by Edgegazer fanzine
Zizzack (Intent, Mob Mentality, Moshers Delight) interview originally published in Chiller Than Most fanzine, issue 1. (Click the picture for bigger size.)
Pics by Angela Owens, Nick Kucway, Dan Rawe, Curtis, Joseph Ipatzi.
CTM – What was your segway into hardcore? What are some of your earliest show memories?
Zizzack – I first got into punk through skate videos and hanging around with older kids in my neighborhood that I skated with around 2000/2001. My first show was Bane and Striking Distance at the University of Maryland in 2002, but I didn’t know any of the bands and was mainly there to skate on campus with my friends. My earliest show memories were going to see bands at a local venue called the Electric Maid.
CTM – Tell us a bit about the history and how Intent was formed?
Zizzack – INTENT is me on vocals (DC), Gil on guitar (Boston), Alex on 2nd guitar (Boston), Chad on bass (DC), and Kenny on drums (Boston). INTENT formed in the late summer of 2011 when Alex and Gil started jamming some songs together. They had the idea of doing a band that was New Breed comp styled and asked me to sing. DFJ and Gary Decker were the original drummer and bassist that helped write the songs on our “No Rules” demo we dropped in September 2012. We then got Kenny and Chad to fill their roles after they left the band and have played 9 shows on the east coast and 4 shows in California since then.
CTM – What is your message that you want to give to people through the music? What goals do you want your current band to accomplish?
Zizzack – Intent is all about confronting problems that we experience in everyday life. I consider our music to be for the common man. There aren’t any deep or hidden metaphors in my lyrics – everything is very straight forward about how I feel. We are all about keeping an open mind and staying positive amongst the shit we live in. My only goals are to hopefully have some kids out there identify with our message and to play as many shows all over the North American continent as possible. I’m also looking forward to our second demo tape “All or Nothing” coming out very soon.
CTM – The band name used to be “Apart” but you changed it. Apart from the popular trends in hardcore today. What are the latest trends within hardcore that piss you off the most?
Zizzack – One of my biggest complaints about the larger scale hardcore scene today is that so many people treat it as a means to an end. Whether it’s to gain social status, hook-up with girls, or make money – all that shit has no place in hardcore. All of these things are no different than the shit that society forces down your throat everyday. That’s where the name “Apart” came from – we wanted to be completely separated from all the bullshit. Hardcore is all I have in this world, and I’ve been a member of the American hardcore scene for 12 years now – almost half of my life. It’s helped me find all my closest friends, meet other like-minded individuals, and be able to play music all over the country. Nothing lets me down more than when people confuse (abuse) the notion of hardcore with normal society.
CTM – What have been some memorable moments for Intent so far? Have folks been responding well to the band?
Zizzack – Every moment with Intent is memorable as there are so many different personalities in the band. My favorite times with the band are just being in a van together and all the wild shit we get into traveling from place to place. The overall feedback I get is that kids are really digging the band. I travel to shows all across the USA very often and random kids will come up to me and tell me how much they love the demo and can’t wait to hear more material. I put a lot of hard work into Intent so it really means a lot when the first thing a kid I’ve never met before tells me how much they’re into the band.
CTM – When Intent “No Rules” demo came out, a lot of people described the band as a substitute for Free Spirit. How do you feel about that?
Zizzack – There’s an obvious connection since we have Gil and Kenny in the band, who both played in Free Spirit. Chad and I are both longtime fans of the band and traveled with them to shows pretty often. Alex was a Free Spirit roadie as well. Musically, I feel Intent is very different from what Free Spirit was doing. While both bands have a definite NYHC influence, I feel we went down another path with all the groovy parts in our songs. If anything, the comparison is an honor and any similarity is an homage to one of my favorite bands of our era.
CTM – Let’s talk about your upcoming second demo. What are some of the new tracks about?
Zizzack – Our second demo is going to be called “All or Nothing” and will feature 4 new songs. Here’s the tracklist and what the songs are about:
CTM – Who did your Intent banner? What are your favorite hardcore banners?
