First off, what are the bands you have played in?
If I can even remember all of them, it’d go: Puncture Wound, Gordon Solie Motherfuckers, Midnight, Bomb Builder, Nunslaughter, Flying Trichecos, Annihilation Time (Cali), Knife Fight (Cali), Possessor (Cali). I did some fill in stuff for dudes like 9 Shocks Terror, Nekrofilth, Brainwashed Youth, and recently with my buddies from Chicago called Udusic. There’s more, but it’s either not really worth mentioning or I can’t think of them because I’m stoned.
How did you end up joining Gordon Solie Motherfuckers? What are the chances of another reunion show? Did you have fun during the last one at Chaos in Tejas?
GSMF started at some party we were all at ’98 that was pretty nutty. We were all being our usual bad kid selves. Erba and I tossed some metal plant holder thing over this balcony and hit a car, so this dude threatened us with a baseball bat, and all this other stuff went down, like Paul from the Inmates smashing a mannequin through a window, but in between all of that, Tony was talking about how he wanted to sing in a band again. I said I’d do it, Mike Jochum and Wedge volunteered and we had a band. Originally it was going to be called “Gordon Solie’s Kommandos”, “Ian Mackaye Motherfuckers”, or something like that. Jimmy Rose told me that he took the dip when he was asked to play and told them to just let me play since I was more of a Face Value fan, ha! A week later we had practice, wrote 3 tunes, and recorded the ep about a month or two later.
I’m not really into the reunion shit. I wanna move forward and concentrate on new stuff. The last time we did it was because our buddy Jer died, and it was to help out his family. That stuff makes the most sense to me. But like they say: Cleveland bands don’t break up, they just get older and fatter. Maybe some day again, but I know the majority of us aren’t very interested.
The Chaos thing was cool because it was a free trip to Texas, and we never got that far out of Ohio to play. Our buddy, Dan Moore, that put out the first ep, worked at Emo’s down there, and told the staff beforehand, “look, kids are going to go insane and destroy the place, but just let it happen…”, and they just sat back while everyone went bonkers. Dan knew it’d get really ugly quick if the bouncers started grabbing people. I grew really tired of the whole trashing and fireworks stuff early on, but this one was really sloppy and awesome. It looked like a garbage man’s union was having a holiday party. The only band that would loan us gear made us cover the amps in garbage bags.. I was standing outside while everyone was filing out, and thought that it looked like skid row. Everyone was so filthy and covered in garbage with their clothes ripped up. I hated toward the end of the band how the shows ended up looking like a fucking birthday party with happy kids shooting silly string and confetti everywhere, but Chaos In Tejas was a greasy, dirty, bloody shit show.
How long did you play with Midnight? Did you ever expect the level of success that they (he) have achieved?
I played with Midnight from 2001 to 2008, minus the years I was in Cali. Originally, it was just going to be one time thing for Halloween, and we did two shows in one night. A few years later when I moved back to Cleveland from California, Jamie asked me at a show if I wanted to do Midnight as a band again, and I was down. He had been touring around doing it as a one man band thing. Did the band version again for a few years then dipped out. That band was really fun. They pretty much blew up right after I quit. It’s pretty mind blowing, because it was never meant to be a real thing, and Jamie didn’t really take it all too seriously for a long time. I think when he started to get some loot rolling in from doing this, he changed his mind. He was always talking about how this show coming up was going to be the last, so Bob and I would be like, “ok, cool.” I think it’s great that so many folks are into them now because metal is way bigger now than it was a decade ago, and they’re riding on that wave. Midnight’s a fun band, so it’s hard not to like them, and Jamie deserves to be where he’s at. I bet those new guys in the band just shit their pants when one of the first things they do in Midnight is fly out to play in Dubai!!
What are your favorite memories of playing with Annihilation Time?
Man, AT is a fuckin’ wealth of great memories. The first that pops to mind is the time this all-female roller derby league in the Bay Area asked us to play one of their events.. They promised us all this shit like free beer and whatnot, but when we showed up, they were so disorganized and bent out of shape over everything that they completely fucked us off and treated us like shit. We say, “fuck this”, and proceed to get loaded and rowdy. We were getting angry that these derby girls weren’t more violent, so Marcus (Puncture Wound) throws a bottle into the rink at them! These goons throw him out, and Jimmy Rose pulled the “ol’ switch-a-roo”, where they swapped clothes and Marcus snuck back in. The very next thing he does is get a hold of the PA mic and yell, “You cunts look like a bunch of FAGS!!! FUCK YOU!!”, and bolts away with the same goons in tow again. We play, and got about 2 and a half songs in before they pulled the plug. I mean, there were a couple thousand people there, and a few of us got the whole thing shut down! Jimmy got into a fight with a guy right off the bat, stepped on my tuner, and I just let off this donkey kick behind me. I caught the guy Jimmy was fighting in the ass,while he was on all fours trying to get up, and he looked like a frog leaping off the side of the stage. The whole thing was like a cartoon! We had a good laugh and split right away. These girls wanted our blood because the venue told them they could never do anything there again, and it basically put a close to their whole league. The booker said we beat up her brother in the parking lot with a crowbar, we stole the PA, etc, etc. These broads were seriously trying to take us on to some Court TV show with this shit! I found that out years later. We thought it was the funniest shit ever, and nothing ever came out of it. There were quite a few memorable AT shows. We did a show in St. Louis once where there were dirty footprints on the 15 ft. ceiling after we were done, ha!
