Youth culture, like youth itself, is precious and fleeting. Those who engage fully with life soon learn to inhabit each moment of their life and infuse it with meaning. It is the ephemeral nature of the moments that make up one’s life that causes some to long for the past while others move into the future with enthusiasm. This collection of interviews explores Philadelphia’s hardcore punk culture with an eye for detail and a desire to document what has come before. But don’t be mistaken: this is not an exercise in nostalgia. There is no sentiment of “everything was great then, but all that is lost.” Nostalgia is a form of depression and it has no place in these interviews. The Loud! Fast! Philly! interview archive is concerned with the right here and the right now. While in part the interviews are concerned with the past, there is always a clear-eyed view into the future as well as a discussion of how the DIY ethos that remains the core of punk continues to shine through these individuals. And shine it does, for the charisma and positivity of these folks with whom I’ve had the honor to speak is practically luminous. Just look at Karen Kirchhoff’s marvelous photographs.
From the start, I wanted these interviews to be audio-only and to be hosted unedited, in perpetuity, and free for all to listen to. Unlike a conventional documentary that customarily begins with the director’s thesis and assembles interviews and footage meant to prove that thesis, these interviews are intended to stand as the experiences of the participants in their words and with no editorial manipulation. I entered each interview with some subjects I wanted to discuss, but no notes or written questions. I wanted the interviewees to feel relaxed in talking to me and free to let the interview feel more like a discussion among friends, even if — as in most cases — I did not personally know the individuals being interviewed.
A few notes of thanks to those who contributed to making this project happen. Eric Bresler formulated the idea of the live event as part of the Cinedelphia Film Festival with me and put in a tremendous amount of time doing the technical work I could never do. He also originally hosted these interviews. Karen Kirchhoff took these stunning portraits and bopped all over town with me to photograph the interview subjects. The International House Philadelphia kindly provided me with rooms in which to record the interviews, as did the Mariposa Food Co-op on a few occasions. Justin Miller/Hauntlove made the killer poster for the live event. Sarah E. Johnson built this website and did a marvelous job of it. I truly, truly can't thank her enough! Bull gets thanks for being a rulin’ brother. Everyone who trusted me enough to give up their precious time and talk at length have earned my high praise along with the tremendous amount of respect I had for them even before we spoke. Their voices are the heart of this part of the project and it’s a blast beat of a heart beat. Many thanks to the folks who contributed footage to the live event. Finally, special thanks to James Walker, the man who turned Bull and me on to punk as kids and changed the entire course of our lives in the process.
All of these interviews were recorded with a Sony IC recorder that Eric gave me and can be had for cheap. No special equipment was used.
I’ll be adding more interviews to this archive throughout 2013 and beyond. There are many, many people I’d love to talk to, but I will only do these interviews in person and many crucial players in Philly’s punk scene are scattered to the four winds. I will, however, endeavor to track them down and capture their voices. As well, there are many locals I’d love to sit down with. Time is tight, but the desire remains to make this mosaic something that, when taken in pieces or as a whole, is beautiful and inspires the listener to do as these interviewees have done: be active and contributing participants of their times. This is the only life you’ll ever have and what you choose to do with it and how you treat everyone and everything around you makes a massive difference. You matter and people love you. As the band Scram! sang, “Forward, onward!”
- Joseph A. Gervasi
Roxborough, Philadelphia, PA, USA