Sunday, January 25, 2009

Supertouch Pt. 2

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Supertouch interview in Jersey Beat zine, 1989

Here's an interview that I did with Mark Ryan of Supertouch back around the spring of 1989. Some of this shit's pretty funny, if I'm allowed to say so myself. I ended up giving the interview to Jersey Beat once I figured out that the next issue of my fanzine that by that point I had been working on for three years was never actually going to come out. Jim was kind enough to scan the pages for me recently, from the only copy of that particular issue of Jersey Beat that he has left.

Like with almost all of the images around here, you can click on each one of the pages to make them larger.

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Dave: Alright, who goes back to Death Before Dishonor?
Mark: Just me. Jon played some shows before it was Supertouch, but it wasn’t really Death Before Dishonor.
Dave: I remember, in the summer of ’86, you were thinking about the band but you didn’t have the name Supertouch.
Mark: We were still using Death Before Dishonor, but it really wasn’t DBD.
Dave: Your first show as Supertouch was at the Anthrax, wasn’t it? I think it was November or October, 1987…
Mark: Oh yeah, that was the one with Bold, or Sick Of It All… was that ’87 or ’88?
Dave: ’87, because the second time I saw you was January, ’88. I remember that, because it was cold and my camera lens was fogging up.

[For the record: Supertouch, Sick Of It All, and Breakdown, Oct. 9, 1987.]

Mark: What do you think of the new songs?
Dave: Well, I hadn’t seen you in over a year. I couldn’t tell which were the new songs. The instrumental I remember you having for a while.
Mark: The second half of it—the first part we didn’t have.
Dave: Supertouch sounds different for just about any other band coming from New York, which normally would be a problem, but now it’s easier since you’re part of the Schism/Revelation thing…
Mark: We are??
Dave: Well, you were on the compilation, those kids go to your shows…
Mark: Oh yeah, but I don’t think any of our stuff sounds like Revelation music, though.
Dave: No, I’m saying that it’s really different, but still.
Mark: …it attracts that crowd.
Dave: Yeah.
Mark: We don’t have a set thing anymore, we don’t try to sound like anything. When we first started—when it was just me and Biv and some other guys—we were like, alright, it’s gonna be somewhat a cross between Scream and Marginal Man, you know. Now we don’t even think about it. All of our songs don’t even sound like “us”, you know what I mean—a lot of them are really different from each other.
Dave: Some of your earliest songs had what could be considered “mosh” parts—you don’t really have those parts now.
Mark: Yeah, we did our funky dance parts.
Dave: I remember you used to have, like, this “chicken mosh”, you keep your hands down by your sides and you pick your knees up real high… kinda like a strut.
Mark: I think I saw somebody else do it after me, so I stopped doing it. I’m not gonna say who stole it from me…
Dave: Come on, you can say it. Those kids don’t read this.
Mark: I forget.
Dave: Probably Matt (Bold). You still have all those copies of “United Blood”?
Mark: Nah, I just have one.
Dave: Wait, you’re full of it. You had, like, a dozen copies!
Mark: Nah, that was Ray or Porcell.
Dave: No, you had a dozen copies!
Mark: No I don’t! I’ve got just the one I originally got. The only record I have a lot of copies of is The Abused.
Dave: Yeah, I have three copies of that. Are they the originals or the ones that came out later… you know, with the cheesy sleeves that are all folded over?
Mark: I guess I have two originals. The others are still originals, though. It’s the same pressing.
Dave: What are some of your songs about?
Mark: Nothing, really. I just sing about me, whatever. We don’t tackle any big subjects. I don’t wanna preach to anyone, I’ll just write a song about my friends, but it’s not like the other hardcore songs, not like a “fake friendship” song—“me and my brothers”, whatever, you know.

