Nightmares For A Week
By Land Or Sea
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Nightmares For A Week
By Land Or Sea
facebook event invitation – http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=157374080944249
facebook event listing – http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=142535302454560
Probably the most unusual interview I’ve ever encountered in my 4 years of doing this ‘zine. In a haze of marijuana smoke, surrounded by several moribund hangers-on, a dialogue with HR aka Paul Hudson aka Joseph I, dynamic vocalist for the Bad Brains. Most people know the Brains’ story by now, including their explosive comeback in ’85 and the recent release of their album “I Against I.” HR is also involved in a band bearing his nickname and the reggae band Zion Train. The rest of the band includes Dr. Know (guitar), Darryl (bass) and HR’s brother Earl on drums. What can be concluded form this interview? Beats me. Read on…
SV: What led you guys to get back together?
HR: Mostly, I and I was missing each other, still missing the vibes that we was cultivating.
SV: What’s “I Against I” all about?
HR: Basically, that’s about the continual battle of good against evil where you have man and man or even a man fighting against himself, even self-hatred, which we feel is going on a lot in these times and when you investigate and do research into the lyrics you can see a man saying, “him have this, him have that” but he’s still not happy, even for his family and he still don’t have it, like I against I. Do you see it?
SV: So how do you find this happiness?
HR: Well, you know the answer to that.
SV: I think I know the answer, but why don’t you tell me, anyway. What is it for you?
HR: Each man has to find God.
SV: Are Zion Train and HR still going?
HR: Yes, Zion Train is moving forward. We’ve just released I and I first LP on Olive Tree Records. We’re hopefully going into the studio real soon to record. The lead singer and leader of Zion Train is named Julius Selassie and he lives in Washington, DC and he’s a very positive brethren and he’s working very hard still for Zion Train to move forward and we really appreciate the people that are checking for I and I because it means a lot to us. We’re really hoping that Zion Train can move forward in due season, just as you see I and I move forward with the Bad Brains at this present time.
SV: So does each different project serves a different function for you?
HR: Well, each project is definitely a different arrangement of ideas, but it’s all one function because we all have the same goal, which is basically, simply to spread Jah message near and far.
SV: So that’s your prime motivation for playing music.
HR: Yes, for everything and yes, for me.
SV: Could you tell me a little more about Rastafarianism?
HR: Rasta is not no black nothing. Rasta is a function of the heart, it’s the first law. Now, we have the first nation, which is Africa and we give credit to the dynasty of the Solomon lineage so this is the only reigning diplomatic credited Christian Orthodox function today but we do not function for blackness. I and I live for humanity. A man can be any color and be a Rasta. (gives me a pamphlet on Rasta which also contains info about HR’s recent police troubles).
SV: What’s all this about “Joseph has recently suffered a heavy burden”?
HR: I just came out of jail after 4 months incarceration for possession of marijuana with intention to distribute, so, in Babylon, I man is a criminal and they lock I man up for this.
SV: There’s a lot of anti-drug mania in the US right now.
HR: Well, I man is against drugs, too. I man is an anti-drug mania, too. But herb isn’t a drug and that’s where they make their mistake. Now, when we get a brave, credited politician to stand forward and tell these people that they’re wasting their time and their energy and making things harder on themselves by locking up innocent victims who use herb just like they use caremelle, mullein, peppermint, golden seal and the list goes on and on and on. Nobody has to take the marijuana and put it in a machine and process it. If we was to do that, regulate it, then. But we don’t do that, so how come they want to restrict I and I from smoking it. It’s not true and from God, in the Bible, Genesis 2, verse 7-11, I could be mistaken, but you can see where God give man herb and vegetation and he saw that it was good and in Psalms, Jah show I and I that he give I and I herb for the service of mankind. So if we have this herb in the bible, why is there going to be a contradiction to I and I. So we’re ready to suffer the penalty for marijuana to the bitter end. We love I and I herb and we will never stop smoking it, ever.
SV: What made you decide to record “Sacred Love” over the phone?
HR: I and I record “Sacred Love” through the suggestion of a producer, Ron St. Germain, who produced “I Against I.” After I man’s second month of incarceration, this man asked I and I if I’d be into it, so I and I say yeah. I really didn’t have much to lose being in I man’s position. So when I heard about it, I was a little odd, a little astounded. However, I love to sing, in jail, out of jail, it don’t matter.
SV: Where do you see the Bad Brains going from here?
HR: I and I don’t make no plans so I really couldn’t tell the future. I only know the present and what I hope I live to do which is live to dwell another day in Jah temple. So I couldn’t tell you what’s going to happen. Only Jah know. I just give thanks for the people here tonight, to the youth that support I and I near and far, and I want to encourage all the youth that are just starting out in the world today, whether they be musicians or carpenters or maybe nobody, still I want to encourage them to live up and not to let people discourage them, that they do have an identity and that they are what they’re going to live up and they’re going to make it, regardless of what these negative ones may say to them and I want to tell them to keep moving forward. Don’t fall to that temptation…
The Bad Brains came back to Boston on May 1 for three shows at Mavericks/Mcnasty’s. As you may know already the Brains no longer exist they have changed their name to ZION TRAIN and will play strictly reggae music from now on. They will add two new vocalists, Ras Ray and Ras Freba and there will be other additions as well (possibly another guitarist, a horn section, and female backup singers), H.R. will move to bass and percussion(?).
I guess it was only a matter of time before this happened but I find it very depressing. Ever since I first saw the Brains at Irving Plaza over a year ago opening for Black Flag, they’ve been my favorite band of all time. The loudest, fastest, and most energetic band anywhere… To me this changeover to Zion Train is a massive mistake. The Brains had the ability to transcend any barriers, and to be able to reach people more effectively than anyone else. As a reggae band they may be able to gain a larger audience in numbers but it is useless to preach to the converted… The Bad Brains were an immensely important band. Zion Train will never mean anything.
The following interview with H.R. took place after the first show at McNasty’s, also present was Minishred. I don’t agree with a lot of what H.R. had to say but I feel it’s impotant his views be known.
MS) So I hear you’re going reggae…
K) Are you sorry you made these dates as the Bad Brains?
HR) Nope, I have no regrets whatsoever.
J) What made you decide to change now?
J) Do you think you’ll miss the energy? The energy in Reggae is much more controlled.
HR) No I won’t miss it.
J) So how did the West Coast go?
HR) It was alright.
MS) So what is the new name going to be?
HR) Zion Train.
MS) Is there meaning behind that?
HR) Totally. It is self explanatory, Zion is the Kingdom of God, Train is something that everybody rides on together, all the people going to the Kingdom of God, but of course Zion means Israel so alot of people are going to go there. Many will be called, few will be chosen.
MS) So when is the Bad Brains compilation going to come out?
HR) Hopefully in a couple more months. We’re going to finish it next week, and go out to California and send it to be pressed. It’s got about 20 something bands on it.
J) What about all the other projects, I heard there are supposed to be alot of other things coming out on your label.
HR) After that we want to put out an EP of the Bad Brains and than a couple of singles of some bands.
MS) Are you going to record any reggae groups?
HR) Only Jah know.
K) That was pretty wild the way you just bopped in like that last night at Mavericks. What happened?
HR) Yeah we were late cause we had to do a parade in NY, when we finished the parade traffic was so jammed. That’s why we were late.
J) And then back to NY and that’s the end of the Bad Brains right?
HR) No no we’ve got a couple more gigs and got some out in California and some in NY.
K) Do you think A7 has done a lot for that scene in NY?
K) Tell us about it.
HR) Because A7 rips off bands, he underpays them, I’ll tell you who has helped the scene–CBGBs, CBGBs was there and they still will book bands and pay them.
K) So you really think the future is in youth?
HR) Oh gosh yes. We’re the only ones, cause our folks are already gone you know, but we’re going to have to teach them, they’re going to have to relearn from us because they’ve given up y’know, we got to help them now. It’s true.
MS) How do you think all the kids can come together?
HR) Under the power of God. See we’ve all got to start thinking as one, beleiving in one main thing working for that one goal, working for one goal it’a really hard because you see what you have to do is face reality and work, and alot of people do not want to face reality and alot of people do not want to work.
J) What can each person do to start the revolution?
HR) Well the first thing is you’ve got to start with yourself. It’s got to start from a consciousness seeking an awareness. They have to start going and leaving Babylon behind. If you don’t want to deal with Babylon that means you can’t deal with none of it–their food, their alcohol, none of it, you have to leave it all behind and you’ve got to start thinking and living and doing everything different than what Babylon would. Umm another thing people can do is start moving in a more positive direction. Like OK, instead of drinking sodas or CocaCola, get yourself an orange juice or some water y’know? Cause the government has little tools and little things out here to kill us off little by little, control our minds. We don’t know what’s in those foods. They’re so preserved and so artificial and so chemicalized that you don’t know how they could be controlling us, man. I mean, it’s really wild. Another thing is people have to start considering God as somebody that’s real…You can’t find God from nobody else. The only way you’re going to find him is from yourself, and you’ve got to go inside and that’s it period. God ain’t on no cross, he ain’t no picture on no wall. He ain’t no little Saint Christopher or Saint Mary. Burn that. You can’t pray to them false gods…see Jah is in here. That is the only way you’re going to reach him. What we all got to do is start thinking as one and we’ve got to unite under one banner and that banner is Jah, God in heaven now if you don’t understand who Jah is, what you got to do is find out. Read, get books on Halie Sellasie, and then you’ll understand. That’s the only way. I can’t show you, I can’t make you believe. You got to seek and you shall find, true…
J) But then by changing to a reggae band aren’t you chancing losing people?
HR) There is a risk, yea. The risk is alot of people might not like the transition and we could lose alot of our audience. However, when you are involved in something that you make a commitment with, you don’t worry how many people are going to be there, who is going to come, or how ouch money you are going to make, or what you’re going to lose. For when you make a commitment you’ve already gained every thing you’ve wanted. It takes devotion. Once we sight Jah we’ve made it. Once any one sight Rastafari, that’s it, you’ve made it, you’ve graduated. That’s right, you don’t need nothing else, cause alot of people have all the things in the world and they don’t have god and they’re very unhappy. They’ve even got their false gods and they’re still unhappy. Like a man called…let me show you a perfect example…uh Falwell yeah y’know he got all the money in the world, everything, but guess what he doesn’t have? A friend in the world. Everybody uses him. They just a bunch of hypocrites, and he ain’t happy. He so blood clot out of it it ain’t even funny. Jah gonna lick him alright. He can’t fool us, he can’t fool the youth. The youth can see. We all grew up in this system. We just know the truth when we see it. We’ve seen so many con artists, we’ve seen so many gimmicks, we’ve been spit on, tricked, so many times by so many people who say yesyes–come, I’ll cake you we’ll be free. And then after they get what they went…goodbye y’know??
