Tag Archives: nyhc

171A, Rat Cage Records Store / A hardcore-fanatic’s guide – Part IV.

Originally released in Chiller Than Most fanzine, issue 5. (Click the picture for bigger size.)

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This innocuous construction was built in 1900, in 117 years this building tells some great history. In 1976, Hyman Lieberman was arrested for possessing 2400 pounds of mannite worth $500,000 which he was distributing to drug dealers for use in cutting heroin. Lieberman owned a store at 171 Avenue A, which he had previously owned and sold in 1966. The burnt-out abandoned building at 171 Avenue A became the epicenter of the New York City hardcore movement, it was down the block from A7.

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MDC with Jerry Williams, 1982.

It was pretty much a community center ran by a guy named Jerry Williams, perfect for hanging out, and a great meeting place too. Jerry was a key figure in the burgeoning early 80s NYHC scene, recording bands at his 171A studio and doing sound at CBGB, as well as playing guitar in Bloodclot and later on with Irate (NYC). He produced records for the Bad Brains, Token Entry, Antidote, Reagan Youth, Warzone, Cro-Mags, Murphy’s Law, and a ton more. In September 1980, Williams began renovating the interior of 171 Avenue A, which had formerly been a glass shop. By November, 171A housed after-hour parties where downtown bands like the Cooties performed. Kids used the space for everything: they put on shows, recorded bands, screened movies. Williams successfully pulled off gigs at 171A every Friday and Saturday night for a few weeks until a rival club tipped the New York Fire Department that it was selling liquor without a license. The NYFD closed it down before a New Year’s party, so it was converted to a rehearsal space. They charged $6 to $8 per hour for bands to rehearse and had a gigantic PA system.

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Dave Parsons

A year later, Jerry’s friend Dave Parsons opened his Rat Cage Records store in 171A’s cellar. There he started the label Rat Cage Records, and put out these awesome records by Beastie Boys (Polly Wog Stew EP), Agnostic Front (Victim In Pain LP) and The Young And The Useless (Real Men Don’t Floss 7″).
Rat Cage was actually the first advertiser in The Big Takeover, way back in issue #8 from December 1981. Their ad described some of their services: “T-Shirts, import records, sold & traded clothes, fanzines, badges and local shit.”

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– 171A is the place where I wrote and recorded the first Cro-Mags songs. Don’t get me wrong, Harley and John wrote many great lyrics to songs but the brutal truth is that I am the Cro-Mags’ founding member. I know who wrote what, what happened and when it happened, who did or didn’t do this and that!* (* Yes, it was irony.)
– 171A is the place where the Bad Brains recorded one of the most influential hardcore releases of all time, the legendary ROIR cassette. The Bad Brains played a gig at 171A in May 1981, Jerry Williams recorded it on reel-to-reel tape. The band really liked the sound and returned to 171A, the Bad Brains spent the rest of 1981 in the East Village, recording with Jerry. 12 of the 15 tracks on the album came from these sessions, while “Jah Calling”, “Pay to Cum” and “I Luv I Jah”, were from Williams’ live recording in May.

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– 171A is the place where Jerry Williams screened music documentaries (“Shellshock Rock” / “Self Conscious Over You” documentary movies about the evolution of the punk scene in Belfast) in the evenings, and between the two flicks the Stimulators performed. Harley Flanagan was 14 old at the time, he was playing drums for the Stimulators.
– 171A is the place where Harley Flanagan used to practice when he was trying to get the Cro-Mags together. He jammed there with the Bad Brains, who lived there at the time. When Harley was putting together the Cro-Mags, with the original lineup was him on bass, ex-Mad drummer Dave Hann, and a pre-Even Worse Dave Stein on guitar, and Louie Rivera (Antidote) was singing with them until Eric Casanova stepped into the picture.
– 171A is the place where Circle Jerks, Angry Samoans, The Subhumans all jammed and recorded.
– 171A is the place where Beastie Boys played their first gig, they opened up for the Bad Brains.
– There was an infamous night when DOA were playing at A7 and then they went over to 171A and did their set and then they went back over to A7 and did another set and the crowd just followed them back and forth.
– 171A is the place where Williams formed a band comprised of Bad Brains roadies who called themselves Bloodclot. They did perform many live gigs opening for the Bad Brains. Although Bloodclot never released an album, they only recorded a demo at 171A.
– 171A is the place where the Beastie Boys recorded the “Polly Wog Stew” EP with producer Scott Jarvis. Utilizing a four-track and an Echo-plex, they were kicked out of the studio after two days so they mixed it in Jarvis’s apartment.

