Arms Race interview originally published in Classe Criminelle fanzine, issue 1. (Click the picture for bigger size.) Pic by Angela Owens.
Originally released in Chiller Than Most fanzine, issue 5. (Click the picture for bigger size.) Pics by Randall S Underwood, Brendan Rafferty, Bri Hurley, Ken Salerno, KT Tobin.
Hilly Kristal, a trained violinist, opened CBGB music club in 1973 with the intention to book country, Irish, jazz and bluegrass music bands. CBs is located on the Bowery, an infamous skid-row area that back in the 80s was lined with flophouses where derilect alcoholics and crackheads could rent a room for 5 bucks a night. The full name of the club was CBGB & OMFUG, which stands for “Country Bluegrass Blues and Other Music For Uplifting Gormandizers.” But in late summer of 1974 a new wave of musical rebels made the venue their home and punk rock luminaries such as The Ramones, The Dead Boys, Patti Smith Group, Talking Heads and Blondie got their start there. By the summer of 1975, the club was the epicenter of what was then considered avant-garde rock’n’roll. Kristal’s former wife Karen Kristal worked at the club and was legal owner of the venue’s parent company due to Hilly going bankrupt on a past business. She was the constant caretaker and stern protector of CBGB, whose logo she designed. CBGB wasn’t doing hardcore shows in the beginning. From the early 1980s until its later years, it would mainly become known for hardcore punk, Youth of Today, Cro-Mags, Gorilla Biscuits, Underdog, Sick Of It All becoming synonymous with the club. They’ve all shared the glory of tearing up that stage, and played their hearts out. Up to this time most of the hardcore shows were mostly happening at clubs and bars that lasted late into the night.
Around late 1982, CBGB started booking Saturday afternoons so younger fans of hardcore could catch all the latest bands coming through NYC. Hilly kind of gave the hardcore kids a permanent weekend home and daytime hangout spot, the CBGB hardcore matinee was born. Later it was moved to Sundays so Saturday night shows would not be affected by the matinees running late. Sunday afternoons at CBs became a weekly ritual for years to come. Upon entry, the area where you paid was on the right, a small desk where you were interrogated about your age. By that time CBGB’s was hard line about the 16 year old age limit. In late 1985, New York state changed the drinking age from nineteen to twenty-one. Before the law changed, CBGB was allowed to let in all ages, with ID for nineteen to drink. When the law changed, CBGB was forced to change to sixteen to enter, twenty-one to drink. In front of the stage there was a hole worn into the floor from people demonstrating their mosh styles, it was a small place where hardcore kids would slam dance into each other. The stage was the perfect height for a dive onto the crowd.
One storefront beside CBGB became the “CBGB Record Canteen”, a record shop and café. In the late 1980s, “CBGB Record Canteen” was converted into an art gallery and second performance space, “CB’s 313 Gallery”. CBGB closed in September of 2006 after 33 years of live music. The old East Village mainstay is now a John Varvatos store which combines stylish, shitty rock’n’roll costumes, expensive clothes. Today the Lower East Side has a Whole Foods market. Today you have to make a lot of money to live on the Lower East Side. Today’s Lower East Side is filled with some of the best restaurants and eateries in New York. Today buses filled with tourists drive slowly past the John Varvatos store that used to be CBGB…
– The CBGB is the place where Dennis Dunn, Big Charlie worked. Dennis was a bouncer with a mustache, sleeveless shirts, and he operated the stage lights too. Sometimes he’d stop the kids, grab the microphone from the band’s singer and tell them what they did wrong. “Listen up people, if the stagediving continues the sets gonna be cut alright? It’s up to you… there is no stagediving!” He is the guy on Agnostic Front’s “Live at CBGB” record that gets up on stage and threatens to kill the audience if they don’t quit fighting. “A lot of you people ain’t gonna live to see tomorrow if you don’t stop fucking around this way! “Big Charlie (one of the first black skinheads in the New York hardcore scene) was a bouncer too, he was a very tall and well built guy, always in army fatigues. In the summer of 1986, there was a Guillotine fanzine benefit show and the infamous riot. Straight Ahead, Warzone, Rest In Pieces, Ludichrist were on the bill. Right when Straight Ahead finished their set, Big Charlie grabs the microphone and let’s everybody know that there is a big riot going on outside. “You guys all talk about unity! It’s time to prove it because those guys out there have bats!”
– The CBGB is the place where Tommy Victor (the lead singer and guitarist for the heavy metal band Prong) worked as a sound engineer, he did the hardcore matinees from 1986 to 1990. “Just Can’t Hate Enough” album (by Sheer Terror) was recorded at the CBGB’s and engineered by Tommy Victor, and “Free For All” compilation was recorded by him too. This classic compilation was a four-way split (Token Entry, Wrecking Crew, Rest in Pieces and No For An Answer), all songs recorded live at CBGB on April 9, 1989. The sound system at CBGB’s was probably the best one around. – CBGB is the place where Agnostic Front recorded three live albums.
