Category Archives: CHILLER THAN MOST FANZINE

Jaguarz North End Jammin’

Originally published in Chiller Than Most fanzine, issue 2 (2014).

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Owen Black: I’ve been asked to write something about the band and the era during which our North End Jammin’ rehearsal tape was recorded. This was a great time for Jaguarz. Our lineup had solidified with the addition of one of my favorite people, Rich Perusi, on drums. Jeff Pickett was our guitarist (from jump) and Steve St. Germain a/k/a Steb, singer of the Straight Edge powerhouse The First Step, was our bass player. By my count that is three lead singers in the band; Rich sang for The Dedication and Sex Positions before and after his career with Stop And Think — a choice draft pick for sure. We had a new practice space in Boston’s North End. Three members of the band were pursuing scholarship at the prestigious Boston University. We were playing out as often as possible. We were eating and living well.

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As far as being the most underrated Lockin’ Out band, I don’t know what to say. We adhered to an old school ethic. We didn’t have a website because Straight Ahead didn’t have a website. We bonded often over endless plates of chow in the Warren Towers cafeteria. We maintained a solid crew of moshers who supported us at shows. I’d shout them all out but they know who they are. It was the golden era of Lockin’ Out, and I have endless gratitude for everything that entails.

2004 was only our second year of existence, and we played our last show in 2005. Were we writing for a 12″ EP titled “What’s That Noise?”? Maybe. Did we have a bunch of new songs? Yes. My favorite ones were called “Bad Things,” “Better Days,” and “An Hour of Wolves.” The Wolves joint was going to make “Survival” sound like Crippled Youth jamming on Playskool instruments. A 12-minute dirge was planned for side B. Some of these songs used to exist on my hard drive in various stages of completion, but they’ve sadly been lost. A few years ago Steve hit me up and suggested we record them, but we never did. Oh well.

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This rehearsal, I believe, was in preparation for a jaunt down south to Virginia and back during our spring break and boy, how I wish it could have lasted forever. We had a new intro in our playbook, affectionately called “TNT” due to its explosive mosh demands, and partially due to its similarity to a certain AC/DC tune. AC/DC is a rock ‘n roll band, I don’t know if you’ve heard of them, but maybe look into their catalogue or peek behind the music. They’ve written a few riffs over the years, and suffered a tragic loss of their first lead singer, Bon Scott. We were also practicing a segment of a song by another rock band that exists outside of the hardcore realm, Smashing Pumpkins. They are from Chicago, the city where I was born, and also lost a band member, Jimmy Chamberlain, years ago. RIP to these influential musicians. But I don’t mean to get all heavy on you right now. “Cherub Rock” is a real vibey song and we jammed that intro straight into our hit “Survival” during our set on this tape. We never played a cover for more than a few shows, though, so I’m really glad this was captured because unless you were in that Brick, New Jersey D.A.V. hall on our spring break tour, the full effect of this jam would be attainable only at the end of, nay, beyond, a pipe dream tunnel that few of you would ever emerge healthily from. I’m not even sure I have. Let me just add that Get Real covered “Blind” by KoRn at this show so cheers to the ’90s.

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Close Call and Confusion / Live on WNYU’s Crucial Chaos

Interview with Michael Scondotto. Originally released in Chiller Than Most fanzine, issue 4.

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CTM – What are your memories of this classic radio program?
Michael Scondotto – It was an extremely important component of the NYHC scene during its time. I had first learned about Crucial Chaos from the kids who got me into Hardcore in early 1988. The very first one I listened to was the Supertouch/Murphy’s Law set on St. Patricks Day in March of 1988. It was like being at a show, only all you could do was listen! It sounded like a big party when the live portion would kick in. It also gave bands from all over great exposure.

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Close Call / Confusion WNYU sessions:
Michael Scondotto – The Close Call one was in the spring of 1989, I was the bass player for both Close Call and Confusion. I remember it was really nice weather, so it may have been May. The radio show ran 90 minutes, but the bands got to play during the last 30 minutes. I remember that we practiced a lot in preparation for the set so we would be really tight, which we were for a band of 15 to 17 year old kids. It was a badge of honor for us, we were young and didn’t know a lot of people outside of our own Brooklyn crew, which I think worked against us a bit. We brought down a bunch of friends to watch and cheer for us. Close Call had one demo out at this point, and we were working on demo #2. I remember that Spermicide was cool to us, as was Johnny Stiff. With Confusion, we played in February of 1992, it was freezing out, that I do recall well. We had a ton of our friends with us and they were pretty loud and crazy. Spermicide was gone by this point and Johnny ran the show. He is a good guy, funny and one of a kind. Although the NYHC landscape changed from 89 to 92 considerably, the vibe at Crucial Chaos was still the same – a fun night of live Hardcore for the radio. Biggest difference between say a live club show and one for the radio is that for me personally, I played better and tighter for Crucial Chaos! You knew it would make the rounds back then.


Getting to play on Crucial Chaos back then was a kind of milestone for a Hardcore band.
It meant that there were people who wanted to check out your music, that you had some good word of mouth about your band. Close Call broke up before we really got to play a bunch of shows, we did about 4 plus the WNYU set! But Confusion went on to do more and play some great shows and record a 7″ that many seem to enjoy. I’m grateful and humbled that people care about those times. I stopped playing bass by 1995 and became a vocalist. I currently sing in two different Hardcore bands, Inhuman and The Last Stand.

CTM – What are your favorite Crucial Chaos sets?
Michael Scondotto – I think the Murphy’s Law/Supertouch one was amazing. The one from Uppercut as really cool too. Dmize have a great one out there as well. I also think that the Close Call and Confusion ones are killer, people need to seek those out.

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The Psychos interview

Steve Psycho is a former member of the infamous Psychos one of the bands that ruled the early days of New York Hardcore. I believe the interview was made around 2005, and originally released in I Drink Milk fanzine and Chiller Than Most newsletter #1. Interview made by Laszlo Nanyista. Pics by Mincey/Levy, Jessica Bard, The Godfathers of Hardcore documentary.

