Category Archives: WNYU’S CRUCIAL CHAOS

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

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

closecall02

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.

closecall03

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.

confusion02

 

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

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

abomb09

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.

abomb04

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.

abomb05

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.

abomb06

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.

abomb07

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!

abomb08

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.

giantstudios01

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.

freddyalva02

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.

somerecords01

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!

Krakdown / WNYU’s Crucial Chaos

Originally released in Chiller Than Most fanzine, issue 4. Photos by Boiling Point fanzine, Dave K.

krakdown03 boiling point

CTM – What are your memories of this classic radio program?
Richard Dowling – Living on Long Island way back like 1980 and on wasn’t easy knowing or finding the latest happenings with the new emerging hardcore scene so for me and others we relied on radio alot. Like in 1980 they had the Tim Yohannon show from New Jersey which was great also the new afternoon show and Noise The Show mostly college radio also great display of all new hardcore then Crucial Chaos came out like mid 80s and that was great cause hc got bigger then and on Thursday nytes you could find out the next CBs matinee on Sunday. Spermicide was great she knew alot so great to have that… always taped every show!!!

krakdown02

Well the nyte Krakdown played Crucial Chaos was the first time they had a live band… they weren’t really prepared for that…like they only had one microphone to record so we put the mic between the amps in front of the drums. Real tight situation with know soundcheck and Jason sang threw the mic they had in the DJ booth… worked out well… he had the door halfway open with a mic cord that wasn’t long enough to be in the room we were playing… pulled it off… lottsa fun… I got the recording from that. Lottsa people loved it and they started having bands every weekend. That was great cause in NY at this time many many new bands were poppin up all over the place and that got people psyched for shows all over Ny and Long Island!

krakdown01 dave k

The room was pretty much just a booth with DJ equipment. It was kinda fun just taking our equipment up the elevator and messing around in the building. We found a place to drink some beers and smoke some. Not like playing a live show. Great expeirence and got a lot of peoplel into it.

CTM – How should we imagine a liveset recording going down?
Richard Dowling – Live hardcore recordings are tricky cause the old time ones are very hard to come across because no one had any type of recording equipment back then. So if ya find one it probably isn’t recorded well but worth it if you like the band. I had plenty of them. My favorite part was always the in between song banter from the vocalist… if any.. I will always search for Krakdown live shows got plenty but not one good enough to release theres always something wrong with them that ain’t fixable. Lottsa bands have live set recordings from CBs. When you played there you just had to give the soundman a cassete and ask to record your band. Pretty simple but the recording was raw and without any mix from the mic. Recorded from the sound board not a outside live mic. So all the recordings from there were very dry flat sounding with barely any audience audio or sound. The place usually sounded empty and without a good sound mix these recordings were not popular to share or release.

krakdown04

Blogged and Quartered
Krakdown – 1985-1990 Discography
http://bloggedquartered.blogspot.hu/2009/05/krakdown-1985-1989-revised.html

“Here’s a great collection of all the best sounding Krakdown recordings you’re likely to find. Krakdown were a great, fast hardcore band from New York who went through many lineup changes, played lots of shows in the late ’80s, and never really got the recognition they deserved. This collection is most of the band’s recordings between 1985 and 1990. Enjoy.”

 

Fit Of Anger / WNYU’s Crucial Chaos

Originally released in Chiller Than Most fanzine, issue 4. Photos by James Damion, Freddy Alva, Chris Wynne, Chris Benetos.

fitofanger03

My name is Todd Lung and I was the drummer for the band.
In order to give you the full radio show experience, I need to start from no place else but the beginning….. In 1988 Fit of Anger was comprised of a bunch of 16 and 17 year old kids. It was Nick on vocals, Al on guitar, Chris on bass, and me on drums. We were all living in College Point and would practice almost every day after school in my basement. Nick and I went to the same school (including Tom Daly the singer of Stand Proud). We had just put out our first demo. Our first show was a CB’s Sunday Matinee. If I remember correctly it was for Sheer Terror’s record release party. Every Thursday night I would listen to Crucial Chaos just to see if they would play our demo.

