Thursday, August 18, 2011

Interview With Skip Long & Tim "Redd" Gallaher Formerly Of False Alarm & Nations On Fire

 EDITORS NOTE: Today Critical Mass is talking with a couple friends of mine who came of age in the early 80's hardcore scene in Central California. They both have great stories of what the scene was like then and the now legendary bands they got to play with. I hope you all enjoy this. It's "Hardcore 101" from a couple guy's who lived through it!

Critical Mass: Thanks for taking the time to talk with Critical Mass guy's. You were both in a band called False Alarm back in the early 80's. What was it like being in a hardcore punk band from California in the early 80's?

Skip Long: Thanks for having us C.M.! False Alarm was Redd on drums/manager, Skip (me) on guitar, David vocals and Nancy on bass. Redd bought a van, his parents put up with us playing in their garage for a long time! We were in Pacific Grove/Monterey California which is a tourist town on the central coast. We would have to drive the 2+ hours to San Francisco to see shows. Rarely did our town get any. When they did Redd would get us on most of them. Black Flag '83 (I think?) DOA, The 1st couple years were amazing just being in the hardcore scene. It really changed not for the better by the mid 80's. The American Hardcore movie did a great job capturing the feeling of it. Being able to see so many great shows with incredible lineups. Husker Du/Black Flag same show? That shit just doesn't happen anymore!

Tim "Redd" Gallaher: I was 15 or 16 when False Alarm started in '81. And prior to that in 1979 I had a year off from school from getting in to fights and other things, I use to go down to the record store and read "Punk" magazine. So in 1980 when California punk just started getting going I was ready to go. When I first brought home the Germs "GI" LP I know I had found what I was looking for and I knew that I wanted to play that kind of music. But it was Black Flag that lit the fuse.

CM: I know that back then punk wasn't as "accepted" in society as it is now. Did you's guy's ever have any run in's with the law? Or have gig's shut down at the last minute?

SL: Our 1st show we played was at Pacific Grove High School in '81 during lunch break! Not the greatest of ideas. I graduated the year before, Redd was still going then. The vice principal gave Redd the OK, we started playing and a barrage of food immediately came flying our way. We got in 3 songs before the principal came on the stage to stop us. Dave wouldn't give him the mic, then flipped him off as he was giving a talk to the crowd. The whole show lasted probably 5 minutes!

TG: No it was not accepted and I got in to a few fights for looking the way I did. And I did have a few scrapes with the law. Now False Alarm had the plug pulled on us a few times. We would get 3 or 4 songs in and they would shut us down. And if we did finish our set someone would have been hurt or something would have been broken. So whatever the outcome was we were told that we could never play there again. The only time this did not happen was at the Tool & Die or the On Broadway in S.F.

                                                                   Tim "Redd" Gallaher
CM: Did False Alarm ever put out any releases, whether it be a 7", EP or full length?

SL: We recorded a few shows, made a demo in SF, but never released any vinyl.

TG: We recorded two demos, 13 - 15 songs each time. And one we sold copy’s of "I.W.L.P.I.F." I still have the tapes and have been in the talks with 2 labels to put out a limited release, but both the labels have gone under.

CM: I can only imagine the bands you guy's must have either seen live or played with during this period in your lives. Are there any shows that really stand out from those years?

SL: Man there were so many. The Bad Brains, Fear at the Elite Club (formerly the Filmore West) Black Flag/Husker Du at the On Broadway. DOA, Circle Jerks many time, always great. The Circle Jerks at Bleaks Hall in SF stands out as my favorites. It was Redd and my 1st hardcore show in SF and they weren't carding for beer! A stand out in '83 would be playing at the Mabuhay Gardens. I can't even remember the lineup, but it was THE MAB!!

TG: Some of the bands that we played with that were high lights for False Alarm would be Black Flag, DOA, Scream, Government Issue. There were so many shows that I went to it is hard to say what stood out show wise, but if you can name a 80's hardcore band there is a 90% chance I seen them if they came to S.F. On a typical weekend I would go to the city on a Friday, catch a gig, then hit an afterhours gig, wake up on a floor somewhere on Saturday and do it all over again. '81 – '89 is kind of a big blur. There was a lot of alcohol and drug use for me. But I can say the bands that were always great were D.O.A., Black Flag, Circle Jerks, Bad Brains, Toxic Reasons, Minor Threat, I almost never missed a gig when they came to town.

