[Originally published: Issue #4, circa 1987]
Although they only had one piece of vinyl released, UNIFORM CHOICE has become a definite force to be reckoned with in the hardcore scene. Their fast, hard-driving sound, complemented by intelligent, gritty lyrics have made them favorites of many Straight-Edgers and non Straight-Edgers alike. We had the extreme pleasure of talking with the band when they passed through Philly on their recent U.S. tour.
What’s your line-up?
PAT LONGRIE: I’m Pat Longrie, I play drums.
VIC MAYNEZ: I’m Vic Maynez, I play guitar.
PAT DUBAR: I’m Pat Dubar. I sing.
DAVE MELLO: I’m Dave Mello. I play bass.
How long have you been together?
PD: About 4 years.
DM: With this line-up, we’ve been together for two years.
What about UNITY?
PL: I started UNITY without Pat in the beginning. We got Pat into the band in 1983. We played around a lot, then we decided to break off and join UNIFORM CHOICE. UNITY and UNIFORM CHOICE were two different bands, and then UNIFORM CHOICE was having troubles with their drummer, so two years ago, I came into U.C.
PD: Vic and I started U.C.
Were you the singer on the demo? It didn’t sound like you.
PD: Yeah. Same line-up, except for the drummer.
What are your influences?
PD: I like U2 a lot…
PL: CULT, DEF LEPARD…
DM: BAD BRAINS, MINOR THREAT, DAG NASTY.
What differences do you see between the East and West Coast bands?
PD: I like it a lot better out here.
DM: There’s a better attitude.
PD: On the West Coast, there’s a tremendous amount of gangs.
VM: Yeah. There’s some unity here.
PD: Unity in the sense that everyone is cool to each other. Every show we’ve played, there haven’t been any fights. The scenes are smaller. Where we’re from, there’s like 1,500 people at every show. And, like half the people there are there to show who’s “king of the hill”, basically. They’re there to fight. With these shows, there’s a lot more of like kids diving onto other kids; if someone falls, they’re not bashed on. They’re helped up. It’s a lot more fun up here. There’s a lot more energy. We stopped playing where we live. We haven’t played there in like five months. To us, honestly, without sounding conceited, we’re the best thing around. We’re not appreciated there anymore. We give our 100% when we play, whether there’s 2,000 or 20 people.
PL: They’re not really interested in music anymore. It’s so big that people come from hundreds of miles around for the shows. It’s a big concert.
DM: A gathering.
PL: Yeah, it’s a gathering of all people who fight. They don’t care..
PD: They don’t care. A lot of times, you have lots of people in there, and six hundred don’t even know who’s playing. It’s like “Let’s just go and see who we can beat up.”
VM: And everyone hangs outside and causes a lot of trouble for the neighborhood, and then they close the club down.
TS: Does that make you want to relocate?
PD: No, it just makes us not want to play.
PL: We have a big crowd out there that’s totally into us, though.
PD: It’s still fun to play for the most part. There’s six or seven hundred people who still get into it. It’s still depressing when you’re playing and having people bashing everyone else. It’s just ridiculous.
TS: How do you view life?
PL: In a positive way.
PD: Be happy.
DM: That’s it. You have to work hard and be happy with yourself before you can go on and do other things.
VM: Respect other people.
What does Straight-Edge mean to you?
PD: To us, it’s anti-obsession. You don’t let vices control your life. Not necessarily, “Don’t do this and don’t do that!” It’s just you don’t let anything control your life, whether it is drugs, or alcohol, a girl, a guy …
Does that mean that sometimes you DO do that stuff?
PD: We don’t do it, but to us, it’s like we don’t come up and say “You’re messed up. You’re not Straight-Edge.”
DM: It’s an individual thing.
PD: It’s different to everyone. A lot of people say, “Oh, that’s just a cop-out.” Well, maybe I don’t want to be militant about Straight-Edge. It’s not what it means to me. Everyone interprets it the way it means to them. A lot of people think that’s a cop-out, or whatever. To us, you do what you feel. Don’t let anything control your life.
Tell me about your new release. When will it be out?
