Sunday, August 21, 2011

Catching Up with Brian Macko

If you're reading this, and I'm sure you are. 
You most likely know Brian Macko. 
The former frontman for World Indifference and  Voice Or No Voice has been a mainstay on the New York and New Jersey Hardcore scene for ages. Whether he's on stage, in the pit showing his support to his favorite bands during a sing along or at the bar raising his glass to good times and good friends. 
You can count on Macko and his 6'6 frame to be in the middle of it all. In 2010 we lost one of the good guys when Brian and his beautiful wife moved to South Florida is search of opportunity and a better life. 
Brian recently returned north for a visit. 
I was still recovering form surgery and sadly missed out on seeing him when  Supertouch played Kearny Irish.  I did however manage to send him some questions to see just how well  he's adjusted to living in the Florida sun and what he misses most about the Dirty Jerz. Special thanks to Ken Salerno for contributing the amazing shots. I think they more than show off Brian's energy and personality. 
His contribution to the blog is immeasurable.  James Damion

James: You recently made it up to see Supertouch at Kearny Irish. Was that the key reason for your visit?

Brian: Actually, that wasn’t the key reason why I came up to visit, but probably ranked number three on the list. The main reason that I came up to the Jersey and NYC area was to go to one of my childhood friend’s wedding reception. He and his wife live out in Albuquerque New Mexico, so that weekend was the first time that I have seen them since they left two years ago. The second reason that I came up was to see my family, since family has always been a big part of my life while growing up. The one family member that I made it a point to go and pay a visit to was my Aunt Martha. The justification of why that I made it a point to go and see her was just a couple of weeks ago she was admitted into a nursing home/rehabilitation center located down in the Lower East side. She is the only other member in my family that has the same hereditary eye disease that I have. 
This woman has endured such a hard life through countless medical trials and tribulations starting with her vision loss thirty-seven years ago. Now at the age of 60 years old, for she is confined to a wheelchair, and is still legally blind, but still she has that PMA 
(Positive Mental Attitude).

James: Do you have fears about the future, with your own sight and not being able to live as you're already accustomed to? 
If so, How do you look at it and how do you deal with the aspects?                   

Brian: I lost my vision back in 2001 due to a disease called Leber Hereditary Optical Neuropathy (LHON).  My vision has pretty much stayed the same since then,
so I really don’t fear myself losing more vision, and this is because this disease is dormant.
It’s not supposed to progressively get worse, but you never know what life hands you.
I mean I could walk out the door tomorrow and get hit by a car, or get clubbed in the head by a blunt object, and from there I could lose all my vision due to multiple detached retinas.
What I am pretty much saying is that I try to live every day “Day by Day.”
There are a couple of things that I learned after I lost my vision.  I now learned that I judge people for who they are, and not what they look like, and that shit also just comes along with maturity.  I have also realized in my life that there is always someone else out there that has it much worse off than me, so that self pity shit doesn’t apply to me anymore, and this is because I have had this vision impairment for the last ten years.  I mean don’t get me wrong there are days that I get so frustrated that my vision impairment doesn’t allow me to do certain things, but then again I realize that it is not the end of the world.
One of the big positives of living down here in South Florida is there is a place called the Bascon Palmer Eye Institute, and this place is the only place that is doing research on my eye disease.  They are doing a study which includes a battery of eye tests, blood work, and questioning the individual who has the LHON gene.  I got involved in this study last January, and went back for my second visit last July.  I am not getting my hopes up too high thinking that I am going to get my vision back, but I am keeping my fingers crossed.
The one thing that I could say about how this vision impairment has changed my outlook on life is that I have become much more positive, for I mean I use to be a miserable prick when I had my vision, and now I am a much more positive person. 

James: How good was it seeing old friends and band mates, one of which was playing with Supertouch?

Brian: It was amazing to see all my friends. 
I got to chill with Mikey Marmo 
(played bass in 
Voice or no voice) three out of the six days that I was up, so that was mad cool. 
I didn’t get to hang with
Jon Biviano (guitar in Supertouch/Voice or no voice) all that much, but was mad psyched to see him play the shit out of that guitar. There was also another ex-band mate from
World Indifference that actually put on the show and his name is Ed “Ox” Occhipinti
(also owns and tattoos at Jinx Proof Tattoo), and it was really good shooting the shit with him since we really haven’t done that in years. I was extremely stoked to see Alf Bartone
(lead vocals in Ex Number Five/The Fire Still Burns and now
plays bass in Damn This Desert Air), for it was the first time that I caught their whole set, and that shit was mad powerful. Last but certainly not least, getting to see 
Caught in a Trap was definitely a treat, and this is because playing so many shows with those guys, and seeing them play that night brought back so many memories of 
Voice or no Voice. It’s pretty funny that when you look at the Caught in a Trap guys at face value, for you would think here’s a bunch of scary tough guys from Queens, but in actuality they are just a bunch of nice tough guys from Queens that play in an amazing band. 
Overall, the show was a success for me since I got to see many people 
that I haven’t seen in such a long time, so a big thanks goes out to Ox and Scott Mayers for putting on the show.

