Thursday, 4 December 2008

YD-I interview (new)...

I recently interviewed YD-I, the great and intense hardcore band who put out the classic 'A Place In The Sun' 7" in 1983, and are currently active again. Such a primal sounding band, just watch the video at the bottom to hear just how brutal they were live compared to many of their contemporaries, a guitar led wall of noise. OUT FOR BLOOD!

As a sidenote, listen to Corrosion Of Conformity - Animosity.

Q 1. How and why did YD-I form? Were you all friends?

A. Neil (Jackal) vocals and Brian (Rev Big B) guitar formed Philly's first HardCore band,"The Legion of Decency"which quickly self destructed. Brian then moved to New Jersey where he played guitar in other bands for a while. Neil hooked up with Howard, drums, fresh out of "Pure Hell", Mike Cole on guitar and Chuck on bass. This was the original "Y-Di".Chuck soon left and Brian came back to Philly and took over on bass. This was the main line up through most of the 80's. Eventually,other projects became more important and the band split. About 5 years ago Neil, Brian (now on guitar) and Howard were convinced to do a one shot reunion with Chris Frascella on bass. The show was killer and the band was approached by management to keep going. Mike now lives in Arizona but has input in all we do. We bounce between 3 bass now, Chris Angelino, Chris F, and the sexy Joi Lacour.

Q 2. What was the scene in Pennsyvania like around the time YD-I started playing?

A. The scene in Philly was second to none. All the west coast bands came through (Black Flag, Circle Jerks, DK's etc) and we all became friends. We became tight with most DC and NY bands as well. Harley from NY, Tesco V, and Sab from Iron Cross continue to be good friends.

Q 3. How did you all get into hardcore punk in the first place? What was it that appealed? Can you remember the first band you heard described as 'hardcore'?

A. We were all into and continue to be into old school punk as well as HEAVY heavy metal like Motorhead and Venom. We loved hardcore because it was so over the fuckin' top but especially because it was OUR SCENE. WE MADE IT! RIGHT HERE IN THE GOOD OL USA. We didn't follow anybody else's rules and there weren't any rules to follow. We all just had the same ideas.The first bands were Black Flag,The Circle Jerks,and the Germs!

Q 4. What did your parents/families think of you getting into hardcore? How differently do you think it was seen, to be a punk, in the early 80s compared to today? Did you constantly get hassled?

A. Our families didn't give a shit. Were we hassled? No fucking way! Normal people would cross the street to keep away from us. Back then we all wore spurs on our boots so they could hear us coming a block away. Today nothings new. It's all been seen before. Nobody's shocked, nobody even notices.

Q 5. Was there a defining band of the time you all admired, or were impressed with? What bands were intense and ALWAYS put on a good show?

A. Black Flag, Minor Threat, Iron Cross, GBH, Discharge, Y-Di , the MeatMen, Flipper, Negative Approach etc. We were all always intense. We were all hardcore but we all had a little something special that made us a little different. Most of us were zipping at the time as well. The only bad shows were when someones van broke down and they didn't show up.

Q 6. In sound YDI had more in common with the more aggressive bands from DC and Boston or the Midwest, than other more melodic Philly bands. Did you often play with out-of-town bands, and did bands like SSD, Minor Threat, Negative Approach etc influence you? Also, were any of the band straight-edge?

A. See the other answer for most of that. I don't think we were influenced by other bands but a similar train of thought and playing style did make us sound more like many of the DC bands especially. We were all friends and always playing together so maybe something was in the food... No, nobody in Y-Di was straight edge. In fact we lost a drummer Eric (played drums on the Black Dust LP) to drugs. RIP bro.

Q 8. YD-I had/have 2 members who are black. Did you ever come across much ignorance or racism within the scene? Is the song CATEGORIZED addressing this?

A. Yeah, 2 blacks/American Indians and the Rev. Big B who is a Jew. No, we never saw any racism from anyone but we always give each other shit. But we are a tight motherfucking family. Categorized is more of a finacial/social status thing.

Q 9. You appear on the GET OFF MY BACK Philly comp LP, the regions version of 'Flex Your Head' or 'This Is Boston Not LA'... Can you say a bit about who put this out, and the other bands?

A: I don't really remember much about it other then we all hated the cover.

Q 10. What about Blood Bubble Records?

A: It's our own little unsuccessfull label. Yeah, other then music we're very much into horror movies! Especially Neil.

Q 11. While many dismissed the 'Black Dust' LP as being heavy metal, with fresh ears today it is a lot more punk than people give it credit for. What's your take on this? Were you trying to branch out?

A: At the time we were a little bummed. It was like "they just don't get it". Did we care? NO! Did it sell? YES! So we guess there were enough people out there who liked it. Do I see it on E-Bay? YES! People still ask for it and they got it on the "OUT FOR BLOOD"CD. We weren't trying to "branch out" as such. We still played and still do play the old stuff. It's just that when we got together to write songs that's what came out. There is still alot of KILLER SHIT we recorded but never released that you all might see very soon (hint hint). Psycho Bitch, Six White Horses, and Dirty Dog Day for those who might know.

Q 12. Do you have any funny stories regarding YDI, like an incident at a show? Also, of what show do you have the fondest memories?

A. There are tons of funny/scary stories that are all good but maybe best kept to ourselves. Lots of great memories as well but the one that comes to mind the quickest was only a few months back when Sab from Iron Cross jumped on stage with us to sing their killer song, Crucified. THAT was the shit brother!

Q 13. Why did you decide to start playing shows again, and how has it been so far?

A. See the above answer for why we got back together. It's been a blast so far and we'll keep doing as long as it's fun. Nothing blows our minds more then looking into a crowd and seeing the REALLY YOUNG KIDS singing along. The fact that they know the words tingles our balls.

Q 14. Were you approached about the YD-I footage being included on the American Hardcore movie? Did you see/like the film in the end?

A. Yes we were approached. I guess mainly because they were good enough to ask if they could use the footage as well as pay us. Of course we saw it and we loved it. We were honoured to be part of it. Our hats go off to those guys, GREAT JOB!

Q 15. Where do you think early 80s American hardcore punk fits in to the history of music, and are you proud of what YD-I achieved?

A. We are very proud of what we, the other bands, promoters, and everyone who contributed did. I think it's a huge part of music history. Has there been anything new that's better? Green Day and their likes can blow me. The only good stuff today is the new kids and their idea of what hardcore means to them. The rest is crap.

Q 16. How did you feel when Brutal Truth covered 'I Killed My Family'? Does it ever surprise you that there's still constant interest in YD-I?

A. Yeah, it's cool they did it. But did they give us writing credit? Did they give us a cut of the money they made? Ask them for those anwers. I don't mean to sound like it's about the money cause it's not (Rev.Big B is a Jew though). But in these times we all gotta eat and if we deserve to be paid we should be. Yes, it always surprises us that people still want to see us and listen to our music.

Q 17. Do you have a nice record collection that would pay off all your debts if you were to sell it on Ebay?

A. I don't have any debts right now so I'll hold on them for now. Yeah,I bought everything back then and I've saved it all!

Q 18. How important do you see having some kind of message, whether it be political or social or whatever, to playing in a hardcore band? Where did YDI fit in with the whole MRR peace punk scene versus the more apolitical tougher hardcore bands?

A. Except for a few songs we were not very political. We NEVER preached. We were more about survival and fighting back. Because we are usually armed and dangerous peace is not for us. We don't believe in fighting other peoples battles though. If you're a friend, we'll help you out but learn to take care of yourself! But because we're nuts we love to have fun as well. If you want to party with us, cool. If you want to fuck with us, don't. We've been at this a long time,it's what we do.

Q 19. Any last words?

A. For a bunch of old fucks we're alright aren't we?

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

CRO-MAGS 1984 demo songs...

Here's a treat, 2 previously unreleased 1984 CRO-MAGS demo songs released as bonus tracks on the remastered CD of 'Age Of Quarrel':

1. You'd Be The Death Of Me.
2. Hard Times (early version).

There's 3 demo songs on the CD, but I didn't want to upload them all since I have no idea if this CD has even officially been released yet. Anyway, if anyone has any info (i.e. the line-up on this demo, when the CD is being released properly etc) please leave a comment.

Note how the riff 1 minute 23 seconds in on 'You'd Be The Death Of Me' was later re-used in the song 'Face The Facts'.

BILL BONDSMEN interview...

A nice surprise for me was picking up the 'Swallowed By The World' LP by the Midwestern hardcore band BILL BONDSMEN earlier this year. I hadn't heard much by them before but this is a really good record: high energy classic Midwest style hardcore punk, taking cues from LP-era NEGATIVE APPROACH, POISON IDEA and NECROS (check out the guitar intro to 'Answer Me'), with a keen straight up rock n roll sensibility too. The fact that they did a (great) split 7" with OUT COLD should tell you something about what this band is all about. Anyway I interviewed them via email a little while ago, without realising Dan from Mad At The World Records had done a good one on his blog! Oh well, enjoy it anyway.

