviewed in one of the early issues of Guillotine, happened you were actually still living in Jackson Heights.  I always wondered how I country western themed bard could host a hardcore show.  You and Kraut played that one.  A very drunk Steve Jones was there too.  He stole my black Russian (laughing)

 

You lived there in 1979, 80?

 

I moved there in January 1979.  Lived there until October 1986 when I moved to Brooklyn.

 

So you were there when we were there?

 

Yeah, but I never saw any of you except at the shows.  Yana, Ira, Richie and Geigo all lived there.

 

A lot of bands later came out of there. Anthony Communale was the kid who worked at Ice World, around the corner where I used to see him as a kid.  Chuck, the kid who played in Murphy’s Law who was killed, lived down the block.  He used to come and sit on the curb.  We were the birth of a lot of things out of Jackson Heights afterwards.  Jimmy moved into the garden apartments along Astoria Boulevard after awhile.  It became quite the community.

 

That was weird, because when you played Pub 74, that was the only time I saw a hardcore show in Jackson Heights. There weren’t a lot of hardcore shows in Queens, briefly The Coventry on Queens Boulevard but that was later.  We were thrilled, because it was so close to where we lived. 

 

And they never had another one.

 

I’ll bet they didn’t. 

 

We did a lot of that actually.  I don’t know if you remember Duffy’s Tavern.  Like Pub 74, they had heard of our name, but they didn’t really know what we did, so we would break down the door and attempt to play. It was always successful the first one.  It was just a matter of, will that continue, did they like it enough and did we bring in enough people and were they able to deal with it enough for it to continue.  So we did a lot of that.  We would play anywhere.

 

I remember it so clearly, hardcore breaks into Jackson Heights.

 

What a weird place that was.  We played Seamus’s Pub in Flushing, Camoflauge in Little Neck, we did a lot of those.612  We were one of the first to go out to those Long Island places.  Some were successful, some weren’t, but we didn’t care.

 

The Mob has been together well over thirty years, what keeps you going?

 

Because we have the friendship that we do and think all of us are still motivated by life in general and we like being together.  Those times when we are together we do it in a way that we spend a lot of time together and it’s really the only time we get, there’s not many, oh, we’ll have a barbecue or we’ll meet for dinner, but when the band rehearses and plays these shows and so forth, that becomes our time together and keeps our friendships alive and we still have a lot of music still left in all of us, and we are creating all the time and when we come together we try to make that gel still.  We left a lot of stuff on the table that we still want to complete.

 

So have you released any new material recently?

 

2012 we came out with the Back to Queens record, that’s the last thing we officially released, with That’s It  on the other side.  So ever since 2012, it’s been six years that we put out anything, and before that it was much longer than that. We put out  some garage tapes, demo tapes, that sort of thing, but we try not re-release stuff.  But we have some new material.   (pause while Diane, his wife talks to him) She was reminding me that with the Matinee book that came out, with the deluxe package there was a 45 ep that had a release of Your Time Is Come, live from CBs from ’83.  It was really a beautiful product and we are so happy we played that.

 

I did listen to that seven inch actually.

 

Back To Queens was the latest and that’s six years old already. 

 

What was the whole concept behind Mob style?

 

It’s kind of the scene.  We were part of a very small scene at first, you know, the A7 shows with the group of 10, 20, 30 people and it blossomed from there.  The language, the dress, the trend all the things we were creating,  and you’ll see that I post very often that we are trend setters, not copiers so we don’t duplicate things, we try to set the tone for things and we really had our own language.  It came from busted and moshed and mob style, the whole way the music was played, the dancing that occurred at our shows, our audience was what “mob style’ was all about.  It was our invention, what we wanted to do.  We didn’t fit in.  We weren’t straight edge, we weren’t west coast style, Boston, this, that, punk, we were our own thing, we created it.  It had its own language.  It had its own sound.  It had its own look and we referred to that as “mob style.”  And it caught on and people liked It and we’re gonna run with that.

 

The whole thing with “mob style” , the only time had ever heard that term was when the Urban Waste seven inch was first reissued, because instead of being self-titled, it was listed as “mob style.”  I never actually was able to get in touch with the guy who did the reissue to find out.

 

Well, I explained it pretty well there, it was the sound, the look, the feel, the theme, the way people danced.  We were creating something and that was the name of our record company, Upset the System, Step Forward and the Urban Waste records all came out on our own record label.

 

I didn’t know that, if you remember we were feuding with Urban Waste at that time, as silly as that sounds now.

 

We put out those records on our own dime, of course, we were out in the back, we went to printers, we dye cut the covers ourselves, we glued them, we inserted them, everything, just like the other bands at the time, the DC bands were doing.  We saw what they were doing and we emulated that.  But instead of Dischord, it was Mob Style. 

 

Did you guys ever do any extensive touring, or was it more locally?

 

We may have been the first to have taken it up and down the east coast, to at least the Midwest.  We were one of the first bands that were invited to go other places, so we went right away.  You can see the flyers for us going to those shows in 1981, 82, 83.  We never went all the way across country, out to California but we made it out as far as Chicago and to Miami Beach and Maine. We were in Philly and DC all the time, because we were friends with all the bands from the east coast.  Early on, we definitely took control of our shows and we would build the bills and not rely on the clubs and the promoters and promote them ourselves.

 

Would you consider doing major touring again and going all the way to the west coast this time.

 

We would probably wait until we were all retired, but we’ve contemplated it a couple of times and I wouldn’t be surprised if we do it.  I have a feeling we could fly out to the west coast and do a quick run of the west coast soon.  You never know, we would consider it, yeah.  It will never be a thirty day thing. It would be short spurts.

 

What about the big festivals in Europe that a lot of bands do, was that ever a consideration?

 

That might come and those again would be quick runs.

 

Have you ever been approached, say to play Japan?

 

All the time.  It’s just a lot and we wouldn’t want it to be anything but utmost mob style.

 

I guess when you are younger it’s a lot easier because you don’t have the commitment of a job and family that you often do later on.

 

We have commitments.  We all are to a certain level successful in what we do.  We do this for the love of it and as soon as it becomes too much work for us then we go on one of those long hiatuses that we do all the time, but we would love to do a couple of festivals and it’s in the cards for us but we don’t have any plans right now.  But we are going to do some shows later this month, but we’re putting together a Philly show and we’ll probably do a couple of others.  We have material we want to release.  We want to put out a couple of more singles, another full length, a video, but that’s stuff we can do locally.  We want to concentrate on some product then we can do some of that other stuff.  But you know, our material is very old, young kids don’t really know the history of The Mob and that sort of thing, and there are ways to get new material out, and then expose them to the older stuff too.   Who wants to go play a 10,000 person festival where only 200 people upfront know who you are, you know what I mean?

