You may not have heard of Alexandros Anesiadis, or Alex as he’s known to his friends, but I guarantee you that by the time Summer is over, he’s going to be one of your favourite authors. His first book, Crossover: The Edge, detailing the history of the eighties crossover scene, is due to be published by Cherry Red at the end of June, and so I figured it was about time I caught up with Alex to chat about his book, music, Crossover and much, much more. And this is what he had to say…
Interview by Tim Cundle
Crossover logo by Periklis Arkas and George Pirounakis
MM: Would you like to introduce, and tell us a little bit about, yourself?
Alex: Well, I am originally Greek, but I’ve been on the road for the last 6 years. Currently reside in Luton, doing a PhD but I’ve always been a fan of hardcore, punk, thrash and garage revival among many others. I love buying records (even though my record collection is stored back in Greece into my sister’s house…miss it so much), attending shows and talking about Wipers, Rain Parade, Discharge and P.A.O.K., ha,ha!
MM: I’m guessing that music has always been a relatively big part of your life Alex, so do you remember when you first crossed paths with it and what made you fall in love in with it?
Alex: Ah, what a beautiful question! I was born in a family with a huge respect for music, and luckily I was the youngest of three. My sister and brother paved the way for my musical appreciation. My sister was a professional piano player while my brother was a guitarist-I though never had any musical talent as such…However, I can recall falling in love with “Fur Elise” and the “Peter Gunn” theme on guitar while I was 5-6 years old. Moreover, both had a record collection of 1960s and 1970s rock and punk, and I can recall staring for endless hours the sleeves of The Clash “London Calling” or Velvet Underground and Nico LP. Adding to that, MTV had just arrived in Greece (1989 or 1990) and I was allowed to watch many hours per day since it was the only way to keep me quiet, ha, ha, ha!
MM: And likewise, when did you first stumble across punk rock and what was it about the music and the scene that attracted you to both? Do you still feel the same about the scene, bands and music as you did when you took your first tentative steps into the world of punk rock, or have you feelings about punk rock and the scene changed over time, and if so, how have they changed?
Alex: The Clash. When I first heard “London Calling” I was struck by lightning. However, it seemed that by the time I ws 11-12 I got heavily into listening to so many things; I loved Nirvana and A Flock of Seagulls, I loved The Smiths and Iron Maiden, I loved Joy Division and OMD, I loved Soul Asylum and Slayer. I never listened to any specific things/styles, even though thrash, hardcore, punk and garage later arrived and shaped things to come for good. Thrash metal, hardcore and punk rock arrived a little bit later, when I was 15-16 years old. I loved DRI and Voivod at the same time, GBH and Discharge, Blitz and Nuclear Assault, you know, all the classic stuff. My feelings never changed about all the bands or the scene, I won’t allow myself to be disappointed because nowadays there is a major segregation among scenes. I don’t like it, but I will still go and see the most drunken bands, the most straight edge bands, the most druggie bands. The only bands that I won’t support are any fucking nazi, right-wing clowns. And this will always remain the same!
MM: Which sort of brings us to Crossover… Again, when did you first become aware of Crossover and what was it about Crossover that pulled you into the scene?
Alex: I picked up DRI’s “Four of a Kind” LP when I was 15 years old. When the stylus hit the turntable, I was blown away. I had never ever heard anything like that before. It wasn’t hardcore and it wasn’t metal! I can even recall the day that I got it, where from I got it, who sold it to me and what happened in my English school when I went straight from the record store.
MM: And for the benefit of the unfortunate few who might not know what it is, could you explain exactly what Crossover is and share a little of the scenes history with us…
Alex: Crossover: Where the heaviness of metal meets the speed and ferocity of punk. You have the US crossover scene, speedy and quirky as hell, you have the UK scene, ultra-heavy, raw and noisy, you have the Brazilian scene, muddy and evil as hell. There are separate scenes in every country, and even State in the US, e.g., the NY crossover (very musically challenging), the Venice scene (crossing Motorhead with GBH), the Portland/Oregon scene (mental, crazy as fuck crossover). Just like all things, the results were great, good and disappointing. But let’s stick with the great!