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Could you tell us a little bit about your background? How did you first come in contact with the hardcore punk scene? Steve – 1979. I was listening to The Ramones, The Pistols, The Clash, the Slits and some other punk rock. My friends and I were just starting to get really excited about more underground stuff. Then someone got hold of the Black Flag “Miltown High” album and I had found SLF’s “Hanx”- those raw sounds encouraged us to find more music of that type. The first show I saw was The Bad Brains, The False Prophets, and maybe The Stimulators and The Offals at Botany 500 – a small bar in the NYC wholesale flower district. There was this huge black guy in a white t-shirt and across the back of the shirt written in black magic marker was “You bet I’ve got something personal against you”. It was Mojo (of “Egg raid on Mojo fame”). I went to see any band that identified as punk or hardcore, hung out at Max’s Kansas City and CB’s and began meeting more and more people. Except for 1 friend none of my friends was really into hardcore as a scene or a lifestyle. I found myself very attracted to the ideas and energy I was being exposed to and spent more and more time at clubs that featured this music. I’d regularly cruise by Bleeker Bob’s for new vinyl.

How did the formation of the Psychos come about? Were you a founding member or did you join later? Steve – Stu (Larry), Billy Psycho and Roger Miret had already formed the band when I met Stu. He had been singing and playing guitar and they were looking for a singer so he could expand the guitar parts. I fit in pretty well and I was also a source for lyrics as I had a bunch of ideas and some verse already written.

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How many shows did you play with the Psychos? Steve – The Psychos generally played about once a month while I was singing. We did A7, CBGB’s, The Rock Hotel (with Void and Scream – to this day Void is one of my favorite bands). This was from 1982- 1984 and it was a time when hardcore bands were being shut out of a lot of NY clubs. I remember doing a show in a basement in Williamsburg, Bklyn with the Dicks and others but the show was set up, done and then the location couldn’t be used again. It was tough for me to travel because I had a 7-day a week job (not a slave to the clock – I loved the work and had a great boss who was well ahead of the curve in profit sharing!), which eliminated the idea of touring. Later on I think the Psychos had a more intense schedule largely due to Roger’s influence.

The lineup of the band: Steve -Stu and maybe Billy were later in Trip 6. I’ve been told Stu ended up dusted out and going to jail for some very brutal assaults. Billy was in the band Death Before Dishonor just long enough to get a tattoo then got kicked out. I sang and played some bass in a Jersey band called Swine Dive in the late 80’s. Roger started singing for Agnostic Front and Stu and I thought it would be best to find another bass player so we got a friend of mine named Fil (who now holds a PHD and teaches American History). After Fil and I left The Psychos, Roger rejoined on bass along with a series of singers. Roger always felt slighted for being replaced in the band – although we are still friends. The feeling was that he wouldn’t have time to commit to both bands and that his priority would be AF. HA! Little did I know that Roger would turn into the workhorse he is. Singing and playing in 3 bands at any given time (The Disasters, Lady Luck, etc.), founding the Rumblers Car Club, producing other bands, his own clothing line – he’s a true self made man – a working class hero. For my part – when I left the Psychos in 1984 I was pretty much done with hardcore. I loved the music I had been listening to and I loved hanging out, but as a continued lifestyle it wouldn’t really have worked out for me. I could see myself becoming a casualty somewhere down the line. I also had no interest in the newer bands.

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Funny stories/memories: Steve – We would have to search for Billy before rehearsals. He was usually found lying on the sidewalk or in a doorway somewhere on the Lower East Side or around The Bowery, unbathed in the 3 or 4 days since the last rehearsal or show and smelling pretty rank. He would have to be cleaned up because you couldn’t breath if you were in the same room with him. Once he told us the night before he had sex with a high school girl who had defecated on his chest. He said it was the wildest sex he’d ever had but she kicked him out before he could shower. We eventually had to find a rehearsal space with an isolated drum room because he always smelled so bad. I met my wife at CBGB’s after an Abused matinee. The girlfriends of Kevin (vocals) and Dave (bass), both named Valerie and my future wife came out of CB’s all flushed and sweaty. They had just beaten the crap out of some guy who had been acting out and was annoying everyone. He dropped his pants in front of the girls and they proceeded to beat him, cracking some ribs. They kicked him repeatedly with steel toe boots. The 2 Valeries introduced me to their friend Gayle. Later at a house party she said 2 things to me: “That’s my comic book you’re reading, put it back when you’re done” and “Do you want a beer?” – we were living together a year later and have been married for over 22 years. We have 3 daughters. Most shows we played were $5 dollars to get in. I always felt weird having a couple people on the guest list and leaving out others. Usually I would pay on the side for a bunch of people and then tell them they were on the guest list, so everyone felt special. I think a lot of people were attracted to hardcore or “the scene” because they were excluded from other areas of society. It made sense to me that a Psychos show was a place everyone could feel included. Most times I sprang for $20 – which was about what my cut of the door was if we were lucky, but once at a show I ended up laying out almost a hundred bucks. I had a decent job, made good money – I was just playing for the fun of it and it was more fun if everyone got in. I had laid out the money for the first run of t-shirts the Psychos did. I gave so many away I had no chance of getting my money back – forget a profit – not much of a businessman! But these were my friends. I never felt quite right introducing filthy commerce into the relationship.

