Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Hispanics Causing Panic In The Early NYHC Scene

       One of the more enduring motifs in the development of American Hardcore is the oft-repeated description of this burgeoning youth subculture as being a predominantly white suburban dominated one. While this might have been true in certain quarters of the nation during the HC explosion in the early 1980's, the situation in NYC looked a bit different. Kids growing up in New York's 5 boroughs & beyond, came from extremely varied national origins, the Latino one being an especially prominent one. Waves of immigration, starting in the 1950's, from Puerto Rico/Cuba/Dominican Republic plus subsequent ones from South & Central America in later decades, gave rise to generations straddling a bilingual gravitational pull. As Punk transitioned into Hardcore by 1980, the epicenter of this new music came to be centered around a mostly Hispanic neighborhood: Manhattan's Lower East Side or Loisaida, as the locals called it.
 The following list of people with a Hispanic background from the early years is a tribute to those that represented this music all the while dealing with the usual adversarial forces of school/family/peers plus the extra layer of identity related issues prevalent among 1st generation born or recently arrived immigrants to America. I focused on band members & scenesters that were involved in the early years of the scene, circa 1980-1985. I know that tons of other people from a Hispanic background came after that era, and are still involved now, but I'll let someone else document them.

Let's move on to some of the pioneers that lived 'La Vida Loca' during those halcyon hardcore days...

Denise Mercedes, Nick Marden & Harley Flanagan from THE STIMULATORS
      Denise is half Dominican/Spaniard, along with 2nd Stimulators bassist Nick Marden (1/2 Mexican from California) & Harley Flanagan (Dominican/Spaniard heritage) played in this influential band. Their song M.A.C.H.I.N.E., from '78 or '79, is a crucial component to the development of the music as it is one of the first Hardcore sounding songs from NYC. Nick also coined the term 'Loud Fast Rules', an important rallying cry for the short haired HC set.
Harley would go on to form the quintessential NYHC band: The Cro-Mags.

Denise w/guitar, Nick in back & a 12 year old Harley.
Roger Miret from AGNOSTIC FRONT-
    Born Rogelio De Jesus in Havana, Cuba. Roger's family immigrated to the states in 1968. He played bass in several bands in the NY/NJ area before becoming AF's vocalist in 1982, just in time for their seminal 'United Blood' ep from 1983. AF's 2011 Lp "My Life My Way" featured a HC song sung entirely in Spanish. Roger's younger brother, Freddy Miret, grew up jumping on stage & singing AF songs. He would go on to start the late '80s NYHC outfit Madball. 
Roger's passport from 1964.

Robb Nunzio & Louie Rivera from ANTIDOTE
   Original singer Louie is Puerto Rican & Guitarist Robb is of Puerto Rican/Italian descent. Their 1983 "Thou Shalt Not Kill" ep set the tone for what would become the NYHC sound: vicious fast tunes with underlying metal influences. Antidote still continues 'til this day, always the Real Deal. As Robb says: "That's what made us so good, 2 PR's & 2 Mc's (Irish)!"
NYHC Boricuas outside CBGB's: Robb & Louie in 1983

Eric J Casanova from the CRO-MAGS-
     Original Cro-Mags singer Eric Casanova is of Puerto Rican descent & grew up in Astoria, Queens. He is credited with writing the lyrics to "Life Of My Own" & co-writing with Harley other classic Cro-Mags tunes like "Hard Times" & "Street Justice". He played with them from '82-'84 & left for personal reasons. Rumors of his demise are greatly exaggerated as he's been spotted as of late, still living in NYC.

Eric Casanova @CBGB's 1984

Javier Madariaga from HEART ATTACK
     Javier was originally from Mexico City & played in one of the 1st NYHC bands that put a record out, Heart Attack's "God Is Dead" ep  from 1981. He also went on play in Reagan Youth, A.P.P.L.E. as well as his own solo projects. He is credited with playing what would become known as the 1st recorded version of the "Blastbeat" drum pattern, as heard on the song "From What I See" off their 1983 "Keep Your Distance 12". This drum pattern would become a big influence on the extreme HC/Metal hybrid known as Grindcore.

Javier  Madariaga @The Peppermint Lounge 1983

Dito Montiel & Ray Parada from MAJOR CONFLICT
    Orlandito Montiel is the son of a Nicaraguan immigrant & an Irish mother. Ray Parada's family comes from Spain. They both grew up in Astoria, Queens & started Major Conflict in 1982, sharing members with another classic NYHC band: Urban Waste. Dito went on to a modeling career & is currently an award winning director. Ray went on to sing for the late 80's band A-Bomb-A-Nation & along with his brother Ernie Parada from Token Entry, represent a long musical footnote in NYHC's history.
Ray 2nd from left & Dito in the middle, 1982.

