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Thursday, May 13, 2010

Corey had gone to Beverly Hills High School on an exchange program in January of ’81. He went to L.A. and hung out with Keith Morris and Black Flag a little bit. He went to school at Beverly Hills High with Dave Markey and Julie Silvers from Sin 34. Do you know her dad is Phil Silvers? He must have been eighty when he had her! It was the first time we saw something like that on such a massive scale. The Starwood was probably could hold six hundred people and it was fucking packed front to back with freaks beating the shit out of each other. We definitely got the idea of skanking and all that from that video. It was an education, man. Mugger and that guy X-Head from ‘The Decline’ were stage security. People would get on stage and they would just be met with a fist to the jaw. Thinking about it now as a grown ass man, it seems insane, but then we were all watching this video being like ‘Yes! Oh yeah!’

In the Spring of ‘81, Black Flag played in Lansing and we opened up for them. I remember people being taken back at how violent we were. Black Flag got there late and did a five or six song sound check before anyone played, but people were inside the club. Everyone was anticipating them showing up, so that little sound check brought the energy up that much higher. This wasn’t the lame ass farfisa organ New Wave bands that normally played at Club Doo Bee. You would have to be an idiot to ignore it.

We scored the gig opening for the Circle Jerks at Irving Plaza in the summer of 1981. Tesco and I drove to D.C. and we met the other guys in New York for our gig with the Circle Jerks. We went to D.C. and saw Minor Threat open up for the Circle Jerks. I got to say, seeing those guys (Minor Threat) made me want to take what we were doing up a notch. It was clearly apparent that these were our peers. We were the same age and raised on skateboarding and Ted Nugent, so we could relate. They had this impact and total aggression but totally together on their instruments. They were great musicians at such a young age.

The day after, those D.C guys went up to New York with us when we opened up for the Circle Jerks and there was a lot of beef between New York and D.C. people.

You got to understand, at that time, New York did not have Hardcore. The Punk kids there were glue sniffing Sid Vicious types. It was pre-skinhead and all that shit. I remember we got there and the Stimulators were marveling at how we had a shittier drum set than their drummer, Harley Flannagen. Somebody also removed a few tubes from Brian’s amp. I don’t understand why anyone would bother trying to sabotage our shitty band. Going up to New York at that time, we all had an amped up attitude. Those D.C. guys were the people in the audience who liked us the most and were most vocal in their support.
Soon after that, all these bands seemed to spring up within a couple months of each other. Bored Youth came out of nowhere. Lariss(Strickland - L-Seven vocalist) told me about them and we went to see them as a three piece. I saw them at Nunzios’ towards the fall of ’81. All those bands started rolling around the time we did the record release party at Endless Summer. It was also the first time that people under 18 could go to something.

At that time in Detroit, it was just these bad bands with asymmetrical haircuts and jackets with shoulder pads. In a weird way, that was the crowd that L-7 came from. Their drummer was in that band Figures on a Beach and he quit. L-7 had this guy named Chuck who was from the drag queen crowd and strangely, that’s the same place that a lot of the Detroit Techno scene came out of. Detroit really embraced the New Romantic thing in a big way. I remember Larissa being sorta taken aback at how macho we were since all the guys they usually hung out with were these New Romantic club people. We broke the tradition of those New Wave bands being the only thing going on in Detroit. All those old guard punk bands had died by then. I remember seeing Nikki from Nikki and the Corvettes at that Black Flag gig at Bookies looking really dejected.
I had never been to the Cass Corridor before we started doing shows at the Freezer Theatre. It was the land that time forgot. Cement front stairwells of buildings had rotted away and people had to climb up a ladder to get into a building. Front porches were falling off of houses. By the time the Freezer started happening, right away everybody was going there. It was a tiny place, but you could get a couple hundred people in there and it was packed. Because of that, the more legitimate clubs in Detroit were thinking ‘Well, if these kids can draw these numbers on their own with just flyers and phone calls, we should be booking them’.

It was pretty gradual. It wasn’t like one day we stepped back and said ‘Woah! Look at this!’ It became more noticeable when we started playing shows at places like the City Club, these established venues. Going to the Freezer was like going on an adventure. It wasn’t like going to some established club where there’s a bartender and all that. When you were at the Freezer, you’d just go down to Rayis Brothers and grab a 40. It just became more noticeable when the venues got larger and you could see that were more people coming out that weren’t from the original inner circle. I wish I could tell you something like ‘The next thing you know, there were eight million people there holding a bed sheet with the Negative Approach logo on it! Girls were on their boyfriend’s back flashing titty!’ but I can’t paint a picture like that. It’s just that as the bands got more of a following and appeared more legitimate to club owners, more people came around.

By the Fall of ‘82, we were on tour with the Misfits. By that point, there was clearly this thing where people were embracing it for real. The show we played with the Misfits in L.A was at a place called Bobs Place in Watts. The next night they played with Discharge at Florentine Gardens, a real rock club. Discharge wouldn’t play ‘State Violence State Control’ because the single had just been released, some sort of regular Rock attitude. They had a pro rock band vibe that rubbed me the wrong way. By the time most of these bands had albums out, it was over for me. By the time we recorded those tunes on the ‘Conquest for Death’ LP, our minds were already elsewhere. We were listening to Motorhead or Black Sabbath more than any thrash at that point. Once there were Hardcore records influenced by Hardcore, it was done. It’s almost like Hardcore has been in a constant state of nostalgia. I think the last hardcore record I bought was that first Poison Idea single. I remember walking into Schoolkids’ and there was that D.R.I seven inch that had twenty two songs on it and I was like ‘This is so done’.

By the time the ‘Conquest for Death’ LP came out, Corey left the band and then wanted to be back in the band. Larissa told me that Lisa (Rusks’ girlfriend at the time) told Corey that if he went on the road she would have to seek other sexual partners. I think that was one of the things that prompted him to quit. At that time, we really hated Corey. We went swimming to go celebrate and then were like ’Let’s call Ron’. We liked Ron and he had long hair, so he was in. And then Corey was like ‘I want back in the band’ and we were like ‘We have already been practicing with Ron and he’s quit his job, so you better think about this’. We did a tour on our own in 83 and that was great. It was successful and we made money. I just remember going out on tour and every band was like a Minor Threat cover band and then the next year it was a Slayer cover band. And then there were these people who were starting to hold fast to what they considered a hardcore tradition. Those people were fucking idiots! This was a music of no tradition. The whole point was ’Fuck the past! Fuck what all these people have done! We’re doing it our way!’ I really feel America never had punk rock until it had hardcore. America’s punk IS hardcore. Patti Smith was a boho hippie, and there’s nothing wrong with it, but when it comes to this clean slate thing where theres some sort of progress and something that hasn’t been done before, it’s hardcore.

It went from the most open minded people to the most close minded people. The whole reason it got so boring to me was I heard ‘Ascention’ by John Coltrane and Albert Ayler records and I was like ‘Shit man, this is gnarly!’Hearing that shit changed the whole thing but there was no way we could approach something like that. Once I heard that I was like ‘Who cares about Uniform Choice?’

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