Interview: Al Barile of SSD Talks ‘The Kids Will Have Their Say’ Reissue

That phrase evokes intense feelings. Not just because of the revered record which it evokes, but the phrase itself. It is a declaration of defiance which places hope in the rebellious youth who were forming this scene/movement called hardcore. The phrase’s power is solidified when paired with an image of Boston’s riled youth storming the stairs of the Massachusetts’ State House, perched atop the prestigious and affluent Beacon Hill. These youth were held back from the hope of attainable wealth and influence.

The Kids Will Have Their Say is that record. Fueled by sobriety, rage, and strength, the record is distilled hardcore. It is hailed and worshipped equally with Minor Threat’s first s/t and In My Eyes, Agnostic Front’s United Blood and Victim in Pain, and Black Flag’s Damaged. The album, by Boston’s SS Decontrol (Society System Decontrol or SSD), has added lore and lure because it had an initial pressing and was never repressed or reissued, as opposed to other albums named above. SSD was Springa (vocals), Jaime Sciarappa (bass), Chris Foley (drums), and Al Barile on guitar. As a tease (read: disappointment), in 1992, some of the songs were featured on a “sampler” compilation, Power, on TAANG! Records, rearranged and mixed with the band’s different records and varied eras out of order.

Songwriter and guitarist of SSD Al Barile was a member of the storied Boston Crew, along with Choke (Slapshot, Negative FX, Last Rights), Jake Phelps (Thrasher Magazine), Dave Smalley, and Jon Anastas of DYS, and about another dozen. The Boston scene was centered around Media Workshop, Gallery East and all ages venues. Jumping in Barile’s weathered van, they took trips to DC and NYC and many tales—most exaggerated—were tallied and spread throughout the decades. Barile began the Boston Scene and the defiance abstinence when it was called “The Straight Edge” (as written on the back of the infamous leather jacket seen on the cover). The industrious (and one of the few working full-time at a good job) Barile also started X-Claim! Records to put out his and his peers’ records. These would include Jerry’s Kids’ Is This My World?, DYS’ Brotherhood, and FU’s’ Kill for Christ + My America.

“The record came out in 1982. It was instantly out of press,” Barile laughs. “On the way home from the record plant, we stopped off in New York and dumped 500 here. And then, we went to Newbury Comics and dumped off another … whatever. Essentially, I think we made roughly 2,000. It was gone in the first month. The decision, then, was, ‘do we keep repressing it?’ Or do we turn the page and look forward? I was about moving forward. I never looked back.”

Fast forward to 2010 and the indie rock giant Matador offered to repress the record. Through the years other labels had offered to reissue it, even Dischord. “Man, Ian is really into the archival things,” Barile quips. But Barile yields, “The easiest decision was to do nothing and get back to my life, as I have done for 40 years.”

It was not until COVID that Barile truly considered reissuing the record. On Facebook, Barile was talking to Keith Morris, who pointed Barile to Trust and Joe Nelson. Morris lauded Trust for being an archival label, not the typical business plan of most labels. “That sparked my interest,” Al says. Seeing that Trust Records had done beautiful jobs with Circle Jerks’ Group Sex + Wild in the Streets, 7 Seconds’ The Crew + Walk Together, Rock Together, and Aggression’s Don’t Be Mistaken (along with SSD, Trust released Youth Brigade’s Sound and Fury in November 2023.).

Sadly, in the time of COVID, Barile had continued tolerating back problems which had degenerated his health. And then he got diagnosed with cancer. Al began to contemplate his mortality. He sighs, “I finally went out of my way to find a home for it.”

Technical problems arose, of course. Barile had never received all of his masters from the creation of Power. He had a box but never had the equipment to play quarter-inch tape. So he didn’t know what he had and what he did not have. They remained idle in a box in Al’s cellar, which resulted in water damage.

“This reissue was done from a safety copy, a back-up. The real master of The Kids Will Have Their Say is missing. The Get It Away master is missing. This made it harder than it had to be,” he says. The ‘hard’ issue was “meticulously restored by a wizard named Dan Johnson from Audio Archiving Services,” Barile adds, “(Johnson) had to pull out the analog tape and clean it by hand.” Then, Dave Gardner remastered it.

As far as the record’s packaging, Barile laughs, “I left it to Joe (Nelson). I’m completely out of touch with the vinyl collecting thing. (I told Joe) ‘if I do it, they’ll all be mad at me. I’m the dude who never released it all these years. I just hope everyone is happy.” Trust worked with Bryan Ray Turcotte whose goal was to recreate the original X-Claim! packaging.

Barile continues, “That negotiation and discussion went on for two years. Nothing was gonna make me—or the band—happy. Let’s put out whatever makes the SSD superfans and collectors happy.” An adjacent issue was an SSD book was coming out months earlier in 2023. “From the beginning, I said that we had a book coming out, How Much Art Can You Take? with all of Philin Phlash’s SSD pictures” (and Nancy Barile’s interviews with the band and friends).

Barile allowed Nelson to use some photos but opted to keep it simple. “The real goal was to be as pure to the original as possible. That’s why you don’t have a gatefold and all the pictures.”

As far as the actual sounds emanating from the needle and speakers, “I’m not going to lie. That album was very difficult for me to make. I was 19. Those guys were 16 or 17. The recording studio was a whirlwind. I was trying to focus on my playing being good. But then we had all these questions. ‘Are we going to play live? Use compression? The guitar sound?’” Barile had always been the band dad. He had the job, the van. the money, the label. He not only has a presence of might but one of severity and responsibility.

“We didn’t just go in (the studio) to record. We were making that record (in the studio). We did three separate sessions. I recall the first session did not go well. We tried again at least three or four times.” Barile notes that to hear the record is to hear the mistakes. Not in playing, but in decisions. “It was painful. It took a long time. It is not enjoyable to think about that time of my life. It was challenging, frustrating. But it’s out. That is what I am happy about. People will get a chance to own it, to hear it, bash it. Do whatever they want to do with it.

“It’s the record that maybe everyone had heard about, but never got to hear it or own it. But I’m happy it’s out again.” In the tone of a true Bostonian, Barile’s words are weighted by humor, gravity, and resignation. “If I happen to leave the earth tomorrow, I think it’s in the right spot. If you ask me in a year, maybe I will have a different answer.”

You can order the reissue of The Kids Will Have Their Say from Trust Records.

Photo courtesy of Philin Phlash

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