“My intention with this is just to write about some of the music I like, in a format that can be shared as easy as possible.
There will be some physical copies available for anyone who likes the feeling of cheap photocopy paper as much as me. These are essentially free for anyone in the UK who wants one, all I ask is, if you can, consider throwing a couple of quid at Boom in Leeds via the link below and email me at email@example.com and i’ll get you one sent out. Now that the road map to the end of this pandemic has been set out, it’s more important than ever that we have these spaces to go back to and Boom have continued to do incredible work over the past 12 months to prove what a force this community is.
I’m trying to do these bi-monthly and add some more content as I go.
“So, the next issue is here. Improved in some respects, but still the same shite copy paper. Don’t buy in bulk kids. Less pixelated this time round and with a firmer grasp of the English language though. Silver linings.
As always, please feel free to share this however you wish. The whole point of this is getting new music out to people within this community.
There are some physical copies available, so as with the last issue, please consider donating anything you can to @boom.leeds and drop me an email and I’ll get one over to you. Alternatively, pick something up from @totallyboomstore. Officially licensed Negative Approach and Infest shirts keeps you safe from John Brandon or Joe Denunzio giving you a slap around the chops next time they come through.
Don’t forget to tell the world that “Punishment Park” was released one year ago yesterday. While some hardcore records lose their luster over time, this one remains stunning. It’s a modern classic. I did this Big Cheese interview with Tom in 2018, it was originally released in Chiller Than Most fanzine. Pics by Spencer Borealis, Matt Gabell, Pali, Roman Laris, Natalie Wood, Andrey. https://bigcheesehc.bandcamp.com/
CTM – Yo! How do you remember Big Cheese coming together, and what would you say was the driving force behind the creation of the band? Tom – Ey up. I was and still am singing in a band called True Vision. My band mate, best mate and love of my life Maegan had recently moved in with me in Armley, a bleak suburb of Leeds where we lived with Andy Jones of The Flex fame and Sky. Maegan had written a bunch of songs that summer and said she think I’d sound good singing on them. We then asked Alex and Louis from Higher Power to join us at practice and Big Cheese became.
CTM – Rest In Pieces definitely seems to be one of the main influences for the band, but I think The Icemen had a larger influence on you when you were writing these riffs. It is very important to note the difference between being influenced and directly copying. Writing the “Sports Day Demo” and “Aggravated Mopery”, what were some of your major influences? What was the inital plan, like “we are gonna do this band influnced by …”. Tom – Rest In Pieces was most definitely a big influence on the demo, including a lot of other stuff like Fit Of Anger, Life’s Blood and then incorporating the d-beats from Cro-Mags etc. We started writing Icemen style Ozzy Osbourne riffs and more metallic stuff akin to Crumbsuckers later on when writing the 7”. When anybody asked, I think we’d just say we started a band like Cro-Mags haha.
CTM – You released the 7 inch last September (2017), it has been out long enough. What were people’s reactions to it? How do you feel about the responses you have been getting? What was the funniest reaction? What is one review or criticism you are most proud of? Tom – Genuinely, I can’t say I’ve read or heard much criticism with regards to the 7” which is honestly surprising to me, especially in this day in age. Adam Malik of The Essence Records said he thought our name sucked but ya can’t please everybody. Andrew, Atko, Nicky, Ola, Don Fury and the rest of the band did an amazing job on the record and we’re all proud of it. I’m grateful for the positive reception and opportunities we’ve received subsequently. Funniest reaction is ‘what the fuck does Aggravated Mopery mean?’ They’ll learn. I’m infinitely proud of every bit of feedback we get.
CTM – You are in a couple other bands, how is Big Cheese different from your other bands? Is there something unique about Big Cheese that you weren’t able to do with other bands? Tom – Big Cheese feels different to other bands we might play in as it seems there’s something in it for someone from any walk of life; as opposed to being quite aggregated or fitting into a box. It seems to speak to punks, metalheads, skinheads, skaters, whoeverheads. I like that. It’s almost unifying.
