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Who is Chris Erba? Ex-front man of the legendary early to mid-90ís Cleveland hardcore/punk bands H-100ís and Ruiners, presently the front man of Upstab, a fast angry offensive volatile hardcore/punk-rock band that truly blows away just about anything else in the genre to have come about in the last ten or so years. Chris Erba is a ďmental caseĒ that ďreally saved hardcore from slipping into something totally positive and boring.Ē A ďcrazy in your face motherfucker.Ē ďA rad fuckiní guy.Ē ďA pot smoking beer swilling maniac.Ē Who is Chris Erba, you still ask? Truth is, I donít really know who Chris Erba is. He and I have been corresponding with each other through email for a couple months now, and he seems like a really great up front kind of guy with an excellent sense of humor who has a lot to say about a lot of different issues. I searched the Internet for interviews with him or any of his bands just to find a little info but came up empty handed for the most part, so I decided Iíd give it a shot myself. Chris agreed to do this interview on hardly any notice, and I have to give him my thanks for it. Who is Chris Erba, you still nag? Read the interview and find out for yourself.

TB: First off, you started out playing in a band called Windpipe that was pretty short-lived, then went on to play in the Ruiners and H-100ís simultaneously years before fronting Upstab, but itís the H-100ís that most of us are familiar with, probably due to record distribution. To my knowledge, and correct me if Iím wrong, the Ruiners havenít officially broken up and you ended up quitting the H-100ís, who later became 9 Shocks Terror with a different vocalist. What was it that made you decide to quit fronting the H-100ís?
CE: Wow, Iím fucking impressed with your family tree lineage thingÖ Somewhere in between all these bands I was also in a great band called the SaxxSlitters, & the ďxxĒ, and that word should be pronounced with a lisp, like ski ski. That is very, very important. That band played one show & we broke up because we couldnít deal with the fame. Also another band I was lucky enough to be in right before Upstab was Shaken Baby Syndrome, that was cool because it was a 3 piece with no bass guitar and even cooler because it went fucking nowhere. Correct, the Ruiners will never break up, every once in a while when the planets are all in proper alignment we end up jamming or doing an occasional show, both end up a complete mess always. But we have fun, which is what itís all about dickface. I never really quit the H-100ís. The band was sort of falling apart due to the ultra-destructive toll of just being a member of that band. Beating the fucking shit out of yourself and your equipment, partying harder and playing faster than anyone in the world and our own personal struggles just all merged together, and thatís just how the cards fall sometimes. I left Cleveland because I was going through a lot of shit myself, I felt if I remained in Ohio any longer at that point in my life, I wouldíve been in some real fucking serious trouble with the law.

TB: Iíve heard a lot of crazy stories about many hardcore/punk shows in Cleveland involving several different bands, but the one that sticks with me the most and the one story I find most shocking is one of you throwing a hammer out at audience members during an H-100ís set. Did this really happen or is this one of many Internet rumors Iíve heard about?
CE: Thatís a great rumor, but a rumor at that. I never threw a hammer at anyone. Iíve jumped off the stage into the crowd slashing with a knife a few times, also with a meat clever. Many beer bottles, and garbage cans have been hurled at people. Once I launched a bottle of beer at a bartender, he ducked for his fucking life and the bottle smashed the back wall knocking shit all over the place. That was at the Gallery Cafť. Other than that Iíve seen my brother Tony clock fuckers with his bass guitar, that happened quite a bit. I have video footage of the shit, itís funny. Umm, we threw pretty much whatever was available on stage to wreck, fuck everyone, Iíll never relate to nobody. 95% of people that come to shows are there to be seen or impress someone. These are the people that we would, and still, destroy. I donít give a fuck about impressing anyone.