Jose Gonzales from THE MOB
        Jose "Ho" Gonzales was a Dominican teenager from Jackson Heights, Queens & in 1980 helped form one the classic NYHC bands: The Mob. He played on both their 7"s & Lp as well as joining HR, from the Bad Brains, Zion Train project in the late 1980's. The Mob still play out periodically & continue to release new recordings.

Jose Gonzales @CBGB's in 1984

Tony Dust & Paul Dordal- Lower East Side Skinheads
       Tony Dust was a Puerto Rican skinhead from Brooklyn & along with Paul, of Puerto Rican/French descent, contributed to the development of the NYHC mindset. Tony never played in a band & Paul tried to w/Harley but they were both influential skinheads that hung out on the LES. According to Sean Taggart in 1981: "Paul had dropped out of school, went out to California, hung out at the Black Flag church, was there when Henry joined. He did the LA hardcore thing & came back as a Skinhead". He instructed kids on how to shave their hair & what fashions looked too "punk", he also wrote the Murphys Law song 'California Pipeline'. Tony was notorious for starting fights & right of center politics, views they both shared. His younger cousin, Javier (SOB) Carpio, was a prominent member of the Sunset Park Skins & would form the 90's metal-core band Merauder. RIP SOB

Tony Dust far left w/the Matinee crew 1983. Photo by Drew Carolan       

Paul Dordal on the right, outside CBGB's. Photo by Karen Sullivan
Ernie Parada from TOKEN ENTRY
    Ernie's parents are from Spain & he started Gilligans Revenge in 1980 with friends from his neighborhood in Astoria, Queens. Along with various line-up changes, they became Token Entry in 1984. He later went on to play in In Your Face, Black Train Jack, Arsons, Higher Giant & is currently in Grey Area as well as being a successful commercial illustrator.

Ernie 2nd from left w/Gilligan's Revenge in 1982

Abraham Rodriguez from URGENT FURY
               Abraham is a Puerto Rican raised in the South Bronx. In 1980 he started a band called White Riot which morph into Urgent Fury in 1982. Their more melodic strain of highly politically charged HC set them apart from what was going on in NYHC at the time, as demonstrated on their '84 demo. Abraham recently resurrected Urgent Fury with new members, he's also an accomplished writer. Check out an interview I did with him a couple of years ago:
Abraham Rodriguez @CBGB's in 1985

Jose Ochoa from LEEWAY
      Jose is of Colombian descent & along with some friends from his neighborhood in Astoria, Queens started up The Unruled in 1983. Credited with bringing a heavy crossover metal influence into the NYHC sound, they would change their name to Leeway by 1984.
Jose on the cover of Leeway's '85 Enforcer Demo
Jorge Herrera from THE CASUALTIES
     Jorge from The Casualties is known more as 90's punk phenomenon but Jorge's roots in the NYC scene lie deeper. Originally from Ecuador, he immigrated to the states in 1980 & started hanging out in the CBGB's scene soon after, he's in the crowd shot of Agnostic Front's 'Victim In Pain' Lp from 1984. He also started a short-lived band w/future Quicksand/The Deftones & Puerto Rican bassist Sergio Vega along with Chile-born Soledad Villanueva.
Jorge on the left in '92 @Rockin Rex, Yonkers.

       I could go on & on with tons of more examples like:
- Chris Colon (Hamilton), 1/2 Puerto rican singer of the ARMED CITIZENS
- a bunch of young Cuban teenagers that had a short lived band called NO REMORSE circa '85.
- Dominican Ralphie Boy, Squat Or Rot founder & Jesus Chrust/Disassociate singer.
- Rudy Ruiz fron Bronx HC/Metalheads THE UNJUST
- Early AGNOSTIC FRONT bassist Diego
    Not to mention all the post-'85 Latinos that started bands, did fanzines/record labels, hung out in the scene; something that continues to flourish to this day in the ever expanding universe known as NYHC.

Huge thanks to Ken Wagner, Sean Taggart, Loizos Gatzaris, Drew Stone, Denise Mercedes, Nunzio, Ray Parada, Mark Yoshitomi & Soledad Villanueva for all the info.

Like AF sang, this is for:
"Esto es para todos de la escuela nueva y para todos de la escuela vieja".



