Thursday, December 27, 2012

Government Issue: Taking a Stabb at their hardcore roots at upcoming DC gig / Interview

Government Issue -- John Stabb in the middle. (Jim Saah photo/Dischord Web site)

By Andy 

My old buddy Hank gets credit for this one.

While hauling down the freeway to a gig at a former dilapidated bowling alley in the San Fernando Valley — Godzilla's it was now christened — in 1981, Hank popped a tape into the deck of our yellow Gremlin, heroically driven by my brother, Ed.

"Supertramp gives me a cramp, and I don't wanna go to camp," John Stabb from Government Issue sang on "Rock and Roll Bullshit."

It was mine and Ed's first taste of G.I., a band we were itching to hear for a few months after their name was bandied about in our Southern California/South Bay punk circle. That's some good shit, right there, we thought.

We soon snagged the band's "Legless Bull" EP and later continued to dig the band on the stellar "Boycott Stabb" release — one of my all-time faves with its rock-and-roll — no bullshit — edge and hardcore wildness.

When I finally got to see the band live at the Sun Valley Sportsman's Hall in 1983, the wiry Stabb came on stage with duct tape wrapped around parts of his body, lunging at the crowd while spouting his sarcastic lyrics. The band was tight. The mood was frenzied. Just right, my friend John and I said to each other afterward.

This weekend, G.I. will take part in the "Salad Days: The DC Punk Revolution" documentary party in the nation's capitol with Youth Brigade, Black Market Baby, Kingface, Scream and Dag Nasty.

We caught up with Stabb via email and he sent back some words of wisdom that should set the tone for this weekend's festivities.

A shirtless Stabb backed by solid musicians. (Jim Saah photo/Dischord Web site)

**Just some personal info to start: age; family info -- married, kids?; still live in DC?; do you play in any bands?

My birth name is not important (and most people only know me by my stage name so ...) John Stabb. 51 years bold. Separated but with my boy, Cat-Astrophe: Gentleman cat about town. In WDC again after many years in MD. History Repeated is my band now and Government Issue is my band then.

**What have things been like in the G.I. camp recently? Preparing for the "Salad Days" gig? Who will grace the stage for GI at that gig and what can attendees expect on the set list? 

After recently receiving tentative set lists from the other G.I.s, we've all decided on doing our best to re-create WDC H/C circa '82. So the songs we chose are going to surprise some (they surprised me!) and excite others. This is the "Make an Effort" lineup with: Tom Lyle-bass, Brian Baker-guitar and (generously donating his talents) Colin Sears (Dag Nasty) on drums. Oh, for better or worse, I'm married to the role of frontperson to the group. And we just had our first rehearsal today! It went pretty good, but by the time of the gig: Priceless. And thankfully I don't have to endure any songs that give me a panic attack. I'm serious because there's at least a few that I'd rather have a long pointy stick in the eye than ever do again-ha!

**You guys were all over the map musically (punk, rock, psych)-- what kept G.I. rolling with each album throughout the '80s?

We were too stupid to do anything else-ha! Actually, I was thinking about this the other night after Brian left and Tom took over the mighty axe and I can honestly answer: Tom Lyle. If Tom didn't stick it out with me for the 8 years that he was in G.I., I don't think I would've kept the G-Issue train a-rolling. Sure we fought like Mick and Keef because being in a band for that long together was like a crazy marriage. Sometimes up and other times incredibly down. But our intense angry/happy relationship fueled the fire that made G.I. what it was. It wasn't the easiest thing to replace longtime drummer/friend Marc Alberstadt but we tried with a short-lived but incredibly talented drummer, Sean Saley (who's now in Pentagram) until Peter Moffett entered the picture. And musically we always just wanted to challenge ourselves and not be predictable. In doing this, we won over newer fans and lost some of the Old Schoolers who missed the bang and howl. That's cool with me.

Courtesy photo

**Solid musicianship was a G.I. hallmark-- what was it like playing with those guys?

G.I. was always fortunate enough to find some amazingly talented players, but for the first years, Marc was the solid backbone that just made the rest of us look good. If the rest of us made a mistake, nobody noticed because Marc was so freaking great! Playing with Sean (like the endless bassists we went through) brought in new blood and that was good for the old cats like Tom and myself. And then James Robbins joined when Marc was still an original G.I. That gave J. a huge advantage in the group. But Peter entered and clicked so well with J. that the ultimate punk-rock rhythm section was born. And Tom and I were finally able to do everything we couldn't do with Marc's college schedule: 2-month European/N.American tours was a huge deal for us. And Tom being forced into the guitarist role early on had him writing 80% of the songs until our new rhythm section offered their wonderful ideas. At that point, I felt G.I. was an unstoppable force. And I know this made Tom happy, too.

