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YOUTH BRIGADE were interviewed on June 16 by Al and Hud. The band (from left to right above [anyone have a copy of this and wanna scan in the photo?]) are Adam Stern on bass and vocals, Shawn Stern on guitar and vocals and Mark Stern on drums. They do have a younger brother, just in case they want to add a guitar or something. The Sterns have been "on the scene" for a long time, playing in such bands as the Extremes (who played the first Flipside benefit, headlining over the GoGo's!). They are also heavily involved with the BYO and are dedicated to something a lot of people overlook--doing something.
FS: Who was Youth Brigade first, you guys or the D.C. Youth Brigade?
Mark: We were Youth Brigade when they were still the Teen Idles.
Shawn: We got YB together when there was still a Skinhead Manor, so that was like the Fall of 1980. The demise of the Skinhead Manor and YB grows out of the ashes. We probably both started at about the same time, they just got vinyl out quicker. They were supposed to come out here and somehow it got started that if they came out here we'd kick their asses. So they never came out here and they broke up. We didn't say that though. We went through a lot of line-up changes. We started out as a 6 piece.
Mark: Just about everyone that lived at the Manor.
Shawn: Me, Mark, Jason, Curt from No Crisis and Kevin (Kevin quit YB just recently so he could spend more time with his wife).
FS: What are some songs about?
Shawn: One song is called "Violence" & it's about violence and it says, well, is violence something we have to do, or we are taught to do? Is it human nature or is it something we were taught, like might makes rights power... It's gonna be on the BYO compilation album. Someone almost always gets into a fight when we play that song.
FS: Do you like it that way?
Shawn: No, not necessairly. It's just kind of ironic I guess. A lot of our songs are about unity and stuff. We don't think fighting is ever gonna stop--we'd like to see it stop, but people get drunk and act like idiots and things happen. We won't stop fighting, bit I think a lot of it has to do with people growing up and being taught it's cool to fight--we're basically from animals, so I guess it's our instinct, our nature.
FS: But we're supposed to be civilized.
Shawn: That's what separates us--civilization, but it's not necessarily true. You know what's a joke? People that walk around with stickers or buttons that say "Anarchy & Peace". It doesn't make sense, you can't have peace AND have anarchy. Anarchy is like total chaos and peace is the opposite.
FS: I've never heard that slant on it, but I think they can exist together.
Shawn: How can they? They're total opposites, figure it out: Anarchy is total chaos, peace is like everything law and order. Law and order comes form civilization, what sets man apart from animals...
Mark: We're not an anarchy band.
Shawn: But we're not a law and order band either, we're like who the fuck cares? It's like there's a thin line, that's what's great about punk, you go to a show and there's a real thin line between order and total chaos and that's what makes it so exciting. That's where we are. We like to be right on that thin line, that's what a lot of our songs are about. We like to explore that.
Mark: We write songs that say what we feel and anyone else can interpret them how they want.
FS: Are you an "Oi" band?
Mark: No we're not an Oi band, we're an "eh" band cause we're from Canada!
Shawn: We're into the chant scene and we like the Upstarts and a lot of Oi bands--but if people want to call us an Oi band they can label us what they want. I don't think we sound like anybody in California and you can compare us to English bands, but we're not English, so...
FS: What do your parents think of three brothers into punk rock?
Shawn: And we have a little brother who's 13, he has a flat top. Our dad thinks it's cool. Out mom doesn't like it, she thinks it's just a passing phase. Haha, what the fuck...
FS: Where did you find the place where you live (Mark and Shawn have both apartments in a two room building with lots of room and isolation)?
Shawn: Well, me and Greg (ex-YB, now with the Salvation Army) used to live down the street frm Oki Dogs, so when we went to move in the place and it didn't have a stove and they told us to get one from this pace they were gonna tear down. And we saw the place and it was so cool and we said, why don't you rent this to us. They were gonna tear it down and that was the beginning of summer--and eventually they said if we clean it up they'll rent it to us and we said what the hell. Mark got the place across the way and we're building a studio downstairs, but it's gonna be torn down eventually.
FS: There should be some wild parties at that time...who's writing your songs?
Shawn: I wrote a lot of them and Kevin--our old guitar player wrote some of them that we still do. But now we're all working on it, cause as a trio these guys have to learn how to start singing--so it's more involved. They have to learn how to chant on key and all that stuff.
FS: What do you think of bouncers?
Shawn: Bouncers are fucked!!! But unfortunately sometimes you have to have them. Like the Palladium show (that the BYO put on) we had to hire off duty LAPD and bouncers like West security are totally fucked. There are some cool bouncers, maybe like a handful in L.A.--that have been around punk shows enough that they're not gonna hassle you because you look weird at least and just do the job...punks as bouncers are good but most of them would rather watch the show and get drunk or else they get their own power trip going...(lots more talk about good and bad bouncers)...
FS: How'd you get the name?
Mark: We started out as SS Brigade, but that was like a swing band, but we weren't good enough to play it.
FS: You guys are also in the BYO.
Shawn: Yeah but the three of as are the Youth Brigade and the BYO is something entirely different. Everybody can be in the BYO (and you can read all about it below...)
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