Uppercut review originally published in Open Your Eyes fanzine.
Letter from Blackout Records to Uppercut
Picture by Ken Salerno
Steve Psycho is a former member of the infamous Psychos one of the bands that ruled the early days of New York Hardcore. I believe the interview was made around 2005, and originally released in I Drink Milk fanzine and Chiller Than Most newsletter #1. Interview made by Laszlo Nanyista. Pics by Mincey/Levy, Jessica Bard, The Godfathers of Hardcore documentary.
Could you tell us a little bit about your background? How did you first come in contact with the hardcore punk scene? Steve – 1979. I was listening to The Ramones, The Pistols, The Clash, the Slits and some other punk rock. My friends and I were just starting to get really excited about more underground stuff. Then someone got hold of the Black Flag “Miltown High” album and I had found SLF’s “Hanx”- those raw sounds encouraged us to find more music of that type. The first show I saw was The Bad Brains, The False Prophets, and maybe The Stimulators and The Offals at Botany 500 – a small bar in the NYC wholesale flower district. There was this huge black guy in a white t-shirt and across the back of the shirt written in black magic marker was “You bet I’ve got something personal against you”. It was Mojo (of “Egg raid on Mojo fame”). I went to see any band that identified as punk or hardcore, hung out at Max’s Kansas City and CB’s and began meeting more and more people. Except for 1 friend none of my friends was really into hardcore as a scene or a lifestyle. I found myself very attracted to the ideas and energy I was being exposed to and spent more and more time at clubs that featured this music. I’d regularly cruise by Bleeker Bob’s for new vinyl.
How did the formation of the Psychos come about? Were you a founding member or did you join later? Steve – Stu (Larry), Billy Psycho and Roger Miret had already formed the band when I met Stu. He had been singing and playing guitar and they were looking for a singer so he could expand the guitar parts. I fit in pretty well and I was also a source for lyrics as I had a bunch of ideas and some verse already written.
How many shows did you play with the Psychos? Steve – The Psychos generally played about once a month while I was singing. We did A7, CBGB’s, The Rock Hotel (with Void and Scream – to this day Void is one of my favorite bands). This was from 1982- 1984 and it was a time when hardcore bands were being shut out of a lot of NY clubs. I remember doing a show in a basement in Williamsburg, Bklyn with the Dicks and others but the show was set up, done and then the location couldn’t be used again. It was tough for me to travel because I had a 7-day a week job (not a slave to the clock – I loved the work and had a great boss who was well ahead of the curve in profit sharing!), which eliminated the idea of touring. Later on I think the Psychos had a more intense schedule largely due to Roger’s influence.
The lineup of the band: Steve -Stu and maybe Billy were later in Trip 6. I’ve been told Stu ended up dusted out and going to jail for some very brutal assaults. Billy was in the band Death Before Dishonor just long enough to get a tattoo then got kicked out. I sang and played some bass in a Jersey band called Swine Dive in the late 80’s. Roger started singing for Agnostic Front and Stu and I thought it would be best to find another bass player so we got a friend of mine named Fil (who now holds a PHD and teaches American History). After Fil and I left The Psychos, Roger rejoined on bass along with a series of singers. Roger always felt slighted for being replaced in the band – although we are still friends. The feeling was that he wouldn’t have time to commit to both bands and that his priority would be AF. HA! Little did I know that Roger would turn into the workhorse he is. Singing and playing in 3 bands at any given time (The Disasters, Lady Luck, etc.), founding the Rumblers Car Club, producing other bands, his own clothing line – he’s a true self made man – a working class hero. For my part – when I left the Psychos in 1984 I was pretty much done with hardcore. I loved the music I had been listening to and I loved hanging out, but as a continued lifestyle it wouldn’t really have worked out for me. I could see myself becoming a casualty somewhere down the line. I also had no interest in the newer bands.
