Saturday, December 9, 2006

Interview: Sudden Impact

SUDDEN IMPACT were a hardcore band that existed from the early to late 80’s. Technically they were from Newmarket but Newmarket didn’t really have a scene so most of their shows were in Toronto. I always thought of them as a Toronto band. And they stood out from the pack because they played heavier music. I would later come to find out thatthey were big time skate fanatics, but they were our first crossover band. And they would play with bands that were part of that scene like SUICIDAL TENDENCIES, S.C.U.M., FAIR WARNING, and D.B.C. They may not have played with D.R.I. or C.O.C. but they should have. SUDDEN IMPACT released a demo that I wound only find out about much later and it was called “Freaked Out”. It is one of my favourite recordings by the band. I knew them from their “No Rest From the Wicked” days, which was their first full length. I will always know them for songs like “Keep on Truckin’” and “Sudden Impact” which were circle pit anthems to me. This interview was done back in December of 2006 when they got back together to play a couple of reunion shows. I tried to get this into MRR, but I guess I have submitted too many pieces to them as of late and they want to focus on newer bands. But SUDDEN IMPACT were one of my all time favourites from the T.O. H.C. scene. Marquee Records has recently compiled a couple of CDs that collect all of SUDDEN IMPCAT’s material so if you are looking on tracking down their stuff check out

Introduce yourselves and tell us what you play in SUDDEN IMPACT ?)
Steve (S): I’m Steve and I play bass.
Scott (SC): I’m Scott. I play drums.
Mike (M): Mike. Guitar.
Reid (R): My name is Reid. I play guitar as well.
Johnny (J): My name is Johnny and I play with myself.
When did SUDDEN IMPACT form ?
J: After Mike joined.
Sc: ’84.
And how did the band get together ? How did you meet each other ?
Sc: It was hanging out. It was all the same guys just hanging out and digging fast music and getting a band together.
So was it like going to shows and seeing each other … ?
Sc: Yep. We also knew each other from skating.
R: Oh well we didn’t see each other for a long time and then we would go and see shows and it was like ‘Oh how you doin’ ? Haven’t seen you since such and such skateboard park.’
Sc: It’s weird. The way we met was through a pair of van shoes and an independent trucks shirt because back then nobody had Vans. If you had Vans you ordered them from California. So if you a saw a guy with Vans you approached him. You knew he was a skater. And that’s how we met those guys. I think we met at DEAD KENNEDYS. We met Boris (MICRO EDGE) and those guys the first time.
At the Concert Hall ?
Sc: Yeah.
Were you guys all from the same area or just part of the Toronto scene ?
Sc: Sort of. We were north. Me and Steve were in Newmarket. Johnny was in Aurora. Mike was in the city and Reid was in the city.
J: I lived in Aurora only for a year. I was from the city. I actually met all those guys way previous to me living in Aurora. We used to all sort of hang out. All that stuff you were saying with MICRO EDGE for about the Record Peddler and that stuff because I started hanging out there when I was 14. And I started working there when I was 15. I met Mike through that and hung out with the CHRONIC SUBMISSION guys a lot. I played in a little goof band that we made for high school in Aurora with Travis from the SADIES and we just did BLACK FLAG and VENOM songs just to fuck with everybody at our school.
What were you called ?
J: It was called BRAIN HAMMER after one of the SPINAL TAP records. We did a couple of original songs that were really bad and a couple of covers. We did our thing and I hung out with Mike and his brother Jim and we were friends with Scott and I used to go see SUDDEN IMPACT play all the time and things weren’t working out with the other singer and I used to help them move gear and stuff. Actually that was the only time I moved gear because after I got in the band I never moved it again (laughter). Then they just asked me one day if I wanted to come and try out and I was like ‘Wow. This is crazy.’ And I was all nervous and we went and did it and it just kept going for years after that.
Reid. Were you in MICRO EDGE at the time or did SUDDEN IMPACT form after ?
R: This was after that.
Okay so there weren’t two bands going simultaneously.
R: No.
The rest of you, were you in any bands previous to SUDDEN IMPACT ?
J: Weren’t you in the SURF or something. A garage band.
You were talking about setting up some shows up north. Can you tell us about that ?
S: We just had a practise space in Aurora right down the street and we just … we were the first guys to have shows there ….you know innocent bystanders. We played some gigs there. So we decided to put on some shows there. We started postering all over. We postered the hell out of the city and we somehow dragged a bunch of Toronto kids to see these shows.
So it was mostly kids from Toronto that came up to this?
S: No it was mostly locals that didn’t really have a clue….
Sc: And the bands came with their entourages.
J: What was that place called again ?
