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YOUNGSTOWN HATES YOU: AN INTERVIEW WITH JUSTIN ARROYO

INTERVIEW BY MATT GREENFIELD

What part of Youngstown are you from?

I grew up on the south side of Youngstown. 29 East Boston Avenue. That’s between Market and Southern Boulevard.

When did you first start going to area shows?

I was fourteen or fifteen. My dad used to take me and my friend Mike to shows at C&R’s Saloon in the uptown. I started going to VFW and Colonial Lanes shows around the same time.

What year was that?

1988-1989.

What local bands were playing around that time. Sister Ray?

They were. Also The February’s, Puppet Face, Scarlet Picnic, Boogie Man Smash, The Deli Bandits. Those two may have actually been a little later. Sacred Hate and also The Gutter Snipes to name a few more.

The Gutter Snipes were a punk band, right ? I haven’t been able to find any recorded material by them.

Yeah. Sarge from November Loop was in it. I think I may have a cassette tape somewhere.

That’s a pretty cool relic. What were the punk shows like in Youngstown back then? Sacred Hate is such an incredible and overlooked band.

They were pretty crazy. I was a kid that was scared shitless and super excited at the same time. Sacred Hate is still a favorite. My parents had a friend that was in college with the drummer Bryn at the time. He bought me their album and a t-shirt. I was already listening to punk and hardcore. But these guys were from my town and seemed larger than life. I was lucky enough to become friends with most of the guys when I was in my early 20’s.

From what I can gather , they are the only hardcore and possibly punk band from Youngstown to ever release a full length vinyl.

Yeah man. I think you’re right.

Isn’t that a shame? The Youngstown scene is so under documented.

For sure. I don’t get it. There’s a great history here. I don’t remember a lot of things due to doing things that kids do. You know? Gary Angelo know everything [laughs].

Yeah, Gary is a wealth of Youngstown knowledge. Maybe I should interview him next! So, anyways, when did you start participating in the scene on a musical level?

1989-1990. My first band was the Krispy Kritters. We played Rock and Bowl, house shows, shit like that. When I was 16 (1991), I started playing in bars.

Berea Roll and Bowl?

Colonial Lanes in Canfield. It was the only place that had all ages shows where you didn’t have to rent the venue.

What kind of music was Krispy Kritters?

Metal/Punk. Mostly Misfits, Metallica, Anthrax, shit like that. Early speed metal and punk. We were okay. We did a punk version of “Feel Like Making Love” [laughs].

That’s great. What other punk and metal bands existed in Youngstown around that time that people may have forgotten about?

There were a lot at the time, but none of them ever lasted long so it’s hard to remember. Foul Play comes to mind. They were from Boardman. The bass player Tom was in the Chaperones with Denny Mac. There were also a shit ton of horrible hair metal wannabe bands. This is right before Nirvana dropped the bomb on that shit.

Youngstown hair metal, that’s a far cry from the Sunset Strip [laughs].

No doubt. It was fucking silly. JB’s Lounge on Glenwood had a ton of that shit.

Did you see GG Allin at the Penguin Pub?

I was at the show but didn’t see much. I was too afraid to get close. It was over as quick as it started.

What other touring acts played Youngstown in the early 90s?

Clutch and Kyuss played the Gargoyle in Warren. I saw Warlock at C&R’s Saloon. I also saw Jello Biafra speak at YSU

Did the musical landscape of the city change by the mid 90s?

For sure. Everyone seemed to get serious and all the shitty metal died.

What bands were thriving around that time?

Coinmonster was and still is everything to me. The Infidels. I was in a band called Raul. We weren’t punk but did everything with punk rock ethics. Sky King, Moons Over Meepzorp. They were a weird Zappa-ish kind of band.

Did you go to any of the Crowd Deterrent type hardcore shows in the late 90s? My first local show was at some American Legions type place way out in East Palestine.

I worked at the Nyabinghi at that time. I saw them there a few times. Steve put together some good shows there. I only went to one Hooligan basement show. 25 Ta Life or Comin’ Correct. Can’t remember which one.

I didn’t realize you worked at Nyabinghi. I saw some great shows there. What are your memories from that place?

Yeah, I was part of the original crew. The memories are cloudy [laughs] but all of the national acts that rolled through were amazing. I smoked weed with Bernie Worrel in the bathroom. He was hiding from his wife. High on Fire was amazing. The whole Emissions things were great. Futility Fest was sweet too. Rev Horton Heat and Jimbo were cool as hell. So many cool things went on in that bar.

Do you think the Youngstown scene was left with a void after Nyabinghi closed?

Absolutely. It never recovered.

How would you describe things after the venues demise?

Well, there’s always been a more whacky, more underground alternative at Cedars. That aside Greg (owner of Nyabinghi) was a genius that was willing to take chances. When he opened he had shows seven days a week. That lasted for a while. Not that Cedars is bad. It’s legendary for sure, just a little more mainstream.

To move forward a bit, when did you start Youngstown Hates You and what was the concept behind it? I first saw one of the shirts when my friend Keith was wearing one at Cleveland’s Horrible Fest a few years back. My mind was blown.

2012-2013. I had been thinking about it for a while before but couldn’t find the right name. Youngstown’s Not Dead was the first working title. That was too easy. Then I saw my friend Jay Brundege wearing an Ohio Hates You hat that he made. I asked if it was cool to use it. Youngstown Hates You was born. I was so tired of everyone talking so much shit about Youngstown. Well fuck you, Youngstown don’t like you either. I’ve always felt it was a great place for an artist to live. You can survive on almost nothing and you’re six hours for New York, Chicago, Boston, Philly, Detroit. Plus the Cleveland and Pittsburgh are close. What more could you need?

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That’s great. It seems like the slogan picked up some interest pretty quickly.

No doubt. Some people love it. Some people hate it.

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What would you like to accomplish with the brand?

I’m not really sure. It kinda took off, and I’m just holding on right now. When I first started it was about me having a chip on my shoulder. Now it means different things to different people. That’s cool with me. Just give me your money [laughs]! Just kidding. I just want people to be as proud of Youngstown as I am. There’s a lot of history here. Good or bad, I celebrate both.

Absolutely. I have a love/hate relationship with the city myself. Very proud of where I come from though. How would you describe Youngstown to someone that has never visited?

If you’re not from here don’t come here [laughs]. It’s an old steel town with a beautiful park. Youngstown is ugly and beautiful. Even though I love it I’m not sure why you would visit other than being a band rolling through.

Yeah, it makes no sense to visit [laughs]. I swear though, they could have a tourist industry just based around the pizza and Italian food, no bullshit.

No doubt. No better in the world. Friends of mine in New York bands know what’s up. Every time I played New York, I complained that their pizza was shit. My friends got pissed. Then they came here and the found out the truth. I always take them to the Avalon.

People laugh when I tell them Youngstown has the best pizza. It actually gets frustrating. What other little secrets do you think Youngstown has that outsiders don’t know about?

Great neighborhood bars. Some really amazing skates and BMXers come from here which is kinda weird. The mob history, the museums, and of course I’m here. Come see me. I’ll either give you a hug and a kiss or a black eye! You never know.

Anything else you would like to say before we wrap up?

I would like to give you props for showcasing the Rust Belt. Also start a band, paint something, make a sculpture, be an artist, read a book, make people think, and let your life proceed by its own design. That sounds kinda like a hippie. Oh well.

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AND DON’T FORGET, YOUNGSTOWN REALLY DOES HATE YOU!

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