The Cro-Mags are and always will be one of the greatest hardcore bands to ever exist. They have played a tons of shows throughout there history and have released the greatest album 'Age of Quarell' in the history of hardcore punk. This album set the stage for metal, scremo and many great New York hardcore bands and scenes. I got the band founder Parris to tell their story...
My name is Parris Mayhew guitarist, principal songwriter and founding member of the Cro-Mags.
How did the band start?
One day when I was 16 I wanted to start a band. I made posters that said "guitarist wanted" I was playing bass at the time. I was walking on Ave A towards RAT CAGE records store at 171 Ave A to put up my poster when I ran into my friend Paul Dordal who was with Harley Flanagan. Harley read the sign and said to Paul "why don't you play with him?" Paul shunned the idea and said "Parris plays like RUSH and I'm not good enough to play whith him." Harley said "let's see how good he is." We walked over to his Aunt Denise's apt a few blocks away and plugged in a bass. I picked it up and played the riffs for WORLD PEACE 9a title Paul came up with). Harley, Paul and Denise sat silent while I played it. When I was done Denise turned to Harley and said "Where did you find this kid? This is gonna be a band Harley." Harley and I began writing songs right away. That was the foundation of the cro-Mags and the real substance of the band, the songwriting partnership between myself and Harley.
How did you come up with the name?
The name Cro-Mags was made up by a roadie for BLACK FLAG. He told Harley his idea and he took it. With permission or not I don't know. Harley always claimed he made it up but Harley is a pathologiacal liar and is known for stealing people's ideas, music and marijuana.
Who would you say are your influences?
MOTORHEAD, LED ZEPPELIN, SEX PISTOLS, AEROSMITH, RUSH, ALICE IN CHAINS, DEAD BOYS, primarially.
What was punk scene like in New York in the '80s?
It was so amazing. It was happening and changing on a daily basis. We made it up as we went along. There was no blue print. No uniforms yet. No doctrine to follow. It was just us adding what we liked and creating a music that never existed before and watched the world follow us. It was a creative ghetto renaisance. I was very aware of what was happening at the time and payed close attention to the phenomenon.
How do you feel it has changed?
It no longer exists. It was a local community of artists. Now its so far removed and watered down. Hardcore ran its course. It's over and something else has taken it's place. The hardcore scene was the bands from that era. Cro-Mags, Bad Brains, Crumbsuckers, Agnostic Front, Misfits. Those bands are gone and there are no bands of this nature now.
Describe the song writing process...
I write music first. I play chords and notes until something pleases me. I play it over and over until I find a place to go. Its about discovery. Especially back then because I was new to musoic and discovery was daily. I never tried to learn other peoples songs so I had to write something to be able to play. That made me excell quickly because my only experience was playing with a band. We all learned from eachother early and Harley and I developed together musically. That's why we were so in tune with eachother.
Then John Eric or Harley would write lyrics. Eric Casanova our first singer wrote the lyrics to HARD TIMES, STREET JUSTICE, LIFE OF MY OWN. Harley wrote WORLD PEACE and John Wrote WE GOTTA KNOW, MALFUNCTION, SEEKERS and FACE THE FACTS.
Your first release was a 13 song demo, tell us about the demo...
It was a good time for us musically. John had just joined the band and we were on fire. It was great except for Mackie. He was a pain in the ass. He actually showed up to the recording session without his drums. I said "where are your drums?" He said "you didn't arrange transportation so I left them home." That was typical of his bullshit. But it turned out to be a blessing because Mackie has what he called his "trademark snare sound" which was this high pitched picalo style sound which sucked for rock. The snare that was at the studio was deep and great for rock so he got his best sound ever on tape by accident. Asshole.
We recorded the whole thing in one night. Then I had to go out of town and Harley mixed it. When I got home I heard the BASS heavy mix. It was all BASS. Typical of Harley, it's always about him. So I remixed it and that mix is what came out. We printed one thousand tapes and the re released it in 2000 on CD.
You guys then released the 'Age of Quarrel' album, tell us about the album...
Besides WE GOTTA KNOW and STREET JUSTICE I hate that recording. John's voice was shitty because he had a cold and also he wasn't taking direction like he did on the demo and the vocals were weak. Harley's bass sound was weak and the background vocals were weak. The sound was just not great. But it is what it is. Mackie's playing on that was a nightmare. We had to do endless takes just to get one without major mistakes by Mackie. Sucked.
How do you feel 'Best Wishes' differed?
Better drummer. Better sound. Better singer. More refined songwriting. Lyrics by DOUG CROSBY. Just a better rewcord all around. Harley's vocals could have been better produced. There are a few clunkers on it but over all much better than John. Not a dis to John. John is a special guy but I Harley is simply a special musician. Very gifted.
Why did the band originally split up?
Vanity, egomania, bad breath. Harley is an asshole. John was an asshole. Mackie was an asshole and Doug was a junkie. We were doomed.
What sparked your return in 1991?
Money. I wasn't involved in 91.
Tell us about the Alpha Omega album...
Go to cro-mags.com there is a long detailed explanation of that album. Please cut and paste that.
How did the 'Near Death Experience' album differ?
Near Death experience is NOT a Cro-Mags album. Those were reject tracks from ALPHA OMEGA. Never should have been put out. Blame that on John and Century Media who was desperate to make a buck after being ripped off by Harley. I'd call it instant karma on Century Media.
What cause the second split?
harley's breath. His body odor. He's an asshole. Liar, manipulator, sleep farter and egomaniac and malignant narciscist. It was always Harley. He is the single problem. Don't believe his recent public relations. It's his fault and it's his fault there will NEVER be a reunion.
In 1999, you guys sort of reformed and released an album, tell us about this period...
This started off as a great period. Harley had failed miserably. Was homeless and seemed to be humbled. It was an act. We wrote the REVENGE album which is my personal favorite album. It was great. We signed with UNVERSAL MUSIC and they gave us $400,000. We made a great album them Harley reverted back to being an asshole. So I quit again. Life is too short to spend it with assholes. Plural meaning the cunt that follows him around.
What else have you released?
Nothing. The Cro-Mags records represents my music. AGE OF QUARREL, BEST WISHES and REVENGE. That's quite a body of work but I always am sad to know we could have made 20 albums in all these years if we could just have co operated.
Who are some of the bands you have done shows with?
MOTORHEAD, KING'S X, VENOM, GBH, BAD BRAINS, DEATH ANGEL, MEGADETH, NUCLEAR ASSAULT, CRUMBSUCKERS, CARNIVORE, TYPE O NEGATIVE, BIOHAZARD
Do you prefer to do shows at large venues or small clubs?
Is there a favorite band you like to do shows with?
Is there a favorite place you like to do shows at?
The RITZ in NYC now called Webster hall.
Do you see is the future of the Cro-mags?
How can people contact the band?
GO TO firstname.lastname@example.org for BEFORE THE QUARREL and REVENGE on CD thanks...