Mouthpiece was one of the first hardcore bands I ever heard. A lot of Tim's lyrics make a lot of sense to me and because of Mouthpiece, I found out a lot about hardcore. I personally think Mouthpiece were possibly the most important hardcore band of the '90s when it kinda went off the rails for a while. It would be difficult to find someone as dedicated to hardcore as Tim McMahon. His bands and his attitude rule.
How are things in Trenton at the moment? What have you been up to since Hands Tied broke up?
In Trenton, there's really nothing going on hardcore wise. The only thing Trenton ever really had going for it was City Gardens and that club closed down in either 1994 or 1995, I can't remember exactly. The only hardcore kids left is the other Mouthpiece guys and I. Since the break up of Hands Tied, I've pretty much just kept myself busy working, taking care of my two year old Pit Bull "Sam", going to Philadelphia 76ers basketball games and working on my fanzine, XDOUBLE CROSSX.
What made you decide to go ahead with the Mouthpiece Edge Day shows and the reunion shows? Who decided where these shows would take place and who else was on the bill?
One day I started thinking about how it would be kinda fun to do a Mouthpiece reunion show, I ran it past the other guys and they were into it. I started talking to Anthony from In My Eyes, I thought if we were going to do a reunion show, it would only be fitting to do it with them. Anthony talked about creating this Edge Day show, it would be their last show and our reunion show. After we had a few problems stabilising a date for that show, we worked on getting together a weekend sort of deal. We picked five cities that we enjoyed playing in the past, picked a few newer bands that we enjoyed and made it happen.
Do you think you can look back now and be proud of the way you organised the reunion shows? Was there anything you would have changed if given the chance?
Yeah I'm definitely proud of the way everything was put together, I think it all went over very well and served it's purpose. Off hand I don't think there's really anything I would have changed. When it comes down to it, the only thing that bummed me out at all, was how kids today don't pack up front as much. All the shows were packed, it's just that the kids were more into moshing than stage diving and singing along. Anybody that's familiar with Mouthpiece knows we're not a mosh band by any means.
Did you feel a bit nostalgic playing songs like 'what remains', 'still', and 'left of you'? A lot of those songs still mean a lot to you, am I right?
I don't know that I felt nostalgic, nostalgic means to look back on something and remember it fondly, I more or less feel exactly the same about those lyrics to those particular songs. It feels like I wrote them yesterday, nothing has really changed. If they were songs that I didn't quite remember or think about and dug them up for the reunions, I guess then I would feel nostalgic. I guess it's just that the idea's in those lyrics run through my head all the time, it doesn't seem dated.
Can you tell me what some of the original Mouthpiece members are up to now? Are they still involved in hardcore and straight edge? When is the Control reunion?
First off, the five guys from the Mouthpiece 7" line up were Tim - Vocals, Jason - Drums, Chris - Bass, Pete M. - Guitar and Dan - Guitar. Out of all these guys, I'm really the only member still actively involved in hardcore. I can tell you that Jason, Chris and Dan are all still straight edge and still listen to hardcore, but none of them are currently doing any bands. As for Pete, I've lost touch wih him some nine years ago, so I have no idea what he's up to. The What Was Said LP line up change was with Pete R - Guitar and Dave - Bass. Those two guys I have lost touch with as well. Dave has done a few bands since Mouthpiece, but I know no details. As far as I know, neither of those two are still straight edge. The final line up for the Face Tomorrow 7" saw the addition of Matt - Guitar and Sean - Bass, both Pete and Dave left the band after What Was Said and Matt and Sean replaced those two. Matt I know lives in Kentucky and played in a few bands down there, one being Automatic, Matt got married and bought a house and is still straight edge and still listens to hardcore, but I don't believe he's doing anything band wise. Sean is living in Brooklyn NY, working for MTV and trying to do a band. After the break up of Mouthpiece, Sean went on to play with myself in Hands Tied, after he left Hands Tied he played in Saves The Day, since leaving Saves The Day, Sean has done a few different bands. Sean is still straight edge. As far as a Control reunion goes, that day I'm fairly sure will never come. Control was really just the name we had before Mouthpiece. We did have a few different songs, but thinking back I doubt they were any good. I guess everybody has to start somewhere.