                                                                         Skip Long
CM: After False Alarm there was Nations On Fire. What can you guy's tell us about the band? How did the band get started and are there any recordings documenting the bands existence?

SL: After False Alarm died there was EOTW (End Of The World) with Kevin Share on vocals and Bernard Godfree on Drums. Me and Nancy still on Guitar and bass. that lasted a couple years. Then Nation On Fire's 1st lineup. Redd Drums, me Guitar, Aaron Lead Guitar/Vocals, Kevin Bass. Aaron wrote most of the songs. Very pop. I remember opening for the CroMags and GBH. We came out sounding like shit playing pop (the best I could describe it was a punk John Mellencamp!). CroMags came out and blew the doors off everyone.

The 2nd lineup was me Guitar/Vocals, Redd drums, Chris Bass/vocals. Definitely a turn for the better, but a pretty weak bunch of songs. The 3rd lineup was Kevin joining on vocals. then Chris left and Kevin played bass and shared vocals with me with Redd on drums. We played a couple mini tours with MDC. The standout show was at Fenders Ballroom in LA. The place had a fire not long before and to my knowledge was condemned by the fire department. During the band after us (can't remember who) set, the police and fire department showed up to shut down the show. Broke into the kind of riot LA was famous for!

TG: Well False alarm was Skip on guitar Nancy on base, David vocals and myself on the drums. And Kevin wrote a bunch of the lyrics and he designed the bands 2 logos. We broke up when David moved off and went to school and that is when I started collage. But that did not last long for me. The school took a dim view of me drinking in class in the mornings. So Skip, Nancy and now Kevin on vocals with new drummer Bernie formed E.O.T.W. And I went on to play with the Insults when both those bands ended in late '83 -'84. Skip, Kevin on bass and I started up Nation On Fire and at about a year in we added Arron from Biohazard on lead guitar we played a bunch of gigs up and down the coast of CA, but split up do to personnel reasons. Kevin and Arron formed the Love Dogs. And Skip and I formed Que Sera Sera and both bands played some of the same songs. And there was a verbal agreement the neither could use the name N.O.F. After about 9 months Kevin asked if he could come back to the band. But since we had a bass player, Chris [from Connecticut], Kevin took over the vocals. At about that time we were really tight with M.D.C., and we started touring with them. We shared a van and equipment. They were really good guys that took us under their wing. At one point there was talks about putting out an EP on Radical Records so we went in the Old Wally Heider Studios in S.F. and heard Gary Creiman who recorded with M.D.C., FLIPPER and other S.F. punk groups. We knocked out 10 songs in  two 12 hour recording sessions only to have the project shelved when it was discovered that M.D.C.’s record label was being ripped off by Tab Rex Enterprises who the band worked with to put out the records. And at that point M.D.C. started paying off the bands on the label out of their pocket. SO we have one more unfinished project just sitting on the shelf and are looking for someone who might want to release some old punk from the 80’s.

CM: I've seen some of the flyers and hand bills and you guy's played with Bad Religion, MDC, Naked Raygun, Crimpshire, and D.I. among others. What was it like playing those shows with such legendary bands?

TG: Well let me start with yes, we played with some good bands like Black Flag, D.O.A., Bad Religion, Scream, G.B.H., Blast, Husker Du, M.D.C., Naked Raygun and way to many to list. But they were not legendary at the time. But for the most part just a bunch of cool guys in good bands. There was not much big headed ego maniacs running around at the time. Bands would network with each other, you gave out personnel phone numbers. It was much different back then. So when we played with them it was just another gig and a chance to make new friends and contacts.

CM: Was there ever a time when one of your bands played with a band you really looked up to, only to be let down by one of the guys in one of those bands being a real asshole?

SL: Can't think of any at the moment.

TG: I do not remember ever being let down by any band. Like I said they were just gigs. Some were better than others. And if anything, we were the dickhead assholes. The Monterey punks were a little more on the violent side than most in the early years. A lot of the S.F. punks at first thought we were H.B.’s, the notoriously violent kids out of Huntington Beach in the early 80’s.

CM: How do you feel about punk rock being so accessible and hip now? Do you feel the music has lost it's edge with bands like Green Day going top 40 and so called "punk" bands like Sum 41 and Good Charlotte?

