Saturday, March 5, 2011

Supertouch Interview

Here’s an interview I did with Mark Ryan last December – January. It was supposed to be in my final, NYHC issue of The Ghent Decontrol, but I only got the final answers back once the zine was send off to the printer’s. WRRB used this interview as the base for the second issue of Sob Stories. But since I did the interview I think it’s allowed that I put it up here as well.

I think it’s a real bummer this interview didn’t end up in the zine, that was available for the first time at the Belgian Supertouch show. Through this interview I got to talk to Mark Ryan a bit in Belgium and at their Newport UK show, and I must say, if I could have done this interview IRL it would have been awesome. Mark told me stories about Billy Psycho, The Psychos, early Agnostic Front shows, the Earth Is Flat Revelation Advertisement picture, etc.

I believe Supertouch is gonna be back later this year and I must say that I am excited about this. I was skeptical to see Supertouch in 2011, but they proved me wrong, their shows were nothing short of amazing, even on a huge stage like in Antwerp.

So, next month you’re coming across the Atlantic for your second European tour. The first time over was, I believe, in 1992 into 1993. What do you expect to be different now, for the band, for you personally and for the touring itself?

It's actually the third time. We did a small one in ‘95 as well. We were really happy with the first one which was from October till the end of December in ‘92. There were some really great shows and it's always great to be able to play almost every night. We still have 3/4 out of the same people and rehearsals have been amazing. We have all stayed musically active so we none of us are rusty or forgot how to play our instruments. We are actually doing things musically that we struggled with earlier on. Personally we are all really excited to be playing in Supertouch again as well as starting to get to be able to document some of the things we were writing after The Earth Is Flat.

How did the ‘90s European tour go by the way, as far as you can remember? Was there a certain Supertouch anticipation by the European crowd at the time, or do you have the feeling that you got to European soil a little too late?

The ‘92 tour went great. I didn't feel like it was too l
ate. I felt like we were really starting to dig into our sound finally, so it was a good time for us.

What actually happened with Supertouch? Did you ever officially break up, or did you just go on hiatus? I’m asking because Supertouch has always kept playing some reunion shows from time to time?

Yeah, we officially broke up in ‘96 while we were starting to work on the new LP Guide To The Stars. Being in the studio is hard sometimes and at that point all of us had slightly different ideas of what direction we wanted some of the material to go.

We didn't think we would get back together until we wound up playing as the surprise guest for Norman Brannon's Anti-Matter book release show. It was also a benefit for J. Robbins' son. We really wanted to do it and were surprised how good it felt to play the songs again once we started to rehearse.

Now that you have a new EP out on Reaper Records and are touring Europe, is Supertouch back to being a real band?

Yes, once we found an old tape with some of the pre-production for our lost LP, we knew we had to record it and put it out. We are all on the same page, have a clear vision and very excited to get it out there. Now we are rehearsing all of the time and having a blast.

I heard something about you guys recording or releasing a new album in 2011. Can you tell us something more about that? Will it mainly be the mid-‘90s shelved second full length, or newly written songs?

When we broke up in ‘96 we were starting to record Guide To The Stars, the follow up record to The Earth Is Flat. Better from the Anti-Matter comp was taken from it and the only song that we finished. The original recordings we were working on are lost and we are gonna start recording them sometime in the spring, most likely.

Do you guys still have the feeling you can write great hardcore songs? With being older and possibly having lost that youthful anger you need to create great hardcore songs?

We always seemed to wait a little too long before we put something out and when we started rehearsing again and it started to sound great, we didn't want to wait forever to put these songs out. We are also lucky enough to be playing in a band with Dean Baltulonis who happens to also be a great producer (Sick Of It All, The Hope Conspiracy and all of the Hold Steady records). So we decided to get right in there and start getting this stuff out.

We started to talk to Patrick from Reaper and he was a really cool dude and some of our old friends like Guav and DJ were involved with the label. It felt like the right fit. We went in the studio and recorded 4 songs in October. We decided to put one song from Guide To The Stars on it, which is Lost My Way. So we figured out what else we could put on there to keep the LP intact. Just These Days is song my friend Ravi Dhar (Eye For An Eye) and I wrote in the mid-‘90s which I always loved and wanted to get out there. He plays guitar on that one as well. It came out killer. Get On, Get On was a song Dean and I wrote about 10 years ago that fit in well and Now That You're Far From Home we wrote right after The Earth Is Flat and finally recorded it.

