I was browsing the “Time & Pressure” photobook (by Chris Bavaria) and that’s when I got the idea for this column. While I was admiring these awesome pictures I was thinking how great it would be to get more info about some of my favourite photographs. It is originally published in the 2nd issue of Chiller Than Most in 2014. (Click the image for larger size.)
Flowerhead issue, 2015.
Pics by miguelrdelangel, Michael Andrade, Patrick Orozco, Angela Owens, Just A Minor Threat, Chris Suspect, Farrah Skeiky.
CTM – Hey John! You are going to do a European tour again, you stoked?
Crucial John – Hey man, we do go back to Europe in July and I’m looking forward to being there in the summer and seeing the sun. Last november when we were there, it was dark and overcast the whole time.
CTM – The main function of an opening track is to encourage us to listen to the album. The track Sonic Bloom is incredible. I just remember thinking, holy shit, this may be one of the greatest opening tracks I have ever heard. How important do you think is to choose the best opening track? What are the most memorable (punk/hardcore) opening tracks for you?
Crucial John – I actually was pushing for the song “Heart First Opened” to be the lead off track but everyone else in the band was really against it. I like that song and I liked how it just busted right in, there was no epic build up or typical opening track dramatics. But yeah, Sonic Bloom really is a great opener and with the backwards guitar, it introduces the album really well. It’s a song we have been playing live for about 3 or 4 years and were saving it for our first full length so it also had that weight of familiarity. I think sequencing for a record is really important, it just gets so stressful from inside a band, it’s hard to agree on anything. For me, speaking strictly hardcore, “Flame still burns” is probably my favorite opener. Knowing they broke up, and then got back together and the record they release next starts with that song, with those lyrics and “WE’RE BACK!!”, that combo is hard to beat. “Make a Change” and “Expectations” are also great openers. Black Flag always seemed to get it right with rise above, my war, and slip it in being among the best. Some others I love are Lifestyles from kings of punk, make me an offer from Desperate Measures, High Hopes, Signed off, and Death of a Salesman. And a new opening track that I can’t stop listening to is “Gravity” from “Non-stop feeling”.
CTM – Writing and recording the Electric Flower Circus/Sonic Bloom records, what was different about writing and recording the first Moonflower st 12″?
Crucial John – Well, the writing and recording for the first 12″ was all super new to me. I had recorded some stuff before here and there, but that was my first real recording experience. Structuring the vocals and writing lyrics came easily at that time from what I remember, and I think its because I was so amped on doing a band, I had a lot of ideas and was ready to get it all out. That first record was right off the heels of a huge change in my life and everything just sort of exploded out of me. I had spent the last 3 or 4 years in the air force waiting to be in a band full time and making music. My girlfriend of like 3 years at the time didn’t want to come with me and we ended up breaking up a few months before I moved. That crushed me and a lot of lines and themes on that first record are about that situation and things happening as a result. The song “Life Unknown” for example was about my first serious girlfriend in high school, we dated for about 3 years and during the last year she started hanging out with a guy who she would tell me about and say they were just friends. We eventually broke up and come to find out, that friend of hers she was hanging with previously had committed suicide a few months before we broke it off. 5 years later she eventually tells me that she was cheating on me with this guy while we were together and he was trying to get her to break it off with me and start dating him. She eventually decided to stay with me, and the guy killed himself a little while after. That shit blew my fucking mind, and I felt really guilty for awhile afterwards. I’m always curious what people think that song is about, no one has ever told me. But yeah anyways, I feel like this recent batch of records (Electric Flower Circus LP, Sonic Bloom and Electric Flower Cult EP’s) were written during one of the best times in my life. I was definitely stressed with writing that many lyrics but I feel like overall, I was extremely optimistic and enthusiastic and it shows on those records. I like my vocal performance the best on the LP and I think obviously I had just learned what works for me and hopefully it continues to improve. This next Give record is probably going to be a little different lyrically as it will reflect all these current transitions in my life. I’m not sure what’s gonna come out, but I can see it being a little more aggressive.
CTM – Lets talk about your lyrics. What were the first bands who’s lyrics you really connected with?
Crucial John – I don’t think I can really remember. I’ve always felt like I was late to the party with music, everyone else I talk to seems to have gotten interested in it at a younger age than me. I know the first piece of music I ever owned was a cassette tape of Storm Front by Billy Joel. I got it for xmas in ’89 when I was 7 years old and it was the first time I remember thinking it would be cool to own music. I was really into that song “We didn’t start the fire” just like probably everyone else on earth. I think the song “Downeaster Alexa” is to blame for my weird attraction to the ocean, beaches, and boats. After that I think I had a few other cassettes here and there but I didn’t really start buying a lot of cd’s until I was 13 years old. Lyrics were my favorite part of a song right away and I think getting into alternative rock, and punk, and classic rock, I liked the lyrics, but I didn’t really connect. For example, “Fight Fire with Fire” blew my away but the lyrics didn’t make their way into my heart and all of the Misfits lyrics were awesome and I loved them, but it didn’t go beyond an aesthetic appreciation. I didn’t really understand there were greater themes at work in certain songs, it all just seemed to service the music and that was it. Eventually with Minor Threat and especially Youth of Today, those were the first bands were it felt like the lyrics described situations directly in my life and it kind of helped twist me into appreciating lyrics of all types. It helped open up doors and I can pick little things here and little things there from lyrics from all types of genres that are meaningful to my life. It’s all a time and place thing for each person. Hearing something like Rudimentary Peni at a young age, I would have had no idea what was really happening lyrically, but could eventually come around. And now I can hear a line like “We need to talk” and set to the right backdrop, it can just melt your mind.
CTM – Which books and movies would say have left impact on your lyrics? Do you have any books or movies that have been especially inspiring you when writing lyrics?
