Friday, December 28, 2007


There was a time in every scene big and small, old and new where things have begun to deviate from our folk tradition and culture into something that has led the world we live in to feel dirty or wrong in some ways. I hope to do my little part and bring back the aspect of the dirty word “unity”. That’s right, just like my old friend Rick Ta Life, I feel like there is a sense of division amongst bands, kids and our world is not sitting properly aligned the way it used to. I’ve always tried my best to look at someone at a show as an equal important part of the hardcore world. I’ve always tried to see my fellow bands on tour as another piece in this old puzzle. Whether or not it was the stuff I was into, I couldn’t argue or not relate to these guys who were miles from home, dirty, sweating and tired but loving every second of it the way that I did.

I type these words thinking about my first show at Gilman Street. Summer of ’99 Comin’ Correct, Dysphoria, All Bets Off with if my memory serves me Kill The Man Who Questions and Pg. 99 as well as Sworn Vengeance jumping up for songs?? Either way here I am across the country for the first time in my life staring in the eyes of guys from my home city who’ve I never had a real conversation with but being there at that moment we felt more inclined to speak then ever before. This is despite being from the same hometown, being at the same shows and why? Because I was the jerk who started silly shit at shows, got shows shut down and was a little prick and these guys were some of the most thought provoking, sensible guys in the core. I still feel and hold Mike Mckee to that level of quality. Years later and I can talk to him as an old friend because we had that moment where we forgot the nonsense that kept us from communicating at home and really just kicked it out front of Gilman Street.
I bring this memory up and its relevance to what I am trying to say about hardcore now by pointing out that I can’t think of how many shows I’ve played, booked, been to where the connection was so weak. Where the bands didn’t even watch other, where you didn’t even know whom to pay because the band shuffled in and just “did their thing”. We’re all in this thing together, whether you like to dive with your cut off shirts and shirts and think I am wigger for being in a gang and ninjakickin people when I like a song. We all took our time and money and place ourselves in the same room. Does this mean that I want everyone to start a fucking circle jerk? No, I am just saying the connection to the core is so vastly different for so many people over the stretch of the past few years that I don’t see as many bands kickin’ it unless they were already friends, or going out of their way because they know what its like to be in a band too. At This Is Hardcore I watched John Joseph (BloodClot) and Mike Score (All Out War) stand and watch the guys in Have Heart tear the place apart and then go into the back room and tell Agnostic Front about it. I saw two Philadelphia bands that never played together before close out one of the best shows, let alone weekends I’ve ever been to. I can’t tell you how great I feel about the core when I witness the dudes from RingWorm watching ColdWorld or Righteous Jams.
It reminds of the things I mentioned above. Regardless of what you wear, where you’re from or what you’re doing in your own life when you walk through the doors for a show, as a band, as a kid or the promoter the floor is level. We’re all fuckin here, we all chose this shit to ruin our eardrums and get our aggressions out. This is my motivation for another This Is Hardcore Fest. More then ever I watch as bands categorically rise with the trends and alienate one or more crowds as their success blossoms, as one crowd moves from one band, they join another band’s bandwagon. I’ve grown tired of reading the message boards with the public praise for the smallest of bands from the shittiest scenes that never put out more then a few good songs get treated like the next Hardcore Jesus.
Our world as a whole has grown larger and yet so smaller with the availability and access the internet gives us to old music that we all find our mp3 collections growing at such a rapid rate that the strength of the music, the emotional excitement of a “find” becomes more and more necessary to feed the habit and the overall impact these bands are making is weakened altogether. Sure more people are noticing more smaller lesser known bands but in a week they will have gone onto something else. Welcome to the ADHD generation as they say… Or it could be that since we’re just experiencing these bands over the Internet through a computer that the feeling of being there at that moment will never come to you. So you may be excited as hell about the addition of Starkweather’s The CrossBearer but soon after you’ve posted on every board about the greatness of the band you realize there is no time machine, that moment on that cd was then and will not be now you have to move on to the next great thing or something that someone mentioned in regards to that band. We’re growing in our knowledge of these bands but our experiences are becoming more akin to the need/greed instead of the pleasing revelation of showing up to a show to see a new band. Can’t do that, can’t watch a band you don’t know or possibly didn’t like their myspace tunes. Instead you’ll sit at home gripe about the downfall of hardcore and download hundreds of songs in a night to truly only feel the impact of a handful of songs.
