Yuppicide – Retrospective
‘Do you know what a love letter is? It’s a bullet from a fucking gun. Straight through your heart.’ If said profound lines from Yuppicide’s song “True Love” reflect reality, then our video retrospective, covering the band’s complete lifespan from the late 80’s to the ‘last’ show in the 90’s and the current 2010 reunion, is indeed a raging machine gun operated by Trust Magazine’s Jan Roehlk. Singlehandedly and with a great deal of enthusiasm he conducted and compiled interviews with Don Fury/Producer & Recording Engineer, Pavlos Ioanidis/WreckAge Records and all four members of Yuppicide. A German translation of these interviews appeared in the June/July 2010 issue of Trust Magazine. Additional praise and thanks goes to Alicia Osborne and Rachael Guenther for their highly valued editorial services. This retrospective furthermore would not have been possible without the tireless efforts of Yuppicide’s own Jesse Jones, who alongside Patrick Baclet/Out of Vogue provided exclusive liner notes for the videos and also opened up his personal archive from which the retrospective draws most of its footage. Uncharacteristic of what one usually finds on this site, our Yuppicide video anthology features mostly non (((unartig))) recorded material. For those videos for which source info was available credits can be found at the end of the corresponding clips. Furthermore, please keep in mind that this project was started and completed back when a Yuppicide reunion seemed totally out of the question. As a result some of the interview questions are slightly outdated. Nevertheless, we decided not to nick ‘em. We hope you’ll enjoy what is the visual account of a band that changed the face of New York Hardcore forever.
[Don Fury | Producer]
In the beginning, Yuppicide was a cool, working man’s punk hardcore band. They had straight ahead themes on their first two records. It was natural for the band to record with me at Don Fury Studio – we were doing all kinds of New York Hardcore. The band were really good guys, and they had a good and honest attitude about their music. Like lots of bands, they had a hard time getting ready to record, and they weren’t sure what they would do with a new record. After we did the first EP – ‘Yuppicide’, I knew the band wanted to record their first LP. I bothered them for a long time – and finally they came to the studio and recorded the ‘Fear Love’ LP.
At that same time, Wreckage Records was a new label, putting out records for the New York band SFA. Wreckage was owned and run by my friends Pavlos and Amber. They were looking for good punk hardcore bands, and since Yuppicide had a new LP ready to go, I introduced them, and Wreckage signed the band. It was a good fit for both Wreckage and for Yuppicide.
Yuppicide had an unusual artist’s perspective that started to show itself in the music on the next records. The band was into body art, tattooing, as well as graphic art. They had ideas for the next records that were unusual for punk, and were musically graphic, cinematic, and theatrical. Jesse and the band made it clear that that was the direction they wanted to go on their next EP, and I thought it would be a great way for the band to expand it’s artistic style. Wreckage Records gave the band a nice budget to record the record, so we went in to record every idea that Yuppicide had for the EP, and we did them all well. That EP was ‘You’ve Been Warned’. It is a spectacular record, flashy and theatrical, and very unique for a New York hardcore band. We mixed heavy sounds and tones, many different beats and guitars, and used a lot of mic styles. We added cinematic samples, and the result was a record that could easily have been part of David Lynch’s film ‘Blue Velvet’, which inspired the record. The band took that theatrical and sensational style to their live show. Jesse is shown in a leather hood, dripping blood, on the original ‘You’ve Been Warned’ 7″ cover.
It’s sometimes easiest to make a bold new statement on a short record, an EP. Then that art becomes part of the band’s style, and the band can draw on it as much as they need or want. So when Yuppicide came to record ‘Shinebox’, they had the band’s original strength; a working man’s punk hardcore, and the cinematic and graphic artist’s strength of ‘You’ve Been Warned’ to influence the new LP. The ‘Shinebox’ style was a strong combination of those two influences, and that made a very solid, strong and unique recording. These 2 EPs and 2 LPs formed the core of the Yuppicide experience.
Later, the band returned for their final LP ‘Dead Man Walking’. It was mostly known that ‘Dead Man Walking’ was the end of the band’s recording career, and that was sad, but once again the band made a strong, artistic punk record. The band had matured, and the songs showed a combined style of heavy beats, vocal styles, and heavy guitar grooves, along with Yuppicide’s roots – punk hardcore.
As a producer, it’s very satisfying to work with a band over it’s whole lifetime, and be part of all the history and art. That was my experience with Yuppicide.
(In 2008 Don Fury built a new recording studio in Troy, New York. Fury is recording and producing, and is also mastering records for national and international bands.)
Don Fury | Troy, NY January 2010
[Jesse Jones | Vocals]
You are one of my favorite punk vocalists, with a most fun stage presence, kind of a mix of Jello Biafra and Michael Myers. What were your influences?
I have so many influences – I steal from so many places! I have a pretty broad taste in music and get inspired from all sorts of things.
Jello Biafra from the Dead Kennedys was a big influence on how I wrote songs – the way he assumes the personality of the character he’s criticizing. Also his story telling style was a big influence on me.
John Brannon from Negative Approach was also a big influence on me. He made eye contact with the audience, which is an effective technique I also used.
The first type of music that really gripped me was 2Tone in 1980. Madness and The Specials had great energy and stage presence and also have inspired me a lot.
John Joseph’s (Cro Mags) energy was amazing to! They were (are) such a sick band live – I think that first Demo is some of the best hardcore to come out of NY.
