For over 20 years, THE FREEZE has played some of the most interesting, incisive and addictive Punk Rock to ever come out of America. This has often been in the face of great adversity with shitty labels, drug addictions and crime constantly getting in the band's way. Yet, it's a band that has always remained honest and resolutely Punk Rock. Now, with a batch of reissues out via Dr. Strange and a new label in Beer City that is to release a banquet of new material, THE FREEZE look set to regain some of the reputation they have lost. This is an interview with the incomparable vocalist, Clif Hanger.
..Well, Clif, it's been an eventful four years since I last interviewed you. Before we start with the real questions, looking back over the last four years in the life of Clif Hanger - how do you feel?
..Clif) Up until this past Saturday night I was feeling great about everything that's been going on, musically, socially, creatively, contractually etc... And then I had to go out and do what I've done for the past 25 years; shoplift again. I get in this manic state where I go from store to store, day in day out and steal stuff I don't even need. I have my tiny moral code I follow where I never steal from an individual's business, just corporations, chain stores etc… but when I get going I'm out of control. I come back at the end of almost everyday with $500-$2000 worth of shit. What used to be a "game" right out of Abbie Hoffman's STEAL THIS BOOK, "Christmas Every Day" I called it, has become self sabotaging Kleptomania. I served a 6-month "bid" in prison about a year ago for the same thing and the sentencing doesn't get lighter with each new charge, it will usually double. So unless I'm able to conjure up some sort of legal genie I might not be a "free" man in a month from now...
..Last time we spoke, you had just hooked up with the label Three Days Dead in the UK. They formed THE FREEZE's very own 'axis of evil' along with former labels Taang! and Lost And Found - would that be a correct statement? The label was gonna release your back catalogue, a new disc and all sorts. What happened there?
..Clif) Three Days Dead remains such a tiny blip on the "Let's-Rape-The-Freeze" radar that I don't even choose to let them take up any of my head space. Taang remains the worst of the three labels. I've seen ONE royalty statement in 16 years from them. They've been putting out 'This Is Boston, Not LA' for years now. That's an album that THE FREEZE has the most songs on, the most time on and own the title song. We're going to yank the fucker right back from him. We're getting a lawyer and suing the prick for "breach of contract". We've got royalty checks from Dr Strange for the 'Land Of The Lost/Rabid Reaction' re-releases in the six months it's been out. We've NEVER SEEN A PENNY from "cut-Rate Curtis Casella" at Taang in the ten years that he's been re-releasing them. There's a very obvious reason why he moved his entire operation from the east coast 3000 miles out to California. If he hadn't I KNOW someone would have firebombed the fucker's store, house and car. I'd love to see a news report showing a flailing Curtis Casella wrapped head to toe in gas-fed flames. Once the fire was almost out and his body was a light red ash, the entire catalogue of bands he's fucked over could stand around what was left of him and piss on his remains…. Lost & Found were wolves in sheep's clothing. Actually they had the old "Good Cop/Bad Cop" bit down to a science. Uwe would come on as a congenial, supportive fan-of-the-band and promise us the moon. The other one, I forget his name wouldn't answer our calls, tell us one thing and do another. We always found a way to "break even" when it was royalty time. Three albums and not one penny in royalties either. Now if I was running a record label and a band was supposedly losing me money with each release as we were supposedly doing to them, why would I keep on telling the money-losing band, "sure, let's do another album!" It doesn't sound right and it isn't right. We saw a couple royalty statements and then as the last one showed us about to break even we never heard from them again. To this day I don't even own original copies of either 'Crawling Blind' or 'Freak Show' on CD or 'Five Way Fury' on LP. Lost & Found are/were the "European Taaang!".
..Did you feel this signalled the end of THE FREEZE? I mean, Bill Close had left the band (and been replaced); you were without a label - again. Did your spirit get so low as to say, "Ah fuck it..."?