Friday, December 20, 2013

Last Cause in 1989


        It seems like everyone that loves music has at one point tried to make their own, the outcome being determined by one's inherent musical talent or lack therefore of it. I would definitely fall into the latter camp. By 1988 I was fully engrossed in the booming NY Hardcore scene: doing a fanzine, going to shows, buying as many demos/7"s/ Lp's & just soaking up the culture as much as I could.
         I decided to attempt playing guitar, got a cheap Sears catalog guitar/amp combo & enlisted a couple of friends to "jam" in my garage. I thought playing Oi! would suit my purposes better at this time before playing any faster (& harder to learn) HC jams. We formed an Oi! band, tentatively called " Last Cause" & set out to write simple 2-chord songs. We had a couple of practices where we didn't really get much done, preferring to pack up everything up when bored & pile into drummer Wayne's car  instead & cruise around northern Queens with our singer Roy making fun of the local Guidos.
         Things soon fizzled out as Paul the bassist joined a real practicing/writing songs all-the-time band called Fit Of Anger. I also got really busy at the time with putting together a compilation tape w/my friend Chaka Malik, which would become the New Breed Tape Compilation.

Bleecker Bob's ad looking for band members. No Metal!
          In early '89, I somehow got the idea to get a band going again & record a song for inclusion on the comp. I answered an ad on the wall of Bleecker Bob's records for a guitarist looking to start a HC band. The guy that placed the ad, John Patterson, turned out to be really cool; we had a lot of the same musical references so I brought back the name Last Cause & decided to use it for this new line-up. We quickly set out to recruit members, a couple of upstate NY guys answered our ad: Mike (vocals) John (bass) & a drummer (Ted Gogoll) was introduced to us by mutual friend Tom Colomara.
          John Patterson wrote a couple of songs & showed me where to place my fingers for the chord progressions as I was always really inept in that department. We jammed a couple of times at a real rehearsal space called Big Fun but got banned for allegedly damaging some equipment. I wrote lyrics to 2 songs that we had music for (No New Dreams & Days Gone By). Mike enthusiastically sang what I'd written, it was such a cool feeling to have someone else perform something you've had a hand in creating.
           As the New Breed comp was almost ready, we rushed into Don Fury's studio to record the songs & pick the best version. The details are fuzzy but for some reason or other, our bassist John couldn't make the recording so I asked my friend Chris Benetos from Fit Of Anger to fill in on bass, to which he graciously agreed. We picked "No New Dreams" to be our contribution to the compilation.

           We had no clue what we were doing in the studio so we just pressed record & ran through the song just like at rehearsal. The finished product was not like I wanted it to be at the time so I scrapped the idea of putting it on the comp. Honestly, after listening to the material bands like Absolution, Collapse, Beyond & others that had submitted songs for the compilation; I felt intimidated that our stuff wasn't up to par or that my lack of talent held the band back. We disbanded soon after, Mike moved on to sing for this upstate NY band called Powersurge, John Patterson & Ted moved on to other projects, John the bassist disappeared & I hung up my guitar for good.
            I purposely never labeled the tape were the recording was so it got lost in between the hundreds of cassettes I have. It wasn't through reconnecting with Ted a couple of years ago, that I heard those recordings once again. I have to say that in retrospect, they're not that bad, no better or worse than some of the stuff that was around back then. Me & Ted had a discussion that, at the time, I thought we were going for an Agnostic Front "United Blood" sound on those songs, he thought we were attempting more of a Supertouch groove-like vibe. Funny how perceptions are so different! At times, under the right circumstances, the song sounds to me like early Die Kruezen with mosh parts, at other times, it's like Youth Of Today covering Project X or vice versa.

"Introspective" lyrics written by me for our 2nd song.
            25 years later, I am proud to have been part of this, to have the chance to experience what the camaraderie of being in a band entails. Doing logos, shirts, lyrics, going to the CBGB's matinees on sundays after rehearsing... All great memories to which I'm forever thankful to the guys in the band.

I'm also glad to still be in touch with John Patterson & Ted Gogoll.

I'm happy to report that they persisted in creative endeavors, John played guitar in the hugely underrated HC/Metal band Taste Of Fear in 1992. In the mid-90's he started the heavy electronics project Woe Is Me, which he continues 'til this day. Check it out at:

Ted Gogoll has become a published writer with his novel called "Echoes Of A Killing" & a collection of short stories on the way. Check it out at:

As far as Mike the singer & John the bassist, haven't spoken to them in ages, but I recently got their phone numbers. Time I give them a call!

