No one ever thought Jorge Herrera, a skinny Ecuadorian kid from New York City, would amount to much. But for the past two decades, the founder and lead singer of the Casualties has led his rowdy band of hooligans around the world, inspiring kids to stand up and fight the system.
One of Herrera and crew's best-loved albums, For the Punx, is now 15 years old. And they'll play the whole thing alongside Nekromantix, Down by Law, Flatfoot 56, and the Sheds at Grand Central this Friday.
And getting ready for a righteous riot, New Times called longtime Casualties drummer Meggers to talk about drinking, fighting, and stage-diving.
New Times: How do the Casualties tour?
Meggers: We've got an RV that we bought a few years ago. It's six of us piled up in here. There's four band members and two crew members, sweating balls.
Who are the crew guys?
Our merch guy is Paulie, the bass player's cousin. Then Kevin.
How does someone get hired to tour with the Casualties?
You gotta be either family or you gotta have some reputable sources, or sometimes just be a homeless dude on the street. Depends what we need. Sometimes it'd be better if it was always just a homeless dude.
How long does it take to play the entire For Your Punx album?
The whole record takes 23 or 24 minutes. We usually do a mixture of old and new, and play for about an hour.
What should a crowd do if the bouncers are being lame?
For years now, we always talk to the bouncers before every single show we play. It helps to explain to them that there's gonna be kids onstage. We let them jump around and sing along and jump off. We like stage-diving and participation. This tour has been supercool so far. And if somebody stays onstage too long, we guide them off.
How did it used to be different?
Dude, I remember there was so many shows we had to quit 'cause these bouncers would beat the shit out of the kids. We have years of experience and we seen too many fights.
What message do you have for someone who says to dress normal and grow up?
Who wants to grow up? What fun is that? I'm gonna stay young as long as I can. I made it my life 'cause I wanted it. So fuck you.
What does it mean to be an ugly bastard?
Means the same thing as it did in '97... broke, drunk, happy, and don't care.
What's the best reason for a riot?
Something important. We've seen riots at our shows for absolutely no reason. Mostly because of overreaction by the police 'cause a kid breaks a window or throws a bottle. They shut it down and the kids get excited. They respond and they think it's the right thing to do. In Europe or South America, it's political. People are sick of getting ripped off by the government. So it's like, "Hell, yeah! Riot!"
Any message for the pigs who are into police brutality?
Dude, have a fuckin' beer, relax, and stop abusing your power.
Why will punx and skins always survive?
'Cause there's always gonna be that kid in his garage learning three chords. It's just a style of music you don't have to be the most amazing musician to play. It's just raw, and that's what kids need.