Friday, February 20, 2009

Posted by xCHIPxSEM |
If you followed hardcore at all during the 90s, you have probably heard of Shane Durgee, the mover and shaker from Syracuse. He was in slew of bands including Oversight, Framework (which would later become Earth Crisis), Gatekeeper, Farthest Man, and Path of Resistance. He also released records on his label Reflection and roadied for Earth Crisis on occasion. Well I got an email from my friend xYosefx who had conducted an interview with Shane last year for a zine that never materialized and thought we'd like to post it. Thanks to xYosefx for doing the interview and allowing us to post it. Also, EMS from Coregasm posted the Oversight 7 inch which you can check out here

INTERVIEW WITH SHANE DURGEE

FEBRUARY/MARCH 2008
By: xYosefx
Yosef: How and when did you first get involved in hardcore/punk music and the straight edge scene? Can you remember the first record or tape you bought? What was your first hardcore/punk show?
S: It was around 85 or 86. I was listening to stuff like Iron Maiden and The Beastie Boys, bouncing between hip hop and metal. My brother was getting into skateboarding and he bought a Skate Rock tape from Thrasher Magazine. Besides the Ramones, I’d say that was the first punk stuff I ever heard. My brother hated it, I loved it.
A few years later some local skaters (one being Pete Speilman who eventually played bass in Gatekeeper and Beta Minus Mechanic) told us about a “punk” show going on at some rented out lounge. This was around 1989 and the bands were Underdog, Die Hard (with Dwid not Stork) and No Outlet. Chuck Treece was playing with Underdog at the time and someone told me it was McRad (also McShred from that very same tape my brother got from Thrasher magazine). I didn’t know these bands at all, but that was my entrance into the scene. It was DJ Rose’s show incidentally, I think the first show he put on. He was in a band called Earth Crisis back then that just did SSD covers and maybe like two original songs, but I never got a chance to see them before they disbanded around 1990. Karl played bass in that version of EC.
Sorry to be long winded about this, but it’s one of the best times of my life. Of course there were flyers for upcoming shows and people selling records and shirts. It was really exciting. I embraced it wholly, especially the NYC bands. I still listen to “Age of Quarrel” pretty regularly. It’s currently the only hardcore album in my mp3 player (though there’s a lot of post-hardcore on that: Quicksand, Hot Snakes…).
I hadn’t done drugs or drank alcohol up to that point. So when I discovered straight edge through Youth of Today, it was pretty natural for me to take up the X. That led to my investigation into animal rights through PETA literature people had at shows.
Keep in mind that I didn’t know anyone that was straight edge or vegan back then, though I knew of them. I was the only vegetarian I knew because I hadn’t really met DJ or Karl, just seen them around. I knew they wore Xs at shows. Eventually I started talking to them and moved in with DJ and Guav. That was the summer of 1991 and I was vegan and singing for a band called Oversight.

