Interviews

YDI Vocalist Neil “Jackal” Perry Looks Back on the Philly Band’s History

YDI @ the Longmarch, Philadelphia, PA, 1983. (Photo: Dan Mayers)

Philadelphia is a city that often gets ignored and not talked about a lot when it comes to punk and hardcore history. But the region had and has a rich and vibrant history and scene full of many great bands and people.

Check out Ruin, Mcrad, Pagan Babies, FOD, and of course, the infamous YDI (pronounced “Why Die”).

Here we have a warm cuddly Hardcore Conversation with vocalist Neil “Jackal” Perry.

You are Neil “Jackal” Perry, singer of Philadelphia’s own YDI, correct?

Yes.

Are you a Philadelphia native?

Yes, I am a Philadelphia native. I grew up in the Brewery Town section of Philly.

Photo courtesy of Southern Lord Recordings

What was it like growing up there? 

It was a working-class black neighborhood. Some parts were unsafe but not that bad compared to some other neighborhoods.

Whats the first music you remember getting into? 

I remember I use to really like The Green Hornet TV show in 1967 and the opening theme music. I was 6 yrs old. It was Al Hirt's version of "Flight of the Bumblebee."

Were you into horror movies as a kid?

Yes. I remember my older brother took me to see Night of the Living Dead in 1969. I was 8 yrs old and it scared the shit out of me! 

How and when did you first get into punk and or metal and how did the locals treat you and fellow punks back then? 

1979. My older brother turned me onto Devo. I then bought Slash magazine from 3rd Street Records and started to read about the Germs and Black Flag. Locals did not like punk rockers at all. They were confused about us.

What did your parents and family think of the band and punk in general?

They thought we were all crazy.

Were you at that infamous Buff Hall Minor Threat, SSD, Agnostic Front, etc. in ‘82 (where Ian got hit by a car while talking to Al Barile of SSD outside the show)? Any memories from that?

Yes, I was there. It was an awesome show! The bands kicked ass! The energy in the audience was amazing!

How’d you decide to form a band and how did you meet the other guys in YDI?

I was in another band before YDI called Legion of Decency. We broke up and I was looking to get in another band. I met Chuck [Meehan, original YDI bass player] at the Starlite Ballroom in 1980 I think, or 1981. It was a Circle Jerks show. I met Howard [OG YDI drummer] at the East Side Club in 1981.

I met Mike [OG YDI guitar player] at 9:30 Club in Washington, DC in 1982 at a Minor Threat show.

From the collection of Michael S Begnal

How did songwriting work in YDI? Did you write words and other guys wrote music or what? 

Me and Mike wrote the lyrics. Mike and Chuck wrote the music

What inspired your lyrics? 

Hatred.

From the collection of Anthony Allen Begnal 

What do you remember about the recording of the A Place in the Sun 7 inch?  

I can't remember much about it. It was fun though.

What about the Get Off My Back (Philly hardcore compilation) sessions? How did that comp. come about? 

Red Records did the comp. I remember they didn't pay us anything.

From the collection of Michael S Begnal

You got any good Love Hall stories? (Love Hall was kind of the CBGB of early Philly hardcore)

I saw and played some incredible shows there: Minor Threat, Misfits, Iron Cross, Negative Approach, and the Necros. It was a ton of fun and excitement.

From the collection of Anthony Allen Begnal 

Were you friends with Brubaker (OG Philly punk and singer of Circle of Shit)? Any good stories?  

Yes, I was friends with Brubaker. Got no cool stories though.

I saw you guys at the Hardcore ‘83 show at the Long March, what do you remember about that one? 

I remember I saw The Evil Dead at the Goldman Theatre prior to doing the show. When we played I was super pumped imagining I was one of The Evil Dead.

You guys switched up bass players (from Chuck Meehan to Steve Lukshides) at some point, what happened there? 

You probably should to talk to Chuck about that.

From the collection of Anthony Allen Begnal 

Did you guys ever play with the Misfits?

Yes, but not when Danzig was in the band.

From the collection of Michael S Begnal

YDI got to open the first ever Samhain show at the Rock Hotel in New York. How’d that happen?

Glenn saw us at the Great Gildersleeves show in New York in 1983 and liked us. I was a Fiend Club member. I used to write him letters. We stayed in contact and he asked us to open for his new band, Samhain.

Photos: Cynthia Finch

Was that the show where you guys opened for Minor Threat? I remember Henry Rollins and Jack from TSOL were also there.

Yes, that show.

You guys also opened a couple of the Samhain reunion gigs in 2014. Did Danzig personally reach out to you to make that happen? 

Dennis McHugh, our manager, contacted Glenn's tour manager and asked if we could play those shows. Glenn said yes!

From the collection of Michael S Begnal

My brother saw you guys play an eviction party at a house in Philly where some of the Bungaboosheye people lived in in ‘85 or ‘86. Do you remember that? He said people were pretty much destroying the place.

I remember I was on acid and just wanted smash shit up!

What’s the story with the YDI song “I Must Be Metal”? It sounds a little My War-influenced maybe? And why didn’t you guys ever record it (other than that live on WXPN)?

We never got a chance to record "I Must Be Metal" due to having no money. It would have been nice to record it. We have a lot of stuff that never got recorded.

Did YDI ever actually tour? What cities did you guys play and which ones stand out the most?

Well, we did a small tour with Goatsnake in 2015. Philly, DC, and Brooklyn. In DC Ian McKaye came out to see us! I was so fucking happy! What a cool dude Ian is!

After the 7 inch, YDI didn’t release anything til 1985’s Black Dust LP. Why the long gap there? 

Well, we didn't have much money to record.

From the collection of Anthony Allen Begnal 

Clearly the band fairly drastically changed up your “image” on that album. What’s the story with that? How did that go over with people in Philly at the time? 

We got into W.A.S.P. and more metal stuff and were smoking angel dust. Most people didn't get it back then now they like it.

Photo courtesy of Southern Lord Recordings

Where’d you get those Freddy Krueger gloves and do you still have them? 

Tim our friend handmade them. Yes, I still have them.

Photo courtesy of Southern Lord Recordings

You guys haven’t put out anything since then, any chance that might change some time? 

We are working on new stuff now and it sounds great!

Photo courtesy of Southern Lord Recordings

Nice! How’d the Southern Lord reissue come about?

[Southern Lord owner] Greg Anderson contacted us. He was a YDI fan.

Philly had a pretty huge and vibrant hardcore scene back in the day with some great bands and shows. Why do you think it never achieved the notoriety of Boston, DC, LA, NY etc? 

Because Philadelphia has always been a city that has been ignored.

From the collection of Michael S Begnal

I played in one of the opening bands (Everyday Dollars) with you guys and Vision in March, ‘04 at Malokai’s on South St in Philly. Do you remember that show? I believe it was 3/4 of the OG lineup. I remember they had good pizza downstairs [laughs]. 

I remember being wasted!

From the collection of Sean Money

Are you still in touch with any past members of the band? 

Yes.

YDI @ the Longmarch, Philadelphia, PA, 1983. (Photo: Dan Mayers)

What’s happening with YDI now?

We are going to record new songs in December. We have Chubb Rock from Eat the Turnbuckle and Crackhouse on guitar and Justin Riley from Heckle on bass. Me and Howard are the original members left. The new material is kickass and sounds like old 1983 YDI.

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Tagged: a hardcore conversation, ydi

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