I hate it when you go to see a band and they looked bored, like they’re not excited to be there. If they’re not excited, then why should we be? You’re on stage – fucking put on a show! Also cliché posing is disappointing – you see the same poses repeated over and over, it becomes so boring.
I was very influenced by my parents as well; they worked in the theatre, one as an actor the other as a director. I’ve been going to plays since I was young and spent my childhood around actors. I was also drawn to things like Japanese Butoh dance – which is really freaky and worth checking out.
You are currently working for a media agency. What are you doing there? Is this a career you started pursuing after Yuppicide folded? Was Yuppicide a full time job?
I love it when people ask if Yuppicide was a career – it seems so ridiculous to me, but I guess some bands did/do survive off of playing. We occasionally made a bit of money – mainly when we toured – but even that only matched what we could be making at a decent day job. New York is an expensive city! You have to hustle to survive, so you need a steady paying job. Unlike Europe, public assistance isn’t something a lot of people do here. I think it’s harder to qualify for it here as well – and it’s seen as something derogatory! I remember when I was back in England I signed on for the dole, it was easy and why not? Besides, you could make more money signing on and working off the books part time than if you worked full time. That was not the case in NYC.
We played with a Dutch Anarchist band – they were on the dole. Joe called them on that hypocrisy “You’re anarchist, but you live off the State, can you explain that to me?” Fucking hilarious.
I worked as a bartender for many years, that way I could paint, be in Yuppicide and pay the rent. I could also tour and return to a job. You are supposed tip bartenders in America, please remember that when visiting!
Now I do graphic design, mostly web stuff. It allows me to be a bit creative, so that helps with my sanity.
Some time ago you collaborated with the German band Elision for a song. Now you have a new band called Mind Control Assassin. You are doing art exhibitions in NYC and even DJ sometimes. Sounds like you are a busy guy.
Ellison toured with Yuppicide and we became friends with those guys. We also released a double live 7” with them and Radical Development. Mosh asked if I’d contribute on a song recently and I was flattered. I hadn’t done any music in a long time and it was fun to do.
I do have a new project called Mind Control Assassins. We have recorded a 5 song EP that’s available as a digital release on CDBaby.com and iTunes. We’re going through some line up changes, but hope to be playing out soon (more information available at: myspace.com/mindcontrolassassins).
I’ve also just started jamming in another band with Joe Keefe from Yuppicide (on bass) and Dre Lockdown (guitars – an original Yuppicide member, and he also played with Warzone and No Redeeming Social Value) and Jason Killabrew (drums, from Caught In A Trap). We don’t have a name yet (always the hardest part!) but we’re having a good time jamming.
I still make art – mostly paintings and I show whenever I can. My artwork can be seen at ape2ape.com
I do DJ occasionally – but I have to clarify that I’m a novice, I play CDs and MP3s and I play what I want to hear (dub, 70s reggae, 80s Dancehall, Ska, Punk, Metal and some dubstep cross over stuff). I did a monthly themed party with some friends for about a year, but it became too much like work, so now I just do it once in a while.
Was it hard to refuse a Yuppicide re-union? I read on your Myspace blog that you were asked to play CBs with the Bad Brains
I need to clear this up! We’ve been asked to play a reunion show a lot. In the past I felt tempted but also felt you can’t go back, so let it go. Also, I knew it would take a lot of effort to get us all back in shape to play a tight set.
I went to see the Bad Brains at one of the last shows before CBGBs closed. An old friend had helped book the show and he said: “Shit Jesse, I wish you would have got Yuppicide back together to play this show!” and I was like “If you had fucking asked we would have!” The Bad Brains are one of my favorite bands of all time, I still wish we could have done it, and The Bouncing Souls played too – they’re old friends and a great, fun band. Being in the audience was fun too though.
We are currently discussing re-releasing all of Yuppicide’s music as a collection (including the demos, 7”s and albums), and also the possibility of playing a few shows because we are all really proud of the band and know it would be a laugh to play again. So who knows? Maybe a reunion will actually happen, time will tell!
Also on Myspace, you write very humbly about the influence Yuppicide had on others. As an open minded band loving R.E.M. as much as Negative Approach or Fear and the Specials, you never seemed to be part of the whole NYC tough guy scene. Neither did you fit in with the average Abc No Rio crowd. Could you be considered an entity of its own, both style and scene-wise?
Well I started going to hardcore and punk shows show when I was still a teenager. I’m 43 now, so that was at the beginning of what became known as NYHC – 1981 maybe. The shows were always really mixed – bands and audience.
I saw one of AF’s first shows, as well as Underdog and Murphy’s Law. I’ve known Roger in a very casual way for a long time and he’s the real deal, he’s OG NYHC – haha. He’s always been cool as shit with me, and has done a lot to support the scene.
I also got to see Minor Threat and Negative Approach and all the NY bands playing at that time. After a few years, I moved back to England for a year. Then I returned to NY to go to college.
While at Art School in Brooklyn, I met Joe and Steve and they started a band. I wasn’t actually in the band at first, I would just jump in and sing a few songs, but I did name the band – I saw “Yuppiecide” written on a building and I told them and they liked it – so we changed the spelling, and it became the name. The original singer was a Korean kid named Dave Kim, and he had some personal problems and had to move back to LA. So after a few tryouts with other singers they chose me and we focused on recording the first Demo. We were a weird mix – a rock n roll stoner, a straight edge skin head, a British reggae fan who liked performance art and muscle car driving and a beer drinking skater.
