No Answers #10

Interview by Kent McClard

Transcribed by J.W@lker for the Born Against Webpage

The much more pleasurable paper version of this Ďzine is still available from Ebullition Records. Send them an SASE for a catalog. It also features interviews with Amenity, Suckerpunch, and lots of great HC stuff.

This is perhaps the longest interview that has ever appeared within these pages, but Born Against seems worth it. As for an introduction, I give you Sam Mcpheeters, asshole extroardinaire... - Kent

KENT: My first question is, you guys have both the reality and the reputation for bad mouthing a lot of other bands and a lot of other people in the scene, what do you think makes Born against better than most people and bands that you bad mouth.?

ADAM: Weíre not better than them we just want to call them out on stuff that no one else will. We really donít want people to think that we think weíre superior to someone or better than them, but it is just gross when nobody calls out a band on their willingness to self-censor themselves or...

SAM: Punk rock shouldnít be about the comfort of saying, ďOh I have these certain friends of mine and I'm not going to criticize them,Ē or ďOh these people are my enemies and they might beat me up if I call them out on this.Ē I think it is very important to constantly maintain that level for stirring up the shit. Adam especially is the one who should take credit for this. He was doing things long before other people in New York, like a lot of ABC people, he was handing out fliers at the...

ADAM: At the ďHawker is HardcoreĒ show.

SAM: That was the thing that started it all. That was it.

ADAM: Let me make it clear that this was only the main thing that started a resurgence of people thinking about big label connections because before me there was... most people havenít even heard of him, but there was a fanzine called State of Fury done by a guy who was in a band called Urgent Fury and they just got back together, and there was another fanzine called Smash Apathy, and the guy who did that, the first one, Abe, and the other guy, Dan, both did the exact same things that weíve been doing lately, but they just didnít get that much attention for it. Dan did for a while. He boycotted the Rock Hotel and the Ritz and Chris Williamson and stuff, and there was a big controversy about it in the letters section of Maximum Rock Ní Roll about six years ago. He got thrown up against the wall and threatened by bouncers. basically it didnít achieve anything except inspiring us because the Ritz still has shows and they (Dan & Abe) have gone away.

SAM: I think it achieved what we achieved in that it made it into an issue, at least partially. Maybe weíve been a little more successful at making it effective. Weíre not trying to organize some kind of boycott of In-Effect or any other label. Weíre not an anti In-Effect band. I could care fucking less what In-Effect does. Iím going to hassle them as much as I would hassle any other big label.

KENT: On that subject, what is your main beef with a big label?

SAM: With a big label? I think maybe we have been presented as being overly dogmatic. My thing with big labels, I mean there are a couple of different things. Maybe to use In-Effect as an example, and this is only an example, just turning... with them it was specific ways in which they were turning hardcore into a commodity, very specific ways. The whole sloganeering thing, the ďHarder -Than-YouĒ thing I found really disheartening.

ADAM: There are other labels that are doing it too like Caroline with the ďOn the 90ís Tip.Ē Itís not even just the slogans, itís the packaging, the loss of control.

SAM: The fact that you canít even print the word shit on an In-Effect record. Thatís obvious, thatís obvious stuff. Thatís not something complex.

ADAM: Thatís not a lie. You can, but you shouldnít kick the shit out of us for saying that you cant print the word shit on your record, although many people would like to kick the shit out of us for bringing up obvious facts like that you canít print the word shit on a record.

SAM: Weíre not saying anything terribly complex, or Freudian, or out of the world....

ADAM: Weíre saying that this stuff was totally, totally taken for granted in the beginning of Ď83, I imagine. Even when I came into the scene which was a lot, a while after that, it just didnít seem... even the bands that were on big labels and the bands that seemed to make compromises or be the most popular bands werenít making compromises of that magnitude, they werenít doing things like that.

SAM: And weíre not trying to present ourselves again as... weíre not saying you canít compromise. Of course not. Weíre using vinyl that's made out of petroleum that the U.S. is going to fight for, and oh yes, we use Con Edisonís energy as pointed out by a couple of brain surgeons in New York. Itís so obvious, you have to make compromises if youíre going to be in a band.If youíre going to be a radical environmentalist I would strongly suggest that you donít go into the business of putting out records because there are so many things that you are going to have to compromise on, but at least you donít have to compromise your message to the pathetic sad state were you canít print the word ďshitĒ on your own records.

ADAM: Just by the fact that youíre born into this society, in some sort of way youíre sort of obligated to at least function or live in society, but nobody forces you to join a hardcore band or put out a record. So you might as well do it well if youíre going to do it. And all these people saying to us, ďOh you might as well become a bunch of fucking hermits and move to the woods,Ē I mean, to argue against a totally moronic argument, if we all moved to the woods there would be no more woods and then we couldnít be hermits and we would all build a city in the woods.

SAM: And most importantly the sole fucking reason we appear as people that talk shit about every single band in the world is because no one else is willing to call out their friends or their enemies on the really important shit. The vast majority of most HC punk bands are too fucking chicken shit to call out record labels on the crap that they do, to call out....

JON: Even to the point of just buying bad records.

ADAM: Not by name but what do you mean by the action of that?

JON: People are just blindly buying up...

ADAM: Consumption.

SAM: Of course weíre not anti-money. Iíve heard that thrown at us. ďDer, weíre anti-money.Ē All right, OK, thank you. We are, I am anti being a good consumer. Iím not going to be a good consumer. Iím not going to be a good fucking consumer that goes to the mall and buys my fucking street mosh record. Iím sorry but thatís not what I got into punk rock for.

ADAM: And there is a difference between, like I heard people say, ďWell, hey, I saw the Lifeís Blood record at the mall,Ē the point isnít that the Lifeís Blood record was at the mall, and that the Killing Time record was at a mall too, and that makes me a hypocrite because I was in Lifeís Blood. It doesnít because Combined Effort and Lifeís Blood were controlled by no one, and the money... we know exactly where the money went except for whatever sleazy money Important took for it. Itís a totally different thing for people to say to us that when we personally go out and sell our stuff and have it under our own control that it is the same thing as selling your record by being on a major label and going through a major distributor. It just doesnít make sense.