 

I’m not a big fan of arena rock, especially after seeing The Misfits at the Prudential Center.  It was great seeing them with Glenn, but I would never do it again.

 

The only people I want to see at The Prudential is Judas Priest.  Or a game.

 

When you do shows do you think more of the older people coming or are there younger people as well, and does the composition of your audience affect how you present yourself or your performance?

 

We have the same approach.  We’re basically doing it because we base it on the old days of what we enjoyed and what we know the crowd enjoyed.  We don’t take the audience much into consideration,  we just want to rock out.  Because we have our own style, we are very unique today, so we are just going to continue down that path.  Our style is very exploratory, we go in a lot of different directions, you heard us, we’ll pop in with a little reggae, we don’t care.  We’re going to play what we want to play and if it has to be in those small clubs with an audience of 200 that’s fine with  us.  We don’t have those grand expectations of arena rock that you talked about.  We’re a punk rock band, that transitioned into hardcore and that sort of thing and we like to keep it that way.  Our audience is older, as you have seen, and the older crowd is very dedicated to us, they know the songs, they talk back to us, they’re interactive, they get out there and they’ll mosh for two songs, take some oxygen and some beers, they enjoy themselves.  I am seeing, and we haven’t played enough to tell, but what I am seeing is that the middle crowd is not there, but the younger crowd is. So we have the old people who have been with us forever and these very young people who are just into this rpm that we put out, they want to hear that.  Because they are the ones for the past fifteen years that have been listening to these black t-shirt mall punk bands and they are newly discovering bands like Black Flag and the Bad Brains, that had this different sound that were basically punk rockers playing faster rather than these bad heavy metal bands  with bad singers that turned into hardcore bands.  It is a different audience.  That’s not our audience.  We have the old heads and I’m seeing the very young, so young that they write me and say, I can’t get in that club.  So we’ll do a couple of those two.

 

I was going to ask, for this younger generation of hardcore, is there any advice that you would give to them?

 

No, I have no advice whatsoever except to be unique, find your own style and do what it is that you want to do, don’t fall into the trends.  Everyone has to follow their own path, you know, mine is mine and theirs is theirs, and they have to discover it.

 

So if someone came up to you and said they wanted to start a hardcore band, what would be your reaction?

 

I would say the same thing that HR said to me when I was sixteen, practice every day.  The key is being great when you are a musician, and I think the same holds for any product you put out.  You’ve got to practice.

 

We were at this show back in January and there were four relatively new hardcore bands playing and this young kid asked me advice on how to do a fanzine.  It was kind of weird, because when I started Guillotine, I just saw other fanzines and decided to start my own so I just did it by trial and error.

 

What did you tell him?

 

I gave him my contact info if he needed it, but I told him that you just have to get out there and do it.

 

The key to be great when you’re a musician and I think they same thing holds true for any kind of product your putting out.  You want Guillotine to be the greatest rag on earth, right?  Take the greatest pictures, interview people no one else can get…I would tell a band you got a practice, you can’t just go out.

 

I told him that when I first started I was lucky because I got advice from Lyle of Damaged Goods on veloxing [half tones] photos, otherwise the pictures would just come out as blobs. I told him he was lucky, because today you can do everything on the computer whereas then it was all cut and paste.  I loved doing it that way, but if I did cut and paste now, forget it, no one would take it.

 

But this kid will never get to experience what you did, taking those issues to a show and handing them out.

 

That is why we decided to go back into print, there’s nothing like going to a show with the new issue and all the work that you put into and everyone wants to buy a copy…it’s great playing on stage, I’ve done both, but there’s a different feel when you’ve done your zine and you feel like you’ve actually done something. Doing it online is like playing your music to a computer, because there’s no interaction.

 

No personal sweat.  The internet has its great aspects and so forth and computers have been my business all my life but it takes away from the humanity of so many things in life.  And that’s why  just spend limited time publishing pictures that people want to see, because I have to go out there and get dirty and I have to talk to people face to face. I just see too much waste going on out there.

 

With that in mind, when you play a show what are your personal feelings when you are up stage, what gives you satisfaction?

 

I love the adrenaline.  When I hear the band clicking to those first couple of bummers and I make my way out there a minute the kick in, I turn into a different person and you know, a lot of people would say I’m the same person but I just feel differently. I’m not really reacting life in any way.  I’m just reacting to me and my friends doing the music we still make together and the reaction is pure adrenalin, pure aggression and a feel good.  I see the people out there dancing and smiling, give me fist bumps, I get such a thrill out of that.  And it also gets in a state of really unconsciousness spew my message.  I’m not coherent up there. I’ve done 200, 300 shows, especially early on, The Mob played every week, I am not coherent of any single moment on stage of any of those shows.  And if I could have been drinking, drugging, straight. I just have no memory of any single moment.  It’s like I’m unconscious, but then I watch the video and I go, okay, it looks calculated.  It is exactly as I envisioned it to be.  I think back on it and I give it this thought, and I think, Max’s Kansas City, do I remember any moment when I was on that stage and no, I don’t.  I remember the shows, the people, before and after, but I don’t remember a single moment when I was looking at that audience, because the adrenaline is so high and so much sweat is going into it and it’s just you and the audience and you’re communicating it. Hardcore and punk is so physical that it’s like playing a nonstop basketball game.  I don’t think those guys would remember anything from that championship game.  I remember the thrill of enjoying it as a whole entity.

 

Sometimes when you are on stage you say something in the passion of that moment, and it is just in the heat of that moment, that instant, and as you say you don’t recall the circumstances but afterward, the people in the audience they do remember it and they call you out on it and that thing you said on stage follows you long afterward, has that ever happened to you?

 

No, you know, but I’ve seen it on the internet and that tool has probably caused a lot of problems.  I’m lucky that my worst moments were not caught on video because I was much more angry and vile and I said probably more wacky things back in the early 80s.  And I keep it pretty on the up and up and positive and I have my audience there and I don’t usually get into either mine or the politics of the time, I do that through song, but no, I haven’t had that moment, but you’ve probably seen the same things I see, you know, so and so played Philadelphia and he said this.  Those motherfuckers can say whatever the hell they want and when I do I’m not gonna fret about it.  I saw that about the Dickies.  The Dickies are one of my favorite bands on earth and Leonard is facing crap about his puppet and shit.. this is ridiculous and this is what happens when you go out to the mass audience with something that is underground and meant something and that makes a statement.  I’m still a punk rocker at heart and I’ll say whatever the hell I want to say, and if you’ve got a problem with I don’t really care, because I don’t care about the mass appeal of anything, so if do make that mistake, believe me, you’re going to see me out front backing it up.  You’ve got to have thick skin and stand by what you feel.  I haven’t had those situations but that doesn’t mean I won’t, because I say what I feel.  We’re gonna keep it real.

