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Interview: Chip from Dance Floor Justice

Originally Published: Thursday, May 31, 2007
Written by: Billy Ransom

https://www.instagram.com/p/CYNP2Q4JXZk/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

Billy: okay first off, how long have you been straight edge?

Chip: 12 years this past January but I had never tried anything prior to finding out what straight edge was

Billy: damn that’s longer than probably all of south Florida haha. props for that. what do you think of the state of the “straight edge scene” today? do you think edge kids have just as much heart as they did 10-12 years ago, even 5-7 years ago?

Chip: Straight Edge isn’t exactly “cool” right now. They aren’t many SXE bands around now. The kids don’t seem to take it seriously anymore. When I go to a show now, less and less kids X up, and I tend to find myself being the only one on many occasions. I think the lack of bands with a message really contributes to that. When I started going to shows in 1995, SXE bands let you know they were SXE. Bands like Earth Crisis, Strife, One King Down…they were proud of the fact that they were living a clean lifestyle and promoting it. Now, bands will claim SXE but they don’t really say much about it

Billy: when hardline and even the “militant” thing was huge, did you agree with that mentality? did you have that same kind of attitude about straight edge?

Chip: No I’ve never been militant or hardline and I don’t agree with it. I don’t agree with it even though when I was in high school I was in that “angry SXE” phase which many of us go through during those years. It was my way of dealing with people who were abusing drugs and alcohol around me. It was kind of reverse peer pressure if you will. They were outspoken about their lifestyles and I about mine. But I never tried to push my beliefs on anyone after I go out of that phase. Everyone is entitled to their choices and while I may not agree with some of them, it’s not my place to say what someone should and should not do.

As far as the Hardline thing goes… down here at that time, we had a Hardline crew called “Jolly Rogers” which were a group of high school kids who would go to Coconut Grove (a popular hangout in Miami) and beat up on people they saw drinking and smoking. But they were young (older than me at the time) and that was their way of dealing with the pressure around them and I am in no way say that was right. Looking back on it, it’s pretty sad…they did get a shout-out on the first Path of Resistance record though. They were nice kids when you got to know them but it’s a lifestyle I never did agree with and still do not to this day. The only Hardline/Militant band I can really remember down here was a band Cornerstone. They released a demo and I think that was about it in 1994.

Billy: word. I kinda wish I was part of that, just so I could see what that way of thinking was like. I always saw the other end of the spectrum. hell when I was 12, my stepdad at the time told me if I ever wanted to try any drug at all, he could definitely get it–which scared me in the first place–and he would apparently “tell me what each and every drug does.” I didn’t believe him, and I think that that’s pretty unique for a kid that age to understand that there was probably something very menacing about that.

now as far as the hardcore scene, in general… in what ways, and how MANY ways is today’s scene different from the scene back in the mid-90s? were kids more enthusiastic about shows back then, because the internet played almost no part in hardcore? or was it just because of the bands that were around at that point in time for the hardcore scene?

Chip: Today is very different than it used to be. Kids cared more and put more effort. We had no problem driving 3 or 4 hours for a show because you knew it was gonna be good. Between 1995 and 1997, local shows would draw on the average 150-200 kids (if not more) which down here is HUGE. Kids wouldn’t care about driving 45 minutes but they were getting 4 or 5 amazing bands on one bill. I saw Shai Hulud and Morning at least once a month from 96 to 98 and the shows were always incredible. Another thing is that kids didn’t dance the way they do now. They didn’t intentionally try and hurt other kids. Sure kids got hit but you apologized and it was alright. Now kids kick into the crowd, punch into the crowd. I’ve always been the peacekeeper and tried to set a good example so it bums me out when I see that sort of thing.

Chip: Bands would want to come down here and play because they knew Old Hialeah was gonna be there. We had the nickname “Miami Kickboxing League” because of how we danced. It was a controlled thing.

