Interview with DJ Spermicide – Part I.

DJ Spermicide (Marlene Goldman) interview originally released in Chiller Than Most fanzine, issue 4.

CTM – How did you first come in contact with the hardcore punk scene? What was the first hardcore record that made an impact on you and why? What were some of your first shows you saw that you would classify as hardcore in NYC?

DJ Spermicide – I was already into punk music my first year at NYU in 1984, so when I started seeing shows, there were usually local bands opening for them, some hardcore. I remember going to an Exploited/UK Subs show at the Rock Hotel on Jane Street and the Cro-Mags was one of the opening bands. They had amazing energy but the crowd was a bit intimidating. My dorm in the East Village was not far from where the hardcore scene was happening, so when I started to see shows, I became exposed to some of the local bands. Some of the first hardcore music I heard was actually on cassette tapes while hanging out in Tompkins Square Park, bands like Circle Kaos. I saw a lot of shows at CBs–Reagan Youth, Underdog, Murphy’s Law, The Mob, Agnostic Front, Kraut, Warzone, Youth of Today, Token Entry, Straight Ahead. I also went to some all-day warehouse shows in Williamsburg, which back then was more like a war zone (and I’m not talking about the band) than the hipster enclave it is now. As in, you were always happy when you made it back alive. Anyway, there were dozens of bands playing at those shows, most of the names I don’t recall, but it was definitely a scene.

CTM – Who influenced you to start your own radio program? Did you used to listen to the “Noise the Show”? (Tim Sommer was the creator and host of Noise The Show, a pioneering New York City-based hardcore punk radio show aired during 1981-82 on WNYU.)

DJ Spermicide – I mostly listened to WNYU’s New Afternoon Show growing up on Long Island, which featured more of the alternative, college radio music with some punk and local music mixed in. After Noise the Show, Jon Fox had been hosting Hellhole, which was more of a punk/metal mix. I had been hanging out in Tompkins Square Park and a lot of the small, local bands were playing their tapes for each other, but there was not really an outlet for their exposure back then. The loss of Hellhole had left a void and the time slot opened on Thursday nights. I started with a one-hour version of Crucial Chaos, which eventually went to an hour and a half to accommodate the interviews and live bands. Murphy’s Law was my first guest on my first show. They brought up pizza and beer for the occasion.

crucialchaos03

CTM – Crucial Chaos was really popular and the radio show left a huge impact on the hardcore scene. It was so influential that kids would run to Some Records to buy the records that were played the night before on air. A lot of musicians mentioned how important it was for them to play on Crucial Chaos. Jeff Terranova (Up Front) said he left a cassette tape in his bedroom stereo and taught his Mom how to start recording when they played. In those years every hardcore kid in NYC would tape the whole show to catch up on new releases, listen for gig announcements, ticket giveaways, interviews, not to mention the live sets that everyone anxiously waited for and hit the record button. What was your message that you want to give to people through this radio program? What did you accomplish with the Crucial Chaos?

DJ Spermicide – Obviously Chaos was in the pre-Internet, music sharing era, so hardcore kids only heard about bands through word of mouth or some other outlets, like Pat Duncan’s show on WFMU. I really wanted there to be a sense of community in the New York scene that revolved around the music, so promoting shows and new bands was all part of that. Letting them speak and get their message out was also one of my goals. For a lot of the kids, the hardcore scene was their family, their life. A lot of the kids I met came from broken homes or rough backgrounds—not everyone, but enough that I started to realize how important having this hardcore family was to them. It brought together street kids, squatters, and a lot of people who identified with that music and energy.

CTM – In 1986-87, and particularly the summer of 1987, it was a really amazing time to be into hardcore in New York City. I know that the different cliques seemed to get along, shows featured diverse bands on the bills, and there were lots of shows. I assume that Crucial Chaos contributed to the popularity of hardcore… What do you think about this period? Who were some memorable characters from the NYHC scene?

DJ Spermicide – It’s easy to romanticize that time in New York because of all the great music back then and all the colorful characters that made it such a unique place to live. But this was a turbulent era in New York history, which was reflected in the angst of the music. The city was filled with heroin dealers, people shooting up in Tompkins Square Park, newly released Reagan-era mental health patients, escalating crime, garbage cans on fire, graffiti everywhere, and a lot of grit and grime that in a lot of ways in turn brought the scene together. There were so many characters back then. I moved into the city in 1984, which was when A7, which was pretty much the birthplace of the hardcore scene, closed. The CBGB hardcore matiness on Sundays ended up being as much a gathering place as a place to hear the music. People back then… Of course Jimmy Gestapo and, Raybeez, big Charlie, Ralphie, Harley Flanagan, Roger Miret, John Joseph, Vinnie Stigma, Stephan from False Prophets. I used to hang out with some the Avenue C squatters. Others like John Spacely -Gringo- who ended up in the Sid and Nancy movie.

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