I was introduced to Casey maybe 10 years ago and he has been a mainstay in our punk/hardcore scene long before that. He has been in more bands than anyone else I know of. Casey has been known for his bands and his brawls. In recent times, with the advent of 'his' crew, The Viking Skins, some amount of controversy has surrounded this man who seems to cast a long scary shadow. I think a lot of people are too scared to ask him questions. I knew he was an interesting dude, so I asked the questions.What year were you born?
1976 What are your beginnings in punk?
I went to some random shows in junior high which was 1988-90 in Santa Cruz. Basically the bad kids I knew went to crazy ass punk shows and I would go sometimes. Apparently I saw Bl'ast! a few times but I really have no recollection of seeing them other than the shows seemed like a riot. It wasn’t until a couple years later that I started attending hardcore/punk shows because I wanted to.
I really don’t remember what my first punk show was. The first one I really remember was Suicidal in 92 at the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium. I remember people were ripping chairs out of the ground and throwing them down to the floor. I saw some dude get stabbed right in front of me afterwards too. I loved it.
It just felt natural. I felt like I belonged immediately. I went to tons of hip hop shows back in the early 90's and never felt the same kind of vibe. I didn’t feel like I had to prove anything. It still feels the same to me. I don’t really trip off age and younger kids. I was one of those kids once. It just makes sense that when you do something for a long time your peers will get younger and you will get older. Its not a big deal. I still love punk as much as I did back then. I don’t think I'm going to change the world anymore but I'm not really trying to. I try to make small differences nowadays. Work on myself and help other people with my experience. How many stereos did you steal as a teen?
A lot. It was a thing of mine and my friends for awhile. We would use sparkplugs to break the windows and use the money we got for beer and drugs. I got my first tattoo in a trade for a stereo. We used to just steal shit. We were the kind of guys who would show up at a party and head straight for the parents room. I'd have jewelry and shit. It got to the point where people wouldn’t even let us in. They would block us at the door. Those were very bloody days. Were you a jock in high school?
I was raised a straight up jock. My dad was a jock. He was a high school all-American football player and went to college on a full ride. I didn’t really have a choice. I like sports and still do. In 8th grade when I started to drink a lot and hang out with the "bad" kids I began to rebel against my dad and his jockism. My 8th grade basketball team won the state championship! Ha ha. Our best player ended up in the NBA! I still played my freshman year in high school but was suspended a couple of times from teams for being fucked up at school. The beginning of my sophomore year, I got a 2 year suspension from after school activities for getting in trouble too much. It’s funny because now I really had nothing to do other than hangout with my friends and cause trouble. Kind of a fucked up way to punish someone. You would think that they would want to make someone participate in those activities to keep them out of trouble. In any case that was in 91 and that was when my life got really sketchy. How sketchy did your life get?
Well it had gotten pretty sketchy long before my sophomore year in high school. That was just when I started to pay for a lot of my actions. I was stealing a lot from stores and from people. My parents stopped giving me money because they knew I would buy beer and drugs with it so I had to steal what I wanted. I sold weed for a little bit. I got caught for shoplifting a few times and ended up in juvenile hall a few times. I would pocket check random people walking down the street and shit. Sometimes I would get my ass beat. Sometimes I would come up on some cash. I was getting in fights all the time: at school, on the streets, at parties, everywhere. I had beef all over town. I was getting suspended from school a lot and ended up getting kicked out. That freed up a lot of time to do whatever I wanted. I didn’t care about shit other than getting fucked up and my friends.
I got sober and started calling myself straight edge at the end of my junior year. I tried to play basketball my senior year but didn’t have the grades. I got my shit together enough to play baseball though. I was going to play in college but I was in sports denial with my punk rockness. I kind of regret that now.... In the late 90's some guys I grew up with played softball and basketball in men’s leagues. That was seriously some of the most fun I’ve had in my life. Who would be more shocked: kids in HC today knowing you as a baseball player or your former teammates seeing you now?
It takes a lot to shock people and I'm sure there are a lot of people talking shit about me calling me a jock so I don’t think that is too shocking. Santa Cruz is pretty small and when I got sober and resurfaced I think at first some of those old jock friends were shocked but I think they were more shocked when I would show up at a party and try and walk out with a VCR, Nintendo, and a pocket full of necklaces and shit. There is actually a hardcore kid who has been in bands and is a handful of years younger than me who had a older brother my age. There was a party at their house when the kid was probably like 10 or something and I guess I took his Nintendo. I remember starting to see him at shows and I felt super bad.Name every band you have played at least one show with.