What bands have you been listening to recently? Any new Cleveland stuff people should be checking for?
Dude, I pretty much listen to the same old stuff that I ever have. I get packages from friends in the mail and check out new stuff often, but I still just go and spin all my old faves if I plop my ass in front of the stereo. I dig this new Obsessor lp and this Gas Rag ep I got was awesome. I can’t afford to buy new records anymore just to check them out, so I see shows and rely on people to send me stuff, ha! As for Cleveland stuff, there’s some great shit going on. I dig this new band called Prison Moan, and Cruelster are really good. Hep Z is a great joke Metal band, but they’ll tell ya they’re the real deal. This band Hysteria play really good crusty stuff, and Erba’s always out there with FYPM doing zany shit. Party Plates is killer. The good thing going on is that almost every band has a different sound, but are all ethically on the same page. There aren’t a dozen bands all copping the same style, like in some cities. It makes for more interesting lineups at shows.
Cleveland has a wild reputation. What is the biggest misconception about DIY Cleveland punk?
Oh, yeah….the misconceptions have always been interesting. I get really pissed when I see shit about how Cleveland kids are racist. I remember several times when Nazi kids would show up at a DIY show and get beaten or even stabbed. I’ve seen stuff on the ‘net about how big of fucking racist homophobic assholes the Inmates are. Of course, some idiot punk kid is going to hear grapevine stories, hear a song like “Filthy Human Breeding Machine”, and assume we’re assholes if they’re a PC-type. Punker kids tend to judge everything at face value, especially MRR types. They have no idea who they’re talking about. I grew up going to East Cleveland public schools where I was one of the only white kids and dealt with racism often, like people on the street throwing bricks through the “white kid” school bus while rolling down Union Ave. on the way home in 4th grade. I don’t need a punk rock kid telling what racism is. I get the stigma that OLC put on this town, and the few goobers that ran with that hype, but none of our bands were ever a part of their scene. These people can over analyze and dissect absolutely anything into what they want it to be because their mind is already made up. It just so happens that this thinking makes Cleveland kids racists to some of the more politically minded folks out there. They’re like the punk rock PMRC. It’s so much easier to attack other people that go to shows than a real threat out in the world that will just wipe you out, and the internet makes it easy and anonymous. The other misconception is that kid’s will believe any insane story they hear, because we’re all complete maniacs to them. They come up with stories like how I murdered a girl and threw her out a window in the Czech Republic. Someone once asked me about Erba throwing hammers around at a GSMF show, like he’s Super Mario or something… I can’t take it seriously. I think most of the stereotypes and misconceptions are based on these stories that are exaggerated or made up. I hear so much ridiculous shit from people, but some have a grain of truth to them.
What city do you think has a weirdo punk scene that parallels Cleveland? What do you think about Pittsburgh or Chicago punk? They seem to be the two closest cities with good bands.
They seem to be the two closest cities with good scenes.
I’ve seen some weirdo scenes, but I’ve never been anywhere that has the amount of characters that Cleveland does. Everyone’s a really crazy, fucked up personality of their own. I’m sure anyone, anywhere, can say that about their own town, but I guess Cleveland has it’s reputation for a reason. You should ask someone from another city that question, ha!
I like Pittsburgh and Chicago… We all have a lot of really good friends in those places and play them often. There was a wall between Cleveland and Pittsburgh (or Pitts-puke, as I call it) until Jimmy Rose moved there 11 years ago. They always had a fun scene and great kids. The bands are usually pretty formulated crusty stuff that aren’t amazing, but cool kids. Short Dark Strangers were really unique (R.I.P. Bobby) and I think it’s a shame that Caustic Christ never captured how heavy they were live on record. Killer of Sheep always rules, and EEL are great live! Jimmy nailed it with that band. GSMF did some awesome shows in Chicago until we got that fest shut down in 2000. It was a pretty nerdy scene where everyone was really happy and would listen politely to everything bands had to say really somberly into the mic, and that was weird to me. I was used to people yelling, “Shut the fuck up and play you fuckin’ geek!!” Most kids were really cool, but you always had those holier than thou types that were fishing for a reason to get angry at bands. GSMF got a pass, I’m sure, because everyone knew Erba and Wedge were friends with Martin from Los Crudos. Tony could say whatever he wanted, and it was all good in low-brow humor fun, which is how he meant whatever he said, but he was certainly pushing the envelope with them. Others would get crucified for making some of the jokes he made onstage, but they’d chuckle knowing he was okay. AT couldn’t play there because some of the PC punks and the FSU were going to beat up these stony, long haired rocker guys they deemed Nazis. So, we didn’t even want to bother with the bullshit. They went back there and played a “secret show” after a couple years without me, and someone threw a brick though their van window. I’ve always dug the bands we’d play with like Punch in the Face, Manipulation and Violent End, but I think we only see a bit of what they have going on because I hear their scene is really segregated. It’s all alive and well, but there’s a lot of in-fighting going on there, from what I hear. I like that town, otherwise. Columbus used to have some decent stuff going on, but it’s pretty much a bust for us now. There really isn’t much going on anywhere else close by.
