Hardware Fanzine

This interview was done in late 1996 for my old fanzine What Was Said. I have always been rather fond of this interview. I was interviewing Hardware! That was a huge deal to me because after having read a few issues of Hardware, these guys were legendary to me. They covered the stuff I loved the most (NYHC) and introduced me to so many cool bands like Devoid of Faith, Heroin, Mainstrike, etc. I think I first checked out Raw Power and other Italian bands after reading reviews in Hardware. If Hardware said a band was good, I had money in the mail a few days later to hear that record. Hardware rarely let me down. Hardware first made me question the straight edge and many bands involved with it (especially Youth of Today). At the same time, Hardware was proud of the straight edge and pulled no punches. Hardware Fanzine changed my life.

I remember I was dreading a family vacation my senior year of high school. A week with my extended family when all I wanted to do was be left alone and not have to be ridiculed for not eating meat and being “out of step” in general. Conveniently, a brown envelope showed up the day before we left with the new Hardware (#9) in it! I spent most of the vacation on the couch reading and rereading #9 repeatedly. Thanks guys for saving me for a hellish vacation. Thanks also for the inspiration to use Rusty Pipes for a class assignment about student life for a class junior year.

This interview also began two friendships that I hold very dear to my heart. Dave and Brett are two of my favorite people in general, but especially out of the hardcore scene. This interview is also going to be included in the Hardware Fanzine retrospective CD that will be out soon.

This interview is with David Koenig. If I remember correctly I was also going to do something with Brett, but I did not really know him that well yet so I never got to it.

1. Ok so how did Hardware start out?

Ok Hardware started in February of 1993 as an idea while sitting bored at Jon Hiltz’s at some boring show. Brett (my fellow editor) was bothering me to do another zine ever since I ended In Memory Of… a couple years before. It was a split second decision that fateful night, I said, “Let’s do it,” and made the announcement to a couple people. In the second week of June, at Rorschach’s last NY show we had the first issue ready, sixteen pages of offset paper stapled together the night before. While it had no band interviews, it pretty much was the framework for future issues that you might see today. The reason for doing Hardware was A. There really was not many good zines coming out at the time and B. Practically all the zines coming out were terrible. Luckily as bad as the first two issues were, people caught on to what we were doing. Oh and to people who do not already know, HARDWARE is the title to our favorite Septic Death song.

2. How did you meet Brett?

I meet Brett in the summer of 1988 at Cbgb’s while selling off some of my records. My memory does not serve me too well of all the details but I am sure he could tell you. Eventually we just started talking and became friends. Out of all the people from the Cbgb’s days, he is the only one I am still in contact with on a regular basis. At the time, he was the biggest Supertouch fan.

3. Supertouch is a favorite of mine too, any good stories about them?

As a band, not really, because I was not too much of a fan; I was friends with Marc Ryan though. I met him at Some Records in 1986 after I saw some girl selling her collection of MRR’s on Astor Place in NYC. A lot of people used to sell stuff on the street back then. He saw that I had the mags and we went back to check out what else there was. It ended up he got a pile of early Thrashers. Haven’t seen him in years though, keeping hearing his band is back together.

4. Yeah Supertouch is back. They were supposed to put out a new EP but I do not know what happened. What was Some Records like?

Man Some Records was probably one of the coolest record stores of all time. The guy that ran it, Duane, was much older than the rest of us but he always seemed like one of the gang. Some Records was originally just a booth at the flea market next to Tower Records. Then Duane’s girlfriend opened her store 99x and let him use the space adjoining to sell records. (Actually going back a little more 99x used to be 99x Music over by Bleeker Bob’s but she split, taking the clothing business with her.) It was also a hangout at any given time you could go there and there would be band members, scenesters, etc. Practically every NYHC record that came out between 1986 and 1988 was available there first. I used to be there every weekend getting first crack at every demo and record that came out. I remember when Lou and Pete (SOIA) came in with the first box of demos and I bought the first copy they sold. Honestly, a fucking book could have been written about this place, I cannot give this answer any justice. It was also the only store I know that you could go up and just graffiti the walls. Unbelievable. I was eventually known as “Duane’s brother” because we looked alike. Like I said, I have too many vivid memories of Some Records.

5. What were your favorite bands back then? How old were you when you got into hardcore?

I first started listening to HC in 1982 via a friend who introduced me to bands like The Dead Kennedy’s and DOA. It was that summer that I first heard WFMU (Pat Duncan’s radio show) and WKNJ and all that music that they were playing at the time. Before this, I was never serious about music, and then I was getting into new wave and punk. My first show was also my first “live” music experience, Black Flag at The Ritz December 13th 1984. I did not go to my first local show until a year later, which was at a local rec center. At the time I got into all the NJHC bands, Bedlam, AOD, Sand in the Face, Malignant Tumor etc started going to CBGB’s in January of 1986, blah, blah you can read all about that in HW #9. So I liked HC/Punk since I was 14, but did not get serious about it until a couple of years later. By the time most people were getting out of hardcore I was just getting into it age wise. A late bloomer I guess.

6. What was CBGB like back then?

Hey, I thought this was about Hardware! (Just kidding) Well, CBGB’s was just a small shit hole of a club that everybody went to, all the great bands played at and just happened to be “the place”. There are too many stories for me to go into here. I was there like every weekend from 86 to 89 though. Every time I go back or see the place, I get a serious deja vu. Can’t say that I miss it though. Next question please.

