About a week before they were going to announce this year’s lineup for Black N Blue Bowl, I started to hear a rumor that of all the possible reunions this year, it was actually Burn who was going to be reforming. Hoping it was true but expecting the ever infamous rumor mill that is the interweb to once again play tricks on me, I was floored when BNB announced that it was indeed going to be happening. Then the disappointment of living 2200 miles away set in and the realization that I wouldn’t be there to witness one of the best bands of its era reunite. So I did what any zine dude would do…I hit up Gavin and hoped he would take time out of his busy day to day life and talk about this milestone in NYHC. Lucky for me he did, and now I have this to share with you. For those of you lucky enough to be going this year all I can say is, take some pics I can use in the next issue! For the rest of you I give you the results of that interview. Photos by Todd Pollock (Thanks for saving the day)
Author Archives: notlikeyoufanzine
For anyone with an interest in skating and hardcore, BL’AST! should be a household name. Formed in Santa Cruz in 1982, they released 3 albums throughout the 80s then faded in the early 90s as members became involved in other projects. Things got rolling again in 2001 with some west coast shows and talk of new material but nothing ever came to fruition. Fast forward to 2013……Southern Lord releases Blood!, a powerful, unheard version of It’s In My Blood, produced by Dave Grohl and BL’AST! returns. This is quickly followed by a triple LP version of their first album appropriately titled “Expression of Power” and the tour dates begins. I was lucky to talk to guitarist Mike Neider recently and he gave us some more insight to the past, present, and future of BL’AST! (Interview originally appeared in Issue 3 of Not Like You Fanzine http://www.notlikeyoufanzine.com
Anyone with any interest in skate rock of course knows about Jodie Foster’s Army!!! Since their forming in 81, JFA has been a favorite amongst skaters the world over. Couple that with the fact that they are still at it today both on the stage and in the pool and you have the recipe for skate rock legends.
Brian and Don sat down to discuss “the haps” with us and this is the end result. Another band off my bucket list both for interviewing and seeing live. Still a crazy, energetic show. They did not disappoint. (This interview originally appeared in Not Like You Fanzine Issue 2 http://www.notlikeyoufanzine.com)
NLY: Thanks for sitting down with us. You two are the “lifers” if you will. Who else is playing with you currently? How long has this current line up been together? What other bands have the other members played in?
Don: I think about 10 years. Corey played in or plays in the Outsiders, China White, The Blades and The Crowd.
Brian: Carter came in at the same time as Corey. He’s played in Love Canal and XX. Outstanding rhythm section!
NLY: After all this time and all the band has been thru, why do you think it’s always been the two of you who have stuck together?
Don: We surf, we skate….we collaborate on everything from the music to the words to the artwork and photos – 50/50. I think other bands break up because one guy sees himself in charge.
Brian: Plus we’re friends. We’ve got so much history together that even though we sometimes disagree on stuff, we don’t get butt hurt about it because we’ve been through so much stuff and seen so much stuff together over these thirty-something years that anything else that comes along is small potatoes.
NLY: Now that’s a nice change from the horror stories you usually read about bands breaking up, friendships ending, egos, etc. You were originally called The Breakers. Why did you change the name? Who came up with JFA?
Brian: When we were The Breakers, all of our friends who were locals at High Roller Skate Park in Phoenix would come out and slam when we played. Totally upsetting all the new wavers and getting us banned for life from many a club. One of the big things at that time was to wear steel-toed engineer boots with the single buckle on them so your toes wouldn’t get smashed in the pit. And then people would tie bandanas around them. Well our drummer, Bam-Bam, took one of his mom’s bed sheets and washed it with some green dye to make it army-colored and then cut it into bandana-sized squares and wrote JxFxAx on them with a sharpie and gave them to all our bros for their boots. So when we were the Breakers, all our friends we Jodie Foster’s Army. And when we found out another band had the name, it was natural to become JFA… We already had the bandanas!
Don: There was a lame new wave band from LA called The Breakers. JFA was short for Jodie Foster’s Army – one of our first songs that I wrote.
NLY: How did your relationship with your original label Placebo and Tony Victor begin?
Brian: Tony really helped grow the Phoenix scene while still keeping it underground. He also did a helluva lot of work to promote JFA, from planning our tours, to putting out our records, to making the skateboards. We wouldn’t have gotten where we were without him and his partner Greg (a.k.a. Mr. Wonderful).