J) So playing so called “Hardcore” music is going against what Jeh wants you to do?
HR) No no not at all.
J) So then why are you stopping?
HR) Because we feel inside the only way we can give them what we want to give them is through Jah music.
J) So you’re going to stay in NY and continue in basically the same way?
HR) No we’re going to move to North Carolina.
J) What’s in N. Carolina?
HR) Fresh air, alot of grass and a big open farm…We wanna build a recording studio and also a music co-op.
J) Do you have the money for that?
HR) Who needs money when you got people?
J) You still need some money.
HR) No you don’t. You only need Jah, when you got Jah, mountains can be moved. When you’ve got prayers and the spirit of the Lord you don’t need money. You don’t need nothing but God, you can move, you can do anything with Jah. You don’t need money, that’s soft.
J) Will you still be playing out?
HR) Yes. We will be on tour we use money, we can’t help but to use it, but I’m telling you, you don’t need it. People got to start taking care of their bodies because of all these bacteria agents and chemical warfare we’re up against…the Bible shows that only the strongest of the strongest are going to survive, see…
J) So its necessary to totally move out of the cities?
HR) Oh, totally, everyone got to get out and move back to the land…cities are Babylon. Yeah, they are going to fall totally to the ground, the whole nation is through.
K) So you’re preparing, you’re going to a survivalist?
HR) That’s it!
K) But there are a lot of survivalists out there with who are moving to the country with arsenals of weapons…
HR) OK, those people are running scared. They are not facing reality, see, a lot of people think they can run away from Jah and run away from the destruction of the world. You can’t run away from it. Rastaman isn’t running from nothing. We are the warning. We ain’t running from nothing. We going to rebuild a new Jerusalem, a new country, a new system, a new nation. Reunite the old family. We already got out government. Our government is the Bible. We already got our political system. Our political system is God. He already gave us laws, statutes, doctrines. We already got it all written out in the Bible all you got to do is live by it. But people want to pick up their own government.
J) So was everyone in the band happy with the decision or what?
HR) All of us are together in it.
J) Was this like recent or…?
HR) No, no gradually, but it’s been building.
J) When was the final decision made?
HR) Gosh. I couldn’t tell you. I guess the final decision was made about a couple months ago, halfway through the tour when we went out to California and we saw all the faggots and we went to Texas and seen all the punk rock bands. Out there the in thing was being gay and all the hardcore bands were gay. That was the last straw, I couldn’t take no more. I had to say somebody got to go out there and show the youth the truth, man.
J) Did you run into any trouble, like people didn’t know what to expect from you?
HR) Uhuh. When we played in Florida they closed us down in West Palm Beach. They didn’t know what to expect and the guy pulled the plug on us and said he wants us to pay for a microphone in the middle of the set (laughs). We say ok, we’ll pay for it, but give us til after the set. (mimics in a booming voice) “No, I want it now.” So we kept on playing without the PA and then the cops came in and said, dig this, “If you do not stop playing we are going to beat up all the bald-headed people. (laughter)
J) Did that happen anywhere else on the trip?
HR) Umhuh. The cops closed down our gig in California at the Ukrainian festival. We played but they came in and took out over third of the audience. Our gig got closed in Reno, the cops busted that up. We didn’t get to play in N. Carolina at a place called the Big Bad Wolf. You couldn’t wear sneakers, a leather jacket, a tank shirt cut off, you couldn’t come into the club with jeans, you couldn’t come into the club with…
J) What could you come into the club with? (laughter)
HR) I mean this place was so oppressive it’s not funny.
J) Where was this again?
HR) In N. Carolina–where we are going down to live cause they need work. Raleigh, OK after the set started I came up and said to the audience, “You know it’s really a shame that people can’t come to clubs and wear what they want,” period that’s it. After the set the owner is looking for me with bats and his henchmen. Four or five big fat henchmens with billy clubs and saying (mimics) “Where is the lead singer, we want to break his neck, he embarrassed us.”
J) So why N. Carolina instead of say, Oklahoma? There is a lot of countryside out there.
HR) Because I like the vibrations out there.
K) How did it affect you to get on the cover of New York Rocker?
J) The fact that you’d been playing around NY for two years and they finally realized who you were…
HR) Put it there! Now all of a sudden woowoo, Bad Brains! Me and my friend, Henry, when we seen it I just said, well–here it goes, they’re going to try and exploit me now. I looked at it for a while and I thought about it and I said, well I can look at it two ways, I can give up and say my soul has sold out, I’m commercialized now, I’m on The Market or I can do what I been doing and just use it to help me–use it to spread the message. At least people know what I look like now. So when they see some where maybe they’ll stop me and ask me something and I’ll help them. If no one knew what I looked they might just keep on walking by me and never know who I was.
J) How long will the Revolution you want take?
HR) The way I see it Babylon doesn’t have many more years. The Bible says the end is near at hand and no man will know the exact hour. However, Jah says he will give us warnings and signs when the end will come. From the signs I’ve interpreted on my own, ok. this is my own belief, my own vibrations, I feel that within the next four years there is going to be a dramatic change in the government
J) What will that lead to?
HR) That will lead to the Revolution, the breaking point that will lead into the revolution.
J) What kind of changes?
HR) Political changes, sociological changes, religious changes, cultural changes. There is going to be a Cultural Revolution, the government is going to say.
K) When this happens you don’t think people aren’t too stupid to just accept it? I meet a lot of stupid people.
HR) OK, now you can fool some of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time. There will be a congregation of real, true Christians who will grow in number and these people will become mighty and powerful. And they’re going to be young youths who believe in the truth. Who are gonna be strong. There’s gonna be a new breed of youths, a revelation that belongs only to God. Now these youths are going to be unconquerable, they won’t need guns; they are gonna do magnificent things. They’re gonna do monumental things people have never seen before. These are gonna be the ones that tremble and quake this country and they’re gonna be mighty. They’re defenses are gonna be Jah, and their strength and power in their numbers. See they’re gonna be many, many, many and they’ll be just too strong and powerful, and that’s when Babylon going to quake.
MS) And that’s the big take over.
HR) Yeah. Little by little it’s happening right now when these people unite, when Israel reunites we are gonna, I and I, are going to demand certain things of Ronald Reagan, or whoever is president at the time.
J) Hopefully he’ll be gone by then…
HR) All we want is justice, which means we want to be free. How we are going to demand this from the president. What we want is ships and a free ride out of the United States to Africa, that’s what we want. That’s what we are going to demand from the President. He’s going to give it to us sooner or later. Let those who want to go, go free. Because most of those that want to go can’t afford to right? They can’t afford to, they can’t leave their jobs, they can’t support their families y’know? They can’t afford it but if they had a ticket, a free ticket, plus food and a place to stay when they reach Africa…Jah will set it up for us, then I and I will be ready to go. You would be surprised how many people would leave so quick knowing that they’re going to build a new system. And all those that want to stay, let them stay! We don’t have to make them go, do we? Not if they want to stay. I don’t know the bloodclot for, but let them stay…yeah.
J) Have you been to Africa before?
HR) I’ve not been to Africa physically, yet spiritually I have been there many times. That’s what we will demand from Ronald Reagan and that’s when the Revolution will come…and I and I reunite and leave Babylon.
NOTE FROM FORCED EXPOSURE 4: …one point about our policy towards interviews which some people have had misconceptions about. We interview bands that we like and that are important, and give them the chance to express their ideas…by no means does this that we totally agree with and promote each statement by each band…a case in point would be the Bad Brains interview in #2. Musically, they’re probably the best band I’ve ever seen, but their Rastafarian Rap is pure shit. I’m hardly waiting for my free boat to Africa from Reagan (as H.R. suggests) and I hope you’re not either, but at the time I felt that it was crucial (just kidding) that people understand them and their reasons for thinking about changing into Zion Train (something that has yet to happen so that they can cash in on another “farewell tour”)…
by Mark Coleman, photos by Laura Levine. 1982.
These Bad Brains mean business. They are four men with a mission: to unite and enlighten “the youth,” black and white, through the grinding drone of speedrock and the spiritual lilt of reggae. Every note they play and word they speak stands on its own, yet each is carefully weighed in light of a higher purpose. They are deadly serious about the music they play, and the “scene” it has engendered.
This motivation pays off in the music. The Bad Brains are like no other punk band: their short, feisty songs surge with the power of total abandon, yet they carefully maintain control over that power without sacrificing any metallic crunch. At present they’ve contributed one single to posterity (“Pay To Cum” on their own label, released in 1979) and the ROIR cassette-only release simply titled Bad Brains, an album-length studio document recorded in the summer of 1981. On song after song on the cassette, the sheer stamina behind the rhythm section of bassist Darryl Jennifer and drummer Earl Hudson pulls listeners in like a riptide; guitarist Dr. Know floods the senses with chortled leads; and vocalist HR rants in a shrieking language of his own invention. And the Bad Brains play reggae too, for my money better than any other American band (which may not be saying much, but these guys are good.) It’s the perfect one-two punch in a live show: just at the point your heart might stop pumping comes a skanking bass line to delight head and feet simultaneously.
The disciplined drive that makes Bad Brains’ music so compelling has much to do with their personal beliefs. Professed Rastafarians, the band members invoke the name of Jah often during our interview and when HR focuses in to make a point in his quietly intense manner, Dr. Know and Darryl voice agreement and nod rapturously at key phrases and words. Earl sits quietly in another room, oblivious to all but HR’s most impassioned flights of Rasta rhetoric.
New York Rocker: I heard you started out as a jazz-rock fusion band.
Dr. Know: We weren’t really playing fusion, though I guess you could call it that because it was a mixture of anything, whatever came up. We never played any concerts or anything like that. We had been together about six months when we switched. We still play for our own satisfaction but we wanted to get records out, to get a message to the people.
NYR: Was there a specific turning point?
Darryl: The extremes, the extremes.
NYR: What drove you to the extremes?
Dr. Know: It was at the time of disco and all the jazz musicians we liked went pfffft. It’s the times, and this music [punk] is a reflection of those times. It’s crucial music for crucial times.
NYR: Was the original music “crucial” or did the band’s outlook change with the times?