 

Stand Proud – WNYU

Originally released in Chiller Than Most fanzine, issue 4. Artworks by Andrew Monserrate.

STAND PROUD Live – WNYU:

http://www28.zippyshare.com/v/92pqCaCm/file.html

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CTM – What are your memories of this classic radio program?
Andrew Monserrate – I started listening to Crucial Chaos, WNYU 89.1 in the mid 80’s every Thursday night. It’s what really turned me on to “ALL” Hardcore Punk. I mean, usually in the Lower East side scene people listened to the same “IN” stuff “Murphy’s Law, AF, Cro Mags, … Bad Brains and all the local skin head bands.
Listening to Spermicides mixes really shaped my taste for all underground music… I still have cassettes from the mixes of the stuff she played, then the live bands that played afterward. Her mixes included all Hardcore music from all over the country and world, she would mix a Poland band, with the Ramones song, then a rare GBH song, with a local band that put out one basement demo and then broke up, then a Warzone song, A Circle Jerks song, Gang Green song, then another foreign German song etc etc etc… it was incredible. Each cassette (Thursday show) took on a life of it’s own, like a greatest hits album, every song fit perfect and were great because of the songs that came before & after them. I had four or five friends I made copies for and we would listen to them over and over again, even giving each cassette a name. What made every show of hers great and it came out on the cassettes were her announcements of upcoming shows and news about bands… I can still her voice.

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CTM – Stand Proud live on WNYU:
Andrew Monserrate – Stand Proud was a band from Woodside NY. We meet in 86-87. I’ve played guitar in a few Hardcore bands in the mid 80’s but always as a sit in Guitarist. I was introduced to this younger band, Stand Proud from my friends in Warzone. They had some great songs, and I was allowed to write a bunch of songs, so it was really cool shit. We played CBGBs twice and a few other shows and were building a little following. But I’ll never forget… Tommy the Singer for SP, called me and said we had a gig to play Crucial like 6 days away… I Freaked a bit, mainly because I didn’t think we were tight enough as a band… we rehearsed everyday leading up to that show. But I remember that day like it was yesterday… I was actually working as a construction worker and asked the boss if I could leave early because… I was playing live on the radio… We showed up to the building there on Broadway, with our equipment and it took a few elevator rides to get our gear up there. It was very surreal for me, and I must say, I was very nervous, because we had to sit there for the entire first half hour of the show of her playing her mix… Then it was time for us to get ready to go on… Spermicide came on the air made a bunch of announcements.. but there was a problem… there were about 30 of our fans in the studio, and about 50 more in the lobby trying to get up… she announced on the air to the fans to stop trying to come up and the guards were told not to let anymore people up… so this little studio was packed with fans sitting all around the amps and floors… it was crazy… Spermicide said in all her years she never saw anything like that. So anyways.. we start our set and play way to fast, to our standards, because of nerves… but we got through most of it pretty tight, until I broke a string… and of course I don’t have a back up, so I had to play with a missing g-string for the last few songs… but over all it was a great time… to actually play on the station, I loved so much, it was so surreal.

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Tompkins Square Park, Ray’s Candy Store / A hardcore-fanatic’s guide – Part III.

Pics by Robin Graubard, KT Tobin, Peter LeVasseur, Ray’s Candy Store. (Click the picture for bigger size.)

If there wasn’t a show, every hardcore/punk/skinhead kid would hang out at the park on Avenue A at Tompkins Square Park or drink egg creams at Ray’s Candy Store. Surprisingly, there are no eggs or cream in this fountain drink favourite. It’s actually made with chocolate syrup, milk, and club soda. The key to the perfect egg cream is the ratio of syrup to milk. Ray’s Candy Store is a deli located at 113 Avenue A. Ray Alvarez has operated Ray’s Candy Store since 1974, he truly loves serving his customers and making them happy with delicious food as he has done for over 40 years. This tiny little place sells everything except candy. You will find hot dogs, ice cream, sugar-coated beignets, chicken fingers, fries, milk shakes, fried bananas and fried oreos. (Yes, fried oreos!) Hand written signs are everywhere, photos, newspapers cover the walls, colorful and cluttered.