**What's your favorite G.I. album, and why?

My personal favorite has always been "You" and a close follow-up would be the "S/T" release. Every G.I. recording has had some of my blood, soul and emotions pouring out of the grooves so I would never say I met a G.I. record I never liked. What feels the most intense for me in the "You" album would be: the writing. It was a very mixed-up time in a relationship I probably never should have been in. But I have no regrets. I've learned that suffering through the worst brings out the best in my lyrics. I also mean the writing musically because I love the sound and the playing on that one. The experimentation we were toying with on the "S/T" (or as some call "5") record before it, just blew up on "You."

**Who influenced you as a singer and energetic frontman? What about the clothes-- where did your fashion sense come from? What were some of your more memorable outfits?

Well, it would all depend upon what time frame or recording for me. "Legless Bull" was me being Jello Jr. because I worshipped at the altar of Dead Kennedys.

"Boycott Stabb" was my infatuation with all thing Jack Grisham (TSOL) and that went for my thrift-shop chic. I'm proud to be the only "Clown Prince of WDC Punk" in the early '80s when most of my punk-band friends were just sporting your basic T-shirt and jeans. I also dug Nick Cave's hairstyle so that's when the "Cave-wave" kicked in. I loved The Birthday Party like nobody's business!

I was still confusing the punk-rock troops by "Give Us Stabb or Give Us Death" being a Mock-star with my cheesy '80s metal outfits. I thought I was looking like Stephen Pearcy (RATT) with all my make-up, bad perm and fringy wardrobe but ended up resembling some silly "Rocky Horror" (ugh!) fan. Or for any of you readers from the mid-'70s ... Mac Davis-ha!

And I think everyone who listened to "You" could tell I was heavily influenced by Dave Vanian. I even wanted G.I. to start sounding like The Damned. I certainly can hear it vocally and musically on that record, as well as the "S/T" one.

Too many memorable outfits to name but the gem I wore opening up for The Misfits was an electric neon-green (in the spotlight it could sear the human eye!) tuxedo with tails over a large white with red polka-dotted dress shirt. I think that one left a great impression upon Danzig and his Groovie Ghoulies thinking I looked like a fucking clown. I succeeded in irritating a few folks and entertaining the rest that evening. I was very proud of myself that night!

Courtesy photos

**Your lyrics dripped with sarcasm, but were also serious and profound -- Did writing lyrics help you deal with life experiences, good or bad?

Yeah, I can really be one hell of a sarcastic mofo, but I did pour my heart out on a page/studio/stage by the time "Joyride" was written. I've even heard that some of my lyrics for songs like "Understand" were straight out of the letters of a suicide note. I was dealing with some hardcore depression/fatigue during the writing for that one.

Music has always been an emotional outlet and therapy session for me. If I didn't have that kind of primal scream back then, I'd be in jail or a mental facility somewhere. People have told me that G.I. helped them get through some difficult times back in school and all but punk rock kept me alive and kicking. Not that I'm completely on top of everything now, but I was a real mixed-up piece of work in the '80s. These days I find I need a little medication to curb some of the depression, anger and focus on things. I do the best I can in this life. And on that positive, uplifting note ... next question?

**You played a ton of shows in the U.S. and Europe --- where were some of the memorable ones?

The time I spent with G.I. in Europe was a very special time for me. Definitely an eye-opening experience! The first time in the winter of '86.

A couple particular gigs were as follows: Scherpueheuvel, Belgium, G.I. played this big hall where the punk kids dressed up in swimming gear (swimming caps, speedos, googles) to dive off the huge PA stacks into the crowd! It was some kind of wacky but I've never seen anything like it ... ever! Nobody got hurt and it was all so silly but I doubt this would go over at a Fugazi gig.

