Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Posted by xCHIPxSEM |
As I stated before, Justin and I have been real busy so Andrew has been picking up the slack for us and conducting interviews with some of Southern California's finest. Today we bring you Billy Rubin of Half Off and Haywire fame

Double Cross
, Facebook, Myspace and the very successful recent Hardcore Reunion benefit show have brought you and alot of other members of '80s hardcore bands out of the woodwork. Being as how I've never seen your band Half Off and have always wanted to, is there any possibility of Half Off reuniting?

No. No chance. Jim Burke (Half Off's guitar player) died many years ago. Vadim (the drummer) doesn't play drums anymore.
Haywire is already planning to rehearse and record some material in June, but I don't think there will be a live show. We'll be using a surprise drummer and we will be recording some covers of a classic LA punk band.

Before fronting Half Off, you did a fanzine called THINK which was prominently featured in the Radio Silence hardcore book that came out last year. Tell us about it.

I was a 15 year old kid who had found a scene I felt enthusiastic about. I wanted to be a part of it and figured I could start a zine. I'd go to live shows with a tape recorder and interview bands. I was mainly interested in American hardcore, straight edge, and local bands. Anyone with a positive message. I printed most of the copies at Kinko's and collated and stapled them myself. I'd drive around to all the local stores that sold punk stuff and sell them on consignment there. The main places I sold them were Zed, Atomic Records on Main St (in HB), Camel Records, Toxic Shock, Off The Record and Lou's Records (in SD). I also sold many of them through stores in other states.

I've always been of the opinion that Half Off's cover of "No Pain No Gain" on The Truth LP is leaps and bounds better than DYS's original and in large part because of your vocals vs. Dave Smalley's. Did you hear that alot back in the Half Off days and what do you have to say about that?

Thanks, but I haven't heard that. I really have no talent as a singer, but Dave Smalley actually has a range. All that Half Off did was a hardcore version of a DYS song that probably went too far over the top in the metal craze.

After Half Off disbanded in the late '80s, you formed the band Haywire with Half Off members Vadim Rubin on drums and John Bruce on bass. Howe
ver, Half Off and Haywire were definitely two totally different kinds of bands. Discuss some of those differences.

Half Off was a bunch of kids learning to play their instruments and just wanting to thrash. Haywire had more direction and ability.
Is there any possibility of the Half Off and Haywire records being reissued on CD and/or iTunes?

There is always a possibility. I'd be open to the possibility but it would have to be done right and I don't even know what that means.

You co-ran a record label in the '80s called New Beginning Records which released the classic hardcore 7"s Join The Fight by Crippled Youth and
Underdog's self-titled first EP among others. Did you have any idea at the time that those two records would go on to become the VERY expensive collector's items that they've become?

No idea at all. In fact I co/ran the label at first. At the time, we were satisfied just to put out a record. That was huge. I knew Underdog was great, but I figured Crippled Youth was a novelty like the "Young and Useless" 7"

How did you become a contributor to the Radio Silence book?
I didn't. I heard about it from a friend and then bought a copy. I was so far removed from hc that I didn't think anyone remembered me, the bands I was in or THINK fanzine. Radio Silence was a complete surprise. It inspired me to stick my head back into things. I had no expectations, I just wanted to say hello to old friends and contribute in a positive way if it was possible.

You are currently a regular contributor to the Double Cross webzine. How would you personally compare doing a printed hardcopy zine like THINK to doing a webzine like Double Cross?

Double Cross is a much better format. The reach is obvious, but the ability for reader's to post is kind of like a hardcore show in itself. What I mean is...I write something, a person reads it and is inspired (positively or negatively) and they can post their opinions for the same audience to read. At an old punk show, a band plays...I can get on stage and for 5 seconds be in the spot light...Flip the band off, praise the band, etc. Then stage dive and be caught by the audience. There are no barriers to entry. The way it should be. The audience is equally important as the band. Or even better, the audience and the band are the same entity. No idols. No guru's. No heros. No experts. The hero's (or hero worship) are what ruined the hardcore of the 80's.

What are your thoughts on '90s and 2000s hardcore?

I'm aware that I'll sound like a dick by telling you I have no thoughts on 90's and current hardcore. I'll take your word that it exists. I'm glad that people still enjoy it and I am thrilled that people are creating it, but outside of Rancid I can't think of any.


D. Sine said...

Billy is a very good guy. Nice interview.

anjibee said...

Billy, you were never worried about sounding like a dick. Glad to see you haven't changed! :D

I say you should definitely get your shit up on iTunes, ya slacker.

I've got all that old vinyl but can't be bothered to digitize it. Would be nice to just download the tunes I want for my iPhone/iPod.

Billy Druid said...

I don't think he sounded like a dick. I thought he sounded honest and humble. Now when I was 17, and hit Billy up for fifty cents outside Fenders so I could get into the Descendants show, he was kind of a dick, and I was kind of embarrassed. But he still gave me fifty cents, and I don't think I ever panhandled again.

anjibee said...

Nice story, Billy D! Man, I spent a lot of time at Fenders in the day. They tore it down now, such a bummer.

Billy and I met up last year and got to talk about the old days. He reminded me that I had written him a letter when Shoot Guns Eat Pussy came out, telling him how offended I was and accusing him of being sexist etc. Ironically, it was his friendly response to that letter that lead to us becoming friends.


Anonymous said...

I would love to get half off's stuff on I tunes including demo's ..XXX