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Ray was born on January 1 (his birth name was Asghar Ghahraman), 1933 in Iran and moved to New York in 1964, where he worked for another decade as a dishwasher in New York until he purchased the candy store for 30.000 in 1974. In his first hours in Manhattan, after acquiring a coat, he stumbled upon a YMCA that offered room and board for homeless people. When he worked as a waiter at New Jersey’s Short Hills Country Club, he made good with the manager, who took Alvarez with him to many other well-paying jobs. On the notorious night of August 6, 1988, while the police battled protesters in what came to be known as the Tompkins Square Park Riot, Ray’s Candy Store remained open, per Ray, “because all the combatants were my customers.” The police and East Village residents clashed after Parks began enforcing the park’s closing hours, in effect barring homeless from camping in the park.

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– Tompkins Square Park is the place where I ate my first fried oreo, and it was amazing.
– Tompkins Square Park is the place where Agnostic Front, the Beastie Boys, Death Before Dishonor, Antidote, Murphy’s Law, the Psychos, the Abused, Cause For Alarm, the Undead, Heart Attack and a few other bands were always hanging out between shows in the early 80s. The dangerous East Village of the early 80s bore little resemblance to today’s tourist zone, it was the center of the lower New York drug scene. Tompkins Square Park served as home turf to vicious Puerto Rican street gangs. There were so many drugs, there were rapes in the park and the cops didn’t want to deal with it. There were some really tough guys there, and there were fights all the time.

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– Tompkins Square Park is the place where Alex Kinon (Agnostic Front, Skinhead Youth, Cause For Alarm) was shot, and Vinnie Stigma responded by rushing toward the gunfire, armed with only an improvised shield in the form of a garbage-can lid.
– Tompkins Square Park is the place where Breakdown, Supertouch, Reagen Youth, Absolution played their legendary sets on the old bandshell six days after the riot.

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– Tompkins Square Park is the place where Irate (Tommy Carroll – Straight Ahead), Sergio Vega- Collapse/Quicksand, Jerry Williams – 171A, Eric “EK” Komst – Warzone) played this post-riot show in 1988 and they killed it. Irate only played two shows and never had the chance to properly develop their songs.

– Tompkins Square Park is the place where Hare Krishnas started a food program and did a music festival called “Rock Against Maya” in 1982. Cause For Alarm, Murphy’s Law, Frontline, Antidote, The Mob, Kraut, Reagan Youth, Mode of Ignorance were on the bill.
– The park underwent a large renovation in the 1990s and the bandshell was removed, so I didn’t get a chance to take a photo about the infamous stage.
– Tompkins Square Park is the place where Black N’ Blue Productions in association with The New York Hardcore Chronicles did the Dr. Know benefit show in 2016 and organized the Raybeez tribute gig in 2017.
– Tompkins Square Park is across the street, a little ways down from the Pyramid club. At one of the Pyramid gigs Raybeez wanted to take some photos with all the kids at the show in Tompkins Square Park so there were maybe 40 or 50 kids crossing Avenue A to the park, blocking traffic and the cops showed up and told them to go back into the club.

(Originally released in Chiller Than Most fanzine, issue 5.)

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Interview with DJ Spermicide – Part II.

DJ Spermicide (Marlene Goldman) interview originally released in Chiller Than Most fanzine, issue 4. (You can read the first part of the interview here: Part I.)

CTM – Please tell me a bit about the early history of Crucial Chaos. When did you join the station? How did you start your radio program? How was the first broadcast? Who was the first guest/band in the studio?

DJ Spermicide – I was a journalism major and went up to the newspaper to see about joining. It looked dreadfully boring and across the hall was the radio station, which looked a lot more fun, so I decided to pursue that instead. When I joined the radio station there was nothing in the way of a punk or hardcore show. I joined the radio station as a volunteer in 1985. To get a time slot back then you had to start on the AM station, which was only broadcast to the NYU dorms. You had to make tapes of yourself as air checks for the program director to review. I wanted to host the New Afternoon Show, but it was faster to get on FM if you had a specialty show. I proposed Crucial Chaos and since there was a void at the station, I was given the Thursday night time slot for the show. My first broadcast was hectic and nerve wracking, but it was a lot of fun. Murphy’s Law came up to the show and brought pizza and beer and their then new album release, which we had played on the New Afternoon Show, as well. Green vinyl, I remember, so it was hard to see where to cue up the songs.

