The Last Of A Dying Breed – The Definitive Tim Mcmahon Interview. Part Three: Face The Enemy – Triple Threat.

By: Ed

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In this third and final part, Tim talks about his two other bands; Face The Enemy and Triple Threat. We also touched on skateboarding, Straight Edge and other topics.

DR: When I think of long term edge men, I think of you instantly. What’s it all about for you, and how do you think the Straight Edge is these days?

TM:-  Honestly, for me, Straight Edge is about common sense and self-preserveration. I have zero interest in deliberately destroying my health and taking years off of my life, it simply doesn’t appeal to me. Smoking, doing drugs, drinking alcohol, all those things ultimately do is bring forth deterioration and ultimately destruction of life. Some people need a crutch to enjoy themselves, a cigarette to ease the nerves, a beer to take the edge off and help with their social skills, a puff of weed to relax, but I’ve just never needed or wanted any of that. Maybe because I found things like skateboarding and hardcore at such a young age, I used them as my release and I’ve never looked back.


But again, all of that I just look at as common sense. Straight Edge is really more than just not drinking, doing drugs and smoking to me. For me personally, Straight Edge is about being a part of the hardcore scene, going to shows, supporting bands, it’s just another aspect of my lifestyle that makes up the whole picture. I still enjoy buying records, pulling out the lyric sheets, studying the photos, taking in the lyrics. All of that takes me back to when I first got into Straight Edge, started looking deeper into the music, digging out the message and looking at it as more than just entertainment.

For me it all just stuck, It was never a trend or phase, I found something, it was timeless, it was real and it greatly impacted my life and like I said before, I never looked back.

Generally speaking, Straight Edge is today as it was 34 years ago when Minor Threat coined the term / wrote the song. Some people may have twisted and distorted the meaning and tried to model it into their own diluted impression, but at the end of the day, to me, it’s still the same simple concept. I pretty much just ignore what others are doing, because it has no effect on me.

Quite honestly, I think way too people spend too much time worrying about what others are doing and how others are representing Straight Edge and they let it affect their own feelings. There are always so many excuses, people have told me that they had to get out of Straight Edge because they thought it got too violent or had too many rules or didn’t like the bands anymore or thought the kids were jerks. Who cares what others are doing? I did’t get into Straight Edge for anyone but myself, so why should I let someone else influence me to not be Straight Edge? My thought has always been, if you don’t like how other people are representing something that you care about, you should then want to make damn sure you’re representing it the RIGHT way. At the end of the day, drugs, drinking and smoking are just as bad as they were when you swore them off and that’s the only thing that should matter.

I’d probably have more respect for people that got out of Straight Edge if they were honest and admitted, it was a trend for them and they just didn’t care anymore. I’d rather hear somebody tell me that they’re not Straight Edge anymore because they realized that they like the taste of beer too much than to hear them say, “Oh, it just got too violent for me and I can’t relate to these kids anymore”.

DR: You’re still an active skateboarder…  when did you start skateboarding and who were your biggest influences back then?

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TM: – I discovered skateboarding sometime in late 1984 / early 1985 and it was really a combination of three things that got me into it. First off, I was heavily into BMX and freestyling bikes for a few years. I would buy BMX Plus Magazine, but it wasn’t until I picked up a copy of Freestylin’ Magazine that I started seeing photos of skateboarders. Around this same time, my older cousin from Phoenix, Arizona had come out on a family trip and was all decked out in Vans and Jams shorts and talking to me about how he had a skateboard and how cool it was. Also shortly after the conversations with my cousin,  I started seeing this older kid in my neighborhood that had a Nash Executioner and would ride it up and down the hill in front of my house, he would also talk to me about how cool and fun it was. So all of these things combined, had me asking my parents for a skateboard for Christmas that year. Of course I asked for a Nash Executioner because at the time, it was coolest, readily available skateboard out there.

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So I indeed got the Nash Executioner that I had asked for and from there on out, things moved quickly. I skated constantly, learning how to do tick tacks, bomb drops / acid drops, bonelesses, all the starter tricks of the time. I loved skating, nothing was more fun to me than running out my front door and getting those wheels on cement. Growing up I was always sort of a quite, shy kid, so the idea of team sports and interaction with strangers didn’t appeal to me all that much. With a skateboard, I could hit the street, have a blast, challenge myself and get some sort of exercise, without joining a team and hanging out with a bunch of kids that I had nothing else in common with. In a sense, discovering skateboarding certainly didn’t help me open up, but I suppose there’s always a trade off.