..Clif) I was ready to hang it up. I tried a line-up that just wasn't THE FREEZE in sound or ability. It was great to have Dr. Strange re-release 'Land Of The Lost/Rabid Reaction' (and four alternate takes from 'Guilty Face') on one CD for a cheap price. That got so many great reviews it really got to me. I was thankful for all the people that remembered us and for all the people who emailed me or whatever to tell me how much those albums meant to them at the time. Then when he re-released 'Freak Show/Crawling Blind', I never realized how many people thought we'd broken up after 'Misery Loves Company' came out in 1990. These two CDs from the Lost & Found "error" never saw any exposure stateside. They never worked on a licensing deal here and when an occasional CD did pop up in a local record store it was priced $22 or something fucking ridiculous like that. I don't blame anyone for not paying those prices. Personally I think that 'Freak Show' and 'Crawling Blind' are two of the three best CDs we ever made ('One False Move' being the third). So I was ecstatic to have them released here so people could finally hear what THE FREEZE had matured into since the 1980s. Lyrically and musically they were tragic, pummelling, ear-dusting, brain-poisoning slabs of melodic murder. IF it hadn't been for the reception these re-releases received then I'm sure I'd be in a Punk Rock Rest Home right now. Instead, Joe Koonz came back from Sweden with a fire in his eyes and an aggression that was contagious. He had always been the Œth Member". He'd written some of our best songs, and we worked well together. We always had and seemingly always will! When Dr. Strange, who I have nothing but the kindest words for, felt they couldn't afford to put us back in the studio to record a new album we went searching for another label and with Tim from Mass Movement's help, we got hooked up Beer City Records and are looking forward to putting out a 26 year comprehensive DVD, a new studio album, re-releasing everything that's not now in print. We're planning to tour the states again. That will be the first time since 1984, and probably go back for the third time to Europe. Those will probably take place next springtime. .
..Over the last couple of years, Dr. Strange has released a couple of CDs featuring four of your older albums. How did this deal come about? Of those four albums, just tell us a little about each and your thoughts on each, given the benefits of hindsight. Personally, I think each one is great, but there's something about 'Freak Show' that just slays me each time I play it.
..Clif) I rambled into this question a bit above but the more recent the album the better I seem to like it. Not only do I think that the band's learned some new tricks each time, but lyrically I write what's affecting me and/or those around me and 'Crawling Blind's songs about addiction rang true, and 'Freak Show's songs about mental illness cut real close to home also. When 'One False Move' came out with its songs of suicide and self-destruction, Bill Close, at the very end of the mixing for it, put down his guitar and said, "That's it, I'm done with THE FREEZE, it's fucked my head up enough already!" True to his word he never played a show with us again. In a rare moment of honesty with me, Bill told me that he'd felt a lot of the feelings of depression and suicide that I had written about on that album and that he "didn't want those thoughts taking up his headspace any longer." He was actually afraid that listening to those songs, and the ones from 'Crawling Blind' and 'Freak Show', would drive him irreversibly crazy. He wasn't alone either. Scott Mouliason, the drummer said the same things and left also. Craig the bass player moved on to something poppier, and the band disintegrated, almost solely because of my lyrics. I don't know if I should take it as a complement as to their true-to-the-source power they held or I must have been a truly troubled person myself for having written lines that could make some of my best friends want to put as much distance as they could between us…
..Did Bill and the Dr. Strange gang not consider releasing a new FREEZE disc also? I mean, after being fucked about by sooooo many labels - and you having worked with Dr. Strange before - would it not have made sense to release a disc on a sincere and reputable label? At least you know Bill would never rip you off - in all my dealings with him he has come over as one of the most sincere and honest guys I've ever known in this Punk Rock world.
..Clif) Bill Plaster and Dr Strange went a long ways towards bringing me back around to having some trust in the independent labels who, except for our very first one, Modern Method back from '82-'86, were either crooks or outright pigs that should have been slaughtered. Bill, I think, saw us as a non-touring band as we didn't do anything concert-wise to help with the promotion of 'One False Move', Bill Close quitting the band and all before the disc was ever released. Whether it's true or not doesn't really matter, but the Doc says he has a new policy of not paying for a band's studio costs, the individual bands would be responsible for that, and he'd just take care of the rest. THE FREEZE is penniless, so paying to record an album is way out of our reach! Besides, we haven't had to do that (pay for our own recording costs) since 1980s 'I Hate Tourists' 45. I just told Bill Plaster about our plans with Beer City and he was nothing but supportive. He's truly one of the last of the good guys!
