Many stories lurk throughout Asheville, whether they are behind the Vaudevillian jazz-folk played by buskers around Pritchard Park, the colorful businesses decorated with funky, hand-made crafts or the laughter echoing from a patio as locals and tourists alike enjoy delicious beer. Mad Dog, 35, originally from Massachusetts
Mad Dog says punk isn't dead, just on life
support. Photo by Jimmy Raines.
“I’m not censored, so any questions you have, shoot.”
Great. So in terms of your style, what would you describe it as?
“I’m just an old punk rocker. I’ve been doing it for 20-something odd years and never grew out of it.”
Have you seen some good bands?
“Psh. I know some good bands. Agent Orange. That’s the only band I actually have on here (his vest). I build custom bicycles and I’ve got a little club, too, called Lowdown Punks. All the patches on my back, they’re all bicycles.”
When did you start building bikes?
“Oh shit, six years ago? Give or take. Something like that. I’ve got a Facebook page. You should check it out.”
Mad Dog Bikes?
“No, Lowdown Punks. That’s actually me on the bike, my first build.”
Cool. Do you make the patches yourself?
“No, no. Friends, bands I’ve seen, you know. These bands, most of them don’t even exist anymore. (Gestures to patches on pants) Miami, West Palm Beach, New York, Vero Beach, Orlando. That’s about it for those pants.”
Mad Dog is proud to display his eclectic assortment
of patches and pins. Photo by Jimmy Raines.
What were the best and worst concerts you’ve ever been to and why?
“Well, there’s a lot of bests. I can’t determine just one. I’ve got so many. I’d have to say two. The last Agent Orange show I went to, they brought me up on stage because I know all of them and they let me introduce the band at The Orange Peel and we got to hang out with them. Mike was actually coherent, the singer. He could talk. The second one on that would have to be the Genitorturers show at The Odditorium a few months ago with my wife. They brought her up on stage and if you’ve never seen the Genitorturers or Agent Orange, you should check em’ out. Fantastic.
The worst? There was a show in Florida with a band that was on the CD release party and there’s two on this one, too. What was the band? Propaganda? Gunfight! Gunfight was the band, hardcore band and South Florida, in the hardcore scene, it’s violent. From West Palm down, it can get pretty violent. We were at the show and the whole, entire bar turned into a brawl. All because somebody threw a beer. He was kind of an outsider to that form. He was more of a skatepunk. He was a hardcore, y’know, kid. I don’t care about labels. I go to all the shows. Fuck it, you know? It erupted. People were drunk, sweaty, you know, aggro, it’s South Florida and there was blood, teeth and hair on the floor. I actually jumped in the middle and tried to separate, tried to get the guy out of there. But I’m a little guy and going up against a 250-pound, muscle-bound, just-got-out-of-prison skinhead, anti-racist. I will say they all are pretty much a color-blind crew. They’re anti-racist, a lot of good guys in there. He hit him, and the color-blind guy was like, ‘Nah, you can’t hit a skinhead.’ It went from there and I just looked at her and said go outside, get these two kids some help and that was about it.
The second one on that would be the Coldside show in Melbourne. A riot broke out and riot cops showed up and all that jazz and it was actually for a video shoot for the band called This Is Our Time. There’s a lot of shows that just ended badly, riots, fights and shit like that, cops showing up in riot gear, a couple of guys tear gassing. They just show up and start beating people up in the parking lot. It was a flashback to the ‘80s. Bad. South Florida. Violent. It’s violence.”
One of the stereotypes people have about punk culture is that punks appreciate and crave fighting. Is that something you feel to be the case?
Well, I’m 35 now. I walk away. There was a time when I was on a lot of drugs and shit like that, and I’m 10 years sober now. But yeah, I just wanted to get my aggro out and just fight. That’s what I grew up around was violence in Florida. I’ve just gotten to the point where it’s no point. Fight for something real, man. Don’t fight each other. You really want to fight somebody? Grow some balls. Fight a cop, you know, when he’s swinging a baton at you. Fight that rich kid that wants to fucking make fun of you. Fight that Neo-Nazi who wants to come in and destroy the show. You really want to do something? Do something like that. But, yeah, we can be violent. But usually, it’s a push-comes-to-shove thing. Nine out of 10 times, we’re not even looking. We’re just going for a show, you know? But if somebody steps on our toes, just like the Vikings, don’t, no, just straight up, no. We will not be put down like that. We’ve taken shit our whole life. That’s why we became the real punks, because we’re getting shit everywhere around us, so we finally find a tribe of people that we can relate to. The energy in the pit and the sound of the music is speaking our language. It’s just, like, these are my people, you know what I mean?It’s give or take, you know? 75 — 25, pretty much, you know what I mean? I hope that makes sense.”
