CRAZY EDDIE are an upcoming hardcore punk band out of New York City who got their start midway through 2017. Their debut release came out in May of 2018 and featured 15 tracks of old-school NYHC flavor with some punk rock vibes tossed into the mix. Since that debut the band has played the majority of their shows locally opening up all over NYC’s 5 boros while slapping their Crazy Eddie stickers on walls at every stop along the way. They seem to take pride in the fact that they offer their music for free and are obviously just doing this for the love of the music as you will find out while reading this interview which took place with the entire band during the Corona Quarantine Lockdown 2020 in NYC. All via email of course! Crazy Eddie is: Chucky Brown- vocals, Lenny Bednarz- guitar, Kevin Smith- bass, and Jason Madrock- drums. Their brand new EP titled “Eddie Goes To Night School” is out TODAY and can be heard by clicking the link below. Photos in collage (above) and live shot (below) by: Michelle "MMM" Mennona, Graphics by: Bas Spierings.
IE: What's up guys? I wanted to start off with some Crazy Eddie current events. How are you guys making out living in NYC and dealing with quarantines in this new Corona world? What are your day to day routines like now as compared to before the outbreak? How many toilet paper rolls are currently in your closet and don’t lie!
Jason: I’m in Queens. The epicenter of this outbreak in NYC. Ya know, the World’s borough! Home of the Ramones, yadda, yadda yadda. Lenny’s only about a half mile or so away from me. It’s definitely surreal. I’m a teacher and schools getting closed was just, woah. This is serious. That first week schools were closed for students, the staff were actually called back in on staggered days to disinfect our classrooms on 2 different days. I went on the first day, and then decided I’d rather play it safe and didn’t go back the second time. I don’t think I should have gone back in at all. As far as my daily routine, I’ve drawn a picture every day of school for my classes over the last five years and that hasn’t stopped. Instead of using dry erase markers at school, I’ve been using my iPad to draw them digitally instead. I’ve also been making some hopefully pretty entertaining “read aloud” videos for my class. It is definitely a change of pace to record these things and put them out into the world as opposed to just reading in the classroom. Being a teacher I suppose is often like being an actor as well. My first read aloud I think only took me 7 takes. By the time this viral outbreak runs its course I’m likely to have a serious collection of videos for YouTube. I also just drew the new album cover for the “Eddie Goes To Night School” release this weekend. Beyond that I’ve got tons of house repairs/cleaning projects that need to get done to keep me busy. Hopefully I’ll read through some good books as well instead of just endless movies/television. Life goes on. Also I’ve got like a half a Costco size package of toilet paper from whenever the last visit there was from before any of this went down. And then I got one more 20 roll pack I got at my local supermarket last week. Good to go for a while! Stay safe out there.
Chucky: As for me, I'm still able to work so I guess I'm "essential”. I'm taking it easy day by day. On my days off I spend time by watching movies, documentaries, jamming on my bass guitar, read books, draw cartoons, play video games and spend more time with my daughter. As for the toilet paper I'm good but if I ever run out I'll just wash my brown ass in the bathtub. I do miss going to shows on weekends… hopefully this blows over real soon.
Kevin: Well, I’m the only member who doesn’t live in NYC. I’m way out in South Jersey. Being active duty military I’m still working… that machine doesn’t stop. Funny thing is I actually had stocked up on TP before any of this so I have about 15 rolls of toilet paper. LOL.
Lenny: Well just before the shit hit the fan, I got laid off from my job. But in my field (union ironworker) layoffs are just part of the job. So I am kinda glad it happened. But it sucks, just dealing with it because getting stressed isn't gonna change anything. I got more than enough doo doo paper. And if push came to shove I’m pretty sure I can over power some neighbors for theirs.
IE: Your debut release came out in May of 2018 and was titled “Eddie Goes To College”. Now comes word of a new EP titled “Eddie Goes To Night School”. Please tell us about it.