Then we started playing shows and the NYHC was in a state of change. I think it changed dramatically about every three years; there were so many bands and personalities. There was defiantly a shift in the attitude and the sound the bands were going for. I think a lot of the new breed of kids weren’t into Punk or politics, in fact they were more into hip hop, but they liked the energy of the shows, especially the slamming. They didn’t have the same political message as the bands that preceded them.
As a scene I felt like it was no longer very diverse, and was becoming more thugcore. Shows and Matinees used to be a gathering of misfits – punks, skins, weirdos, run-aways, anarchists, squatters – but now the punks were getting beaten up for looking weird! The songs were no longer about changing things, but about crews, and being hard, and the dance floor became much more aggressive as people start incorporating martial arts into their style (which is why I wrote Be A Man and Slam).
Now, I’m not saying this was all bad, the music is called Hardcore and NY is a tough town, but these changes weren’t appealing to me. So I started wearing make up on stage because I knew the conservative tough guys wouldn’t be into it, so they wouldn’t come to our shows and beat up our fans. We ended up straddling a lot of fences – we’d play CBGBs with an Oi band, we’d played Squat or Rot festivals with a Crusty band – shit we even played a biker rally (which was a mistake). Eventually, as we got known, and especially once the Long Island scene blew up, we got a mixed crowd again. By that time my performances were more creepy than goofy, but I think people came because we were a unique blend of multiple styles and influences. Even if you weren’t a hardcore fan, you would find our set entertaining – between my theatrics and Steve’s crowd teasing and the energy of the band overall.
The funny thing about Punk and Hardcore fans (and maybe any music that starts as underground) is that they’re very possessive of it – they don’t want it to change and they don’t want a lot of other people to know about it!
They also always talk about the good old days. And I’m no different. Things change and grow, but sometimes people copy and clone something so many times that the result is a poor representation of the original. I think we kept changing things and trying new ideas musically, lyrically and even in our performance. I know I’ve recycled stuff from bands I admire (both old and new) but I’ve always tried to put my own spin on it, to make it original to a degree.
You mentioned that when I asked you for the interview, that you just met with Steve and Joe for lunch and discussed a rereleasing of your back catalog? What are the plans?
As I mentioned above we are in discussions with a small German label about releasing our full catalog as a collection – it’s all out of print now, so we’d like to put it out there again. We’re thinking of re-mastering as many of the songs as we can as well.
Do you know what happened to Wreck-Age? Do you remember how you hooked up with your german booking agent Steffen Rose/Navigator?
Wreck*Age eventually folded after releasing a great catalog of bands. They really helped to keep the hardcore scene alive for many years. But it was never a big money maker for them, they just loved the music and working with the bands. We were introduced to them by Don Fury (who produced all our releases). We recorded Fear Love with our own money and no label, thinking we’d find a distributer and he told us that Wreck*Age had just released a SFA album, and were looking for new bands. It was a start of a long and good partnership all around. They also had connections in Germany, which is how we got to tour right away.
Wreck*Age introduced us to Steffen and Navigator Productions. He put up with our rock star demands and forgave us when we ate all his girlfriend’s nacho chip and chocolate (appetite inducing drugs may have been involved).
This might seem slightly random but do you have any comments on Youth of Today?
I never listened to them really, because I wasn’t going to shows when the Straight Edge thing got huge. Steve may have – he was the Straight Edge member of our band! I met Walter when he was in Quicksand (who I love) and I think he’s very talented. A few years ago we were on the same set at a gig – he played an acoustic set of hardcore covers and I was the DJ in between, it was a fun night.
We played some shows with Shelter. I was a bit upset at first because the purest in me didn’t think that religious hardcore made sense – but they turned out to be great guys and I realized I was being a snotty asshole.
We don’t really have beef with other bands, it’s not our style. Most of the time, the scene was really supportive. If we didn’t like a band we wouldn’t play with them or go see them.
There was one incident where a band we didn’t know was talking shit about us. We were both touring in Europe at the same time (an unauthorized split live 7” was even released!). I confronted the singer and he denied it. I was pissed, but in the end that type of shit is just petty. If you are going to talk shit, you should be willing to say it to some one’s face in my opinion.
You once quoted Goodfellas’ with “go home and wash your fucking shinebox”. If you had to do it all over again, would you nowadays quote from the Sopranos?
I still like quotes from movies, but nothing from the Sopranos stands out to me. Clint Eastwood has great lines. On the last demo we recorded I had a lot of quotes from the movie Falling Down.
Did Lee Ving ever contact you because you used the FEAR logo?
Haha, no, that was meant as a tribute – we love FEAR! I’m supposed to be laying down vocals on a cover of I Love Living in the City any day now for Hardcore Connection.
I saw Yuppicide play three times in Germany. Sold out gigs, everybody was dancing and diving peacefully. Did you ever get the same crowd response in the U.S.?
We’ve played some big show in America, but not to as many people as we did in Europe. Maybe because there were shows every week in NY, so it’s a case of less people more often. The pit can be a rough place, and some people are assholes. It’s a shame, but I think if people can be considerate to a degree – don’t stage dive boots first, and pick someone up when they slip. And watch out with all that Kung Fu stuff – makes you miss the pogo-ing and the circle pit. I’m going to bring back the circle pit if we ever play again!
