HARLEY AND BLOODCLOT'S WAR OF WORDS--THE MOST HUMOROUS CONFLICT IN HARDCORE HISTORY...CHECK BACK SOON FOR MORE RECENT INTERVIEWS...
On the Real with Harley Flanagan
By Vic D
I can't believe it's taken me this long to interview Harley Flanagan.
If I had to name the two most important bands in my life, they would be: The Bad Brains, and the Cro-Mags. These guys managed to simultaneously scare the shit out of me, make me feel like I could scare the shit out of anyone, and make me want to go to a Hare Krishna temple.
The Cro-Mags have one of the most colorful (mostly colored blood-red) histories of any hardcore band, and have been one of the most important musical influences that New York Hardcore has ever felt. Harley is a man shrouded in mystery and hearsay. In this interview, he opens wide and lets all the honest facts out. When you are done reading, I'm sure you will have a different perspective on who he really is.
Maximum respect to the main man behind the Mags.
How did the Cro-Mags start?
I got into punk rock in Europe in '77 at age 10 & started my first punk band. I soon returned to the US & NYC - the Lower East Side - & joined the Stimulators, a NYC punk band, replacing Johnny Blitz of the Dead Boys on drums. I first met the Bad Brains in 78 or 79, I was blown away. The Stims used to play in NY & DC all the time with them. The Stimulators, Bad Brains, and The Mad were the nucleus of what became the New York Hardcore Scene.
Throughout the years the Stimulators played with everyone from Johnny Thunders, B-52s, the Damned, X, Cramps, Suicide, Plasmatics, DOA, Madness, as well as the Circle Jerks (at their first NY gig), as well as many up and coming hardcore bands that were starting, a lot of DC bands, etc.
In 1980 we toured Ireland, played with a bunch of Punk/Oi bands as well as the Saints (Old Aussie punk band, did a punk classic called "Stranded"). This is where I first got my head shaved and started runnin' wild with Skinheads. When I got back to NY from the tour I shaved all my friends' heads and the New York Skins were born. We were a bunch of crazy fuckin' little kids always in trouble - always fighting - getting fuk'd up.
I was always into the heavier (LOUDER < FASTER) stuff like Minor Threat, Black Flag, etc. - and all the old aggressive punk bands from my past -- ya know -- the Sex Pistols, Old Damned, so I quit the Stims to form my own band.
I went thru a few lineups, first of which was me on bass, John Berry (founding Beastie Boys singer) on vocals, Dave Stein of Even Worse on Guitar, Dave Hahn of the Mad on Drums. He was later replaced by Leo of Crucial Truth. We did mostly originals and some covers (Black Flag, Motorhead, etc.) After this lineup fizzled, I recorded a solo thing in '82 with "Don't Tread on Me", "Do Unto Others", and a few other tunes that would be the blueprint for what the Cro-Mags would sound like and turn into. These recordings are coming out in March '03 as bonus tracks on my new "HARLEY'S WAR!" CD (plus a live Stimulators track from 1981).
did you come up with the name "Cro-Mags"?
I came up with the name when I was still in the Stimulators, me and my friend Mugger (Black Flag roadie) were talkin' about starting a HC band. We were trying to think of a name and cauz we both had shaved heads and looked like cavemen or whatever -- ha ha -- He came up with "Apemen" and I came up the "Cro Mags!" And well, that stuck after he left NY with Black Flag. I just rolled with it.
did the Hare Krishna thing come from?
A friend of our, Tomas, first got into it. He and John had been stayin' together, this was not long after the Bad Brains had gotten into the whole Rasta thing, and so, a lot of people started exploring religion and/or spirituality. And well, he fell into the whole Hare Krsna thing. But yeah, it was really cause of Tomas.
what extent were people in the Cro Mags involved with ISKCON?
ISKCON was the center for the Krsna Consciousness Movement, so, that's where me and John used to go. They had a temple in Brooklyn and a center on the West side. At first I just went 'cause I was homeless and hungry as well as vegetarian and well, their food rocked! So... in the beginning I used to make fun of it a lot and what not but then I realized their philosophy had a lot of ideas and beliefs I could identify with.
The funny thing is my Mom used to take me to their temples and Rathayatras when I was a baby. I actually saw Prabhupada at the first NY temple on 2nd Ave. in the city.
At first, a lot of my so-called friends started really turning on me, talkin' a lot of shit. Actually it was only some of my most crazy bros, who were like 'I don't give a fuck about what anyone says - you're my bro. If anyone talks shit I'll beat their ass!" But most of the NYHC scene kinda turned on me at the time.
It's funny though, even Roger from Agnostic Front recently told me getting into the Krsna's at that time was probably the best thing that could have happened to me. Cause I definitely would have wound up dead or in jail; I was just getting into too many fights and doing too many drugs and shit. I was definitely nuts as a kid.
retrospect, what do you think of your whole connection with Hare Krishna?
I learned a lot, but, I think most religions are in it for the money and the power and they aren't as sincere as they claim. There's a lot of self righteous hypocrites preachin' shit they don't practice. Just like in the Hardcore scene. Ha Ha. I still dig Prabhupada.
is one of your best memories form the Age of Quarrel era of the Cro Mags?
The first tours with GBH, Motorhead, etc. Just being young and stupid. Being a kid you know what -- we were fumbling through life, learning, creating, and having fun as we went along.
really happened around 87-88, when John and Mackie left the Cro Mags? Why?
