"The day I discovered rap was one of my first life-changing experiences and it is as clear to me as the day I heard Minor Threat the first time," Isaac Golub tells me. Formerly the vocalist for California hardcore bands A Chorus of Disapproval and Amendement 18, he's talking hip-hop with me because he's about to premiere his "Made the Devil Do It," his debut track as Count Catastrophic, Isaac's rap alter ego.
Before we get to the video, I ask Isaac about his introduction to the world of rap music. "I was scanning radio stations on my stereo, Spring Break 1982. My finger accidentally flipped the AM button. I had never really explored AM, so I scanned slowly to hear what amplitude modulated radio had to offer. Within 30 seconds I heard, “Willze illzare plizzayin' dizzouble dizzutch! dizzouble dizzutch! dizzouble dizzutch!” I was dumbfounded as my head bobbed. My internal metronome was changed forever that day. The song was 'Double Dutch Bus' by Frankie Smith. I got quite the education the weeks that followed because 1580 KDAY quickly became my station of choice.
"That summer, my stepfather heard me listening to this what he referred to as 'jungle music' and in all seriousness, gave me a slap. I was ordered to 'never let him catch me listening to that shit again. The danger factor that drove many suburban teens to embrace punk is the same danger that drove me to rap. Stepdad don’t like it, I’m all in!"
So, now we got some background on Isaac's early rap education, let's get to that track and video I mentioned earlier. "Made the Devil Do It" is the first track to drop from Count Catastrophic's debut album which will be released this summer through New Age Records, the influential hardcore label behind such genre staples as Unbroken, Strife, and Mouthpiece. Directed by Isaac and Evan Jacobs, the clip features a cameo from New Age founder Mike Hartsfield. "The video is violent, and campy with that '80s slasher movie vibe," says Isaac.
Keeping in line with hip-hop's braggadocious spirit, the Count Catastrophic record will be titled The Multi-Platinum Selling Debut Album By Count Catastrophic. Staying on the subject of irreverent musicians, Isaac tells me about the rap group that had the most impact on him early on. "For me, the group and album that completely turned the tide for me was the N.W.A. and the Posse LP. I fell in love with the cover because they looked liked dudes I knew. They looked like a crew, like we had a crew. They took a photo in an old graffed up area like the places we would go to punk shows. They looked like a different kind of punk rock. I bought that LP 100% based on the cover. NWA—and Ice Cube as a writer—have obviously endured for me, but some other longtime favorites are early LL, Beastie Boys, The DOC, Too $hort, and Geto Boys."
Going back in time to the late '80s, I'm curious about Isaac's hardcore scene compatriots from his XChorusX days and if they were also into rap music. "When I was 10-13--years-old, no white kids were listening to rap in my neighborhood. Of course rap had only been a well-known thing a few years at that point. I was an anomaly in Pasadena for that time. Something changed when I moved to Orange County. OC was mostly about punk rock and a little bit of metal, but punk kids didn’t care what you listened to and definitely didn’t pass judgement.
"Most people we all know that like hardcore and punk, also like selected metal and rap. I used to roll around with Banks all the time in his [Volkswagen] Karmann Ghia pumping Erik B & Rakim, EPMD, and then he’d pop in Candlemass, L.A. Guns, or Discharge. It has always seemed that punk rockers, metalheads, and rap fans always got along and had a mutual respect. MTV probably helped that a little. XChorusX used to play this place called Toe Jam in Long Beach and it had a dance club attached for awhile. The well dressed dancers and and sexy people would come over to the hardcore shows and bug the fuck out. [Laughs] They’d get in the pit, we’d all laugh together and have a great time!"
I ask Isaac to describe his lyrical approach to the Count Catastrophic stuff. "I’m not sure I have a specific style. I’m known for a certain sort of thing, ya know? Dark lyrics with that in-your-face, pissed delivery. I was scanning YouTube one day and happened upon a video about 'How to find your rap voice' and thought that it was going to be a rad mock instructional. So, I watched and laughed my ass off and realized it wasn’t a comedy! I got so much second-hand embarrassment for the host and vowed to stay as real and as close to the same decibel-level I have been at since my first band in 1982.
"Lyricism, drama, and artistry are extremely important to me in all aspects of my musical endeavors. It is critical to stay as many steps ahead of my contemporaries as possible. So if MC Poo-Butt is rhyming about his Air Jordans and drinking cough syrup (yawn), I’m gonna rhyme about creeping into his house, castrating him, and stuffing his balls into his dead mama’s urn. I gotta come harder by 10 times, all the times".
With the album slated for a summer 2018 release, what else is on the horizon for Count Catrastrophic? "My debut show is August 26 (the day after New Age 30). I will be playing as many shows as possible — in this scene or any other. I would love to take this on the road: US, Europe, Asia, South America... the sky’s the limit."
Co-produced by Paul Miner at Buzzbomb Studios, The Multi-Platinum Selling Debut Album By Count Catastrophic will arrive in stores later this summer via New Age Records.