SAM: I think it is important that hardcore becomes more of a threat and less of a conformity.

KENT: But a lot of people argue that by staying away from the larger labels you remain very small and underground and therefore you never really become a threat.

SAM: You have to work at it. No one is going to fucking hand it to you. I mean, yes, people will hand it to you like large labels. If youíre going to do it yourself, as weíre learning right now, it takes a lot of fucking work. I put a lot of time on starting my own label, Vermiform Records. Itís no easy thing, but...

ADAM: But also, like in Dan OíMahonyís column in a couple of Maximum Rock Ní Rollss ago he says that ďmaybe we can break into the market with hardcore if we put enough great hardcore records out on major labels.Ē And I just... thatís like totally backwards, itís so backwards I canít believe it. What we should be doing is building an alternative to challenge it. Something that it is as powerful or more powerful, and it is never going to become that way if everybody thinks that you have to get on a major label and kiss their ass to.... I mean you canít rip it down and build it up at the same time.

SAM: And that just shows you how dogmatic we are because four of us are staying at Danís house, well not tonight but tomorrow.

ADAM: We like Dan, I mean itís not like something I havenít brought up with Dan. Weíre not talking shit because I drover No For An Answer around the weekend they played the ďHawker is not HardcoreĒ show, and I handed him the flyer before I went and handed it out to John Bello and Wrecking Crew and stuff.

SAM: They were staying in my apartment around the corner.

KENT: What about... Dan doesnít like to play small shows because he doesnít feel like he is reaching enough people...

SAM: I donít want to get into too much of his ethics because thatís not... thatís Dan.

ADAM: We like small shows because we think there are less assholes there usually.

SAM: I had a fucking wonderful time today at the Barn and last night in a kidís garage. It was fucking wonderful.

ADAM: Yeah, the kid who put on the show in this garage in San Diego was like, ďIím really sorry this is in a garage and stuff.Ē Look, we played to more people than weíve almost ever played to before.

SAM: We got paid sixty bucks at that garage which is more than weíve ever been paid for a show in New York.

ADAM: Weíve only been paid more than that once. ABC NO RIO... if youíre a local band... itís very important to pay the touring bands a lot of money, so since we all live a subway ride away.

JAVIER: Whatís the most we got Catinaís in Massachusetts?

ADAM: Yeah, we got paid 100 dollars there and they apologized to us too.

KENT: Is there any kind of a door price that you feel is a reasonable type thing?

JAVIER: We always like to play the five dollar thing if we can.

ADAM: I donít know, we havenít had a real band conference about it but unless it was like 35 bands and a two weekend thing, then I wouldnít want it to be... like the Rock Against Racism thing was like 30 bands and all you can eat and they had accommodations and that was like 15 dollars.

SAM: That was up in Canada in Ontario in Ottawa.

KENT: Didnít you do one of your War Prayer things about that?

ADAM: Oh that was in Mind Set. It wasnít any kind of attack on the Rock Against Racism show, that was an attack on New York attitudes again.

SAM: Us always the shit talkers, ha ha.

ADAM: Those people in Canada were making due with what they could get and ten people can only do so much.

JAVIER: They tried their best and everything, it just didnít work out.

ADAM: There were only a few people and they were just trying to organize a huge event and the enthusiasm was just lame.

KENT: What was your big beef with Nausea on that whole thing?

ADAM: Well, weíve talked to Al, and I had a really long talk with Al just recently. It was really something that I made a big deal out of, well, Sam too, we just didnít understand why their record said ďPay no more than $9Ē. We didnít understand why it didnít just say ďpay no more than $100.Ē

SAM: I havenít talked to Al, I havenít talked to anyone.

ADAM: What it comes down to is... weíve exchanged letters with Profane Existence, weíve been on the phone with Profane Existence. I probably had an hour long conversation with Al about it. It just comes down to, weíre on the same side and it is just a difference of opinion, and the record doesnít usually get sold for that... I guess it really just turns into semantics because it is just something written on the record and it doesnít really get sold for that.

SAM: That was another case where people were just flabbergasted that we criticized them because weíre friends with them, but whatever, if you do something that I disagree with them Iím at least going to ask you about it. I did ask one of the members of Nausea beforehand and he just got pissed so Adam wound up doing it in a more public way. We donít have any hatred of Nausea, theyíre our friends.

ADAM: We donít have any hatred of the Alley Way bands. When we were at the peak of all that stuff of supposedly so-and-so is going to kick your ass I called Anthony, the singer of Killing Time, and I had been friendly with him for three years before that. He was totally civil with me and asked me how school was going, where you living now, and stuff like that. I was civil to him. I donít know, we donít have vendettas because we hate people, we see things that are fucked up, weíre not like nasty people.

SAM: I donít go out of my way to be an asshole to anyone, but it is extremely important to call people out on stuff. Itís of utmost of importance in an independent scene to maintain that attitude of constant upheaval.

ADAM: Also, you got to remember that weíre not one big happy family. Thatís just stupid. I donít think we should ever strive to be one big happy family, this scene united, or anything like that. Everyone should complain if there is a problem, and people say, ďoh you wouldnít like it if it was on the other foot.Ē Thatís a bunch of bullshit because Iíve had kids become decent friends of mine, who I met because this did a totally shitty review of Lifeís Blood. ďOh yeah, youíre the one who said weíre a total Void rip off,Ē and I become friends with the kid and heís like, ďIím really sorry. I didnít mean to write that bad review.Ē I would much rather see an honest bad review than one thatís like, ďthis is a good record, itís got that New York sound.Ē

SAM: I donít want to be involved in some sort of scene or sub-culture where everyone is friends with everyone else and thereís no possible chance for change or anything. Thatís fucking mainstream garbage. Thatís the cover of an Insted record. Thatís that kind of attitude.

ADAM: The first one, Bonds of Friendship.

SAM: Yeah, because the second one rules [sarcasm], oh there I am talking shit about a band again. I just donít want to be involved with anything where there is no criticism, where there is no chance of challenge or...

ADAM: Our real friends tell us if we totally bit the big one when we play and stuff. Like some of our friends said that we shouldnít even put out the record, the 7Ē that we put out,ĒOh, I donít know, that 7Ē sounds terrible, you shouldnít put it out.Ē Theyíre still our friends, theyíre our great friends.