Don: He promoted some early shows I did with different bands – so when he got the Mad Gardens and needed bands he came to me (1st show was with the Alley Cats from LA)
NLY: I read that Tony got burnt out with the label and booking shows and also suffered some setbacks with distributors not paying and that’s why Placebo ended. At that point, there was a few years between Nowhere Blossoms and your next release, which I believe was for Buzzkill. What were you doing in the meantime? Was the band fully active or just a part time thing at this point?
Brian: Without Tony to promote us, we kind of fell off the radar but still kept on doing our thing. It just wasn’t getting publicized. So if you weren’t there, you probably didn’t know we were doing it.
Don: We were always our version of active (which is playing when we want to – 1 or 2 times a month max unless we are on tour). We toured the northwest, the southwest, played ditch contests in Texas…just no full length records.
NLY: You formed in 1981. Have you ever called it quits or even considered it?
Don: Never did (maybe we should have as lot of bands have made $$ on the whole farewell thing to just start playing again 6 months later).
Brian: Nope. We always said we’d quit when it wasn’t fun anymore and as we’ve gotten more experienced and made more and more friends and gotten invited to more and more cool places, it’s only gotten better!
NLY: At one point JFA were part of Alternative Tentacles “Skate Punk” series. How did that come together? It was a CD only release, did you ever think about doing vinyl? Do you know how many copies it sold? How long was it before it went out of print? Why?
Don: I did not know AT did a Skate Punk series!?! We did that album because we respected Jello. He liked our music and we got a fair deal for the copies they sold.
Brian: Yeah, they also put out Free Beer and Los Olvidados. Not sure how many sold and we never talked about doing vinyl. I think we just figured it had run its course and moved on.
NLY: The annual holiday for record junkies, Record Store Day, is just around the corner. I saw a picture the other day of Blatant Localism featuring a color cover that I was told is a special release for that day. What’s the story with it? Who’s putting it out? How many copies? Will you be doing any other reissues in the near future?
Don: One-time reissue with a colorized cover
Brian: Stinkweeds hit us up and put out 500. Tell your local record store to order them from Revolver Distribution before they’re all gone
NLY: Over the years, the band had a couple moments where it “strayed from the path” if you will. What led to these more “experimental” moments? What do you think about them now? Do you think they have stood the test of time as well as some of the others?
Brian: We’ve never let anyone’s stereotypes limit us or define what we do. We always just do what we want whether it’s playing surf music, funk, psychedelic, whatever…, which is the true meaning of punk even if what we’re doing might not sound like the “flavor of the month” of whatever the kids at Hot Topic think punk should sound like.
Don: We wrote what we wrote – true to this day. We were not trying for anything, it just came out that way and the live shows from that era had the old as well as the new. To steal a quote from TSOL on why they did not write another song like Superficial Love – the reply was “we already wrote that.”
NLY: Always loved that quote and it’s true about everyone expecting bands to stay the same. It just won’t work!! DC-Jam is your current label, right? How did you guys hook up? Happy with everything so far?
Brian: Yeah, DC-Jam is great. Putting out records is really hard these days though with everybody downloading things for free. It still costs money to go into the studio to record, buy new equipment, etc. and it’s getting harder and harder to pay for it. Support your local record store! (and indy label……)
NLY: Do you guys still tour? If so, how often? How many tours have you done over the years? Any memorable moments or stand out stories to share?
Don: Too many to share. Any show with the Big Boys, Dead Kennedys or TSOL. 1st LA show with the Bad Brains. 9:30 club with Minor Threat and thousands of little shows with cool skater scenes, no fights, lots of fun, etc.
Brian: We still play here and there. No big huge month long tours because we all have jobs and kids and stuff. But we still try to make the rounds. We played with the Vandals, when they still had Jan and Stevo a bunch back in the day and those were always memorable. Stevo ruled (RIP). They had a song called the Frog Stomp and he knew a place where he could buy a bunch of formaldehyde frogs used for dissecting in biology classes and they’d bust those out during the song, hucking them into the audience and such. It would definitely get a little crazy with frog guts everywhere and people getting pegged in the side of the head with Kermit…
NLY: What were some of your favorite places to play? Any favorite skate spots you would always have to hit up when on the road?
