CRO-MAGS legend Harley Flanagan has posted the following message at www.CroMags.com:
"Growin' up everyone has favorite bands that break up, and as fans, everyone always wishes they would reform or do a tour, and the fans don't care about the beefs, they just want the band back together. Very seldom do you have the opportunity to make a lot of people happy with one simple act. But unfortunately, it is not all that simple. People have a hard time growing up and old beefs die hard.
"If it was up to me, the CRO-MAGS would have stayed together back in the '80s and would have lasted up until now, but it was not up to me — it was up to all the individuals involved.
"The CRO-MAGS — we were the band of quarrel. But at one point we were a good band. I don't think our records ever did us justice, But many people have said we were one of the strongest and most influential hardcore bands of our time, And I am proud of that. More then 20 years after the fact, people are still giving us props and respect never mind biting off our style, sound and vibe. So yeah, ha ha ha, I guess we made a lasting impression and did have an impact after all, huh ha ha ha.
"Well...this is the long / short history of the CRO-MAGS and the end of the quarrel...
"I first came up with the name and idea for the band while still in the STIMULATORS back in 1980. I was inspired by all the music that was happening at the time — BAD BRAINS, MINOR THREAT, CIRCLE JERKS, BLACK FLAG and so many others. MOTÖRHEAD [and] THE GERMS were all big influences. There was a lot of good stuff happening back then and it was all new. I came up with the name while hanging out with a friend of mine from L.A everyone called 'Mugger.' He roadied for BLACK FLAG. We were at a friend's house on 12th St. and Ave A where U.X.A. [UNITED EXPERIMENTS OF AMERICA] was staying (it was down the block from my mom's apt). U.X.A. was in town from L.A. and BLACK FLAG was in town, too. BLACK FLAG had recently played in town with Dez singing and they were now auditioning Henry [Rollins]. Anyway...it was a typical hot L.E.S. [Lower East Side] summer, the neighborhood was always jumping, lots of stuff going on. It was a crazy fuckin' neighborhood — mad drugs and gangs, violence, and the hardcore scene was jumpin'. The neighborhood was really busy all the time, always craziness, It was wild, wild west shit; it was total old-school L.E.S ghetto — burnt-out buildings everywhere, poverty, drugs, crime. It was old-school L.E.S. Not the yuppie-ass shit you got today. Not at all.
"Me and Mugger wanted to start a band, ha ha ha, or at least we were talkin' about it, he suggested we called the band THE CAVE MEN and THE APE MEN and so on we went back and forth with ideas, THE NEANDERTHALS etc., ha ha, 'cause we both had shaved heads and had a very caveman-ish look. I came up with CRO-MAGS and that was that. I thought it was a great name; it kinda symbolized modern man as a modern primitive as a cro-mag. Me and him never did wind up playing together but the name stuck.
"BLACK FLAG split town back to the West Coast and that was that. But I was on a mission. I was gonna start my own band and now I had the name, and even though I had no band to go with it, I started writing it on walls everywhere all over town at all the clubs up and down St. Marks and everywhere, the L.E.S., uptown etc. Before long, everyone knew of the CRO-MAGS even though they didn't know what it was — a gang, a graffiti crew [or] a band — and even though the CRO-MAGS still did not yet exist, ha ha ha, it was written EVERYWHERE!!!! Every wall, every club, bathroom on schools, I wrote that shit every-fuckin'-where. I used to write 'Cro-Mag' on my forehead at shows ha ha ha!!! Ask Jimmy Gestapo — he still has pictures of that shit, hahaha...`
"Trying to put the band together I went through several lineup changes before settling into the now infamous 'Age of Quarrel' lineup in the early-to-mid-80s. The first lineup after leaving the STIMULATORS consisted of me on bass, Dave Stein from EVEN WORSE on guitar, Dave Hahn from the MAD on drums (he was later replaced by Leo, the drummer from CRUCIAL TRUTH from Florida), John Berry from the BEASTIE BOYS was on vocals, but nothing much came of it. We did only one gig opening up for the STIMULATORS at Danceteria. and we did it under a fake name ('DISCO SMOOTHIE,' which was an inside joke between me and a bunch of my friends so 'only' they would know we were playing), 'cause I didn't feel that CRO-MAGS was ready yet we still had a way to go. We were still doing covers (BLACK FLAG, DEAD BOYS, MOTÖRHEAD) and we only had a few originals. I would wind up going through several different lineups and many try-outs before really getting a 'proper' lineup and a real band together.