Crucial John – I can’t think of any movies or books that were direct inspirations, but as a whole, all of that is a huge influence on me. I spend a lot of time getting wrapped up in fictional stories of some type, I love that shit just like anyone else. I can say I used to be obsessed with the book Less than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis. I love the story but the structure and overall vibe that is created with that book is what really attracted me. I have some fantastical infatuation with Los Angeles and I think it’s mostly due to that book. I was just last week reading that book Dark Alliance by Gary Webb again and remembering how much that thing took over my mind when I first read it. I have this on going dream to one day create a dramatic TV show centered around the crack cocaine explosion in LA and across the US in the 80’s. Somewhere I have written down story arcs and casting recommendations and all sorts of dumb shit. I don’t know what influence it’s had on my lyrics, but those are a few books that have really gripped my mind so maybe its seeped in in some way. I wouldn’t even know where to begin with movies, those things probably influence every aspect of my life in good and especially bad ways, there is no way of knowing really. I know Apocalypse Now is a very cliche movie to cite as an influence but that fucking thing is a flat out undeniable masterpiece that has stuck with my since I first saw it. I used to drive 8 hours to Texas almost every weekend to see my girlfriend at the time in like 2006 and I would listen to the audio from that movie on repeat the whole time. “Cleans Death” is my favorite piece from the soundtrack and I have dreamed of working it into a song ever since I first heard it. I have a 5 hour long bootleg work print of that movie that is real wild and an original program and ticket stub from when it was first released in theaters in ’79. For current American directors, Fincher, Mann, and Anderson are doing wonderful things. I like every fucking movie though.
CTM – I know that TFS will always be your favorite hardcore band, you were a member without actually playing an instrument. (Apart from that, you played bass for them at their first show.) What was the most important positive impact TFS had on your life? To me the message of your song “Learning To Die” is similar to Stephens’s “We All Die”.
Crucial John – That’s hard to say. I loved a lot of his lyrics and actually Aaron had a big hand in helping with themes and ideas and certain lines for TFS, but the influence of those lyrics would probably be more apparent to someone looking from the outside. I would say the biggest lasting impact they made on me is really just introducing me to everything. I traveled all over and met a lot of people and got involved with a lot of things because of that band, that’s something I always think about. They kind of helped hand the world to me. Again, maybe the lyrics had some type of influence on my lyrics that I’m not aware of, but I can’t really say. I can see the similarities with “We all die” and “Learning to die” but “We all die” to me was always a song reinforcing the idea that our time is limited and we should take advantage of the things we do get. I wrote learning to die about a lot of people who never seem to have a good thing to say about anything, and are either caught up in projecting an image or are actually miserable people. Seems like a slow decline to me.
CTM – Most of the bands say that, their earliest rehearsals are some of their favorite memories of the band’s life. Just the overwhelming feeling of making music for the first time, and hearing the first songs come together is the greatest thing. However, I can see that your initial enthusiasm for the band wasn’t replaced by disinterest. You are still full of new ideas. It seems to me you are still enjoying the creative process. What is your opinion about this?
Crucial John – That’s cool that it’s apparent because it has felt the same the whole time for me. I might be more excited now. I think I was always just real excited to execute this vision and to see what it could grow into, and as time goes in, it’s still just as exciting to keep adding on, expanding and see how far you can twist something. Ian just sent me a practice recording for a new song the other day and I felt the same as I did years ago when they would send practice recordings to me for songs that we recorded for the first 12″. I don’t know, isn’t that how everyone feels about being in a band or being involved in some type of creative project? And if not, why would anyone do it. I only want people in my life ready to die for the things they love.
CTM – How did you come up with the idea for the artwork for the Electric Flower Circus? The coverart of the Electric Flower Circus looks like similar to the Stone Roses iconic, paint-spattered NME magazine cover composition.
Crucial John – I don’t even remember what inspired the idea, maybe it was the Stone Roses, but I don’t know. Painting yourself is obviously not some big new idea, but I had the idea for awhile and always told myself when we do our first LP, that’s what I wanted to try and do. I just think it shows commitment on the bands part to a few different degrees and let’s people know we aren’t playing around (or that we are completely playing around).
CTM – I read that at the end of the photo shoot the Stone Roses needed to shower but the photographer had to break the news to them that there were no showers in the building so they put hand prints all down the stairwell of the building. How was your photo session? Share some funny stories about this session.
Crucial John – Getting everyone in the same place to execute that cover shot was a huge headache and was a factor in delaying the record for sure. We had one open day before a show in New Jersey and everything took longer than expected, the pictures weren’t coming out right and I was just getting really bummed because I didn’t think it was going to work out. We took the pictures in rock creek park in DC and on the walk back to our house, I tried one more thing and thats what ended up being the cover of the record. Everything ran longer than we thought and we had to be at a show in NJ and we didn’t know if we were gonna be able to make it. Our friend Eric booked the show and he stalled everything as long as he could and we drove straight there, had no time to clean up and by the time we got there, we had to load in, set up and play. It worked out perfectly because with something like that, it’s best to delay being at the show until the last possible second. So we showed up with our bodies still painted, set up right away, and played. It was pretty awesome. I don’t think a single picture exists from the show though. I have a red No Tolerance shirt thats still stained from the paint from that day.
CTM – Which British indie/britpop bands would you say have left an impact on Give?
Crucial John – I can’t speak for everyone in the band but for me it would have to be New Order, Ride, and the Happy Mondays. All for a variety of reasons, but those three really left an impression on me. New Order fucking especially is the most amazing band that lasted for years and never put out a bad album. These new audio clips from their upcoming album have me feeling good! If anyone tells you that Joy Division is better than New Order, they are either young or completely stupid. Happy Mondays are like the coolest band that has ever existed and impossible to replicate. Besides that I mean all the classics like The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, The Who, etc all that shit is big for each of us in different ways. The band LOOP is a big favorite of mine and Neds Atomic Dustbin, Lowlife, Jesus and Mary Chain interviews, Suede, Oasis, The Smiths, and Adorable, the song “Vendetta”, fuck man. Too much good shit. There is probably someone in give that likes any band from the UK in some way. But yeah, obviously a lot of the aesthetics are a big influence. There is a great early Ride interview where they are asked how they feel about being compared to The Smiths for using flowers on the record covers and people bringing flowers to shows, and Mark just responds with “flowers are for everybody”. Love it.
CTM – You guys are very creative musically and artistically and with merch too. You worked with lots of different artists. Did you give them any instructions or did they come up with these concepts themselves?
