Friday, December 23, 2005

BBHC Top 10: My favorite posts of 2005

The new year approaches, which can only mean one thing -- COUNTDOWNS! On television. On radio. You can't avoid them! Not even on Barebones Hardcore as I count down my Top Ten favorite posts of 2005!

Moving down the countdown to number nine, my critique of the "straight edge" episode of CBS's Judging Amy. The show got cancelled a few weeks after this review. I was so bummed. I wasn't into the show or anything like that. I was just certain that the plot line of Amy's daughter being straight edge would yeild endless opportunities for comedy at Barebones Hardcore. I mourn what could have been...

I finally got around to watching this week's episode of Judging Amy. I normally wouldn't watch this show, but there was discussion on the Livewire Message Board about this week's episode having a straight edge plot, so I plugged it into the digital recorder and figured I watch it for a laugh.

I was hoping that Amy would find out her 14 year-old vegetarian daughter was straight edge after being hauled into her courtroom in chains for fire-bombing a McDonald's, or at least hopping onto the counter and shouting the lyrics to MDC's "Corporate Death Burger." But the show is on CBS, and I'm sure such a shocking plot line would soil more than one pair of Depends.

As it turned out, Amy discovers her daughter is one of these crazy straight edgers after she gets a call from Lauren's Principal's office with news that her daughter had been suspended for staging some kind of protest in the cafeteria that involved her friends, $300 in hamburger damages and, (I'm assuming) a very pissed off cafeteria lady.

The next time the straight edge plot appeared in the episode was a confrontation in her daughter's bedroom. While snooping around, Amy came across a wad of $300 and immediately assumed the worst; the straight edge thing is too good to be true. It's obviously a ploy to trick parents into thinking their drug dealing kids are actually on the straight and narrow.





Me: ...barf.

If I was the daughter, the answer would have been "I sold my fucking Chung King on eBay! Why do you have to be such a raging bitch?!" But noooooooo. As it turned out, her and the other 19 of her straight edge friends (damn, that's a crew) involved in the cafeteria incident each chipped in $15 a piece (by school mandate) to cover the damages of the protest.

Amy: (stunned into silence, realizing that her daughter is growing up and making good decisions) ...

Lauren: (silent, tearing up because her Mom didn't believe her at first) ...

Me: ...bleeeaurghhhh!!!

I first got into straight edge when I was 15 years old. The year was 1986. None of my friends knew about stuff like the Youth Crew or anything like that. We were all punkers and skaters who were into a mishmash of bands ranging from Minor Threat to Dayglo Abortions.

I was always dressing in stuff that I thought was cool, but was entirely alien to my Mom. She didn't get the stupid hair. The dog collar. The shirts that said Suicidal Tendencies, Agnostic Front, Circle Jerks and Dirty Rotten Imbiciles. She was concerned because this was a pretty radical departure for me. I got the gear and pretty much changed the way I looked over night, and it was really freaking her out.

After about a year, my Mom decided it was time to confront me, because with the crazy music, the freaky friends, and the new wardrobe, I was obviously on drugs. She burst into my room one day and scratched the needle across the 7 Seconds record I was blasting on my turntable.





Me: NO MOM. I'M NOT ON DRUGS! WHY DON'T YOU GET ME A PEPSI(a joke that went right over her head, but I found hilarious none the less).

My Mom was in a total frenzy. I had never seen her so freaked out about anything I was involved with. At one point, she picked up my copy of Break Down The Walls, held it over her head and, no shit, said "I heard on the news that this band worships THE DEVIL!!"

Of course I burst into laughter.

Of course I got grounded.

Of course I had to flee the house when my Dad came over to kick my ass for upsetting my Mom that badly.

With straight edge and punk being so completely seperated these days, I doubt parents would jump to such conclusions anymore. If you put the guys in The First Step in neck kerchiffs and plopped them down next to Boy Scout Troop 36, you'd have a hard time telling who was who. Nobody is ever going to look at that band, or anybody who jocks their style, and say "those dudes are on drugs."

I may actually continue to watch this show. If Amy's daughter is True til Death and the straight edge plot line continues, I'm guessing she'll be sleeping with members of Mental and Righteous Jams sometime in the next few seasons.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

BBHC Top 10: My favorite posts of 2005

The new year approaches, which can only mean one thing -- COUNTDOWNS! On television. On radio. You can't avoid them! Not even on Barebones Hardcore as I count down my Top Ten favorite posts of 2005!

