Monday, May 30, 2005

From the Horse's Mouth: Project X 7-inch EP



Welcome to the first installment of From the Horse's Mouth. I'm going to try to make this a somewhat regular feature where I take great hardcore records and get the lyrical explanations straight from the people who wrote them. I've had this idea for a while, and even had the idea put to paper before when I did the interview with Ray Cappo explaining the lyrics to the We're Not In This Alone LP for Contention Fanzine so many years ago.

This installment of From the Horse's Mouth was done, if memory serves, almost ten or eleven years ago. At that time, Porcell was living in the Krishna temple down at West Allen's Lane, just outside of Philadelphia. A good friend of mine, Kevin McCafferty, used to take me down to the temple to listen to the Gurus contemplate on life and spirituality, but I think the real motive was always the awesome vegetarian Krishna grub they served at Prashadam. We were always conveniently late for the part at the beginning where there was chanting and dancing involved. I definitely wanted no part of that, and despite Kevin's dedication, I don't think he did either.

After Prashadam, Kevin introduced me to Porcell and the two of us went to a separate room to do the interview. For the record, I was a COMPLETE ASSHOLE -- to the point that I basically walked away from the experience with nothing that I could use as a formal interview. I was asking Porcell things like "who got laid the most in Youth of Today" and questions about his nose. Yes, I asked Porcell several pointed questions about the size of his fucking NOSE. To his absolute mountains (and mountains) of credit, Porcell did not take my shoes (sitting in a pile of random shoes at the entrance of the temple) and shove them up my nose.

I have no defense for my behavior on that evening. The only thing I can offer up as an extremely lame excuse is the fact that, at the time, I was worshipping at the altar of a fanzine called Combat Stance, which was one of the most obnoxious and antagonistic zines on the planet -- ever. I gave Porcell copies of Fuck You Fanzine before the interview. At one point during the interview, he had been flipping through them and came across several essays I had written on my idea that you could be straight-edge and still have a beer. Moderation was the bill of goods I was selling. Porcell looked up at me and said "the Sgt. of Straight Edge isn't straight edge?! What the hell, man."

Ouch. ZING!

I have no idea how, but I somehow managed to get lyrical explanations to all of the songs on the Project X 7-inch EP onto tape that evening. The intent was to use them for a zine I was planning to do after the first version of Fuck You Fanzine was over and done with, but it never materialized. Though the years, I lost the tape and forgot completely about this interview until I found a typed transcript of it while I was rummaging around my closet at my parent's house last weekend. Enjoy.

--Ronny

Straight Edge Revenge

Porcell: I wrote that song at a time when...it was right around the time when Youth of Today played CBGB's. It was a weird time because Youth of Today was always a band that supported New York Hardcore. We always played CBGB's, and then we played this show where they just started instituting a no stage-diving rule, and of course, kids were stage diving anyway. So they blamed the bands and they kind of kicked us out of the club. At the time, straight edge was really starting to get a bad name. It was almost like a reactionary thing. Once it was cool to be straight edge, and then all of the sudden it was really uncool to be straight edge. So that song was kind of like a reactionary thing to that sort of anti-straight edge mentality. My thinking was, if you're going to push your peer pressure on me one way, I'm going to push it back on you the other way. But I'll tell you, I learned a lesson from having that kind of mentality. Even though Project X wasn't like a serious band that we actually did, it was a reflection of the times. In that way it was serious. But I find with that sort of "us and them" mentality, communication doesn't really take place. I used to be a straight edge kid that used to go around knocking beers out of people's hands when I was just like, a young stupid kid, and you know..."straight edge revenge," whatever, you put a big x on your hand. But then I realized that was just stupid. If you really have a message that you want to get across to people, you're not going to get that message across by yelling at them and criticizing them. So, I've started to have mixed feelings about that song these days. Even though it was sort of a mood, it's almost like reverse peer pressure. Like getting peer pressured in school to drink and everything, and it's almost like you just want to say "screw you guys," and sort of reverse the peer pressure. But when I think about it now, it's almost just like playing their game, you know? I'd rather just not play the game at all.

Shut Down

Porcell: Actually, Shut Down was about that CB's show (mentioned earlier in his explanation of Straight Edge Revenge). That was the CB's show that we played, and the kids were stage diving, and it wasn't our fault. I mean, the club was supposed to be responsible for security, and if they were going to all of the sudden just institute a new security policy, it's not really the band's job to enforce the rules, you know? So here's a club that we've been playing for like a year, and then all of the sudden they just banned us, and I thought that was just really uncool. So I wrote a song about it.

Cross Me

Porcell: Cross Me is actually written about that band Half Off. Have you ever heard of that band. (Porcell was talking to the future singer of a band named after a Half Off song. You bet I heard of them. --Ronny)Whenever we used to go to California, they (Half Off) were kind of like straight edge kids who were always into Youth of Today. The mentality is that if you're attached to someone's qualities, and then you let envy get into that, the reason why you're attached to that person's qualities is because you want that position for yourself. So that's kind of how I felt about those kids. Those kids were such big fans, but they were fans in kind of an envious way, where they actually wanted to be the big band. And so it's kind of like being enemy-centered. That whole band was about bagging on straight edge. That's what their band was about. They were enemy-centered. It was such a stupid way to be. It's another sort of dumb reactionary thing that sort of, like I was talking about with Straight Edge Revenge, how you get sucked into the whole negative vibe. It's the way I felt at the time, I guess. I think I've grown up a lot since the Cross Me days.