..You told me in a recent email - pretty much out of the blue it seemed to me - that the FREEZE had just signed to Beer City Records in Milwaukee. How did this deal come about? Have you had any dealings with Mike and the Beer City gang previously?
..Clif) Personally I had never heard of them until Tim Cundle (Mass Movement) mentioned them to us as a possible label to sign with. I looked into them, heard only good stuff, and we've actually played with almost all the bands on their roster at one time or another in the past: D.R.I., VERBAL ABUSE, TOXIC REASONS and M.D.C. They seem to have big plans and big plans seem exciting!
..It's another label with a stellar reputation. How does it feel to be involved with Beer City when compared with some of your previous labels? Does the way Mike and the gang operate instil a greater sense of belief in what they say when compared with Taang/Lost and Found/Three Days Dead?
..Clif) We haven't officially "signed" the contract yet, but like I said, I asked around, everybody from young Punks in the street, to the Doc, to Al Quint, to the guys that run the local "alternative" record store and NO-ONE had a bad word for Beer City, in fact all were exactly the opposite. Wow! Think of it…TWO DECENT LABELS IN A ROW! Seems like some sort of miracle…
..This all suggests the FREEZE is a fully functional band at present. Who is in the current line-up? Is Bill Close back? The last line-up I recall had Walter Gustafson, who recorded the 'Crawling Blind' album and played in GANG GREEN on drums - he still in the band? How did you hook up with these new members?
..Clif) THE FREEZE, I'm happy to say, is 3/5th true, core FREEZE members. Bill isn't back and I don't expect he'll ever be. Joe Koonz is the co-pilot with me on this excursion. I'm also really glad to have the mighty rumbles of Walter Gustafson pounding out from behind his drum set! On second guitar we have long time local guitar talent, a guy I've known for almost 20 years, Eric Short (SPACE PUSSY and TRIPP LULLABY), on bass we've got a relative newcomer, Kevin Bonelli from The DILAUDIDS, but he can play, has a practice space, a van and a lot of home recording equipment, which always helps!!
..So - Joe Koonz, who served as a band member between 87-94, is back in the band. How did you get back together with him? Where has he been for the last 10 years or so? Has he been contributing to the writing process also?
..Clif) Bill and Joe had a slight falling out after 'Crawling Blind' was recorded. Joe enrolled in a college for photography and eventually moved to Sweden where he joined a few bands before starting one of his own called QUASIMODO JONES. The closest band it sounds like to me is Alien Sex Fiend. But he never lost sight of his Punk roots and when he moved back to the States with his new Swedish wife, he brought with him a 4-track tape recording of 20 plus songs that he said he wanted me to write the lyrics for. Even over a decade later, we got together and we clicked immediately. It's just like the old times but better! Joe's stepped in easily to the role Bill played. He could always write good songs, and now he's able to back them with his guitar work!
..Has this new line-up played many shows so far? What has the response been? Have you had many criticisms for the fact that Bill Close is not in the line-up?
..Clif) We've played one show so far, opening up for the so-called MISFITS, or should I say "Jerry Only's Punk Rock cover band?" Before the show all I heard was, "How are you going to pull it of without Bill? Bill this, Bill that. After the show Bill's name has only come up in interviews such as this; kind of a "where is he now?" question.
..First and foremost, the plans, I assume, are for a new FREEZE album. Have you started the writing yet? If so, what direction is the music taking? And where are you taking the lyrics? Your last disc, 'One False Move' on Dr. Strange pretty much tied up - and killed off - many characters that appeared throughout your lyrics. Will the new disc represent a whole new body of characters, or are you taking the lyrics in a new direction?
..Clif) As of right this moment we have three completed new songs. 'Somebody's Been Bleeding' which concerns a guy who regains consciousness only to find his girlfriend gone and he can't remember anything that happened, until that point the only hint is a pool of drying blood on his floor… Another song's called 'New Eyes' which is about a person hurt so bad in a relationship that he has to crawl deep inside his mind to hide and heal while threatening to return with "New eyes that will begin to watch you". Thirdly, 'Sleepless Heads', this one brings the Tommy character back again, older and a bit more demented. In addition to my "character in crisis" type of lyrics, I plan to write a few 'fight back and survive' themed songs as well as a few social commentary types; like updated 'American Town' type of stuff. As for the music, Joe wrote the music for THE FREEZE songs 'P2P', 'Chemical Fed Compulsion', 'Wired to Lose' (from 'One False Move'), 'Forced Vacation', 'DEA' etc… So think of those songs only more aggressive!