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A7/Tompkins Square Park: Steve – There was a real period of tension between the punks who arrived on the Lower East Side and the residents, mostly Hispanics. I can tell you that one night hanging outside of A7 a friend and myself were shot at, but I couldn’t say who or where it came from. Early on there were few people hanging out so you’re really just an oddity to the locals. Then more people show up, and tension rises. As time went by we started moving into the neighborhood and our numbers increased and the dynamic changed again as we became the regulars. I would guess it’s a pretty common cycle of gentrification. A friend had gotten hold of some white blotter stamps of acid that someone just handed to him. He gave hits away to friends until that night there were about 150 people hanging in and around Tompkins Square Park tripping on acid and drinking 40’s. I remember just standing there listening to the buzz of the crowd, it felt like a beehive, just buzzing and humming with conversation and activity. A grey car pulled up at the corner, some kind of Lincoln Town Car or Cadillac – huge American metal- and a bunch of guys leaned out the windows yelling at us and cursing before driving away with us chasing them. Some time later a grey-ish Volkswagen or Subaru – maybe even Le Car – some compact shit, pulls up to the same light and somebody yells, “ There they are” and a bunch of people attack the car beating on it and trying to turn it over. I remember standing there thinking; “ok its sort of the same color but wasn’t the first car bigger”? The people in the second car must have been shitting!
You would see the cops scatter as soon as it got dark; they didn’t want any part of LES after 8PM. We mostly traveled in small groups when heading into Alphabet City in the small hrs (Hence the name of the SIN Club, Safety In Numbers) and I preferred walking in the street so someone couldn’t attack me by hiding in a doorway or by coming out of an abandoned building. My wife was heading down Ave B one night about half a block behind someone who was carrying a guitar. A man stepped out from the shadows, stabbed the guy and walked away with the guitar.

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Unified Right interview (2013) by Chiller Than Most fanzine

I started working on the 1st issue of Chiller Than Most fanzine in July 2013, and did my first CTM interview ever with Unified Right shortly after. They were probably the most influential band for me in the last 5 years, these guys made a huge impact on me and their lyrics made me a better person. “Dedicated to those who hate I offer you love because I see all your pain.” Unified Right 2013-2019


This interview originally published in Chiller Than Most fanzine, issue 1 (2013). Pics by Kiabad Meza, Dan Rawe, Casey Wisenbaker, David Burns, Angela Owens.

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CTM – How was Unified Right born? What was the inspiration for the band, who is in it, and what are the goals? What was your motivation to start this band?
Branden: It started in April of last year when Oliver and me really got serious about starting a band but it didn’t actually happen until we got together with Corey after his band Slow Burn played their last show and we just hit it off. We wrote a 3 song demo under the name Payback in November of last year. We played a few shows and eventually decided we could write better songs. So we did and changed the name to Unified Right which we felt fit the tone of the band a lot better. We were just inspired to write unity jams in a style that we all get down with. The band is Oliver on guitar, Zulu Shane on bass, Corey on drums and me Branden on mic. We just wanna play as much as possible and write new songs when we can. Our main goal and ultimately our motivation is to just be a fresh presence in our scene.

CTM – Who came up with the name of the band and does it have a special meaning?
Oliver: I’d like to start off by acknowledging the fact that a lot of people like to joke about our name. A lot of white power references seem to get thrown around and what our name actually means could not be any farther from that. Branden and I came up with the name in a Little Ceasars parking lot. We’d previously played under the name Payback and didn’t really feel like it was a representation of who we are as people and what our band is all about. The name Unified Right is very significant to all of us. If your ideas, outlook, and image stray from the norm of the scene that you’re in, it shouldn’t dictate whether or not you’re accepted. Anybody that has a good heart and a true desire to get into this shit has the right to feel unified. The unified right.

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CTM – When was your first show and how was it like?
Branden: Our first show was a disaster. We forgot alot of equipment, Oliver had to barrow a pic. We blasted through 4 songs in 2.5 minutes and no one seemed to be feeling it. Overall pretty good.

CTM – Your demo was released on tape format. Five awesome songs in 4.5 minutes. Solid ground. What are your influences?
Branden: We didn’t write songs with any sound or band in mind, we just wrote some shit that we felt was sick. Some bands that influence us in everything we do not just music would be Rest In Pieces, Straight Ahead, Madball (7″), AF, and NY Wolfpack.

CTM – Are you satisfied with the results and how have been the reactions so far?
Branden: The last few shows we’ve played have been killer. Lots of friends and good mosh.

CTM – What are your future plans?
Branden: We got a song coming out on a comp and we’re planning on crapping out another tape in the next few months and maybe a live tape. Just keep playin to the people.

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CTM – What is the lyrical content of Unified Right?
Oliver: Unity, individuality, a feeling of dissatisfaction in your immediate surroundings, and being honest with yourself are all things we’ve hit on. I think some may say that the topics we like to talk about have been “played out” but I believe they are as relevant as ever. Branden writes the majority of the lyrics but we all have an input on them and we just write what feels natural. Nothing is forced.

CTM – Digital music is something you have, but a demo tape or record is something you own. Do we still need demo tapes and records in the digital age? What do you thinkabout it?
Branden: The internet is sick. I love that i can listen to basically any band i want whenever i want, but actually owning it is another level of cool.
Oliver: Demo tapes are the life’s blood of the hardcore scene.

CTM – Powerhouse was the first youth crew hardcore band in South Florida. They published a demo tape in 1989 and a seven inch on New Age Records. “Use your brain” is awesome, please cover this song!
Oliver: New Age Records #03 brah! I think Powerhouse rules. My fingers are crossed that I’ll get to see ’em this saturday but it’s looking like my work schedule is gonna fuck that up.

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CTM – I saw a hardcore band in my environment where members liked different type of music. They were thinking differently about music and they were not able to progress. Do you think it’s important for a band of individuals to all have the same beliefs and ideas?
Oliver: I believe that differing ideas and beliefs are what really spices up life and I guess it can both help and hurt a band. But really it’s all about being an individual so diversity is cool. I think it’s cool for the band members do be into their own sorta shit but I’ll tell ya I don’t like hearing genre confusion. I like a unified sound.

CTM – What’s your definition of “Hard” in hardcore? What makes a band a hardcore band in your opinion?
Oliver: Ultimately… No Rules. You dictate yourself within hardcore. There’s a lot of room for self expression and if you’re aware of that opportunity then you’re hard as shit.