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CTM – Why did you choose this name for the radio program?

DJ Spermicide – Back then the word Chaos was being used a lot by bands as was the word Crucial. I thought the two words together would perfectly describe the idea of the show—crucial to a music scene that didn’t have a radio voice in NYC at the time and chaos because I knew playing one-minute or shorter songs would be just that.

CTM – Freddy Alva told me that your sidekick on air was Johnny Stiff, an old school Punk Rock dude who’d been around since the beginning and booked some legendary shows. He was famous for being cranky to people calling in to the show. Please tell me about him!

DJ Spermicide – Stiff! He was just as you are describing, a cranky old-school punk rock guy who had booked shows and drove vans for bands and had tons of contacts in the scene. When I first started Chaos I went down to the CBs hardcore matinee every Sunday with promotional flyers about who was going to be on the air the next week and when the show was, etc… Stiff had heard about the show and asked if I needed any help answering phones, putting away records and all that. I really did need tons of help on those fronts and once he started getting involved he was key in getting a lot of the bands to come up for interviews and live sets. He was also good at helping keep order in the studio when there were a dozen kids or whatever cramming in the tiny space.

CTM – As far as I know it was an important concept that you had a kind of anti-mainstream, outsider mentality, the “if you’ve heard it somewhere else, you won’t hear it here” stance that keeps noncommercial stations around. What was your approach to putting together a setlist, a radio show? How did you choose the bands that are playing?

DJ Spermicide – I really wanted it to be a mix of old-school punk, which I still love, and the new hardcore music, not just New York, but of course helping local bands as much as possible. I used to get to the studio early and pull out which records I wanted to play, along with some local cassettes. Those were always a challenge since the quality was often pretty poor. I would go to Venus Records day of my show and Some Records on a regular basis and try to find what was brand new, plus Stiff would sometimes come up with new releases to play. But I really wanted to keep that generational component, mixing 70s and 80s punk in with the hardcore music. I tried to vary the bands played so it wasn’t the same show every week. We also took a lot of requests from listeners. Phones were always ringing off the hook.

CTM – I read somewhere that the main DJ area was pretty typical looking for a college radio station, and a large window separated that from the small room where the bands played. How should we imagine the wall of the studio? Posters, tags, stickers, graffiti on the wall?

DJ Spermicide – The studio was used for all the shows, so there were stickers and posters, but not just punk and hardcore. No graffiti on the walls since it was on university property. The radio station office had file cabinets covered in stickers. Both the studio and room for live bands were pretty small. I had to put people’s names on a sign-in list with the security guard downstairs. There were always extra guests that needed to be signed in. Fortunately the guard was really nice and sometimes asleep.

CTM – What was your unique calling card – whether that’s a catchphrase, intro, or style?

DJ Spermicide – Hmmmm. I suppose just the name I used on the show, Spermicide, with all variations of nicknames. I don’t know that I had a style except trying to keep order amidst the chaos.

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CTM – Some Records was one of the catalyst for the hardcore movement too. This record store (operated by Duane) was a great place to hang out, it was a great meeting place for hardcore bands and folks, fanzine editors and people that would help launch that second wave of New York hardcore. Duane was like a big brother to every hardcore kid who stepped into his store, kids heard every record before it came out. If I am not mistaken Some Records was one of the sponsors of Crucial Chaos for a while. Could you talk about this, and would you mind sharing some memories about Some Records?

DJ Spermicide – Some Records was one of the sponsors. There was always a small scene down at the store though I didn’t hang out there as much as some of the kids. I got a lot of 7-inch records there from smaller, local bands for the show.

