Up until May 18th of this year Judge was one of just a few NYHC bands from “back in the day” that had not yet returned for some kind of reunion show or tour. Having started out in 1987 the band made a huge name for themselves starting off with their 5 song 7” titled “New York Crew”. The “Bringing It Down” LP was released in 1989 and a 7” titled “There Will Be Quiet” followed before the band stopped playing in the early 1990’s. The band had a who’s who list of band members who played in such iconic New York Hardcore bands like Youth Of Today, Warzone, Gorilla Biscuits, Side By Side, Project X and more. On May 18th and 19th of 2013 Judge finally reformed as a band playing two sold out shows at the Black N Blue Bowl held at NYC’s Webster Hall. Upcoming for Judge is the This Is Hardcore Festival in Philadelphia, PA on August 10th as well as August 23rd and 24th in Germany (Berlin and Essen). Interview with singer Mike Judge conducted in June of 2013 with shout outs to Gray Muncy and Brett Beach for their help with putting this together.
IE: Let me start off by saying welcome back and thank you for putting a big charge into the hardcore scene by your return as a band. The response before and after the shows has been amazing. If you had to do it all over again would you have waited this long to do a reunion?
Mike: Yes, I waited this amount of time because this is how long it took for me to get to where, in my head, I wanted it. I wanted to walk down this road again. Once I was there, there was nowhere else I wanted to be.
IE: Who would you say is the person most responsible for bringing Judge back to the stage?
Mike: I would say Anthony (Civ-Gorilla Biscuits) and the BNB Crew (Cuz, Buske and Laurens) and also my wife. Nothing gets done without her support.
IE: In the end was getting the band back together for these upcoming shows as simple as you saying let’s do it…the time is right… or was there more to it?
Mike: When I reached out it was really simple. The first time we got together we could tell there was a lot left in the tank. At that point things fell into place.
IE: Judge will now be known as the band that turned the Black N Blue Bowl into a 2 day event due to the strong showing of ticket sales for day 1. Do you remember your reaction when you got asked to do a second show? Were you surprised?
Mike: Yeah, my reaction was “the pressure is on now”. In reality, I was humbled that people from all over wanted to see us. So adding the second day was cool. It made it so most everyone who wanted to, got to see us.
IE: What was going through your head just before walking on to the Webster Hall stage on that first night back? Any nervousness, anxiety or anything like that or was it more like riding a bike and getting back on?
Mike: There was a bunch of feelings. Pride, anxiety, fear…everything all at once. It wasn’t until the second or third song where it felt like I never left.
IE: Would you say you were more relaxed or was it easier for night two?
Mike: Night 2 I felt the same, although I had a slight feeling my voice would give out.
IE: Was Civ from Gorilla Biscuits joining you on stage at the BNB shows something you talked about beforehand or was it more spontaneous?
Mike: I asked him last minute, but in my mind I knew I wanted him to. It was my way of thanking him.
IE: You guys hit the Webster Hall stage and sounded pretty tight for a band that had as many years since your previous show. What was the bands practice schedule like leading up to BNB?
Mike: Well, Sammy lives on the west coast now, our rehearsal schedule was Sammy would fly in on a Friday; we would jam Friday night, Saturday night, and Sunday morning. We did that 4 or 5 times.
IE: What was that first practice with everyone in the same room together like? Where were the practices held?
Mike: Our first was in Manhattan, Funkadelic, I think. We kind of filed in one at a time. We did a little catching up, and then it was on. We started “Take Me Away” and we knew it was gonna be a good time after that.
IE: How would you rate your performances over the two nights?
Mike: The first night was about as good as it gets. I knew from where I was standing we sounded great. What made it perfect was at the end, “NY Crew” with Anthony (Civ). I asked last minute but during the song Richie Birkenhead (Underdog, Into Another) grabbed a mic also so it was the three of us, it couldn’t have been more perfect. He was in Youth Of Today when I was there. After all these years, it was awesome.
IE: The crowd response from both days was insane with pile ons and stage divers going crazy. You were in the middle of everything for two nights with I’m sure hundreds of people trying to share the microphone with you. How was it waking up that Monday morning after the shows were done? Did you feel banged up at all?
Mike: I was banged up Saturday into Sunday. Monday, I was just riding the feelings that it was a long wait and a lot of screaming in rehearsal rooms. All that work was to make sure Judge was still good enough to carry the weight of the two shows in N.Y.
IE: Have you seen or heard of some of the newer Judge merchandise being flipped on Ebay just days after the show. Some for more than double what you were selling it for at the show. What’s your take on that when you see it? Shocked? Flattered maybe? Other?
Mike: I’m never flattered by someone taking advantage of someone else by using mine or my bands name. Especially knowing that the merch was gonna be put up in the web store.
IE: The hardcore community can look forward to seeing Judge at the This Is Hardcore Fest (PA) in August as well as the Core Tex Fest in Germany. What other plans are there for Judge... if any… coming up past the shows we already brought up in August.
Mike: There’s stuff being talked about. I know I want to go out to Cali. The O.C. was like our second home. We have a lot of friends there, so I can’t wait.
IE: Your lyrics and songs meant so much to you and they had a lot to say. What about the present? If you were going to sit down and write lyrics these days what kind of topics do you think would come out?
Mike: I couldn’t say. Lyrics don’t come to me that way. I can’t sit down and say “this is what I’m writing about”. When the time comes, they just come out.
IE: Can you see Judge moving forward with even more shows or do you feel this is just a summer 2013 thing or have you not really made your mind up yet?
Mike: Judge is a working band. I want to write and record. The gigs will come.