CTM – How do you feel about all the reunion shows that keep happening, most recently Judge?
Oliver: Sometimes reunions can be a total bust or just kinda whack but I watched the footage from the Judge set and it looked sick as hell. I personally think a band like Altercation reuniting is fuckin wild and cool. Breakdown still sounds awesome. I don’t feel too strongly either way honestly.

CTM – What’s something about hardcore that you hope always stays the same and what’s something about hardcore that you would change?
Oliver: Hardcore is what you make it and I wouldn’t wanna change a damn thing about the way I’ve made it. That’ll always stay the same. I guess just some of the incenseritu and trend hopping that goes on. That’s pretty dumb but at the same time pretty inevitable. Just stick to the shit that gets you pumped.

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CTM – TOP 5 charismatic frontmans (2008-2013):
Oliver- Branden Stepp: Stompin, hair flowin, skankin about, obviously feels the music within his soul and has my favorite on-stage banter. A real privilege to share the stage with him.
Zizzack: Jumpin around, moshin about, really delivering to the people and always wearing crucial joints.
Crucial John: Groovin hard. I love Give more and more every time I get to see them.
Jeff Perlin: He may no longer be wearing a Murphys Law belly shirt but the boy’s still got it. I saw the 87′ demo lineup live in 2012 TWICEthat’s wild.
Josh P: He fronts the best band of the 00’s.

CTM – TOP 5 demo tapes (2008-2013):
Oliver: Gonna try to stick with more recent releases to maintain relevancy…
Free Spirit Demo: Refreshing. So ill sounding. That hot air balloon diagram is such an awesome looking cover. Truly an eye opening couple of tracks to a lot of younger kids (including myself).
Intent “No Rules” Demo: The sickest shit I’d heard in a minute. Rough, raw, and real. Still can’t stop listening.
WW4 8 Song Demo: Absolutely fucking deadly and who the fuck on earth doesn’t wanna see Mark Porter writing new jams?
Big Contest Demo: Insightful and dark. A real sense of urgency. Straight to the point tracks each one being a mosher’s delight. Their first gig is tonight excited to hear about it. Gil is a great frontman.
No Tolerance Demo ’08: Scary fuckin straight edge tracks. The shit I like to hear. This demo will the stand the test of time.

CTM – I mean the beach is definitely at the top of cool things in Florida. What are the coolest things to do in the Florida area?
Oliver: The number one beach in the US is in our hometown. Yeah the beach is pretty cool. Swim around, get tan, look at hot girls, play frisbee. Bridge jumping is pretty sick here. We got this cool spot called Short Stop that’s good to get snacks at. We just try to practice and get food, hit a show whenever there is one. Unified Right is big into swimming in all sorts of bodies of water.

CTM – Thanks for your time guys. Any last words?
Olver: Naw. Peace.

Outburst photos / Joe Songco

Originally published in Chiller Than Most fanzine, issue 6 (2018).

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CTM – 01. You played your first show with Abombanation, Krakdown, Token Entry at Right Track Inn in late 1987. As far as I know it was an amazing show where Ray Parada was covered in blood from busting his nose open during Outburst set. What are your memories of the first Outburst show?

Joe Songco – The Right Track Inn was this cool little club in Merrick, Long Island. That’s our original bassist Chris Bruno in that shot. I think it may have been ABombANation’s first show too. Rayco and Matt were also from around the way in Astoria and they were regular visitors to our south side of Astoria Park from the Ditmars Boulevard side. I sure do remember Rayco busting his nose open. Personally, it was awesome that he was dancing for us and fortunately he was okay to go up and do ABombANation’s set! I remember loving their melodic sound. I believe it was Jay Krakdown who got us on that bill. They were always so sick with their live show. I remember introducing myself to their drummer John Soldo because his cousin Christina was my classmate and good friend at St. John’s Prep. Along with Leeway, Kraut & Murphy’s Law, Token Entry were one of the established neighborhood bands so it was great to be playing with them. I remember being really nervous doing the long Johnny Feedback snare roll in “All Twisted” at the end of our set because Ernie was watching from the side. I grew up watching all those great Astoria drummers and I didn’t want to botch it!

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CTM – 02. Outburst with Walter Schreifels on bass

Joe Songco – That was our first CBGB gig in December ’87. Breakdown was supposed to headline but had to cancel so we played with American Standard, Department of Corruption and Atrocity. Our bassist Chris had a family trip he was unable to get out of. Chris and Brian were friends with all the Jackson Heights guys in Gorilla Biscuits & Token Entry. Luckily, Walter offered to fill in on bass and I remember he learned the songs really quickly. Aside from GB, he’d already played for Warzone & Youth of Today so his chops were really good. I’m so glad someone snapped that picture to evidence the time Walter played in Outburst!

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CTM – 03. What’s the story of this Outburst photo? Where and when did you take this photo?

Joe Songco – This was taken on the campus of Columbia University in Manhattan. Our roadie and former high school classmate Julio (to my right in the black leather jacket) had gone to Columbia after high school and he invited us one night to come party at his school.

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CTM – 04. Basketball…

Joe Songco – This was taken in Long Island City, which is a neighborhood on one side of the Queensboro Bridge (on the other side is the famous hip hop neighborhood Queensbridge Projects, home of Nas, Mobb Deep, Roxanne Shante, Marley Marl, etc). Jay and his brother Al were big time basketball fans like me and we often got together to hit the courts. On this day, Brian and one of our other roadies Carlos joined us and we played all afternoon. What’s really cool about this shot is I’m wearing the original Run DMC & Beastie Boys “Together Forever” tour shirt. Eminem also wears this shirt in his video for “Berzerk”.

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CTM – 05. CBGB…

Joe Songco – I’m pretty sure this CBGB show was with Breakdown in ’88. That’s Eric Fink from Side By Side/Uppercut about to launch himself into the crowd off of Brian’s back. This photo was taken by the legendary BJ Papas. I remember during our cover of Kraut’s “All Twisted”, Gavin from Absolution/Burn took the mic and sang the whole second verse.