Dancefloor Justice

Porcell: You have to realize what the New York scene was like at the time, because back in the revelation days with Warzone, it was almost like...even though you had bands like Youth Defense League, who were the skinhead band, and you had Warzone who were sort of like the hybrid straight edge skinhead band, everybody in the scene got along. Sick Of It All weren't straight edge, but all of the straight edge kids loved them anyway. It was kind of just like one big family. And then the New York scene just all of the sudden got really bad. You'd go to CB's and, at a few shows people got shot. People would get stabbed. You were taking your life into your own hands just by going into the pit. So that's another reactionary song about the time. It was just about looking out for your friends in the pit, which was a problem at the time.

Where It Ends

Porcell: If you've ever heard that Shelter song "Letter to a Friend," it's almost like the same type of thing. When you're young, you're so filled with youthful idealism. It's just a part of being young. Since you're not that experienced with life, the good thing is you tend not to be jaded. And so when you see things that are wrong, it really affects you because you're not really hardened and conditioned to the way the world supposedly is. So you see things and you think the world is a screwed up thing. Why are people running around getting drunk, you know? This is stupid. I don't want to do this. So you start to disassociate yourself from that. But it seems like when you get older, the tides of materialism just sort of drag you back into whatever the norm of society is. And when you look at people that are still trying to keep up that revolutionary spirit, and others think of it as something tacky and something dated. Like straight edge, or vegetarianism, or environmentalism, or spirituality, or whatever. It's almost like some people grow up and they look at people that are still trying to make that sort of change, and they think it's tacky and stupid. "You're in your twenties and you're still edge? Get off your skateboard and grow up!" That kind of mentality. But it's a serious thing, so I wrote a song about those people. At the time, me and all of my friends were growing up, and a lot of them thought straight edge was a stupid thing. It actually meant a lot me, and I thought it meant a lot to them, too. When I heard what they would say about me still being into straight edge -- that it was a stupid thing, a sentimental thing -- I didn't think so at all. I still don't think so.

Friday, May 27, 2005

My Bachelor Party

Cammy led me through the crowded bar by the hand. At least six different times from Point A to Point B, she stopped and punched out a different guy.

"Keep your hands to yourself you fucking pig!"

She was a tiny thing, but in the span of two minutes, I had witnessed several occasions where Cammy knew how to throw a punch that had meaning. Since I was walking behind her, I thought it might be a good idea to put my free hand in my pocket, to assure that I wouldn't be mistaken for a gratuitous ass-grabber. A black eye awarded by a stripper would not be something I'd want to explain to my Fiance. Harley Flannigan? Badge of Honor. Stripper? Endless jokes from my friends.

At Delilah's Den, the Gentleman's Club we visited an hour before, couch dances were given on actual couches in a black curtained VIP lounge, away from prying eyes. At Show & Tell, however, lap dances were a public event. Cammy led me to a row of what can only be described as stalls. There were about 12 lined in a row, facing out into the crowd of drunk and horny dudes who could watch every gyration because the stalls had no doors. Keep in mind that I went through 3 years of highschool without taking a single dump at Central Bucks West HS because the stalls didn't have doors. I was a real-life "Shitbreak." Now I had to get a lap dance with everyone watching.

"Cammy, I've had eight of these things in the past 45 minutes. If you just want to hang out, sit on my lap and talk, I'd really like that."

Cammy shook her head in disagreement and stripped down to a thong in front of me. She gave me a look as if to say that she was going to dance me in half. You'd think the only thing that would be on my mind at that point was the beautiful female form in front of me, but I still couldn't get over the fact that I was in full view of basically anybody who wanted to have a look.

Just like any good public restroom, Show & Tell's stalls were fitted with those handicap/earthquake hold-on handles on either side of the stall. Cammy grabbed onto them like they were a set of parallel bars and launched into her routine, riding me to the music, giving me every view that a $20 bill from Dave Byrd could buy me.

At one point during the dance, Cammy used the handicap/earthquake hold-on handles to flip herself around and launch her thighs onto my shoulders so that I had an up-close backside view. She somehow managed to free one of the hands that she was supporting herself with to pull her thong to one side -- giving me a good look at what I would describe as, a very lovely vagina.

As I was checking out what will probably be the last non-Fiance/Wife vagina that I will ever have the opportunity to be that close to, I had this lurking feeling that I was being watched. I mean, I knew I was being watched -- I was in a fucking stall for petesake, but something was amiss.

As I gazed into Cammy's beaver, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed familiar faces. I adjusted my line of sight a few degrees above the vaginal treasure chest before me to see...that members of Jade Tree Records and Lifetime were laughing at me.

As it turned out, me and my crew weren't the only Hardcore Bachelor Party in town. Darren Walters was getting married the next weekend. In his crew was Sceamin Dan Yemin, Tim Owens, Hard Carl, and soemone else from Paint It Black. In my crew, it was Alfred Ortiz, Matt Smith, Justin Phillips, Dave Byrd & Kevin McCafferty.

Later, Darren and I ended up talking for a little while. I was telling him what I remembered about the last time I met him, which was 17 years ago on the Ocean City NJ boardwalk with Steve Crudello. He must have thought I was insane. As we chatted, we were watching a spectical on the main stage. A couple male patrons were dragged onto the stage by two of the establishment's lovely employees. Each guy was disrobed above the waist and handcuffed to a pole. Once properly secured to the pole, each dancer took out a huge leather belt and just absolutely BEAT their asses (and I mean "oh, that's gonna leave a mark, she's hitting him so hard I can hear it above the blaring music" BEATING). After that, each dude was handcuffed to a chair where they each got a roughriding lapdance. Each of the guys got slapped in the face frequently throughout the entire dance. It was just...BRUTAL.

Apparently, this pleasant display was a bachelor party specialty. Darren told me he could probably deal with the humiliation part of it, but he wouldn't want anybody smacking him around and hurting him. I told Darren about my brother's edict to all members of my bachelor party, that if my name was called over the loud speaker so that I could be abused by a man-hating lesbian stripper, he would kill them in their drunken slumber.