Kevin: The new EP came together rather quickly. Lenny and Jason pretty much wrote all the music. Lenny is a prolific writer and tends to put things together rather quickly. It’s a continuation of the first release. It’s going to have 5 songs. Song titles will be: “Bored With Life”, “Is What It Is (New York)”, “Welcome To The Show”, “Who’s To Blame”, “The Ballad Of Cheech & Chong”. It will be released via Bandcamp and all the usual ways you get your digital music and it will be FREE! We will be releasing physical versions via Rockin’ Rex Records. That will be later on in the year though.
Lenny: We recorded once again with Andy Guida at Six iii studio in Queens. Basically the band recorded live and Chucky did his vocals after. All and all I think we did the whole record in about 5 hours. Andy is very easy to work with and gets our brand of humor and can roll with the punches. We just went in there and got it done. One thing I’ve learned over the years is just go in and get it done. No need to waste time. But definitely glad we did it before this whole social distancing happened. As far as physical goes Tony Rockin’ Rex is an old friend and wanted to get involved, but again the world took a drastic turn and right now everyone in survival mode. Also wanna give props to the Rev Nicky Bullets from The Car Bomb Parade, who came up with a couple of verses for the song ‘Is What It Is”. He really helped set the mood for that song.
IE: You guys have already had your unofficial (or official) mascot Eddie go to college and now night school. Is the plan to keep having him go places in your titles and if so what are some ideas that come to mind for his future travels?
Lenny: Maybe jail, rehab, the weed spot or trade school. The possibilities with Eddie are endless.
IE: Who is the person who originally drew your Eddie mascot? Later on there was a sort of reset where you guys gave him a full body holding a 40 ounce that ended up on some t-shirts. Tell us about how Crazy Eddie came to be the band name but also how the concept of Eddie the mascot came to be and now his evolution with the new EP’s artwork?
Jason: Chucky’s tattoo artist drew up the original sketch where the cartoon face from the old Crazy Eddie store chain’s t-shirt and hats and changed it up into the hardcore punk rock cholo character. I actually think that the store actually uh, shall we say borrowed? Yeah that’s it… they “borrowed” that cartoon character from Robert Crumb. After we printed the first run of stickers and were planning on making shirts, I realized the art we had wasn’t going to look right at a larger size. My friend and illustrator/graphic designer, Barry Chesser was brought in to redraw the image digitally and make it uniform and the correct resolution for printing shirts, banner, pins, and of course more stickers. For the second shirt design, with the body and 40oz, Lenny reached out to his longtime friend, Steven Huie of Fly Rite Tattoos in Brooklyn. We wanted a new image, this time for the back of a shirt and what better fits than Eddie with a 40oz and flippin” the bird. So finally it’s new recording time, and I had to get in on the action. I haven’t drawn an album cover or even a shirt design in something like 20 years for the first and a decade for the latter. So when the new album title idea came up and we started discussing cover ideas, one of my first ideas was to have Eddie sitting at a desk and having like a thought bubble just filled with his problems, negative crap about the world, etc. I think I was thinking of something like the cover of Neurosis’ “Pain Of Mind” album, but more comedic/cartoonish. So basically the cover is Eddie kicked back at a messed up, beaten old desk, his pencil point broken, drinking a 40, with the album title filling up most of the cover in graffiti style bubble lettering. It started with a pencil sketch and then I inked it all digitally on my iPad. It’s really cool doing that because the possibilities are just about endless. I can add layers upon layers. The biggest problem is knowing when to call it quits and just say that’s it. No more. As far as the band name itself, well that was Lenny who brought it up. It totally has the 1980’s NYC connection because of the old shady electronics chain. It was easy to remember. Lol and uh… yeah. There’s something else but that’s Lenny’s story. Thank you for reading my essay.
Lenny: It was a brand of angel dust that was sold on 116th Street not too far from where I grew up. I figure it’s up to the listener to make that choice of which one we are named after… the store or the drugs. I lean towards the dust, hahaha. But for real it just reminded me of Old New York that we all grew up in.