DM: It should be out in late September on Wishingwell.
How will it differ from your first LP?
DM: The new album is more musically oriented, a little bit more musicianship went into it.
Are you going to change the same way 7 SECONDS did?
PD: No. It’s music that’s more melodic, but it’s still hard. It’s a lot more complicated – more changes, different riffs, this and that. Everything flows together a lot better. The lyrical content is much more complex. Every song has many meanings. Each person can get their own meaning out of it. But they’re going to have to think to get something out of it.
Unlike your first album?
PD: Yeah. It’s not like POW! – right in the face. But it’s there. The power’s still there, but you have to reach inside yourself and pull it out.
Why the name UNIFORM CHOICE?
PD: We’ve seen asked this so many times. To us, there’s so many different choices in the scene, so many different types of people and bands, but we’re not striving for total unity, in the sense like “Everybody love each other.” Because, realistically, I don’t know if that could ever be possible. Just because we’re human. But to us, UNFORM CHOICE is like, you can only make one choice in unison (that’s what “uniform” means), and that is to care enough and respect other people for what they are and their rights. And you let them do what they want, until they infringe upon you – that’s when things have to stop. But until then, everyone should be able to be who they are and do what they want until they cross that line. You’re not necessarily the judge of that line, either. If you’re a guy with a skin head and you see a guy with a Mohawk, you don’t say “He crossed my line because he has a Mohawk.” That’s not it. If someone’s messing something up or infringing upon your rights as a human, that’s when you stop it. Otherwise, you respect people for what they are.
You new album will be connected with Relativity. What’s that?
PD: Relativity is a branch – like you have Combat and CombatCore. Basically, Relativity is just going to back us. The most important thing to us is to get our message out to as many people as possible. Right new, Wishingwell doesn’t have the power to do that. With Relativity’s backing, our album will be worldwide, reaching many more people. We want to broaden our horizons and audiences. That’s how Relativity is going to help us.
One of the things that I found interesting was the poems at the end of the UNITY EP and UNIFORM CHOICE album. Whose idea was that?
PL: It was spur of the moment. The one on the UNITY EP was an untitled poem we got from a book, and I wrote the second one – the one on the U.C. album.
TS: To what do you attribute your success?
DM: Perseverance and caring.
PL: We care enough that we want to reach out and give 100% whenever we play. Like, we care about the people who come to see us. That’s why we do our best every time we play. Because they’re the ones who put us where we are, and we will never forget how we got here. When we start to lose track, that’s when it’s over for us.
Are you guys getting burnt out from touring?
VM: No. We get stronger as we go.
PL: Every show has gotten better as we go along.
PD: Yeah, the first two weeks were brutal. The weather, man. Where we live, it’s always eighty degrees. In Washington D.C., it was like 100 degrees. We’re sweating our butts off.
What do you think of the Philly scene?
PD: Awesome. It was one of our best shows. Since Allentown and DC, every show has been killer. The first three were pretty lame.
Where’s the tour going to go now?
PL: CBGBs (NYC) tomorrow, Buffalo on Tuesday, Green Bay on Friday, Madison and Milwaukee Saturday, and then Chicago Sunday.
What do you miss most about home?
PD: My bed.
VM: My job.
PL: My friends.
PD: The weather. I can’t handle the heat. It’s the worst. It could be sixty degrees outside and I’ll go inside and turn on the air conditioner. I’m melting out here.
Pat, how long have you been letting your hair grow?
PD: Two years.
The picture on the album was taken that long ago?
PD: Yeah. All the layout and everything was done a year before it came out. It came out a year ago.
So you had problems releasing it?
PL: Yeah, lots.
VM: We had problems with the engineer. He was real cocky with it.
PD: He erased half the vocals. Stuff like that..
VM: He was real hard to deal with.
What about the compilation you’re doing, “A Changing of the Leaves?”
PL: Well, we have a bunch of new bands. We’ve been talking to and playing with along the trip. And instead of ten bands, we’re going to have like 15 or 20 bands. We’re just trying to gather a bunch of good band to put down good songs.
So there’s nothing totally definite?
