Steve Karp Talks Yuppicide Reunion And Anthology Release
Dead and buried for a decade, New York hardcore punk act Yuppicide has been resurrected to release a double CD anthology spanning the group's career from '88 - '98 and to bring their live music to today's hardcore fans. Guitarist Steve Karp took the time to chronicle the band's history and explain how they decided to reform, as well to give a glimpse of what might be on the horizon for Yuppicide's followers. Karp also discussed how the New York hardcore scene has changed over the years and what the band members have been doing during Yuppicide's time of slumber.
xFiruath: What’s your personal history in music? How long have you been involved in hardcore/punk/metal bands and what music influenced you as a musician?
Steve: I got into punk rock in 1985 or so. Before that I was a serious metal head, really into Iron Maiden and Judas Priest, but this kid played me Agent Orange and Black Flag and I knew I had found what I was looking for! Later on I got "Kill 'em All" and that solidified the punk/hardcore/metal thing for me. Just raw, agro stuff that most anyone could play.
xFiruath: Yuppicide was dead for quite awhile there. What prompted you guys to get back together?
Steve: Really it was the release of the anthology and the re-release of the 3 LP's, but it was a quirky series of events like getting asked to play the BackNBlue Bowl, and being asked to come out to the With Full Force festival. We knew there was no way we could put out the anthology and not do some local gigs and a small European tour to promote it. To be honest, we really missed each other too, and we missed playing music together.
xFiruath: What have the members been doing in the music world during the hiatus?
Steve: Taking a break mostly; nothing as committed as Yuppicide. Jesse had been involved in Blaze Camo back in 1995-96, when there was a brief Yuppicide break, and I was in FTE, a skate punk band from 1994 to 1998. More recently, Jess got back together with the guitar player from Blaze Camo and he did Mind Control Assassins, and then Joe dusted off his bass and he, Jesse, Jay and a friend named Andre started Freight Train To The Face, just before Yuppicide came back to life. I also played bass in 100 Demons for about 2 years or so.
xFiruath: What have you guys been doing as far as touring lately and what shows have you got coming up?
Steve: We're freshly back from a 16 day European tour, and we have the lungrot to prove it! That tour was insane. We had no idea that we'd get the great reception we ended up getting. We did some shows in the states that were great, but nothing to compare to the response we got in Europe. Coming up, we're playing in Shirley, LI 10/20 and then we're playing in New Jersey with the Bouncing Souls at the end of December. If you're reading this in Japan, get at me so we can play your country.
xFiruath: How would you guys describe the sound of Yuppicide? Having been listening to your music lately, it seems like you guys definitely have the energy of hardcore, but it seems to be a little more restrained than bands like Sick of it All or No Redeeming Social Value.
Steve: We all listened to so many bands, such a wide variety of stuff, and we were never afraid to do our own thing musically, lyrically, and in terms of our stage show and art. I mean, punk rock and hardcore to us were about artistic freedom and creativity, so we just did stuff that impressed us, and met our standards. As someone who wrote a lot of the music, I wasn't afraid to let the stuff I was impressed by come out: Naked Raygun, Dag Nasty, Grey Matter, Marginal man, Swiz. A lot of stuff besides the obvious New York bands we all knew and loved. There was also a ton of old 2-tone, and reggae, and rockabilly and Oi! I mean we all worship the Clash on some level. And I come from an old metal background. I mean I worshipped old Iron Maiden fully, so having a sense of melody and harmony in the music just came naturally. And from a lyrical standpoint, sure we wrote some point-blank, ham-fisted stuff early on, but later on we sort of found different voices and we started to put more craft in the lyrics, maybe be a bit less opaque. We described ourselves as “hardcorepunkmetal,” but nowadays I'd say we're just a rock-n-roll machine.
xFiruath: Yuppicide has a new double CD anthology. How did that come about and what’s on it that fans haven’t heard before?
Steve: Initially we were gonna do something small and low key with a friend of ours from Germany, but once people caught wind we were looking to do an anthology, we got approached by John at DeadCity who we had worked with on the old “Sick But Slick” comp, and he offered to put the double CD portion out, and Bader in Berlin was going to re-release the 3 LP's with new cover art, each one drawn by one of us. The thing was, we kept hearing from people that our stuff was long out of print, and people still wanted it for some reason, and that some of our original stuff was going for outrageous prices. So we decided to re-master everything we had, and put it all together in one package with lyrics and art and photos. I think people are gonna hear the 1988 demo for the first time, and the 1998 demo as well. Having stuff from obscure comps as well as the LP's and the demo all in one place just makes sense, and Jesse did a phenomenal job putting all the art and layouts together. A bootleg 12" had come out with some of the 1988 demo and the 1998 demo on it, and that got people talking about trying to get all our studio stuff in one neat package, seeing how long out-of-print our material was.
xFiruath: Will Yuppicide be releasing a new studio album anytime soon?