Crucial John – Yeah, with everything we have done, it’s been me kind of directing what I want or providing a sketch or outline. I’ll try and convey the idea as close to completion as I can and then they just kind of make it real. Like with the record layouts, I’ll usually sit down with Evan and tell him how I want things to be placed and look, and he makes it all happen. We have been doing it together for this long, we kind of know each other well and he can already predict what I’m going to want. With other people, I usually always try and provide as many references and direction as I can. I just think it’s easier than saying “I want something cool, do whatever you want”. In my experience, that usually doesn’t work out well. Every so often someone will submit something out of the blue and it works beautifully. The artwork on the shirts for this European tour was given to me after we played a set a few months ago in Wilkes-Barre. A young kid just walked up and said “I drew this for your band” and handed me two pieces of paper with that artwork on it. I was blown away to say the least.
CTM – Breakthrough was a totally different thing in your life musically and everything else considered. How would you say that your time in Give has changed you as a person?
Crucial John – Well I’ve been in Give since around 2006 in some capacity and we became active at the very end of 2008 so that is a long time and I’ve probably changed in ways I don’t even realize. That question would probably be best suited for someone else.
Ian Marshall – John is pretty similar to his Pos-Top days, despite what some may think. The major changes are aesthetic. You can no longer see his erection while he performs, this may be on the rest of the members of Give. Are we not appealing enough? John has learned to revere Superchunk. He has always been a synth-pop loving quiet boy and he still talks about Convicted and Envy (not the Envy that black pants people like). John has become a better man and a better lyricist. He is aging like a fine, unshaven wine.
CTM – What are your memories playing a song with Jason Farrell? How did that collaboration happen anyway?
Crucial John – We played our record release show in DC with Red Hare and Swiz and I had told Jason, who lives in Los Angeles, that we were coming to California soon. He offered up his gear if we needed it and we ended up using a cab and head of his the whole tour and I asked if he wanted to play guitar for us for a show. It was short notice but he thought it was a cool idea and showed up to our second LA show downtown at 7th street warehouse and said he was good to go on three songs, “Voodoo Leather”, “I am love”, and “Sonic Bloom”. We played those songs last and he jumped up and did them. The whole set was great and the vibe of that show was so cool. The microphone chord snapped in half during one of the last few songs and it was the only one there so we had to go without vocals the last two songs. I remember thinking “Is Jason gonna sit back and just play and chill out or is he going to do his usual?” He ended up totally doing his thing, cutting back, running here and there, stutter stops, it was really cool. The best memory was after the set, Jeremy Stith, singer of Fury was telling me how stoked he was about the Farrell appearance and saying he has to get a pic with him before the night closes out. I tell Jason “Hey man, my friend Jeremy is trying to get a pic with you before you leave” and he responds with “Oh, you mean the kid that stolen my fucking bands name”.
CTM – I really love your Voodoo Leather tape. To me, this is the band’s most experimental release and is significantly different from your other stuff. I definitely think this release has the most psychedelic vibe in the history of the band. The Voodoo Leather tape is “heavy”, the Electric Flower Circus LP and the Sonic Bloom EP are more “rockish”. What is your opinion?
Crucial John – I agree that it is our most experimental release and I remember when the time came to do that tape, Ian had those songs for awhile and “Daisy Pains” was a song we wern’t sure how to finish and the snake pair we had jammed on for awhile and didn’t know where to put them. I was talking with Heartworm about the release and we wanted it to have exclusive songs and those were some of the songs we had been working at the time that didn’t have a home yet, so we decided to just put it all on that tape. There was no big plan for the songs that ended up on that tape, it was just all of the weirder stuff we had at the time. Voodoo Leather I think is more straight forward and was a song that Ben had written right around that time and I was real excited about it. We recorded the music for that tape here in Maryland at Angela Instuments (the place Gene and I work, and also where we practice) and I went up to Boston to do the vocals. Our friend Chris recorded it all for us. I can appreciate both approaches to musical output, for example some bands are very strict and specific in executing a vision and about what they release and other bands let it all hang out and showcase everything. Like Sonic Youth for example, who couldn’t seem to stop releasing music and always had side projects and weird limited releases. I feel like that tape is more in the latter category for us. Ian can probe explain more about the songs than I can…
Ian Marshall – You are probably onto something because those songs ended up on the tape because they were sort of outliers. Snakey Charmer predates Give. I wrote it with Gene for a band him and I never did and when I joined Give we learned it. Anytime we recorded something there was not much consensus on using the song so it just kinda hung around. Eventually I wrote a sequel, Snakey Rider, and the pipe dream was to have them flow into one another on a recording but time did not allow for that. Daisy Pains was written as an ending to a song that we recorded last year for an EP on Lockin Out. There was a complaint that the ending the song had was not cohesive enough with the rest of the song and for some reason Gene and I thought if we write this other ending that is even longer and has even less to do with the song than it would work out fine. The song that ended up on the Lockin Out EP remained as is and the wacky ending eventually got used as Daisy Pains.
CTM – What are your most memorable moments from your previous European tours?
Crucial John – I’m not good with specific moments, if you see us on tour and are curious about stories, ask our friend 85 or Ben. They have much better memories and can probably give you a rundown on a ton of interesting and funny experiences. I will say that touring with No Tolerance was great because they are one of my current favs and it’s always cool to see a band you love play every night. You get to see mistakes, good sets, bad sets, etc and thats always cool.
Ben Schultz – Playing with lots of cool bands and meeting nice people from all over Europe are probably the best and most memorable parts of any past European tours. Some more personal memories include the stench of the bathroom at cafe blitz in Oslo, meeting Denmark’s most famous rapper (Jonny Hefty), being harassed by Austrian police for no real reason, and, of course, 85 throwing a stranger’s dirty underwear on Dan’s head so that he’d stop snoring in Flensburg (sorry Dan but I was too afraid to tell you in person).
CTM – I heard that you met the son of the current Prime Minister of Hungary on your last European tour! Haha!
Crucial John – Ha, that was a fun time. I was hanging with Laszlo after the show and we were walking all around the city and I remember he ran into a friend and we stopped to chat for a sec and then went our separate ways. Afterwards he explained that it was a classmate of his and he was actually the son of the Prime Minister. Pretty cool, Laszlo was a great host and guide and I had a blast on that trip to Budapest, really like that city.
CTM – You are a TMNT fan, tell me something about your adoration of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles! Who is the Krang in the Give crew?