Don: see above.
Brian: We skated so many good places. So many hills, ditches and ramps. We each brought our own quiver in the bus with downhill boards, street boards, pool boards, ditch boards. The Turf Skatepark was rad. Upland. Pipes. You name it. We never did sound checks because we’d rather skate with the locals than hang out around the club and act like rock stars…
NLY: Seeing as this is our “Skate Rock” issue I feel obligated to ask….who still skates??
Don: I surf more, but skate when we go on the road, Carter and Brian skate the most. Corey came from a disadvantaged BMX upbringing, but can get from point A to point B (which is more than I can say for some of the “drag and drop” carry the board kids these days).
Brian: They just built a new Vans park just down the street from my house with a huge clover bowl. Needless to say that’s my home not too far away from home…
NLY: I was lucky enough to be in CA the day that park opened and got to go!! Besides checking out a killer park I got to watch Cab, Jay Adams, Olson, Hosoi, Hackett and so many others tear it up!! Living down the street from that thing is a blessing. I live about 2 miles from a park…it looks NOTHING like that one!! Any plans for recording/ new releases?
Brian: We’re definitely thinking about it but nothing set in stone quite yet.
NLY: I know a bunch of people who will be hoping that’s sooner rather than later!! The Skate Punk Reunion is coming up in Las Vegas. This is like the show 14 year old me would put together in my head and dream about, so I can’t wait for it. How did you guys become part of it? What are your thoughts about it as an event? Any bands you are looking forward to seeing?
Brian: Dean Pascucci had the vision, along with a buddy of ours named Rob, who had put out our Only Live Once CD. Indeed, it’s a dream come true and I can’t wait to see the Drunk Injuns, Minus One, The Faction, Los Olvidados, McRad… Heck, I’m not sure if I’m more stoked to see the bands or just hang out with all the bros. It’s going to be a killer gig with all-time status.
NLY: Why do you think that after all these years there is still such an interest in skate rock? Any new bands you have come across that you feel represent the genre well?
Don: Because the music really goes with skateboarding and the whole lifestyle.
Brian: Yep, that’s why we wrote it…because you need something to help push you when you’re ripping. I was at a skate park one time and some park dude put on Ben Folds Five or something and I had to put my board down, I just couldn’t skate too it. Skate rock is the opposite of that. And with skating getting bigger than ever, it makes sense that there’s a huge need for skate rock.
NLY: Agreed. Back when I started skating punk rock fueled my every fire, but there was something about the flow of skate rock that just went perfect with skating. Your early records, The Faction stuff, and the early Thrasher comps were worn out on ramps around North Jersey by me and my friends. I read Brian joined The Navy after 9/11. What was going on for you at that point that made you completely change your life and enlist?
Brian: I just wanted to do something more than drive around with a flag on my car. I’ve never regretted it.
NLY: Are you still Active Duty today? If so, how much longer do you think you will stay active?
Brian: I joined the Reserves. The only time I was on active duty was when I deployed to Afghanistan for seven months. These days I’m back to drilling as a Reservist. I’ve been around the world: Afghanistan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Nicaragua, Colombia, Panama, Hawaii, from the Pacific to the Spanish Main. It’s a true fact that Sailors have more fun!
NLY: Did you see active combat? If so how would you explain it to someone who has never been a part of something like that?
Brian: When I was in Afghanistan we got shot at a few times and had regular rocket attacks on our base in Kandahar. You either deal with it or you don’t. You don’t have too much choice
NLY: I can’t even begin to fathom what that must be like. Having had a chance to see the changes that have occurred since 9/11, have your views changed at all? Seeing more of what’s going on at home and abroad, do you still feel the same way you did when you enlisted? Was it more of a “I want to make a difference” situation or more of a “I want payback” kind of thing?
Brian: Here’s the thing: I fully believe in every single one of the principles this country was founded on. And whether or not the person who’s President is who I voted for or not, I support him because he represents what the majority of this country wants. For all its flaws, the United States is still the best country in the world to live in and our system of government is still the best. Though we do get some yahoos voted in from time to time, it all balances out in the long run. If you can find a better country to live in, move there. If not, then do your duty as a citizen and work to change what you feel needs to be changed.