Funny stories/memories: Steve – We would have to search for Billy before rehearsals. He was usually found lying on the sidewalk or in a doorway somewhere on the Lower East Side or around The Bowery, unbathed in the 3 or 4 days since the last rehearsal or show and smelling pretty rank. He would have to be cleaned up because you couldn’t breath if you were in the same room with him. Once he told us the night before he had sex with a high school girl who had defecated on his chest. He said it was the wildest sex he’d ever had but she kicked him out before he could shower. We eventually had to find a rehearsal space with an isolated drum room because he always smelled so bad. I met my wife at CBGB’s after an Abused matinee. The girlfriends of Kevin (vocals) and Dave (bass), both named Valerie and my future wife came out of CB’s all flushed and sweaty. They had just beaten the crap out of some guy who had been acting out and was annoying everyone. He dropped his pants in front of the girls and they proceeded to beat him, cracking some ribs. They kicked him repeatedly with steel toe boots. The 2 Valeries introduced me to their friend Gayle. Later at a house party she said 2 things to me: “That’s my comic book you’re reading, put it back when you’re done” and “Do you want a beer?” – we were living together a year later and have been married for over 22 years. We have 3 daughters. Most shows we played were $5 dollars to get in. I always felt weird having a couple people on the guest list and leaving out others. Usually I would pay on the side for a bunch of people and then tell them they were on the guest list, so everyone felt special. I think a lot of people were attracted to hardcore or “the scene” because they were excluded from other areas of society. It made sense to me that a Psychos show was a place everyone could feel included. Most times I sprang for $20 – which was about what my cut of the door was if we were lucky, but once at a show I ended up laying out almost a hundred bucks. I had a decent job, made good money – I was just playing for the fun of it and it was more fun if everyone got in. I had laid out the money for the first run of t-shirts the Psychos did. I gave so many away I had no chance of getting my money back – forget a profit – not much of a businessman! But these were my friends. I never felt quite right introducing filthy commerce into the relationship.
A7/Tompkins Square Park: Steve – There was a real period of tension between the punks who arrived on the Lower East Side and the residents, mostly Hispanics. I can tell you that one night hanging outside of A7 a friend and myself were shot at, but I couldn’t say who or where it came from. Early on there were few people hanging out so you’re really just an oddity to the locals. Then more people show up, and tension rises. As time went by we started moving into the neighborhood and our numbers increased and the dynamic changed again as we became the regulars. I would guess it’s a pretty common cycle of gentrification. A friend had gotten hold of some white blotter stamps of acid that someone just handed to him. He gave hits away to friends until that night there were about 150 people hanging in and around Tompkins Square Park tripping on acid and drinking 40’s. I remember just standing there listening to the buzz of the crowd, it felt like a beehive, just buzzing and humming with conversation and activity. A grey car pulled up at the corner, some kind of Lincoln Town Car or Cadillac – huge American metal- and a bunch of guys leaned out the windows yelling at us and cursing before driving away with us chasing them. Some time later a grey-ish Volkswagen or Subaru – maybe even Le Car – some compact shit, pulls up to the same light and somebody yells, “ There they are” and a bunch of people attack the car beating on it and trying to turn it over. I remember standing there thinking; “ok its sort of the same color but wasn’t the first car bigger”? The people in the second car must have been shitting!
You would see the cops scatter as soon as it got dark; they didn’t want any part of LES after 8PM. We mostly traveled in small groups when heading into Alphabet City in the small hrs (Hence the name of the SIN Club, Safety In Numbers) and I preferred walking in the street so someone couldn’t attack me by hiding in a doorway or by coming out of an abandoned building. My wife was heading down Ave B one night about half a block behind someone who was carrying a guitar. A man stepped out from the shadows, stabbed the guy and walked away with the guitar.
Originally published in Chiller Than Most fanzine, issue 6 (2018).
CTM – 01. You played your first show with Abombanation, Krakdown, Token Entry at Right Track Inn in late 1987. As far as I know it was an amazing show where Ray Parada was covered in blood from busting his nose open during Outburst set. What are your memories of the first Outburst show?
Joe Songco – The Right Track Inn was this cool little club in Merrick, Long Island. That’s our original bassist Chris Bruno in that shot. I think it may have been ABombANation’s first show too. Rayco and Matt were also from around the way in Astoria and they were regular visitors to our south side of Astoria Park from the Ditmars Boulevard side. I sure do remember Rayco busting his nose open. Personally, it was awesome that he was dancing for us and fortunately he was okay to go up and do ABombANation’s set! I remember loving their melodic sound. I believe it was Jay Krakdown who got us on that bill. They were always so sick with their live show. I remember introducing myself to their drummer John Soldo because his cousin Christina was my classmate and good friend at St. John’s Prep. Along with Leeway, Kraut & Murphy’s Law, Token Entry were one of the established neighborhood bands so it was great to be playing with them. I remember being really nervous doing the long Johnny Feedback snare roll in “All Twisted” at the end of our set because Ernie was watching from the side. I grew up watching all those great Astoria drummers and I didn’t want to botch it!