What’s up with the cover photo of your new EP? Not that I have a problem with a nice girl under the shower, I just don’t get the idea behind it.

My friend Jammi York took the photo on the cover of the EP. I really liked the colors and I thought the image of someone swimming fit in well with the lyrics to Lost My Way and Just These Days. So we went with it.

I don’t want to sound like an asshole, and I probably will, but my favorite Supertouch recording is the WNYU set. Do you feel that you never captured the great live sound of (early) Supertouch in a studio, or do you completely disagree? I’ve been told the WNYU set will get an official release, can you tell us more about that?

Yeah, recording was difficult back then and I don't think we ever really came close to capturing what we really sounded like. On our new EP we finally captured Biv's guitar sound and our sound in general and we're all very happy about it. This is more of the style of The Earth Is Flat/Anti Matter era's than our sound when we first started.

My friend Matt is starting a label called Horror Hotel and we wanted to help him get it off of the ground so he will putting out a limited edition of the NYU tape on vinyl, limited press of 500.

Do you actually remember doing that WNYU Crucial Chaos Saint Patrick’s Day session? Any funny related stories about that?

It was with Murphy's Law, so we were probably getting a little crazy that day and it's all a blur to me right now.

The unreleased 5 song EP that’s been floating around for years, when was this recorded? Why was this one never released?

I think we did this right before What Did We Learn. We weren't happy with the way it came out, so we never put it out.

Early 2010 Supertouch bassist Joe Graziano took his own life. I don’t know if Joe was still in the band then, neither do I know if he was an original member (not that it really matters), but did you guys think about calling it a day or something like that after receiving the news of his death? How did Supertouch as a band react to his passing away?

We were all devastated. We had just reconnected with Joe (he played the Radio Silence show with us in Toronto with Negative Approach and Dave Smalley) and he was looking forward to playing again with us. We are all still pretty broken up about it.

In hindsight, what was your favorite Supertouch period when you were the first time around?

It's tough to say. There were highs and lows in all of those early periods.

Do you distinctly separate early and later Supertouch like most hardcore kids tend to do?

Yeah for sure, there's definitely a difference as we grew as a band.

I’ve seen a picture of you singing for Agnostic Front, what’s the story behind that?

My first band Death Before Dishonor, the NY one with Mike Judge, not to be confused with the one that is still active today, was like Agnostic Front's little brother band in the United Blood/Victim In Pain days. We played a ton of shows with them and Roger started asking me to come up and sing a song with them at all of their shows. It was usually Discriminate Me, but I also sang Power every now and then too. I love Agnostic Front and am still stoked that I used to get a chance to sing on stage with them. Definitely one of the highlights of my life in hardcore.

Corrosion Of Conformity used to ask me to come sing with them as well (usually Prayer), there's some tapes floating around, though I would love for a picture to pop up one of these days.

I’ve always read that you were one of the first guys to introduce a hip hop into NYHC. Be it with your clothing style, your vocal flows, etc. Do you think you were one of the first yourself to adapt different aspects of the hip hop world? Who else was early to crossover the hardcore punk with NY hip hop style? When did you get into hip hop? How deep were you into it (with hip hop being very underground as well during that time)?

There was always a small group of kids into hip hop in the early ‘80s in the hardcore scene. Obviously the Beastie Boys. Mackie from the Cro-Mags, Eddie Leeway, Gwen and a bunch of others.

Did you consciously add the hip hop flavor to your vocal style or did your flow just turn out that way?

I was listening to it a lot so it just kind of crept in there.

Are you still into hip hop? What is the most recent hip hop record you purchased or took the effort to check out?

I still listen to old school hip hop. I dig the occasional new song, but don't really follow it any longer. The last hip hop record I bought was Spank Rock. I saw him live and his performance was one of the best I've seen from a hip hop show.

What are your top 5 favorite hip hop full-lengths?

Tribe Called Quest - Low End Theory

Eric B And Rakim - Paid In Full

Brand Nubian - All For One

Public Enemy - Fear Of A Black Planet

EPMD - Strictly Business

A question my buddy J-Money wanted to see answered, what are your favorite clothing brands?

I try to keep it pretty simple. The only brands I say I still wear on a consistent basis are Converse and Fred Perry.

What’s the Mark Ryan Helicopter, you’re trademark pit move from the ‘80s?

Kind of like the windmill, but over the top of my head. Haha.

Alright, thank you very much for answering these questions.

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