Crucial John – Ha, no idea who the Krang is in the crew, not sure I even know anyone who would be similar to Krang. I’ll say my friend Ahron for the sake of an answer because he is the biggest TMNT fan I know besides myself and he is a small insane person and I love him. For Give, Ben is Donatello, Ian is Ralphael, Doug is Michaelangelo, Dan is Leonardo, Austin is Casey Jones, Ashley is April O’Neil, and Gene is the shredder. Maybe Ahron is actually the rat king because he is the only person I’ve known that has picked up a dead rat with his teeth. For most interesting and favorite characters I’ve always loved Baxter Stockman, was real into the way his action figure looked when I was young and I’ve always thought the mousers were really well developed. The cartoon iteration of Baxter was the version they ran with in all of the video games and he looks so cool, especially at the end of “Big Apple 3am” in Turtles in Time. The cartoon and playmates toy line were my introduction as a kid and I didn’t read the original comics until way later, and it’s really cool to see what and how things were translated The Triceratons were a very cool part of the comics and I don’t think they got their due in the cartoon. Leatherhead was an awesome toy and even more vicious in the comic. April O’Neil was a lot more fleshed out in the comic and I loved all the drama surrounding her character. A lot of the characters created specifically for the toy line were at the very least, interesting looking. I really love them all. The TMNT rouges gallery might be my all time favorite, the only other two that even come close are Batman (Joker, Scarecrow, Penguin, Mr. Freeze, Firefly, etc) and Spider-man (The Lizard, Doctor Octopus, Sandman,Venom, Kraven, Green Goblin, etc). TMNT is very near and dear to my heart and is closely associated with my childhood, it just hit at the right time. The cartoon is awesome, but I haven’t see every episode, the toy line is incredible especially the first three series releases, and the comic is among my favorite ever. The “return to new york” and “City at war” story arcs are classic and I would recommend them to anyone that enjoys comic books. The first TMNT film is a masterpiece and I like all the others to varying degrees.
CTM – I know that the music is completely done for the Lockin Out release. What are your future plans after the LOC EP is released? Are you working on new songs?
Crucial John – That Lockin Out EP is taking longer than expected but I’m working on the layout now and it should be out later this year hopefully. Future plans for us right now is to just release more music and play more shows. The format will most likely be a 12″ but nothing is for certain. Doug came down to hang and practice with us a week or so before the European tour and we practiced and demo’d around 8-10 new songs and I’m sure more will creep in before we actually record. Ben, Ian, and Doug always have a ton of riffs floating around. We are always working on new songs, I wish I could keep up with lyrics.
CTM – Sometimes you look like Axl Rose in your vintage Nirvana baseball hat. In the music video for the Guns N’ Roses song “Don’t Cry“, a Nirvana baseball hat is visible to the side of Axl’s left leg when he is lying down in the psychiatrist’s office. Axel is also seen wearing the hat in an interview that was filmed while making the video. Despite there are various live videos where Axl shows hatred towards Nirvana to the crowd. Why did Axl Rose hate Kurt Cobain so much?
Crucial John – Well, that whole feud is well documented and basically stemmed from Kurt slamming Gun’N’Roses in interviews and just talking shit in general. I also think Nirvana turned down an opening slot on some tour with them or something. So after all that Axl started firing back and there is that famous incident at the VMA’s where Axl threatened to beat Kurt’s ass and told courtney to shut up after they sarcastically asked him to be the godfather of their child. Who knows, Nirvana is one of my favorite bands ever but both of them rock hard and are insane so who cares. I bought the Nirvana hat, which is a promo item for the release of Nevermind from Joint Custody about two years ago, Ritter texted me a picture and said a guy had come in with a nirvana hat and asked me how much I would pay for it. I replied saying “any amount” and he ended up getting it from the guy for $25. I’ve worn it every day since except for a brief period where I lost it earlier this year. The day after our record release in December, Swiz played a show at the Black Cat in DC and I lost it in the mayhem during the first song. It was packed and I searched between every song and at the end of the night but was never able to find it. I was super bummed and considered it lost but a month later we were on tour in Cali and I wake up to a text from Ritter that just showed our friend Ambrose wearing the Nirvana hat. Supposedly Ambrose had been at a flea market type event held at the Black cat that day and a guy walked in wearing the hat. Ambrose approached the guy and the dude said “Oh yeah, I found this hat on the ground at the Swiz show that was here recently.” Ambrose sweet talked him and got it back for me. Friends are cool, shop at Joint Custody.
CTM – Is there a connection between the colors of the singles and the lyrics/titles on the records? (Heaven is blue, love is red etc…)
Crucial John – There isn’t and now thinking about it, I don’t even remember the reason we used purple and blue first. I did all of those covers with Evan and we may have played with each record to see which color worked the best with the photo, but that probably isn’t even true. It was completely random. Obviously we wanted to use all primary and secondary colors, so that’s why the “I am Live” 7″ on Photo booth ended up yellow.
CTM – Last words?
Crucial John – Everything is cool forever.
This interview is originally published in Chiller Than Most fanzine, issue 6 (2018).
“YO CTM! Thanks for the interview when we had our first demo out!
We have a new recording coming soon! We have had a lot of fun recording this. We’ve been trying to just do what we felt like. We have been inspired by the great bands like Sheer Terror, Agnostic front, early Madball just to name a few (maybe the listeners can name more bands haha) but the recording will soon drop on bandcamp and hopefully a physical copy by the summer!” March 01, 2020
CTM – What’s up Rich. Give us a little intro to who Hypocrite is please.
Rich Perusi – Hypocrite is a hardcore band based in Copenhagen made up of myself playing guitar, Matti on drums, Jonas on vocals and Matt aka Parsons on Bass. We’ve been playing together for about a year, after Matti, Jonas and I spent about a year before that trying to put a band together. It finally rounded itself out when we got Matt involved. Him and I had a lot of mutual friends from the US but had never met before – but its been a great fit since.
CTM – How was the record release gig with Burn?
Rich Perusi – The release show was awesome. We were all SUPER excited to get to play with Burn – I am always amazed at how powerful and energetic they are every time I’ve seen them play. We made some record release sleeves for our 7″ that I’m still on the fence if they were cool or corny – but I guess that’s my fault since I do most of the design in the band. Shout out to the Murda Twinz Jeppe & Andreas for hooking us up with the show! They do so much for hardcore in Copenhagen.