Zizzack – My good friend Zach Crogan, also the singer of Mob Mentality, made our banner 5 minutes before our first set ever. He has a very ill vibe when it comes to NYHC-styled art so he was my first choice when trying to find someone to make our banner. Some of my favorite hardcore banners are Warzone, Judge, Killing Time, and Underdog.
CTM – Lets discuss your t-shirt collection. How long have you been collecting t-shirts? How did your collection start?
Zizzack – I’ve been collecting shirts ever since I got into hardcore. It wasn’t until around 2008 that I really started to collect original hardcore shirts though. I have always been a very material person and really into collecting stuff that I’m into – whether it’s demos, records, shirts, zines, etc. Shirts are just my main interest because I can where them around wherever. All the other things I mentioned are totally cool, and I have big collections of them as well, but you can only ever listen to a physical record in your room. Hardcore tees have been my main style since as far back as I can remember.
CTM – What piece was the hardest to get? What is the story behind this tee?
Zizzack – One of my longest top wants was the Breakdown alien ringer – one of the most incredible designs I have ever seen. I had wanted this shirt, ever since Hoodrack first showed it to me years ago. It always went for close to $500 on eBay so I passed up many of them over the years. I was given the opportunity to get one earlier this year in a private sale and I couldn’t be more stoked to finally own it.
CTM – What are your favorite rip-off tees from the last couple of years? Stick Together – Bad Trip Positively Bad rip off is awesome!
Zizzack – One of the best ways you can pay homage your favorite bands is to take the ideas they had and use them as inspiration to create something entirely new. So, in that sense, I have never been a fan of shirts that completely rip-off another band. I will say that I do have a soft spot for the War Hungry shirt from 2006 that rips off of the Warzone ’89 Super Bowl tee on the front and the Leeway ’95 Euro tour tee on the back. That shirt was done before rip-offs became popular and added it’s own flare. It’s definitely the coolest one I’ve seen to date.
CTM – Some kids don’t want to pay hundreds of dollars for an original t-shirt. Some kids say bootleg tees are made for profit only. As a t-shirt collector, what do you think about bootleg tees?
Zizzack – I have no problem with the fact that bootleg shirts exist. I think it’s important to wear bootlegs of older band shirts to shows in hopes that it will inspire the younger crowd to check out classic hardcore bands. I do have a fundamental problem with people selling bootleg shirts for profit because they’re making money off a band they didn’t play in and a shirt they didn’t design. I feel that it cheapens my lifestyle and the values that hardcore promotes by turning it into a business where profits are the main goal.
CTM – What is your favorite BOLD t-shirt? Why did you choose this tee?
Zizzack – I’m a fan of just the classic BOLD design – the one that Ray is wearing on the back of WNITA. I really like how big the print is on the front and how it’s so simple yet so perfect. Sometimes less is more, and that’s pretty evident with this shirt. It’s got a bad ass live pic of the band on the back with the Rev logo under it – need I say more? Chris Bratton once described this shirt to me as “the greatest shirt in the country” – and opinion he’s held since 1988.
CTM – Do you like the final BOLD 7″? The truth is that I eventually grew to like it a lot and I am more likely to listen to it than their Speak Out LP nowadays. I really like those songs but the back cover is still pissing me off. I still don’t like those promo photos, the sunglasses, the New Kids On The Block band shot.
Zizzack – I love everything BOLD has ever done. They are one of my favorite hardcore bands of all time and have never written a bad song. Literally everything about this band is awesome to me – music, lyrics, shirts, posters, record layouts, etc. I got a first press of Speak Out on vinyl when I was 17 and would just stare at the gatefold layout for hours in complete admiration of what I was seeing. It’s pretty crazy how quickly they progressed as a band from 1986-1989 – they went through a lot of different phases at an insane pace. I personally love the back cover of the 7″. Matt looks cool as shit – Jordan 3s, a high-necked longsleeve (always wanted one of these because of this photo), and a crucial fade. Such a perfect style.