A few minutes later, Darren was called to the stage.

---------------

Funniest moment of the night: at the behest of Dr. Dan Yemin, I approached Tim Owen (who I had never met before), and asked him if he was ever going to send the Four Walls Falling 7" I ordered back in 1988. Ha!

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Coupla things...

Hey there boys and...well, boys. I just wanted to take a moment to let everyone know that I'll be posting some new content to the site in the next few days. I've been insanely busy with work and wedding stuff, but I'm catching up. So be sure to keep checking back.

Also, I've created an AIM account for the site. You can IM me at BarebonesHC if you like.

Thanks for reading.
Ronny Little

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Interview: No Justice



Matt Smith and I did this interview with No Justice in the parking lot of Homebase Warehouse in Wilkes Barre back in January 2000. The interview was supposed to be included in a new fanzine that Smith and I were working on together that was to be called "About Face." Everything about the zine was going to have a military theme to it, which explains the silly way we asked the questions. Of course, since the zine was to have a military theme, I was naturally the Sarge. We never settled on a name for Smith. My suggestions for his pen name were Private Parts, Corporal Punishment, Captain Cock Rock, and Major Malfunction.

Four months later, my then-fiance "disengaged" me, and it sent me into a tailspin where I lost all interest in just about everything in my life, including this zine and Rain on the Parade.

I came across this interview the other night when I was going through some of my old journals. It seemed like a shame to leave the interview unpublished. Enjoy.

Ronny


Name, rank and serial number?

Timmy: I sing. Steve plays guitar. Gene plays drums. John plays bass.

What’s the chain of command in No Justice? Take us to your leader.

Steve: I’d say that Timmy, Gene and I fight over who is calling the shots, and John just shows up and plays bass sometimes. Gene is the computer dude, because Timmy and I don’t have computers. Timmy and I are more into talking to people. We’re the face of the band.

Timmy: Gene is the internet kid, finding shows for us. If there’s a question to be asked that nobody in the band is comfortable asking, they’ll leave it up to Steve and I to ask it.

Who came up with the name No Justice, and why is he still in the band?

Timmy: It was basically me. Steve and I are huge Agnostic Front fans. We grew up listening to AF.

Steve: Both of us liked the name, and nobody else in the band liked it at all. John and Gene were just like “you motherfuckers have got to be kidding.” After a while, it ended up growing on everybody else and we stuck with it.

When the bullets start flying, what bands do you want in the fox hole with you?

Timmy: Kill Your Idols, definitely. Full Speed Ahead. Life’s Halt. There’s a lot of good bands coming out.

Steve: Striking Distance.

What bands would you want on the end of your bayonet?

Timmy: For the Living.

Steve: Good Clean Fun.

Tensions escalating along the border?

Timmy: (John) Hennessey doesn’t like us. Hennessey never liked us. I guess now, Hennessey has been kind of alright with us, which is cool I guess, because two bands from the same area don’t need to be competing.

Why has Hennessey declared war on No Justice?

Timmy: Old shit.

Bitterness from a prior conflict? The whole DC vs. Virginia Beach vs. Richmond rivalry? Has it gone nuclear?

Timmy: Yeah. He said something personally to me that really pissed me off, and he never apologized for it. He said some serious shit that I don’t want to get into. Some of the kids in For the Living are in Striking Distance, which we completely support. They’re one of the best DC bands. We love those guys.

Steve: We all go to shows in the DC area. We go to every show. Even the ones we’re not playing. A lot of those bands act like they’re above all of us. We never see them at shows, unless they’re playing. When they come around, they just have a “better than you” attitude. Good Clean Fun called us sloppy and said we can’t play our instruments. I’m sure we don’t sound perfect, but this is a hardcore punk band.

Timmy: We’ve been getting a really good response from our DC shows. For a while, DC Hardcore was kind of slow, and now there’s a lot of good bands popping up like Striking Distance. The DC shows we’ve been playing, we’ve been bringing out all of these punk kids, skinhead kids. The last DC show we played was at the Wilson Center. Kids were going apeshit, flying all over the place. Kids were saying “damn, I haven’t seen that many people stage diving in a really long time.” You’d think Good Clean Fun, being from that area, would be like “this is awesome,” because they’re one of the bigger drawing bands from the area. You’d think they’d be happy that other good bands are popping up and that DC is really going to get going again. All of these kids on the internet were saying that we really rocked the house at that show, and it was the craziest shit they had seen in a long time. The Good Clean Fun posts “actually, they’re not that good. They’re sloppy...” and all of this shit.

Steve: We’ve never said nothing about them. We really try to stay out of shit talking...(laughs) which obviously just ended here. This is the first time we’ve actually said anything negative. When we started this band, we thought people were going to shit talk us because we wanted to be a really straight-forward band. We really try not to talk shit, but some people are just begging us to comment on some of the things they say about us.. A lot of people have been speaking for us, defending us, which makes us happy that we don’t have to. That’s the coolest fucking feeling when people do that.

What’s something about hardcore that you would change?

Steve: The segregation between punks, skins, hardcore kids and straight edge kids. It’s like if you’re not in one group, you’re shunned. I’d like to see more bands with convictions. Bands that aren’t so joke oriented. Bands that are really into what they’re doing. There are bands out there that are a little too happy.

What’s something about hardcore that you hope always stays the same?

Timmy: Kids going off. That is such a release for me. I definitely dig the energy. When I was younger, I had a very dysfunctional family. I went to counseling. Nothing ever worked except for $5 punk rock shows. It was great to just go there and go completely insane with a bunch of other crazy kids. It was the biggest release, ever.

