Now What: H.R. & Dr. Know Interview

by David Byers, Sarah Woodell & Tom Bizarre. October 25, 1981.

This interview was conducted after the Bad Brains triumphant first set at the 9:30 Club. Basically we wanted to catch up with the much-missed Bad Brains and find out what they thought and how they felt about how they’ve changed and how the music scene around them has changed.

Sarah: Last time you were here you did half your old hardcore stuff & your reggae stuff, what made you decide to do more of your old stuff this trip?
HR: The old songs haven’t been played in a long time.
S: What are your shows like up in NY?
HR: The same–it depends really on the vibes–really how we feel.
S: How did you feel opening for the Clash (when they played Bonds)–how’d it go?
HR: It was the same.
Dr. K: The audience that the Clash play to don’t really cater to our kind of music, so they were just standing around. I think they were more surprised too because halfway through the set they got into it–but we were finished playing. We could’ve done an encore, but you know how that is, politics.
S: After being away from the (DC) scene for so long, how do you see it now compared to when you left it?
HR: It’s definately a lot more younger.
S: Have you been able to hear any tapes by any of the bands?
HR: No–I really wanna check out some runnings.
S: How did the show tonight compare to when you were here before?
HR: It was really good. Um–about the same.
David: Why did you guys decide to move up to New York?
HR: We couldn’t get enough gigs down here. 9:30’s the only club booking bands–it’s just not fair.
DB: So you’re up there permanently.
HR: Yeah.
DB: The audiences up there–are they more responsive or as responsive? How would you make a paralell between the two audiences?
HR: It’s the same.
Dr. K: One gig people from DC came up. We played with Black Flag. It was DC-LA-NY all in one. It was real intense.
DB: The single has been out for awhile. Are you guys gonna record anything and put it out?
Dr. K: We’re in the process of putting out a cassette album. As soon as we handle some negotiations and stuff, it should be out. We’ve finished recording and everything so its just the legal work. It should be out real soon.
DB: Is that in the studio or is it live?
Dr. K: It’s live and some studio work.
Tom B.: Is it new stuff?
Dr. K: It’s kinda old and kinda new.
DB: When did you record it?
Dr. K: We, like, just completed it in NY about a month ago.
TB: It’s new recordings of old songs?
Dr. K: Right–but it’s some new songs, too. A little bit of everything. And hopefully, we wanna try and put out a couple of singles simultaneously afterwards. We’re on a compilation album (“Jellybeans”).
DB: A lot of people are getting into whether or not you’ll play reggae permanently.
HR: Well, the music has different cultures–one that’s African & one that’s American, the two of them are very revolutionary you know? It’s just two different worlds that shouldn’t be ignored.
DB: So you guys are just gonna mix it up in the future?
Dr. K: Yeah–like what we did in the beginning.
DB: Well, personally–let me say that I enjoyed the set a whole lot, but it’s strange seeing you play in the 9:30–kind of established place that could reflect like where your heading.
HR: Things can’t remain the same forever.
DB: Right.
HR: We had–um–a couple offers from NY–we want to put things out on our own label. We’ve been trying our best to keep what we have, which is the right to play what you want to play.
DB: The system won’t break the Bad Brains, huh?
HR: Well, it’s just that–set an example for other people–you can be independent and survive. You don’t have to sign the contract to make it and put your word out to any people you have.
DB: Are you guys going to the West Coast? I’ve read like in Flipside and some other LA magazines and they mentioned Bad Brains–also Slash–well there was a write up on the DC scene (Flipside). How soon do you guys plan to go out there?
HR: December.
DB: How long are you going to be out there?
HR: Couple of weeks.
Tom B.: Know where you’re going to be playing yet?
Dr.K: Nah–just that it’ll be with the DK’s–there are a lot of good groups here that just started to come up.
HR: New York has been dry for a couple of months, but now it’s starting to go on the upswing. A couple of groups like Even Worse, Reagan Youth, & Heart Attack.
B: What’s the story with the Stimulators? You guys know them right? What’s with the drummer, Harley?
HR: Yeah, Harley’s not with them anymore–he’s starting his own group. I’ve heard them–they’re Bad! They’re called the Cro-Magnons.
DB: Cool.
Tom B: Well, you know the “Jelly Beans” album has the cut “Pay to Cum”. Why not something unreleased instead?
Dr. K: Well, that is what we wanted. But they don’t have it out there (West Coast). We only printed up 2000 singles that was mainly on the East Coast that got it – they’d heard about it, but couldn’t get it.
Tom B: How has the repressing been selling?
Dr. K: I heard they like it.
DB: Did you guys play with the DK’s?
Dr. K: Yeah.
DB: I heard about that–How did it go?
Dr. K: Wild–slamming away.
HR: People are becoming aware now. This time I think I noticed there seems to be a consciousness between uh the youths. They know that things are really messed up in the US–it’s not see that’s what we’ve been trying to spread–for people to open their eyes to what is going on–these cats are trying to fool us and they just think everything is rosy and dandy here in America; it’s just not true. How long do we keep our eyes closed to the fact?
DB: The English Beat played here and Rankin’ Roger mentioned in this magazine I was reading he–um–he got into Rasta Fari subcultures when he was living in England and that he found that a lot of them were racists and mentioned that true rastafarians is a universal where everything unites including music.
HR: If somebody is a racist, they can’t be a rastafarian–they’re a wolf–somebody who looks like ’em. True rasta aren’t prejudiced, it’s right–it’s in the heart–see I and I deal with unification–unity for all people, no matter race, creed. Only time will tell who will be the survivors. I and I believes the 12 tribes of Israel will be the survivors.
DB: Anything else to say (laughs)?
S: Final comments – here’s your chance.
DB: Here’s your chance to say something to DC.
S: And other places.
HR: Don’t give up the fight and that’s it; you know times are hard and it’s gonna get a lot rougher and that’s it–just don’t give up cuz that is all we got–that’s our protector. FANK YOU!

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