Q 1. Why did Bill Bondsmen start, and what bands had any of you been in previously (if you want to answer that question...)? Also, where did the name come from?

Tony : First show was Mother's Day 2004 with Nick Chunks on the drums. Supporting Damage Deposit if I recall right... I was in a grind/power violence band that went on for a while, recorded a pretty well recieved demo and then shit the bed. I think someone else already addressed who Bill Bonds is. If not, just google him or watch him on Youtube. Bill Bonds + Bail Bondsmen (dude who pays to get you out of jail til your court date) = Bill Bondsmen.

Mark: I don't mind talking about other bands I've been in. There's not much to talk about because this band is the only one that actually released anything, except my first band when i was 13- The Clown Butchers "Eat Shit and Die" tape, limited to 25 copies.

Q 2. How does it feel being from Detroit, not only the home of classic hardcore (Negative Approach, Angry Red Planet etc) but of classic music in general (Stooges, MC5 etc)...Have most of these bands influenced Bill Bondsmen in some form or another?

T : Ummm... I dunno what to say to that really. I mean, Detroit is a whole different state of mind really. All the things you've heard are probably true. I guess I feel stoked on it because when you tell people from other places in the world that you're from the D they seem to connect to it in both good (music, cars, etc) and bad (crime, death, fear, etc)ways. I guess being from here kinda takes some of the edge off of it. Once you've talked to the "legends" the mystery is gone and they're just folks. I'm sure it's had an influence though. And you also forgot the incredible boom of soul, blues, rock, etc that our city has enjoyed for many a year.

Mark: I can't say any of those bands influenced me, indirectly they did I'm sure. I grew up in Lansing which is 70 miles away so by the time I heard most of those bands, I already had a style of creating music. But supposedly we have a Detroit/Midwest sound, maybe the bad weather and rusty cars are the secret ingredients.

Amando: It's hard to tell how I feel about being from Detroit, since I don't know any other way. I tell you what, some people in other towns still take a step back when I say I'm from here. All of those bands you mention have spent alot of time on my stereo.

Q 3. How did you end up releasing on ACME Records? Are Out Cold like your brother-band in a sense?

T : John Evicci (Acme Records/Out Cold/Bad Chopper/etc etc) is a friend of mine. That's really all there is to it. Just a good dude who hooked it up for us. No real crazy backstory. Believe it or not, we've still never played with Out Cold. Something happens every time we even talk about it. Great band though. Probably one of my all time faves.

Amando: Tony hooked up the Out Cold/ACME flavor. He's known Evicci for quite a few years. I wouldn't say that we're quite at brother band status with Out Cold. They've been around alot longer. They're more of an uncle band to us. The cool uncle who'd buy for you and give you his old tapes.

Q 4. Like Out Cold, Bill Bondsmen seem to play stripped down fast rock n roll rather than a uniform version of another hardcore band, and there are clear non-hardcore influences at play...what are you thoughts on this?

T : Ummm... Listening to other music beyond hardcore helps. That's all I can think of. We all listen to a lot of different stuff and i'm sure it's had an effect on how things come out. And this isn't dogging on hardcore. Just that expanding your horizons music wise helps you come up with something more than just the same stuff I guess...

Mark: We all listen to different stuff, not just hardcore punk so it comes across when we make up the songs. Good, real music doesn't only exist in punk rock land.

Amando: My thought? Of course there's some non-hardcore touches here and there. Who wants to sound just like another band? (apparently a lot of bands, judging from what I've heard in recent years).

Q 5. What are your 3 favourite 80s Midwest hardcore bands, and why? I hear a bit of Die Kreuzen to Bill Bondsmen's sound...

T : Ahh the music nerd question. Tough one... Hmmm... Die Kreuzen, NA, S.B.L.C. DK for just being weird. That lp is just all over the place. Like Void after a steady diet of dark wave and 70's arena rock. Very cool. NA because their "Fucking NA maaaaaaan!" and SBLC because I grew up being deafened by them, Feisty Cadavers, etc. Good memories.

Mark: Tough question. Today i'll go with N.A., Zero Boys, and Crucifucks because they're from my hometown and I saw them play a basement show back in the day.

Amando: My 3 favorites off the top of my head....of course NA, lets just get that one out of the way. Effigies were good especially some of their more Gang of Four sounding jams (Security). Zero Boys are in there too, cause they had hooks and I like hooks.

Q 6. When did you first get in to hardcore? Can you remember the first record you heard, and band you saw live? What was the scene like in Destroit in the 90s?

T : Ummm... I was really lucky and had a way cool mom so I actually had the Suicidal Tendencies LP when I was about 9. I was all into metal like Venom, Celtic Frost, etc and read about Suicidal and was lucky enough to have a high school radio station that played all that stuff and then played punk rock on the program afterwards. I think the first punk related stuff I heard was Devo as a little kid. Hardcore would probably be Dead Kennedys on the radio station I mentioned. First band I saw was 7 Seconds with Token Entry on the Soulforce Revolution tour. Sucked balls. But I got an invite to a better show later and it snowballed. Ummm.... A lot more fighting back then, nazis, weirdos etc. It was a lot scarier to go to gigs for sure. Lots of great bands though.

Mark: I first got into hardcore because SST used to have ads in a heavy metal magazine and they offered a free sampler tape. I was drawn to the artwork of the Black Flag covers and then once I got the tape in the mail, the sound of it was 180 degrees different than what I was listening to. Even though I already had my punk band and wrote the songs, the stuff on that tape sounded so raw and intense. I didn't know anyone who was into punk or hardcore, but I knew other people did somewhere. The first show or "concert" I went to was Billy Idol on the Rebel Yell tour. 3000 people there so it wasn't really a "show."

Amando: Detroit in the 90's: Early 90's: Lots of beards, oversized t shirts, patches, corny breakdowns, t-shirt sleeves as headbands etc.

Q 7. What is one of your favourite underrated bands (from the past) you want to spread the love for?

T : SBLC and Feisty Cadavers. Look em up. I would say Swell Maps but that's probably a bit out of place. So yeah.... Original answer.

Amando: I'm gonna give love to some of the unsung Detroit bands. Cinecyde (quite possibly the first Detroit punk band) S.B.L.C. (rough hardcore punk from the roughest part of town. Flesh & Blood still blows away half of the stuff that's considered hardcore today). Feisty Cadavers (my all time favorite Detroit band! Dying Art gets played all the time!!).

Q 8. The recent LP is great and a real achievement considering it can often be hard for hardcore bands to translate from 7" on to full length format...Do you think punk often works better on a short urgent format (i.e. a 7")?

T : Probably the shorter format. But, if you put the effort in it can translate. I think it depends on the song writing more than anything. Anyone can hash out 10 songs that all sound the same. Taking the time to write a bunch that are similar but different enough is another story...

Q 9. On a related note, what are your 5 favourite hardcore LPs EVER and why? Tough question I'm sure...

T : Germs (GI) because side one is flawless. Poison Idea "Kings Of Punk" because they were. GISM "Detestation" because it's so weird. Black Flag "Damaged" because i wore it out more than once. Batallion Of Saints "Second Coming" because it rules. This is all I can think of right now.

Mark: My favorites are ones that I heard early on; Bad Brains s/t tape,Descendents - Milo Goes To College, All - Trailblazer live,Gorilla Biscuits - Start Today, Circle Jerks - Group Sex, and all of Minor Threat's records. That's more than 5 but so what.

Amando: Poison Idea - Feel the Darkness. To me (and alot others) that is the definitve PI album. So burly and fierce sounding!!! Dwarves - Blood, Guts & Pussy. The sound they got off a 4 track is amazing. Nihilistic, trashy and over in 14 minutes!! Fear - the Album. When I was a teenager. I got into Fear and made a homemade stencil. I wanted to put it all over my skateboard (which had bright green grip tape). There was no black spray paint in the house, and you couldn't buy it if you were under 18. So rather than ask my friends if they had black spray paint, I proceeded to use what I found in the house (shit brown spray paint) and paint the stencil all over my bright green grip tape. Every time I hear any song from that album, I think of that skateboard. Negative Approach - Tied Down. Not as good as their 7" but I gotta put it in there. It's a Detroit thing. N.W.A. - Straight Outta Compton. To me this was as hardcore as any Flag, Bad Brains or Minor Threat record. This record scared the shit out of many parents and even the FBI!

Q 10. What's the worst show you've ever played, and why? What's been the best?

T : Second show maybe? I dunno. Bunny (second drummer) had just joined that day. We practiced for hours. I drank way too much. etc. Probably the best was Limoges, France. We played my friend's birthday party and people went apeshit.

Mark: The worst show for me was some fest in Europe where it was all crust bands except for Idiot's Rule. 99% of the crowd walked out half way through our first song. We don't sound like watered down metal so they didn't want to hear us. People are so locked into whatever style, they can't appreciate anything else. Very lame. The best show for me was maybe at Kopi in Berlin last year.

