DR: What was your your personal channel into Hardcore? And who are stand out favorites for you to this day?
Well I’ve been calling myself straight edge since I was 13, but to this day I have never even tried alcohol, drugs or cigarettes. What happened at 13? Well, in 7th grade, a new kid from Southern California named Mike Millet started going to my school and not only did he bring with him all the glories of skateboarding (including the coolest skater bang I have ever seen) he also brought the sickest music I had ever heard. Up to this point, I was getting my kicks listening to Twisted Sister and Quiet Riot, so when Mike handed me a beaten up old tape with Fear on one side and Suicidal Tendencies on the other, I was hooked from day one. I begged my mom to take me to the Rockaway Mall where she was generous enough to buy me the Suicidal Tendencies debut album on vinyl. That was it. Fast forward six months later, I was now a full-on skater with a million records and zero capacity to perform an ollie that got my board to lose contact with the pavement. I sucked at skating, but loved the culture (or anti-culture) and was obsessed with the music.
It was around this time that all my friends were getting way more into experimenting with booze and cigarettes (Mike actually started smoking in 5th grade, which I thought was his one personality flaw) and way less into hanging out and having fun being idiots with me (I had a small obsession with homemade fireworks and setting the street on fire with rubber cement). This was all I needed, but now my crew was skating less and getting wasted more (and I already felt like an outsider because my skateboarding was the stuff of nightmares). I was beginning to feel lost and severe pubescent angst was hitting hard. Then one day it finally happened…Minor Threat. Holy lord…I had been on a quest to find a band as fast as the Dead Kennedys could get with as tough a sound as The Exploited, and what do I discover? A band that blows all of these punk bands out of the water AND they have lyrics about not drinking and smoking?! And they look like skateboarders? Well, that was just too much to handle. I was sold.
DR: Lets talk about Livewire Records – what made you start the label? Was it just you involved?
As I was saying in the earlier question, I started it to help out my friends in Eleven Thirty-Four. It was something I had wanted to do for years leading up to Livewire and the timing just worked out.
Hands Tied And Ten Yard Fight
Livewire was mainly just me, though when I was in graduate school, a friend named Pete Russo stepped in and helped out big time.
DR: What were some of your early favourite releases on the label?
In no particular order, here are some of the standout releases for me:
The First Step “Open Hearts and Clear Minds”
John Henry Holiday “Know The Ropes”
Running Like Thieves “Same Time Next Year”
Triple Threat “A New Chapter”
The Killing Flame “The Dream Dies”
DR: I was really into the LW board, haven’t used it for years but I remember it being a very critical board, like different from the others of the time with members having a lot of knowledge about some of the more crucial bands, why do you think that was?
Ya know, when I added the message board feature to the Livewire website, I was so bummed at first. We’d get like a few posts a day; it was embarrassing. I remember coming up with a contest to drive more traffic to the board. I can’t remember the details of the contest, but it had to do with The First Step, who were an up-and-coming Straight Edge band at the time. I think the kids who participated in the contest all happened to be TFS fans so the discussions often centered around Straight Edge hardcore bands who had influenced The First Step (bands like Youth of Today, DYS, SSD, etc.). It was this type of discourse that ultimately led to older kids joining the board (and even some ex-members of these classic bands). In the glory days of the Livewire board we’d be getting some incredible posts on a daily basis. Never enormous numbers, but almost always posts of a higher caliber, from a storytelling/information perspective. I still think it was that contest that led to the board being really cool for a while.
DR: What made you decide to finish up with Livewire?
Mouthpiece – Roadie Days
I was a terrible businessman and real life just got in the way of what was becoming a very expensive hobby. I modeled the label after Dischord and Revelation, but Ian MacKaye and Jordan Cooper I am not, though I did aspire to be an independent record label owner. It worked for a while and when it stopped working, I humbly bowed out.
DR: Were you ever involved with any zines?
In the late 90s, I was doing some freelance writing for a few magazines of the time (Chord and a bunch of others I can’t remember.) I wanted to do a zine in the late 80s, but ended up doing show and record reviews for my school paper instead. I took a lot of shit for that from the kids at school at the time but it was cool to see my stuff printed up in a fairly professional looking newspaper.
DR: On another note, you’re a big Horror fan, right? As am I. Who are your favourite directors & producers and what are some of your favourite movies? Are you into a particular Franchise?
Well, in terms of more mainstream horror, my favorite directors have to be John Carpenter, Tobe Hooper and George Romero. Halloween (the original from 1978) is my favorite horror film of all time with Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) and Dawn of The Dead (1978) not very far behind!
A lesser-known filmmaker I’m a huge fan of is director S.F. Brownrigg. The look, feel and overall vibe just creates a feeling; a lingering, sweaty, over-saturated, dizzy drone that somehow creeps into your pores and under your skin. His films, for me, encapsulate everything that is grotesque and all at once beautiful about 1970s rural America.
Shelter – In The Van Again – Video Shoot
This is getting a little out there but I think its worth mentioning; for some reason I have a an odd fascination with Jim Jones and the Jonestown Massacre. Tragedy aside (and it was a horrible tragedy), if I had to categorize the look and feel of the photos, audio recordings and films from the Jim Jones sermons, etc. strictly on their vibe, I might put them in a similar category as Brownrigg’s work. Those images, etc. are the only things I have encountered that seem to hit me in a similar (although darker) way. The major difference, of course, is that Brownrigg’s films are works of fiction. I have fun watching these movies, but it’s a strange kind of fun. (It probably doesn’t hurt that Don’t Look In The Basement was the very first horror film I ever saw. The scene where Jennifer [Harryette Warren] gets jabbed through the eye has stuck with me since 1983, the year I saw the movie.)
Another (even lesser known) filmmaker who I’m obsessed with is Baltimore native Don Dohler. His early films, The Alien Factor (1978), Fiend (1980), Nightbeast (1982) and Galaxy Invader (1985) are all stellar. All of his films were made on virtually zero budget, filmed using his own home and backyard (and surrounding areas) as sets, and often featuring non-actors like his aunt’s hairdresser for example, in leading roles. But the stories, performances, special effects, etc. are done with such heart and soul that the films are, in many ways, vastly more interesting and fun to watch than big budget Hollywood dreck. His films are all available for free on YouTube and I highly recommend checking them out.
Oh man…that’s a heavy question. I think, at the top of the list is my JUDGE Schism long sleeve. JUDGE is one of my favourite bands of all time and that shirt is just so sick. Coincidentally, I’m wearing that shirt in the group photo on the Hands Tied CD. Recently, Mouthpiece played The Stone Pony with Lifetime and I busted it out again for that show. Thankfully, it still fits like a charm.
There are so many incredible shirts that it’s so hard for me to even narrow it down. Here’s some great ones off the top of my head:
- Black Project X Schism
– Black Uniform Choice “Use Your Head” 4-Sided
– Dag Nasty “Dag Tag”
– Slapshot Black shirt with gold ink/hockey sticks on the back
– Youth of Today “Break Down The Walls” tour shirt
– Youth of Today “Break Down The Walls” Wishingwell shirt
– Navy Blue Chain of Strength “True Till Death” with puffy ink
DR: As for sneakers, what are some timeless models for you?
My favourite sneaker of all time, since it came out in 1988, has been the Air Jordan III in black with grey elephant print. It’s just the perfect sneaker. In no particular order are some of my other favourites:
– Nike Air Jordan IV (black and cement)
– Nike Air Jordan I (blue and black)
– Nike Air Trainer 1 (chlorophyll)
– Nike Air Safari 87
– Nike Air Max 90
– Nike Air Revolution
– Adidas Attitude Ewing