When looking back on Yuppicide’s life span, what’s the most prominent thing stuck in your mind? Memories of tours, special shows? I for myself remember the strange rumors about a YUPPICIDE gig at Rote Flora in Hamburg, Germany, where people cut down electricity because Steve had a playboy bunny sticker on his guitar. I always thought that was a joke…
That is a great but long story. I forgot certain things, and time has erased some specifics, but I’ll do my best.
While on tour we played with a Metal band from Boston, it was nice to hang with other people from America after touring in foreign countries for weeks. One of them had a sticker on his guitar of a girl in a bra and jeans and it read “I love chicks with big tits”. Now, call it immature, but we thought it was funny – so brazenly bold and overtly obnoxious. At the time political correctness was running rampant and it felt refreshing to see a sticker like that. Political Correctness was an interesting thing at first – a movement to get people to see the negative implications in words we use and to rethink that. The problem was it just became another form of censorship and the dialog was lost, and this is punk music for fucks sake not Christian rock! But I digress…
We played a few shows with these guys and when they headed back to the US they peeled the sticker off their guitar and gave it to Steve, who put it on one of his.
Some time later we got to Hamburg a day early for a show. Our gracious hosts took us to see the Spermbirds and we hung out talking politics and music into the night, and generally getting to know each other.
The next night we played the Flora. From what I understand the Flora was a very lefty club and they have a committee that had to approve bands – no racist or sexist bands etc.
I had forgotten this detail, but Steve (the sober band member) has a much clearer memory – the band that opened for us were a Red Hot Chili Peppers style act called The Cucumber Boys (or something similar) and most of their songs were about dicks and fucking. Well their set was not interrupted, which in hind sight is very odd.
We went on, and played about three songs. Steve was playing a guitar with a snowboard sticker on it that had a pin up girl on it (I remembered it as a Vargus sticker, but he has the clearer memory). And apparently intoxicated women in the audience started heckling us, which is not unusual at a punk show, and not being German speakers, the insults were lost on us, but we were getting the point. We later found out that she was offended by the pin up girl sticker on Steve’s guitar.
During the fourth song the woman threw a bottle at Steve, breaking strings on his guitar. Steve was pissed, and so was I. Throwing a bottle is fucking dangerous, and it was a lucky thing that the only harm caused was to some strings. I told her she was a fucking idiot and we’d whip one back at her if she tried that shit again (or something to the effect). It’s ironic to me that someone that finds an image offensive will resort to a violent attack – isn’t that worse?
Steve swapped guitars, now using the one with the tit sticker on it. The woman in the audience went ballistic! Then she started screaming at the sound guy, who she obviously knew and he cut the sound – in mid fucking song!
We were so pissed, the only person who didn’t want us playing was this woman, the crowd was pissed too! So we tried playing but it was all drums, so we were screaming at the sound guy and so was the crowd. Then Steve shouts something like: ”Welcome to censorship! It looks like it’s 1933 in Germany all over again!”
I need to mention that Steve’s grandmother is Jewish and he was pissed when we went to the Dachau memorial (he felt such a horrible place should be burnt to the ground), but he gave the sound guy the Nazi salute to send his message home! The sound guy wouldn’t put the music on, so we gave up and retired to the back room.
I thought we might have to fight some people because of the Nazi salute thing, I know it’s a bit like using the N word here, but I figured Steve was allowed. So we emerged from the back room to find the crowd split into discussion groups, debating whether the sticker justified what happened. It turns out that the woman was on the board for the club, I guess she missed the cucumber act with all their penis songs!
Our hosts and new friends were explaining that we have a confrontational sense of humor, and that we weren’t dickheads. We were just really stunned by the whole thing. It got mentioned in Zap magazine and followed us for the rest of the tour! A kid showed up in Zurich (or some where) with “I love chicks with big tits” handwritten in marker on his shirt! We thought that was hilarious.
Back in the New York I was getting a tattoo by Dan Higgs in a friend’s house. I went to take a piss and there was a poster on his bathroom wall that had the sticker design plus a whole lot more on it. I asked about it and was told that that company that made the sticker was called Old Ghost Designs and was created by John Grigley who skated for Vision. He called John up who was in town from LA for a clothing convention. We met, became friends (he’s still a friend now!) and he sponsored us. All the dick and tit shirts I ever wore on stage were his.
All that because of a dumb sticker.
For me, Yuppicide was a band with great, honest lyrics while carrying a fun attitude. A political band, but not totally dogmatic, with a good message and great music. A great live band, good musicians, but no arrogant posers. How do you see Yuppicide in retrospect? Is mine just a fans perspective of a European kid that never saw all the money grabbing yuppies from yuppicde spending all the cash on whatnot, ha ha?
I think that’s a very flattering description, and what we aimed for. We broke up at the height of our ‘career’ so I don’t think we can be accused of money grabbing. I wish we could have played in Japan and I heard South America is off the hook! A German fan came to a fancy bar I was working at (that had Yuppie type in it) and was so disappointed to see me working there – I think it was his version of seeing Sting as a bellboy in Quadrophenia – Haha. I told him you have to pay the bills, and that you should keep your enemies close.
Can we except to see you again live on stage?
Well we’ll see, if the collection comes out, a tour may happen.
Any last words?
We really appreciate your support; it’s always good to hear from someone who enjoyed what we did. Without you, it would have sucked.