Staple. Yaphet Kotto. The Anasazi. Howdy Partner. xBhakta Realityx. Planet Tied To A Stake. Good Clean Fun. Look Back And Laugh. War All The Time. Mindless Mutant. Violent Minds. Never Healed. Lights Out. Battleaxe. I think that’s it. There were a lot of "almost" bands especially in the early days.... I don’t really have a favorite style or period although the early and mid 90's were pretty special to me. Given what “emo” has come to mean in the popular lexicon, how do you feel it got to this point from Revolution Summer to Still Life etc?
Emo in the late 80's and most of the 90's had a completely different meaning than it does now. It’s such a negative word now. I cant even call bands from back in the day emo anymore. That word is dead. I think it got it to where it is now when it got out of the basements and vets halls and became some kind of mainstream beast. It was always a pretty general term. I mean people were calling Unbroken emo and shit. I like what Ian Mckaye says in that Embrace video
when he is talking about what emo is. Isn’t all hardcore emotional? I think to separate the emo of old from the emo of now is not to say that the bands are emotional but to call them passionate. You had to have some kind of passion to drive across the country playing basements to hardly anybody. Why did the band get named Yaphet Kotto?
After the actor. It was part political and part out of respect and like of him. Mag who played guitar and sang was way into him and it was his idea originally. Is it true that the actor may have been aware of the band?
A friend of mine worked with his son in the Bay Area and we gave him some cd's and a shirt. I'm sure he told him. And I think that on Wikipedia
it references the band on his page. He never got in touch or anything. What kind of experience was the Jacuzzi Pants tour with This Machine Kills and Envy in Japan?
I think the Japan tour
was 2002. It is in the top 2 tours that I've ever been on. The shows there were incredible and the kids that went to shows were really cool. The guys in Envy were nothing short of amazing and were so good to us. I had so much fun. Hanging out with crazy ass Steve Aoki was super funny. He would talk forever between songs and the kids would just be scratching their heads not understanding a word he was saying. He had these super silly costumes
too. Did you ever expect Steve “Yellow Peril” Aoki to end up as DJ Kid Millionaire?
Not exactly but I could see where the progression was going. I don’t know if he broke edge on that tour but it was definitely early in his drinking career. If any of your bands could play with any other bands, what would the line up be?
I would be stoked for an Inmates, The Darvocets, Minderaser, and Never Healed show. When I first came to know you, it was through the Ebullition/HeartattaCk/Pickle Patch scene. Do you still feel some connection to that “scene” or do you feel a definite split from then vs. now?
My first response was to say that scene is dead but I think I think that just because I am not really connected to that scene anymore. I feel connected to a lot of the people who I was friends with in that scene. I made a lot of close friends from that time. I still go to shows all the time and buy records and shit, and every once in awhile I'll see a band who should have been playing shows back then. I'll have never heard of them, but they will have 2 7"s a split 10" and a LP out, so obviously that scene is alive and kicking. I'm just not as thorough as I once was. How would you describe your relationship with Kent McClard (No Answers Fanzine/HeartattaCk/Ebullition Records)?
Right now we don’t really talk that often but I consider him a good friend. I love Kent and am always down for him. He pretty much changed my life directly and indirectly. I'll always love him for that. I wish he would move out of the cuts though.I think Kent, whether he likes it or not, influenced a lot of kids our age. How exactly has he influenced who you are?
There was a time in my life when I modeled myself directly after him. I would read all of his writing and it was so new and fresh and really spoke to me. Definitely life changing things. He was one of the best positive role models I had in my life and I looked up to him a lot without even meeting him. When I became friends with him it made it even better because he was what he talked about. It wasn’t a front. He was real. Its funny because after I discovered HeartattaCk I went from wearing Judge and Insted shirts to wearing Born Against and Downcast shirts. Then I learned from him that its still alright to rock Judge and Insted shirts. Ha ha. Being a straight-edge veterano, do you feel similarly to Kent McClard’s writing (in the XXX comp) that remaining straight-edge serves to isolate one from typical social environments?
Definitely. A lot of people’s leisure life revolves around some kind of recreational drug or alcohol use. A lot of my friends go to bars and parties and I'm not too into doing that so I do find myself isolated on that level. I like hanging out at the house anyways so I kind of already lose on that one.How did you and Radar come to have each other?