Dr. Know: No, it was the same all along–except things are getting worse now. The music that’s out on that tape is two years old.
NYR: What was happening in D.C. in 1978?
HR: There was just this one band playing, the Urban Verbs, so we started having parties…
Dr. Know: There had been one club, but it closed. We had a house at the time so we started having parties. It was great, different bands would play all night. It started to grow after about three parties, first one club, then some others started booking punk bands.
NYR: So why were Bad Brains “Banned In D.C.”?
Dr. Know: After a while we couldn’t play anywhere. The places we had been playing weren’t clubs really, more like lofts, storefronts, that kind of thing where it got too crowded and the owners started coming down on the music. One person was behind most of the places, anyway–you know how that is.
NYR: He was down on the music for political reasons?
Darryl: Racist, racist, racist. [Pause] They wouldn’t even let us into the clubs when we weren’t playing there.
NYR: Is NYC any better on that score?
Darryl: New York, NY is a money thing. The way it is now, if you got some money, some green, they’ll let you through.
NYR: Have you had problems getting gigs anywhere else?
Darryl: Philadelphia. I think we got turned away there because we’re black.
NYR: What happened when you played Florida and North Carolina this year?
Darryl: A lot of the club owners and people there didn’t know we were black. Like in Raleigh, at this place called the Big Bad Wolf, they got really upset when they found out.
NYR: I’ll bet it didn’t faze the audience, though.
Darryl: No, they loved it.
HR: The people there were a little more appreciative. Since not too many bands play down there, it really doesn’t matter what you play; if you’re good at what you do, they appreciate it.
NYR: Not a specifically “punk” audience?
HR: It’s the same, you know? It’s the youth, they know what we play. We played in Raleigh, Th’ Cigaretz are from there so they had already been exposed to punk rock for five years and have a nice healthy scene going. Now in Tampa and West Palm Beach, it’s just starting out.
Dr. Know: We had played North Carolina two or three times, and each time we went down we’d add more gigs. Eventually we had a following, inspired other people to start bands there–in fact three of four of those bands will be on our compilation album. What we’ve been doing the last few months…basically, all the bands you’ve seen playing with us are involved with the album. When we do a gig we try to bring in a band from another area, like the Necros from Ohio or Crucial Truth from North Carolina, to bring the whole thing together. And we pay the supporting bands ourselves, we make sure the club has nothing to do with it.
NYR: Tell me about the compilation.
Dr. Know: A double album with 20-25 bands, two cuts by each band. From New York to Chicago, Miami to Boston–that’s the radius. The album will be on Bad Brains Records, and it’ll come out in England too. Various people, various distributors will handle it, but it’s our own company. In the next two months we will also have an EP out in England, material taken from the tape, and a new 45 out in America and England. The EP will be a co-op between Bad Brains Records and Alternative Tentacles. We don’t know what songs we’ll use.
NYR: How did you get hooked up with ROIR?
David Hahn (manager): No obligation, a one-off deal, full ownership of all songs, full right to re-record all the songs, no sale of publishing rights. And a good advance, plus artistic control of the product.
NYR: You couldn’t ask for much else.
Dr. Know: We’ve heard a lot just about the packaging of it–let alone the music on the tape.
NYR: Reading the printed lyrics was quite a shock. I had no idea what the songs were about. The songs often seem spiritually motivated but the music is such an overwhelmingly physical rush. Is that a contradiction?
HR: It would be a contradiction if we lived hypocritically. But we feel what we do, and we live that way. You think we just come out on the stage and put on these clothes for the gig, then the next day we put on our regular business suits and go back to the office?
NYR: No, but I think that’s what most of your audience does. Is it anything more than a game to them?
HR: Those kids out there slamming around, do you think they’re pretending? It’s WAR!!
Dr. Know: Last night was a different scene, at Irving Plaza. It was our first gig since the cassette has been out and there were a lot of different people there. It was a real energetic crowd; sometimes there’s a lot of violence, sometimes things cool out. It depends on how much room there is.
* * *
Like a lot of other people, I had avoided hardcore gigs at first due to rumors of mob violence. But while the floor shook with bounding slam dancers at Bad Brains’ Irving Plaza gig, it seemed to be contained in the immediate vicinity of the stage without posing a threat to the rest of the crowd. While the support bands egged on the mock violence to keep their own momentum going, the Bad Brains seemed to manipulate it, becoming part of the crowd on a “group participation” number, then clearing the stage with a throbbing bass lick.
* * *
NYR: Aren’t you ever distracted by guys flinging themselves off the stage while you ‘re playing?
David Hahn: I don’t think Bad Brains present any illusion; the bands that have to kick people off the stage have to show that “we’re up here and you can’t be…”
HR: If somebody came up and started hitting me, yeah, I’d kick him off. But if he doesn’t come at me, I’m not gonna bother him. See, the one thing you have to understand is that this music is very tribalistic, very physical, going back to the original basics. It’s almost uncivilized, but those are the conditions we’re living in.
You see this slam-dancing now, and everybody says it’s really violent. However, if you notice, it’s an art, a real dance, because the people know what extent to go to before it’s fighting. See, nobody out there is hurting anyone else–they’re having fun. Once in a while bruises come up just from the sheer velocity, but that’s like any other exercise. I’ve seen people coming out of country and western places after a fight–that’s different. Check out the dance itself–the youth aren’t trying to hurt anyone, they’re just looking ferocious. It’s like shock treatment; maybe Jah is taking them through this stage before they can go to the next, which is to see Him.
Dr. Know: The hardcore is a way of revealing the revolutionary…
HR: You see, at first we didn’t play that much reggae music, it was revealed to us through the spirit. Right now what you are seeing is pure prophecy: we didn’t plan it. We had no idea things would end up this way.
NYR: How much of the hardcore audience is willing to take that next step?
HR: Some listen and seek. But we can’t save nobody, you have to do it yourself with Jah’s guidance. He’ll save you but you have to make the first step. It’s your decision.
NYR: Most Americans still don’t seem very interested in reggae–especially black Americans.
HR: Conditioning, they’re conditioned to Babylon system.
Darryl: Fashion is what’s conquering black America today: GQ and Vogue. And disco–it’s all Babylon conditioning for blacks, it puts them in a maze where they are led to believe the whiter they are, the easier it’s going to be.
* * *
The concept of unity comes up continually when speaking to the Bad Brains. Their planned compilation album is indicative of the support they’ve given other bands, and the effort doesn’t stop on vinyl. They seem committed to bringing people together, even if it’s only warring hardcore factions and their combative followers. Dr. Know takes stoic delight in telling me of the Black Flag gig at Irving Plaza that brought together punks from D.C., L.A. and N.Y. “After all this ‘who rules’ rivalry, they finally just met and talked and found out that they’re all the same.” And for all the charges of nascent racism on the hardcore scene, the Bad Brains have a chant that everyone at Irving Plaza seemed to know:
“Black and white, we come here to unite.” Simple, perhaps, but you don’t hear anything like that reverberating on the upper floors of Danceteria or the Mudd Club.
* * *
NYR: Is it possible to exploit the system, to pit Babylon against itself? Can a band like the Clash use the industry to get a certain message across to a larger audience?
Darryl: The Clash were something back in 1977, when they sang about anarchy and all…But now, they’ve been sucked into the system, this record company bit, this world of drugs. They’ve got to have their collars starched up real straight. That’s real false. We don’t have no gimmicks. I ain’t no gimmick, man. I ain’t no joker going up on the stage in make-up with my shoes shined. You see the Clash on stage and they’re all high on some kind of speed. I want some energy, I just drink some orange juice and go out and rock harder than all of them.
NYR: So you have no interest or aspiration towards the major record labels?
Darryl: We never looked at it that way. It’s a oneness, we’re musicians and artists first on this earth, it’s earth runnings. I don’t care about touring with someone else’s band or recording for another man’s company. They’re just middlemen, they don’t do nothing, so avoid them completely.
NYR: Can a band reach as many people working independently?
Darryl: I figure the only advantage of a record company is that they can buy off certain things, just distribute your music really fast, maybe pay a radio station to play your songs every couple minutes. They can “Knack” you, but that’s false. Look at the Knack–they had one song that got played everywhere, but they didn’t have another one.
They tried to do that to us. A record company [no names given] told us that if we could write a ballad, like how Kiss wrote “Beth,” they could make us big stars. That’s what record companies can do for you.
NYR: What about Bad Brains playing to a larger audience than the hardcore crowd, like when you opened for Gang of Four?
Dr. Know: That show was a corporate kind of affair. We didn’t get a sound check because these union people had to leave the stage at a certain time. They were all watching the clock, ready to drop the cord or wrench at the stroke. They don’t care that they are putting on a show. It was strictly a money-making thing.
NYR: So did you get paid for it?
HR: Yeah, we got paid last, right after the janitors. How many people were there, 3 or 4000? 3000 people at $10 a ticket and we got $500. See that’s why I and I don’t deal with Babylon. We got something better than money.
* * *
The Bad Brains do have something in tangible going for them. While I can’t buy their Rastafied line of reasoning outright, one certainly can’t question their sincerity or dedication. There’s an almost magical feeling in the air when they play, a crazed sense of democracy where anyone can get up on stage, a rock and roll atmosphere where protest is as palpable as posing. The younger bands may not have the vision or vehemence of their mentors, but they are learning. And for all their grim righteousness off-stage, onstage the Bad Brains are an explosion of joyous emotion, a truly dynamic rock and roll band that hardly seem constricted by the simple forcefulness of their music.
“We don’t know that all the youths are listening, that’s not our job. Even if it’s just one out of 500–one person hears it and that’s it.” HR looks surprised at himself for a minute, then sighs. “Yeah.”
original location: http://www.dementlieu.com/~obik/arc/bbrains/int_nyr50.html
This interview was done at Dreams House with people from We Got Power, Outcry, LCD, Fer Youz and Flipside. All questions were asked at once so we just put all questions as “FS”. The Bad Brains just arrived from SF and the interview started…
FS: When did you get here from NY?
Gary: The fifth of the fourth (March).
FS: How long you gonna be here?
Gary: Well, we have two gigs in this area this weekend and then go back to SF to play the 19th and 20th in that area then the next weekend back to this area and then play our way back east. So it’s like an all states tour, it will last about 2 months, a month here in Calif, and a month on the road.
FS: This is your first time in LA?
FS: What do you think of it?
HR: We just got here 5 minutes ago, all we see is rain and smelling stinking air.