Now we’re lucky if we get one touring band a month to come down here because the kids won’t go out and support them

xcolder thanYOUx (8:35:26 PM): yeah that’s pretty sad. I see that a lot. sure it’s great to see your friends a whole lot, but when very few touring bands come down, thus making it next to impossible to see a show a month, it gets depressing a little.. do you think the state of the scene has anything to do with MTV? or do you think the bands who are really not in it for what it should be about, are just fading into oblivion with all the rest of the MTV bands? it seems like it should be kind of a “separation of church and state” idea with hardcore and MTV, but even a few bands like Hatebreed and such, are getting starry-eyed with all that fame and such… not to say Hatebreed completely forgot what they were about, but more often you’ll see them at shows with kids who never heard of hardcore beyond them than you will on a show with 100 demons for instance.

Chip: Well Hatebreed may be a “big” band but they still have hardcore ideals and play hardcore music. I’m happy for them and all the success they’ve achieved. The thing about those kids who will go see them and have never been to another hardcore show, believe it or not, will probably end up being the future of our scene. They may be inspired to check out a local show, fall in love with the scene, and start a band. Recently at a show, there was a kid up front taking pictures. you could tell he had never been to a show before but he was totally into it. a lot of kids were making fun of him because of how he was dressed. I thought that was so shitty because he is the kid who is gonna buy the records and sing along eventually

Billy: Yeah, exactly. and those kids probably did the same exact thing when they were new to the scene.

Chip: Exactly. I’m sure I did it was some point too but now that I’m older, I know it’s not cool. I’m not old and jaded, I’m just old hahahahaha.

Billy: hahahhaha. no, I know what you’re saying though. sometimes even I feel old, because, while I’ve not been in the scene as long as you or others (I’ve been in about 6 years) I still feel like a new kid because I’m still battling certain things regarding my approach to being a part of the most obvious is, I’m the only one in a wheelchair. we all learn, and most of them are learning that I’m not just some fly-by-night who is trying to look cool. so I got respect from that, and I made friends. that’s what this is all about, really. not listening to the hardest music or whatever. that music comes from ideas and emotions. not the other way around.

as far as politics, and the US today, you said you wish more bands would have more of a message, do you think bands don’t speak enough about the current administration and whatnot? do you think that there should be more aware of what is really going on in our country, instead of the lies that FOX and whatnot try to force down the general public’s throat?

Chip: Well yes. What I was referring to was bands in the 90s, such as the Vegan SXE explosion in the mid-90s for example, trying to educate their audience on what they felt was important. Granted, most of the time they were playing to a room full of vegans but if they were able to get through to one kid then I think they accomplished something. Then when 2000 or so hit, everyone started singing about girls and heartbreak and I just lost interest. The message became less important as the image really took over. One band I do applaud for sticking to their message is Rise Against. Here is a band whose new album was on a major record label, debuted in the top 10 and what are they singing about? Revolution and making a change. I have nothing but respect for them. I’m not gonna lie and say I’m the most politically minded person in the world but I wish more bands would try and make a difference.

Billy: let’s take for example a band like sum 41. they have always been on a major label for like the last 6 or 8 years, maybe more.. do you think their message is trite and kind of “popular” amongst the young teens today? “bush sucks” is a pretty popular statement, and while I agree, i’m hard pressed to find someone who has an opinion that doesn’t sound half-assed.

Chip: Well I think if that’s something they believe then make sure you are backing up why you think he sucks. If you are saying this to 10000 kids when you play, chances are they are gonna follow what you say but are they following it because you are saying it and they like your band or because they truly believe it? Give them a reason to say “Bush Sucks”.

Billy: agreed completely.

Chip: Just believe in the message you are speaking about.

Billy: that is really what it comes down to. that’s about as basic as it gets, and that’s what i love about hardcore. there’s nothing too intricate about the message.

Chip: Exactly

Billy: Okay, on the topic of bands… how many bands have you been in, in total up to today?