 

Roger (AF)was telling me something about how he would go up on stage and make some hand gesture and someone will say he was sig heiling and he felt he should just go onstage in a straight jacket with duc tape over his mouth because no matter what you do somebody’s gonna have some comment.

 

I have not had those situations but that’s not to say I won’t, because I say want I want.  We do we want, we say what we want and we don’t really care what the mass feel about that.

 

A lot of the song lyrics from the bands back in the early days of hardcore, which were and are important, if they do it today people are going to make a big deal out of it, like the whitewashing of hardcore punk.

 

I’m not part of that.  I’m going to come out with some stuff soon.  It’s not going to be going down any path.

 

I’m not going to get into all the politically correct issues of today…

 

Just in general I’m not a fan of the politically correct.  I even have problems with all these people that claim to be punk rockers, hardcore lifestylers  and this sort of thing and they’re taking appreciation of either the democrats or the republicans, I hate both the bastards and I hate anyone who dictating this country.  You’ve got to learn the facts.  I want to see the demise of both, so I have a lot of problems with a lot of things but I don’t have time for it because what I’m finding is that when I try to educate it came on deaf ears and a lot of softness.  You know people don’t want to hear the truth and the facts and as long as I educate myself about the facts and dig deep and understand life then I’m happy with that.  I don’t need to influence people in that way.  I hope they appreciate my music and I’m gonna try teach that and if I reach two out of ten, then maybe I’m being successful in just opening their minds to be free thinkers and not just follow the 1984 world we live in now of being hypnotized by the screens and tvs and radios and that sort of thing.  I’m not a fan of any of it, to tell you the truth.  I’m a fan of learning the facts and taking a stand at being unique.  Those people I love, no matter what they’re doing.  They can be the freakiest freak and man, I’m like, I like that freaky freak.  He or she is doing what they want to do,

 

It’s very hard.  I read James Comey’s book and he had an interesting observation, in which he stated that people are not prone to study all sides of an argument, but only to look for the facts that support their point of view, rather than gathering information from both sides and then formulating an opinion.  The we have to train our minds to look at all sides.  Your comment made me think of that statement.

 

I haven’t read that book, but I agree with that.  I have to keep reminding myself to be flexible.  But I love to learn new facts.  I love to hear everybody’s opinion on things, that’s why I want what some of those European countries have, where they have  multiple parties, as much as seven or eight parties, running against each other, I love that.  And when I see type of passion in a country that’s willing to stand up and have that exist, it’s beautiful. I agree with that, but it’s hard, because we’re ambushed in so many different ways.  You know I didn’t think it was possible maybe when I was a kid, because I was such a free thinker and I did what I wanted, but I learned the facts and I tried to do it in a human ethical way.  I think I’m very charitable and I always take the human aspect into consideration, and I try not to be too harsh and I have sympathy and compassion for those that are not as well as I might be in my everyday living, but to see things come full circle in the control of the governments and the power brokers have, this is what we as kids were wearing the shirts and the jackets, were fighting against, but you see it come full circle and take such a stranglehold on society today, man, it’s shocking, you know what I mean?

 

I do, it’s depressing, it’s frustrating and disheartening.  And at our age we have to be in the forefront again and there is so much apathy in the people who are younger than us who should be taking a stance because it is going to affect them.  More so before Trump became president, because that was a real wake up call..

 

Yeah, I hope so.   I keep telling my close circle, as soon as there is an announcement about a protest or a committee meeting, don’t  just show me the video, tell me where I’ve gotta go and I’ll stand with you.

 

That’s important.

 

I’m still a revolutionary.  I’m still an anarchist and I’m still a  free thinker and I want to see that happen, because that stranglehold is so much deeper than it’s ever been.

 

In 1981 we were complaining about Reagan and look what we have now.  Nothing changes.

It’s just gotten worse.  The money brokers are just controlling everything from underneath.  It’s hard.  You asked me why we continue on, and the society that we are talking about right now is the big reason, because I’m trying to educate on the underground on this, what I’ve experience in my life and all the facts that I’ve uncovered.  I’ve worked in the business, so I’m kind of a wrench in this machine a little bit, so I’ve seen the underbelly of it and I understand it and I just want to get these messages continuously out there.  I don’t know if you’ve noticed, the black t-shirt hardcore band sings on such a surface level, you know they come up with a chorus and it’s “you suck”, and I don’t know why I suck, you know.

 

What do you mean by the black t-shirt hardcore band?

 

There’s a lot of hardcore bands that I think were born in the mall and they bought their t-shirts at Spencer’s and their stud belt there or at Pacific Coast.

 

You mean, like Hot Topic?

 

Yeah.  They couldn’t sing like Rob Halford, but they only heard the radio music, so it’s a mixture of what they heard as hardcore with a little heavy metal twist from Guitar Center, you know what I mean.

 

Yeah, I like that idea, the black t-shirt band.  I should write a song about that.

 

Yeah, that’s why you will never see me wear a black t-shirt on stage.  I love them.  I have all these t-shirts, but I would never wear one on stage because I look at these bands, and I go, who is this, they’re full of guys in black t-shirts, just like the band that went on before, I wonder what their name is.

 

Well, you guys don’t have that problem. I noticed you also still have a lot of energy on stage.

 

I work hard at it.  I go to the gym, so I can dance the way I dance and move the way I move on stage. 

 

If you were to meet your younger self today, what would you tell yourself?  Is there any advice you would give the younger you?

 

You always want to change things.  I’m definitely happy with the legacy that we have, all the experiences that I’ve had.  I’ve had experiences that were off the chart at 17, 18 years old, the people I’ve met, the places I’ve played, the audiences I’ve chanted the lyrics in front of.  But  I would have definitely changed things.  I would have thought more about the songs early on.  We were just too young to do the things we do, but on the other side of it, we were young and we did those things.  We put out three records at that age on our own record label and it sold worldwide.  It was crazy and that are still sought after today at high dollars as collectible items, so what can I say bad about that, but if we were more mature,  I think we could have had a bigger, earlier impact.  I would have kept it going longer.  I lost interest in 84.  I saw things going in a different direction.  We should have just kept doing our thing at the time.  I think we could have made more of an impact and also continued to lead trends in a positive direction.  But I lost interest. I don’t know what happened. I think as a youngster I had a very active mind.  I lost interest in things that weren’t exciting to me and continuously challenging and I went in another direction to challenge myself and lost interest in what we were doing, you know, just spinning the wheels for a little bit there.  I would have liked to have kept the interest and continued to be creative and innovating. But we’re playing now and we’re happy with the stuff we did and look what we did at the last show, we played the first single we ever did,  Those songs are so difficult.  As easy as they are, compared to the songs we did  later on, those two chord songs are so much harder to make sound the way we used to play them back then. 

