Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Interview with Mike Judge

Mike Judge at This is Hardcore
Photo by Anne Spina
Getting to see Judge at This is Hardcore was really awesome, but a few days later when my dad and I were walking on the Capitol Mall in Washington, DC, I learned what a really nice guy Mike Judge was when I saw him post a comment on my instagram. Thank you for doing this interview Mr. Judge!!!

PMAKid: I have gotten to know a lot of people in the hardcore music scene since I started three years ago.  I have met a lot of newer and younger bands and a lot of the older hardcore kids like you. People like SOIA have been playing constantly for years, friends of mine like 7 Seconds and other bands like YOT come in and out of the scene.  Judge was one of the bands that everybody wanted to come back and play.  A lot of people I know thought it would never happen. Why did you finally come back and decide to play shows again?

Mr. Judge: It's funny that you say people wanted to see Judge again. I really didn't see it, I guess I just wasn't paying attention because once I made the decision to get back together with the guys, it became pretty apparent that this was a pretty big deal. I was getting emails and messages from places I've never even heard of. Just people from all over saying that they couldn't wait to get tickets and come to New York to see us play on that weekend. It was pretty overwhelming. Truthfully, it was an amazing time, an amazing experience and one I'll never forget.

PMAKid: My mom and dad are always reminding me to be grateful and thankful for people who help me in any way.  A lot of people have been really kind to me, but one of the most amazing things has been what you did for me.  I am sure a lot of people do not know the story so I am going to tell everybody before I ask my question.  

This was the best mail day. Mike Judge sent me HIS
setlists from BnB and TIHC! Curt Canales sent me
this awesome Chain of Strength watch. These guys
are so nice!!!
I had been really excited to see Judge.  My dad had told me about seeing them play at CBGBs and at the Anthrax a long time ago, and I had heard them played in my house a lot.  I was standing on the steps on the side of the stage next to Civ (who was really nice to me! I hope I can interview him some day!) during the Judge set at This is Hardcore.  Because Joe Hardcore was really awesome and gave me VIP passes, I was able to collect a few setlists for me and for some friends like Ashley Bunce. I REALLY wanted a Judge setlist! After Judge finished, I was pulling the tape off a setlist and some guy took it out of my hands and jumped off the stage. A few days later, I posted something on my instagram and mentioned something about losing the Judge setlist. Somehow, Mike Judge ended up on that instagram post and read about it.  A couple weeks later, I got in the mail his copy of the setlists (with his notes) for both the This is Hardcore show and the BnB show (the first time Judge played in years, I think). When I think about that I am still amazed that he would send those to a kid he never met!

What you did for me was so nice, especially adding the one from BnB! This is probably a weird question, but I think the answer is probably important for me and everybody to know.  Why did you do that?  

Mr. Judge:  I remember that. Actually, what I really remember is the night I came home, maybe the night after. I was looking for the set list that h2o did that night. I had missed the first couple songs of their set and I just wanted to see what they opened up with. You had posted up a pic of their set list. I remember reading the comments and someone had said to you, "glad that you got the h2o set list, bummer about the judge set list". You responded with something about a big guy grabbing the setlist from you. I don't know, that just rubs me the wrong way. It touched on a few things that I hate most in people. One is bullying. I believe, me as someone who's been a part of this for quite a long time, it's up to me to make sure that there are a new generations ready to take my place when I'm gone. This scene has given me a lot as I've grown up. I want to pay it back anyway that I can. One of the most important things I can do as one of the "old timers" is to make sure you young guys are not pushed around in any way. I want to make sure I give to you the same chances that were given to me by the guys who came before me. I don't want to see you influenced by things that are bad and things that are wrong, I want you to be able to make up your own mind, go your own way, write your own song. I never want this to die.

Also, I was kind of hoping you would post pictures of the set list that I gave you, and the guy who took yours would see that you have my own personal copies and if he did, I wanted to make sure he seen something special, so I  threw in the bnb setlist. It has my notes written on it. Just the things I wanted to remember to say and it's also crumpled up a bit and that's because I was nervous as hell. So to make a long story short, We take care of our own. I hope That was the lesson.

PMAKid: I see a lot of older people at hardcore shows.  A lot of them are bringing their kids to shows now too.  Can you give me your thoughts on this?

Mr. Judge:  I think it's great. like I said before someone has to take our place. Too many important things happened in this scene, for us to let it dwindle away. Where will the kids with the wild imagination go. It's up to us to lead the way now. So yeah, I love seeing the young kids there. It gives me hope.

