Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Posted by xCHIPxSEM |
Andrew Jacobs, the king of kings, brings us an interview with Isaac Golub of Chorus of Disapproval and A18 (Amendment 18). I dont know how he gets these done so quickly, but hes really helping us out significantly. So big thanks to him for helping us out and for Isaac for doing the interview.

Your band
A Chorus of Disapproval recently reunited to play the very successful first Hardcore Reunion benefit show at Chain Reaction in Anaheim, California on 3/22/09 along with No For An Answer, a surprise performance by Carry Nation, Headfirst, Blackspot and ICE. How did Chorus become involved with playing this show?

Hartsfield mentioned there was going to be a local 'reunion show' that he was trying to get Outspoken on, that peaked my interest. Some of those dudes ended up not being interested in the show for whatever reason, and that was the last I heard of it for awhile. Then I went with Hartsfield to Ryan Langley's birthday party at Memphis in Costa Mesa, and I heard Dan O' talking to Mike about it and chimed in, "We will play if you are interested." Not that we were ever that popular but I just wanted to play since it was for a good cause, I would never be interested if it were a GB-YOT-GIVE US YOUR MONEY-TYPE-REUNION.

Did you expect there to be such a big and enthusiastic crowd (particularly for Chorus) at this show? Why or why not?

I knew we would shred, I'm not flexing ego right now but I just knew we would be solid and still pissed as hell. It's not hard to tell who's gone soft and who hasn't. We have always been able to make the crowd bounce, it's an energy exchange thing. I think we have a special place in a lot of people's hearts and for that I am forever grateful for the support.

A number of people (including you and Hardcore Reunion coordinator Mike Hartsfield) brought their very young children to the show. Were you at all worried or concerned for their safety as well as them being exposed to the rampant profanity that accompanies most hardcore shows?

I'm pretty sure Mike's daughter was gone after Ice so I don’t think that counts completely, but as for the other kids in attendance it's naive to think that children don't hear profanity everyday. If they say they don’t curse they are probably not being completely honest, and if they don’t they for sure have friends that do. As for their safety? I was not worried. My 12 year old was up front dishing out some serious dance floor justice!

You turn 40 this year and are still pretty involved in the hardcore scene. What is it about hardcore that has kept you involved in it for over 20 years?

I love it. I love what it used to stand for, I love what was and could have been. I loved giving and giving and giving with receiving little or nothing in return. It sounds sarcastic and bitter, I know, but it's not. It's a form of charity that is fun.

Chorus was one of a handful of bands who spearheaded the militant straight edge hardcore movement in the early '90s, a movement which continues to this day and has become more and more extreme over the years. What are your thoughts on this?

Well I never in a million years would have thought that when I coined the phrase 'The Militant Edge' it would have been taken for more than what it was, a personal statement. So you can imagine my surprise when the Earth Crisis' and other militant bands of the world became huge and kids were stabbing one another and blowing shit up. I was in certain terms ashamed for ever opening my big mouth. "I" was angry at society, "I" was angry at certain parental/peer lifestyle choices, "I" was angry at dead kids from my high school that drove drunk and quite frankly got what they deserved. Have I beat up drunks? Yes. Have I been confrontational to the point of violence? Yes. That was a long time ago, seems like a 100 years. Now I'm just not angry anymore, I'm pissed just not angry (if that makes sense). Will I still beat up a drunk? Yes, in a necessary situation. I will always be an asshole and confrontational, that's never going to change. It's just a matter of how or where I feel the need to direct it.

What are some of your favorite Chorus songs and why?

My favorite song is Downslide because to me other than many A.18 songs it is lyrically one of the best written songs I have ever penned. It's haunting and metaphorically dark. I wrote it during a transitional phase in my life when things were very stormy, thus the weather-ish theme. I also love Leave You Behind because I wrote that song at the age of 14 (1984) just before I entered high school and within weeks of my father's death of a heroin overdose. My mother happened upon it on my desk one summer afternoon and asked, "did you write this?" I timidly replied in the affirmative. She simply said, "Um, wow. That is really good. You are wise beyond your years."

