August 14, 2010

The Return of Black Army Jacket

Think of an elephant on propofol, now combine that with some fast grind sludgy punk and overall shitty attitude, and you'll come up with The Jacket. At a time in the mid 90's when there seemed to be a new genre brewing called power violence, Black Army Jacket seemed to be ahead of the game dropping numerous splits and surely leaving their mark. The Jacket is a highly regarded weaponized force that took a hiatus some years ago. I caught up with Carlos Ramirez and had a chat after some pizza and Cormega demos.

I think it's fantastic Black Army Jacket are doing some shows in 2010. It's been awhile since you guys have plugged in and played together. Why now?

Thank you! We’ve been wanting to do some reunion show stuff for the past couple of years, but logistically speaking, it was really a pain in the ass. I live in Los Angeles, Dave in Virginia, and the other 2 guys live in Queens and Long Island. Not to mention Dave’s constant touring with Municipal Waste. It’s not the easiest situation to try and practice and play shows.

So when we realized that the 4 of us could actually make it happen in late August and early September of this year, we jumped at the chance. We’ll be playing on August 19th as part of the Best Friends Day Festival in Richmond, VA. There are some cool acts playing including Negative Approach, Andrew WK, Off With Their Heads, Government Warning, and a lot of other ones. Dave’s also playing with Municipal Waste, and that is always a fantastic live show.

The mid-nineties seemed like an idyllic time for "Powerviolence". Why do you think that scene gained as much popularity as it did at the time? Not to say any band were selling Winger numbers..but you felt something happening i think..

That’s a good question. When Black Army Jacket started, I had only read the term powerviolence in some zine. I wasn’t even sure what it exactly meant. I came more from the metal and hardcore side of things. Once I started hanging more with Andrew from BAJ, he turned me on to bands like No Comment and Man is the Bastard. We came from the East Coast and I don’t remember the scene being that great for powerviolence labeled bands back then. Sure, you had places like Stalag 13 in Philadelphia and ABC No Rio in NYC, but it wasn’t like there was a great local scene of bands or anything.

Once we first started touring the West Coast,  realized how popular the sound was. There were so many groups playing the kind of style we were playing. Naturally, the shows were better attended and there was more of a sense of community. That hurts for me to admit since I am such a proud New Yorker. But it’s the truth.

Who are some of the bands BAJ got some of their mojo from would you say?

I would say bands like Infest, Napalm Death, SOB, Assuck, and No Comment, had a big impact on the kind of stuff we were writing. Andrew had a great way with riffs, and having Witte on drums for most of our span as a band helped. His blast beats are fucking nuts! My only gripe with Black Army Jacket was our graphics. I don’t think we had that much cool merch and our record covers weren’t that hot. The coolest thing we had was the official logo and flag, which Andrew did from some stencil he had. We’ll have some new merch for the reunion shows that will make up for all that. You gotta see this shit!

You guys toured a bunch when you were still active. What stands out in your mind? We can discuss the Iranian midgets later.

Wow! I don’t remember the Iranian midgets, but that could have been all the malt liquor I was downing on tour. We had some great times on tour. Being part of the Fiesta Grande at Gilman was fresh. We got to play with Slight Slappers and the vatos in Excruciating Terror, plus some other sick bands. I also remember Lino from Hemlock/Villains/Iaborher was at that show for some reason.

I’ve said it before, but my favorite Black Army Jacket show was 1998’s Milwaukee Metalfest. The folks at Relapse Records were nice enough to have us play their stage. I had gone there with my friends Rob, Omer, and Rick, back in 1992. So to go back as a performer 6 years later, was an honor for me. To make it even better, my pals Rob and Omer flew in with us for the festival. I remember Mercyful Fate played that year and I was on 2 hits of ecstasy… it was incredible.

When is your split with Suicide Silence dropping?

Right after our split 10” with Kool G. Rap hits stores.

What’s next for the Jacket?

Just these 2 shows for now. I would love to do a couple of West Coast shows at some point, but I am not holding my breath. Dave’s so busy with Municipal Waste and all of the other projects he plays in. Andrew has 2 kids that keep him busy. Plus there’s that other issue of geography. That said, if they want to do something again, I would be down.

Right now I’m trying to get something going with Nick Woj from Cold World. We’re both huge shoegaze and dream pop fans, so we might be doing something together. We’ll see. Andrew from Black Army Jacket and I also want to do a power violence project too, but we haven’t been able to find the right people to do it with yet. That would be a lot of fun to do!

Thanks for the pizza, if you guys get on that Kool G Rap / Half a Mil Tour let me know ..

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for doing this interview with me! -Carlos