If you have been paying attention in the world of Punk/Hardcore/Oi, you have seen some of Andy’s artwork or heard of his band, Burden. In this interview we get into art, hardcore, New Jersey and Cape Cod. This is a good one, enjoy.
1) Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Andy and I’ve been described as an artist and musician but both of those terms seem a bit more regal than I’m comfortable with. Outside of that I’m an employee of the Commonwealth for 17 years now as a Crew Chief doing Mosquito Control for the state out on Cape Cod.
2) You have been very prolific with flyer art and album art in the past few years, which do you prefer? Pros and cons of both?
I definitely prefer to do album and t-shirt art…something that is actually going to stick around and be enjoyed. Doing flyers frankly sucks man, they take forever and in an age of zero attention span they are instantly forgotten at a glance on whatever social media platform they pop up on. It would be a different story if people still printed them and handed them out etc. I used to love hanging up flyers in my room as a kid. They kind of doubled as an art form and a way to let people know where the shows were at, etc. Having said that I may complain but it’s still a cool way to do art at all and be a part of this long tradition of HC aesthetics. I do most of the art for my own band’s show flyers just to keep the look uniform. All of those old flyers from the 80’s – guys like Sean Taggart, Chuy , Marc Rude were a MAJOR influence on me. It’s an art form of all its own. As far as LP’s and 7”s go, again just playing a small part of this heritage of HC art form is reward enough for me. We all know what it was like to walk into a record store and have that cover just magnetically draw you in and choose that record based on the cover and layout. I guess in that sense it’s a form of advertising like, “Yo, check this shit out this is what and who we are.” it was/is an important part of a bands presentation so to speak. I do remember being really annoyed though as a kid when Meatloaf’s, Bat Out Of Hell, visually promised me some kind of sonic manifestation of Satan himself chewing a baby doing double bass on his ball sack with his fists. Instead I got some bellowing rock opera shit which had me smashing the tape nearly at the first notes. Definite bummer. That’s how it was back then with no way to sample the music, haha. Sometimes you’d score and sometimes you’d end up with Phantasmagoria from the Damned instead of Damned, Damned, Damned. It all comes full circle. I really get a kick out of walking into a random record store in another state and being like, “I drew that!” to myself. So I’ve been absorbed into the pool and that’s pretty neat as a creative person.
3) On your website, Bornpissed.com, you sell prints, shirts, zines and records. How is that going? Does it draw interest globally?
It’s doing steady business but this is punk and this is HC so no one is making actual money, haha. But that’s not why any of us do this anyway. Lynne started it as a way to have a site that has a unique identity and to get products I’ve worked on out there and kinda spread the word on the things me and my friends do. As time went on we’ve begun to carry zines, and some distro items that we like. You end up meeting a lot of cool people dealing with all of this, so it grows that way. It’s pretty organic and that’s awesome. We’ve shipped items to Japan, Korea, all of Europe, Russia, North and South America the list goes on…The HQ is a room in my house. In fact it’s the Burden practice room. Lynne built the site, I do the art, friends print the shirts. Total DIY operation.
4) You had an art show in NYC, what was that like? Did it draw any interest from outside the punk/hc world?
The art show was great, man. It was called “Not Enough Blood” and was held at Kim Mercado’s place in Brooklyn at the time, Brouwerij Lane. It was the first time for me doing something like that and a good amount of people actually showed up which I was extremely grateful for. Friends from NY, NJ, Boston, some regulars at the bar. Lynne and I framed up some of my favorite original works and displayed them there. There were prints for sale, and some free stuff too. I am a terrible businessman, I’m sure I just gave a lot of stuff away. Someone brought some crazy hot sauce, I think it was Bev or Pearse, it was called DEFCON 4 or something. It was put out with some crackers as snacks (hors d’oeuvres?) – this was no normal art show, haha – people ate that shit and were burning up. I came up the absurd notion that rubbing it under the eyes and on the ears would invigorate the wearer but just ended up feeling like a hot coal was on your skin with terrible blinding vapors. At the end of the night we all got in an uber and likely both terrified and enraged the driver as we earnestly car moshed to Cro Mags with the air literally feeling like tear gas from the hot sauce rubbed all over. We were coughing and screaming it was pretty awesome. But to answer your question, no, it didn’t generate much interest at all outside the HC people who were there. It’s pretty low brow stuff and would knock the gluten right out of someone’s bialy before they even took a bite, so no.
5) You have an interest in molding and painting classic horror masks, how did you get into that?