Number 10

Entering the countdown at number ten I think will always be one of my all-time moments here at Barebones Hardcore. On my second post ever, I wrote a nuclear open letter to Alternative Press Magazine after reading their "Bringing It Back: A.P.'s Hardcore Special" feature (issue #201, April 2005). In just my second day of blogging, I drew 6,000 hits as a result of the letter. I got a ton of feedback from many of my new readers. Nobody seemed to like how the AP feature came out. Not even many of the bands that participated in it!

I also got in both a public and private pissing match with a couple of AP employees (Johan Bayer and Scott Heisel) which made it all the more fun. I got a kick out of the fact that there were some people out there in Ohio sitting around wondering what the fuck my problem was. After that, there were some private correspondences between me and another staff member at AP, who asked that all of the email conversations we had remain off the record, which was disappointing to me, because there was a really intresting dialog going on, in my opinion.

I'm almost certain that today, AP's policy on bloggers like me goes something like "AP does not deal with terrorists," which is probably the smart thing to do, because I'll always wipe the floor with posers like Johan Bayer and Scott Heisel.

Anyway, I dropped a dirty bomb on Alternative Press, and it instantly put BBHC on the map, so this moment has to be included in the countdown.

Dear Tiger Bea -- whoops! Alternative Press:

Thank you so much for including Hardcore's ummm... best and brightest in the pages of the Boy Band Bonanza that calls itself "Alternative" Press these days. Your feature, "Bringing It Back: A.P.'s Hardcore Special" read more like a paid advertisement for labels such as Victory, Trustkill, Equal Vision, and Bridge Nine Records than as an authoritative piece on today's Hardcore scene.

The reason that Hardcore music has experienced a massive resurgence over the past 10 years is because labels like Victory Records nearly killed traditional hardcore in the early 1990's. Back then, bands such as Earth Crisis and Snapcase -- metal bands packaged and marketed as Hardcore bands -- were painted as the new face of Hardcore music. Fortunately, a few Hardcore purists saw it more as vandalism and took the musical direction of the scene into their own hands.

By 1995, a handful of bands rejected the status quo of the new scene and started repairing the damage done by Victory -- record by record, show by show. While bands like Ignite, Mouthpiece, Floorpunch, Ten Yard Fight, In My Eyes, 97a and Rain On The Parade would never be able to move the amount of "units" that any of the bands in your feature could move, they were undeniably the reason that Hardcore did not vanish into the metal abyss perpetuated by the likes of Tony Brumell. They were also the reason your magazine now has a Hardcore revival to write about, which by the way, has been going on for 10 years now. Get with the times.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised by how bad your Hardcore special turned out. Not when you charge a handful of outsiders and rookie newbs with writing it. To mix bonified Hardcore bands such as Triple Threat, Righteous Jams, Mental, Paint It Black, Outbreak and Champion in with the likes of overtly metal-influenced bands like Bane, Converge and Terror (who have gone down hill since Todd Jones departed the band on his own terms) shows the true colors of your writing staff, which is decidedly green.

And don't even get me started on Laura Wiebe Taylor. At first, I thought she might have fallen into this assignment as a guesture of gratitude by Johan Bayer after she held his coat while he was off moshing. Instead, it just turned out to be bad judgement. Afterall, why would you select someone with a background in metal to write for your Hardcore special? A google search had her name turn up at Unrestrained Magazine, which is apparently Canada's "Authority on the Metal Underground."

"So what" you say? Well, if your writing staff was more in touch with our scene, they would never compare New Jersey's Triple Threat (a band that meticulously crafts it's complex sound after legendary California acts BL'AST! and Black Flag) to the likes of lunch pail mosh bands like Madball, Terror, and Bane. Such a reckless comparison in a national forum is enough to drive a straight-edge band to drink. Why is there a need for the "Rocks Like:" comparisons anyway? Is this Alternative Press or is it

If you want your magazine to ever have a shred of credibility with the Hardcore scene, you'll have to do better than a couple of half-assed Hardcore "specials" written by a bunch of posers who bend over and let Victory and Trustkill Records ram it home. Until you get it right, I'll continue to wipe my hemorrhoids with your Boy Band rag.

