Narrow talks to... Murphy's Law
The Narrow Interview… Murphy’s Law
By Danny Lore
Murphy’s Law is a hardcore punk band from New York City that formed in 1982. I was fortunate enough to catch their show at the Cameo Theater in June of 1987. I wasn’t familiar with their music when I walked through the front doors that night. I wasn’t prepared for what I was about to experience. I stumbled out of the Cameo bruised, battered and covered in
sweat but with a big smile on my face.
Murphy’s Law brought something new to the table. This was a time when East Coast Hardcore was dominated by tough guy bands and the shows were often violent. For me there are a few bands, that I feel, dared to break new ground in a scene that had very strict guidelines for what could be considered punk. The Descendents made it okay to sing about girls and love. The Dead Milkmen made it cool to add an element of humor into the music. Murphy’s Law brought the party. Their approach to songwriting was miles apart from the bands that surrounded them and made up the early NYC hardcore scene. They added an element of fun to their music, their shows and their scene. Bands like Agnostic Front, Warzone and The Cro-Mags set the foundation for what would be considered the NY hardcore sound. Although Murphy’s Law had a different style, members of those seminal bands would end up playing in Murphy’s Law at some point. The NY hardcore scene was all about respect and Murphy’s Law had it.
When I found out that Murphy’s Law was on tour and coming through Gainesville, I dusted off my old LPs and began reliving my youth in anticipation for this show. They did not disappoint. Jimmy G was front center holding the crowd in the palm of his hand the whole night. They tore through the set telling jokes and laughing the whole time. Jimmy passed around a couple bottles of Jager and armfuls of PBR to the crowd while he sang Attack Of The Killer Beers. At one point, Jimmy was rolling on the floor while holding a mic up to Raven’s sax as he blasted through a solo, flat on his back in the middle of the pit. It has been 37 years since the band first stepped onto a stage but they haven’t missed a beat. Jimmy G is easily one of the best front men that hardcore has ever had to offer.
After the show I caught up with Jimmy G. and we talked about the old times, the history of the band and what the future holds for Murphy’s Law.
Your approach to hardcore was totally different from the bands that were coming out of the NY scene in the early 80’s. You focused on making hardcore fun. Did you feel any push back because you weren’t trying to fit into the “tough-guy” mold?
No. Never. We didn’t want to fight at shows. We wanted to have fun. We were different and that made us stand out. But we were accepted from day one because we were different from the bands that surrounded us.
Where are you living now?
I still live in Astoria Queens where I grew up. I live 8 blocks from where I was born in a shack over a hot rod shop with Knobby Bones from Broken Bones. I live right down the street from where Kraut and the Cro-Mags were formed. I hear a lot of old bands claim New York but they don’t live here anymore. They’re living in retirement villages here in Florida and singing about New York. I’m still here.
You are known for throwing some Crucial Bar-B-Q’s back home. What were those like?
I used to have a house right across from the Chrysler Building. We would fill up the whole block when we had a Bar-B-Q. I like guns. There was a big tree in the backyard and I can still see Joey Ramone shooting that tree with an Uzi right off my back deck. Joey Ramone was a good guy. Johnny Ramone was a dick. I usually don’t speak ill of the dead. But I make an exception for Johnny Ramone. To know him is not to love him.
You used to own a tattoo parlor with Vinnie Stigma (Agnostic Front). Are you still tattooing?
No. The tattoo parlor was a beauty shop for ugly people. It was called New York Hardcore Tattoo and it was down the street from CBGB’s. That shop turned my friendship with Vinnie sour. Don’t go into business with friends.
I remember when you played in Ft. Lauderdale and a full-on riot broke out. Some of my friends were arrested. Tell me what happened.
The bouncers were beating up the kids and we tried to put a stop to it. A bouncer came up and took the mic. That was a bad idea. Windows were smashed, tear gas was thrown and all of our equipment ended up in the pool. Then I got beaten so bad by the cops I had an out of body experience. I woke up in the Broward County Correctional Facility with some kids from the show. The Federal Penitentiary holding cell was across from us and the guys that were locked up in there were yelling, “White boy were going to kill you.” I told them “I’ll be outta here in 5 minutes. You’re gonna be here for a long time getting fucked up the ass. Fuck you.” Then I took a shower, ate some shrimp and watched color TV in a fancy Florida jail. The jail was nicer than my hotel room.
What bands got you into punk rock?
The Dead Kennedys, Void, Scream, S.O.A. & Henry Garfield who later turned into some pretentious clown. He talks about our scene but he isn’t a part of it anymore. It’s easy to collect from it but it’s not easy to donate to it. He’s taken from us.
What’s your favorite thing about being in a band?
I’m here in Gainesville on a Wednesday night and people come out to see me.
What’s your least favorite thing about being in a band?
Driving 5 hours to get to the next show. We need a wormhole.
What advice do you have for the new generation of hardcore kids coming up?
Finish High School. Get some education. Learn a trade.
What do you do when you're not playing with the band?
I build motorcycles. I also do carpentry, I weld, I can finish wood and build bars.
What is on the horizon for Murphy’s Law? Are you writing new material?
We have a 10” ep coming out. It’s a concept record. All of the song titles are band names. Agnostic Front, Sick Of It All,,, I want to do something nobody's done before. There are bands that just do the same thing over and over. I’m trying to do something different.
It’s been some time since your last full length. Do you have any plans for that?
We just finished writing 13 new songs for our next album. I don’t just push songs out to appease people. This isn’t my living. It’s my life. I’m not here to sell records. I’m here to have a good time. Playing these shows is a way for me to come here and have a good time with you. I’m going to be dead honest with you. I’m not like my other friends that are on record labels and in “the business.” I’m not part of that.