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Dave: What do you think of Scream now?
Mark: I still love ‘em. They’ve always been my favorite band, since their first record. Their new drummer’s great.
Dave: I think he looks a little like O.P. -- Remember O.P., from Albany Style?
Mark: Yeah, he reminds me a little of him, too.
Dave: He’s (Scream’s drummer) loud.
Mark: He’s got a great foot. [Note: We’re talking about Dave Grohl here.]
Dave: That’s the one think I was noticing—I’d be watching his hands thinking he was doing a tom fill but he wasn’t—it was his kick pedal.
Mark: That guy, I think, is the best drummer in hardcore.
Dave: That’s what they need, that’s what their music needs. Bands that play fast, the drummer’s just along for the ride, but when you slow it down the drums and bass really work more. It’s more important to the sound.
Mark: Yeah, our drummer used to even hit the drums harder, but he stopped so he could get more intricate. Which is good, but I think he’s saying he wants to hit ‘em a little harder after seeing Scream this weekend.
Dave: What’s it look like as far as Supertouch getting vinyl out?
Mark: We recorded something we thought we were gonna make an EP out of.
Dave: Was that gonna be the split 12” with Breakdown or something?
Mark: No, who said that?
Dave: I think you did! Somebody told me you were gonna split an LP on Revelation with another one of those NYC bands that wasn’t really straight edge.
Mark: We were never gonna split a record with anyone. Maybe Jordan wanted us to, he wanted to start a new label just to put us and Breakdown on it. Like we weren’t straight edge enough. We recorded an EP, but we didn’t have the money to do it like we wanted to do it. We recorded 5 or 6 songs.
Dave: How long ago?
Mark: A couple of months [early 1989].
Dave: I thought you already had stuff in the can a while ago?
Mark: Nah. We definitely don’t wanna put this stuff out, but we’re giving it to record companies—like, we’ll redo it if we get some money and a producer. I want somebody who’ll hook us up with a video. Nothing soon, we’re not gonna have a record out for a while, by the time we sign, record, and all that. But yeah, I’d be into doing a video.
Dave: I think the AF thing (“Anthem”) is kinda alright.
Mark: Haven’t seen it. What’s it like?
Dave: They filmed “Anthem” at CBGB, taking the sound off the album. It came out really good.
Mark: We might try to do a regular (storyline) video because every HC video you see, even a lot of the metal ones, it’s just stagediving and stuff like that. I don’t wanna have a typical video, you know—skateboarders, stagedivers… We’d do it cool.
Dave: Would you use one of your slow songs?
Mark: It definitely wouldn’t be a thrash song. We don’t really even have any thrash songs.
Dave: What are some of the songs you have recorded?
Mark: “What Did We Learn”, “How Do You Feel”… a lot of them don’t even have titles. The majority of our set list, none of the songs are titled.
Dave: I’ve never seen you hang out a set list.
Mark: We just write, like, “Joe One”, “New One”, “Funky New One”, “Other New One”, “On Three”… like that. We call the new instrumental “Detectives” because somebody said something and somebody else goes, “What, ‘Detectives’?” They heard them wrong, so we just call it that.
Dave: When you finally get into the studio for real, do you have an idea of the sound you want?
Mark: Like, what do you mean?
Dave: So it won’t come out like the Underdog record.
Mark: They’re a little more metal than us.
Dave: And that’s the way their record comes off.
Mark: We’re a little more rock ‘n roll.
Dave: I like the Underdog record, it just reminds me of what I imagine a Leeway record sounds like.
Mark: I know what you mean… Underdog’s one of my favorite bands.