Another was in Leutkirch, Germany. It was Halloween so we decided to get into the spirit and dress up as something completely different. Unbeknownst to us foolish Americans, folks in Germany didn't celebrate our little tradition. J. dressed up as Mike Muir (in full Cholo-gang look), Tom borrowed my groovy Nehru jacket to be Syd Barret, I went for the Nick Cave-pale junkie (with magic marker heroin holes on my arms!) thing and Pete was a Grape. A grape you ask? Pete told us how (as a wee lad) he told his parents he wanted to be a Grape for Halloween so they dressed him up in his bathing suit and his Mom's headband. Then they told me he was a Grape so when Pete went to people's doors trick or treating (with parents behind him!) the confused homeowner would ask, "And what are you for Halloween?" Pete answered enthusiastically "I'm a Grape!" Apparently everyone got a good laugh and our future little drummer boy knew nothing of looking like a surfer. Anyhoo, we had a blast doing our thing but didn't find out till afterwards from our guide from Amsterdam about the "not celebrating Halloween" deal. Apparently the crowd thought we were rockstars and always dressed like this.

Courtesy photo

**What would you most like G.I. to be remembered for?

Hopefully we'll never become as famous and worshipped like some of my peers bands: Minor Threat, Black Flag, etc. I'm happy just having a cult following. And never tossing my cookies all over a stage like my friends, Lady Justin and Ga-Ga Beaver.

**Does Supertramp still give you a cramp? Do you appreciate a little "Breakfast in America" in your older years?

You bet your bippy! And I still don't wanna go to camp-ha!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Can you say 'Dag Nasty gig'? Yes, it's on the way

Vintage Brian Baker, six-string freestyle. (Courtesy photo)
By Andy

From four strings to six -- a solid move.

Back in 1982 when Minor Threat went the five-piece route and Brian Baker switched from bass to second guitar, the band unleashed a fuller sound with more intricate guitar passages on the "Out of Step" EP. I was stoked to no end. It was a stellar slab of vinyl, to the say the least, and the band kicked it up a notch in the live setting, as well.

"Brian's a very rock 'n rolly guitarist, and if he keeps it up we're either going to go back to him on bass or just call it quits. Who knows? Maybe we'll add a brass and woodwinds section, too!" Minor Threat drummer Jeff Nelson wrote to me in a letter around that time.

Baker, who also handled axe duties in Government Issue in the early '80s, took the reins of his own band -- the formidable Dag Nasty -- in '85. His guitaristry was finesse galore -- equal parts chunky, melody and power -- and gave fire to the band's debut album, "Can I Say." The group's career spanned from '85-'88 and also featured the "Wig Out at Denko's" and "Field Day" albums; two more records, "Four on the Floor" and "Minority of One," were released in '92 and '02, respectively.

They'll be part of the "Salad Days: The DC Punk Revolution" documentary party in the nation's capitol on Dec. 28-29, playing a short set along with Youth Brigade, Black Market Baby, Kingface, Scream and GI.

Dag Nasty's 25-minute set will feature Baker and original members Shawn Brown on vocals, Roger Marbury on bass and Colin Sears on drums.

Baker stresses that there's no reunion tour in the works--- it's a gig for the here and now.

Dag Nasty, 2012: From left, Baker, Marbury, Brown and Sears. (Courtesy photo)

Here's a quick email interview with Baker:

**How did the "Salad Days" show come about?

An old friend of the band is making the movie, and when he asked us if we would help raise money to complete the film by playing a benefit, we said yes.

**How are things going with rehearsals-- dusting off those old tunes?

We have only hung out once, and that was a few months ago.... everyone is just playing along with the Dag with Shawn record at home (or singing along in Shawn's case.....) We're planning to get together a few days before the show and see what's what.

**The band's last show was in 1988 and the last one with Shawn singing was in 1985... did you ever think you'd get this band back together -- if just for one night -- again?

It's not something I gave too much thought to, to be honest, but I was always open to the possibility, and I'm really excited about the show.

**Dag Nasty fans have been wondering why it's Shawn on vocals for this show and not Dave (Smalley) or Peter (Cortner) or even all three trading off vocals. What's the lowdown on the singer choice?

It's Shawn's turn. His record came out last. (The "Dag With Shawn" Dischord release in '10, which consists of the original "Can I Say" recording session.)

**You've been involved with many bands, which means there are many songs you've had in your brain over time ... where do Dag Nasty songs stand amongst all of them?

Solidly in the middle.

**Was it easy or tough guitar-wise getting the songs happening again? Did they bring back memories from the old days while relearning them?

