Jon Biviano; known to most with knowledge of the NYHC scene as the guitarist for Supertouch who have been around since the 1980’s. Just over a year ago I met Jon at a show in Queens where he told me about a new band he was in called Pembroke. With Supertouch making some recent big changes and Pembroke’s debut “All The Brightest Pictures” flying under some people’s radars I figured lets hit him up to see if he would be down to do an interview. Jon got back to us in early May with these answers…
Lead photo by: Angela Owens. Graphics by: Paul Turano.
1. Hey Jon, where exactly are you right now and what would you usually be doing at this time of the day if you weren't answering these questions?
Jon: Right now it is 7:07pm Thursday night. Usually I'm just in front of the computer anyway listening to music, or watching some band on You Tube. I have to wake early for work during the week so I'm headed for bed by 8:30-9pm.
<<<<< PHOTO BY: ANNE SPINA
2. Most people reading this will associate you with being the guitarist and a founding member for the band Supertouch who date back all the way to the late 80’s NYHC scene. Although there has been no official new release in over a decade there had been talk of a new Supertouch record in the works. You were recently telling me about some new developments with yourself and Mark Ryan; Supertouch's singer. Can you fill us in on what's going on?
Jon: With Supertouch, Mark has decided to end his time as singer for Supertouch. He has left the band name and the old material with me to do as I see fit. The tradeoff is he gets the songs/tracks which were finished in 2012 to do with as he wants for his future project. I spoke with Mark in October of last year (2022). The best way to explain the parting of the ways is that Mark has given me his full blessing on doing SupertouchNYC and all the old material. There was no bitterness or anger in the conversation. An amicable split. As to why Mark has moved on I can't really tell you. That's for him to share with the world if he wants to. Matt Warnke from Bold is the new singer for Supertouch.
As for the stuff being written right now, we just have 12 pieces of music somewhat arranged and not finished. Musically, it hints at all eras of the band from 1986 to the present. The band line up is myself on guitar, Matt on lead vocals, Rich Edsell on drums (he played on the “Lost My Way” 7") and Jim Boehmer on bass. Jim is also the bass player in a New Jersey band called High Speed Chase. We've had one writing session as a full band and plan on doing more in June. All of us want to record and do shows. So far, so good. No concrete plans as of yet as to where and when.
Back in 2012, we (Supertouch) recorded 8 fully arranged pieces of music with Dean Baltulonis at Wild Artic Studio in New Hampshire. The lineup was myself and Mark Ryan, with Jeremy Holehan on bass and Chris Daly (Texas Is The Reason) on drums. Writing credit goes to everyone mentioned plus Rich Edsell. Musically, we laid down a loud hard rock record very close to “The Earth Is Flat” album. These tracks Mark will be keeping for his future project. The song “I Miss Her” is one of them.
3. How did you go about asking Matt to sing for Supertouch and has anyone ever heard him do any of the old songs yet even if it is at say a rehearsal or maybe as a guest vocalist from years back where Supertouch may have shared a bill with Bold?
Jon: Matt definitely was recommended by multiple friends and I was in Running Like Thieves with Matt for about 2 or 3 years too. Loved that band. Still, I was a bit hesitant because of the way RLT had ended and I was also under the impression that Bold was busy writing a new record. I gave him a call in January to catch up and tell him what I had in mind. He was quite surprised by my news and he filled me in on what was going on with him musically. We talked again a week later and decided to do this and start writing. Our first full band writing session was the weekend of April 22nd & 23rd of this year. That's all I can tell you right now. Looking forward to our next jam in June.
4. Supertouch has not played out much in recent years. Does this new lineup give hope for things to start getting going again?
Jon: We're just writing at the moment. We all love to play live so that is the goal. For me, I definitely want to embrace all eras of Supertouch; 1986 to the present. Right now we're just in the planning stages.
JON (LEFT) WITH MARK RYAN SUPERTOUCH CIRCA 2017. PHOTO BY: ANGELA OWENS
5. Last June you released "All The Brightest Pictures" with Pembroke with you as the guitarist alongside some other seasoned NY music veterans. Can you briefly tell us a little about that band?
Jon: Pembroke was started at O’Hanlon's Pub on 14th Street in NYC. Ronnie Treasure, singer of Guns Don't Run, took me aside and wanted to talk for a minute. He put it like this: "I wanna do a new band with you." This was sometime in late 2018. Ronnie recruited Jamey Behar (bass) and Frank Zerilli (drums) from the band Lytic. We started writing sporadically through 2019 and 2020, mainly because Jamey and Frankie were involved in many other projects. We finally recorded our record in May and June of 2021. We played our first show at Bar Freda in Queens NY in November of 2021. Played a handful more shows locally with Frank until he left in August of 2022. We recruited DJ in January 2023 and have done 2 shows. Looking to do more. So, the line-up is Jamey Behar on bass/vocals, Ronnie Treasure lead vocals, DJ on drums, myself on guitar. We are a 4piece hardcore punk band from NYC.
