This interview is originally published in Not For The Weak! fanzine, issue 2.
The New York Times:
“Bad Brains, a reggae and hardcore rock group, is to appear tonight at the Ritz, 11th Street between Third and Fourth Avenues (254-2800). Tickets are $13.50; the show is at 12:30.”
Murphy’s Law at the Ritz, NYC 5.27.1988. Photo by BJ Papas.
Show review by Yes Zista fanzine (issue one)
Show review by In Effect fanzine (issue one)
It was originally released in Chiller Than Most fanzine, issue 4.
Chris Wynne runs the In Effect Hardcore website which grew out of his old fanzine called In Effect. The fanzine started in 1988 and although was not a continuous effort ran from 1988 to 1999 and had 12 issues total.
What are your memories of this classic radio program?
Chris: My memories of this show come in two waves. When I first found out about Crucial Chaos it was hosted by Spermacide. Johnny Stiff was up there too but Spermacide’s voice is what I and probably most other guys remember from that era of the show. They helped me find so many new bands as well as out of state hardcore bands and punk bands that I probably would never have heard of. The show would come on at 9pm and from 10pm till 1030pm they would almost always have a live band play before the show ended at 1030pm. I was a total fan boy and would sit there at home listening for the first hour and then have a blank cassette tape ready to record whatever band it was that would come on to play live on the air at 10pm. The second wave for me was a more in person experience as going to the WNYU studio in Manhattan at the time was something me and a bunch of my friends liked to do. This era was hosted by Rachel Rosen (who would later go on to play in Indecision) and Dave. I don’t know Dave’s last name but they all called him Kentucky Dave. I assume it was because he had a raggedy type of beard and not that he was actually from Kentucky but what do I know? Glen from Billy Club Sandwich and No Redeeming Social Value was a big part of this era as well doing the soundboard. A great dude who I am glad to say is still a big part of the scene in NY.
Chris Wynne (left) and Grandpa Nick, Fit Of Anger (right) late 1980’s in the subway going to a show.
So when we started going to the studio at WNYU it wasn’t like we had a problem getting in. The studio was in a big building and part of a college so they had a security guard at the front door and at first you would just walk in and get in the elevator and go up to whatever floor the show was on. Once you were in that elevator you were good because you could be going to any floor of this big building. As time went on I guess they thought there were too many kids who didn’t go to this college coming in on their property so they started telling us to show ID that we went to school there. It became almost comical on how we would get in to the studio. Some people would distract the guard while some snuck in and if memory serves me right on at least a few occasions I would not wear like camouflage pants or an exposed band shirt to try and look more like a student. I don’t think there was ever a time where I didn’t get in but it was challenging at times.
There was this one time when Fit Of Anger played on the air. The live sets were always from 10pm till 1030pm and around 1020pm or later the people from the next show would come in and start setting up. At the time Fit Of Anger played there was a hip-hop show that followed Crucial Chaos and on this particular night this group called Royal Flush caught the tail end of Fit Of Anger’s set and when they were coming out of the studio it was pretty cool and also funny to see Royal Flush sweat Fit Of Anger saying “that’s the dope shit right there son” and things along those lines. I remember them saying the word DOPE a bunch of times. They only caught maybe 10 minutes of their set but they were really excited and everyone took pictures afterwards. The two bands never connected again after that though.
Favorite Crucial Chaos sets:
Chris: Supertouch doing it live on WNYU… Saint Patricks Day… Climbing Aboard! I think this was March 17th, 1988. A lot of people loved Supertouch but to me their recordings were average at best. With this set they came out playing with such intensity. The drumming on this was incredible. You could just feel the energy during their instrumental intro coming through the speakers and to this day if that intro comes on shuffle on my i-Pod I start punching things. I do believe that on this same set that they handed off their instruments to Murphy’s Law who played for about 10 minutes before the show went off the air. They were very strict with the 1030pm end time as there was another show on right after them. For years I went without having this set and would ask a lot of people if they had it and luckily I found it a few years back.
Pics by Robin Graubard, KT Tobin, Peter LeVasseur, Ray’s Candy Store.
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.
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.
– 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.
– 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.
– 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.
(This article was originally released in Chiller Than Most fanzine, issue 5.)
WNYU’s Crucial Chaos (WNYU-FM (89.1 FM) is a college radio station owned and operated by New York University) was really popular in the ’80s and the radio show left a huge impact on the hardcore scene. It was so influential that kids would run to Some Records to buy the records that were played the night before on air. A lot of musicians mentioned how important it was for them to play on Crucial Chaos. In those years every hardcore kid in NYC would tape the whole show to catch up on new releases, listen for gig announcements, ticket giveaways, interviews, not to mention the live sets that everyone anxiously waited for and hit the record button. Crucial Chaos (hosted by DJ Spermicide) has had many classic NYHC bands on air such as Supertouch, Breakdown, Our Gang, Underdog, Token Entry, Warzone, Fit of Anger, Beyond etc.
DJ Spermicide (Marlene): “Some Records for a while was one of the sponsors of Crucial Chaos, meaning they would give us records in exchange for an air mention. It was a great place for smaller bands to get noticed and for everyone to mingle.” (New york Hardcore 1986-1993, by David Koenig)