[Joe Keefe | Bass]
Most of the folks that run the zine I am with are in their forties. They got to experience the first and original wave of hardcore back in the early eighties, like Negazione from Italy and the first tours of the Dead Kennedys and Youth Brigade. So to them Yuppicide was already the third or fourth wave of U.S. HC and Punk, while for me it was the first. I am 31 and it was very interesting to see the oldies at Trust perceiving Yuppicide as an old school spirited band with a cool and new edge to it. What was the place of Yuppicide in the NYC scene back then? I mean you weren’t exactly moshcore, neither straight edge nor typical NYHC in general.
Jan, I’m so proud that I was a part of Yuppicide! When we started we just wanted to make music, to be a part of what was going on in NYC at the time (not all of it good). There was a lot of violence at shows back in the late eighties and many clubs stopped having shows, CBGB’s stopped having matinees and we (with other bands) had to make a new scene. We would play anywhere. We were listening to many different kinds of Punk, Ska and Hardcore bands and taking what we liked from each. I remember when we played our first matinee at CBGB’s, Jesse came out and scowled at the crowd (he can look pretty scary!). Then he had a realization that almost every band was doing the tough guy thing, we wanted to go in a different direction, so I think that combined with what we were absorbing from other types of music gave us a different HC style.
I always wondered who brought the “ska” parts or rockabilly edge into Yuppicide’s music. The bass on “jesse helms” or “have fun or fuck up” or “follow your leader” still is so kick ass… Were those parts your idea? I always get goose bumps when I listen to the bass intro on “fist full of credit cards”. What were your bass influences? Did you have any personal heroes as far as bass players go?
I have to give many thanks to Steve Karp and Dre lockdown (early Yuppicide) for showing me a shitload about playing the Bass! Steve wrote most of the songs and we would sometimes fuck around with the tempo, that’s the way I remember the intro to Fist Full of Credit Cards coming about. Have Fun or Fuck Off was me trying to write a skate/thrash song. We had a lot of fun recording that (made the lyrics up on the spot). Steve wrote the music for Follow the Leader and Jesse wrote the Lyrics (still gives me goose bumps). Jesse, Steve and I took turns with the art work, I drew the first Yuppicide 7” and Steve did a killer job inking it. I remember many nights flyering for shows on the lower east side. Pete Guinan is such a killer Drummer and one of the funniest dudes I’ve ever met, we all think of him as Yuppicide’s drummer. Jesse and Steve are awesome friends and I’m blessed that they are still a big part of my life.
Are you still playing music?
I picked up my bass again after a long break and I’m playing in a Band with Jesse Jones (vocals) Dre lockdown (guitar) Jay Rogan (drums). We’re having a blast and writing some good shit!
What’s a day in the life of Joe Keefe like these days?
Well, I have 2 incredible kids; a 10yr old girl and an 8yr old boy. They both love music and art and they make me very happy. I own my own company; Ready Set Inc. http://www.readysetinc.com and we build sets for fashion shows, advertising and various other things. I’m still making art and build custom cars and bikes. If I had to do it again? Fuck yeah! Bring it on! What a great ride!
[Pete Guinan | Drums]
Are you still living in New York City? What are you up to these days?
Still living in Long Island, NY. I spend my time watching the 3 videos of Yuppicide that are on Youtube.
As much as I love the early Yuppicide material, I feel that the ‘Shinebox’ record is the one that grows and grows over the years. You joined before ‘Shinebox’. Do you remember the circumstances why the old drummer Kid Lnych from SFA had to leave? Or did he quit? How did you get to be part of the band?
I love the first Yuppicide album…still my favorite to this day. My friend Arty from Mind Over Matter told me he knew a band looking for a drummer. He set me up with the audition and I got the gig.
Did Yuppicide tour the U.S.? How did the U.S. shows compare to the ones in Europe?
Not really any touring in the US outside of NYC and the surrounding areas of Jersey, Boston, CT…I think Maine once.
Did you feel instantly accepted within the band and by the audience? Or were you seen as the new one, the freshmen?
I felt accepted in the band after I tried to throw Steve in the trunk of my car saying “if one more letter gets delivered to that kid’s house it’s in the oven you go”. It was a quote from the movie “Goodfellas”…which is also where we came up with the intro and title to the Shinebox album. As far as the audience I don’t think anyone really noticed to be honest with you.
How do you like the ‘Dead Men Walking’ record? I think it’s a good one and above regular hardcore standards. Of course, ‘Meatpacker’ is a great song, so is the Negative Approach cover, but I was a little disappointed when it came out. Even though I can’t exactly say why, it has all the usual Yuppicide trademarks!
I liked Dean Man better than Shinebox. I never did a “real” recording before Shinebox and we didn’t have that much time so I wasn’t that happy with the overall drumming on that record. In retrospect I would have done some different things. I thought the overall sound of Dead Man was better.
Please tell me about Yuppicide’s song writing process. I guess Jesse always had this British Ska influence which we can hear on ‘Follow your Leader’ and other early material. Did he also come up with the lyrics? Who wrote the music, was it a democratic process?
Jesse actually isn’t British…it was all an act to get girls. Kidding but that’s what we used to tell people. He was also believed by some to be a Genie with mystical powers…I still kind of believe that one. We would practice in Brooklyn and someone would play a riff and we would take it from there. Steve had a ton of stuff and Jesse or Steve would have some lyrics in mind. No one wanted to hear my idea for an 8 part rock opera about journeying through middle earth.