FS: And fast women?
HR: I ain’t seen none of that yet. (laughs)
FS: How’d it go in SF?
HR: Well, it’s ok, but too many faggots.
FS: Oh yeah! Welcome to California! How do they bother you?
HR: Well because they act confused…
FS: They act confused?
HR: They act confused.
FS: They act confused or are confused?
HR: They act confused.
FS: You don’t think they are?
HR: Well that goes along with it but mostly if they just act sensible they wouldn’t be so bad, most of them act so crazy even out in public, it disturbs me, makes me want to go and shoot one of them.
FS: Want a gun? It’s not like that in New York City?
HR: Yeah. On the west side, we live on the east side. The lower east side…
Gary: We have an album that we’re working on next, primarily east coast and south coast bands that will be out within two months, then a 45. The next Bad Brains 45…
FS: What’s the album gonna be called?
Gary: We don’t want to say that yet, save it for a surprise!
FS: Is that on Bad Brains Records.
HR: Yeah, that’s what has been taking us so long to put out another record. It’s because we’ve been setting up, and waiting for the right opportunity. A couple of people have given us offers, but we don’t want to compromise, because you know what happends when you sign the dotted line! So we’ve just been working, saving and now we’re in a position where we can put out another record. So we are gonna do it.
FS: How did you get in with that cassette album?
HR: Well Neil came to us about a year and a half ago and you know told us he liked the band and watched the progress of the band. And he was the only one that gave us a fair deal of all the contracts that were shown to us.
FS: Where did you record it?
HR: In 171, that’s Jerry’s studio, that’s Jerry setting right there (HR points to Jerry and everyone checks him out).
FS: Are you satisfied with that tape?
HR: Oh yeah. (Points to Jerry) He’s the master mind, he produced it…
FS: Oh yeah?
HR: Yes I ya, mixed it, produced it, provided it, everything.
FS: We heard you used to be a jazz quartet?
HR: We just screwed around with fusion for awhile, we only had one gig and that was in our basement.
FS: Was it a good gig?
HR: No, it was a flop.
FS: Did you have the same name?
HR: No, we were called “Mind Power” back then.
FS: About what year was that?
HR: That was in ’77.
FS: Then punk came around in…
HR: Yeah we found out about hardcore through a friend, it was rock n roll, through a friend called Sid, a good friend of ours, who lives in DC–Sid McCray, and we just went over to his house one day and put on some albums and that was it.
FS: Do you remember which albums?
HR: Yeah, put on “Never Mind The Bollocks”, “No NY” and that was it.
FS: Good stuff?
FS: Where did you get the new name?
HR: Well like I told you our old name was “Mind Power” and we wanted to keep something along with the mind, so I was talking to Daryl, our bass player, and I was saying to him, yeah it’s got to be something dealing with the mind, the brain, something like that. And then I said to him, it’s got to be “bad”, it’s got to be bad. Then he said Bad Brains! Then I said Yeaah!! So then after that he told me there was a song by the Ramones called Bad Brain. I said so what, it’s a bad name.
FS: What do you think of other types of reggae?
HR: Oh I love reggae!
FS: Ah, what about the Slits?
HR: Beautiful! I think that the Slits…I’m glad what they did because that’s an example for us to follow, you know cause we have to go out to Africa, we all have to leave this…
HR: Yeah! And unite as a nation, as in all of us together, dealing with culture, you know, not just something that’s in fad next year or what ever comes around.
FS: Not to do with politics.
HR: Yeah, and the Slits recognize that and said–boy right now I’m just gonna leave babylon, and I think that’s so beautiful, really, really…
FS: Do you enjoy doing reggae more that punk?
HR: No, it’s the same, reggae music is African and punk music is American…
FS: It’s American.
HR: Yes, when I say American, I mean more European oriented as where reggae is Africa oriented. And right now today here I am in this predicament, here I am African in European enviornment so I find myself with two likenesses, they come from the same place, Jah you know, and the thing with punk rock, hardcore music is reaching out, searching, it’s the youth saying “boy I can’t deal with this, what can I deal with, I can’t deal with that” and here comes reggae now with direction…
FS: So punk and reggae are clashing.
HR: Oh definitely.
FS: They come out at the same point and try to reach out to everybody.
HR: Yeah they split though, you see what happens is the energy that punk rock projects, it’s so hard that a lot of times the message is lost in the distraction, so we all know what we wanna say, but then here we are on the dance floor going BAM! BAM! And we don’t feel that, but because of circumstances are that way what can I do. So here comes Jah now with the answer–what we have to do is deal with unity, and not fighting, that’s it, that’s our theme or mission…
FS: The PMA, positive mental attitude.
FS: What other music do you like?
Gary: Well basically me myself, personally I like all kinds of music still, but you have to feel it, it has to come from the heart.
HR: If you have to get into labels, I think the next music to me personally would be funk, not disco now, but funk.
FS: Can you compare yourself to other bands?
HR: How can you? I can’t, I don’t try. Because we used to get into that competing, when bands try to say well this band’s got this and this band’s got this, and when you think about it were all in it for the same reason. Nobody better than the other one. It’s what you sincerely believe in. Maybe you have a different like than others, some people really like “no wave”, I hate it.
FS: What makes you divide up your set between punk and reggae?
HR: You’ve got to ask Jah that! We did not plan it, it just happened!
FS: Do you try to keep it 50/50?
HR: No, whatever we feel. Like one night in Boston we played the first set in reggae and the next set all rock and in one night in DC all rock. One night we made a gig with Peter Tosh and they wanted us to play all reggae but we wouldn’t do it, we were thinking about it, we all came to the conclusion if we are to play all reggae at Peter Tosh and then go back to play rock and reggae that’s not being sincere. If we decide to become ALL reggae, well that’s fine…
FS: Do you have a favorite reggae artist?
HR: Yeah, Selassie!
FS: When you call yourselves BAD Brains, can’t that be negative?
HR: No it is negative that name we feel represents the nation, when we picked that name the reason why is because we wanted something to symbolize what is happening today in the US–Bad Brains!
FS: I don’t see how you associate that with positive mental attitude.
HR: Well see if you want to be positive, you have to deal with the truth and the truth is today…how can I come up and say we’re all living in peaceful times? That’s why they don’t understand us today, that’s why they don’t understand the Nazi cross, they think he’s upholding nazism, but not really, what that youth is doing is showing you how exploited it’s become. They don’t understand that, they look at it on the surface but we all know when you see Dead Kennedy’s, you know what that means. When you see Bad Brains, you know what that means.
FS: The US is full of bad brains…have you changed since the beginning?
Gary: Nothing change, we’ve been together 3 years, the same songs, most of the songs on the tape are the first songs that we wrote, like “Pay To Cum” is 2 1/2 years old. Nothing change, the struggle is still going on as long as you live in the US you know you’re suffering. I mean there’s something wrong, especially in these times–everyone’s got to feel it.
FS: Do you miss DC?
Gary: Not really.
FS: What do your families think of what you are doing?
HR: Our families, like I and I we all come from good families still and they try to understand I and I–and we have to do still, so let them except that for what it is.
FS: Why don’t you think there are more black people into hardcore?
HR: Because of exposure.
FS: But you think that black people are naturally opressed that they would get into it sooner than the middle class…
Gary: Babylon see…black people ain’t gonna find out about it until white people find out about it.
Gary: Because of the babylon system…
FS: It’s too white people mainly?
Gary: White people get it on TV, then black people pick it up.
FS: Is NY really different from here?
HR: Well ok New York…the filth is right out in the streets, in DC it’s inside and in California it’s everywhere!
FS: You tried to play England once.
HR: We played with the Damned and they said come to England and record on the Chiswick label (but they only got as far as immigration and got turned away for lack of work permits and money).
FS: When did you get involved with Rastafari?
HR: For me it’s been two years now.
FS: That seems like such a short time! Speaking for myself I don’t understand Rastafari…
HR: Ok, Rasta Fari means Prince of Peace of head creator. That’s the first name of Haile Selassie. Rastafarians are people who believed Selassie is Jesus Christ in the second coming. Reason why they call themselves Rastafarians is because there lord is Rastafari, just like in Christ times they called themselves Christians. Now today the reason why we believe this is because of the signs that were pointed out in Revelations, which is the last book of the bible. That’s when Jesus comes a second time he will come right before he ends the world on the last days of time. He will come and one if the ways he will come is as a slain lamb, as a conquering lion from the tribe of Juda. The bible shows us that in the beginning of time there was one nation, and 12 tribes. We all came from that nation, which means each one of us came from one of those tribes depending on your birthday. Selassie comes from the tribe of Juda, back in 36 or 37 Selassie when he was crowned King of Kings & Lord of Lords he himself changed his name to Haile Selassie which means “might of the trinity”. Revelations says that when Jesus Christ comes in a second coming he will be the only one that will know his name. And it says he will come to re-unite Israel…
(talk goes into Selassie’s life, his beliefs, Communism, South America, Ethopia etc…)
FS: Do you see Babylon falling?
HR: Yeah, down down, it’s falling now! See they got this thing called, I don’t know the word for it, when they try to make you think that there’s money in the banks and there’s no money…what’s that called?
HR: Yeah (all laugh) well that’s what they’re doing today. That paper you see, that dollar is only 17 cents. That’s the warning, teenagers now are warning them and they’re saying look what’s coming ahead. Rastaman warning, look Babylon is falling, look the end of the world. And they’re not listening. What are they doing? They’re picking up on the fad–they say if I wear studs I’m cool. I’m a punk rocker. That’s the commitment of being a rebel, because that’s what started it. Hardcore music is to say, I defy the system, I don’t care if you think I’m crazy, I’m still against you but now it’s come to be, well if I skin my head, I’ll get that girl over there or I’ll get that guy over there. So we can’t let those foul us more, now it’s gone into a spiritual and personal enlightenment, now the next step beyond.
FS: (All this interview the Bad Brains use “I in I” and Selassie “I” so we naturally asked…..) How do you use I?
HR: Universally. I in I is everything, you and god, god and you. Universally. You make one, one makes all I in I.
FS: So you use it in Rastafar “I” and Selassie “I”?
HR: Yeah (laughter like we caught on).
HR: Now I would like to ask you some questions. Is it true that youths are carrying guns in LA?
