Monday, December 23, 2013

HMT presents HARDCORE - The Ultimate Picks w/ Henry Rollins Interview

Heavy Metal Textbooks recently sent out a challenge via social media asking for some of our contributors and guests to come up with their "Top 20 Hardcore Bands of All Time" List. I will proudly say these are some of the best compiled hardcore lists in the blogosphere. Many chose 20 or more but who's counting. 

(Following this section you will find the long awaited salute to Henry Rollins and a check list of items I personally own and highly recommend. )

"22 of My Favorite Hardcore Bands"

  by Kevin Grant

Keep in mind these are some of my favorites. I tend to favor bands which weren't afraid to take chances, and hardcore tends to be very puritanical and, if anything, punishes experimentation, so my list could easily be someone else's LEAST favorite band list.

Black Flag - Ironically, there would be little disagreement about Black Flag's inclusion on any "best-of" list, yet outside of the "Damaged" album very little of their output sounds like hardcore is supposed to sound like. Question most diehard Black Flag fans and you will soon realize they only consider about 20 percent of the band's discography to be valid (not unlike a conversation you might have with Sabbath fans). From 1977 to 1980 they were essentially a 60's style garage rock band, not unlike ? and the Mysterians or The Kingsmen. From 1982 until '86 they charted a course of continual outrage, making stops at avant garde metal and free jazz.

Bad Brains - You may find someone claim there were hardcore bands before Bad Brains, but that simply isn't true. There would be no fast music as we know it without them, and their high level of musical ability gave them surgical precision. Also: single-handedly invented the mosh breakdown.

The Cro-mags - The Cro-mags were genuine street dudes who you should be a little nervous around. They stood in stark contrast to their sickly, tubercular forbears in NYC punk. These were not art school intellectuals smoking cigarettes and looking bored alongside Warhol and Ginsberg, rather they were heavily tattooed Hare Krsna dudes looking to fight. Many old-timers would lament the day testosterone appeared in the clubs, but frankly it cleared out a lot of frauds and bad poetry. Unfortunately, only "Age of Quarrel" and the band's demos are worth listening to; fortunately, they are so good that that is plenty.

The Circle Jerks - After Keith Morris parted ways with Black Flag he went on to record "Group Sex", the debut Circle Jerks album, which sounds like Black Flag covering Bad Brains songs. It is also extremely funny. Almost everything they recorded after this album is junk though, so don't bother.

Fear - Buy their first album, that is all (notice a trend here?). Lee Ving's personal politics, played out in a way that might be construed as sarcasm or satire (but sadly, it's not), are pretty reprehensible, but the speed and fire of this first album is unreal. Although you might never guess it by their lyrics, the band possessed a musical maturity head and shoulders above their peers. Like HR of Bad Brains and Glenn Danzig in the Misfits, Ving could REALLY sing, and wasn't afraid to do so.


Minor Threat - In some ways, when I think "hardcore", the sound I hear in my head is Minor Threat. Blistering, highly focused. All of their stuff is crucial listening.

Integrity - Starting out as a straight-edge, vegan metal band that played hardcore shows, and then morphing into a satanic hardcore band, few bands have been more divisive over the years. Singer Dwid has the greatest scream in all of music. This is violence set to music. It's what the end of the world sounds like, and despite the fact that many people would disagree, I'd recommend all of their albums.

Sheer Terror - This is another band unafraid to showcase metal influences or the ability of their singer to actually sing. Deliberately provocative, offensive...and funny. All of their stuff is good.

Poison Idea - Thrashy, difficult to categorize. One of the ugliest bands who ever lived. I like all of their stuff. I think I'd be dead in a week if I tried to live like any of them.

The Germs

The Germs - Definitely on the cusp between punk and hc, darby crash had some of the greatest lyrics of anyone, ever, period, and the band had some really classic songs. Unfortunately the complete circus that was their live show overshadowed their brilliance. They were and are extremely underrated. The movie they made about them recently is completely useless and terrible.

SSD - Brutal Boston hardcore with a really unique sound. Way underrated and written off by many for having delved into metal in their later career, in their prime these guys were untouchable.


Fugazi - I suppose it's up to you whether or not these guys were hardcore or not. Their politics could be really annoying or really inspirational, I guess. I saw them completely tear the roof off the joint playing in front of a bunch of cokeheads in L.A. I think their records-- all of them-- are brilliant.

Rites of Spring - Guy Piccioto's band before he joined Fugazi--- this stuff is pretty hard to explain and definitely not for everyone. Lyrically fantastic, and the music probably owes as more to British indie rock as it does to "Rock For Light". I'm betting people tried to beat these guys up for being wimps pretty frequently. All of their stuff is great.

Husker DU - Long-haired gay guys with handlebar mustaches who ended up writing some of the fastest music ever recorded but also weren't afraid to write some pretty powerful stuff verging on power pop. Brilliant.

Septic Death - Fronted by famous artist Pushead, Septic Death wrote some of the most interesting music of the 80's. Bizarre time changes, mysterious lyrics and withering intensity make SD worth seeking out. All of their stuff is good and under appreciated.