James: Were you at all surprised or disappointed about Andy no longer playing with Supertouch?

Brian: Am I surprised that Andy is not playing in Supertouch?  The answer to that one is                  “No comment.”  I am sorry, but I am not going to be the one that explains why Andy is not playing in Supertouch, for that question should be answered by Andy.
Now, you asked if I am disappointed that Andy is no longer playing in Supertouch, and the answer to that one is “Yes.”  I always like to see bands with their original members, and this is because the original members’ flavor is so pure to the original sound.  I mean don’t get me wrong Dean on Bass, and Rich on drums are doing an amazing job, but it is just a totally different dynamic.  Andy is a tremendous drummer, and an incredible person, so I knew it wouldn’t be long before he was playing in another band.  I was lucky enough to see Andy play in the legendary NYHC band Absolution at the Black N Blue Bowl this past year.
He sounded awesome like always, and I can’t wait to hear the new stuff that they recorded. 

James: Should we start expecting more frequent trips up North in the future?

Brian: I really can’t give you a solid answer on that one, and that is because if I am able to attain a job in the very near future, for then I won’t make it up as much as I want to.
I would totally want to make it up as much as possible, but financial restraints are what keep me down here. It’s weird, if I have no job then I have no money and tons of time. If I have a job then I have the money but no time to do anything. So, all I could say is we will take it as it comes.

James: Tell me about the move and what prompted you to move where a lot of people go to die.

Brian: Well, the actual move took place on 10/20/10 at 7:00am in the morning. 
My wife and I got on the road at 7:00am in the morning to head down to Virginia, and this was because we had to check in with Amtrak’s auto train at noon. We arrived on time to check in, and get some food; in addition we were able to rest up a little bit before getting on the train. The train actually left at 4:00 pm, and by 5:30 pm we found ourselves drinking some Sam Adams beers in the lounge car. We were served dinner at 7:00 pm which wasn’t all that good, but it did suffice to fill me up for the time being. Dinner was over for us at 8:00pm, so that pretty much meant that we were headed back to our seats for a ten hour toss and turn type of sleep in these undersized train chairs. These chairs weren’t really that undersized, but for my 6 foot 6 inch ass everything seems to be undersized. The last call for breakfast was at 7:00am, and that is when we decided to get our aching asses down to the dining car. Again, the meal they served was not memorable, but did serve its purpose to fill me up. 
Now, after breakfast we had a little bit of time to rest until we arrived in Sanford Florida at 9:00 am. Once we got off the train and into our car, for we had a bright idea to call our travel agent back in New Jersey. We asked her to book us five days at Disney World since we were only a town away and also because the moving company that we used wouldn’t be down in South Florida for another ten days. We arrived in our Disney resort room a little after 11:00 am, and we were in Magic Kingdom by noon. I am not going to get into great detail about the time spent at Disney World, but let me just tell you when they have the food and wine tasting at Epcot, for it is a fucking blast. 
Our last day at Disney World was spent hitting up some rides and getting some food. 
We left the park at 1:30pm, and probably got on the Florida Turnpike at 2:00pm. 
Our destination was to get to my Uncle’s house in Cooper City by 6:30pm, but we didn’t actually get there until around 8:00 pm. Fast forward 2 months and some change later, for its 1/11/11 and my wife and I purchase a town house a town over from my Uncle’s house.

You asked why I would move down to the place where most people move to just before they die, for the answers are love and money. Financially having a mortgage in New Jersey was draining the both of us, so moving down to South Florida made perfect sense. 
What I mean by this is we were able to buy a place out right without having to get a mortgage, and that alone has relieved a lot of tension. The second reason I mentioned was love. What I mean by this is my wife is a huge fan of  South Florida, so since she loves it down here, for then I will learn to love it too. Don’t get me wrong, I also chose to move down here, because we could have probably gone anywhere in the U.S, but I chose here out of result of having two Uncles down here. Even though I moved away from my home, family and friends, for I still needed to be around some family, so hopefully that explains the justification for the South Florida relocation.

James: What was the adjustment like? We're there any moments of anxiety or moments where you thought, "What the hell have I done?".

Brian: To be completely honest I wake up every day thinking to myself was this the right choice. 
Some days I think that it was, and some days I think it wasn’t. I think that when I get a job and settle into the job, for then I will be a little more adjusted in living down here. 
Right now being unemployed makes me feel like I am in limbo, so once I attain a job then that feeling will fade.  As far as living in a new environment goes, for this place has its pros and cons. Some of the pros are: I live near mad stores, so my blind ass can walk to all of them if I have to. We live only 20 minutes away from the beach, airport, and the down town area.
The transportation service that they have down here for the handicap is pretty damn dependable. Now, the cons are: Things are close, but I would much rather have them closer like they were in New Jersey. Some days the heat is really fucking unbearable, so that keeps my ass indoors as much as possible. Now when it comes to the bus system and the Tri-rail, for they both stop running at around 11:00pm, so if you’re late just a little bit then you are fucked. If you are late a little bit then you have to wait around for the next bus or train at 4:00am, so that shit definitely blows. 