You formed Amendment Eighteen (A.18) in the late '90s. In what ways did A18 and Chorus differ?

A.18 at their peak were better and were very, very busy. We had a goal beyond glory or hype. In my opinion, A.18 was the most under-appreciated band in the United States. A.18 is a band I can listen to and completely separate myself from and forget my best friend is the guitar player. Whenever I hear Dear Furious, I think "Fuck these guys are really good!" And then I feel like a total tool for jamming my own band as loud as possible in my car.

What are some of your favorite A.18 songs and why?

Dear Furious, Stab You Through The Everything, Broke The Blue, Jailhouse Rob, Public Apology and Gravelines. I can't pick each of them apart, it would take forever because I can be so long winded. But I will say some of those songs were written in the 11th hour so to speak before recording. The frustration and stress of writing them well within a short period of time before recording made for some very good lyrics I think. I write metaphorically and sometimes with 'coded messages in slowed down songs' but that's how I do, I will not dumb down my lyrics for the sake of record sales. Fuck that.

You've toured the U.S. and overseas pretty extensively in both Chorus and A.18. Do you have any funny or interesting stories from the road that you'd like to share?

I had a Hare Krishna stalker in Berlin one time when The Chorus went. I talked to him a little at the show, and the next day he was at my hotel room with beads, literature, and ‘special’ donuts. It was creepy. I drew Frenchy Pierre type mustaches on all Lou from Sick of it All’s tour poster’s in Europe. They were 2 days behind us on that tour so I know he saw them. I’m gonna get beat down now. We broke a kid’s mom’s washer who was letting us stay at his house, then yelled at him that his mom’s shit sucked, then made him go door to door to his neighbors to find us a new washer to use. I broke into a locked refrigerator at a club and robbed them of all their chocolate milks after the promoter screwed us over. The old Rev van broke down in Iowa in the middle of nowhere and as soon as we open the van door, 7000 flies cruised in and owned the place. We played in a castle, a kindergarten room, an abandoned supermarket parking lot, an empty pool, plenty of garages, a ‘record store’ that only sold used cassettes, some place where Led Zeppelin, Janis Joplin, Hendrix, and The Doors played that was very much haunted, a basement at a steak restaurant, a junkyard. Sounds like we were dicks, and maybe we were sometimes but it’s boring to say, “We just wanted to play wherever and whenever, sell some merch and get our message out.” I think we did much more good than bad and I’m proud as fuck to have participated in those bands and regret nothing.

You've done a few side bands here and there. Discuss those.

What’s to tell really? I did a hip hop thing called Cointelpro in the vein of Rage Against The Machine or Spearhead, but better, with some guys from San Diego. We played with bands like Deftones, Sugar Ray, and the like. Two demos and almost a 3 record deal with Sony. I did Caste with Jason Hampton, Regis and PT. I think we were supposed to do an LP with Indecision but that didn’t happen. Here’s the thing with side bands I have done - I was really the only one serious because I wanted to play music as a career. I didn’t care about fame so much but I wanted to be a traveling salesman with music and a message.

As a writer, who or what are some of your primary influences and why?

I am the son of a hippy so you must understand, a lot of 60’s and 70’s writers turned my gears at an early age and stick with me today. There is no art in music anymore, the soul has been sucked dry. Lennon/McCartney, Jagger/Richards, Roger Waters, Harry Nilsson, Otis Redding, and Joni Mitchell are some. Try to hold back your tears on Joni Mitchell’s ’Case of You’ and you will be hard pressed to keep from pouring over. Morrissey/Marr, O’Shea Jackson and Eric Wright are some prolific writers. Anything I think might make me want to fight, fuck, smoke a fool, cry like a baby or miss my loved ones are songs I can get with.

Feel free to shamelessly plug any of your current musical and/or non-musical endeavors that you feel like plugging here.

