My friend Carson and I did this interview in the parking lot of the Casino Skate Park in 1999. The It’s In Our Power record had just came on and 97a played a great show with Full Speed Ahead. I really dove into the 97a vault to ask questions about demo songs and a lot of stuff they had not been playing in a bunch of years. Originally in Parade Brigade #1
Bill-I guess first off who is in 97a and all?
Chris-Rob’s not here but he’s our drummer now
Bill-You guys seem to really like Fast Times At Ridgemont High. Is that your favorite movie?
Chris-It’s probably one of my favorite movies. Might be one of Clint’s…
Clint-It’s in the top 15
Chris-It’s basically just a good movie. I can relate to it a lot because you look at that movie it was a really humorous movie, but it’s a pretty good document of the way things were when I was a really young kid. Watching it now is like “Oh remember when that was cool?” like seeing the haircuts and stuff. We’re not obsessed with it or anything.
Bill-How does that sound bite at the beginning of Better Off Dead relate to the song?
Chris-The cover of the record is the video still of it. Basically the soundbite… I was trying to find some way of capturing what the song meant to me. That was what I mean here was a guy that just had enough. He said “you know what I’m not gonna sit here and put up with this guy doing what he’s doing to me” and it’s very hard for people to do that becayse you’re scared of the consequences, but that guy fought back so it was kind of like something that we could find to relate to it and the fact that I like Fast Times… made it even better to use that clip. We didn’t wanna make it seem like it was super super serious. We took something that we knew if people knew it was from a comical movie; we didn’t want it to come off scary. I don’t know if it came off that way but that’s what we were thinking at the time.
Bill-I’ve heard different people say a lot of different things about it.
Chris-A lot of people have a lot to say about that song but they don’t know me, they don’t know what I meant when I wrote it. Anyone who is getting a further meaning than fighting back against people who fight violent crimes is obviously looking for a bone of contention so to speak, something to debate about, hardcore kids just love to find hypocrisy in things even though they don’t wanna look in the mirror and look at themselves.
Clint-If you ever find yourself in the situation Hamilton was in you might wanna just give them the money, especially if you know the safe combination.
Bill-How did We Must Fight It become Better Off Dead?
Chris-Basically We Must Fight It was a real wimpy title and I wanted some shock value and I was like “Better Off Dead,” that’ll get some people pissed off and get some people thinking. I just try to make people think with our lyrics. I’m not here to tell them what to do, I just want to make them think.
Bill-That song Blueprint…I’ve been meaning to tell you this…one the live demo you were saying how we all conform for the benefit of others. At the time I’d never really thought about anything like that. When I first listened to it that really hit me and I started thinking about it more. Really made me think about things a lot differently.
Chris-We all conform. All of us here are hardcore kids. We’re all wearing t-shirts, army shorts, sneakers, and all have crew cuts. I love when you talk to kids and they say, “I do that because I want to” and maybe they think they’re doing it because they want to… (Chris goes to say more here but I cut him off like an asshole)
Bill-Before I had heard that…I’m serious it really affected me.
Chris-They’re doing it to fit in, I’m doing it to fit in, I fit the mold too. I wasn’t pointing the finger at anyone, I was pointing the finger at myself, I do it too. This is what we do, we are humans. But I realize that.
Clint-Clothing is the fastest way to align yourself with someone.
Bill-You guys say a lot during songs and I noticed tonight no one really seemed to care. I’ve noticed when other bands who actually stop and have something to say and they say something intellectual no one seems to care. Do you feel like there is a lot of apathy in hardcore right now?
Chris-At this point… this is going to sound really jaded but I don’t really care. I know that I’m getting up there and trying to do something while still having fun in an environment of playing music and from what you’ve told me so far during the interview you have obviously gotten something out of it. I can’t change the world…I can change my part of the world, but I can’t change the world. Once people realize that, maybe they will make more changes when you work on yourself and not everyone else.
Clint-It’s worth it if one or two people take it to heart.
Bill-Kids just kind of go along with the flow right now and do whatever Ensign tells you or Floorpunch tells you and happily go about their lives like there is nothing fucked up in the world. I was gonna say something else, but I forget now…Ok, back to the questions. When you guys did the Negative Approach cover, did anyone ever know it? On the live tape…
Chris-That was one of the songs Todd would sing. Did anyone ever know that song when we played it?
Todd-No, I don’t think so
Chris-For a while we thought we weren’t doing such a good job of it, but then I remember giving a CD to Al from Suburban Voice Fanzine and he wrote back to me and was like “you did a great version of that Negative Approach song” and he like saw Negative Approach…well I don’t know if he saw them, but he was around that whole Boston thing. I guess we were doing all right it was just no one knew the song.