6. How would you describe Pembroke's sound and style? When I listen to Pembroke I can hear your guitar style and there are definitely parts where I can imagine a Pembroke song being a Supertouch song.
Jon: Everyone writes in Pembroke so the sound hits from all directions. Its hardcore, its punk, its rock, etc.... From me, I've used some old material which was never used in Supertouch or any other previous project. Two examples are the music in “Know What's Up” and “I'll Be Free”. I had those riffs in slightly different arrangements in the 1990's.
7. Can you give us the backstory to the name Pembroke and also the album cover photo that shows a fictitious NYC subway station called Pembroke?
Jon: The name Pembroke was decided upon by Ronnie. He grew up in a city called Pembroke Pines, FL. We all liked the name and went with it. The front cover photo was taken at the Fifth Avenue station on the N line in NYC.
8: I see Pembroke's shows so far have been at smaller venues on opening or early slots. How does it feel starting over with a brand new band?
Jon: I've always enjoyed playing shows so starting over in a new band is no problem. We're having a good time. Outside of Supertouch, getting shows for my other bands was always a challenge.
PEMBROKE "ALL THE BRIGHTEST PICTURES" RELEASED JUN, 2022 BY HANDSTAND RECORDS
CLICK BELOW TO STREAM/DOWNLOAD OR PURCHASE ON 12" GOLD VINYL
9: Where did you grow up and what was your neighborhood like when you were young?
Jon: I was raised in Nutley, NJ in the 1970's-80's. The street I grew up on was North Road. I grew up in a neighborhood with a lot of kids. We were either playing in the street or going to the local park (Kingsland Park). Also, there was a company called ITT close by. They had a lot of property we would take our bikes onto, even though it was trespassing. We got booted out of there a few times by their security.
10: At what age did you and your friends find out about hardcore punk or metal and what was your introduction to it like?
Jon: My taste in music started with hard rock/heavy metal, introduced by cousins and kids in my neighborhood. It started with Kiss in 1975, Aerosmith a little later, then a friend introduced me to AC/DC. Same kid also introduced me to Maiden, Sabbath, Judas Priest, and UFO. There was a small group of us in my grade listening to this harder driven stuff compared to what other kids would listen to in 1980. I turned my friends on to Motorhead. I think it was around ‘81 or ‘82 when we discovered a Saturday night radio show on WMSC (Montclair State College) radio. The host was Gene Khoury, and he would play some real underground stuff. Now we're being introduced to Raven, Anvil, Riot, Accept. Eventually he played Venom and Metallica's “No Life Til Leather” demo. So, I was pretty much a metal kid in the early 80's until I met Mark Ryan in September of 1984. When I met Mark he made me a cassette tape with 3 bands: Corrosion Of Conformity, Crucifix, and a Cro-Mags live soundboard from CBGB. I still have that tape.
11: What were the circumstances surrounding you meeting Mark Ryan and did you hang out a lot outside of making music?
Jon: I met Mark in high school. It was September 1984, so I just started 10th grade, he was in 12th. Now I had heard of Mark and Death Before Dishonor, about a year earlier through a neighborhood friend named Tim. Tim was a bass player and he had tried out for DBD. I knew nothing about DBD, or NY hardcore, but Tim had gone to see DBD play at CBGB’s with Agnostic Front. I was 13 or 14 years old when I started hearing about CBGB’s and how such young people could play there. I had always read about the place, but now I was meeting someone who gigged there. Honestly, I was awestruck. I can tell you the moment I met Mark. It was a Friday at the end of the school day and I was at my locker getting whatever I needed. Mark walks up, skateboard in hand, introduces himself and asks if I'm hanging out tonight. There was this remote place near some railroad tracks in Nutley where me and my friends, as well as many others, would hang out, drink beer, do drugs, etc… We would just hang out, drink, and listen to music. Mark started introducing us to hardcore and punk. That's pretty much how our friendship began. Hanging out listening to music. Mark brought me into hardcore. Through Mark I met Carl Serio, who eventually became our first bass player. Met Steve Yu, Jimmy Yu and Mike (Judge) all in 1985. Keith Burkhart of Cause For Alarm, Vinnie, Roger, and Kabula of Agnostic Front, Raybeez and Todd Youth. I met everyone through Mark.
12: Do you remember the first album you bought? What about your first show?
