DR: Yo Nick what’s going on man?
Where you at right now?
What’s good? I’m chilling in my living room in Boston with my 2 cats. Just listened to a few records.
DR: Let’s take it back, what was your passage into Hardcore, and what were some of the very first bands you heard?
It’s hard to say specifically, but I got into hip-hop at a very young age which gave me a taste for subversive music. A large chunk of my childhood was spent in Florida and skateboarding was huge at the time. Another thing that was huge in Florida was death metal. In like 3rd grade, there would be little kids wearing their big brother’s Deicide, Morbid Angel and Slayer t-shirts. I remember buying a Slayer “Haunting the Chapel” ep on vinyl and a much older neighborhood bully making me return it because it was satanic! The music industry was huge and they were pushing all this stuff that had punk/hardcore roots so if you were a nerdy/bored kid with a long enough attention span you were bound to get to it one way or another. It was also sort of communicated to you that you had to check out all the basic stuff like Sex Pistols, Misfits, Damned, Ramones, Black Flag, Minor Threat, Dead Kennedys etc. Unfortunately, info on what was the essential stuff wasn’t as readily-available as it is now so there was a lot of trial and error. For instance, my first Black Flag purchase was the “I Can See You” Ep.
DR: What were some of the first shows you went to?
My first show was Ill Repute, while I still lived in Florida. I believe that was 93. That was my only show there until I moved back to PA, where I started going to shows about a year later. My first shows there were mostly local bands with nothing that notable until like 95. I saw stuff like Both Worlds, Strife, VOD, Warzone etc. I had a small squad of dudes in my town who were into punk/hc and we would go to shows when we could and I also would hang around and skate with this punk band called Shaman from Wilkes-Barre. I was from a small town about 30 minutes outside of Wilkes-Barre so it was tough to get to every show until I started driving.
DR: What was the first Hardcore band you were in?
I think my very first HC band was called Outlet. I think we changed the name to X-Cell, not knowing there was already a band with that name. We never did a demo or any recording and I think we only played one show. We covered Integrity and I remember Dan Mills singing along and moshing which was dope for us because he was a cool dude in the scene and we were still young dumb-asses who didn’t know shit. The singer and guitar player for that band were a year older than me and were in a car accident together. The singer got messed up pretty bad and was sort of a different person after that and wasn’t into punk or hc at all. I’m pretty sure we stopped being a band because of that accident. I don’t really remember though. The guitar player went on to play in a late incarnation of a pretty cool local band called Burial Ground but their singer died. I eventually joined Magnus, replacing their drummer Hans who actually died as well. Jesse, the bass player from Magnus also died. Very morbid scene, man.
DR: What are your top five biggest HC influences?
I don’t know if these are set in stone, but I’ll try to think of some. 1. Getting the NYHC The Way It Is comp on tape early on was big for me. The local scene was very suburban and political so it was one of the first times I was exposed to more rough-around-the-edges, urban-style hardcore like Breakdown and Krakdown. 2. Floorpunch/In My Eyes/Ten Yard fight. The local edgemen were either emo/pc or tough guy style, so when I found these bands it sort of gave my little crew an identity to run with. 3. Playing in Our Time. Our Time was a local screamo -style band, which wasn’t really my favorite style of hardcore but I was young enough to not be so close-minded and I definitely dug a lot of emo stuff at the time. Two of the guys in that band had very eclectic taste and put me on to bands like Belle & Sebastian and Spiritualized. It influenced me to not be so rigid and judgmental. 4. Positive Number Fest. Bobb Mac put on the Posi Numbers fest for a few years and it was so much fun. It was before fests kind of took over the scene and had to have crazy reunions etc. Unfortunately it was ruined by some shit I’d rather not speak on in the last two years but the first few definitely still had that punk rock vibe where this was a place for the kids by the kids. No reason for security, big venues or any of that nonsense that’s made the scene as stale as it is today. 5. I guess the Cro-Mags. Getting to see them with Harley & JJ at CB’s, the Continental and Homebase in W-B was insane. When I got into hardcore, it was a weird period where they weren’t necessarily an entry level band like they are now.That’s crazy to imagine since they they’re one of, if not the best hc bands.
DR: Did you know when you started Cold World you wanted that Hip Hop influence there?
No, not specifically. I was really into DJ’ing and hip-hop in general at the time. I was the one who kinda took the responsibility to give the band an identity so that’s naturally where I went with it. The chemistry of all the members sort of brought me there as well because I definitely wanted to be different and make an impact and that’s what made sense to me with Dan, Alex and Foster. If I were doing a band with, say, guys from Blacklisted, we would probably have done something different with no hip-hop influence at all.
DR: Is it right that you had a lot to do with writing lyrics in CW? Was that thoughout or just on certain records?
Yeah, I wrote all of the lyrics in Cold World. Again, I wrote these lyrics knowing they were going to come out of Dan’s (or Alex’s) mouth. There’s definitely a lot of personal shit in there, don’t get me wrong, but the lyrics may have been different if I were writing them for myself to sing.
DR: How did you think kids would feel about the samples and stuff at first?
It was pretty split down the middle and that’s understandable. The Lockin Out crew were definitely introducing some hip-hop vibes in their shit so that kind of made us feel more comfortable to do it. I knew having actual cuts and samples would get us a lot of nu metal comparisons so I was ready for it. We were definitely mindful of it, but we didn’t much care what people thought at the time. For us, Cold World was about getting to do something creative with our best friends and finally represent the Wilkes-Barre scene. W-B has had a hc scene since the 80’s but there was only a handful of actual records that represented the scene and most of them are obscure dollar bin 90’s emo stuff. No disrespect.
