The Wilding Incident Interview by Freddy Alva
THE WILDING INCIDENT- NYHC WOLFPACK
The Wilding Incident are a NYHC supergroup: featuring members that have done time in such noted outfits as Maximum Penalty, Crown Of Thornz, Life’s Blood, Mental Abuse to name a few. On the eve of their debut Ep Prey for the Wolfpack dropping; I spoke to guitarist Sacha Jenkins about the band’s roots, the meaning behind their name and sticking true to the original HC sound/attitude.
You and I are New Yorkers of a certain age and know what The Wilding Incident is, but to the uninitiated: what does this mean to you and why pick it as the band’s name?
In 1989, a white woman was brutally raped and left for dead in Manhattan’s Central Park. A bunch of kids of color who happened to be in the park that night got picked up by the cops. Boom: all of a sudden the NYPD has solved the case! These kids were likened to animals — they were dubbed a “wolf pack.” Their alleged rallying cry was “wilding.” All of a sudden, folks in the media referred to this tragedy as the “Wilding Incident.” Years and years and years and years and years and years and years and years later, by way of a jailhouse confession and DNA evidence, the so-called Central Park 5 were exonerated.
Back in ’89, Trump was screaming and beating his chest, talking about how these kids were guilty. And in 2016, Trump still feels the same way. Which is funny. Because, you know, white people fancy the power of science. Especially the rich ones…OK, so I’m generalizing. Folks from all walks of life respect science. Trump thinks the scientific findings in this case are bullshit. Meanwhile, five boys became men in prison; they had a sizable chunk of their lives stolen. They’ve been stigmatized. In the streets today, people are screaming “black lives matter” — which I initially thought was the most ridiculous catch phrase. But when you think about how simple the phrase is, it matches up with how flagrantly the system disregards whole groups of people. A cop is in the projects walking down a dark staircase with his gun out? WHY?! Then said cop actually shoots an innocent person. The cop — who happens to be of color, an Asian brother — gets no jail time.
Why the fuck are you patrolling the staircase with your gun out? It’s probably because you think you’re in a zoo. And in the zoo environment, ironically, the cops treat the people like pigs. But I digress. Besides — pigs are sensitive, intelligent creatures. I would never liken them to a police officer. I called the band The Wilding Incident on behalf of the Central Park 5 and on behalf of Trayvon Martin and Mike Brown and anyone else who had their lives damaged or stolen by the system that is supposed to protect all of us, but really just protects a chosen few.
PS: In addition to our debut EP, Prey For The Wolfpack, we have Nazi Trump Fuck Off! Shirts for sale at www.reaper-records.com. Shout out to the Dead Kennedys – as in Nazi Punks Fuck Off!
In the mid to late ’80s; I had never heard the term “wilding.” Do you think this was a media fueled and made up phenomenon?
The media totally blew “wilding” out of proportion. Back then, the term “whylin’” was popular in the ‘hood. It’s shorthand for “wilding out”—which simply means “having fun.” It doesn’t necessarily mean “brutally rape a white woman in Central Park.”
I actually saw one of the Central Park 5 on the A train going uptown — the Latino brother. I wanted to say something to him, but what do you say to someone who had his life ripped out from under him by a beast you couldn’t defeat with Godzilla as your general? No amount of money is going to give him back what they stole. I think it is important for people to understand this. I want to make music that says something.
Who came up with the concept for the band and recruited all the current members?
I saw OFF! And said to my friend and Wilding Incident bassist Noah Rubin, “If Keith Morris is still out here kicking ass with all of this fire behind him there’s no excuse for us.” I think legacy of Keith’s music — that kind of hardcore — still inspires me to this day. So vital. So primal. Direct. No need for an editor. Screaming shit. Hard chords. Ezec, who I took to his first hardcore show — blossomed into one of the great NYHC front men. Crown of Thornz is a classic NYHC band. I called him up, told him I had a bass player — who should hit the skins? “Jimmy Williams” — from Nausea and Maximum Penalty – he says. Fuck yes, Jimmy is NASTY. At our first practice out in Queens — shout out to our peoples at Astoria Soundworks — we wrote “Stop and Frisk.” The magnificent Chris Fist recently joined us on second guitar. Here we are now.
From what I heard live and recorded, it seems that you guys are going for an older, straightforward sound that harkens back to the earlier wave of ‘80s American Hardcore. Is this a conscious effort and what are your musical reference points?
Agnostic Front, Urban Waste, Bad Brains, Minor Threat, Reagan Youth, Cause For Alarm, Cro Mags, Black Flag, Blast! and now OFF! — those my reference points. Those were the bands that Noah and I agreed would inspire what we wanted to do. It’s not rocket science. It’s direct, it is powerful — at least those bands are. I wasn’t looking to keep up with the trends. I wanted to do something that was contemporary, but rooted in the essence of the hardcore that inspired me. I know that there’s gotta be other people who like the bands I just mentioned. To me, they represent the blueprint. I want to honor the tradition, but also add on to it.