"After playing with a few people and writing a bunch of future CRO-MAGS 'Age of Quarrel' songs, I hooked up with 'Kevin' Parris Mayhew though a skinhead friend of mine Paul Dordal (Paul wrote a lot of old MURPHY'S LAW lyrics from the first MURPHY'S LAW album). He told me, 'Well, he definitely ain't a punk or a skinhead, he's kinda nerdy and preppie-lookin', but he can play guitar and bass, he's really good he can play RUSH songs and shit.' Ha ha ha. Well, I didn't give a fuck about RUSH, but I was having little luck finding people on the scene to play with who were any good or who could cut it, so i figured, hey, if he can play RUSH songs… ha ha ha … he'll be able to play my stuff no problem, ha ha, so I hooked up with him. As it turned out, he was a huge STIMULATORS fan as well as the BAD BRAINS and MOTÖRHEAD, SEX PISTOLS and more. He had seen the STIMULATORS play many times at Max's and lots of other places and was a big fan of ours. So it worked out good. Musically, we clicked. It was one of those rare things [where] there was an instant musical chemistry. It worked out great. My childhood best friend Eric J Casanova would take the vocal spot.
"Me and Eric co-wrote the majority of the words to 'Age of Quarrel', I wrote some on my own before he joined, And me and parris wrote the music. I had a few songs already lying around and some from my first CRO-MAGS solo demo and he had some songs and riffs as well and we collaborated on a lot of stuff but in my opinion, it wasn't just our riffs, it was really our rhythm playing that created the sound and style. Now we just needed a drummer who could cut it to complete the rhythm section.
"We wound up recruiting Mackie Jayson from another local band FRONTLINE. He was definitely one of the best drummers around, He was a huge BAD BRAINS fan. He used to sit and watch Earl Hudson (BAD BRAINS) at every show they did, ha ha ha, and yeah, like I said, ha ha ha, he back then next to Earl he was definitely one of the best drummers in New York on the hardcore scene. With him, that was it — the rhythm section was complete. We taught him our songs, and that became the rhythm section for the CRO-MAGS.
"Now up until that point, I had the name. I had this idea for the sound something somewhere along the lines of BAD BRAINS, MOTÖRHEAD, MINOR THREAT, DISCHARGE with some big 'Oi'-style singalongs and hard-ass New York-style beatdown breaks etc.!!! You know... it had to be HARD!!!! That's all that mattered. It had to represent! But it wasn't long before it started to take on its own style and sound it was turning into something heavier then any of the older or should I say 'earlier' New York bands.
"Unfortunately, Eric would leave the band due to some family issues that would arise and that left us once again incomplete and with an opening. John 'Bloodclot' had been in a band with me called M.O.I. for a quick minute in the early '80s, which was a kind of local NYHC all-star band. We had kind of a D.C. sound (FAITH / VOID / MINOR THREAT, but much faster). But with a NY edge. It was me on drums, Doug Holland from KRAUT on guitar and Nunzio from ANTIDOTE on bass as well as John, who had been in another band called BLOODCLOT, which featured him and two other BAD BRAINS roadies (Jerry Williams, who was there soundman, Alvin and Ted, now known as blues guitarist 'Poppa Chubby').
"Me and John, we lived in squats together and stole food from the fruit stands and health-food stores to eat. We hustled and did whatever to get by, and as far as 'getting over,' he kinda took me under his wing, ha ha ha ha, he was a total 'get-over.' Ha. His nickname, 'Bloodclot,' kinda went along with the fact that he was a get-over, ha ha ha.
"Soon after he joined, we recorded a series of demos, one of them now called 'Before the Quarrel'. Not too long after that, Doug Holland would join the group, splitting KRAUT and adding the last layer of sound and texture to the CRO-MAGS. He was a sick lead player and he really added the last ingredient to the band. A now-complete package with me, Parris and Mackie, we had a great rhythm section, a wild frontman, and now with Doug, we had real leads!!! We were like a super hardcore group!!! With that we recorded 'Age of Quarrel' .