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CTM – 06. Remembering Elkin

Joe Songco – Elkin just roadied the NYC area Outburst shows. Just a few blocks away from CBGB was St. Mark’s Pizza. We’d usually go there after shows or if we had some time in between bands. “Gotta get that extra cheese slice!” he would say, every time. He loved how they would put a handful of mozzarella on top of any slice with a topping before it went into the oven. That’s all he ever needed as payment for his services. Our roadie, my homie.

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Freddy Alva interview (Abombanation/New Breed compilation/Some Records etc.)

Freddy Alva interview originally published in Chiller Than Most fanzine, issue 3 (2014).

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CTM – Can you give us a lesson about the history of Abombanation? Do you have any info how did Abombanation form originally? What was their lineup? As far as I know Ernie Parada (Token Entry) played drums for them only on the demo and at one or two gigs at most. In Your Face Steve played with the band after the demo until the end and actually sang during one show after Ray Parada.
Freddy – I just asked Ray on the origins of the band & he said that the original members were himself on vocals, Matt O’Brien on guitar, Vadim on bass & Larry “Love” Kaplan on drums. He can’t remember exactly when they formed but I’m guessing it’s early 1987. He said Vadim was then replaced by Nick X& Ernie Parada replaced Larry on drums when Larry joined Breakdown in 1988.

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CTM – Are there any particular shows that stuck in your memory?
Freddy – I only saw A-Bomb-A-Nation once at CBGB’s& was lucky to sit in for a practice at Monkey Hill studios in Queens. The CBGB’s show was memorable because a lot of HC kids from Queens showed up to support a band from our neighborhood. I knew Vadim through Chris Wynne from In Effect fanzine & it was really cool seeing a lot of friends on the audience. The band was awesome, I’ve seen a couple of cool pics from that show, seem to remember someone filming it, hope that video pops up someday.

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CTM – The Abombanation demo, to me, sounds much more like a typical NYHC band of the time. We can hear standard fast parts and dance parts, but also a surprisingly distinct sense of melody. What do you think of the band’s sound? How did that differ from previous bands and attempts?
Freddy – I agree that their sound was very different from other NYHC bands at the time. Besides the other, band members, musical skills. I will credit singer Ray Parada for their atypical sound. Ray was an original class of 1982 HC scenester: he’d gone to the 1st shows at the legendary A7 & had also played drums for the early NYHC band Major Conflict as well as in the unrecorded Rat Patrol w/Adam Mucci from Agnostic Front & Sacrilege NY. Major Conflict had a period where they played a more melodic Stiff Little Fingers influenced sound & I think that Ray carried on that sense of melody to A-Bomb-A-Nation. Being around since the 1st wave of HC allowed him to draw from older influences of melodic HC bands like the Posh Boy Southern California sound or 7 Seconds as opposed to a kid that just got into HC in ’87 & all they knew was stuff like Youth Of Today or Breakdown.

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CTM – Their lyrics were not really typical hardcore lyrics. I really like their meaningful lyrics, what do you think about them?
Freddy – I think the lyrics are really intelligent & well thought out. I will attribute that to Ray being older than us. When I first met him, I’d just finished High School & He was already out of college & working in the “real world”. I think that his life experience was a vital part of the lyrics, rising above more simplistic topics like you ‘stabbed me in the back’ or other like-minded fare of the day.

CTM – I heard that there is an unreleased Abombanation album that they recorded but never released. Have you ever heard these songs? Would you mind writing about this unreleased LP?
Freddy – I’ve never heard the unreleased lp& Ray said that he only heard about a couple of minutes of, he wasn’t too interested because it was after he quit the band. I would love to see the demos & maybe this lp to be released some day.

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CTM – Outburst played their first show with Abombanation at Right Track Inn in late 1987. As far as I know it was an amazing show where Ray Parada was covered in blood from busting his nose open during Outburst set. Were you on this show?
Freddy – Unfortunately I was not at this show, actually only made it out to the Right Track Inn only one time. I asked Ray about the blood on stage & he replied that was from catching an elbow to the nose during the opening band, seems he couldn’t get the bleeding under control when they went on. I’m sure it was quite a sight!

CTM – What is your opinion of the band name Abombanation? I saw a few flyers where it was mispelled. Which band name do you like the most off of New Breed? Mine is Beyond. I read that they chose the name because it represents the way they feel about drugs and any other barriers that weaken your life. To be beyond something is to overcome it, or to surpass it. Awesome band name!
Freddy – Yeah, that was an easy name for people to misspell! I love it though, really conveys a lot. I have to say ‘Life’s Blood’ is my favorite band name on the comp. It is such a strong name that, to me, really illustrates what Hardcore is & to an extension; anything you feel passionate about that inspires the very core of your being & affects your life for the long run. A close second is ‘Raw Deal’. That really captures a situation that happens to the best of us & the band’s music is a release from the emotions that go along with said predicament. I was so bummed when they were forced to change their name to Killing Time due to legal reasons. I still never call them by the KT name!

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CTM – Crucial Chaos on WNYU every Thursday night. An awesome radio show a lot of you in NYC grew up listening to. As I imagine it in the late ’80s you would sit in your room and use your boombox to record all the NYHC bands appearing on Crucial Chaos, live sets and interviews. I really love listening to live sets and radio sets. What do you think, was it any different playing a show and playing a live set on the radio? How should we imagine a WNYU or WMFU set?
Freddy – Listening to Crucial Chaos every Thursday night was such a looked forward to experience. DJ Spermicide had such a cool husky voice. A lot of kids definitely had a crush on her just based on her voice & radio personality. Her sidekick on air was Johnny Stiff, an old school Punk Rock dude who’d been around since the beginning & booked some legendary shows. He was famous for being cranky to people calling in to the show. That’s the thing, it was an epicenter of info for the scene. I would tape the whole show to catch up on new releases, get turned on to old classics, listen for show announcements, ticket giveaways, band interviews; not to mention the live sets that we all anxiously waited for & hit the “record” button.