NLY: Since 9/11 America has changed greatly. We, as citizens, have lost some civil liberties. The Government has become more powerful. I, for one, feel things have taken a turn for the worse. As more info has come to light and people are better educating themselves, their opinions about the events of 9/11 and other things going on at that time have changed. Is the idea of an “inside job” something you have ever considered?
Brian: Nope. You really couldn’t hide something like that and with all the partisanship in this country today, one side or the other would have taken that ball and plastered it all over the news, and I’m not talking about a bunch of crazy conspiracy websites run by wackos. There’s this idea in science called Occam’s Razor—that the simplest answer is usually the correct one. The more assumptions you have to make to prove something, the less likely it’s true. And for such a conspiracy to have existed and still not been found out, an incredible number of things would have had to fallen into place. And frankly, no one’s that smart.
NLY: …lets agree to disagree on this one. Plenty of wool has been pulled over people’s eyes over the years to accomplish agendas from Hitler “Reichstag Fire” which amounted to the suspension of civil liberites and his rise to power to the “Gulf of Tonkin incident” which the US used to start the Vietnam War. I see no reason why another false flag, which went on to start how many military operations, could not take place in this day and age.
Ultimately as a member of The United States Armed Forces, you have a Commander in Chief, The President of the United States. Having now served a term and a half, what do you think of the job Obama has done?
Don: He did the best he could with the F-ed up guys trying to block his every move (even if it made sense).
NLY: Give me your thoughts on these current issues…..
Don: Total BS (it’s condensation).
Brian: No such thing, they’re called contrails and that’s all they are, condensation made from engine exhaust. Sometimes you see them when atmospheric conditions are right and sometimes you don’t. There’s lots of air traffic these days and you’re bound to see them from time to time. It doesn’t mean the sky is falling.
Don: Somehow we need to get folks like my brother insurance (even if he hates Democrats).
Brian: Everyone needs health insurance with the friggin’ prices the doctors are charging these days whether they’re smart enough to realize it or not.
New World Order
Don: BS (I do not believe in 99% of the conspiracies out there)
Brian: What Don said.
Don: Some of those guys needed their library cards punched.
Brian: Technology marches on
Don: My dog has one.
Brian: Mine too.
NLY: In an age where the day to day struggles of life seem to be hitting people harder than ever before, what is one change you think could make the world a better place? (either here or abroad).
Don: Rich folks need to pay their fair share.
Brian: Yep. (See why me and Don have stuck together this long?)
NLY: Indeed I do. Your friendship Is easy to see talking to both of you.
OK, back to music………You’re not far from the bands 35th anniversary (I think only Agent Orange has you beat) Any plans to celebrate this huge event?
Don: Pool party?
Brian: Pool party sounds good. But we try to make sure every gig is a huge event!
NLY: I bet that would be one hell of an event!! Looking back over all JFA accomplished over the years, what’s one thing you would want to go back and change? What’s the one thing you are most proud of?
Don: Sticking up for the little guy.
Brian: Wouldn’t change a thing. Just proud to see that skate rock and true hardcore skating is still going strong. And what Don said.
NLY: This has been a long interview, thanks for taking the time to talk with us. Any parting words to lay on our readers?
Don: The minute you stop surfing and skating you get old…
Brian: Always go for the gusto. Because, why not?
NLY: We don’t stop skating because we get old, we get old because we stop skating. Thanks guys, see ya in Vegas!!!
This interview originally appeared in issue one of my zine Not Like You (now out of print) With the NYHC book out now I figured it would be a good time for people to check this out, and if you haven’t yet, to check out the book too.
I’ve known Tony going on 20+ years. I say this not because of our friendship but because it’s the goddamn, fucking truth (to quote Roger AF)….the dude can write about music. He’s been going to shows since many of you were probably just a concept. He’s been in bands, done zines, put out records and, as an author he has been documenting some of the most important underground scenes in the country. First with Why Be Something That You’re Not , about the early Detroit HC scene, and coming up with his next book about NYHC. I’ve had the pleasure of checking out some of the early edits of this book and all I can say is , get ready, you will want to buy it AS SOON as it hits shelves. It’s going to be that good. For now, I give you Tony Rettman……..
DR: You grew up in Trenton, a punk rock mecca for NJ. How did you first get into hardcore?
My older brother is the person who turned me onto Hardcore. He was (and still is) always the guy who knew what was going to happen in music six steps before anybody else.