Amando: I don't really know what would constitute being the worst show, at least in recent memory. I would probably have to say last March @ the 2500 club. It wasn't the worst, lets just say it was the least best. There was a pretty heavy snowstorm (which kept the out of town band from showing up) and we basically played to the bar. The best one to me is probably when we played at the same club in December 06 to a crowd of drunken Santas (there's an annual pub crawl in Detroit called Santarchy where the crawlers dress as Santa Claus and who happened to show up just as we were starting our set). It was just such an ridiculous sight and Tony was antagonizing the whole lot as well. Good Times. Sharing the stage for a week last year with the Cola Freaks was a close second.

Q 11. Dream 5 band line up for a show, any bands past and present, go for it. Also, what venue...

T : Nolan Strong, Feisty Cadavers, Germs, Swell Maps, "Space Ritual" era Hawkwind. In a basement.

Mark: Stooges,New York Dolls,Descendents,Slayer,and the Plasmatics in my basement.

Amando: Ramones/Black Flag (chavo era)/ Prince and the Revolution/SBLC/Doggy Style @ The Falcon Club in Hamtramck.

Q 12. Have Bill Bondsmen ever played any cover songs and if so, what songs?

T : Alan Milman Sect, Big Boys, Zero Boys, Descendents, Naked Raygun, NA, Feisty Cadavers. Some of this is recorded. Most is not.

Amando: In the past we did Fun Fun Fun by the Big Boys, Amphetamine Addiction by Zero Boys, Stitches/I Wanna Kill Somebody by Allan Milman Sect and most recently Live Like Vampires by Feisty Cadavers. On the Euro tour we did Can't Tell No One by NA (I know...we're reaching pretty deep, huh) and Kabuki Girl by the Descendents.

Q 13. What's your favourite Japanese hardcore band of all time, and why?

T : GISM because SKV is friggin awesome.

Mark: Teengenerate! oh wait they're not hardcore...Vivisick because we played with them.

Q 14. Tell us about how the song 'Comfortably Dumb' came about, and what it was about?

T : A stupid nazi that came to a show who had something like white pride or white power or whatever tattooed on his head and had all these other dodgy tats. My friend and I were debating asking him how the job hunt's been since getting out of jail. The thing about Pink Floyd is about the crossed hammers from "The Wall" and the fact that the hammerskins wear them and probably don't realize it makes as much sense as them wearing a tie dyed shirt.

Mark: That was one of the first songs we wrote together after I joined the band and kind of showed the direction we were going in, not lyrically but musically.

Q 15. How important are lyrics to Bill Bondsmen, and to hardcore in general in your opinion? What one hardcore vocalist from the past impresses you the most lyrically? (Jerry A is a personal favourite).

T : Depends on my mood I guess. I try to write something more than just "_________ SUCKS!" stuff because it's too easy. Jerry is a great writer but for my money gimme Darby Crash as far as punk rock goes.

Mark: I think the lyrics are important and I think it's one of our strengths.

Q 16. How important do you see political or social issues to hardcore? Do you think bands need to have some sort of 'message' or not? How have you seen politics within hardcore change over the years...

T : That's a loaded question. I'm not really into being preached to. But, I don't want a buncha gooney GG wannabes around either. I'll take six of one, half dozen of the other for 100 Alex. The evolution as I recall it : Nazis, Care Bears, fighters, Care Bears, drunks/druggies, Care Bears, ad nausem.

Mark: There's room for every style of lyrics and messages. People should be pissed off about what's going on today, so there's plenty to scream about.

Amando: It seems the scene in general is a little less uptight, a little less PC than it was when I was younger. Of course, the uptightness/pc vibe was a reaction to the super macho/violent vibe that preceded it. I think now it's at a happy medium.

Q 17. You are all older than the average hardcore kid, am I correct? Do you think it's reconsilable to be in o hardcore punk but also have a so called "real life" (career, perhaps a family, home etc)? Isn't it the kind of music that's just "for the kids"?

T : Ehh... Yeah. I think i'm a hair younger than Amado and we're both 32 right now. I dunno. It's just always been there. Like eating and breathing or something... I don't really think about it until we play a gig on a weeknight.

Mark: For a lot of people it is "just for the kids," a phase they go through. Obviously for us it's not a passing fad. It's a good thing there's lifers out there. My record collection would suck if there weren't.

Amando: I'm in my early 30's. I don't give a fuck. I do what I want. And if doing what I want includes having a family (which I do) as well as playing the kind of music I love with my best friends, then I'm for it. As far as this music being strictly "For the Kids?"... fuck it, I'm an old kid!

Q 18. Last words?

T : Thanks.

Mark: Bush is a war criminal.

Amando: Thanks for the questions! Live every week like its Shark Week!

All photos from the band's myspace.

Friday, 31 October 2008

Finally, an update. New SONS OF ISHMAEL interview...

Updates won't be quite so regular I'm afraid, but to kick things off again here's a detailed interview with some members of SONS OF ISHMAEL I did recently, and it is infact one of my favourite interviews I've done.

If you're not familiar, SONS OF ISHMAEL were a great hardcore band from around Ontario, Canada, that existed from 1985 to 1991. They played a fast thrashy style akin to classic DRI, early JERRYS KIDS or VERBAL ABUSE, high energy and manic hardcore that was best captured on their debut 7" from 1985, 'Hayseed Hardcore'. Listen to some tracks on their myspace here ('Break Free' is a classic!). GREAT STUFF.

Myke Canzi – guitar
Paul Morris – guitar
Daragh Hayes – bass
Chris Black - drums

Q 1. How did you first get into hardcore? Did you get into the old Canadian bands (DOA, Neos etc) first? Can you remember the first band you heard described as 'hardcore' punk rather than just punk?

Myke: I heard the DOA song "Fuck You" on the local college radio station and was hooked. The shock value of the cussing had a lot to do with it. DOA in turn was the gateway band to louderharderfaster stuff like MDC.

Chris: I’d sort of heard punk and HC in the background at house parties, but then a friend gave me a cassette tape with Black Flag’s My War on one side, and Dead Kennedy’s “A Skateboard Party” on the other. I listened to that tape every fucking night while I delivered ribs in my Datsun 510. I then found “Brave New Waves” on CBC Radio.

Paul: My introduction was in December 1982 when we saw a Dead Kennedys album at the Sam The Record Man store and bought it. I was introduced to more of it by listening to fuzzy broadcasts from Carleton University radio in Ottawa when it was audible over the static. As I heard more of it I was introduced to NEOS, PORCELAIN FOREHEAD, STRETCH MARKS etc. but no more or less than the English or American stuff of the time. DOA were already more well known than the rest at the time as even they got records into Sam The Record Man too. At the time hardcore in rural areas was pretty much a well kept secret and few knew of it. Apart from DOA or DK's, you couldn't buy the records any place but the big cities.

Daragh: I also grew up in a fairly small town and information about punk and hardcore wasn't so easy to come by at the time. My parents are from Ireland and Germany and I have very distinct memories of visiting family and having the BOOMTOWN RATS make a big impression on me when I saw them on Irish TV, which led to me getting my first LP. Later I was interested in finding something more aggressive than the "new wave" I was listening to at the time but what I considered to be "old" British punk like the Sex Pistols wasn't all that appealing to me. From time to time I would find the odd used LP in my small hometown and buy it based on the cover and as Chris mentioned, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation radio program Brave New Waves helped introduce those of us living away from the big city centers to music we wouldn't have heard otherwise. Two bands that finally provided the "A-ha!!!!" moment I was waiting for were the DEAD KENNEDYS and BLACK FLAG and fairly soon tape trading and fanzines helped fill in more of the gaps.

Q 2. What was the first hardcore band you saw live, if you remember? What attracted you to the music in the first place (the energy, the anger, the haircuts?...)...

Myke: My first hardcore show was DOA at Assumption Hall on the University of Windsor campus in February 1984. I was really worried for my safety before I went. I didn't know what to expect from "punk rockers." In the end, they were very forgiving of my mullet.

Chris: I went to see Youth Brigade at the Latvian House in Toronto in ’84 or ‘85, but they didn’t show up so I saw the Bunchofuckingoofs. I thought they played soooo fast! What attracted me was the swearing and anger. That and it was so different from everything else you could hear on the radio at that time. It sounded dangerous.

Myke: That's it exactly. It sounded dangerous.

Paul: I remember it very well. In fact it was July 1983 and the band was MDC at the Ottawa Boys and Girls Club. There were 4 bands, it was hotter than Hades and I was hooked. First and foremost I was attracted by the music and it's frenetic pace but I cannot really pinpoint what else made it so great.

