Interview: Parris Mayhew

That’s the surprise payoff and Age of Quarrel and Best Wishes have been echoing off the fans and back at me for 35 years. What could I think of that? It’s a confusing bittersweet joy.

As guitarist and founding member of the legendary Cro-Mags, Parris Mayhew has cemented his place in music history from hardcore and beyond. His songwriting, riffs and solos for the band from Age Of Quarrel, Best Wishes and more are still revered by fans the world over. Gavin Brown caught up with Parris to hear about his history with the band, in what could be the last time he talks about his time with Cro-Mags. As well as this they also talk about some of his other musical endeavours and growing up in New York City and his work on many iconic music videos from everyone from Type O Negative to Biohazard and Onyx and his work in films in a very informative and honest chat.

Parris also has a new band The Aggros, who will be releasing new music soon and has this to say about the band who we look forward to hearing soon and you can find out more about them here. Find us on Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.

E&D: I will look forward to hearing your new music in the future, but going back a bit, How did you initially get into music and playing the guitar when you were growing up in the Bronx?

Parris: Music was always a part of my life. My father was a “music man” as he called himself, there was no name for men like him in his time between the late 40s and early 70s men who did anything that needed to be done to get business, create income and an infrastructure for artists, so he wore every hat, to make the business of the music business profitable. He managed artists like Johnny Paycheck, Jeanie C Riley, Hawkshaw Hawkins, Jim Varney, co-wrote songs with Bill Hailey and Johnny Paycheck, was a publisher for Charlie Parker Music, a producer, a promoter for Hank Williams, tour manager, anything to keep the artists active, but of course the idea of me being a musician was frowned upon by my dad, but inevitably, I got the bug and asked my dad for, of all things, a snare drum. I got an acoustic guitar instead, with a bird on the pick guard, I hated it. And this wasn’t in the Bronx, it was later in life in Nashville Then, when I was 13 years old. (Long story about my childhood, or the time between age 9 and 14, which I’ll save for another time) I taught myself guitar by writing my own songs and playing them over and over until I got really good… at playing my own songs. But I never learned ‘Stairway To Heaven’ or Sabbath songs, I just didn’t have any interest in that. Probably because I was in NYC where you could start a band and be on a stage underage playing “originals” at adult clubs. When other kids asked you if you played music, after you answered in the affirmative the next question was always, “covers or originals?” That’s was the language of the music scene back then. It was never a question for me, my music is what I played. So that’s what kids in NYC did, we formed bands, wrote our own songs, we had our own music culture side by side with the adults at the same clubs as the adult bands and the adult audience. It was a strange jump into an adult world as a kid because suddenly I had friends who were much older treating me like an equal, then in most cases with reverence as my band began to take on a life of its own. I say that because although we cut our teeth and loved punk, then hardcore scene we never fit in the first and didn’t want to and then skated parallel to the other never really being completely a part of it. Besides Bad brains the music in NYHC scene then in 1981-86 when we were developing was mostly very primitive and I certainly didn’t want to play like any bands I was hearing locally except Murphy’s Law and Crumbsuckers. Nor were we part of the metal scene, of which I was completely ignorant, when they began to look to NYHC for their musical cues and eventually vice versa.

Those years were when I taught myself music, while I was writing Age Of Quarrel. I gave that album my every effort, I tried harder to make that music than anything I had ever done before. And when the album was released I felt like I had just gotten a handle on music, being a real musician, making the album was like a music masters degree, just nothing but music and writing on one project for 5 years. Then things changed fast. With the response to the album our world transformed and so did our surroundings, we went from hanging out on street corners and bars, to touring the world playing our music. It was an amazing time.

E&D: Who were some of your musical influences as a guitarist back then?