I have a serious solo hip hop thing in the works with some label interest on word of mouth alone and I’m doing an industrial goth thing that sorta sounds like The Clash of The Titans meets the Camelot soundtrack. Also, I am doing a new hardcore band with some… let’s say big name hardcore guys called Grasping At Straws, our LP will be called either Give It Up, It’s Just Sad Now. Or, Don’t You Think Your Plate Is Full Enough Already? That band will not do a Myspace or Facebook, so don’t bother looking. It will be a real band, not a over glorified excuse for one.


David Agranoff said...

Really considering the bands this guy was in a question about selling out straight edge is appropriate. I mean he lasted so then quit it confused alot of people.

I probably would have disagreed with the answer but at least think it should have been touched upon. It's like the elephant in the room that no one is talking about.

Anonymous said...

Hi David,

Thank you for your comment. I actually considered asking Isaac about that but decided not to for both personal reasons (he's been a very good friend to both my brother and to me for close to 20 years and has done alot for my family during some very rough times in our life as well) and because I just plain didn't want to get into a big discussion with him about straight edge as I feel that like religion and politics, it is an intensely personal matter and it should be discussed privately, not on a public webzine.


Isaac Golub said...

Jake, thank you for your kind words and acknowledgment. I really appreciate it.


No, I am not straightedge anymore. Do you want know my personal deep seeded pain that goes far beyond music, straightedge, and hardcore in general? If you don't REALLY care then shut the fuck up about it. If you have a general concern feel free to ask,I'm not hiding. But you wont will you? You wont come to my aid in my time of need will you? You just want to know is he, or isn't he? You have your answer, but let me say this: I was straightedge from birth for 38.5 years. I didn't just one day wake up and kick my edge out of a 5 story window, but I almost threw my entire body out. So you can assume something traumatic happened to me that caused such a change. I reached out to friends, family, and even co-workers but for some reason they could not be bothered. Anyway... I would not change that pivotal moment in my life because I would rather be labeled a sellout after all I did for 'our' scene then leave this world worst than I found it, and orphan my son. I'm better now and and a better father now than ever... Thanks for asking. 'The Elephant' will now leave the room, stage left.

xgabex said...

i love xChorusx and i respect anyone's choice to 'sell out' or change their lifestyle. i just find it more confusing how people can go so many years being edge, and one day decide to not be edge. i figure, i've been edge 11 years, and no matter what problems, emotionally, i go through, i can't sit and think "i wanna be a different person" or "i need a drink/smoke" in hopes of making my life better or easier.

D said...

Nice interview, and fair play for the frank response regarding the edge question there. Most people are only straight for a short time in their life, Isssac stayed with it for close to 4 decades, thats fucking dedication. I can see why there would be some curiosity as to the 'why' but really, after all that time it was obviously not a decision made lightly.

P.S. A18 were an awesome band, almost saw them in cali in 1999, but then caught them in England in 2003.

Larvik said...

With all respect to Isaac, I am with Dave Agranoff on this one. And I don't think Dave meant any disrespect either. It just seems like an obvious topic to me. Whether it's Isaac, or Matt BOLD, or Dan O,etc...these were singers of bands that were very outspoken sxe bands. For them to resurface and not be asked about sxe is about as best an example of the whole "elephant in the room" thing that I can think of.

Anonymous said...

Good point, david. However, in Isaac's and Dan O's cases, they resurfaced in order to help raise money for a man who is currently stricken with a rare form of cancer that his medical insurance will not cover. Neither Isaac nor Dan made one cent from playing that show. In fact, they and their bandmates SPENT money out of their own pockets to get their respective bands up to snuff. This included renting practice spaces and a PA, food, water, guitar/bass strings, drum heads, etc.

Anonymous said...

Yeah but if these guys are doing interviews then why would it not be fair game to ask them about something that was a HUGE part of their band? Its very cool that these guys did a show for a good cause, but I see that as a totally separate issue. Not asking Isaac from Chorus about sxe is like not asking Crass about politics. It was all well and good for these bands to preach sxe for years, but now that they have changed their views we pretend they never existed? Sorry but that is absurd. And to use the excuse that it is personal is quite rich considering how outspoken Isaac,Dan,Matt,Mike Judge,et al were when they were sxe.

xgabex said...

