Friday, July 9, 2010

Eddie "Leeway" Sutton Interview

1.How did you first get involved in Hardcore? Before Leeway would you have considered yourself a typical hardcore kid that liked to go out to shows, dance hard, and follow the scene in general?

I moved back to Queens, NYC in Dec,1980 after spending several yrs in Suffolk County, Long Island. I spent my first night back in NYC the same night John Lennon was shot/killed. During the winter, '81 I met members of KRAUT, and I was turned onto HC (BAD BRAINS changed my world)...mainly american bands(Cali bands, NYHC, and DC/Boston bands), some UK punk, and went to my first show that summer of 1981. I was a typical HC kid. I got to see AF (Roger Miret's first show), Murphy's Law (first show as well), Bad Brains early on, and bit by bit I was spending my nights and mornings in downtown Manhattan, LES, and on road trips with KRAUT. Dancing was key to the lifestyle. I fractured my ankle I guess in '82 at a MEATMEN show. They were playing 'One down-3 to go' when it happened. Brian Baker, and Lyle Pressler of MINOR THREAT were playing with TESCO VEE at the time.

2. Favorite Leeway album and why?

Favorite LEEWAY album is OPEN MOUTH KISS. To me it proved how much I progressed oer the previous 3 LEEWAY records. Solid song writing and my skills showed I was composing melodies, harmonizing skills that proved myself a bonified songwriter/vocalist.... a solid professional lp all-round.
I am grateful that the first 2 Leeway records hae become classics. It was my HC heart all out with a crossover sound(I'm humbled to know there's a fanbase of kids younger than my songs). ADULT CRASH was only half good compared to BORN TO EXPIRE, DESPERATE MEASURES,and OPEN MOUTH KISS. OPEN MOUTH KISS made the complete LEEWAY progression for me at that place in time. Recording, in my opinion is about capturing a moment in time, and we captured time for an eternity. It's been proved timeless, thanks to fans, and the people inolved in this thing of ours, HC

3.Most hardcore vocalists scream and growl as opposed to actually sing. How did you figure out that you had actual singing talent and what are some of your influences as far as that goes?

I knew I wanted to play/sing as early as 5 years old. My first record was from the JACKSON 5 (ABC album). . I knew I could carry a tune early even though I'e been partially deaf in my right ear since infancy. Just like anyone else, I sang along to my favorite music. I'm an old-timer so it was ZEPPELIN, THIN LIZZY, SABBATH, VAN HALEN (stuff like that for example), and others as years went by. I noticed early on in hardcore that the California bands were making songs with melody, so I used that approach within my style. Instead of always growling or screaming I tried to carry a tune. It's more of a challenge to actually sing and come off as a man. Bob Marley sang with a tender approach, but he never lost his masculinity. That there is the challenge. Sing, and be a man instead of sounding like that Perry dude from JOURNEY. I made sure I was an individual musically. I NEVER wanted to emulate someone else. I'm a true believer in BEING YOURSELF instead of being one of "Il malandrini" (italian expression for "wannabes")

4. I know you're into Hiphop/Breakdancing, how did this interest come about especially the breaking? Do you feel like Hardcore and Hiphop have things that tie them together, or are they completely seperate scenes and should be treated as such?

Hip Hop and breakdancing(was'nt good at it) are part of the street culture as Hardcore is, so they'll always go hand in hand.

Before Leeway I was doing RAP(what it was called) in '82 doing GRANDMASTER FLASH & the FURIOUS FIVE music at a local bar in Astoria for free drinks with the weekend DJ. I have'nt liked hiphop since '91 (it's all toy to me)because I believe it's irresponsible lyrically. They talk too much shit and youngbloods get influenced into becoming mutts. I will always talk about the streets as stories to learn by, but THEY seem to come off as informants and RATS in my opinion.

5. Tell me about your new project TruthandRights...who's in it, what kind of sound are you trying to go for etc. Also, how did you come up with the name? Are you planning to release material with the band or is it sort of a part time side project that you're doing for fun?

TRUTHandRIGHTS is for real. DIMI (Crown of Thorns, Skarhead, etc.) is on drums, ZACK and REY are the guitarists of AGENTS of MAN as well as other bands, and JOHN who played on AGENTS first EP is n bass. A true solid group of musicians behind me. At the end of April we will release 5 songs we are currently recording, but they will not be downloadable, you'll have to go to our myspace page to listen; . We want to gauge the response as we finish 5/more songs to release a full length at the end of the summer. It will be released on my label, BOUY ENTERTAINMENT.
We went through a bunch of names when we recorded, then scrapped 5 songs last year. When I played the music to an older friend who followed Leeway(and all indie music) said to me I was always known for singing truth and rights (an expression/style in the reggae community). That was it, we now had a name. We will not try to sound like our previous bands,but some of that will naturally come out, but what happens, happens. We have an old-school approach as well as working on more expansive sounds since we're all known for it in our previous bands. We have a good thing going on now since we've been jamming for over 3 years now. It takes time to have that certain groove and instinctiveness on any level you strive for. You can put 5 great musicians together, but it does'nt always come off, but I can gaurantee that this band will be something for the history books. I'm feeling this inspiration that sends chills up my spine like I did when I first started doing Leeway. When my music sends a chill up my spine I know it's a beautiful thing since I believe in what I do, giving it everything I got, and my taste/skills are in tune with this thing of ours.