Parris: Jimmy Page, Steve Howe, Alex Lifeson and Joe Perry were the Gods I never pretended to try to emulate, and I didn’t, they were and are untouchable. In a time when music was made only by the Gods, these huge bands on the covers of magazines like Cream and Circus and on stages like Madison Square Garden were mysterious and royal and you couldn’t seriously think you could do what they did ever. There was Led Zeppelin and then there were mortals, but my outlook changed when I heard two bands, the Sex Pistols and Motörhead. I loved these bands too, as much as I liked the big stadium bands, but there was something conspicuously different about these bands, I could most definitely understand what they were doing. I realized then that you didn’t have to be Eddie Van Halen to make good music so I jumped right in. I heard a kid a school say he just got the job playing bass for the Mad, NYC’s biggest band at the time. So I went out that night and every night for a week looking for the singer of the Mad, his name was Screaming Mad George, a Japanese guy with two tone hair, I was on a mission to ask him to be their bass player. I finally found him and convinced him to let me try out even though they “already had a new bass player” so I auditioned and got the gig. I spent a month meticulously rehearsing their songs, working with George to get them perfect so we could play a gig. One day after I felt I knew his music perfectly I said, “check a song I wrote” and I began to play him one of my riffs, it was the opening riff to ‘Word Peace’. After about 10 seconds he grabbed the neck of the bass to muffle the strings and said, “I write all the music for the Mad.” I asked, “wait are you saying I can’t write any songs in this band?” He said, “correct”. So I quit on the spot. I couldn’t be in a band where I couldn’t play my music. So next I began to formulate a plan to start my own band playing my songs. The Sex Pistols lead me to the local NYC punk scene, with bands like Bad Brains, Stimulators, and Kraut. After seeing these local bands I formed a youthfully ambitious plan to poach key members from the best bands on the scene and make my band. I was 14 or 15 and a kid, looking back it sounds overly ambitious and unrealistic for a kid to think he could do that but that is what kids do, and ultimately that’s exactly what I ended up doing. Getting Harley first helped a lot because he was already known on the scene, of course the scene was tiny at that time, you have to remember the NY scene was just starting and was very small, very. But that was enough to lure in Mackie and with a drummer the music took shape. The music did the rest and the music is what lured Doug to quit Kraut and join us and Petey Hines to quit Murphys Law to replace Mackie.

E&D: How did you get into punk and hardcore music originally?

Parris: Sneaking out of my apartment at night and wandering the clubs at night as a kid, NYC was the Wild West in the late 70s early 80s, kids could go to bars and clubs if they looked right, and had the nerve to try, so I went exploring the night, I went to clubs at random, and there were tons of them, nightlife in Manhattan was ever changing, a vast variation of what they could be, either a hodgepodge of makeshift storefront clubs, and the other extreme 4 story super clubs, and there was live music everywhere. I ended up at the Mudd club one night and I heard the Sex Pistols and that was it for me, heavy, angry with guitars! That moment hearing the Sex Pistols now might not seem so epiphanous but this was the era when the Cars, Blondie and the Clash were on the radio along with much worse, it seemed that heavy music was dying without a fight. Sex Pistols lead to me to local punk bands, at a time when a transition was about to happen between punk and hardcore. The difference between the two and there is a difference, punk was theirs, people from other countries England mostly, and older people and hardcore was ours. It was our bands, kids music, our music and our friends.

E&D: How did you hook up with Harley in the first place to form the Cro-Mags?