MM: When did you first get the idea for, and what made you want to write, Crossover: The Edge?
Alex: I was reading Ian Glasper’s books. Okay, a small appreciation paragraph here: I got all Ian Glasper’s books (by 2016) and I was fascinated by the way he treated things in hardcore, punk, anarcho, 90s hardcore in the UK. Ian inspired me to do the crossover book. But he wasn’t just an inspiration, if it wasn’t for Ian NONE of this would have happened. Not only he is a dedicated, inspired personality but he is an excellent human being, supportive, caring and with so much empathy; I mean, he trusted me to write this book, a Greek freak that he only met once! Of course I didn’t let him down, but it was Ian that offered me this chance. There are very few people around like Ian, so people that are reading this interview, go out and buy all his books and show some love to his band Warwound.
I got the idea while I was in my PhD Tim; I said “WTF, nobody has ever written anything about all those crazy crossover bands that I love!”. There’s a book on the roots and the evolution of crossover between punk and metal since the 1960s that was written by another one fantastic person, Professor Steven Waksman (“This Ain’t the Summer of Love”) but in general it has a more academic approach. So, I decided to write a book via interviewing, researching and analyzing as many as bands as I could, that existed between 1980-1989.
What made me write it? The biggest inspiration was life itself and its hard times.
MM: How difficult was it translating your initial idea into reality? What were the biggest hurdles that you encountered when writing Crossover and how did you overcome them? Did you have a publisher before you started writing it, or did you write it and then find a publisher? How hard was it finding a publishing deal?
Alex: It was just a little bit difficult because I enjoy writing so much. The biggest hurdle was that I had a race against time; being a dad and a partner, doing a PhD, working part-time, changing countries while writing a book. I stopped sleeping for some time and the I started sleeping 3-4 hours a day (and I am nearly a straight edge ha, ha, ha), trying to catch up with everything. My partner was totally supportive from day one, alongside Ian she is my big hero.
I didn’t find a publisher prior to writing it. I was writing it and I sent two enquiries, to two publishers: One was Cherry Red and one was an US publisher. Ian saw my enquiry, was fascinated and in no time I got a contract; I got an offer for it from the US publisher a bit later, but there was no way that I would accept it since a) I accepted Cherry Red’s offer and b) I ALWAYS wanted to work with Ian.
It wasn’t that hard finding a publisher; the idea was original and everybody was persuaded that lots of work would be put into every aspect of the book.
MM: How did you go about putting a definitive list of bands and people that you wanted to talk to and interview for the book? It must have been a Herculean task and I can’t even begin to imagine the amount of research that you must have done…
Alex: It was HELL. I created a database with bands, I combined my results over a variety of sources, both electronical and actual (e.g. fanzine); then linked each band with members; then linked each member to an email account, a Facebook account, a Twitter account, Youtube, Skype, telephone…It was insane. In the final stretch of my research I continually wanted to puke, there were times when I was working for 2 or 3 days straight
MM: Speaking of research, how did you approach that aspect of the book and how insanely difficult was it to track everyone down and check, double check and the triple check facts, dates and accounts?
Alex: Again, it was HELL. I spent an enormous amount of time trying to find people, trying to persuade them that I am an actual human being-especially the demo bands; triple/quadruple daily checks…In terms of flyers, I purchased them in bulk and Hector Kirkwood of metallipromo website offered me so much stuff (and I thank him for that!) it was amazing
MM: Are there any bands or people that you wanted to include that you weren’t able to find? And if so, who were they and why did you want to include them?
Alex: I’d love to have included Mike Muir, but he told me that he won’t give an interview regarding a book. I’d have loved to include “Age of Quarrel” era members of Cro Mags but we all know that this will never happen-however I spoke with Parris and it was awesome. I’d have loved to include those people since they were damn crucial to the scene
MM: And who were, and are, your favourite bands and people that you spoke to for Crossover? What was it about them and the conversations and interviews that elevated them, and made them special for, you?