Hand-screened shirt done by John Patterson in 1989.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Freestyle Forever

Freestyle Ground Zero: The Funhouse on 26th St.
               Ah, Freestyle. The sound of unrequited love in a melodramatic lyrical form sung over electro beats as performed by mostly hispanic/black kids from NYC's 5 boroughs circa the 1980's & early '90s. Just like other regional musical sub-genres, such as Washington DC's go-go scene, Freestyle never broke out on a national scale. Clubs like the Funhouse, the Saint, L'amours East; played host to a vibrant subculture that staked out a unique identity with its own fashion & rituals that stood out in stark contrast to that other "inner city" phenomenon taking place simultaneously: the nascent Hip-Hop scene.
                Hundreds of local 12"s were released with hit single potential, major labels started sniffing around & found Freestyle performers that could be groomed for the big leagues, local radio stations played the hell out of their material with a rabid fan base that was expanding outside of NYC; everything seemed ready for Freestyle to crossover on to a major scale & then...things fizzled out. 
                Whether it was the ascendence of other dance genres like House/Techno, the reluctance of major labels to promote an urban-centric sound or even the stylistic limitations of the music itself; we'll never really know what caused Freestyle to implode & become a cherished musical memory for people of a certain age.
              I've done this top ten list as a tribute to those times & for my wife who is the Freestyle Queen. So, get those silk dress shirts on with the pleated pants & rolled up cuffs. Slip into a pair of Capezios, style that hair with Aqua Net. Spray yourself with a dash of Dakar & finish off the look with a stylish long black leather trench coat.

My Top Ten:
   A classic  by Noel that embodies all the melancholic qualities of the genre. After a loud night, all you're left with sometimes is a...

Cynthia is one of the undisputed queens of Freestyle that went back to a regular 9 to 5 job once the spotlight faded, like so many in this music.

 No Freestyle list would be complete without Tony, Kayel & Angel!

I saw Nayobe perform this in 1985, at a roller skating rink in Queens, great memories!

Coro acted in tons of episodes of Miami Vice before starting his Freestyle career which still continues to this day, god bless him.

Brooklyn born & Miami raised diva Debbie Deb sang this haunting tune that has been sampled to death. If there's any kind of justice out there, she's received royalties, we can only hope...

Watch this video for the clothes, dancing, old NYC footage & of course; the charismatic Mr. Lamond. Baffles me why he didn't become a Megastar.

There were many Freestyle girl groups & the Cover Girls were the torchbearers. If you're a female & grew up listening to this music, you know the dance moves for this song like the back of your hand.

Judy Torres is one of the few performers to successfully transition from the Freestyle era to House music & other dance genres that continually update her profile to newer audiences, kudos!

This stone cold classic by Lisa Lisa was a huge hit in the pop market & seemed to herald a Freestyle invasion that sadly didn't happen. I always remember a high school buddy of mine dropping out to become a back up dancer for her. I wonder whatever happened to him...

Those are my favorite tracks, any Freestyle connoisseur would probably disagree & substitute their picks, but we can all agree this song by Shannon laid down the foundation, so much so, that Freestyle was also called the "Shannon Sound" in the beginning. This along with Afrikkaa Bambaataa's "Planet Rock" & Jellybean Benitez's "The Mexican", are the main components that kicked off the party.

See you all at the annual Freestyle reunion concert held at Madison Square Garden!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

See Hear Now!

        I was lucky enough to work in 1990, for about 10 months, at what was undoubtedly the world's only store dedicated exclusively to fanzines, a 'lil emporium called SEE HEAR.
        The store was located inside a 300 sq ft basement on 59 east 7th st in Manhattan's rapidly gentrifying (at the time) East Village. I'd first heard about the place when Greg Ginn's post Black Flag outfit, Gone, played an "in-store" concert there. I missed said gig, but I can't imagine for the life of me how they fit more than 12-15 people down there, band included.
I got to know the owner, Ted Gottfried, through selling my fanzine there & spending countless of hours just perusing every publication like it was some kind of public library. I don't recall exactly how I got the job, probably because I happened to be there just at the moment when someone quit & decided to apply for his position. I had no retail experience, my last job had been as a foot messenger, but my connection to the current HC scene is most likely what drove Ted to hire me. Ted's background was the South Florida HC/Punk scene from the early 1980's & whatever was happening by 1990, scene-wise, was passé for him by then.
         I thought I was bought in to keep him informed on current trends in HC but it was I that got the education. Working there exposed me to all the under the radar influences that helped shape underground culture then and now. Everything from Robert Crumb comics, obscure B-movies, Body Modification pioneers, Apocalyptic Cult Leaders to outsider music like unhinged 50's Rockabilly/60's Free Jazz & Proto-Punk pioneers from decades past.
           Apart from myself, the store's other sole employee was a DC to NY transplant named Reuben Radding. He'd grown up in the capital's HC scene, even playing in a pre-fame Dave Grohl related outfit called Dain Bramage. Reuben had a stellar taste in music, always making these detailed compilation tapes to play in the store. One in particular sticks out: Goblin's 'Suspiria' soundtrack on one side with Sun Ra's 'Space Is The Place' Lp on the other with a couple of James White & The Contortions tunes to fill up the remaining space. Still the perfect mix-tape in my opinion. I'll always remember when Nirvana's breakthrough song came on the radio in '91, Reuben turned to no one in particular and said: "Man, that Dave's gonna be a millionaire" & went back to reading some Jazz publication. 
      I met tons of legendary performers & writers during my tenure there, some highlights:
- Patti Smith coming down to sell us an unopened batch of her Seventh Heaven poetry books that'd she unearthed.
- Blasting some Gangsta Rap while Thurston Moore waited impatiently outside the door for me to open up.
- Meeting Nick Tosches at a book signing we held, hell of a writer & super nice guy.
- Talking to Twink of the legendary Proto-Punk band The Pink Fairies & having him autograph my copy of his solo lp called 'Think Pink'.
- Taking a picture w/Joey Shithead & Randy Rampage of DOA when they made the cover of MaximumRocknRoll.