S: It wasn’t called anything.
J: Wasn’t it above Mr. Subs on Yonge Street ?
Sc: It was by the sub shop.
S: Great hall. It was a thrift store most recently. It’s still there. If it’s still empty maybe we’ll go back there one day. So we brought up bands. We had DIRECT ACTION, MICRO EDGE, YOUTH YOUTH YOUTH, and all these guys did these things …. And Newmarket ….we didn’t know anybody in Aurora. We weren’t there then. It was just like ….
Sc: It was so close. It was convenient.
S: Yeah.
Sc: It was a ball.
S: But it was crazy. The MICRO EDGE kids would come up on the subway just to practise. All the way up there because it was so hard to find a place. Anyway, you wouldn’t call it a scene because it was just a couple of people.
How the hell would they get up there?
S: GO bus. The old GO Bus.
Sc: GO bus and skateboard.
S: The whole deal about living up there is you could get down to the city no problem. But if the show was any good you would have to ditch half way through. If the band was really good you knew you were going to miss the last GO bus. You knew you were going to hitch hike home on Yonge Street, which was …. You know you were going to be up all night.
Sc: Or you would go to Finch and pass out on the bench and catch the first bus in the morning.
J: I can remember one time I was friends with this band called TERMINAL RAGE and nobody ever had any money. They would go home to Don Mills. They would go and jam before they would go and play and we would get on the street car with drums and amps and guitars and everything and move it down on the TTC. Rolling amps from Yonge Street to Larry’s Hideaway and stuff like that. Just rolling them right down the street.
That is crazy.
J: It was the only way. Nobody had a car.
What was the idea with the band when you first finally got together in a jam space and said what do you want to sound like ? Did that kind of a decision take place ?
Sc: We wanted to be fast. We wanted to sound like VENOM.
Initially? Because the demo sounds a lot faster and as years progressed you got a lot heavier sounding.
J: I think it was sort of like just looking at everything from a progression that based on musical abilities. Also based on different styles of music that came out that we went ‘Wow. This is great.’
M: Everybody had their influences so it all sort of came together. Whenever we tried and played a cover it always sounded like SUDDEN IMPACT.
J: When you hear landmark records that change things drastically like CORROSION OF CONFORMITY “Animosity”. That was a huge record that added the whole metal and punk mixture to the whole thing. You know, stuff like that. We picked up on all kinds of things.
Sc: I was telling Reid that I remember the first time Steve brought home METALLICA “Kill ‘Em All”. I hadn’t heard it. I had never even heard of them and I couldn’t believe it. We were just ‘Holy shit’. It was amazing.
J: The other night I was talking with Reid about remembering to go and play a show in Quebec City and we were all messed up. We roll out of the van at whatever time it was cranking LL COOL J’s “Radio” which was one of the first rap albums I had ever heard. We were totally into it and all these Northern Quebec punkers were looking at us going ‘What the hell are you listening to?’ We just always really had a very diverse musical experience and I think it all expanded and made us do whatever it was that we did.
But essentially you guys were a crossover band.
Sc: True. In the beginning.
In the beginning?
M: I would say no.
I would agree. But later on you kind of became known for ….
Sc: As Johnny was just saying it evolves with new bands coming out and new sounds coming out.
J: And you know when you listen to a lot of stuff that was traditionally a lot more punk there is so much metal in it. Like listen to Daryl Jennifer from the BAD BRAINS or Rocky George from SUICIDAL. Like that’s as metal as you can get. It’s the early stuff but still there was more of a punk thing it just came out in different ways I guess.
What was the idea behind the name of the band? Was it a Clint Eastwood reference ?
Sc: Reid came up with the name.
R: At the time it was …. Steve and me talked about this. I think it was at the Turning Point. We just had names. Our songs were really short and they are fast and they are done and over with and it’s sudden and they make an impact. And that was it. But most of the bands at the time had these two word names. NEGATIVE APPROACH as an example. They would tag two things together that would cancel each other out. And I guess the movie was out at the time. It just seemed appropriate. There was no deep thought about it.
What was the first gig you guys did?
Sc: We were just talking about this. We think it was JFA at the Turning Point.
Do you know roughly what time it might have been? Like what year maybe?
S: It was ’84. I know that. I think Mitch had something to do with putting it on. He made up the flyer. We went out again postering.
Did he do many shows?
S: No. Jill must have been involved. I forget how that thing worked. I remember going nuts. Go to every record store putting a flyer in between every third record and it worked. Because JFA … nobody knew who JFA were. How many singles would have come into the Peddler? You might have had three copies of the record. So it was all fully word of mouth and they packed the Turning Point and it was a good gig.