PL: Like a date?
DM: That was put aside as we worked on our new album.
PD: This new album kills.
What will it be called?
PD: “A Wish To Dream.” It’s like, I don’t know. I really like it. I think everyone pretty much likes it. I think we all come off really well on it. We have to do two acre songs when we get home, and it’s done. Then we’re going to do a five song thing. It’s UNIFORM CHOICE. No more sounds like MINOR THREAT or JUSTICE LEAGUE. It’s us.
What do you do besides the band?
PL: School. Football. Pat plays baseball.
What are you studying?
PL: Organizational Communications, with a major in business.
Pat, where did you and Pat meet?
PD: High school.
PL: Me and him? I beat the crap out of him the first time I met him. A left hook to the jaw. Knocked him right to the ground.
PD: Actually, he came up to me one day at baseball practice in high school. He was the only guy there with longer hair than me.
Dave, how did you and Vic meet?
VM: We were in other bands.
PD: These guys were in a band called PLAIN WRAP. Then I met Victor. Our first drummer was my best friend in fourth grade. He lived like two blocks away from me. Then one day he got up and left. His family moved. I didn’t know where he went. I didn’t see him for like seven years. Then, when I was a junior in high school, I was at a show and I ran into him. Literally, 1 jumped off the stage and into this huge dude. It was like “Wow!” Then we started talking and said “Let’s get a band together.” He told me he played drums, I told him I sang for UNITY. So we started something. We put an ad in the paper and Victor answered it. Ever since then, we just kept it going.
DM: And two gigs later, you picked me up. .
PD: We only played a few times when Dave got in the band. And 2 years later we got Pat.
Do you all get along well?
PL: For the most part.
VM: When we were playing at first, we didn’t care about the money for recording and stuff like that. But when it started becoming more the business, then we started arguing.
DM: We’re having fun now.
PD: It wasn’t half as bad as we thought it would be on tour, as far as being at each other’s throats goes. But we had a week off, and got real antsy.
DM: We were aggrevated. We were in Boston for a weekend and we were just going nuts. But it was a great place.
PD: We all get along pretty well. We’re all the same age and we know what we want to do. We’re having fun. I don’t think the band will ever end sour. We’ll always be friends. We’d just quit first.
What do you think of the other bands that played tonight?
PD: Cool. Real powerful.
PL: PAGAN BABIES are real cool.
PD: Everywhere we’ve gone, we’ve played with pretty cool bands.
Have you had any trouble with cops?
ALL: Yeah! [laughter]
PL: I got caught going 9I in a 55 zone. Reckless driving.
PD: His name was Trooper Hooper.
PL: Picture Sergeant Hulka from the movie “Stripes.” This guy said “Boy, where in the hell do you think ya’ll goin’?”
PD: Yeah, he was going 91 in a 55 zone. He cut two people off the road. Our first show was in Detroit. We didn’t even sleep or stop. Nothing. We drove two and a half days straight. We got caught doing 91. No insurance. No money.
PL: I told him I like his uniform. [laughter]
PD: He wanted us to play at some big ranch thing.
VM: Yeah, A hoe-down at a dude ranch.
What’s your contact address?
PD: P.O. Box 9417 Fountain Valley, CA 92728. And please be patient with the mail. There’s only two people doing the mail orders.
PL: We lost a bunch of mail when we moved.
PD: We just recovered it.
VM: When I was doing the demo tape by myself, it was like a year before I got caught up.
PD: We try to answer every piece of mail that’s written. It was cool when there were like two or three pieces of mail a day. Now, there’s like twenty. You case downstairs and it’s like “Oh God, no!” And we get letters like “Where the hell’s my stuff? I sent for it two months ago!” And we have a hard time getting our t-shirts. Hanes will shut down for like two months and not even tell us.
PD: Philly’s a great place. We want to come back real soon. Thanks for the interview. I don’t know now everyone else feels, but we may not tour after this. It’s seen getting better though. So we’ll see.
Watch your record stores in October for “A Wish To Dream”. And until then, pray that they play somewhere near you, and keep on crankin’ up their first LP!