Wednesday, January 30, 2008
Below is an interview i did in November with Steve from Uppercut. First heard this band when i downloaded the newbreed comp off the old contrast hardcore site. To this day i think they're possibly the most underrated NYHC band of all time.
First off who are you and what do you do in the band?
What years were you guys a band and what made you guys decide to give it another go?
1987-1990, 2005-2007. I was in europe for 8 years and got back in 2003. The rest of the guys were still in NY as were the guys from KT so we decided to do a 1 off show as a lark. it sold out so we did another one, then cbgb called and wanted us to do a closing show for them. everybody else in the band was and still are playing music in other bands.
What were the best/worst shows you guys played back in the day?
Worst show was the first at the right track inn, we had no idea what we were doing (arguably we still dont)...best shows--1st time in DC with outburst, sold out Rat in Boston with DI, crazy show in long island that got shut down by the cops with KT and Sheer terror. Lots of good shows, not too many bad ones.
You guys had some songs appear on the New Breed Compilation. How did that come about? Do you have an original copy you're looking to get rid of?
haha. I never even knew we agreed to that, I had no idea we were on it until 2006 when I saw it somewhere, so to answer part 2, I never even got a copy.
You recently told me you guys are changing your name. What's the story on that? Do you think you guys are going to keep the same sound at all or move on to new things?
We are not gonna change the name, we are starting a new band more in line with what some members of the band listen to nowadays. Lars is in a band called The Roughstars and is focusing a lot on them. Chris and Carl are both in Killing Time and also a band called Scream and Scream Again. Rob is in Electric Frankenstein, and i play in my one piece band in my basement slow and heavy. We are moving onto new things. Minds eye came after uppercut, that was us moving on in 1990.
What do you guys have in store for the masses in the upcoming year? Any tours? Records?
I'm singing for Killing Time in Japan and South Korea. We are working on a record for the new project. I'll keep you posted.
Who or what was it that brought you to the hardcore scene?
A friend of mine gave me a Sex pistols tape in 1982, I didnt like it, then he gave me a Minor Threat tape and i liked it. Been going downhill ever since. Seriously I was into Hip Hop and the early days of hip hop reminded me of hardcore, so it was a natural progression. (for me anyway)
You guys played Significant fest not to long ago in florida. Did you check out any new bands? Anyone in particular impress you?
We enjoyed The Mongoloids set, didn't see a lot of the other bands. I think Lion of Judah is a pretty unique band, we played a show with those guys in europe last year.
What are your top 5 hardcore/punk records of all time?
Wow, we re really getting into the nitty gritty.
Bad Brains-roir cassette,
Agnostic Front-Victim in pain
Black Flag Kiras got the 10 1/2
Blast -power of expression
The Minutemen-double nickels on the dime
The song "Am I Clear" has a mildly anti edge theme. What's the word on that? Were you actually straight edge when you were young and did you get older and learn moderation?
Good question, Am I Clear came out of a practice we had in dragos practice space. It was where the Raw Deal and Breakdown demos were conceived. Very simply, it was written in 1988. The youth crew movement was in full effect in the scene. I actually enjoyed those bands (youth of today, bold etc) We had Eric Fink from Side By Side playing guitar for Uppercut. The song was not anti straight edge at ALL. The song questioned all behavior patterns in the scene at that time. Lets face it, Uppercut was neither a youth crew band nor an alleyway band. We were unique to the scene at that time. We never believed in following anyone at any time. Personally, I think it cost us in terms of popularity at the time. But, in reality that is who we were. We subscribed to no scene. Am I Clear is a song written about that exact moment in time that happened to transcend the scene at that time. Many, many people took it incorrectly. it didn't matter. That song unlike any other at that time, questioned the scenes motive in a very low key way. Ultimately I think the lyrics and the aggression of the song won out over time...probably more than anyone in hardcore would like to realize.
What bands did you play out with a lot back in the day? I think i remember you telling me about a road trip with Outburst. You got any good stories from that or any other tours?
We played with Outburst a lot when both of our records came out on blackout records virtually at the same time. Uppercut had a pretty big following in the Boston area at the time so we would play in Boston with Slapshot or Eye For an Eye or Wrecking Crew. I don't believe Outburst played outside of NYC as much as we did but I could be wrong. One time we drove to DC with outburst to play the jungle club. Both bands arrived 3 hours late. All of the opening bands had gone on, but the crowd stayed anyway and waited. We showed up with Outburst and flipped a coin as to whom would headline. Outburst won the toss and so Uppercut went on stage. I will never begin to describe the crowd at the beginning of the show. The place went absolutely apeshit to the point that the whole band had to stand by the drum riser in order to play. The Baltimore skins were out in full effect. absolutely insane. it was the first and only time UPPERCUT played DC.
In the past there's been some pretty heated beef between the Boston and NYC hardcore scenes, did you ever witness any of these rumored fights? Ever harbor any anti boston feelings?
I think a lot of that stuff went on in the 81,82 scene. By the time i was there it was over. Boston HC was dead until Choke and the Slapshot boys put out Back on the map. Uppercut was fortunate to play a lot of shows with those guys all over the east coast. Despite the fact that we were not all straight edge, Choke and the crew made a point of including us on some glorious shows. When wrecking Crew, Eye for an Eye and Maelstrom came online, they were our friends and we never missed a chance to see some of the greatest Boston hardcore/Metal of that time. keep in mind the Lemonheads were going to the rat at that time to check out bands. Good stuff all around.
What are your thoughts on the following:
1. Rudy Giuliani-seller
2. Illegal downloading- buyer by default
3. the closing of cbgb's- seller
4. The New York Yankees-HUGE BUYER
5. Later Cro-Mags material-NEVER listened, after age of quarrel, they didnt have to put anything out.
Well that's about all. Any last words or shout outs?
Danial, thanks for the interest. We appreciate any new school kids who take the time and effort to learn the roots. NO SCENE/MUSIC GENRE CAN SURVIVE UNLESS IT RECOGNIZES AND RESPECTS ITS ROOTS. My advice is not to seperate the old from the young, rather categorize it and embrace the culture that has spawned from it both good and bad. where would rock be without the Rolling Stones?? If Killing Time is playing nearby or Uppercut or anyone from that era, go see them, it was a truly special time in the scene and the music that came out of it was important