The station was great because they would play all the local hardcore and punk bands music, no matter the recording quality. 89.1 was hard for me to get on my radio, so even the best recordings at the time sounded gritty. One night the DJ had announced they were receiving a lot of requests for FOA. He followed it up by playing POW Bring Them Home. I’d like to add that Crucial Chaos was great because it got you ready for the weekend hardcore shows no matter where they were or who was playing. When I was told we were playing Crucial Chaos, besides how fucking cool that was, I thought how are we getting our shit there? It was one thing for our friends to borrow their parent’s cars on a Sunday afternoon, but to do it during the week at night? That night we waited on two friends to drive us. We loaded Gange’s Cordoba (Mike Gange who later became the executive producer for the Howard Stern Show) with my drums, guitars, and sent him on his way to the city. We waited for our other friend (who shall remain nameless) to pick us up and he never showed. My brother Andy had come home in his little Nissan Sentra. He agreed to take us to NYU. We all piled in his car which was so small that we had to roll the windows down in the back seat so Chris’ bass guitar would fit. I’ll never forget sitting in the back seat of my brother’s car, holding on to Chris’ bass with the windows rolled down, sticking out on both sides of the car. Andy dropped us off at the school on the sidewalk where all my drums and guitars met us on the sidewalk.

fitofanger04

Freddy Alva: Hanging out w/Fit Of Anger in College Point, Queens 1988.

 

We were met by an “Engineer” who guided the band, the equipment, and all our friends who showed up, to what I remember as this little room. It was like being an animal in a cage at the zoo. There was barely enough room for the band and the equipment, let alone all our friends who showed up. The engineers in the booth kept saying we couldn’t have all those people in there with us, but they stayed the entire set. Not sure of any flyers on the wall, as the whole process was rushed from when we arrived, set up and then went live. The quarters were so cramped that Chris kept hitting my cymbals with his bass. Our friends at least brought beer with them, which also was not allowed in the studio but we drank them anyway. Highlights of the experience now listening back are that both Nick and I married our high school sweethearts. You will hear Nick dedicating songs to Pepsi (her name is Pepita but we all called her Pepsi), as well as me yelling out “Yes Helen!” The words between Al and Nick saying “Especially Dave Moscatto (who later became Big Dave on MTV’s battle for Ozzfest, Ozzy’s kids nanny and now his tour manager)” and Nick says “Whatever!” Then Nick is asking for water for like 3 songs. “Someone get me some water!”… no one got him water. Ha, that’s how we were together all the time, if you acted like an asshole you got treated like an asshole.

fitofanger06

I knew we made our mark in hardcore when after we played our set. They invited us in the back of the studio to cut some promo I.D’s. “We are Fit of Anger and you are listening to Crucial Chaos on 89.1 WNYU”. Easier said then done. We did about 5 of them and I think they all sucked. I never did hear any of the promos we recorded played on the radio. The next morning I got up and went to school. I’ll never forget how I felt being tired and hung over in homeroom. The kid next to me (who I didn’t get along with, was part of the jocks, aka the “in crowd”), tells me he heard me on the radio last night, and says “You guys were great last night.” “Let me know when you play a show”. I so wanted him to come to CB’s that Sunday so he could get the shit kicked out of him. It was after playing the radio station that I was recognized by the “in crowd”. As I walked through the halls, guys would stop me to talk about the band. What Crucial Chaos did was bring the music into the radios of those that normally wouldn’t listen to that style of music. NYHC had shows, tapes, 7”’s and records, but no airplay. Crucial Chaos provided that format to which I will be forever grateful. When FOA recorded demos or played live, there was no difference. It’s not like we had the money back then to record individual tracks. We would all play and sing at the same time, so how you heard us playing on a recording is how you heard us live. Even when you hear us on New Breed’s Tape Compilation, you hear Nick start the song with “Just one more take?” All we did back then was play and record the songs over and over as a group and then pick the best one.

fitofanger05

WNYU’s Crucial Chaos / Chris Wynne

Originally released in Chiller Than Most fanzine, issue 4.
Chris Wynne runs the In Effect Hardcore website which grew out of his old fanzine called In Effect. The fanzine started in 1988 and although was not a continuous effort ran from 1988 to 1999 and had 12 issues total.