Tell the readers about Wetbrain. Can we expect a tour or some out of town spot dates?
Wetbrain is Wedge, Shelton, and I (GSMF rhythm section) with Larry from the Darvocets singing. I write all the tunes, and try to do stuff like the classics that I love. I wanted to get away from the more silly stuff that was going on a few years ago and bust out some songs that are more thought out. Like the “Out of Step” or “Vicious Circle” lp’s being templates I had in mind with that idea, and the other guys were into it. Nothing new, just my attempt at doing something classic sounding. I’ve been happy with all the feedback we got from the lp. People are telling me exactly what I was hoping to hear, so I’m proud of that record. It’s pretty much impossible for us to do a real tour. Larry owns a business and has a family. Wedge’s health isn’t the best, and we’re all too broke to fund anything major. Usually a couple times a year we make a 4 day weekend to go out of town and play.
What was your favorite era of Cleveland punk/hardcore? Favorite Cleveland band? Least favorite?
Of course, I’m going to be biased and say my favorite was when it was all fresh and new to me. It really kicked in again around early 98, and I was in the middle of an upheaval of awesome times. It was a really great time. Shit was boring before that, because the city was besieged with nothing but ’77 style bands that all did Pagans covers. 9 Shocks were slumming it around town as the only real HC band, then Puncture Wound started and we brought all the younger juvenile delinquent Parma kids with us. Then guys like Paul and Larry started moving back to town, resulting in the Inmates and Darvocets playing again. The shows got bigger and wilder right around then, and it all took off from there. Touring bands like Dropdead, Raw Power, Devoid of Faith and Code 13 started to come to town more often because there was actually a happening scene going on now.
I’d say my favorite band was 9 Shocks Terror, because they pretty much were the band all of that revolved around. They were the kings. They were really important to me, because they let me be involved. I was hopping into the van with them when I was 17 and learning the ropes. I would disappear from my house for days, and come back to my Aunt yelling at me, demanding to know where I’ve been. They seriously were a monster at the time. I’d play guitar at their practices when Kev wasn’t showing up, and even played drums with them for a couple spot shows and a Euro tour. I can’t say I did anything remarkable except get through the set without passing out. They were never the same without Wedge, and had to make due with someone around. They really meant a lot to me, and it was great being somewhat of an extra member that was always there. They recorded some stuff I wrote on the last ep they did.
Least favorite?! Foose has to be one of the most awful things I’ve ever heard. I think they made music videos for every song they ever recorded, and I watched it all on Youtube in pure shock at how straight up retarded all of it was. Then you have too many bands to list that make friends with the people that can do things for them. They’re socially motivated, and the music shows it, because it’s the most uninspired shit ever, but they are the ones you see in the Scene getting hyped because they’ve found their way into that circle. “Music journalists” here and Scene magazine are more like public relations reps for their friends, or whoever gives them money. There are a lot of bands that have climbed that ladder, and I consider all of them the worst, because they’re all devoid of any spirit, character and good songs. They’re all just opportunists swimming around in their comfort zone. There was this band called Above This Fire that was “voted” best HC band in Cleveland (which I think Foose was even nominated for, once) two years in a row in the scene, and I had never even heard of these guys until I worked with one of them. Our friend, Alex, wrote a really funny-angry letter to Scene about them and they ran it. The member I worked with saw it and made a joke to me about it, like, “Why are your friends talking shit?!”, and I told him the letter was right, so he flipped his wig. He told me that people voted for them, and I explained to him that nobody voted for anything, and they won because his band members and close friends worked with the magazine. He didn’t like that, but it was true. But hey…the proof’s in the pudding! I’ve gone all over the U.S. and internationally with multiple bands, and we still can’t really get shows outside of Now That’s Class at home, so why care? There’s people listening that we didn’t have to schmooze for opportunities, so that’s satisfying to know. I lump all of these bands into the “least favorite” waste basket collectively. I respect the kids that ignore this social hierarchy, see the bullshit of it, and still make things happen for themselves, no matter what music they play. There’s guys I know that have really active indie rock and pop punk bands that feel the same way and do well.
Are there any new musical directions you want explore?
Yeah….quitting this shit and just playing harmonica on my couch!! I’m too pissed, misanthropic, and depressed to end up doing things like Walter Schreifels or any other aging HC guy mellowing out does. Maybe I’ll start a band that sounds like Sugar or better yet, Hazen Street?! I don’t know what else I’d do with my life but play loud, pissed off shit that passes for music. I’m stuck. I have no interest in “maturing”. I still listen to everything I did when I was a kid, and still want to make that kind of music as a 50 year old. I can’t shake it. I honestly just don’t know how to do anything else. Same goes for most involved. We’re all cases of arrested development.
INTERVIEW BY MATT GREENFIELD. FOLLOW US WWW.FACEBOOK.COM/RUSTBELTHAMMER