SAM: Weíve sucked live in such an incredibly big way at times. Up in Canada, god I wouldnít even have wanted to... I think we were the worst band ever in Canada. Iíve never seen a band as bad as we were at that show.

JAVIER: It was because Sam wore a dress.

SAM: Yeah it was because I wore a dress, that was the main reason.

KENT: Didnít you have some debate with In-Effect on some radio station?

ADAM: That was more like people as representatives of entities, like Charles who does Mind Set and sings for Rorschach, and me because Iím a big mouth, and Sam because of Vermiform and Dear Jesus, and weíve basically covered it before, but all I would like to say is...

SAM: It was the three of us versus Pete and Lou from Sick of it All and Steve Martin from In-Effect.

ADAM: And it was supposedly mediated by Marlene, who is a DJ for Crucial Chaos which is a hardcore show, and Sam Evac from Evacuate Records. They didnít really mediate. The only problem to me was, and weíve said it in interviews before, we thought there was going to be a certain common plane that we were both going to be approaching the problem on, and the problem was in the middle of whether they were just commercial garbage or not, whether they were bending to the powers that be or whether they were, you know, a great rock band, and we werenít on the same plane. We were trying to approach it from... ďOkay, now go ahead and justify yourselves based on the hardcore DIY ethic,Ē and they were like, ďNo, fuck that, this is our job. This is rock and roll, this is the business, this is what Iím going to do for my life.Ē So it was just out the window before we started. We didnít realize that they werenít talking about the same kind of hardcore we were talking about. Hardcore as defined by Pete, and kick my ass if you will, but this is just a quote, ďHardcore is about being hard, itís about kicking some ass.Ē So thatís hardcore all right, thatís why the debate didnít work. They yelled and we tried to talk. We looked like total assholes. We brought notes.

SAM: Actually we didnít bring notes, we brought fanzines.

ADAM: Yeah I brought fanzines with like stuff highlighted... we looked like idiots.

SAM: Yeah, Iím glad we did it, but it was stupid. Iím not going to attempt any more dialogues with people, Iím just going to continue on with my business.

ADAM: Well it depends on what the situation is because it should go on.

SAM: And also the most important way for us to combat what we see is wrong with the major label thing is by building up our own label and thatís what Iím putting most of my energy into right now.

KENT: Thereís always a lot of criticism of other bands and stuff, but do you think that any kind of hardcore is really doing anything?

SAM: I donít understand the question.

KENT: Well you always find bands saying that what other bands are doing is not legitimate as hardcore, but is there any hardcore that is legitimate as some kind of... as more than simply music?

ADAM: I think so. It sounds stupid, but when I was in high school and suburbia if I didnít stumble across hardcore I might be dead right now. So many people, I know I have friends that... if we didnít have hardcore we would just be like total fucking wash-ups, total losers. We would be in drug rehab with our friends or living with our mothers or working in a gas station or dead...

ADAM: It just in a sense that it has saved the total suburban white kid.

SAM: A lot of people donít seem to realize that the medium for a large part is the message, and this is a very ugly form of music or at least it should be. A lot of so called hardcore bands are nothing more than dressed-up metal bands or a subgenre of metal. I mean this is a very ugly form of music, and I think, I mean are you talking about specific bands?

KENT: No not in specific, just in general.

ADAM: Do you think it has potential...

KENT: Does it have any potential to do anything?

SAM: I think it has a lot of potential, but maybe not in the common sense. I donít think it has the potential in the grand sense of changing things immediately. Someone talked to us in an interview and said, ďDonít you think there is going to be a revolution soon?Ē I donít think there is going to be a revolution in the common sense, but hardcore is and of itself revolutionary in that it is extremely ugly, it will forever remain non mainstream...

ADAM: Well, itís not very ugly right now. Born Against might be ugly, and like maybe Econochrist or Neanderthal or something, but itís not ugly music always.

SAM: The point is, go to a friendís house where their parents are very normal and say, ďListen, I have this tape of some really ugly music that I would like to play for you,Ē put it on the stereo and theyíre going to get upset, and theyíre going to tell you to turn it off, and that is a good thing because youíre challenging something that...

ADAM: And thatís fun. Youíre not even really challenging, youíre just pissing them off and youíre having fun.

KENT: When youíre talking about ugly music, it seems like, I canít help thinking of the whole grind core thing and that seems to be the most non-productive cliquish little sub-genre of nothing that theyíre just so...

ADAM: Weíre not talking about that when we say hardcore.

KENT: I understand what youíre saying, but they play the ugliest music that is being played right now and I think it is totally irrelevant to everything.

ADAM: But by ugly we mean flying in the face of...

SAM: Ugly as unacceptable, ugly as in you canít dance to it, which is why as much as I like... say for example... I hate to use examples because then we get accused of talking shit, but as much as I really admire Fugaziís stances on a lot of stuff, I donít dig their music. You know why? Because you can go to a college dorm room, pop it into the tape deck and people will dance to it, and I donít consider that extremely challenging or threatening because you can fucking be-bop around the room to it.

ADAM: But then again, I kind of do like some Fugazi.

SAM: Oh, and I shouldnít even say that because I fucking totally dig some Fugazi.

ADAM: ďDig?Ē is that the new thing now?

SAM: P.S. fuck you.

JAVIER: But go into the same room and play Napalm Death and youíll get thrown out.

SAM: And thatís good because it disturbs these people. It doesnít fit into their fucking framework. The parents of some of the people in Rorschach took one look at the fucking front and back cover of that record and they were like, ďWhat in the hell is going on here?Ē They couldnít even understand it, it was beyond their point of reference.

ADAM: I think back to when I brought In God We Trust Inc. and a Suicidal Tendencies album home and showed them to my mom...

JAVIER: Try telling my mom Iím in a band called Born Against.

KENT: But does shock for shocks effect mean anything? Isnít there a lot more effective things to do?

JON: Enough of the time it leads to a deeper appreciation. That one percent says ďHey, whatís this?Ē Thatís the people weíre hanging around with, going to shows with.