Where did you start playing out after that? Was it mostly the Turning Point? Was there other places? The Upper lip was around. Where would you have played?
R: We played Larry’s. We played the market.
S: Remember those hardcore matinees? Where were they?
J: The Bridge / Ildiko’s. Quoc Té. Everywhere. El Mocombo.
Sc: The Silver Dollar.
Did you do much touring? Did you play much out of town?
R: We played a lot in Montreal, Quebec. We always played Quebec. That was the real stronghold for us. And little places that we could go to for weekend shows. Kingston, London. Anywhere that was within reach of the weekend. Windsor, Detroit, Rochester. Buffalo.
S: No big U.S. stuff just cross border towns that we could head down and hit.
J: We all had jobs so we all had to work. Sometimes we could get away for 3 or 4 days. Sc: The longest we ever went away was for three weeks. That was when we went right out to St. John’s.
Was there much of a scene back then because I was talking to some people who said there was certainly a period where nothing was happening in St. John’s and it sounds like roughly in that era. Did you play to anyone?
Sc: They were good shows.
S: Well they had brought DOA out there and that was the big deal because that was a big leap from the days of SLIME and all that stuff.
Did you play with anyone from out there?
S: No. So the PUBLIC ENEMY guys ….
Did you play with SCHIZOID out there?
S: No they were long gone.
Because they came out here ?
S: Yeah they moved out here.
R: Turned out to be a lot of our roommates.
S: Yeah. So anyway we just popped in for a couple of shows. Big shows. They did a good job and then carried on.
And you played the east coast all the way out and back I guess.
S: As much as you can you know.
Did you play with NIEGHBOURHOOD WATCH?
S: Totally.
I was going to ask you about the Montreal gig. There was a story about Steve getting locked in Foufounnes.
R: Oh. Something always happened. We would go away for the weekend and somebody would disappear.
J: We played a show with FAIR WARNING and we used to party a fair bit at the time and Steve got excessively drunk and went into the bathroom.
S: I fell asleep in the bleachers.
J: No you fell asleep in the toilet stall and you woke up and it was dark and you couldn’t find the door to get out and then you finally found the door to get out and it was locked and you couldn’t get out and we never got him out until the next day.
Sc: He set off the alarm or something.
S: So yeah I’m freaking out because I had been into eating chips and checking out the bar and having a not bad time and then I thought ‘Wow. They’re going to open up so I got to put on some anger like ‘I got locked up. How the fuck could you do that?’ Putting on an aggressive front and the guy was like ‘Oh it happens all the time.’
So that happened quite a lot at Foufounnes because it was like a fortress there with the gates and stuff.
S: Yeah. It’s got those rolling garage doors.
J: Do you know what that means in English? Didn’t it mean the assholes electric? That pretty much described it.
Was that the show that appears on the new discography?
J: That show that we did I think that was the first or second show that I had ever sung with them. I think the first one was when we opened for DISCHARGE at RPM. I think that was the first show that I did with SUDDEN IMPACT. And that show was like the next day. It was all pretty bizarre.
I wanted to ask you about the “Freaked Out” demo. First off where did the name come from?
Sc: It was one of the songs.
J: Scott wrote the song about this guy that he worked with.
Sc: The guy was just a psycho.
J: It’s kind of just about a crazy man.
S: You don’t know what you are doing at the time. It just happens right.
R: It’s actually a very humourous song. It is like the in joke for the band. Johnny has been changing the words lately.
J: We’ve been having a lot of fun with it.
S: You’re not supposed to have to explain things 20 years later.
Where did you record it?
Sc: Accusonic.
So was Brain involved with it?
R: Yeah.
Was he involved with all your recordings?
R: Yep.
J: Except for one little demo that we did in a jam studio for that video that we did. He didn’t do that, but we actually ended up going on his label. He never really had a label. He just sort of had the NRK thing going on and then he made Diabolic Force.
I was going to ask about Diabolic Force. So was Diabolic Force …
J: Yeah. Diabolic Force first started with SACRIFICE. The first one he did. And then SLAUGHTER. It kind of progressed from that.
Are all these releases on the Marquee label?
Sc: Yeah.
J: I just think SACRIFICE is there.
Sc: No they’ve got a brand new batch of releases. The SLAUGHTER boxset.
J: But I think they did other recordings.
Is the Diabolic Force connection out of the whole discography release?
J: Yes and No. I mean we just sort of did it. Somebody asked us to. The guys from SACRIFICE … I got an e-mail from Joe Rico asking us about this thing that this label in Brazil is doing and they seemed hyped on Toronto stuff and they liked what they heard about us and they wanted to put it out. And we are like ‘Wow somebody still cares 15 years later. Let’s go fir it’. We were hoping to get a free trip to Brazil out of it or something.