Strangely, the songs were pretty easy to remember, but a lot of them are a little too fast for my hands these days. I've been working on ways to cheat without anyone noticing.

**Each era of the band had solid songs-- will there be equal representation at the gig or just "Can I Say" tunes?

We're going to try to play everything from Shawn's era we can. Basically, it'll be like seeing us in 1985, only fatter.

**Have you written any new Dag Nasty guitar riffs since "Minority of One" came out 10 years ago? Any new songs on the horizon?

I've got some songs. 

Dag Nasty in '85. (Bert Queiroz photo)

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Road trip to Bellingham = raging metal at Wild Buffalo

Black Breath in action. (Cat Rose photos)
Bellingham Rock City? Yeah, that's right.

On Saturday night, we traveled from Seattle to this town 18 miles from the Canadian border to settle in and bang heads with Black Breath, Dead in the Dirt and Loincloth at Wild Buffalo. The Sunn O))) set on our evening before said band played since we had to hoof it back to our hotel for slumber.

Cat Rose pics for your enjoyment:





Friday, December 14, 2012

COC/Yob/Saviours shred Seattle

Woodroe Weatherman from COC. (All Cat Rose photos)
What more can be said? Corrosion of Conformity, Yob, Saviours at the Crocodile in Seattle .... some heavy shit went down.

Here's some Cat Rose pics:


Reed Mullin

Mike Dean


Drummer Travis Foster and bassist Aaron Reisberg.

Mike Scheidt


Sonny Reinhardt

Scott Batiste

Crowd action during Yob

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Don't shoot the messenger -- Megadeth, Channel Three deliveries

By Andy

The music follows you wherever you go.

Once you're in, you can't stop thinking about it, you find yourself relating lyrics to certain scenarios and even thinking that people on the street look like musicians in bands. You do a double-take, and think, "Nah, that's not him," but end up with that band's tunes in your head all day. You've got no choice --- the music's part of you, and that's a good thing.

After graduating from San Jose State University in the winter of 1989, I moved back home to Redondo Beach, Calif., for about eight months and took a job at the Mustang Messenger service to pass the time and earn some cash. My journalism degree wasn't getting any action during this time, but I did try to get on board with record labels as a publicity guy. I got a phone call back from Bryn Bridenthal of Geffen Records and interviewed for an internship with Enigma Records, but those gigs were not meant to be.

So, a-messengering I went and it turned out to be a pretty interesting eight months.

Sure, it sucked that the car went through the wringer during this time with some insane wear-and-tear due to driving all over the Los Angeles and Orange County areas. Most deadlines were met, but at times I had some office manager or dispatcher yelling at me because the job wasn't done on time. Sometimes, it was fucking impossible to unload a car full of packages at the arranged time -- even if the route was "perfectly" planned with a Thomas Guide mapbook -- because you had to deal with traffic, unknown neighborhoods and just general bullshit that comes with driving around the LA/OC areas.

So where does the music come in, you ask?

I got to mentally relive some of the gigs I attended in the early '80s by driving by the Whisky A-Go-Go, Hollywood Palladium and other Sunset Boulevard spots on a regular basis whilst delivering the goods. Once I was on Placentia Avenue in Costa Mesa and drove by the area that housed the old Cuckoo's Nest; once, while in the San Fernando Valley, I delivered something on Vineland Avenue near Godzilla's. Punk-rock memories, you can't beat 'em.

There were a few times, however, when those look-a-like musicians were the real thing.

For instance, I met Kimm Gardener, guitarist for Channel Three, while I was making a delivery to ADP payroll services on Orangethorpe in La Palma, not far from where the band formed in Cerritos. The dispatcher said that I would ask for Kimm, and noted that "she" would meet with me and sign for the package. When I heard the last name, I told the dispatcher that it was a "he" and that I was on my way. I was on Gardener's route a few times and we discussed CH3 and other bands from the old days.

Kimm Gardener. (Cat Rose photo)

Then there was one Friday -- Paychex day -- when I was sent to some practice/office space on Hollywood Boulevard, near the iconic Capitol Records building. Wouldn't you know it that typed on the envelope was the word "Megadeth" -- that's right! Bassist Dave Ellefson greeted me at the front door and I handed him the package. He was excited to get his earnings and strolled off down the hall. Dave Mustaine was nowhere in sight, so I didn't get a tongue-lashing for dropping off the checks a few minutes late.