Parris: I had seen the Stimulators many times. A band Harley played drums in. I liked them a lot, they were NYC’s answer to the Sex Pistols, a mimic band to a large extent to begin with but also they inevitably developed their own style and a few of their songs were the precursors to hardcore like Machine. They never made any proper recordings so they have faded largely from history. Harley wasn’t initially part of my poaching plan, I wanted Nick the bassist of the Stims, not Harley, but as things would have it Harley and I met through a mutual friend while I was putting up “musician wanted posters” on Ave A. outside Ratcage records. Harley and my pal Paul Dordal and the singer of my first band Reported Missing came walking by and Paul introduced us, kind of. Harley looked at my flyer and asked Paul why he wouldn’t play with me, and Paul said “Parris is too good, he can play like Rush.” That led to HF and I deciding to play together. So Harley and I began writing songs. Paul was initially involved but he bowed out soon after. Paul and I had a band together before this and World Peace was one of the last songs we worked together on before we broke up, it was my music but Paul gave it the title “World Peace can’t be done.” So although Harley and I worked on another song first “bald is beautiful” I shit you not. World Peace became the first Cro-Mags song and the template for much of the mags sound and style of picking. A cross between Rush and Lemmy.

E&D: What are your favourite memories about working on the Age Of Quarrel album and the legendary demo that preceded it?

Parris: Well hearing the songs fully realized was the best part. Being in the studio making an album is a validation of your musical instincts. You initially make the music for yourself during the writing process, you don’t even think of it as a writing process, it just fun and then you find yourself in a recording studio making an album at 20 years old, and I mean back then in a real recording studio. Every Tom, Dick and Harry can make a reasonably good recording these days but back then only a handful of musicians ever made it into a real recording studio to make an album on a major record label. So that was great fun and gratifying. And the four years previous to the recording, writing, honing in on the sound, the technique, the invention and the face to face litmus test when Harley and I would volley riffs at each other, and wait to see if he would smile and say “yeah that’s hard!” And hearing us playing it together with bass and guitar and both realizing “yes this riff is sick!” It was so much fun. Greatest feeling and just one of my best memories.This process was just too much fun to explain. That’s the best part, watching my music come to life. Once the album was recorded you kind of let go of that music and that time. I gave it my all. It’s done. Nothing more can be done.

E&D: Age Of Quarrel is such a phenomenal album, did you know you had something special when you were working on the album?

Parris: Yes I knew it. I knew we were doing something that was turning heads. People said it. Kabula from AF said, “we just toured the country and nobody is doing anything like Cro-Mags, nobody.” That’s how I knew. People responded to the songs immediately, it was like a dream really, I had this youthful ambition that never hit a speed bump or any obstacles, so I just followed my instincts and just did what I wanted, I made the music exactly what I wanted and people liked it, like I did. That’s amazing really even to consider now how lucky we were, but I wrote those songs in my mom’s kitchen with whatever skill level I could muster in that short time. I think my dad gave me the guitar when I was 12 and 2 years later I was beginning to carve out something that I am interviewing about all these years later. I was learning the instrument as I was writing, my only practice routine was writing and playing my riffs over and over. It’s hard to put myself in that mindset of a poor student musician with no teachers just brute forcing my way through my riffs. I played as hard and fast as I could and I just played what I liked. And I liked Rush and Motörhead and what I ended up writing was a mutant version of both, Rush on the left hand, the melody and Lemmy as my right hand strumming those melodies like they were on fire. That was my approach for lack of a better one.

E&D: What were some of the highlights of being in the Cro-Mags and in New York with the hardcore scene being so exciting?

Parris: Watching it grow from a few kids to a world wide phenomenon in a few short years, between 1979 and 1986. I knew what was happening was unusual, bizarre and special, the scene was a secret place to go, I always saw the same kids, a handful of Manhattan kids who found each other while looking for something? I would try to drag friends from school to CBGBs and Max’s Kansas City with zero luck. I had to brow beat my high school friend Sean Taggart to come to shows too. He did sometimes but more often than not I went by myself and stayed at the fringes. I felt like an observer watching exotic animals through binoculars, watching a phenomenon unfolding, but the scene was so small they noticed me and pulled me right in with smiles and comradery. Nick From the Stimulators was really friendly and introduced me to the core people. And Gabby Glasier was one of them, who went on to form her own band who made a mark with Lucious Jackson, she was also from my high school and was to my surprise one of my new friends downtown. From there I watched the scene grow, some of it was amazing, seeing bands like the Crumbsuckers come in with new skill levels and take our little street music scene ethic and show us that it can be elevated musically to be a force worthy of bigger things. More people came along as the bands gained popularity, which was also great and bad at the same time because there was no way to stop it, regulate it or put a cap on it and of course it changed everything. It was no longer a small group of friends. The flood gates were open, new fans kids and then another whole scene, a much larger scene, the metal scene wanted in and they were ravenous. So Cro-Mags rode that wave out of the local scene and onto the world stage.