UPSTAB

TB: Based solely on what Iíve heard it sounds like some of those shows in Cleveland can get pretty rambunctious. Have you had any specific experiences as a member of the audience or as a performer where youíve actually stopped and thought that things were getting way out of control and that something very scary might go down?
CE: Man, yeah here in Cleveland things escalate as far as we push it, the situation is we all feed off each other and when no one can stop us, shit gets kind of ridiculous. Donít get me wrong they are great memories. Fuckiní ĖA-bitch, the first three H-100ís shows got broken up before we ever got a chance to set up, so we learned not to even bother unloading our equipment. Just leave all the shit in the car then commence on the trashing. So letís see, the Gallery Cafť show was a good one to talk of Ė the bill was H-100ís, Foundation, Apt. 213. Before the show even goes on Paul & I are goofing around wrestling outside in front of the shoe store next to the club. Somehow I got thrown through the front window of the store, I rolled backwards onto a huge shoe rack, all these Keds & shit are falling on me, the alarmís going off, and while I was going through the window this giant five foot sheet of glass comes down like a guillotine, it just missed the back of my neck and wouldíve killed me for sure. Paul took the cut on that one - right to his wrist and hand, injuring him pretty severely. When we go into the club to play, the owner is raging pissed. I denied everything about the window, meanwhile the alarm is still going off and you can hear it in the club, haha. Refer to 2nd question now. Some douche bag decided to punch Steve from Apt. 213ís girlfriend after their set was done and the place was already fucking wrecked. I ran outside after the guy and punched him into the street, right out into traffic we started fist fighting, the fucker had his finger hooked into the corner of my eye while we were locked up. I kept firing away uppercuts into his nose until I could feel the bone turning into silly putty. Meanwhile two of my friends were working him with drum cymbals and kicks to his back. It was great because traffic was backed up, people were fucking honking at us and screaming that the cops were coming. I looked over to see a couple of other fights breaking out at the same time. The dudeís girlfriend ended up getting her ass kicked as well. They both ran down the street bleeding with their clothing all torn up, they looked fucking like they were shipwrecked and just got torn up by piranhas or something. We were again supposed to play another time at the Y. It never happened because the entire second district police showed up freaking out. I've seen my friend Duane ride his bicycle into the middle of a skank pit, he knew he was going to get fucked up, but did it anyways, now thatís class. Iím not even sure why the entire second district police showed up, but the bums living at the Y were getting pissed that there was 75 wild punkers going ape in the rental hall downstairs. That created a lot of tension for sure. The partying outside that venue we never got to play was what made it crazy, the intoxication level was at a real high. Our guitar player Chard staggered out from under the W.25th bridge dragging a dead raccoon with a wire somehow wrapped around the carcass. We all took turns beating the dead thing, and one person even kissed it! The fucking cops rolled up and had the exit sealed and the street all blocked off. Me and two of my other friends with bicycles just rode right through them, no questions asked. Of course the SpeakĖn Tongues riot was by far the craziest Ė I think that show was with Ruiners, Boulder, Schnauzer, and 9 Shocks Terror. It started off with skinheads getting their asses beat and then just blew up into everyone just swinging at each other, bottles splitting flesh open, girls screaming, chairs getting cracked on top of heads, skateboards flying, bleeding and stuff like that. The crowd tried to stampede out through the only door in the club, but since it got all bottlenecked together a drywall partition got fucking smashed down, it was real chaos. My brother Tony accidentally sliced his own friend in the back with a knife. Cleveland Public Theatre gig we also never got to unload equipment, that show was Inmates, Integrity, B.O.C, & H-100ís. In short, the whole place got completely fucked up and a phone got torn out of the wall while the owner was calling the police. The cops showed up aiming shotguns at everyone, people starting running and smashing shit like mongooses tearing shit all to hell. I shimmied up this vintage curtain that was used for the plays there, then starting yanking the goddamn curtain and the whole fucking thing just started ripping until I fell on my can. That was just insane, I canít even get into all the shit that was happening, musically The Inmates set was fierce, and Paul was in fine form assaulting the audience with threats of violence and earlier vowing to jump off a 25 foot drop from the outside patio and end it all. He also down punched the fat drummer from Integrity in the back of the head while he was tuning up his drums, a spiked ring was embedded into the drummerís skull, via Paulís fist. I saw my friends in a free for all, smashing out lights and chucking bottles everywhere. The police didnít know what the hell was going on.

TB: Didnít Upstab play with the Kneecappers a couple years back? How did all that go? How were the Kneecappers? Those guys have got to be so old now.
CE: Upstab played a legendary ďEllis Family BBQĒ party outdoors a few summers ago. It was Upstab, Annihilation Time, and Kneecappers. The only band who ripped was A.T. We really sucked that day and the Kneecappers were awful. But the whole day was great fun, the singer Chris from Kneecappers was still screaming pissed off. That alone was worth seeing. There was a live recording that day done off a board and later mixed. It was a good turnout, probably near fifty people at one point. I think everyone there was either baked or drunk, or both. Upstabís drummer Marcus, well his old man played drums for Kneecappers. His name is Rich and heís a cool dude. The guitar player for Kneecappers, Gary ended up passing away this year, he was a cool dude. He ended up mastering our CD demo for us after moving to Texas.

