West Chester PA’s EDGEWISE were initially around from 1989 through 1994 and like a lot of bands who have hardcore in their blood they had some attempts at getting things back together first in 2014 and now again here in 2016. Over the course of their existence they have 3 releases under their belts and since we completed this interview it was announced that they will be putting out a new 4 song 7” with Coin Toss Records in early 2017 titled “Angels And Addicts”. Their guitarist Vince Spina and his wife Anne are close friends as well as important parts of the Philadelphia hardcore scene. Vince also runs Harvcore Records and wife Anne is one of the most active photographers around today. I sent these questions to Anne ahead of an Edgewise band practice sometime in September and she sprung the questions on the entire band after they rehearsed. Thanks to both of them for transcribing the entire thing as well. Edgewise 2016 is Al: Vocals, Matt: Bass, Kevin: Drums, Jess: Guitar, and Vince aka Big V: Guitar. Check out their older music via the Bandcamp link at the end!
Photo by: Anne Spina. Graphics by: Bas Spierings.
IE: What's up guys? Edgewise originally was around between 1989 and 1994 with 3 releases under your belts during that time. When did the band get back together and how many shows have you played with this reincarnation?
Matt: We originally got back together with a different lineup in 2014 and played just 2 shows.
Vince: That was the lineup that toured and people knew.
Al: Let's talk about this lineup... We've played 4 shows over the last 5 months with the current lineup, the first being at Fenn's in West Chester, PA.
IE: What were the reasons leading up to Edgewise breaking up in 1994?
Vince: I think people started to grow up a little, Darren had already moved to NC for college and we were playing as a 4 piece. I think Matt went away to school.
Matt: We did the “Massacre Of The Innocents” album in '93...
Jess: I was in 4th grade!
Matt: …and then we did the second album in '97 with Ken Flavell on drums and Jack on vocals.
Vince: There was time in between those 2 records that we didn't do anything. Al got married and we were like "this guy got married, he's a chump, kick him out of the band". (Everyone laughing)
Matt: I don't think either of those records did well.
Vince: We only played one show after the record with Ken so we never gave it a chance. I have no idea how well it did. We released it on a German label that signed All Out War, Next Step Up, Neglect, Terrorzone and Fury of V. Basically any band that was on the “East Coast Assault” comp or was from the East Coast and were heavy they hit up and tried to sign them all.
PHOTO BY: ANNE SPINA
IE: Who is the person who is most responsible for getting things going again with the most recent reincarnation of Edgewise and what was the spark that got the idea going?
Vince: It was probably me because I heard from Greg Daly that Raw Power was playing in Philly and the first show I ever went to was the Dead Kennedys and Raw Power at City Gardens and they are one of my favorite old school hardcore bands. I wanted to play with them so I sent a message out to everyone and they said let's do it.
IE: The bulk of Edgewise's initial run as a band happened before many of today’s younger hardcore fans were even born. With that said what have the crowds been like at the shows you have played recently? Are there more older people who remember you from way back or a mix of younger and older?
Matt: Well, the demographic information that has been produced by our Facebook business page indicates that our fans are between 35 and 45.
Vince: Have you looked at this?
Matt: Yeah, You can look at the stats of who likes your page and see their age.
Vince: I would think so based on our friends and people who saw us back then.
Al: I think it's a little bit of a mix, I think as we play out more we are getting more younger fans. The reactions have been getting better. Hopefully when the new record comes out it will continue to improve.
Matt: One thing that I noticed when you look at old photos of old hardcore shows in the late 80's/early 90's, is that everyone was under 25. Not just us either. If you look at Gorilla Biscuits pics everybody was between 14 and 25. Now I think it's much more mixed, you have people who have been following it since the 80’s and you have younger people too.
IE: Edgewise is in the process of putting out new material and you are looking for labels to put it out. Why not put it out on Harvcore Records which is run by your guitarist Vince?
Matt: He can answer that question.
Al: The guy runs a shitty business.
Vince: It's hard to steal from people that you work with closely? (Everyone laughing) For me being on both sides would be too much. It makes me crazy I think. When I did the “Massacre…” LP I didn't like doing it. I'd rather let someone else do it and I can concentrate on one thing… just being in the band.
IE: Let someone else lose money on it.
Vince: Yeah exactly.
IE: Do these new unreleased tracks you are working on follow the same style as the old style of Edgewise and if not what influences have crept in?
Vince: For me I think a lot of the influences are the same. Of the 5 new songs I wrote 3 of them, for me I think I am better at coming up with ideas and transpose them to music better than I could in the past. Like I said, a lot of the influences are the same but there are some really good newer bands and I'm sure some of their influence has crept in.