CTM – 02. Outburst with Walter Schreifels on bass
Joe Songco – That was our first CBGB gig in December ’87. Breakdown was supposed to headline but had to cancel so we played with American Standard, Department of Corruption and Atrocity. Our bassist Chris had a family trip he was unable to get out of. Chris and Brian were friends with all the Jackson Heights guys in Gorilla Biscuits & Token Entry. Luckily, Walter offered to fill in on bass and I remember he learned the songs really quickly. Aside from GB, he’d already played for Warzone & Youth of Today so his chops were really good. I’m so glad someone snapped that picture to evidence the time Walter played in Outburst!
CTM – 03. What’s the story of this Outburst photo? Where and when did you take this photo?
Joe Songco – This was taken on the campus of Columbia University in Manhattan. Our roadie and former high school classmate Julio (to my right in the black leather jacket) had gone to Columbia after high school and he invited us one night to come party at his school.
CTM – 04. Basketball…
Joe Songco – This was taken in Long Island City, which is a neighborhood on one side of the Queensboro Bridge (on the other side is the famous hip hop neighborhood Queensbridge Projects, home of Nas, Mobb Deep, Roxanne Shante, Marley Marl, etc). Jay and his brother Al were big time basketball fans like me and we often got together to hit the courts. On this day, Brian and one of our other roadies Carlos joined us and we played all afternoon. What’s really cool about this shot is I’m wearing the original Run DMC & Beastie Boys “Together Forever” tour shirt. Eminem also wears this shirt in his video for “Berzerk”.
CTM – 05. CBGB…
Joe Songco – I’m pretty sure this CBGB show was with Breakdown in ’88. That’s Eric Fink from Side By Side/Uppercut about to launch himself into the crowd off of Brian’s back. This photo was taken by the legendary BJ Papas. I remember during our cover of Kraut’s “All Twisted”, Gavin from Absolution/Burn took the mic and sang the whole second verse.
CTM – 06. Remembering Elkin
Joe Songco – Elkin just roadied the NYC area Outburst shows. Just a few blocks away from CBGB was St. Mark’s Pizza. We’d usually go there after shows or if we had some time in between bands. “Gotta get that extra cheese slice!” he would say, every time. He loved how they would put a handful of mozzarella on top of any slice with a topping before it went into the oven. That’s all he ever needed as payment for his services. Our roadie, my homie.
Freddy Alva interview originally published in Chiller Than Most fanzine, issue 3 (2014).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
This show review originally published in In Effect fanzine, issue 1.
Raw Deal at CBGBs (04-17-1988)
As an extra treat, you can also download their live set here:
Absolution at CBGBs
Raw Deal demo recording session
Lou (Sick Of It All) and Anthony (Raw Deal) at The Garage
“Lou: It’s good. It’s a lot bigger than when we first started going to shows. There are so many new kids and new bands. A lot of the bands are good, just some of them should be more original. Originality is what makes bands stick out and that’s why bands like Raw Deal and Absolution have come to the top out of all the new bands because they are original in their sound and in their music. They borrow stuff from other bands just like us, but we don’t let that rule our style.” Sick Of It All interview from 1988, In Effect fanzine #2.
“Drew Carolan is an accomplished photographer and film maker, native New Yorker and Lower East Sider. Between 1983 and 1985, this local photographer began photographing the patrons of the now infamous hardcore matinees that were going on at the seminal underground music club, CBGB. Drew basically just set up his makeshift outdoor/mobile studio by putting up a large, white tarp/cardboard on the south side of Bleecker Street, just steps to the west of Bowery (i.e. essentially across the street from CBGB). The Bowery at that time was a true melting pot of downtrodden adults, underage hardcore punk kids, and people living on the fringes of society. He documented a wide cast of characters, punk kids, bands, and assorted characters on their way to and from hardcore matinees.
Radio Raheem Records released the long overdue publication of the the Matinee Project photos series, pick up your copy of “Matinee: All Ages on the Bowery” book directly from the label. https://deathwishinc.com/collections/radio-raheem
In 2015, Dublin street artist Solus painted a tribute mural to Joey Ramone on Bleecker Street, it was created to celebrate the the 40th anniversary of the Ramones debuting at CBGB. He painted his mural to the same wall, where Drew Carolan took his matinee photographs. A few months ago, Shepard Fairey street artist created a new mural in honor of Debbie Harry and Blondie.” Chiller Than Most fanzine, 2017
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.