E&D: What was the best gig that you ever played with the Cro-Mags?

Parris: Probably headlining the Ritz in NYC for the first time. It was a landmark gig for us. A step up from the hardcore scene. There had been other hardcore shows at the Ritz before us but always a 15 band package show, but when we headlined it was us and 2 opening acts, not a package deal like a Super Bowl Of Hardcore event. It was just a Cro-Mags gig. I had a private table for my mom, aunt and cousins and close friends whom made it in after Harley would try to scratch off my friends names from the guest list. His pettiness was bottomless. The Ritz show was a milestone and also marked Harley’s descent into the, “I would have done it all without you.” period. Easy to say after you’ve arrived. That show said, “watch out world, because here we come”

 

E&D: What was your favourite New York venue to play back in the day and why?

Parris: The Ritz because it was big and the sound was great and it was our home spot. We had made the big venue in NYC our venue. People always talk about CBGB’s, but that was more like our playground, where we hung out all the time. A clubhouse where we practiced for what was to come, but for big amazing gigs the Ritz was it.

E&D: Who were your favourite bands from the New York Hardcore scene around that time and who did you love to see play live?

Parris: First was the Stimulators and Kraut who were remnants of the punk scene but both great bands. The Crumbsuckers, Murphy’s Law and Bad Brains were really the only local hardcore bands I ever really liked. All of them were always amazing. Later Carnivore stuck their head into our scene but they were not really a hardcore band although their second album was a reflection of Peter Steele’s momentary flirtation with hardcore and an incredible album.

E&D: Are you still in touch with people from that period?

Parris: No, not really. John Wreckin Machine, the stage bouncer at CBGB’s is a lifelong friend still. But otherwise no one really. Chuck from Crumbsuckers and I are friendly when he’s in town but he lives in Florida. When the Mags blew up I lost touch with the NY scene.

E&D: Was New York as vibrant and exciting place (as well as dangerous) as it looked in the early to mid 80s and what do you think of the city now as much as it has changed since then?

Parris: The city was a dangerous and great place. The two things went hand in hand, because it was dangerous, people like tourists stayed away and people didn’t move here, and if they did they assimilated. Rents were cheap for housing and for businesses so anyone could open a storefront club or record store or satanic church. There was a youth culture of music that no longer exists. Now the city is safe, and overrun with tourists, NYers have been priced out and ultimately it’s a city full of non-NYers. A simple statistic can put it in perspective. The population of NYC has doubled since 1980. How could it possibly be the same. Half the people are new and not NYers.

E&D: Do you think that your environment inspired the music you were making?

Parris: Of course, spending every waking minute on the streets or in school. Running around the streets with kids with musical instruments was an adventure. So of course it did. We were NYC street kids with guitars, in bars! Who knows what could happen.

E&D: Did you feel any pressure with having to follow up an album as monstrous as Age Of Quarrel?

Parris: No, when we made Best Wishes I felt like we had a chance to finally make a great record without being held back by JJ’s limited vocal ability. We also had Petey Hines a much better drummer and actually a fan of heavy music. Someone who loves the music will always play it better that a hired gun. Musically we were a much better band so I was sure the album would be MUCH better than Age Of Quarrel, and it outsold Age Of Quarrel, 4 to one. In retrospect they’re simply 2 different albums, both with their merits and I’m proud of both. And both had their own separate audiences.