Dave Ellefson. (Courtesy photo)

On a final note, one other messenger probably didn't know what gem he was carrying when the dispatcher asked him if he had the "Social Distortion album" package on board in his car and was headed to the Sony offices. "Ball and Chain," "Story of My Life" .... would that package have ever arrived at its destination if I was the messenger? We'll never know.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Youth Brigade: Full speed ahead in DC after 31 years

Youth Brigade 2012: From left, Steve Hansgen, Nathan Strejcek, Danny Ingram and Bert Queiroz. Photo was taken on 16th Street NW in DC, across the road from where the original sign stood, pictured on the cover of the band's "Possible" EP. Strejceck is wearing the same leather jacket from the old days. (Sally Ingram photo)

They'll be part of the "Salad Days: The DC Punk Revolution" documentary party in the nation's capitol on Dec. 28-29, playing a short set along with Black Market Baby, Dag Nasty, Kingface, Scream and GI.

By Andy

Our tall, friendly mailman sporting a pith helmet was sometimes a savior --- often an enemy.

During the early '80s, I religiously ordered records from Dischord, Touch and Go and other crucial labels that shipped the hardcore tunes I craved to my Redondo Beach, Calif., doorstep from the East Coast and Midwest. When I got home from school, I'd painfully wait for that mailman to arrive and hope that he had what I wanted in his sack of packages and letters. I was a stalker of sorts, peeking out the window or around the corner looking for that guy.

On the days he came empty handed of the precious vinyl, I was bummed. On one dreary weekday, I remember thinking: "That fucking Dischord package with my Youth Brigade, Government Issue and Necros 7-inches should have been here by now." I'd heard of these bands, but I needed to hear them. Now!

And then one day, a light must have shone down from above as the records finally arrived. The mail guy was smiling --- as he always did, but this time I accepted his toothy greeting, grabbed the records and bolted inside to my stereo.

Youth Brigade 1981: From left, Tom Clinton, Strejcek, Ingram and Queiroz. EP front cover.

EP back cover.
As Bert Queiroz's distorted bass line kicked off the Youth Brigade "Possible" EP, I knew something killer was on its way. Danny Ingram clicked in with his drum sticks and then barking frontman Nathan Strejcek and guitarist Tom Clinton jumped in simultaneously to bring the opening cut, "It's About Time That We Had a Change," to life.

"I'm sick of things the way they are ---- It's about time that we had a change!" That's the stuff, I thought.

One after another, the tunes kept coming: "Full Speed Ahead," "Point of View," "Barbed Wire," "Pay No Attention," "Wrong Decision" and "No Song" --- eight minutes and 50 seconds of raw, raging punk anthems that I still hold in high regard today, 31 years later. (There's also "No Song II" --- Nathan just screams, "No!!!," but it's something my brother, Ed, and I  always had a fun time imitating.)

The other night, I listened to the the "Possible" EP on Spotify because I was too lazy to walk downstairs and spin that original vinyl 7-inch. Times have changed--- and it's about time, right? ha ha....

Following is an e-mail interview with Ingram, whom I befriended on the Dag Nasty Web site. He touches upon Youth Brigade's past and present and his time in the DC punk scene and beyond, including a stint playing drums for Swervedriver. Cat and I saw him play with them once at the Warfield Theater in San Francisco ---- and when I was up front, I yelled out "Full Speed Ahead" in between songs; he probably didn't hear me, but I felt I did my Youth Brigade duty by giving it a shot.
(Oh, and those Government Issue and Necros 45's were solid, too.)

Youth Brigade 2012 practice: View from behind Ingram's drum kit-- from left, Strejcek, Queiroz and Hansgen.
(Sam Ingram photo)

**Just some personal info to start: age; family info -- married, kids?; still live in DC?; do you play in any bands?

I turned 51 last June.  My wife, Sally, and I have been married for 15 years and we have two incredible boys: Sam (10) and Noah (6). Both are aspiring musicians!  I still live in the DC area, and have done most of my life…aside from living in London for a year while I was drumming with Swervedriver (back in '92/'93). 

Right now I’m drumming in a band called Dot Dash. We have two CDs out on The Beautiful Music –- a small label based in Ottawa, Ontario.  The band is most often compared to the Jam, Buzzcocks and early UK pop/punk…and has former members of Julie Ocean, Weatherhead, the Saturday People and Modest Proposal. And me -– who was in DC bands like the Untouchables, Youth Brigade, Emma Peel (with John Stabb and Steve Hansgen) and many more. We play out regularly in the DC area and actually have had some great press over our one-and-a-half-year existence.

