MIKE BULLSHIT INTERVIEW
From Jersey Beat #39
by Jim Testa
At a small building near the corner of
Rivington Street and Clinton, in a part of the
Lower East Side where shopping is a way of life and
the first language you're likely to hear is
Spanish, New York hardcore is getting a second
When CBGB cancelled its long-running Sunday
hardcore matinees in November, 1989, for a lot of
kids it meant the end of an era and the only chance
they had to see their favorite kind of music. But
within a few weeks, there were shows again. This
time on Saturday afternoons. And this time, they
weren't being run by a club, but by the people from
the hardcore scene, for the kids in the hardcore
scene. And the man behind them was Mike Bullshit.
As editor of Bullshit Monthly and lead singer
of SFA and more currently GO!, Mike Bullshit has
been a presence on the NY hardcore scene for years.
He is a prepossessing kind of guy, standing over
six foot tall with a scowl that would freeze
Frankenstein in his tracks - quite a contrast from
the serious, committed, peaceful person inside. If
anybody can say anything about where New York
hardcore is and where it's going in the 90's, it's
Mike Bullshit. So we asked him. The interview was
conducted on December 29 at ABC No Rio. Present
were Jim Testa, Mike Bullshit, and Gavin from the
band Absolution, who works the shows as security
Q: Let's start with the shows at ABC No Rio.
Mike: BSM Presents. They're $3-$5, they're three to
four hardcore bands. No racist or sexist or anti-
gay bands. We started doing them a couple of weeks
ago (in December, '89), I hope to be doing them for
a while. It's a cool club, there are no bouncers
Gavin: I'm not a bouncer, I just write on the
Q: Did you start the shows in response to CBGB
cancelling their matinees?
Mike: I'm sort of happy that CB's stopped doing
them. 'Cos CB's actually gave you a scene and said,
Here is your scene, and enjoy it but just don't do
this, this, this, or this. And after awhile,
everyone just took it for granted. And when you
take it for granted, no one is going to work for
the scene, nothing's going to happen, and basically
it all turned into shit. So we're trying to make it
not shit. Not make it, but work with people to
make it better, to have a decent scene. Because
there is no scene now... We're at the point now
where there are New York bands who will not play
New York because there's so much violence. That's
silly, that's ridiculous.
Q: Plus there are so many bands from around the
country who won't come to New York, because it's so
hard to get a gig or because of the reputation for
fights at shows.
Mike: Well, Philly's worse. At shows in Philly, KKK
show up and stuff. Here's there's a little clique
with chips on their shoulders who like to show up
and start fights. It's just not cool.
Q: I see you have Gavin and Tim (Boiling Point
Fanzine) helping you, so there is sort of a
coalition working on this.
Mike: It started out as just me, I was doing
everything - security, booking, working the door.
It just got to be too much. Gavin's helping me,
making sure there's no fights. He's not working
"security," he just makes sure there are no fights.
Tim's going to be setting up a record table, where
we'll sell hardcore 7" ep's for $3. Buy them from
bands for $1.75 or $2 and sell them cheaply, unlike
some record stores..
Q: ...where they're $4.29 or more.
Mike: Yeah. Most record stores in NY will buy 100
copies, save 50 copies to sell for $20 in a year,
and put the rest out...maybe. And that's not really
cool. We want to give hardcore back to the kids. So
Tim's getting in touch with the record labels and
hopefully that will take place here too. It's
coming along slowly but it's coming along pretty
good, I think.
Q: In the last year or so, the whole scene seemed
to get so fragments. You had these big labels
starting up like Hawker and In-Effect drawing bands
out of the scene, you had the straightedge kids
breaking away into their own clique, and now you
have bands like Warzone and Token Entry who write
press releases saying they don't want to be
considered "hardcore" anymore.