Todd-It was fun; the hardest part was just getting the drums. That is what falls apart first when you do a cover song.
Chris-There’s two ways of doing a cover song… change it and make it your own song or play it as good as you can. We haven’t done a cover song in at least two years.
Todd-The only other one was March of The 97a.
Bill-Yeah! At the show the first time I saw you we got the demo in the car and we were like “holy shit! This band’s cool!” So you guys were in with us right there.
Chris-I think that is one of the best, heavy hardcore intros.
Bill-Good fucking record.
Chris-Yeah, it’s a good record. If you tried to say what they said in those songs, you’d get slaughtered. No one has any sense of humor anymore.
Bill-With the new record, since it just came out and people are going to be wondering, what is It’s In Our Power about?
Chris-It’s about the fact that to make a change you have to be part of the change. I related that to my duties as an American citizen. I’ve already got some people saying to me, “patriotic bullshit,” these people are from other countries and have no idea or justification having disagreement with what I was saying. It’s nothing derogatory about any other nation. It’s nothing that is blindly patriotic. It is saying you have a right in this country to vote, use that right or don’t complain. Once you use that right you can complain all you want. When I hear people tell me nothing gets done in this country, this country sucks, everything is going down the toilet, I ask them “do you vote?” and they say “no man, it’s no use.”
Bill-There are a lot of punk rockers down here that say that.
Chris-Nowhere else would I have to explain that, it’s obvious. It would be like if you were on a Little League team and you were picking sides and you were the captain and you closed your eyes and just picked anyone and then complained, “why’s my team suck so bad?”
Bill-What do you think is the key to making things better?
Chris-Taking an interest in society, being a good person, trying to do the best job you can, be friendly, fair, using good morals; whatever you think they are. If everyone did that the world wouldn’t be perfect, but I think it would be a little better. At this point some of the things people are saying they just say to fit the punk rock mold.
Bill-What do you think of the Clinton/Lewinsky thing?
Chris-I don’t think Clint should answer this one.
Chris-I think I look at it both ways. I think it’s sad that he put the whole country in a position of looking like idiots. In the same token, I think it’s really sad that a president who has actually done a pretty good job so far and it’s almost like we have nothing to complain about so let’s find something to complain about. I just think coming out of this I hope the country is able to pick up the piece. At least it’s moving in the direction that the economy is slowly getting a little bit better.
Bill-It goes both ways; when Gingrich got fined for sneaking off to Georgia to teach a couple years ago the Democrats really pushed to get him kicked out. The government fucking each other basically.
Chris-Republicans and Democrats will fight with each other like 95% of what goes on. It’s part of the reason why things don’t change. They have to go by what their party tells them to vote, not what they morally feel is the right decision.
Bill-Are there any elected officials in New Jersey right now that you think are doing a really good job?
Clint-I don’t have a high opinion of local politics.
Chris-As far as what’s going on in New Jersey our governor, Ms. Whitman, does a good job on certain issues but I feel strongly against other issues she brings up. Right now, I’m excited about she’s trying to pass a bond act to keep undeveloped land undeveloped. That’s something that’s very important. All these hardcore kids talk about the environment and the animals and well here’s your chance.
Bill-I read in the interview you did with Lilac that you are rerecording Media. Man, I am asking about demo songs…
Chris-No that’s cool it’s like four years late but no one ever asked us about them.
Bill-How much of the “real news” do you think we see every night?
Chris-It’s hard to say because any serious opinion I give on this would make me look ignorant because I really don’t know. I was a communications major in college so I did learn a bit about networks. Basically they are going to do whatever is hot. It’s a business, they’re looking for ratings. If they get on and say “it’s a sunny day, see you tomorrow!” people aren’t going to tune in to the news. As it is now with the advent of the internet, TV news has gone down the tubes. They read the newspaper for a couple minutes, they might listen to the radio or find out on the computer by hitting a button.
Bill-Realistically, how many shows do you look to do in the future with Todd in Colorado?
Chris-Probably not a whole lot. It’s gotten to the point where recording and writing music, we are pretty serious about that. But shows is the fun aspect of it. We’re kinda doing it for our audience, they wanna see us. We enjoy playing but I just think about today what we went through in the past three days to play this show…one headache after another.
Bill-My friend John wanted me to ask you what you think the best music to skate to is?
Chris-Mid pace stuff is good. Agent Orange, 7 Seconds, JFA, Full Speed Ahead.
Chris-We’ll be here to aggravate people for a little longer.