Well I’ve been a life long horror and monster fan, literally my earliest memories are intertwined with movie memories like some kind of very crude mental pretzel. As a kid I was fascinated with the creatures on screen, their stories often just secondary to the visuals and the question “how the hell does someone make these things?”. I identified both with the marginal figures I was seeing and those who directed and created them. The natural progression for me was to get interested in fan magazines in the 80’s like Fangoria, GoreZone etc. As you flipped through the pages one would encounter these ads with these completely lurid masks, rubber masks with eyes bubbling out of sockets from some unfortunate encounter, ax wounds nearly separating foreheads with blood showering down the afflicted’s dismayed face, sores dotting the features of some person wearing and expression of wonder how they got this way.. and they were fucking expensive too! No way I was getting my hands on those, but every time I saw them my pre adolescent heart would race thinking how cool it would be to own one. Earlier than that though I used to get dragged to flea markets as a kid by mother and was given a dollar or two to buy whatever ridiculous thing that caught my eye. I quickly realized that doesn’t get you a lot, even back then, haha. What I was able to find though were these horror comics called “Creepy” and “Eerie” or “Psycho”, they were always all ripped up and in shit shape but only cost about $0.25-$0.50 so naturally I grabbed those suckers. I became completely enamored with them, everything about them resonated with me, but mostly the cover art, which I would stare at in awe. I later learned Frank Frazetta was the one who did most of the memorable ones for me. But anyway back to masks, they would always feature ads in the back for Mask Companies like Don Post, or Topstone and all sort of over the top schlocky stuff like giant hairy spiders, crawling hands etc. All fairly innocent and fun by today’s standards, but they certainly held their charms. Fast forward many years later as an adult, I saw that my good friend George was a collector of these masks and I was blown away by all the cool stuff he had. His influence prompted me to dive deeper into that world, learn its history, and the processes on how they were made. I’ve done a few masks which were surprisingly well received so I started to produce these under the moniker of “Witching Hour Productions” named after the almighty Venom song and the horror comic from the 70’s. Last September (2019) we took a trip out to Mask Fest in Indianapolis to check out what that scene was like, hang with friends from Severin, and see the city. It was really cool, Tom Savini was there, as well as the top mask making artists in the country today, also a lot of weird old celebrities. You can go completely broke there because there is so much crazy shit there if you are a collector. I hope that one day I can hang with all of that talent on display there. We also tore it up on the town at night. Really fun city.
6) You sing for Burden – currently you have a demo and a 7″ out, any future plans?
Yes, right now we are working on completing our first full length LP as of now titled “Scorched Earth”. It will have 10-11 songs depending on run time. It’s mostly written, we just need to tighten up some loose ends and get it recorded. It’s going to come out on Rock And Roll Disgrace Records hopefullyin the Spring of 2020. We are amped on the new material, it’s just what anyone who has heard the band can expect but more powerfully rendered. We haven’t been playing any shows to concentrate on this, but we’ll be back in 2020. We also just had a song on the Atomic Action Records comp called, “Every Winter is Cold” that just came out, so check that out too.
7) Living down on Cape Cod, do you find the tourist free isolation of winter helpful in creating art?
I like winter in general for creative endeavors, I only work on art late at night and the cold literally forces you to stay inside. Winter is more of an internal time anyhow and that kind of forced introspection is always good fuel for art. Not to be a dick but the summer can suck bad here with all of the crowds of tourists. Cliff Hanger was right (about that). I actually hate fucking summer for the most part, every annoying thing is in full flight, bugs, shirtless douches in jeeps and stupid yuppies, all baking under the terrible sun. I do like fishing though so there is that, mercifully.
8) You are originally from NJ, tell me a wild NJHC story.
I’ve seen a lot of crazy shit go down in my years down there but I’m not going to include anyone else in these stories if they don’t directly involve me. One thing that stands out was there was a benefit show for John Joseph from the Cro Mags. It was held at the Cricket Club in Irvington, NJ which is basically a straight up ghetto. I really don’t remember who actually played that day, it was a lot of bands, maybe someone can track down a flyer. I was hanging outside with this radio, like not even radio with a CD player, it was a tape player, haha. I was blasting the Straight Ahead 12” and the owner came out and gave me shit. Keep in mind this is basically a collapsed town, I was being a jerky kid and told him to fuck off. This routine went a few rounds and when he blew his top he sent the bouncers at me. This guy who looked like Hulk Hogan but with Michael Bolton’s hair started attacking me, with two of his other goons. I jumped up on the roof of a car and it became like a looney tunes cartoon, with me and the radio dancing around avoiding the grasping bouncers. At this time Ignite was on an east coast tour. It was probably their first east coast tour because I remember Zoli gave me a two song 7” single the night before at Studio One with the song “straight ahead” on it, coincidentally. Those guys were really cool, down to earth HC dudes. But anyway Zoli and Joe D. Foster intervened and stood with me against the bouncers. I doubt they will remember that but I do and for that I’ll always think that band was cool. The show ended up getting shut down because of me and this incident. I remember seeing JJ there and him looking kinda pissed and I was like, “Damn, I am an asshole.” So it was a shitty day for me getting attacked by the bouncers and bumming JJ out. I figured he would want to kill me or something but maybe he didn’t care. I dont know, haha. For many years you could see the sign for the Cricket Club on the parkway north but I’m not sure if it’s still there or not. One more quick one – I used to play guitar for a band called One 4 One at the time, and we were playing with Hatebreed at the Pipeline. Something went wrong with my gear onstage and I had a bad temper when I was a teen. I threw the guitar while playing, it landed god knows where and I just left the stage. (I’ll jump in right now and say that was pretty childish but it gets even dumber.) I was outside kind of cooling off and the promoter Anthony Trance, (RIP) came up to me to see if I was alright. As an event that can only happen in Newark, NJ, there happened to be this nasty dead cat like 5 feet away from me. I picked it up by the tail and threw it at him! Goddamn that was gross. He recoiled in horror as it bounced off of him, and went inside. I actually feel bad about that, and I hope I apologized to him because he was always cool to me.