CTM – I saw some awesome Soundgarden tees in your collection. What are your favorite non hardcore records?
Zizzack – Here are a few of my favorite non-hardcore records (in no particular order):
CTM – What do you think about fashion in hardcore? I think the problem happens when kids put it before the music. I’d like to think that if you’re that into HC collecting that you’d be just as into the message.
Zizzack – One of the coolest things about hardcore is that it promotes individuality and being yourself. Having your own sense of style and fashion is just one of the many ways that people can identify themselves and express who they are as a person. I agree with your sentiment that fashion should always come second to the music. Sometimes people lose sight of the message that hardcore conveys when they get caught up in the latest fashion trends, which is very easy to do since we live in such a materialistic society. For me, it’s a combination of the message and who I am as a person – my style is indicative of where those two ideas meet.
CTM – What’s your take on the current state of hardcore in DC?
Zizzack – Hardcore in DC is at an all-time high right now. We’ve got current bands like Coke Bust and Give touring all over the entire world and a handful of cool local bands that are playing shows in the DC, Maryland, and Virginia area. When I first started going to DC shows in the early 2000s, the scene felt like it was run entirely by people that were much older than me. Now, more than ever, tons of younger kids are coming out to shows and becoming a part of the community. We have a good amount of venues and houses that have opened their doors to put on shows which has really kept things alive. Overall, I’m very happy with what’s happening in DC right now.
CTM – You used to be in Mob Mentality. What happened with Mob Mentality? Is it true that Mob Mentality will return?
Zizzack – All I have to say is that Mob Mentality is back in 2013 and you can see that for yourself here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5yFXCY5ilrc It feels very good to be playing around again. Hopefully we get to play some more shows up and down the east coast and eventually write some new material.
CTM – I think Lion of Judah is one of the most underrated bands from DC. What was the reason for that? I mean they were proficient players on their respective instruments and they were a little weird from the typical hardcore formulas. Do you agree with my opinion?
Zizzack – I share that same opinion to an extent. Lion of Judah emerged during a time in hardcore where Lockin’ Out Records was at it’s peak. Even though they put out their first 7″ on LOR, it’s no surprise that people didn’t immediately catch on with the kind of music they were playing at that particular time. They were playing a completely different style than what was popular, incorporating influences from Bad Brains, BURN, and late-80s DC bands all the way to 90s alternative. They were a very important band during my upbringing in hardcore as they exposed me to some of my favorite bands such as Swiz and BURN. I’ve had the privilege of touring with them a bunch, and those times are some of my favorite memories of being on the road.
CTM – Tell me something about Flophouse where you used to live with other hardcore kids. If I am not mistaken most of them were straight edge. Normally flop house is an apartment where many drug abusers stay to sleep and do drugs.
Zizzack – I live in a house with 8 other dudes (9 including myself) that has 4 levels – 2 above ground and 2 below. Half are straight edge and the other half like to party. One of my roommates Nicktape does a label called “Flophouse Records”, but I would never apply that terminology to our house. We’re all close friends that get along really well and have a great dynamic since there are so many unique personalities in the house. So many bands and labels are run out of the house, and we’ve become a place for everyone to stay at that comes through town. I live in the basement aka the DC chapter of the National Museum of American Hardcore.
CTM – List three hardcore bands of the present that have left a great impression on you and why?
Zizzack – GIVE: They came at a time in my life when I felt hardcore was stagnant and hit me with a breath of floral-scented fresh air. No one was playing their style of music and it really felt like they were creating something completely new. Touring with them extensively literally changed my life for the better. John, the singer, is one of my closest friends and one of my biggest inspirations when doing bands.
FREE SPIRIT: Easily my favorite hardcore band of the past 10 years. Nothing makes me happier than knowing I got to experience this band from start to finish. They had such a unique vibe and style that attracted me right from the start. These were dudes just like me that were playing the music I love and exactly what I wanted to hear at the time, and their lyrics are also some of the most sincere and relatable that I’ve ever heard. And they did it all with flawless execution – a perfect example of music for the common man. Gil, the singer, is also one of my closest friends and biggest inspiration as a vocalist.