 

Harley Flanagan interview

 

How did the concept for Hard-Core, Life Of My Own come about and what was the methodology and time frame in writing? Was your wife the only collaborator on it?

 

Yes, first of all.  There was no concept behind writing, just for many years people said I should write a book based on the fact that I had been around so many years and met so many interesting people and witnessed so much.  I started working on it in the late 90s.  I tried a few different attempts at even trying to write and get a hang for my written voice because it’s not always easy to come across on paper the way you want to come across, sometimes you write stuff and it sounds really contrived and after awhile I realized that the way I’ve got to do this is I have to write this as if I am talking to a listener, as if it’s actually me talking.

 

Were you writing this or were you recording it?

 

Writing most of it.  Some of it came from an interview that I had started doing and just elaborated on that, just writing down basically every memory I could think of and yeah, the only person who collaborated on this was my wife.  She edited it, she didn’t actually write any of the stuff in it.  But she turned what would have been 1,000 pages with no commas and periods, into something that was more readable, but she didn’t change any of my words, she just made it easier for someone else to read and make sense out of.  But yeah, there was no format; I just started writing stuff down and the book kind of created itself.  I was just about done with it in 2012 and then the whole Webster Hall incident happened and I had to write another chapter in order to wrap up the book and to include and of course, when my mom passed away that warranted tying in too, none of it was really planned.

 

I imagine not.

 

You can’t really plan things like that.

 

Considering your view on revisionist hardcore history what made you choose Steven Blush to write the intro?

 

Well, because he has been around a long time and with the amount of research that he did in the process of writing his American Hardcore book and making the movie, I figured he had at least a certain amount of credibility, because he didn’t just research one scene or one area, he spoke to everybody from all over the place and he was also around way back.

 

That is funny, because I never saw him back then.

 

He was from Boston originally but he was around.  He was one of the few people who had seen almost every line-up of the bands that I’ve been in besides like MOI and The Stimulators.  I think he may have even seen The CroMags with Eric, but anyway I just know that when people think of someone who is an authority of the history of hardcore or punk, whether rightly so or not, he is the person that really is that guy, if you google who is the authority on it, they are going to say Steven Blush, he wrote the book [with all the mistakes and leaving out a good chunk of actual NYHC history – ed] and so I said, you know what, I think he should do the intro because people, you know, people know he has studied, they know that he knows and then of course, Bourdain, well, that speaks for itself.

 

I was going to ask you how Anthony Bourdain, a renowned chef, came to be part of this?

 

It turns out Bourdain has known who I was since back in The Stimulators days, unbeknownst to me. 

 

He approached you?

 

I met him through ju jitsu and we became friends, and only then did he tell me that he had known of me and seen me around the club scene since the late 70s.  And when he did a podcast,  he spoke very highly of me, talked about my mom, about my aunt, and I was like, oh shit, this guy knows more about me than I realized.  So I asked him if I could use a quote from the podcast that he did for the book, because as you saw, I have several quotes from several people, I thought it would be cool to get one from him and said, well I could do one better than that, I’ll write the blurb for your book, so you know, that was a no brainer, someone like Anthony Bourdain asks to be involved in your project, you say, absa-fuckin-lutely thank you.  I was really honored.  He’s a great guy.  The way he comes off on tv, is exactly the way he comes off in person.  He is a very, very nice guy.  I have never seen him be an asshole to anybody, no matter who approaches him.

 

Were you satisfied with the response to the book and do you feel that it put any closure on various points of contention in your life?

 

Ummm…a lot of closure for me.  I was satisfied with the response, in fact I was overwhelmed.  The best actually response that I got was from the people who grew up in my old neighborhood, and specifically a few people I went to school with and knew me when I was a kid, all through when I was in The Stimulators to when I was forming The CroMags.  You know, when people from my neighborhood were like you nailed it man, that was exactly what it was like.  When people say that who were there, and they’re not even hardcore people kissing my ass, it serves them no purpose because they’ve known me since I was a kid, so they’re not going to go that route, when people like that say that to me, that was actually more gratifying than all the fans that are either going to blow all kinds of smoke up your ass because they love you anyway or the ones that are gonna talk shit just because they don’t like you anyway.  It was more validating for me to get the encouraging words from people who shared a lot of the experiences.   The sales have been good, better than I expected.  For me this really wasn’t about writing a book and book sales, it was really about closure.  Did I get some closure?  Yeah, because I knew that if I didn’t get my story out, eventually the story gets out whether it’s after your dead or when somebody else writes it and then they get everything wrong and everything winds up being told by somebody else who is telling a self serving story…

 

Or interpreting it differently, through their eyes…

 

You wind up with some asshole like Paris o somebody telling your story..(imitating Paris’s voice) what an asshole he was.. not even getting into who you were or what you were or the why, for that matter,  that he was hanging out, following me around for twenty years before shit went south, you know.  Closure, yeah…it’s funny because the only person who actually tried to say that…Doug was complaining about something. .but it was really funny because what he was complaining about was still validated when I said, he’s like “I didn’t stick the money up my ass.  I put it in a condom and swallowed it.  I digested it and when I shit it out the money was all…” and I was like, dude I did say in the book, I don’t know, I was told he stuck it up his ass, I didn’t see him do it, so the fact was he still ate the money, he still shit it out, he still dug through his fuckin’ crap to find it, so that was the only thing he complained about, so he really validated my story even there.  You’ve been around..you know the history because you were actually there.

 

Since 1979.

 

So you’ve seen that guy since he first started bullshitting the world.

 

I remember you when you were like twelve years old.  Before Guillotine.  Would you consider this your one and only foray into journalism or would you consider in writing other things?

 

You know, I haven’t really given it much thought.  I like to write music and lyrics, but I don’t sit around entertaining the thought of being a writer.  For me, I didn’t feel like I was writing, because I wasn’t creating anything fiction.  I was just telling my story and because I chose to use my voice instead of trying to create some kind of writing style by just using my voice, I just took the old element of writing out of the picture, because I was just putting my words to paper.

 

So then when you starting doing this, was it just for yourself or….

 

A little bit of both.  I wasn’t sure what the outcome was going to be.  Like I said everybody told me I should write a book, so I can’t say I was doing it just for myself, like I was writing a journal.  I just wanted to get it all on paper before I got hit by a bus or some shit.

 

Like Roger said he did his for his kids.

