I caught up with Chris Daily & Jeff Terranova of Smorgasbord Fanzine/Records and talked to them about some new things in the works and old… but tried not to repeat a lot of the stuff that has already been documented.
You might also be aware that Jeff played bass for legendary NY Straight Edge Hardcore band Up Front.
DR: So guys, with the recent new “Smor” Instagram page popping there has been some old and new interest in the label… what was the idea behind this?
CD: I was seeing all these enamel pins popping up and had thought it would be cool to do one of the SMOR fist. I called Jeff and he said 2016 marks the 30th year anniversary of the start of SMORGASBORD. So the whole idea really just snowballed. Tim Mouthpiece helped set the page up and started getting the word out. We are just going to use it to show some of the history.
Daily Singing Along To Up Front At The Anthrax
JT: People were posting on Facebook and asking me last year if there would be 30 Year Anniversary shirts in 2016. My intention has been to make a small pre-order only run, but my work keeps me pretty busy and I personally would not have the time to do it alone. Literally one day prior to the day I was planning to reach out to Chris Daily and inquire if Chris and Daily Screen Printing wanted to make the shirts, Chris texted me about the enamel pins. It all felt natural, like it was all meant to be.
Jeff Doing A flip in a hotel bedroom in 87
DR: I’d like to go in reverse a little bit now Chris and hear a bit about what made you want to start the zine?
CD: I was already doing a skateboard zine called Skate Confusion, which I think I did 5 issues of. SMORGASBORD actually started in December of 1986 with a one page, 2 sided “newsletter.” Zines were in my blood, my dad had done a magazine on Magic and my brother had done a pretty popular BMX zine that he started in the early 80s. The Anthrax Club had recently opened up the Norwalk location and the shows were packed, I just wanted to make a contribution.
DR: Did you know who you wanted to have in there before you started?
And who out of all the bands was interviewed (for those who don’t own copy’s)?
CD: I just wanted to share what was going on at the time, both in CT and NYC. There were shows every weekend between CT, NYC, Long Island, Albany…man we drove to shows all over the place. I never really had a plan on who to interview, they just happened. Usually it was just friends.
DR: It looks like you sold issues in places other than shows? Where else would you be able to pick up a copy? I’m also interested in the text about ads on the poster, did you get much interest at the time? Who wanted to advertise in it?
CD: I sold issues direct through me at shows or the mail. Some Records and See Hear zine store, both in NYC, sold them. And Trash American Style in CT. Back then people did a LOT of tape or flyer trading so I had “pen pals” all over the country, some that are still friends to this day. As for ads; other zines or small record labels. Did a lot of record trades for ad space.
DR: Who came up with the old zine art work with the kid eating a burger? I love that pic haha- it’s very Garbage Pail Kids-esque!
CD: There was a Jamaican kid in my neighborhood that did graffiti, he was not connected to HXC or skateboarding at all but we were friends. I had him do some art for my skate zine and he did the SMOR fist art as well. Rich Derespina, who played guitar in ALL FOR ONE, did the graffiti style logo used on the cover of issues 1.5 and 2. As for the fat kid, I think I did that terrible thing.
DR: How many issues of one & two were printed?
CD: I really have no idea how many issues were done. I had a print shop class in high school so I had free access to print my stuff there. I also printed the Schism issue and Project X covers there. I’d assume 100-200 copies of each? I think Smorgasbord was a mediocre zine that just happened to come alive in the perfect era of hardcore. There were so many zines at that time, I’d hop a train to NYC every weekend and easily have 3 new zines to read on the ride home.
DR: Let’s talk a bit about the change from zine to label, when did you know this was the direction you wanted to go in?
CD: I had become good friends with so many new people and bands when the Anthrax Club moved from Stamford, CT to Norwalk, CT. Revelation Records was just starting out, Incas Records was putting out records. Some bands were renting out the Anthrax Club on a Sunday afternoon and hiring local CT guy named Jeff R who played guitar in Connecticut’s Contraband because he owned a small reel to reel 4 track. So I got the idea to release X Marks the Spot with UP FRONT, WIDE AWAKE and PRESSURE RELEASE. We rented the club and hired Jeff R for I think $150 on January 24, 1988 all 3 bands and all of our friends were there for what was basically a live recording in an empty club. X Marks sold out quick, I talked with Up Front about doing a LP, borrowed $3000 from my girlfriend’s dad…and just kept going.
