The interview you are about to read is essentially a selfish endeavor on my end to try and capture something that I let slip through my hands back in the late 1990’s. Being a NYC based fanzine in the 1990’s supplied me with what seemed like an unlimited amount of NYHC bands to cover including two that had members within 2 blocks of my house. Silent Majority were a Long Island band that I slept on and I am not really sure how or why. By the time a friend put me on to them they were breaking up and I was wrapping up work on my zine. I had “Life Of A Spectator”, “Based On A True Story” and “You Would Love To Know” all on CD and would listen to them constantly during the early 2000’s and still love most of these songs till this day. I always regretted not being able to do an interview with them as they had a ton of songs with lyrics that I could relate to as well as amazing music. Lead singer Tommy Corrigan was always a DM away as I would message him about his later band Capital, fishing poles I found in the rafters of my house, graffiti, screen printing, Hurricane Sandy… the guy is pretty well rounded… but also hard as hell to tie down to get an interview done with as work on this email interview started well over a year ago… but we both saw it through. With the recently revamped Wreck-Age Records re-issuing “Life Of A Spectator” later this year this interview also becomes a little bit more relevant as people gravitate to this band’s great catalog of music. 2016 saw SM reunite to help raise money for a close friend that had passed and at the time it seemed like that was the final chapter but as you will read in this interview there may still be a little more to give. A special thank you to the photographers who provided the photos for this interview… some of which were buried deep in hard drives. Thank you to: Johnny Milano, Pam Piffard, Michael Dubin, Justin Borucki and Steve “Bago” Adinolfi from Indecision for giving insight to the US tour they did with Silent Majority. Lead photo and the photo below were taken by Johnny Milano in June of 2016 in Amityville, NY. Graphics by: Paul Turano. Follow SM on IG.
IE: Silent Majority originated out of Lindenhurst, NY which was in many ways the epicenter for LIHC in the 90's with just a lot of people from the Long Island scene coming from that town. What was it like growing up in Lindenhurst and when you think back what was it about that town that produced so many hardcore kids?
Tommy: Lindenhurst at the time was not a welcoming place for those who were different in any way. In high school we all bonded together at the lunch time "freak table" while dodging all kinds of BS from the jocks and guidos. The minute we were able to start hanging out in other areas of Long Island and NYC we def did with obvious enthusiasm. We also had an existing hardcore pedigree with The Nihilistics and Sheer Terror both having a Lindenhurst connection. I think something cool about the town and Lindy High School in particular is how hardcore is passed down from generation to generation and that still happens to this day. There is a direct lineage from Mind Over Matter and Neglect all the way down to Backtrack with a dozen bands in between all passing the music to the next group of kids.
IE: The PWAC (which was also located in Lindenhurst) could be a whole other article on its own but I still wanted to touch on it because it was a big part of the Long Island scene in the 90’s. I am not sure if I should ask, “what was your job there” as it was a different kind of situation and not really a job but let’s go with “how did you first get involved there, and what kind of role did you and the other members of Silent Majority play in the operation of the PWAC that saw a ton of bands play there in the years that it was around?
Tommy: The “PWAC" stood for The People With Aids Coalition and was first founded as a spot to do shows by George Reynolds from Mind Over Matter (also from Lindy). A couple of benefit shows were done there that turned out very well and eventually the following year, led by Artie Philie... we formed a collective and began to sublet the show space. We donated the proceeds to the PWAC and raised thousands of dollars for them. We did everything from un-clogging the toilets and stamping hands to stopping fights and listening to jerky boys. It was a pretty special time for LIHC and I can safely say we had a major impact on our local scene and the East Coast in general.
PHOTO BY: PAM PIFFARD
IE: From the accounts I have heard and read Silent Majority started off as a not totally serious band and to a man there was not a ton of musical experience before you all linked up together. Do you remember a particular instance where someone within the band may have stepped up to get the others to up their games or did things just gradually get there through hard work and practicing?