Can you still confidently say that Chain of Strength's "True Till Death" 7" and Youth of Today's "We're Not In This Alone" 12" are still documentation of your life and an inspiration?
Yes I can definitely still say that those two records remain at the very top of my list. Both have incredible music and lyrics and still inspire me as much as they did the day they were released. One other record that sits up there along the side of those two, would be Bold Speak Out. Bold were one of the best bands I ever saw and genuinely inspired me to start a band myself.
Any new bands impress you at the moment?
Yeah there are a few new bands that I enjoy quite a bit. Running Like Thieves is a new band out of the Connecticut, New York area. Matt from Bold sings, also Biv - Guitar and Andy - Drums from Supertouch are in the band. Great band along the lines of later Bold and Supertouch sound. Another band that I love is Rival Schools, now they aren't really much of a hardcore band, but they still have that hardcore background being that Walter and Sammy are in it. Musically they aren't too far from that Quicksand sound, very emotional and powerful. Last Of The Famous are a new band out of Boston, featuring Porcell on guitar. LOTF are along the lines of a punk sound, somewhat similar to ALL. Basically it's just good, tight and sincere music with hardcore roots. A couple of other good newer hardcore bands that I enjoy would be Count Me Out, The First Step and I hear that the new Carry On LP is supposed to be pretty good, so I'll be checking that out.
How does it make you feel that Mouthpiece was the band responsible for keeping the spirit of traditional straight edge hardcore alive when hardcore was on it's knees?
I think Mouthpiece bridged the gap between bands like Turning Point, [groupe]Wide Awake, Youth of Today, Judge to bands like Ten Yard Fight, [groupe]Floorpunch and Redemption 87. It's really a huge honour to be thought of like that. Honestly, that's all I've ever wanted out of any of the bands that I have done. My goal has always been to be a good representation of all that I enjoyed about hardcore when I was growing up. I've always made sure that straight edge was a strong aspect in any of the bands that I've done, I've tried to go for the sound similar to what Chain Of Strength and Youth Of Today went for as well. Hopefully when all is said and done, I can look back on all that I have done and been proud of it all.
Have any shows you've been to ever compare to your first straight edge show at Club Pizazz, or Bold and Gorilla Biscuits at City Gardens New Jersey?
It's hard for me to say that any show since those have compared. Just being in that time period, being that age that I was and being introduced to such incredible shows and bands, very little if anything can compare. Seeing bands like BOLD, JUDGE, Gorilla Biscuits and Chain Of Strength is just something that you have to experience to truly know what it felt like. Like I said, I think it had a lot to do with that time period as well. Hardcore was so big in the late eighties, at least it was around this area. Every show I would go to usually had close to 800 or more kids. The clubs were packed and the bands at that time just seemed larger than life. Every kid in the crowd seemed to know every lyric by heart and when you got a chance to pull off a stage dive, it was an amazing feeling. It just seemed like at one certain time, everything about hardcore was perfect and I was sitting there right in the middle of it. Getting records back then was so exciting because you really had to hunt stuff down or order it through the mail. I remember ordering the Judge 7" and Wide Awake 7" plus a Judge shirt and Project X shirt from Schism. When that package came in, I can still recall where I was standing in my house and what was going through my head. Put all of that into consideration, then picture actually seeing JUDGE play for the first time, it was all just so overwhelming and went by so damn fast. When I look back on it now, those shows were undoubtedly the best I've ever seen and will probably ever see. That's not to say that I haven't seen great shows since those or that I will never see a great show again, it's just saying that they will most likely not compare to what I had experienced in the past.
You never made it to Europe with Mouthpiece, do you look back upon that with regret? How was the HandsTied European tour?
Honestly, I don't really look back with regret on not touring Europe with Mouthpiece. When the band was together, we did have a few opportunities to go to Europe, but they all ended up falling through. I'm sure they could have been awesome and I would have liked to do it, but regret is not the words I'd choose to call those feelings. Going to Europe with Hands Tied was perfect. Most of the shows we played were some of the best shows I'd have ever played and maybe will ever play. The time just seemed right when Hands Tied went, yeah the time could have seemed the same had Mouthpiece went, but I will never know that. The bottom line is, I did make it to Europe at one point, I had an incredible time and I wouldn't have changed a thing.