He was the program director at his college radio station in the late 70’s/very early 80’s. One of the DJ’s on the station, who was a buddy of his, moved out to Southern California after graduation. I forget if he was originally from there or not, but there’s where he ended up. SoCal in ‘80? Can you imagine?!?
He started sending my brother mix tapes of Black Flag, Circle Jerks, Agent Orange, etc. and tapes of the Rodney on the ROQ radio show. Somehow, my brother got an actual copy of ‘Nervous Breakdown’ or maybe ‘Jealous Again’ and wrote SST for records for the station. Next thing you know, he was getting unsolicited copies in the mail of the first records on Dischord, Touch & Go, etc. I guess Chuck, or someone at SST, told them there was some guy in Jersey at a radio station who was interested in the stuff. So, that’s how I became aware of Hardcore. Did I mention I was nine years old? Pretty crazy!
DR: Crazy, to say the least, but what great exposure too. What was your first show?
My mind gets foggy as I get older, but it was either Black Flag/Saccharine Trust/October Faction at New York South in Florence, NJ or JFA/Sun City Girls/Death Before Dishonor/Cynamid plus about eight more NJHC bands at the Court Tavern in New Brunswick, NJ. I was just about to turn twelve.
For some reason I’m thinking the Black Flag show was first because I remember going to that and seeing Henry in shorty shorts with his long hair and being all ‘What the fuck is this?’ and then I went to the JFA show and saw skins from both NJ and NY moshing it up for DBD and the other bands and thought ‘Alright, this is what I was looking for!’ Not to say seeing Black Flag at twelve wasn’t a revelatory experience, but I had been sitting there in my room, staring for hours on end at the lyric sheet for the Negative Approach 7”, pretty much thinking every Hardcore show had a ton of bald headed, crazy people going nuts.
DR: While you were going to shows with your brother, I was in North Jersey, somehow trying to convince my parents it would be a good idea to drive to Trenton so I could see Black Flag…..they didn’t bite. Having City Gardens as your backyard must’ve been amazing. What are some of the stand out shows you remember seeing there?
Every time Black Flag played there, it was special. Not just for the fact they were such an amazing band, but they brought the whole party. They brought their own PA, their own roadies, their own merch people, etc. It was just like ‘Get the fuck out of the way, we’re taking over’. In some twisted way, they were the equivalent of the carnival coming to town for me as a kid. I’d go down to the worst part of my town to see the freaks travel through! Seeing Warzone open up for the Ramones to a crowd of confused old punks was pretty great. They got zero response except from me and a few other kids there. In regards to just simply fun shows with great bands it would be Chain of Strength, Marginal Man, Dag Nasty, Youth of Today, Gorilla Biscuits, Sick of it All, Justice League, 7 Seconds, Murphys Law, Agnostic Front, Cheetah Chrome Motherfuckers and too many more (Not all those bands were on the same bill of course!) As far as non-Hardcore shows go, I’d say Mudhoney, Steelepole Bathtub, The Fluid, Ride, and again, many others I’m probably forgetting in my old age.
And of course there were the crazy shows like the Butthole Surfers shows with the naked lady dancers, The Exploited riot and the Sham 69 show where Pursey smacked a record off a turntable while my brother was DJ’ing. Real weird times that I wouldn’t trade for the world.
DR: I remember some of those shows fondly (Marginal Man, Justice League, and 7 Seconds to name a few). I also remember being away with my family when The Exploited show happened. I was bummed I missed it yet at the same time knowing how insane CG could get, I kinda thought I might’ve missed the right show. Over the years, you’ve been involved in so many parts of the scene. You’ve done zines, labels, and been in bands. Can you give us a run down of your projects?