Within a few months of having that Nash Executioner, I started buying Thrasher and Transworld Skateboard Magazine and started really learning about the scene of skateboarding. I started learning about all the different skateboard companies and professional skateboarders and I soon realized that my Toys R Us bought Nash Executioner wasn’t as cool as I thought it was. By my birthday, which came in May, I was asking my parents for a Vision Mark Gonzales and that’s about when I was exposed to a entirely new world. My skateboard shifted from being a “toy” to my identity. The whole process probably took about 6 months, but in retrospect, it felt like it was an overnight change.

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Around this time I was going from 6th grade and into 7th, which was Junior High. Junior High was also a whole new world for me, it was nothing at all like elementary school. You had all these different factions of kids that didn’t really exist in elementary school. There were metal heads, burn outs, jocks, preppies, punks, kids into rap, rich kids, poor kids, skateboarders, it goes on and on. Because I was just getting into skateboarding, I instantly identified with the skateboarding clique. I kept digging deeper, got a subscription to Thrasher, read it from cover to cover, started renting skateboard videos, it all completely consumed me.

I’d say my biggest early skateboarding influences were the Vision guys, Mark Gonzales and Gator and then of course the Powell Peralta guys, Tommy Guerrero and Steve Caballero. Between the Skatevisions video and the Powell Peratla “Future Primitive” video, I completely absorbed everything I saw and all of that shaped who I would become.

DR: I had a huge break from skateboarding with travelling and working abroad, but this past year I’ve taken it back up- although I did have a nasty accident (non skate related) meaning I have lost the use of a finger now, as well as having a bum knee, so I kind of had the fear for a while… but I’ve pushed through it (excuse the pun). Do you ever sketch out at the thought of stuff as you’re also an older dude?

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TM: – I’ve never been a particularly ballsy skateboarder, but at one point in my early days of skateboarding, I was riding down a super steep hill in my neighborhood, turned on to a street at the bottom of the hill, hit a patch of stones and gravel and went flying. I cracked my head open, went unconscious and got dragged to the sidewalk by a neighbor guy. I ended up getting a bunch of stitches in my head. Ever since that day, I’ve been a bit more cautious about my speed. Problem is, with skateboarding, speed is required when it comes to pulling off a majority of tricks, so that’s held me back to an extent. I’ve worked around it though and have mainly stuck to the tricks I’ve always been comfortable doing. I’m into grinds, rail slides, boneslesses, ollies to an extent, the simple stuff. Most of the time, I’m content just carving up my ramp or a ditch. Still, I do fall and it obviously hurts much worse than it did when I was 14, but like I said, I try to stick to what I’m comfortable with and for the most part, that’s worked for me.

DR: Who do you like in skateboarding these days?

TM: Skate parks in every town, that’s easily the best thing about skateboarding today. When I was skating in the 80’s and through out the 90’s, I had never stepped foot on a skate park, they simply didn’t exist anywhere around here back then. You had to seek out and create spots to skate back then. Today I can jump in my car and decide which of the 3 or 4 local skateparks I want to hit up. I also built a 3ft high, 24 ft wide mini ramp in my backyard, so I can hit that up anytime I want to as well.

DR: You follow sports right? Who are your teams and how are they doing this season?

TM: I do follow sports. Got into basketball a bit in the late 80’s, but heavily in the mid 90’s. My interest elevated when Michael Jordan came out of retirement in 1995 and I’ve been tuned in ever since. My girlfriend Traci (now wife) and I got season tickets for the Philadelphia 76ers in 1996, which was Allen Iverson’s rookie year. We kept those season ticket for 10 years and within those years, I took interest in the rest of the Philadelphia sports teams. Once to you pick a city and team you want to root for, I think it’s natural that you just continue rooting for all the other sports teams in that city. So yeah, I’m a diehard Philadelphia sports fan, the Eagles, Sixers, Phillies and Flyers are the teams I follow.

