Jon Biviano

2012-03-12 08:38 in Interviews by Pim

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There was a dark, bitter moment, a long, long, long time ago when I gave away the Supertouch 7″… But since then things have changed and Supertouch became one of my favorite bands. Probably because they’re pretty unique. They sound different from most other bands. Better (yes, that’s a pun). Anyway, when we played a couple of shows with them in 2011 I wasn’t only blown away by their shows, but also by how down to earth and friendly these guys were. Plans for an interview with Mark were made, but for all kinds of reasons that didn’t happen (yet!) and I was planning to do an interview with Jon anyway, since he’s such a big part of the Supertouch sound. One of the best guitarplayers in hardcore if you ask me. And a cool guy, as you can read below. We had a talk about the past, the present and the future.

Hey Jon, how are you doing? What’s on your mind at the moment?

All is good here. It’s Monday Feb. 20, Presidents Day in the US. I have been given the day off by my employers, so all is pretty cool right now. As to what’s on my mind, many things. Gotta get my taxes done tomorrow, then work the night shift driving a truck (eighteen wheeler). I also constantly worry about West Ham United FC. Yes, I’m quite silly.

West Ham United? Hahaha, how did that come into play?

I discovered West Ham in 1981, mainly because I was a big Iron Maiden fan. I got into the Cockney Rejects in ’85, and that sealed the deal.

Aah of course, didn’t think of that connection. How’s life treating you right now? Good times?

Life is good. I work (driving a truck) and play in Supertouch. I have a nice girlfriend in Brooklyn, NY. Nothing too complicated, but life is never boring.

I also constantly worry about West Ham United FC. Yes, I’m quite silly.

Let’s dive right in. What’s the first memory you have of your life?

My first memory in life is falling down the stairs in the house I grew up in. Kind of a scary memory too. Not being able to stop myself while a plunge to an uncertain end. Ok, stop laughing!

Haha, sorry. That’s not the best first memory to have indeed. How about the first music related memory then? Hope that one is better?

My first music related memory is listening to the soundtrack for a musical called Godspell (Bell Records 1974). It’s interesting because the original soundtrack is much different from the movie soundtrack. What fascinated me was the guitar playing. In the final scene, when Jesus is crucified, there is this guitar solo which absolutely screams. I listened to this piece of music so much, I scratched the vinyl and made the record almost unplayable. But that sound was so crazy and scary at the same time. I was obsessed. It had a massive effect on me.

Haha, nice! So when did you pick up the guitar yourself? And why?

I first picked up the guitar at age 9 (in 1978). My father demanded I play a musical instrument, and was going to force me to take piano lessons. I suggested guitar, and he agreed. He regretted that decision forever.

Although I would love to be able to play the piano properly I think that’s a good choice. I can imagine your dad would have prefered to see you become a virtuous piano player but did he support you when you started playing in bands?

My Dad did not support me playing in a band. He hated the music I loved. He also never came to see me play. That’s alright though. He was a good guy. I drove him nuts. I was a bit of a wise-ass.

Can’t please em all of course. But in what ways were you a wise-ass?

Nothing too crazy. I would drink, but I never got into any big trouble. Never got arrested or put in hospital. What drove my dad the most crazy was the music I listened to. I was also a crummy student at school. My guitar was much more important.

I was first brought in on bass, but got kicked out after 2 or 3 practices.

And how about your mom?

Mum was much cooler. She had a much more laid back view on life. She’s from London, England.

Nice, did she understand your love for the music?

Yes. She liked the Beatles in their very early days. She understood rock n roll. Not to say that the music my dad liked was uncool. He liked Big Band, BeBop, and Jazz. He just didn’t get anything after 1963.

Man, the Beatles. Great stuff. Ok, guess it’s time to talk Supertouch. You probably have been asked this a 1000 times already, but to be as complete as possible: How did you get started with Supertouch? You weren’t in the band before Supertouch right, Death Before Dishonor?

I got started in Supertouch when I met Mark Ryan in 1985. He was 2 years ahead of me in our High School. His band Death Before Dishonor had just broken up, and he was looking to put together a new band. I was first brought in on bass, but got kicked out after 2 or 3 practices. They called me back a month later to play guitar. We were first called DBD in 1985, but that changed to Supertouch in 1986.

Man, I was born in 1985… Haha. Anyway, you got kicked out after 2 or 3 practices? Must have sucked? How did you feel when they called you again?

I did suck at playing bass. I still do. I was much happier when the call came to return to the band as the guitar player.

