When was the first time you met [founding Agnostic Front guitarist] Vinnie Stigma?
“That’s a good question. I remember seeing Stigma in the pit at a show at the Peppermint Lounge, but I didn’t actually meet him properly until a different show. I also remember meeting him at a show at Max’s Kansas City when The Mob played. I wrote about that on our new album, on the song I Remember.”
How much has Vinnie changed since you first met him?
“I don’t think he’s changed much (laughs). He’s pretty much the same person. Vinnie’s always been easy to approach. He’s friendly, and he was one of the few guys in New York City who dug my band [The Psychos] back then, but we would see each other at shows, sometimes when he was playing, and he was always friendly and nice to me. Stigma never had that harder edge some people did, which I think had something to do with his Italian upbringing. He had that neighbourhood vibe about him, ‘cause he was born and raised in New York City. But now that I think about it, anyone who found themselves in the hardcore scene was some kind of outcast or misfit looking for friendship. It was a very welcoming scene.”
You were part of the scene at the same time as Beastie Boys and Bad Brains, right?
“Yeah, I was definitely part of that whole wave of hardcore punk. And it was great. But I lived in New Jersey, which to me was odd. I felt like an outsider. Yet no-one ever asked me where I was from. That division came later, but it wasn’t there at the start.”
On 1986’s Cause For Alarm, Agnostic Front were the first band to mix punk and metal. Were you aware that that’s what you were doing?
“We didn’t, and to be quite honest with you it wasn’t my cup of tea. I was one of the guys that wasn’t really comfortable with it. I think that direction came from us having two prominent members from [the band] Cause For Alarm join Agnostic Front. I hoped that we’d kind of become one awesome band. I thought we were going to do some incredible hardcore record, but I didn’t really know much metal so I didn’t really understand what was going on. I really wasn’t feeling what we were doing so I stepped away for a bit, but then I came back and did the record. Now when I look back, I wish that I had the chance to be a bit more prepared for Cause For Alarm, because by the time I jumped in I was still unsure how to approach the songs because they were so new to me. I was much more comfortable with the hardcore sound of [1984 predecessor] Victim In Pain. I didn’t know what to do, so it was very uncomfortable for me. But we were on the verge of something new and interesting on that album, I was just a little bit late to realise that. But I should have known, because Agnostic Front have always been leaders not followers.”