Joey Slutman: The Hardcore Historian.
Joe Annaruma, formerly known as Joey Slutman, watched the evolution of punk and the rise of hardcore from the center of the mosh pit, and also from the stage. He played shows alongside Minor Threat, sang in costume for GWAR and continues to perform with his current band, Man is Doomed. Elizabeth Price talks to Annaruma, a recent graduate from Temple University’s history program.
Where are you from? Where were you born?
When was I born? Wow, you go right for the jugular. Well, I was born a long time ago. I was born in Brooklyn, New York. I left when I was 17. I joined the Navy. I was stationed in Virginia, that’s where I got hooked up with music. My first band was in 1980, Judicial Fear. All of us were in the Navy at the time, except for the drummer, Jimmy. We bought guitars for $50 in pawn shops. Six month later we were opening up for Minor Threat, DOA, Nina Hagen Band, all the old punk bands.
Growing up at all—were you into music very much?
My mother was listening to old Motown. She was listening to stuff like Spiral Staircase, the Turtles, Mamas and the Papas, all that ’60’s stuff. My dad, he was like the polar opposite. He was listening to like Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, all the big band acts. He also liked people no one has ever heard of, like Sergio Franchi. He’s Italian, my dad. The biggest influence on me was in my neighborhood – we’re talking about the ’60s now, when I was a little kid 6, 7, 8-years old. All the hippies out there, blasting away Jefferson Airplane. I never liked the Grateful Dead. I still don’t.
How did you get into punk music?
As I got older – into junior high, high school – I totally got into Black Sabbath. Sabbath Bloody Sabbath. That album really changed me. That and Deep Purple’s Burn. Other people were turning me on to Patti Smith. The Ramones came out. I started off listening to heavy music. Then punk rock started happening.
GWAR. Who was doing anything like that back then? Even now really, I mean. I just wanted to do something, and they needed a singer. I auditioned and I got the part.
How long were you with GWAR before you started on another project?
I was with them for maybe 16 months. Most of that time was building costumes, writing songs. I played like three shows with them and then we did a house party with no costumes. Then I met a girl down there and she wanted to move to Philly. I chose her over the band.
How was adjusting to Philadelphia? How did it compare to playing music in other places?
When I first got here in the mid-’80s there were some great bands, a great scene. I was just dying. There were bands like Ruin and Homo Picnic, Pagan Babies. It just goes on and on, so many great bands. Then things got kinda weird. I was in a band called Throttle. We were kinda strange.
What Philly acts do you like?
The bands that I liked when I first moved to Philly in ’86 were: Deadspot, She-Male Encounters, Pagan Babies, Ruin, Sink Manhattan, Resin and Trained Attack Dogs. The scene in the mid ’80’s was closing out the early punk/ hardcore scene. I caught the tail end of it.
Now? There’s a band we just played with called Black Landlord that I really like. A city like Philly is nothing without musicians like Chuck Treece. If you want to know who is my favorite band or musician in Philly, it’s Chuck Treece and his awesome band McRad.
Any good tour stories?
In New Jersey, I forget the club, it had to be 1991 or ’92. My band, Throttle, was with Murphy’s Law and some other hardcore bands. There was this metal band from Brooklyn, called Merauder. They were an all-Puerto Rican metal band. The singer was nuts. I was in the pit and he had a big-ass taser. He started tasing dudes in the ass. Next thing I knew, there was a major brawl going on. In all directions, people were beating the shit out of each other. There had to be 100 skinheads wailing . I actually got splashed with someone’s blood. Someone, I don’t know who. I was laughing, because that’s what I do when I am in those situations.
How do you feel about the hardcore scene of the 1980s being canonized now?
I feel like I was a lucky person to be at that point, right there where it started. I was living in Richmond and Norfolk, Virginia. D.C. was burgeoning – Iron Cross, Double O, Minor Threat. Black Flag would come to town all of the time. Then you had the New York scene – Agnostic Front, Cause For Alarm. Just so many bands, that would all come through Norfolk and Richmond. As far as them all being canonized now? They all should. Because they started something huge. They really did.
Upcoming shows or plans for Man is Doomed?
We’re going to be doing more recording. It’ll be out, hopefully, within the year. It could be two months from now. Or it could be a year from now. It’s a factor of time: we’re all doing so many different things. I’m only playing because I enjoy playing still. I’m not trying to get signed. I’m not trying to be big. I’m just doing it for me. Man is Doomed plays for Man is Doomed, that’s what we always say. It’s better to be in a band with your best friends than to have some worthless hipster say you’re cool. Because we’re not cool, and we’ll never be cool.
Thanks for you time Joe.
I wish I could have done better. It’s pretty lame, wasn’t it?