I guess the worst thing that’s ever happened to us is one of our bass players got arrested in Utah, back in 1993. That sucked.

I can imagine. What are the best memories you have of playing in Supertouch? Bring out the good stories Jon haha.

My favorite memories of Supertouch are the tours and the insane road trips. The best memory is playing 2 benefit gigs in one day in 1989: First, a matinee gig at the Pipeline in Newark, NJ for WFMU Radio, and then a night gig at the Anthrax Club in Norwalk Connecticut, for Amnesty International. When Rory Krevolin announced us that night, and told the audience we had already done a benefit that day, the place just erupted. Two of our best shows ever.

Nice! Insane road trips you say? Care to give an example of that?

We don’t have many crazy tour stories. Or maybe I just don’t view them as being crazy. We always have a good time and we’re a very silly bunch. We don’t get too serious.

I guess the worst thing that’s ever happened to us is one of our bass players got arrested in Utah, back in 1993. That sucked.

What did he do?

He had a bowl in his backpack, which the officer said smelled like Marijuana. Total bullshit. The whole search and arrest was completely unfair and illegal. The cop knew he had us in a bad position, and took advantage of us.

Aah man, stuff like that sucks. Something else.. Stylewise you guys were pretty different from most other bands, did that make things harder sometimes or none of that?

Sounding different has never made life difficult. We play what we like and are lucky to have the audience that we have. We know we’re not a huge drawing band, but that could change. You never know.

Maybe not a huge drawing band, but you guys have earned your spot in hardcore history for sure. People will never forget about Supertouch. How does that feel? Do you even realize something like that?

It’s a good feeling. We’ve worked hard. We want to carry on and do more. We’ve created something different and unique and we’re happy with it.

We’ve created something different and unique and we’re happy with it.

What’s the song you’re the most proud of that you guys did?

I love all of our songs, but the song I’m most proud of is ‘How do you Feel’. The first time we played it was in Connecticut in 88. We knew we were taking a chance with a song that had a quiet intro, and a quiet middle part. Connecticut has always been so good to us, and they loved ‘How do you Feel’ instantly. It’s been in our set ever since.

That’s a great song indeed. Now you mentioned those quiet parts and we already talked about you guys sounding different… Where do those influences come from?

I guess the influences come from what we were all listening to, growing up in the 70’s and into the 80’s. For me, a lot of it comes from The Who, Sabbath, Deep Purple, early Rainbow, early Judas Priest. Even Iron Maiden had parts which would bring it down a bit.

Not bad influences at all. How about Creedence? Man, I love that band.

Of course! CCR is a staple on NYC Rock radio.

Good to hear that haha. There’s a list circulating of unreleased Supertouch songs (compiled by yourself), you also said that some of that stuff you didn’t even had in your possession. Since that list is from 2005 or something, did you manage to get a hold of that stuff by now?

I’m sorry, I haven’t. I’m not much of a collector. Just a lazy bum.

Just figured you might wanted to get that stuff together since you played on it yourself. I know I would. Anyway, will any of those unreleased songs ever see the light of day? (Aside from Lost My Way on the ‘new’ EP) That second unfinished LP for instance? It included a 19 minute song called Out Of Body?

Out of Body has been condensed down to a 4 minute song. Much more practical. 2 others are going to be recorded from those sessions in 96.

Out of Body has been condensed down to a 4 minute song. Much more practical.

Could have been a good LP filler though haha. Looking forward to hearing those man. You said somewhere else it’s a long boring story, but why didn’t the song ‘Flying High In The Loveless Sky’ end up on the soundtrack for the movie Sam?

Ok here it goes:

There are 3 versions of this song recorded back in 95-96. We always felt that the first version, which was recorded with Ian Love on bass, was the best. The other two were done with Krist on bass.

The people putting out the movie brought us into this very nice studio to record the song for the soundtrack. This was the third time we had now recorded it, and it just did not come out good at all. Krist had also injured himself before this session, and could barely get through it.

So, the movie people wanted to use their version. We wanted to put the first version in the movie and on the soundtrack. Turned into a big mess.

Not that long and boring at all haha, but I usually find stuff like that interesting. Was that movie any good by the way? And is that song also amongst the ones to be re-recorded?

I never got the chance to see the film. I think Mark saw it. Can anyone tell me where to find it? As for the song, we plan on recording it again in this next session .

There’s a bunch of movies called Sam listed on IMDB.com, I have no idea if the one you’re talking about is amongst it. Any more info so people can try to find it?

I honestly have no more info on this film.