x: So was Oversight a vegan straight edge band? I’ve never been clear on that one. I’ve always loved that 7”, though. How long was Oversight around for? When did you start Framework, and how did that come about exactly?
S: Oversight had two vegan straight edgers: myself and Dave, the guitarist. All the members lived hours away from each other and musically we barely agreed. Meanwhile, I had met some guys in Syracuse that needed a frontman for their band. They knew about Oversight, but asked me anyway. Long story short, I dissed Oversight to sing for Framework.
Framework had the right style and politics. It was exactly the type of band I wanted to do.
So I guess Oversight lasted almost a year, and at one point I was in both bands before the inevitable disbanding of Oversight. This was around 1991 to 1992.
Yosef, I’m gonna go ahead and elaborate on what happened to Framework.
Ben who played with me in Framework wanted to do a Hardline side project and maybe send a demo to Sean Muttaqi [of Vegan Reich and Hardline Records fame]. The two of us played around with some songs using the Framework practice space in Scott’s parents’ basement. What came out of that was basically the “All Out War” 7” even though the project didn’t have a name and eventually I backed out of it to let Karl and Ben work on it while I focused on Framework.
Of course when Karl took the reigns and named the band (adopting the name of his old band) it was no longer a Hardline project. I doubt that Ben and I ever actually called ourselves Hardline anyway, at least not for any longer than the few weeks we were working on those songs. It was just something we were into because it jibed with how we felt about things at the time, especially with our frustration and anger towards an anthropocentric culture built on violence and cruelty.
Most people know or can guess how this all unfolded. Earth Crisis got really big really fast. Framework was suddenly the side project. When the “All Out War” 7” came out, Framework was pretty much finished and I was out a band.
x: Since you brought up Hardline, what exactly was the relationship of the early Syracuse straight edge scene to Hardline? I know that, for a while at least, Hardline was pretty big in Upstate NY. In some early interviews (in Shadows and Tall Trees fanzine, for instance) Karl talks about Earth Crisis wanting to sign to Hardline Records and says that the members of the band agree with Hardline completely. Was this due to a misunderstanding of what Hardline espoused (particularly around the issues of homosexuality and abortion) or was there genuine agreement? Where did you stand on Hardline, especially around those two rather controversial issues? I know that in Gatekeeper you were the only non-Hardline member, yet you still put the Hardline logo on the demo layout. Where do you stand on these issues today?
S: I’m actually surprised to see that Karl ever said that. My memory of the whole thing was that Ben and I were the only ones that actually proclaimed to be Hardline back then, and that was short lived. Other hardliners eventually moved to Syracuse, but I had thought Earth Crisis had shed the label pretty much in their infancy.
That said, I only know that for me I didn’t fully understand Hardline as a rigid set of laws. The homophobic thing really bugs me, although I had definitely ranted about it back then: “Sex is for procreation. Anything else goes against nature!” It honestly only took weeks for me to step back and listen to myself and realize I didn’t even feel that way about any of it. I was just posturing.
Any time I’m faced with a set of rules I’m instantly reluctant. I embraced punk as a rebellion against conformity.
Good bands though. Raid’s “Above the Law” is a fucking brutal record.
If anyone is curious, I’ve been vocally pro-choice since about 1993 when I actually took some time to give the matter some deserved thought, and I’ve never understood homophobia. It all looks like love to me.
Gatekeeper was run like a democracy. It wasn’t my band at all; Pete and Matt really started it, and I agreed to sing because they were my friends and our musical tastes and politics matched up pretty well (with some exceptions, but that seems natural). The Hardline logo didn’t bother me at all. It was just a cassette demo. I honestly didn’t imagine that very many people would be listening to it outside of the people that knew me.
x: Thanks for clearing all that up. I think to most outsiders, the 90s Syracuse vegan straight edge scene was viewed as a bastion of right wing, anti-gay pro-lifers. (I would definitely agree that Raid were an amazing band, though, warts and all.)
How long were Gatekeeper around for? Are the demo songs all you guys ever wrote, or were there more? I’ve always loved that demo, although I’ve never had an actual copy of it, just a shitty dub. Also, what was the deal with Focus Fanzine? How old were you when you started writing it? Some of it seems pretty embarrassing (probably more so to you at this point). I picked up a bunch of copies at one point and it’s frankly hilarious, what with all the 90210 references, the rants about girls, the threats of vegan straight edge justice, random scrawls of the word “penis” in the margins, etc. You were involved with Hate Zine as well, right?
S: Haha, Focus Fanzine…
Well first, Gatekeeper was around for less than a year. I can’t remember which year, but I’d guess around 1993 or 94. We played 2 or 3 shows. I wanna say that we had 6 original songs. I can’t remember anything about those other songs and I don’t have the demo anymore. Haha, I lost my copy in one of my long distance moves. Someone has it up on their blog and I’ve been meaning to download it somehow.
Focus Fanzine was sort of my Milo phase. I was the main character of every misogynistic Descendents song I ever knew (“I love you. Well, you’re a slut for not loving me back, I hope you die!”). That I was in my 20s and not 14 is what’s really embarrassing. Actually I was in high school when I started it, probably around 1990. The early issues are all boring hardcore propaganda. It was Johnny Ultraviolence’s zine, Crunchface, that changed how I approached Focus later on. Some of the writing in the later issues isn’t bad. There were a lot of inside jokes. A lot of the creepier stuff was half joking. Like I felt that way, knew it was creepy, but thought it was funny at the same time, especially when I targeted specific girls. Add the militant vegan/sxe stuff and oh, what a mess.