Oh boy…we might be here awhile………
When I was 14, I did my first zine named ‘I4NI’. Get it? Hey, I thought it was clever at that age. Nonetheless, I did manage to pull off 10 issues. Please, if you see any of these anywhere, promptly burn them. They are filled with crappy writing, done by a kid who didn’t know shit. When you do things like that as a kid, you don’t think, ‘Hey, in 30 years someone is going hold me to this record review I did when I was 15’. I wish I could just ‘Stalinize’ the entire run. Somewhere in ‘88 or so, my neighborhood friend, Tim McMahon and I got real into fanzines like xXx, Schism, Boiling Point, Open Your Eyes, etc. We really got swept up in the Straight Edge scene going on in the east coast, as well as the rest of the country at the time. We joined forces and did a zine named Common Sense. For a couple of kids, I’d say that zine came out great, especially in the graphics sense. That’s all Tim’s handy work. We only managed 2 full issues, but I guess since Tim went on to front Mouthpiece, Hands Tied, etc. the zine has gotten some legendary status among some folks. I sang in a band in the early 90’s named Chain to Thread. We did a demo, a split 7” with a band from Pennsylvania named Bleed, and played local shows with the standard New Jersey bands of the day (Lifetime, Dead Guy, etc.) It was fun, I guess. Oh yeah, sometime in there, I did a label for a while named Consequence (after the Ignition song of the same name.) I did a compilation 12” named ‘It’s For Life’ and a 7” by a band from Pennsylvania named Flagman. I don’t know…the less said about my life in that era of Hardcore, the better. That was pretty much where I was losing interest in ‘the scene’ and most of the music for that matter. I wasn’t down with sitting on the floor and crying and I wasn’t into chugga chugga stuff or how serious people became about their beliefs and diets. I still loved what I loved as far as the music went, but I was definitely burning out on the ‘scene’ aspect of it. I did a fanzine throughout the 90’s named ‘The 200 Pound Underground’ that dealt with more outsider/psychedelic music, but the spirit of the zine was definitely rooted in Hardcore, for sure. And I was still listening to Hardcore at that point. I was working in record stores the whole decade and if anything made my ears prick up, I would buy it. You yourself can attest I went to some Hardcore shows when I was living in Albuquerque. I distinctly remember seeing a Deathreat show out there in strip mall that gave me goose bumps. I still had the vibe in me. Sometime in the early 2000’s, I got re-introduced into the scene by a neighbor in Brooklyn. I dove right back in. Bands like Fucked Up, Violent Minds, Sex Vid, Dry Rot, Mind Eraser and Government Warning sounded great to me. It seemed like everyone had finally caught up with the history of the music and perfected it in some way. I almost felt like I had missed my time! Almost like this was the time I should have been going to shows. I would have never walked into a show in 1987 and seen someone wearing a CCM or Koro shirt! Through this neighbor, I hooked up with the editor of a magazine out of L.A named Swindle. I pitched the idea of doing an oral history of the early 80’s Midwest Hardcore scene and he went for it! The article ran in the Fall ‘08 issue of the mag. People kept telling me it would make a great book, and stupidly, I listened to them! The book version of the article came out in the summer of ‘10 on Revelation Records Publishing. I am currently working on an oral history of the New York Hardcore scene from 1980 to 1990. It has a proposed release date of Spring ‘15 on the totally freakin’ awesome Bazillion Points Publishing group out of Brooklyn.
Jesus…that took up too much time!
DR: How did you make the jump from doing zines to deciding to write a book?
Like I said above, people read the Midwest piece in Swindle and told me it would make a good book. Someone showed me how to put together a book proposal and I just decided to go for it. It seemed like the next step.
DR: Why Detroit? As someone who was an “outsider”, did you meet much resistance or, as someone taking on the task of documenting something important, were people just excited it was happening?
Since I was a kid, I was always really fascinated by that early 80’s scene that revolved around the Touch & Go label with bands like Negative Approach, Necros and The Meatmen. The look of the Touch & Go ‘zine, the juvenile humor tied to it and the sheer ferocity of the music stuck with me throughout my life. I guess it stuck because there was still something mysterious about it to me. It happened a few years before I got involved in Hardcore and the shitty quality of the printing in the zine added something arcane to the documentation of the scene. When I touched back into the Hardcore scene and saw there were kids in there half my age who wanted the same questions answered, I was determined! So when the opportunity came to delve into it with the Swindle interest, I jumped at it. When it came to doing interviews, I got nothing but love Midwest style. No resistance whatsoever. They were psyched some weirdo wanted to document what they did as kids. I made some great friends from doing the book. Have you ever been to Kalamazoo, Michigan? It’s a great town with genuine people and great fuckin’ drinkers. Dick Bowser is God!!!
DR: How did you hook up with Revelation as a publisher?