– CBGB is the place where Walter Schriefels played bass for Outburst. This was their first CBGB gig.
– CBGB is the place where Agnostic Front did their “Victim In Pain” record release party in 1984.
– CBGB is the place where Youth of Today played their infamous “Shutdown” show with Side By Side, Gorilla Biscuits, Pagan Babies in 1987. Before one of the last songs, Ray Cappo made his famous comment, “You know, this club has their policies. They are going to tell you what to do but I’m not going to. Do what you want!” with that about more than 100 hardcore kids jumped up on the stage during “Youth Crew” and nobody could do anything. The band was banned for encouraging stage diving, which was against the club policy. It was also the last time Youth Of Today would set foot on the stage of CBGB, they never played there again.
– Project X “Shutdown” was written about this specific October 18, 1987 CBGB show. The back cover of the Project X EP features the band standing in front of CBGB, appearing to have been shut out.
– CBGB is the place where Agnostic Front did a benefit to raise money for recording “Victim In Pain”, Roger Miret and bassist Rob Kabula, drummer Dave Jones, and founder/guitarist Vinnie Stigma recorded “Victim In Pain” in a matter of hours.
– A scene in Woody Allen’s “Hannah and Her Sisters” involving Allen and Dianne Wiest watching 39 Steps was filmed at CBGB. 39 Steps were a Canadian alternative rock/punk rock band.
– The Simpsons’ episode “Love, Springfieldian Style” shows a CBGB named “Comic Book Guy’s Bar”.
– The first time Youth Of Today played there, Johnny Stiff the promoter told them “watch your back, no one in this city is straight edge and they just might kill you if you push that shit.”
– CBGB is the place where Murphy’s Law’s “Bong Blast” demo tape was recorded live by Jerry Williams back in 1983, and has the earliest lineup of the band with Harley Flanagan on drums. The cover of the cassette was made by Alex “Uncle Al” Morris, founding member of Murphy’s Law as well as playing on their 1986 classic debut album.
– Mrs. Kristal made life and death decisions at the club. Lots of underage fans tried to get into CBGB’s numerous times but there was this old lady who checked their fake ID cards, grab them by the collars and throw them out. She was standing next to the desk where you paid with her giant pocketbook, checking ID cards, and calling hardcore kids’ parents when she sniffed a false one. Crippled Youth played their first show in 1986 with Youth of Today, Warzone, and Rest In pieces. Matt Warnke (the singer of the band) was able to play because Karen called his parents to verify his age. Matt’s parents lied for their son that day, he was only 15.
– CBGB is the place where Gorilla Biscuits did their first show with JFA, Token Entry, the NY Hoods on August 31, 1986. There is an incredible photo, where Ernie Parada is wearing a prehistoric homemade Gorilla Biscuits t-shirt before the first gig was even played. Probably many people don’t know that he was the drummer of Gorilla Biscuits at their first show.
– CBGB is the place where Cro-Mags did the “Age of Quarrel” record release show in 1986. They were serving Krishna cookies, vegan foods and some iced tea. Cause For Alarm was one of the opening bands.
– There were three different awnings during the life of CBGB at 315 Bowery. The first one was up from 1973 to 1987, another from 1987 to 2000 and the last until the club closed in 2006. The second and third awnings were very similar to the original, but with cleaner lines and an arched logo—the biggest difference seen in the numbers “315,” which were no longer hand painted. The most recent awning is at the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame Museum in Cleveland. The original awning was allegedly in the possession of JFA (Jodie Foster’s Army), who may have borrowed it after a show in the mid 1980s. The awning that hung above the legendary New York City punk club CBGB between 1987 and the early 2000s has sold at auction for $30,000.
Originally released in Chiller Than Most fanzine, issue 4. Photos by Boiling Point fanzine, Dave K.
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!!!
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!
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.
Blogged and Quartered
Krakdown – 1985-1990 Discography
“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.”
Tom Pimlott (The Flex) interview originally published in Chiller Than Most fanzine, issue 4. Pics by: Natalie Wood, Angela Owens, Meline Gharibyan.
“The Flex are BACK! These UKHC legends bring you their signature blend of early 80s UK punk and late 80s NYHC in time for their East Coast USA tour with Arms Race. Thundering ‘Inferno’ goes straight for the jugular with a wall-of-noise beating, swiftly followed up with the ever so catchy and funked up ‘Soma Holiday’. Meanwhile ‘Flex 4’ is a moody rumbler, with quieter bass and drum led sections, powerful vocals that seem to have been recorded from the top of a mountain, and turbo charged speed change. The new songs will feature on an upcoming LP, and this recording also includes a cover of Gut Instinct’s ‘Disturbing the Peace’ from their 1990 EP, representing Baltimore HC!