^^^ such a good point ^^^. even if it was just a thing where he just didn't want the label anymore. i mean, i assume as you get older the whole title/label thing just becomes something of the past. maybe not for all but i assume, for most.

Anonymous said...

All my heroes are dead (and a both a bit defensive and a jock at fort lauderdale).

Anonymous said...

I read the word 'resurfaced' a few times here and that's interesting considering Isaac beat the road and the mic to death for almost 9 years to empty clubs, garages, parking lots, and the like. As far as I know he never asked for a pat on the back and still doesn't, maybe just a little respect. I'll bet dollars to donuts he never give 2 shits or a fuck about what anyone thought of him then, or more importantly now. Maybe he is too punk for his own good, maybe to some he is a sellout scum bag. Either way you know all his shit by heart like your ABC's and 123's. And just as some of my 'heroes' 'sold out' and may have let me down momentarily, they still have a home in my heart.

Call him whatever you want in a blog post, it's easy but fruitless like writing love letters to a girl who will never really be into you.

Isaac is an asshole and he is the first to admit it, but he is a stand up guy and would give you the shirt off his back if you needed it. I should know, he gave me help and inspired me immensely.

I will never consider Isaac a guest in the house I feel he helped build.

Jose said...

I thank Issac for the music he's made and the bands he's been in.
I saw The XchorusX with Undertow in the early 90's and was blown away by their intensity and ferocious live act. Nothing can change the memories of that night at Spanky's. That being said, hardcore is music that's centered around ideas and passion and to not discuss selling out straight edge is to well, to not be hardcore. I don't think the discussion of straight edge should be off the table.
He sang for the chorus of disapproval, not the murder junkies!
Their songs, their focus, their entire drive WAS straight edge.
When you put yourself on a stage, and expect people to listen, it's picking and choosing to not discuss this issue.

Look, Issac - man to man - you don't have to defend your actions to anyone. We are all (for the most parts) adults. I feel for you as a human being and as a father as well, something horrible must have happened in order to bring you to the point you went to...but I think these discussions help the youth.

Let's talk about these things!
Straight Edge to me is a lifetime commitment, it's a safety barrier, that no matter how low things go, I'm not going to engage in self destruction.
You know, about 14 years ago I had as traumatic as experience as I could, a loved one was jailed, my girlfriend left me, and a friend lost his life after a battle with drugs. I became numb, I had a difficult emotional and spiritual time, but I vowed to not take it out on myself.
I'm not comparing my situation to yours, just adding to the discussion and hoping some kid reading this will know that there are men who still take part in straight edge and take it seriously. To me, my sobriety and self preservation go far beyond just not drinking or doing drugs, it means holding myself to a certain standard and holding myself to it.
I hope we can all learn from this interview and come away from it.
I don't think Agranoff was going into this from a pointing fingers point of view, but as a fellow drug free adult saying "hey, what about....?"
The elephant in the room, must be discussed and hopefully -With respect,


Anonymous said...

I just wanted to quickly add that there's absolutely nothing wrong with being an asshole. In my opinion, it's the ONLY way to get anything meaningful accomplished in life. "It's better to be feared than loved" and all that.

Anonymous said...

First, let me thank Count Agranoff for taking off his pointy wizard hat and putting down his 20 sided die long enough to get people riled up.

I love xCHORUSx. I used to have personalized plates that said XLOYALX in tribute to one of their songs.

So to read an interview by Isaac is great. It was well done and covered some interesting topics.

However - it did not cover the MOST important topic- Isaac and Straight Edge. Chorus was not some musically groundbreaking band like Bad Brains or Integrity. They were a good hardcore band. What set them apart was their stance on the Edge. And that equates to Isaac's stance on the Edge. So to not discuss that is completely ludicrous. It is like some news anchor being granted a one hour exclusive with President Obama and NOT talking about the economy. It is just unfathomable.