What are your memories of this classic radio program?

Chris: My memories of this show come in two waves. When I first found out about Crucial Chaos it was hosted by Spermacide. Johnny Stiff was up there too but Spermacide’s voice is what I and probably most other guys remember from that era of the show. They helped me find so many new bands as well as out of state hardcore bands and punk bands that I probably would never have heard of. The show would come on at 9pm and from 10pm till 1030pm they would almost always have a live band play before the show ended at 1030pm. I was a total fan boy and would sit there at home listening for the first hour and then have a blank cassette tape ready to record whatever band it was that would come on to play live on the air at 10pm. The second wave for me was a more in person experience as going to the WNYU studio in Manhattan at the time was something me and a bunch of my friends liked to do. This era was hosted by Rachel Rosen (who would later go on to play in Indecision) and Dave. I don’t know Dave’s last name but they all called him Kentucky Dave. I assume it was because he had a raggedy type of beard and not that he was actually from Kentucky but what do I know? Glen from Billy Club Sandwich and No Redeeming Social Value was a big part of this era as well doing the soundboard. A great dude who I am glad to say is still a big part of the scene in NY.

ineffect01

Chris Wynne (left) and Grandpa Nick, Fit Of Anger (right) late 1980’s in the subway going to a show.

So when we started going to the studio at WNYU it wasn’t like we had a problem getting in. The studio was in a big building and part of a college so they had a security guard at the front door and at first you would just walk in and get in the elevator and go up to whatever floor the show was on. Once you were in that elevator you were good because you could be going to any floor of this big building. As time went on I guess they thought there were too many kids who didn’t go to this college coming in on their property so they started telling us to show ID that we went to school there. It became almost comical on how we would get in to the studio. Some people would distract the guard while some snuck in and if memory serves me right on at least a few occasions I would not wear like camouflage pants or an exposed band shirt to try and look more like a student. I don’t think there was ever a time where I didn’t get in but it was challenging at times.
There was this one time when Fit Of Anger played on the air. The live sets were always from 10pm till 1030pm and around 1020pm or later the people from the next show would come in and start setting up. At the time Fit Of Anger played there was a hip-hop show that followed Crucial Chaos and on this particular night this group called Royal Flush caught the tail end of Fit Of Anger’s set and when they were coming out of the studio it was pretty cool and also funny to see Royal Flush sweat Fit Of Anger saying “that’s the dope shit right there son” and things along those lines. I remember them saying the word DOPE a bunch of times. They only caught maybe 10 minutes of their set but they were really excited and everyone took pictures afterwards. The two bands never connected again after that though.

ineffect03

Favorite Crucial Chaos sets:

Chris: Supertouch doing it live on WNYU… Saint Patricks Day… Climbing Aboard! I think this was March 17th, 1988. A lot of people loved Supertouch but to me their recordings were average at best. With this set they came out playing with such intensity. The drumming on this was incredible. You could just feel the energy during their instrumental intro coming through the speakers and to this day if that intro comes on shuffle on my i-Pod I start punching things. I do believe that on this same set that they handed off their instruments to Murphy’s Law who played for about 10 minutes before the show went off the air. They were very strict with the 1030pm end time as there was another show on right after them. For years I went without having this set and would ask a lot of people if they had it and luckily I found it a few years back.

Stand Proud – WNYU

Originally released in Chiller Than Most fanzine, issue 4. Artworks by Andrew Monserrate.

STAND PROUD Live – WNYU:

http://www28.zippyshare.com/v/92pqCaCm/file.html

standproud03

CTM – What are your memories of this classic radio program?
Andrew Monserrate – I started listening to Crucial Chaos, WNYU 89.1 in the mid 80’s every Thursday night. It’s what really turned me on to “ALL” Hardcore Punk. I mean, usually in the Lower East side scene people listened to the same “IN” stuff “Murphy’s Law, AF, Cro Mags, … Bad Brains and all the local skin head bands.
Listening to Spermicides mixes really shaped my taste for all underground music… I still have cassettes from the mixes of the stuff she played, then the live bands that played afterward. Her mixes included all Hardcore music from all over the country and world, she would mix a Poland band, with the Ramones song, then a rare GBH song, with a local band that put out one basement demo and then broke up, then a Warzone song, A Circle Jerks song, Gang Green song, then another foreign German song etc etc etc… it was incredible. Each cassette (Thursday show) took on a life of it’s own, like a greatest hits album, every song fit perfect and were great because of the songs that came before & after them. I had four or five friends I made copies for and we would listen to them over and over again, even giving each cassette a name. What made every show of hers great and it came out on the cassettes were her announcements of upcoming shows and news about bands… I can still her voice.