I Have Spoken,

Ronny Little


From the desk of Johan Bayer, editor of that Alternative Press "Bringing It Back: A.P.'s Hardcore Special" feature:

Hey Ronnie,

If Anal Cunt wrote a song about you it would be called:

"You Used To Sing For Rain On The Parade"

Thanks for your input and for once again reinforcing hardcore's sexist stereotypes--I'm sure that all four people who read your blog are very proud! JB
HA! Well, I suppose I deserved that Johan. To set the record straight, the only song floating around out there written about yours truly would be Mouthpiece's "What Remains," but I will gladly lend my name to the Anal Cunt discography if it will help you and your staff find closure for the new asshole I just tore all of you.

It is such rich irony that a guy who works for a magazine filled from cover to cover with pictures of nothing but MALE musicians would call me a sexist. Why don't you page through that March issue of Alternative Press and tell me how many women are pictured that aren't models, actresses, or random girls being asked if tattos are still fashionable? If I'm taking A.P.'s word for it, it looks like the only music worth checking out is the kind made by retarded young white males.

I'll take my four well-informed readers over your magazine's legion of posers any day.

Pose Hard, brah.

Ronny Little

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Hardcore Archeology: The Young Republicans


Commentary by: Porcell

The YR's were my first stab at a punk band, circa 9th grade. The band consisted of 3/4's of the original Youth of Today lineup, namely me on guitar, Graham Phillips on bass and Darren Pesce on drums. We had a singer named Eric that didn't really show up to practice too often, mostly because he was slowly turning away from punk and hanging out with the "Drami's" at school. In case you don't know what a Drami is, it's the type of kid who hangs out at the drama club after school, smokes clove cigarettes and dresses in a psuedo-new wave jacket with puffy shoulders, skinny tie and a Cure button. You had to grow up in the 80's to really unappreciate this type of pretentious geek. Needless to say, as punks, the drami's were our arch enemies, so we booted Eric from the band rather quickly and maliciously.

By this time we were well into high school and pretty serious about the band, so we started looking for a new singer, with absolutely no luck for months. It was tough because me and Graham were really the only 'core kids around and punk was so alien back then that the rest of the school literally thought we should be locked up. Then our break came. Rumor had it that a skinhead had moved to the area and was going to North Salem high school, not far from where I lived. Graham and I cut out of school early and drove over to North Salem, asking everyone in the parking lot if they knew about this skinhead character, which every single person did. "Yeah that fucking weirdo? He's here, you'll see him when he gets out of class for sure, you can't fucking miss him!" We knew we had found a kindred spirit without even meeting this dude.

Sure enough, out walks this kid in full boots, braces and flight jacket, head shaved to the bone. I can't tell you how radical it was back then to shave your head not only with a buzzer, but with a razor. No one did that back then. The dude looked friggin' awesome, just for the shock and awe he generated by his appearance alone. We introduced ourselves, and he seemed psyched to have some friends because it was apparent he had made a lot of enemies at school already. He became our new singer that day without even trying out.

His name was Sam, and he was an interesting character. He was the son of these rich, ultra left wing intellectuals from the city who sought greener pastures out in the countryside of Westchester. Sam, unfortunately, had to be relocated kicking and screaming and was really bummed to leave the city. He was young but had already been to his fair share of shows and would dazzle us with stories about the lower east side, A7, moshing at CBGB's, and Harley Flanagan, the leader of a "punk gang called the Cro-Mags." Sam would come with us to the Anthrax when it was a tiny art gallery in Stamford, Connecticut and was the first person I ever heard describe slam dancing as "skanking." Thus he became known at the 'thrax as Sam the Skanking Skinhead, and he would go nuts on the dancefloor for every band.

Sam at the John Jay Highschool Battle of the Bands

Sam was really good friends with this kid Niels, a half oriental skinhead from the city who was better known as "Womp'm", the guy who drew all those awesome early Agnostic Front and Cro-Mags flyers (if you've never seen these before, do some searching on the internet, they were incredible). Womp'm would come up to Westchester to visit Sam from time to time, and when he did it was a big deal for us. We'd sit in Sam's room for hours while Womp'm would hold court and play all these new 7"s that came out, like the Abused, Cause For Alarm, Urban Waste and Antidote. We'd spin the records and practice moshing around the bed and stagediving off the dresser.

Niels came with us to the Anthrax once to see Youth Brigade, and he was a fury on the dancefloor. He broke his nose during Youth Brigade's set, and I raced up to the bathroom to see if he was ok, only to watch in awe as he crunched his crooked nose straight again with his hands and ran back downstairs to continue moshing before the song was even over. The dude was hardcore.