MINDSET: Hands down the best straight edge band in the world right now. This is another band that has a special place in my heart since I have been seeing them right from the start. Everything about their aesthetic, vibe, style, music, lyrics is incredible. The most important thing to me about them is their live performance, which is unparalleled by any other current hardcore band. I could care less about what you can do on a record or in the studio – all that matters to me is that you bring it live, and they never fail to blow my mind when I see them play.
CTM – What was the motivation for starting Moshers Delight ‘zine? With the whole internet age, fanzines definitely are not as common as they used to be, so what pushes you to still do it in classic format?
Zizzack – Moshers Delight was a an idea that was tossed around by me and John last summer. He wanted to do a cool zine again, and I wanted to do something more than just be in a band. The idea was very simple: do a one-page zine that pays homage to our favorites such as Boiling Point and Schism with one side being a band interview and the other side having 4 demo reviews. Since then it has turned into a collective group of like-minded people. We coordinate with our friends from all over (Toronto, DC, Boston, and Texas) to produce the reviews and toss around new ideas.
CTM – How was Moshers Delight Records started? What was your motivation to start this label? Future plans, upcoming releases? etc.
Zizzack – Doing a record label was the next logical step for us spread the message of Moshers Delight even further. I had always wanted to start my own label to put out Intent releases and a few of my close friends’ bands so it made sense for us to expand into a record label to keep that momentum going. You can expect the next Intent demo, the Stand Clear demo, and the Big Contest 7″ all to come out on Moshers Delight Records hopefully before the end of the year.
CTM – I read that most of the bands have problems crossing the border to Canada. Do you have any funny stories?
Zizzack – One time we got stopped at the Vancouver border on the LOJ/Give summer 2009 tour and had our whole van inspected. One of the other roadies that was with us was smoking a ton of weed and rolling joints on his passport the whole time we were on the road. After they searched through all of our bags and equipment the border guard gave us back our passports and laughs as he says “Here’s a tip when crossing the border in the future – don’t roll doobies on your passport!” That is still one of my fondest memories of being on tour and it still amazes me to this day that we made it through.
CTM – Do you ever think about what you’d be doing instead of hardcore?
Zizzack – If I wasn’t into hardcore I would probably be living under a boardwalk on a beach in California doing tons of psychedelic drugs.
CTM – Zizzack, thanks for your time. Any closing thoughts, shout outs or words of encouragement?
Zizzack – Everyone should be on the lookout for the next Intent demo and the Zoom demo. Other bands from the USA that you should check out are Big Contest, Independence, Stand Clear, and New Brigade. Also check out our favorite bands from Canada – Ancient Heads and Demolition. And to all you kids out there: NEVER GIVE IN TO SOCIETY’S FUCKING BULLSHIT.
Gene Melkisethian (Give) interview originally published in Chiller Than Most, issue 3.5. Pics by Farrah Skeiky, Dan Rawe, Lonetriker, Elena Des
CTM – It’s such an inane bit of trivia but I really like working titles of songs. What have been some working titles of songs in the past? why did you give these working titles to these songs? Share some stories!
Gene – Working titles often relate to one element of the riff/rhythm/whatever that evokes something else, or an inside joke. We used to have a number system, but I can’t remember any of the corresponding songs anymore. We just use working titles because John is lazy and we have to force him to write lyrics when we’re in (or about to go into) the studio. Every band I have ever been in is like this, so I think that singers just can’t help it.
CTM – Did you read the book called “New York Hardcore 1980-1990” by Tony Rettman? I really enjoyed my time with this book.
Gene – I haven’t had a chance to read it, but Tony did a reading from it at my store. The stories about the ‘80s hardcore scene are cool, but I kind of liked it better when everything was a mystery.