DR: Smorgasbord #1 is the fantastic “X Marks the spot comp with Up Front, Wide Awake and Pressure Release”. Did you want to sort of test the water with a comp before you started releasing full 7’s?
CD: I just wanted to release my friend’s bands. All of those guys in those bands, plus all the other local CT bands and kids, we were together every weekend at shows at the Anthrax. Didn’t matter what bands were playing, we were there. So that record and Up Front LP were really just ways to keep us together. I loved each and every one of those dudes.
DR: Jeff- so by this point “88 Up Front” were very up and running. Can you tell me a bit about what Up Front had been doing up until the release of “Spirit”? Also where and how did you and Chris make the connection to work together etc?
JT: By 1988 things were really starting to come together for Up Front. We had a hard time finding a drummer, but as soon as we found Jim Eaton, things just started to click. Shows in CT were abundant and we quickly became staples at the Norwalk Anthrax club. We became friends with pretty much every sxe kid who attended the Anthrax, Chris Daily being one of those kids. Chris interviewed Up Front in SMORGASBORD #1 and included Up Front on the “X Marks The Spot” 7” Comp. We became pretty good friends and I remember hanging out at Chris’s apartment in Norwalk, CT, so it felt natural when Chris approached us to record and release the Spirit LP. Like Chris said, we were always together and loved and supported one another, so it all made perfect sense
DR: What tours etc came with the release of “Spirt”, and who were you regularly playing shows with?
JT: Once the Spirit LP was released and sold through the first two pressings, Up Front were building a lot of momentum and Johnny Stiff, a NYC hardcore promoter contacted us about booking a summer tour in 1989. In 1987 and 1988 Up Front played shows with Bold, Supertouch, Warzone, Youth Of Today, Uniform Choice, Etc. The Summer 1989 tour was 10 days on the east coast with Unit Pride, then a 30 day tour meeting up with Insted on the east coast and touring with Insted all the way to the west coast. Along the way to California and back we played with Gorilla Biscuits, Judge, Youth Of Today, Supertouch, Bold, Chain Of Strength, Walk Proud, Release, Social Distortion and others.
DR: Something I always like to ask is how would you describe the Straight Edge Hardcore scene back then?
CD: That time period of 1986 – 1989 was a great time to live in CT or NYC. So many shows, so many bands, so many mixed bills, and SXE was huge. But even though SXE was huge, you really saw everyone at every show, not just SXE kids. Youth of Today was the catalyst, their shows were always fun and we would travel to see them.
JT: 1986-1989 is now known as the second wave of sxe, we were following in the footsteps of the forefathers of sxe, Minor Threat, SSD, DYS and 7 Seconds. But at the time, when you are living it and are in the moment, you don’t think about it, you just do it. When Uniform Choice’s “Screaming For Change” was released in 1985, it truly opened the door to the second wave bands. That UC album is perfect from start to finish and inspired me personally in my song writing and in my singing. But what it really comes to is, we were a bunch of kids doing something that we felt passionate about and there was a sense of acceptance and unity that I have never experienced the same way in the years after.
DR: I read somewhere that Up Front played in Japan? When was this and where did you play?
JT: Up Front had the pleasure to tour Japan in 1998 for five days, playing three shows. Here are the details: January 7th at Bears in Osaka, January 8th at Huck Finn in Nagoya and January 9th at Anti-Knock in Tokyo.
DR: Just briefly give us a bit of info on when you and Chris changed hands at Smorgasbord and what was Chris’s last release and what was your first?
CD: I had done 9 releases; 1. X Marks comp 2. Up Front – Spirit LP 3. Edgewise – Silent Rage 7” 4. Conviction – A Question of Commitment 7″ 5. Forbearance – Times We Had 7″ 6. Voice Of The Voiceless Comp LP 7. Splinter 7” 8. Bloodlet 7” 9. Up Front – What Fire Does 7” Then Jeff took over.