CTM – Take us back to when and where Hypocrite started? I know that Hypocrite is comprised of two Danes and two Americans. Sounds like there might be a good story there, how did you find each other? When you first started this band what were your intentions?
Rich Perusi – Honestly I think we found each other through shows. It’s kind of the age old story of hardcore. You see the same faces at shows again and again and eventually you start talking. I think I was lucky moving to a new country and having something like hardcore and skateboarding that allowed me to easily meet people who shared similar interests. After about a year of living here I met Matti and Jonas – and it clicked. Initially when I moved here I didn’t really have any intentions of doing another band – but with Jonas and Matti I found people who were into all the same things I was and had similar ideas about the sound they wanted in a band. We had a few start stops over the years, with different people coming in and out. But like I said, after Matt moved over here to go to school and joined we were able to get really focused and make it work really well.
CTM – Most of the bands say that, their earliest rehearsals are some of their fave memories of the band’s life. Just the overwhelming feeling of making music for the first time, and hearing the first songs come together is the greatest thing. What was the writing and recording process like? What’s the best part of Hypocrite’s composing process?
Rich Perusi – Once we got Matt involved it really came together (I don’t want to blow too much smoke up his ass) but before that it sort of felt like we weren’t making any kind of progress, I had written some songs, but with just drums, guitar, and vocals it needed some rounding out with the bass. Recording was ok – we did it with this guy called Jesper at this place Mayhem here in Copenhagen. It’s a noise venue / space – connected closely to the Posh Isolation scene for a while. Another band Ond Tro from Copenhagen had recorded there – and I liked the sound so I contacted Jesper. I didn’t want it to sound polished, and I’m really happy with the sound on the recording. It was funny because he wanted like 500 danish crowns, a pizza and a 6 pack of beer to record us. But in the end he didn’t want the pizza or the beer – just the money.
CTM – What bands influenced you apart from obvious connections to Negative Approach and Circle Jerks?
Rich Perusi – Agnostic Front, Black Flag, Warzone, Underdog, Redd Kross, SSD.
CTM – Are you satisfied with how the record came out? How do you think it’s been received?
Rich Perusi – Yes I’m really happy with how it turned out – I think the reception has been positive. We are still so new, and the scene here is different than other places I’ve lived, but it has been really warm – and we are steadily getting asked to play shows so that’s a good sign.
CTM – Most of your lyrics are really direct, straightforward and angry. I suppose often the best way, or the easiest way is just that simplicity, and just speaking to the most sincere and easiest way of saying it. What do you think about this?
Jonas – I think that hardcore songs in general should be straight forward songs, I like songs with a lot of messages that are hidden but for me it seems the best way to get my ideas out, is to be in some way more direct.
CTM – “Destroy” is a song that really sticks out. It feels like a take on reclaiming your own humanity and fighting against a homogenized way of thinking.
What was the inspiration behind that song?
Jonas – The song is about my thoughts on danish society, we are supposed to be the happiest country in the world, but really it’s all fake, who cares about who is the happiest country when a lot of the people are tired of it. I don’t like the politicians in this country, we have some good stuff, like high taxes that I’m proud of.. but I’m not proud of corporations not paying taxes, and I’m not happy with the racism that is growing in the country, and that has always been there. When I sing, “we’re are never accepted, by the color of our skin, and by the way we dress…” that is because of how it was when I was younger, I was frustrated with everyone asking me where I was from (My mom is danish and my dad is from Iran but I don’t speak farsi or Arabic since he’s an arabic minority) I would say to everyone I was Danish and people would say… “but where are you really from?” That shit makes me angry – and it’s not only danes who would say it – people of different cultural backgrounds would ask the same question, so why can’t one be accepted for who they are as a person? I’m not happy with the hyporcracy that there is in this country, most people don’t know that there are 3 phases in an asylum seeker, and in the first phase it says you can’t work.. still people the politicians are feeding this lie that asylum seekers don’t wan’t to work.. that is what makes me angry and what the song is about.
Hypocrite Demo recording 2020.
CTM – How has hardcore affected your life choices?
Rich Perusi – Well I found straight edge through hardcore, and I made a lot of choices because of straight edge in my life. I found the Bad Brains and trying to keep the PMA through hardcore, and that has affected how I live my life even beyond straight edge. It made me realise the power of a community and an attitude about doing things yourself.
CTM – Let’s talk about “What’s Wrong With Me”. What are you trying to present with the song?
Jonas – Most of the lyrics are my thoughts on my life and specifically about how I try to battle the thoughts inside my own head, in the first verse im saying “…I keep telling myself to man the fuck up” is the stereotypical macho man image, that I think every boy in the world, at one point has been told… man up! Fuck that shit! But still that thing is stuck in my head, in everything that I do… I try to battle it but it’s hard when that thing has been implemented in your head. And when I say “frustration I keep in the back of my mind” that’s another thing I do, I don’t talk about my frustrations, I’m really bad at it… and some times it all boils over. It’s not a macho thing, I am actually trying to deal with this stuff. I wish I could tell people around me when I’m having a bad time, more often than I do, but it’s a work in progress like life itself.
CTM – I saw that Hypocrite covered “Backfire” by Side By Side, which is an interesting choice to me. The message of this song is really similar to your song called “Waste of Time.”…
Jonas – Simple answer Backfire is just a good song – but to be honest I think that the similarities is that’s it’s about something you see in other people that you don’t want to be. My message is that I’ve seen a lot of people in my life acting like they’re something that they’re not. I never want to be like them, they’re wasting their time trying to satisfy their own egos.
CTM – Earlier today I watched Agnostic Front’s brilliant performance on The Uncle Floyd Show! If you could only appear on one late-night television show, which would it be and why?
Rich Perusi – Saturday Night Live. #1 Because of FEAR #2 Because of Beastie Boys that shit was so inspirational to me (the Beastie Boys performance).
CTM – What was your most listened to hardcore demo in high school?
Rich Perusi – I went to high school in Connecticut – there was a band from there called Sum of All Fears that I loved – I wore their demo out tape out.
CTM – What is the best thing about K-town?