CTM – The song called “TCP” is like an apocalyptic picture, dealing with how humanity as a whole is destroying the planet. Most of the people realize this, but some of our leaders don’t seem to have the courage to do much about it or against big business. What do you think about this topic? Tom – I spent a lot of time writing the lyrics for TCP after we’d come up with the main frame of the song. I guess at the time I was trying to paint a picture of where we were living at the time, without being overly poetic. You can feel every aspect of life being sucked out of the neglected areas where money isn’t being pumped into anymore, where industry has died and the people there just seem to wilt until they’re nothing. The government don’t care, never have and never will and it certainly won’t be long until there’s nothing left, apart from a cockroach and the Aggravated Mopery 7”.
CTM – “Pass the buck.” Can you go more in-depth about the meaning of this song and what it means to you? Tom – “Pass The Buck” is a funny one. I’d gotten into some stuff with my job at the time and was wrongly accused of something I hadn’t done and was subsequently suspended. I guess the song projected my anger towards big corporations and the notion of being disposable. It’s a dog eat dog world.
CTM – How did you came up with the idea to record the M13 cover song? Tom – My good friend Edo Zavarella sent me a ton of stuff hidden in the corners of the worldwide web, like Emanon, ESG and Enuf and also included the M13 demo that I’d not heard up until that point. I just thought it was a good homage to the bands and sounds that have influenced us and sounded cool incorporating it into the title track, Aggravated Mopery.
CTM – The design Andy Fletcher and Nicky Rat made for you is one of the sickest illustrations I have ever seen. How important is the aesthetic side of the band to you? How important is the layout, imagery and packaging for Big Cheese? Tom – I love the artwork and the aesthetic we slowly came into. I think it took us a while to know exactly what we wanted to go for but the collaboration between Andrew Fletcher and Nicky Rat’s work is second to none. I think that aesthetic is particularly important in shaping the way people respond to a band but it should never overshadow the music or become a fashion statement. I’m really happy with what we’ve got going on right now. We slap Nicky’s logo on everything.
CTM – I really love your mafia concept artworks and the continuation of the “Sports Day” artwork for “Aggravated Mopery”. Every time I see the cover of your record, it reminds me of Stephen Graham haha! He played the notorious gangster Al Capone in Boardwalk Empire. What are your favourite movies in this realm and why? Tom – I’m obsessed with all things mafia and the mafioso idea for the artwork just felt right. Especially with the name Big Cheese. Admittedly, I haven’t seen beyond the first episode of Boardwalk Empire but I love Godfather, Goodfellas, Once Upon A Time In America, A Bronx Tale, obviously The Sopranos. I couldn’t tell you exactly why I love those things but the satirical elements and underlying humour intertwined with violence and dark subject matter makes for great entertainment. Noir has gotta be my favourite genre of film.
CTM – Who is the big cheese in the band and why? Tom – I think I’ve become accustomed to being the Big Cheese in the band, front persons usually do. I like steering the vehicle.
CTM – A few weeks ago the band released this biblical “NWOBHC FM” session on tape. The set mixes up songs from your 2016 Sports Day Demo and 2017’s Aggravated Mopery 7″. How did you came up with the idea of playing a live radio session? Tom – Ola from QCHQ asked us if we wanted to do a radio show and live set when we were in London just after New Year. We were there for our record release show and did both in one weekend.
CTM – 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 this “NWOBHC FM” set? Tom – I’m exactly the same, listening to a band live and especially a hardcore band conveys the energy you expect and grow to love from live shows. We were tucked away in a freezing cold warehouse in a tiny sound proof room. It was no bigger than a broom cupboard with a set of drums in. I couldn’t actually hear myself back when singing so shot out my voice pretty badly. It was a sick experience nonetheless and we’re all happy with how it came out! Even if a little embarrassed of the interview haha. When pressing the tape, we decided to put the demo originally dubbed to 50 on the B side which gave people an opportunity to own a physical copy of that too.
CTM – Your session was the first episode of the “NWOBHC FM” series. There is a clear parallel between the WNYU’s Crucial Chaos and the “New Wave of British Hardcore FM”. What are your favourite WNYU radio sets and why? Tom – The Outburst and Side By Side one. Just captures perfectly the essence of both bands. Both hard as fuck and keeps that spirit alive.