The Misfits - I'm not sure if even I consider these guys a hc band, but they certainly verged on it pretty often and were "of the scene". Much like the Dead Kennedy's "In God We Trust, Inc.", the "Earth A.D." album is a one-off thrash masterpiece by a band that was often comfortable in Dion and the Belmonts territory. (sidenote: I probably should have put the Dead Kennedy's on this list).

GISM - Almost every Japanese hardcore band I've been exposed to has been interesting on some level. I mean, check out these lyrics:
"Endless blockades Endless blockades Endless blockades for the pussyfooter

Endless blockades Endless blockades Endless blockades for the pussyfooter

You no way notice the demagogue You no way notice the militaristic You no way notice the death in action

Bloody bomb bloody bomb Bloody bomb descend to you Bloody bomb bloody bomb Bloody bomb that they have

They surely send you the militaristic They surely send you the bombing They surely send you the death in action


Endless blockades Endless blockades Endless blockades for the pussyfooter

Endless blockades Endless blockades Endless blockades for the pussyfooter

They detest to awake you from fool They detest they united masses They detest the repressed people's scream They detest the departed spirits in the third world"
The singer of GISM famously attacked the crowd with a flamethrower at one of their shows. That guy is no joke.

Verbal Assault - Local Newport guys who sounded something like Minor Threat if Minor threat had gotten into metal and made a crossover album.

7 Seconds
7 Seconds - This band managed to maintain classic hardcore velocity while writing really catchy songs with super positive lyrics, which is typically not something I go for (the positivity part). Their songs have been stuck in my head for 25 years. Avoid their later records.

Negative Approach
Negative Approach - Midwestern caustic hate-filled negative music. The singer sounds like he is made out of battery acid. Buy all of their stuff, it will make you want to punch a wall. I mean, if you're into that sort of thing.

Underdog - As long as these guys weren't rapping they were amazing. Also, Richie sings like Adam Sandler at times, so good luck ignoring that. These songs are some of the greatest HC songs ever though, and live these guys were/are amazing. Buy all of their stuff and then go skating.

Inside Out
Inside Out - When Rage Against the Machine started my friends and I all thought it was going to be Zack's side project he did in between Inside Out records. Sadly, all they left us with was one lonely EP. IT ABSOLUTELY RULES. Don't worry, there is no rapping on this thing, just throat shredding late-80's/early 90's style metal-influenced (in a good way) hardcore. These songs will make you want to practice Karate in the mirror. That is a good thing.
and now for some epic lists from some special guests...

Fork Tongue (Prof. of Underground/HMT editor)

WILLIAM AUGUSTUS of the band B.C. 
(Before Christ)

What the fuck? There's so much good HC!

Some close runner ups (in no particular order):
Antidote - Thou Shall Not Kill 7"
Killing Time - Brightside LP
R.K.L. - Revenge Is A Beautiful Feeling 7"
D.I. Horse Bite Dog LP
OFF! - 1st Four ep's, 1-4 7"
Verbal Assault - Trial LP, On 12"
Sector Four - Disclexia 7"
Reach Motel - Roach And Roll 7", What The Heel, It's Roach Motel 7"
Hated Youth - Hardcore Rules 7"
Battalion Of Saints - Fighting Boys 12", Second Coming LP
The Accused, Martha Splatterhead's Maddest Stories Ever Told LP
Discharge - Why LP, Fight Back 7", Decontrol 7" Never Again 7" Realities Of War 7"
Circle Jerks Group Sex LP 
S.O.A. - No Policy 7"
SSD - Get It Away LP, The Kids Will Have Their Say LP
DYS, Brotherhood LP
The Fix - ST 7", Jan's Rooms 7"
Corrosion Of Conformity - Animosity LP, Eye For An Eye LP
The FU's - My America Lp, Kill For Christ LP
Void - Faith/Void Split LpSeptic Death, Now that I Have Your Attention LP, Burial 7", Kichigai 7"
Misfits - Earth A.D. LP, Walk Among Us LP, ST LP
DRI - Violent Pacification 7" Deal With It LP, Thrash Zone LP 
Agression (yes they spelled it wrong) ST LP Don't Be Mistaken LP
Crow - Bloody Tear Lp, The Beating Wings Of Destruction 12", Last Chaos LPMDC - Millions Of Dead Cops LP, Multi-Death Corporation 7" 
Lip Cream - ST LP, 9 Shocks Terror LP, Kill Ugly Pop LP 
Warzone - Lower East Side Crew 7" Don't Foret The Struggle, Don't Forget The Streets LP, Open Your Eyes LP
Doom - Police Bastard 7" Greatest Invention LP
Zouo - Final Agony 7"SSD - Get It Away 12" The Kids Will Have Their Say LP
Spazz, ST 7", Dwarf Jester Rising LP, La Revancha LP 
Inside Out - No Spiritual Surrender 7"
Effigies - Remains Nonviewable 7", We're Da Machine 12"
The Grim - ST LP
Articles Of Faith - In This Life LP, Give Thanks LP
Murphy's Law - ST LPDie Kreuzen - Cows And Beer 7", ST LP
Meatmen - Crippled Children Suck 7" We're the Meatmen And You Suck! LP
Leeway - Born To Expire LP
Burn ST 7"
Double-O - ST 7"
Crossed Out - ST 7"
Econochrist - It Run's Deep 7" Skewed 7" Ruination LP
Dropdead - ST 7", DD/Crossed Out Split 5", ST LP, 2nd LP, DD/Totalitar Split 7" DD/Unholy Grave Split 7"
Sick Of It All - ST 7", Blood, Sweat, No Tears LP 
Born Against - Nine Patriotic Hymns For Children LP, BA/Universal Order Of Armageddon Split 7"
Uniform Choice - 10 Song Demo 7", Screaming For ChangeJudge - Bringing It Down LP
JFA - Blatant Localism 7"