DR: Have you always been a big hip hop fan? Who are some of your classic favourites?
Hip-hop was definitely my first musical love. The first stuff I got into was the classic 80’s stuff like the whole Def Jam roster, Eric B & Rakim, EPMD, Audio Two etc. 90’s NY street shit is mostly my favorite shit. Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of old radio rips from the 90’s from guys like Dj Riz, Funkmaster Flex, Cipha Sounds, Evil Dee, Mister Cee, Stretch & Bobbito etc. It’s cool to hear these guys go in(pre-Serato) on air as well as crack the mic and talk about what was going on at the time.
DR: You’re into Garms right? Who do you fuck with these days?
Other than the stuff I work on (Concepts and Nervous Juvenile), I like Undercover, Bape, RRL, Champion, Bounty Hunter, Winiche & co and Stone Island.
DR: What you saying on sneakers? What do you have on rotation right now?
I like to pull something different out every day so I don’t really have a rotation.
DR: All time top five favourite kicks?
I don’t really do the ranking thing man! My #1 favorite is definitely the neon Air Max 95’s. I will also say that my most WANTED kicks are the 96 Ivory/Tan Snakeskin AF1 lows and the Chanel Reebok Pump Furys.
DR: What’s been your favourite reissue sneakers in the last 2 years?
Any time they do the neon 95’s I’ll buy them. The purple AF1 Highs and wheat AF1 mids were ill too.
DR: We both share a love for Japan and even know some of the same dudes over there, when was the first time you went over? Was it with CW?
Yeah, the first time was with Cold World. We went over with our homie Jude and it was unreal. Probably the most fun I’ve ever had and without a doubt my favorite place on earth. I’d do anything to live there.
DR: What’s your Favourite sneaker store in Tokyo? Gotta be Skit, right?
Skit is definitely up there! They’ll always have random old stuff for like $40. There’s also a cool newer shop called Worm that has ill stuff as well.
DR: I liked what I heard from Pegasus. You only released an EP, right? What happened to that band?
Yes, Pegasus only had the one 7″. There was some miscommunications with that band and although we liked how the 7″ came out and did a successful weekend we decided to keep it at that. Maybe in the future we’d be open to doing more stuff but no one’s beating our door down, that’s for sure.
DR: What’s the status with Consolation Prize right now?
Sort of the same thing as Pegasus. We did the 7″ and a comp song. We’d consider doing stuff again it just hasn’t come up.
DR: I listen to your sound cloud mixes from time to time, some real good vibes there. Is that something you are really big on?
I’d say it’s just a hobby at this point. If you’re not totally committed to that world and pushing yourself, you won’t get that far. I don’t have any DJ spots any more so I’ll just do a new mix every couple months when there’s enough new/good tunes out at a time. Which is getting rarer and rarer. I also don’t make my own tunes any more, and that’s something you have to do to be taken serious as a DJ in that world.
DR: What is on rotation mostly House, Grime..? There was a real good Grimey one recently. Are you a big fan of that stuff? Who are some of your favourite MC’s? And what do you think about it dying out a bit here? I got the chance to see most of them back when it was on fire here in 2006-2009, I even caught Skepta in Spain, then Dj EZ the next night… was a great couple of days.
My daily listening habits revolve around the Howard Stern Show, which is on 3 days a week. Other than that I listen to a lot of punk and indie stuff but yeah, I check for new grime, hip-hop and house(my usual preference is the garagey/uk funky side of house). I try to keep up with the best Rinse FM sets. I was very into that scene in that time frame as well. I sort of followed the path of drum n bass to uk garage to grime. I opened before Dizzee Rascal in Philly when he came over before his second album came out. It was tough to get all of those early records. The only place that had them was this place Kim’s Video in NY. My favorite stuff was obviously the early Roll Deep shit, Nasty Crew, Kano, Skepta, Crazy Titch, JME, all of that. I would download all of the radio sets that I could. It was the same time that UK dubstep was really breaking as well so I was keeping up with Digital Mystikz, the Tempa. stuff, Burial, etc. Grime is definitely on an upswing right now. It’s never going to fully break here. A guy like Dizzee or Skepta will break through for a moment but the average US hip-hop listener doesn’t understand UK rave/pirate radio culture and will think they’re trying to copy trap or drill music, when in fact those sounds have sort of caught up to grime and that’s why US listeners are finally able to stomach an artist like Skepta. In the past when guys would try to cross over they would try to do American Hip-hop and it would just be horrible and not work at all. Skepta was actually guilty of this at one point and he openly admits it. I’m interested to see what happens next. There’s also a huge disconnect as to how US listeners get new music from the artist. They’re used to a mixtape full of new tunes every couple of months. They don’t understand having to listen to a DJ set to hear a new tune, let alone a full MC radio set.
DR: Logan Sama still represents on Kiss, what do you think about him?
Apparently he’s an Edge man which is weird for that scene I think.
Yeah, I rate Logan for sure. His last mixtape would be a perfect intro to grime for someone. I’ve never heard that he’s an edgman though. Like proper hardcore edgeman or just doesn’t drink/smoke? Just Blaze and Cipha Sounds don’t drink or smoke as well! Good company!
DR: Tell us a bit about your clothing line and what else you have going on.
I’ve been working for Concepts for the past 3-4 years helping with design and production. I kinda took what I’ve learned (and am still learning) there and recently started my own small thing with a couple friends called Nervous Juvenile. We’re about to do our second drop. It’s self-funded, small and slow-moving. Garret, Eric and I all come from the hardcore/punk scene and are just kinda seeing what we can do.
DR: Thanks a lot for taking time out to do this man, anything else you would like to add?
Thanks for the interview. Check out a band I started playing in called Malcontent.