Daragh: Well, technically the first real band I ever saw was JOHNNY CASH. However, since I was in Grade 3 at the time it wasn't all that interesting and running outside to play "cops and robbers" with my brother took precedence. Later I saw some "new wave" stuff like CABARET VOLTAIRE and some reggae like Toronto's 20th CENTURY REBELS but as I lived about two hours from Toronto it seemed like it took forever before I was finally able to catch a HC band live. I couldn't drive and only one or two of my friends in my hometown were really into the same music at the time. Also, I didn't know anyone in Toronto so the extent of my exposure to things happening there was taking a bus ride to the city to buy records, zines and to collect flyers. On a few occasions I bought tickets for shows and would get turned away from the club for being too young and just take the bus back home. In the summer of 86 I finally saw a flyer for an all ages show with some local bands and a band called NO SYSTEM from Boston. I took the bus up to Toronto knowing that I was finally going to get in! Circle pits, fast music, buying fanzines, it all seemed pretty fantastic.

Q 3. What was the scene like around Meaford, Ontario like before SONS OF ISHMAEL started? Was it an active scene, or did you travel to other cities (ie Toronto) in order to play shows?

Paul: I joined the band after they left Meaford and went to Toronto, so I cannot comment much. However, being from a tiny town of 1000 in eastern Ontario I had a parallel existence to the guys from Meaford so I will fill you in on hardcore in rural Ontario. There was NO "scene" outside of large cities in the early 80's. The entire Leeds County probably had less than 10 people actively listening to the music. It is nothing like it was 15 or so years after that. If you wanted records or wanted to see shows you had to go to Ottawa, Montreal or Toronto. Having said that I managed to find two others in my town who liked the music and played the right instruments to form a band. See next question.

Daragh: I joined the band much later (in 1990) but growing up and trying to be into punk in a small town in the 80s was not a great deal of fun. I remember a school friend getting beat up by other students in 1983 and having his mohawk cut off while our school principle laughed. Events like that helped solidify my determination to not "give in" and be like "them". As strange as it sounds in retrospect, it really felt like something as superficial as a haircut or a t-shirt was making a strong statement and was enough to invite harassment at the time.

Q 4. What other bands had you guys been in before (tell us about ANGRY THALIDOMIDE BABIES, what a name)...

Myke: My first band was Sanitary Napkins, which was a band on paper mostly. My second band was a duo called Butt Plugz. We did covers of Ramones and Killing Joke songs, as I recall. I played my guitar directly into one channel of my cassette deck. Matt played his bass directly into the other channel. Eventually we joined up with Paul A (later of One Blood, now of Legion) and starting writing our own songs. That band was called Burning Rectal Itch... See any patterns?

Chris: My first band was Charlie Brown’s Wang. We practised a lot, but I never played a show with them. After I got kicked out, I joined up with the Sons at a D.O.A. show sometime in ’86. (Paul remembers the exact date, I’m sure… Paul?)

Paul: I appreciate your confidence in my memory, Chris, but I have no idea! I was a in a band in Athens, Ontario from 1984-85 before moving to Toronto. We were called DISORDERLY FASHION but never really got out of our town.

Daragh: Nothing notable or interesting before or since! Still, I reckon the temptation to "make some noise" never fully goes away. On that note, while punk bands reforming can be a contentious issue in some parts, I have to say that I have a great deal of respect for bands like GAUZE from Japan or SEEIN RED from Holland who keep going year after year and still sound as vital as ever.

Q 5. What one band had the biggest impact on SONS OF ISHMAEL? In sound, and in attitude (who made you think "YES, I want to do a band too")? What bands influenced the manic thrash sound? Also, were you influenced by bands from overseas (Europe, Japan etc)?

Myke: To me, the early Sons of Ishmael stuff sounds like it was inspired by Jerry's Kids, which was a good band to be inspired by. If we'd been able to snare Brian Betzger as our drummer ... we'd have been deprived of Chris's friendship. The Crucifucks would have been one influence that led the band away from its manic thrash sound.

Chris: I think going to shows and seeing people that looked like me getting up on stage and playing was the biggest “I can do that!” moment for me. They weren’t “rock star” looking – just regular guys in jeans and t-shirts. Probably seeing S.O.I. before I joined them was inspiring. I remember thinking I’d like to be in that band.

Paul: MDC

Daragh: Again, I was the "late comer" to the band but I have very fond memories of getting the Hayseed Hardcore 7" in the mail and catching SOI live in Toronto. At the time I never would have guessed that I would end up playing in the band one day.

Q 6. How did you see the hardcore scene change from 1985 onwards? How do you respond to the argument that hardcore punk "died" in 1986? How was it different than before?

Myke: Hardcore is young people's music. It appeals particularly to young musicians that are just learning how to play their instrument(s) because it's a style that's fairly easy to play. As they improve, these budding, young prodigies continue to play with and for the same people they always have... Then at some point some authority decides it's not hardcore anymore and the world ends.

Chris: It got more serious and less humorous (with exceptions). Metal started to permeate in a big way (Crossover). Songs got longer, and equipment got better. By the early 90s the musicianship started to really improve (although, not necessarily the music). Today, it’s rare to hear a HC band that sounds like 80s HC. Hatebreed, Terror (which I listen to and like a lot) etc. are called hardcore today, but in the 80’s they would have been been called metal.

Paul: I think in the summer of '86 in Toronto things were more alive than ever. With a reliable venue and reliable promoters it seemed there were tons of bands coming through town that summer and it was a blast. By summer of 1987 things seemed dead despite a few large shows. I think by this time things were starting to sound the same and it was not fresh anymore and that's why you get the "death notices" from various punks. It seemed that there was a complete turnover of participants every few years.

Daragh: As I said, I spent a couple years visiting Toronto to buy records but age and a lack of contacts in the city meant that while I was collecting flyers for what looked like incredible shows (Articles of Faith, Battalion of Saints, even Einsturzende Neubaten around '85) I was missing a lot of it. A little while later I was fortunate to have lived in Germany in '87 and I was able to see and take inspiration from a lot of what was happening there at the time. Catching touring bands like Concrete Sox, Chaos UK, Heresy, Larm, Negazione or even Chumbawamba ensured that punk felt very much "alive" to me at the time. I had a similar experience while living in Japan between 1998 and 2007. Seeing bands like Gauze, Bastard, Gism, Corrupted, Forward and countless others was further proof that there are still a great deal of incredibly vital and powerful bands out there.

Q 7. Do you think the fact that your debut, 'Hayseed Hardcore', came out in 1985 as opposed to say 1983 impeded the band's popularity? (since by 1985 so many bands were playing metal/crossover, or had "progressed", while SONS OF ISHMAEL were still playing straight forward hardcore not unlike early DRI/VERBAL ABUSE)

Myke: The band broke up repeatedly so that its various members could pursue other opportunities. As a result, it was never able to build much of what you'd call momentum.

Chris: I don’t think so. There was still a sizeable audience for what we were doing in ’86 to ‘91 – they just didn’t come to our shows. Also, you have to compare North America to Europe. We had much bigger crowds and enthusiasm in Europe than in North America, for sure. Lots of girls too! But, we never had sex with them.

Q 8. Also, do you think being from Canada, rather than the US, meant you perhaps went more un-noticed than some of your peers from larger US cities?

Myke: A little bit maybe.

Chris: I’m sure things would have been very different had we lived in S.F.

Paul: No, it seemed of no concern of whether you were from USA or Canada but if you were from Washington, DC you could walk on water. Back then word spreads by way of trading of mix tapes and word of mouth.

Daragh: Agreed. Despite the lack of the internet at the time, tape trading and fanzines like MRR helped negate the distance and borders that separated people from bands from different parts of the world.

Q 9. What are your three favourite Canadian hardcore bands of all time, and why? Who was always really good live?

Myke: The Andy Kerr-era version of Nomeansno was magic, both live and on record. There were always good local bands, too: No Mind and Guilt Parade, for example. As far as live shows go, SNFU was always fun.

Chris: I’d have to say Nomeansno, along with SCUM and Fair Warning, both from Montreal. Montreal bands were always really good. Countdown Zero, Genetic Control, Asexuals among many. I loved early Sudden Impact as well.

Paul: It is hard to identify the "best bands" because most of them did not last that long or have a prolific output. If they did, they likely changed for the worse or put out bad records. SNFU was one of the best live bands. I'd say my 3 favourites are The Spores, Asexuals and Subhumans. I can't remember who really stood out as there were many.

Daragh: I never saw them live but I think the YOUTH YOUTH YOUTH record from Toronto still sounds great. They had a pretty unique sound and I would say that they were a band that perhaps went underappreciated internationally at the time. As far as a "top three" list of Canadian bands of all time goes, it's too difficult! It's pretty subjective depending on what someone has been exposed to and when. I'd agree with Myke and Chris that NOMEANSNO and SNFU both seemed pretty impeccable at a certain point in time but to someone catching those bands in their present form and comparing them with more recent Canadian bands (Career Suicide, Endless Blockade, Inepsy or Cursed, for example) that statement might make very little sense. Seriously, I have a hard time answering this one and in the end what I have to say about it just isn't all that important.

Myke: I agree with Daragh on the Youth Youth Youth record. A big influence on me at the time.