You mentioned the Wilson Center earlier. How do you feel about the kids who run that place. Our (ROTP) drummer’s other band, The Ultimate Warriors, just got banned from playing that place because of a song on one of their demos called “Anarchy is Gay,” which the singer wrote when he was like fourteen years old.

Steve: The people who run the Wilson Center are from Positive Force DC, and they’re really politically correct.

There’s politically correct, and then there’s PC Police brutality...

Timmy: If they (Wilson Center kids) won’t let the Ultimate Warriors play because of something like that, then they’re probably mad at us, too. The last show we played there got crazy. Some kid went to the hospital.

What? Did someone throw a cymbal or a chair into the audience or something?

Steve: (laughing, pointing at Timmy) You’ve got a lot to live up to when you play the Wilson Center.

Timmy: Me and Steve we just looking at each other, thinking “yeah, we’re playing the same place Minor Threat was playing, and this looks like a Minor Threat show, and we’re doing a Minor Threat cover. We were excited, and we just started throwing everything...

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Mail Bag

Dear Sir or Madam,

I just thought I'd point out one flaw in your citation of examples. The Misfits may have released nine eps before Walk Among Us, but they recorded one single before recording the Static Age session which, as I'm sure you're aware, became the Bullet 7" due to a lack of sufficient funds to press a 12". Static Age is, in my estimation, the best punk lp ever recorded.

In a lot of cases, I agree with you completely. It's far too easy for shitty bands that shouldn't be out of their practice spaces to put out records. But I'd rather see lps come out at the rate they do. If they suck it usually just breaks up bad bands and makes well-intended but poorly run labels flop. I'm all for natural selection thinning everything out.

I enjoy your rants. Keep it up.

Alex Byrne


Alex,

That noise you are hearing is me banging my head against my flat screen. You are absolutely correct about Static Age being recorded as an LP, but ultimately becoming the Bullet EP due to a lack of finances. It is indeed one of the greatest punk records of all time, and under my reign as King of the Scene, it might well never have happened. You definitely caught me sleeping, passed out in a puddle of my own drool, and I applaud you for it.

My "No LPs" edict is pointed directly at bands that came after 1990, when the quality of records, in my estimation, dropped significantly in this scene. I know my LP ban seems heavy handed and oppressive, but the motive behind my edict is to give the scene a "courtesy flush," because sometimes it just stinks in here.

Thanks for your email, and thanks for reading.
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Yo Sarge,

Best of luck to you & your brother. I'm hoping all turns out well. I actually went through a bone marrow transpalnt for my brother a little over ten years ago. If yours is like mine, be ready to have pain pills close at hand. I was couch ridden for a couple weeks & reduced to crawling to the bathroom for a bit. The "surgery" itself is a relative piece of cake, though. The doctors give you some of the stuff Porcell is on & you won't feel a thing until the next day.

Take care,

Jeff Johns


I got many comments and emails like this one after the Hardcore Journal I posted on 5/4/2005. I just wanted to say thanks to everyone for including my brother and I in your thoughts and prayers. Your support was unexpected, and greatly appreciated. Thank you.

I'm pretty sure ol' Slam is high on life and nothing else. If I'm going to be as sore as I think I'm going to be after this procedure, I'm going straight for the happy pills. If I blog that week, it should be interesting. =)
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That story (Death By Stereo, Or Three-Story Fall: posted 4/5/2005) is pretty crazy. I remember hearing about it when it happened. Last August this guy moved to Milwaukee (where I live) and he was a cool record nerd-type. After hanging out with him for a while I found out that he lived at the house where that show happened. It was weird to find that out because up until that point it was just some random show that went wrong. Now it's a friend that's getting totally screwed.

The weird thing about one of the stories I read was that the dead kid's family is going for 40 million and the two kids who are living with non-permanent injuries are both going for 50 million. Ridiculous.

Dan Agacki

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Please send any thoughts, critisism, or mailbag items to bareboneshc@hotmail.com

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

The True 'Til Death Pact

This column originally appeared in Fuck You Fanzine (Issue 2, Volume III) in April of 2002.

Of all of the kids I came into this scene with in those last few months of 1986, I was the last one to break my edge. The first one in the crew to hand over his x’s was my buddy Mark. I remember getting the news about Mark secondhand, the day after John Kercher’s 1990 New Years Eve party. From what I heard, Mark was absolutely hammered, and he had spent a good portion of the night jumping from the second-story roof of John’s house into shallow snow drifts. Apparently, he was the hit of the party. Mark confirmed as much when I saw him the next day. I was sad that he broke his edge, but it never affected our friendship.

After that night, the dam burst and a wave of beer washed my straight-edge friends away one by one until finally, at the age of 22, a True til’ Death Ronny Little met his maker at a soccer house party on the campus of Textile College in Philadelphia.

She was the friend of a friend. She was hot. She was interested. She was bringing me one beer after another, and I was drinking those beers one after the other. I got wasted. I got laid. It was one of the best nights of my life. The next weekend, I went out for drinks with my non-edge friends who welcomed the crew’s last holdout into the ranks of the fallen with a shower of beer.

It would be nice if I had done some things differently. Of course, breaking my edge wouldn’t be something I would’ve done differently. I enjoy the occasional night of drinking, and the circumstances surrounding my initial edge-breaking were just awesome. But if I could be 15 years-old again, and find myself yet again in a tight-knit group of straight-edge kids that each swear they’ll never touch a bottle, I would suggest some kind of “True til Death Pact.”

I’d pattern the pact after that storyline where a bunch of WWII grunts sitting in a foxhole with bombs exploding all around them decide to make some kind of pact to get them through the night, where the last remaining survivor would reap the spoils of some secret stash of stolen Nazi booty. In my situation, if I could do things over, I would have all of my straight-edge buddies each chip in $100 to buy some insanely collectible record, or collection of records, which would be awarded to the last remaining member of the crew who was still standing hard. That would be something to talk about. That would make things interesting. Hell, if I had done that years ago, and it was Walk Among Us on pink vinyl that hung in the balance, I still might be edge to this day.