Mike: I'm not going to rag on people for what they
want to do. SFA is probably going to go on a bigger
label, but if I was still in SFA, they wouldn't be
doing that... I personally would never go on a
major label. I hate to say never because everything
I've ever said I'd never do, I've wound up doing
eventually. I like staying independent, I like
doing 7 inches. I don't like doing albums. GO! will
probably never have an album. GO! will almost
definitely have another 7" after this one comes out
in January. We're on Noo Yawk Rehkids, which is our
own label. We'll probably be doing a Born Again 7"
and I'm talking to a couple of other bands.
I like to stay independent. Stay with
grassroots distribution. Nothing against bigger
labels, but I don't like the concept of making
money off of music. I don't think it's positive, I
don't think it's something I'd want to be involved
with. I want to have complete artistic control, I
want to be there when they print the covers, and
completely be in charge of distribution. I want to
see the copies mailed out, I want to see everything
being pressed. And I don't know if I'd trust a
major label to do that. I would just want to do it
myself. And so far I've done everything myself and
it's come out pretty good. It could have been
better. But it's definitely a learning experience.
I think if the SFA and GO! records had been done by
major labels, I wouldn't have learned as much. And
I'm sure this next GO! 7" will be much better. And
the one after that will be better than that one. So
that's definitely the route I'm taking.
Q: Let's talk about GO! for a minute. Is the lineup
on this new 7" the original members?
Mike: Pretty much. GO! started as a 3-piece. GO!
started when I was hitchhiking actually (Mike
hitchhiked across the country one summer) and I
wrote a song that was a Lifesblood ripoff which was
"It's Up To You." I just wrote that on the road,
and I knew SFA (his then-current band) wouldn't do
that song. So when I get back in March of '89, I
was still undecided if I wanted to rejoin SFA or
not. And in one day, actually, we just came to the
realization that they wanted to do one thing and I
wanted to do something different. And I was gonna
do a demo tape playing all the instruments,
actually, and Ronn said, You know, Mike, you really
can't play drums. So Ronn said he'd play drums, and
then we got Eric (guitar) pretty quickly. And then
we did one show and got a bass player, John. And
it's steamrolled. We've done a bunch of shows, we
have a bunch of shows booked, we have a 7" coming
out in under a year, which is pretty cool
considering we took off two months. So it's really
happening, I really enjoy it.
Q: You seem to make a habit of doing things that
people say you can't do in New York. Like people
say, you can't get booked in NY, you can't put out
a record on your own anymore...
Mike: Well, as far as getting shows, CB's was
ridiculous, because you had to go on a waiting
list, you had to kiss Connie's ass... At ABC No
Rio, I call up bands and say "You wanna play?" Or
bands come up to me and say, "Gee, Mike, we're just
starting out, can we get a show?" and I say, "Okay,
how about such and such a date." It's a lot more
relaxed. I'm trying to keep it to 3 bands instead
of 4, just because it's a lot less headaches for
me. I'll probably start doing four bands as more
people get involved with it. My friends Charlie
from Just Lies fanzine and Rich from Right
Trash fanzine are helping me out a bit, and my
roommate Sam from Evacuate Records is helping me
out a bit.
As far as the label goes, Noo Yawk Rehkids is
basically a label that supports the belief that
people should take pride in their intrinsic value
as a human being, regardless of their race, creed,
sexual orientation, religion, etc. etc. I am trying
to put out bands that are not racist. That are not
Brooklyn this or Jackson Heights that... Not "Fuck
the immigrants" or "Fag bash this" or "Bitch,
whore, slut" that. Bands that take a little more
time to write their lyrics, take a little more time
think about what they're saying. I think that as a
label it's starting to be kind of cohesive. We
might put out this record by The Manacled, which is
Rich and Charlie and a couple other people. And
Born Against is definitely, as far as lyrically,
graphically, idea-wise, one of the best put-
together bands I've ever seen. If people went out
and made the mistakes - and I've made mistakes,
I've made mistakes plenty of times. But you do it
and learn. Like the early Bullshit Monthlys sucked.