Steve: We don't know yet. We're just back from Europe, and we've been going full-bore with Yuppicide since April, plus trying to work our “real” jobs and maintain some kind of family lives, so we're taking a few days off. I think we as a band would need to talk about stuff and see where we're at before we give an answer to that. Hey, there was a time when we said we'd “never reunite,” so much for absolutes or ruling anything out!
xFiruath: The New York Hardcore scene is a beast all its own, with its own sub-culture and waves of change, and even getting specific homage from the Grand Theft Auto series. What’s your take on where the New York hardcore scene is at today and how do you feel about the bands coming out of it?
Steve: You gotta understand that we come from a generation of hardcore that thought that the “Age Of Quarrel” demo tape was the zenith of NYHC. I mean we came into this thing listening to Negative Approach and “Nervous Breakdown” era Black Flag, I mean real raw, 4 chord, 1 minute songs. When I heard “Victim In Pain,” I thought I'd died and gone to heaven. And when I heard "Life's Blood,” I was stoked because I thought those guys were picking up the Victim In Pain torch.
I gotta admit to being out of touch with where NYHC is at now and what it's grown into. The bands we saw at the BlackAndBlueBowl were unreal, phenomenal stuff, light years ahead of where we're at. I mean, like I said, we grew up on Motorhead and the Misfits, and we played With Full Force with kids with $4000 7-string guitars and crazy down-tuning and 17 changes in a song. Where the hell does a band like us fit into that kind of mix? NYHC seems to have grown into its own entity, developed its own mythology and branding and it's definitely moved far past dinosaurs like us who basically combine The Ramones with Black Sabbath. There's some folks now in the scene who are putting great shows together, treating the bands and venues right, and that's just great. They run a tight ship, and everybody gets a good deal: the fans, the bands, the clubs. It seems to be win/win, at least on that bigger level. Sure, there's still warehouse shows and divey little clubs galore with ripping bands no one's heard of also.
xFiruath: Having been involved in the music scene since back in the ‘90s, do you have any particular favorite/interesting/crazy show or recording memory you’d care to share?
Steve: the very first time we recorded was so nuts for us. We honestly did not know what the fuck we were doing, and I think the 1988 demo tape shows that. The people at the studio were used to garage punk and rockabilly and bluesy kind of bands, and here we come, into the hardcore trip! It was like they were speaking Greek and we were speaking Cantonese. But so many of the shows blur together now. I remember playing CB's in the mid 90's and seeing the club packed from front to back, and just a few years before that ('87-'88), I'd been in the audience at CB's, seeing Murphy's Law or Token Entry, wondering what it'd be like to be on stage and to see a packed house, with people going ape shit. And there we were, doing just that.
xFiruath: In your spare time, what music do you personally dig?
Steve: Huge doses of Black Sabbath, old Motorhead, Disfear, At The Gates, dub mixes from Jesse. I'll get on kicks where I'll need to listen to old, old stuff like Eddie and the Subtitles and the Middle Class, then I'll listen to tons of Bolt Thrower. I've been digging Deathklock a lot, all kinds of stuff. Some classic rock every now and then, tons of Misfits. I made it a point this year to try and get into the later Black Flag stuff, and found I could get into it much more than when I was a kid and saw them doing like “Slip It In” and wanting “Police Story.”
xFiruath: Anything else you’d like to discuss?
Steve: I'd like to thank everyone who has kept us in their hearts and who supported us and cajoled us to play again. John and Bader for getting the old crap back out to the masses, all the fine folks in Europe who came to the gigs, fine folks at MAD Tourbooking, awesome dudes at BlacknBlue Productions for believing in some old fossils, Don Fury for the ace re-mastering job, and I'd like to thank the guys in my band for being so rad. Jay for stepping up and learning a ton of stuff in such a short time, and my older brothers Joe and Jesse for being such a great part of my life. I'm truly blessed to be surrounded by so many amazing people.
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