Macky left the week before we went on tour with Motorhead cause we couldn't pay him upfront -- ha ha. (Always the Mercenary). And Pete Heinz stepped in. Man, he came in on such short notice, and he really pulled it off. John quit after our first trip to Europe cause Doug stole our manager's wallet - and didn't cut him in. Then, the manager didn't wanna pay anyone 'til he got it back. So John flipped, etc. etc. Ha Ha. But he used to quit like every other week. It was ridiculous. I didn't know, John had quit this last time cause I stayed in Europe to visit my step-dad after the tour. But when I got home, all hell had broken loose... well... I went and talked John back into joining, but then as it would have it, no one else wanted him back in. They were tired of all his quitting and his bullshit. None of them wanted him back except me. Not Doug, Not Pete, and especially not Parris. I mean in truth, we had started writing some new material and John wasn't really cutting it. The band asked me to sing, and reluctantly, I took over. I never really wanted to, it just happened.
up on Long Island, I always heard that the Cro Mags had some kind of beef with
Anthrax using the NYHC logo on their record sleeves and stuff. Was that true?
Everyone had beef with Anthrax over that shit.
did you / do you think about all the Hare Krishna Straightedge bands that started
popping up, especially Shelter and 108, in the early '90s?
I think most of the 90's HC bands would never have gotten over if bands like the Bad Brains, Cro-Mags, and Agnostic Front wouldn't have broken up or been on hiatus. I think most of the bands from that era were just copycats and clone-bands. They lacked originality. Most of them were just a pale imitation of the bands that had been before them.
do you think about the music you are hearing today?
Some of it's good. I think most of it sucks, but hey ...
people think that the records after Best Wishes are terrible, some people like
them. What do you think?
Each had it's own qualities & each has its own shortcomings, including Age of Quarrel, with the exception of Near Death Experience, which absolutely sucked. Blame that on John and those idiots. I had nothing to do with that one. They stole a couple of my riffs, some of my words, ran with it and made a horrible album!
me, the influence of Metal is what made the Cro-Mags amazing, but I think metal
eventually became the element that killed the chemistry that the Cro-Mags had
on Age of Quarrel.
Things just ran their course, etc. It happens with most bands. I mean, we had always had a little metal influence. I love old Sabbath. Musicians, if they are true to themselves, always try to experiment. You gotta do different things or you're just repeating yourself. It just seems that fans want the same thing over and over again. And sometimes you gotta try something new, just for the sake of it. Sometimes you come up with something sick and sometimes - you fall on your face. Who gives a fuck?
I mean, when we did Age of Quarrel, we just did what we felt. Sometimes you feel things differently. But these days I've definitely been going back to my roots again. I still love all the old stuff, the "best of" - you know, old Minor Threat, Bad Brains, Negative Approach, old Sabbath. That's just how I'm feeling these days. There's always gonna be some other influences creeping in - that's just the way I am...
Life is good. I had a baby boy (my first kid). He's keeping me real busy and he is a blessing. That helps keep me distracted in these times of bullshit, betrayal, ya know - these other guys perpetratin' as the Cro-Mags without me, etc. Which don't make no sense since I started the band.
I'm over it. I'm moving on! This Cro-Mags shit and everything else has always been my war from the start. That's why I'm calling my new project "HARLEY'S WAR".
I got a CD droppin' in March featuring me on bass and vocals, Rocky George on lead guitar, Crazy Jay Skin of Warzone on Rhythm guitar, with Vinnie Stigma and Mickey Fitz of the Business - making appearances on it. And more -- It's got those early '82 - '83 demos I did, as well as a live Stimulators track from '81.
So far I've had cats like Darryl from the Bad Brains, Niggas from Leeway, Warzone, Merauder, Murphy's Law, etc. up on stage with me playing my new stuff as well as some old classic Cro-Mags and other "Cover tunes". It's kinda a "Hardcore All-Stars" project... So... I'm just doin' what I do. You dig?
Check for the new disc. You'll be able to order through www.cromags.com. And ya'll can get me at firstname.lastname@example.org
So yeah! Hope I shed some light on some shit.
On the Real with John Joseph
By Vic D
Did you ever get a phone call from John Joseph of the Cro-Mags?
I just did.
He didn't have to introduce himself. As soon as I heard the ultra-thick NYC accent, I knew exactly who it was.
He was calling about Harley Flanagan's recent interview on Static-Void. I asked John to tell me his side of the Cro-Mags story. That was just about the last thing I said for the next hour and a half.
"This is the last Cro-Mags interview ever," John J. tells me. "I'm gonna dead this shit right now. I don't need some on-going soap-opera dialog to waste my time. I will set the record straight once and for all. And then if Harley wants to keep popping shit on the internet, let him. Anyone with half a brain knows the deal anyway."
first thing John wanted to talk about was Harley's version of the Cro-Mags history.
"The first Cro-Mag line-up was Me, Harley, Dave Stein and Dave Hahn,"
John Joseph explains. "What's this bullshit about John Berry, Eric Cassanova???
That dude Eric was in the band for 2 shows. Before I was in the band, they were
no more than an urban myth with some graffiti on the walls. Who recorded on
the demo? Who recorded on Age of Quarrel - the best Cro-Mags record, and the
only one anyone cares about? I did. Maybe I wasn't technically the first singer,
but I was the best singer, and the one that people remember."
How did John Joseph end up singing for the Cro-Mags?
"Harley wanted me to sing, and Kevin wanted Roger from Agnostic Front to sing. We both went down to try out and I was jumping around the whole studio - so it was pretty clear who was going to be in the band."
John stresses that, prior to his influence on the Cro-Mags, they were hardly more than a punk-joke band. "Harley wanted to play shows under the name 'Disco Smoothies.' At the time, 'It's The Limit' was called 'Kill The Ayatollah.'"
I wasn't down for that, I wanted to do something more serious, more political. So I split."
John moved in with the Krishna's, but soon found himself back in the band. "I wrote all the lyrics and Parris wrote 90% of the music. The only song Harley had was 'Don't Tread On Me'," John says.
"I was the one who got Doug in the band," says JJ. "I was the one who booked all the tours; I got us the Motorhead tour, GBH... and even recently, I was the one who hooked us up with the Bad Brains and Sick of it All. Why? Because no one wants to help Harley out because everyone knows he's a backstabber."
"I paid to record the demo, and Kevin's dad pressed it up," John said. "Harley claims that I am taking food from his baby's mouth - dude, I ain't taking shit from his baby's mouth. He's the one who bootlegged the demo ("Before the Quarrel") and admits to selling over 20,000 copies without ever giving me a dime. He is the one who sent a huge chunk of the band's tour money home with his girlfriend halfway through the '91 tour. (She was out on the road with us and faked being sick. Harley had the whole thing rigged from day one - she told me everything). He is the one who stole $15,000 from the band's bank account that was supposed to be equipment money from Century Media - and shot up heroin and bought all kinds of stereo equipment while the rest of the band was broke."
Harley claims that John is stealing money from him by touring under the name Cro-Mags NYC, a name that Harley claims is rightfully his. John Joseph says that Parris owns 100% of the name Cro-Mags, and that he himself owns 100% of the name Cro-Mags NYC. "Harley has nothing to do with the name," he says. "Plus, we didn't make any money on the last tour. We did it for fun and for the fans."
And, to cap it all off: "If he wants to put food in his baby's mouth, that sorry ass needs to get a job. He never had a job for a single day in his entire life."
We were about to get off the subject when John, browsing through the Harley interview as we spoke, hit on something else: "And what's this bullshit that Doug was the one who stole our manager's wallet? That is complete fiction," John says. "Harley stole the money from Chris Williamson's wallet. Harley was the catalyst; Doug was just there. Harley says I was pissed because I 'wasn't cut in.' That's bullshit. Petey Hines was in the bathroom taking a dump and heard Harley and Doug split the money up and say, 'fuck those guys.'"
When the tour ended, Harley vanished without saying goodbye. Harley remained in Europe while John returned to New York on Christmas Eve only to get evicted from his apartment because he had no money. "I spent Christmas and New Years homeless," JJ says, "while this dude who was supposed to be my boy was in Europe spending money I needed to keep a roof over my head."
John says that he was the first to realize that their manager, Chris Williamson, was ripping them off ("Signing our names to a merch deal without our consent."). When John confronted Chris about it, Chris told him, "I'm gonna get you kicked out of this band." From then Chris Williamson was working behind the scenes, "stroking Harley's ego" and orchestrating the split up.
"When Harley came back after his little vacation in Europe spending my rent money, I was fuming, homeless, broke and pissed," John says. "He approached me on 9th street between 1st and 2nd. I smacked him in the face for robbing me. Weeks later, after I calmed down, he asked me not to tell the press that the reason I left right before Best Wishes was because he robbed me. He said it would be real hard for him to 'live that down' and carry on with the band if people knew. Like a bro, I kept it quiet. He begged me to sing on that record. I refused. I couldn't look that dude in the face."
There is a big myth that John Joseph was a Navy Seal. "I never said I was a Seal," John explains. "I spent six months in the Navy, almost three of which was spent in BUDS. I tore my ACL [a knee ligament] during Hell Week and was rolled back a class and later was unable to continue. So they shipped me back to Norfolk for surgery where I went AWOL. I was only 17 years old at the time, and had just finished 18 months in jail."
Survival of the Streets
John grew up as an orphan. After suffering beatings in various foster homes between the ages of three and thirteen, John was sent to St John's Home for Boys in Rockaway Beach in 1976. That summer, 14 years old, he ran away and began living on the streets of Lower Manhattan. This was between '76 and '78 - when New York City was the most violent city in the nation.
"I've been shot. I've been stabbed. I've had my skull fractured by big dudes with pipes," John says. "I got stabbed when I was the only punk to grab a chain and take on five Puerto Ricans who tried to take over 171 A."
John chose to move to the Hare Krishna temple in Hawaii because they were doing a lot of work with boats, and, having just gone AWOL from the Navy, John knew a thing or two about boats. In a short time, though, JJ moved back to New York and was living in the temple there. Harley would come down and try to convince him to move out and re-join the band.
John J. started the Krishna's "Food For Life" effort to feed homeless and punks in the Lower East Side NY's Tompkins Square Park. In 1982, John put on the "Rock Against Maya" concert in the same park.
"I was the one that injected Krishna consciousness into the Cro-Mags," says John. "I was the one who made Cro-Mags a serious band with a real message. That message was the real reason the Cro-Mags blew up. It was Krishna's arrangement that the Cro-Mags blew up. It wasn't because I was doing back-flips off PAs. It wasn't because Harley was diving into the crowd with his bass or whatever. As soon as the Cro-Mags didn't care about the message anymore and got these big egos, that's as soon as the whole thing tanked."
During their time together in the early Cro-Mags, John says he, "Preached to Harley every day. I was the one who got Harley into Krishna consciousness. I was the one who made him a vegetarian. I even got Harley to move into the temple, but he only lasted three days."
More recently, John helped build a Hare Krishna temple on Avenue B. He contributed funds he made from working as
a bike messenger and running a construction company. "I built the whole temple w/ my own hands," John says.
John said he read my article, "I Was a Teenage Hare Krishna." To him it was further proof that the Hare Krishna's fucked up their movement when they tried to get prestige and positions equal to the movement's founder.
John tells me that his life has been really positive lately. "I'm chanting 16 rounds [of the Hare Krishna mantra] every day. I'm following the four regs [No Intoxication, Meat, Illicit Sex, or Gambling]. I'm waking up for Brahma-Muhurta [2 hours before dawn]. I'm feeling really positive."
A few years ago there were two versions of the Cro-Mags. "Harley wanted my version out of the picture," John says, "So he planned to get rid of me by ratting me out to the cops and the military. What kind of 'punk-rock' shit is that: going to the police to rat someone out? I spent 18 months in jail when I was 15 because I wouldn't rat-out the dude I was selling angel dust for. That's why I hate rats."
"Harley tried to pretend that he and Parris didn't do it, but Jimmy [of Murphy's Law] has the whole thing recorded on his answering machine. We played it over the PA at Coney Island High. It was like, 'BEEP. Yo, this is Harley. Yo Jimmy I never went to the cops on John. Blah, blah, blah.' Then the next message is like, 'BEEP. Yo, yeah I went to the cops but it was because he threatened my grandmother.'"
After John got released from the Navy brig and finished dealing with the NYPD, Harley "hid out for two years... Then he came downtown," JJ says, "and I knocked him out with one punch, spit on him, and walked out. Harley says it was a sucker punch, and that's damn straight. Keep your back to the wall when you try to send someone away for serious prison time."
The Prize Fight
Harley recently challenged John Joseph to a fight, to be recorded on video tape to show on the Internet. Here's what John says about it: "If he wants to tell people I won't fight his midget, pathetic ass - let him. I told him to call me and he never did. The offer still stands. Meet me on the east river early one morning, since you're telling everyone you wanna
kick my ass. I don't need to fight; I've been fighting my whole life. I can't believe I'm going to say this and be like a 10 year old, but I can't help it, I'm a fighter: 'Nigga, you know my cell number - if you want to fight it out, call me. Mono-a-mono: no little cheering squads, no video cameras, no bullshit. But instead of talking about Ju-Jitsu and wearing Gracie hats, t-shirts, stickers and probably fuckin' underwear, too - go train. This way you don't waste my time with your pathetic grappling attempts. Instead of carving REVENGE in your chest why don't you try to get the jealousy of me off your chest and make that call? Let's put this shit to rest. Otherwise, grow up.'
Side of the Story?
John kept telling me how he would give any phone number I wanted to verify his story. "If people want to believe Harley Flanagan's story," he says, "they can be my guest. But what does he have to back up what he says? I'll give you the numbers to back up all my statements. I'll fax you my military record. Ask Harley for proof about anything he says."
Currently, John is running a vegetarian catering business and is doing a lot of writing. He is working on a book about, "being on the streets 76-78 - how ill NY was at that time - and all the crazy shit I did to survive, ending up in jail for two years." He also has written a script about a Boxer (his father was a professional fighter), and has a script in the works which he describes as, "a punk-rock comedy about two brothers who got separated when they were young. It goes through all the funniest shit I've seen in the scene."
He also has a new band called Bloodclot. "The new band got me, Tom Capone, AJ, G-man and we're talking to a few bass players," John says. "We're not playing 12-year old rehashed Hardcore we dug up from some old tapes. We're doing new music."
We exchanged a few more words over the phone. Then John asked me to put this at the end of the article.
last message to the Cro-Mag fans:
"You guys are the ones who kept the 'Mags alive for all these years and I'm sorry we had to subject you to all this shit. But I guess with a band like the Cro-Mags, controversy should be there. I just never expected the amount the betrayal, ratting to cops, money stealing and the other scumbag shit these two, Harley and Kevin (faggot Paris), have done. I guess
one fan in Australia said it best, 'I looked on the Cro-Mags website and it's like a fucking soap opera. But you guys coming over here to play shut all that shit down.' He was a fan since the mid-eighties and waited since then to see us."
A word to Harley
"Maybe with your new band, HARD-LEY'S WAR, you'll treat the fans better. Without them you're nothing. So have respect for them instead of telling kids at Posi Numbers that you're gonna take their teeth home with you if they come on stage again; Instead of calling all the kids at Hellfest, 'straight edge faggots' and threatening Earth Crisis' merch guy (who, by the way, is a buck-ten soakin' wet) with a bat.
"If you can treat people with respect, your band members won't have to save your ass from getting a beatin' like I did for you at Hellfest - and won't have their road managers telling them, "Just leave this asshole [Harley] home next time. No one wants to come to a show pay $15 to get told off by some asshole on the stage.
"Just because you were a child star, Harley, that doesn't give you the right to still act like a child when you're 37 years old. It's not attractive and your star has burnt out a long time ago because of it. And that's why the fans on all the farewell gigs don't miss you.
"Peace, and good luck with your family."
"And thank you once again you guys - 'cause without you people at our shows, they would suck."
came Harley's Interview.
Then, in response, came John "Bloodclot" Joseph's Interview
And now, in response to that, Harley gives us...
The Final Quarrel
"John is like a used car dealer" - he is an expert bullshitter. He works himself into such a fervor that he almost starts to believe his own bullshit and leaves you thinking, "Damn he's going off !!! It must be true." The next thing you know you have bought the Brooklyn bridge from him even though you knew he didn't own it to begin with.
have people believe that he started the band if he could get away with it, Just
like he had people believing he was a 'navy seal" for the last 20 something
years, I heard that story grow and grow over the years. I'm surprised he finally
admitted that was a lie. John started the band!?! C'mon now, I don't even think
I even need to defend myself against that one.
He would have people believe that I was the least important or least contributing member of the band!?!
I have to laugh at most of this shit he says, even he knows its a crock of bullshit, and it don't even deserve a response. But unfortunately I feel the need to set the record straight on some of this stuff, so it don't keep jumping up like some bad joke that keeps popping up ( like John) and then I will try let all this shit die like it should have a long time ago.
That clown never kicked my ass, slapped me, made me cry, or anything else. I don't know what fuckin planet he was on when that happened, once a few years ago he snuck up on me from behind, hit me and ran - which I think is a cowardly, faggot ass thing to do (especially for some one who claims to be so tough), but looking back it just makes me laugh and so does he.
booked our tours...Where did he pull that one, out of his ass??? Andy Sommers
frontier booking did our GBH & Motorhead tours, etc. M.A.D did us in Europe
and we had Tim Boar and Matt Pike doing the recent gigs we did with the Bad
Brains, Sick of it All, etc. I mean, Christ, we both booked shows here &
there - we all did. Our manager, Chris Williamson, booked our tours through
booking agents. Of course we booked them ourselves in the beginning but we "all"
did. I still have most of the old tour itinerary with the tour dates booking
agents etc. from those early US & Euro tours with Motorhead, GBH, etc.,
etc. - going back to our first tours.
And of course I co-own "Cro-Mags" & "Cro-Mags NYC". I owned "Cro-Mags" exclusively until I made the mistake of cosigning over to Parris when he handed it to me in a stack of other paper work that was being signed for bank info partnership agreements etc. with it in the middle. But that shit is easy enough to look up, go on line or whatever & see who owns the name!!!
So I don't even know why he would bother lying about that??? What purpose does that serve??? What purpose does any of it serve?
This whole self-righteous tough-guy holy-man thing, "I don't get high, I don't get laid, I don't do this or that"... it's such a load of bullshit me and him where gettin stoned every fuckin day on our last tour. We even used to buy and sell weed to each other all the way up till the recent fall out. Even when he say's he don't smoke weed, that don't mean he don't cook with it, make shakes with it, etc. It just sounds good when you say, "I don't smoke it." But he get stoned like a motherfucker. I don't think I've ever known him to follow all the principals those wanna be Hindus pretend to follow.
He wants to claim that the only reason the band blew up or had any potency was cause of krsna and cause of him, cause he brought that into the group. If that aint the most egocentric sounding shit you ever heard like, "he brought the philosophy" and then "we blew up"!!! It had nothing to do with all the time and effort we all put into it!?!? He just arrived then we blew up!!! Yo, he joined way after the band had written almost the entire Age of Quarrel album, we where playing most of it live already, we where already building up a following. Most of the words on that album weren't even "krsna" conscious!!! Read them again! If anything they where more "street conscious". The words didn't lean heavy in that directin till "Best Wishes". He didn't join the band till the songs were already written, so how the fuck can he claim to even know who wrote what or how many songs who wrote???
I don't know why he and Parris always need to discredit me to try to elevate themselves? Why ?? What's the point ??
Cro-Mags were never a "joke" band. When it started, we did originals and covers. We did The Hammer by Motorhead, Nothing To Do by the dead boys, Wasted and Nervous Breakdown by Black Flag... how is that a joke band?? I mean yeah, it was a bit sloppy but yo we where kids and it was my first band on bass.
We auditioned a bunch of people for vocals. Louie Bloodclot from Antidote tried out. John even tried out back then for a minute but that didn't work out and he split town, to be a krsna...And yes of course John Berry sang with us. It wasn't a joke, we where just young and sloppy but that was the beginning. Our first gig we did as "Disco Smoothy" and that was a joke and that only happened once. As John said, "Cro-Mags" was written all over the city: on walls, in bathrooms, in clubs, on schools... I wrote it everyfuckin where for like two years before we even gigged, cause I had the idea in my had. I had started writing the songs and well, when it came time for our first gig we took it on short notice and I didn't feel confident that we where ready for it, And because everyone knew me from the stimulators and everyone knew my new band was gonna be called the Cro-Mags I didn't want to let it out of the bag before it was really ready... so as a joke I changed the name to "disco smoothy". Only my friends would know about the show so there would be less pressure and more just a fun time.
When we first started gigging and at our first gig it was John Berry singing, Dave Stein on guitar, me on bass, and Dave Hahn - The Mad's old drummer and Bad Brains manager - who was replaced by Leo of Crucial Truth. After that and a few other line ups I tried fizzled, I hitchhiked out west and then up north for a while when I came back to NY in 82. I went into the studio and recorded some of the songs I had written before I had left and some I had written on my trips. These solo tapes where the "blue prints" for what the Cro-Mags sound would evolve into. I only recorded a few songs, other songs I had written the music for around that time was Everybody's Gonna Die, Do Unto Others, etc. The recordings where supposed to be released on rat cage record in '83 as Harley Cro-Mag, Here's To The Ink In Ya. I was gonna call the record that cause I was like 15 with all these tats. But, the label eventually folded and they got shelved till now - as the bonus tracks on my new disc.
I was having a hard time putting a Cro-Mags line up of people together, so I
started some other things up in the meantime to pass the time. One band I helped
form and write the music for was Murphy's Law. That was a just good time fun
band. I was also in "M.O.I." (Mode Of Ignorance) which was me, John,
Doug Holland and Nunzio from Antidote who eventually got replace by Elroy, that
was more like a "d.c" style hardcore, like if Faith or Void came from
NY and were Vegetarian. If anything, John had more to do with this project then
he did with the Cro-Mags. At least he was with this from the start. Cro-Mags
he just kinda walked into a finished, rehearsed band with most of there song
written. M.O.I. only lasted about one summer, then John split again (like he
When M.O.I. fizzled, I hooked up with "Parris" through a friend of mine, he never really fit in but he was a really good rhythm guitarist. We had great chemistry he wrote great songs and killer riffs. Me, him and Eric wrote "most" of Age of Quarrel. Usually, I or Parris would come in with a riff or a song and I would get on the drums and work out the time signatures and changes and either play along with him that way or show him one of my songs or riffs and then get on drums etc. We really tried a lot of people out, I wanted to do this "Cro-Mags" thing so bad that I was willing to play any instrument to make it happen. It was a vision I had in my head... sounds that where driving me nuts... I had to play, I had to see it through, I had so many ideas and shit. Before Mackie joined I was even gonna play the drums at one point, even though I didn't want to (cause I was writing so many songs on the bass and it was "my new band" ), but how would John know any of this, he wasn't with us yet. We auditioned Todd Youth - we tried everybody !!!
We even did a gig with Roger Merrit on bass, me on drums, Parris on guitar, and Eric Casanova on vocals. Eventually we got Mackie who was in Frontline. We gigged with that line up and that's when it all really came together. Unfortunately after finally getting our sound together and doing local shows Eric had to split the band cause some family shit went down.
We started to audition guys again. John, who was just recently dropped out of the Hare Krsnas again for like the 3rd or 4th time, came in like, "Yoooooooo, whhhhhaaaaaatts up!!!!!!!" - Smokin tons of spliffs and like totally playing into the fact that I had known him since I was in the Stimulators, and he was older I was like 15 he was in his 20's you know I was impressionable we where both really good friends with the Bad Brains we where both into the Brains and Minor Threat and all the D.C. shit etc. It was funny. John came in all wild, like a real sloppy wanna-be H.R., screeching all out of key and shit but he was running all over the place bouncing off the walls jumping off the drums it was impressive if not hysterical. Roger who had tried out was a good friend of mine and was really good, but hadn't known me as long as John had, he was more into OI then bands like the Brains and shit, I was to into OI too (I mean, shit, I turned NY onto it. I was the first NY skin) but I was really into the Brains and HC. John was just a better sales person, cause Roger was really good! Looking back, I almost wish he got the gig !!
John only started writing lyrics for us at that point. Even the songs he did write with us had mostly been older riffs we reassembled. Mackie just came in and left after practice (if he even showed). He didn't do too much, he was too busy with other bands, he never contributed to the writing - he always approached it like "pay me"!!! Just check out my new disc and you will get the idea of how it all came together from the 82-83 demos.
you to believe that I ripped off the band. Give me a brake, on that tour we
counted the money together every night, me & him in the back of the tour
bus and our tour manager. Our tour manager always held the money I never had
the chance I never did and never would. Why? To brake up my band that I was
"making" my income from??? How did I steal it from Marc M.A.D. our
tour manager his 6 ft 5, 250 lb ass!!! Or was he in on it too???
dude, him and Parris keep pissing and moaning about shit that didn't even happen
10, 15, and 20 fuckin years ago. Grow the fuck up, its getting boring. And besides
you're full of shit. Christ, everyone knows Doug stole Chris's wallet! He's
a fuckin clepto. I walked in on him counting the money, it was like 2 days before
Xmas. I walked in on him & was like, "oh shit!!!" He was like,
"Yo, I just found a wallet." I was like, "Yo nigga, cut me in
- its Xmas, motherfucker!" Then he looks at me with big round eyeballs
and says, "Yo... it's Chris's." And I was like, "Oh shit!!!"
Then he says, "Man, fuck those guys (meaning Chris and Profile Records)
they been ripping us off for years." Well, I couldn't argue with that logic...He
was like, "Quick, come in the bathroom." What Pete heard was me saying,
"Yeah man, fuck them", meaning Chris and Profile/Rock Hotel. Besides,
Doug only gave me a couple hundred and it was mostly in European money. I didn't
know Doug had already pocketed over a grand !!! After the gig I had a train
to catch. I couldn't stick around. Everybody was out in the crowd and shit I
didn't have time to look for them so... of course I had no idea what kind of
drama ensued !!!
on Doug so bad, he terrified him. He was threatening to strip search Doug. Years
later Doug told me he stuck the money in a condom and stuck it up his ass!!!
So John wouldn't find it--that had to be an uncomfortable flight home!!! I couldn't
make this shit up if I tried. Iguess that's why he didn't take the credit cards,
they wouldn't fit up his ass! Why does John think doug didn't lose his apartment???
Why??... cause he had all the money!!! Duh!
I said before John flipped so hard, everyone was just sick of it.he used to
flip all the time quit all the time Doug was scared shitless of him, Pete was
too, and I guess deep down Parris was too or he would have never had him arrested.
That's another thing that asshole tries to drag me into... he got arrested for
violating Parris's order of protection. Shit, Parris also had me arrested and
has an order of protection on me! Anyway, this shit is ridiculous!!!
My new CD
will set a lot of this straight as soon as people hear the "Cro-Mag"
demos I did when I was a kid, way before either John or Parris joined the "Cro-Mags"
they will realize who started the band and the style and the sound of the Cro-Mags,
it speaks for itself and shoots a hole right in the side of John and Parris's
lies and attempts to discredit me...it's pitiful. And not for nothing, my new
CD, I sold more CD's, in one day of my new shit then "both worlds"
ever did ha ha and I put it out "my self" !!!, so who's the chump???
He's still touring as the "Cro-Mags" without me ...
whole self righteous thing is such a load of shit. He ripped off more of his
friends then he can probably remember. Yo, him and his Hare Krsna buddies where
down at ground zero after 9-11 selling bootleg FDNY hats claiming the money
was going to relief for the fire men's families and shit like that. They say
whatever they have to to sell them. He kept bragging about how much $$ he made,
and I kept arguing with him that it's fucked up to sell those and especially
down there, and that profiting off a fuckin' horrendous tragedy is bad karma!
And his ass didn't see nothing wrong with it , so yeah, you're real spiritual...you
better eat another pot brownie preacherman 'cause that shit is wack. Yeah, the
tough guy spiritual swami, "I got stabbed, beat with pipes, shot"
blah blah blah. Shot with what, a b.b gun? Who do you think your trying to act
like, "50 cent"? I was there right after he got stabbed by the fat
drunken Rican who "tried to take over 171a" ha ha ha... that shit
didn't even need a stitch it was like an 1/8 of an inch wide and not deep enough
for even 1 stitch. So what! Big fuckin' deal. Hit with pipes? "Big guys"?
ha ha They're all big guys to me and his 5 foot 7 ass.
had 100's of street fight,s more then I can count or remember. So??? I had 20
stitches in my hand from a knife fight with three rednecks - big fuckin deal!
My leg broke with a bat by a bunch of guidos 3 car load's full Etc. etc. We
all had fights blah blah who cares. Parris allmost got stabbed to death, woow
he must be real tough!!! Shit, Earth Crisis beat his ass - he must be really
Yo, it's not like John can't fight. He's just an exaggerating maniac who for some reason feels the need to impress everybody with everything. If you caught a big fish he will tell you about a bigger one he caught. Even his movie scripts, I seen them, they're all borrowed from other people's stories other people's lives. I told him shit that happened to us or friends of ours - it aint shit he comes up with on his own, he just writes down what ever funny shit he hears who ever it comes from. But hey, maybe that's how its done... but to me, he just a fuckin total fraud.
man, despite all this bullshit, back in the day we were the shit during that
lineup. It was a good band, even though we all had our problems and shortcomings.
We were tight as hell, energetic, we put on a great show, I mean when we were
at our peak we really were a force even though John couldn't sing ha ha ha and
would run around like a spastic ball of energy unplugging us and tripping over
himself. In fact that was a big part of the chaos and the energy of it. Parris
bangin out the riffs on his ugly ass bc rich bitch guitar. But it sounded great.
Doug, as burnt as he is, back then he really was one of the best lead guitarists
around. And well I grew up on Darryl, Geezer and Lemmy - plus I played drums
- so my shit was on point there wasn't really too many people around better
than me back then, except of course Darryl and shit. Mackie was nasty, he really
set the pace for all our other drummer to follow, even though I don't think
he ever did the set without fuckin' up something major, ha ha, but he set the
standard (well..of course Earl "the pearl" Hudson set the standard,
but Mackie set our standard). Pete, Dicenco... all of them where great... even
Dave Hahn and Leo kicked ass. But seriously that Age of Quarrel line up in it's
day was the best, for what ever it was worth. The street toughness, the so-called
spiritual quest, the nerdy goofiness, the egos the conflicts and all: the chemistry
just worked. The music was hard and on stage it was strong, I mean fuck it,
I'm proud of what it was, I aint heart broken over all this Cro-Mags shit and
the nonsense that it's become, I have done a lot of great shows as that band
and made good music it was a good part of my life we all got to travel see other
countries, meet lots of people and influence a lot of people. That's pretty
large for a bunch of broke ass knuckle head kids, which is what we were.
I'm not going to cry about it like those other clowns. Things are good for me: I have my son, my woman, my label and my new project. So I won't piss and moan about the past, when me & John did the "reunion" it was only supposed to be a few gigs. At first just the one, that turned into 2 that turned into us and the Brains for a few shows, then a few more shows got added, but it wasn't supposed to be full time again. I told John I was working on new shit and I didn't want to do the mags full time and you know if John would have just not went and did those gigs without me, we could have even done it again some day. But that wasn't enough. He went and did it, even though we both agreed it was only for a few shows and we wouldn't do it again without both of us and he did. It was just wrong. It could have at least ended on a positive and strong note, a gig with us both up there, instead of fizzling and petering out like a burnt out soap opera again.
And in coin what he did he was ripping off me and my family! And stealing from my son! By advertising the "Cro-Mags" , misleading the public and the promoters and getting paid as the Cro-Mags without me he was ripping me off. He says they didn't make any money. Well, according to his drummer that's cause the promoters felt cheated cause they were advertising Cro-Mags and what they got was John & No-Mags. John was telling promoters we were having complications with the pregnancy so I had to stay home which was a lie!!! Just so people wouldn't get pissed. And to top it off he even canceled a baby shower gig behind my back we were supposed to do at CB's, to help us out with some money and shit for the kid. Yo what kind of shit is that for a grown 40 something year old man to pull!?!? Yeah he's real spiritual... he's a spiteful old fuck! Here I am, I've known him over 20 years, I'm having my first kid - he should be helping me, not fucking me over, calling CB's behind my back!!?? And then going on that tour??!! That's when I was officially done with him for the last time, and that's when I wanted to fight him and called him out. He told me to "grow up" - real tough from a guy who talks so much shit. I told him let's meet up, you and me on the street we can arrange a spot, one on one with a video camera no gloves no time limits we will pick a spot and film it for the world to see. Fuck the world, so I could watch it at home over and over in slow motion! ha ha!
shit about grappling & jiu-jitsu... Yo, come down to the academy; Not even
to fight, just to train! See how long you last on the mats. We got white belts
down there 1/2 my size that would destroy him, we even got a boxing ring!! I
asked renzo and this was months ago he said it was cool after class, with someone
there to keep it fair and someone to film it, he said it was cool, shit we could
even sell the rights to some label and make a few $$$... ha ha!!! He could give
it to his wack ass temple and I could use it for my kid! ha ha!!!
it at this point, fuck'em. If I wanted him that bad I'd be banging his door
down. What satisfaction am I gonna get fighting him ??? He's over weight, over
rated and over the hill and over with him - over all this crap!!! The fucked
up thing is that I used to be friends with all of those guys. We were all friends.
I had good times with them, all of them. We laughed a lot it was fun at one
point. I did get along with them and we were all friends, I thought... But that's
just how it goes. I guess it really is the age of quarrel. I wish the old band
would have stayed together but now it's just too bad, it's long gone and there's
no turning back...
thing about being "mean to fans"? Boo fuckin hoo! Yo, fuck that shit.
If some kid wants to stage dive, that's fine, that's great, I love it, the more
the merrier. But yo, when idiots start pushing you out of the way so they can,
and running into you and breaking your instruments and your gear and shit just
so they can be on stage and mosh and go home and be like "I was all over
that stage" !!! Fuck that shit ,I aint some rich kid who can afford to
buy new shit every time some new jack hardcore kid wants to trample all over
it. John just don't have any gear that's why he don't care besides it's less
work for him to sing when there's a dozen kids doing it for him for his out
of breath ass. I will crack some moron if he don't care about wrecking my gear
and wrecking the gig for everyone else - I don't just randomly hit people, Christ!!!
And that shit with the kid and the baseball bat!?!? Yo, that kid used to work
with Earth Crisis when I was on tour with them doing merch, and while he was
watching our merch & shit $500 turned up missing and he was the only one
there!!! So fuck that, he's lucky I didn't bust his ass at that show, and I
was waving "the bat" because he and his buddies thought they where
gonna film our set and make a compilation to sell and I was like, "Yo,
fuck that! You ain't filming my set and selling it and making $$ money off my
ass you fucking little scumbag thief!!!" And beside I was laughing the
whole time I was swinging it around. I was just letting him know that's all,
I wasn't gonna "beat" him with it!!??!! It was him and his buddies
- the "earth crisis kid" - that I was taunting and making fun of on
stage when I was saying "straight edge faggot ass motherfuckers" this
that & the other. I was just braking their balls. What I didn't realize
was that more then half the place was straight edge and they thought I was talking
to them. But who cares, gimme a fuckin brake!!! Everyone takes shit so fucking
serious. Since when do you go to a punk rock or hardcore show and go, "ooooh
they offended me, I'm so upset"??? Quit taking everything so godamn serious.
I helped invent the shit. I'm just up there having a good time, Christ! I'm
friends with fucking straight edge motherfuckers Ian Makay and all the guys
who invented the shit. What the fuck do I really care what other people do???
Or who's straight edge or who's not??!! Just don't fuckin' bother me that's
all, ha ha ha!!!
John and Parris I'm worn out from all their shit talk. Parris just goes on and
on like some wounded bitch. Its like dude, "80 page" letters &
"50 page" letters he sends to magazines and webzines about me!! Dude,
that's obsessing! John always said he was on my dick. I guess he still is. Ever
since he was a Stimulators fan I didn't know who used to come to all our shows,
til he joined up with me. Until now - now he hates me ! If you didn't have me
and John to talk about, would anybody even care what you have to say about anything????
Would you have anything to say about anything??? Grow up!!!
I have a
family, a son. I'm moving on with my life, why don't they move on with their's
instead of wasting so much negative energy on me and being such shit talking
bitches? Parris is a talented guy. He writes great riffs and songs, he is a
good artist, director, etc... Why doesn't he stop wasting so much time on me?
He's obsessing!!! Life goes on dude, its insane! I would almost feel bad for
him if he hadn't fucked me over so good and wasn't still ripping me off and
trying to fuck with me and my life.
needs to take his own advice and "grow the fuck up"!!! And stop talking
about my family in interviews or any fuckin' where else, grow the fuck up you
40 something year old man! Act your age you fucking loser! I just turned 36
I'm too old for this shit!!! I got better things to deal with!
talked me into moving into the temple? Yeah, we were tripping out on mushrooms
- me, him, John Watson and Crazy Dave - we all moved in. John left the same
night. A couple days later I went looking for him and found him smokin' a spliff
listening to the Bad Brains. I stayed about 3 months and left cause they said
that I could do more preaching as a musician, yeah recruiting. This shit is
such a joke. Yeah, he did use to preach to me all the time. We also smoked a
ton of weed while he did and he also did a ton of blow on the sneak tip that
I didn't know about. And here I thought he was just fired up from Krsna Consciousness.
Not for nothing, I actually saw Prahbupada when I was a kid. So, if what they
say is true it wasn't John's doing after all. Fuck him and his bogus little
temple, yeah he raised money with his construction company my ass! He is such
a fraud and a hypocrite.
Hey man, it all works out in the end. I just hope we don't keep getting reincarnated around each other. ha ha ha!
shit just needs to get deaded. There's a fuckin' war going on. I got a family
to take care of. I could care less about this dumb ass shit, the shit that really
pisses me off is is when John sends his so called messages to me at the end
of his "interview... Yo, if they're "messages to me" then that's
where they should go "to me"
The statements I made, "that I wasn't gonna be on his fake ass Cro-Mags tour" and that he wouldn't face me before they went out and did it - that was all true. I did call him out and he told me to "grow up." Well, I guess that's something we all should have done a long time ago.
some fucking nerve ever mentioning my family or "wishing us luck"
!! Fuck him !!! My kid's got everything he needs and more, my CD is doing good
I'm doing good, my band is doing good, this was exactly why I said in the beginning
of this so-called reunion, it was only to be a short term thing,we even said
it on our website in the beginning, the whole reason we decided to do it was
cause Parris had us both arrested and we thought it would be funny to say fuck
him and make the fans happy at the same time,it was just for a laugh, it wasn't
like we were gonna get back together for good !
I addressed all his bullshit but I don't even care anymore. What a confused,
fucked up, misunderstood, stupid band we were. At least we were good, though!
Harley's War is on!!! I'm tired of the shit talk. The band is over, let it rest.
"The band of quarrel" for the age of quarrel!!!
So now, I bow out of the "quarrel" it's done ...this war is over it's time for Harley's War!
In the end... I guess out of all that negative energy something positive did come out of it... music!!!
Cro-mags rest in peace.