“They said it would NEVER happen…”
Hardcore music just loves superlatives. Always, Never, Forever, True ’til Death? Yeah, right. For some of us hardcore aficionados, the key element has nothing to do with the message being screamed, but rather the release that we collectively feel when watching members of a band go off as hard as they do while performing for/against whatever it is that inspired them to write in the first place. But in all seriousness, did anyone really think this would/could ever happen?
“There will be quiet.”
Maybe at some point, but when seminal NYHC group JUDGE takes the stage in NYC next month, the reaction is gonna be LOUD! Flying bodies, swinging fists, shredded vocal chords, the works. THIS is the one we’ve been waiting for, and by some odd chance, it’s actually happening! So let’s all get loose and ready as this legendary band returns to the stage for The Black and Blue Bowl, hosted by Black and Blue Productions, at Webster Hall in NYC.
Plane ticket purchases and work schedule rearrangements are happening all over the world for this one, folks. I got in touch with vocalist Mike Judge to talk about the if/when/how of this amazing event. If you’ve ever been curious about how Hardcore in NYC was “back in the day,” and if you can find one, grab a ticket to this monster.
G- Hi there and thank you very much for taking the time to speak with Live High Five! First off, for some of our readers who may not know, introduce the members in the group and tell us what they play. Is this an all-original lineup?
M- Yes, this is the original line up: Me, Porcell, Sammy, Matt and Lars. When I decided that I wanted to do this, I talked to the original guys first. All of them were pretty much stoked from the get go.
G- Why now? Why did you decide that it was time to “put the band back together” and make an appearance for legions of fans that NEVER thought they’d get the opportunity to see Judge perform? What/who inspired you to grab the mic again?
M- It was a slow roll. I didn’t wake up and say “I’m doing this.” I’ve thought about it on and off for years. It just happened that on one afternoon, I was thinking about JUDGE when Taavi, an old friend, called and asked if I’d be interested in singing a JUDGE song with Ezec from Skarhead, who was doing a record of covers. As it turned out, I was too late to do the record, but the ball was rolling.
Next was Civ inviting me to see Gorilla Biscuits play the BnB Bowl. They did “NY Crew” and that kind of cemented it. Then, the BnB guys had me on the radio and I’d seen firsthand that people were still pumped for this band.
The rest was just talking to old band mates and a rehearsal to see how it sounded.
That was it. JUDGE was alive again:
Porcell- Lead Guitar
Lars- 2nd Guitar
G- Do you still follow the NYHC scene these days, and how does the tone of the scene now compare with how it was back in the 80’s and early 90’s? Do you see more similarities or differences when you compare the two, and what would you say is the most important aspect that still keeps it underground?
M- Well, I never stopped listening to heavy music. It’s what gets me going. I wasn’t necessarily listening to NYHC, I was digging on it all. If it was good, I’d support it no matter where it was from.
I’m not sure about the changes that the scene has seen. I wasn’t hanging out anymore. Once I got back in the city, the changes I saw were mostly for the better I think, although I’m really not the guy to ask since I’m not at every show anymore. It seems the violence has gone down. It seems there’s more respect for one another. The gigs I’ve seen have sounded great. It seems like a great time to be involved with the music.
Back when I was doing my thing with JUDGE, we’d play for 30-40 people. Now, it seems gigs are well attended. Its lots of fun playing to packed houses for sure.
G- As I am positive Judge is getting offers from all over the world to play more shows, can we/should we expect the possibility of any additional performances after Black and Blue Bowl?
M- Nothing is written in stone. We have our sights on the BnB Bowl and that’s it. Once we do that, we will sit down and talk about where our heads are at. The BnB Bowl is a big thing for us, mainly because it’s NY. I’ve always felt I owe NY my best… That city has done so much for me while I was growing up. That city and scene mean the world to me, (so) I guess once that weekend is over and the dust settles, we will see how things can proceed.
G- Judge released their records, including the highly sought after “Chung King Can Suck It,” on Revelation Records, now a label as legendary as the band. How do you feel about your lasting influence in the scene, and what does it feel like knowing your work with Revelation Records has propelled both of you to such a high status in the hardcore music scene across the globe?
M- I’m sure Revelation would’ve been fine with or without JUDGE. I think we owe Rev. a bunch, so if JUDGE still sells for them, that’s great. I’m not sure there is a JUDGE without Rev. It’s easy to get your music out now with digital downloads and the internet. Back then, we needed a label and Rev. was there.
G- Is their even a remote possibility that Judge may enter the studio again? Are there any songs of old or new that you may be preparing for a future release?
M- We’ve kicked around a few things. Nothing set in stone. We will see.
G- What is the craziest or most memorable show that you have played back in the old days of hardcore and who else was on the lineup? Where was it and what was it like?
M- A lot of our gigs back then were memorable, either for the gig itself or for the people who we met out there. Sure, there was a violent side, but not always. Also, touring then with no cell phones and usually no money, it was a definitely (an) ‘Us against the world’ feeling. That’s what was awesome and that’s what made us friends like we are. We leaned on each other and lived with each other and at night we rocked out the best we could.
G- Lastly, what advice can you give some of the young, up and coming bands everywhere who want to make it in music, on the road, and as a musician or singer in the hardcore scene?
M- I could say a bunch, but I won’t. I’ll just say “Learn where this started”, “Listen to those old punk bands” and “This won’t die.”