CTM – It was really interesting that Outburst put the word out that they were looking for a bass player on Crucial Chaos. Turns out Mike Welles just happened to be home that night listening to Crucial Chaos make the announcement and he responded. They rehearsed a handful of songs at his place one night, then they tore up his kitchen and he was pretty much in the band after that. Would you mind sharing some funny stories about the radio sessions? Please tell me some backstage secrets, funny stories about the radio sessions!
There are some shows that are truly iconic. 01 The Warzone interview was really funny with the hyper active Raybeez and ‘zone guys. Interviewed the same day as Youth Of Today, both bands were promoting records they were about to release: “Break Down The Walls” for Youth Of Today and the “Lower East Side Crew” EP for Warzone. What about some of the personalities or characters in the scene at the time, like Raybeez? What are your memories of this interview? Do you still have that orange Lower East Side crew tee?

DJ Spermicide – That was definitely a memorable night. I didn’t think Warzone was going to make it on time, but they did. Ray Cappo was pretty easy going compared to a lot of the personalities I had on Chaos. Raybeez was always a great person to be around, so much positive energy. Not sure I have that t-shirt, but sadly did find recently the Raybeez memorial show t-shirt from CBs. I happened to be in town that weekend for that after I had moved away. The biggest challenge for interviews with some of the big talkers was keeping them on track talking about their music and getting to play tracks without running out of time.

CTM – 02 Supertouch played live on St. Patricks Day (03.17.1988.), the same day Murphy’s Law did a radioset. This live set has inspired an entire genre of bands playing hardcore today. Some of the tracks like “Strugglin’ To Communicate” and “A Death In the Family” were never recorded outside of the WNYU Studio. Any memories from this session?

DJ Spermicide – I do remember it sounding great. I didn’t realize that was the only time those were recorded. There was a record label at one point interested in putting out some of the live sets on vinyl and calling it the Sperm Sessions. I gave them the material, but it never happened, unfortunately. Looks like a lot of the live sets are up on Youtube or other sites, which is great.

CTM – 03 What are your memories of the Straight Ahead interview? They were known as a straight edge band, but the members labeled their band as a “unity band” in your Crucial Chaos interview. How did you interpret this response?

DJ Spermicide – I knew those guys pretty well. At the time there were so many micro-labels dividing the hardcore scene—skinhead, straight edge, peace punks. I think some of the divisions were causing schism in the scene, so the term unity band was in my opinion meant to distance Straight Ahead from all that. I also think some bands were taking the labels too seriously and all the rigid restrictions implied by being straight edge would be hard to uphold.

CTM – 04 One famous radio event was the Born Against versus Sick Of It All debate in 1990. How did/do you feel about the bands releasing records on larger labels? What are your memories about this debate?

DJ Spermicide – Ahhhh. The Debate. Yes, I remember that well. I remember it was more like being a referee than an interviewer, especially with the size of the studio and everyone crammed in there. I think I was on the other side of the glass if I remember correctly. I really didn’t really have a problem with bands signing to larger labels if the music stayed the same, which was the case with Sick of It All. Back then there was a fine line of bands just trying to get more exposure and bands selling out. Look how that all turned out. Sick of It All is still touring like crazy and bringing the NYHC scene to the world. I just saw their 30th anniversary show. They somehow found a way to make the music their life’s work without having to tone down their sound or make it more generic. Seems like such an ancient problem. Now the only way bands make money is from touring and selling their merch at shows.

CTM – What was your toughest interview and why? What were your funniest interviews and why?

DJ Spermicide – The toughest ones were always with the young bands just coming out who sometimes didn’t have much to say. I would mostly try to promote their shows in that case. Funniest, probably some of the characters like Murphy’s Law, Raybeez, oh and the Nihilistics who I was just trying to make sure didn’t curse on-air the whole interview. I had GBH up live once. They were pretty hilarious to be around.

CTM – I feel that most of your interviews are classics too, there are some choice quotes in there. Did you listen to your own shows after they aired? “White power, black power, yellow power….take a shower!”, “Everybody mosh it up, break everything in your house!”, “Public Enemy is just as bad as Skrewdriver.” What are some of your favourites?

DJ Spermicide – Sometimes I listened to the shows. Been so long I would have to listen back.

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CTM – Bands were incredibly exciting to play on the radio. Why didn’t these bands like Youth Of Today (only interview), BOLD, Raw Deal, Straight Ahead (only interview) etc. play a live set in the studio?