SAM: Shock shouldnít be used as a means to its own end. John who is our roadie on this thing was in a band called Thirty-Seven Mutilated Homosexual Babies and Iím sure if you gave their demo to an adult they would go, ďHey, what is this?Ē That doesnít really accomplish much because thatís where its effectiveness ends. Itís shocking once and then it gets thrown in the trash.

ADAM: Thatís the example of shock thatís dog shit.

SAM: Pick up a Born Against record and we have a picture of a woman in bondage right next to a picture of a monkey in a restraining device as a means to communicate a message, not because it is an ugly brutal picture, or a set of pictures - it is - but because it would also hopefully lead to a deeper investigation of why those two pictures are next to each other. ďGee, why would someone put a picture of a woman in bondage next to an animal in bondage? Whatís the connection?Ē That is what we are trying to achieve and I think in that case shock is very effective.

KENT: This is kind of changing the subject drastically, but since you bring that up, do you think there are a lot of connections between animal rights and sexism?

SAM: Totally, Adamís the best one to talk to about that.

ADAM: Well, I didnít really think about it until I read a flyer that I got from a N.O.W. chapter from a group that I think is from San Francisco or Berkeley called Feminists for Animal Rights. All you really have to think of is what are women called that is derogatory? Every derogatory name for a female is an animal, and itís derogatory because you are calling them an animal, which implies that the animal is an inferior piece of shit.

SAM: Youíre lower than the white male.

ADAM: Thereís just like outrageous connections between sexism and speciesism, like I was paging through Sports Illustrated and I saw this thing about a rodeo where you knock down a calf and put womenís underwear on it. And it is pretty much of a chuckle, but there is really something there. There is something in peopleís psyche of male domination that makes them do that besides the fact that it is just wacky. There is really something there for why people are doing things like that. Just anywhere you go, I wish I could think of some more right now, but there are so many gross examples like that.

SAM: Iím reading a book by Andrea Dworkin called Pornography, and she has a long thing about a picture she came across looking through a Hustler magazine of two guys in a pick-up truck with a woman spread eagle on the front naked, and they both have shotguns, and sheís tied to the front and the caption reads ďBeaver HuntersĒ. That says it right there. One of the reasons that weíre trying to point this out is because there is this new slew of people, some of them associated with the Hard Line thing, and others just acting independently, who are real into the whole veganism thing and who are really straight edge, but abortion is murder and you canít be a faggot and all of this stuff. They donít make the most fundamental connections, and I think itís really tragic that people who have gotten to that point where they are interested in veganism and not exploiting animals arenít also making those same connections about the exploitation of women. Read through the Hard line statement. Iím not talking about the band statement, Iím talking about the political statement as drafted by this Sean from Vegan Reich. Itís full of little things like that. You know, manís mission, and sexual deviants, and itís scary and frightening and sad at the same time that something which had the potential... people have apparently have the drive to be so motivated as to alienate themselves from 99% of the hardcore scene canít make the simple fucking connection that all of these things are connected and that yes, a woman does in fact have the right, the very simple right to control her own fucking body, to have control over her own womb, and this is connected to the fact that an animal raised, a veal calf that was factory farmed doesnít have the right to its own life. Itís all a part of the same big fucking mess.

ADAM: Although I wouldnít want to give any of those fore mentioned bands or people much credit for being anything real at all because they donít play any shows...

SAM: And in six months theyíre going to be back driving their Camaros.

ADAM: Nobody knows who are in those bands, theyíve been around forever and no one cares about them. I just hope that no one ever does care about them, and if you read some of their warroir-learn-a-martial-art-use-plastic-explosives stuff they just reveal their past. Theyíre all Dungeons and Dragons freaks or something. Thatís not real. Itís like that HŁsker DŁ song ďReal WorldĒ. Thatís just not real people stuff, and theyíre not going to do it, they donít do it.

SAM: This isnít to discredit groups like the A.L.F., there are real people doing stuff extremely dangerous, putting themselves on the line.

ADAM: But theyíre not Sean Vegan Reich. Anyone with a brain in their head, anyone who has read a paragraph about the A.L.F. knows that someone who is in the A.L.F., someone that even knows someone who has done something for the A.L.F. doesnít fucking speak a word about it in their entire life or the C.I.A. will be monitoring them, and there will be all kinds of people monitoring them and it will be the end of their freedom as they know it. You do not make flyers about blowing things up.

SAM: If youíre doing real shit and youíre not careful about it then youíre going to end up in prison for a long time. Iíve seen a lot of pamphlets in New York about how to blow up a Shell station. First of all, the people handing out these pamphlets, as much as they are friends of mine and good people, and this is not in anyway a slag on the peace punk scene in New York because there are great wonderful people involved in that, but no one is going to be blowing up a Shell station...

ADAM: If they do it is cool but...

SAM: And if any of these people are going to blow up a Shell station and they advertise it then they are going to get thrown in jail for a very long time and they wonít be doing anything else but eating jello on Sundays and mash potatoes on Thursdays and living up to the strict jail regiment, and weíll bring Ďem new 7Ēs and come visit them on Sundays.

KENT: Back to the issue of abortion, how would you counter that argument, like Vegan Reichís argument is simply that you have this care for life... how do you define it as not being murder? In your mind how have you decided that a fetus is not a living being?

ADAM: We donít decide, itís my girlfriendís and my motherís and his motherís and his sisterís decision.

SAM: Yeah, first of all, I donít think itís an issue to be quarreled over by white males alone, and thatís not to say that we donít have some hand in it, but primarily itís not our issue.

KENT: But couldnít you then extend that to like a one year old? Whatís the difference between...

SAM: The difference is that no one has the right to appropriate someone elseís body, and as far as you go there is no legal precedent in this country or any other country for someone to use someone elseís body. You canít use someone elseís liver if your liver is in trouble. Iím sorry, no judge in the United States of America is going to let it happen, and if youíre a fetus - great, then you will evolve into a human being, wonderful, good luck, but you donít have the right to use your motherís body if she doesnít want you in there. Thatís the bottom line. Also, where do you draw the line? Do you draw the line at preconception? There are a lot of slippery slopes that get crossed extremely quickly by the people of the conservative ilk, do you ban contraceptives in the US? Ban dating? I mean...