FS: Well..if Black Flag is playing you might get 2000, anybody else a couple of hundred, TSOL have a nudge draw, the Circle Jerks, Um…Wasted Youth…
HR: Man, boy I seen that group, crucial, I’ve never in my life seen anybody spit in the next man’s mouth before. Never! The lead singer of Wasted Youth, this wasn’t fake man, I seen him pop some crucial lougers into these boys mouths, and I nearly choked. I said yes! Wasted Youth! Perfect!
FS: (to Earl) Anything to add?
Earl: He’s the spokesman right there!
HR: That’s my brother, my birth brother.
FS: Are you looking forward to playing here in Los Angeles?
HR: Yes, we’ve been trying to get out here for two years, when you know people appreciate you it’s so much fun.
FS: What’s HR stand for?
HR: Huntin’ Rod, just a nickname…
FS: Who writes you songs?
HR: Well Daryl and Gary (Dr. Know) the guitarist write the music and I write a little bit. I do 90% of the words. I just write them, Jah get ’em.
FS: Is there a favorite song you do?
HR: No. Well I’m gonna tell you something beautiful happened in SF, we came out and everyone was skanking and after the third song we just went into a dub song and man everybody just rushed the stage and everyone was jumping up and down, that just took me by surprise, if you could have seen the music take over, I ya.
FS: Will you expand musically, like the Clash who have gone 360 degrees?
HR: I am not play disco I ya, that’s why today the Bad Brains are so poor. You see the Clash, those record producers underestimate that group. They have yet to see the Clash. I still have a lot of hope for that group.
FS: Are there any bands you listen to very closely?
HR: I love Stevie Wonder and there’s a group called Israel Vibrations. Boy you hear their music and it’s so ancient, it strikes right here (clutches chest)…
In ancient days what did Jesus try to do? They said we don’t care if you tell a lie, just tell us you’re not who you say you are. They tried everything, they tried to make him bow, they put a crown of thrones on his head, they kicked him around town and finally they said “We are gonna kill you if you say you are not the son of God.” And he still would not do it I ya. And who is more revolutionary that Jesus Christ? You see Babylon hangs rebels. You have two kinds of rebels now, one will rebel against the system and a rebel that will rebel against god. We live in a rebellious society because they rebeled against the true word of God.
FS: Rebelling against society is on the side of God.
HR: That’s right! Good and evil can’t combine, you can’t be in the middle of the road.
FS: What’s a rasta’s views on drugs?
HR: We don’t consider herb a drug, it’s not synthesized. No matter how much herb oil you drop on you joint its not going to alter your consciousness, but if you smoke opium that’s another story, it’s not synthesized…
FS: So you’re anti-alcohol too?
HR: Yeah. Does anybody have herb in the house?
FS: Do you like art?
HR: I feel pencil drawings are fine but oil paintings are vain. Some things are sacred, a woman’s body is so beautiful that you would only be doing an injustice to God to try to paint it that perfect.
FS: What do you guys eat?
HR: We don’t eat any meat.
FS: What’s your favorite meals?
HR: Rice and beans…
FS: Pasta? Fish?
HR: Whole wheat pasta and hard scale fishes.
FS: Do you have any other interests?
Earl: Farming. I’d love to be a farmer.
FS: Do you think there are people who use rasta as an excuse to get high?
Earl: Well if there are I would see them as sheep.
FS: You fit all your equipment and your selves in on van?
Earl: It’s work, it takes a positive attitude.
FS: PMA. I like that, it’s different than fuck shit, fuck shit, we’re all gonna die…
Earl: It’s easy to be negative. It’s hard to be positive but if you work at something constructive….we got PMA from this book, “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill, everybody in the band read that book when we were starting out in the early days. And to tell you the truth man, that book related a lot to the bible. Very much so because it said sight God, keep the faith. Like a vision, ya know, see what you want and keep it in your mind. What ever you can, God says that if you work at it you can eventually achieve it. If you can conceive it you can achieve it, eventually if you work at it. And if it’s sowing a good seed it’s positive then you are stronger. But if it’s negative it’s not gonna work it’s gonna break up.
HR: Selassie says that until the day when the color of a man’s skin means no more than the color of his eyes…
FS: We will have war.
HR: Right! Now I and I are brethen. From the beginning of time we came from the same family–that means, boy, how can I say something about my brother, I’m just saying something about myself.
FS: Do you have any feelings about the slavery that went on in this country?
HR: Yes. Have you ever heard of apartheid?
FS: What’s going on in South Africa?
HR: The Apartheid are people who believe in white supremecy. What they wanna do now is say one bathroom is black and one is white. And reason because is when people unite they’ll lose their power. So in the south the same thing, same thing in the north in Europe…
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.
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.
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?
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.
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!
original location: http://www.dementlieu.com/~obik/arc/bbrains/int_nowwhat0.html
There are some bands that don’t always translate on the first listen. You could love a band. They could represent some great time in music, but when playing them for a friend to hear the first time, it won’t carry. Maybe that friend needs some kind of context or narrative to explain why Lifetime was such an important band. Then maybe after a few listens, and a mixtape or two, they’ll get it.
That is not the case with Bad Brains. Nobody is going to argue whether or not The Bad Brains are important. It’s pretty much accepted that they were the first band to play the style that would become known as, “hardcore.” Their first album is unquestionably a perfect record. Their records are peppered with reggae tracks that provide an often much needed respite from the hardcore blitzkrieg of songs like, “Supertouch,” and they did a great deal to break down the color barriers of a music scene that was predominantly white.
Punknews interviewer Jon Reiss recently spoke with member Daryl Jenifer shedding some light on went into the making of this band that engendered a genre, gave rise to a whole new style of mosh and introduced a slew of people to the word, “Jah.”
Listening to Bad Brains, it feels like the guitar, the bass, the drums and vocals are all this one vicious instrument, this force that came out of nowhere. Many bands have done their damnedest to re-create that sound, but nobody had ever really come close. What would you say is the one secret ingredient behind the Bad Brains?
First, the style we have is punk rock, right? So, we grew up musicians in our various neighborhoods, and in any hood you’ve got your athletes, your musicians, etc. You know what I mean? So in our hood we were the cats that played the guitar and the drums and stuff, you know? So, what I’m trying to say is, firstly we were the cats that played the guitar and the drums and we opened our minds to various styles of music. When we discovered punk, most punk bands were cats that had a political stance or they sung about drugs, but most cats that played punk rock couldn’t really play. But, that was the beauty of it, you know? Like, “I’ll be the bass player, you can play drums….” With the Bad Brains, we already knew how to play a little bit. We’d been playing music since becoming teenagers. So now bringing that to a genre of music where most folks really don’t know how to play and you got a style being born of cats that can play but they want to play punk. So we started to create our own style based on the bands we loved from the punk era like The Ramones and The Damned. When you listen to those bands you can hear similarities between their style and our style. So now we’re going to play our style, being black and from the hood and loving punk rock, playing it our own way. Eventually we create our own style which I like to call “progressive punk,” like we’re thinking about this shit, were not just bashing out the chords, we’re thinking about the type of chords. We’re thinking about this punk rock style. So our sound and style was thought-out. We cared a lot about it. Before shows we’d figure out what our plan was. We always had a plan, like a struggle. Like a football team. We’d be rehearsing and go, “Okay, we’re gonna come out and kick it like this and then kick it like that…” So all that too was coming into this punk rock music.
So, here’s what happened. We used to play very…what people thought was fast, but if you look back, it was kind of slow. So when our style started to pop off, the kids that started to create bands around our style, which was like the Ramones and The Dammed type of style, they tried to kick it like us but they couldn’t really do because they actually played much faster, thinking that we were playing really fast. So it was like this juxtaposition where you know, you try to be something, and you might not necessarily end up being that, but you end up creating your own shit. Hardcore is something that I don’t know. Hardcore is something that kids made trying to play punk rock like the Bad Brains. The Bad Brains is not a hardcore band. When we came out playing this fast technical style, kids tried to emulate it and created their own little beats and their own way of playing. That’s hardcore. I don’t know which bands, I guess like Madball, or something. Even Fugazi and Teen Idles are more punk rock. I read some magazine recently where they had it flipped. Hardcore is the baby of punk rock. D.C style punk rock grew into hardcore. We rolled with it. Every time someone refers to the work I’ve done as hardcore, I’m a little perplexed because honestly I don’t really know shit about it. I just know punk rock. The Bad Brains had already obtained some recognition by the time people had started using it. You know what it reminds me of? Vegan. All of the sudden there was this word Vegan, back when we were vegetarian or I-tal in the early 80’s. I remember like 85, hearing the word, “vegan” for the first time. I think I was in Europe. Hardcore to me is a word like that, a style. So when people started to create punk bands, making it more technical with breaks and stops and shit, there you go… hardcore. The reason why we were playing fast with breaks and stops was because were just trying to play more interesting punk rock.
So let me ask you this. During the early days of the Bad Brains, did you identify as a punk? Was that a considerable part of your life outside of The Bad Brains?
Absolutely, for every style of music that I’ve loved, I’ve lived. I was a punk, with two-tone hair. I was a hippy with the jeans and fringe jacket and shit. I was all that, I was living it. When I played reggae, I was Rasta. That’s why it comes through in the music, because I live it. I don’t emulate it, because I have the pedigree. I could play bass for Metallica or the Wailers. I could do it because I’ve lived these things. Some cats if you don’t live it, your style isn’t going to be bona-fide enough to play with them. Like if you don’t know shit about rock you won’t be able to play bass with a good hard rock band. If you haven’t lived with the culture, you’re not going to be able to play real (Jamaican accent) Rub-a-dub bass.
So you guys are playing the Afro-Punk fest. I’d like to get some perspective, so I’m just going to ask you outright, what’s it like to be a black punk, particularly back then? What did your family think? What was it like having this thing that maybe a lot of people around you couldn’t relate to?
That goes back to that thing we were first talking about. Where I come from, everyone had their thing, and I was the musician. Say were going to play basketball they’d say, “gimme pee-wee, gimme this guy, gimme Jenifer.” So, I played, but that all came second. Then when someone wanted to act up they’d be like, “Don’t mess with that dude, have you seen him play guitar?” That’s in any hood, what I’m telling you, white hoods black hoods.
My mother knew I was progressive with my music. She knew it was going to be a little wild down in the basement. I’d be playing Frampton Comes Alive or some shit. That’s in the hood where you’re supposed to be listening to Soul or Funk, but that music was a part of me too. I was exploring. Cats used to try call me a white boy because I was wearing leather pants or some shit. But all I had to do was be me. Once I caught onto to punk it was so fresh, and I knew the shit was real. When I started listening to The Damned and the Sex Pistols and the Buzzcocks, I liked that they were trying to kick it and they cared more about the passion and expression than how well they could play their instruments. They were going to rock that shit no matter what.
