Tag Archives: agnosticfront

Combatant interview (2016) by Chiller Than Most fanzine

Combatant interview originally published in Chiller Than Most fanzine, issue 4 (2016). Pics by Angela Owens, Squashed Warehouse, Brandon Pelletier.

CTM – Tell me about Combatant, how did the band came together? Would you mind sharing some background to Combatant?
Tyler – Combatant was just an idea to put some unfinished songs to use from my last band. I wanted to try singing which is something I hadn’t done before, so when I figured out how I wanted Combatant to sound, I contacted Ryan about playing guitar. Ryan then suggested we get Alex to play drums since we knew him through playing shows with his old band and he was going to college near Ryan. Al has known Matt for years and they’ve played in bands together since high school so once the demo came out we got Matt on bass and became a real band.

CTM – Others may have asked you this, but where’d you get the name from? Is there a connection to the record label Combat Records?Is there any particular significance or story behind the name?
Tyler – No connection to that label that I know of. My friend Darryl came up with the name a few years ago for a possible project he wanted to start up that never came to fruition. Fast forward to last year, I had the idea of doing a band but couldn’t settle on a name, and then I remembered ‘Combatant.’ It just sounded cool and old and fortunately hadn’t been used yet. I hit him up and he gave me the O.K. to use it – thanks again man!


CTM – The band recorded both releases at Side Two Studios in Boston with Ryan Abbott. Seems to me Side Two is as popular as Paincave, how was the working process with Ryan? What would we hear on your releases that is Ryan’s input as a producer? Haha!
Tyler – Ryan is super easy and laid back to record with. We would record a song in just a couple takes and then bullshit with him for almost the same length of time it took to lay the song down. He didn’t offer up too much input – the songs are pretty straight forward and he knows exactly what we’re going for so he just lets us do our thing. A few examples of when he did chime in would be trying to get a more Crucifix vibe out of the middle section on “Survive,” having me re-write a couple lines that didn’t quite fit while recording “Rat Poison,” and trying out a couple ideas on the solo in “Out For War.” He also tried to get me to yell a “BLEH!” at the end of one of the demo songs, ala the end of Madball’s “We Should Care.” Probably did about five or six takes but I couldn’t get the right “BLEH!”

CTM – Any good stories about the recording?
Tyler – The day we recorded the demo, me and Ryan went down a one way street near the studio, saw a drug deal take place and then had to awkwardly do a multiple point turn to get his car turned around to go back the other way while the two guys who had just made the transaction glared at us.

CTM – Tell me about the artwork for your first demo tape. I guess you wanted something that would totally stand out?
Tyler – Ryan and myself first saw the image in a old record insert and knew we had to use it for something. It wasn’t until I heard the recordings from the first Combatant practice that I knew it would perfectly compliment our idiotic riffs. I’m actually surprised more people don’t know where its from.

CTM – You released your first tape in the winter of 2015. It’s been out long enough how were people’s reactoions to it? What was the funniest reaction? What is one review or criticism you are most proud of?
Tyler – I think most people that have heard it like it but I’m still surprised to hear people list it in their “best of” or whatever. Matt showed me an interview awhile ago where we were mentioned alongside bands like Free and G.L.O.S.S. What’s funny about that is those bands more or less have a strong message and raise serious issues and I talk about hating rules while Ryan is re-enacting every Stigma stage move from the In Effect video at practice. To each their own.


CTM – Most of your lyrics are really critical and angry, these type of hardcore lyrics are not complicated. But when you write socially critical or politically-charged songs, do you try to phrase them so they are easily understood by your listeners? Or do you say what you want to say and trust that your message will get across?
Tyler – There’s a little of both. The lyrics take the longest to write, mainly just trying to streamline what I wanna say in a way thats relatable but so that it still sounds like me. My vocabularly is pretty limited so there isn’t much tweaking I have to do once I write a song – but at the same time, the bands I’m influenced by kept things simple and to the point, which to me is the best way.

CTM – Could you explain the lyrical meaning of a few of your songs on the Psychosis EP, namely “Rat Poison” and “You’re Another Victim”?
Tyler – “You’re Another Victim” is basically about someone trying to please others no matter what, and in doing so, they’ve become trapped and taken advantage of by always bending to the whims of someone else. “Rat Poison” came together really quick – I had no intention of writing any songs along the lines of what you might consider ‘scene commentary,’ but I started thinking of certain instances locally and nationally about mindless violence, a lot of it gang related, at shows. I just have a hard time justifying kids getting beaten almost to death over problems that could’ve been settled one on one, if nothing else. “Survive” is pretty self-explanatory, just a personal empowerment kinda song. “Public Threat” is written from the point of view of someone who basically is the dude on the cover of the ‘Nervous Breakdown’ ep – backed against the wall and about to lash out. The other songs are just the typical can’t-deal-with-bullshit authority figures or people on power trips.


