Joseph Pugsy Casolaro
Social Decay was one of the bands I discovered through Aversionline.com. Their 7″ “Life’s Not Hard… You’re Just Soft” is a personal favorite and songs like “All I Feel Is Pain” ended up on a couple of my mixtapes. So when all out of a sudden their vocalist Pugsy added me on Facebook, I approached him right away for an interview. Turned out they were working on a new album. But let’s skip the introduction talk and let’s see what the man has to say…
Hey Pugsy, what are you up to at the moment?
Well I was sick for a while. Getting over that now. Lost our house in a fire in May, so shit’s been a little rough. But I’m a survivor, always have been. We had to delay recording because of it. I’m now back in the gym trying to stay healthy and I’ve also been involved in mixed martial arts.
Lost your house in a fire? Damn. That sucks. What happened man?
Hit by lightening and a month later Tommy, from my band, moms house had someone drive through it. I swear, I think Social Decay has a curse.
“Lost our house in a fire in May, so shit’s been a little rough.”
Damn. You just mentioned martial arts? Black belt in anything? Or doesn’t martial arts work like that?
I’m ranked orange belt at the moment, but I’m working on becoming a black belt…
How does that work? Do you have to be able to do certain exercises or win a fight or something to level up? I have no idea to be honest. I just know the black belt is the best haha.
Well it goes by your level of skill. You have to pass tests on what you have learned and get grades, a certificate stating your rank and a belt color showing your rank. It’s not easy, but great for your mind and body as well. Keeps me in shape. I also go to a gym. I run between 4 to 6 miles a week.
You just mentioned it already, but I’ve seen you post about Social Decay recording a new album. Could you tell a bit about how that came to life? When and why did you guys decide to do that?
Well we did a show a few years back with Agnostic Front and Madball and it kinda gave us the itch to do more after. We tried getting a drummer and bass player. We went through a few then we got Timmy back, which was great. Then Dave G. came back and things kinda fell in place. So we said let’s record a full length, since we never did, and we wrote a few new songs that are friggin great. Even people who hear the rough mix say it kicks ass. So it’s great and we recorded at the legendary Trax East Studio.
Sounds good! Can’t wait to hear it. What can you tell about the new record? I expect it’s nearly finished now?
4 brand new songs and a clash of songs we did through out our 20 year stand.
So what was the best experience during the recording of the new album?
Just finally doing what we always wanted to do for so long. Record a full length record.
Why didn’t that happen before then? You guys did a couple of releases, why never a full length?
Well we broke up and never went forward with it.
Ok, and the worst experience? You already mentioned being sick and the recording getting delayed, but maybe something else?
Money… The root of all delay haha.
Haha yeah I can imagine. How far done is it now? Recording is done right? Is it properly mixed and mastered yet? Any ideas on when and how it wil be released?
Some vocals need to be redone, mixing and then it’s done….
“We are one of the original New Jersey hardcore bands.”
What do you expect of the release? When do you guys achieve your goal with it? Or is, as I can imagine, recording the record itself an achievement on its own and you’ll be happy anyway?
We did so far. A great recording, when it’s complete, it will be a new era for Social Decay..
Must be pretty cool to see people are still interested in your band and the recordings you did years ago? Did you ever expect that?
Fans, young and old, still show a lot of interest. We are one of the original New Jersey hardcore bands and the older generation passed the torch to the younger about us. So it’s all good.
Yeah but when you guys made those records, wrote those songs… Did you expect people across the world to still be listening to it years later? In other words, did you feel you guys were on to something?
It’s weird how such a small band can get spread all over the world. We always felt like things would be good and time would tell and….here we are.
I read something about a never released demo tape from after the “Life’s Not Hard… Your’re Just Soft” EP. Can you tell a bit more about that?
We did a 3 song demo after the EP. But it only got put on MySpace and a few close friends have it. We will be re-recording them and another song (‘just passin’ thru’) on a 4 song EP in the near future so be looking for that in 2011 .