Chip: Hahahaha ummmm let me see..

Billy: I was just gonna say you’re kinda like the mike Patton of hardcore so I’m sorry if thats a tricky one hahahahah.

Chip: Destro, All Hell Breaks Loose, Until The End, Where Fear And Weapons Meet, More Than Ever, Target Nevada, Dance Floor Justice. I’m currently doing Dance Floor Justice as well as a new project called Best Wishes

Billy: so those are your only two current bands?

Chip: Yes, All Hell is going to play a show in the near future but that is not a constant thing. We aren’t writing new music…but we may re-record an old song as well as a Battery cover for a tribute record

Billy: I really really dig the fact that you guys (all hell) are going to still play at least every so often with that name, despite the unfortunate passing of one of the other members in the band. I think that’s cool as hell, you guys are pressing on, even if it is not full-time.

Chip: Thanks, buddy. Joe wouldn’t have wanted us to quit…we didn’t feel right about continuing at first, but we feel that if play once in a while it helps to keep his memory alive.

Billy: Yeah, I agree I can see it would definitely be something of a celebration of joe’s life.

Chip: That’s what we hope kids will believe in as well

Billy: could you ever see yourself not in a band? what would you do if it ever came to that? did you ever have a plan that wasn’t in the direction of being involved in music in some way?

Chip: Well I do have a plan that doesn’t involve music. I go to school full time and am majoring in psychology. Hardcore is a frame of mind and I still want to play in bands and be a part of the scene but one day I won’t be able to put as much effort into it as I do now. I don’t feel that’s not gonna make any less “hardcore” because hardcore and SXE are always going to be a part of who I am. Look at Dan Yemin. He has a doctorate and plays in bands still. I think that’s the best example of where I would like to see myself

Billy: that is awesome. and that’s a great point about psychology having tie-ins with hardcore. it really is a mentality first. okay as far as the style of hardcore kids; I know that “style” is something that is pretty frowned upon in the hardcore community, just because style should be the last thing that is seen as important, but does that take more of a priority today than it did back in the mid-90s? even with today, the popularity of mesh hats and camo shorts being the “hardcore thing” today, was there anything like that back then? or was it just “wear whatever you want..”?

Chip: When I started going to shows, everyone wore jean shorts, Krishna beads, bleached their hair, wore headbands, Adidas and New Balances, Nautica and Tommy Hilfiger, backpacks…I still wear some of that. I live in the past hahahaha. As far as the style taking priority, the style has always been an important part. People may not want to admit it but it’s true.

Billy: alright on the subject of kids’ intensity at shows… crowd reaction… was it more intense back in the mid 90s?

Chip: one-sec buddy

Billy: k

Chip: sorry

Billy: it’s cool.

Chip: Well it was a different kind of intensity. Back then, kids weren’t really afraid of going up front to sing along…now they have to worry about kids jumping from behind them and punching them.

Billy: Yeah, where did that start/come from anyway? that has always been the weirdest thing to me.

Chip: I’m not really sure. I’ve been all over the country and seen how kids dance and I’ll tell you, Id has to say that kids in New Jersey dance harder than anyone I’ve ever seen…well at least when I used to tour. But to be honest I don’t know where that whole thing came from.

Billy: it’s very weird, and I think it might have something to do with the possible dividing of the scene these days.. in some instances, anyway.

Chip: Yeah I could see that

Billy: what about downloading? some bands are totally cool with it, even encourage it. some don’t like it at all and they think it hurts the scene. what’s your stance on it?

Chip: Well I’ve never been in a band that makes money off their release with the exception of playing live. I’ve never received a royalty check and I’m totally cool with it. No matter what anyone does, people are gonna download regardless, so I really don’t worry about it. I mean honestly, what can we do? For every kid that downloads the record, someone is gonna buy it, and maybe that kid who downloads it will like it and buy it.