Alex: Way too hard to say but definitely Billy Lo of The Worst, of course Ian Glasper (Decadence Within), Johnny Doom, Eric and Chris Attitude Adjustment…Chris Stover (Void), Michael Gibbons (Leeway), Damien Sacrilege….ALL OF THEM but these were so supportive, so kind. The list of course can change in the next five minutes-Tim you are a tricky player!
Marco The Icemen, Keith Grave from White Pigs, Blaine The Accused, Clark Wheeler from The Braindead….come on, don’t make me pick! Everyone was super helpful and kind.
It was their kindness, their support, their appreciation to a mental Greek guy and willingness to help that made every one special for me Tim.
MM: Any chance that you can share a couple of crazy, or strange, Crossover centric stories that’ll tide people over until Crossover is published…?
Alex: Ha, ha! Oh well, just wait for the book to be released to learn about the whole Cro-Mags tension since day one, or how die-hard punks in Venice let their hair grow out!
MM: Time to put you on the spot Alex. What are your five definitive Crossover records and why do you think they’re so important to the history, and the continuing evolution, of the Crossover scene?
Alex: Damn…you are killing me Tim. Let’s go with these, BUT the list could change ANYTIME!
Discharge-Hear Nothing LP
Attitude Adjustment- American Paranoia LP
DRI- Crossover LP
Gang Green- Another Wasted Night LP
Agnostic Front- Cause for Alarm LP
MM: When is Crossover: The Edge due to be published, when is it going to be available and can rabid Crossover fanatics get their hands on, and order, it?
Alex: Oh, UK Amazon already started the pre-orders of the book, and Cherry Red will soon do it to in it’s website. By June the 3rd and on you would be able to have more than 600 pages, 220,000 words, 127 bands interviews, 600+ bands reviews from all over the world and more than 700 images (some of them that have never seen the light of day until now) in your hands for a good price too.
MM: What do you believe about the metal, the hardcore, the punk scene today in general?
Alex: I think that sadly there is a lot of segregation today; you won’t see many shows combining both e.g. Saint Vitus with Mentors, Kreator with Heresy etc
I have objections towards lots of things: in regards to metal, I really hate the marketing practices of “big” labels. They don’t support real metal, they don’t provide authentic and good metal bands. Don’t get me wrong, I like metal, NWOBHM alongside the 1980s US metal and the early thrash/speed scene are the most original forms of metal and there are awesome bands there. But they are left in the background. Metal labels since the 1980s created trends among metal, killing bands and scenes that really deserved support. They went from killing thrash, to killing crossover, to killing death metal etc etc. I really hated that. And nowadays they are promoting weak-ass, lame bands like Ghost; come on man, there are bands like Praying Mantis with great records and a great message (environmental issues) too, down to earth and excellent, why promote the weak ones? Because it’s all about the visuals. Music was always visuals, but now it is more than ever. No new metal kid would be fascinated with the visuals of Praying Mantis or Jaguar or Angel Witch.
I am really disappointed with the segregation in punk and hardcore too; there are straight edge fans that won’t listen to anything else than straight edge bands; d-beat/crust fans that will do the same. And it goes on, and on and on. Damn boring. And you have bands like Violent Arrest or Out Cold that are too punk for hardcore fans and too hardcore for punk fans; excellent bands that are left with only a handful pf people over the world loving them! It’s insane.
MM: If there’s anything that you’d like to add, speak now or forever hold your peace…
Alex: Thank you Tim. You are always a great guy and so is Ian Pickens. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak about my first book. I’ve already started two new ones on different musical perspectives, but they’re equally great!
But again, the biggest thank you I owe it to my family-my partner- and Ian Glasper. Without the daily help of Ian, his warm and loveable personality, NOTHING would ever start. And without the endless support and patience of my partner, it wouldn’t happen too. And I hope that my daughter starts appreciating Excel or Broken Bones soon! La Lucha Sigue (The fight continues)!
Pre-order Crossover the Edge here