 

I certainly did not write my book for my kids.  If anything I wrestled a lot with what do I take out, because eventually I realized that it doesn’t what I take out, because they’re still gonna hear all that shit, they’re just gonna hear it from other people and then they’re not gonna get the full story, they’re gonna get the aspects that people want to talk shit about.  You’re never gonna get the whole truth from John or Paris or any of the guys I played with.  So if you’re not getting it from me, you’ll never get the whole story.  They have people believe that I’m just this total crazy fuck up this that and the other thing and they’re not going to give me any of the respect for having conquered so many things in life, whether it surviving my life altogether or surviving all the trouble I got into, the fighting, the drugs or all this bullshit.

 

They weren’t exactly Polly Purehearts themselves.

 

Yeah, but they really tried to paint themselves out to be much holier than though and the fact of the matter is that there isn’t any of us that didn’t have dirt on their hands, the difference is I’m honest about myself and what I do..

 

That’s what I always respected about you.  You never tried to present yourself as someone you weren’t.

 

I don’t have anything to prove to anybody because when you’ve lived the way I have you don’t feel you need to prove anything. The only person I have to prove anything to is myself.

 

That’s what hardcore was supposed to be about.

 

Yeah.  Well..that’s the problem..that’s why I don’t have anything to do with it anymore, because I think it’s as fake as everything else that I tried to avoid like the plague when I was a kid, so not to disappoint or let down any of my hardcore people out there, but the scene is for kids.  As far as I’m concerned, I’m an adult, I’ve got adult shit to do.

 

As a vocal spokesman against all of the revisionism that has been written about hardcore in the past few years, what do you find are the most important issues to set straight?

 

The truth is everybody sees things from their own eyes, from their own viewpoint. Nobody is going to get it exactly right.  Everybody’s memories are slightly altered and slightly cluttered, you know we could be sitting at the exact time in the exact same place and we will each walk away with a different view on the situation, a lot like you were saying, about Steven Blush’s book, a lot of people are saying..you can’t fit everything and you can only tell it from your side or what you are experiencing.

 

Mine wasn’t about that, it was about the misinformation that he put in there, which had concrete facts to back this up…

 

You can only do so much with what you have.  But as far as…I think the biggest hoax that happened about the New York hardcore scene is that they tried to pretend that there was some big straight edge movement at some point in the eighties and we all know that’s bullshit, all those kids were from Connecticut, they were all from out of town, they just came here to matinees and shit like that, that’s really the only myth about that shit.  The myth that John is actually righteous, he is actually self-righteous.  If he really gave a fuck about the fans or anything, he would say, let’s put the band back together, let’s make everybody happy, let’s do the right thing, let’s show some PMA…but he’s the last person trying to do that.  I put it out there a million times.  He’s always the first person to shoot it down.  So what other myths?

 

The things that mean a lot to you?

 

It really doesn’t mean that much to me anymore.  When all these motherfuckers turned their back on me after that Webster Hall shit, I really just stopped giving a fuck about most of them.  I was actually really hesitant to play New York.  I didn’t even want to play New York.  Actually this show got booked without me even knowing, and the only reason I didn’t cancel it was because I didn’t want to cancel a show and give all these fucking jerk offs ammunition, to be like “see, he’s scared to play New York.” No, I’m not scared to play New York.  There’s nobody here I give a fuck to play in front of.  These motherfuckers who were supposed to be my friends turned their backs on me when shit was fucking ugly, when they should have had my back, when they should have been speaking up for me, when they should have been saying “Yo, what the fuck is wrong with you.  Harley fucking started this shit.  You motherfuckers are gonna jump on him?  You’re gonna dog him out?  You’re gonna fucking try to corner him out of the scene?”  Fuck that?  Where the fuck was Agnostic Front and Jimmy and all the people who should have been the first ones to say, “Yo, what the fuck, man?”  So, the fact that nobody stuck up for me; I’m still pissed about it.

 

I don’t blame you.  That was wrong.

 

At the end of the day it showed me who the fuck my real people, my real ride or die people were there for me, that’s why I am where I am now.  I got a much stronger foundation in my life now.  I’m surrounded by people that really support me and love me, my wife, Kenzo Gracie, all the people I know through ju jitsu, my band and the fans that do have that love and have that loyalty and still come out to see me.

 

Well, we knew it was a set up. 

 

Of course it was a set up.  John should be ashamed of himself.  He should be embarrassed by the company he keeps and that should say it all.  The only reason I play music and do shows, is because I love to play music and it’s not anything I see myself stopping doing any time soon and the hardcore music and the hardcore scene has so much doo doo attached to it at this point for me, but I still love to play and I still love to play this kind of music and I’m happy to be out doing it.

 

You’ve been a part of hardcore before it was even given the moniker of hardcore when you were in The Stimulators, which was a progenitor of hardcore, to me, more than even the Bad Brains, I would consider your first band the  birth of New York hardcore,  Do you feel in any way slighted in anyway by Vinnie and Roger being called “the godfathers of NY hardcore’?

 

Not really, because I’m not the godfather of hardcore, I’m the forefather of hardcore.  They can be the godfathers, that’s all right. It’s like someone who steps in after the fact.  I’m the forefather before hardcore ever existed, so I don’t have a problem with that.  I was on the scene before there was a scene.  All respect to those guys, props and love and all that, but you won’t see pictures of them back at Max’s Kansas City at those shows.  I don’t need to be a godfather of nothing.

 

Since your whole life has been pretty much involved in music and entertainment, do you feel it was a positive influence or if you could live it over again would you prefer to follow a different path?

 

It got me where I am now and I’m very happy.  Had things been even slightly different, it would have been like some Back To The Future shit, it would have turned out completely different and wrong, so I’ll take the good with the bad, because the result are awesome.  I’m in a better place than I have ever been in my life, and it took me this long to get there.  Yeah, I have regrets.  Does it change anything?  No.   I’m here now and I’m happy, so it’s all good.

 

Would you want your two sons to follow in your musical footsteps?

 

Not really.  My youngest son is very musical and I support him.  I think they need to do whatever makes them happy and hopefully they can avoid some of the pitfalls that I fell into.  At least I have a little experience that I can throw at them and help prevent some of that, but ultimately they are going to make their own choices.

 

If they did go into music, what advice would you give them?

 

Always have a lawyer and read everything before you start having this wonderful relationship with your band members like we’re gonna rock, we’re gonna take over the world together, check to see who is getting credit for everything that is being done as it’s being done, so there’s no confusion down the line as to who wrote what and who gets what.  Integrity is the only thing you come into the room with. Everything else is contracts and trademarks.

 

That’s assuming everybody has integrity too.

 

That’s why I’m saying, you come in the door with what you have, everything else has to be done on paper, because otherwise you will get stiffed, even by your best friend or whoever is in charge of your life.

