mikeYou might think you’re hardcore. I mean, I don’t know you, you might even be hardcore. But do you know who is probably even more hardcore than you? The guys from Genetic Control.

Why? Well, when most of us get together in our teens with the general idea of “let’s start a hardcore band” we’re probably not going to still be in that same hardcore band coming up on 35 years later. But Genetic Control are still playing hardcore punk rock with the same lineup they had in 1983.

The same band that was opening for Dead Kennedys and Suicidal Tendencies in the 80’s will be opening for the likes of The Dropkick Murphys and Rancid on Friday, July 28th at ’77 Montreal.

Yeah, that’s pretty hardcore.

Mike Price (aka Zabo or Polio Elvis) answered a few question from 9to5 (dot cc) about what it is like being a page out of Montreal’s punk rock history book:

Keith: How did Genetic Control get together? Maybe more importantly, how did you get BACK together? Taking a 13 year break after only 3 years of being together seems rough.

Mike: Genetic Control was a genetic mutation that occurred when 2 incomplete local Montreal bands decided to combine forces. “Drunken Disturbance” was Rob Porter and Mike Brisbois, a guitar player and drummer and they were looking for a singer. “Out Of Step” was a singer (myself), a guitar player (Rob Huppé) and a bass player (Dougo Crevier) and we were looking to replace a recently departed drummer. We started jamming in winter 1983 and recorded our first record in spring of 1984 with yet another drummer and our final drummer Louis Leveque AKA Late Lewis and the ‘rest is history’ as they say.

After playing our last show in August of 1985, we took nearly 13 years off. Our first reunion, if you will, was a result of an offer to play the 15th anniversary of Les Foufounes Electriques in May 1998. We accepted the offer to play the festival and as a result of playing that show we received other offers to play more shows. Since then have been playing randomly every so often. It seemed natural so we just went with it. We also played with The Misfits in October of 1998 and recorded the show and released a live CD.

K: In 1983 was there any question about what kind of music you would be playing as a band? Or was it just automatically going to be hardcore?

M: We were a hardcore band right from the beginning. Hardcore was the most popular style of punk happening at the time and all of the local bands were playing hardcore. Some bands were influenced by British hardcore punk, but most bands were influenced by the American hardcore scene, as we were. We would jam songs by Bad Brains, Minor Threat, The Meatmen, Bad Religion to name a few, but also Alice Cooper & AC/DC and anything else that we thought was cool at the time.

K: Montreal ’77 is a celebration of the explosion of punk that occurred around the 1977 date. Several seminal punk bands had formed earlier, but it was 1977 that saw a string of releases from acts like Iggy Pop (his first solo album), The Clash, The Sex Pistols and The Ramones (who released both their second and third albums in ’77) that really forced punk into cultural significance. 40 years later, the genre is still going strong. To Genetic Control, what is it about punk rock that is so important that keeps it around in 2017? For that matter, what keeps you guys doing it after 34 years?

M: I remember saying to friends back in the early ’80’s that I would always be a punk and as it turns out I was right. I still listen to punk and as a matter of fact the bands I still listen to the most are the Ramones, The Sex Pistols and The Clash. These bands have stood the test of time and we plan to play a tribute to these bands at ‘77 Montreal. The thing that keeps punk rock going strong 40 years later is that the genre is timeless and socially significant. The scene/movement never burned out.

In the mid to late ’80’s I think it took a dip as the metal scene started to grow, but there was still a loyal scene. That smaller, loyal scene paved the way for bands like Green Day, Blink 182, Sum 41 etc. that introduced punk rock to a new generation. Since that time other significant bands like Nirvana have helped open the door for punk rock to force its way almost into the mainstream. Punk is no longer a dirty word. It has earned its musical and political respect and is in fact one of the longest lasting genres in recent years. Punk has had a longer run than hard rock or the music of the 60’s. Those movements were short-lived and the torch was passed to punk and the sound of that revolution has stood the test of time all these year latter and still going strong.

I think it will be around for many years to come as it is the ultimate musical statement in my opinion. For Genetic Control, we are a supply and demand band. If promoters want us to play they let us know and we usually rise to the occasion. The fact that we are all spread out across the country from Montreal to Vancouver is a bit of a challenge, but we always find a way to make it work. We don’t tour or play just for the sake of playing, but rather try to come together for significant shows like ’77 Montreal etc.

We don’t play shows for profit; we only play when we feel right about the show. What keeps us going is the love of the music and the fact that we can still pull it off with all of the original members. So when we play, it’s not a rehash or a thrown together band with one or two original members. That is they key ingredient: to keep it original and pure to our humble beginnings. The music and the scene deserve no less.unnamed

K: Obviously the punk scenes of London, New York and LA are the things of legend, with countless documentaries and books devoted to the history and current state of those scenes. Montreal might be a little less internationally recognized as a punk city, but still has always had a strong punk rock scene. What makes Montreal’s punk scene unique compared to other cities? Unlike most of the other local bands in the lineup, you guys were living it.

