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iron cross on the porch

Sab Grey, the singer for Iron Cross was interviewed by Mike, Stafford and Bob on the porch at Dischord House on March 15th. All photos by Bob. At the time, they did not have a bass player since John Dunn had left the group. He has since been replaced by Paul Cleary, formerly the singer of The Hunted and the bass player of Black Market Baby.

Bob: How did the band get started?iron cross
Sab: John Falls was the guitarist. He asked me if I wanted to be in a band with him and I said "Fuck yeah."
Mike: How old is everyone in the band?
Sab: I'm 20, Mark is 15 and Dante is 15.
Mike: Why did you kick out John?
Sab: Long story. We had an offer to play a party at HR's house, so I said "Yeah, sure. No money, no nothing." And we said that we didn't have any equipment to bring, we're just gonna bring our guitars and show up. We'll be more than glad to play, thanks for the offer, etc. So anyway, come gig time...The gig was supposed to start at 4:00 in the afternoon. Mark and Dante got there at 4:00 and there was nothing there. John and I had to go over to John's house because he had to get his wife and his bass and stuff, so we didn't get there until about 6 or 6:30 and there was nothing there when we got there, just a PA. No equipment, no drums so we're just sitting there saying "This is fucked." It's 8:00, and we've been there for two hours and we're getting kind of pissed off and Mark and Dante have been there for four hours. So then John says "Look, I'm leaving at 8:30 if the equipment isn't here" and I said, "Right, so am I," and I told that to Skeeter too. So the equipment arrives at 8:15 and John says "It doesn't matter, I'm not going to play anyway." And then all of a sudden he's going, "Well, I'm a professional bassist and I'm not getting paid for this so why should I do it?" And since when have we been a professional band? When did this start? It's funny because when we opened for the Upstarts, we hated them because they said the exact thing that he was saying, they treated us like absolute shit. And this party, it wasn't an ideal crowd. There were only about 25 people there and you know, about half of them were hippies and rastas. And John was saying "Well, I don't want to play for a bunch of hippies and niggers" and we're thinking what are we gonna do? Stand at the door and say "You can come in, you can't." You know, a gig is a gig whether you're playing some redneck bar in Buttfuck, Arkansas or The Capital Center. And his wife had been complaining before and that was the real reason he was saying that. So he says "I'm going home" and I was really mad and Dante had yelled at him earlier for his attitude, and then I said "John, if you leave now, that's it, I'm quitting. Because I'm not going to be in a band that's gonna fall apart every time your wife starts bitching and moaning." Then he got real mad, grabbed his bass, threw it in the trunk, got his wife and said "Bye." The only reason I said that I would quit is because I knew Mark and Dante would come with me. I was being a nice guy, you know. I didn't say "We'll throw you out of the band," I said I'd quit, because we've been together for two years now, me and Mark and Dante. The band has always been the three of us.
Mike: How many bass players have you had?
Sab: About 12.
Mike: How has your record sold?
Sab: It's all gone.
Mike: How many copies did you press?
Sab: 1,000.
Mike: Do you have plans for a tour or a new record?
Sab: Well, put it this way...We have to get our feet back firm first. But yeah, I definitely want to tour. Well, I'm going to England soon, hopefully by way of Ireland. There's a fanzine there called New Carnage which is a skinhead fanzine. A great fanzine, really intelligent. They think we're great. I sent them our record, we have a correspondence, and I'd like to stop over and meet the guy.
Mike: Yeah, did you get anything from England on your record? Did any copies get over there?
Sab: Yeah, we got a letter from a couple skins over there. I gave one to Charlie Harper and The Exploited got some. A lot of people don't like The Exploited, but they're very cool people, very intelligent. They were allright.
Mike: Would you classify as a Punk or as an Oi band?
Sab: Punk and Oi, it's the same thing. We're a punk band, we've always been a punk band. There's no difference. We are Iron Cross.
Mike: What about English vs. American styles of playing?
Sab: Well, obviously it's two different societies. But I like the English style of playing, it's sad to say "English style," but a lot of American bands tend to play real fast. We always wanted to play slower because this is the stuff we grew up with, the early Clash and Sham, all that stuff. I mean if the first punk band you hear is Black Flag, obviously they're going to be a bigger influence on you then if the first band you heard was the Sex Pistols or Sham. It's a question of your roots, whatever bands influence you the most.
Mike: What American bands do you like?
Sab: Effigies, Scream, of course Minor Threat, even though I see them about twice a week 'cause they practice here. Black Market Baby is the best band in the world, probably of all time. They're my favorite band.
Mike: Are they going to put a record out?
iron cross Sab: I don't know what they're doing. They got their now guitarist now. I believe they're working on something new. I don't know for sure. I hope so, because they deserve more credit than any other band. We've got the best band in the world living in town and the kids treat 'em like shit. Stuck up little bastards.
Mike: What about English bands?
Sab: UK Subs are great. The Exploited, I love The Exploited, I love their records. We opened for them, and I thought they were nice as shit to us. Very cool people and I really enjoyed it. There's loads of other British bands I like and there's loads of other American bands that I like. Well, Youth Brigade from L.A. are fucking great. There's so many that I like.
Mike: What do you think of Wattie smashing Paul in the eye with the microphone?
Sab: Wendel came up to him afterwards and said "Hey, you hit a friend of mine In the eye" and he was sorry about it. I mean, maybe it's not the coolest thing to do, to swing a fucking mike around like that, but I got nailed in the head by a fuckin mike stand, it fell over and dropped on me. But It's like,fuck it, who cares? You sit in the front and that's the risk you take.
Mike: If Wattie would just explain himself. He says that he hates The Dead Kennedys and he hates Black Flag, but even though he doesn't exactly say it, I think the reason is that if you're in England, the only American punk bands you're going to hear about are The Dead Kennedys and Black Flag.
