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There?s a great moment near the end of ?American Hardcore? ? the classic documentary charting the rise and demise of the ?80s punk scene ? when one of the surviving musicians takes a shot at what passes for punk today: ?They?re driving their tour bus on the highway we paved.?

It?s true.

Look at the money Green Day rakes in compared to what Black Flag made back in the day. Or the Dead Kennedys. Or Minor Threat. (Not that Green Day doesn?t deserve every penny.)

Herein lies the point: It was never really about the money.

Ask any survivor of the early ?80s scene, that blistering musical maelstrom defined by sweat, spit, speed and stage-dives, and they will tell that any Top 5 list would have to include Bad Brains. The on-again, off-again Washington, D.C., band that careens from furious, lightning-speed riffs to a lazy reggae stupor at the drop of a high hat, is back on again. This weekend, they resurrect classics like ?Banned in D.C.? and ?Big Takeover? on the Eco-Cup stage at the Harmony Festival in Santa Rosa.

A huge influence on everyone from the Beastie Boys to Living Colour, Bad Brains definitely paved the highway.

We caught up with dreadlocked frontman Paul ?HR? Hudson. At least we think we did. At least the dude on the other end of the phone answered to that name. And, without disclosing what city he was in, HR took a moment to chat (and cackle) about ? well, we?re not really sure:

<b>Q: Where are you today?

</b>A: We?re on the planet Earth.

<b>Q: Ah. What city are you in?

</b>A: Why would you ask that?

<b>Q: Well, I might say something like ?We caught up with HR on the streets of blankety-blank.?

</b>A: Oh, no, no sir, that?s classified information.

<b>Q: Tell me about the show you played election night (in D.C.) when Obama won.

</b>A: Well what happened is we took over the entire town.

<b>Q: What was that like, playing a town you were once unofficially banned from?

</b>A: I wasn?t ?banned? from it. It was a ?band? from D.C. It was a miscalculation in spelling, sir.

(Loud cackle).

<b>Q: I never got that.

</b>A: Yes sir, it?s not b-a-n-n-e-d, it?s b-a-n-d.

(Louder cackle).

<b>Q: Are you guys as high-energy as you were back in the day?

</b>A: Even more fierce.

<b>Q: I was just watching video of you guys at CBGB?s back in ?82 and people where getting up onstage and knocking you around. Are shows still like that?

</b>A: Some days you have to truly, truly keep yourself together and remember that sometimes the kids can go into a frenzy.

<b>Q: Flash forward to today?s show, is it that high-strung or have things mellowed a bit?

</b>A: Well, see, I?m preparing for my campaign for the presidency in three years time.

<b>Q: What?s the platform?

</b>A: We?re gonna start a new contingency program, sir.

<b>Q: Which will be what?

</b>A: That will include 50 more new states governed by yours truly.

<b>Q: Uh huh. Like for instance?

</b>A: I was thinking about Mexico. Also, England. And one other place ? um, Canada.

<b>Q: Is this really HR?

</b>A: Yes sir, the PhD cc, sir, hired to the throne of King David, sir.

<b>Q: Did this ever translate into much money?

</b>A: Yes sir, it did and it does. It?s getting bigger and bigger as we go along.

<b>Q: Bad Brains?

</b>A: Uh, the Good Brains, sir.

<b>Q: I?ve never been called ?sir? this many times.

</b>A: What should I call you?

<b>Q: Uh .<TH>.<TH>. Poobah?

(Loud cackle)

</b>A: OK, Mr. Poobah.

<b>Q: Anything you?d like to add today?

</b>A: Well see, the whole thing is this: We?ve got to get a copy of this manuscript and then we?ve got to sit down, it has to be properly edited. And I want to be assured by USA, the United States of America, that we can release our upcoming production on USA Records.

<b>Q: USA Records?

</b>A: That?s our new label.

<b>Q: How about this angle: There are a bunch of fans out there who remember you guys as being one of the most bad-ass hardcore bands around. They wanna know if they should come out and see your show.

</b>A: Speaking in terms of reality, sir, they should.

<b>Q: Give me the Top 3 reasons why they should come out.

</b>A: Number 1: The group is very educational. Number 2: The education is equal to their deliverance. And Number 3: I?m in the band.

<em>Staff Writer John Beck blogs at pop.pressdemocrat.com. He can be reached at 521-5300 or john.beck@pressdemocrat.com.<.em>

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