CTM – You are wearing a “United Blood” tee on the cover of “Live on NWOBHC FM” cassette. When the band released “United Blood”, they started using the term “hardcore” because they wanted to separate AF from the druggy and artsy punk scene. Content, lyrics and message wise why do you think this record is exponentially important? Tom – United Blood is obviously one of the four greatest 7”s that came out of NYC in 1983 and probably laid the foundation for NYHC as everybody knows it today. “We’re fighting in the streets, trying to be free. They say the regime will save us all. It’s anti-social and gonna fall”. Still relevant. “You think you’ve got everything, but really you’ve got nothing”. Need I say more? Sound wise, there’s no contest. It’s sloppy as hell but it’s raw and you wouldn’t want it any other way. It’s a product of the time but still bears a lot of relevance to society today. Antidote- Thou Shalt Not Kill is still my no. 1 though.
CTM – What makes a hardcore guitarist good in your opinion? What guitarist in UK hardcore today has the best moves? Tom – Guitarists with all the gear and no idea are a turn off for me. I think the ability to play fast and hard is a must. If you can shred it’s definitely a bonus. Rhythm is key. I’d have to say Louis. He’s got a sick stage style. Foxy in The Flex too. CP cap over the eyes and destroying a Charvel.
CTM – If Big Cheese needed a third guitarist, would the band consider bringing Dave Murray or Rob Echeverria in? Tom – Rob Echeverria no doubt. His solos are insane, especially in Straight Ahead. A real deal hard rock guitarist and wears a vest or is shirtless at all times. He also played in Helmet for a while and there’s a vid on YouTube of that somewhere which is sick.
CTM – If Big Cheese could play a bill with British bands from the 70s and 80s, which bands would be on the bill? Tom – Stiff Little Fingers, Motörhead, GBH, Ultraviolent, Slaughter Of The Dogs.
CTM – Thanks for your time. Any closing thoughts, shout outs or words of encouragement? Tom – Thanks for taking the time to interview me and for the interesting questions. Keep spreading the gospel and shout out NWOBHC for keeping the punk in hardcore. See you in Europe this summer with NYHC’s Illusion. Oosh.
Rated X interview was originally published in Do You Know Hardcore? fanzine, issue 2.
DYKHC – Yo! Hows your edge, and are you going to wear construction gloves at your first gig?
The edge is sharper than ever, and as for the gloves, if it was good enough for Kevin Crowley then it’s good enough for Sergeant X.
DYKHC – Rated X is your solo band. Every straight edge band needs a member to be kicked out for breaking edge. What was the motivation for starting the band without other members?
I’ve actually don’t think I’ve ever been in a band where we have had a member break edge…no, wait, Ben from Payday broke edge right when we finished writing most of the LP stuff. Oh, and Cal from True Vision and Regiment. Fuck sake. I dunno what you mean about solo band though, we’ve got T-Crucial on the crunch, Ol’ Cease from across the pond shredding the leads, psycho skin Rito on bass and big bad Bombham holding it down on the drums! And of course your boy Sergeant X on the mic.
DYKHC – Project X and Judge were a reactionary thing, it was something to make people know that straight edge is still around. When No Tolerance started it was a reactionary thing too, they were putting Boston straight edge back on the map with speed and anger. How was that with your band? Did you have any sort of blueprint for how you wanted Rated X to run, based on other bands or anything like that?
Oh, totally. Straight edge is in the fucking toilet right now. It needs a good hard kick up the arse, and we’ve got the Jordans to do it. I’m genuinely scared that the biggest representation of straight edge out there right now is some weird IG account full of XVX shit and hippies that don’t even listen to hardcore. I don’t give a shit about some whopper who pretends to be Wolverine, or some christcore muppet with oreos in their ears. Straight edge is about fast music, hard mosh parts and X’d up lunatics busting head-first through walls and shit. People are always trying to attach some mad shit to straight edge. Being vegan is great. I’m a fence walking shitty vegetarian myself. But that doesn’t mean it needs to be anything to do with straight edge. Like, I love playing video games, but I’m not XGAMEREDGEX, I’m just a guy that fucking plays video games, who is also straight edge. Don’t even get me started on all that hardline, pro-life and anti-sex shit. Anyway, I digress. Rated X is absolutely reactionary. It’s a reaction to the state of straight edge hardcore, and the sound of hardcore today. There’s plenty of great bands doing great shit at the moment, but most bands are either on the heavier side or the ‘weird outsider’ tip. Or straight up crap. Which is cool, but that classic meat-and-potatoes hard & fast shit is what we love. Shout out to the young bloods out there doing the biz!