So aside from the new album there will be a new EP too? Nice! Got any labels interested already?
No label yet, we may do the Eight Ball again, we shall see…
Eight Ball Productions, I didn’t make the connection yet (with the eight ball in your artwork etc), but is that a label you guys did yourself?
Yes, back in 1990 we did our own thing called 8-ball records. We put out the EP on it.
In the biography on your reverbnation page you mention that the EP never got the distribution it deserved, how come? You guys didn’t have the right contacts?
Well we broke up in 1992, so we all just kinda let the EP’s collect dust… And we never did what should have been done to get them to our fans…
Such a shame. I’m glad I got to pick it up through a post on aversionline.com. How was it to be a part of the scene back then? You played with some amazing bands.
We did get to play with a lot of great bands back in the day. Some of those we are still friends with. I guess we made our mark in the scene, even if we weren’t the biggest band in the world. I loved it back then, I still love watching the young kids and the oldschoolers go off in the pit. It’s in our blood…
How about favorite shows you guys played? Any good stories?
So many stories haha. Most packed show was Suicidal Tendencies and one of the most fun was Killing Time and Mucky Pup at a VFW in Keansburg, New Jersey. Bad stories were playing The Crypt in Philly and finding a dude stabbed and bleeding laying down in the hallway.
“Bad stories were playing the Crypt in Philly and finding a dude stabbed and bleeding.”
Damn. That must have been terrible. What happened, what did you do?
Well me and Boppo wound up being picked up and put in the riot bus. They considered us suspects, but later released us. It was a crazy night.
How did that go? Were you guys interrogated or something? How did that feel, being considered suspects?
It was messed up. They threatened to beat us up, but never did and we got released later…
It’s a shame they can threat people like that. Ever had more problems like that with the cops?
Oh yes! We had a lot of problems with the police, so many times. Some made the local newspapers. We started a riot for cops hitting under aged girls and beating on kids… If you look at the photos on my Facebook page you will see one article haha.
What’s your best memory from your time in Social Decay so far?
The Suicidal Tendencies show without a doubt for me. To see almost 2000 people go nuts in our home, back in the day, the Fastlanes in Asbury Park.
Damn. 2000 people? That’s insane. Must have made you feel proud. Did it do anything with you guys? Like raise your expectations for the future or something?
Well, it sure made us realize we had a lot of fans….
Haha. So what are the future plans for Social Decay? Are you guys going to play more shows again, tour maybe?
We will be playing as many shows as we can and we would love to tour if possible.
Nice. Come over to Europe if you get the chance! Ever been there anyway? Maybe not with the band, but on a holiday or something?
Never, but I would love to come over!
Let’s do a little test. What do you know about Europe? What stuff comes to mind when thinking about it?
Spain and Italy. Two places I want to see, being part Spanish and Italian.
“We started a riot for cops hitting under aged girls and beating on kids.”
Spain is great. We’ve been there on tour a couple of times with the band. Italy is something I’ve never been to myself. Would love to go there sometime, to the Coliseum and stuff like that. When I think of Italy I always think of the Catholic believe though. I was raised that way, but I don’t consider myself Catholic anymore. Are you religious?
Well let’s just say I believe in a higher power…
Care to explain that a bit more in-depth? I’m always curious on how people think about this. How does it influence your life, stuff like that.
Well simple, no matter how bad shit gets (and it has!), you must prevail. Overcome, survive… Believe in yourself. But sometimes a little help and hope from a higher power, what ever your faith may be… That is… everyone has different views on what that is. The will to push forward, ride out the storm till things return to normal, or again what ever you consider normal haha.
I get what you’re saying. Let’s go back to Social Decay for a second. The band went on a hiatus in 1991 right? Why?
We all went in different directions and different bands, but our hearts were always in Social Decay and the ‘what if?’ question.
What made Social Decay so special to you guys then?