Tommy: At the very beginning like all teenage bands we were very bad. So adding humor to the show was a good way to blur the suck factor. I think practicing every single day from when we got off the bus from school ’til when my dad cut the lights in the basement was crucial. Also being surrounded by other great bands like Mind Over Matter and Neglect who were practicing only a couple streets away was a big push. After about 2 years of dicking around songs just started to click and by 1993 we ALL actually started to sound halfway ready for a demo tape. I would say we were all super motivated. A whole new world of hardcore was opening up for us and it was pretty dope.
IE: Outside of the bands in your neighborhood and surrounding neighborhoods what bands would you say helped shape what you were doing on the mic as well as the music being played by the rest of your band?
Tommy: I’m gonna say when I first started getting serious about singing Sick Of It All, 7 Seconds and Burn were my top 3 influences along with rap from that era. I used to go to sleep with “Blood Sweat And No Tears” playing in my walkman.
IE: How did the name Silent Majority come to be and when it was thought up was there a particular way you wanted it to be interpreted that may be in addition to the song you have of the same name? Your lyrics were more personal than political although I always thought the name gave off more of a political feel.
Tommy: I think our bass player Jim came up with it. It didn’t really have any meaning at the time and it just sounded cool to us. I wish I had some deep answer about this one but I don’t. We were originally called “Splastic Action” when we were a joke band. Again, I have no idea what that meant… wait actually I think it’s an ejaculation reference.
PHOTO BY: JUSTIN BORUCKI
IE: Your lyrical approach is something that is often cited for being unique and influential to people who were fans of Silent Majority. A friend recently told me that at your reunion show at Revolution that while you were playing people packed in way in the back of the club were screaming every lyric to every song. How did it feel then and now to have so many people give a shit about what you had to say in those songs?
Tommy: It feels pretty fucking dope. However the downside of writing very personal lyrics is that in some circumstances they do not age well or provoke the same intense feelings especially 25 years later. But the minute they are put out on a record they only half belong to you. The listener owns the other half and attaches their own feelings and meanings to them and that still makes them relevant. So when we played back in 2016 to hear this wall of voices blasting back at me and the majority of those voices never even saw us play before it was incredible.
IE: What are some of the songs that you wrote that you feel still hold up strong lyrically and can you give a little insight as to what you were talking about in each?
Tommy: "Knew Song" from our first 7" still feels right to me. It was a sneaky lil song about Gulf War 1 that ended up being our first "real" tune people actually liked. It kinda opened up the melodic style for me vocally THANK GOD because when I was just starting out I was more rapping and that could have been disastrous if left to continue.
"Recognize" off the 2nd 7" zeroed in on a storytelling style that I would hit up time and time again. Is it the dopest song in the history of mankind written at and about the Brentwood Campus of Suffolk Community College? I'm gonna say yes! In a nutshell it’s a song that is dedicated to hardcore as a saving grace for a lack luster school experience.
"Amityville Horror" off the EP. Being written in 1999 and the band breaking up a year or so later caused me to sleep on this song for many many years. When we played it at the reunion in 2016 I kinda forgot the feelings behind it and it all came flooding back. Being depressed in a basement apartment working all week then sleeping the weekends away. I mention my 1983 Datsun Sentra hatchback that really didn't have a radio so every drive you would get lost in your own thoughts and shit. It's a depressing song but yeah, it holds up.
SILENT MAJORITY LIVE IN AMITYVILLE, NY JUNE 2016. PHOTO BY: JOHNNY MILANO
IE: “Polar Bear Club” is probably one of the songs that Silent Majority fans would probably pick out as a favorite both lyrically and musically. Was there any type of nostalgia type of trip made to Gilgo Beach in 2016 and does your daughter show any interest in your band’s music or this song in particular?