So I emailed Henry...

With a quick bit of research on the internet I was able to procure an innocuous email linked to THE Henry Rollins, the legendary frontman of Black Flag. I had no clue what I'd write to him, I just knew I really wanted some words from Henry. At the ripe age of 38, I realize it's easier to try and fail than not to try (or in this case "hit send") at all. So here is a direct excerpt from that said email. I'm posting this not to toot my own horn but to just show other folks out there that indeed taking chances can pay off.
"This is a long shot but I've learned that life's too short to wait for opportunities to knock.
Hope you are well. I'm also into acceptance."
Mr. Rollin's replied that indeed he would answer a few of my questions. Immediately my mind raced to come up with questions worthy of a response from a man who has traveled the earth in the good name of punk, helping charities and building social bridges through his own one man spoken word tours. That is just a mere fraction of what this man has accomplished since his youth as a member of one the most recognized punk bands in the universe, Black Flag.
When I decided to start this blog, I had manageable expectations.  I would promote the music and musicians I was most inspired by. I would incorporate the expertise of my talented friends who knew as much (most times even more) about aggressive music and the spirit of that said music to write from a genuine perspective. To write, teach and entertain our readers about the music we love. So alas, I bring you a Henry Rollins interview. A man who speaks volumes in just a few short responses.

HMT: Henry you have traveled all over the globe. Some say our biggest export is our entertainment industry. If it is, how does the world view our culture and society based on what we export?

Henry Rollins - "Our biggest export is weapons and munitions. That is how the world views our culture and society based on what we export. We are feared all over. "

HMT: You speak for a lot of people who otherwise wouldn't have a voice. What part does that play in your music, writings and spoken word tours? 

Henry Rollins - "I just put out there what I think is the right thing to do. I don’t know exactly who it goes to besides the people I meet and the letters I read. I try to be clear and direct with all the things I do. "

HMT: At the end of the day, after you either tore the roof off places with the Rollins Band or spoke in front of thousands are you able to put that side of yourself away? To Decompress and be just Henry? 

Henry Rollins - "For me, it’s all one thing. I work on all this stuff all the time. It’s hard if not impossible to shut it off. I spend a lot of time on my own, that is perhaps the way I stay level."

Shortly after this interview earlier this year, a near international crisis took place in Syria and I couldn't overlook what Mr. Rollins had told me. Regardless of the spin many news agencies were putting on the story, clearly US military intervention was not as widely accepted as they tried to make us believe. It became much more than a political issue for most of the population here and abroad. It was just one incident in many that occurs daily across the planet. We are feared for our actions much more than for our "moral" values. I want to thank Henry personally for his time and his honest responses to my questions. It is with great gratitude I put together a personal list of items I've collected throughout my youth and adulthood that you may want to share with your friends and family. It would be easy to just call this a "gift guide" but it is much more than that. Many of these items shaped who I am today and helped me understand aspects of life I had never experienced myself. Ultimately acceptance and not fear is a major factor in the progression of our lives and Henry leads by example. 


Rollins Band - Weight
This may have the hit "LIAR" but it's so much more than that. This may be one of the best cds ever created to work out to. Bluesy and Pissed off.
Rollins Band - The End of Silence
This album is an album that hit me at the right time in my life. A real kick in the ass if you're depressed and you need to get real with yourself.

My favorite of all Black Flag Albums. The traditionalists might sight earlier material but this one solidified the greatness of this band.

Black Flag - My War
This album still feels fresh. The smart man's hardcore.
Johnny Mnemonic 
Who doesn't love some cheesy sci fi once in awhile. With cameos by Henry Rollins and Dolph Lundgren, you can't go wrong. Like, WOAH!

The Henry Rollins Show - Season 1 
Henry is an amazing interviewer and his commentary on politics, news and celebrated figures is top notch. The musical peformances on this show were raw and electric.

Live at Westbeth Theater
If you buy this for one story, buy it for the RATT story. 
Henry says what we all want to say in fewer words and is much funnier.
Black Coffee Blues
This was my actual introduction to Mr. Rollins outside of his music career. Thank goodness for having intelligent friends in college who were eager to share the words of Henry.
The First Five
I asked for two books for Christmas one year. This and Bukowski's Last Night of the Earth Poems. Indeed that was a good year.


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