      Seeing legends like Allen Ginsburg, Richard Hell, David Peel, Ornette Coleman, Handsome Dick Manitoba, Cecil Taylor, Legs McNeil etc.. come in on a regular basis was incredibly exciting. These pioneers of the whole 1960's-1970's counterculture were all unique characters that represented a NYC that's sadly, for the most part, vanished like subway tokens.

      I got let go in 1991, mostly due to me being chronically late. I was trying to juggle school full-time & also got way too involved with running a co-op record store some friends and I started. In a way it was for the best because I went back to being a regular customer, just going to See Hear with no retail obligations to worry about. Ted kept the store going until the early 2000's when he got some investors together & opened a new location on St. Marks that was about 4 times the size of the old one. I liked the new space, as it meant a hell of a lot more room to carry cool stuff, something the old store sorely lacked. Doing bigger & better meant a lot more headaches: higher rent, bigger staff, the need for security to be on the lookup for shoplifters. A lot of old customers complained of the loss of intimacy in the new space. That location soon folded & I heard Ted tried to make a go of it again on a smaller scale, but for whatever reason, that didn't pan out.

         I haven't seen Ted for a long time but always think of him & the store whenever I go down 7th street on my way to play chess at Tompkins Sq Park. His unique vision helped expand & turn on a whole generation, myself included, to an alternative view of popular culture & for that I'm forever thankful.

Down the stairs of the old See Hear location in 2013
My old co-worker, Reuben Radding, is not only a talented musician & astute music lover, he's also an accomplished photographer. A book of his Street Photography is being published by the end of the year, check out his site & pre-order one!


Monday, July 8, 2013

Victor Venom & Sacrilege NY

   Victor "Venom" Dominicis was a founding member of Sacrilege NY. He's played in Nausea, Reagan Youth, Hellbent, Damage Kase, Chaos UK & currently leads the surf combo Coffin Daggers.
Parts of this interview were used on the booklet of the Sacrilege 1985 Demos Lp.

Victor outside CBGB's 1984.

