Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Darkside NYC interview with Vocalist: Rich. August 18, 2010.

Vista: Hey Rich. Can you give a brief history of Darkside NYC? Year started, ex-members, what has been released so far & what's still available, etc.?

Rich: Alan Blake started the band "Darkside" in 1991. (We didn't add the "NYC" officially until early 1993). He called me to sing in the Fall of '91 but as it turns out, I just had throat surgery and couldn't even talk without pain. I thought my singing "career" was over (before it even began!)  Blake recorded a very metal demo with Jason Martin and Baron Misuraca, both ex-sheer terror dudes.  I got wind a few months later that shit didn't pan out with that lineup and Blake was looking a singer again--someone "more hardcore." I forget if he called me or what, but my throat was better and I was looking for something to do. Actually, my boy Zito ran into him and told him he better call me haha. I actually liked the demo a bunch, it was heavy as fuck, so I went down to jam.  I never even learned the words, just remembered the parts. I screamed nonsense at the right times and stomped around haha.  Blake said I should just write my own lyrics, so I did.  We recorded the "Suffer In Silence" demo in July 1992. Jeff was on bass and Joe was on drums.  Our first show was at CBGB's in August 1992. Sunday Matinee. We recorded the "East Coast Assault" track along with some other shit totally live in the studio in October 1992 and then 2 songs for a comp that never came out in December 1992. Jeff was now on 2nd guitar and Joe Heller was on bass.  We started playing out a lot more throughout 1993, even venturing out of state when we could. In late 1993 we recorded 9 or 10 songs for an "Ambitions Make Way For Dread" demo, but could never get a satisfactory mix. We tried to remix that fucker like 5 times!  At that point Baron had re-entered the band on bass.  (We ended up putting some of that out on CD in 1998, after we had been broken up for a couple of years.) The actual "Ambitions Make Way For Dread" demo tape was recorded in Spring 1994 and that was without argument our tightest lineup with Scott from the Outpatients/Deep Wound on bass.  On the CD we used "Bearing" and "Parasitic" from the '94 sessions and everything else from '93. So besides the demo tapes, there was a "Suffer In Silence" 7" which had 4 out of 6 demo songs, and an "Ambitions Make Way For Dread" CD/10" -- everything long out of print. There's more to say I suppose but I see the next question is talking about the new shit, so...

Vista: Darkside NYC has some new material coming out. Tell us all the details about these recordings, album title & what label  is releasing it & what format will it be on?

Rich: We just wrapped up what hopefully is the final mix of "Optimism Is Self-Deception - Vol. I" -- it will feature over 20 songs, most never heard before. I'm putting that out myself on Satan Wears Suspenders. CD/LP/Cassette/8-track. Hopefully I can get with some good distros. If everything goes well and I sell out pressing after pressing, and I can't keep up with the massive demand, maybe I'd even consider letting someone else release future pressings.  But after spending $15K on recording, my credit cards are pretty fuckin' banged up. I need to make that back before I start fucking trying to deal with people offering promises. I'm basically out of touch with everything at the moment. So I got no idea if there's even enough interest to make this worth doing haha. But even if there's no demand, too bad. I'm already committed to finishing what I set out to do. This is my music, my lyrics, my fuckin life we're talking about.  I never let a bunch of herbs dictate what I do or don't do and I'm not gonna start now.  I know there are at least a few dozen fans out there that have been waiting for this to drop. The only thing holding me back right now is I'm running out of loot! But I better think of something, cause then "Optimism Is Self-Deception - Vol. II" is next up. All the music was done for both records, but I still gotta sing Vol. II.  I'm also gonna put out a Complete Discography with all the old demo stuff. I'm real excited about the new shit. It's literally like a whole new chapter for us.  I think when people hear they material, they won't be able to front on us.  We took it to the next level.  Expanded our styles and everything.  Added crazy instrumentation. 

Vista: What's the status of Darkside NYC as of this interview {Summer/2010}, as far as you guys playing out live? Are you guys just doing studio recordings or are there any plans on playing out?

Rich: Right now, I'm focusing on finishing "Optimism Vol. I." and figuring out what I'm gonna do with it. We parted ways with our drummer Joe a couple of years ago. I wouldn't mind playing a few shows to support the record, but none of us have time to audition drummers haha. Oh yeah, the current lineup is me on vocals, Matt on guitar, Take on bass. I've been handling drums out of necessity when needed.