CTM – “Everybody mosh it up Break everything in your house!” What are your favourite radio sets and why?
Freddy – My favorite NYU sets are by bands who I think it’s their best recorded stuff. For example, I’m not a huge Judge fan but I think their NYU is awesome, best thing I’ve heard by them. Same goes for Side By Side, their studio stuff is ok, but the live set is smoking. Others favorites that come to my mind is being @the studio when Fit Of Anger played & all our friends were there, that was really cool. The interviews are classic too, like YDL & Warzone, there are some choice quotes in there.

CTM – I read about an awesome place on 14th street in NYC called Giant Studios. Many well-known NYHC bands used to rehearse there including Krakdown, Warzone, Side By Side, Breakdown, Death Before Dishonor etc. There were rooms A through Z so you could just walk in and hang out and listen to each band rehearse. What are your memories of Giant Studios?
Freddy – Giant studios was a who’s who of NYHC bands rehearsing there at any given time. It was a great place to catch band members if you wanted to interview them. I remember doing a couple of interviews for my New Breed fanzine there. I actually rehearsed with a band called Last Cause there in late 1988 & right next to us Underdog was rehearsing & we saw Sick Of it All coming in as we walked out. I remember going to see my friends in Our Gang rehearse & it would become a live show with like 15-20 kids packed in the rehearsal room doing “stage dives”, moshing& generally goofing around. Great times all around.

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CTM – I heard a funny story about the singer of Uppercut. Steve Uppercut had no idea they were on this compilation until 2006 when he saw it somewhere on the internet. Do you have any funny stories about the New Breed comp.?
Freddy – That’s funny Steve never knew they were on the comp. I think he drifted out of the scene, like a lot if us did, by the 90’s. I dealt mostly with Robert Sefcik, the Uppercut drummer, as far as getting the Uppercut tracks & artwork for the comp. I see Steve all the time now, I do Acupuncture on him & go see his awesome band Kings Destroy that also features Robert on drums.

CTM – Could you talk about the concept of making the cover for New Breed? The picture looks like the Minor Threat EP but taken from the side.
Freddy – The picture of Chaka sitting on the steps on 8th st near the old Venus Records location is meant to be a homage to Minor Threat’s Lp cover. I took a side view of him, the better to show off the Crucifix patch Chaka had on his right shoulder as well as the Air Jordan sneakers he was sporting. That was basically the only idea we had, took a camera one day after shopping for records & went for it. It’s cool that a lot of people dig it, there’s also a tag on the door above by “Shoe”, that’s Rich from All For One & one of my best friends, so that was great that it turned out that way too. I always considered it as our urban tribute to an iconic HC image.

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CTM – Some Records was an awesome meetig place for hardcore kids, bands, zine editors and people that would help launch that second wave of NYHC in ’86. Would you mind sharing some memories about Some Records?
Freddy – Some Records was the catalyst for me getting really involved in the scene, otherwise I would have just been another passive spectator rather than an active participant. I saw a flyer on a lamppost in 1986 that said “American HC” & gave the store’s location. I immediately went down there & bought my first fanzines & demos. This inspired me to do my own fanzine called FTW. The first interview I ever did for my zine was with Ray Cappo right outside the store. I met Chaka through hanging out there. The inspiration for doing the New Breed comp comes from picking up the legendary Guillotine benefit comp tape there & wanting to do something along the same lines.
Some of my favorite memories:
– Duane unwrapping a brand new copy of the Straight Ahead 12″ & playing it nonstop like 10 times in a row.
– Waiting anxiously for the delivery guy to bring YOT’slp& being the 1st one to buy a blue vinyl copy.
– Having a listening party in the store to AF’s “Liberty & Justice” lp w/Nick YDL, John Life’s Blood, Tommy Carroll, Side By Side guys & Alleyway crew dudes.
There are too many good memories of that place. It really was the epicenter & communication hub of the scene, amazing in itself because the place was only about 300 Sq feet & located down inside a dusty basement but in my memory it is NYHC’s grand palace.

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CTM – I know that you are working on a documentary about New Breed and the bands on it. Any updates?
Freddy – The latest on the New Breed documentary is that we finally got a new video editor, gone through two already. This time it’s Sean Murphy, he sang for Collapse on the comp, so he definitely “gets it”. We just have to figure out a good time for all of us to sit down & get this wrapped up. Not so easy these days with families, jobs & other necessities of daily life. It will get done, there’s no timetable, just taking it one day at a time. Thanks for the interest, you will definitely hear more about it as it comes out. It was great reminiscing about these old days that still mean a lot to me. I hope I was able to shed some light on the A-Bomb-A-Nation story, thanks again!

An in-depth analysis of the history of Mental, interview with Ambrose Nzams and Dylan Chadwick / Part II.

An in-depth analysis of the history of Mental, interview with Ambrose Nzams and Dylan Chadwick / Part II.
This interview originally published in Chiller Than Most fanzine, issue 5 (2017). Photos by Dylan Chadwick, Patrycja Gagan, Start Today fanzine, Mike the mosher, Marlon, Chiller Than Most fanzine.

Part I. – https://doyouknowhardcore.com/2019/03/03/an-in-depth-analysis-of-the-history-of-mental-interview-with-ambrose-nzams-and-dylan-chadwick-part-i/

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CTM: At that time the Mental Lp got lots of negative criticism. What do you think was the reason for that?