And after they came out, I said, I did that wrong,
and the next time they came out better. It's all
about falling down and getting up and doing it
better next time.
Q: Do you think there's more tolerance in the scene
now, or less, than, say, five years ago?
Mike: I think five years ago people were a little
more together. I think as far as "unity," there was
more unity, because you'd have skins and punks and
hardcores and rastas and the little kids at shows.
And there wouldn't be as many fights at shows.
There was more cameraderie. I don't think people
were dressing up as much and had chips on their
shoulders as much. I wouldn't call it "Unity"
unity, but I think people knew each other more. It
didn't matter as much what borough you were from.
There are a lot of cool people now. And there were
a lot of cool people then. It's really just two
different times, and I don't want to dwell on
Q: Have the ABC No Rio shows been pretty cool so
Mike: Yes. So far we haven't had a fight. We
haven't had too many hassles at the door. Door
prices have been $2 to $4. All the bands that've
played have been cool - Citizens Arrest, Yuppicide,
Buyout Society, Raw Shock, SFA, Go!.
Q: You're really dealing with the bands at the
bottom level of the ladder. When you start booking
bands from the bigger labels who are more well
known, won't that necessarily start drawing a
different crowd, kids who aren't really into the
scene so much as hanging out at big shows? That's
where the fights seem to start.
Mike: I'm starting to deal with some of those band.
Uppercut is playing soon. Outburst, Maximum
Penalty. There are some bands I won't deal with.
There are some bands that really fucked me up in
the past. Basically we're at the point now where we
have 30 steady people every week. I'd like to get
to the point where we have 50-60 people steady
every week. I'm trying to get the word out, trying
to get the people who will come every week and not
Q: How's Bullshit Monthly going?
Mike: Bullshit Monthly is doing fine. #22 should
be out late January. It'll be a quarter, it'll be 8
Q: How can you sell a fanzine for 25 cents?
Mike: (Runs down printing costs) Basically it costs
me 20 cents to print one. And I get promo albums.
So if I spend $20 but I get 4 or 5 albums, I can
deal with it. I'm not in this to make money.
Q: Doing the fanzine should complement having the
Mike: Pretty much. I can advertise the shows in the
fanzine and sell the zine at shows. If people come
down and read the zine, it's all right. If they
don't want to come down, it's all right. I'm
offering a matinee in New York where there's no
fights, where there's cool people, where there's
good bands for very little money. If people want to
take advantage of that, cool.
Q: Have you ever had any problems with the Post
Office over using the name Mike Bullshit or
Mike: I get so much mail addressed to Mike Bullshit
or Bullshit Monthly, you have no idea. It's a lot
of fun. I love the Post Office. It's great. I send
out so much mail, I get so much mail. Bullshit
Monthly gets letters to that name from all over the
world and all over the country and I've never had
Q: I recently sent a videotape to a pen pal in
Chile, and it was intercepted by this "Committee
For Political Correctness" and they watched the
whole video to make sure there wasn't anything
political on it before they'd release it to him.
Mike: That's scary. I think living in the United
States basically makes you ignorant of stuff like
that, and it gives you a big head because you can
do anything you want, and it pretty much keeps you
from realizing what censorship is.
Q: The last Bullshit Monthly had this thing about
being "gay owned and operated."
Mike: That's been coming up a lot. People have been
saying, it's a hardcore magazine, it has nothing to
do with sexual orientation, why even bother putting
that in? And it's because everything is
heterosexual. You open a newspaper or a magazine
and it's heterosexual, you just don't realize it.