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Dave: What kind of music do you listen to?
Mark: I listen to all the HC I used to like. Scream and Bad Brains a lot, Marginal Man. I listen to a lot of Hendrix, Black Sabbath, a lot of Motown stuff too. Pink Floyd I listen to a lot now, The Who…
Dave: Alright, The Who rule.
Mark: The Who is our guitarist’s favorite band, or bassist’s too. Not our drummer though.
Dave: What’s he listen to?
Mark: Hendrix, Scream, a lotta noise bands actually, like Swans. I dunno, I never really listened to Swans and stuff.
Dave: I’ve never heard the Swans. I listen to stuff that other people would consider along the same lines, though.
Mark: You like Squirrel Bait, right?
Dave: Squirrel Bait rule. Scratch Acid…
Mark: This guy I used to work with plays drums for the Swans now. He gets like $300 a week to rehearse every day. That’s cool, y’know?
Dave: Would Supertouch ever tour? Like, before the record came out?
Mark: We were supposed to tour with Underdog last summer, but they had trouble setting it up. Doug Caron backed out, he was too busy setting up all those Revelation bands—Gorilla Biscuits, Judge, Bold. Johnny Stiff was gonna book it, and he was saying no one would touch Underdog, or something like that.
Dave: I guess that Disaster review hurt more than I thought.
Mark: I have no idea.
Dave: It might be because it took them so long to get the record out, plus they didn’t fall in with the Revelation thing when they could’ve… they wanted to do their own thing. Richie’s always had his own mind, though.

[Talk turns to Government Issue breaking up]

Mark: What’s Tom Lyle gonna do?
Dave: I think he’s gonna marry himself.
Mark: Or maybe his equipment. I heard he’s always talking about his equipment.
Dave: When they played in New York with Dag Nasty, he had four Marshalls and two of ‘em weren’t even plugged in. He just wanted to piss off Brian Baker.
Mark: Do they hate that guy (Baker)?
Dave: In a way, kinda everybody does…
Mark: Did you hear that Junkyard record yet?
Dave: It’s the usual Skid Row/G’N R/Winger stuff.
Mark: It’s like Guns ‘N Roses if they weren’t racist.
Dave: They’re just pigheaded kids from L.A. Like, nothing serious.
Mark: I like Jane’s Addiction a lot. They’re really good.

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Dave: Why is “Searching” on both Revelation compilations?
Mark: We didn’t know it was gonna be a whole different record. We recorded another song, one we had dropped, called “Inner Strength”.
Dave: What happened to that? Does Revelation still have it?
Mark: No, we never gave it to them. I gave it to one person, Duane from Some Records, and I told him not to give it to anyone, but kids told me that they have it on a tape. I remember Underdog did a tape when Carl was in the band; Danny let Duane listen to it but wouldn’t give him a copy. So Duane was taping it as he listened to it on his double cassette deck.
Dave: We could do a Schism interview and I could ask you if The Abused were hard.
Mark: The Abused had the best dance parts. Their best songs weren’t even on that EP.
Dave: I could never get that demo. Dave Stein had it. I’ve got the second Void LP, it’s so bad.

[Talk of D.C. hardcore]

Mark: Artificial Peace is my favorite band on “Flex Your Head”. Oh, and The Untouchables. [pause] Just kidding.
Dave: “I drink milk, I drink milk”
Mark: I like Red C, too.
Dave: Wow. A couple of years ago Porcelly came up to me and said, “You know what band’s really awesome on ‘Flex Your Head’?” I was thinking Void or Deadline or something, and he goes, “Red C.” I thought he was kidding.
Mark: That 3 song on the State of the Union compilation is really good.
Dave: I’ve got a cool 3 poster. They played Connecticut twice.
Mark: Where, some bar?
Dave: No, Anthrax and a dorm in Middletown [Eclectic House]. I saw Dinosaur there once. The fire alarm went off during their set and it took a couple of minutes before anyone knew.
Mark: I think once our album comes out, we’ll play other places than just with hardcore bands. We’ve got a lot of rock stuff. We’re getting better.
Dave: How’s it been writing songs?
Mark: Smooth, smooth. It’s fun. I look forward to each new song. We’re not just writing each song the same way, like some other bands.
Dave: Like Bold?
Mark: I don’t know, their new songs are totally different from their old stuff. Some of it’s influenced by Van Halen and Jane’s Addiction.
Dave: Come on, you’re kidding. Have you heard about Ray’s new band, ummm, Shelter?
Mark: Yeah, they’re recording.
Dave: There’s a couple of guys from 76 in the band. Ray said they’re like Fugazi… when I was talking to him, he was telling me this song that YoT used to do in ’85 called “Poisoned Minds” and I didn’t believe him because I couldn’t remember it. Then I looked at some photos in Run It and there it was on the set list—“Poisoned Minds”. I’m reserving judgment on his new band until I hear them.
Mark: Yeah. [fake thoughtful] I think I’ll write a song about that.