Not yet?
J: We’re still working on it.
Well the second one is about to come out so maybe. Cross your fingers for that.
J: So buy our record and help us get to Brazil.
Is “Gonzo” a TED NUGENT cover? Is it a song about him?
J: “Gonzo” is a TED NUGENT song. We just changed all the words around to make it more about being young and goofy and punk rock.
Is there stories behind songs like “Steamy Loafs” or “Paint Fumes” or “Cat’s Lives”?
M: They all have stories.
Do they?
J: I think Scott wrote a lot and his wife Michelle.
Sc: Yeah. Some of the first stuff. But Mitch wrote those ones that you just mentioned.
How many years between “Freaked Out” and “No Rest for the Wicked”? What was the gap between that?
Sc: Three. Two.
J: That is where Mike came in. They had another guitar player for a bit, James, and there is a couple of songs on the first discography that me and Mike came in after that. Well you tell him Mike.
M: Yeah we recorded that at … where did we record that?
Sc: That was in a house.
M: In North York. I remember that $250. That was a lot of money at the time.
Do you know whereabouts?
R: I grew up in North York and I could probably walk by and nail the house but I couldn’t remember the address.
I just wonder who it might have been ? Like a punk guy or …
R: No it was an old engineer guy. It was his studio in the basement. It was his hobby and ….
Sc: The price was right.
S: We just kept selling those cassettes. The “Freaked Out” cassettes. We’d get some money and we were smart enough somehow or Reid was to save the money, buy more cassettes, sell more cassettes. The guys at the Peddler said ‘Okay you guys sell enough cassettes.’
R: We sold about 400 or 500 tapes. The next step was ….
S: Record something. If we like it maybe we’ll put it out. That’s how it happened.
Was there any other songs from that session that might not have got released or is everything that was ever recorded on the LP?
Sc: I think that was everything. There could be some lost thing.
My thoughts in listening to the demo and then listening to the LP is that you started getting into more serious issues. Like it seemed like there is some more happy go lucky themes on the demo. On the record there is things like “Terrorist Attack” and “To our Glorious Dead” which sound like an anti war song. Was that the case? Was the lyrical side also developing with the music side?
Sc: Yeah it might have. I don’t think it was intentional though.
J: A lot of the songs you are talking about I didn’t write, but knowing them intimately I think a lot of them when you actually sit down and read the lyrics and think about what they are about you would be surprised from the titles that there is a hell of a lot of play on themes. A lot of it is mostly personal stuff. Things in our own little world or our own little environment that we were part of. You write about what you see.
Sc: “Terrorist Attack” is still true today I think.
J: We weren’t really heavy handed and we weren’t really super political. We basically seemed to be about doing whatever you want. Have some fun.
I was going to ask about this song “Terrorist Attack” actually. That song would have a different meaning in today’s world. What was the song originally about?
Sc: I wrote it. It was just stuff that was going on in the news. It was just good material for songs.
J: ‘In the wrong place at the wrong time’. That’s really what it is.
The song “Bent” was a song against straight edge.
J: I know the meaning behind that one, but I don’t know if he is going to have the balls to tell you.
I’m wondering if it is about not being straight edge. Did you guys get coined as straight edge because you were skaters?
Sc: No. It was about a guy who was trying to be straight edge and I guess after a certain amount of times realized that wasn’t for him and that was about it. I didn’t even write it. Mitch wrote it.
“Keep on Truckin’”. Is it a pit anthem?
Sc: A what?
A song about being in the pit. When I listen to the song, when I would be in the pit and you would be playing that song ‘keep on pushing on going further, get out of my way I just gotta get past’. It’s kind of like a song about being in the pit.
S: No it’s just about doing your own thing and people are telling you to do something else and you don’t know why you are doing it so you can’t stop it so you just ‘Keep on Truckin’ and doing your own thing. I want what I don’t need when I need to not want more makes no sense but it’s just that you’re driven.
J: Didn’t Jim write that song?
What was the inspiration behind “To Our Glorious Dead”? It’s a slogan on a war memorial downtown.
Sc: Mitch wrote it.
So is it an anti-war song?
Sc: I think it’s basically saying it’s a waste of life. Mitch wrote it. You’d have to ask him.
“No Rest for the Wicked” ? It’s a great catch phrase. It’s used all the time by people. What’s the song about?
R: It’s actually turned. ‘No Rest For the Wicked’ is the term but we twisted that to ‘No Rest From the Wicked’.