So, back to the Young Republicans... with Sam in the band we ditched all our Circle Jerks and Dead Kennedys cover songs and started writing our own material. Before long we had enough songs for a demo, so we recorded in the this tiny studio in the back of a music store in Katonah. Some of the music from that demo actually became Youth of Today songs in later incarnations. Here's the breakdown...

First Show -- The Anthrax

1. High School Rednecks: The music later became "Straight Edge Revenge" note for note. This was the first song on the demo and one of our big "hits," at least with the Anthrax crowd. "High school rednecks with long hair, chewing tobacco and going nowhere." Laugh, but rednecks were a big problem for us back then and would constantly would try to kick our ass. They were worse than the jocks. If you're not from north of White Plains, you just won't understand.

2. Respect For Authority (None): This song basically became "Stabbed In the Back." The lyrics were your standard "Fuck all parents, teachers and bosses" fare.

3. Backyard Bomb: "Expectations" was a modified version of this song, but with slightly different picking. About nuclear war. Remember, it was the Reagan era; that was some scary shiz.

4. Tumor: The music never became anything YOT, although it was a pretty decent (and blatant) rip off of Black Flag's "Nervous Breakdown." It was about how everything you eat causes cancer, which was pretty ironic considering we ate at McDonalds every day.

5. We're Gonna Sabotage Your Cookout: This one also never graduated to the Can't Close My Eyes ep, but it was our genuine hit song nonetheless. It's basically a fantasy about a gang of punks turning up at a suburban backyard cookout and busting the whole thing up. It was sort of like our "Fight For Your Right To Party."

6. We Got the Beat: Yep, a punk version of the Go-Go's song. Another Anthrax fave. Moby would tear it up for this one.

There might have been other songs on the demo, but quite honestly I haven't heard the damn thing in about 2 decades so that's all that's left in the memory banks. I've actually been trying to track down a copy for years, but I fear that, like Atlantis, it may have become lost over time. If anyone manages to get their hands on one, let me know.

One last cool anecdote in the short but illustrious career of the Young Republicans... like I said, the entirety of John Jay High hated us and thought we sucked, which made us very suspicious when the official Drami band called (and I shit you not) Purple Forest challenged us to a battle of the bands. Of course we couldn't back down because you don't show fear to your enemies, but they were much better musicians than us and could play Talking Heads songs flawlessly. Everyone thought we were gonna get seriously chumped in front of the whole school. On a whim, we made flyers for the event, complete with directions to John Jay auditorium and brought them to the Anthrax one weekend. Quite honestly I didn't think any of the Anthrax crowd were going to show because Connecticut was kind of far from our school and most of the punks that hung out there were older (like 19, which seemed really freakin' old to us at the time).

Porcell at the John Jay Highschool Battle of the Bands

On the night of the battle, though, in an amazing display of scene unity, practically the whole entire Connecticut hardcore scene showed up to support us. Jeff Cud, one of the sound guys at the Anthrax, had this punk car called the Cudmobile that was covered with stickers and had a huge cow with the CTHC symbol spraypainted on the hood, and you can't imagine how psyched we were when we saw that thing pull into the John Jay parking lot, followed by about 6 other graffittied junk cars. Out stumbled about 2 dozen punks dressed in chains and leather. The New Haven crew were Exploited-type punks, and they were in rare form -- drunk, mohawked and completely obnoxious. They looked totally intimidating and we loved it.

The librarian who was taking tickets at the door was literally scared out of her mind when the Anthrax crew marched up to the door, and she refused to let them in. I personally complained to the principal, pulling the "discrimination" card since there were no restrictions over who was allowed to come to these kind of open events. The principal walked over and said, "What can we do, we have to let them in..."

We were psyched. The school was scared. Graham hit the opening bass line of "High School Rednecks" and the slamming started. It was bedlam. There wasn't any security whatsoever, just a few teachers who were plainly too freaked out to intervene. Mohawked bodies flew off the stage; everyone was grabbing the mic singing along. The rest of the school looked on wide-eyed as we went off. We managed to play all our songs plus a cover of "Wonderbread" by the Vatican Commandos with me on vocals, Cappo on drums, Fudd from No Milk On Tuesday on bass and the guitarist for the VC's on guitar. Then the gym teacher told us we had to stop because there were too many people onstage. Purple Forest had a tough act to follow.