 

It’s a bitter thing to learn.  You teach ju jitsu, can you tell us a little bit about it and how you became involved with it?

 

I first saw it in 93 when UFC first started and I got fascinated with it.  I started training in the beginning of 96 and I’ve been doing that with the same people.  I’ve been training under Kenzo Gracie, he’s my ju jitsu master.  He has been very much an inspiration to me and a role model in a lot of ways, not just in ju jitsu, but just in general.  He’s a real positive influence.  He was one of the only people who stood by me when that shit went down. 

 

Do you see any relationship between the martial arts and hardcore music?

 

Well, for me, yeah, because it’s very physical.  Ju Jitsu is very aggressive only when it is used for fighting.  It’s really not an aggressive style, but you can be an aggressive ju jitsu stylist.

 

Would you consider them both cathartic?

 

Absolutely.

 

Your album came out about a year or so ago, do you have anything new coming out?

 

I have two eps that are coming out right now. One is brand new material and some of the other stuff is reissues of some of the earlier Cromag recordings, the demos where I played all the instruments in 1982 and 83. There’s also a reissue of Loud Fast Rules getting ready to come out and so besides those three eps, I have about sixteen or seventeen new songs that are almost complete.  We’re gonna start to fine tune them and get into the studio sometime this summer.

 

Have you been doing much touring and is it hard juggling going out and touring and teaching?

 

It’s not hard, because we have a lot of black belts there so whenever I need somebody to cover me they do and whenever somebody needs me to cover them I do; we just look out for each other.  I really only started gigging again about a year ago and in the last year I have been to Europe about four times, I’ve been to Canada, done a few festivals on the west coast.  I haven’t done any extensive touring in the states, just a week here and there, but I’ve been pretty busy since I started playing again.

 

Do you include some of the CroMags stuff?

 

I do a little of everything.

 

In all of your creative endeavors you always include something to do with The CroMags, like in the names, would  you say this was your penultimate band, and why or why not?

 

No, but it’s the one where I made the biggest mark thus far.  I don’t really feel like…it’s like when your Gilligan, once you’ve been on Gilligan’s Island, you’re not gonna get another gig, your Gilligan for life, even if you’re playing a different show, people are going to go, oh, look, it’s Gilligan.  I don’t have a problem embracing that.  I like what I do and I like what I’ve done. The only thing I don’t like about The CroMags is what it turned into.  What a bunch of fucking assholes these guys turned out to be, but like I tell everybody a million times, I would do a reunion in a heartbeat, because it would make a lot of people happy and for that alone it would be worth it, but I don’t shy from my past.  I have tried to connect those dots and remind people who the fuck the foundation of that band was.

 

My last question is not related to the music in anyway, it is more of an opinion question, but since you have children, seeing all of the violence that is going on with the school shootings, what is your view on the NRA.

 

I don’t think any sane person could not be saddened by what is happening.  Do I think there is a solution?  I don’t honestly know.  Am I for gun control?  Yeah, I ‘m for stricter gun control.   I am not completely against guns.  I think we have to look at the bigger problems in this country and this world.  I think whatever it is that is causing so many people to be fucked up in the head, there is something wrong in the culture and what we are learning, how we are taught how to deal with things, people want immediate results for everything.  It’s such a fast food, instant gratification, everything they want has got to happen now and people don’t realize that happiness is something that you really have to work for. It’s not something that is guaranteed and you can’t lose your shit because things don’t work out the way you want.  You have to take steps to make things happen the way you want.   I don’t know, it’s really disturbing.  Like I tell people all the time, happiness is not guaranteed, look around, look at the state of the world.  You have people have nothing and they are still happy, and you have people like this guy from Soundgarden who fucking kills himself and he’s got everything in the world you could possibly have.  I wish everybody could find some kind of peace inside themselves.  I don’t think this culture really promotes that. 

 

I know we don’t have much time so is there anything else you wanted to add?

 

I just wanted to say that Guillotine has been around a long time so respect and thanks for documenting all this shit for all these years.                                 

 

 

 

Metalachi interview

Vega de la Roca (left in pic) –singer

El Koo Koo (right in pic) – trumpet

Kaila – violin

 

Metal?? Mariachi?? The combo of the 2 boggles the mind...but to those who dared to see what these guys could pull off - the results were nothing short of leaving you with your jaw on the floor. Combined with a violinist who can shred the nutsack off of any "guitar hero" without batting an eyelash, you've got one of the best kept secrets on the music scene right now. They play to an ever growing audience, and there doesn't seem to be anything able to slow them down at all...this interview was conducted awile back before their 2nd ever gig in NYC - so here is a glimpse of the world of the force majeur calling itself...METALACHI...

 

 

Since most of our readers are probably hearing about Metalachi for the first time, could you give us a little background information on the band?  And what led to your combining heavy metal with mariachi music, which is a bit unusual.

 

V:  It kind of got started when we were young.  We all played mariachis.

 

E:  What are you talking about, we’re still young.

 

V:  I’m talking like before puberty.  Before stuff was growing down there.  Since we were kids like five years old we were playing traditional mariachi music which we learned from the family, and it wasn’t until our teens where we found, like we were always fans of..

 

E:  Black Sabbath, the first album was Paranoid that we got exposed and we instantly fell in love with the music.  During that time we thought hey, what if we made some of this music with our mariachi instruments and we did.

 

V: I still remember the first show we did it at a Quincenera.  It’s a sweet sixteen but Mexican style, so it’s sweet fifteen.

 

E:  So her dad was like a metalhead and her mom was an old traditional Mexican lady and so they decided, you know what,  play a song that involves both genres and we did it with one of our favorite songs from the Paranoid album, Ironman.  We mixed it with the song Tapatio, and we called it Iron Tapatio and that was the very first Metalachi song at that Quincenera.

 

V:  People went crazy.

 

How long ago was that?

 

V:  That was when we were like fifteen, a long time ago.  There was like this old lady that was in a wheelchair and she got up and she lifted up her shirt.

 

E:  It was a miracle!

 

V:  It was awesome and everyone got excited.

 

So you two are the ones who started the band?

 

V:  Yeah, we’re the oldest brothers and actually in the band, to begin with, we had different members.  The five original members of this band, we were all brothers.

 

Really brothers?

 

V:  Yeah, really brothers.  We didn’t all have the same dad, but we all had the same mom.  But out of the original guys we are the only two left. 

 

Did the other original members move on to play different types of music or did they just get out of playing altogether?

 

V:  Different reasons.  One guy isn’t even in the country.  He found out that Donald Trump was going to become president and he didn’t like that so he left.

 

He was smart.

 

V:  The other guys are doing their things.  They’re doing good by themselves and we wish them the best.

 

E:  But they did help the band become what it is right now.