6. Any chance of either Leeway or TruthandRights touring?

TRUTHandRIGHTS will start off doing shows this summer, and then short tours, etc. ,but LEEWAY is in the past as far as a group (for me). I've lost respect with the boys I played with, but it's also about moving on for me, I play with real men, and they don't live with their mommies or rely on parents (Mike Gibbons is a court officer who was the only one who paid for his own condo). I lived this band 24/7 and I struggled to maintain a roof over my head when I was at rock bottom.
I fully intend to tour SOLO with solid musicians behind me and I will do a LEEWAY set as well as other music. I want to ad more to the songs so it's not a lame reunion act. It will be a solid performance.

7.What are some of your observations on today's Hardcore scene? Is it just a watered down version of what was happening 20 years ago, do you think it's still relevant? In what ways do you think Hardcore has progressed/regressed?

In many ways, and as before, this thing of ours has always had good or bad. Watered down? Maybe, but it's still relevant. I would like to see more old-timers embracing newjacks and show them the way. We were all newjacks, misfits,outcasts, and wet behind the ears once. I see a lack of integrity in the sense that we orginally came into this a misfits and outcasts who wanted no part of trend or conformity, yet this is all over the HC communities worldwide. On many levels it is trendy, and full of conformity with some who act as if their elite. It's very Orwellian if you get my point, and that has to change for the better. We also have new listeners coming in all the time, and I don't want this to become an oldies themed music like Doo-Wop or some shit, and simply all about reunions. Make some fuckin new music. IN THAT SPIRIT I CALL EVERYONE OUT. Bands would'nt be shit without the people who come to see them, yet they act as if they are better than you (the audience). Most don't even respect their audience.
You notice that I no longer call it a scene? It's because unity has been watered down in many locations. A "scene" is a local happening, so in relevance make it HAPPEN again. To me, it's this thing of ours.

8.What kind of a role did zines play in the "Classic" NYHC scene?

Zines are a big part of this, but today we also have the internet to spread the word. It's an outlet for others to participate who don't have a band or work at a record store, etc.. I believe it's a showing of passion which is key for anyone who is a part of our music world.

9.In one of your posts on the Bridge 9 board, you stated that a lot of old bands don't have respect for their fanbase, can you give me an example of this?

I made the point earlier. Some obviously show that they ain't got the heart no more, and have no respect for the people who come out to see them. Most of the reunion acts, please. These kids are better off staying at home, putting their ipod on, and watch your Dad mow the fucking lawn (it's that lame to me). I understand some never got to see a band before, and it's great nostalgia. Though nostalgia to me sounds like Old Timer's Day at Yankee stadium or some shit. Granted, I'm old, but fans/audiences deserve fresh, new music. I would not have come back if I could'ne do it right. I would hang it up. I always gave this thing of ours EVERYTHING I GOT and if I could'nt do it as well as younger frontmen/musicians I would call it a day.

10. Do you listen to newer/modern hardcore bands? If so who are some of your favorites?

I listen to various bands and styles.... to much to really pinpoint anyone. I am really into the bands that my band has played in. AGENTS OF MAN are a big influence over the last 4+ years. HOMICIDAL is a big part of
our crew and will be with us often performing when TRUTHandRIGHTS plays shows. Part of a collective package you could say.

11.What's your opinion on Gangs/Crews in Hardcore?

Look, gangs and crews are a part of society, and this thing, HC. I see a lot of knuckleheads from gangs/crews who take their anger/issues out on others, but then there are stand up men who are also in the life. I just don't want to see innocent victims hurt like a new kid at his first show, dances and hits a guy who gets bent outta shape and hurts him. We lose another fan who ends up afraid to go to a show. Why are you dancing if your ego can't take a fucking smack? What do you expect being in the pit? A square dance? This is'nt DANCING WITH THE STARS. We all need to check our egos at the door. Then maybe there will be less problems.

12.. Merauder Demo....did you like the way it came out or is it something you'd rather forget? (Personally I think it's awesome)

I'm glad everyone got it for free even though it's of poor quality. I never "auditioned" and I quit due to Century Media. I busted SOB's ass telling him I'll join the band if you spell it MARAUDER, properly. We had the right passion. The problem was Century Media did not want to compensate me for time/money.I spent good money transcribing their contract, and they also expected me to sign away half my publishing. Century Media's owners can get under my balls and catch my ejaculate on their faces. They still owe me money from 4 years ago when SHADOW'S FALL did MARK of the SQUEALER. You should all contact them and tell them how fucked up it is to not respect recording artists that get exploited. There's another person who owns a record label, and I intend to out him, and fuck his ass up. I have a blog that will be out soon called "The EDDIE LEEWAY SHOW" which will cover a variety of things (Organized Crime news/stories, calling out HC people who are deserved to be outted for what they're doing as well as recollections of my life stories). My intention is to work on my writing skills and be published in a literrary(sic) level since I am an accomplished lyricist/songwriter.
I'm really thrilled the MERAUDER demo of 1998 can be accessed for free, and it's been recognized for what it was....thanks everyone, even if you hate it I'm humbled at the positive response. The more popular you get and people like you, also you're just as disliked/hated. I've grown my thick skin decades ago.

In closing I want future bands to know how important it is to show your INDIVIDUALITY instead of trying to be your favorite HC band. It's your time up there. Be who you are, and you'll get more respect.
Audiences and fans of HC, DON'T SETTLE FOR LESS. I'm here because of you, and I would never give you LESS THAN ALL BECAUSE YOU DESERVE IT and you are the ones who make this thing of our so great and strong. It's truly an honor to be a part of this for close to 30 years. I am humbled
....and to all the haters and jealous fools. I eat you for any meal of the day. Your bitter, jealous minds and green eyes fortify me like sustenance.

This was originally going to be published in The Night Owl #9, but I've been taking a break from print stuff to focus on the blog. Thanks to Eddie for a good interview, you can check out TruthandRights at:

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