Radar was rescued from a homeless guy by my friend Chris. She was the last of his puppies and she is the best thing to ever happen to me. She saved my life and kept me out of some serious trouble . She is almost 4 and I got her when she was super little. How many times have you been 86’d from 924 Gilman St?
Just once. I was kicked out of a show another time but didn’t get 86'd. Word is that you fought of a gang of tag bangers who had bats. True?
True story. It was an Iron Vegan show and I saw this dude who I had beef with right in that front room where the entrance is. We started fighting immediately and the next thing I knew there was like 7 dudes trying to hit me and shit. Fortunately there was so many of them throwing punches at me, they weren’t really connecting and I had managed to get myself into the corner where the garbage cans are and was leaning back on those punching anyone who got close. It got broken up and I was trying to find out who all the guys were. One of them hit me in the forehead with some kind of a bat or something. It split my head open pretty good and blood was really gushing everywhere. I was spitting it all over the place really going crazy. I think you can still see some blood spray on the wall where the fliers are. I found out like 2 weeks later that I was 86'd. I didn’t even care at the time. I wanted to go to shows with those glasses and nose/mustache mask thing and see if they would recognize me.
A few months went by and my friends’ band Calvary was touring the west coast and Yaphet Kotto was playing a bunch of the shows so I had to get let back in. I went to one of the meetings and got bitched at by these little kids for like 30 minutes about how a punched a security guard and this girl who was working got punched trying to break up the fight and shit. I was like, don’t you pay those people to be security? If you try to break up a fight where 8 guys are trying to fight one guy, chances are you will get punched. Plus I mentioned that I got my head split open with a baseball bat and no one did shit other than give me a towel to wipe off my face. They weren’t really feeling my arguments so I just had to take in their belittling of me and shut my mouth. The best thing was everybody except one guy voted me back in.
I thought I was going to get 86'd when I punched that guy at the LBAL show a few months back…
I punched the singer of The Scurvy Dogs because he wouldn’t leave the show and apparently put him in the hospital. I didn’t know who he was, he just kept trying to fight my friend. Robert from What Happens Next pointed me out to the coordinators and talked a bunch of shit on me on stage when his band played. I got kicked out and we left. I felt bad for the Japanese bands because they were using some of our equipment and we had to take it off stage right before they were playing. It doesn’t pay to be a snitch I guess. The girl who was telling people she was going to try [to 86 me] didn’t follow through with it when we showed up with like 15 people at the meeting.Care to explain your role in the supposed home invasion beatdown of a former bandmate?
Some people make bad choices. God knows I have and still do. Basically an old bandmate and friend made a bad choice that directly involved another good friend of mine. Bad shit was going to go down no matter what role I played in it. My friend was really distraught over the whole thing and I just wanted to make sure he didn’t do anything really stupid. Turns out I brought like 10 ninjas over to the house to torture the poor kid or something. Shit is always weird when friends start to fight each other. I was caught up in the middle of everything because I was there and ended up being singled out as the bad guy. Is there a god and has he forsaken you?
I do believe there is a god and I think that he has forsaken everybody. There is so much suffering and so much pain in this world that I hate god for that. I do feel like I am a stronger person for all the adversity and struggle I have gone through, but it’s not fair that helpless kids and people get tortured and fucked with and abused and shit. I hate god for the guy who molested his son or daughter and fucking ruined their life. In all honestly though, I cant really hold that strong of a resentment against god. It would drive me crazy. There isn’t really much I can do to change god. Suffering won’t stop because I hate god. I just have to do my best to live right and not fuck people over. Will you be dining in Valhalla?
Ha ha. That would be nice. Explain the symbol of the reprobate.
The symbol of the reprobate is a mark that was put on people in the olden times that they felt god had given up on. I can be pretty dramatic so I got that shit tattooed in black light on my forehead. Do you believe civilization’s collapse is inevitable?
I don’t know. It’s hard to say. It can go on like this for a long time. I see a lot of pain and struggle in the future for the little people like us. I don’t really think it is a battle that we can fight on a large scale. It’s the small victories like helping out someone who is going through some bad shit, or just taking care of yourself and not being a piece of shit that will make the only difference. I want to die knowing I did something; that I was a good person, and that I helped people out who were struggling. That I didn’t just stand by and watch.If civilization devolves into Mad Max style shit, where do you see yourself?
