I might as well dedicate a post to the early-mid '00s Boston pos men by sharing the demo with the blog readers. Shout out to Mental for making the '04 era what it was.
Mental - First Demo
1. Fuck Responsibility
2. High School Sucks
4. Growing Pains
5. Blue In The Face
I also found an old interview in a folder of my computer with DFJ. It was just in a Word file, and there was no more info. I don't know where it is from, so thanks to whoever did the interview, it's a good read.
Anyone who has been following the hardcore scene in the last few years has no doubt heard some of the bands that "Dance Floor" Justin has played drums for. Some of the bands he is currently in, such as Mental, Righteous Jams, and RNR, have been getting a lot of attention lately due to some energetic live performances and some great records, so I decided to e-mail Justin a few questions...
Alright, the usual shit. How did you get into underground music, what were the first and best shows you attended early on in your hardcore career and what were some of your first records/favorite records of all time?
The end of middle school I got into metal big time. I felt the need for speed after getting "Kill Em All" so I started reading and learning about punk and hardcore. I knew the Misfits, Black Flag and bands like that because Metallica wore their t-shirts and shit. There was a kid in my high school that was into a lot of the local bands like Sam Black Church and Tree so we started going to shows together. My earliest shows were usually all ages shows at the Middle East upstairs, The Rat, and the Axis. I saw some cool bands and a lot of shitty faux Biohazard bands. I'm glad that I had discovered the Rev releases early on in the game. Some of my favorite shows have been the Burn reunion in December '97. Man, Burn were so loud and heavy that day. Leeway is probably the best live band I've ever seen. The Floorpunch shows at The Rat were a lot of fun. Really insane sets, especially the first Back To School Jam when they opened up with As One (Raybeez had died earlier that week). Those early In My Eyes and Ten Yard Fight shows were some memorable ones too.
When and why did you decide to pick up drumsticks and start pounding the skins? Did you have any particular drummers that inspired you early on? How have you seen yourself develop over the years as a musician? What do you think about where you are at now with your playing ability and where would you like to be?
Oh shit, I started playing drums when I was 11! I was a big Aerosmith fan and Joe Kramer had a cool looking drumset and looked much more macho then anyone else in the band so I was really into that. Later, around age 13 or 14 when I got more serious about playing I was really into Lars Ulrich (who fucking sucks but seemed god-like when I was younger) and Dave Lombardo from Slayer. The first hardcore drummer that I got into was Sammy Siegler. I thought it was really cool that he was so young and could play so fast. I used to play along to Youth Of Today and Bold records all day on the drums. In fact I still put a Youth Of Today cd in my discman and play along to it. I love the obvious choices like John Bonham. I’m really into big and powerful drum sounds and he’s the king. Mackie from Cro-Mags was the first drummer that showed me that you can play hardcore punk and still have style. Actually the first time I saw him play live was really inspiring for me.
You have been in tons of bands over the years. Could you do a run down of the complete list and make some comments about each?
I'm not going to name EVERY stupid band I have been in. but I will name the more noteworthy ones. Turned Away, youth crew revival style hardcore. My first "serious" hardcore band. Only played a few shows and recorded a demo. Reach The Sky, I filled in for them for a handful of shows in senior year of high school. Good experience. My first show for them was opening for Snapcase and AFI. There were definitely skid marks on my underwear from that show. The Trust, I played guitar for them because their lead guitar man joined In My Eyes. I was a big Trust fan and friends with all those dudes, so joining the band only made things funner. Down But Not Out - basically the post-Trust band. I played guitar. We recorded a demo and played a bunch of shows. We should have taken it further than we should have. I still love that demo. FYA recorded a piss poor demo in early ‘99 while I was still in The Trust. The new FYA that started in 2001 was much different than the old one that recorded the demo. First of all, we were much heavier, second, 3/5ths of the band was made up for druggies. It was awesome, it worked out perfectly. The later material is some of the best material I think I have ever done with a band. I hope we record them eventually. Anyway we broke up only about 6 months after getting back together. The last show was a memorable night of acid bum/straight edge mosh and psychedelic lamps in the dirty basement of the Berwick. Think I Care played too, they were sick. Taste Of Fear, hardcore with grindcore/death influences. The singer Daryl Kahan sang in that old NY band Citizens Arrest, who are one of my favorite bands ever. Crushing shit. I played on Taste Of Fear’s newest recording which is on their 91-03 discography coming out soon on Throne Records. I also played drums on Daryl's side project death metal band called Funebrarum. It’s pretty dark. The Funebrarum record just came out on Midnight Records but I think it is sold out.