Give me some background on Sacrilege’s beginning: how did you meet Adam Mucci, who the other members were & when did the band start?
 All that stuff happened really fast. Sometimes when I think back I’m really shocked at how much happened in such a short time. The whole history of the band is like a year & a half. We started Sacrilege in 1984, don’t remember exactly how I met Adam, probably from going to shows when he was in Agnostic Front & Murphy’s Law.
He was also in Rat Poison (pre-Warzone) right?
 I don’t remember them! Adam was going through all these stages when I met him. He went from the Skinhead thing to this ’82 British Punk look & that morphed into a total Peace Punk thing. This is right around the time I joined Reagan Youth. I was hanging out with him plus Tim & Clay (Sacrilege drummer & singer) & whoever else was around back then.
Where were Tim & Clay from?
They were originally from Virginia Beach. I joined Reagan Youth & went on tour with them cross-country. A little before that, Adam had like freaked out, sold all his stuff & said he was moving out to California. He sold everything, took a sheet of acid, hopped on a Greyhound bus & just left. I went on with Reagan Youth across America & when we got to San Francisco, Adam was out there. He was like living on rooftops out there & wanted to come back to NY.
Was he playing in a band out there?
He was playing drums in this band called Almost Human? I think it was with 2 girls, a song of theirs appears on the P.E.A.C.E. comp. Actually Barely Human was their name. Adam is not on that recording, we wasn’t into  living in SF & wanted to come back to NY. Reagan Youth wasn’t everything I envisioned it was going to be. So I said “Well, why don’t we make a band when we get back to NY?”. Sure enough, when we both returned, we started Sacrilege up & it progressed really fast, did the demo & started to play out.
How many shows did you play all together?
I don’t know, it’s hard to say, maybe 7 to 10 total.
I know Sacrilege went up to Montreal with Reagan Youth, how did that come about?
We went up there because this guy was doing a thing called Connection 85, trying to connect the Montreal & NY scenes.
He did a compilation Lp with that concept right?
Yeah, we weren’t on it but SCAB, Vomit & The Zits, Krakdown were. We just went up to play a gig & that was a fun adventure.
Was Sacrilege a conscious decision to be different from other Punk/HC bands in NY at that time, by going in a more Discharge/Crucifix direction?
When we started the band, NY at the time was in a weird state. The Skinhead/Nazi thing was starting to get popular. When I got into the scene, it was more Punk Rock, HC/Punk you know? To me HC was HC/Punk. All these people in the scene were becoming dumb skinheads. We were a bit isolated, we didn’t have a clique or group to be around with.
No bands that sounded like you guys in NY?
There was nothing like us going on at that time. It was a bit strange in that sense. We weren’t exactly accepted, that’s what I’m getting at. Adam had been a Skinhead in Agnostic Front, so we were tolerated, like a stepchild kind of thing.

You had also played in Hellbent & Damage Kase previous to Sacrilege right?
I was in Hellbent while it lasted, for like 6 months, before starting Sacrilege. Damage Kase was a dumb High School cover band, mostly Motorhead songs. No recordings exist of that!
How big was the Discharge & UK bands influence?
That’s what we were into. I never liked American HC. I only liked Black Flag & the Dead Kennedys, but not into most USHC bands, especially not the whole straight edge stuff.
Were you going for the whole bullet belt/spiky hair look?
Oh yeah, absolutely! Total textbook example, we were one of the few people doing that stuff in NY.
After you did the 9-song demo in early ’85, how did the deal for the 7” with an Italian record label come about?
The Italians in that band I Refuse It were going to put it out. An Italian girl was in NY for the summer, hung out with us & when she went back home started writing to us saying “yeah, we’ll put your record out”. We recorded 4 songs from the demo for a 7’ ep, got hung up on the cover art & dragged our feet on it. Adam did get test pressings & I heard them only one time, thought it sounded good. Clay quit the band & we got his friend Fish to sing, but we never finished the cover design, Then Tim quit & they both went back to Virginia Beach. The record went into limbo & it was never finished.
The label didn’t want to put it out?
Since we never finished the artwork, they got stuck holding it. Adam was dealing with them & everything just drifted apart.
The cover we are using for the Demos Lp is the same 7” artwork?
Yeah, that was supposed to be the front cover of the 7”. Clay drew that, after he quit, it remained unfinished. A lot of stuff was happening really fast in those days. This was all probably in a matter of months & then it fell apart; well it morphed into Nausea.
We’ll get to Nausea in a minute! The 2nd  Sacrilege demo, recorded at Bolt Studios, is more in a Metal direction, why is that?
That was because Tim & Clay started listening to a lot of German Metal that was coming out at the time, the real raw early stuff like Sodom. None of those bands could really play, so it was barely Metal, don’t know what to call that music. It was loud & obnoxious. I liked Venom & that stuff seemed like a natural progression.
Good segway into why are you called Victor Venom?
That’s because of a Venom piece on my jacket that I wore for like forever. The main thing I didn’t like about that 2nd demo we did at Bolt Studios is the singing. Clay was trying to do the Metal style vocals & he really wasn’t cutting it.
Did you ever play those songs live?
Nah, I don’t even remember them. It was just a studio thing. We were probably hoping that would be our next phase, but everything fell apart then.