DJ Spermicide – I’m sure we asked at least some of those bands to play but it wasn’t always easy to coordinate. Also, at the beginning, we weren’t really set up that well for the live sets. But once that became a popular part of the show our amazing sound engineer got the sets to sound great.

CTM – Why did you quit WNYU? I heard that you went and lived in Australia…

DJ Spermicide – A few reasons. Yes, I left to live in Australia for a year, but also there was a rule that to be on the radio station you had to be enrolled as a student. I had been in grad school, but my time was running out and it was expensive to keep registering for even a credit or two just to stay at the station. I hosted a few guest shows after I got back from Australia in ’91 and ’92 but moved to San Francisco in 1993. The first time I ever spoke on KUSF, which was just to announce some ticket giveaway at around midnight on someone else’s show, someone called and recognized my voice—said he had taped my interview with the Adolescents. Then I kept having New York transplants calling to ask if it was me and I ended up using the name Spermicide since there were a lot of listeners who already knew me from my WNYU days.

A7 / A hardcore-fanatic’s guide – Part II.

Pics by Jessica Bard, The New York Hardcore Chronicles, Phil In Phlash.

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Before A7 was A7, it was a social club for old Polish people. This tiny space opened on the south east corner of Avenue A and East Seventh Street in 1980, it was a heavy Puerto Rican neighborhood and those guys were heavily territorial. The after-hours club became a ground zero between 1981 and 1984 for the burgeoning hardcore scene, when Dave Gibson (owner of A7) started to organize hardcore bands. The club operated without a liquor license and was often raided by police.

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Bands played from 1 am to sunrise for an underaged crowd, and the club was staffed by members of the NYHC scene, on a good night, Raybeez was doorman, Doug Holland bartened, and Jimmy Gestapo deejayed. Sometimes 8 or 10 bands played for 3 bucks, and there was a sheet of paper tacked on the wall with the names of all the bands playing that night. There was a couch in there and the room couldn’t have held more than 30 kids, many just listened on the sidewalk outside next to the building wall. There was already a reggae scene going on at A7 at the time, and jazz bands played there too. The space is now the back room of a bar called Niagra, part-owned by scene veteran Jesse Malin (Heart Attack). As you go into Niagara’s backroom you notice on the wall a plaque that reads: “A7 1980-1984, pioneers of American hardcore and the birthplace of NYHC”.

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– A7 is the place where The Abused played their first gig, and Kevin Crowley (singer of The Abused) used to give haircuts to people in the bathroom.
– A7 is the place where hardcore kids were getting into a lot of fights bruising their hands up too much, so they started to wearing construction gloves to protect their hands.
– A7 is the place where Gilligan’s Revenge (pre-Token Entry) played their first show with Kraut on November 12th, 1982. Johnny Steigerwald was the oldest member in the band, he was 16 at that time.
– A7 is the place where SS Decontrol showed up with ski masks.
– A7 is the place where The Young And The Useless played horrible hardcore covers like “Grease” and “Billy, don’t be a hero”.

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– A7 is the place where the bathroom had no lock on the door so you had to pee expecting some unwanted visitors. If you had to take a dump, you’d better not had been shy.
– A7 is the place where a spray-painted message was written right over the side door, “Out of town bands remember where you are!”.
– A7 is the place where one of the best footage ever created in the history of hardcore. The video starts out with two songs by the Psycho’s, features Roger Miret on bass and Jimmy Gestapo of Murphy’s Law on vocals for the first song. Both songs are Void covers (“Who Are You” and “Time to Die” is the second track). After that, Jimmy Gestapo introduces the band and after a few minutes of tuning up, Agnostic Front do the song “United Blood”. Dave Jones of Mental Abuse on drums, Todd Youth on bass, Stigma on guitar, Roger vocals.

– A7 is the place where Future Confusion (pre-Death Before Dishonor) gave their first show in 1981.
– A7 is the place where Roger Miret played with three different bands (Rat Poison Band(pre-Warzone), The Psychos, Agnostic Front) on the same night in November 12th, 1983.

(Originally released in Chiller Than Most fanzine, issue 5.)

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The High And The Mighty at A7, 1983
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“Tony T-shirt” singer of Ultraviolence moshing at the A7, SS Decontrol on stage.
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The Psychos at A7, 1983.
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Agnostic Front at A7.