 

So you guys are all from California?

 

E:  Originally from Mexico, from Juarez.  We came to the United States from when we were very little.

 

V:  I was only three years old when we came here.

 

The first time I heard of your band was at the La Plaza De Cultura Y Artes museum in Los Angeles.  They had an exhibit on Mariachi music, and one of the recordings was your band.  And then when Mac Sabbath played Le Poisson Rouge in NY, I got to see you for the first time as the opening band.  So getting back to when you guys played that party, did you move forward right then?

 

V:  It was a few years after. 

 

E:  We actually formed about eight years ago.  It took a number of years for us to translate the music, but also we were working a lot with Mariachis at the time, that was our money and we had to give a lot of our money to the family we were living with.  Slowly but surely it ended up being this.  Once we got out on our own we started…

 

And with the other members you have now, when did they join the band?

 

V:  Well, Kyla here, who doesn’t want to talk, she’s actually my sister on my dad’s side.

 

K:  He just likes saying a sister from another mister.

 

V:  So she just saw an opportunity and we kept her locked up and then when our old violin player Max decided to leave the country, Kyla saw her big opportunity, so we thought, why not give her a shot, the people love her, our fans love her.  She’s been a great addition.  I’m glad we let her out of the closet.

 

You are an amazing violinist, how long have you been playing?

 

K:  Oh, since I was really little, around five.

 

How did you wind up in a Mariachi band and not doing classical music?

K:  I’ve always loved metal and I’ve always loved Mariachis.  It’s always been my dream to be in this band. For a lot of years I just wanted to play with  them, and they were like, well, we can’t get rid of Max.

 

So you killed him?

 

V:  Well, maybe it’s true.

 

K: (laughter)  I can’t comment on that. 

 

V:  The investigation is still going on.

 

He’s in an underground country.

 

K:  I feel very fortunate to be here and I feel very fortunate because there are so many women who saying it is really inspiring to see a female play in a field that is mostly male dominated.  A lot of people tell me their children see my videos and they’re inspired to play music.

 

When you say a field male dominated are you referring to heavy metal, mariachi or both?

 

K:  I mean definitely in Mariachi it seems there are a lot more females coming forward now, but in general I know in metal there’s not a lot, so I think mostly metal, but in both fields probably.

 

V:  Obviously you don’t know about Lita Ford.

 

K:  I know about Lita Ford, she’s awesome.

 

Well, you know, if you are a strong woman you can break down barriers.  You just don’t let anyone tell you, you can’t do what you want to do. And if they give you a hard time, just give them a kick in the balls.

So..did you find it hard getting members to play this hybrid type of music after your “family members” moved on?

 

E:  This particular group, we were all part of the same family to begin with, so it wasn’t that hard, but it was difficult finding substitutes because we had to find people who were not just skilled in Mariachi but also skilled in other styles of music like metal as well.  There are a lot of great Mariachi players out there, really good musicians, but if you ask them to play something else like jazz or metal, because they can’t adapt to that other style of music.  One of the special things when it comes to Mariachi and rock, for example, we found some rock guitar players, they couldn’t play the patterns for Mariachi and vice versa.  The same thing with violin players who do Mariachi, they are phenomenal, but not many that can improvise and do a rock style, using pedals and other effects.  They are really hard to find.  And the same is with singers, like Vega, he has a really strong voice and he can also hit those rock notes, and those guys just can’t do that.  It was very hard to find.  And when we had to replace our brothers, we were very lucky to find the guys we have, because like with our bass player, we found him at Home Depot, that’s where we met him.  We thought he was just there to cut grass or something and we found out that he was there just to do a social experiment.  He was a student from Texas University, so that guy is from Texas and we didn’t even know that he could play music and he ended up being in the band.

 

Well, you met him at Home Depot, but how did the discussion come about that led to him joining the band?

 

V:  We had a party at home and some things got broken so we needed somebody to fix our bathroom, and so we went to Home Depot and he was one of the main guys that came up to us and we got to talking.

 

E:  Whatever happened with that social experiment?

 

V:  I think he’s still doing it, because now he’s in this band.

 

That’s funny what you said about musicians having trouble crossing genres or styles, because that is what Don always said about flashy guitar players trying to do Chuck Berry tunes, or the Ramones. 

 

Like ask Jocko Pastorias to play like Dee Dee Ramone and he can’t do it.

 

V:  We feel really lucky, especially with Kayla, because she really rocks out, you know, being a beautiful woman, and she really rocks out and puts that vibe out there.  She’s an amazing addition to the band.

 

K:  Awww!

 

When we first saw you, we were like, this girl can really shred.

 

When you’re doing covers of songs, how do you go about combining the two styles?

 

E:  There are some songs that we have tried to put together and we’ve been like yeah, this isn’t gonna work.  There are some songs that we’ve learned and we’ve played two or three times and just shelved it, because it didn’t get a good reaction or just wasn’t fun, but usually we can hear it in a metal song, something we can grab onto, and we know that will work with us.  Before it was just guessing.  We can listen to the drum patterns or the melody of the song.  One of the things, because mariachi music is very melodic and very harmonic, you can use kind of a classical structure and the metal a lot of times a lot of things are power chords, so some times it is kind of hard to bridge the two worlds, but we will always find a way to do it, but I think now we can kind of tell by listening to a song.  A lot of times it’s our fans, like you guys need to play this song.

 

V:  Freebird!

 

You guys write some of your own songs too?

 

E:  Yeah, we have a couple of songs that we are pretty much working on for our next album.  But we do have a song which is a comedy about prison rape…

 

It’s a comedy?

 

E:  Yeah, it’s from a movie, I don’t know if you’ve seen that movie Blood In, Blood Out?  It’s a gangster movie, kind of like the chollos movie, you know the chollos in LA, gangsters and low riders and all that.  It’s one of our favorite movies.  Chollos is like the Chicano gangsters.  There’s this part in the movie that has the low rider song, and so we took it from a scene in the movie where this guy goes, “give me some chocha” which means give me your asshole, to us it was really funny.  So the song is called “Give me some chocha.”

 

Now I have to see the movie.

 

E:  The song is about being in prison and this guy named Popeye trying to rape the guy.  He never actually rapes him.  (laughs)  Besides the music and the songs we have that comedy element so we kind of talk and make fun of ourselves, it’s fun.  I don’t know if the last time you saw us live, so between songs we kind of talk and make fun of each other.

 

So you are more into not taking things seriously and having a good time on stage and with your audience.

 

E:  We try not to take things too seriously.

 

So you don’t talk about anything serious in your sets.

 

E:  No, unless it’s about Donald Trump.

 

I was wondering if you wanted to talk about him and the border wall he wants to build.