I was sending proposals to ‘real’ publishers and getting no response. Around that time, Revelation was working on the Mouthpiece discography, and I think Tim told me that Jordan Cooper was aware of me and the Detroit article in Swindle and maybe I should hit him up. He was totally into it and dealing with them was great. I didn’t have to explain why it was important this scene was documented. Jordan totally understood.
DR: Once it was released, how was the general reaction to WBSTYN? Were you happy with how it turned out?
The response seemed pretty positive across the board. Everyone from Maximum Rock ‘N’ Roll to the Wire gave it the thumbs up; which is kind of crazy when you think about it. There were some comments made about the book by pussies on message boards, but that shit fell silent all of a sudden when I got the main commenters’ phone number and gave them a talking to. But that’s another story (NLY: Jersey Style!)… I’m very happy with the way it came out. Chris Alpino did a great job with the design. The intermingling of the story with the fliers and pictures in the layout adds so much more.
Tony & Springa SSD discuss WBSTYN
DR: I’d imagine an internet cowboy getting called out was a wonderful event, I only wish I could have witnessed firsthand. Who are your influences as a writer and why?
I didn’t really come into the realization of who my influences were until way later in life. As a kid, I just liked fanzines. I appreciated them as artifacts and wasn’t really paying attention to anyone’s writing style consciously. But when the Schism book came out through Bridge Nine awhile back, I picked it up, started reading and was like ‘Holy crap, I stole my whole writing style from Al Brown!’ Here I was thinking my shit came from the lofty peaks of Bangs, Meltzer or Coley and it comes back to Al freakin’ Brown! The whole generation of snarky, opinionated writers from Vice and every other know-it-all blog owes Kid Hard a round. Of course, Tesco Vee has to be thrown under the bus. The article he wrote for MRR about record collecting is a classic I’ve been returning to since my early teens. Also, there was Combat Stance zine out of New Jersey in the late 80’s. They were sort of like Schism, but on the other side of the fence. Pro-meat eating, pro-pornography, pro-fighting and pro-anything to fuck with you. As lousy as it might sound, I still love the story about how they wanted to beat up some kid who talked shit about them in his zine, but ended up beating up the wrong guy. Classic! I really liked Giovanni Dadomo’s stuff in Sounds. That’s one guy that doesn’t get the recognition he deserves. And when I think of 70’s UK, my mind cracks up to too many names of writers I really admire like Pete Frame, Charles Shaar Murray, and Nick Kent. Dudes totally not a part of the Hardcore scene, but important to me nonetheless. Seriously, I could go on and on with this stuff, so let’s move on.
DR: Your next book is one that hits close to home for me. I know you had been tossing around a few ideas about band bios you wanted to do. How did that progress into a book about NYHC?
In ‘08, I was asked to write an article for the Village Voice about the A7 Reunion show that was being put on by Wendy Eager of Guillotine Fanzine fame and Bryan Swirsky of Complete Control booking. The piece was only supposed to be about 900 words, but I ended up interviewing about 10 to 15 people in a few weeks time; just for the simple fact that it gave me an excuse to find out more about those times in the early NYHC scene. After I was done and had way more information than I needed, I thought ‘Shit, this oughta be the next book!’ But just then is when things started to come together with the Detroit book being published by Revelation, so that idea got put on the back burner. After the Detroit book was released and the hoopla died down, I went back to the tapes and listened to them and came to the realization that this was just the tip of the iceberg. For every Stimulators or Even Worse there was a Cro-Mags or Agnostic Front. But what about No Thanks or Nausea? And for every Youth of Today or Bold there was a Stillborn or Sheer Terror. It seemed like too much of a multi-headed beast. It wasn’t something I could enter into casually. I certainly didn’t want to give up on it, but again, I put it on the back burner with the intention of coming back to it when I thought I could get my head wrapped around it properly. Every once in a while, I’d sit down and take some notes, but that was as far as it went. Ian over at Bazillion Points was keen on working with me since he saw the hustle I put into promoting the Detroit book and we were kicking around ideas for books and I think he said ‘Well, what about NYHC?’ I guess, since I always would end up talking about it with him. I said back something like ‘Funny you should say that…’ and forwarded him over all the stuff I’d been dicking around with for the past few years. And that was it. He whipped a contract out of his cloak and I signed my life away. I’m happy I finally got to take on the project. I knew if I didn’t, the regret would have haunted me for my whole life! I know I’m doing my best with it and I certainly wouldn’t come out and say it will be the ultimate book on the subject, but I’m hoping people will be happy with the end result.