Sab: That's exactly the reason. You notice he comes over and he sees the underground bands and the way things really are and then he says he likes Iron Cross, Kraut, Effigies...you know, underground bands. But if all you hear is Black Flag and Dead Kennedys, you're going to get a very one sided opinion. They have their own merits, but I don't particularly like them.
Mike: I don't think they're the best bands in America.
Sab: No, I don't either, but they're good...they're good bands but they're not representative of American Punk.
Bob: What do you think of people who are offended by your lyrics, like "New Breed"?
Sab: Fuck 'em. Do you see anything racist about "New Breed"? If you do, say so, because I have never seen anything racist in our lyrics.
Mike: And a lot of people get upset over your name, also.
Sab: Fuck 'em. I really do not care. We have been labeled with it. What can I say, it's not true. I mean who played bass for us last Friday? Skeeter. If he plays for us we'll buy him a little swastika shirt. Yeah right, Skeeter is a nazi! He's one of my best buddies. People have labeled us with this, and if they want to call us that because who are they? Fuck them. I mean, we've gotten so much more shit than half those assholes that don't know anything.
Mike: You've gotten so much shit but still gone on as a band.
Sab: Yeah, that's right. I thought that with John things were really clicking with the band. I was bummed out as shit when we threw him out. I was really depressed about it. But last Friday proved that we don't need John anymore because the band has been me, Mark and Dante ever since Iron Cross has been anything. Me and Dante are actually the real original members and later Mark came. When John Falls left it was so embryonic that it wasn't anything. So the band has always the three of us, and we've always stuck together. We hang out together, we see each other a lot and help each other out all the time. As long as we're together then that's fine, we can do anything. We were mad when John left, but at the same time we were thinking fuck it, we can never give up. Because to give up is to give in to all those people who have cut us down. It would be so easy to quit and start a new band, pick a new name, play the music and everyone would love it. But I'd much rather stick with the controversy. I like it, I like getting bad reviews in these little magazines of these fucking rich kids who think they know everything. And all these intellectuals, hippies, they think they're fucking great. Like certain magazines, San Francisco liberal idiots. They don't know what they're talking about and they think they know everything. If they hate me that's good because then we know we're doing something right.
Mike: Why does Maximum Rocknroll hate you?
Sab: Ask them. We had never communicated with them, I didn't even know they existed and all of a sudden issue #1 comes out of nowhere and there it is in black and white. We said "Who are these people?" We didn't know what the fuck was going on. But we've always been slagged off for some reason or another since the beginning.
Mike: Did you read the John Crawford fanzine "All The Drugs You Can Eat" about MaxRnR?
Sab: That was great. John Crawford has got my undivided attention. That was great, it was just what was needed. I've been talking to Yohannon and explaining to him everything that I thought. He was telling us "Your lyrics are so borderline proto-fasclsm" or some bullshit, which is fine. If Yohannon doesn't like me, I don't care. I don't know why he went off on some crusade and I don't know why he decided to devote 1/4 of the Minor Threat interview to slag us off. That interview was two hours long but he decided to slag us off, a band he had never dealt with. We never got a letter from them until afterwards.
iron cross Mike: Ian said that on the MaxRnR radio show, they played one of your songs and pulled it off in the middle of the song.
Sab: Yeah, Mark S. from Slum Words, a really good fanzine on the West Coast, sent me a letter which I got the night Yohannon called. And I said "I hear you pulled off one of our songs" and he said "Yeah, so?" I don't care, but I don't know what prompted him to go on a crusade against us. I really have no idea. In Issue #3 is the DC report and it says next to it "How Gross" because Ian wrote it wierd and that I believe was an honest mistake and Yohannon wrote a letter and said that it was. So I wrote back saying we appreciate you actually writing back and saying that. That was allright, etc. and then he printed that letter.
Mike: What do you think about politics?
Sab: What do I think about it? I'm not especially fond of what's going on but I do believe in democracy because it's the only system that works. It puts in a safeguard against human nature. It provides you with the ability to depose the leader, which is exactly what happenned to Nixon. He got too powerful and the people threw him out. We have that, it's not a perfect system and it never will be, but it's what we've got. At least they walk down the street with dyed hair and a leather jacket. In a lot of countries, you'd get shot for doing that.
(talk about cops and anarchy)
Sab: Put it this way, I worked at the Georgetown Theater for over a year and cops came in there all the time and D.C. cops are for the most part cool. I know a lot of the Georgetown cops by their first name. I talk to them on the street and they don't give a shit what I look like. You can't say all the cops are good or bad. I sympathize with their position. They're fucking people too. They put on a uniform and they run the risk of getting shot every fucking day. Some of them are gonna be assholes. That's natural, people are assholes. But a lot of them are trying to do a job that's not a very pleasant job, I think MDC are nice people, but I don't agree with them on a lot of things. They're too political for my views. This runs into what we were saying about anarchy...Which I don't believe in. When I was 14, 15 years old, I was an anarchist. I read the books and as I grew older I knew that it obviously could not work. There is no way because human nature does not allow for it. Anarchy appeals to your higher intellect, "You don't hit me and everything will be fine." And your basic, human instinct is to take, to hit, to fight. That's what's brought us this far. That's what's got us what we've got. Ever since the first caveman went out next door and beat the guy over the head to get his piece of dinner. We've had 3 or 4 million years of evolution now, it's going to take a lot longer to change that around than to say "O.K., Anarchy now!" and then...Instant Utopia. It's a question of evolution. A slow development which is going to take a long time. Sure, it will happen, but while Man is the way he is, it's not going to happen. People are afraid of things that they don't know, so that's why when they see punks walking down the street they give us shit. Because they're scared. It's not an average lifestyle, it's different.

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