So many great bands are OUT NOW. They’re screaming, sweating and bleeding for you and you’re minds have grown closed in your ability to have immediate knowledge of most things past and near present. Fuck even “future” is achievable with the invention of “leaked” CDs. The concept of going to see 5 bands and watching all 5 is an antique model for a world that is no longer around. These kids know what they want and know it so well that they’re programmed to rarely check something in person out, which is ironically so contradictive of their online life. And when we get down to it, not everyone goes to shows every single day so the argument that I am making is that the average hardcore kid spends more time online then at shows per week, thus creating the deviation from the old way of things which was to “check bands out live”. People are influenced and pay too much lip service to what they read online and never make a true evaluation for themselves in person. I’ve found out how many times a band’s myspace song or EP sucks only to fall in love with the band live. I’ve tried many a time to really enjoy Modern Life Is War records and it just falls on deaf ears to me but live they are so engaging and alive that I can’t help but enjoy them. Had I left my first judgment on their CD material, as the end all be all of what I think of them I would never realize how much I enjoy their band live. I am sure as people will read this that they will argue and make exceptions and excuses for themselves but the truth hurts and everyone always try to argue their way out of a bum rap.
The world of ours is opening up and yet the minds that drive it are closing on preconceived notions of their own good sense of judgment that I’ve proven to be maligned solely by Internet interactions with our world. This thing we do is alive. Its never something that can be with someone who’s never been to a show but downloaded everything from the bad brains to the new mongoloids in 6 months but went to 3 shows in that time. The power our world has over other music scenes is in the live show, its intensity, its collective agreement to accept the violent dancing and diving as “part of the show”. When we like a song we punch our friends, when we know a lyric we take the mic from the singer who wrote the song. These are not things someone would dare to do outside of our world. I know this is wishy washy idealistic stuff but god help me if I want to give kids one weekend of all of this greatness that has truly kept my life moving forward. Have them get sweaty and wish the band would play their favorite song so they can move. I want the kids from California to ask the kids from New Jersey where the best place to eat downtown is. I want the kids to see their favorite bands, spend their times rifling through record bins at the distros looking through for that LP they couldn’t find anywhere.
I want people to live this thing that we’ve come to spend our time, money and LOVE on. If I can get you people off of your asses, away from your computer screens (even you weirdo sidekick dudes that love to stand on the floor looking at it like you’re unimpressed by what’s going on around you) and have you make one life connection to this, one truly amazing moment that you will be able to relive in full detail 1,5 or 10 years from now it was worth it.
I am not a talented guy; I rely on the availability and the willingness of the bands to make the shows work. I am lucky that the current crop of hardcore bands have more heart then any I can recall in the past 15 years. They have more of a sense of togetherness and they’re all so god damn good live it hurts to not have a band on the bill that made an impact the last 2 years. It’s these guys that deserve it the most. They leave their lives, their aspirations aren’t to become our doctors and lawyers, they want to fill the back of a van with equipment and ride into the night heading to a town they’ve never been to and shred the place apart. They want to get on stage and have some kid from ½ way around the world take the mic sing the words and do a flip when he’s done. They’ve signed their souls away to make the world of ours continue to go around and if we can all really come together again for one more weekend and let go and just fucking enjoy ourselves the way it was truly meant to be it will all be worth it…