DYKHC – How would you describe the evolution of the band musically from the first demo to this new LP? Rated X reminds me a lot of The Abused in certain ways, and I feel that you wanted to add in some rocked out things (like the beginning of “Watch Out”) into your new songs.
There’s not much in the way of evolution at all to be honest. If anything, it’s devolution. Half the songs on the LP were actually written years before the demo and has been demo’d a million times over the last five years. There’s a few riffs that were used by this band I played guitar for called Standpoint a few years ago. We only ever did a demo and played a few shows, and I’d been holding onto those songs for too long to let ‘em go to waste, so they got the RX treatment. The recording that became the RX demo was only supposed to be an ideas session for some other project, but I liked the recording so much we just went with it. The Abused is definitely our number one influence, I like to think that one is pretty obvious. Negative Approach, early Agnostic Front, Straight Ahead, early YOT and Uniform Choice are in there somewhere too. Also, hard rock is in our blood, so I’m glad it’s shining through!
DYKHC – Some say they don’t want to write songs about edge, because it’s been done a million times. What’s your opinion?
Straight edge is fucking boss and is more relevant than ever. Three chords and mosh parts has been done a million times too. But hey, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
DYKHC – Could you let us know what the following songs are about and the source from which your lyrical inspiration is derived? “No”, “Rather Walk Alone”, “You’re Next”.
Ok, let’s see….‘No’ is a not-too-subtle nod to No For An Answer. I don’t know too many people who rate NFAA, which I find odd, cause that 7” is hard! It’s a straight forward straight edge ballad about not giving in to peer pressure. If don’t wanna drink or do drugs, just don’t. If your mates ignore you cause you’re not getting hammered with them, then they aren’t really your mates.
‘Rather Walk Alone’ is actually about Everton Football Club. The first song by a straight edge band about Association Football? Answers on a postcard please. Being from the blue half of Merseyside, we are constantly in the shadow of Liverpool FC. Their motto is “you’ll never walk alone”, so you can figure that one out for yourself haha. It can also be frustrating as fuck supporting such an inconsistent team, but no matter how many times in my life I’ve tried to ignore football, Everton always brings me back. This is our year anyway, I can feel it!
‘You’re Next’ is about a British phenomenon called Gammon. I’m sure every country has their own version, but our Gammon are outraged, conservative, middle-aged, straight white males, who read all the bullshit newspapers and get so pissed off at everything that their faces are constantly pink. They think refugees are stealing their jobs and living in palaces for free, are terrified of the LGBTQ+ gang, hate vegetarians, support All Lives Matter, hate the EU, and generally think that they are the most persecuted people on earth because they “can’t say anything anymore”. They can get fucked. I name drop Piers Morgan cause he’s their poster boy. You might have fooled a few people during lockdown mate, but you won’t fool the Sarge.
DYKHC – One topic Rated X (and Violent Reaction) has never written about that needs to be addressed?
I don’t know actually. Part of me thinks that there is probably a lot I could and should talk about more openly in lyrics, especially considering the eye-opening events of this year. But another part of me thinks that our straight edge and left wing stance is pretty clear, so I’ll let the 45 second songs do the talking. We’re just a band and I’m just a dumb white guy. I’d rather leave that space for those who need it.
DYKHC – If you could have any singer from the early 80s do guest vocals on the LP who would it be (and why)?
This is a difficult one. To quote DFJ, “everyone from the 80s is terrible”. Being such an overt straight edge band, it’d have to be Ian. No one can even pose like Minor Threat isn’t the GOAT. Who else is even still straight edge?? Smalley might be, but he’s some conservative gimp now. Yo if Kevin Crowley is still drug free (middle aged) youth, then him. Sickest vox!
DYKHC – Make You Break, Firing Line, Here Today are exclusive songs to the promo tape, these songs are not on the album. Why?