I also play occasionally with a band called King Mixer. It consists of old bandmates of mine from Radio Blue and Ultra Cherry Violet. It’s kind of a shoe-gaze thing…brooding and such. But we don’t really play out more than once a year, if that. It’s like the punk equivalent of the monthly poker game. Guys get together, play some music, have dinner and drinks…and catch up with each other.  My kids usually tag along with me for those practices and we typically end our rehearsals playing Who songs, or Weezer songs so that my boys can sing along. My 10-year-old actually played drums on “Hash Pipe” last night! His first time sitting behind the kit for a full song. And he was pretty good, if I say so myself.

Youth Brigade from the past. (Paul Nee photo)

** With the DC punk documentary "Salad Days: The DC Punk Revolution" on the horizon, how did Youth Brigade get hooked into the upcoming gigs? How are things going to prepare for your first gig in 31 years?

Scott Crawford interviewed me for the movie a while back. It rekindled some fond feelings about that era. I’m typically not one to do the nostalgia trip, but talking about it at length with Scott reminded me of how great the scene was back in the early days (1978-1982). 

Anyway, Scott contacted me to see if we would be up to doing the Salad Days show. By this point in time, my position on doing a reunion had softened. I’d rejected previous inquiries about doing it –- but this seemed like the right place and the right time.  Three of the original members (Nathan Strejcek, Bert Queiroz and I) will be in the line-up for the show.  Steve Hansgen (former Minor Threat, GI and a million other bands) will be filling in on guitar, as Tom Clinton can’t escape his work and family obligations out in California. Besides, I think Tom is still grounded for stealing his family’s van for Youth Brigade’s one and only (aborted) U.S. tour!!

Nathan and I are still in the area, but Bert is in Brooklyn…so Hunter Bennett (the bassist from Dot Dash) has filled in for the first two practices.  Amazingly, things sound pretty good, considering that none of us have played that “fast” for quite some time.  And I don’t think Nathan has sung in a band since Youth Brigade (though he has played bass in a few unreleased bands, such as Mr. Id and Dear Season). Bert will be coming down for two rehearsals prior to the show…hopefully that will be enough to get us up to speed.

** I still dig the Youth Brigage "Possible" EP after all these years ... what are your thoughts on the record? Do those songs still hold up over time?

It’s funny. I’ve not really listened to the single for nearly 30 years…but I’ve enjoyed revisiting the songs in the last few weeks.  They are better than I remembered…but it’s not really for me to say whether they’ve held up over time. J Mascis, however, did give us a nice shout-out in a recent issue of MOJO. That made my day.

From the "Banned in DC" book. (Susie Josephson photos)

 ** What were the highlights of playing in Youth Brigade?

I don’t remember too many specific highlights. Getting shows back in those days was difficult…but we managed to play a handful. I think the highlight was getting released on Dischord and helping to document the nascent DC punk scene. The aborted tour was funny –- we got as far as Ohio, I think, and had to turn back. I think we ambitiously aspired to heading west…but it turned out that Tom didn’t really have permission to use the van for an extended road trip!  Still, we made friends along the way…and got to play with the Necros and others.

** You were part of the early DC punk scene... How did you get involved with it and what was the scene like back then?

Music has always been an integral part of my life –- so when the punk scene exploded in NY and London in 1976/77, I was on it. It was something that resonated with me -– and has stuck with me my whole life. Nathan and I were two of the first kids in DC to embrace the whole punk culture…which wasn’t easy at the time, since it was not readily understood by parents, friends and such.

Anyway, I saw loads of bands back then and I was buying every record and music publication I could get my hands on. Oddly enough, the thing that got me off the sidelines and into a band was going to see the Clash at the Ontario Theater in Washington in February '79. I hung out with the band after the show and spent quite a while talking with Joe, Mick and Paul about music and such. Joe asked if I was in a band –- and I said no, but that my best friend (Nathan) was. He admonished me to get off the sidelines and get in a band: “You’ve got to do something, create something!”  When someone you admire gives you advice like that, you have to act on it. So I did.