Sexual orientation should be the most
inconsquential thing in your entire life. With
everything going on in the world, like hunger, and
homelessness, and wars, it's the dumbest thing to
even talk about. And I wish I lived in a world
where I didn't have to talk about it and it didn't
matter. But as long as I live in a world where
people are persecuted, where people are killed or
beaten up or people are put in jail for the fact
that they're gay, then yes, I'll stand here and say
I'm gay and have no problem with it at all. And
I'll wear the "Silence=Death" button as a memorial
to the thousands killed in the concentration camps,
to the thousands who are persecuted in the United
States, and to the millions of people who wish they
could wear that button and can't, because they
would lose their jobs, lose their families, lose
their homes, and lose everything...If there's
injustice out there, I'm going to fight against it,
and if I have to put myself on the line for it, it
really doesn't bother me in the least.
Q: Do you think you could have come out 5 years ago
and been in a band and everything?
Mike: I really wasn't out five years ago. I just
came out about a year ago. And it's still a very
difficult process and a very individual decision.
Q: Especially in the hardcore scene.
Mike: Oh, yeah. I've heard bands on the stage say
"Faggot this" and "faggot that" and talk about gay
bashing. And Bad Brains. Let's talk about the Bad
Brains. On the new GO! 7" there's a song called
"Holy Roller." It's not and anti-Rastafarian song,
it could be about Jews or Catholics or Rastas or
Buddhits or anyone who uses their religion as a
fulcrum for persecuting a minority because of their
sexual orientation, or a gender, such as women. I
find the Bad Brains completely more offensive than
the Cro Mags because the Cro Mags tell you that
they're street tough and don't get in our way.
Fine. Bad Brains come out saying "We're positive
mental attitude" and "We talk for the youth," and
they put down women and they put down gays. And
It's just ridiculous.
People write me and tell me they're sorry the
Bad Brains have these new beliefs. But the Bad
Brains have spent the better part of a decade doing
everything in their power to completely insult and
defame gays and lesbians, and women. And it's just
ridiculous that anyone still supports them. I
didn't speak up about it until I heard the song
"Don't Blow Bubbles" on the "Quickness" album. And
I heard a song basically saying that AIDS is a cure
for homosexuality and drug abuse, and how could
anyone possibly give that a good review? And when I
see a fanzine giving that a good review, I write to
and say you should really read lyrics. If a person
supports Skrewdriver, fine, because they can go to
a store and see songs like "Nigger Nigger Out Out
Out" and they can decide to either support this or
not support this. This is America and you can make
that choice. But a band like the Bad Brains, where
they disguise it with this Jah bullshit and you
don't know what garbage you're buying, and by
supporting them, you're supporting all this
bigoted, prejudiced nonsense, and you don't know
it, that I think is wrong. I truthfully have
nothing against warning labels. I'd like to see a
warning label on that record saying "This record is
anti-gay." As long as people don't censor. I'm not
really a critical person, but I do consider myself
a gay activist.
Q: That's great. And it must be especially hard in
the scene you're in.
Mike: Yeah, it's hard. But when gay people grow up
with no real positive role models... I don't
consider myself a role model for anyone, but just
being out there and being open and being out of the
closet is important for gay people in general. And
if there are just one or two people in the scene
who are positively influenced by the fact that
there's another gay man out there, the fact that
there might be some physical threat against me is
Q: Anything else you want to say?
Mike: A GO! 7" should be out by the middle of
January. The last time I was asked if I had any
closing comments, I didn't, I'm not very good at
that. But one thing I do want to say is, the thing
is, we're Go! and you're not, but you can be if you
want to be.
ABC No Rio is located at 156 Rivington Street, near
the corner of Clinton Street, on Manhattan's Lower
East Side. For directions, schedules of shows,
bookings, or information about GO! or Bullshit
Monthly, send a SASE to Mike Bullshit, 175 Fifth
Ave. Apt. 2589, New York NY 10010. Send 50 cents or
$1 for BULLSHIT MONTHLY, or $3 for a copy of the GO
Jersey Beat fanzine covers underground music in the
Greater New York area and is published quarterly.
Available for $2 postpaid from Jim Testa,
151 First Ave. Box A, New York NY 10003
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