ADAM: Yeah, a lot of people who are conservative... this doesnít really answer your question about where we stand, but a lot of people that are conservative or even just people that are against abortion are against birth control because they think it is the same as abortion, and especially the pill because they say you are aborting the egg or just not letting it implant in the wall, or they are against the I.U.D. because it does the same thing. They donít offer any solutions except like castration and chastity belts.

SAM: Or donít be promiscuous. Okay, great, thatís really good advice...[sarcastic] I can understand where some of these people come from, partially because I used to definitely be pretty anti-choice, definitely not as publicly vocal as I am pro-choice now. I understand those connections, but what it comes down to is the fact that if the fetus is a life then what about the woman? Is she a human being too? I think if a lot of these people examined their values theyíre going to find that theyíre not according a woman even her simple right to be a human being.

ADAM: Also, something that is really important that I have talked about with my girlfriend, and with other women too, is that males, to stereotype for a second, are being objective, and scientific, and philosophical and all this crap, but itís a totally emotionally charged... Itís more of an emotional issue for a woman than we could ever imagine, to decide whether there is this thing growing inside you that may have some capacity for life, whether to get rid of it or not... I donít know. Itís just so beyond our comprehension. I think it is wise of us to accept the fact that it is beyond our comprehension, just like I think it is wise of us to accept that there are no answers as far as like Krishna being a big snake with six arms and a womanís head and a green dress, and Jesus being up on a cross with a beard and blue eyes and stuff... We canít hold on to all of these absolutes. I think it would be really intelligent of us as people, as males we will never know or we will never be able to come up for the right answer for that, and as humans in this physical world we will never be able to come up with the right answer for that, and as humans in this physical world we will never really be able to come up with the real answer for all these silly questions that Krishnas and... well theyíre not silly questions, but silly answers that Krishnas, Christians, and Mormons come up with.

KENT: On the Krishna subject, from your position how do you think it is justified that you can say that someone is dead because they have joined the Krishnas?

SAM: That song is totally metaphorical.

KENT: I understand that it is metaphorical, but I think that it goes deeper than that.

SAM: The guy who the song was written about, youíre talking about ďEulogyĒ. Steve Reddy wrote me a letter, and I havenít answered it. I just have it lumped in a big pile of mail, and I donít know what the fuck Iím going to say to him. He said, ďHey look, Iím still alive.Ē and he sent me a little picture of him feeding this cow on a farm. Great, wonderful, but I have all the values that he has and I didnít have to surrender myself to some higher power, or pray to someone elseís words, or go through the rules... you got to wear the beads and you got to do this and that... itís just a metaphor, heís still alive. Also I think heís going to be out of it in a few years. I know very few Krishna people that have stuck with it just because the simple fact that you get too fucking...

ADAM: Because theyíre hardcore kids. Theyíre all confused.

SAM: Yeah, and also it takes a massive amount of energy to adapt your psyche to this rigid ideology, to fit your mind to this ideology. Sooner or later youíre just going to run out of that energy and youíre going to say, ďFuck it, I canít deal with this anymore.Ē

ADAM: Weíre not saying that we have the answers, weíre saying that weíre totally confused, but when theyíre saying that they have the answers weíre saying bullshit youíre confused too!

SAM: I donít consider myself, weíve been tagged as atheists, I donít consider myself an atheist.

ADAM: Iím not either.

SAM: Iím not stupid enough to say I have the answers. Other bands have said it better than us... if you love god then burn a church and offend preachers with your nasty records.

KENT: Going back to the whole major label thing, what do you think about the fact that Dischord made something like $90,000 last year?

SAM: Great.

KENT: You think itís great?

SAM: More power to them.

ADAM: Thumbs up.

SAM: Money is a good thing, make lots of money, know how to do it well, donít fuck over other people to survive, as Seth Tobocman wisely put it. You donít have to screw over other people to make money.

ADAM: Thatís the most beautiful example of it ever.

SAM: Dischord is the number one example. They are doing it right. Theyíre making good bucks doing good things. More power to them. hallelujah. Thatís it right there.

ADAM: Like when we did our debate Steve Martin said to me, ďYeah I remember a Lifeís Blood interview where you said Fugazi sucks, well youíre singing their praises now.Ē Well, whether I like Fugazi, or Fire Party, or the repressed Grey Matter album... itís like so irrelevant. Thatís missing the point, but his point was that Iím a backstabber and that Iíll just use anything to further my point.

SAM: Weíre all cry baby bed wetters as was quoted in Village Noize. Make lots of money doing good things and then put it right back into doing good things.

ADAM: I go to see bands that do good things, that I donít even like the music of.

SAM: You know I plan on making a lot of money with Vermiform Records, the only thing Iím going to do with it is put...

ADAM: That sounds a little crass, we donít know if this stuff is going to sell at all.

SAM: Okay, but assuming I do make lots of money with Vermiform Records then Iím going to put it right back into helping more people with their bands and putting out good music and hoping possibly to break our scene, especially in New York, out of this stagnant fucking cesspool that it has been in the last four years. And that is why I would like to be your next mayor, thank you.

KENT: On the whole, I donít know if I really want to go into it but what the hell? On the subject of the Mid-East crisis, a lot of hardcore people have been talking about the draft, do you really think that it is any kind of reality?

SAM: I didnít until I went to up-state New York where my parents live. Iím visiting my Dad, sitting down and having dinner, he said, ďSo what are you going to do?Ē I said, ďOh well, I donít really know yet, you know, hopefully it wonít come to that.Ē I donít think it will come to that... I think something bad is going to happen, but I donít think it will involve them calling up a draft because that would be too politically unstable...

KENT: But not even that, do you even think that something could last that long?

SAM: It could, the thing I hadnít even though of that my Dad brought up...

ADAM: Even during the height of the Cold War that I lived through, that I can remember, from like maybe Ď79 to whatever - Ď85 or Ď86, I never heard some of the talk youíre hearing now. I mean maybe in three months when this is all over weíre going to laugh about this and think I was a paranoid idiot, but I never heard terms and euphemisms like weapons of mass destruction, and we all know what they mean, that are being used by Saddam Hussein and George Bush, and if you ever saw this movie called ďThreadsĒ made by the BBC, itís like the same exact situation.

