1983 was a banner year for New York City hardcore. Agnostic Front dropped their debut 7” United Blood, Antidote unleashed Thou Shall Not Kill, and the Abused released the Loud and Clear EP. All three records made you want to knock people’s teeth out and helped define the tough and frantic no-bullshit NYC hardcore scene of the time.
Led by Kevin Crowley, a burly vocalist who wore construction gloves and bike chains on stage and who designed the bands distinct art and flyers (as well as the classic NYHC logo), the Abused were four teenagers when they recorded the Loud and Clear at Hi-Five Studios.
The opening line of the EP’s title song, “Won’t be pushed around no more cause I know I’m not alone” could be considered the ultimate NYHC youth crew lyric. It was a sentiment that went on to be expressed by a legion of (unfortunately a lot of them very generic) hardcore bands.
While both United Blood and Thou Shall Not Kill have received the bootleg and reissue treatment over the years, it is only now that Loud and Clear is getting a new lease thanks to Radio Raheem—a vinyl re-issue label that has also released stuff from NYC punks the High and the Mighty and Black Task a thrash/death metal band from Philadelphia.
We spoke to Chris Minicucci from Radio Raheem about the Abused reissue and the past and future of hardcore.
Noisey: The Abused’s five second “Blow Your Brains Out” really typifies the Lower East Side hardcore scene at the time: fast, loud, and really pissed. Have you seen a remerging interest in this early New York hardcore?
Chris Minicucci: As someone who has followed this stuff for many years, I don't think NYHC of any era has ever fallen out of interest. There have always been fanatics for every sub-set of NYHC—the early wave, the youth crew/Revelation bands, the heavier current stuff—and I don't see that ending any time soon. NYHC is a massive, long-running scene with a lot of easily accessible bands of all types. I do think early hardcore as a whole is seeing a lot more interest these days from younger kids, and New York has this legendary crop of bands of that era ('81–'83ish); so I wouldn't call it a reemergence as opposed to a growing interest.
Kevin Crowley’s art is amazing. Is he still working?
I've only seen one piece that he did within the past few years, to the best of my knowledge he hasn't been all that active with his art in recent times. A few newer bands I know have approached him about doing artwork for them, but he's a family man with a full-time job so I'm sure finding time for art isn't easy.
One of the best things Kevin sent us for the LP layout was a piece that he titled "creation of the New York Hardcore logo" that was a bunch of random doodles on a piece of notebook paper, trying to design a logo/symbol for the New York scene. Some of it can be seen in the booklet to the LP (superimposed over the photo of Kevin smoking a butt) and it's cool to see the conception and evolution of this universally recognizable symbol.
Like all good reissues the releases contain some awesome liner notes with old photos and flyers. How did you go about sourcing these?
The material comes from anywhere we can find it: band members, friends of the bands, old scenesters, holes in the ground, old fanzines, eBay, Facebook. No stones are left unturned and pretty much anything we can find, we'll use. It's always disappointing to find stuff after the fact, so I have a bad habit of dragging the layouts out as long as possible before sending them to print. With the Abused LP I really wanted to make the booklet as comprehensive as possible, so we really had to dig deep and we ended up with material from at least a dozen people for that one. We were really lucky because Kevin held on to all of his original sketches and drawings and even had a couple "unreleased" pieces, and was able to send us perfect scans of them (which rarely happens.)
The label name and boom box logo is in reference to Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing, a very New York film but not one you would associate with punk and hardcore.
My partner in the label Rich came up with the name. Initially we were going to call the label Kick To Kill, and the logo was this Doc Marten boot busting through a wall—Kool-Aid man style—that we copped off of this old UK Oi single. We pressed up a 7" record of an old Midwest band that was going to be our first release, but it ended up not happening because of a conflict with one of the band members, and we decided to scrap the whole thing and start fresh. Rich came up with Radio Raheem; he was trying to think of something that didn't pigeon-hole us as a certain genre of music, but at the same time was a little goofy and not to be taken too seriously. He lives in Bed-Stuy so it just popped into his head one day and we both thought it was cool. I got my buddy Jayballs to draft up a logo and that was that.
What do you have coming out next?
A NYC Mayhem LP. The material came out a couple years ago as a really extensive two CDs on Hell's Headbangers, but I don't think a lot of hardcore people knew about it as a result of it being on a metal label. After that we have a few things in the planning/material gathering stages that we hope to have out by the summer. A few I can say for sure are LPs by Fate Unknown [early 80's Detroit hardcore who never released a record] and SHOK [mid 80s NYHC featuring legendary artist Sean Taggart], and 7"s by Youth Patrol [early Detroit HC with members of Negative Approach, who had a track on the Process of Elimination comp] and Vile [featuring unreleased demo material from this notorious Boston band]. After that there are some other interesting things that will be revealed as they come closer to materialising. If everything goes according to plan, it should be a pretty diverse list of releases.