TB: Speaking of Upstab, you now have an official six song 7Ē release titled ďSomebody threw a gallon jug of Thunderbird wine at meĒ, an eleven song demo CD-R appropriately titled ďThe Old FagĒ, and a two song bootleg 7Ē titled ďStabbing the ChurchĒ. How did the bootleg 7Ē come about or are you just as puzzled as the rest of us? Do you have any information on how this thing came to be pressed to vinyl at all?
CE: As far as the bootleg goes, I have some ideas as to who put it out, but Iíve lost the ability to care about it. Marcus (drummer, & fellow a-hole) received a box of 100 records at his place of employment. There was no return address on the box and the song titles were listed incorrectly. That record blows and should have never came out. I guess in a way Iím kind of flattered that someone would spend time and effort to release that shit. The way I think it happened was because we had a 3 song CD that we were using to shop around and get shows, ya know? Like mailing it to clubs or whatever to try and get booked. Obviously it got circulated somehow. I can tell you that it was released by people in Cleveland, thatís all I know. We gave all our copies away. Good luck trying to find it, sucker.

TB: On the ďSomebody threw a gallon jug of Thunderbird Wine at meĒ 7Ē You have a song called ď9-11 HoaxĒ that has a line in it saying ďThereís this fucking place called ground zero, where blind patriotism makes you a heroĒ. Obviously this line doesnít bother me one bit as most things people say donít and I know youíre not really a political sort of guy, but what exactly were you trying to say in that particular line in the song? I just picture you sitting there, watching television day after day getting sick to your stomach about everything going on and then walking out doors and seeing all the same old shit like those ridiculous ribbons and flags on everybodyís cars and basically just feeling disgusted with the whole situation.
CE: What I was trying to get at is people just jump on the bandwagon because itís popular to convince themselves that they are some sort of hero, ya know? like theyíre really doing something for humanity by slapping stupid magnets on their cars, or making a holy pilgrimage to NYC to buy an american flag pin or some marketable shit like that. What these fucks need to do is question why the shit happened in the first place, Americaís infrastructure WILL crumble from within. Our government will fuck us any and everyday. So all you patriotic morons out there just keep believing everything the controlled media tells you because their view is the only side, the idiot box never lies.

UPSTAB

TB: What went on here in Chicago a couple years back when Upstab played a gig at the Fireside Bowl? I was living in Michigan then and have gotten a few different stories.
CE: Fuck it, thatís just typical bullshit nowadays. The truth is the hardcore PC dorks who need a slogan to shout or banner to wave had a prior beef with Annihilation Time from the last time they played in Shitcago. The reason is about as retarded as it could possibly get, but here goes: The local crowd was upset because a roadie for A.T. had a Skrewdriver t-shirt on the last time they played town. Like an ďAll Skrewed UpĒ shirt or ďEarly YearsĒ. So during A.T.ís set some big goon has to make a demonstration, to prove ya know, that they like stand for something, hahaha, what a crock of shit that is in my opinion! So the fuck starts breaking a few of A.T.ís records in front of the stage trying to be tough or something. So of course an argument happens, Upstab will always side with our bros from A.T. So people are warning us that were gonna get our asses kicked or whatever, and that we should just load up and go promptly after the show. For one, we were already outnumbered by basically the whole club and secondly I am still perplexed why anyone would fucking care what kinda shirt someone was wearing? What the fuck, I didnít know the fashion police were so prominent at punk venues these days. So both A.T. and Upstab load up and leave, and theres all these cooks standing around outside calling people to come and beat us down. I could hear them on their cell phones, saying shit like ďHurry up, theyíre still loading equipment out!Ē We're definetley not jocks or macho HC types, but I can tell you that our whole band agreed if shit went down we would be committing manslaughter with tire irons, skateboards, and wrenches. I also want to add that I personally think "All Skrewed Up" is a great album, there isnít a hint of racism on that platter. Those are great British street punk tunes that should be played very loudly. If you donít agree I could care less, this world is made of opinions. Fuck everything. Go get skull fucked by a komodo dragon.