Tommy: My daughter has 0.0% interest in my music (at this point in her life). Maybe it will change someday... We actually had a little memorial ceremony for Rob from my other band Capital who passed, at Gilgo Beach. Imagine 50 hardcore kids trying to light flying Japanese tea lanterns in 20 degree weather and 40 mph winds. WILD. Middle aged me appreciates Gilgo as a decent surfcasting spot for striped bass in the fall.
IE: From talking to you leading up to this interview I found out that your 1994 7” titled “Distant Second” was named in part because of a review I did in an old issue of In Effect Fanzine. Although slightly embarrassing now I still would like if you could bring up the story behind that 7”s title?
Tommy: I wanna say you wrote a V.O.D. review where you said something like they were the “Undisputed Kings of LIHC” with all others coming a "Distant Second". I was just being a wiseass. V.O.D. Weebles and the Merrick Posse were and still are great friends of ours.
IE: Silent Majority was pretty close with Brooklyn’s Indecision. Both bands put out what were arguably your most popular releases within a year of each other and did two full US tours together in total DIY style. Can you talk about the friendship between your band and Indecision?
Tommy: I would say both bands (along with Milhouse) had an amazing cast of characters with black belts in being "wise asses" We saw the country together and had a ton of weird adventures. In fact members of SM and Milhouse and our crew were the very FIRST to get "For Those I Love I Will Sacrifice" tattoos. We really loved Indecision. That time period saw a lot of unity between the scene on Long Island and Brooklyn and Staten Island. It was great. It was also incredible to watch Indecision continue on and really take over THE WORLD and become NYHC legends in their own right.
SILENT MAJORITY PLAYING LIVE ON WNYU SUMMER 1996. PHOTO BY: MICHAEL DUBIN
IE: I was recently talking to Indecision bassist Steve “Bago” and he specifically told me to ask you about the types of places your bands stayed at during these two tours and that I could probably get a ton of stories. He also brought up the fact that there were a few times where the bands would just ask from the stage if there was anyone in the crowd willing to put you guys up for the night.
Tommy: Put it this way... That US Tour was almost 30 years ago and I still reflect on where the fuck we stayed ALL THE TIME. Asking for a place to stay from the stage was a regular routine because let’s face it… 90% of the shows were very poorly attended and we were fucking broke.
One time a kid said we could stay with him under the condition we help him and his mom move into a new fucking house the following morning. We were so desperate we agreed and upon arriving to his house realized we were in a crazy situation. Mind you there were 3 bands and crew rolling into this kids house after midnight so I'm gonna say about 16-18 people. There was basically an entire freestyle "litterbox room" for cats to shit in. The mom lived on the couch and was under a sheet the whole time barking orders at her son about the moving operation the next morning (we never saw her just a shape under a sheet). We got fed dumpster dived, expired "Food Not Bombs" cuisine. Rich's brother Mikey and I wanna say Tom Sheehan woke up covered in roaches. At some point in the night we all woke each other up and hatched a plan to get the fuck outta there and we literally tip toed over the kid and his mom with 18 people and got in the vans and fucking peeled outta the driveway.
IE: There was a blueprint that your band used for touring where you found a van rental place in Delaware that would allow you to put unlimited miles on their vans for something like 20.00 a day? Can you talk about the logistics of putting all of this together in a time where you still used a Hagstrom map to get from city to city?
Tommy: The band Turmoil put me on to the Delaware rental spot. It was somewhere around $250 a week for a brand new 15 passenger van with unlimited miles. Something having to do with car insurance in Delaware made it super cheap. I didn’t have a credit card that could handle the payments so we were mailing money orders to Delaware every week. We never booked our tours directly but I definitely drove... A LOT. The full US road atlas was essential and planning the route was a huge part of everyday driving. Illegal phone dialers and payphone visits were essential.