Chucky: The artist who drew the original mascot "Cholo Eddie" is a longtime friend of mine, Dave Borjes. He has done artwork for a bunch of bands (Album covers, logos, fanzines and flyers) and also is a tattoo artist. His work can be seen on Instagram and Facebook.
PHOTO BY: STEVEN J. MESSINA
IE: On the new EP there is a different/weird cover song that you guys are calling “The Ballad of Cheech and Chong”. Tell us how this song ended up being on the new EP and for the younger readers out there or those not in the know please explain the significance of Cheech and Chong movies when you were a teenager.
Jason: I think it was Lenny’s idea originally to cover this song. I think he probably threw it out to me as a joke at one of our weekly afternoon rehearsals. We looked it up on YouTube and said, ok, we can make that into a punk rock song. The song of course actually being “Mexican Americans” and “Beaners” by Cheech & Chong from “Cheech & Chong’s Next Movie.” So really technically it’s 2 covers. We knew the second part was going to be heavier and we just kept on jamming on it. Going into the studio we knew the direction it was gonna take and then we just threw down. That song was just the one take of music. As far as Lenny singing it, I don’t think I was quite prepared for how good and funny it was gonna come out. And of course for the ending we had to all jump in with the gang vocals and then it was just talking trash and acting the fool to finish it off. It’s ridiculous
Kevin: Cheech & Chong movies should be required viewing. These guys were way ahead of their time in their movies. Growing up, Cheech & Chong movies were things which you watched and wondered if you’d ever live these moments as a pot smoker. (Yes, we had MANY moments) This song came together as a joke between Lenny and Jason and it just became a song. Lenny took the lead singing this one. A lot of people don’t know but Lenny can sing and is very good. Even recording the vocals was fun on this one. Lenny took the lead but we all contributed in some ways vocally.
Lenny: Well first and foremost if you haven't seen any Cheech & Chong movies you're missing out. That's all I can say about that. For my generation and the one before mine it was a sort of a rites of passage to spark up and giggle your fuckin ass off at those flicks. Now for how the song got on there, not really sure, in this band things kind of happen.
WATCH Cheech & Chong’s “Mexican American’s” from the movie “Cheech & Chong’s Next Movie”
PHOTO BY: RICH ZOELLER
IE: Your top 3 stoner/booze glorification movies are?
Chucky: “Friday” is my all-time favorite stoner flick, I was always a fan of Ice Cube, and how can you not like Chris Tucker as "Smokey"? .... he's hilarious! “How High” is my second favorite, both Method Man and Red Man are like the modern day "Cheech & Chong". Last but not least is the movie “Halfbaked”. If you haven't seen it, then you are not a true pothead .
Kevin: Cheech & Chong “Up In Smoke”. I mean weed and music in one movie? What more do you need. “How High” with Method Man and Red Man. Man, this movie has some of the best one liners. Plus we have lived many of the things in this movie. And “Friday”… this is arguably the new Cheech & Chong. Even though the subsequent movies diverted from the original... that movie is just an instant classic.
Lenny: “Up In Smoke”… just because it’s a must. “Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas”… Kevin and I have many times tried to duplicate the drug and alcohol intake of that movie… we’ve come close a lot in the past and could write books on the adventures we have gotten ourselves into but I think if we really did it on that level we would have died. “The Lost Weekend”… it’s a film that came out in 1945 and is about an alcoholic writer and was based in my old neighborhood of Yorkville. I guess it reminds me of a lot of people I grew up with let’s just say.
Jason: I plead the fifth.
PHOTO BY: MICHELLE MENNONA
IE: I saw Crazy Eddie’s first show at Saint Vitus in Brooklyn opening for Crown Of Thornz and Outburst. Chucky, you came out on stage wearing a lucha wresting mask and wore it the entire set! It would become sort of a thing where you would wear it when Crazy Eddie would play but then there were shows where you didn’t wear it and then it came back into the fold at later shows. What made you decide to go with it in the first place and what are the deciding factors if it gets worn or not worn for any particular show?