Vista: I know when Darkside NYC first started, you guys were just known as "Darkside". Did some shitty cover-band own that name & have some high priced douchy lawyer threaten to sue you if there wasn't a name change? When did that name change take place?

Rich: I predicted the existence of the google search and wanted to make sure anyone searching for us didn't have to sift through millions of Pink Floyd and Star Wars pages hahaha. I know there's a "Darkside" from Eastern Europe... either Poland or the Czech Republic. Death metal I'm pretty sure. Been around as long as we have.

Vista: One question I have been wondering for years now is, I heard a rumor a hell of a long time ago that Darkside got an offer to be on & record for Roadrunner Records but only if the guitarist from Biohazard {Billy} recorded/produced it. Is there any truth to that? 

Rich: Uhhhh. Talk about coming out of left field! Tell me where the fuck you heard that -- I hardly told anyone about that! Yeah Billy's real cool. I guess Roadrunner saw they were successful and figured it would be good to let him get some other new bands on. We talked a few times about it. I think he had good intentions but at the end of the day, I didn't pursue it. It was nothing personal at all, I wanted to self-produce our first record and establish who we were without having to worry about how a label was trying to market us. And not that I was volunteering this fact then, but we were also totally fucking dysfunctional and I knew damn well we would have gotten tore the fuck up! A band needs to all be on the same page before you go into something major like that. He ended up putting out a couple of other bands, and just as I suspected, they were very commercially marketed and went on to have successful careers.  I guess I was just not that interested in "blowing the fuck up" what can I say? But shout out to Biohazard if they end up reading this!!  I first met all those dudes when they only had the orange demo tape out.  I say it all the time, their 2 demos still blow away that Maze record.

Vista: What was your first exposure to the Punk/Hardcore scene? What bands were you really into growing up & also, what was the first show you attended back in the day?

Rich: I started going to L'amours in 1987. I was heavy into thrash metal but liked hardcore and punk too. I saw so many sick shows there: Slayer, Carnivore, Whiplash, Nuclear Assault... Megadeth/Possessed/Necros was one of my first shows! May '87...  Who else... Overkill, Leeway, Cro-Mags, Sheer Terror, Suicidal Tendencies, D.R.I., Kreator, Death. Everyone came through back then. In 1988 I started venturing out of Brooklyn into the city... places like The Ritz, CB's. I was like 15 and broke so it wasn't a regular thing--maybe once a month. Then I met some people with cars and bummed the occasional ride out to The Sundance in Long Island, Streets in New Rochelle. I grew up on classic rock: Beatles, Doors, Stones, Led Zep. Then I discovered AC/DC, Sabbath, Maiden, Priest in '81-82 and it took off from there! By the time I heard Metallica and Celtic Frost there was no turning back!

Vista: Speaking of back in the day, what is your opinion from the Hardcore scene from the 90's as opposed to nowadays? Is it the same shit, different decade or is it more of a shit-bomb these days?

Rich: I spent most of the 90's complaining things were much better in the 80's haha Nowadays I can't even relate. I see kids rehashing a lot of crap and other kids eating it up. You'll find me by the bar with my back turned having a conversation.

Vista: I remember reading an old zine article in In Effect Fanzine many years ago & it was a article that let kids know what was going on with the band. I remember that you mentioned that you had new merch available, etc. & you said something along the lines of, "I better not find out anyone is bootlegging my shit!". I always wondered..Was Rick/25 Ta Life bootlegging Darkside NYC material? Along those lines...What do think about pretty much the entire friggin' N.Y.H.C. verbally {and almost} literally killing Rick?

Rich: Nah he didn't ever bootleg my shit. I knew Rick before he even had any tattoos. I have no idea what went down with all of that but like everyone else I found his insane stream-of-consciousness gonzo ramblings highly entertaining the first week... But then something changed in the tone and it was obvious he crossed a line and was taking it too far.  I felt kinda weird when I saw a bunch of teenage losers on a message board all jumping on the bandwagon laughing at Rick. I stopped laughing when I realized the dude was going through a very public mental breakdown.  At a certain point, even though I don't think I even saw him in 10 years, I emailed him and was like "dude, let this shit go and get some fuckin' help." We traded a few emails and he basically went off on even more people to me... which I certainly didn't encourage haha. But he was on a mission from God! Then he hit me up to make a donation(!) Over the next couple of weeks, the internet insults got even more personal... Then his postings took a turn for the bizarre... And then I think they stopped altogether. Hey, I hope he's doing alright. He maybe pissed some people off, but he was always cool and respectful to me.

