A Lesson In Non-Violence: Nando From NYC Irate
There's been a bit of an ongoing verbal war between the infamous hardcore thrash metal act from Bronx, New York called Irate and the west coast I.R.A.T.E. - over the ownership of well, the Irate group moniker. My past interview with Erik Ulrich of the latter mentioned I.R.A.T.E. - who are currently travelling across the country with The Project Independent Tour - stirred up literal blood dripping over the curbs into the streets from the anger and frustration expressed by the New York Irate's devoted legion of fans. I wanted to be fair and give both sides a chance to tell their story. Jeff Totten of Project Independent has already spoken on his band's behalf in concern with this over-heated issue and now I give that opportunity to the other Irate and hopefully we can finally bury this battle six feet under. I personally thank Nando and Nick from NYC Irate for being real standup and giving me the honor of discussing not just the name ownership situation - but also giving all of us true metalers a bit more history of their band and what is to come from them as they move forward in life. I respect both sides, for I am merely a rock journalist who loves metal music and at the end of the day on all of this, I hope that's what we walk away talking about: music not destruction. Maybe the White house could learn a thing or two from this themselves.
Rocket: As I understand it, your band never did actually register the name for copyright -and when the West Coast I.R.A.T.E. did register it for themselves, a lot of people in New York that followed your band for years became unglued. They are so mad about it still that they are leaving what equates to death threats on a recent interview I conducted recently for metalunderground.com with Erik, the singer of I.R.A.T.E. west coast. Can you explain why there is so much hatred and animosity going on?
Nando: To better answer this question I decided to ask Nick to get a crack on filling you in on what really happened.
Nick: I realize that this may be a lengthy response, but I think it's important to set the record straight on the issues involving us and the Infinite...people. This is the last time any of us want to deal with questions involving this matter, as we have chosen to move on and leave this miserable stain behind us.
This beef dates back to 2001 when Jeff Totten (Their manager) called me at home and asked me a bunch of questions regarding the history etc. of Irate (Us). He then informed me that he represented a band in California who had chosen to use the name Irate. They had filed for a trademark on the name (something we had never officially done), and we were to stop using it.
Obviously, I became enraged at this notion as we had been working our asses off as Irate for over 5 years. My only recourse was to go and hire a patent/copyright attorney to hear our case, and represent us. Our attorney filed a cease and desist motion against Infinite, claiming our documented use of the name dated back to 1996. Jeff Totten responded with documentation of a demo he shopped in 1995 under the name Irate. In his interview with you, Jeff Totten also touched on these points so suffice to say we agree with each other up to here. However, this is the point where the real truth of this dispute comes to light.
So first off, why did we never officially copyright the name Irate? This is solely my fault. I was responsible for handling the band's business affairs. You have to keep in mind that we've always been 100% DIY. We've never had a full time manager or any kind of outside person to handle these things. I was told that a postmarked unopened letter would hold up in court so we mailed ourselves a copy of demo '96, and that was that. There even was a band from Connecticut that called themselves Irate, and stopped because they realized that the name was ours. I never thought we'd have to deal with it again considering we had established ourselves in the New York Hardcore/Metal scene.
So why didn't the infinite guys copyright the name? Why, if they are claiming use in 1995, did they not file until 2001? They have a professional music manager in Jeff Totten, and yet they wait 6 years to file for a copyright on the name? Why is it that their debut album came out in 2003, when they claim to have been around in 1995? Here's why. They never really did anything with the band under the name Irate. They disbanded and went on to form another band, Methadone. Ironically, Methadone was forced to stop using their name by another band called Methadone who claimed prior use. So at some point in 2001, Erik Ulrich, Jeff and the others decided they wanted to use the name Irate. Unfortunately for them, we had already established the name Irate after 5 years of consistent use.
At this point these guys could have easily done the right thing and chosen another name for their band. They didn't. Instead, they filed for the trademark, realizing full well that the Establishment they supposedly are so against would actually protect them. Legally speaking, we had a very compelling case on our side. Had we been able to take this matter to court, we probably would've been vindicated. However, we didn't have the time or money to go to court. We would have had to make the claim in a California court (were in NY), and our attorney estimated that it would probably cost us upwards of 20-30 grand when all was said and done. So both sides reluctantly agreed to try and peacefully coexist. Their name was an acronym, and therefore there was a differentiation between the two Irates. We did not at this point agree to use the name Irate NYC as Jeff Totten claims. That resulted from a more recent incident which I will get to in a moment.
