Old School Music

dealing with punk rock, speed/thrash and other music styles of the 80ies and beyond, a webpage connected to Red, Black & Green

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

PAUL BAKIJA stories about REAGAN YOUTH part 1

How would you present Reagan Youth to newcomers?
I'd present R.Y. to newcomers as a band that wanted to expose the evils of society through songs, and to let people know just what an asshole Ronald Reagan was. Let's not forget Reagan removed the solar panels from the white house that the previous president (Carter) had just installed years earlier. I mean, what do you think Reagan's message was when he did that, that we should be addicted to oil?

Could you relate us the story of New York hardcore (early years, 1979-1985), why isn't Reagan Youth featured on the ROIR compilation "New York Thrash"?
NYHC during those early years was more about leaving the suburbs and all that boring music from bands like Kansas and Boston and come downtown to create some mischief so we could have some fun. And Reagan Youth always took too much time to record so we didn't really have anything for that ROIR cassette, or at least that was Dave's opinion. He was definitely a perfectionist.

Which were the musical (and non musical ones) influences of the band?
Crass was a big influence in the way they presented their politics and musically, Dave wanted the Who's rhythm section with a distorted guitar banging out chords and feedback. And of course, Dave was big on Russian anarchists like Mikhail Bakunin and all those early punk bands like the Clash and the Dead Boys.

Did you meet acts like Heartbreakers (Johnny Thunders act, not Tom Petty), Ramones, Blondie, Richard Hell & The Voidoids?
I once saw a car slam into the sidewalk and out came Johnny Thunders, who enetered a building and came out a few moments later (he obviously copped) and I used to see Cheetah Chrome on the streets not looking all that good. But I've met Stiv Bators and Walter Lure way back when I was just a teenager, they were always nice. Never hung out with them though.

Could you quote some gigs you attended and really enjoyed(as members of the audience), prior to grounding RY?
The Stranglers at Irving Plaza. The Clash and the Jam at the Palladium. Shrapnel was my first punk gig.

Did you take part in other bands prior to RY? And after?
Only band I was in was called PUS with Dave. We started it as a punk band in junior high school and it was childish, but we changed the name of that band to Reagan Youth and we kept some of the tunes but with different lyrics that were way better. House of God was the band Dave and I were working on when Reagan Youth had run its course. Before and after those bands, no, I didn't do anything with anyone, unless it was for fun, but nothing serious.

Did you witness/become aware of hiphop & rap rising in NY areas ( Grand Master Flash, Afrika Bambaataa, Rock Steady Crew, graffers, djs, break dancers, block parties...), as Beastie Boys did?
Of course. It wasn't my style but I dug it just the same. Good music is good music, I don't care if it's rap, rock or country.

Could you tell us about how and when you met Dave Insurgent and the others,
I met Dave in the third grade, became best buds with the guy in junior high, and got serious with Reagan Youth with him in high school, but we always would talk music, even back in the 7th grade. Charley, our first drummer, we met in Forest Hills high school, and Andy our first bassist, was a Forest Hills high school drop out that Charlie was friends with. We replaced those guys with Al Pike as our new bassist from having try outs. And Steve was playing drums in a band called The Abused when Dave asked him to join Reagan Youth. When we went on tour, we replaced them with two guys from the scene, Victor Venom from Nausea played bass and Rick Royale played drums for a year until he was replaced by Javier Madariaga (he asked me if he could play with us) from a NYHC band called Heart Attack.

Did you listen to anarcho punk ( Crass, Conflict, Lost Cherrees...)? Or even bands like Crucifix from San Francisco?
Crass yes, those other bands, not so much. After we started playing gigs we started listen to less and less punk and more and more classic rock like Hendrix and Zeppelin because they had way more to offer musically. Let's face it, the politics were set off the start but musically, we had to grow, and punk wasn't doing it for us at the point on.

According to you why do people know more about the second NYHC wave ( Cro Mags, Agnostic Front, Warzone, Murphy's Law) than the 1st ( Heart Attack, RY, Kraut, Urban Waste, The Mob...)?
That second wave, as you called it, played bigger shows when a promoter, Chris Williamson, started Rock Hotel, whish was to have NYHC play in bigger venues. We played two shows before we figured him a jerk off (i'm sure he didn't like as either, but who cares) so we didn't get to play all those big shows the Cro Mags and Agnostic Front did. But it was all good because while we weren't playing those big shows in NY, we went out to Cali for two months and played some big shows out there.

John Joseph ( Cro Mags) wrote a book, Sab Grey ( Iron Cross) did either, how about the 1st NYHC wave and Jack Rabid & friends doing the same?
Someone suggested, with all the crazy stuff that happened to Dave, that I should write a book but it;'s such a sad story that I just can't. But maybe one day, someone will and I hope they do it, and do it well, but I don't see myself doing that. Maybe Jimmy Gestapo should, he was everywhere, always having a great time.

Let's talk about media back in the days which could support hardcore punk ( fanzines, college radio stations, tv broadcasts like "Why Be Something You'Re Not" who aired Misfits, Necros, Negative Approach, or Flipside videos...), who did something for Reagan Youth? I also read that MTV played "You're All Twisted" by Kraut...
Wendy from Guillotine didn't just help us out, she helped the entire scene. There were others but I can't name them off the top of my head unfortunately. Sorry. And I think it's great whenever MTV supports NYHC, and it was cool that they played "All Twisted" by Kraut.

Are there video footage/ archives of RY between 1980 and 1985 ( I watched a show on Dailymotion from the late 80ies with Dave Insurgent having dreadlocks)?
Someone gave me a video of us in the studio doing a bunch of songs and RayBeez from Warzone shows up with these other skinheads and slam dances around while the band plays "Anytown" and some other songs. If I was good on the computer I would have put it up on Youtube but I suck on the computer so it's for my dvd player only. And when we played LA in 1984, the venue sent us a video which is up on Youtube. Other than that, I don't think so, but the one with Dave having dreadlocks must be from 1988.

Were you close to bands like Warzone and Cro Mags?
Not really, but personally, I think RayBeez and Warzone are one of NYHC's best and when I saw the Cro Mags, they were great. But I don't think bands like that liked the direction Reagan Youth were heading when Chris Williamson and Rock Hotel came about. We were more about playing benefits and preaching Anarchy and Peace.

(fin de la première partie...)


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