Again it comes back to not knowing I had an audience. After the third issue I stopped selling it at shows and just handed them out to my friends. A lot of times I would just leave a pile of zines at someone’s house and let them find their own way. That complete strangers would come across my writing didn’t even occur to me.
My bands were like that too. I just couldn’t imagine the audience outside of my close friends. I knew it was there, I got letters from straight edge kids in Belgium and Japan, but I didn’t really comprehend it, because the next town over there were hardcore kids that had never heard of any of my bands and didn’t care. So I did a lot of it for myself. I would have never guessed that some kids in Japan, 10 years later, would be asking me about Hate Zine.
Yeah, some of the shit in that zine was pretty ridiculous. I’m not surprised that you’ve had kids in Japan asking you about it; there’s a fairly large hardcore scene there that seems pretty obsessed with mid-90s vegan straight edge.
x: Getting back to Framework for a second, what’s the deal with the demo? Was that a different singer on there, or did your voice just suck at the time?
Also, can you tell me a bit about The Farthest Man? How did that band come about? What were your influences? Did you ever record anything other than the 2 tracks from the split with Eternal Youth and the two from the Syracuse Hardcore compilation?
S: That’s Ben singing on the demo. It was before they asked me to sing. I always liked his vocals.
The Farthest Man happened when Eric and Tony from Beta Minus Mechanic (later on to do Earth Crisis and Another Victim respectively) started tinkering with some heavier sounds. I definitely liked what they were doing and joined up. The other guys, Chuck and Brian, had been in some metal bands, and they were old friends of ours.
We recorded one other track, but it didn’t come out well and we never used it. I don’t have a copy of it, nor do I even remember the song at all. So I don’t think the world is missing out on anything there.
x: Did you play bass on the Path of Resistance “Who Dares Wins?” LP? You’re credited on there, but I’ve heard from some folks that you didn’t actually play on there. Did you ever play any shows with the Path?
S: Haha, I practiced with them but they were rushed into the studio and literally days before recording they told me they were gonna have Ian lay the bass tracks down. Somehow the cover for that album was being made before they even recorded so that’s how I got credited. I just tell people it’s me playing on there because the bass sounds really good on that record.
I don’t remember when they actually played their first show, but there were a few member changes by then, of course. I think I was living on the other side of the country and not edge, so obviously I wasn’t asked to participate.
x: What about Samsara? Was that just an earlier name for The Farthest Man, or a different band? Have you been involved in any musical projects since? Any writing projects? Did any of the bands you were in ever make any t-shirt designs? (Yes, I’m a nerd.)
S: You know, none of my bands ever made shirts with the exception of Oversight. I think it was Conquer the World that made them. I don’t think any of my musical projects lasted long enough for us to consider merchandise. A bootleg Gatekeeper shirt would be sweet though.
Samsara was an entirely different band that happened between Gatekeeper and Farthest Man. Ben Read actually started it with Mike Riccardi. Ben quit it and moved away before I even got involved. There were a lot of member changes before that got off the ground, and I think some incarnation of it exists today under another name. I got kicked out because they thought my singing vocals sucked.
I write music on my own now, but I’m pretty crappy at it. It’s like weird rock with a ton of effects on everything, recorded in my bedroom on this ancient 4 track.. There isn’t much tying it to my old stuff; it’s not hardcore and it’s pretty apolitical. I don’t know if you’re into Guided by Voices but it’s like their early stuff. I’m not doing anything with it, just giving CDRs to friends. You can listen to a couple songs on myspace at:
http://www. myspace. com/fleshemperorcrocodile
I’m currently writing a novel, working on some paintings and comics too, stuff I’ve always been into but kinda put to the side when I was involved in the hardcore scene. You can look at that stuff at shanedurgee. com
x: So where do you stand today on the ideas you espoused in the past? Are you still vegan, and straight edge? What importance do these ideas have in your life compared to when you were younger? Would you still consider yourself militantly in support of animal, earth and human liberation?
S: Well, I did want to say that although my newer musical endeavors seem less political I still write lyrics about things like extinction and war. I haven’t become the emo hippie a lot of past acquaintances think I have.
Straight edge remains important to me as an important bridge towards who I am today. I tried not to burn that bridge, but I had to escape the violent gang mentality that was surfacing in the late 90s and honestly, I didn’t want to be confined to rules anyway. I’ve always been kind of a loner, I still am. I love those guys as an extended family and they’ll always have my back. I’d kill and die for most of them, but not because of some creed, just because it’s where my heart takes me.
I strongly support militant actions towards animal, earth and human liberation. Beyond that I’m not really involved in that aspect of the movement. I volunteer at an animal shelter. I’m vegan. Little things, I know, but I’m not so sure what the long term gain is with those other actions. What needs to happen is a worldwide shift in how human animals view their place in the world. Vivisection labs getting fucked with doesn’t promote that shift, but it does makes me happy in the meantime.
I’m really into paganism lately, I just drifted towards it my whole life… one of the ways I broke edge was with psychedelics. (At least it wasn’t something weak like beer or a joint). I think the death of religion and a rise in nature worship is gonna be the start of the new paradigm shift. I think it’s the only the way our species will survive.
x: Glad to hear you’re not an emo hippie. I think the violent, macho tendencies in large parts of the straight edge scene have alienated a lot of the more intelligent folks involved over the years, unfortunately. You wouldn’t be the first, and sadly probably not the last either.
Thanks a lot for answering these questions.

