Since its inception in the early 1980’s, the New York Hardcore scene has always been a tough hog to tie down. Unlike the small yet organized scenes that came from other parts of the country in the same time frame, New York’s came from too many different directions–sonically, physically and philosophically–for an outsider to peg down the main objective.
In the beginning, there were the city dwelling precursor bands like the straight forward Stimulators as well as The False Prophets and The Mad who featured low budget though high concept theatrics in their stage show. Pretty soon after that, it was all about the no-frills squall of Queens outfits like Heart Attack, The Mob, Reagan Youth and Urban Waste not to mention the burly, burr headed pioneers of the Lower East Side, Agnostic Front. But then you also had Long Island representing with the Nihilistics and Satans Cheerleaders as well as the New York/New Jersey hybrid bands like The Psychos and Cause for Alarm.
Trail a little further into the 80’s, and you’ve got the crossover of Leeway and the Cro-Mags, the Peace Punks of Nausea, the working class heroes in Killing Time and Sick of it All and the Straight Edge crew consisting of bands like Youth of Today, Gorilla Biscuits and Judge.
The 90’s are an even bigger mess with bands as diverse as Rorschach, Burn, Marauder, Citizens Arrest, Crown of Thornz and Madball all buzzing around the city playing everywhere from ABC No Rio to Coney Island High in the wake of CBGB’s decision to stop having Hardcore bands play their venue. Shift into the present day and you’ve got bands like Brain Slug to No One Rules playing anywhere from Bowery Electric to a VFW Hall on the North Shore of Long Island.
Do you see what I mean? It’s an utter clusterfuck.
Strangely, the closest anyone has got so far in presenting the tenure of the scene properly has been on an anonymous Facebook page entitled The New York Hardcore Chronicles 1979 – 2015. The page is a virtual treasure trove bursting at the seams with photos, show fliers and set lists complete with priceless commentary from those who were involved throughout the scenes’ existence.
It took a lot of slinking and sliding and a lot of meetings in parking garages, but SOTC tracked down the masked individual behind the pages’ inception and got them to speak
Give us the basic info on why the page was set up.
The page was set up to create a platform for people to reconnect with the community and the culture of New York Hardcore past, present and future. It’s a place to post their photos, flyers and other material as well as engage in dialogue with others from the clan. Although I had the vision and created the page (One day while I was sitting in fucking jury duty) it’s a total group effort that involves many “Content Contributers”. It’s not “My” page, it’s “Everyone’s” page.
See also: What Makes NYC Metal?
Why do you think it’s important for this moment in time to be documented? Do you feel the NYHC scene has received something of a raw deal when it comes to the history of American Hardcore?
I think part of what has made the NYHC scene hard to document in the past was the fact that it was so large and fractured. You had the guys from Queens, The Lower East Side Crew, and People coming in from Jersey & Long Island. A straight edge as well as a non-straight edge contingent and so on and so forth; so it’s a lot to wrap your head around as far as telling a cohesive story goes. In contrast, the D.C. and Boston scenes started very small by a nucleus of people and moved outward from there which makes the story much easier to lay out. New York is a totally different animal.
The page has gained almost 5000 “Likes” in a matter of three weeks. Why do you think it gained momentum so quickly?
In a lot of ways for many people it’s like their “High School Reunion.” It’s a chance for them to connect with other people that they shared a very special time in their lives with, look back and generally make them feel good. It’s a positive thing. Also the page has many photos, flyers and other material that have never been seen and for many of us who are lovers of the music and that particular era it’s great that this stuff is finally seeing the light of day. That said, it’s just a fucking thrill posting this never before seen stuff up onto the page and feeling the excitement from the community. Also the page has no patience for nonsense so if anyone starts attacking anyone else and get nasty, they get instantly banned. People are just sick and tired of the negative, infantile, and pathetic nonsense that goes on. Talk shit = Get banned. It’s that simple.
You’ve already amassed quite a collection already. Are there any plans to do something with this besides a Facebook page?
The intention from the very start was to make a documentary film which is starting to move ahead. It should be interesting because it’s NOT going to be “The History of NYHC”. We are approaching it from a bit of a different angle. To tell the story in a traditional timeline pattern would be a 12 hour, 6 part miniseries which I don’t think would be particularly interesting since there are just too many bands, scene’s, sub-genres and the like. The Film “American Hardcore” was great for what it was but it didn’t really do the New York scene justice. It’s time for New York to have a great film about its Hardcore history and not just up until 1984 when that film claimed that Hardcore died. Hardcore, ESPECIALLY in New York far from died in 1984; in fact it was just getting started. Stay tuned. More shall be revealed.
What do you think separates NYHC from the other Hardcore scenes that were happening in America around the same time? What do you think separates it from what is going on in the rest of the country today?
Punk Rock started in New York City. No other city in this country can say that and Hardcore’s roots are deeply entrenched in that rich history. To this day New York has a very strong scene on a lot of different levels. A lot of it has to do with the fact that you can see a small show with a band comprised of 16 year old kids in a little community center all the way up to something like the Black & Blue Bowl which is a huge annual event that encourages bands to reunite for something very special. They don’t call New York City the greatest city in the world for nothing.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on June 6, 2013