E&D: What led to you leaving the band after Best Wishes?

Parris: Me and another guitarist who was in the band replacing Doug Holland, wrote almost the entire 3rd album’s music for Alpha Omega and Harley had reached his dickhead pinocle and Rob and I wanted nothing to do with him, much as Petey had decided after the Best Wishes tour when he quit for the same reason. So we, Rob and I decided to leave and start a new band with the music we had written, our music. Unfortunately for us we were naive, we never thought Harley would record our songs? Who could have guessed that? Who would do that? But he surprised us and he stole our music and recorded them on the album Alpha Omega. We didn’t know it was a race.

E&D: You produced another one of my favorite albums, the Master Killer album for Merauder in the mid nineties. Can you tell us about the experience?

Parris: It made me never want to produce again. I took them from a b-list band to a national contender. That was my job, but they were thankless jerkoffs about it. I got the album made, finished and made them a much better band than they were before. Set the bar high. You’re welcome.

E&D: Did you produce any other bands at all?

Parris: Just Revenge after that.

 

E&D: You got back together with Cro-Mags for that album in 2000. Did you think that things would be different for the band this time?

Parris: I did. I was fooled by Harley. He approached me from a position of desperation. He had failed. And was a homeless heroine addict. I thought he was at rock bottom and realized his mistakes of the past. Over the course of a few weeks he behaved himself, apologized, said all the right things, did his best imitation of a human being, so I agreed to talk again and eventually I agreed to play again. Initially it was a reciprocal relationship while he watched me write songs, get us a major label deal, and set everything in motion but it was all an act, and once we were locked in and I had my music and my effort at stake again, he turned back into the asshole we all know. I was foolish. He lured me with my own legacy and rode my music back into the real world of professional music the he revealed his true self. So I left again.

E&D: How did the recording on the Revenge album go? You and Rocky George on guitars is a great mix.

Parris: Rocky only played guitar solos. He was not part of the writing process at all or even performance of the songs on record. He was a hired hand. We wanted more and agreed he would be a band member when he first joined but he was just not what we expected. The solos he played on the record are impeccable though. A true artist on guitar. Just not someone you want in a band. He is unmanageable. Fun to get drunk with for the first 2 hours, sometimes fun but mostly unmanageable, and he refused to play the recorded solos live. That was a sticking point with Rock. He’s an extraordinary musician just not what we bargained for.

E&D: Despite all the drama and controversy that went on with the band, do you look back on those days with good memories?

Parris: No.

E&D: Would you ever do anything with Cro-Mags again, even just a one off show with the classic lineup?

Parris: No.

E&D: After Cro-Mags ended, you formed the band White Devil with Harley. How was that experience and how did the band come about?

Parris: Harley begged me to be his friend again. He stalked me, followed me around and finally revealed himself. I was disturbed to realize he had been following me around, knew where I lived. When he revealed himself I didn’t recognize him. He was filthy, bearded, wearing clothes of a hobo. He said, “please don’t walk away. Please talk to me. Please. I can’t believe I can’t talk to you anymore. I’m sorry, I made a mistake. I just want to be friends again, I don’t even want to play I just want to be able to talk to you.” Of course this was a ruse to get me to play with him again, he saw me as his way back to music, so he was begging me to forgive him and we ended up playing a few months later. It’s a long story but we wrote 5 songs and I got us a demo deal with Polygram, which got us signed to Universal Music. We wanted to start fresh, with new music and even a new name. But when the album was finished we realized it was a Cro-Mags album. So we shed the temporary White Devil moniker and took back Cro-Mags. It’s who we are and there’s no denying it. But even the power of our music isn’t worth having him in my life. Nothing is worth that. His breath is vomit inspiring. Unreal bad breath.

E&D: White Devil only released the Reincarnation EP, which I loved by the way, especially ‘Steal My Crown’! Was there any plans to release a full album?

