Music aside, the hardcore underground has always been about personality. One of the best aspects of going to shows is meeting so many interesting and unique people. And while Long Island has quite a few inimitable characters, one who’s always stuck out for me is Ron Grimaldi. I first met Ron at a Kill Your Idols show some years back. And it was at KYI shows that I best got to know Ron. His tall lanky build, long hair, black jeans and boots, and quiet disposition all belie his professorial knowledge on music and politics. He can very passively lull you into what ends up being super intense conversations about so many different topics. He speaks with a quiet confidence and is one of the most approachable people I’ve met. And yet, if you were to catch him on stage with any of the bands he’s sang in, you’ll find a man driven by fury and discontent. Such are the dynamics of a guy who’s a mainstay in the New York and Long Island scenes.
This interview isn’t so much about anything in particular as it is about Ron himself, a guy who lives our ethos quietly and profoundly.
How did you first find punk and hardcore in terms of your musical evolution?
I got into hardcore/punk in late 1984. I was an underground metal kid heavily into Mercyful Fate, Slayer, Metallica, Motorhead, Venom, etc. I was tape-trading for all new demos and buying zines. This was a time when these bands were all very underground. Anyway, I went to high school with two punks (later to be two of my very close friends) who were heavily into Discharge, Misfits, DK's, GBH, etc. One of them is John who later sang and played bass in the band Winter. One day we met and they didn’t like metal and I told them I didn’t really know much punk. I lent them a mix tape I had with Bathory, Hellhammer, Sodom, Metallica, Slayer and Venom, and they taped me Reagan Youth, A.F. Victim in Pain, DK's, 76% Uncertain, Raw Power and that was it. All three of us went through a huge change influencing each other’s musical tastes from that.
A lot of people cite you as an OG and a lifer in the Long Island scene. What do you make of the evolution of Long Island punk and hardcore?
I wouldn’t say I’m an OG as there was a full generation before me but I’m definitely a lifer. The evolution of LIHC is interesting. When I started coming around the bands from Long Island were under the umbrella of NYHC or punk. Bands like Crumbsuckers, Ludichrist, Krakdown, Nihilistics, etc. I wouldn’t say LIHC became a real separate thing until the next wave with shows at The Angle in the early '90s and bands like Neglect, Mind Over Matter, Silent Majority and onward creating something truly Long Island and unique and separate from New York City.
What do you find to be the best era of Long Island punk and hardcore?
Musically, I prefer the bands of the '80s but community-wise the '90s by far. Nothing was organized in the '80s. With The Angle, PWAC, and Deja One, Long Island created a true DIY community of bands promoters, labels, zines and venues. Pre-Internet your local scene was all you had and the impact and what was accomplished was huge. A lot of huge bands outside our little punk bubble came up inside this community atmosphere and later got big in the "real world" of music.
How did Deathcycle come to be? Can we expect any new material or shows from Deathcycle?
I was the first drummer in Kill Your Idols but I am a singer really and couldn’t play too good so they booted me. Me and Gary always said we'd get another band together and finally in 2003 we did. It was just the two of us jamming in my garage for a few months with me on drums again. Me and Gary made a demo with me doing vox and drums, and him playing guitar and bass on everything but one song that Matt Vancure (MD, Thoughtcrime) played on. Matt and Johnny Cakes (Thoughtcrime) joined. We broke up a few times but are all good friends so if the right show or cause came along I’m sure we’d play again but nothing is planned right now.
How did Sonic Poison get together? What’s the idea behind this band?
Me and Rick (The Casualties) have always been good friends since our old bands Leech Implant and Donald Dick played together in the '90s, and me and him used to jam and write in my garage back then. Finally years later me, him, and Anthony (Sheer Terror, Disnihil, Concrete Cross, etc.) got together just to write, play, and have fun. We put out a 7" and Tom from Disnihil joined on bass. We played five shows, then Tom and Rick moved to Cali. It was cool. I’m proud of what we did.
You’re pretty outspoken in terms of your politics. Discuss your general political ideology, and what makes you so keenly skeptical of American politics.
I don’t belong to any political party, but yes I am very political. The current political climate is a total clusterfuck. My general ideology is for peace, equality, and just treating others how you expect to be treated yourself. And I’m heavily into animal rights and environmental causes, but not that bullshit Al Gore profit model of control and fake environmentalism. I'm very much against the NWO and elites, Wall Street, the banks, etc. But I am equally as disillusioned with the current left and feel no connection to their methods and execution of their stated goals to combat the ills of the world. They are bought, paid for, brainwashed, and subservient to the same corporate masters. And this new generation of ultra P.C. bullshit sickens me. All these "activists " with their ever-growing list of trigger words and just putting every word under a microscope looking for someone to blame and call out is pathetic, counterproductive, and it accomplishes nothing. It takes people away from the real causes and problems, alienates good people, and is an insult to those who are truly victims of oppression and prejudice.
Where is the intersection between punk and hardcore, and political ideas? Is politics a foundational part of the punk underground?
To me, hardcore is the natural evolution of punk. These days so much metal has crept into hardcore from the music itself, the gear, the labels, and the more lofty goals of the bands that it is a far cry from the punk/hardcore I got into. The DIY scene is more in touch with the original template and ideals of punk. And to me punk is a platform to sound off against whatever pisses you off and is definitely political. Whether it be through benefits, protests, or just screaming about what pisses you off. Whether it be global politics, or your shitty boss, punk is the perfect vehicle for that frustration.
Has punk become just another echo-chamber for group think? How much of a socio-political discourse do you feel in punk these days?
For the most part, I’d say yes though I have no interest in pleasing or appeasing any of them. Social media has become such a big platform to hear and dissect ideas that most discourse happens through it and that’s a shitty way to get rational thought out in my opinion.
Veganism is a steadily growing movement nowadays. Discuss your involvement in that movement, especially given your criticism of Monsanto and other major agricultural forces.
I’ve been vegan since 1994 and it is probably the best decision I made in my life. Corporate control over the food supply and GMO foods is something I’m very outspoken against. I’m always following the latest developments whether it be companies being bought out, the always changing laws and labelling of food, being watered down for corporate interests. And just a big distrust of GMO foods especially considering the main companies involved in it are soulless bloodsucking bastards and have profit not health as their goal.
What are some essential books and/or novels that everyone should read?
1984. Anything by Chris Hedges. As far as people I respect but listen to more than read though read their books as well are Gary Null and Ralph Nader.
SEE ALSO: Parody Hardcore Bands
What two punk or hardcore bands do you think are completely underrated?
I could name a hundred. Christ on Parade, N.O.T.A., Insanity Defense, Krakdown, Zyklome A.
Ron has a new band with Anthony Corallo (Sheer Terror, Disnihil, Concrete Cross) and Mike D. (C.R., Kill Your Idols, Sleeper, Celebrity Murders, Sheer Terror) called Faithless. Check out their six-song cassette release on Brain Abuse Records:
Ron co-hosts the Saint Vitus Bar Podcast with Arty Shepherd. In March, Ron will begin DJ’ing his show “Screams from the Grave” for GimmeRadio.com.