Kevin: What did your daughter say when she heard some of the demos "Are you a hardcore band or a metal band?"
Al: My 17 year old daughter thinks, and this is someone who is not into hardcore, that the old stuff is hardcore and the new stuff is metal. That's from her perspective but I guess it's true. There's a mix, and with two new people in the band there are new influences coming in.
Matt: I think our style of playing departs from bands that are newer or younger because our influences have been at this for a while.
Vince: A lot of bands now tune down pretty far, as low as they can go. On our self titled record I think we tuned down a half step or a whole step I don't remember but I made the decision to stay with E standard. Some of my favorite records have been recorded in E standard… Leeway ,Cro-Mags, Judge are all in E standard tuning and they are some great records.
IE: Looking back at the bands early days your first show was with Token Entry and in addition you also did a full US tour. Can you give us some insight as to where this band has gone and some of the more memorable shows?
Vince: Our first show was supposed to be with Token Entry and Affirmative Action, AWOL and us. Al was friends with the guys from Affirmative Action and they got us our first few shows which was really cool because they played a style that was different than what we were doing so it was cool that they hooked us up like that. Anyway, Token Entry did not play that show because their manager was on vacation and never let them know about the show, so they no showed. The funny back story to that show is that our drummer at the time was on vacation down the shore. We told him "We'll come pick you up down the shore and when the shows over take you back" and we had no intention on taking him back down. So he had to find his own way back down the shore.
Matt: We played a show in Minot, North Dakota that was next to the State Fairgrounds and there was stock car racing taking place before the show, we watched it standing on a dumpster.
Al: We played Gilman St.
Vince: That was a cool show because it was a legendary club and the lineup was cool too - 411, Mecca Normal, Corrupted Ideals and us. You would never get a show like that today. Corrupted Ideals was straight up punk with mohawks and studded leather jackets, Mecca Normal was like a 2 or 3 piece art punk band from Portland or Canada. The diversity was cool.
Matt: We played the legendary Club Blitz with Black GG, he threw beets at people in the audience. We have to mention the show we played at the Core in Harrisburg with Green Day where they asked to borrow our gear and we said no.
Vince: I remember as Billie Joe walked away he said we are looking for a band to go on tour with us in 3 years… they will not be that band.
Al: We thought they were lazy, we had already packed up our stuff and they came over asking to borrow it. Fitting the gear in the trailer was like Tetris and we were done so we didn't want to take everything back out. Normally if we hadn't already loaded everything in the van we would have let them borrow our stuff but they didn't want to unload because there were 10 people there. We played a bunch of great shows in Syracuse, a bunch of shows with Turning Point.
Vince: We played a lot of shows with Up Front on our tour in '91 and that was a lot of fun. We played some legendary Unisound shows, I don't know if our name was ever spelled properly on any of the flyers. Played some cool shows in Philly but for a while there was not much going on in this area.
PHOTO BY: WASS PHOTOGRAPHY
IE: What were some of the bands that Edgewise was close with and played with a lot?
Vince: Turning Point. We played with them a bunch of times, they were always cool guys. The first people that were from outside of West Chester that came to one of our practices were the guys in Turning Point. We played a lot og shows with Up Front on tour, it was a lot of fun and I'm still friends with those guys. Dare To Defy was from West Chester so we played with them a few times. Affirmative Action we owe a lot to because they got us our first few shows. There was a time when there wasn't anything going on in Philly. We probably didn't play Philly for at least a year because there was no one booking shows.
IE: What are the biggest differences you see with hardcore in 2016 versus before?
Jess: Why you looking at me?
Al: What do you think?
Jess: What’s before?
Al: Before 2016!
Jess: Obviously cell phones, more so for you guys. I used to be really excited about CD’s looking through the artwork, lyrics, and liner notes. The way I learned about new bands was by looking at the thanks list.
Matt: Everyone wears black now and more tattoos. (Note at this point everyone looks at each other and notices everyone is wearing black)
Kevin: What did they wear before?
Matt: Grey heather, white.
Vince: The gear now is way better, back in the 80's people had little combo amps and cheap drum kits, now people are playing boutique amps and custom drum kits.
Kevin: The recording quality is much better.
Vince: Musicianship is at a much higher level. Bands in the late 80's that were just OK would be considered terrible by today’s standards.
Al: The bar has been set way higher. Definitely more of a metal sound, bands that are popular now, if they played a hardcore show in the late 80's people would say it's not hardcore.
IE: Since Edgewise is a Philadelphia area band does anyone have any local bands they would recommend for us to check out?