..You mentioned that Beer City is going to re-release a lot of your older material also. Given the stuff Dr. Strange has re-issued, what's left for Beer City? Will there be a disc of rarities from the past history of the band? That'd be awesome. Are there many unreleased recordings of the band that you have?
..Clif) 'Misery Loves Company', 'Five Way Fury', 'Double Dosed', tracks on a split we did with Germany's THE KILLRAYS, and the four cuts off the split we did with THE BOLLWEEVILS all need to be released. We have hours and hours of live stuff, some of which will be released. We also have been floating around a homemade comp CD of rarities and alternate takes, some of which will definitely see the light of day. We even have this recording of a side project we recorded during the drug-crazed methed out years of '87-90 called ROPE'S END. It's 30 "songs" and I say that cautiously, because it's like nothing anyone's ever heard before and I mean that honestly! We never started writing and recording for ROPE'S END until all of those involved had been sleepless for at least 100 hours. It has song titles like 'Widescreen Roast Beef Phobia Admen', 'Liquid Nephew' and a very loose cover of Johnny Cash's tune 'I Walk The Line' we retitled 'I Talk To Twine'. We're going to slip pieces from that in as uncredited hidden cuts and backing track noise on the DVD etc...
..And what about this DVD release? Is that gonna be new or vintage material? Have you started to compile it yet? Are you gonna film any form of video, just for the hell of it, for a specific song - as in a promo video?
..Clif) Since the band started before camcorders were sold commercially, so far we've been able to find footage only as far back as 1983. I have live cassettes that go as far back as 1979, but the DVD will be as comprehensive as possible covering all periods of the band's "career". Most of the footage we have is from the 'Rabid Reaction' and the 'Crawling Blind/Freak Show' periods. We played live in the studio at Boston's Emerson College radio station, WERS in mid-August and recorded off the board as well as videotaping us live. We're debuted two of our new songs on the show. The sound quality at that place is state-of-the-art. Half of our release 'Double-Dosed' consists of a session we recorded there in 1986. So if it sounded good enough to be released then, you can only imagine how good it sounds there now!
..I recall THE FREEZE did a promo video for 'Powder, Rock and Pills' - that correct? Given the subject matter for that song, was it not an odd choice to make? Was it aired on MTV or anything?
..Clif) Here's another "FUCK YOU CURTIS AT TAANG" situation. We had just released 'Misery Loves Company', a spotty album with some really good songs and some not so, but the 45 Taang released - 'Bloodlights/Talking Bombs' - were two of the best songs I think we've ever written. They made a great single. Curtis brings up the idea of dropping a few thousand bucks on a video for the band; I guess Atlantic Records was actively checking us out with the potential of signing us to a major label. Out of complete left field, Curtis comes up with the idea of making the video for the song 'Powder, Rock and Pills'. That song was written as an in-joke throwaway track; just written because so many people kept telling us, "you guys couldn't write a Pop-Punk song if your lives depended on it!" So we wrote that to shut them up and have fun trying. It was never meant as a song intended to represent THE FREEZE, our sound or our image. Curtis FORCED us to make a video for that song; otherwise he threatened to not pay to make one at all. Man, if we'd only done one for 'Bloodlights' things might be so different now. But NO, we record an overlong, poorly edited video for 'Powder, Rock and Pills'. MTV had promised Curtis they'd play our video on their show 120 Minutes and apparently MTV liked the song and the video for it. They just had one condition before they would agree to play it, and that was that we change the title of the song to a more "anti-drug" title. Here's where I got to take a shot back at Curtis... I refused to censor myself and told Cutis to go fuck himself and fuck MTV too; I wasn't going to change anything. In the end, the video never got played anywhere and we never heard from MTV ever again. Oh well...