Of course, none of us thought we would ever break our edge, so making any kind of pact like that would’ve seemed pretty pointless. There wouldn’t have been a winner, right? Ah, but eleven years later, I know much better than that.

Chances are if you’re straight-edge, have a bunch of straight-edge friends, and are reading these words right now, you may actually be delusional enough to think that you and your friends are nailed to the x for the long haul. While I can think of some kids in New Jersey who have actually accomplished that feat, it doesn’t look good for the rest of you. That’s my not pessimism speaking. It’s simply a matter of history.

If True til Death was exactly just that – the day you drank was the day you died – I think it’s safe to say that over the last decade, the casualties would’ve been staggering. We’d have enough names to put on a slab of granite the size of the Vietnam War Memorial; single-spaced, with both sides of the monument filled to its limit. Think about that.

When measured in those terms, the track record of the average straight-edge kid doesn’t exactly inspire any kind of confidence. But I’m pretty sure there are some of you sitting there reading this, saying to yourself “not me. I’m dedicated.” I would counter that you’re in denial.

So if you’re smart, you’ll gather your straight-edge friends together and pick some kind of prize for the last man standing, because, if you actually believe you’re going to be True til Death (and 99.5% of you won’t be), you might as well put your money where your mouth is, and make things interesting.

I Have Spoken.

Ronny Little
Patron Saint of Edge-Breakers

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Victory Records is Hiring!



Dear Mr. Bummell,

My name is Ronny Little and I am contacting you regarding the receptionist vacancy posted to the Victory Records website. What an exciting opportunity! I have wanted to be a part of the Victory family as far back as 1989, when your Bulldog label first began humping the leg of the American Hardcore scene. By sending this cover letter, I am formally requesting consideration for the receptionist opportunity at Victory Records.

I can understand why you are looking for a new receptionist. I made a call to Victory HQ the other day, and the coat rack who answered the phone was completely useless. She couldn't answer any of my questions! When you ask someone who works at a hardcore record label who the singer for Negative Approach was, the answer should NEVER be "Negawhat?" or "Are you serious?"

I suppose that all of the inquiries you have received for this opportunity thus far have come to you with resumes attached to them. I've decided that it would be more "punk rock" to say screw the resume, just give me the effing job. It's not my previous experience as an On-air Producer for a Philadelphia Sports Talk radio station, or my years of experience as a professional in Public Broadcasting that is going to convince you that I'm the right homie to work the phones at Victory. So screw the freaking resume, okay? You're not going to get it, so stop asking me for it.

I may have gone to a little cow pie school in the middle of a cornfield in the middle of Pennsylvania, but my Hardcore education is top notch. Eighteen years of endless chatter about record pressings, scene gossip, and "who's tougher, Harley Flannigan or Richie Birkenhead" will finally pay off, preparing me for my true calling as the Voice of Victory Records. I have the knowledge to excel at the position, and as the former singer for Philadelphia's Rain On The Parade, I also have delivery skills to bring to the table.

The way I see it, a telephone is no different than a microphone. When it's in my hand, I have to be "on." I think you'll like my vocal range. I can answer the phone by screaming into it like Paul Bearer, or I can do a sing/talk/scream thing like Ian MacKaye does. OR, since I'll be on the phone anyway, I can do a little HR "Sacred Love" kinda thing. What do you think?

Anyway, just give me the job. I'm flying into Chicago on Tuesday. Clear 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. off of your schedule for our lunch interview. By the way, I'm a vegetarian, so choose an appropriate restaurant. Don't make me firestorm your azz.

See you soon,

Ronny Little
Future Receptionist
Victory Records
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RECEPTIONIST
Responsibilities will include answering and directing calls, customer service, invoice processing, welcoming, escorting and catering to visitors, sorting and distributing mail, running errands, researching and booking flights for staff along with a wide variety of administrative and light accounting functions. The ideal candidate will have previous office experience, possess an upbeat, gregarious personality, high energy level, possess strong multi-tasking skills, owns and drives a car, competent with MS Office, especially Word and Excel and type 50+ words/minute. Full benefits after 3 months. Casual, ‘wear what you want’ environment. This position is for a solid, first class, effervescent person. Our last four receptionists have been promoted to other positions within the company. Fax resumes, along with pay expectations to: 312.873.3889. Position is available immediately.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Trimming Five Inches: Uniform Choice "Screaming for Change" LP



"Trimming Five Inches" will be a recurring feature on Barebones Hardcore. The premise of the feature is to take a decent album, trim the fat from it by removing any filler, and recreate an INCREDIBLE record in a 7-inch format -- the way it should have been released in the first place! If you're a regular reader at BBHC, then you're probably aware of my distaste for the LP record. If not, go back to my entry posted on May 4, 2005, where I lay out my case for why "twelve-inches" should only come in the form of pizzas.

Keep in mind, a 7-inch EP can only fit five minutes to a side. Because of this limitation, the occasional "keeper" might be left off. No worries -- it can go on the next record.

If I had produced Uniform Choice's "Screaming for Change," this is how it would've turned out:

Side A:
1. Use Your Head
2. Straight and Alert
3. Build to Break

(Matrix: "I'm sorry, that I stole it...I'm sorry, I'm sorry for you")

Side B:
1. Screaming for Change
2. Big Man, Small Mind
3. Once I cry

(Matrix: "Porcell wears a bunny suit")

Leave for the next record: My Own Mind (needs new lyrics), No Thanks (one sxe song per record is ENOUGH!), A Choice, In Time

Filler: Scream to Say, Sometimes, Don't Quit (even with non-greeting card lyrics, this is a musical weak link), Silenced (there's no poetry in hardcore!)