Right now the Sixers are doing terrible, I think they’re at 24 straight losses, but quite honestly, I fine with it. They’ve been stuck in NBA mediocracy for years and really the only way they are going to get better and be a possible contender is if they score a big name player in the draft. With this losing streak they’ve been on this year, there’s a good possibility of them getting the first or second pick in the 2014 NBA draft and that could change everything. We’ll see though, nothing is set in stone.

The Eagles had a surprisingly good 2013 season and I’m expecting them to build on that next season. The Eagles are easily the Philadelphia team wight he most upside and the one I’m most excited about. Not sure what to expect from the Phillies this upcoming season, my sights aren’t set too high though. As for the Flyers, they’re playing right now and they’ve been a team of ups and downs. They just came off a nice win streak and if they continue winning, they could get themselves into the play offs and once there, anything can happen.

DR: Back to music… How did Face The Enemy come about?

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TM:  In 2001 I wasn’t active with any bands, Mouthpiece had broken up and although we did a string of reunions in 2000, there weren’t any plans to do anything further at that time. Hands Tied was also broken up at that point and strictly in the rear view mirror. I had moved out of an apartment and back into my parent’s house briefly and really had nothing going.

One day I got a call from my friend Daniel from Sweden, Daniel had been a roadie for a ton of bands and had stints of playing in bands like Shelter and Better Than A Thousand. Daniel spent a lot of time in the United States and at one point he was in Washington D.C. working on a new band with Porcell and recording at Ken Olden from Battery / Better Than A Thousand’s studio. Better Than A Thousand had broken up, Ray Cappo had left the band, but before the band had broken up, they recorded a full album’s worth of songs for a third LP. The recording sat around for awhile, Ray had only recorded vocals for one of the tracks and it came up amongst Daniel and Ken that somehow or another, that unreleased Better Than A Thousand album should get a proper release. My name had come up as a vocalist, so Daniel and Ken gave me a call to see what I thought. I had known Ken since the late 80’s, so we had been friends for a long time. Our bands had been playing together for years, so we were both well aware of each other’s musical history. Ken pitched the idea of me singing on these songs that they had recorded, but it not being released as a Better Than A Thousand album, but a new band. I asked Ken to send me a cd of the songs and that I’d check it out. Within a few days I had the cd in my hands and was sitting in front of my stereo giving it a listen. Right off the bat, I liked what I heard. The guy Alex that was playing drums on the recording is an excellent drummer and his drums stood out instantly. By the time the cd was done playing, I knew I had to get involved.

I contacted Ken, told him I was into the project and we discussed how we would move forward. I agreed to write lyrics to a few of the tracks and then take a trip down to D.C. to do some recording. Once I recorded and we could sit down and see how everything was coming together, we’d then decide how we wanted to proceed. I think after that first batch of songs that I recorded the vocals for, we were all really excited about the prospects of the band. Things started to pick up, recording sessions were being scheduled fairly regularly and before I knew it, I was making multiple trips down to D.C., recording, hanging out and making plans. Eventually I had recorded vocals for every song on the album and then shortly after that, more songs were recorded for an EP. Ken was playing guitar, Graham Land was playing guitar, Alex Garcia-Rivera was playing drums and I got Ed McKirdy from Hands Tied to play bass. We had a complete band, we had recordings, we called the band Face The Enemy and we started planning live shows.

Our first show was the 2002 Positive Numbers Festival in Wilkes Barre, PA. We played another show the following weekend in PA as well, but didn’t play again until later that year when we did a tour with Stand And Fight (then called Impact), which was Wrench from Ten Yard Fight’s new band at the time. The tour we did with Stand And Fight went well and we had a great time, but we had a hard time keeping the momentum going with Face The Enemy because the members were so spread out. Our guitarist Graham was originally from the D.C. area, but living in Sweden, so any shows or band activity that Face The Enemy was going to get involved with, required Graham to fly back for.

I wasn’t use to doing a band with members so spread out, you had me in New Jersey, Ed in New York, Ken in Washington D.C., Alex in Boston and Graham in Sweden. Logistcally, doing the band with guys so spread out, made no sense, but originally with careful planning, we thought we might be able to make it work. In the end though, we lost our momentum and couldn’t keep it together. I tried and pushed for things to happen for about a year or more, but nothing panned out. We did those handful of shows and the one short tour, released one LP, “These Two Words” and one EP, “Through It All” and that was all that Face The Enemy every really amounted to.