"Like I said, once upon a time, we were one of the strongest bands out. Yes... We were a bunch of freaks, and we didn't always get along. There was tons of in-fighting within the band, tons of contradictions and hypocrisy within the group on so many levels. But for some reason, musically and on stage, it worked.
"So anyway, here we are... 'The Age of Quarrel' lineup... Parris was a great rhythm guitarist and we had good chemistry together as far as writing songs and playing went. We had very little in common as people, besides our love of music (and beer), but still we were friends and we had a common cause: music. Back in those early days, he was always in a way the odd man out of the group he definitely looked out of place. John always picked on him for being out of shape and pale, called him Casper and shit like that. He wasn't really the hardcore guy or the tough guy or the street guy, ha ha ha, he didn't live in squats or steal to eat. For him, it wasn't all about 'the streets the streets the streets,' ha ha ha, like me and John or the lyrics or the tough-guy vibe, ha ha. No, at the end of the night, he went up to East End Ave to his mom's house. He was the kid who lived with his Mom and went to school, played guitar, he didn't have that tough street edge, but nevertheless, he was a key player in the band. I think the fact that me and him were so different made us work well together and to this day he is one of the best rhythm guitarist I have ever played with. It's too bad he turned out to be a cop-calling cowardly backstabbing fuck in the end, ha ha ha. The fact that he has orders of protection against me and John and had us both arrested etc. (This prevents a full CRO-MAGS reunion from ever being possible) is just sad and pitiful.
"John, I gotta say, back in the day, he was a great frontman — an energetic ball of chaos on stage, flying all over the place diving into the crowd tripping over himself and us and the cables chords stands and anything else in his way, ha ha ha. Just really chaotic and energetic, although what he lacked any so-called 'real vocal skills,' he made up for it with his presence. He definitely added a lot to the band when he joined, and besides, it was hardcore — he didn't need to be a singer, you just needed to go off. And he did!!!
"Musically and lyrically he never was as much of a contributing member as many think. As far as writing, me and Eric wrote more then half the words to 'Age of Quarrel'. But nonetheless, he did add a lot to the energy of the band and thus helped define the image of the band. It was a lot of fun back in the day. Iin our day, we were pretty tight and had a good time together, both on and off stage. You'd always see us together being idiots. I missed him when he quit the band back in the '80s. I actually never wanted to be the singer for the band and wanted him back in those early days. That's the whole irony of the shit. Pretty funny, huh?!
"Doug was definitely one of the best guitarist in NYC he added a lot to the band. And although he joined after 'Age of Quarrel' was written, he contributed a lot to the music with his melodic leads and his sound, which helped thicken up our sound as a whole. He was the last ingredient. And Mackie, we would have never ever had that sound if it was not for Mackie. He was, and still is, in my opinion, one of the best HC drummers ever! We set the bar high with him, although he had no input on the songwriting, he had a lot to do with the sound. Ultimately, I guess we all did...
"In many people's opinion, that was when the CRO-MAGS really was at its best. Although not as musically mature as when we did 'Revenge', still that was when we were young and it was just on instinct.
"Over the years, the band went through several lineup changes and recorded a few decent to good to good to OK to shitty to great records, ha ha ha. Depends how you look at them. Pete Hines and Dave DiSenzo were some of the great drummers that followed Mackie. A lot of great players went through the band, including Rocky George from SUICIDAL TENDENCIES, and many others.
"Looking back, yes, I can honestly say, we have some good years. Of course, there was a lot of messy ones, and outright shitty ones too, ha ha ha. But ultimately, we did influence a lot of bands and a lot of people and that's more than most can say. So I guess it's all good, ha ha ha. I had good times, I traveled the world, and that's more than most people can say who came from where I did, and I am proud of some of my achievements, and I thank all the fans for all their support for all the years and it has been many years. Thanx.