No, that makes a lot of sense. There are older punks who see the younger generation and say that punk is dead —
“Punk’s not dead! It’s on life support. I’ll give it that. A lot of the kids need to understand what it is, where it came from and what it’s about. It was about a community back in the day. It was coming together, DIY, doing it yourself, make the fliers, make the posts, put on the shows, you know? But don’t rely on the big companies to do this for you, because if you’re trying to get into punk to make it big, you’re in the wrong scene. It ain’t gonna happen. I pretty much stand with that too. My thing is, yes, we can get violent and the mosh pit is letting out your aggression with your friends, you know? Just to let out the aggression and if we have to stand up for ourselves, then we will. But we also stand up for each other. There’s the problem. The new generation wants to target people. Like, I’ve been stopped here in Asheville for trying to pit and they’ll grab my shoulder and say, ‘you need to calm down. You need to chill out. It’s a show.’ Well, when you’ve got somebody screaming ‘fuck you’ on the stage at the top of their lungs and really getting into it and screaming punk rock lyrics about anarchy and chaos and fuck the police, all that, I’m not allowed to dance? No, I’m gonna grab you and throw you into the pit. Don’t tell me I can’t pit. You know what I mean?”
Yeah. That’s the point.
“That’s the point, you know, and it’s kids doing that. I’m not trying to say ‘let’s beat these kids up,’ but at the same time, I’m looking at them like, ‘I shed blood for you.’ Just like in World War II, all those veterans that came home fought for us. Now, World War II is a valid thing, because we were fighting Nazis. That was a real, valid war. That was the last great war. I had my spikes ripped out of my head growing up. I got kicked to the ground. I had boot parties and everything and what they taught me was, if you’re gonna be dumb, you gotta be tough. If you’re going to be in this scene, grow a pair. You have to be tough in this scene. Because if you can’t take it from us, there’s no way you’re going to take it from the fascists and the rednecks and everybody else out there on the street. I don’t like what they did to me and I won’t do that. I won’t, you know? I will explain it to them, you know? How do I put this? What we went through was hell, you know? We’ve got the battle scars to prove it. The tattoos and flash that I see these days, it’s like, yeah, it’s cool but what does it mean? ‘Oh, I really like this skull.’ They’re all badges, every single one of ‘em. These are shows. These are scars. This is what I’ve been through, you know?
I didn’t get ‘fuck the police’ across my stomach because I want to be trendy. No. I got ‘fuck the police’ across my stomach because I’ve been beaten down by cops just for being a punk. I spent a month and a half in a coma because of eight rednecks, just for being a punk. They wanted to call me a faggot and shit, screaming down the street with a big Confederate flag hanging out their door. I told ‘em to stop. They did. I had my bong in one hand. I had a smoke in the other. They surrounded me with baseball bats and tire handles and I looked at them and said, ‘this is gonna suck’ and they were like, ‘you got that right, faggot.’ Flicked my cigarette, bashed the guy in the head and that’s all I remember. I woke up in the hospital. It didn’t kill punk rock for me though, you know? If you’re gonna be dumb, you gotta be tough and don’t target the people in your scene. If you really want to target something, dammit, target what’s right: the people bashing other people for the way that they live. Because we are outcasts and that’s another reason why we stand here and we stood in downtown today. We were there.”
You went to the protest this morning?
Yeah, I stood right up there on the garbage can with a big, gay flag. I’m half-gay myself, you know? That’s what you stand up for. This is what punk rock is. You know, it’s not just the music and going to shows and being cool, because I don’t want to be cool. The cool kids are the ones that kicked my ass growing up. That’s why I got into punk, because I wasn’t cool. You catch what I’m saying? I don’t know. I feel like I’m rambling, but at the same time, it’s like, the kids have to understand that this is what we went through and the generation, the first generation of punk, they went through way worse than me. They were gettin’ killed. They were getting set on fire. My mom, before she passed, she was one of the original punks. She said it. She said, ‘yeah, I saw people getting set on fire just for being a punk.’ They’d roll by with hair spray and just spray it.
Oh my God.
“Oh yeah. They didn’t give a fuck back then. That was the ‘70s and early ‘80s. I was born in ‘80. So I saw the second wave where it was just where you got your ass kicked. That was about it, you know? Maybe a coma, beer bottles thrown at you, shit like that.”
In terms of the Forever Tattoo protest, did you hear about Forever Tattoo through friends, or how did it happen?