standproud02

CTM – Stand Proud live on WNYU:
Andrew Monserrate – Stand Proud was a band from Woodside NY. We meet in 86-87. I’ve played guitar in a few Hardcore bands in the mid 80’s but always as a sit in Guitarist. I was introduced to this younger band, Stand Proud from my friends in Warzone. They had some great songs, and I was allowed to write a bunch of songs, so it was really cool shit. We played CBGBs twice and a few other shows and were building a little following. But I’ll never forget… Tommy the Singer for SP, called me and said we had a gig to play Crucial like 6 days away… I Freaked a bit, mainly because I didn’t think we were tight enough as a band… we rehearsed everyday leading up to that show. But I remember that day like it was yesterday… I was actually working as a construction worker and asked the boss if I could leave early because… I was playing live on the radio… We showed up to the building there on Broadway, with our equipment and it took a few elevator rides to get our gear up there. It was very surreal for me, and I must say, I was very nervous, because we had to sit there for the entire first half hour of the show of her playing her mix… Then it was time for us to get ready to go on… Spermicide came on the air made a bunch of announcements.. but there was a problem… there were about 30 of our fans in the studio, and about 50 more in the lobby trying to get up… she announced on the air to the fans to stop trying to come up and the guards were told not to let anymore people up… so this little studio was packed with fans sitting all around the amps and floors… it was crazy… Spermicide said in all her years she never saw anything like that. So anyways.. we start our set and play way to fast, to our standards, because of nerves… but we got through most of it pretty tight, until I broke a string… and of course I don’t have a back up, so I had to play with a missing g-string for the last few songs… but over all it was a great time… to actually play on the station, I loved so much, it was so surreal.

standproud04

Interview with DJ Spermicide – Part II.

DJ Spermicide (Marlene Goldman) interview originally released in Chiller Than Most fanzine, issue 4. (You can read the first part of the interview here: Part I.)

CTM – Please tell me a bit about the early history of Crucial Chaos. When did you join the station? How did you start your radio program? How was the first broadcast? Who was the first guest/band in the studio?

DJ Spermicide – I was a journalism major and went up to the newspaper to see about joining. It looked dreadfully boring and across the hall was the radio station, which looked a lot more fun, so I decided to pursue that instead. When I joined the radio station there was nothing in the way of a punk or hardcore show. I joined the radio station as a volunteer in 1985. To get a time slot back then you had to start on the AM station, which was only broadcast to the NYU dorms. You had to make tapes of yourself as air checks for the program director to review. I wanted to host the New Afternoon Show, but it was faster to get on FM if you had a specialty show. I proposed Crucial Chaos and since there was a void at the station, I was given the Thursday night time slot for the show. My first broadcast was hectic and nerve wracking, but it was a lot of fun. Murphy’s Law came up to the show and brought pizza and beer and their then new album release, which we had played on the New Afternoon Show, as well. Green vinyl, I remember, so it was hard to see where to cue up the songs.

wnyu06

CTM – Why did you choose this name for the radio program?

DJ Spermicide – Back then the word Chaos was being used a lot by bands as was the word Crucial. I thought the two words together would perfectly describe the idea of the show—crucial to a music scene that didn’t have a radio voice in NYC at the time and chaos because I knew playing one-minute or shorter songs would be just that.

CTM – Freddy Alva told me that your sidekick on air was Johnny Stiff, an old school Punk Rock dude who’d been around since the beginning and booked some legendary shows. He was famous for being cranky to people calling in to the show. Please tell me about him!

