My parents used to let me put bands up for the night, always encouraging me in my life and my pursuits do your parents influence both you and Pete?
They were just cool with what we choose to do they were worried that we needed to fall back on, but as the band started to take off more and more, they still encourage us. My dads always asking about money and how are you doing? When are you going to get a real job with security, still to this day, it doesnt matter to him you know?
What do they do?
Well there both retired now, my mum when she was younger was a social worker & she just did a load of babysitting stuff. My dad worked for a city bank, started as a teller and worked his way up as far as he could go, he always wished that we went to college because he saw that even though he was sometimes smarter than the people that were coming in from college because they had education they would get a better position or more money.
It was 1986 when the band formed wasnt it? How old were you then?
I was I think 19
So you finished high school and went straight into it?
Well I started working and we did the band, so we were working and going to school at the same time, so I never really went to college it was a vocational school. I wanted to do graphic art but as the band started to take off more and more we were like finish with the course then go back, and I just kept working and doing the band, it built up from there.
Your first show was March the 6th 1986 well its now Saturday Feb 7th 2004 18 years an amazing accomplishment for any one of group of people that can continue to be innovative and stay true to themselves. But for a band that doesnt conform to the typical mainstream music its an incredible feat.
Its weird I really dont think about it sometimes, its really incredible and were really glad when people are acknowledge it though, cause sometimes we feel we get taken for granted. You know Sick Of It All are coming round next year but Id rather go see some bullshit bands reunion you know? It kind of gets me when I see people foaming at the mouth for a reunion show and its like there YEAHall these hardcore kids going there record was great and its like yeah there record was great at the time. But most of these bands that we know when they were leaving, quit the music, quit hardcore and the hardcore scene to do other things. They would then sit there and say how they fucking hate hardcore this and that and then they try to come back and make a little money. Some of them are cool but a lot of its bullshit. Underdog was one of my favourite bands and a few years ago they did a reunion tour and the singer in the middle of the set said Im doing this mainly for Russell the bassplayer who really wanted to get the band back together. They were supposed to write a new record but he just quit after that and said he wasnt into it anymore.
I remember going to a Madball reunion show about 4 years ago and then they just did another reunion show!
Yeah, exactly, I thought they were stupid for breaking up in the first place. But they had a lot of personal problems and a lot of people say Demonstrate My Styles the best record. But theyd just put out Hold It Down and if you actually sit down and listen to it its them complete its the best record and they dropped what two weeks in Europe and broke up after that.
What was the scene like when you first got into hardcore?
It was smaller, very tight knit. People were very open-minded back then it was different it didnt matter how you looked. What attracted me first was the sound & the energy, but what really sold it to me was going to the shows. Youd sit there hanging out with all these kids in a club and all of a sudden the guy next to you gets up and starts playing. They would blow you away, I was like wow! This is great; anybody can get up and do this so that was why I was really into it.
There was no pretentiousness, youd have bands that were amazing players like the Chrome Suckers and then youd have bands like Mental Abuse who were just raw, from the heart who didnt necessarily play well but they played there songs from there hearts. The shows made me want to be part of the scene even more, I went to as many hardcore shows as I could, I remember the Victim Of Pain/ Agnostic Front tour and we went into the show, we had long hair, me, Pete & Armand, and the whole place had shaved heads, the sound man, it was the tribute to A.F. coming home from touring that record and I remember sitting there talking to somebody and they said, you like Agnostic Front and I said I think Victim Of Pains an amazing album bla bla bla, and we started talking he thought it was cool and it was Vinnie Stigma, he just got up and played guitar and thats what amazes me
That you can get involved, I saw you guys at Reading about five or six years ago and its cool the accessibility of the scene to just be able to call someone up like a promoter and arrange an interview with a band you like.
On the video you talk of feeling like an outcast growing up in Queens, that you werent one of those kids that went to the gym, instead youd just get madder and go to the Sunday matinees and CBGBs I guess were a release for you which goes back to what we were just talking about. The accessibility setting up zines, kids going along to
Yeah Its crazy like you said its a place where you can go and just fit in and of course later on as every scene gets bigger it developed a style and a look and there were several looks, the cro-mags look and the whole Youth Of Today youth crew look and we were kind of the dirt-asses in the middle who werent cool enough to have tattoos but we werent rich enough to have the fucking $150 air Jordans that were out at the time, we just had the cheap imitation ones.