M:Montreal had a strong scene from around late 1981-1985. and unlike any other North American Cities it had a very unique european vibe and feel. This translated not only to the sound of local bands but spilled over onto the touring bands and they left Montreal with a strong sense of who we were and what we were all about. We were political, socially active and unique in language and culture, something that all Montrealers are very proud of and justifiably so, like myself and Genetic Control as well for that matter. When I started promoting bands and shows around 1981 everything was DIY. I found venues for bands to play at and brought hardcore bands to Montreal when no one else was doing it. That lasted until about 1985: the day the music died in my opinion. I also rented an old building on Bleury Street which would be nick named the BBC (Bleury Beach Club), which also the origin of Montreal hardcore a real breeding ground of talented people who made positive contributions to the scene. The BBC spawned most of the bands in the MTL Hardcore scene. Fair Warning, Genetic Control, No Policy and Unruled to name a few.

The fact that Montreal was a French city set it apart from all other North American cities. This left an indelible stamp on all the touring bands that took a chance to play here as a lot of the popular bands back in the day did not make it to Montreal to play for various reasons. However when  I was fortunate enough to be able to booked bands like (The Dead Kennedys, Black Flag, GBH, The Ramones, The Vibrators and Discharge to name a few) they were most often surprised to arrive in a foreign city. A city that was not English and had strong European roots, with a strong social opinion, culture and political perspective of the world. And this was expressed by the young Montreal punks and bands at the time. 
Genetic Control played with several of the bigger touring bands at the time because we were playing that American style with a very aggressive sound that fit well on the bill. While we didn’t sound particularly like any one specific band we were often mistaken for an American band. However, we have always been proud to point out the fact that we were a Montreal based Canadian band. I guess you could say that we were on the map for a very brief and glorious moment and I am glad that Genetic Control was able to contribute to that scene musically and historically even thought it was short ride while lasted, until we inevitably imploded. and the rest is history as they say…


K: Normally when you think of a punk venue, you imagine a dark little hole in the wall, with the band on a stage maybe a foot off the ground and a ceiling you could probably touch. The festival is going to be outdoors, with most of the acts playing during the day. You guys going to be hitting the stage at 1:30 in the afternoon, so barring rain it’s going to be hardcore in the sunshine. What’s your plan to bring energy to a crowd on a Friday afternoon?

M:We plan to deliver the hardcore goods as we are the only hardcore band playing the festival. I hope that there are some hardcore fans at the show. We will employ our usual means of inciting and energizing the crowd with our hard-driving music, witty humor and our almost expected surprise tactics. It will be more than just a performance; it will be a Genetic Control house party just like every show we have always played. We are not out to change the world, just to try to entertain some of our close personal friends and take people back to the year of 1984. And to show what that year meant to us a band and young teenage punks. I am sure that people will sense our sincerity and that will energize their hearts. So, nothing new or different for us.

K: Finally, so many bands seem to just break up and disappear. Even if you had a nearly 13 year hiatus and you’re only back together for limited engagements due to band members’ currently living in different cities, what’s the secret to keeping a band together more than 3 decades?

M: Good question. I guess the fact that we are alive and healthy (touch wood) and the fact that we still love the music. Let’s be honest, the honeymoon was over a very long time ago. In fact it was a very brief one at that. However, much like any long-lasting successful marriage, which is what playing in a band is like, all parties need to be disciplined and see the big picture. It is about compromising, not getting your way, and doing what is best for the band. It is not all wine and roses by any stretch, but when we get together and play the music; it makes it all worth it. After all, that is what brought us together and it is the glue that holds us together.

These are my Gen Con brothers:
Rob Porter aka Bobby Casino, Teen Hunk Rob – Guitar
Rob Huppé aka Kung Fu, Duke Crystal -Guitar
Douglas Crevier aka Dougo, Dick Pagent -Bass
Louis Lévesque aka Late Lewis, Max Cha-Ching – Drums & Recycling

Be sure to get to ’77 Montreal early to see Genetic Control hit the stage at 1:30 pm, July 28th. Tickets and more info HERE.

In the meantime, if you weren’t sure about whether or not you should show up to ’77 Montreal early, give “Suburban Life” a listen and make the right choice:

Keith does all sorts of things here on 9to5.cc, he works with the other founders on 9to5 (illustrated), co-hosts our two podcasts: The 9to5 Entertainment System and Go Plug Yourself and blogs here as The Perspicacious Geek.