15 comments:

Buske said...

Shane, your memory just baffled me - haha.

Framework played the first Path show at Hungry Charlie's in '97. Pretty sure you were still living in Syracuse, or Cicero or wherever you were spawned, pretty sure you were still "of the edge" and also pretty sure you played that show in a sweater. Correct me if I'm wrong, but there is documented proof of at least 1 of these assumptions.

http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=30107179&id=1166253159
http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=30107180&id=1166253159

Upon consulting with Anderson, it has also been brought to my attention that he takes partial credit in the Framework reunion on that Path show. A jovial evening at Zopie's with Bulldog and Scott discussing Righteous Killers playing that show apparently evolved into Framework thus being discussed to play. 2 days later, Framework was jamming.

Line-up at the time was Steve D'Angelo on guitar, Mushaka on guitar, Pete on bass and The Bene on drums.

Guav said...

I guess all those psychedelics have wreaked havoc on Durgee's memory haha ... beer might have left his brain cells in better condition :)

David Agranoff said...

I have a scan of an amazing 1991/92 Framework interview. Super militant.
I shouldsend that on to chip and Justin.

Patrick W said...

As cheesy as some of the writing in Focus fanzine was, it was reassuring to know that there was at least one other emotional cripple freaking out over girls out there.

Also, sending pink slips to members of certain members of bands,and "firing" them from hardcore...A++++
I could raze an entire forest with the amount I'd send out if that was my thing, holy christ.

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mikectw said...

I love this blog.

When I was out in Syracuse Ben Reed was also playing in Oversight.

Some of those early shows I saw of ExC nothing beat Ben jumping and just landing straight on his knees didn't it hurt? Oh yeah I think he wore knee pads haha.

Roland said...

This is Shane. Just had a chance to read the comments.

You're right, Buske. Framework was so good I forgot that any other bands played with us that day. I don't remember what I was wearing but I guess I had a mustache because I remember Amy Theel making fun of me. Of course I remember that, but not Path. B12 deficiency not acid.

So that's true. I was living in Cicero at the time and still edge. I guess they just didn't want me to play bass? haha

Straight From The Inside said...

http://coregasm.blogspot.com/2008/12/oversight-after-this-day-7-counterpunch.html

Paul J. Comeau said...

Any idea who designed that Path flyer or where the picture on it came from? I'd like to use the flyer as part of an article.

Guav said...

John McKaig designed the show flyer and probably took the photo as well.

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wronghole2k4 said...

thanks for remembering the framework reunion, shane. the idea was that we all knew so many people were travelling to see that show and that most people outside of syracuse had never seen framework play and that there was still an interest in the band. when exc started to take off in the spring of 1993, shane had actually approached me about being part of a new framework line up. i cant remember who else was going to play in it, maybe mike ricardi on drums. the framework reunion lineup was basically Beta Minus Mechanic, since steve had played guitar in its earlier form, Cross Section. we didnt have alot of time to practice so it made sense to have guys play in it that were used to playing together. steve and i got into a fight at one practice that almost kept the whole thing from happening. to address the hardline.gatekeeper deal: we all were except for shane but we were all such big fans of framework, shane and i were very close friends and we all shared very similar militant views. we were all fed up with people dancing around subjects, afraid to piss off the pc, left-leaning hippie types. we wanted to talk about things besides the typical vegan sxe lyric material hence the song "filth" about the sexualization of our youth leading to increased pedophilia. some of the later songs we wrote and played live also dealt with homelessness. there is a quote from the lyrics i wrote scrawled in the margins of an issue of focus fanzine but i dont remember which issue. for the record, gatekeeper continued after matt moved back to little rock. we replaced him with corey ryan from infusion and blood runs black. he lived across the street from ian and erick edwards parents. we added kris as a second guitarist and after he was pressured to quit because of exc's growing popularity, we got steve diangelo to play second guitar. this line up played our only out of town show in ct at the tune inn with exc. shane wore an awesome elfquest shirt at that show and exc did a cover of "true till death" which they played again the next day at the annual new years show in syracuse. the promoter put us all up in her parents UNHEATED summer home. it was late december on the water in ct. it was a pretty miserable night.

Guav said...

I loved Elfquest. Just sayin ...

sky.flying.by said...

only a few years late to this, just came across this when i found an oversight song on youtube, so i thought i'd do some googling.

i was the guitarist in oversight (david) and found this a pretty interesting interview. one thing, shane: i never really considered you leaving oversight as a "dis." it just was what it was. i always thought framework was a better band at the time. my only thing was i would have loved to record some of the last songs we came up with, but again. not meant to be.

so yeah, i never thought it was a dis to break up the band. honestly i don't think we made much else going, so ultimately it was a good thing.

Anonymous said...

Hey!! It's me Casey!! I miss you guys. We had a lot of fun back then. I was 15 and playing a show out of state with you guys! Shane remember the bridge in CN? Anyways.. I'd love to jam someday again. I still have a kit and make music too. Hit me up sometime. You too Dave. I bought my parents house in NY and live there now. Have a good one.