When and why did you get dubbed "Dance Floor" Justin? Do you ever get tired of people calling you that or is it still cool?
The first kid to call me Dance Floor Justin was Chris Raymond, the bassist for The Trust (no I did not give the nickname to myself, idiots). I don’t care if people call me it. Project X is cool and Porcell is cool, so it’s better than having a nickname after a Walk Proud song. I used to like to refer myself as "Dance Floor” Justin when I was younger but now I feel like an idiot when I have to leave a message on someone’s answering machine saying "What’s up, it’s Dance Floor Justin" but the fact of the matter is that they probably wouldn’t know who it was if I said my real name.
What bands are you currently a member of? Of all of those bands, which ones are you having the most fun with? Which one do you feel challenges you the most as a musician?
Mental, RNR, Righteous Jams, The Wrong Side (formerly Dumptruck), and Mind Eraser. The one I have the most fun with is Mental because we get to travel all around and play big shows. Whatever, I don’t care what anyone says, it’s pretty cool to play in front of a crap load of kids who are going off and singing along. I like RNR a lot too because I can get more creative with the drums. A lot of the beats I play aren't standard hardcore beats so it’s a bit more challenging. Obviously I dig every band I’m in or else I wouldn’t be doing it. I just love playing. Fuck staying home all day on the internet. Whenever I do that I just get depressed.
Talk a little about Mind Eraser. How did the band get together? How has the response to the demo been? How does it feel screaming into a microphone at shows as opposed to sitting behind your drum kit? Also, what's the deal with covering Think I Care on the demo?
Me and Chris Corry were talking about doing a power violence band like Crossed Out, Infest, etc because we are both really into that shit. I wanted to sing for a band too because I thought it would be a good way of letting out some steam since I’m pretty much a ball of negative energy most of the time. Our friends Mullet (Bones Brigade drummer) and Jimmy (Shotdead bassist) are both fans of fast sick hardcore so it seemed logical to get together. I like playing drums in a band better but its fun to sing. I feel weird sometimes on stage since I’m used to being in the back behind the drum kit. But since I’m obsessed with myself it’s also cool to be out in the front and have everyone notice you. I've seen kids debate on message boards as to why we put a Think I Care cover on our demo, like if it was some secret message or trying to be clever. In reality, we covered a Think I Care song on the demo because they are sick band and it’s a good song. Nothing more, nothing less.
Does it amaze you how some of your bands, most notably your Lockin Out projects, have totally blown up in the scene?
Yeah sorta... I didn’t think that Mental would end up playing more than a handful of shows. We wanted an excuse to play Supertouch and Underdog covers. It was the first time I was in a band with those dudes and I became really impressed with their dedication to practicing and playing shows. Much more dedicated than a lot of other kids I have played music with.
Playing in so many bands right now, do you ever get totally burned out and just say "fuck it, I need to relax”?
No, never. I am enjoying myself too much to get burnt out. Music is what I like to do for fun and I enjoy it, so it’s not stressful for me. Plus like I said before, if I wasn’t constantly out on the road or playing shows, I would be on the computer for like 16 hours a day and I would get extremely fat. I hate being fat and I hate being depressed and confined to the internet all day.
What are some of the best shows you have ever played?
Mental as Posi Numbers was a lot of fun. I was really surprised and laughing the whole time because I couldn’t believe that so many kids were into it. The Dumptruck show in Montreal a few months back was also a lot of fun because kids up there are so siked on hardcore and love to mosh. Down But Not Out and FYA had a lot of fun memorable shows too. The Berwick was a rad place to have shows after you become immune to the Ebola.
You just got back from a tour with RNR. How did that go over? Were kids digging you guys? Any funny or amusing occurrences you would care to share?
RNR tour fuckin ruled. Some of the shows were hit or miss, but for the most part everywhere we went kids dug us and knew our shit. Sometimes its refreshing to go to other states and play because when you play Tennessee and Florida the kids are totally psyched on hardcore and not all cynical like the kids up in Boston.
It's a pretty well known fact that you are a Krishna consciousness devotee. First of all, could you give a brief introduction to what Krishna is for those who might be ignorant and then explain how got involved in it? How has it changed your life and the way you interact with others?