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

the World's Largest Daisy Chain

Ever feel like the internet has led us astray? How many kids can you say really mean it when they talk about a band, a show or even wear a Tshirt these days?
I am tired of it all. This eternal fucking blow everyone so no one feels left out mentality has gotten some egos a bit too large, and everyone's feelings set on candyass. You couldn't happen to disagree or go out of your way by saying this band or that band sucks. You would have to think about the people behind the bands and think about the fact that it may or may not hurt your band, your zine, your shows, your rep. Fuck all that. I think being in Shattered Realm has protected me from having to be in that terrible circle jerk phenomena going on in the core right now. God bless being the scumbags because no one wants us to really like their band and no one needs us to talk up their band. I am tired of reading about how a band is backed, how this guys a good dude or how much they can't wait for so and so to come through? Its all in effort to help whatever you're doing out.. I used to have this shitty job as a porter at a bowling alley. Real proper, I even got to unclog toilets and watch as my manager/head mechanic would fish out tampons from the women's bathrooms on occasion. There he professed to me the meaning of life and the one thing that holds true is -" Consider the Source". Whenever I read that someone is making a post about another band or something I see who the poster is that is heralding his fellow man's efforts. 9 times out of 10 its a friend or a guy who has a financial interest in the popularity of the band rising. I guess it don't hurt to talk good about your friends but to lie to strangers time and time again out of sake of being popular or god heaven's NOT BE POPULAR!@!$! I don't know how these people get through their lives with such decisions. ha ha.
I book This Is Hardcore Fest and I do shows. I think I still haven't booked a band that I really didn't like. There were 2 or 3 bands the first year that I didn't have back the second and it was more out of them not impressing me or doing well that made the decision an easy one. It also helped that I can't duplicate 2006's lineup every year all over again so no one's feelings are hurt. I write all of this thinking about how many bands are out there now. How many people have risen to scene celebrity in just two year's time. How are some of these guys going to deal with the fact their band really isn't that good? Alot of these bands have potential in that as a whole the scene is doing well with good bands that aren't all exactly alike. But the numbers that are stacking up are showing me that there is an army of clones not unlike the Star Wars Prequels and its going to get ugly. How many Integrity/Ringworm clones can you name these days? How many bands with Pink tshirts were out on tour last year? The ripoffs and the gimmicks are going wild for now, but when we get down to brass tacks its going to go down to substance. Who is really saying anything? Who is making an impact.. Who is not up there on stage wasting up space and stealing 25 minutes of people's lives to walk through the motions? How many dudes truly believe in what they do, what they say, what they wear, who they support and how their actions effect everyone?
This world is so fragile, often like a house of cards. It don't take much for the whole thing to crumble down. The end of Floorpunch,Ten Yard Fight and In My Eyes gave way to the dark times of the rise to metalcore and the hype of A.N. Hardcore rose to defeat the evil Victory records to give birth to all that we would eventually hold in our hands now. The battle for popularity will begin. I've watched these bands grow and they all seem to play nice now but the pickings will start to slim and we will see who is really friend or foe.
Its pathetic to hear a guy give a blowjob to 25 dudes in 15 minutes on stage just so people get into his band. He could spend his time rationally coming from his heart, but truthfully we're watching a bunch of kids live their dream at any cost and sadly that entails accepting an amount of bullshit hollow plastic words with a band that will just go through the motions to say they lived the dream as they walk away from our world once their 15 minutes is up.

NJ's Hardest

Last Friday we played a show in Kearny, NJ which is just a stone's throw from the pit of hell known as Newark.
There was a time 10 years ago where I spent at least 2 days of my week finding someone willing to drive to Newark and then actually getting up there just for the Thursday night shows at the Pipeline in lovely scenic Newark,NJ. Alot of cool bands that never made it out of obscurity played, alot of bands that have grown to infamy and others to comedy. The thing that kept bringing me back was the fact that it was an entire scene there every week. It didn't really matter who was really playing you could count on at least 75% of the bands from North all the way down the shore line being there. It made for awesome "jump up" sets and bands sharing gear and playing some stuff. There was an ambience that made you truthfully believe that the minute you stepped into the place anything can/would happen. There wasn't any of this "safe" areas in the mosh, it was one of those dark clubs where you could be standing there watching a band like Powerhouse from California and end up with a black eye from Rat Bones because the light hit you from the stage and your peripherals were blinded.
Yea yours truly learned early on to watch everyone and never assume you're safe. But that was just a piece of it. I heard the "New" fury record out front of the Pipeline in Joe None's hoopdie. I met so many dudes and got so many #s and addresses to mail (yes the postal service not the fuckin internet) dudes flyers and contact info. It was a great place to network and get your shit out there. The place was a shithole and a few times I'd made the walk to the club from the train I truly felt blessed to get there in one piece. I met some guys that I am still very close to today, I've met guys that sucked in 97 and the years of drugs and boozing didn't make anything better.
So we show up to this hall in the middle of a block and I instantly start seeing old faces. By the time the first band had gone on I'd run into 20 or more people I can't think of the last time I've seen them. Homicidal played first and really tore it the fuck up. They've got Mike and George"Puda" from Bulldoze, Tomoki (the asian sensation), McG and Dimi (how many bands has this dude hasn't been in?) Very aggressive hard band with nods to the old bands of their members while having an almost thrash influence subtlely in there to boot. Their first song a maniac runs and tackles the stand up sound board and then runs and boots (with a Timberland of course) half the crowd. God I miss those berzerkers.. All in all a "fat" set from a band that needs to get out some more.