Vince: Eaten Alive is cool, Nation of Wolves, Search just played their first show a few weeks ago, Year of The Knife, Shadows of Lies is great... we are trying to set up some shows with them. There are some cool bands that are just starting up like The New Harmony.
Jess: Ten Ton Hammer, Timebomb.
Vince: The Timebomb shit on their split with Deacon is really good!
Al: Dead Spot.
Vince: F.O.D. still kicking after all these years.
Jess: Keith would know.
Keith: I'm not in the band! (Keith is ex-Sawed Off singer)
Vince: If Al ever quits you're singing.
Keith: Nobody wants that.
Vince: Nobody wants Al to quit or you to sing?
Vince: Let's talk about some bands that are no longer around that were really, really good - Sawed Off...was awesome. (Everyone laughing)
PHOTO BY: ANNE SPINA
IE: How about any good venues in the area that people on tour or passing through can check out?
Jess: Voltage Lounge is now out, right? What's the place that Madball just played at? Underground Arts. It's cool because they have the big room and the little room. I miss the Church.
Vince: They do shows occasionally at the Church. There are some places that focus a little more on the punk stuff.
Al: Tee It Up in West Chester.
IE: You got kicked out of a show in West Chester, didn't you?
Vince: Who me?
Vince: Yeah, it was at Alibi's during our set. I did a stage dive during our set and the bouncer threw me out, I was like "but I'm in the band", he didn't care. So then Fred Mascherino got up and you guys played a Breakdown cover and I watched from the back.
Al: Did Fred play guitar?
Vince: Yeah, it was “Sick People” I think.
Al: Yeah, that's what it was.
Matt: They shut the show down early and someone smashed a gum ball machine by the front door.
Vince: That place was weird, from my perspective I always felt that they were taking advantage of the bands.
Matt: That sound guy was such a dick. Their attitude was fuck these kids.
Al: We headlined a show there with Starkweather and No Escape and there were probably 200-250 people there and I don't even think we got paid.
Vince: I think there was a no stage diving rule and I remember at the show during a mosh part you yelled the stage is yours and people were diving all over the place, they obviously didn't like it.
Matt: The strangest place we ever played which booked some great bands was the Unisound in Reading, PA. That place will never be replicated.
Vince: Here's a guy with no knowledge of punk or hardcore and some kid convinced him to book a show. I think his first show was Token Entry and the turnout was really good so he thought it was a good way to make money. He would pull weird shit on bands.
Al: Instead of paying them he would record them at his crappy studio.
Kevin: He would always promise bands were coming "Yeah, the Gorilla Biscuits are coming". It's like 2 o'clock where the fuck are they? There would be like 500 kids there expecting bands that never showed up.
Vince: There were crazy turn outs and kids would come from all over and there wasn't much going on in Philly so this was the only thing at the time.
IE: Sticking to the Philly theme, here in New York everyone argues where the best pizza is and I hear Philly people argue about the best cheesesteaks. My original question was just going to be where are the best cheesesteaks and then I find out that you only have 1, maybe 2 non-vegetarians in the band!!
Matt: As the only meat eater in the band I'm probably most qualified.
Jess: I eat chicken.
Matt: I don't eat many cheesesteaks.
Al: It looks like it.
Jess: That's fucked up!
Vince: As far as veggie/vegan options there's Govinda's and Blackbird.
Al: I like Campos, when I go to Citizen's Bank Park I always get their veggie cheesesteak. Blackbird is good. Kevin?
Kevin: For a veggie cheesesteak, you know who does a good one? Appetite's in...
Vince: Appetite's on Main?
Kevin: No no no, in the Gateway Shopping Center and Capriotti's.
Al: Let's go, were all heading there now, it's on Keith Gallagher. I'm not a huge pizza guy.
Kevin: Who says that?
Al: I love pizza but look at me, does it look like I eat a lot of pizza?
Vince: It looks like you eat a lot of stromboli!
Jess: I could talk about pizza all day. Santucci's is my favorite. The original is in the Northeast somewhere, they just opened one in South Philly.
Vince: The best pizza in Philly is Dominoes.
Jess: Sbarro's in the mall! (Everyone laughing)
IE: What does everyone in the band do for day jobs?
Vince: I work at a children's hospital in the state of Delaware doing computer networking. I really like It and the people I work with are great.
Matt: I am a college professor.
Vince: And author.
Al: I work in insurance, it's very exciting.
IE: Sounds so punk rock.
Kevin: I am a 7th grade English teacher. I be good.
Jess: I'm going to be teaching little kids soon.