I believe this is the first HC band you’ve done. What made you start playing HC now as opposed to when you were younger?
Actually, me and Ezec and Harry, who would up playing drums in 25 Ta Life and a bunch of other bands, had a band in highschool, which was ironically called 5-0. As in the police 5-0. In the years since, I’ve been in bands that weren’t necessarily in the hardcore vein, as I have varied musical interests. Noah and I were in a band called War Game for some time, and we’ve collaborated on a gang of music over the years. Noah has worked with Wu Tang and an eclectic range of artists from indie rock to electronic music, so through him I’ve been able to see and touch some interesting projects. I’m also in a band with Darryl Jenifer from Bad Brains called the White Mandingos. Philly HC legend Chuck Treece plays drums and West Coast rhyme-slayer Murs is on vox. We’ll be playing some dates again soon.
I was a roadie for Burn. I got to go to Boston and DC and Philly on some weekends back when we were kids. Music has always been my shit. Simultaneously, I was publishing ‘zines. My first ‘zine, a graf ‘zine called Graphic Scenes and X-Plicit Language, was a complete rip off of the New Breed Comp booklet. Matter of fact, Chaka hooked me up with your printer! From there, I published a hip hop newspaper called Beat Down. Then I would up writing for magazines like Vibe, Spin and Rolling Stone. Then I started to produce music-related books and television. I have been actively involved with music for the last 25 years, but moreso on the writing tip. Having the opportunity to roll with some of the biggest artists in the game has had an influence on me that I can’t even put into words. But hardcore ain’t about the money. Hardcore is about language and culture and legacy, and the freedom to say what you want in front of a group of super-turned on peers. The energy in the room when you are playing is nuclear.
All the members of the band are involved in countless other music endeavors. Do you see the band as an ongoing project as far as more recordings/touring?
Recording, touring – yes and yes. Early response to the record has been great. We’re opening for Bruce Springsteen and Mobb Deep. Actually, we recently opened for Mobb Deep, WuTang and Bodycount…
Tell me about this upcoming April release on Reaper Records, what are some of the lyrical themes and sound you were going for?
“Prey For The Wolfpack” screams from the perspective of the people who were branded as “animals” — and boy oh boy does Ezec howl like a wolf high on full-moon light beams. Anger, racism, police brutality, what one feels when they are marginalized by the system — this is what we’re building on with the record. Super psyched to be on Reaper. Patrick, label boss, has become a great friend and is a huge supporter and believer in the band.
All you guys come from a hip hop background. Do you think you will incorporate some “beats and rhymes” somewhere down the line?
Ezec sneaks in cool little hip hop accents and flourishes in a very tasteful way. I’m not necessarily a big fan of “rap rock,” but if anyone could pull it off the right way it would be us. I don’t want to put a label on what we do. Who knows what will happen next? Neil Young is a huge influence on my guitar playing. I think his playing is akin to Brian from Minor Threat’s playing, but maybe I’m the only nut who sees that.
You guys are continuing the synthesis of having graffiti writers playing in NYHC bands. What’s your take on this fairly unique NYC tradition?
Graffiti writers and hardcore heads — the synergy is seamless. Graffiti in New York will never be the same, but the idea that we also have roots in the subculture is something we are all conscious of. If you step out of line, Ezec might still go out there and rag your shit. And more.
I know you’re a huge Bad Brains fan. Name your 3 favorite songs by them and why?
“Destroy Babylon,” to me, is the pinnacle of their mojo. The message, the intensity in which H.R delivers it. I have all of these live shows from circa ’81 to ’83. H.R just sounds like a pissed off James Brown who is about to put his paws on you.
“FVK” is also a favorite. The arrangement is just BANANAS. There are too many dope songs to name. I can keep going. There’s a demo called “Send You No Flowers” that also has a crazy arrangement. Bad Brains, along with Public Enemy, had a heavy hand in me figuring out how to shape my identity way back when. I’d like to think I’ve evolved since then, but thinking about it now, all the music I’ve made, sentiment-wise, lands somewhere between P.E and Bad Brains.
Please feel free to make any last comments, shout outs etc.. Thanks man!
I’m happy to see Burn back together. Great to see my friends expressing themselves at such a high level. The new stuff they’re working on is next level. Awesome to see Madball bossing it up on a global level and demonstrating their styles everywhere. Great to see newer bands like Turnstile out here ripping shit up and killing it. Their bassplayer — I’ve never seen no shit like that since H.R.. Turn’t up hardcore is the future. I dig the band Angel Dust as well. The name says it all. The hardcore that raised me was dangerous, but there was great comfort in that danger. Which is essentially the essence of what New York as a whole felt like back when. NYHC until I go on that eternal sleep mission.
Shoutout to the good folks at BNB productions and to all of the promoters, bloggers and podcast folks who continue to support the scene and give bands like The Wilding Incident a shot. Every little bit matters.