Vista: What are your thoughts on the current New York Hardcore scene? Is it thriving or dying? Also, is it something you even give a shit about? 

Rich: I don't put a lot of thought into any current "scene," I know the people I know and that's it. Yeah, I mostly don't give a shit.

Vista: Besides singing for the band, you also play drums. I'll ask because I have no idea, how well do you play drums? Is it just something you screw around with for fun? I think I read that you recorded drum tracks? Also, do you play any other instruments?

Rich: I'm pretty good considering I never really took lessons, I never practice and I usually consume several 40's while playing. I played drums in bands for a few years... most recently with my niggaz in Everyday Dollars. I even recorded some drums for DNYC.  My favorite shit is letting the engineer press record while I just fucking improvise. Then letting the guitars and bass track over what I just did. We have quite a few songs just like that on the albums.

Vista: Thinking back to the formation and say, the first year of Darkside..What were some goals or accomplishments you wanted for the band? I should also ask...What did all those goals & accomplishments all come crashing!? Haha.

Rich: I wanted to put out an album. Never got to do it. We're doing it now. I wanted to play some cool places, other countries, etc. Never got to do it. Maybe we will, But probably we won't.

Vista: Darkside NYC featured ex-members of Sheer Terror. How was Darkside NYC perceived by people in New York? Also, do you think kids were clueless as to what the band was about, musically?

Rich: We did pretty well for a couple of years, but then we never followed through...You couldn't count on us. We canceled gigs. We didn't come out with new stuff. Eventually other bands swooped in and shit took off   for them. Generally it seemed like most people were clueless. When we were doing death metal influenced shit at hardcore shows, we got the "what the fuck is this shit" reaction a bunch. Today, that's what everyone is doing. Go figure!

Vista: Over the years, did you guys ever tour Europe? I think Darkside released an album on a European Label at one point? If you did tour Europe, what countries did you tour? How was it?

Rich: We never left the East Coast. We had trouble making it to practices.

Vista: Speaking of Europe. Do you think kids over there not only support bands more, they seem to also stick with the music scene much longer than people here in America?

Rich: I couldn't tell ya!

Vista: What are your top ten Punk/Hardcore or metal bands/albums of all time? Just your personal, top ten?

Rich: Top 10? Could never do it. Wouldn't even wanna try haha. I could give you a "100 Awesome Bands You Should Be Ashamed Of Yourself For Not Knowing About" list. But it wouldn't even be a "top 100" list, just who I thought of first. I'd probably even cheat and look at my itunes while I did it. Every CD I own is in there now, and I very recently discovered blogs.  Gonna start working on tapes one of these days.
Ya know what. Fuck itunes. How 'bout:
The Abused
Urban Waste
Major Conflict
Bad Brains
Dead Kennedys
Minor Threat
Negative Approach
Rest In Pieces
Black Flag
Celtic Frost
The Clash
Suicidal Tendencies
4 Skins
and ehh fuckin 'ell -- Skrewdriver, even though I is black.

Vista: Tell us about the actual writing and recording process for the new Darkside NYC release? How the hell did you guys record 45 new songs & hope you got a good deal from the recording studio!?

Rich: Well here's what we did. We took all the old demo songs and recorded those again. Figured it would be nice to hear em sounding awesome finally. We wrote some new ones when we started playing again in '07 and '08, so those of course got recorded. And I had a few up my sleeve that had been simmering for between 10 and 20 years. A couple going back all the way to '92... So it is with great satisfaction that I finally get to hear these fuckin things playing out of real speakers after they have been on repetitive loops in my head forever. That's I think about 23, 24 songs.  Then on the spot we banged out a couple dozen more. A lotta punk rock, some thrash, some death. Even one that sounds like rockabilly haha. When I say on the spot I literally mean that. The red light is on. The engineer says "rolling"... I take a swig of beer and start laying out beats, usually being minimally conscious that there is such a thing as a verse and a chorus. Usually the songs were too short to matter. I finish one and in like 5 seconds another idea enters my brain so I start playing that. In about 15 minutes I'm done. We retrack all the guitar and bass parts cause those niggaz actually have no idea what I'm doing or am about to do next hahah but we actually end up using about half of the riffs anyway. The rest are written as they are tracked. It's a fun way to do it I think.
Vista: The new songs are much different than the older ones. The newer ones are much harsher & more extreme in style. Does that reflect that you guys have had band member changes or was/is it more of a reaction or a statement to what is going on with the Hardcore scene these days?