Parris: Yes, we recorded the album and released it as Cro-Mags, Revenge. It was a great time for me creatively, I wrote most of the album and produced it. I was all in and wanted the band to make another 20 albums and have a career and life as musicians. But Harley is Harley and he made that plan impossible. He did what he does, makes everything a problem, he wasn’t participating, was dragging his feet and being a total asshole pest.

E&D: What happened with the end of the band?

Parris: Brain damage from drug abuse, ego and inferiority complexes combined. Jealousy, treachery, vanity, greed, stupidity and bad breath.

E&D: You also played bass in Psychic Orgy along with members of Crumbsuckers. How as that experience?

Parris: It was unsatisfying in the end. A space filler for me just to keep my hand in. Ultimately I ended up quitting. It wasn’t my music. But playing with Chuck and Marc was great, they are both great musicians. It just wasn’t my thing. Daro the drummer was great too and the singer Milton, all wonderful musicians, just not my cup of tea.

E&D: Are you still a fan of hardcore today and are you feeling any newer bands?

Parris: Yes I am, initially I started to say no but that’s not entirely true. I know that “hardcore is a lifestyle”, but it’s also a musical style and I’m hearing its influence outside the actual hardcore scene. I must say, the bands that call themselves hardcore aren’t really following the path we carved out with music. It’s more like they are squatting the past. We, the bands of the OG hardcore era Minor Threat, Cro-Mags, Bad Brains, Dead Kennedys, Black Flag, were all different in style, so bands influenced by us should also be themselves and be mainly influenced by our originality and fire, and shouldn’t be looking for a blueprint or method, there should be an organic expansion from what we did, that shows that influence but takes on personal expression, something entirely new. And I do see the result of that expansion, but I see it elsewhere. I see bands that are spawned from the hardcore scene of the 80s, bands like Pantera were certainly one, and System Of A Down are very much the spawn of the Dead Kennedys and Slipknot are all our ilk and certainly more musical. I’m sure people will scoff at this but that’s how music is, it influences in the strangest places. It’s no stranger than me being influenced by Rush and Yes and making Cro-Mags.

E&D: What music are you listening to at the moment?

Parris: Slipknot, Led Zeppelin and a lot my own music. Riff tapes, demos and recordings of 6 songs I wrote and recorded. I also work on new material continuously. So at the gym or going to bed I listen to my demos over and over, refining editing. Immersing myself into it like I did in 1982.

E&D: You directed music videos like ‘Slam’ by Onyx, ‘Tales From The Hardside’ by Biohazard and ‘Black No 1’ by Type O Negative. How were those experiences and how did you get into that in the first place?

Parris: It all stemmed from the ‘We Gotta Know’ video. Which I made with an old military film camera then me and my brother edited together. After the success of that video, everyone wanted the “backstage behind the scenes video, even Bon Jovi did one (I didn’t do that one) so I was hired to do one for Anthrax for the song ‘Belly Of The Beast’. Anthrax’s management then asked me to direct the concert film Live Noize and the documentary Attack Of The Killer B videos. Then it all domino-ed from there, I had a career as a director. I loved directing music videos for so many great bands but I was lured back into music for 5 years which put me back to square one in the film business when I returned after Cro-Mags ended again in 2000. I went back into film, but at different level and different job.

E&D: Was working on the Onyx – ‘Slam’ video as crazy as it looks in the video?

Parris: Yes, it was a wild 2 days. I would write down what I wanted to film and a week later all these people would show up with equipment and cameras and execute whatever I asked them to do. Pretty amazing fun. The live scenes were in a warehouse in queens and we invited 3 hundred kids down to SLAM! But black kids don’t slam dance, or they didn’t and I had to teach them. Also they were a rowdy bunch and only laughed when our very white assistant director asked for “quiet”. So there we were with an unruly crowd of kids who just wanted to have fun. And a band who had to take slamdancing lessons from me. The first shots were with the big crowd and Onyx on top a van used as a stage. I yelled out, “ok dive into the crowd and flip facing up the rap up to the camera on a crane above you.” I heard “fuck that.” And the crowd roar with laughter. It was so loud I had to climb up on the van and demonstrate. I dove I with a flip looked up at them and said, if I can do it, you can.” There I was surfing the mass of kids and suddenly all of Onyx dove in. I said, “yes yes now let’s roll the camera.” The video speaks for itself. I knew I had a good one in the can and it sent me into a few years of directing that was great fun. Until I let music lure me away.