..What happened to your solo stuff? In our last interview, you mentioned you had recorded some solo tracks and they'd appear on a 'Best Of…' type deal - obviously this was before Three Days Dead fucked you (and many others, I have to say) over. Is this gonna be released in some way - or have the tracks now become fully-fledged FREEZE songs?
..Clif) Yeah I had/have some shitty sounding 4-track stuff I recorded. You've got to remember that even though I write some of the band's music I don't really play guitar. I play open tuned. Some of the stuff on those tapes has been reworked into THE FREEZE songs 'Iron Framed' from 'Token Bones' and 'New Eyes' and 'Sleepless Heads', two of our new songs. Some others might be picked over, a few parts used but the rest is garbage compared to what Joe's already written!
..Coming off the band, can we probe a little deeper into the psyche of Clif Hanger? You mentioned you have been in jail since we last spoke? Can I ask why? You've spent a bit of time behind bars over the years - how do you find prison life? Do you find it hard to adjust when you get put in jail - and again when you come out?
..Clif) Funny you should ask this now as I might be facing more time in jail… In 2000 I almost had to do a mandatory minimum of two years for Possession of Methamphetamine with Intent to Distribute. The cops tried to stop me coming out of the post office with the package of drugs. Knowing I was looking at a two-year minimum I took off in my car with a dozen or more cop cars, unmarked detective cars and State Police cruisers all flailing after me trying to run me off the road to bring me to a stop. My plan, and thankfully I was successful, was to open the package as I was driving and let the stuff slip slowly out of my hand that I was holding out the window. By the time I pulled into my driveway I had gotten rid of all the drugs but I still had my face mashed into the gravel driveway with two guns to the back of my head, cops growling "go ahead move, I want you to so I can shoot your no-good ass!" I had over 40 lacerations on my face and chest but they didn't have any drug evidence. They charged me with a felony of Assault on a Police Officer with A Deadly Weapon: My Car, Driving to Endanger and about a dozen other things but none of them were serious enough to give me jail time. Instead of learning from that close call I kept up my shoplifting habit until the judge basically got sick of seeing my face in his courtroom and sentenced me to six months. The worst part of prison is, naturally, the loss of all personal freedoms. Besides that I had been on the prescription anxiety drug, Klonopin for the previous seven years. It's in a class of drugs called Benzodiazepines along with Valium and Xanax. The fuckers in prison wouldn't give me my Klonopin and as any drug addict will tell you, Benzos are tougher to come off of than heroin. The only drugs people can die withdrawing from are Benzos and occasionally alcohol. I had been taken off my anxiety medication in the most anxiety-provoking place one could imagine. I wasn't even close to normal for over 30 days. It was hell. I couldn't sleep. I was afraid of my shadow and on top of that my girlfriend at the time had to start fucking around on me. Pure hell! If I get sentenced to two years for this charge coming up, I'm outta here. I'd rather be dead or on the run then spend any more time in "the Man's House."
..You're on probation now yeah? What 'rules' do you have to abide by for that and when are you due to be off probation?
..Clif) Actually I just got off probation about a week ago, which was a lucky thing on my part because if I had gotten caught shoplifting while on probation I would have had to go immediately to jail for the entire duration of my probation which would have been a year, mandated. I was under Administrative Probation, which is the type one would want to serve, as you don't have to do anything except pay the court a monthly fee and stay out of trouble. Dumb-ass me had to fuck-up again just one week later. I'm still in shock at how fucking stupid I am!
..There are two other issues that maybe linked that you have said I can ask you about and that is you lost a daughter to the Department of Social Services. That must have been pretty fucking hard on you - you want to explain what happened there? Did this result in a return to your dependency on Methadone?
