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xxx ALL AGES xxx: Exclusive Chat With Director Drew Stone on His Boston Hardcore Documentary

xxx ALL AGES xxx

Boston hardcore had its class reunion in August 2010 when filmmaker Drew Stone – then known for music videos and action sports films including 12:00 NYC Street Outlaws – staged a reunion of classic Boston bands including DYS, Jerry’s Kids and Gang Green at Club Lido in Revere, Mass. Not only did it bring together people who hadn’t seen each other in over two decades. It also provided financing and footage for his documentary film about the early years of the Boston Hardcore scene, xxx ALL AGES xxx.

Let’s get this straight. Stone didn’t make a movie about the bands or the music of the Bay State’s explosive scene. He made a movie about a community and the power of youth. The scene he documented (1981-84) started out a mere speck of perhaps 25 townies, students and skateboarders and went on to became one of the most influential and musically prolific sects of the American Hardcore explosion. It’s a testament to DIY ethos in pre-internet Reagan America.

“It’s a film about the community and culture,” states the fast-talking Stone. “One of the most exciting moments for me as a filmmaker was when I screened it for some New York people and one of them said: ‘This film isn’t about Boston, it’s about me and my friends in New York.’ The same when I screened it in Philadelphia and someone turned to me and said ‘This is about me and my friends in Jersey’. It transcends the immediate subject.”

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(xxx ALL AGES xxx Executive Producer Duane Lucia and Director Drew Stone)

A New York native, Drew found himself in Boston to attend Emerson University in 1981. “Being in Boston during those years was a game-changer,” Stone, who also fronts NYC hardcore legends, Antidote, remarks. “I was there when the shit hit the fan.”

“It was like Charlie Brown: there were no adults” states SS Decontrol drummer Chris Foley in the film, referring to The Gallery East, a Downtown Boston performance space where the Boston Hardcore scene found its first foothold. Run by the film’s executive producer Duane Lucia, the Gallery provided not merely a space for scene’s linchpin bands to play but for an entire scene to gestate. Through photographs (mostly by scene photographer Phil-N-Phlash, brother of SSD frontman Springa) and raw 1981 footage that’s somehow eluded YouTube, xxx ALL AGES xxx scores where other punk and hardcore flicks stop short. It fully captures the sweat and blood that went into the Bay State’s hardcore explosion.

Watch xxx ALL AGES xxx Trailer

There are plenty of characters on-hand: Infamous skateboarder and current Thrasher editor Jake Phelps is one of the film’s “stars”: (Finest quote: “I was in the prime of my life, I was fucking ready to kill.”) Future Beverly Hills 90210 starlet Christine Elise McCarthy explains why the girls of Boston hardcore didn’t necessarily have a lot of fun. (“It would stink of testosterone in these rooms. Most of these guys weren’t getting laid”) SSD’s Springa ,”The Johnny Rotten of Boston Hardcore does his best to simply explain himself: (“I was an unbelievable vandal. I would smash and destroy anything I could. I would have probably been a career criminal if it wasn’t for this”). Clearly, the first generation of Boston’s hardcore crew was hardly a Homogenous goon-squad.

On the other hand, the ethos of the now-legendary Boston Straight Edge crew is espoused with a grin by Jack “Choke” Kelly of Negative FX and later Slapshot: “A lot of scenes were like ‘do what you want to do’. We were like ‘Fuck no! If you’re going to come to Boston, don’t think about drinking. We let people know it. It was an early marketing technique.”

Watch SSD, Live in 1981

The missing voice, however, is the one that looms largest over the film: SSD guitarist and scene prime mover Al Barile. His absence and frequent mentions throughout xxx ALL AGES xxx make him, in many ways the film’s key character – through omission. Why did Barile choose to remain silent? He’s a simple believer in the maxim: “what’s done is done”. Stone did make countless attempts to get Barile involved. “Jamie {Schirappa –SSD bassist} did say to him at one point: ‘Al, this is a love letter to you,’” Drew recalls. No dice. Unlike Minor Threat‘s Ian Mackaye, in Washington DC, who has no problem discussing the scene that he was a key part of, by Al’s absence, the early years of Boston hardcore retains a mystique few cities could ever attain.

Stone never counted on was the reception the film has already received outside expected circles including the Boston Independent Film Festival and most surprisingly “The Berklee College of Music is going to screen our film. I honestly never expected this.

xxx ALL AGES xxx laments the end of Boston’s salad days. Chock it up to the influx of “jocks” from the suburbs. The musical shift of many of the bands to metal and rock had a lot to blame. “Springa from SSD has one of the most really touching and sad moments and sad moments in the film when he talks about when he knew that SS Decontrol was really over and how painful and sad that really was,” says Stone. “It was the end of an era. That was a heavy fucking moment.”

Were there any unexpected challenges to making the film? Drew ponders the question. “Of course some people were bitter and angry about certain things,” Drew states. He also recalls having to cut through swaths of legal red tape with Dinosaur Jr‘s J. Mascis’ attorneys to get sign offs for synch rights for Mascis’ early ’80s hardcore band, Deep Wound. Ultimately Mascis himself pushed it through, wanting to make sure his band was part of the film.

Listen to Deep Wound

“I did get a bit of crap for being a New Yorker from a few people,” he laughs. “I asked them if they had seen a film called The Departed. That was by a guy from New York named Martin Scorsese!”

Stepping back from what’s been a three-year undertaking to get his movie to the screen (or mostly DVD), Stone is philosophical about the message behind xxx ALL AGES xxx. “Get up, get out and make shit happen,” he states with the very energy that courses through his movie. “Just do it.”

Get more info on xxx ALL AGES xxx at the film’s official website.

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