James: What do you miss most since the move?

Brian: I miss my family and friends the most. 
I definitely miss New York City, from going to shows, or just walking around Manhattan. 
I miss the food without a doubt. New York and New Jersey hands down have the best pizza and bagels. Clifton has the best hot dogs at the 
Hot Grill, so whenever I come up for a visit that is the first place I like to hit up.

James: Have you managed to find any music or scene to grab hold of since you've been down there?

Brian: There really hasn’t been much luck of finding any type of seen down here, but I really can’t say that I been looking that hard either. There are three clubs/venues that are pretty close to me in Fort Lauderdale. A small club called the Poorhouse caters to the local bands, and is probably comparable in size to Dingbatz in Clifton. The next venue that is stepped up in size is the Culture Room, and you could have touring bands play here, and for example the Misfits are coming through here in a couple of months, but that shit isn’t really the Misfits to me. The third venue is called Revolutions, for I haven’t even seen this place yet, but I know that bands like Thrice are playing here very soon. There is also the Bank Atlantic Center located in Sunrise where I went to see Rush, and that place reminded me of the Meadowlands in Jersey. There is a place that has a lot of promise that is located down in Miami, and is called Churchhills. It’s not a big club at all, for it has a decent size stage, Premier League Soccer on all the flat screens, and a very good selection of beverages. The one knock on this place for me is that it is a little too far for me to get to, especially since I don’t drive due to my blindness.

James: Is there any chance you'll be coming up to play a 
Voice or no Voice reunion show anytime soon?

Brian: I would love to play a reunion show with those guys, but I highly doubt it. That question should definitely be asked to Andy and Biv.
If I had total control over us playing a reunion show, for our asses would definitely be playing a reunion show. I did Joke around with Ox about playing a World indifference reunion show, and he said anything is possible, so maybe you’ll be hearing about that.

James: What are you listening to these days?

Brian: To be completely honest with you I have been listening to my Ipod on shuffle, and sports talk radio (790AM The Ticket ESPN Radio) If I had to give you five bands that I have been listening too since I moved down here, and their albums. This is in no particular order of how they are listed.

Supertouch, their new songs that they put out on Reaper Records, and all their old stuff. I got stuck on a Supertouch kick since out of the 9 months that I have been down here, for I have been up to see them twice.

The Wait, I have been listening a lot to their demo CD with my wife, and that CD reminds me so much of home. That CD is mad catchy, and those guys are the nicest guys around. I use to play mad shows with them when they had Paul on drums, and they were called Endgame. When Paul left the band they wanted to continue playing music, but they wanted to change up their sound, so I told them that I knew a guy named Sergio Spina. Sergio use to play in a band with me and Mikey back in the late 90’s called Deny Victoria. He also played in True Zero, My Favorite Citizen, No love lost, Run like Hell, and Scary Hours, so you could definitely say Sergio is an experienced drummer. I am only telling you this because I would like to think that I had little part in a good band coming together.

Rival Schools new album, Pedals. The new Rival Schools album is fucking amazing. Their first album “United by Fate” was phenomenal, and this album is becoming a close second. The last time this band put out a album was close to ten years ago, and in that year I spent most of my time in South Florida. Why did I spend a lot of time in South Florida during that year was because my girlfriend now wife was living down here. Now, its 2011 and Rival Schools puts out another album, furthermore my ass is back in South Florida, so does this seem coincidental? Hmmmm.

Rush - The Best of Rush. Lately I have been listening to a decent amount of Rush. I guess that kind of seems weird hearing that I am listening to Rush being that I sang in a hardcore band. I guess it has to do with the fact that my brother in law bought tickets for my wife and I to go see Rush while he was down here in late March. I was totally psyched after seeing them perform, and this is because I really wasn’t into them that much, but afterwards I realized that those guys are an amazing bunch of musicians. Listening to them play live totally reminded me of playing with Mikey, Biv and Andy, so that is what made me appreciate them even more.

Sick of it All - Everything. This band will always be playing on my Ipod or my walkman. I’ve been listening to this band since I was 12 years old, and shit is not gonna change any time soon. The first time that I seen this band was September 1993 at City Gardens in Trenton. They headlined that show, for Into Another played an amazing set second, and Rancid kicked the door down to open the show. They ended up putting that show out on Lost N Found Records named “Live in a World Full of Hate”. If you look in the insert you could see me and Mikey with our arms stretched out, and my arm looks like its ten feet long. Now, that was the first time that I’ve seen them, and the most recent time that I caught them was at the 2011 Black N Blue Bowl this past Memorial Day weekend. Almost 18 years later and they are still killing it. That’s why they are built to last.

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