And, with all due respect, to say "...I just plain didn't want to get into a big discussion with him about straight edge as I feel that like religion and politics, it is an intensely personal matter and it should be discussed privately, not on a public webzine." is a cop out. Those are EXACTLY the topics we need to be discussing in a public way. How else can we have meaningful, constuctive dialogs?

When you are interviewing, in my mind, a Straight Edge Icon, you have to talk about Straight Edge. If you don't, why waste your time?

Does it personally effect me that Isaac is no longer Edge? No. He has to walk his own path and live the life he needs to live to take care of himself and his family. Do I think any sort of self-medication helps in the sort of situation the Isaac alludes to? Hell no - but I was not walking in his shoes. Does it bum me out when someone with that many years walks away from the Edge, due to tragic events or not? Of course it does. I love the Edge and I hate seeing someone that far into the game say goodbye to something I hold so dear.

Is it a travesty that no one close to him was there when he needed them? Hell yeah. We need to take care of those we love or when you turn around, they are gone.

One other thing - I dont care what anyone says. There is no "straight edge from birth". You can not be Straight Edge by default. It is a conscious decision you have to make. Jose's son LJ at a year old is NOT straight edge even though he wears camo and Maiden shirts. When I was six I was not X'ing up -I was having Han and Chewie rescue Leia from the tree in my backyard.

Luckily, not all of my heroes are dead.

Much Love.
Big Bob

"you say Straight Edge is just a passing phase, I say no sellout still loyal to the grave"

Isaac Golub said...


Thank you for all your opinions and views, it's healthy and viable, and I in no way take offense to any questions or criticism. Obviously I care about what hardcore is and was or I would not play shows, go to shows, or do interviews. I will be frank in this next statement; With all the supposed interest in The Chorus now or then I have been asked to do less than 10 interviews in it's entire 18 year existence. Why all the questions now? Why all the interest now? I only did 1 interview in A.18 where they asked about The Chorus or straightedge. Why all the dialog now? Did you know there were 3 other guys in the Chorus too that had just as much say in it's statements and views as me? Did you know I was not the sole lyricist in that band?

Look....I respect the straightedge and what it stands for. So I know that that important title in my life is gone regardless if my 'selling out' was for a moment, a week, or only if combined a total 11 hours against a 27.5 year ratio of being edge (revised time for Big Bob). I'm not going to pull a move where I was edge, took a California edge vacation, found Krishna, come back east all smiles and try to play nice nice, and start selling edge gear on the myspace or whatever.

Straightedge has always been a personal decision upon it's entry or upon it's exit. I would never denounce the things I wrote musically, but everyone has that 'if I only knew then what I know now' feelings. Maybe I would have educated myself on addiction a bit more, maybe I would have studied on genetics, maybe I would have not let my father's death control my hatred for 18 years. Or maybe I would have turned out more angry at life than I am now. But it is NOW isn't it and I am pushing past labels, stereotypes, guilt, and undereducated youthful opinions.

I want to thank everyone here who has formed an opinion and cared enough to even ask why. I never entered lightly into this interview because I knew this subject would come up, and maybe someone someday will actually ask me point blank in an interview or otherwise about my personal problems, or decisions I have made regarding The Straightedge.

It's weird that only now after all this time that feel like I made a difference and mattered. I am actually touched knowing people even cared then because I had no idea.

Thanks again, Isaac.

Anonymous said...

Last I checked, Isaac was the singer and frontman for a few prominent hardcore bands, not the President of the United States of America (or even a candidate for Vice President for that matter), so to say that not asking Isaac about straight edge is akin to not asking President Obama about the economy is just plain ludicrous. Furthermore, I disagree vehemently that there should be a dialog about the edge on a public webzine dedicated to ‘90s hardcore, not just ‘90s straight edge hardcore (despite the two x’s in the webzine’s name).