Q 10. When did you first tour Europe? I heard something about you getting stranded in a European squat? How did you find Europe different to Canada/US, in terms of the hardcore scene and how things were done?

Myke: Our first tour of Europe was during the summer of 1990. And yes, we were stranded behind the barbed-wire walls of a squat for about nine weeks. It was a pretty big squat that spanned several countries. But seriously, folks, Europe was very, very kind to Sons of Ishmael.

Chris: I arranged both tours with a phone and a fax machine. It must be soooo much easier now with email and Skype, but we didn’t have that back in the olden days.

I loved Europe. It looked different, and felt different. There was art, architecture, and urban landscapes that are so different from over here. The people may be been dirtier and smellier, but they more than made up for it in organization, competence, and enthusiasm for what we were doing. But, we never had sex with them.

Daragh: Yep, Europe was fantastic! Um, I don't remember being stranded but I remember spending the first part of a tour at a squat in London with no running water. After about a week I felt compelled to strip down to my underwear and jump in a water fountain outside of a posh hotel in the city in a feeble attempt to bathe. Or if by stranded you mean almost having to sit through hours of Poll Tax Riot videos while in London, well, you'll have to get someone else to comment on that one.

Q 11. I've heard various funny stories about SONS OF ISHMAEL shows; can you tell 3 stories of some of the funniest things that ever happened?

Myke: Wow, so many funny stories, so many of which involved ruining someone else's day... I laughed really hard the night we spent trying to encourage a large dog to hump a pal sleeping on the floor. I also laughed really hard the day our van got towed in Barcelona and was driven into a wall on the way back from the pound. Some cretin stealing my chorus from the stage in Derry while I was out in the van fetching merchandise ... that was a highlight, too.

Chris: I don’t think I ever laughed so much than the time Tim got on his hands and knees and serenaded us for an hour so with his farts.

Myke: That was funny.

Paul: We had to pay to play our own show in San Angelo, Texas.

Daragh: Being in a band with Tim as a vocalist pretty much ensured that every gig was entertaining in one way or another. He was a pretty incredible front man to say the least.

Q 12. SONS OF ISHMAEL displayed a strong element of cynicism and sarcasm, especially towards the hardcore scene in general. What was it about hardcore that, in the mid-80s, left a bad taste in your mouth (so to speak)?

Myke: The inability of some people in the HC scene to think for themselves and make their own decisions made their company very oppressive after a while. I had no respect for authority at the time, regardless of what kind of haircut it had. I still don't.

Of course, "group think" is not unique to the hardcore scene. It happens any time individuals try to work together. To be accepted as part of the team, you have to turn a blind eye to dishonesty, inconsistency and all that other shit.

Daragh: I think part of the band dynamic involved confounding people's expectations, something that became increasingly apparent as time went on and the band attempted to sing less "generic crap". I'm not sure how well some of the ideas translated but writing about rock formations (Paul) and incorporating polka elements into the music (Paul) was, if nothing else, doing something different.

Q 13. Tell us about when rednecks chased you out of Sault St. Marie...

Myke: It was about midnight when we decided to stop for breakfast at a roadside diner in the Soo. As we walked back to our van, a longhair in the parking lot made a comment about Paul's haircut. Safely inside the van, I rolled down the passenger side window and asked him to elucidate, but before he could, Chris put the pedal to the metal and we were on our way. The longhair tried to catch up to us in his pick-up and enlisted the support of two friends on a motorcycle, but our paths never crossed again, which is my single greatest disappointment. Tim was even brushing his teeth in anticipation of the meating.

Chris: Myke, you forgot to mention my excellent driving as we raced through the streets, running redlights and stops signs. At one point I made a quick left and the pick up truck when straight through. Watching Starsky and Hutch really paid off. Since then, I've heard stories from other bands who had things go down in the Soo. But, we never had sex with them.

Q 14. During your long tour of the US in 1987, how do think the hardcore scene differed from state to state? What bands are you glad to have played with on this tour?

Myke: All of them, really, but particularly Porn Orchard in Myrtle Beach and Penfold's Revenge in Chicago.

Chris: Playing in California was pretty amazing. Our show in San Diego with the Adolescents, and a bunch of other bigger bands really showed how ingrained the scene was down there. It was still underground, but really big. San Fran was great too. Gilman Street and MRR house: Wow. So much media – radio, zines, photography, and scenesters everywhere. I’m proud to say we played with Nomeansno, Government Issue, C.O.C., and Youth of Today on that tour. I like to speculate that little kids like Billie Joe Armstrong and Kurt Cobain might have seen us play in SF and Tacoma!

Myke: I've always wondered if Kurt Cobain was at our Tacoma show, too. Might explain why Nirvana did so many Sons of Ishmael covers.

Paul: Chris never had sex with him.

Q 15. Regarding the 'Pariah Martyr Demands a Sacrifice' LP, why is the production so bad? I have heard before that it is because the band couldn't be bothered to hire decent equipment?

Myke: By mistake, we booked time in a studio that didn't usually record guitar music. Its name was similar to the name of the studio we really wanted, but it wasn't the one we had in mind. We fucked up. That was mistake number one. Mistake number two was that our equipment was utter shiite: Paul was playing a $100 guitar through a keyboard amplifier, for example. Mistake number three was when the rest of the band ignored my pleas for more bass in the mix. Actually, now that I think about it, mistake number one was accepting money from a record label to record a bunch of songs that weren't very good to start with. This should serve as a lesson to all young people: money has a way of influencing decisions for the worse, in music and elsewhere.

Chris: That was my first recording studio experience and I have to admit I was completely unprepared. We agonized over the release of that record for months. Remixing it at huge expense ($200??) before finally sending it off to Over the Top. Seeing it in vinyl for the first time was a thrill, but that was soon replaced with mortification at the quality of the thing. I like the cover...?

Q 16. Why did you end up splitting up in 1991? How had you seen things change over the 6 years of your existence? Did the advent of grunge move things along? Is it true your last show was opening for Hole as you stated on the band's bio?

Myke: Paul and Daragh had girlfriends and didn't want to go on tour again. Tim chose not to continue playing with Chris and I and whomever we might find to "replace" Paul and Daragh. It was very disappointing, as I thought our newest songs, and we had a lot of them, were among our best.

Chris: Our last show in Toronto was opening for Hole, at the Rivoli, a very small room. But, our last show was actually in Ottawa in early ’92 (Paul, date?). I wore the same DOA shirt I wore at my very first show in Guelph in ’86!

Paul: Chris, I think you wore that stinky yellow Beethoven shirt in Guelph. It is true that our last show was in the Blue Room at U of O in Ottawa but I cannot remember the date. Daragh could not make the gig (hangnail? ) so either I or Myke played bass and I am sure it was an underwhelming way to end. It was not a girlfriend that kept me from touring for that would never happen. It was road burnout mostly.

Myke: I did not know that.

Chris: It was my DOA shirt, and I have the pics to prove it.

Daragh: My recollection was that not everyone was interested in doing more DIY-type touring and that some people were interested in trying something else musically. My "plan" after SOI broke up was to get another band going but the reality was that I spent a few summers as a roadie and driver for friends' bands going across North America, promoting diy shows for a while, and running a telephone "hotline" that listed upcoming punk shows and events in Toronto. Hangnail rumours aside, as for missing the final show in Ottawa, I was informed pretty late that the show was happening and had just started a new job and a weekend shift. I couldn't get anyone to cover for me and as great as it was to work in a photocopy shop for the next five years it was a shame to miss the last show. Regardless, despite the band breaking up everyone stayed active in some capacity; whether playing in other bands (everyone at one point or another), running a label (Chris), putting out the odd 7" record (me), or releasing a pretty awesome cassette of parodies of popular punk songs (Paul); so while the band ended, our interest and involvement in music did not.

Q 17. Was the band never tempted to go down the crossover/thrash route, in an attempt to ride the wave of METALLICA's success in order to become rich?

Myke: Uh, no. Personally, I was tempted to going down the college rock route blazed by Dinosaur Jr and the Jesus Lizard--not for the sake of money, mind you, but just because the music and its fans were more interesting. I got to a point, fairly early on, where I thought that an occasional loudhardfast song would be a great thing to leaven a set, but it wasn't something I wanted to play song after song of.

Q 18. Similarly were you never tempted to start playing in the style of the youth crew bands that was becoming so popular coast to coast? I heard you shared a stage with YOUTH OF TODAY once, how was that?

Myke: I wasn't interesting in playing by anyone else's rules. As for sharing a stage with Youth of Today, I have no recollection of this. I remember hangin' out with dem shits in SF for a cupola days. They seemed to be very interested in sports and muscles and stuff, which doesn't do it for me, but they were nice.

Chris: Yep, we played with them at Gilman. I broke my snare mid-way through our set and Mike Judge lent me his. I still have their Nerf football. It has “Youth Tour ‘87” written on it. But, we never had sex with them.

Daragh: E-bay.