How did the band come to an end?
We were sued by Michael Stipe for our R.E.M. cover and it wiped us out. We just got older and had other obligations and just called it quits. No regrets, no hard feelings at all.
How do you think Yuppicide should be remembered?
Hmmm….I don’t know. If we are remembered at all I guess that’s good enough. It was a really great time. Met some great friends and toured Europe a few times and had a lot of laughs. Sometimes I wish the ride could have lasted a bit longer but it was great while it lasted.
[Steve Karp | Guitar]
What are you doing these days, are you still living in Brooklyn?
I’m living in the suburbs of Central Connecticut: paying mortgage on a house, married (sorry, ladies), working in an office. I’m pretty much the person I used to not want to be when I was playing in bands… The person I wrote songs about.
Didn’t you play in a band after Yuppicide called 100 Demons or so?
I was in a band at the same time as Yuppicide in 1994 or so called FTE (‘Front Towards Enemy’) that sort of ran parallel with Yuppicide. That lasted until 1998 or so- but there’ve been some gigs with those guys since then. I did play in ‘100Demons’ from 1999 to the fall of 2001 and made it on their first European tour.
How did the scene change in NYC, especially after CBGB closed?
I’m out of touch with ‘the scene’. If you mean the hardcore scene- there’s a million different interpretations of what the ‘hXc’ scene is. I stopped playing in bands and going to gigs because I couldn’t relate to what the scene had evolved into, and I was the age where I could have been the kids’ at the shows dad and that felt creepy to me.
So nowadays you enjoy the silent life at home (which also has its pros)?
I still play guitar and bass a little, but I play all kinds of different stuff and I listen to mostly old punker stuff and real early punk stuff like Iggy. My playlist these days has lots of early 80’s punkrock/hXc on it: Misfits, Black Flag, Adolescents, Bad Brains, Weirdos, as well as the classics like huge doses of Black Sabbath and Motorhead. I’ve been on a big Clash kick and have been getting real amped on The Specials and The English Beat. My jobs take up a lot of my time as well as taking care of a house. But I also still do artwork for stuff and build model kits as an outlet for my ‘creative side’. I’m really into old British motorcycles- so I’m either poking around with my triumph or enfield, or riding them. Joe’s really into motorcycles too- he was into old school cafe racers since WAYYYYY back.
Was it hard to refuse a Yuppicide re-union in 2006? I read on your Myspace blog that you were asked to play one last CBGB show with Bad Brains.
I don’t remember being asked about that, but I’m sure we declined the offer for a very good reason. I for one have always hated huge shows with a million bands on the bill. I’d like to remember CB’s in a certain light, and I’d hate to have those great memories spoiled by some crappy experience where we rush around like idiots for a month to play 3 songs in a line-up with 300 bands going on for 2 days straight.
I recently bought a bootleg of some unreleased recordings from 1998 and the first demo on the flipside. Did the bootleggers inform you? Why have the great songs never seen the official light of day?
The 1988 demo was released- in 1988! We did those ourselves and sold them wayyyy back then. The stuff from the 1998 demo was something we did for us to see if there was any interest in our band by any labels out there. We were at the point where we needed to know whether we should move forward as a band and really make it a full-time thing, or whether it was time to just pack it in and move on with our lives. As far as the bootleg goes: With the internet, the songs were out there, so it just took some motivated and enterprising person to find the stuff and put it together. My hat’s off to them, whoever they are, for spending the time and money to put it all together. It’s flattering to know that some people still like us enough as a band to devote their own time, money and effort to put stuff on their own.
I always loved your guitar sound, especially on “shine box”. Not to mention the first single and “fear love”. Do you still listen to Yuppicide? Do you have any favorite songs or any songs you wish you had never written?
Sometimes I do listen to our stuff- I’ll hear certain songs from early on and be bummed because I think I was a better guitar player in like 1992 then I am now- I forgot how to do so many cool things I did on the first 7″ and ‘fear love’. I dig the stuff on ‘deadman’ a lot. If I won the lottery, I’d get the guys together and re-record a bunch of the stuff to make it sound really great. But the stuff is a record of who we were at those times. I was never super crazy about my recorded guitar sound. But it’s tough to get that live sound on tape.
Why did Yuppicide fall apart? I mean, good third record, totally great live band… Did you play a last farewell show?
We did many ‘last shows’! Too many! But when we did finally call it quits, it was time. The music was changing, the scene was changing and most importantly, we as people were changing. We had some big decisions in our lives to deal with, and we were no longer 18, when you have the luxury of saying “f* everything, I want to play hardcore punk”. It was always important for us to go out on a high note, not try and be one of those bands that doesn’t know when to pack it in. We wanted to go out at the top of our game, not as a bunch of washed-up losers playing recycled crap- or worse: be some 40-year old dudes trying to be into what kids half our age were doing.
As an open minded band loving R.E.M. as much as Negative Approach or Fear and the Specials, you never seemed to be part of the whole NYC tough guy scene. Neither did you fit in with the average Abc No Rio crowd. Could you be considered an entity of its own, both style and scene-wise?