Monday, May 09, 2005

Interview -- Striking Distance



The trail of fresh red droplets began at the microwave in our kitchen. One small smear on the microwave, three large blobs on the Formica counter tops, one long red streak slowly inching it’s way down the lower cabinet door, until finally a speckled trail of red took me across our white linoleum kitchen tiles, over our shaggy cream (now partially red) carpeting, and then vanishing at the living room couch where my roommate, Striking Distance front man Dave Byrd, sat watching TV. With his left hand, he applied pressure to a bleeding wound on his head (the result of a close encounter with an errant tuning peg). With his right, he polished off what remained of his dinner -- the Dave Byrd Special (micro-waved Boca Burger, white bread bun, ketchup). Ketchup dribbled down the corners of Dave’s mouth, onto his white Mucky Pup t-shirt. To this day, I still don’t know whether I was following a trail of blood or condiments to that couch.

I’ve known a lot of punks in my life, and there was never a single one I wanted to live with, until I met Dave Byrd. Dave was different. Here was a guy who could be the hardest dude on the dance floor, skate a 15’ half-pipe with the ease of a pro, play any instrument, and at the same time give you tips on your resume, stock portfolio, women and life in general.

Dave walks a very fine line. He is the perfect blend of Regular Guy & Joe Hardcore, and I’ve always dug that about the dude. As the ideal roommate, he was relatively neat, sociable, he’d carry my share of the bills on difficult months, and he’d always pay the rent on time (whether I had my half of the money or not). On the one occasion that Dave and I were late with the rent, we were penalized with a $125 late fee. Joe Hardcore came out swinging on that one -- I had to talk Dave out of slashing our landlord’s tires.


I know we haven't lived together in over a year now, but I meant to tell you that John Hennessee (singer of D.C. band For The Living) called for you one night. He woke me up out of a deep sleep in the middle of the night wanting to speak with you, but you weren't home. The message was that the next time he saw you it would, and I quote, "come to blows." Were there any fireworks going on between you two?

Dave Byrd: All this happened over a year ago. There was a shady promoter running this venue in College Park, MD called St. Andrews Church. Let me preface by saying that this venue was originally secured by Steve No Justice and another guy who did a few awesome shows there until the shady promoter took the venue from them. How could this be done? Well, he (Mr. Shady) called up the owner and told her that all this bad stuff was going on at their shows and that he would be a better person to control the happenings at the venue (Venues are hard to come by in the DC area, so this was a major scandal). Also, let it be known that this guy had put us on a couple of local shows (not at St. Andrews) and NEVER offered to pay us. In fact, he would leave the show early to avoid us. He starts booking bigger independent bands and the popularity of the venue grows exponentially.

My major problem with the whole situation stems to the simple fact he was making a killing ($7,000-8,000) per show while the bands received much less. I happened to know the venue cost $200 to rent out, plus another $200 for sound. St. Andrews has a capacity of 800 people. He would charge $10 for a show and 800 people would show up which would equate to $8,000 with $400 to 500 in costs. He would pay the bands the minimum amount and pocket the rest, usually leaving with $6,000. He even quit his day job because he was making so much money. So for me, it all came down to fairness and the basic ‘punk rock’ ethic. He didn’t treat bands fairly, and he didn’t treat the DC area people fairly. For me hardcore, punk, or whatever should not be a means to someone’s pocket. I know it happens on a grand scale everyday, but I saw this as something I could change and something that I was an integral part of and very important to me, the DC scene.

So, some friends and I conjured up ways we could put an end to this because we (Jon Hennessee included) were all pretty fed up with what was going on. In all sincerity, we could have just walked into one of his shows, told him it was shut down, and started beating people up to seal the deal (the cops would have shown up…etc). Instead, we thought of something funnier to do, see, we had a shit load of fireworks and thought we would create an apocalyptic scene at an upcoming Darkest Hour show. About 10 of us all had fireworks and we all agreed to light them after the 4th Darkest Hour song (they were headlining band). When the fireworks started going off, most of the kids were into it, but it was the promoter who stopped the show. Some other kids decided to jump one of my friends so we defended him. Jon H. tried to fight me, and we got a lot of shit for doing this by some other ‘friends’ who in the past were critics of this promoter, but took his side. Hypocrites. Brian McTernan criticized us, but didn’t have the sense to call me to ask me what the motivations behind the action were. So basically, that’s what ‘The Fuse is Lit’ is all about. Taking action, getting shit for it, and calling out ‘holier than thou’ friends.

Over the last year, you've been spending a lot of time in the van. While on the road with the band, what are things that push your buttons?

Byrd: I’m a solitary guy. I’ve always been alone. So being in a van in close proximity to other people is sometimes difficult. On the road, we’re a democracy as a band. Let me just say, fuck democracy. The other guys in the band are younger and into different things than I. I don’t like going to the mall & dollar stores, listening to Weezer, RFTC, Leatherface 24-7. I seriously don’t listen to these bands anymore because of tour (my headphones were broken, so I couldn’t escape it). We’ve learned to deal with each other pretty well. We fight. We get over it. It’s pretty cool (strange to some) that we’ve kept the same line-up since 1999.

What’s the alpha-omega of your record collection? The first one you ever bought (punk/hc) and the most recent one you've gotten.

Byrd: My first hardcore purchase was Dead Kennedy’s ‘Plastic Surgery Disasters’ LP and Minor Threat’s ‘Filler’ LP (not the EP). The most recent (damn I have a lot of new stuff) was Tragedy ‘Vengeance’ & Hellacopters ‘Cream of the Crap’ CDs, Cast Aside 7” & Modern Life is War and Suicide Files CDs.