PHOTO BY: MICHAEL DUBIN
IE: I have never been on tours with bands but have done countless weekend trips in the Northeast and recall most shows out of the NYC/Long Island area being total hits or misses as far as crowd sizes and participation. I would guess that with all of the touring that SM did that you had your share of shows that qualify as “misses” with low turnout or crowd participation. Instead of asking about Silent Majority’s all-time best shows I would like to reverse it and ask what are some of the horrible ones that still may stand out to you?
Tommy: I'm going to say that 90% of all the shows were "misses" by typical standards. I would say when the ONE person who actually paid admission walks out of the building and you are playing to only the other bands and the promoter ... it sucked. I would say any show where mace is sprayed sucked. I would say any show in a basement in Sioux Falls, South Dakota where a desperate father thinks you have his missing daughter hidden in your van mighta sucked. I would say when a very large gang of scooter driving skinheads in Houston wants to fuck you up it sucks. There are so many instances of complete sucking… they have just morphed into one grey blob in my memories of that time. But we were out there, young and not giving a fuck. It was just like a wild road trip. SM definitely did not tour nearly as much as Indecision and Kill Your idols would go on to do. Both those bands actually lived on the road for large amounts of time. We were just a drop in that bucket.
IE: Will turn this next one into something a little more positive and ask about the things that brought you a sense of pride or accomplishment with the bands ten plus year history.
Tommy: Off the cuff: The final PWAC show with Sick Of It All was great. It was a bittersweet sendoff for that era of LIHC. I think “The Life Of A Spectator” LP still holds up after all these years and I'm proud of the songs on it. The fact that generation after generation of Long Island kids keep discovering the album is a great feeling.
IE: Do you all still keep in touch these days and can you give us the “where are they now” stories much like you might see at the end of a movie?
Tommy: Rich and his family all moved to New Hampshire after our 2016 shows and have a 50 acre retreat/compound deep in the woods. Ryan lives in NYC and is in the band Small Black and is still making amazing music. Ben is married with two beautiful kids, is a school teacher and moved to Chicago after the 2016 shows. Steve (my brother) our first drummer is married with a beautiful family and is a NYC carpenter.
Bass Section: Paul is in the Deli Biz and is married with a lovely family. I run into him at Costco. Nick went on to be in Bayside and lives a dope ass life. Scott is married and is an amazing dad. He’s a teacher in Nassau County.
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IE: You have a passion for fishing and help run this pretty cool multi-media project called Surf Casters Journal which appears to be a pretty big deal within the fishing community with something in the neighborhood of 200k followers on social media. Living here on Long Island I have seen random people wearing your gear and have seen more than a few pickup trucks with Surf Casters Journal bumper stickers on them too. Can you tell us the backstory here?
Tommy: After hardcore and graffiti phased out being major past times in my life, I started to get more into fishing from the beaches at night. This involves a lot of trespassing and sneaky shit and it was a perfect fit. I joined a fishing club in the early 2000's and started a fishing magazine with a good friend and author Zeno in 2009. I approach everything involving the magazine with a hardcore/DIY mentality. Merch, fishing shows, graphics are all based in hardcore and graffiti. It has been a big deal in my life and very rewarding.
IE: After Silent Majority you would go on and sing in Blood Red and Capital. Is there any fire still left in you where you could see yourself starting up whatever might be next?
Tommy: I'm not gonna front, I think about it from time to time but I just can’t see devoting 100% to anything and don't wanna end up "phoning it in". I saw Kill Your Idols recently and my mind was racing, remembering the energy and shit. Fuck man... I dunno.
IE: You have teamed up with the recently revamped Wreck-Age Records and plan on reissuing “Life Of A Spectator” this year which happens to be its 25th anniversary. What new things can people expect out of this reissue as far as "extras” that could range from old live recordings, remastered material, liner notes, artwork, merch and/or more?
Tommy: “Spectator” has been re-mastered and will come in cool vinyl colors and a photo zine of pictures from that era. We will also have a bunch of merch on the Wreck-Age.com site. We also have not ruled out some shows schedules/life/health permitting.
PHOTO BY: PAM PIFFARD
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