TB: Whatís happening with Upstab now? Arenít you basically banned from every venue youíve played? Any recordings coming up we should be looking out for? Any upcoming tours or shows?
CE: Actually Upstab is really only blacklisted in Cleveland. We are banned from Patís in the Flats (fuck that place). They donít like us or want us at The Beachland (I guess were not cool enough because we donít wear white belts or play indie rock) or The Grog Shop (Iíve been told they wonít give us a chance from a friend who books shows there and has tried to get us on gigs but told no way). The Tower, a local DIY spot, was a rad place for us to play, but recently got shut down, so basically that leaves us nowhere to play in town. So unfortunatley for you, we're just gonna keep playing out of town shows with bands like Cider, Darvocets, Bill Bondsmen, Annihilation Time, Crunky Kids, Clockcleaner, No Peace, and B.Y.T. Upstab has another record coming out from our comrades in Holland on Even Worse/Way Back When records. A great label putting out some quality shit, Noel and Ronald are cool dudes who seem to be quite selective about which bands they release on their label, basically no bullshit weak-ass bands, hahahaha. Yeah, thatís right, loosen up and laugh a bit. The next Upstab release will be a five song 45. A week ago we just finished recording nine fucking new songs and it blazes shit to pieces. These newest songs will be released on Non Commercial Records. Check out their website, bitch (www.noncommericalrecords.com). Oh yeah, we also have a song coming out on the new Hibachi Records compilation, thatís a cool local label ran by a truly crazy fucker named Thuggy from Crunky Kids.Upcoming shows? Were playing 8/27 in Detroit at the Painted Lady (a cool ass bar/club run by some great dudes) with the awesome Bill Bondsmen, possibly The State and Effigies. You know that show will get your tits going for sure. I am trying to work out some shows in August for the weekend before that in Boston, Philly, and NYC with Bill Bondsmen, Upstab, Clockcleaner, and Cider. Other than that Paul and I were just talking about putting on an anti-PC show here in cleveland in September.

TB: Tell me a little more about that zine you were telling me you wanted to start doing. You know youíre really going to have to do it now, right?
CE: Aww shit, well man, I want to have some humorous stories about daily events that I see here while riding public transportation, fucked up real stories from friends, like shit youíve done as a kid, things like: pegging beeís nests out of trees with rocks, or setting the woods on fire, robbing pop machines. Shit like that. Then throw in some music reviews, shit about the underground skateboarders here nd the raw dedication it takes. I obviously donít really want to have it all about music. Iíve talked several friends into contributing random thoughts and every one seems to be down to help. The only problem is I have a few things on the backburner right now, so shit just needs to come together as nature takes itís course.

UPSTAB

TB: It appears to me that youíve really only played in hardcore/punk bands, but I know youíre in to far more than that. I mean hasnít Upstab covered ďMongoloidĒ by Devo? Is there any chance we might ever see you playing in or fronting a different kind of band? Any wishes?,br> CE: Yeah we did record "Mongoloid." Devo is the best. Too bad youíll never see it released, assholes! I canít predict the future so I donít know what kind of band I will be in next, Iím getting sick of everything lately anyway. If I could play an instrument it would be the sitar. I like hypnotic sounds that I can meditate heavily to.

TB: Last question here, it seems like there have always been a bunch of really great unique bands in Cleveland, from Electric Eels to Mirrors to Rocket From the Tombs to Pere Ubu to Pagans to more modern bands like Cider and 9 Shocks Terror. Being a native Clevelander, have you got any theories as to why this may be? Donít give me any of that ďThere must be something in the waterĒ junk, either.
CE: You wanted to know me and who I am? So you should know that I do the exact opposite of what people wish me to do. So you are getting the water theory. There is something in Lake Erie that causes Cleveland to produce the harsh sound waves that disrupt your tympanic membrane, everything here sucks, thereís no hope for the nationís poverty capital and we that live here just illustrate everyday life with things called instruments and speakers that we plug into sockets to make loudness explode.

END INTERVIEW

Visit Upstab on the web here.

Contact: freakodepresso-at-hotmail-dot-com



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