We Interviewed Sab Grey From Iron Cross

When most people conjure up an image of the early 80’s D.C. Hardcore Punk scene, they usually think it’s all squeaky clean bald heads, skateboards, twinkies, and cola.

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Oct 29 2012, 5:45pm

When most people conjure up an image of the early 80s D.C. Hardcore Punk scene, they usually think it’s all squeaky clean bald heads, skateboards, twinkies, and cola. If that’s the case, where the shit does Iron Cross figure into the equation?

Infamous for their drinking, smoking, and ass kicking, Iron Cross was the dichotomy of the perception of the D.C. Punk scene of the time; hence them becoming the pre-disposable enemy to the rest of the country’s punk scene.

The TKO label out in Southern California recently re-issued the band’s debut 7-inch EP Skinhead Glory, so we found it a good enough excuse to get in touch with Iron Cross’s vocalist Sab Grey and see what he remembered from those crash-and-burn days. Here’s what the bastard had to say:

VICE: How did this re-issue of Skinhead Glory come about?

Sab Grey: Actually it was Mark from TKO records who suggested it. I never thought about it. We were going to do a tour of the West Coast where TKO is located so he asked if he could do it. I didn’t have a lot on my dance card so I said ‘Sure, why not?’ It didn’t occur to me that it was thirty years later.

Why did you omit the song "Psycho Skin" from this newer pressing?
First off, I hate that song and I always did. Second, we don’t own the rights to it. The guy that wrote it ain’t my friend, so rather than go through all the crap and have to deal with someone I don’t like, we figured you might as leave off the song that the rest of us wanted off in the first place.  It wasn’t a “rewrite” more of an “I can’t be bothered.”

What are your memories of recording Skinhead Glory?
Well, I wrote about it in my novel Hated and Proud, but basically it was done in a basement on an eight track in about a day. There were cats running around the place and the vocal booth was a corner of the room next to the washer and dryer.  Mark the guitarist dropped the amp and it sort of broke, I think one speaker blew, which is what gives the guitar that sound. It was a Fender Deluxe, with MXR Distortion pedal; the little mustard coloured ones. That is, if anyone wants to know!

What was the response to Skinhead Glory at the time of its release?
Well from what I remember it was quite good, but I’ts not like we had charts and videos and all. It was all word of mouth. The crowds we played to were pretty good so we must have been doing something right. Mind you Maximum Rock ‘N’ Roll hated it but then so fucking what!

Why do you think Maximum Rock 'N' Roll and Tim Yohannon had such a hard-on against you guys back then?
To be honest, I’m fucked if I know. They just decided one day that we were the enemy and that was it as far as they were concerned. I mean this started when Flex Your Head came out. They didn’t know us nor did they try to get in touch first to find out about us, they just decided it and that was it. You know, I don’t mind if you don’t like the band, if we are not to your taste, that’s fine, taste is subjective, you know what I mean? But don’t just make up crap and then spout it without getting the facts, or any facts at all, right. I mean,  I lived at Dischord house, it’s not like I lived in a tree and was incommunicado. Pick the phone up AND ASK!

After the break-up of Iron Cross sometime in ’84 or ’85, where did Sab Grey go?
I hung around for about a year not really doing much. I tried forming a couple bands, but they didn’t really work out. You know the deal; two gigs and a break up. Then I went back to England. I got married, had three kids, got divorced, played in bands, a lot of rockabilly and country and blues. Then I moved back here for a bit, and somehow the years snuck by and here I am.

What was your take on where the D.C Hardcore scene went post - 1985? The whole "Revolution Summer" thing?

Less than impressed….

Why were you "Less than impressed?"

I don’t know, most of the bands just left me cold, I just wasn’t feeling it. Kingface were awesome but that was about it really.  And yeah I thought "Revolution Summer” was crap. It may have been summer but I sure didn’t see any revolution going on! My old friend, Barry McEvoy, and I were chatting about that the other day, he used to sing in a band called Phlegm back then and he’s a damn fine actor and film maker now, he did that film Everlasting Piece. Anyways, he says “You know mate, I grew up in fucking Belfast with all that shite going on so that revolution summer was just bollocks to me!” He wins on street cred but I totally agreed with him... and for the same reasons.

Pick up the re-issue of Skinhead Glory from TKO here

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