CTM – Combatant are here and they are out for war. Expect great things from this band in the future. So, what is Combatant’s main goal for this or next year? What can we expect from the band? Is there already a label who wants to do a 7 inch for you?
Tyler – Pissed Off! Records from Malaysia is putting out a tape over there of the demo and Psychosis on one cassette. Its going to have some artwork drawn up by our friend Mike Fagan, and it should be out mid-September. As for new stuff, we’ve got about seven complete songs written towards hopefully a 7″ release. No one has hit us up yet about putting a record out, but we’re planning on recording a demo of the new songs to send out to a couple places and see if there’s any interest. New stuff still has an AF vibe, but a lot more Negative Approach and some UK82 thrown in there. It’s our best stuff yet; maybe a promo of those songs could happen within the coming months, we’ll see. I’m always writing stuff and we make it a point to at least meet up and jam once or twice a month so we’ll keep putting new songs out there regardless of format or who puts it out.

CTM – Agnostic Front against society’s system (“Remind Them”), Agnostic Front against the NYPD (“Blind justice”), Agnostic Front against anyone else (“Your Mistake”). These early AF songs took the us-versus-them mentality, they hate society and they are here to fight. I am wondering how does Combatant would reflect this kind of us-versus-them mentality?
Tyler – Those particular AF songs resonate with me more than the songs about trying to unite people. The stuff I write about comes from a real place and I still feel its “me against them” everyday. If there was a meaning to the name Combatant, then thats where it would fit.

CTM – What do you think about the Victim In Pain album musically? Critics deride Vinnie Stigma’s guitar talents, or lack thereof but Stigma is the only guitarist on those classic first two Agnostic Front records (United Blood EP / Victim In Pain LP).
Tyler – Victim In Pain musically is one of the greatest records of all time, hardcore or not. There’s a certain charm to United Blood but I think with Victim In Pain they really came into their own. You can definitely hear the Negative Approach and Crucifix influence but if Stigma wasn’t there, you would’ve had a totally different album. You can tell he’s not giving a shit about playing anything really on time or even in tune.Going from United Blood to Victim In Pain, yes the drumming made a huge difference but you gotta love how Stigma made sure each song had at least twice as many chords as anything on United Blood. The ’84 Don Fury rehearsal for Victim In Pain is almost as classic as the record – always annoyed me on that when Roger would try and quiet Vinnie down or tell him not to do something or play something a certain way in the next song. We all know who’s band it is.


CTM – You said in an interview that you just try to write things that you think would cater to a bunch of angel dusted bald freaks stomping around A7. This is one of the best descriptions/statements I have ever read about what the motivation is behind a hardcore band. So let’s say I gave you a hardcore time machine. It’s the early 80’s and you are about to take a road trip to the A7 in East Village. Who are joining you on the ride and who are playing the show? (When you enter to the bar please don’t forget the warning spray-painted on the outside of the A7 building read: “Out of town bands remember where you are.”!)
Tyler – Keeping the “out of town bands” warning in mind, I’m linking up with Al Barile and the rest of the crew on the way through Boston. The bill is The Psychos, The Abused, SS Decontrol, Void and AF.

CTM – What are some early NYHC bands (1980-1984) that you feel are underrated and deserve more attention? Do you like the The Young and the Useless, The High And The Mighty, early Beastie Boys releases?
Tyler – Nihilistics get overlooked, but I know they don’t care. Kraut doesn’t really get mentioned too much, well not to where I feel they’re an ‘overrated’ band of that era.”Unemployed” is one of my favorite riffs ever. The High And The Mighty are cool, but I think we’d all rather see a non-Drew Stone fronted Antidote.

CTM – Which would you have rather seen: the Agnostic Front show with John Watson, or Tommy Rat singing for Warzone show?
Tyler – I love the Tommy Rat demo, but I’m gonna pick Agnostic Front with John Watson. They played a few shows with John so if I had to pick one, it would be the Buff Hall gig in ’82 with Minor Threat.

CTM – I am working on an article about the WNYU’s classic punk/hardcore radio show, “Crucial Chaos” and I did an interview with DJ Spermicide too. I would like to know what are your favourite Crucial Chaos radiosets and why?
Tyler – Favorite WNYU sets would be Krakdown – “Everybody mosh it up…Break everything in your house!” The first Breakdown set is great too. Despite Perlin having a “sore throat, put up with me,” his vocals are so rabid sounding. “Punk rock haircuts, $4 dollars come on down!” Warzone, Nihilistics, Life’s Blood…


CTM – This will be a tough question. Do you think hardcore has or should have limits sound wise?
Tyler – No I don’t think it should have limits but what’s hardcore to me is gonna be different to someone else. Personally I like hardcore thats pretty stripped down and simple, from the hardcore punk stuff to the more heavy/metallic styles, so I have my own limits for what sounds hardcore to me. Everything from Heart Attack to 100 Demons falls under the hardcore category so what do I know?