What's the sound track to your life right now? (List the band and the song that has lyric subject matter that fits what's going on in your life right now. Give me 5 songs).

Byrd: Tragedy: Conflicting Ideas, Beginning of the End. Bad Religion: Modern Man. Aftermath: Falling Down. Dead Stop: Hate Your Guts

I'm glad that I've been exposed to punk and hardcore music. It
helped me to discover so many things like vegetarianism, straight-edge (later reduced to moderation and sensible drinking), and questioning the powers that be. Without the influence of this music in my life, I'm certain I'd be a much different person. Of course, there was a lot of pain and persecution attached to growing up punk, and not all of it was times that I look back and feel like it built character. So my question to you is this: you're in your 30's now. Family may be in the future someday. Would you want your kids to be punks and go through all of the difficulties involved, or would you rather they be more mainstream, but raised by the ideals you picked up through punk (like being vegetarian, questioning authority, etc.)?


Byrd: First off, I feel the same way regarding growing up punk. It is something I often ruminate as I have aged. Prior to 1985, I was on the road to becoming a mainstream frat boy indulging in every societal ill you can imagine. I was in middle school and starting getting involved with drinking, drugs, crime, violence, and had formed attitudes/biases towards certain groups of people. I was 13, apathetic, and I only cared for one person, me. As I became involved in punk and hardcore, it opened my mind to different ways of thinking and being. I believe punk rock was the answer for me given my situation. It is not a path for everyone because like you said it is painful, but it is sometimes necessary.

So back to your question, I don’t think I want my kids to go through the same trials and tribulations as I. This is often the goal of most parents, being, to make a better life for your children. However, I know there’s only a certain amount of influence you can have on your kids before they need to make decisions on their own. I would hope to instill some of the basic values of punk and hardcore in my kids and try to ensure they are happy and satisfied with their lives. Not to say that they will not encounter difficulties, but I will mindfully try to prepare them for such things so they can think their way out of them. Will they turn out to be mainstream monozygots? I hope not!

Who gets the most ass in Striking Distance?

Byrd: I’m basically the single guy in SD right now, so I get the least ass. Everyone else in the band has girlfriends.

A lot of hardcore kids have a bad attitude about college as far as its value beyond four years of partying. You have a bachelor's and master's degree. What are your degrees in and how have they helped you both in terms of finance and personal growth?

Byrd: I find that most kids who have a bad attitude about college are typically the ones who’ve never taken any classes outside of high school. They perceive college as a big frat party where you learn how to do keg stands, rape girls, and waste your parent’s money ala ‘Animal House’ the movie. Unfortunately, this is sometimes true. However, I think what you learn and experience in school is directly related to the amount of effort you put into your education. College is not for everyone. What I mean is, depending upon what your goals are in life you might not need a 4-year degree. While growing up, I worked commercial and home construction, landscape, and even dug gas line trenches and I quickly realized that kind of work was not for me…there had to be something better out there. After all, I wasn’t going to become a professional skateboarder like I had hoped!

I earned a B.A. in Psychology in ’95 and an M.A. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology in ‘97. In terms of personal growth, it was a life-changing experience. I learned a lot about my mental capabilities, people, and most importantly, I learned HOW to learn. My education involved a lot of research and analysis and this mode of thinking enabled me to approach everyday issues (personal, political, etc) in a more rational way. Financially, the degrees have open doors to better paying jobs where people rely upon what’s in my brain rather than how much dirt I can move with a shovel.

Do the math: four guys + one van = ass gas. In Striking Distance, the worst ass in the van goes to?

Byrd: We have a Barth in the band…enough said.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

10,000 Hits

I just crossed over the 10,000 hits plateau on the stat counter. It feels real nice to be in 5-digit territory after only 7 weeks of having the site up. Thanks to everyone who has been reading the site. I appreciate it!

Ronny Little

Announcement -- "comments" function has been enabled

I've had several requests from my readers to enable the "comments" function on my blog site. I am acknowledging and granting this request. Feel free to post comments to any of my blogs from now on. I'll keep the feature enabled as long as people are not complete assholes about it. By saying that, I am not discouraging dissent. I encourage opposite points of view, and I love a good argument, so feel free to bring it on if you are so inclined.

HOWEVER, if the commentary gets ridiculously out of hand, childish or threatening, I'll have to rethink my position.

Thanks for reading!
Ronny Little

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Hardcore Journal Entry -- April 24, 2005

"Chubby Fresh...in a thong, pasties and a ridiculous amount of make up."

"Jeff Nelson...in a naughty French Maid outfit."

"Sean McCabe...in assless chaps and a sports bra."

I clung to these images in my head as Ingrid, one of the Oncology Fellows on my brother's medical team, performed my physical exam. Doctors should never be that attractive, and certainly not that young. And they should never wear a skirt above the knees when performing a physical on a dude. It's just not fair. She looked like an actress that played the part of a Doctor. Anyway, if she was going to ask me to turn my head and cough, I needed a distraction to avoid the embarrassment of The General snapping to attention.

"Mike Judge...in nothing but a bandana, construction gloves and an athletic supporter."

After my exam, I got to meet with my brother's medical team. My brother's name is Michael, and he has Hodgkin's Disease. He underwent treatment a couple of years ago and battled his cancer into remission, but after a year he had a relapse. This is very discouraging because when you normally get Hodgkin's Disease into remission, it usually stays there. The recovery rate is around 90%. My brother's relapse is a concern, because the likelihood of reoccurence jumps significantly if there is a relapse. Since he has a compromised immune system from round after round of chemotherapy and radiation, his treatment this time around involves a bone marrow transplant, which is why I'm in Philadelphia today.