The title of this edition of Flexual Healing comes from the last ever scene on British comedy show Blackadder ‘Goes Forth’ series, set in World War I. This is visually alluded to with the devilish character in the artwork, by Tin Tin Savage, wearing a hat similar to those worn by the German army at the time.” Quality Control Records
Listen to ‘Perhaps the war is over? Perhaps it’s peace?’ here: Flexual Healing Vol. 7
Flexual Healing Volume IV. – Live At Flex House
1. Don’t Bother (Don’t Bother With The Outside World) 2. The Flex (Scum On The Run) 3. Virtual Reality (The Demo) 4. Life Balance (Don’t Bother With The Outside World)
5. W.D.N.Y. (Wild Stabs In The Dark) 6. Macho Jock Hardcore (Do Ya Think I’m Flexi?) 7. Back For More (Don’t Bother With The Outside World) 8. Waste My Time (Wild Stabs In The Dark) 9. Loud And Clear (The Abused cover)
CTM – Please tell me about the recording process for Volume IV.!
Tom Pimlott: I recorded this one on my Yamaha four-track cassette recorder, which incidentally I inherited from the Boo Radleys, as their bass player Tim is my uncle’s best mate. I stuck a mic on the drums then just put three more around the basement walls. It turned out OK, the machine wasn’t in great condition at the time though so it could have been better, but not to worry!
CTM – A lot of people don’t like live recordings, they are deemed as too sterile or raw. I really love listening to live sets. Are there any bands out there whose live sets you like more as opposed to studio recordings?
Tom Pimlott: YES. The Ramones are one of my favourite bands and ‘It’s Alive’ is my favourite release by far. The guitar tone on that is incredible. I’m not sure how many overdubs are on it, but fuck it, it sounds amazing. So much energy. Also, my favourite Mental recording is their WERS set. Other notables, although not quite superior to their studio recordings; Led Zeppelin ‘How The West Was Won’, Floorpunch ‘Live At Lintfabriek’ bootleg, AC/DC ‘If You Want Blood’.
CTM – I would like to talk about your lyrics. The Flex sings about social problems and makes smart remarks about the current situation in your country. Social issues, oppression and ignorance, restricted sense of freedom, cycle of disillusion etc. Most of your lyrics are really aggressive, critical, angry and violent so the mood of the songs are violent and aggressive. Denis (singer of Freedom) said in a fanzine that Freedom helps him not to punch people. What do you think about this?
Tom Pimlott: I think that’s a good thing, Denis is too funny to be punching people. Sam’s lyrics are fucking great. I don’t think a lot of people expect that. People see this huge crew cut powerlifter with an indecipherable accent and the last thing they expect is well written insightful lyrics haha.
CTM – A Clockwork Orange is one movie that I have loved to watch innumerable times, I think I have seen it probably ten times and it has yet to lose its appeal. The first time I saw it I might have been sixteen or seventeen years old and I was completely shocked by the amount of violence in the film. If I am not mistaken British subcultures (suedeheads, skinheads, punks, football casuals, mods) are/were heavily inspired by A Clockwork Orange. What is your opinion, how did the “A Clockwork Orange” impact society and sub-culture within Britain?
Tom Pimlott: It definitely had a huge impact on youth culture at the time, no question about it. I’m not sure how much of that has carried on to present day subculture though, as things are considerably safer and less violent these days. Definitely not a bad thing in my opinion.
CTM – If Alex De Large listened to hardcore/punk besides Beethoven, which current UK hardcore bands would have had an impact on him? In a futuristic English city would there be a place for bands like The Flex, Violent Reaction?
Tom Pimlott: I think the droogs would definitely be getting down to the sounds of the MURDER demo. That’s the new band from Liam and Tim (DiE) and I already like it better than DiE. It’s basically ’83 Poison Idea meets NYHC, and they cover Krakdown. There isn’t even a place in a present day city for our bands.
CTM – The Abused. What is your favourite The Abused flyer and why? (Kevin Crowley is a legend! The pointillism art technique that he used was really labor intensive and the flyers took a long time to complete. Totally blew my mind how much Crowley communicated with his flyers.
Tom Pimlott: Like I said before I’m not a big art guy but I do love that style and the influence that it’s had. I bet that’s blown his mind how influential it’s been. I’m actually gonna go with the 7″ artwork, as I’m sat in a van in Germany and can’t check out the flyers to jog my memory haha. I will say this though, I love the Abused demo even more than I love the 7″.
Flexual Healing Volume V. – Do Ya Think I’m Flexi?