Can you tell me about the member changes in Hands Tied and why Espen and Ed played the reunion shows not other Mouthpiece dudes? Why did Hands Tied call it quits?
Hands Tied started with Sean, Pat, Ed and myself. After the demise of Mouthpiece, Ed and I had talked about doing a band. We had this vision of what exactly we wanted the band to sound like and exactly what we wanted to do with the band, the problem was that we didn't have the other members to complete it. Sean had played bass for Mouthpiece and just like myself, after Mouthpiece broke up, Sean wanted to start something new. Sean ended up jamming with this friend of his named Pat. After a few practices, Sean played me a tape of what Pat and him had been doing. To my surprise, I was very impressed with what had been going on and Sean asked me if I would be interested in singing for this band. I told Sean as long as I could get Ed in the band, I'd be down. Things went pretty well for awhile, but Ed and I started to realise that he and I had some different ideas than Sean and Pat and after awhile, Ed and I started butting heads with those two. Ed and I basically jumped into this project that Sean and Pat had started, where as our plans were to start something exactly like we wanted and start it from scratch with other members that had the same ideas. I guess in the beginning of Hands Tied, we thought we'd just be able to make things work, but that's just not the way it went. Sean and Pat ended up leaving the band and from there Ed and I tried our best to put together a band the way we had always dreamed of. As the future proved, very little is ever perfect and even the line up that we had thought was exactly what we wanted, seemed to fall apart. All it takes is one person to change their mind about something or have some kind of direction that they want to take the band in and it can change everything. That's basically what happened with Hands Tied. Changing members became very annoying and tiring and it just became too much to deal with. After doing bands for eight years straight, I was sick of dealing with the bullshit that goes along with it and I decided to sit back for a little while and concentrate on some other things that were going on in my life. Nothing in me changed as far as my love for hardcore, I just felt like I needed a break from doing the band thing. As far as having Ed and Espen play for Mouthpiece when we did the reunion shows in 2000, it just felt right. I enjoyed doing Mouthpiece with Jason and Chris and I enjoyed doing Hands Tied with Ed and Espen, it made for a perfect line up. Besides that, we had attempted to get Matt to come up from Kentucky to play the reunions, but he was unable to do it due to his job. As far as Sean playing bass, he had already made plans to be on the West Coast at that time, so he was out of the question. Personally I think the line up we ended up with for the Mouthpiece reunions was the best it could have been.
Can you tell me a bit about your schism-esq fascination for record and t-shirt collecting? What would be your favourites and what are you specifically looking for at the moment?
I tell you what, you just relating me with the word Schism is a real honour. If that's a word people want to associate with me, that's a good thing. As far as my fascination with the collecting of hardcore records or shirts, I'm just one of those people who sincerely enjoys collecting stuff. Whether it be hardcore shirts or horror movie memorabilia, I just love the concept of taking a deep interest in something and trying to track down everything that I can associated with it. For me it's just fun and sort of serves as a hobby. I guess at times it can be a very expensive hobby to get into, but that holds true with most hobbies people take on. Earlier on, I was really into getting every rare and not so rare hardcore record out there. These days I've kinda focused my wants on rare Revelation stuff. I've really gotten into collecting test pressings of all my favourite records. So far I've been able to find a Youth Of Today Were Not In This Alone and Break Down The Walls test pressing, a BOLD Speak Out test pressing and a Chain Of Strength True Till Death test pressing. I guess from here, what I want to do is try and find Schism test pressings and other early Revelation test pressings. My girl friend Traci has also been collecting records over the years and she too has gathered quite an impressive collection. She's got a lot of cool test pressings, stuff like The Way It Is test pressing and every Youth Of Today test pressing, plus an SSD Get It Away. There is just so much out there to find and collect that it'll keep me busy for quite awhile. The collecting of T-shirts had definitely become harder over the years. The more years that pass, the older these hardcore shirts get and the worse the quality of them becomes. What makes for interesting collecting is to find these 13 or 14-year-old hardcore shirts in mint condition, it is rare, but it has happened.