..Clif) Picking up a Heroin habit at 43 years old, as best as I can hypothesize, was a result of quite a few different factors all converging at once. My daughter was taken from my wife and I because of a prejudicial probation officer, hers not mine, intervening where she didn't belong, contacting DSS BEFORE our daughter was born that we'd be poor parents and should be "interviewed to decide our parental potential". I had them legally blocked from doing this but like a starving dog smelling raw meat they kept at us and kept at us until when I made the mistake of shoplifting one too many times and I ended up in jail. Then they pounced, grabbed her and put her up for adoption... As luck would have it my sister and brother in-law wanted to have a daughter after two sons and adopted her. So we visit our daughter all the time and when the right time arises she'll know who her real parents are. My wife and I look forward to the day we can give her a tearful hug and tell her the truth. She's only three now so it will be a while until that happens. Yeah, that was traumatic but so was spending six months in jail. Another reason has to be that I have a 20 plus year history of doing Crystal Meth and, turning 40, it felt good to slow myself down for awhile and awash in a mellow rush rather than that constant rigid hyper vigilance that comes with overloading one's body with the strongest stimulant known to mankind almost every day for those 20 plus years. I got sick of the dependency on Heroin really quick and put myself in the Methadone clinic where I levelled myself out for a year or so. Now I'm off the clinic thanks to a fairly new wonder-drug called Suboxone, which is an opiate blocker. Even if I wanted to get high Suboxone would make it impossible. I feel so much better off of both Heroin and Methadone!
..How did all of this affect your Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)? You still being prescribed Speed to combat it?
..Clif) It doesn't take a PhD. to figure out that a person using/abusing Methamphetamine for over two decades must be self-medicating something within. For me that something was ADHD. Under the old fashioned way of thinking, if a person was abusing a certain type of drug, the last thing a physician would do would be to treat that person with a similar substance. Thankfully there's a new view prescribing physician's take. They give their patients a less potent and highly regulated form of amphetamine; in my case it's ADDerall. Since being on ADDerall for almost five years now I haven't even had a desire to do any more Meth. That's a miracle that I would never have predicted could have happened 10 or 15 years ago!
..You have also got your degree in Substance Abuse Counselling - good for you!! Snag is, it seems that because you are a user/with your past legal problems, you can't put it to use? That's pretty fucked up isn't it - I mean - surely someone with hands on experience AND the degree is better than some guy who read it all out of a book.
..Clif) Yeah, what a fucking blow that was, to get my shit back together enough that I could seriously go back to college, earn a Bachelor's Degree in Human Services with a minor in Substance Abuse Counselling only to find out that certain state and federal laws disallows a person such as myself who has a felony conviction, from practicing in the field; but hey, doesn't that degree look fucking great hanging on my wall!
..Tell us the best and worst aspects/traits of Clif Hanger.
..Clif) The worst aspect right now is that I still haven't worked my way through what's termed Theft Addiction, not Kleptomania, which is described as "stealing without forethought". Shoplifting for me (and yes I try to be a morally correct as I can when I do steal; no stealing from anyplace but chain stores, corporate entities) has become a new addiction. As soon as I beat one or two addictions another equally damaging one surfaces. As I write this I'm facing two charges; one because I stole two books from a Barnes & Nobles even though I had $60 on me, more than enough to pay for them, and secondly - and this is truly pathetic SCREAMING out PROBLEM!!!! - I stole a box of cereal while carrying over $250 in my wallet. Just as the band gets a new lease on life I could be facing more jail time. It's an addiction, but it's also a behaviour that I have to take responsibility for. As it stands I'm hurting my wife, my family, my friends, my band mates and myself. It's got to stop. It's a totally selfish behaviour. That's my worst fault. My best features? I guess that I've always cared about the downtrodden, the beaten down, the underdogs and tried to educate myself in ways I could make a socially acceptable difference to the people way too many in our society would rather pretend didn't exist. My studies focused on helping out Adolescents at Risk. Being in THE FREEZE, this is an age group that I feel I can easily relate too, teaching those younger than myself not to "make the same mistakes that I did" (a line from our song 'Last Letter Home' from 'One False Move')!
..THE FREEZE was involved in the 'This Is Boston… Not LA' comp - which is considered a classic today. The band appeared on a couple of Flipside comps and a MRR one too yeah? How do you feel the Punk Rock compilation album has changed - for the better or worse - since the days of 'This Is Boston…', 'Let Them Eat Jellybeans' etc? Have comps become little more than marketing tools for record labels instead of introductions to NEW bands? Has the fact that CDs are cheap to produce and kinda throwaway when compared with vinyl, contributed to making comps a 'marketing pitch' of muzak for Punks?