Paul: They, in fact, opened for us at that show. I believe they had a 20 hour drive to Mormonia and had to play earlier.

Q 19. How important do you think having a message was to playing in a hardcore punk band? Did you often encounter people who just wanted to dance hard but didn't care what anyone had to say? On the other hand, how did SONS OF ISHMAEL feel about very politicised or anarcho hardcore/peace punk bands of the time?

Myke: I think the most important things are passion and creativity. Whether your lyrics are about man's inhumanity to man or a parakeet drowning in a toilet, if the song ain't got that swing, it don't mean a thing, yo.

Chris: We had those people (Harry Hardcore types) at pretty much every show and they’d be the first people to the bar or out the door after we finished. It was the folks who came up to us after or to our merch table who seemed the most enlightened to what we were saying. We met lots of really great people and had some real quality discussions. But, we never had sex with them.

I remember my moment of disconnect with anarcho/political types. It was in London UK and we were visiting some lefty collective. They were situated in a 15 storey apartment block that had one elevator (no light). As we sat around watching video from the Trafalgar Square poll tax riots, they took great pleasure in repeatedly watching a policeman get a metal sign planted into the side of his head as he was driving by. I remember thinking, wow, I’ve got nothing in common with these dolts.

Daragh: If anything, one thing I took away from my involvement in the scene is how easy it is for someone to write progressive and politically aware lyrics and still be a wretch of a human being. As for how this relates to SOI, I believe it's far better to be in a band with sometimes fairly opaque or cynical lyrics performed by fundamentally decent people than to simply wave the nearest banner while treating the people you deal with on a day-to-day basis poorly.

Q 20. Anything else to add? Say whatever you feel.

Myke: Thanks for showing an interest. I haven't had to answer questions like these in about fifteen years and I really enjoyed doing it. One other thing... There's a lot of good music being made today, too. Give Pissed Jeans a try, or Black Lips. If you're a little more adventurous, a listen to Califone, Deerhoof or Old Time Relijin might be worth your while.

Daragh: Agreed, I cringe at any suggestion that punk or hardcore died in '85 or '86 and really feel that the people who make those claims are being somewhat presumptuous if not downright disingenuous (not to mention the fact that some of these people attempt to draw a pay cheque from something they now claim to be "dead"). There's still a great deal of fun and fantastic music to be had by anyone willing to look for it.

More importantly perhaps, I'd like to commend the other SOI guys on remaining true to themselves and staying creative. Paul turned his hobby and interest in hockey into a successful business, Myke has been working for environmental organizations for many years, Chris has kept progressing in computer work, Tim is a University Professor, I teach at a college, etc. As with punk, life is what you make it and it's never time time to think you've seen or done it all.

Paul: I suggest you try Irish Rovers or Grandpa Jones.

Chris: There's talk of a Hayseed Hardcore re-release on 12" vinyl, that will include additional tracks that were used on comps. We'll post any info on the website (which is, for now, our MySpace page) at

Also, if anybody has video, pics, or recordings of us, we'd love to see them! We're putting together a website and it'd be cool to include whatever we can get (that's good). You can contact us at

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

New posts soon...

Just a short update. I'll soon have regular internet access again and I've got some good stuff to post up, so keep checking back! In the meantime, listen to Danzig II and the Inmates.

Monday, 4 August 2008

New interview with EXTORTION...

Just a note that there won't be too many posts for a little while after this one as I'm moving house very soon... I'll try and do some posts here and there if I have the time.

Here is a recent interview I did with Rohan, EXTORTION vocalist. If you haven't heard them before, EXTORTION play straight forward hardcore thrash, not unlike a modern version of early DRI with strong hints of NO COMMENT. Solid, powerful stuff. They've been going for quite a few years now and I strongly urge you to pick up their records on Deep Six Records.

Q. 1. What was the hardcore scene like in your area before the band started, and were you all from the same place? What about the Australian scene on a national level at the time?

R: We live in Perth which is pretty isolated from the rest of the country (which is a country that is isolated from the rest of the world (that makes isolated squared)), the scene here had/has a lot of bands, probably because until recently very few bands would tour here, so we’d have to make our own music. That said most of the bands suck, shitty metalcore and melodic hardcore bands, none of the bands we started really fit in and I’m surprised this band has gotten the response it did. We just make music we like. Some bands rule, most bands suck shit in any genre really. I guess such is the case here also. We do our best not to suck.

Can’t really say what the hardcore scene was like on a national level, due to being so far away from it hah. I guess a little better than over here?

Q. 2. How did the band form, and what was the basic blueprint for your early sound? What covers did you do when first started playing together?

R: When we started it was like putting some early Boston hardcore bands with Negative Approach and a little Infest and No Comment in a blender and drinking it down like some sort of meaty offal milkshake. I think that’s audible on the first demo (the musical influence, not the offal quaffing), but we definitely veered off into more power-violence influenced territory pretty soon after that.

We covered DYS - Insurance Risk, Black Flag -Fix Me, Impact Unit -Nightstalker and Dwarves - Detention Girl (though we fucked this one up live on every attempt). We practiced No God by Germs, but its got too many lyrics and I was almost passing out due to lack of oxygen by the end of the song, so we ditched it.

Q. 3. What 3 bands do you think collectively influence Extortion the most, and why?

R: Collectively? Hahah I’m pretty much the evil totalitarian of the band, our new guitarist is more into technical death metal, the bassist first love is doom and sludge and the drummer loves stock standard rock, but they play what I tell them to so it works out fine.

No Comment, Infest and Negative approach are probably the main three but we try to pull influence from many places so we don’t sound like a clone of just one band (but we sound derivative of many hah).

Q. 4. What do you think of the term power violence, and do you get annoyed if people label Extortion as a PV band?

R: I don’t get annoyed because we definitely take influence from power-violence bands, but yeah, I’d say we’re a hardcore band with a heavy power-violence influence. Like Mind Eraser, heaps of their riffage is obviously lifted out of Crossed Out/Infest/Neanderthal etc, but the song structures and speeds are definitely not “pure” power-violence. But we’re really nit-picking here and there is no definition of power-violence written in any brutal dictionary or raging encyclopaedia anywhere, so it can mean whatever you want.

Q. 5. How did you first get into hardcore: can you remember the first record you heard and the first show you attended?

R. The first albums were probably the usual shit like Minor Threat and Discharge. I liked (and still do) whatever was punk but faster and angrier. I was a big FYP fan. A friend made me a mix tape with lots of early Boston bands and that’s when I probably got focused more on hardcore in general.

There wasn’t much in the way of local hardcore bands back then and no one bothered to tour here from elsewhere due to Perth being in the middle of nowhere. The first hardcore band I ever saw was probably a local band called Negative Reply.

Q. 6. List the total Extortion discography so far...

R: Demo tape
Degenerate LP
Control ep
Sick LP

We’ve also finshed material for splits with Completed Exposition, Rupture, Jed Whitey and Agents Of Abhorrence on various labels, we’re just waiting for them to be released.

Q. 7. What other bands had Extortion members been involved in previously?

R: Jaws, The Collapse, Burn For Me, Bete Noire, Sensory Amusia, Heist, Rupture, Nailed Down, Excretion, PC Thug, Dead Hand, Squandered, Los Goblanos, Cobra Clutch, All In Deep Shit, Hailstones Kill 200, Halo of Knives, Australia, The Bankrupt, The Jury, Hospital beds, Defeat, Drowning Horse, Frightener, Eagle Boys, Penetrating Stairs, Chris Mainwaring Is Dead, Meatlocker, XmerchX, Clever Species.

Q. 8. Incidently, how good is the HEIST 7"?

Pretty fucking good. So good we pilfered the drummer. Well, the drummer from the first two 7”s at least. They also released a 22 song cd later on that (bar about 4 songs) sucked sloppy shit. A bunch of shitty joke stoner rock songs. It was reportedly recorded by Stumblefuck from Rupture on his 4track, which he has done brilliant recordings on in the past (check out the Rupture -Righteous Fuck 7”) but it seems he downed a little too much bourbon the day this one was recorded.

Q. 9. What's been your favourite show so far (and why), and what's been the worst? Any funny stories?

R: When we last played in Sydney some cunt in a wheelchair was lifted onto the stage. now the stage wasn’t terribly large so I think I had to kick him out of the way and he ended up waiting for about the length of a song before “stagediving” off the front, a good 4 foot drop face first into the floor. Entertaining to say the least. The guy said he loved the set but thought the crowd were arseholes for not catching him hahah.

Q. 10. Explain what you love about the NO COMMENT: Downsided 7"...

R: It sounds like what you’d get if asked a man you locked in a 1m x 1m cage, which itself is in a dimly lit concrete cell, for five years and then fed them nothing but porridge and plain bread for the duration to write a record upon release. Pure desperation, you can see it in the points where the english language, as it is, isn’t enough and words are put together in an attempt to describe something that has no name. Downsided, mind-tied. Etc.

