John Joseph (Bloodclot)

I don’t do hero worship. But if I did, John Joseph would be right up there at the top of the list. Singer, author, Ironman, he’s a self-made polymath who has been a central figure in the NYHC scene for nearly four decades and on the eve of the release of Up In Arms, the new Bloodclot record, Mass Movement caught up with him to talk about Bloodclot, the Cro Mags, Hardcore, literature and a whole lot more.  And this* is what he had to say…

*If you’d rather listen to the interview instead of reading it, skip to the end, the audio is there. Just press play…

Interview by Tim Cundle

MM: How are you doing brother?

John: I’m very good, just real busy y’know…

MM: So, let’s talk Bloodclot John. The band was originally an idea of your about a decade or so ago wasn’t it? I remember you handing me a demo (which I’ve still got) when the Cro-Mags / FVK played TJ’s…

John: No, actually, let’s backtrack thirty six years and go back to 1981. The band started as roadies for the Bad Brains. Because they were Rasta’s, whenever something would go wrong, they would say “Fix the bloodclot”, so then we as the roadies who would have to fix all the bloodclot shit, we formed a band called Bloodclot. And we opened every show for the Bad Brains on their first US tour, which was mainly down South. Then the band came later, I forget what year it was, with Danny Schuler and then he went back to Biohazard and at the time I wasn’t into replacing original members even though we were getting out and getting known, then when Rick left, the band was a shell of the one that had played on the (first) record and for that reason, I wasn’t really into it.

So that’s how that went down. And this latest version of the band manifested when… AJ (Novello) had some family issues and we had a Cro Mag gig scheduled in North Carolina. He couldn’t do it and we didnlt want to cancel the show, so I called up Todd Youth and I was like “Hey, listen man, we’re in a jam, do you know Age of Quarrel?” and he was like “I know every fucking note”. So we flew him in without any rehearsals and he fucking crushed it. Then we talked with Mackie and were like, “Yo, Todd has these songs…” and they jammed a couple of times, but it takes a while to make things happen y’know?  And I had written these lyrics for six or seven of these songs, so I went out to the West Coast because I was supposed to do the Navy SEAL Half Ironman in Coronado in San Diego, but ten days before I went I re-injured a calf injury and I didn’t know if I was going to be able to do the race or not. I was in LA, so I tested it out while I was there with the intention of then driving down to San Diego, but my calf muscle was shot. I couldn’t even run three miles and I’d have to do thirteen in the competition, so that wasn’t happening.

As life goes with me and the story of my shit, instead of dwelling in the negative I tried to turn it into a positive. I’m sitting there with my bike, I’ve spent a ton of money and I’m not going to race so I thought “Let’s turn this into something positive” so I called Todd and said “Hey man, I’m not going to San Diego, I’m going to be here all week, is there any chance of getting some studio time so that we can maybe demo these songs?”. So he called up NRG in the Valley which is an amazing fucking studio and we worked with this engineer Kyle, who’s the head engineer there and they gave us free fucking time to do this demo.  And we got the songs done and we started sending it around. The demo came out great, I loved it and my friend owns Crossroads in LA, Tal Ronnen who’s a world famous vegan chef and Brian Slagel is a friend of his and eats in the restaurant all the time and Tal heard the demo and was like “You gotta let me get this to Brian” and I said “Well, I don’t know if he’ll want to do it because he’s into mostly metal bands and shit”, because this is a punk record you know? Anyways, Brian heard it and was like “Dude, I want to fucking put this out”.

So, I went back to New York and then a couple of months later he came into New York and we met, me him and Michael Alago who helped sign Metallica and a lot of other famous bands and he helped us work out a deal with Metal Blade. Todd played everything on the demo and then we started adding the parts. We gave the demo to Joey Castillo and he flipped the fuck out and then… I didn’t want this to be members from Cro Mags, I wanted them to be two entirely separate things and I’ve always wanted to be in a band with Joey since the eighties and he loved the shit and was like “Dude, I’m in, one hundred fucking percent” and we originally had Phil Caivano playing, but then he started doing a Monster Magnet record which meant that there was going to be conflict of scheduling when we were looking to tour and his record was going to come out. And I was like “Phil man, this isn’t going to work, we need a bass player who’s going to look at this as their main project” and when me and Joey talked to Nick Oliveri, we’re all in the same boat, in that nothing comes before this. If I have a Cro Mags show or we could do a Bloodclot show, the Bloodclot show is what is going to take precedence. This comes before everything. Nick agreed, came in and killed the record and here we are…