Billy: yeah that’s how I see it. that’s why I download music. if I don’t like it, I act like I never heard it haha. well not exactly, but I just don’t buy it. it’s better than taking a risk of not liking it and wasting money on it I guess haha.

Chip: Yeah I can see what you mean but before we had the internet we had to take a chance and order something through Victory Distro or Very and hope it was good

Billy: Yeah I guess the risk factor, at least back then, when kids didn’t mind a risk–that factor maybe seemed kind of fun and intriguing a little?

Chip: Absolutely. It was a thrill to get new music in the mail. What we used to do was look at Thank You lists and see who the band would thank. Then we would go out and search for the record. I still love getting music in the mail…and shirts.

Billy: haha I actually still do that from time to time. the first time I ever did that was on the very first rage against the machine cd. I learned about a lot of the classic bands by doing that, actually. some of the newer bands would thank them for whatever help they may have provided, and I got into the earlier bands that way.

Chip: Exactly. We would scour the Thank You list. I got into so many bands just doing that. I remember checking out Mouthpiece because Strife thanked them on the “One Truth” record.

Billy: I think I checked them out (mouthpiece) once or twice. wasn’t there a member or two from a couple of other much “larger” hardcore bands?

Chip: Some of the members went on to other projects…the bass player who passed away was in Saves The Day and played on their first record. Tim McMahon played in Hands Tied and is now doing Triple Threat

Billy: ohh okay. cool, interesting to know. I like how a lot of times back in the 90s, bands would go from a more fast-paced hardcore band to a much more melodic thing, yet the energy was still there in some way or another…

Chip: Well the thing is a lot of the bands in the 90s were more into what was nicknamed “E Chug” hardcore, which is what I love. Loads of down picking with heavy chugging breakdowns…that’s the stuff that gets me moving man. Makes me want to punch a hole in the wall.

Billy: E chug? that was in standard E tuning I’m assuming?

Chip: Well it depends on the band…the whole E thing just referred to the E string

Billy: oh I see.

Chip: because Disembodied sure didn’t tune to E hahahaha.

Billy: ahaha no they didn’t. there are bands now that tune to like drop A and ridiculous things like that. and all they do is depend on their chug chug parts. *cough*acacia strain*cough*

Billy: haha.

Chip: Yeah I heard Acacia Strain is tuning to G now. That’s insane. My friend Mark from Rhode Island played a song for me off of “3750” for me and I was like “My god that’s heavy.” I can only imagine what they sound like now if they tune that low.

Billy: they used to have 3 guitarists, too. drop A (or G??). 3 guitarists. I saw them once. made my insides rattle hahaha.

Chip: hahahahaha seriously. All Hell had 3 guitar players but we only tune to drop C so I can only imagine what they must be like live

Billy: pretty ridiculous and noisy and not distinguishable to be honest. haha I was like if I wanted this I could just go in search of the brown note.

Chip: hahahahaha

Billy: the moshing at that show… ugh it was ridiculous. I dunno how they did it with such tight pants. what was that like in the mid-90s? I remember watching parts of the NYHC documentary, and rick ta life was saying it was more violent or just really more intense in NY and NJ, maybe without all the intentional hitting people. just the arms were thrown around harder and the kicks were definitely done with a lot of force, and kids were just crazy in those areas at that time. but was it that way in FL around that same time? or in other areas of the country?

Chip: No not really down here. Kids down here were more about community and watched out for each other. Not to say little skirmishes didn’t go down but they didn’t intentionally hurt each other. Old Hialeah kinda regulated things and made sure “outsiders” didn’t come to a show and start trouble. It wasn’t like they weren’t welcome but just so they didn’t start trouble.

Billy: so the moshing was pretty similar to what it’s like today? i feel kinda corny asking about “the mosh” ahha. but it is interesting to me. like watching footage of NY in the mid-90s, their “style” was definitely different than what you see today.

Chip: Well not really how it is today…we did windmills back then and floorpunched but it was like watching a kickboxing match, hence why we were called the “Miami Kickboxing League”.