A dance on pins and needles. You may know the theory, the rules of how to dance, but without the feeling in your feet how can you be expected to do so in any sort of natural way? I suppose the same can be said for social interaction.

Q. 11. Since you've released 2 LPs so far, what are your 5 favourite hardcore LPS EVER and why? Do you think it's hard to translate the hardcore formula to a full length?

R: I think writing a full length album for a hardcore band (and ESPECIALLY a fast hardcore band) is difficult to do. Too many bands just end up writing the same song a whole bunch of times, which make for a boring record. Adhering too much to formula I guess. And here’s a piece of advice for the world- DON’T PUT BREAKDOWNS IN EVERY SONG.

The other problem is that fast bands always put too many songs on a record. When the track list gets to 20 songs or over, its pretty hard to keep interested. Here’s a ridiculous analogy- say you’ve got a photo with 5 babes in it. You can look at and appreciated each one (as nothing more than a sex object) separately and take in what each one different and/or awesome. Then look at a photo with 30 babes in it, you’ll find you end up appreciating a few, but ignoring a lot of em, for no other reason than its too much to take in.

Q. 12. In what other countries have Extortion played? How do you think the scene differs from region to region or country to country, from what you've seen?

R: Apart from a few short trips to Sydney and Melbourne, we’ve not played out of Perth due to our drummer having a job that doesn’t really allowing him to take much time off.

Q. 13. Tell us a bit about who does your artwork. There's a noticable Pettibon influence. Who's idea was the t-shirt design of the coathanger abortion!

R: That’d be me. And the idea was mine. ME ME ME. Yeah I like Pettibon and the way he deals with his subjects. Its very aggressive but without being too blatant. I gotta say though he does a better job of it than I do, I end up getting carried away and drawing chainsaws and axes into everything.

I must be screwed in the head because I still don’t get what the big deal is with the coathanger shirt. I mean yeah its offensive, but so is a lot of other shit I’ve drawn and its not as if there is actually any explicit imagery in it, its all implied. Its just some legs a stomach and a dude with a coathanger. Some girl in Sydney returned it because she said it re-enforced notions of male violence against women. If she thinks that I endorse coathanger abortions in real waking life (and how the fuck does she know the woman in the image is not complicit in the ordeal?) she is lacking in any sort of intelligence. Fucking cretins.

The above-mentioned coathanger abortion t shirt.

Q. 14. Who is your favourite hardcore frontman of all time, and why? Similarly, favourite guitar-player?

R: Sakevi. I don’t think I need to bother explaining why. Riff wise, I guess who-ever wrote the riffage for negative approach? Seriously, how good is nothing. and I was theorising that the stop-start-riff-with-fast—beat-over-it of friend or foe was probably inspired by AC/DC, though obviously AC/DC did it over rock beats, to less aggressive tunes.

Q. 15. What good current Aussie bands would you recommend checking out? How about internationally?

R: Around here I’m liking what I hear from Suffer, Wasted Til Death, Battletruk, White Male Dumbinance, The Kill, A.V.O, Mindsnare, Agents of Abhorrence, Straightjacket Nation, Deathcage, Snake Run, Crux and probably more but my memory sucks.

Realistically though, (and to answer the second part of the question) I’ve pretty much only been listening to Beirut, Grizzly Bear, Midlake and the Radio Dept recently. Not very hard or core.

Q. 16. How did you end up releasing on the classic label DEEP SIX? Do you know why they haven't released the LOW THREAT PROFILE 7" yet?

R: I sent our recording to Bob at Deep Six and he liked it. Pretty simple. I’ve asked about the Low Threat Profile 7” but never got a reply (how bullshit are those comp tracks? Fucking amazing!) but I heard a rumour it had something to do with one of the members taking off with the recording when he left the band? It was just a rumour, so its probably just a load of shit.

Q. 17. Being from Australia, did you only listen to 28 DAYS and MEN AT WORK growing up? How about watching Neighbours? (a show seemingly only known to the unfortunate Australian and the British it seems)

R: I don’t watch television, and didn’t watch much as a kid, but my sister loves all that TV soap bullshit. Neighbours and Home and Away and all that stuff. I don’t have the patience, it never fucking ends!

Also never got into 28 Days, but I was a big Frenzal Rhomb fan as a kid (and was chuffed to find out the drummer is a big Extortion fan). I am familiar with Men At Work’s one hit wonder, whatever it’s called...

Q. 18. How important do you think a DIY attitude is to playing in a hardcore band? Do you think some newer bands start, thinking they can easily 'make it big'?

R: Until recently everything we did was via the DIY scene, the style of music we play is not one that attracts the masses. though it must be said over the last year or so we've been offered some gigs in sydney and brisbane that paid quite well, enough to cover the costs of flights for all five of us, and so we've played them. DIY is great, but we're not about to look a gift horse in the mouth. Playing hardcore and expecting to make money out of it is downright ridiculous. We're doing well, and we just cover our own costs (recording, travelling, etc) The percentage of bands that actually make money and "make it big" out of playing would be tiny.

Q. 19. Speaking of Negative Approach before, did they play Australia on their recent reunion tour? If so did you get to see them? What do you think of reunions in general?

R: No, there was talk of it being organise (a friend of mine was in contact) but it fell through. reunions generally don't go well probably because the bands were never as good as the stupid level of hype and worship given to the band post-humous, coupled with the fact that hardcore is a pretty energetic style of music and you've got to be pretty fit to play it, something that getting old and fat doesn't agree with (Pig Champion is exempt from this statement (or was until he kicked the bucket). That said I hear the Negative Approach reunions were pretty good.

Q. 20. What will Extortion eventually turn into... a hair metal band like late SSD, or a progressive/emotive band like Fugazi?

R: Given my listening taste, probably "progressive" emotive bullshit, though if I want to play a different style I usually just start anoter band. I play in a sludge band and a Wipers-esque band on the side at the moment. so if I ever get the urge to play some wanky bucket of piss, hopefully i'll do it with another band rather than shit all over our good name hahah.

Q. 21. Negative FX or Siege? Perhaps not comparable, but answer anyway...

R: Probably Siege. The good songs by Negative FX are shitloads better than the best stuff Siege did, but there is a lot of filler on that album. A lot of short boring songs with boring riffs. All Siege songs rule, but if you think anything they did is as memorable as something like Protestor then you are insane and I would thank you to stop talking to me.

Q. 22. DYS or SSD...Why?

DYS! SSD had some killer slower anthemic songs, but their faster songs (what should be bread and butter for a hardcore band) were boring as fossilised turds. Too much verse-chorus-verse-choruse-verse-chorus-etc into infinity. Screw and Boiling Point are alright though. DYS slow songs (the hardcore ones, not the rock stuff) AND fast songs were both good.

Thursday, 31 July 2008

The results of this week's poll (favourite BLACK FLAG vocalist), and BLACK FLAG Last Show live boot upload...

The results are in for this weeks poll for favourite BLACK FLAG vocalist, although I believe there was some confusion in Florida which might have skewed the results (people were ticking the box for Dez Cadena thinking they were voting for Henry Rollins as his name was below it). That's the only thing that could explain why Rollins received less than 50% of the vote overall. Maybe we should try again? To be honest, the results are to be expected, and it perhaps blasts any conception I had that the world is full of Rollins-era haters. Chavo would have been my 2nd choice, his energy on the live songs from the 'Decline Of Western Civilization' movie is undeniable, as are his versions of 'Revenge' and 'Depression' on Everything Went Black. I also prefer 'Jealous Again' sang by him to the original Keith Morris take on it (shoot me!).

Anyway, the results:

Keith Morris
10 (12%)
Ron Reyes (Chavo)
18 (21%)
Dez Cadena
16 (19%)
Henry Rollins
38 (46%)

Votes in total: 82

I think this got the most votes out of any poll I've started so far, which goes to show that either my blog's getting more traffic, or just that a lot of people like BLACK FLAG. They're probably the most well known/popular band I've covered on this blog so far, and incidently are probably the most deserving of all punk bands (or bands of any genre for that matter) of the praise and adoration they receive... I hate the sound like an asshole, but you either "get" BLACK FLAG or you don't. The vocalist debate is nearly as old as the band itself, and normally sparks heated debate whenever it's bought up, but to borrow a sports-personality-interviewee phrase, 'at the end of the day' we all know that each singer was great in his own way, suiting each different phase of the band (or Ginn's vision). Saying that, I'm just being diplomatic... Rollins will always be my choice of favourite frontman. Can you even imagine any of the other guys singing 'My War' and making it work? As for people arguing that he "ruined" the band, it's obvious that they would have followed the same direction regardless of who was singing... Rollins could just pull it off, I don't think anyone else could have fulfilled that role. Really, if you are diehard into punk but hate all hard rock or heavy metal, it's understandable that you wouldn't like later FLAG, since those influences are just so prominent.

To go with the poll results, here is the easy-to-get-a-hold-of soundboard bootleg of FLAG's apparent last show, at The Greystone in Detroit, 27/28th June 1986, I believe with GONE and probably the terrible PAINTED WILLIE supporting.