DJ Spermicide – Stiff! He was just as you are describing, a cranky old-school punk rock guy who had booked shows and drove vans for bands and had tons of contacts in the scene. When I first started Chaos I went down to the CBs hardcore matinee every Sunday with promotional flyers about who was going to be on the air the next week and when the show was, etc… Stiff had heard about the show and asked if I needed any help answering phones, putting away records and all that. I really did need tons of help on those fronts and once he started getting involved he was key in getting a lot of the bands to come up for interviews and live sets. He was also good at helping keep order in the studio when there were a dozen kids or whatever cramming in the tiny space.

CTM – As far as I know it was an important concept that you had a kind of anti-mainstream, outsider mentality, the “if you’ve heard it somewhere else, you won’t hear it here” stance that keeps noncommercial stations around. What was your approach to putting together a setlist, a radio show? How did you choose the bands that are playing?

DJ Spermicide – I really wanted it to be a mix of old-school punk, which I still love, and the new hardcore music, not just New York, but of course helping local bands as much as possible. I used to get to the studio early and pull out which records I wanted to play, along with some local cassettes. Those were always a challenge since the quality was often pretty poor. I would go to Venus Records day of my show and Some Records on a regular basis and try to find what was brand new, plus Stiff would sometimes come up with new releases to play. But I really wanted to keep that generational component, mixing 70s and 80s punk in with the hardcore music. I tried to vary the bands played so it wasn’t the same show every week. We also took a lot of requests from listeners. Phones were always ringing off the hook.

CTM – I read somewhere that the main DJ area was pretty typical looking for a college radio station, and a large window separated that from the small room where the bands played. How should we imagine the wall of the studio? Posters, tags, stickers, graffiti on the wall?

DJ Spermicide – The studio was used for all the shows, so there were stickers and posters, but not just punk and hardcore. No graffiti on the walls since it was on university property. The radio station office had file cabinets covered in stickers. Both the studio and room for live bands were pretty small. I had to put people’s names on a sign-in list with the security guard downstairs. There were always extra guests that needed to be signed in. Fortunately the guard was really nice and sometimes asleep.

CTM – What was your unique calling card – whether that’s a catchphrase, intro, or style?

DJ Spermicide – Hmmmm. I suppose just the name I used on the show, Spermicide, with all variations of nicknames. I don’t know that I had a style except trying to keep order amidst the chaos.

wnyu05

CTM – Some Records was one of the catalyst for the hardcore movement too. This record store (operated by Duane) was a great place to hang out, it was a great meeting place for hardcore bands and folks, fanzine editors and people that would help launch that second wave of New York hardcore. Duane was like a big brother to every hardcore kid who stepped into his store, kids heard every record before it came out. If I am not mistaken Some Records was one of the sponsors of Crucial Chaos for a while. Could you talk about this, and would you mind sharing some memories about Some Records?

DJ Spermicide – Some Records was one of the sponsors. There was always a small scene down at the store though I didn’t hang out there as much as some of the kids. I got a lot of 7-inch records there from smaller, local bands for the show.

CTM – It was really interesting that Outburst put the word out that they were looking for a bass player on Crucial Chaos. Turns out Mike Welles just happened to be home that night listening to Crucial Chaos make the announcement and he responded. They rehearsed a handful of songs at his place one night, then they tore up his kitchen and he was pretty much in the band after that. Would you mind sharing some funny stories about the radio sessions? Please tell me some backstage secrets, funny stories about the radio sessions!
There are some shows that are truly iconic. 01 The Warzone interview was really funny with the hyper active Raybeez and ‘zone guys. Interviewed the same day as Youth Of Today, both bands were promoting records they were about to release: “Break Down The Walls” for Youth Of Today and the “Lower East Side Crew” EP for Warzone. What about some of the personalities or characters in the scene at the time, like Raybeez? What are your memories of this interview? Do you still have that orange Lower East Side crew tee?

DJ Spermicide – That was definitely a memorable night. I didn’t think Warzone was going to make it on time, but they did. Ray Cappo was pretty easy going compared to a lot of the personalities I had on Chaos. Raybeez was always a great person to be around, so much positive energy. Not sure I have that t-shirt, but sadly did find recently the Raybeez memorial show t-shirt from CBs. I happened to be in town that weekend for that after I had moved away. The biggest challenge for interviews with some of the big talkers was keeping them on track talking about their music and getting to play tracks without running out of time.