Whats it like when guys youve taken on the road have then gone onto form there own bands? Toby went on to sing for H2O, Tim with Ensign, Ben now drumming fort Snapcase
You cant blame me for any of those bands (laughter) A lot of roadies seem to go on to form other bands or play in bands OR if there really lucky they get picked up by other bands that become really big and then become high paid roadies one of our first drum techs a kid, TS, drum teched for us for years he went to do Rancid, went from Rancid to the Beastie Boys, but then the Beastie Boys cancelled there tour and the tour manager goes well I have another tour it was 98 then he went from 98 to Vanessa Williams then worked for years with No Doubt and now since No Doubts not working hes working for James Brown and hes still a hardcore guy, smokes a hell of a lot of weed now though he was all straight edge when we first met him.
What were your fondest memories of growing up? (As a kid)
I just loved the freedom. When youre a kid you just come home from school, or summertime was great you could do what ever the hell you wanted to do, you didnt have to worry about making rent, you had the freedom and it was so much fun. Just hanging out meet people, get on our bikes and ride the hell all over queens. It was great.
Whats Queens like as an area? Isnt like the cultural epicentre of New York, real mixed ethnicity?
There are little industrial areas cause its mainly housing. One night the Murphys Law guys were dropping me off out of the van and they were like oh this is a nice area.
What sort of bands came from Queens then?
You had Regan Youth
Yeah, they all came from Jackson Heights, they were great, I saw Gorilla Biscuits first show, in the basement of an apartment building in Jackson Heights, it was some kids birthday, we didnt know the kid but they wanted us to come down and check them out.
How did they go down?
It was fun, I believe (Ernie?) from Token Entry was playing drums at the time. Its funny cause they had songs like Slut about some girl songs you write when you first write you know?
Real punk songs. But there was like Gorilla Biscuits, Regan Youth bands like Outburst. But the big ones were Regan Youth, Murphys Law, Leeway, so much good shot coming out of Queens, now you have stuff like Outburst and Killing Time and we used to call them the Jackson Heights group metal cause they were the pioneers of that sound & Sworn Enemy who are from Queens also have taken it to another fucking level.
I see you have the jacket?
Yeah, its a good jacket fits nice (laughs)
What about the straight edge bands starting up and that whole springing to life? Like Youth Of Today coming up, just from my perspective it didnt seem like until the early nineties when people begun taking it seriously
Well see I dont know because after that we heard a lot of stuff and Craig was in a load of bands and will tell us stuff now but when people talk about Youth of Today you cannot take away from them the fact that they gave the whole scene a shot in the arm. Cro-Mags, Murphys Law were big instead of getting up and playing all the songs they just to be different instead of playing the songs that the kids would want to hear theyd do fucking Led Zeppelin covers all through the set which is fun cause they caved in with that shit (laughter) yeah it went from one extreme to the other. So Youth Of Today came along and were a burst of energy they were just like giving the whole scene in New York a big shot ion the arm people started forming bands. I remember one time at this rehearsal studio in New York and it was like in one room we had Youth Of Today in another Gorilla Biscuits, Sick Of It All, then there was Agnostic Front in the other room we were playing at the same times it was great you know?
As far as the whole staying true and all that stuff, we never said anything but Pete doesnt do anything, I dont do anything, I dont call myself anything and that was one of the things we did cause I knew someday it comes back. I think one of the funniest moments was when we were playing a benefit for Amnesty International and backstage upstairs we were looking out the window at the kids on the street. There was me and the singer from Murphys Law, Jimmy, we looked out and we saw Matt the singer from Bold standing there with a 40oz so we started yelling out the window Matt you broke my heart when you sold out the X you broke the edge (pretending to cry) and hes looking around hiding with fear, and were yelling shit at him, driving him crazy, it was great. I think the bad thing is some of those kids didnt really you know keep it up so they could start being more socially acceptable
Which was the whole point of it in the first place (being different set apart form the crowd)
I understand though, I think Sick Of It All would have been bigger, faster, if wed all smoked weed you know. We did a tour with the Bad Brains, we got a long with them great but the road crew and the people in the music industry who liked Bad Brains at the time were looking at us & said you kids dont party? Wed go out with bands like DRI who were like rock stars back then and people would just look at us and how weird we were, we would basically sit in our hotel room and make stupid videos and show the guys of DRI who were right next door snorting coke of girls asses, and theyd push the girl of there bed to watch this dumb video wed just made in our room.
Youre real fans of making home videos?
We were back then, now, I dunno, now that were bored of it, were also lazy now, but if we could ever get a hold of like a dvd / video compilation of all the tapes we made with our first bassplayer, Craigs in a lot of it too, Just stupid shits, camera tricks and things like that.
More to come in the next week...got to keep you kids hungry for more!