It obviously covers a lot of material from In My Head and Loose Nut and while it's not as good as the CLASSIC Live '84 record, I think I prefer it to Who's Got The 10 1/2. Just think, this was the last time Ginn would play the twisted FLAG riffs in a live setting. There's some serious hippie jam fest moments, reflecting the heavy amount of GRATEFUL DEAD that was consumed in this period (you don't LISTEN to the GRATEFUL DEAD, you consume them like an illegal substance). I'm sure after this show a lot of old FLAG fans were grateful the band WAS finally dead... While nothing can possibly beat Damaged, My War or the 1982 demos (the triangle of perfection, with Slip It In not far behind...THE BARS! THE LIES!...), I really do love the later "difficult" records and live sets. There's a great hypnotic quality to the songs and just straight up bizarre riffs going on, truly fucked up and demented music. Also, Rollins never lets up vocally, just listen to 1987's Lifetime by ROLLINS BAND, a kind of continuation of later-FLAG minus Ginn's extremely signature guitar work. Also, I couldn't give a shit about the production, both Loose Nut and In My Head are great, great records.

It might be cliché to say, but they really were pushing boundaries and it is understandable why so many were hostile towards them for it... Even the dynamics of the members were volatile, a similarly disconnection between each individual as between the band and audience. But it all comes down to whether you believe bands have any kind of "responsibilty" to their "fans" to stay atleast marginally consistent in sound (BAD RELIGION's argument as to why they returned to playing their old style after the enigma that is Into The Unknown), or should be free to play and be whatever the fuck they want. While it's often said they were going through the motions towards the end, I do believe breaking up was the only thing to do at that point. There was literally nowhere else to go.

Anyway, enjoy the live set (or don't, depending on your preference).

Saturday, 26 July 2008

New DESPISE YOU interview...

Here is an interview I recently did with the reformed DESPISE YOU via email. As you'd expect for a band so steeped in mythology and rumour, despite now playing live (which they never did during their original existence) they don't give much away and mostly give fairly short answers. Still, they are/were easily the best 2nd wave power violence band to come out of the mid 90s, and I'm thankful to them for getting back to me as in general they don't do many interviews. I'm excited about hearing their new recordings as you all should be too.

Q 1. First introduce yourself, and say where you are right now...

DY: Inglewood, South Los Angeles. 310. Always and forever.

Q 2. You've not done many interviews, even less in your original come? Did the band attempt to keep a mystery around them originally?

DY: Naw, we never really got hit up to do interviews, and if we did, it was in some small fanzines that no one has ever seen.

Q 3. How come you never vouched to play live in your original inception? Was EXCRUCIATING TERROR the primary band to some of the members?

DY: Yea, everyone that was in the band originally (all the "West Side Horizons" recordings) were in other bands so we didnt have a lot of time to even practice that much, let alone play live.

Q 4. On a similar topic, how come you never printed your real names on the original DESPISE YOU records? Or appeared in many photos? Did you get a kick out the fact that some people thought you were members of a notorious gang?

DY: We didnt want to be "members of....bla bla bla", so we didnt print the names. There was plenty of "non-music" related shit going on with us then, though. haha

Q 5. Who chose the whole aesthetic of DESPISE YOU for the original records (gangland photos, starving children etc, bleak imagery all round)

DY: I guess that's just the vibe we wanted from where we were at around that time. It's kinda the same thing now.

Q 6. What bands were DESPISE YOU members also involved in during your original inception?


Q 7. How have the live shows been over the last year or so? What's been the best, and worst, experience so far?

DY: All the shows have been good. Playing 6th street/L.A. was good. A lot of our "friends" were there to dance and help break up fights.

Q 8. How did it come about that Chris Dodge would play bass?

DY: We needed a bass player and since he used to play in STIKKY, we thought he'd be good. Actually, he lit a fire under us to get back together and see what happens. Thanks Chris.

Q 9. When did you first get into hardcore punk? Can you remember the first record you heard, or band you saw live?

DY: For me it was BLACK FLAG "Jealous Again". The first band I saw was a local Inglewood or Lennox band called POLICIA PUTA or something like that, in a garage.

Q 10. Another question I like to ask, what did your parents or family think about you getting into punk/hardcore & metal?

DY: I was skating all the time, the punk rock was just a part of it. My folks didn't give a fuck either way, as long as I stayed out of jail and kept the trespassing tickets to a minimum.

Q 11. What was the scene in Inglewood like in the 90s, around the time DESPISE YOU started?

DY: No punk stuff, there was a couple death metal bands. NECROSIS was a CARCASS-style grind band in like '92. Just gangs, and people with anger management "problems". Inglewood Skate Rats etc. Perfect.

Q 12. How has the area changed over the years? What keeps you in LA?

DY: Things just got more crowded and expensive. Demographics in L.A. neighborhoods seem to be changing a lot recently. All my family and shit is here. I'll be here for a while.

Q 13. What were your favourite power violence bands in the early to mid 90s? Choose a favourite: CROSSED OUT 7", NO COMMENT: Downsided or NEANDERTHAL: Fighting Music, and explain why...

DY: All those are good. The MAN IS THE BASTARD/CROSSED OUT 7" too. The NO COMMENT "Downsided" is my favorite 7" ever. Beginning to end. Everything about that record is perfect. Birth to death in like 6 or 7 minutes. Beautiful.

Q 14. How close do you see skating in terms of a relationship to hardcore? How do you think it's changed over the years? Do you all still skate?

DY: Skating and punk rock. They go hand in hand, you weren't into one and not the other. If you listened to DIO or PINK FLOYD you rode some stupid BMX bike and brushed your hair all day. Stupid. I still feel the same today about it as i did "way back then". I see a lot of hip hop in skating now. Not sure what hip hop and skating have in common though. I guess you can buy both of them at Walmart or something.

Q 15. Who is currently providing female vocals at live shows, still Cynthia from GASP? What happended to Leticia, aka Lulu, the original singer?

DY: Lourdes "Lulu" Hernandez did all the vocals on the "West Side Horizons" stuff. She was in high school at the time. Not sure where she is now. She used Leticia cuz of her sister or something. Cynthia from GASP is doing the vocals for us now. We've all known her a long time, and she "brings it". Plus she's a 310 veteran. Those are always good.

Q 16. What were some of the key hardcore bands that influenced DESPISE YOU?

DY: DRI, LEEWAY, MINOR THREAT, AGNOSTIC FRONT, all the "standards" I guess.

Q 17. Who is your favourite hardcore frontman ever and why?

DY: Probably Rollins, cuz "Damaged" is my favorite punk/hardcore record.

Q 18. Obviously good metal bands were a big influence on DESPISE YOU too. Who are some of your favourite metal bands?

DY: All the L.A. shit. SLAYER, DARK ANGEL, OMEN, BLOODCUM. Then there's POSSESSED, VENOM, CELTIC FROST... all that stuff.

Q 19. What do you think are the main things that seperates heavy metal from hardcore?

DY: Maybe the metal bands try to be more musical? I don't know. Lyrical content is more "fantasy" related with the heavy metal people.

Q 20. What new records do you have in the works? I hear talks of AGORAPHOBIC NOSEBLEED and CAPITALIST CASUALTIES splits?

DY: We're doing a split LP/CD with AGORAPHOBIC NOSEBLEED called "And On, And On......", 23 or so new songs. It's all recorded except vocals. We hope to do a split with CAPITALIST CASUALTIES also.

Q 21. How did the MAN IS THE BASTARD split LP that was never released come about? Were/are you friends with any of those guys?

DY: MAN IS THE BASTARD asked us if we'd do it and we wanted to. We recorded like 16 songs for it. They recorded their songs, but got side tracked with some stuff, and never put vocals on it. So we put our songs with all our other out of print shit, and that's the "West Side Horizons" CD.

Q 22. What do you think was the best line up for a show you attended in the early/mid 90s?

DY: Probably the Fiesta Grande shows. DIVISIA, EXCRUCIATING TERROR, CAVITY, CROM, I think it was in west L.A. It was a good show too. There were a lot in A.A. that I can't remember the specifics on now. LACK OF INTEREST and RORSCHACH out in the valley was rad.

Q 23. What do you think of new bands taking influence from, and covering DESPISE YOU (HATRED SURGE, IN DISGUST etc). Are you surprised by the interest and influence the band has had?

DY: Yea, we're always stoked to see bands covering our songs. Sometimes they do it better than we do. ha

Q 24. Did you ever get to see INFEST? Write a little about why they're so good...

DY: Yea at the Chapalita. Well they were like the first band doing that stripped down "powerviolence" type stuff!

Q 25. What's your favourite DRI record and why? Did you ever get to see them, in any form? Do you even like their later crossover records (ie THRASH ZONE)?

DY: I like "Dealing With It" the most. I've seen them a few times. Nursing Home Blues...

Q 26. Any last words?

DY: Thanks for the support.