Despite the agreement the two sides had reached, there was still bad blood between us, and our fans were particularly incensed over the fact that a Nu-Metal band would be trying to pass themselves off under the name Irate. We are known for our brutality, our struggle, our hard work, and for our connection to people in the underground Hardcore/metal scene, not just in New York, but all over the world. Clearly our supporters have never been able to stomach the fact that these guys would try to impede on that. So over the years there has been a lot of internet shit talking etc., flying back and forth between the two sides. This is not something we have ever encouraged or wanted to be involved with. We've dealt with this situation the way we deal with most of the negativity in our lives; through music. In 2003 we penned the war anthem, Vendetta and it instantly became our symbol of dominance in the battle of the Irates. One would need only to listen to Erik Ulrich's pathetic response in the song Traitor to understand which Irate is carrying the real firepower.
In the past year or so, the internet beef has really heated up. I'll be the first to admit that it has gotten a little out of hand. There are a chain of events that led up to this moment that are worth noting. Over the past five years we have essentially done what we always do. We rehearse, we write, we play shows in the area, and occasionally we tour Europe. We're still DIY. We're still entirely self-funded, and we still don't really give a fuck. Things were a little different for the infinite rebellion against the establishment guys. They signed a deal. Establishment. They got endorsements. Establishment. They went on a sponsored tour. Establishment. They flopped. There was tension. 4 out of 5 members eventually left because they couldn't deal with Erik and/or Jeff. Once again, these guys found themselves at a point where Irate clearly wasn't working for them. They were dropped from their label. 4/5th of the band was gone. They still had one source of attention though, the constant internet beef with our supporters.
They regrouped, and then decided to try and exploit that beef. Jeff Totten fired off e-mails saying that if we didn't curb our people's mouths on-line, he would shut down our myspace page. Obviously we are a band that believes in free speech, and certainly supports the rights of our fans to voice their opinions. We might not agree with everything said, but we have always felt honored by the undying loyalty of our supporters.
So Jeff Totten fired off a fax of his copyright to myspace, and we were instantly shut down. It was completely unprovoked. We had done nothing towards them. We had thousands of friends on that page. In an instant they were all gone. Our only recourse was to reopen a page under the name Irate NYC, or something other than just Irate. Jeff Totten e-mailed us and told us if we didn't use the irate NYC name on everything, he would take further legal action against us. Once again, these guys were being the aggressors, and hiding behind the establishment. Once again we were being held prisoners by the name we had worked so hard to put on the map.
Eventually this and many other factors led us to decide it was time to move on and drop the name. We all collectively realized that as long as our music was always the main focus, it really didn't matter what banner we went under. While some may view this as giving up, we view it as getting a much needed fresh start. We are excited at the notion that we no longer have to deal with the burdens that come with the name Irate. Earlier this year we made the announcement that we would not continue on as Irate. We played a few final shows here and did a quick tour of Europe.
In a recent interview, Erik Ulrich was asked about the whole beef with us etc. He ended his response by calling us pussies and telling us to come get some. Our people went ballistic. That's when the shit really hit the fan. We had already announced that we were retiring the name, and this guy clearly went and threw fuel on the fire. So a lot of people stepped up and called him out. Some might have taken their words a bit far, but they were simply responding to the challenge he put out there. What was their response to this? According to Jeff Totten, they notified the FBI and all the local authorities. Once again, they played the aggressor, and went running back to the establishment. Once again they showed how transparent and hypocritical they truly are.
Like I said in the beginning of this response, this is really the end of this for us. Hopefully we can all move on and focus on what's important. Music. We are looking forward to having a band that doesn't have to deal with all the bullshit we've dealt with for years. In the end, we put over a decade of hard work, heart, realness, dedication, and passion into the name Irate. We know what that name stands for, and our supporters know what it stands for. Erik, Jeff and co. have the rest or their lives to smear the values of the name Irate. Judging from their past performances, I'm sure they'll do an excellent job.