MM: Man, this record, it sounds like ninety eighty six has been drop kicked straight into the twenty first century. It’s the record that the Cro Mags should have made after Age of Quarrel…

John: You know, you’re the second person that’s said that to me, the dude from Rock Hard said the same thing. That this is the record that the Cro Mags should have made instead of trying to be metal rock stars and copping that attitude, which is what led to Harley robbing all the tour money in eighty seven, which in turn led to me quitting before Best Wishes…

MM: Yeah, this is the record that you guys should have made back then…

John: Yeah, this is the record that we should have made. They wanted to be the next Metallica and started treating the fans like shit, like they were rock stars and shit and I was like “Yo, this is not cool and you guys are not writing the record that we should be making” It was  blatant obvious sell out, making metal music and it was so blatant that… There are versions of me singing some of those songs, the songs that ended up on Best Wishes, and when I did that shit it was much more punk. It was like Discharge, it was heavy and then when they went in and did that record it was like some metal rock star shit.  It’s like this new record, there’s elements of Cro Mags, of Bad Brains, Discharge and Motorhead, all of the shit that we love because we just wanted to go in and have fun with it and enjoy it because that’s what music’s all about y’know?

MM: I was going to ask you where Bloodclot leaves the Cro Mags, but you’ve already talked about the band taking precedence…

John: Of course, because we’ve got this album… The Cro Mags had a chance to come to Europe in July, and I tod Mackie “Hey man, the record comes out July 14th” so we had to scrap that and we’ve (Bloodclot) got this US tour with Negative Approach that closes out on the West Coast with Nails playing as well, so that’s the deal. This is a band, this is the new record, this is the fucking record that I wanted to make in nineteen eighty seven but due to the fact that motherfuckers wanted to be rock stars, it didn’t work out back then.

This music never gets old, if I go see the Bad Brains, it still makes me want to dive off the PA and go and fuck motherfuckers up in the pit just like it always did. It’s still the same, the energy of hardcore when it’s done right is timeless. It’s like what we do with the Cro Mags, that shit is timeless. Motherfuckers still come out to the shows. We just did a whole Southern and West Coast tour and every show was sold the fuck out. Because when this shit’s done right, people know and the word spreads and people come out. We (Bloodclot) played one show in LA, at the Festival of the Riff and no-one even knew our shit , but it was sold out and people just lost their shit, they were slam dancing and they didn’t even know our music (laughs)… They feed off the energy man, it’s the energy, y’know?  And Cro Mags just played Leeds and tore that shit down for Outbreak Fest…

MM: Right, because when it’s done right, the music hits you in the gut and in the heart. It’s a soul thing…

John: Right, and I’m going to tell you something that I learned in writing… See, not only do I write books but I’ve also written two TV pilots that got me one of the biggest agents in Hollywood and I’m writing the film of my first book right now, and my writing teacher Robert McKee told me one thing and it’s stuck with me ever since, he said “The audience can smell the lie”. When your shit is bullshit and you’re a poseur, whether it’s writing, music, theatre, whatever, the audience can smell the lie…

MM: It hangs there, like a palpable stink…

John: Yeah, like a fucking bad fart…

MM: So, do you think Bloodclot is a New York band? An NYHC band…?

John: We’re universal man. The members all from over, Todd and me are New York, but Joey’s from LA and Nick’s from out there. We’re a hardcore band, but we don’t say that we’re from here or from there, we’re universal…

MM: It’s a global thing brother…

John: Yeah, we’re very much looking forward to getting out there. We’re setting up some stuff for November where we hit Europe, so far it’s ten club shows and then I guess we’ll come back for the festivals in 2018…

MM: I wanted to ask you about your books. With ‘Meat Is for Pussies’ what made you want to share you philosophy…?

John: Here’s the thing, you know why I wrote it? Because I started getting more and more pissed off that more and more of my friends and members of my family were getting cancer and dying and I’m going to tell you something right now… I just played Leeds and the driver who picked me up was this dude Heath and he drives all the bands and I sat in the front with him… He had one of those big Mercedes vans and he goes “Hey man, most of the people I pick up are total fucking wanker rock star arseholes…” and me and him talked for the entire time we were driving. He was having a lot of problems with his health, so I talked to him for two hours about health and the food conspiracy that’s going on and 9/11 and all kinds of stuff, we put that shit out there. Then after that, he started juicing, getting off the poisonous foods and he’s like “Bro, I can feel the changes that are happening in my life” …