Oh. Okay. I’ve always been getting it wrong all these years. Why did Mitch leave the band?
J: He went on to be an underwear model didn’t he?
Sc: He was getting pretty good at mountain bike racing. It was taking up a lot of weekends. We were jamming and basically he was into biking and we were into jamming. We were starting to do pretty good and he wasn’t showing up to practises and so we just got another singer.
J: You ever hear of the BLACK FLAG jam policy. There was endless jamming. Well that’s the way we were. We practised at least three times a week for two hours at a time. Minimum. If not 4 or 5 times. We were just relentless with jamming. It was just endless.
Sc: Yeah. It was funny too because Mitch. No one had talked to him and he came to practise one time and Johnny was practising with us.
J: Yeah. That was a great one. I go I think I’ll go stand in the hallway for a minute.
Sc: But now we talk to Mitch all the time by e-mail. It’s cool. There is no hard feelings or anything.
Do you want to tell the story about how you got involved with the band?
J: Well I kind of did, I think earlier. We were all part of the same scene. We hung out. We went to shows together. Mike was living with Brian at the time and we were hanging out a lot and Mike’s brother, Jim, and Scott. I had just moved to Aurora and all of a sudden there was other guys that I could hang out with up there and it is just kind of evolved. They asked me to do it and I said ‘Yeah’ and I couldn’t believe that they still wanted me to hang out.
Do you want to tell the Sammy Hagar story about Mitch?
Sc: Mitch moved to California and the rumour was that he worked in Sammy Hagar’s shop.
Does he still work there?
Sc: No.
The first CD of the discography “No Rest from the Wicked” is a collection of all the early stuff and you have a new one coming out as well.
J: It’s the “Freaked Out” demo, the “No Rest” album, they did a recording with James O on guitar which some of the songs appeared on “It Came From the Pit”. There was 5 songs recorded on that.
Are the other three on here?
J: I think there is one missing.
S: Then there is live stuff so it starts with Mitch and it ends with Johnny raging his first show.
J: Yeah. That was sort of the thought process behind it.
Yeah…it brings us along chronologically. The next one is called “Split Personality”?
J: Yeah.
And is it part of this Punk Classic series.
Sc: Classic Core.
And when is it expected out?
J: We just sort of finished putting the compilation together. We have a little bit of an artwork thing to do with it. It should be out in the spring.
Will it be the “Split Personality” art cover ?
J: Yeah. Pretty much. It’ll be a take on what we did with the “No Rest” stuff on the new one. It wasn’t exactly the same but it’s pretty close.
And what else is going to be on it ?
J: Some live stuff that we had and the album. The live show is a show that we played with VOIVOD at the El Mocambo.
Sc: It says something about how our music changed because the first one is 32 songs and its an hour or whatever and this new one is 18 songs and it is about the same amount of time. It shows that our songs started to get a lot longer.
Yeah. As you developed as musicians.
J: Yeah. It is the influences. I think everyone developed as musicians. Everybody was young when they started and when they got older they learned how to play. If you listen to a lot of that music the two minute song turned into a three or four minute song.
When did you guys break up ?
J: Which time ?
I imagine the last time.
J: We did our last show in ’90 or ’91. We kind of had a few little weird versions of the band and in ’91 we played with SNFU and then broke up.
Sc: We had Dallas from the SADIES play bass for a while. We had a guy Chris sing for a while. We had another guitar player. What was that guy’s name ?
J: He was a MONSTER VOODOO MACHINE. Jason. He’s in another band right now.
Sc: But this was kind of core.
S: These five guys played together last in ’89.
Sc: So then after a few years we decided to get together and we would go up north to my cottage on the weekend and jam and have a blast and fun and so we started doing that.
J: We just started calling it the fat, bald, and grey session because it was pretty much where we are at. He’s got a cottage on Wasaga Beach so we would just go up there and have fun. Get drunk and roll around in the snow. Play really loud music to nobody.
S: We did that in ’99. We first realized that everyone had computers. From being computer phobic to all of a sudden we were in touch. We started challenging each other. Come on let’s play a show. Yeah right. Okay if we are going to do it we are going to go up to the cottage and we are going to have a turkey. We are going to eat and drink like maniacs and we did it ever since.
Party like rock stars. And no one complained when you were playing up north.
Sc: No it was pretty dead up there in the winter time.
J: I have a story about that. We went out on a midnight romp walking around and we come back and Steve was extremely drunk and passed out and me and Boris turned him into Cheetoh man. We stuffed Cheetohs in every orifice of his body.
Sc: That’s not the same night we got stuck in the snowbank at 5:30 in the morning.
J: We have lots of weird stories like that.

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