For all of you who are interested in discussing straight edge with Isaac, I would HIGHLY recommend that you shoot him an email on the matter. Not only will he respond to you very quickly but he will respond in great detail as well.

On a lighter note, thank you to everyone for taking the time out of your busy lives to both read the interview and post a comment on it.

Respectfully Yours,

Andrew Jacobs

xgabex said...

people still ask Ian about edge.... so yeaaaaah... just saying.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of Ian, here's the guy who coined the friggin' term 'straight edge' and he's all but disowned it at this point.... so yeaaaaah... just saying.

ROA. said...

"...regardless if my 'selling out' was for a moment, a week, or only if combined a total 11 hours against a 27.5 year ratio of being edge."

You still have the edge in my book. You are in control for 99.99999999% of your life? Yeah, you still have it.

You have always been a nice person and positive toward me.


Unknown said...

i just like the fact that, edge or not, he still respects it enough to call it by it's proper name, "The Straightedge"

also, downslide plays, you're moshing, simple as that.

Pedro Carvalho said...

Judging Isaac, or anyone, as a person for not being straightedge anymore (and I don't even know if he is or not) is completely idiotic. The "lifetime commitment" is with yourself only, and if you break it, you're breaking a commitment to yourself. More accurately, a commitment to who you were when you made it.

That said, treating straightedge as a taboo topic on a XCHORUSX interview makes absolutely no sense. It's like not being able to ask a former president about politics because he's out of office.
I'm not saying you have to ask him about that or whatever, but this thing about straightedge not being supposed to be discussed in a zine is weird because if everybody thought like that in the 80's and 90's most people wouldn't know anything about straightedge in the first place.
What's next, a Vegan Reich interview that won't touch on hardline and veganism?

Anonymous said...

If xStuck In The Pastx was a '90s straight edge hardcore webzine, I would've asked Isaac more questions (or questions PERIOD) regarding straight edge. However, that doesn't appear to be the case. Maybe I'm wrong on this but to me, "90s hardcore webzine" includes both 90s straight edge AND non-straight edge hardcore, which means that many of the regulars here don't care all that much about straight edge and are primarily interested in the things that I did ask Isaac about.

Another point I'd like to make is that if I was going to discuss straight edge with Isaac or someone like him in an interview, I'd MUCH prefer to do it in person as opposed to via email. In my opinion, not only is straight edge a very personal and private matter, it's also a highly passionate and emotional one (particularly for Isaac) and I personally don't think that discussing something like that works well within the email interview format.

Anonymous said...

So Isaac and I have had our shit over the years. Good and bad and really bad. True he is an asshole(like when he call me out on stage...yeah i heard that) But I'm an asshole. We are all assholes in some right. For anyone to judge him on his EDGE or non EDGE is shitty. No one on this board can say that they are gonna be edge forever. No one can predict the future. I have been edge for 17 years and PLAN on the rest of my life, but shit happens and who know what can come next. Isaac did what he did and he has to live with that.

They interviewed him on being in a few hardcore bands that made a pretty big imprint. Weather it was about being edge or not. It doesn't really matter. I grew up, like others that have posted, looking up to these guys. They probably made me more edge in some ways. If they believe now or not is irrelevant. Cause what we got from them THEN is what matters. 90% of old hardcore bands don't live by what they preach forever. That doesn't stop us from listening or singing along when they come out for a good cause or just for fun.

I was in A18 at the beginning. When we were hanging out they were talking about real life shit. I was 19, stoked about being in a band with these hardcore legends, and they were talking about child support and ex-wives, careers and mortgages. These dudes are older and have a lot in there lives. I know that now that I am as old as they were then, and I can appreciate the fact that they were and are still active in the core.

Lets see where you guys are at forty. Then you can talk shit.


Also it looks like Mike is wearing a camo skirt in the A18 promo pic. Ha

Anonymous said...

That's bullshit. None of you have a point. Save Your Breath.

Anonymous said...

thats me in the live shot. red flannel. hell ya.