Just Radar and I chilling out somewhere near a lake, growing our own food and playing lots of golf!!! As you get older and stay engaged in punk, does it make you feel younger or does it constantly serve to remind you of your aging?
As far as society's standards, yes, I feel younger than I'm told I should be. Fuck, sometimes I feel way immature because I still rent a room, go to shows, play in bands, gossip about bands, etc etc. Since there aren’t any real role models for aging punk rockers, do you think of folks like yourself as potentially showing the younger kids that punk rebellion doesn’t have to be a phase to grow OUT of?
Yeah man. Its for life and I think dinosaurs like us are great examples to the age old saying "I'm gonna stay young till I die!" The problem is that our role models are few and far between. Each and every one of us needs to be the bridge between the generations. Without so many people left in the generation before us it can be hard. How many people can I talk to about 'what the hell do I do now that I'm 30 and still hardcore?' Unfortunately not many. Do Nazis make good merch images?
I like images of war and pain and suffering. Did anyone object to the Never Healed “Nazi” shirt?
Not directly to me. I'm sure some people had objections but in this day and age, if I don’t read about it on the internet, I'm sure I wont hear about it because no one wants to confront anyone directly anymore.
In any case it’s just coincidental that that soldier is a German. It doesn’t actually affect the vibe of the image. He could be from any country. He just looked cool. What is your day job?
I am a Recovery Counselor at a residential adolescent drug treatment center in Oakland. The kids are anywhere from 13 to 19 and stay from 30 days to 14 months. I do case management with the long-term clients, facilitate groups, shift supervise, create treatment plans, drink coffee, and do lots of behavior modification. Definitely the best job I've ever had. And as a matter of fact it’s one of the rehabs I went to when I was a youngster. The San Francisco DA went on a witch hunt for graff artists. How did it affect your life?
It was a crazy time in my life. I've been indicted by the grand jury twice, had my house raided, been to jail, paid tons of money on bail and to my lawyer, almost lost my job twice, and I have never been caught doing graff. They were on some mob shit: following us around town, eating in restaurants next to us listening to our conversations, total surveillance. BART had gotten a MILLION DOLLAR grant to stop vandalism and they had spent all of it on catching us. They were seriously following us around like we were mobsters. It’s kind of cool to think about now but it’s pretty scary too. I had no record at all when they came and raided my house. They knew exactly who I was. They cuffed me the second they saw me. They were telling me about my tours and bands and shit. It was crazy.Still after all that shit, all I ended up with was some fines, spent a couple weeks in jail when I had to turn myself in, and 3 years probation. They were trying to send me to prison and shit. The best advice I could ever give anyone dealing with the law: GET A GOOD LAWYER. It will cost a lot of money but I'd rather pay a good lawyer my money than go to San Quentin for graffiti. I am forever in debt to my lawyer. Was it some massive law enforcement teamwork?
It was San Francisco detectives, BART police and Oakland detectives.How did they know about your tours?
Probably from the internet or something. Maybe checked my passport or something. Were you aware of the surveillance as it was going on?
Dude, I had no idea. Who knew they were going mafia style on us. Did all of the people they targeted get similar shit as you?
For the most part. I had a clean record so that helped a lot. How do you feel about the police?
Fuck the law …That shit is in my heart. Favorite sports team?
New York Yankees Least favorite sports team?
Boston Red Sox Who on the Red Sox would you most like to fight?
Curt Schilling If you had to pick a tag team of 5 people to do battle against any assortment of 5 others, who would your 5 be?
Idi Amin. Manson. Kimbo Slice. Josef Mengele. And Royce Gracie. I don’t know if they would all get along too well, but I would love to see Kimbo Slice do just about anything.
That guy is a beast. I wouldn’t want to be within 10 miles of him! Worst fad you’ve seen come (and go) in HC?
Little kids who talk shit on the internet but say nothing in real life. You once told me AFI (on the Sing The Sorrow tour) was like a contemporary version on the band Poison. Do you still feel that way?
Did I really say that? Ha ha. In a way they are. They came from the scene and blew up and went with it. I really like AFI and I don’t care what people say. I listen to those last 2 albums a lot. So much that my upstairs neighbor called me and asked if I was in AFI. She thought the only reason I would be listening to them so much was because I was learning the songs! She didn’t believe me either. She was like, “I wont tell anyone.” If AFI invited you (Never Healed) on tour, would you take it?
Yeah, if it made sense.LBAL has gotten some pretty big opening spots over the past year. How is playing such large shows and how did LBAL get so connected and/or popular?