Rocket: Yeah, I did see on your MySpace music profile page where I got in contact with you to conduct this interview that it says that Irate NYC disbanded earlier this year.
Nando: In light of future prospects that have been presented to us, we decided to hang up the name for retirement and move forward to achieve our goals. We're now working on new material and have decided on a new name for ourselves. After ten plus years of making music together it would be a great shame to just let our love for making music die out over some squabble of name ownership. We know who we are and what weve accomplished over the years and there are definitely more mountains for us to climb. Were not about to let it go.
Rocket: The last album of material this act produced was 'New York Metal' - how much touring did you do with that one?
Nando: We've toured Europe twice and have travelled up and down the east coast playing weekend stints and hometown shows. We've never really had the opportunity to hit up the west coast but that will change soon enough.
Rocket: When did you first start to play guitar, Nando? You certainly have my respect for the monster riff work you've thrown down over the years. I've listened to quite a few of your songs in preparation for this interview, and I think you still have a great future ahead due to this.
Nando: I started on guitar when I was 11 and a half. My Dad used to let me play with his 57 Gibson Les Paul and taught me the basic chords and fingering positions. I'd watch him play for hours and studied his hands and the skill it took to master the instrument. Since then I've practiced hours beyond on hours at not just perfecting my hand mechanics but my knowledge of all things music as well.
Rocket: When did Irate NYC first form?
Nando: The core of Irate started in 1994 when UV and Nick got together to jam out on what was considered a side project at that time. UV played drums for a band called Unknown and on the side he and Nick were constructing what would later become Irate material. Sometime around late 1995, I came into the picture and helped to solidify the music. Phil followed in after me and as soon as we had lyrics we went on to play our first show on September 8th, 1996.
Rocket: What kind of guitars do you play?
Nando: I'm currently playing a Jackson Warrior and I also own a Jackson Kelly, an Ibanez RG 470 and S470. These days I like to stick to the hard tail bridges instead of the floating ones that are hard to keep in tune. The palm mutes also come out more defined as well.
Rocket: What kind of amp rig?
Nando: For the time being I'm playing through a Line 6 Spider II. It's not anything heavy duty but it does allow me to create some kick ass sounds. I guess I'm still searching for my signature sound.
Rocket: Let's lighten things up a bit. What's the funniest thing that's happened to you while on stage performing?
Nando: Nothing really funny has happened to me on stage except for fucking up a song or something like that. Sometimes thats funny. And there was this one time when I was doing back up vocals and my lips got a little to close to the mic, shocking the hell out of me. My initial reaction wasnt laughter, instead one of pain and anger. You know, the kind that triggers your reflexes to beat the shit out of something. Later on, after the pain subsided, I laughed.
Rocket: Who are some of the other local NYC metal bands that you like?
Nando: Billy Club Sandwich, Everybody Gets Hurt, Through The Discipline, Goatamentis, and a flock of others that I can't remember right now.
Rocket: What was your favorite metal album for 2005?
Nando: Hmm, I personally am out of touch with the current Metal albums of today. I mostly just listen to late 80s/ early 90s Thrash and Death Metal.
Rocket: What has been your general experience on Myspace?
Nando: It's been great. Everyday were accepting tons of new friends. Of course, had Infinite Rebellions Manager not interfered and shutdown our page the first time, we would've had more friends than we do now. But that's okay. They can't stop us.
Rocket: Go ahead and give a shoutout to your biggest supporters.
Nando: I'd like to thank our family, friends and fans for sticking by us throughout all the years. We promise you that you have not heard the last of Phil, UV, Curt, Nick and I. We will continue to bring you the brutality and madness that dwells within our minds. Thank you all.
Please share this article if you found it interesting.
- Previous Article:
Isole's "Throne Of Void" Audio Samples Available
- Next Article:
King's X Frontman Addresses Breakup Rumors
12 Comments on "A Lesson In Non-Violence: Nando From NYC Irate"
To minimize comment spam/abuse, you cannot post comments on articles over a month old. Please check the sidebar to the right or the related band pages for recent related news articles.