Is it a well-known fact? Cool! I hope people don’t think that all Hare Krishnas are insane like me! I’m not a very good example of one. The general philosophy with Krishna consciousness is pretty simple. The goal of our existence as living beings is to re-connect with God in a loving relationship. It takes dedication and sacrifice but I think it’s worth it. Obviously there are many ways to go about this and if anyone has any questions they should e-mail me because I don’t want to feel like I'm overly preaching or something. But yeah, ask anyone who has known me before I became a Hare Krishna devotee and they will see that my life has improved. I look at the world in a different way now and I think it has saved me from just killing myself. So, yes it has changed many aspects of my life but all these changes have been welcome because it has been all positive.
It seems like the general consensus with hardcore kids is that religion is something that doesn't belong in the scene. How do you feel about that as a devotee? How do you feel Krishna coincides with general hardcore ideals? How does it oppose it? How do other Krishna devotees you know feel about your involvement in hardcore?
I don’t try to equate hardcore with Krishna consciousness because I don’t think I’m a good representative for the tradition. The philosophy is so vast and encompassing that I wouldn’t want people to think that being a Hare Krishna means that you have to be in a hardcore band. Music and hardcore is something I do as good fun. I think its cool to have something to say in your music. It becomes sort of obnoxious when you start threatening people if they don’t agree with you. I think there’s a fine line between conveying a message in your music and being completely rude and in your face about it. I mean, be respectful it’s the hardcore scene, not a temple.
Didn't you go to India recently? What exactly was all that about and what were some valuable experiences you had there?
The first time I went to India was in early 2001. I stayed for two months and it was awesome. I got sick towards the end so that’s why I came back. The last time I went was last year for about 5 weeks. It was so much fun. India is cool because no one is stressed out like they are here in the US. Some parts felt like it was a different planet. I went through some heavy shit (all positive of course) and I think I’m a different person now because of my experiences in India. It’s weird I’m much more normal and content when I’m there. I should move. I had more culture shock coming back to the West than I did when I first arrived in India.
What are some things / people / bands / trends that you have you totally psyched about hardcore right now? What are some things that you get you down about it?
There are some cool bands out that I dig. I love Desperate Measures and Think I Care especially. Those are probably my two favorite bands right now. Always a lot of fun to see. I like the new So Be It record a lot. The Get Down record is a good one as well. The new Disfear stuff slays and Wolfbrigade is really cool. I don’t really get down about anything in hardcore anymore. I don’t take everything so life and death anymore when it comes to the scene or whatever. But besides that there are no real burning controversial issues in hardcore that I can see right now. It just seems like kids that go to shows are genuinely into the music. I got no problem with that.
What the fuck is the deal with the explosion of Boston-area kids "getting low" on the dance floor and trying to act like it's late ‘80s NYC and they are the biggest Warzone and Underdog fans around?
Well that whole style of dancing is not really my bag. It’s not aggressive enough for me to really quench my aggressive emotions but whatever. People think that I am some outspoken activist about this style of dancing but I couldn’t give a shit. I just think it looks funny. Who cares how someone dances? When kickboxing was huge, everyone made fun of the kids who started floor punching. A lot of kids that make fun of dudes being into Warzone and Underdog are the same ones that emulate the youth crew all stars in meticulous detail.
What do you do in your spare time for fun, work, etc?
Go to the temple and play drums. That’s about it. I like some TV and movies (mostly sci-fi and documentaries). I work out sometimes. I want to get more into that because the endorphins are good for me! I don’t have a real job though.
What are some of your favorite non-hardcore bands? You like a lot of metal, right?
Into Another is probably my favorite. I love Black Sabbath and classic rock bands like Queen and Led Zeppelin. Lots of old death and black metal (Mayhem, Entombed, Darkthrone, Demigod, Therion, Death, Celtic Frost, etc). I’m also really into hip hop. Nas, Mobb Deep, Eminem, Wu-tang Clan, stuff like that. I still listen to the early Michael Jackson albums and older Motown but for the most part though, I only like music has an edge or is aggressive.
Any last comments, shout-outs, fuck yous?
Thanks for the interview. New Righteous Jams LP coming out soon. The RNR LP just came out and new shit from Mental and Mind Eraser soon! Book some of my bands because if I'm not out playing shows I will probably hurt myself.