We did our own thing- always. It didn’t matter where we were from, we did what pleased us and that was the main thing. There were 4 guys who brought all different things to the table, and that made the band better as a whole. We were friends with so many different people and bands, but we didn’t fit into any label or genre. You gotta remember that Joe and Jesse had been going to gigs for a long time and had been following all kinds of music. I mean Joe still has a scar from stage-diving at a DK show. And Jesse saw Minor Threat and Negative Approach! I looked up to those dudes because they were THERE. But also, we listened to so many different bands. I was really into Oi and garage punk, but I loved some of the mid-80’s DC stuff…and I worshipped Naked Raygun. And we all were blown away by ‘Suffer’ and ‘No Control’ when Bad Religion put those out. We always dug innovative bands, and in a way, we were innovating ourselves, for ourselves. We were blazing our own trail and not worried about fitting into anyone’s label.
Touring with Yuppicide…
I miss it! Of course the years have made even the crappy stuff look inviting. But it was great. We were so lucky to have the support of so many great people.
Would you say that the band’s success in Europe was similar to one in the U.S.?
No- we did FAR better in Europe. The U.S. is a HUGE country and there’s a ZILLION bands and many miles to cover. We all had other jobs and lives outside of the band, so we had this very finite amount of time, energy and money. And we focused it more on Europe because people in Europe came after us and made it very do-able for us. In the US we tried very hard to get our stuff out to as many people as possible- but it was a MUCH harder sell. Americans had so many great bands that they were loyal to already. I can say we were very lucky to have so many loyal fans and friends in our immediate area in the U.S., and they were almost always there for us. Europe had this amazing network of people and clubs and places to play- the U.S. didn’t have that.
I have to say, I am not a fan of tattoos, but with Yuppicide, everything was such a great puzzle with magnificent pieces: The band name alone, the artwork, the critical lyrics, yet not too critical. The “have fun or fuck up” attitude, the stage action, the live show and the tattoos!!! So for me the band was really unique and should totally be worshiped, ha ha. Do you get a lot of feedback from younger people who consider Yuppicide a big influence?
I hear from people every now and then and they say they miss the band and ask if we’re playing again, or if we’d think about playing again. Sometimes people will say they had a great time at our shows- and that means a lot. We did try very hard to always put on a good show. We practiced a lot, and tried to write good songs that fit into our standards of what was ‘good’. I don’t know if anybody under like 35 has heard of us- but why should they? They have their own thing going on now, so they’re probably focusing on the newer bands or their Wii or whatever. We didn’t put out TONS of records and I don’t think we impacted ‘the scene’ the way AF or Negative Approach or Minor Threat did or could. We weren’t trailblazers the way the real early groups were- we came into it having been into the older bands like DI or Discharge or Gray Matter. We made a conscious effort to do our thing how we wanted, and not just do what was ‘punk’ or what was ‘hardcore’. Labels like that can be restrictive, and we were all too creative to be restricted worrying that Jesse spitting up green goo wasn’t ‘hardcore’. We loved bands that pushed the envelope, especially intellectually. It’s one thing to be ‘punk’ and be against society’s ‘status quo’, but it’s another to question the status quos of punk and hardcore themselves. And we loved the Clash, loved 2-tone and reggae- so we put that into our songs. We loved psychobilly and garage punk- so it came into our songs. I love old iron maiden- so there’s nods to metal in there. We all drew and painted and stuff- so visual art was a big part. And Jesse is very theatrical- and it was great because it served the music, served the lyrics. Not just dress-up for dress-up sake. Hopefully we got people thinking about things- and wanting to draw or write songs or investigate the topics in our lyrics. We got shit from some people for being ‘too political’ and we got shit from other people for ‘not being political enough’. It didn’t phase us- we did our thing, and luckily for us, people dug it outside of the band.
Yuppicide was my first real hc punk gig, not counting The Ramones playing a huge venue in 1992. What was the first show you went to?
When I was 14, I saw Iron Maiden on their ‘piece of mind’ tour in an indoor coliseum with thousands of people- that was my first concert. The first punker gig I saw was Black Flag/Painted Willy/Gone at the Enfield Roller World (roller skating rink) in 1985 or ’86? I was terrified of the bands, but SO stoked on them as well. I had been into punker stuff for some time, and had been listening to old Black Flag, and Agent Orange and Suicidal Tendencies and had watched ‘Suburbia’ about a million times, so I thought I knew what ‘it’ was about. But seeing it live, and seeing people into it was mind-blowing.
Any last words?
Thanks for showing some interest in us- you can always send cash too.
[Pavlos Ioanidis | Wreck Age Records]
I saw that you are living in Thessaloniki, Greece these days, being responsible for booking a theatre. Sounds interesting and not far removed from running a record label. Are you originally from Greece and when did you leave NYC for Greece? How do you like your job there?
I left NYC basically in 2000, I’m originally from Greece and I wanted to spend some time there with the intention to go back to NY after few months… Here in Greece I met some interesting people and we started doing shows… I had fun doing this and I ended up staying here and opened a new venue with those friends… The venue is called Principal Club Theater and we book all kind of bands from Motorhead to Nouvelle Vague, from Einstuerzende Neubauten to Kaiser Chiefs, from Bolt Thrower to Morrissey…
Greece has a very huge anarcho leftist scene. Do you feel connected to that? Are you still a punkrock fan?