A bone marrow transplant involves a procedure where doctors stab me in the ass for several hours with large pointy needles in order to extract the good stuff. Apparently, bone marrow is where white blood cells are created, so the process involves zapping my brother's white blood cell counts down to nothing with radiation, and then blasting my healthy white blood cells into his blood stream so they can nuke any remaining active lymphoma in his body. I'm happy to do it for my brother, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't nervous. I've never had surgery before.

Throughout the entire consultation, the doctor sitting to my right side was breathing through her mouth, quite loudly I might add. She didn't sound healthy at all. There were several instances where she would make grunting and gurgling noises in between breaths that, at times, made it sound as if at that very moment she was trying to pass a particularly dry stool. On several occasions, I've heard stuff like that in the bathroom stall next to me, but never in a meeting where six different people were involved.

However, nobody else seemed to notice, which I found intriguing because after spending my fair share of time in rehearsal studios going full blast without the thought of protecting my ears, I'm pretty certain I have a degree of hearing loss. Nobody seemed to notice the jet engine in a labcoat next to me, though. Maybe it was all just white noise for them.

The whole train ride home, I have felt a little unsettled. I'm thirty-four years old, and I am realizing, just now, that I have been involved with hardcore and punk rock for over half of my life to date. It's like I've lived two entirely different lives. I've been involved with hardcore so intimately that it's to the point that I hardly remember what life was like before I got into music.

One of the themes that has stuck with me through the journey thus far has been that 7 Seconds "Young til I Die" mentality. I'm approaching middle-age in a few years, and I still feel young. Despite my rotting hair follicles, people often tell me I look much younger than my age. I don't know if it's some kind of mystical healing properties that hardcore music has, or if it's the social retardation that's often involved with being a hardcore "kid" well past teenage years. Whatever it is, I still feel young.

However, watching my brother battle his illness recently has taken a little bit of that feeling away. At least for today.

When I'm King of the Scene: No More LP Records!

That's right, bitches. When I'm King of the Scene, the LP Record will disappear from my Realm. The only time you will see 12-inches of ANYTHING will be from Papa John's, or a 12-inch record that has two 7-inch EP's on it (ala Dischord Records #12), or if you're standing next to me at the urinal (stop LOOKING!).

Straight up, albums suck. Oh sure, you can point to The Descendents' "Milo Goes to College" or Dag Nasty's "Can I Say" and ask me how I could possibly have problems with masterpieces such as those. You could hold up "Break Down the Walls" and "We're Not In This Alone" and ask me if I'm certifiably insane. It's only fair.

My position is that for every "Age of Quarrel," there are 20 Lifetime "Background" LP's out there. No, really. Go check the dollar bin at any record exchange. You'll see what I mean. For every Suicidal Tendencies self-titled LP, there are 20 other totally FORGETTABLE albums out there.

I would've never taken this position in the 80's, because bands produced better material back then. That's not to say that today's bands can't hold a candle to the bands that paved the way. What I'm saying is, circumstances were different back then, which led to a different approach in the evolution of the earlier bands.

In the 80's, recording a 7-inch EP was a feat in itself. For most bands, it was the ultimate goal. There were a lot of less heralded bands that just recorded demos and played their hometown with touring bands that blew through their local clubs. The demo bands didn't tour. They weren't good enough. They weren't seasoned. This was in a day when most shows were in clubs, and if a band sucked, nobody went out for pizza. Instead, the crowd would throw shit at you in the form or spit, coins, unopened soda cans, beer bottles, and the occasional cup of piss. I see today's scene packed with bands that never would've been anything more than a local "demo band" back in my day. I'm sorry. It's just a fact.

By the time a band in the 80's got to a 7-inch, they usually had two or three demos under their belt, and had been playing together for a couple of years. At that point, they were seasoned, had stage presence, and were ready for vinyl. In 2005, a lot of bands put out a demo as a formality. It's just something to do before they go running into the studio to record their 7-inch so they can run into the studio again the next year to record their album.

7 Seconds recorded three 7-inch EP's before they put out "The Crew" LP. The Misfits released NINE 7-inch EP's before they recorded the "Walk Among Us" LP. Minor Threat recorded two EP's and a couple of compilation songs before they released "Out of Step" (which is TECHNICALLY an EP at 8 songs under 20 minutes). Black Flag recorded four EP's before the "Damaged" LP. The list goes on and on.

The difference between 1985 and 2005 is that recording technology is more accessible and less expensive. Today, it's totally about instant gratification. Where the bands that came before spent years CRAFTING their sound, today's hardcore kids are getting fitted for the hardcore brass ring before they can even get their songs uploaded to their MySpace page.

I listen to a lot of LP records by bands today where I find that if the band had pared the tracking list down to the best 6 or 7 songs on the album, it would've made an excellent EP record. But in the quest to fill those 20 minutes of space so they can tour on a bigger record, they add the filler that just kills a lot of these records for me. And believe me, a guy who wrote steaming piles of songs such as "Climbing the Ladder," "PC Police Brutality," and "Do Or Die" can smell a song written on a napkin on the way to the studio a mile away.

So, because I love my loyal subjects, I will save you from your MTV Generation selves. When I am King of the Scene, there will be no more LP records. I will give you 7-inches, or I will give you death.

I have spoken.

His Royal Majesty, Ronny Little

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Trimming Five Inches: Slapshot "Step On It"



If I had produced this record, this is how it would've turned out:

Side A:

1. Step On It
2. Chameleon
3. Show The Way
4. No Friend of Mine

Side B:

5. I've Had Enough
6. Hang Up Your Boots
7. Chant
8. In Your Face

Dead Weight: You Lost It, No Time Left, Same Mistake, Could It Be, No Guts No Glory, Rise and Fall, Enforcer