Rich Perusi – Well every year they do the fest – it’s amazing to see how many people come together for hardcore and punk on a DIY level. It’s literally a 4 day party with like 2,000 smiling people – all different but sharing a love for DIY hardcore and punk. The city itself is beautiful, and it’s really easy to live here.
CTM – Thanks for the interview! Anything else you want to say?
Rich Perusi – Thank you for the support and doing the interview! I’m psyched to be part of Chiller than Most!
An in-depth analysis of the history of BOLD, interview with Nathan Simpson (Ancient Heads) and Matt LaForge (Ancient Heads, Mil-Spec). Originally published in Chiller Than Most fanzine, issue 4 (2016). Pics by Boiling Point fanzine, Ken Salerno, No Answers fanzine, I4NI fanzine.
CTM: How was your first time meeting BOLD? Was it love at first sight? What kind of impact did BOLD have on your life?
Nate: My first encounter with BOLD was in the winter of 1997 hearing Youth of Today’s cover of ‘Talk is Cheap’ on “Take A Stand: Live” which came out on Lost and Found. Then I heard ‘Looking Back’ on the Revelation “In Flight” sampler that spring. I liked the song, but it was definitely not what I expected. I had looked at the cover of “Speak Out” and read the description on the Revelation website so many times I was expecting it to sound like another Youth of Today. I picked up the “Looking Back” 12” in the summer of ’98 and, while I enjoyed it, I couldn’t say it was love at first sight. I then saw Matt Warnke do ‘Talk Is Cheap’ and ‘Wise Up’ at the Youth of Today reunion in June ’99 and later that summer I FINALLY got a copy of “Speak Out” (I also got “NYC Hardcore: The Way It Is” the same day) and suddenly everything made sense!! This was the BOLD I had been looking for, and I was instantly hooked. As the years have passed, I have come to prefer the Tom Capone era material. That said, “Speak Out” still slaps.
Matt: It wasn’t love at first sight. The first time I heard Bold was the track “Looking Back” on the In-Flight Program Rev sampler. For more, see my answer to your question about the 7”. I wish I could remember the moment I first saw a Bold shirt. That was love at first sight.
CTM: The songs on Speak Out are awesome both musically and lyrically, I really like them. One of the greatest things on this record – for me – is that most every song has an awesome mosh part. Speak Out songs are not super complex, but these are very well written songs. What is your opinion about this record?
Matt: I think that’s well put: not complex but very well written. You can tell Matt had taken some lessons and learned a bit of theory. The songs tend to hang on recognizable key signatures; they’re not just exercises in throwing darts at the fretboard and hoping for the best. Which, by the way, makes them great for beginner guitar players who want to play HC. Within about two weeks of the first time I picked up a guitar with the intention of learning how to play it — this was five years ago — I was, according to a loose definition of the word “play,” “playing” along to “Clear.” The riffs had, even to my untrained ape ears, a kind of logic, which I later found an explanation for in basic theory. Way more fun than trying to get excited about playing “The House of the Rising Sun.” No shade — that’s a great song — but you know what I mean. On Speak Out Matt shows the songwriting promise that he later fulfilled.
Nate: I think Matt Warnke is an underrated song writer. As you said, the songs are simple, BUT they are incredibly catchy and well structured. They can’t help but get stuck in your head. BOLD’s appeal is build on the big sing-along chorus and Matt was an absolute master of that. I’m also a fan of how every mosh part is unique and avoids the trappings of the generic ‘mosh beat’. It doesn’t hurt when you have as an incredible drummer in Drew.
CTM: Do you like the way this record sounds? I think the quality of the recording is really low.
Nate: In a word, yes. Could it have sounded much better? Definitely. It was recorded at Electric Reels Studio, the same place Youth of Today did “Break Down The Walls” in 1986, a record that has flawless production. But something was amiss when BOLD hit the studio a year later. It’s no secret the compilation versions of ‘Talk is Cheap’ and ‘Wise Up’ smoke those on the LP. The comp version of “Wise Up” was also done at Electric Reels so I’m not sure what happened. At the end of the day, it doesn’t make a difference to me. The record is a classic, through and through.
Matt: I don’t like the way it sounds but I don’t let that bother me. I don’t let whatever relatively minor beef I have with the recording and performances ruin it. I think people can pay too much attention to that stuff. But, at any rate, no, it’s not a good recording. There’s something about the muddy sonics that gives the impression that the tempos are dragging in mud. I think it might be an aural illusion: the songs feel slow because they “sound” slow. I haven’t done a metronome test but I bet the results would be surprising. The comp versions of “Wise Up” and “Talk is Cheap” that we almost all prefer feel like they have more snap and drive, but maybe they don’t. Maybe it’s just a trick of the ears. There are ways to verify these guesses but I choose not to.
CTM: Speak Out matrix says ‘carrot juice’. Do you know the story of this matrix?
Matt: I think Nate and Crucial John have explained the matrix to me, but I’ve forgotten the explanation. This is one of those finer points of youth-crew lore that, in my advancing age, I just don’t have the energy to internalize. The people who do the serious digging, who really work the internet hard and master all the minutiae are awe-inspiring to me. True scholars —there’s no other word for them. Me, I’m no scholar — I’m a journalist by trade, so I’m used to a much less rigorous and much more superficial model of information gathering and information spreading.
Nate: That’s an inside joke about a local health food store the guys would frequent.
CTM: BOLD self titled seven inch. It is pretty insane how quickly they progressed as a band from 1986-1989, people couldn’t get over how much BOLD changed from ‘Speak Out’ the previous year, to this 7 inch. While Tom Capone was doing Beyond, Matt heard their demo and he called him to join them after their summer 1988 west coast tour. BOLD at that time were looking to progress and rock, so he was a great choice for the band. What do you think about this record?
Nate: It’s funny how the focus only ever seems to be on the difference between “Speak Out” and the 7”. Everyone forgets about the differences between “Join Our Fight” and “Speak Out”. In a short time the songs became much more complex and interesting. And this trend naturally continued throughout the band’s tenure. “Speak Out” infamously took a long time to finally be released, well after those songs were written and recorded. While the public was hearing these songs for the first time in 1988, they were already considered old to the band. As I said above, Matt is an excellent song writer, and when he teamed up with Tom Capone, a bonafide shredder, it was only natural that they would continue to refine their sound and take it to the next level. I absolutely love the 7” and all of the songs from the Baby Monster sessions. The song “Speak Out” is my favorite BOLD track.