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Also, here's the Supertouch "What Did We Learn" EP, which came out on Dave Stein's label, Combined Effort, in 1989, maybe a few months after this interview was printed. It definitely sounds a lot more raw in comparison to "The Earth Is Flat", which I think is better. My favorite Supertouch recording is the live WNYU tape from '88, which you can get here from Rocket Science blog.

Supertouch -

"Climbing Aboard"

"On Three"

"What Did We Learn"

(these files are now listen-only)

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Sean said...

Please painstakingly transcribe more! It's like an anthropology expedition, and old zine intervies and reviews were so in the moment that they almost read like a photograph.

The Shelter mention was great..their first show was another wonderful Anthrax memory (was it with Blue Balls?) I should go find the flyer. If Tom Lyle did end up marrying himself, that Lyle LP was the illicit shotgun wedding!

Brushback said...

That's it, that's the entire interview that ran in Jersey Beat.

I was saving a longer, unabridged version for my own zine, but that's gone now.

I remember the name Blue Balls-- they were a Waterbury band, if I remember, and one of the first HC bands from Waterbury at that... though I never heard 'em to know if they were HC, I just used to see their stickers all over the place.

gsdgsd13 said...

A double dose of Supertouch ... you're spoiling me. Great stuff. And thanks for the link to the WNYU thing -- I'll eagerly grab it.

Brushback said...

The WNYU thing is friggin' great, definitely get that.

Greg, I was actually going to e-mail you a zip file containing the scans of the interview after Jim sent them to me, so you could see what was up before everybody else-- but that was last year sometime so it's maybe a good thing I didn't because it took me a lot longer to actually get around to finishing the post than I had planned.

Sean said...

Here are the photos I took while the elbows flew at the Supertouch reunion for the Anti-Matter book release benefit for Callum Roberts at the tail end of '07:

Brushback said...

Nice snaps

Anonymous said...

This is a great site. Hopefully you won't mind, but I linked to you from an auction for a Supertouch EP. You just cover so much great music (I mean hell, Big Star... I love 'em so much I have them tattooed on my neck) and you have samples of the music. Nicely done. If the link bugs you, I can take it out.
Johnny at Reptilian. I guess after a week you can kill this comment, coz it'll just be a dead link in a few days.
Thanks for the great blog. I'll keep reading and giving you free plugs. (Not hair plugs).

Brushback said...

No, that's great, the link doesn't bother me at all! (There's a dealer in Russian hockey jerseys on eBay who used to link back to my old hockey blog numerous times...) Thanks for noticing, really.

Brushback said...

The mp3 files on this post are now listen-only (non-downloadable files).

Now that I'm watching, I see that this record gets listed on eBay quite a bit, and usually for only $20 or thereabaouts, so it shouldn't be too hard to get your own copy if you really wanted one.

R said...

Hi! I'm just wondering but is that the first press or the second press of What did we learn? I have it with a different kind of a lyric sheet and can't find the pressing info anywhere.

Brushback said...

Beats me -- I didn't even know there was more than one pressing!

Maybe there was one pressing with more than one kind of lyric sheet. I know that happened a lot back then, whether it was intentional or if the band/label just ran out of inserts so they made some different ones.

R said...

Ah, alright, I might be wrong just as well! And probably am, then. Just remember seeing one of these with the same insert that I have on eBay some time ago and the seller wrote it was "first press" (talk about being a part of the internet generation... :)). Thanks for clearing this up!

Brushback said...

Not that there wasn't more than one pressing, just that I wasn't aware of it... you know what, Double Cross just did a poll this week about "favorite Supertouch record", maybe when they post the results they'll mention something about the 7"...