..Clif) With 'This Is Boston, Not LA' we were fortunate enough to be a part of a "New Music Scene". As more and more people get interested in Hardcore music 'This Is Boston, Not LA' wound up being the perfect album for people to get their first listen to it. We were all young then, vibrant, and excited to be a part of a "Scene" that, even though it really only lasted two or three years, seemed like it would last forever. There aren't too many chances to be in a band that was fortunate enough to be at the forefront of a new movement. A time like that only seems to come a long once every decade or so. What today's comps are lacking is the excitement of being part of a groundbreaking musical community. In no way does that mean I think that the bands from the '…Boston Not LA' period are any better than any of the new bands appearing on various comps today. With that said, I think Steve, that you've pretty answered your own question!!
..In our last interview, we mentioned Dave Smalley - someone I personally have a lot of time for. You mentioned that back in the early Boston days when he was in DYS, he was, "another one following the leader." I recently read that he has declared political allegiance to The Republican Party in the USA. I know you have had little to do with the guy since those early Boston days, but what do you make of this? You can actually read a column of his about this political transformation on www.conservativepunk.com. Haha - Conservative Punk? Surely that statement alone is a contradiction in terms!
..Clif) It was in your question that I first heard about this Punk Rock anomaly. So I went and I checked things out for myself. The first thing I noticed is that you really can't get very far into the site unless you "register" as one of them. That's always a good first warning sign that someone's got something to hide. So I registered as "The Boston Basher", a skinhead, take no shit from liberal faggots, let's bomb the abortion clinics, beat the shit out of those commie-loving, Anti-War protesters, put prayer back in our schools and women back in their place, the holocaust never happened, white is right and guns are fun, let's watch some John Wayne movies then play golf… In other words, a regular fun loving Right Wing sorta guy… I posted my profile, which included most of what I mentioned above, and was then able to search all around the site. What I saw disgusted me. The couple of dozen bands that listed themselves as being aligned with this political disfigurement were either no-names or the usual suspects; The UNDEAD, The ANTISEEN, the MISFITS' singer after Danzig (I forget his name) and that's about all. The IQ of the average "poster" on their bulletin board must hover around 40, in other words borderline mongreloid. The discussions ranged from such brain-busters as "It's good to burn books", to "Anti-war protesters are traitorous scum and should be beaten whenever possible." They're very careful to not let anyone or any topic expose their skin-thin hidden Aryan nation stances. It came off to me as a place for a very few older "leader" types laying their filtered neo-Nazi bullshit on a small but impressionable squadron of young, lost Punk kids. It's still in the harmlessly pathetic phase but who knows what could grow out of it? It's basically Jock-thought thuggery dressed as a "Political alternative" to everything from Maximum RocknRoll to Hillary Clinton. I wasn't around when Hitler rose to power but I did witness the rise of SSD, DYS and SLAPSHOT and that's close enough for me. I went a little overboard stating on the website that "the poor should either pull themselves up by their bootstraps or be shipped to an island where they couldn't suck anymore from society than they already have" and that the "Priest sexual abuse scandal was a concoction of the lurid Left Wing in a lame effort to discredit the church", and on and on. They must have figured out what was up because when I went to sign on the next day I received a "BANNED FROM THE SITE you Left Wing trolling Faggot" flashing banner and they even went as far as to identify my ISP so I couldn't "sign back in with your Left Wing poison." So much for freely spoken political discourse! Dave Smalley and that ilk are just a bunch of brain dead-ended, musically vacant, fat rats down a tiny hole looking to make a big splash in a very little puddle in a desert for discussion. I think that EVERYONE should go there, adopt a false bigoted persona which will then allow you entry to the site, take it in and then expose it for what it is; a gathering ground for vacuum heads and their fallen idols to pathetically attempt a contrarian power-grab. It's just the same old garbage in a new disguise.
..Also in our last interview - which would have been November 2001 - we spoke of the 9/11 attacks and the ensuing War on Terror, of which, at the time, you said you had no complaints of how Bush had handled the 'war.' I should state you also said you would never vote for him! Given hindsight and the attack on Iraq - what are your opinions now? Just HOW did Bush get back in power do you think? The polls were all suggesting he was a goner. Do you think his re-election is good or bad for the state of America?