CTM – A lot of people criticize hardcore for, in many ways, being a microcosm of the real world. What do you think about this topic?
Tyler – I’d say thats pretty accurate. Just because its a ‘community’ based around music doesn’t mean there’s not going to be greedy and conceited people involved with it. At the same time, I’ve met people throught hardcore who have remained close friends of mine. I really don’t put much thought into it though. I get out of hardcore what I want to get out of it and thats enough for me.

CTM -How much do you love Maine? What makes it that bad ass, special, different?
Tyler – There are some fun outdoors oriented things to do, sure, but I don’t really care about the state at all. The music scene is really hit or miss: one or two good bands every three or four years. I grew up in the sticks and always wanted to get out, but when I got out I just wanted to find a place with a little peace and quiet again. I’ve learned to appreciate it a little bit but I really don’t spend too much time thinking about it.

CTM – Do you know the Hungarian band called Contra? Brain Abuse Records released their demo too.
Tyler – The demo was really good and the new promo is even better.

CTM- Thanks for your time dude. Any closing thoughts, shout outs or words of encouragement?
Tyler – Thanks for the interview, keep an eye out for the Psychosis EP cassette on Brain Abuse and Pissed Off Records. Listen to Motorhead everyday.

Chiller Than Most #6 out now!

Issue 6 of Chiller Than Most fanzine is out now and you can get your hands on it through the Chiller Than Most online store. https://chillerthanmost.bigcartel.com/product/chiller-than-most-6


– An in-depth analysis of the history of Agnostic Front, interview with Spoiler (Stigmatism, Omegas, Justice, United Stance etc.)
– Interviews with Unified Right, Outburst, Freedom, Hypocrite, Big Cheese, Meline Gharibyan, Motor City Madness.

Cut’n’paste fanzine, A4 size, 28 pages. Cover art by Chun One.

An in-depth analysis of the history of Agnostic Front, interview with Spoiler


“The United Blood EP has to be the most powerful music ever recorded by people who couldn’t play their instruments. At that point in time, all Punk and Hardcore bands said they couldn’t play because it was still the era of arena rock, when the standard of playing music was Led Zeppelin or The Eagles. In comparison, of course Hardcore bands couldn’t play. But looking back at it now, a lot of early Hardcore bands like the Adolescents, the Bad Brains or Die Kreuzen for instance were phenomenal musicians. Compared to those bands, Agnostic Front could actually not play. But somehow, they were able to create an incredibly powerful, menacing, insane sound. They were inspired by DC bands like Iron Cross and SOA who also couldn’t play, but those bands seemed to know what their limits were. Agnostic Front did not. They played like they were in a fist fight with their own limitations. Raybeez couldn’t keep a beat to save his life, but instead of sticking to simple beats he tried to overcome himself by playing really chaotic, busydrum beats with a bunch of crazy drum fills all over them. Agnostic Front didn’t want to admit they couldn’t play, not to themselves and not to you. Other early New York Hardcore bands who couldn’t play were goofy kids who sang funny lyrics about how they couldn’t play. Agnostic Front were Skinheads who sang about how they were going to beat you up. Their message was simple: people had been fucking with them their entire lives and they weren’t gonna take it anymore. The intense atmosphere around this record changed NYHC forever. It showed people that you didn’t need to make fun of yourself for not being good at something that you cared about. It showed that you could make a statement even if you had nothing.”

Chiller Than Most!

Chiller Than Most fanzine, issue 6


The new issue of Chiller Than Most fanzine will be released on 24th May 2018! Features Freedom, Outburst, Unified Right, Big Cheese, Meline Gharibyan, Hypocrite, Motor City Madness, Spoiler – Agnostic Front.
Online store: https://chillerthanmost.bigcartel.com


CBGB / A hardcore-fanatic’s guide – Part VII.

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.

NYHC screenshots

If you are a die hard NYHC fan than you may want to check out this instagram page called NYHC Screenshots! https://www.instagram.com/nyhc_screenshots/


“NYHC scene outside of a GBH gig in 1983 – Fill in the blanks! I always thought that was a young Mike Judge next to Crowley, but it turns out to be John Nordquist, a skinhead who was murdered that same year (AF dedicated the United Blood EP to him, and the Death Before Dishonour / Supertouch instrumental “A Death in the Family” was written for him). The question remains… who’s the guy with the beer? It’s Rob Kabula’s dad!” Photo by Randall Underwood.