Since I started promoting live shows I met all kinds of bands, so I came in contact with different kinds of music and some of it I really like… Before I was only listening to hardcore/punk and was never interested in other types of music… I still love hardcore/punk though, I go to hardcore/punk shows whenever I can… This is where I come from. This is where I still belong…
The anarcho leftist scene here is pretty big; I know many people who are active in that scene, lots of them work with us for the shows.
To me Yuppicide, like their Wreck Age label mates SFA, was one of the most unique bands from NYC in terms of HC. Do you remember how Wreck Age started? What happened to Amber?
Everyone back then wanted to do a fanzine or a record. I was hanging out with Brendan from SFA and he was telling me that their first album “The new morality” was supposed to be out a year ago and still was not out!!! They already had new material and they wanted to go on tour and were waiting for the album. I offered them to do the second album, we went to Don Fury’s and recorded it and booked a European tour… We released the album a few months later and at the same time, maybe a few weeks before their first album finally came out… SFA and Yuppicide sold more records right away than we initially expected so we started releasing more records from other bands we liked like Bad Trip, Mind Over Matter, Madball, etc.
We had a great time working with bands we love… Amber was handling the public relations because I guess I’m a bit anti-social!!! Amber also wanted to leave the states and live in Europe, so we live together here in Thessaloniki.
Were you looking up to old punk labels like SST, Dischord and Touch and Go back then?
Of course I was looking up to the old labels like Dischord, Touch and Go, etc. They were the inspiration and they still deserve our respect. Independent labels are very important and it is great to see that they still go on. I am not doing records any more but I try to help smaller independent touring bands and support my local scene.
I often thought about the decline of Wreck-Age, such a good label, the right music for the right time. Europe seemed wreck-age-nized. ZAP fanzine covered almost all of what NYC had to offer in terms of HC. And they even had their logo on your releases. How many people worked for Wreck Age in the heydays of the label? How and why did the label fold in the end?
I think Wreck-Age (and Exit) documented a big part of the NYC hardcore scene of the nineties. All of the bands were very active either at the ABC NO RIO or CBGB’s or the Long Island scene. For some kids it was Yuppicide, for others Mind Over Matter, for others Indecision etc. The band that brought them to the scene or the one that influenced their own band. Wreck-Age and Exit were labels with their focus on their local hc scene from 1990 to 2000. Running the label Amber and I had help from other people from time to time, like Anna Goldfarb, Artie Philly, Artie Shepherd, Jay Nakleh, and other friends. We were also using independent p.r. companies for the promotion, when we couldn’t handle it ourselves.
The last Wreck-Age record came out after I left for Greece. I went back to NYC and I made a distribution deal with Go-Kart Records for the back catalog and a digital distribution deal with e-music. I thought the label can be inactive for a while until I decide to go back and do another release. The scene has changed over the last few years. You know, NYC has changed a lot. Lots of the people we knew left or moved to Brooklyn, then there was 911, more gentrification, “mall”-ification of the lower east side. Venues (like CBGB’s) were closing, even Don Fury moved away! It’s very different now!
Wreck-Age released all of Yuppicide’s recordings. How did you get involved with them?
We knew Yuppicide from shows at ABC NO RIO and we liked them. Don Fury told me one day that they were recording themselves a new demo at his studio and he liked how the songs were shaping up. He asked me to come over to his house and we listened to the rough cuts… I heard the recordings, I really liked them and I offered them to do their first album “Fear Love”. Yuppicide was a very interesting band, very visual, with smart ironic lyrics and quite unique live.
How was your relationship with the band, did it change over the years?
The relationship was very good with all the bands, we were friends. There was trust and respect from both sides. We loved working with them. We were trying to support them as much as we could afford. It might sound corny but it was like a big family, there was a small scene, a few hundred kids. Many of the musicians were playing in 2 or 3 bands, everyone was hanging out together. We were a handful of labels, a handful of fanzines, fewer venues, some record stores and a bunch of bands.
Which record / songs do you still like (if so)?
I like all Yuppicide albums. They are so different. If I had to choose I would say “Shinebox” because it is more eclectic, more experimental. “Fear Love” is more straight-forward in your face hardcore with a hard punk drive and “Dead Man Walking” is a very modern (still today) heavier ny-hc album…
What was your most happy label moment, what was the saddest one?
The happiest moment at the label? Tough question. It was a happy time those 10+ years, maybe when SFA came to the label, when the first Yuppicide album was finished, when Roger from Agnostic Front offered me to do the Madball record, many happy times!!! Sad moments I’m sure we had our share, but I can’t remember a very significant one. Don’t they say after years we tend to remember only the good things, and all experiences are worth it???
What strikes me the most these days about Wreck Age is the lack of web presence. There’s no homepage, no tribute page, nothing.
There was a Wreck-Age/Exit website. We forgot to renew it once and someone took the name and was trying to resell it to us. Now I got the name wreck-age.com back. I might activate it again for historical reasons. I just recently did a new page on myspace, so friends can find us. I still get e-mails from people and bands! They still make me feel great when I read how much these releases means to some people. The Wreck-Age myspace address is http://www.myspace.com/exitnyc
I like in a way that Wreck-Age/Exit was a local label for a certain scene at a certain time…
Is there any advice you have for people wanting to start a label?
If you ever thought of doing a label, you have to go ahead and do it. Nowadays it is even cheaper to release a CD. Back then the vinyl cost was quite high. We all spend money to do things we enjoy, why not spend it on a record. If you love the release you won’t regret it no matter if you lose money at the end.