Young, angry, pissed and it was our way of saying it. And as much as things change, they stay the same haha…
Haha I can imagine. What did you do in between the split and the reunion in 2008?
I was in a few bands. Did some demos, CD’s. Always wanted to go back to Social Decay though. It’s a part of me…
So we talked about the end of Social Decay, but how did it all start?
Well I wasn’t even in the band in 1984, but the band started to get bigger bills and more attention after I had joined in 1985-1986. I was just a kid listening to hardcore and punk and I heard there was a try out for the new singer for Social Decay. I went, tried out and didn’t get it! The bass player at the time wanted to sing and play bass, but Tommy wanted me as lead vocals. Well, they cut a demo with him singing, then Tommy and him had a falling out. He called me and I was in… I was 17, I’m 42 now. Holy crap, that’s a long time! 25 years and counting…
Haha that’s a great story. How did you feel about not getting the gig when you tried out? Did they tell you right away that the bassplayer didn’t want you and Tommy did, or did you hear that afterwards?
It was afterwards that tommy told me he wanted me to be lead vocals from the first time I sang.
Any other good stories from back in the day?
So many, lets just say we had a lot of fun, good times, bad times, a lot of booze, drugs, parties and always tried to keep our finger on the pulse of what was going on around us.
So how’s life treating you at the moment? Are you living the good life?
Hmm my life, I guess, could be worse… I went back to school. Trying to get a better life and make more money. Changed my life for the better. Trying to remain positive in a negative world..
What school did you went to?
Well got my GED and I’ll be attending a trade school. Info on that another time …
Ok, excuse my ignorance, but what’s a GED? I take it, the D stands for degree?
It’s a High School diploma.
Ah ok, you never finished high school in your youth?
Nope, didn’t think I needed it. I was wrong. Education is the secret to all things in life. Even in the streets knowledge is power. So to all the young bloods out there, stay in school. That way you don’t ever have to struggle!
Knowledge is power for sure. Over here it’s mandatory to do at least some kind of high school after your done with elementary school. Think it’s better that way. So what kinda struggle did you encounter, not having that diploma?
Well I worked hard to just get by. Paycheck to paycheck. I was homeless a few times, but you know what, it made me who I am today. A survivor.
“I was homeless a few times, but you know what, it made who I am today. A Survivor.”
Yeah I can imagine it shapes you into a survivor. Something else. As for the current hardcore scene, do you still follow it? Any favorites?
I like a lot of the newer bands i.e Razor Blade Hand Grenade, Homicidal, Caught In A Trap, Truth And Rights, but a lot of the dudes in these bands have been around for years. Even if they are younger than me, especially Truth And Rights Eddy Leeway is one of the icons of hardcore and good people. I like any thing with the oldschool touch to it, and some of the heavier bands that sound almost death metal, like my boys in Sicker Than Most.
Truth And Rights is great. Hope they take that band to Europe some day. What did you guys listen to when doing Social Decay?
Oh man a lot of stuff, punk, hardcore, metal.. I even listen to old school rap. Well… back then it wasn’t old school.
Haha. You go way back. So what’s the question you never been asked in an interview, but always wanted to anwer?
Can’t think of anything really?
Great… There goes my question haha. Anything you want to get back to? Anything you want to add?
We are an old school band, we love doing what we do. We have fun and as long as people come out to see us, we will do what we love to do. Yes, it makes us feel young. It makes use feel like kids again. Life goes by so fast, before you know it you look back and say, “Did I make my mark? Did I leave an imprint ? Did I make an impact?”. We think we did and will continue to do so for as long as we can.
That’s nice. That’s about it I guess. To close this off… So do you still think “Life’s not hard… you’re just soft”?
Older but harder… Take that the way you want…
Thanks for your time man!
Thank you for the interview. Thanks for the time to get to know Social Decay and most of all thanks for being a fan.
To close this off, here’s a preview of Broken, a new song from the upcoming record. Keep in mind it’s unmixed and unmastered.