“I used to walk by and it always looked empty. I gotta admit I have a fear of it getting violent at some point, but not from our end. There’s a lot of stories on WAX and other Asheville pages that people are coming out and saying, ‘oh yeah, they’re spitting on them.’ ‘They’re pissing on their building.’ That’s not happening. We’re here almost everyday peacefully. There might be some cussing. I’ll give you that, you know? But when a kid walks by, we attempt to censor ourselves. There is no, all that urinating on the building and all that crap, that’s bull. That’s hearsay. I’m going to stand on the side of LGBT. Like I said, I’m halfway there. I’m also a professional female impersonator, Vicious Kitten, on Facebook. I’m a jack-of-many-trades: blacksmith, promoter, female impersonator, bicycle builder, whatever else.”
If you were to say one thing that you like about Asheville and dislike about Asheville, what would you say?
“I like the fact that I can walk down the street and nobody gives me shit, whether I’m in a dress or I look like this. Bad thing? Bigotry’s coming out. The new bigotry. I don’t like it. You’re in the wrong town. Get out. This is a very open-minded, very boiling-pot-of-everything-in-the-underground kind of place. My motto is ‘support and unite the underground,’ not just punks. Punks. Skins. Bikers. Anybody who’s ever been pushed around by ‘normal society,’ band together, because they might have some guns, but we got the numbers and guns. We’ve got that shit too, but there’s more of us than there are of them, if you catch what I’m saying.”
Yeah, yeah. So if you were to describe yourself in the sentence, Mad Dog is ___, how would you finish that?
“I’m just a guy trying to live my life and do the right thing. Honestly, I want a family, you know? I want to do my thing and just live happily and see other people happy, that’s it, you know? I like to see other people happy. I don’t know where else to go from there.”
Bailey Hadeland, 29, vintage store employee originally from Asheville
Bailey Hadelund discusses moving back to her
native Asheville from Florida. Photo by Jimmy
In terms of what you’re doing out here today, describe what made you want to come out and support this cause.
“As someone who grew up here, it’s really bothersome that a business could make these kinds of statements. Also, the different allegations of sexual assault, it sounds like this has been going on for at least 12 years and it makes me really, really upset, because this kind of stuff didn’t happen before here when I was growing up here. It’s not how I like to think of this town. Also, I worked in the body modification community. I have tattoos. My husband was a tattoo artist for many years. He’s like 10 years older than me and he still remembers a time when people with body modifications, and I’ve seen it too, people with body modifications were denied service places and they’re still denied jobs in some parts of this country. For a community that has been judged for so long to judge another community, it’s disgusting.”
Switching gears, in terms of your style, how would describe it? It’s very interesting.
“Riot grrrl. I’m kind of a mix of different things depending on the day.”
Yeah. What inspires you creatively?
“Everything. Music is a really big inspiration to me, you know, hearing a song I connect with, life experiences, you know, whatever’s going on in my environment around me.”
In terms of moving back to Asheville, what are your thoughts on how it’s changed since you’ve last been here?
“Like I said, this kind of stuff is new, people being hateful. That’s new. It’s really unfortunate that bigotry is starting to rear its ugly head, especially since we came from a very close-minded town in Florida. It’s definitely gotten bigger.”
-At this moment, an elderly woman stopped at a light rolls down her window and shouts how the “people in Raleigh don’t understand that we’re all human beings.” She thanks the protesters for what they are doing and drives away.-
“I love seeing old people say things like that. It’s great. It’s not just our generation. But yeah, trying to think of how it’s changed, it’s definitely gotten a lot bigger. Traffic has gotten really bad. Parking was never good, but it’s terrible. You were at least guaranteed to find some parking spaces when I was here before. I ride my bike now that it’s nicer out. It’s definitely changed in a lot of ways. I’ve seen some evidence of gentrification, a lot of evidence of gentrification. I remember when Lexington was the part of town my parents didn’t want me to go. I remember being a teenager and my parents being like, ‘Don’t go down there. Somebody got stabbed there once.’”
Yeah, there was a guy who’s been living here for 20 years talking about all the blood that was spilled on the street of Lexington.
“Yeah, this used to be the place that, if something happened, it was here and now there’s tourists walking around going, ‘oh, yeah! It’s beautiful!’ Rent’s gone up a lot. That’s about it and I think a lot of that has to do with when population grows so rapidly, you know, you attract so many people.”
Do you have a personal motto that you live by on a daily basis?
“I remember hearing a protester saying this when I was a teenager. It’s not something that I personally made up, but it’s something that I’ve used for a long time: ‘I’m not trying to change the world, I’m just not going to let the world change me.’ I got it from one of the first protests I ever went to when Bush declared war on Iraq the second time around.”
So if you were to describe yourself in one sentence, what would you say?
Mad Dog: “My awesome wife!”
Bailey: “I am a very ordinary, unordinary person.”