CTM – I heard that your dad was around for everything that happened in DC in the early 80’s. He was the go to guy in town for amp repair and all of the big name hardcore bands came to him. Please feel free to share some great stories you heard from him!
Gene – My favorite story that isn’t too long to write is that when he got the Rites of Spring LP from the guys he told them, “Finally, this is some real music,” or something to that effect. Another cool story is that Darryl Jenifer stopped him on the street in Georgetown (fancy DC neighborhood) way back when and handed him a “Pay to Cum” with picture sleeve. It’s not every day that your father gets handed a $3000 record by the greatest band ever, but lucky for me I still have it.
CTM – Your latest release is an awesome live set, Moshers Delight put out your set from Fort Reno this past summer on a cassette. Fort Reno has got a great history and Amanda MacKaye continues to put on shows there every summer. I think it’s an awesome tradition in your town.As the city’s DIY rock scenes blossomed, it became a place for new wavers and then punks—an identity Fort Reno has kept even as D.C. hardcore has given way to D.C. post-hardcore. Give played there a couple of times, please tell me something about the vibe of Fort Reno!
Gene – Fort Reno is great, I think I first when there in ’90 or so to see Fugazi. My parents would bring me along and I got a chance to check out great music in a kid friendly environment. I was there for the “Ice Cream Eating Motherfucker” incident, so how could I not love the place? Fort Reno is many of the things that make DC great: it’s free (tons of free cultural activities here due to all of the museums), it’s outside (DC has tons of parks including a huge one behind my house that we shot the cover for our LP in), lots of good bands have played and money is not the object(another DC thing and I’m proud to be part of it). Also, big thanks to Amanda, she rules.
CTM – If I am not mistaken everyone has their favorite era/line up of Youth Of Today. What was the best Youth Of Today line up?
Gene – BDTW lineup, no question. That shit is untouchable! I first got my hands on a copy of it when I was very young (maybe I was 10?) when my sister borrowed if from some trench coat wearing goth punk at her school. I looked at the cover and the lyrics and knew that this was EXACTLY what I was into. I can’t even believe that P-O-S-E-R Crucial John prefers the sellout record.
CTM – Which NYHC hardcore band or song writer do you think writes the deepest lyrics, those that you can tell come from the heart?
Gene – I don’t look to NYHC for that kind of vibe, NYHC isn’t really the place for deep introspection. More often I’m thinking to myself “Boy, this music is great, why did they say THAT?!?” Notable exception being Absolution, those lyrics are pretty cool.
CTM – What have been some of your personal highlights or defining moments of the last European tour? What are the weirdest things you’ve ever seen on your European tours? Unusual European foods, weirdest European buildings, traditions etc.
Gene – I have a much more impressionistic way of looking at things, I used to know mundane details and facts about shows, records, etc, now I just follow life wherever it takes me. Getting to see old friends is always a highlight. Getting to see my friend Sarah, who almost died in a terrible accident, was a real blessing. Spending extra time in Berlin and Budapest was also great. We have so many great hosts that it seems unfair to single people out. Nothing in Europe is very foreign to me, I think I’m foreign to most other humans on Earth, I’m good to go wherever I am. No food is gonna really freak me out. If it’s from a plant, how bad could it be? If it’s a dead animal, it’s gross no matter what.
CTM – I heard that Beady Eye “Different Gear, Still Speeding This” was the soundtrack to the Flowerhead tour. (Beady Eye was bad ass as well although it’s not good as Oasis. I was lucky to see them in Germany in 2013.) What do you listen to when you are on the road? what do you listen to in your tour bus?
Gene – That record is real good. I don’t care about Oasis. We listen to all kinds of stuff, depends on who is driving. If 85 is up front we’re probably listening to Z-Ro or some chopped and screwed shit. I’m more into conversation than listening to even more music (we do that all night).
CTM – Thanks for your time! Last words?
Gene – Thanks for being our friend, thanks for doing a zine, thanks to the Budapest HC scene. Start a band, start a zine, get involved.