..Clif) I think it's one the darkest periods in our country's history. To take 9/11 and connect it to Saddam Hussein was a deceitful, shameless, baseless lie to not only the American people but also the whole world. My worst fear is what Bush will do to the balance on the Supreme Court. It's already 5-4 conservative. With Sandra Day O'Connor's seat about to be filled by a Right Wing, pro-life "Dave Smalley-ite" and Chief Judge Rehnquist about on his deathbed, Bush will be putting TWO of his cronies on the Supreme Court which for the U.SA. is the ultimate power seat, where an appointee is allowed to "drive their own agendas" until death disrobes them. I don't remember exactly what I said but it must have been very recently after 9/11 for me to have ever even hinted at anything positive concerning Bush and his travelling crony think-tank of Dick Cheney, Karl Rove and whoever else of his daddy's old friends have hopped a long for the ride.
..Sure was - less than two months after the attack.
..Clif) Ok… Having never witnessed anything close to the damage wrought on our country by the attacks on 9/11, I think it was necessary for whatever president it might have been at the time to come out sounding resolute and self assured. I think the people needed to hear strong words from their "Commander in Chief" and that's exactly what Bush gave us. It allowed us time to regroup as a nation with an eye on bringing the guilty party/parties to justice. That was fine. As soon as I heard the words "Saddam Hussein" come up I knew what the motherfucker was up to. This wasn't going to be about "bringing the guilty party to justice" this was going to be about a declaration of war for oil, against our individual civil rights (refer to The Patriot Act) and to avenge the embarrassment Hussein caused the elder Bush in the earlier Gulf war. Hearing repeatedly lame and outright bullshit attempts by Bush and his henchmen peck and scratch in evermore desperate attempts to connect Iraq to 9/11 would have been outright laughable for its transparency were it not for the fact that the majority of Americans believed him! I guess the people here needed a "face" to put the blame on for 9/11 so badly that they were willing to believe anything. Weapons of Mass Destruction? Nope! Iraq harbouring Bin Laden and his crew? Nope! I'm sure we're all fairly knowledgeable at this point about the lies Bush told the world and the American people to justify the war on Iraq. If not, people SHOULD BE!!! Look into it!! The next presidential election will be in 2008. Do you think the world will be ready for Bush #3? Little brother Jeb Bush, the governor of Florida, (where coincidently the 2000 election was stolen from Al Gore and handed to George W.) will be either running for the highest office or grooming himself for it in 2012 by accepting a Vice-Presidency position. Personally I hope Hillary Clinton runs, the only sad thing if she wins will be when some "Lone-Gunman" assassinates her.
..And what of the new Pope? Seems to me he is spouting the same hard-line doctrine of his predecessor. Religion of all forms is a form of brainwashing as far as I am concerned. For the sake of cynicism, let's assume you formed the Church of Clif Hanger - what would you preach and how would you go about it??
..Clif) It would be real simple. Forget the "eye for en eye" part and your left with "Do unto others…."
..OK, so what are the plans for Clif Hanger and THE FREEZE after the new album is out? You have any plans to tour either at home or abroad?
..Clif) I think the first thing to look for will be a comprehensive ൡ Years Of Defiance" DVD, followed by putting ALL of our currently out-of-print material back in print, along with some other lost finds we've come across such as great sounding live material from as far back as 1981 to 2005, alternate takes and mixes of some songs, as well as two newly recorded tunes called 'Somebody's Been Bleeding' and 'New Eyes'. Then this winter we'll be releasing the new studio album followed by a 3rd tour of Europe and our 2nd tour of the states and the first since 1984!! However you want to dress it up, one thing you can count on is THE FREEZE are back, and back as THE FREEZE!!!
..I'm done for this one Clif! Anything you wish to add?
..Clif) Remember THE FREEZE could have new stuff out anytime so please keep you eyes and ears open. DON'T shoplift (unless you're SURE their NOT looking!)
I can be reached anytime at this email address:
Anyone who'd like to say 'Hey' to Joe Koonz can reach him at this email address: