Interviews with Common Enemy and Cry Havoc
Suicidal Tendencies, Anthrax, D.R.I., JFA, NOFX. I was 13 the first time I heard any of these bands, at the lone city-sponsored half pipe behind my cheap suburban apartment in a half-built subdivision. Discovering those bands at that age changed my life, revealing musical aggression I’d never heard before. It was so insane and so fast, I couldn’t understand how they played it. And the things they talked about! The lyrics ranged from being possessed to skate to how horrible Reagan was, all delivered with the half-sneer, half-smirk of adrenaline-fueled rebels.
And though it’s harder to find today, the genre hasn’t disappeared.
Not only are some of skate-punk’s founders still out on the road creating havoc in the pits, but there are younger bands who have picked up the machete to blaze new trails of their own. The week of August 19th offers two different shows with blistering skate-punk bands performing. The first features stalwarts Union 13 with local favorites Brunt Of It, The FUs, and skate punks Red Line Rebels warming up the room for them at the Middle East Upstairs. The second features the intensely skate themed songs of Pennsylvania’s Common Enemy and Connecticut’s Cry Havoc!, with Tenebrae, A Dying Breed, Neighborhood Shit, and Class Struggle, at The Midway Café, a cornerstone of punk in Boston over the past couple of years.
“I’m not sure if [skate-punk] ever really went away,” said Common Enemy guitarist Justin Enemy, when asked if he’d noticed a resurgence in the scene. “I [still] see friends dusting off their boards and taking them out.”
Not everyone shares that optimism.
“I haven’t really heard much in the genre after maybe 2000,” Cry Havoc! vocalist Jonny Disaster said. “Skating hasn’t gone away, but I think I have far less in common to talk about with skaters now—as far as music goes—than I did then.” He added, “I guess the skate scene stopped wanting to skate to fast-ass Epitaph punk and switched to hip-hop, Avenged Sevenfold, or some other fuckin’ shit instead.
I’d rather be skating to Union 13 or the Descendents than to any of that fucking garbage. But that’s just me.”
I asked the guys how important all-ages shows (like their upcoming Midway date) are to the scene. “You always gotta get that new crop of young, disillusioned kids into it,” explained Jonny. “Give them a place to go where they can be around like-minded individuals. Make them realize that it’s OK if you don’t fit in,
it’s OK if you don’t buy into the shit you see on TV, or the radio, or what the ‘cool kids’ are talking about at school.”
The show’s headliner, Tenebrae (consisting of Mark Civitarese, Ryan Packer, Rob Falzano, Craig Silverman, and Dominic Dibenedetto) is certain to get the skateboards rolling to J.P. The Boston hardcore/punk supergroup represents members of The Unseen, Blood For Blood, Slapshot, Only Living Witness, The Street Dogs, and For The Worse. That’s a resume few bands can match, and their live shows live up to it. But while they’ll certainly pack the Midway and help gather the crowds for the other two bands, it’s still a group effort to engage the under-21 crowd and give them a scene in which to feel welcome.
The Middle East show is geared to be adrenaline pumping with Red Line Rebels playing their last set as a band, with their front man Crazy Jay Genoa doing what he does so well—being a barely controlled ball of energy. He’ll bounce like a superball while screaming over the wicked tight band. This is also the first show since their summer hiatus from Brunt Of It, the best new ska-core outfit I’ve seen since the Bosstones.
Bottom line? You don’t want to miss either of these shows!
Skate that shit and show the visitors that locals rip!
THE MIDWAY CAFE
3496 WASHINGTON ST.