Probably will not be that easy to find then hehe. What’s the future got in store for Supertouch? I know you guys wrote new material, I even heard about a Discharge sounding song? Any idea when that will be recorded / released yet?

Future plans for Supertouch right now: Recording in March, for 2 compilations (1 for the Triple B Records compilation “America’s Hardcore Volume 2” and one for a split 7″ on Horror Hotel Productions – Pim) and another EP (4 tracks on Reaper Records – Pim). Playing the Revelation show out in California, as well as random gigs coming up in Louisville, KY and Detroit, Michigan.

The new EP is going to move a little heavier than the ‘Lost My Way’ EP. The comp songs are going to be very different.

Sounds good! Must be cool to play that Revelation show for you guys, hooking up with old friends? I do miss the announcement of an European tour though hehe.

Looking forward to this Rev show. Haven’t played in California since 93.

Can you tell anything about the new material? Will that Discharge sounding song be amongst it? Is it a bit like the last EP?

The new material is coming along. Don’t really know how to describe it all yet. The new EP is going to move a little heavier than the ‘Lost My Way’ EP. The comp songs are going to be very different.

Can’t wait to hear them. So after Supertouch you played in a couple of other bands right? I just realized I saw one of your bands. When Reaching Forward played their final show at the Goudvishal in Arnhem (2002) you guys were playing too with Running Like Thieves. Do you remember that show?

Yes! Awesome night.

For sure! That night got us totally hooked on oldschool, where we played bad metalcore before. Reaching Forward were amazing that night, completely blew me away. That venue is no more though, it’s a house now, which sucks. All the cool venues are having a hard time or seem to be getting closed down these days. What are your favorite venues to play, past and present?

All the great venues in NYC have been shut down too- CBGB, Wetlands, Coney Island High. These were some of my faves. There’s new ones though: Santos Party House, Saint Vitus in Brooklyn, and the Cake Shop.

The Anthrax Club in Connecticut was awesome. Ct. still has some very cool places to play. The Pipeline in NJ was a great place. New places in NJ are Dingbatz in Clifton, The Kearny Irish Club in Kearny, and the Lanes in Asbury Park. Maxwells in Hoboken is still open.

I was in Windfall from 1999 to 2003. The main songwriters were Jeff and our singer Jennifer. When the two of them stopped writing with each other, and stopped talking, the music suffered. After being involved with the band 4 years, I got burned out and left.

As for Running Like Thieves. How did you end up in that band?

Andy Guida asked me to join, when their guitar player quit in 2000.

Of course, could have thought of that. Any other bands you did? I know you played or play in Voice Or No Voice as well. Is that still a band?

Voice or No Voice lies in a dormant state right now. Our singer moved to Florida. Other bands I’ve played in are World Indifference, Iron Lung, Windfall with Jeff Terranova of Up Front.. Windfall actually got to tour Europe twice.

What kinda bands were World Indifference and Iron Lung (I know about a ‘grindcore’ band with that name, but that’s not the band you played in)?

Iron Lung and World Indifference were quite similar to Supertouch. A mix of hardcore/metal/rock.

Gotta try to dig that stuff up sometime then. As for Windfall touring Europe, probably before my time Jon. I think I might have heard that name before, but I never heard the music. Just checked it out (internet sure speeds things up), sounds good. Female vocals, you don’t hear those that often. How was it to play in that band?

I was in Windfall from 1999 to 2003. It was an interesting band that never really got off the ground. The main songwriters were Jeff and our singer Jennifer. When the two of them stopped writing with each other, and stopped talking, the music suffered. After being involved with the band 4 years, I got burned out and left. I was also playing in Running Like Thieves at the time, so I got tired of playing in 2 bands. I enjoyed my time in Windfall. The tours were a lot of fun, and the people in it were very cool.

Something else, do you check other current bands? If so, any favorites?

I try to get out and see bands. Haven’t had the chance to see hardcore/punk bands lately. I did get to see Gwar and Everytime I Die back in October. I usually catch my favorite blues guitarist, Billy Hector, once a month in NYC. Most of the hardcore I see are the bands Supertouch play with. Some of the best are Give (from DC), Living Laser (Upstate NY) and Caught In A Trap (NYC), just to name a few. Also this band from the Netherlands called ‘Said and Done’ are really good! You should give them a listen some time. Oh and one more, Too Many Voices from NJ is really good.

As to what inspires me? Work. I want to tour, record and write in Supertouch. It’s really all I’ve ever wanted.