How is the first issue of XDOUBLE CROSSX coming along? What do you think makes a zine crucial?
Double Cross is an idea that I have been throwing around for close to six years now. I started putting it together and doing interviews for it back in 1996. I did an interview with Porcell while he was playing in Shelter and I also did an interview with Eric Ozenne while he was playing in Redemption 87. For some reason or another, my work on the zine slowed down and eventually came to a full halt. Last year, after Mouthpiece did our reunion shows, I decided that since I wasn't doing any bands and I still wanted to have some involvement in the hardcore scene, I'd start working on Double Cross again. Right now, I did an interview with Matt Warnke BOLD/Running Like Thieves and I have plans to do an new interview with Porcell and I'm also interviewing Tim Monroe who played guitar for Unit Pride and possibly a couple more. Interview wise, this stuff is pretty deep and in depth. I'm basically looking to get every single question that anybody has thought of or wondered about, answered in these interviews. I like the idea that both Porcell and Matt did awesome bands in the past and are doing awesome new bands now. The zine will be completely filled with good interviews, great photographs, interesting articles and other stuff along those lines. From the looks of things now, it's turning more into a book than a fanzine. It's something that I want to be perfect and however long it takes to get everything together, is however long it's going to take to get it out. I'm not going to short cut on quality so that I can get the zine out quicker. Most of the content is not something that is going to get dated over time, so I'm not worried about that. The interview I did with Matt alone was about a three and a half hour-long interview, so you can imagine how long it's taking me to transcribe it. Once this is all done and finished I just want to know that I did my absolute best and I will be able to look back on it and be proud of it. My requirements for the making of a crucial zine would be, great photos of great bands, good clean and powerful layouts, well written and in depth, interesting interviews and just an all around cool vibe. If you want to see a sample of a pretty much perfect fanzine, search for a copy of Boiling Point, the earlier issues especially. Granted technologically a lot of things have changed since 1987/88 and you can now do even better layouts and designs with today's tools, but for what they had to work with back then, it was amazing and is still amazing for today's standards.
What's going on with your new band?
The story on this new band I'm working on goes like this... Last year, Ken, Graham and Al from Better Than A Thousand got together and recorded music for a full album. At the time they recorded it they were unsure exactly what they had planned to do with it. There was talk of having Ray Cappo do vocals on it, but that never happened. After they sat on this recording for close to a year, Ken called me and asked if I'd be interested in hearing the music and possibly doing vocals on it myself. Once I got a copy of everything, listened to the music and thought things over, I decided that this was definitely something that I would like to be a part of. I had known Ken since about 1989, so we go back quite a while. I know what he's into and he knows what I'm into and in a way we both sort of share a lot of the same history. As of right now, it's kinda hard to say what exactly our plans are. So far the plans have been for me to finish vocals on the entire album, look for a label to put it out and then start playing shows. We are still in the process of figuring out exactly who's going to be in the band and who will be doing what, but I'm sure things will really start coming together within the next month or so. Musically, I kinda compare it to the later Youth Of Today sound that they were going for on the last 7". It's definitely fast and powerful hardcore and it's definitely straight edge.
Are you happy that you can look back and think of the Mouthpiece reunion shows as more than just another "reunion"?
I'm pretty happy with the way that the Mouthpiece reunion shows went down. Playing the reunion shows was not like it was playing in Mouthpiece in 1996 with 500 kids up front singing along, but it was still fun. Just getting every body together, setting up the shows, making the records, making the shirt designs, all of that stuff is just so much fun to me. I think it's cool that when you think about the Mouthpiece reunions, you don't think of us as a band that did a reunion to make money or did a reunion for any wrong reasons. We did what we did because we wanted to have fun and because the words and music that we made 10 years earlier was still just as important and meaningful to us as it was the day we started. We aren't just like every other band who goes back on our words and condemns what we did in our past, we continue to embrace it.
Any last words or anything you want to add?
Thanks for doing this interview, I had a good time answering the questions and I appreciate the interest and support. Keep an eye out for this new band that I'm working on Face The Enemy and also keep an eye out for "Double Cross" fanzine, both of which I hope will be dropping in the new year. Remember... "These two words... with me for life".