Rich: I don't think there was any reaction to anything going on currently. I'm so far removed from all of that, and not even curious who's doing what anymore. We already had a bunch of heavy slow to mid tempo metallic hardcore songs from before, so we really didn't need to write more of those for these sessions. What me and Matt both felt were lacking was some really fast stuff, crusty punk and extreme grind. I was stoked to go up and just get nuts! And we also agreed we needed to branch out and incorporate some other styles of punk hardcore and metal we are into. I wasn't afraid of trying a couple in a more melodic direction either. So we did that too. Anyone who complains or tries to say we changed or "turned gay" can go fuck themselves, cause we got so extreme on other songs anyway. Each record's gonna be like an hour long. If there's one or two you don't like, hit the skip button. Every song has it's own style. You know how easy it would have been to write 10 more songs in the exact same vein as our demos? Nigga, please. I can write songs in my sleep. I remember watching some show about 2 pac and some producer was like "2Pac could go to the bathroom and come out with a song". I can totally fuckin relate! In fact, depending on what I've ingested, I could be in there long enough to write a whole album side. 

Vista: What are your thoughts on the over-all Hardcore scene these days?

Rich: Like I said, I'm pretty much removed from it. I stopped relating to what people were about a long time ago. So lyrically its a total loss. Fuck your unity, fuck your angst, and fuck your finger pointing anthems. Musically, I can say that the bands of the 00's blow away those of the 90's. Today the kids at least do their homework, they get a hold of the old school shit. They have better influences. In the 90's, every hardcore band wanted to sound like... I don't know... Biohazard, Slayer and 25 Ta Life. I got so tired of hearing every band sound the fuckin same, I hadda take a hiatus.

Vista: Also, you've been involved with the scene for....DECADES! What have been some of the most ridiculous trends or styles that you've ever seen? Sometimes I ask this questions & most people say some politically correct shit like, "oh, I don't pay attention to trends"...But if you're actually IN a band or even if you have been involved with just attending shows, you can't help but notice the shit that fucks up the scene or just blatant garbage that is passed off as, "Hardcore". Example: Jenco Jeans, more than 5 face piercings, face tattoos, guys in girl pants, guys with eyeliner make-up, emo, screamo, bands who have booking agents but haven't even done a demo, bands who don't even KNOW what a "demo" is, thugs from upper middle class homes, etc. etc. Thoughts?

Rich: Come on you're counting grays I don't even have yet! Ok, if you count the 80's, 90's, 00's that's 3. And now we're into a new decade so...that technically makes 4. But that shit makes me sound mad fuckin old. What the fuck!! haha. I been going to shows for like 24,25 years. But I started young! I never followed trends, that's no politically correct bullshit. I just don't care about people I don't know. Fuck em.Me, I been pretty much wearing the same fucking outfit since I'm like 9 years old. What do I know about fashion? When you talk about piercings, bad tattoos, your sisters jeans, tight shirts, "guy-liner"? I don't relate to any of this shit in the slightest and don't consider you part of my world if you do. So I can't even comment other than to say "you look gay" hahaha. In the 90s all these kids everywhere we drove to wore these baggy fuckin size 50 pants with hems that were too long and that dragged through the filth, corny bead necklaces, they had their faces pierced and giant 1" wide corks in their ears. I couldn't help but feel disdain for this lame interpretation of a pseudo-counter-cultural movement Today seeing a 20 year old with a fancy dirtbag haircut and entirely covered in tattoos -- including the neck and hands!-- it doesn't make me think he's tough. It just makes me think of a bored teenager with access to a lot of his parents money. Yeah that's right ya fuckin' pussy!! 