Playing those shows is fine. The weirdest thing is the other bands usually. From a completely different world. The backstage thing. Warped tour punk. It’s quite a monster.
We are all old as fuck and have been in bands for a while so we had good connections already. People were offering us records before we even played a show. I want to say people like us because we are good honest hardcore. Plus we go crazy live and barely play our instruments. Drown in stone and fire or in the sands of time?
The sands of time have already taken me.Has the work of Douglas P. (Death In June) influenced your songwriting?
Yeah, he has opened my jaded eyes. I think I am more influenced by some people who were influenced by him though. Such as?
Of The Wand And The Moon, Forseti, Changes, In Gowen Ring, and contemporaries like Sol Invictus and Fire + Ice. There are some strange similarities with Never Healed and Sol Invictus lyrics. Have you ever heard of any bands covering songs you wrote?
I don't think so. Can I request a cover for any of your bands? I would love to hear some Torches To Rome.
I've always wanted to cover 'This Is Not A Step'. Torches To Rome were amazing. That was such a good time period for me and they were one of the soundtracks. Most memorable show attended?
Unbroken at Gilman. Most memorable show played?
Most recently it would be the Never Healed show a couple months ago at that house in West Oakland. It reminded me of the old days.What exactly was the genesis of Viking Skins?
Ok. It was early 2005 and a lot of shows were happening at the Haz-Mat warehouse in Oakland. We thought it would be fun to create a crew opposite of, and have a friendly rivalry with, the Pyrate Punx. So we came up with the Viking Skins. Get it? Ha ha. We yelled it at a few shows, caught a few tags, pretty much kept it an inside joke. I'm friends with lots of Pyrate Punx. Marcus is a super good dude. Lots of them are good people. I think just because it was "skins" people freaked out. I only wish people cared about real shit not one of our jokes.Why do Viking Skins hate Black people?
The Viking Skins don’t hate black people. Stop trying to get me in trouble. There has been some anti-Viking Skins vandalism inside Gilman. Who has it been attributed to?
I don’t know. People who take things way too seriously and believe what they read on the internet too much Why has John No of The Fleshies attacked the Viking Skins in his writing?
Same as above. Just some fucking idiot who takes himself way too serious. IT’S A FUCKING JOKE! Ha....ha Is the Viking Skins platform pro-gentrification?
Noooooooo. I don’t get where that came from. Do you want to give John No’s accusations about Viking Skins being part of some wave of gentrification in Oakland a response?
What’s the point? That’s like trying to argue what is better, the old Star Trek or The Next Generation. It’s bullshit. Who cares? How long has he lived in 'the hood'? My favorite part of his essay is in the end when he says he wants to have some baseball bat justice or something. Completely makes his point worthless. Are you concerned with someone not “getting it” by seeing “Viking Skins” and the algiz rune?
So many people have not gotten it at this point it doesn’t matter. Believe the hype. What’s up with the tats?
I had seen a few people who had a lot of heavy black tattoos and really liked them. My original plan was to do my legs first so it wouldn’t look like I was copying this pro skater who was pretty popular at the time. After I finished my legs I started on my right arm. The whole process took such a long time that I had started getting good tattoos on my left arm so I just stuck with the one black arm and 2 black legs How successful has the tattooing of your nuts been?
It’s at strike 2 right now. I'm going to do it myself next time. The last attempt there was like 6 people there taking pictures and filming and I had to tap out. What makes Oakland the best?
I just like it. It’s kick back. There are neighborhoods that feel like neighborhoods. I guess it reminds me of home What musical projects do you have lined up for the near future?
There is something brewing with Jon from Knife Fight playing drums, Mike Cheese from Gehenna singing, and me playing guitar. A lot of the songs are written. We just need to practice. Is it even possible for you to join any more bands?
I don’t have much time but I guess if it sounds fun I'll make time. I think people reading this interview are going to be surprised that big scary Casey isn’t some brooding nihilistic madman.
I have the quiet guy-asshole syndrome. I'm kind of socially awkward and am not that outgoing around people I don’t know. So I can see how that would be taken as me being an asshole or something. Throw in that I'm not afraid of a little confrontation and have been in a few fairly liked bands- So people know who I am, and when something happens, people like to talk and gossip. We all love our tabloids. Any closing words?
"There's no movement, no movement, no movement in a bad mouth. It betrays a bad mind."