"But now, without going through all the different lineups and recordings tours history etc., ill jump straight to the present... Unfortunately, the CRO-MAGS really deteriorated into a fuckin' pitiful mess. And it seems we were truly the band of quarrel. Well, after years of all the bullshit and bickering back and forth between all the former members, especially Parris, John and myself... I hereby publicly withdraw from this ongoing battle. Not only am I sick of this pitiful shit, but I am really sick of all the extra outside people who supposedly 'don't want to get in the middle,' but still somehow always seem to put or get themselves in the middle (you ALL know who you are!). All these motherfuckers need to fuck off and grow the fuck up! Especially the former bandmembers. Stop dragging each other's names, my name and the CRO-MAGS name through the mud. It's been 20 years, guys. Time for everyone to do the right thing and seriously grow the fuck up. I have kids and I could really care less about beef with anyone — John, Parris or anybody else. Regardless of Parris having me and John arrested, or John talking shit and lying about me all the fuckin' time. At this point ...it's old. Besides, remember all of the shit John talks is coming from a guy 'who had the world believing he was a Navy seal for 15 years.' Ha ha ha ha.
"Bottom line: We all got fucked over by our management, Chris Williamson, and our labels. None of us ever got paid for those records, But we all deserve our part and we all need to quit bickering and scumbagging each other and being petty, it's that simple. Like I said, I got no time to play games or have beefs with middle-age-of-quarrel ass-grown men who need to grow up! So quit being dicks, everyone! John, Parris, myself, everyone. Grow up. Parris needs settle up all this past CRO-MAGS business that he ducked out on and quit trying to fuck everybody else over and out of everything, cop-calling and trying to manipulate and monopolize the name CRO-MAGS and everything to do with it! Bottom line: he knows he didn't start the band, nor come up with the name! So I don't even know how he justifies it to himself. It's time to do the right thing, guys! And John... I extend myself to you to squash this pitiful beef and put an end to this mess once and for all. To both of you, Parris and John. Seriously. And John, after our last 'reunion' shows at CB's and the shows with the BAD BRAINS in 2000, I thought 'we both decided' that neither of us would tour as the CRO-MAGS without the other one EVER again. And we wouldn't do that without trying to get as many of the other guys involved as possible. Obviously, you didn't keep your word, and you went out as the CRO-MAGS without me or anybody else. Again and again talked mad shit about me the whole time to somehow justify your fake CRO-MAGS to yourself and I guess to the fans. Hey, look, if that's what you had to do, then that's what you had to do. It's too bad. But I hope that one day, sooner [rather] than later, all the CRO-MAGS members can resolve their differences, regardless of being friends or not. Settle up on all our shit regarding CRO-MAGS and business and merch, etc. etc., do the right thing. I see so many CRO-MAGS shirts for sale in stores and patches stickers etc. that none of us are making money from. There's so much bootleg CRO-MAGS shit out there if we could all settle our differences we can all benefit from our past instead of trying to fuck each other out of whatever we all could make if we all cleared the air. But I'm sure you guys would rather be stubborn selfish and self-righteous.
"I am not trying to nor do I have any interest in reforming the CRO-MAGS!!! Even though it would be great !!! But the only way I could ever have any interest in doing anything of the sort is if it was ALL of US! Me, John, Mackie, Doug and Parris or Rocky (of course, we all know this will never happen, ha ha ha, 'cause Parris has orders of protection against me and John, ha ha ha, like a little girl, ha ha ha, unless he's ready to be a man and fess up!). But instead of everybody scumbagging each other and cutting throat every step of the way we should just settle up and finally stop dragging each other's names and the name CRO-MAGS through the mud any longer. Like I said, guys, it's time to end the quarrel! I WITHDRAW FROM THE BEEF...
"Yo, next year will be 20 years since 'Age of Quarrel'.If we're all still here, it would be funny to get us all together do a big show. Me, John, Doug, Parris and Mackie, and do one final show. I know it would never happen. But that would be sick, ha ha ha ha ha.
"FUCK ALL THE BULLSHIT! I'm done...
"You all know how to get in touch with me. In the meantime, I got no more ill will towards any of you. My family and kids are great, HARLEY'S WAR continues and is working on a new CD, I am stronger then ever, life is good. The only thing unresolved is the past.
"All I got to say is, motherfuckers all need to grow up. I'm ready when y'all are."