Dylan: I vaguely remember it getting criticized, but by that point I was tuning out all the negative stuff around them, so I don’t really know. I love that album personally, and saw them a whole lot on the tour they did to promote it. I love that they wrote an LP that was entirely new material and loved the more introspective nature of the lyrics. The big comparison point I remember hearing is that it was “really Quicksand-esque” which sounded really cool at the time because it just wasn’t the type of band you’d expect Mental to be compared to. It would be kind of ironic if the same people who always criticized Mental for not being “serious” enough went on to criticize them for writing more “serious” music, but I bet that happened because so many hardcore fans have such a narrow view towards music, rock and punk and all that.
Ambrose: I can’t really say what it was really like ’cause I was 15 when it came out, but I definitely dismissed it because my peers and elders did. I mean the obvious reason for the backlash would be like the more “adult” vibe of the record; if you got into Mental because you mistakenly perceived it as something goofy and goofy alone then you’d be let down. I would also say that time’s were just changing: the end of Posi Numbers, the crew stuff, “Mental Broke Edge”, the real beginnings of social media, “Desperate Times”, etc. And, call me out if this is a faulty hypothesis, but it feels like back then roasting something or hating on something was more prevalent, or at least more public. If I was being foolish and naively positive, I’d say people were maybe more passionate, but in reality, people just wanted to put people down and could do so easier in the shadows of message-board or (e-)zine anonymity. Now, when a record you and your friends don’t like comes out, you just shit on it in a group chat and ignore it publicly until it goes away.

CTM: Ambrose, you wrote earlier that “Story Time” sounds like the sort of fun faux-fiction tale of the cyclical nature of hardcore that it is and so on and so forth. This is a very interesting topic, so please let us know more about this issue. What do you mean by the cyclical nature of hardcore? Dylan, I would love to know your opinion too.

Ambrose: I always thought it was super obvious, I don’t know. It’s all in the lyrics! “Story Time” is about a kid who didn’t know who he was and could have taken a bad route but “someone showed him something that blew his mind, that’s when he found his kind.” Everyone’s coming of age in hardcore story is probably pretty similar. Later, the kid grows up, doing everything the “right way” (for the subculture) and started to doubt his involvement until he meets a younger kid and “could see in those eyes what almost died” in him. A disillusionment with the mainstream world causing a connection to an outsider culture and then an eventual disillusionment with the outsider culture that saved you, but a reminder of it’s capabilities in the hopeful eyes of a younger kid puts you at peace. “The story never ends, it starts over again.” Related, I was having a conversation with some friends the other night about current hardcore and I’ve been thinking a lot about being 27 and how–although that’s still young in the world–in hardcore, it’s tougher to be moved by the same sort of stuff that would have moved you at 21 (or 19, or 17 or 15, etc.). So now, instead of outright loving or hating something, I think a lot about it’s merits for young kids; if a band is doing something that I think is cool or interesting or has a message or vibe or aesthetic I support, then that’s much more important than me liking their songs. Not to take away from the importance of writing good songs, but I don’t know, I’ve always been a proponent of this shit being much more than music (“…it’s a way of life!”)
Dylan: I’ve always interpreted the song to be about the cyclical nature of LIVING in that you start out, you don’t know shit and you kind of depend on other people to show you the way. Then, you get older and more experienced and suddenly YOU’RE the person people are depending on. Then, you enter new experiences and suddenly you’re the fuckin freshman again. IDK.

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CTM: I’m not sure if I’ve ever talked about this. Me and my grandfather were very close. For the first few days after my grandfather died, I kept waiting for somebody to say something that made it feel better, or less painful. I just put the Planet Mental record on the turntable and play the “You never know” again and again. Honestly, this song helped me so much more than you’d think. Which Mental songs are the most important lyrically to you on the Planet Mental LP?

Dylan: I think Bad Brain. It’s a song (to me) all about not letting complacency and negativity stop you from creating. For me, when I’m not making art, I am miserable. I get really depressed. I 100% vibe with those lyrics.
Ambrose: Honestly, “Earthlings” is probably the most relatable to me lyrically. I feel like I’ve spent my whole life watching other human beings trying to learn how to be a human being but knew all along that those versions of human being-ness weren’t for me. “Don’t care about running, don’t wanna finish the race.”

CTM: There was the song featured on the Sweet Vision compilation “Get A Life”, and then there was “The Evils” on the Generations compilation.(They were on the Stab To Kill compilation and Town of Hardcore compilation too.) “Get A Life” and “The Evils” are severely underrated Mental jams, what do you think about these songs?

Ambrose: Both good songs, both definitely appropriate as comp only tracks. If I had to put them against each other, I’d pick “The Evils” because it’s the best song title (“D’Evils”) and also the lyrics are better.
Dylan: If I’m being honest, I need to revisit “the Evils” cuz I can’t even remember it. I love the breakdown in Get a Life though. I love that they wrote a new song instead of re-doing a version of an existing song already. I did an interview with Greg a while back and he told me the comp was made in one day with everyone in the studio together. To have been a fly on the wall during that recording session!

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CTM: One of the best things about the Lockin’ Out compilation is that I like the Sweet Vision recordings better than the re-recorded versions. What is the best song on Sweet Vision? Why did you choose this song?

Dylan: I have changed my answer on this a bunch. In college, I really loved the SOS song, mostly because I like that noodly guitar shit at the end of the track and always feel that band came out of left field with their references and whatnot. I think a strong answer would be Jaguarz “Survival” because that breakdown is ridiculous and the lyrics are super awesome, like “what’s that noise, was it me or him?” It’s just super cool how it’s a dude’s internal monologue. Ultimately I think the RJ’s track is the best though. It just fires on every level in that it’s already a KILLER song and the best recorded version of it, the sample (which I later learned is from a workout video). It bangs.
Ambrose: The best song on the Sweet Vision comp is definitely “Feeding Time At The Zoo / Hangman’s Noose” but I say that with a hesitance. It’s a great song and the lo-fi comp version feels way better than the LP version BUT it produced two of the worst shirts ever made: the one with the noose printed on the center, right on the upper chest, in between the collar and ‘The Wrong Side’ bolded in all caps; and whatever shirt or shirts that said ‘Feeding Time Is Over’ on the back.

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CTM: If you could release a Mental tribute 7 inch compilation and you can choose any 4 bands you want from old and current bands (each 1 song) which bands would it be and why?