PMAKid: One of the things that is so awesome about hardcore is that everybody feels like it is a part of their family.  We can be any type of person, but we seem to all be respected. It took me a while to understand that, but I know now that when I go to a show and meet other hardcore kids, it is like a family reunion.  Do you feel like it was the same when you were in hardcore in the 1980s, or has it changed?

Mr. Judge: Well yeah, family is a big part of it. When I first started coming out to the shows the scene was small 20-30 people at the most. We were a tight knit group. We were all different , punks, skins and everything else in between. The one thing we have in common was the music. This scene itself was a home and we all looked out for each other. We picked each other up when we were down. I never really got that at home . I'm not even sure I knew what family was until I found the New York hardcore scene. That's why I talk so much about keeping it alive. Because what happens to that kid, who was like me, if he doesn't find that place to call home.

PMAKid: I grew up knowing the guys in 7 Seconds, especially Kevin.  I knew that they had put out a lot of records and a lot of people liked them.  Something that Toby Morse said onstage at This is Hardcore was interesting. He said that even though Kevin was only a little older, he was kind of like his father. Sometimes I think a lot of people think this way.  Can you give me your thoughts on this?

Mr. Judge: I've looked up to Kevin for a long time. His words were some of the first that got inside of me. They live with me. I remember a long time ago when I first joined youth of today. My first show with them was in Canada. It was the first time I was ever going to be out of New Jersey. It was overwhelming to say the least. Add the fact that we are playing with 7 seconds and I am nothing but a ball of nerves. When we finally get to the club I'm backstage . It happened to be my birthday. So out of nowhere I hear Ray Cappo singing Happy birthday. He is followed by Porcell and Kevin seconds. I just remember looking around the room, and in my head I'm just thinking yesterday I was in New Jersey, today I am in Canada and Kevin seconds is singing happy birthday to me. Kevin seconds has always been a big reason why I write music . There are few people I really look up to is far as writing words. One is Neil Young and the other is Kevin seconds. I remember when I first heard the new wind record, I thought this is how good we can all be. I still look up to him to this day.

Mike Judge and my friend
Brian Murray
PMAKid: I have listened to your Old Smoke record, so I know you listen to other stuff besides hardcore.  Can you tell me about some of the music you like and what it means to you?

Mr. Judge: Well, I grew up on country music. My father loved old country music. Unfortunately, I was little punk kid and I was rebelling against everything. As I got older, I learned to appreciate that stuff again. I'll always listen to singer-songwriters. Think there's nothing more honest then someone sitting down with acoustic guitar or piano and singing words that come from the heart. There's no wall of sound hide behind . The way I write my words, all my open wounds, all my damage are there for you to see .

PMAKid: The Mayor of Sacramento is Kevin Johnson.  He used to play for the NBA.  When he retired he came back to his old neighborhood and started doing things to help clean it up and get better schools because he knew that not every kid could go to a university on a basketball scholarship.  Can you give me your thoughts on this?

Mr. Judge: I think that's really great. I wish I had people who cared more when I was in school. I did have one teacher who cared way too much and lost his job because of it. After that I was just disillusioned . I just stayed in the shadows until it was time for me to leave. And when I got out I never looked back. Now, I wish I did care. I know i could have given so much more. So when I hear things like your mayor doing what he's doing. It makes me feel like maybe there is some hope. People like that need to be celebrated, it seems like society would rather celebrate privileged people who haven't done anything for anyone except themselves. That's sad. So good for your mayor.

PMAKid: There are a lot of crappy things that happen everyday.  Small things and big things.  How do you deal with these things?

Mr. Judge: Well you're right there are a lot of crappy things in this world. The main thing I like to do is write about them . I'm going to take the crappiest thing that is going down and then I'm going to write a song about it. Then I'm gonna get together with my friends and we are gonna scream and yell about it. There's a great line in a Black Flag song that sums it all up,  " I've got nothing to do but shoot my mouth off".

Stay true little brother


  1. It's hard to believe your so young. Thank you for asking him these great questions!

    kJudge (Mike's wife)

  2. I finally got interviewed by PMAkid! Thanks little Brother, your doing a killer job!

  3. Great interview. Besides these really great questions there's some kind of vibe in the communication which warms my heart and gives me hope. Maintain your PMA.

  4. awesome read. keep up the good work!


(Noting that this site is primarily run by a kid, his parents ask you to keep profanity and offensive commentary out of your posts.)