Vista: Did you ever think that Hatebreed would be nominated for a Grammy?One that note, did you ever think Jamey would be hosting Headbangers Ball?

Rich: I tried to watch Headbanger's Ball when it first came back and I couldn't do it. I couldn't sit through all the bad nu-metal.  I got really fuckin' angry and had to shut it off.  These bands were so horrible it actually pissed me off. I could have punched the guy from Disturbed right in his face for subjecting me to that drivel. I ran into Jamey at Manitoba's a couple of years ago. The last time we hung out before that, my band was still "happening" and his was just starting out, so at this point our situations were a bit different - ha He told me he doesn't have any say over what videos they play. I told him 'that's good' cause I was getting ready to abuse him hahaha. Of course I understand the logic in him agreeing to be the host. He's in a band and the exposure was a way to raise his profile.If it was me, I'm sure I'd have been fired after the first episode for going on tangents about how much I think bands suck. They wouldn't even be able to air it!

Vista: Vocally, who are some of your influences? Are there a few vocalists out there that really inspired you to want to spend half your life in a Hardcore band!? Ha!

Rich: Back in the day, it was Brian Johnson and Bon Scott-AC/DC, Tom Araya-Slayer, John Brannon-Negative Approach, Chris Notaro-Crumbsuckers, Pete Steele-Carnivore, Jim Morrison-The Doors, Gary Hodges-The 4-Skins, and basically a mix of all the old school hardcore punk, death and thrash metal bands I grew up on. Nowadays, the same shit but add a bunch of old Soul R&B and Blues guys like Otis Redding, David Ruffin, Screamin' Jay Hawkins, Howlin' Wolf, and I dig some of the early 90s black metal. I have a ton more range now than I used to. I don't just pick up the mic and scream "rah rah rah rah rah rah... argghhhhhh... ooooooooghhh" anymore hahaha.
Vista: After all these years, what has been your personal, biggest accomplishment with Darkside NYC? On the flip, what has been the biggest, shittiest disappointment, band-wise?

Rich: The biggest accomplishment would have to be this new double set of albums. As soon as they come out. The biggest disappointment? I don't know, most everything else I went through. There's some serious competition there. Maybe a top 10 list is in order. It will include years where we canceled more shows than played, tons of shows we totally deserved to be on but were never asked, years where we wrote hardly any songs, any show where we kinda sucked live, or when I got so drunk I don't remember being on stage, all the people just not giving a fuck... I don't know. Our "legacy's" kinda wack. Why do people even fuckin join bands again? 

Vista: Who's version of the Cro-mags do you believe? Another question that I ask older N.Y. guys & also another question most people are too afraid or to politically correct to actually answer! Why, I don't know, both Harley and John Joseph have books documenting their time in the band. I did an interview with Harley in Vista #3 & he says his book is coming soon, so they obviously don't have a problem with this topic. So, who is MORE believable?

Rich: The Cro-Mag that's always been the coolest to me is Doug Holland. Always super fuckin nice, never any ego. I still say what's up to Parris when I see him, even though he's allegedly "hated"... He never did shit to me, so I'm not on any "fuck Parris" bullshit. Obviously the best Cro-Mag shows were the ones with John and Harley both going nuts, but I've had fun at some John-only Cro-Mag shows and been super impressed with how Harley pulled off his Cro-Mag sets.  Musically I liked Harley's War better than Both Worlds.  As far as all the beef, if it still exists... I think John and Harley should just fight in a fucking cage match and donate the $$ to some charity. All the internet gossip and shit talking was entertaining for a minute, but that was long ago.
Vista: Outside of the band, what are some of your interests & hobbies?

Rich: This is like - the hardest question so far.  I'm sure I'll think of something tomorrow I should have said! 

Vista: If Satan wears suspenders, what does God wear? And don't say, "there is no God" cause that fucks up my question!  
Rich: I never met the mutha fucka. He probably wears flip flops.

Vista: are there any current Hardcore bands out there that you are into? 

Rich: Nah.

Vista: Rich. Thanks a lot for taking the time to do this interview. I appreciate it. Is there anything else you's like to say? Also, I know your pretty much done with Myspace & all the b.s. ads/spam, etc....So, what is the best way to get in touch with you & Darkside NYC?

Rich: Thanks for reaching out. People who wanna holler at us for merch or whatever can do so at the following:

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