We were already trying to do a fusion type group. We were called, “Mind Power.” We were going to be thoughtful jazz-fusion. Then we discovered punk rock and we were like, “Yo, this is going to be Bad Brains. It’s going to be this shit, but it’s going to be this punk shit also.” During this time, Teen Idles and Minor Threat weren’t around yet. None of it was contrived. The first poster we had said, “The Greatest Punk Rock Band in the World.” It was because we had this book and it was all about PMA (positive mental attitude) and the book was telling us we had to project that positivity. So before we even played it was like, “We got that PMA Ahhhh! We’re the best!”
PMA was a big thing. One of my favorite local bands growing up was called The Degenerics, and the Bad Brains was one of their big influences and they sung about PMA all the time. A lot of people that I know sort took that on. So to what extent is PMA still an important thing to you.
What that is, is a spiritual connection. It’s about staying positive and always looking to the bright side. Mostly it’s just simple things, stay positive, don’t be a downer. Don’t be afraid of obstacles. There’s always going to be trials, you know? When I first started talking about PMA, when I was a teenager, my father asked me about it. He said, “Boy what’s that PMA you’ve been talking about?”
I said, “If something goes wrong, I’m not going to start freaking out and running, around. I’m going to start thinking positive and making the right moves.” It’s about composure in life and staying positive and knowing that, and this is where the faith comes in, but knowing that the Great Spirit’s got you. A lot of people reach an obstacle and they put their head down and turn back. They don’t have the fighting spirit. Like they say, when one door closes, two open. Because it’s so easy to say, “fuck it.” PMA is all about having a positive mental attitude, and it came from this book called, Think and Grow Rich. But the more I look at it, being a spiritual cat, the more I realize that Bad Brains was a tool for god to help certain youths. Like you said about your friends. It wasn’t us. It was the Great Spirit using this band to let people know that it’s okay to keep that PMA. Like with Beastie Boys rapping, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers playing funk, the Bad Brains playing punk, it’s like god mixing up his little stew to show the world, to spread it out and have more versatility.
One time I saw this dude and he’s following me. So I go into the bathroom and when I get out he’s waiting for me and he says, “Mr. Jenifer,” and I’m like, “Whoa, nobody calls me that.” He goes, “I just wanted to thank you and your band because I used to be a racist and an asshole and your music changed my outlook and now I have a family and a kid, and I want to thank you for making positive music, positive punk rock.” Now, my mother would’ve said, “How you going to help someone with something that sounds like this? How do you inspire someone with this fast erratic music?” But for some people, that’s their flavor. Eventually I learned that this PMA thing was The Great Spirit, and that I needed to be into that, to find this.
You’ve been mentioning spirituality a lot. Where are you at now with your spiritual life? What truths do you feel you’ve discovered?
Be patient. That’s what you’ll learn from the OG’s, patience. Being a spiritual cat, I think about like this oil spill thing, and what came to mind was, god runs things, things don’t run god. Jah runs things, things don’t run Jah. I’m just here on earth. It’s just something beyond man. We just have to live it, and if you’re spiritual, give thanks and praise daily, if you’re an artist, be creative. Be positive and progressive and kind, in whatever you do. You just have to wait on The Great Spirit and have faith. I’m not saying nothing like, just don’t help, don’t do anything. There’s always a positive bright future. That might sound too idealistic and dreamy but what do you want me to say? The world is coming to an end? The oil’s going to fill up everything and the world is going to end in 2012?
I got to ask you this because I think it’s important. You’ll be playing this weekend and at the same time the Gay Pride Parade will be going on in the city. A lot of people have written about and speculated on the whether the Bad Brains are homophobic or anti-gay. I was hoping you could address that and tell me exactly why the controversy exists, maybe put it to rest.
Check it out. All the things I’ve been telling you about the road and path of The Bad Brains, there was an era that lead into us discovering Rasta and Jah, and these things that were part of us being black and recognizing this part of our culture. Like with anything, say you’re a young Krishna, there’s a tendency to be over-zealous. We were over-zealous in our views about homosexuality, due to our ignorance, and the fact that we hadn’t matured to a certain level. Just like anyone getting into anything. Every member of The Bad Brains are loving and we have nothing against any of god’s creatures. In our growth and in trying to become wise and see life for what it is, without judgment, we went through a time where we did judge. Anyone can remember a time and say, “oh you remember when I was like that.” A doctor can say, “Remember when I first worked the ER and was all nervous and people were looking at me when I was crazy.” So when you’re coming in as a young Rasta and discovering it, just like in Christianity, homosexuality isn’t accepted. So being young Rasta and studying the religion that’s what you see. But if you still continue to study and mature you’ll find other texts that say, “love all god’s creatures.” So you can’t just make your own thing and say, “This guys black, or this guys homosexual, I don’t like him.” The Bad Brains had a period of time where we might have said some things. Meanwhile, we were in a band and were popular, so it got out there. But someone took that and ran with it. People that hated us for various reasons, people that were trying to be like us. I don’t want to call any names, but like the band MDC were the first to go out of their way to find something wrong with the Bad Brains. Everybody loved The Bad Brains, so they want to find something wrong with us. It happens with everyone like Tiger Woods, you get popular and people are going to try and hate on you.
So now, Rasta was born in Jamaica and the Jamaicans take the homosexuality stuff literally. But it’s about loving all Jah’s children, accepting them and letting them live. I love all Jah’s children. No one in the Bad Brains hates any of god’s children. So people need to stop hating on us with the homophobia stuff and think about it in a more mature, realistic way, like, “Yo, who are these dudes?”
I’ve seen on your Punknews.org, a whole bunch of people hating like, “Fuck them, they hate gays.” And I’m like, “Wow, that aint’ really so.” In short, no one in The Bad Brains hates gays, we love all god’s children. To someone who wants to hate and continue the rumor and put their energy into it, fine, if that’s what they want to do. What were going to do is keep a PMA, stay positive and do what we do, till the wheels fall off.
Soon after getting into the Bad Brains, I started to listen to a lot more reggae. Out of all the newer artists that I heard, I thought Buju Bantan was the best. He was passionate and had an amazing voice. All the reggae acts that got big in the US like, Beanie Man or Sean Paul, I didn’t think were anywhere near as talented as Buju, but the homophobia in his lyrics kept him down.
He had a lot of energy behind the music, but what people have to realize is, there’s different levels of radical-ness. Whether you read the bible or the Koran or whatever it might say one thing, but if it also says to love god’s children, that’s what I choose to follow. To me, it’s a higher way of being. I can’t vouch for it personally, it’s not my thing but hey, god bless. Some dude may look at me and say he doesn’t like something that I do. To each his own. It kind of bothers me a little bit sometimes that people run with it.
I thought you gave a pretty good answer.
The answer that I gave, I could be like that Salman Rushdie of Rasta for saying something like that. I’m saying live and let live, but some Rasta might not accept that. The thing is that there are mixed up translations of all ancient religions. But there is always The Great Spirit, there’s always that we should love all of god’s children. If you take the spiritual route in life, you don’t have to be judgmental. So that’s what I’m saying to the world. Those dudes on the blogs saying, “Fuck them,” they need to go chill. We’re not even saying, “Fuck you” back. We’re just saying, “We love you too.” Mostly, we’re sorry that we confused things back then, but we’re human too. We’ve experienced our share of prejudice, being the only black people in the club or whatever, but we put up blinders to that. You know, we might be touring and trying to figure out the next place to crash and HR runs up phone bill at someone’s house and they’ll be like, “Those N-words are acting up.” If we go to hotel and smoke some weed, it’s like, “You see what they do.” Then some rock band comes through and smashes TV’s. It’s a double standard.
I would think that you’d have an interesting perspective on punk rock. Since you’re partly responsible for this album that’s a staple of the genre, I’d think that if punk is doing well, you’re doing well. In recent years, punk’s been a big deal. So, what do you feel has been the best time for punk rock?
Well, punk is youth based music, so it’s always in motion. It may not have the same sound, the same clothes, the same tempo. But someone is always going to be young somewhere trying to do something different that’s radical and with a message. There will always be underground music, it might be different, electronic or whatever, but there will always big some kid in the basement going against something. So, it’s always in motion. Whether it’s a fuzz guitar or a clean guitar, or it’s fast or slow. I started to go really fast because that was the young people of my time saying, “Fuck disco! Disco sucks!” So maybe people will be like, “Fuck this hardcore, lets play really slow.” At one point the metal image with the Van Halen T-shirt was the corniest thing ever. Then the skate punk image will be considered corny. What’s cool now? The Jetsons or some shit? The corniest thing used to be the 80’s, then the sound came back. For rappers, the worst possible thing was tight pants, so they’d wear the baggy pants all low. All the sudden they started to tighten up and tighten up. Now I see rappers with the tight pants hanging off they ass.
What’s your favorite Bad Brains song to play?
“I Against I”.
What did you think of tribute that came out?
I just appreciate that they did it. I enjoyed it. All I can say is that I’m thankful people would even want to do it.
You guys are playing now. What would you like to accomplish that you haven’t?
The Bad Brains have accomplished what they set out to do. I’m a success. The band is success. When the band started off we, would have considered it a success if we set one person off on a path toward a more positive way of life. If we set off more than one, it’s even better.
It must be a good feeling to still be able to play shows, and to have your family see you out there.
It’s a twisted feeling. There’s always stress behind what we do, it’s part of the energy, there’s ying, and there’s yang. Like, I’ve got to play tomorrow. I haven’t played since April, but I’ve learned that I can always do what The Great Spirit sends me to do. They say, “You wan to go out there?” I say, “sure.” I make a set list, practice with my brethren, then we go out and be who we are. But there’s still stress. We’re all different people. We have our reunion.
The Bad Brains is like a mission. It’s like a SWAT team. Those dudes may love that shit but when they go out those missions, it’s like, “What?”
The one thing that really sets the Bad Brains apart from other punk bands is the positive attitude they project. While a lot of bands are into negative images, the Bad Brains are very spiritually oriented. They’re Rastafarians dedicated to spreading a message of unity. When they perform there’s a warm level of closeness with the audience and a total sincerity that you don’t get with a lot of bands.
The Bad Brains consist of H.R. (Hunting Rod), vocals; Darryl, bass and backing vocals; Earl Hudson, drums and backing vocals; and Gary (Dr. Know), guitar and backing vocals.
