Photo by Atiba Jefferson
Interview with Dr. Know of the Bad Brains | By Hutch
When I call Dr. Know he is picking up Mackie and John Joseph. Mackie Jayson is most known as the drummer as the Cro-Mags and a part of the crucial Age of Quarrel album. He also recorded with the Bad Brains on Quickness and Rise, among other touring stints. He played in Fun Lovin’ Criminals, NYHC treasure The Icemen, Hazen St, and even came into Madball when Riggs stepped down. Doc and Mackie have been brothers for many years. John Joseph is returning from a Cro Mags’ gig in Sao Paolo, Brazil. The Ironman contender, outspoken vegan Krishna, NYHC retro tour guide, aka Bloodclot, will jump directly into the singers’ slot at Black N Blue Bowl.
Dr. Know is the guitarist of Bad Brains. There are never sufficient words to describe Bad Brains quickly and their spiritual connection with their friends. Along with his partner in bass, Darryl Jennifer, Doc will be headlining day one of the BNB Bowl, with Mackie and John Joseph, as The Regulators. They will be performing an hour long set of classic Bad Brains’ material. Dr. Know (Gary Miller) describes the reunion as “an old-time special.”
“The show is at Webster Hall, which is the old Ritz. I haven’t played there in 20 years. It will be special. We are headlining, like the old days.” The energy will be indescribable. As much as Bad Brains came from DC, they can still be considered a NYHC band from the beginning. And JJ and Mackie were there to see and learn from their peers as the Cro-Mags were growing. “They’re family. We are all brothers. We did this line-up back in the winter, some smaller spot in the city. It was thirty minutes and it was great.”
John Joseph will bring a fervent intensity. He does Ironman competitions. “He is more fit than ever,” Doc notes. The four will practice all week. Black N Blue Bowl is having a one off Burn reunion to top Day 2. The varied array will push all the styles that make up NYHC. Other bands appearing are Crumbsuckers, Sick Of It All, Madball, Earth Crisis, and Candiria. Among 100 Demons, Booze and Glory, EGH, Wisdom In Chains, King Nine, Rival Mob, Rude Awakening and even more, the vibe will be electric. Doc wants to give the people a crazy show, as many family and friends will be there. And The Regulators are, well as Doc says, “It’s the OG’s.”
At the end of May, Bad Brains will be recording a five song EP in Woodstock, NY where Dr. Know lives. The recording will be with Jesse Royal. The special aspect to this recording will be that the public can buy a ticket to attend the memorable event at Applehead Studios. A series called Woodstock Sessions is hosting the Bad Brains recording with 60 to 70 people in attendance. “We are going to write the album that day. Make it up, revamp it, and record it.”
Jess Royal is a “hot new Jamaican. We met him at the Afro-Punk fest. We had a special set with rotating vocalists; Corey (Glover of Living Colour; John Joseph, Jesse Royal and two others.” While Doc is excited to record new material with a young vocalist, the addition of the fans is a unique experience. “People will get to know us as we record. It will be straight up spontaneity. Some of the songs we are working on, we have already in process. We need to jam them out. It all happens there. We wrote a lot of records in the studio.” Applehead is comfortable for Doc; he reports having done much work there. The idea came up between him and the studio.
“It’s cool. People are going to get to hang out all day.” The event boasts fans being treated to an open space studio, stocked with a Caribbean feast. When they leave the fans will receive a commemorative t-shirt of the day, a limited edition poster and reservation for a 180-gm vinyl of the recording. Doc is very excited to share this event. “The vibe will be incredible, laid back. It’s going to be fun. We are going to play some reggae, maybe a rock joint. We can’t get too wild, though,” Doc laughs.
Check out Black N Blue Bowl this weekend (May 16/17, 2015). More info here.
Learn more about the Woodstock Sessions (May 30, 2015) here.