Garden State Skate: Menace and the Hellfire

by John Bis,
On September 14, 2010 I sat down with Dennis Zyla (lead vocals, songwriting) and Ed Mulcahy (drums) of Menace And The Hellfire for an interview. If you don’t know who they are, well you should…

What do you think about the skate scene these days?
(DZ) The skate scene today is pretty much terrible compared to what it was back in my day. It was more of an outlaw, independent, type of escape but today it’s more of a jock, herd type of attitude. There may be some exceptions to that rule obviously… Then it was more about individualism, you get a skate board and skate for yourself and it kind of went hand in hand with punk rock, more of an outsider mentality. Today there’s more of a herd mentality and it’s more like a sport and everyone’s judging every single move you make and it’s more like, competitive and a sport than it is lifestyle anymore.

When was the last time you skated?
(DZ) I actually skated about 3 weeks ago with Eddie and I almost ripped my ACL and he basically broke his tail bone and we’ve been out of commission since. We’re not really big vert and ramp guys so it’s probably like the 3rd time we’ve been to a skate park. I know kids today are spoiled with these skate parks but back in the day we would kill to have a launch ramp but it is what it is.

What was the first board you ever had?
(DZ) It was probably the Executioner by Nash. The thing was probably heavier than me. My first serious board was a hand me down from my neighbor, the Vision’s old Ghost. I cherished that board even though I had many boards to follow.
(EM) My first board was a Nash, Skate Or Die and it was fully loaded. My first legit board was a Santa Cruz Slasher that I got for my 12th Christmas from the store, Freestyle in the Woodbridge Mall.

Who were some of your favorite skaters?
(EM) I always liked Mark Gonzalez, Natas Kaupas, Rodney Mullen, Tony Hawk. Most people today aren’t as relevant to skating as these guys were back when I started to skate.
(DZ) Didn’t have many favorites back in the day but I always related to the guys who were like the most fucked up looking dudes. The kind of people that no one wanted to be around. Christian Hosoi, Gator those types of guys.

Do you think Gator is going to hell?
(DZ) Hell is on earth right now first of all. Second of all, we all get a little excited sometimes and things can get out of hand and you gotta do what you gotta do right (laughs)?

How do you feel about the mall-ification of tattoo parlors and skate shops?
(DZ) It’s terrible there’s no more sub culture, there’s no more underground, no more escape for kids. There’s something not right about being able to get your nipples pierced, get a cheap skate board and a Cinnabun all at the same time
What is it about your music that makes it such a good fit with the skate culture?
(DZ) Our music is pure, real and raw. It brings you back to the old school approach of skateboarding to music. Though we can’t really relate to the skateboarding that goes on today our music is still aggressive enough that anyone can skate to it, especially our drum extravaganza.

What bands inspire you to play music?
(DZ) Believe it or not a lot of hard core bands. A lot of rock and roll bands. My favorite band of all time is the Sex Pistols. Madball, I like, Murphy’s Law, Agnostic Front, high energy stuff like that.
(EM) Throw Rag, The Weaklings, rock and roll bands like that make me want play.

What bands make you want to stop playing music?
(DZ)Sex Pistols, Madball, Murphy’s Law, Agnostic Front. All the same bands I’m influenced by basically. I have a love hate thing with music at this point in my life.
(EM) Most NJ bands, My Chemical Romance or any new post hard core band, Against Me, AFI type stuff. I’m not going to bash Green Day because it’s too easy.

What’s it like having 2 drummers in the band?
(DZ) It’s definitely an asset; it’s helpful to bounce stuff off each other. We wouldn’t be able to do our big fire, drum extravaganza without 2 drummers. It adds to the entertainment value of the show.
(EM) It’s a blessing and a curse having 2 drummers. In one sense it pushes you to be a better drummer but on the other hand there is another person in the band hearing every mistake you make.

You’ve been banded from several venues. Do you have any regrets?

(DZ) We have absolutely no regrets about being banned. We’re just trying to be as real as possible. We’re not trying to put on any fronts or to kiss anybody’s ass. Our show is our show and we’re not going to make any exceptions. All these bands that say “we’re a dangerous rock and roll band” and their band’s name is like Full Blown Chaos and it’s just some guys with long hair sitting with a brush in their back pocket strumming their guitar. We’re just living it up trying to do the real thing, playing how we feel. If someone treats us like shit then we treat them like shit. If they treat us good we’ll treat them good. It’s a very simple code of life for on stage and off.

Can you tell us about 2 places you’ve been banned from that stick out in your head?
(DZ) Asbury Lanes in Asbury Park, NJ. It’s a terrible place to begin with. It’s just a bowling alley with a bunch of retarded rockabilly kids sitting in the lanes texting each other about how beautiful each other’s tattoos came out that they each just got in the mall. We were also banned from Mountain Creek, NJ because it was a Christian venue and they had a problem with our lyrics. I don’t know what the retards who booked us thought they were getting with a band named “Menace And The Hellfire.” During our drum extravaganza where I set our drum kits on fire these idiots were trying to throw water on us.

Is there anything that you wouldn’t do on stage?
(DZ) Probably not but it’s not like we plan to go out there to get banned. I’m not going out there to purposely be like GG Allin and take “Exlax” before I step on stage. If I have to drop a shit while I’m on stage and I can’t make it to a restroom, which is probably unlikely to happen but if it does, I got a let it loose. If I like the venue I’ll drop it in a bucket. If I don’t like the venue, I’ll drop it on a monitor. Also animal abuse is something you won’t see us do. If my mouth was big enough you’d see me bite the head off a human before you see me bite the head off a bat (laughs).

What do you think when you hear people say you’re a cross between GG Allin and Buckcherry?
(DZ) I take it as a compliment. I respect GG Allin for what he meant for free speech and for reminding us that humans are still animals and bringing that whole aspect to life on stage. I also don’t agree with a lot of things he does because he did get a little too ridiculous in certain areas. Buckcherry, I like what they’re trying to do musically. We’re more of the real deal where they’re more with the nice shiny tattoos with streaks in their hair, glam guys and we’re not.

You’ve played music for most of your lives, you haven’t stopped when the going got tough, why?
(DZ) We have nothing else but music. It’s compulsive behavior now. The feel good effects of music stopped a long time ago.
(EM) Yeah, if we stop now, then all the years we put in would have been a waste. It would have been a useless endeavor.

What advice would you give to a new band starting out?
(DZ) I’d say don’t even bother. Don’t start there’s nothing going on anywhere, no scenes left. You’re better off just getting a career. Do yourself a favor, there’s nothing going on. If you want to put on a good performance do it with your lady and pretend like your Ron Jeremy for the weekend.

Tell us about your new CD in the works.
(DZ) The new CD we hope to have out by late 2011. It will contain 10 to 12 tracks, all new material. You’ll be able to find it like you can, the rest of our stuff all over the world via the internet. Itunes etc.

Menace And The Hellfire make the kind of music you want to hear when you feel like punching someone in the face but don’t want to be charged with battery...
So, download their songs grab your board and go skate!

For the latest info on the band go to:

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