Here’s the deal, the pharmaceutical companies and their ilk, they control what the media puts out and if you watch Forks Over Knives and another movie called What the Health? you’ll realise the conspiracy between the pharmaceutical companies and he medical industry and how they’re choosing profit over lives and how they’re perpetuating the lies and that’s one of the things that inspired me to write that book. People kept telling me “You’re fifty something years old and you’re doing Ironman and crushing this shit, you should do a book and teach other people what you do man” and the title came from… Look, I’m not judging you if you eat meat, you can’t take that title out of context , and here’s where it came from. I was in the gym one day and my buddy he’s an MMA fighter and my friend was holding pads for him and I’m in the ring talking to him and I’m like “Yeah man, you got to get on the greens and start eliminating the acid forming foods” Because when your PH is perfect, you can seriously do super-human tasks like climbing into the death zone of Everest in nothing but a pair of shorts. I start telling this dude this and this nineteen eighties motherfucking gym rat clutching a gallon of whey and wearing tiger stripe pants comes over, hears the word vegan or whatever and starts going “Yeah, all those vegetarian motherfuckers that don’t eat meat, they look like a bunch of pussies” And I’m like “What? Bro, I haven’t eaten meat in thirty something years. You want to put some headgear and get in the ring and I’ll show you who the fuck’s a pussy…”

So, originally I was going to call the book “The Go Green Guide to Health and Longevity…” or some bullshit (laughs) and my business partner Todd, another Todd, says “Who the fuck are you Doctor Oz or some shit? People don’t want to read something like that from John Bloodclot, they want something with teeth” and then were just shooting stuff around and I said to him “You know what this motherfucker told me today? He told me that people who don’t eat meat are pussies” and he goes “Dude, that’s it right there, you got to throw that back in their face. Meat is for pussies” and the light just came on. It’s like I say in the beginning of the book, there’s plenty of motherfuckers out there who eat meat and could kick the shit out of me, that’s not what it’s about. What it is about is, and I say this is the opening pages, if you continue to eat the poisonous foods that Babylon is putting out there and doing drugs and doing all this shit, you’ll become a pussy who’s dependent on the pharmaceutical companies to keep you alive. You will become a slave to medication and if that’s what you want, put the fucking book back, because this book ain’t for you. But if you do want to learn it is for you.  I didn’t come up with this shit but I’ve been studying it for thirty six years and learning from Rastafarians, raw foodists and real Doctor’s and finding out how eating a plant based diet without GM’s and pesticides can completely change your life. That’s what I’m about, I’m like the mailman delivering the letter from the post office. I didn’t come up with it, I’m just putting it out there because we’re losing too many motherfuckers. And I’ve got thousands of emails from people who’ve read it and the other books  I recommend, telling me about how their lives have completely changed for the better, because they beat cancer and I’m getting these letters and that means everything to me.

That’s why I do what I do, it’s not about ego or whatever. When I got the advance from Harper Collins and the agent had taken their cut, I split what was left with the motherfucker who put out both my books because you always do the right thing by people. That’s what I learned. Never burn bridges.

MM: I hear that brother… You mentioned the film rights to Evolution of a Cro-Magnon…

John: Yeah, I’m writing the film at the moment. I’m working on the screenplay, I don’t want to drop names but I got some big name Hollywood directors who are just waiting for the script and it’s gonna be a movie and tell the real story of the road that I came down. It was tough shit to write about, but you know what? That was my therapy, that was how I worked out my demons. And it also tells the real story of the Cro Mags. There’s other fucking stories and versions… It’s only that dudes version. If you talk to anyone else who was in the band, that other version is all lies, that shit is all fucking lies. My book tells the real story of what went down in the Cro Mags, the fucking thievery, the fucking backstabbing, the fucking snitching on me to the government that that dude did in an attempt to put me in federal prison, all that shit is true. When we tried to reform the band in 2000, it was all the same bullshit, he tried to backstab me again. He wants to destroy the Cro Mags, that’s what he wants to do so that he can go on with his Harley’s War or whatever the fuck he’s doing because the shows are selling out without him being in the band. And you know what the fans told me about the last show that we did together where he talked shit and the stage was stormed? They said you don’t need that negative shit. He quit and that’s the end of the story.