Covering "Wonderbread" (Cappo on drums in the background)

From then on at school, people treated me with a strange kind of respect. Granted, they still thought I was a freakin' psychopath, but they all knew I had this whole exciting, creative life outside the scope of their tiny boring world. And it's been that way for me ever since - I've been on the outside and happy to be there.

I know this is kind of long, but I think I just needed to get this out of my system and tell all there is to tell about the semi-obscure Young Republicans and get it over with. To the 3 people out there who care, I salute you...


Random Related Fact: In the entire history of North Salem High School, the only students to get officially expelled were Wendy O'Williams of the Plasmatics, Sam Collins of the Young Republicans and Gavin Van Vlack of Burn.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Dancefloor Diaries

Memories provided by Release guitarist, Chris Zusi.
"I think we took 3 cars packed with equipment from South Jersey up to the show (in retrospect, I live about 50 min East on Rt 78 from Bethleham, why I drove 1.5 hours to South Jersey to drive 3 hours up to Wally's I'll never know). On the way up to the show, somewhere in Pennsylvania, Cap's 1982 Camaro just died - I think the transmission might have fallen out or something stupid like that. What could we do? We needed to get to the show so we piled all of the stuff/people from his car into the other cars and left his car for dead on the side of the road."

"Wally's was a cool place, I think I went there 3 or 4 times. Wally's and Oliver J's were the two Pennsylvania venues that had shows on par with CB's, City Gardens, and the Anthrax, so it was a cool alternative. I don't ever remember there being any drama at Wally's. I remember some (skinhead) sketchiness at Oliver J's, but never Walley's."

"I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure Turning Point jumped on the show and played 4-5 songs. Release opened the show and the NY bands were late, so to kill time TP played some songs using our equipment - they played as a 4 piece, I think Nick wasn't there so Jay played bass."

"This was right around the time that the Turning Point demo came out. I remember they were excited that the demo was out and gave us copies. We got along great with those guys and ended up playing quite a few shows together over the years."

"The flyer was drawn by Cris Cap, the drummer for Release. Cap was always drawing cartoon crowd scenes, hooded SxE dudes, dudes with POS tops. He was a great artist (he's actually a tattooist now). Cap also drew the hooded figures on the Release shirts, don't think he did any other artwork for bands."

Thursday, December 15, 2005


Okay, after an entire week I have received exactly two crank calls for the most recent contest. One was a mildly amusing tale of mental midgetry, and the other call was a dude who forgot what he was going to say because my phone rang too many times. So, due to a lack of contestants, I'm bagging the crank call contest and announcing a new contest.

Since we are rapidly approaching holidays, I thought it might be nice to have some Seasons Greetings cards to hang on the ol' BBHC "online mantle." For this new contest, I am asking that participants look online and find some holiday e-cards. Send your e-card to me at with an original, heartfelt personalized message of holiday cheer/nastiness/humbugery/potshots like this one. Any contestant sending a card worthy of going onto the mantle (I will post it on the site) will get to choose one gift from Santa's sack. Please include your real email address so I know how to contact the winners.

The contents of the bag:

*Blue Monday "Rewritten" LP -- purple
*Internal Affairs s/t LP -- green vinyl
*Set To Explode s/t CD
*86 Mentality s/t CD
*Hardware Fanzine "Complete Collection" CD
*Right On "No Joke" EP -- Pink vinyl, pink cover

Contest Ends December 24, 2005 at 11:59 p.m.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

X Tamborine Free X

I was at the gym this morning, hanging out on the eliptical machine for my daily dose of cardio-torture. I forgot to bring some music with me, making the situation worse as I flipped through the channels between morning shows, sports "Top 10 List" shows, basketball highlights, and local news. Lame. There's nothing worse than cardio when you're bored.

Then finally, mericifully, the Washington Sports Club video channel decided to switch from the hip hop crap they always have on to The Cult's "Firewoman." Sweet. This would entertain me for at least 3 minutes, or roughly 10% of the time I was planning to spend on the machine.

I was watching the video, rocking out, thinking "yes, this is indeed what Uniform Choice was aiming for, down to the tassels hanging off of that dude's leather jacket" when suddenly I saw a quick shot of the singer rocking a tamborine. A tamborine! So, I start to listen to the music more closely to see if my untrained ear could pick up the faintest sound of a tamborine anywhere in the music, and I just wasn't hearing it. It looked like the use of the tamborine was just for show, which I hate.

Don't get me wrong. I can identify. There are times when, as a singer, you need something to do while the rest of the band is busy bringing the mosh. As a singer, whenever you hit a stretch where there's no lyrics, you suddenly become uncomfortably aware that everybody else on stage is doing something, and you are no longer pulling your own weight. It's the worst feeling.

Do I jump around? Play the air guitar? High five the crowd? Fuck! If I was GG Allin, I would've just pulled my pants down and stuck the microphone up my ass, but that would've hardly been "posi," and it would've just killed the whole sing-a-long vibe from there on out.

For the record, when I wrote a bunch of the Rain on the Parade songs, I tried very hard to exclude mosh parts for that very reason. On the few moments where I wasn't shooting off my mouth, I'd either spit, or go for a drink of water. I've never been the guy who dives into the crowd or jumps into the pit. It has never been my style, and just between you and me, I always sucked at both anyway.

But back to tamborines. I got to thinking about it, and I'm pretty certain that in 26 years of existence, hardcore music has been relatively tamborine-free. I can think of one example of a tamborine on a hardcore record, and that would be "Don't Got To Prove It" by Civ on the Set Your Goals LP, and even then, with the lack of anything other than a guitar and Civ's voice, a tamborine makes sense. It adds a layer.

My problem with tamborines, as well as things like bongos, mainly stems from cover bands that I've seen over the years I suppose. Whenever I'd see a cover band that had a tamborine player or a bongo player, it was always obvious that, despite the fact that these dudes couldn't play a lick, they wanted to be considered "musicians" anyway. These are people that desperately want to be able to say, "I'm in a band," which makes me want to scream "poser!" from the peanut gallery. My wife and I have actually gotten in arguments about this, believe it or not. She thinks they add to the experience, and I disagree, vehemently at times.

"What? Hardcore bands don't have tamborine players, or the equivelent?" she asked me once.

"No tamborine players. Hardcore has stage potatoes and Gus Straight Edge, but there's a difference" I told her.

She didn't understand. Whenever I discuss anything remotely hardcore, my wife just kind of glazes over and changes the subject abruptly. But she kind of did have a point. Even hardcore has that tamborine element to it, without the tamborine, of course. I mean, why the hell do I know who Gus Straight Edge is, anyway? He was on the cover of The Way It Is, but he wasn't in any of the bands, right? And come to think of it, when I look at that famous cover photo, both of Mr. Straight Edge's hands are obscured by band and crowd. There could be a tamborine in either of them. But I digress.

I am so thankful that over the past 26 years, hardcore has remained a form music that has kept things barebones. Strings, skins, and guts. Nothing else, with the exception of the occasional harmonica ("Start Today" by Gorilla Biscuits) and piano ("Scared" by Verbal Assault), which were both done masterfully.

I may not be xpoison-freex, but I will always strive to be xtamborine-freex, which is really more important when you think about it.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Hardcore Art Gallery: The Cramps "Bad Music For Bad People" LP

Commentary by: Jason Powell

They say hindsight is 20/20, and that isn't any overstatement when it comes to reconciling expressions of individuality that clash with contemporary values. One of the greatest myths of the avant-garde is that they are the heralds of the future, the enlightenment, when often, nothing is further from the truth. Instead, the mainstream often attempts to rewrite history to assimilate what they had previously ignored into the narrative, as if they had been "down" with everything all along, when in reality, they usually were the ones placing these things in the "lower" categories.

Hardcore punk in the early 80's was usually maligned and regarded as a talentless and meatheaded bunch of clowns, but of course, now virtually every mainstream music critic references bands like Black Flag or people like Ian Mackaye in the same way self important people drop names of celebrities to try and prove their hipsterness. And in a similar way, the art world has also rejected work they considered too lowbrow to be considered worthy of recognition. One of the harshest labels that used to be attached to an artist was "illustration" or "graphic" or "comic."

To some extent that view is still very common, but in recent years the art world has lavished a lot of praise for comics, or what they call graphic novels, and similarly, artwork that would have been classified as commercial art is now also widely recognized as critically and aesthetically valid. As if to prove the point, the latest copy of ARTnews magazine features comic-book artists on the cover, highlighting an exhibit at the MOCA in Los Angeles called "Masters of American Comics."