They originally started in the Washington DC area with schoolmates H.R., his younger brother Earl, and Gary. Darryl joined the band a year later in 1977. After taking a crack at jazz fusion they switched over to punk. Within a few years they had built up a huge following, playing in DC, Maryland, New York, North and South Carolina, and Florida. East Coast hardcore fans described performances of incredible intensity and called the Bad Brains the best band on Earth.
This year the rest of the country finally got their chance to see the Bad Brains when they went on their first national tour. The Bad Brains set combines both hardcore punk and reggae. Their hardcore stuff is something else. H.R. sings so fast the words seem to just rush by, and the band’s ability to play with tight precision and musical intricacy at ultra high speeds is amazing.
Throughout the entire set H.R. is an explosion of energy. He never stops moving. He shakes and jumps across the stage, leaps into the audience and finishes off the set with a midair somersault.
But how would the hardcore crowd react to the mellow paced reggae stuff? What actually transpired was a ballet of slow motion thrash dancing with lots of people on stage. Even if you’re not very familiar with reggae, there’s somthing captivation about seeing the Bad Brains play it. There just seems to be a sparkling, electrified feeling in the air.
Until recently there was very little Bad Brains material available on record. There was one single out on Bad Brains Records about two years ago, with the incredible, lightning fast “Pay To Cum” on one side and a flipside that’s best left forgotten. It’s not available anymore but fortunately “Pay To Cum” was included in the Alternative Tentacles compilation “Let Them Eat Jellybeans.” There’s also a good song called “Don’t Bother Me” on the “Best of Limp” compilation on Limp Records. Finally this February saw the release of an excellent 14 song cassette on ROIR Records.
The Bad Brains are currently living in the Lower East Side of New York City, but they plan to move back to DC soon and then go to Africa from there.
Right now they’re in the process of putting out a double LP compilation of East Coast hardcore, with lots of great bands like Heart Attack, the Nihilistics, Reagan Youth, the Influence, the Misguided, Autistic Behavior, the Necros, No Rock Stars, Crucial Truth, altogether about 25 bands. It’ll be on Bad Brains Records. Also in the works is a Bad Brains single, to be followed by an EP.
What follows is an interview with H.R. that was done March 20, 1982.
WHAT MADE YOU DECIDE TO MOVE TO NEW YORK?
We couldn’t afford to stay in DC. They wouldn’t let us play in the clubs, couldn’t really handle our music and audience. So we went up to New York because there was more places to play up there.
WHAT’S THE BASIC MESSAGE THAT YOU’RE TRYING TO GET ACROSS TO THE AUDIENCE?
Right now the basic message we’re trying to get across is that Rasta Far I is the true living God, and that the U.S. empire will fall.
LIKE THE ROMAN EMPIRE OR THE BRITISH EMPIRE?
WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR INSPIRATION FROM?
Jah. A big influence was Bab Marley, and Stevie Wonder, and a group called the Dickies. Do you remember them?
Yeah. A big influence. Bob Marley and Stevie Wonder on the spiritual end, and the Dickies more on the musical end. Because when I heard their music I said, “Gee it’s so fast, this is really bad!” That’s what made me really start liking fast rock’n’roll, which eventually led into hardcore, which is what we’re into now. Another big influence was just wanting to change from being a robot in the system. That was the biggest stimulant for me, cuz it was like my back was against the wall, and I couldn’t cope with the system. Inside I was really having a lot of problems, because I knew things were messed up, but all around me people were pretending it wasn’t. You see how today so many people are destroyed because they can’t cope, and they keep trying to cope, and eventually you just get burned out.
YOU DON’T FEEL IT’S REALLY POSSIBLE TO COPE WITH THE SYSTEM WE HAVE.
No way! You’ve got to fight it. There’s no two ways about it. They built their system on a shaky foundation. They have all these illusions of freedom, brotherhood, love, but they don’t have that, really. Now it might have started that way, but it’s not that way today. And to pretend that it is, is living in a dream world. And that’s what Ronald Reagan, and all those guys are doing, is living in a dream world.
THEY’RE TRYING TO HOLD THAT ILLUSION OVER EVERYONE.
Yeah! And they’re doing a good job of it too. Because so many Amerikans, so-called Amerikans, because really there’s only one true Amerikan, that’s the Indian, if anyone has a right to be an Amerikan. But those so-called Amerikans, they sit there and they’re applauding him, and he’s leading them right into the dungeon. And the youth can see right through that, and they’re not gonna stand for it. And this is where we come in now, because they’re fighting, but they don’t know what direction to take. They’re rebelling, but they don’t know HOW to rebel. So they just say, “FIGHT!” That’s real good, because at least they’re having the initiative and the will to say, “We want to change.” That’s better than people who don’t. And then that’s where we come in now, with a little guidance, and direction. Cuz if it wasn’t for Jah, I would still be just as confused as Babylon, until I decided in my heart to try to seek him, and just leave the negative behind. That’s what the youth need mostly, is a positive direction.
WHAT YOU CALL A “POSITIVE MENTAL ATTITUDE”?
DO YOU THINK THAT MOST PUNKS HAVE THAT?
I don’t know. I think so, but they just don’t know how to express it.
THERE SEEMS TO BE A LOT OF NEGATIVISM IN THE SCENE.
Yeah. I think the intentions are positive, because they’re dealing with truth, because WE’RE dealing with truth, and because we’re trying to expose corruption, and trying to show the irony of it all. But at the same time there’s so many distractions that the message is lost, in the blood and violence. So now it’s just really up to each individual to find out for himslef what he wants to do with his life, because everyone has the right to decide.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN LIVING IN NEW YORK?
Off and on, two years. I hate it. Because so many people are like vampires. The city is a vampire. It drains our people. They go there under the illusion of “the U.S., land of opportunity, capitalism,” and they just get squeezed and squeezed and squeezed and then they just die.
IS THAT WHAT YOUR SONG “FEARLESS VAMPIRE KILLERS” IS ABOUT?
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN PLAYING REGGAE FOR?
We always played reggae, we weren’t Rastas though. And then we became Rastas. That’s when our reggae became more intense.
WHAT DID YOU DO TO BECOME RASTAS?
We accepted Jah as the true living God.
THERE’S A LOT OF BANDS THAT TRY TO PICK UP A REGGAE ELEMENT BUT IT DOESN’T SEEM TO COME OFF.
It’s gotta be sincere, because it’s very spiritual, and you can’t fake that. You can’t fake the truth.
HAVE YOU CONSIDERED PLAYING DOWN IN JAMAICA?
Oh yes. I’d love to. I went there a long time ago, when I was about four, three. I stayed there till about seven, six. Two years, and I remember so many things about it. Haven’t been back there since.
HOW WOULD YOU EXPLAIN THE RASTA CONCEPT TO PEOPLE WHO AREN’T FAMILIAR WITH IT?
The Rasta concept is very serious. It deals with taking up the Nazarite vow. When you see dreadlocks on a man’s head, that is the mark of the Nazarite vow. However, most people don’t know that. Most people think you just grow your knots, and then you’re a Rasta. But see, you take on certain rituals and vows when you become a Rasta, and it deals with the Christianity doctrine, the Nazarite vow. It’s number six, if you really want to know more you have to just read your Bible. Now today, I and I believe that Rasta Far I, which means the Head Creator, is the second coming of Jesus Christ. Now the reason why we believe that is because of certain signs. Again, you’d have to go to the Bible if you want to know more. It’s in Revelations. That’s the book we use for our stongest point to justify why we feel Selassi I, Jah Rasta Far I, is Jesus Christ. It has a lot to do with blood line, heritage, and the true Israelite literature and doctrine today as it is. Because the people that are in Israel today are not the original Israelites. They’re of Roman descendence, whereas the original Israelites are all over. Some of them are here in the U.S., some in Europe, some in the West Indies, some in Africa.
IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU’D LIKE TO SAY?
Yeah. What I’d like to say is that all people regardless of their color, or their race, or their nation, all people came from the same place in the beginning of time. That was the first family, Adam and Eve. Every culture has their own interpretation of that story. And today in the last days of time, in OUR interpretation, the Israelite history, or the Holy Bible, Revelations shows us that all the nations will unite, again, and become like it was in the beginning. So that’s really what I believe has to happen, and I believe they will be the survivors, and youth today are gonna be a part of those survivors. And so if anybody really wants to know more, all they have to do is just read the Bible, and go inside. Cuz really, you can’t go to a church or a temple or anybody else for spiritual enlightenment. You gotta go inside, and so many people today always look somewhere else, and that’s wrong. If you really are a true Christian, or anybody dealing with any kind of spiritual enlightnement, you can see how hypocritical the church system is today, how it’s just a ripoff, and they’re false prophets. And everyone is like, not even going to church no more, they don’t care for that. So now this is a better time for us to really hold onto something truly spiritual, because we’ll be stonger than them. Right now they have the power and the money, but when you got your spirit, when you got your soul, you’ll be the strongest. That’s why, right now, I just try to show people how Revelations is really something a lot more serious than even those hypocrites realize. They don’t even know who Jesus is now. He’s come back, and they’re so blind, so ignorant, so much into their illusions, that now he’s come back and they don’t even know. They see living prophets, they don’t know. Here they are looking everywhere else. They don’t know what’s going on.
This interview with the Bad Brains originally appeared in Damaged Goods fanzine out of New York state. It was printed in Volume Two, Issue Seven, from October 1981. Darryl Johnson (bassist) was interviewed by Lylee Hanson after a show.
D- It was about three and a half years ago, Washington, DC, and we were all playing together. We were a fusion outfit playing Chick Corea and Stanley Clarke type of stuff. Then these guys started selling out and Stanley Clarke started writing disco music, so we didn’t have any reason to cling to them anymore because they are all sellouts, and we are extremist in a way. Like, if you wanna play jazz, you should play it all the way, like fusion. If you wanna play rock, you play extreme rock. So, that is why we play what we play. It’s no punk rock though…
Q: What is it?
D- I dunno… It’s rock, rock music. Punk rock is different. I think punk rock is stuff like the Sex Pistols. Punk rock isn’t fast music. All punk rock is really slow.
Q: Originally, yeah. But, now it’s fast in LA, New York, Washington…
D- We’re a gospel group.
D- Yeah, we are preaching a word of unity.
Q: What do you want to unite?