E&D: What other music videos did you work on?

Parris: Biohazard – ‘Tales From The Hardside’, ‘Punishment’, ‘Shades Of Grey’ and ‘After Forever’. Run DMC – ‘Ooh Whatcha Gonna Do’, Kings X – ‘Dogman’, Iinsane Clown Posse – ‘Chickin Huntin’, Nuclear Assault – ‘Trail Of Tears’, Anthrax – ‘Belly Of The Beast’, to name a few.

E&D: You have also worked on a variety of movies such as A Guide To Recognising your Saints and more recently, Den Of Thieves. Did that come about because of your music videos?

Parris: It’s all connected, steps in a creative life. You just follow the opportunities.

E&D: What other movies have you worked on?

Parris: A Dog’s Purpose, Isn’t It Romantic with Rebel Wilson and Liam Hemsworth. I’ve worked on many but I these 2 are big films and I was the A camera operator on these two most recent films.

E&D: How different is it between working in the music and movie industries?

Parris: Completely different worlds. Music is littered with people who have nothing else, so they are afraid yet arrogant, self destructive and foolish. Wild and unpredictable. We reach highs no one will ever understand and it is impossible to hold on to. There is no discipline and no boundaries. It’s a dysfunctional abusive family and the love is powerful but ultimately doomed because it’s unrequited and selfish. On the other hand. The film business is a machine manned by professionals who show up, are never late and deliver. And rewards come to those who excel.

E&D: What are you working on just now?

Parris: TV shows mostly, I bounce around on shows like Gotham, Power, Sweetbitter, Blue Bloods, the Americans, Last OG, orange is the new black, and others… movies like A Dog’s Purpose, Isn’t It Romantic and Den of Thieves.

E&D: What are some of the ultimate highlights of your career so far?

Parris: Lemmy asked me for my autograph in 2000 on a Revenge CD and in 1994 I met Dimebag, Phil introduced us and Dime simply looked me in the eye, shook my hand and said “damned good guitar sound son!” Layne Staley told me, “In Seattle, Cro-Mags are like our Led Zeppelin.” Rob Haldord told me “I’m a big fan.” Those moments and others like it are the surprise bonus gifts that my music has given me and keeps reminding me that I was part of and remained me to be proud of. The shock of hearing someone I revere bare witness to what I’ve worked so hard on. I certainly didn’t target other musicians, they just get caught in the net. And hearing them say the same things I might say to them or what any fan might say always is a shock. those little moments are the greatest satisfaction I could imagine my music causing for me. Not that the 56,000 times some kid with crazy eyes told me “Age Of Quarrel changed my life” wasn’t impactful every time I heard it, but when Mike Patton said it, I didn’t really understand him at first. I’ve even gotten to the point when people start the sentence, “Age of Quarrel…” I automatically mouth the rest of their sentence as they say the words, “….changed my life.” Because they always say that, always. Unless they are Best Wishes fans then the whole conversation is different. These moments are what you are left with after the music is made, after the initial joy of discovery of the riffs, then the creation of songs, then the final realization of an album, and that part of it is over forever. You release it and it has a life of its own. After that all you have left is the echo coming back, as the voices of fans. That’s the surprise payoff and Age of Quarrel and Best Wishes have been echoing off the fans and back at me for 35 years. What could I think of that? It’s a confusing bittersweet joy.

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