Moving on to Nausea. I know a couple of Sacrilege songs, like “Fallout”, became Nausea tunes. Which other ones?
Well, “House the Homeless” from Sacrilege became the template for the Nausea song “Smash Racism” which later became “Here Today”, same riff. “Productive Not Destructive” is another tune that was carried over from Sacrilege. I can’t remember which Sacrilege song became “Right To Live” in Nausea. “Fallout” of course & just various riffs & ideas were carried over.
“Fallout” seems like it’s the song that stayed pretty much the same in both bands?
When we started Nausea, that was the 1st tune we jammed on & when we started playing out; it became a staple in our set. Nobody really remembered the Sacrilege stuff. Here’s another thing: We were going to change the name of the band of the band to Nausea towards the end. We found out that there was UK Sacrilege & another one from Vancouver. That was one too many Sacrileges. I came up with the name Nausea. Adam was cool with it but Tim was like: “I’m never playing in a band with a name like that” & this is coming from a guy that wanted to be know as Vomit! Those guys left NY after the band broke up. Adam was losing interest & he joined Raging Slab.
I think he played in an early incarnation of Raging Slab & appeared on a compilation cut?
Yeah, that sounds about right. I took the good concepts of Sacrilege & used them for Nausea. This guy named John Guzman (John John Jesse) was the biggest Sacrilege fan, he interviewed us for his fanzine called “Living Free”. He must have been like 16 yrs old. Don’t remember how we met him, one day he started hanging out with us & started printing our lyrics in his ‘zine. This is before he became known as John John Jesse. So when Sacrilege fell apart, I wasn’t too thrilled with joining Reagan Youth again. John was trying to start a band with Neil Robinson & this kid Brian who was also friends with Tim & Clay. He was playing drums, this guy named Kemo played guitar & it was going nowhere. One day we were hanging out & I said let’s jam. John had the basics for 4 songs & had 4 songs that I brought over from Sacrilege. It seemed like a “you got your peanut butter in my chocolate” kind of deal, an easy transition.
Why do all the flyers of the band that I’ve seen always spell Sacrilege differently?
Well, the proper way is without the D or edge at the end. If we ever spelt it wrong it was because of pure retardation on our part & whoever did the flyers messed it up too.
Whatever happened to Tim & Clay?
They moved back to Virginia Beach & that’s the last I ever saw of them, dropped off the face of the earth as far as I know. I think they dropped out of Punk Rock & moved into a more Metal direction.
Anybody ever asked you Sacrilege throughout the years?
Not really because it was a bit of an obscure kind of band, it was really short-lived.
When I made you a copy of my Sacrilege demo, you hadn’t heard it in a while right?
We were looking for it for years; I hadn’t heard it or had it for ages!
I got my copy off your old college buddy Big Marlon in 1987.
That’s another thing; I’m convinced Adam had the masters to the original demo, who knows how many generations ago that is. Like I said, as soon as it was done, it was out of sight & out of mind. I just focused on my next project.

What do you think of revisiting all this stuff now?
I like it because it was one of those things that never got finished. Nausea ended up being what we tried to do with Sacrilege. When Sacrilege was around, we felt like we were alone in the wilderness. About 6 months after Nausea started, the whole Squat Or Rot scene started. Not that we’re taking credit for that, but there were a lot of people that were disenfranchised from the scene. A lot of them felt that there was no place for them if you weren’t a Skinhead or a HC Straight Edge person.  They said: “Hey, we’re not alone”. Bands like Public Nuisance, A.P.P.L.E., Apostates, Insurgence plus others all of a sudden came out of nowhere & started a scene outside of the HC scene.
I’m sure you are aware of the whole D-Beat tag. You guys seemed to be ahead of the curve by doing that style in 1984.
Yeah, we were one of the earliest “D-Beat” bands. We were copying Discharge, Disorder & Chaos UK plus those Swedish bands like Anti-Cimex. They (Anti-Cimex) should get the credit for D-Beat, even though it wasn’t called that back then. I think the Minneapolis guys in the late 80’s named it as such. There was Appendix & Anti-Cimex. They were the progenitors. We were the first East Coast D-Beat band: that was our thing, that’s what we were into.
Bring us up to date. What have you been up to these days?
I’ve been doing Surf music for the past 10 years. After Nausea broke up I joined Chaos UK & did that until I got deported from England. I wasn’t playing music for a while until I started this Surf band called the Coffin Daggers & now all this Punk Rock stuff is popping up again.
Any talk of a Nausea reunion?
I saw Roy the other day. I think him doing Amebix  for the past couple of years has inspired him to play Punk again. John (John Jesse) Guzman is around & Al has resurfaced so we’ve all discussed the possibility of doing a new record.
Is Amy involved? I heard all these rumours about her throughout the years, they range from her becoming a doctor to a stripper?
Amy wants nothing to do with Nausea. She has Doctor’s career now so the stripper rumour wasn’t true, she is  a Doctor! The one about her being a Republican & hanging out with George Bush hasn’t been corroborated yet. She’s at George Washington University hospital. When we did the Nausea anthology, the guy that put it out wanted to give her some money for it. She wouldn’t take it, she was like: “If I take it, I’ll be investigated” & all this shit. Any reunion we do will be without her.
OK! Thank you for the interview, anything else you want to add?
When I think about it, it seems like a lot of stuff happened in such a short period of time. I always looked back at it like: “Well, it didn’t quite pan out, but it was a stepping stone to something else”. I’m happy that this is coming out now. Back then, it hadn’t come to fruition yet, it wasn’t fully formed. The ideas were there but it wasn’t the right cast of characters. Thank you guys for bringing it all back.