Of course, in the same way as comic fans hardly care if the art can be seen in a museum, punks seldom cared if the establishment paid any attention to their culture. In the 80's, there may not have been too many people praising Stephen Blickenstaff's artwork, but their failure to recognize one of the coolest album covers is their loss. It has such a great graphic impact - well balanced positive and negative space combined with bold gestures of line and form as well as excellent use of contrast.

First of all, the drawing makes great use of weight and texture. The outlining shapes are emphasized by the way the cross hatching and shading don't push right up to the edge, allowing the line to stand out from the background, but you will notice it merges right into the thicker black lines of the hair, which gives the shapes body and definition. Neither does the cross-hatching use the same montonous direction, but the lines split and break up into different directions to spread out and fill the area in a way that sculpts the space into form. The use of the yellow background adds dynamic punch. A color like blue or red at full intensity wouldnt reflect enough light to highlight the relationship of light and dark in the artwork, but even at full saturation, yellow works. Not only that, but the minimal color even allows a peek of white in the teeth and eyes, so that even though there are only two inks used, yellow and black, you get three "colors." Even though this wasnt a diy release, it just goes to show how you can get extremely effective results by being creative with limited resources.

On that note, some may wonder why I chose to look at this cover instead of a more typically hardcore release. After all, the Cramps would be hard to place in the "hardcore" category these days. But the thing is, this wasn't some poppy New Wave band either. There used to be a score of bands that couldn't easily be categorized, that were all lumped in with the vague "underground" culture of the 80's, so it might not fit in with Judge, or Negative Approach, but I think it definitely could fit in with bands like X or the Minutemen or even possibly bands like the Dead Kennedy's or the Misfits. And, not to mention, it was at a Cramps show that could be said to have set in motion what came to be harDCore in Washigton DC.

But ultimately, this record seemed just as anti to me as hardcore was, it practically says "dont buy me" on the cover, only a weirdo, only a creep, could like this music. Which is of course exactly why I knew I had to get it, just based on the cover alone.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Reading Between the Lines by Brian Murphy

This is the first installment of Reading Between the Lines. The plan is to make this a weekly or biweekly post where the focus is a discussion with artists and a slab of their wax. The discussion will be centered on the piece of wax, literally. We'll be talking about those tiny scratchings stuck in between your favorite music and a brilliantly colored paper label. You've seen the marks; a sentence fragment, a short phrase. And if you are like me, you've said to yourself, "what the hell does that mean?" Then you flip over the b-side and make the same remark again, except this time, the puzzlement is doubled. Expect this column to dispel your worry and maybe even clear up a rumor or two.

Now, you can expect very little commentary from me -- feel free to breathe a sigh of relief now. However, to start it off, I'll give you a brief rundown of my hardcore history. And when I say brief, I mean brief. Unlike some of the columnists, I haven't been around for 20+ years. Hell, I've barely been around for 10+ years. It all started back in the early 90s. My older brother and I got into the core. But we lived in Maine, so times were tough. I moved to Worcester, Mass for college in 1997, met some awesome dudes and really started to understand what hardcore was all about. There's a huge difference between listening to the Minor Threat discography in your bedroom in Maine and watching Ten Yard Fight whip 600 kids into a frenzy at the First and Second Church. Later, I joined up with a couple of dudes (shout outs to Casali and Jim C.) and formed the website I was never in a band. I never published a paper zine. I didn't have a distro. I never made patches. Hell, I wasn't even a good stage diver. Fortunately and unfortunately, I'm still not a good stage diver. That's it. That's all you need to hear about me. Now let's get to those etchings.

For the inaugural run, I decided to first run the question by Todd Jones. You'll recall Todd Jones. He's played in every mid 90s, early 2k band that was seriously worth jocking. Carry On, Terror. Now he's in Snake Eyes, Betrayed, Internal Affairs, ... I'm sure there are more too. He's always got a project lurking behind one corner or another. We began with his newest release, Betrayed - Addiction on Bridge 9 records.

Side A - "Sean O Leary has BETRAIDS"

Side B says "the T n A Sessions."

On the surface, pretty unintelligible. BETRAIDS?!?! T n A?!?! Did they have strippers hooking up lap dances in between tracks or what? Who's spreading venereal diseases? Todd clears it up quickly.

Todd - Sean O Leary posted on my myspace comments saying "I've got BetrAIDS" and I thought it was the funniest shit ever.

Todd - "The T n A sessions" just means the "Todd and Aram sessions". Cuz that's basically what it is.