Chucky: I only own 4 lucha masks. My dad was a big time Lucha Libre fan and I grew up watching wrestling with him. When I do put on my mask, I become a different person, kind of like an alter ego. I usually put on my mask depending on the show or the type of mood I'm in. I don't want people to think that when I do wear it that it's some kind of gimmick.
IE: How many shows has Crazy Eddie played so far, where are some places you have played and how far away have you traveled to play?
Lenny: To date we have played 20. Basically we’ve played all 5 boros, New Jersey, Long Island and the furthest we've gone so far is Philly. We try to do at least one a month, sometimes 2… it depends. The last thing we wanna do which I see a lot of bands do is over play the same areas month after month.
IE: What are some of the shows you have played with this band so far that immediately jump out in your memory for whatever reason?
Lenny: My wife will fuck someone up in the pit, hahaha. I gotta say the first time we played A7. The place just went nuts. Up to that point we've had some people going off here and there but the 2 times we've played there the energy in the room was electric The history of that room plus all of those who have come before us to play there. I don't know, there's just an energy that place has.
PHOTO BY: MICHELLE MENNONA
IE: Lenny and Chucky, the two of you have made contributions to the hardcore punk scene in previous bands but more recently also with media related stuff. Can you tell us about Chucky Brown’s Hood TV as well as Conversation And Cocktails?
Chucky: I’ve been doing CBHOODTV since 2012 and continue to do so. All sites/pages are currently active. Slowly but surely I'm still in the process of digitizing videos of footage I've taken from the 1990's. Make sure to follow and subscribe on Facebook, Intagram, and You Tube. Still focusing on the very best in underground music!
Lenny: The last few months have been crazy for me, I do the “Conversations and Cocktails” vlog when I'm in the mood or time opens up. I do it for fun, not a money thing or a fame thing. I hope once this shit is over with I can do more. I do it very casually. So hit me up people if you wanna get down.
IE: Your “Eddie Goes To College” release from 2018 was only released digitally. Is the band considering putting it out in some kind of physical form at any point?
Lenny: We'd love to release it on vinyl at some point, but there is going to be a limited CD run of the EP and we plan to put the full length on that as bonus material.
IE: One thing I really respect about this band is the fact that you guys just play your music, release free recordings and have paid your dues sort of speak opening many smaller DIY shows without playing up the fact that members of this band have been in a bunch of noteworthy NYHC acts. To me it is apparent that this band truly does what you do for fun. Can you get a little more into detail on the way this band goes about its business?
Kevin: The bands we have been in were all great bands. They left their marks on the scene and hopefully we were able to reach and touch people in a positive way. We all love music and are fans of music and the bands we play with. There isn’t an ego in terms of “well I was in this band so you owe me this”. To even think this way is IMHO very anti-NYHC. One of the things which makes this scene is how there should be no egos and the use of “fame” to put yourself ahead of others. We go out and play because we love to play live. Music is ingrained in the DNA of every member of Crazy Eddie. The scene has given us so much love and support in the past from the people to the bands. We want to give something back. We feel as a collective that we want to give NYHC a bit of her past back. We can always look to the future and its growth while acknowledging her roots and where the scene started musically. We just want people to enjoy the music, support the scene and go to shows… make it down to A7 when this whole Corona Virus craziness goes away. Support the local bands doing it week in and out. The scene isn’t just the bigger acts, it’s also the smaller acts injecting life into the scene which help keep it afloat. We love the fans who have supported us and everyone who has come out and supported. You guys make us who we are.
Lenny: First off Chris, thank you. There have been people in our corner from day one and you are one of them. Also Kevin basically said it best. At this point in our lives we are all in our 40’s. I have NO delusions of grandeur about going on tours, getting rich or famous from playing music. In my late teens to my mid late 20’s… yes, I did have those dreams. But if you want that the sacrifices you need to make are basically you need to live and breathe it… every moment of the day. If I get to play music that's fun for me and the rest of us then that's all I need. We do this for the love of creating and playing music. Bottom line.
PHOTO BY: MICHELLE MENNONA
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