 

E:  We always say, he should build a wall around his hair.  We usually don’t like to talk about politics because we’ll talk and we won’t stop.

 

I was wondering since your family is originally from Mexico if it affects you personally and if you wanted to comment on the current political climate?

 

V:  I feel that everything he is doing is just exposing problems that were already here.  I also think in a way it is a façade, because to us they’re not problems.  This country was built on immigration and whenever they’re talking about immigrants, they’re not talking about people coming from Lithuania or Italy, they’re talking about Mexicans.  The thing is, they’re not going to do anything because they know for decades and decades that the Latino population and the Mexican population is very important to the US economy, unless anyone wants to go pay $24 for a pound of grapes.  I think it’s just smoke and mirrors, they say something because there are still people in this country that want to hear that.  They need to get their votes.  You think that wall is going to do some good for this country?  No.  It’s a joke.  It’s a waste of money. And if people really want to come here, they’re going to find a way.  He’s talking about how it’s going to keep out drug dealers and keep out crime, believe me, in this world, and they know it…

 

The drug dealers and crime lord aren’t going to be the ones sneaking into the country.

 

V:  Money talks and these people have a lot of money. If they have a lot of money, which they do, they’re going to pay someone to get on the other side of that wall.  There is no keeping those people out.  The whole wall thing is just bogus.

 

It keeps the racists happy.

 

V:  Years from now people are going to read about this in a book and they are going to say, what was wrong with this generation? 

 

When you’re talking about smoke and mirrors, what is doing is keeping the eyes of the real issues.

 

V:  When you think about what happens today.  When we look back decades about what happened during World War II when people were putting Japanese people into concentration camps, you look at now, and you are saying, what were they fucking thinking?  We see that now..but at that time..

 

That’s the thing; we are repeating those exact same atrocities.

 

V:  They’re making people think, what a great idea, we are keeping people safe…

 

They need a scapegoat to blame for all the problems, and the Mexican people are the easy target.

 

K: I just want to say, if they kicked all the Mexicans out of America, all the Americans would be very sad when they didn’t have Taco Tuesday anymore.

 

I think it is one of the most absurd situations, when you place the Mexican people in the role of terrorists.  When has a Mexican in this country actually committed a terrorist act?  There are people in this country who would be more likely to commit those acts, but yet they pick the Mexicans because they are an easy target.

 

C:  I can say that in my youth I did travel a lot to other countries outside the United States, and I think almost anybody who wants to form a realistic opinion, actually needs to do; because you need to see how the world views America, and believe me it’s not good.  And, I’m not talking about politicians, but average people like you and me, out there just living their own lives, what are your views of America.  I was in England, when I was young, and they were having the election here for George Bush, and when he got elected a second term, you should have seen the headlines in the paper the next day; it was like, what the fuck?  They really don’t like America. In Africa and in Europe, they have a really bad view of Americans.

 

With good reason.

 

They have bad views of the people because Americans are spoiled, they are.  A lot of people don’t realize that, because they are accustomed to their lifestyle.  But if you go somewhere else, it makes you really appreciate what you have here.

 

I think we saw that in the 90s when we were traveling to different countries.  Bur as you said most people don’t get it.  And when they do travel they stick to the tourist destinations and never see what the locals really live like.

 

C:  People think politics is a different world, but it’s not.  And the issues people are fighting for have nothing to do with the real ones.  They separate people from the real issues, because the things they are fighting for are not for us.  They think that we are doing this for the good of the people, they’re not.  That is what they need us to think so that this way we can leave them alone for their purpose.

 

What I find that is upsetting about politics, is that people seem to feel that it is separate from their lives.  That what is going on in Washington doesn’t affect us, but it totally affects us.  And people, include some of my friends, say they are not going to vote, because it doesn’t have anything to do with their lives.  But that is just ignorant.

 

C:  Everyone thinks that it is just giving money for schools, money for welfare, it’s not.  They do that to shut us up, but especially you think about how much we’re getting taxed, how much we give to the government, how much money is actually spent on the military.  It’s like overkill and I think that purposely there is a lot of stuff they hide from the people.  I hate to say it, but like the wars in Korea, or Vietnam, or the Middle East, they always paint a picture of good guy versus bad guy and we’re not always the cowboy good guy here.

 

No, we’re in a war for economic reasons.  If you study history wars can always be traced to economics, rather than ideals or values.  It is just the people who go fight are told it is for the idealistic reason, but the ones who profit are the ones at the top of the food chain, not the ones doing the fighting.

 

C:  Yeah. The wars are fought for reasons we don’t even know and sometimes these wars are actually created by mistakes that we have made, not us, but our government has made in the past, and now these countries are stuck and they blame Americans and they fucking hate us.  And a lot of times, especially when it comes to violence, it is the poor people that are suffering because of these mistakes. It’s the poor people who usually tend to go into the military, because they need the benefits to go in and these are the ones who are doing the fighting.  This is ridiculous.  Why do mistakes have to be paid for with blood? 

 

V:  I agree with everything Cocoya is saying, we talk about this many times and we’ve always come to the same conclusion, that it’s all about money and politics and lobbying and all this bullshit, like selling guns and selling bullets to kill people. 

 

I personally have felt that this is related to class.  People with the money at the top who manipulated the people to divide and conquer.  If people could see that we all have the same needs and wants, they might realize who the real enemies are, and it’s not the poor and working class.  I realize in many ways it may appear as a simplified, naïve way of looking, but if people stopped and put aside their hatreds for a minute, they might see that.

 

(part of tape got accidentally erased.)

 

E: I think Obama was a great president but he didn’t get the cooperation.  Even as much as I supported him, the republicans at that time, because the country was in bad shape, they didn’t want to be blamed for anything that was going on.  It was the politicians fault for the business with the banks did all this shit with the economy when everything tanked and did anyone even go to jail for that? No.  The thing was, they were like let’s let the African American president take the reins for all the governmental shit and we won’t have to take the shit for it, because look who they put up against him in the election, it’s like a woman who was bat shit crazy and a guy that was going to drop dead any second.  Is that the best you got?  They gave him the election.  And what happened, Obama turned this country around, his policies, even though it was hard work, he turned the country around. And who’s taking the credit for the economy?    Donald Trump and the republicans.  The economy is great.  We have a surplus now and everybody’s getting great jobs and the real estate economy is great now, because of Obama, not Trump.

 

So you guys are going on now?  When does the tour end?

 

V;  We have Pittsburgh on Friday, Washington DC on Saturday and then New Jersey on Sunday and then we are going home.

 

Where are you playing in New Jersey?

 

V:  A beer festival. 

 

 

(The band had to go on stage at that time so the interviewed ended at that time)

 

 

                             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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