SL: You can still go to small local shows where the energy and attitude is still there. I don't follow many new bands. I'll check them out if a friend recommends them. It's depressing to see bands with all the killer equipment, the best of everything, playing very formula punk pop. I look forward to seeing the bands I grew up with coming to town, TSOL, Circle Jerks(not anymore!) Adolescents.

TG: Oh let me say the M.D.C. song "Timmy Yo" sums some of it up. I dislike most of that crap that you would see on the main stage on a Vans tour. To me it is bubble gum punk.
And I think most of the band’s sound like a formula from what Bad Religion and Social Distortion have become witch I do not like and I crack up when I see all the Hot Topic punks out there.

There are a few old bands out there that deserve to be played on the main stream that most of the H.T. punks have maybe never heard of like D.O.A or the Dickies. Now there is still some good fairly new punk bands out there. Keith Morris’s new band OFF is one for example.

CM: If you could go back and do it all again, would either of you change the way you did things? Or would you do it the same way again?

SL: Shit, I don't know. Maybe learned to play guitar 1st! Try to get along a little better with a few band mates.

TG: Yes, I would do it all over again. Change nothing.

CM: Any words of wisdom to any young kids out there looking to form a band?

SL: You don't have to have the best gear. Meet new friends, have fun. If you are going to try to play shows have someone in the band that isn't afraid to make tons of phone calls and annoy promoters until they give in! Get a good practice room.

TG: Just play for yourself. Don’t do it to be famous, popular or to make money. Let your angst flow and you will be surprise at who you connect to. Yes, it is hard. But don’t give up. just keep it real and have fun.

CM: I wanna thank you both again for talking with Critical Mass and telling your stories of surviving the first wave of hardcore punk rock. Kids these days have it too easy. You're the elder statesmen of a dying breed. Thanks again guy's.

TG: Thanks for talking with us. I have stories galore and am always glad to share.

EDITORS NOTE: Here's an old False Alarm Show Review From November '82 from a show at On Broadway in San Francisco. Pretty cool read.

Government Issue, Scream, Capitol Punishment, False Alarm, Riot

by Dr. Music

Riot from Santa Cruz/Monterey area opened the show to about ten of their faithful supporters. Needs some work, but they could be good, keep at it! I just wish the lead singer would look up once in a while.

False Alarm from Monterey played next. What can I say, these guys are suicidal. They seem to have an aversion for playing in an upright position. The lead singer spent about 3/4 's of the time in the air and even tried to dive into a glass of water placed onstage. He couldn't fit into it though and ended up with quite a few cuts. False Alarm has energy that won't quit, ever! We should have more people with this kind of enthusiasm! Lots of Fun!

Capitol Punishment kept it going with more fast, rad tunes, one right after another.

Scream, from D .C ., played next and did they crank! Included in their set was this great rockabilly-ska-square-dance song that took everyone by surprise and got everyone dancing . More bands should take chances on new or different stuff. Don't worry about what people think, just do it!

Everyone got upset at G .I ., from D .C ., who ended the show, because they didn't look hardcore. Sky Stabb came out in this great pastel outfit with shades and they blazed out some great songs. No one in S .F . seems to want to have fun at shows or can see the humor in visiting bands that do.These guys were great but people would not allow themselves to admit it because they didn't look "right ". Don't go by appearance. Go by the music! FALSE ALARM.


  1. why did you guys not .tell about all the other PUNK Band in town. that you Played with ..???? and was apart of the punk in Monterey . like all my Bands,and all the others one hear.TO... l like the story but .its not the Hole story..! .from Monterey./ M.B. Scum. punk. so much more. not Talk about ...skip n Redd/ your bands great punk . stuff. for sure .. maybe next time you do this . you can tell the rest of it. >>>? Deakin xxx hard core. punker. see you in the PIT...

  2. anonymous ..that would be a great story and i hope Critical Mass will let us tell the story of the M.B.SKUM / monterey story of growing up in the burth of hardcore for there were so many good bands that came out of there

  3. I would be more than happy to set up another interview. The stories Skip and Redd have need to be told. The story of hardcore is a big book to fill. But I'm more than happy to fill a few pages!

  4. is it possible to get copies of the FALSE ALARM tapes? i remember the review of one of there demos from mrr so i've been interested in hearing them for afew years now(i'm from england)..i understand there was some footage aswell? (taken at a show with m.a.d/ryot/scapegoats)


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