Hahaha, thanks Jon, honest to god it wasn’t my intention to make you say that haha. Good suggestions though. Give is good and Living Laser I’ve heard before too, parts reminded me of the Bad Brains which is never a bad thing. I’ll check out that blues guitarist.

Let’s get a bit more personal. Who is Jon Biviano? What defines you? How do you see yourself? What or who inspires you in life?

I’m all about work. Playing in Supertouch is fun, but takes a lot of energy and money. I enjoy it. My full-time job is driving a truck, which is not too fun, but helps pay the bills. It’s a living, and it allows me enough free time to play in a band.

As to what inspires me? Work. I want to tour, record and write in Supertouch. It’s really all I’ve ever wanted. I’ve played in other bands, mainly because Mark didn’t want to do ST anymore. Some of those bands were pretty good, but not the same. There’s something about my first band, my only real band.

Here’s something interesting: In the Summer of 1978, AC/DC did 67 dates in North America, as well as a full UK tour and a full European tour. Now that’s inspiring.

In one summer? That’s inspiring indeed. Can we get more Jon Biviano trivia facts? Let’s wow our readers haha.

Jon Biviano facts? I’m ordinary. Been driving a truck now for 16 years. Don’t like it, but do it anyway. I live for my music. Take for example last wednesday night (2-22-12). Supertouch had a gig at the Lit Lounge in NYC. So, I worked a regular day from 6am to 2pm, practiced with the band from 6pm to 8pm, then did the gig at midnight and got home by 1:30. Went back to work thursday at 6am. Some people would say that’s just plain nuts, or stupid. It ain’t no big deal.

Haha I meant facts like those AC/DC tourdates, but this is even better. Something else, are you spiritual or religious Jon?

I’m not a religious person. I was forced to go to church every Sunday until I moved out of my dad’s house, when I was 17 years old. I haven’t been to a Mass since. I’ll go to weddings and funerals, but that’s it.

I’m ordinary. Been driving a truck now for 16 years. Don’t like it, but do it anyway. I live for my music.

Are you happy?

Yes, I’m a happy person. I like to drink a few pints and hang out. I love watching football (soccer) all day here in NYC. So does my girlfriend. She’s an Arsenal supporter, Hahaha. We get all the leagues: EPL, Serie A, Bundesliga, La Liga, etc… . Looking forward to the Euros this Summer. Cheers!

How about Ajax? We won from Manchester United this week haha.

I think it’s funny Man. U. are out of the Champions League. NYC is loaded with these Man U. bandwagoners. Most of them will be wearing Man. City jerseys next season! Hahahahahaaaa

Hahaha. Looking back at your life so far, anything you would do different if you had the chance?

Don’t know. Life has been pretty ok. Can’t complain. I guess if I could change one thing, I would have fought a lot harder to make sure Supertouch didn’t stop playing back in 1996.

What’s the moment you’re the proudest of in your life so far?

Stopped smoking cigarrettes. Stupid habit.

Good one Jon! Been there, done that too. Where do you see yourself in, let’s say, 20 year?

I hope I’m retired, having a pint and watching West Ham in my local. Maybe by that time they can win the League and Europe. You never know!

Life has been pretty ok. Can’t complain. I guess if I could change one thing, I would have fought a lot harder to make sure Supertouch didn’t stop playing back in 1996.

I hope they do Jon, maybe a final between Ajax and West Ham haha?

We should watch together. There’s are barstool here in NY waiting for you. I’ll save it for you.

Sounds good haha. Anything you always wanted to talk about in an interview, but never got the chance to?

I’d just like to say that the G.O.P in my country is completely insane. Can’t believe anyone takes them seriously.

People in general are just not that smart Jon… Who do you think we should interview next, and why? Should we ask him/her anything in specific? Not promising we will, but we just might…

Greg from the now defunct band ‘Charge’ (from NJ). He’s working on something new, called EONS.

Man, I LOVED Charge! I’ve asked their bassplayer (Shawn) a million times to reunite and come to Europe already haha. That Universal Tribe EP is amazing. I’ll see what I can do would love to see something new coming out of that. But that’s it for now Jon. I’m all out of questions, do you have any last words?

Say hi to the rest of the band. Hoping to return to Europe very soon. Thanks for the interview. Cheers!

I will! Thank you for your time and we’ll be waiting for you guys, had a blast last time.

Band Supertouch

Photo credits Cenk Eryaman, Rebecca Bolte, David Sine. All photos taken from Jon’s and Supertouch Facebook.

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1 response to Jon Biviano

  1. Nico said on 2012-03-23

    Nice interview, stoked for the new songs.

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