Billy: yeah. how about the interaction between fans and bands? or fans amongst themselves? or even bands amongst themselves? was it way different than how it is now? there’s a lot of drama constantly in some areas at least down here.. was it a lot more civil back then, or worse?

Chip: If there was drama back then (and now), I made sure to distance myself from it. The bands have always been really friendly, I can’t think of a band that I talked to that was never friendly. I always made it a point to take the time and talk to someone if they wanted to after I played or were going to play. Those are the kids that support us and without them, we are nothing. Why would they want to come and see us if we treat them like “fans”? They could spend loads of cash and see a “big” band and not have that interaction. That was something I always liked. Going to a show and talking to someone and then they’ll say “hey I gotta run and play now, talk to you afterward”. You cant do that sort of thing elsewhere.

Billy: yeah that is true about bands and fans always being able to talk like it’s nothing at all. so it’s still generally the same way it’s always been, that’s cool to know. you sometimes hear about a band not being very cool or whatever, and I just never really encountered that either. on hardcore in general, do you think hardcore will one day be subjected to its own grave and tombstone, or will it always just have its low points, and then pick back up eventually?

Chip: Well I’m a firm believer that everything goes in cycles. I was lucky enough to start going to shows in what I feel was a high point. Right now it’s at a low point but I feel it’s getting better. More kids are starting to come out and start bands and do their parts.

Billy: yeah it seems like it, I think at least 2 or 3 bands have started in the last few weeks and they played first shows and all that. hell, I’m even starting a band real soon here if we can actually finish writing a full song ahha.

Chip: That’s great. I can honestly tell you it’s the greatest feeling in the world to play a song you’ve written and have a room full of kids be into it.

Billy: yeah I can only imagine. I have ideas that I feel are relevant, and I feel that my place is behind the mic, to be honest. sure there will be the obvious jokes that go along with it, and honestly, I’ll probably come up with something of our own that will kind of go along with said jokes, but it will hopefully just be nothing but fun overall. okay in the past 5 years… “hardcore” as it is defined today, by some people who don’t know what they’re talking about, or who are fly-by-nights. do you see that awful trend fading away any time soon? you know, the tight pants and the awful singing.. will that go away soon, or do we have quite some time before it fades?

Chip: Well like I mentioned earlier, everything I feel goes in cycles. Right now, that style is still somewhat popular but I see its popularity waning. I think the mid-90s sounds are going to come back next and when it does I’ll be ready hahahaha.

Billy: Yeah I honestly can’t wait. I’ve been getting into that sound a lot (thanks chip! haha). you know what’s weird though, and I hope this doesn’t piss you off haha, but it’s almost like I hear a similarity between the early to mid 90s bands that paved the way for that awful thing called nu-metal, and the vegan straight edge hardcore bands of that era. not like they hung out and all that, but for example–the Deftones and strife… there’s a certain similarity between the two bands (not that I think Deftones are nu-metal, but closer enough than strife!)… i dunno that’s just something I noticed.

Chip: Yeah I can see why that is. Some of the guys in those bands were probably hardcore kids at one point who realized they could make money off music hahaha

Billy: that’s what I always thought! haha I’m glad I’m not alone in thinking that.. but then look at Thursday.. sure okay they had one not-so-good album maybe, but I consider them generally part of the hardcore scene still.. maybe that’s just naive thinking on my part haha.

Chip: No I can see that. They’re hardcore kids who happened to put some records that a lot of people really like. I applaud them and have all the respect in the world for them

Billy: yeah. I definitely respect them a lot. that’s all I got for questions man. wow, this interview went smoothly for me I think haha. thanks a lot, dude.

Chip: No problem buddy. I appreciate the time. Keep supporting and working on getting your music out there. If anyone is interested in trading shirts with me, email me for my trade list at Dancefloorjustice305 @ yahoo.com

Mother, wife, small business owner. www.justbuttons.org

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