Special Edition 80’s Hardcore History Feature! Ten Stories: 80’s xXx Fanzine

 The Boston-based xXx Fanzine was not only important to the east coast – it was important to the whole national 80’s hardcore scene. It’s an honor to have this historic feature on CVLT Nation. Check out what editor Mike Gitter had to say about some of his favorite photos in his new book xXx Fanzine (1983-1988) Hardcore & Punk in the Eighties.
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Cover: That scowling dude with a guitar held aloft was Chris Doherty of Gang Green, on loan to Jerry’s Kids. Hailing from the South Shore suburb of Braintree, Mass, Jerry’s Kids were the best and most focused hardcore band in Boston. They had an almost Black Flag-like sense of discipline and focus about how often and how intensely they rehearsed and they simply left everything onstage when they played. The photo, taken by my high school friend Paul Johnson, that became the cover of xXx #5 and the xXx Fanzine 1983-88 book, remains one of my favorite images from the zine’s entire run. It was taken on Jan 14, 1984 at a show at an Eagle’s Hall in Malden, Mass on a snowy night where Jerry’s Kids just destroyed the crowd. It was also the last time (for a couple decades) where scene mainstays DYS and The FU’S played pure hardcore sets before making the jump to metal and abandoning most of their loud-fast repertoire. It was literally the night of the first wave of Boston hardcore’s last stand.

Go here to order: xXx Fanzine (1983-1988) Hardcore & Punk In The Eighties

 

P. 214: In August 1986, Bruce Rhodes and I drove down to NYC to interview and photograph the Cro-Mags who were playing the Ritz with GBH, 7Seconds and Toxic Reasons. Even though they played before the Brit-Punk Vets, The Cro-Mags might as well have the evening’s headliners. They destroyed the place and played like the were unleashing the fist of Krishna at Madison Square Garden! The backstage pics Bruce took that day were really the Cro-Mags at the top of their personal game. Five insane and extreme personalities united as a band! As far as I’m concerned, Harley and John might as well have been super-heroes. Truly inspired human beings! I’m glad to still know and be on good terms with both!

 

This back-page spread was taken by a girl named Claire Sutherland, who took pictures at Boston hardcore shows for maybe a year or two: roughly 1982 to the end of 1983. Claire was in and out. A talented woman with a camera at the right place and right time. In many ways that’s all of our story. This picture from a Black Flag show in January at Boston’s awesome club, The Channel, is a study in greatness. Henry Rollins sharing the mic with SS Decontrol’s hyperactive frontman, Springa, while Chuck Dukowski plays intensely in the background. They were three important characters captured in the moment, pulled together by the moment and the music.

P. 110: In the hot summer of 1983, Metallica played a small basement club called The Rathskeller (AKA, The Rat) in Boston’s Kenmore Square. The Four Horsemen, who were touring the East Coast with Raven, had literally just recorded Kill ‘Em All and only recently had been joined by Exodus’ Kirk Hammett! It was early days for the unlikely future leaders of metal’s new school.  At the same time, either the Bad Brains or The Circle Jerks were playing across town. It didn’t matter to a lot of the original Boston bands who came down to witness history. Shortly thereafter, you’d see bands like DYS and The FU’S add second guitarists and buy a shitload of Marshall cabinets. It was clear, the Metal Militia had arrived and the Boston Crew had taken notice.

P. 194: Samhain only played one show in Boston, on Feburary 28 at Hannum Hall in Cambridge, MA. The Misfits already had a stronghold there, having played there a handful of times. Samhain was very much in full-swing by that point, having marked themselves as a major creative swing from Glenn’s run with the Caifa Bros. When Samhain took the stage, they were great and Bruce Rhodes’ photos convey how nuts the Boston crowd was at that singular Samhain gig really was.
P. 95: Captured in mid-scowl by photographer, Paul Johnson, future Dag Nasty and ALL vocalist Dave Smalley squares off against DYS band-mate Jonathan Anastas as the Boston straight-edge institution unveiled a full-metal makeover in early 1985. While fellow Boston Crewsters SSD and The FU’S hadadded second guitars and peeled out on hot rails to Hades, DYS had the most focused full-metal attack of the bunch. Andy Stachan and Ross Luongo made an enormo-dome-worthy guitar team while Smalley plied his sincerity-slaked croon with hard rock grit. While DYS’ second effort, ignominiously called “The METAL Record” hardly gets the props of their Brotherhood debut, it does pack an unexpectedly riffy punch.
P. 221: Corrosion of Conformity have had a number of unforgettable frontmen all the way up to Pepper Keenan who fronts C.O.C. today. However, it was Eric Eycke, the hoarse-throated voice on their first full-length, Eye For An Eye that had the most maniacal presence. As drummer and occasional vocalist Reed Mullin put it in his interview in the xXx book: “Eric was one of the  best frontmen I’ve ever seen! He was like Rollins meets old school HR where he was all in your face and you were scared of him!” Sadly, in 2017, Eric passed away. Gone but not forgotten, this picture, taken by Cindy Mendes at Boston’s Paradise in the Summer of 1984 shows how physical and from-the-gut Eric Eycke truly was onstage.
P. 207: Sporting that now-iconic Mickey Mouse T-shirt from many a Minor Threat photo, Brian Baker was hardcore’s first legit guitar hero. Captured here by Bruce Rhodes when Dag Nasty played The Rathskeller with The Descendents in Summer 1986, Baker is in the full rock fury that would be his stock-in-trade all the way up to his present position with Bad Religion. To this day, Brian insists that he’s made a career ripping off The Damned’s Captain Sensible. Not true. From his forays into blues-punk in latter-day Dag Nasty to bluesy hard rock with Junkyard, Brian Baker wields a Les Paul like no one that’s ever jammed a cover of Wire’s “12XU.”
P. 229: When JJ Gonson shot 7Seconds at Cambridge’s TT The Bear’s in 1987, they had already escaped a sea of clenched fists, black eyes and a steady diet of straight edge. 7Seconds had made a more melodic musical shift the year before with their landmark album, New Wind, which did polarize fans of earlier efforts like The Crew or Walk Together, Rock Together. However, even then, no one could inspire a crowd more than frontman Kevin Seconds who even now remains a master of the punk singalong. “We wanted to try something different and I’m glad we did,” says Kevin in the xXx book. “It turned out a lot of musicians, guys from the hardest New York and Boston bands were fans of that stuff!”

 

P. 253: As the fourth and definitive singer in Black Flag, Henry Rollins voiced Greg Ginn and Chuck Dukowski’s anthems of angst with a ferocity that marked records like My War as staples of a Damaged generation. When the Flag folded, Rollins plowed on and hasn’t looked back since (even in anger). As you can see here in this shot that Bruce Rhodes snapped at TT The Bears, the early days of the Rollins Band were sweaty affairs in small clubs. Kids were just starting to catch onto Henry and his ten-ton blues band (rounded out by the Andrew Weiss/Sim Cain rhythm section from Ginn’s instrumental project, Gone). In 1987, Rollins & Co. released their landmark, Ian MacKaye-produced album, Lifetime and hit the road. Rollins was already on the verge of eclipsing his own legacy.

 
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Sean Reveron

Sean Reveron