7. Ok how do you go about getting interviews for Hardware?

That is pretty easy for us. If we want to interview a band, we just go and contact them. Certain bands we know exactly what to ask and others we just wing it. Lately, others have been doing the interviews, so it is a change of pace. I will tell you the toughest interview to get was Pushead. Took us the better part of a year for us and like three other people from around the country to convince him. That’s the interview I’m the proudest of. Another favorite interview of mine was Sick of it All, because I was sort of becoming friends with Lou again and it was a damn funny interview. Brett asked some
great questions! My advice to people doing zines- if you want to do an interview with a band just ask them. In most cases, they don’t bite. Also, ask good questions! Even goofy ones, bands get tired of the same old questions day in and day out. That’s why most interviews suck.

8. How do you put together Hardware?

I know many people think that Hardware must be this majorly organized production. In reality, it’s done so haphazardly. I really can’t give you a definitive answer here because the way we do things changes with each issue. As you may already know, the majority of Hardware is done “cut and paste.” People are always asking how we get the backgrounds so “black,” simple black paper. I go to Pearl Art Supply every once in a while and pick up a ream of black paper and go to town. If we had real money to spend I’d like to put the paste ups on cardboard. Photos are always a major problem. Brett and I are always looking for people to help us scan them cheaply. This is why every time you look at an issue of Hardware the pictures either look good or like crap. That’s basically it.

9. What Happened With Pyre?

Well, Pyre was going to be my “Horror Sci-Fi” magazine separate from Hardware. Brett had nothing to do with it. The main reason I didn’t do it was because after investigation I came to the conclusion that I couldn’t get it distributed through the major “small press” channels. None of them (Fine Print etc) would carry Hardware and for them to take a proposed magazine they would want me to have a high cover price. Since they take 55% of the cover when distributing any magazine, $1.50 wouldn’t be worth their trouble. I didn’t want to charge a lot for the thing, so… Also, you know how hard it is getting people to contribute to a hardcore zine, multiply that by 100 for a Horror Sci-Fi one. People are lame in general, so I felt with all the factors it just wasn’t worth going through with it. I lost a lot of money on that venture and nothing came of it. Well, I shouldn’t say “nothing” because I did make some good friends because of it. Just to let people know, I like Sci-Fi, Horror, Anime, Comic Books, etc and I am just as critical of it as I am with music.

10. What are your favorite Sci-Fi Fantasy writers and Anime movies?

Hmm I’m not that big on fiction. I tend to read a lot of non-fiction stuff, but Robert Bloch is great. I love Harlan Ellison as a personality because he is so outspoken. I have never read his stuff though. I love anime and my all time favorite is Project A-KO. I can watch it over and over. Though most people will call me a pervert, I really enjoy those graphic sex animes too.

11. Project A-KO is my favorite too! Which is your favorite?

Well, Project A-KO is the first movie. I have that on laser disc. I have every other sequel on tape.

12. What is the future for Hardware?

Not much really. The next issue #10 will be the last one. Brett and I have to move on in life. It should have (so far) interviews with Circle Storm and Rain on the Parade. There will be plenty to read in this one, I just can’t honestly say what. For those who are upset about our zine ending, well that’s your cue to get something started. Make an effort and show your hardware.

13. What bands do you listen to these days?

Hardcore wise, I just really listen to all my friends bands which I feel are doing something productive. They are (in no order): 97a, Rain on the Parade, Floorpunch, Devoid of Faith, etc. I really only listen to older stuff and of course all of the other music genres I am into such as film soundtracks, fifties and sixties popular vocals (1560 AM is my favorite radio station), new wave, and some other bands.

14. How long have you know Ronnie Little?

Not really all that long, a couple of year’s maybe. We met through my doing the zine. I think he has a lot of good things to say and I really love his band. One thing I am sad about ending Hardware is that Ronnie can’t be a part of our thing anymore.

15. What do you think are the best interviews you did?

Absolutely the Pushead interview. That was a big deal to both Brett and I. We worked really hard to get that interview too, so the payoff was extremely worthwhile. Other favorites are Sick of it All (#7 Brett asked some great questions), Spitboy (#4 Brett got into a shouting match with Todd and Karin), and Brett likes the Ressurection one from #4. I think we really did get a good cross section of bands and don’t think we deserved the “only straight edge bands” tag. I really liked most of the interviews that appeared in our magazine.

16. Any you really didn’t like?

Well looking back I really wish we didn’t interview bands like Heroin and Antioch Arrow because both bands turned out to be such slackers. I really think the emo punk scene is the worst. These people need to get a fucking life.

17. Where do you see hardcore going?

Into the fucking shitter! It’s not all bad because there is still many good bands around, especially from our area so I really can’t complain. I don’t go to many shows anymore so I try to just catch my favorite bands. Hardcore/Punk has broken off into too many splinter genres and it’s too tedious to try and catch what all these bands are doing. I’d say 90% of all the so-called hardcore bands out there aren’t. Different strokes for different folks but my opinions right about hardcore. Those who don’t like it can go screw.

18. Closing comments?

Just that thanks to everybody who has supported Hardware during it’s existence. Many people place it in zine history with zines like Boiling Point, No Answers, XXX, and that’s pretty good company to be in. To everyone knock off the posing, acting cool, starting fights, dressing hip; just be yourself. Oh and do not EVER talk to the mainstream media. The outside world is never going to “get it.”