Matt: The 7” is easily Bold’s best record. In fact, I think it’s difficult to argue against the proposition that the 7” is the best record that the youth crew produced. Of course you can argue otherwise, but doing so is difficult — an uphill battle against taste and Kantian aesthetics. I didn’t always think this way. For one thing, my early exposure to later Bold was not via the 7” itself but via the Looking Back record and, before that, “Looking Back,” the song, which I heard on the In-Flight Program Revelation sampler from ’97. Looking Back is a much weaker record than the 7”. The extra three songs aren’t in the same league as the main four. “Speak Out” and “Looking Back” are soft and shapeless, to my ear, with lyrics that are fine in their own right but pretty pedestrian compared to the sharpness and specificity of the lyrics on the 7” songs. And the “Always Try” redux is a fun novelty but totally inessential. So you’ve got two tiers of quality on Looking Back, and the lower-tier songs clog up the middle section of the record and dilute the Big Four’s power. That’s my take, anyway. I know Nate will aggressively disagree. “Speak Out” is his favourite Bold song, and he’s always stood by Looking Back. At any rate, it wasn’t until I heard the 7” itself — which didn’t happen until an embarrassingly late date, some time in the late ’90s or maybe even the early 2000s — that I got with the program. The other thing that had turned me off was Matt’s interview in that book All Ages, which I read not long after it was published in ’97, when I was 17. In answer to a question about the 7”, he says something along the lines of “That’s the one record I’ll play when people ask me about the band. That’s the one I stand behind.” At the time, I resented him for that comment. I took it as an implicit denigration not only of Speak Out but of simple straight-edge hardcore in general. How could he say that?! How could he hold up the later era — which, keep in mind, I associated with Looking Back, not the actual four-song record he was talking about — as the only incarnation of the band worthy of posterity? I was too young, stupid, and over-sensitive to understand where Matt was coming from and what he meant. But I carried that resentment with me, along with my lukewarm feelings about Looking Back, for a long time. I was a knee-jerk Speak Out partisan until well into my 20s. Not anymore. The 7” is a masterpiece. Next question.
CTM: Drew said in an interview that if Zulu or Tim Brooks played on this last record it would have been a hell of a lot different. What do you think about his personal opinion?
Matt: Drew is a musician, and in that comment he’s giving a pretty frank indication of his opinion of Zulu and Tim as musicians. My guess is he remembers the writing and recording of the 7” as a special process, which involved only the three band members who had the talent, sophistication, and technical ability required to realize any specific vision period, let alone a nuanced and ambitious vision such as what emerged on the 7”. Zulu and Tim would have needed to be accommodated, Drew is saying — their limited playing ability and/or their limited imaginations. Maybe he’s wrong about them, but I’ve no doubt he’s sincere in his belief. He probably remembers that record as a moment in his life when things really came together and something special happened. We all have those moments in our lives, but they’re vanishingly few. So we hold them dear, romanticize them, and marvel at their improbability: “If that one little thing hadn’t happened, then the whole outcome would have been different. Why did everything go right?”
Nate: Without additional context that is a difficult question to answer. If he meant “If Tom Capone didn’t play on this record” then yes, it would have likely sounded more similar to “Speak Out”. But I think it ultimately comes down to who is writing the tracks. I’m not sure Zulu and Tim would have made much a difference. But this is all speculation. I’m happy that it turned out the way it did.
CTM: I mean their lyrics changed a lot from time to time, from “I just know what my scene’s like and I think it fucking rules” to emotional lyrics like “Change within” and “Today we live”. They were all about 14 and 15 years old when they started the band, so I think that they just wanted to be the little brothers of Youth of Today, they just wanted to be a simple cookie-cutter hardcore band without originality and their lyrics on the Crippled Youth EP definitely are reflective of that. As time went on, they started writing about how they were really feeling and they tried to reconcile the experiences out in the wilderness of the world. What do you think about their lyrics?
Nate: I think it’s being harsh and unfair to say “they just wanted to be a simple cookie-cutter hardcore band without originality.” I disagree with that statement completely. What more do you expect from a 13 year-old? Matt hadn’t even had the chance to live the experiences he would later sing of, let alone be to expected to articulate them lyrically.
Matt: The lyrics are good but unremarkable until the 7”. The lyrics on the 7” are as moving and surprising and direct and unfussy as a great John Cheever story.
CTM: ‘You’re The Friend I Don’t Need’ is probably one of the most bizarre lyrics ever because this song was actually written about Drew by Matt. What are your feelings about this song?
Nate: It’s not as bizarre as you may think. Ian MacKaye wrote the entire “Out of Step” album sitting across the table from Jeff Nelson in Dischord house. It’s a great song. Think about how many hours/days/weeks the two of them spent together. And for Matt to feel that way about someone he considered one of his closest friends. Put yourself in that situation. As powerful as it is heartbreaking.
Matt: I think that if we knew how many songs were written, in fits of malice, pique, or jealousy, by one band member about a fellow band member, the number would shock us. Or maybe it wouldn’t. It probably shouldn’t: there’s a long tradition in rock of intra-band subtweeting-via-lyrics, “Go Your Own Way” being the most famous example. What do I think of the fact that “You’re the Friend I Don’t Need” was written by Matt about Drew? I think it’s heartbreaking. I’ve heard a lot of stories from credible sources about the circumstances that gave rise to the song, but I can’t pretend to know what really happened or what was in either guy’s head before, during, and after the composition of the lyrics. All I know is that every one of us has lost close friendships that we thought would last forever. We all know how it feels to suddenly, fall out with someone whom we’ve loved and with whom we’ve shared important, intense periods of our lives. It’s one of the most painful things a person can go through. Think about how long Drew and Matt knew each other, how young they were when they met, how much they went through together, how much the music they created together has meant to people. Think about how much intimacy and love would be produced by all that. And then picture the day when that intimacy and love suddenly became inaccessible to both of them. Even when a friendship degrades gradually, the final separation is always sudden. Listen, if you’re not at this very moment, while reading this, mentally screening a montage of the rise and fall of Drew and Matt’s friendship in the ’80s, and if the soundtrack to that montage is not “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother,” and if you’re not currently on the verge of tears, I don’t know what’s wrong with you.