I was the original singer in ’81 and I put the timeline from the Big Takeover, Jack Rabid’s magazine in there, it’s there John Skinhead he called me. I started that band with Harley and all that shit that he talks about me not being the original singer? Bullshit. I was the original singer, then went to live in the Temple, came out and then the other dude got fired and I was on the demo, I was on Age of Quarrel and I quit before Best Wishes because he robbed me and then I was on Alpha Omega and he stole all the money from that record deal. Talk to Century Media , don’t take my word for it. Ask them what happened to the fifteen thousand dollars that was in the bank account.

This motherfucker is out there on a tour and talking all this shit about me and telling lies and now with social media, some people are starting to believe that shit. But if you look at my page, I let the music do the talking and put the book out and that’s the real Cro Mags story.

Without Paris who he disses all the time, those songs… Was Paris an uptown momma’s boy chump? Of course he was, but without him, it wouldn’t have happened. The Cro Mags were the four of us (Paris, Harley, Mackie and John), Doug came in just before that first record, he didn’t write shit on it, without any of the four of us, that first record would never have got made. Paris wrote the shit and Harley never gives him credit but I give Paris credit. And even when him and Harley where playing together in the nineties on, ask him why he quit… Because Harley was going under his mattress and stealing the tour money every day and then he started a fight with Earth Crisis and as Paris was getting beat down, Harley ran off.  That’s when Paris quit the band. I don’t want this to turn into… I just had to clear the air on that because there are a lot of lies out there and he’s such a tough guy… I called that motherfucker out and told him “Let’s go to the East River. You want to fight me? Let’s have a real fight” And that punk motherfucker knows what’s up dude, all of that Jiu Jitsu shit? I’ve been fighting all of my life, I’ve studied all of that shit, martial arts, boxing, it don’t matter. He just likes talking shit on the internet. He even talked shit about Bloodclot. You know what he said about Bloodclot? He said that I stole all the music from Best Wishes. Motherfucker, if I was going to steal anything from the Cro Mags it wouldn’t be from that piece of shit record…

MM: But the two records don’t even sound remotely similar…

John: Yeah, and that’s the insanity of this fucking dude, he’s saying that I stole his music… Like, yeah, okay. It’s just envy man, he operates from a very envious place. This is a whole different band, free from all of the beef. And Todd wanted to write him back and I was like “Todd, fuck that dude. Don’t respond to him at all, that’s what he wants, he lives off beef. He lives of negativity and starting shit, just let that motherfucker be” Anyone who wants to go and see him do his thing, go ahead, but he ain’t the singer from the Cro Mags. If you want to see the original singer and drummer, then you should be coming to see us.  But Bloodclot is what it is man and we spent a year making that fucking record and out every ounce of our shit into it to make the best record that we could and respect the art and not just pocket money like some other motherfuckers do…

MM: Brother, I’m going to be straight with you. We’re in June now and that record, so far, it’s the best record of the year…

John: Thank-you bro, that means a lot coming from you. That’s some serious shit. Like I said, you have to put your heart into music, you don’t take this shit cheaply and put out a bad record. It’s like when bands hand me their demo’s and I always tell them “I’m going to listen to this and I’m going to tell you honestly what the fuck I think of it. If I like it, I’ll tell you and if I think you really need to work on your shit, I’m going to tell you that too”

MM: No point in bullshit John, life’s too short…

John: You got to be honest with people man. I’m not going to disrespect anyone or put them down, but I’m going to tell them the truth, because that’s how you get better as an artist. All of the people that I sent scripts too that tore me a new asshole? I thank them for it, because it came from love and wanting to help me and not from a place of envy where they want to put me down. And so it’s the same thing when bands ask me to listen to their tapes, I tell them straight up. That’s just who I am…

MM: So what makes you want to keep playing Hardcore after nearly four decades…?

John: It’s the spirit of the music and the lyrics that I write are timeless. It’s about real shit that people have to deal with, that doesn’t go out of style. I came into punk rock in ’77 after going through fucking hell in life and when I heard the Dead Boys, The Clash, The Sex Pistols that shit just fucked my whole…. And The Ramones, fuck, those guys fucked my whole life up the right way.

MM: If you could go back and give your twenty year old self any advice, what would you tell him?

John: Don’t change a damn thing. I wouldn’t change a thing. I’m 55 now and the only thing I’d say is be careful of the friends that’ll stab you in the back. It’s like they say on the streets if New York, “Knuckle up and guard your grill” and be careful who you trust, because if you lay with dogs, you’re gonna get fleas…

Connect with John here and here find out more about Bloodclot here

Up In Arms will released by Metal Blade on July 14th.

 

Features, Music

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