JT: The first thing I did when I took over the label was to repress the Up Front “What Fire Does” 7”. I had distributors calling me and asking for it and the two pressings that Chris pressed were all gone. The first new release I did was by a unique female fronted sxe band from NJ at the time called Standpoint, the album was called “Whatever”.
DR: Some people might not be aware that Hatebreed’s first 7″ Under The Knife was originally released on Smorgasbord. Were they a band you were very aware of in the early days?
JT: I was living in CT at the time and you couldn’t live in CT and be a part of the Hardcore scene and not know about Hatebreed back then. Jamey wanted to be on Smorgasbord, so we worked out a deal to repress the “Under The Knife” cassette that the band had previously released on their own. We added the Smorgasbord Logo and with the success of the cassette sales, we decided to release it on 7”, then later on CD with two bonus tracks.
DR: What are your favorite releases on the label?
CD: I am proud of every release, and I am still friends with people on almost every release. For me, I am probably most proud of the Up Front Spirit LP. We were 17 and 18 years old, renting a recording studio out for a weekend. Spending that weekend with my best friends (that includes the band and all the friends that came with us), screwing around doing stupid stuff, recording the music and vocals, doing background vocals, then the mixing…it’s a time I will never forget. And I honestly still like entire product, from the songs to how it looks.
JT: That is like picking your favorite child, you can’t. In all sincerity, I took over Smorgasbord Records because I wanted to give back to the scene all that the scene had given to me. Smorgasbord Records was the catalyst for Up Front, and myself, to do some great things and I wanted to be the catalyst, or stepping stone, for other young bands. I tried to be as hands on as I could. Many times being in the recording studio with the bands and helping them with producing, then helping out with the layout and design. Those releases are a little closer to my heart compared to the releases that I was not a part of the recording sessions and the layout/design, but I could never pick just one favorite.
DR: Moving on, when did you start printing shirts? And roughly how many runs do you think you did?
CD: No clue how many shirts we did in those early days. There was some hardcore kids that worked at a screen printing shop named Fat City in New Milford, CT. They ended up printing shirts for a lot of bands from CT and NY. A guy named Tedd Nelson worked there and was a master mind with graphics and branding. I had stitched SMORGASBORD STRAIGHT EDGE on the back of a varsity jacket and in talking with Tedd we came up with the idea to make a similar shirt. He did the graphic and it was awesome. We did other shirts over the years but that design seemed to really stand the test of time, I love seeing the adapted concept to this day.
First Up Front Shirt
JT: Chris Daily printed the very first Up Front shirts at his high school, there couldn’t have been more than 25 of them made. By the time Russ Braun drew up the “Where The Kids Will Stand Together” artwork, we attempted to print them ourselves in my mom’s basement. That did not go too well, so we also joined the ranks of having our shirts printed at Fat City. Speaking of Tedd Nelson, he designed the original, now famous flaming Hatebreed logo for the “Under The Knife” 7” and t-shirts.
Up Front Reunion Show Harrisburg PA – Chris And Jeff In black Hoodies
DR: Who designed the “Smor Fist” logo and banner?
CD: Tedd Nelson did the banner but the first was drawn by Paul Burke, that same Jamaican kid that did the Skate Confusion covers. Tedd combined the two for the shirt design.
DR: And now what are we going to see from you guys in 2016?
CD: With this being the 30th anniversary Jeff and I decided to do a one-time offering of the SMOR SXE shirt using the actual hand-cut film that Tedd created for that first run of shirts. They will also have a special sleeve print commemorating the anniversary. We are also making a limited run of 100 enamel pins of the SMORGASBORD fist.
JT: Chris and I are pretty excited that people still care about all that the two of us have done over the past 30 years with the label and we just want to give a little something to the new generation, who didn’t have the opportunity to be there back in the beginning and also to the old school kids who are looking to continue their support and are proud to represent and celebrate the 30th anniversary with us.