KENT: But isnít the fact that they have said that, I mean over December Cheney said that they would use nuclear weapons if Hussein uses chemical weapons, and if they are going to do that then it wonít last more than a few days.

SAM: Well what my dad brought up is that as other parties get involved, specifically Israel... Israel is one of the most crazy fucked up racist countries in the world, fucking bonkers, off the wall, theyíve got a hundred to two hundred nuclear weapons, and once they get involved with this, with either troops or nuclear weapons...

ADAM: The first thing they say is that if Saddam Hussein finds out that the U.S. is taking military action, a lot of people theorize that the first thing heís gunna do is launch everything he can at Israel to bring in all the Arab people who are supposedly United States allies on the side of Iraq because the war will then be against Israel too.

SAM: And yes, I could definitely see a situation in which those weapons were used in which it was also prolonged in which it was also prolonged in which we just sent troops out to a bombed out desert to keep going at it.

ADAM: Yeah, and who knows what the future holds? Maybe there will be a war fought with the battlefield nuclear weapons that is contained and is just really horrible.

SAM: The United States has small megaton weapons that can be carried by one individual or a group of individuals, and also weapons that can be carried in vehicles that could destroy only part of a town, they would still be atomic, still produce fallout. The other thing that has to be remembered is that the United States fights its war according to the last war, and weíre planning on this war according to the doctrines of the Vietnam War and World War II because they... the Vietnam War we canít play up too much because we got our ass kicked in that one by the ďlittle gooksĒ over there, but anything could happen that the U.S. wonít be prepared for because they havenít fought a war in the desert, at least not in this century.

ADAM: Yes they have, in World War II in North Africa.

SAM: Okay, I apologize, but anyway we arenít prepared for this kind of situation, and there are a million variables which could come up that would throw us totally off, and U.S. forces have even admitted that they donít know what the fuck is going to happen. One of the big wigs over there General-whatíshisfucking...

ADAM: Joe Smith.

SAM: Yeah, Joe Smith, he was given the boot because he publicly stated that he didnít know what the fuck was going to happen, if x and x and x happens, and when youíve got variables like that, plus the fact that youíve got nuclear and chemical and I would assume biological, which is probably one of the scariest things of all, because you canít control the spread of that.

ADAM: Hey, one spoonful of botulism is enough to kill the entire planet, pure botulism.

SAM: Although I donít think we have to worry about that because I think Hussein has proven himself stable enough that he wouldnít introduce that, I mean like it is obvious, if heís done everything else that he has already done, all these horrible atrocities which, yes, are very bad, but were also in part U.S. engineered, then whoís to say that if he got his hand on some new fucking horrible weapon and if he was held up in his palace in Baghdad or his office or whatever, his corporate headquarters in Baghdad or whatever, and if he knew he was going to get the fucking shit blown out of him in twenty-four hours anyway, whoís to say he wouldnít loose salmonella Strain 31B on the rest of the human population, and a year later we would have 5 billion human corpses laying around the planet. Thereís a million things that could happen. And I really hope that weíre reading issue #10 of No Answers a year from now and laughing about this, but after my Dad sort of talked to me about this Iíve been thinking about it a lot more. A lot of things are possible.

ADAM: All we can say is that every single person we know isnít going which is a good thing. Like no matter what, I mean every single person that I know, that I hang around with that I consider a human being isnít going no matter what.

SAM: In a way itís good that this whole thing has dragged out as long as it has because itís given the organized left a lot more opportunity to stage a...

ADAM: There is no organized left.

SAM: Yeah, youíre right, I shouldnít say that. The disorganized left, itís given them a chance...

ADAM: There isnít even a left. There isnít one.

SAM: The splinter-fucks, itís give them a chance to at least show some sort of dissent at this.

ADAM: A wimpy ass version of dissent, there isnít any.

SAM: Part of it is that none of us were expecting this, we were expecting a war in Latin America, I was totally expecting that. And sure this has thrown us for a loop.

ADAM: People donít care because it takes about, how long would it take? It would take about five days, less than that for people to organize a massive protest if everybody wanted to go, but nobody wants to go.

SAM: And the first one in New York was really bogus. There were a lot of fucked up things that happened. It took them two and a half months to organize it.

ADAM: Even in animal rights, a protest that I was going to two years ago was attended by six thousand people, this year it was attended by less than two thousand people.

SAM: Itís very hard to maintain a level of commitment, and weíre totally included in that. Itís hard to keep up the good work providing your dissent, and if you slip then the fuckers will call you on it. There used to be a series of fur ads in New York about a year ago that were on the defensive. There was one fur ad in the New York Times that was how to answer people when they insulted you for wearing a fur coat...

ADAM: And this year the ad is ďFur is the fashion of choice.Ē Itís on the sides of all the buses. Instead of like answers for people that heckle you this year the ad says ďI love furs. My neighbor got one, and now I have one too.Ē and there is another one, ďTom got one for Judy, so I got one for Rose.Ē

SAM: And it is because less and less people are calling them on it.

KENT: Do you think that there will ever be a left in the U.S. that isnít just a lesser shade of conservative?

SAM: I wouldnít make any grand predictions for the next ten years, but of course history moves in such huge surges and what may be left in a hundred years may be totally alien to us. It may deal with issues that we have not even the smallest conception of.

ADAM: Itís kind of weird because the definition of a liberal as the people who coined the phrase meant it is pretty divorced from what you call a liberal now, so maybe in a hundred years from now what the left wing will be may be totally bizarre.

SAM: Good example: in the post new revolution Soviet Union they use the term left and right in the exact opposite way that we would use left and right.

ADAM: Because the left is the government.

SAM: And yeah, the left is the government over there, and I think the terms are very vague...

ADAM: I donít think that any of us are politically educated enough to ever make a prediction.