Check out Victor's current band:

Victor holding the Lp in 2013.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Spiky Hair & Bullet Belts in NYHC

             These are the liner notes for the recently released SACRILEGE NY 1985 Demos Lp. A split release on Radio Raheem & Wardance Records. Big thanks to Chris Minicucci & Rich Warwick for making this record possible. Pick it up here:

Spiky Hair & Bullet Belts in NYHC 

            1985 was a weird transitional time for the hardcore scene in NYC. A lot of the original class of '82 bands were either in limbo, had disbanded or were heading into a more crossover metal direction. The Revelation/straight edge scene and second wave of NYHC bands were a year away from fully exploding. Along comes Sacrilege, formed in late '84, and their aim to couple Discharge-inspired sonic fury with a peace punk aesthetic. Bassist Adam Mucci's previous tenure in Agnostic Front gave them a safe pass from skinheads, and along with guitarist Victor Venom, previously in Reagan Youth, they recruited 2 Virginia Beach transplants and Sacrilege was born.
           Their confrontational style of spiky hair, Crass/Flux Of Pink Indians stencils on jackets and military fatigues give voice to a totally separate group that longs for a band of their own. They played less than a dozen shows & imploded by late 1985. 
One can only guess how they would have fared as their sound & style laid the foundation for the parallel Squat Or Rot scene that sprung up during the late 1980's. Victor would take several Sacrilege songs into his next project, Nausea, the most notable being Fallout, which became the signature Nausea tune as heard on the Revelation Records' "The Way It Is" compilation LP. 
          The nine short, sharp cuts from the Don Fury sessions and the six howling, primitive metal workouts from Bolt Studios, both recorded in 1985, bear witness to an overlooked band that provides a missing link to the development of hardcore punk in this rat cage of a big city we know as New York.
Freddy Alva 2013

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John John Jesse, Tim Copeland from Sacrilege & Adam/Laura from RAF Punk outside CBGB's 1985.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

This Music

           I recently had the good fortune to publish a book, written by my old friend Lewis Dimmick. It's a 66 page tome with personal anecdotes of growing up in NYC & being into HC/Metal in the 1980's. Unlike other books about said subject matter, this one is not filled with facts & figures, it's focus is more of a literary approach to capturing a particular moment in time. He accomplishes this by using eloquent prose that at times reaches haiku-like levels in economy of delivery & precise wording with poetic sensibility. I could go on trying to describe it, but why don't I let the words speak for themselves. A huge debt of gratitude to Sean Taggart for drawing such an incredible work of art for the cover.The following is a couple of excerpts from the book. If you like what you read, please pick it up here in full:

Victim In Pain III
           An explosion rocks the Lower East Side of New York City. Manhole covers blow clear. Rats scatter through the streets. The bursting intro chord that begins the title track to Agnostic Front's Victim in Pain never fails to jolt the system.
           It's raw and dirty, as New York City was back then, not slick and polished, as New York City is now, as hardcore records are now.
           It's genius songwriting, though the playing is ordinary; it's clear that what made it onto vinyl is the entirety of the band's capabilities; it's clear they possessed exactly what was needed and no more, which is to say that on this record they achieved the maximum outcome possible with what little they had; they took what little they had and shaped into greatness.

Going Off
            Walking to the Pyramid Club, I bumped into Jules, the singer for Side By Side. The conversation came around to the fact that Side By Side needed a bass player. I offered my services. "Do you go off when you play?" he immediately asked.
Did I jump around a lot when I played? That's what he was asking.
Did I jump high in the air when I played, pounding the air with my fist?
Did I make psychotic faces when I played, demonized by the music's fury?
Did I scream lyrics when I played, scream them straight down the crowd's throat?
"Yea, I go off" I said. "You know, if I feel it, if the music moves me".
One look at me and I'm sure he could tell I did not go off. I was shy and pudgy, fearful of dramatic movements. which tended to make my flab jiggle.
We went our separate ways at The Pyramid Club and never spoke again.

This Music
   This music that amplified my life
   This music- this art that
   survives death, opposes death, that is
   the furious opposite of death.

   This music. These roots. This tribe.

   I walk through my silent house
   this music in my body.

The man behind the words.

Follow This Music's page on Facebook for details on the upcoming event for the book in NYC.

Original cover sketch by Sean Taggart.