DR: Can you also  give me a little Triple Threat history?

TM – Triple Threat really came together out of the frustration of Face The Enemy’s failures. I saw so much potential in Face The Enemy, yet it was ultimately out of reach. I figured that if I couldn’t get things together with Face The Enemy, I’d just start all over again and create something new.

TripleThreat_CBGB_NYCTriple Threat CBGB NYC

Ed and I went back an forth about doing a new band, it was very similar to the beginning stages of Hands Tied. We talked about what we wanted to do, how we wanted it to sound, but there was still that problem of filling out the line up. Ed decided he wanted to take a swing at playing guitar, so we at least had that. Where would we get a drummer though? What about a bass player? Sure, there are plenty of people out there that play bass and drums, but we needed the “right” people. People that saw eye to eye with Ed and I and essentially shared the same vision.

Months went by and nothing was happening, putting together this new band was proving to be as difficult as always. Then out of no where I get this call from Rich, the bassist from Insted. Rich told me that Insted had a discography coming out on Indecision Records and that they were going to get back together to do a bunch of shows to help promote the discography. Insted was going to play in Rhode Island, New Jersey and New York City and Rich asked me if my band would be down to play with them in New Jersey. I told Rich that I’d love to, but at the time, didn’t really have a “current” band. We talked back and forth, I told him that I would try to figure something out. I wasn’t sure if I was going to try and put something together with Mouthpiece, Hands Tied, Face The Enemy or just make a solid attempt at the new band. Rich was cool with whatever I was able to do, ultimately Insted just wanted to share the stage with one of my bands, because Mouthpiece had played with Insted a couple of times on their last US tour and Rich knew that I was still involved in the hardcore scene, still straight edge, etc.

TripleThreat_PyramidClub_NYCTriple Threat Pyramid Club NYC

Ed and I talked and decided this was the push we needed to get this new band started. Instead of attempting to temporarily bring back one of the previous bands, we saw this as a great opportunity to get things started right. We had a deadline to get this new band off the ground, because a date was set for Insted’s show in New Jersey. Coincidently, this guy Tim Kriependorf from Germany that I had met while on tour in Europe with Hands Tied, had just moved to Philadelphia and Tim played bass. I had been in touch with Tim prior to him moving out here, so I hit him up about playing in this new band with Ed and I. I also contacted former Mouthpiece drummer, Jason Jammer and asked if he’d be interested in playing again. Jason hadn’t done anything band wise since Mouthpiece had broken up in 1996, with the exception of the reunions and I didn’t know if he’d be into it, but it turned out he was.

TripleThreat_BrooklynTriple Threat Brooklyn

At the time, in 2004 when we started Triple Threat, I was listening to a lot of early 80’s southern California punk and hardcore. Lots of Black Flag, Circle Jerks, Germs, Adolescents, etc., I was also listening to a lot of BL’AST!, as I always have. I pitched the idea that we go for a BL’AST! type sound, something heavy, generally slower, rocking, a Black Flag type vibe, but still Straight Edge hardcore. The other 3 guys were on board with my idea and we also pulled in a second guitarist, Aaron from The First Step.

We practiced heavily for about two months, wrote five songs and indeed kept on schedule to premier Triple Threat at the Insted show in New Jersey. I believe the following week we recorded our first EP, “A New Chapter” for Livewire Records.

Triple Threat stayed active for four solid years, playing as much as we could, recorded an LP titled, “Into The Darkness” for Bridge 9 Records, did a west coast trip with BOLD, released a live EP from the last show we played at CBGB’s on Livewire.

Eventually the band split up in 2008 when our bassist Tim moved to North Carolina. We had planned to try and keep things going, but the distance between us proved to be too much of a burden.

DR: Did you start a band with Brian Jordan or did i imagine that?

TM: As I had mentioned earlier in the interview, there was the 2011 version of Hands Tied that Brian “Gordo” Jordan got involved with. Gordo played drums in the beginning and then at the end switched to second guitar. Gordo has been in my tight circle of friends for about 14 years or so at this point, so we’ve talked endlessly about starting new bands, but the 2011 version of Hands Tied is the only one that’s actually accomplished anything.

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Filed under Face The Enemy, Mouthpiece, Triple Threat

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