Ok, simple enough. Next, we dove into Carry On's release on Teamwork Records, Roll With the Punches EP. This one was a little more personal to the band.

Side A "Don't blame me..."

Side B "I live in a metal scene"

A metal scene? In Southern California during the late 90s? The EP labels and Todd clear up the rest.

Todd - The a side label says "fuck," where the b side label says "California" cuz California didn't give a shit about us. All our support came from the East Coast, it seemed. California was all metal with Throwdown/Adamantium. Hardcore shows were like 50 people deep.

Todd had such good things to say, I decided to run the question by Chris Corry, as well. Everyone knows Chris Corry. You hated him in the late 90s Rev. days. You loved him in the 2000s LWR days. Plus, like Todd, he can also wield the axe. His resume is pretty decent; Stop And Think, Righteous Jams, Mind Eraser, Soul Swallower, ... Here's what he had to say in regards to the latest release he played on, the Soul Swallower S/T EP, which was released on Bob Shedd's new label, Collapse Records.

Side A "Straight"

Side B "Edge"

CC - Self explanatory. We tried to be pretty blatant about it because we dont really fit the sxe hc mold.

Makes sense to me. A talented group of edgemen with a very non "youth crew" sound who don't want you to be confused. That's very considerate of them.

Next, we talked about the Mind Eraser "Cave" LP on Painkiller Records. This matrix is a bit more obscure with more lore.

Side A: They'll tell you black is really white

Side B: The moon is just the sun at night

CC - Those are two lines from the climax of the Black Sabbath song Heaven and Hell which is from their first record with Ronnie James Dio. Around the time that we were writing the music and recording it Justin and I got really obsessed with that era of the band and that record in particular. We had this show up in montreal, and we drove up with Think I Care and RNR. When Eric Yu was in the band, Justin and I kept making him play this cassette of it over and over. At around 2 AM, somone was like "Eric you doin okay up there?" to see if he was like falling asleep, and he just goes "no, I can't take this music anymore". He thought it was like some cruel joke, but really I think that's the best power metal record ever. Iommi does Priest. I think the vibe of the song is kind of similar to our album too, so we wanted to include something from it in the matrix. Side note: Justin and I met Ronnie James 2 Octobers ago at the Palladium. One of the best shows I've ever been to, and I'm not being some asshole who's like into it ironically.

Now that's a good story.

So there you have it. Stories told. Mysteries explained. Confused senses cleared up. I hope you enjoyed. Now, if you have a piece of wax with matrix wording that you could never understand, hit me up. Maybe I can track down that answer for you. Peace.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005


I want you to reach out and touch me. Good touch, bad touch...doesn't matter. Just make it funny or interesting. Call me at 703.505.4149, anytime -- day, night, in the middle of REM sleep -- and leave me a message. Winning voicemails will be transcribed and posted to BBHC for all to see.

Winners will get to choose one record from the prize closet. Currently records available for the taking:

*Blue Monday "Rewritten" LP -- purple
*Internal Affairs s/t LP -- black with bside etching
*Set To Explode s/t CD
*86 Mentality s/t CD
*Hardware Fanzine "Complete Collection" CD

After leaving your message, please send an email to me at so I know how to contact you in the event that you win. Also, please be sure to tell me a detail or two about your call so that I can verify the winner. Contest ends 12:01 a.m. January 1, 2006, or whenever the prizes run out -- whichever comes first.

New Barebones Hardcore logo

Check out the new Barebones Hardcore logo, generously donated by Giancarlo DiMarchi. If none of you are familiar with Gian's work, it's great. Be sure to check out his blog.

Thnx Gian!

Monday, December 05, 2005

Little Things


Sorry to bug you with this, but it's had me wondering for a few days...

I was listening to the song Salad Days the other day. I have heard this song at least a thousand times over the past 17 years, and for the first time the other day, I noticed that in a portion of the song toward the middle, it sounds like Lyle is playing his guitar into a mic w/out it being plugged into an amp. Was this done on purpose? Who thought of that, and how did it come to be on the record?

Little insignificant thing, I know, but I'm totally curious...



I believe that Lyle overdubbed an acoustic guitar on 'Salad Days', which I think is what you are hearing. I have recorded electric guitar with a mic (and no amp) at some point, but I can't remember what song it was. I don't think it was particularly striking in the end result, but the texture was nice.

Take care,