Shortly thereafter, the Untouchables lost their drummer to college life…so I quickly offered to fill in…never having really played the drums.  A few weeks later we were doing our first show together. I played with the Untouchables for about six months or so…and then started Youth Brigade with Nathan in 1980 or so, after the demise of the Teen Idles. 

Back then, the scene was very youthful. Full of energy, rage, curiosity…and a bit of innocence.  It is, by far, my favorite era of the DC harDCore scene.

Some Touch & Go magazine photos.

 ** Who influenced you as a band? Was there a specific moment when you saw a band playing on stage and wanted to give it a go?

Even though my musical tastes inclined more to the UK punk scene, the band itself was largely influenced by bands emerging from the early California punk scene.  Black flag, the Dils, the Circle Jerks and Dead Kennedys probably shaped us more as a band than any of the UK influences. But in DC, we were really trying to establish a sound of our own.  For me, it was definitely the Clash show at the Ontario theater when things clicked about wanting to get into a band.  Prior to that (1979), I’d been quite happy just going to shows and watching other people play.

** What bands shaped you as teenagers and got you into the punk scene?

Back then, the most influential bands for me were the Stooges, the Clash, Ramones, Buzzcocks, 999, Stranglers, Dead Boys, Heartbreakers, Television and such.  I devoured all of it. I still do.

** How did your experiences with YB shape your life? Do you have good, long-lasting memories from those days?

I don’t think there was anything formative that came from playing in Youth Brigade. My memories of Youth Brigade, whether right or wrong, were always that we were quite raw…and teetering on the edge (musically)…kind of like a toy that has been wound too tightly and the springs are about to snap.  That said, I have some amazing memories of that time…and hope to put them down on paper at some point.  But, to me, the most memorable thing about that time wasn’t the music we made –- it was the friendships that I made…and how they have weathered the punk rock ravages of time.  I guess the one important thing is that, as a father, I will likely be able to support my kids in their musical endeavors and better understand what it is they are trying to do.

Slamming to Youth Brigade. (Sarah Woodell photo)

 ** Are you still in touch with guys from the old days? People like Henry and Ian are regarded as important musical figures ... what's it like seeing them grow from the early DC days to now?

As I mentioned, the most enduring thing for me is the friendships that built up from those days. Nathan and I have remained close friends for nearly 40 years. Getting to play with people like Steve Hansgen and Bert Queiroz is a treat for me. They are both incredible people.  And we are cut from the same cloth: Music is still a driving force in our lives and we all cut our teeth in the early DC punk scene.

I’m still in touch with Ian and quite a few of the other early DC crew.  Facebook, for all its faults, has been great for reconnecting with those who were part of the great harDCore diaspora. As for Ian and Henry? I couldn’t be happier for their success. I always get a kick out of reading about Henry’s globe-trotting adventures…or seeing him on the telly.  These are guys I grew up with –- played football with –- played shows with –- stole girlfriends from!  I think the people who were here during the formative years have a bond that will endure.  And it seems most of the people from that time have aged well…though not all of them have made it. 

Anyway, it will be fun to do the show with GI, Scream, et al -– like a high-school reunion.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

'Thxgvng Massacre!'-- Holy Grove, Lopez and friends in Portland

Holy Grove bassist Gregg Emley and singer Andrea Vidal. (All Cat Rose photos)

By Cat and Andy

What better way to kick off -- and crank up -- the Thanksgiving holiday than a "Thxgvng Massacre!"?

We normally head to Gresham, Ore., from Seattle on Thanksgiving morning to visit family. But when Cousin Eric informed us that his/our friend Gregg Emley's band Holy Grove was playing the night before at the World Famous Kenton Club in Portland, we were in. Then, when we found out that TSHIT alumnus Lopez was also playing, it was a no-brainer squared.

To add to the stoner rock and punk stylings of Holy Grove and Lopez, respectively, we were treated to some heavy math rock from Duty and instrumental metal from the Fruit of the Legion of Loom.

Who needs turkey and pie when you can feast on this musical massacre?

Here's some of Cat's photos to document the evening:


In order: Vidal, drummer Craig Bradford, guitarist Sam Boggess and Emley.

More Holy Grove pics from Cat Rose:


Bassist Tom Glose and singer Joel Ross.

Drummer Mike Jacobson.

Ross and Glose close out the Lopez pics.


Top,  Erik Blocker; below, Wendell C. Hammon III.


Bassist "K," according to the band's Reverb Nation page.