DR: With the NY scene being a big extended family, how did you first approach this project? Who did you get involved with first to get this project started?
I reached out to people in the chronological order of the story. First interviews were with Jack Rabid of Big Takeover Mag and Even Worse, Peter Crowley who booked Max’s Kansas City, Jack Flanagan from The Mob, Jesse Malin of Heart Attack, Ron Rancid from the Nihilistics and people like that. I just continued to contact people as the story moved on in my mind. It was a daunting task and I am still awaiting sit downs with people as the deadline looms.
DR: Much like the first book, was it easy to contact people and get them on board or did you meet much resistance?
Since I am an east coaster, I knew it would be a different experience than the Detroit book. Midwesterners are open and friendly. New Yorkers and other east coast dwellers are skeptical of strangers and their interest in their business. I know because I am the same way! There were some who raised an eyebrow at me. I was at shows all throughout the 80’s, but I was sort of a background dweller. I wasn’t a stage diving moshaholic. So maybe since I was sort of a ‘back of the room’ kind of guy, some were like ‘Who the fuck is this guy?’ The other thing is, I’m not a pushy dude. If you don’t want to talk, you don’t want to talk. There’s some people who I would have loved to get in the book, but they didn’t seem too interested and that’s fine. I ended up with almost one hundred interviews and the stuff I got out of them works great, so, I’m cool with it.
DR: One Hundred interviews is no joke but when you think about the NYHC family, almost necessary. Was it hard to find a publisher willing to back a book about NYHC or was there interest in the idea?
Like I said above, Ian was interested in doing the book right off the bat. He presented the idea to me, I’m pretty sure. I’ve been very lucky that the two publishers I have worked with thus far are custom made for the stuff I wanted to write about. And thank god for that because I am not a salesman and I’m definitely bad at selling myself! The few times I have tried to sell ideas in the mainstream realm of publishing has been very awkward. I had an agent for a while and the whole ordeal was really weird to me coming from the DIY background of Hardcore.
DR: How many hours of interviews did you do? What were some of your favorite moments?
Every interview was illuminating, don’t get me wrong. But the interviews that I was most proud of were the ones with people that don’t speak much these days. Duane from Some provided some amazing insight. Ron Rancid from the Nihilistics….my hero! I’d stare at the back cover of their LP for hours when I was like 11 and 12 and to have him be a 20 minute drive from me is amazing. Stigma is as honest as they come. Wendy from Guillotine Fanzine was an inspiration for years, so it’ was nice to speak with her a few times. Jack Rabid as well. Seriously, I did almost 80 interviews in a year’s time frame. It’s been a whirlwind, so I’m sure I forgot something. Let’s just say it was a honor to speak to each and every person.
DR: What era(s) will the book cover? Was there anything you had to cut out due to space/time constraints? Anything/anyone you wish you could have included that you didnt get to?
The book will cover from 1980 to 1990. In regards to space or time constraints, that’s up the editor. Honestly, I wish I could give full chapters to personal favorites like Krakdown, Y.D.L, Beyond, etc. but you have to be realistic. But that’s what second editions are for.
DR: When can we expect this one to hit shelves?
The book is proposed to hit the shelves in late Spring 2015. (Ed Note: it was released early and is available now!)
DR: You have been involved in documenting 2 of the most important underground music scenes in the US. How does that feel?
It feels great. I live in a cardboard box and put my Juicy Fruit on layaway while everyone thinks I’m banking off Hardcore.
DR: Next project(s), future plans?
Let’s see where this goes. Ask me when the book is finally finished. In all honesty, the idea of retiring to Northern New Mexico and listening to 80’s era Grateful Dead sets until my corneas explode sounds great.
DR: Given the chance what 5 books would you want to write?
‘Renegade Nuns on Wheels’
‘I’ll Take The Alphabet’
‘The Apple Pie Hub Bub’
‘Don Rettman – Man or Myth?’
‘The Gimps’ Dirty Body’
Tony along with Richie Birkenhead, Mike Judge, and Paul Bearer
at one of the events for the NYHC Book release
Be sure to check out Tony’s new online column http://noisey.vice.com/blog/roger-miret-interview-no-one-rules