D- We wanna unite so people can come to clubs and go see bands and have fun. Not to come to a club all drunk and qualluded out. The whole scene is negative.
Q: I thought that your uniting would be a larger level.
D- Yeah. That too, but with the immediate, what’s right there, so people that are here can get into what we’re saying. But with creation, I’d like to see all men unite. Black, white, regardless of color, that is the whole main purpose. What we mainly want to see happening is a positive attitude. If everybody was cool, everything would be cool. Unfortunately, everyone is into this negative trip. It’s not hard to do. People would think I sound sort of hippyish, but it’s not hard at all. It’s like people going out and trying to hurt someone. If anyone stays in their own track of life in a positive way, everything would be cool.
Q: It’s great that you wanna “unite”, but do you often meet people who are racist and who do not want to see things united?
D- Twice. Once at CBGBs. People in the back were saying- “niggers, fucking niggers.” They got thrown out. And once in Virginia. I think it’s pretty funny when people act like that, they have to. It’s exciting. They see it as something they have to lower themselves to do, say, try, and see if we react. I think it’s funny when people do that. I can’t take it seriously. We’re from the South, and I’m used to it to some degree. I know how it is to walk into a place, feeling, knowing that I’m black. It’s not an issue. A lot of places we play, we’re the only black faces in the place. That’s cool.
Q: Where have you played?
D- Virginia Beach, North Carolina.
Q: Why did you leave DC?
D- Because there is just no use in staying there. It’s boring. If I live in DC and work in DC, then it becomes this whole big boredom scene.
Q: Didn’t you go to England?
D- We went to England October 3rd and 4th, 1979 to tour with the Damned. We left NYC. We sold our equipment to get plane tickets, and our guitars got ripped off. We flew to England, the country officials wouldn’t let us in because we didn’t have the proper working papers.
Q: What direction are you gonna take your material?
D- I wanna take it to a really, really, really heavy energy thing and really clarify it. If we can take it to a stake where like a progressive rock thing, but it is really intense, really, really fast, only a lot of things going on. I’m totally against that one, two chord bullshit. There is a way you can do it- play one note, play one chord, and make the song sound great.
Q: Your songs don’t seem to have heavy choruses.
D- Our songs are one off. They start, things happen to the song, and then, it stops- instead of trying to link you into a certain part of the song.
Q: Isn’t that what music is?
D- You gotta break some rules…
Fred Mascherino of The Color Fred takes time out during his acoustic tour to talk about his new acoustic EP (The Intervention), how he uses Takamine guitars and a bit about being on the road for an acoustic tour.
Terrible Things is a collaboration of Fred Mascherino (Taking Back Sunday), Andy Jackson (Hot Rod Circuit) and Josh Eppard Coheed and Cambria – each a rock all-star in his own right. We had a chance to talk to Fred and Andy about the concept and development of their new album … and got an exclusive look and listen of some of the new tracks.
PropertyOfZack had the chance to interview Andy Jackson (Terrible Things, ex-Hot Rod Circuit) for his solo project, Death In The Park. Andy and I discussed Death In The Park’s debut, self-titled, Terrible Things, and his time on Warped Tour this year. Andy was an incredibly nice guy, so make sure you read up and give a listen to Death In The Park’s new album!
You’ve been quite a busy man for the past 9 months to a year. Not only did you and Fred Mascherino create Terrible Things, but you are now releasing Death In The Park’s first record. Has it been stressful at all?
Not really cause we made the record before I even started all of this, with the Terrible Things, so it’s just kind of been sitting there. So if there was any stress, it just might have been thinking that it might not ever come out. Eventually, we did pretty well with the EP and everything and the label decided they wanted to put the record out.
How long has the album been waiting around to be released?
Almost going on two years now. Cause it was basically the end of ’07—that was the last of Hot Rod Circuit, and that’s when I started doing Death In The Park, and I had a lot of those songs written towards the end of Hot Rd Circuit. And we just went right on in and recorded the record, and we took a little while to mix it, and it’s been sitting there for a while. It just got mastered recently and putting it out sounds great, and I’m just really excited to put it out.
The idea for Death In The Park was created after 2007’s Warped Tour, for fans that don’t know, can you go into further detail about what exactly the idea behind the creation was?
Well first it was – I knew that Hot Rod was going to come to and end, so I started the idea of working on something new because I didn’t want to continue the band without Kasey (?) our guitar player—he started the band with me. And I just started writing some songs, and initially it was my solo contract: I had written about 4 or 5 of those songs by myself and played the drums and bass and guitar—everything on the record. And Ronnie was our sound guy—he works for Paramore as well—and we became really good friends and he was like, “Man if you ever want to do this stuff and have a guitar player I’d really love to play.” And kind of from there it just kind of slowly became a band. Pete started playing with me, then Derrick then Aaron the drummer and then we picked up Joe from Hot Rod Circuit who had played bass on the record. And then later Joe left to pursue with another band and we picked up this guy Jake who is actually playing with Terrible Things now.
And we have heard some of the tracks on the album which were previously on the EP. So all of these songs that were written at the same time as the EP and none of them are newer?
Pretty much. It was kind of all recorded at the same time. It was like we did the acoustic track, and I think there’s only two songs—two full versions—on the record, but they’re actually different mixes and different mastering too. And then we rereleased those two tracks and then everything else is everything that we recorded in that session.
How was the writing process different on this and than it used to be in Hot Rod Circuit or than it is currently in Terrible Things?
Well, a lot of Hot Rod Circuit, I had a lot of control of you know, writing the songs and the material, but I didn’t write all of lead guitar. So you know in Death In The Park, I took total control of writing the guitar and the vocals and the keyboard and the – you know, writing all the different melodies to keep it together.
And is that a cool different kind of feel to be able to not only have your own project but also to be able to control every aspect in your own way?
Yeah, it is, and at the same time, you know, Derrick, Ronnie, and Aaron have contributed stuff towards the end, and then as the band started writing stuff together, too, because once they kind of got the knack of the band and they started writing their own little versions of things, that worked well. So I think in the future there will be a lot more writing together for Death In The Park. But what you’re hearing now it’s pretty much all me. Aaron played drums and Joe (?) played bass and I played all the guitar and did all the vocals.
So can we expect Death In The Park to continue on after this release?
Yeah, I think it will. You know right now obviously the main focus on what I’m doing right now is with Terrible Things which is what I’m touring for and we’ve got a big push and things are going well, but definitely any downtime that I can use—I mean, we’re already talking about doing some stuff now. So trying to get some kind of touring involved and you know, we had a few tours we did, we took it seriously, and this happened and everybody else went their separate ways to do their jobs and stuff, but we’re definitely excited to get out and play new songs and actually make another record as well.
So might we see any tour dates then, and Terrible Things are doing a tour with Mae, but could we see anything by the end of the year?
I would think so. We were trying to throw something together for this thing in September but I don’t think it’s going to happen. Terrible Things is still out—we just finished up Warped the other day and we start up with Circa Survive tomorrow, so we’re staying pretty busy. But assuming I find some downtime, I personally think that it would be—the way it’s looking for touring—it’d probably be something towards the end of the year or the beginning of the year next year to like actually do a full tour.
So far two new songs, “Sway” and “How Much Is Too Much”, have been released on a streams. How has the reaction been so far to them?
So far everything I’ve seen or read or uh, ha, my fiancée kind of keeps up on stuff for me—she’ll be like oh you got this review. But yeah, things have been pretty cool so far. And you know we did a couple of the songs acoustic on Warped Tour as well and those seemed to go over pretty good.
Can you tell us the story about your favorite song on the record?
Well, favorite song—I mean, really, my favorite song on that release is “Pitifully Exposed” I like that; it’s on the EP too. I just—I think I hit something really cool with that song and I just dug it. Like getting into details of what it’s about is a whole other story. But just musically the way it came across and together—I was just really into that song a lot.
So do you have any points in mind where you’d like to start doing more songs for the project in the next year or two?
Yes, and as a matter of fact there are some already written. There’s a couple of tracks that Aaron and Ronnie had worked out that were kind of—I don’t want to say like super heavy, but I guess in a way kinda had a really dark, heavy side to them. It was kind of weird—still retaining what we were doing but they were a little—a lot—heavier. I don’t know how to really say it. [Laughs]. Not like metal or anything, just really raw I guess. Kind of like a heavy Queen Of the Stone Age or something kind of feel.
And then regarding Terrible Things: how was the short run on Warped Tour?
It was good. We were in a van, and we were only on for eight days…we all thought it was going to be a little easier. We’ve all done it in buses and RVs and stuff before
POZ: It was hot!
Yeah, ha, it was pretty wild to do it in a van. I lost my voice a few days in, just getting it back now. But we had a really good time. Fans were—especially towards the end there I think we were figuring out what to do at Warped Tour.
Was it a different experience, beside the van stuff, this time being in Terrible Things versus Hot Rod Circuit?
Well I think in general for everyone and maybe even last year, Warped Tour has become something completely different anyway because the kids are so young that we’re even seeing that the kids that were there this year don’t even know who Taking Back Sunday or Coheed & Cambria is. Like they don’t even—we could have a sign and be like “You ever heard of” and whoever we say they’d never heard of these bands. And it’s a whole new breed of kids and you gotta just learn how to start all over in that environment anyway.
Is it exciting though to kind of try to break though into I suppose a new culture?
Oh, it really is. That’s what I’m saying: It took us to be towards the end of the thing to realize we’re really going to have to work a little harder. Walk out and you know handwrite 150 or 200 stickers, write our set times on the back and walk around and hand them out to people, introduce ourselves to people, and do it all day long. And that’s what you have to do to get the kids come see your music when they don’t know anything about it.
Terrible Things about to head out on a short run with Circa Survive and then play a one-off with Envy On The Coast and then you’ll also be touring with Mae on their farewell tour. Are you excited to finally be able to play shows with having the full record out?
Yeah, it’s going to be amazing. I think that’s’ what we’re all, all waiting on. It makes it kind of hard with no real record. It’s even harder to sell merch because people are more prone to buy your CD and a t-shirt but you’re not really going to buy a t-shirt from a band when you don’t have their music at all. So yeah, I think we’re definitely excited to get the record out.
And then pushing into next year, so should we be able to expect some initial Death In The Park and then Terrible Thing dates?
You definitely will.
Great, thanks so much for your time, is there anything you’d like to add?
Go check out the Death In The Park record and you can also check out our sister band Evolett—their record comes out a few—maybe this week or next week. I think it might be the same release date as the Death In the Park record.
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