9) How awesome and important were WarZone?
They were certainly both in my opinion. I first got turned onto them from Mike Gitter’s (creator of xXx Fanzine from the 80’s) column in Metal Mania magazine in the 80’s. He covered hardcore bands and I’d always look to that to see what was up because I was too young to go to shows. I don’t think I was actually able to get my hands on anything WarZone related until I figured out how to take the train to NYC. Hardcore and punk that wasn’t major label was really hard to find back then, most local stores didn’t carry it. I got Don’t Forget The Struggle… That tape hit me like a lightning bolt…I really dug the whole Positive Skinhead Hardcore vibe, probably because I was actually a pretty troubled youth back then. Maybe I was looking for a better path. It seems ridiculous but I think I was very influenced by these bands on a moral level, probably still to this day it guides how I perceive and deal with life on some level for better or for worse. Every single song on that record is a keeper.
I’m not positive of the date but I think I saw an ad in the Aquarian Weekly or heard on WFMU that WarZone was playing in Newark at a place called Studio One so man I had to go. I convinced this kinda older burn out kid with a hunchback we called “Bross” to take me there being too young to drive. On this day though, a fucking crazy blizzard puts NJ into a standstill and it’s still raging and I’m like, “Yo, we still gotta go!” He didn’t even like hardcore at all, in fact I think he hated it – so props to him for enduring it. So he drove me and a few other goofy adolescent skins to the show which I can’t believe was still on. I think the openers weren’t even HC bands really. WarZone comes on and proceeds to blow up the place with all of 20 attendees going apeshit singing along. It looked like that one old AF flyer inside there. I was hooked before on HC but maybe it was that moment I was like this is the real deal – this is who I want to associate with and who I want to be, these are my people. I said hello to Raybeez who was with some Skingirl after show and he had me sign up on a mailing list for WarZone info and I bought a long sleeve shirt. Next time I caught them was at the AF Last Warning show at CB’s in Dec ’92. That set, if my memory is correct, ended up being released as WarZone’s “Live at CBGB” 7″. At that show they were filming what Ray called a “WarZone Documentary” and filmed me talking to him which I really cringe to imagine what that was like, haha. I probably yelled something ridiculous into the camera like the crowd intro to the Ultimate Revenge VHS tape style, lord knows. Another (cool for me) memory was I was standing outside of City Gardens at Biohazard, SOIA, Sheer Terror a year or so later and I hear that unmistakable voice say “Skinhead youth! This kid knows whats up!” I turn around and Ray shakes my hand. I had a cruddy army jacket with that drawn on the back with an iron cross at the time. I’m getting long winded now but over the years I got to know him a little bit, not on a very personal level but just talking about things at shows. He would legitimately let you in the door at whatever club he was working at for free, he really was that cool, and very down to earth, always had a few minutes to talk. One funny last one – I told him how disappointed I was with the third WarZone LP. I said I bought the tape and was pretty enraged out by how different they sounded and I rode my bike to a creek and threw it in there in disgust. He was like, “I don’t blame you, I would have done the same thing!” Another funny thing was that dude would just materialize out of nowhere! You could be literally anywhere at some random show in another state and you’d turn around and Ray would be standing there! He was ubiquitous. The band and the man definitely represented to me what I thought HC could be in practice, as a lifestyle, and as a moral approach to life. Even if that wasn’t true, I think I thought of him like some skinhead Santa Claus or something, haha. I just believed in the band. I know he was far from a saint to many and the world has a way of deifying people who are gone, but for me I only have positive memories. Lots more to that convo and the band topic in general but I’ll leave it there.
10) What are you currently listening to?
I’ve been jamming The Psychos reissue record that came out on Radio Raheem. Truly hard sounds coming up from the primordial goo of the fledgling N.Y. punk and HC scene. They come off sounding like a less polished Antidote (to use another band as reference) but with their own distinct voice (no pun). Billy Psycho literally looks like he came out of He-Man’s slime pit slamming, like some pre Cambrian sewer skin. You can really smell the piss winds of the path train tunnel in summer here just flying off the record. It’s amazing, dingy hymns of street life, identity and unity —classic NYHC. Really glad this collection made it to vinyl.
11) Shout Outs?
Thanks to my girl Lynnie, for putting up with me and always helping out. The guys in my band. Everyone else if you are in my life you are valued, so too many to mention, lest I forget. Thanks for the interview Jason.
Check out Andy’s art: www.bornpissed.com
Check out his masks: https://www.instagram.com/witchinghourprod/
Listen to Burden: https://atomicactionrecords.bandcamp.com/track/burden-divided
Watch GET INTO IT!