SAM: In terms of there being an organized resistance to the establishment, I think that will come again, probably not in the next ten years. My prediction for the Ď90s is that it is going to be a big fucking rehash of all the same diarrhea that we were fed in the Ď80s, only much more cleaned up, much more homogenized. Thatís already going on right now, youíve got Vanilla Ice the new rap. Rap is no longer dangerous. Youíve got the new disco, which is every single fucking pop band. Youíve got the new hardcore, every fucking little tiny cleaned up straight edge band that doesnít really want to sing about political issues. They want to sing about friendship and how committed they are to their ideals. Think about the generic thrash bands of 1984, all those bands were singing, ďFuck Reagan,Ē and everyone was going, ďOh, itís so generic,Ē but thatís the point. That genericism was a wonderful and refreshing thing when you consider the fact that there were no pop musicians singing, ďFuck Reagan.Ē The pop musicians were singing, ďNow look at me wagging my penis,Ē or, ďLook at me swing my breasts to the beat of the music.Ē Blah, blah, blah....

ADAM: You havenít had much to say tonight.

SAM: I forgot what I was going to say. Hi, Iím Sam, Iím the singer.

KENT: Um, Iím kind of curious because you make a lot of derogatory statements about straight edge bands, but it seems to me that you hold a lot of those same ideals?

ADAM: Totally,but I donít know if we will ever sing about it, and itís not really the main thing about the band. itís totally generic what Iím about to say here because every single band who isnít straight edge says it, but not everybody in the band is straight and nobody in the band abuses drugs...

SAM: Weíve had problems with members who were doing some serious shit like sniffing glue.

ADAM: Not serious, just silly.

SAM: I would consider sniffing glue pretty apocryphal.

ADAM: Itís self-destructive, but it is just silly. But anyway, the only way that we like to look at it is in an extremely political, the far reaching political sense. Like everybody at ABC NO RIO had a big discussion with Dave M.D.C. about it. It was really cool. We were saying, ďWhy do you say fuck rockíní roll, why do you say donít eat meat donít dehumanize people, but then you say: smoke a little spliff? Because you say the government fed you all those other things, but then you decide arbitrarily that the government didnít feed you the idea to go smoke a little spliff, and the government isnít killing people for it?Ē The conversation just meandered with him saying the same thing and us saying the same thing. I think he is a totally cool guy. He changed my life with some of those records, so Iím not trying to criticize M.D.C., Iím just trying to make an example of the way a lot of people that Iím friends with think about drugs and alcohol, and they acknowledge the fact that it is state sponsored destruction and control of people.

SAM: There is a heavy political element to it that took me a really long time to pick up on. Iíve never had, I mean like I had a sip of my Dadís beer when I was six, but Iíve never smoked cigarettes, never taken drugs, never drank any beer, never had any coffee, I was never into it. And right before I got into hardcore, you know when I was like 14 I was starting to wonder what the fuck was the matter with me, and then I got into hardcore and it was like, ďGreat, I have a gang of people that accept me and I can fit in with them and this what Iím going to be.Ē And for awhile I was, Iíd say militant asshole about it, except that I was in a place in up-state New York where there wasnít enough going on to be really militant about, but where I live in New York I would have hooked up with all the people who were really militant ly assholish about it, and it took me a while to pick up on the political context to it, but Iím still totally straight and I have lots of friends who drink and do drugs, and the main thing that gets me about it, especially the peace punk people in New York, they donít make the connection that their fucking weed is grown by the...whoever, the fucking Contras down their raping and killing people.

ADAM: Especially with pot you canít always say that.

SAM: Yeah, I canít totally say that with pot.

KENT: Ahh, so much of it is imported from 3rd World countries, I mean probably 85% of it.

ADAM: There was an amazing thing that really disturbed the hell out of me that I saw on a news magazine show called 48 Hours about all these people in Appalachia and Arkansas and stuff, like Ministers and old women growing it in their back yard, and people like the hippies up in Northern California, and I guess they were cutting into the profits of the government or somebody in the mafia or somebody really powerful, and so they were knocking out their livelihood and these people were like, ďWell, I guess itís going to be a lean Christmas this year.Ē I feel terrible for those people, and I say to those people, ďIf you can get away with it then grow 20 acres of pot and go sell it and have a great Christmas,Ē because those people have been fucked so hard. Thatís the only thing they can do. And the same thing, depending on who they are going to sell it to, I would say the same thing to the fucking street urchin crack dealer, but I donít know... I would rather not talk about it, in terms of the band, in such personal terms as when I was 14 I did this and that because Iím not really sure...

SAM: When we were in Canada me and Adam played with big fat ďXísĒ on our hands soley for the purpose of pissing off all the politically minded peace punk people up there, because we knew it was such an easy thing. If we got up on stage and talked about rape, and talked about war, and everything else then they were going to go ďYeah, right onĒ and wave their giant 40 ozís at us, but me and Adam got up there with big fat Youth of Today ďXísĒ on our hands and went, ďFuck DrugsĒ and they went, ďyeah, fuck you.Ē I donít think we are going to be playing too many more shows with ďXísĒ on our hands just because it is so mindlessly pathetic, but I donít disagree with Youth of Today because they were a straight edge band, I disagree with them...

ADAM: Some of there reasons for being straight edge werenít the best.

KENT: Do you think that... the problem I have with it, I mean I donít see punk rock being too terribly effective on any level {Actually, I think it is extremely effective in many ways, but some punk is just shit}, but I think the political bands are so much less effective than the straight edge bands because they say all kinds of bullshit but they never do anything.

ADAM: Well, they set themselves up to be, I mean they ask for it, you know? I mean you just ask for it when you make all these promises and pretend that youíre going to knock the system over. Conflict was like one of the best bands ever and they didnít knock over anything. They got big universal product codes on all their records now, and theyíre distributed by Revolver which is part of E.M.I. and they have a record called Only Stupid Bastards Help EMI only they are distributed by Revolver which is a part of E.M.I. I mean their problem which makes them so ineffectual is that they just totally paint themselves into a corner, so wherever they go they are going to turn into hypocrites. Thatís in the best of all possible worlds the reason why they donít do anything, in reality a lot of the reason these people donít do anything is because hey are just as lazy as I am, I mean they like television too.

SAM: I think some of the lyrics on our 7Ē that I wrote border on that kind of setting yourself up for something, which Iím being much more conscious of steering away from.

ADAM: What do you mean, like ďHalf MastĒ? Because I wrote that.