We played next and I was psyched for once. Usually we're not using our gear, getting there was a pain in the ass or there is about 134235 things going on aside from us just getting up there to shred. This being what is we haven't played early on a bill in about a year and I miss that need to set the place off. I think in our 25 minutes or so we did just that. I really think that I stay in Shattered Realm sometimes because we have the same ideas about what a good set duration is. Why play 40 minutes when you're not headlining and the place isn't moving to anything you throw out there. Sure there are places in Europe where the mosh is just not happening but that is diffrent then in your home turf and the songs keep going over like a 50 cent track at a white power rally.
We were really psyched on the mention of a Bulldoze set happening later. I remember George needing to borrow our bass again for it and thinking if Chris would show so it would go down. I guess they ended up getting Steve to rock out to an Ipod and learn the stuff. That was just like it was years ago, if you didn't have all your dudes but you could manage with a diffrent guy for a few songs fuck it... it wasn't the songs as much as it was your friends in the room and the feel of the night. By the time Bulldoze got on things had calmed down a notch and I was hoping that it would get crazy again so For The Love Of... would get a proper response. These North Jersey shows go late so the bar makes theirs and everyone pretty much goes from the bar to the bands and back, sometimes a trip or two during the set. By the later bands the berzerker mosh makes way for the guy who think his 35 year old body can move like it did when he was in his early 20s. Always rad to see.
Either way Damien and I had posted up near the sound guy with our asses on the table so we could watch the Bulldoze chaos without having to be in guard the whole time. I guess I've got to the point where I am not going to go and run around and kick and punch everyone for every band. Its not a shamed position but one I wouldn't assume I'd take on this early into my adulthood. I've seen Bulldoze then, I seen then when Kev first got out of jail, and we've played with them. I love the band but didn't need to lash out my aggression during their band. Sometimes there is something in being the voyeur. For us we were laughing already at the few moshers during NJBL's set. Just a bunch of weirdo mosh styles that conflicted making for awesome comedic relief for us. Bulldoze went on and Joe and Tara were standing with us. They were really tight for the jump up set and things were hectic. Enter the long hair berzerker mosh, he was really something. Absolutely fearless of contact with others and injury to himself, he was a true warrior of the mosh. By the end of their set I'd grabbed the mic and danced a bit but with the amount of drunken mosh dudes that were more like moshers then dancers I didn't want to be "that guy" to knock one of them out over mosh beef. I knew they didn't know any better and I figured someone would school them but I didn't have to be me for once. All in all an awesome set and the energy was back and then some.
For The Love Of... what can be said about a truly overlooked innovator in the realm of metalcore. So clean and vicious its an understatement to say that they really stepped out of the game at a time where had they held on they would have been in the ranks of Shadows Fall, God Forbid and later Killswitch Engage. I can't think of it but I know there was more then a few shows with most of those bands together on it in NJ and For The Love Of... coming out with the best response. People never seem to remember the guys who did the work in the trenches. FTLO would play crazy sets with the wildest other bands and it was always worth it. They would bring an anvil onto the stage and strike it with a sledge hammer. Insanity then, and if it was ever done again I imagine these tight pants, bad hair and no idea what metal or hardcore is kids would shit themselves. Either way they got up and despite it being late and some of the crowd vanishing to the bar they were really as tight as they've ever been. Some bands just don't lose and I was very happy we stayed to watch them. Alot of mosh shennigans and what not, really the worst of what happens when people get drunk and start to mosh after midnight, or guys who find themselves to be bigger physically forget that there are things like gravity and physics in play when it comes to the mosh. Oh well. I had a good chuckle a bunch of older guys who made their qualms with the scene back running around moshing living out their glory days. I imagine they felt on top of the world and back in their element. I wonder if they realized how far the world has moved on without them? It always hits me when see people like that if they've ever understand how inconspicuous their time in hardcore was and how silly their words were when they decided to walk away sounded to everyone else?
In the end I was happy to play a show that felt like I was a teenager again. I was really happy to see old friends and enjoy the parallel universe that was that night. It felt like someone opened a portal between 97 and 07 just for a few hours. There was alot of the same characters from both worlds and everyone looks older but for that one night at least everyone acted more like themselves before they got too cool for school.
Thanks to everyone who came out, participated and made the night worth it to be there.