CTM – 02 Supertouch played live on St. Patricks Day (03.17.1988.), the same day Murphy’s Law did a radioset. This live set has inspired an entire genre of bands playing hardcore today. Some of the tracks like “Strugglin’ To Communicate” and “A Death In the Family” were never recorded outside of the WNYU Studio. Any memories from this session?

DJ Spermicide – I do remember it sounding great. I didn’t realize that was the only time those were recorded. There was a record label at one point interested in putting out some of the live sets on vinyl and calling it the Sperm Sessions. I gave them the material, but it never happened, unfortunately. Looks like a lot of the live sets are up on Youtube or other sites, which is great.

CTM – 03 What are your memories of the Straight Ahead interview? They were known as a straight edge band, but the members labeled their band as a “unity band” in your Crucial Chaos interview. How did you interpret this response?

DJ Spermicide – I knew those guys pretty well. At the time there were so many micro-labels dividing the hardcore scene—skinhead, straight edge, peace punks. I think some of the divisions were causing schism in the scene, so the term unity band was in my opinion meant to distance Straight Ahead from all that. I also think some bands were taking the labels too seriously and all the rigid restrictions implied by being straight edge would be hard to uphold.

CTM – 04 One famous radio event was the Born Against versus Sick Of It All debate in 1990. How did/do you feel about the bands releasing records on larger labels? What are your memories about this debate?

DJ Spermicide – Ahhhh. The Debate. Yes, I remember that well. I remember it was more like being a referee than an interviewer, especially with the size of the studio and everyone crammed in there. I think I was on the other side of the glass if I remember correctly. I really didn’t really have a problem with bands signing to larger labels if the music stayed the same, which was the case with Sick of It All. Back then there was a fine line of bands just trying to get more exposure and bands selling out. Look how that all turned out. Sick of It All is still touring like crazy and bringing the NYHC scene to the world. I just saw their 30th anniversary show. They somehow found a way to make the music their life’s work without having to tone down their sound or make it more generic. Seems like such an ancient problem. Now the only way bands make money is from touring and selling their merch at shows.

CTM – What was your toughest interview and why? What were your funniest interviews and why?

DJ Spermicide – The toughest ones were always with the young bands just coming out who sometimes didn’t have much to say. I would mostly try to promote their shows in that case. Funniest, probably some of the characters like Murphy’s Law, Raybeez, oh and the Nihilistics who I was just trying to make sure didn’t curse on-air the whole interview. I had GBH up live once. They were pretty hilarious to be around.

CTM – I feel that most of your interviews are classics too, there are some choice quotes in there. Did you listen to your own shows after they aired? “White power, black power, yellow power….take a shower!”, “Everybody mosh it up, break everything in your house!”, “Public Enemy is just as bad as Skrewdriver.” What are some of your favourites?

DJ Spermicide – Sometimes I listened to the shows. Been so long I would have to listen back.

wnyu07

CTM – Bands were incredibly exciting to play on the radio. Why didn’t these bands like Youth Of Today (only interview), BOLD, Raw Deal, Straight Ahead (only interview) etc. play a live set in the studio?

DJ Spermicide – I’m sure we asked at least some of those bands to play but it wasn’t always easy to coordinate. Also, at the beginning, we weren’t really set up that well for the live sets. But once that became a popular part of the show our amazing sound engineer got the sets to sound great.

CTM – Why did you quit WNYU? I heard that you went and lived in Australia…

DJ Spermicide – A few reasons. Yes, I left to live in Australia for a year, but also there was a rule that to be on the radio station you had to be enrolled as a student. I had been in grad school, but my time was running out and it was expensive to keep registering for even a credit or two just to stay at the station. I hosted a few guest shows after I got back from Australia in ’91 and ’92 but moved to San Francisco in 1993. The first time I ever spoke on KUSF, which was just to announce some ticket giveaway at around midnight on someone else’s show, someone called and recognized my voice—said he had taped my interview with the Adolescents. Then I kept having New York transplants calling to ask if it was me and I ended up using the name Spermicide since there were a lot of listeners who already knew me from my WNYU days.