SAM: No, no, ďNine Years LaterĒ and ďWitness to a RapeĒ, to be specific, bordered a little too much towards all encompassing, being grand, like ďWhat are we going to do about these problems?Ē And I really donít want to present my own lyric writing like that. The reason that I address those issues is because that fuels me to get up on a stage in front of fifty people and scream until my blood vessels burst, and whearas singing about friendships and blah, blah, blah, wouldnít do it.

KENT: Wait, the friendship part aside, I mean I think that is the cop-out of everybody who criticizes straight edge, to say ďunity and friendshipĒ. I mean my point is that legitimately the things that straight edge bands are talking about are actually achievable and affect other peopleís lives, whereas a lot of things that the political bands are talking about donít affect anyone because no one is going to do anything. {Specifically, Iím saying that straight edge at its fundamental base is offering a lifestyle change that people can and do achieve, and in that I believe they learn to take control of their lives and the quality of their life is heightened in the process, whereas few people are capable or are even willing to actively strive to achieve political change. Political ideas and discussion has a definite value, but there needs to be ways for people to address these issues in a tangible way. Abstaining from the use of products that are controlled by conservative and damaging corporations is an example of a tangible way to promote change, but it is unrealistic to believe that simply singing a song about war, starvation, or rage will affect these issues in any tangible way. If people decide to address these larger issues then they really need to formulate a realistic plan for action that can be legitimately after an alternative.}

ADAM: When we talk about that, and I know we really canít do it, but we would have to talk real specific because there are straight edge bands that Iím into that say this and that, like 7 Seconds...Walk together, rock together, build your own scene, do your own fanzine, of course that was really cool, but Crippled Youth is supposed to be straight edge , ha, ha, too, and ďK-Town Mosh CrewĒ and ďIíd like to see a skate punk sitting next to a mosh maniacĒ whatever...Theyíre both supposed to be straight edge bands, and then you take some ridiculous band like... I donít know, I donít want to talk extra, extra shit.

SAM: We caní t even make up a name about that kind of name, though, because all of those names have been covered. If we say Against the Wall, or whatever...

ADAM: No, I was going to use the example of peace punk bands, like you say a peace punk band that stayed small and did a lot of shit for, like, whatever. Like M.D.C. they changed people on a personal level even though they are a political band. I always say it, I guess it is getting beaten to death, but the fucking day I bought Millions of Dead Children I decided to become a vegetarian.

KENT: Didnít we all...

ADAM: SO Iím just saying that that was achievable. To be a political band doesnít mean you canít be personal. I think Ignition is extremely political and personal.

SAM: Yeah, Ignition did a beautiful job of that.

ADAM: And I think even some Fugazi songs handle it pretty well, like handle the border between personal and political pretty well, bringing it down to a real level.

SAM: A lot of Ď70s feminists coined the slogan ďpersonal is politicalĒ and that was mostly for bored housewives that didnít realize that all the shit they had thrown at them from their fucking husbands and their parents, that was political and they werenít isolated, and I think the slogan ďpersonal is politicalĒ can be adapted very easily to us tough punk rockers.

JON: An interesting story that my mother told me: she used to go door to door to try to win people over for the E.R.A. back in the early Ď70s, and one of the quotes she told me a housewife said was, ďI donít like to sign petitions, I might get in trouble.Ē That was the way of thinking.

SAM: Thatís it right there.

ADAM: Getting back to the trivializing the whole thing after he made that important statement, a band like Embrace didnít particularly sing about anything political, all their songs were basically about friendship or... and thatís like one of my all-time favorite records. Itís the way that it is handled with most of these straight edge bands, itís not really what they are talking about, itís not really that they are talking about this subject that we have something against, itís the way it is handled, and itís handled with rhymes like head/dead, die/try, decide/ride... itís got that rhyme scheme- A,B,A,B, thing.

SAM: Which renders it useless; which renders it ineffectual.

ADAM: Iím kind of insulted that they want me to listen to this thing that they put no thought or effort into, but I listen to the Embrace record and I know they put a whole shitload of thought and effort into it, just like when I opened up Millions of Dead Children and I saw a big giant fucking poster and the music sounded really cool and everything else. I wasnít insulted because they took me as a person that was worth all this different information and that was intelligent enough to take it all in, but when I pick up the new Apocalyptic Genocide record on Earache and all the songs are just like...

JAVIER: Hugh, hugh, hugh, hugh... [fast]

ADAM: Yeah, thatís insulting unless youíre just into it for the music, and some of those bands Iím pretty much into for the music.

JAVIER: Iím just into the music.

ADAM: Weíre not stupid enough to go out and make political theories out of grindcore bands, but we do like them.

SAM: I feel a little weird doing a fanzine and being in a band now, especially because the last issue I put out had our record in it, because Iím totally critical of all these other bands and then I put myself on the line...

ADAM: Thatís good.

SAM: Yeah, itís very good. Iím glad Iím doing it, yeah Iím glad Iím doing it because itís one more kick in the ass to Sam Mcpheeters, but...

ADAM: And he needs many more, and after this interview comes out heíll probably get them.

JAVIER: Not only in the head, but in your ass, ribs, back...

KENT: Where do you think you fit in, or do you think you do at all?

SAM: I think a lot of people donít know. Our plan right now is just to be totally fucking productive motherfuckers, just do as much shit as possible in the shortest amount of time and make people decide for themselves. We were having a problem with that for awhile. We had a lot of member problems, but things are pretty solid right no and weíre moving at a good pace and weíll be recording our LP in a couple of months, and doing a tour in the summer, and record after that, and get this record label going, and...

ADAM: I know we always bring it back to some hardcore band, but...

SAM: Thatís good, I think itís good that weíre rooted in our own history.

ADAM: In a bad way, or maybe in a good way, Iím narrow minded enough to always be making references to hardcore like Iím some fucking history teacher or something. The reason that I would imagine that the Teen Idles or Black Flag started is because those people didnít fit in anywhere, and not to say that there arenít people that we fit in with because there is a whole room of them out there that I like, but thatís the reason to get a band together. Even though those people started at a lot more of a square one, we feel in some ways like we are starting at square one. In ideas we are starting at square one, whereas they had to start at square one materially as well. I mean, they couldnít just go out and sell their records to people. There wasnít even a way to sell them.