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: http://quixoticdreamsnyc.blogspot.com/2011/03/abraham-rodriguez-so-bronx-tale.html
|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".