Jon: The first record I bought with my own money was “If You Want Blood” by AC/DC. That must've been in 1980. I was in a local mall with my mom and walked off to the record store. I loved looking at vinyl and could do that for hours. When I came across this one with a “NICE PRICE” sticker on it and a price of $4.76 I pounced! I barely had enough in my pocket to make the purchase. Mom helped out greatly. I also remember my first visit to Rock ‘n Roll Heaven, which I think was in a mall in Woodbridge NJ. I bought a Motorhead single 7" “Over The Top”. My first concert was Iron Maiden in 1982. My first club show was Overkill and Anvil in Port Jervis, NY in 1983. My first CBGB hardcore matinee was February 1985: Leeway, COC, and Articles Of Faith.
13: What other bands have you been in besides Supertouch and Pembroke, and what did they put out?
Jon: Other bands I've been in are Running Like Thieves 2001-2005 (Livewire Records), Windfall 1999-2003 (Smorgasbord Records), Voice Or No Voice 2006-2009 (all 3 demos now available on Smorgasbord Records Bandcamp). There are some others that had no official releases.
14: Off the top of your head what 3 Supertouch shows stand out the most for any reason?
Jon: May 12, 1990. Supertouch played 2 benefits in one day. First, a WFMU benefit matinee at the Pipeline in Newark NJ. Then we drove up to the Anthrax Club in Norwalk CT for an Amnesty International benefit with Sick Of It All. Rory Krevolin put on these Amnesty benefits. We played 3 of them and they were always packed. This particular night ended bad with a huge fight breaking out, ending the show. My 3rd most memorable show was playing London, England for the first time in December of 1992. It was in the basement of the White Horse Tavern in Hampstead Heath. I'd never seen a crowd pogo to us. That was so cool. Freezing cold outside, 100 degrees inside.
15: What was the most dangerous situation you ever found yourself in while either playing a show, out on tour or attending a show as a fan?
Jon: Two incidents come to mind: First, a bunch of white power types started some BS at our first show in Philly in 1989. Show got stopped and cops had to be called. Our driver had also locked the keys in our van so we had to wait a long time to load out. Second was our bass player got arrested on the side of the highway in Sevier County, Utah in 1993. This cop could've given us a break but decided to be hard lined. Arrested our bass player for having a pipe in his backpack. Made us turn around and follow him 50 miles back to the police station to get our friend out. Tour over. Took most of our money.
16: Name 3 "radio songs" that never seem to get old to you.
Jon: Three radio songs I listen to start to finish. 1: “Won't Get Fooled Again” The Who. 2: “Unchained” Van Halen. “Gimme Shelter” Rolling Stones.
17: Any genre... can you give us 5 albums that you couldn't live without?
Jon: “No Sleep Til Hammersmith” by Motorhead, “Kids Are Alright” by The Who, “Live At Last” by Black Sabbath, “Head Injuries” by Midnight Oil, and “Greatest Hits Volume 2” by Cockney Rejects.
18: When you first started playing guitar who were some of the guitarists that you looked up to and maybe wanted to emulate?
Jon: AC/DC got me to pick up the guitar. It was more Malcolm Young than Angus. I just wanted beat out power chords when I was a kid. I gravitated towards power chord players: Malcolm Young, Pete Townsend, Toni Iommi, Lemmy and Fast Eddie.
19: When it comes to gear are you loyal to specific brands when it comes to the guitars and amps you use?
Jon: The gear I'm most loyal to are HIWATT amps and Fender Stratocasters. I bought my first HIWATT in late 1988. A buddy of mine… also a big Townsend fan, was looking through a classified ad and knew I needed an amp. He came across one being sold by someone in Bayonne NJ. We took a trip out to Bayonne one night and got to this dude's house. Long hair metal guy. Let me plug in my distortion pedal and guitar, liked the sound, bought it for $300. This amp has been with me ever since. Been all over the US and Europe. Interesting thing is: it’s a bass amp. Also, the dude selling it was the guitar player of a NJ heavy metal band called Attacker. The band logo is spray painted on the bottom of the amp and I didn't see that until many years later. I like other amps such as the Marshall 800 and Mesa Boogie Dual rectifier. HIWATT is my go to. So are Fender Strats, American made of course. I've got others: Nash Telecaster, Shecter Telecaster, and a Gibson Les Paul classic. I always go back to the Strat.
20: What do you for work and what is your day to day like at your job?
Jon: I'm a truck driver. My day is usually sitting in traffic on the BQE going back and forth from Astoria NY to Port Newark, NJ. I work for a company that imports food from Italy, so most of this stuff comes to the US by sea container. I have a class A commercial license to drive an 18 wheeler. My company also has a 26 foot box truck for smaller deliveries.
PHOTO BY: ANNE SPINA