CTM: Do you have a favourite break down in any BOLD song? Which one is probably the best and why?
Nate: I’m not sure if I could pick one that is the “best”, but one of my favorite breakdowns is in ‘Running Like Thieves’, which some may find surprising. ‘Always Try’ (“Speak Out” version) is another one. The cymbal crash into the bass part followed by Matt’s vocals (“…will al-ways fuck-ing try!”) is stirring before it drops right out into that crunchy-hard outro. One of the best BOLD songs.
Matt: I love the holler in “Change Within.” You can’t argue with the bounce of “Talk is Cheap”’s breakdown. But the “Change Within” holler is my take. Somewhat related: The best transition out of a Bold breakdown is in Running Like Thieves. When the beat picks back up, with Capone playing that little pentatonic theme… man. You could listen the song 12 times a day for the rest of your life and that moment would never cease to thrill.
CTM: What are your favourite BOLD live sets and why?
Matt: The set at the Anthrax where Zulu plays in sunglasses. I love that move by Zulu — an act of whimsy that feels ahead of its time, the kind of gag I’d see in the ’90s and 2000s but don’t associate with the ’80s when everything was still pretty earnest. The youth crew bands are my favourites but there’s an element of self-seriousness in their aesthetics that I enjoying seeing pierced from time to time. Zulu’s shades piece it. “We’re serious about this band, but these sunglasses should tell you a lot about what we’re like offstage.”
Nate: My favorite live set is BOLD’s first show in Washington D.C. at the Safari Club in January 1988. It’s BOLD in their prime, playing as a five-piece (with Zulu) and just absolutely crushing it. Entire room is a mosh pit. Matt’s swagger is at an all-time high (“Don’t be afraid to come up and talk to us. I’d especially like to extend that to all the girls that are here.”) Great stage banter from both Matt as well as the sound man (“Everybody up on stage do a Houdini — disappear!”). An early version of ‘Looking Back’ called ‘Start Again’ is played with a completely different set of lyrics. An incredible set.
CTM: A lot of people don’t like live recordings of hardcore bands, they are deemed as too steril or raw. One of the reasons that I love listening to live sets is because sometimes you can catch genius stage banters, memorable quotes, memorable moments. What are your favourites? Do you like the Mark rap intro for BOLD (The Anthrax Norwalk CT 02 07 1987) ?
Matt: Yes, I love Mark’s rap intro. It’s a damn sight better than the Turning Point rap intro, from the latterday set in, I believe, DC. I always thought that TP thing was a little snarky. I’ll give you my favourite piece of Matt banter. Once again, it’s from the Zulu-in-shades set at the Anthrax. Roughly paraphrased: “Let’s get everyone up front so people can stagedive on you and then you can stagedive on them, et cetera.” That “et cetera” fucking kills me.
Nate: Live sets are such a valuable source of information. I think its so cool to hear early/alternate versions of songs (as mentioned above), or hearing songs that were played live but never recorded (i.e. ‘Till The End’ by Chain of Strength). I’m a fan of Mark Ryan and Supertouch, but as far as that rap intro goes…lets just say I think his mic skills were far better suited to HC.
BOLD with Mark Ryan (Supertouch)
CTM: BOLD reunited in 2005 with Matt on vocals, Tom on guitar, Brooks on bass and Vinny Panza on drums. Porcell who periodically played with the band in the 80s, joined on second guitar. Did you catch them on these reunion shows? I had the pleasure to see them in Austria and Italy, I loved how they updated some of their songs or made little changes in subtle ways. The Vienna show is a great memory for me, we went into the club early that day to hang out. The guys allowed us to check out their soundcheck which was great, and the show was really bad ass. One of my friends lost his tooth and another friend of mine broke his x-rated swatch. Do you have any memories of BOLD reunions?
Nate: I will leave this question to Matt who has one of my favorite BOLD stories.
Matt: I caught this lineup once, at Posi Numbers ’05 in Wilkes-Barre’s world-famous inflatable sports dome. They rocked pretty hard, opened with Running Like Thieves to racucous moshing. But it’s difficult to mention that set without also mentioning the 65-yard Vinny Testaverde-esque spiral that Matt effortlessly tossed when for some reason — possibly related to the gig being held in an inflatable sports dome — a football found its way onstage mid-song. Lets all take a moment to remember and appreciate that spiral.
CTM: Livewire Records worked on a live record (‘Watch As Time Moves Past’) and they wanted to release a new BOLD 7 inch too. These records never saw the light of day but as far as I know they recorded a rehearsal tape with new songs. Have you ever heard these songs?
Nate: I have never heard these songs and hopefully never will. I know the band wasn’t happy with the songs so one can only imagine how terrible they are.
Matt: I have not and I’m not losing sleep over that. I don’t think they had another classic record in them. I say that as a devoted fan.
CTM: Top3 BOLD tees?
Matt: Speak Out — Yellow and red on black. Yes, it’s a bootleg, yes it’s just a repurposing of the LP logo, but it’s perfect. / The dark-on-white logo shirt Cappo is wearing in his “fallback” jump photo from We’re Not in This Alone’s layout. You remember “It’s gotta be the shoes”? Well, it had to be the shirt. / Not Join The fight. I do not care for the Join The Fight design. I realize you didn’t ask to name a shirt I don’t like, but I wanted to take this opportunity to get my feisty take on the public record.
Nate: In no particular order: Summer Tour ’89 — BOLD forewent the traditional full tour back print for a subtle “Summer Tour ’89” under a pocket print Rev Star. The gold print on the front perfectly compliments the regal purple of the BOLD on the reverse side, partially layered on top of Alex Brown’s iconic back cover photo. / Join The Fight — Simply one of the most iconic HC tees ever printed. There’s a reason Porcell is wearing it on the cover of “Bringin’ It Down”. / BOLD Fan Made Bootleg — White tee with BOLD in yellow and black collegiate lettering. A very small number were made by some fans of the band. Highly sought after grail — even for a boot.
Nathan and Matt
Originally published in Chiller Than Most fanzine, issue 2 (2014).
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.
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.
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.
Interview with Michael Scondotto. Originally released in Chiller Than Most fanzine, issue 4.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.