Ambrose: With all due respect, and not to be a copout, but tribute records are the worst. I would also say that a tribute record is the antithesis of what Mental was about. To me, Mental always seemed pro-reminiscing but so anti-nostalgia.
Dylan: I’d have Power Trip do the whole Sweet Vision comp. LMAO. IDK. I really love Lockin Out, but also have not-so-fond memories of the influx of “LOC-LITE” bands who sprung up in the later 2000s doing wacky graphics and graffiti fonts and stuff, minus the clever lyrics and memorable riffs.

CTM: Me and my friends were all so excited to see them when they played Europe in 2005. Mental played all the shows with Justice which released Elephant Skin by the time. We arrived to Vienna early in the morning to catch them in Austria. We spent the day in the city center sight seeing, enjoying the variety of shopping opportunities, and chilling on the riverside. Finally, we managed to miss the complete Justice set and I still have bad dreams about it haha. Mental was sooo bad ass btw, these guys were seriously mental. What’s been the most memorable Mental show you’ve been to and why?

Ambrose: Maybe this disqualifies me from being apart of this, but I never saw Mental.
Dylan: I got to see some great ones. The standout for me was in SLC. They played with Justice and Life Long Tragedy on the Planet Mental tour (I have the flyer somewhere) and then some locals. I won’t go too into it but at that time, SLC was kind of a weird place for shows. Still kind of on that straight edge hangover from the 90’s, so basically if a band didn’t sound like Grimlock or Stigmata, they got no reaction. I’d just started college and was SO hyped up on hardcore you know, like the Posi Numbers era, and had just seen an assfull of summer shows that had blown my mind. So anyway, I’d already seen Mental on 2 different dates of this tour and the reactions had all been insane, but at SLC there was hardly any reaction. I remember being SO ANGRY that no one was moshing LOL. I just remember going crazy. Like air-guitaring through every song, just like giving them the reaction I felt they deserved. I bet everyone thought I was some junkie who’d been let in off the street. They broke up just a few months after so it was the last chance I had to see them really.

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CTM: Breakbeats are drum parts—usually culled from funk, R&B records. Rap music has had its influence on hardcore for a long time, and hip-hop also had a heavy influence on Mental. The rap intro is biblical on the second demo, they made a Whodini cover on their LP, and Mental played a “8 miles” intro on their Planet Mental record release show. Do you like these elements?

Dylan: Yeah definitely. I am not as knowledgeable re: hiphop as I am many of the other subculture musics, but I used to go DL all the songs in the town of hardcore hip hop column. I loved that hip hop has kind of always been a cultural touchstone for NYHC bands, and since Mental essentially played the re-up of NYHC (via Boston) in the early 00’s it totally makes sense hip hop would be a big aesthetic factor.
Ambrose: I always thought it was so cool that Greg was a staunch proponent of current rap. There’s that interview in Town Of Hardcore where the rest of the band kinda clowns him for only being into the current stuff and he doesn’t waver in his opinion. I think that’s really cool.

CTM: Dumptruck helped create the Lockin’ Out sound with their cassette. This is basically left over early Mental tunes that were too hard, and they got one of their friends to sing on them. Do you like the Feelin’ Good demo?

Ambrose: Yeah, of course.
Dylan: Shit I LOVE this demo. I did the sickest Chris Morgado interview like 7 years ago now. We talked wrestling and illustration and Dump Truck and everything. I never published it because I’m a dumbass. But yeah, I love the Wrong Side. My fav lil nugget from that interview is hearing that Dump Truck had a song called “March of the cockroaches” and (I think) it’s what became “Feeding time at the zoo.” I could be wrong on that last bit though.

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CTM: I think Mental really knew how to do record covers and record release covers right. Rasta cover, Mental Crew cover, Earth Sucks cover, Morgado covers, Sean Taggart cover etc. What do you think about their covers, what do you think of the style of their covers?

Dylan: I feel like I already covered this throughout the interview, but I always loved that Mental didn’t do “stereotypical HC artwork” for their records. For the most part, none of the LOC bands did. It wasn’t like generic youth crew live shot stuff or metalcore skulls and cursive lettering…just kind of like a visual overdose that pulled queues from tons of artists I liked. Like, you know the Look Alive cover kinda looked like Keith Haring art, or the Rage of Discipline LP looked like one of those generic DJ sleeves. That shit always made you wonder what the tunes contained within sounded like, you know? Yeah, I will always love the fact that Mental’s covers were unique.
Ambrose: And You Know This cover is a little crude and juvenile, Get An Oxygen Tank is cleaner, more pro, features art by an OG. Yo! is far from subdued but it’s a step down from the colorfulness of GAOT, and then Planet Mental is muted and more abstract. Every record cover tells you so much about the record. As far as the special covers, I’ve always been partial to ‘Earth Sucks’. I know it’s simple, but sometimes simple’s the best.

CTM: My personal favourite cover is probably the Mental cat cover of the Bum Rush EP. Why did they change the artwork, what do you think?

Ambrose: Honestly, no idea. Love the cat’s slippers.
Dylan: I never really got the story, and I’ve asked! No idea. That is a good cover. I remember when it was making the rounds on the internet though!

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CTM: Thanks for the interview guys! Finally, what are your fave Mental t-shirt designs?

Dylan: The Pam Grier shirt is the only right answer.
Ambrose: On Instagram the other day, this woman I know posted a picture of her in a white longsleeve with the word ‘Mental’ like repeatedly stamped and then stamped over it with a sort of white border was a red or orange ‘Mental’ in the same font as the blue, and I think that might win. Need that shirt. Prior to seeing that one though, my favorite was definitely the black Elephant shirt. They didn’t make many black shirts, so that one feels special. Also, in the market for the Mental / Desperate Measures ‘Lock Up Your Daughters’ tour shirt too. That one couldn’t really fly in the modern era. The only Mental shirt that I currently have is the yellow one with the gorilla on the front and the back. I’ve worn it out a total of one time because I’m not quite confident in that yellow. The Pam Grier one is obviously great, but I can’t wear that in public. Before we exit, next time we gotta talk about the Yo 7″. “Bootleg” are my favorite Mental lyrics; “They cared, I care, you should care.” Incredible.