We just wanted to have some exclusive trax on the tape, and we had enough songs to spare so why not? It makes getting the tape a bit more worth it in my eyes. Maybe they will pop up again on another record one day.
DYKHC – The promo cassette has six covers (Ripcord, NFAA, Posion Idea, The Fix, SOA, Crucifix), why did you choose these bands? Poison Idea is definitely about as far away from straight edge as you can get haha!
We chose those bands because those bands fucking rock. Yeah I’m a straight edge guy with a fade, an X-Swatch and Air Jordans, but that doesn’t mean we sit around just listening to YOT all day every day. The Ripcord intro sounds like it could be on an ‘87 NYHC demo. That NFAA song is their best and hardest tune, the slow riff makes me wanna skank it up. Poison Idea is one of my all time favourites, and I think Pick Your King might even bang harder than the Minor Threat 7”, come at me. The riff in that song is so similar to AF, YOT, MT riffs etc and has a sick mosh part. Also, it’s about self abuse so kinda fits the edge vibe when we do it! The Fix, incredible song and incredible band. Makes me wanna headbutt the wall. SOA is in my top 5 7”s of all time I reckon, tough as shit, also early DC proto-edge. And as for Crucifix, that LP is infuckingcredible and that’s my favourite song on it. You can hear so much on that record that later influenced Agnostic Front and Youth Of Today etc.
DYKHC – Is hardcore music cyclical?
I think so yeah. It’s like a cycle of reactionary scenes. I’m hoping we get another explosion of bread & butter hardcore in response to all the metalcore, nu-metal and alt rock stuff that seems to have a grip on hardcore these days. It makes me feel so old that kids regard early 2000s style as retro now. People are rocking bowling shirts and backing Slipknot, what’s next? Yo-yo tricks? Rollerblading??
DYKHC – Most edge thing you have ever done?
Spent a New Year’s Eve on my own watching the first season of The Fresh Prince Of Bel Air, eating pizza and drinking Vanilla Coke. On a side note, since switching to sugar free drinks, Pepsi Max is now king. Face up to it.
DYKHC – Comment on these please! – “If I put an X on my hand we would have twice as many people at our shows just because we are straight edge.”
I don’t know who said this, but what I wanna know what dimension they’re living in, and how I can get there.
DYKHC – “90% of straight edge and youth crew hardcore is terrible boy scout, pledge of allegiance, popcorn selling, safe sounding “hardcore” that revolves around merch.”
I’m pretty sure a friend of mine from DC said this in my zine haha. I’m not sure of the accuracy of the stats, but she could well be right on the ‘terrible’ front. If you listen to the first two YOT records (let’s be honest, we don’t need the other two), that shit is hard! A lot of more modern youth crew takes its cues from softer stuff like GB, Chain and In My Eyes. When the youth crew sound is done well, there is no denying it’s sick as fuck. Please see Step Forward or Loud And Clear for examples. I’d say straight edge was overpopulated by low quality chugging self righteous XVX type shit more than anything though. Half of them turn out to be pedos too. Anyway, merch rocks. Just try and convince me that the Uniform Choice four-siders aren’t the greatest shirt design of all time.
DYKHC – In theory, Brexit will be a reality soon. And if that wasn’t enough, the boot of pandemic crisis is standing on our necks. Any profound political or social viewpoints you wish to share? What will Brexit mean for the hardcore (underground) music? How will pandemic change our music culture? I can only hope that underground music, in all its cultural variety and outward-looking ambition, can survive whatever comes next.
As far as Brexit goes, although we had a song about it on the demo, I think my good pal Port Daddy explained it the best; “Brexit is like being annoyed you can’t get your dick out in public. Not because you want to get your dick out, but because you’d like to have the choice to be able to get your dick out. So your solution is locking yourself in a room by yourself, because even though you don’t want to get your dick out, at least you always have the choice to”. Maybe it’s because I’m from a traditionally left wing part of the country, but I just struggle to get my head around these things sometimes. I think there is also a huge generational and cultural divide too. I feel so distant from my ‘fellow Brits’ who want to leave the EU, don’t believe in Covid, think Britain isn’t racist, and say things like “all lives matter” and “why can’t we have straight pride”. Merseyside needs to secede from the UK. In an ideal world, Ireland would take us in as the 33rd county. Ireland has its own problems, sure, but they never invaded or conquered another country. Solid craic.
