Uppercut review originally published in Open Your Eyes fanzine.
Letter from Blackout Records to Uppercut
Picture by Ken Salerno
Uppercut review originally published in Open Your Eyes fanzine.
Letter from Blackout Records to Uppercut
Picture by Ken Salerno
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!
Originally released in Chiller Than Most fanzine, issue 4. Photos by James Damion, Freddy Alva, Chris Wynne, Chris Benetos.
My name is Todd Lung and I was the drummer for the band.
In order to give you the full radio show experience, I need to start from no place else but the beginning….. In 1988 Fit of Anger was comprised of a bunch of 16 and 17 year old kids. It was Nick on vocals, Al on guitar, Chris on bass, and me on drums. We were all living in College Point and would practice almost every day after school in my basement. Nick and I went to the same school (including Tom Daly the singer of Stand Proud). We had just put out our first demo. Our first show was a CB’s Sunday Matinee. If I remember correctly it was for Sheer Terror’s record release party. Every Thursday night I would listen to Crucial Chaos just to see if they would play our demo.
The station was great because they would play all the local hardcore and punk bands music, no matter the recording quality. 89.1 was hard for me to get on my radio, so even the best recordings at the time sounded gritty. One night the DJ had announced they were receiving a lot of requests for FOA. He followed it up by playing POW Bring Them Home. I’d like to add that Crucial Chaos was great because it got you ready for the weekend hardcore shows no matter where they were or who was playing. When I was told we were playing Crucial Chaos, besides how fucking cool that was, I thought how are we getting our shit there? It was one thing for our friends to borrow their parent’s cars on a Sunday afternoon, but to do it during the week at night? That night we waited on two friends to drive us. We loaded Gange’s Cordoba (Mike Gange who later became the executive producer for the Howard Stern Show) with my drums, guitars, and sent him on his way to the city. We waited for our other friend (who shall remain nameless) to pick us up and he never showed. My brother Andy had come home in his little Nissan Sentra. He agreed to take us to NYU. We all piled in his car which was so small that we had to roll the windows down in the back seat so Chris’ bass guitar would fit. I’ll never forget sitting in the back seat of my brother’s car, holding on to Chris’ bass with the windows rolled down, sticking out on both sides of the car. Andy dropped us off at the school on the sidewalk where all my drums and guitars met us on the sidewalk.
Freddy Alva: Hanging out w/Fit Of Anger in College Point, Queens 1988.
We were met by an “Engineer” who guided the band, the equipment, and all our friends who showed up, to what I remember as this little room. It was like being an animal in a cage at the zoo. There was barely enough room for the band and the equipment, let alone all our friends who showed up. The engineers in the booth kept saying we couldn’t have all those people in there with us, but they stayed the entire set. Not sure of any flyers on the wall, as the whole process was rushed from when we arrived, set up and then went live. The quarters were so cramped that Chris kept hitting my cymbals with his bass. Our friends at least brought beer with them, which also was not allowed in the studio but we drank them anyway. Highlights of the experience now listening back are that both Nick and I married our high school sweethearts. You will hear Nick dedicating songs to Pepsi (her name is Pepita but we all called her Pepsi), as well as me yelling out “Yes Helen!” The words between Al and Nick saying “Especially Dave Moscatto (who later became Big Dave on MTV’s battle for Ozzfest, Ozzy’s kids nanny and now his tour manager)” and Nick says “Whatever!” Then Nick is asking for water for like 3 songs. “Someone get me some water!”… no one got him water. Ha, that’s how we were together all the time, if you acted like an asshole you got treated like an asshole.
I knew we made our mark in hardcore when after we played our set. They invited us in the back of the studio to cut some promo I.D’s. “We are Fit of Anger and you are listening to Crucial Chaos on 89.1 WNYU”. Easier said then done. We did about 5 of them and I think they all sucked. I never did hear any of the promos we recorded played on the radio. The next morning I got up and went to school. I’ll never forget how I felt being tired and hung over in homeroom. The kid next to me (who I didn’t get along with, was part of the jocks, aka the “in crowd”), tells me he heard me on the radio last night, and says “You guys were great last night.” “Let me know when you play a show”. I so wanted him to come to CB’s that Sunday so he could get the shit kicked out of him. It was after playing the radio station that I was recognized by the “in crowd”. As I walked through the halls, guys would stop me to talk about the band. What Crucial Chaos did was bring the music into the radios of those that normally wouldn’t listen to that style of music. NYHC had shows, tapes, 7”’s and records, but no airplay. Crucial Chaos provided that format to which I will be forever grateful. When FOA recorded demos or played live, there was no difference. It’s not like we had the money back then to record individual tracks. We would all play and sing at the same time, so how you heard us playing on a recording is how you heard us live. Even when you hear us on New Breed’s Tape Compilation, you hear Nick start the song with “Just one more take?” All we did back then was play and record the songs over and over as a group and then pick the best one.
Originally released in Chiller Than Most fanzine, issue 5. (Click the picture for bigger size.)
The New Breed compilation came about as an extension of Freddy Alva’s fanzine, also called New Breed. His friend, Chaka Malik (Burn), agreed to collaborate on getting a bunch of the newer bands on the scene circa 1987-1989 and put them on a tape compilation. The compilation was released on Urban Style Records in 1989, a name that perfectly reflected the music and the environment in which it existed, because the bands of “the New Breed era” were more creative and expanded out of that earlier NYC formula. Freddy and Chaka asked all their friends that were in bands to give them songs to include. Work on it started in the summer of 1988 and it came out during the spring of 1989.
They did everything from dubbing the tapes, one by one, putting together and stapling the accompanying booklet. Chaka Malik did the layout for the Absolution and Collapse pages in the booklet, and the rest of the bands contributed their own layouts. Created in a cut-and-paste style and heavily influenced by graffiti art. (Freddy Alva’s debut book “Urban Styles: Graffiti in New York Hardcore” is out now! The book is an adventure back to a time when subcultures and underground movements blended seamlessly and went largely unnoticed by the mainstream world.) The finished package was put inside a clear comic book bag and sold for 5 bucks. The New Breed compilation was limited to a pressing of 700 copies.
#43 W 8th St
The tape is chock full of classic NYHC, featuring influential hardcore groups such as Breakdown, Raw Deal, Fit of Anger, Beyond, Abombanation, Pressure Release, Our Gang etc. Absolution was their first choice for inclusion. Chaka and Freddy paid for the recording of the legendary song called “Never Ending Game” at Don Fury’s studio. Outburst also released “The Hardway” on this cassette, personally this song is one of my all time favorites. For New Breed comp, they did a Don Fury version of “The Hardway” with AJ from Leeway doing the mixing, getting a crisper sound than they got on the demo (also recorded at Don Fury). It eventually became a crowd sing-a-long favorite at Outburst gigs, so they wanted to put it on “Where The Wild Things Are” compilation also. Freddy selected the CBGB live version of “Controlled” to be the third Outburst song on the compilation. That’s with Brian Donohue’s genius stage banter asking the crowd of CBGB to dance because he really likes this song. Biblical! 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.
In the third issue of Chiller Than Most I asked Freddy Alva about the cover: “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.”