1. The Cull (exclusive track) 2. Macho Jock Hardcore (Live At Flex House)
CTM – This time it wasn’t a tape, you delivered a nice looking red flexi disc in a usual red and black sleeve. Flexual Healing volume 5 featuring two exclusive songs “The Cull” and “Macho Jock Hardcore”. How would you describe these songs as far as music and lyrics? Do you feel like you accomplished something with this flexi that you hadn’t before on earlier releases?
Tom Pimlott: These are both actually studio tracks, MJHC was from the same session. I wouldn’t say these songs are any more of an accomplishment than the other releases, we just thought it’d be funny to make a FLEX-i disc haha. I do really like the story behind ‘Macho Jock Hardcore’ though. We played Sheffield and this crusty melt at the show was overheard describing us as ‘Macho Jock Hardcore’. We thought this was pretty funny as we are all punk fans and music lovers in general, and the idiot in question is the ‘listens to Anti-Cimex and Deep Purple once’ type. I like Budgie too mate, I just don’t feel the need to rock the leather cowboy costume. We’ve had a few of those kind of jabs, so the song is about that. Fuck that one guy though, he bullies women in punk and only narrowly escaped a beating.
CTM – This was a kind of “trailer” for the project that will become the new 7 inch on LOC. How did The Flex make it on Lockin’ out records? How did the 7 inch on Lockin’ out come about? Was it Greg Mental who found you folks or was it you who sent some The Flex releases over to him? Or did he catch you on the first US tour?
Tom Pimlott: I don’t think Greg was at our gig in Boston on the 2014 tour, but a mutual friend called Dooley told us at the show that Greg wanted the band on Lockin’ Out. Didn’t really think too much of it but then Greg got in touch and away we went. Really happy about it, I’m a big fan of the label and so are the other guys. I’m sure a lot of LO super fans from the UK are pissed off that out of all the bands in the UK it’s The Flex on Lockin’ Out haha but oh well. It’s known for a certain style and era, but LO is a solid and diverse label and always has been. Shout out to Greg!
Flexual Heling Volume VI. – Live From The Paincave
1. Intro 2. We Don’t Need You (Wild Stabs In The Dark) 3. Like You (Scum On The Run) 4. Life Balance (Don’t Bother With The Outside World) 5. The Flex (Scum On The Run) 6. Virtual Reality (The Demo) 7. Waste My Time (Wild Stabs In The Dark) 8. Back For More (Don’t Bother With The Outside World) 9. Just Can’t Hate Enough (Sheer Terror cover) 10. The Herd (Wild Stabs In The Dark)
CTM – On the last day of your last US summer tour you rolled into the Paincave studio. Recording at the Paincave must have been cool. It seems to me you just walked into the studio and recorded this session in one take. what was the paincave recording process like?
Tom Pimlott: Insider secret – we actually recorded the vocals separately for this, but only because CC’s computer wouldn’t handle one more input. All the music was recorded in one take (hence the drum fuck-up at the start of ‘Back For More’ and Jonesy’s out of time bass at the start of ‘Like You’ haha), and Sam did all his vocals in one take, so there’s no difference really. I like how Sam for some reason turned into Jasta for this one. This is my favourite Flexual Healing and probably my favourite Flex release in general. I was really happy to do this one, as so many modern classics have been born in the Paincave, and I love the live-in-the-studio style. Some of my favourite recordings are live in the studio ones, AC/DC ‘Live From Atlantic Studios’, Undertones 1978 Peel Session, Warzone ‘Some Records Tape’, White Stripes ‘Live From Maida Vale’ and numerous Don Fury and WNYU sessions.
CTM – If you have any Paincave session fun facts of your own, let us know!
Tom Pimlott: It was recorded at the Paincave II, as they moved from the OG cave years ago. Present at the session, aside from CC and the band, were DFJ, Dave Sheehan and Danimal. DFJ actually had to sit on a bass cab in front of the kick drum because of my caveman lead foot, and he let me use a couple of cymbals as I cracked a few of mine. Also the last time I was at the ‘Cave was in 2013 to practice with the one-time-only Violent Reaction lineup of me/Flynn/Danimal/CC/DFJ.
CTM – Who created the cover art for the Volume VI. and what’s the influence/meaning of it?
Tom Pimlott: That’s a Liam penned classic! I couldn’t tell you about the influence or meaning haha but I do know that it looks sick.
CTM – I have noticed that, if we look at the art carefully we can find a Cancerous Growth “Late for the Grave” cover on it (beside the Impact Unit, FU’s, DYS, Jerrys Kids covers). Cancerous Growth is a quite unknown band, do you like them?
Tom Pimlott: I’ve never actually heard them before personally, but Liam is def a fan.
CTM – If you could release a Boston hardcore compilation with underrated, unknown bands from the 80s, which bands would be on it? What would you have named this compilation?
Tom Pimlott: It would be a double LP of just the Impact Unit demo 40 times in a row.