DYKHC – I know you love punishing yourself with impossible and pointless decision-making lists too. I really like your “bleh” yelling in the end of the song called “NSEDFY”! “The “bleeeh”, the hardcore battle cry, the pre-mosh call out, the yell of excitement. What do you do if you don’t know the lyrics? Get up on stage anyway, grab the mic and just yell Bleh! BLEEEH!” (Something about the Bleh! article by Boothaeven’s zine) What are your top3 favorite “bleeeh” on hardcore records/tapes and why?
As much as I do love punishing list-making, I’m afraid there is only one true BLEHHH, and that is the one spat by 14 year old Frederick!
DYKHC – Read somewhere in a review that my interview questions are always awful. So thanks for your time and your answers! One last thing, I just showed The Flex drum-cam video to my mom. She said she will re-evaluate everything about music, you are better than Ringo Starr and John Bonham. Peace!
Your questions are always the best mate, but mum must be crazy! I mean, my dog Dougal is better than Ringo, fuck Ringo. But no one beats Bonham!!! X up, mask up, and listen to Cactus. Sinabit.
Free physical copies are available via Quality Control Records (UK), Shining Life (USA), Gratitude fanzine (USA), Control Records (Belgium), Little Future distro (Germany), Gutter Groove (Denmark), Ugly And Proud (Bulgaria), World’s Appreciated Kitsch (Greece).
Or feel free to write me at meheszattila(at)yahoo(com), and I will send you the PDF version.
Do You Know Hardcore #2 (Rated X)
Do You Know Hardcore #2.5 (special fanzine swap issue)
Do You Know Hardcore #3 (Freddy Alva)
Issue two is about the Rated X from the UK. Project X and Judge were a reactionary thing, it was something to make people know that straight edge is still around. When No Tolerance started it was a reactionary thing too, they were putting Boston straight edge back on the map with speed and anger. Rated X is absolutely reactionary too, it’s a reaction to the state of straight edge hardcore, and the sound of hardcore today. Straight edge is in the fucking toilet right now. It needs a good hard kick up the arse, but Rated X have got the Jordans to do it. https://ratedx.bandcamp.com/
DYKHC issue 3 with Freddy Alva: 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 outside of that earlier NYC formula. The tape is chock full of classic NYHC, featuring influential hardcore groups such as Breakdown, Raw Deal, Beyond, Abombanation, Pressure Release, Our Gang. In the third issue of DYKHC we are talking about his fanzine editing experiences (FTW fanzine, New Breed fanzine) and the 80s zine culture. The first interview Freddy ever did was with Ray Cappo outside of the legendary Some Records in 1986 for his pre-New Breed fanzine called FTW. New Breed number one was done with Chris (In Effect fanzine), and working on this ‘zine inspired him to do his own thing and that became the legendary In Effect fanzine.
Feel free to download the FTW fanzine from my blog, and I will upload the first issue of New Breed ‘zine soon too! https://doyouknowhardcore.com/2020/10/15/ftw-fanzine/
DYKHC issue 1 – Contra
In the first issue of DYKHC, I made an interview with the Hungarian band called Contra. Contra is the bastard offspring of an early Agnostic Front / Contra (the video game) one-night stand. I really love their song “Rat Race”, it is about modern people who use scales to rank themselves. What do you wear, where do you work, where do you hang out, how do you present yourself on social media. Many people do certain things just to show off. It’s bullshit and at the same time everyone has a very strong opinion that what they do is universally the best which leaves no room for any discussion. You can download the first issue of DYKHC here: https://doyouknowhardcore.com/2020/05/07/dykhc-01-contra/ https://contrahardcore.bandcamp.com/album/collective-unconscious
– An in-depth analysis of the history of Agnostic Front, interview with Spoiler (Stigmatism, Omegas, Justice, United Stance etc.)
– Interviews with Unified Right, Outburst, Freedom, Hypocrite, Big Cheese, Meline Gharibyan, Motor City Madness.
Cut’n’paste fanzine, A4 size, 28 pages. Cover art by Chun One.